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to any other that had yet been made me, were my heart as free, as it was when she made her first proposal." And yet I own to you, my venerable friends, that I always think of Mr Orme with grateful pity, for his humble, for his modest, perseverance. What would I give to see Mr Orme married to some very worthy woman, with whom he could be happy!
Finally, bespeak for me her ladyship's favour and friendship; but not to be renewed till my lord is married-And may his nuptials be as happy as wished to be by a mother so worthy! But tell her, at the same time, that I would not, for twelve times my lord's 12,000l. a-year, give my hand to him, or to any man, while another had a place in my heart; however unlikely it is, that I may be called by the name of the man I prefer.
But tell Lady D
all this in confidence,
in the strictest confidence; among more general reasons regarding the delicacy of our sex, for fear the family I am with, who now love, should hate, and what would be still worse, despise your Harriet, for her presumption !—I think I could not bear that!-Don't mind this great blot-Forgive it—It would fall-My pen found it, before I saw it.
As to myself, whatever be my lot, I will endeavour to reap consolation from these and other passages in the two precious letters before me:
"If you love, be not ashamed to own it to us -The man is Sir Charles Grandison."
My affection is laudable; the object of it is a man not mean in understanding; nor profligate in morals; nor sordid in degree. All my friends are in love with him as well as I."
"My love is a love of the purest kind." "And I ought to acquiesce, because Sir Charles, compared to us, is as the public to the private. Private considerations, therefore, should be as nothing to me."
Noble instructions! my dearest two mammas! to which I will endeavour to give their full weight.
And now let me take it a little unkindly, that you call me your orphan girl! You two, and my honoured uncle, have supplied all wanting relations to me; my father, then, my grandmamma, and my other mamma, continue to pray for, and to bless, not your orphan, but your real, daughter, in all love and reverence, HARRIET BYRON-SHIRLEY-SELBY.
MISS HARRIET BYRON TO MISS LUCY SELBY.
Colnebrook, Tuesday, March 7. HERE I am, my dear Lucy, returned to this happy asylum; but with what different emo
tions from the first time I entered it! How did my heart flutter, when one of Sir Charles's servants, who attended us on horseback, pointed out to us, at the command of the ladies, the very spot where the two chariots met, and the contest began! The recollection pained me; yet do I not owe to that terrifying incident the friendship I am admitted into with so amiable a family?
Miss Grandison, ever obliging, has indulged me in my choice of having a room to myself. I shall have the more leisure for writing to you, my dear friends.
are very urgent
Both she and Lady L with me to shew them some of the letters in our correspondence; and Miss Grandison says, if that will encourage me to oblige them, they will shew me some of their brother's-Who would not be tempted by such an exchange? I am more than half afraid-But surely, in such a heap of stuff as I have written, there is something that I can read to them. Shall I be permitted, do you think, to have my letters returned me for this purpose? The remarks of these ladies on what I shall think fit to shew them, will be of great use in helping to settle my judgment. I know I have thrown out many things at random; and, being a young creature, and not passed the age of fancy, have, in all those sentiments which are not borrowed, been very superficial. How can it be otherwise?
The conversation in the coach turned upon their own family, (for I put in my claim to Miss Grandison's former promise on that head;) from which I gathered the following particulars:
Sir Thomas Grandison was one of the handsomest men of his time. He had a great notion of magnificence in living; and went deep into all the fashionable diversions, except gaming with cards and dice; though he ran into one as expensive, but which he called a nobler vice; valuing himself upon his breed of racehorses and hunters, and upon his kennel; in both which articles, he was extravagant to profusion.
His father, Sir Charles, was as frugal as Sir Thomas was profuse. He was a purchaser all his life; and left his son, besides an estate of 6000l. a-year in England, and near 2000l. ayear in Ireland, rich in money.
His lady was of a noble family; sister to Lord W- She was, as you have already been told, the most excellent of women. I was delighted to see her two daughters bear testimony to her goodness, and to their own worth, by their tears. It was impossible, in the character of so good a woman, not to think of my own mamma; and I could not help, on the remembrance, joining my tears with theirs.
Miss Jervois also wept, not only from tenderness of nature, and sympathy, but, as she owned, from regret, that she had not the same rea
son to rejoice in a living mother, as we had to remember affectionately the departed.
What I have written, and shall farther write, to the disadvantage of Sir Thomas Grandison, I gathered from what was dropt by one lady, and by the other, at different times; for it was beautiful to observe with what hesitation and reluctance they mentioned any of his failings, with what pleasure his good qualities; heightening the one, and extenuating the other. O, my Lucy! how would their hearts have overflowed in his praises, had they had such a faultless father, and excellent man, as was my father! Sweet is the remembrance of good parents to good children!
Lady Grandison brought a great fortune to Sir Thomas. He had a fine poetical vein, which he was fond of cultivating. Though his fortune was so ample, it was his person, and his verses, that won the lady from several competitors. He had not, however, her judgment. He was a poet; and I have heard my grandfather say, that to be a poet, requires a heated imagination, which often runs away with the judgment.
This lady took the consent of all her friends in her choice; but there seemed a hint to drop from Lady L, that they consented, because it was her choice; for Sir Thomas, from the day he entered upon his estate, set out in a way that everybody concluded would diminish it.
He made, however, a kind husband, as it is called. His good sense and his politeness, and the pride he took to be thought one of the best bred men in England, secured her complaisant treatment. But Lady Grandison had qualities`` that deserved one of the best and tenderest of men. Her eye and her ear had certainly misled her. I believe a woman, who chooses a man whom everybody admires, if the man be not good, must expect that he will have calls and inclinations that will make him think the character of a domestic man beneath him.
She endeavoured, at setting out, to engage his -companionableness-shall I call it? She was fond of her husband. He had reason to be, and was, proud of his wife. But when he had shewed her everywhere, and she began to find herself in circumstances, which ought to domesticate a wife of a much gayer turn than Lady Grandison pretended to have, he gave way to his predominant bias; and, after a while, leaving the whole family care to her, for her excellence in every branch of which he was continually praising her, (he did her that justice,) he was but little at home in the summer; and, in the winter, was generally engaged four months in the diversions of this great town; and was the common patron of all the performers, whether at plays, operas, or concerts.
At first setting out in this way, he was solicitous to carry his lady with him to town. She always cheerfully accepted of his invitation, when she saw he was urgent with her to go. She
would not give a pretence for so gay a man to throw off that regard to appearances, which pride made him willing to keep up. But afterwards his invitations growing fainter and fainter, and she finding that her presence lengthened the time of his stay in town, and added greatly to his expenses, (for he never would abate, when they were together, of that magnificence in which he delighted to live in the country,) she declined going up; and having by this time her three children, she found it was as agreeable to Sir Thomas, as to herself, that she should turn her thoughts wholly to the domestic duties. Lady Grandison, when she found that she could not bring Sir Thomas to lessen his great expenses, supposed it to be wisdom to endeavour, to the utmost of her power, to enable him to support them without discredit to himself, or visible hurt to his family. The children were young, and were not likely to make demands upon him for many years to come.
Here was a mother, my dear! Who will say, that mothers may not be the most useful persons in the family, when they do their duty, and their husbands are defective in theirs? Sir Thomas Grandison's delights centred in himself; Lady Grandison's in her husband and children. What a superiority! what an inferiority!
Yet had this lady, with the best economy, no narrowness in her heart. She was beloved for her generosity and benevolence. Her poor neighbours adored her. Her table was plenteous. She was hospitable, as well from the largeness of her own heart, as to give credit to her husband; and so far to accommodate herself to his taste, as that too great a difference might not be seen between his absence and presence. As occasions offered, she would confer benefits in the name of a husband, whom, perhaps, she had not seen of months, and knew not whether she might see for months to the come. She was satisfied, though hers was first merit, with the second merit reflected from that she gave him: "I am but Sir Thomas's almoner; I know I shall please Sir Thomas by doing this; Sir Thomas would have done thus. Perhaps he would have been more bountiful had he been present."
He had been once absent from this admirable wife six whole months, when he left her but for one; he designed only an excursion to Paris, when he set out; but when in company as gay as himself, while he was there, he extended his tour; and, what was still more inexcusable, he let his lady hear from him by second-hand only. He never wrote one line to her with his own; yet, on his return, affected to surprise her by a sudden appearance, when she knew not that he was in England.
Was not this intolerably vain in him? The moment he appeared, so secure was he of his lady's unmerited love, that he supposed the joy she would break out into, would banish from
her thoughts all memory of his past unkind
He asked her, however, after the first emotions, (for she received him with real joy,) if she could easily forgive him?-Forgive you, sir?-Yes, if you can forgive yourself.
This he called severe. Well he might; for it was just. Lady Grandison's goodness was founded in principle; not in tameness or servility.
Be not serious, Sir Thomas, said my lady; and flung her arms about him. You know by your question, you were unkind. Not one line from your own hand neither-But the seeing you now safe and well, compensates me for all the anxieties you have given me in the past six tedious months-Can I say they were not anxious ones? But I pity you, sir, for the pleasure you have lost by so long an absence. Let me lead you to the nursery; or, let the dear prattlers come down to receive their father's blessing. How delightful is their dawning reason! Their improvements exceed my hopes; of what pleasure do you deprive yourself by these long ab
My dear Miss Grandison, let me write on. I am upon a sweet subject. Why will you tear me from it? Who, Lucy, would not almost wish to be the wife, the half-slighted wife, of a gay Sir Thomas, to be a Lady Grandison?
One reflection, my dear Miss Grandison, let me make, before I attend you, lest I should lose it; what man who now, at one view, takes in the whole gay, fluttering life of Sir Thomas Grandison, though young, gay, and fluttering, himself, can propose to be more happy than Sir Thomas thought himself? What woman, who, in like manner, can take in the whole, useful, prudent, serene, benevolent, life of Lady Grandison, whatever turn to pleasure, less solid, and more airy, she may have, sees not, from this imperfect sketch, all that they should wish to be; and the transitory vanity of the one, and the solid happiness that must attend the other, as well here as hereafter?
Dear lady!-had you not hurried me so, how much better should I have expressed myself!
MISS GRANDISON has been making me read aloud some part of the letter I had just writ to you, Lucy. We know, said she, it is about us; but, we shall think what you have written, greatly to our disadvantage, if we cannot hear some of it. Then she insisted (she is an arbitrary dear creature) on my giving the company
[it was at tea, and Lord L- present histories as she should call for of my own family. On this condition only, said she, will we consent to be made fully known, as I find we shall, if I do not steal away your pen and ink, to our grandmother Shirley, our aunt Selby, and even to our Lucy.
Do not you think, Lucy, I ran on with pleasure in describing the persons and tempers of my father and mother, and relating their fortunes, loves, difficulties; as my grandmamma and aunt had enabled me to do, from what they used to recount in many a long summer-day, and in many a winter-evening, as we girls sat at work-Happy memorials!-Ay, but do you believe she did not question me about later events? She did, indeed, call upon me for two other histories.
And of whom? methinks you ask.
I won't tell you, Lucy; but if my aunt should be solicitous to know, and should guess that my uncle's and hers (so entertaining and instructive) was one of them; and if you, Lucy, should guess that the history of a young lady, whose discretion got the better of her love, and who cannot be dearer to herself than she is to me, is the other-Why, perhaps, neither my aunt, nor you, my dear, may be much mistaken.
Methinks I would fain rise now and then to my former serene-pertness; [allow you of the words so connected? but my heart is heavy.
They were delighted with a certain gentleman's humorous character and courtship; with his lady's prudence and goodness, in the one story; and, in the other, with the young lady's victorious discretion. They wish to be personally acquainted with each, and with my grandmamma. All the worthies in the world, my dear, are not in the Grandison family!
BEFORE I resume the continuation of the ladies' family-history, let me ask; Don't you think, my dear, that God has blessed these happy children, for the sake of their excellent mother? And who knows, but for their duty to their less deserving father? It is my notion, that one person's remissness in duty, where there is a reciprocal one, does not absolve the other party from the performance of his. It is difficult, indeed, to love so well a faulty or remiss parent, as a kind and good one. But our duty is indispensable; and where it is paid, a blessing may the rather be expected, as the parent has not done his. If, when you do well and suffer for it, says the apostle, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.-Not to mention one consideration, which, however, ought not to be left out of the account; that a good child will be no less benefited by the warning, as Sir Charles no doubt is, from his father's unhappy turn; than by the example, as he is from that of his excellent mother.
Lady L referred to the paper given in by the short-hand writer, for the occasion (as mentioned by Sir Charles) to which these three worthy children owed the loss of such a mother.* And this drew her into a melancholy relation of some very affecting particulars. Among other things, she said, her mother regretted, in her last hours, that she had no opportunity, that she could think just and honourable, to lay by anything considerable for her daughters. Her jewels, and some valuable trinkets, she hoped, would be theirs; but that would be at their father's pleasure. I wish, said she, that my dear girls were to have between them the tenth part of what I have saved-But I have done but my duty.
I wept, as if we had been present on the solemn
But, my Charlotte, give Miss Byron some brief account of the parting scene between my father and mother. She is affected as a sister should be-Tears, when time has matured a pungent grief into a sweet melancholy, are not hurtful; they are as the dew of the morning to the green herbage.
I cannot, said Miss Grandison-Do you, Lady L
proceeded-My father had long kept his chamber, from the unhappy adventure, which cost him and us all so dear. My mother, till she was forced to take to her bed, was constantly his attendant; and then was grieved she could not attend him still.
At last, the moment, happy to her, long dreaded by us, the releasing moment, approached. One last long farewell she wished to take of the man, who had been ever dear to her; and who had cost her so dear. He was told of her desire to be lifted to his bed-side in her bed; for one of his wounds (too soon skinned over) was broken out, and he was confined to his bed. He ordered himself to be carried in a great chair to hers. But then followed such a scene!
I have told you, Charlotte, said the Countess, what my mother said to me, a few hours be fore she died; and I will repeat it to Miss Byron. After having, upon general principles, recommended filial duty, and brotherly and sisterly love to us all; and after my brother and sister had withdrawn, My dear Caroline, said she, let me add to the general arguments of the duty I have been enforcing upon you all, one respecting your interest, and let your sister know it. I am afraid there will be but a slender provision made for my dear girls. Your papa has All we three children were in the room, kneelthe notion rivetted in him, which is common to ing by the bed-side-praying-weeping-O how men of ancient families, that daughters are but ineffectually!-Not even hope remaining-Best incumbrances, and that the son is to be every- beloved of my soul! in faltering accents, said thing. He loves his girls; he loves you dear- my mother, her head raised by pillows, so as ly: but he has often declared, that, were he to that she sat upright-forgive the desire of my have entire all the fortune that descended to heart once more to see you! They would not hirn from his father, he would not give to his bring me to you!-O how I distress you! For my daughters, marry whom they would, more than father sobbed; every feature of his face seemed 5000l. a-piece. Your brother loves you: he swelled almost to bursting, and working as if in loves me. It will be in his power, should he mortal agonies-Charlotte, relieve me!survive your father, to be a friend to you.-Love your brother.
To my brother, afterwards, she said something; I believe, recommending his sisters to him; for we coming in, boy as he was in years, but man in behaviour and understanding, hé took each of our hands-You remember it, Charlotte; [both sisters wept; and kneeling down, and putting them in my mother's heldout dying hands, and bowing his face upon all three-All, madam-All, my dearest, best of mammas, that you have enjoined
He could say no more; and our arms were wet with his tears.-Enough, enough, my son ; I distress you!—And she kissed her own armThese are precious tears-You embalm me, my son, with your tears-O how precious the balm! -And she lifted up her head to kiss his cheek, and to repeat her blessings to the darling of her heart.
Who could refrain tears, my Lucy, on the representation of such a scene ?-Miss Jervois and
The sweet lady's eyes were drowned in tears
I cannot, said Miss Grandison; her handkerchief spread over her face.
Miss Emily sobbed. She held her hand before her eyes: her tears trickled through her fingers. I was affected beyond measure-Yet besought her to proceed.-She went on.
I have endeavoured, said my mother, in broken sentences-It was my wish-It was my pride: indeed, my chiefest pride,-to be a good wife!
Omy dear! You have been-My father could not say what.
Forgive my imperfections, sir!
O my dearest life! you had no imperfections; I, I, was all imper-He could not speak out the word for his tears.
Bless your children in my sight: God hitherto has blessed them! God will continue to bless them, if they continue to deserve their father's blessing. Dear Sir Thomas, as you love them,
See Letter XLIX.
bless them in my sight. I doubt not your goodness to them-But the blessing of a dying mother, joined with that of a surviving father— must have efficacy!
My father looked earnestly to us all-He could not speak.
My brother, following my mother's dying eye, which was cast upon my father, arose from his knees, and, approaching my father's chair, cast himself at his feet. My father threw his arms about his neck-God bless-God bless my son, said he and make him a better man than his father. My mother, demanding the cheek of her beloved son, said, God bless my dearest child, and make you an honour to your father's family, and to your mother's memory !
We girls followed my brother's example.
God bless my daughters !-God bless you, sweet loves, said my father; first kissing one, then the other, as we kneeled.-God make you as good women as your mother; then, then, will you deserve to be happy.
God bless you, my dear girls, God bless you both, said my mother, kissing each, as you are dutiful to your father, and as you love one another -I hope I have given you no bad example.
My father began to accuse himself. My brother, with the piety of the patriarch's two best sons, retired, that he might not hear his father's confessions. We followed him to the farther end of the room. The manly youth sat down between us, and held a hand of each between his: his noble heart was penetrated: he two or three times lifted the hand of each to his lips. But he could only once speak, his heart seeming ready to burst; and that was, as I remember, O my sisters!-Comfort yourselves!-But who can say comfort?-These tears are equally our duty and our relief.
My mother retained to the last that generosity of mind which had ever distinguished her. She would not permit my father to proceed with his self-accusation; Let us look forward, my dearest, my only love, said she. I have a blessed hope before me: I pity, as well as pray for, survivors: you are a man of sense, sir, and of enlarged sentiments: God direct you according to them, and comfort you! All my fear was, (and that more particularly for some of the last past months,) that I should have been the mournful survivor. In a very few moments, all my sufferings will be over; and God give you, when you come to this unavoidable period of all human vanity, the same happy prospects that are now opening to me! O, sir, believe me, all worldly joys are now nothing; less than nothing: even my love of you, and of the dear pledges of our mutual love, withholds not now my wishes after a happier state. There may we meet, and never be separated!-Forgive me only, my beloved husband, if I have ever made you for one hour unhappy or uneasyForgive the petulancies of my love!
Who can bear this goodness? said my father I have not deserved
Dear sir, no more-Were you not the husband of my choice?-And now your grief affects me-Leave me, sir. You bring me back again to earth-God preserve you, watch over you, heal you, support you! Your hand, Sir Thomas Grandison, the name that ever was so pleasant in my ears! Your hand, sir! Your heart was my treasure: I have now, and only now, a better treasure, a diviner love, in view. Adieu! and in this world for ever adieu, my husband, my friend, my Grandison!
She turned her head from him, sunk upon her pillows, and fainted; and so saw not, had not the grief to see, the stronger heart of my father overcome; for he fainted away, and was carried out in his chair by the servants who brought him in. He was in a strong convulsion fit, between his not half-cured wounds and his grief; and recovered not till all was over with my blessed mother.
After my father was carried out, she came to herself. Her chaplain was once more admitted. The fatal moment approached. She was asked, if she would see her children again? No, she said: but bid her last blessing be repeated to them, and her charge, of loving one another, in the words of our Saviour, as she had loved us; and when the chaplain came to read a text which she had imperfectly pointed to, but so as to be understood, she repeated, in faltering accents, but with more strength of voice than she had had for an hour before, "I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith-There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness." And then her voice failing, she gave signs of satisfaction, in the hope of being entitled to that crown; and expired in an ejaculation that her ebbing life could not support.
O, my Lucy! may my latter end, and the latter end of all I love, be like hers! The two ladies were in speechless tears, so was Miss Jervois, so was I, for some minutes. And for an hour or two, all the joys of life were as nothing to me. Even the regard I had entertained for the excellent son of a lady so excellent, my protector, my deliverer, had, for some hours, subsided, and was as nothing to me. Even now, that I have concluded this moving recapitulation, it seems as nothing; and the whole world, my dear, is as a bit of dirt under my feet.
THE SON was inconsolable upon his mother's death. He loved his father, but next to adored his mother. His father, though he had given