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covered health will allow her to look abroad more than she had of late been used to do. I am sure my grandmamma, and my aunt Selby, will be pleased with it; because it will be a good supplement to the lessons they have constantly inculcated upon us, against that narrow-hearted race of men, who live only for the gratification of their own lawless appetites, and consider all the rest of the world as made for themselves, the worst and most noxious reptiles in it.
THUS far had the ladies proceeded in their interesting story, when the letters of my grandmamma and aunt were brought me by a man and horse from London. By my answer you will see how much I was affected by their contents. The ladies saw my uneasiness, and were curious to know the cause. I told them from whence the letters came, and what the subject was; and that my aunt was to give for me, next Saturday, an answer to Lady Din person. I then retired to write. When I had dispatched the messenger, the ladies wished to know the resolution I had come to. I told them I had confirmed my negative.
Miss Grandison, with archness, held up her hands and eyes. I was vexed she did. Then, Charlotte, said I, spitefully, you would not have declined accepting his proposal?
She looked earnestly at me, and shook her head. Ah, Harriet, said she, you are an unaccountable girl! You will tell the truth; but not the whole truth.
I blushed, as I felt; and believe looked silly. Ah, Harriet! repeated she; looking as if she would look me through.
Dear Miss Grandison! said I. There is some Northamptonshire gentleman, of whom we have not yet heard.
I was a little easier then. But can this lady mean anything particular? She cannot be so ungenerous, surely, as to play upon a poor girl, if she thought her entangled. All I am afraid of, is, that my temper will be utterly ruined. I am not so happy in myself, as I used to be. Don't you think, Lucy, that, taking one thing with another, I am in a situation that is very teazing?—But let me find a better subject.
THE ladies, at my request, pursued their family history.
Lord L and Miss Caroline went on, hoping for a change in Sir Thomas's mind. He would no doubt, they said, have been overcome
Meantime, my lord's affairs growing urgent, by reason of his two sisters marrying, he gave way to the offers of a common friend of his and Lord W. -'s, to engage that nobleman, who approved of the match, to talk to Sir Thomas on the subject.
Lord W- and the Baronet met. My lord was earnest in the cause of the lovers. Sir Thomas was not pleased with his interfering with his family affairs. And, indeed, a more improper man could hardly have been applied to on the occasion for Lord W, who is immensely rich, was always despised by Sir Thomas for his avarice; and he as much disliked Sir Thomas for what he called his profusion.
High words passed between them. They parted in passion; and Sir Thomas resenting Lord L's appeal to Lord W―, the sisters were in a worse situation than before; for now, besides having incurred the indignation of their father, their uncle, who was always afraid that Sir Thomas's extravagance would reduce the children to the necessity of hoping for his as sistance, made a pretence of their father's illtreatment to disclaim all acts of kindness and relation to them.
What concerned the sisters still more, was, my lord's declared antipathy to their brother; and that for no other reason, but because his father (who, he was sure, he said, could neither love nor hate in a right place) doted on him.
In this sad situation were these lovers, when overtures were made to Sir Thomas for his younger daughter: but though Miss Charlotte gave him no pretence to accuse her of beginning a love-affair unknown to him, yet those overtures never came to her knowledge from him, though they did from others: and would you have wondered, Harriet, said she, with such treatment before my eyes as Caroline met with, if I had been provoked to take some rash step?
No provocation, replied I, from a father, can justify a rash step in a child. I am glad, and so, I dare say, are you, that your prudence was your safe-guard, when you were deprived of that which so good a child might have expected from a father's indulgence, especially when a mother was not in being.
Miss Grandison coloured, and bit her lip. Why did she colour?
At last Sir Thomas took a resolution to look into and regulate his affairs, preparative to the
leave he intended to give to his beloved son to come over. From his duty, discretion, and good management, he was sure, he said, he should be the happiest of men. But he was at a loss what to do with Mrs Oldham and her two children. He doubted not but his son had heard of his guilty commerce with her: yet he cared not, that the young gentleman should find her living in a kind of wife-like state in one of the familyseats. And yet she had made too great a sacrifice to him, to be unhandsomely used; and he thought he ought to provide for his children by her.
While he was meditating this change of measures, that he might stand well with a son, whose character for virtue and prudence made his father half afraid of him, a proposal of marriage was made to him for his son by one of the first men in the kingdom, whose daughter, accompanying her brother and his wife, in a tour to France and Italy, saw and fell in love with the young gentleman at Florence: and her brother gave way to his sister's regard for him, for the sake of the character he bore among the people of prime consideration in Italy.
Sir Thomas had several meetings on this subjeet, both with the brother and the earl his father; and was so fond of bringing it to bear, that he had thoughts of reserving to himself an annuity, and making over the whole of his estate to his son, in favour of this match: and once he said, he should by this means do as Victor Amadeus of Savoy did, rid himself of many encumbrances; and being not a king, was sure of his son's duty to him.
The ladies found a letter of their brother's among Sir Thomas's loose papers, which shewed that this offer had been actually made to him. This is a copy of it.
DEAR AND EVER-HONOURED SIR,
I AM astonished at the contents of your last favour. If the proposal made in it arose from the natural greatness of your mind, and an indulgence which I have so often experienced, what shall I say to it?-I cannot bear it. If it proceed from proposals made to you, God forbid that I should give your name to a woman, how illustrious soever in her descent, and how high soever the circumstances of her family, whose friends could propose such conditions to my father.
I receive with inexpressible joy so near a hope of the long wished-for leave to throw myself at your feet in my native country. When I have this happiness granted me, I will unbosom my whole heart to my father. The credit of your name, and the knowledge every one has of your goodness to me, will be my recommendation whenever you shall wish me to enlarge the family connexions.
Till I have this honour, I beseech you, sir, to discontinue the treaty already begun.
You are pleased to ask my opinion of the lady, and whether I have any objection to her person. I remember, I thought her a very agreeable woman.
You mention, sir, the high sense the lady, as well as Lord and Lady N have of the civilities they received from me. My long residence abroad gives me the power of doing little offices for those of my country, who visit France and Italy. The little services I did to my lord, and the ladies with him, are too gratefully remembered by them.
I am extremely concerned that you have reason to be displeased with any part of the conduct of my sisters. Can the daughters of such a mother as you had the happiness to give them, forget themselves? Their want of consideration shall receive no countenance from me. I shall let them know, that my love, my esteem, if it be of consequence with them, is not founded on relation, but merit; and that, where duty to a parent is wanting, all other good qualities are to be suspected.
You ask my opinion of Lord L-, and whe ther he has sought to engage me to favour his addresses to your Caroline. He wrote to me on that subject: I enclose his letter, and a copy of my answer. As to my opinion of him, I must say, that I have not met with any British man abroad, of whose discretion, sobriety, and goodnature, I think more highly than I do of Lord L's. Justice requires of me this testimony. But as to the affair between him and my sister, I shall be extremely sorry, if Lord L's first impropriety of behaviour were to you; and if my sister has suffered her heart to be engaged against her duty.
You have the goodness to say, that my return will be a strengthening of your hands. May my own be weakened; may I ever want the power to do good to myself, or to those I love; when I forget, or depart from, the duty owing to the most indulgent of fathers, by his
WHAT an excellent young man is this!—But observe, Lucy; he says he will, on his return to England, unbosom his whole heart to his father; and, till then, he desires him to discontinue the begun treaty with Lord N——. Ah, my dear !-What has any new acquaintance to expect, were she to be entangled in a hopeless passion? But let us consider-Had Sir Charles been actually married, would his being so, have enabled a woman's reason to triumph over her passion?—If so, passion is surely conquerable: and did I know anybody that would allow it to be so in the one case, and not in the other, I' would bid her take shame to herself, and, with deep humiliation, mourn her ungovernable folly.
The above letter came not to the hands of the young ladies till after their father's death, which happened within a month of his receiving it, and before he had actually given permission for the young gentleman's return. You may suppose they were excessively affected with the bad impressions their father had sought to make in their brother's heart, of their conduct; and, when he died, were the more apprehensive of their force.
He had suspended the treaty of marriage for his son till the young gentleman should arrive. He had perplexed himself about his private affairs, which, by long neglect, became very intricate, and of consequence must be very irksome for such a man to look into. He was resolved therefore to leave it to each steward (having persuaded himself, against appearances, to have a good opinion of both,) to examine the accounts of the other; not only as this would give the least trouble to himself, but as they had several items to charge, which he had no mind should be explained to his son. Nor were those gentlemen less solicitous to obtain discharges from him; for being apprized of his reason for looking into his affairs, they were afraid of the inspection of so good a manager as their young master was known to be.
Mr Filmer, the steward for the Irish estate, came over, on this occasion, with his accounts: the two stewards acted in concert; and on the report of each, Sir Thomas examined totals only, and ordered releases to be drawn for signing.
What a degrader even of high spirits, is vice! What meanness was there in Sir Thomas's pride! To be afraid of the eye of a son, of whose duty he was always boasting!
But who shall answer for the reformation of an habitual libertine, when a temptation offers? Observe what followed:
Mr Filmer, knowing Sir Thomas's frailty, had brought over with him, and with a view to ensnare the unhappy man, a fine young creature, not more than sixteen, on pretence of visiting her aunt, who lived in Pall Mall, and who was a relation of his wife. She was innocent of actual crime: but her parents had no virtue, and had not made it a part of the young woman's education; but, on the contrary, had brought her up with a notion that her beauty would make her fortune; and she knew it was all the fortune they had to give her.
Mr Filmer, in his attendance on Sir Thomas, was always praising the beauty of Miss Obrien; her genteel descent, as well as figure; her innocence; innocence! the attractive equally to the attempts of rakes and devils! But the Baronet, intent upon pursuing his better schemes, for some time only gave the artful man the hearing. At last, however, (for curiosity's sake,) he was prevailed upon to make the aunt a visit. The niece was not absent. She more than an
swered all that Filmer had said in her praise, as to the beauty of her person. Sir Thomas repeated his visits. The girl was well tutored; behaved with prudence, with reserve rather; and, in short, made such an impression on his heart, that he declared to Filmer, that he could not live without her.
Advantage was endeavoured to be taken of his infatuation. He offered high terms; but for some time the aunt insisted upon his marrying her niece.
Sir Thomas had been too long a leader in the free world, to be so taken-in, as it is called. But at last a proposal was made him, from no part of which the aunt declared she would recede, though the poor girl (who, it was pretended, loved him above all the men she had ever seen) were to break her heart for him. A fine piece of flattery, Lucy, to a man who numbered near three times her years, and who was still fond of making conquests!
The terms were: that he should settle upon the young woman 500l. a-year for her life; and on her father and mother, if they could be brought to consent to the (infamous) bargain, 2001. a-year for their joint and separate lives; that Miss Obrien should live at one of Sir Tho mas's seats in England; be allowed genteel equipages, his livery; and even (for her credit's sake in the eye of her own relations, who were of figure) to be connived at in taking his name. The aunt left it to his generosity to reward her for the part she had taken, and was to take, to bring all this about with the parents and girl.
Sir Thomas thought these demands much too high: he stood out for some time; but artifice being used on all sides to draw him on, love, as it is called, (prostituted word!) obliged him to comply.
His whole concern was now, how to provide for this new expense, without robbing, as he called it, his son; [daughters were but daughters, and no part of the question with him ;] and to find excuses for continuing the young gentleman abroad.
Mrs Oldham had for some time been uneasy herself, and made him so, by her compunction on their guilty commerce; and, on Sir Thomas's communicating his intention to recal his son, hinted her wishes to be allowed to quit the house in Essex, and to retire both from that and him; for fear of making the young gentleman as much her enemy, as the two sisters avowedly were.
Sir Thomas, now that he was acquainted with Miss Obrien, better relished Mrs Oldham's proposal than otherwise he would have done; and before he actually signed and sealed with Miss Obrien's aunt, for her niece, he thought it best to sound that unhappy woman, whether she in earnest desired to retire; and if so, what were her expectations from him: resolving, in order to provide for both expenses, to cut down tim
ber, that, he said, groaned for the axe; but which hitherto he had let stand, as a resource for his son, and to enable him to clear incumbrances that he had laid upon a part of his
Accordingly, he set out for his seat in Essex. There, while he was planning future schemes of living, and reckoning upon his savings in several articles, in order the better to support an expense so guiltily to be incurred; and had actually begun to treat with Mrs Oldham; who agreed, at the first word, to retire; not knowing but his motive, (poor man !) as well as hers, was reformation :-There was he attacked by a violent fever, which in three days deprived him of the use of the reason he had so much abused.
Mr Bever, his English steward, posted down, on the first news he had of his being taken ill, hoping to get him to sign the ready-drawn up releases. But the eagerness he shewed to have this done, giving cause of suspicion to Mrs Oldham, she would not let him see his master, though he arrived on the second day of Sir Thomas's illness, which was before the fever had seized his brain.
Mr Filmer had been to meet, and conduct to London, Mrs Obrien, the mother of the girl, who came over to see the sale of the poor victim's honour completed; [could you have thought, Lucy, there was such a mother in the world? and it was not till the fifth day of the unhappy man's illness that he got to him, with his releases also already drawn up, as well as the articles between him and the Obriens, in hopes to find him well enough to sign both. He was in a visible consternation when he found his master so ill. He would have staid in the house to watch the event; but Mrs Oldham not permitting him to do so, he put up at the next village, in hopes of a favourable turn of the distemper.
On the sixth day, the physicians giving no hopes of Sir Thomas's recovery, Mrs Oldham sent to acquaint the two young ladies with his danger; and they instantly set out to attend their father.
They could not be supposed to love Mrs Oldham; and, taking Mr Grandison's advice, who accompanied them, they let the unhappy woman know, that there was no farther occasion for her attendance on their father. She had prudently, before, that she might give the less offence to the two ladies, removed her son by her former husband, and her two children by Sir Thomas; but insisted on continuing about him, and in the house, as well from motives of tenderness, as for her own security, lest she should be charged with embezzlements; for she expected not mercy from the family, if Sir Thomas died.
Poor woman! what a tenure was that by which she held!
Miss Caroline consented, and brought her
sister to consent, that she should stay; absolutely against Mr Grandison's advice; who, libertine as he was himself, was very zealous to punish a poor Magdalen, who, though faulty, was not so faulty as himself. Wicked people, I believe, my dear, are the severest punishers of those wicked people, who administer not to their own particular gratifications. Can mercy be expected from such? Mercy is a virtue.
It was shocking to the last degree to the worthy daughters to hear their raving father call upon nobody so often, as upon Miss Obrien; though they then knew nothing of the girl, nor of the treaty on foot for her; nor could Mrs Oldham inform them, who or what she was. Sometimes, when the unhappy man was quietest, he would call upon his son, in words generally of kindness and love; once, in particular, crying out-O save me! save me! my Grandison, by thy presence !-I shall be consumed by the fire that is already lighted up in my boiling blood.
On the ninth day, no hope being left, and the physicians declaring him to be a dying man, they dispatched a letter by a messenger to hasten over their brother, who (having left his ward, Miss Emily Jervois, at Florence, in the protection of the worthy Dr Bartlett) was come to Paris, as he had written, in expectation of receiving there his father's permission to return to England.
On the eleventh day of his illness, Sir Thomas came a little to himself. He knew his daughters. He wept over them. He wished he had been kinder to them. He was sensible of his danger. Several times he lifted up his feeble hands and dying eyes, repeating, God is just. I am, I have been, very wicked! Repentance! repentance! how hard a task! said he once to the minister who attended him, and whose prayers he desired. And Mrs Oldham once coming in his sight-O Mrs Oldham! said he, what is this world now? What would I give—But repent, repent-Put your good resolutions in practice, lest I have more souls than my own to answer for.
Soon after this his delirium returned; and he expired about eleven at night, in dreadful agonies. Unhappy man !-Join a tear with mine, my Lucy, on the awful exit of Sir Thomas Grandison, though we knew him not.
Poor man! in the pursuit-Poor man !—He lived not to see his beloved son !
The two daughters, and Mr Grandison, and Mrs Oldham, (for her own security,) put their respective seals on every place, at that house, where papers, or anything of value, were supposed to be reposited: and Mr Grandison, assuming that part of the management, dismissed Mrs Oldham from the house; and would not permit her to take with her more than one suit of clothes, besides those she had on. She wept bitterly, and complained of harsh treatment:
but was not pitied; and was referred by Mr Grandison to his absent cousin for still more rigorous justice.
She appealed to the ladies; but they reproached her with having lived a life of shame, against better knowledge; and said, that now she must take the consequence. Her punishment was but beginning their brother would do her strict justice, they doubted not: but a man of his virtue, they were sure, would abhor her. She had misled their father, they said. It was not in his temper to be cruel to his children. She had lived upon their fortunes; and now they had nothing but their brother's favour to depend upon.
Daughters so dutiful, my Lucy, did right to excuse their father all they could: but Mrs Oldham suffered for all.
I AM SO much interested in this important history, that I have not the heart to break into it, to tell you how very agreeably I pass my time with these ladies, and Lord L, in those parts of the day, when we are all assembled. Miss Emily has a fine mind; gentle, delicate, innocently childish beyond her stature and womanly appearance; but not her years. The two ladies are very good to her. Lord L― is an excellent man.
This is Friday morning and no Sir Charles! Canterbury is surely a charming place. Was you ever at Canterbury, Lucy?
To-morrow, Lady D- is to visit my aunt. My letter to my aunt will be in time, I hope. I long to know-Yet why should I?-But Lady D is so good a woman! I hope she will take kindly my denial; and look upon it as an absolute one.
I have a great deal more of the family-history to give you: I wish I could write as fast as we can talk. But, Lucy, concerning the lady, with whose father Sir Thomas was in treaty for his son: don't you want to know something more about her ?-But, ah! my dear, be this as it may, there is a lady in whose favour both sisters interest themselves. I have found that out. Nor will it be long, I suppose, before I shall be informed who she is; and whether or not Sir Charles encourages the proposal. Adieu, my Lucy! You will soon have another letter from your
You see, my dear, how many important
matters depended on the conduct and determination of the young Baronet. Lord L- was at this time in Scotland, where he had seen married two of his three sisters; and was busying himself in putting his affairs in such a way, as should enable him to depend the less either on the justice or generosity of Sir Thomas Grandison, whose beloved daughter he was impatient to call his.
Miss Charlotte was absolutely dependent upon her brother's generosity; and both sisters had reason to be the more uneasy, as it was now, in the worldly-wise way of thinking, become his interest to keep up the distance which their unhappy father had been solicitous to create between them, from a policy low, and entirely unworthy of him.
The unhappy Mrs Oldham had already received a severe instance of the change of her fortune; and had no reason to doubt, but that the sisters, (who had always, from the time she was set over them as their governess, looked upon her with an evil eye; and afterwards had but too just a pretence for their aversion,) would incense against her a brother, whose fortune had been lessened by his father's profusion: the few relations she had living, were people of honour, who had renounced all correspondence with her, from the time she had thrown herself so absolutely into the power of Sir Thomas Grandison: and she had three sons to take care of.
Bever and Filmer, the English and Irish stewards, were attending Sir Charles's arrival with great impatience, in hopes he would sign those accounts of theirs, to which they had no reason to question but his father would have set his hand, had he not been taken so suddenly ill, and remained delirious almost to the end of his life.
Miss Obrien, her mother, and aunt, I shall mention in another place.
Lord W― had a great dislike to his nephew, for no other reason, as I have said, than because he was his father's favourite. Yet were not his nieces likely to find their uncle more their friend for that. He was, indeed, almost entirely under the management of a woman, who had not either the birth, the education, the sense, or moderation, of Mrs Oldham, to put in the contrary scale against her lost virtue; but abounded, it seems, in a low selfish cunning, by which she never failed to carry every point she set her heart upon: for, as is usual, they say, with these keeping men, Lord Wwould yield up, to avoid her teazing, what he would not have done to a wife of fortune and family, who might have been a credit to his own but the real slave imagined himself master of his liberty; and sat down satisfied with the sound of the word.
The suspended treaty of marriage with Lord N's sister was also to be taken into consi