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Walter Watkyns desired my interest with my sister. I told him, that she was entirely her own mistress; and that I should not offer to lead her choice. Lord G made his court to her likewise; and, applying to me, received the same
I entered, however, into serious talk with my sister upon this subject. She asked me what I thought of each gentleman. I told her frankly. Miss Gr. And pray, brother, be so good as to repeat what you said of them. Let Miss Byron be judge, whether either of the portraits was very inviting.
Sir Ch. I told her, Miss Byron, that Sir Walter would, I presumed, be thought the handsomer man of the two. He was gay, lively, genteel; and had that courage in his air and manner, that ladies were seldom displeased with. I had not, however, discovered any great depth in him. My sister, I imagined, if she married him, would have the superiority in good sense; but I question whether Sir Walter would easily find that out; or allow it, if he did. He was a brisk man for an hour, and might have wit and sense too; but indeed I hardly ever saw him out of ladies' company; and he seemed to be of opinion, that flash rather than fire was what would recommend him to them. Sometimes I have thought, I told her, that women of sense should punish such men with their contempt, and not reward them with their approbation, for thus indirectly affronting their understandings; but that I had known women of sense approve a man of that character; and each woman must determine for herself, what appeared most agreeable to her.
Miss Gr. Whispering. Well, Harriet
Har. Whispering.] Don't interrupt him. Sir Ch. You remember, my dear Charlotte, that it was in this kind of way I spoke about Sir Walter Watkyns; and added, that he was independent; in possession of the family-estate, which I believed was a good one; and that he talked handsomely to me of settlements.
I do remember this, said Miss Grandison; and whispering me, I am afraid, said she, he knows too much; but the person he cannot know. Well, sir, and pray be pleased to repeat what you said of Lord G.
Sir Ch. Lord G I told you, was a gay dressing man, but of graver cast than the other. The fashion, rather than his inclination, seemed to govern his outward appearance. He was a modest man, and I feared had too much doubt of himself to appear with that dignity in the eye of a lovely woman, which should give him a first consequence with her
Miss Gr. Your servant, sir.
Sir Ch. I believed he would make a good husband; so perhaps might Sir Walter; but the one would bear, the other perhaps must be borne with. Ladies, as well as men, I presumed, had some foibles, that they would not care to
part with. As to fortune, I added, that Lord Gwas dependent on his father's pleasure. He had, indeed, his father's entire approbation, I found, in his address: and I hoped that a sister of mine would not wish for any man's death, for the sake of either title or fortune. You have seen Lord G- Miss Byron ?
Har. What, Sir Charles, was Miss Grandison's answer?
[I did not care to give any opinion, that might either hurt or humour my Charlotte.]
Sir Ch. Charlotte told me, in so many words, that she did not approve of either. Each gentleman, said I, has besought me to be his advocate; a task that I have not undertaken. I only told them, that I would talk to my sister upon the subject: but did not think a brother ought to expect an influence over a sister, when the gentlemen suspected their own. You will remember, said I to my sister, that women cannot choose where they will; and that the same man cannot be everything-She desired me to tell her, which of the two I would prefer?— First, said I, let me repeat the question I have more than once put to you: have you any the least shadow of a preference in your heart, to any third person?-What was my sister's answer? She said, she had not. And yet, had I not had the private intelligence I hinted at, I should have been apt to imagine, that I had some reason to repeat the question, from the warmth, both of manner and accent, with which she declared, that she approved of neither. Women, I believe, do not, with earnestness, reject a man who is not quite disagreeable, and to whose quality and fortune there can be no objection, if they are absolutely unprejudiced in another's favour.
We women looked upon one another. I have no doubt, thought I, but Sir Charles came honestly by his knowledge of us.
The dear Charlotte sat uneasy. He proceeded.
However, I now made no question but my sister's affections were absolutely disengaged. My dear Charlotte, said I, I would rather be excused telling you which gentleman's suit I should incline to favour, lest my opinion should not have your inclination with it; and your mind, by that means, should suffer any embarrassment. She desired to know it.
Miss Gr. You were very generous, sir; I owned you were, in this point, as well as in all others.
Sir Ch. I then declared in favour of Lord G- as the man who would be most likely to make her happy; who would think himself most obliged to her for her favour; and I took the liberty to hint, that though I admired her for her vivacity, and even, when her wit carried its keenest edge, loved to be awakened by it, and wished it never to lose that edge; yet I imagined, that it would hurt such a man as Sir Walter. Lord G- it would enliven; and I
hoped, if she took pleasure in her innocent sallies, that she would think it something, so to choose, as that she should not be under a necessity of repressing those sprightly powers, that very seldom were to be wished to be reined in. Miss Gr. True, sir. You said, very seldom, I remember.
Sir Ch. I never will flatter either a prince, or a lady; yet should be sorry to treat either of them rudely. She then asked me after my own inclinations. I took this for a desire to avoid the subject we were upon; and would have withdrawn; but not in ill-humour. There was no reason for it. My sister was not obliged to follow me in a subject that was not agreeable to her; but I took care to let her know, that her question was not a disagreeable one to me; but would be more properly answered on some other occasion. She would have had me stay.-For the sake of the former subject, do you ask me to stay, Charlotte?-No, said she.
Well, then, my dear, take time to consider of it; and at some other opportunity we will resume it. Thus tender did I intend to be, with regard to my sister's inclinations.
Miss Grandison wiped her eyes-and said, but with an accent that had a little peevishness in it, You wanted not, sir, all this preparation. Nobody has the shadow of belief, that you could be wrong.
Sir Ch. If this, Charlotte, be well said; if, in that accent, it be generously said; I have done -and from my heart acquit you, and as cordially condemn myself, if I have appeared in your eye to intend to raise my own character at the expense of yours. Believe me, Charlotte, I had much rather, in a point of delicacy, that the brother should be found faulty than the sister; and let it pass, that I am so.-And only tell me, in what way you would wish me to serve you? Miss. Gr. Pardon me, brother. You can add forgiveness to the other obligations under which I labour. I was petulant.
Sir Ch. I do; most cordially I do. Miss Gr. Wiping her eyes. But won't you proceed, sir?
Sir Ch. At another opportunity, madam. Miss Gr. Madam!-Nay, now you are indeed angry with me. Pray, proceed.
Sir Ch. I am not; but you shall allow me an hour's conversation with you in your dressingroom, when you please.
Miss Gr. No!-Pray, proceed. Every one here is dear to me. Every one present must hear either my acquittal or condemnation. Pray, sir, proceed-Miss Byron, pray sit still-Pray (for we were all rising to go out) keep your seats. I believe I have been wrong. My brother said, you must pity me in silence, if you found me faulty. Perhaps I shall be obliged to you for your pity.-Pray, sir, be pleased to acquaint me with what you know of my faults.
Sir Ch. My dear Charlotte, I have said enough
to point your fault to your own heart. If you know it; that I hope, is sufficient.-Do not imagine, my dear, that I want to control you-But He stopt.
Miss Gr. BUT what, sir?-Pray, sir—And she trembled with eagerness.
Sir Ch. But it was not right to-And yet, I wish that I were mistaken in this point, and my sister not wrong!
Miss Gr. Well, sir, you have reason, I suppose, to think-There she stopt—
Sir Ch. That there is a man whom you can approve of, notwithstanding
Miss Gr. All I have said to the contrary. Well, sir, if there be, it is a great fault to have denied it.
Sir Ch. That is all I mean-It is no fault in you to prefer one man to another. It is no fault in you to give this preference to any man, without consulting your brother. I proposed that you should be entirely mistress of your own conduct and actions. It would have been ungenerous in me, to have supposed you accountable to me, who had done no more than my duty by you. Dear Charlotte, do not imagine me capable of laying such a load on your free will: but I should not have been made to pronounce to Lord G―, and even to the Earl his father, (on their inquiries whether your affections were or were not engaged,) in such a manner as gave them hopes of succeeding.
Miss Gr. Are you sure, sir?
Sir Ch. O, my sister, how hard fought (now must I say?) is this battle!-I can urge it no farther. For your sake, I can urge it no farther.
Miss Gr. Name your man, sir!
Sir Ch. Not my man, Charlotte-Captain Anderson is not my man.
He arose; and, taking her motionless hand, pressed it with his lips.-Be not too much disturbed, said he. I am distressed, my sister, for your distress-I think, more than I am for the error; and, saying this, bowing to her, he withdrew.
He saw and pitied her confusion. She was quite confounded. It was very good of him to withdraw, to give her time to recover herself. Lady L gave her her salts. Miss Grandison hardly ever wanted salts before.
O what a poor creature am I, said she, even in my own eyes! Don't despise me, HarrietDr Bartlett, can you excuse me for so sturdy a perseverance! Forgive me, my lord!-Lady L, be indulgent to a sister's fault. But my brother will always see me in this depreciating light! "A battle hard fought," indeed! How one error, persisted in, produces another!
When Sir Charles heard her voice, as talking, every one soothing, and pitying her, he returned. She would have risen, with a disposition seemingly, as if she would have humbled herself at his feet; but he took her folded hands in
one of his, and with the other drew a chair close to her, and sat down: and with what sweet majesty, and mingled compassion in his countenance! Miss Grandison's consciousness made it terrible only to her.-Forgive me, sir! were her words.
Dear Charlotte, I do. We have all something to be forgiven for. We pity others then most cordially, when we want pity ourselves. Remember only, in the cases of other persons, to soften the severity of your virtue.
He had Mrs Oldham in his thoughts, as we all afterwards concluded.
We know not, said he, to what inconveniencies a small departure from principle will lead : and now let us look forward. But first, had you rather shew me into your dressing-room?
Miss Gr. I have now no wish to conceal anything from the persons present. I will only withdraw for a few moments.
She went out. I followed her. And then, wanting somebody to divide her fault with, the dear Charlotte blamed my nasty scribbling again; but for that, said she, I should have told you all.
And what, my dear, would that have done, returned I? That would not have prevented
No; but yet you might have given me your advice: I should have had the benefit of that; and my confessions would have been then, perhaps, aforehand with his accusations.-But, forgive me, Harriet————
O my Charlotte! thought I to myself, could you but rein in your charming spirit a little, very little, you would not have had two forgivenesses to ask instead of one.
MISS GRANDISON desired me to return to the company. I did. She soon followed me; took her seat; and, with an air of mingled dignity and concern, delivered herself after this manner:
If it be not too late, after a perseverance in error so obstinate, to reinstate myself in my brother's good opinion, dearer to me than that of the whole world besides, my ingenuousness shall make atonement for that error.
Sir Ch. I would spare my sister theMiss Gr. I will not be spared, sir-Pray hear me I would not, in order to extenuate my own faults, (I hope I have not many,) seek to throw blame upon the absent; much less upon the everlastingly absent; and yet my brother's piety must not be offended, if I am obliged to say something that may seem to cast a shade on
a memory-Be not hurt, sir-I will be favourable to that memory, and just to my own fault. You, Harriet, would no more excuse me, than my brother, if I failed in either.
I bowed, and blushed. Sir Charles looked at me with a benign aspect.
My father, proceeded she, thought fit to be, or to seem to be, displeased with something that passed between him and Lord L- - on the application made by my lord to him for my sister. Sir Ch. He was not willing perhaps, that a treaty of marriage should be begun but at his own first motion, however unexceptionable the man, or the proposal.
Miss Gr. Every one knows that my father had great abilities; and they were adorned with a vivacity and spirit, that, wherever pointed, there was no resisting. He took his two daughters to task upon this occasion; and being desirous to discourage in them, at that time, any thoughts of marriage, he exerted, besides his authority, on this occasion, (which, I can truly say, had due weight with us both,) that vein of humour and raillery for which he was noted; insomuch, that his poor girls were confounded, and unable to hold up their heads. My sister, in particular, was made to be ashamed of a passion, that surely no young woman, the object so worthy, ought to be ashamed of. My father also thought fit (perhaps for wise reasons) to acquaint us, that he designed for us but small fortunes; and this depreciated me with myself. My sister had a stronger mind, and had better prospects. I could not but apprehend from what my sister suffered, what must be my sufferings in turn; and I thought I could be induced to take any step, however rash, where virtue was not to be wounded, rather than undergo what she underwent from the raillery of a man so lively, and so humorous, and who stood in so venerable a degree of relation to me. While these impressions were strong in my mind, Captain Anderson, who was quartered near us, had an opportunity to fall into my company at an assembly. He is a sprightly man, and was well received by everybody; and particularly a favourite of three young ladies, who could hardly be civil to each other, on his account; and this, I own, when he made assiduous court to me, in preference to them, and to every other woman, gave him some consequence with me: and then, being the principal officer in that part of the country, he was caressed as if he were a general. A daughter of Sir Thomas Grandison was deemed a prize worthy of his ambition, by everybody, as well as by himself; while this poor daughter, dreading the difficulties that her sister had met with, and being led to think, by what her father declared to both sisters, that two or three thousand pounds would be the height of her fortune, had only to apprehend, that a captain either of horse or foot, who had been perhaps for years a frequenter of public places, both in town and
country, in hopes of raising his fortune, would think himself but poorly paid for his pains, (were she even to obtain her father's pardon,) should she engage without waiting for his consent; as she was urged to do, by letters, which he found ways unsuspectedly to send her.-I hope, sir; I hope, my lord; and you, my two sisters; that you will now, from what I have said, acquit me of insincerity, though you cannot of past indiscretion.
Nevertheless, my pride at times was piqued: sometimes I declared off; at other times was prevailed upon, by arts which men are masters of, to go on again; till I found myself entangled, and at a loss to know how to go either backward or forward. The gentleman was indeed of a genteel family; but the object of my sister's regard had so much to be said for him; stood so well with my brother; and even with my father; was so much the man of quality, in every respect; that a rash step in me, I could not but think, would be looked upon as the more disgraceful, on that account; and that if I married Captain Anderson, I must be rejected, scorned, for one while, if not forever.
And what title, often thought I, when I permitted myself seriously to think, have I to give my father a son, my brother, my sister, my Lord L, (should he and my sister marry,) a brother, whom they would not have chosen, nor will probably own?-Have not they a better right to reject him for their relation, than I have to choose him for my husband? And shall Charlotte Grandison, the daughter of the most prudent of mothers, take a step that shall make her be looked upon as the disgrace of her family? Shall she be obliged to follow a soldier's fortune into different quarters, and perhaps distant regions?
Such as these were, at times, my reasonings; and perhaps they would have had the less force with me, had I, in giving myself a husband, had none of these relations living, on whom to obtrude a new one, to their dislike, by my marriage.
Hence I could not bear to reveal the matter to my sister, who, in her choice, had so much advantage over me. I thought within these few weeks past, I could reveal it to my new-found sister; and it was one of my motives to come hither, at your invitation, Lord and Lady L, when you told me she was so obliging as to accompany you down: but she was everlastingly writing; and I was shy of forcing an opportunity, as none agreeably offered.
Sir Ch. I would not interrupt you, Charlotte. But may I ask, if this whole affair was carried on by letter? Did you not sometimes see each
Miss Gr. We did. But our meetings were not frequent, because he was at one time quartered in Scotland; at another, was sent to Ire
land, where he staid six or seven months; at others, in distant parts of the kingdom.
Sir Ch. In what part of the king's dominions is the captain now?
Miss Gr. Dear sir, could not the person who acquainted you with the affair inform you of that?
Sir Ch. Smiling.] The person could, madam; and did. He is in London.
Miss Gr. I hope my brother, after the freedom of my confession, and an ingenuousness that is not often found in such cases as this, will not be so unkind as to imagine, that I ought to have traps laid for me, as if I were not now at last frank and unreserved.
Sir Ch. Exceedingly just, Charlotte! exceedingly just!-I beg your pardon. I said, we had all something to be forgiven for. I am not, however, questioning you, with intent to cast a stone; but to lend you a hand.
Miss Gr. O that we had had liberty granted to us, having such a brother, to correspond with him!-Happy shall I be, if I can atoneThere she stopt.
Sir Ch. Proceed with your story, my dear Charlotte.-Greatly does the atonement overbalance the fault!
Miss Gr. [Bowing to her brother.] Captain Anderson is in town. I have seen him twice. I was to have seen him at the play, had I not come down to Colnebrook. Not a tittle of the truth will I hide from you. Now I have recovered the right path, not one wry step will I ever again wilfully take. I have suffered enough by those I had taken, though I endeavoured to carry it off as well as I could, (even sometimes by a spirit of bravery,) when it lay heavy here putting her hand to her heart.
Sir Charles rose from his seat; and, taking one of his sister's hands between both his, Worthy sister! amiable Charlotte! after this noble frankness, I must not permit you to accuse yourself. An error gracefully acknowledged, is a victory won. If you think Captain Anderson worthy of your heart, he shall have a place in mine; and I will use my interest with Lord and Lady L to allow of his relation to them. Miss Byron and Dr Bartlett will look upon him as their friend.
He sat down again, his countenance shining with brotherly love.
Miss Gr. O sir! what shall I say? You add to my difficulties by your goodness. I have told you how I had entangled myself. Captain Anderson's address began with hopes of a great fortune, which he imagined a daughter of Sir Thomas Grandison could not fail, first or last, to have. That this was his principal motive, has been, on many occasions, (on too many for his advantage,) visible to me. My allowance of his address, as I have hinted, was owing to my apprehensions, that I should not be a fortune wor
thy of a more generous man. At that time, our life was a confined one; and I girlishly wished for liberty-MATRIMONY and LIBERTY-Girlish connexion! as I have since thought.
We could none of us help smiling at this lively sally; but she went on more seriously.
I thought at first, that I could break with him when I would; but he holds me to it; and the more, since he has heard of your goodness to me; and builds great hopes of future preferment on the alliance.
Sir Ch. But do you not love Captain Anderson, my sister?
Miss Gr. I believe I love him as well as he loves me. His principal view, as I have said, has come out, avowedly, to be my fortune. If I regulate my esteem for him by his for me, I ought not, for the very reason he likes me, to approve of him.
Sir Ch. I do not wonder that the captain is desirous to hold you to it, to use your words; but, my dear Charlotte, answer me, have you had less liking to Captain Anderson since your fortune is ascertained, and absolutely in your own power, than you had before?
Miss Gr. Not on that account, if I know my heart; but he has been a much more earnest suitor since your goodness to me was generally known, than before. When public report had made me absolutely dependent on my brother; and diminished (beyond the truth, as it has proved) the circumstances of the family; and when my sister and I were unhappy between our fears and our hopes, I then heard but little from Captain Anderson; and that little was so prudent, and so cold-But I had found out the man before.
Lord and Lady L, with warmth of voice, called him unworthy man. I thought him so; and so, by his looks, did Dr Bartlett.
Sir Ch. Poor man !-He seems to have been too prudent, to trust even to Providence. But what, my sister, are now your difficulties?
Miss Gr. They proceed from my folly. Captain Anderson appeared to me, at first, a man of sense, as well as an agreeable man in his person and air. He had a lively and easy elocution. He spoke without doubt; and I had, therefore, the less doubt of his understanding. The man who knows how to say agreeable things to a woman, in an agreeable manner, has her vanity on his side; since, to doubt his veracity, would be to question her own merit. When he came to write, my judgment was even still more engaged in his favour than before. But when he thought himself on a safe footing with me, he then lost his hand-writing, and his style, and even his orthography. I blush to say it; and then I blushed to see it.
Sir Ch. Men will be men. It is natural for us, when we find out our imperfections, to endeavour to supply them, or to gloss them over
to those, whose good opinion of us we wish to engage. I have known men who are not so ready as the captain seems to have been, to find out their own defects. Captain Anderson, perhaps, lost his letter-writer, by the shifting of quarters. But it is strange, that a man of family, as the captain is, should be so very illiterate.
Miss Gr. His early wildnesses, as I afterwards heard, made him run from school, before he had acquired common school-learning. His friends bought him a pair of colours. That was all they would ever do for him; and his father marrying a second wife, by whom he had children, considered not him as one. This came out to be his story. But he displayed himself to me in very different lights. He pretended to have a pretty estate, which, though not large, was well conditioned, and capable of improvement; besides very considerable expectations. A mind that would not impose on another, must least bear to be imposed upon itself: but I could not help despising him, when I found myself so grossly imposed upon by the letters he had procured to be written for him; and that he was not either the man of sense or learning, that he would have had me think him.
Sir Ch. But what was the safe footing, my sister, that he thought he was upon with you? Miss Gr. O, sir! while all these good appearances held in his favour, he had teazed me into a promise. And, when he had gained that point, then it was, or soon after, that he wrote to me with his own hand. And yet, though he convinced me by doing so, that he had before employed another, it was a point agreed upon, that our intercourse was to be an absolute secret; and I trembled to find myself exposed to his scribe, a man I knew not, and who must certainly despise the lover, whom he helped to all his agreeable flourishes; and, in despising him, must probably despise me. Yet I will say, that my letters were such as I can submit to the severest eye. It was, indeed, giving him encouragement enough, that I answered him by pen and ink; and he presumed enough upon it, or he had never dared to teaze me for a promise, as he did for months before I made him
Sir Ch. Women should never be drawn in to fetter themselves by promises. On the contrary, they ought always to despise, and directly to break with, the man who offers to exact a promise from them. To what end is a promise of this kind endeavoured to be obtained, if the urger suspects not the fitness of his addresses in the eyes of those who have a right to be consulted; and if he did not doubt either his own merit, or the lady's honour, and feared her returning discretion?-Therefore wanted to put it out of her own power to be dutiful; or (if she had begun to swerve, by listening to a clandestine address) to recover herself? Your father, my