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I must beg excuse, madam. I have an excellent wife. She loves Miss Byron as her life; she will be impatient to know
Well, well, well, say no more, Mr Reeves; my brother has redeemed one prisoner, and his sister has taken another; and glad you may be that it is no worse.
I bowed, and looked silly, I believe. You may look, and beg, and pray, Mr Reeves. When you know me better, you'll find me a very whimsical creature; but you must stay to see Sir Charles. Would you go home to your wife with half your errand? She won't thank you for that, I can tell you, let her be as good a woman as the best. But, to comfort you, we give not in to every modern fashion. We dine earlier than most people of our condition. My brother, though, in the main, above singularity, will, nevertheless, in things he thinks right, be governed by his own rules, which are the laws of reason and convenience. You are on horseback; and, were I you, such good news as I should have to carry, considering what might have happened, would give me wings, and make me fly through the air with it.
I was about to speak. Come, come, I will have no denial, interrupted she; I shall have a double pleasure, if you are present when Sir Charles comes, on hearing his account of what happened. You are a good man, have a reasonable quantity of wonder and gratitude, to heighten a common case into the marvellous. So sit down, and be quiet.
I was equally delighted and surprised at her humorous raillery, but could not answer a single word. If it be midnight before you will suffer me to depart, thought I, I will not make another objection.
While this amiable lady was thus entertaining me, we heard the trampling of horsesMy brother! said she, I hope!-He comes! pardon the fondness of a sister who speaks from sensible effects-A father and a brother in one!
Sir Charles entered the room. He addressed himself to me in a most polite manner. Reeves! said he, as I understand from below Then turning to his sister, Excuse me, Charlotte, I heard this worthy gentleman was with you; and I was impatient to know how my fair" guest
Miss Byron is in a good way, I hope, interrupted she, but very weak and low-spirited. She arose and dressed; but I have prevailed on her to lie down again.
Then turning to me, with a noble air, he both welcomed and congratulated me.
Sir Charles Grandison is indeed a fine figure. He is in the bloom of youth. I don't know that I have ever seen a handsomer or genteeler man. Well might his sister say, that, if he married, he would break half a score hearts. O this
vile Pollexfen! thought I, at the moment; could he draw upon, has he hurt, such a man as this?
After pouring out my acknowledgments, in the name of several families, as well as in my own, I could not but inquire into the nature of the hurt he had received.
A very trifle!-My coat only was hurt, Mr Reeves. The skin of my left shoulder raked a little, putting his hand upon it.
Thank God! said I.-Thank God! said Miss Grandison.-But sonear!-0 the villain! what might it have been!
Sir Hargrave, pent up in a chariot, had great disadvantage. My reflections on the event of yesterday yield me the more pleasure, as I have, on inquiry, understood that he will do well again, if he will be ruled. I would not, on any account, have had his instant death to answer for. But no more of this just now. Give me the particulars of the young lady's state of health. I left her in a very bad way.-You had advice?
Miss Grandison gave her brother an account of all that had been done, and of everything that had passed since he went away; as also of the character and excellencies of the lady whom he had rescued.
I confirmed what she said in my cousin's favour; and he very gratefully thanked his sister for her care, as a man would do for one the nearest and dearest to him.
We then besought him to give an account of the glorious action, which had restored to all that knew her, the darling of our hearts.
I will relate all he said, in the first person, as nearly in his own words as possible, and will try to hit the coolness with which he told the agreeable story.
"You know, sister,” said he," the call I had to town. It was happy that I yielded to your importunity to attend you hither.
"About two miles on this side Hounslow, I saw a chariot-and-six driving at a great rate. I also had ordered Jerry to drive pretty fast.
"The coachman seemed inclined to dispute the way with mine. This occasioned a few moments' stop to both. I ordered my coachman to break the way. I don't love to stand upon trifles. My horses were fresh: I had not come far.
"The curtain of the chariot we met was pulled down. I saw not who was in it; but, on turning out of the way, I knew, by the arms, it was Sir Hargrave Pollexfen's.
"There was in it a gentleman, who immediately pulled up the canvass.
"I saw, however, before he drew it up, another person, wrapt up in a man's scarlet
"For God's sake! help, help! cried out the person; for God's sake help!
"I ordered my coachman to stop. "Drive on, said the gentleman, cursing his coachman; drive on, when I bid you.
"Help! again cried she, but with a voice as if her mouth was half stopt.
"I called to my servants on horseback to stop the postilion of the other chariot; and I bid Sir Hargrave's coachman proceed at his peril.
"Sir Hargrave called out on the contrary side of the chariot, (his canvass being still up on that next me,) with vehement execrations, to drive on.
"I alighted, and went round to the other side of the chariot.
"Again the lady endeavoured to cry out. I saw Sir Hargrave struggle to pull over her mouth a handkerchief, which was tied round her head. He swore outrageously.
"The moment she beheld me, she spread out both her hands-For God's sake
"Sir Hargrave Pollexfen, said I, by the arms.-You are engaged, I doubt, in a very bad affair.
"I am Sir Hargrave Pollexfen; and am carrying a fugitive wife-Your own wife, Sir Hargrave?
"Yes, by G-! said he; and she was going to elope from me at a damned masquerade! -See! drawing aside the cloak, detected in the very dress!
"O, no! no! no! said the lady
Proceed, coachman, said he, and cursed and
"Let me ask the lady a question, Sir Har
"You are impertinent, sir. Who the devil are you?
"Are you, madam, Lady Pollexfen? said I. "O, no! no! no!-was all she could say
"Two of my servants came about me; a third held the head of the horse on which the postilion sat. Three of Sir Hargrave's approached on their horses; but seemed as if afraid to come too near, and parleyed together.
"Have an eye to those fellows, said I. Some base work is on foot. You'll presently be aided by passengers. Sirrah, said I to the coachman, (for he lashed the horses on,) proceed at your, peril.
"Sir Hargrave then, with violent curses and threatenings, ordered him to drive over every one that opposed him.
"Coachman, proceed at your peril, said I. Madam, will you
"O, sir, sir, sir, relieve, help me for God's sake! I am in a villain's hands! Tricked, vilely tricked, into a villain's hands. Help, help, for God s sake!
"Do you, said I to Frederick, cut the traces, if you cannot otherwise stop this chariot. Bid Jerry cut the reins, and then seize as many of
yes, yes, yes, with my whole heart-Dear, good sir, protect me!
"I opened the chariot-door. Sir Hargrave made a pass at me. Take that, and be damned to you, for your insolence, scoundrel! said he. "I was aware of this thrust, and put it by; but his sword a little raked my shoulder.
'My sword was in my hand, but undrawn. "The chariot-door remaining open, (I was not so ceremonious, as to let down the foot-step to take the gentleman out,) I seized him by the collar before he could recover himself from the pass he had made at me; and with a jerk, and a kind of twist, laid him under the hind wheel of his chariot.
"I wrenched his sword from him, and snapped it, and flung the two pieces over my head.
"His coachman cried out for his master. Mine threatened his if he stirred. The postilion was a boy. My servant had made him dismount, before he joined the other two, whom I had ordered aloud to endeavour to seize (but my view was only to terrify) wretches, who, knowing the badness of their cause, were before terrified.
"Sir Hargrave's mouth and face were very bloody. I believe I might hurt him with the pommel of my sword.
"One of his legs, in his sprawling, had got between the spokes of his chariot wheel. I thought that was a fortunate circumstance for preventing farther mischief; and charged his coachman not to stir with the chariot, for his master's sake.
"He cried out, cursed, and swore. I believe he was bruised with the fall. The jerk was violent. So little able to support an offence, Sir Hargrave, upon his own principles, should not have been so ready to give it.
" I had not drawn my sword; I hope I never shall be provoked to do it in a private quarrel. I should not, however, have scrupled to draw it, on such an occasion as this, had there been an absolute necessity for it.
"The lady, though greatly terrified, had disengaged herself from the man's cloak. I had not leisure to consider her dress; but I was struck with her figure, and more with her ter
"I offered my hand. I thought not now of the footstep, any more than I did before; she not of anything, as it seemed, but her deliverance. "Have you not read, Mr Reeves, (Pliny, I think, gives the relation,) of a frighted bird, that, pursued by a hawk, flew for protection into the bosom of a man passing by?
"In like manner, your lovely cousin, the moment I returned to the chariot door, instead of accepting of my offered hand, threw herself into my arms.-0 save me! save me!-She was ready to faint. She could not, I believe, have stood.
"I carried the lovely creature round Sir Hargrave's horses, and seated her in my chariot.— Be assured, madam, said I, that you are in honourable hands. I will convey you to my sister, who is a young lady of honour and virtue.
"She looked out at one window, then at the other, in visible terror, as if fearing still Sir Hargrave. Fear nothing, said I; I will attend you in a moment. I shut the chariot door.
"I then went backward a few paces, (keeping, however, the lady in my eye,) to see what had become of my servants.
"It seems, that at their first coming up pretty near with Sir Hargrave's horsemen, they presented their pistols.
"What shall we do, Wilkins, (or Wilson, or some such name,) said one of Sir Hargrave's men to another, all three of them on their defence? Fly for it, answered the fellow. We may swing for this. I see our master down. There may be murder.
"Their consciences put them to flight. "My servants pursued them a little way; but were returning to support their master just as I had put the lady into my chariot.
I saw Sir Hargrave at a distance, on his legs, supported by his coachman. He limped; leaned his whole weight upon his servant ; and seemed to be in agonies.
I bid one of my servants tell him who I
"He cursed me, and threatened vengeance. He cursed my servant; and still more outrageously his own scoundrels, as he called them.
"I then stept back to my chariot.
"Miss Byron had, through terror, sunk down at the bottom of it; where she lay panting, and could only say, on my approach, Save me! Save me!
"I reassured her. I lifted her on the seat, and brought her to my sister; and what followed, I suppose, Charlotte, bowing to her, you have told Mr Reeves."
We were both about to break out in grateful applauses; but Sir Charles, as if designed to hinder us, proceeded:
"You see, Mr Reeves, what an easy conquest this was. You see what a small degree of merit falls to my share. The violator's conscience was
against him. The consciences of his fellows were on my side. My own servants are honest worthy men. They love their master. In a good cause I would set any three of them against six Vice is the who were engaged in a bad one. greatest coward in the world, when it knows it will be resolutely opposed. And what have good men, engaged in a right cause, to fear?"
What an admirable man is Sir Charles Grandison !-Thus thinking! thus acting!
I explained to Sir Charles who this Wilson was, whom the others consulted, and were directed by; and what an implement in this black
To what other man's protection in the world, Mr Selby, could our kinswoman have been obliged, and so little mischief followed?
Sir Hargrave, it seems, returned back to
What a recreant figure, my dear Mr Selby, must he make, even to himself!-A villain !
Sir Charles says, that the turnpike men at Smallbury Green told his servants, on their attending him to town after the happy rescue, a formidable story of a robbery committed a little beyond Hounslow by half-a-dozen villains on horseback, upon a gentleman in a chariot and six; which had passed through that turnpike but half an hour before he was attacked; and that the gentleman, about an hour and half before Sir Charles went through, returned to town, wounded, for advice; and they heard him groan as he passed through the turnpike.
I should add one circumstance, said Sir Charles: Do you know, Charlotte, that you have a rake for your brother ?-A man on horseback, it seems, came to the turnpike gate, whilst the turnpike men were telling my servants this story. Nothing in the world, said he, but two young rakes in their chariots and six, one robbing the other of a lady. I and two other passengers, added the man, stood aloof to see the issue of the affair. We expected mischief; and some there was. One of the by-standers was the better for the fray; for he took up a silver-hilted sword, broken in two pieces, and rode off with it.
Sir Hargrave, said Sir Charles, smiling, might well give out that he was robbed; to lose such a prize as Miss Byron, and his sword besides.
I asked Sir Charles, if it were not advisable to take measures with the villain?
He thought best, he said, to take as little notice of the affair as possible, unless the aggressor stirred in it. Masquerades, added he, are not creditable places for young ladies to be known to be insulted at them. They are diversions that fall not in with the genius of the English commonalty. Scandal will have something to say from that circumstance, however causeless. But Miss Byron's story told by herself, will enable you to resolve upon your future mea
So, Sir Charles seems not to be a friend to masquerades.
I think, were I to live a hundred years, I never would go to another. Had it not been for Lady Betty-She has, indeed, too gay a turn for a woman of forty, and a mother of children. Miss Byron, I dare say, will be afraid of giving the lead to her for the future. But, excepting my wife and self, nobody in town has suffered more than Lady Betty on this occasion. Indeed she is, I must say, an obliging, well-meaning woman; and she also declares, (so much has she been affected with Miss Byron's danger, of which she takes herself to be the innocent cause,) that she will never again go to a masquerade.
I long to have Miss Byron's account of this horrid affair.-God grant, that it may not be such a one as will lay us under a necessity-But as our cousin has a great notion of female delicacy-I know not what I would say—We must have patience a little while longer.
Miss Grandison's eyes shone with pleasure all the time her brother was giving his relation.
I can only say, my brother, said she, when he had done, that you have rescued an angel of a woman; and you have made me as happy by it, as yourself.
I have a generous sister, Mr Reeves, said Sir Charles.
Till I knew my brother, Mr Reeves, as I now know him, I was an inconsiderate, unreflecting girl. Good and evil, which immediately affected not myself, were almost alike indifferent to me. But he has awakened in me a capacity to enjoy the true pleasure that arises from a benevolent
Depreciate not, my Charlotte, your own worth. Absence, Mr Reeves, endears. I have been long abroad; not much above a year returned; but, when you know us better, you will find I have a partial sister.
Mr Reeves will not then think me so. But I will go and see how my fair patient does. She went accordingly to my cousin.
O, Sir Charles, said I, what an admirable woman is Miss Grandison!
My sister Charlotte, Mr Reeves, is, indeed, an excellent woman. I think myself happy in her; but I tell her sometimes, that I have still a more excellent sister; and it is no small instance of Charlotte's greatness of mind, that she herself will allow me to say so.
Just then came in the ladies; the two charming creatures entered together, Miss Grandison supporting my trembling cousin. But she had first acquainted her, that she would find Sir Charles in her dressing-room.
She looked indeed lovely, though wan, at her first entrance; but a fine glow overspread her cheeks, at the sight of her deliverer.
Sir Charles approached her, with an air of calmness and serenity, for fear of giving her
emotion. She cast her eyes upon him, with a look of the most respectful gratitude.
I will not oppress my fair guest with many words; but permit me to congratulate you, as I hope I may, on your recovered spirits-Allow me, madam
And he took her almost motionless hand, and conducted her to an easy-chair that had been set for her. She sat down, and would have said something; but only bowed to Sir Charles, to Miss Grandison, and me; and reclined her head against the cheek of the chair.
Miss Grandison held her salts to her.
She took them into her own hands, and smelling to them, raised her head a little; Forgive me, madam! Pardon me, sir! O, my cousin, to me -How can I-So oppressed with obligations! Such goodness!-No words !-My gratitude! My full heart!
And then she again reclined her head, as giving up hopelessly the effort she made to express her gratitude.
You must not, madam, said Sir Charles, sitting down by her, over-rate a common benefit. -Dear Miss Byron, (permit me to address myself to you, as of long acquaintance,) by what Mr Reeves has told my sister, and both have told me, I must think yesterday one of the happiest days of my life. I am sorry that our acquaintance has begun so much at your cost; but you must let us turn this evil appearance into real good. I have two sisters; the world produces not more worthy women. Let me henceforth boast that I have three; and shall I not then have reason to rejoice in the event that has made so lovely an addition to my family!
Then taking her passive hand with the tenderness of a truly affectionate brother, consoling a sister in calamity, and taking his sister's, and joining both; Shall I not, madam, present my Charlotte to a sister? And will you not permit me to claim as a brother under that relation ?— Our Miss Byron's christian name, Mr Reeves? Harriet, sir.
My sister Harriet, receive and acknowledge your Charlotte. My Charlotte
Miss Grandison arose, and saluted my cousin ; who looked at Sir Charles with reverence, as well as gratitude; at Miss Grandison with delight; and at me with eyes lifted up; and after a little struggle for speech, How shall I bear this goodness! said she-This, indeed, is bringing good out of evil!-Did I not say, my cousin, that I was fallen into the company of angels? I was afraid she would have fainted.
We must endeavour, Mr Reeves, said Sir Charles to me, to lessen the sense our Miss Byron has of her past danger, in order to bring down to reasonable limits, the notion she has of her obligation for a common relief.
Miss Grandison ordered a few drops on sugar -You must be orderly, my sister Harriet, said
she. Am I not your elder sister? My elder sister makes me do what she pleases.
Oh! madam! said my cousin
Call me not madam; call me your Charlotte. My brother has given me and himself a sisterWill you not own me?
How can a heart bowed down by obligation, and goodness never to be returned, rise to that lovely familiarity, by which the obligers so generously distinguish themselves? My lips and my heart, I will be so bold as to say, ever went together; but how-And yet so sweetly invited. My-my-my Charlotte, (withdrawing her hand from Sir Charles, and clasping both her arms round Miss Grandison's neck, the two worthiest bosoms of the sex joining as one,) take your Harriet, person and mind-May I be found worthy, on proof, of all this goodness!
LADY BETTY has just left us. I read to her what I have written since my visit to Colnebrook. She shall not, she says, recover her eyes for a week to come.
The women, Mr Selby, are ever looking forward on certain occasions. Lady Betty and my wife extended their wishes so far, as that they might be able to call Miss Grandison and our Miss Byron sisters; but by a claim that should exclude Sir Charles as a brother to one of them. Should Sir Charles-But no more on this subject-Yet one word more; when the ladies had mentioned it, I could not help thinking that this graceful and truly fine gentleman seems to be the only man, whom our cousin has yet seen, that would meet with no great difficulty from her on such an application.
But Sir Charles has a great estate, and still greater expectations from my Lord W- His sister says, he would break half a score hearts, were he to marry-So, for that matter, would our Miss Byron. But once more-Not another word, however, on this subject.
I staid to dine with this amiable brother and sister. My cousin exerted herself to go down, and sat at table for one half hour; but changing countenance, once or twice, as she sat, Miss Grandison would attend her up, and make her lie down. I took leave of her, at her quitting the table.
On Monday I hope to see her once more
If our dear Miss Byron cannot write, you will perhaps have one letter more, my dear Mr Selby, from
letter. Indeed, my dear Mr Selby, there are two or three passages in it, that would have cut me to the heart,* had not the dear creature been so happily restored to our hopes.
Monday Night, Feb. 20.
I got to Colnebrook by nine this morning. I had the pleasure to find our Miss Byron recovered beyond my hopes. She had a very good night on Saturday; and all Sunday, she said, was a cordial day to her from morning till night; and her night was quiet and happy.
Miss Grandison staid at home yesterday to keep my cousin company. Sir Charles passed the greatest part of the day in the library. The two ladies were hardly ever separated. My cousin expresses herself in raptures, whenever she speaks of this brother and sister. Miss Grandison, she says, (and indeed every one must see it,) is one of the frankest and most communicative of women. Sir Charles appears to be one of the most unreserved of men, as well as one of the most polite. He makes not his guests uneasy with his civilities; but you see freedom and ease in his whole deportment; and the stranger cannot doubt but Sir Charles will be equally pleased with freedom and ease, in return. I had an encouraging proof of the justness of this observation this morning from him, as we sat at breakfast. I had expressed myself, occasionally, in such a manner, as shewed more respect than freedom: My dear Reeves, said he, kindred minds will be intimate at first sight. Receive me early into the list of your friends; I have already numbered you among mine. I should think amiss of myself, if so good a man, as I am assured Mr Reeves is, should, by his distance, shew a diffidence of me, that would not permit his mind to mingle with mine.
Miss Grandison, my cousin says, put her on relating to her, her whole history; and the histories of the several persons and families to whom she is related.
Miss Byron concluding, as well as I, that Sir Charles would rather take his place in the coach, than go on horseback to town; and being so happily recovered, as not to give us apprehension about her bearing tolerably the little journey; I kept my horse in our return, and Sir My servant is this moment returned with your Charles went in the coach. This motion coming
See Letter XXIV. p. 60. '