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from Miss Byron, I rallied her upon it when I got her home; but she won't forgive me, if she knows that I told you whose the motion was. And yet the dear creature's eyes sparkled with pleasure when she had carried her point.
I was at home near half an hour before the coach arrived; and was a welcomed guest.
My dear Mrs Reeves told me, she had expected our arrival before dinner, and hoped Sir Charles and his sister would dine with us. I hoped so too, I told her.
I found there Lady Betty, and Miss Clements, a favourite of us all, both impatiently waiting to see my cousin.
Don't be jealous, Mr Reeves, said my wife, if after what I have heard of Sir Charles Grandison, and what he has done for us, I run to him with open arms.
I give you leave, my dear, to love him, replied I; and to express your love in what manner you please.
I have no doubt, said Lady Betty, that I shall break my heart, if Sir Charles takes not very particular notice of me.
He shall have my prayers, as well as my praises, said Miss Clements.
She is acquainted with the whole shocking affair.
When the coach stopt, and the bell rung, the servants contended who should first run to the door. I welcomed them at the coach. Sir Charles handed out Miss Byron ; I, Miss Grandison: Sally, said my cousin, to her raptured maid, take care of Mrs Jenny.
Sir Charles was received, by Mrs Reeves, as I expected. She was almost speechless with joy. He saluted her; but I think, as I tell her, the first motion was hers. He was then obliged to go round; and my cousin, I do assure you, looked as if she would not wish to have been neglected.
As soon as the ladies could speak, they poured out their blessings and thanks to him, and to Miss Grandison; whom, with a most engaging air, he presented to each lady; and she, as engagingly, saluted her sister Harriet by that tender relation, and congratulated them, and Miss Byron, and herself, upon it; kindly bespeaking a family relation for herself through her dear Miss Byron, were her words.
When we were seated, my wife and Lady Betty wanted to enter into the particulars of the happy deliverance, in praise of the deliverer; but Sir Charles interrupting them, My dear Mrs Reeves, said he, you cannot be too careful of this jewel. Everything may be trusted to her own discretion; but how can we well blame the man who would turn thief for so rich a treasure? I do assure you, my sister Harriet, [Do you know, Mrs Reeves, that I have found my third sister? Was she not stolen from us in her cradle? that if Sir Hargrave will repent, I will forgive him for the sake of the temptation.
Mrs Reeves was pleased with this address, and has talked of it since.
I never can forgive him, sir, said Miss Byron, were it but
That he has laid you under such an obligation, said Miss Grandison, patting her hand with her fan, as she sat over against her; but hush, child! You said that before!—And then turning to Mrs Reeves, Has not our new-found sister a very proud heart, Mrs Reeves?
And, dearest Miss Grandison, replied my smiling, delighted cousin, did you not ask that question before?
I did, child, I did; but not of Mrs Reeves.A compromise, however-Do you talk no more of obligation, and I'll talk no more of pride.
Charlotte justly chides her Harriet, said Sir Charles. What must the man have been that had declined his aid in a distress so alarming! Not one word more, therefore, upon this subject.
We were all disappointed, that this amiable brother and sister excused themselves from dining with us. All, I mean, of our own family for Lady Betty and Miss Clements, not being able to stay, were glad they did not.
They took leave, amidst a thousand grateful blessings and acknowledgments; Miss Grandison promising to see her sister Harriet very soon again; and kindly renewing her wishes of intimacy.
When they went away, There goes your heart, Miss Byron, said Mrs Reeves.
True, answered Miss Byron, if my heart have no place in it for anything but gratitude, as I believe it has not.
Miss Grandison, added she, is the most agreeable of women
And Sir Charles, rejoined Mrs Reeves, archly, is the most disagreeable of men.
Forbear, cousin, replied Miss Byron, and blushed.
Well, well, said Lady Betty, you need not, my dear, be ashamed, if it be so.
Indeed you need not, joined in Miss Clements; I never saw a finer man in my life. Such a lover, if one might have him
If, if-replied Miss Byron-But till if is out of the question, should there not be such a thing as discretion, Miss Clements?
No doubt of it, returned that young lady; and if it be to be shewn by any woman on earth, where there is such a man as this in the question, and in such circumstances, it must be by Miss Byron.
Miss Byron was not so thoroughly recovered, but that her spirits began to flag. We made her retire, and, at her request, excused her coming down to dinner.
I told you I had accepted of the offer made by Lady Betty, when we were in dreadful uncertainty, that her steward should make farther inquiries about the people at Paddington. No
thing worth mentioning has occurred from those inquiries; except confirming, that the widow and her daughters are not people of bad characters. In all likelihood they thought they should entitle themselves to the thanks of all Miss Byron's friends, when the marriage was completed with a man of Sir Hargrave's fortune.
The messenger that I sent to inquire after that Bagenhall's character, has informed us, that it is a very profligate one; and that he is an intimate of Sir Hargrave; but no more is necessary now, God be praised, to be said of him.
The vile wretch himself, I hear, keeps his room; and it is whispered, that he is more than half crazed; insomuch, that his very attendants are afraid to go near him. We know not the nature of his hurt; but hurt he is, though in a fair way of recovery. He threatens, it seems, destruction to Sir Charles, the moment he is able to go abroad. God preserve one of the worthiest and best of men!
Sir Hargrave has turned off all the servants, we are told, that attended him on his shocking, but happily disappointed, enterprize.
Miss Byron intends to write to her Lucy, by to-morrow's post, (if she continued mending,) an ample account of all that she suffered from the date of her last letter, to the hour of her happy deliverance. I am to give her minutes, to the best of my recollection, of what I have written to you; that so the account may be as complete as possible, and that she may write no more than is consistent with the series, which she is required to preserve. She begins this evening, she bids me tell you, that you may be as little a while in suspense about her as possible; but if she cannot finish by to-morrow night, she will have an opportunity to dispatch her letter on Wednesday by a servant of Greville's whom he left in town with some commissions, and who promises to call for anything we may have to send to Selby-house.
Sir Rowland-But let my cousin write to you upon that and other matters. She knows what to say on that subject better than I do.
Meantime I heartily congratulate every one of the dear family upon the return and safety of the darling of so many hearts; and remain, dear Mr Selby,
Your most faithful and obedient servant,
MISS BYRON TO MISS SELBY.
Monday, Feb. 20.
Is it again given me to write to you, my Lucy! and in you to all my revered friends; to write with cheerfulness; to call upon you all to rejoice with me!-God be praised!
What dangers have I escaped! How have my head and my heart been affected; I dare not, as yet, think of the anguish you all endured for
With what wretched levity did I conclude my last letter! Giddy creature that I was, vain and foolish!
But let me begin my sad story. Your impatience all this while must be too painful. Only let me premise, that gaily as I boasted, when I wrote to you so conceitedly, as it might seem, of my dress, and of conquests, and I know not what nonsense, I took no pleasure at the place, in the shoals of fools that swam after me. I despised myself and them. Despised! I was shocked at both.
Two Lucifers were among them; but the worst, the very worst Lucifer of all, appeared in a harlequin dress. He hopped, and skipped, and played the fool about me; and at last told me, he knew Miss Byron; and that he was, as he called himself, the despised, the rejected, Sir Hargrave Pollexfen.
He behaved, however, with complaisance; and I had no apprehension of what I was to suffer from his villainy.
Mr Reeves has told you, that he saw me into the chair, provided for me by my vile new servant. O, my Lucy! one branch of my vanity is entirely lopt off. I must pretend to some sort of skill in physiognomy! Never more will I, for this fellow's sake, presume to depend on my judgment of people's hearts framed from their countenances.
Mr Reeves has told you everything about the chair, and the chairmen. How can I describe the misgivings of my heart when I first began to suspect treachery! But when I undrew the curtains, and found myself farther deluded by another false heart, whose help I implored, and in the midst of fields, and soon after the lights put out, I pierced the night air with my screams, till I could scream no more. I was taken out in fits; and when I came a little to my senses, I found myself on a bed, three women about me; one at my head, holding a bottle to my nose, my nostrils sore with hartshorn, and a strong smell of burnt feathers; but no man near me.
Where am I? Who are you, madam? And who are you? Where am I? were the questions I first asked.
The women were a mother and two daughters. The mother answered, You are not in bad hands.
God grant you say truth! said I.
No harm is intended you; only to make you one of the happiest of women. We would not be concerned in a bad action.
I hope not; I hope not; let me engage your pity, madam. You seem to be a mother; these young gentlewomen, I presume, are your daughters. Save me from ruin, I beseech you, ma
dam; save me from ruin, as you would your daughters.
These young women are my daughters. They are sober and modest women. No ruin is intended you. One of the richest and noblest men in England is your admirer; he dies for you; he assures me, that he intends honourable marriage to you. You are not engaged, he says; and you must, and you shall be his. You may save murder, madam, if you consent. He resolves to be the death of any lover whom you encourage.
This must be the vile contrivance of Sir Hargrave Pollexfen, immediately cried I out; Is it not? Is it not? Tell me; I beg of you tell me. I arose, and sat on the bed-side; and at that moment in came the vile, vile Sir Hargrave.
I screamed out. He threw himself at my feet. I reclined my head on the bosom of the elderly person, and by hartshorn and water they had much ado to keep me out of a fit. Had he not withdrawn; had he kept in my sight; I should certainly have fainted. But holding up my head, and seeing only the women, I revived; and began to pray, to beg, to offer rewards, if they would facilitate my escape, or procure my safety; but then came in again the hated man. I beg of you, Miss Byron, said he, with an air of greater haughtiness than before, to make yourself easy, and hear what I have to say. It is in your own choice, in your own power, to be what you please, and to make me what you please. Do not therefore needlessly terrify your self. You see I am a determined man.-Ladies, you may withdraw
Not and leave me here!-And as they went out, I pushed by the mother, and between the daughters, and followed the foremost into the parlour; and then sunk down on my knees, wrapping my arms about her; O save me! save me! said I.
The vile wretch entered. I left her, and kneeled to him. I knew not what I did. I remember, I said, wringing my hands, If you have mercy; if you have compassion; let me now, now, I beseech you, sir, this moment, experience your mercy.
He gave them some motion, I suppose, to withdraw; (for by that time the widow and the other daughter were in the parlour;) and they all three retired.
I have besought you, madam, and on my knees too, to shew me mercy; but none would you shew me, inexorable Miss Byron! Kneel, if you will; in your turn kneel, supplicate, pray; you cannot be more in earnest than I Now are the tables turned. Barbarous man! said I, rising from my knees. My spirit was raised; but it as instantly subsided. I beseech you, Sir Hargrave, in a quite frantic way, wringing my hands, and coming near him, and then running to the window, and then to the door, (without meaning to go
out at either, had they been open; for whither could I go?) and then again to him; Be not, I beseech you, Sir Hargrave, cruel to me. I never was cruel to anybody. You know I was civil to you; I was very civil
Yes, yes, and very determined. You called me no names. I call you none, Miss Byron. You were very civil. Hitherto I have not been uncivil. But remember, madam-But, sweet and ever-adorable creature, and he clasped his arms about me, your very terror is beautiful! I can enjoy your terror, madam-and the savage would have kissed me. My averted head frustrated his intention; and at his feet I besought him not to treat the poor creature, whom he had so vilely betrayed, with indignity. I don't hit your fancy, madam! Can you be a malicious man, Sir Hargrave? You don't like my morals, madam! And is this the way, Sir Hargrave, are these the means you take, to convince me that I ought to like them?
Well, madam, you shall prove the mercy in me, you would not shew. You shall see that I cannot be a malicious man, a revengeful man; and yet you have raised my pride. You shall
find me a moral man.
Then, Sir Hargrave, will I bless you from the bottom of my heart!
But you know what will justify me, in every eye, for the steps I have taken. Be mine, madam; be legally mine. I offer you my honest hand. Consent to be Lady Pollexfen-No punishment, I hope-or, take the consequence.
What, sir! justify by so poor, so very poor, a compliance, steps that you have so basely taken!-Take my life, sir; but my hand and my heart are my own; they never shall be separated. I arose from my knees, trembling, and threw myself upon the window-seat, and wept bitterly.
He came to me. I looked on this side, and on that, wishing to avoid him.
You cannot fly, madam. You are securely mine; and mine still more securely you shall be. Don't provoke me; don't make me desperate. By all that's good and holy
He cast his eyes at my feet; then at my face; then threw himself at my feet, and embraced my knees with his odious arms.
I was terrified. I screamed. In ran one of the daughters-Good sir! Pray, sir!-Did you not say you would be honourable?
Her mother followed her in-Sir, sir! In my house
Thank God, thought I, the people here are better than I had reason to apprehend they were. But, O my Lucy! they seemed to believe, that marriage would make amends for every outrage.
Here let me conclude this letter. I have a great deal more to say,
Dear, blessed, blessed woman, (frantic with terror, and mingled joy, to find myself in better hands than I expected-Standing up, and then sitting down, I believe at every sentence,) protect me! Save me! Be my advocate! Indeed I have not deserved this treacherous treatment. Indeed I am a good sort of body; (I scarce knew what I said;) all my friends love me; they will break their hearts, if any mishap befal me; they are all good people; you would love them dearly if you knew them; Sir Hargrave may have better and richer wives than I; pray prevail upon him to spare me to my friends, for their sake. I will forgive him for all he has done.
Nay, dear lady, if Sir Hargrave will make you his lawful and true wife, there can be no harın done, surely.
I will, I will, Mrs Awberry, said he. I have promised, and I will perform. But if she stand in her own light-She expects nothing from my morals-If she stand in her own light; and looked fiercely
God protect me! said I; God protect me! The gentleman is without, sir, said the woman. O how my heart, at that moment, seemed to be at my throat! What gentleman, thought I!-Some one come to save me-O no!
And instantly entered the most horrible looking clergyman that I ever beheld.
This, as near as I can recollect, is his description-A vast tall, big-boned, splay-footed man. A shabby gown; as shabby a wig; a huge red pimply face; and a nose that hid half of it, when he looked on one side, and he seldom looked fore-right when I saw him. He had a dog's-eared common-prayer book in his hand, which once had been gilt; opened, horrid sight! at the page of matrimony!
Yet I was so intent upon making a friend, when a man, a clergyman, appeared, that I heeded not, at his entrance, his frightful visage, as I did afterwards. I pushed by Sir Hargrave, turning him half round with my vehemence, and made Mrs Awberry totter; and throwing myself at the clergyman's feet, Man of God,
said I, my hands clasped, and held up; man of God! Gentleman! Worthy man !-A good clergyman must be all this!If ever you had children! save a poor creature! basely tricked away from all her friends! innocent! thinking of no harm to anybody! I would not hurt a worm !-I love everybody!-Save me from violence! Give not your aid to sanctify a base action.
The man snuffled his answer through his nose. When he opened his pouched mouth, the tobacco hung about his great yellow teeth. He squinted upon me, and took my clasped hands, which were buried in his huge hand: Rise, madam! kneel not to me! no harm is intended you. One question, only: Who is that gentleman before me, in the silver-laced clothes? What is his name?
He is Sir Hargrave Pollexfen, sir; a wicked, a very wicked man, for all he looks so! The vile wretch stood smiling, and enjoying my distress.
O, madam! a very hon-our-able man! bowing, like a sycophant, to Sir Hargrave.
And who, pray, madam, are you? What is your name?
Harriet Byron, sir! A poor innocent creature, (looking at my dress,) though I make such a vile appearance-Good sir, your pity! and I sunk down again at his feet.
Of Northamptonshire, madam? You are a single woman! Your uncle's name—————
Is Selby, sir. A very good man-I will reward you, sir, as the most grateful heart
All is fair; all is above board; all is as it was represented. I am above bribes, madam. You will be the happiest of women before daybreak-Good people!-The three women advanced.
Then I saw what an ugly wretch he was! Sir Hargrave advanced. The two horrid creatures raised me between them. Sir Hargrave took my struggling hand; and then I saw another ill-looking man enter the room, who, I suppose, was to give me to the hated man.
Dearly beloved, began to read the snuffling
O, my Lucy! does not your heart ache for your Harriet? Mine has seemed to turn over and over, round and round, I don't know how, at the recital. It was ready to choke me at the time.
I must break off, for a few minutes.
I WAS again like one frantic. Read no more! said I; and, in my frenzy, dashed the book out of the minister's hand, if a minister he was. I
beg your pardon, sir, said I; but you must read no farther. I am basely betrayed hither. I cannot, will not, be his.
Proceed, proceed, said Sir Hargrave, taking my hand by force; virago as she is, I will own her for my wife.-Are you the gentle, the civil Miss Byron, madam ? looking sneeringly in my face.
Alas! my Lucy, I was no virago: I was in a perfect frenzy; but it was not an unhappy frenzy, since, in all probability, it kept me from falling into fits; and fits, the villain had said, should not save me.
Dearly beloved, again snuffled the wretch. O, my Lucy! I shall never love these words. How may odious circumstances invert the force of the kindest words! Sir Hargrave still detained my struggling hand.
I stamped, and threw myself to the length of my arm, as he held my hand. No dearly beloveds, said I. I was just beside myself. What to say, what to do, I knew not.
The cruel wretch laughed at me: No dearly beloveds! repeated he. Very comical, 'faith, and laughed again: But proceed, proceed, doc
We are gathered together here in the sight of God, read he on.
This affected me still more. I adjure you, sir, to the minister, by that God in whose sight, you read, we are gathered together, that proceed no farther. I adjure you, Sir Hargrave, in the same tremendous name, that you stop farther proceedings. My life take; with all my heart, take my life; but my hand never, never, will I join with yours.
Froceed, doctor: Doctor, pray proceed, said the vile Sir Hargrave. When the day dawns, she will be glad to own her marriage.
Proceed at your peril, sir, said I. If you are really and truly a minister of that God whose presence what you have read supposes, do not proceed; do not make me desperate.-Madam, turning to the widow, you are a mother, and have given me room to hope you are a good woman; look upon me as if I were one of those daughters whom I see before me: Could you see one of them thus treated?-Dear young women, turning to each, can you unconcernedly look on, and see a poor creature tricked, betrayed, and thus violently, basely treated, and not make my case your own? Speak for me! Plead for me! Be my advocates! Each of you, if ye are women, plead for me, as you would yourselves wish to be pleaded for, in my circumstances, and were thus barbarously used!
The young women wept. The mother was moved.
I wonder I kept my head. My brain was on fire. Still, still, the unmoved Sir Hargrave cried out, Proceed, proceed, doctor; to-morrow, before noon, all will be as it should be.
The man who stood aloof (the slyest, soddenfaced creature I ever saw) came nearer-To the
question, doctor, and to my part, if you please! -Am not I her father?-To the question, doctor, if you please!-The gentlewomen will prepare her for what is to follow.
O thou man! of heart the most obdurate and vile! And will ye, looking at every person, one hand held up, (for still the vile man griped the other quite benumbed hand in his iron paw,) and adjuring each, will ye see this violence done to a poor young creature?-A soul, gentlewomen, you may have to answer for. I can die. Never, never, will I be his.
Let us women talk to the lady by ourselves, Sir Hargrave. Pray, your honour, let us talk to her by ourselves.
Ay, ay, ay, said the parson, by all means; let the ladies talk to one another, sir. She may be brought to consider.
He let go my hand. The widow took it; and was leading me out of the room-Not up stairs, I hope, madam? said I.
You shan't then, said she. Come, Sally; come, Deb; let us women go out together. They led me into a little room adjoining to the parlour; and then, my spirits subsiding, I thought I should have fainted away. I had more hartshorn and water poured down my throat.
When they had brought me a little to myself, they pleaded with me Sir Hargrave's great estate. What are riches to me? Dirt, dirt, dirt! I hate them. They cannot purchase peace of mind; I want not riches.
They pleaded his honourable love-I my invincible aversion.
He was a handsome man-The most odious in my eyes of the human species. Never, never should my consent be had to sanctify such a
My danger! and that they should not be able to save me from worse treatment
How!-Not able!-Ladies, madam, is not this your own house? Cannot you raise a neighbourhood? Have you no neighbours? A thousand pounds will I order to be paid into your hands for a present before the week is out; I pledge my honour for the payment; if you will but save me from a violence, that no worthy woman can see offered to a distressed young creature!-A thousand pounds!-dear ladies!
only to save me, and see me safe to my friends!
The wretches in the next room, no doubt, heard all that passed. In at that moment came Sir Hargrave: Mrs Awberry, said he, with a visage swelled with malice, young ladies, we keep you up; we disturb you. Pray retire to your own rest; leave me to talk with this perverse woman. She is mine.
Pray, Sir Hargrave, said Mrs Awberry
Leave her to me, I say:-Miss Byron, you shall be mine. Your Grevilles, madam, your Fenwicks, your Ormes, when they know the pains and expense I have been at to secure