« EdellinenJatka »
If I had not had reasons before to avoid a more than neighbourly civility to him, he has now furnished me with very strong ones. The threatening lover must certainly make a tyrant husband. Don't you think so, Lucy?-But make not supposals of lover or husband to him: these bold men will turn shadows into substance in their own favour.
A woman who is so much exalted above what she can deserve, has reason to be terrified, were she to marry the complimenter, (even could she suppose him so blinded by his passion as not to be absolutely insincere,) to think of the height she must fall from in his opinion, when she has put it in his power to treat her but as what she
Indeed I both despise and fear a very high complimenter.-Despise him for his designing flattery, supposing him not to believe himself, or, if he mean what he says, for his injudiciousness. I fear him, lest he should (as in the former case he must hope) be able to raise a vanity in me, that would sink me beneath his meanness, and give him cause to triumph over my folly, at the very time that I am full of my own wisdom.
High-strained compliments, in short, always pull me down; always make me shrink into myself. Have I not some vanity to guard against? I have no doubt but Mr Greville wished I should see this letter; and this gives me some little indignation against myself; for does it not look as if, from some faults in my conduct, Mr Greville had formed hopes of succeeding by treating me like a fool?
I hope these gentlemen will not follow me to town, as they threaten. If they do, I will not see them, if I can any way avoid it. Yet, for me to appear to them solicitous on this head, or to desire them not to go, will be in some measure to lay myself under an obligation to their acquiescence. It is not therefore for me to hope to influence them in this matter, since they expect too much in return for it from me; and since they will be ready to found a merit in their passion even for disobliging me.
I cannot bear, however, to think of their dangling after me wherever I go. These men, my dear, were we to give them importance with us, would be greater infringers of our natural free dom, than the most severe parents; and for their own sakes: whereas parents, if ever so despotic, (if not unnatural ones indeed,) mean solely our good, though headstrong girls do not always think so. Yet such, even such, can be teazed out of their wills, at least out of their duty, by the men who style themselves lovers, when they are invincible to all the entreaties and commands of their parents.
O that the next eight or ten years of my life, if I find not in the interim a man on whom my whole undivided heart can fix, were happily over! As happily as the last alike impor
tant four years! To be able to look down from the elevation of thirty years, my principles fixed, and to have no capital folly to reproach myself with, what a happiness would that be!
My cousin Reeves's time of setting out holds ; the indulgence of my dearest friends continues; and my resolution holds. But I will see my Nancy before I set out. What! shall I enter upon a party of pleasure, and leave in my heart room to reflect, in the midst of it, that there is a dear suffering friend who had reason to think I was afraid of giving myself pain, when I might, by the balm of true love and friendly soothings, administer comfort to her wounded heart? No, my Lucy, believe me, if I have not generosity enough, I have selfishness enough, to make me avoid a sting so severe as this would be to your HARRIET BYRON.
MISS BYRON TO MISS SELBY.
Grosvenor-Street, Tuesday, Jan. 24. We are just arrived. We had a very agreeable journey. I need not tell you that Mr Greville and Mr Fenwick attended us to our first baiting, and had a genteel dinner ready provided for us: the gentlemen will tell you this, and all particulars.
They both renewed their menaces of following me to London, if I staid above one month. They were so good as to stretch their fortnight to a month.
Mr Fenwick, in very pathetic terms, as he found an opportunity to engage me alone for a few minutes, besought me to love him. Mr Greville was as earnest with me to declare that I hated him. Such a declaration, he said, was all he at present wished for. It was strange, he told me, that he neither could prevail on me to encourage his love, nor to declare my hatred. He is a whimsical creature.
I rallied him with my usual freedom; and told him, that if there were one person in the world that I was capable of hating, I could make the less scruple to oblige him. He thanked me for that.
The two gentlemen would fain have proceeded farther; but as they are never out of their way, I dare say they would have gone to London; and there have dangled on till we should not have got rid of them, for my whole time of being in town.
I was very gravely earnest with them to leave us, when we stept into the coach in order to proceed. Fenwick, you dog, said Mr Greville, we must return; Miss Byron looks grave. Gra vity and a rising colour in the finest face in the world, indicate as much as the frowns of other beauties. And in the most respectful manner
they both took leave of me; insisting, however, on my hand, and that I would wish them well. I gave each my hand; I wish you very well, gentlemen, said I; and I am obliged to your civility in seeing me so far on my journey; especially as you are so kind as to leave me here. Why, dear madam, did you not spare your especially, said Mr Greville?-Come, Fenwick, let us retire and lay our two loggerheads together, and live over again the past hour, and then hang ourselves.
Poor Mr Orme! The coach, at our first setting out, passed by his park-gate, you know. There was he on the very ridge of the highway. I saw him not till it was near him. He bowed to the very ground, with such an air of disconsolateness !-Poor Mr Orme! I wished to have said one word to him, when we had passed him; but the coach flew-Why did the coach fly?-But I waved my hand, and leaned out of the coach as far as I could, and bowed to him.
O Miss Byron! said Mrs Reeves, (so said Mr Reeves,) Mr Orme is the happy man.-Did I think as you do, said I, I should not be so desirous to have spoken to him; but, methinks, I should have been glad to have once said, Adieu, Mr Orme; for Mr Orme is a good man. But, Lucy, my heart was softened at parting with my dear relations and friends; and when the heart is softened, light impressions will go deep.
My cousins' house is suitable to their fortune: very handsome, and furnished in taste. Mrs Reeves, knowing well what a scribbler I am, and am expected to be, has provided me with pen, ink, and paper, in abundance. She readily allowed me to take early possession of my apartment, that I might pay punctual obedience to the commands of all my friends on setting out. These, you know, were to write in the first hour of my arrival; and it was allowed to be to you, dear. But, writing thus early, what can have occurred?
My apartment is extremely elegant. A wellfurnished book-case is, however, to me the most attracting ornament in it-Pardon me, dear pen and ink! I must not prefer anything to you, by whose means I hope to spend some part of every day at Selby-house; and even at this distance amuse with my prattle those friends that are always so partial to it.
And now, my dear, my revered grandmamma, I ask your blessing-yours, my ever-indulgent aunt Selby-and yours, my honoured and equally beloved uncle Selby. Who knows but you will now in absence take less delight in teazing your ever-dutiful Harriet? But yet I unbespeak not my monitor.
Continue to love me, my Lucy, as I shall endeavour to deserve your love; and let me know how our dear Nancy does.
My heart bleeds for her. I should have held myself utterly inexcusable, had I accepted of
your kindly-intended dispensation, and come to town for three whole months, without repeating to her, by word of mouth, my love and my sympathizing concern for her. What merit does her patience add to her other merits! How has her calamity endeared her to me! If ever I shall be heavily afflicted, God give me her amiable, her almost meritorious patience, in sufferings!
To my cousins Holles, and all my other relations, friends, companions, make the affectionate compliments of your HARRIET BYRON.
MISS BYRON TO MISS SELBY.
You rejoice me, my dear, in the hopes which you tell me Dr Mitchell from London gives you in relation to our Nancy. May our incessant prayers for the restoration of her health be answered!
Three things my aunt Selby, and you, in the name of every one of my friends, enjoined me at parting. The first, to write often, very often, were your words. This injunction was not needful: my heart is with you; and the good news you give me of my grandmamma's health and of our Nancy's, enlarges that heart. The second, to give you a description of the persons and characters of the people I am likely to be conversant with in this great town. And, thirdly, besides the general account which you all expected from me of the visits I made and received, you enjoined me to acquaint you with the very beginnings of every address, (and even of every silent and respectful distinction, were your words,) that the girl whom you all so greatly favour, might receive on this excursion to town.
Don't you remember what my uncle Selby answered to this?-I do ; and will repeat it, to shew that his correcting cautions shall not be forgotten.
The vanity of the sex, said he, will not suffer anything of this sort to escape our Harriet. Women, continued he, make themselves so cheap at the public places in and about town, that new faces are more inquired after, than even fine faces constantly seen. Harriet has an honest artless bloom in her cheeks; she may attract notice as a novice; but wherefore do you fill her head with an expectation of conquests? Women, added he, offer themselves at every public place, in rows, as at a market. Because three or four silly fellows here in the country (like people at an auction, who raise the price upon each other above its value) have bid for her, you think she will not be able to set her foot out of doors, without increasing the number of her followers.
And then my uncle would have it, that my head would be unable to bear the consequence which the partiality of my other friends gave
It is true, my Lucy, that we young women are too apt to be pleased with the admiration pretended for us by the other sex. But I have always endeavoured to keep down any foolish pride of this sort, by such considerations as these:-that flattery is the vice of men: that they seek to raise us in order to lower us, and in the end to exalt themselves on the ruins of the pride they either hope to find, or inspire: that humility, as it shines brightest in a high condition, best becomes a flattered woman of all women: that she who is puffed up by the praises of men, on the supposed advantages of person, answers their end upon her; and seems to own, that she thinks it a principal part of hers, to be admired by them: and what can give more importance to them, and less to herself, than this? For have not women souls as well as men, and souls as capable of the noblest attainments, as theirs? Shall they not, therefore, be most solicitous to cultivate the beauties of the mind, and to make those of person but of inferior consideration? The bloom of beauty holds but a very few years; and shall not a woman aim to make herself mistress of those perfections that will dignify her advanced age? and then may she be as wise, as venerable as my grandmamma. She is an example for us, my dear who is so much respected, who is so much beloved, both by old and young, as my grandmamma Shirley?
In pursuance of the second injunction, I will now describe some young ladies and gentlemen, who paid my cousins their compliments on their arrival in town.
Miss Allestree, daughter of Sir John Allestree, was one. She is very pretty, and very genteel, easy, and free. I believe I shall love her.
Miss Bramber was the second. Not so pretty as Miss Allestree; but agreeable in her person and air. A little too talkative, I think.
It was one of my grandfather's rules to me, not impertinently to start subjects, as if I would make an ostentation of knowledge; or if I were fond of indulging a talking humour; but frankness and complaisance required, he used to say, that we women should unlock our bosoms, when we were called upon, and were expected to give our sentiments upon any subject.
Miss Bramber was eager to talk. She seemed, even when silent, to look as if she was studying for something to say, although she had exhausted two or three subjects. This charge of volubility, I am the rather inclined to fix upon her, as neither Mr nor Mrs Reeves took notice to me of it, as a thing extraordinary; which, probably, they would have done, if she had exceeded her usual way. And yet, perhaps,
the joy of seeing her newly-arrived friends might have opened her lips. If so, your pardon, sweet Miss Bramber!
Miss Sally, her younger sister, is very amiable and very modest; a little kept down, and, it seems, by the vivacity of her elder sister, between whose ages there are about six or seven years; so that Miss Bramber seems to regard her sister as one whom she is willing to remember as the girl she was two or three years ago; for Miss Sally is not above seventeen.
What confirmed me in this was, that the younger lady was a good deal more free when her sister was withdrawn, than when she was present; and again pursed-up her really pretty mouth when she returned: and her sister addressed her always by the word child, with an air of eldership; while the other called her sister, with a look of observance.
These were the ladies.
The two gentlemen who came with them, were, Mr Barnet, a nephew of Lady Allestree, and Mr Somner.
Mr Somner is a young gentleman lately married; very affected, and very opinionated. I told Mrs Reeves, after he was gone, that I believed he was a dear lover of his person; and she owned he was. Yet had he no great reason for it. It is far from extraordinary; though he was very gaily dressed. His wife, it seems, was a young widow of great fortune; and till she gave him consequence by falling in love with him, he was thought to be a modest, good sort of young man ; one that had not discovered any more perfections in himself than other people beheld in him; and this gave her an excuse for liking him. But now he is loquacious, forward, bold, thinks meanly of the sex, and, what is worse, not the higher of the lady, for the preference she has given him.
This gentleman took great notice of me; and yet in such a way, as to have me think, that the approbation of so excellent a judge as himself did me no small honour.
Mr Barnet is a young man, that I imagine will be always young. At first I thought him only a fop. He affected to say some things, that, though trite, were sententious, and carried with them the air of observation. There is some degree of merit in having such a memory, as will help a person to repeat and apply other men's wit with tolerable propriety. But when he attempted to walk alone, he said things that it was impossible a man of common sense could say. I pronounce, therefore, boldly about him; yet by his outward appearance he may pass for one of your pretty fellows; for he dresses very gaily. Indeed, if he has any taste, it is in dress; and this he has found out; for he talked of little else, when he led the talk; and boasted of several parts of his. What finished him with me, was, that as often as the conversation seemed to take a serious turn, he
arose from his seat, and hummed an Italian air; of which, however, he knew nothing; but the sound of his own voice seemed to please him.
This fine gentleman recollected some highflown compliments, and, applying them to me, looked as if he expected I should value myself upon them.
No wonder that men in general think meanly of us women, if they believe we have ears to hear, and folly to be pleased with, the frothy things that pass under the name of compliments from such random-shooters as these.
Miss Stevens paid us a visit this afternoon. She is daughter of Colonel Stevens, a very worthy man. She appears sensible and unaffected; has read, my cousin says, a good deal; and yet takes no pride in shewing it.
Miss Darlington came with her. They are related. This young lady has, I find, a pretty taste in poetry. Mrs Reeves prevailed on her to shew us three of her performances. And now, as it was with some reluctance that she shewed them, is it fair to say anything about them? I say it only to you, my friends.—One was on the parting of two lovers; very sensible, and so tender, that it shewed the fair writer knew how to describe the pangs that may be innocently allowed to arise on such an occasion. -One on the morning dawn, and sun-rise; a subject that gave credit to herself; for she is, it seems, a very early riser. I petitioned for a copy of this, for the sake of two or three of my dear cousins, as well as to confirm my own prac tice; but I was modestly refused. The third was on the death of a favourite linnet; a little too pathetic for the occasion; since, were Miss Darlington to have lost her best and dearest friend, I imagine that she had in this piece, which is pretty long, exhausted the subject; and must borrow from it some of the images which she introduces to heighten her distress for the loss of the little songster. It is a very difficult matter, I believe, for young persons of genius to rein in their imaginations. A great flow of spirits, and great store of images crowding in upon them, carry them too frequently above their subject; and they are apt rather to say all that may be said on their favourite topics, than what is proper to be said. But it is a pretty piece, however.
LADY BETTY WILLIAMS Supped with us the same evening. She is an agreeable woman, the widow of a very worthy man, a near relation of Mr Reeves. She has a great and just regard for my cousin, and consults him in all affairs of importance. She seems to be turned of forty; has a son and daughter; but they are both abroad for education.
It hurt me to hear her declare, that she cared not for the trouble of education; and that she
had this pleasure, which girls brought up at home seldom give their mothers; that she and Miss Williams always saw each other, and always parted, as lovers.
Surely there must be some fault either in the temper of the mother, or in the behaviour of the daughter; and if so, I doubt it will not be amended by seeing each other but seldom. Do not lovers thus cheat and impose upon one another?
The young gentleman is about seventeen; his sister about fifteen ; and as I understand she is a very lively, and, 'tis feared, a forward girl, shall we wonder, if in a few years' time she should make such a choice for her husband as Lady Betty would least of all choose for a sonin-law? What influence can a mother expect to have over a daughter from whom she so voluntarily estranges herself? and from whose example the daughter can receive only hearsay benefits?
But, after all, methinks I hear my correcting uncle ask, May not Lady Betty have better reasons for her conduct in this particular, than she gave you?-She may; my uncle, and I hope she has; but I wish she had condescended to give those better reasons, since she gave any; and then you had not been troubled with the impertinent remarks of your saucy kinswoman.
Lady Betty was so kind as to take great notice of me. She desired to be one in every party of pleasure that I am to be engaged in. Persons who were often at public places, she observed, took as much delight in accompanying stran gers to them, as if they were their own. The apt comparisons, she said; the new remarks; the pretty wonder; the agreeable passions excited in such, on the occasion, always gave her high entertainment; and she was sure, from the observation of such a young lady, civilly bowing to me, she should be equally delighted and improved. I bowed in silence. I love not to make disqualifying speeches; by such we seem to intimate that we believe the complimenter to be in earnest, or, perhaps, that we think the compliment our due, and want to hear it either repeated or confirmed; and yet, possibly, we have not that pretty confusion, and those transient blushes, ready, which Mr Greville archly says are always to be at hand when we affect to disclaim the praises given us.
Lady Betty was so good as to stop there; though the muscles of her agreeable face shewed a polite promptitude, had I, by disclaiming her compliments, provoked them to perform their office.
Am I not a saucy creature?
I know I am. But I dislike not Lady Betty, for all that.
I am to be carried by her to a masquerade, to a ridotto; when the season comes, to Ranelagh and Vauxhall: in the meantime, to balls, routs, drums, and so forth; and, to qualify me for
these latter, I am to be taught all the fashionable games. Did my dear grandmamma, twenty or thirty years ago, think she should live to be told, that, to the dancing-master, the sing ing or music-master, the high mode would require the gaming-master to be added, for the completing of the female education?
Lady Betty will kindly take the lead in all these diversions.
And now, Lucy, will you not repeat your wishes, that I return to you with a sound heart? And are you not afraid that I should become a modern fine lady? As to the latter fear, I will tell you when you shall suspect me-If you find that I prefer the highest of these entertainments, or the Opera itself, well as I love music, to a good play of our favourite Shakespeare, then, my Lucy, let your heart ache for your Harriet: then be apprehensive that she is laid hold on by levity; that she is captivated by the eye and the ear; that her heart is infected by the modern taste; and that she will carry down with her an appetite to pernicious gaming; and, in order to support her extravagance, will think of punishing some honest man in marriage.
James has signified to Sally his wishes to be allowed to return to Selby-house. I have not, therefore, bought him the new liveries I design ed for him on coming to town. I cannot bear an uncheerful brow in a servant ; and he own ing to me, on my talking to him, his desire to return, I have promised that he shall, as soon as Mr Reeves has provided me with another servant. Silly fellow! But I hope my aunt will not dismiss him upon it. The servant I may hire may not care to go into the country perhaps, or may not so behave, as that I should choose to take him down with me. And James is honest; and his mother would break her heart, if he should be dismissed our service.
Several servants have already offered themselves; but, as I think people are answerable for the character of such as they choose for their domestics, I find no small difficulty in fixing. I am not of the mind of that great man, whose good-natured reason for sometimes preferring men no way deserving, was, that he loved to be a friend to those whom no other person would befriend. This was carrying his goodness very far, (if he made it not an excuse for himself, for having promoted a man who proved bad afterwards, rather than as supposing him to be so at the time;) since else, he seemed not to consider, that every bad man he promoted ran away with the reward due to a better.
Mr and Mrs Reeves are so kind to me, and their servants are so ready to oblige me, that I shall not be very uneasy, if I cannot soon get one to my mind. Only if I could fix on such a one, and if my grandmamma's Oliver should leave her, as she supposes he will, now he has married Ellen, as soon as a good inn offers, James may supply Oliver's place, and
the new servant may continue mine instead of James.
And now that I have gone so low, don't you wish me to put an end to this letter?—I believe you do.
Well then, with duty and love ever remembered where so justly due, believe me to be, my dear Lucy,
Your truly affectionate
I will write separately to what you say of Mr Greville, Mr Fenwick, and Miss Orme; yet hope to be time enough for the post.
MISS BYRON TO MISS SELBY.
Sat. Jan. 28.
As to what you say of Mr Greville's concern on my absence, (and, I think, with a little too much feeling for him,) and of his declaring himself unable to live without seeing me; I have but one fear about it, which is, that he is forming a pretence, from his violent love, to come up after me; and if he does, I will not see him, if I can help it.
And do you indeed believe him to be so much in love? By your seriousness on the occasion, you seem to think he is. O my Lucy! what a good heart you have! And did he not weep when he told you so? Did he not turn his head away, and pull out his handkerchief?-O these dissemblers! The hyena, my dear, was a male devourer. The men, in malice, and to extenuate their own guilt, made the creature a female. And yet there may be male and female of this species of monsters. But as women have more to lose, with regard to reputation, than men, the male hyæna must be infinitely the more dangerous creature of the two; since he will come to us, even into our very houses, fawning, cringing, weeping, licking our hands; while the den of the female is by the highway-side, and wretched youths must enter into it, to put it into her power to devour them.
Let me tell you, my dear, that if there be an artful man in England, with regard to us women, (artful equally in his free speaking, and in his sycophancies,) Mr Greville is the man; and he intends to be so too, and values himself upon his art. Does he not as boldly as constantly insinuate, that flattery is dearer to a woman than her food? Yet who so gross a flatterer as himself, when the humour is upon him? And yet at times he wants to build up a merit for sincerity or plain-dealing, by saying free things.
It is not difficult, my dear, to find out these men, were we earnest to detect them. Their chief strength lies in our weakness. But however weak we are, I think we should not add to the triumph of those who make our weakness