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them as lovers elect, you know, who only want to be coquetted with.
Miss Grandison, I hope, cannot think of coquetting?
Not much; only a little now and then, to pay the men in their own coin.
Charming vivacity! said I. I shall be undone, if you don't love me.
No fear, no fear of that !—I am a whimsical creature; but the sun is not more constant in his course than I am steady in my friendships. And these communications on both sides will rivet us to each other, if you treat me not with
She arose to go in a hurry. Abate, my dear Charlotte, of half your other visits, and favour me with your company a little longer.
Give me some chocolate, then; and let me see your cousins Reeves; I like them. Of the ten visits, six of the ladies will be gone to sales or to plague tradesmen, and buy nothing; anywhere rather than at home; the devil's at home, is a phrase; and our modern ladies live as if they thought so. Two of the other four called upon me, and hardly alighted; I shall do so by them. The other two I shall have paid my compliments to in one quarter of an hour.
I rang for chocolate; and to beg my cousins' company.
They wanted but the word; in they came. My apartment (which she was pleased to admire,) then became the subject of a few moments' conversation; and then a much better took place: Sir Charles, I mean.
I asked, if her brother had any relations at Canterbury?
I protest I don't know, said she; but this I know, that I have none there. Did I not hint you, that Sir Charles has his secrets ?-But he sometimes loves to play with my curiosity; he knows I have a reasonable quantity of that. Were I his sister
Then you must do as he would have you, Harriet. I know him to be steady in his purposes; but he is, besides, so good, that I give up anything to oblige him
Your entanglement, Charlotte? asked I, smiling. Mr Reeves knows nothing from that word.
Why, yes, my entanglement; and yet I hate to think of it; so no more of that. It is the only secret I have kept from him; and that is, because he has no suspicion of the matter; if he had, though my life were to be the forfeit, I believe he would have it.
She told us, that she expected us soon to dine with her in St James's Square; but that she must fix Sir Charles. I hope, said she, you will often drop in upon me; as I will upon you. From this time, we will have nothing but conversation-visits between us; and we will leave the modern world to themselves; and be Queen
Elizabeth's women. I am sorry to tell you-Let me whisper it
And she did; but loud enough for every one to hear; Although I follow the fashion, and make one fool the more for it, I despise above one-half of the women I know.
Miss Grandison, affectedly whispered I again, should not do so; because her example is of weight enough to mend them.
I'll be hanged if Miss Byron thinks so, rewhispered she. The age is too far gone. Nothing but a national calamity can do it. But let me tell you, that, at the same time, I despise more than one-half of the men.-But, speaking out, you and I will try to think ourselves wiser than anybody else; and we shall have this comfort, we shall not easily find any of our sex, who by their superior wisdom, will give us reason to think ourselves mistaken.
But, adieu, adieu, and adieu, my agreeable friends; let me see you, and you, and you, turning to each of the three, as often as is convenient, without ceremony; and remember we have been acquainted these hundred years.
Away she hurried, forbidding me to go out of my apartment. Mrs Reeves could not overtake her. Mr Reeves had much ado to be in time to make his compliments. She was in her chariot before he could offer his hand.
How pretty it was, my Lucy, in Miss Grandison to remember the names of all my dear friends! She told me, indeed, on Sunday, that she should.
If travelling into foreign countries gives ease and politeness, would not one think that Miss Grandison has visited every European court, as well as her brother? If she has not, was it necessary for Sir Charles to go abroad to acquire that freedom and ease which his sister has so happily attained without stirring out of the kingdom?
These men had not best despise us, Lucy. There is not, I hope, so much difference in the genius of the two sexes, as the proud ones among theirs are apt to imagine; especially when you draw comparisons from equal degrees in both.
O Mr Walden, take care of yourself, if ever again you and I meet at Lady Betty's !—But this abominable Sir Hargrave! Not one word more of meeting at Lady Betty's! There saw I first the wretch that still, on recollection, strikes terror into my heart!
Wednesday, a visit from Miss Clements and Lady Betty, took me off my writing about two hours; yet I over-writ myself, and was obliged to lie down for about two more. At night we had Sir John Allestree, and his nephew, and Miss Allestree, and Miss Clements, and Lady Betty, at supper, and cards. But, my stomach paining me, about eleven I was permitted to retire to bed.
On Thursday, I finished my letters, relating my distresses, and deliverance. It was a dreadful subject. I rejoiced when I had concluded
The same day Mr Reeves received Sir Charles's letter, enclosing that of the wretched Wilson. I have often heard my grandfather observe, that men of truly great and brave spirits are most tender and merciful; and that, on the contrary, men of base and low minds are cruel, tyrannical, insolent, wherever they have power. What this short letter, so full of lenity, of mercy, of generous and humane care for the future good of a criminal, and extended to unborn families, as well as to all his acquaintance and friends in being, enables one to judge of the truly heroic Sir Charles Grandison; and what I have experienced of the low, grovelling, unmanly insults of Sir Hargrave Pollexfen, (I, a poor, defenceless, silly girl, tricked into his power,) are flagrant proofs of the justice of the observation. I wish, with all my heart, that the best woman in the world were queen of a great nation; and that it were in my power, for the sake of enlarging Sir Charles's ability to do good, to make him her consort; then am I morally sure, that I should be the humble means of making a whole people happy!
But as we had all been informed from other hands of Sir Hargrave's threatenings of Sir Charles's life, Wilson's postscript has fastened a weight on my heart, that will not be removed till the danger is overblown.
This day I had Miss Grandison's compliments, with tender inquiries, brought me; and a desire, that as she supposed my first visit would be one of thankful duty, meaning to church, (for so I had told her it should,) my next might be to her.
Yesterday I received the welcome packet from so many kind friends; and I prosecuted with the more vigour, for it, my writing-task. How easily do we glide into subjects that please us!-How swiftly flies the pen!-The characters of Sir Charles and of Miss Grandison were the subjects; and I was amazed to find how much I had written in so short a time.
Miss Grandison sent me in the evening of this day her compliments, joined with those of her brother, who was but just returned from Canterbury.
I wonder what Sir Charles could do at Canterbury so many days, and to have nobody there whom his sister knows.
She would have made me a visit, she sent me word; but that as she expected her brother in the morning, she had intended to have brought him with her. She added, that this morning (Saturday) they should both set out for Colnebrook, in hopes of the Earl and Countess of L arriving there as this night from Scotland.
Do you think, Lucy, it would not have been generous in Sir Charles to have made one visit, before he set out for so many days to that Canterbury, to the creature on whom he had laid such an obligation? I can only mean as to the civility of the thing, you must think; since he was so good as to join in, nay, to propose, the farther intimacy, as a brother, and friend, and so forth-I wish that Sir Charles be as sincere in his professions as his sister. He may in his travels (possibly he may) have mistaken some gay weeds for fine flowers, and picked them up, and brought them with him to England; and yet if he has done so, he will even then be superior to thousands, who travel, and bring home nothing but the weeds of foreign climates.
He once said, as Miss Grandison told me, that is still a more excellent the Countess of Lwoman than my Charlotte. Ah! Sir Charles! you can tell fibs, I believe. I will not forgive those slighter deviations, which we are apt to pass by in other, even tolerable, men. I wish you may be in earnest, my good sir, in proposing to cultivate an intimate friendship with me, as that of a brother to a sister, [shake your head, my Lucy, if you will, I mean no more, that I may be entitled to tell you your faults, as I see them. In your sister Harriet you shall find, though a respectful, yet an openeyed monitor. Our Charlotte thinks you cannot be wrong in anything.
All I fear is, that Sir Charles's tenderness was designed to be excited only while my spirits were weak. Yet he bespoke a brotherly relation to me, before Mr Reeves, when he brought me home, and supposed me stolen from his family in my infancy. That was going farther than was necessary, if he thought to drop the fraternal character soon.
But might not my own behaviour alarm him? The kind, the considerate man, is perhaps compassionate in his intention. Not distinguishing aright my bashful gratitude, and down-cast eye, he might be afraid, lest I should add one to the half-score that his sister says will die if he marry.
If this be so, what, my dear, will your Harriet deserve, if his caution does not teach her some?
After all, I believe, these men in general think our hearts are made of strange combustible materials. A spark struck, a match thrown in-But the best of men, this admirable man, will, I hope, find himself mistaken, if he thinks so of your Harriet.
What ails me, that I am grown such a boaster! Surely, this horrid attempt of Sir Hargrave has not affected my brain. Methinks I am not, somehow or other, as I used to be in my head, or heart, I know not which.
Do you, Lucy, bring me back again, by your alterareminding love, if you think there is any
tion in your Harriet, for the worse; and the rather, as it may prevent my uncle
But what makes me so much more afraid of my uncle, than I used to be?-Yet men, in their raillery, [don't, however, read this paragraph to him, are so-I don't know how-so un-tender-But let me fall into the hands of my indulgent grandmamma, and aunt Selby, and into your gentle hands, and all will be as it should be.
But what was my subject, before this last seized, and ran away with, my pen? I did not use to wander thus, when I had a beaten path before me. O this vile, vile Sir Hargrave! If I have a fault in my head, that did not use to be there, it is entirely owing to him. I am sure my heart is not wrong.
But I can write nothing now but of Miss Grandison and her brother. What entirely new scenes are opened to me by my distress!—May I have cause, as Sir Charles wished, to reap good from evil!
I will endeavour to bring Miss Clements into an acquaintance with these worthies; that is to say, if I have myself the interest to preserve my footing in their favour.
Lady Betty resolves to recommend herself. She will be acquainted with them, she says, whether they will or not. And yet I could not bear for Lady Betty that she should be slighted by those whom she dotes upon. That, surely, is one of the heaviest of evils. And yet selflove, where it is evidently inherent, will enable one to get over it, I believe, pretty soon; though nothing but that and pride can, in such. Of some use, therefore, you'll be apt to say, are pride and self-love. Why, yes, and so they are, where they are a part of a person's habit. But, O my Lucy! will not a native humility render this pride, whose genuine offspring are resentment and ill-will, absolutely unnecessary, and procure for us, unmingled with mortification, the esteem we wish for in the hearts of the worthy? As to the rest of my new acquaintance in town, who, till I knew this admirable sister and brother, took up so much of my paper, though some of them are doubtless very worthy; adieu -That is to say, as chosen subjects-Adieu! says your
MISS BYRON TO MISS SELBY.
Saturday Night. LORD have mercy upon me, my dear!-What shall I do?-The vile Sir Hargrave has sent a challenge to Sir Charles !-What may be the event!-O that I had not come to London!
This is a copy of the letter that communicates it. It is from that Bagenhall. But this is a copy of the letter-I will endeavour to transcribe it.-But, no, I cannot-My Sally shall write it over. Lord bless me, what shall I do?
TO MISS BYRON.
Cavendish Square, Feb. 25.
You might easily believe, that the affair betwixt Sir Hargrave Pollexfen and Sir Charles Grandison could not, after so violent an insult as the former received from the latter, end without consequences.
By all that's sacred, Sir Hargrave knows not that I write.
There is but one way that I can think of to prevent bloodshed; and that, madam, seems to be in your own power..
Sir Hargrave insists upon it, that he meant you nothing but honour. You know the use or abuse of the power he had obtained over you. If he behaved with indecency, he tells me not the truth.
To make a young lady, whatever were her merit, the wife of a man of near 10,000l. ayear, and who has declared herself absolutely disengaged in her affections, was not doing dishonour to her, so much as to himself, in the violent measures his love obliged him to take to make her so.
Now, madam, as Sir Charles Grandison was utterly a stranger to you; as Sir Hargrave intended so honourably by you; and as you are not engaged in your affections; if you will consent to be Lady Pollexfen; and if Sir Charles Grandison will ask pardon for his unprovoked knight-errantry; I will not be Sir Hargrave's second in the affair, if he refuse to accept of such satisfaction in full for the violence he sustained.
I solemnly repeat, that Sir Hargrave knows nothing of my writing to you. You may (but I insist upon it, as in confidence to everybody else) consult your cousin Reeves on the subject. Your honour given, that you will in a month's time be Sir Hargrave's, will make me exert all my power with him (and I have reason to think that is not small) to induce him to compromise on those terms.
I went to Sir Charles's house yesterday afternoon, with a letter from Sir Hargrave. Sir Charles was just stepping into his chariot to his sister. He opened it; and, with a civility that became his character, told me he was just going with his sister to Colnebrook, to meet dear friends on their return from Scotland; that he should return on Monday; that the pleasure he should have with his long absent friends, would
not permit him to think of the contents till then; but that the writer should not fail of such an answer as a gentleman ought to give.
Now, madam, I was so much charmed with Sir Charles Grandison's fine person and politeness, and his character is so extraordinary, that I thought this interval between this night and Monday morning a happy one. And I took it into my head to make the above proposal to you; and I hope you will think it behoves you, as much as it does me, to prevent the fatal mischief that may otherwise happen, to men of their consideration.
I have not the honour of being personally known to you, madam; but my character is too generally established for any one to impute to me any other motives for this my application to you, than those above given. A line left for me at Sir Hargrave's, in Cavendish Square, will come to the hands of,
Your most obedient humble servant, JAMES BAGENHALL.
O MY DEAR! what a letter!-Mr Reeves, Mrs Reeves, are grieved to the heart. Mr Reeves says, that, if Sir Hargrave insists upon it, Sir Charles is obliged, in honour, to meet him.Murderous, vile word, honour! What, at this rate, is honour? The very opposite to duty, goodness, piety, religion; and to everything that is, or ought to be, sacred among men.
How shall I look Miss Grandison in the face? Miss Grandison will hate me! To be again the occasion of endangering the life of such a brother!
But what do you think?-Lady Betty is of opinion-Mr Reeves has consulted Lady Betty Williams, in confidence-Lady Betty says, that if the matter can be prevented-Lord bless me! she says, I ought to prevent it!-What! by becoming the wife of such a man as Sir Hargrave! so unmanly, so malicious, so low a wretch!-What does Lady Betty mean?-Yet, were it in my power to save the life of Sir Charles Grandison, and I refused to do it; for selfish reasons refused; for the sake of my worldly happiness; when there are thousands of good wives, who are miserable with bad husbands-But will not the sacrifice of my life be acceptable by this sanguinary man! That, with all my heart, would I make no scruple to lay down. If the wretch will plunge a dagger in my bosom, and take that for satisfaction, I will not hesitate one moment.
But my cousin said, that he was of opinion, that Sir Charles would hardly be brought to ask pardon. How can I doubt, said I, that the vile man, if he may be induced by this Bagenhall to compromise on my being his wife, will dispense with that punctilio, and wreak on me, were I to be his unhappy property, his whole unmanly vengeance? Is he not spiteful, mean,
malicious?-But, abhorred be the thought of my yielding to be the wife of such a man!— Yet, what is the alternative? Were I to die, that wretched alternative would still take place; his malice to the best of men, would rather be whetted than blunted by my irrevocable destiny! O, my Lucy! violent as my grief was, dreadful as my apprehensions were, and unmanly as the treatment I met with from the base man, I never was distressed till now!
But, should Miss Grandison advise, should she insist upon my compliance with the abhorred condition, (and has she not a right to insist upon it, for the sake of the safety of her innocent brother?) can I then refuse my compliance with it? Are we not taught that this world is a state of trial, and of mortification? And is not calamity necessary to wean our vain hearts from it? And, if my motive be a motive of justice and gratitude, and to save a life much more valuable to the world than my own; and which, but for me, had not been in danger -Ought I—And yet-Ah! my Lucy, what can I say?-How unhappy! that I cannot consult this dear lady, who has such an interest in a life so precious, as I might have done, had she been
O, Lucy! what an answer, as this unwelcome, this wicked mediator gives it, was that which the excellent man returned to the delivered challenge" I am going to meet dear friends on their return from Scotland!" What a meeting of joy will be here saddened over, if they know of this shocking challenge! and how can his noble heart overflow with pleasure on this joyful occasion, as it would otherwise have done, with such an important event in suspense, that may make it the last meeting which this affectionate and most worthy of families will ever know! How near may be the life of this dear brother to a period, when he congratulates the safe arrival of his brother and sister! And who can bear to think of seeing, ere one week is over-past, the now rejoicing and harmonious family, clad in mourning for the first of brothers, and first of men? and I, my Lucy, I, the wretched Harriet Byron, to be the cause of all!
And could the true hero say, "That the pleasure he should have on meeting his long absent friends, would not permit him to think of the contents of such a letter till Monday; but that then the writer should not fail of such an answer-as a gentleman ought to give?"-O, my dear Sir Charles! [on this occasion he is, and ought to be, very dear to me, how I dread the answer which vile custom, and false honour, will oblige you, as a gentleman, to give! And is there no way with honour to avoid giving such an answer, as distracts me to be told (as Mr Reeves tells me) must be given, if I, your Harriet, interpose not, to the sacrifice of all my happiness in this life?
But, Mr Reeves asks, may not this Bagen
hall, though he says Sir Hargrave knows nothing of his writing, have written in concert with him?-What if he has, does not the condition remain? and will not the resentment, on the refusal, take place?-And is not the challenge delivered into Sir Charles's hands? And has he not declared, that he will send an answer to it on Monday? This is carrying the matter beyond.contrivance or stratagem. Sir Charles, so challenged, will not let the challenger come off so easily. He cannot, in real honour, now, make proposals for qualifying; or accept of them, if made to him. And is not Monday the next day but one?-Only that day between, for which I have been preparing my grateful heart to return my silent praises to the Almighty, in the place dedicated to his honour, for so signal a deliverance! and now is my safety to be owing, as it may happen, to a much better person's destruction !
I WAS obliged to lay down my pen.-See how the blistered paper-It is too late to send away this letter; if it were not, it would be barbarous to torment you with it, while the dreadful suspense holds.
I AM unable to write on in the manner I used to do. Not a moment all the night past did I close my eyes. How they are swelled with weeping! I am preparing, however, to go to church; there will I renew my fervent prayers, that my grateful thanksgiving for the past deliverance may be blessed to me in the future event!
Mr Reeves thinks that no step ought to be, or can be, taken in this shocking affair, till Sir Charles returns, or Miss Grandison can be consulted. He has taken measures to know every motion of the vile Sir Hargrave.
Lord bless me, my dear! the man has lost three of his fore-teeth! A man so vain of his person! O, how must he be exasperated!
Mr Reeves also will be informed of Sir Charles's arrival the moment he comes to town. He has private information, that the furious Sir Hargrave has with him a man skilled in the science of offence, with whom he is practising -O, my dear, how this distracts me!
For Mr Reeves or me to answer this Bagenhall, Mr Reeves says, is not to be thought of, as he is a wicked man, and was not likely to have written the alarming letter from good principles. I once, indeed, proposed to write-I knew not what to do, what to propose.-Can you write, said Mr Reeves, and promise or give hope to Sir Hargrave?
O, no, no! answered I.
If you could, it is my opinion, that Sir Charles and his sister would both despise you,
however self-denying and laudable your motive might be.
Monday Morning, Feb. 27. WHAT a dreadful day was yesterday to me; and what a still worse night had I, if possible, than the former! My prayers, I doubt, cannot be heard, since they have not that affiance with them that they used to be attended with. How happy was I before I came to London! I cannot write; I cannot do anything. Mr Reeves is just informed, that Sir Charles and Lord L- and the two sisters, arrived in town late last night. O, my Lucy, to return such an answer, I doubt, as Sir Charles thinks a gentleman ought to send. Good heaven! how will this day end?
Eight o'clock. I HAVE received this moment the following billet.
MY DEAR HARRIET,
PREPARE yourself for a new admirer. My sister L- and I are resolved to breakfast with you, unless you forbid us by the bearer. If we find you to have made an attempt to alter your usual morning appearance, we shall suspect you of a desire to triumph over us in the consciousness of your superior graces. It is a sudden resolution. You should have had otherwise notice last night; and yet it was late before we came to town.-Have you been good? Are you quite recovered? But in half an hour, I hope to ask you an hundred thousand questions.
Compliments to our cousins.
HERE is a sweet sprightly billet. Miss Grandison cannot know, the Countess cannot know, anything of the dreadful affair, that has given to my countenance, and I am sure will continue on it, an appearance, that, did I not always dress when I arose for the morning, would make me regardless of that Miss Grandison hints at.
What joy, at another time, would the honour of this visit have given us! But, even now, we have a melancholy pleasure in it; just such a one as the sorrowing friends of the desperate sick experience, on the coming in of a longexpected physician, although they are in a manner hopeless of his success. But a coach stops