« EdellinenJatka »
I ran to the dining-room window. O, my dear! it is a coach! but only the two ladies! Good God!-Sir Charles at this moment, my boding heart tells me
My heart is a little lighter; yet not unapprehensive-Take my narrative in course, as I shall endeavour to give you the particulars of everything that passed in the last more than agreeable three hours.
I had just got down into the great parlour before the ladies entered. Mr Reeves waited on them at their coach. He handed in the Countess. Miss Grandison, in a charming humour, entered with them. There, Lady L- -, first know our cousin Reeves, said she
The Countess, after saluting Mrs Reeves, turned to me-There, Lady L, said Miss Grandison, that's the girl! that's our Harriet ! -Her ladyship saluted me-But, how now! said Miss Grandison, looking earnestly in my face. How now, Harriet?-Excuse me, Lady L- (taking my hand,) I must reckon with this girl; leading me to the window-How now, Harriet?-Those eyes!-Mr Reeves, cousin, Mrs Reeves!-What's to do here?
Lively and ever-amiable Miss Grandison, thought I, how will, by and by, all this sweet sunshine in your countenance be shut in!
Come, come, I will know, proceeded she, making me sit down, and taking my hand as she sat by me, her fan in the other hand; I will know the whole of the matter.-That's my dear, for I tried to smile-An April eye-Would to Heaven the month was come which my Harriet's eye anticipates !
I sighed. Well, but why that heavy sigh? said she.-Our grandmother Shirley—
I hope, madam, is very well.
Our aunt Selby? Our uncle Selby? Our Lucy?
All well, I hope.
What a deuce ails the girl then? Take care I don't have cause to beat you!-Have any of your fellows hanged themselves?-and are you concerned they did not sooner find the rope? but come, we will know all by and by.
Charlotte, said the Countess approaching me, [I stood up, you oppress our new sister: I wish, my dear, you would borrow a few of our younger sister's blushes. Let me take you out of this lively girl's hands: I have much ado to keep her down, though I am her elder sister. Nobody but my brother can manage her.
Miss Grandison, madam, is all goodness. We have been all disturbed, said Mrs Reeves, [I was glad to be helped out, in the fear that Sir Hargrave Pollexfen
O, madam! he dare not; he will not :-he'll be glad to be quiet, if you'll let him, said the Countess.
It was plain they knew nothing of the challenge.
You have not heard anything particular, asked Miss Grandison, of Sir Hargrave?
I hope your brother, madam, has not, answered I.
Not a word, I dare say.
You must believe, ladies, said I, that I must be greatly affected, were anything likely to happen to my deliverer; as all must have been laid at my door. Such a family harmony to be interrupted
Come, said Miss Grandison, this is very good of you this is like a sister: But I hope my brother will be here by and by.
And Lord L-, added the obliging Countess, wants to see you, my dear. Come, my love, if Charlotte is naught, he will make a party against her; and she shall be but my second best sister. I hope my lord and Sir Charles will come together, if they can but shake off wicked Everard, as we call a kinsman, whom Sir Charles has no mind to introduce to you, without your leave.
But we'll not stay breakfast for them, said Miss Grandison: they were not certain; and desired we would not.-Come, come, get us some breakfast; Lady L- has been up before her hour; and I have told you, Harriet, that I am an early riser. I don't choose to eat my glovesBut I must do something to divert my hunger: and, stepping to the harpsichord, she touched the keys in such a manner, as shewed she could make them speak what language she pleased.
I attended to her charming finger: so did every one. But breakfast coming in-No, but I won't, said she, anticipating our requests; and continuing the air by her voice, ran to the table: Hang ceremony, said she, sitting down first; let slower souls compliment: and, taking some muffin, I'll have breakfasted before these pray madams, and pray my dears, are seated.
Mad girl! Lady L called her. These, Mrs Reeves, are always her airs with us: but Í thought she would have been restrained by the example of her sister Harriet. We have utterly spoiled the girl by our fond indulgence. But, Charlotte, is a good heart to be everywhere pleaded for a whimsical head?
Who sees not the elder sister in that speech? replied Miss Grandison: but I am the most generous creature breathing; yet nobody finds it out. For why do I assume these silly airs, but to make you, Lady L, shine at my expense?
Still, Lucy, the contents of that Bagenhall's letter hung heavy at my heart. But, as I could not be sure but Sir Charles had his reasons for concealing the matter from his sisters, I knew not how to enter directly into the subject: But, thought I, cannot I fish something out for the quiet of my own heart; and lcave to Sir Charles's
discretion the manner of his revealing the matter to his sisters, or otherwise?
Did your ladyship, said I to Lady Larrive on Saturday I knew not how to begin] at the hospitable house at Colnebrook, my asylum?
I did: and shall have a greater value for that house than ever I had before, for its having afforded a shelter to so valuable a lady.
You have been told, ladies, I suppose, of that Wilson's letter to Sir Charles?
We have: and rejoice to find that so deep a plot was so happily frustrated.
His postscript gives me concern.
That Sir Hargrave breathed nothing but revenge.
Sir Charles told us nothing of that: but it is not unlikely that a man so greatly disappointed should rave and threaten. I am told that he is still, either by shame or illness, confined to his chamber.
At that moment a chariot stopped at the door : and instantly, It is Lord L, and Sir Charles with him, said Miss Grandison.
I dared not to trust myself with my joy. hurried out at one of the doors, as if I had forgot something, as they entered the other. I rushed into the back parlour-Thank God! thank God! said I-My gratitude was too strong for my heart: I thought I should have fainted.
Do you wonder, Lucy, at my being so much affected, when I had been in such a dreadful suspense, and had formed such terrible ideas of the danger of one of the best of men, all owing to his serving and saving me?
Surprises for joy, I fancy, and where gratitude is the principal spring, are sooner recovered from than surprises which raise the more stormy passions. Mrs Reeves came in to me: My dear! your withdrawing will be noticed. I was just coming in, said I: and so I was. went in.
Sir Charles bowed low to me: so did my lord. Permit me, madam, said Sir Charles, to present Lord L- to you: he is our brotherOur late-found sister Harriet, my lord.
Yes, but Sir Charles, said Miss Grandison, Miss Byron, and Mr and Mrs Reeves, have been tormenting themselves about a postscript to that footman's letter. You told not us of that postscript.
Who minds postscripts, Charlotte? Except, indeed, to a lady's letter. One word with you, good Miss Byron; taking my hand, and leading me to the window.
How the fool coloured! I could feel my face glow.
O, Lucy! what a consciousness of inferiority fills a mind not ungenerous, when it labours under the sense of obligations it cannot return!
My sister Charlotte, madam, was impatient
to present to you her beloved sister. Lady Lwas impatient to attend you. My Lord Lwas equally desirous to claim your acquaintance. They insisted upon introducing my lord. I thought it was too precipitate a visit, and might hurt your delicacy, and make Charlotte and me appear, as if we had been ostentatiously boasting of the opportunities that had been thrown into our hands, to do a very common service. I think I see you are hurt. Forgive me, madam, I will follow my own judgment another time. Only be assured of this, that your merits, and not the service, have drawn this visit upon you.
I could not be displeased at this polite address, as it helped me to an excuse for behaving so like a fool, as he might think, since he knew not the
You are very obliging, sir. My Lord and Lady L- - do me great honour. Miss Grandison cannot do anything but what is agreeable to me. In such company, I am but a common person: but my gratitude will never let me look upon your seasonable protection as a common service. I am only anxious for the consequence to yourself. I should have no pretence to the gratitude I speak of, if I did not own that the reported threatenings, and what Wilson writes by way of postscript, have given me disturbance, lest your safety, on my account, be brought into hazard.
Miss Byron speaks like herself: but, whatever were to be the consequences, can you think, madam, that a man of any spirit could have acted otherwise than I did? Would I not have been glad, that any man would have done just the same thing, in favour of my sister Charlotte? Could I behave with greater moderation? I am pleased with myself on looking back; and that I am not always: there shall be no consequence follow, that I am not forced upon in my own necessary defence.
We spoke loud enough to be heard: and Miss Grandison, joining us, said, But pray, brother, tell us if there be any grounds to apprehend anything from what the footman writes?
You cannot imagine but Sir Hargrave would bluster and threaten. To lose such a prize, so near as he thought himself to carrying his point, must affect a man of his cast: but are ladies to be troubled with words? Men of true courage do not threaten.
Shall I beg one word with you, Sir Charles? said my cousin Reeves.
They withdrew to the hack parlour; and there Mr Reeves, who had the letter of that Bagenhall, shewed it to him.
As a tender-hearted woman, and as one who thinks already much too highly of what was done, she may be distressed: but does she hesitate a moment upon the part she ought to take? does she not despise the writer and the writing? -I thought Miss Byron
He stopt, it seemed, and spoke and looked warm; the first time, said Mr Reeves, that I thought Sir Charles, on occasion, passionate.
I wish, Lucy, that he had not stopt. I wish he had said what he thought Miss Byron. I own to you, that it would go to my heart, if I knew that Sir Charles Grandison thought me a mean
And could it be supposed by these mean men, (all men are mean, Mr Reeves, who can be premeditatedly guilty of a baseness,) that I would be thought to ask pardon, for my part in this affair? No man, Mr Reeves, would be more ready than myself to ask pardon, even of my inferior, had I done a wrong thing: but never should a prince make me stoop to disavow a right one.
But, Sir Charles, let me ask you, has Sir Hargrave challenged you? Did this Bagenhall bring you a letter?
Sir Hargrave has: Bagenhall did but what of that, Mr Reeves? I promised an answer on Monday. I would not so much as think of setting pen to paper on such an account, to interrupt for a moment the happiness I had hoped to receive in the meeting of a sister and her lord, so dear to me. An answer I have accordingly sent him this day.
You have sent him an answer, sir!—I am in great apprehensions
You have no reason, Mr Reeves, I do assure you. But let not my sisters, nor Lord Lknow of this matter. Why should I, who cannot have a moment's uneasiness upon it, for my own sake, have the needless fears and apprehensions of persons to whom I wish to give nothing but pleasure, to contend with? An imaginary distress, to those who think it more than imaginary, is a real one: and I cannot bear to see my friends unhappy.
Have you accepted, sir-Have you
I have been too much engaged, Mr Reeves, in such causes as this: I never drew my sword' but in my own defence, and when no other means could defend me. I never could bear a designed insult. I am naturally passionate. You know not the pains it has cost me, to keep
my passion under: but I have suffered too much in my after-regret, when I have been hurried away by it, not to endeavour to restrain its first sallies.
I hope, sir, you will not meet
I will not meet any man, Mr Reeves, as a duellist: I am not so much a coward, as to beafraid of being branded for one. I hope my spirit is in general too well known, for any one to insult me on such an imputation. Forgive the seeming vanity, Mr Reeves; but I live not to the world: I live to myself; to the monitor within me.
Mr Reeves applauded him with his hands and eyes; but could not in words. The heart spoke these last words, said my cousin. How did his face seem to shine in my eyes!
There are many bad customs, Mr Reeves, that I grieve for: but for none so much as this of premeditated duelling. Where is the magnanimity of the man that cannot get above the vulgar breath? How many fatherless, brotherless, sonless families have mourned all their lives the unhappy resort to this dreadful practice! A man who defies his fellow-creature into the field, in a private quarrel, must first defy his God; and what are his hopes, but to be a murderer; to do an irreparable injury to the innocent family and dependents of the murdered?-But since you have been let into the matter so far, by the unaccountable letter you let me see, I will shew you Sir Hargrave's to me.-This is it, pulling it out of his pocket-book.
You did well, Sir Charles Grandison, to leave your name. My scoundrels were too far off their master to inform themselves by the common symbols, who the person was that insulted an innocent man (as to him innocent, however) on the highway. You expected to hear from me, it is evident; and you should have heard before now, had I been able, from the effects of the unmanly surprise you took advantage of, to leave my chamber. I demand from you the satisfaction due to a gentleman. The time your own; provided it exceed not next Wednesday; which will give you opportunity, I suppose, to settle your affairs; but the sooner the better. The place, if you have no objections, Kensington Gravel-pits. I will bring pistols for your choice; or you may for mine, which you will. The rest may be left to my worthy friend Mr Bagenhall, who is so kind as to carry you this, on my part; and to some one whom you will pitch upon, on yours. Till when, I am
Your humble servant,
I have a copy of my answer somewhere-Here it is. You will wonder, perhaps, Mr Reeves,
on such a subject as this, to find it a long one. Had Sir Hargrave known me better than he does, six lines might have been sufficient.
MR BAGENHALL gave me yours on Saturday last, just as I was stepping into my chariot to go out of town. Neither the general contents, nor the time mentioned in it, made it necessary for me to alter my measures. My sister was already in the chariot. I had not done well to make a woman uneasy. I have many friends; and I have great pleasure in promoting theirs. I promised an answer on Monday.
My answer is this-I have ever refused (and the occasion has happened too often) to draw my sword upon a set and formal challenge. Yet I have reason to think, from the skill I pretend to have in the weapons, that, in declining to do so, I consult my conscience rather than my safety.
Have you any friends, Sir Hargrave? Do they love you? Do you love them? Are you desirous of life for their sakes? for your own? Have you enemies to whom your untimely end would give pleasure?-Let these considerations weigh with you: they do, and always did, with me. I am cool: you cannot be So. The cool person, on such an occasion as this, should put the warm one on thinking: this, however, as you please.
But one more question let me ask you-If you think I have injured you, is it prudent to give me a chance, were it but a chance, to do you a still greater injury?
You were engaged in an unlawful enterprize. If you would not have done by me in the same situation, what I did by you, you are not, let me tell you, Sir Hargrave, the man of honour, that a man of honour should be solicitous to put upon a foot with himself.
I took not an unmanly advantage of you, Sir Hargrave: you drew upon me: I drew not in return. You had a disadvantage in not quitting your chariot; after the lunge you made at me, you may be thankful that I made not use of it.
I should not have been sorry, had I been able to give the lady the protection she claimed, with less hurt to yourself. For I could have no malice in what I did: although I had, and have still, a just abhorrence of the violence you were guilty of to a helpless woman; and who, I have found since, merited better treatment from you; and indeed merits the best from all the world; and whose life was endangered by the violence. I write a long letter, because I propose only to write. Pardon me for repeating, that the men who have acted, as you and I have acted, as well with regard to the lady as to each other, cannot, were their principles such as would permit them to meet, meet upon a foot.
Let any man insult me upon my refusal, and put me upon my defence, and he shall find that numbers to my single arm shall not intimidate me. Yet, even in that case, I would much rather choose to clear myself of them as a man of honour should wish to do, than either to kill or maim any man. My life is not my own: much less is another man's mine. Him who thinks differently from me, I can despise as heartily as he can despise me. And if such a one imagines that he has a title to my life, let him take it: but it must be in my own way, not in his.
In a word, if any man has aught against me, and will not apply for redress to the laws of his country, my goings out, and comings in, are always known; and I am any hour of the day to be found, or met with, wherever I have a proper call. My sword is a sword of defence, not of offence. A pistol I only carry on the road, to terrify robbers: and I have found a less dangerous weapon sometimes sufficient to repel a sudden insult. And now, if Sir Hargrave Pollexfen be wise, he will think himself obliged for this not unfriendly expostulation, or whatever he pleases to call it, to His most humble servant,
Mr Reeves besought Sir Charles to let him shew me these letters. You may, Mr Reeves, said he; since I intend not to meet Sir Hargrave in the way he prescribes.
As I asked not leave, my Lucy, to take copies of them, I beg they may not be seen out of the venerable circle.
I know I need not say how much I am pleased with the contents of the letter: I doubt not but you all will be equally so: yet, as Sir Charles himself expects not that Sir Hargrave will rest the matter here; and indeed says he cannot, consistently with the vulgar notions of honour; do you think I can be easy, as all this is to be placed to my account?
But it is evident that Sir Charles is. He is governed by another set of principles, than those of false honour; and shews what his sister says to be true, that he regards first his duty, and then what is called honour. How does the knowledge of these his excellencies raise him in my mind! Indeed, Lucy, I seem sometimes to feel, as if my gratitude had raised a throne for him in my heart; but yet as for a near friend, as a beloved brother only. My reverence for him is too great-Assure yourself, my dear, that this reverence will always keep me right.
Sir Charles and Mr Reeves returning into company, the conversation took a general turn. But, oppressed with obligations as I am, I could not be lively. My heart, as Miss Grandison says, is, I believe, a proud one. And when I thought of what might still happen, (who knows, but
from assassination, in resentment of some very spirited strokes in Sir Charles's letter, as well as from the disgrace the wretch must carry in his face to the grave?) I could not but look upon this fine man, who seemed to possess his own soul in peace, sometimes with concern, and even with tender grief, on supposing, that now, lively and happy as he seemed to be, and the joy of all his friends, he might possibly, and perhaps in a few hours-How can I put down my horrid thoughts!
At other times, indeed, I cast an eye of some pleasure upon him, (when he looked another way,) on thinking him the only man on earth, to whom, in such distress, I could have wished to owe the obligations I am under to him. His modest merit, thought I, will not make one uneasy : he thinks the protection afforded but a common protection. He is accustomed to do great and generous things. I might have been obliged to a man whose fortune might have made it convenient for him to hope such advantages from the risk he run for me, as prudence would have made objections to comply with, not a little embarrassing to my gratitude.
But here my heart is left free. And O! thought I, now-and-then, as I looked upon him, Sir Charles Grandison is a man with whom I would not wish to be in love. I, to have so many rivals! he, to be so much admired! Women ought to stay till they are asked, as Miss Grandison once said; his heart must be proof against those tender sensations, which grow into ardour, and glow, in the bosom of a man pursuing a first and only love.
I warrant, my Lucy, if the truth were known, although Sir Charles has at Canterbury, or at one place or other, his half-score ladies, who would break their hearts if he were to marry, yet he knows not any one of them whom he loves better than another. And all but right! All but justice, if they will not stay till they are asked!
Miss Grandison invited Mr and Mrs Reeves, and me, to dinner, on Wednesday, and for the rest of the day and evening. It was a welcome invitation.
The Countess expressed herself pleased with Poor and spiritless as was the figure which I made in this whole visit, her prepossession in my favour from Miss Grandison must have been very great and generous.
as I am
And will you not, before now, have expected, that I should have brought you acquainted with the persons of Lord and Lady Laccustomed to give you descriptions of every one to whom I am introduced?
To be sure we have, say you. Well, but my mind has not always been in tune to gratify you. And, upon my word, I am much humbled with one thing, and another, that I have lost all that pertness, I think, which used to give such a liveliness to my heart, and
alertness to my pen, as made the writing-task
Lady L is a year older than Sir Charles; but has that true female softness and delicacy in her features, which make her perfectly lovely; and she looks to be two or three years younger than she is. She is tall and slender; and enjoys the blessing of health and spirits in a high degree. There is something of more dignity and sprightliness in the air and features of Miss Grandison, than in those of Lady L-; but there is in those of the latter so much sweetness and complacency, that you are not so much afraid of her as you are of her sister. The one you are sure to love at first sight; the other you will be ready to ask leave to let you love her; and to be ready to promise that you will, if she will spare you; and yet, whether she will or not, you cannot help it.
Lady L- is such a wife, I imagine, as a good woman should wish to be thought. The behaviour of my lord to her, and of her to my lord, is free, yet respectful; affectionate, but not apishly fond. One sees their love for each other in their eyes. All love-matches are not happy; this was a match of love; and does honour to it. Everybody speaks of Lady LMiss Grandison, by her with equal affection and respect, as a discreet and prudent woman. livelier manner, is not so well understood in those lights as she ought to be; and, satisfied with the worthiness of her own heart, is above giving herself concern about what the world thinks of it.
Lord L- is not handsome; but he is very agreeable. He has the look of an honest good man; and of a man of understanding. And he is what he looks to be. He is genteel, and has the air of a true British nobleman; one of those, I imagine, that would have been respected by his appearance and manners, in the purest times, a hundred or two years (or how long?) ago.
I am to have the family history of this lord and lady on both sides, and of their loves, their difficulties, and of the obligations they talk of being under to their brother; to whom both my look. every lord and lady behave with love that carries the heart in every word, in
What, my dear, shall we say to this brother? Does he lay everybody that knows him under obligation? And is there no way to be even with him in any one thing? I long to have some intimate conversation with Miss Grandison, by which I shall perhaps find out the art he has of making everybody proud of acknowledging an inferiority to him.
I almost wish I could, while I stay in town, devote half my time to this amiable family; without breaking in upon them so much as to be thought impertinent. The other half ought.