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metans; though in this company, perhaps― But I hope I need not, however, remind anybody here, that that one doctrine of returning good for evil, is a nobler and more heroic doctrine than either of those people, or your own, Mr Merceda, ever knew.
Mr Jor. You have shewn it, Sir Charles, by example, by practice, to be so. I never saw a hero till now.
Sir Ch. One modern instance, however, of a challenge refused, I recollect, and which may be given, by way of inference, at least, to the advantage of my argument. The army of the famous Mareschal Turenne, in revenge for injuries more than hostile, as was pretended, had committed terrible depredations in the palatinate. The elector, incensed at the unsoldierly destruction, challenged the mareschal to a single combat. The mareschal's answer was to this effect: "That if the trust which the king his master had reposed in him, would permit him to accept of his challenge, he would not refuse it; but, on the contrary, would deem it an honour to measure his arms with those of so illustrious a prince: but that, for the sake of his master's service, he must be excused."
Now, though I think the mareschal might have returned a still better answer, (though this was not a bad one for a military man,) yet where we can, as Christians and as men, plead the divine laws, and have not, when we meet, as private subjects, the mareschal's, nor even the Goth's excuse, I think the example worthy consideration.
And if, gentlemen, I have argued before now, or should hereafter argue, as follows, to a challenger, shall I deserve either to be branded or insulted?
Of what use are the laws of society, if magistracy may be thus defied? Were I to accept of your challenge, and were you to prevail against me, who is to challenge you? and if you fall, who him by whose sword you perish? Where, in short, is the evil to stop? But I will not meet you. My system is self-defence, and self-defence only. Put me upon that, and I question not but you will have cause to repent it. A premeditated revenge is that which I will not meet you to gratify. I will not dare to risk the rushing into my Maker's presence from the consequences of an act, which cannot, in the man that falls, admit of repentance, and leaves for the survivor's portion nothing but bitter remorse. I fear not any more the reproaches of men, than your insults on this occasion. Be the latter offered to me at your peril. It is perhaps as happy for you as for myself, that I have a fear of an higher nature. Be the event what it will, the test you would provoke me to, can decide nothing as to the justice of the cause on either side. Already you will find me disposed to do you the justice you pretend to seek. For your own sake, therefore, consider better of the
matter; since it is not impossible, but, were we to meet, and both survive, you may exchange, what you will think a real disgrace for an imaginary one.
And thus, gentlemen, have I almost syllogistically argued with myself on this subject:Courage is a virtue ;
Inordinate passion is a vice:
Such passion, therefore, cannot be courage. Does it not then behove every man of true honour, to shew that reason has a greater share than resentment in the boldness of his resolves?
And what, by any degree, is so reasonable as a regard to our duty?
You called upon me, gentlemen, to communicate my notions on this important subject. I have the more willingly obeyed you, as I hope Sir Hargrave, on the occasion that brought us to this not unhappy breakfasting, will be the better satisfied that it has so ended; and as, if you are so good as to adopt them, they may be of service to others of your friends, in case of debates among them. Indeed, for my own sake, I have always been ready to communicate my notions on this head, in hopes sometimes to be spared provocation; for, as I have owned, I am passionate; I have pride; I am often afraid of myself; and the more, because I am not naturally, I will presume to say, a timid man.
Mr Bag. Fore God, Sir Hargrave, somebody has escaped a scouring, as the saying is. Mr Mer. Ay, by my life, Sir Hargrave, you had like to have caught a Tartar.
Sir Ch. The race is not always to the swift, gentlemen. Sir Hargrave's passion would, doubtless, have laid him under disadvantage: defence is guarded; offence exposes itself.
Mr Bag. But, Sir Charles, you despise no man, I am sure, for differing from you in opinion. I am a Catholic
Sir Ch. A Roman Catholic-No religion teaches a man evil. I honour every man who lives up to what he professes.
Mr Bag. But that is not the case with me, I doubt.
Mr Mer. That is out of doubt, Bagenhall. Mr Jor. The truth is, Mr Bagenhall has found his conveniences in changing. He was brought up a Protestant. These dispensations, Mr Bagenhall!
Mr Mer. Ay, and they were often an argument in Bagenhall's mouth, for making me his proselyte.
Sir Ch. Mr Bagenhall, I perceive, is rather of the religion of the court, than of that of the church, of Rome.
Mr Bag. But what I mean, by telling you I am a Catholic, is this: I have read the opinion of some of our famous casuists, that, in some cases, a private man may become his own avenger, and challenge an enemy into the field. Sir Ch. Bannes and Cajetan, you mean-one
a Spaniard, the other an Italian. But the highest authority of your church is full against them in this point. The Council of Trent treats the combatants who fall, as self-murderers, and denies them Christian burial. It brands them, and all those who by their presence countenance and abet this shocking and unchristian practice, with perpetual infamy, and condemns them to the loss of goods and estates. And furthermore, it deprives, ipso jure, all those sovereign princes, who suffer such acts of violence to be perpetrated with impunity in the lands and cities which they hold of the church, of all the territories so held. I need not add to this, that Louis the XIVth's edict against duelling was the greatest glory of his reign. And permit me to conclude with observing, that the base arts of poisoning, by the means of treacherous agents, and the cowardly practice of assassination by bravoes hired on purpose to wreak a private revenge, so frequent in Italy, are natural branches of this old Gothic tree. And yet (as I have before hinted) the barbarous northern nations had pleas to make in behalf of duelling, from their polity, which we have not from ours; Christianity out of the question.
The gentlemen said, they would very seriously reflect upon all that had passed in this uncommon conversation.
Sir Har. Well, but, Sir Charles, I must recur to my old note-Miss Byron-She must be mine. And I hope you will not stand in my
Sir Ch. The lady is her own mistress. I shall be glad to see any and all of you, gentlemen, at St James's Square.
Mr Bag. One thing I believe it is proper to mention to Sir Charles Grandison. You know, sir, that I brought a young man to your house, to take minutes of the conversation that passed between you and me there, in apprehension of consequences. In like apprehensions, I prevailed upon Sir Hargrave
Sir Har. And now, Bagenhall, I could curse you for it. The affair-confound it!-that I meant to be recorded for my justification, has turned out to his honour. Now am I down in black and white, for a tame-fool.-Is it not so?
Mr Jor. By no means. If you think so, Sir Hargrave, you have but ill profited by Sir Charles's noble sentiments.
Sir Ch. How is this, Mr Bagenhall?
Mr Bag. I prevailed upon Sir Hargrave to have the same young man, who is honest, discreet, and one of the swiftest short-hand writers of the age, to take a faithful account of everything that has passed; and he is in that closet. Sir Ch. I must say, this is very extraordinary -But as I always speak what I think, if I am not afraid of my own recollection, I need not of any man's minutes.
Mr Bag. You need not in this case, Sir
Charles. Nothing has passed, as Sir Hargrave observes, but what makes for your honour. We that set him to work, have more need to be afraid than you. We bid him be honest, and not spare any of us. We little thought matters would have ended so amicably.
Mr Jor. Thank God they have! Mr Mer. A very happy ending, I think! Sir Har. Not except Miss Byron consents to wipe out these marks.
Mr Bag. Mr Cotes, your task is over. Pray step in with what you have done.
The writer obeyed. Mr Bagenhall asked, if the minutes should be read? Sir Hargrave swore No; except, as he said, he had made a better figure in the debate. Sir Charles told them, he could not stay to hear them; but that, as they were written, and as he had been allowed before a copy of what passed between him and Mr Bagenhall, he should be glad to have one now; and the rather, as Sir Hargrave should have an instance, after he had perused it, of his readiness to condemn himself, if he found he had been wanting either to his own character, or to that of any man present. They consented that I should send Sir Charles the first fair copy. Sir Charles then took his leave.
The gentlemen all stood silent for several minutes, when they returned from attending him to the door, looking upon one another as if each expected the other to speak; but when they spoke, it was all in praise of Sir Charles, as the most modest, the most polite, the bravest, and noblest of men. Yet his maxims, they said, were confoundedly strange; impossible for such sorry dogs as them (that was their phrase) to practise.
But Sir Hargrave seemed greatly disturbed and dejected. He could not, he said, support himself under the consciousness of his own inferiority. But what could I do? said he. The devil could not have made him fight. Plague take him! he beat me out of my play. And yet, said Mr Merceda, a tilting-bout seems no more to him than a game at pushpin. You would have thought so, said Sir Hargrave, had you observed with what a sleight, and with what unconcernedness, he pushed down my drawn sword with his hand, (though he would grant me nothing,) and took me under the arm, and led me in to you, as though he had taken me prisoner. The devil has long, continued he, owed me a shame; but who would have thought he had so much power over Sir Charles Grandison, as to get him to pay it to me? But, however, I never will be easy till Miss Byron is Lady Pollexfen. I take leave, honoured sir, to observe, that a few things are noted in this copy, which, to avoid giving offence, will not be in that I shall write
for the gentlemen. I was ordered to shew it to Mr Bagenhall, before you had it; but for this reason I shall excuse myself, as having not remembered that command.
This, therefore, is a true copy of all that passed, taken to the best of the ability of, sir, give me leave to subscribe,
Your very great admirer,
And most humble servant,
CONTINUATION OF MISS BYRON'S LEtter.
WHAT a packet, including the short-hand writer's paper, transcribed by my cousin Reeves, shall I send you this time! I will not swell it by reflections on that paper, (that would be endless) but hasten to give you some account of the visitors I mentioned.
Sir Hargrave Pollexfen came, without any previous notice, about nine o'clock.
My heart sunk, when his chair stopt at the door, and I was told who was in it.
He was shewn into the great parlour. My cousin Reeves soon attended him. He made great apologies to them, (and so Mr Reeves said he ought,) for the disturbance he had given them.
He laid all to love-Prostituted name! made a cover to all acts of violence, indiscretion, and folly, in both sexes!
I was in my own apartment. Mrs Reeves came up to me. She found me in terror; and went down and told him so; and begged, that he would not insist upon seeing me.
The whole intent of this visit, he said, was to beg me to forgive him. It was probable, that I should have the same emotion upon his first visit at any other time; and he intreated the favour of seeing me. He had a right, he said, to see me; he was a sufferer for my sake. They saw, he told them, that he was not the man he had been; and as he had been denied, and been brought to deny himself, the satisfaction due to a gentleman, from a man whom he had never offended, he insisted on having the opportunity given him of seeing me, and receiving my forgiveness, as what would consolidate his reconciliation with Sir Charles Grandison.
There was no resisting this plea. And down I trembled; I can hardly say walked.
Notwithstanding all my little reasoning with myself, to behave with the dignity of an injured person; yet the moment I saw him approach me at my entrance into the parlour, I ran to Mr Reeves, and caught hold of his arm, with looks, I doubt not, of terror. Had Sir Charles Grandison been there, I suppose I should have run to him in the same manner.
Ever dear and adorable goodness! (were his words, coming to me ;) how sweet is this terror, and how just! I have forgiven worse injuries, pointing to his mouth. I meant nothing but honour to you.
Honour, sir! cruelty, sir! barbarity, sir! How can you wish to see the creature whom you so wickedly treated?
I appeal to yourself, madam, if I offered the least indecency!-For all I have suffered by my mad enterprize, what but disgrace
Disgrace, sir, was your portion, sir-(half out of breath)-What would you, sir ?—Why this visit? What am I to do?
I hardly knew what I said; and still I held Mr Reeves's arm.
Forgive me, madam; that is what you are to do; pardon me; on my knee I beg your pardon. And he dropt down on one knee.
Kneel not to me, sir-Pray do not kneelYou bruised, you hurt, you terrified me, sirAnd, Lord bless me! I was in danger of being your wife, sir!
Was not this last part of my answer a very odd one? But the memory of what I suffered at the time, and of the narrow escape I had, left me not the least presence of mind, on his address to me kneeling.
He arose. In danger of being my wife, madam! Only that the method I took was wrong, madam!
Miss Byron, you see, is in terror, Sir Hargrave. Sit down, my love. [Taking my hand, and leading me to the fire-side.] How you tremble, my dear!-You see, Sir Hargrave, the terror my cousin is in-You see
I do I do; and am sorry for the occasion. We will all sit down. Compose yourself, dear Miss Byron-And, (holding up his clasped hands to me,) I beseech you, forgive me.
Well, sir, I forgive you-I forgive you, sir. Were you not in so much disorder, madamwere it to be seasonable now-I will tell you what I have farther to beg. I would
Speak, sir, now; and never let me
Suffer an interruption, madam—I am too apprehensive of that word never. You must allow of my address. I ask you not any favour, but as I shall behave myself in future.
Yes, yes, sir, your behaviour-But, sir, were you to become the best man in the world, this, this, is the last time that I ever
Dear Miss Byron! And then he pleaded his passion; his fortune; his sufferings.—A wretch! Yet I had now and then a little pity for his disfigured mouth and lip]-His resolutions to be governed by me in every act of his life-The settlement of one half of his estate upon me.— The odious wretch mentioned children, my dear -younger children. He ran on in such a manner, as if he had been drawing up marriage-articles all the way hither.
Upon my absolutely renouncing him, he asked me, if Sir Charles Grandison had not made an impression on my heart?
What, Lucy, could make me inwardly fret at this question? I could hardly have patience to reply. I now see, my dear, that I have indeed a great deal of pride.
Surely, Sir Hargrave, I am not accountable to you
You are not, madam; but I must insist upon an answer to this question. If Sir Charles Grandison has made an application to you for favour, I can have no hope.
Sir Charles Grandison, sir, is absolutely disinterested. Sir Charles Grandison has made There I stopt; I could not help it.
No application to my cousin, I assure you, Sir Hargrave, said Mr Reeves. He is the noblest of men. Had he any such thoughts, I dare say he would be under difficulties to break his mind, lest such a declaration should be thought to lessen the merit of his protection.
A good thought of Mr Reeves. And who knows, my Lucy, but there may be some foundation for it?
Protection! D-n it !-But I am the easier upon this assurance. Let me tell you, Mr Reeves, that had I not found him to be a wonder of a man, matters should not have ended as they seem at present to have done.
But Sir Hargrave, said Mrs Reeves, permit me to say, as I know Miss Byron's mind, that there cannot be the least room to imagine that Miss Byron
Dear Mrs Reeves, forgive me. But I cannot receive a denial from any other mouth than hers. Is there no room for a sincere penitent to hope for mercy from a sweetness so angelic, and who is absolutely disengaged?
You have had mine already, Sir Hargrave, said I. I am amazed, that, knowing my mind before your wicked insult upon me, you should have any expectation of this kind after it.
He again vowed his passion, and such stuff. I think, Lucy, I never shall be able, for the future, to hear with patience any man talk of love, of passion, and such nonsense.
Let me summarily add, for I am tired of the subject, that he said a hundred impertinent things, sillier than any of those said by Mr Grandison, in my praise-Indeed everything of this nature now appears silly to me]-He insisted upon a preference to Mr Greville, Mr Fenwick, Mr Orme.-He resolved not to despair, as his sufferings for my sake had given him (as he said he presumed to tell me) some merit in his own opinion, if not in mine; and as his forgiveness of the man who had injured him, ought, he thought, to have some weight in his favour. He took leave of my cousins and me in a very respectful manner. I wish him no harm. But I hope I shall never see him again.
And now, Lucy, with the end of this very
disagreeable visit, I will conclude my letter; and shall have another long one ready for the next post.
MISS HARRIET BYRON TO MISS LUCY SELBY.
I HAD not recovered myself after Sir Hargrave's visit, when Lady Land Miss Grandison called, as they said, for a moment; however, this agreeable moment lasted two hours. Miss Grandison, the instant she saw me, challenged me-Hey-day! What's the matter with our Harriet, Mrs Reeves? And, patting my neck, Why these flutters, child?-Perturbations delightful, or undelightful, Harriet, whether?
I told her who had been there, and but just left me; and, by the help of my cousins, gave them the particulars of what had passed.
They were greatly pleased; and the more, they said, as their brother, on seeing them uneasy, had acquainted them, that all matters between him and Sir Hargrave were accommodated; but had not had opportunity to tell them
Let me reckon with you, Harriet, said Miss Grandison, (taking my hand with a schooling air): I am half jealous of you: Lady Lhas got the start of me in my brother's affections; but she is my elder sister; first come first served; I can bear that; but I will not be cut out by a younger sister.
What is now to follow? thought I ; and I fluttered like a fool; the more for her arch look, as if she would read my heart in my eyes.
Increased palpitation (O the fool!) made it look as if I took her jest for earnest. What a situation am I in!
Dear Charlotte, said Lady L, smiling, you shall not thus perplex our sweet sister.My dear, don't mind her. You'll know her better in time.
Be quiet, Lady L, I shall have it all out. All what out? said I. O Miss Grandison, how you love to alarm !
Well, well, I'll examine farther into these perturbations another time. I have beat the bush, before now, for one hare, and out have popt two. But all I mean is, a paper, a letter, (my brother called it a paper,) was brought to him sealed up. He rewarded the bringer; but sent it directly away unopened (that we found out) to you, Harriet. Now, child, if I allow of his reserves, I will not allow of yours. Pray, answer me fairly and truly; What are the contents of that paper?
They give the particulars of the conversation that passed in the alarming interview between Sir Charles
And Sir Hargrave. That's my good girl.You see, Lady L, how this young thief will steal away the affections of our brother from us both. He has shewed us nothing of this. But, if you would not have me jealous, Harriet, be sure keep no one secret of your heart from me
That relates merely to myself; I think I will
Then you'll be a good girl; and I'll give my love for you the reins, without a pull back.
Just then a servant came in with a card.
66 Lady D's compliments to Mrs Reeves and Miss Byron; and if it would be agreeable, she will wait on them presently, for one quarter of an hour. She is obliged to go out of town early in the morning."
What shall I do now? said I. I was in a flutter, not being fully recovered from that into which Sir Hargrave's visit had thrown me.
What now?-What now? said Miss Grandison. Ah! Harriet, we shall find you out by degrees.
By the way, Lucy, you are fond of plays; and it is come into my head, that, to avoid all says-I's and says-she's, I will henceforth, in all dialogues, write names in the margin. So fancy, my dear, that you are reading in one of your favourite volumes.
Har. Do you know Lady D- .?
Miss Gr. Very well; but I did not know that you did, Harriet.
Lady L. And I know she has a son; and I know she wants him to marry.
Har. That I may keep no secrets from my two sisters, my aunt Selby has written to meMiss Gr. Lately? Har. Very lately.
Miss Gr. O! because you had not told me of that.
Mrs Reeves. And pray, ladies, what is Lady D- -'s character?
Lady L. She is a very sensible and prudent
-And none of them the man!-Depend upon it, girl, pride will have a fall.
What could she mean by that?-Sir Charles Grandison's sisters, I hope, will not-but I believe she meant nothing.
Have I pride, Miss Grandison? coldly and gravely asked I, as my cousin observed to me afterwards.
Miss Gr. Have you pride?—Yes, that you have, or you have worse.
What could this mad lady mean by this?— And what could I mean? For I had tears in my eyes. I was very low-spirited at that mo
Lady L. Well, but Miss Byron, shall we be impertinent, if we stay to see the lady?—I have a great value for her. She has been an admirable executrix and trustee for her son, and was as good a wife. I was just going; but, as she goes out of town to-morrow, will stay to pay my compliments to her. We can withdraw till you have had your talk.
Miss Gr. Does she come to persuade you, Harriet, to retract your refusal ?
Har. I know not her business. I wrote my mind to my aunt Selby. But I believe my aunt could not have written, and the Countess received what she wrote, by this time. But do not go; we can have no private talk.
Miss Gr. Well, but now I will tell you, without punishing your curiosity farther, what Lord D- -'s character is. He is as sober a man as most of the young nobility. His fortune is great. In sense he neither abounds, nor is wanting; and that class of men, take my word for it, are the best qualified of all others to make good husbands to women of superior talents. They know just enough to induce them to admire in her, what they have not in themselves. If a woman has prudence enough to give consequence to such a one before folks, and will behave as if she thought him her superior in understanding, she will be able to make her own will a law to him; by the way of I will, shall I?-Or, If you please, my dear, I will do -what I think fit. But a fool and a wit are the extreme points, and equally unmanageable. And now tell me, Harriet, what can be your motive for refusing such a man as this?
Har. I wish, my dear, you would not talk to me of these men. I am sick of them all-Sir Hargrave has cured me
Miss Gr. You fib, my dear-But did you ever see Lord D?
Har. No, indeed!
Miss Gr. No, indeed !-Why, then, you are a simpleton, child. What, refuse a man, an earl too! in the bloom of his years, 12,000 good pounds a-year! yet never have seen himYour motives, child! Your motives!—I wish you are not already-There she stopt.
Har. And I wish, Miss Grandison, with all my heart, if that would tame you, that you were