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Selby-House, Sunday, March 5. MY DEAREST CHILD, WE are all extremely affected with your present situation. Such apparent struggles betwixt your natural openness of heart, and the confessions of a young, of a new passion, and that so laudably founded, and so visibly increasing 0 my love! you must not affect reserves. They will sit very awkwardly upon a young woman, who never knew what affectation and concealment were.
You have laid me under a difficulty with respect to Lady D. She is to be with me on Saturday next. I have not written to her, though you desired I would; since, in truth, we all think that her proposals deserve consideration; and because we are afraid, that a greater happiness will never be yours and ours. It is impossible, my dear, to imagine, that such a man as Sir Charles Grandison should not have seen the woman whom he could love, before he saw you; or whom he had not been engaged to love by his gratitude, as I may call it, for her love. Has not his sister talked of half a score ladies, who would break their hearts for him, were he to marry?And may not this be the reason why he does not?
You see what an amiable openness of heart there is in the Countess of D. You see, that your own frankness is a particular recommendation of you to her. I had told her, that you were disengaged in your affections. By your own disclaiming to her the proposed relation, you have given reason to so wise a lady to think it otherwise; or that you are not so much above affectation, as she had hoped you were. And though we were grieved to read how much you were pushed by Miss Grandison,† yet Lady D will undoubtedly make the same observations and inferences, that Miss Grandison did. And what would you have me do? since you cannot give a stronger instance of your affections being engaged, than by declining such a proposal as Lady D- made, before you have conversed with, or even seen, Lord D. And it becomes not your character or mine, either to equivocate, or to say the thing that is not.
Lady L- you think (and indeed it appears) hinted to Lady D- that Sir Charles stands not in the way of Lord D's application. I see not, therefore, that there can be any room to hope from that quarter. Nor will your fortune, I doubt, be thought considerable enough. And as Sir Charles is not engaged by affection, and is generous and munificent, there is hardly room to imagine, but that, in prudence, fortune will have some weight with him. At least, on our side, that ought to be supposed, and to make a part of our first proposals, were a treaty to be begun.
Your grandmamma will write to you with her own hand. I refer myself wholly to her. Her wisdom, and her tenderness for you, we all know. She and I have talked of everything. Your uncle will not rally you as he has done. We still continue resolved not to prescribe to your inclinations. We are afraid, therefore, of advising you as to this new proposal. But your grandmamma is very much pleased that I have not written, as you would have had me, a letter of absolute refusal to the Countess.
Your uncle has been inquiring into the state of Sir Charles Grandison's affairs. We have heard so many good things of him, that I have desired Mr Selby to make no farther inquiries, unless we could have some hopes of calling him ours. But do you, my dear, nevertheless, omit nothing that comes to your knowledge, that may let us know in him what a good man is, and should be.
His magnanimity in refusing to engage in a duel, yet acquitting himself so honourably, as to leave no doubt about his courage, is an example, of itself, of a more than buman rectitude of thinking and acting. How would your grandfather have cherished such a young man! We every one of us admire and revere him at the same time; and congratulate you, my dear, and his sisters, on the happy issue of the affair between him and that vile Sir Hargrave.
You will let me know your mind as to the affair of Lord D- ; and that by the next post. Be not rash; be not hasty. I am afraid I pushed your delicacy too much in my former. Your uncle says, that you are at times not so frank in directly owning your passion, as, from your natural openness of heart, he expected you would be, when a worthy object had attracted you; and he triumphs over us, in the imagination, that he has at last detected you of affectation in some little degree. We all see, and own, your struggle between virgin modesty and openness of heart, as apparent in many passages of your letters; and we lay part of your reserve to the apprehensions you must have of his raillery; but
This letter, and the two that follow it, are inserted in this place, though not received, and answered, till Miss Byron was at Colnebrook, for the sake of keeping entire the subject she writes upon from thence. + See Letter L.
after you have declared, "That you had rather converse but one hour in a week with Sir Charles Grandison," (and his sister, you put in; and sisters are good convenient people sometimes to a bashful or beginning lover, of our sex,)" than be the wife of any man you have ever seen or known; and that, mean as the word pity sounds, you would rather have his pity than the love of any other man?" Upon my word, my dear, you need not be backward to speak quite out. Excuse me, my child.
I have just now read the enclosed. Had I known your grandmamma could have written so long a letter, I might have spared much of mine. Hers is worthy of her. We all subscribe to it; but yet will be determined by your next, as to the steps to be taken in relation to the proposal of Lady D. But if you love, be not ashamed to own it to us. The man is Sir Charles Grandi
Sunday, March 5. DON'T be afraid, don't be ashamed, my dearest life, to open your whole heart to your aunt Selby and me. You know how we all dote upon you. It is no disgrace for a young woman of virtue to be in love with a worthy man. Love is a natural passion. You have shewn, I am sure, if ever young creature did shew, that you are no giddy, no indiscreet person. Not Greville, with all his gaiety; not Fenwick, with all his adulation; not the more respectable Orme, with all his obsequiousness; nor yet the imploring Fowler; nor the terrifying, the shocking Sir Hargrave Pollexfen; have seen the least shadow of vanity or weakness in you. How happily have you steered through difficulties, in which the love of being admired often involves meaner minds? And how have you, with mingled dignity and courteousness, entitled yourself to the esteem, and even veneration of those whom you refused? And why refused? Not from pride, but from principle; and because you could not love any of them, as you thought you ought to love the man to whom you gave your hand.
And at last, when the man appeared to you, who was worthy of your love; who had so powerfully protected you from the lawless attempt of a fierce and cruel pretender; a man who proved to be the best of brothers, friends, landlords, masters, and the bravest and best of men; is it to be wondered at, that a heart, which never before was won, should discover sensibility, and acknowledge its fellow heart?-What reason then can you have for shame? And why seeks
my Harriet to draw a curtain between herself and her sympathizing friends? You see, my dear, that we are above speaking slightly, because of our uncertainty, of a man that all the world praises. Nor are you, child, so weak as to be treated with such poor policy.
You were not educated, my dear, in artifice. Disguises never sat so ill upon any woman, as they do, in most of your late letters, upon you. Every child in love matters would find you out. But be it your glory, whether our wishes are, or are not answered, that your affection is laudable; that the object of it is not a man mean in understanding, profligate in morals, nor sordid in degree; but such a one as all we your friends are as much in love with as you can be. Only, my dear love, my Harriet, the support of my life, and comfort of my evil days, endeavour, for my sake, and for the sake of us all, to restrain so far your laudable inclination, as that, if it be not your happy lot to give us, as well as yourself, so desirable a blessing, you may not suffer in your health, (a health so precious to me,) and put yourself on a foot with vulgar girls run away with by their headstrong passions. The more desirable the object, the nobler the conquest of your passion, if it is to be overcome. Nevertheless, speak out, my dear, your whole heart to us, in order to entitle yourself to our best advice. And as to your uncle Selby, do not let his raillery pain you; he diverts us as well as himself by it; he gains nothing over us in the arguments he affects to hold with us; and you must know, that his whole honest heart is wrapt up in his and our Harriet. Worthy man! He would not, any more than I, be able to support his spirits, were any misfortune to befal his niece.
Your aunt Selby has just now shewn me her letter to you. She repeats in it, as a very strong expression in yours, "That you had rather converse with this excellent man but one hour in a week, than be the wife of any man you have ever seen or known." It is a strong expression; but, to me, is an expression greatly to your honour, since it shews, that the mind, and not the person, is the principal object of your love.
I knew that, if ever you did love, it would be a love of the purest kind. As, therefore, it has not so much person in it as most loves; suffer it not to triumph over your reason; nor, because you cannot have the man you could prefer, resolve against having any other. Have I not taught you, that marriage is a duty, whenever it can be entered into with prudence? What a mean, what a selfish mind must that person have, whether man or woman, who can resolve against entering into the state, because it has its cares, its fatigues, its inconveniencies! Try Sir Charles Grandison, my dear, by this rule. If he forbear to marry on such narrow motives, this must be one of his great imperfections. Nor be afraid to try. No man is absolutely perfect.
But Sir Charles may have engagements, from which he cannot free himself. My Harriet, I hope, will not give way to a passion, which is not likely to be returned, if she find that to be the case. You hope, you prettily said in one of your letters," that you shall not be undone by a good man." After such an escape as you had from Sir Hargrave, I have no fear from a bad one; but, my child, if you are undone by a good one, it must be your own fault, while neither he nor his sisters give you encouragement.
I know, my dear, how these suppositions will hurt your delicacy; but then you must doubly guard yourself; for the reality will be worse wounding to that delicacy, than the supposition ought to be. If there be but one man in the world that can undo you, will you not guard against him?
I long to fold my dearest Harriet to my fond heart; but yet, this that follows, is the advice I give, as to the situation you are now in; lose no opportunity of cultivating the friendship of his amiable sisters. [By the way, if Miss Grandison guesses at your mind, she is not so generous in her raillery as is consistent with the rest of her amiable character. Never deny them your company when they request it. Miss Grandison has promised you the history of their family. Exact the performance of that promise from her. You will thus come at farther lights, by which you may be guided in your future steps. In particular, you will find out, whether the sisters espouse the interest of any other woman; though Sir Charles's reservedness, even to them, may not let them know the secrets of his heart in this particular. And if they do not espouse any other person's interest, why may they not be made your friends, my dear?-As to fortune, could we have any hint what would be expected, we would do everything in our power to make that matter easy; and must be content with moderate settlements in your fa
But as I approve of your aunt's having forborne to write, as you would have had her, to Lady D, what shall we do in that affair? it will be asked.
What? Why thus: Lady D has made it a point that you are disengaged in your affections; your aunt has signified to her that you are; you have given that lady a hint, which, you say, overclouded her brow. She will be here on Saturday next. Then will she, no doubt, expect the openest dealing.-And she ought to have it. Her own frankness demands it; and the character we have hitherto supported, and I hope always shall support, requires it. I would therefore let Lady D- know the whole of Sir Hargrave Pollexfen's attempt, [you, my dear, were so laudably frank as to hint it to her, and of the generous protection given you by Sir Charles Grandison. Truth never leaves room for self-reproach. Let your aunt Selby then own,
that you had written to her; declining, with the most respectful gratitude, the honour intended you; which she could no otherwise account for than by supposing, and indeed believing, that you would prefer Sir Charles Grandison, from motives of gratitude, to any other man; but that you knew nothing of his engagements, nor had reason to look upon any part of his behaviour to you, but as the effect of his general politeness; nor that his sisters meant more by calling you sister, than their brother's sister, as well as theirs. All this shall be mentioned to Lady Din strict confidence. Then will Lady D- know the whole truth. She will be enabled, as she ought, to judge for herself. You will not appear in her eye as guilty of affectation. We shall all act in character. If Lady Land Miss Grandison did (as you suppose) acquaint Lady Dthat you were not addressed by their brother, they will be found to have said the truth; and you know, my dear, that we should be as ready to do justice to others' veracity, as to our own. She will see, that your regard for Sir Charles (if a regard you have, that may be an obstacle to her views) is owing to a laudable gratitude for his protection given to a young woman, whose heart was before absolutely disengaged.
And what will be the consequence?-Why, either that her ladyship will think no more of the matter; and then you will be just where you were; or, that she will interest herself in finding out Sir Charles's engagements. And as you have communicated to Lady L—— and Miss Grandison the letters that have passed between Lady D--and your aunt, together with the contents of yours, so far as relates to the proposal; and as Lady D is acquainted with those two ladies, she will probably inform herself of their sentiments in relation to the one affair and the other; and the matter on every side, by this means, will sooner come to a decision, than probably it can. any other way.
I don't know whether I express myself clearly. I am not what I was; but, blessed be God, that I am what I am! I did not think, that, in so little a time, I could have written so much as I have. But my dear Harriet is my subject; and her happiness is, and has ever been, my only care, since I lost the husband of my youth, the dear man who divided with me that, and all my cares; who had a love for you equal to my own; and who, I think, would have given just such advice. What would Mr Shirley have thought? How would he, in the like case, have acted? are the questions I always ask myself, before I give my opinion in any material cases, especially in those which relate to you.
And here let me commend a sentiment of yours, that is worthy of your dear grandfather's pupil: "I should despise myself," say you, were I capable of keeping one man in suspense, while I was balancing in favour of another."
Good young creature, hold fast your principles, whatever befals you. Look upon this world as you have been taught to look upon it. I have lived to a great age; yet, to look backward to the time of my youth, when I was not a stranger to the hopes and fears that now agitate you, what a short space does it seem to be? Nothing withholds my wishes to be released, but my desire of seeing the darling of my heart, my sweet orphan girl, happy in a worthy man's protection. O that it could be in-But shall we, my dear, prescribe to Providence? How know we what that has designed for Sir Charles Grandison? His welfare is the concern of hundreds, perhaps. He, compared to us, is as the public to the private. I hope we are good people: Comparative ly, I am sure, we are good. That, however, is not the way by which we shall be judged hereafter. But yet, to him, we are but as that private.
Don't think, however, my best love, that I have lived too long to be sensible of what most affects you. Of your pleasures, your pains, I can and do partake. Your late harassings, so tender, so lovely a blossom, cost me many a pang; and still my eyes bear witness to my sensibility, as the cruel scenes are at times read to me again, or as I recal them to memory. But all I mean is, to arm you against feeling too sensibly, when it is known, the event which is now hidden in the bosom of Providence, should it, as is but too likely, prove unfavourable.
You have a great deal of writing upon your hands. We cannot dispense with any of that. But if you write to your aunt Selby, (as the time till next Saturday is short,) that will be writing to us both.
God preserve, direct, and bless, my sweet orphan child!-This is the hourly prayer of Your ever affectionate grandmother, HENRIETTA SHIRLEY.
MISS HARRIET BYRON TO MRS SELBY.
Colnebrook, Tuesday, March 7. I HAVE the favour of yours, and of my dear grandmamma's, just brought me. The contents are so affecting, that, though in full assembly, as I may say, in this delightful family, I begged to be permitted to withdraw, to read them. Miss Grandison saw my confusion, my puzzle, what shall I call it? To be charged so home, my dear aunt!-Such apparent struggles-And were they, madam, so very apparent?-A young, a new passion !—And so visibly increasing !· Pray, madam, if it be so, it is not at its height -And is it not, while but in its progress, conquerable?-But have I been guilty of affectation? of reserves ?-If I have, my uncle has been very merciful to the awkward girl.
And you think it impossible, madam, but he
has seen women whom he could love, before he saw me? Very likely! But was it kind to turn the word gratitude upon me in such a manner!
I do see what an amiable openness of heart there is in Lady D. I admire her for it, and for her other matronly qualities. What can you do, madam? What can I do? That is the question, called upon, as I am, by my grandmamma as well as by you, to speak still plainer, plain as in your opinion I had spoken, and, indeed, in my own, now I read the free sentence, drawn out and separated from the rest of the letter. My grandmamma forgives, and even praises me for this sentence. She encourages me to speak still plainer. It is no disgrace, she says, for a woman of virtue to be in love with a worthy man. Love is a natural passion, she tells me; yet cautions me against suffering it to triumph over my reason; in short, not to love till there shall be a certainty of return. And so I can love as I will, when I will, nay, whom I will; for if he won't have me, I am desired not to resolve against marrying some other; Lord D for example, if he will be so good as to have me.
Well, but upon a full examination of my heart, how do I find it, now I am called upon by my two most venerable friends, to undraw the curtain, and to put off the disguises through which every child in love matters finds me out? Shall I speak my whole heart?-To such sympathizing friends surely I ought. Well, then, I own to you, my honoured grandmamma and aunt, that I cannot think of encouraging any other address. Yet have I no hope. I look upon myself as presumptuous; upon him as too excellent and too considerable; for he has a great estate, and still greater expectations; and as to personal and intellectual merit, what woman can deserve him!-Even in the article of fortune only, you think that, in prudence, a man so munificent should look higher.
Be pleased, therefore, madam, in conformity to my grandmamma's advice, to tell Lady Dfrom me, "That I think her laudable openness deserves like openness; that your Harriet was disengaged in her affections, absolutely disengaged, when you told her that she was; tell her what afterwards happened; tell her how my gratitude engaged me; that, at first, it was no more; but that now, being called upon on this occasion, I have owned my gratitude exalted" [it may not, I hope, be said, debased, the object so worthy "into-love"-Yes, say love-since I act too awkwardly in the disguises I have assumed; "that, therefore, I can no more in justice, than by inclination, think of any other man; and own to her, that her ladyship has, however, engaged my respectful love, even to reverence, by her goodness to me in the visit she honoured me with; and that, for her sake, had I seen nothing objectionable in Lord D-on an interview, and farther acquaintance, I could have given ear to this proposal, preferably
to any other that had yet been made me, were my heart as free, as it was when she made her first proposal." And yet I own to you, my venerable friends, that I always think of Mr Örme with grateful pity, for his humble, for his modest, perseverance. What would I give to see Mr Orme married to some very worthy woman, with whom he could be happy!
Finally, bespeak for me her ladyship's favour and friendship; but not to be renewed till my lord is married-And may his nuptials be as happy as wished to be by a mother so worthy! But tell her, at the same time, that I would not, for twelve times my lord's 12,000l. a-year, give my hand to him, or to any man, while another had a place in my heart; however unlikely it is, that I may be called by the name of the man I prefer.
But tell Lady D—— all this in confidence, in the strictest confidence; among more general reasons regarding the delicacy of our sex, for fear the family I am with, who now love, should hate, and what would be still worse, despise your Harriet, for her presumption !-I think I could not bear that!-Don't mind this great blot-Forgive it-It would fall-My pen found it, before I saw it.
As to myself, whatever be my lot, I will endeavour to reap consolation from these and other passages in the two precious letters before me:"If you love, be not ashamed to own it to us -The man is Sir Charles Grandison."
66 My affection is laudable; the object of it is a man not mean in understanding; nor profligate in morals; nor sordid in degree. All my friends are in love with him as well as I."
"My love is a love of the purest kind." "And I ought to acquiesce, because Sir Charles, compared to us, is as the public to the private. Private considerations, therefore, should be as nothing to me."
Noble instructions! my dearest two mammas! to which I will endeavour to give their full weight.
And now let me take it a little unkindly, that you call me your orphan girl! You two, and my honoured uncle, have supplied all wanting relations to me; my father, then, my grandmamma, and my other mamma, continue to pray for, and to bless, not your orphan, but your real, daughter, in all love and reverence, HARRIET BYRON-SHIRLEY-SELBY.
MISS HARRIET BYRON TO MISS LUCY SELBY.
Colnebrook, Tuesday, March 7. HERE I am, my dear Lucy, returned to this happy asylum; but with what different emo
tions from the first time I entered it! How did my heart flutter, when one of Sir Charles's servants, who attended us on horseback, pointed out to us, at the command of the ladies, the very spot where the two chariots met, and the contest began! The recollection pained me; yet do I not owe to that terrifying incident the friendship I am admitted into with so amiable a family?
Miss Grandison, ever obliging, has indulged me in my choice of having a room to myself. I shall have the more leisure for writing to you, my dear friends.
Both she and Lady L are very urgent with me to shew them some of the letters in our correspondence; and Miss Grandison says, if that will encourage me to oblige them, they will shew me some of their brother's-Who would not be tempted by such an exchange? I am more than half afraid-But surely, in such a heap of stuff as I have written, there is something that I can read to them. Shall I be permitted, do you think, to have my letters returned me for this purpose? The remarks of these ladies on what I shall think fit to shew them, will be of great use in helping to settle my judgment. I know I have thrown out many things at random; and, being a young creature, and not passed the age of fancy, have, in all those sentiments which are not borrowed, been very superficial. How can it be otherwise?
The conversation in the coach turned upon their own family, (for I put in my claim to Miss Grandison's former promise on that head;) from which I gathered the following particulars :
Sir Thomas Grandison was one of the handsomest men of his time. He had a great notion of magnificence in living; and went deep into all the fashionable diversions, except gaming with cards and dice; though he ran into one as expensive, but which he called a nobler vice; valuing himself upon his breed of racehorses and hunters, and upon his kennel; in both which articles, he was extravagant to profusion.
His father, Sir Charles, was as frugal as Sir Thomas was profuse. He was a purchaser all his life; and left his son, besides an estate of 6000l. a-year in England, and near 20001. ayear in Ireland, rich in money.
His lady was of a noble family; sister to Lord W- She was, as you have already been told, the most excellent of women. I was delighted to see her two daughters bear testimony to her goodness, and to their own worth, by their tears. It was impossible, in the character of so good a woman, not to think of my own mamma; and I could not help, on the remembrance, joining my tears with theirs.
Miss Jervois also wept, not only from tenderness of nature, and sympathy, but, as she owned, from regret, that she had not the same rea