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but was not pitied; and was referred by Mr Grandison to his absent cousin for still more rigorous justice.
She appealed to the ladies; but they reproached her with having lived a life of shame, against better knowledge; and said, that now she must take the consequence. Her punishment was but beginning: their brother would do her strict justice, they doubted not: but a man of his virtue, they were sure, would abhor her. She had misled their father, they said. It was not in his temper to be cruel to his children. She had lived upon their fortunes; and now they had nothing but their brother's favour to depend upon.
Daughters so dutiful, my Lucy, did right to excuse their father all they could: but Mrs Oldham suffered for all.
I AM SO much interested in this important history, that I have not the heart to break into it, to tell you how very agreeably I pass my time with these ladies, and Lord L- -, in those parts of the day, when we are all assembled. Miss Emily has a fine mind; gentle, delicate, innocently childish beyond her stature and womanly appearance; but not her years. The two ladies are very good to her. Lord L― is an excellent man.
This is Friday morning: and no Sir Charles! Canterbury is surely a charming place. Was you ever at Canterbury, Lucy?
To-morrow, Lady D- is to visit my aunt. My letter to my aunt will be in time, I hope. I long to know-Yet why should I?—But Lady D is so good a woman! I hope she will take kindly my denial; and look upon it as an absolute one.
I have a great deal more of the family-history to give you: I wish I could write as fast as we can talk. But, Lucy, concerning the lady, with whose father Sir Thomas was in treaty for his son don't you want to know something more about her?-But, ah! my dear, be this as it may, there is a lady in whose favour both sisters interest themselves. I have found that out. Nor will it be long, I suppose, before I shall be informed who she is; and whether or not Sir Charles encourages the proposal.
Adieu, my Lucy! You will soon have another letter from your
matters depended on the conduct and determination of the young Baronet.
Lord L- was at this time in Scotland, where he had seen married two of his three sisters; and was busying himself in putting his affairs in such a way, as should enable him to depend the less either on the justice or generosity of Sir Thomas Grandison, whose beloved daughter he was impatient to call his.
Miss Charlotte was absolutely dependent upon her brother's generosity; and both sisters had reason to be the more uneasy, as it was now, in the worldly-wise way of thinking, become his interest to keep up the distance which their unhappy father had been solicitous to create between them, from a policy low, and entirely unworthy of him.
The unhappy Mrs Oldham had already received a severe instance of the change of her fortune; and had no reason to doubt, but that the sisters, (who had always, from the time she was set over them as their governess, looked upon her with an evil eye; and afterwards had but too just a pretence for their aversion,) would incense against her a brother, whose fortune had been lessened by his father's profusion: the few relations she had living, were people of honour, who had renounced all correspondence with her, from the time she had thrown herself so absolutely into the power of Sir Thomas Grandison and she had three sons to take care of.
Bever and Filmer, the English and Irish stewards, were attending Sir Charles's arrival with great impatience, in hopes he would sign those accounts of theirs, to which they had no reason to question but his father would have set his hand, had he not been taken so suddenly ill, and remained delirious almost to the end of his life.
Miss Obrien, her mother, and aunt, I shall mention in another place.
Lord W had a great dislike to his nephew, for no other reason, as I have said, than because he was his father's favourite. Yet were not his nieces likely to find their uncle more their friend for that. He was, indeed, almost entirely under the management of a woman, who had not either the birth, the education, the sense, or moderation, of Mrs Oldham, to put in the contrary scale against her lost virtue; but abounded, it seems, in a low selfish cunning, by which she never failed to carry every point she set her heart upon: for, as is usual, they say, with these keeping men, Lord Wwould yield up, to avoid her teazing, what he would not have done to a wife of fortune and family, who might have been a credit to his own but the real slave imagined himself master of his liberty; and sat down satisfied with the sound of the word.
The suspended treaty of marriage with Lord You see, my dear, how many important N's sister was also to be taken into consi
deration, either to be proceeded with, or broken off, as should be concluded by both parties.
This was the situation of affairs in the family, when Sir Charles arrived.
He returned not an answer to his sister's notification of his father's danger; but immediately set out for Calais, embarked, and the same day arrived at the house of his late father in St James's Square. His sisters concluded, that he would be in town nearly as soon as the letter could come; they therefore every hour, for two days together, expected him.
Judge, my dear, from the foregoing circumstances, (sisterly love out of the question, which yet it could not be,) how awful must be to them, after eight or nine years' absence, the first appearance of a brother, on whom the whole of their fortunes depended; and to whom they had been accused by a father, now so lately departed, of want of duty; their brother's duty unquestionable!
In the same moment he alighted from his post-chaise, the door was opened; he entered; and his two sisters met him in the hall.
The graceful youth of seventeen, with fine curling auburn locks waving upon his shoulders; delicate in complexion; intelligence sparkling in his fine free eyes; and good humour sweetening his lively features; they remembered: and, forgetting the womanly beauties into which their own features were ripened in the same space of time, they seemed not to expect that manly stature and air, and that equal vivacity and intrepidity, which every one who sees this brother, admires in his noble aspect: an aspect then appearing more solemn than usual; an unburied and beloved father in his thoughts.
O, my brother! said Caroline, with open arms: but, shrinking from his embrace; may I say, my brother ?-and was just fainting. He clasped her in his arms, to support her
Charlotte, surprised at her sister's emotion, and affected with his presence, ran back into the room they had both quitted, and threw herself upon a settee.
Her brother followed her into the room, his arm round Miss Caroline's waist, soothing her; and with eyes of expectation, My Charlotte! said he, his inviting hand held out, and hastening towards the settee. She then found her feet; and throwing her arms about his neck, he folded both sisters to his bosom : Receive, my dearest sisters, receive your brother, your friend; assure yourselves of my unabated love.
That assurance, they said, was balm to their hearts; and when each was seated, he, sitting over against them, looked first on one, then on the other; and, taking each by the hand, Charming women! said he: how I admire my sisters! You must have minds answerable to your persons. What pleasure, what pride, shall I take in my sisters!
My dear Charlotte! said Miss Caroline, taking her sister's other hand, has not our brother, now we see him near, all the brother in his aspect? His goodness only looks stronger, and more perfect: What was I afraid of?
My heart also sunk, said Charlotte; I know not why. But we feared-Indeed, sir, we both feared-O my brother!—Tears trickling down the cheeks of each-We meant not to be undutiful
Love your brother, my sisters, as he will endeavour to deserve your love. My mother's daughters could not be undutiful! Mistake only!-Unhappy misapprehension! We have all something-Shades, as well as lights, there must be !—A kind, a dutiful veil
He pressed the hand of each with his lips, arose, went to the window, and drew out his handkerchief.
What must he have had in his thoughts? No doubt, but his father's unhappy turn, and recent departure! No wonder, that such a son could not, without pious emotion, bear the reflections that must crowd into his mind at that instant!
Then, turning towards them, Permit me, my dear sisters, said he, to retire for a few moments. He turned his face from them. My father, said he, demands this tribute. I will not ask your excuse, my sisters.
They joined in the payment of it; and waited on him to his apartment, with silent respect. No ceremony, I hope, my Caroline, my Charlotte. We were true sisters and brother a few years ago. See your Charles as you saw him then. Let not absence, which has increased my love, lessen yours.
Each sister took a hand, and would have kissed it. He clasped his arms about them both, and saluted them.
He cast his eye on his father's and mother's pictures with some emotion; then on them; and again saluted each.
They withdrew. He waited on them to the stairs' head. Sweet obligingness! Amiable sisters! In a quarter of an hour I seek your pre
Tears of joy trickled down their cheeks. In half an hour he joined them in another dress, and re-saluted his sisters with an air of tenderness, that banished fear, and left room for nothing but sisterly love.
Mr Grandison came in soon after. That gentleman, who (as I believe I once before mentioned) had affected, in support of his own free way of life, to talk how he would laugh at his cousin Charles, when he came to England, on his pious turn, as he called it; and even to boast, that he would enter him into the town diversions, and make a man of him; was struck with the dignity of his person, and yet charmed with the freedom of his behaviour. Good
God! said he to the ladies afterwards, what a fine young man is your brother!-What a selfdenier was your father!
The ladies retiring, Mr Grandison entered upon the circumstances of Sir Thomas's illness and death; which, he told his sisters, he touched tenderly. As tenderly, I suppose, as a man of his unfeeling heart could touch such a subject. He inveighed against Mrs Oldham; and, with some exultation over her, told his cousin what they had done as to her; and exclaimed against her for the state she had lived in ; and the difficulty she made to resign Sir Thomas to his daughters' care in his illness; and particularly for presuming to insist upon putting her seal with theirs to the cabinets and closet, where they supposed were any valuables.
Sir Charles heard all this without saying one word, either of approbation or otherwise.
Are you not pleased with what we have done, as to this vile woman, Sir Charles?
I have no doubt, cousin, replied Sir Charles, that everything was designed for the best.
And then Mr Grandison, as he told the sis ters, ridiculed the unhappy woman on her grief, and mortified behaviour, when she was obliged to quit the house, where, he said, she had reigned so long lady paramount.
Sir Charles asked, if they had searched for or found a will?
Mr Grandison said, they had looked in every probable place; but found none.
What I think to do, cousin, said Sir Charles, is, to inter the venerable remains (I must always speak in this dialect, sir,) with those of my mother. This, I know, was his desire. I will have an elegant, but not sumptuous, monument erected to the memory of both, with a modest inscription, that shall rather be matter of instruction to the living, than a panegyric on the departed. The funeral shall be decent, but not ostentatious. The difference in the expense shall be privately applied to relieve or assist distressed housekeepers, or some of my father's poor tenants, who have large families, and have not been wanting in their honest endeavours to maintain them. My sisters, I hope, will not think themselves neglected, if I spare them the pain of conferring with them on a subject that must afflict them.
These sentiments were new to Mr Grandison. He told the sisters what Sir Charles had said. I did not contradict him, said he but as Sir Thomas had so magnificent a mind, and always lived up to it, I should have thought he ought to have been honoured with a magnificent funeral. But I cannot but own, however, that what your brother said, had something great and noble in it.
The two ladies, on their brother's hinting his intentions to them, acquiesced with all he proposed; and all was performed according to di
rections which he himself wrote down. He al lowed of his sisters' compliance with the fashion; but he in person saw performed, with equal piety and decorum, the last offices.
Sir Charles is noted for his great dexterity in business. Were I to express myself in the fanguage of Miss Grandison, I should say, that a sun-beam is not more penetrating. He goes to the bottom of an affair at once, and wants but to hear both sides of a question to determine; and when he determines, his execution can only be staid by perverse accidents, that lie out of the reach of human foresight; and when he finds that to be the case, yet the thing right to be done, he changes his methods of proceeding; as a man would do, who, finding himself unable to pursue his journey by one road, because of a sudden inundation, takes another, which, though a little about, carries him home in safety.
As soon as the solemnity was over, Sir Charles, leaving everything at Grandison Hall as he found it, and the seals unbroken, came to town, and, in the presence of his sisters, broke the seals that had been affixed to the cabinets and escritoirs in the house there.
The ladies told him, that their bills were ready for his inspection; and that they had a balance in their hands. His answer was, I hope, my sisters, we shall have but one interest. It is for you to make demands upon me, and for me to answer them as I shall be able.
He made memorandums of the contents of many papers, with surprising expedition; and then locked them up. He found a bank note of 3507. in the private drawer of one of the bureaus in the apartment that was his father's. Be pleased, my sister, said he, presenting it to Miss Caroline, to add that to the money in your hands, to answer family calls.
He then went with his sisters to the house in Essex. When there, he told them, it was necessary for Mrs Oldham (who had lodgings at a neighbouring farm-house) to be present at the breaking of the seals, as she had hers affixed; and accordingly sent for her.
They desired to be excused seeing her.
It will be a concern to me, said he, to see her: but what ought to be done, must be done. The poor woman came, with fear and trembling.
and coachman, looking upon his horses: for there were most of the hunters and racers, some of the finest beasts in the kingdom.
By the mistake of Miss Caroline's maid, the poor woman was shewn into the room where the two ladies were. She was in great confusion; curtseyed, wept, and stood, as well as she could stand; but leaned against the tapestry-hung wall.
How came this? said Miss Caroline to her maid. She was not to be shewn in to us.
I beg pardon; curtseying, and was for withdrawing; but stopt on Charlotte's speech to her—My brother sent for you, madam-Not we, I assure you. He says it is necessary, as you thought fit to put your seal with ours to the locked-up places, that you should be present at the breaking them. Yet he will see you with as much pain as you give us. Prepare yourself to see him. You seem mighty unfit-No wonder!
You have been told, Lucy, that Mrs Oldham by many was called Lady Grandison; and that her birth, her education, good sense, though all was not sufficient to support her virtue against necessity and temptation, (poor woman!) might have given her a claim to the title.
Indeed, ladies, I am a real mourner: but I never myself assumed a character, to which it was never in my thought to solicit a right.
Then, madam, the world does you injustice, madam, said Charlotte.
Here, ladies, are the keys of the stores; of the confectionary; of the wine-vaults. You demanded them not, when you dismissed me from this house. I thought to send them: but by the time I could provide myself with a lodging, you were gone; and left only two common servants, besides the groom and helpers: and I thought it was best to keep the keys, till I could deliver them to your order, or Sir Charles's. I have not been a bad manager, ladies, considered as a housekeeper. All I have in the world is under the seals. I am at yours and your brother's mercy.
'The sisters ordered their woman to take the keys, and bring them to the foot of their thrones. Dear ladies, forgive me, if you should, by surprise, see this. I know that you think and act in a different manner now.
Here comes my brother! said Caroline.
You'll soon know, madam, what you have to trust to from him, said Charlotte.
The poor woman trembled, and turned pale. O how her heart must throb !
He turned to his sisters, as if to give Mrs Oldham time to recover herself. A flood of tears relieved her. She tried to suppress her audible sobs, and, most considerately, he would not hear them. Her emotions attracting the eyes of the ladies, he took them off, by asking them something about a picture that hung on the other side of the room.
He then drew his chair nearer to her, and again taking her trembling hand-I am not a stranger to your melancholy story, Mrs Oldham -be not discomposed
He stopt to give her a few moments' time to recover herself-resuming; See in me a friend, ready to thank you for all your past good offices, and to forget all mistaken ones.
She could not bear this. She threw herself at his feet. He raised her to her chair.
Poor Mr Oldham, said he, was unhappily careless! Yet I have been told he loved you, and that you merited his love-your misfortunes threw you into the knowledge of our family. You have been a faithful manager of the affairs of this house-by written evidences I can justify you; evidences that no one here will, I am sure, dispute.
It was plain that his father had written in her praise, as an economist; the only light in which this pious son was then willing to consider her.
Indeed, I have-and I would still have been
No more of that, madam. Mr Grandison, who is a good-natured man, but a little hasty, has told me that he treated you with unkindness. He owns you were patient under it. Patience never yet was a solitary virtue. He thought you wrong for insisting to put your seal; but he was mistaken: you did right, as to the thing; and, I dare say, a woman of your prudence did not wrong in the manner. No one can judge properly of another, that cannot be that very other in imagination, when he takes the judgment-seat.
O my brother! O my brother!-said both ladies at one time-half in admiration, though half-concerned, at a goodness so eclipsing.
Bear with me, my sisters. We have all something to be forgiven for.
They knew not how far they were concerned, in his opinion, in the admonition, from what their father had written of them. They owned, that they were mortified; yet knew not how to be angry with a brother, who, though more than an equal sufferer with them, could preserve his charity.
He then made a motion, dinner-time, as he said, not being near, for chocolate; and referred to Mrs Oldham to direct it, as knowing best where everything was. She referred to the delivered-up keys. Caroline called in her servant, and gave them to her, Sir Charles desired
Mrs Oldham to be so good as to direct the maid.
The ladies easily saw, that he intended by this, to relieve the poor woman by some little employment; and to take the opportunity of her absence, to endeavour to reconcile them to his intentions, as well as manner of behaving to her.
The moment she was gone out of the room, he thus addressed himself to the ladies :My dear sisters, let me beg of you to think favourably of me on this occasion. I would not disoblige you for the world. I consider not the case of this poor woman, on the foot of her own merits, with regard to us. Our father's memory is concerned. Was he accountable to us, was she, for what each did?-Neither of them was. She is entitled to justice, for its own sake; to generosity, for ours; to kindness, for my father's. Mr Grandison accused her of living in too much state, as he called it. Can that be said to be her fault? With regard to us, was it anybody's? My father's magnificent spirit is. well known. He was often at this house. Wherever he was, he lived in the same taste. He praises to me Mrs Oldham's economy in several of his letters. He had a right to do what he would with his own fortune. It was not ours till now. Whatever he has left us, he might have still lessened it. That economy is all that concerns us in interest; and that is in her favour. If any act of kindness to my sisters was wanting from the parent, they will rejoice, that they deserved what they hope to meet with from him; and where the parent had an option, they will be glad, that they acquiesced under it. He could have given Mrs Oldham a title to a name that would have commanded our respect, if not our reverence. My sisters have enlarged minds; they are daughters of the most charitable, the most forgiving of women. Mr Grandison (it could not be you) has carried too severe a hand towards her. Yet he meant service to us all. I was willing, before I commended this poor woman to your mercy, (since it was necessary to see her,) to judge of her behaviour. Is she not humble enough? From my soul I pity her. She loved my father; and I have no doubt but mourns for him in secret; yet dares not own, dares not plead, her love. I am willing to consider her only as one who has executed a principal office in this house; it becomes us so to behave to her, as that the world should think we consider her in that light only. As to the living proofs, (unhappy innocents!) I am concerned, that what are the delight of other parents, are the disgrace of this. But let us not, by resentments, publish faults that could not be hers only.— Need I say more?—It would pain me to be obliged to it. With pain have I said thus much -The circumstances of the case are such, that I cannot give it its full force. I ask it of you