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knows, to be superior to herself, in every quality, in every endowment, both of mind and forand be doubtful, (far, far worse is doubtful than sure!) among some faint glimmerings of hope, whether his affections are engaged; and if they are not, whether he can return-Ah, Lucy! you know what I mean-Don't let me speak out.
But one word more-Don't you think the Doctor's compliment, at the beginning of this letter, a little particular ?" Delight of EVERY ONE who is so happy as to know you." Charming words!-But are they, or are they not, officiously inserted?-Am I the delight of Sir Charles Grandison's heart? Does he not know me?-Weak, silly, vain, humble, low, yet proud Harriet Byron !-Begone, paper-mean confession of my conjecturing folly-Ah, Lucy, I tore the paper half through, as you'll see, in anger at myself; but I will stitch it to the Doctor's letter, to be taken off by you, and to be seen by nobody else.
MISS HARRIET BYRON TO MISS LUCY SELBY.
Saturday, March 18.
SELF, my dear Lucy, is a very wicked thing; a sanctifier, if one would give way to its partial ities, of actions, which in others we should have no doubt to condemn. DELICACY, too, is often a misleader; an idol, at whose shrine we sometimes offer up our sincerity; but, in that case, it should be called indelicacy.
Nothing, surely, can be delicate, that is not true, or that gives birth to equivocation; yet how was I pleased with Lord and Lady Land Miss Grandison, for endeavouring to pass me off to good Dr Bartlett in the light I had no title to appear in !-As if my mind, in a certain point, remained to be known; and would so remain, till the gentleman had discovered his.
And are there some situations, in which a woman must conceal her true sentiments? in which it would be thought immodesty to speak out?-Why was I born with a heart so open and sincere? But why, indeed, as Sir Charles has said in his letter relating to the Danbys, should women be blamed, for owning modestly a passion for a worthy and suitable object? Is it, that they will not speak out, lest, if their wishes should not be crowned with success by one man, they should deprive themselves of the chance to succeed with another? Do they not propose to make the man they love, happy?— And is it a crime to acknowledge, that they are so well disposed to a worthy object? A worthy object, I repeat; for that is what will warrant the open heart. What a littleness is there in the custom that compels us to be insincere? And
suppose we do not succeed with a first object, shall we cheat a future lover with the notion that he was the first?
Hitherto I had acted with some self-appro→ bation. I told Mr Greville, Mr Fenwick, Mr Orme, Mr Fowler, that I had not seen the man to whom I could wish to give my hand at the altar; but when I found my heart engaged, I was desirous Lady D- should know that it But yet, misled by this same notion of delicacy, I could think myself obliged to the two sisters, and my lord, that they endeavoured to throw a blind over the eyes of good Dr Bartlett ; when the right measure, I now think, would have been, not to have endeavoured to obtain lights from him, that we all thought he was not commissioned to give; or, if we had, to have related to him the whole truth, and not to have put on disguises to him; but to have left him wholly a judge of the fit and the unfit.
And this is LOVE, is it? that puts an honest girl upon approving of such tricks?-Begone, love! I banish thee, if thou wouldst corrupt the simplicity of that heart, which was taught to glory in truth.
And yet, I had like to have been drawn into a greater fault; for, what do you think?—Miss Grandison had, (by some means or other; she would not tell me how,) in Dr Bartlett's absence, on a visit to one of the canons of Windsor, got at a letter brought early this morning from her brother to that good man, and which he had left opened on his desk.
Here, Harriet, said she, is the letter so lately brought, not perhaps quite honestly come at, from my brother to Dr Bartlett, (holding it out to me.) You are warmly mentioned in it. Shall I put it where I had it? Or will you so far partake of my fault, as to read it first?
O Miss Grandison ! said I ; and am I warmly mentioned in it? Pray oblige me with the perusal of it. And held out my more than half guilty hand, and took it; but (immediately recollecting myself) did you not hint that you came at it by means not honest ?-Take it again; I will not partake of your fault-But, cruel Charlotte! how could you tempt me so? And I laid it on a chair.
Read the first paragraph, Harriet. She took it up, unfolded it, and pointed to the first paragraph.
Tempter, said I, how can you wish me to imitate our first pattern! And down I sat, and put both my hands before my eyes. Take it away, take it away, while yet I am innocent!-Dear Miss Grandison, do not give me cause for self-reproach. I will not partake of your acknowledged fault.
She read a line or two; and then said, Shall I read farther, Harriet? The very next word is your name.
No, no, no, said I, putting my fingers to my
ears. Yet, had you come honestly by it, I should have longed to read it.-By what means————
Why, if people will leave their closet-doors open, let them take the consequence.
If people will do so-But was it so? And yet, if it was, would you be willing to have your letters looked into?
Well, then, I will carry it back-Shall I? (holding it out to me:) Shall I, Harriet?—I will put it where I had it-Shall I? And twice or thrice went from me, and came back to me, with a provoking archness in her looks.
Only tell me, Miss Grandison, is there anything in it that you think your brother would not have us see?-But I am sure there is, or the obliging Dr Bartlett, who has shewn us others, would have favoured us with communicating the contents of this.
I would not but have seen this letter for half I am worth! O Harriet! there are such things in it-Bologna! Paris! Grandison-Hall!
Begone, siren! Letters are sacred things. Replace it.-Don't you own, that you came not honestly by it?—And yet
Ah! Lucy, I was ready to yield to the curiosity she had raised; but, recollecting myself, Begone, said I; carry back the letter; I am afraid of myself.
Why, Harriet, here is one passage, the contents of which you must be acquainted with in a very little while
I will not be tempted, Miss Grandison. I will stay till it is communicated to me, be it what it will.
her down with you into Northamptonshire ?Answer me that.
Ah! Miss Grandison! And is there such a proposal as that mentioned ?-But, answer me not, I beseech you. Whatever proposal is intended to be made me, let it be made; it will be too soon whenever that is, if it be a disagreeable one.
How you reflect upon me, Harriet !-But let me ask you, Are you willing, as a third sister, to take Emily into your guardianship, and carry
But let me say, madam, (and tears were in my eyes,) that I will not be treated with indignity by the best man on earth. And while I can refuse to yield to a thing that I think unworthy of myself, (you are a sister, madam, and have nothing either to hope or fear,) I have a title to act with spirit, when occasions call for it.
My dear, you are serious-Twice madam, in one breath! I will not forgive you. You ought now to hear that passage read which relates to you and Emily, if you will not read it yourself.
And she was looking for it; I suppose intending to read it to me.
No, Miss Grandison, said I, laying my spread hand upon the letter; I will neither read it, nor hear it read. I begin to apprehend, that there will be occasion for me to exert all my fortitude; and while it is yet in my power to do a right or a wrong thing, I will not deprive myself of the consciousness of having merited well, whatever may be my lot-Excuse me, madam.
I went to the door, and was opening it—when she ran to me-Dear creature! you are angry with me; but how that pride becomes you! There is a dignity in it that awes me. O Harriet! how infinitely does it become the only woman in the world, that is worthy of the best man in it! Only say, you are not angry with me. Say that you can and do forgive me.
Forgive you, my Charlotte!-I do. But can you say, that you came not honestly by that letter, and yet forgive yourself? But, my dear Miss Grandison, instantly replace it; and do you watch over me, like a true friend, if in a future hour of weakness you should find me desirous to know any of the contents of a paper so naughtily come at. I own that I had like to have been overcome; and if I had, all the information it would have given me, could never have recompensed me for what I should have suffered in my own opinion, when I reflected on the means by which I had obtained it.
Superior creature! how you shame me! I will replace the letter. And I promise you, that if I cannot forget the contents of it myself, (and yet they are glorious to my brother,) I will never mention any of them to you; unless the letter be fairly communicated to you, and to us all.
I threw my arms about her neck. She fervently returned the sisterly embrace. We separated; she retiring at one door, in order to go up to replace the letter; I at the other, to reconsider all that had passed on the occasion. And I hope I shall love her the better for taking
so kindly a behaviour so contrary to what her own had been.
Well, but don't you congratulate me, my dear, on my escape from my curiosity? I am sure my grandmamma, and my aunt, will be pleased with their girl. Yet it was a hard struggle, I own in the suspense I am in, a very hard struggle. But though wishes will play about my heart, that I knew such of the contents as it might concern me to know, yet I am infinitely better pleased that I yielded not to the temptation, than I should have been, if I had. And then, methinks, my pride is gratified in the superiority this lady ascribes to me over herself, whom so lately I thought greatly my superior.
Yet what merit have I in this? Since, if I had considered only rules of policy, I should have been utterly wrong, had I yielded to the temptation; for what use could I have made of any knowledge I might have obtained by this means? If any proposal is to be made me, of what nature soever, it must, in that case, have appeared to be quite new to me; and what an affectation must that have occasioned, what dissimulation, in your Harriet !-And how would a creature, educated as I have been, have behaved under such trials as might have arisen from a knowledge so faultily obtained?
And had I been discovered; had I given cause of suspicion either to Dr Bartlett, or Sir Charles; I should have appeared as the principal in the fact. It would have been mean to accuse Miss Grandison, as the tempter, in a temptation yielded to with my eyes open. And should I not have cast a slur upon that curiosity which Dr Bartlett before had not refused to gratify, as well as shut myself out from all future communications and confidence?
It is very possible, besides, that, unused as I have been to artifice and disguise, I should have betrayed myself; especially had I found any of the contents of the letter very affecting.
Thus you see, Lucy, that policy, as well as rectitude of manners, justifies me; and in this particular I am a happy girl.
Miss Grandison has just now told her sister what passed between us. Lady L- says, she would not have been Miss Grandison, in taking the letter, by what means soever come at; for how, said she, did I know what secrets there might be in it, before I read it? But I think verily, when it had been got at, and offered me, I could not have been Miss Byron.
And she threw her arms about me. Dear creature, said she, you must be Lady Grandi
Must! said Miss Grandison; she shall. Miss Grandison talked to Lady Lbeing likely that her brother would go to Bologna; of a visit he is soon to make to Grandison-Hall; and she to go with him on a tour to Paris, in order to settle some matters relating to the will of his late friend Mr Danby.
Well, Lucy, my time in town is hastening to its period. Why am I not reminded that my three allotted months are near expired? Will you receive the poor girl, who, perhaps, will not be able to carry down with her the heart she brought up? And yet, to go down to such dear friends without it, what an ungrateful sound has that!
Miss Grandison began to talk of other subjects relating to her brother, and that greatly to his praise. I could have heard all she had to say with infinite pleasure. I do love to hear him praised. But, as I doubted not but these subjects arose from the letter so surreptitiously obtained, I restrained myself, and withdrew.
Or what a happy temper is Miss Grandison ! She was much affected with the scene that passed between us; but all is over with her already. One lesson upon her harpsichord sets everything right with her. She has been rallying Lord Lwith as much life and spirit, as if she had done nothing to be vexed at. Had I been induced by her to read the letter which she got at dishonestly, as she owned, what a poor figure should I have made in my own eyes, for a month to come!
But did she not as soon overcome the mortification given her by her brother, on the detection of Captain Anderson's affair? How unmercifully did she rally me within a few hours after ! Yet, she has fine qualities. One cannot help loving her. I do love her. But is it not a weakness to look without abatement of affection on those faults in one person which we should hold utterly inexcusable in another? In Miss Grandison's case, however, don't say it is, Lucy. O what a partiality! Yet she has within these few minutes owned, that she thought the step she had taken a faulty one, before she came to me with the letter; and hoped to induce me to countenance her in what she had done.
I called her a little Satan on this occasion. But, after all, what if the dear Charlotte's curiosity was more for my sake than her own? No motive of friendship, you will say, can justify a wrong action-Why no, Lucy; that is very true; but if you knew Miss Grandison, you would love her dearly.
SIR CHARLES GRANDISON TO DR BARTLETT.
of its [The Letter which Miss Byron refused to read, or hear read.]
Friday Night, March 17. I HOPE my Lord L and my sisters will be able to make Colnebrook so agreeable to Miss
When, my dear friend, shall I find time for myself? Pray make my compliments to my Lord L, and to my three sisters; and tell them from me, that when I have the happiness of being in their company, then it is that I think I give time to myself.
I have a letter from Bologna; from the faithful Camilla. The contents of it give me great concern. She urges me to make one more visit there. She tells me, that the Bishop said, in her hearing, it would be kind, if I would. Were such a visit to be requested generally, and it were likely to be of service, you may believe that I would cheerfully make it.
I should go for a fortnight at least to Grandison-Hall. Burgess has let me know, that the workmen have gone almost as far as they can go without my farther orders. And the churchwardens have signified to me, that the church is completely beautified, according to my directions; so that it will be ready to be opened on the Sunday after next, at farthest; and entreat my presence, both as patron and benefactor. I would now hasten my designed alterations at
I had rather not be present at the opening. Yet the propriety of my being there will probably prevail upon me to comply with the entreaties of the churchwardens; who, in their letter, signify the expectations of Sir Samuel Clarke, Sir William Turner, and Mr Barnham, of seeing me, and my sister Charlotte. You will be pleased to mention this to her.
I wish, without putting a slight upon good Mr Dobson, that you, my dear friend, could oblige us with the first sermon. All then would be decent, and worthy of the occasion; and the praise would be given properly, and not to the agent. But as it would be a little mortifying to Mr Dobson (of whose praise only I am apprehensive) so much as to hint such a wish, I will write to him, that he will oblige me if he say not one word, that shall carry the eyes of the audience to my seat.
The execution of the orders I gave, that five other pews should be equally distinguished and ornamented with mine, carries not with it the appearance of affectation, does it, my good Dr Bartlett? especially as so many considerable families have seats there? I would not seem guilty of a false modesty, which, breaking out into singularity, would give the suspicion of a wrong direction, in cases where it may be of use to support a right one.
What can I do in relation to my Emily? she
is of the stature of a woman. She ought, according to the present taste, to be introduced into public life. I am not fond of that life; and what knowledge she will gain by the introduction, she had better be without. Yet I think we should conform something to the taste of the times in which we live. Women's minds have generally a lighter turn than those of men. They should be innocently indulged. And on this principle it was, that last winter I attended her, and my sisters, very often to the places of public entertainment; that she, having seen everything that was the general subject of polite conversation, might judge of such entertainments as they deserve; and not add expectation (which runs very high in young minds, and is seldom answered) to the ideal scenes. This indulgence answered as I wished. Emily can now hear talk of the emulation of actors and managers, and of the other public diversions, with tranquillity; and be satisfied, as she reads, with representing over again to herself the parts in which the particular actors excelled. And thus a boundary is set to her imagination; and that by her own choice; for she thinks lightly of them, when she can be obliged by the company of my two sisters and Lord L
But new scenes will arise in an age so studious as this, to gratify the eye and the ear. From these a young woman of fortune must not be totally excluded. I am a young man; and as Emily is so well grown for her years, I think I cannot so properly be her introducer to them, as I might, were I fifteen or twenty years older.
I live to my own heart; and I know (I think I do) that it is not a bad one; but as I cannot intend anything with regard to my Emily, I must, for her sake, be more observing of the world's opinion, than I hope I need to be for my own. You have taught me, that it is not good manners to despise the world's opinion, though we should regard it only in the second place.
Emily has too large a fortune. I have a high opinion of her discretion. But she is but a girl. Women's eyes are wanderers; and too often bring home guests that are very troublesome to them; and whom, once introduced, they cannot get out of the house.
I wish she had only ten thousand pounds. She would then stand a better chance for happiness, than she can do, I doubt, with five times ten; and would have five persons, to one that she has now, to choose out of; for how few are there who can make proposals to the father or guardian of a girl who has 50,000l.?
Indeed there are not wanting in our sex forward spirits, who will think that sum not too much for their merits, though they may not deserve 5000l., nor even one. And hence arises the danger of a woman of great fortune from those who will not dare to make proposals to a guardian. After an introduction, (and how easy is that now made, at public places!) a woman of
the greatest fortune is but a woman, and is to be attacked, and prevailed upon, by the same methods which succeed with a person of the slenderest; and, perhaps, is won with equal, if not with greater ease; since, if the lady has a little romance in her head, and her lover a great deal of art and flattery, she will call that romantic turn generosity, and, thinking she can lay the man who has obtained her attention under obligation, she will meet him her full half way.
Emily is desirous to be constantly with us. My sister is very obliging. I know she will comply with whatever I shall request of her in relation to Emily. But where the reputation of a lady is concerned, a man should not depend too much upon his own character, especially a young man, be it ever so unexceptionable. Her mother has already given out foolish hints. She demands her daughter. The unhappy woman has no regard to truth. Her own character lost, and so deservedly, will she have any tenderness for that of Emily? Who will scruple to believe what a mother, though ever so wicked, will report of her daughter under twenty, and her guardian under thirty, if they live constantly together? Her guardian, at the same time, carrying his heart in his countenance, and loving the girl; though with as much innocence, as if she were his sister. Once I had thoughts of craving the assistance of the Court of Chancery, for the protection of her person and fortune; but a hint of this nature distressed her for many days, unknown to me. Had I been acquainted that she took it so heavily, I would not have made her unhappy for one day.
I have looked out among the quality for a future husband for her; but where can I find one with whom I think she will be happy? There are many who would be glad of her fortune. As I said, her fortune is too large. It is enough to render every man's address to her suspected; and to make a guardian apprehensive, that her person, agreeable as it is, and every day improving, and her mind opening to advantage every hour of her life, would be but the second, if the second, view of a man professing to love her. And were she to marry, what a damp would the slights of a husband give to the genius of a young woman, whose native modesty would always make her want encouragement !
I have also cast an eye over the gentry within my knowledge; but have not met with one whom I could wish to be the husband of my Emily. So tender, so gentle, so ductile, as she is; a fierce, a rash, an indelicate, even a careless or indifferent man, would either harden her heart, or shorten her life; and as the latter would be much more easy to be effected than the former, what must she suffer before she could return indifference for disrespect; and reach the quiet end of it!
See what a man Sir Walter Watkyns is! My sister only could deal with such a one.
periority in her so visible, he must fear her; yet a generosity so great, and a dignity so conspicuous, in her whole behaviour, as well as countenance, he must love her: everybody's respect to her, would oblige love and reverence from him. But my weak-hearted, diffident Emily, what would she do with such a man?
What would she do with a Sir Hargrave Pollexfen? What with such a man as Mr Greville, as Sir Hargrave describes him? I mention these men, for are there not many such?
I am not apt to run into grave declamations against the times; and yet, by what I have seen abroad, and now lately, since my arrival, at home, and have heard from men of greater observation, and who have lived longer in the world than I have, I cannot but think that Englishmen are not what they were. A wretched effeminacy seems to prevails among them. Marriage itself is every day more and more out of fashion; and even virtuous women give not the institution so much of their countenance, as to discourage, by their contempt, the free-livers. A good woman, as such, has therefore but few chances for happiness in marriage. Yet shall I not endeavour, the more endeavour, to save and serve my Emily?
I have one encouragement, since my happy acquaintance with Miss Byron, to think that the age is not entirely lost to a sense of virtue and goodness. See we not how everybody reveres er? Even a Sir Hargrave Pollexfen, a Greville, a Fenwick, men of free lives, adore her. And at the same time she meets with the love of all good men, and the respect of women, whether gay or serious. But I am afraid, that the first attraction with men is her beauty. I am afraid, that few see in that admirable young lady what I see in her; a mind great and noble; a sincerity beyond that of women; a goodness unaffected, and which shews itself in action, and not merely in words, and outward appearance; a wit lively and inoffensive; and an understanding solid and useful; all which render her a fit companion, either in the social or contemplative hour; and yet she thinks herself not above the knowledge of those duties, the performance of which makes an essential of the female charac
But I am not giving a character of Miss Byron to you, my good Dr Bartlett, who admire her as much as I do.
Do you think it impossible for me to procure for my Emily such a guardian and companion as Miss Byron, on her return to Northamptonshire, would make her?-Such worthy relations as she would introduce her to, would be a farther happiness to my ward.
I am far from undervaluing my sister's good qualities; but if Emily lives with her, she must live also with me. Indeed the affairs in which I am engaged for other people, (if I may call those who have a claim upon me for every instance of my friendship, other people,) will oc