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Ruminating, in my retirement, on all the dear girl had said, and on what might be my fate; so many different thoughts came into my head, that I could not close my eyes: I therefore arose before day; and while my thoughts were agitated with the affecting subject, had recourse to my pen.
Do, my Lucy, and do you, my grandmamma, my aunt, my uncle, more than give me leave, bid me, command me, if it shall be proposed, to bring down with me my Emily and yet she shall not come, if you don't all promise to love her as well as you do
Your for ever obliged
MISS BYRON TO MISS SELBY.
Monday, March 20. THE active, the restless goodness of this Sir Charles Grandison, absolutely dazzles me, Lucy!
The good Dr Bartlett has obliged us all with the sight of two letters, which give an account of what he has done for Lord Whis uncle. He has been more than a father to his un
Sat. Night, March 18.
As soon as I had seen Mrs Jervois to her chair, I went to attend Lord W—————.
He received me with great expressions of esteem and affection.
He commanded his attendants to withdraw, and told me, taking my hand, that my character rose upon him from every mouth. He was in love with me, he said. I was my mother's
He commended me for my economy, and complimented into generosity the justice I had done to some of my friends.
I frankly own, said he, that at your first arrival, and even till now, (that I am determined to be the man, you, cousin, would wish me to be,) I had thought it but prudent to hold back: for I imagined, that your father had lived at such a rate, that you would have applied to me, to extricate you from difficulties; and particularly, for money, to marry your eldest sister. At least, I took notice, young man, proceeded he, and I heard others observe, that you had not eyes to see any of your father's faults; either when he was living or departed; and this gave
me reason to apprehend, that you had your father's extravagant turn: and I was resolved, if I were applied to, to wrap myself close about in a general denial. Else, all I had been gathering together for so many years past, might soon have been dissipated; and I should only have taken a thorn out of the foot of another, and put it into my own.
And then he threw out some disagreeable reflections on my father's spirit.
To these I answered, that every man had a right to judge for himself, in those articles for which he himself is only accountable. My father, and your lordship, continued I, had very different ways of thinking. Magnificence was his taste: prudence (so your lordship must account it,) is yours. There are people in the world, who would give different names to both tastes: but would not your lordship think it very presumptuous in any man to arraign you at the bar of his judgment, as mistaken in the measures of your prudence?
Look you, nephew, I don't well know what to make of your speech; but I judge, that you mean not to affront me.
I do not, my lord. While you were apprehensive, that you might be a sufferer by me, you acted with your usual prudence to discourage an application. My father had, in your lordship's judgment, but one fault; and he was the principal sufferer by it himself: had he looked into his affairs, he would have avoided the necessity of doing several things that were disagreeable to him, and must ever be to a man of spirit. His very timber, that required, as I may say, the axe, would have furnished him with all he wanted: and he paid interest for a less sum of money than actually was in the hands of his stewards, unaccounted for.
But what a glory to you, cousin
No compliment to me, my lord, I pray you, to the discredit of my father's memory. He had a right to do what he did. Your lordship does what you think fit. I too, now I am my own master, do as I please. My taste is different from both. I pursue mine, as he did his. If I should happen to be more right than my father in some things, he might have the advantage of me in others; and in those I happen to do, that are generally thought laudable, what merit have 1? since all this time (directed by a natural bias) I am pursuing my own predominant passion; and that, perhaps, with as much ardour, and as little power to resist it, as my father had to restrain his.
Bravo! bravo! said my lord.-Let me ask you, nephew-May all young men, if they will, improve by travelling, as you have done?-If they may, by my troth, nine parts in ten of those who go abroad ought to be hanged up at their fathers' doors on their return.
Very severe, my lord. But thinking minds
I would be alone with my nephew, said my lord, in a passionate tone.
You shall be alone, my lord, impertinently replied she, with an air that looked as if they had quarrelled more than once before, and that she had made it up on her own terms. She pulled the door after her with a rudeness that he only could take, and deserve, who was conscious of having degraded himself.
Foolish woman! Why came she in when I was there, except to shew her supposed consequence, at the expense of his honour? She knew my opinion of her. She would by a third hand, once, have made overtures to me of her interest with my lord; but I should have thought meanly of myself, had I not, with disdain, rejected the tender of her services.
A damned woman! said my lord; but looked, first, as if he would be sure she was out of hearing.
This woman, nephew, and her behaviour, is one of the subjects I wanted to consult you upon.
Defer this subject, my lord, till you have recovered your temper. You did not design to begin with it. You are discomposed.
And so I am; and he puffed and panted, as if out of breath.
I asked him some indifferent questions: to have followed him upon the subject at that time, whatever resolutions he had taken, they would probably have gone off, when the passion to which they would have owed their vigour, had subsided.
When he had answered them, his colour and his wrath went down together.
He then ran out into my praises again, and particularly for my behaviour to Mrs Oldham ; who, he said, lived now very happily, and very exemplarily; and never opened her lips, when she was led to mention me, but with blessings heaped upon me.
That woman, my lord, said I, was once good. A recovery, where a person is not totally abandoned, is more to be hoped for, than the reformation of one who never was well-principled. All that is wished for, in the latter, is, that she may be made unhurtful. Her highest good was never more than harmlessness. She that was once good, cannot be easy, when she is in a state of true penitence, till she is restored to that from which she was induced to depart.
You understand these matters, cousin; I don't. But if you will favour me with more of your company, I shall, I believe, be the better for your notions. But I must talk about this woman, nephew. I am calm now. I must talk of this woman nowv-I am resolved to part with her; I can bear her no longer. Did you not mind how she pulled the door after her, though you were present?
I did, my lord. But it was plain, that something disagreeable had passed before; or she could not so totally have forgotten herself. But, my lord, we will postpone this subject, if you please. If you yourself lead to it after dinner, I will attend to it, with all my heart.
Well, then, be it so. But now tell me, have you, nephew, any thoughts of marriage?
I have great honour for the state; and hope to be one day happy in it.
Well said-and are you at liberty, kinsman, to receive a proposal of that nature?
And then, without waiting for any answer, he proposed Lady Frances N- -, and said, he had been spoken to on this subject.
Lady Frances, answered I, is a very deserving young lady. My father set on foot a treaty with her family. But it has been long broken off; it cannot be resumed.
Well, what think you of Lady Anne S―? I am told that she is likely to be the lady. She has a noble fortune. Your sisters, I hear, are friends to Lady Anne.
My sisters wish me happily married. I have such an opinion of both those ladies, that it would give me some little pain, to imagine each would not, in her turn, refuse me, were I offered to her, as I cannot, myself, make the offer. I cannot bear, my lord, to think of returning slight for respect, to my own sex ; but as to ladies, how can we expect that delicacy and dignity from them, which are the bulwarks of their virtue, if we do not treat them with dignity?
Charming notions! If you had not them abroad, you had them from your mother; she was all that was excellent in woman.
Indeed she was. Excellent woman! She is always before my eyes.
And excellent kinsman too! Now I know your reverence for your mother, I will allow of all you say of your father, because I see it is all from principle. I have known some men who
have spoken with reverence of their mothers, to give themselves dignity; that is to say, for bringing creatures so important as themselves into the world; and who have exacted respect to the good old women, who were merely good old women, as we call them, in order to take the incense offered the parent, into their own nostrils. This was duty in parade.
The observation, my good Dr Bartlett, I thought above my Lord W I think I have heard one like it, made by my father, who saw very far into men; but was sometimes led, by his wit, into saying a severe thing; and yet, whenever I hear a man praised highly for the performance of common duties; as for being a good husband, a good son, or a kind father; though each is comparatively praiseworthy, Í conclude, that there is nothing extraordinary to be said of him. To call a man a good FRIEND, is indeed comprising all the duties in one word; for friendship is the balm, as well as seasoning, of life; and a man cannot be defective in any of the social duties, who is capable of it, when the term is rightly understood.
Well, cousin, since you cannot think of either of those ladies, how should you like the rich and beautiful Countess of R? You know what an excellent character she bears.
I do. But, my lord, I should not choose to marry a widow; and yet, generally, I do not disrespect widows, nor imagine those men to blame who marry them. But as my circumstances are not unhappy, and as riches will never be my principal inducement in the choice of a wife, I may be allowed to indulge my peculiarities; especially as I shall hope (and I should not deserve a good wife if I did not,) that, when once married, I shall be married for my whole life.
The Countess once declared, said my lord, before half a score in company, two of them her particular admirers, that she never would marry any man in the world, except he were just such another, in mind and manners, as Sir Charles Grandison.
Ladies, my lord, who in absence speak favourably of a man who forms not pretensions upon them, nor is likely to be troublesome to them, would soon convince that man of his mistake, were his presumption to rise upon their declared good opinion of him.
I wonder, proceeded my lord, that every young man is not good. I have heard you, cousin, praised in all the circles where you have been mentioned. It was certainly an advantage to you to come back to us a stranger, as I may say. Many youthful follies may perhaps be overpassed, that we shall never know anything of; but, be that as it will, I can tell you, sir, that I have heard such praises of you, as have made my eyes glisten, because of my relation to you. I was told, within this month past, that no fewer
than five ladies, out of one circle, declared, that they would stand out by consent, and let you pick and choose a wife from among them.
What your lordship has heard of this nature, let me say, without affecting to disclaim a compliment apparently too high for my merits, is much more to the honour of the one sex, than of the other. I should be glad, that policy, if not principle, (principle might take root, and grow from it,) would mend us men.
So should I, nephew; but I [Poor man! he hung down his head! have not been a better man than I ought to be. Do you not despise me, in your heart, cousin ?—You must have heard that cursed woman-but I begin to repent! And the truly good, I believe, cannot be either censorious or uncharitable. Tell me, however, do you not despise me?
Despise my mother's brother! No, my lord. Yet were a sovereign to warrant my freedom, and there were a likelihood that he would be the better for it; I would, with decency, tell him my whole mind. I am sorry to say it; but your lordship, if you have not had virtue to make you worthy of being imitated, have too many examples among the great, as well as among the middling, to cause you to be censured for singularity. But your lordship adds, to a confession that is not an ungenerous one, that you begin to repent.
Indeed I do. And your character, cousin, has made me half ashamed of myself.
I am not accustomed, my lord, to harangue on these subjects to men who know their duty; but let me say, that your lordship's good resolutions, to be efficacious, must be built upon a better foundation than occasional disgust or disobligation. But here, again, we are verging to a subject that we are both agreed to defer till after dinner.
I am charmed with your treatment of me, cousin. I shall, for my own sake, adore my sister's son. Had I consulted my chaplain, who is a good man too, he would have too roughly treated me.
Divines, my lord, must do their duty. He then introduced the affair between Sir Hargrave Pollexfen and me, of which, I found, he was more particularly informed, than I could have imagined; and after he had launched out upon that, and upon my refusal of a duel, he, by a transition that was very natural, mentioned the rescued lady, as he called her. I have heard, cousin, said he, that she is the most beautiful woman in England.
I think her so, my lord, replied I; and she has one excellence, that I never before met with in a beauty. She is not proud of it.
I then gave my opinion of Miss Byron in such terms, as made my lord challenge me, as my sisters once did, on the warmth of my description and praises of her.
And does your lordship think, that I cannot do justice to the merits of such a lady as Miss
Byron, but with an interested view? I do assure you, that what I have said, is short of what I think of her. But I can praise a lady, without meaning a compliment to myself. I look upon it, however, as one of the most fortunate accidents of my life, that I have been able to serve her, and save her from a forced marriage with a man whom she disliked, and who could not deserve her. There is hardly anything gives me more pain, than when I see a worthy woman very unequally yoked, if her own choice has not been at first consulted; and who yet, though deeply sensible of her misfortune, irreproachably supports her part of the yoke.
You are a great friend to the sex, kinsman. I am. I think the man who is not, must have fallen into bad company; and deserves not to have been favoured with better. Yet, to unwomanly faults, to want of morals, and even to want of delicacy, no man is more quick-sighted.
I don't know how it is; but I have not, at this rate, fallen into the best company; but perhaps it is for want of that delicacy, in my own mind, which you are speaking of.
Were we men, my lord, to value women (and to let it be known that we do) for those qualities which are principally valuable in the sex; the less estimable, if they would not be reformed, would shrink out of our company, into company more suitable to their taste; and we should never want objects worthy of our knowledge, and even of our admiration, to associate with. There is a kind of magnetism in goodness. Bad people will indeed find out bad people, to accompany with, in order to keep one another in countenance; but they are bound together by a rope of sand; whilst trust, confidence, love, sympathy, twist a cord, by a reciprocation of beneficent offices, which ties good men to good men, and cannot easily be broken.
I have never had these notions, cousin; and yet they are good ones. I took people as I found them; and, to own the truth, meaning to serve myself, rather than anybody else, I never took pains to look out for worthy attachments. The people I had to do with, had the same views upon me, as I had upon them; and thus I went on in a state of hostility with all men; mistrusting and guarding, as well as I could, and not doubting that every man I had to do with would impose upon me, if I placed confidence in him.-But as to this Miss Byron, nephew, I shall never rest till I see her-Pray, what is her fortune? They tell me, it is not above 15,000l.-What is that, to the offers you have had made you?
Just then we were told, dinner was on the table. I am wishing for an inclination to rest; but it flies me. The last letter from Beauchamp, dated from Bologna, as well as those from the Bishop, afflict me. Why have I such a feeling heart? Were the unhappy situation of affairs there owing to my own enterprizing spirit, I should deserve the pain it gives me. But I should be too happy, had I not these without door per
I am determined, nephew, to part with this Giffard. She is the plague of my life. I would have done it half a year ago, on an occasion that I will not mention to you, because you would despise me, if I did, for my weakness; and now she wants to bring in upon me a sister of hers, and her husband, and to part with two other worthy folks, that I know love me; but of whom, for that reason, she is jealous; and then they would divide me among them; for this man and his wife have six children; all of whom, of late, make an appearance that cannot be honestly supported.
And have you any difficulty, my lord, in parting with her, but what arises from your own
want of resolution?
The most insolent devil that ever was about a man at one time, and the most whining at another. Don't despise me, nephew ; you know I have taken her as-You know what I mean
I understand you, my lord.
But say, you don't despise me, Sir Charles Grandison. As I hope to live, I am half afraid of you.
My pity, my lord, where I see compunction, is stronger than my censure.
That is well said.-Now I agreed with this woman, in a weak moment, and she has held me to it, to give her an annuity of 150/. for life; which was to be made up 2507. if I parted with her, without her consent; and here we have been, for several months, plaguing one another, whether I shall turn her out of the house, or she will leave me; for she has told me, that she will not stay, unless I take in her sister and brother; yet will not go, because she will then have no more than the 1507. a-year; and that is too much for her deserts for these two years past.
Your lordship sees the inconveniencies of this way of life; and I need not mention to you, how
Give me leave to say, that your lordship has deserved some punishment. Give her the annuity, not as a reward to her, but as a punishment to yourself.
You hurt my sore place, nephew.
Consider, my lord, that 2507. a-year for life, or even for ever, is a poor price, for the reputation of a woman with whom a man of your quality and fortune condescended to enter into treaty. Every quarterly payment must strike her to the heart, if she lives to have compunction seize her, when she thinks that she is receiving, for subsistence, the wages of her shame. Be that her punishment. You intimate, that she has so behaved herself, that she has but few friends. Part with her, without giving her cause of complaint, that may engage pity for her, if not friends, at your expense. A woman who has lost her reputation, will not be regardful of yours. Suppose she sue you for non-performance of covenants, would your lordship appear to such a prosecution? You cannot be capable of pleading your privilege on a prosecution that would otherwise go against you. You cannot be in earnest to part with this woman. She cannot have offended you beyond forgiveness, if you scruple 1007. a-year to get rid of her.
He fervently swore, that he was in earnest ; and added, I am resolved, nephew, to marry, and live honest.
He looked at me, as if he expected I should be surprised.
I believe I could not change countenance on such a hint as this. You have come to a good