« EdellinenJatka »
the drawing-room adjoining to the library. On my entrance, Well, Harriet, said Miss Grandison, we will now endeavour to find out my brother you must be present too yourself, and put in a word now and then. We shall see if Dr Bartlett is right, when he says, that my brother is the most unreserved of men.
Just then came in Dr Bartlett—I think, Doctor, said Lady L—, we will take your advice, and ask my brother all the questions in relation to his engagements abroad, that come into our heads.
She had not done speaking, when Sir Charles entered, and drew his chair next me; and just then I thought myself he looked upon me with equal benignity and respect.
Miss Grandison began with taking notice of the letter from which Dr Bartlett, she said, had read some passages, of the happiness he had procured to Lord W- in ridding him of his woman. She wished, she told him, that she knew who was the lady he had in his thoughts to commend to my lord for a wife.
I will have a little talk with her before I name her, even to you, my lord, and my sisters. I am sure my sisters will approve of their aunt, if she accept of my lord for a husband: I shall pay my compliments to her in my return from Grandison-Hall.-Do you, Charlotte, choose to accompany me thither? I must, I think, be present at the opening of the church. I don't ask you, my lord, nor you, Lady L-, so short as my stay will be there. I purpose to go down on Friday next, and return the Tuesday following.
Miss Gr. I think, brother, I should wish to be excused. If, indeed, you would stay there a week or fortnight, I could like to attend you; and so, I dare say, would Lord and Lady L
Sir Ch. I must be in town on Wednesday next week; but you may stay the time you mention: you cannot pass it disagreeably in the neighbourhood of the Hall; and there you will find your cousin Grandison: he will gallant you from one neighbour to another: and, if I judge by your freedoms with him, you have a greater regard for him, than perhaps you know you have.
Miss Gr. Your servant, sir, bowing-But I will take my revenge-Pray, Sir Charles, may I ask-(we are all brothers and sisters)
Sir Ch. Stop, Charlotte: [pleasantly:] if you are going to ask any questions by way of revenge, I answer them not.
Miss. Gr. Revenge!-Not revenge, neither -But when my Lord W, as by the passages Dr Bartlett was so good as to read to us, proposed to you this lady for a wife, and that lady; your answers gave us apprehension that you are not inclined to marry
Lady L. You are very unceremonious, Charlotte
Indeed, Lucy, she made me tremble. Sure he can have no notion that I have seen the whole letter-seen myself named in it.
Miss Gr. What signifies ceremony among relations?
Sir Ch. Let Charlotte have her way. Miss Gr. Why then, sir, I would ask-Don't you intend one day to marry?
Sir Ch. I do, Charlotte. I shall not think myself happy till I can obtain the hand of a worthy woman.
I was, I am afraid, Lucy, visibly affected: I knew not how to stay; yet it would have looked worse to go.
Miss Gr. Very well, sir-And pray, have you not, either abroad or at home, seen the woman you could wish to call yours?-Don't think me impertinent, brother.
Sir Ch. You cannot be impertinent, Charlotte. If you want to know anything of me, it pleases me best, when you come directly to the point.
Miss Gr. Well, then, if I cannot be impertinent; if you are best pleased when you are most freely treated; and if you are inclined to marry; pray why did you decline the proposals mentioned by Lord W- in behalf of Lady Frances N, of Lady Anne S, and I cannot tell how many more?
Sir Ch. The friends of the first-named lady proceeded not generously with my father, in that affair. The whole family build too much on the interest and quality of her father. I wanted not to depend upon any public man: I chose, as much as possible, to fix my happiness within my own little circle. I have strong passions: I am not without ambition. Had I loosened the reins to the latter, young man as I am, my tranquillity would have been pinned to the feather in another man's cap. Does this satisfy you, Charlotte, as to Lady Frances?
Miss Gr. Why, yes; and the easier, because there is a lady whom I could have preferred to Lady Frances.
I should not, thought I, have been present at this conversation. Lord L looked at me. Lord L should not have looked at me: the ladies did not.
Sir Ch. Who is she?
Miss Gr. Lady Anne S you know, sir -Pray, may I ask, why that could not be?
Sir Ch. Lady Anne is, I believe, a deserving woman-but her fortune must have been my principal inducement, had I made my addresses to her. I never yet went so low as that alone, for an inducement to see a lady three times.
Miss Gr. Then, sir, you have made your addresses to ladies-Abroad, I suppose?
Sir Ch. I thought, Charlotte, your curiosity extended only to the ladies in England.
Miss Gr. Yes, sir, it extends to ladies in England and out of England, if any there be that have kept my brother a single man, when such offers have been made him as we think would have been unexceptionable. But you hint, then, sir, that there are ladies abroad
Sir Ch. I have, Charlotte, and at home too. Miss Gr. I don't know what to say to you But pray, sir, have you not seen ladies abroad whom you have liked better than any you ever saw at home?
Sir Ch. No. But tell me, Charlotte, to what does all this tend?
Miss Gr. Only, brother, that we long to have you happily married; and we are afraid, that your declining this proposal and that, is owing to some previous attachment-And now all is
Lord L. And now, my dear brother, all is
Lady L. If our brother will gratify our curiosity
Had I ever before, Lucy, so great a call upon me, as now, for presence of mind?
Sir Charles sighed; he paused; and at last said-You are very generous, very kind, in your wishes to see me married. I have seen the lady with whom, of all the women in the world, I think I could be happy.
A fine blush overspread his face, and he looked down. Why, Sir Charles, did you blush? Why did you look down? The happy, thrice happy woman, was not present, was she?-Ah, no! no! no!
Sir Ch. And now, Charlotte, what other questions have you to ask, before it comes to your turn to answer some that I have to put to you? Miss Gr. Only one-Is the lady a foreign lady?
How everybody but I looked at him, expect ing his answer!-He really hesitated. At last I think, Charlotte, you will excuse me, if I say, that this question gives me some pain-Because it leads to another, that, if made, I cannot, at present, myself answer: [But why so, sir? thought I and if not made, it cannot be of any signification to speak to this.
Lord L. We would not give you pain, Sir Charles; and yet
Sir Ch. What yet, my dear Lord L-? Lord L. When I was at Florence, there was much talk
Sir Ch. Of a lady of that city-Olivia, my lord?-There was. She has fine qualities, but unhappily blended with others less approvable. But I have nothing to wish for from Olivia.
She has done me too much honour. I should not so readily have named her now, had she herself been more solicitous to conceal the distinction she honoured me with. But your lordship, I dare hope, never heard even ill will open its mouth to her disreputation, only that she descended too much in her regard for one object.
Lord L. Your character, Sir Charles, was as much to the reputation of her favour, as
Sir Ch. Interrupting.] 0, my lord, how brotherly partial! But, this lady out of the question, my peace has been broken in pieces by a tender fault in my constitution-And yet I would not be without it.
The sweet Emily arose, and, in tears, went to the window. A sob, endeavoured to be suppressed, called our attention to her.
Sir Charles went, and took her hand; Why weeps my Emily?
Because you, who so well deserve to be happy, seem not to be so.
Tender examples, Lucy, are catching: I had much ado to restrain my tears.
He kindly consoled her. My unhappiness, my dear, said he, arises chiefly from that of other people. I should, but for that, be happy in myself, because I endeavour to accommodate my mind to bear inevitable evils, and to make, if possible, a'virtue of necessity. But, Charlotte, see how grave you have made us all; and yet I must enter with you upon a subject that possibly may be thought as serious by you, as that which, at present, I wish to quit.
"Wish to quit! The question gave him some pain, because it led to another, which he cannot himself, at present, answer!" What, Lucy, let me ask you, before I follow him to his next subject, can you gather from what passed in that already recited? If he is himself at an uncertainty, he may deserve to be pitied, and not blamed; but don't you think he might have answered, whether the lady is a foreigner, or not? How could he know what the next question would have been?
I had the assurance to ask Miss Grandison afterwards, aside, whether anything could be made out, or guessed at, by his eyes, when he spoke of having seen the woman he could prefer to all others? For he sat next me; she over against him.
I know not what to make of him, said she; but, be the lady native or foreigner, it is my humble opinion, that my brother is in love. He has all the symptoms of it, that I can guess by.
I am of Charlotte's opinion, Lucy. Such tender sentiments; such sweetness of manners; such gentleness of voice!-Love has certainly done all this for him; and the lady, to be sure, is a foreigner. It would be strange if such a man should not have engaged his heart in the seven or eight years past; and those from eigh
teen to twenty-six or seven, the most susceptible of a man's life.
But what means he by saying, "His peace has been broken in pieces by a tender fault in his constitution?"-Compassion, I suppose, for some unhappy object.-I will soon return to town, and there prepare to throw myself into the arms of my dearest relations in Northamptonshire. I shall otherwise, perhaps, add to the number of those who have broken his peace. But it is strange, methinks, that he could not have answered, whether the lady is a foreigner
Dr Bartlett, you are mistaken. Sir Charles Grandison is not so very un-reserved a man as you said he was:
But oh! my dear little flattering Emily, how could you tell me that you watched his eyes, and saw them always kindly bent on me!Yes, perhaps, when you thought so, he was drawing comparisons to the advantage of his fair foreigner, from my less agreeable features !
But this Olivia! Lucy. I want to know something more of her: " Nothing," he says, "to wish for from Olivia."-Poor lady! methinks I am very much inclined to pity her.
Well, but I will proceed now to his next subject. I wish I could find some faults in him. It is a cruel thing to be under a kind of necessity to be angry with a man whom we cannot blame; and yet, in the next conversation, you will see him angry. Don't you long, Lucy, to see how Sir Charles Grandison will behave when he is angry?
Sir Ch. I have only one piece of advice to give you :-It is, that you will either encourage or discourage his address-if you know your own mind.
Miss Gr. I believe, brother, you want to get rid of me.
Sir Ch. Then you intend to encourage Lord G- -?
Miss Gr. Does that follow, sir?
Sir Ch. Or you could not have supposed, that I wanted to part with you. But, come, Charlotte, let us retire. It is very difficult to get a direct answer to such questions as these, from ladies, before company, though the company be ever so nearly related to them.
Miss Gr. I can answer, before this company, any questions that relate to Lord G.
Sir Ch. Then you don't intend to encourage him?
Miss Gr. I don't see how that follows, neither, from what I said.
Sir Ch. It does, very clearly. I am not an absolute stranger to the language of women,
Miss Gr. I thought my brother too polite to reflect upon the sex.
Sir Ch. Is it to reflect upon the sex, to say, that I am not an absolute stranger to their language?
Miss Gr. I protest, I think so, in the way you spoke it.
Sir Ch. Well, then, try if you cannot find a language to speak in, that may not be capable of such an interpretation.
Miss Gr. I am afraid you are displeased with me, brother. I will answer more directly.
Sir Ch. Do, my Charlotte. I have promised Lord Gto procure him an answer.
Miss Gr. Is the question he puts, sir, a brief one-On or off?
Sir Ch. Trust me, Charlotte: You may, even with your punctilio.
Miss Gr. Will you not advise me, sir? Sir Ch. I will-To pursue your inclination. Miss Gr. Suppose, if I knew yours, that that would turn the scale?
Sir Ch. Is the balance even?
Miss Gr. I can't say that, neither. Sir Ch. Then dismiss my Lord G———. Miss Gr. Indeed, brother, you are angry with me.
Sir Ch. Addressing himself to me. I am sure, Miss Byron, that I shall find, in such points as this, a very different sister in you, when I come to be favoured with the perusal of your letters. Your cousin Reeves once said, that when you knew your own mind, you never kept any one in suspense.
Miss Gr. But I, brother, can't say that I know my mind absolutely.
Sir Ch. That is another thing. I am silent. Only, when you do, I shall take it for a favour, if you will communicate it to me, for your service.
Miss Gr. I am among my best friends-Lord L-, what is your advice? Sir Charles does not incline to give me his.
Sir Ch. It is owing to my regard to your own inclinations, and not to displeasure or petulance, that I do not.
Lord L. I have a very good opinion of Lord G. What is yours, my dear? [to Lady L]
Lady L. I really think very well of my Lord G. What is yours, Miss Byron ?
Har. I believe Miss Grandison must be the sole determiner, on this occasion. If she has no objection, I presume to think, that no one else can have any.
Miss Gr. Explain, explain, HarrietSir Ch. Miss Byron answers as she always does. Penetration and prudence, with her, never quit company. If I have the honour to explain her sentiments in giving mine, take both as follow. My Lord G is a good-natured, mild man: He will make a woman happy, who has some share of prudence, though she has a still greater share of will. Charlotte is very lively: She loves her jest almost as well as she loves her friend
Miss Gr. How, brother!
Sir Ch. And Lord G―― will not stand in competition with her, in that respect. There should not be a rivalry in particular qualities, in marriage. I have known a poet commence a hatred to his wife, on her being complimented with making better verses than he. Let Charlotte agree upon those qualities in which she will allow her husband to excel; and he allow, in her, those she has a desire to monopolize; and all may do well.
Miss Gr. Then Lord G must not be disputed with, I presume, were I to be his wife, on the subject of moths and butterflies.
Sir Ch. Yet Lord G may give them up, when he has a more considerable trifle to amuse himself with. Pardon me, Charlotte-Are you not, as far as we have gone in this conversation, a pretty trifler ?
Miss Gr. Bowing.] Thank you, brother. The epithets pretty, and young, and little, are great qualifiers of harsh words.
Sir Ch. But do you like Sir Walter Watkyns better than Lord G?
Miss Gr. I think not. He is not, I believe, so good-natured a man as the other.
Sir Ch. I am glad you make that distinction, Charlotte.
Miss Gr. You think it a necessary one in my case, I suppose, sir?
Sir Ch. I have a letter of his to answer. He is very urgent with me for my interest with you. I am to answer it. Will you tell me, my sister, (giving her the letter,) what I shall say?
Miss Gr. After perusing it. Why, ay, poor man! he is very much in love; but I should have some trouble to teach him to spell; and
yet, they say, he has both French and Italian at his fingers' ends.
She then began to pull in pieces the letter. Sir Ch. I will not permit that, Charlotte. Pray return me the letter. No woman is entitled to ridicule a lover, whom she does not intend to encourage. If she has a good opinion of herself, she will pity him. Whether she has or not, if she wounds, she should heal. Sir Walter may address himself to a hundred women, who, for the sake of his gay appearance and good estate, will forgive him his indifferent spelling.
Miss Gr. The flattering season is approaching. One wants now and then a dangling fellow or two after one in public: perhaps I have not seen enough of either of these to determine which to choose. Will you not allow one, since neither of them have very striking merits, to behold them in different lights, in order to enable one's self to judge which is the most tolerable of the two? Or, whether a still more tolerable wretch may not offer?
She spoke this in her very archest manner, serious as the subject was; and seriously as her brother wished to know her inclinations.
Sir Charles turned to Lord L-, and gravely said, I wonder how our cousin Everard is amusing himself at this instant, at the Hall.
She was sensible of the intended rebuke, and asked him to forgive her.
Wit, my lord, continued he, inattentive to the pardon she asked, is a dangerous weapon: but that species of it which cannot shine without a foil, is not a wit to be proud of. The lady before me, (what is her name?) and I, have been both under a mistake: I took her for my sister Charlotte: she took me for our cousin Everard.
Every one felt the severity. It seemed to pierce me, as if directed to me. So unusually severe from Sir Charles Grandison; and delivered with such serious unconcern in the manner: I would not, at that moment, have been Miss Grandison for the world.
She did not know which way to look. Lady L-(amiable woman!) felt it for her sister: tears were in the eyes of both.
At last Miss Grandison arose. I will take away the impostor, sir; and when I can rectify my mistake, and bring you back your sister, I hope you will receive her with your usual good
My Charlotte! my sister! (taking her hand,) you must not be very angry with me. I love to feel the finer edge of your wit: but when I was bespeaking your attention upon a very serious subject; a subject that concerned the happiness of your future life, and, if yours, mine; and you could be able to say something that became only the mouth of an unprincipled woman to say; how could I forbear to wish that some other woman, and not my sister, had said it? Times and occasions, my dear Charlotte!
No more, I beseech you, sir; I am sensible of my folly. Let me retire.
I, Charlotte, will retire; don't you; but take the comfort your friends are disposed to give you. Emily, one word with you, my dear. She flew to him, and they went out together.
There, said Miss Grandison, has he taken the girl with him, to warn her against falling into my folly.
Dr Bartlett retired in silence.
Lady L expressed her concern for her sister; but said, Indeed, Charlotte, I was afraid you would carry the matter too far.
Lord L- blamed her. Indeed, sister, he bore with you a great while; and the affair was a serious one. He had engaged very seriously, and even from principle, in it. O Miss Byron! he will be delighted with you, when he comes to read your papers, and sees your treatment of the humble servants you resolved not to encourage.
Yes, yes, Harriet will shine at my expense; but may she!-Since I have lost my brother's favour, I pray to Heaven, that she may gain it. But he shall never again have reason to say I take him for my cousin Everard. But was I very wicked, Harriet?-Deal fairly with me: Was I very wicked?
I thought you wrong all the way: I was afraid for you. But for what you last said, about encouraging men to dangle after you, and seeming to aim at making new conquests, I could have chidden you, had you not had your brother to hear it. Will you forgive me? [whispering her. They were the words of a very coquette; and the air was so arch!—Indeed, my Charlotte, you were very much out of the way. So!-Everybody against me!-I must have been wrong indeed
The time, the occasion, was wrong, sister Charlotte, said Lord L. Had the subject been of less weight, your brother would have passed it off as pleasantly as he has always before done your vivacities.
Very happy, replied she, to have such a character, that everybody must be in fault who differs from him or offends him.
In the midst of his displeasure, Charlotte, said Lady L, he forgot not the brother. The subject, he told you, concerned the happiness of your future life; and, if yours, his.
One remark, resumed Lord L—, I must make to Sir Charles's honour: (take it not amiss, sister Charlotte:) not the least hint did he give of your error relating to a certain affair; and yet he must think of it, so lately as he has extricated you from it. His aim, evidently, is, to amend, not to wound.
I think, my lord, retorted Miss Grandison, with a glow in her cheeks, you might have spared your remark. If the one brother did not recriminate, the other needed not to remind. My lord, you have not my thanks for your remark.
Well, well, let me take hold of your hand, my dear, to help me out of this new difficulty. I am dreadfully out of luck to-day: I am sorry I spoke not my pleasantry with a pleasant airYet were not you likewise guilty of the same fault, Lady L? Did not you correct me with too grave an air?
I am very willing, returned Lady L——, it should pass so: but, my dear, you must not, by your petulance, rob yourself of the sincerity of one of the best hearts in the world'; looking with complacency at her lord.
He bowed to her with an affectionate air.Happy couple!
As I hope to live, said Miss Grandison, I thought you all pitied me, when Sir Charles laid so heavy a hand upon me: and so he seemed to think, by what he said, at going out. How did you deceive me, all of you, by your eyes!
I do assure you, said my lord, I did pity you : but had I not thought my sister in fault, I should not.
Your servant, my lord. You are a nice distinguisher.
And a just one, Charlotte, rejoined Lady
No doubt of it, Lady L: and that was your motive too. I beseech you, let me not be deprived of your pity. I have yours also, Harriet, upon the same kind consideration.
Why now this archness becomes you, Charlotte, said I: [I was willing it should pass so, Lucy: this is pretty pleasantry.
It is a pretty specimen of Charlotte's penitence, said Lady L
I was glad Lady L-spoke this with an air of good humour ; but Miss Grandison withdrew upon it, not well pleased.
We heard her at her harpsichord, and we all joined her. Emily also was drawn to us by the music. Tell me, my dear, said Miss Grandison to her, [stopping, have you not had all my faults laid before you, for your caution?
Indeed, madam, my guardian said but one word about you; and this was it: I love my sister: she has amiable qualities: we are none of us right at all times. You see, Emily, that I, in chiding her, spoke with a little too much petulance.
God for ever bless my brother! said Miss