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O Lucy, I have such a conversation to relate to you!-But let me lead to it.
Sir Charles met me at the opening of the door. He was all himself-Such an unaffected modesty and politeness; yet such an ease and frees dom!
I thought, by his address, that he would have taken my hand; and both hands were so emulatively passive. How does he manage it to be so free in a first address, yet so respectful, that a princess could not blame him!
After breakfast, my cousins being sent for out to attend Sir John Allestree and his niece, Sir Charles and I were left alone; and then, with an air equally solemn and free, he addressed himself to me.
The last time I had the honour of being alone with my good Miss Byron, I told her a very tender tale. I was sure it would raise in such a heart as hers generous compassion for the noblest lady on the continent; and I presumed, as my difficulties were not owing either to rashness or indiscretion, that she would also pity the relater.
The story did indeed affect you; yet, for my own sake, as well as yours, I referred you to Dr Bartlett, for the particulars of some parts of it, upon which I could not expatiate.
The Doctor, madam, has let me know the particulars which he communicated to you. I remember with pain the pain I gave to your generous heart in Lord L- -'s study. I am sure you must have suffered still more from the same compassionate goodness, on the communications he made you. May I, madam, however, add a few particulars to the same subject, which he then could not give you? Now you have been let into so considerable a part of my story, I am desirous to acquaint you, and that rather than any woman in the world, with all that I know myself of this arduous affair.
He ceased speaking. I was in tremors. Sir, sir-The story, I must own, is a most affecting one. How much is the unhappy lady to be pitied! You will do me honour in acquainting me with farther particulars of it.
mother declining in their healths. Signor Jeronymo worse than when Sir Charles left them. His sister also declining in her health, yet earnest still to see him.
"He says that she is at present at Urbino, but is soon to go to Naples to the General's. He urges him to make them one visit more, yet owns, that his family are not unanimous in the request, but that he and Father Marescotti, and the Marchioness, are extremely earnest that this indulgence should be granted to the wishes of his sister.
"He offers to meet him, at his own appointment, and conduct him to Bologna, where, he tells him, his presence will rejoice every heart, and procure an unanimous consent to the interview so much desired; and says, that if this measure, which he is sorry he has so long withstood, answers not his hopes, he will advise the shutting up of their Clementina in a nunnery, or to consign her to private hands, where she shall be treated kindly, but as persons in her unhappy circumstances are accustomed to be treated."
Sir Charles then shewed me a letter from Signor Jeronymo, in which he acquaints him with the dangerous way he is in. He tells him, "That his life is a burden to him. He wishes it was brought to its period. He does not think himself in skilful hands. He complains most of the wound which is in his hip-joint, and which has hitherto baffled the art both of the Italian and French surgeons who have been consulted. He wishes that himself and Sir Charles had been of one country, he says, since the greatest felicity he now has to wish for, is, to yield up his life to the Giyer of it, in the arms of his Grandison."
He mentions not one word in this melancholy letter of his unhappy sister, which Sir Charles accounted for by supposing, that she not being at Bologna, they kept from him, in his deplorable way, everything relating to her, that was likely to disturb him.
He then read part of a letter written in English by the admired Mrs Beaumont; some of the contents of which were, as you shall hear, extremely affecting.
"Mrs Beaumont gives him in it an account of the situation of the unhappy young lady, and excuses herself for not having done it before, in answer to his request, because of an indisposition under which she had for some time laboured, which had hindered her from making the necessary inquiries.
Dr Bartlett has told you, madam, that the Bishop of Nocera, second brother to Lady Clementina, has very lately written to me, request-benefit ing that I will make one more visit to Bologna. I have the letter. You read Italian, madam. Shall 1-or will you-He held it to me.
I took it. These, Lucy, are the contents:"The Bishop acquaints him with the very melancholy way they are in. The father and
"She mentions, that the lady had received no from her journeyings from place to place, and from her voyage from Leghorn to Naples, and back again; and blames her attendants, who, to quiet her, unknown to their principals, for some time, kept her in expectation of seeing her chevalier at the end of each; for her more prudent Camilla, she says, had been hindered
by illness from attending her, in several of the
"They had a second time, at her own request, put her into a nunnery. She at first was so sedate in it, as gave them hopes; but the novelty going off, and one of the sisters, to try her, having officiously asked her to go with her into the parlour, where, she said, she would be allowed to converse through the grate with a certain English gentleman, her impatience, on her disappointment, made her more ungovernable than they had ever known her; for she had been, for two hours before, meditating what she should say to him.
"For a week together, she was vehemently intent upon being allowed to visit England, and had engaged her cousins, Sebastiano and Juliano, to promise to escort her thither, if she could obtain leave.
"Her mother brought her off this when nobody else could, only by entreating her, for her sake, never to think of it more.
"The Marchioness then, encouraged by this instance of her obedience, took her under her own care; but the young lady going on from flight to flight, and the way she was in visibly affecting the health of her indulgent mother, a doctor was found, who was absolutely of opinion that nothing but harsh methods would avail, and in this advice Lady Sforza, and her daughter Laurana, and the General, concurring, she was told, that she must prepare to go to Milan. She was so earnest to be excused from going thither, and to be permitted to go to Florence to Mrs Beaumont, that they gave way to her entreaties; and the Marquis himself, accompanying her to Florence, prevailed on Mrs Beaumont to take her under her care.
"With her she staid three weeks; she was tolerably sedate in that space of time, but most so, when she was talking of England, and of the Chevalier Grandison and his sisters, with whom she wished to be acquainted. She delighted to speak English, and to talk of the tenderness and goodness of her tutor, and of what he said to her upon such and such a subject.
"At the three weeks' end, the General made her a visit, in company of Lady Sforza, and her talk being all on this subject, they were both highly displeased, and hinted, that she was too much indulged in it; and, unhappily, she repeating some tender passages that passed in the interview her mother had permitted her to hold with the chevalier, the General would have it, that Mr Grandison had designedly, from the first, sought to give himself consequence with her, and expressed himself, on the occasion, with great violence against him.
"He carried his displeasure to extremity, and obliged her to go away with his aunt and him that very day, to her great regret, aud as much to the regret of Mrs Beaumont, and of the ladies her friends, who tenderly loved the innocent vi◄
sionary, as sometimes they called her. And Mrs
Mrs Beaumont then gives an account of the
read the letters of the Bishop and Signor Je-
He pointed to the place, and withdrew to the window.
Mrs Beaumont says, "That the poor mowholly to the management of Lady Sforza, and ther was prevailed upon to resign her child her daughter Laurana, who took her with them to their palace in Milan.
"The tender parent, however, besought them promised; but Laurana objected to Camilla's atto spare all unnecessary severity, which they tendance. She was thought too indulgent, and her servant Laura, as a more manageable person, was taken in her place." And O how cruelly, as you shall hear, did they treat her!
dying relation at Milan, was desired, by the Father Marescotti, being obliged to visit a beloved daughter was in, and of the methods Marchioness, to inform himself of the way her taken with her, Lady Laurana having, in her quainted Mrs Beaumont with the following parletters, boasted of both. The good father acticulars:
of his seeing the lady; but, insisting on it, he "He was surprised to find a difficulty made afraid to speak, afraid to look, before her cousin found her to be wholly spiritless, and in terror, Laurana, yet seeming to want to complain to father! said she, we are in the right way, I him. He took notice of this to Laurana-O valier, and an interview with him, were ever assure you; when we had her first, her chein her mouth; but now she is in such order, that she never speaks a word of him.-But what, suffered, to be brought to this?—Don't asked the compassionate father, must she have ther, trouble yourself about that, replied the you, facruel Laurana; the doctors have given their opinion that some severity was necessary. It is all for her good.
"The poor lady expressed herself to him with earnestness, after the veil, a subject on which, it seems, they indulged her, urging, that the only way to secure her health of mind, if it could be restored, was to yield to her wishes. Lady Sforza said, that it was not a point that she herself
would press; but it was her opinion, that her family sinned in opposing a divine dedication, and perhaps their daughter's malady might be a judgment upon them for it."
The father, in his letter to Mrs Beaumont, ascribes to "Lady Sforza self-interested motives for her conduct; to Laurana, envy, on account of Lady Clementina's superior qualities; but nobody, he says, till now, doubted Laurana's love of her."
Father Marescotti then gives a shocking instance of the barbarous Laurana's treatment of the noble sufferer-All for her good-Wretch ! how my heart rises against her! Her servant Laura, under pretence of confessing to her Bologna father, in tears, acquainted him with it. It was perpetrated but the day before.
"When any severity was to be exercised upon the unhappy lady, Laura was always shut out of her apartment. Her lady had said some thing that she was to be chidden for. Lady Sforza, who was not altogether so severe as her daughter, was not at home. Laura listened in tears; she heard Laurana in great wrath with Lady Clementina, and threaten her, and her young lady break out to this effect-What have I done to you, Laurana, to be so used?—You are not the cousin Laurana you used to be! You know I am not able to help myself; why do you call me crazy, and frantic, Laurana? [Vile upbraider, Lucy! If the Almighty has laid his hand upon me, should I not be pitied?
"It is all for your good! It is all for your good, Clementina! You could not always have spoken so sensibly, cousin.
"Cruel Laurana ! You loved me once!-I have no mother, as you have. My mother was a good mother; but she is gone! Or I am gone, I know not which.
"She threatened her then with the strait waistcoat, a punishment at which the unhappy lady was always greatly terrified. Laura heard her beg and pray; but Laurana coming out, she was forced to retire.
"The poor young lady apprehending her cruel cousin's return with the threatened waistcoat, and with the woman that used to be brought in when they were disposed to terrify her, went down and hid herself under a stair-case, where she was soon discovered by her clothes, which she had not been careful to draw in after her." O Lucy! how I wept ! How insupportable to me, said Sir Charles, would have been my reflections, had my conscience told me, that I had been the wilful cause of the noble Clementina's calamity!
After I had a little recovered, I read to myself the next paragraph, which related, "That the cruel Laurana dragged the sweet sufferer by her gown from her hiding-place, inveighing against her, threatening her; she, all patient, resigned, her hands crossed on her bosom, pray
ing for mercy, not by speech, but by her eyes, which, however, wept not, and causing her to be carried up to her chamber, there punished her with the strait waistcoat, as she had threatened.
"Father Marescotti was greatly affected with Laura's relation, as well as with what he had himself observed; but on his return to Bolog na, dreading to acquaint her mother, for her own sake, with the treatment her Clementina met with, he only said, he did not quite approve of it, and advised her not to oppose the young lady's being brought home, if the Bishop and the General came into it; but he laid the whole matter before the Bishop, who wrote to the General to join with him out of hand, to release their sister from her present bondage; and the General meeting the Bishop on a set day at Milan, for that purpose, the lady was accordingly released.
"A breach ensued upon it, with Lady Sforza and her daughter, who would have it, Clementina was much better for their management. They had by terror broken her spirit, and her passiveness was reckoned upon as an indication of amendment.
"The Marchioness being much indisposed, the young lady, attended by her Camilla, was carried to Naples, where it is supposed she now is. Poor young lady, how has she been hurried about!-But who can think of her cousin Laurana without extreme indignation?
"Mrs Beaumont writes, that the Bishop would fain have prevailed upon his brother the General to join with him in an invitation to Sir Charles Grandison to come over, as a last expedient, before they locked her up either in a nunnery, or in some private house; but the General would by no means come into it.
"He asked, What was proposed to be the end of Sir Charles's visit, were all that was wished from it to follow, in his sister's restored mind? -He never, he said, would give his consent that she should be the wife of an English Protestant.
"The Bishop declared, that he was far from wishing her to be so: but he was for leaving that to after-consideration. Could they but restore his sister to her reason, that reason, cooperating with her principles, might answer all their hopes.
"He might try his expedient, the General said, with all his heart: but he looked upon the Chevalier Grandison to be a man of art; and he was sure he must have entangled his sister by methods imperceptible to her, and to them; but yet more efficacious to his ends, than an open declaration. Had he not, he asked, found means to fascinate Olivia, and as many women as he came into company with ?-For his part, he loved not the chevalier. He had forced him, by his intrepidity, to be civil to him: but forced
civility was but a temporary one. It was his way to judge of causes by the effects: and this he knew, that he had lost a sister, who would have been a jewel in the crown of a prince; and would not be answerable for consequences, if he and Sir Charles Grandison were once more to meet, be it where it would.
"Father Marescotti, however, joining, as the Bishop writes, with him, and the Marchioness, in a desire to try this expedient; and being sure that the Marquis and Signor Jeronymo would not be averse to it, he took a resolution to write over to him, as has been related."
This, Lucy, is the state of the unhappy case, as briefly and as clearly as my memory will serve to give it. And what a rememberer, if I may make a word, is the heart!-Not a circumstance escapes it.
And now it remained for me to know of Sir Charles, what answer he had returned.
Was not my situation critical, my dear? Had Sir Charles asked my opinion, before he had taken his resolutions, I should have given it with my whole heart, that he should fly to the comfort of the poor lady. But then he would have shewn a suspense unworthy of Clementina; and a compliment to me; which a good man, so circumstanced, ought not to make.
My regard for him (yet what a poor affected word is regard!) was, nevertheless, as strong as ever. Generosity, or rather justice, to Clementina, and that so often, to you, avowed regard to him, pulled my heart two ways. I thought I wanted to consider with myself for a few moments, being desirous to clear to my own heart the conduct that I was to shew on this trying occasion, as well of precipitation as of affectation; and my cousin Reeves just then coming in for something she wanted, I took the opportunity to walk to the other end of the room; and while a short complimental discourse passed between them," Harriet Byron," said I to myself, "be not mean. Hast thou not the example of a Clementina before thee? Her religion and her love, combating together, have overturned the noble creature's reason. Thou canst not be called to such a trial: but canst thou not shew, that if thou wert, thou couldst have acted greatly, if not so greatly ?-Sir Charles Grandison is just: he ought to prefer to thee the excellent Clementina. Priority of claim, compassion for the noble sufferer, merits so superior!-I love him for his merits: shall I not love merits, nearly as great, in one of my own sex? The struggle will cost thee something: but try to be above thyself. Banished to thy retirement, to thy pillow, thought I, be all the girl. Often have I contended for the dignity of my sex; let me now be an example to myself, and not unworthy in my own eyes (when I come to reflect) of an union, could it have been effected, with a man whom a Clementina looked up to with hope."
My cousin being withdrawn, and Sir Charles approaching me, I attempted to assume a dignity of aspect, without pride; and I spoke, while spirit was high in me, and to keep myself up to it-My heart bleeds, sir, for the distresses of your Clementina: [yes, Lucy, said I, your Clementina: beyond expression I admire the greatness of her behaviour; and most sincerely lament her distresses. What, that is in the power of man, cannot Sir Charles Grandison do? You have honoured me, sir, with the title of sister in the tenderness of that relation, permit me to say, that I dread the effects of the General's petulance: I feel next for you the pain that it must give to your humane heart to be once more personally present to the woes of the inimitable Clementina: but I am sure you did not hesitate a moment about leaving all your friends here in England, and resolving to hasten over to try, at least, what can be done for the noble sufferer.
Had he praised me highly for this my address to him, it would have looked, such was the situation on both sides, as if he had thought this disinterested behaviour in me, an extraordinary piece of magnanimity and self-denial; and, of consequence, as if he had supposed I had views upon him, which he wondered I could give up. His is the most delicate of human minds!
He led me to my seat, and taking his by me, still holding my passive hand-Ever since I have had the honour of Miss Byron's acquaintance, I have considered her as one of the most excellent of women. My heart demands alliance with hers, and hopes to be allowed its claim; though such are the delicacies of situation, that I scarcely dare trust myself to speak upon the subject. From the first, I called Miss Byron my sister; but she is more to me than the dearest sister; and there is a more tender friendship that I aspire to hold with her, whatever may be the accidents on either side, to bar a farther wish: and this I must hope, that she will not deny me, so long as it shall be consistent with her other attachments.
He paused. I made an effort to speak: but speech was denied me. My face, as I felt, glowed like the fire before me.
My heart, resumed he, is ever on my lips. It is tortured when I cannot speak all that is in it. Professions I am not accustomed to make. As I am not conscious of being unworthy of your friendship, I will suppose it; and farther talk to you of my affairs and engagements, as that tender friendship may warrant.
Sir, you do me honour, was all I could say. I had a letter from the faithful Camilla. I hold not a correspondence with her but the treatment that her young lady met with, of which she had got some general intimations, and some words that the Bishop said to her, which expressed his wishes that I would make
them one more visit at Bologna, urged her to write, begging of me, for Heaven's sake, to go over. But unless one of the family had written to me, and by consent of others of it, what hope had I of a welcome, after I had been as often refused, as I had requested, while I was in Italy, to be admitted to the presence of the lady, who was so desirous of one interview more?-Especially, as Mrs Beaumont gave me no encouragement to go, but the contrary, from what she observed of the inclinations of the family.
Mrs Beaumont is still of opinion, as in the conclusion of the letter before you, that I should not go, unless the General and the Marquis join their requests to those of the Marchioness, the Bishop, and Father Marescotti. But I had no sooner perused the Bishop's letter, than I wrote, that I would most cheerfully comply with his wishes: but that I should be glad that I might not be under any obligation to go farther than Bologna; where I might have the happiness to attend my Jeronymo, as well as his sister.
I had a little twitch at my heart, Lucy. I was sorry for it: but my judgment was entirely with him.
And now, madam, you will wonder, that you see not any preparations for my departure. All is prepared: I only wait for the company of one gentleman, who is settling his affairs with all expedition to go with me. He is an able, a skilful surgeon, who has had great practice abroad, and in the armies: and, having acquired an easy fortune, is come to settle in his native country. My Jeronymo expresses himself dissatisfied with his surgeons. If Mr LOWTHER can be of service to him, how happy shall I think myself! And if my presence can be a means to restore the noble Clementina-But how dare I hope it ?-And yet I am persuaded, that in her case, and with such a temper of mind, (unused to hardship and opposition as she had been,) the only way to recover her, would have been by complying with her in everything that her heart or head was earnestly set upon: for what control was necessary to a young lady, who never, even in the height of her malady, uttered a wish or thought that was contrary to her duty either to God, or her parents; nor yet to the honour of her name; and, allow me, madam, to say, to the pride of her sex?
I am under an obligation to go to Paris, proceeded he, from the will of my late friend, Mr Danby. I shall stop there for a day or two only, in order to put things in a way for my last hand, on my return from Italy.
When I am in Italy, I shall, perhaps, be enabled to adjust two or three accounts that stand out, in relation to the affairs of my ward.
This day, at dinner, I shall see Mrs Oldham and her sons; and in the afternoon, at tea, Mrs O'Hara, and her husband, and Captain Sal
To-morrow, I hope for the honour of your
company, madam, and Mr and Mrs Reeves's, at dinner; and be so good as to engage them for the rest of the day. You must not deny me; because I shall want your influence upon Charlotte, to make her fix Lord G's happy day, that I may be able to see their hands united before I set out; as my return will be uncertain
Ah, Lucy! more twitches just then!——— Thursday next is the day fixed for the triple marriage of the Danbys. I have promised to give Miss Danby to Mr Galliard, and to dine with them and their friends at Enfield.
If I can see my Lord W- and Charlotte happy before I go, I shall be highly gratified. It is another of my wishes, to see my friend Beauchamp in England first, and to leave him in possession of his father's love, and of his mother-in-law's civility. Dr Bartlett and he will be happy in each other. I shall correspond with the Doctor. He greatly admires you, madam, and will communicate to you all you shall think worthy of your notice, relating to the proceedings of a man who will always think himself honoured by your inquiries after him.
Ah, Lucy! Sir Charles Grandison then sighed. He seemed to look more than he spoke. I will not promise for my heart, if he treats me with more than the tenderness of friendship: if he gives me room to think that he wishes-But what can he wish? He ought to be, he must be, Clementina's: and I will endeavour to make myself happy, if I can maintain the second place in his friendship: and when he offers me this, shall I, Lucy, be so little as to be displeased with the man, who cannot be to me all that I had once hoped he could be?-No!-He shall be the same glorious creature in my eyes; I will admire his goodness of heart, and greatness of mind; and I will think him entitled to my utmost gratitude for the protection he gave me from a man of violence, and for the kindness he has already shewn me. Is not friendship the basis of my love? And does he not tender me that?
Nevertheless, at the time, do what I could, I found a tear ready to start. My heart was very untoward, Lucy; and I was guilty of a little female turn. When I found the twinkling of my eyes would not disperse the too ready drop, and felt it stealing down my cheek, I wiped it off-The poor Emily, said I-She will be grieved at parting with you. Emily loves her guardian.
And I love my ward. I once had a thought, madam, of begging your protection of Emily: but, as I have two sisters, I think she will be happy under their wings, and in the protection of my good Lord L; and the rather, as I have no doubt of overcoming her unhappy mother, by making her husband's interest a guarantee for her tolerable, if not good, behaviour to her child.