« EdellinenJatka »
Here is a very long letter, may it please you, sir. I have shortened it, however, as much as I could; but in hatred to myself, and the vile ways I have, by excess of good nature, and by meeting with wicked masters, been drawn into-For the clearing of my sister's character, who lives in credit among her neighbours, and of every other person who might otherwise have been suspected-In justice to Mrs Awberry's, and her two daughters', and her son's characters-And in justice so far to Sir Hargrave's, as that he intended marriage, (and had he not, he would have found no friends in his designs at Paddington;) and so far as to clear him of having not offered the least incivility to my lady-Had he intended, or been provoked so to do, he was too well watched by the widow, and her daughters, to have been permitted; and that by my own request, which was, that they should be ready to run in whenever they heard her cry out, and that they would not leave Sir Hargrave alone with my lady for six minutes, till their hands were joined in wedlock -In justice, I say, to all these persons, I thought proper thus to give you, sir, all that I knew relating to this wicked transaction. And if, may it please your honour, I were to be taken up, I could say no more before a magistrate; except this, which I had like to have forgot; which is, that had it not been for me, some mischief might have been done between Sir Hargrave's servants and yours, if not to your honour's person.
All that I most humbly beg, is, the pardon of so sweet a lady. I have chosen, ever-to-be-honoured sir, to write to you, whose goodness is so generally talked of, and who have so nobly redeemed and protected her. Mr Reeves, I know, has suffered too much in his mind to forgive
He is a worthy gentleman. I am sorry for the disturbance I have given him. I have hopes given me, that I shall get employment on the quays, or as a tide-waiter extraordinary. Please the Lord, I will never, never more, be the tool of wicked masters. All I wish for, is, to be able to do justice to the love of an honest young woman; and I am resolved, whether so enabled or not, to starve rather than to go any more, no, not for a single hour, into the service of the iniquitous gentlemen I have so often named in this long letter.
If I might be assured, that I may pursue, unmolested, any honest calling, so as that I may not be tempted or driven into unhappy courses, my heart would be at rest.
There might have been murder in this affair; that shocks me to think of. O sir! good, excellent, brave, and the most worthy of gentlemen, you have given to me as great a deliverance, as you have to the lady; yea, greater; for mine may be a deliverance, if I make a proper use of it, of soul as well as body. Which
God grant, as also your honour's health and prosperity, to the prayers of Your honour's ever-devoted humble servant,
I thought I had something else to say; something it is of high importance; your life is threatened, sir; God preserve your precious life. Amen!
MISS BYRON TO MISS SELBY.
Friday, February 24. My cousin Reeves has given assurance to the sister of that Wilson, that he may, unmolested by any of us, pursue the best means he can fall upon for the obtaining an honest livelihood.
In everything it is determined to follow the advice of my deliverer.
What a letter is that fellow's! What men are there in the world!
Of such we have read; but I hoped, that I might have escaped suffering by any such.
We are extremely disturbed at the fellow's postscript; and the more, as we are told by several people, that Sir Hargrave will not sit down quietly; but threatens vengeance upon Sir Charles. I wish I had not come to London. I hope my grandmamma's spirits are not affected by what she knows of the matter. It was very good of my aunt Selby to take the measures she did, in softening every circumstance, and not to let her know anything till the danger was over. But, indeed, it was but the natural effect of that prudence which regulates all the actions of my honoured aunt.
My grandmamma has such strength of mind, that now she knows I am safe, and not unhappy, I dare say she will by degrees bear to hear my narrations read. She will be more uneasy if she thinks anything is kept from her.
Yet I know that her tenderness and her love for her Harriet will cost her some anguish, some sighs, some tears, as she reads, or hears read, the cruelty her girl has been treated with; who, so tenderly brought up, so greatly indulged, never before knew what harshness was. But then she will have more joy, I hope, in my deliverance, than she will have pain in my sufferings. And pray, let her know, that I am every day less and less sensible of the pain in my stomach, of which I was so apprehensive, as really, at the time, to think it a mortal blow. My grandmamma has told us girls, you know, my Lucy, twenty and twenty frightful stories of the vile enterprizes of men against innocent creatures; and will therefore call to mind stories
which have concluded much worse than, blessed be God! mine has done.
JUST now I have received a congratulatory packet of letters :
One from my aunt Selby, such a sweetly kind, such a truly maternal letter !
One from my dearest grandmamma. I will put it next my heart, whenever I feel there any of that pain, of which she is so kindly apprehensive.
One from Nancy-Dear girl!-She is very generous to forget her own malady to condole and congratulate me. Your brother James, my Lucy, has written me a very kind letter. He is a good young man : God keep him so! What a mischievous creature is a bad man!
I have a charming letter, by the post, from my godfather Deane; he has heard nothing of what has happened; and I am sure is too solicitous for my welfare, to take it well, if I do not let him know something about it; I will therefore soon write to him.
But your letter, my Lucy!-What, I warrant, you thought I had forgot your letter in the enumeration of the contents of the precious packet! If I had, your goodness, your love, might have made you forgive me; but I never would have forgiven myself.
But you and I, my dear, write for all to see what we write; and so I reserved yours to be last mentioned. Only I slid in my godfather Deane's, between; not because I love him better than I do my Lucy-No, that is impossible! -But because I had a mind to shew you, that I was hastening to be quite well, and so assumed my little saucy tricks, and surprises, as if it were possible for me to be heedless, where my love to my Lucy was in the question.
And so you expect the particular character and description of the persons of this more than amiable brother and sister. Need you to have told me that you do? And could you think, that after having wasted so many quires of paper in giving you the characters of people, many of whom deserved not to be drawn out from the common crowd of mortals, I would forbear to give you those of persons who adorn the age in which they live, and even human nature?
You don't question, you say, if I begin in their praises, but my gratitude will make me write in a sublime style; so you phrase it; and are ready, you promise me, to take with allowance all the fine things from me, which Mr Reeves has already taught you to expect.
You may be right in your expectations, as far as I know; for my grandfather, (so many years ago,) used to say, that his little Byron was an enthusiast in her gratitude. But, how ever, when I say anything of the exalted minds, of the expanded hearts, of the amiable manners,
of this happy brother and sister, which seems to exceed, in my praises, the bounds you will all be willing to set me, then let the overflowings be carried to account of the grateful enthusiasm, and only to that.
Which shall I begin with? You will have a sharp look-out upon me, you say. Ah, my Lucy! I know what you mean. But I am safe from everything but my gratitude, I will assure you.
And so, if I begin with the character of the brother, then you will join with my uncle, shake your head, and cry, Ah! my Harriet! If I begin with the sister, will you not say, that I save my choicest subject for the last? How difficult is it to avoid censure, when there is a resolution taken to be censorious!
Well, but keep a look-out, if you please, my Lucy: Not the least shadow of reserve shall it give my heart: My pen shall be honest to that heart; and I shall be benefited, I am sure, by the faithful wounds of such affectionate, and equally beloved as revered friends-And so, pen, take thy course.
Miss Grandison-Yes, my volant, my selfconducted quill, begin with the sister, say my Lucy what she pleases
Miss Grandison is about twenty-four; of a fine stature; she has dignity in her aspect; and a very penetrating black eye, with which she does what she pleases. Her hair is black, very fine, and naturally curls. She is not fair; but her complexion is delicate and clear, and promises a long duration to her loveliness. Her features are generally regular: her nose is a little aquiline; but that is so far from being a blemish, that it gives a kind of majesty to her other features. Her teeth are white and even ; her mouth is perfectly lovely; and a modest archness appears in her smiles, that makes one both love and fear her, when she begins to speak. She is finely shaped; and, in her air and whole appearance, perfectly genteel.
She herself says, that before her brother came to England, she was thought to be proud, pert, and lofty; but I hardly believe her; for the man lives not, it is my belief, who in fourteen months' time (and Sir Charles has not been longer arrived) could so totally eradicate those qualities in a mind of which they had taken possession, as that they should not occasionally shew themselves.
She has charming spirits. I dare say she sings well, from the airs she now and then warbles in the gaiety of her heart, as she goes up and down stairs; she is very polite; yet has a vein of raillery, that, were she not polite, would give one too much apprehension for one's ease; but I am sure she is frank, easy, and good-humoured; and, by turning over all the just and handsome things which are attributed to herself, to her brother's credit, she must be equally humble and generous.
She says, she has but lately taken a very great liking to reading; but I am ready to question what she says, when she speaks anything that some would construe to her disadvantage. She pretends, that she was too volatile, too gay, too airy, to be confined to sedentary amusements. Her father, however, according to the genteelest and most laudable modern education for women, had given her a master, who taught her history and geography; in both which she acknowledges she made some progress. In music, she owns she has skill; but I am told by her maid, who attended me by her young lady's direction, and who delights to praise her mistress, that she reads and speaks French and Italian; that she writes finely; and is greatly admired for her wit, prudence, and obligingness. Nobody, said Jenny, (who is a sensible young woman, a clergyman's daughter, well educated, and very obliging,) can stand against her goodnatured raillery. Her brother, she says, is not spared; but he takes delight in her vivacity, and gives way to it; when it is easy to see, that he could take her down if he pleased. And then, added this good young woman, she is an excellent manager in a family, finely as she is educated; I rejoiced to hear that, for the honour of our reading ladies, as in Miss Clements' case:] she knows everything, and how to direct what should be done, from the private family dinner, to a sumptuous entertainment; and every day inspects, and approves, or alters, the bill of fare. By the way, my Lucy, she is an early riser Do you mind that! And so can do everything with ease, pleasure, and without hurry and confusion; for all her servants are early risers of course. What servants can for shame be in bed, at a reasonable hour to be up, when they have a master or mistress's example for early rising? Yet this fine lady loves to go to the public places, and often goes, and makes a brilliant figure. She has time for them, and earns her pleasures by her early rising.
Miss Grandison, Jenny tells me, has two humble servants: I wonder she has not two-andtwenty: one is Sir Walter Watkyns, a man of a large estate in Somersetshire; the other is Lord Gson of the Earl of G―, but neither of them highly approved by her; yet, Jenny says, they are both of them handsome men, and admired by the ladies. This makes me afraid, that they are modern men ;' and pay their court by exterior appearance, rather than by interior worth. Who, my Lucy, that has heard what my late grandfather has said, and my grandmamma still says, of the men in their youthful days, will not say, that we have our lots cast in an age of petits-maîtres, and insignificants?
Such an amiable woman is Miss Charlotte Grandison-May I be found, on farther acquaintance, but half as lovely in her eyes, as she is in mine!-Don't be jealous, Lucy! I hope I have a large heart. I hope there is room in it
for half-a-dozen sweet female friends!-Yes, although another love were to intervene. I could not bear, that even the affection due to the man of my choice, were I to marry, should, like Aaron's rod, swallow up all the rest.
But now for her brother-my deliverer!
But pray now, Lucy, don't you come with your sharp look-out: I warrant you will expect, on this occasion, to read the tumults of the poor girl's heart in her character and description of a man, to whom she is so much obliged !—But what if she disappoint you, and yet do justice to his manifold excellencies? What if she find some faults in him, that his sister has not?
Parading Harriet, methinks you say! Teazing girl! Go on, go on; leave it to us to find you out; and take care that the very faults you pretend to discover, do not pass for a colour only, and lead to your detection.
Thank you, Lucy, for your caution: but I will not be obliged to it. My pen shall follow the dictates of my heart; and if it be as honest to me, as I think it is to everybody else, I hope I have nothing to fear either from your lookout, or, which is still sharper, my uncle Selby's.
Sir Charles Grandison, in his person, is really a very fine man. He is tall; rather slender than full; his face in shape is a fine oval: he seems to have florid health; health confirmed by exercise.
His complexion seems to have been naturally too fine for a man; but, as if he were above being regardful of it, his face is overspread with a manly sunniness, [I want a word,] that shews he has been in warmer climates than England: and so it seems he has ; since the tour of Europe has not contented him. He has visited some parts of Asia, and even of Afric, Egypt particularly.
I wonder what business a man has for such fine teeth, and so fine a mouth, as Sir Charles Grandison might boast of, were he vain.
In his aspect there is something great and noble, that shews him to be of rank. Were kings to be chosen for beauty and majesty of person, Sir Charles Grandison would have few competitors. His eye-Indeed, my Lucy, his eye shews, if possible, more of sparkling intelligence than that of his sister
Now, pray, be quiet, my dear uncle Selby! What is beauty in a man to me? You all know that I never thought beauty a qualification in a man.
And yet, this grandeur in his person and air is accompanied with so much ease and freedom of manners, as engages one's love with one's reverence. His good breeding renders him very accessible. His sister says, he is always the first to break though the restraints, and to banish the diffidences, that will generally attend persons on a quite new acquaintance. He may; for he is sure of being acceptable in whatever he does or says.
Very true, Lucy; shake your head if you please.
In a word, he has such an easy, yet manly politeness, as well in his dress, as in his address, (no singularity appearing in either,) that were he not a fine figure of a man, but were even plain and hard-featured, he would be thought (what is far more eligible in a man, than mere beauty) very agreeable.
Sir Charles Grandison, my dear, has travelled, we may say, to some purpose.
Well might his sister tell Mr Reeves, that whenever he married he would break half-ascore hearts.
Upon my word, Lucy, he has too many personal advantages for a woman, who loved him with a peculiarity, to be easy with, whatever may be his virtue, from the foible our sex in general love to indulge for handsome men. For, O my dear! women's eyes are sad giddy things; and will run away with their sense, with their understandings, beyond the power of being overtaken either by stop-thief, or hue-and-cry.
I know that here you will bid me take care not to increase the number of the giddy; and so I will, my Lucy.
The good sense of this real fine gentleman is not, as I can find, rusted over by sourness, by moroseness: he is above quarrelling with the world for trifles; but he is still more above making such compliances with it, as would impeach either his honour or conscience. Once Miss Grandison, speaking of her brother, said, My brother is valued by those who know him best, not so much for being a handsome man ; not so much for his birth and fortune; nor for this or that single worthiness; as for being, in the great and yet comprehensive sense of the word, a good man. And at another time she said, that he lived to himself, and to his own heart; and though he had the happiness to please everybody, yet he made the judgment or approbation of the world matter but of second consideration. In a word, added she, Sir Charles Grandison, my brother, (and when she looks proud, it is when she says, my brother,) is not to be misled either by false glory, or false shame, which he calls, The great snares of virtue.
What a man is this, so to act !—What a woman is this, so to distinguish her brother's excellencies!
What a poor creature am I, compared to either of them! And yet I have had my admirers. So perhaps may still more faulty creatures among their inferiors. If, my Lucy, we have so much good sense as to make fair comparisons, what have we to do but to look forward rather than backward, in order to obtain the grace of humility!
But let me tell you, my dear, that Sir Charles does not look to be so great a self-denier, as his sister seems to think him, when she says, he
lives to himself, and to his own heart, rather than to the opinion of the world.
He dresses to the fashion, rather richly, 'tis true, than gaudily; but still richly: so that he gives his fine person its full consideration. He has a great deal of vivacity in his whole aspect; as well as in his eye. Mrs Jenny says, that he is a great admirer of handsome women. His equipage is perfectly in taste, though not so much to the glare of taste, as if he aimed either to inspire or shewemulation. He seldom travels without a set, and suitable attendants; and, what I think seems a little to savour of singularity, his horses are not docked; their tails are only tied up when they are on the road. This I took notice of when we came to town. I want, methinks, my dear, to find some fault in his outward appearance, were it but to make you think me impartial; my gratitude to him, and my veneration for him, notwithstanding.
But if he be of opinion that the tails of these noble animals are not only a natural ornament, but are of real use to defend them from the vexatious insects that in summer are so apt to annoy them, (as Jenny just now told me was thought to be his reason for not depriving his cattle of a defence, which nature gave them,) how far from a dispraise is this humane consideration! And how, in the more minute as well as, we may suppose, in the greater instances, does he deserve the character of the man of mercy, who will be merciful to his beast!
I have met with persons who call those men good, that yet allow themselves in liberties which no good man can take. But I dare say, that Miss Grandison means by good, when she calls her brother, with so much pride, a good man, what I, and what you, my Lucy, would understand by the word.
With so much spirit, life, and gallantry, in the first appearance of Sir Charles Grandison, you may suppose, that had I not been so dreadfully terrified and ill-used, and so justly apprehensive of worse treatment; and had I been offered another protection; I should hardly have acted the frighted bird flying from the hawk, to which, as Mr Reeves tells me, Sir Charles (though politely, and kindly enough, yet too sensibly for my recollection) compared me.
Do you wonder, Luey, that I cannot hold up my head, when I recollect the figure I must make in that odious masquerade habit, hanging by my clasping arms about the neck of such a young gentleman? Can I be more effectually humbled than by such a recollection? And yet is not this an instance of that false shame in me, to which Sir Charles Grandison is so greatly superior?
Surely, surely, I have had my punishment for my compliances with this foolish world. False glory, and false shame, the poor Harriet has never been totally above. Why was I so much
indulged? Why was I allowed to stop so many miles short of my journey's end, and then complimented, as if I had no farther to go?-But surely, I was past all shame, when I gave my consent to make such an appearance as I made, among a thousand strangers, at a masquerade! But now, I think, something offers of blame in the character of this almost faultless man, as his sister, and her Jenny, represent him to be.
I cannot think, from a hint given by Miss Grandison, that he is quite so frank, and so unreserved, as his sister is. Nay, it was more than a hint ; I will repeat her very words: She had been mentioning her own openness of heart, and yet confessing that she would have kept one or two things from him, that affected him not. "But as for my brother," said she, "he winds one about, and about, yet seems not to have more curiosity than one would wish him to have. Led on by his smiling benignity, and fond of his attention to my prattle, I have caught myself in the midst of a tale of which I intended not to tell him one syllable.
"O Sir Charles! where am I got? have I said-and suddenly stopt.
"Proceed, my Charlotte! No reserves to your nearest friend.
"Yet he has his, and I have winded and winded about him, as he has done about me, but all to no purpose.
"Nevertheless, he has found means, insensibly, to set me on again with my story, till I had told him all I knew of the matter; and all the time I was intending only that my frankness should be an example to him; when he, instead of answering my wishes, double-locked the door of his heart, and left not so much as the keyhole uncovered by which I might have peeped into it; and this, in one or two points, that I thought it imported me to know. And then have I been ready to scold."
Now this reserve to such a sister, and in points that she thinks it imports her to know, is what I do not like in Sir Charles. A friend as well as a sister! ought there to be a secret on one side, when there is none on the other? Very likely he would be as reserved to a wife: And is not marriage the highest state of friendship that mortals can know? And can friendship and reserve be compatible? Surely, no.
His sister, who cannot think he has one fault, excuses him, and says, that her brother has no other view in drawing her on to reveal her own heart, but the better to know how to serve and oblige her.
But then, might not the same thing be said in behalf of the curiosity of so generous a sister? Or is Sir Charles so conscious of his own superiority, as to think he can give advice to her, but wants not hers to him? Or thinks he meanly of our sex, and highly of his own? Yet there are but two years' difference in their age; and, from sixteen to twenty-four, I believe, wo
men are generally more than two years aforehand with the men in ripeness of understanding; though after that time, the men may ripen into a superiority.
This observation is not my own; for I heard a very wise man once say, that the intellects of women usually ripen sooner than those of men; but that those of men, when ripened, like trees of slow growth, generally hold fonger, are capable of higher perfection, and serve to nobler pur
Sir Charles has seen more of the world, it may be said, than his sister has; he has travelled. But is not human nature the same in every country, allowing only for different customs?-Do not love, hatred, anger, malice, all the passions in short, good or bad, shew themselves by like effects in the faces, hearts, and actions of the people of every country? And let men make ever such strong pretensions to knowledge, from their far-fetched and dear-bought experience, cannot a penetrating spirit learn as much from the passions of a Sir Hargrave Pollexfen in England, as it could from a man of the same or the like ill qualities, in Spain, in France, or in Italy? And why is the Grecian Homer, to this day, so much admired, as he is in all these nations, and in every other nation where he has been read, and will be, to the world's end, but because he writes to nature? And is not the language of nature one language throughout the world, though there are different modes of speech to express it by?
But I shall go out of my depth. All I mean (and, from the frankness of my own heart, you will expect from me such a declaration) is, that I do not love that a man so nearly perfect, be his motives what they will, should have reserves to such a sister. Don't you think, Lucy, that this seems to be a kind of fault in Sir Charles Grandison? Don't you think, that it would mingle some fear in a sister's love of him? And should one's love of so amiable a brother be dashed or allayed with fear? He is said to be a good man; and a good man I dare say he is. What secrets can a good man have, that such a sister, living with him in the same house, and disdaining not, but, on the contrary, priding herself in, the title of her brother's housekeeper, should not be made acquainted with? Will a man so generous look upon her as he would upon a mere housekeeper?-Does not confidence engage confidence ?-And are they not by nature, as well as inclination, friends?
But I fancy I am acting the world, in its malevolence, as well as impertinence; that world, which thinks itself affronted by great and superior merit; and takes delight to bring down exalted worth to its own level. But, at least, you will collect from what I have written, an instance of my impartiality; and see, that, though bound to Sir Charles by a tie of gratitude which never can be dissolved, I cannot excuse him, if