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either to lighten, or to confirm, the self-blame I had so glibly written down, Lady L——, in her chair, made us a visit. She came up directly to me; I am come to dine with your cousins and you, Miss Byron, said she. Shall I be welcome? But don't answer me. I know I shall.
Mrs Reeves entered; and acknowledged the favour.
Sir Hargrave Pollexfen, and some of his brethren, are to dine with my brother, said my lady; and I, not being obliged to do the honours of the table, with my lord's consent, made my escape. I cannot endure the wretch, who could make such a vile attempt upon you, and who might have murdered my brother.-Come, will you let me see what you are writing? You can forgive Charlotte's freedom; will you excuse her sister's?
I cannot shew your ladyship all I have written; but I will read you some passages of the long letter before me.
I told her my subject, and read to her such as I thought I could read. She raved at Sir Hargrave; wondered he had the confidence to approach me, especially with hope. She praised me. Yet said to my cousin Reeves, that he ought to have been denied the house; and the rather, as I was myself very unwilling to see him.
I own, I thought so too. Both my cousins are too good-natured.
We had a great deal of talk about the duel that was so happily prevented. Lady L- gave us an account of that which her father fought; and to the issue of which they owed the loss of the best of mothers; and at and after dinner she piously expatiated on the excellencies of that mother; and demonstrated, what I have often thought of great consequence, (my grandmamma's and aunt Selby's examples before me affording the noblest proofs,) that the conduct of women in their families is of high importance; and that they need not look out of them so often as they do, to employ themselves; and that not only in the most useful, but in the most delightful manner.
My Lord L― having broke from the company at Sir Charles's, did us the honour to drink tea with us. Every thing, he said, passed very agreeably among the gentlemen he had left; and it was his opinion, that his brother's noble behaviour, and the conversation that passed at table, and in which he left him and them engaged, would make more than one convert among them.
He told Lady L, that Sir Charles was to set out on Monday for Canterbury; [for Canterbury, Lucy; and that he should take it for a favour, if she would give him her company for a few days to Colnebrook. Their new house, he said, would be ready to receive them in a week's time: it wanted nothing but a thorough
airing. And if, said he, you could prevail upon Miss Grandison to be with us till her brother returns, and both sisters could induce Miss Byron to make a fourth, we shall be the happiest party in the world; and perhaps may get Sir Charles among us, on his return, for a day or two. I bowed.
I must tell you, my lord, that Charlotte and I thought to offer our attendance on Miss Byron to some of the public entertainments; but your lordship's pleasure shall determine me; and if we could be so happy as to have Miss Byron for our guest, I am sure of my sister; and it would be my preferable wish. Mr Reeves, Mrs Reeves, will you spare Miss Byron to me?
I looked as if for their leave. They gave a smiling assent. My lord and lady both expressed themselves overjoyed.
This Canterbury ran in my head. It was brought in naturally enough; and Mr Reeves wondered, that Sir Charles kept secret the motive of his journeying thither backward and forward. The godlike man, said Mr Reeves, in the words of a great poet, has nothing to conceal.— For my part, replied my lord, I conclude the motive is rather a painful than a pleasurable one. Charlotte accuses her brother of reserves. I never found him reserved; but he loves to play with her curiosity, and amuse her; for she is very curious, yet has her secret.- Has she not, Lady L- ?
Indeed she has, replied my lady-Perhaps you, my dear, will be intrusted with it, when you are at Colnebrook together.
Pray, madam, said I to Lady L, may I ask?-Does Sir Charles give Lord Ginterest in his addresses to Miss Grandison?
Lady L. My brother wishes Charlotte married. He is a great friend to the married state; especially with regard to our sex.
Mr Reeves could not miss this opportunity. It is a wonder, said he, that Sir Charles himself does not think of marriage!
Lady L. That is a string that we but just touch sometimes, and away. There is a ladyThere she stopt. Had she looked with earnestness at me, I had been undone, I believe.
[Let me ask you, Lucy: you have passed the fiery ordeal-Did you ever find in yourself a kind of impatience, next to petulance; and in your heart, (only for fear of exposing yourself,) that you were ready to quarrel, or to be short, with anybody that came upon you of a sudden; yet have no business of consequence to engage either your fingers or your thoughts?—Of late, my dear, I have been very often troubled with this odd sensation. But my whole temper is altering, I believe. I shall grow peevish, perverse, and gloomy, I doubt. O this wicked Sir Hargrave!]
Pray, my dear, attend for the future to those indexes or hands; and forbear to read out the passages enclosed by them, if you can-But if
you come upon them before you are aware, why, then read on-with all my heart.
But to return to Lady L's alarming hint "There is a lady"
Mrs Reeves. That Sir Charles loves, I suppose?
Lady L. That loves Sir Charles; and she has -But for the lady's sake—Yet, if it be allowable for any woman to be in love with any man, upon an uncertainty of return, it is for one that is in love with my brother.
Har. And cannot Sir Charles make a return? -Poor lady!
My cousin afterwards told me, that my upper-lip then quivered like an aspin-leaf. I did not know that it did. I felt not a trembling at my heart; and when the lip trembles, the heart, I think, should be affected. There used to be a close connexion between mine.
Mr Reeves. Miss Grandison told me, that, if her brother married, half a score women would break their hearts.
Lady L. The words half a score run as glibly off the tongue as half a dozen: but I believe, let the envious, the censorious, malign our sex, and charge us with the love of rakes and libertines, as they will, if all men were like my brother, there would not be a single woman, and hardly a bad one, in the kingdom. What say you, my lord?
Lord L. My dear life, you know I am all attention, whenever you, or my sister Charlotte, make our brother the subject of your panegyric. If, Miss Byron, you do not choose to hear so much said of this best of men, you will, I doubt, have an ill time of it in the favour you will do us at Colnebrook.
Har. My lord, I should be very ungrateful, if I did not hear with pleasure everything that shall be said in praise of Sir Charles Grandi
Lord L. When I am out of conceit with men, as too often they give me cause to be, I think of my brother, and forgive them.
I wonder, Lucy, what everybody means by praising Sir Charles Grandison so much in my hearing!-Shall I fly from town, to avoid hearing his praises?—Yes, say you?-But whither? It must not be to Selby-house. Well, then, I may as well go to Colnebrook. I shall there be informed of the reasons for all those general ape plauses; for hitherto I know nothing of his history, to what they tell me I am to know.
These general praises carried us away from a subject that I thought we should once have made more of-That one lady-And I wanted to know, but had no opportunity to inform myself, whether that lady's relations, or herself, live at Canterbury. On Monday, it seems, Sir Charles sets out for that Canterbury!
Our noble guests would not stay supper. They had not been gone two hours before I had an VOL. VIII.
humourous letter from Miss Grandison. I enclose it.
Sat. Night, 10 o'clock. LORD and Lady L rejoice me, by telling me, you will accompany them to Colnebrook on Monday. That's my good girl!—I will go with them, for the sake of your company. Yet I had half-denied them; and why? Because, if you must know-but hush-and catch a mouseBecause, a certain impertinent proposes a visit there; and I had thoughts to take the opportunity of being alone in town, to rid my hands for ever, if possible, of another silly fellow, of whom, for one month, a great while ago, I thought tolerably.
You and I, Harriet, will open to each other all our hearts. There is one chamber that has two beds in it. We will have that. Our dressing-room shall be common to both. Lady Lis a morning killer; she always loved her bed; so we shall have charming opportunities for tête-à-tête conversation.
I will drink tea with you to-morrow-No, but I won't: you and your cousins shall drink tea with us-Do you hear? I won't be denied. And then we'll settle how it shall be. I'll tell you what, my dear-If, on my brother's return from Canterbury, he comes to us at Colnebrook, we will call him to account for all his reserves. Here is this affair of Pollexfen's; how might it have ended! I tremble to think of it-You'll stand by me; won't you? I cannot make Lord and Lady L of my party, or I would have rebelled before now-But you and I, my dear, I warrant you-Yet you are so grave. Were you always such a grave, such a wise, such a very wise girl, Harriet? Was your grandfather a very sententious man? Was his name Solomon Shirley?
I love wisdom as well as anybody; but wisdom, out of its place, is a prude, my dear. How I ramble!-You'll come to-morrow-I designed but two lines. Adieu. Believe me ever yours,
I HOPE, Lucy, I was not wrong in so readily consenting to go to Colnebrook. My own inclination, indeed, was in my compliance; and I begin to mistrust myself, wherever that strongly leads. Yet why should I undervalue myself? I know my heart to be good. In that I will not yield to anybody. I have no littleness in my mind; naturally I have not. Guard me, O my friends! by your prayers, that no littleness, that is not natural to my heart, may depreciate it, and make me unworthy of the love you have ever shewn to your HARRIET BYRON.
MISS HARRIET BYRON TO MISS LUCY SELBY.
Sunday, March 5.
My cousins will have it, that I am far gone in a certain passion, they speak quite out; and with a man that has given no encouragement Encouragement! how meanly sounds that word! But I hope they are mistaken. I cannot say, but I might prefer, if I were to have my choice -one man to another-But that is a different thing from being run away with by so vehement a folly as they are ready to ascribe to me.
Well, but, under this notion, they are solicitous that I should not neglect any opportunity [what a poor creature do they think me!] of ingratiating myself with the sisters; and therefore I must, by all means, accept of Miss Grandison's invitation to tea.
I insisted, however, that they should accompany me, as they likewise were invited; and they obliged me I may say themselves too; for they admire the brother and sisters as much as I do.
We found together Lord and Lady LMiss Grandison, Miss Jervois, Dr Bartlett, and Mr Grandison. Sir Charles was in his drawing-room adjoining to the study; a lady with him, they said. What business had I to wish to know whether it was an elderly or a young lady? But I must tell you all my follies. When we alighted, a very genteel chair made way for our coach.
Mr Grandison made up to me; and, as heretofore, said very silly things, but with an air, as if he were accustomed to say such, and to have them received as gallant things, by those to whom he addressed them. How painful it is to a mind not quite at ease, to be obliged to be civil, when the ear is invaded by contemptible speeches, from a man who must think as highly of himself for uttering them, as meanly of the understanding of the person he is speaking to!
Miss Grandison saw me a little uneasy, and came up to us. Mr Grandison, said she, I thought you had known Miss Byron's character by this time. She is something more than a pretty woman. She has a soul, sir; the man who makes a compliment to her on her beauty, depreciates her understanding.
She then led me to her seat, and sat down
Mr Grandison was in the midst of a fine speech, and was not well pleased. He sat down, threw one leg over the knee of the other, hemmed three or four times, took out his snuffbox, tapped it, let the snuff drop through his fingers, then broke the lumps, then shut it, and
twirled it round with the fore-finger of his right hand, as he held it between the thumb and forefinger of the other; and was quite like a sullen boy; yet, after a while, tried to recover himself, by forcing a laugh at a slight thing or two said in company, that was not intended to raise
I think, my dear, I could have allowed a little more for him, had not his name been Grandison.
We soon adjusted everything for the little journey. Mr Grandison told Miss Grandison, that if she would make him amends for her treatment of him just now, she should put Lord L- upon inviting him. Lord and Lady Ljoined to do so. But Miss Grandison would not admit of his going; and I was glad of it.
But, not to affront you, cousin, said she, Miss Byron and I want to have a good deal of particular conversation; so shall not be able to spare you an hour of our company at Colnebrook. But one thing, sir; my brother sets out for Canterbury to-morrow; tell him that we won't be troubled with your company; ask him, if he
Not in those words neither, cousin Charlotte; but I will offer attendance; and, if he accepts of it, I shall be half as happy as if I went to Colnebrook; and only half, bowing to me.
Why, now, you are a good docible kind of a man! I want to hear what will be my brother's answer; for we know not one syllable, nor can guess at his business at Canterbury.
The tea-equipage being brought in, we heard Sir Charles's voice, complimenting a lady to her chair; and who pleaded engagement for declining to drink tea with his sister. And then he entered the parlour to us. He addressed my cousins, who were next him, with his usual politeness. He then came to me: How does my good Miss Byron? Not discomposed, I hope, by your yesterday's visitors. They are all of them in love with you. But you must have been pained -I was pained for you, when I heard they had visited you. But extraordinary merit has some forfeitures to pay.
I am sure then, thought I, you must have a great many. Every time I see him, I think he rises upon me in the gracefulness of his behaviour.
I have one agreeable piece of news to tell you, madam. Sir Hargrave will go abroad for a twelvemonth. He says, he cannot be in the same kingdom with you, and not see you. He hopes, therefore, to lessen the torment, by flying from the temptation. Mr Bagenhall and Mr Merceda will go with him.
Then whispering me, he said, From a hint in the letter of the penitent Wilson, that Mr Bagenhall's circumstances are not happy, and that he is too much in the power of Sir Hargrave; I have prevailed on the latter, in consideration
of the other's accompanying him abroad, to make him easy. And, would you believe it? and can you forgive me?-I have brought Sir Hargrave to consent to give Wilson the promised 1007. To induce him to do this, Merceda (influenced by the arguments I urged, founded on the unhappy fellow's confessions in that letter) offered 501. more for his past services to himself; and both as a proof of the sincerity of the promised reformation. Wilson shall not have the money, but upon his marrying the girl to whom he is contracted: and on my return from a little excursion I am making to Canterbury, I shall put all in a train. And now, let me ask you, once more, can you forgive me for rewarding, as you may think it, a base servant?
O sir! how can I answer you?-You told me at Colnebrook, that we were to endeavour to bring good out of the evil from which you had delivered me. This indeed is making your words true in a very extensive sense: to make your enemies your friends; to put wicked men into a way of reformation; and to make it a bad man's interest to be good-Forgive you, sir!From what I remember of that poor wretch's letter, I was obliged to him myself; though vile, he was less vile than he might have been. The young woman behaved with tenderness to me at Paddington; let me therefore add 50%. to Mr Merceda's 501. as an earnest that I can follow a noble example.
You charm me, madam, said he; I am not disappointed in my opinion of you-Wilson, if he give hope of real penitence, shall not want the fourth 501.-It would be too good in you, so great a sufferer as you were by his wickedness, to give it; but it will become a man to do it, who has not been injured by him, and who was the occasion of his losing the favour of his employer; and the rather, as he was an adviser to his fellow-agents to fly, and not to fire at my servants, who might have suffered from a sturdier villain. He has promised repentance and reformation: this small sum will give me a kind of right to enforce the performance.-But no more of this just now.
Miss Jervois just then looking as if she would be glad to speak with her guardian, he arose, and taking her hand, led her to the window. She was in a supplicating attitude, as if asking a favour. He seemed to be all kindness and affection to her-Happy girl!-Miss Grandison, who had heard enough of what he said of Wilson, to be affected, whispered me, Did I not tell you, Harriet, that my brother was continually employed in doing good? He has invention, forecast, and contrivance; but you see how those qualities are all employed.
O Miss Grandison, said I, I am such a nothing!-I cannot, as Sir Hargrave says, bear my own littleness.
Be quiet, said she-You are an exceeding good girl! But you have a monstrous deal of pride.
Early I saw that. You are not half so good as
Cousin Charlotte, said Mr Grandison, you remember your treatment of me, for addressing Miss Byron, in an open, and, I thought, a very polite manner; pray, where's your impartiality? Sir Charles has been shut up in his study with a lady, who would not be seen by anybody else. But Sir Charles may do anything.
I am afraid it is too late, cousin, said Miss Grandison; else it would be worth your while to try for a reputation.
Has Charlotte, Mr Grandison, said Sir Charles, used you ill? Ladies will do as they please with you gallant men. They look upon you as their own; and you wish them to do so. You must bear the inconvenience for the sake of the convenience.
Well, but, Sir Charles, I am refused to be of the Colnebrook party-absolutely refused. Will you accept of my company? Shall I attend you to Canterbury?
Are you in earnest, cousin Grandison? Will you oblige me with your company?
With all my heart and soul, Sir Charles. With all mine, I accept your kind offer. This agreeably surprised his sisters as well as me; but why then so secret, so reserved, to them? Mr Grandison immediately went out to give orders to his servant for the journey.
A good-natured man! said Sir Charles.Charlotte, you are sometimes too quick upon him-Are you not?
Too quick upon him!-No, no! I have hopes of him; for he can be ashamed; that was not always the case with him. Between your gentleness and my quickness, we shall make something of him in time.
Mr Grandison immediately returned; and we lost something that Sir Charles was going to reply. But, by some words he dropt, the purport was to blame his sister for not sparing Mr Grandison before company.
I imagine, Sir Charles, that if you take Mr Grandison with you, one may venture to ask a question, Whether you go to any family at Canterbury, that we have heard of?-It is to do good, I am sure.
Your eyes have asked me that question several times, Charlotte. I aim not at making secrets of anything I do. I need not on this occasion. Yet you, Charlotte, have your secrets. He looked grave.
Have I my secrets, Sir Charles?-Pray, do you mean?
She coloured, and seemed sensibly touched. Too much emotion, Charlotte, is a kind of confession. Take care. Then turning it off with a smile-See, Mr Grandison, I am revenging your cause. Alarming spirits love not to be alarmed.
So, Harriet! (whispering to me,) I am silenced. Had I told you all my heart, I should have half suspected you. How he has fluttered me!Lady L, this is owing to you, whispering her behind my chair.
I know nothing; therefore could tell nothing. Conscience, conscience! Charlotte, re-whispered Lady L
She sat still, and was silent for a little while; Lord and Lady L-smiling, and seeming to enjoy her agreeable confusion. At last-But, Sir Charles, you always had secrets. You got out of me two or three of mine, without exchange-You
Don't be uneasy, my Charlotte. I expected a prompt, not a deliberate reply. My life is a various life. Some things I had better not have known myself. See, Charlotte, if you are serious, you will make me so. I have not any motives of action, I hope, that are either capricious or conceited-[Surely, Lucy, he cannot have seen what I wrote to you about his reserves! I thought he looked at me]-Only this one hint, my sister whenever you condescend to consult me, let me have everything before me, that shall be necessary to enable me to form a judgment -But why so grave, Charlotte? Impute all I have said, as a revenge of Mr Grandison's cause, in gratitude for his obliging offer of accompanying me to Canterbury.
Cannot you reward him, Sir Charles, but by punishing me?
A good question, Charlotte. But do you take what I have said in that light?
I have done for the present, sir; but I hope, when you return, we shall come to an eclaircissement.
Needs it one?-Will not better and more interesting subjects have taken place by that time? -And he looked at her with an eye of particular meaning.
Now is he beginning to wind about me, whispered she to me, as I told you at Colnebrook. Were he and I alone, he'd have me before I knew where I was. Had he been a wicked man, he would have been a very wicked one.
She was visibly uneasy; but was afraid to say any more on the subject.
Lady L whispered-Ah! Charlotte, you are taken in your own toils. You had better let me into your secret. I would bring you off if I could.
not have the pleasure of Miss Jervois's company said I, to the sisters.
Emily bowed to me, and smiled.
The very thing that Miss Jervois was petitioning to me for, said Sir Charles; and I wished, ladies, to have the motion come from one of you.
Emily shall go with us, I think, said Miss Grandison.
Thank you, madam, said she: I will take care not to break in upon you impertinently. What! dost thou too think we have secrets, child?
Consent with your usual grace, Charlotte: Are you not too easily affected? Sir Charles spoke this smiling.
Everything you say, Sir Charles, affects me. I ought then to be very careful of what I say. If I have given my sister pain, I beg her to forgive me.
I am afraid to go on, whispered she to me. Were he and I only together, my heart would be in his hand in a moment.
I have only this to observe, Miss Grandison, whispered I-When you are too hard upon me, I know to whom to apply for revenge.
Such another word, Harriet, and I'll blow you up!
What could she mean by that?-Blow me up? I have locked up my aunt's last letters, where so much is said about entangling, and inclination, and so forth. When anything occurs that we care not to own, I see by Miss Grandison, that it is easy for the slightest hint to alarm us.
But Sir Charles to say so seriously as he did, "That his life was a various life;' and that 'he had better not have known some things himself,' affects me not a little. What can a man of his prudence have had to disturb him? But my favourite author says,
Yet, with a sigh o'er all mankind, I grant,
But so young a man! so prudent! as I said; and so generally beloved! But that he is so, may be the occasion.-Some lady, I doubt !—What sad people are we women at this rate! Yet some women may have the worst of it. What are your thoughts on all these appearances, Lucy?
Miss Grandison, as I said, is uneasy. These are the words that disturb her: Only this one hint, my sister: whenever you condescend to consult me, let me have everything before me, that shall be necessary to enable me to form a judgment.'-And so they would me in her case. But it seems plain, from Sir Charles's hint,