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So, Sir Charles seems not to be a friend to masquerades.
I think, were I to live a hundred years, I never would go to another. Had it not been for Lady Betty-She has, indeed, too gay a turn for a woman of forty, and a mother of children. Miss Byron, I dare say, will be afraid of giving the lead to her for the future. But, excepting my wife and self, nobody in town has suffered more than Lady Betty on this occasion. Indeed she is, I must say, an obliging, well-meaning woman; and she also declares, (so much has she been affected with Miss Byron's danger, of which she takes herself to be the innocent cause,) that she will never again go to a masquerade.
I long to have Miss Byron's account of this horrid affair.-God grant, that it may not be such a one as will lay us under a necessity-But as our cousin has a great notion of female delicacy-I know not what I would say—We must have patience a little while longer.
Miss Grandison's eyes shone with pleasure all the time her brother was giving his relation.
I can only say, my brother, said she, when he had done, that you have rescued an angel of a woman; and you have made me as happy by it, as yourself.
I have a generous sister, Mr Reeves, said Sir Charles.
Till I knew my brother, Mr Reeves, as I now know him, I was an inconsiderate, unreflecting girl. Good and evil, which immediately affected not myself, were almost alike indifferent to me. But he has awakened in me a capacity to enjoy the true pleasure that arises from a benevolent action.
Depreciate not, my Charlotte, your own worth. Absence, Mr Reeves, endears. I have been long abroad; not much above a year returned; but, when you know us better, you will find I have a partial sister.
Mr Reeves will not then think me so. But I will go and see how my fair patient does. She went accordingly to my cousin.
O, Sir Charles, said I, what an admirable woman is Miss Grandison!
My sister Charlotte, Mr Reeves, is, indeed, an excellent woman. I think myself happy in her; but I tell her sometimes, that I have still a more excellent sister; and it is no small instance of Charlotte's greatness of mind, that she herself will allow me to say so.
Just then came in the ladies; the two charming creatures entered together, Miss Grandison supporting my trembling cousin. But she had first acquainted her, that she would find Sir Charles in her dressing-room.
She looked indeed lovely, though van, at her first entrance; but a fine glow overspread her cheeks, at the sight of her deliverer.
Sir Charles approached her, with an air of calmness and serenity, for fear of giving her
emotion. She cast her eyes upon him, with a look of the most respectful gratitude.
I will not oppress my fair guest with many words; but permit me to congratulate you, as I hope I may, on your recovered spirits-Allow me, madam
And he took her almost motionless hand, and conducted her to an easy-chair that had been set for her. She sat down, and would have said something; but only bowed to Sir Charles, to Miss Grandison, and me; and reclined her head against the cheek of the chair.
Miss Grandison held her salts to her.
She took them into her own hands, and smelling to them, raised her head a little; Forgive me, madam! Pardon me, sir! O, my cousin, to me -How can I-So oppressed with obligations! Such goodness!-No words !-My gratitude! My full heart!
And then she again reclined her head, as giving up hopelessly the effort she made to express her gratitude.
You must not, madam, said Sir Charles, sitting down by her, over-rate a common benefit. -Dear Miss Byron, (permit me to address myself to you, as of long acquaintance,) by what Mr Reeves has told my sister, and both have told me, I must think yesterday one of the happiest days of my life. I am sorry that our acquaintance has begun so much at your cost; but you must let us turn this evil appearance into real good. I have two sisters; the world produces not more worthy women. Let me henceforth boast that I have three; and shall I not then have reason to rejoice in the event that has made so lovely an addition to my family!
Then taking her passive hand with the tenderness of a truly affectionate brother, consoling a sister in calamity, and taking his sister's, and joining both; Shall I not, madam, present my Charlotte to a sister? And will you not permit me to claim as a brother under that relation?Our Miss Byron's christian name, Mr Reeves? Harriet, sir.
My sister Harriet, receive and acknowledge your Charlotte. My Charlotte
Miss Grandison arose, and saluted my cousin ; who looked at Sir Charles with reverence, as well as gratitude; at Miss Grandison with delight; and at me with eyes lifted up; and after a little struggle for speech, How shall I bear this goodness! said she-This, indeed, is bringing good out of evil!-Did I not say, my cousin, that I was fallen into the company of angels? I was afraid she would have fainted.
We must endeavour, Mr Reeves, said Sir Charles to me, to lessen the sense our Miss Byron has of her past danger, in order to bring down to reasonable limits, the notion she has of her obligation for a common relief.
Miss Grandison ordered a few drops on sugar -You must be orderly, my sister Harriet, said
she. Am I not your elder sister? My elder sister makes me do what she pleases.
Oh! madam! said my cousin
Call me not madam; call me your Charlotte. My brother has given me and himself a sisterWill you not own me?
How can a heart bowed down by obligation, and goodness never to be returned, rise to that lovely familiarity, by which the obligers so generously distinguish themselves? My lips and my heart, I will be so bold as to say, ever went together; but how-And yet so sweetly invited. My-my-my Charlotte, (withdrawing her hand from Sir Charles, and clasping both her arms round Miss Grandison's neck, the two worthiest bosoms of the sex joining as one,) take your Harriet, person and mind-May I be found worthy, on proof, of all this goodness!
LADY BETTY has just left us. I read to her what I have written since my visit to Colnebrook. She shall not, she says, recover her eyes for a week to come.
The women, Mr Selby, are ever looking forward on certain occasions. Lady Betty and my wife extended their wishes so far, as that they might be able to call Miss Grandison and our Miss Byron sisters; but by a claim that should exclude Sir Charles as a brother to one of them. Should Sir Charles-But no more on this subject-Yet one word more; when the ladies had mentioned it, I could not help thinking that this graceful and truly fine gentleman seems to be the only man, whom our cousin has yet seen, that would meet with no great difficulty from her on such an application.
But Sir Charles has a great estate, and still greater expectations from my Lord W. His sister says, he would break half a score hearts, were he to marry-So, for that matter, would our Miss Byron. But once more-Not another word, however, on this subject.
I staid to dine with this amiable brother and sister. My cousin exerted herself to go down, and sat at table for one half hour; but changing countenance, once or twice, as she sat, Miss Grandison would attend her up, and make her lie down. I took leave of her, at her quitting the table.
On Monday I hope to see her once more among us.
If our dear Miss Byron cannot write, you will perhaps have one letter more, my dear Mr Selby, from
letter. Indeed, my dear Mr Selby, there are two or three passages in it, that would have cut me to the heart, had not the dear creature been so happily restored to our hopes.
Monday Night, Feb. 20. I WILL write one more letter, my dear cousin Selby, and then I will give up my pen to our beloved cousin.
I got to Colnebrook by nine this morning. I had the pleasure to find our Miss Byron recovered beyond my hopes. She had a very good night on Saturday; and all Sunday, she said, was a cordial day to her from morning till night; and her night was quiet and happy.
Miss Grandison staid at home yesterday to keep my cousin company. Sir Charles passed the greatest part of the day in the library. The two ladies were hardly ever separated. My cousin expresses herself in raptures, whenever she speaks of this brother and sister. Miss Grandison, she says, (and indeed every one must see it,) is one of the frankest and most communicative of women. Sir Charles appears to be one of the most unreserved of men, as well as one of the most polite. He makes not his guests uneasy with his civilities; but you see freedom and ease in his whole deportment; and the stranger cannot doubt but Sir Charles will be equally pleased with freedom and ease, in return. I had an encouraging proof of the justness of this observation this morning from him, as we sat at breakfast. I had expressed myself, occasionally, in such a manner, as shewed more respect than freedom: My dear Reeves, said he, kindred minds will be intimate at first sight. Receive me early into the list of your friends; I have already numbered you among mine. I should think amiss of myself, if so good a man, as I am assured Mr Reeves is, should, by his distance, shew a diffidence of me, that would not permit his mind to mingle with mine.
Miss Grandison, my cousin says, put her on relating to her, her whole history; and the histories of the several persons and families to whom she is related.
Miss Byron concluding, as well as I, that Sir Charles would rather take his place in the coach, than go on horseback to town; and being so happily recovered, as not to give us apprehension about her bearing tolerably the little journey; I kept my horse in our return, and Sir
My servant is this moment returned with your Charles went in the coach. This motion coming
See Letter XXIV. p. 60.
from Miss Byron, I rallied her upon it when I got her home; but she won't forgive me, if she knows that I told you whose the motion was. And yet the dear creature's eyes sparkled with pleasure when she had carried her point.
I was at home near half an hour before the coach arrived; and was a welcomed guest.
My dear Mrs Reeves told me, she had expected our arrival before dinner, and hoped Sir Charles and his sister would dine with us. hoped so too, I told her.
I found there Lady Betty, and Miss Clements, a favourite of us all, both impatiently waiting to see my cousin.
Don't be jealous, Mr Reeves, said my wife, if after what I have heard of Sir Charles Grandison, and what he has done for us, I run to him with open arms.
I give you leave, my dear, to love him, replied I; and to express your love in what manner you please.
I have no doubt, said Lady Betty, that I shall break my heart, if Sir Charles takes not very particular notice of me.
He shall have my prayers, as well as my praises, said Miss Clements.
She is acquainted with the whole shocking affair.
When the coach stopt, and the bell rung, the servants contended who should first run to the door. I welcomed them at the coach. Charles handed out Miss Byron ; I, Miss Grandison: Sally, said my cousin, to her raptured maid, take care of Mrs Jenny.
Sir Charles was received, by Mrs Reeves, as I expected. She was almost speechless with joy. He saluted her; but I think, as I tell her, the first motion was hers. He was them obliged to go round; and my cousin, I do assure you, looked as if she would not wish to have been neglected.
As soon as the ladies could speak, they poured out their blessings and thanks to him, and to Miss Grandison; whom, with a most engaging air, he presented to each lady; and she, as engagingly, saluted her sister Harriet by that tender relation, and congratulated them, and Miss Byron, and herself, upon it; kindly bespeaking a family relation for herself through her dear Miss Byron, were her words.
When we were seated, my wife and Lady Betty wanted to enter into the particulars of the happy deliverance, in praise of the deliverer; but Sir Charles interrupting them, My dear Mrs Reeves, said he, you cannot be too careful of this jewel. Everything may be trusted to her own discretion; but how can we well blame the man who would turn thief for so rich a treasure? I do assure you, my sister Harriet, [Do you know, Mrs Reeves, that I have found my third sister? Was she not stolen from us in her cradle? that if Sir Hargrave will repent, I will forgive him for the sake of the temptation.
Mrs Reeves was pleased with this address, and has talked of it since.
I never can forgive him, sir, said Miss Byron, were it but
That he has laid you under such an obligation, said Miss Grandison, patting her hand with her fan, as she sat over against her; but hush, child! You said that before!-And then turning to Mrs Reeves, Has not our new-found sister a very proud heart, Mrs Reeves?
And, dearest Miss Grandison, replied my smiling, delighted cousin, did you not ask that question before?
I did, child, I did; but not of Mrs Reeves.A compromise, however-Do you talk no more of obligation, and I'll talk no more of pride.
Charlotte justly chides her Harriet, said Sir Charles. What must the man have been that had declined his aid in a distress so alarming! Not one word more, therefore, upon this subject.
We were all disappointed, that this amiable brother and sister excused themselves from dining with us. All, I mean, of our own family; for Lady Betty and Miss Clements, not being able to stay, were glad they did not.
They took leave, amidst a thousand grateful blessings and acknowledgments; Miss Grandison promising to see her sister Harriet very soon again; and kindly renewing her wishes of intimacy.
When they went away, There goes your heart, Miss Byron, said Mrs Reeves.
True, answered Miss Byron, if my heart have no place in it for anything but gratitude, as I believe it has not.
Miss Grandison, added she, is the most agreeable of women
And Sir Charles, rejoined Mrs Reeves, archly, is the most disagreeable of men.
Forbear, cousin, replied Miss Byron, and blushed.
Well, well, said Lady Betty, you need not, my dear, be ashamed, if it be so.
Indeed you need not, joined in Miss Clements; I never saw a finer man in my life. Such a lover, if one might have him
If, if-replied Miss Byron-But till if is out of the question, should there not be such a thing as discretion, Miss Clements?
No doubt of it, returned that young lady; and if it be to be shewn by any woman on earth, where there is such a man as this in the question, and in such circumstances, it must be by Miss Byron.
Miss Byron was not so thoroughly recovered, but that her spirits began to flag. We made her retire, and, at her request, excused her coming down to dinner.
I told you I had accepted of the offer made by Lady Betty, when we were in dreadful uncertainty, that her steward should make farther inquiries about the people at Paddington. No
thing worth mentioning has occurred from those inquiries; except confirming, that the widow and her daughters are not people of bad characters. In all likelihood they thought they should entitle themselves to the thanks of all Miss Byron's friends, when the marriage was completed with a man of Sir Hargrave's fortune.
The messenger that I sent to inquire after that Bagenhall's character, has informed us, that it is a very profligate one; and that he is an intimate of Sir Hargrave; but no more is necessary now, God be praised, to be said of him.
The vile wretch himself, I hear, keeps his room; and it is whispered, that he is more than half crazed; insomuch, that his very attendants are afraid to go near him. We know not the nature of his hurt; but hurt he is, though in a fair way of recovery. He threatens, it seems, destruction to Sir Charles, the moment he is able to go abroad. God preserve one of the worthiest and best of men!
Sir Hargrave has turned off all the servants, we are told, that attended him on his shocking, but happily disappointed, enterprize.
Miss Byron intends to write to her Lucy, by to-morrow's post, (if she continued mending,) an ample account of all that she suffered from the date of her last letter, to the hour of her happy deliverance. I am to give her minutes, to the best of my recollection, of what I have written to you; that so the account may be as complete as possible, and that she may write no more than is consistent with the series, which she is required to preserve. She begins this evening, she bids me tell you, that you may be as little a while in suspense about her as possible; but if she cannot finish by to-morrow night, she will have an opportunity to dispatch her letter on Wednesday by a servant of Greville's whom he left in town with some commissions, and who promises to call for anything we may have to send to Selby-house,
Sir Rowland-But let my cousin write to you upon that and other matters. She knows what to say on that subject better than I do.
Meantime I heartily congratulate every one of the dear family upon the return and safety of the darling of so many hearts; and remain, dear Mr Selby,
Your most faithful and obedient servant,
MISS BYRON TO MISS SELBY.
Monday, Feb. 20.
Is it again given me to write to you, my Lucy! and in you to all my revered friends; to write with cheerfulness; to call upon you all to rejoice with me!-God be praised!
What dangers have I escaped! How have my head and my heart been affected; I dare not, as yet, think of the anguish you all endured for
With what wretched levity did I conclude my last letter! Giddy creature that I was, vain and foolish!
But let me begin my sad story. Your impatience all this while must be too painful. Only let me premise, that gaily as I boasted, when I wrote to you so conceitedly, as it might seem, of my dress, and of conquests, and I know not what nonsense, I took no pleasure at the place, in the shoals of fools that swam after me. I despised myself and them. Despised! I was shocked at both.
Two Lucifers were among them; but the worst, the very worst Lucifer of all, appeared in a harlequin dress. He hopped, and skipped, and played the fool about me; and at last told me, he knew Miss Byron; and that he was, as he called himself, the despised, the rejected, Sir Hargrave Pollexfen.
He behaved, however, with complaisance; and I had no apprehension of what I was to suffer from his villainy.
Mr Reeves has told you, that he saw me into the chair, provided for me by my vile new servant. O, my Lucy! one branch of my vanity is entirely lopt_off. I must pretend to some sort of skill in physiognomy! Never more will I, for this fellow's sake, presume to depend on my judgment of people's hearts framed from their countenances.
Mr Reeves has told you everything about the chair, and the chairmen. How can I describe the misgivings of my heart when I first began to suspect treachery! But when I undrew the curtains, and found myself farther deluded by another false heart, whose help I implored, and in the midst of fields, and soon after the lights put out, I pierced the night air with my screams, till I could scream no more. I was taken out in fits; and when I came a little to my senses, I found myself on a bed, three women about me; one at my head, holding a bottle to my nose, my nostrils sore with hartshorn, and a strong smell of burnt feathers; but no man near
Where am I? Who are you, madam? And who are you? Where am I? were the questions I first asked.
The women were a mother and two daughters. The mother answered, You are not in bad hands.
God grant you say truth! said I.
No harm is intended you; only to make you one of the happiest of women. We would not be concerned in a bad action.
I hope not; I hope not; let me engage your pity, madam. You seem to be a mother; these young gentlewomen, I presume, are your daughSave me from ruin, I beseech you, ma
dam; save me from ruin, as you would your daughters.
These young women are my daughters. They are sober and modest women. No ruin is intended you. One of the richest and noblest men in England is your admirer; he dies for you; he assures me, that he intends honourable marriage to you. You are not engaged, he says; and you must, and you shall be his. You may save murder, madam, if you consent. He resolves to be the death of any lover whom you encourage.
This must be the vile contrivance of Sir Hargrave Pollexfen, immediately cried I out; Is it not? Is it not? Tell me; I beg of you tell me. I arose, and sat on the bed-side; and at that moment in came the vile, vile Sir Hargrave.
I screamed out. He threw himself at my feet. I reclined my head on the bosom of the elderly person, and by hartshorn and water they had much ado to keep me out of a fit. Had he not withdrawn; had he kept in my sight; I should certainly have fainted. But holding up my head, and seeing only the women, I revived; and began to pray, to beg, to offer rewards, if they would facilitate my escape, or procure my safety; but then came in again the hated man. I beg of you, Miss Byron, said he, with an air of greater haughtiness than before, to make yourself easy, and hear what I have to say. It is in your own choice, in your own power, to be what you please, and to make me what you please. Do not therefore needlessly terrify your self. You see I am a determined man.-Ladies, you may withdraw
Not and leave me here!-And as they went out, I pushed by the mother, and between the daughters, and followed the foremost into the parlour; and then sunk down on my knees, wrapping my arms about her; O save me! save me! said I.
The vile wretch entered. I left her, and kneeled to him. I knew not what I did. I remember, I said, wringing my hands, If you have mercy; if you have compassion; let me now, now, I beseech you, sir, this moment, experience your mercy.
He gave them some motion, I suppose, to withdraw; (for by that time the widow and the other daughter were in the parlour;) and they all three retired.
I have besought you, madam, and on my knees too, to shew me mercy; but none would you shew me, inexorable Miss Byron! Kneel, if you will; in your turn kneel, supplicate, pray; you cannot be more in earnest than I Now are the tables turned.
Barbarous man! said I, rising from my knees. My spirit was raised; but it as instantly subsided. I beseech you, Sir Hargrave, in a quite frantic way, wringing my hands, and coming near him, and then running to the window, and then to the door, (without meaning to go
out at either, had they been open; for whither could I go?) and then again to him; Be not, I beseech you, Sir Hargrave, cruel to me. ver was cruel to anybody. You know I was civil to you; I was very civil
Yes, yes, and very determined. You called me no names. I call you none, Miss Byron. You were very civil. Hitherto I have not been uncivil. But remember, madam-But, sweet and ever-adorable creature, and he clasped his arms about me, your very terror is beautiful! I can enjoy your terror, madam-and the savage would have kissed me. My averted head frustrated his intention; and at his feet I besought him not to treat the poor creature, whom he had so vilely betrayed, with indignity. I don't hit your fancy, madam!
Can you be a malicious man, Sir Hargrave? You don't like my morals, madam,! And is this the way, Sir Hargrave, are these the means you take, to convince me that I ought to like them?
Well, madam, you shall prove the mercy in me, you would not shew. You shall see that I cannot be a malicious man, a revengeful man; and yet you have raised my pride. You shall find me a moral man.
Then, Sir Hargrave, will I bless you from the bottom of my heart!
But you know what will justify me, in every eye, for the steps I have taken. Be mine, madam; be legally mine. I offer you my honest hand. Consent to be Lady Pollexfen-No punishment, I hope-or, take the consequence.
What, sir! justify by so poor, so very poor, a compliance, steps that you have so basely taken !-Take my life, sir; but my hand and my heart are my own; they never shall be separated. I arose from my knees, trembling, and threw myself upon the window-seat, and wept bitterly.
He came to me. I looked on this side, and on that, wishing to avoid him.
You cannot fly, madam. You are securely mine; and mine still more securely you shall be. Don't provoke me; don't make me desperate. By all that's good and holy
He cast his eyes at my feet; then at my face; then threw himself at my feet, and embraced my knees with his odious arms.
I was terrified. I screamed. In ran one of the daughters-Good sir! Pray, sir!-Did you not say you would be honourable?
Her mother followed her in-Sir, sir! In my house
Thank God, thought I, the people here are better than I had reason to apprehend they were. But, O my Lucy! they seemed to believe, that marriage would make amends for every outrage.
Here let me conclude this letter. I have a great deal more to say.