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Title: A Description of Millenium Hall - And the Country Adjacent Together with the Characters of the Inhabitants and Such Historical Anecdotes and Reflections As May Excite in the Reader Proper Sentiments of Humanity, and Lead the Mind to the Love of Virtue
Author: Scott, Sarah, 1723-1795
Language: English
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A DESCRIPTION OF MILLENIUM HALL

AND THE COUNTRY ADJACENT

Together with the

CHARACTERS OF THE INHABITANTS

And such Historical

ANECDOTES AND REFLECTIONS

AS

May excite in the READER proper Sentiments of Humanity,
and lead the Mind to the Love of

VIRTUE

BY

'A GENTLEMAN
ON HIS TRAVELS'

SARAH SCOTT



Based on a reprint of the edition
published in Great Britain
by J. Newbury, 1762



A DESCRIPTION OF MILLENIUM HALL



Dear Sir,

Though, when I left London, I promised to write to you as soon as I had
reached my northern retreat, yet, I believe, you little expected instead
of a letter to receive a volume; but I should not stand excused to
myself, were I to fail communicating to you the pleasure I received in
my road hither, from the sight of a society whose acquaintance I owe to
one of those fortunate, though in appearance trifling, accidents, from
which sometimes arise the most pleasing circumstances of our lives; for
as such I must ever esteem the acquaintance of that amiable family, who
have fixed their abode at a place which I shall nominate Millenium Hall,
as the best adapted to the lives of the inhabitants, and to avoid giving
the real name, fearing to offend that modesty which has induced them to
conceal their virtues in retirement.

In giving you a very circumstantial account of this society, I confess I
have a view beyond the pleasure which a mind like yours must receive
from the contemplation of so much virtue. Your constant endeavours have
been to inculcate the best principles into youthful minds, the only
probable means of mending mankind; for the foundation of most of our
virtues, or our vices, are laid in that season of life when we are most
susceptible of impression, and when on our minds, as on a sheet of white
paper, any characters may be engraven; these laudable endeavours, by
which we may reasonably expect the rising generation will be greatly
improved, render particularly due to you, any examples which may teach
those virtues that are not easily learnt by precept and shew the
facility of what, in mere speculation, might appear surrounded with a
discouraging impracticability: you are the best judge, whether, by being
made public, they may be conducive to your great end of benefiting the
world. I therefore submit the future fate of the following sheets
entirely to you, and shall not think any prefatory apology for the
publication at all requisite; for though a man who supposes his own life
and actions deserve universal notice, or can be of general use, may be
liable to the imputation of vanity, yet, as I have no other share than
that of a spectator, and auditor, in what I purpose to relate, I presume
no apology can be required; for my vanity must rather be mortified than
flattered in the description of such virtues as will continually accuse
me of my own deficiencies, and lead me to make a humiliating comparison
between these excellent ladies and myself.

You may remember, Sir, that when I took leave of you with a design of
retiring to my native county, there to enjoy the plenty and leisure for
which a few years labour had furnished me with the necessary requisites,
I was advised by an eminent physician to make a very extensive tour
through the western part of this kingdom, in order, by frequent change
of air, and continued exercise, to cure the ill effects of my long abode
in the hot and unwholesome climate of Jamaica, where, while I increased
my fortune, I gradually impaired my constitution; and though one who,
like me, has dedicated all his application to mercantile gain, will not
allow that he has given up the substance for the shadow, yet perhaps it
would be difficult to deny that I thus sacrificed the greater good in
pursuit of the less.

The eagerness with which I longed to fix in my wished-for retirement,
made me imagine that when I had once reached it, even the pursuit of
health would be an insufficient inducement to determine me to leave my
retreat. I therefore chose to make the advised tour before I went into
the north. As the pleasure arising from a variety of beautiful objects
is but half enjoyed when we have no one to share it with us, I accepted
the offer Mr Lamont (the son of my old friend) made of accompanying me
in my journey. As this young gentleman has not the good fortune to be
known to you, it may not be amiss, as will appear in the sequel, to let
you into his character.

Mr Lamont is a young man of about twenty-five years of age, of an
agreeable person, and lively understanding; both perhaps have concurred
to render him a coxcomb. The vivacity of his parts soon gained him such
a degree of encouragement as excited his vanity, and raised in him a
high opinion of himself. A very generous father enabled him to partake
of every fashionable amusement, and the natural bent of his mind soon
led him into all the dissipation which the gay world affords. Useful and
improving studies were laid aside for such desultory reading as he found
most proper to furnish him with topics for conversation in the idle
societies he frequented. Thus that vivacity, which, properly qualified,
might have become true wit, degenerated into pertness and impertinence.
A consciousness of an understanding, which he never exerted, rendered
him conceited; those talents which nature kindly bestowed upon him, by
being perverted, gave rise to his greatest faults. His reasoning
faculty, by a partial and superficial use, led him to infidelity, and
the desire of being thought superiorly distinguishing established him an
infidel. Fashion, not reason, has been the guide of all his thoughts and
actions. But with these faults he is good-natured, and not
unentertaining, especially in a tête-à-tête, where he does not desire to
shine, and therefore his vanity lies dormant and suffers the best
qualifications of his mind to break forth. This induced me to accept him
as a fellow traveller.

We proceeded on our journey as far as Cornwall, without meeting with any
other than the usual incidents of the road, till one afternoon, when our
chaise broke down. The worst circumstance attending this accident was
our being several miles from a town, and so ignorant of the country,
that we knew not whether there was any village within a moderate
distance. We sent the postilion on my man's horse to the next town to
fetch a smith, and leaving my servant to guard the chaise, Mr Lamont and
I walked towards an avenue of oaks, which we observed at a small
distance. The thick shade they afforded us, the fragrance wafted from
the woodbines with which they were encircled, was so delightful, and the
beauty of the grounds so very attracting, that we strolled on, desirous
of approaching the house to which this avenue led. It is a mile and a
half in length, but the eye is so charmed with the remarkable verdure
and neatness of the fields, with the beauty of the flowers which are
planted all around them and seem to mix with the quickset hedges, that
time steals away insensibly.

When we had walked about half a mile in a scene truly pastoral, we began
to think ourselves in the days of Theocritus, so sweetly did the sound
of a flute come wafted through the air. Never did pastoral swain make
sweeter melody on his oaten reed. Our ears now afforded us fresh
attraction, and with quicker steps we proceeded, till we came within
sight of the musician that had charmed us. Our pleasure was not a little
heightened, to see, as the scene promised, in reality a shepherd,
watching a large flock of sheep. We continued motionless, listening to
his music, till a lamb straying from its fold demanded his care, and he
laid aside his instrument, to guide home the little wanderer.

Curiosity now prompted us to walk on; the nearer we came to the house,
the greater we found the profusion of flowers which ornamented every
field. Some had no other defence than hedges of rose trees and
sweetbriars, so artfully planted, that they made a very thick hedge,
while at the lower part, pinks, jonquils, hyacinths, and various other
flowers, seemed to grow under their protection. Primroses, violets,
lilies of the valley, and polyanthuses enriched such shady spots, as,
for want of sun, were not well calculated for the production of other
flowers. The mixture of perfumes which exhaled from this profusion
composed the highest fragrance, and sometimes the different scents
regaled the senses alternately, and filled us with reflections on the
infinite variety of nature.

When we were within about a quarter of a mile of the house, the scene
became still more animated. On one side was the greatest variety of
cattle, the most beautiful of their kinds, grazing in fields whose
verdure equalled that of the finest turf, nor were they destitute of
their ornaments, only the woodbines and jessamine, and such flowers as
might have tempted the inhabitants of these pastures to crop them, were
defended with roses and sweetbriars, whose thorns preserved them from
all attacks.

Though Lamont had hitherto been little accustomed to admire nature, yet
was he much captivated with this scene, and with his usual levity cried
out, 'If Nebuchadnezzar had such pastures as these to range in, his
seven years expulsion from human society might not be the least
agreeable part of his life.' My attention was too much engaged to
criticize the light turn of Lamont's mind, nor did his thoughts continue
long on the same subject, for our observation was soon called off by a
company of hay-makers in the fields on the other side of the avenue. The
cleanliness and neatness of the young women thus employed, rendered them
a more pleasing subject for Lamont's contemplation than any thing we had
yet seen; in them we beheld rural simplicity, without any of those marks
of poverty and boorish rusticity, which would have spoilt the pastoral
air of the scene around us; but not even the happy amiable innocence,
which their figures and countenances expressed, gave me so much
satisfaction as the sight of the number of children, who were all
exerting the utmost of their strength, with an air of delighted
emulation between themselves, to contribute their share to the general
undertaking. Their eyes sparkled with that spirit which health and
activity can only give, and their rosy cheeks shewed the benefits of
youthful labour.

Curiosity is one of those insatiable passions that grow by
gratification; it still prompted us to proceed, not unsatisfied with
what we had seen, but desirous to see still more of this earthly
paradise. We approached the house, wherein, as it was the only human
habitation in view, we imagined must reside the Primum Mobile of all we
had yet beheld. We were admiring the magnificence of the ancient
structure, and inclined to believe it the abode of the genius which
presided over this fairy land, when we were surprised by a storm, which
had been some time gathering over our heads, though our thoughts had
been too agreeably engaged to pay much attention to it. We took shelter
under the thick shade of a large oak, but the violence of the thunder
and lightning made our situation rather uncomfortable. All those whom we
had a little before seen so busy left their work on hearing the first
clap of thunder and ran with the utmost speed to Millenium Hall, so I
shall call the noble mansion of which I am speaking, as to an assured
asylum against every evil.

Some of these persons, I imagine, perceived us; for immediately after
they entered, came out a woman who, by her air and manner of address, we
guessed to be the housekeeper, and desired us to walk into the house
till the storm was over. We made some difficulties about taking that
liberty, but she still persisting in her invitation, had my curiosity to
see the inhabitants of this hospitable mansion been less, I could not
have refused to comply, as by prolonging these ceremonious altercations
I was detaining her in the storm; we therefore agreed to follow her.

If we had been inclined before to fancy ourselves on enchanted ground,
when after being led through a large hall, we were introduced to the
ladies, who knew nothing of what had passed, I could scarcely forbear
believing myself in the Attic school. The room where they sat was about
forty-five feet long, of a proportionable breadth, with three windows on
one side, which looked into a garden, and a large bow at the upper end.
Over against the windows were three large bookcases, upon the top of the
middle one stood an orrery, and a globe on each of the others. In the
bow sat two ladies reading, with pen, ink and paper on a table before
them at which was a young girl translating out of French. At the lower
end of the room was a lady painting, with exquisite art indeed, a
beautiful Madonna; near her another, drawing a landscape out of her own
imagination; a third, carving a picture-frame in wood, in the finest
manner, a fourth, engraving; and a young girl reading aloud to them; the
distance from the ladies in the bow window being such, that they could
receive no disturbance from her. At the next window were placed a group
of girls, from the age of ten years old to fourteen. Of these, one was
drawing figures, another a landscape, a third a perspective view, a
fourth engraving, a fifth carving, a sixth turning in wood, a seventh
writing, an eighth cutting out linen, another making a gown, and by them
an empty chair and a tent, with embroidery, finely fancied, before it,
which we afterwards found had been left by a young girl who was gone to
practise on the harpsichord.

As soon as we entered they all rose up, and the housekeeper introduced
us by saying she saw us standing under a tree to avoid the storm and so
had desired us to walk in. The ladies received us with the greatest
politeness, and expressed concern that when their house was so near, we
should have recourse to so insufficient a shelter. Our surprise at the
sight of so uncommon a society occasioned our making but an awkward
return to their obliging reception; nor when we observed how many arts
we had interrupted, could we avoid being ashamed that we had then
intruded upon them.

But before I proceed farther, I shall endeavour to give you some idea of
the persons of the ladies, whose minds I shall afterwards best describe
by their actions. The two who sat in the bow window were called Mrs
Maynard and Miss Selvyn. Mrs Maynard is between forty and fifty years of
age, a little woman, well made, with a lively and genteel air, her hair
black, and her eyes of the same colour, bright and piercing, her
features good, and complexion agreeable, though brown. Her countenance
expresses all the vivacity of youth, tempered with a serenity which
becomes her age.

Miss Selvyn can scarcely be called tall, though she approaches that
standard. Her features are too irregular to be handsome, but there is a
sensibility and delicacy in her countenance which render her extremely
engaging; and her person is elegant.

Miss Mancel, whom we had disturbed from her painting, is tall and finely
formed, has great elegance of figure, and is graceful in every motion.
Her hair is of a fine brown, her eyes blue, with all that sensible
sweetness which is peculiar to that colour. In short, she excels in
every beauty but the bloom, which is so soon faded, and so impossible to
be imitated by the utmost efforts of art, nor has she suffered any
farther by years than the loss of that radiance which renders beauty
rather more resplendent than more pleasing.

Miss Trentham, who was carving by her, was the tallest of the company,
and in dignity of air particularly excels, but her features and
complexion have been so injured by the smallpox, that one can but just
guess they were once uncommonly fine; a sweetness of countenance, and a
very sensible look, indeed, still remain, and have baffled all the most
cruel ravages of that distemper.

Lady Mary Jones, whom we found engraving, seems to have been rather
pleasing than beautiful. She is thin and pale, but a pair of the finest
black eyes I ever saw, animate, to a great degree, a countenance which
sickness has done its utmost to render languid, but has, perhaps, only
made more delicate and amiable. Her person is exquisitely genteel, and
her voice, in common speech, enchantingly melodious.

Mrs Morgan, the lady who was drawing, appears to be upwards of fifty,
tall, rather plump, and extremely majestic, an air of dignity
distinguishes her person, and every virtue is engraven in indelible
characters on her countenance. There is a benignity in every look, which
renders the decline of life, if possible, more amiable than the bloom of
youth. One would almost think nature had formed her for a common parent,
such universal and tender benevolence beams from every glance she casts
around her.

The dress of the ladies was thus far uniform, the same neatness, the
same simplicity and cleanliness appeared in each, and they were all in
lutestring night-gowns, though of different colours, nor was there any
thing unfashionable in their appearance, except that they were free
from any trumpery ornaments. The girls were all clothed in camblet
coats, but not uniform in colour, their linen extremely white and clean
though coarse. Some of them were pretty, and none had any defect in
person, to take off from that general pleasingness which attends youth
and innocence.

They had been taught such a habit of attention that they seemed not at
all disturbed by our conversation, which was of that general kind, as
might naturally be expected on such an occasion, though supported by the
ladies with more sensible vivacity and politeness than is usual where
part of the company are such total strangers to the rest; till by chance
one of the ladies called Mrs Maynard by her name.

From the moment I saw her, I thought her face not unknown to me, but
could not recollect where or when I had been acquainted with her, but
her name brought to my recollection, that she was not only an old
acquaintance, but a near relation. I observed that she had looked on me
with particular attention, and I begged her to give me leave to ask her
of what family of Maynards she was. Her answer confirmed my supposition,
and as she told me that she believed she had some remembrance of my
face, I soon made her recollect our affinity and former intimacy, though
my twenty years abode in Jamaica, the alteration the climate had wrought
in me, and time had made in us both, had almost effaced us from each
other's memory.

There is great pleasure in renewing the acquaintance of our youth; a
thousand pleasing ideas accompany it; many mirthful scenes and juvenile
amusements return to the remembrance, and make us, as it were, live over
again what is generally the most pleasing part of life. Mrs Maynard
seemed no less sensible of the satisfaction arising from this train of
thoughts than myself, and the rest of the company were so indulgently
good-natured, as in appearance, to share them with us. The tea table by
no means interrupted our conversation, and I believe I should have
forgot that our journey was not at an end, if a servant had not brought
in word, that my man, who had observed our motions, was come to inform
us that our chaise could not be repaired that night.

The ladies immediately declared that though their equipage was in order,
they would not suffer it to put an end to a pleasure they owed to the
accident which had happened to ours, and insisted we should give them
our company till the smith had made all necessary reparations, adding,
that I could not be obstinately bent on depriving Mrs Maynard so soon of
the satisfaction she received from having recovered so long lost a
relation. I was little inclined to reject this invitation: pleasure was
the chief design of my journey, and I saw not how I could receive more
than by remaining in a family so extraordinary, and so perfectly
agreeable. When both parties are well agreed, the necessary ceremonies
previous to a compliance are soon over, and it was settled that we
should not think of departing before the next day at soonest.

The continuance of the rain rendered it impossible to stir out of the
house; my cousin, who seemed to think variety necessary to amuse, asked
if we loved music, which being answered in the affirmative, she begged
the other ladies to entertain us with one of their family concerts, and
we joining in the petition, proper orders were given, and we adjourned
into another room, which was well furnished with musical instruments.
Over the door was a beautiful Saint Cecilia, painted in crayons by Miss
Mancel, and a fine piece of carved work over the chimney, done by Miss
Trentham, which was a very artificial representation of every sort of
musical instrument.

While we were admiring these performances, the company took their
respective places. Miss Mancel seated herself at the harpsichord, Lady
Mary Jones played on the arch lute, Mrs Morgan on the organ, Miss Selvyn
and Miss Trentham each on the six-stringed bass; the shepherd who had
charmed us in the field was there with his German flute, a venerable
looking man, who is their steward, played on the violincello, a lame
youth on the French horn, another, who seemed very near blind, on the
bassoon, and two on the fiddle. My cousin had no share in the
performance except singing agreeably, wherein she was joined by some of
the ladies, and where the music could bear it, by ten of the young
girls, with two or three others whom we had not seen, and whose voices
and manner were equally pleasing. They performed several of the finest
pieces of the Messiah and Judas Maccabeus, with exquisite taste, and the
most exact time. There was a sufficient number of performers to give the
choruses all their pomp and fullness, and the songs were sung in a
manner so touching and pathetic, as could be equalled by none whose
hearts were not as much affected by the words as their senses were by
the music. The sight of so many little innocents joining in the most
sublime harmony made me almost think myself already amongst the heavenly
choir, and it was a great mortification to me to be brought back to this
sensual world by so gross an attraction as a call to supper, which put
an end to our concert, and carried us to another room, where we found a
repast more elegant than expensive.

The evening certainly is the most social part of the day, without any of
those excesses which so often turn it into senseless revelry. The
conversation after supper was particularly animated, and left us still
more charmed with the society into which chance had introduced us; the
sprightliness of their wit, the justness of their reflections, the
dignity which accompanied their vivacity, plainly evinced with how much
greater strength the mind can exert itself in a regular and rational way
of life, than in a course of dissipation. At this house every change
came too soon, time seemed to wear a double portion of wings, eleven
o'clock struck, and the ladies ordered a servant to shew us our rooms,
themselves retiring to theirs.

It was impossible for Lamont and I to part till we had spent an hour in
talking over this amiable family, with whom he could not help being much
delighted, though he observed they were very deficient in the bon ton,
there was too much solidity in all they said, they would trifle with
trifles indeed, but had not the art of treating more weighty subjects
with the same lightness, which gave them an air of rusticity; and he did
not doubt, but on a more intimate acquaintance we should find their
manners much rusticated, and their heads filled with antiquated notions,
by having lived so long out of the great world.

I rose the next morning very early, desirous to make the day, which I
purposed for the last of my abode in this mansion, as long as I could. I
went directly into the garden, which, by what I saw from the house, was
extremely pretty. As I passed by the windows of the saloon, I perceived
the ladies and their little pupils were earlier risers than myself, for
they were all at their various employments. I first went into the gayest
flower garden I ever beheld. The rainbow exhibits not half the variety
of tints, and they are so artfully mingled, and ranged to make such a
harmony of colours, as taught me how much the most beautiful objects may
be improved by a judicious disposition of them. Beyond these beds of
flowers rises a shrubbery, where every thing sweet and pleasing is
collected. As these ladies have no taste but what is directed by good
sense, nothing found a place here from being only uncommon, for they
think few things are very rare but because they are little desirable;
and indeed it is plain they are free from that littleness of mind, which
makes people value a thing the more for its being possessed by no one
but themselves. Behind the shrubbery is a little wood, which affords a
gloom, rendered more agreeable by its contrast with the dazzling beauty
of that part of the garden that leads to it. In the high pale which
encloses this wood I observed a little door, curiosity induced me to
pass through it; I found it opened on a row of the neatest cottages I
ever saw, which the wood had concealed from my view. They were new and
uniform, and therefore I imagined all dedicated to the same purpose.
Seeing a very old woman spinning at one of the doors, I accosted her, by
admiring the neatness of her habitation.

'Ay, indeed,' said she, 'it is a most comfortable place, God bless the
good ladies! I and my neighbours are as happy as princesses, we have
every thing we want and wish, and who can say more?' 'Very few so much,'
answered I, 'but pray what share have the ladies in procuring the
happiness you seem so sensible of?' 'Why Sir,' continued the old woman,
'it is all owing to them. I was almost starved when they put me into
this house, and no shame of mine, for so were my neighbours too; perhaps
we were not so painstaking as we might have been; but that was not our
fault, you know, as we had not things to work with, nor any body to set
us to work, poor folks cannot know every thing as these good ladies do;
we were half dead for want of victuals, and then people have not courage
to set about any thing. Nay, all the parish were so when they came into
it, young and old, there was not much to choose, few of us had rags to
cover us, or a morsel of bread to eat except the two Squires; they
indeed grew rich, because they had our work, and paid us not enough to
keep life and soul together, they live about a mile off, so perhaps they
did not know how poor we were, I must say that for them; the ladies tell
me I ought not to speak against them, for every one has faults, only we
see other people's, and are blind to our own; and certainly it is true
enough, for they are very wise ladies as well as good, and must know
such things.'

As my new acquaintance seemed as loquacious as her age promised, I hoped
for full satisfaction, and asked her how she and her neighbours employed
themselves.

'Not all alike,' replied the good woman, 'I will tell you all about it
There are twelve of us that live here. We have every one a house of two
rooms, as you may see, beside other conveniences, and each a little
garden, but though we are separate, we agree as well, perhaps better,
than if we lived together, and all help one another. Now, there is
neighbour Susan, and neighbour Rachel; Susan is lame, so she spins
clothes for Rachel; and Rachel cleans Susan's house, and does such
things for her as she cannot do for herself. The ladies settled all
these matters at first, and told us, that as they, to please God,
assisted us, we must in order to please him serve others; and that to
make us happy they would put us in a way, poor as we are, to do good to
many. Thus neighbour Jane who, poor woman, is almost stone deaf, they
thought would have a melancholy life if she was to be always spinning
and knitting, seeing other people around her talking, and not be able to
hear a word they said, so the ladies busy her in making broths and
caudles and such things, for all the sick poor in this and the next
parish, and two of us are fixed upon to carry what, they have made to
those that want them; to visit them often, and spend more or less time
with them every day according as they have, or have not relations to
take care of them; for though the ladies always hire nurses for those
who are very ill, yet they will not trust quite to them, but make us
overlook them, so that in a sickly time we shall be all day going from
one to another.'

'But,' said I, 'there are I perceive many children amongst you, how
happens that? Your ages shew they are not your own.'

'Oh! as for that,' replied my intelligencer, 'I will tell you how that
is. You must know these good ladies, heaven preserve them! take every
child after the fifth of every poor person, as soon as it can walk, till
when they pay the mother for nursing it; these children they send to us
to keep out of harm, and as soon as they can hold a knitting-needle to
teach them to knit, and to spin, as much as they can be taught before
they are four or five years old, when they are removed into one of the
schools. They are pretty company for us, and make us mothers again, as
it were, in our old age; then the children's relations are all so fond
of us for our care of them, that it makes us a power of friends, which
you know is very pleasant, though we want nothing from them but their
good wills.'

Here I interrupted her by observing, that it must take up a great deal
of time, and stop their work, consequently lessen their profits.

'There is nothing in that,' continued the good woman, 'the ladies'
steward sends us in all we want in the way of meat, drink and firing;
and our spinning we carry to the ladies; they employ a poor old weaver,
who before they came broke for want of work, to weave it for us, and
when there is not enough they put more to it, so we are sure to have our
clothing; if we are not idle that is all they desire, except that we
should be cleanly too. There never passes a day that one or other of the
ladies does not come and look all over our houses, which they tell us,
and certainly with truth, for it is a great deal of trouble to them, is
all for our good, for that we cannot be healthy if we are not clean and
neat. Then every Saint's day, and every Sunday after church, we all go
down to the hall, and the ladies read prayers, and a sermon to us, and
their own family; nor do they ever come here without giving us some
good advice. We used to quarrel, to be sure, sometimes when we first
came to these houses, but the ladies condescended to make it up amongst
us, and shewed us so kindly how much it was our duty to agree together,
and to forgive everybody their faults, or else we could not hope to be
forgiven by God, against whom we so often sinned, that now we love one
another like sisters, or indeed better, for I often see such quarrel.
Beside, they have taught us that we are generally in fault ourselves;
and we find now that we take care not to be perverse, our neighbours are
seldom in the wrong, and when they are, we bear with it in hopes they
will bear with us when we are as much to blame, which we may be sure
enough will happen, let us try ever so much to the contrary. Then the
ladies seem so pleased when we do any kindness to one another, as to be
sure is a great encouragement; and if any of us are sick they are so
careful and so good, that it would be a shame if we did not do all we
can for one another, who have been always neighbours and acquaintance,
when such great ladies, who never knew us, as I may say, but to make us
happy, and have no reason to take care of us but that we are poor, are
so kind and condescending to us.'

I was so pleased with the good effect which the charity of her
benefactors had on the mind, as well as the situation, of this old
woman, whose neighbours by her own account were equally benefited by the
blessings they received, that I should have stayed longer with her, if a
bell had not rung at Millenium Hall, which she informed me was a summons
to breakfast. I obeyed its call, and after thanking her for her
conversation, returned with a heart warmed and enlarged, to the amiable
society. My mind was so filled with exalted reflections on their virtues
that I was less attentive to the charms of inanimate nature than when I
first passed through the gardens.

After breakfast the ladies proposed a walk, and as they had seen the
course I took when I first went out, they led us a contrary way, lest,
they said, I should be tired with the repetition of the same scene. I
told them with, great truth, that what I had beheld could never weary,
for virtue is a subject we must ever contemplate with fresh delight,
and as such examples could not fail of improving every witness of them,
the pleasure of reflection would increase, as one daily grew more
capable of enjoying it, by cultivating kindred sensations. By some more
explicit hints they found out to what I alluded, and thereby knew where
I had been, but turning the conversation to present objects, they
conducted us to a very fine wood which is laid out with so much taste
that Lamont observed the artist's hand was never more distinguishable,
and perceived in various spots the direction of the person at present
most famous for that sort of improvement.

The ladies smiled, and one of them answered that he did their wood great
honour, in thinking art had lent her assistance to nature, but that
there was little in that place for which they were not solely obliged to
the latter. Miss Trentham interrupted her who was speaking and told us
that as she had no share in the improvements which had been made, she
might with the better grace assure Mr Lamont that Lady Mary Jones, Miss
Mancel, and Mrs Morgan were the only persons who had laid out that wood,
and the commonest labourers in the country had executed their orders.
Lamont was much surprised at this piece of information, and though he
would have thought it still more exquisitely beautiful had it been the
design of the person he imagined, yet truth is so powerful, that he
could not suppress his admiration and surprise. Every cut in it is
terminated by some noble object. In several places are seats formed with
such rustic simplicity, as have more real grandeur in them, than can be
found in the most expensive buildings. On an eminence, 'bosomed high in
tufted trees', is a temple dedicated to solitude. The structure is an
exquisite piece of architecture, the prospect from it noble and
extensive, and the windows so placed, that one sees no house but at so
considerable a distance, as not to take off from the solitary air, which
is perfectly agreeable to a temple declaredly dedicated to solitude. The
most beautiful object in the view is a very large river, in reality an
arm of the sea, little more than a quarter of a mile distant from the
building; about three miles beyond it lies the sea, on which the sun
then shone, and made it dazzlingly bright. In the temple is a picture of
Contemplation, another of Silence, two of various birds and animals, and
a couple of moonlight pieces, the workmanship of the ladies.

Close by the temple runs a gentle murmuring rivulet, which flows in
meanders through the rest of the wood, sometimes concealed from view,
and then appearing at the next turning of the walk. The wood is well
peopled with pheasants, wild turkeys, squirrels and hares, who live so
unmolested, that they seem to have forgot all fear, and rather to
welcome than flee from those who come amongst them. Man never appears
there as a merciless destroyer, but the preserver, instead of the
tyrant, of the inferior part of the creation. While they continue in
that wood, none but natural evil can approach them, and from that they
are defended as much as possible. We there 'walked joint tenant of the
shade' with the animal race; and a perfect equality in nature's bounty
seems enjoyed by the whole creation. One could scarcely forbear thinking
those happy times were come, when 'The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf, and the young
lion, and the fatling together, and a young child shall lead them. The
wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them, and the desert
shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.'

At the verge of this wood, which extends to the river I have mentioned,
without perceiving we were entering a building, so well is the outside
of it concealed by trees, we found ourselves in a most beautiful grotto,
made of fossils, spars, coral, and such shells as are at once both fine
and rustic; all of the glaring, tawdry kind are excluded, and by the
gloom and simplicity preserved, one would imagine it the habitation of
some devout anchoret. Ivy and moss in some places cover, while they seem
to unite, the several materials of the variegated walls. The rivulet
which runs through the wood falls down one side of the grotto with great
rapidity, broken into various streams by the spar and coral, and passing
through, forms a fine cascade just at the foot of the grotto, whence it
flows into the river. Great care is taken to prevent the place from
growing damp, so that we sat some time in it with safety, admiring the
smooth surface of the river, to which it lies very open.

As the ladies had some daily business on their hands which they never
neglect, we were obliged to leave this lovely scene, where I think I
could have passed my life with pleasure, and to return towards the
house, though by a different way from that we came, traversing the other
side of the wood. In one spot where we went near the verge, I observed a
pale, which, upon examination, I found was continued for some acres,
though it was remarkable only in one place. It is painted green, and on
the inside a hedge of yews, laurel, and other thick evergreens rises to
about seven or eight feet high. I could not forbear asking what was thus
so carefully enclosed. The ladies smiled on each other, but evaded
answering my question, which only increased my curiosity. Lamont, not
less curious, and more importunate, observed that the inclosure bore
some resemblance to one of Lord Lamore's, where he kept lions, tigers,
leopards, and such foreign animals, and he would be hanged, if the
ladies had not made some such collection, intreating that he might be
admitted to see them; for nothing gave him greater entertainment than to
behold those beautiful wild beasts, brought out of their native woods,
where they had reigned as kings, and here tamed and subjected by the
superior art of man. It was a triumph of human reason, which could not
fail to afford great pleasure.

'Not to us, I assure you, Sir,' replied Miss Mancel, 'when reason
appears only in the exertion of cruelty and tyrannical oppression, it is
surely not a gift to be boasted of. When a man forces the furious steed
to endure the bit, or breaks oxen to the yoke, the great benefits he
receive from, and communicates to the animals, excuse the forcible
methods by which it is accomplished. But to see a man, from a vain
desire to have in his possession the native of another climate and
another country, reduce a fine and noble creature to misery, and confine
him within narrow inclosures whose happiness consisted in unbounded
liberty, shocks my nature. There is I confess something so amiable in
gentleness, that I could be pleased with seeing a tiger caress its
keeper, if the cruel means by which the fiercest of beasts is taught all
the servility of a fawning spaniel, did not recur every instant to my
mind; and it is not much less abhorrent to my nature, to see a venerable
lion jumping over a stick, than it would be to behold a hoary
philosopher forced by some cruel tyrant to spend his days in whipping a
top, or playing with a rattle. Every thing to me loses its charm when it
is put out of the station wherein nature, or to speak more properly, the
all-wise Creator has placed it. I imagine man has a right to use the
animal race for his own preservation, perhaps for his convenience, but
certainly not to treat them with wanton cruelty, and as it is not in his
power to give them any thing so valuable as their liberty, it is, in my
opinion, criminal to enslave them in order to procure ourselves a vain
amusement, if we have so little feeling as to find any while others
suffer.'

'I believe madam,' replied Lamont, 'it is most advisable for me not to
attempt to defend what I have said; should I have reason on my side,
while you have humanity on yours, I should make but a bad figure in the
argument. What advantage could I expect from applying to the
understanding, while your amiable disposition would captivate even
reason itself? But still I am puzzled; what we behold is certainly an
inclosure, how can that be without a confinement to those that are
within it?'

'After having spoken so much against tyranny,' said Miss Mancel,
smiling, 'I do not know whether I should be excusable if I left you to
be tyrannized by curiosity, which I believe can inflict very severe
pains, at least, if I may be allowed to judge by the means people often
take to satisfy it. I will therefore gratify you with the knowledge of
what is within this inclosure, which makes so extraordinary an
impression upon you. It is, then, an asylum for those poor creatures who
are rendered miserable from some natural deficiency or redundancy. Here
they find refuge from the tyranny of those wretches, who seem to think
that being two or three feet taller gives them a right to make them a
property, and expose their unhappy forms to the contemptuous curiosity
of the unthinking multitude. Procrustes has been branded through all
ages with the name of tyrant; and principally, as it appears, from
fitting the body of every stranger to a bed which he kept as the
necessary standard, cutting off the legs of those whose height exceeded
the length of it and stretching on the rack such as fell short of that
measure, till they attained the requisite proportion. But is not almost
every man a Procrustes? We have not the power of shewing our cruelty
exactly in the same method, but actuated by the like spirit, we abridge
of their liberty, and torment by scorn, all who either fall short, or
exceed the usual standard, if they happen to have the additional
misfortune of poverty. Perhaps we are in no part more susceptible than
in our vanity, how much then must those poor wretches suffer, whose
deformity would lead them to wish to be secluded from human view, in
being exposed to the public, whose observations are no better than
expressions of scorn, and who are surprised to find that any thing less
than themselves can speak, or appear like intelligent beings. But this
is only part of what they have to endure. As if their deficiency in
height deprived them of the natural right to air and sunshine, they are
kept confined in small rooms, and because they fill less space than
common, are stuffed into chairs so little, that they are squeezed as
close as a pair of gloves in a walnut-shell.

'This miserable treatment of persons, to whom compassion should secure
more than common indulgence, determined us to purchase these worst sort
of slaves, and in this place we have five who owed their wretchedness to
being only three foot high, one grey-headed toothless old man of sixteen
years of age, a woman of about seven foot in height, and a man who would
be still taller, if the extreme weakness of his body, and the wretched
life he for some time led, in the hands of one of these monster-mongers,
did not make him bend almost double, and oblige him to walk on crutches;
with which infirmities he is well pleased, as they reduce him nearer the
common standard.'

We were very desirous of seeing this enfranchised company; but Mrs.
Morgan told us it was what they seldom granted, for fear of inflicting
some of the pains from which they had endeavoured to rescue those poor
creatures, but she would step in, and ask if they had no objection to
our admission, and if that appeared really the case she would gratify
us.

This tenderness to persons who were under such high obligations, charmed
me. She soon returned with the permission we wished, but intreated us to
pay all our attention to the house and garden, and to take no more than
a civil notice of its inhabitants. We promised obedience, and followed
her. Her advice was almost unnecessary, for the place could not have
failed of attracting our particular observation. It was a quadrangle of
about six acres, and the inward part was divided by nets into eight
parts, four of which alternatively were filled with poultry of all
sorts, which were fed here for the use of the hall, and kept with the
most exact cleanliness. The other four parts were filled with shrubs and
flowers, which were cultivated with great delight by these once
unfortunate, but now happy beings. A little stream ran across the
quadrangle, which served for drink to the poultry, and facilitated the
watering of the flowers. I have already said, that at the inward edge of
the pale was a row of evergreens; at their feet were beds of flowers,
and a little gravel walk went round the whole. At each corner was an
arbour made with woodbines and jessamine, in one or two of which there
was always an agreeable shade.

At one side of the quadrangle was a very neat habitation, into which a
dwarf invited us to enter, to rest ourselves after our walk; they were
all passing backwards and forwards, and thus gave us a full view of
them, which would have been a shocking sight, but for the reflections we
could not avoid making on their happy condition, and the very
extraordinary humanity of the ladies to whom they owed it; so that
instead of feeling the pain one might naturally receive from seeing the
human form so disgraced, we were filled with admiration of the human
mind, when so nobly exalted by virtue, as it is in the patronesses of
these poor creatures, who wore an air of cheerfulness, which shewed they
thought the churlishness wherewith they had been treated by nature
sufficiently compensated. The tender inquiries the ladies made after
their healths, and the kind notice they took of each of them, could not
be exceeded by any thing but the affection, I might almost say
adoration, with which these people beheld their benefactresses.

This scene had made too deep an impression on our minds not to be the
subject of our discourse all the way home, and in the course of
conversation, I learnt that when these people were first rescued out of
their misery, their healths were much impaired, and their tempers more
so; to restore the first, all medicinal care was taken, and air and
exercise assisted greatly in their recovery; but to cure the malady of
the mind, and conquer that internal source of unhappiness, was a work of
longer time. Even these poor wretches had their vanity, and would
contend for superior merit, of which the argument was the money their
keepers had gained in exhibiting them. To put an end to this contention,
the ladies made them understand that what they thought a subject for
boasting, was only a proof of their being so much farther from the usual
standard of the human form, and therefore a more extraordinary
spectacle. But it was long before one of them could be persuaded to lay
aside her pretensions to superiority, which she claimed on account of an
extraordinary honour she had received from a great princess, who had
made her a present of a sedan chair.

At length, however, much reasoning and persuasion, a conviction of
principles, of which they had before no knowledge, the happiness of
their situation, and the improvement of their healths, concurred to
sweeten their tempers and they now live in great harmony. They are
entirely mistresses of their house, have two maids to wait on them, over
whom they have sole command, and a person to do such little things in
their garden as they cannot themselves perform; but the cultivation of
it is one of their great pleasures; and by their extraordinary care,
they have the satisfaction of presenting the finest flowers of the
spring to their benefactresses, before they are blown in any other
place.

When they first came, the ladies told us that the horror they had
conceived of being exhibited as public spectacles had fixed in them such
a fear of being seen by any stranger, that the sound of a voice with
which they were not acquainted at the outside of the paling, or the
trampling of feet, would set them all a running behind the bushes to
hide themselves, like so many timorous partridges in a mew, hurrying
behind sheaves of corn for shelter; they even found a convenience in
their size, which, though it rendered them unwilling to be seen, enabled
them so easily to find places for concealment.

By degrees the ladies brought them to consent to see their head
servants, and some of the best people in the parish; desiring that to
render it more agreeable to their visitors, they would entertain them
with fruit and wine; advising them to assist their neighbours in plain
work; thus to endear themselves to them, and procure more frequent
visits, which as they chose to confine themselves within so narrow a
compass, and enjoyed but precarious health, their benefactresses thought
a necessary amusement. These recommendations, and the incidents
wherewith their former lives had furnished them to amuse their company,
and which they now could relate with pleasure, from the happy sense that
all mortifications were past, rendered their conversation much courted
among that rank of people.

It occurred to me that their dislike to being seen by numbers must
prevent their attendance on public worship, but my cousin informed me
that was thus avoided. There was in the church an old gallery, which
from disuse was grown out of repair; this the ladies caused to be
mended, and the front of it so heightened, that these little folks when
in it could not be seen; the tall ones contrived by stooping when they
were there not to appear of any extraordinary height. To this they were
conveyed in the ladies' coach and set down close to covered stairs,
which led up to the gallery.

This subject employed our conversation till we approached the hall; the
ladies then, after insisting that we should not think of going from
thence that day, all left us expect Mrs Maynard. It may seem strange
that I was not sorry for their departure; but, in truth, I was so filled
with astonishment at characters so new, and so curious to know by what
steps women thus qualified both by nature and fortune to have the world
almost at command, were brought thus to seclude themselves from it, and
make as it were a new one for themselves constituted on such very
different principles from that I had hitherto lived in, that I longed to
be alone with my cousin, in hopes I might from her receive some account
of this wonder. I soon made my curiosity known, and beseeched her to
gratify it.

'I see no good reason,' said she, 'why I should not comply with your
request, as my friends are above wishing to conceal any part of their
lives, though themselves are never the subject of their own
conversation. If they have had any follies they do not desire to hide
them; they have not pride enough to be hurt with candid criticisms, and
have too much innocence to fear any very severe censure. But as we did
not all reach this paradise at the same time, I shall begin with the
first inhabitants of, and indeed the founders of this society, Miss
Mancel and Mrs Morgan, who from their childhood have been so connected
that I could not, if I would, disunite them in my relation; and it would
be almost a sin to endeavour to separate them even in idea.'

We sat down in an arbour, whose shade invited us to seek there a defence
against the sun, which was then in its meridian, and shone with uncommon
heat. The woodbines, the roses, the jessamines, the pinks and above all,
the minionette with which it was surrounded, made the air one general
perfume; every breeze came loaded with fragrance, stealing and giving
odour. A rivulet ran bubbling by the side of the arbour, whose gentle
murmurs soothed the mind into composure, and seemed to hush us to
attention, when Mrs Maynard thus began to shew her readiness to comply
with my request.



THE

HISTORY

OF

Miss MANCEL

AND

Mrs MORGAN


You may perhaps think I am presuming on your patience when I lead you
into a nursery, or a boarding school; but the life of Louisa Mancel was
so early chequered with that various fate which gives this world the
motley appearance of joy and sorrow, pain and pleasure, that it is not
in my power to pass over the events of her infancy. I shall, however,
spare you all that is possible, and recommend her to your notice only
when she attracted the observation of Mr Hintman. This gentleman hearing
that a person who rented some land of him was come to London, and lodged
at one of those public houses which by the landlord is called an inn, at
the outskirts of London, on the Surrey side; and having some occasion to
speak to him, he went thither. The people of the house called the man Mr
Hintman enquired for, who immediately came downstairs, wiping tears from
his eyes; the continuance of which he could hardly restrain. Mr Hintman
asking the reason of those appearances of sorrow, the good-natured old
man told him, his visit had called him from a scene which had shocked
him excessively. 'The first day I came here' said he, 'I was induced by
the frequent groans which issued from the next chamber, to enquire who
lodged there; I learnt, it was a gentlewoman, who arrived the day
before, and was immediately taken so ill that they apprehended her life
in danger; and, about two hours ago, the maid of the house ran into my
room, begging me to come to her assistance, for the gentlewoman was in
such strong fits, she was not able to hold her. I obeyed the summons,
and found the poor woman in fits indeed; but what appeared to me the
last agonies of a life which, near exhausted, lavishes away its small
remains in strong convulsions.

'By her bedside stood the most beautiful child I ever beheld, in
appearance about ten years of age, crying as if its little heart would
break; not with the rage of an infant, but with the settled grief of a
person mature both in years and affliction. I asked her if the poor
dying woman was her mother; she told me, no--she was only her aunt; but
to her the same as a mother; and she did not know any one else that
would take care of her.

'After a time the poor woman's convulsions left her; she just recovered
sense enough to embrace the lovely girl, and cried out, Oh! my dear
child, what will become of you! a friendless, helpless infant; and
seeing me at her bedside, she lifted up her hands in a suppliant
posture; and with eyes that petitioned in stronger terms than words
could express, Oh! Sir, said she, though you are a stranger to me, yet I
see you are not so to humanity; take pity on this forlorn child; her
amiable disposition will repay you in this world, and the great Father
of us all will reward you in the next, for your compassion on a wretched
friendless girl! But why do I call her friendless? Her innocence has the
best of friends in heaven; the Almighty is a parent she is not left to
seek for; he is never absent;--Oh! blessed Lord! cried she, with a
degree of ecstasy and confidence which most sensibly affected us all, to
thy care I resign her; thy tender mercies are over all thy works, and
thou, who carest for the smallest part of thy creation, will not deny
her thy protection. Oh! Lord defend her innocence! Let her obtain a
place in thy kingdom after death; and for all the rest I submit to thy
providence; nor presumptuously pretend to dictate to supreme wisdom.
Thou art a gracious father and the afflictions thou sendest are.... Here
her voice failed her; but by her gestures we could perceive the
continued praying, and, having before taken the child in her arms the
little angel continued there for fear of disturbing her. By looks
sometimes turned towards the poor infant, and sometimes with her hand on
her own heart, and then her eyes lifted up as it were to heaven, we saw
she mixed prayers for the little mourner, with intercessions for
herself, till sense and motion seemed to fail her; she then fell into a
convulsion, and expired.

'The little girl perceived she was dead; and became almost as senseless
as the lump of clay which had so lately been her only friend. We had but
just taken her from the body, sir, when you came; and this was the
occasion of the emotions you observed in me.'

'The cause was indeed sufficient,' replied Mr Hintman, 'but I am glad
your sorrow proceeded from nothing more immediately concerning yourself.
Misery will strike its arrows into a humane heart; but the wounds it
makes are not so lasting, as those which are impressed by passions that
are more relative to ourselves.' 'Oh! sir,' said the old man, 'you
cannot form an adequate idea of the effect this scene must have on every
spectator, except you had seen the child! surely nature never formed so
lovely a little creature!' He continued his praises of Louisa, till at
length he excited Mr Hintman's curiosity; who expressing a desire of
seeing this miracle, he was carried up into the good man's room, to
which they had removed her. She, who had cried most bitterly before the
fatal stroke arrived, was now so oppressed, as not to be able to shed a
tear. They had put her on the bed, where she lay sighing with a heart
ready to break; her eyes fixed on one point, she neither saw nor heard.

Though her countenance expressed unutterable woe, yet she looked so
extremely beautiful, that Mr Hintman, highly as his expectation had
been raised, was struck with surprise. He allowed he never saw any thing
so lovely; and the charms of which her melancholy might deprive her,
were more than compensated in his imagination by so strong a proof of
extreme sensibility, at an age when few children perceive half the
dreadful consequences of such a misfortune.

He advised that she should be blooded, to prevent any ill effects from
so severe a shock; for as she felt it as strongly as one of a more
mature age, the same precautions should be used. In this he was obeyed;
and it gave her such relief that she burst into a flood of tears; a
change which appeared so salutary, that Mr Hintman would not immediately
interrupt her. But his curiosity did not suffer him long to forbear
asking her name, and many other particulars; several of which she could
not answer; all the account she was able to give of herself was, that
her name was Mancel, that the person for whom she grieved was her aunt;
but had had the sole care of her from her earliest remembrance. This
aunt, she said, had often told her she had a father and mother living;
but when she enquired why she never saw or heard from them she could get
no satisfactory answer, but was put off with being told they were not in
England; and that she should know when she grew older.

This person had bred her up with the utmost tenderness, and employed the
most assiduous care in her education; which was the principal object of
her attention. They had lived in a neat cottage in the most retired part
of Surrey from Miss Mancel's earliest remembrance, till her aunt, after
having been some time in a bad state of health, fell into a galloping
consumption. As soon as she apprehended the danger with which her life
was threatened, she prepared every thing for her removal to London; but
as she did not expect ever to return, this took more time than the
quickness of her decay could well allow. The hasty approach of her
dissolution affected her extremely on the account of her little niece,
and she often expressed her concern in terms intelligible to her who was
the occasion of it, who gathered from the expressions which fell from
her aunt, that the motive for the journey was to find out some of Miss
Mancel's relations, to whom she might deliver her before death had put
a period to her own life; and where she might safely remain till the
return of her parents into England.

In this resolution she discharged the only servant she kept, delivered
up her house to her landlord, and after having settled all her pecuniary
affairs, she set out on her journey with her little charge; but grew so
ill on the road that she desired to be set down at the first inn; and
her illness increased so fast she had no thought of removing; nor was
she able to make any very exact enquiries after the persons of whom she
came in search.

This account was interrupted with many tears, which served to render it
more affecting, and Mr Hintman, as much touched as the good old man who
was the occasion of his having heard it, agreed with him that it would
be proper to examine into the effects of which the deceased was then
possessed; and to see if they could find any paper which would in a
degree clear up the mysterious part of this affair.

This was accordingly performed; but as to the latter intention without
any success; for after all the examination they could make, they
remained as much in the dark as ever.

They found in her trunk rather more money than was requisite to bury her
in a manner becoming her rank; to defray the expenses of her sickness;
and to reward those that had attended her.

The old man expressed a willingness to take the child. He said it was a
legacy left him by one who had conceived some confidence in his
humanity, and he could not in conscience disappoint an opinion which did
him honour; though, having children of his own, he did not pretend to
breed her up in the genteel manner to which she seemed by birth
entitled.

Mr Hintman replied, that he should have great reason to reproach himself
if with the ample fortune he enjoyed, and having no children or family
to partake of it, he should suffer another to take that charge, to whom
it could not be so convenient; he therefore would immediately receive
her as his child; and see her educated in all accomplishments proper for
a young person of fashion and fortune; as he should be able to supply
all deficiency, if necessary, in the latter particular.

The old man was very glad to have the child better established than with
him; though he had for some hours looked with so much pleasure on her as
his adopted daughter, that no consideration, but the prospect of her
greater advantage, could have reconciled him to parting with her.

In pursuance of the resolution Mr Hintman had taken, he carried Miss
Mancel to a French boarding school which he had heard commended; very
prudently judging that his house was not a proper place for education,
having there no one fit to take care of a young person.

Louisa was so oppressed by the forlornness of her situation that she
felt none of that reluctance to going amongst strangers, so usual with
children of her age. All the world was equally unknown to her, therefore
she was indifferent where she was carried, only she rather wished not to
have been taken from the good old man whose venerable aspect, and
compassionate behaviour, had in some degree attached her to him; but she
felt the generosity of Mr Hintman's declared intentions; and, young as
she was, had too much delicacy to appear ungrateful by shewing an
unwillingness to accompany him. Mademoiselle d'Avaux, the mistress of
the school, was pleased with the appearance of her young scholar, whose
tears had ceased for some time; and her face bore no disfiguring signs
of sorrow; the dejection which overspread it giving charms equal to
those of which it robbed it.

Mr Hintman desired Mademoiselle d'Avaux to take the trouble of providing
Miss Mancel with all things requisite, and to put her in proper
mourning; those minute feminine details being things of which he was too
ignorant to acquit himself well; and gave strict charge that her mind
should be cultivated with the greatest care, and no accomplishment
omitted which she was capable of acquiring.

What contributed much towards gratifying this wish of Mr Hintman's was
Mademoiselle d'Avaux's house being so full, that there was no room for
Louisa, but a share of the apartment which Miss Melvyn had hitherto
enjoyed alone, and of which she could not willingly have admitted any
one to partake but the lovely child who was presented to her for this
purpose. Her beautiful form prejudiced everyone in her favour; but the
distress and sorrow which were impressed on her countenance, at an age
generally too volatile and thoughtless to be deeply affected, could not
fail of exciting a tender sensibility in the heart of a person of Miss
Melvyn's disposition.

This young lady was of a very peculiar turn of mind. She had been the
darling daughter of Sir Charles and Lady Melvyn, whose attachment to her
had appeared equal; but, in the former, it was rather the result of
habit and compliance with Lady Melvyn's behaviour than a deep-rooted
affection, of which his heart was not very susceptible; while Lady
Melvyn's arose from that entire fondness which maternal love and the
most distinguishing reason could excite in the warmest and tenderest of
hearts.

Sir Charles was an easy-tempered, weak man who gave no proof of good
sense but the secret deference he had to his wife's judgement, whose
very superior understanding was on nothing so assiduously employed as in
giving consequence to the man with whom she was united, by the desire of
her parents, contrary to her inclination. Their authority had been
necessary to reduce her to compliance, not from any particular dislike
to Sir Charles, who had deservedly the reputation of sobriety and great
good nature and whose person was remarkably fine; but Lady Melvyn
perceived the weakness of his understanding and, ignorant of the
strength of her own, was unwilling to enter into life without a guide
whose judgement was equal to the desire he might naturally be supposed
to have to direct her right, through all the various paths in which she
might be obliged to walk; an assistance she had always expected from a
husband; and thought even a necessary part of that character. She was
besides sensible of the difficulty of performing a promise so solemnly
made, as that of honour and obedience to one who, though she knew not
half her own excellence, she must be sensible was her inferior.

These reasons had deterred Lady Melvyn from marrying Sir Charles, but
when she could no longer avoid it without violating her duty to her
parents, she resolved to supply the apparent deficiencies in her
husband's understanding by a most respectful deference to his opinions,
thus conferring distinction on him whom she wished everyone to esteem
and honour; for as there was no affectation in this part of her conduct,
any more than in the rest of her behaviour, all were convinced that the
man who was respected by a woman of an understanding so superior to most
of her own sex, and the greatest part of the other, must have great
merit, though they could not perceive wherein it consisted.

In company Lady Melvyn always endeavoured to turn the conversation on
such subjects as she know were best suited to Sir Charles's capacity,
more desirous that he should appear to advantage than to display her own
talents. She contrived to make all her actions appear the result of his
choice, and whatever he did by her instigation seemed even to himself to
have been his own thought. As their way of life was in every
circumstance consonant to reason, religion, and every virtue which could
render them useful and respectable to others, Sir Charles acquired a
character in the neighbourhood which Lady Melvyn thought a sufficient
reward for the endeavours she used to secure it to him; and, for that
purpose, fixed her abode entirely in the country, where his conduct
might give him the respect which would not be so easily obtained in a
gayer scene, where talents are in higher estimation than virtue.

Sir Charles and Lady Melvyn had no other child than the daughter I have
mentioned, whose education was her mother's great care; and she had the
pleasure of seeing in her an uncommon capacity, with every virtue the
fondest parent could wish; and which indeed she had by inheritance; but
her mother's humility made them appear to her as a peculiar gift of
providence to her daughter.

Lady Melvyn soon began to instil all the principles of true religion
into her daughter's infant mind; and, by her judicious instructions,
gave her knowledge far superior to her years; which was indeed the most
delightful task of this fond parent; for her daughter's uncommon
docility and quick parts, continually stimulated by her tenderness for
the best of mothers, made her improve even beyond Lady Melvyn's
expectation.

In this happy situation Miss Melvyn continued till near the end of her
fourteenth year, when she had the misfortune to lose this excellent
parent, nor was she the only sufferer by Lady Melvyn's death; every poor
person within her knowledge lost a benefactress; all who knew her, an
excellent example; and, some, the best of friends; but her extraordinary
merit was but imperfectly known till after her decease; for she had made
Sir Charles appear so much the principal person, and director of all
their affairs; that till the change in his conduct proved how great her
influence had been, she had only shared the approbation, which,
afterwards, became all her own.

Human nature cannot feel a deeper affliction than now overwhelmed Miss
Melvyn; wherein Sir Charles bore as great a share, as the easiness of
his nature was capable of; but his heart was not susceptible, either of
strong or lasting impressions. He walked in the path Lady Melvyn had
traced out for him; and suffered his daughter to imitate her mother in
benevolent duties; and she had profited too much by the excellent
pattern, whereby she had endeavoured to regulate her actions, not to
acquit herself far beyond what could have been expected at her years.

Miss Melvyn was not long indulged in the only consolation her grief
could receive--that of being permitted to aim at an imitation of her
mother--for Sir Charles had not been a widower quite a year when he
married a young lady in the neighbourhood who had designed him this
honour from the hour of Lady Melvyn's death; and to procure better
opportunity for affecting her purpose had pretended a most affectionate
compassion for Miss Melvyn's deep affliction; she visited her
continually; and appeared so tenderly attached to her that Miss Melvyn,
who had neither experience nor any guile in her own heart to inspire her
with suspicions of an attempt to deceive her, made that return of
affection which she thought gratitude required; nor was she at all
disturbed when she found she was soon to look on this lady in another
light than that in which she had hitherto seen her; it was easy for her
to respect one whom she before loved; and she had been taught so true a
veneration for her father, that she felt no averseness to obey
whomsoever he thought proper to give a title to her duty.

Miss Melvyn had but very little time to congratulate herself on having
acquired for a mother a friend in whose conversation she hoped to enjoy
great satisfaction and to feel the tenderness of an intimate changed
into the fondness of a parent. She behaved to her with the same perfect
respect, and all the humility of obedience, as if nature had placed her
in that parental relation; fearing, if she gave way to the familiarity
which had subsisted between them when they were on an equality, it might
appear like a failure in the reverence due to her new situation.

But this behaviour, amiable as it was, could not make the new Lady
Melvyn change the plan she had formed for her future conduct. She had
not been married above a month before she began to intimate to Sir
Charles that Miss Melvyn's education had been very imperfect; that a
young lady of her rank ought to be highly accomplished; but that after
she had been so long indulged by her parents, if a step-mother were to
pretend to direct her it might not only exasperate Miss Melvyn but
prejudice the world against herself; as people are too apt to determine
against persons in that relation, without examining the merits of the
cause; and though, she said, she was little concerned about the opinion
of the world in comparison with her tender regard for any one that
belonged to him; yet she was much influenced by the other reasons she
had alleged for not appearing to dictate to Miss Melvyn, being very
desirous of keeping on affectionate terms with her; and she was already
much mortified at perceiving that young lady had imbibed too many of the
vulgar prejudices against a step-mother; though, for her part, she had
endeavoured to behave with submission to her daughter, instead of
pretending to assume any authority. The consequence and conclusion of
all these insinuations was, that 'it would be advisable to send Miss
Melvyn to a boarding school.'

Sir Charles was soon prevailed with to comply with his lady's request;
and his daughter was acquainted with the determination which Lady Melvyn
assured her, 'was very contrary to her inclination, who should find a
great loss of so agreeable a friend, but that Sir Charles had declared
his intention in so peremptory a manner that she dared not contend.'

Miss Melvyn had before observed that marriage had made a great
alteration in Lady Melvyn's behaviour; but this was a stroke she did not
expect and a very mortifying one to her who had long laid aside all
childish amusements; had been taught to employ herself as rationally as
if she had arrived at a maturer age, and been indulged in the exercise
of a most benevolent disposition, having given such good proofs of the
propriety with which she employed both her time and money, that she had
been dispensed from all restraints; and now to commence a new infancy,
and be confined to the society of children, was a very afflicting
change; but it came from a hand she too much respected to make any
resistance, though she easily perceived that it was entirely at her
mother's instigation; and knew her father too well to believe he could
be peremptory on any occasion.

A very short time intervened between the declaration and execution of
this design, and Miss Melvyn was introduced to Mademoiselle d'Avaux by
her kind step-mother, who with some tears and many assurances of regret
left her there. Miss Melvyn had been at this school three months when
Louisa Mancel was brought thither, and though a separation from a father
she sincerely loved, and the fear of the arts Lady Melvyn might use to
alienate his affections from her, after having thus removed her from his
presence, greatly affected her spirits and she found no companions fit
to amuse her rational mind, yet she endeavoured to support her
mortifications with all the cheerfulness she could assume; and received
some satisfaction from the conversation of Mademoiselle d'Avaux, a woman
of tolerable understanding, and who was much pleased with Miss Melvyn's
behaviour.

Miss Mancel's dejected air prejudiced Miss Melvyn much in her favour,
the usual consequence of a similitude of mind or manners; and when by a
further knowledge of her, she perceived her uncommon share of
understanding; her desire to learn; the strength of her application; the
quickness of her apprehension; and her great sweetness of temper, she
grew extremely fond of her; and as Miss Mancel's melancholy rendered her
little inclined to play with those of her own age, she was almost always
with Miss Melvyn, who found great pleasure in endeavouring to instruct
her; and grew to feel for her the tenderness of a mother, while Miss
Mancel began to receive consolation from experiencing an affection quite
maternal.

At the beginning of the winter, Lady Melvyn, who had less ambition to
imitate the real merit of her predecessor than to exhibit her own
imaginary perfections, brought Sir Charles to London, there to fix their
residence for the ensuing half year. This made little alteration in Miss
Melvyn's way of life. Sir Charles and his lady would sometimes call upon
her, the latter not choosing to trust Sir Charles alone with his
daughter, lest she should represent to him how unworthily she was
treated; but as he was not devoid of affection for her, he would
sometimes visit her privately, concealing it from his lady, who
endeavoured to prevent this, by telling him, that schoolmistresses were
apt to take amiss a parent's visiting his children too often, construing
it as a distrust of their care; and therefore if he offended in that
way, Mademoiselle d'Avaux's disgust might affect her behaviour to Miss
Melvyn, and render her residence there very disagreeable, which Lady
Melvyn's great tenderness made her ardently wish to avoid, as she was
desirous every thing should be agreeable to her dear daughter. Sir
Charles could not be entirely restrained by these kind admonitions from
indulging himself with the sight of Miss Melvyn.

His lady had little reason to be afraid of these interviews, for her
step-daughter had too strong a sense of filial obedience, and too
delicate a regard for her father's happiness, to suffer the least
intimation of a fault in his wife to escape her lips, as a good opinion
of her was so necessary to his ease; but as she soon found out these
visits were made by stealth, they gave her great pleasure as a plain
proof of his affection. Lady Melvyn thought her daughter's coming
abroad would be as hurtful as her being visited at home, and therefore
very seldom sent for her to her house; and when she did, took care to
have her carried home before the hour that she expected company, on
pretence of preserving the regularity of hours, which she knew would be
agreeable to Mademoiselle d'Avaux.

The true reason of this great caution was an unwillingness to be seen
with one whose person all her vanity could not prevent her from being
sensible was more attractive than her own. Miss Melvyn was very pretty,
had an engaging sweetness in her countenance, and all the bloom which
belongs to youth, though it does not always accompany it. Her person was
elegant, and perfectly genteel.

Lady Melvyn was void of delicacy; she had a regular set of features but
they wanted to be softened into effeminacy before they could have any
just pretence to beauty. Her eyes were black and not void of vivacity,
but they neither expressed penetration nor gentleness. Her person was
well proportioned, but she was formed on too large a scale, and
destitute of grace. She was not ill bred, but had none of that softness
of manners which gives rise to all the sweet civilities of life. In
short, Lady Melvyn was one who by herself and many others would be
esteemed a fine woman, and by many more ranked only under the
denomination of a shewey woman; like Mr Bayes's hero, she was unamiable,
but she was great; she excited the admiration of some, but pleased none.

As soon as she appeared in the world as Lady Melvyn, she began to
exercise what she thought only lively coquetry; but her entire want of
grace and delicacy often made that appear like boldness, which she
designed for vivacity. As her ambition to charm was as great as if she
had been better qualified for success, it is not strange that she did
not choose to give opportunities of comparison between herself and a
daughter who, though not so striking at first sight, was filled with
attractions.

The contempt which her ladyship thought she must in justice to her own
understanding shew for her husband's, and the supercilious coldness
with which she treated Miss Melvyn, made that young lady very glad that
she was so seldom sent for to her father's house. But she wished to
learn such accomplishments as whilst she lived in the country were out
of her power, and therefore intimated to Lady Melvyn her desire of being
taught music and drawing, with the better hope of success, as the
necessity of completing her education had been made the excuse for
sending her to a boarding school; but this request was denied her on
frivolous pretences, the real cause, when she perceived the very
extravagant turn of her step-mother, she soon understood was to avoid
expense.

She had flattered herself she might obtain permission to have her books
sent to her; but upon enquiry found that Lady Melvyn had removed them to
her dressing room, and intermixed them with china, in so ornamental a
manner, so truly expressive of the turn of her mind, where a pretended
love of reading was blended with a real fondness for trifles, that she
had no chance for this indulgence.

While Miss Melvyn was suffering all these mortifications from a parent,
Miss Mancel was receiving every proof of the most tender affection from
one bound to her by no paternal ties. Mr Hintman, as soon as the season
of the year brought him to town, visited his little charge, and was
charmed with the vivacity which was now restored to her. He called upon
her frequently, and seldom without some present, or a proposal of some
pleasure. He would continually entreat her to make him some request,
that he might have the pleasure of gratifying her. He frequently gave
Mademoiselle d'Avaux tickets for the play and the opera, that the young
Louisa might have somebody to accompany her; but as Miss Melvyn did not
think it proper at her age to go often with only her schoolmistress, or,
according to the language of schools, her governess, Miss Mancel
frequently declined being of the party, rather than leave her amiable
friend and instructor.

There was no one who shewed any particular civility to Miss Mancel, but
received some return from Mr Hintman. Miss Melvyn was very deservedly
the chief object of his gratitude; but as she declined accepting the
presents he offered her, he chose a way more agreeable to himself, as it
would make his little Louisa the rewarder of the favours she received.
He therefore was lavish of his money to her, and intreated her to lay it
out in such manner as would be most agreeable to herself and Miss
Melvyn; at the same time asking her by what means she could most gratify
that young lady.

Miss Mancel said she knew nothing that would be so acceptable to Miss
Melvyn as books. To this Mr Hintman replied that since that was the
case, he could very easily accommodate them, for he had by him a very
pretty library left him by his sister about a year before, which he had
never unpacked, having most of the same books in his own study.

This accordingly he sent to Miss Mancel, with proper bookcases to
contain them, which they immediately put up in their apartments. This
was the most agreeable acquisition imaginable; for Miss Hintman having
been a very sensible young lady, the collection was extremely valuable.

Mr Hintman's great indulgence could not fail of receiving from Miss
Mancel the wished-for return of affection and gratitude; whenever he
came she flew to him with delight, caressed him with all the fondness so
enchanting at that age, and parted from him with the extremest
reluctance. Her great obligations to him were the frequent subjects of
her discourse with Miss Melvyn, who had the highest admiration of his
generosity.

His allowance to Miss Mancel was sufficient to have defrayed all her
expenses, but those were to be the care of Mademoiselle d'Avaux, for the
money he gave Louisa was for no other purpose than her gratifications;
necessity, or even usefulness, was out of the question; every thing of
that kind being provided for her. Nor was he more sparing in what
concerned her education, she learnt dancing, music, and drawing; besides
other things generally taught at schools; but her greatest improvement
was from reading with Miss Melvyn, who instructed her in geography, and
in such parts of philosophy of which her age was capable: but above all,
she was most attentive to inculcate into her mind the principles of
true religion.

Thus her understanding opened in a surprising degree, and while the
beauty and graces of her person, and her great progress in genteel
accomplishments, charmed every eye, the nice discernment, and uncommon
strength of reason which appeared in her conversation, astonished every
judicious observer; but her most admirable qualities were her humility
and modesty; which, notwithstanding her great internal and external
excellencies, rendered her diffident, mild, bashful, and tractable; her
heart seemed as free from defects as her understanding was from the
follies which in a degree are incident to almost every other person.

Miss Melvyn and her little companion received a considerable increase of
happiness from the present of books Mr Hintman had made them; the latter
had no wish but that Miss Melvyn might receive equal indulgence from
parents that she enjoyed from one who bore no relation to her. The first
desire that occurred to her on Mr Hintman's profuse presents of money
was to treat her friend with masters for music and drawing, and such
other things as she knew she had an inclination to learn; but as she was
not unacquainted with her delicacy on that subject, as soon as Mr
Hintman left her, she ran to Miss Melvyn with some of the impatience in
her countenance, though she endeavoured to conceal it, with which her
heart was filled, and tried every tender caress, every fond and humble
petition, to obtain a promise from that young lady, that she would grant
her a request she had to make. She hung round her neck, and endeavoured
to prevail by a thousand engaging infantine arts; and when she found
they would not succeed, she knelt down before her, and with all the
grace and importunity of the most amiable suppliant, tried to win her to
compliance. Nothing would avail, for Miss Melvyn was convinced by her
earnestness that her design was to confer some favour; she knew the
generosity of her youthful mind too well to believe she so ardently
aimed at any thing that was for her own private gratification.

Thus Louisa found herself reduced to explain the use she intended to
have made of the promise she wanted to obtain; and having acquainted
Miss Melvyn with Mr Hintman's generous allowance, and of the payment she
had received of the first quarter, she in explicit terms told her, 'Mr
Hintman has indeed given me money, but it depends on you to make that
money yield me pleasure, by suffering me to apply it to such uses as
will procure me the inexpressible joy of contributing in some degree to
the pleasure of one who renders my life so very happy.'

Miss Melvyn was so pleased with the generosity of her little pupil that
she gave her as many caresses as the other had lavished on her in order
to obtain the promise she so much wished for; but she could not be
induced to grant her request. Miss Melvyn was void of that pride which
often conceals itself under the name of spirit and greatness of soul;
and makes people averse to receiving an obligation because they feel
themselves too proud to be grateful, and think that to be obliged
implies an inferiority which their pride cannot support. Had Louisa been
of the same age with herself, she would have felt a kind of property in
all she possessed; friendship, the tenure by which she held it; for
where hearts are strictly united, she had no notion of any distinction
in things of less importance, the adventitious goods of fortune. The
boundaries and barriers raised by those two watchful and suspicious
enemies, Meum and Tuum, were in her opinion broke down by true
friendship; and all property laid in one undistinguished common; but to
accept Miss Mancel's money, especially in so great a proportion,
appeared to her like taking advantage of her youth; and as she did not
think her old enough to be a sufficient judge of the value of it, she
did not look upon her as capable of being a party in so perfect a
friendship, as was requisite to constitute that unity of property.

Poor Louisa by this disappointment of the first wish of her heart found
what older people often experience, that her riches instead of pleasure
procured her only mortification. She could scarcely refrain from tears
at a refusal which she thought must arise from want of affection, and
told Miss Melvyn she saw that she loved her but imperfectly; for, added
she, 'Could we change places, with how much pleasure should I have
accepted it from you! And the satisfaction that learning these things
now gives me would be turned into delight by reflecting on the
gratification you would receive in having been the means of procuring
them for me. I should not envy you the joy of giving, because I as
receiver should not have the less share of that satisfaction, since by
reflecting on yours I must partake of it, and so increase my own.'

Miss Melvyn could not forbear blushing at finding a superior degree of
delicacy, and a generosity much more exalted, in one so young, than she
had felt in herself. She plainly saw that the greatest proof of a noble
mind is to feel a joy in gratitude; for those who know all the pleasures
of conferring an obligation will be sensible that by accepting it they
give the highest delight the human mind can feel, when employed on human
objects; and therefore while they receive a benefit, they will taste not
only the comforts arising from it to themselves, but share the
gratification of a benefactor, from reflecting on the joy they give to
those who have conferred it: thus the receiver of a favour from a truly
generous person, 'by owing owes not, and is at once indebted and
discharged.'

As Miss Melvyn felt her little friend's reproach, and saw that she had
done her injustice in thinking her youth rendered her incapable of that
perfection of friendship, which might justify the accepting of her
offer; she acknowledged her error, and assured her she would comply if
she had no other means of obtaining the instruction she proposed to
purchase for her; but that was not the case, for she found she could
very well learn from seeing the masters teach her, and practising in
their absence.

Mr Hintman expressed a desire that Miss Mancel should learn Italian, if
she had no objection to it; for he never dictated to her, but offered
any advice he had to give, or any inclination which he chose to
intimate, with the humility of a dependant, rather than the authority of
a benefactor; and indeed it was sufficient; for the slightest hint that
any thing would be agreeable to him, met with the most impatient desire
in Miss Mancel to perform it: actuated by sincere affection, and the
strongest gratitude, nothing made her so happy as an opportunity to shew
him the readiness of her obedience.

But as they were at a loss for a master to teach her that language, Miss
Melvyn told them she knew an Italian gentleman, who had been at Sir
Charles's house near two months before she had the misfortune of losing
the best of mothers. Lady Melvyn had begun to teach her daughter
Italian, but desirous that she should speak it with great propriety, she
invited this gentleman to her house who was reduced to great distress of
circumstances, and whose person, as well as his many virtues, she had
known from her childhood. He had been a friend of her father's and she
was glad of this excuse for making him a handsome present, which
otherwise it was not easy to induce him to accept.

Mr Hintman was not long before he procured this Italian master for Miss
Mancel; nor did she delay making use of his instructions; but I shall
not describe her progress in the acquisition of this, any more than her
other accomplishments, in all of which she excelled to a surprising
degree; nor did Miss Melvyn fall very short of her, though she was at
such disadvantage in her method of learning many of them, not having the
assistance of a master. Their time was so entirely engrossed by these
employments, that they had little leisure, and still less desire, to
keep company with the rest of the school; but they saved themselves from
the dislike which might naturally have arisen in the minds of the other
scholars, from being thus neglected, by little presents which Miss
Mancel frequently made them.

These two young ladies were very early risers, and the time which was
not taken up by Miss Mancel's masters, and that wherein it was requisite
to practise what they taught her, they employed in reading, wherein Mr
d'Avora, their Italian master, often accompanied them.

Mr d'Avora was a man of excellent understanding, and had an incomparable
heart. Misfortunes had softened common humanity into a most tender
disposition; and had given him a thorough knowledge of mankind without
lessening his benevolence for individuals; though such as learn it by
adversity, the surest school for that science, seldom see them in an
amiable light.

Mr d'Avora was not less acquainted with particular nations than with
mankind in general; he had travelled through all the countries in
Europe, some parts of Asia and Africa, and having traversed them with
discernment and the curiosity of wisdom, not of impertinence, he
received such improvement of understanding, as few travellers can boast.

He had an affection for Miss Melvyn, both for her own merits and the
obligations he had to her family, and a very short acquaintance with
Miss Mancel made him extremely fond of her. He took great pleasure in
assisting them in the improvement they so industriously laboured for,
and as he was a man of universal knowledge, he was capable of being very
useful to them in that respect. For this purpose he often read with
them, and by explaining many books on abstruse subjects, rendered
several authors intelligible to them, who, without his assistance, would
have been too obscure for persons of their age. He had very few
scholars, therefore had much leisure, and with great satisfaction
dedicated part of it to our young ladies, as he saw he thereby gave them
a very sincere pleasure; and he was much gratified with thinking that by
his care and instruction of Miss Melvyn, he made some return for the
friendship he had received from her family; and that could her mother be
sensible of his attendance on her much-loved and now neglected daughter,
it would be highly agreeable to her.

In the manner I have mentioned, these two young ladies passed their
time, till Miss Mancel reached her fifteenth year, with little
alteration, except the increase of her charms, and her great improvement
in every accomplishment. Her appearance began to grow womanly, she was
indeed

  'In the bloom of beauty's pride'.

Dazzlingly handsome at first view; but such numerous and various charms
appeared on a more intimate acquaintance that people forgot how much
they had been struck by the first sight of her, lost in wonder at her
increasing attractions, to the force of which she was the only person
that was insensible. Humble piety rendered her indifferent to
circumstances which she looked upon rather as snares than blessings, and
like a person on the brink of a precipice could not enjoy the beauty of
the prospect, overawed by the dangers of her situation.

She had indeed too much of human nature in her not to feel sometimes a
little flush of vanity on seeing herself admired; but she immediately
corrected the foible, by reflecting that whatever advantages of mind or
form had fallen to her share, they were given her by one who expected
she should not suffer her thoughts or attention to be withdrawn thereby
from him, who was the perfection of all excellence, while she at best
could but flatter herself with being less imperfect than many of her
fellow creatures.

She considered flattery and admiration as the rocks on which young
people, who are at all superior to the multitude, are apt to be wrecked;
deprived of quiet happiness in this world, and exalted felicity in the
next; and as she was really convinced that she had only a few obvious
external advantages over others, she opposed to the praises lavished on
her reflections of her imperfections, which, though not apparent to any
one but herself, she verily believed were uncommonly great, as she
beheld them with very scrutinizing and rigid eyes, while she looked on
those of others with the greatest lenity. But of all the means she used
to preserve her humility, she was the most assiduous in praying to him
who made her heart, to preserve it humble.

Though the degree of piety I mention may sound in the ears of many too
grave for so young a person, yet it by no means rendered her so; she had
great vivacity; a lively imagination; an uncommon share of wit; and a
very happy manner of expressing herself. She had all the amiable gaiety
of youth, without the least tendency to imprudence; and when she talked
most, and, in appearance, let fancy assume the reins, said nothing to
repent of. Her heart was all purity, universal benevolence and
good-nature; and as out of its abundance her mouth spake, she was in
little danger of offending with her tongue.

It is not strange that Mr Hintman's fondness should increase with Miss
Mancel's excellencies, but the caresses which suited her earlier years
were now become improper, and Mr Hintman, by appearing insensible of the
necessary change of behaviour, reduced her to great difficulties; she
could not reconcile herself to receiving them; and yet to inform him of
the impropriety implied a forward consciousness which she was not able
to assume.

She communicated the vexation of her mind to Miss Melvyn, who was still
more alarmed as her superior age and experience rendered her more
apprehensive; but she knew not what to advise.

In this dilemma Miss Melvyn had recourse to their good friend, whose
knowledge of mankind, his integrity and prudence, rendered him the
safest guide. Accordingly one day when Louisa was called from them to Mr
Hintman, who came to make her a visit, Miss Melvyn informed Mr d'Avora
of the reason why her friend obeyed the summons with less joy than he
had observed in her on the like occasion the year before.

Mr d'Avora was much disturbed at this information; but not choosing to
increase the uneasiness the young ladies seemed to be under till he had
more certain foundation for his opinion, he only intimated, that customs
were hard to break, but he should hope, that when Mr Hintman reflected
on the impropriety of behaving to a young woman as if she was still a
child, he would alter it, and if he was not immediately sensible of the
difference a small addition of age makes, yet her behaviour would lead
him to recollect it.

Although Mr d'Avora seemed to pay little regard to what Miss Melvyn
said, yet it made great impression on him, and as soon as he left her,
he took all proper measures to enquire into the character, and usual
conduct of Mr Hintman.

This scrutiny did not turn out at all to his satisfaction, every account
he received was the same; he had not the pleasure of finding what is
usually asserted, that 'all men have two characters'; for Mr Hintman had
but one, and that the most alarming that could be for Miss Mancel. Every
person told him that Mr Hintman had a very great fortune, which he spent
entirely in the gratification of his favourite vice, the love of women;
on whom his profuseness was boundless. That as he was easily captivated,
so he was soon tired; and seldom kept a woman long after he had obtained
the free possession of her; but generally was more bountiful than is
customary with men of his debauched principles at parting with them.

This, Mr d'Avora was assured, was Mr Hintman's only vice; that he was
good-natured, and generous on all occasions. From this account he saw
too great reason to fear, that all the care which had been taken to
improve Miss Mancel arose only from a sort of epicurism in his
predominant vice, but yet this was too doubtful a circumstance to be the
ground-work of any plan of action. A man of acknowledged generosity and
good-nature, however vicious, might do a noble action without having any
criminal design. In this uncertainty of mind he knew not what to advise
her, and was unwilling to excite such fears in the breasts of these two
young friends, as might be groundless; but yet would entirely destroy
their peace, therefore, he only told Miss Melvyn in general terms, that
Mr Hintman's character was such, as rendered it very necessary that
Louisa should be much on her guard; but that whether more than prudent
caution, and decent reserve were requisite, her own observation must
discover, for no one else could determine that point, since he had the
reputation of being generous as well as debauched; therefore his actions
towards her might be, and he hoped were, the result of his greatest
virtue, rather than of his predominant vice.

Miss Melvyn made a faithful report of what Mr d'Avora had said to her,
which filled both herself and her friend with inexpressible uneasiness.

Louisa was in great difficulty how to act, between gratitude and
affection on the one side, and necessary caution and reserve on the
other. She was almost as much afraid of appearing ungrateful, as of
being imprudent. She found little assistance from the advice of her
friends, who declared them selves incapable of directing her, therefore
she was obliged to lay aside all dependence on her own care, and to
trust in that of heaven, convinced that her innocence would be guarded
by that power who knew the integrity and purity of her heart; and that
while she preserved it unblemished, even in thought and inclination, her
prayers for his protection would not be unavailing.

The remainder of the winter passed like the former part, only that the
increase of her apprehensions so far lessened her easy vivacity, that Mr
Hintman observed the alteration, and complained of the constraint and
awe which damped her conversation.

As the school broke up at Easter, he intreated her to accompany him that
short time into the country, from which she would gladly have excused
herself, both on account of her fears, and of her unwillingness to leave
Miss Melvyn, of whose conversation she was now more particularly
tenacious, as Lady Melvyn had determined to suffer her to return home in
a short time, not knowing how to excuse her remaining longer at school,
as she was entered into her one and twentieth year. Miss Melvyn would
have been glad that her ladyship had not shewn this token of regard to
popular opinion; for since she had enjoyed Miss Mancel's company, and
been in possession of so good a collection of books, she was grown
perfectly contented with her situation.

Louisa, to make Mr Hintman desist from the request he urged with so much
importunity, tried every means that did not appear like a total
disinclination to accompany him, for any thing that bore the air of
ingratitude could not be supported by her, whose heart was so void of
it, and who thought she could never feel enough for her benefactor, if
his designs were not so criminal as she feared, but scarcely could
suffer herself to suspect.

Mr Hintman was too ardent in his purposes to give up his favourite
scheme, and Louisa beheld with inexpressible concern the day approach,
when she must either accompany him into the country, or disoblige him
for ever, and make herself appear extremely ungrateful in the eyes of a
man whom she loved and honoured like a father. Her addresses to heaven
for protection now became more vehement and continual, and the greatest
part of her time was spent on her knees in praying to that power in whom
she trusted. Miss Melvyn and Mr d'Avora were scarcely less anxious, or
under fewer apprehensions than herself, but could see no resource except
in the protection of the Almighty, to whom we seldom apply with entire
faith and resignation while we have any hopes in human assistance.

Two days before that fixed on for the purposed journey, when Louisa's
anxiety was risen to the utmost height, the schoolmistress entered the
room, with a countenance so melancholy, as was more suitable to the
situation of mind in which the two young friends were then in, than to
any reason they apprehended she could have for an air of so much sorrow.
She soon began a discourse, which they immediately apprehended was
preparatory to the opening of some fatal event, and which, as is usual
in such cases, was, if possible, more alarming than any misfortune it
could precede. The ladies expressed their fears, and begged to be
acquainted with what had befallen them. After considerable efforts to
deliver her of the secret with which she was pregnant, they learnt that
a gentleman was in the parlour, who came to inform Miss Mancel that Mr
Hintman died the day before in a fit of an apoplexy.

All Louisa's fears and suspicions vanished at once, and grief alone took
possession of her heart. The shock so entirely overcame her, that she
was not able to see the fatal messenger of such melancholy tidings as
the death of her benefactor, and second father. Miss Melvyn was obliged
to undertake this office, and learnt from the gentleman that Mr Hintman
died without a will, and therefore left the poor Louisa as destitute,
except being enriched by various accomplishments, as he found her, and
at a much more dangerous time, when her beauty would scarcely suffer
compassion to arise unaccompanied with softer sentiments. This gentleman
proceeded to inform Miss Melvyn, that his father and another person of
equal relation to Mr Hintman were heirs at law. He expressed great
concern for Miss Mancel, and wished he had his father's power of
repairing Mr Hintman's neglect, but that his influence extended no
farther than to obtain a commission to pay the expenses of another year
at that school, that the young lady might have time to recollect herself
after so fatal a change, and determine at leisure on her future course
of life.

Miss Melvyn was so sensibly touched at the prospect of the approaching
distress with which her friend was threatened, that she burst into tears
and uttered some exclamations concerning 'the inconsistency of that
affection, which could suffer a man to rest a moment without securing a
provision in case of death, to a young woman he seemed to love with the
greatest excess of tenderness'. 'Believe me, madam,' said the young
gentleman, 'Mr Hintman was capable of no love that was not entirely
sensual, and consequently selfish; all who knew him lamented the fate of
a young woman, who by every account is so superiorly lovely. Among his
friends he made no secret of his designs in all he had done for her, and
boasted frequently of the extraordinary charms which were ripening for
his possession. It was but two days ago, that he was exulting in the
presence of some of them, that the time was now approaching, when he
should be rewarded for long expectation, and boundless expense; for he
should then, he said, be sure of her person, and had long secured her
heart. He knew he had strong prejudices and strange scruples to combat;
but was prepared, and should not find them difficult to conquer; at
worst, his steward in a parson's habit would lull them all to sleep.'

'Good heaven!' cried Miss Melvyn, 'could there be such a wretch, and
were there men who would keep company with him, who would bear the
disgrace of being called his friends?'

'Your notions, madam,' replied the gentleman, 'are too refined for
persons who live in the world: should a man insist on strict morals in
all his acquaintance, he might enjoy a solitude in the most populous
city; though, I confess, nothing but ties of kindred could have made me
intimate with one of Mr Hintman's character, which I should not thus
have exposed to you, but as I imagined a better knowledge of the man
might alleviate the affliction you seemed to feel for Miss Mancel's
having lost one whom you esteemed so sincere a friend. I should have
been glad,' continued he, 'could I have seen the young lady, of whom Mr
Hintman told such wonders; but I will not presume to press it, time may
offer me some opportunity for satisfying my curiosity without paining
her, I therefore take my leave, with only requesting your permission to
remit the money of which I was made the bearer.'

Miss Melvyn was so much affected with her friend's situation, that she
took the paper the gentleman offered her, without having power to
reflect whether she ought to accept it, or being able to make him any
acknowledgement; and he retired directly. She was obliged to stay some
time to compose her spirits before she went to her friend, that she
might be the better able to comfort her. On examining the paper, she
found it a bank-note of an hundred pounds, which was now become all Miss
Mancel's fortune.

Lamont could not forbear interrupting Mrs Maynard in this place, by some
very severe reflections on Mr Hintman's having neglected to make a
provision for Miss Mancel in case of his death, which I believe was the
part of his conduct that to Lamont appeared most inexcusable; for though
he is too fashionable to think intriguing very criminal, yet he is
naturally generous, as far as money is concerned. 'I cannot think,'
replied my cousin, 'that Mr Hintman's behaviour in that particular can
be much wondered at. Death to such a man must be so dreadful an event,
that he will naturally endeavour to banish it from his mind, whenever it
attempts to intrude, and when a person takes so little care to make
provision for his own happiness after death, is it strange he should be
unmindful of what shall befall another after that fatal period? When a
man neglects his own soul, and deprives himself of all hope of
everlasting felicity, can we expect he should take any trouble to
provide for the temporal convenience of another person?

'Besides, could he, who aimed at reducing an innocent and amiable young
woman to guilt and infamy in this world, and eternal perdition in the
next, be under any concern lest she should fall into the lesser miseries
of poverty? It would have been an inconsistency in such a character.'

'You see gallantry in a very serious light, madam,' said Lamont.

'I do indeed, sir,' answered Mrs Maynard, 'I look on it as the most
dangerous of vices, it destroys truth, honour, humanity, it is directly
contrary to the laws of God, is the destruction of society, and almost
as inconsistent with morality as with religion.'

'I beg pardon, madam,' interrupted Lamont (who felt himself a little
touched with what she said), 'for breaking into your narrative, and must
beg you will continue it.'

Miss Melvyn, resumed Mrs Maynard, was too well acquainted with the
strength of Louisa's mind to think it necessary to conceal from her any
part of what had passed between herself and Mr Hintman's relation.

Louisa, much affected by Mr Hintman's dying, with a heart so unfit to
appear at the tribunal before which he was so suddenly summoned, thought
not immediately of herself; but when she reflected on the dangers she
had escaped, she blessed her poverty, since it was the consequence of an
event which delivered her from so much greater evils, and sent up many
sincere and ardent thanksgivings to heaven, for so signal a
preservation. These thoughts possessed our young friends for the first
three or four days after Mr Hintman's death; but then they began to
think it requisite to consult with Mr d'Avora, on what course of life it
was most advisable for Miss Mancel to enter. This was a difficult point
to determine; though her understanding and attainments were far superior
to her years, yet they were sensible her youth would be a great
impediment to her in any undertaking. Mr d'Avora therefore advised that
she should continue a little longer at the school, and then fix in the
most private manner imaginable for three or four years, by which time he
hoped to be able to establish her in some widow's family, as governess
to her children; for he told her she must not expect, while her person
continued such as it then was, that a married woman would receive her in
any capacity that fixed her in the same house with her husband.

As Miss Mancel had many jewels and trinkets of value, she had no doubt
but that with economy she might support herself for the term Mr d'Avora
mentioned, and even longer if requisite, as she could add to her little
fund by the produce of her industry. As Miss Melvyn's return home drew
near, it was agreed that she should seek out some place in Sir Charles's
neighbourhood where Louisa might lodge cheaply and reputably; and in the
mean time Mr d'Avora should dispose of whatever she had of value, except
her books and her harpsichord; these she resolved not to part with till
the produce of her other things, and the money she had by her, was
spent, as they would not only amuse her in the country, but afford her
the power of improving herself in those accomplishments which were to be
her future provision.

This plan softened the pangs of separation when the time of Miss
Melvyn's departure arrived. It was not long before she found out an
apartment at a reputable farmer's, where Miss Mancel might lodge
conveniently. Had it been a less tolerable place, its vicinity to Sir
Charles's house, from which it was but a quarter of a mile distant,
would have made it a very delightful abode to her, and she soon repaired
thither.

Great was the joy of the two friends at meeting. Miss Melvyn's situation
at home was rendered as irksome as possible by Lady Melvyn's behaviour
both to her and Sir Charles who, notwithstanding her ill treatment, was
extremely fond of, and totally guided by her. His mind was so entirely
enslaved that he beheld nothing but in the light wherein she pleased to
represent it, and was so easy a dupe, that she could scarcely feel the
joys of self triumph in her superior art, which was on no subject so
constantly exerted, as in keeping up a coldness in Sir Charles towards
his daughter; this she had with tolerable facility effected in her
absence, and was assiduously careful to preserve now she was present. To
those who know not the power an artful woman can obtain over a weak
man, it would appear incredible that any father could be prejudiced
against a daughter whose whole attention was to please him. She had so
perfect a command over her temper that she never appeared to take
offence at any thing Lady Melvyn said or did, though that lady
endeavoured by every provocation to throw her off her guard. This
behaviour only increased her hatred, which was not in the least abated
by Miss Melvyn's taking every opportunity of being serviceable to her
half-brothers and sisters. Lady Melvyn persuaded Sir Charles that his
daughter's calmness was only assumed in his presence, and continually
complained of her insolence when he was not by. If he ever appeared to
doubt the truth of her report, she would burst into tears, complain of
his want of love and little confidence in her, and sometimes thought
proper to shew her grief at such treatment by a pretended hysteric fit,
always ready at call to come to her assistance, though really so
unnecessarily lavished on one easily duped without those laborious
means, that it appeared a wantonness of cunning, which was thus exerted
only for its own indulgence. She soon perceived that Miss Melvyn rather
chose to submit to any aspersions, than to render her father unhappy by
undeceiving him; and taking advantage of this generosity, would
sometimes, to establish his opinion of her veracity, accuse Miss Melvyn
to her face of offences which she had never committed, and things she
had never said.

In such a situation the arrival of a friend, into whose sympathetic
bosom she could pour all her griefs, and in whose delightful society she
could forget them, was the highest blessing. But Lady Melvyn contrived
to make her feel mortifications even in this tenderest particular, for
though she was in her heart glad to have her out of the house, that she
might not be witness of much improper behaviour, yet she would sometimes
mortify herself in order to tease Miss Melvyn, by preventing her from
going to her beloved friend; and continually alleged her spending so
much time with Louisa as a proof of the aversion she had made Sir
Charles believe Miss Melvyn had to her.

Louisa felt deeply her friend's uneasiness, but when they were together
they could not be unhappy. They seldom passed a day without seeing each
other, but as Lady Melvyn had taken no notice of Louisa, she could not
go to her house, therefore their meetings were at her lodgings, where
they often read together, and at other times would apply to music to
drive away melancholy reflections. As Louisa wished to remain near her
friend as long as possible, she endeavoured, by taking in plain-work, to
provide for some part of her current expenses, the less to diminish the
little fund she had by her. She likewise employed part of her time in
painting, having reason to hope that if she could find a means of
offering her pictures to sale, she might from them raise a very
convenient sum. While she was thus contriving to enable herself to enjoy
for many years the conversation of her friend, Lady Melvyn was as
industriously laying schemes that, if successful, must disappoint all
the young ladies' hopes.

Towards the end of the autumn, Mr Morgan, a man of fortune who had spent
above half a year in a fruitless pursuit after health, made a visit to a
gentleman in the neighbourhood. Unfortunately Miss Melvyn's charms made
a conquest of this gentleman, in whom age had not gained a victory over
passion. Miss Melvyn's humility occasioned her being the last person who
perceived the impression she had made on his heart, and his age would
scarcely suffer her to believe her senses when the symptoms became most
apparent. A girl may find some amusement in a young lover, though she
feels no disposition in herself to return his passion, her vanity is
flattered by his addresses, and a woman must be very little disposed to
be pleased, who receives no pleasure from one who is continually
endeavouring to oblige and amuse her; but the most whimsical of the
poets never fancied a grey-bearded Cupid, or represented Hymen with a
torch in one hand, and a crutch in the other. I allow that

  'Oft the matrimonial Cupid,
  Lash'd on by time grows tir'd and stupid,'

and does not always wear that blooming joyous countenance, which the
painters give him; but should any capricious artist take the sickle out
of the hand of old Time, and in its place put Hymen's torch, the picture
might be thought very unnatural, yet would represent a proper hymeneal
Cupid to attend Mr Morgan to the altar.

Such a lover could excite no emotion in his mistress's heart but
disgust. Miss Melvyn's principles were too delicate to suffer her to
think she had any title to ridicule a man for his partiality to her,
however ill-suited to himself; but no consideration could prevent his
addresses from being extremely disagreeable: however, she could without
any great difficulty have so far commanded herself, as to have treated
him with complaisance, till he gave her an opportunity of rejecting his
courtship, had she not been apprehensive that this affair would give
Lady Melvyn a new subject for persecution. She was pretty certain that
lady would be glad to settle her in another county; and that her
averseness to so ill-suited a marriage would only serve as an additional
recommendation to her mother. She was indeed determined in justice to Mr
Morgan and compassion to herself, not to be induced by any solicitations
to marry a man whom she could not hope that even the strongest
attachment to duty could render so well as indifferent to her, but she
dreaded the means that might be taken to oblige her to accept Mr
Morgan's proposal.

Little did she guess what those means would be. She expected to be
attacked alternately with all the violence of passion, the affected
softness of dissimulation, and every art that cunning could devise, to
force Sir Charles to concur in her persecution. These indeed were
employed as soon as Mr Morgan made his proposals; but her ladyship had
too many resources in her fertile brain to persevere long in a course
she found unavailing. The farmer where Miss Mancel lodged had a son, who
was in treaty with Lady Melvyn for a farm, which at the end of the year
would become vacant. This person she thought fit for her purpose, as
Miss Melvyn's going so frequently to Miss Mancel might give some colour
to her invention. She therefore took care to be found by Sir Charles
drowned in tears; he pressed to know the occasion of her grief, but she
resisted his importunity in such a manner as could not fail to increase
it, still she declared, that she loved him to that excess she could not
communicate a secret which she knew must afflict him, even though the
suppression and inward preyings of her sorrow should prove fatal to her
life.

Sir Charles now on his knees intreated her to acquaint him with the
misfortune she endeavoured to conceal, assuring her, that nothing could
give him so much concern as seeing her in that condition. She told him
she was sensible, that as his wife it was her duty to obey him (a duty
newly discovered, or at least newly performed by her ladyship); but she
feared she had not strength left to give it utterance. The endeavour
threw her into a hysteric fit, which was succeeded by so many others
that Sir Charles was almost frantic with his fears for so tender a wife,
who was thus reduced to the last agonies by her affectionate
apprehensions of giving him pain.

After rubbing her hands and feet till they were sore, suffocating her
with burnt feathers, and half poisoning her with medicines, Sir Charles
and her servants so far brought her to life that after sending her
attendants out of the room, she had just power to tell him she had
discovered an intrigue between his daughter and Simon the young farmer,
and then immediately sunk into another fit, which however did not last
so long; for as she had removed the heavy burden off her mind, she soon
began to recover.

Sir Charles was very much shocked at what Lady Melvyn told him, but
could not doubt the reality of the fact when he had seen the very
violent effect it had had on his tender wife. He asked her advice how to
proceed; and it was soon determined that it was necessary, either to
oblige Miss Melvyn to marry Mr Morgan directly, or to disclaim her for
ever, and remove the disgrace of so infamous a conduct as far from
themselves as possible. With this resolution she was to be immediately
acquainted.

Miss Melvyn was accordingly called in, and bitterly reproached by Sir
Charles; to which my lady added frequent lamentations that she should
so far forget herself, and disgrace so worthy a family, interspersing
with them many expressions of the undeserved tenderness she had always
had for her, and her great confidence in Miss Melvyn's prudence and
virtue, shedding tears for her having so unhappily swerved from them.

As all this passed for some time in general terms, Miss Melvyn was in
doubt whether she or her parents had lost their senses; convinced there
must be distraction on one side or the other. As soon as she could
recover her surprise, she begged to know what crime she had committed.
Her astonishment was still increased by the answer she received, which
was an accusation of this strange intrigue; and her frequent visits to
Miss Mancel were brought as proofs of it. The submissive and mild temper
which had hitherto most strongly characterized her, vanished at so
injurious a charge and she denied the fact with that true spirit which
innocence inspires. She told Lady Melvyn, that though she had hitherto
silently submitted to all her ill usage, yet it was her duty to repel an
injury like this, and when her reputation was so cruelly aspersed, it
would be criminal to suffer the vile inventors to pass unexposed. She
insisted on being confronted with her accusers, a privilege allowed to
the greatest criminals, and by the severest judges, therefore surely
could not be refused by a father to a daughter, on a charge so highly
improbable, and for which no lightness in her conduct ever gave the
least ground.

As Mrs Maynard was in this part of her narrative a bell rang, which
informed us that dinner was ready, and we were unwillingly obliged to
postpone the continuation of the history of the two young friends, till
a more convenient opportunity.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the afternoon before we rose from table, four ladies came to drink
tea with this admirable society. No addition was necessary to render the
conversation amusing; but the strangers seemed to look on the ladies of
the house with such gratitude and veneration, and were treated by them
with so much friendly politeness, as gave me pleasure. I found by the
various enquiries after different persons that these visitors likewise
lived in a large society. When they rose up to take leave Miss Trentham
proposed to walk part of the way home with them. No one objected to it,
for the evening was inviting, and they had designed to spend it in the
park, through which these ladies were to pass; for Lady Mary observed,
that after having shewn us the beauties of the place, they ought to
exhibit the riches of it.

The park is close to one side of the house; it is not quite three miles
round; the inequality of the ground much increases its beauty, and the
timber is remarkably fine. We could plainly perceive it had been many
years in the possession of good economists, who unprompted by necessity,
did not think the profit that might arise from the sale a sufficient
inducement to deprive it of some fine trees, which are now decaying, but
so happily placed, that they are made more venerable and not less
beautiful by their declining age. This park is much ornamented by two or
three fine pieces of water; one of them is a very noble canal, so
artfully terminated by an elegant bridge, beyond which is a wood, that
it there appears like a fine river vanishing from the eye.

Mrs Morgan stopped us in one spot, saying, from hence, as Lady Mary
observed, you may behold our riches, that building (pointing to what we
thought a pretty temple) which perhaps you imagine designed only for
ornament or pleasure, is a very large pidgeon house, that affords a
sufficient supply to our family, and many of our neighbours. That hill
on your right-hand is a warren, prodigiously stocked with rabbits; this
canal, and these other pieces of water, as well as the river you saw
this morning, furnish our table with a great profusion of fish. You will
easily believe from the great number of deer you see around us, that we
have as much venison as we can use, either in presents to our friends,
or our own family. Hares and all sorts of game likewise abound here; so
that with the help of a good dairy, perhaps no situation ever more amply
afforded all the necessaries of life. These are indeed our riches; here
we have almost every thing we can want, for a very small proportion of
that expense which others are at to procure them. 'Such a situation,'
said I, 'would be dangerous to many people, for if, as some have
supposed, and, in regard to a great part of the world, I fear with
truth, mutual wants are the great bands of society, a person thus
placed, would be in danger of feeling himself so independent a being as
might tempt him to disclaim all commerce with mankind, since he could
not be benefited by them. He would look on himself in the light of a
rich man gaming with sharpers, with a great probability of losing, and a
certainty of never being a gainer.'

'I do not think the danger,' replied Lady Mary, 'so great as you
imagine, even though we allow that society arises from the motive you
mention. However fortune may have set us above any bodily wants, the
mind will still have many which would drive us into society. Reason
wishes for communication and improvement; benevolence longs for objects
on which to exert itself; the social comforts of friendship are so
necessary to our happiness that it would be impossible not to endeavour
to enjoy them. In sickness the langour of our minds makes us wish for
the amusements of conversation; in health the vivacity of our spirits
leads us to desire it. To avoid pain we seek after corporeal
conveniencies, to procure pleasure we aim at mental enjoyments; and I
believe, if we observe the general course of men's actions, we shall see
them at least as strongly actuated by the desire of pleasure, as by the
fear of pain; though philosophers, who have formed their judgements more
on reason than the knowledge of mankind, may have thought otherwise.'

'I think,' said Mrs Morgan, 'somebody has asserted that he who could
live without society must be more than a God, or less than a man; the
latter part of this assertion would have held good had he carried it
farther, and said lower than a brute, for there is no creature in the
universe that is not linked into some society, except we allow the
existence of that exploded and unsociable bird the Phoenix.'

'I am surprised,' interrupted Lamont, 'to hear ladies, who seclude
themselves from the world in this solitary though beautiful place, so
strongly plead for society.'

'Do you then,' replied Miss Mancel, 'mistake a crowd for society? I know
not two things more opposite. How little society is there to be found in
what you call the world? It might more properly be compared to that
state of war, which Hobbes supposes the first condition of mankind. The
same vanities, the same passions, the same ambition, reign in almost
every breast; a constant desire to supplant, and a continual fear of
being supplanted, keep the minds of those who have any views at all in a
state of unremitted tumult and envy; and those who have no aim in their
actions are too irrational to have a notion of social comforts. The
love, as well as the pleasures, of society, is founded in reason, and
cannot exist in those minds which are filled with irrational pursuits.
Such indeed might claim a place in the society of birds and beasts,
though few would deserve to be admitted amongst them, but that of
reasonable beings must be founded in reason. What I understand by
society is a state of mutual confidence, reciprocal services, and
correspondent affections; where numbers are thus united, there will be a
free communication of sentiments, and we shall then find speech, that
peculiar blessing given to man, a valuable gift indeed; but when we see
it restrained by suspicion, or contaminated by detraction, we rather
wonder that so dangerous a power was trusted with a race of beings who
seldom make a proper use of it.

'You will pity us perhaps because we have no cards, no assemblies, no
plays, no masquerades, in this solitary place. The first we might have
if we chose it, nor are they totally disclaimed by us; but while we can
with safety speak our own thoughts, and with pleasure read those of
wiser persons, we are not likely to be often reduced to them. We wish
not for large assemblies, because we do not desire to drown conversation
in noise; the amusing fictions of dramatic writers are not necessary
where nature affords us so many real delights; and as we are not afraid
of shewing our hearts, we have no occasion to conceal our persons, in
order to obtain either liberty of speech or action.'

'What a serious world should we have, madam,' replied Lamont, 'if you
were to regulate our conduct!'

'By no means, sir,' answered Miss Mancel, 'I wish to make only these
alterations, to change noise for real mirth, flutter for settled
cheerfulness, affected wit for rational conversation; and would but have
that degree of dissipation banished which deprives people of time for
reflection on the motives for, and consequences of, their actions, that
their pleasures may be real and permanent, and followed neither by
repentance nor punishment. I would wish them to have leisure to consider
by whom they were sent into the world, and for what purpose, and to
learn that their happiness consists in fulfilling the design of their
Maker, in providing for their own greatest felicity, and contributing
all that is in their power to the convenience of others.'

'You seem, madam,' answered Lamont, 'to choose to make us all slaves to
each other.'

'No, sir,' replied Miss Mancel, 'I would only make you friends. Those
who are really such are continually endeavouring to serve and oblige
each other; this reciprocal communication of benefits should be
universal, and then we might with reason be fond of this world.'

'But,' said Lamont, 'this reciprocal communication is impossible; what
service can a poor man do me? I may relieve him, but how can he return
the obligation?'

'It is he,' answered Miss Mancel, 'who first conferred it, in giving you
an opportunity of relieving him. The pleasure he has afforded you, is as
far superior to the gratification you have procured him, as it is more
blessed to give than to receive. You will perhaps say of him, as the
apothecary in _Romeo and Juliet_ does of himself and tell me that,

  "His poverty and not his will consents."

'So let it be, and do you

  "Pay his poverty and not his will."

'But certainly the highest satisfaction is on your side, and much
obliged you are to that poverty, which enables you to obtain so great a
gratification. But do not think the poor can make no adequate return.
The greatest pleasure this world can give us is that of being beloved,
but how should we expect to obtain love without deserving it? Did you
ever see any one that was not fond of a dog that fondled him? Is it then
possible to be insensible to the affection of a rational being?'

'If Mr Lamont,' said one of the visitors, 'has not so high a sense of
the pleasure of being gratefully loved and esteemed, we ought not to
blame him; he, perhaps, like the greatest part of the world, has not
sufficiently tried it, to be a proper judge; Miss Mancel is certainly
very deep in this knowledge, and her opinion may be received as almost
an infallible decision, since it is founded on long experience; and how
nobly does she calm the eager wishes of impotent gratitude, in declaring
herself to be the most benefited when she confers obligations.'

This was uttered with so much warmth, and accompanied by looks so
expressive of affection and grateful sensibility, that I plainly saw it
proceeded from something more than mere speculative approbation. Lamont
declared, that he was well convinced of the justness of what Miss Mancel
had said; at first it appeared rather a sentiment uttered in sport than
an opinion which could be proved by argument; but that a little
reflection on one's own sensations would afford sufficient conviction of
the truth of her assertion, and that the general errors in the conduct
of mankind plainly evinced they were of the same opinion, though they
often mistook the means; for what, continued he, do people ruin
themselves by pomp and splendour, hazard their lives in the pursuits of
ambition, and, as Shakespeare says,

  'Seek the bubble reputation even in the cannon's mouth.'

But to gain popular applause and esteem? For what do others throw away
their time in useless civilities, and politely flatter all they meet,
but in hopes of pleasing? Even those who make it their business to
slander merit, and exaggerate the faults of others, do it from a desire
of raising themselves in the opinion of mankind, by lowering those who
may be brought into comparison with them.

During this conversation we had advanced within a field of the house,
and the ladies stopped to take their leave, saying, as the evening was
too far advanced to suffer them to make any stay with their good
friends, they would not disturb them by just entering their doors. But
as some parley ensued, several ladies who had seen us from the windows
ran out, just to pay their compliments to the worthy inhabitants of
Millenium Hall. The pleasure of this short meeting seemed reciprocal,
and both sides appeared unwilling to part, but the setting sun
admonished us to return.

The house to which we had so nearly approached was a very large old
mansion, and its inhabitants so numerous, that I was curious to know how
so many became assembled together. Mrs Maynard said that if she did not
satisfy my inquiries, I was in great danger of remaining ignorant of the
nature of that society, as her friends would not be easily prevailed
with to break silence on that subject.

'These ladies,' said she, 'long beheld with compassion the wretched fate
of those women, who from scantiness of fortune, and pride of family, are
reduced to become dependent, and to bear all the insolence of wealth
from such as will receive them into their families; these, though in
some measure voluntary slaves, yet suffer all the evils of the severest
servitude, and are, I believe, the most unhappy part of the creation.
Sometimes they are unqualified to gain a maintenance, educated as is
called, genteelly, or in other words idly, they are ignorant of every
thing that might give them superior abilities to the lower rank of
people, and their birth renders them less acceptable servants to many,
who have not generosity enough to treat them as they ought, and yet do
not choose while they are acting the mistress, perhaps too haughtily, to
feel the secret reproaches of their own hearts. Possibly pride may still
oftener reduce these indigent gentlewomen into this wretched state of
dependence, and therefore the world is less inclined to pity them; but
my friends see human weakness in another light.

'They imagine themselves too far from perfection to have any title to
expect it in others, and think that there are none in whom pride is so
excusable as in the poor, for if there is the smallest spark of it in
their compositions, and who is entirely free from it, the frequent
neglects and indignities they meet with must keep it continually alive.
If we are despised for casual deficiencies, we naturally seek in
ourselves for some merit, to restore us to that dignity in our own eyes
which those humiliating mortifications would otherwise debase. Thus we
learn to set too great a value on what we still possess, whether
advantages of birth, education, or natural talents; any thing will serve
for a resource to mortified pride; and as every thing grows by
opposition and persecution, we cannot wonder if the opinion of ourselves
increases by the same means.

'To persons in this way of thinking, the pride which reduces many to be,
what is called with too little humanity, toad-eaters, does not render
them unworthy of compassion. Therefore for the relief of this race they
bought that large mansion.

'They drew up several regulations, to secure the peace and good order of
the society they designed to form, and sending a copy of it to all their
acquaintance, told them that any gentleman's daughter, whose character
was unblemished, might, if she desired it, on those terms be received
into that society.'

I begged, if it was not too much trouble, to know what the regulations
were.

'The first rule,' continued Mrs Maynard, 'was that whoever chose to take
the benefit of this asylum, for such I may justly call it, should
deposit in the hands of a person appointed for that purpose, whatever
fortune she was mistress of, the security being approved by her and her
friends, and remaining in her possession. Whenever she leaves the
society, her fortune should be repaid her, the interest in the mean time
being appropriated to the use of the community. The great design of this
was to preserve an exact equality between them; for it was not expected
that the interest of any of their fortunes should pay the allowance they
were to have for their clothes. If any appeared to have secreted part of
her fortune she should be expelled from the society.

'Secondly, each person to have a bed-chamber to herself, but the
eating-parlour and drawing-room in common.

'Thirdly, all things for rational amusement shall be provided for the
society; musical instruments, of whatever sort they shall choose, books,
tents for work, and in short conveniences for every kind of employment.

'Fourthly, they must conform to very regular hours.

'Fifthly, a housekeeper will be appointed to manage the household
affairs, and a sufficient number of servants provided.

'Sixthly, each person shall alternately, a week at a time, preside at
the table, and give what family orders may be requisite.

'Seventhly, twenty-five pounds a year shall be allowed to each person
for her clothes and pocket expenses.

'Eighthly, their dress shall be quite plain and neat, but not particular
nor uniform.

'Ninthly, the expenses of sickness shall be discharged by the
patronesses of this society.

'Tenthly, if any one of the ladies behaves with imprudence she shall be
dismissed, and her fortune returned; likewise if any should by
turbulence or pettishness of temper disturb the society, it shall be in
the power of the rest of them to expel her; a majority of three parts of
the community being for the expulsion, and this to be performed by
ballotting.

'Eleventhly, a good table and every thing suitable to the convenience of
a gentlewoman, shall be provided.

'These were the principal articles; and in less than two months a dozen
persons of different ages were established in the house, who seemed
thoroughly delighted with their situation. At the request of one of
them, who had a friend that wished to be admitted, an order was soon
added, by the consent of all, that gave leave for any person who would
conform exactly to the rules of the house, to board there for such
length of time as should be agreeable to herself and the society, for
the price of a hundred pounds a year, fifty for any child she might
have, twenty for a maidservant, and thirty for a man.

'The number of this society is now increased to thirty, four ladies
board there, one of whom has two children, and there are five young
ladies, the eldest not above twelve years old, whose mothers being
dead, and their families related to some of the society, their kinswomen
have undertaken their education; these likewise pay a hundred pounds a
year each. It has frequently happened, that widow ladies have come into
this society, till their year of deep mourning was expired.

'With these assistances the society now subsists with the utmost plenty
and convenience, without any additional expense to my good friends,
except a communication of what this park affords; as our steward
provides them with every thing, and has the entire direction of the
household affairs, which he executes with the most sensible economy.'

I should imagine, said I, it were very difficult to preserve a
comfortable harmony among so many persons, and consequently such variety
of tempers?

'Certainly,' answered Mrs Maynard, 'it is not without its difficulties.
For the first year of this establishment my friends dedicated most of
their time and attention to this new community, who were every day
either at the hall, or these ladies with them, endeavouring to cultivate
in this sisterhood that sort of disposition which is most productive of
peace. By their example and suggestions (for it is difficult to give
unreserved advice where you may be suspected of a design to dictate), by
their examples and suggestions therefore, they led them to industry, and
shewed it to be necessary to all stations, as the basis of almost every
virtue. An idle mind, like fallow ground, is the soil for every weed to
grow in; in it vice strengthens, the seed of every vanity flourishes
unmolested and luxuriant; discontent, malignity, ill humour, spread far
and wide, and the mind becomes a chaos which it is beyond human power to
call into order and beauty. This therefore my good friends laboured to
expel from their infant establishment. They taught them that it was the
duty of every person to be of service to others. That those whose hands
and minds were by the favours of fortune exempt from the necessary of
labouring for their own support, ought to be employed for such as are
destitute of these advantages. They got this sisterhood to join with
them in working for the poor people, in visiting, in admonishing, in
teaching them wherever their situations required these services. Where
they found that any of these ladies had a taste for gardening, drawing,
music, reading, or any manual or mental art, they cultivated it,
assisted them in the pleasantest means, and by various little schemes
have kept up these inclinations with all the spirit of pursuit which is
requisite to preserve most minds from that state of languidness and
inactivity whereby life is rendered wearisome to those who have never
found it unfortunate.

'By some regulations made as occasions occurred, all burdensome forms
are expelled. The whole society indeed must assemble at morning and
evening prayers, and at meals, if sickness does not prevent, but every
other ceremonious dependence is banished; they form into different
parties of amusement as best suit their inclinations, and sometimes when
we go to spend the afternoon there, we shall find a party at cards in
one room, in another some at work, while one is reading aloud, and in a
separate chamber a set joining in a little concert, though none of them
are great proficients in music; while two or three shall be retired into
their own rooms, some go out to take the air, for it has seldom happened
to them to have less than two boarders at a time who each keep an
equipage; while others shall be amusing themselves in the garden, or
walking in the very pleasant meadows which surround their house.

'As no one is obliged to stay a minute longer in company than she
chooses, she naturally retires as soon as it grows displeasing to her,
and does not return till she is prompted by inclination, and
consequently well disposed to amuse and be amused. They live in the very
strict practice of all religious duties; and it is not to be imagined
how much good they have done in the neighbourhood; how much by their
care the manners of the poorer people are reformed, and their
necessities relieved, though without the distribution of much money; I
say much, because, small as their incomes are, there are many who impart
out of that little to those who have much less.

'Their visits to us are frequent, and we are on such a footing that they
never impede any of our employments. My friends always insisted when
they waited on the community, that not one of the sisterhood should
discontinue whatever they found her engaged in; this gave them the hint
to do the same by us, and it is a rule that no book is thrown aside, no
pen laid down at their entrance. There are always some of us manually
employed, who are at leisure to converse, and if the visit is not very
short, part of it is generally spent in hearing one of the girls read
aloud, who take it by turns through a great part of the day; the only
difference made for this addition to the company is a change of books,
that they may not hear only part of a subject, and begin by a broken
thread. Thus they give no interruption, and therefore neither trouble
us, nor are themselves scrupulous about coming, so that few days pass
without our seeing some of them, though frequently only time enough to
accompany us in our walks, or partake of our music.'

'Have you not,' said Lamont, 'been obliged to expel many from the
community? Since you do not allow petulancy of temper, nor any lightness
of conduct, I should expect a continual revolution.'

'By no means,' answered Mrs Maynard, 'since the establishment of the
community there has been but one expelled; and one finding she was in
danger of incurring the same sentence, and I believe inwardly disgusted
with a country life, retired of her own free choice. Some more have
rendered themselves so disagreeable, that the question has been put to
the ballot; but the fear of being dismissed made them so diligent to get
the majority on their side, before the hour appointed for decision
arrived, that it has been determined in their favour, and the earnest
desire not to be brought into the same hazard again has induced them to
mend their tempers, and some of these are now the most amiable people in
the whole community.

'As for levity of conduct they are pretty well secured from it, by being
exposed to few temptations in this retired place.

'Some, as in the course of nature must happen, have died, and most of
them bequeathed what little they had towards constituting a fund for the
continuation of the community. More of them have married; some to
persons who knew them before, others to gentlemen in the neighbourhood,
or such as happened to come into it; to whom their admirable conduct
recommended them.'

I could not help exclaiming, 'In what a heaven do you live, thus
surrounded by people who owe all their happiness to your goodness! This
is, indeed, imitating your Creator, and in such proportion as your
faculties will admit, partaking of his felicity, since you can no where
cast your eyes without beholding numbers who derive every earthly good
from your bounty and are indebted to your care and example for a
reasonable hope of eternal happiness.'

'I will not,' said Mrs Maynard, 'give up my share of the felicity you so
justly imagine these ladies must enjoy, though I have no part in what
occasions it. When I reflect on all the blessings they impart, and see
how happiness flows, as it were, in an uninterrupted current from their
hands and lips, I am overwhelmed with gratitude to the Almighty disposer
of my fate, for having so mercifully thrown me into such a scene of
felicity, where every hour yields true heart-felt joy, and fills me with
thanksgiving to him who enables them thus to dispense innumerable
blessings, and so greatly rewards them already by the joyful
consciousness of having obeyed him.'

The ladies at this time were at too great a distance to hear our
conversation, for not choosing to be present while their actions were
the subjects of discourse, they had gradually strayed from us. Upon
enquiring of my cousin whether the persons in the large community we had
been talking of brought any fortunes with them, she told me that most of
them had a trifle, some not more than a hundred pounds. That in general
the ladies chose to admit those who had least, as their necessities were
greatest, except where some particular circumstances rendered protection
more requisite to others. That the house not being large enough to
contain more than were already established in it, they have been obliged
to refuse admission to many, and especially some young women of near two
thousand pounds fortune, the expensive turn of the world now being such
that no gentlewoman can live genteelly on the interest of that sum, and
they prefer this society to a retirement in a country town. Some who
wished to board, have likewise been refused. As the expenses of the
first community fall so far short of their expectation, and the sums
appropriated for that purpose, they determined to hazard another of the
same kind, and have just concluded a treaty for a still larger mansion,
at about three miles distance, and by the persons now waiting for it,
they have reason to believe it will not be less successful than the
other, nor more expensive, but should they be mistaken in that
particular, they have laid aside a fund sufficient to discharge it.
Their scheme I find is to have some of the ladies down to Millenium Hall
as soon as they have made the purchase, and there they are to remain,
while the necessary repairs and additions are making to the house
designed for their habitation, which they imagine will not be completed
in less than half a year. They hope, by having the first admitted part
of the community thus in the house with them for so long a time, to
compensate, in a good degree, for the disadvantages of being settled so
much farther from them. The sisterhood of the other society, likewise,
in pity to those who are exposed to the same sufferings from which they
have been delivered, have offered to crowd themselves for a few months,
to leave vacant rooms for some who are destined to the other house, till
they can be there accommodated. These also will be fitted for their new
way of life, and taught to aim at the happiness enjoyed in this
community, by the same means that they have attained to it.

Our subject ended with our walk. Supper was served as soon as we entered
the house, and general conversation concluded the evening.

Had I not been led by several facts to repeat already so many
conversations, I should be induced not to bury all that passed at this
time in silence; but though I have taken the liberty, when the relation
of facts naturally led to it, to communicate such discourses as were
pertinent to the subject, it would be presuming too far on your time to
repeat conversations which did not serve to illustrate any particular
actions, however worthy they maybe of recollection. I shall therefore
only say that it was not with less reluctance I retired to my chamber,
at the hour of bed-time, than the night before.

The next morning proved rainy, which prevented me from making any early
excursion. But as it cleared up about eleven o'clock, Lamont and I went
into the garden, to enjoy the fragrance which every herb and flower
exhales at this time of the year, after the desirable refreshment of
gentle showers. I conducted him to the flower garden, which had so much
delighted me the morning before; and we had not paid due admiration to
all the vegetable beauties there exhibited to our view when Mrs Maynard
joined us.

I told her it was but a poor compliment to her conversation to say I
longed for her company, since now my curiosity might occasion that
impatience, which I should nevertheless have felt, had I not been left
in painful suspense by the interruption we had received the day before,
in the midst of her narrative.

'It would be unnatural,' said she, 'for a woman to quarrel with
curiosity; so far from complaining of yours, I am come merely with a
design to gratify it, and only expect you will judge of my desire to
oblige you by my readiness in obeying your commands; were I myself the
subject, the motive for my obedience might be equivocal.'


The History of Miss Mancel and Mrs Morgan continued

I think, continued Mrs Maynard, we left Miss Melvyn requiring to be
confronted by her accuser, a request which her step-mother was not
inclined to grant; for though in her dealings with young Simon she had
perceived such a degree of solicitude for his own interest, and such
flagrant proofs of want of integrity, that she did not doubt but that by
promising him the farm on rather better terms than she had yet consented
to he might be prevailed with to join so far in her scheme as to assert
any thing to Sir Charles, yet she dared not venture to produce him face
to face to Miss Melvyn, fearing lest his assurance should fail him on
so severe a trial.

She replied, therefore, that the proofs were too strong to admit of
doubt, but she could not think of exposing Miss Melvyn to the
mortification of hearing her depravity witnessed by, perhaps, the last
person whom she expected should acknowledge it. Besides, that by such an
eclat the disgrace must infallibly become public, and she be deprived of
the only means left her of rescuing her reputation from that infamy, to
which, in a very short time, it must have been irrecoverably condemned;
for it could not be supposed that Mr Morgan would accept as his wife a
woman with a sullied character.

Miss Melvyn was almost distracted, at being both so injuriously accused
and denied the liberty of defending herself; she begged, she intreated,
on her knees, that Sir Charles would not suffer her to fall a prey to
such undeserved malice. She asserted her innocence in the strongest and
most persuasive terms, and insisted so warmly on her demand of being
confronted with her accusers, that her father grew inclined to grant her
just request. Lady Melvyn, perceiving he began to comply, repeated her
refusal in the most peremptory manner, and declaring to Miss Melvyn that
she had no other choice left her but either to resolve to marry Mr
Morgan or to be exposed to shame in being publicly disclaimed by her
parents, who would no longer suffer her to remain in their house, led
Sir Charles out of the room; and he, though reluctant, dared not refuse
to accompany her.

Miss Melvyn was now left to reflect on this dreadful alternative. Filled
with horror at the shocking conduct of her step-mother, terrified with
her threats, and sensible there was no villainy she was not capable of
perpetrating rather than give up a point she was thus determined to
carry, she was incapable of forming any resolution. She ran to her
friend, to seek from her that advice and consolation which her own
distracted thoughts could not afford her.

Miss Mancel was so struck with the terror and amazement which was still
impressed on Miss Melvyn's countenance, that she had not for some time
courage to ask the cause. Trembling with fears of she knew not what,
she embraced her distressed friend with an air of such tender, though
silent sympathy, as softened the horror of Miss Melvyn's mind, and
brought a shower of tears to her relief, which at length enabled her to
relate all that had passed between her and her parents. Louisa found it
much easier to join in her friend's grief than to administer
consolation. She knew not what to advise; two artless, virtuous young
women were ill qualified to contend with Lady Melvyn, especially in an
affair which could not be rendered public without hazarding Miss
Melvyn's character; for reputation is so delicate a thing that the least
surmise casts a blemish on it; the woman who is suspected is disgraced;
and though Lady Melvyn did not stand high in the public opinion, yet it
was scarcely possible for any one to believe she could be guilty of such
flagrant wickedness.

Miss Melvyn had a very strong dislike to Mr Morgan, whose disposition
appeared as ill suited to hers as his age; to enter into wedlock without
any prospect of social happiness seemed to her one of the greatest
misfortunes in life; but what was still of more weight in her
estimation, she thought it the highest injustice to marry a man whom she
could not love, as well as a very criminal mockery of the most solemn
vows. On the other side she considered that to preserve her reputation
was not only necessary to her own happiness, but a duty to society. 'It
is true,' said she, 'I am not placed in a very conspicuous sphere of
life, but I am far from being of a rank so obscure that my actions will
affect no one but myself; nor indeed do I know any so low, but they have
their equals who may copy after them, if they have no inferiors. The
care of our virtue we owe to ourselves, the preservation of our
characters is due to the world, and both are required by him who
commands us to preserve ourself pure and unpolluted, and to contribute
as far as we are able to the well-being of all his creatures. Example is
the means given universally to all whereby to benefit society. I
therefore look on it as one of our principal duties to avoid every
imputation of evil; for vice appears more or less hateful as it becomes
more or less familiar. Every vicious person abates the horror which it
should naturally excite in a virtuous mind. There is nothing so odious
to which custom will not in some degree reconcile us; can we expect
then, that vice, which is not without its allurements, should alone
retain all its deformity, when we are familiarized to its appearance. I
should never therefore esteem myself innocent, however pure my actions,
if I incurred the reputation of being otherwise, when it was in my power
to avoid it. With this way of thinking, my Louisa, you may imagine that
I might be brought to believe it my duty to sacrifice my ease of mind,
to the preservation of my character, but in my case, there is no choice;
I must either add to the contamination of a very profligate world, or,
in the face of Heaven, enter into the most solemn vows to love a man,
whom the most I can do is not to hate. This is wilful perjury. In such
an alternative duty cannot direct me, and misery must follow my
decision, let me determine as I will.'

In this irresolution, Miss Melvyn left her friend, but the vent she had
given to her grief had greatly calmed her spirits and restored her to
the power of reflection. At her entrance into the house, she met Lady
Melvyn, who with a very stern countenance ordered her to go and
entertain Mr Morgan, who waited for her in the parlour. She found him
alone, and as he began to renew his addresses, which a repulse from her
had not discouraged, since he hoped to succeed by the influence her
parents had over her, she immediately formed the resolution of
endeavouring to make him relinquish his pretensions, in hopes that if
the refusal came from him, he might become the object of her mother's
indignation, and her persecution might drop, at least for a time. She
therefore frankly told him, that tho' her affections were entirely
disengaged, yet he was so very repugnant to them that it was impossible
she should ever feel that regard for him which he had a right to expect
from his wife; and therefore intreated him, in consideration of his own
happiness, if hers were indifferent to him, not to persist in a pursuit
which, if successful, could not answer his hopes, nor reduce her to
render herself wretched by becoming his wife, or to exasperate her
parents by refusing him. She then added all her heart could suggest to
flatter him into compliance with this request.

Mr Morgan's foible was not an excess of delicacy; he told her plainly,
he admired her eloquence prodigiously, but that there was more rhetoric
in her beauty than any composition of words could contain; which
pleading in direct contradiction to all she had said, she must excuse
him, if he was influenced by the more powerful oratory of her charms;
and her good sense and unexceptionable conduct convinced him, that when
it became her duty to love him, she would no longer remain indifferent.

All Miss Melvyn could urge to shew him this was but a very poor
dependence, had no sort of weight, and he parted from her only more
determined to hasten the conclusion of their marriage.

Lady Melvyn had not been idle all this time; she had prevailed on young
Simon to acquiesce in the questions she put to him before Sir Charles,
either by giving short answers, or by down cast eyes, which signified
assent. With this Sir Charles acquainted Miss Melvyn, and insisted on
her not thinking of exposing herself to the indignity of having the
whole affair discussed in her presence. All the indignation that
undeserved calumny can excite in an innocent mind could not have enabled
Miss Melvyn to bear being charged before so low a creature, with a
passion for him, and still less to have heard the suborned wretch
pretend to confess it. She therefore found no difficulty in obeying her
father in that particular, and rather chose to submit to the imputation
than to undergo the shame which she must have suffered in endeavouring
to confute it. She attempted to persuade Sir Charles to permit her to
stay in the house under what restrictions he and his lady should think
proper, till her conduct should sufficiently convince him of her
innocence, and not to force her into a hated marriage, or unjustly
expose her to disgrace and infamy. Her tears and intreaties would soon
have softened his heart; and as far as he dared he shewed an inclination
to comply with so reasonable a proposal; but his lady easily obliged him
to retract and to deprive Miss Melvyn of all hopes of any mitigation of
the sentence already pronounced against her.

Could she without the loss of reputation have fled to a remote part of
the kingdom, and have hid herself in some obscure cottage, though
reduced to labour for a subsistence, she would have thought it a state
far more eligible than becoming Mr Morgan's wife; but if she thus turned
fugitive and wanderer, in what light could she expect to be seen by the
world; especially as Lady Melvyn would infallibly, to remove any blame
from herself, be liberal in her aspersions? Where she should be unknown,
whatever disgrace might be affixed to her name, she herself might escape
censure; but yet she would not be less guilty of a violation of her duty
to society, since she must appear very culpable to those who knew her,
and contribute to the depravity of others, as far as was in her power,
by an example which, her motives being unknown, would appear a very bad
one.

This consideration determined her to sacrifice her peace to her
character; for by having told Mr Morgan the true state of her heart, she
had acquitted herself from any charge of attempting, by the gift of her
hand, to deceive him into a belief that he was the object of her
affections. She still had scruples about entering into the matrimonial
state, on motives so different from those which ought to influence every
one in a union of that kind: these were not to be removed, but she
imagined this might in some measure be excused as the least culpable
part she could act; and since man was herein neither her judge nor
accuser, she hoped the integrity of her mind would be received as some
alleviation of a fault she was thus forced to commit, since she was
determined in the strictest manner to adhere to every duty of her
station.

Having formed this resolution, she went to consult her friend upon it,
who as a person less perplexed, though scarcely less concerned, as their
affections were so strongly united, that one could not suffer without
the other's feeling equal pain, might possibly be a calmer judge in so
delicate a point. Louisa subscribed to her friend's sentiments on the
occasion, only desired her to consider well, whether she should be able
to bear all the trials she might meet with in the married state when she
was entirely indifferent to her husband.

'My prospect,' said Miss Melvyn, 'I am sensible is extremely melancholy.
All inclination must now be laid aside, and duty must become my sole
guide and director. Happiness is beyond my view; I cannot even hope for
ease, since I must keep a constant restraint on my very thoughts.
Indifference will become criminal; and if I cannot conquer it, to
conceal it at least will be a duty. I have learnt to suffer, but was
never yet taught disguise and hypocrisy; herein will consist my greatest
difficulty; I abhor deceit, and yet must not shew the real sentiments of
my heart. Linked in society with a man I cannot love, the world can
afford me no pleasure, indeed no comfort, for I am insensible to all joy
but what arises from the social affections. The grave, I confess,
appears to me far more eligible than this marriage, for I might there
hope to be at peace. Mr Morgan's fortune is large, but his mind is
narrow and ungenerous, and his temper plainly not good. If he really
loved me, he could not suffer me to be forced into a marriage which he
well knows I detest: a knowledge which will not mend my fate, most
certainly.

'Could I enjoy the pleasures of self-approbation, it would be impossible
to be very wretched, but the most exact performance of my duty will not
yield me that gratification, since I cannot be perfectly satisfied that
I do right in marrying a man so very disagreeable to me. I fear the
pride of reputation influences me more than I imagine, and though it is
as justifiable as any pride, yet still it is certainly no virtue.'

'When I reflect,' said she afterwards, 'on the step I am going to take,
my terrors are inexpressible; how dreadful is it at my age, when nature
seems to promise me so many years of life, to doom myself to a state of
wretchedness which death alone can terminate, and wherein I must bury
all my sorrows in silence, without even the melancholy relief of pouring
them forth in the bosom of my friend, and seeking, from her tender
participation, the only consolation I could receive! For after this
dreaded union is completed, duty will forbid me to make my distresses
known, even to my Louisa; I must not then expose the faults of him whose
slightest failings I ought to conceal. One only hope remains, that you,
my first and dearest friend, will not abandon me; that whatever cloud of
melancholy may hang over my mind, yet you will still bear with me, and
remove your abode to a place where I may have the consolation of your
company. If it be in my power to make my house a comfortable habitation
to my Louisa, I cannot be entirely wretched.'

Miss Mancel gave her the tenderest assurances of fixing at least in her
neighbourhood, since a second paradise could not recompense her for the
loss of her society; and that on no terms could she prevail on herself
to continue in a house where she must see that wretched Simon, who had
been a vile instrument in reducing her friend to that distressful
situation. This gleam of comfort was a very seasonable relief to Miss
Melvyn's dejected spirits, and gave some respite to her tears.

As soon as she returned home, she acquainted Sir Charles and Lady Melvyn
with her resolution, who soon communicated it to Mr Morgan; and nothing
was now thought of but hastening the wedding as much as possible.

'I wonder,' interrupted Lamont, 'how Miss Melvyn could bring herself to
let her step-mother have such an opportunity of exulting in the success
of her detestable arts.'

'That,' replied Mrs Maynard, 'was a consideration which had no weight
with her, nor should it indeed be any mortification to our pride that
deceit and cunning have triumphed over us. Wickedness serves itself by
weapons which we would not use, and if we are wounded with them, we have
no more reason to be mortified than a man would have to think his
courage disgraced because when he lay sleeping in his bed he was taken
prisoner by a body of armed men. To be circumvented by cunning must ever
be the fate, but never the disgrace, of the artless.'

As Miss Melvyn's compliance procured her a greater degree of favour at
home than she had ever before enjoyed, Miss Mancel was suffered to come
to the house, and met with an obliging reception from the whole family.
Her continual presence there was a great support to her friend in her
very disagreeable situation, and after indulging her sorrow in their
private conversation, and mingling their sympathetic tears, she was the
better able to endure the restraint which she was obliged to undergo
when any other person was present.

The dreaded day fixed on for this unhappy union soon came, and Miss
Melvyn received Mr Morgan's hand and name with all the fortitude she
could assume; but her distress was visible to all, even to Mr Morgan,
who was so little touched with it that it proved no abatement to his
joy; a symptom of such indelicacy of mind as increased his bride's grief
and apprehensions.

The day after their marriage, Mrs Morgan asked his permission to invite
Miss Mancel to his house, to which he answered, 'Madam, my wife must
have no other companion or friend but her husband; I shall never be
averse to your seeing company, but intimates I forbid; I shall not
choose to have my faults discussed between you and your friend.'

Mrs Morgan was not much less stunned by this reply than if she had been
struck with lightning. Practised as she had long been in commanding her
passions and inclinations, a torrent of tears forced their way.

'I did not want this proof,' resumed Mr Morgan, 'that I have but a small
share of your affections; and were I inclined to grant your request, you
could not have found a better means of preventing it; for I will have no
person in my house more beloved than myself. When you have no other
friend,' added he with a malicious smile, 'I may hope for the honour of
that title.'

Mrs Morgan was so well convinced before of the littleness of his mind
that she was more afflicted than surprised at this instance of it, and
wished he would not have rendered it more difficult to esteem him by so
openly professing his ungenerous temper. However she silently
acquiesced; but that her friend might not feel the pain of believing
herself neglected, she was obliged to tell her what had passed.

The new married couple stayed but two days longer at Sir Charles's.
Fortunately Mr Morgan spent the last day abroad in paying visits in the
neighbourhood, which gave the two unhappy friends leisure to lament
their ill fortune in this cruel separation, without giving the cause of
it any new offence. They took a melancholy leave that night, fearing
that even a correspondence between them might be considerably restrained
by this arbitrary husband who seemed to think his wife's affections were
to be won by force, not by gentleness and generous confidence.

This was the severest affliction they had ever yet experienced, or
indeed were capable of feeling. United from their childhood, the
connection of soul and body did not seem more indissoluble, nor were
ever divided with greater pain. They foresaw no end to this cruel
separation; for they could not expect that a husband's complaisance to
his wife should increase after he ceased to be a bridegroom. Louisa
indeed, who wished if possible to reconcile her friend to her fate,
pretended to hope that her good conduct might in time enlarge his mind
and cure him of that mean suspicious temper which then made him fear to
have his faults exposed by a wife whose chief endeavour would be to
conceal them.

But such distant views afforded no consolation to Mrs Morgan's
affectionate heart; the present pain engaged her thoughts too much to
suffer her to look so far off for comfort. She had flattered herself not
only with the hopes of enjoying Miss Mancel's company, but of delivering
her from all the difficulties of her situation, in offering her a
protection from insult or poverty. To be disappointed of so delightful a
prospect was her greatest affliction, and sat much heavier on her mind
than the loss of her beloved society.

The evening was far spent when Lady Melvyn found them drowned in tears,
anticipating the pangs of parting, the employment of that whole day; and
as her ladyship's hatred for her step-daughter was much subsided, since
she no longer feared the observation of her too-virtuous eye, her
natural disposition inclined her to prevent the wife's discovering her
real sentiments to her husband; she therefore reminded them that Mr
Morgan must then be on his way home, and advised that by all means they
should part before his return, lest he should be witness of a sorrow
which he would take amiss. They were sensible that in this her ladyship
judged well, and Louisa's fear of occasioning any additional uneasiness
to her friend gave her resolution and strength to take a last farewell.
Mrs Morgan's maid attended her home, as she was too much affected to be
able to perform that little walk without some support. Mrs Morgan's
condition was still more deplorable; more dead than alive, she followed
Louisa's steps with eager eyes, till a turning in the road robbed her of
the sight of her friend; and then, as if her eyes had no other
employment worthy of them left, they were again overwhelmed in tears.
Lady Melvyn found her incapable of consolation; but more successfully
endeavoured to make her suppress the indulgence of her grief by alarming
her fears with the approach of Mr Morgan. As soon as she was a little
composed, she led her into the garden for air. The night was fine, and
the moon shone very resplendent, the beauty of the scene and the
freshness of the air a little revived her; and as Mr Morgan stayed out
later than they expected she had time to acquire a sufficient command
over herself to receive him with an air of tolerable cheerfulness.

The new married pair set out early the next morning, and arrived at Mr
Morgan's seat the following day. The house was large and old, the
furniture not much less ancient, the situation dreary, the roads
everywhere bad, the soil a stiff clay, wet and dirty, except in the
midst of summer, the country round it disagreeable, and in short,
destitute of every thing that could afford any satisfaction to Mrs
Morgan. Nature nowhere appears graced with fewer charms. Mrs Morgan
however had vexations so superior that she paid little regard to
external circumstances, and was so fully determined to acquit herself
properly in her new sphere that she appeared pleased with every thing
around her. Hypocrisy, as she observed, was now become a virtue, and the
only one which she found it difficult to practise. They were received on
their arrival by a maiden sister of Mr Morgan's, who till then had kept
his house and he intended should still remain in it; for as through the
partiality of an aunt who had bred her up she was possessed of a large
fortune, her brother, in whom avarice was the ruling passion, was very
desirous of keeping in her favour.

Miss Susanna Morgan had lived immaculate to the age of fifty-five. The
state of virginity could not be laid to her charge as an offence against
society, for it had not been voluntary. In her youth she was rather
distinguished for sensibility. Her aunt's known riches gave the niece
the reputation of a great fortune, an attraction to which she was
indebted for many lovers, who constantly took their leave on finding the
old lady would not advance any part of the money which she designed to
bequeath her niece. Miss Susanna, extremely susceptible by nature, was
favourably disposed to all her admirers, and imagining herself
successively in love with each, lived in a course of disappointments. In
reality, the impression was made only on her vanity, and her heart
continued unengaged; but she felt such a train of mortifications very
severely, and perhaps suffered more upon the whole than if she had been
strongly impressed with one passion. In time the parsimony of her old
aunt became generally known, and the young lady then was left free from
the tender importunity of lovers, of which nothing else could probably
have deprived her; for as she never had any natural attractions, she was
not subject to a decay of charms; at near fifty-five her aunt departed
this life, and left her in possession of twenty thousand pounds, a
fortune which served to swell her pride, without increasing her
happiness.

Nature had not originally bestowed upon her much sweetness of temper,
and her frequent disappointments, each of which she termed being crossed
in love, had completely soured it. Every pretty woman was the object of
her envy, I might almost say every married woman. She despised all that
were not as rich as herself, and hated every one who was superior or
equal to her in fortune. Tormented inwardly with her own ill-nature, she
was incapable of any satisfaction but what arose from teasing others;
nothing could dispel the frown on her brow, except the satisfaction she
felt when she had the good fortune to give pain to any of her
dependants; a horrid grin then distorted her features, and her before
lifeless eyes glistened with malice and rancorous joy. She had read
just enough to make her pedantic, and too little to give her any
improving knowledge. Her understanding was naturally small, and her
self-conceit great. In her person she was tall and meagre, her hair
black, and her complexion of the darkest brown, with an additional
sallowness at her temples and round her eyes, which were dark, very
large and prominent, and entirely without lustre; they had but one look,
which was that of gloomy stupid ill-nature, except, as I have already
said, when they were enlivened by the supreme satisfaction of having
made somebody uneasy, then what before was but disagreeable became
horrible. To complete the description of her face, she had a broad flat
nose, a wide mouth, furnished with the worst set of teeth I ever saw,
and her chin was long and pointed. She had heard primness so often
mentioned as the characteristic of an old maid, that to avoid wearing
that appearance she was slatternly and dirty to an excess; besides she
had great addition of filthiness, from a load of Spanish snuff with
which her whole dress was covered, as if, by her profusion in that
particular, she thought to compensate for her general parsimony.

This lady Mrs Morgan found in possession of her house, and was received
by her with that air of superiority to which Miss Susanna thought
herself entitled by her age and fortune. Mrs Morgan's charms, though
drooping like a blighted flower, excited much envy in Susanna's breast,
and she soon congratulated her on her extraordinary happiness in having
captivated a gentleman of so large a fortune when her own was at present
so very small.

At first she commended her for not being elated with so great an
acquisition, but in a little time taxed her with ungrateful
insensibility to so prodigious a blessing. She continually criticized
her economy, accusing her of indolence; representing, how she used every
morning to rouse the servants from their idleness, by giving each such a
scold, as quickened their diligence for the whole day; nor could a
family be well managed by any one who omitted this necessary duty. Mrs
Morgan's desire that her servants should enjoy the comforts of plenty,
and when sick, receive the indulgence which that condition requires,
brought her continual admonitions against extravagance, wherein Mr
Morgan readily joined; for his avarice was so great that he repined at
the most necessary expenses.

His temper was a mixture of passion and peevishness, two things that
seldom go together; but he would fret himself into a passion, and then
through weariness of spirits cool into fretfulness, till he was
sufficiently recovered to rise again into rage. This was the common
course of his temper, which afforded variety, but no relief.

Sensible that his wife married him without affection, he seemed to think
it impossible ever to gain her love, and therefore spared himself all
fruitless endeavours. He was indeed fond of her person; he admired her
beauty, but despised her understanding, which in truth was unavoidable;
for his ideas and conversation were so low and sordid that he was not
qualified to distinguish the charms of her elegant mind. Those who know
Mrs Morgan best are convinced that she suffered less uneasiness from his
ill-humour, brutal as it was, than from his nauseous fondness. But the
account I give of him, I have received from others; Mrs Morgan never
mentions his name, if it can possibly be avoided; and when she does, it
is always with respect. In this situation, a victim to the ill-humour
both of her husband and his sister, we will leave Mrs Morgan, and return
to that friend whose letters were her only consolation.

Miss Mancel's person was so uncommonly fine, that she could not be long
settled in the country without attracting general notice. Though the
lower rank of people may be less refined in their ideas, yet her beauty
was so very striking, that it did not escape their admiration, and the
handsome lady, as they called her, became the general subject of
discourse. As church was the only place where she exposed to public
view, she had from the first endeavoured to elude observation, by
mingling in the crowd, and sitting in the most obscure seat; but when
fame had awakened the curiosity of those of higher rank, she was easily
distinguished, and in a short time many inhabitants of the neighbouring
parishes came to that church to see her. She more than answered every
expectation; for such perfection of beauty scarcely ever came out of the
hands of nature. Many ladies in the neighbourhood introduced themselves
to her, and found her behaviour as enchanting as her person. She could
not be insensible of the approbation which every eye significantly
expressed; but she was abashed and in some degree more mortified than
delighted by it. She well remembered what Mr d'Avora had said to her on
that subject and saw that in her situation beauty was a disadvantage. He
often repeated the same thing to her in letters (for she and Miss Melvyn
keeping up a constant correspondence with him, the latter had acquainted
him with the general admiration paid to Louisa) and told her that he
feared the plan they had formed for her future way of life was at a
still greater distance than they had hoped, since her beauty was the
great obstacle to its being put in execution.

The ladies of the best fashion in the neighbourhood begged leave to
visit her; and though she more than ever wished to have her time
uninterrupted, since as she had no prospect of any other means of
support, it was necessary, by such little additions as she could make to
her small fund, to prevent its quick diminution, yet she could not
decline the civilities so obligingly offered her, but avoided all
intimacy with any of them as foreign to her plan, and hurtful to her
interest. Thus was she circumstanced in respect to the neighbourhood
when Miss Melvyn married.

As after this event Louisa was determined to change her habitation, she
began to enquire for some family where she might be accommodated in the
same manner as in that where she was then fixed. Among the persons who
had taken most notice of her was Lady Lambton, a person of admirable
understanding, polite, generous and good-natured; who had no fault but a
considerable share of pride. She piqued herself upon the opulence of her
family and a distinguished birth, but her good sense, and many virtues,
so qualified this one blemish, that it did not prevent her being a very
amiable woman.

When she found Miss Mancel designed to change her abode, she told her
that at an honest farmer's near her house she might be accommodated,
but that as some little alterations would be requisite to make the place
fit for her, she, in the most obliging manner, desired her company till
the apartment was ready; which would give her opportunity to see such
things were done to it as would be most convenient and agreeable. Lady
Lambton insisted so strongly on Miss Mancel's accepting this invitation
that she could not without incivility refuse it; and as, after the loss
of her friend, all places were alike to her, she had no reason to
decline so obliging an offer.

No great preparations were required for this removal of abode. Lady
Lambton came herself to fetch Miss Mancel home. The old lady was charmed
with her new guest, many of whose accomplishments were unknown to her
till she came under the same roof, and would not suffer any preparations
to be made for another lodging, but insisted on her continuing much
longer with her.

Lady Lambton behaved in so very obliging a manner, and Louisa found so
much pleasure and improvement in the conversation of a woman whose
admirable understanding and thorough knowledge of the world are seldom
to be paralleled, that she could not be more agreeably placed; as she
dared not go even into Mrs Morgan's neighbourhood, for fear of giving
additional uneasiness to one whose situation she plainly perceived was
by no means happy; for though Mrs Morgan suppressed all complaints,
never hinted at the treatment she received, and endeavoured to represent
her way of life in the best colours, to save her friend the sympathetic
pangs of heart which she knew she would feel for her sufferings; yet the
alteration in her style, the melancholy turn of mind which in spite of
all her care was visible in her letters, could not escape the
observation of one whose natural discernment was quickened by affection.

The full persuasion of Mrs Morgan's unhappiness, and that anxious
solicitude which arose from her ignorance as to the degree of her
wretchedness, was a source of continual grief to her mind, which Lady
Lambton's sincere friendship could scarcely alleviate. But she knew too
well how few people can bear the unhappy to suffer her uneasiness to
appear. She stifled therefore every expression of that kind; for if Lady
Lambton had generously sympathized in her affliction, it would have
given her pain to know she had occasioned that lady's feeling any; and
if she had been insensible to it, complaints would not fail to disgust
her.

Lady Lambton was fond of music, and not void of taste for painting; Miss
Mancel's excellence in these arts therefore afforded her the highest
entertainment. Her ladyship was likewise a mistress of languages, and
was pleased to find Louisa equally acquainted with them. In this house
Miss Mancel had passed above a twelve month, when Sir Edward Lambton
returned from his travels, in which he had spent four years. As soon as
he arrived in the kingdom he came to wait on Lady Lambton, his
grandmother, who was likewise his guardian, his father and mother being
both dead. She had longed with impatience for his return, but thought
herself well repaid for his absence by the great improvement which was
very visible both in his manner and person.

Sir Edward was extremely handsome, his person fine and graceful, his
conversation lively and entertaining, politeness adding charms to an
excellent understanding. His behaviour, I have been told, was
particularly engaging, his temper amiable, though somewhat too warm, and
he had all his grandmother's generosity, without any of her pride.

It would have been strange if a man of three and twenty years old (for
that was Sir Edward's age) had not been much charmed with so lovely a
woman as Miss Mancel. That he was so, soon became visible, but she, as
well as his grandmother, for some time imagined the attentions he paid
her were only the natural result of the gallantry usual at his age, and
improved into a softer address, by a manner acquired in travelling
through countries where gallantry is publicly professed Lady Lambton,
however, knowing her own discernment, expressed some fears to Louisa,
lest her grandson should become seriously in love with her, in order to
discover by her countenance whether there was really any ground for her
apprehensions, which she founded on the impossibility of his marrying a
woman of small fortune, without reducing himself to the greatest
inconvenience, as his estate was extremely incumbered, and he was by an
intail deprived of the liberty of selling any part of it to discharge
the debt. She was too polite to mention her chief objection to Miss
Mancel, which was in reality the obscurity of her birth. Louisa, who
sincerely believed Sir Edward had no real passion for her, answered with
a frankness which entirely convinced Lady Lambton that she had received
no serious address from him; but Louisa, who saw herself now in the
situation which Mr d'Avora had warned her against, begged permission to
leave Lady Lambton's, to prevent her ladyship's being under any
uneasiness, and to avoid all danger of Sir Edward's receiving any strong
impression in her favour.

Lady Lambton was unwilling to part with her amiable companion; and
besides, thought if her grandson was really enamoured, she should
increase the danger rather than lessen it by not keeping Louisa under
her eye; she therefore told her she could not consent to lose her
company, and was certain she might depend on her honour. Louisa thanked
her for her good opinion, and assured her she would never do any thing
to forfeit it.

Sir Edward was more captivated than either of the ladies imagined, and
every day increased his passion. Louisa's beauty, her conversation and
accomplishments were irresistible; but as he knew the great occasion he
had to marry a woman of fortune, he long endeavoured to combat his
inclinations. He might have conceived hopes of obtaining any other woman
in her circumstances on easier terms; but there was such dignity and
virtue shone forth in her, and he was so truly in love, that such a
thought never entered his imagination. He reverenced and respected her
like a divinity, but hoped that prudence might enable him to conquer his
passion, at the same time that it had not force enough to determine him
to fly her presence, the only possible means of lessening the impression
which every hour engraved more deeply on his heart by bringing some new
attractions to his view. He little considered that the man who has not
power to fly from temptation will never be able to resist it by standing
his ground.

Louisa was not long before she grew sensible that what she had offered
to Lady Lambton for the ease of her ladyship's mind, was advisable to
secure the peace of her own. Sir Edward's merit, his sincere respect for
her, which certainly is the most powerful charm to a woman of delicacy,
could scarcely fail to make an impression on a heart so tender, so
generous as hers. She kept so strict a watch over herself that she soon
perceived her sensibility, and endeavoured to prevail on Lady Lambton to
part with her; but the old lady, imagining it was only in order to quiet
her apprehensions, would not consent; and the difficulty in finding a
place where she could be properly received, strongly discouraged her
from insisting on it. If she continued in the neighbourhood, her purpose
would not be answered; for she could not avoid Sir Edward's visits; her
only friend was denied the liberty of protecting her, and to go into a
place where she was unknown would subject a young woman of her age and
beauty to a thousand dangers.

These difficulties detained her, though unwillingly, at Lady Lambton's
for above half a year after Sir Edward's return; who, at length, unable
to confine in silence a passion which had long been obvious to every
observer, took an opportunity, when alone with Louisa, to declare his
attachment in the most affecting manner. She received it not with
surprise, but with real sorrow. She had no tincture of coquetry in her
composition; but if she had been capable of it, her affections were too
deeply engaged to have suffered her to retain it. Her sensibility was
never so strongly awakened; all her endeavours to restrain it were no
longer of force, her heart returned his passion, and would have
conquered every thing but her justice and her honour; these were deeply
engaged to Lady Lambton; and she would have detested herself if she
could have entertained a thought of making that lady's goodness to her
the occasion of the greatest vexation she could receive. She therefore
never hesitated on the part she should act on this trying occasion; but
the victories which honour gains over the tender affections are not to
be obtained without the severest pangs. Thus tormented by the struggles
between duty and affection, she was not immediately capable of giving
him an answer, but finding that her difficulties were increasing by his
repeated professions, and animated by the necessity of silencing a love
which too successfully solicited a return of affection, she assumed a
sufficient command over herself to conceal her sentiments, and with
averted eyes, lest her heart should through them contradict her words,
she told him, he distressed her to the greatest degree; that the respect
she had for him on account of his own merit, and not less for the
relation he bore to Lady Lambton, made her extremely concerned that he
should have conceived a passion for her, which it was not in her power
to return; nor could she listen to it in justice to Lady Lambton, to
whom she was bound in all the ties of gratitude; neither should anything
ever prevail with her to do any thing prejudicial to the interests of a
family into which she had been so kindly received.

Sir Edward was too much in love to acquiesce in so nice a point of
honour; but Louisa would not wait to hear arguments which it was so
painful to her to refute, and retired into her own chamber, to lament in
secret her unhappy fate in being obliged to reject the addresses of a
man whose affections, were she at liberty, she would think no sacrifice
too great to obtain.

Miss Mancel endeavoured as much as possible to avoid giving Sir Edward
any opportunity of renewing his addresses; but his vigilance found the
means of seeing her alone more than once, when he warmly urged the
partiality of her behaviour, representing how much more his happiness
was concerned in the success of a passion which possessed his whole
soul, than his grandmother's could be in disappointing it. She, he
observed, was actuated only by pride, he by the sincerest love that ever
took place in a human heart. In accepting his addresses Louisa could
only mortify Lady Lambton; in rejecting them, she must render him
miserable. Which, he asked, had the best title to her regard, the woman
who could ungenerously and injudiciously set a higher value on riches
and birth than on her very superior excellencies, or the man who would
gladly sacrifice fortune and every other enjoyment the world could
afford, to the possession of her; of her who alone could render life
desirable to him? By these, and many other arguments, and what was more
prevalent than all the arguments that could be deduced from reason, by
the tenderest intreaties that the most ardent passion could dictate, Sir
Edward endeavoured to persuade Louisa to consent to marry him, but all
proved unavailing. She sometimes thought what he said was just, but
aware of her partiality, she could not believe herself an unprejudiced
judge, and feared that she might mistake the sophistry of love for the
voice of reason. She was sure while honour, truth and gratitude pleaded
against inclination they must be in the right, though their
remonstrances were hushed into a whisper by the louder solicitations of
passion. Convinced that she could not be to blame while she acted in
contradiction to her secret choice, since the sincerity of her
intentions were thereby plainly, though painfully evinced, she persisted
in refusing to become Sir Edward's wife, and told him, that if he did
not discontinue his addresses, he would force her to leave the house,
and retire to any place that would afford her a quiet refuge from his
importunity.

A hint of this sort was sufficient to drive Sir Edward almost to
distraction, and Louisa dared not pursue the subject. When he found she
could not be induced to consent to an immediate marriage, he endeavoured
to obtain a promise of her hand after Lady Lambton's decease, though to
a man of his impatient and strong passions such a delay was worse than
death; but Miss Mancel told him, by such an engagement she should be
guilty of a mean evasion, and that she should think it as great a breach
of honour as marrying him directly.

The despair to which Louisa's conduct reduced Sir Edward, whose love
seemed to increase with the abatement of his hopes, was very visible to
his grandmother, but her pride was invincible; neither her affection for
him, nor her great esteem for Miss Mancel's merit, could conquer her
aversion to their union. She saw them both unhappy, but was convinced
the pangs they felt would not be of very long continuance, trusting to
the usual inconstancy of young persons, while the inconveniencies
attending an incumbered fortune, and the disgrace which she imagined
must be the consequence of Sir Edward's marrying a woman of obscure
birth, would be permanent and influence the whole course of his life.

Louisa, unable to support so hard a conflict, continually resisting both
her lover and her love, was determined to seek some relief from absence.
She wrote Mr d'Avora a faithful account of all the difficulties of her
situation, and intreated him to receive her into his house, till he
could find some proper place wherein to fix her abode.

This worthy friend approved her conduct, while he grieved for her
distress; his honest heart felt a secret indignation against Lady
Lambton who could, by false pride, be blinded to the honour which he
thought such a woman as Miss Mancel must reflect on any family into
which she entered. He wrote that young lady word, that she might be
assured of the best reception his house could afford, and every service
that it was in his power to render her; desiring that she would let him
know when she proposed setting out, that he might meet her on the road,
not thinking it proper she should travel alone.

This letter gave Miss Mancel much satisfaction; she was now secure of an
asylum; but the great difficulty still remained, she knew not how to get
away from Lady Lambton's in a proper manner; for to go clandestinely was
not suitable to her character, and might bring it into suspicion. In
this dilemma she thought it best to apply to that lady, and with her
usual frankness told her (what had not escaped her discernment) the
affection Sir Edward had conceived for her, and the return her own heart
made to it; only suppressing his solicitations, as her ladyship might be
offended with his proceeding so far without her consent. She represented
the imprudence of her continuing in the house with Sir Edward, whereby
both his passion and her own must be increased; and yet she was at a
loss how to depart privately, but was convinced it could not be affected
with his knowledge, without such an eclat as must be very disagreeable
to them all; nor could she answer for her own resolution when put to so
severe a trial; as she should have more than her full measure of
affliction in going from thence, without being witness to its effect on
him.

One should have imagined that the generosity of Miss Mancel's conduct
might have influenced Lady Lambton in her favour; but though it
increased her esteem, it did not alter her resolution. With inexcusable
insensibility she concerted measures with her, and engaged to procure
Sir Edward's absence for a short time. Some very necessary business
indeed demanded his presence in a neighbouring county where the greatest
part of his estate lay, but he had not been able to prevail on himself
to leave Louisa; too much enamoured to think any pecuniary advantage
could compensate for the loss of her company. But as it was natural that
an old grandmother should see the matter in another light; her pressing
him to go and settle his affairs gave him no cause to suspect any latent
meaning, and was too reasonable to be any longer opposed.

Though Sir Edward was resolved on so quick a dispatch of business as
promised him a speedy return, yet any separation from Miss Mancel,
however short, appeared a severe misfortune. The evening before the day
of his departure, he contrived to see her alone and renewed his
importunities with redoubled ardour, but with no better success than
before. He lamented the necessity he was under of leaving her, though
but for a little time, with an agony of mind better suited to an eternal
separation. She, who saw it in that light, was overcome with the tender
distress which a person must feel at taking a final leave of one who is
extremely dear to her. Her own grief was more than she could have
concealed; but when she anticipated in her thoughts what he would suffer
when he knew he had lost her for ever, and judged from the pain he felt
on the approach of what he thought so short an absence, how very great
his distress would be, she was unable to support the scene with her
usual steadiness. Tears insensibly stole down her face and bestowed on
it still greater charms than it had ever yet worn, by giving her an air
of tenderness, which led him to hope that she did not behold his passion
with indifference. This thought afforded him a consolation which he had
never before received; and though it increased his love, yet it abated
his distress, and rendered him more able to leave her, since he
flattered himself she would with pleasure see him return, which he was
now more than ever resolved to do as speedily as possible.

The day of his departure she spent chiefly in her own room, to conceal,
as far as she was able, a weakness she was ashamed of but could not
conquer. She had written the day before to inform Mr d'Avora that she
should set out for London four days after her letter. Accordingly at the
time appointed, after having agreed with Lady Lambton that Sir Edward
must be kept ignorant of the place to which she was gone, she set out
with that lady, who carried her in her coach twelve miles of the way and
then delivered her to Mr d'Avora, who was come thither to receive her.
Lady Lambton could not part with her amiable companion without regret,
and expressed her true sense of her merit in such strong terms to Mr
d'Avora, who could not forgive that pride which had occasioned so much
pain both to Louisa and Sir Edward, that he told her in plain terms how
very happy and how much honoured any man must be who had her for his
wife. Perhaps Lady Lambton would have subscribed to his opinion, had any
one but her grandson been concerned; but the point was too tender, and
it was no small command over herself that prevented her giving the good
old man a hint that she thought him impertinent.

Our travellers arrived in town the next day, after a melancholy journey,
for even the company of a friend she so much loved and esteemed could
not restore Miss Mancel's natural vivacity, though in compassion to the
good old man who sympathized tenderly in her distress she endeavoured to
the utmost of her power to conceal how very deeply she was afflicted. It
was some little time before her spirits were sufficiently composed to
form any scheme for her future life, nor were they benefited by a letter
from Lady Lambton which acquainted her that Sir Edward, at his return,
finding she had left the place, that his grandmother had consented to
her departure and refused to tell him where she was gone, was for some
days frantic with rage and grief, and had just then left Lady Lambton
with a determination to serve as volunteer in the army in Germany, in
hopes, he said, to find there a release from his afflictions, which
nothing but the hand of death could bestow.

The old lady was much shocked at this event, but hoped a little time
would restore his reason and enable him to bear his disappointment with
patience. There was room to believe, she said, that the rest of the
campaign would pass over without a battle, and if so the change of scene
might abate his passion.

Louisa's heart was too tenderly engaged to reason so philosophically,
she was almost distracted with her fears, and was often inclined to
blame her own scruples that had driven so worthy a man to such
extremities. All Mr d'Avora could urge to reconcile her to herself and
to calm her apprehensions for Sir Edward were scarcely sufficient to
restore her to any ease of mind; but at length he brought her to submit
patiently to her fate and to support her present trial with constancy.

They were still undetermined as to her future establishment when Mr
d'Avora one day met an old acquaintance and countryman in the street. As
this person had many years before returned to his native country, Mr
d'Avora inquired what had again brought him into England? His friend
replied that he was come in quality of factotum to a widow lady of
fortune. In the course of their conversation he asked Mr d'Avora if he
could recommend a waiting woman to his lady, hers having died on the
road. The character this man gave of his mistress inclined Mr d'Avora to
mention the place to Miss Mancel, who readily agreed that he should
endeavour to obtain it for her.

Mr d'Avora had engaged the man to call on him the next day by telling
him he believed he might be able to recommend a most valuable young
person to his lady. He was punctual to his appointment and conducted Mr
d'Avora and Louisa to Mrs Thornby's, that was the name of the lady in
question.

Miss Mancel was dressed with care, but of a very different sort from
what is usually aimed at; all her endeavours had been to conceal her
youth and beauty as much as possible under great gravity of dress, and
to give her all the disadvantages consistent with neatness and
cleanliness. But such art was too thin a veil to hide her charms. Mrs
Thornby was immediately struck with her beauty, and made some scruple of
taking a young person into her service whom she should look upon as a
great charge, and she feared her maid might require more attention from
her than she should think necessary for any servant to pay to herself.
Mr d'Avora represented to her how cruel it was that beauty, which was
looked upon as one of the most precious gifts of nature, should
disqualify a young woman for obtaining a necessary provision. That this
young person's prudence was so irreproachable as sufficiently secured
her from any disadvantages which might naturally be feared from it. But
still he allowed her person would justly deter a married woman from
receiving her, and might make a cautious mother avoid it, since her good
conduct would rather add to than diminish her attractions, therefore it
was only with a single lady she could hope to be placed; and he was well
convinced that such a one would have reason to think herself happy in so
accomplished a servant; since her mind was still more amiable than her
person.

Mrs Thornby allowed what he said to be reasonable and was so charmed
with Louisa's appearance that she assured him she would receive her with
pleasure. She was in haste for a servant, and Miss Mancel had no reason
to delay her attendance, therefore it was agreed she should enter into
her place the next day.

When Lady Lambton took leave of Louisa she would have forced her to
receive a very handsome present; Louisa had accepted many while she
lived with her ladyship, but at this time she said it would look like
receiving a compensation for the loss of Sir Edward; and as she chose to
sacrifice both her inclinations and happiness to her regard for Lady
Lambton, she could not be induced to accept any thing that looked like a
reward for an action which if she had not thought it her duty, nothing
would have prevailed with her to perform. The tenderest affections of
her heart were too much concerned in what she had done to leave her the
power of feeling any apprehensions of poverty; all the evils that attend
it then appeared to her so entirely external that she beheld them with
the calm philosophy of a stoic and not from a very contrary motive; the
insensibility of each arose from a ruling passion; the stoic's from
pride, hers from love. But though she feared not poverty, she saw it was
advisable to fix upon some establishment as soon as it could be
obtained; and therefore received great satisfaction from being assured
of Mrs Thornby's acceptance of her services. Mr d'Avora was not without
hopes, that if Sir Edward continued constant till Lady Lambton's death,
Louisa might then, without any breach of honour or gratitude, marry him;
though to have engaged herself to do so, would, as she observed, have
been scarcely less inexcusable than an immediate consent; therefore he
advised her to assume another name, as Sir Edward might not choose,
after she was his wife, to have it known that she had been reduced to
servitude.

Louisa was accordingly received at Mrs Thornby's by the name of Menil.
Her good sense and assiduity enabled her to acquit herself so well in
her new place as greatly delighted her mistress; and though she
concealed the greatest part of her accomplishments, sensible they could
be of no assistance, and might on the contrary raise a prejudice against
her; yet her behaviour and conversation so plainly indicated a superior
education that before she had been there a week Mrs Thornby told her she
was certain she had not been born for the station she was then in, and
begged a particular account of her whole life.

Louisa, fearing that a compliance would render her less agreeable to her
mistress, who already treated her with respect which seemed more than
was due to her situation, and often appeared uneasy at seeing her
perform the necessary duties of her place, intreated to be spared a task
which, she said, was attended with some circumstances so melancholy as
greatly affected her spirits on a particular recollection.

Mrs Thornby's curiosity was not abated by this insinuation, and she
repeated her request in a manner so importunate, and at the same time so
kind, that Louisa could no longer, without manifest disrespect, decline
it.

She began then by acquainting her that she went by a borrowed name; but
had proceeded no farther in her narration than to tell her that her real
name was Mancel and that she had been left to the care of an aunt in her
earliest infancy by parents who were obliged, for reasons she could
never learn, to leave their country, when Mrs Thornby exclaimed, My
child! my child! and sinking on her knees, with eyes and hands lifted up
towards heaven, poured forth a most ardent thanksgiving, with an ecstasy
of mind not to be described. Her first sensation was that of gratitude
to the Almighty Power, who had reserved so great a blessing for her;
maternal tenderness alone gave rise to the succeeding emotions of her
heart; she threw her arms round Louisa, who on seeing her fall on her
knees, and not comprehending the meaning of her action, ran to her; but
struck with astonishment and reverence at the awful piety in her
countenance and address, bent silent and motionless over her. Mrs
Thornby, leaning her head on Louisa's bosom, burst into such a flood of
tears, and was so oppressed with joy, that the power of speech totally
failed her. Louisa raised her from the ground, crying, 'Dear madam, what
can all this mean? What does this extreme agitation of your mind give me
room to hope?'

'Every thing, my child! my angel! that a fond parent can bestow,'
replied Mrs Thornby. 'I am that mother that was obliged to leave thee to
another's care; and has Heaven preserved my daughter, and restored her
to me so lovely, so amiable! Gracious Providence! Merciful beyond hope!
Teach me to thank thee as I ought for this last instance of thy
goodness!' And then her whole soul seemed again poured forth in grateful
adoration.

Louisa could scarcely believe this event was real; thus unexpectedly to
meet with a parent whom she supposed lost to her for ever almost
stunned her; her thoughts were so engrossed by the raptures of her
joyful mother that she did not feel half her good fortune; and the
delight she received in seeing her mother's happiness robbed her of
every other sensation.

It was some hours before Mrs Thornby's mind was sufficiently composed to
enter into any connected conversation. From broken sentences Miss Mancel
learnt that her father and mother, by the complicated distress of ruined
fortune and the too fatal success of a duel in which Mr Mancel was
unwillingly engaged, had been obliged to absent themselves from England.
They went to one of the American colonies, in hopes of finding means to
improve their circumstances, leaving the young Louisa, then in her
cradle, with a sister of Mr Mancel's, who readily undertook the care of
her. They were scarcely arrived in America when Mr Mancel was seized
with a fever, of which he soon died, and with him all their hopes. Mrs
Mancel was left entirely destitute, at a loss how to hazard the tedious
passage home, without the protection of a husband and with hardly a
sufficient sum remaining to discharge the expenses of it.

Her melancholy situation engaged some of the inhabitants of the place to
offer her all necessary accommodations, till she could find a proper
opportunity of returning to England. During this time, Mr Thornby, a
gentleman who had acquired a fortune there, saw her, and was so well
pleased with her person and conduct that he very warmly solicited her to
marry him. Every person spoke in his favour, and urged her to consent;
her poverty was no faint adviser, and with general approbation at the
conclusion of the first year of her widowhood she became his wife.

His affairs soon called him into a more inland part of the country, to
which she attributed her never having heard from her sister, to whom she
wrote an account of her husband's death; but by what Miss Mancel told
her she imagined her letter had not been received.

Mr and Mrs Thornby continued in the same place, till about two years
before her arrival in England; but his health growing extremely bad, he
was advised by his physicians to return to Europe. He wished to
re-visit his native country but was persuaded, for the re-establishment
of his constitution, to spend some time in Italy. The climate at first
seemed to relieve him, but his complaints returning with greater
violence, he died in the latter part of the second year of his abode
there.

His estate in the Indies he bequeathed to a nephew who lived upon the
spot; but the money he had sent before him into England, which amounted
to forty thousand pounds, he left to his widow. He had desired to be
interred at Florence, where he died. As soon as the funeral was over,
and some other necessary affairs settled, Mrs Thornby set out for
England, where she no sooner arrived than she employed intelligent
persons to find out her sister-in-law and daughter, but had not received
any account from them, when her daughter was restored to her as the free
gift of providence.

Mrs Thornby was now more desirous than ever to hear each minute
particular that had befallen her Louisa; but Louisa begged that before
she obeyed her orders she might have permission to communicate the happy
event to Mr d'Avora, whose joy she knew would be nearly equal to her
own. A messenger was dispatched for this purpose, and then she related
circumstantially all the incidents in her short life, except her partial
regard to Sir Edward Lambton, which filial awe induced her to suppress.

Mrs Thornby grew every day more delighted with her daughter, as her
acquired accomplishments and natural excellencies became more
conspicuous on longer acquaintance. Her maternal love seemed to glow
with greater warmth for having been so long stifled, and Louisa found
such delight in the tender affection of a mother that she was scarcely
sensible of the agreeable change in her situation, which was now in
every circumstance the most desirable. All that fortune could give she
had it in her power to enjoy, and that esteem which money cannot
purchase her own merit secured her, besides all the gratification a
young woman can receive from general admiration. But still Louisa was
not happy, her fears for Sir Edward's life, while in so dangerous a
situation, would not suffer her mind to be at peace. She might hope
every thing from her mother's indulgence, but had not courage to confess
her weakness, nor to intimate a wish, which might occasion her
separation from a parent whose joy in their reunion still rose to
rapture. Chance, that deity which though blind is often a powerful
friend, did what she could not prevail on herself to do.

One morning the news paper of the day being brought in, Mrs Thornby
taking it up, read to her daughter a paragraph which contained an
account of a battle in Germany wherein many of the English were said to
be slain, but few of their names specified. Louisa immediately turned
pale, her work dropped out of her hand and a universal trembling seized
her. Mrs Thornby was too attentive not to observe her daughter's
distress, and so kindly inquired the reason that Louisa ventured to tell
her for whom she was so much interested; and gave an exact account of
Sir Edward's address to her, her behaviour upon it, and the great regard
she had for him.

Mrs Thornby affectionately chid her for having till then concealed a
circumstance whereon so much of her happiness depended, and offered to
write to Lady Lambton immediately, and acquaint her that if want of
fortune was her only objection to Miss Mancel, it no longer subsisted,
for that she was ready to answer any demands of that sort which her
ladyship should choose to make, as she thought she should no way so well
secure her daughter's happiness as by uniting her with a gentleman of
Sir Edward's amiable character, and whose affection for her had so
evidently appeared.

Louisa could not reject an offer which might rescue Sir Edward from the
dangers that threatened him, and with pleasure thought of rewarding so
generous and so sincere a passion. Perhaps she found some gratification
in shewing that gratitude alone dictated her refusal. The letter was
immediately dispatched, and received with great pleasure by Lady
Lambton, whose esteem for Miss Mancel would have conquered any thing but
her pride. She accepted the proposal in the politest manner, and that
Sir Edward might be acquainted with his happiness as soon as possible,
dispatched her steward into Germany, ordering him to travel with the
utmost expedition, and gave him Mrs Thornby's letter, with one from
herself, containing an account of the great change in Louisa's fortune.

The servant obeyed the directions given him and performed the journey in
as short a time as possible; but as he entered the camp, he met Sir
Edward indeed, but not as a future bridegroom. He was borne on men's
shoulders, pale and almost breathless, just returned from an attack,
where by his too great rashness he had received a mortal wound. He
followed him with an aching heart to his tent, where Sir Edward
recovering his senses, knew him, and asked what brought him there so
opportunely, 'to close his eyes, and pay the last duties, to one of
whose infancy he had been so careful?' for this servant lived in the
family when Sir Edward was born, and loved him almost with paternal
fondness, which occasioned his desire of being himself the messenger of
such joyful news.

The poor man was scarcely able to answer a question expressed in such
melancholy terms, and was doubtful whether he ought to acquaint him with
a circumstance which might only increase his regret at losing a life
which would have been blessed to his utmost wish, but incapable in that
state of mind of inventing any plausible reason, he told him the truth,
and gave him the two letters.

The pleasure Sir Edward received at the account of Louisa's good
fortune, and the still greater joy he felt at so evident a proof of her
regard for him, made him for a time forget his pains, and flattered the
good old steward with hopes that his case was not so desperate as the
surgeons represented it; but Sir Edward told him he knew all hope was
vain. 'I must accuse myself,' said he, 'of losing that lovely generous
woman what a treasure would have gladdened my future days had I not
rashly, I fear criminally, shortened them, not by my own hand indeed,
but how little different! Mad with despair, I have sought all means of
obtaining what I imagined the only cure for my distempered mind. Weary
of life, since I could not possess her in whom all my joys, all the
wishes of my soul were centred, I seized every occasion of exposing
myself to the enemy's sword. Contrary to my hopes, I escaped many
times, when death seemed unavoidable, but grown more desperate by
disappointment, I this morning went on an attack where instead of
attempting to conquer, all my endeavour was to be killed, and at last I
succeeded, how fatally! Oh! my Louisa,' continued he, 'and do I then
lose thee by my own impatience! Had I, like thee, submitted to the
disposition of providence, had I waited, from its mighty power, that
relief which it alone can give, I might now be expecting with rapture
the hour that should have united us for ever, instead of preparing for
that which shall summon me to the grave, where even thou shalt be
forgotten, and the last traces of thy lovely image effaced from my too
faithful remembrance. How just are the decrees of the Almighty! Thy
patience, thy resignation and uncommon virtues are rewarded as they
ought; my petulance, my impatience, which, as it were, flew in the face
of my Maker, and fought to lose a life which he had entrusted to my
keeping, and required me to preserve, is deservedly punished. I am
deprived of that existence which I would now endure whole ages of pain
to recall, were it to be done, but it is past and I submit to thy
justice, thou all wise disposer of my fate.'

The agitation of Sir Edward's mind had given him a flow of false
spirits, but at length they failed, leaving him only the more exhausted.
He kept Mrs Thornby's letter on his pillow, and read it many times.
Frequent were his expressions of regret for his own rashness, and he
felt much concern from the fear that Louisa would be shocked with his
death. Her mother's proceedings convinced him she was not void of regard
for him; he now saw that he had not vainly flattered himself when he
imagined, from many little circumstances, that her heart spoke in his
favour; and the force she must have put on her affections raised his
opinion of her almost to adoration. He often told his faithful attendant
that in those moments he felt a joy beyond what he had ever yet
experienced, in believing Louisa loved him; but these emotions were soon
checked by reflecting, that if she did so, she could not hear of his
death without suffering many heart-felt pangs.

He lingered for three days, without the least encouragement to hope for
life, and on the last died with great resignation, receiving his death
as a punishment justly due to his want of submission in the divine will,
and that forward petulance which drove him to desperation in not
succeeding to his wishes just at the time that to his impetuous
passions, and short-sighted reason, appeared most desirable.

The afflicted steward wrote an account, of this melancholy event to Lady
Lambton, and stayed to attend Sir Edward's body home, that his last
remains might be deposited in the family vault.

Lady Lambton received these mournful tidings with excessive grief, and
communicated them to Mrs Thornby. Louisa, from the time of the
messenger's setting out for Germany, had been pleasing herself with
reflecting on the joyful reception he would meet with from Sir Edward,
and had frequently anticipated, in imagination, the pleasures she and
Sir Edward would receive at seeing each other after so melancholy a
separation. She now every hour expected him, and when Mrs Thornby began
to prepare her against surprise, she imagined he was arrived and that
her kind mother was endeavouring to guard her against too sudden joy.
She attempted to break through the delay which must arise from all this
caution by begging to know if he was in the house, desiring her not to
fear any ill effects from his sudden appearance, and rose from her seat,
in order to attend her mother to Sir Edward. Mrs Thornby made her sit
down again, and with a countenance which spoke very different things
from what she expected, acquainted her with the fatal end of all her
hopes.

Louisa was shocked in proportion to the degree to which she was before
elated. She sunk lifeless in the arms of her mother, who had clasped her
to her breast, and it was a considerable time before their cruel
endeavours to bring her to her senses succeeded. Her first sensation was
an agony of grief; she accused herself of being the occasion of Sir
Edward's death, and from the unfortunate consequences of her actions,
arraigned her motives for them. Mrs Thornby and Mr d'Avora, whom she
had sent for on this occasion, endeavoured to convince her she was no
way to blame, that what she had done was laudable, and she ought not to
judge of an action by its consequences, which must always remain in the
hands of the Almighty, to whom we are accountable for our motives, but
who best knows when they ought to be crowned with success. When they had
prevailed with her to exculpate herself, her piety and patience made it
the more easy to persuade her calmly to submit to the decrees of
providence. She soon saw that to suffer was her duty, and though she
might grieve, she must not repine. The good advice of her two friends
was some support to her mind, but her chief strength arose from her
frequent petitions to him who tried her in sufferings to grant her
patience to bear them with due resignation. Such addresses, fervently
and sincerely made, can never be unavailing, and she found the
consolation she asked for. Her affliction was deep, but silent and
submissive, and in no part of her life did she ever appear more amiable
than on this trying occasion when her extreme sensibility could never
extort one word or thought which was not dictated by humble piety, and
the most exemplary resignation. That Sir Edward had had so just a sense
of his own error, and so properly repented his impatience was a great
consolation, and she hoped to meet him whom she had so soon lost, in a
state of happiness where they should never more be parted.

Mrs Morgan had borne a tender share in all Louisa's joys and sorrows;
for in the frequency of her correspondence every circumstance that
attended the latter was faithfully imparted, though the communication
was less free on Mrs Morgan's side, who, contrary to her natural temper,
acted with reserve on this particular; induced by a double motive, a
belief that it was her duty to conceal her husband's faults, and a
desire to spare her friend the pain of suffering participation in her
vexations. She longed to attend Miss Mancel in her affliction, but dared
not urge a request with which she knew Mr Morgan would not comply. He
lived entirely in the country and seemed to be totally insensible to the
pleasure of contributing to the happiness of others. All his tenderness
was confined within the narrow circle of himself. Mrs Morgan daily
beheld distress and poverty without the power of relieving it, for his
parsimony would not let him trust her with the disposal of what money
was necessary for her own expenses, his sister always brought what they
in their wisdoms judged requisite, and Mrs Morgan was treated in those
affairs like a little child.

In matters too trifling to come within Mr Morgan's notice, Miss Susanna,
fearing her sister should enjoy a moment's ease, took care to perform
her part in teasing, as if their joint business was only to keep that
poor woman in a constant state of suffering. To complete her vexation,
Mr Morgan, who had always drank hard, increased so much in that vice
that few days passed wherein he was not totally intoxicated. Mrs Morgan
saw no means of redress, and therefore thought it best to suffer without
complaint; she considered that, by contention, she could not prevail
over their ill temper, but must infallibly sour her own, and destroy
that composure of mind necessary to enable every one to acquit herself
well in all Christian duties. By this patient acquiescence her virtues
were refined, though her health suffered, and she found some
satisfaction in reflecting that him whom she most wished to please would
graciously accept her endeavours, however unavailing they might be
towards obtaining the favour of those on whom her earthly peace
depended.

At this part of Mrs Maynard's narration we were again interrupted by
dinner, but the arrival of some visitors in the afternoon afforded
Lamont and myself an opportunity of begging her to give us the sequel,
and for that purpose we chose a retired seat in the garden, when she
thus proceeded.

The next six years of Miss Mancel's life passed in a perfect calm; this
may appear too cold an expression, since her situation was such as would
by most people have been thought consummate happiness. Mrs Thornby's
ample fortune enabled them to live in great figure, and Miss Mancel's
beauty and understanding rendered her the object of general admiration.
Had her conduct been less admirable, she could not but have acquired
many lovers; it is not strange then, such as she was, that she should be
addressed by many men of distinguished rank and fortune. Wherever she
appeared, she attracted all eyes and engrossed the whole attention. Mrs
Thornby, more delighted with the admiration paid her daughter than she
herself, carried her frequently into public and kept a great deal of
company. Louisa could not be insensible to general approbation, but was
hurt with the serious attachment of those who more particularly
addressed her. As she was determined never to marry, thinking it a sort
of infidelity to a man whose death was owing to his affection for her,
she always took the first opportunity of discouraging every pursuit of
that kind; and restrained the natural vivacity of her temper lest it
should give rise to any hopes which could end only in disappointment.
She endeavoured to make publicly known her fixed determination never to
marry; but as those resolutions are seldom thought unalterable, many men
flattered themselves that their rank and fortunes, with their personal
merits, might conquer so strange an intention, and therefore would not
desist without an express refusal.

In the seventh year after Mrs Thornby's return into England, she was
taken off by a fever, and left Miss Mancel, at twenty-four years of age,
in possession of forty thousand pounds, a fortune which could not afford
her consolation for the loss of so tender a parent. Having nothing to
attach her to any particular part of the kingdom, she more than ever
longed to settle in Mrs Morgan's neighbourhood, but feared to occasion
some new uneasiness to her friend, and was sensible that if, when
vicinity favoured them, they should be denied the pleasure of each
other's company, or very much restrained in it, the mortification would
be still greater than when distance would not permit them to meet. She
had the satisfaction of hearing from her friend that Mr Morgan seemed to
esteem her more than for some years after their marriage, and often gave
her reason to think he did not despise her understanding and was well
pleased with her conduct. The truth was, this gentleman's eyes were at
last opened to the merits of his wife's behaviour, the long trial he
had made of her obedience, which was implicit and performed with
apparent cheerfulness; if compared with his sister's conduct, could not
fail of appearing in an amiable light, when he was no longer beset with
the malicious insinuations of Susanna, who had bestowed herself on a
young ensign whose small hopes of preferment in the army reduced him to
accept that lady and her fortune as a melancholy resource, but his only
certain provision. This alteration in Mr Morgan's temper gave Mrs Morgan
and Louisa room to hope that he might not always continue averse to
their becoming neighbours.

While they were flattering themselves with this agreeable prospect, Mr
Morgan was seized with a paralytic disorder which at first attacked his
limbs, but in a very short time affected his head so much as almost to
deprive him of his senses. He was totally confined to his bed, and
seemed not to know any one but his wife. He would take neither medicine
nor nourishment except from her hands; as he was entirely lame, she was
obliged to feed him, and he was not easy if she was out of the room.
Even in the night he would frequently call to her; if she appeared at
his bedside, he was then contented, being sure she was in the chamber,
but would fall into violent passions which he had not words to express
(for he was almost deprived of his speech) if she did not instantly
appear.

When Miss Mancel heard of his deplorable situation, she was under the
greatest apprehensions for her friend's health, from so close and so
fatiguing an attendance, and begged she might come to her, as he was
then incapable of taking umbrage at it. The offer was too agreeable to
be rejected, and these ladies met after so long an enforced separation
with a joy not to be imagined by any heart less susceptible than theirs
of the tender and delicate sensations of friendship. Louisa was almost
as constantly in Mr Morgan's room in the day time as his wife, though
she kept out of his sight, and thus they had full opportunity of
conversing together; for though the sick man often called Mrs Morgan,
yet as soon as he saw she was in the chamber he sunk again into that
state of stupefaction from which he never recovered. Mrs Morgan put a
bed up in his room, and lay there constantly, but as he was as
solicitous to know she was present in the night, as in the day, she
could never quite undress herself the whole time of his sickness.

In this condition Mr Morgan lay for three months, when death released
him from this world; and brought a seasonable relief to Mrs Morgan,
whose health was so impaired by long confinement and want of quiet rest
that she could not much longer have supported it; and vexation had
before so far impaired her constitution that nothing could have enabled
her to undergo so long a fatigue, but the infinite joy she received from
Miss Mancel's company.

When Mr Morgan's will was opened, it appeared that he had left his wife
an estate which fell to him about a month before the commencement of his
illness, where we now live. The income of it is a thousand pounds a
year, the land was thoroughly stocked and the house in good repair. Mr
Morgan had at his marriage settled a jointure on his wife of four
hundred pounds a year rent charge, and in a codicil made just after his
sister's wedding, he bequeathed her two thousand pounds in ready money.

After Mrs Morgan had settled all her affairs, it was judged necessary
that, for the recovery of her health, she should go to Tunbridge, to
which place Miss Mancel accompanied her. As Mrs Morgan's dress confined
her entirely at home, they were not in the way of making many
acquaintances; but Lady Mary Jones being in the house, and having long
been known to Miss Mancel, though no intimacy had subsisted between
them, they now became much connected. The two friends had agreed to
retire into the country, and though both of an age and fortune to enjoy
all the pleasures which most people so eagerly pursue, they were
desirous of fixing in a way of life where all their satisfactions might
be rational and as conducive to eternal as to temporal happiness. They
had laid the plan of many things, which they have since put into
execution, and engaged Mr d'Avora to live with them, both as a valuable
friend and a useful assistant in the management of their affairs.

Lady Mary was at that time so much in the same disposition, and so
charmed with such part of their scheme as they communicated to her, that
she begged to live with them for half a year, by which time they would
be able to see whether they chose her continuance there, and she should
have experienced how far their way of life was agreeable to her. Lady
Mary's merit was too apparent not to obtain their ready consent to her
proposal, and when they had the satisfaction of seeing Mrs Morgan much
recovered by the waters, and no farther benefit was expected, they came
to this house.

They found it sufficiently furnished, and in such good order, that they
settled in it without trouble. The condition of the poor soon drew their
attention, and they instituted schools for the young and almshouses for
the old. As they ordered everything in their own family with great
economy, and thought themselves entitled only to a part of their
fortunes, their large incomes allowed them full power to assist many
whose situations differed very essentially from theirs. The next expense
they undertook, after this establishment of schools and almshouses, was
that of furnishing a house for every young couple that married in their
neighbourhood, and providing them with some sort of stock, which by
industry would prove very conducive towards their living in a
comfortable degree of plenty. They have always paid nurses for the sick,
sent them every proper refreshment, and allow the same sum weekly which
the sick person could have gained, that the rest of the family may not
lose any part of their support by the incapacity of one.

When they found their fortunes would still afford a larger
communication, they began to receive the daughters of persons in office,
or other life-incomes, who, by their parents' deaths, were left
destitute of provision; and when, among the lower sort, they meet with
an uncommon genius, they will admit her among the number. The girls you
see sit in the room with us are all they have at present in that way;
they are educated in such a manner as will render them acceptable where
accomplished women of a humble rank and behaviour are wanted, either for
the care of a house or children. These girls are never out of the room
with us, except at breakfast and dinner, and after eight o'clock in the
evening, at which times they are under the immediate care of the
housekeeper, with whom they are allowed to walk out for an hour or two
every fine day, lest their being always in our company should make them
think their situation above a menial state; they attend us while we are
dressing, and we endeavour that the time they are thus employed shall
not pass without improvement. They are clad coarse and plain for the
same reason, as nothing has a stronger influence on vanity than dress.

Each of us takes our week alternately of more particular inspection over
the performances of these girls, and they all read by turns aloud to
such of us as are employed about any thing that renders it not
inconvenient to listen to them. By this sort of education my friends
hope to do extensive good, for they will not only serve these poor
orphans, but confer a great benefit on all who shall be committed to
their care or have occasion for their service; and one can set no bounds
to the advantages that may arise from persons of excellent principles,
and enlarged understandings, in the situations wherein they are to be
placed. In every thing their view is to be as beneficial to society as
possible, and they are such economists even in their charities as to
order them in a manner that as large a part of mankind as possible
should feel the happy influence of their bounty.

In this place, and in this way of life, the three ladies already
mentioned have lived upwards of twenty years; for Lady Mary Jones joined
her fortune to those of the two friends, never choosing to quit them,
and is too agreeable not to be very desirable in the society. Miss
Mancel has often declared that she plainly sees the merciful hand of
providence bringing good out of evil, in an event which she, at the time
it happened, thought her greatest misfortune; for had she married Sir
Edward Lambton, her sincere affection for him would have led her to
conform implicitly to all his inclinations, her views would have been
confined to this earth, and too strongly attached to human objects to
have properly obeyed the giver of the blessings she so much valued, who
is generally less thought of in proportion as he is more particularly
bountiful. Her age, her fortune and compliant temper might have seduced
her into dissipation and have made her lose all the heart-felt joys she
now daily experiences, both when she reflects on the past, contemplates
the present, or anticipates the future.

I think I ought to mention Mrs Morgan's behaviour to her half-sisters.
Sir Charles died about five years ago, and through his wife's
extravagance left his estate over-charged with debts and two daughters
and a son unprovided for. Lady Melvyn's jointure was not great; Sir
George, her eldest son, received but just sufficient out of his estate
to maintain himself genteelly. By the first Lady Melvyn's marriage
settlements, six thousand pounds were settled on her children, which, as
Mrs Morgan was her only child, became her property; this she divided
between her stepmother's three younger children, and has besides
conferred several favours on that family and frequently makes them
valuable presents. The young gentlemen and ladies often pass some time
here; Lady Melvyn made us a visit in the first year of her widowhood,
but our way of life is so ill suited to her taste that, except during
that dull period of confinement, she has never favoured us with her
company.

My cousin, I believe, was going to mention some other of the actions of
these ladies, which seemed a favourite topic with her, when the rest of
the company came into the garden, and we thought ourselves obliged to
join them.

The afternoons, in this family, generally concluded with one of their
delightful concerts; but as soon as the visitors were departed, the
ladies said, they would amuse us that evening with an entertainment
which might possibly be more new to us, a rustic ball. The occasion of
it was the marriage of a young woman who had been brought up by them and
had for three years been in service, but having for that whole time been
courted by a young farmer of good character, she had been married in the
morning, and that evening was dedicated to the celebration of their
wedding.

We removed into the servants' hall, a neat room, and well lighted, where
we found a very numerous assembly; sixteen couples were preparing to
dance; the rest were only spectators. The bride was a pretty, genteel
girl, dressed in a white calico gown, white ribbons, and in every
particular neat to an excess. The bridegroom was a well looking young
man, as clean and sprucely dressed as his bride, though not with such
emblematic purity. This couple, contrary to the custom of finer people
on such occasions, were to begin the ball together; but Lamont asked
leave to be the bride's partner for two or three dances, a compliment
not disagreeable to the ladies, and highly pleasing to the rest of the
company, except the bride, whose vanity one might plainly see did not
find gratification enough in having so genteel a partner to recompense
her for the loss of her Colin; he, however, seemed well satisfied with
the honour conferred on his wife.

That the bridegroom might not be without his share of civility, the
ladies gave him leave to dance with the eldest of the young girls more
particularly under their care, till his wife was restored to him.

We sat above an hour with this joyous company, whose mirth seemed as
pure as it was sincere, and I never saw a ball managed with greater
decorum. There is a coquetry and gallantry appropriated to all
conditions, and to see the different manner in which it was expressed in
this little set, from what one is accustomed to behold in higher life,
afforded me great amusement; and the little arts used among these young
people to captivate each other were accompanied with so much innocence
as made it excessively pleasing. We stayed about an hour and half in
this company, and then went to supper.

My cousin told me that Miss Mancel gave the young bride a fortune, and
that she might have her share of employment and contribute to the
provision for her family had stocked her dairy and furnished her with
poultry. This, Mrs Maynard added, was what they did for all the young
women they brought up, if they proved deserving; shewing, likewise, the
same favour to any other girls in the parish who, during their single
state, behaved with remarkable industry and sobriety. By this mark of
distinction they were incited to a proper behaviour, and appeared more
anxious for this benevolence on account of the honour that arose from it
than for the pecuniary advantage.

As the ladies' conduct in this particular was uncommon, I could not
forbear telling them, that I was surprised to find so great
encouragement given to matrimony by persons whose choice shewed them
little inclined in its favour.

'Does it surprise you,' answered Mrs Morgan smiling, 'to see people
promote that in others which they themselves do not choose to practise?
We consider matrimony as absolutely necessary to the good of society; it
is a general duty; but as, according to all ancient tenures, those
obliged to perform knight's service, might, if they chose to enjoy their
own firesides, be excused by sending deputies to supply their places; so
we, using the same privilege substitute many others, and certainly much
more promote wedlock than we could do by entering into it ourselves.
This may wear the appearance of some devout persons of a certain
religion who, equally indolent and timorous, when they do not choose to
say so many prayers as they think their duty, pay others for supplying
their deficiencies.'

'In this case,' said I, 'your example is somewhat contradictory, and
should it be entirely followed, it would confine matrimony to the lower
rank of people, among whom it seems going out of fashion, as well as
with their superiors; nor indeed can we wonder at it, for dissipation
and extravagance are now become such universal vices that it requires
great courage in any to enter into an indissoluble society. Instead of
being surprised at the common disinclination to marriage, I am rather
disposed to wonder when I see a man venture to render himself liable to
the expenses of a woman who lavishes both her time and money on every
fashionable folly, and still more, when one of your sex subjects herself
to be reduced to poverty by a husband's love for gaming, and to neglect
by his inconstancy.'

'I am of your opinion,' said Miss Trentham, 'to face the enemy's cannon
appears to me a less effort of courage than to put our happiness into
the hands of a person who perhaps will not once reflect on the
importance of the trust committed to his or her care. For the case is
pretty equal as to both sexes, each can destroy the other's peace. Ours
seems to have found out the means of being on an equality with yours.
Few fortunes are sufficient to stand a double expense. The husband must
attend the gaming-table and horse-races; the wife must have a profusion
of ornaments for her person, and cards for her entertainment. The care
of the estate and family are left in the hands of servants who, in
imitation of their masters and mistresses, will have their pleasures,
and these must be supplied out of the fortunes of those they serve. Man
and wife are often nothing better than assistants in each other's ruin;
domestic virtues are exploded, and social happiness despised as dull and
insipid.

'The example of the great infects the whole community. The honest
tradesman who wishes for a wife to assist him in his business, and to
take care of his family, dare not marry when every woman of his own
rank, emulating her superiors, runs into such fashions of dress as
require great part of his gains to supply, and the income which would
have been thought sufficient some years ago for the wife of a gentleman
of large estate will now scarcely serve to enable a tradesman's wife to
appear like her neighbours. They too must have their evening parties,
they must attend the places of public diversion, and must be allowed
perpetual dissipation without control. The poor man sighs after the days
when his father married; then cleanliness was a woman's chief personal
ornament, half the quantity of silk sufficed for her clothes, variety of
trumpery ornaments were not thought of, her husband's business employed
her attention, and her children were the objects of her care. When he
came home, wearied with the employment of the day, he found her ready to
receive him, and was not afraid of being told she was gone to the play
or opera, or of finding her engaged in a party at cards, while he was
reduced to spend his evening alone. But in a world so changed, a man
dare not venture on marriage which promises him no comfort, and may
occasion his ruin, nor wishes for children whose mother's neglect may
expose them to destruction.

'It is common to blame the lower sort of people for imitating their
superiors; but it is equally the fault of every station, and therefore
those of higher rank should consider it is their duty to set no examples
that may hurt others. A degree of subordination is always acquiesced in,
but while the nobleman lives like a prince, the gentleman will rise to
the proper expenses of a nobleman, and the tradesman take that vacant
rank which the gentleman has quitted; nor will he be ashamed of becoming
a bankrupt when he sees the fortunes of his superiors mouldering away
and knows them to be oppressed with debts. Whatever right people may
have to make free with their own happiness, a beneficial example is a
duty which they indispensably owe to society, and the profuse have the
extravagance of their inferiors to answer for. The same may be said for
those who contribute to the dissipation of others, by being dissipated
themselves.'

'But, madam,' interrupted Lamont, 'do you think it incumbent on people
of fashion to relinquish their pleasures, lest their example should lead
others to neglect their business?'

'I should certainly,' replied Miss Trentham, 'answer you in the
affirmative were the case as you put it, but much more so in the light I
see it. Every station has its duties, those of the great are more
various than those of their inferiors. They are not so confined to
economical attentions, nor ought they to be totally without them; but
their more extensive influence, their greater leisure to serve their
Creator with all the powers of their minds, constitute many duties on
their part to which dissipation is as great an enemy as it can be to
those more entirely domestic; therefore on each side there is an equal
neglect; and why should we expect that such as we imagine have fewer
advantages of education should be more capable of resisting temptations
and dedicating themselves solely to the performance of their duties,
than persons whose minds are more improved?'

'I cannot deny,' answered Lamont, 'but what you say is just, yet I fear
you have uttered truths that must continue entirely speculative; though
if any people have a right to turn reformers, you ladies are best
qualified, since you begin by reforming yourselves; you practise more
than you preach, and therefore must always be listened to with
attention.'

'We do not set up for reformers,' said Miss Mancel, 'we wish to regulate
ourselves by the laws laid down to us, and as far as our influence can
extend, endeavour to enforce them; beyond that small circle all is
foreign to us; we have sufficient employment in improving ourselves; to
mend the world requires much abler hands.'

'When you talk of laws, madam, by which you would regulate your
actions,' said Lamont, 'you raise a just alarm; as for matter of
opinion, every one may demand an equal power, but laws seem to require
obedience; pray, from whence do you take those which you wish to make
your rule of life?'

'From whence,' answered Miss Mancel, 'should a Christian take them, from
the Alcoran, think you, or from the wiser Confucius, or would you seek
in Coke on Littleton that you may escape the iron hand of the
legislative power? No, surely, the Christian's law is written in the
Bible, there, independent of the political regulations of particular
communities, is to be found the law of the supreme Legislator. There,
indeed, is contained the true and invariable law of nations; and
according to our performance of it, we shall be tried by a Judge whose
wisdom and impartiality secure him from error, and whose power is able
to execute his own decrees. This is the law I meant, and whoever obeys
it can never offend essentially against the private ordinances of any
community. This all to whom it has been declared are bound to obey, my
consent to receive it for the rule of my actions is not material; for as
whoever lives in England must submit to the laws of the country, though
he may be ignorant of many of the particulars of them, so whoever lives
in a Christian land is obliged to obey the laws of the Gospel, or to
suffer for infringing them; in both cases, therefore, it is prudent for
every man to acquaint himself thoroughly with these ordinances, which he
cannot break with impunity.'

'If such obedience be necessary,' said Lamont, 'what do you imagine will
be the fate of most of the inhabitants of Christendom; for you will
allow that they do not regulate their conduct by such severe commands?'

'What will be their fate,' replied Miss Mancel, 'I do not pretend even
to suppose, my business is to take care of my own. The laws against
robbery are not rendered either less just or less binding by the numbers
that daily steal or who demand your purse on the highway. Laws are not
abrogated by being infringed, nor does the disobedience of others make
the observance of them less my duty. I am required to answer only for
myself, and it is not man whom I am ordered to imitate. His failings
will not excuse mine. Humility forbids me to censure others, and
prudence obliges me to avoid copying them.'

Lamont thought Miss Mancel too severe in her doctrine; but there was
something so respectable in her severity, that he forbore to contest it,
and owned to me afterwards that, while she spoke and he contemplated
that amiable society, his heart silently acquiesced in the justness of
her sentiments.

We parted at our usual hour; and at the same time the company in the
lower part of the house broke up, eleven o'clock being the stated hour
for them on those occasions to return to their respective homes.

The next morning, as I went downstairs, I met the housekeeper and
entered into conversation with her, for which the preceding night's
festivity furnished me with topics. From her I learnt that since the
ladies had been established in that house they had given fortunes from
twenty to a hundred pounds, as merit and occasion directed, to above
thirty young women, and that they had seldom celebrated fewer than two
marriages in a year, sometimes more. Nor does their bounty cease on the
wedding-day, for they are always ready to assist them on any emergency;
and watch with so careful an eye over the conduct of these young people
as proves of much greater service to them than the money they bestow.
They kindly, but strongly, reprehend the first error, and guard them by
the most prudent admonitions against a repetition of their fault. By
little presents they shew their approbation of those who behave well,
always proportioning their gifts to the merits of the person; which are
therefore looked upon as the most honourable testimony of their
conduct, and are treasured up as valuable marks of distinction. This
encouragement has great influence, and makes them vie with each other in
endeavours to excel in sobriety, cleanliness, meekness and industry. She
told me also that the young women bred up at the schools these ladies
support are so much esteemed for many miles round that it is not
uncommon for young farmers, who want sober, good wives, to obtain them
from thence, and prefer them to girls of much better fortunes, educated
in a different manner, as there have been various instances wherein
their industry and quickness of understanding, which in a great measure
arises from the manner of their education, has proved more profitable to
their husbands than a more ample dower.

She added that she keeps a register of all the boys and girls, which, by
her good ladies' means, have been established in the world; whereby it
appears that thirty have been apprenticed out to good trades, three
score fixed in excellent places, and thirty married. And it seldom
happens that any one takes an apprentice or servant till they have first
sent to her ladies to know if they have any to recommend.

I expressed a desire to see the schools, which she obligingly offered to
shew me, but feared we could not then have time to go thither, as
breakfast was just ready. While I was talking with her, I observed that
the fingers of one of her hands were contracted quite close to the palm.
I took notice of it to her. 'Oh! sir,' said she, 'it was the luckiest
accident that could possibly be; as I was obliged to work for my
support, I was very much shocked at my recovery from a fever to find
myself deprived of the use of a hand, but still tried if I could get
myself received into service; as I was sensible I could, notwithstanding
my infirmity, perform the business of a housekeeper; but no one would
take me in this maimed condition. At last I was advised to apply to
these ladies and found what had hitherto been an impediment was a
stronger recommendation than the good character I had from my last
place; and I am sure I have reason to value these distorted fingers,
more than ever any one did the handsomest hands that ever nature made.
But,' added she, smiling, 'few of my fellow-servants are better
qualified; the cook cannot walk without crutches, the kitchen maid has
but one eye, the dairy maid is almost stone deaf, and the housemaid has
but one hand; and yet, perhaps, there is no family where the business is
better done; for gratitude, and a conviction that this is the only house
into which we can be received, makes us exert ourselves to the utmost;
and most people fail not from a deficiency of power, but of inclination.
Even their musicians, if you observed it, sir, are much in the same
condition. The steward, indeed, must be excepted; he is one whom the
good Mr d'Avora chose for the sake of his integrity some years before he
died, as his successor in the care of the ladies' affairs, and employed
him for some time under his own inspection, that he might be sure he was
fit for the purpose, though he persuaded the ladies to receive their own
rents and direct all the chief concerns of their estates, which they
have done ever since, so that theirs is rather a household than a land
steward. But, except this gentleman and the shepherd, there is not one
of their musicians that is not under some natural disadvantage; the
defects of two of them are so visible I need not point them out, but of
the other two, one is subject to violent fits of the stone, and the
other to the asthma. Thus disabled from hard labour, though they find
some employment in the manufacture, yet the additional profit which
accrues from their playing here adds much to their comfort, as their
infirmities render greater expenses necessary to them than to others in
their station.'

There was something so whimsically good in the conduct of the ladies in
these particulars, as at first made me smile; but when I considered it
more thoroughly, I perceived herein a refinement of charity which,
though extremely uncommon, was entirely rational. I found that not
contented with merely bestowing on the indigent as large a part of their
fortunes as they can possibly spare, they carry the notion of their duty
to the poor so far as to give continual attention to it, and endeavour
so to apply all they spend as to make almost every shilling contribute
towards the support of some person in real necessity; by this means
every expense bears the merit of a donation in the sight of him who
knows their motives; and their constant application is directed towards
the relief of others, while to superficial observers they seem only
providing for their own convenience. The fashionable tradesman is sure
not to have them in the list of his customers; but should he, through
the caprice of the multitude, be left without business, and see his
elated hopes blasted, in all probability he will find these ladies his
friends. Those whose youth renders them disregarded, or whose old age
breeds neglect, will here meet with deserved encouragement. This sort of
economy pleases me much, it is of the highest kind, since it regards
those riches which neither moth nor rust can corrupt, nor thieves break
through and steal; and is within the reach of every person's imitation,
for the poorest may thus turn their necessary expenses into virtuous
actions. In this they excel others, as much as the bee does the common
butterfly; they both feed on the same flowers, but while the butterfly
only gains a transient subsistence and flies and flutters in all its
gaudy pride, the bee lays up a precious store for its future well-being,
and may brave all the rigours of winter. Man, indeed, often encroaches
on the labours of the bee and disappoints it of its reasonable hope; but
no one without our own concurrence can despoil us of the treasures laid
up in heaven.

As the good housekeeper foretold, the bell soon summoned me to
breakfast; which, like every other hour spent in that society, was
rendered delightful by their rational cheerfulness and polite freedom.
We offered to take our leave, but should have been disappointed had we
not been asked to prolong our visit; nor were we so insincere as to make
much resistance to this agreeable invitation; we expressed some fears of
interrupting their better employments; to which Mrs Morgan replied by
assuring us that we did not do so in the least; but added, 'I will tell
you plainly, gentlemen, the only alteration we shall wish to make, if
you will favour us with your company a few days longer. Our family
devotions are regular, as you were strangers we have not summoned you to
them, but for the rest of your visit we must beg leave to alter that
method; for we do not think it a proper example to our servants to
suffer any one in this house to be excluded from them; though as your
coming was sudden, and has been prolonged only, as it were, from hour to
hour, we at first did not think it necessary to require your presence.'

You may imagine we expressed ourselves obliged by this frankness; and,
for my own part, I was glad of what appeared to me like being received
into a community of saints; but was forced to wait for it till night,
the devotion of the morning having been paid before breakfast, as was
usual in that family.

Mrs Maynard accompanied us that morning into the park, and having placed
ourselves on a green bank under an elm, by the side of the canal, I
called on her to perform her promise, and increase my acquaintance with
the rest of the ladies, by giving some account of them.

'I shall not the less readily comply,' she answered, 'for being able to
bring what I have to say of them into less compass, than I did my
history of Mrs Morgan and Miss Mancel, of whom, when I begin to speak, I
always find it difficult to leave off, and am led by my fondness for the
subject into a detail, perhaps too circumstantial. Lady Mary Jones, by
what I have already said, you may have perceived must come next in
order.'



THE HISTORY OF Lady MARY JONES


Lady Mary was daughter to the Earl of Brumpton by his second wife, who
survived the birth of her child but a few hours. The earl died when his
daughter was about ten years old, and having before his second marriage
mortgaged to its full value all of his estate which was not settled on a
son born of his first lady, his daughter was left entirely destitute of
provision But as she was too young to be much affected with this
circumstance, so she had little reason to regret it, when an increase of
years might have awakened a sensibility to that particular. Immediately
on her father's death she was taken by her aunt, Lady Sheerness, who
declared she should look upon her as her own child, and indeed her
indulgence verified the truth of her declaration.

Lady Sheerness was a widow; her jointure considerable; and her lord at
his decease left her some thousand pounds in ready money. When he died
she was about twenty-five years old, with a good person and infinite
vivacity. An unbridled imagination, ungovernable spirits, with a lively
arch countenance and a certain quaintness of expression gained her the
reputation of being possessed of a great deal of wit. Her lord, in the
decline of life, had been captivated by her youthful charms, when she
was but sixteen years old. His extreme fondness for her led him to
indulge her vivacity in all its follies; and frequently while he was
laid up at home in the gout her ladyship was the finest and gayest woman
at every place of public resort. Often, when the acuteness of his pains
obliged him to seek relief from the soporific influence of opium, she
collected half the town, and though his rest was disturbed every moment
by a succession of impetuous raps at the door, he was never offended; on
the contrary, he thought himself obliged to her for staying at home,
which she had assured him was because she could not bear to go abroad
when he was so ill. This, as the greatest mark of her tenderness he ever
received, he failed not to acknowledge with gratitude. She scarcely took
more pleasure in having a train of admirers than his lordship felt from
it; his vanity was flattered in seeing his wife the object of admiration
and he fancied himself much envied for so valuable a possession. Her
coquetry charmed him, as the follies of that vivacity of which he was so
fond. He had no tincture of jealousy in his whole composition; and
acknowledged as favours conferred on himself the attentions paid to his
wife.

Though Lord Sheerness's conduct may appear rather uncommon, yet it
seemed the result of some discernment, or at least his lady's
disposition was such as justifies this opinion; she had received a
genteel education; no external accomplishments had been neglected; but
her understanding and principles were left to the imperfection of nature
corrupted by custom. Religion was thought too serious a thing for so
young a person. The opinion of the world was always represented to her
as the true criterion by which to judge of everything, and fashion
supplied the place of every more material consideration. With a mind
thus formed, she entered the world at sixteen, surrounded with pomp and
splendour, with every gratification at her command that an affluent
fortune and an indulgent husband could bestow: by nature inclined to no
vice, free from all dangerous passions, the charm of innocence
accompanied her vivacity; undesigning and artless, her follies were
originally the consequences of her situation, not constitutional, though
habit engrafted them so strongly that at length they appeared natural to
her. Surrounded with every snare that can entrap a youthful mind, she
became a victim to dissipation and the love of fashionable pleasures;
destitute of any stable principles, she was carried full sail down the
stream of folly. In the love of coquetry and gaming few equalled her; no
one could exceed her in the pursuit of every trifling amusement; she had
neither leisure nor inclination to think, her life passed in an
uninterrupted succession of engagements, without reflection on the past
or consideration on the future consequences.

The lightness of her conduct exposed her to the addresses of many gay
men during the life of her lord; but an attachment was too serious a
thing for her; and while her giddiness and perpetual dissipation exposed
her to suspicion, they preserved her from the vice of which she was
suspected: she daily passed through the ordeal trial; every step she
took was dangerous, but she came off unhurt. Her reputation was indeed
doubtful, but her rank and fortune, and the continual amusements which
her house yielded to her acquaintance, rendered her generally caressed.

Her lord's death made no alteration in her way of life; and as her mind
was never fixed an hour on any subject, she thought not long enough of
marriage to prepare for that state and therefore continued a widow. She
was upwards of forty years old, unchanged in anything but her person,
when she took Lady Mary Jones, I will not say into her care, for that
word never entered into her vocabulary, but into her house. Lady Mary
had naturally a very good understanding, and much vivacity; the latter
met with everything that could assist in its increase in the company of
Lady Sheerness, the other was never thought of: she was initiated into
every diversion at an age when other girls are confined to their
nursery. Her aunt was fond of her and therefore inclined to indulgence,
besides she thought the knowledge of the world, which in her opinion
was the most essential qualification for a woman of fashion, was no way
to be learnt but by an early acquaintance with it.

Lady Mary's age and vivacity rendered this doctrine extremely agreeable,
she was pretty and very lively and entertaining in her conversation,
therefore at fifteen years of age she became the most caressed person in
every company. She entered into all the fashionable tastes, was
coquettish and extravagant; for Lady Sheerness very liberally furnished
her with money and felt a sort of pride in having a niece distinguished
by the fineness of her dress and her profusion in every expense, as it
was well known to have no other source but in her ladyship's generosity.
Though Lady Mary received much adulation, and was the object of general
courtship, yet she had no serious love made to her till she was between
sixteen and seventeen, when she accompanied her aunt to Scarborough: she
was there very assiduously followed by a gentleman reputed of a large
fortune in Wales. He was gay and well-bred, his person moderately
agreeable, his understanding specious and his manner insinuating. There
was nothing very engaging in the man, except the appearance of a very
tender attachment. She had before found great pleasure in being admired;
but her vanity was still more flattered in being loved: she knew herself
capable of amusing; but till now had never been able to give either
pleasure or pain, according to her sovereign decree. She grew partial to
Mr Lenman (that was the name of her lover) because he raised her
consequence in her own eyes: she played off a thousand airs of coquetry
which she had never yet had an opportunity to exercise for want of a
real lover. Sometimes she would elate him by encouragement; at others,
freeze him into despair by her affected coldness: she was never two
hours the same, because she delighted in seeing the variety of passions
she could excite.

Mr Lenman was certainly sufficiently tormented; but so great a
proficiency in coquetry at so early an age was no discouragement to his
hopes. There are no people so often the dupe of their own arts as
coquettes; especially when they become so very early in life;
therefore, instead of being damped in his pursuit, he adapted his
behaviour to her foible, vanity, and by assuming an air of indifference,
could, when he pleased, put an end to her affected reserve; though he
was not so impolite a lover as quite to deny her the gratification she
expected from her little arts. He found means, however, to command her
attention by the very serious proposal of matrimony. She had no great
inclination for the state, but the novelty pleased her. The pleasure she
received from his addresses she mistook for love, and imagined herself
deeply enamoured, when she was in reality only extremely flattered; the
common error of her age. In the company she had kept matrimony appeared
in no very formidable light; she did not see that it abridged a woman of
any of the liberties she already enjoyed; it only afforded her an
opportunity of choosing her own diversions; whereas her taste in those
points sometimes differed from her aunt's, to whom, however, she was
obliged to submit. Thus prepossessed, both in favour of her lover and
his proposal, she listened to him with more attention than she chose he
should perceive; but he was too well acquainted with the pretty arts of
coquetry not to see through them. He therefore took courage to insinuate
his desire of a private marriage, and ventured to persuade her to take a
trip with him to the northern side of Berwick upon Tweed.

Lady Mary could not see, as Mr Lenman's fortune was considerable and
hers entirely precarious, why he was so apprehensive of not being
accepted by her aunt, but there was something spirited in those northern
journeys that had always been the objects of her envy. An adventure was
the supreme pleasure of life and these pretty flights gave marriage all
the charms of romance. To be forced to fly into another kingdom to be
married gave her an air of consequence; vulgar people might tie the knot
at every parish church, but people of distinction should do everything
with an eclat. She imagined it very probable that her aunt would consent
to her union with Mr Lenman; for though he was not equal to her in
birth, yet he was her superior in fortune; but yet she looked upon his
fears of a refusal as meritorious, since he assured her they arose from
his extreme affection, which filled him with terrors on the least
prospect of losing her. Should Lady Sheerness, he urged, reject his
proposal, she might then be extremely offended with their marrying,
after they knew her disapprobation; but if they did it without her
knowledge, she would not have room to complain of downright
disobedience, and if it was displeasing to her, yet being done, and past
remedy, she would be inclined to make the best of what was unavoidable,
and forgive what she could not prevent.

These arguments were sufficiently solid for a girl of sixteen who never
thought before and could scarcely be said to do so then. Lady Mary
complied with his plan, and the day was fixed when they were to take
this lively step; their several stages settled, and many more arts and
contrivances to avoid discovery concerted, than they were likely to have
any occasion for; but in that variety of little schemes and romantic
expedients her chief pleasure in this intended marriage consisted.

The day before that on which Lady Mary and her lover were to set out for
Scotland, she was airing with Lady Sheerness when one of the horses
taking fright, they were overturned down a very steep declivity. Lady
Sheerness was but very little hurt, but Lady Mary was extremely bruised;
one side of her face received a blow which swelled it so violently that
her eye was quite closed, and her body was all over contusions. She was
taken up senseless, entirely stunned by the shock. As soon as she was
carried home, she was put to bed; a fever ensued, and she lay a
fortnight in a deplorable condition, though her life was not thought to
be in danger. Her pain, for the greatest part of that time, was too
acute to suffer her to reflect much on the different manner in which she
had intended to employ that period; and when her mind became more at
liberty, her disappointment did not sit too heavy on her spirits; for as
her heart was not really touched, she considered the delay which this
ill-timed accident had occasioned without any great concern, and rather
pleased herself with thinking that she should give an uncommon proof of
spirit, in undertaking a long journey, so soon after she was recovered
from a very evident proof that travelling is not free from danger. As
she had during this confinement more time to think than all her life had
yet afforded her, a doubt would sometimes occur, whether she did right
in entering into such an engagement without the consent of her aunt, to
whom she was much obliged. But these scruples soon vanished, and she
wondered how such odd notions came into her head, never having heard the
word duty used, but to ridicule somebody who made it the rule of their
conduct. By all she had been able to observe, pleasure was the only aim
of persons of genius, whose thoughts never wandered but from one
amusement to another, and, 'why should not she be guided by inclination
as well as other people?' That one question decided the point, and all
doubts were banished.

Before the blackness which succeeded the swelling was worn off her face,
and consequently before she could appear abroad, a young lady of her
acquaintance, who, out of charity, relinquished the diversions of the
place to sit an afternoon with Lady Mary, told her as a whimsical piece
of news she had just heard (and to tell which was the real motive for
her kind visit, having long felt a secret envy of Lady Mary) that, her
lover, Mr Lenman, had been married some years, to a young lady of small
fortune, whom he treated on that account with so little ceremony that
for a considerable time he did not own his marriage, and since he
acknowledged it had kept her constantly at his house in Wales.

This was indeed news of consequence to Lady Mary, but she was little
inclined to believe it and enquired what proof there was of this fact.
The young lady replied that she had it from a relation of hers lately
arrived at Scarborough who having been often in Mr Lenman's
neighbourhood, was well acquainted both with him and his wife, and had
in a pretty large company where she was present asked him after Mrs
Lenman's health, to which he made as short an answer as he could, but
such as shewed there was such a person, and his confusion on this
question made her relation enquire what could be the meaning of it,
which all the company could easily explain.

Lady Mary was prodigiously disconcerted with this intelligence; her
informer imagined the visible agitation of her spirits proceeded from
her attachment to Mr Lenman, but in reality it was the effect of terror.
She was frighted to think how near she was becoming the object of
general ridicule and disgrace, wedded to a married man and duped by his
cunning; for she immediately perceived why her aunt was not to be let
into the secret. How contemptible a figure must she afterwards have made
in the world! There was something in this action of Mr Lenman's very
uncommon, fashionable vices and follies had in her opinion received a
sanction from custom, but this was of a different and a deeper dye; and
little as she had been used to reflect on good and evil in any other
light than as pleasant and unpleasant, she conceived a horror at this
action.

After her visitor departed, she began to reflect on the luckiness of the
overturn which had obstructed her rash design, and admiring her good
fortune, would certainly have offered rich sacrifices on the shrine of
Chance had there been a temple there erected to that deity.

While her mind was filled with these impressions, the nurse, who had
attended her in her sickness, and was not yet dismissed, entered the
room crying with joy and told her, that she had just received the news
of the ship's being lost wherein her son was to have embarked, had he
not been seized with a fit of sickness two days before it set sail,
which made it impossible for him to go on board. The poor woman was
profuse in her acknowledgements for God's great mercy, who had by this
means prevented the destruction of her dear child. 'To be sure,' added
she, 'I shall never again repine at any thing that happens to me. How
vexed I was at this disappointment, and thought myself the most
unfortunate creature in the world because my son missed of such a good
post as he was to have had in this ship; I was continually fretting
about it and fancied that so bad a setting out was a sign the poor boy
would be unlucky all his life. How different things turn out from what
we expect! Had not this misfortune, as I thought it, happened, he would
now have been at the bottom of the sea, and my poor heart would have
been broken. Well, to be sure God is very kind! I hope my boy will
always be thankful for this providence and love the Lord who has thus
preserved him.'

This poor woman spoke a new language to Lady Mary. She knew, indeed,
that God had made the world, and had sent her into it, but she had never
thought of his taking any further care about her. She had heard that he
had forbidden murder and stealing and adultery and that, after death, he
would judge people for those crimes, and this she supposed was the
utmost extent of his attention. But the joy she felt for her own
deliverance from a misfortune into which she was so near involving
herself, and the resemblance there was in the means of her preservation
to that for which her nurse was so thankful, communicated to her some of
the same sensations, and she felt a gratitude to him who, she imagined,
might possibly be more careful over his creatures than she had ever yet
supposed.

These impressions, though pretty strong at the time, wore off after she
got abroad. A renewal of the same dissipation scattered them with every
other serious thought; and she again entered into the hurry of every
trifling amusement. Mr Lenman, as soon as he found that his marriage was
become public, despairing of the success of his scheme, left the place
before Lady Mary was out of her confinement, afraid of meeting the
reproachful glances of a woman whom he designed to injure; and whose
innocence, notwithstanding her levity, gave her dignity in the eyes of a
man who had really conceived an ardent passion for her.

Lady Sheerness and her niece stayed but a short time at Scarborough
after the latter was perfectly recovered, the season being over. They
returned to London and all the gaiety it affords; and though the town
was at that time not full, yet they had so general an acquaintance, and
Lady Sheerness rendered her house so agreeable, that she never wanted
company. Every season has its different amusements, and these ladies had
an equal taste for everything that bore the name of diversion. It is
true, they were not always entertained; but they always expected to be
so, and promised themselves amends the following day for the
disappointment of the present. If they failed of pleasure, they had
dissipation, and were in too continual a hurry to have time to ask
themselves whether they were amused; if they saw others were so, they
imagined themselves must be equally entertained; or if the dullness of
the place was too great to be overlooked, they charged it on their own
want of spirits, and complained of a languor which rendered them
incapable of receiving pleasure.

Lady Mary fortunately had had no confidante in her design of running
away with Mr Lenman, and the part he had acted was so dishonourable he
could not wish to publish it; her imprudence was therefore known only to
herself; and the fear of disobliging her aunt by letting her intended
disobedience reach her ears induced her to conceal it; otherwise, most
probably, in some unguarded hour, she would have amused her acquaintance
with the relation, embellished with whatever circumstances would have
rendered it amusing; for the love of being entertaining, and the vanity
of being listened to with eagerness, will lead people of ungoverned
vivacity to expose their greatest failings.

Lady Mary's levity encouraged her admirers to conceive hopes which her
real innocence should have repressed. Among this number was Lord Robert
St George. He was both in person and manner extremely pleasing; but what
was a stronger charm to a young woman of Lady Mary's turn of mind, he
was a very fashionable man, much caressed by the ladies, and supposed to
have been successful in his addresses to many. This is always a great
recommendation to the gay and giddy; and a circumstance which should
make a man shunned by every woman of virtue, secures him a favourable
reception from the most fashionable part of our sex.

Lady Mary would have accused herself of want of taste had she not liked
a man whom so many others had loved. She saw his attachment to her in
the light of a triumph over several of her acquaintance; and when a man
raises a woman in her own esteem, it is seldom long before he gains a
considerable share of it for himself. Vanity represented Lord Robert as
a conquest of importance, and his qualifications rendered him a very
pleasing dangler. Lady Mary liked him as well as her little leisure to
attend to one person would permit. She felt that pleasure on his
approach, that pain at his departure, that solicitude for his presence,
and that jealousy at the civilities he paid any other woman, which girls
look upon as the symptoms of a violent passion, whereas if they were to
examine their hearts very nicely they would find that only a small part
of it proceeded from love.

Lord Robert was too well skilled in these matters to remain ignorant of
the impression he had made; and if he had been less quick-sighted, the
frequent intelligence he received of it would not have suffered him long
to remain in ignorance. Lady Mary, vain of her conquest and proud of
being in love, as is usual at her age, let every intimate into her
confidence, and by mutual communication they talked a moderate liking
into a passion. Each of these young ladies were as ready to tell their
friend's secrets as their own, till the circle of that confidence
included all their acquaintance. From many of these Lord Robert heard of
Lady Mary's great attachment to him, which served not a little to
flatter his hopes. He imagined he should meet with an easy conquest of a
giddy, thoughtless girl, entirely void of all fixed principles and
violently in love with him; for his vanity exaggerated her passion. In
this persuasion he supposed nothing was wanting to his success but
opportunity, for which he took care not to wait long.

He was intimately acquainted with an old lady, whom he often met at Lady
Sheerness's, whose disposition he knew well suited to his purpose, she
had before proved convenient to him and others; not indeed by unrewarded
assistance, for as her fortune was too small to supply the expenses of
the genteel way of life she aimed at, she was glad to have that
deficiency made up by presents which she was therefore very assiduous to
deserve. This lady, as she was a woman of fashion and lived in figure,
was politely received in all gay companies who were not disposed to take
the trouble of examining scrupulously into her character. She had one
material recommendation; she played high at cards, and omitted nothing
to make her house agreeable; and few were more crowded.

This lady had often been visited by Lady Sheerness and her niece, though
generally at the same time with the multitude; but one day, when she
knew the former was confined at home by indisposition, she invited Lady
Mary, whose aunt's complaisance would not suffer her to refuse the
invitation on her account.

Lord Robert was there, and as it was only a private party, there were no
card-tables but in the outward room. The mistress of the house drew Lady
Mary into the inner, on pretence of having something particular to say
to her, Lord Robert soon followed. The conversation grew lively between
him and Lady Mary; and when the convenient gentlewoman saw them
thoroughly engaged and animated in discourse, she quietly withdrew,
returning to the company, whose attention was too much fixed on the
cards to perceive that any one was missing; and to keep their thoughts
more entirely engrossed, she betted with great spirit at every table.

Lady Mary did not perceive she was left alone with Lord Robert, till the
growing freedom of his address made her observe it; but as prudence was
not one of her virtues, she was not at all disconcerted with this
tête-à-tête; nor did it lessen her vivacity. Lord Robert, encouraged by
her easiness on the occasion, declared himself so plainly that she was
no longer able to blind herself to his views and with surprise found
seduction was his aim, if that word maybe used for a man's designs
against the honour of a woman who seems so careless of it. Her heart was
entirely innocent of vice, and she could not imagine how his lordship
could conceive it possible to succeed with her in intentions of that
sort. She had always thought such imprudence in a woman a very great
folly, for in a graver light she had never beheld it, and shewed herself
offended at his supposing her capable of such a weakness; but without
that honest indignation which a woman would have felt who had acted on
better principles.

Lord Robert was not much discouraged; a woman is under great
disadvantage when her lover knows himself to be so much beloved that she
dare not let her anger continue long, for fear of losing him for ever.
He was well convinced that mere worldly prudence could not make a
lasting resistance against a strong passion, and such he flattered
himself hers was. He therefore ventured to resume the subject; but his
perseverance increased Lady Mary's surprise and she began to think
herself affronted. Her partiality pleaded in his favour some time; but
at length she thought it necessary to retire, notwithstanding his utmost
endeavours to detain her. As she left him, she desired him to learn to
believe better of her understanding: she perceived it no otherwise an
insult; her education had deprived her of that delicacy which should
have made her feel a severe mortification at the little share she had of
the good opinion of a man she loved; on the contrary, she esteemed the
affront she had received a proof of his affection. She had often indeed
heard the name of virtue, but by the use she had known made of the word,
it appeared to her to have no other signification than prudence. She was
not at all shocked with Lord Robert's conduct; but resolved not to
concur in his views, because she had no inclination to do so, that
overbalanced her very moderate degree of prudence. On this account she
determined to avoid being again alone with him.

Lady Mary's natural sense gave rise to some doubts, whether the very
open professions of gallantry which Lord Robert had made to her were
common; she had been frequently addressed with freedom, but his
behaviour seemed more than commonly presuming. In order to find what
others would think of it, she often turned the conversation to those
sort of subjects, and was a good deal startled one day by a lively, but
amiable and modest young lady who said she believed no man that was not
an absolute fool, or at the time intoxicated, ever insulted a woman with
improper behaviour or discourse, if he had not from some impropriety in
her conduct seen reason to imagine it would not be ill received; and I
am sure, added she, 'if such a thing was ever to befall me, it would
convert me into a starched prude, for fear that hereafter innocent
vivacity might be mistaken for vicious levity: I should take myself very
severely to task, convinced the offence was grounded on my conduct; for
I am well persuaded there is something so respectable in virtue that no
man will dare to insult it, except when a great disparity in
circumstances encourages an abandoned wretch to take advantage of the
necessity of the indigent.'

Lady Mary was greatly affected by this sentiment she began to reflect on
her own behaviour, and could not but see that Lord Robert might, without
any great danger of offending, hazard the behaviour he had been guilty
of; since in effect she had not conceived much anger against him, and
though she had hitherto avoided being again alone with him, yet she had
not shewn any very great marks of displeasure. She now watched with
attention the conduct of other young ladies; many of them seemed to act
on the same principles as herself; but she observed that she who had by
her declaration first raised in her suspicions about her own behaviour,
had a very different manner from hers. She was indeed gay and lively;
but her vivacity seemed under the direction of modesty. In her greatest
flow of spirits, she hazarded no improper expression, nor suffered
others to do so without a manifest disgust she saw that the gentlemen
who conversed with her preserved an air of respect and deference, which
they laid aside when they addressed women whose vivacity degenerated
into levity. She now began to perceive some impropriety in her own
behaviour, and endeavoured to correct it; but nothing is more difficult
than to recover a dignity once lost. When she attempted to restrain her
gaiety within proper bounds, she was laughed at for her affectation: if,
when the conversation was improper, she assumed an air of gravity, she
was accused of the vapours or received hints that she was out of humour.

These were great discouragements in her endeavours to correct the errors
of her conduct, but gave her less pain than the difficulties she was
under about Lord Robert St George. He still continued to address her
with a freedom of manners which she now perceived was insulting; she
wanted to discourage his insolence but feared giving a total offence to
a man who had too great a share of her affections; she was apprehensive
that if she quite deprived him of his hopes, she should entirely lose
him and he would attach himself to some other woman. This situation was
dangerous and Lord Robert knew the power he had over her. The dilemma
she was in really abated the vivacity she wished to restrain, but it was
immediately attributed to the anxiety of a love-sick mind, and she was
exposed to continual raillery on that subject. Her lover secretly
triumphed, flattering himself that her passion was now combating on his
side.

In this situation she was unable to determine what part to act, and all
her intimates were too much like herself to be capable of advising her.
Thus distressed, she resolved to cultivate the acquaintance of the young
lady who had opened her eyes to her own conduct, and try what relief she
could obtain from her advice. This was easily effected; Lady Mary was
too amiable not to have any advances she made answered with pleasure. An
intimacy soon ensued.

Lady Mary communicated to her new friend all the difficulties of her
situation and confessed to her the true state of her heart. That young
lady was not void of compassion for her uneasiness; but told her that
while she was encouraging Lord Robert's passion, she was losing his
esteem, which alone was worth preserving. 'I allow,' said she, 'that by
depriving him of his hopes, you may put an end to his addresses; but
consider, my dear Lady Mary, what satisfaction they can afford you if
they are only the result of a fondness for your person which would lose
all its charms for him as soon as it became familiarized by possession.
You would then at once find yourself both neglected and despised by the
man for whose sake you had rendered yourself truly despicable. I know
you are incapable of an action that would at the same time rid you of
his esteem and of the more valuable consciousness of knowing yourself to
be truly estimable. I am not of the opinion of those who think chastity
the only virtue of consequence to our sex; but it is certainly so very
essential to us that she who violates it seldom preserves any other. And
how should she? For if there are others as great, greater there cannot
be, there is none so necessary. But herein I know you are of my opinion;
I only therefore intreat you to shew Lord Robert that you are so; do not
let him mistake your real sentiments; nor in order to preserve his love,
if custom will oblige me to call his passion by that name, leave him
reason to flatter himself that you will fall a victim to his arts and
your own weakness.

'Consider with yourself,' continued she, 'which is most desirable, his
esteem or his courtship? If you really love him, you can make no
comparison between them, for surely there cannot be a greater suffering
than to stand low in the opinion of any person who has a great share of
our affections. If he neglects you on finding that his criminal designs
cannot succeed, he certainly does not deserve your love, and the
consciousness of having raised yourself in his opinion and forced him to
esteem you, together with the pleasure of reflecting that you have acted
as you ought, will afford you consolation.'

These arguments had due weight with Lady Mary, she determined to follow
her friend's advice and submit to the consequences. Lady Sheerness had
company that evening and among the rest Lord Robert. He was, as usual,
assiduous in his addresses to Lady Mary who, withdrawing to a little
distance from the company, told him, that she had too long suffered his
lordship to continue a courtship, which he had plainly acknowledged was
made with such views as gave her great reason to blame herself for ever
having listened to it. She acknowledged that the levity of her conduct
had been such as lessened her right to reproach him. Encouraged by her
errors, and presuming perhaps on a supposition that he was not
unpleasing to her, he had ventured to insult her in a flagrant manner,
but without complaining of what was past, she thought herself obliged to
tell him his pursuit was in vain; that the errors in her conduct were
the fault of education; nor might she so soon have been convinced of
them if his behaviour had not awakened her to a sense of some
impropriety in her own conduct, which, conscious of the innocence of her
intentions, she had never suspected: she then told him that if he did
not entirely desist from all addresses to her she should be obliged to
acquaint her aunt with his behaviour, who could not suffer such an
insult on her niece to pass unresented.

As soon as she had thus explained herself to Lord Robert, she mingled
with the crowd, though with a mind little inclined to join in their
conversation; but her young friend was there and endeavoured to support
her spirits, which were overcome by the effort she had made. This young
lady soon after went into the country and returned no more to London.

Lord Robert was so disconcerted that he left the room as soon as Lady
Mary had thus given him his dismissal. As their acquaintance lay much in
the same set, they frequently saw each other. Lord Robert endeavoured to
conquer Lady Mary's resolution by sometimes exciting her jealousy and at
others making her the object of his addresses; but she continued steady
in her conduct, though with many secret pangs. He began at last to
converse with her with greater ease to himself as his passion abated
when no longer nourished by hope; and notwithstanding a remainder of
pique, he could not forbear treating her with a respect which her
conduct deserved; for he plainly saw she had acted in contradiction to
her own heart. This alteration in his behaviour afforded her great
satisfaction; and though her love was not extinguished, it ceased to be
very painful when she was persuaded she had obtained some share of his
esteem.

When Lady Mary was in her twentieth year, Lady Sheerness was seized with
a lingering, but incurable disorder. It made little alteration in her
mind. In this melancholy situation she applied to cards and company to
keep up her spirits as assiduously as she had done during her better
health. She was incapable indeed of going so much abroad, but her
acquaintance, who still found her house agreeable, applauded their
charity in attending her at home. Cards even employed the morning, for
fear any intermission of visitors should leave her a moment's time for
reflection. In this manner she passed the short remainder of her life,
without one thought of that which was to come. Her acquaintance, for I
cannot call them as they did themselves, friends, were particularly
careful to avoid every subject that might remind her of death. At night
she procured sleep by laudanum; and from the time she rose, she took
care not to have leisure to think; even at meals she constantly engaged
company, lest her niece's conversation should not prove sufficient to
dissipate her thoughts. Every quack who proposed curing what was
incurable was applied to, and she was buoyed up with successive hopes of
approaching relief.

She grew at last so weak that, unable even to perform her part at the
card-table, Lady Mary was obliged to deal, hold her cards and sort them
for her, while she could just take them out one by one and drop them on
the table. Whist and quadrille became too laborious to her weakened
intellects, but loo supplied their places and continued her amusement to
the last, as reason or memory were not necessary qualifications to play
at it.

Her acquaintances she found at length began to absent themselves, but
she re-animated their charity by making frequent entertainments for
them, and was reduced to order genteel suppers to enliven the evening,
when she herself was obliged to retire to her bed. Though it was for a
considerable time doubtful whether she should live till morning, it was
no damp to the spirits of any of the company from which she had
withdrawn, except to Lady Mary, who, with an aching heart, was obliged
to preside every evening at the table, and to share their unfeeling
mirth, till two or three o'clock in the morning.

She was greatly afflicted with the thought of her aunt's approaching
death, whose indulgence to her, however blameable, had made a deep
impression on her heart; as this gave a more serious turn to her mind,
she could not see Lady Sheerness's great insensibility to what must
happen after death without much concern. The great care that was taken
to rob her of leisure to reflect on matters of such high importance
shocked her extremely; and she was disgusted with the behaviour of those
she called her friends, who she plainly perceived would have fallen into
total neglect of her had she not found means to render her house more
amusing to them than any into which they could enter. She now saw that
friendship existed not without esteem; and that pleasurable connections
would break at the time they were most wanted.

This course of life continued, till one evening Lady Sheerness was
seized with a fainting fit at the card-table, and being carried to her
bed, in half an hour departed to a world of which she had never thought
and for which she was totally unprepared.

As Lady Mary was not able to return to the company, they in decency, not
in affliction, retired.

Having long expected this event, her grief was greater than her
surprise. She sent for the gentleman who she knew was her aunt's
executor, that her will might be opened and necessary directions given
for the funeral. Lady Mary had no doubt of succeeding to an easy
fortune, and when the will was read it confirmed her in that supposition
by appointing her sole heiress. But the executor told her he feared she
would find no inheritance. The will was made on her first coming to Lady
Sheerness, when there was some remains of the money her lord had left
her, but he was well convinced it had since been not only entirety
expended, but considerable debts incurred.

This account was soon proved true by the demands of numerous creditors.
Lady Mary gave up all her aunt's effects, which fell short of the debts,
and remained herself in the same destitute condition from which Lady
Sheerness had rescued her. This was a very severe shock; she had seen
sufficient proof of the little real friendship to be found in such
fashionable connections as she had been engaged in, to know that she had
nothing to hope from any of her acquaintance. Her father had been at
variance with most of his relations, and Lady Sheerness had kept up the
quarrel. She had therefore little expectation of assistance from them in
the only wish she could form, which was to obtain a pension from the
government, whereto her rank seemed to entitle her. She saw no resource
but in the pride of some insolent woman who would like to have a person
of her quality dependent on her; a prospect far worse than death. Or
possibly, good-nature might procure her a reception among some of her
acquaintance; but as she had nothing even to answer her personal
expenses, how soon would they grow weary of so chargeable a visitor?

While she was oppressed with these reflections, and had nothing before
her eyes but the gloomy prospect of extreme distress, she received a
message from Lady Brumpton, who waited in her equipage at the door,
desiring to be admitted to see her, for Lady Mary had given a general
order to be denied, being unfit to see company, and unwilling to be
exposed to the insulting condolence of many whose envy at the splendour
in which she had lived and the more than common regard that had usually
been shewn her, would have come merely to enjoy the triumph they felt on
her present humiliation.

Lady Brumpton was widow to Lady Mary's half-brother. She had been a
private gentlewoman of good family but small fortune, by marrying whom
her lord had given such offence to his father that he would never after
admit him to his presence. Lady Sheerness had shewn the same resentment
and there no longer subsisted any communication between the families.
Lord Brumpton had been dead about three years and left no children.

His widow was still a fine woman. She was by nature generous and humane,
her temper perfectly good, her understanding admirable. She had been
educated with great care, was very accomplished, had read a great deal
and with excellent taste; she had great quickness of parts and a very
uncommon share of wit. Her beauty first gained her much admiration; but
when she was better known, the charms of her understanding seemed to
eclipse those of her person. Her conversation was generally courted, her
wit and learning were the perpetual subjects of panegyric in verse and
prose, which unhappily served to increase her only failing, vanity. She
sought to be admired for various merits. To recommend her person she
studied dress and went to considerable expense in ornaments. To shew her
taste, she distinguished herself by the elegance of her house, furniture
and equipage. To prove her fondness for literature, she collected a
considerable library; and to shew that all her esteem was not engrossed
by the learned dead, she caressed all living geniuses; all were welcome
to her house, from the ragged philosopher to the rhyming peer; but while
she only exchanged adulation with the latter, she generously relieved
the necessities of the former. She aimed at making her house a little
academy; all the arts and sciences were there discussed, and none dared
to enter who did not think themselves qualified to shine and partake of
the lustre which was diffused round this assembly.

Though encircled by science and flattery, Lady Mary's distress reached
Lady Brumpton's ears and brought her to that young lady's door, who was
surprised at the unexpected visit, but could not refuse her admittance.
Lady Brumpton began by apologizing for her intrusion but excused herself
on the great desire she had of being acquainted with so near a relation
of her lord's, who, as she was too young to have any share in the
unhappy divisions in the family, she was persuaded was free from those
ill-grounded resentments which the malice and impertinence of
tale-bearers are always watchful to improve; and when she considered
herself as the first occasion of the quarrel, she thought it her duty,
in regard to her deceased lord's memory, to offer that protection his
sister might justly demand from her, and which her youth rendered
necessary.

Lady Mary was charmed with the politeness of Lady Brumpton's address,
but still more with the generosity of her behaviour in seeking her out,
at a time when so many were diligent to avoid her. The acknowledgements
she made for the favour done her spoke as much in her recommendation as
her person. Lady Brumpton after some conversation told her she had a
request to make to which she could not well suffer a denial; this was no
other than that she would leave that melancholy house and make hers the
place of her fixed abode; for as, by Lord Brumpton's will, he had
bequeathed her his whole fortune, she should not enjoy it with peace of
mind if his sister did not share in the possession.

This very agreeable invitation filled Lady Mary with joy and surprise.
She made a proper return to Lady Brumpton for her generosity and they
agreed that Lady Mary should remove to her house the next day.

When Lady Mary was left alone to reflect on this unexpected piece of
good fortune, and considered the distress she had been in but two hours
before, and from which she was now so happily delivered; when she
reflected on the many calamities wherewith from her childhood she had
been threatened and by what various means she had been saved so often
from ruin, she could not forbear thinking that she was indeed the care
of that Being who had hitherto employed so little of her thoughts. Such
frequent mercies as she had received, sometimes in being preserved from
the fatal consequences of her own follies, at others from the
unavoidable distresses to which she had been exposed, awakened in her
mind a lively gratitude to the supreme Disposer of all human events. The
poor consolations to which her aunt had been reduced in the melancholy
conclusion of her life shewed her that happiness did not consist in
dissipation, nor in tumultuous pleasures, and could alone be found in
something which every age and every condition might enjoy. Reason seemed
this source of perpetual content and she fancied that alone would afford
a satisfaction suitable to every state of mind and body. Some degree of
religion she imagined necessary, and that to perform the duties it
required was requisite to our peace. But the extent of true religion she
had never considered, though her great good fortune told her that she
ought to be thankful for the blessings conferred and not distrust the
care of providence, of which she had received such signal proofs.

She had often heard Lady Brumpton ridiculed under the appellation of a
genius and a learned lady; but when she recollected who those persons
were, no other than the open professors of folly, it did not prejudice
that lady in her opinion, but rather raised her expectation of being
introduced into a superior race of beings for whose conversation she
knew herself unqualified, but from whom she hoped for some improvement
to her understanding, too long neglected.

In this disposition of mind Lady Brumpton found her at the hour that she
had appointed to fetch her. They went directly into Lady Brumpton's
dressing room, who presented Lady Mary with a settlement she had
prepared of a hundred pounds a year which she begged her to accept for
her clothes and desired that whenever she found it insufficient she
would draw on her for more: she at the same time made her the first
payment.

Lady Mary, now entered into a new set of company, frequently found
herself entirely at a loss; for she was so totally unacquainted with the
subjects of their discourse that she understood them almost as little as
if they had talked another language; she told Lady Brumpton how much she
was concerned at her own ignorance and begged she would give her some
directions what she should read. That lady, whose chief aim was to
shine, recommended to her the things most likely to fall into
conversation, that she might be qualified to bear her part in it. Lady
Mary took her advice and read some moral essays, just published; then a
new play; after that the history of one short period; and ended with a
volume of sermons then much in fashion. When she began to examine what
she had acquired by her studies, she found such a confusion in her
memory, where a historical anecdote was crowded by a moral sentiment and
a scrap of a play interwoven into a sermon, that she determined to
discontinue that miscellaneous reading and begin a regular and improving
course, leaving to others the privilege of sitting in judgement on every
new production.

In this situation Lady Mary continued some years, without any
mortification, except what she felt from seeing the consequences of Lady
Brumpton's too great vanity. It led her into expenses, which though they
did not considerably impair her fortune, yet so far straitened it that
she frequently had not power to indulge the generosity of her mind where
it would have done her honour and have yielded her solid satisfaction.
The adulation which she received with too much visible complacency
inspired her with such an opinion of herself as led her to despise those
of less shining qualities, and not to treat any with proper civility
whom she had not some particular desire to please, which often gave
severe pangs to bashful merit, and called her real superiority in
question; for those who observed so great a weakness were tempted to
believe her understanding rather glittering than solid. The desire of
attracting to her house every person who had gained a reputation for
genius occasioned many to be admitted whose acquaintance were a disgrace
to her, and who artfully taking advantage of her weakness by excess of
flattery found means of imposing on her to any degree they pleased.

The turn of conversation at her house was ridiculed in every other
company by people who appeared most desirous of being in her parties.
And indeed it was capable of being so; the extreme endeavour to shine
took off from that ease in conversation which is its greatest charm.
Every person was like a bent bow, ready to shoot forth an arrow which
had no sooner darted to the other side of the room, than it fell to the
ground and the next person picked it up and made a new shot with it.
Like the brisk lightning in the Rehearsal, they gave flash for flash;
and they were continually striving whose wit should go off with the
greatest report. Lady Mary, who had naturally a great deal of vivacity
and a sufficient share of wit, made no bad figure in the brilliant
assembly; for though she perceived an absurdity in these mock skirmishes
of genius, yet she thought proper to conform to her company; but saw
plainly that a sprightly look and lively elocution made the chief merit
of the best _bons mots_ that were uttered among them.

After she had spent about five years with Lady Brumpton, this lady was
seized with a nervous fever which all the art of her physicians could
not entirely conquer. Her spirits were extremely affected and her
friends decreased in their attentions as her vivacity decayed. She had
indeed always been superior to her company in every requisite to please
and entertain, therefore when she could not bear her part the
conversations flagged; they dwindled from something like wit into oddity
and then sunk into dullness. She was no longer equally qualified to
please or to be pleased; her mind was not at unison with shallow jesters
and therefore they could make no harmony.

Her disorder wore her extremely and turned to an atrophy. In that
gradual decay she often told Lady Mary she was awakened from a dream of
vanity; she saw how much a desire to gain the applause of a few people
had made her forget the more necessary aim of obtaining the approbation
of her Creator. She had indeed no criminal actions to lay to her charge;
but how should she? Vanity preserved her from doing anything which she
imagined would expose her to censure. She had done some things
commendable, but she feared the desire of being commended was part of
her motive. The humility and calmness of a true Christian disposition
had appeared to her meanness of spirit or affectation, and a religious
life as the extremest dullness; but now too late she saw her error, and
was sensible she had never been in the path of happiness. She had not
erred from want of knowledge, but from the strong impulse of vanity
which led her to neglect it; but sickness, by lowering her spirits, had
taken away the false glare which dazzled her eyes, and restored her to
her sight.

Lady Brumpton was sensible of her approaching death some weeks before
she expired, and was perfectly resigned. Lady Mary had a second time the
melancholy office of closing the eyes of a benefactress and relation
whom she sincerely loved. Lady Brumpton, to remove from her any anxiety
on her own account, acquainted her, as soon as her disease became
desperate, that she had bequeathed her ten thousand pounds, and all her
plate and jewels.

Lady Mary found this information true, and received the sum. She was
tenderly concerned for the loss of so good a friend; and by the various
circumstances of her life and the many blessings bestowed on her, had a
heart so touched with the greatness of divine mercy that her mind took a
more serious turn than common; and tired of the multitude in which she
had so long lived, she was seeking for a retirement when she met Mrs
Morgan and Miss Mancel at Tunbridge; and as I have already told you,
came hither with them.

Mrs Maynard was not a little wearied with so long a narrative, and
therefore did not continue much longer with us; but Lamont and I
remained in the park till dinner.

In the afternoon the ladies proposed we should go upon the water, a
scheme very agreeable to us all; some of the inhabitants of the other
community were of the party. We got into a very neat boat, of a size
sufficient to contain a large company, and which was rowed by the
servants of the family. We went about three miles up the river, with
great pleasure, and landed just by a neat house where we understood we
were to drink tea. The mistress of it received us with great joy and
told the ladies she had longed to see them, their young folks having
quite finished her house, which she begged leave to shew us. Its extreme
neatness rendered it an object worthy of observation; and I was
particularly attentive as, its size suiting my plan of life, I
determined to copy it.

The rooms were neither large nor numerous, but most of them hung with
paper and prettily adorned. There were several very good drawings framed
with shells, elegantly put together; and a couple of cabinets designed
for use, but they became ornamental by being painted and seaweeds stuck
thereon, which by their variety and the happy disposition of them
rendered the doors and each of the drawers a distinct landscape. Many
other little pieces of furniture were by the same art made very pretty
and curious. I learnt in a whisper from Mrs Maynard that this
gentlewoman was widow to the late minister of the parish and was left at
his death with five small children in very bad circumstances. The ladies
of Millenium Hall immediately raised her drooping spirits, settled an
income upon her, took this house, furnished it and lent her some of
their girls to assist in making up the furniture, and decorating it,
according to the good woman's taste. She carried us into her little
garden that was neat to an excess and filled with flowers, which we
found some of her children tying up and putting in order while the
younger were playing about, all dressed with the same exact neatness as
herself.

When we had performed this little progress we found tea ready, and spent
the afternoon with greater pleasure, for observing the high
gratification which this visit seemed to afford the mistress of the
house. In the room where we sat was a bookcase well stocked; my
curiosity was great to see what it contained, and one of the ladies to
whom I mentioned it indulged me by opening it herself and looking at
some of the books. I found they consisted of some excellent treatises of
divinity, several little things published for the use of children and
calculated to instil piety and knowledge into their infant minds, with a
collection of our best periodical papers for the amusement of lighter
hours. Most of these books, I found, were Miss Mancel's presents.

The fineness of the evening made our return very delightful, and we had
time for a little concert before supper.

The next morning I called up Lamont very early and reminded the
housekeeper of her promise of shewing us the schools; which she readily
performing, conducted us first to a very large cottage or rather five or
six cottages laid together. Here we found about fifty girls, clad in a
very neat uniform and perfectly clean, already seated at their
respective businesses. Some writing, others casting accounts, some
learning lessons by heart, several employed in various sorts of
needlework, a few spinning and others knitting, with two
schoolmistresses to inspect them. The schoolroom was very large and
perfectly clean, the forms and chairs they sat on were of wood as white
as possible; on shelves were wooden bowls and trenchers equally white,
and shining pewter and brass seemed the ornaments of one side of the
room; while pieces of the children's work of various kinds decorated the
other; little samples of their performances being thus exhibited as
encouragement to their ingenuity.

I asked many questions as to their education and learnt that they are
bred up in the strictest piety; the ladies by various schemes and many
little compositions of their own endeavour to inculcate the purest
principles in their tender minds. They all by turns exercise themselves
in the several employments which we saw going forward, that they may
have various means of gaining their subsistence in case any accident
should deprive them of the power of pursuing any particular part of
their business. The ladies watch their geniuses with great care; and
breed them up to those things which seem most suitable to the turn of
their minds. When any are designed for service, they are taught the
business of the place they are best fitted for by coming down to the
hall and performing the necessary offices under the direction of the
excellent servants there.

A very large kitchen garden belongs to the house, which is divided into
as many parts as there are scholars; to weed and keep this in order is
made their principal recreation; and by the notice taken of it they are
taught to vie with each other which shall best acquit themselves, so
that perhaps never was a garden so neat. They likewise have no small
share in keeping those at the hall in order; and the grotto and seats
are chiefly their workmanship.

I gave them due praise upon their performances at the clergyman's
widow's, and delighted two of them very much by my admiration of a
little arbour which they had there planted with woodbines and other
sweet shrubs. In their own garden they are allowed the indulgence of any
little whim which takes not up too much room; and it is pretty to see
their little seats, their arbours and beds of flowers, according to
their several tastes. As soon as school breaks up, they run with as much
eagerness and joy to their garden, as other children do to their
childish sports; and their highest pleasure is the approbation their
patronesses give their performances. They likewise take it by turns to
do the business of the house and emulation excites them to a cleanliness
which could not by any other means be preserved.

From this school we went to one instituted for boys, which consisted of
about half the number, and most of them small, as they are dismissed to
labour as soon as they are able to perform any work, except
incapacitated by ill health. This is instituted on much the same
principles as the other, and every boy of five years old has his little
spade and rake which he is taught to exercise.

We returned from our little tour in time enough for prayers, with minds
well prepared for them, by the view of such noble fruits of real piety.
Indeed the steward who reads them does it with such extreme propriety
and such humble and sincere devotion as is alone sufficient to fix the
attention and warm the hearts of his hearers.

After breakfast was over, we got Mrs Maynard to accompany us into the
garden, she in complaisance to us abstaining while we were at the hall
from her share in the daily visits the ladies pay to their several
institutions, and to the poor and sick in their village. Their
employments are great, but their days are proportionable; for they are
always up by five o'clock, and by their example the people in the
village rise equally early; at that hour one sees them all engaged in
their several businesses with an assiduity which in other places is not
awakened till much later.

I called on Mrs Maynard to continue her task, which without any previous
ceremony she did as follows.



THE HISTORY OF Miss SELVYN


Mr Selvyn, the younger brother of an ancient family, whose fortune was
inferior to the rank it held in the country where it had long been
fixed, was placed in trade in London; but his success not answering his
hopes, he gave it up before it was too late to secure himself a small
subsistence and retired into the country when Miss Selvyn was about five
years old. His wife had been dead two years; thus his little girl's
education devolved entirely on himself.

He bred her up genteelly, though his fortune was small, and as he was
well qualified for the part became himself her tutor and executed that
office so well that at twelve years old she excelled all the young
ladies in the neighbourhood of her own age in French and writing, either
for hand or style; and in the great propriety and grace with which she
read English. She had no small knowledge of accounts and had made some
progress in the study of history. Her person was elegant and pleasing
and her temper and manner perfectly engaging; but yet these charms could
not induce the neighbouring families to forgive her for excelling other
girls in her accomplishments.

They censured Mr Selvyn for giving his daughter an education to which
her fortune was so little suited, and thought he would have done better
to have bred her up to housewifery and qualified her for the wife of an
honest tradesman; for part of what he had was known to be a life income;
a small sinecure having been procured him by his friends in town before
he retired into the country.

The censures of those who love to shew their own wisdom by blaming
others had little effect on Mr Selvyn; he continued his diligence in
cultivating his little girl's mind; and even taught himself many things
that he might be able to instruct her. If he did not breed her up in a
manner to gain a subsistence by the most usual means, he however
qualified her to subsist on little; he taught her true frugality without
narrowness of mind, and made her see how few of all the expenses the
world ran into were necessary to happiness. He deprived her of all
temptation to purchase pleasures, by instructing her to seek only in
herself for them; and by the various accomplishments he had given her,
prevented that vanity of mind which leads people to seek external
amusements. The day was not sufficient for her employments, therefore
she could not be reduced to trifle away any part of it for fear of its
lying heavy on her hands.

Thus Miss Selvyn was bred a philosopher from her cradle, but was better
instructed in the doctrine of the ancient moralists than in the
principles of Christianity. Mr Selvyn was not absolutely a free-thinker,
he had no vices that made him an enemy to Christianity, nor that pride
which tempts people to contradict a religion generally received; he did
not apprehend that disbelief was a proof of wisdom, nor wished to lessen
the faith of others, but was in himself sceptical; he doubted of what he
could not entirely comprehend and seemed to think those things at least
improbable which were not level to his understanding. He avoided the
subject with Miss Selvyn; he could not teach her what he did not
believe, but chose to leave her free to form that judgement which should
in time seem most rational to her.

I could not forbear interrupting Mrs Maynard to signify my approbation
of Mr Selvyn's conduct in this particular as the only instance I had
ever met with of a candid mind in one who had a tendency towards
infidelity; for 'I never knew any who were not angry with those that
believed more than themselves, and who were not more eager to bring
others over to their opinions than most foreign missionaries; yet surely
nothing can be more absurd, for these men will not dare to say that the
virtues which Christianity requires are not indispensable duties; on the
contrary, they would have us imagine they are most sincerely attached to
them; what advantage then can accrue to any one, from being deprived of
the certainty of a reward for his obedience? If we deny revelation, we
must acknowledge this point to be very uncertain; it was the subject of
dispute and doubt among all the philosophers of antiquity; and we have
but a poor dependence for so great a blessing if we rest our expectation
where they did theirs. Can a man therefore be rendered happier by being
deprived of this certainty? Or can we suppose he will be more virtuous,
because we have removed all the motives that arise from hope and fear?
And yet, what else can excuse an infidel's desire to make converts?
Nothing. Nor can any thing occasion it but a secret consciousness that
he is in the wrong, which tempts him to wish for the countenance of more
associates in his error; this likewise can alone give rise to his
rancour against those who believe more than himself; he feels them a
tacit reproach to him, which to his pride is insupportable.'

'But,' said Lamont, 'do you imagine that a free-thinker may not be
certain of a future state?'

'Not positively,' answered Mrs Maynard. 'If he is certain of that point,
he is a believer without owning it; he must have had his certainty from
Scripture; all the reason he boasts can only shew it probable, and that
probability is loaded with so many difficulties as will much weaken
hope. Where can reason say immortality shall stop? We must allow that
Omnipotence may bestow it on such ranks of being as he pleases. But how
can reason tell us to whom he has given it? Whether to all creation, or
no part of it? Pride indeed makes man claim it for himself, but deny it
to others; and yet the superior intelligence perceivable in some brutes,
to what appears in some of his own species, should raise doubts in him
who has nothing but the reasonings of his own weak brain to go upon. But
to proceed with my subject.'

The minister of the parish wherein Mr Selvyn dwelt was a gentleman of
great learning and strict probity. He had every virtue in the most
amiable degree, and a gentleness and humility of mind which is the most
agreeable characteristic of his profession. He had a strong sense of the
duties of his function and dedicated his whole time to the performance
of them. He did not think his instructions should be confined to the
pulpit; but sensible that the ignorant were much more effectually taught
in familiar conversation than by preaching, he visited frequently the
very poorest of his parishioners; and by the humility of his behaviour
as much as by his bounty (for he distributed a great part of his income
among the necessitous) he gained the affections of the people so
entirely that his advice was all-powerful with them.

This gentleman's great recreation was visiting Mr Selvyn, whose sense
and knowledge rendered his conversation extremely entertaining, and Miss
Selvyn's company was a great addition to the good minister's pleasure,
he took delight in seeing her, as Hamlet says, 'bear her faculties so
meekly'. She was entirely void of conceit and vanity, and did not seem
to have found out that her knowledge exceeded that of most persons of
her age, at least she looked upon it as a casual advantage which
reflected no honour to herself but was entirely owing to Mr Selvyn. Her
youthful cheerfulness enlivened the party without rendering the
conversation less solid; and her amiable disposition made the good
minister particularly anxious for her welfare.

He soon found out Mr Selvyn's scepticism and endeavoured to remove it.
He represented to him that his not being able to understand the most
mysterious parts of Christianity was no argument against the truth of
them. That there were many things in nature whose certainty he by no
means doubted, and yet was totally ignorant of the methods whereby many
of them operated, and even of the use of some of them. Could he say what
purpose the fiery comet answers? How is its motion produced, so regular
in its period, so unequal in its motion, and so eccentric in its course?
Of many other things man is in reality as ignorant, only being able to
form a system which seems to suit in some particulars, he imagines he
has discovered the whole, and will think so till some new system takes
place, and the old one is exploded. He asked Mr Selvyn if they descended
to the meanest objects in what manner could they account for the
polypus's property of supplying that part of its body which shall be cut
away? That insect alone, of all the creation, does not continue maimed
by amputation, but multiplies by it. 'To what can we attribute this
difference in an insect, which in all particulars beside, resembles so
many others? Yet who doubts of the reality of these things? If we cannot
comprehend the smallest works of almighty wisdom, can we expect to
fathom that wisdom itself? And say that such things he cannot do, or
cannot choose because the same effects could be produced by other means?
Man no doubt might exert the same functions under another form, why then
has he this he now wears? Who will not reply, because his Maker chose
it, and chose it as seeing it best. Is not this the proper answer on all
occasions, when the decrees of the Almighty are discussed? Facts only
are obvious to our reason; we must judge of them by the evidence of
their reality if that is sufficient to establish the facts; why, or how
they were produced, is beyond our comprehension. Let us learn that
finite minds cannot judge of infinite wisdom, and confine our reason
within its proper sphere.' By these, and many other arguments, Mr Selvyn
was brought to believe the possibility of what he did not comprehend;
and by this worthy clergyman's care Miss Selvyn was early taught the
truths of Christianity, which though the most necessary of all things,
was at first the only one neglected.

In this retired situation they continued till Miss Selvyn was near
seventeen years old; Mr Selvyn then determined to remove to London; and
taking a small house in Park Street, fixed his abode there. Lady Emilia
Reynolds lived next door and soon after their arrival made them a visit,
a compliment she said, she looked upon as due to so near a neighbour.
Some other ladies in the same street followed her example, and in a very
short time Miss Selvyn was introduced into as large an acquaintance as
was agreeable to her, for she was naturally averse to much dissipation.

Lady Emilia Reynolds was a single lady of very large fortune, her age
upwards of thirty, her person fine, her manner gentle and pleasing, and
an air of dejection did not render her countenance the less engaging.
She was grave and sensible, and kept a great deal of good company,
without entering into a gay way of life. Miss Selvyn's modesty and good
sense seemed to have great charms for her; she cultivated a friendship
with her, notwithstanding some disparity in their ages; and neither of
them appeared so nappy as when they were together.

Mr Selvyn could not be displeased at an intimacy so desirable, nor could
Miss Selvyn be more properly introduced into the world than by a person
of Lady Emilia's respectable character.

At her house Miss Selvyn saw a great deal of good company, and was so
generally liked that many intreated Lady Emilia to bring her to them
whenever her ladyship favoured them with a visit. These invitations were
generally complied with, as under such a protectress Miss Selvyn might
properly venture to any place. Lady Sheerness was one of this number,
whose rank, and some degree of relationship, brought acquainted with
Lady Emilia, though the different turn of their minds and their very
opposite taste of life prevented any intimacy between them. Lady Emilia
was not blind to Lady Sheerness's follies, but she esteemed them objects
of her compassion, not of her censure, nicely circumspect in her own
conduct, she judged with the extremest lenity of the behaviour of
others, ready to attempt excusing them to the world, and not even
suffering herself to blame what she could not approve; she sincerely
pitied Lady Mary Jones, who seemed by fortune sacrificed to folly; and
she was in continual fear lest she should fall a victim to that
imprudence which in her case was almost unavoidable.

By this means Miss Selvyn became acquainted with Lady Mary and was the
young woman I before mentioned as Lady Mary's adviser and conductor, in
putting an end to Lord Robert St George's courtship.

Not long after she had the satisfaction of thus assisting a young lady
whose failings gave her almost as many charms as they robbed her of, she
had the misfortune to lose Mr Selvyn. All that a child could feel for
the loss of a tender parent Miss Selvyn suffered. His death was not so
sudden, but that it afforded him time to settle his affairs, and to give
every direction to Miss Selvyn which he thought might save her from all
embarrassment on the approaching event. He recommended to her, as her
fortune would be but small, to attach herself as much as possible to
Lady Emilia, since she now became still more necessary as a protectress,
than she had before been desirable as a friend, and that interest as
much as gratitude required her cultivating the affection that lady had
already shewn her.

The latter motive was sufficient to influence Miss Selvyn, whose heart
sincerely returned the regard Lady Emilia had for her; but at that time
she was too much affected with Mr Selvyn's approaching dissolution to
think of anything else. His care for her in his last moments still more
endeared him who through life had made her happiness his principal
study. Her affliction was extreme, nor could Lady Emilia by the
tenderest care for some time afford her any consolation.

Miss Selvyn found herself heiress to three thousand pounds, a fortune
which exceeded her expectation, though it was not sufficient to suffer
her to live in London with convenience. Lady Emilia invited her to her
house; and as the spring advanced, her ladyship inclining to pass the
fine season in the country, hired a house about a hundred miles from
London which she had formerly been fond of and was but just become
empty. She had been but little out of town for some years and went to
her new habitation with pleasure. Miss Selvyn bid adieu without regret
to every thing but Lady Mary Jones, for whom she had conceived a real
affection, which first took its rise from compassion and was
strengthened by the great docility with which she followed her advice
about Lord Robert, and the resolution with which she conquered her
inclination. Lady Mary grieved to lose one whom she esteemed so prudent
and faithful a friend, and considered her departure as a real
misfortune; but they agreed to keep up a regular correspondence as the
best substitute to conversation.

The country was perfectly agreeable to Lady Emilia and her young friend.
The life they led was most suitable to their inclinations, and winter
brought with it no desires to return to London; whereupon Lady Emilia
disposed of her house there and settled quite in the country. They were
both extremely fond of reading, and in this they spent most of their
time. Their regular way of life, and the benefits of air and exercise,
seemed to abate the dejection before so visible in Lady Emilia; and she
never appeared to want any other conversation than that of Miss Selvyn,
whom she loved with a tenderness so justly due to her merit.

After they had been settled about two years in the country, Lord Robert
St George, who was colonel of a regiment quartered in a town not far
from them, came to examine into the state of his regiment; and having at
that time no other engagement, and the lodgings he had taken just out of
the town being finely situated, he determined to make some stay there.
Here he renewed his slight acquaintance with Lady Emilia and Miss
Selvyn; and by favour of his vicinity saw them often. Lord Robert's
heart was too susceptible of soft impressions not to feel the influence
of Miss Selvyn's charms. He was strongly captivated by her excellent
understanding and engaging manner, as for her person, he had known many
more beautiful, though none more pleasing; but the uncommon turn of her
mind, her gentleness and sensible modesty, had attractions that were
irresistible.

Lord Robert's attachment soon became visible; but Miss Selvyn knew him
too well to think his addresses very flattering, and by his behaviour to
Lady Mary Jones feared some insulting declaration; but from these
apprehensions he soon delivered her. Real affection conquering that
assurance which nature had first given and success increased, he had not
courage to declare his passion to her, but applied to Lady Emilia to
acquaint her friend with his love, and begged her interest in his
behalf, fearing that without it Miss Selvyn's reserve would not suffer
her to listen to his addresses.

Lady Emilia promised to report all he had said, and accordingly gave
Miss Selvyn a circumstantial account of the whole conversation, wherein
Lord Robert had laid before her the state of his fortune, which was
sufficient for a woman of her prudence; and she added that she did not
see how Miss Selvyn could expect to be addressed by a man more eligible,
whether she considered his birth, his fortune, or his person and
accomplishments.

Miss Selvyn was a little surprised that so gay a man should take so
serious a resolution. She allowed the justness of what Lady Emilia said
in his favour and confessed that it was impossible Lord Robert could
fail of pleasing; but added that it could not be advisable for her to
marry: for enjoying perfect content, she had no benefit to expect from
change; and happiness was so scarce a commodity in this life that
whoever let it once slip, had little reason to expect to catch it again.
For what reason then should she alter her state? The same disposition
which would render Lord Robert's fortune sufficient made hers answer all
her wishes, since if she had not the joy of living with her ladyship, it
would still afford her every thing she desired.

Lady Emilia said some things in recommendation of marriage; and seemed
to think it improbable Miss Selvyn should not be a little prejudiced in
favour of so amiable a lover as Lord Robert, which tempted that young
lady to tell her that though she allowed him excessively pleasing, yet
by some particulars, which formerly came to her knowledge, she was
convinced his principles were such as would not make her happy in a
husband.

Lady Emilia allowed the force of such an objection, and did not press a
marriage, for which she had pleaded only out of an apprehension lest
Miss Selvyn's reserve might lead her to act contrary to her
inclinations; and therefore she had endeavoured to facilitate her
declaration in favour of Lord Robert, if she was in reality inclined to
accept his proposals. She acquiesced then readily in her friend's
determination; only desired she would herself acquaint Lord Robert with
it, as he would not easily be silenced by a refusal which did not
proceed from her own lips.

His lordship came in the evening to learn his fate, and Lady Emilia
having contrived to be absent, he found Miss Selvyn alone. Though this
was what he had wished, yet he was so disconcerted that Miss Selvyn was
reduced to begin the subject herself, and to tell him that Lady Emilia
had acquainted her with the honour he had done her, that she was much
obliged to him for his good opinion and hoped he would be happy with
some woman much more deserving than herself; but she could by no means
accept the favour he intended her, being so entirely happy in her
present situation that nothing in the world should induce her to change
it.

This declaration gave rise to a very warm contest, Lord Robert
soliciting her to accept his love with all the tenderness of the
strongest passion, and she with equal perseverance persisting in her
refusal. He could not be persuaded that her motive for doing so was
really what she alleged but as she continued to affirm it, he begged
however to know if she had not made so strange a resolution in favour of
a single life, whether she should have had any particular objection to
him?

Miss Selvyn shewed the uselessness of this question, since the reason of
her refusing the honour he intended her would have made her reject the
addresses of every other man in the world. Lord Robert could not believe
this possible and therefore desisted not from urging a question so
disagreeable to answer.

When Miss Selvyn found it impossible to avoid satisfying him in this
particular, she told him that if he were entirely unexceptionable, she
should be fixed in the same determination; but since he insisted on
knowing if she had any objection to him, she was obliged to confess
that had she been better inclined to enter into the matrimonial state,
his lordship was not the man she should have chosen, not from any
dislike to his person or understanding, but from disapprobation of his
principles; that, in regard to her sex he had a lightness in his way of
thinking and had been so criminal in his conduct that of all men she
knew, she thought him most improper for a husband.

Lord Robert was surprised at so new an objection, and told her, that he
did not apprehend himself more blamable in those respects than most
young men. Gallantry was suitable to his age, and he never imagined that
any woman would have reproached him with his regard for her sex, when he
gave so strong a proof of an inclination to leave them all for her.

'I am sorry,' replied Miss Selvyn, 'that your lordship thinks me mean
enough to take pleasure in such a triumph, or so vain as to imagine I
can reform a man of dissolute manners, the last thing I should hope or
endeavour to succeed in. Such a tincture of corruption will always
remain the mind of what you are pleased to term a gallant man, to whom I
should give the less polite appellation of vicious, that I could not be
happy in his society. A reformed rake may be sober, but is never
virtuous.'

Lord Robert growing very urgent to know what she had particularly to lay
to his charge, she told him frankly, that his treatment of Lady Mary
Jones had disgusted her, as she, and perhaps she only, had been
acquainted with the whole.

Lord Robert endeavoured to excuse himself on the encouragement Lady
Mary's levity had given to his hopes; observing that when a woman's
behaviour was very light, his sex were not apt to imagine there was any
great fund of virtue; nor could it be expected that any one else should
guard that honour of which she herself was careless.

'I am sure,' replied Miss Selvyn, 'your lordship's hopes must have been
founded on Lady Mary's folly, not her real want of innocence; a folly
which arose from the giddiness of youth and the hurry of dissipation;
for by nature Lady Mary's understanding is uncommonly good. By what you
say, you imagined her honour was lawful prize, because she appeared
careless of it; would this way of arguing be allowed in any other case?
If you observed a man who neglected to lock up his money, and seemed
totally indifferent what became of it, should you think yourself thereby
justified in robbing him? But how much more criminal would you be, were
you to deprive him of his wealth because he was either so thoughtless or
so weak as not to know its value? And yet surely the injury in this case
would be much less than what you think so justifiable. If the world has
but the least sense of real honour, in this light they must see it; and
to that tribunal I imagine you only think yourself answerable; for did
you reflect but one moment on another bar before which you will be
summoned, you would see there can be no excuse for violating the laws by
which you are there to be tried. If you could justify yourself to the
world, or to the women of whose folly you take advantage, by the
fallacious arguments which you have so ready for that purpose, such
cobweb sophistry cannot weaken the force of an express command.'

'I will not pretend,' answered Lord Robert, 'to deny the truth of what
you say, but must beg you will consider it more easy for you to urge
these truths, than for those to obey them who are exposed to and
susceptible of temptations. When a woman has no title to our respect,
how difficult is it to consider her in the light you require! Levity of
conduct we are apt to look upon as an invitation, which a man scarcely
thinks it consistent with his politeness to neglect.'

'I wish,' replied Miss Selvyn, 'that women were better acquainted with
the ways of thinking so common with your sex; for while they are
ignorant of them, they act to a great disadvantage. They obtain by that
levity which deprives them of your esteem, a degree of notice and
pretended liking which they mistake for approbation; did they but know
that you in your hearts despise those most to whom you are most
assiduously and openly attached, it would occasion a great change in
their behaviour; nor would they suffer an address to which they cannot
listen without incurring your contempt. How criminally deceitful is this
behaviour! And what real virtue can a man truly boast, who acts in this
manner? What woman in her senses can enter into a union for life with
such a man?'

'Why not, madam?' said Lord Robert. 'My behaviour to you shews that we
yield to merit the homage it deserves; you would lose all your triumph
were we to put you and the lighter part of your sex on an equality in
our opinions. We are always ready to esteem a woman who will give us
leave to do so; and can you require us to respect those who are not in
the least respectable?'

'No,' answered Miss Selvyn, 'I only wish you would cease your endeavours
to render those women objects of contempt, who deserve only to be
neglected, and particularly not to deprive them of the very small
portion of regard they are entitled to, by the fallacious appearance of
an attachment of the tenderest kind; which in reality arises from
contempt, not love. But,' added she, 'I have said more than I designed
on the subject; I only meant to answer the question you put to me with
so much importunity; and must now confirm what I have already declared,
by telling you that were I inclined to marry, I would not on any account
take a husband of your lordship's principles; but were you endowed with
all the virtues that ever man possessed, I would not change my present
happy situation for the uncertainties of wedlock.'

When Lord Robert found all his solicitations unavailing, he left the
country and returned to London, where he hoped, by a series of
diversions, to efface from his heart the real passion he had conceived
for Miss Selvyn. She forbore informing Lady Mary Jones, though their
correspondence was frequent, of Lord Robert's courtship; she did not
doubt but her ladyship was sincere when she assured her she now beheld
him with the indifference he deserved, but thought that to tell her she
had received so very different an address from him would bear too much
the air of a triumph, a meanness which her heart abhorred.

Lady Emilia and Miss Selvyn had lived several years in the country with
great rational enjoyment, when the former was seized with a fever. All
the skill of her physicians proved ineffectual, and her distemper
increased daily. She was sensible of the danger which threatened her
life, but insisted on their telling her, if they had any great hopes of
her recovery, assuring them that it was of importance to her to know
their opinions with the utmost frankness. Thus urged, they confessed
they had but little hopes. She then returned them thanks for their care,
but still more for their sincerity: and with the greatest composure took
leave of them, desiring to be left alone with Miss Selvyn, who was in
tears at her bedside. Every one else withdrew, when taking Miss Selvyn
in her arms, and shedding a few silent tears, she afterwards thus
addressed her.

'At the moment that I must bid you a long farewell, you will know that
you have a mother in her whom you before thought only your friend. Yes,
my dearest Harriot, I am your mother, ashamed of my weakness and shocked
at my guilt, while your gentle but virtuous eyes could reproach your
unhappy parent, I could not prevail on myself to discover this secret to
you, but I cannot carry to my grave the knowledge of a circumstance
which concerns you. Yes, you are my daughter, my child, ever most dear
to me, though the evidence and continual remembrancer of my crime.'

Miss Selvyn imagined the distemper had now seized Lady Emilia's brain,
which it had hitherto spared; and intreated her to compose herself,
assuring her that what so much agitated her decaying frame was only the
phantom of an overheated imagination; for her parents were well known,
neither was there any mystery in her birth.

'Oh!' interrupted Lady Emilia, 'do not suspect me of delirium; it has
pleased the Almighty to spare my senses throughout this severe disorder,
with a gracious design of allowing me even the last moments of my life
to complete my repentance. What I tell you is but true, Mr Selvyn knew
it all and like a man of honour saved me from shame by concealing the
fatal secret; and acted the part of a father to my Harriot, without
having any share in my guilt. But I see you do not yet believe me, take
this,' pulling a paper from under her pillow, 'herein you will find an
account of the whole unfortunate affair, written a year ago; lest at the
time of my death I should not be able to relate it; this will prove, by
the nice connection of every circumstance, that the words therein
contained are not the suggestions of madness.'

Miss Selvyn accordingly read as follows:

'When I was seventeen years old, Lord Peyton asked me of my father, but
not till after he had secured my tenderest affections. His estate was
sufficient to content a parent who was not regardless of fortune and
splendour; and his proposals were accepted. But while the tediousness of
the lawyers made us wait for the finishing of settlements, Lord Peyton,
who was in the army, was commanded to repair immediately to his
regiment, then stationed in Ireland. He endeavoured to prevail with my
father to hasten our marriage, offering every kind of security he could
desire, instead of the settlements so long delayed; my wishes concurred
with his, rather than suffer him to go without me into a kingdom which I
imagined would not prove very amusing to him. But my father, who was a
very exact observer of forms, would not consent to any expedient. No
security appeared to him equivalent to settlements; and many trifling
circumstances requisite to the splendour of our first appearance were
not ready; which to him seemed almost as important as the execution of
the marriage writings.

'When Lord Peyton found my father inexorable, he attempted to persuade
me to agree to a private marriage, only desiring, he said, to secure me
entirely his before he left the kingdom; and proposed, that after his
return, we should be publicly married, to prevent my father's suspecting
that we had anticipated his consent. But this I rejected; disobedience
to a parent, and other objections, were sufficient to make me refuse it;
and we saw ourselves reduced to separate when we were so near being
united. As Lord Peyton was an accepted lover, and our intended marriage
was publicly known, and generally approved, he passed great part of his
time with me. My father was obliged to go out of town on particular
business, the day before that appointed for Lord Peyton's departure. It
is natural to suppose we passed it entirely together. The concern we
were both under made us wish to avoid being seen by others, and
therefore I was denied to all visitors. Lord Peyton dined and supped
with me; and by thus appropriating the day to the ceremony of taking
leave, we rendered the approaching separation more afflicting than in
reason it ought to have been, and indeed made it a lasting affliction; a
grief never to be washed away.

'Lord Peyton left London at the appointed hour, but the next days, and
almost every succeeding post, brought me the tenderest expressions of
regret for this enforced absence, and the strongest assurances of the
constancy of his affection. Mine could not with truth be written in a
more indifferent strain, my love was the same, but my purpose was much
altered; as soon as I had calmness of mind enough to reflect on what had
passed, I resolved never to be Lord Peyton's wife. I saw my own
misconduct in all its true colours. I despised myself, and could not
hope for more partial treatment from my husband. A lover might in the
height of his passion excuse my frailty, but when matrimony, and
continued possession had restored him to his reason, I was sensible he
must think of me as I was conscious I deserved. What confidence, what
esteem could I hope from a husband who so well knew my weakness; or how
could I support being hourly exposed to the sight of a man whose eyes
would always seem to reproach me! I could scarcely bear to see myself;
and I was determined not to depend on any one who was equally conscious
of my guilt.

'I soon acquainted Lord Peyton with this resolution, which he combated
with every argument love could dictate. He assured me in the most solemn
manner of his entire esteem, insisted that he only was to blame, and
that he should never forgive himself for the uneasiness he had already
occasioned me; but intreated me not to punish him so severely as ever
again to give the least intimation of a design not to confirm our
marriage. As I resisted my own passion, it may be supposed that,
although too late, I was able to resist his. I saw that a generous man
must act as he did, but no generosity could restore me to the same place
in his esteem I before possessed. His behaviour on this occasion fixed
my good opinion of him, but could not restore my opinion of myself. All
he could urge therefore was unavailing; the stronger my affection, the
more determined I was in my purpose; since the more I valued his esteem,
the greater would my suffering be at knowing that I had forfeited it. I
acquainted my father with my resolution, alleging the best excuses I
could make. He was at first angry with my inconstancy, charged me with
capriciousness and want of honour; but at last was pacified by my
assuring him I would never marry any man. As he had been sorry to part
with me, the thought of my continuing with him as long as he lived, made
my peace.

'Lord Peyton's impatience at being detained in Ireland increased with
his desire of persuading me to relinquish a design so very grievous to
my own heart, as well as to his; but he could not obtain leave to return
into England before I found, to my inexpressible terror, that the
misfortune I so sincerely lamented would have consequences that I little
expected. In the agony of my mind I communicated my distress to Lord
Peyton, the only person whom I dared trust with so important a secret.

'Instead of condoling with me on the subject of my affliction, he
expressed no small joy in a circumstance which he said must reduce me to
accept the only means of preserving my reputation; and added, that as
every delay was now of so much importance, if the next packet did not
bring him leave of absence, he should set out without it; and rather run
the hazard of being called to account for disobedience, than of exposing
me to one painful blush.

'I confess his delicacy charmed me; every letter I received increased my
esteem and affection for him, but nothing could alter my purpose. I
looked upon the execution of it as the only means of reinstating myself
in his good opinion, or my own, in comparison of which even reputation
seemed to lose its value. But severe was the trial I had to undergo upon
his return into England, which was in a few days after his assurance of
coming at any hazard. He used every means that the tenderest affection
and the nicest honour could suggest to persuade me to marry him; and
the conflict in my own heart very near reduced me to my grave; till at
length pitying the condition into which I was reduced, without the least
approach to a change of purpose, he promised to spare me any further
solicitation and to bury his affliction in silence; after obtaining a
promise from me that I would suffer him to contrive the means for
concealing an event which must soon happen; as my unintriguing spirit
made me very incapable of managing it with tolerable art and secrecy.

'Lord Peyton had maintained his former friendship with my father, who
thought himself obliged to him for not resenting my behaviour in the
manner he imagined it deserved. When the melancholy and much dreaded
time approached, Lord Peyton gave me secret information that he would
invite my father into the country, on pretence of assisting him by his
advice in some alterations he was going to make there; and assured me of
careful attendance, and the most secret reception, from a very worthy
couple to whose house he gave me a direction if I could contrive, under
colour of some intended visit, to leave my own.

'All was executed as he had planned it; and when my servants thought I
was gone to visit a relation some miles distant from London, I went as
directed, and was received with the greatest humanity imaginable by Mr
and Mrs Selvyn; not at their own house, but at one taken for that
purpose, where the affair might be more secretly managed. Lord Peyton
had concealed my name even from them; and secured their care of me under
a borrowed appellation.

'The day after I got to them I was delivered of you, my dearest child,
whom I beheld with sorrow as well as affliction; considering you as the
melancholy memorial and partner in my shame.

'Mr and Mrs Selvyn attended me with the greatest care, and were never
both absent at a time; they acquainted Lord Peyton with the state of my
health by every post; and I was enabled, by the necessity of the case,
to write to my father as frequently as I usually did when absent from
him. Within the fortnight from the time of my departure from my own
house I returned to it again, after delivering my dear Harriot into the
care of these good people, who promised to treat her as their own child.
Under pretence of a cold I confined myself till I was perfectly
recovered.

'Lord Peyton detained my father till he heard I was entirely well; and
then went with impatience to see his little daughter, over whom he shed
many tears, as Mr Selvyn afterwards informed me; telling it that it was
a constant memorial of the greatest misfortune of his life, and could
never afford him a pleasure that was not mingled with the deepest
affliction.

'Mrs Selvyn had lain in about six weeks before I went to her, the child
she brought into the world lived but a few months; upon its death, at
Lord Peyton's desire, they took you from nurse, and pretending you their
own, privately buried their child, who was likewise nursed abroad. Mr
Selvyn was a merchant, but had never been successful, his wife died when
you were about three years old. Having no children to provide for, and
not being fond of trade, he was desirous of retiring into the country.
Lord Peyton to facilitate the gratification of his wish, procured him a
small sinecure; gave into his possession three thousand pounds, which he
secured to you; and allowed him a hundred a year for the trouble of your
education; with an unlimited commission to call on him for any sums he
should want.

'The constant sense of my guilt, the continual regret at having by my
own ill conduct forfeited the happiness which every action of Lord
Peyton's proved that his wife might reasonably expect, fixed a degree of
melancholy on my mind, which no time has been able to conquer. I lived
with my father till his death, which happened not many years ago; at his
decease, I found myself mistress of a large fortune, which enabled me to
support the rank I had always enjoyed. Though Lord Peyton had provided
sufficiently for Mr Selvyn's and your convenience, yet I constantly sent
him a yearly present; till no longer able to deny myself the pleasure of
seeing my dear child, I prevailed on him to remove to London and to fix
in the same street with me, taking care to supply all that was requisite
to enable him to appear there genteelly. You know with what appearance
of accident I first cultivated a friendship with you, but you cannot
imagine with how much difficulty I concealed the tenderness of a mother
under the ceremonies of an acquaintance.

'Of late I have enjoyed a more easy state of mind: I have sometimes been
inclined to flatter myself that your uncommon merit, and the great
comfort I have received in your society, are signs that Heaven has
forgiven my offence and accepted my penitence, which has been sincere
and long, as an atonement for my crime; in which blessed hope I shall, I
trust, meet death without terror, and submit, my dear daughter, whenever
I am called hence, in full confidence to that Power whose mercy is over
all his works. I ought to add a few words about your dear father, who
seemed to think my extreme regular conduct and the punishment I had
inflicted on myself, such an extenuation of my weakness that he ever
behaved to me with the tenderest respect, I might almost say reverence,
and till his death gave me every proof of the purest and the strongest
friendship. By consent we avoided each other's presence for three years,
by which time we hoped the violence of our mutual passion would be
abated. He spent the greatest part of it abroad; and at the end of that
period we met with the sincerer joy, from finding we were not deceived
in our hopes. Our attachment was settled into the tenderest friendship;
we forbore even the mention of your name, as it must have reminded us of
our crime; and if Lord Peyton wanted to communicate any thing concerning
you, he did it by letter; avoiding with the extremest delicacy ever to
take notice that any such letters had passed between us; and even in
them he consulted about his child, in the style of a man who was writing
to a person that had no other connection with it than what her
friendship for him must naturally occasion, in a point where he was
interested by the tenderest ties of the most extreme paternal love.

'I have often with pleasure heard you mention his great fondness for you
in your childhood, when he visited at your father's; your growing years
increased it, though it obliged him to suppress the appearance of an
affection which you would have thought improper. I need not tell you
that I had the misfortune to lose this worthiest of friends, about half
a year before you came to London, which determined me to send for you,
that I might receive all the consolation the world could give me, and
see the inheritor of her dear father's virtues. While he lived I dared
not have taken the same step; your presence would have been too painful
a testimony against me, and continually reminded my lord of a weakness
which I hope time had almost effaced from his remembrance.'

Miss Selvyn was extremely affected with the perusal of this paper; she
was frequently interrupted by her tears; grieved to the heart to think
of how much uneasiness she had been the cause. As soon as she had
concluded it, she threw herself on her knees at Lady Emilia's bedside,
and taking one of her hands, which she bathed with her tears, 'Is it
possible then,' said she, 'that I have thus long been ignorant of the
best of parents? And must I lose you when so lately found? Oh! my dear
mother, how much pleasure have I lost by not knowing that I might call
you by that endearing name! What an example of virtue have you set me!
How noble your resolution! How uniform and constant your penitence!
Blest you must be supremely by him who loveth the contrite heart; and
you and my father I doubt not will enjoy eternal felicity together,
united never more to part. Oh! may your afflicted daughter be received
into the same place, and partake of your happiness; may she behold your
piety rewarded, and admire in you the blessed fruits of timely
repentance; a repentance so immediately succeeding the offence, that
your soul could not have received the black impression!'

'Can you, who have never erred,' said Lady Emilia, 'see my offence in so
fair a light? What may I not then hope from infinite mercy? I do hope;
it would be criminal to doubt, when such consolatory promises appear in
almost every page of holy writ. With pleasure I go where I am called,
for I leave my child safe in the Divine Protection, and her own virtue;
I leave her, I hope, to a happy life, and a far more happy death; when
joys immortal will bless her through all eternity. I have now, my love,
discharged the burden from my mind; not many hours of life remain, let
me not pass them in caressing my dear daughter, which, though most
pleasing to my fond heart, can end only in making me regret the loss of
a world which will soon pass from my sight. Let me spend this hour, as I
hope to do those that will succeed it through all eternity. Join with me
in prayers to, and praises of, him in whom consists all our lasting
happiness.'

Miss Selvyn sent for the minister of the parish at Lady Emilia's desire,
and the remainder of her life passed in religious exercises. She expired
without a groan, in the midst of a fervent prayer, as if her soul was
impatient to take its flight into the presence of him whom she was
addressing with so much ardour.

Miss Selvyn's affliction was at first extreme, but when she reflected on
her mother's well-spent life, and most happy death, it much abated the
excess of her grief. By that lady's will, she found herself heir to
twelve thousand pounds, and all her personal estate. She had been
charmed with the account Lady Mary Jones had sent her of this society,
and wished to increase her acquaintance with that lady, and therefore
offered, if proper, to make her a short visit, as soon as her necessary
affairs were settled. This met with the most welcome reception, and she
came hither as a visitor. Her stay was gradually prolonged for near two
months; when having reason, from the great regard shewn her, to think
she should be no disagreeable addition, she asked leave to join her
fortune to the common stock, and to fix entirely with them. Nothing
could be more agreeable to the other three ladies than this offer, and
with extreme satisfaction she settled here.

Upon this increase of income it was that my friends established the
community of indigent gentlewomen, which gave you so much pleasure.

Lamont was much struck with the conduct of Lady Emilia; she had shewn,
he said, a degree of delicacy and prudence which exceeded what he had a
notion of; he never met with a woman who foresaw the little chance she
had for happiness in marrying a man who could have no inducement to make
her his wife but a nice, often a too nice, sense of honour; and who
certainly could have no great opinion of her virtue. The folly of both
men and women in these late unions was the subject of our conversation
till we separated. In the afternoon the ladies asked us to accompany
them to the house they had just taken for the new community, to which
they were obliged to go that day, as they had set several persons to
work there. They keep a post-coach and post-chaise, which with the help
of ours, were sufficient to accommodate us all. A short time brought us
to the house, a very old and formerly a very fine mansion, but now much
fallen to decay. The outside is greatly out of repair, but the building
seems strong. The inside is in a manner totally unfurnished; for though
it is not empty, yet the rats and mice have made such considerable
depredations on what time had before reduced to a very tattered
condition that the melancholy remains can be reckoned little better than
lumber.

The last inhabitant of this house we were informed was an old miser
whose passion for accumulating wealth reduced him into almost as
unfortunate a state as Midas, who, according to the fable, having
obtained the long-desired power of turning every thing he touched to
gold, was starved by the immediate transmutation of all food into that
metal the instant it touched his lips. The late possessor of the house I
am speaking of, when he was about fifty years old, turned away every
servant but an old woman, who if she was not honest, was at least too
weak to be able to put any dishonesty in practice. When he was about
threescore, she died, and he never could venture to let any one supply
her place. He fortified every door and window with such bars of iron
that his house might have resisted the forcible attack of a whole army.
Night and day growled before his inhospitable door a furious Dutch
mastiff, whose natural ferocity was so increased by continual hunger,
for his master fed him most sparingly, that no stranger could have
entered the yard with impunity.

Every time this churlish beast barked, the old gentleman, with terror
and dismay in his countenance, and quaking limbs, ran to the only window
he ever ventured to unbar, to see what danger threatened him; nor could
the sight of a barefoot child, or a decrepit old woman, immediately
dispel his fears. As timorous as Falstaff, his imagination first
multiplied and then clothed them in buckram; and his panic ceased not
till they were out of view.

This wretched man upon the death of his only servant, agreed with an old
woman to buy food for him, and bring it to the well defended door of his
yard; where informing him of her arrival by a signal agreed upon between
them, he ventured out of his house to receive it from her; and dressed
it himself; till worn out by anxiety of mind he grew too weak to perform
that office and ordered the woman to bring it ready prepared; this
continued for a little time, till at last he appeared no more at his
gate. After the old woman had knocked three days in vain, the
neighbourhood began to think it necessary to take some measures
thereupon; but not choosing to run the hazard of breaking open the
house, they sent to the old gentleman's nephew, whose father had been
suffered to languish in extreme poverty many years before his death; nor
was the son in much better condition; but he had acquainted some of the
neighbours with the place of his abode in hopes of the event which now
induced them to send for him.

As soon as he arrived, he prepared to force his way into the house, but
it was found so impracticable that at length they were obliged to untile
part of the roof, from whence a person descended, and opened the door to
those who did not choose so dangerous an entrance as that through which
he had passed.

They found the old man dead on a great chest which contained his money,
as if he had been desirous to take possession even in death.

His nephew was just of age, and having till then been exposed to all the
evils of poverty, was almost distracted with joy at the sudden
acquisition of a large fortune. He scarcely could be prevailed with to
stay long enough in this house to pay the last duties to an uncle who
had no right to anything more from him than just the decent ceremonies;
and without giving himself time to look over his estate, hastened to
London.

He hired a magnificent house in Grosvenor Square; bespoke the most
elegant equipages; bought the finest set of horses he could hear of at
double their real value; and launched into every expense the town
afforded him. He soon became one of the most constant frequenters of
Whites; kept several running horses; distinguished himself at Newmarket,
and had the honour of playing deeper, and betting with more spirit, than
any other young man of his age. There was not an occurrence in his life
about which he had not some wager depending. The wind could not change
or a shower fall without his either losing or gaining by it. He had not
a dog or cat in his house on whose life he had not bought or sold an
annuity. By these ingenious methods in one year was circulated through
the kingdom the ready money which his uncle had been half his life
starving himself and family to accumulate. The second year obliged him
to mortgage great part of his land, and the third saw him reduced to
sell a considerable portion of his estate, of which this house and the
land belonging to it made a part.

I could not help observing the various fate of this mansion, originally
the seat of ancient hospitality; then falling into the hands of a miser
who had not spirit to enjoy it, nor sense enough to see that he was
impairing so valuable a part of his possessions by grudging the
necessary expenses of repairs; from him devolving to a young coxcomb who
by neglect let it sink into ruin and was spending in extravagance what
he inherited from avarice; as if one vice was to pay the debt to society
which the other had incurred; and now it was purchased to be the seat of
charity and benevolence. How directly were we led to admire the superior
sense, as well as transcendent virtue of these ladies, when we compared
the use they made of money with that to which the two late possessors
had appropriated it! While we were in doubt which most to blame, he who
had heaped it up without comfort, in sordid inhumanity, or he who
squandered it in the gratification of gayer vices. Equally strangers to
beneficence, self-indulgence was their sole view; alike criminal, though
not equally unfashionable, one endeavoured to starve, the other to
corrupt mankind; while the new owners of this house had no other view
than to convenience and to reform all who came within their influence,
themselves enjoying in a supreme degree the happiness they dispersed
around them.

It was pleasing to see numbers at work to repair the building and
cultivate the garden and to observe that at length from this
inhospitable mansion, 'health to himself, and to his children bread, the
labourer bears.' Within it were all the biggest schoolgirls, with one of
their mistresses to direct them in mending such furniture as was not
quite destroyed; and I was pleased to see with how much art they
repaired the decays of time, in things which well deserved better care,
having once been the richest part of the furniture belonging to the
opulent possessors.

On our way home we called at a clergyman's house, which was placed in
the finest situation imaginable and where we beheld that profusion of
comforts which sense and economy will enable the possessors of narrow
fortunes to enjoy. This gentleman and his wife have but a small living
and still less paternal estate, but the neatness, prettiness and
convenience of their habitation were enough to put one out of humour
with riches, and I should certainly have breathed forth Agar's prayer
with great ardour if I had not been stopped in the beginning by
considering how great a blessing wealth may be when properly employed,
of which I had then such hourly proof.

At our return to Millenium Hall we found some of the neighbouring
society who were come to share the evening's concert and sup with us.

But at ten o'clock they departed, which I understood was somewhat later
than usual, but they conformed to the alteration of hours our arrival
had occasioned.

The next day being very hot, we were asked to breakfast in a delightful
arbour in the flower garden. The morning dew, which still refreshed the
flowers, increased their fragrance to as great an excess of sweetness as
the senses could support. Till I went to this house, I knew not half the
charms of the country. Few people have the art of making the most of
nature's bounty; these ladies are epicures in rural pleasures and enjoy
them in the utmost excess to which they can be carried. All that romance
ever represented in the plains of Arcadia are much inferior to the
charms of Millenium Hall, except the want of shepherds be judged a
deficiency that nothing else can compensate; there indeed they fall
short of what romantic writers represent, and have formed a female
Arcadia.

After breakfast all the ladies left us except Mrs Maynard. We were so
charmed with the spot we were in that we agreed to remain there and I
called on my cousin to continue the task she had undertaken, which she
did in the following manner.



THE HISTORY OF Miss TRENTHAM


Miss Trentham never knew the blessing of a mother's care, hers died the
same month which gave her daughter birth; and Mr Trentham survived his
wife but eight years. He left his little girl eleven thousand pounds,
recommending both her person and fortune to his mother, Mrs Alworth.

Mrs Alworth was an old lady of good sense and merit. She had felt the
most melancholy, but not unusual effect of long life, having outlived
all her children. This misfortune she alleviated in the best manner she
was able, by receiving her grandchildren into her family. Her son by her
second husband left behind him a boy and girl, the former at the time I
speak of about eleven years old, the latter ten. Her daughter had
married Mr Denham and at her death left two girls. Mr Denham entering
into wedlock a second time, very willingly complied with Mrs Alworth's
desire of having his two daughters. The eldest of these was twelve years
old, the youngest eleven.

These children had lived with the old lady some years, when she took
home Harriot Trentham. As their grandmother was rich, there had been a
strong contention among them for her favour, and they could not without
great disgust see another rival brought to the house. Harriot was
extremely handsome and engaging. The natural sweetness of her temper
rendered her complying and observant; but having been bred under the
care of a sensible and indulgent father, she had never been taught the
little arts of behaviour which mothers too commonly inculcate with so
much care that children are as void of simplicity at eight as at eight
and twenty years old. The first thing a girl is taught is to hide her
sentiments, to contradict the thoughts of her heart, and tell all the
civil lies which custom has sanctified, with as much affectation and
conceit as her mother; and when she has acquired all the folly and
impertinence of a riper age, and apes the woman more ungracefully than a
monkey does a fine gentleman, the parents congratulate themselves with
the extremest complacency on the charming education they have given
their daughter.

Harriot had been taught no such lessons. Her father had a strong dislike
to prematurity, and feared that communication with the world would too
soon teach her art and disguise, the last things he would have chosen to
anticipate.

By teaching her humanity, he initiated her into civility of manners. She
had learnt that to give pain was immoral; and could no more have borne
to have shocked any person's mind than to have racked his body. Any
thought therefore that could hurt she suppressed as an indispensable
duty, and to please by her actions and not offend by her words was an
essential part of the religion in which she was educated: but in every
thing whereby no one could suffer she was innocence and simplicity
itself; and in her nature shone pure and uncorrupted either by natural
or acquired vices.

Mrs Alworth, though fond of all her grandchildren, could not conquer a
degree of partiality for Harriot, whose attractions, both personal and
mental, were very superior to those of her cousins. Her beauty secured
her the particular attention of all strangers, she gained their favour
at first sight, and secured it by her amiable disposition when they
became more acquainted with her.

Envy is one of the first passions that appears in the human mind. Had
Miss Alworth and the Miss Denhams been much younger, Harriot would not
have passed unenvied. Every day increased their dislike to her as she
grew daily more beloved by others, and they let no opportunity escape of
making her feel the effects of their little malice. Their hatred to her
produced a union among themselves; for the first time they found
something in which they all agreed. They were continually laying little
plots to lessen her in their grandmother's opinion; frequent were the
accusations against her, but her innocence always triumphed though it
never discouraged them from repeating the same unsuccessful attempts.
Mrs Alworth was extremely fond of them all, but yet she saw through
their malice and their behaviour only served to endear Harriot the more,
who defended herself without anger and retained no rancour in her mind.
Free from resentment or suspicion she was ever open to their arts, and
experience did not teach her to be on her guard against them, which
often occasioned their having appearances on their side, and might have
raised prejudices against her in Mrs Alworth's mind had she not found a
defender in Master Alworth, who alone of all her cousins was free from
envy. He was naturally of an honest and sweet disposition, and being
fond of Harriot, for beauty has charms for all ages, felt great
indignation at the treatment she received and would often express a
resentment from which she was wholly free. Mrs Alworth's great fondness
for her grandson and strong prejudices against schools, from a belief
that boys acquire there more vice than learning, had determined on a
private education. She therefore provided a tutor for him before he was
seven years old; a man of learning and sense, with a great deal of
religion and good humour and who was very attentive to the employment
for which he had been chosen.

Master Alworth, by being thus kept at home, had frequent opportunities
of observing the malice of his sister and Miss Denham against Harriot
and never failed exposing their practices to his grandmother; who from
thence learnt to suspect their reports about things which passed in his
absence and consequently could not be cleared up by him. His fondness
for Harriot soon made him beloved by her, and as she found little
pleasure in the society of her other cousins, she sought his company,
but as he was much engaged by his studies she seldom found him at
leisure to play. The tutor, greatly delighted with her, tried to awaken
in her mind a desire of improvement and found it an easy task; she was
inclined to learn and capable of doing it with great quickness. Mrs
Alworth readily entered into the good man's views, and was pleased with
the eagerness of Harriot's application. Master Alworth was far enough
advanced in learning to assist his favourite, and from him she received
instruction with double pleasure and more easily comprehended his
explanations than those of their tutor, who found it difficult to divest
himself sufficiently of scientific terms, which greatly retard the
increase of knowledge in a youthful mind.

Thus beloved by her grandmother and Mr Alworth, and hated and traduced
by her female cousins, Harriot lived till she was sixteen. Years had
still improved her person and she had made considerable progress in
learning, when Mrs Alworth judged it proper that her grandson should go
abroad to complete an education which she flattered herself was hitherto
faultless. He had no objection to the scheme but what arose from his
unwillingness to leave Harriot, who saw his departure approach with
great concern. She loved and respected her grandmother, but Mr Alworth
was the only person whom she could look upon in the tender and equal
light of a friend. To be deprived of his society was losing the chief
pleasure of her life and her best guardian against her enemies.

Mrs Alworth was pleased with the affection which so evidently appeared
between these two young people, she hoped to see a happy union arise
from it. Their fortunes and ages were properly suited, and a love which
had taken root in childhood and grown with their increasing years seemed
to promise a lasting harmony, of which the sweetness of their
dispositions would be no bad security. These pleasing ideas amused this
worthy woman, but the two friends themselves had not extended their
views so far. Bred up like brother and sister, a tenderer degree of
relation had not entered their thoughts, nor did any thing more appear
necessary to their happiness than a constant enjoyment of each other's
friendship. In this disposition they parted when Mr Alworth went abroad.
His tutor thinking himself not properly qualified to conduct him in his
travels, recommended another gentleman, and Mr Alworth, at Harriot's
request, prevailed with their grandmother to detain his old tutor till
Harriot's education was completed.

Mr Alworth continued abroad two years, during which time Harriot had
applied with such unwearied diligence that she was perfect mistress of
the living languages and no less acquainted with Greek and Latin. She
was well instructed in the ancient and modern philosophy, and in almost
every branch of learning.

Mr Alworth found his cousin not alone improved in understanding, her
beauty was just then in its perfection and it was scarcely possible to
conceive any thing handsomer. She had great elegance of manner, a point
wherein her grandmother excelled, and was as far removed from conceit as
from ignorance. Her situation was much mended by the marriage of the
eldest Miss Denham; and Miss Alworth waited only for her brother's
arrival and approbation to enter into the same state. The gentleman to
whom she was going to be married had first made his address to Harriot
but, as well as several others, was refused by her. She was not inclined
to change her situation, or this gentleman's fortune, person and
character were unexceptionable; however, one circumstance without any
other objection would have been sufficient to have rendered his suit
unsuccessful; she perceived that Miss Alworth was in love with him, and
though she had little reason to have much regard for her, yet good
nature made her anxious for the success of a passion which she saw was
deeply rooted.

She therefore, while she discouraged his addresses, took every means of
recommending Miss Alworth, whose treatment of her she believed rather
proceeded from compliance with Miss Denham's than from ill temper.

This gave her hopes that she might make a good wife to Mr Parnel, the
object of her affections. He soon perceived that Miss Alworth did not
behold him with indifference, but as he was much captivated by Harriot's
charms, it at first had no other effect than leading him to indulge in
complaints of her cruelty to Miss Alworth, who listened with compassion.
Harriot often represented to him how little he ought to wish for her
consent to marry him, which he so strongly solicited; for should she
grant it, he would be miserable with a wife who did not love him. She
told him that were he indifferent, her being so might do very well, and
they live on together in that eternal ennui which must ever subsist
between a married couple who have no affection for each other, and while
natural good temper and prudence enabled them to dream away a dull life
in peace and dead insensibility, the world might call them happy; but
that if he really loved her, her indifference would render him more
wretched than the most blamable conduct. She would then represent the
advantages of marrying a woman whose sole affections he possessed,
though at first he felt for her only esteem and gratitude; and advised
him by all means to seek for one whose heart was in that situation,
which he was well qualified to find.

Though Harriot forbore to mention Miss Alworth's name, Mr Parnel well
understood to whom she alluded, but found it difficult to take her
advice. At length, however, deprived of all hope of obtaining the woman
he loved, and moved to compassion by the visible unhappiness of one who
loved him, he began to listen to it and frankly told Harriot that he
understood the aim of what she had said. She was not sorry to throw off
all restraint as it gave her the power of speaking more to the purpose
and at length brought him to say that he should not be unwilling to
marry her. Harriot feared lest the belief of Mr Parnel's still retaining
an affection for her might render Miss Alworth uneasy, and therefore
advised him gradually to slacken his addresses to her and at the same
time to increase in proportion his attentions for Miss Alworth, that he
might appear to prefer her, since a symptom of inconstancy she knew
would not so much affect her as any sign of indifference, and Harriot's
generosity so far exceeded her vanity that she very sincerely desired to
be thought neglected rather than give any alloy to the happiness of her
cousin.

There was the more colour for this supposition as Mr Parnel had never
been publicly discarded by her, since for the completion of her views
she had found it necessary to preserve his acquaintance.

Miss Alworth was happy beyond expression when she found herself the
object of Mr Parnel's addresses. Her wishes so far blinded her that she
really believed Harriot was neglected for her; but yet knew she had long
been endeavouring to serve her and was obliged to her for some
instructions how to behave so to Mr Parnel as to secure his esteem and
confidence, the best foundation for love. As her brother was then soon
expected over, Mrs Alworth thought that to wait for his approbation was
a proper compliment.

Mr Alworth was not at all inclined to object to so good a match,
especially as it was much desired by his sister, and the marriage was
celebrated soon after his return. This ceremony did not so engage his
attention as to render him less sensible of the pleasure of renewing his
friendship with Harriot, who received him with the sincerest joy. He
found her greatly improved and every hour passed agreeably that was
spent in her company. They were continually together and never happy but
when they were so. Every one talked of their mutual passion; and they
were so often told of it that they began to fancy it was true, but
surprised to find that name should be given to an affection calm and
rational as theirs, totally free from that turbulency and wildness which
had always appeared to them the true characteristics of love. They were
sensible, however, that nothing was so dear to them as each other, they
were always sorry to part, uneasy asunder, and rejoiced to meet; a walk
was doubly pleasing when they both shared it; a book became more
entertaining if they read together, everything was insipid that they did
not mutually enjoy. When they considered these symptoms, they were
inclined to think the general opinion was just and that their affection,
being free from passion, proceeded from some peculiarity of temper.

Mrs Alworth thought she should give them great satisfaction in proposing
a speedy marriage; and rejoiced to see the first wish of her heart,
which had been for their union, so nearly completed. The old lady's
proposal made them a little thoughtful; they saw no very good reason for
their marrying; they enjoyed each other's society already and did not
wish for any more intimate tie. But neither knew how to refuse, since
the other might take it for an affront, and they would not for the world
have had the sincerity and tenderness of their affection brought into
doubt. Besides they began to think that as their love was so generally
looked upon as certain, it might become difficult to continue the same
degree of intimacy without exposing themselves to censure. This thought
was sufficient to determine them to marry; and their entire affection
for and confidence in each other convinced them they ran no hazard in
this step; and that they could not fail of being happy as man and wife
who had so long enjoyed great felicity in the most intimate friendship.

In consequence of this resolution, lawyers were employed to draw up
settlements and every thing requisite for a proper appearance on their
marriage was ordered; but they were so very patient on the subject that
the preparations went on slowly. Some who hoped to have their diligence
quickened in a manner usual on such occasions, affected delays, but were
surprised to find that no complaint ensued. They grew still more
dilatory, but the only consequence that arose from it was a decent
solicitation to dispatch, without any of those more effectual means
being used, which impatient love or greedy avarice suggest.

These young people were perfectly happy and contented and therefore
waited with composure for the conclusion of preparations, which however
slowly did however proceed. The old lady indeed was less patient, but a
grandmother's solicitations have no very powerful effect on lawyers;
therefore hers availed little.

During these delays Mrs Tonston, formerly the eldest Miss Denham, having
been extremely ill, was sent to Buxton for the recovery of her health.
As this place was but a day's journey from Mrs Alworth's house, she
expressed a desire to see her grand-daughter, and Mr Alworth and
Harriot, as well as Miss Denham, very readily accompanied her thither.

The accommodations at Buxton allow very little seclusion; and as Mrs
Tonston was sufficiently recovered to conform to the customs of the
place, they joined in the general society. The first day at dinner Mr
Alworth's attention was much engrossed by Miss Melman, a very pretty
woman. She was far from a perfect beauty, but her countenance expressed
an engaging vivacity, and great good humour, though a wandering unfixed
look indicated a light and unsteady mind. Her person was little but
elegant; there was a sprightliness in her whole figure which was very
attractive: her conversation was suitable to it, she had great life and
spirit, all the common routine of discourse and a fashionable readiness
to skim lightly over all subjects. Her understanding was sufficiently
circumscribed, but what she wanted in real sense she made up in
vivacity, no unsuccessful substitute in general estimation.

This young lady was almost a new character to Mr Alworth. He had lived
constantly at his grandmother's till he went abroad, and as soon as he
returned into the kingdom he went thither; from which, as it was the
middle of summer and consequently London had no temptations, he had
never stirred. He therefore had been little used to any woman but his
sober and sensible grandmother, two cousins who were pretty enough, but
had no great charms of understanding; a sister rather silly; and the
incomparable Harriot, whose wit was as sound as her judgement solid and
sterling, free from affectation and all little effeminate arts and airs.
Reason governed her thoughts and actions, nor could the greatest flow of
spirits make her for a moment forget propriety. Every thing in her was
natural grace, she was always consistent and uniform, and a stranger to
caprice.

Miss Melman was a complete coquette, capricious and fantastical. As Mr
Alworth was the prettiest man at the place and known to have a good
fortune, she soon singled him out as a conquest worthy of her and
successfully played off all her arts. By appearing to like him, she
enticed him to address her; and by a well managed capriciousness of
behaviour kept up the spirit of a pursuit. She frequently gave him
reason to believe her favourably disposed towards him, and as often, by
obliging him to doubt of it, increased his desire to be certain it was
true. She kept him in a state of constant anxiety, and made him know her
consequence by the continual transition from pleasure to pain in which
he lived.

He had not been much more than a fortnight at Buxton when his attachment
to Miss Melman became apparent. Harriot saw an assiduity in his
behaviour very different from what he had ever shewn to her. He felt
that in the circumstances wherein he and Harriot then were, his conduct
must appear injurious, and shame and the secret reproaches of his
conscience made him take all possible opportunities of avoiding her
presence: if he was obliged to converse with her, it was with an air so
restrained and inattentive as made her fear his regard for her was
entirely vanished. The sincere affection she had for him rendered this
apprehension extremely painful. She would have been contented to have
seen another woman his wife, but could not bear the thought of losing
his friendship. At first she passed over this change in silence and
appeared even not to observe it; but when they received an account that
the marriage writings were finished, she thought an affected blindness
highly unseasonable and told him, in the most friendly and generous
manner, that nothing remained to be done but to cancel them, that she
plainly perceived another had obtained the heart she never possessed;
that the measures taken for their marriage were of no sort of
consequence, and she flattered herself she might retain his friendship
though he gave his hand to another.

Mr Alworth at first appeared confounded, but recovering himself,
confessed to her frankly he never knew the weakness and folly of the
human heart till his own convinced him of it; that he had always felt
for her the most perfect esteem, joined with the tenderest affection,
but his passions had had no share in his attachment. On the contrary, he
found them strongly engaged on the side of Miss Melman, and felt an
ardour for her which he had never before experienced. That he could not
think of being her husband without rapture, though he saw plainly she
was inferior to his Harriot both in beauty and understanding; and as for
her principles, he was totally ignorant of them. He now, he said,
perceived the difference between friendship and love, and was convinced
that esteem and passion were totally independent, since she entirely
possessed the one, while Miss Melman totally engrossed the other.

Harriot was pleased with the frankness of Mr Alworth's confession and
wished only to be secure of his esteem, but she saw him so wholly taken
up with Miss Melman that she was convinced passion had greater power
over his sex than esteem, and that while his mind was under the
tumultuous influence of love, she must expect very little satisfaction
from his friendship.

She took upon herself the task of breaking off their treaty of marriage
and acquainted her grandmother with her resolution, who saw too plainly
the reason for her doing so to blame her conduct, though she grieved at
the necessity for it and could not sincerely forgive her grandson's
levity and want of judgement in preferring a wild fantastic girl to the
extreme beauty and solid well-known merit of Harriot, an error for which
she prophetically saw he would in time be severely punished.

Harriot, from the intended bride, now became the confidante of Mr
Alworth, though with an aching heart; for she feared that after
experiencing the more active sensations of a strong passion, friendship
would appear too insipid to have any charms for him. She accompanied Mrs
Alworth home before the lovers chose to leave Buxton, but not till she
had prevailed with her grandmother to consent that the marriage between
Miss Melman and Mr Alworth should be celebrated at her house.

When everything requisite for the ceremony was ready, they came to Mrs
Alworth's, where the indissoluble knot was tied and in the bridegroom's
opinion the most perfect happiness secured to his future years. They
stayed but a few days after the marriage and then went to her father's
house, till the approaching winter called them to London.

Harriot found a great loss of a friend she so sincerely loved, but she
hoped he would be as happy as he expected and had the satisfaction of
believing he retained a tender regard for her. They corresponded
frequently and his letters assured her of his felicity. After he had
been some time fixed in London, he grew indeed less eloquent on the
subject, which did not surprise her as the variety of his engagements
shortened his letters and denied him leisure to expatiate on the most
pleasing topics.

Miss Denham had accompanied her sister home, and in the winter Mrs
Alworth was informed by Mrs Tonston that Miss Denham had received a
proposal from a gentleman of a good estate, but he insisted on a fortune
of nine thousand pounds, which was two more than she was possessed of;
and as they wished the old lady to make that addition, Mrs Tonston as an
inducement added that the gentleman was extremely agreeable to her
sister.

Mrs Alworth was not inclined to comply with their views, and made no
other answer to all Harriot urged to prevail with her to give the
requisite sum than that it was more than perhaps would at her death fall
to Miss Denham's share and she saw no temptation to purchase so
mercenary a man. When Harriot found that all she could say was
unavailing, she told Mrs Alworth that if she would give her leave, she
was determined to make the required addition out of her fortune; for she
could not bear her cousin should be disappointed in a particular she
thought essential to her happiness by the want of a sum of money which
she could very well spare; adding that the treatment she had received
from her cousins she attributed to childishness and folly and should be
far worse than they were if she could remember it with resentment.

Mrs Alworth was greatly touched with this instance of Harriot's
generosity, and finding that nothing but the exertion of her authority,
which her grand-daughter acknowledged absolute and always obeyed
implicitly, could prevent her from performing her purpose, she
determined to take the most effectual means of hindering it by advancing
the money herself, and invited Miss Denham and her lover to her house;
where the marriage was performed, and they departed.

Mrs Alworth began to feel the infirmities of age, and now that she and
Harriot were left to continual tête-à-tête, absolute quiet might have
degenerated into something like dullness; but the disturbance they found
not at home reached them from abroad. Mr Parnel was wearied with his
wife's fondness, who not considering that he had married her more out of
gratitude than affection, had disgusted him with the continual
professions of a love to which his heart would not make an equal return.
This fondness teased a temper naturally good into peevishness and was
near converting indifference into dislike. Mrs Parnel, distressed beyond
measure at an effect so contrary to what she intended, reproached him
with ingratitude and tormented him with tears and complaints.

Harriot, who considered this match as in a great measure her own work,
was particularly desirous of redressing these grievances and took great
pains to persuade Mrs Parnel to restrain her fondness, and suppress her
complaints, while she endeavoured to make her husband sensible that he
ought, in consideration for the cause, to pardon the troublesome effects
and not to suffer himself to be disgusted by that affection in his wife
which to most husbands would appear a merit. Mrs Alworth joined to
Harriot's persuasion the influence her age and respectable character
gave her, and though not without great difficulty, they at last saw Mr
and Mrs Parnel live in peace and amity, without any of the pleasures
arising from strong and delicate affections or the sufferings occasioned
by ill humour and hatred; and whatever void they might find in their
hearts, they were so happy as to have well filled by two very fine
children which Mrs Parnel brought her husband, who always treated her
with great indulgence in hopes of fixing Harriot's good opinion; for
though despair had damped his passion, yet he still loved her with the
tenderest respect and reverence.

Towards the latter end of the second year of Mr Alworth's marriage, his
grandmother died, much regretted by Harriot, whom she left mistress of
her own fortune with the addition of four thousand pounds, part of it
the accumulated interest of her paternal inheritance, the rest Mrs
Alworth's legacy. Her grandson succeeded to her house and intreated
Harriot that he might find her there when he came to take possession.

Their correspondence had been regular but they had never met since his
marriage. Mrs Alworth was not fond of the conversation of an old lady;
and from seeing herself not very agreeable to her grandmother, felt an
uncommon awe in her presence. Harriot had received repeated invitations
from them, but could not be prevailed with to leave old Mrs Alworth, who
had no other companion.

The only relief she found in her affliction for the loss of so worthy a
parent was putting the house, and all belonging to it, in order for the
reception of her first friend, in whose society she expected to renew
the happiness she had so long enjoyed from it. Nor was she disappointed
in her hopes of finding him still her friend; they met with mutual joy,
and Mrs Alworth seemed at first as much pleased with her new possession
as they were with each other. But Harriot soon found her happiness
considerably damped. Mr Alworth, unwilling to let his grandmother know
the ill success of a union which he was sensible she disapproved, had
been silent on that subject in his letters, but he was too well
acquainted with the generosity of Harriot's temper to fear she would
triumph at the natural consequence of his ill-grounded passion, and
therefore concealed not from her any part of the uneasiness which his
wife's disposition gave him. He too late saw the difference between
sensible vivacity and animal spirits and found Mrs Alworth a giddy
coquette, too volatile to think, too vain to love; pleased with
admiration, insensible to affection, fond of flattery but indifferent to
true praise; imprudently vivacious in mixed companies, lifeless when
alone with him; and desirous of charming all mankind except her husband,
who of his whole sex seemed the only person of no consequence to her. As
her view was to captivate in public, she covered a very pretty
complexion with pearl-powder and rouge because they made her more
resplendent by candle-light and in public places. Mr Alworth had in
strong terms expressed his abhorence of that practice, but she was
surprised he should intermeddle in an affair that was no business of
his, surely she might wear what complexion she pleased. The natural turn
of his temper inclined him to rational society, but in that his wife
could bear no part. The little time she was at home was employed in
dressing and a multitude of coxcombs attended her toilet. Mr Alworth's
extreme fondness for her made him at first very wretched; he soon found
himself the most disregarded of all mankind and every man appeared his
rival; but on nearer observation he perceived his jealousy was
groundless and that she was too giddy to love any thing. This made his
pride easy, but his tenderness still had much to endure, till at length
contempt produced some degree of indifference and his sufferings became
less acute, though he lived in continual grief at finding himself
disappointed of all his airy hopes of happiness.

Harriot was scarcely less afflicted than himself, she endeavoured to
render him more contented with his situation, and attempted to teach Mrs
Alworth to think, but in both was equally unsuccessful. However, this
was not all she had to endure. When Mr Alworth began with unprejudiced
eyes to compare her he had lost with the woman for whom he relinquished
her; when he saw how greatly Harriot's natural beauty eclipsed Mrs
Alworth's notwithstanding the addition of all her borrowed charms, he
wondered what magic had blinded him to her superiority. But when he drew
a comparison between the admirable understanding of the one, her great
fund of knowledge, the inexhaustible variety in her conversation, with
the insipid dullness or unmeaning vivacity of the other, he was still
more astonished and could not forgive his strange infatuation. This
train of thought perhaps had no small share in giving rise to a passion
for Harriot which he had never felt, while it might have been the source
of much happiness to them both. In short, he became violently in love
with her and fell a prey to the most cruel regret and despair, sensible
that all he suffered was the consequence of his own folly.

Respect for Harriot made Mr Alworth endeavour to conceal his passion,
but could not prevent its daily increase. At this time I became
acquainted with her, during a visit I made in the neighbourhood; and as
the natural openness both of her disposition and mine inclined us to
converse with much freedom, I one day took the liberty to tell her how
much Mr Alworth was in love with her. She had not the least suspicion of
it, the entire affection which had always subsisted between them she
imagined sufficient to lead me into that error but told me the thing was
impossible; and to prove it, related all the circumstances of their
intended union. Appearances were too strong to suffer me to be persuaded
that I was mistaken; I acknowledged that what she urged seemed to
contradict my opinion, but that it was no proof; for the perverseness of
human nature was such that it did not appear to me at all improbable
that the easiness of obtaining her, when they had both been, as it were,
bred up with that view, might be the sole occasion of his indifference;
and the impossibility of ever possessing her now would only serve to
inflame his passion.

Harriot accused me of representing human nature more perverse and absurd
than it really was, and continued firm in the persuasion of my being
mistaken. Whatever glaring signs of Mr Alworth's love appeared, she set
them all down to the account of friendship; till at length his mind was
so torn with grief and despair that no longer able to conceal the cause
of his greatest sufferings he begged her to teach him how to conquer a
passion which, while it existed, must make him wretched; and with the
greatest confusion told her how unaccountably unfortunate he was, both
in not loving, and in loving, each equally out of season. Almost
distracted with the distressful state of his mind, he was in the utmost
horror lest this declaration should offend her; and throwing himself at
her feet with a countenance and manner which shewed him almost frantic
with despair, terrified her so much that she did not feel half the shock
this declaration would have given her had it been made with more
calmness.

She strove to silence him; she endeavoured to raise him from her feet,
but to no purpose; she could not abate the agonies of his mind, without
assuring him she forgave him. Her spirits were in extreme agitation till
she saw him a little composed, for she feared his senses were affected;
but when her alarm began to abate, the effect of her terrors and her
grief appeared in a flood of tears; Mr Alworth found them infectious,
and she was obliged to dry them up in order to comfort him. When he grew
more composed, Harriot ventured, after expressing her concern for his
having conceived so unfortunate a passion, to intimate that absence was
the best remedy and that there was nothing to be done but for her to
leave the house.

Mr Alworth was not able to support the mention of her going away and
intreated her at least to give him time to arm himself against the
greatest misfortune that could befall him, the loss of her society. She
dared not control him in any thing material while his mind continued in
that desperate situation and therefore consented to stay some time
longer. She found it very difficult to make him think that there ever
was a proper time for her to depart, though passion was much less
tormenting since he had ventured to declare it; and what before arose
nearly to distraction, sunk now into a soft melancholy. Mrs Alworth paid
so little attention to her husband that she had not perceived the
conflict in his mind. She was wearied with the country to the greatest
degree, and made the tiresome days as short as she could by not rising
till noon; from that time till dinner her toilet found her sufficient
employment. As the neighbourhood was large, she very frequently
contrived to make a party at cards; but as her company was not used to
play high, this afforded her little relief except she could find
somebody to bet with her, which was not very difficult as she was
contented to do it to a disadvantage.

In this way she contrived, just, as she called it, to drag on life; and
wondered how so fine a woman as Harriot could have so long buried
herself in that place, scarcely more lively than the family vault.

When Harriot thought she had sufficiently convinced Mr Alworth of the
necessity of her absence, she took her leave with much greater concern
than she would suffer to appear, though she did not affect indifference;
but the truth was, Mr Alworth's passionate tenderness for her had made
an impression on her heart which without it all his merit could not
effect. The melancholy languor which overspread his countenance gave it
charms she had never before discovered in it; the soft accents in which
he breathed the most delicate love penetrated to her very soul, and she
no longer found that indifference which had been so remarkable a part of
her character. But she carefully concealed these new sensations in hopes
that he would more easily conquer his passion for not thinking it
returned.

Though the winter was scarcely begun, yet having no inducement to go to
any other place, she went to London; and as I had prolonged my stay in
the country only to gratify my inclination for her company, I went with
her to town. Mrs Alworth did not continue there a month after us; but
her husband, whose health was by no means in a good state, went to Bath;
and that he might not be quite destitute of pleasure, he carried his
little boy with him, though but a year and a quarter old. His wife did
not contend with him for this privilege, she would have seen little more
of the babe had it been in London.

Harriot Trentham was at her first arrival in very low spirits, and every
letter she received from Mr Alworth increased her dejection, as it
painted his in very strong colours. As the town filled she began to try
if dissipation could dispel her melancholy. Her beauty, the fineness of
her person, and her being known to have a large fortune, which fame even
exaggerated, procured her many lovers and she became the most admired
woman in town. This was a new source of pleasure to her. She had lived
where she saw not many single men, and though few of these who dared to
flatter themselves with hopes, had failed paying their addresses to her,
yet these successive courtships were very dull when compared with all
the flutter of general admiration. Her books were now neglected, and to
avoid thinking on a subject which constantly afflicted her, she forced
herself into public and was glad to find that the idleness of the men
and her own vanity could afford her entertainment.

She was not however so totally engrossed by this pleasing dissipation as
to neglect any means of serving the distressed. Mrs Tonston, exerting
the genius she had so early shewn for traducing others, set her husband
and his family at variance, till at length the falsehoods by which she
had effected it came to be discovered. Her husband and she had never
lived well together, and this proof of her bad heart disgusted him so
entirely that he turned her out of his house, allowing her a mere trifle
for her support. In this distress she applied to Harriot, who she knew
was ever ready to serve even those who had most injured her.

Her application was not unsuccessful. Harriot sent her a considerable
present for her immediate convenience and then went into the country to
Mr Tonston, to whom she represented so effectually his ungenerous
treatment, since the fortune his wife brought him gave her a right to a
decent maintenance, that he made a proper settlement upon her and gave
the writings into Harriot's hands, who not only saw the money paid
regularly, but took so much pains to convince Mrs Tonston of the
malignity of her disposition that she brought her to a due sense of it,
and by applying for his assistance to mend her heart, who best knew its
defects, she became so altered in temper that five years after her
separation from her husband Harriot effected a reconciliation, and they
now live in great amity together, gratefully acknowledging their
obligations to her.

I have anticipated this fact in order to render my narrative less
tedious, or I should have stopped at Harriot's procuring a settlement
for Mrs Tonston, and have told you that by lying in her return at an inn
where the smallpox then was she caught that distemper, and soon after
she arrived in London it appeared. I need not say that she had it to a
very violent degree. Being then in town I had the good fortune to nurse
her and flatter myself that my care was not useless; for in cases so
dangerous, no one who does not feel all the tender solicitude of a
friend can be a proper nurse.

Mrs Alworth wrote her husband word of Harriot's illness, who came post
to London, filled with the extremest anxiety, and shared the fatigue of
nursing with me; she was all the time delirious. When she came to her
senses, she at first seemed mortified to think Mr Alworth had seen her
in that disfigured condition; but on reflection told me she rejoiced in
it, as she thought it must totally extinguish his passion; and her
greatest solicitude was for his happiness. But she afterwards found her
expectation was ill grounded.

When she recovered, she perceived that the smallpox had entirely
destroyed her beauty. She acknowledged she was not insensible to this
mortification; and to avoid the observation of the envious or even of
the idly curious she retired, as soon as she was able to travel, to a
country house which I hired for her.

In a very short time she became perfectly contented with the alteration
this cruel distemper had made in her. Her love for reading returned, and
she regained the quiet happiness of which flutter and dissipation had
deprived her without substituting any thing so valuable in its place.
She has often said she looks on this accident as a reward for the good
she had done Mrs Tonston, and that few benevolent actions receive so
immediate a recompense, or we should be less remiss in our duties though
not more meritorious in performing them. She found retirement better
calculated for overcoming a hopeless passion than noise and flutter. She
had indeed by dissipation often chased Mr Alworth from her thoughts, but
at the first moment of leisure his idea returned in as lively colours as
if it had always kept possession of her mind. In the country she had
time to reflect on the necessity of conquering this inclination if she
wished to enjoy any tolerable happiness; and therefore took proper
measures to combat it. Reason and piety, when united, are extremely
prevalent, and with their assistance she restrained her affection once
more within its ancient bounds of friendship. Her letters to Mr Alworth
were filled with remonstrances against the indulgence of his love, and
the same means she had found effectual she recommended to him and with
satisfaction learnt that though they had not entirely succeeded, yet he
had acquired such a command over his heart that he was as little
wretched as a man can be who is a living monument of the too common
folly of being captivated by a sudden glare of person and parts; and of
the fatal error of those men who seek in marriage for an amusing trifler
rather than a rational and amiable companion, and too late find that the
vivacity which pleases in the mistress is often a fatal vice in a wife.
He lives chiefly in the country, has generally a few friends in the
house with him, and takes a great deal of pains in the education of his
two sons; while their mother spends almost the whole year in town,
immersed in folly and dissipation.

About fourteen years ago Harriot, who I ought to begin to call Miss
Trentham, came to see a lady in this neighbourhood and thus was first
known to the inhabitants of this mansion. They were much pleased with
her acquaintance and when she had performed her visit, invited her to
pass a little time with them. She required no solicitation, for it was
the very thing she wished, and here she has remained ever since. When Mr
Maynard died, leaving me but a small jointure, Miss Trentham was
indulged in her inclination of asking me to spend the first part of my
widowhood with her and her friends; and I have been fortunate enough to
recommend myself so effectually that they have left me no room to doubt
they choose I should continue with them, and indeed I think I could
scarcely support life were I banished from this heavenly society. Miss
Trentham and Mr Alworth keep up a constant correspondence by letters,
but avoid meeting. His wife has brought him one daughter, and Miss
Trentham's happiness has been rendered complete by obtaining from her
permission to educate this child; a favour which contrary to what is
usual is esteemed very small by her who granted and very great by the
person that received it. This girl is now ten years old, and the most
accomplished of her age of any one, perhaps, in the kingdom. Her person
is fine, and her temper extremely engaging. She went about a week ago to
her father, whom she visits for about three weeks twice in a year, and
never returns unimproved.

As Miss Trentham's fortune made a good addition to the income of the
society, they on this occasion established in the parish a manufacture
of carpets and rugs which has succeeded so well as to enrich all the
country round about.

As the morning was not very far advanced, I asked Mrs Maynard to conduct
us to this manufacture, as in my opinion there is no sight so delightful
as extensive industry. She readily complied, and led us to a sort of
street, the most inhabited part of the village, above half a mile from
Millenium Hall. Here we found several hundreds of people of all ages,
from six years old to four score, employed in the various parts of the
manufacture, some spinning, some weaving, others dying the worsted, and
in short all busy, singing and whistling, with the appearance of general
cheerfulness, and their neat dress shewed them in a condition of proper
plenty.

The ladies, it seems, at first hired persons to instruct the
neighbourhood, which was then burdened with poor and so over stocked
with hands that only a small part of them could find work. But as they
feared an enterprising undertaker might ruin their plan, they themselves
undertook to be stewards; they stood the first expense, allowed a
considerable profit to the directors, but kept the distribution of the
money entirely in their own hands: thus they prevent the poor from being
oppressed by their superiors, for they allow them great wages and by
their very diligent inspection hinder any frauds. I never was more
charmed than to see a manufacture so well ordered that scarcely any one
is too young or too old to partake of its emoluments. As the ladies have
the direction of the whole, they give more to the children and the aged,
in proportion to the work they do, than to those who are more capable,
as a proper encouragement and reward for industry in those seasons of
life in which it is so uncommon.

We were so taken up with observing these people, that we got home but
just as dinner was carrying in.

In the afternoon we informed the ladies how we had spent the latter part
of the morning, and in the course of conversation Lamont told them that
they were the first people he ever knew who lived entirely for others,
without any regard to their own pleasure; and that were he a Roman
Catholic, he should beg of them to confer on him the merit of some of
their works of supererogation.

'I do not know where you could find them,' replied Miss Mancel, 'I
believe we have not been able to discover any such; on the contrary, we
are sensible of great deficiencies in the performance of our duty.'

'Can you imagine, Madam,' interrupted Lamont, 'that all you do here is a
duty?'

'Indispensably so,' answered Miss Mancel, 'we are told by him who cannot
err that our time, our money and our understandings are entrusted with
us as so many talents for the use of which we must give a strict
account. How we ought to use them he has likewise told us; as to our
fortunes in the most express terms, when he commands us to feed the
hungry, to clothe the naked, to relieve the prisoner, and to take care
of the sick. Those who have not an inheritance that enables them to do
this are commanded to labour in order to obtain means to relieve those
who are incapable of gaining the necessaries of life. Can we then
imagine that every one is not required to assist others to the utmost of
his power, since we are commanded even to work for the means of doing
so? God's mercy and bounty is universal, it flows unasked and unmerited;
we are bid to endeavour to imitate him as far as our nature will enable
us to do it. What bounds then ought we to set to our good offices, but
the want of power to extend them further? Our faculties and our time
should be employed in directing our donations in a manner the most
conducive to the benefit of mankind, the most for the encouragement of
virtue and the suppression of vice; to assist in this work is the
business of speech, of reason and of time. These ought to be employed
in seeking out opportunities of doing good and in contriving means for
regulating it to the best purpose. Shall I allow much careful thought
towards settling the affairs of my household with economy, and be
careless how I distribute my benefactions to the poor, to whom I am only
a steward, and of whose interests I ought to be as careful as of my own?
By giving them my money I may sacrifice my covetousness, but by doing it
negligently I indulge my indolence, which I ought to endeavour to
conquer as much as every other vice. Each state has its trials; the
poverty of the lower rank of people exercises their industry and
patience; the riches of the great are trials of their temperance,
humility and humanity. Theirs is perhaps the more difficult part, but
their present reward is also greater if they acquit themselves well; as
for the future, there may probably be no inequality.'

'You observed, sir,' said Miss Trentham 'that we live for others,
without any regard to our own pleasure, therefore I imagine you think
our way of life inconsistent with it; but give me leave to say you are
mistaken. What is there worth enjoying in this world that we do not
possess? We have all the conveniences of life, nay, all the luxuries
that can be included among them. We might indeed keep a large retinue;
but do you think the sight of a number of useless attendants could
afford us half the real satisfaction that we feel from seeing the money
which must be lavished on them expended in supporting the old and
decrepit, or nourishing the helpless infant? We might dress with so much
expense that we could scarcely move under the burden of our apparel; but
is that more eligible than to see the shivering wretch clad in warm and
comfortable attire? Can the greatest luxury of the table afford so true
a pleasure as the reflection that instead of its being over-charged with
superfluities, the homely board of the cottager is blessed with plenty?
We might spend our time in going from place to place, where none wish to
see us except they find a deficiency at the card-table, perpetually
living among those whose vacant minds are ever seeking after pleasures
foreign to their own tastes and pursue joys which vanish as soon as
possessed; for these would you have us leave the infinite satisfaction
of being beheld with gratitude and love, and the successive enjoyments
of rational delights, which here fill up every hour? Should we do wisely
in quitting a scene where every object exalts our mind to the great
Creator, to mix among all the folly of depraved nature?

'If we take it in a more serious light still, we shall perceive a great
difference in the comforts arising from the reflections on a life spent
in an endeavour to obey our Maker and to correct our own defects in a
constant sense of our offences, and an earnest desire to avoid the
commission of them for the future, from a course of hurry and
dissipation which will not afford us leisure to recollect our errors,
nor attention to attempt amending them.'

'The difference is indeed striking,' said Lamont, 'and there can be no
doubt which is most eligible; but are you not too rigid in your censures
of dissipation? You seem to be inclined to forbid all innocent
pleasures.'

'By no means,' replied Miss Trentham, 'but things are not always
innocent because they are trifling. Can any thing be more innocent than
picking of straws, or playing at push-pin; but if a man employs himself
so continually in either that he neglects to serve a friend or to
inspect his affairs, does it not cease to be innocent? Should a
schoolboy be found whipping a top during school hours, would his master
forbear correction because it is an innocent amusement? And yet thus we
plead for things as trifling, tho' they obstruct the exercise of the
greatest duties in life. Whatever renders us forgetful of our Creator,
and of the purposes for which he called us into being, or leads us to be
inattentive to his commands, or neglectful in the performance of them,
becomes criminal, however innocent in its own nature. While we pursue
these things with a moderation which prevents such effects they are
always innocent and often desirable, the excess only is to be avoided.'

'I have nothing left me to say,' answered Lamont, 'than that your
doctrine must be true and your lives are happy; but may I without
impertinence observe that I should imagine your extensive charities
require an immense fortune.'

'Not so much, perhaps,' said Mrs Morgan, 'as you suppose. We keep a very
regular account, and at an average, for every year will not be exactly
the same, the total stands thus. The girls' school four hundred pounds a
year, the boys' a hundred and fifty, apprenticing some and equipping
others for service one hundred. The clothing of the girls in the house
forty. The almshouses two hundred. The maintenance of the monsters a
hundred and twenty. Fortunes and furniture for such young persons as
marry in this and the adjoining parishes, two hundred. All this together
amounts only to twelve hundred and ten pounds a year, and yet affords
all reasonable comforts. The expenses of ourselves and household, in our
advantageous situation, come within eight hundred a year. Finding so
great a balance in our favour, we agreed to appropriate a thousand a
year for the society of gentlewomen with small or no fortunes; but it
has turned out in such a manner that they cost us a trifle. We then
dedicated that sum to the establishment of a manufacture, but since the
fourth year it has much more than paid its expenses, though in many
respects we do not act with the economy usual in such cases, but give
very high wages, for our design being to serve a multitude of poor
destitute of work, we have no nice regard to profit. As we did not mean
to drive a trade, we have been at a loss what to do with the profits. We
have out of it made a fund for the sick and disabled from which they may
receive a comfortable support, and intend to secure it to them to
perpetuity in the best manner we can.'

'How few people of fortune are there,' said Lamont, 'who could not
afford £1200 a year, with only retrenching superfluous and burdensome
expenses? But if they would only imitate you in any one branch, how much
greater pleasure would they then receive from their fortunes than they
now enjoy?'

While he was engaged in discourse with the ladies, I observed to Mrs
Maynard that by the account she had given me of their income, their
expenses fell far short of it. She whispered me that their accidental
charities were innumerable, all the rest being employed in that way.
Their acquaintance know they cannot so much oblige as by giving them an
opportunity of relieving distress. They receive continual applications
and though they give to none indiscriminately, yet they never refuse any
who really want. Their donations sometimes are in great sums, where the
case requires such extraordinary assistance. If they hear of any
gentleman's family oppressed by too many children, or impoverished by
sickness, they contrive to convey an adequate present privately, or will
sometimes ask permission to put some of their children into business, or
buy them places or commissions.

We acquainted the ladies that we should trouble them no longer than that
night, and with regret saw it so soon ended. The next morning, upon
going into Lamont's room, I found him reading the New Testament; I could
not forbear expressing some pleasure and surprise at seeing him thus
uncommonly employed.

He told me he was convinced by the conduct of the ladies of this house
that their religion must be the true one. When he had before considered
the lives of Christians, their doctrine seemed to have so little
influence on their actions that he imagined there was no sufficient
effect produced by Christianity to warrant a belief, that it was
established by a means so very extraordinary; but he now saw what that
religion in reality was, and by the purity of its precepts was convinced
its original must be divine. It now appeared evidently to be worthy of
its miraculous institution. He was resolved to examine whether the moral
evidences concurred with that divine stamp which was so strongly
impressed upon it and he had risen at day break to get a Bible out of
the parlour that he might study precepts which could thus exalt human
nature almost to divine.

It was with great joy I found him so seriously affected; and when we
went to breakfast could not forbear communicating my satisfaction to my
cousin, who sincerely shared in it. As soon as breakfast was over we
took leave of the ladies, though not till they had made us promise a
second visit, to which we very gladly agreed, for could we with decency
have prolonged this, I know not when we should have departed.

You, perhaps, wish we had done it sooner and may think I have been too
prolix in my account of this society; but the pleasure I find in
recollection is such that I could not restrain my pen within moderate
bounds. If what I have described may tempt any one to go and do
likewise, I shall think myself fortunate in communicating it. For my
part, my thoughts are all engaged in a scheme to imitate them on a
smaller scale.

I am, Sir.





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