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Title: Tales and Novels — Volume 08
Author: Edgeworth, Maria, 1767-1849
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Tales and Novels — Volume 08" ***

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TALES AND NOVELS, VOLUME VIII (of X)

PATRONAGE, concluded; COMIC DRAMAS; LEONORA; AND LETTERS

By Maria Edgeworth

In Ten Volumes. With Engravings on Steel



PATRONAGE



CHAPTER XXXVI.


No less an event than Alfred's marriage, no event calling less
imperatively upon her feelings, could have recovered Lady Jane's
sympathy for Caroline. But Alfred Percy, who had been the restorer of
her fortune, her friend in adversity, what pain it would give him
to find her, at the moment when he might expect her congratulations,
quarrelling with his sister--that sister, too, who had left her home,
where she was so happy, and Hungerford Castle, where she was adored, on
purpose to tend Lady Jane in sickness and obscurity!

Without being put exactly into these words, or, perhaps, into any
words, thoughts such as these, with feelings of gratitude and affection,
revived for Caroline in Lady Jane's mind the moment she heard of
Alfred's intended marriage.

"Good young man!--Excellent friend!--Well, tell me all About it, _my
dear_."

It was the first time that her ladyship had said _my dear_ to Caroline
since the day of the fatal refusal.

Caroline was touched by this word of reconciliation--and the tears it
brought into her eyes completely overcame Lady Jane, who hastily wiped
her own.

"So, my dear Caroline--where were we? Tell me about your brother's
marriage--when is it to be?--How has it been brought about?--The last
I heard of the Leicesters was the good dean's death--I remember pitying
them very much--Were they not left in straitened circumstances, too?
Will Alfred have any fortune with Miss Leicester?--Tell me every
thing--read me his letters."

To go back to Dr. Leicester's death. For some months his preferments
were kept in abeyance. Many were named, or thought of, as likely to
succeed him. The deanery was in the gift of the crown, and as it was
imagined that the vicarage was also at the disposal of government,
applications had poured in, on all sides, for friends, and friends'
friends, to the remotest link of the supporters of ministry--But--to use
their own elegant, phrase--the hands of government were tied.

It seems that in consequence of some parliamentary interest, formerly
given opportunely, and in consideration of certain arrangements in
his diocese, to serve persons whom ministers were obliged to oblige, a
promise had long ago been given to Bishop Clay that his recommendation
to the deanery should be accepted on the next vacancy. The bishop, who
had promised the living to his sister's husband, now presented it to
Mr. Buckhurst Falconer, with the important addition of Dr. Leicester's
deanery.

To become a dean was once the height of Buckhurst's ambition, that for
which in a moment of elation he prayed, scarcely hoping that his wishes
would ever be fulfilled: yet now that his wish was accomplished, and
that he had attained this height of his ambition, was he happy? No!--far
from it; farther than ever. How could he be happy--dissatisfied with his
conduct, and detesting his wife? In the very act of selling himself to
this beldam, he abhorred his own meanness; but he did not know how much
reason he should have to repent, till the deed was done. It was done in
a hurry, with all the precipitation of a man who hates himself for
what he feels forced to do. Unused to bargain and sale in any way, in
marriage never having thought of it before, Buckhurst did not take all
precautions necessary to make his sacrifice answer his own purpose. He
could not conceive the avaricious temper and habits of his lady, till he
was hers past redemption. Whatever accession of income he obtained
from his marriage, he lived up to; immediately, his establishment, his
expenses, surpassed his revenue. His wife would not pay or advance a
shilling beyond her stipulated quota to their domestic expenses. He
could not hear the parsimonious manner in which she would have had him
live, or the shabby style in which she received his friends. He was more
profuse in proportion as she was more niggardly; and whilst she scolded
and grudged every penny she paid, he ran in debt magnanimously for
hundreds. When the living and deanery came into his possession, the
second year's fruits had been eaten beforehand. Money he must have, and
money his wife would not give--but a litigious agent suggested to him a
plan for raising it, by demanding a considerable sum from the executors
of the late Dr. Leicester, for what is called _dilapidation_. The
parsonage-house seemed to be in good repair; but to make out charges of
dilapidation was not difficult to those who understood the business--and
fifteen hundred pounds was the charge presently made out against the
executors of the late incumbent. It was invidious, it was odious for the
new vicar, in the face of his parishioners, of all those who loved and
respected his predecessor, to begin by making such a demand--especially
as it was well known that the late dean had not saved any of the income
of his preferment, but had disposed of it amongst his parishioners as
a steward for the poor. He had left his family in narrow circumstances.
They were proud of his virtues, and not ashamed of the consequences.
With dignity and ease they retrenched their expenses; and after having
lived as became the family of a dignitary of the church, on quitting the
parsonage, the widow and her niece retired to a small habitation, suited
to their altered circumstances, and lived with respectable and respected
economy. The charge brought against them by the new dean was an
unexpected blow. It was an extortion, to which Mrs. Leicester would not
submit--could not without injury to her niece, from whose fortune the
sum claimed, if yielded, must be deducted.

Alfred Percy, from the first moment of their distress, from the time of
good Dr. Leicester's death, had been assiduous in his attentions to Mrs.
Leicester; and by the most affectionate letters, and, whenever he could
get away from London, by his visits to her and to his Sophia, had
proved the warmth and constancy of his attachment Some months had now
passed--he urged his suit, and besought Sophia no longer to delay his
happiness. Mrs. Leicester wished that her niece should now give herself
a protector and friend, who might console her for the uncle she had
lost. It was at this period the _dilapidation charge_ was made. Mrs.
Leicester laid the whole statement before Alfred, declaring that for
his sake, as well as for her niece's, she was resolute to defend herself
against injustice. Alfred could scarcely bring himself to believe that
Buckhurst Falconer had acted in the manner represented, with a rapacity,
harshness, and cruelty, so opposite to his natural disposition. Faults,
Alfred well knew that Buckhurst had; but they were all, he thought, of
quite a different sort from those of which he now stood accused. What
was to be done? Alfred was extremely averse from going to law with a man
who was his relation, for whom he had early felt, and still retained,
a considerable regard: yet he could not stand by, and see the woman he
loved, defrauded of nearly half the small fortune she possessed. On the
other hand, he was employed as a professional man, and called upon
to act. He determined, however, before he should, as a last resource,
expose the truth and maintain the right in a court of justice,
previously to try every means of conciliation in his power. To all
his letters the new dean answered evasively and unsatisfactorily, by
referring him to his attorney, into whose hands he said he had put the
business, and he knew and wished to hear nothing more about it. The
attorney, Solicitor Sharpe, was impracticable--Alfred resolved to
see the dean himself; and this, after much difficulty, he at length
effected. He found the dean and his lady tête-à-tête. Their raised
voices suddenly stopped short as he entered. The dean gave an angry look
at his servant as Alfred came into the room.

"Your servants," said Alfred, "told me that you were not at home, but I
told them that I knew the dean would be at home to an old friend."

"You are very good,--(said Buckhurst)--you do me a great deal of
honour," said the dean.

Two different manners appeared in the same person: one
natural--belonging to his former, the other assumed, proper, as he
thought, for his present self, or rather for his present situation.

"Won't you be seated? I hope all our friends--" Mrs. Buckhurst, or, as
she was called, Mrs. Dean Falconer, made divers motions, with a
very ugly chin, and stood as if she thought there ought to be an
introduction. The dean knew it, but being ashamed to introduce her,
determined against it. Alfred stood in suspension, waiting their mutual
pleasure.

"Won't you sit down, sir?" repeated the dean.

Down plumped Mrs. Falconer directly, and taking out her spectacles, as
if to shame her husband, by heightening the contrast of youth and age,
deliberately put them on; then drawing her table nearer, settled herself
to her work.

Alfred, who saw it to be necessary, determined to use his best address
to conciliate the lady.

"Mr. Dean, you have never yet done me the honour to introduce me to Mrs.
Falconer."

"I thought--I thought we had met before--since--Mrs. Falconer, Mr.
Alfred Percy."

The lady took off her spectacles, smiled, and adjusted herself,
evidently with an intention to be more agreeable. Alfred sat down by her
work-table, directed his conversation to her, and soon talked, or rather
induced her to talk herself into fine humour. Presently she retired
to dress for dinner, and "hoped Mr. Alfred Percy had no intention of
running away--_she_ had a well-aired bed to offer him."

The dean, though he cordially hated his lady, was glad, for his own
sake, to be relieved from her fits of crossness; and was pleased by
Alfred's paying attention to her, as this was a sort of respect to
himself, and what he seldom met with from those young men who had been
his companions before his marriage--they usually treated his lady with a
neglect or ridicule which reflected certainly upon her husband.

Alfred never yet had touched upon his business, and Buckhurst began to
think this was merely a friendly visit. Upon Alfred's observing some
alteration which had been lately made in the room in which they were
sitting, the dean took him to see other improvements in the house; in
pointing out these, and all the conveniences and elegancies about the
parsonage, Buckhurst totally forgot the _dilapidation suit_; and every
thing he showed and said tended unawares to prove that the house was in
the most perfect repair and best condition possible. Gradually, whatever
solemnity and beneficed pomp there had at first appeared in the dean's
manner, wore off, or was laid aside; and, except his being somewhat
more corpulent and rubicund than in early years, he appeared like the
original Buckhurst. His gaiety of heart, indeed, was gone, but some
sparkles of his former spirits remained.

"Here," said he, showing Alfred into his study, "here, as our good
friend Mr. _Blank_ said, when he showed us his study, '_Here_ is _where_
I read all day long--quite snug--and nobody's a bit the wiser for it.'"

The dean seated himself in his comfortable arm-chair. "Try that chair,
Alfred, excellent for sleeping in at one's ease."

  "To rest the cushion and soft dean invite."

"Ah!" said Alfred, "often have I sat in this room with my excellent
friend, Dr. Leicester!"

The new dean's countenance suddenly changed: but endeavouring to pass
it off with a jest, he said, "Ay, poor good old Leicester, he sleeps for
ever,--that's one comfort--to me--if not to you." But perceiving that
Alfred continued to look serious, the dean added some more proper
reflections in a tone of ecclesiastical sentiment, and with a sigh
of decorum--then rose, for he smelt that the _dilapidation suit_ was
coming.

"Would not you like, Mr. Percy, to wash your hands before dinner?"

"I thank you, Mr. Dean, I must detain you a moment to speak to you on
business."

Black as Erebus grew the face of the dean--he had no resource but to
listen, for he knew it would come after dinner, if it did not come now;
and it was as well to have it alone in the study, where nobody might be
a bit the wiser.

When Alfred had stated the whole of what he had to say, which he did
in as few and strong words as possible, appealing to the justice and
feelings of Buckhurst--to the fears which the dean must have of
being exposed, and ultimately defeated, in a court of justice--"Mrs.
Leicester," concluded he, "is determined to maintain the suit, and has
employed me to carry it on for her."

"I should very little have expected," said the dean, "that Mr. Alfred
Percy would have been employed in such a way against me."

"Still less should I have expected that I could be called upon in such
a way against you," replied Alfred. "No one can feel it more than I do.
The object of my present visit is to try whether some accommodation may
not be made, which will relieve us both from the necessity of going to
law, and may prevent me from being driven to the performance of this
most painful professional duty."

"Duty! professional duty!" repeated Buckhurst: "as if I did not
understand all those _cloak-words_, and know how easy it is to put them
on and off at pleasure!"

"To some it may be, but not to me," said Alfred, calmly.

Anger started into Buckhurst's countenance: but conscious how
inefficacious it would be, and how completely he had laid himself open,
the dean answered, "You are the best judge, sir. But I trust--though
I don't pretend to understand the honour of lawyers--I trust, as a
gentleman, you will not take advantage against me in this suit, of any
thing my openness has shown you about the parsonage."

"You trust rightly, Mr. Dean," replied Alfred, in his turn, with a look
not of anger, but of proud indignation; "you trust rightly, Mr. Dean,
and as I should have expected that one who has had opportunities of
knowing me so well ought to trust."

"That's a clear answer," said Buckhurst. "But how could I tell?--so much
_jockeying_ goes on in every profession--how could I tell that a lawyer
would be more conscientious than another man? But now you assure me of
it--I take it upon your word, and believe it in your case. About the
accommodation--_accommodation_ means money, does not it?--frankly, I
have not a shilling. But Mrs. Falconer is all _accommodation_. Try what
you can do with her--and by the way you began, I should hope you would
do a great deal," added he, laughing.

Alfred would not undertake to speak to his lady, unless the dean would,
in the first instance, make some sacrifice. He represented that he was
not asking for money, but for a relinquishment of a claim, which he
apprehended not to be justly due: "And the only use I shall ever make of
what you have shown me here, is to press upon your feelings, as I do at
this moment, the conviction of the injustice of that claim, which I am
persuaded your lawyers only instigated, and that you will abandon."

Buckhurst begged him not to be persuaded of any such thing. The
instigation of an attorney, he laughing said, was not in law counted the
instigation of the devil--at law no man talked of feelings. In matters
of property judges did not understand them, whatever figure they might
make with a jury in criminal cases--with an eloquent advocate's hand on
his breast.

Alfred let Buckhurst go on with his vain wit and gay rhetoric till he
had nothing more to say, knowing that he was hiding consciousness of
unhandsome conduct. Sticking firmly to his point, Alfred showed that his
client, though gentle, was resolved, and that, unless Buckhurst yielded,
law must take its course--that though he should never give any hint, the
premises must be inspected, and disgrace and defeat must follow.

Forced to be serious, fretted and hurried, for the half-hour bell before
dinner had now rung, and the dean's stomach began to know canonical
hours, he exclaimed, "The upshot of the whole business is, that Mr.
Alfred Percy is in love, I understand, with Miss Sophia Leicester, and
this fifteen hundred pounds, which he pushes me to the bare wall to
relinquish, is eventually, as part of her fortune, to become his. Would
it not have been as fair to have stated this at once?"

"No--because it would not have been the truth."

"No!--You won't deny that you are in love with Miss Leicester?"

"I am as much in love as man can be with Miss Leicester; but her fortune
is nothing to me, for I shall never touch it."

"Never touch it! Does the aunt--the widow--the cunning widow, refuse
consent?"

"Far from it: the aunt is all the aunt of Miss Leicester should be--all
the widow of Dr. Leicester ought to be. But her circumstances are not
what they ought to be; and by the liberality of a friend, who lends me
a house, rent free, and by the resources of my profession, I am better
able than Mrs. Leicester is to spare fifteen hundred pounds: therefore,
in the recovery of this money I have no personal interest at present. I
shall never receive it from her."

"Noble! Noble!--just what I could have done myself--once! What a
contrast!"

Buckhurst laid his head down upon his arms flat on the table, and
remained for some moments silent--then, starting upright, "I'll never
claim a penny from her--I'll give it all up to you! I will, if I sell my
band for it, by Jove!"

"Oh! what has your father to answer for, who forced you into the
church!" thought Alfred.

"My dear Buckhurst," said he, "my dear dean--"

"Call me Buckhurst, if you love me."

"I do love you, it is impossible to help it, in spite of--"

"All my faults--say it out--say it out--in spite of your conscience,"
added Buckhurst, trying to laugh.

"Not in spite of my conscience, but in favour of yours," said Alfred,
"against whose better dictates you have been compelled all your life to
act."

"I have so, but that's over. What remains to be done at present? I am in
real distress for five hundred pounds. Apropos to your being engaged in
this dilapidation suit, you can speak to Mrs. Falconer about it. Tell
her I have given up the thing; and see what she will do."

Alfred promised he would speak to Mrs. Falconer. "And, Alfred, when you
see your sister Caroline, tell her that I am not in one sense such a
wretch--quite, as she thinks me. But tell her that I am yet a greater
wretch--infinitely more miserable than she, I hope, can conceive--beyond
redemption--beyond endurance miserable." He turned away hastily in an
agony of mind. Alfred shut the door and escaped, scarcely able to bear I
his own emotion.

When they met at dinner, Mrs. Dean Falconer was an altered person--her
unseemly morning costume and well-worn shawl being cast aside, she
appeared in bloom-coloured gossamer gauze, and primrose ribbons, a
would-be young lady. Nothing of that curmudgeon look, or old fairy cast
of face and figure, to which he had that morning been introduced, but in
their place smiles, and all the false brilliancy which rouge can give to
the eyes, proclaimed a determination to be charming.

The dean was silent, and scarcely ate any thing, though the dinner was
excellent, for his lady was skilled in the culinary department, and in
favour of Alfred had made a more hospitable display than she usually
condescended to make for her husband's friends. There were no other
guests, except a young lady, companion to Mrs. Falconer. Alfred was
as agreeable and entertaining as circumstances permitted; and Mrs.
Buckhurst Falconer, as soon as she got out of the dining-room, even
before she reached the drawing-room, pronounced him to be a most polite
and accomplished young man, very different indeed from the _common run_,
or the usual style, of Mr. Dean Falconer's dashing bachelor beaux, who
in her opinion were little better than brute bears.

At coffee, when the gentlemen joined the ladies in the drawing-room,
as Alfred was standing beside Mrs. Falconer, meditating how and when to
speak of the object of his visit, she cleared the ground by choosing the
topic of conversation, which, at last fairly drove her husband out of
the room. She judiciously, maliciously, or accidentally, began to talk
of the proposal which she had heard a near relation of hers had not
long since made to a near relation of Mr. Alfred Percy's--Mr. Clay,
of Clay-hall, her nephew, had proposed for Mr. Alfred's sister, Miss
Caroline Percy. She was really sorry the match was not to take place,
for she had heard a very high character of the young lady in every way,
and her nephew was rich enough to do without fortune--not but what that
would be very acceptable to all men--especially young men, who are now
mostly all for money instead of all for love--except in the case of very
first rate extraordinary beauty, which therefore making a woman a prey,
just as much one as the other, might be deemed a misfortune as great,
though hardly _quite_, Mrs. Buckhurst said, as she had found a great
fortune in her own particular case. The involution of meaning in these
sentences rendering it not easy to be comprehended, the dean stood it
pretty well, only stirring his coffee, and observing that it was cold;
but when his lady went on to a string of interrogatories about Miss
Caroline Percy--on the colour of her eyes and hair--size of her mouth
and nose--requiring in short a complete full-length portrait of the
young lady, poor Buckhurst set down his cup, and pleading business in
his study, left the field open to Alfred.

"Near-sighted glasses! Do you never use them, Mr. Percy?" said Mrs. Dean
Falconer, as she thought Alfred's eyes fixed upon her spectacles, which
lay on the table.

No--he never used them, he thanked her: he was rather far-sighted than
short-sighted. She internally commended his politeness in not taking
them up to verify her assertion, and put them into her pocket to avoid
all future danger.

He saw it was a favourable moment, and entered at once into his
business--beginning by observing that the dean was much out of spirits.
The moment money was touched upon, the curmudgeon look returned upon the
lady; and for some time Alfred had great difficulty in making himself
heard: she poured forth such complaints against the extravagance of the
dean, with lists of the debts she had paid, the sums she had given, and
the vow she had made, never to go beyond the weekly allowance she had,
at the last settlement, agreed to give her husband.

Alfred pleaded strongly the expense of law, and the certainty, in his
opinion, of ultimate defeat, with the being obliged to pay all the
costs, which would fall upon the dean. The dean was willing to withdraw
his claim--he had promised to do so, in the most handsome manner; and
therefore, Alfred said, he felt particularly anxious that he should
not be distressed for five hundred pounds, a sum for which he knew
Mr. Falconer was immediately pressed. He appealed to Mrs. Falconer's
generosity. He had been desired by the dean to speak to her on the
subject, otherwise he should not have presumed--and it was as a
professional man, and a near relation, that he now took the liberty:
this was the first transaction he had ever had with her, and he hoped he
should leave the vicarage impressed with a sense of her generosity, and
enabled to do her justice in the opinion of those who did not know her.

That was very little to her, she bluntly said--she acted only up to her
own notions--she lived only for herself.

"And for her husband." Love, Alfred Percy said, he was assured, was
superior to money in her opinion. "And after all, my dear madam, you
set me the example of frankness, and permit me to speak to you without
reserve. What can you, who have no reason, you say, to be pleased with
either of your nephews, do better with your money, than spend it while
you live and for yourself, in securing happiness in the gratitude
and affection of a husband, who, generous himself, will be peculiarly
touched and attached by generosity?"

The words, _love, generosity, generous_, sounded upon the lady's ear,
and she was unwilling to lose that high opinion which she imagined
Alfred entertained of her sentiments and character. Besides, she was
conscious that he was in fact nearer the truth than all the world
would have believed. Avaricious in trifles, and parsimonious in those
every-day habits which brand the reputation immediately with the fault
of avarice, this woman was one of those misers who can be generous by
fits and starts, and who have been known to _give_ hundreds of pounds,
but never without reluctance would part with a shilling.

She presented the dean, her husband, with an order on her banker for
the money he wanted, and Alfred had the pleasure of leaving his unhappy
friend better, at least, than he found him. He rejoiced in having
compromised this business so successfully, and in thus having prevented
the litigation, ill-will, and disgraceful circumstances, which, without
his interference, must have ensued.

The gratitude of Mrs. Leicester and her niece was delightful. The aunt
urged him to accept what he had been the means of saving, as part of
her niece's fortune; but this he absolutely refused, and satisfied Mrs.
Leicester's delicacy, by explaining, that he could not, if he would, now
yield to her entreaties, as he had actually obtained the money from poor
Buckhurst's generous repentance, upon the express faith that he had no
private interest in the accommodation.

"You would not," said Alfred, "bring me under the act against raising
money upon false pretences?"

What Alfred lost in money he gained in love. His Sophia's eyes beamed
upon him with delight. The day was fixed for their marriage, and at
Alfred's suggestion, Mrs. Leicester consented, painful as it was, in
some respects, to her feelings, that they should be married by the dean
in the parish church.

Alfred brought his bride to town, and as soon as they were established
in their own house, or rather in that house which Mr. Gresham insisted
upon their calling their own, Lady Jane Granville was the first person
to offer her congratulations.--Alfred begged his sister Caroline from
Lady Jane, as he had already obtained his father's and mother's consent.
Lady Jane was really fond of Caroline's company, and had forgiven her,
as well as she could; yet her ladyship had no longer a hope of being _of
use_ to her, and felt that even if any other offer were to occur--and
none such as had been made could ever more be expected--it would lead
only to fresh disappointment and altercation; therefore she, with the
less reluctance, relinquished Caroline altogether.

Caroline's new sister had been, from the time they were first
acquainted, her friend, and she rejoiced in seeing all her hopes for her
brother's happiness accomplished by this marriage. His Sophia had those
habits of independent occupation which are essential to the wife of a
professional man, and which enable her to spend cheerfully many hours
alone, or at least without the company of her husband. On his return
home every evening, he was sure to find a smiling wife, a sympathizing
friend, a cheerful fireside.--She had musical talents--her husband was
fond of music; and she did not lay aside the accomplishments which
had charmed the lover, but made use of them to please him whom she had
chosen as her companion for life. Her voice, her harp, her utmost skill,
were ready at any moment, and she found far more delight in devoting
her talents to him than she had ever felt in exhibiting them to admiring
auditors. This was the domestic use of accomplishments to which
Caroline had always been accustomed; so that joining in her new sister's
occupations and endeavours to make Alfred's evenings pass pleasantly,
she felt at once as much _at home_ as if she had been in the country;
for the mind is its own place, and domestic happiness may be naturalized
in a capital city.

At her brother's house, Caroline had an opportunity of seeing a society
that was new to her, that of the professional men of the first eminence
both in law and medicine, the men of science and of literature, with
whom Alfred and Erasmus had been for years assiduously cultivating
acquaintance. They were now happy to meet at Alfred's house, for they
liked and esteemed him, and they found his wife and sister sensible,
well-informed women, to whom their conversation was of real amusement
and instruction; and who, in return, knew how to enliven their leisure
hours by female sprightliness and elegance. Caroline now saw the
literary and scientific world to the best advantage: not the amateurs,
or the mere _show_ people, but those who, really excelling and feeling
their own superiority, had too much pride and too little time to
waste upon idle flattery, or what to them were stupid, uninteresting
_parties_. Those who refused to go to Lady Spilsbury's, or to Lady
Angelica Headingham's, or who were seen there, perhaps, once or twice in
a season as a great favour and honour, would call three or four evenings
every week at Alfred's.

The first news, the first hints of discoveries, inventions, and literary
projects, she heard from time to time discussed. Those men of talent,
whom she had heard were to be seen at _conversaziones_, or of whom she
had had a glimpse in fine society, now appeared in a new point of view,
and to the best advantage; without those pretensions and rivalships with
which they sometimes are afflicted in public, or those affectations
and singularities, which they often are supposed to assume, to obtain
notoriety among persons inferior to them in intellect and superior in
fashion. Instead of playing, as they sometimes did, a false game to
amuse the multitude, they were obliged now to exert their real skill,
and play fair with one another.

Sir James Harrington tells us, that in his days the courtiers who played
at divers games in public, had a way of exciting the admiration and
amazement of the commoner sort of spectators, by producing heaps of
golden counters, and seeming to stake immense sums, when all the time
they had previously agreed among one another, that each guinea should
stand for a shilling, or each hundred guineas for one: so that in fact
two modes of calculation were used for the initiated and uninitiated;
and this exoteric practice goes on continually to this hour, among
literary performers in the intellectual, as well as among courtiers in
the fashionable world.

Besides the pleasure of studying celebrated characters, and persons
of eminent merit, at their ease and at her own, Caroline had now
opportunities of seeing most of those objects of rational curiosity,
which with Lady Jane Granville had been prohibited as _mauvais ton_.
With men of sense she found it was not _mauvais ton_ to use her eyes for
the purposes of instruction or entertainment.

With Mrs. Alfred Percy she saw every thing in the best manner; in the
company of well-informed guides, who were able to point out what was
essential to be observed; ready to explain and to illustrate; to procure
for them all those privileges and advantages as spectators, which common
gazers are denied, but which liberal and enlightened men are ever not
only ready to allow, but eager to procure for intelligent, unassuming
females.

Among the gentlemen of learning, talents, and eminence in Alfred's own
profession, whom Caroline had the honour of seeing at her brother's,
were Mr. Friend, the _friend_ of his early years at the bar; and that
great luminary, who in a higher orbit had cheered and guided him in his
ascent. The chief justice was in a station, and of an age, where praise
can be conferred without impropriety, and without hurting the feelings
of delicacy or pride. He knew how to praise--a difficult art, but he
excelled in it. As Caroline once, in speaking of him, said, "Common
compliments compared to praise from him, are as common coin compared to
a medal struck and appropriated for the occasion."

About this time Mr. Temple came to tell Alfred, that a ship had been
actually ordered to be in readiness to carry him on his intended
embassy; that Mr. Shaw had recovered; that Cunningham Falconer had
no more excuses or pretences for delay; despatches, the last Lord
Oldborough said he should ever receive from him as envoy, had now
arrived, and Temple was to have set out immediately; but that the whole
embassy bad been delayed, because Lord Oldborough had received a letter
from Count Altenberg, giving an account of alarming revolutionary
symptoms, which had appeared in the capital, and in the provinces, in
the dominions of his sovereign, Lord Oldborough had shown Mr. Temple
what related to public affairs, but had not put the whole letter into
his hands. All that he could judge from what he read was, that the
Count's mind was most seriously occupied with the dangerous state
of public affairs in his country. "I should have thought," added
Mr. Temple, "that the whole of this communication was entirely of a
political nature, but that in the last page which Lord Oldborough put
into my hand, the catch-words at the bottom were _Countess Christina_."

Alfred observed, "that, without the aid of Rosamond's imagination to
supply something more, nothing could be made of this. However, it was a
satisfaction to have had direct news of Count Altenberg."

The next day Mr. Temple came for Alfred. Lord Oldborough desired to see
him.

"Whatever his business may be, I am sure it is important and
interesting," said Mr. Temple; "by this time I ought to be well
acquainted with Lord Oldborough--I know the signs of his suppressed
emotion, and I have seldom seen him put such force upon himself to
appear calm, and to do the business of the day, before he should yield
his mind to what pressed on his secret thoughts."



CHAPTER XXXVII.


When Alfred arrived, Lord Oldborough was engaged with some gentlemen
from the city about a loan. By the length of time which the negotiators
stayed, they tried Alfred's patience; but the minister sat with
immoveable composure, till they knew their own minds, and till they
departed. Then, the loan at once dismissed from his thoughts, he was
ready for Alfred.

"You have married, I think, Mr. Alfred Percy, since I saw you last--I
congratulate you."

His lordship was not in the habit of noticing such common events; Alfred
was surprised and obliged by the interest in his private affairs which
this congratulation denoted.

"I congratulate you, sir, because I understand you have married a woman
of sense. To marry a fool--to form or to have any connexion with a
fool," continued his lordship, his countenance changing remarkably as he
spoke, "I conceive to be the greatest evil, the greatest curse, that can
be inflicted on a man of sense."

He walked across the room with long, firm, indignant strides--then
stopping short, he exclaimed, "_Lettres de cachet_!--Dangerous
instruments in bad hands!--As what are not?--But one good purpose they
answered--they put it in the power of the head of every noble house to
disown, and to deprive of the liberty to disgrace his family, any member
who should manifest the will to commit desperate crime or desperate
folly."

Alfred was by no means disposed to join in praise even of this use of a
_lettre de cachet_, but he did not think it a proper time to argue the
point, as he saw Lord Oldborough was under the influence of some strong
passion. He waited in silence till his lordship should explain himself
farther.

His lordship unlocked a desk, and produced a letter.

"Pray, Mr. Percy--Mr. Alfred Percy--have you heard any thing lately of
the Marchioness of Twickenham?"

"No, my lord."

Alfred, at this instant, recollected the whisper which he had once heard
at chapel, and he added, "Not of late, my lord."

"There," said Lord Oldborough, putting a letter into Alfred's
hands--"there is the sum of what I have heard."

The letter was from the Duke of Greenwich, informing Lord Oldborough
that an unfortunate discovery had been made of _an affair_ between the
Marchioness of Twickenham and a certain Captain Bellamy, which rendered
an immediate separation necessary.

"So!" thought Alfred, "my brother Godfrey had a fine escape of this fair
lady!"

"I have seen her once since I received that letter, and I never will see
her again," said Lord Oldborough: "that's past--all that concerns her
is past and irremediable. Now as to the future, and to what concerns
myself. I have been informed--how truly, I cannot say--that some time
ago a rumour, a suspicion of this intrigue was whispered in what they
call the fashionable world."

"I believe that your lordship has been truly informed," said Alfred; and
he then mentioned the whisper he had heard at the chapel.

"Ha!--Farther, it has been asserted to me, that a hint was given to the
Marquis of Twickenham of the danger of suffering that--what is the
man's name?--Bellamy, to be so near his wife; and that the hint was
disregarded."

"The marquis did very weakly or very wickedly," said Alfred.

"All wickedness is weakness, sir, you know: but to our point. I have
been assured that the actual discovery of the intrigue was made to the
marquis some months previously to the birth of his child--and that he
forbore to take any notice of this, lest it might affect the legitimacy
of that child. After the birth of the infant--a boy--subsequent
indiscretions on the part of the marchioness, the marquis would make
it appear, gave rise to his first suspicions. Now, sir, these are the
points, of which, as my friend, and as a professional man, I desire you
to ascertain the truth. If the facts are as I have thus heard, I presume
no divorce can be legally obtained."

"Certainly not, my lord."

"Then I will direct you instantly to the proper channels for
information."

Whilst Lord Oldborough wrote directions, Alfred assured him he would
fulfil his commission with all the discretion and celerity in his power.

"The next step," continued Lord Oldborough--"for, on such a subject, I
wish to say all that is necessary at once, that it may be banished from
my mind--your next step, supposing the facts to be ascertained, is to go
with this letter--my answer to the Duke of Greenwich. See him--and see
the marquis. In matters of consequence have nothing to do with secondary
people--deal with the principals. Show in the first place, as a lawyer,
that their divorce is unattainable--next, show the marquis that he
destroys his son and heir by attempting it. The duke, I believe, would
be glad of a pretext for dissolving the political connexion between me
and the Greenwich family. He fears me, and he fears the world: he dares
not abandon me without a pretence for the dissolution of friendship. He
is a weak man, and never dares to act without a pretext; but show him
that a divorce is not necessary for his purpose--a separation will do
as well--Or without it, I am ready to break with him at council, in
the House of Lords, on a hundred political points; and let him shield
himself as he may from the reproach of desertion, by leaving the blame
of quarrel on my impracticability, or on what he will, I care not--so
that my family be saved from the ignominy of divorce."

As he sealed his letter, Lord Oldborough went on in abrupt sentences.

"I never counted on a weak man's friendship--I can do without his
grace--Woman! Woman! The same--ever since the beginning of the world!"

Then turning to Alfred to deliver the letter into his hand, "Your
brother, Major Percy, sir--I think I recollect--He was better in the
West Indies."

"I was just thinking so, my lord," said Alfred.

"Yes--better encounter the plague than a fool."

Lord Oldborough had never before distinctly adverted to his knowledge of
his niece's partiality for Godfrey, but his lordship now added, "Major
Percy's honourable conduct is not unknown: I trust honourable conduct
never was, and never will be, lost upon me.--This to the Duke of
Greenwich--and this to the marquis.--Since it was to be, I rejoice
that this Captain Bellamy is the gallant.--Had it been your brother,
sir--could there have been any love in the case--not, observe, that I
believe in love, much less am I subject to the weakness of remorse--but
a twinge might have seized my mind--I might possibly have been told that
the marchioness was married against her inclination.--But I am at ease
on that point--my judgment of her was right.--You will let me know,
in one word, the result of your negotiation without entering into
particulars--divorce, or no divorce, is all I wish to hear."

Alfred did not know all the circumstances of the Marchioness of
Twickenham's marriage, nor the peremptory manner in which it had been
insisted upon by her uncle, otherwise he would have felt still greater
surprise than that which he now felt, at the stern, unbending character
of the man. Possessed as Lord Oldborough was by the opinion, that he
had at the time judged and acted in the best manner possible, no
after-events could make him doubt the justice of his own decision, or
could at all shake him in his own estimation.

Alfred soon brought his report. "In one word--no divorce, my lord."

"That's well--I thank you, sir."

His lordship made no farther inquiries--not even whether there was to be
a _separation_.

Alfred was commissioned by the Duke of Greenwich to deliver a message,
which, like the messages of the gods in Homer, he delivered verbatim,
and without comment: "His grace of Greenwich trusts Lord Oldborough
will believe, that, notwithstanding the unfortunate circumstances,
which dissolved in some degree the family connexion, it was the
farthest possible from his grace's wish or thoughts to break with Lord
Oldborough, as long as private feelings, and public principles, could be
rendered by any means compatible."

Lord Oldborough smiled in scorn--and Alfred could scarcely command his
countenance.

Lord Oldborough prepared to give his grace the opportunity, which
he knew he desired, of differing with him on principle: his lordship
thought his favour and power were now sufficiently established to be
able to do without the Duke of Greenwich, and his pride prompted him to
show this to his grace and to the world. He carried it with a high hand
for a short time; but even whilst he felt most secure, and when
all seemed to bend and bow before his genius and his sway, many
circumstances and many persons were combining to work the downfall of
his power.

One of the first slight circumstances which shook his favour, was a
speech he had made to some gentleman, about the presentation of the
deanery to Buckhurst Falconer. It had been supposed by many, who knew
the court which Commissioner Falconer paid to Lord Oldborough, that it
was through his lordship's interest, that this preferment was given to
the son; but when some person, taking this for granted, spoke of it to
his lordship, he indignantly disclaimed all part in the transaction, and
it is said that he added, "Sir, I know what is due to private regard
as a man--and as a minister what must be yielded to parliamentary
influence; but I never could have advised the bestowing ecclesiastical
benefice and dignity upon any one whose conduct was not his first
recommendation."

This speech, made in a moment of proud and perhaps unguarded
indignation, was repeated with additions, suppressions, variations, and
comments. Any thing will at court serve the purpose of those who wish to
injure, and it is inconceivable what mischief was done to the minister
by this slight circumstance. In the first place, the nobleman high
in office, and the family connexions of the nobleman who had made the
exchange of livings, and given the promise of the deanery to Bishop
Clay, were offended beyond redemption--because they were in the wrong.
Then, all who had done, or wished to do wrong, in similar instances,
were displeased by reflection or by anticipation. But Lord Oldborough
chiefly was injured by misrepresentation in the quarter where it was of
most consequence to him to preserve his influence. It was construed
by the highest authority into disrespect, and an imperious desire to
encroach on favour, to control prerogative, and to subdue the mind of
his sovereign. Insidious arts had long been secretly employed to infuse
these ideas; and when once the jealousy of power was excited, every
trifle confirmed the suspicion which Lord Oldborough's uncourtier-like
character was little calculated to dispel. His popularity now
gave umbrage, and it was hinted that he wished to make himself the
_independent_ minister of the people.

The affairs of the country prospered, however, under his administration;
there was trouble, there was hazard in change. It was argued, that it
was best to wait at least for some reverse of fortune in war, or some
symptom of domestic discontent, before an attempt should be made to
displace this minister, formidable by his talents, and by the awe his
commanding character inspired.

The habit of confidence and deference for his genius and integrity
remained, and to him no difference for some time appeared, in
consequence of the secret decay of favour.

Commissioner Falconer, timid, anxious, restless, was disposed by
circumstances and by nature, or by second nature, to the vigilance of a
dependent's life; accustomed to watch and consult daily the barometer
of court favour, he soon felt the coming storm; and the moment he saw
prognostics of the change, he trembled, and considered how he should
best provide for his own safety before the hour of danger arrived.
Numerous libels against the minister appeared, which Lord Oldborough
never read, but the commissioner, with his best spectacles, read them
all; for he well knew and believed what the sage Selden saith, that
"though some make slight of libels, yet you may see by them how the wind
sets."

After determining by the throwing up of these straws which way the wind
set, the commissioner began with all possible skill and dexterity to
trim his boat. But dexterous trimmer though he was, and "prescient of
change," he did yet not foresee from what quarter the storm would come.

Count Altenberg's letters had unveiled completely the envoy Cunningham
Falconer's treachery, as far as it related to his intrigues abroad, and
other friends detected some of his manoeuvres with politicians at home,
to whom he had endeavoured to pay court, by betraying confidence reposed
in him respecting the Tourville papers. Much of the mischief Cunningham
had done this great minister still operated, unknown to his unsuspicious
mind: but sufficient was revealed to determine Lord Oldborough to
dismiss him from all future hopes of his favour.

"Mr. Commissioner Falconer," he began one morning, the moment the
commissioner entered his cabinet, "Mr. Commissioner Falconer," in a tone
which instantly dispelled the smile at entrance from the commissioner's
countenance, and in the same moment changed his whole configurature.
"My confidence is withdrawn from your son, Mr. Cunningham Falconer--for
ever--and not without good reason--as you may--if you are not aware of
it already--see, by those papers."

Lord Oldborough turned away, and asked his secretaries for his red box,
as he was going to council.

Just as he left his cabinet, he looked back, and said, "Mr. Falconer,
you should know, if you be not already apprised of it, that your son
Cunningham is on his road to Denmark. You should be aware that the
journey is not made by my desire, or by his majesty's order, or by
any official authority; consequently he is travelling to the court of
Denmark at his own expense or yours--unless he can prevail upon his
Grace of Greenwich to defray his ambassadorial travelling charges, or
can afford to wait for them till a total change of administration--of
which, sir, if I see any symptoms to-day in council," added his
lordship, in the tone of bitter irony; "I will give you fair notice--for
fair dealing is what I practise."

This said, the minister left the commissioner to digest his speech as he
might, and repaired to council, where he found every thing apparently
as smooth as usual, and where he was received by all, especially by the
highest, with perfect consideration.

Meantime Commissioner Falconer was wretched beyond expression--wretched
in the certainty that his son, that he himself, had probably lost,
irrecoverably, one excellent patron, before they had secured, even
in case of change, another. This premature discovery of Cunningham's
intrigues totally disconcerted and overwhelmed him; and, in the
bitterness of his heart, he cursed the duplicity which he had taught
and encouraged, still more by example, than by precept. But Cunningham's
duplicity had more and closer folds than his own. Cunningham, conceited
of his diplomatic genius, and fearful of the cautious timidity of his
father, did not trust that father with the knowledge of all he did,
or half of what he intended; so that the commissioner, who had thought
himself at the bottom of every thing, now found that he, too, had been
cheated by his son with false confidences; and was involved by him in
the consequences of a scheme, of which he had never been the adviser.
Commissioner Falconer knew too well, by the experience of Cumberland
and others, the fate of those who suffer themselves to be lured on
by second-hand promises; and who venture, without being publicly
acknowledged by their employers, to undertake any diplomatic mission.
Nor would Cunningham, whose natural disposition to distrust was greater
than his father's, have sold himself to any political tempter, without
first signing and sealing the compact, had he been in possession of
his cool judgment, and had he been in any other than the desperate
circumstances in which he was placed. His secret conscience whispered
that his recall was in consequence of the detection of some of his
intrigues, and he dreaded to appear before the haughty, irritated
minister. Deceived also by news from England that Lord Oldborough's
dismission or resignation could not be distant, Cunningham had ventured
upon this bold stroke for an embassy.

On Lord Oldborough's return from council, the commissioner, finding,
from his secret informants, that every thing had gone on smoothly, and
being over-awed by the confident security of the minister, began to
doubt his former belief; and, in spite of all the symptoms of change,
was now inclined to think that none would take place. The sorrow and
contrition with which he next appeared before Lord Oldborough were,
therefore, truly sincere; and when he found himself alone once more with
his lordship, earnest was the vehemence with which he disclaimed his
unworthy son, and disavowed all knowledge of the transaction.

"If I had seen cause to believe that you had any part in this
transaction, sir, you would not be here at this moment: therefore
your protestations are superfluous--none would be accepted if any were
necessary."

The very circumstance of the son's not having trusted the father
completely, saved the commissioner, for this time, from utter ruin: he
took breath; and presently--oh, weak man! doomed never to know how to
deal with a strong character--fancying that his intercession might avail
for his son, and that the pride of Lord Oldborough might be appeased,
and might be suddenly wrought to forgiveness, by that tone and posture
of submission and supplication used only by the subject to offended
majesty, he actually threw himself at the feet of the minister.

"My gracious lord--a pardon for my son!"

"I beseech you, sir!" cried Lord Oldborough, endeavouring to stop him
from kneeling--the commissioner sunk instantly on his knee.

"Never will the unhappy father rise till his son be restored to your
favour, my lord."

"Sir," said Lord Oldborough, "I have no favour for those who have no
sense of honour: rise, Mr. Falconer, and let not the father degrade
himself for the son--_unavailingly_."

The accent and look were decisive--the commissioner rose. Instead of
being gratified, his patron seemed shocked, if not disgusted: far from
being propitiated by this sacrifice of dignity, it rendered him still
more averse; and no consolatory omen appearing, the commissioner
withdrew in silence, repenting that he had abased himself. After
this, some days and nights passed with him in all the horrors of
indecision--Could the minister weather the storm or not?--should Mr.
Falconer endeavour to reinstate himself with Lord Oldborough, or secure
in time favour with the Duke of Greenwich?--Mrs. Falconer, to whom
her husband's groans in the middle of the night at last betrayed the
sufferings of his mind, drew from him the secret of his fears and
meditations. She advised strongly the going over, decidedly, and in
time, but secretly, to the Greenwich faction.

The commissioner knew that this could not be done secretly. The
attention of the minister was now awake to all his motions, and the
smallest movement towards his grace of Greenwich must be observed and
understood. On the other hand, to abide by a falling minister was folly,
especially when he had positively withdrawn his favour from Cunningham,
who had the most to expect from his patronage. Between these opposite
difficulties, notwithstanding the urgent excitations of Mrs. Falconer,
the poor commissioner could not bring himself to decide, till the time
for action was past.

Another blow came upon him for which he was wholly unprepared--there
arrived from abroad accounts of the failure of a secret expedition; and
the general in his despatches named Colonel John Falconer as the officer
to whose neglect of orders he principally attributed the disappointment.
It appeared that orders had been sent to have his regiment at a certain
place at a given hour. At the moment these orders came, Colonel John
Falconer was out on a shooting party without leave. The troops, of
course, on which the general had relied, did not arrive in time, and
all his other combinations failed from this neglect of discipline and
disobedience of orders. Colonel Falconer was sent home to be tried by a
court-martial.

"I pity you, sir," said Lord Oldborough, as Commissioner Falconer, white
as ashes, read in his presence these despatches--"I pity you, sir, from
my soul: here is no fault of yours--the fault is mine."

It was one of the few faults of this nature which Lord Oldborough had
ever committed. Except in the instance of the Falconer family, none
could name any whom his lordship had placed in situations, for which
they were inadequate or unfit. Of this single error he had not foreseen
the consequences; they were more important, more injurious to him and to
the public, than he could have calculated or conceived. It appeared now
as if the Falconer family were doomed to be his ruin. That the public
knew, in general, that John Falconer had been promoted by ministerial
favour, Lord Oldborough was aware; but he imagined that the peculiar
circumstances of that affair were known only to himself and to
Commissioner Falconer's family. To his astonishment he found, at this
critical moment, that the whole transaction had reached the ear of
majesty, and that it was soon publicly known. The commissioner, with
protestations and oaths, declared that the secret had never, by his
means, transpired--it had been divulged by the baseness of his son
Cunningham, who betrayed it to the Greenwich faction. They, skilled in
all the arts of undermining a rival, employed the means that were thus
put into their power with great diligence and effect.

It was observed at the levee, that the sovereign looked coldly upon
the minister. Every courtier whispered that Lord Oldborough had been
certainly much to blame. Disdainful of their opinions, Lord Oldborough
was sensibly affected by the altered eye of his sovereign.

"What! After all my services!--At the first change of fortune!"

This sentiment swelled in his breast; but his countenance was rigidly
calm, his demeanour towards the courtiers and towards his colleagues
more than usually firm, if not haughty.

After the levee, he demanded a private audience.

Alone with the king, the habitual influence of this great minister's
superior genius operated. The cold manner was changed, or rather, it was
changed involuntarily. From one "not used to the language of apology,"
the frank avowal of a fault has a striking effect. Lord Oldborough
took upon himself the whole blame of the disaster that had ensued, in
consequence of his error, an error frequent in other ministers, in him,
almost unprecedented.

He was answered with a smile of royal raillery, that the peculiar family
circumstances which had determined his lordship so rapidly to promote
that officer, must, to all fathers of families and heads of houses, if
not to statesmen and generals, be a sufficient and home apology.

Considering the peculiar talent which his sovereign possessed, and in
which he gloried, that of knowing the connexions and domestic affairs,
not only of the nobility near his person, but of private individuals
remote from his court, Lord Oldborough had little cause to be surprised
that this secret transaction should be known to his majesty. Something
of this his lordship, with all due respect, hinted in reply. At the
termination of this audience, he was soothed by the condescending
assurance, that whilst the circumstances of the late unfortunate reverse
naturally created regret and mortification, no dissatisfaction with his
ministerial conduct mixed with these feelings; on the contrary, he was
assured that fear of the effect a disappointment might have on the mind
of the public, in diminishing confidence in his lordship's efforts for
the good of the country, was the sentiment which had lowered the spirits
and clouded the brow of majesty.

His lordship returned thanks for the gracious demonstration of these
sentiments--and, bowing respectfully, withdrew. In the faces and
behaviour of the courtiers, as in a glass, he saw reflected the truth.
They all pretended to be in the utmost consternation; and he heard
of nothing but "apprehensions for the effect on the public mind," and
"fears for his lordship's popularity." His secretary, Mr. Temple, heard,
indeed, more of this than could reach his lordship's ear directly; for,
even now, when they thought they foresaw his fall, few had sufficient
courage to hazard the tone of condolence with Lord Oldborough, or to
expose the face of hypocrisy to the severity of his penetrating eye.
In secret, every means had been taken to propagate in the city, the
knowledge of all the circumstances that were unfavourable to the
minister, and to increase the dissatisfaction which any check in the
success of our armies naturally produces. The tide of popularity, which
had hitherto supported the minister, suddenly ebbed; and he fell,
in public opinion, with astonishing rapidity. For the moment all was
forgotten, but that he was the person who had promoted John Falconer to
be a colonel, against whom the cry of the populace was raised with all
the clamour of national indignation. The Greenwich faction knew how to
take advantage of this disposition. It happened to be some festival,
some holiday, when the common people, having nothing to do, are more
disposed than at any other time to intoxication and disorder. The
emissaries of designing partisans mixed with the populace, and a mob
gathered round the minister's carriage, as he was returning home late
one day--the same carriage, and the same man, whom, but a few short
weeks before, this populace had drawn with loud huzzas, and almost with
tears of affection. Unmoved of mind, as he had been when he heard their
huzzas, Lord Oldborough now listened to their execrations, till from
abuse they began to proceed to outrage. Stones were thrown at his
carriage. One of his servants narrowly escaped being struck. Lord
Oldborough was alone--he threw open his carriage-door, and sprang out on
the step.

"Whose life is it you seek?" cried he, in a voice which obtained instant
silence. "Lord Oldborough's? Lord Oldborough stands before you. Take his
life who dares--a life spent in your service. Strike! but strike openly.
You are Englishmen, not assassins."

Then, turning to his servants, he added, in a calm voice, "Home--slowly.
Not a man here will touch you. Keep your master in sight. If I fall,
mark by what hand."

Then stepping down into the midst of the people, he crossed the street
to the flagged pathway, the crowd opening to make way for him. He walked
on with a deliberate firm step; the mob moving along with him, sometimes
huzzaing, sometimes uttering horrid execrations in horrid tones. Lord
Oldborough, preserving absolute silence, still walked on, never turned
his head, or quickened his pace, till he reached his own house. Then,
facing the mob, as he stood waiting till the door should be opened, the
people, struck with his intrepidity, with one accord joined in a shout
of applause.

The next instant, and before the door was opened, they cried, "Hat
off!--Hat off!"

Lord Oldborough's hat never stirred. A man took up a stone.

"Mark that man!" cried Lord Oldborough.

The door opened. "Return to your homes, my countrymen, and bless God
that you have not any of you to answer this night for murder!"

Then entering his house, he took off his hat, and gave it to one of
his attendants. His secretary, Temple, had run down stairs to meet him,
inquiring what was the cause of the disturbance.

"Only," said Lord Oldborough, "that I have served the people, but never
bent to them."

"Curse them! they are not worth serving. Oh! I thought they'd have taken
my lord's life that minute," cried his faithful servant Rodney. "The
sight left my eyes. I thought he was gone for ever. Thank God! he's
safe. Take off my lord's coat--I can't--for the soul of me. Curse those
ungrateful people!"

"Do not curse them, my good Rodney," said Lord Oldborough, smiling.
"Poor people, they are not ungrateful, only mistaken. Those who mislead
them are to blame. The English are a fine people. Even an English mob,
you see, is generous, and just, as far as it knows."

Lord Oldborough was sound asleep this night, before any other individual
in the house had finished talking of the dangers he had escaped.

The civil and military courage shown by the minister in the sudden
attack upon his character and person were such as to raise him again at
once to his former height in public esteem. His enemies were obliged
to affect admiration. The Greenwich party, foiled in this attempt,
now disavowed it. News of a victory effaced the memory of the late
disappointment. Stocks rose--addresses for a change of ministry
were quashed--addresses of thanks and congratulation poured in--Lord
Oldborough gave them to Mr. Temple to answer, and kept the strength of
his attention fixed upon the great objects which were essential to the
nation and the sovereign he served.

Mr. Falconer saw that the storm had blown over, the darkness was
past--Lord Oldborough, firm and superior, stood bright in power, and
before him the commissioner bent more obsequious, more anxious than
ever. Anxious he might well be--unhappy father! the life, perhaps,
of one of his sons, his honour, certainly, at stake--the fortune of
another--his existence ruined! And what hopes of propitiating him,
who had so suffered by the favour he had already shown, who had
been betrayed by one of the family and disgraced by another. The
commissioner's only hope was in the recollection of the words, "I pity
you from my soul, sir," which burst from Lord Oldborough even at the
moment when he had most reason to be enraged against Colonel Falconer.
Following up this idea, and working on the generous compassion, of
which, but for this indication, he should not have supposed the stern
Lord Oldborough to be susceptible, the commissioner appeared before
him every day the image of a broken-hearted father. In silence Lord
Oldborough from time to time looked at him; and by these looks, more
than by all the promises of all the great men who had ever spoken to
him, Mr. Falconer was reassured; and, as he told Mrs. Falconer, who at
this time was in dreadful anxiety, he felt certain that Lord Oldborough
would not punish him for the faults of his sons--he was satisfied that
his place and his pension would not be taken from him--and that, at
least in fortune, they should not be utterly ruined. In this security
the commissioner showed rather more than his customary degree of
strength of mind, and more knowledge of Lord Oldborough's character than
he had upon most other occasions evinced.

Things were in this state, when, one morning, after the minister had
given orders that no one should be admitted, as he was dictating some
public papers of consequence to Mr. Temple, the Duke of Greenwich was
announced. His grace sent in a note to signify that he waited upon Lord
Oldborough by order of his majesty; and that, if this hour were not
convenient, he begged to have the hour named at which his grace could be
admitted. His grace was admitted instantly. Mr. Temple retired--for it
was evident this was to be a secret conference. His grace of Greenwich
entered with the most important solemnity--infinitely more ceremonious
than usual; he was at last seated, and, after heavy and audible sighs,
still hesitated to open his business. Through the affected gloom and
dejection of his countenance Lord Oldborough saw a malicious pleasure
lurking, whilst, in a studied exordium, he spoke of the infinite
reluctance with which he had been compelled, by his majesty's express
orders, to wait upon his lordship on a business the most painful to his
feelings. As being a public colleague--as a near and dear connexion--as
a friend in long habits of intimacy with his lordship, he had prayed his
majesty to be excused; but it was his majesty's pleasure: he had only
now to beg his lordship to believe that it was with infinite concern,
&c. Lord Oldborough, though suffering under this circumlocution, never
condescended to show any symptom of impatience; but allowing his grace
to run the changes on the words and forms of apology, when these were
exhausted, his lordship simply said, that "his majesty's pleasure of
course precluded all necessity for apology."

His grace was vexed to find Lord Oldborough still unmoved--he was sure
this tranquillity could not long endure: he continued, "A sad business,
my lord--a terrible discovery--I really can hardly bring myself to
speak--"

Lord Oldborough gave his grace no assistance.

"My private regard," he repeated.

A smile of contempt on Lord Oldborough's countenance.

"Your lordship's hitherto invulnerable public integrity--"

A glance of indignation from Lord Oldborough.

"_Hitherto_ invulnerable!--your grace will explain."

"Let these--these fatal notes--letters--unfortunately got into the hands
of a leading, impracticable member of opposition, and by him laid--Would
that I had been apprised, or could have conceived it possible, time
enough to prevent that step; but it was done before I had the slightest
intimation--laid before his majesty--"

Lord Oldborough calmly received the letters from his grace.

"My own handwriting, and private seal, I perceive."

The duke sighed--and whilst Lord Oldborough drew out, opened, and read
the first letter in the parcel, his grace went on--"This affair has
thrown us all into the greatest consternation. It is to be brought
before parliament immediately--unless a resignation should take
place--which we should all deplore. The impudence, the inveteracy of
that fellow, is astonishing--no silencing him. We might hush up the
affair if his majesty had not been apprised; but where the interest of
the service is concerned, his majesty is warm."

"His majesty!" cried Lord Oldborough: "His majesty could not, I trust,
for a moment imagine these letters to be I mine?"

"But for the hand and seal which I understood your lordship to
acknowledge, I am persuaded his majesty could not have believed it."

"Believed! My king! did he believe it?" cried Lord Oldborough. His
agitation was for a moment excessive, uncontrollable. "No! that I
will never credit, till I have it from his own lips." Then commanding
himself, "Your grace will have the goodness to leave these letters with
me till to-morrow."

His grace, with infinite politeness and regret, was under the necessity
of refusing this request. His orders were only to show the letters to
his lordship, and then to restore them to the hands of the member of
opposition who had laid them before his majesty.

Lord Oldborough took off the cover of one of the letters, on which was
merely the address and seal. The address was written also at the bottom
of the letter enclosed, therefore the cover could not be of the least
importance. The duke could not, Lord Oldborough said, refuse to leave
this with him.

To this his grace agreed--protesting that he was far from wishing to
make difficulties. If there were any thing else he could do--any thing
his lordship would wish to have privately insinuated or publicly said--

His lordship, with proud thanks, assured the duke he did not wish to
have any thing privately insinuated; and whatever it was necessary to
say or do publicly, he should do himself, or give orders to have done.
His lordship entered into no farther explanation. The duke at last
was obliged to take his leave, earnestly hoping and trusting that this
business would terminate to his lordship's entire satisfaction.

No sooner was the duke gone than Lord Oldborough rang for his carriage.

"Immediately--and Mr. Temple, instantly."

Whilst his carriage was coming to the door, in the shortest manner
possible Lord Oldborough stated the facts to his secretary, that letters
had been forged in his lordship's name, promising to certain persons
promotion in the army--and navy--gratification--and pensions. Some were
addressed to persons who had actually obtained promotion, shortly after
the time of these letters; others contained reproaches for having been
ill-used. Even from the rapid glance Lord Oldborough had taken of these
papers, he had retained the names of several of the persons to whom
they were addressed--and the nature of the promotion obtained. They
were persons who could have had no claim upon an honest minister. His
lordship left a list of them with Mr. Temple--also the cover of the
letter, on which was a specimen of the forged writing and the private
seal.

"I am going to the king. In my absence, Mr. Temple, think for me--I know
you feel for me. The object is to discover the authors of this forgery."

"My lord, may I consult with Mr. Alfred Percy?"

"Yes--with no other person."

It was not Lord Oldborough's day for doing business with the king.
He was late--the king was going out to ride. His majesty received
the minister as usual; but notwithstanding the condescension of
his majesty's words and manner, it was evident to Lord Oldborough's
penetration, that there was a coldness and formality in the king's
countenance.

"I beg I may not detain your majesty--I see I am late," said Lord
Oldborough.

"Is the business urgent, my lord?"

"No, sir; for it concerns principally myself: it can, therefore, wait
your majesty's leisure at any hour your majesty may appoint."

The king dismounted instantly.

"This moment, my lord, I am at leisure for any business that concerns
your lordship."

The king returned to the palace--Lord Oldborough followed, and all the
spectators on foot and horseback were left full of curiosity.

Notwithstanding the condescension of his majesty's words and manner,
and the polite promptitude to attend to any business that concerned his
lordship, it was evident to Lord Oldborough's penetration that there
was an unusual coldness and formality in the king's countenance and
deportment, unlike the graciousness of his reception when satisfied and
pleased. As soon as the business of the day had been gone through, Lord
Oldborough said he must now beg his majesty's attention on a subject
which principally concerned himself. The king looked as one prepared to
hear, but determined to say as little as possible.

Lord Oldborough placed himself so as to give the king the advantage of
the light, which he did not fear to have full on his own countenance.

"Sir, certain letters, signed with my name, and sealed with my seal,
have, I am informed, been laid before your majesty."

"Your lordship has been rightly informed."

"I trust--I hope that your majesty--"

At the firm assertion, in the tone with which Lord Oldborough
pronounced, I _trust_--his majesty's eye changed--and moved away from
Lord Oldborough's, when he, with respectful interrogation of tone,
added, "I _hope_ your majesty could not believe those letters to be
mine."

"Frankly, my lord," said the king, "the assertions, the insinuations of
no man, or set of men, of any rank or weight in my dominions, could by
any imaginable means have induced me to conceive it possible that such
letters had been written by your lordship. Not for one moment could
my belief have been compelled by any evidence less strong than your
lordship's handwriting and seal. I own, I thought I knew your lordship's
seal and writing; but I now see that I have been deceived, and I rejoice
to see it."

"I thank your majesty. I cannot feel surprise that a forgery and a
counterfeit which, at first view, compelled my own belief of their being
genuine, should, for a moment, have deceived you, sir; but, I own, I
had flattered myself that my sovereign knew my heart and character, yet
better than my seal and signature."

"Undoubtedly, my lord."

"And I should have hoped that, if your majesty had perused those
letters, no assertions could have been necessary, on my part, to
convince you, sir, that they could not be mine. I have now only to
rejoice that your majesty is undeceived; and that I have not intruded
unnecessarily with this explanation. I am fully sensible, sir, of your
goodness, in having thus permitted me to make, as early as possible,
this assertion of my innocence. For the proofs of it, and for the
detection of the guilty, I am preparing; and I hope to make these as
clear to you, sir, as your majesty's assurance of the pleasure you feel
in being undeceived is satisfactory--consolatory to me," concluded Lord
Oldborough, with a bow of profound yet proud respect.

"My lord," said the king, "I have no doubt that this affair will redound
to your honour, and _terminate to your lordship's entire satisfaction_."

The very phrase used by the Duke of Greenwich.

"As to myself, your lordship can have no farther anxiety; but I wish
your lordship's endeavours to detect and bring proofs home to the guilty
may be promptly successful--for the gratification of your own feelings,
and the satisfaction of the public mind, before the matter should be
brought forward in parliament."

His majesty bowed, and as Lord Oldborough retired, he added some
gracious phrases, expressive of the high esteem he felt for the
minister, and the interest he had always, and should always take,
in whatever could contribute to his public and
private--_satisfaction_--(again).

To an eye and ear less practised in courts than this minister's,
all that had been said would have been really satisfactory: but Lord
Oldborough discerned a secret embarrassment in the smile, a constraint
in the manner, a care, an effort to be gracious in the language, a
caution, a rounding of the periods, a recurrence to technical phrases of
compliment and amity, a want of the free fluent language of the heart;
language which, as it flows, whether from sovereign or subject, leaves
a trace that the art of courtier or of monarch cannot imitate. In all
attempts at such imitation, there is a want, of which vanity and even
interest is not always sensible, but which feeling perceives instantly.
Lord Oldborough felt it--and twice, during this audience, he was on the
point of offering his resignation, and twice, exerting strong power over
himself, he refrained.

He saw plainly that he was not where he had been in the king's
confidence; that his enemies had been at work, and, in some measure, had
succeeded; that suspicions had been infused into the king's mind. That
his king had doubted him, his majesty had confessed--and Lord Oldborough
discerned that there was no genuine joy at the moment his majesty
was undeceived, no real anxiety for his honour, only the ostensible
manifestation suitable to the occasion--repeatable--or recordable.

Still there was nothing of which he could complain; every expression,
if written down or repeated, must have appeared proper and gracious from
the sovereign to his minister; and for that minister to resign at such
a moment, from pride or pique, would have been fatal to the dignity,
perhaps to the integrity, of his character.

Lord Oldborough reasoned thus as he stood in the presence of the king,
and compelled himself, during the whole audience, and to the last
parting moment, to preserve an air and tone of calm, respectful
self-possession.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.


During Lord Oldborough's absence, his faithful secretary had been active
in his service. Mr. Temple went immediately to his friend Alfred Percy.
Alfred had just returned fatigued from the courts, and was resting
himself, in conversation with his wife and Caroline.

"I am sorry to disturb you, Alfred," said Mr. Temple, "but I must take
you away from these ladies to consult you on particular business."

"Oh! let the particular business wait till he has rested himself," said
Mrs. Percy, "unless it be a matter of life and death."

"Life and death!" cried Lady Frances Arlington, running in at the open
door--"Yes, it is a matter of life and death!--Stay, Mr. Temple! Mr.
Percy! going the moment I come into the room--Impossible!"

"Impossible it would be," said Mr. Temple, "in any other case; but--"

  "'When a lady's in the case,
    You know all other things give place,'"

cried Lady Frances. "So, positively, gentlemen, I stop the way. But,
Mr. Temple, to comfort you--for I never saw a man, gallant or ungallant,
look so impatient--I shall not be able to stay above a moment--Thank
you, Mrs. Percy, I can't sit down--Mrs. Crabstock, the crossest of
Crabstocks and stiffest of pattern-women, is in the carriage waiting for
me. Give me joy--I have accomplished my purpose, and without Lady Jane
Granville's assistance--obtained a permit to go with Lady Trant,
and made her take me to Lady Angelica's last night. Grand
conversazione!--Saw the German baron! Caught both the profiles--have 'em
here--defy you not to smile. Look," cried her ladyship, drawing out of
her _reticule_ a caricature, which she put into Caroline's hand; and,
whilst she was looking at it, Lady Frances went on speaking rapidly.
"Only a sketch, a scrawl in pencil, while they thought I was copying
a Sonnet to Wisdom--on the worst bit of paper, too, in the world--old
cover of a letter I stole from Lady Trant's _reticule_ while she was
at cards. Mr. Temple, you shall see my _chef-d'oeuvre_ by and by; don't
look at the reverse of the medal, pray. Did not I tell you, you were the
most impatient man in the world?"

It was true that Mr. Temple was at this instant most impatient to get
possession of the paper, for on the back of that cover of the letter,
on which the caricature was drawn, the hand-writing of the direction
appeared to him--He dared scarcely believe his eyes--his hopes.

"Mrs. Crabstock, my lady," said the footman, "is waiting."

"I know, sir," said Lady Frances: "so, Caroline, you won't see the
likeness. Very well; if I can't get a compliment, I must be off. When
you draw a caricature, I won't praise it. Here! Mr. Temple, one look,
since you are dying for it."

"One look will not satisfy me," cried Mr. Temple, seizing the paper:
"your ladyship must leave the drawing with us till to-morrow."

"_Us--must_. Given at our court of St. James's. Lord Oldborough's own
imperative style."

"Imperative! no; humbly I beseech your ladyship, thus humbly," cried Mr.
Temple, kneeling in jest, but keeping in earnest fast hold of the paper.

"But why--why? Are you acquainted with Lady Angelica? I did not know you
knew her."

"It is excellent!--It is admirable!--I cannot let it go. This hand that
seized it long shall hold the prize."

"The man's mad! But don't think I'll give it to you--I would not give
it to my mother: but I'll lend it to you, if you'll tell me honestly why
you want it."

"Honestly--I want to show it to a particular friend, who will be
delighted with it."

"Tell me who, this minute, or you shall not have it."

"Mrs. Crabstock, my lady, bids me say, the duchess--"

"The duchess--the deuce!--if she's come to the duchess, I must go.
I hope your man, Mrs. Percy, won't tell Mrs. Crabstock he saw this
gentleman kneeling."

"Mrs. Crabstock's getting out, my lady," said the footman, returning.

"Mr. Temple, for mercy's sake, get up."

"Never, till your ladyship gives the drawing."

"There! there! let me go--audacious!"

"Good morning to you, Mrs. Percy--Good bye, Caroline--Be at Lady Jane's
to-night, for I'm to be there."

Her ladyship ran off, and met Mrs. Crabstock on the stairs, with whom we
leave her to make her peace as she pleases.

"My dear Temple, I believe you are out of your senses," said Alfred:
"I never saw any man so importunate about a drawing that is not worth
a straw--trembling with eagerness, and kneeling!--Caroline, what do you
think Rosamond would have thought of all this?"

"If she knew the whole, she would have thought I acted admirably," said
Mr. Temple. "But come, I have business."

Alfred took him into his study, and there the whole affair was
explained. Mr. Temple had brought with him the specimen of the forgery
to show to Alfred, and, upon comparing it with the handwriting on the
cover of the letter on which the caricature was drawn, the similarity
appeared to be strikingly exact. The cover, which had been stolen, as
Lady Frances Arlington said, from Lady Trant's _reticule_, was directed
to Captain Nuttall. He was one of the persons to whom forged letters
had been written, as appeared by the list which Lord Oldborough had left
with Mr. Temple. The secretary was almost certain that his lordship
had never written with his own hand to any Captain Nuttall; but this he
could ask the moment he should see Lord Oldborough again. It seemed as
if this paper had never been actually used as the cover of a letter,
for it had no post-mark, seal, or wafer. Upon farther inspection, it was
perceived that a _t_ had been left out in the name of _Nuttall_; and it
appeared probable that the cover had been thrown aside, and a new one
written, in consequence of this omission. But Alfred did not think it
possible that Lady Trant could be the forger of these letters, because
he had seen some of her ladyship's notes of invitation to Caroline, and
they were written in a wretched cramped hand.

"But that cramped hand might be feigned to conceal the powers of
penmanship," said Mr. Temple.

"Well! granting her ladyship's talents were equal to the mere
execution," Alfred persisted in thinking she had not abilities
sufficient to invent or combine all the parts of such a scheme. "She
might be an accomplice, but she must have had a principal--and who could
that principal be?"

The same suspicion, the same person, came at the same moment into the
heads of both gentlemen, as they sat looking at each other.

"There is an intimacy between them," said Alfred. "Recollect all the
pains Lady Trant took for Mrs. Falconer about English Clay--they--"

"Mrs. Falconer! But how could she possibly get at Lord Oldborough's
private seal--a seal that is always locked up--a seal never used to any
common letter, never to any but those written by his own hand to some
private friend, and on some very particular occasion? Since I have been
with him I have not seen him use that seal three times."

"When and to whom, can you recollect?" said Alfred.

"I recollect!--I have it all!" exclaimed Mr. Temple, striking the
table--"I have it! But, Lady Frances Arlington--I am sorry she is gone."

"Why! what of her?--Lady Frances can have nothing more to do with the
business."

"She has a great deal more, I can assure you--but without knowing it."

"Of that I am certain, or all the world would have known it long ago:
but tell me how."

"I recollect, at the time when I was dangling after Lady
Frances--there's good in every thing--just before we went down to
Falconer-court, her ladyship, who, you know, has always some reigning
fancy, was distracted about what she called _bread-seals_. She took off
the impression of seals with bread--no matter how, but she did--and used
to torment me--no, I thought it a great pleasure at the time--to procure
for her all the pretty seals I could."

"But, surely, you did not give her Lord Oldborough's?"

"I!--not I!--how could you imagine such a thing?"

"You were in love, and might have forgotten consequences."

"A man in love may forget every thing, I grant--except his fidelity. No,
I never gave the seal; but I perfectly recollect Lady Frances showing it
to me in her collection, and my asking her how she came by it."

"And how did she?"

"From the cover of a note which the duke, her uncle, had received from
Lord Oldborough; and I, at the time, remembered his lordship's having
written it to the Duke of Greenwich on the birth of his grandson. Lord
Oldborough had, upon a former occasion, affronted his grace by sending
him a note sealed with a wafer--this time his lordship took special
care, and sealed it with his private _seal of honour_."

"Well! But how does this bring the matter home to Mrs. Falconer?" said
Alfred.

"Stay--I am bringing it as near home to her as possible. We all went
down to Falconer-court together; and there I remember Lady Frances had
her collection of bread-seals, and was daubing and colouring them with
vermilion--and Mrs. Falconer was so anxious about them--and Lady Frances
gave her several--I must see Lady Frances again directly, to inquire
whether she gave her, among the rest, Lord Oldborough's--I'll go to Lady
Jane Granville's this evening on purpose. But had I not better go this
moment to Lady Trant?"

Alfred advised, that having traced the matter thus far, they should not
hazard giving any alarm to Lady Trant or to Mrs. Talconer, but should
report to Lord Oldborough what progress had been made.

Mr. Temple accordingly went home, to be in readiness for his lordship's
return. In the mean time the first exaltation of indignant pride having
subsided, and his cool judgment reflecting upon what had passed, Lord
Oldborough considered that, however satisfactory to his own mind might
be the feeling of his innocence, the proofs of it were necessary to
satisfy the public; he saw that his character would be left doubtful,
and at the mercy of his enemies, if he were in pique and resentment
hastily to resign, before he had vindicated his integrity. "_If_ your
proofs be produced, my lord!"--these words recurred to him, and his
anxiety to obtain these proofs rose high; and high was his satisfaction
the moment he saw his secretary, for by the first glance at Mr. Temple's
countenance he perceived that some discovery had been made.

Alfred, that night, received through Mr. Temple his lordship's request,
that he would obtain what farther information he could relative to the
private seal, in whatever way he thought most prudent. His lordship
trusted entirely to his discretion--Mr. Temple was engaged with other
business.

Alfred went with Caroline to Lady Jane Granville's, to meet Lady Frances
Arlington; he entered into conversation, and by degrees brought her to
his point, playing all the time with her curiosity, and humouring her
childishness, while he carried on his cross-examination.

At first she could not recollect any thing about making the seals he
talked of. "It was a fancy that had passed--and a past fancy," she said,
"was like a past love, or a past beauty, good for nothing but to be
forgotten." However, by proper leading of the witness, and suggesting
time, place, and circumstance, he did bring to the fair lady's mind all
that he wanted her to remember. She could not conceive what interest Mr.
Percy could take in the matter--it was some jest about Mr. Temple, she
was sure. Yes, she did recollect a seal with a Cupid riding a lion, that
Mr. Temple gave her just before they went to Falconer-court--was that
what he meant?

"No--but a curious seal--" (Alfred described the device.)

"Lord Oldborough's! Yes, there was some such odd seal." But it was not
given to her by Mr. Temple--she took that from a note to her uncle, the
Duke of Greenwich.

Yes--that, Alfred said, he knew; but what did her ladyship do with it?

"You know how I got it! Bless me! you seem to know every thing I do
and say. You know my affairs vastly well--you act the conjuror
admirably--pray, can you tell me whom I am to marry?"

"That I will--when your ladyship has told me to whom you gave that
seal."

"That I would, and welcome, if I could recollect--but I really can't. If
you think I gave it to Mr. Temple, I assure you, you are mistaken--you
may ask him."

"I know your ladyship did not give it to Mr. Temple--but to whom did you
give it?"

"I remember now--not to any gentleman, after all--you are positively
out. I gave it to Mrs. Falconer."

"You are certain of that, Lady Frances Arlington?"

"I am certain, Mr. Alfred Percy."

"And how can you prove it to me, Lady Frances?"

"The easiest way in the world--by asking Mrs. Falconer. Only I don't go
there now much, since Georgiana and I have quarrelled--but what can make
you so curious about it?"

"That's a secret."--At the word _secret_, her attention was fixed.--"May
I ask if your ladyship would know the seal again if you saw it?--Is
this any thing like the impression?" (showing her the seal on the forged
cover.)

"The very same that I gave Mrs. Falconer, I'll swear to it--I'll tell
you how I know it particularly. There's a little outer rim here, with
points to it, which there is not to the other. I fastened my bread-seal
into an old setting of my own, from which I had lost the stone. Mrs.
Falconer took a fancy to it, among a number of others, so I let her have
it. Now I have answered all your questions--answer mine--Whom am I to
marry?"

"Your ladyship will marry whomsoever--your ladyship _pleases_."

"That was an ambiguous answer," she observed; "for that she _pleased_
every body." Her ladyship was going to run on with some further
questions, but Alfred pretending that the oracle was not permitted to
answer more explicitly, left her completely in the dark as to what his
meaning had been in this whole conversation.

He reported progress to Lord Oldborough--and his lordship slept as
soundly this night as he did the night after he had been attacked by the
mob.

The next morning the first person he desired to see was Mr.
Falconer--his lordship sent for him into his cabinet.

"Mr. Commissioner Falconer, I promised to give you notice, whenever I
should see any probability of my going out of power."

"Good Heaven! my lord," exclaimed the commissioner, starting back. The
surprise, the consternation were real--Lord Oldborough had his eye upon
him to determine that point.

"Impossible, surely!--I hope--"

His hope flitted at the moment to the Duke of Greenwich--but returned
instantly: he had made no terms--had missed his time. If Lord Oldborough
should go out of office--his place, his pension, gone--utter ruin.

Lord Oldborough marked the vacillation and confusion of his countenance,
and saw that he was quite unprepared.

"I hope--Merciful Powers! I trust--I thought your lordship had triumphed
over all your enemies, and was firmer in favour and power than ever.
What can have occurred?"

Without making any answer, Lord Oldborough beckoned to the commissioner
to approach nearer the window where his lordship was standing, and then
suddenly put into his hand the cover with the forged handwriting and
seal.

"What am I to understand by this, my lord?" said the bewildered
commissioner, turning it backwards and forwards. "Captain Nuttall!--I
never saw the man in my life. May I ask, my lord, what I am to
comprehend from this?"

"I see, sir, that you know nothing of the business."

The whole was explained by Lord Oldborough succinctly. The astonishment
and horror in the poor commissioner's countenance and gestures, and
still more, the eagerness with which he begged to be permitted to try to
discover the authors of this forgery, were sufficient proofs that he had
not the slightest suspicion that the guilt could be traced to any of his
own family.

Lord Oldborough's look, fixed on the commissioner, expressed what it had
once before expressed--"Sir, from my soul, I pity you!"

The commissioner saw this look, and wondered why Lord Oldborough should
pity _him_ at a time when all his lordship's feelings should naturally
be for himself.

"My lord, I would engage we shall discover--we shall trace it."

"I believe that I have discovered--that I have traced it," said Lord
Oldborough; and he sighed.

Now that sigh was more incomprehensible to the commissioner than all
the rest, and he stood with his lips open for a moment before he could
utter, "Why then resign, my lord?"

"That is my affair," said Lord Oldborough. "Let us, if you please, sir,
think of yours; for, probably, this is the only time I shall ever more
have it in my power to be of the least service to you."

"Oh! my lord--my lord, don't say so!" said the commissioner quite
forgetting all his artificial manner, and speaking naturally: "the last
time you shall have it in your power!--Oh! my dear lord, don't say so!"

"My dear sir, I must--it gives me pain--you see it does."

"At such a time as this to think of me instead of yourself! My lord, I
never knew you till this moment--so well."

"Nor I you, sir," said Lord Oldborough. "It is the more unfortunate for
us both, that our connexion and intercourse must now for ever cease."

"Never, never, my lord, if you were to go out of power to-morrow--which
Heaven, in its mercy and justice, forbid! I could never forget the
goodness--I would never desert--in spite of all interest--I should
continue--I hope your lordship would permit me to pay my duty--all
intercourse could never cease."

Lord Oldborough saw, and almost smiled at the struggle between the
courtier and the man--the confusion in the commissioner's mind between
his feelings and his interest. Partly his lordship relieved, and partly
he pained Mr. Falconer, by saying, in his firm tone, "I thank you, Mr.
Falconer; but all intercourse must cease. After this hour, we meet
no more. I beg you, sir, to collect your spirits, and to listen to
me calmly. Before this day is at an end, you will understand why all
farther intercourse between us would be useless to your interest, and
incompatible with my honour. Before many hours are past, a blow will be
struck which will go to your heart--for I see you have one--and deprive
you of the power of thought. It is my wish to make that blow fall as
lightly upon you as possible."

"Oh! my lord, your resignation would indeed be a blow I could never
recover. The bare apprehension deprives me at this moment of all power
of thought; but still I hope--"

"Hear me, sir, I beg, without interruption: it is my business to think
for you. Go immediately to the Duke of Greenwich, make what terms with
him you can--make what advantage you can of the secret of my approaching
resignation--a secret I now put in your power to communicate to his
grace, and which no one yet suspects--I having told it to no one living
but to yourself. Go quickly to the duke--time presses--I wish you
success--and a better patron than I have been, than my principles would
permit me to be. Farewell, Mr. Falconer."

The commissioner moved towards the door when Lord Oldborough said "_Time
presses_;" but the commissioner stopped--turned back--could not go: the
tears--real tears--rolled down his cheeks--Lord Oldborough went forward,
and held out his hand to him--the commissioner kissed it, with the
reverence with which he would have kissed his sovereign's hand; and
bowing, he involuntarily backed to the door, as if quitting the presence
of majesty.

"It is a pity that man was bred a mere courtier, and that he is cursed
with a family on none of whom there is any dependence," thought Lord
Oldborough, as the door closed upon the commissioner for ever.

Lord Oldborough delayed an hour purposely, to give Mr. Falconer
advantage of the day with the Duke of Greenwich: then ordered his
carriage, and drove to--Mrs. Falconer's.

Great was her surprise at the minister's entrance.--"Concerned the
commissioner was not at home."

"My business is with Mrs. Falconer."

"My lord--your lordship--the honour and the pleasure of a
visit--Georgiana, my dear."

Mrs. Falconer nodded to her daughter, who most unwillingly, and as if
dying with curiosity, retired.

The smile died away upon Mrs. Falconer's lips as she observed the stern
gravity of Lord Oldborough's countenance. She moved a chair towards his
lordship--he stood, and leaning on the back of the chair, paused, as he
looked at her.

"What is to come?--Cunningham, perhaps," thought Mrs. Falconer; "or
perhaps something about John. When will he speak?--I can't--I must--I am
happy to see your lordship looking so well."

"Is Mrs. Falconer acquainted with Lady Trant?"

"Lady Trant--yes, my lord."

"Mercy! Is it possible?--No, for her own sake she would not betray me,"
thought Mrs. Falconer.

"Intimately?" said Lord Oldborough.

"Intimately--that is, as one's intimate with every body of a certain
sort--one visits--but no farther--I can't say I have the honour--"

Mrs. Falconer was so distracted by seeing Lord Oldborough searching in
his pocket-book for a letter, that in spite of all her presence of mind,
she knew not what she said; and all her presence of countenance failed,
when Lord Oldborough placed before her eyes the cover directed to
Captain Nuttall.

Can you guess how this came into Lady Trant's possession, madam?"

"I protest, my lord," her voice trembling, in spite of her utmost
efforts to command it, "I don't know--nor can I conceive--"

"Nor can you conceive by whom it was written, madam?"

"It appears--it bears a resemblance--some likeness--as far as I
recollect--but it is so long since I have seen your lordship's own
hand--and hands are so like--sometimes--and I am so bad a judge--every
hand, all fashionable hands, are so like."

"And every seal like every seal?" said Lord Oldborough, placing the
counterfeit seal before Mrs. Falconer. "I recommend it to you, madam, to
waste no farther time in evasion; but to deliver to me the counterpart
of this seal, the impression of my private seal, which you had from Lady
Frances Arlington."

"A mere bread-seal! Her ladyship surely has not said--I really have lost
it--if I ever had it--I declare your lordship terrifies me so, by this
strange mode--"

"I recommend it to you once more, madam, and for the last time I
earnestly recommend it to you, to deliver up to me that seal, for I
have sworn to my belief that it is in your possession; a warrant will in
consequence be issued, to seize and search your papers. The purport of
my present visit, of which I should gladly have been spared the pain,
is to save you, madam, from the public disgrace of having a warrant
executed. Do not faint, madam, if you can avoid it, nor go into
hysterics; for if you do, I must retire, and the warrant must be
executed. Your best course is to open that desk, to give me up the seal,
to make to me at this instant a full confession of all you know of this
transaction. If you do thus, for your husband's sake, madam, I will,
as far as I can consistently with what is due to myself, spare you the
shame of an arrest."

Mrs. Falconer, with trembling hands, unlocked the desk, and delivered
the seal.

"And a letter which I see in the same hand-writing, madam, if you
please."

She gave it; and then, unable to support herself longer, sunk upon
a sofa: but she neither fainted nor screamed--she was aware of the
consequences. Lord Oldborough opened the window to give her air. She was
relieved by a burst of tears, and was silent--and nothing was heard
but her sobs, which she endeavoured to suppress in vain. She was more
relieved on looking up by one glance at Lord Oldborough's countenance,
where she saw compassion working strongly.

But before she could take any advantage of it, the expression
was changed, the feeling was controlled: he was conscious of its
weakness--he recollected what public justice, and justice to his own
character, required--he recollected all the treachery, the criminality,
of which she had been guilty.

"Madam, you are not now in a condition, I see, to explain yourself
farther--I will relieve you from my presence: my reproaches you will
never hear; but I shall expect from you, before one hour, such an
avowal in writing of this whole transaction, as may, with the written
confession of Lady Trant, afford the proofs which are due to my
sovereign, and to the public, of my integrity."

Mrs. Falconer bowed her head, covered her face, clasped her hands in
agony: as Lord Oldborough retired, she sprang up, followed to throw
herself at his feet, yet without knowing what she could say.

"The commissioner is innocent!--If you forsake him, he is undone--all,
all of us, utterly ruined! Oh! Georgiana! Georgiana! where are you?
speak for me!"

Georgiana was in an inner apartment, trying on a new robe _à la
Georgienne_.

"Whatever you may wish farther to say to me, madam," said Lord
Oldborough, disengaging himself from her, and passing decidedly on,
before Georgiana appeared, "you will put in writing, and let me have
within this hour--or never."

Within that hour, Commissioner Falconer brought, for Lord Oldborough,
the paper his wife had drawn up, but which he was obliged to deliver
to Mr. Temple; for Lord Oldborough had so ordered, and his lordship
persevered in refusing to see him more. Mrs. Falconer's paper was worded
with all the art and address of which she was mistress, and all the
pathos she could command--Lord Oldborough looked only for facts--these
he marked with his pencil, and observed where they corroborated and
where they differed from Lady Trant's confession, which Mr. Temple had
been charged to obtain during his lordship's visit to Mrs. Falconer.
The greater part of the night Lord Oldborough and Mr. Alfred Percy
were employed arranging these documents, so as to put the proofs in the
clearest and shortest form, to be laid before his majesty the succeeding
day.

It appeared that Mrs. Falconer had been first tempted to these practices
by the distress for money into which extravagant entertainments, or, as
she stated, the expenses incident to her situation--expenses which far
exceeded her income--had led her. It was supposed, from her having kept
open house at times for the minister, that she and the commissioner had
great influence; she had been applied to--presents had been offered, and
she had long withstood. But at length, Lady Trant acting in concert with
her, they had been supplied with information by a clerk in one of the
offices, a relation of Lady Trant, who was a vain, incautious youth,
and, it seems, did not know the use made of his indiscretion: he told
what promotions he heard spoken of--what commissions were making out.
The ladies prophesied, and their prophecies being accomplished, they
gained credit. For some time they kept themselves behind the scenes--and
many, applying to A.B., and dealing with they did not know whom, paid
for promotions which would have come unpaid for; others paid, and were
never promoted, and wrote letters of reproach--Captain Nuttall was among
these, and he it was, who, finding himself duped, first stirred in the
business; and by means of an active member of opposition, to whom he
made known his secret grievance, brought the whole to light.

The proofs arranged (and Lord Oldborough never slept till they were
perfected), he reposed tranquilly. The next day, asking an audience of
his majesty, he simply laid the papers on his majesty's table, observing
that he had been so fortunate as to succeed in tracing the forgery, and
that he trusted these papers contained all the necessary proofs.

His lordship bowed and retired instantly, leaving his majesty to examine
the papers alone.

The resolution to resign his ministerial station had long been forming
in Lord Oldborough's mind. It was not a resolution taken suddenly in
pride or pique, but after reflection, and upon strong reasons. It was a
measure which he had long been revolving in his secret thoughts. During
the enthusiasm of political life, the proverbial warnings against
the vanity of ambition, and the danger of dependence on the favour of
princes, had passed on his ear but as a schoolboy's lesson: a phrase
"to point a moral, or adorn a tale." He was not a reading man, and the
maxims of books he disregarded or disbelieved; but in the observations
he made for himself he trusted: the lessons he drew from life were never
lost upon him, and he acted in consequence of that which he believed,
with a decision, vigour, and invariability, seldom found even among
philosophers. Of late years he had, in real life, seen striking
instances of the treachery of courtiers, and had felt some symptoms
of insecurity in the smile of princes. Fortune had been favourable to
him--she was fickle--he determined to quit her before she should change.
Ambition, it is true, had tempted him--he had risen to her highest
pinnacle: he would not be hurled from high--he would descend
voluntarily, and with dignity. Lord Oldborough's habits of thought were
as different as possible from those of a metaphysician: he had reflected
less upon the course of his own mind than upon almost any other subject;
but he knew human nature practically; disquisitions on habit, passion,
or the sovereign good, were unread by him, nor, in the course of his
life, had he ever formed a system, moral or prudential; but the same
penetration, the same _longanimity_, which enabled him to govern the
affairs of a great nation, gave him, when his attention turned towards
himself, a foresight for his own happiness. In the meridian of life, he
had cherished ambition, as the only passion that could supply him with
motive strong enough to call great powers into great action. But of late
years he had felt something, not only of the waywardness of fortune, but
of the approaches of age--not in his mind, but in his health, which had
suffered by his exertions. The attacks of hereditary gout had become
more violent and more frequent. If he lived, these would, probably, at
seasons, often incapacitate him from his arduous ministerial duties:
much, that he did well, must be ill done by deputy. He had ever
reprobated the practice of leaving the business of the nation to be done
by clerks and underlings in office. Yet to this the minister, however
able, however honest, must come at last, if he persist in engrossing
business and power beyond what an individual can wield. Love for his
country, a sense of his own honour, integrity, and consistency, here
combined to determine this great minister to retire while it was yet
time--to secure, at once, the dignity and happiness of the evening
of life. The day had been devoted to good and high purposes--that was
enough--he could now, self-satisfied and full of honour, bid adieu to
ambition. This resolution, once formed, was fixed. In vain even his
sovereign endeavoured to dissuade him from carrying it into execution.

When the king had examined the papers which Lord Oldborough had laid
before him, his majesty sent for his lordship again, and the moment
the minister entered the cabinet, his majesty expressed his perfect
satisfaction in seeing that his lordship had, with so little trouble,
and with his usual ability, got to the bottom of this affair.

What was to be done next? The Duke of Greenwich was to be summoned. His
grace was in astonishment when he saw the papers which contained Lord
Oldborough's complete vindication, and the crimination of Mrs. Falconer.
Through the whole, as he read on, his grace had but one idea, viz.
"Commissioner Falconer has deceived me with false intelligence of the
intended resignation." Not one word was said by Lord Oldborough to give
his grace hope of that event--till the member of opposition by whom the
forged letters had been produced--till all those who knew or had heard
any thing of the transaction were clearly and fully apprised of the
truth. After this was established, and that all saw Lord Oldborough
clear and bright in honour, and, at least apparently, as firm in power
as he had ever been, to the astonishment of his sovereign his lordship
begged permission to resign.

Whatever might have been the effect of misrepresentation, to lower Lord
Oldborough's favour, at the moment when he spoke of retiring, his king
recollected all his past services--all that must, in future, be hazarded
and lost in parting with such a minister--so eminent in abilities, of
such tried integrity, of such fidelity, such attachment to his person,
such a zealous supporter of royalty, such a favourite with his people,
so successful as well as so able a minister! Never was he so much valued
as at this moment. All his sovereign's early attachment returned in full
strength and warmth.

"No, my lord, you must not--you will not leave me."

These simple words, spoken with the warmth of the heart, touched Lord
Oldborough more than can be told. It was difficult to resist them,
especially when he saw tears in the eyes of the monarch whom he loved.

But his resolution was taken. He thanked his majesty, not with the
common-place thanks of courtiers, but with his whole heart and soul he
thanked his majesty for this gracious condescension--this testimony
of approbation--these proofs of sensibility to his attachment, which
paid--overpaid him, in a moment, for the labours of a life. The
recollection of them would be the glory, the solace of his age--could
never leave his memory while life lasted--would, he thought, be present
to him, if he should retain his senses, in his dying moment. But he was,
in the midst of this strong feeling, firm to the resolution his reason
had taken. He humbly represented, that he had waited for a favourable
time when the affairs of the country were in a prosperous train, when
there were few difficulties to embarrass those whom his majesty might
name to succeed to his place at the head of administration: there were
many who were ambitious of that station--zeal, talents, and the activity
of youth were at his majesty's command. For himself, he found it
necessary for his health and happiness to retire from public business;
and to resign the arduous trust with which he had been honoured.

"My lord, if I must accept of your resignation, I must--but I do it with
regret. Is there any thing your lordship wishes--any thing you will name
for yourself or your friends, that I can do, to show my sense of your
services and merit?"

"For myself, your majesty's bounty has left me nothing to wish."

"For your friends, then, my lord?--Let me have the satisfaction of
obliging you through them."

Nothing could be more gracious or more gratifying than the whole of this
parting audience. It was Lord Oldborough's last audience.

The news of his resignation, quickly whispered at court, was not that
day publicly known or announced. The next morning his lordship's door
was crowded beyond example in the memory of ministers. Mr. Temple,
by his lordship's order, announced as soon as possible the minister's
having resigned. All were in astonishment--many in sorrow: some few--a
very few of the most insignificant of the crowd, persons incapable
of generous sympathy, who thought they could follow their own paltry
interests unnoticed--left the room, without paying their farewell
respects to this great minister--minister now no more.

The moment he appeared, there was sudden silence. All eyes were fixed
upon him, every one pressing to get into the circle.

"Gentlemen, thank you for these marks of attention--of regard. Mr.
Temple has told you--you know, my friends, that I am a man without
power."

"We know," answered a distinguished gentleman, "that you are Lord
Oldborough. With or without power, the same in the eyes of your friends,
and of the British nation."

Lord Oldborough bowed low, and looked gratified. His lordship then went
round the circle with an air more cheerful, more free from reserve, than
usual; with something in his manner more of sensibility, but nothing
less of dignity. All who merited distinction he distinguished by some
few appropriate words, which each remembered afterwards, and repeated to
their families and friends. He spoke or listened to each individual with
the attention of one who is courting, not quitting, popularity. Free
from that restraint and responsibility which his public and ministerial
duties had imposed upon him, he now entered into the private concerns
of all, and gave his parting assistance or counsel. He noted all
grievances--registered all promises that ought to be recommended to
the care of his successor in office. The wishes of many, to whom he had
forborne to give any encouragement, he now unexpectedly fulfilled and
surpassed. When all were satisfied, and had nothing more to ask or to
hope from him, they yet delayed, and parted from Lord Oldborough with
difficulty and regret.

A proof that justice commands more than any other quality the respect
and gratitude of mankind. Take time and numbers into the calculation,
and all discover, in their turn, the advantage of this virtue. This
minister, a few regretted instances excepted, had shown no favour, but
strict justice, in his patronage.

All Lord Oldborough's requests for his friends were granted--all his
recommendations attended to: it was grateful to him to feel that
his influence lasted after his power had ceased. Though the sun had
apparently set, its parting rays continued to brighten and cheer the
prospect.

Under a new minister, Mr. Temple declined accepting of the embassy which
had been offered to him. Remuneration suitable to his services, and to
the high terms in which Lord Oldborough had spoken of his merit, was
promised; and without waiting to see in what form, or manner, this
promise would be accomplished, the secretary asked and obtained
permission to accompany his revered master to his retirement. Alfred
Percy, zealous and ardent in Lord Oldborough's service, the more
this great man's character had risen upon his admiration, had already
hastened to the country to prepare every thing at Clermont-park for his
reception. By his orders, that establishment had been retrenched; by
Alfred Percy's activity it was restored. Services, which the richest
nobleman in the land could not have purchased, or the highest have
commanded, Alfred was proud to pay as a voluntary tribute to a noble
character.

Lord Oldborough set out for the country at a very early hour in the
morning, and no one previously knew his intentions, except Mr. Temple.
He was desirous to avoid what it had been whispered was the design
of the people, to attend him in crowds through the streets of the
metropolis.

As they drove out of town, Lord Oldborough recollected that in some
account, either of the Duke of Marlborough, or the Duke of Ormond's
leaving London, after his dismission from court, it is said, that of all
those whom the duke had served, all those who had courted and flattered
him in the time of his prosperity and power, none showed any gratitude
or attachment, excepting one page, who appeared at the coach-door as his
master was departing, and gave some signs of genuine sorrow and respect.

"I am fortunate," said Lord Oldborough, "in having few complaints to
make of ingratitude. I make none. The few I might make," continued his
lordship, who now rewarded Mr. Temple's approved fidelity, by speaking
to him with the openness and confidence of friendship, "the few I might
make have been chiefly caused by errors of my own in the choice of the
persons I have obliged. I thank Heaven, however, that upon the whole
I leave public life not only with a good conscience, but with a good
opinion of human nature. I speak not of courtiers--there is nothing of
nature about them--they are what circumstances make them. Were I to live
my life over again, the hours spent with courtiers are those which I
should most wish to be spared; but by a statesman, or a minister, these
cannot be avoided. For myself, in resigning my ministerial office,
I might say, as Charles the Fifth, when he abdicated, said to his
successor, 'I leave you a heavy burthen; for since my shoulders have
borne it, I have not passed one day exempt from anxiety.'

"But from the first moment I started in the course of ambition, I was
aware that tranquillity must be sacrificed; and to the last moment I
abided by the sacrifice. The good I had in view, I have reached--the
prize at which I aimed, I have won. The glory of England was my
object--her approbation my reward. Generous people!--If ever I bore toil
or peril in your cause, I am rewarded, and never shall you hear me
say that 'the unfruitful glories please no more.' The esteem of my
sovereign!--I possess it. It is indefeasibly mine. His favour, his
smiles, are his to give, or take away. Never shall he hear from me the
_wailings_ of disappointed ambition."



CHAPTER XXXIX.


Caroline took advantage of the opportunity of returning home with her
brother Alfred, when he went to the country, to prepare Clermont-park
for the reception of Lord Oldborough. And now she saw her home again
with more than wonted delight. Every thing animate and inanimate seemed
to smile upon her, every heart rejoiced at her return; and she enjoyed
equally the pleasure of loving, and of being beloved by, such friends.
She had been amused and admired during her residence in London; but a
life of dissipation she had always thought, and now she was convinced
from experience, could never suit her taste or character. She would
immediately have resumed her former occupations, if Rosamond would have
permitted; but Rosamond took entire possession of her at every moment
when her father or mother had not claimed their prior right to hear and
to be heard.

"Caroline, my dear, don't natter yourself that you shall be left in
peace--See!--she is sitting down to write a letter, as if she had
not been away from us these six months--You must write to Lady Jane
Granville!--Well, finish your gratitude quickly--and no more writing,
reading, or drawing, this day; you must think of nothing but talking, or
listening to me."

Much as she loved talking in general, Rosamond now so far preferred
the pleasure of hearing, that, with her eyes fixed on Caroline, her
countenance varying with every variety of Caroline's expression, she
sat perfectly silent all the time her sister spoke. And scarcely was her
voice heard, even in exclamation. But, during the pauses of narrative,
when the pause lasted more than a minute, she would say, "Go on, my dear
Caroline, go on. Tell us something more."

The conversation was interrupted by the sudden entrance of Mr.
Temple--and Rosamond did not immediately find her fluency of speech
increase. Mr. Temple had seized the first moment that duty and gratitude
to his master and friend permitted to hasten to the Hills, nor had Lord
Oldborough been unmindful of his feelings. Little as his lordship was
disposed to think of love affairs, it seems he recollected those of his
secretary; for, the morning after their arrival at Clermont-park, when
he proffered his services, Lord Oldborough said, that he had only
to trouble Mr. Temple to pay a visit for him, if it would not be
disagreeable, to his old friend Mr. Percy.

"Tell him that I know his first wish will be to come to show me that it
is the man, not the minister, for whom he had a regard: tell him this
proof of his esteem is unnecessary. He will wish to see me for another
reason: he is a philosopher--and will have a philosophical curiosity to
discover how I exist without ambition. But of that he cannot yet form a
judgment--nor can I: therefore, if he pleases, let his visit be delayed
till next week. I have some papers to arrange, which I should wish
to show him, and I cannot have them sooner in readiness. If you, Mr.
Temple, can contrive to pass this week at Mr. Percy's, let me not detain
you. There is no fear," added he, smiling, that "in solitude I should
be troubled by the spectre which haunted the minister in Gil Blas in his
retirement."

Never was man happier than Mr. Temple, when he found himself in the
midst of the family circle at the Hills, and seated beside Rosamond,
free from all cares, all business, all intrigues of courtiers, and
restraints of office; no longer in the horrors of, attendance and
dependence, but with the promise of a competent provision for life--with
the consciousness of its having been, honourably obtained; and to
brighten all, the hope, the delightful hope, of soon prevailing on the
woman he loved, to become his for ever.

Alfred Percy had been obliged to return directly to London, and for once
in his life Mr. Temple benefited by the absence of, his friend. In the
small house at the Hills, Alfred's was the only room that could have
been spared for him; and in this room, scarcely fourteen feet square,
the ex-secretary found himself lodged more entirely to his satisfaction
than he had ever been in the sumptuous apartments of the great. The
happy are not fastidious as to their accommodations; they never miss the
painted ceiling, or the long arcade, and their slumbers require no bed
of down. The lover's only fear was, that this happy week would pass too
swiftly; and, indeed, time flew unperceived by him, and by Rosamond.
One fine day, after dinner, Mrs. Percy proposed, that instead of sitting
longer in the house, they should have their dessert of strawberries in
some pleasant place in the lawn or wood. Rosamond eagerly seconded this
proposal, and whispered, "Caroline's bower."

Thither they went. This bower of Caroline, this favourite spot,
Rosamond, during her sister's absence, had taken delight in ornamenting,
and it did credit as much to her taste as to her kindness. She had
opened a view on one side to a waterfall among the rocks; on the other,
to a winding path descending through the glen. Honey-suckle, rose, and
eglantine, near the bower, were in rich and wild profusion; all these,
the song of birds, and even the smell of the new-mown grass, seemed
peculiarly delightful to Mr. Temple. Of late years he had been doomed to
close confinement in a capital city; but all his tastes were rural,
and, as he said, he feared he should expose himself to the ridicule Dr.
Johnson throws on those "who talk of sheep and goats, and who babble of
green fields."

Mr. Percy thought Dr. Johnson was rather too intolerant of rural
description, and of the praises of a country life, but acknowledged that
he quite agreed with him in disliking, pastorals--excepting always that
beautiful drama, "The Gentle Shepherd." Mr. Percy said, that, in his
opinion, a life purely pastoral must, if it could be realized, prove
as insufferably tiresome in reality, as it usually is found to be in
fiction. He hated Delias and shepherdesses, and declared that he should
soon grow tired of any companion with whom he had no other occupation
in common but "_tending a few sheep_." There was a vast difference, he
thought, between pastoral and domestic life. His idea of domestic life
comprised all the varieties of literature, exercise, and amusement for
the faculties, with the delights of cultivated society.

The conversation turned from pastoral life and pastorals to Scotch and
English ballads and songs. Their various merits of simplicity, pathos,
or elegance, were compared and discussed. After the Reliques of Ancient
Poetry had been sufficiently admired, Rosamond and Caroline mentioned
two modern compositions, both by the same author, each exquisite in its
different style of poetry--one beautiful, the other sublime. Rosamond's
favourite was the Exile of Erin; Caroline's, the Mariners of England.
To justify their tastes, they repeated the poems. Caroline fixed the
attention of the company on the flag, which has

  "Braved a thousand years the battle and the breeze,"

when suddenly her own attention seemed to be distracted by some object
in the glen below. She endeavoured to go on, but her voice faltered--her
colour changed. Rosamond, whose quick eye followed her sister's,
instantly caught a glimpse of a gentleman coming up the path from the
glen. Rosamond started from her seat, and clasping her hands, exclaimed,
"It is! It _is_ he!--It is Count Altenberg!"

They had not recovered from their astonishment when Count Altenberg
stood before them. To Mr. Percy, to Mrs. Percy, to Rosamond, to each he
spoke, before he said one word to Caroline. But one look had said all,
had spoken, and had been understood.

That he was not married she was certain--for that look said he loved
her--and her confidence in his honour was secure: Whatever had delayed
his return, or had been mysterious in his conduct, she felt convinced
that he had never been to blame.

And on his part did he read as distinctly the truth in her
countenance?--Was the high colour, the radiant pleasure in that
countenance unmarked? The joy was so veiled by feminine modesty, that he
doubted, trembled, and if at last the rapid feelings ended in hope,
it was respectful hope. With deference the most marked, mingled with
dignity, tenderness, and passion, he approached Caroline. He was too
delicate, too well-bred, to distress her by distinguishing her more
particularly; but as he took the seat, which she left for him beside her
mother, the open and serene expression of her eye, with the soft sound
of her voice, in the few words she answered to what he said, were enough
to set his heart at ease. The sight of Mr. Temple had at first alarmed
the Count, but the alarm was only momentary. One glance at Rosamond
re-assured him.

Ideas, which it requires many words to tell, passed instantaneously with
the rapidity of light. After they were seated, some minutes were spent
in common-place questions and answers, such as those which Benjamin
Franklin would wisely put all together, into one formula, to satisfy
curiosity. Count Altenberg landed the preceding day--had not stopped
to see any one in England--had not even heard of Lord Oldborough's
resignation--had proceeded directly to the Hills--had left his equipage
at a town a few miles distant--thought he had been fully master of the
well-known road, but the approach having been lately changed, he had
missed his way.

This settled, to make room for a more interesting explanation, Mr.
Temple had the politeness to withdraw. Rosamond had the humanity, and
Caroline the discretion, to accompany him in his walk.

Count Altenberg then said, addressing himself to Mr. Percy, on whose
regard he seemed to have reliance, and to Mrs. Percy, whom he appeared
most anxious to interest in his favour, "You certainly, sir, as a man
of penetration, and a father; you, madam, as a mother, and as a lady who
must have been accustomed to the admiration of our sex, could not avoid
seeing, when I was in this country before, that I felt the highest
admiration, that I had formed the strongest attachment for your
daughter--Miss Caroline Percy."

Mr. and Mrs. Percy both acknowledged that they thought Count Altenberg
had shown some preference for Caroline; but as he had never declared
his attachment, they had not felt themselves justified in inferring
more from his attentions than his general good opinion. A change in
his manner, which they observed shortly before they quitted Hungerford
Castle, had impressed them with the idea that he had no such views as
they had once been led to imagine, and their never having heard any
thing from him since, had confirmed them in this belief.

"Painful--exquisitely painful, as it was to me," said Count Altenberg,
"I felt myself bound in honour to leave you in that error; and, at all
hazards to myself, to suffer you to continue under that persuasion, as
I was then, and have been till within these few days, in dread of
being obliged to fulfil an engagement, made without my concurrence or
knowledge, and which must for ever have precluded me from indulging
the first wish of my heart. The moment, literally the moment I was
at liberty, I hastened hither, to declare my real sentiments, and to
solicit your permission to address your daughter. But before I can
expect that permission, before I can hope for your approbation of my
suit--an approbation which, I am well aware, must depend entirely upon
your opinion of my character--I must, to explain whatever may have
appeared unintelligible in my conduct, be permitted to make you fully
acquainted with the circumstances in which I have been placed."

Beginning with the history of his father's letters and his own,
respecting the projected marriage with the Countess Christina, he
related, nearly as follows, all that passed, after his having, in
obedience to his father's summons, returned home. He found contracts
drawn up and ready for his signature--the friends of both families
apprized of the proposed alliance, and every thing actually prepared
for his marriage. Remonstrances with his father were vain. The old Count
said that it was impossible to break off the match, that his honour and
the honour of his house was pledged. But independently of all promises,
he considered the accomplishment of this marriage as most desirable and
advantageous: with all the vehemence of affection, and all the force of
parental authority, he charged his son to fulfil his engagements. The
old Count was a fond but an imperious father; a good but an ambitious
man. It was his belief that love is such a transient passion, that it
is folly to sacrifice to its indulgence any of the solid and permanent
interests of life. His experience at courts, and his observation on the
gallantries of young princes and nobles, had taught him to believe that
love is not only a transient, but a variable and capricious feeling,
easily changing its object, and subsisting only by novelty. All that
his son said of his attachment to Caroline, of the certainty of its
permanence, and of its being essential to the happiness of his life, the
father heard but as the common language of every enamoured youth. He let
his son speak without interruption, but smiled incredulous, and listened
only as to the voice of one in the paroxysm of a passion, which, however
violent, would necessarily subside. Between the fits, he endeavoured
to control the fever of his mind, and as a spell repeated these words,
"Albert! see the young Countess Christina--but once--I ask no more."

Albert, with the respect due to a father, but with the firmness due to
himself, and with all the courage which love only could have given to
oppose the authority and affection of a parent, refused to ratify the
contract that had been prepared, and declined the proposed interview.
He doubted not, he said, that the lady was all his father
described--beautiful, amiable, and of transcendant talents; he doubted
not her power to win any but a heart already won. He would enter into
no invidious comparisons, nor bid defiance to her charms--his own choice
was made, he was sure of his constancy, and he thought it not only the
most honourable course, but the most respectful to the Lady Christina,
ingenuously at once, and without having any interview with her, or her
friends, to state the truth--that the treaty had been commenced by his
father without his knowledge, and carried on under total ignorance of an
attachment he had formed in England. The father, after some expressions
of anger and disappointment, was silent, and appeared to acquiesce. He
no longer openly urged the proposed interview, but he secretly contrived
that it should take place. At a masked ball at court, Count Albert
entered into conversation with a Minerva, whose majestic air and figure
distinguished her above her companions, whose language, thoughts, and
sentiments, perfectly sustained the character which she assumed. He was
struck with admiration by her talents, and by a certain elevation of
thought and sentiment, which, in all she said, seemed the habitual
expression of a real character, not the strained language of a feigned
personage. She took off her mask--he was dazzled by her beauty. They
were at this moment surrounded by numbers of her friends and of his,
who were watching the effect produced by this interview. His father,
satisfied by the admiration he saw in Count Albert's countenance, when
they both took off their masks, approached and whispered, "the Countess
Christina." Count Altenberg grew pale, and for a moment stood in silent
consternation. The lady smiled with an air of haughty superiority, which
in some degree relieved him, by calling his own pride to his aid, and
by convincing him that tenderness, or feminine timidity, which he would
have most dreaded to wound, were not the characteristics of her mind.
He instantly asked permission to pay his respects to her at her father's
palace the ensuing day. She changed colour--darted a penetrating glance
at the Count; and after an incomprehensible and quick alternation of
pleasure and pain in her countenance, she replied, that "she consented
to grant Count Albert Altenberg that interview which he and their mutual
friends desired." She then retired with friends from the assembly.

In spite of the haughtiness of her demeanour, it had been obvious that
she had desired to make an impression upon Count Albert; and all who
knew her agreed that she had never on any occasion been seen to exert
herself so much to shine and please. She shone, but had not pleased. The
father, however, was content; an interview was promised--he trusted to
the charms and talents of the Countess--he trusted to her flattering
desire to captivate, and with impatience and confidence, he waited for
the event of the succeeding day. Some intervening hours, a night of
feverish and agonizing suspense, would have been spared to Count Albert,
had he at this time known any thing of an intrigue--an intrigue which an
artful enemy had been carrying on, with design to mortify, disgrace, and
ruin his house. The plan was worthy of him by whom it was formed--M.
de Tourville--a person, between whom and Count Albert there seemed an
incompatibility of character, and even of manner; an aversion openly,
indiscreetly shown by the Count, even from his boyish years, but
cautiously concealed on the part of M. de Tourville, masked in courtly
smiles and a diplomatic air of perfect consideration. Fear mixed with M.
de Tourville's dislike. He was aware that if Count Albert continued in
confidence with the hereditary prince, he would, when the prince should
assume the reins of government, become, in all probability, his prime
minister, and then adieu to all M. de Tourville's hopes of rising to
favour and fortune. Fertile in the resources of intrigue, gallant and
political, he combined them, upon this occasion, with exquisite address.
When the Countess Christina was first presented at court, he had
observed that the Prince was struck by her beauty. M. de Tourville took
every means that a courtier well knows how to employ, to flatter the
taste by which he hoped to benefit. In secret he insinuated into the
lady's ear that she was admired by the prince. M. de Tourville knew her
to be of an aspiring character, and rightly judged that ambition was her
strongest passion. When once the hope of captivating the prince had been
suggested to her, she began to disdain the proposed alliance with the
house of Altenberg; but she concealed this disdain, till she could show
it with security: she played her part with all the ability, foresight,
and consummate prudence, of which ambition, undisturbed by love, is
capable. Many obstacles opposed her views: the projected marriage with
Count Albert Altenberg--the certainty that the reigning prince would
never consent to his son's forming an alliance with the daughter of
a subject. But the old Prince was dying, and the Lady Christina
calculated, that till his decease, she could protract the time appointed
for her marriage with Count Albert. The young Prince might then break
off the projected match, prevail upon the Emperor to create her a
Princess of the empire, and then, without derogating from his rank,
or giving offence to German ideas of propriety, he might gratify his
passion, and accomplish the fulness of her ambition. Determined to
take no counsel but her own, she never opened her scheme to any of her
friends, but pursued her plan secretly, in concert with M. de Tourville,
whom she considered but as a humble instrument devoted to her service.
He all the while considering her merely as a puppet, played by his art,
to secure at once the purposes of his interest and of his hatred. He
thought he foresaw that Count Albert would never yield his intended
bride peaceably to his prince--he knew nothing of the Count's attachment
in England--the Lady Christina was charming--the alliance highly
advantageous to the house of Altenberg--the breaking off such a
marriage, and the disappointment of a passion which he thought the young
Countess could not fail to inspire, would, as M. de Tourville hoped,
produce an irreparable breach between the Prince and his favourite. On
Count Albert's return from England, symptoms of alarm and jealousy had
appeared in the Prince, unmarked by all but by the Countess Christina,
and by the confidant, who was in the secret of his passion.

So far M. de Tourville's scheme had prospered, and from the character of
the hereditary Prince, it was likely to succeed in its ultimate view. He
was a Prince of good dispositions, but wanting in resolution and civil
courage: capable of resisting the allurements of pleasure for a certain
time, but soon weary of painful endurance in any cause; with a taste for
virtue, but destitute of that power to bear and forbear, without which
there is no virtue: a hero, when supported by a stronger mind, such as
that of his friend, Count Albert; but relaxing and sinking at once, when
exposed to the influence of a flatterer such as M. de Tourville: subject
to exquisite shame and self-reproach, when he had acted contrary to his
own idea of right; yet, from the very same weakness that made him err,
disposed to be obstinate in error. M. de Tourville argued well from his
knowledge of his character, that the Prince, enamoured as he was of
the charms of the fair Christina, would not long be able to resist his
passion; and that if once he broke through his sense of honour, and
declared that passion to the destined bride of his friend, he would ever
afterwards shun and detest the man whom he had injured. All this M. de
Tourville had admirably well combined: no man understood and managed
better the weaknesses of human nature, but its strength he could not
so well estimate; and as for generosity, as he could not believe in its
sincerity, he was never prepared for its effects. The struggles
which the Prince made against his passion were greater, and of longer
duration, than M. de Tourville had expected. If Count Albert had
continued absent, the Prince might have been brought more easily to
betray him; but his return recalled, in the midst of love and jealousy,
the sense of respect he had for the superior character of this friend
of his early days: he knew the value of a friend--even at the moment
he yielded his faith to a flatterer. He could not at once forfeit the
esteem of the being who esteemed him most--he could not sacrifice the
interest, and as he thought, the happiness, of the man who loved
him best. The attachment his favourite had shown him, his truth, his
confiding openness of temper, the pleasure in his countenance when he
saw him first upon his return from England, all these operated on the
heart of the Prince, and no declaration of his passion had been made at
the time when the appointed interview took place between Count Albert
and the Countess Christina at her father's palace. Her friends not
doubting that her marriage was on the eve of its accomplishment, had no
scruple, even in that court of etiquette, in permitting the affianced
lovers to have as private a conference as each seemed to desire. The
lady's manner was this morning most alarmingly gracious. Count Albert
was, however, struck by a difference in her air the moment she was alone
with him, from what it had been whilst in the presence of her friends.
All that he might without vanity have interpreted as marking a desire to
please, to show him favour, and to evince her approbation, at least,
of the choice her friends had made for her, vanished the moment they
withdrew. What her motives might be, Count Altenberg could not guess;
but the hope he now felt, that she was not really inclined to
consider him with partiality, rendered it more easy to enter into that
explanation, upon which he was, at all events, resolved. With all the
delicacy due to her sex, with all the deference due to her character,
and all the softenings by which politeness can soothe and conciliate
pride, he revealed to the Countess Christina the real state of his
affections: he told her the whole truth, concluding, by repeating the
assurance of his belief, that her charms and merit would be irresistible
to any heart that was disengaged.

The lady heard him in astonishment: for this turn of fate she had been
wholly unprepared--the idea of his being attached to another had never
once presented itself to her imagination; she had never calculated on
the possibility that her alliance should be declined by any individual
of a family less than sovereign. She possessed, however, pride of
character superior to her pride of rank, and strength of mind suited to
the loftiness of her ambition. With dignity in her air and countenance,
after a pause of reflection, she replied, "Count Albert Altenberg is, I
find, equal to the high character I have heard of him: deserving of my
esteem and confidence, by that which can alone command esteem and merit
confidence--sincerity. His example has recalled me to my nobler
self, and he has, in this moment, rescued me from the labyrinth of a
diplomatist. Count Albert's sincerity I--little accustomed to imitation,
but proud to _follow_ in what is good and great--shall imitate. Know
then, sir, that my heart, like your own, is engaged: and that you may
be convinced I do not mock your ear with the semblance of confidence,
I shall, at whatever hazard to myself, trust to you my secret. My
affections have a high object--are fixed upon him, whose friend
and favourite Count Albert Altenberg deservedly is. I should scorn
myself--no throne upon earth could raise me in my own opinion, if I
could deceive or betray the man who has treated me with such sincerity."

Relieved at once by this explanation, and admiring the manner in
which it was made, mingled joy and admiration were manifest in his
countenance; and the lady forgave him the joy, in consideration of the
tribute he paid to her superiority. Admiration was a tribute he was most
willing to yield at this moment, when released from that engagement to
love, which it had been impossible for him to fulfil.

The Countess recalled his attention to her affairs and to his own.
Without his making any inquiry, she told him all that had been done, and
all that yet remained to be done, for the accomplishment of her hopes:
she had been assured, she said, by one now in the favour and private
confidence of the hereditary prince, that his inclination for her
was--painfully and with struggles, which, in her eyes, made his royal
heart worthy her conquest--suppressed by a sense of honour to his
friend.

"This conflict would now cease," Count Albert said. "It should be
his immediate care to relieve his Prince from all difficulty on his
account."

"By what means?" the Countess asked.

"Simply by informing him of the truth--as far as I am concerned. Your
secret, madam, is safe--your confidence sacred. Of all that concerns
myself--my own attachment, and the resignation of any pretensions that
might interfere with his, he shall immediately be acquainted with the
whole truth."

The Countess coloured, and repeating the words, "_the whole truth_,"
looked disconcerted, and in great perplexity replied, that Count
Albert's speaking to the Prince directly--his immediate resignation
of his pretensions--would, perhaps, defeat her plans. This was not the
course she had intended to pursue--far from that which M. de Tourville
had pointed out. After some moments' reflection, she said, "I abide by
the truth--speak to the prince--be it so: I trust to your honour and
discretion to speak to him in such terms as not to implicate me, to
commit my delicacy, or to derogate from my dignity. We shall see then
whether he loves me as I desire to be loved. If he does, he will free
me, at once, from all difficulty with my friends, for he will speak _en
prince_--and not speak in vain; if he loves me not, I need not tell you,
sir, that you are equally free. My friends shall be convinced that I
will never be the bride of any other man."

After the explanation with the Lady Christina, Count Albert lost no
time; he went instantly to the palace. In his way thither, he was met
by one of the pages, who told him the Prince desired to see him
immediately. He found the Prince alone. Advancing to meet him, with
great effort in his manner to command his emotion, the Prince said, "I
have sent for you, Count Albert, to give you a proof that the friendship
of Princes is not, in every instance, so vain a thing as it is commonly
believed to be. Mine for you has withstood strong temptation:--you come
from the Countess Christina, I believe, and can measure, better than
any one, the force of that temptation. Know, that in your absence it
has been my misfortune to become passionately enamoured of your destined
bride; but I have never, either by word or look, directly or indirectly,
infringed on what I felt to be due to your friendship and to my own
honour. Never did I give her the slightest intimation of my passion,
never attempted to take any of the advantages which my situation might
be supposed to give."

Count Albert had just received the most convincing testimony
corroborating these assertions--he was going to express his sense of the
conduct of his Prince, and to explain his own situation, but the Prince
went on speaking with the eagerness of one who fears his own resolution,
who has to say something which he dreads that he should not be able to
resume or finish, if his feelings should meet with any interruption.

"And now let me, as your friend and prince, congratulate you, Count
Albert, on your happiness; and, with the same sincerity, I request that
your marriage may not be delayed, and that you will take your bride
immediately away from my father's court. Time will, I hope, render her
presence less dangerous; time will, I hope, enable me to enjoy your
society in safety; and when it shall become my duty to govern this
state, I shall hope for the assistance of your talents and integrity,
and shall have deserved, in some degree, your attachment."

The Count, in the strongest manner, expressed his gratitude to his
Prince for these proofs of his regard, given under circumstances the
most trying to the human heart. He felt, at this instant, exquisite
pleasure in revealing to his highness the truth, in showing him that the
sacrifice he had so honourably, so generously determined to make, was
not requisite, that their affections were fixed on different objects,
that before Count Albert had any idea of the prince's attachment to the
Lady Christina, it had been his ardent wish, his determination, at all
hazards, to break off engagements which he could not fulfil.

The Prince was in rapturous joy--all his ease of manner towards his
friend returned instantly, his affection and confidence flowed in full
tide. Proud of himself, and happy in the sense of the imminent danger
from which he had escaped, he now described the late conflicts his heart
had endured with the eloquence of self-complacency, and with that sense
of relief which is felt in speaking on the most interesting of all
subjects to a faithful friend from whom a secret has been painfully
concealed. The Prince now threw open every thought, every feeling of
his mind. Count Altenberg rose higher than ever in his favour: not
the temporary favourite of the moment--the companion of pleasures--the
flatterer of present passion or caprice; but the friend in whom there is
certainty of sympathy, and security of counsel. The Prince, confiding in
Count Albert's zeal and superior powers, now took advice from him, and
made a confidant no longer of M. de Tourville. The very means which that
intriguing courtier had taken to undermine the Count thus eventually
proved the cause of establishing more firmly his credit. The plain
sincerity of the Count, and the generous magnanimity of the lady, at
once disconcerted and destroyed the artful plan of the diplomatist. M.
de Tourville's disappointment when he heard from the Countess Christina
the result of her interview with Count Albert, and the reproaches which
in that moment of vexation he could not refrain from uttering against
the lady for having departed from their plan, and having trusted to the
Count, unveiled to her the meanness of his character and the baseness of
his designs. She plainly saw that his object had been not to assist
her love, but to gratify his own hate: not merely to advance his own
fortune--that, she knew, must be the first object of every courtier--but
"to rise upon the ruins of another's fame;" and this, she determined,
should never be accomplished by her assistance, or with her connivance.
She put Count Albert on his guard against this insidious enemy.

The Count, grateful to the lady, yet biassed neither by hope of her
future favour nor by present desire to please, firm in honour and
loyalty to the Prince who asked his counsel, carefully studied the
character of the Countess Christina, to determine whether she possessed
the qualities fit for the high station to which love was impatient that
she should be elevated. When he was convinced that her character was
such as was requisite to ensure the private happiness of the prince, to
excite him to the attainment of true glory--then, and not till then, he
decidedly advised the marriage, and zealously offered any assistance in
his power to promote the union. The hereditary Prince about this time
became, by the death of his father, sole master of his actions; but it
was not prudent to begin his government with an act in open defiance of
the prejudices or customs of his country. By these customs, he could not
marry any woman under the rank of a Princess; and the Emperor had been
known to refuse conferring this rank, even on favourites of powerful
potentates, by whom he had been in the most urgent manner solicited.
Count Albert Altenberg stood high in the esteem of the Emperor, at whose
court he had spent some time; and his prince now commissioned him to go
to Vienna, and endeavour to move the Emperor to concede this point in
his favour. This embassy was a new and terrible delay to the Count's
anxious desire of returning to England. But he had offered his services,
and he gave them generously. He repaired to Vienna, and persevering
through many difficulties, at length succeeded in obtaining for the
Countess the rank of Princess. The attachment of the Prince was then
publicly declared--the marriage was solemnized--all approved of the
Prince's choice--all--except the envious, who never approve of the
happy. Count Albert received, both from the Prince and Princess, the
highest marks of esteem and favour. M. de Tourville, detected and
despised, retired from court in disgrace and in despair.

Immediately after his marriage, the Prince declared his intention of
appointing Count Albert Altenberg his prime minister; but before he
entered on the duties of his office and the very moment that he could
be spared by his Prince, he asked and obtained permission to return to
England, to the lady on whom his affections were fixed. The old Count,
his father, satisfied with the turn which affairs had taken, and
gratified in his utmost ambition by seeing his son minister of state,
now willingly permitted him to follow his own inclination in the choice
of a wife. "And," concluded Count Albert, "my father rejoices that my
heart is devoted to an Englishwoman: having himself married an English
lady, he knows, from experience, how to appreciate the domestic merits
of the ladies of England; he is prepossessed in their favour. He agrees,
indeed, with foreigners of every nation, who have had opportunities of
judging, and who all allow that--next to their own countrywomen--the
English are the most charming and the most amiable women in the world."

When the Count had finished, and had pronounced this panegyric of a
nation, while he thought only of an individual, he paused, anxious to
know what effect his narrative had produced on Mr. and Mrs. Percy.

He was gratified both by their words and looks, which gave him full
assurance of their entire satisfaction.

"And since he had done them the honour of appealing to their opinion,
they might be permitted to add their complete approbation of every part
of his conduct, in the difficult circumstances in which he had been
placed. They were fully sensible of the high honour that such a man as
Count Altenberg conferred on their daughter by his preference. As to the
rest, they must refer him to Caroline herself." Mr. Percy said with a
grave voice, but with a smile from which the Count augured well, "that
even for the most advantageous and, in his opinion, desirable connexion,
he would not influence his daughter's inclination.--Caroline must
decide."

The Count, with all the persuasive tenderness and energy of truth and
love, pleaded his own cause, and was heard by Caroline with a modest,
dignified, ingenuous sensibility, which increased his passion. Her
partiality was now heightened by her conviction of the strength and
steadiness of his attachment; but whilst she acknowledged how high he
stood in her esteem, and did not attempt to conceal the impression
he had made on her heart, yet he saw that she dreaded to yield to the
passion which must at last require from her the sacrifice of her home,
country, friends, and parents. As long as the idea of being united to
him was faint and distant, so was the fear of the sacrifices that
union might demand; but now, the hope, the fear, the certainty, at once
pressed on her heart with the most agitating urgency. The Count as far
as possible relieved her mind by the assurance, that though his duty
to his Prince and his father, that though all his private and public
connexions and interests obliged him to reside some time in Germany,
yet that he could occasionally visit England, that he should seize every
opportunity of visiting a country he preferred to all others; and, for
his own sake, he should cultivate the friendship of her family, as each
individual was in different ways suited to his taste and stood high in
his esteem.

Caroline listened with fond anxiety to these hopes: she was willing
to believe in promises which she was convinced were made with entire
sincerity; and when her affections had been wrought to this point, when
her resolution was once determined, she never afterwards tormented the
man to whom she was attached, with wavering doubts and scruples.

Count Altenberg's promise to his prince obliged him to return at an
appointed time. Caroline wished that time had been more distant; she
would have delighted in spending the spring-time of love in the midst
of those who had formed till now all the happiness of her life--with
her parents, to whom she owed every thing, to whom her gratitude was
as warm, as strong, as her affection--with her beloved sister, who had
sympathized so tenderly in all her sorrow, and who ardently wished to
have some time allowed to enjoy her happiness. Caroline felt all this,
but she felt too deeply to display feeling: sensible of what the duty
and honour of Count Altenberg demanded, she asked for no delay.

The first letters that were written to announce her intended marriage
were to Mrs. Hungerford and to Lady Jane Granville. And it may be
recorded as a fact rather unusual, that Caroline was so fortunate as to
satisfy all her friends: not to offend one of her relations, by telling
any too soon, or too late, of her intentions. In fact, she made no
secret, no mystery, where none was required by good sense or propriety.
Nor did she communicate it under a strict injunction of secrecy to
twenty friends, who were afterwards each to be angry with the other for
having, or not having, told that of which they were forbidden to speak.
The order of precedency in Caroline's confidential communications was
approved of even by all the parties concerned.

Mrs. Hungerford was at Pembroke with her nieces when she received
Caroline's letter: her answer was as follows:

"MY DEAR CHILD,

"I am ten years younger since I read your letter, therefore do not be
surprised at the quickness of my motions--I shall be with you at the
Hills, in town, or wherever you are, as soon as it is possible, after
you let me know when and where I can embrace you and our dear Count. At
the marriage of my niece, Lady Mary Barclay, your mother will remember
that I prayed to Heaven I might live to see my beloved Caroline united
to the man of her choice--I am grateful that this blessing, this
completion of all my earthly hopes and happiness, has been granted to
me.

"M. ELIZABETH HUNGERFORD."

The answer of Lady Jane Granville came next.

"_Confidential_.

"This is the last _confidential_ letter I shall ever be able to write
to you--for a married woman's letters, you know, or you will soon
know, become, like all the rest of her property, subject to her
husband--excepting always the secrets of which she was possessed before
marriage, which do not go into the common stock, if she be a woman of
honour--so I am safe with you, Caroline; and any erroneous opinion I
might have formed, or any hasty expressions I may have let drop, about a
certain Count, you will bury in oblivion, and never let me see you look
even as if you recollected to have heard them.

"You were right, my dear, in that whole business--I was wrong; and all
I can say for myself is, that I was wrong with the best possible
intentions. I now congratulate you with as sincere joy, as if this
charming match had been made by my advice, under my _chaperonage_, and
by favour of that _patronage of fashion_, of which I know your father
thinks that both my _head_ and _heart_ are full; there he is only half
right, after all: so do not let him be too proud. I will not allow that
my heart is ever wrong, certainly not where you are concerned.

"I am impatient, my dear Caroline, to see your Count Altenberg. I heard
him most highly spoken of yesterday by a Polish nobleman, whom I met at
dinner at the Duke of Greenwich's. Is it true, that the Count is to be
prime minister of the Prince of ----? the Duke of Greenwich asked me
this question, and I promised I would let his grace know from _the best
possible_ authority--but I did not _commit_ you.

"And now, my dear, for my own interest. If you have really and cordially
forgiven me, for having so rashly said, upon a late occasion, that
I would never forgive you, prove to me your placability and your
sincerity--use your all-powerful influence to obtain for me a favour on
which I have set my heart. Will you prevail on all your house to come
up to town directly, and take possession of mine?--Count Altenberg, you
say, has business to transact with ministers: whilst this is going on,
and whilst the lawyers are settling preliminaries, where can you all be
better than with me? I hope I shall be able to make Mr. and Mrs. Percy
feel as much at home, in one hour's time, as I found myself the first
evening after my arrival at the Hills some years ago.

"I know the Hungerfords will press you to go to them, and Alfred and
Mrs. A. Percy will plead _nearest of kin_--I can only throw myself upon
your generosity. The more inducements you have to go to other friends,
the more I shall feel gratified and obliged, if you favour me with this
proof of your preference and affection. Indulge me, my dear Caroline,
perhaps for the last time, with your company, of which, believe me, I
have, though a woman of the world, sense and feeling sufficient fully to
appreciate the value. Yours (at all events), ever and affectionately,

"J. GRANVILLE.

"_Spring Gardens--Tuesday_.

"P. S.--I hope your father is of my opinion, that weddings,
especially among persona of a certain rank of life, ought always to be
_public_,--attended by the friends and connexions of the families, and
conducted with something of the good old aristocratic formality, pomp,
and state, of former times."

Lady Jane Granville's polite and urgent request was granted. Caroline
and all her family had pleasure in showing Lady Jane that they felt
grateful for her kindness.

Mr. Temple obtained permission from Lord Oldborough to accompany the
Percys to town; and it was settled that Rosamond and Caroline should be
married on the same day.

But the morning after their arrival in London, Mr. Temple appeared
with a countenance very unlike that which had been seen the night
before--Hope and joy had fled.--All pale and in consternation!--Rosamond
was ready to die with terror. She was relieved when he declared that the
evil related only to his fortune. The place that had been promised to
him was given; indeed--the word of promise was kept to the ear--but by
some management, either of Lord Skreene's or Lord Skrimpshire's, the
place had been _saddled_ with a pension to the widow of the gentleman
by whom it had been previously held, and the amount of this pension was
such as to reduce the profits of the place to an annual income by
no means sufficient to secure independence, or even competence, to a
married man. Mr. Temple knew that when the facts were stated to Lord
Oldborough, his lordship would, by his representations to the highest
authority, obtain redress; but the secretary was unwilling to implicate
him in this disagreeable affair, unwilling to trouble his tranquillity
again with court intrigues, especially, as Mr. Temple said, where his
own personal interest alone was concerned--at any rate this business
must delay his marriage. Count Altenberg could not possibly defer the
day named for his wedding--despatches from the continent pressed the
absolute necessity of his return. Revolutionary symptoms had again
appeared in the city--his prince could not dispense with his services.
His honour was at stake.

Mr. Temple did not attempt or pretend to bear his disappointment like
a philosopher: he bore it like a lover, that is to say, very ill.
Rosamond, poor Rosamond, rallied him with as much gaiety as she could
command with a very heavy heart.

After a little time for reflection, her good sense, which, when called
upon to act, never failed to guide her conduct, induced her to exert
decisive influence to prevent Mr. Temple from breaking out into violent
complaints against those in power, by whom he had been ill-treated.

The idea of being married on the same day with her sister, she said,
after all, was a mere childish fancy, for which no solid advantage
should be hazarded; therefore she conjured her lover, not in heat of
passion to precipitate things, but patiently to wait--to return and
apply to Lord Oldborough, if he should find that the representations
he had already made to Lord Skrimpshire failed of effect. With much
reluctance, Mr. Temple submitted to postpone the day promised for his
marriage; but both Mr. and Mrs. Percy so strongly supported Rosamond's
arguments, that he was compelled to be prudent. Rosamond now thought
only of her sister's approaching nuptials. Mrs. Hungerford and Mrs.
Mortimer arrived in town, and all Mr. and Mrs. Percy's troops of friends
gathered round them for this joyful occasion.

Lady Jane Granville was peculiarly happy in finding that Mr. Percy
agreed with her in opinion that marriages ought to be publicly
solemnized; and rejoiced that, when Caroline should be led to the altar
by the man of her choice, she would feel that choice sanctioned by
the approbation of her assembled family and friends. Lady Jane justly
observed, that it was advantageous to mark as strongly as possible the
difference between marriages with consent of friends, and clandestine
unions, which from their very nature must always be as private as
possible.

If some little love of show, and some aristocratic pride of family,
mixed with Lady Jane's good sense upon this as upon most other
occasions, the truly philosophic will be inclined to pardon her; for
they best know how much of all the principles which form the strength
and happiness of society, depends upon mixed motives.

Mr. and Mrs. Percy, grateful to Lady Jane, and willing to indulge her
affection in its own way, gratified her with permission to arrange the
whole ceremonial of the wedding.

Now that Rosamond's marriage was postponed, she claimed first right to
be her sister's bridemaid; Lady Florence Pembroke, Mrs. Hungerford's
niece, had made her request, and obtained Caroline's promise, to be the
second; and these were all that Caroline desired to have: but Lady Jane
Granville evidently wished for the honour and glory of Lady Frances
Arlington for a third, because she was niece to the Duke of Greenwich;
and besides, as Lady Jane pleaded, "though a little selfish, she really
would have been generous, if she had not been spoiled: to be sure,
she cared in general for no one but herself; yet she absolutely showed
particular interest about Caroline. _Besides_, her ladyship had set her
heart upon the matter, and never would forgive a disappointment of a
fancy." Her ladyship's request was granted. Further than this affair of
the three bridemaids we know not--there is no record concerning who
were the bride-men. But before we come to the wedding-day, we think it
necessary to mention, for the satisfaction of the prudent part of the
world, that the settlements were duly signed, sealed, and delivered, in
the presence of proper witnesses.

At the moment of recording this fact, we are well aware that as much as
we shall gain in the esteem of the old, we shall lose in the opinion of
the young. We must therefore be satisfied with the nod of approbation
from parents, and must endure the smile of scorn from lovers. We know
that

  "Jointure, portion, gold, estate,
    Houses, household-stuff, or land,
   The low conveniences of fate,
    Are Greek, no lovers understand."

We regret that we cannot gratify some of our courteous readers with a
detailed account of the marriage of Caroline and Count Altenberg, with a
description of the wedding-dresses, or a list of the company, who, after
the ceremony, partook of an elegant collation at Lady Jane Granville's
house in Spring-Gardens. We lament that we cannot even furnish a
paragraph in honour of Count Altenberg's equipage.

After all their other friends had made their congratulations, had taken
leave of Caroline, and had departed, Mrs. Hungerford and Mrs. Mortimer
still lingered.

"I know, my love," said Mrs. Hungerford, "I ought to resign you, in
these last moments, to your parents, your brothers, your own Rosamond;
yet I have some excuse for my selfishness--they will see you again, it
is to be hoped, often--But I!--that is not in the course of nature:
the blessing I scarcely could have expected to live to enjoy has been
granted to me. And now that I have seen you united to one worthy of you,
one who knows your value, I am content--I am grateful. Farewell, again
and again, my beloved Caroline, may every--"

Tears spoke the rest. Turning from Caroline, she leaned on Count
Altenberg's arm; as he conducted her to her carriage, "You are a happy
man, Count Altenberg," said she: "forgive me, if I am not able to
congratulate you as I ought--Daughter Mortimer, you know my heart--speak
for me, if you can."

Count Altenberg was more touched by this strong affection for Caroline
than he could have been by any congratulatory compliments to himself.
After the departure of Mrs. Hungerford and Mrs. Mortimer, came the
separation so much dreaded by all the family, for which all stood
prepared. Despising and detesting the display of sensibility, they had
fortified themselves for this moment with all their resolution, and each
struggled to repress their own feelings.

Count Altenberg had delayed till the last moment. It was now necessary
that they should set out. Caroline, flushed crimson to the very temples
one instant, and pale the next, commanded with the utmost effort her
emotion; Rosamond, unable to repress hers, clung to her sister weeping.
Caroline's lips quivered with a vain attempt to speak--she could only
embrace Rosamond repeatedly, and then her mother. Her father pressed her
to his bosom--blessed her--and then drawing her arm within his, led her
to her husband.

As they passed through the hall, the faithful housekeeper, and the old
steward, who had come from the country to the marriage, pressed forward,
in hopes of a last look. Caroline stopped, and took leave of each. She
was able, though with difficulty, to speak, and she thanked them for all
the services and kindness she had received from them from childhood to
this hour: then her father led her to the carriage.

"It is the order of nature, my dear child," said he; "we are fond but
not selfish parents; your happiness is gained by the sacrifice, and we
can part with you."



CHAPTER XL.


Some sage moralist has observed, that even in the accomplishment of our
most ardent wishes in this world, there is always some circumstance that
disappoints our expectations, or mixes somewhat of pain with the joy.
"This is perfectly true," thought Rosamond. "How often have I wished for
Caroline's marriage with Count Altenberg--and now she is married--really
married--and gone!"

It had passed with the rapidity of a dream: the hurry of joy, the
congratulations--all, all was over; and in sad silence, Rosamond felt
the reality of her loss--by Rosamond doubly felt at this moment, when
all her own affairs were in great uncertainty. Mr. Temple was still
unable to obtain the performance of the promise which had been made him
of _remuneration_ and _competent provision_. He had gone through,
in compliance with the advice of his friends, the mortification of
reiterating vain memorials and applications to the Duke of Greenwich,
Lord Skrimpshire, Lord Skreene, and Mr. Secretary Cope. The only thing
which Mr. Temple refused to do, was to implicate Lord Oldborough, or to
disturb him on the subject. He had spent some weeks with his old master
in his retirement without once adverting to his own difficulties, still
hoping that on his return to town a promise would be fulfilled, which
Lord Skreene had given him, that "the affair should in his absence be
settled to his satisfaction." But on his return to town, his lordship
found means of evasion and delay, and threw the blame on others; the
course of memorials and representations was to be recommenced. Mr.
Temple's pride revolted, his love was in despair--and frequently, in
the bitterness of disappointment, he reiterated to his friend Alfred his
exclamations of regret and self-reproach, for having quitted, from pique
and impatience of spirit, a profession where his own perseverance and
exertions would infallibly have rendered him by this time independent.
Rosamond saw with sympathy and anguish the effect which these feelings
of self-reproach, and hope delayed, produced on Mr. Temple's spirits
and health. His sensibility, naturally quick, and rendered more acute by
disappointment, seemed now continually to draw from all characters and
events, and even from every book he opened, a moral against himself,
some new illustration or example, which convinced him more and more
of the folly of being a dependant on the great. He was just in this
repentant mood, when one morning, at Mrs. Alfred Percy's, Rosamond heard
him sigh deeply several times, as he was reading with great attention.
She could not forbear asking what it was that touched him so much. He
put the book into her hands, pointing to the following passage. "The
whole of this letter[1]," said he, "is applicable to me and excellent;
but this really seems as if it had been written for me or by me."

[Footnote 1: Letter from Mr. Williams (secretary to Lord Chancellor
West) to Mrs. Williams.]

She read,

"I was a young man, and did not think that men were to die, or to be
turned out . . . What was to be done now?--No money, my former patron
in disgrace! friends that were in favour not able to serve me, or not
willing; that is, cold, timid, careful of themselves, and indifferent to
a man whose disappointments made him less agreeable . . . I languished
on for three long melancholy years, sometimes a little elated; a smile,
a kind hint, a downright promise, dealt out to me from those in whom I
had placed some silly hopes, now and then brought a little refreshment,
but that never lasted long; and to say nothing of the agony of being
reduced to talk of one's own misfortunes and one's wants, and that
basest and lowest of all conditions, the slavery of borrowing, to
support an idle useless being--my time, for those three years,
was unhappy beyond description. What would I have given then for a
profession! . . . any useful profession is infinitely better than a
thousand patrons."

To this Rosamond entirely acceded, and admired the strong good sense
of the whole letter; but she observed to Mr. Temple, that it was very
unjust, not only to himself, but what was of much more consequence,
to _her_, to say that all this applied exactly to his case. "Did Mr.
Temple," she asked, "mean to assert that she could esteem a man who was
_an idle useless being_, a mere dependant on great men, a follower of
courts? Could such a man have recommended himself to her father? Could
such a man ever have been the chosen friend of her brother Alfred?

"It was true," she acknowledged, "that this friend of her brother had
made one mistake in early life; but who is there that can say that he
has not in youth or age committed a single error? Mr. Temple had done
one silly thing, to be sure, in quarrelling with his profession; but he
had suffered, and had made amends for this afterwards, by persevering
application to literature. There he had obtained the success he
deserved. Gentlemen might sigh and shake their heads, but could
any gentleman deny this? Could it be denied that Mr. Temple had
distinguished himself in literature? Could any person deny that
a political pamphlet of his recommended him to the notice of Lord
Oldborough, one of the ablest statesmen in England, who made him his
secretary, and whose esteem and confidence he afterwards acquired by his
merit, and continued, in place and out, to enjoy?--Will any gentleman
deny this?" Rosamond added, that, "in defence of _her brother's friend_,
she could not help observing, that a man who had obtained the esteem of
some of the first persons of their day, who had filled an employment of
trust, that of secretary to a minister, with fidelity and credit, who
had published three celebrated political pamphlets, and two volumes
of moral and philosophical disquisitions, which, as she had heard the
bookseller say, were become _stock books_, could not deserve to be
called an _idle useless being_. To be born and die would not make all
his history--no, such a man would at least be secure of
honourable mention in the Biographia Britannica as a
writer--moral--political--metaphysical."

But while Rosamond thus did her utmost to support the spirits of her
lover, her own began to fail; her vivacity was no longer natural: she
felt every day more and more the want of her sister's sympathy and
strength of mind.

Letters from abroad gave no hope of Caroline's return--delay after delay
occurred. No sooner had quiet been restored to the country, than
Count Altenberg's father was taken ill, and his illness, after long
uncertainty, terminated fatally.

After the death of his father, the Count was involved in a variety
of domestic business, which respect for the memory of his parent, and
affection for surviving relations, could not allow him to leave. When
all this had been arranged, and when all seemed preparing for their
return to England, just when Rosamond hoped that the very next letter
would announce the day when they would set out, the French declared
war, the French troops were actually in motion--invasion was hourly
expected--it was necessary to prepare for the defence of the country.
At such a moment the Count could not quit his country or his Prince. And
there was Caroline, in the midst of a country torn by civil war, and in
the midst of all the horrors of revolution.

About this time, to increase the anxiety of the Percy family, they
learned that Godfrey was taken prisoner on his way home from the
West Indies. The transport, in which his division of the regiment had
embarked had been separated from her convoy by a gale of wind in the
night, and it was apprehended that she had been taken by the enemy.
Godfrey's family hoped for a moment that this might be a false alarm;
but after enduring the misery of reading contradictory paragraphs and
contests of the newspaper writers with each other for several successive
days, it was at last too clearly established and confirmed, by official
intelligence, that the transport was taken by a Dutch ship.

In the midst of these accumulating causes of anxiety, trials of another
kind were preparing for this family, as if Fortune was determined to do
her utmost to ruin and humble those who had despised her worshippers,
struggled against her influence, and risen in the world in defiance of
her power. To explain the danger which now awaited them, we must return
to their old family enemy, Sir Robert Percy. Master of Percy-hall, and
of all that wealth could give, he could not enjoy his prosperity, but
was continually brooding on plans of avarice and malice.

Since his marriage with Miss Falconer, Sir Robert Percy's establishment
had become so expensive as to fret his temper continually. His tenants
had had more and more reason to complain of their landlord, who, when
any of his farms were out of lease, raised his rents exorbitantly, to
make himself amends, as he said, for the extravagance of his wife. The
tenants, who had ever disliked him as the successor and enemy of their
_own_ good and beloved landlord, now could not and attempted not to
conceal their aversion. This renewed and increased the virulence of
his dislike to _our_ branch of the Percys, who, as he knew, were always
compared _with him and his_, and seemed to be for ever present to the
provoking memories of these tenants.

Sir Robert was disappointed hitherto in the hope for which he married,
the hope of an heir, who should prevent the estate from returning to
those from whom it had been wrested by his arts. Envy at seeing the
rising and prosperous state of _those Percys_, who, in spite of their
loss of fortune, had made their way up again through all obstacles,
combined to increase his antipathy to his relations. His envy had been
exasperated by the marriage of Caroline to Count Altenberg, and by the
high reputation of her brother. He heard their praises till his soul
sickened; and he was determined to be their destruction. He found a
willing and able assistant in Sharpe the attorney, and they soon devised
a plan worthy of their conjoined malice. At the time when Sir Robert had
come into possession of Percy-hall, after the suit had been decided in
his favour, he had given up all claim to the rents which Mr. Percy had
received during the years which he had held the estate, and had accepted
in lieu of them the improvements which Mr. Percy had made on the
estate, and a considerable quantity of family plate and a collection
of pictures. But now Sir Robert wrote to Mr. Percy without adverting to
this agreement, and demanding from him the amount of all the rents which
he had received, deducting only a certain sum on his own valuation for
improvements. The plate and pictures, which he had left at Percy-hall,
Sir Robert said he was willing to take in lieu of the debt; but an
immense balance against Mr. Percy remained. In technical phrase, we
believe, he warned Mr. Percy that Sharpe his attorney had directions
to commence a suit against him for the _mesne rents_. The amount of the
claim was such as it was absolutely impossible that Mr. Percy could pay,
even by the sale of every thing he possessed in the world. If this claim
were established, his family would be reduced to beggary, he must
end his days in a prison, or fly his country, and take refuge in some
foreign land. To this last extremity Sir Robert hoped to reduce him. In
reply, however, to his insolent letter, he was surprised, by receiving
from Mr. Percy a calm and short reply, simply saying that his son Alfred
would take the proper steps to bring the affair to trial, and that he
must submit to the decision of the law, whatever that might be. Sir
Robert was mortified to the quick by finding that he could not extort
from his victim one concession or complaint, nor one intemperate
expression.

But however calm and dignified was Mr. Percy's conduct, it could not
be without the greatest anxiety that he awaited the event of the trial
which was to decide his future fate and that of his whole family.

The length of time which must elapse before the trial could come on was
dreadful. Suspense was the evil they found most difficult to endure.
Suspense may be easily borne by persons of an indolent character, who
never expect to rule their destiny by their own genius; but to those who
feel themselves possessed of energy and abilities to surmount obstacles
and to brave dangers, it is torture to remain passive--to feel that
prudence, virtue, genius avail them not--that while rapid ideas pass in
their imagination, time moves with an unaltered pace, and compels
them to wait, along with the herd of vulgar mortals, for knowledge of
futurity.



CHAPTER XLI.


What has become all this time of the Falconer family?

Since the marriage of Miss Falconer with Sir Robert Percy, all
intercourse between the Falconers and our branch of the Percy family had
ceased; but one morning, when Alfred was alone, intently considering his
father's case, and the legal difficulties which threatened him, he was
surprised by a visit from Commissioner Falconer. The commissioner looked
thin, pale, and wretched. He began by condoling with Alfred on their
mutual family misfortunes. Alfred received this condolence with
politeness, but with a proud consciousness that, notwithstanding his
father's present difficulties, and the total loss of fortune with which
he was threatened, neither his father, nor any individual in his
family, would change places with any one of the Falconers; since nothing
dishonourable could be imputed to Mr. Percy, and since none of his
misfortunes had been occasioned by any imprudence of his own.

A deep sigh from the commissioner, at the moment these thoughts were
passing in Alfred's mind, excited his compassion, for he perceived that
the same reflections had occurred to him.

After taking an immoderate quantity of snuff, the commissioner went on,
and disclaimed, in strong terms, all knowledge of his son-in-law Sir
Robert's cruel conduct to his cousin. The commissioner said that Sir
Robert Percy had, since his marriage with Bell Falconer, behaved
very ill, and had made his wife show great ingratitude to her own
family--that in Mrs. Falconer's distress, when she and Georgiana
were most anxious to retire from town for a short time, and when Mrs.
Falconer had naturally looked to the house of her married daughter as a
sure asylum, the doors of Percy-hall had been actually shut against her;
Sir Robert declaring, that he would not be involved in the difficulties
and disgrace of a family who had taken him in to marry a girl without
any fortune.

Alfred was perfectly convinced, both from the cordial hatred with which
the commissioner now spoke of his son-in-law, and from Mr. Falconer's
disposition, that he had nothing to do with the cruel measures which
Sir Robert had taken against his father. Commissioner Falconer was not
a malevolent, but a weak man--incapable of being a disinterested
friend--equally incapable of becoming a malicious enemy. The
commissioner now proceeded to his own affairs, and to the business of
his visit. He said that he had been disappointed in all his hopes from
the Greenwich party--that when _that sad business of Mrs. Falconer's
came out_, they had seized this as a pretence for _dropping_ him
altogether--that when they had, by Lord Oldborough's retreat from
office, obtained every thing they wanted, and had no more occasion for
assistance or information, they had shamefully forgotten, or disowned,
all their former promises to Cunningham. They had refused to accredit
him at the court of Denmark, refused even to defray the expenses of his
journey thither, which, in the style he had thought it necessary for an
ambassador to travel in, had been considerable. Upon the hopes held out,
he had taken a splendid house in Copenhagen, and had every day, for some
weeks, been in expectation of the arrival of his credentials. When it
was publicly known that another ambassador was appointed, Cunningham's
creditors became clamorous; he contrived to escape from Copenhagen in
the night, and was proceeding _incog._ in his journey homewards, when he
was stopped at one of the small frontier towns, and was there actually
detained in prison for his debts.

The poor commissioner produced his son's letter, giving an account
of his detention, and stating that, unless the money he had raised in
Copenhagen was paid, there was no hope of his being liberated--he must
perish in a foreign jail.

We spare the reader the just reproaches which the unhappy father, at
this moment, uttered against the son's duplicity. It was his fate, he
said, to be ruined by those for whom he had been labouring and planning,
night and day, for so many years. "And now," concluded Mr. Falconer,
"here am I, reduced to sell almost the last acre of my paternal
estate--I shall literally have nothing left but Falconer-court, and
my annuity!--Nothing!--But it must be done, ill as he has used me, and
impossible as it is, ever, even at this crisis, to get the truth from
him--I must pay the money: he is in jail, and cannot be liberated
without this sum. I have here, you see, under the hand of the chief
magistrate, sufficient proof--I will not, however, trouble you, my dear
sir, with showing more of these letters--only it is a comfort to me to
speak to one who will listen with some sympathy--Ah! sir, when out of
place!--out of favour!--selling one's estate!--how people change!--But I
am taking up your time. Since these lands are to be sold, the sooner the
better. Your father, you know, is trustee to my marriage-settlements,
and, I believe, his consent, his signature, will be necessary--will it
not?--I am no lawyer--I really am not clear what _is_ necessary--and my
solicitor, Mr. Sharpe, I have dismissed: perhaps you will allow me to
put the business into your hands?"

Alfred undertook it, and kindly told the commissioner that if he would
send him his papers, he would, without putting him to any expense, look
them over carefully--have all the necessary releases drawn--and make his
title clear to any purchaser who should apply.

The commissioner was full of gratitude for this friendly offer, and
immediately begged that he might leave his title-deeds. Accordingly
the servant was desired to bring in the box which he had left in the
carriage. The commissioner then rose to take leave, but Alfred begged he
would stay till he had written a list of the deeds, as he made it a rule
never to take charge of any papers, without giving a receipt for them.
The commissioner thought this "a superfluous delicacy between friends
and relatives;" but Alfred observed that relations would, perhaps,
oftener continue friends, if in matters of business, they took care
always to be as exact as if they were strangers.

The commissioner looked at his watch--said he was in haste--he was going
to wait upon Lord Somebody, from whom, in spite of all his experience,
he expected something.

"You will find a list of the deeds, I have a notion," said he, "in the
box, Mr. Alfred Percy, and you need only sign it--that will be quite
sufficient."

"When I have compared the papers with the list, I will sign it," said
Alfred: "my clerk and I will do it as quickly as possible. Believe me,
you cannot be in greater haste than I am."

The commissioner, secretly cursing Alfred's accuracy, and muttering
something of the necessity for his own punctuality, was obliged to
submit. He sat down--the clerk was sent for--the box was opened.
The list of the papers was, as Alfred found, drawn out by Buckhurst
Falconer; and the commissioner now recollected the time. "Just when poor
Buckhurst," said the father, with a sigh, "was arguing with me against
going into the church--at that time. I remember, he was desperately in
love with your sister Caroline."

"Why, in truth," said Alfred, smiling, as he read over the scrawled
list, "this looks a little as if it were written by a man in
love--here's another reason for our comparing the papers and the list."

"Well, well, I took it all upon trust--I am no lawyer--I never looked
at them--never opened the box, and am very sorry to be obliged to do it
now."

The essential care, either of papers or estate, the commissioner had
evermore neglected, while he had all his life been castle-building, or
pursuing some phantom of fortune at court. Whilst Alfred was comparing
the papers and the list, the commissioner went on talking of the
marriage of Caroline with Count Altenberg, asking when they expected
them to return. It was possible that Count Altenberg might be moved to
make some remonstrance in favour of Cunningham; and a word or two from
him to the Duke of Greenwich would do the business. The commissioner
longed to hint this to Alfred, but he was so intent upon these bundles
of parchment, that till every one of them was counted, it would be in
vain to make that attempt: so the commissioner impatiently stood by,
while the clerk went on calling over the papers, and Alfred, in equal
strains, replying. "Thank Heaven!" said he to himself, "they have got to
the last bundle."

"Bundle eighteen," cried the clerk.

"Bundle eighteen," replied Alfred. "How many numbers does it contain?"

"Six," said the clerk.

"Six!--no, seven, if you please," said Alfred.

"But six in the list, sir."

"I will read them over," said Alfred. "No. 1. Deed of assignment to
Filmer Griffin, Esq. No. 2. Deed of mortgage to Margaret Simpson, widow.
No. 3. Deed of lease and release. No. 4. Lease for a year--"

"No. 4. no such thing--stop, sir--Deed!"

Alfred gave one look at the paper, and starting up, snatched it from the
hands of his clerk, with an exclamation of joy, signed the receipt for
the commissioner, put it into his hands, locked the box, and sat down to
write a letter, all with such rapidity that the commissioner was struck
with astonishment and curiosity. Notwithstanding all his impatience to
be punctual to his own engagement, he now stood fixed to the spot,
and at last began with "My dear Mr. Alfred Percy, may I ask what has
happened?"

"My dear commissioner, I have found it--I have found it--the long-lost
deed, and I am writing to my father, to tell him. Excuse me--excuse me
if I am not able to explain farther at this moment."

The commissioner understood it all too quickly. He saw how it had
happened through Buckhurst's carelessness. At the time Buckhurst had
been packing up these papers, some of Mr. Percy's had been lying on the
table--Buckhurst had been charged not to mix them with his father's; but
he was in love, and did not know what he was doing.

The commissioner began three sentences, and left them all unfinished,
while Alfred did not hear one word of them: the first was an apology for
Buckhurst, the second a congratulation for his good cousin Percy, the
third was an exclamation that came from his heart. "Good Heavens! but
what will become of my daughter Bell and Sir Robert? I do not comprehend
quite, my dear sir."

Perceiving that he was not heard by Alfred, the commissioner took up
his hat and departed, determining that he would inquire farther from Sir
Robert's solicitor concerning the probable consequences of the recovery
of this deed.

Alfred had no sooner finished his joyful letter to his father than he
wrote to Sir Robert Percy, informing him of the recovery of the deed,
and letting him know that he was ready to show it to whomsoever Sir
Robert would send to his house to examine it. He made this offer to put
an end at once to all doubts. He trusted, he said, that when Sir Robert
should be satisfied of the existence and identity of the deed, he would
stop his present proceedings for the recovery of the _mesne rents_, and
that he would, without obliging his father to have farther recourse to
law, restore to him the Percy estate.

To this letter no answer was received for some time. At length Mr.
Sharpe called on Alfred, and begged to see the deed. He was permitted
to examine it in Alfred's presence. He noted down the date, names of
the witnesses, and some other particulars, of which, he observed, it was
necessary he should inform Sir Robert, before he could be satisfied as
to the identity of the conveyance. Sharpe was particularly close and
guarded in his looks and words during this interview; would neither
admit nor deny that he was satisfied, and went away leaving nothing
certain, but that he would write to Sir Robert. Alfred thought he saw
that they meant to avoid giving an answer, in order to keep possession
some months longer, till another term. He took all the necessary steps
to bring the matter to trial immediately, without waiting for any answer
from Sir Robert. No letter came from him, but Alfred received from his
solicitor the following note:

"Sir,

"I am directed by Sir Robert Percy to acquaint you, in reply to yours of
the 20th instant, that conceiving his title to the Percy estate to be
no way affected by the instrument to which you allude therein, he cannot
withdraw his present suit for the _mesne rents_ that had been already
received, if you proceed in an ejectment for the recovery of the
aforesaid estate.

"I am, sir,

"Your humble servant,

"A. Sharpe.

"_Wednesday._"

Alfred was surprised and alarmed by this letter. It had never occurred
to him as possible, that Sir Robert and his counsel would attempt to
stand a new trial in the face of this recovered deed; this was beyond
all he could have conceived even from their effrontery and villany. He
consulted Mr. Friend, who, after considering Sharpe's letter, could
not devise what defence they intended to make, as the deed, upon most
accurate examination, appeared duly executed, according to the provision
of the statute of frauds. Upon the whole, Mr. Friend was of opinion that
the letter was meant merely to alarm the plaintiffs, and to bring
them to offer or consent to a compromise. In this opinion Alfred was
confirmed the next day, by an interview with Sharpe, accidental on
Alfred's part, but designed and prepared by the solicitor, who watched
Alfred as he was coming out of the courts, and dogged him till he parted
from some gentlemen with whom he was walking--then joining him, he said,
in a voice which Mr. Allscrip might have envied for its power of setting
sense at defiance, "I am happy, Mr. Alfred Percy, to chance to see you
to-day; for, with a view to put an end to litigation and difficulties, I
had a few words to suggest--premising that I do not act or speak now, in
any wise, as or for Sir Robert Percy, or with reference to his being my
client, or as a solicitor in this cause, be it understood, but merely
and solely as one gentleman to another, upon honour--and not bringing
forward any idea to be taken advantage of hereafter, as tending to any
thing in the shape of an offer to compromise, which, in a legal point of
view, you know, sir, I could not be warranted to hazard for my client,
and of consequence, which I hereby declare, I do not in any degree
mean."

"Would you be so good, Mr. Sharpe, to state at once what you do mean?
for I confess I do not, in any degree, understand you."

"Why, then, sir, what I mean is, simply, and candidly, and frankly,
this: that if I could, without compromising the interest of my client,
which, as an honest man, I am bound not to do or appear to do, I should
wish to put an end to this litigation between relations; and though your
father thinks me his enemy, would convince him to the contrary, if
he would allow me, and could point out the means of shortening this
difference between relations, which has occasioned so much scandal; and
moreover, could devise an accommodation, which might be agreeable
to both parties, and save you a vast deal of trouble and vexation;
possession," added he, laughing, "being nine points of the law."

Mr. Sharpe paused, as if hoping that something would now be said by
Alfred, that might direct him whether to advance or recede; but Alfred
only observed, that probably the end Mr. Sharpe proposed to himself by
speaking was to make himself understood, and that this desirable end he
had not yet attained.

"Why, sir, in some cases, one cannot venture to make one's self
understood any way, but by inuendoes."

"Then, good morning to you, sir--you and I can never understand one
another."

"Pardon me, sir, unless you are in a hurry," cried Mr. Sharpe, catching
Alfred by the button, "which (when so large an estate, to which you
might eventually succeed, is in question) you are too much a man of
business to be--in one word, then, for I won't detain you another
moment, and I throw myself open, and trust to your honour--"

"You do me honour."

"Put a parallel case. You, plaintiff A----, I, defendant B----. I
should, if I were A----, but no way advising it, being B----, offer to
divide the whole property, the claim for the _mesne rents_ being wholly
given up; and that the offer would be accepted, I'd engage upon my
honour, supposing myself witnessing the transaction, only just as a
gentleman."

"Impossible, sir," cried Alfred, with indignation. "Do you take me for a
fool? Do you think I would give up half my father's estate, knowing that
he has a right to the whole?"

"Pardon me, sir--I only suggested an A. B. case. But one word more,
sir," cried Mr. Sharpe, holding Alfred, who was breaking from him, "for
your own--your father's interest: you see this thing quite in a wrong
point of view; when you talk of a few months' more or less delay of
getting possession, being all there is between us--depend upon it, if it
goes to trial you will never get possession."

"Then, sir, if you think so, you are betraying the interest of your
client, in advising me not to let it go to trial."

"Good God! sir: but that is between you and me only."

"Pardon me, sir, it is between you and your conscience."

"Oh! if that's all--my conscience is at ease, when I'm trying to prevent
the scandal of litigation between relations: therefore, just let me
mention to you for your private information, what I know Sir Robert
would not wish to come out before the trial."

"Don't tell it to me, sir--I will not hear it," cried Alfred, breaking
from him, and walking on very fast.

Faster still Sharpe pursued. "You'll remember, sir, at all events, that
what has been said is not to go further--you'll not forget."

"I shall never forget that I am a man of honour, sir," said Alfred.

Sharpe parted from him, muttering, "that if he lived to the day of
trial, he would repent this."

"And if I live till the day of judgment, I shall never repent it,"
thought Alfred.

Now fully convinced that Sir Robert desired a compromise, and wanted
only to secure, while in possession, some portion of that property,
which he knew the law would ultimately force him to relinquish, Alfred
persevered in his course, relieved from the alarm into which he had at
first been thrown, when he learned that his opponents intended to make
a defence. Alfred felt assured that they would never let the matter
come to trial; but time passed on, and they still persisted. Many of
his brother lawyers were not only doubtful, but more inclined to despond
than to encourage him as to the event of the trial; several regretted
that he had not accepted of Mr. Sharpe's offered compromise. "Half the
estate certain, and his father's release from all difficulties, they
thought too good offers to have been rejected. He might, as Sharpe had
prophesied, have to repent his rejection of that proposal."

Others observed, that though Mr. Alfred Percy was certainly a young man
of great talents, and had been successful at the bar, still he was a
young lawyer; and it was a bold and hazardous, not to say rash thing,
to take upon himself the conduct of a suit against such opponents as Mr.
Sharpe and Sir Robert Percy, practised in law, hardened in iniquity, and
now driven to desperation.

Mr. Friend was the only man who stood steadily by Alfred, and never
wavered in his opinion. "Trust to truth and justice," said he; "you
did right not to compromise--be firm. If you fail, you will have
this consolation--you will have done all that man could do to deserve
success."

The day of trial approached. Mr. Friend had hoped, till very late in the
business, that the object of their adversaries was only to intimidate,
and that they would never let it go to trial: now it was plain they
would. But on what grounds? Again and again Mr. Friend and Alfred
perused and reperused Sir John Percy's deed, and examined the opinions
of counsel of the first eminence. Both law and right appeared to be
clearly on their side; but it was not likely that their experienced
opponents should persist without having some strong resource.

A dread silence was preserved by Sir Robert Percy and by Mr. Solicitor
Sharpe. They must have some deep design: what it could be, remained to
be discovered even till the day of trial.



CHAPTER XLII.


The day of trial arrived--Mr. Percy came up to town, and brought Mrs.
Percy and Rosamond with him to his son Alfred's, that they might all be
together, and hear as soon as possible their fate.

The trial came on about three o'clock in the afternoon. The court was
uncommonly crowded. Mr. Percy, his son Erasmus, and all his friends,
and Sir Robert and his adherents, appeared on opposite sides of the
galleries.

The excellent countenance and gentlemanlike demeanour of Mr. Percy were
contrasted with the dark, inauspicious physiognomy of Sir Robert, who
sat opposite to him, and who was never tranquil one second, but was
continually throwing notes to his counsel, beckoning or whispering to
his attorney--while convulsive twitches of face and head, snuff-taking,
and handkerchief spread frequently to conceal the expression of his
countenance, betrayed the malignant flurry of his spirits.

Alfred conducted his father's cause in the most judicious and temperate
manner. An attempt had been made by Sir Robert to prejudice the public
against Mr. Percy, by representing him as the descendant of a younger
brother, who was endeavouring to dispossess the heir of the elder
branch of the family of that estate, which belonged to him by right of
inheritance. Alfred's fast care was to put the court and the jury in
full possession of the facts. He stated that "His father, Lewis Percy,
plaintiff in this cause, and Robert Percy, Bart. defendant, both
descended from Sir John Percy, who was their grandfather. Sir John
outlived both his sons, who left him two grandsons, Robert was the son
of his eldest, and Lewis of his youngest son. Sir John had two estates,
one of them paternal, which went in the ordinary course of descent
to the representative of the eldest son, being the present Sir Robert
Percy. Sir John's other estate, in Hampshire, which came to him by
his wife, he conveyed, a short time before his death, to his youngest
grandson, the present Lewis Percy, who had held undisturbed possession
of it for many years. But, in process of time, Sir Robert Percy ruined
himself by play, and having frequent intercourse with Sharpe, the
solicitor, upon some great emergency inquired whether it was not
possible to shake the title of his cousin Mr. Percy's estate. He
suggested that the conveyance might not be forthcoming; but Sir Robert
assured him that both his grandfather and the present Mr. Percy were men
of business, and that there was little likelihood either that the
deeds should be lost, or that there should be any flaw in the title.
Afterwards a fire broke out at Percy-hall, which consumed that wing of
the house in which were Mr. Percy's papers--the papers were all saved
except this deed of conveyance. Mr. Sharpe being accidentally apprized
of the loss, conveyed the intelligence to Sir Robert. He immediately
commenced a suit against his cousin, and had finally succeeded in
obtaining a verdict in his own favour, and possession of the Hampshire
estate. At the time when Mr. Percy delivered up possession and quitted
Percy-hall, in consideration of the extensive improvements which he
had made, and in consideration of his giving up to Sir Robert plate,
furniture, wine, horses, and equipages, Sir Robert had promised to
forego whatever claim he might have upon Mr. Percy for the rents which
he had received during the time he had held the estate; but, afterwards,
Sir Robert repented of having made this agreement, broke his promise,
and took out a writ against his cousin for the _mesne rents_. They
amounted to an immense sum, which Mr. Percy was utterly unable to pay,
and he could have had no hope of avoiding ruin, had the claim been by
law decided against him. By fortunate circumstances, however, he had,
while this cause was pending, recovered that lost conveyance, which
proved his right to the Hampshire estate. Of this he had apprized Sir
Robert, who had persisted, nevertheless, in holding possession, and in
his claim for the _mesne rents_. The present action was brought by Mr.
Percy in resistance of this unjust claim, and for the recovery of his
property."

Not one word of invective, of eloquence, of ornament, or of any attempt
at pathos, did our barrister mix with this statement. It was his object
to put the jury and the court clearly in possession of facts, which,
unadorned, he knew would appear stronger than if encumbered by any
flowers of oratory.

Having produced the deed, conveying the Hampshire estate to his father,
Alfred called evidence to prove the signature of Sir John Percy, and the
handwriting of the witnesses. He farther proved that this conveyance had
been formerly seen among his father's papers at Percy-hall, showed
it had been recently recovered from Mr. Falconer's box of papers, and
explained how it had been put there by mistake, and he supported this
fact by the evidence of Commissioner Falconer, father-in-law to the
defendant.--Alfred rested his cause on these proofs, and waited, anxious
to know what defence the defendant was prepared to make.

To his astonishment and consternation, Sir Robert's counsel produced
another deed of Sir John Percy's, revoking the deed by which Sir John
had made over his Hampshire estate to his younger grandson, Mr. Percy;
it appearing by a clause in the original deed that a power for this
purpose had been therein reserved. This deed of revocation was handed to
the judge and to the jury, that it might be examined. The two deeds
were carefully compared. The nicest inspection could not discover any
difference in the signature or seal. When Mr. Friend examined them, he
was in dismay. The instrument appeared perfect. Whilst the jury were
occupied in this examination, Mr. Friend and Alfred had a moment to
consult together.

"We are undone," whispered Mr. Friend, "if they establish this deed of
revocation--it sets us aside for ever."

Neither Mr. Friend nor Alfred had any doubt of its being a forgery,
but those, who had plunged thus desperately in guilt, would probably be
provided with perjury sufficient to support their iniquity.

"If we had been prepared!" said Mr. Friend: "but how could we be
prepared for such a stroke? Even now, if we had time, we could summon
witnesses who would discredit theirs, but--"

"Do not despair," said Alfred: "still we have a chance that their own
witnesses may cross each other, or contradict themselves. Falsehood,
with all its caution, is seldom consistent."

The trial proceeded. Alfred, in the midst of the fears and sighs of his
friends, and of the triumphant smiles and anticipating congratulations
of his enemies, continued to keep both his temper and his understanding
cool. His attention was fixed upon the evidence produced, regardless
of the various suggestions whispered or written to him by ignorant or
learned advisers.

William Clerke, the only surviving witness to the deed of revocation
produced by Sir Robert, was the person on whose evidence this cause
principally rested. He was now summoned to appear, and room was made for
him. He was upwards of eighty years of age: he came slowly into court,
and stood supporting himself upon his staff, his head covered with thin
gray hairs, his countenance placid and smiling, and his whole appearance
so respectable, so venerable, as to prepossess, immediately, the jury
and the court in his favour.

Alfred Percy could scarcely believe it possible, that such a man as this
could be the person suborned to support a forgery. After being sworn, he
was desired to sit down, which he did, bowing respectfully to the court.
Sir Robert Percy's counsel proceeded to examine him as to the points
they desired to establish.

"Your name, sir, is William Clerke, is it not?"

"My name is William Clerke," answered the old man, in a feeble voice.

"Did you ever see this paper before?" showing him the deed.

"I did--I was present when Sir John Percy signed it--he bid me witness
it, that is, write my name at the bottom, which I did, and then he said,
'Take notice, William Clerke, this is a deed, revoking the deed by which
I made over my Hampshire estate to my youngest grandson, Lewis Percy.'"

The witness was going on, but the counsel interrupted.

"You saw Sir John Percy sign this deed--you are sure of that?"

"I am sure of that."

"Is this Sir John Percy's signature?"

"It is--the very same I saw him write; and here is my own name, that he
bid me put just there."

"You can swear that this is your handwriting?"

"I can--I do."

"Do you recollect what time Sir John Percy signed this deed?"

"Yes; about three or four days before his death."

"Very well, that is all we want of you, Mr. Clerke."

Alfred Percy desired that Clerke should be detained in court, that
he might cross-examine him. The defendants went on, produced their
evidence, examined all their witnesses, and established all they
desired.

Then it came to Alfred's turn to cross-examine the witnesses that had
been produced by his adversary. When William Clerke re-appeared, Alfred
regarding him stedfastly, the old man's countenance changed a little;
but still he looked prepared to stand a cross-examination. In spite of
all his efforts, however, he trembled.

"Oh! you are trembling on the brink of the grave!" said Alfred,
addressing him in a low, solemn tone: "pause, and reflect, whilst you
are allowed a moment's time. A few years must be all you have to spend
in this world. A few moments may take you to another, to appear before a
higher tribunal--before that Judge, who knows our hearts, who sees into
yours at this instant."

The staff in the old man's hand shook violently.

Sir Robert Percy's counsel interrupted--said that the witness should
not be intimidated, and appealed to the court. The judge was silent,
and Alfred proceeded, "You know that you are upon your oath--these are
possibly the last words you may ever utter--look that they be true. You
know that men have been struck dead whilst uttering falsehoods. You are
upon your oath--did you see Sir John Percy sign this deed?"

The old man attempted in vain to articulate.

"Give him time to recollect," cried the counsel on the opposite side:
"give him leave to see the writing now he has his spectacles."

He looked at the writing twice--his head and hands shaking so that he
could not fix his spectacles. The question was repeated by the judge.
The old man grew pale as death. Sir Robert Percy, just opposite to him,
cleared his throat to catch the witness's attention, then darted at him
such a look as only he could give.

"Did I see Sir John Percy sign this deed?" repeated William Clerke:
"yes, I did."

"You hear, my lord, you hear," cried Sir Robert's counsel, "the witness
says he did--there is no occasion farther to intimidate this poor old
man. He is not used to speak before such an audience. There is no need
of eloquence--all we want is truth. The evidence is positive. My lord,
with your lordship's leave, I fancy we may dismiss him."

They were going to hurry him away, but Alfred Percy said that, with the
permission of the court, he must cross-examine that witness farther,
as the whole event of the trial depended upon the degree of credit that
might be given to his evidence.

By this time the old man had somewhat recovered himself; he saw that his
age and reverend appearance still prepossessed the jury in his favour,
and from their looks, and from the whispers near him, he learned that
his tremor and hesitation had not created any suspicion of guilt,
but had been attributed rather to the sensibility of virtue, and the
weakness of age. And, now that the momentary emotion which eloquence
had produced on his mind had subsided, he recollected the bribe that had
been promised to him. He was aware that he had already sworn what, if
he contradicted, might subject him to be prosecuted for perjury. He
now stood obstinately resolved to persevere in his iniquity. The first
falsehoods pronounced and believed, the next would be easy.

"Your name is William Clerke, and this," said Alfred (pointing to the
witness's signature), "is your handwriting?"

"Yes, I say it is."

"You _can_ write then?" (putting a pen into his hand) "be so good as to
write a few words in the presence of the court." He took the pen, but
after making some fruitless attempts, replied, "I am too old to write--I
have not been able to write my name these many years--Indeed! sir,
indeed! you are too hard upon one like me. God knows," said he,
looking up to Heaven, some thought with feeling, some suspected with
hypocrisy--"God knows, sir, I speak the truth, and nothing but the
truth. Have you any more questions to put to me? I am ready to tell all
I know. What interest have I to conceal any thing?" continued he, his
voice gaining strength and confidence as he went on repeating the lesson
which he had been taught.

"It was long, a long while ago," he said, "since it had all happened;
but thank Heaven, his memory had been spared him, and he remembered all
that had passed, the same as if it was but yesterday. He recollected how
Sir John looked, where he sat, what he said when he signed this deed;
and, moreover, he had often before heard of a dislike Sir John had taken
to his younger grandson--ay, to that young gentleman's father," looking
at Alfred; "and I was very sorry to hear it--very sorry there should be
any dispute in the family, for I loved them all," said he, wiping his
eyes--"ay, I loved 'em all, and all alike, from the time they were
in their cradles. I remember too, once, Sir John said to me, 'William
Clerke,' says he, 'you are a faithful lad'--for I was a lad once--"

Alfred had judiciously allowed the witness to go on as far as he
pleased with his story, in the expectation that some exaggeration and
contradiction would appear; but the judge now interrupted the old man,
observing that this was nothing to the purpose--that he must not take up
the time of the court with idle tales, but that if he had any thing more
to give in evidence respecting the deed, he should relate it.

The judge was thought to be severe; and the old man, after glancing his
eye on the jury, bowed with an air of resignation, and an appearance of
difficulty, which excited their compassion.

"We may let him go now, my lord, may not we?" said Sir Robert Percy's
counsel.

"With the permission of his lordship, I will ask one other question,"
said Alfred.

Now it should be observed, that after the first examination of this
witness, Alfred had heard him say to Mr. Sharpe, "They forgot to bring
out what I had to say about the seal." To which Sharpe had replied,
"Enough without it." Alfred had examined the seal, and had observed that
there was something underneath it--through a small hole in the parchment
he saw something between the parchment and the sealing-wax.

"You were present, I think you say, Mr. Clerke, not only when this deed
was signed, but when it was sealed?"

"I was, sir," cried Clerke, eager to bring out this part of the
evidence, as it had been prepared for him by Sir Robert; "I surely
was; and I remember it particularly, because of a little remarkable
circumstance: Sir John, God bless him!--I think I see him now--My lord,
under this seal," continued the old man, addressing himself to the
judge, and putting his shrivelled finger upon the seal, "under this very
seal Sir John put a sixpence--and he called upon me to observe him doing
it--for, my lord, it is my opinion, he thought then of what might come
to pass--he had a sort of a foreboding of this day. And now, my lord,
order them, if you please, to break the seal--break it before them
all,--and if there is not the sixpence under it, why this deed is not
Sir John's, and this is none of my writing, and," cried he, lifting up
his hands and eyes, "I am a liar, and perjured."

There was a profound silence. The seal was broken. The sixpence
appeared. It was handed in triumph, by Sir Robert Percy's counsel,
to the jury and to the judge. There seemed to be no longer a doubt
remaining in the minds of the jury--and a murmur of congratulation among
the partisans of Sir Robert seemed to anticipate the verdict.

"'Tis all over, I fear," whispered Friend to Alfred. "Alfred, you have
done all that could be done, but they have sworn through every thing--it
is over with us."

"Not yet," said Alfred. Every eye turned upon him, some from pity, some
from curiosity, to see how he bore his defeat. At length, when there was
silence, he begged to be permitted to look at the sixpence. The judge
ordered that it should be shown to him. He held it to the light to
examine the date of the coin; he discovered a faint impression of a head
on the sixpence, and, upon closer inspection, he made out the date, and
showed clearly that the date of the coin was later than the date of the
deed: so that there was an absolute impossibility that this sixpence
could have been put under the seal of the deed by Sir John.

The moment Alfred stated this fact, the counsel on the opposite side
took the sixpence, examined it, threw down his brief, and left the
court. People looked at each other in astonishment. The judge ordered
that William Clerke should be detained, that he might be prosecuted by
the crown for perjury.

The old man fell back senseless. Mr. Sharpe and Sir Robert Percy pushed
their way together out of court, disclaimed by all who had till now
appeared as their friends. No farther evidence was offered, so that here
the trial closed. The judge gave a short, impressive charge to the jury,
who, without withdrawing, instantly gave their verdict in favour of
the plaintiff, Lewis Percy--a verdict that was received with loud
acclamations, which not even respect to the court could restrain.

Mr. Percy and Alfred hastily shook hands with their friends, and in the
midst of universal applause hurried away to carry the good news to Mrs.
Percy and Rosamond, who were at Alfred's house, waiting to hear the
event of the trial.

Neither Alfred nor Mr. Percy had occasion to speak--the moment Mrs.
Percy and Rosamond saw them they knew the event.

"Yes," said Mr. Percy, "our fortune is restored; and doubly happy we
are, in having regained it, in a great measure, by the presence of mind
and ability of my son."

His mother and sister embraced Alfred with tears of delight. For some
moments a spectator might have imagined that he beheld a family in deep
affliction. But soon through these tears appeared on the countenance of
each individual the radiance of joy, smiles of affection, tenderness,
gratitude, and every delightful benignant feeling of the human heart.

"Has any body sent to Mrs. Hungerford and to Lady Jane Granville?" said
Mr. Percy.

"Yes, yes, messengers were sent off the moment the verdict was given,"
said Erasmus: "I took care of that."

"It is a pity," said Rosamond, "that Caroline is not here at this
moment, and Godfrey."

"It is best as it is," said Mrs. Percy: "we have that pleasure still in
store."

"And now, my beloved children," said Mr. Percy, "after having returned
thanks to Providence, let me here, in the midst of all of you to whom I
owe so large a share of my happiness, sit down quietly for a few minutes
to enjoy 'the sober certainty of waking bliss.'"



CHAPTER XLIII.


The day after the trial brought several happy letters to the Percys.
Rosamond called it the day of happy letters, and by that name it was
ever after recorded in the family. The first of these letters was from
Godfrey, as follows:

"Dear father, mother, brothers, and sisters all! I hope you are not
under any anxiety about me, for here I am, safe and sound, and in
excellent quarters, at the house of Mynheers Grinderweld, Groensveld,
and Slidderschild, Amsterdam, the Dutch merchants who were shipwrecked
on our coast years ago! If it had happened yesterday, the thing could
not be fresher in their memories. My dear Rosamond, when we laughed at
their strange names, square figures, and formal advice to us, if ever
we should, by the changes and chances of human events, be reduced to
distress, we little thought that I, a prisoner, should literally come
to seek shelter at their door. And most hospitably have I been received.
National prejudices, which I early acquired, I don't know how, against
the Dutch, made me fancy that a Dutchman could think only of himself,
and would give nothing for nothing: I can only say from experience, I
have been as hospitably treated in Amsterdam as ever I was in London.
These honest merchants have overwhelmed me with civilities and
substantial services, and still they seem to think they can never do
enough for me. I wish I may ever see them on English ground again. But
we have no Percy-hall to receive them in now; and as well as I remember
the Hills, we could not conveniently stow more than one at a time. Side
by side, as they stood after breakfast, I recollect, at Percy-hall, they
would completely fill up the parlour at the Hills.

"I may well be in high spirits to-day; for these good people have just
been telling me, that the measures they have been taking to get my
exchange effected, have so far succeeded, they have reason to believe
that in a week, or a fortnight at farthest, I shall be under weigh for
England.

"In the mean time, you will wonder perhaps how I got here; for I
perceive that I have subjected myself to Rosamond's old reproach of
never beginning my story at the beginning. My father used to say, half
the mistakes in human affairs arise from our _taking for granted_; but I
think I may take it for granted, that either from the newspapers or from
Gascoigne, who must be in England by this time, you have learned that
the transport I was on board, with my division of the regiment, parted
convoy in the storm of the 18th, in the night, and at daybreak fell in
with two Dutchmen. Our brave boys fought as Englishmen always do; but
all that is over now, so it does not signify prosing about it. Two to
one was too much--we were captured. I had not been five minutes on
the Dutchman's deck, when I observed one of the sailors eyeing me very
attentively. Presently he came up and asked if my name was not Percy,
and if I did not recollect to have seen him before? He put me in mind of
the shipwreck, and told me he was one of the sailors who were harboured
in one of my father's outhouses whilst they were repairing the wreck.
I asked him what had become of the drunken carpenter, and told him the
disaster that ensued in consequence of that rascal's carelessness. My
sailor was excessively shocked at the account of the fire at Percy-hall:
he thumped his breast till I thought he would have broken his
breast-bone; and after relieving his mind by cursing and swearing in
high Dutch, low Dutch, and English, against the drunken carpenter, he
told me there was no use in saying any more, for that he had punished
himself.--He was found dead one morning behind a barrel, from which in
the night he had been drinking spirits surreptitiously through a straw.
Pray tell this to old John, who used always to prophesy that this fellow
would come to no good: assure him, however, at the same time, that
all the Dutch sailors do not deserve his maledictions. Tell him, I can
answer for the poor fellow who recognized me, and who, during the whole
passage, never failed to show me and my fellow-prisoners every little
attention in his power. When we got to Amsterdam, it was he reminded
me of the Dutch merchants, told me their names, which, without his
assistance, I might have perished before I could ever have recollected,
and showed me the way to their house, and never rested till he saw me
well settled.

"You will expect from me some account of this place. You need not expect
any, for just as I had got to this line in my letter appeared one who
has put all the lions of Amsterdam fairly out of my head--Mr. Gresham!
He has been for some weeks in the country, and has just returned. The
Dutch merchants, not knowing of his being acquainted with my family,
never mentioned him to me, nor me to him: so our surprise at meeting was
great. What pleasure it is in a foreign country, and to a poor prisoner,
to see any one from dear England, and one who knows our own friends! I
had never seen Mr. Gresham myself, but you have all by your letters made
me well acquainted with him. I like him prodigiously, to use a lady's
word (not yours, Rosamond). Letters from Mr. Henry were waiting for him
here; he has just opened them, and the first news he tells me is, that
Caroline is going to be married! Is it possible? Count Altenberg! The
last time I heard from you, you mentioned nothing of all this. Some of
your letters must have been lost. Pray write again immediately, and do
not take it for granted that I shall be at home before a letter reaches
me; but give me a full history of every thing up to the present moment.
Groensveld is sealing his letters for London, and must have mine now
or never. Adieu! Pray write fully: you cannot be too minute for a poor
prisoner.

"Yours affectionately,

"burning with curiosity,

"GODFREY PERCY."

A letter from Mr. Gresham to Mr. Henry farther informed them, that
Godfrey's exchange was actually effected, and that he had secured his
passage on board a vessel just ready to sail for England.

Next came letters from Count Altenberg. Briefly, in the laconic style of
a man pressed at once by sudden events and strong feelings, he related
that at the siege of the city of ---- by the French, early in the
morning of the day on which it was expected that the enemy would attempt
to storm the place, his prince, while inspecting the fortifications,
was killed by a cannon-ball, on the very spot where the Count had been
standing but a moment before. All public affairs were changed in his
country by the death of the prince. His successor, of a weak character,
was willing to purchase present ease, and to secure his low pleasures,
at any price--ready to give up the honour of his country, and submit to
the conqueror--that he had been secretly intriguing with the enemy,
had been suspected, and this suspicion was confirmed by his dastardly
capitulation when the means of defence were in his power and the spirit
of his people eager for resistance.

With indignation, heightened by grief, contrast, and despairing
patriotism, Count Altenberg had remonstrated in vain--had refused, as
minister, to put his signature to the capitulation--had been solicited
urgently to concede--offers of wealth and dignities pressed upon him:
these he rejected with scorn. Released from all his public engagements
by the death of the prince, and by the retiring of the princess from
court, Count Altenberg refused to act as minister under his successor;
and seeing that, under such a successor to the government, no means of
serving or saving the country remained, he at once determined to quit it
for ever: resolved to live in a free country, already his own, half by
birth and wholly by inclination, where he had property sufficient to
secure him independence, sufficient for his own wishes, and for those of
his beloved Caroline--a country where he could enjoy better than on any
other spot in the whole compass of the civilized world, the blessings of
real liberty and of domestic tranquillity and happiness.

His decision made, it was promptly executed. He left to a friend the
transacting the sale of his German property, and Caroline concluded his
letter with

"MY DEAR FRIENDS,

"Passports are obtained, every thing ready. Early next week we set out
for England; by the first of next month we shall be at HOME."

Then came a letter from Lord Oldborough. Some time previously to
the trial, surprised at neither seeing Mr. Temple nor hearing of his
marriage, his lordship had written to inquire what delayed his promised
return. Taking it for granted that he was married, his lordship in
the most polite manner begged that he would prevail upon his bride to
enliven the retirement of an old statesman by her sprightly company. As
the friend of her father he made this request, with a confidence in her
hereditary disposition to show him kindness.

In reply to this letter, Mr. Temple told his friend and master what had
delayed his marriage, and why he had hitherto forborne to trouble him on
the subject. Lord Oldborough, astonished and indignant, uttered once and
but once contemptuous exclamations against the "inconceivable meanness
of Lord Skrimpshire," and the "infinitely small mind of his grace
of Greenwich;" then, without condescending to any communication with
inferior powers, his lordship applied directly to the highest authority.
The consequence was that a place double the value of that which had been
promised was given to Mr. Temple, and it was to announce his appointment
to it that occasioned the present letter from Lord Oldborough, enclosing
one from Mr. Secretary Cope, who "had it in command to assure his
lordship that the delay had arisen solely from the anxious desire of
his majesty's ministers to mark their respect for his lordship's
recommendation, and their sense of Mr. Temple's merit, by doing more
than had been originally proposed. An opportunity, for which they
had impatiently waited, had now put it into their power to evince the
sincerity of their intentions in a mode which they trusted would prove
to the entire satisfaction of his lordship."

The greatest care was taken both in substance and manner to gratify
Lord Oldborough, whose loss had been felt, and whose value had, upon
comparison, increased in estimation.

Rosamond was rewarded by seeing the happiness of the man she loved, and
hearing him declare that he owed it to her prudence.

"Rosamond's prudence!--Whoever expected to hear this?" Mr. Percy
exclaimed. "And yet the praise is just. So, henceforward, none need ever
despair of grafting prudence upon generosity of disposition and vivacity
of temper."

Mr. Temple obtained from Rosamond a promise to be his, as soon as her
sister Caroline and her brother should arrive.

Lady Jane Granville, who felt the warmest interest in their prosperity,
was the first to whom they communicated all this joyful intelligence.
Her ladyship's horses had indeed reason to rue this day; for they did
more work this day than London horses ever accomplished before in the
same number of hours, not excepting even those of the merciless Mrs.
John Prevost; for Lady Jane found it necessary to drive about to her
thousand acquaintance to spread the news of the triumph and felicity of
the Percy family.

In the midst of this tumult of joy, Mr. Percy wrote two letters: one was
to his faithful old steward, John Nelson, who deserved from his master
this mark of regard; the other was to Commissioner Falconer, to make him
some friendly offers of assistance in his own affairs, and to beg that,
through him, his daughter, the unhappy and deserted lady of Sir Robert
Percy, might be assured that neither Mr. Percy nor any of his family
wished to put her to inconvenience; and that far from being in haste to
return to Percy-hall, they particularly wished to wait in town for the
arrival of Caroline and Count Altenberg; and they therefore requested
that she would not hasten her removal, from any false idea of their
impatience. We said the deserted lady of Sir Robert Percy, for Sir
Robert had fled from the country. On quitting the court after the
trial, he took all the ready money he had previously collected from his
tenants, and set out for the continent, leaving a note for his wife,
apprizing her "that she would never see him more, and that she had
better return to her father and mother, as he had no means left to
support her extravagance."

Commissioner Falconer was at this time at Falconer-court, where he had
been obliged to go to settle some business with his tenantry,
previously to the sale of his land for the redemption of Cunningham. The
Commissioner's answer to Mr. Percy's letter was as follows:

"I cannot tell you, my dear sir, how much I was touched by the kindness
of your letter and conduct--so different from what I have met with
from others. I will not cloud your happiness--in which, believe me, I
heartily rejoice--by the melancholy detail of all my own sorrows and
disappointments; but only answer briefly to your friendly inquiries
respecting my affairs.

"And first, for my unfortunate married daughter, who has been in
this terrible manner returned upon our hands. She thanks you for your
indulgence, on which she will not encroach. Before you receive this, she
will have left Percy-hall. She is going to live with a Miss Clapham,
a great heiress, who wants a fashionable companion and chaperon. Mrs.
Falconer became acquainted with her at Tunbridge, and has devised
this plan for Arabella. I fear Bell's disposition will not suit such a
situation, but she has no other resource.

"Mrs. Falconer and Georgiana have so _over-managed_ matters with respect
to Petcalf, that it has ended, as I long since feared it would, in his
breaking off. If Mrs. Falconer had taken my advice, Georgiana might now
be completely settled; instead of which she is fitting out for India.
She is going, to be sure, in good company; but in my opinion the expense
(which, Heaven knows, I can ill afford) will be thrown away like all the
rest--for Georgiana has been much worn by late hours, and though still
young, has, I fear, lost her bloom, and looks rather old for India.

"I am truly obliged to you, my dear sir, for your friendly offer with
respect to Falconer-court, and have in consequence stopped the sale of
the furniture. I shall rejoice to have such a good tenant as Mr.
Temple. It is indeed much more agreeable to me to let than to sell.
The accommodation, as you propose, will put it in my power to release
Cunningham, which is my most pressing difficulty.

"As you are the only person in the world now who takes an interest in my
affairs, or to whom I can safely unburden my mind, I must, though I
know complaint to be useless, relieve my heart by it for a moment. I can
safely say, that for the last ten years of my life I have never spent
a day _for myself_. I have been continually planning and toiling to
advance my family,--not an opportunity has been neglected; and yet from
this very family springs all my unhappiness. Even Mrs. Falconer blames
me as the cause of that _sad business_, which has disgraced us for
ever, and deprived us of all our friends--and has afforded an excuse for
breaking all promises. There are many, whom I will not name, but they
are persons now high in office, who have--I may venture to say it to
you--used me shamefully ill.

"Many an honest tradesman and manufacturer, to say nothing of men of
talents in the liberal professions, I have seen in the course of the
last forty years make their own fortunes, and large fortunes, while I
have ended worse than I began--have literally been working all my life
for others, not only without reward, but without thanks. If I were to
begin life again, I certainly should follow your principles, my dear
sir, and depend more upon myself and less upon others, than I have
done--But now all is over. Let me assure you, that in the midst of my
own misfortunes, I rejoice in your prosperity, and in the esteem and
respect with which I hear you and yours spoken of by all.

"Present my affectionate regards and congratulations to Mrs. Percy, and
to all your amiable and happy circle. Propriety and feeling for my poor
daughter, Lady Percy, must prevent my paying at present my personal
congratulations to you at Percy-hall; but I trust you will not the less
believe in the sincerity of my attachment.

"I am, my dear sir,

"Your obliged and faithful

"Friend and servant,

"T. FALCONER.

"P.S.--I have just learnt that the little place I mentioned to Mr.
Alfred Percy, when we last met, is not disposed of. Lord Oldborough's
influence, as Mr. Temple well knows, is still all-powerful; and your
interest with his lordship, you must be sensible, is greater than that
of any other person living, without exception. A word from you would do
the business for me. It is but a trifle, which I should once have been
ashamed to ask: but it is now a matter of necessity."

The event of the trial, and the restoration of the Percy family to their
property, were heard with transports of joy by the old tenantry. They
had not needed the effect of contrast, to make them love and feel the
value of their good landlord; but certainly Sir Robert Percy's tyranny,
and all that he had made them suffer for their obstinate fidelity to the
_old branch_, had heightened and fortified their attachment. It was
now their turn to glory in that honest obstinacy, and with the strong
English sense of justice, they triumphed in having the rightful owners
restored to their estate, and to the seat of their ancestors.

As the Percy family crossed the well-known bridge at the end of the
village, those bells, which had sounded so mournfully, which had been
muffled when they quitted their home, now rang out a merry triumphant
peal--and it was rung by the hands of the very same persons who
had formerly given that proof of attachment to him in his
adversity.--Emotion as strong now seized Mr. Percy's heart. At the same
spot he jumped out of the carriage, and by the same path along which he
had hastened to stop the bell-ringers, lest they should ruin themselves
with Sir Robert, he now hastened to see and thank these honest,
courageous people. In passing through the village, which had been
freshly swept and garnished the people, whom, he remembered to have seen
in tears following the carriage at their departure, were now crowding to
their doors with faces bright with smiles. Hats that had never stirred,
and backs that had never bent for the _usurper_, were now eager with low
bows to mark their proud respect to the true man. There were no noisy
acclamations, for all were touched. The voices of the young children,
however, were heard, who, as their mothers held them up in their arms,
to see the landlord, of whom they had heard so much, offered their
little nosegays as the open carriage passed, and repeated blessings on
those, on whom from their cradles, they had heard blessings bestowed by
their parents.

The old steward stood ready at the park-gate to open it for his master.
His master and the ladies put their hands out of the carriage to shake
hands with him, but he could not stand it. He just touched his master's
hand. Tears streamed down his face, and turning away without being able
to say one word, he hid himself in the porter's lodge.

As they drove up to the house, they saw standing on the steps
waiting--and long had he been waiting there, for the first sound of the
carriage--Johnson, the butler, who had followed the family to the Hills,
and had served them in their fallen fortunes--Johnson was now himself.
Before the hall-door, wide open to receive them, he stood, with the
livery-servants in due order.

Mrs. Harte, the good old housekeeper, had been sent down to prepare for
the reception of the family, and a world of trouble she had had; but
all was now right and proper, and she was as active and alert as the
youngest of her maidens could have been, in conducting the ladies to
their apartments, in showing all the old places, and doing what she
called the honours of the _re-installation_. She could have wished
to have vented a little of her indignation, and to have told how some
things had been left; but her better taste and judgment, and her sense
of what would be pleasing to her master and mistress, repressed all
recrimination. By the help of frequent recurrence to her snuff-box, in
difficulties great, together with much rubbing of her hands, and some
bridling of her head, she got through it, without naming those, who
should not be thought of, as she observed, on this joyful day.

The happiness of the Percy family was completed by the return of
Godfrey, of Caroline, and Count Altenberg. Godfrey arrived just as his
family were settled at Percy-hall. After his long absence from his
home and country, he doubly enjoyed this scene of domestic prosperity.
Beloved as Rosamond was by rich and poor in the neighbourhood, and the
general favourite of her family, her approaching marriage spread new and
universal joy. It is impossible to give an idea of the congratulations,
and of the bustle of the various preparations, which were going on at
this time at Percy-hall, especially in the lower regions. Even Mrs.
Harte's all-regulating genius was insufficient for the exigencies of the
times. Indeed, her head and her heart were now at perpetual variance,
continually counteracting and contradicting each other. One moment
delighted with the joy and affection of the world below, she would come
up to boast of it to her mistress and her young ladies; the next moment
she would scold all the people for being out of their wits, and for not
minding or knowing a single thing they were doing, or ordered to do,
"no more than the babes in the wood;" then proving the next minute and
acknowledging that she was "_really quite as bad as themselves_. And no
wonder, for the thoughts of Miss Rosamond's marriage had turned her head
entirely upside down--for she had been at Miss Rosamond's christening,
held her by proxy, and considered her always as her particular
own child, and well she might, for a better, except, perhaps, Miss
Caroline--I should say _the countess_--never breathed."

The making a _desert_ island for Miss Rosamond's wedding-dinner was
the object which had taken such forcible possession of Mrs. Harte's
imagination, that till it was accomplished it was in vain to hope that
any other could, in her eyes, appear in any kind of proportion. In the
midst of all the sentimental joy above stairs, and in the midst of
all the important business of settlements and lawyers, Mrs. Harte was
pursuing the settled purpose of her soul, constructing with infinite
care, as directed by her complete English Housekeeper, a _desert island
for a wedding_, in a deep china dish, with a mount in the middle, two
figures upon the mount, with crowns on their heads, a knot of rock-candy
at their feet, and gravel-walks of _shot comfits_, judiciously
intersecting in every direction their dominions.



CHAPTER XLIV.


As soon as it was possible, after his return to Percy-hall, Mr. Percy
went to pay his respects to Lord Oldborough. He found this great
statesman happy in retirement, without any affectation of happiness.
There were proofs in every thing about him that his mind had unbent
itself agreeably; his powers had expanded upon different objects,
building, planting, improving the soil and the people.

He had many tastes, which had long lain dormant, or rather which had
been held in subjugation by one tyrant passion. That passion vanquished,
the former tastes resumed their activity. The superior strength of his
character was shown in his never recurring to ambition. Its vigour
was displayed in the means by which he supplied himself, not only with
variety of occupation, but with variety of motive. Those, who best know
the human mind must be aware of the difficulty of supplying motive for
one accustomed to stimulus of so high a kind, as that to which Lord
Oldborough had been habituated. For one who had been at the head of
the government of a great nation, to make for himself objects in the
stillness and privacy of a country life, required no common talent and
energy of soul. The difficulty was increased to Lord Oldborough, for to
him the vast resource of a taste for literature was wanting.

The biographer of Sir Robert Walpole tells us, that though he had not
forgotten his classical attainments, he had little taste for literary
occupations. Sir Robert once expressed his regret on this subject to
Mr. Fox, in the library at Houghton. "I wish," he said, "I took as much
delight in reading as you do; it would be the means of alleviating many
tedious hours in my present retirement. But, to my misfortune, I derive
no pleasure from such pursuits."

Lord Oldborough felt, but never condescended to complain of that
deficiency of general literature, which was caused in him, partly by his
not having had time for the attainment, and partly by his having formed
too low an estimate of the influence and power of literature in the
political world. But he now took peculiar delight in recalling the
classical studies in which he had in his youth excelled; as Mr. Percy
sympathized with him in this taste, there was another point in which
they coalesced. Mr. Percy stayed with his old friend some days, for he
was anxious to give him this proof of attachment, and felt interested
in seeing his character develope itself in a new direction, displaying
fresh life and strength, and unexpected resource in circumstances, in
which statesmen of the most vigorous minds, and of the highest
spirit, have been seen to "droop and drowse," to sink into indolence,
sensuality, or the horrors of hypochondriacism and superstition.

Lord Oldborough, on his first retiring to Clermont-park, had informed
Mr. Percy that he should wish to see him as soon as he had arranged
certain papers. He now reminded his lordship of it, and Lord Oldborough
put into his hands a sketch, which he had been drawing out, of the
principal transactions in which he had been engaged during his political
career, with copies of his letters to the first public characters of the
day in our own and in foreign countries. Even by those who had felt no
regard for the man, the letters of such a minister would have been read
with avidity; but Mr. Percy perused them with a stronger interest than
any which could be created by mere political or philosophical curiosity.
He read them with a pleasure which a generous mind takes in admiring
that which is good and great, with the delight which a true friend feels
in seeing proofs that justify all the esteem he had previously felt. He
saw in these original documents, in this history of Lord Oldborough's
political life, the most perfect consistency and integrity, the most
disinterested and enlightened patriotism. When Mr. Percy returned
the manuscript to his lordship, he spoke of the satisfaction he must
experience in looking back upon this record of a life spent in the
service of his country, and observed that he was not surprised that,
with such a solid source of self-approbation, such indefeasible claims
to the gratitude of his countrymen, and such well-earned fame, he should
be, as he appeared, happy in retirement.

"I am happy, and, I believe, principally from the cause you have
mentioned," said Lord Oldborough, who had a mind too great for the
affectation of humility. "So far I am happy."

"Yet," added he, after a considerable pause, "I have, I feel, a greater
capability of happiness, for which I have been prevented from making
any provision, partly by the course of life of which I made choice, and
partly by circumstances over which I had no control."

He paused again; and, turning the conversation, spoke of his sister, an
elderly lady, who had come to pass some time with him. They had lived
separate almost all their lives; she in Scotland with her husband, a
Scottish nobleman, who having died about the time when Lord Oldborough
had resigned his ministerial situation, she had accepted his lordship's
invitation to visit him in his retirement. The early attachment he had
had for this sister seemed to revive in his mind when they met; and,
as if glad to have some object for his affections, they were poured out
upon her. Mr. Percy observed a tenderness in his manner and voice when
he spoke to her, a thousand little attentions, which no one would have
expected from the apparently stern Lord Oldborough, a man who had been
engrossed all his life by politics.

On the morning of the last day which Mr. Percy meant to spend at
Clermont-park, his lordship, as they were sitting together in his study,
expressed more than common regret at the necessity for his friend's
departure, but said, "I have no right to detain you from your family."
Then, after a pause, he added, "Mr. Percy, you first gave me the idea
that a private life is the happiest."

"My lord, in most cases I believe it is; but I never meant to assert
that a public life spent in noble exertion, and with the consciousness
of superior talent and utility, is not more desirable than the life
of any obscure individual can possibly be, even though he possess the
pleasure of domestic ease and tranquillity. There are men of eminent
abilities, capable of extraordinary exertions, inspired by exalted
patriotism. I believe, notwithstanding the corruption of so many has
weakened all faith in public virtue, I believe in the existence of such
men, men who devote themselves to the service of their country: when the
time for their relinquishing the toils of public life arrives, honour
and self-approbation follow them in retirement."

"It is true, I am happy," repeated Lord Oldborough; "but to go on with
what I began to say to you yesterday--I feel that some addition might
be made to my happiness. The sense of having, to the best of my ability,
done my duty, is satisfactory. I do not require applause--I disdain
adulation--I have sustained my public life without sympathy--I could
seldom meet with it--where I could, I have enjoyed it--and could now
enjoy it--exquisitely--as you do, Mr. Percy--surrounded by a happy
family. Domestic life requires domestic pleasures--objects for the
affections."

Mr. Percy felt the truth of this, and could answer only by suggesting
the idea of Mr. Temple, who was firmly and warmly attached to Lord
Oldborough, and for whom his lordship had a strong regard.

"Mr. Temple, and my daughter Rosamond, whom your lordship honoured with
so kind an invitation, propose, I know, paying their respects to you
next week. Though I am her father, I may venture to say that Rosamond's
sprightliness is so mixed with solid information and good sense, that
her society will become agreeable to your lordship."

"I shall rejoice to see Mrs. Temple here. As the daughter of one friend,
and the wife of another, she has a double claim to my regard. And (to
say nothing of hereditary genius or dispositions--in which you do not
believe, and I do), there can be no doubt that the society of a lady,
educated as your daughter has been, must suit my taste. The danger is,
that her society should become necessary to me. For Mr. Temple I already
feel a degree of affection, which I must repress, rather than indulge."

"Repress!--Why so, my lord? You esteem him--you believe in the sincerity
of his attachment?"

"I do."

"Then why with stoicism--pardon me, my dear lord--why repress
affection?"

"Lest I should become dependent for my daily happiness on one, whose
happiness is independent of mine--in some degree incompatible with mine.
Even if his society were given to me, his heart must be at his home,
and with his family. You see I am no proud stoic, but a man who dares
to look at life--the decline of life, such as it is--as it must be.
Different, Mr. Percy, in your situation--and in mine."

The conversation was here interrupted by the arrival of a carriage.

Lord Oldborough looked out of the window as it passed--then smiled,
and observed how altered the times were, since Clermont-park used to be
crowded with visitors and carriages--now the arrival of one is an event.

The servant announced a foreign name, a Neapolitan abbé, who had come
over in the train of a new ambassador: he had just arrived in England,
and had letters from the Cardinal . . ., his uncle, which he was desired
to deliver into Lord Oldborough's own hand. The abbé was, it appeared,
personally a stranger to him, but there had been some ministerial
intercourse between his lordship and the cardinal. Lord Oldborough
received these political letters with an air of composure and
indifference which proved that he ceased to have an interest in the
game.

"He supposed," he said, "that the abbé had been apprized that he was no
longer one of his majesty's ministers--that he had resigned his official
situation--had retired--and that he took no part whatever in public
affairs."

The abbé replied that he had been apprized that Lord Oldborough
had retired from the public office; but his uncle, he added, with a
significant smile, was aware that Lord Oldborough's influence was as
great still as it had ever been, and greater than that of any ostensible
minister.

This Lord Oldborough disclaimed--coolly observing that his influence,
whatever it might be, could not be known even to himself, as it was
never exerted; and that, as he had determined nevermore to interfere in
public business, he could not be of the least political service to
the cardinal. The Duke of Greenwich was now the person to whom on such
subjects all applications should be addressed.

The abbé, however, repeated, that his instructions from the cardinal
were positive and peremptory, to deliver these letters into no hands but
those of Lord Oldborough--that in consequence of this strict injunction
he had come purposely to present them. He was instructed to request his
lordship would not put the letters into the hands of any secretary, but
would have the goodness to examine them himself, and give his counsel
how to proceed, and to whom they should, in case of his lordship's
declining to interfere, be addressed.

"Mr. Percy!" said Lord Oldborough, recalling Mr. Percy, who had risen to
quit the room, "you will not leave me--Whatever you may wish to say, M.
l'abbé, may be said before this gentleman--my friend."

His lordship then opened the packet, examined the letters--read and
re-directed some to the Duke of Greenwich, others to the king: the abbé,
all the time, descanting vehemently on Neapolitan politics--regretting
Lord Oldborough's resignation--adverting still to his lordship's
powerful influence--and pressing some point in negotiation, for which
his uncle, the cardinal, was most anxious.

Among the letters, there was one which Lord Oldborough did not open: he
laid it on the table with the direction downwards, leaned his elbow upon
it, and sat as if calmly listening to the abbé; but Mr. Percy, knowing
his countenance, saw signs of extraordinary emotion, with difficulty
repressed.

At length the gesticulating abbé finished, and waited his lordship's
instructions.

They were given in few words. The letters re-directed to the king and
the Duke of Greenwich were returned to him. He thanked his lordship with
many Italian superlatives--declined his lordship's invitation to stay
till the next day at Clermont-park--said he was pressed in point of
time--that it was indispensably necessary for him to be in London,
to deliver these papers, as soon as possible. His eye glanced on the
unopened letter.

"Private, sir," said Lord Oldborough, in a stern voice, without moving
his elbow from the paper: "whatever answer it may require, I shall have
the honour to transmit to you--for the cardinal."

The abbé bowed low, left his address, and took leave. Lord Oldborough,
after attending him to the door, and seeing him depart, returned, took
out his watch, and said to Mr. Percy "Come to me, in my cabinet, in five
minutes."

Seeing his sister on the walk approaching his house, he added, "Let none
follow me."

When the five minutes were over, Mr. Percy went to Lord Oldborough's
cabinet--knocked--no answer--knocked again--louder--all was silent--he
entered--and saw Lord Oldborough seated, but in the attitude of one just
going to rise; he looked more like a statue than a living person: there
was a stiffness in his muscles, and over his face and hands a deathlike
colour. His eyes were fixed, and directed towards the door--but they
never moved when Mr. Percy entered, nor did Lord Oldborough stir at
his approach. From one hand, which hung over the arm of his chair, his
spectacles had dropped; his other hand grasped an open letter.

"My dear lord!" cried Mr. Percy.

He neither heard nor answered. Mr. Percy opened the window and let
down the blind. Then attempting to raise the hand which hung down, he
perceived it was fixed in all the rigidity of catalepsy. In hopes of
recalling his senses or his power of motion, Mr. Percy determined to try
to draw the letter from his grasp; the moment the letter was touched,
Lord Oldborough started--his eyes darting fiercely upon him.

"Who dares? Who are you, sir?" cried he.

"Your friend, Percy--my lord."

Lord Oldborough pointed to a chair--Mr. Percy sat down. His lordship
recovered gradually from the species of trance into which he had fallen.
The cataleptic rigidity of his figure relaxed--the colour of life
returned--the body regained its functions--the soul resumed at once her
powers. Without seeming sensible of any interruption or intermission of
feeling or thought, Lord Oldborough went on speaking to Mr. Percy.

"The letter which I now hold in my hand is from that Italian lady of
transcendent beauty, in whose company you once saw me when we first
met at Naples. She was of high rank--high endowments. I loved her; how
well--I need not--cannot say. We married secretly. I was induced--no
matter how--to suspect her fidelity--pass over these circumstances--I
cannot speak or think of them. We parted--I never saw her more. She
retired to a convent, and died shortly after: nor did I, till I received
this letter, written on her death-bed, know that she had given me a son.
The proofs that I wronged her are irresistible. Would that they had
been given to me when I could have repaired my injustice!--But her pride
prevented their being sent till the hour of her death."

On the first reading of her letter, Lord Oldborough had been so struck
by the idea of the injustice he had done the mother, that he seemed
scarcely to advert to the idea of his having a son. Absorbed in the
past, he was at first insensible both to the present and the future.
Early associations, long dormant, were suddenly wakened; he was carried
back with irresistible force to the days of his youth, and something of
likeness in air and voice to the Lord Oldborough he had formerly
known appeared to Mr. Percy. As the tumult of passionate recollections
subsided, as this enthusiastic reminiscence faded, and the memory of the
past gave way to the sense of the present, Lord Oldborough resumed his
habitual look and manner. His thoughts turned upon his son, that unknown
being who belonged to him, who had claims upon him, who might form a
great addition to the happiness or misery of his life. He took up the
letter again, looked for the passage that related to his son, and
read it anxiously to himself, then to Mr. Percy--observing, "that the
directions were so vague, that it would be difficult to act upon them."

"The boy was sent when three years old to England or Ireland, under the
care of an Irish priest, who delivered him to a merchant, recommended by
the Hamburg banker, &c."

"I shall have difficulty in tracing this--great danger of being mistaken
or deceived," said Lord Oldborough, pausing with a look of anxiety.
"Would to God that I had means of knowing with certainty _where_, and
above all, _what_, he is, or that I had never heard of his existence!"

"My lord, are there any more particulars?" inquired Mr. Percy, eagerly.

Lord Oldborough continued to read, "Four hundred pounds of your English
money have been remitted to him annually, by means of these Hamburg
bankers. To them we must apply in the first instance," said Lord
Oldborough, "and I will write this moment."

"I think, my lord, I can save you the trouble," said Mr. Percy: "I know
the man."

Lord Oldborough put down his pen, and looked at Mr. Percy with
astonishment.

"Yes, my lord, however extraordinary it may appear, I repeat it--I
believe I know your son; and if he be the man I imagine him to be, I
congratulate you--you have reason to rejoice."

"The facts, my dear sir," cried Lord Oldborough: "do not raise my
hopes."

Mr. Percy repeated all that he had heard from Godfrey of Mr.
Henry--related every circumstance from the first commencement of
them--the impertinence and insult to which the mystery that hung
over his birth had subjected him in the regiment--the quarrels in
the regiment--the goodness of Major Gascoigne--the gratitude of Mr.
Henry--the attachment between him and Godfrey--his selling out of the
regiment after Godfrey's ineffectual journey to London--his wishing to
go into a mercantile house--the letter which Godfrey then wrote, begging
his father to recommend Mr. Henry to Mr. Gresham, disclosing to Mr.
Percy, with Mr. Henry's permission, all that he knew of his birth.

"I have that letter at home," said Mr. Percy: "your lordship shall see
it. I perfectly recollect the circumstances of Mr. Henry's having
been brought up in Ireland by a Dublin merchant, and having received
constantly a remittance in quarterly payments of four hundred pounds a
year, from a banker in Cork."

"Did he inquire why, or from whom?" said Lord Oldborough; "and does he
know his mother?"

"Certainly not: the answer to his first inquiries prevented all further
questions. He was told by the bankers that they had directions to stop
payment of the remittance if any questions were asked."

Lord Oldborough listened with profound attention as Mr. Percy went on
with the history of Mr. Henry, relating all the circumstances of his
honourable conduct with respect to Miss Panton--his disinterestedness,
decision, and energy of affection.

Lord Oldborough's emotion increased--he seemed to recognize some traits
of his own character.

"I _hope_ this youth is my son," said his lordship, in a low suppressed
voice.

"He deserves to be yours, my lord," said Mr. Percy.

"To have a son might be the greatest of evils--to have _such_ a son must
be the greatest of blessings," said his lordship. He was lost in thought
for a moment, then exclaimed, "I must see the letter--I must see the
man."

"My lord, he is at my house."

Lord Oldborough started from his seat--"Let me see him instantly."

"To-morrow, my lord," said Mr. Percy, in a calm tone, for it was
necessary to calm his impetuosity--"to-morrow. Mr. Henry could not be
brought here to-night without alarming him, or without betraying to him
the cause of our anxiety."

"To-morrow, let it be--you are right, my dear friend. Let me see him
without his suspecting that I am any thing to him, or he to me--you will
let me have the letter to-night."

"Certainly, my lord."

Mr. Percy sympathized with his impatience, and gratified it with all the
celerity of a friend: the letter was sent that night to Lord Oldborough.
In questioning his sons more particularly concerning Mr. Henry, Mr.
Percy learnt from Erasmus a fresh and strong corroborating circumstance.
Dr. Percy had been lately attending Mr. Gresham's porter, O'Brien, the
Irishman; who had been so ill, that, imagining himself dying, he had
sent for a priest. Mr. Henry was standing by the poor fellow's bedside
when the priest arrived, who was so much struck by the sight of him,
that for some time his attention could scarcely be fixed on the sick
man. The priest, after he had performed his official duties, returned
to Mr. Henry, begged pardon for having looked at him with so much
earnestness, but said that Mr. Henry strongly reminded him of the
features of an Italian lady who had committed a child to his care many
years ago. This led to farther explanation, and upon comparing dates and
circumstances, Mr. Henry was convinced that this was the very priest
who had carried him over to Ireland--the priest recognized him to be the
child of whom he had taken charge; but farther, all was darkness. The
priest knew nothing more--not even the name of the lady from whom he had
received the child. He knew only that he had been handsomely rewarded by
the Dublin merchant, to whom he had delivered the boy--and he had heard
that this merchant had since become bankrupt, and had fled to America.
This promise of a discovery, and sudden stop to his hopes, had only
mortified poor Mr. Henry, and had irritated that curiosity which he had
endeavoured to lull to repose.

Mr. Percy was careful, both for Mr. Henry's sake and for Lord
Oldborough's, not to excite hopes which might not ultimately be
accomplished. He took precautions to prevent him from suspecting any
thing extraordinary in the intended introduction to Lord Oldborough.

There had been some dispute between the present minister and some
London merchant, about the terms of a loan which had been made by Lord
Oldborough--Mr. Gresham's house had some concern in this transaction;
and it was now settled between Mr. Percy and Lord Oldborough, that his
lordship should write to desire to see Mr. Henry, who, as Mr. Gresham's
partner, could give every necessary information. Mr. Henry accordingly
was summoned to Clermont-park, and accompanied Mr. Percy, with his mind
intent upon this business.

Mr. Henry, in common with all who were capable of estimating a great
public character, had conceived high admiration for Lord Oldborough; he
had seen him only in public, and at a distance--and it was not without
awe that he now thought of being introduced to him, and of hearing and
speaking to him in private.

Lord Oldborough, meanwhile, who had been satisfied by the perusal of
the letter, and by Mr. Percy's information, waited for his arrival with
extreme impatience. He was walking up and down his room, and looking
frequently at his watch, which he believed more than once to have
stopped. At length the door opened.

"Mr. Percy, and Mr. Henry, my lord."

Lord Oldborough's eye darted upon Henry. Struck instantly with the
resemblance to the mother, Lord Oldborough rushed forward, and clasping
him in his arms, exclaimed, "My son!"

Tenderness, excessive tenderness, was in his look, voice, soul, as if he
wished to repair in a moment the injustice of years.

"Yes," said Lord Oldborough, "_now_ I am happy--_now_, I also, Mr.
Percy, may be proud of a son--I too shall know the pleasures of domestic
life. Now I am happy!" repeated he,

          "And, pleased, resigned
  To tender passions all his mighty mind."

_March 26th, 1813._

END OF PATRONAGE.



COMIC DRAMAS.



LOVE AND LAW

A DRAMA.

IN THREE ACTS.



DRAMATIS PERSONÆ

   MEN.

   MR. CARVER, of Bob's Fort  .  . _A Justice of the Peace in Ireland._
   OLD MATTHEW McBRIDE  .  .  .  . _A rich Farmer._
   PHILIP McBRIDE   .   .  .  .  . _His Son._
   RANDAL ROONEY    .   .  .  .  . _Son of the Widow Catherine Rooney
                                        --a Lover of Honor McBride._
   MR. GERALD O'BLANEY  .  .  .  . _A Distiller._
   PATRICK COXE     .   .  .  .  . _Clerk to Gerald O'Blaney._

   WOMEN.

   MRS. CARVER      .  .  .  .  . _Wife of Mr. Carver._
   MISS BLOOMSBURY  .  .  .  .  . _A fine London Waiting-maid
                                       of Mrs. Carver's._
   MRS. CATHERINE ROONEY,
        _commonly called_
        CATTY ROONEY   .  .  .  . _A Widow--Mother of Randal Rooney._
   HONOR McBRIDE .  .  .  .  .  . _Daughter of Matthew McBride, and
                                  Sister of Philip McBride._

   A Justice's Clerk--a Constable--Witnesses--and two Footmen.



LOVE AND LAW



ACT I.



SCENE I.


_A Cottage.--A Table--Breakfast._

_HONOR McBRIDE, alone._

_Honor._ Phil!--(_calls_)--Phil, dear! come out.

_Phil._--(_answers from within_) Wait till I draw on my boots!

_Honor._ Oh, I may give it up: he's full of his new boots--and singing,
see!

_Enter PHIL McBRIDE, dressed in the height of the Irish buck-farmer
fashion, singing,_

 "Oh the boy of Ball'navogue!
  Oh the dasher! oh the rogue!
  He's the thing! and he's the pride
  Of town and country, Phil McBride--
  All the talk of shoe and brogue!
  Oh the boy of Ball'navogue!"

There's a song to the praise and glory of your--of your brother, Honor!
And who made it, do you think, girl?

_Honor._ Miss Caroline Flaherty, no doubt. But, dear Phil, I've a favour
to ask of you.

_Phil._ And welcome! What? But first, see! isn't there an elegant pair
of boots, that fits a leg like wax?--There's what'll plase Car'line
Flaherty, I'll engage. But what ails you, Honor?--you look as if your
own heart was like to break. Are not you for the fair to-day?--and why
not?

_Honor._ Oh! rasons. (_Aside_) Now I can't speak.

_Phil._ Speak on, for I'm dumb and all ear--speak up, dear--no fear of
the father's coming out, for he's leaving his _bird_ (i.e. beard) in the
bason, and that's a work of time with him.--Tell all to your own Phil.

_Honor._ Why then I won't go to the fair--because--better keep myself to
myself, out of the way of meeting them that mightn't be too plasing to
my father.

_Phil._ And might be too plasing to somebody else--Honor McBride.

_Honor._ Oh, Phil, dear! But only promise me, brother, dearest, if you
would this day meet any of the Rooneys--

_Phil._ That means Randal Rooney.

_Honor._ No, it was his mother Catty was in my head.

_Phil._ A bitterer scould never was!--nor a bigger lawyer in petticoats,
which is an abomination.

_Honor._ 'Tis not pritty, I grant; but her heart's good, if her temper
would give it fair play. But will you promise me, Phil, whatever she
says--you won't let her provoke you this day.

_Phil._ How in the name of wonder will I hinder her to give me
provocation? and when the spirit of the McBrides is up--

_Honor._ But don't lift a hand.

_Phil._ Against a woman?--no fear--not a finger against a woman.

_Honor._ But I say not against any Rooney, man or woman. Oh, Phil! dear,
don't let there be any fighting betwixt the McBride and Rooney factions.

_Phil._ And how could I hinder if I would? The boys will be having a
row, especially when they get the spirits--and all the better.

_Honor._ To be drinking! Oh! Phil, the mischief that drinking does!

_Phil._ Mischief! Quite and clane the contrary--when the shillelah's up,
the pike's down. 'Tis when there'd be no fights at fairs, and all sober,
then there's rason to dread mischief. No man, Honor, dare be letting the
whiskey into his head, was there any mischief in his heart.

_Honor._ Well, Phil, you've made it out now cliverly. So there's most
danger of mischief when men's sober--is that it?

_Phil._ Irishmen?--ay; for sobriety is not the nat'ral state of the
_craturs_; and what's not nat'ral is hypocritical, and a hypocrite is,
and was, and ever will be my contempt.

_Honor._ And mine too. But--

_Phil._ But here's my hand for you, Honor. They call me a beau and a
buck, a slasher and dasher, and flourishing Phil. All that I am, may
be; but there's one thing I am not, and will never be--and that's a bad
brother to you. So you have my honour, and here's my oath to the back of
it. By all the pride of man and all the consate of woman--where will you
find a bigger oath?--happen what will, this day, I'll not lift my hand
against Randal Rooney!

_Honor._ Oh, thanks! warm from the heart. But here's my father--and
where's breakfast?

_Phil._ Oh! I must be at him for a horse: you, Honor, mind and back me.

_Enter Old McBRIDE._

_Old McB._ Late I am this fair day all along with my beard, that was
thicker than a hedgehog's. Breakfast, where?

_Honor._ Here, father dear--all ready.

_Old McB._ There's a jewel! always supple o' foot. Phil, call to them
to bring out the horse bastes, while I swallow my breakfast--and a good
one, too.

_Phil._ Your horse is all ready standing, sir. But that's what I wanted
to ax you, father--will you be kind enough, sir, to shell out for me the
price of a _daacent_ horse, fit to mount a man like me?

_Old McB._ What ails the baste you have under you always?

_Phil._ Fit only for the hounds:--not to follow, but to feed 'em.

_Old McB._ Hounds! I don't want you, Phil, to be following the hounds
at-all-at-all.

_Honor._ But let alone the hounds. If you sell your bullocks well in the
fair to-day, father dear, I think you'll be so kind to spare Phil the
price of a horse.

_Old McB._ Stand out o' my way, Honor, with that wheedling voice o' your
own--I won't. Mind your own affairs--you're leaguing again me, and I'll
engage Randal Rooney's at the bottom of all--and the cement that sticks
you and Phil so close together. But mind, Madam Honor, if you give him
the meeting at the fair the day--

_Honor._ Dear father, I'm not going--I give up the fair o' purpose, for
fear I'd see him.

_Old McB._ (_kissing her_) Why then you're a piece of an angel!

_Honor._ And you'll give my brother the horse?

_Old McB._ I won't! when I've said I won't--I wont.

[_Buttons his coat, and exit._

_Phil._ Now there's a sample of a father for ye!

_Old McB._ (_returning_) And, Mistress Honor, may be you'd be staying at
home to--Where's Randal Rooney to be, pray, while I'd be from home?

_Honor._ Oh! father, would you suspect--

_Old McB._ (_catching her in his arms, and kissing her again and again_)
Then you're a true angel, every inch of you. But not a word more in
favour of the horse--sure the money for the bullocks shall go to your
portion, every farthing.

_Honor._ There's the thing! (_Holding her father_) I don't wish that.

_Phil._ (_stopping her mouth_) Say no more, Honor--I'm best pleased so.

_Old McB._ (_aside_) I'll give him the horse, but he sha'n't know it.
(_Aloud_) I won't. When I say I won't, did I ever?

[_Exit Old McBRIDE._

_Phil._ Never since the world _stud_--to do you justice, you are as
obstinate as a mule. Not all the bullocks he's carrying to the fair the
day, nor all the bullocks in Ballynavogue joined to 'em, in one team,
would draw that father o' mine one inch out of his way.

_Honor._ (_aside, with a deep sigh_) Oh, then what will I do about
Randal ever!

_Phil._ As close a fisted father as ever had the grip of a guinea! If
the guineas was all for you--wilcome, Honor! But that's not it. Pity of
a lad o' spirit like me to be cramped by such a hunx of a father.

_Honor._ Oh! don't be calling him names, Phil: stiff he is, more
than close--and any way, Phil dear, he's the father still--and ould,
consider.

_Phil._ He is,--and I'm fond enough of him, too, would he only give me
the price of a horse. But no matter--spite of him I'll have my swing
the day, and it's I that will tear away with a good horse under me and
a good whip over him in a capital style, up and down the street of
Ballynavogue, for you, Miss Car'line Flaherty! I know who I'll go to,
this minute--a man I'll engage will lend me the loan of his bay gelding;
and that's Counshillor Gerald O'Blaney. [_Going, HONOR stops him._

_Honor._ Gerald O'Blaney! Oh, brother!--Mercy!--Don't! any thing rather
than that--

_Phil._ (_impatiently_) Why, then, Honor?

_Honor._ (_aside_) If I'd tell him, there'd be mischief. (_Aloud._)
Only--I wouldn't wish you under a compliment to one I've no opinion of.

_Phil._ Phoo! you've taken a prejudice. What is there again Counshillor
O'Blaney?

_Honor._ _Counshillor!_ First place, why do you call him _counshillor_?
he never was a raal counshillor sure--nor jantleman at all.

_Phil._ Oh! counshillor by courtesy--he was an attorney once--just as we
_doctor_ the apotecary.

_Honor._ But, Phil, was not there something of this man's being
dismissed the courts for too sharp practice?

_Phil._ But that was long ago, if it ever was. There's sacrets in all
families to be forgotten--bad to be raking the past. I never knew you so
sharp on a neighbour, Honor, before:--what ails ye?

_Honor._ (_sighing_) I can't tell ye. [_Still holding him._

_Phil._ Let me go, then!--Nonsense!--the boys of Ballynavogue will be
wondering, and Miss Car'line most.

[_Exit, singing,_

  "Oh the boys of Ball'navogue."

_HONOR, alone._

_Honor._ Oh, Phil! I _could_ not tell it you; but did you but know how
_that_ Gerald O'Blaney insulted your shister with his vile proposhals,
you'd no more ask the loan of his horse!--and I in dread, whenever
I'd be left in the house alone, that that bad man would boult in upon
me--and Randal to find him! and Randal's like gunpowder when his heart's
touched!--and if Randal should come _by himself_, worse again! Honor,
where would be your resolution to forbid him your presence? Then there's
but one way to be right--I'll lave home entirely. Down, proud stomach!
You must go to service, Honor McBride. There's Mrs. Carver, kind-hearted
lady, is wanting a girl--she's English, and nice; may be I'd not be
good enough; but I can but try, and do my best; any thing to plase the
father.

[_Exit HONOR._



SCENE II.


_O'BLANEY'S Counting-house._

_GERALD O'BLANEY alone at a desk covered with Papers._

_O'Bla._ Of all the employments in life, this eternal balancing of
accounts, see-saw, is the most sickening of all things, except it
would be the taking the inventory of your stock, when you're reduced to
_invent_ the stock itself;--then that's the most lowering to a man of
all things! But there's one comfort in this distillery business--come
what will, a man has always _proof spirits_.

_Enter PAT COXE._

_Pat._ The whole tribe of Connaught men come, craving to be _ped_ for
the oats, counsellor, due since last Serapht[1] fair.

[Footnote 1: Shrovetide.]

_O'Bla._ Can't be ped to-day, let 'em crave never so.--Tell 'em
_Monday_; and give 'em a glass of whiskey round, and that will send 'em
off contint, in a jerry.

_Pat._ I shall--I will--I see, sir. [_Exit PAT COXE._

_O'Bla._ Asy settled that!--but I hope many more duns for oats won't
be calling on me this day, for cash is not to be had:--here's bills
plenty--long bills, and short bills--but even the kites, which I can fly
as well as any man, won't raise the wind for me now.

_Re-enter PAT._

_Pat._ Tim McGudikren, sir, for his debt--and talks of the sub-sheriff,
and can't wait.

_O'Bla._ I don't ax him to wait; but he must take in payment, since he's
in such a hurry, this bill at thirty-one days, tell him.

_Pat._ I shall tell him so, plase your honour. [_Exit PAT._

_O'Bla._ They have all rendezvous'd to drive me mad this day; but the
only thing is to keep the head cool. What I'm dreading beyant all is,
if that ould Matthew McBride, who is as restless as a ferret when he has
lodged money with any one, should come this day to take out of my hands
the two hundred pounds I've got of his--Oh, then I might shut up! But
stay, I'll match him--and I'll match myself too: that daughter Honor of
his is a mighty pretty girl to look at, and since I can't get her any
other way, why not ax her in marriage? Her portion is to be--

_Re-enter PAT._

_Pat._ The protested note, sir--with the charge of the protest to the
back of it, from Mrs. Lorigan; and her compliments, and to know what
will she do?

_O'Bla._ What will _I_ do, fitter to ax. My kind compliments to Mrs.
Lorigan, and I'll call upon her in the course of the day, to settle it
all.

_Pat._ I understand, sir. [_Exit PAT._

_O'Bla._ Honor McBride's portion will be five hundred pounds on the
nail--that would be no bad hit, and she a good, clever, likely girl.
I'll pop the question this day.

_Re-enter PAT._

_Pat._ Corkeran the cooper's bill, as long as my arm.

_O'Bla._ Oh! don't be bothering me any more. Have you no sinse? Can't
you get shut of Corkeran the cooper without me? Can't ye quarrel with
the items? Tear the bill down the middle, if necessary, and sind him
away with a flay (flea) in his ear, to make out a proper bill--which I
can't see till to-morrow, mind. I never pay any man on fair-day.

_Pat._ (_aside_) Nor on any other day. (_Aloud_) Corkeran's my cousin,
counsellor, and if convanient, I'd be glad you'd advance him a pound or
two on account.

_O'Bla._ 'Tis not convanient was he twenty times your cousin, Pat. I
can't be paying in bits, nor on account--all or none.

_Pat._ None, then, I may tell him, sir?

_O'Bla._ You may--you must; and don't come up for any of 'em any more.
It's hard if I can't have a minute to talk to myself.

_Pat._ And it's hard if I can't have a minute to eat my breakfast, too,
which I have not. [_Exit PAT._

_O'Bla._ Where was I?--I was popping the question to Honor McBride.
The only thing is, whether the girl herself wouldn't have an
objection:--there's that Randal Rooney is a great _bachelor_ of hers,
and I doubt she'd be apt to prefar him before me, even when I'd
purpose marriage. But the families of the Rooneys and McBrides is at
vareance--then I must keep 'em so. I'll keep Catty Rooney's spirit up,
niver to consent to that match. Oh! if them Rooneys and McBrides were
by any chance to make it up, I'd be undone: but against that catastrophe
I've a preventative. Pat Coxe! Pat Coxe! where are you, my young man?

_Enter PAT, wiping his mouth._

_Pat._ Just swallowing my breakfast.

_O'Bla._ Mighty long swallowing you are. Here--don't be two minutes,
till you're at Catty Rooney's, and let me see how cliverly you'll
execute that confidential embassy I trusted you with. Touch Catty up
about her ould ancient family, and all the Kings of Ireland she comes
from. _Blarney_ her cliverly, and work her to a foam against the
McBrides.

_Pat._ Never fear, your honour. I'll tell her the story we agreed on, of
Honor McBride meeting of Randal Rooney behind the chapel.

_O'Bla._ That will do--don't forget the ring; for I mane to put another
on the girl's finger, if she's agreeable, and knows her own interest.
But that last's a private article. Not a word of that to Catty, you
understand.

_Pat._ Oh! I understand--and I'll engage I'll compass Catty, tho' she's
a cunning shaver.

_O'Bla._ Cunning?--No; she's only hot tempered, and asy managed.

_Pat._ Whatever she is, I'll do my best to plase you. And I expict your
honour, counsellor, won't forget the promise you made me, to ask Mr.
Carver for that little place--that situation that would just shute me.

_O'Bla._ Never fear, never fear. Time enough to think of shuting you,
when you've done my business. [_Exit PAT._ That will work like harm, and
ould Matthew, the father, I'll speak to, myself, genteelly. He will be
proud, I warrant, to match his daughter with a gentleman like me. But
what if he should smell a rat, and want to be looking into my affairs?
Oh! I must get it sartified properly to him before all things, that
I'm as safe as the bank; and I know who shall do that for me--my worthy
friend, that most consequential magistrate, Mr. Carver of Bob's Fort,
who loves to be advising and managing of all men, women, and children,
for their good. 'Tis he shall advise ould Matthew for _my_ good. Now
Carver thinks he lades the whole county, and ten mile round--but who is
it lades him, I want to know? Why, Gerald O'Blaney.--And how? Why, by
a spoonful of the universal panacea, _flattery_--in the vulgar tongue,
_flummery_. (_A knock at the door heard._) Who's rapping at the
street?--Carver of Bob's Fort himself, in all his glory this fair-day.
See then how he struts and swells. Did ever man, but a pacock, look so
fond of himself with less rason? But I must be caught deep in accounts,
and a balance of thousands to credit. (_Sits down to his desk,
to account books._) Seven thousand, three hundred, and two pence.
(_Starting and rising._) Do I see Mr. Carver of Bob's Fort?--Oh! the
honour--

_Mr. Carv._ Don't stir, pray--I beg--I request--I insist. I am by no
means ceremonious, sir.

_O'Bla._ (_bustling and setting two chairs_) No, but I'd wish to show
respect proper to him I consider the first man in the county.

_Mr. Carv._ (_aside_) Man! gentleman, he might have said.

[_Mr. CARVER sits down and rests himself consequentially._

_O'Bla._ Now, Mr. Carver of Bob's Fort, you've been over fartiguing
yourself--

_Mr. Carv._ For the public good. I can't help it, really.

_O'Bla._ Oh! but, upon my word and honour, it's too much: there's rason
in all things. A man of Mr. Carver's fortin to be slaving! If you were a
man in business, like me, it would be another thing. I must slave at the
desk to keep all round. See, Mr. Carver, see!--ever since the day you
advised me to be as particular as yourself in keeping accounts to a
farthing, I do, to a fraction, even like state accounts, see!

_Mr. Carv._ And I trust you find your advantage in it, sir. Pray, how
does the distillery business go on?

_O'Bla._ Swimmingly! ever since that time, Mr. Carver, your interest at
the castle helped me at the dead lift, and got that fine took off. 'Tis
to your purtiction, encouragement, and advice entirely, I owe my present
unexampled prosperity, which you prophesied; and Mr. Carver's prophecies
seldom, I may say never, fail to be accomplished.

_Mr. Carv._ I own there is some truth in your observation. I confess I
have seldom been mistaken or deceived in my judgment of man, woman, or
child.

_O'Bla._ Who can say so much?

_Mr. Carv._ For what reason, I don't pretend to say; but the fact
ostensibly is, that the few persons I direct with my advice are
unquestionably apt to prosper in this world.

_O'Bla._ Mighty apt! for which rason I would wish to trouble you for
your unprecedently good advice on another pint, if it, would not be too
great a liberty.

_Mr. Carv._ No liberty at all, my good Gerald--I am always ready to
advise--only to-day--certainly, the fair day of Ballynavogue, there are
so many calls upon me, both in a public and private capacity, so much
business of vital importance!

_O'Bla._ (_aside_) Vital importance!--that is his word on all occasions.
(_Aloud_) May be then, (oh! where was my head?) may be you would not
have breakfasted all this time? and we've the kittle down always in this
house, (_rising_) Pat!--Jack!--Mick!--Jenny! put the kittle down.

_Mr. Carv._ Sit down, sit still, my worthy fellow. Breakfasted at Bob's
Fort, as I always do.

_O'Bla._ But a bit of cake--a glass of wine, to refrish and replinish
nature.

_Mr. Carv._ Too early--spoil my dinner. But what was I going to say?

_O'Bla._ (_aside_) Burn me, if I know; and I pray all the saints you may
never recollect.

_Mr. Carv._ I recollect. How many times do you think I was stopped on
horseback coming up the street of Ballynavogue?--Five times by weights
and measures imperiously calling for reformation, sir. Thirteen times,
upon my veracity, by booths, apple-stalls, nuisances, vagabonds, and
drunken women. Pigs without end, sir--wanting ringing, and all squealing
in my ears, while I was settling sixteen disputes about tolls and
customs. Add to this, my regular battle every fair-day with the
crane, which ought to be any where but where it is; and my perputual
discoveries of fraudulent kegs, and stones in the butter! Now, sir,
I only ask, can you wonder that I wipe my forehead? (_wiping his
forehead_).

_O'Bla._ In troth, Mr. Carver, I cannot! But these are the pains and
penalties of being such a man of consequence as you evidently are;--and
I that am now going to add to your troubles too by consulting you about
my little pint!

_Mr. Carv._ A point of law, I dare to say; for people somehow or other
have got such a prodigious opinion of my law. (_Takes snuff._)

_O'Bla._ (_aside_) No coming to the pint till he has finished his own
panygeric.

_Mr. Carv._ And I own I cannot absolutely turn my back on people. Yet
as to _poor_ people, I always settle them by telling them, it is my
principle that law is too expensive for the poor: I tell them, the poor
have nothing to do with the laws.

_O'Bla._ Except the penal.

_Mr. Carv._ True, the civil is for us, men of property; and no man
should think of going to law, without he's qualified. There should be
licenses.

_O'Bla._ No doubt. Pinalties there are in plinty; still those who can
afford should indulge. In Ireland it would as ill become a gentleman to
be any way shy of a law-shute, as of a duel.

_Mr. Carv._ Yet law is expensive, sir, even to me.

_O'Bla._ But 'tis the best economy in the end; for when once you have
cast or non-shuted your man in the courts, 'tis as good as winged him in
the field. And suppose you don't get sixpence costs, and lose your cool
hundred by it, still it's a great advantage; for you are let alone to
enjoy your own in pace and quiet ever after, which you could not do in
this county without it. But the love of the law has carried me away from
my business: the pint I wanted to consult you about is not a pint of
law; 'tis another matter.

_Mr. Carv._ (_looking at his watch_) I must be at Bob's Fort, to seal my
despatches for the castle. And there's another thing I say of myself.

_O'Bla._ (_aside_) Remorseless agotist!

_Mr. Carv._ I don't know how the people all have got such an idea of my
connexions at the castle, and my influence with his Excellency, that I
am worried with eternal applications: they expect I can make them all
gaugers or attorney-generals, I believe. How do they know I write to the
castle?

_O'Bla._ Oh! the post-office tells asy by the big sales (seals) to your
despatches--(_aside_)--which, I'll engage, is all the castle ever, rades
of them, though Carver has his Excellency always in his mouth, God help
him!

_Mr. Carv._ Well, you wanted to consult me, Gerald?

_O'Bla._ And you'll give me your advice, which will be conclusive, law,
and every thing to me. You know the McBrides--would they be safe?

_Mr. Carv._ Very safe, substantial people.

_O'Bla._ Then here's the thing, Mr. Carver: as you recommend them, and
as they are friends of yours--I will confess to you that, though it
might not in pint of interest be a very prudent match, I am thinking
that Honor McBride is such a prudent girl, and Mrs. Carver has taken her
by the hand, so I'd wish to follow Mrs. Carver's example for life, in
taking Honor by the hand for better for worse.

_Mr. Carv._ In my humble opinion you cannot do better; and I can tell
you a secret--Honor will have no contemptible fortune in that rank of
life.

_O'Bla._ Oh, fortune's always contemptible in marriage.

_Mr. Carv._ Fortune! sir?

_O'Bla._ (_aside_) Overshot. (_Aloud_) In comparison with the patronage
and protection or countenance she'd have from you and your family, sir.

_Mr. Carv._ That you may depend upon, my good Gerald, as far as we can
go; but you know we are nothing.

_O'Bla._ Oh, I know you're every thing--every thing on
earth--particularly with ould McBride; and you know how to speak so well
and iloquent, and I'm so tongue-tied and bashful on such an occasion.

_Mr. Carv._ Well, well, I'll speak for you.

_O'Bla._ A thousand thanks down to the ground.

_Mr. Carv._ (_patting him on the back as he rises_) My _poor_ Gerald.

_O'Bla._ Then I am _poor_ Gerald in point of wit, I know; but you are
too good a friend to be calling me _poor_ to ould McBride--you can say
what I can't say.

_Mr. Carv._ Certainly, certainly; and you may depend on me. I shall
speak my decided opinion; and I fancy McBride has sense enough to be
ruled by me.

_O'Bla._ I am sure he has--only there's a Randal Rooney, a wild young
man, in the case. I'd be sorry the girl was thrown I away upon Randal.

_Mr. Carv._ She has too much sense: the father will settle that, and
I'll settle the father. [_Mr. CARVER going._

_O'Bla._ (_following, aside_) And who has settled you?

_Mr. Carv._ Don't stir--don't stir--men of business must be nailed to a
spot--and I'm not ceremonious. [_Exit Mr. CARVER._

_O'Bla._ Pinned him by all that's cliver! [_Exit O'BLANEY._



SCENE III.


_Mrs. CARVER'S Dressing-room._

_Mrs. CARVER sitting at work.--BLOOMSBURY standing._

_Bloom._ Certainly, ma'am, what I always said was, that for the
commonalty, there's no getting out of an Irish cabin a girl fit to be
about a lady such as you, Mrs. Carver, in the shape of a waiting-maid
or waiting-maid's assistant, on account they smell so of smoke, which
is very distressing; but this Honor McBride seems a bettermost sort of
girl, ma'am; if you can make up your mind to her _vice_.

_Mrs. Carv._ Vice?

_Bloom._ That is, vicious pronounciations in regard to their Irish
brogues.

_Mrs. Carv._ Is that all?--I am quite accustomed to _the accent_.

_Bloom._ Then, ma'am, I declare now, I've been forced to stuff my
_hears_ with cotton wool hever since I comed to Ireland. But this here
Honor McBride has a mighty pretty _vice_, if you don't take exceptions
to a little nationality; nor she if not so smoke-dried: she's really a
nice, tidy-looking like girl considering. I've taken tea with the family
often, and they live quite snug for Hirish. I'll assure you, ma'am,
quite bettermost people for Hibernians, as you always said, ma'am.

_Mrs. Carv._ I have a regard for old Matthew, though he is something of
a miser, I fear.

_Bloom._ So, ma'am, shall I call the girl up, that we may see and talk
to her? I think, ma'am, you'll find she will do; and I reckon to keep
her under my own eye and advice from morning till night: for when I seed
the girl so willing to larn, I quite took a fancy to her, I own--as it
were.

_Mrs. Carv._ Well, Bloomsbury, let me see this Honor McBride.

_Bloom._ (_calling_) One of you there! please call up Honor McBride.

_Mrs. Carv._ She has been waiting a great while, I fear; I don't like to
keep people waiting.

_Bloom._ (_watching for HONOR as she speaks_) Dear heart, ma'am, in
this here country, people does love waiting for waiting's sake, that's
sure--they got nothing else to do. Here, Honor--walk in, Honor,--rub
your shoes always.

_Enter HONOR, timidly._

_Mrs. Carv._ (_in an encouraging voice_) Come in, my good girl.

_Bloom._ Oh! child, the door: the peoples never shut a door in, Ireland!
Did not I warn you?--says I, "Come when you're called--do as you're
bid--shut the door after you, and you'll never be chid." Now what did I
tell you, child?

_Honor._ To shut the door after me when I'd come into a room.

_Bloom._ _When I'd come_--now that's not dic'snary English.

_Mrs. Carv._ Good Bloomsbury, let that pass for the present--come a
little nearer to me, my good girl.

_Honor._ Yes, ma'am.

_Bloom._ Take care of that china pyramint with your cloak--walk on to
Mrs. Carver--no need to be afraid--I'll stand your friend.

_Mrs. Carv._ I should have thought, Honor McBride, you were in too
comfortable a way at home, to think of going into service.

_Honor._ (_sighs_) No better father, nor brother, _nor_ (than) I have,
ma'am, I thank your ladyship; but some things come across.

_Mrs. Carv._ (_aside_) Oh! it is a blushing case, I see: I must talk to
her alone, by-and-by. (_Aloud_) I don't mean, my good girl, to pry into
your family affairs.

_Honor._ Oh! ma'am, you're too good. (_Aside_) The kind-hearted Lady,
how I love her already! (_She wipes the tears from her eyes._)

_Bloom._ Take care of the bow-pot at your elbow, child; for if you break
the necks of them moss roses--

_Honor._ I ax their pardon.

_Mrs. Carv._ Better take the flower-pot out of her way, Bloomsbury.

_Bloom._ (_moving the flower-pot_) There, now: but, Honor, keep your
eyes on my lady, never turn your head, and keep your hands always afore
you, as I show you. Ma'am, she'll larn manners in time--Lon'on was not
built in a day. It i'n't to be expected of she!

_Mrs. Carv._ It is not to be expected indeed that she should learn every
thing at once; so one thing at a time, good Bloomsbury, and one person
at a time. Leave Honor to me for the present.

_Bloom._ Certainly, ma'am; I beg pardon--I was only saying--

_Mrs. Carv._ Since it is, it seems, necessary, my good girl, that you
should leave home, I am glad that you are not too proud to go into
service.

_Honor._ Oh! into _your_ service, ma'am,--I'd be too proud if you'd be
kind enough to accept me.

_Mrs. Carv._ Then as to wages, what do you expect?

_Honor._ Any thing at all you please, ma'am.

_Bloom._ (_pressing down her shoulder_) And where's your curtsy? We
shall bring these Irish knees into training by and by, I hopes.

_Honor._ I'm awk'ard and strange, ma'am--I never was from home afore.

_Mrs. Carv._ Poor girl--we shall agree very well, I hope.

_Honor._ Oh yes, any thing at all, ma'am; I'm not greedy--nor needy,
thanks above! but it's what I'd wish to be under your protection if it
was plasing, and I'll do my very best, madam. (_Curtsies._)

_Mrs. Carv._ Nobody can expect more, and I hope and trust you'll find
mine an easy place--Bloomsbury, you will tell her, what will be required
of her. (_Mrs. Carver looks at her watch._) At twelve o'clock I shall
be returned from my walk, and then, Honor, you will come into my cabinet
here; I want to say a few words to you. [_Exeunt omnes._



SCENE IV.


_The High Road--A Cottage in view--Turf-stack, Hay-rick, &c._

_Catty Rooney alone, walking backwards and forwards._

_Catty._ 'Tis but a stone's throw to Ballynavogue. But I don't like to
be going into the fair on foot, when I been always used to go in upon
my pillion behind my husband when living, and my son Randal, after his
death. Wait, who comes here?--'Tis Gerald O'Blaney's, the distiller's,
young man, Pat Coxe: now we'll larn all--and whether O'Blaney can lend
me the loan of a horse or no. A good morrow to you, kindly, Mr. Pat
Coxe.

_Enter PAT COXE._

_Pat._ And you the same, Mrs. Rooney, tinfold. Mr. O'Blaney has his
_sarvices_ to you, ma'am: no, not his _sarvices_, but his compliments,
that was the word--his kind compliments, that was the very word.

_Catty._ The counshillor's always very kind to me, and genteel.

_Pat._ And was up till past two in the morning, last night, madam, he
bid me say, looking over them papers you left with him for your shuit,
ma'am, with the McBrides, about the bit of Ballynascraw bog; and if you
call upon the counshillor in the course of the morning, he'll find, or
make, a minute, for a consultation, he says. But mane time, to take no
step to compromise, or make it up, _for your life_, ma'am.

_Catty._ No fear, I'll not give up at law, or any way, to a McBride,
while I've a drop of blood in my veins--and it's good thick Irish blood
runs in these veins.

_Pat._ No doubt, ma'am--from the kings of Ireland, as all the world
knows, Mrs. Rooney.

_Catty._ And the McBrides have no blood at-all-at-all.

_Pat._ Not a drop, ma'am--so they can't stand before you.

_Catty._ They _ought_ not, any way!--What are they? Cromwellians at the
best. Mac Brides! Scotch!--not Irish native, at-all-at-all. People of
yesterday, graziers--which tho' they've made the money, can't buy the
blood. My anshestors sat on a throne, when the McBrides had only their
_hunkers_[1] to sit upon; and if I walk now when they ride, they can't
look down upon me--for every body knows who I am--and what they are.

[Footnote 1: Their _hunkers_, i.e. their hams.]

_Pat._ To be sure, ma'am, they do--the whole country talks of nothing
else, but the shame when you'd be walking and they riding.

_Catty._ Then could the counshillor lend me the horse?

_Pat._ With all the pleasure in life, ma'am, only every horse he has in
the world is out o' messages, and drawing turf and one thing or another
to-day--and he is very sorry, ma'am.

_Catty._ So am I, then--I'm unlucky the day. But I won't be saying so,
for fear of spreading ill luck on my faction. Pray now what kind of a
fair is it?--Would there be any good signs of a fight, Mr. Pat Coxe?

_Pat._ None in life as yet, ma'am--only just buying and selling. The
horse-bastes, and horned-cattle, and pigs squeaking, has it all to
themselves. But it's early times yet--it won't be long so.

_Catty._ No McBrides, no Ballynavogue boys gathering yet?

_Pat._ None to signify of the McBrides, ma'am, at all.

_Catty._ Then it's plain them McBrides dare not be showing their faces,
or even their backs, in Ballynavogue. But sure all our Ballynascraw
boys, the Roonies, are in it as usual, I hope?

_Pat._ Oh, ma'am, there is plinty of Roonies. I marked Big Briny of
Cloon, and Ulick of Eliogarty, and little Charley of Killaspugbrone.

_Catty._ All _good_ men[1]--no better. Praise be where due.

[Footnote 1: men who fight well.]

_Pat._ And scarce a McBride I noticed. But the father and son--ould
Matthew, and flourishing Phil, was in it, with a new pair of boots and
the silver-hilted whip.

_Catty._ The spalpeen! turned into a buckeen, that would be a
squireen,--but can't.

_Pat._ No, for the father pinches him.

_Catty._ That's well--and that ould Matthew is as obstinate a neger as
ever famished his stomach. What's he doing in Ballynavogue the day?

_Pat._ Standing he is there, in the fair-green with his score of fat
bullocks, that he has got to sell.

_Catty._ Fat bullocks! Them, I reckon, will go towards Honor McBride's
portion, and a great fortin she'll be for a poor man--but I covet none
of it for me or mine.

_Pat._ I'm sure of that, ma'am,--you would not demane yourself to the
likes.

_Catty._ Mark me, Pat Coxe, now--with all them fat bullocks at her back,
and with all them fresh roses in her cheeks--and I don't say but she's a
likely girl, if she wa'n't a McBride; but with all that, and if she was
the best spinner in the three counties--and I don't say but she's good,
if she wa'n't a McBride;--but was she the best of the best, and the
fairest of the fairest, and had she to boot the two stockings full of
gould, Honor McBride shall never be brought home, a daughter-in-law to
me! My pride's up.

_Pat._ (_aside_) And I'm instructed to keep it up.--(_Aloud_) True for
ye, ma'am, and I wish that all had as much proper pride, as ought to be
having it.

_Catty._ There's maning in your eye, Pat--give it tongue.

_Pat._ If you did not hear it, I suppose there's no truth in it.

_Catty._ What?--which?

_Pat._ That your son Randal, Mrs. Rooney, is not of your way of thinking
about Honor McBride, may be's.

_Catty._ Tut! No matter what way of thinking he is--a young slip of a
boy like him does not know what he'll think to-morrow. He's a good son
to me; and in regard to a wife, one girl will do him as well as another,
if he has any sinse--and I'll find him a girl that will plase him, I'll
engage.

_Pat._ May be so, ma'am--no fear: only boys do like to be plasing
themselves, by times--and I noticed something.

_Catty._ What did you notice?--till me, Pat, dear, quick.

_Pat._ No--'tis bad to be meddling and remarking to get myself ill-will;
so I'll keep myself to myself: for Randal's ready enough with his hand
as you with the tongue--no offence, Mrs. Rooney, ma'am.

_Catty._ Niver fear--only till me the truth, Pat, dear.

_Pat._ Why, then, to the best of my opinion, I seen Honor McBride just
now giving Randal Rooney the meeting behind the chapel; and I seen him
putting a ring on her finger.

_Catty._ (_clasping her hands_) Oh, murder!--Oh! the unnat'ral monsters
that love makes of these young men; and the traitor, to use me so, when
he promised he'd never make a stolen match unknown'st to me.

_Pat._ Oh, ma'am, I don't say--I wouldn't swear--it's a match yet.

_Catty._ Then I'll run down and stop it--and catch 'em.

_Pat._ You haven't your jock on, ma'am--(_she turns towards the
house_)--and it's no use--for you won't catch 'em: I seen them after,
turning the back way into Nick Flaherty's.

_Catty._ Nick Flaherty's, the publican's? oh, the sinners! And this is
the saint that Honor McBride would be passing herself upon us for? And
all the edication she got at Mrs. Carver's Sunday school! Oh, this comes
of being better than one's neighbours! A fine thing to tell Mrs. Carver,
the English lady, that's so nice, and so partial to Miss Honor McBride!
Oh, I'll expose her!

_Pat._ Oh! sure, Mrs. Rooney, you promised you'd not tell, (_Standing so
as to stop CATTY._)

_Catty._ Is it who told me? No--I won't mintion a sintence of your name.
But let me by--I won't be put off now I've got the scent. I'll hunt 'em
out, and drag her to shame, if they're above ground, or my name's not
Catty Rooney! Mick! Mick! little Mick! (_calling at the cottage door_)
bring my blue _jock_ up the road after me to Ballynavogue. Don't let
me count three till you're after me, or I'll bleed ye! (_Exit CATTY,
shaking her closed hand, and repeating_) I'll expose Honor McBride--I'll
expose Honor! I will, by the blessing!

_Pat._ (_alone_) Now, if Randal Rooney would hear, he'd make a jelly
of me, and how I'd trimble; or the brother, if he comed across me, and
knewed. But they'll niver know. Oh, Catty won't say a sintence of my
name, was she carded! No, Catty's a scould, but has a conscience. Then I
like conscience in them I have to dale with sartainly. [_Exit._



SCENE V.


_Mrs. CARVER'S Dressing-room, HONOR McBRIDE and MISS BLOOMSBURY
discovered._

_Honor._ How _will_ I know, Miss Bloomsbury, when it will be twelve
o'clock?

_Bloom._ You'll hear the clock strike: but I suspect you'se don't
understand the clock yet--well, you'll hear the workmen's bell.

_Honor._ I know, ma'am, oh, I know, true--only I was flurried, so I
forgot.

_Bloom._ Flurried! but never be flurried. Now mind and keep your head
upon your shoulders, while I tell you all your duty--you'll just ready
this here room, your lady's dressing-room; not a partical of dust let me
never find, petticlarly behind the vindor shuts.

_Honor._ Vindor shuts!--where, ma'am?

_Bloom._ The _shuts_ of the _vindors_--did you never hear of a vindor,
child?

_Honor._ Never, ma'am.

_Bloom._ (_pointing to a window_) Don't tell me! why, your head is
a wool-gathering! Now, mind me, pray--see here, always you put that
there,--and this here, and that upon that,--and this upon this, and this
under that,--and that under this--you can remember that much, child, I
supposes?

_Honor._ I'll do my endeavour, ma'am, to remember all.

_Bloom._ But mind, now, my good girl, you takes _petticlar_ care of this
here pyramint of japanned china--and _very_ petticlar care of that there
great joss--and the _very most petticularest_ care of this here right
reverend Mandolin. (_Pointing to, and touching a Mandarin, so as to make
it shake. HONOR starts back._)

_Bloom._ It i'n't alive. Silly child, to start at a Mandolin shaking his
head and beard at you. But, oh! mercy, if there i'n't enough to make him
shake his head. Stand there!--stand here!--now don't you see?

_Honor._ _Which_, ma'am?

_Bloom._ "_Which, ma'am!_" you're no _witch_, indeed, if you don't see a
cobweb as long as my arm. Run, run, child, for the pope's head.

_Honor._ Pope's head, ma'am?

_Bloom._ Ay, the pope's head, which you'll find under the stairs. Well,
a'n't you gone? what do you stand there like a stuck pig, for?--Never
see a pope's head?--never 'ear of a pope's head?

_Honor._ I've heard of one, ma'am--with the priest; but we are
protestants.

_Bloom._ Protestants! what's that to do? I do protest, I believe that
little head of yours is someway got wrong on your shoulders to-day.
[_The clock strikes_--HONOR, _who is close to it, starts._

_Bloom._ Start again!--why, you're all starts and fits. Never start,
child! so ignoramus like! 'tis only the clock in your ear,--twelve
o'clock, hark!--The bell will ring now in a hurry. Then you goes in
there to my lady--stay, you'll never be able, I dare for to say, for to
open the door without me; for I opine you are not much usen'd to brass
locks in Hirish cabins--can't be expected. See here, then! You turns the
lock in your hand this'n ways--the lock, mind now; not the key nor the
bolt for your life, child, else you'd bolt your lady in, and there'd be
my lady in Lob's pound, and there'd be a pretty kettle, of fish!--So you
keep, if you can, all I said to you in your head, if possible--and you
goes in there--and I goes out here.

[_Exit BLOOMSBURY._

_Honor._ (curtsying) Thank ye, ma'am. Then all this time I'm sensible
I've been behaving and looking little better than like a fool, or an
_innocent._--But I hope I won't be so bad when the lady shall speak to
me. (_The bell rings._) Oh, the bell summons me in here.--(_Speaks with
her hand on the lock of the door_) The lock's asy enough--I hope I'll
take courage--(_sighs_)--Asier to spake before one nor two, any way--and
asier tin times to the mistress than the maid. [_Exit HONOR._



ACT II.



SCENE I.


_GERALD O'BLANEY'S Counting-house._

_O'BLANEY alone._

_O'Bla._ Then I wonder that ould Matthew McBride is not here yet. But
is not this Pat Coxe coming up yonder? Ay. Well, Pat, what success with
Catty?

_Enter PAT COXE, panting._

Take breath, man alive--What of Catty?

_Pat._ Catty! Oh, murder! No time to be talking of Catty now! Sure the
shupervizor's come to town.

_O'Bla._ Blood!--and the malt that has not paid duty in the cellar! Run,
for your life, to the back-yard, give a whistle to call all the boys
that's ricking o' the turf, away with 'em to the cellar, out with every
sack of malt that's in it, through the back-yard, throw all into the
middle of the turf-stack, and in the wink of an eye build up the rick
over all, snoog (snug).

_Pat._ I'll engage we'll have it done in a crack. [_Exit PAT._

_O'Bla._ (_calling after him_) Pat! Pat Coxe! man!

_Re-enter PAT._

_O'Bla._ Would there be any fear of any o' the boys _informin_?

_Pat._ Sooner cut their ears off! [_Exit PAT._

_Enter Old McBRIDE, at the opposite side._

_Old McB._ (_speaking in a slow, drawling brogue_) Would Mr. Gerald
O'Blaney, the counsellor, be within?

_O'Bla._ (_quick brogue_) Oh, my best friend, Matthew McBride, is it
you, dear? Then here's Gerald O'Blaney, always at your sarvice. But
shake hands; for of all men in Ireland, you are the man I was aching to
lay my eyes on. And in the fair did ye happen to meet Carver of Bob's
Fort?

_Old McB._ (_speaking very slowly_) Ay. did I--and he was a-talking
to me, and I was a-talking to him--and he's a very good gentleman, Mr.
Carver of Bob's Fort--so he is--and a gentleman that knows how things
should be; and he has been giving of me, Mr. O'Blaney, a great account
of you, and how you're thriving in the world--and so as that.

_O'Bla._ Nobody should know that better than Mr. Carver of Bob's
Fort--he knows all my affairs. He is an undeniable honest gentleman, for
whom I profess the highest regard.

_Old McB._ Why then he has a great opinion of you too, counsellor--for
he has been advising of, and telling of me, O'Blaney, of your proposhal,
sir--and very sinsible I am of the honour done by you to our family,
sir--and condescension to the likes of us--though, to be sure, Honor
McBride, though she is my daughter, is a match for any man.

_O'Bla._ Is a match for a prince--a Prince Ragent even. So no more about
condescension, my good Matthew, for love livels all distinctions.

_Old McB._ That's very pretty of you to say so, sir; and I'll repeat it
to Honor.

_O'Bla._ Cupid is the great liveller, after all, and the only democrat
Daity on earth I'd bow to--for I know you are no democrat, Mr. McBride,
but quite and clane the contrary way.

_Old McB._ Quite and clane and stiff, I thank my God; and I'm glad, in
spite of the vowel before your name, Mr. O'Blaney, to hear you are of
the same kidney.

_O'Bla._ I'm happy to find myself agreeable to you, sir.

_Old McB._ But, however agreeable to me, as I won't deny, it might be,
sir, to see my girl made into a gentlewoman by marriage, I must observe
to you--

_O'Bla._ And I'll keep her a jaunting car to ride about the country;
and in another year, as my fortune's rising, my wife should rise with it
into a coach of her own.

_Old McB._ Oh! if I'd live to see my child, my Honor, in a coach of her
own! I'd be too happy--oh, I'd die contint!

_O'Bla._ (_aside_) No fear!--(_Aloud_) And why should not she ride in
her own coach, Mistress Counsellor O'Blaney, and look out of the windows
down upon the _Roonies_, that have the insolence to look up to her?

_Old McB._ Ah! you know _that_, then. That's all that's against us, sir,
in this match.

_O'Bla._ But if _you_ are against Randal, no fear.

_Old McB._ I am against him--that is, against his family, and all his
seed, breed, and generation. But I would not break my daughter's heart
if I could help it.

_O'Bla._ Wheugh!--hearts don't break in these days, like china.

_Old McB._ This is my answer, Mr. O'Blaney, sir: you have my lave, but
you must have hers too.

_O'Bla._ I would not fear to gain that in due time, if you would stand
my friend in forbidding her the sight of Randal.

_Old McB._ I will with pleasure, that--for tho' I won't force her to
marry to plase me, I'll forbid her to marry to displase me; and when
I've said it, whatever it is, I'll be obeyed. (_Strikes his stick on the
ground._)

_O'Bla._ That is all I ax.

_Old McB._ But now what settlement, counshillor, will you make on my
girl?

_O'Bla._ A. hundred a year--I wish to be liberal--Mr. Carver will see to
that--he knows all my affairs, as I suppose he was telling you.

_Old McB._ He was--I'm satisfied, and I'm at a word myself always. You
heard me name my girl's portion, sir?

_O'Bla._ I can't say--I didn't mind--'twas no object to me in life.

_Old McB._ (_in a very low, mysterious tone, and slow brogue_) Then five
hundred guineas is some object to most men.

_O'Bla._ Certainly, sir; but not such an object as your daughter to me:
since we are got upon business, however, best settle all that out of
the way, as you say at once. Of the five hundred, I have two in my hands
already, which you can make over to me with a stroke of a pen. (_Rising
quickly, and getting pen, ink, and books._)

_Old McB._ (_speaking very slowly_) Stay a hit--no hurry--in life. In
business--'tis always most haste, worse speed.

_O'Bla._ Take your own time, my good Matthew--I'll be as slow as you
plase--only love's quick.

_Old McB._ Slow and sure--love and all--fast bind, fast find--three and
two, what does that make?

_O'Bla._ It used to make five before I was in love.

_Old McB._ And will the same after you're married and dead. What am I
thinking of? A score of bullocks I had in the fair--half a score sold
in my pocket, and owing half--that's John Dolan, twelve pound tin--and
Charley Duffy nine guineas and thirteen tin pinnies and a five-penny
bit: stay, then, put that to the hundred guineas in the stocking at
home.

_O'Bla._ (_aside_) How he makes my mouth water: (_Aloud_) May be,
Matthew, I could, that am used to it, save you the trouble of counting?

_Old McB._ No trouble in life to me ever to count my money--only I'll
trouble you, sir, if you please, to lock that door; bad to be chinking
and spreading money with doors open, for walls has ears and eyes.

_O'Bla._ True for you. (_Rising, and going to lock the doors._)

[_Old McBRIDE with great difficulty, and very slowly, draws out of his
pocket his bag of money--looking first at one door, and then at the
other, and going to try whether they are locked, before he unties his
bag._]

_Old McB._ (_spreads and counts his money and notes_) See me now, I
wrote on some scrap somewhere 59_l._ in notes--then hard cash, twinty
pounds--rolled up silver and gould, which is scarce--but of a hundred
pounds there's wanting fourteen pounds odd, I think, or something
that way; for Phil and I had our breakfast out of a one pound note of
Finlay's, and I put the change somewhere--besides a riband for Honor,
which make a deficiency of fourteen pounds seven shillings and two
pence--that's what's deficient--count it which way you will.

_O'Bla._ (_going to sweep the money off the table_) Oh! never mind the
deficiency--I'll take it for a hundred plump.

_Old McB._ (_stopping him_) Plump me no plumps--I'll have it exact, or
not at all--I'll not part it, so let me see it again.

_O'Bla._ (_aside with a deep sigh, almost a groan_) Oh! when I had had
it in my fist--almost: but 'tis as hard to get money out of this man as
blood out of a turnip; and I'll be lost to-night without it.

_Old McB._ 'Tis not exact--and I'm exact: I'll put it all up again--(_he
puts it deliberately into the bag again, thrusting the bag into his
pocket_)--I'll make it up at home my own way, and send it in to you by
Phil in an hour's time; for I could not sleep sound with so much in my
house--bad people about--safer with you in town. Mr. Carver says,
you are as good as the Bank of Ireland--there's no going beyond that.
(_Buttoning up his pockets._) So you may unlock the doors and let me
out now--I'll send Phil with all to you, and you'll give him a bit of a
receipt or a token, that would do.

_O'Bla._ I shall give a receipt by all means--all regular: short
accounts make long friends. (_Unlocks the door._)

_Old McB._ True, sir, and I'll come in and see about the settlements in
the morning, if Honor is agreeable.

_O'Bla._ I shall make it my business to wait upon the young lady myself
on the wings of love; and I trust I'll not find any remains of Randal
Rooney in her head.

_Old McB._ Not if I can help it, depend on that. (_They shake hands._)

_O'Bla._ Then, fare ye well, father-in-law--that's meat and drink to me:
would not ye take a glass of wine then?

_Old McB._ Not a drop--not a drop at all--with money about me: I must be
in a hurry home.

_O'Bla._ That's true--so best: recommind me kindly to Miss Honor, and
say a great dale about my impatience--and I'll be expicting Phil, and
won't shut up till he comes the night.

_Old McB._ No, don't; for he'll be with you before night-fall. [_Exit
McBRIDE._

_O'Bla._ (_calling_) Dan! open the door, there: Dan! Joe! open the door
smart for Mr. McBride! (O'BLANEY _rubbing his hands._) Now I think I
may pronounce myself made for life--success to my parts!--and here's Pat
too! Well, Pat Coxe, what news of the thing in hand?

_Enter PAT COXE._

_Pat._ Out of hand clane! that job's nately done. The turf-rick, sir,
's built up cliver, with the malt snug in the middle of its stomach--so
were the shupervishor a conjuror even, barring he'd dale with the ould
one, he'd never suspict a sentence of it.

_O'Bla._ Not he--he's no conjuror: many's the dozen tricks I played him
afore now.

_Pat._ But, counshillor, there's the big veshel in the little passage--I
got a hint from a friend, that the shuper got information of the spirits
in that from some villain.

_O'Bla._ And do you think I don't know a trick for that, too?

_Pat._ No doubt: still, counshillor, I'm in dread of my life that that
great big veshel won't be implied in a hurry.

_O'Bla._ Won't it? but you'll see it will, though; and what's more, them
spirits will turn into water for the shupervisor.

_Pat._ Water! how?

_O'Bla._ Asy--the ould tan-pit that's at the back of the distillery.

_Pat._ I know--what of it?

_O'Bla._ A sacret pipe I've got fixed to the big veshel, and the pipe
goes under the wall for me into the tan-pit, and a sucker I have in the
big veshel, which I pull open by a string in a crack, and lets all off
all clane into the tan-pit.

_Pat._ That's capital!--but the water?

_O'Bla._ From the pump, another pipe--and the girl's pumping asy, for
she's to wash to-morrow, and knows nothing about it; and so the big
veshel she fills with water, wondering what ails the water that it
don't come--and I set one boy and another to help her--and the pump's
bewitched, and that's all:--so that's settled.

_Pat._ And cliverly. Oh! counshillor, we are a match for the shuper any
day or night.

_O'Bla._ For him and all his tribe, _coursing_ officers and all. I'd
desire no better sport than to hear the whole pack in full cry after
me, and I doubling, and doubling, and safe at my form at last. With you,
Pat, my precious, to drag the herring over the ground previous to the
hunt, to distract the scent, and defy the nose of the dogs.

_Pat._ Then I am proud to sarve you, counshillor.

_O'Bla._ I know you are, and a very honest boy. And what did you do for
me, with Catty Rooney?

_Pat._ The best.--Oh! it's I _blarny'd_ Catty to the skies, and then
egged her on, and aggravated her against the McBrides, till I left her
as mad as e'er a one in Bedlam--up to any thing! And full tilt she's off
to Flaherty's, the publican, in her blue jock--where she'll not be long
afore she kicks up a quarrel, I'll engage; for she's sarching the
house for Honor McBride, who is _not_ in it--and giving bad language, I
warrant, to all the McBride faction, who _is_ in it, drinking. Oh!
trust Catty's tongue for breeding a riot! In half an hour, I'll warrant,
you'll have as fine a fight in town as ever ye seen or _hard_.

_O'Bla._ That's iligantly done, Pat. But I hope Randal Rooney is in it?

_Pat._ In the thick of it he is, or will be. So I hope your honour did
not forgit to spake to Mr. Carver about that little place for me?

_O'Bla._ Forgit!--Do I forgit my own name, do you think? Sooner forgit
that _then_ my promises.

_Pat._ Oh! I beg your honour's pardon--I would not doubt your word;
and to make matters sure, and to make Catty cockahoop, I tould her, and
swore to her, there was not a McBride in the town but two, and there's
twinty, more or less.

_O'Bla._ And when she sees them twinty, more or less, what will she
think?--Why would you say that?--she might find you out in a lie next
minute, Mr. Overdo. 'Tis dangerous for a young man to be telling more
lies than is absolutely requisite. The _lie superfluous_ brings many an
honest man, and, what's more, many a cliver fellow, into a scrape--and
that's your great fau't, Pat.

_Pat._ Which, sir?

_O'Bla._ _That_, sir. I don't see you often now take a glass too much.
But, Pat, I hear you often still are too apt to indulge in a lie too
much.

_Pat._ Lie! Is it I?--Whin upon my conscience, I niver to my knowledge
tould a lie in my life, since I was born, excipt it would be just to
skreen a man, which is charity, sure,--or to skreen myself, which is
self-defence, sure--and that's lawful; or to oblige your honour, by
particular desire, and _that_ can't be helped, I suppose.

_O'Bla._ I am not saying again all that--only (_laying his hand on_
PAT'S _shoulder as he is going out_) against another time, all I'm
warning you, young man, is, you're too apt to think there never can be
lying enough. Now too much of a good thing is good for nothing. [_Exit
O'BLANEY._

_PAT, alone._

_Pat._ There's what you may call the divil rebuking sin--and now we talk
of the like, as I've heard my _mudther_ say, that he had need of a long
spoon that ates wid the divil--so I'll look to that in time. But whose
voice is that I hear coming up stairs? I don't believe but it's Mr.
Carver--only what should bring him back agin, I wonder now? Here he is,
all out of breath, coming.

_Enter Mr. CARVER._

_Mr. Carv._ Pray, young man, did you happen to see--(_panting for
breath_) Bless me, I've ridden so fast back from Bob's Fort!

_Pat._ My master, sir, Mr. O'Blaney, is it? Will I run?

_Mr. Carv._ No, no--stand still till I have breath.--What I want is a
copy of a letter I dropped some where or other--here I think it must
have been, when I took out my handkerchief--a copy of a letter to his
Excellency--of great consequence. (_Mr. CARVER sits down and takes
breath._)

_Pat._ (_searching about with officious haste_) If it's above ground,
I'll find it. What's this?--an old bill: that is not it. Would it be
this, crumpled up?--"To His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland."

_Mr. Carv._ (_snatching_) No farther, for your life!

_Pat._ Well then I was lucky I found it, and proud.

_Mr. Carv._ And well you may be, young man; for I can assure you, on
this letter the fate of Ireland may depend. (_Smoothing the letter on
his knee._)

_Pat._ I wouldn't doubt it--when it's a letter of your honour's--I know
your honour's a great man at the castle. And plase your honour, I take
this opportunity of tanking your honour for the encouragement I got
about that little clerk's place--and here's a copy of my hand-writing
I'd wish to show your honour, to see I'm capable--and a scholard.

_Mr. Carv._ Hand-writing! Bless me, young man, I have no time to look
at your hand-writing, sir. With the affairs of the nation on my
shoulders--can you possibly think?--is the boy mad?--that I've time to
revise every poor scholar's copy-book?

_Pat._ I humbly beg your honour's pardon, but it was only becaase I'd
wish to show I was not quite so unworthy to be under (whin you've time)
your honour's protection, as promised.

_Mr. Carv._ My protection?--you are not under my protection,
sir:--promised clerk's place?--I do not conceive what you are aiming at,
sir.

_Pat._ The little clerk's place, plase your honour--that my master,
Counshillor O'Blaney, tould me he spoke about to your honour, and was
recommending me for to your honour.

_Mr. Carv._ Never--never heard one syllable about it, till this moment.

_Pat._ Oh! murder:--but I expict your honour's goodness will--

_Mr. Carv._ To make your mind easy, I promised to appoint a young man to
that place, a week ago, by Counsellor O'Blaney's special recommendation.
So there must be some mistake.

[_Exit Mr. CARVER._]


_PAT, alone._

_Pat._ Mistake? ay, mistake on purpose. So he never spoke! so he
lied!--my master that was praching me! And oh, the dirty lie he tould
me! Now I can't put up with that, when I was almost perjuring myself for
him at the time. Oh, if I don't fit him for this! And he got the place
given to another!--then I'll git him as well sarved, and out of this
place too--seen-if-I-don't! He is cunning enough, but I'm cuter nor
he--I have him in my power, so I have! and I'll give the shupervizor a
scent of the malt in the turf-stack--and a hint of the spirits in the
tan-pit--and it's I that will like to stand by innocent, and see how
shrunk O'Blaney's double face will look forenent the shupervizor, when
all's found out, and not a word left to say, but to pay--ruined hand
and foot! Then that shall be, and before nightfall. Oh! one good turn
desarves another--in revenge, prompt payment while you live!

[_Exit._]



SCENE II.


_McBRIDE'S Cottage._

_MATTHEW McBRIDE and HONOR. (MATTHEW with a little table before him, at
dinner._)

_Old McB._ (_pushing his plate from him_) I'll take no more--I'm done.
[_He sighs._]

_Honor._ Then you made but a poor dinner, father, after being at the
fair, and up early, and all!--Take this bit from my hands, father dear.

_Old McB._ (_turning away sullenly_) I'll take nothing from you, Honor,
but what I got already enough--and too much of--and that's ungratitude.

_Honor._ Ungratitude, father! then you don't see my heart.

_Old McB._ I lave that to whoever has it, Honor: 'tis enough for me, I
see what you do--and that's what I go by.

_Honor._ Oh, me! and what did I do to displase you, father? (_He is
obstinately silent; after waiting in vain for an answer, she continues_)
I that was thinking to make all happy, (_aside_) but myself, (_aloud_)
by settling to keep out of the way of--all that could vex you--and to go
to sarvice, to Mrs. Carver's. I thought that would plase you, father.

_Old McB._ Is it to lave me, Honor? Is it _that_ you thought would plase
me, Honor?--To lave your father alone in his ould age, after all the
slaving he got and was willing to undergo, whilst ever he had strength,
early and late, to make a little portion for you, Honor,--you, that
I reckoned upon for the prop and pride of my ould age--and you expect
you'd plase me by laving me.

_Honor._ Hear me just if, pray then, father.

_Old McB._ (_shaking her off as she tries to caress him_) Go, then; go
where you will, and demane yourself going into sarvice, rather than stay
with me--go.

_Honor._ No, I'll not go. I'll stay then with you, father dear,--say
that will plase you.

_Old McB._ (_going on without listening to her_) And all for the love
of this Randal Rooney! Ay, you may well put your two hands before your
face; if you'd any touch of natural affection at all, _that_ young man
would have been the last of all others you'd ever have thought of loving
or liking any way.

_Honor._ Oh! if I could help it!

_Old McB._ There it is. This is the way the poor fathers is always to be
trated. They to give all, daughter and all, and get nothing at all,
not their choice even of the man, the villain that's to rob 'em of
all--without thanks even; and of all the plinty of bachelors there are
in the parish for the girl that has money, that daughter will go and
pick and choose out the very man the father mislikes beyond all others,
and then it's "_Oh! if I could help it_!"--Asy talking!

_Honor._ But, dear father, wasn't it more than talk, what I did?--Oh,
won't you listen to me?

_Old McB_ I'll not hear ye; for if you'd a grain o spirit in your
mane composition, Honor, you would take your father's part, and not be
putting yourself under Catty's feet--the bad-tongued woman, that hates
you, Honor, like poison.

_Honor._ If she does hate me, it's all through love of her own--

_Old McB._ Son--ay--that she thinks too good for you--for _you_, Honor;
you, the Lily of Lismore--that might command the pride of the country.
Oh! Honor dear, don't be lessening yourself; but be a proud girl, as you
ought, and my own Honor.

_Honor._ Oh, when you speak so kind!

_Old McB._ And I beg your pardon, if I said a cross word; for I know
you'll never think of him more, and no need to lave home at all for his
sake. It would be a shame in the country, and what would Mrs. Carver
herself think?

_Honor._ She thinks well of it, then.

_Old McB._ Then whatever she thinks, she sha'n't have my child from me!
tho' she's a very good lady, and a very kind lady, too. But see now,
Honor--have done with love, for it's all foolishness; and when you come
to be as ould as I am, you'll think so too. The shadows goes all one
way, till the middle of the day, and when that is past, then all the
t'other way; and so it is with love, in life--stay till the sun is going
down with you.

_Honor._ Then it would be too late to be thinking of love.

_Old McB._ And too airly now, and there's no good time, for it's all
folly. I'll ax you, will love set the potatoes?--will love make the
rent?--or will love give you a jaunting car?--as to my knowledge,
another of your bachelors would.

_Honor._ Oh, don't name him, father.

_Old McB._ Why not--when it's his name that would make a lady of you,
and there'd be a rise in life, and an honour to your family?

_Honor._ Recollect it was he that would have dishonoured my family, in
me, if he could.

_Old McB._ But he repints now; and what can a man do but repint, and
offer to make honourable restitution, and thinking of marrying, as
now, Honor dear;--is not that a condescension of he, who's a sort of a
jantleman?

_Honor._ A sort, indeed--a bad sort.

_Old McB._ Why, not jantleman _born_, to be sure.

_Honor._ Nor _bred._

_Old McB._ Well, there's many that way, neither born nor bred, but that
does very well in the world; and think what it would be to live in the
big shingled house, in Ballynavogue, with him!

_Honor._ I'd rather live here with you, father.

_Old McB._ Then I thank you kindly, daughter, for that, but so would
not _I for_ you,--and then the jaunting-car, or a coach, in time, if he
could! He has made the proposhal for you in form this day.

_Honor._ And what answer from you, father?

_Old McB._ Don't be looking so pale,--I tould him he had my consint, if
he could get yours. And, oh! before you speak, Honor dear, think what
it would be up and down in Ballynavogue, and every other place in the
county, assizes days and all, to be Mistress Gerald O'Blaney!

_Honor._ I couldn't but think very ill of it, father; thinking ill, as
I do, of him. Father dear, say no more, don't be breaking my heart--I'll
never have that man; but I'll stay happy with you.

_Old McB._ Why, then, I'll be contint with that same; and who
wouldn't?--If it's what you'd rather stay, and _can_ stay contint,
Honor dear, I'm only too happy. (_Embracing her--then pausing._) But for
Randal--

_Honor._ In what can you fau't him, only his being a Rooney?

_Old McB._ That's all--but that's enough. I'd sooner see you in your
coffin--sooner be at your wake to-night, than your wedding with a
Rooney! 'Twould kill me. Come, promise me--I'd trust your word--and
'twould make me asy for life, and I'd die asy, if you'd promise never to
have him.

_Honor._ Never till you would consent--that's all I can promise.

_Old McB._ Well, that same is a great ase to my heart.

_Honor._ And to give a little ase to mine, father, perhaps you could
promise--

_Old McB._ What?--I'll promise nothing at all--I'll promise nothing at
all--I'll promise nothing I couldn't perform.

_Honor._ But this you could perform asy, dear father: just hear your own
Honor.

_Old McB._ (_aside_) That voice would wheedle the bird off the bush--and
when she'd prefar me to the jaunting-car, can I but listen to her?
(_Aloud_) Well, what?--if it's any thing at all in rason.

_Honor._ It is in rason entirely. It's only, that if Catty Rooney's--

_Old McB._ (_stopping his ears_) Don't name her.

_Honor._ But she might be brought to rason, father; and if she should be
brought to give up that claim to the bit o' bog of yours, and when all
differs betwix' the families be made up, then you would consent.

_Old McB._ When Catty Rooney's brought to rason! Oh! go shoe the
goslings, dear,--ay, you'll get my consint then. There's my hand: I
promise you, I'll never be called on to perform that, Honor, jewel.

_Honor._ (_kissing his hand_) Then that's all I'd ask--nor will I say
one word more, but thank you, father.

_Old McB._ (_putting on his coat_) She's a good cratur--sorrow better!
sister or daughter. Oh! I won't forget that she prefarred me to the
jaunting-car. Phil shall carry him a civil refusal. I'll send off the
money, the three hundred, by your brother, this minute--that will be
some comfort to poor O'Blaney.

[_Exit McBRIDE._

_Honor._ Is not he a kind father, then, after all?--That promise he gave
me about Catty, even such as it is, has ased my heart wonderfully. Oh!
it will all come right, and they'll all be rasonable in time, even Catty
Rooney, I've great hope; and little hope's enough, even for love to live
upon. But, hark! there's my brother Phil coming. (_A noise heard in
the back-house._) 'Tis only the cow in the bier. (_A knock heard at the
door._) No, 'tis a Christian; no cow ever knocked so soft. Stay till I
open--Who's in it?

_Randal._ (_from within_) Your own Randal--open quick.

_Honor._ Oh! Randal, is it you? I can't open the door.

[_She holds the door--he pushes it half open._

_Randal._ Honor, that I love more than life, let me in, till I speak one
word to you, before you're set against me for ever.

_Honor._ No danger of that--but I can't let you in, Randal.

_Randal._ Great danger! Honor, and you must. See you I will, if I die
for it!

[_He advances, and she retires behind the door, holding it against him._

_Honor._ Then I won't see you this month again, if you do. My hand's
weak, but my heart's strong, Randal.

_Randal._ Then my heart's as weak as a child's this minute. Never
fear--don't hold against me, Honor; I'll stand where I am, since you
don't trust me, nor love me--and best so, may be: I only wanted to say
three words to you.

_Honor._ I can't hear you now, Randal.

_Randal._ Then you'll never hear me more. Good bye to you, Honor.

[_He pulls the door to, angrily._

_Honor._ And it's a wonder as it was you didn't meet my father as you
came, or my brother.

_Randal._ (_pushing the door a little open again_) Your brother!--Oh,
Honor! that's what's breaking my heart--(_he sighs_)--that's what I
wanted to say to you; and listen to me. No fear of your father, he's
gone down the road: I saw him as I come the short cut, but he didn't see
me.

_Honor._ What of my brother?--say, and go.

_Randal._ Ay, go--for ever, you'll bid me, when I've said.

_Honor._ What! oh, speak, or I'll drop.--(_She no longer holds the door,
but leans against a table.--RANDAL advances, and looks in._)

_Randal._ Don't be frightened, then, dearest--it's nothing in life but a
fight at a fair. He's but little hurted.

_Honor._ Hurted!--and by who? by you, is it?--Then all's over.--(_RANDAL
comes quite in--HONOR, putting her hand before her eyes._)--You may come
or go, for I'll never love you more.

_Randal._ I expicted as much!--But she'll faint!

_Honor._ I won't faint: leave me, Mr. Randal.

_Randal._ Take this water from me, (_holding a cup_) it's all I ask.

_Honor._ No need. (_She sits down_) But what's this?--(_Seeing his hand
bound up._)

_Randal._ A cut only.

_Honor._ Bleeding--stop it. (_Turning from him coldly._)

_Randal._ Then by this blood--no, not by this worthless blood of
mine--but by that dearest blood that fled from your cheeks, and this
minute is coming back, Honor, I swear--(_kneeling to her._)

_Honor._ Say what you will, or swear, I don't hear or heed you. And my
father will come and find you there--and I don't care.

_Randal._ I know you don't--and I don't care myself what happens me.
But as to Phil, it's only a cut in the head he got, that signifies
nothing--if he was not your brother.

_Honor._ Once lifted your hand against him--all's over.

_Randal._ Honor, I did not lift my hand against _him_; but I was in the
quarrel with his faction.

_Honor._ And this your promise to me not to be in any quarrel! No, if
my father consented to-morrow, I'd nivir have you now. (_Rises, and is
going--he holds her._)

_Randal._ Then you're wrong, Honor: you've heard all against me--now
hear what's for me.

_Honor._ I'll hear no more--let me go.

_Randal._ Go, then; (_he lets her go, and turns away himself_) and
I'm going before Mr. Carver, who _will_ hear me, and the truth will
appear--and tho' not from you, Honor, I'll have justice.

[_Exit RANDAL._

_Honor._ Justice! Oh, worse and worse! to make all public; and if once
we go to law, there's an end of love--_for ever._

[_Exit HONOR._



SCENE III.


_O'BLANEY'S House._

_O'BLANEY and CATTY ROONEY._

_Catty._ And didn't ye hear it, counshillor? the uproar in the town and
the riot?--oh! you'd think the world was throwing out at windows. See my
jock, all tattered! Didn't ye hear!

_O'Bla._ How could I hear, backwards, as you see, from the street, and
given up to my business?

_Catty._ Business! oh! here is a fine business--the McBrides have driven
all before them, and chased the Roonies out of Ballynavogue. (_In a tone
of deep despair._) Oh! Catty Rooney! that ever you'd live to see this
day!

_O'Bla._ Then take this glass (_offering a glass of whiskey_) to comfort
your heart, my good Mrs. Rooney.

_Catty._ No, thank you, counshillor, it's past that even! ogh! ogh!--oh!
wirrastrew!--oh! wirrastrew, ogh!--(_After wringing her hands, and
yielding to a burst of sorrow and wailing, she stands up firmly._) Now
I've ased my heart, I'll do. I've spirit enough left in me yet, you'll
see; and I'll tell you what I came to you for, counshillor.

_O'Bla._ Tell me first, is Randal Rooney in it, and is he hurt?

_Catty._ He was in it: he's not hurt, more shame for him! But,
howsomever, he bet one boy handsomely; that's my only comfort. Our
faction's all going full drive to swear examinations, and get justice.

_O'Bla._ Very proper--very proper: swear examinations--that's the
course, and only satisfaction in these cases to get justice.

_Catty._ Justice!--revenge sure! Oh! revenge is sweet, and I'll have
it. Counshillor dear, I never went before Mr. Carver--you know him,
sir--what sort is he?

_O'Bla._ A mighty good sort of gentleman--only mighty tiresome.

_Catty._ Ay, that's what I hard--that he is mighty fond of talking to
people for their good. Now that's what I dread, for I can't stand being
talked to for my good.

_O'Bla._ 'Tis little use, I confess. We Irish is wonderful soon tired
of goodness, if there's no spice of fun along with it; and poor Carver's
soft, and between you and I, he's a little bothered, but, Mrs. Rooney,
you won't repate?

_Catty._ Repate!--I! I'm neither watch nor repater--I scorn both; and
between you and I, since you say so, counshillor, that's my chiefest
objection to Carver, whom I wouldn't know from Adam, except by
reputation. But it's the report of the country, that he has common
informers in his pay and favour; now that's mane, and I don't like it.

_O'Bla._ Nor I, Mrs. Rooney. I had experience of informers in the
distillery line once. The worst varmin that is ever encouraged in any
house or country. The very mintion of them makes me creep all over
still.

_Catty._ Then 'tis Carver, they say, that has the oil of Rhodium for
them; for they follow and fawn on him, like rats on the rat catcher--of
all sorts and sizes, he has 'em. They say, he sets them over and after
one another; and has _lations_ of them that he lets out on the craturs'
cabins, to larn how many grains of salt every man takes with his little
_prates_, and bring information if a straw would be stirring.

_O'Bla._ Ay, and if it would, then, it's Carver that would quake like
the aspin leaf--I know that. It's no malice at all in him; only just
he's a mighty great poltroon.

_Catty._ Is that all? Then I'd pity and laugh at him, and I go to him
preferably to any other magistrate.

_O'Bla._ You may, Mrs. Rooney--for it's in terror of his life he
lives, continually draming day and night, and croaking of carders and
thrashers, and oak boys, and white boys, and peep-o'-day boys, and
united boys, and riband-men, and men and boys of all sorts that have,
and that have not, been up and down the country since the rebellion.

_Catty._ The poor cratur! But in case he'd prove refractory, and would
not take my examinations, can't I persecute my shute again the McBrides
for the bit of the bog of Ballynascraw, counshillor?--Can't I _harash_
'em at law?

_O'Bla._ You can, ma'am, harash them properly. I've looked over your
papers, and I'm happy to tell you, you may go on at law as soon and as
long as you plase.

_Catty._ (_speaking very rapidly_) Bless you for that word, counshillor;
and by the first light to-morrow, I'll drive all the grazing cattle,
every four-footed _baast_ off the land, and pound 'em in Ballynavogue;
and if they replevy, why I'll distrain again, if it be forty times, I
will go. I'll go on distraining, and I'll advertise, and I'll cant, and
I'll sell the distress at the end of the eight days. And if they dare
for to go for to put a plough in that bit of reclaimed bog, I'll come
down upon 'em with an injunction, and I would not value the expinse
of bringing down a record a pin's pint; and if that went again me, I'd
remove it to the courts above and wilcome; and after that, I'd go into
equity, and if the chancillor would not be my friend, I'd take it over
to the House of Lords in London, so I would as soon as look at 'em; for
I'd wear my feet to the knees for justice--so I would.

_O'Bla._ That you would! You're an iligant lawyer, Mrs. Rooney; but have
you the sinews of war?

_Catty._ Is it money, dear?--I have, and while ever I've one shilling
to throw down to ould Matthew McBride's guinea, I'll go on; and every
guinea he parts will twinge his vitals: so I'll keep on while ever I've
a fiv'-penny bit to rub on another--for my spirit is up.

_O'Bla._ Ay, ay, so you say. Catty, my dear, your back's asy up, but
it's asy down again.

_Catty._ Not when I've been trod on as now, counshillor: it's then I'd
turn and fly at a body, gentle or simple, like mad.

_O'Bla._ Well done, Catty (_patting her on the back_). There's my own
pet mad cat--and there's a legal venom in her claws, that every scratch
they'll give shall fester so no plaister in law can heal it.

_Catty._ Oh, counshillor, now, if you wouldn't be flattering a wake
woman.

_O'Bla._ Wake woman!--not a bit of woman's wakeness in ye. Oh, my
cat-o'-cats! let any man throw her from him, which way he will, she's on
her legs and at him again, tooth and claw.

_Catty._ With nine lives, renewable for ever.

[_Exit CATTY._

_O'Bla._ (_alone_) There's a demon in woman's form set to work for me!
Oh, this works well--and no fear that the Roonies and McBrides should
ever come to an understanding to cut me out. Young Mr. Randal Rooney,
my humble compliments to you, and I hope you'll become the willow which
you'll soon have to wear for Miss Honor McBride's pretty sake. But
I wonder the brother a'n't come up yet with the rist of her fortune.
(Calls behind the scenes.) Mick! Jack! Jenny! Where's Pat?--Then why
don't you know? run down a piece of the road towards Ballynascraw, see
would you see any body coming, and bring me word would you see Phil
McBride--you know, flourishing Phil.--Now I'm prepared every way for the
shupervishor, only I wish to have something genteel in my fist for him,
and a show of cash flying about--nothing like it, to dazzle the eyes.

[_Exit O'BLANEY._



ACT III.



SCENE I.


_An Apartment in Mr. CARVER'S House. Mr. CARVER seated: a table, pens,
ink, paper, and law-books. A cleric, pen in hand.--On the right-hand
side of Mr. CARVER stands Mrs. CATTY ROONEY.--RANDAL ROONEY beside her,
leaning against a pillar, his arms folded.--Behind Mrs. ROONEY, three
men--one remarkably tall, one remarkably little.--On the left-hand of
Mr. CARVER stand Old MATTHEW McBRIDE, leaning on his stick; beside him,
PHILIP McBRIDE, with his silver-hilted whip in his hand.--A Constable
at some distance behind Mr. CARVER'S chair.--Mr. CARVER looking over and
placing his books, and seeming to speak to his clerk._

_Catty._ (_aside to her son_) See I'll take it asy, and be very shivel
and sweet wid him, till I'll see which side he'll lane, and how it will
go with us Roonies--(_Mr. CARVER rising, leans forward with both his
hands on the table, as if going to speak, looks round, and clears his
throat loudly._)--Will I spake now, plase your honour?

_Old McB._ Dacency, when you see his honour preparing his throat.

[_Mr. CARVER clears his throat again._

_Catty._ (_curtsying between each sentence_) Then I ixpect his honour
will do me justice. I got a great character of his honour. I'd sooner
come before your honour than any jantleman in all Ireland. I'm sure your
honour will stand my _frind_.

_Clerk._ Silence!

_Mr. Carv._ Misguided people of Ballynavogue and Ballynascraw--

[_At the instant Mr. CARVER pronounces the word "Ballynavogue," CATTY
curtsies, and all the ROONIES, behind her, bow, and answer--_

Here, plase your honour.

[_And when Mr. CARVER says_ "Ballynascraw," _all the McBRIDES bow, and
reply--_

Here, plase your honour.

_Mr. Carv._ (_speaking with pomposity, but embarrassment, and clearing
his throat frequently_) When I consider and look round me, gentlemen,
and when I look round me and consider, how long a period of time I have
had the honour to bear his majesty's commission of the peace for this
county--

_Catty._ (_curtsying_) Your honour's a good warrant, no doubt.

_Mr. Carv._ Hem!--hem!--also being a residentiary gentleman at Bob's
Fort--hem!--hem!--hem!--(_Coughs, and blows his nose._)

_Catty._ (_aside to her son_) Choking the cratur is with the words he
can't get out. (_Aloud_) Will I spake now, plase your honour?

_Clerk._ Silence! silence!

_Mr. Carv._ And when I consider all the ineffectual attempts I have made
by eloquence and otherwise, to moralize and civilize you gentlemen, and
to eradicate all your heterogeneous or rebellious passions--

_Catty._ Not a rebel, good or bad, among us, plase your honour.

_Clerk._ Silence!

_Mr. Carv._ I say, my good people of Ballynavogue and Ballynascraw, I
stand here really in unspeakable concern and astonishment, to notice at
this fair-time in my barony, these symptoms of a riot, gentlemen, and
features of a tumult.

_Catty._ True, your honour, see--scarce a symptom of a fature lift in
the face here of little Charley of Killaspugbrone, with the b'ating he
got from them McBrides, who bred the riot, entirely under Flourishing
Phil, plase your honour.

_Mr. Carv._ (_turning to PHIL McBRIDE._) Mr. Philip McBride, son of old
Matthew, quite a substantial man,--I am really concerned, Philip, to see
you, whom I looked upon as a sort of, I had almost said, _gentleman_--

_Catty._ _Gentleman!_ what sort? Is it because of the new topped boots,
or by virtue of the silver-topped whip, and the bit of a red rag tied
about the throat?--Then a gentleman's asy made, now-a-days.

_Young McB._ It seems 'tis not so asy any way, now-a-days, to make a
_gentlewoman_, Mrs. Rooney.

_Catty._ (_springing forward angrily_) And is it me you mane, young man?

_Randal._ Oh! mother, dear, don't be aggravating.

_Mr. Carv._ Clerk, why don't you maintain silence?

_Catty._ (_pressing before her son_) Stand back, then, Randal
Rooney--don't you hear _silence_?--don't be brawling before his honour.
Go back wid yourself to your pillar, or post, and fould your arms,
and stand like a fool that's in love, as you are.--I beg your
honour's pardon, but he's my son, and I can't help it.--But about our
examinations, plase your honour, we're all come to swear--here's myself,
and little Charley of Killaspugbrone, and big Briny of Cloon, and Ulick
of Eliogarty--all ready to swear.

_Mr. Carv._ But have these gentlemen no tongues of their own, madam?

_Catty._ No, plase your honour, little Charley has no English tongue; he
has none but the native Irish.

_Mr. Carv._ Clerk, make out their examinations, with a translation; and
interpret for Killaspugbrone.

_Catty._ Plase your honour, I being the lady, expicted I'd get lave to
swear first.

_Mr. Carv._ And what would you swear, madam, if you got leave, pray?--be
careful, now.

_Catty._ I'll tell you how it was out o' the face, plase your honour.
The whole Rooney faction--

_Mr. Carv._ _Faction!_--No such word in my presence, madam.

_Catty._ Oh, but I'm ready to swear to it, plase your honour, in or out
of the presence:--the whole Rooney faction--every Rooney, big or little,
that was in it, was bet, and banished the town and fair of Ballynavogue,
for no rason in life, by them McBrides there, them scum o' the earth.

_Mr. Carv._ Gently, gently, my good lady; no such thing in my presence,
as scum o' the earth.

_Catty._ Well, Scotchmen, if your honour prefars. But before a
Scotchman, myself would prefar the poorest spalpeen--barring it be
Phil, the buckeen--I ax pardon (_curtsying_), if a buckeen's the more
honourable.

_Mr. Carv._ Irrelevant in toto, madam; for buckeens and spalpeens are
manners or species of men unknown to or not cognizable by the eye of
the law; against them, therefore, you cannot swear: but if you have any
thing against Philip McBride--

_Catty._ Oh, I have plinty, and will swear, plase your honour, that he
put me in bodily fear, and tore my jock, my blue jock, to tatters. Oh,
by the vartue of this book (_snatching up a book_), and all the books
that ever were shut or opened, I'll swear to the damage of five pounds,
be the same more or less.

_Mr. Carv._ My good lady, _more or less_ will never do.

_Catty._ Forty shillings, any way, I'll swear to; and that's a felony,
your honour, I hope?

_Mr. Carv._ Take time, and consult your conscience conscientiously, my
good lady, while I swear these other men--

[_She examines the coat, holding it up to view--Mr. CARVER beckons to
the Rooney party._

_Mr. Carv._ Beaten men! come forward.

_Big Briny._ Not _beaten_, plase your honour, only _bet_.

_Ulick of Eliogarty._ Only black eyes, plase your honour.

_Mr. Carv._ You, Mr. Charley or Charles Rooney, of Killaspugbrone; you
have read these examinations, and are you scrupulously ready to swear?

_Catty._ He is, and _will_, plase your honour; only he's the boy that
has got no English tongue.

_Mr. Carv._ I wish _you_ had none, madam, ha! ha! ha! (_The two McBRIDES
laugh--the ROONIES look grave._) You, Ulick Rooney, of Eliogarty, _are
these_ your examinations?

_Catty._ He can't write, nor rade writing from his cradle, plase your
honour; but can make his mark equal to another, sir. It has been read to
him any way, sir, plase your honour.

_Mr. Carv._ And you, sir, who style yourself big Briny of Cloon--you
think yourself a great man, I suppose?

_Catty._ It's what many does that has got less rason, plase your honour.

_Mr. Carv._ Understand, my honest friend, that there is a vast
difference between looking big and being great.

_Big Briny._ I see--I know, your honour.

_Mr. Carv._ Now, gentlemen, all of you, before I hand you the book to
swear these examinations, there is one thing of which I must warn and
apprize you--that I am most remarkably clear-sighted; consequently there
can be no _thumb kissing_ with me, gentlemen.

_Big Briny._ We'll not ax it, plase your honour.

_Catty._ No Rooney, living or dead, was ever guilty or taxed with the
like! (_Aside to her son_) Oh, they'll swear iligant! We'll flog the
world, and have it all our own way! Oh, I knew we'd get justice--or I'd
know why.

_Clerk._ Here's the book, sir, to swear complainants.

[_Mr. CARVER comes forward._

_Mr. Carv._ Wait--wait; I must hear both sides.

_Catty._ Both sides! Oh, plase your honour--only bother you.

_Mr. Carv._ Madam, it is my duty to have ears for all men.--Mr. Philip,
now for your defence.

_Catty._ He has none in nature, plase your honour.

_Mr. Carv._ Madam, you have had my ear long enough--be silent, at your
peril.

_Catty._ Ogh--ogh!--silent!

[_She groans piteously._

_Mr. Carv._ Sir, your defence, without any preamble or pre-ambulation.

_Phil._ I've no defence to make, plase your honour, but that I'm
innocent.

_Mr. Carv._ (_shaking his head_) The worst defence in law, my good
friend, unless you've witnesses.

_Phil._ All present that time in the fair was too busy fighting for
themselves to witness for me that I was not; except I'd call upon one
that would clear me entirely, which is that there young man on the
opposite side.

_Catty._ Oh, the impudent fellow! Is it my son?

_Old McB._ Is it Randal Rooney? Why, Phil, are you turned _innocent_?

_Phil._ I am not, father, at all. But with your lave, I call on Randal
Rooney, for he is an undeniable honourable man--I refer all to his
evidence.

_Randal._ Thank you, Phil. I'll witness the truth, on whatever side.

_Catty rushes in between them, exclaiming, in a tremendous tone,_

If you do, Catty Rooney's curse be upon--

_Randal stops her mouth, and struggles to hold his mother back._

Oh, mother, you couldn't curse!--

[_All the ROONIES get about her and exclaim_,

Oh, Catty, your son you couldn't curse!

_Mr. Carv._ Silence, and let _me_ be heard. Leave this lady to me; I
know how to manage these feminine vixens. Mrs. Catherine Rooney, listen
to me--you are a reasonable woman.

_Catty._ I am not, nor don't pretend to it, plase your honour.

_Mr. Carv._ But you can hear reason, madam, I presume, from the voice of
authority.

_Catty._ No, plase your honour--I'm deaf, stone deaf.

_Mr. Carv._ No trifling with me, madam; give me leave to advise you a
little for your good.

_Catty._ Plase your honour, it's of no use--from a child up I never
could stand to be advised for my good. See, I'd get hot and hotter,
plase your honour, till I'd bounce! I'd fly! I'd burst! and myself does
not know what mischief I mightn't do.

_Mr. Carv._ Constable! take charge of this cursing and cursed woman,
who has not respect for man or magistrate. Away with her out of my
presence!--I commit her for a contempt.

_Randal_ (_eagerly_) Oh! plase your honour, I beg your honour's pardon
for her--my mother--entirely. When she is in her rason, she has the
greatest respect for the whole bench, and your honour above all. Oh!
your honour, be plasing this once! Excuse her, and I'll go bail for her
she won't say another word till she'd get the nod from your honour.

_Mr. Carv._ On that condition, and on that condition only, I am willing
to pass over the past. Fall back, constable.

_Catty._ (_aside_) Why then, Gerald O'Blaney mislet me. This Carver is a
_fauterer_ of the Scotch. Bad luck to every bone in his body! (_As CATTY
says this her son draws her back, and tries to pacify her._)

_Mr. Carv._ Is she muttering, constable?

_Randal._ Not a word, plase your honour, only just telling herself to be
quiet. Oh, mother, dearest, I'll kneel to plase you.

_Catty._ Kneel! oh, to an ould woman like me--no standing that! So here,
on my hunkers I am, for your sake, Randal, and not a word, good or bad!
Can woman do more? (_She sits with her fingers on her lips._)

_Mr. Carv._ Now for your defence, Philip: be short, for mercy's sake!
(_pulling out his watch._)

_Phil._ Not to be detaining your honour too long--I was in Ballynavogue
this forenoon, and was just--that is, Miss Car'line Flaherty was just--

_Mr. Carv._ Miss Caroline Flaherty! What in nature can she have to do
with the business?

_Phil._ Only axing me, sir, she was, to play the flageolets, which was
the rason I was sitting at Flaherty's.

_Mr. Carv._ Address yourself to the court, young man.

_Phil._ Sitting at Flaherty's--in the parlour, with the door open,
and all the McBrides which was _in it_ was in the outer room taking a
toombler o' punch I trated 'em to--but not drinking--not a man _out
o' the way_--when in comes that gentlewoman. (_Pointing to Mrs.
ROONEY.--RANDAL groans._) Never fear, Randal, I'll tell it as soft as I
can.

_Old McB._ Soft, why? Mighty soft cratur ever since he was born, plase
your honour, though he's my son.

_Mr. Carv._ (_putting his fingers on his lips_) Friend Matthew, no
reflections in a court of justice ever. Go on, Philip.

_Phil._ So some one having tould Mrs. Rooney lies, as I'm confident,
sir--for she come in quite _mad_, and abused my sister Honor; accusing
her, before all, of being sitting and giving her company to Randal
Rooney at Flaherty's, drinking, and something about a ring, and a
meeting behind the chapel, which I couldn't understand;--but it fired
me, and I stepped--but I recollected I'd promised Honor not to let her
provoke me to lift a hand good or bad--so I stepped across very civil,
and I said to her, says I, Ma'am, it's all lies--some one has been
belying Honor McBride to you, Mrs. Rooney.

[_CATTY sighs and groans, striking the back of one hand reiteratedly
into the palm of the other--rises--beats the devil's tattoo as she
stands--then claps her hands again._

_Mr. Carv._ That woman has certainly more ways of making a noise,
without speaking, than any woman upon earth. Proceed, Philip.

_Phil._ Depind on it, it's all lies, Mrs. Rooney, says I, ma'am. No, but
_you_ lie, flourishing Phil, says she. With that every McBride to a man,
rises from the table, catching up chairs and stools and toomblers and
jugs to revenge Honor and me. Not for your life, boys, don't _let-drive_
ne'er a one of yees, says I--she's a woman, and a widow woman, and only
a _scould_ from her birth: so they held their hands; but she giving
tongue bitter, 'twas hard for flesh and blood to stand it. Now, for the
love of heaven and me, sit down all, and be _quite_ as lambs, and finish
your poonch like gentlemen, sir, says I: so saying, I _tuk_ Mrs. Rooney
up in my arms tenderly, as I would a bould child--she screeching
and screeching like mad:--whereupon her jock caught on the chair,
pocket-hole or something, and give one rent from head to _fut_--and that
was the tattering of the jock. So we got her to the door, and there she
spying her son by ill-luck in the street, directly stretches out her'
arms, and kicking my shins, plase your honour, till I could not hold
her, "Murder! Randal Rooney," cries she, "and will you see your own
mother murdered?"

_Randal._ Them were the very words, I acknowledge, she used, which put
me past my rason, no doubt.

_Phil._ Then Randal Rooney, being past his rason, turns to all them
Roonies that were _in no condition._

_Mr. Carv._ That were, what we in English would call _drunk_, I presume?

_Randal._ Something very near it, plase your honour.

_Phil._ Sitting on the bench outside the door they were, when Randal
came up. "Up, Roonies, and at 'em!" cried he; and up, to be sure, they
flew, shillelahs and all, like lightning, daling blows on all of us
McBrides: but I never lifted a hand; and Randal, I'll do him justice,
avoided to lift a hand against me.

_Randal._ And while I live I'll never forget _that_ hour, nor _this_
hour, Phil, and all your generous construction.

_Catty._ (_aside_) Why then it almost softens me; but I won't be made a
fool on.

_Mr. Carv._ (_who has been re-considering the examinations_) It appears
to me that you, Mr. Philip McBride, did, as the law allows, only _lay
hands softly_ upon complainant, Catherine Rooney; and the Rooneys, as it
appears, struck, and did strike, the first blow.

_Randal._ I can't deny, plase your honour, we did.

_Mr. Carv._ (_tearing the examinations_) Then, gentlemen--you
Roonies--_beaten men_, I cannot possibly take your examinations.

[_When the examinations are torn, the McBRIDES all bow and thank his
honour._

_Mr. Carv._ Beaten men! depart in peace.

_The ROONIES sigh and groan, and after turning their hats several times,
bow, walk a few steps away, return, and seem loath to depart. CATTY
springs forward, holding up her hands joined in a supplicating attitude
to Mr. CARVER._

_Randal._ If your honour would be plasing to let her spake now, or she'd
burst, may be.

_Mr. Carv._ Speak now, woman, and ever after hold your tongue.

_Catty._ Then I am rasonable now, plase your honour; for I'll put it
to the test--see, I'll withdraw my examinations entirely, and I'll
recant--and I'll go farther, I'll own I'm wrong--(though I know I'm
right)--and I'll beg your pardon, McBrides, if--(but I know I'll not
have to beg your pardon either)--but I say I _will_ beg your pardon,
McBrides, _if_, mind _if_, you will accept my test, and it fails me.

_Mr. Carv._ Very fair, Mrs. Rooney.

_Old McB._ What is it she's saying?

_Phil._ What test, Mrs. Rooney?

_Randal._ Dear mother, name your test.

_Catty._ Let Honor McBride be summoned, and if she can prove she took
no ring, and was not behind the chapel with Randal, nor drinking at
Flaherty's with him, the time she was, I give up all.

_Randal._ Agreed, with all the pleasure in life, mother. Oh, may I run
for her?

_Old McB._ Not a fut, you sir--go, Phil dear.

_Phil._ That I will, like a lapwing, father.

_Mr. Carv._ Where to, sir--where so precipitate?

_Phil._ Only to fetch my sister.

_Mr. Carv._ Your sister, sir?--then you need not go far: your sister,
Honor McBride, is, I have reason to believe, in this house.

_Catty._ So. Under whose protection, I wonder?

_Mr. Carv._ Under the protection of Mrs. Carver, madam, into whose
service she was desirous to engage herself; and whose advice--

_Clerk._ Shall I, if you please, sir, call Honor in?

_Mr. Carv._ If you please.

[_A silence.--CATTY stands biting her thumb.--Old McBRIDE leans his
chin upon Us hands on his stick, and never stirs, even his eyes.--Young
McBRIDE looks out eagerly to the side at which HONOR is expected to
enter--RANDAL looking over his shoulder, exclaims--_

There she comes!--Innocence in all her looks.

_Catty._ Oh! that we shall see soon. No making a fool of me.

_Old McB._ My daughter's step--I should know it. (_Aside_) How my old
heart bates!

[_Mr. CARVER takes a chair out of the way._

_Catty._ Walk in--walk on, Miss Honor. Oh, to be sure, Miss Honor will
have justice.

_Enter HONOR McBRIDE, walking very timidly._

And no need to be ashamed, Miss Honor, until you're found out.

_Mr. Carv._ Silence!

_Old McB._ Thank your honour.

[_Mr. CARVER whispers to his clerk, and directs him while the following
speeches go on._

_Catty._ That's a very pretty curtsy, Miss Honor--walk on, pray--all the
gentlemen's admiring you--my son Randal beyant all.

_Randal._ Mother, I won't bear--

_Catty._ Can't you find a sate for her, any of yees? Here's a
stool--give it her, Randal. (_HONOR sits down._) And I hope it won't
prove the stool of repentance, Miss or Madam. Oh, bounce your forehead,
Randal--truth must out; you've put it to the test, sir.

_Randal._ I desire no other for her or myself.

[_The father and brother take each a hand of HONOR--support and soothe
her._

_Catty._ I'd pity you, Honor, myself, only I know you a McBride--and
know you're desaving me, and all present.

_Mr. Carv._ Call that other witness I allude to, clerk, into our
presence without delay.

_Clerk._ I shall, sir. [_Exit clerk._

_Catty._ We'll see--we'll see all soon--and the truth will come out, and
shame the _dibbil_ and the McBrides!

_Randal._ (_looking out_) The man I bet, as I'm a sinner!

_Catty._ What?--Which?--Where?--True for ye!--I was wondering I did not
see the man you bet appear again ye: and this is he, with the head bound
up in the garter, coming--miserable cratur he looks--who would he be?

_Randal._ You'll see all soon, mother.

_Enter PAT COXE, his head bound up._

_Mr. Carv._ Come on--walk on boldly, friend.

_Catty._ Pat Coxe! saints above!

_Mr. Carv._ Take courage, you are under my protection here--no one will
dare to touch you.

_Randal_ (_with infinite contempt_) Touch ye! Not I, ye dirty dog!

_Mr. Carv._ No, sir, you have done enough that way already, it appears.

_Honor._ Randal! what, has Randal done this?

_Mr. Carv._ Now observe--this Mr. Patrick Coxe, aforesaid, has taken
refuge with me; for he is, it seems, afraid to appear before his master,
Mr. O'Blaney, this night, after having been beaten: though, as he
assures me, he has been beaten without any provocation whatsoever, by
you, Mr. Randal Rooney--answer, sir, to this matter.

_Randal._ I don't deny it, sir--I bet him, 'tis true.

_Pat._ To a jelly--without marcy--he did, plase your honour, sir.

_Randal._ Sir, plase your honour, I got rason to suspect this man to be
the author of all them lies that was tould backwards and forwards to my
mother, about me and Miss Honor McBride, which made my mother mad, and
driv' her to raise the riot, plase your honour. I charged Pat with
the lies, and he shirked, and could give me no satisfaction, but kept
swearing he was no liar, and bid me keep my distance, for he'd a pocket
pistol about him. "I don't care what you have about you--you have not
the truth about ye, nor in ye," says I; "ye are a liar, Pat Coxe,"
says I: so he cocked the pistol at me, saying, _that_ would prove me a
coward--with that I wrenched the pistol from him, and _bet_ him in a
big passion. I own to that, plase your honour--there I own I was wrong
(_turning to HONOR_), to demane myself lifting my hand any way.

_Mr. Carv._ But it is not yet proved that this man has told any lies.

_Randal._ If he has tould no lies, I wronged him. Speak, mother--(_COXE
gets behind CATTY, and twitches her gown_), was it he who was the
informer, or not?

_Catty._ Nay, Pat Coxe, if you lied, I'll not screen you; but if you
tould the truth, stand out like a man, and stand to it, and I'll stand
by you, against my own son even, Randal, if he was the author of the
report. In plain words, then, he, Pat Coxe, tould me, that she, Honor
McBride, gave you, Randal Rooney, the meeting behind the chapel, and you
gave her the ring--and then she went with you to drink at Flaherty's.

_Honor._ (_starting up_) Oh! who _could_ say the like of me?

_Catty._ There he stands--now, Pat, you must stand or fall--will you
swear to what you said? (_Old McBRIDE and PHIL approach PAT._)

_Mr. Carv._ This is not the point before me; but, however, I waive that
objection.

_Randal._ Oh! mother, don't put him to his oath, lest he'd perjure
himself.

_Pat._ I'll swear: do you think I'd be making a liar of myself?

_Honor._ Father--Phil dear--hear me one word!

_Randal._ Hear her--oh! hear her--go to her.

_Honor._ (_in a low voice_) Would you ask at what time it was he
pretends I was taking the ring and all that?

_Old McB._ Plase your honour, would you ask the rascal what time?

_Mr. Carv._ Don't call him rascal, sir--no _rascals_ in my presence.
What time did you see Honor McBride behind the chapel, Pat Coxe?

_Pat._ As the clock struck twelve--I mind--by the same token the
workmen's bell rang as usual! that same time, just as I seen Mr. Randal
there putting the ring on her finger, and I said, "_There's the bell
ringing for a wedding_," says I.

_Mr. Carv._ To whom did you say that, sir?

_Pat._ To myself, plase your honour--I'll tell you the truth.

_Honor._ Truth! That time the clock struck twelve and the bell rang, I
was happily here in this house, sir.

_Honor._ If I might take the liberty to call one could do me justice.

_Mr. Carv._ No liberty in justice--speak out.

_Honor._ If I might trouble Mrs. Carver herself?

_Mr. Carv._ Mrs. Carver will think it no trouble (_rising with dignity_)
to do justice, for she has been the wife to one of his majesty's
justices of the peace for many years.

[_Sends a servant for Mrs. CARVER._

_Mr. Carv._ Mrs. Carver, my dear, I must summon you to appear in open
court, at the suit or prayer of Honor McBride.

_Enter Mrs. CARVER, who is followed by Miss BLOOMSBURY, on tiptoe._

_Mrs. Carv._ Willingly.

_Mr. Carv._ The case lies in a nutshell, my dear: there is a man who
swears that Honor McBride was behind the chapel, with Randal Rooney
putting a ring on her finger, when the clock struck twelve, and our
workmen's bell rang this morning. Honor avers she was at Bob's Fort with
you: now as she could not be, like a bird, in two places at once--was
she with you?

_Mrs. Carv._ Honor McBride was with me when the workmen's bell rang,
and when the clock struck twelve, this day--she stayed with me till two
o'clock.

[_All the ROONIES, except CATTY, exclaim--_

Oh, no going beyond the lady's word!

_Mrs. Carv._ And I think it but justice to add, that Honor McBride has
this day given me such proofs of her being a good girl, a good daughter,
and a good sister, that she has secured my good opinion and good wishes
for life.

_Mr. Carv._ And mine in consequence.

_Bloom._ And mine of course. [_HONOR curtsies._

[_Old McBRIDE bows very low to Mr. CARVER, and again to Mrs. CARVER.
PHIL bows to Mr. and Mrs. CARVER, and to Miss BLOOMSBURY._

_Old McB._ Where are you now, Catty?--and you, Pat, ye unfortinate liar?

_Pat._ (_falling on his knees_) On me knees I am. Oh, I am an
unfortinate liar, and I beg your honour's pardon this once.

_Mr. Carv._ A most abandoned liar, I pronounce you.

_Pat._ Oh! I hope your honour won't abandon me, for I didn't know Miss
Honor was under her ladyship, Mrs. Carver's favour and purtection, or
I'd sooner ha' cut my tongue out clane--and I expict your honour won't
turn your hack on me quite, for this is the first lies I ever was
found out in since my creation; and how could I help, when it was by my
master's particular desire?

_Mr. Carv._ Your master! honest Gerald O'Blaney!

_Catty._ O'Blaney!--save us! (_Lifting up her hands and eyes._)

_Mr. Carv._ Take care, Pat Coxe.

_Pat._ Mr. O'Blaney, ma'am--plase your honour--all truth now--the
counshillor, that same and no other, as I've breath in my body--for
why should I tell a lie now, when I've no place in my eye, and not a
ha'porth to get by it? I'll confess all. It was by my master's orders
that I should set you, Mrs. Rooney, and your pride up, ma'am, again'
making up with them McBrides. I'll tell the truth now, plase your
honour--that was the cause of the lies I mentioned about the ring and
chapel--I'll tell more, if you'll bind Mr. Randal to keep the pace.

_Randal._ I?--ye dirty dog!--Didn't I tell ye already, I'd not dirty my
fingers with the likes of you?

_Pat._ All Mr. Gerald O'Blaney's aim was to ruin Mr. Randal Rooney,
and set him by the ears with that gentleman, Mr. Philip McBride, the
brother, and they to come to blows and outrage, and then be in disgrace
committed by his honour.

_Randal._ (_turning to_ HONOR McBRIDE) Honor, you saved all--your
brother and I never lifted our hands against one another, thanks be to
Heaven and you, dearest!

_Catty._ And was there no truth in the story of the chapel and the ring?

_Pat._ Not a word of truth, but lies, Mrs. Rooney, dear ma'am, of the
master's putting into my mouth out of his own head.

[_CATTY ROONEY walks firmly and deliberately across the room to HONOR
McBRIDE._

_Catty._ Honor McBride, I was wrong; and here, publicly, as I traduced
you, I ax your pardon before his honour, and your father, and your
brother, and before Randal, and before my faction and his.

[_Both ROONIES and McBRIDES all, excepting Old McBRIDE, clap their
hands, and huzza._

_Mr. Carv._ I ought to reprove this acclamation--but this once I let it
pass.

_Phil._ Father, you said nothing--what do you say, sir?

_Old McB._ (_never moving_) I say nothing at all. I never doubted Honor,
and knew the truth must appear--that's all I say.

_Honor._ Oh! father dear--more you will say (_shaking his stick
gently_). Look up at me, and remember the promise you gave me, when
Catty should be rasonable--and is not she rasonable now?

_Old McB._ I did not hear a word from her about the bog of Ballynascraw.

_Catty._ Is it the pitiful bit?--No more about it! Make crame cheeses
of it--what care I? 'Twas only for pride I stood out--not _that_ I'm
thinking of now!

_Old McB._ Well, then, miracles will never cease! here's one in your
favour, Honor; so take her, Randal, fortune and all--a wife of five
hundred.

_Randal._ (_kneeling_) Oh! happiest of men I am this minute.

_Catty._ I the same, if she had not a pinny in the world.

_Mr. Carv._ _Happiest of men!_--Don't kneel or go in to ecstasies now, I
beg, till I know the _rationale_ of this. Was not I consulted?--did not
I give my opinion and advice in favour of another?

_Old McB._ You was--you did, plase your honour, and I beg your honour's
pardon, and Mr. Counsellor O'Blaney's.

_Mr. Carv._ And did not you give your consent?--I must think him a very
ill-used person.

_Old McB._ I gave my consint only in case he could win hers, plase your
honour, and he could _not_--and I could not break my own daughter's
heart, and I beg your honour's pardon.

_Mr. Carv._ I don't know how that may be, sir, but I gave my approbation
to the match; and I really am not accustomed to have my advice or
opinion neglected or controverted. Yet, on the other hand--

_Enter a Footman with a note, which he gives to Mr. CARVER._

_Old McB._ (_aside to PHIL_) Say something for me, Phil, can't ye?--I
hav'n't a word.

_Mr. Carv._ (_rising with a quicker motion than usual_) Bless me! bless
me!--here is a revolution! and a counter revolution!--Here's news will
make you all in as great astonishment as I own I am.

_Old McB._ What is it?

_Randal._ I'm made for life--I don't care what comes.

_Honor._ Nor I: so it is not to touch you, I'm happy.

_Catty._ Oh! your honour, spake quick, _this time_--I beg pardon!

_Mr. Carv._ Then I have to confess that _for once_ I have been deceived
and mistaken in my judgment of a man; and what is more, of a man's
_circumstances_ completely--O'Blaney.

_Old McB._ What of his _circumstances_, oh! sir, in the name of mercy?

_Mr. Carv._ Bankrupt, at this instant all under seizure to the
supervisor. Mr. Gerald O'Blaney has fled the country.

_Old McB._ Then, Honor, you are without a penny; for all her fortune,
500_l._, was in his hands.

_Randal._ Then I'm as happy to have her without a penny--happier I am to
prove my love pure.

_Catty._ God bless you for my own son! That's our way of thinking, Mr.
McBride--you see it was not for the fortune.

_Honor._ Oh! Phil, didn't I tell you her heart was right?

_Catty._ We will work hard--cheer up, McBrides. Now the Roonies and
McBrides has joined, you'll see we'll defy the world and O'Blaney, the
_chate_ of _chates_.

_Honor._ Randal's own mother!

_Catty._ Ay, now, we are all one family--now pull together. Don't be
cast down, Phil dear. I'll never call you _flourishing Phil_ again, so
don't be standing on pride. Suppose your shister has not a pinny, she's
better than the best, and I'll love her and fold her to my ould warm
heart, and the daughter of my heart she is now.

_Honor._ Oh, mother!--for you are my mother now--and happy I am to have
a mother in you.

_Mr. Carv._ I protest it makes me almost--almost--blow my nose.

_Catty._ Why, then, you're a good cratur. But who tould you I was a
vixen, dear--plase your honour?

_Mr. Carv._ Your friend that is gone.

_Catty._ O'Blaney?

_Randal._ Frind! He never was frind to none--least of all to hisself.

_Catty._ Oh! the double-distilled villain!--he tould your honour I was
a vixen, and fond of law. Now would you believe what I'm going to till
you? he tould me of his honour--

_Mr. Carv._ Of me, his patron?

_Catty._ Of you, his patron, sir. He tould me your honour--which is a
slander, as we all here can witness, can't we? by his honour's contempt
of Pat Coxe--yet O'Blaney said you was as fond and proud of having
informers about you as a rat-catcher is of rats.

_Mr. Carv._ Mistress Catherine Rooney, and all you good people,--there
is a great deal of difference between obtaining information and
encouraging common informers.

_Catty._ There is, I'm sinsible. (_Aside to her son_) Then he's a
good magistrate--except a little pompous, mighty good. (_Aloud to Mr.
CARVER_) Then I beg your honour's pardon for my bad behaviour, and
bad language and all. 'Twas O'Blaney's fau't--but he's down, and don't
trample on the fallen.

_Old McB._ Don't defind O'Blaney! Oh! the villain, to rob me of all my
hard arnings. Mrs. Catty, I thank you as much as a heavy heart can, for
you're ginerous; and you, Randal, for your--

_Randal._ Is it for loving her, when I can't help it?--who could?

_Old McB._ (_sighing deeply_) But still it goes against the father's
heart to see his child, his pride, go pinnyless out of his house.

_Phil._ Then, sir, father dear, I have to tell you she is not
pennyless.--But I would not tell you before, that Randal, and Catty too,
might show themselves what they are. Honor is not pennyless: the three
hundred you gave me to lodge with O'Blaney is safe here. (_Opening his
pocket-book._)--When I was going to him with it as you ordered, by great
luck, I was stopped by this very quarrel and riot in Ballynavogue:--he
was the original cause of kicking up the riot, and was summoned before
your honour,--and here's the money.

_Old McB._ Oh, she's not pinnyless! Well, I never saw money with so much
pleasure, in all my long days, nor could I think I'd ever live to give
it away with half so much satisfaction as this minute. I here give it,
Honor, to Randal Rooney and you:--and bless ye, child, with the man of
_your_ choice, who is _mine_ now.

_Mrs. Carv._ (_aside to Mr. CARVER_) My dear, I wish to invite all these
good people to a wedding dinner; but really I am afraid I shall blunder
in saying their names--will you prompt me?

_Mr. Carv._ (_aside to Mrs. CARVER_) Why really I am not used to be a
prompter; however, I will condescend to prompt _you_, Mrs. Carver. (_He
prompts, while she speaks._)

_Mrs. Carv._ Mr. Big Briny of Cloon, Mr. Ulick of Eliogarty, Mr. Charley
of Killaspugbrone, and you, Mrs. Catty Rooney, and you, Mr. McBride,
senior, and you, Mr. Philip McBride, no longer _flourishing Phil_; since
you are now all reconciled, let me have the pleasure of giving you a
reconciliation dinner, at the wedding of Honor McBride, who is an honour
to her family, and Randal Rooney, who so well deserves her love.

_The McBRIDES and ROONIES join in the cry of_ Long life and great luck
to your ladyship, that was always good!

_Mr. Carv._ And you comprehend that I beg that the wedding may be
celebrated at Bob's Fort.

_All join in crying_, Long may your honour's honour reign over us in
glory at Bob's Fort!

_Catty._ (_cracking her fingers_) A fig for the bog of
Ballynascraw!--Now 'tis all Love and no Law!



THE ROSE, THISTLE,

AND

SHAMROCK.


A DRAMA.

IN THREE ACTS.



DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.


  MEN.

  SIR WILLIAM HAMDEN  . . . _An Elderly English Gentleman._

  CHRISTY GALLAGHER . . . . _Landlord of an Irish village inn._

  MR. ANDREW HOPE . . . . . _A Drum-major in a Scotch regiment._

  OWEN LARKEN . . . . . . . _The Son of the Widow Larken
                                 --a Boy of about fifteen._

  GILBERT . . . . . . . . . _An English Servant of Sir William Hamden._


  WOMEN.

  MISS O'HARA . . . . . . . _A young Heiress--Niece of Sir William Hamden._

  MISS FLORINDA GALLAGHER . _Daughter of Christy Gallagher._

  THE WIDOW LARKEN  . . . . _Mother of Owen and of Mabel._

  MABEL LARKEN  . . . . . . _Daughter of the Widow Larken._

  BIDDY DOYLE . . . . . . . _Maid of the Inn._


  Band of a Regiment.


SCENE.--_The Village of Bannow, in Ireland._



THE ROSE,

&c.



ACT I.



SCENE I.


_A Dressing-Room in Bannow-Castle, in Ireland._

_Enter Sir WILLIAM HAMDEN, in his morning-gown._

_Sir W._ Every thing precisely in order, even in Ireland!--laid, I do
believe, at the very same angle at which they used to be placed on
my own dressing-table, at Hamden-place, in Kent. Exact Gilbert! most
punctual of valet de chambres!--and a young fellow, as he is, too! It
is admirable!--Ay, though he looks as if he were made of wood, and
moves like an automaton, he has a warm heart, and a true English
spirit--true-born English every inch of him. I remember him, when first
I saw him ten years ago at his father's, Farmer Ashfield's, at the
harvest-home; there was Gilbert in all his glory, seated on the top of a
hay-rick, singing,

 "Then sing in praise of men of Kent,
    So loyal, brave, and free;
  Of Britain's race, if one surpass,
    A man of Kent is he!"

How he brought himself to quit the men of Kent to come to Ireland with
me is wonderful. However, now he is here, I hope he is tolerably happy:
I must ask the question in direct terms; for Gilbert would never speak
till spoken to, let him feel what he might.

_Sir W._ (_calls_) Gilbert!--Gilbert!

_Enter GILBERT._

_Gilb._ Here, sir.

_Sir W._ Gilbert, now you have been in Ireland some weeks, I hope you
are not unhappy.

_Gilb._ No, sir, thank you, sir.

_Sir W._ But are you happy, man?

_Gilb._ Yes, sir, thank you, sir.

[_GILBERT retires, and seems busy arranging his master's clothes: Sir
WILLIAM continues dressing._

_Sir W._ (_aside_) _Yes, sir, thank you, sir._ As dry as a chip--sparing
of his words, as if they were his last. And the fellow can talk if he
would--has humour, too, if one could get it out; and eloquence, could I
but touch the right string, the heartstring. I'll try again. (_Aloud_)
Gilbert!

_Gilb._ Yes, sir. (_Comes forward respectfully._)

_Sir W._ Pray what regiment was it that was passing yesterday through
the village of Bannow?

_Gilb._ I do not know, indeed, sir.

_Sir W._ That is to say, you saw they were Highlanders, and that was
enough for you--you are not fond of the Scotch, Gilbert?

_Gilb._ No, sir, I can't say as I be.

_Sir W._ But, Gilbert, for my sake you must conquer this prejudice.
I have many Scotch friends whom I shall go to visit one of these
days--excellent friends they are!

_Gilb._ Are they, sir? If so be you found them so, I will do my best,
I'm sure.

_Sir W._ Then pray go down to the inn here, and inquire if any of the
Scotch officers are there.

_Gilb._ I will, sir. I heard say the officers went off this morning.

_Sir W._ Then you need not go to inquire for them.

_Gilb._ No, sir. Only as I heard say, the drum-major and band is to
stay a few days in Bannow, on account of their wanting to enlist a new
bugle-boy. I was a thinking, if so be, sir, you thought well of it, on
account you like these Scotch, I'd better to step down, and see how the
men be as to being comfortable.

_Sir W._ That's right, do. Pray, have they tolerable accommodations at
the inn in this village?

_Gilb._ (_smiling_) I can't say much for that, sir.

_Sir W._ (_aside_) Now I shall set him going. (_Aloud_) What, the inn
here is not like one of our English inns on the Bath road?

_Gilb._ (_suppressing a laugh_) Bath road! Bless you, sir, it's no
more like an inn on the Bath road, nor on any road, cross or by-road
whatsomdever, as ever I seed in England. No more like--no more like than
nothing at all, sir!

_Sir W._ What sort of a place is it, then?

_Gilb._ Why, sir, I'd be ashamed almost to tell you. Why, sir, I never
seed such a place to call an inn, in all my born days afore. First and
foremost, sir, there's the pig is in and out of the kitchen all day
long, and next the calf has what they call the run of the kitchen; so
what with them brute beasts, and the poultry that has no coop, and is
always under one's feet, or over one's head, the kitchen is no place for
a Christian, even to eat his bread and cheese in.

_Sir W._ Well, so much for the kitchen. But the parlour--they have a
parlour, I suppose?

_Gilb._ Yes, sir, they have a parlour as they may call it, if they think
proper, sir. But then again, an honest English farmer would be _afeard
on_ his life to stay in it, on account of the ceiling just a coming down
a' top of his head. And if he should go up stairs, sir, why that's as
bad again, and worse; for the half of them there stairs is rotten, and
ever so many pulled down and burnt.

_Sir W._ Burnt!--the stairs?

_Gilb._ Burnt, sir, as sure as I'm standing here!--burnt, sir, for fuel
one _scarce year_, as they says, sir. Moreover, when a man does get up
the stairs, sir, why he is as bad off again, and worse; for the floor of
the place they calls the bedchamber, shakes at every step, as if it
was a coming down with one; and the walls has all cracks, from top to
toe--and there's rat-holes, or holes o' some sort or t'other, all in the
floor: so that if a man don't pick his steps curiously, his leg must go
down through the ceiling below. And moreover, there's holes over head
through the roof, sir; so that if it rains, it can't but pour on the
bed. They tell me, they used for to shift the bed from one place to
another, to find, as they say, the dry corner; but now the floor is
grown so crazy, they dare not stir the bed for their lives.

_Sir W._ Worse and worse!

_Gilb._ And moreover, they have it now in the worst place in the whole
room, sir. Close at the head of the bed, there is a window with every
pane broke, and some out entirely, and the women's petticoats and the
men's hats just stuck in to _stop all for the night_, as they say, sir.

[_GILBERT tries to stifle his laughter._

_Sir W._ Laugh out, honest Gilbert. In spite of your gravity and your
civility, laugh. There is no harm, but sometimes a great deal of good
done by laughing, especially in Ireland. Laughing has mended, or caused
to be mended, many things that never would have been mended otherwise.

_Gilb._ (_recovering his gravity_) That's true, I dare to say, sir.

_Sir W._ Now, Gilbert, if you were to keep an inn, it would be a very
different sort of inn from what you have been describing--would not it?

_Gilb._ I hope so, sir.

_Sir W._ I remember when we were talking of establishing you in England,
that your father told me you would like to set up an inn.

_Gilb._ (_his face brightening_) For sartin, sir, 'tis the thing in the
whole world I should like the best, and be the proudest on, if so be it
was in my power, and if so be, sir, you could spare me. (_Holding his
master's coat for him to put on._)

_Sir W._ _Could._ spare you, Gilbert!--I _will_ spare you, whether I
can conveniently or not. If I had an opportunity of establishing
advantageously a man who has served me faithfully for ten years, do
you think I would not put myself to a little inconvenience to do
it?--Gilbert, you do not know Sir William Hamden.

_Gilb._ Thank you, sir, but I do--and I should be main sorry to leave
you, that's sartin, if it was even to be landlord of the best inn in all
England--I know I should.

_Sir W._ I believe it.--But, stay--let us understand one another--I am
not talking of England, and perhaps you are not thinking of Ireland.

_Gilb._ Yes, sir, but I am.

_Sir W._ You are! I am heartily glad to hear it, for then I can serve
you directly. This young heiress, my niece, to whom this town belongs,
has a new inn ready built.

_Gilb._ I know, sir.

_Sir W._ Then, Gilbert, write a proposal for this inn, if you wish for
it, and I will speak to my niece.

_Gilb._ (_bowing_) I thank you, sir--only I hope I shall not stand
in any honest man's light. As to a dishonest man, I can't say I value
standing in his light, being that he has no right to have any, as I can
see.

_Sir W._ So, Gilbert, you will settle in Ireland at last? I am heartily
glad to see you have overcome your prejudices against this country. How
has this been brought about?

_Gilb._ Why, sir, the thing was, I didn't know nothing about it, and
there was a many lies told backwards and forwards of Ireland, by a many
that ought to have known better.

_Sir W._ And now that you have seen with your own eyes, you are happily
convinced that in Ireland the men are not all savages.

_Gilb._ No, sir, no ways savage, except in the article of some of them
going bare-footed; but the men is good men, most of them.

_Sir W._ And the women? You find that they have not wings on their
shoulders.

_Gilb._ No, sir. (_Smiling_) And I'm glad they have not got wings, else
they might fly away from us, which I'd be sorry for--some of them.

[_After making this speech, GILBERT steps back, and brushes his master's
hat diligently._

_Sir W._ (_aside_) Ha! is that the case? Now I understand it all. 'Tis
fair, that Cupid, who blinds so many, should open the eyes of some of
his votaries. (_Aloud._) When you set up as landlord in your new inn,
Gilbert, (_Gilbert comes forward_) you will want a landlady, shall not
you?

_Gilb._ (_falls back, and answers_) I shall, sir, I suppose.

_Sir W._ Miss--what's her name? the daughter of the landlord of the
present inn. Miss--what's her name?

_Gilb._ (_answers without coming forward_) Miss Gallagher, sir.

_Sir W._ Miss Gallagher?--A very ugly name!--I think it would be charity
to change it, Gilbert.

_Gilb._ (_bashfully_) It would, no doubt, sir.

_Sir W._ She is a very pretty girl.

_Gilb._ She is, sir, no doubt.

[_Cleaning the brush with his hand, bows, and is retiring._

_Sir W._ Gilbert, stay, (_GILBERT returns._) I say, Gilbert, I took
particular notice of this Miss Gallagher, as she was speaking to you
last Sunday. I thought she seemed to smile upon you, Gilbert.

_Gilb._ (_very bashfully_) I can't say, indeed, sir.

_Sir W._ I don't mean, my good Gilbert, to press you to say any thing
that you don't choose to say. It was not from idle curiosity that I
asked any questions, but from a sincere desire to serve you in whatever
way you like best, Gilbert.

_Gilb._ Oh, dear master! I can't speak, you are so good to me, and
always was--too good!--so I say nothing. Only I'm not ungrateful--I know
I'm not ungrateful, that I am not! And as to the rest, there's not a
thought I have, you'd condescend for to know, but you should know it as
soon as my mother--that's to say, as soon as ever I knowed it myself.
But, sir, the thing is this, since you're so good to let me speak to
you, sir--

_Sir W._ Speak on, pray, my good fellow.

_Gilb._ Then, sir, the thing is this. There's one girl, they say, has
set her thoughts upon me: now I don't like she, because why? I loves
another; but I should not choose to say so, on account of its not being
over and above civil, and on account of my not knowing yet for sartin
whether or not the girl I loves loves me, being I never yet could bring
myself to ask her the question. I'd rather not mention her name neither,
till I be more at a sartinty. But since you be so kind, sir, if you be
so good to give me till this evening, sir, as I have now, with the hopes
of the new inn, an independency to offer her, I will take courage, and
I shall have her answer soon, sir--and I will let you know with many
thanks, sir, whether--whether my heart's broke or not.

[_Exit GILBERT hastily._

_Sir W._ (_alone_) Good, affectionate creature! But who would have
thought that out of that piece of wood a lover could be made? This is
Cupid's delight!

[_Exit Sir WILLIAM._



SCENE II.


_Parlour of the Inn at Bannow._

_Miss FLORINDA GALLAGHER, sola._

_Various articles of dress on the floor--a looking-glass propped up on
a chest--Miss GALLAGHER is kneeling before the glass, dressing her long
hair, which hangs over her shoulders._

_Miss G._ I don't know what's come to this glass, that it is not
flattering at all _the_ day. The spots and cracks in it is making me
look so full of freckles and crow's feet--and my hair, too, that's such
a figure, as straight and as stiff and as stubborn as a presbyterian.
See! it won't curl for me: so it is in the papillotes it must be; and
that's most genteel.

[_Sound of a drum at a distance--Miss GALLAGHER starts up and listens._

_Miss G._ Hark till I hear! Is not that a drum I hear? Ay, I had always
a quick ear for the drum from my cradle. And there's the whole band--but
it's only at the turn of the avenue. It's on parade they are. So I'll be
dressed and dacent before they are here, I'll engage. And it's my plaid
scarf I'll throw over all, iligant for the Highlanders, and I don't
doubt but the drum-major will be conquist to it at my feet afore
night--and what will Mr. Gilbert say to that? And what matter what
he says?--I'm not bound to him, especially as he never popped me the
question, being so preposterously bashful, as them Englishmen have the
misfortune to be. But that's not my fault any way. And if I happen to
find a more shutable match, while he's turning the words in his mouth,
who's to blame me?--My father, suppose!--And what matter?--Have not I
two hundred pounds of my own, down on the nail, if the worst come to the
worst, and why need I be a slave to any man, father or other?--But he'll
kill himself soon with the whiskey, poor man, at the rate he's going.
Two glasses now for his _mornings_, and his _mornings_ are going on all
day. There he is, roaring. (_Mr. GALLAGHER heard singing._) You can't
come in here, sir.

[_She bolts the door._

_Enter CHRISTY GALLAGHER, kicking the door open._

_Christy._ Can't I, dear? what will hinder me?--Give me the _kay_ of the
spirits, if you plase.

_Miss G._ Oh, sir! see how you are walking through all my things.

_Christy._ And they on the floor!--where else should I walk, but on the
floor, pray, Miss Gallagher?--Is it, like a fly, on the ceiling you'd
have me be, walking with my head upside down, to plase you?

_Miss G._ Indeed, sir, whatever way you're walking, it's with your
head upside down, as any body may notice, and that don't plase me at
all--isn't it a shame, in a morning?

_Christy._ Phoo! don't be talking of shame, you that knows nothing about
it. But lend me the kay of the spirits, Florry.

_Miss G._ Sir, my name's Florinda--and I've not the kay of the spirits
at all, nor any such vulgar thing.

_Christy._ Vulgar! is it the kay?

_Miss G._ Yes, sir, it's very vulgar to be keeping of kays.

_Christy._ That's lucky, for I've lost all mine now. Every single kay I
have in the wide world now I lost, barring this kay of the spirits, and
that must be gone after the rest too I b'lieve, since you know nothing
of it, unless it be in this here chist.

[_CHRISTY goes to the chest._

_Miss G._ Oh, mercy, sir!--Take care of the looking-glass, which is
broke already. Oh, then, father, 'tis not in the chist, 'pon my word and
honour now, if you'll b'lieve: so don't be rummaging of all my things.

[_CHRISTY persists in opening the chest._

_Christy._ It don't signify, Florry; I've granted myself a gineral
sarch-warrant; dear, for the kay; and, by the blessing, I'll go clane to
the bottom o' this chist. (_Miss GALLAGHER writhes in agony._) Why, what
makes you stand twisting there like an eel or an ape, child?--What, in
the name of the ould one, is it you're afeard on?--Was the chist full
now of love-letter scrawls from the grand signior or the pope himself,
you could not be more tinder of them.

_Miss G._ Tinder, sir!--to be sure, when it's my best bonnet I'm
thinking on, which you are mashing entirely.

_Christy._ Never fear, dear! I won't mash an atom of the bonnet,
provided always, you'll mash these apples for me, jewel. (_He takes
apples out of the chest._) And wasn't I lucky to find them in it? Oh,
I knew I'd not sarch this chist for nothing. See how they'll make an
iligant apple-pie for Mr. Gilbert now, who loves an iligant apple-pie
above all things--your iligant self always excipted, dear.

[_Miss GALLAGHER makes a slight curtsy, but motions the apples from
her._

_Miss G._ Give the apples then to the girl, sir, and she'll make you the
pie, for I suppose she knows how.

_Christy._ And don't you, then, Florry?

_Miss G._ And how should I, sir?--You didn't send me to the
dancing-school of Ferrinafad to larn me to make apple-pies, I conclude.

_Christy._ Troth, Florry, 'twas not I sint you there, sorrow foot but
your mother; only she's in her grave, and it's bad to be talking ill
of the dead any way. But be that how it will, Mr. Gilbert must get the
apple-pie, for rasons of my own that need not be mintioned. So, Biddy!
Biddy, girl! Biddy Doyle!

_Enter BIDDY, running, with a ladle in her hand._

_Christy._ Drop whatever you have in your hand, and come here, and be
hanged to you! And had you no ears to your head, Biddy?

_Biddy._ Sure I have, sir--ears enough. Only they are bothering me so
without, that pig and the dog fighting, that I could not hear ye calling
at-all-at-all. What is it?--For I'm skimming the pot, and can't lave it.

[_Miss GALLAGHER goes on dressing_

_Christy._ It's only these apples, see!--You'll make me an apple-pie,
Biddy, smart.

_Biddy._ Save us, sir!--And how will I ever get time, when I've the hash
to make for them Scotch yet? Nor can I tell, for the life of me, what it
was I did with the onions and scallions neither, barring by great luck
they'd be in and under the press here--(_running to look under the
press_)--which they are, praised be God! in the far corner.

[_BIDDY stretches her arm under the press._

_Christy._ There's a nice girl, and a 'cute cliver girl, worth a dozen
of your Ferrinafads.

[_BIDDY throws the onions out from under the press, while he speaks._

_Miss G._ Then she's as idle a girl as treads the earth, in or out of
shoe-leather, for there's my bed that she has not made yet, and the
stairs with a month's dust always; and never ready by any chance to do a
pin's worth for one, when one's dressing.

[_A drum heard; the sound seems to be approaching near._

_Christy._ Blood! the last rowl of the drum, and I not got the kay of
the spirits.

_Miss G._ Oh, saints above! what's gone with my plaid scarf?--and my
hair _behind_, see!

[_Miss GALLAGHER twists up her hair behind.--BIDDY gathers up the onions
into her apron, and exit hastily.--CHRISTY runs about the room in a
distracted manner, looking under and over every thing, repeating_--The
kay! the kay! the kay!

_Christy._ For the whiskey must be had for them Scotch, and the bottled
beer too for them English; and how will I get all or any without the
kay? Bones, and distraction!

_Miss G._ And my plain hanke'cher that must be had, and where will I
find it, in the name of all the damons, in this chaos you've made me
out of the chist, father? And how will I git all in again, before the
drum-major's in it?

_Christy._ (_sweeping up a heap of things in his arms, and throwing them
into the chest_) Very asy, sure! this ways.

_Miss G._ (_darting forward_) There's the plaid hanke'cher.--(_She
draws it out from the heap under her father's arm, and smooths it on her
knee._) But, oh! father, how you are making hay of my things!

_Christy._ Then I wish I could make hay of them, for hay is much wanting
for the horses that's in it.

_Miss G._ (_putting on her plaid scarf_) Weary on these pins! that I
can't stick any way at all, my hands all trimble so.--Biddy! Biddy!
Biddy! Biddy, can't ye?--(_Re-enter BIDDY, looking bewildered._) Just
pin me behind, girl--smart.

_Christy._ Biddy is it?--Biddy, girl, come over and help me tramp down
this hay.

[_CHRISTY jumps into the chest._

_Miss G._ Oh, Biddy, run and stop him, for the love of God! with his
brogues and big feet.

_Biddy._ Oh, marcy! that's too bad, sir; get out o' that if you plase,
or Miss Florry will go mad, sure! and the major that's coming up the
street--Oh, sir, if you plase, in the name of mercy!

_Christy._ (_jumping out_) Why, then, sittle it all yourself, Biddy, and
success to you; but you'll no more get all in again afore Christmas,
to the best of my opinion, no more, see! than you'd get bottled porter,
froth and all, into the bottle again, once it was out.

_Miss G._ Such comparisons!--(_tossing back her head._)

_Christy._ And caparisons!--(_pointing to the finery on the floor._) But
in the middle of it all, lend me the poker, which will answer for the
master-kay, sure!--that poker that is houlding up the window--can't ye,
Biddy?

[_BIDDY runs and pulls the poker hastily from under the sash, which
suddenly falls, and every pane of glass falls out and breaks._

_Christy._ Murder! and no glazier!

_Miss G._ Then Biddy, of all girls, alive or dead, you're the
awk'ardest, vulgarest, unluckiest to touch any thing at all!

_Biddy._ (_picking up the glass_) I can't think what's come to the
glass, that makes it break so asy the day! Sure I done it a hundred
times the same, and it never broke wid me afore.

_Christy._ Well! stick up a petticoat, or something of the kind, and any
way lend me hould of the poker; for, in lieu of a kay, that's the only
frind in need.

[_Exit CHRISTY with the poker._

_Miss G._ There, Biddy, that will do--any how.--Just shut down the lid,
can't ye? and find me my other shoe. Biddy--then, lave that,--come
out o' that, do girl, and see the bed!--run there, turn it up just any
way;--and Biddy, run here,--stick me this tortise comb in the back of my
head--oh! (_screams and starts away from BIDDY._) You ran it fairly into
my brain, you did! you're the grossest! heavy handiest!--fit only to
wait on Sheelah na Ghirah, or the like.--(_Turns away from BIDDY with
an air of utter contempt._) But I'll go and resave the major
properly.--(_Turns back as she is going, and says to BIDDY_) Biddy,
settle all here, can't ye?--Turn up the bed, and sweep the glass and
dust in the dust corner, for it's here I'm bringing him to dinner,--so
settle up all in a minute, do you mind me, Biddy! for your life!

[_Exit Miss GALLAGHER._

_BIDDY, alone_--(_speaking while she puts the things in the room in
order._)

_Settle up all in a minute!_--asy said!--and _for my life_ too!--Why,
then, there's not a greater slave than myself in all Connaught, or the
three kingdoms--from the time I get up in the morning, and that's afore
the flight of night, till I get to my bed again at night, and that's
never afore one in the morning! But I wouldn't value all one pin's pint,
if it was kind and civil she was to me. But after I strive, and strive
to the utmost, and beyand--(_sighs deeply_) and when I found the
innions, and took the apple-pie off her hands, and settled her behind,
and all to the best of my poor ability for her, after, to go and call
me Sheelah na Ghirah! though I don't rightly know who that Sheelah na
Ghirah was from Adam--but still it's the bad language I get, goes to
my heart. Oh, if it had but plased Heaven to have cast me my lot in the
sarvice of a raal jantleman or lady instead of the likes of these! Now,
I'd rather be a dog in his honour's or her honour's house than lie under
the tongue, of Miss Gallagher, as I do--to say nothing of ould Christy.

_Miss GALLAGHER'S voice heard, calling,_

Biddy! Biddy Doyle! Biddy, can't ye?

_Biddy._ Here, miss, in the room, readying it, I am.

_CHRISTY GALLAGHER'S voice heard calling,_

Biddy!--Biddy Doyle!--Biddy, girl! What's come o' that girl, that always
out o' the way idling, when wanted?--Plague take her!

_Biddy._ Saints above! hear him now!--But I scorn to answer.

_Screaming louder in mingled voices, CHRISTY'S and Miss GALLAGHER'S,_

Biddy! Biddy Doyle!--Biddy, girl!

_Christy._ (_putting in his head_) Biddy! sorrow take ye! are ye in
it?--And you are, and we cracking our vitals calling you. What is it
you're dallying here for? Stir! stir! dinner!

[_He draws back his head, and exit._

_BIDDY, alone._

Coming then!--Sure it's making up the room I am with all speed, and the
bed not made after all!--(_Throws up the press-bed._)--But to live in
this here house, girl or boy, one had need have the lives of nine cats
and the legs of forty.

[_Exit._



SCENE III.


_The Kitchen of the Inn._

_Miss FLORINDA GALLAGHER and CHRISTY GALLAGHER._

_Boys and Men belonging to the Band, in the back Scene._

_Christy._ (_to the band_) The girl's coming as fast as possible to get
yees your dinners, jantlemen, and sorrow better dinner than she'll
give you: you'll get all instantly--(_To Miss GALLAGHER_) And am not I
telling you, Florry, that the drum-major did not come in yet at all, but
went out through the town, to see and get a billet and bed for the sick
man they've got.

_Enter BIDDY, stops and listens._

_Miss G._ I wonder the major didn't have the manners to step in, and
spake to the lady first--was he an Irishman, he would.

_Biddy._ Then it's my wonder he wouldn't step in to take his dinner
first--was he an Englishman, he would. But it's lucky for me and for
him he didn't, becaase he couldn't, for it won't be ready this
three-quarters of an hour--only the Scotch broth, which boiled over.

[_BIDDY retires, and goes on cooking.--CHRISTY fills out a glass of
spirits to each of the band._

_Miss G._ Since the major's not in it, I'll not be staying here--for
here's only riff-raff triangle and gridiron boys, and a black-a-moor,
and that I never could stand; so I'll back into the room. Show the major
up, do you mind, father, as soon as ever he'd come.

_Christy._ Jantlemen all! here's the king's health, and confusion worse
confounded to his enemies, for yees; or if ye like it better, here's
the plaid tartan and fillibeg for yees, and that's a comprehensive
toast--will give ye an appetite for your dinners.

[_They drink in silence._

_Miss G._ Did ye hear me, father?

_Christy._ Ay, ay.--Off with ye!

[_Exit Miss GALLAGHER, tossing back her head.--CHRISTY pours out a glass
of whiskey for himself, and with appropriate graces of the elbow and
little finger, swallows it, making faces of delight._

_Christy._ Biddy! Biddy, girl, ye!--See the pig putting in his
nose--keep him out--can't ye?

_Biddy._ Hurrush! hurrush! (_Shaking her apron._) Then that pig's as
sinsible as any Christian, for he'd run away the minute he'd see me.

_Christy._ That's manners o' the pig.--Put down a power more turf,
Biddy:--see the jantlemen's gathering round the fire, and has a right
to be _could_ in their knees this St. Patrick's day in the morning--for
it's March, that comes in like a lion.

[_The band during this speech appear to be speaking to BIDDY.--She comes
forward to CHRISTY._

_Christy._ What is it they are whispering and conjuring, Biddy?

_Biddy._ 'Twas only axing me, they were, could they all get beds the
night in it.

_Christy._ Beds! ay can yees, and for a dozen more--only the room above
is tinder in the joists, and I would not choose to put more on the floor
than two beds, and one shake-down, which will answer for five; for
it's a folly to talk,--I'll tell you the truth, and not a word of lie.
Wouldn't it be idle to put more of yees in the room than it could hold,
and to have the floor be coming through the parlour ceiling, and so
spoil two good rooms for one night's bad rest, jantlemen?--Well, Biddy,
what is it they're saying?

_Biddy._ They say they don't understand--can they have beds or not?

_Christy._ Why, body and bones! No, then, since nothing else will they
comprehend,--_no_,--only five, say,--five can sleep in it.

[_The band divide into two parties,--Five remain, and the others walk
off in silence._

_Biddy._ And it's into the room you'd best walk up, had not yees, five
jantlemen, that sleep?

[_The five walk into the parlour--CHRISTY preparing to follow, carrying
whiskey bottle and, jug--turns back, and says to BIDDY,_

Is it dumb they are all? or _innocents_?

_Biddy._ Not at all innocents, no more than myself nor yourself. Nor
dumb neither, only that the Scotch tongue can't spake English as we do.

_Christy._ Oh! if that's all, after dinner the whiskey punch will make
'em spake, I'll engage.

[_Exit CHRISTY._

_Biddy._ 'Tis I that am glad they've taken themselves away, for there's
no cooking with all the men in the fire.

_Enter Mr. ANDREW HOPE, Drum-major._

_Mr. H._ A gude day to you, my gude lassy.

_Biddy._ The same to you, sir, and kindly. I beg your pardon for not
knowing--would it be the drum-major, sir?

_Mr. H._ No offence, my gude lass; I am Andrew Hope, and drum-major.
I met some of my men in the street coming down, and they told me they
could not have beds here.

_Biddy._ No, sir, plase your honour, only five that's in the room
yonder: if you'd be plased to walk up, and you'll get your dinner
immediately, your honour, as fast as can be dished, your honour.

_Mr. H._ No hurry, my gude lass. But I would willingly see the beds for
my poor fellows, that has had a sair march.

_Biddy._ Why then, if your honour would take a fool's advice, you'd not
be looking at them beds, to be spoiling your dinner--since, good or bad,
all the looking at 'em in the wide world won't mend 'em one feather,
sure.

_Mr. H._ My gude girl, that's true. Still I'd like ever to face the
worst.

_Biddy._ Then it's up that ladder you'll go.

_Mr. H._ No stairs?

_Biddy._ Oh, there are stairs--but they are burnt and coming down, and
you'll find the ladder safest and best; only mind the little holes in
the floor, if you plase, your honour.

[_Mr. HOPE ascends the ladder while she speaks, and goes into the
bedchamber above._

_BIDDY, sola._

Well, I'm ashamed of my life, when a stranger and foreigner's reviewing
our house, though I'm only the girl in it, and no ways answerable. It
frets me for my country forenent them Scotch and English. (_Mr. HOPE
descends the ladder._) Then I'm sorry it's not better for your honour's
self, and men. But there's a new inn to be opened the 25th, in this
town; and if you return this way, I hope things will be more
agreeable and proper. But you'll have no bad dinner, your honour, any
way;--there's Scotch broth, and Scotch hash, and fried eggs and bacon,
and a turkey, and a boiled leg of mutton and turnips, and _pratees_
the best, and well boiled; and I hope, your honour, that's enough for a
soldier's dinner, that's not nice.

_Mr. H._ Enough for a soldier's dinner! ay, gude truth, my lass; and
more than enough for Andrew Hope, who is no ways nice. But, tell me,
have you no one to help you here, to dress all this?

_Biddy._ Sorrow one, to do a hand's turn for me but myself, plase your
honour; for the daughter of the house is too fine to put her hand to any
thing in life: but she's in the room there within, beyond, if you would
like to see her--a fine lady she is!

_Mr. H._ A fine lady, is she? Weel, fine or coarse, I shall like to see
her,--and weel I may and must, for I had a brother once I luved as my
life; and four years back that brother fell sick here, on his road
to the north, and was kindly tended here at the inn at Bannow; and he
charged me, puir lad, on his death-bed, if ever fate should quarter me
in Bannow, to inquire for his gude friends at the inn, and to return
them his thanks; and so I'm fain to do, and will not sleep till I've
done so.--But tell me first, my kind lassy,--for I see you are a kind
lassy,--tell me, has not this house had a change of fortune, and fallen
to decay of late? for the inn at Bannow was pictured to me as a bra'
neat place.

_Biddy._ Ah! that was, may-be, the time the Larkens had it?

_Mr. H._ The Larkens!--that was the very name: it warms my heart to hear
the sound of it.

_Biddy._ Ay, and quite another sort of an inn this was, I hear talk,
in their time,--and quite another guess sort, the Larkens from these
Gallaghers.

_Mr. H._ And what has become of the Larkens, I pray?

_Biddy._ They are still living up yonder, by the bush of Bannow, in a
snug little place of a cabin--that is, the Widow Kelly.

_Mr. H._ Kelly!--but I am looking for Larken.

_Biddy._ Oh, Larken! that's Kelly: 'tis all one--she was a Kelly before
she was married, and in this country we stick to the maiden's name
throughout.

_Mr. H._ The same in our country--often.

_Biddy._ Indeed! and her daughter's name is Mabel, after the Kellys; for
you might have noticed, if it ever happened your honour to hear it, an
ould song of Mabel Kelly--_Planxty_ Kelly. Then the present Mabel is
as sweet a cratur as ever the ould Mabel Kelly was--but I must mind the
pratees. (_She goes to lift a pot off the fire._)

_Mr. H._ Hold! my gude girl, let me do that for you; mine is a strong
haund.

_Biddy._ I thank your honour,--it's too much trouble entirely for a
jantleman like you; but it's always the best jantleman has the _laste_
pride.--Then them Kellys is a good race, ould and young, and I love 'em,
root and branch. Besides Mabel the daughter, there's Owen the son, and
as good a son he is--no better! He got an edication in the beginning,
till the troubles came across his family, and the boy, the child,
for it's bare fifteen he is this minute, give up all his hopes and
prospects, the cratur! to come home and slave for his mother.

_Mr. H._ Ah, that's weel--that's weel! I luve the lad that makes a gude
son.--And is the father _deed_?

_Biddy._ Ay, dead and deceased he is, long since, and was buried just
upon that time that ould Sir Cormac, father of the young heiress that
is now at the castle above, the former landlord that was over us, died,
see!--Then there was new times and new _takes_, and the widow was turned
out of the inn, and these Gallaghers got it, and all wint wrong and
to rack; for Mrs. Gallagher, that was, drank herself into her grave
unknownst, for it was by herself in private she took it; and Christy
Gallagher, the present man, is doing the same, only publicly, and
running through all, and the house is tumbling over our ears: but he
hopes to get the new inn; and if he does, why, he'll be lucky--and
that's all I know, for the dinner is done now, and I'm going in with
it--and won't your honour walk up to the room now?

_Mr. H._ (_going to the ladder_) Up here?

_Biddy._ Oh, it's not _up_ at all, your honour, sure! but down
here--through this ways.

_Mr. H._ One word more, my gude lassy. As soon as we shall have all
dined, and you shall have ta'en your ane dinner, I shall beg of you,
if you be not then too much tired, to show me the way to that bush of
Bannow, whereat this Widow Larken's cottage is.

_Biddy._ With all the pleasure in life, if I had not a fut to stand
upon.

[_Exit Mr. HOPE.--BIDDY follows with a dish smoking hot._

_Biddy._ And I hope you'll find it an iligant Scotch hash, and there's
innions plinty--sure the best I had I'd give you; for I'm confident now
he's the true thing--and tho' he is Scotch, he desarves to be Irish,
every inch of him.

[_Exit BIDDY DOYLE._



ACT II.



SCENE I.


_An Irish Cabin.--The Kitchen._

_Widow LARKEN. On one side of her, MABEL at needle-work; on the other
side, OWEN her son enters, bringing in a spinning-wheel, which he places
before his mother._

_Owen._ There, mother, is your wheel mended for you.

_Mabel._ Oh, as good as new, Owen has made it for you.

_Widow._ Well, whatever troubles come upon me in this world, have not
I a right to be thankful, that has such good childer left me?--Still it
grieves me, and goes to the quick of my heart, Mabel, dear, that your
brother here should be slaving for me, a boy that is qualified for
better.

_Owen._ And what better can I be than working for my mother--man or boy?

_Mabel._ And if he thinks it no slavery, what slavery is it, mother?

_Owen._ Mother, to-day is the day to propose for the new inn--I saw
several with the schoolmaster, who was as busy as a bee, penning
proposals for them, according as they dictated, and framing letters and
petitions for Sir William Hamden and Miss O'Hara. Will you go up to the
castle and speak, mother?

_Widow._ No, no--I can't speak, Owen.

_Owen._ Here's the pen and ink-horn, and I'll sit me down, if you'd
sooner write than speak.

_Widow._ See, Owen, to settle your mind, I would not wish to get that
inn.

_Owen._ Not wish to get it! The new inn, mother--but if you had gone
over it, as I have. 'Tis the very thing for you. Neat and compact as a
nutshell; not one of them grand inns, too great or the place, that
never answers no more than the hat that's too big for the head, and that
always blows off.

_Widow._ No, dear, not the thing for me, now a widow, and your sister
Mabel--tho' 'tis not for me to say--such a likely, fine girl. I'd not be
happy to have her in a public-house--so many of all sorts that would be
in it, and drinking, may be, at fairs and funerals, and no man of the
house, nor master, nor father for her.

_Owen._ Sure, mother, I'm next to a father for her. Amn't I a brother?
and no brother ever loved a sister better, or was more jealous of
respect for her; and if you'd be pleasing, I could be man and master
enough.

_Widow._ (_laughing_) You, ye dear slip of a boy!

_Owen._ (_proudly, and raising his head high_) Slip of a boy as I am,
then, and little as you think of me--

_Widow._ Oh! I think a great deal of you! only I can't think you big nor
old, Owen, can I?

_Owen._ No--nor any need to be big or old, to keep people of all sorts
in respect, mother.

_Widow._ Then he looked like his father--did not he, Mabel?

_Mabel._ He did--God bless him!

_Owen._ Now hear me, mother, for I'm going to speak sense. You need not
listen, Mabel.

_Mabel._ But it's what I like to listen to sense, especially yours,
Owen.

_Owen._ Then I can't help it.--You must hear, even if you blush for it.

_Mabel._ Why would I blush?

_Owen._ Because you won't be able to help it, when I say Mr.
Gilbert.--See!

_Mabel._ Oh, dear Owen! that's not fair. (_She falls back a little._)

_Owen._ Well, mother, it's with you I'm reasoning. If he was your
son-in-law--

_Widow._ Hush! that he'll never be. Now, Owen, I'll grow angry if you
put nonsense in the girl's head.

_Owen._ But if it's in the man's head, it's not a bit nonsense.

_Mabel._ Owen, you might well say I shouldn't listen to you.

[_Exit MABEL._

_Widow._ There now, you've drove your sister off.

_Owen._ Well, Gilbert will bring her on again, may be.

_Widow._ May be--but that _may be_ of yours might lead us all wrong.

[_She lays her hand on OWEN'S arm, and speaks in a serious tone._

_Widow._ Now, dear, don't be saying one word more to her, lest it should
end in a disappointment.

_Owen._ Still it is my notion, 'tis Mabel he loves.

_Widow._ Oh! what should you know, dear, o' the matter?

_Owen._ Only having eyes and ears like another.

_Widow._ Then what hinders him to speak?

_Owen._ It's bashfulness only, mother. Don't you know what that is?

_Widow._ I do, dear. It's a woman should know that best. And it is not
Mabel, nor a daughter of mine, nor a sister of yours, Owen, should
be more forward to understand than the man is to speak--was the man a
prince.

_Owen._ Mother, you are right; but I'm not wrong neither. And since I'm
to say no more, I'm gone, mother.

[_Exit OWEN._

_Widow._ (_alone_) Now who could blame that boy, whatever he does or
says? It's all heart he is, and wouldn't hurt a fly, except from want of
thought. But, stay now, I'm thinking of them soldiers that is in town.
(_Sighs_) Then I didn't sleep since ever they come; but whenever I'd be
sinking to rest, starting, and fancying I heard the drum for Owen to
go. (_A deep groaning sigh._) Och! and then the apparition of Owen in
regimentals was afore me!

_Enter OWEN, dancing and singing,_

 "Success to my brains, and success to my tongue!
  Success to myself, that never was wrong!"

_Widow._ What is it? What ails the boy? Are ye mad, Owen?

_Owen._ (_capering, and snapping his fingers_) Ay, mad! mad with joy I
am. And it's joy I give you, and joy you'll give me, mother darling.
The new inn's yours, and no other's, and Gilbert is your own too, and
no other's--but Mabel's for life. And is not there joy enough for you,
mother?

_Widow._ Joy!--Oh, too much! (_She sinks on a seat._)

_Owen._ I've been too sudden for her!

_Widow._ No, dear--not a bit, only just give me time--to feel it. And is
it true? And am I in no dream now? And where's Mabel, dear?

_Owen._ Gone to the well, and Gilbert with her. We met her, and he
turned off with her, and I come on to tell you, mother dear.

_Widow._ Make me clear and certain; for I'm slow and weak, dear.
Who told you all this good? and is it true?--And my child Mabel
_mavourneen_!--Oh, tell me again it's true.

_Owen._ True as life. But your lips is pale still, and you all in a
tremble. So lean on me, mother dear, and come out into God's open air,
till I see your spirit come back--and here's your bonnet, and we'll meet
Mabel and Gilbert, and we'll all go up to the castle to give thanks to
the lady.

_Widow._ (_looking up to heaven_) Thanks! Oh, hav'n't I great reason to
be thankful, if ever widow had!

[_Exeunt, WIDOW leaning on OWEN._



SCENE II.


_An Apartment in Bannote Castle._

_Footmen bringing in Baskets of Flowers._

_Miss O'HARA and Sir WILLIAM HAMDEN._

_Clara._ Now, my dear uncle, I want to consult you.

_Sir W._ And welcome, my child. But if it is about flowers, you could
not consult a worse person, for I scarcely know a rose from a ----. What
is this you have here--a thistle?

_Clara._ Yes, sir; and that is the very thing I want your opinion about.

_Sir W._ Well, my dear, all I know about thistles, I think, is, that
asses love thistles--will that do?

_Clara._ Oh, no, sir--pray be serious, for I am in the greatest hurry to
settle how it is all to be. You know it is St. Patrick's day.

_Sir W._ Yes, and here is plenty of shamrock, I see.

_Clara._ Yes, here is the shamrock--the rose, the ever blowing rose--and
the thistle. And as we are to have Scotch, English, and Irish at our
little fête champêtre this evening, don't you think it would be pretty
to have the tents hung with the rose, thistle, and shamrock joined?

_Sir W._ Very pretty, my dear: and I am glad there are to be tents,
otherwise a fête champêtre in the month of March would give me the
rheumatism even to think of.

_Clara._ Oh, my dear sir, not at all. You will be snug and warm in the
green-house.

_Sir W._ Well, Clara, dispose of me as you please--I am entirely at your
service for the rest of my days.

_Clara._ Thank you, sir--you are the best of uncles, guardians, and
friends.

[_Miss O'HARA goes back and appears to be giving directions to the
servants._

_Sir W._ Uncle, nature made me--guardian, your father made me--friend,
you made me yourself, Clara. (_Sir WILLIAM comes forward, and speaks as
if in a reverie._) And ever more my friendship for her shall continue,
though my guardianship is over. I am glad I conquered my indolence, and
came to Ireland with her; for a cool English head will be wanting to
guide that warm Irish heart.--And here I stand counsel for prudence
against generosity!

_Clara._ (_advancing to him playfully_) A silver penny for your
thoughts, uncle.

_Sir W._ Shall I never teach you economy?--such extravagance! to give a
penny, and a silver penny, for what you may have for nothing.

_Clara._ Nothing can come of nothing--speak again.

_Sir W._ I was thinking of you, my--_ward_ no longer.

_Clara._ Ward always, pray, sir. Whatever I may be in the eye of the
law, I am not arrived at years of discretion yet, in my own opinion,
nor in yours, I suspect. So I pray you, uncle, let me still have the
advantage of your counsel and guidance.

_Sir W._ You ask for my advice, Clara. Now let me see whether you will
take it.

_Clara._ I am all attention.

_Sir W._ You know you must allow me a little prosing. You are an
heiress, Clara--a rich heiress--an Irish heiress. You desire to do good,
don't you?

_Clara._ (_with eagerness_) With all my heart!--With all my soul!

_Sir W._ That is not enough, Clara. You must not only desire to do good,
you must know how to do it.

_Clara._ Since you, uncle, know that so well, you will teach it to me.

_Sir W._ Dear, flattering girl--but you shall not flatter me out of the
piece of advice I have ready for you. Promise me two things.

_Clara._ And first, for your first.

_Sir W._ _Finish whatever you begin._--Good beginnings, it is said, make
good endings, but great beginnings often make little endings, or, in
this country, no endings at all. _Finis coronat opta_--and that crown is
wanting wherever I turn my eyes. Of the hundred magnificent things your
munificent father began--

_Clara._ (_interrupting_) Oh, sir, spare my father!--I promise you that
_I_ will finish whatever I begin. What's your next command?

_Sir W._ Promise me that you will never make a promise to a tenant, nor
any agreement about business, but in writing--and empower me to say that
you will never keep any verbal promise about business--then, none such
will ever be claimed.

_Clara._ I promise you--Stay!--this is a promise about business: I must
give it to you in writing.

[_Miss O'HARA sits down to a writing-table, and writes._

_Sir W._ (_looking out of the window_) I hope I have been early enough
in giving this my second piece of advice, worth a hundred sequins--for I
see the yard is crowded with gray-coated suitors, and the table here is
already covered with letters and petitions.

_Clara._ Yes, uncle, but I have not read half of them yet.

[_Presents the written promise to Sir WILLIAM._

_Sir W._ Thank you, my dear; and you will be thankful to me for this
when I am dead and gone.

_Clara._ And whilst you are alive and here, if you please, uncle. Now,
sir, since you are so kind to say that your time is at my disposal, will
you have the goodness to come with me to these gray-coated suitors, and
let us give answers to these poor petitioners, who, "as in duty bound,
will ever pray."

[_Takes up a bundle of papers._

_Sir W._ (_taking a letter from his pocket_) First, my dear niece, I
must add to the number. I have a little business. A petition to present
from a _protégé_ of mine.

_Clara._ A protégé of yours!--Then it is granted, whatever it be.

_Sir W._ (_smiling_) Recollect your promise, Clara.

_Clara._ Oh, true--it must be in writing.

[_She goes hastily to the writing-table, and takes up a pen._

_Sir W._ Read before you write, my dear--I insist upon it.

_Clara._ Oh, sir, when it is a request of yours, how can I grant it
soon enough? But it shall be done in the way you like
best--slowly--deliberately--(_opening the letter_)--in minuet time. And
I will look before I leap--and I'll read before I write. (_She reads
the signature._) Gilbert! Honest Gilbert, how glad I shall be to do any
thing for you, independently of your master! (_Reads on, suddenly lets
the letter drop, and clasps her hands._) Sir--Uncle, my dear uncle, how
unfortunate I am! Why did, not you ask me an hour ago?--Within this hour
I have promised the new inn to another person.

_Sir W._ Indeed!--that is unfortunate. My poor Gilbert will be sadly
disappointed.

_Clara._ How vexed I am! But I never should have thought of Gilbert for
the inn: I fancied he disliked Ireland so much that he would never have
settled here.

_Sir W._ So thought I till this morning. But love, my dear--love is lord
of all. Poor Gilbert!

_Clara._ Poor Gilbert!--I am so sorry I did not know this sooner. Of all
people, I should for my own part have preferred Gilbert for the inn, he
would have kept it so well.

_Sir W._ He would so. (_Sighs._)

_Clara._ I do so blame myself--I have been so precipitate, so foolish,
so wrong--without consulting you even.

_Sir W._ Nay, my dear, I have been as wrong, as foolish, as precipitate
as you; for before I consulted you, I told Gilbert that I could
almost _promise_ that he should have the inn in consequence of my
recommendation. And upon the strength of that _almost_ he is gone a
courting. My dear, we are both a couple of fools; but I am an old--you
are a young one. There is a wide difference--let that comfort you.

_Clara._ Oh, sir, nothing comforts me, I am so provoked with myself; and
you will be so provoked with me, when I tell you how silly I have been.

_Sir W._ Pray tell me.

_Clara._ Would you believe that I have literally given it for a song? A
man sent me this morning a copy of verses to the heiress of Bannow. The
verses struck my fancy--I suppose because they flattered me; and with
the verses came a petition setting forth claims, and a tenant's right,
and fair promises, and a proposal for the new inn; and at the bottom
of the paper I rashly wrote these words--"_The poet's petition is
granted._"

_Sir W._ A promise in writing, too!--My dear Clara, I cannot flatter
you--this certainly is not a wise transaction. So, to reward a poet, you
made him an innkeeper. Well, I have known wiser heads, to reward a poet,
make him an exciseman.

_Clara._ But, sir, I am not quite so silly as they were, for I did not
_make_ the poet an innkeeper--he is one already.

_Sir W._ An innkeeper already!--Whom do you mean?

_Clara._ A man with a strange name--or a name that will sound strange to
your English ears--Christy Gallagher.

_Sir W._ A rogue and a drunken dog, I understand: but he is a poet, and
knows how to flatter the heiress of Bannow.

_Clara._ (_striking her forehead_) Silly, silly Clara!

_Sir W._ (_changing his tone from irony to kindness_) Come, my dear
Clara, I will not torment you any more. You deserve to have done a great
deal of mischief by your precipitation; but I believe this time you have
done little or none, at least none that is irremediable; and you have
made Gilbert happy, I hope and believe, though without intending it.

_Clara._ My dear uncle--you set my heart at ease--but explain.

_Sir W._ Then, my dear, I shrewdly suspect that the daughter of this
Christy _What-do-you-call-him_ is the lady of Gilbert's thoughts.

_Clara._ I see it all in an instant. That's delightful! We can pension
off the drunken old father, and Gilbert and the daughter will keep the
inn. Gilbert is in the green-house, preparing the coloured lamps--let us
go and speak to him this minute, and settle it all.

_Sir W._ Speak to him of his loves? Oh, my dear, you'd kill him on the
spot! He is so bashful, he'd blush to death.

_Clara._ Well, sir, do you go alone, and I will keep far, far aloof.

[_Exeunt at opposite sides._



SCENE III.


_Parlour of the Inn._

_CHRISTY and Miss GALLAGHER._

_Christy._ (_to Miss GALLAGHER, slapping her on her back_) Hould up your
head, child; there's money bid for you.

_Miss G._ Lord, father, what a thump on the back to salute one with.
Well, sir, and if money is bid for me, no wonder: I suppose, it's
because I have money.

_Christy._ That's all the rason--you've hit it, Florry. It's money that
love always looks for now. So you may be proud to larn the news I have
for you, which will fix Mr. Gilbert, your bachelor, for life, I'll
engage--and make him speak out, you'll see, afore night-fall. We
have the new inn, dear!--I've got the promise here under her own
hand-writing.

_Miss G._ Indeed!--Well, I'm sure I shall be glad to get out of this
hole, which is not fit for a rat or a Christian to live in--and I'll
have my music and my piano in the back parlour, genteel.

_Christy._ Oh! Ferrinafad, are you there? It's your husband must go to
that expinse, my precious, if he chooses, _twingling_ and _tweedling_,
instead of the puddings and apple pies--that you'll settle betwix yees;
and in the honeymoon, no doubt, you've cunning enough to compass that,
and more.

_Miss G._ To be sure, sir, and before I come to the honeymoon, I promise
you; for I won't become part or parcel of any man that ever wore a head,
except he's music in his soul enough to allow me my piano in the back
parlour.

_Christy._ Asy! asy! Ferrinafad--don't be talking about the piano-forte,
till you are married. Don't be showing the halter too soon to the shy
horse--it's with the sieve of oats you'll catch him; and his head once
in the sieve, you have the halter on him clane. Pray, after all, tell
me, Florry, the truth--did Mr. Gilbert ever ax you?

_Miss G._ La, sir, what a coarse question. His eyes have said as much a
million of times.

_Christy._ That's good--but not in law, dear. For, see, you could not
_shue_ a man in the four courts for a breach of promise made only with
the eyes, jewel. It must be with the tongue afore witness, mind, or
under the hand, sale, or mark--look to that.

_Miss G._ But, dear sir, Mr. Gilbert is so tongue-tied with that English
bashfulness.

_Christy._ Then Irish impudence must cut the string of that tongue,
Florry. Lave that to me, unless you'd rather yourself.

_Miss G._ Lord, sir--what a rout about one man, when, if I please, I
might have a dozen lovers.

_Christy._ Be the same more or less. But one rich bachelor's worth a
dozen poor, that is, for the article of a husband.

_Miss G._ And I dare say the drum-major is rich enough, sir--for all
Scotchmen, they say, is fond of money and _a_conomie; and I'd rather
after all be the lady of a military man. (_Sings._)

 "I'll live no more at home,
  But I'll follow with the drum,
  And I'll be the captain's lady, oh!"

_Christy._ Florry! Florry! mind you would not fall between two stools,
and nobody to pity you.

_Enter BIDDY._

_Miss G._ Well, what is it?

_Biddy._ The bed. I was seeing was the room empty, that I might make it;
for it's only turned up it is, when I was called off to send in dinner.
So I believe I'd best make it now, for the room will be wanting for the
tea-drinking, and what not.

_Miss G._ Ay, make the bed do, sure it's asy, and no more about
it;--you've talked enough about it to make twinty beds, one harder nor
the other,--if talk would do. (_BIDDY goes to make the bed._) And I'm
sure there's not a girl in the parish does less in the day, for all the
talk you keep. Now I'll just tell all you didn't do, that you ought this
day, Biddy.

[_While Miss GALLAGHER is speaking to BIDDY, Mr. GALLAGHER opens a
press, pours out, and swallows a dram._

_Christy._ Oh, that would be too long telling, Florry, and that'll keep
cool. Lave her now, and you may take your scould out another time. I
want to spake to you. What's this I wanted to say? My memory's confusing
itself. Oh, this was it--I didn't till you how I got this promise of the
inn: I did it nately--I got it for a song.

_Miss G._ You're joking,--and I believe, sir, you're not over and above
sober. There's a terrible strong smell of the whiskey.

_Christy._ No, the whiskey's not strong, dear, at-all-at-all!--You
may keep smelling what way you plase, but I'm as sober as a judge,
still,--and, drunk or sober, always knows and knewed on which side
my bread was buttered:--got it for a song, I tell you--a bit of a
complimentary, adulatory scroll, that the young lady fancied--and she,
slap-dash, Lord love her, and keep her always so! writes at the bottom,
_granted the poet's petition_.

_Miss G._ And where on earth, then, did you get that song?

_Christy._ Where but in my brains should I get it? I could do that
much any way, I suppose, though it was not my luck to be edicated at
Ferrinafad.

[_Miss GALLAGHER looks back, and sees BIDDY behind her.--Miss GALLAGHER
gives her a box on the ear._

_Miss G._ Manners! that's to teach ye.

_Biddy._ Manners!--Where would I larn them--when I was only waiting the
right time to ax you what I'd do for a clane pillow-case?

_Miss G._ Why, turn that you have inside out, and no more about it.

_Christy._ And turn yourself out of this, if you plase. (_He turns
BIDDY out by the shoulders._) Let me hear you singing _Baltiorum_ in the
kitchen, for security that you're not hearing my sacrets. There, she's
singing it now, and we're snug;--tell me when she stops, and I'll stop
myself.

_Miss G._ Then there's the girl has ceased singing. There's somebody's
come in, into the kitchen; may be it's the drum-major. I'll go and see.

[_Exit Miss GALLAGHER._

_CHRISTY, solus._

There she's off now! And I must after her, else she'll spoil her market,
and my own. But look ye, now--if I shouldn't find her agreeable to marry
this Mr. Gilbert, the man I've laid out for her, why here's a good stick
that will bring her to rason in the last resort; for there's no other
way of rasoning with Ferrinafad.

[_Exit CHRISTY._



SCENE IV.


_The Garden of the Widow LARKEN'S Cottage._

_OWEN and MABEL._

_Owen._ How does my mother bear the disappointment, Mabel about the inn?

_Mabel._ Then to outward appearance she did not take it so much to heart
as I expected she would. But I'm sure she frets inwardly--because she
had been in such hopes, and in such spirits, and so proud to think how
well her children would all be settled.

_Owen._ Oh, how sorry I am I told her in that hurry the good news I
heard, and all to disappoint her afterwards, and break her heart with
it!

_Mabel._ No, she has too good a heart to break for the likes. She'll
hold up again after the first disappointment--she'll struggle on for our
sakes, Owen.

_Owen._ She will: but Mabel dearest, what do you think of Gilbert?

_Mabel._ (_turning away_) I strive not to think of him at all.

_Owen._ But sure I was not wrong there--he told me as much as that he
loved you.

_Mabel._ Then he never told me that much.

_Owen._ No! What, not when he walked with you to the well?

_Mabel._ No. What made you think he did?

_Owen._ Why, the words he said about you when he met me, was--where's
your sister Mabel? Gone to the well, Gilbert, says I. And do you think
a man that has a question to ask her might make bold to step after her?
says he. Such a man as you--why not? says I. Then he stood still, and
twirled a rose he held in his hand, and he said nothing, and I no more,
till he stooped down, and from the grass where we stood pulled a sprig
of clover. Is not this what _you_ call shamrock? says he. It is, says I.
Then he puts the shamrock along with the rose--How would _that_ do? says
he.

_Mabel._ Did he say that, Owen?

_Owen._ Yes, or how would they look together? or, would they do
together? or some words that way; I can't be particular to the word--you
know, he speaks different from us; but that surely was the sense; and I
minded too, he blushed up to the roots, and I pitied him, and answered--

_Mabel._ Oh, what did you answer?

_Owen._ I answered and said, I thought they'd do very well together;
and that it was good when the Irish shamrock and the English rose was
united.

_Mabel._ (_hiding her face with her hands_) Oh, Owen, that was too
plain.

_Owen._ Plain! Not at all--it was not. It's only your tenderness makes
you feel it too plain--for, listen to me, Mabel. (_Taking her hand from
her face._) Sure, if it had any meaning particular, it's as strong for
Miss Gallagher as for any body else.

_Mabel._ That's true:--and may be it was that way he took it,--and may
be it was her he was thinking of--

_Owen._ When he asked me for you? But I'll not mislead you--I'll
say nothing; for it was a shame he did not speak out, after all the
encouragement he got from me.

_Mabel._ Then did he get encouragement from you?

_Owen._ That is--(_smiling_)--taking it the other way, he might
understand it so, if he had any conscience. Come now, Mabel, when
he went to the well, what did he say to you? for I am sure he said
something.

_Mabel._ Then he said nothing--but just put the rose and shamrock into
my hand.

_Owen._ Oh! did he?--And what did you say?

_Mabel._ I said nothing.--What could I say?

_Omen._ I wish I'd been with you, Mabel.

_Mabel._ I'm glad you were not, Owen.

_Owen._ Well, what did he say next?

_Mabel._ I tell you he said nothing, but cleared his throat and hemmed,
as he does often.

_Owen._ What, all the way to the well and back, nothing but hem, and
clear his throat?

_Mabel._ Nothing in life.

_Owen._ Why, then, the man's a fool or a rogue.

_Mabel._ Oh, don't say that, any way. But there's my mother coming in
from the field. How weak she walks! I must go in to bear her company
spinning.

_Owen._ And I'll be in by the time I've settled all here.

[_Exit MABEL._

_OWEN, solus._

Oh! I know how keenly Mabel feels all, tho' she speaks so mild. Then I'm
cut to the heart by this behaviour of Gilbert's:--sure he could not
be so cruel to be jesting with her!--he's an Englishman, and may be he
thinks no harm to jilt an Irishwoman. But I'll show him--but then if he
never asked her the question, how can we say any thing?--Oh! the thing
is, he's a snug man, and money's at the bottom of all,--and since
Christy's to have the new inn, and Miss Gallagher has the money!--Well,
it's all over, and I don't know what will become of me.

_Enter Mr. ANDREW HOPE._

_Mr. H._ My gude lad, may your name be Larken?

_Owen._ It is, sir--Owen Larken, at your service--the son of the widow
Larken.

_Mrs. H._ Then I have to thank your family for their goodness to my
puir brother, years ago. And for yourself, your friend, Mr. Christy
Gallagher, has been telling me you can play the bugle?

_Owen._ I can, sir.

_Mr. H._ And we want a bugle, and the _pay's_ fifteen guineas; and I'd
sooner give it to you than three others that has applied, if you'll
list.

_Owen._ Fifteen guineas! Oh! if I could send that money home to my
mother! but I must ask her consint. Sir, she lives convanient, just in
this cabin here--would you be pleased to step in with me, and I'll ask
her consint.

_Mr. H._ That's right,--lead on, my douce lad--you ken the way.

[_Exeunt._



SCENE V.


_Kitchen of the Widow LAKKEN'S Cottage._

_A Door is seen open, into an inner Room._

_MABEL, alone, (Sitting near the door of the inner room, spinning and
singing_[1].)

[Footnote 1: This song is set to music by Mr. Webbe.]

    Sleep, mother, sleep! in slumber blest,
    It joys my heart to see thee rest.
  Unfelt in sleep thy load of sorrow;
  Breathe free and thoughtless of to-morrow;
  And long, and light, thy slumbers last,
  In happy dreams forget the past.
    Sleep, mother, sleep! thy slumber's blest;
    It joys my heart to see thee rest.

  Many's the night she wak'd for me,
  To nurse my helpless infancy:
  While cradled on her patient arm,
  She hush'd me with a mother's charm.
    Sleep, mother, sleep! thy slumber's blest;
    It joys my heart to see thee rest.

  And be it mine to soothe thy age,
  With tender care thy grief assuage,
  This hope is left to poorest poor,
  And richest child can do no more.
    Sleep, mother, sleep! thy slumber's blest;
    It joys my heart to see thee rest.

_While MABEL is singing the second stanza, OWEN and ANDREW HOPE enter.
Mr. HOPE stops short, and listens: he makes a sign to OWEN to stand
still, and not to interrupt MABEL--while OWEN approaches her on tiptoe._

_Mr. H._ (_aside_) She taks my fancy back to dear Scotland, to my ain
hame, and my ain mither, and my ain Kate.

_Owen._ So Mabel! I thought you never sung for strangers?

[_MABEL turns and sees Mr. HOPE--She rises and curtsies._

_Mr. H._ (_advancing softly_) I fear to disturb the mother, whose
slumbers are so blest, and I'd fain hear that lullaby again. If the
voice stop, the mother may miss it, and wake.

_Mabel._ (_looking into the room in which her mother sleeps, then
closing the door gently_) No, sir,--she'll not miss my voice now, I
thank you--she is quite sound asleep.

_Owen._ This is Mr. Andrew Hope, Mabel--you might remember one of his
name, a Serjeant Hope.

_Mabel._ Ah! I mind--he that was sick with us, some time back.

_Mr. H._ Ay, my brother that's dead, and that your gude mither was so
tender of, when sick, charged me to thank you all, and so from my soul I
do.

_Mabel._ 'Twas little my poor mother could do, nor any of us for him,
even then, though we could do more then than we could now, and I'm glad
he chanced to be with us in our better days.

_Mr. H._ And I'm sorry you ever fell upon worse days, for you deserve
the best; and will have such again, I trust. All I can say is this--that
gif your brother here gangs with me, he shall find a brother's care
through life fra' me.

_Owen._ I wouldn't doubt you; and that you know, Mabel, would be a great
point, to have a friend secure in the regiment, if I thought of going.

_Mabel._ _If!_--Oh! what are you thinking of, Owen? What is it you're
talking of going? (_Turning towards the door of her mother's room
suddenly._) Take care, but she'd wake and hear you, and she'd never
sleep easy again.

_Owen._ And do you think so?

_Mabel._ Do I think so? Am not I sure of it? and you too, Owen, if you'd
take time to think and feel.

_Owen._ Why there's no doubt but it's hard, when the mother has reared
the son, for him to quit her as soon as he can go alone; but it is what
I was thinking: it is only the militia, you know, and I'd not be going
out of the three kingdoms ever at all; and I could be sending money home
to my mother, like Johnny Reel did to his.

_Mabel._ Money is it? Then there's no money you could send her--not the
full of Lough Erne itself, in golden guineas, could make her amends for
the loss of yourself, Owen, and you know that.

_Mr. H._ And I am not the man that would entice you to list, or gang
with me, in contradiction to your duty at home, or your interest abroad:
so (_turning to_ MABEL) do not look on me as the tempter to evil, nor
with distrust, as you do, kind sister as you are, and like my own Kate;
but hear me coolly, and without prejudice, for it is his gude I wish.

_Mabel._ I am listening then, and I ask your pardon if I looked a doubt.

_Mr. H._ The gude mother must wish, above all things here below, the
weal and _advancement_ and the honour of her bairns; and she would
not let the son be tied to her apron-strings, for any use or profit to
herself, but ever wish him to do the best in life for his sel'. Is not
this truth, gude friends--plain truth?

_Mabel._ It is then--I own that: truth and sense too.

_Owen._ Now see there, Mabel.

_Mr. H._ And better for him to do something abroad than digging at home;
and in the army he might get on,--and here's the bugle-boy's pay.

_Mabel._ Is it a bugle-boy you are thinking of making him?

_Mr. H._ That's the only thing I could make him. I wish I could offer
better.

_Mabel._ Then, I thank you, sir, and I wouldn't doubt ye--and it would
be very well for a common boy that could only dig; but my brother's no
common boy, sir.

_Owen._ Oh, Mabel!

_Mabel._ Hush, Owen! for it's the truth I'm telling, and if to your face
I can't help it. You may hide the face, but I won't hide the truth.

_Mr. H._ Then speak on, my warm-hearted lassy, speak on.

_Mabel._ Then, sir, he got an edication while ever my poor father lived,
and no better scholar, they said, for the teaching he got:--but all was
given over when the father died, and the troubles came, and Owen, as he
ought, give himself up intirely for my mother, to help her, a widow. But
it's not digging and slaving he is to be always:--it's with the head,
as my father used to say, he'll make more than the hands; and we hope
to get a clerk's place for him sometime, or there will be a schoolmaster
wanting in this town, and that will be what he would be fit for; and
not--but it's not civil, before you, a soldier, sir, to say the rest.

_Mr. H._ Fear not, you will not give offence.

_Mabel._ And not to be spending his breath blowing through a horn all
his days, for the sake of wearing a fine red coat. I beg your pardon
again, sir, if I say too much--but it's to save my brother and my
mother.

_Mr. H._ I like you the better for all you've said for both.

_Owen._ And I'm off entirely:--I'll not list, I thank you, sir.

[_MABEL clasps her hands joyfully, then embraces her brother._

_Mr. H._ And I'll not ask you to list--and I would not have asked it at
all, but that a friend of yours told me it would be the greatest service
I could do you, and that it was the thing of all others you wished.

_Owen._ That friend was Christy Gallagher: but he was mistaken--that's
all.

_Mabel._ I hope that's all. But I've no dependance on him for a friend,
nor has my mother.

_Owen._ Why, he was saying to me, and I could not say against it, that
he had a right to propose for the inn if he could, though Gilbert and we
wanted to get it.

_Mabel._ Then I wonder why Christy should be preferred rather than my
mother.

_Owen._ Then that's a wonder--and I can't understand how that was.

_Mr. H._ I have one more thing to say, or to do, which I should like
better, if you'll give me leave. If there's a difficulty aboot the rent
of this new inn that you are talking of, I have a little spare money,
and you're welcome to it:--I consider it as a debt of my brother's,
which I am bound to pay; so no obligation in life--tell me how much will
do.

[_Takes out his purse._

_Owen_ and _Mabel._ You are very kind--you are very good.

_Mr. H._ No, I am not--I am only just. Say only how much will do.

_Owen._ Alas! money won't do now, sir. It's all settled, and Christy
says he has a promise of it in writing from the lady.

_Mr. H._ May be this Christy might sell his interest, and we will see--I
will not say till I find I can do. Fare ye weel till we meet, as I hope
we shall, at the dance that's to be at the castle. The band is to be
there, and I with them, and I shall hope for this lassy's hand in the
dance.

_Mabel._ (_aside_) And Gilbert that never asked me! (_Aloud_) I thank
you kindly, sir, I sha'n't go to the dance at-all-at-all, I believe--my
mother had better take her rest, and I must stay with her--a good night
to you kindly.

[_Exit MABEL into her mother's room._

_Mr. H._ This sister of yours would leave me no heart to carry back to
Scotland, I fear, but that I'm a married man already, and have my own
luve--a Kate of my own, that's as fair as she, and as gude, and that's
saying much.

_Owen._ (_aside_) Much more than Florinda Gallagher will like to hear.

_Mr. H._ I shall thank you if you will teach me, for my Kate, the words
of that song your sister was singing when we came in.

_Owen._ I believe it's to flatter me you say this, for that song is my
writing.

_Mr. H._ Yours?

_Owen._ Mine, such as it is.

_Mr. H._ Sic a ane as you are then, I'm glad you are not to be a
bugle-boy: your sister is right.

_Owen._ I'll teach you the words as we go along.

_Mr. H._ Do so;--but mind now this song-writing do not lead you to
idleness. We must see to turn your edication to good account. (_Aside_)
Oh, I will never rest till I pay my brother's debt, some way or other,
to this gude family.

[_Exeunt._



ACT III.



SCENE I.


_CHRISTY alone._

So this Scotchman could not list Owen. _Couldn't_ nor _wouldn't_, that's
what he says; and the Scotchman looked very hard at me as he spoke:
moreover, I seen Mr. Gilbert and him with their two heads close
together, and that's a wonder, for I know Gilbert's not nat'rally fond
of any sort of Scotchman. There's something brewing:--I must have my
wits about me, and see and keep sober this night, if I can, any way.
From the first I suspicted Mr. Gilbert had his heart on Mabel. (BIDDY
DOYLE _puts her head in_) Biddy Doyle! what the mischief does that head
of yours do there?

_Biddy._ Nothing in life, sir: only just to see who was in it, along
with yourself, because I thought I hard talking enough for two.

_Christy._ You, girl, have curiosity enough for two, and two dozen, and
too much! So plase take your head and yourself out of that, and don't
be overharing my private thoughts; for that was all the talking ye hard,
and _my_ thoughts can't abide listeners.

_Biddy._ I'm no listener--I ax your pardon, sir: I scorn to listen to
your thoughts, or your words even.

[_Exit BIDDY._

_Christy._ That girl has set me topsy-turvy. Where was I?--Oh! this was
it. Suppose even, I say, suppose this Gilbert's fancy should stick to
Mabel, I might manage him, nevertheless. I've a great advantage and
prerogative over this Englishman, in his having never been dipped in the
Shannon. He is so _under cow_ with bashfulness now, that I don't doubt
but what in one of his confusions I could asy bring him to say Yes in
the wrong place; and sooner than come to a perplexing refusal of a
young lady, he might, I'll engage, be brought about to marry the girl he
didn't like, in lieu of the girl he did. We shall see--but hark! I hear
Ferrinafad's voice, singing, and I must join, and see how the thing's
going on, or going off.

[_Exit._



SCENE II.


_Miss GALLAGHER and GILBERT at a Tea-Table._

_Gilb._ (_aside_) Now would I give five golden guineas this minute that
her father, or any mortal man, woman, or child in the varsal world,
would come in and say something; for 'tis so awk'ard for I to be sitting
here, and I nothing to say to she.

_Miss G._ (_aside_) When will the man pay me the compliment to speak,
I wonder? Wouldn't any body think he'd no tongue in that mouth of his,
screwed up, and blushing from ear to ear?

_Enter CHRISTY._

_Christy._ Hoo! hoo! hoo!--How's this--both of yees mute as fishes the
moment I come in? Why I hard you just now, when my back was turned,
singing like turtle-doves--didn't I, Florry?

_Miss G._ Indeed, sir, as to turtle-doves, I'm not sinsible; but Mr.
Gilbert requisted of me to be favouring him with a song, which I was
complying with, though I'm not used to be singing without my piano.

_Christy._ (_aside_) Sorrow take your piano! you're not come there yet.

_Miss G._ I wonder the drum-major isn't come yet. Does he expect tea
can be keeping hot for him to the end of time? He'll have nothing but
slop-dash, though he's a very genteel man. I'm partial to the military
school, I own, and a High lander too is always my white-headed boy.

_Gilb._ (_astonished_) Her white-headed boy!--Now, if I was to be hanged
for it, I don't know what that means.

_Miss G._ Now where can you have lived, Mr. Gilbert, not to know _that_?

_Christy._ (_aside_) By the mass, he's such a matter-o'-fact-man, I
can't get round him with all my wit.

_Miss G._ Here's the drum-major! Scarlet's asy seen at a distance,
that's one comfort!

_Enter Mr. HOPE._

_Mr. H._ I'm late, Miss Florinda, I fear, for the tea-table; but I had a
wee-wee bit of business to do for a young friend, that kept me.

_Miss G._ No matter, major, my tapot defies you. Take a cup a tea. Are
you fond of music, major?

_Mr. H._ Very fond of music, ma'am--do you sing or play?

_Miss G._ I do play--I plead guilty to that I own. But in this hole that
we are in, there's no room fitting for my piano. However, in the new inn
which we have got now, I'll fix my piano iligant in the back-parlour.

_Mr. H._ In the mean time, Miss Florinda, will you favour us with a
song?

_Christy._ And I'll be making the punch, for I'm no songstress. Biddy!
Biddy Doyle! hot water in a jerry.

_Miss G._ Indeed I'm not used to sing without my piano; but, to oblige
the major, I'll sing by note.

_Miss GALLAGHER sings._

  Softly breathing through the heart,
    When lovers meet no more to part;
  That purity of soul be mine,
    Which speaks in music's sound divine.

 'Midst trees and streams of constant love,
    That's whispered by the turtle-dove;
  Sweet cooing cushat all my pray'r,
    Is love in elegance to share.

_Mr. H._ That's what I call fine, now! Very fine that.

[_GILBERT nods._

_Miss G._ (_aside_) Look at that Englishman, now, that hasn't a word
of compliment to throw to a dog, but only a nod. (_Aloud_) 'Tis the
military that has always the souls for music, and for the ladies--and I
think, gentlemen, I may step for'ard, and say I'm entitled to call upon
you now:--Mr. Gilbert, if you've ever a love-song in your composition.

_Gilb._ Love-song I can't say, ma'am; but such as I have--I'm no great
hand at composition--but I have one song--they call it, _My choice of a
wife._

_Miss G._ Pray let's have it, sir.

_Christy._ Now for it, by Jabus.

_Mr. H._ Give it us, Mr. Gilbert.

_Enter BIDDY with hot water, and exit._

_GILBERT sings._

  There's none but a fool will wed on a sudden,
  Or take a fine miss that can't make a pudding;
  If he get such a wife, what would a man gain, O!
  But a few ballad-tunes on a wretched piano?

  Some ladies than peacocks are twenty times prouder,
  Some ladies than thunder are twenty times louder;
  But I'll have a wife that's obliging and civil--
  For me, your fine ladies may go to the devil!

_Miss G._ (_rising_) Sir, I comprehend your song, coarse as it is, and
its moral to boot, and I humbly thank ye, sir. (_She curtsies low._) And
if I live a hundred year, and ninety-nine to the back of that, sir, I
will remember it to you, sir.

_Christy._ (_leaving the punch which he had been making, comes forward
with a lemon in his hand_) Wheugh! wheugh! wheugh! Ferrinafad!

_Gilb._ (_aside_) Ferrinafad!--the man's mad!

_Miss G._ Father, go your ways back to your punch. Here stands the only
_raal_ gentleman in company (_pointing to the drum-major_), if I'm to
make the election.

_Christy._ Major, you can't but drink her health for that compliment.
[_He presents a glass of punch to Mr. HOPE._

_Mr. H._ Miss Gallagher's health, and a gude husband to her, and _soon_.

_Miss G._ And soon!--No hurry for them that has choice.

_Christy._ That has money, you mane, jewel. Mr. Gilbert, you did not
give us your toast.

_Gilb._ Your good health, ma'am--your good health, sir,--Mr. Hope, your
good health, and your fireside in Scotland, and in pa'tic'lar your good
wife.

_Miss G._ (_starting_) Your wife, sir! Why, sir, is't possible you're a
married man, after all?

_Mr. H._ Very possible, ma'am--thank Heaven and my gude Kate.

_Miss G._ _His gude Kate_!--Well, I hate the Scotch accent of all
languages under the sun.

_Christy._ In a married man, I suppose you _mane_, Florry?

_Miss G._ This is the way with officers continually--passing themselves
for bachelors.

_Christy._ Then, Florry, we'd best recommend it to the drum-major the
next town he'd go into, to put up an advertisement in capitals on his
cap, warning all women whom it may consarn, that he is a married man.

_Miss G._ 'Tis no consarn of mine, I'll assure you, sir, at any rate;
for I should scorn to think of a Scotchman any way. And what's a
drum-major, after all? [_Exit, in a passion._

_Christy._ Bo boo! bo boo! bo boo! there's a tantarara now; but never
mind her, she takes them tantarums by turns. Now depend upon it, Mr.
Gilbert, it's love that's at the bottom of it all, clane and clear.

_Gilb._ It's very like, sir--I can't say.

_Christy._ Oh, but I _can_ say--I know her, egg and bird. The thing is,
she's mad with you, and that has set her all through other.--But we'll
finish our tumbler of punch. [_Draws forwards the table, and sets
chairs._

_Gilb._ (_aside_) Egg and bird!--mad! All through other!--Confound me if
I understand one word the man is saying; but I will make him understand
me, if he can understand plain English.

_Mr. H._ (_aside_) I'll stand by and see fair play. I have my own
thought.

_Gilb._ Now, Mr. ----, to be plain with you at once--here's fifty
guineas in gold, and if you will take them, and give me up the promise
you have got of the new inn, you shall be welcome. That's all I have
to say, if I was to talk till Christmas--and fewest words is best in
matters of business.

_Christy._ Fifty guineas in gold!--Don't part with a guinea of them,
man, put 'em up again. You shall have the new inn without a word
more, and into the bargain my good-will and my daughter--and you're a
jantleman, and can't say _no_ to that, any way.

_Gilb._ Yes, but I can though: since you drive me to the wall, I must
say no, and I do say no. And, dang it, I would have been hanged almost
as soon as say so much to a father. I beg your pardon, sir, but my heart
is given to another. Good evening to you.

_Christy._ (_holding him as he attempts to go_) Take it coolly, and
listen to me, and tell me--was you ever married before, Mr. Gilbert?

_Gilb._ Never.

_Christy._ Then I was--and I can tell you that I found to my cost,
love was all in all with me before I was married, and after I had been
married a twel'-month, money was all in all with me; for I had the
wife, and I had not the money, and without the money, the wife must have
starved.

_Gilb._ But I can work, sir, and will, head, hands, and heart, for the
woman I love.

_Christy._ Asy said--hard done. Mabel Larken is a very pretty girl. But
wait till I tell you what Kit Monaghan said to me yesterday. I'm
going to be married, sir, says he to me. Ay, so you mintioned to me a
fortnight ago, Kit, says I--to Rose Dermod, isn't it? says I. Not at
all, sir, says he--it is to Peggy McGrath, this time. And what quarrel
had you to Rose Dermod? says I. None in life, sir, says he; but Peggy
McGrath had two cows, and Rose Dermod had but the one, and in my mind
there is not the differ of a cow betwix' one woman and another. Do you
understand me now, Mr. Gilbert?

_Gilb._ Sir, we shall never understand one another--pray let me go,
before I get into a passion.

[_Breaks from CHRISTY, and exit._

_Christy._ Hollo! Hollo! Mr. Gilbert! (_GILBERT returns._) One word more
about the new inn. I've done about Florry; and, upon my conscience, I
believe you're right enough--only that I'm her father, and in duty bound
to push her as well as I can.

_Gilb._ Well, sir, about the inn: be at a word with me; for I'm not in a
humour to be trifled with.

_Mr. H._ (_aside_) Fire beneath snow! who'd ha' thought it?

_Christy._ Then, if it was sixty guineas instead of fifty, I'd take it,
and you should have my bargain of the inn.

_Mr. H._ (_aside_) I'll not say my word until I see what the bottom of
the men are.

_Gilb._ (_aside_) Why, to make up sixty, I must sell my watch even; but
I'll do it--any thing to please Mabel. (_Aloud_) Well, sixty guineas, if
you won't give it for less.

_Christy._ Done! (_Eagerly._)

_Mr. H._ Stay, stay, Mr. Gilbert! Have a care, Mr. Gallagher!--the lady
might not be well pleased at your handing over her written promise,
Mr. Gallagher--wait a wee bit. Don't conclude this bargain till you are
before the lady at the castle.

_Gilb._ So best--no doubt.

_Christy._ All one to me--so I pocket the sixty.

_Mr. H._ (_aside to GILBERT_) Come off.

_Gilb._ We shall meet then at the castle to-night: till then, a good day
to you, Mr. Gallagher.

[_Exeunt GILBERT and Mr. HOPE._

_Christy._ Good night to ye kindly, gentlemen. There's a fool to love
for you now! If I'd ax'd a hundred, I'd ha' got it. But still there's
only one thing. Ferrinafad will go mad when she learns I have sold the
new inn, and she to live on in this hole, and no place for the piano. I
hope Biddy did not hear a sentence of it. (_Calls_) Biddy! Biddy Doyle!
Biddy, can't ye?

_Enter Biddy._

_Biddy._ What is it?

_Christy._ Did you hear any thing? Oh, I see ye did by your eyes. Now,
hark'ee, my good girl: don't mention a sentence to Ferrinafad of my
settling the new inn, till the bargain's complate, and money in both
pockets--you hear.

_Biddy._ I do, sir. But I did not hear afore.

_Christy._ Becaase, she, though she's my daughter, she's crass--I'll
empty my mind to you, Biddy.

_Biddy._ (_aside_) He has taken enough to like to be talking to poor
Biddy.

_Christy._ Afore Florry was set up on her high horse by that little
independency her doting grandmother left her, and until she got her
head turned with that Ferrinafad edication, this Florry was a good girl
enough. But now what is she?--Given over to vanities of all sorts, and
no comfort in life to me, or use at all--not like a daughter at all, nor
mistress of the house neither, nor likely to be well married neither,
or a credit to me that way! And saucy to me on account of that money of
hers I liquidated unknown'st.

_Biddy._ True for ye, sir.

_Christy._ Then it all comes from the little finger getting to be the
master of me; for I'm confident that when sober, I was not born to be
a rogue nat'rally. Was not I honest Christy once? (_ready to cry._) Oh,
I'm a great penitent! But there's no help for it now.

_Biddy._ True for you, sir.

_Christy._ I'm an unfortunate cratur, and all the neighbours know
it.--So, Biddy dear, I've nothing for it but to take another glass.

_Biddy._ Oh! no, sir, not when you'll be going up to the castle to the
lady--you'll be in no condition.

_Christy._ Tut, girl--'twill give me heart. Let's be merry any way.
[_Exit, singing,_

 "They say it was care killed the cat,
    That starved her, and caused her to die;
  But I'll be much wiser than that,
    For the devil a care will care I."



SCENE III.


_Widow LARKEN'S Cottage._

_Widow LARKEN, MABEL, and GILBERT._

_Gilb._ And could you doubt me, Mabel, after I told you I loved you?

_Mabel._ Never would nor could have doubted, had you once told me as
much, Mr. Gilbert.

_Widow._ There was the thing, Mr. Gilbert--you know it was you that was
to speak, if you thought of her.

_Gilb._ Do not you remember the rose and the shamrock?

_Widow._ Oh! she does well enough; and that's what her heart was living
upon, till I killed the hope.

_Gilb._ You!--killed the hope!--I thought you were my friend.

_Widow._ And so I am, and was--but when you did not speak.

_Gilb._ If I had not loved her so well, I might have been able, perhaps,
to have said more.

_Widow._ Then that's enough. Mabel mavourneen, wear the rose he give you
now--I'll let you--and see it's fresh enough. She put it in water--oh!
she had hope still!

_Mabel._ And was not I right to trust him, mother?

_Gilb._ Mabel, if I don't do my best to make you happy all my days, I
deserve to be--that's all! But I'm going to tell you about the new inn:
that's what I have been about ever since, and I'm to have it for sixty
guineas.

_Enter OWEN, rubbing his hands._

_Owen._ You see, mother, I was right about Gilbert and Mabel. But Mr.
Hope and the band is gone up to the castle. Come, come!--time to be
off!--no delay!--Gilbert! Mabel, off with you! (_He pushes them off._)
And glad enough ye are to go together. Mother dear, here's your bonnet
and the cloak,--here round ye throw--that's it--take my arm. (_Widow
stumbles as he pulls her on._) Oh, I'm putting you past your speed,
mother.

_Widow._ No, no.--No fear in life for the mother that has the support of
such a son.



SCENE IV.


_A large Apartment in Bannow Castle, ornamented with the Rose, Thistle,
and Shamrock.--The hall opens into a lawn, where the country-people are
seen dancing._

_Enter CLARA, Sir WILLIAM HAMDEN, and a train of dancers._

_Clara._ Now, sir, as we have here English, Scotch, and Irish dancers,
we can have the English country-dance, the Scotch reel, and the Irish
jig.

_Sir W._ Then to begin with the Irish jig, which I have never seen.

_Clara._ You shall see it in perfection.

[_An Irish jig is danced, a Scotch reel follows, and an English
country-dance. When CLARA has danced down the country-dance, she goes
with her partner to Sir WILLIAM HAMDEN._

_Clara._ We are going out to look at the dancers on the lawn.

_Sir W._ Take me with you, for I wish to see those merry dancers--I hear
them laughing. I love to hear the country-people laugh: theirs is always
_the heart's laugh._

[_Exeunt Sir WILLIAM and CLARA._

[_The dancers recommence, and after dancing for a few minutes, they go
off just as Sir WILLIAM and CLARA return, entering from the hall door._

_Clara._ My dear uncle, thank you for going out among these poor people,
and for speaking so kindly to them. One would think that you had lived
in Ireland all your life, you know so well how to go _straight_ to Irish
heads and Irish hearts by kindness, and by what they love almost as
well, _humour,_ and good-humour. Thank you again and again.

_Sir W._ My dear niece, you need not thank me; for if you had nothing
to do with these people--if you had never been born--I should have loved
the Irish for their own sakes. How easy it is to please them! How easy
to make them happy; and how grateful they are, even for a few words of
kindness.

_Clara._ Yes. This I may say without partiality--whatever other faults
my countrymen have, they certainly are a grateful people. My father,
who knew them well, taught me from my childhood, to trust to Irish
gratitude.

_Sir W._ (_changing his tone_) But, on the other hand, it is my duty
to watch over your Irish generosity, Clara. Have you made any more
promises, my dear, since morning?

_Clara._ Oh! no, sir; and I have heartily repented of that which I made
this morning: for I find that this man to whom I have promised the new
inn is a sad drunken, good-for-nothing person; and as for his daughter,
whom I have never yet seen--

_Sir W._ (_looking towards the entrance from the lawn_)

 "But who is this? What thing of sea or land?
  Female of sex it seems--
  That so bedeck'd, ornate and gay,
  Comes this way sailing."

_Enter Miss GALLAGHER._

_Miss G._ Sir, I beg pardon. But I was told Miss O'Hara would wish to
speak with Christy Gallagher, and I'm his daughter--he not being very
well to-night. He will be up with miss in the morning--but is confined
to his bed with a pain about his heart, he took, just when I was coming
away.

[_CHRISTY'S voice heard, singing, to the tune of "St. Patrick's day in
the morning."_

 "Full bumpers of whiskey,
  Will make us all frisky,
  On Patrick's day in the morning."

_Miss G._ (_aside_) Oh! King of glory, if he is not come up after all!

_Clara._ "What noise is that, unlike the former sound?"

_Sir W._ Only some man, singing in honour of St. Patrick, I suppose.

_Enter_ CHRISTY GALLAGHER, BIDDY _trying to hold him back._

_Christy._ Tut! let me in: I know the lady is here, and I must thank her
as becoming--

[_CLARA puts her hand before her face and retires as he advances._

_Miss G._ Oh! father, keep out--you're not in a condition.

_Sir W._ John! Thomas! carry this man off.

_Christy._ Ah, now, just let me remark to his honour--did he ever hear
this song in England? (_He struggles and sings, while they are carrying
him off,_)

 "O'Rourke's noble feast shall ne'er be forgot,
  By those who were there, or by those who were not."

But it was not O'Rourke's noble feast at all, it was O'Hara's noble
feast, to the best of my knowledge--I'll take my affidavit; and am not
I here, on the spot, ready and proud to fight any one that denies the
contrary? Let me alone, Florry, for I'm no babby to be taken out of the
room. Ready and proud, I say I am, to fight any tin men in the county,
or the kingdom itself, or the three kingdoms entirely, that would go for
to dare for to offer to articulate the contrary. So it's Miss O'Hara for
ever, huzza! a! a! a! a!

_Sir W._ Carry him off this instant. Begone!

[_The servants carry off CHRISTY GALLAGHER, while he sings, to the tune
of "One bottle more,"_

 "Oh, give me but whiskey, continted I'll sing,
  Hibernia for ever, and God save the king!"

[_Miss GALLAGHER directs and expedites her father's retreat._

_Clara._ Shame! shame! Is this the tenant I have chosen?

_Miss G._ Indeed, and indeed, then, Miss O'Hara, I often preach to him,
but there's no use in life preaching to him--as good preaching to the
winds! for, drunk or sober, he has an answer ready at all points. It is
not wit he wants, sir.

_Sir W._ And he is happy in having a daughter, who knows how to make
the best of his faults, I see. What an excellent landlord he will be for
this new inn!

_Miss G._ Oh, certainly, sir--only it's being St. Patrick's night, he
would be more inexcusable; and as to the new inn, plase Heaven! he shall
get no pace on earth till he takes an oath afore the priest against
spirits, good or bad, for a twil'month to come, before ever I trust a
foot of his in the new inn.

_Clara._ But, ma'am, from your own appearance, I should apprehend that
you would not be suited to the business yourself--I should suppose you
would think it beneath you to keep an inn.

_Miss G._ Why, ma'am--why, sir--you know when it is called an hotel,
it's another thing; and I'm sure I've a great regard for the family, and
there's nothing I wouldn't do to oblige Miss O'Hara.

_Clara._ Miss Gallagher, let me beg that if you wish to oblige me--

_Enter GILBERT._

_Sir W._ Well, Gilbert?

_Gilb._ Only, sir, if you and Miss O'Hara were at leisure, sir, one Mr.
Andrew Hope, the master of the band, would wish to be allowed to come in
to sing a sort of a welcome home they have set to music, sir, for Miss
O'Hara.

_Clara._ I do believe this is the very song which that drunken man gave
me this morning, and for which I gave him the promise of the inn. I
shall be ashamed to hear the song.

_Sir W._ Let me hear it, at all events. Desire Mr. Andrew Hope, and his
merry-men-all, to walk in. [_Exit GILBERT._

_Enter Mr. HOPE and band.--Some of the country-people peep in, as if
wishing to enter._

_Sir W._ Come in, my good friends.

[_Enter, among others, the Widow LARKEN, and MABEL, and OWEN.--BIDDY
follows timidly.--Miss GALLAGHER takes a conspicuous place.--Sir WILLIAM
and CLARA continue speaking._

_Sir W._ Did Gilbert introduce his bride elect to you, Clara?

_Clara._ Yes, Mabel Larken, that girl with the sweet modest
countenance--and her mother, that respectable-looking woman; and her
brother, I see, is here, that boy with the quick, intelligent eyes. I
know all the family--know them all to be good; and these were the people
I might have served! Oh, fool! fool!

_Sir W._ Well, well, well, 'tis over now, my dear Clara--you will be
wiser another time. Come, Mr. Hope, give us a little flattery, to put us
in good-humour with ourselves.

[_The band prelude; but just as they begin, Sir WILLIAM sees CHRISTY,
who is coming in softly, holding back the skirts of his coat.--Sir
WILLIAM in a loud voice exclaims,_

Turn out that man! How dare you return to interrupt us, sir? Turn out
that man!

_Christy._ (_falling on his knees_) Oh! plase your honour, I beg your
pardon for one minute: only just give me lave to _insense_ your honour's
honour. I'm not the same man at all.

_Sir W._ Stand up, stand up--an Englishman cannot bear to see a man
kneel to him. Stand up, pray, if you can.

_Christy._ Then I can, plase your honour (_rises_), since I got a shock.

_Clara._ What shock? What do you mean?

_Christy._ Oh, nothing in life, miss, that need consarn you--only a fall
I got from my horse, which the child they set to lead me would put me up
upon, and it come down and kilt me; for it wasn't a proper horse for
an unfortunate man like me, that was overtaken, as I was then; and it's
well but I got a kick of the baast.

_Sir W._ Do you say you were kicked by a horse?

_Christy._ Not at all, plase your honour--I say _it was well but_ I got
a kick of the baast. But it's all for the best now; for see, I'm now as
sober as a jidge, and _quite_ as any lamb; and if I'd get lave only just
to keep in this here corner, I would be no let or hinderance to any.
Oh! dear miss! spake for me! I'm an ould man, miss, that your father's
honour was partial to always, and called me _honest_ Christy, which I
was once, and till his death too.

_Sir W._ What a strange mixture is this man!

_Clara._ Pray let him stay, uncle--he's sober now.

_Sir W._ Say not one word more, then; stand still there in your corner.

_Christy._ And not a word for my life--not breathe, even--to plase you!
becaase I've a little business to mintion to the lady. Sixty guineas to
resave from Mr. Gilbert, yonder. Long life to you, miss! But I'll say no
more till this Scotchman has done with his fiddle and his musics.

_Sir W._ I thought, sir, you were not to have spoken another syllable.

[_CHRISTY puts his finger on his lips, and bows to Sir WILLIAM and to
CLARA._

_Sir W._ Now, Mr. Hope.

_Mr. HOPE sings, and the Band join in chorus,_

  Though Bannow's heiress, fair and young,
  Hears polish'd praise from ev'ry tongue;
  Yet good and kind, she'll not disdain
  The tribute of the lowly swain.
    The heart's warm welcome, Clara, meets thee;
    Thy native land, dear lady, greets thee.

  That open brow, that courteous grace,
  Bespeaks thee of thy generous race;
  Thy father's soul is in thy smile--
  Thrice blest his name in Erin's isle.
    The heart's warm welcome, Clara, meets thee;
    Thy native land, dear lady, greets thee.

  The bright star shining on the night,
  Betokening good, spreads quick delight;
  But quicker far, more glad surprise,
  Wakes the kind radiance of her eyes.
    The heart's warm welcome, Clara, meets thee;
    Thy native land, dear lady, greets thee[1].

[Footnote 1: Set to music by Mr. Webbe.]

_Christy._ Then I'm not ashamed, any way, of that song of mine.

_Sir W._ Of yours?--Is it possible that it is yours?

_Clara._ It is indeed. These are the very lines he gave me this morning.

_Christy._ And I humbly thank you, madam or miss, for having got them
set to the musics.

_Clara._ I had nothing to do with that. We must thank Mr. Hope for this
agreeable surprise.

_Christy._ Why, then, I thank you, Mr. Drum.

_Mr. H._ You owe me no thanks, sir. I will take none from you.

_Christy._ No--for I didn't remember giving you the copy. I suppose
Florry did.

_Miss G._ Not I, sir.

_Christy._ Or the schoolmaster's foul copy may be, for it was he was
putting the song down for me on paper. My own hand-writing shaking so
bad, I could not make a fair copy fit for the lady.

_Mr. H._ Mr. Gallagher, don't plunge farther in falsehood--you know the
truth is, that song's not yours.

_Christy._ Why, then, by all--

_Mr. H._ Stop, stop, Mr. Gallagher--stop, I advise you.

_Christy._ Why, then, I won't stop at any thing--for the song's my own.

_Mr. H._ In one sense of the word, may be, it may be called your own,
sir; for you bought it, I know.

_Christy._ I bought it? Oh, who put that in your Scotch brains? Whoever
it was, was a big liar.

_Biddy._ No liar at all, sir--I ax your pardon--'twas I.

_Christy._ And you overheard my thoughts, then, talking to myself--ye
traitor!

_Biddy._ No, sir--again I ax your pardon; no listener Biddy Doyle. But
I was at the schoolmaster's, to get him pen a letter for me to my poor
father, and there with him, I heard how Christy bought the song, and
seen the first copy--and the child of the house told me all about it,
and how it was lift there by Mr. Owen Larken.

_Sir W._ and _Clara_ (_joyfully_). Owen Larken!--you?

_Christy._ All lies! Asy talk!--asy talk--asy to belie a poor man.

_Mr. H._ If you tell the truth, you can tell us the next verse, for
there's another which we did not yet sing.

_Christy._ Not in my copy, which is the original.

_Sir W._ If you have another verse, let us hear it--and that will decide
the business.

_Christy._ Oh, the devil another line, but what's lame, I'll engage, and
forged, as you'll see.

_Mr. HOPE sings,_

  Quick spring the feelings of the heart,
  When touch'd by Clara's gen'rous art;
  Quick as the grateful shamrock springs,
  In the good fairies' favour'd rings.

_Clara._ What does Christy say now?

_Christy._ Why, miss, I say that's well said for the shamrock any way.
And all that's in it for me is this--the schoolmaster was a rogue that
did not give me that verse in for my money.

_Sir W._ Then you acknowledge you bought it?

_Christy._ What harm, plase your honour? And would not I have a right
to buy what pleases me--and when bought and ped for isn't it mine in
law and right? But I am mighty unlucky this night. So, come along,
Florry--we are worsted see! No use to be standing here longer, the
laughing-stock of all that's in it--Ferrinafad.

_Miss G._ Murder! Father, then here's all you done for me, by your
lies and your whiskey! I'll go straight from ye, and lodge with Mrs.
Mulrooney. Biddy, what's that you're grinning at? Plase to walk home out
of that.

_Biddy._ Miss Florinda, I am partly engaged to dance; but I won't be
laving you in your downfall: so here's your cloak--and lane on me.

_Widow._ Why, then, Biddy, we'll never forget you in our prosperity.

_Mabel_ and _Owen._ Never, never. You're a good girl, Biddy.

[_Exeunt Miss GALLAGHER, BIDDY, and CHRISTY._

_Clara._ I am glad they are gone.

_Sir W._ I congratulate you, my dear niece, upon having got rid of
tenants who would have disgraced your choice.

_Clara._ These (_turning to OWEN, MABEL, and her mother,_) these will
do honour to it. My written promise was to _grant the poet's petition_.
Owen, you are _the poet_--what is your petition?

_Owen._ May I speak?--May I say all I wish?

_Clara_ and _Sir W._ Yes, speak--say all you wish.

_Owen._ I am but a young boy, and not able to keep the new inn; but Mr.
Gilbert and Mabel, with my mother's help, would keep it well, I think;
and it's they I should wish to have it, ma'am, if it were pleasing to
you.

_Sir W._ And what would become of yourself, my good lad?

_Owen._ Time enough, sir, to think of myself, when I've seen my mother
and sister settled.

_Sir W._ Then as you won't think of yourself, I must think for you. Your
education, I find, has been well begun, and I will take care it shall
not be left half done.

_Widow._ Oh, I'm too happy this minute! But great joy can say little.

_Mabel._ (_aside_) And great love the same.

_Mr. H._ This day is the happiest I have seen since I left the land of
cakes.

_Gilb._ Thank you, Mr. Hope. And when I say thank you, why, I feel it.
'Twas you helped us at the dead lift.

_Sir W._ You see I was right, Gilbert; the Scotch make good friends.
(_GILBERT bows._) And now, Clara, my love, what shall we call the new
inn--for it must have a name? Since English, Scotch, and Irish, have
united to obtain it, let the sign be the Rose, Thistle, and Shamrock.


END OF COMIC DRAMAS.



LEONORA



LETTER I.

Lady Olivia to Lady Leonora L----.


What a misfortune it is to be born a woman! In vain, dear Leonora,
would you reconcile me to my doom. Condemned to incessant hypocrisy,
or everlasting misery, woman is the slave or the outcast of society.
Confidence in our fellow-creatures, or in ourselves, alike forbidden us,
to what purpose have we understandings, which we may not use? hearts,
which we may not trust? To our unhappy sex, genius and sensibility are
the most treacherous gifts of heaven. Why should we cultivate talents
merely to gratify the caprice of tyrants? Why seek for knowledge, which
can prove only that our wretchedness is irremediable? If a ray of light
break in upon us, it is but to make darkness more visible; to show us
the narrow limits, the Gothic structure, the impenetrable barriers of
our prison. Forgive me if on this subject I cannot speak--if I cannot
think--with patience. Is it not fabled, that the gods, to punish some
refractory mortal of the male kind, doomed his soul to inhabit upon
earth a female form? A punishment more degrading, or more difficult to
endure, could scarcely be devised by cruelty omnipotent. What dangers,
what sorrows, what persecutions, what nameless evils await the woman who
dares to rise above the prejudices of her sex!

  "Ah! happy they, the happiest of their kind!"

who, without a struggle, submit their reason to be swathed by all the
absurd bandages of custom. What, though they cripple or distort their
minds; are not these deformities beauties in the eyes of fashion? and
are not these people the favoured nurselings of the _World_, secure of
her smiles, her caresses, her fostering praise, her partial protection,
through all the dangers of youth and all the dotage of age?

  "Ah! happy they, the happiest of their kind!"

who learn to speak, and think, and act by rote; who have a phrase, or a
maxim, or a formula ready for every occasion; who follow--

  "All the nurse and all the priest have taught."

And is it possible that Olivia can envy these _tideless-blooded_
souls their happiness--their apathy? Is her high spirit so broken
by adversity? Not such the promise of her early years, not such the
language of her unsophisticated heart! Alas! I scarcely know, I scarcely
recollect, that proud self, which was wont to defy the voice of opinion,
and to set at nought the decrees of prejudice. The events of my life
shall be related, or rather the history of my sensations; for in a life
like mine, sensations become events--a metamorphosis which you will see
in every page of my history. I feel an irresistible impulse to open
my whole heart to you, my dear Leonora. I ought to be awed by the
superiority of your understanding and of your character; yet there is
an indulgence in your nature, a softness in your temper, that dissipates
fear, and irresistibly attracts confidence.

You have generously refused to be prejudiced against me by busy,
malignant rumour; you have resolved to judge of me for yourself.
Nothing, then, shall be concealed. In such circumstances I cannot seek
to extenuate any of my faults or follies. I am ready to acknowledge
them all with self-humiliation more poignant than the sarcasms of my
bitterest enemies. But I must pause till I have summoned courage for my
confession. Dear Leonora, adieu!

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER II.

OLIVIA TO LEONORA.


Full of life and spirits, with a heart formed for all the enthusiasm,
for all the delicacy of love, I married early, in the fond expectation
of meeting a heart suited to my own. Cruelly disappointed, I
found--merely a husband. My heart recoiled upon itself; true to my own
principles of virtue, I scorned dissimulation. I candidly confessed to
my husband, that my love was extinguished. I proved to him, alas! too
clearly, that we were not born for each other. The attractive moment of
illusion was past--never more to return; the repulsive reality remained.
The living was chained to the dead, and, by the inexorable tyranny of
English laws, that chain, eternally galling to innocence, can be severed
only by the desperation of vice. Divorce, according to our barbarous
institutions, cannot be obtained without guilt. Appalled at the thought,
I saw no hope but in submission. Yet to submit to live with the man I
could not love was, to a mind like mine, impossible. My principles and
my feelings equally revolted from this legal prostitution. We separated.
I sought for balm to my wounded heart in foreign climes.

To the beauties of nature I was ever feelingly alive. Amidst the sublime
scenes of Switzerland, and on the consecrated borders of her
classic lakes, I sometimes forgot myself to happiness. Felicity, how
transient!--transient as the day-dreams that played upon my fancy in the
bright morning of love. Alas! not all creation's charms could soothe
me to repose. I wandered in search of that which change of place cannot
afford. There was an aching void in my heart--an indescribable sadness
over my spirits. Sometimes I had recourse to books; but how few were
in unison with my feelings, or touched the trembling chords of my
disordered mind! Commonplace morality I could not endure. History
presented nothing but a mass of crimes. Metaphysics promised some
relief, and I bewildered myself in their not inelegant labyrinth. But
to the bold genius and exquisite pathos of some German novelists I hold
myself indebted for my largest portion of ideal bliss; for those rapt
moments, when sympathy with kindred souls transported me into better
worlds, and consigned vulgar realities to oblivion.

I am well aware, my Leonora, that you approve not of these my favourite
writers: but yours is the morality of one who has never known sorrow.
I also would interdict such cordials to the happy. But would you forbid
those to taste felicity in dreams who feel only misery when awake?
Would you dash the cup of Lethe from lips to which no other beverage is
salubrious or sweet?

By the use of these opiates my soul gradually settled into a sort of
pleasing pensive melancholy. Has it not been said, that melancholy is
a characteristic of genius? I make no pretensions to genius: but I am
persuaded that melancholy is the habitual, perhaps the natural state of
those who have the misfortune to feel with delicacy.

You, my dear Leonora, will class this notion amongst what you once
called my refined errors. Indeed I must confess, that I see in you an
exception so striking as almost to compel me to relinquish my theory.
But again let me remind you, that your lot in life has been different
from mine. Alas! how different! Why had not I such a friend, such a
mother as yours, early to direct my uncertain steps, and to educate me
to happiness? I might have been--But no matter what I might have been--.
I must tell you what I have been.

Separated from my husband, without a guide, without a friend at the
most perilous period of my life, I was left to that most insidious of
counsellors--my own heart--my own weak heart. When I was least prepared
to resist the impression, it was my misfortune to meet with a man of
a soul congenial with my own. Before I felt my danger, I was entangled
beyond the possibility of escape. The net was thrown over my heart;
its struggles were to no purpose but to exhaust my strength. Virtue
commanded me to be miserable--and I was miserable. But do I dare to
expect your pity, Leonora, for such an attachment? It excites your
indignation, perhaps your horror. Blame, despise, detest me; all this
would I rather bear, than deceive you into fancying me better than I
really am.

Do not, however, think me worse. If my views had been less pure, if I
had felt less reliance on the firmness of my own principles, and less
repugnance to artifice, I might easily have avoided some appearances,
which have injured me in the eyes of the world. With real contrition I
confess, that a fatal mixture of masculine independence of spirit, and
of female tenderness of heart, has betrayed me into many imprudences;
but of vice, and of that meanest species of vice, hypocrisy, I thank
Heaven, my conscience can acquit me. All I have now to hope is, that
you, my indulgent, my generous Leonora, will not utterly condemn
me. Truth and gratitude are my only claims to your friendship--to a
friendship, which would be to me the first of earthly blessings, which
might make me amends for all I have lost. Consider this before, unworthy
as I am, you reject me from your esteem. Counsel, guide, save me!
Without vanity, but with confidence I say it, I have a heart that will
repay you for affection. You will find me easily moved, easily governed
by kindness. Yours has already sunk deep into my soul, and your power is
unlimited over the affections and over the understanding of

Your obliged

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER III.

FROM LADY LEONORA L---- TO HER MOTHER, THE DUCHESS OF ----, ENCLOSING
THE PRECEDING LETTERS.


I am permitted to send you, my dear mother, the enclosed letters. Mixed
with what you may not approve, you will, I think, find in them proofs
of an affectionate heart and superior abilities. Lady Olivia is just
returned to England. Scandal, imported from the continent, has had such
an effect in prejudicing many of her former friends and acquaintance
against her, that she is in danger of being excluded from that
society of which she was once the ornament and the favourite; but I am
determined to support her cause, and to do every thing in my power to
counteract the effects of malignity. I cannot sufficiently express the
indignation that I feel against the mischievous spirit of scandal, which
destroys happiness at every breath, and which delights in the meanest
of all malignant feelings--the triumph over the errors of superior
characters. Olivia has been much blamed, because she has been much
envied.

Indeed, my dear mother, you have been prejudiced against her by false
reports. Do not imagine that her fascinating manners have blinded my
judgment: I assure you that I have discerned, or rather that she has
revealed to me, all her faults: and ought not this candour to make a
strong impression upon my mind in her favour? Consider how young, how
beautiful she was at her first entrance into fashionable life; how much
exposed to temptation, surrounded by flatterers, and without a single
friend. I am persuaded that she would have escaped all censure, and
would have avoided all the errors with which she now reproaches herself,
if she had been blessed with a mother such as mine.

LEONORA L----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER IV.

THE DUCHESS OF ---- TO HER DAUGHTER.


MY DEAREST CHILD,

I must answer your last before I sleep--before I can sleep in peace. I
have just finished reading the rhapsody which it enclosed; and whilst my
mind is full and warm upon the subject, let me write, for I can write to
my own satisfaction at no other time. I admire and love you, my child,
for the generous indignation you express against those who trample upon
the fallen, or who meanly triumph over the errors of superior genius;
and if I seem more cold, or more severe, than you wish me to be,
attribute this to my anxiety for your happiness, and to that caution
which is perhaps the infirmity of age.

In the course of my long life I have, alas! seen vice and folly
dressed in so many different fashions, that I can find no difficulty in
detecting them under any disguise; but your unpractised eyes are almost
as easily deceived as when you were five years old, and when you could
not believe that your pasteboard nun was the same person in her various
changes of attire.

Nothing would tempt you to associate with those who have avowed
themselves regardless of right and wrong; but I must warn you against
another, and a far more dangerous class, who professing the most refined
delicacy of sentiment, and boasting of invulnerable virtue, exhibit
themselves in the most improper and hazardous situations; and who,
because they are without fear, expect to be deemed free from reproach.
Either from miraculous good fortune, or from a singularity of temper,
these adventurous heroines may possibly escape with what they call
perfect innocence. So much the worse for society. Their example tempts
others, who fall a sacrifice to their weakness and folly. I would punish
the tempters in this case more than the victims, and for them the most
effectual species of punishment is contempt. Neglect is death to these
female lovers of notoriety. The moment they are out of fashion their
power to work mischief ceases. Those who from their character and rank
have influence over public opinion are bound to consider these things
in the choice of their associates. This is peculiarly necessary in days
when attempts are made to level all distinctions. You have sometimes
hinted to me, my dear daughter, with all proper delicacy, that I am too
strict in my notions, and that, unknown to myself, my pride mixes with
morality. Be it so: the pride of family, and the pride of virtue, should
reciprocally support each other. Were I asked what I think the best
guard to a nobility in this or in any other country, I should answer,
VIRTUE. I admire that simple epitaph in Westminster Abbey on the Duchess
of Newcastle:--"Her name was Margaret Lucas, youngest sister to the Lord
Lucas of Colchester;--a noble family, for all the brothers were valiant
and all the sisters virtuous."

I look to the temper of the times in forming rules for conduct. Of late
years we have seen wonderful changes in female manners. I may be like
the old marquis in Gil Blas, who contended that even the peaches of
modern days had deteriorated; but I fear that my complaints of the
degeneracy of human kind are better founded, than his fears for the
vegetable creation. A taste for the elegant profligacy of French
gallantry was, I remember, introduced into this country before the
destruction of the French monarchy. Since that time, some sentimental
writers and pretended philosophers of our own and foreign countries,
have endeavoured to confound all our ideas of morality. To every rule
of right they have found exceptions, and on these they have fixed the
public attention by adorning them with all the splendid decorations of
eloquence; so that the rule is despised or forgotten, and the exception
triumphantly established in its stead. These orators seem as if they had
been employed by Satan to plead the cause of vice; and, as if possessed
by the evil spirit, they speak with a vehemence which carries away their
auditors, or with a subtlety which deludes their better judgment. They
put extreme cases, in which virtue may become vice, or vice virtue: they
exhibit criminal passions in constant connexion with the most exalted,
the most amiable virtues; thus making use of the best feelings of
human nature for the worst purposes, they engage pity or admiration
perpetually on the side of guilt. Eternally talking of philosophy or
philanthropy, they borrow the terms only to perplex the ignorant and
seduce the imagination. They have their systems and their theories, and
in theory they pretend that the general good of society is their sole
immutable rule of morality, and in practice they make the variable
feelings of each individual the judges of this general good. Their
systems disdain all the vulgar virtues, intent upon some _beau ideal_ of
perfection or perfectibility. They set common sense and common honesty
at defiance. No matter: their doctrine, so convenient to the passions
and soporific to the conscience, can never want partisans; especially by
weak and enthusiastic women it is adopted and propagated with eagerness;
then they become personages of importance, and zealots in support of
their sublime opinions; and they can read,--and they can write,--and
they can talk,--and they can _effect a revolution in public opinion_! I
am afraid, indeed, that they can; for of late years we have heard more
of sentiment than of principles; more of the rights of woman than of
her duties. We have seen talents disgraced by the conduct of their
possessors, and perverted in the vain attempt to defend what is
unjustifiable.

Where must all this end? Where the abuse of reason inevitably ends--in
the ultimate law of force. If, in this age of reason, women make a bad
use of that power which they have obtained by the cultivation of
their understanding, they will degrade and enslave themselves beyond
redemption; they will reduce their sex to a situation worse than it ever
experienced even in the ages of ignorance and superstition. If men
find that the virtue of women diminishes in proportion as intellectual
cultivation increases, they will connect, fatally for the freedom
and happiness of our sex, the ideas of female ignorance and female
innocence; they will decide that one is the effect of the other. They
will not pause to distinguish between the use and the abuse of reason;
they will not stand by to see further experiments tried at their
expense, but they will prohibit knowledge altogether as a pernicious
commodity, and will exert the superior power which nature and society
place in their hands, to enforce their decrees. Opinion obtained freedom
for women; by opinion they may be again enslaved. It is therefore the
interest of the female world, and of society, that women should be
deterred by the dread of shame from passing the bounds of discretion.
No false lenity, no partiality in favour of amusing talents or agreeable
manners, should admit of exceptions which become dangerous examples of
impunity. The rank and superior understanding of a _delinquent_ ought
not to be considered in mitigation, but as aggravating circumstances.
Rank makes ill conduct more conspicuous: talents make it more dangerous.
Women of abilities, if they err, usually employ all their powers to
justify rather than to amend their faults.

I am afraid, my dear daughter, that my general arguments are closing
round your Olivia; but I must bid you a good night, for my poor eyes
will serve me no longer. God bless you, my dear child.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER V.

LEONORA TO HER MOTHER.


I agree with you, my dear mother, that in these times especially it
is incumbent upon all persons, whose rank or reputation may influence
public opinion, to be particularly careful to support the cause of
female honour, of virtue, and religion. With the same object in view, we
may however differ in the choice of means for its attainment. Pleasure
as well as pain acts upon human creatures; and therefore, in governing
them, may not reward be full as efficacious as punishment? Our sex are
sufficiently apprised of the fatal consequences of ill conduct; the
advantages of well-earned reputation should be at least as great, as
certain, and as permanent.

In former times, a single finger pointed at the scutcheon of a knight
challenged him to defend his fame; but the defiance was open, the
defence was public; and if the charge proved groundless, it injured none
but the malicious accuser. In our days, female reputation, which is of a
nature more delicate than the honour of any knight, may be destroyed
by the finger of private malice. The whisper of secret scandal, which
admits of no fair or public answer, is too often sufficient to dishonour
a life of spotless fame. This is the height, not only of injustice, but
of impolicy. Women will become indifferent to reputation, which it is so
difficult, even by the prudence of years, to acquire, and which it is so
easy to lose in a moment, by the malice or thoughtlessness of those,
who invent, or who repeat scandal. Those who call themselves the world,
often judge without listening to evidence, and proceed upon suspicion
with as much promptitude and severity, as if they had the most
convincing proofs. But because Cæsar, nearly two thousand years ago,
said that his wife ought not even to be suspected, and divorced her upon
the strength of this sentiment, shall we make it a general maxim that
suspicion justifies punishment? We might as well applaud those, who when
their friends are barely suspected to be tainted with the plague, drive
them from all human comfort and assistance.

Even where women, from the thoughtless gaiety of youth, or the impulse
of inexperienced enthusiasm, may have given some slight cause for
censure, I would not have virtue put on all her gorgon terrors, nor
appear circled by the vengeful band of prudes; her chastening hand will
be more beneficially felt if she wear her more benign form. To place the
imprudent in the same class with the vicious, is injustice and impolicy;
were the same punishment and the same disgrace to be affixed to small
and to great offences, the number of _capital_ offenders would certainly
increase. Those who were disposed to yield to their passions would,
when they had once failed in exact decorum, see no motive, no fear to
restrain them; and there would be no pause, no interval between error
and profligacy. Amongst females who have been imprudent, there are many
things to be considered which ought to recommend them to mercy. The
judge, when he is obliged to pronounce the immutable sentence of the
law, often, with tears, wishes that it were in his power to mitigate
the punishment: the decisions of opinion may and must vary with
circumstances, else the degree of reprobation which they inflict cannot
be proportioned to the offence, or calculated for the good of society.
Among the mitigating circumstances, I should be inclined to name even,
those which you bring in aggravation. Talents, and what is called
genius, in our sex are often connected with a warmth of heart, an
enthusiasm of temper, which expose to dangers, from which the coldness
of mediocrity is safe. In the illuminated palace of ice, the lights
which render the spectacle splendid, and which raise the admiration of
the beholders, endanger the fabric and tend to its destruction.

But you will tell me, dear mother, that allusion is not argument--and
I am almost afraid to proceed, lest you should think me an advocate
for vice. I would not shut the gates of mercy, inexorably and
indiscriminately, upon all those of my own sex, who have even been _more
than imprudent_.

 "He taught them shame, the sudden sense of ill--
    Shame, Nature's hasty conscience, which forbids
  Weak inclination ere it grows to will,
    Or stays rash will before it grows to deeds."

Whilst a woman is alive to shame she cannot be dead to virtue. But by
injudicious or incessant reproach, this principle, even where it is
most exquisite, may be most easily destroyed. The mimosa, when too long
exposed to each rude touch, loses its retractile sensibility. It
ought surely to be the care of the wise and benevolent to cherish
that principle, implanted in our nature as the guard of virtue, that
principle, upon which legislators rest the force of punishment, and all
the grand interests of society.

My dear mother, perhaps you will be surprised at the style in which I
have been writing, and you will smile at hearing your Leonora discuss
the duties of legislators and the grand interests of society. She has
not done so from presumption, or from affectation. She was alarmed by
your supposing that her judgment was deluded by fascinating manners, and
she determined to produce _general_ arguments, to convince you that
she is not actuated by particular prepossession. You see that I have
at least some show of reason on _my_ side. I have forborne to mention
Olivia's name: but now that I have obviated, I hope by reasoning,
the imputation of partiality, I may observe that all my arguments are
strongly in her favour. She had been attacked by slander; _the world_
has condemned her upon suspicion merely. She has been imprudent; but I
repeat, in the strongest terms, that I am _convinced of her innocence_;
and that I should bitterly regret that a woman with such an affectionate
heart, such uncommon candour, and such superior abilities, should be
lost to society.

Tell me, my dear mother, that you are no longer in anxiety about the
consequences of my attachment to Olivia.

Your affectionate daughter,

LEONORA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER VI.

THE DUCHESS OF ---- TO HER DAUGHTER.


You lament, my dear child, that such an affectionate heart, such great
abilities as Olivia's, should be lost to society. Before I sympathize in
your pity, my judgment must be convinced that it is reasonable.

What proofs has Lady Olivia given of her affectionate heart? She is at
variance with both her parents; she is separated from her husband; and
she leaves her child in a foreign country, to be educated by strangers.
Am I to understand, that her ladyship's neglecting to perform the duties
of a daughter, a wife, and a mother, are proofs of an affectionate
heart? As to her superior talents, do they contribute to her own
happiness, or to the happiness of others? Evidently not to her own; for
by her account of herself, she is one of the most miserable wretches
alive! She tells you that "_she went to foreign climes in search of balm
for a wounded heart, and wandered from place to place, looking for what
no place could afford_." She talks of "_indescribable sadness--an aching
void--an impenetrable prison--darkness visible--dead bodies chained
to living ones_;" and she exhibits all the disordered furniture of
a "diseased mind." But you say, that though her powers are thus
insufficient to make herself happy, they may amuse or instruct the
world; and of this I am to judge by the letters which you have sent me.
You admire fine writing; so do I. I class eloquence high amongst the
fine arts. But by eloquence I mean something more than Dr. Johnson
defines it to be, "the art of speaking with fluency and elegance."
This is an art which is now possessed to a certain degree by every
boarding-school miss. Every scribbling young lady can now string
sentences and sentiments together, and can turn a period harmoniously.
Upon the strength of these accomplishments they commence heroines, and
claim the privileges of the order; privileges which go to an indefinite
and most alarming extent. Every heroine may have her own code of
morality for her private use, and she is to be tried by no other; she
may rail as loudly as she pleases "at the barbarous institutions of
society," and may deplore "_the inexorable tyranny of the English
laws_." If she find herself involved in delicate entanglements of
crossing duties, she may break through any one, or all of them, to
extricate herself with a noble contempt of prejudice.

I have promised to reason calmly; but I cannot repress the terror which
I feel at the idea of my daughter's becoming the friend of one of these
women. Olivia's letters are, I think, in the true heroine style; and
they might make a brilliant figure in a certain class of novels. She
begins with a bold exclamation on "the misfortune of being born a
woman!--_the slave or the outcast of society, condemned to incessant
hypocrisy_!" Does she mean modesty? Her manly soul feels it "_the
most degrading punishment that omnipotent cruelty could devise, to
be imprisoned in a female form_." From such a masculine spirit some
fortitude and magnanimity might be expected; but presently she begs
to be pitied, for a broken spirit, and more than female tenderness of
heart. I have observed that the ladies who wish to be men, are usually
those who have not sufficient strength of mind to be women.

Olivia proceeds in an ironical strain to envy, as "_the happiest of
their sex, those who submit to be swathed by custom_." These persons
she stigmatizes with the epithet of _tideless-blooded_. It is the common
trick of unprincipled women to affect to despise those who conduct
themselves with propriety. Prudence they term _coldness_; fortitude,
_insensibility;_ and regard to the rights of others, _prejudice_.
By this perversion of terms they would laugh or sneer virtue out of
countenance; and, by robbing her of all praise, they would deprive her
of all immediate motive. Conscious of their own degradation, they would
lower every thing, and every body, to their own standard: they would
make you believe, that those who have not yielded to their passions are
destitute of sensibility; that the love which is not blazoned forth in
glaring colours is not entitled to our sympathy. The sacrifice of the
strongest feelings of the human heart to a sense of duty is to be called
mean, or absurd; but the shameless frenzy of passion, exposing itself
to public gaze, is to be an object of admiration. These heroines talk of
strength of mind; but they forget that strength of mind is to be shown
in resisting their passions, not in yielding to them. Without being
absolutely of an opinion, which I have heard maintained, that all virtue
is sacrifice, I am convinced that the essential characteristic of virtue
is to bear and forbear. These sentimentalists can do neither. They talk
of sacrifices and generosity; but they are the veriest egotists--the
most selfish creatures alive.

Open your eyes, my dear Leonora, and see things as they really are. Lady
Olivia thinks it a sufficient excuse for abandoning her husband, to say,
that she found "_his soul was not in unison with hers_." She thinks it
an adequate apology for a criminal attachment, to tell you that "_the
net was thrown over her heart before she felt her danger: that all its
struggles were to no purpose, but to exhaust her strength_."

If she did not feel her danger, she prepared it. The course of reading
which her ladyship followed was the certain preparation for her
subsequent conduct. She tells us that she could not endure "_the
common-place of morality, but metaphysics promised her some relief_."
In these days a heroine need not be amoralist, but she must be a
metaphysician. She must "_wander in the not inelegant labyrinth_;" and
if in the midst of it she comes unawares upon the monster vice, she must
not start, though she have no clue to secure her retreat.

From metaphysics Lady Olivia went on to German novels. "_For her largest
portions of bliss, for those rapt moments, which consigned vulgar
realities to oblivion_," she owns herself indebted to those writers,
who promise an ideal world of pleasure, which, like the _mirage_ in
the desert, bewilders the feverish imagination. I always suspected the
imagination of these _women of feeling_ to be more susceptible than
their hearts. They want excitation for their morbid sensibility, and
they care not at what expense it is procured. If they could make all the
pleasures of life into one cordial, they would swallow it at a draught
in a fit of sentimental spleen. The mental intemperance that they
indulge in promiscuous novel-reading destroys all vigour and clearness
of judgment; every thing dances in the varying medium of their
imagination. Sophistry passes for reasoning; nothing appears profound
but what is obscure; nothing sublime but what is beyond the reach of
mortal comprehension. To their vitiated taste the simple pathos, which
o'ersteps not the modesty of nature, appears cold, tame, and insipid;
they must have _scènes_ and a _coup de théâtre_; and ranting, and
raving, and stabbing, and drowning, and poisoning; for with them there
is no love without murder. Love, in their representations, is indeed a
distorted, ridiculous, horrid monster, from whom common sense, taste,
decency, and nature recoil.

But I will be calm.--You say, my dear Leonora, that your judgment has
not been blinded by Lady Olivia's fascinating manners; but that you are
strongly influenced in her favour by that candour, with which she has
revealed to you all her faults. The value of candour in individuals
should be measured by their sensibility to shame. When a woman throws
off all restraint, and then desires me to admire her candour, I am
astonished only at her assurance. Do not be the dupe of such candour.
Lady Olivia avows a criminal passion, yet you say that you have no
doubt of her innocence. The persuasion of your unsuspecting heart is no
argument: when you give me any proofs in her favour, I shall pay them
all due attention. In the mean time I have given you my opinion of those
ladies who place themselves in the most perilous situations, and then
expect you to believe them safe.

Olivia's professions of regard for you are indeed enthusiastic.
She tells you, that "_your power is unlimited over her heart and
understanding; that your friendship would be to her one of the greatest
of earthly blessings_." May be so--but I cannot wish you to be her
friend. With whatever confidence she makes the assertion, do not believe
that she has a heart capable of feeling the value of yours. These
sentimental, unprincipled women make the worst friends in the world.
We are often told that, "poor creatures! they do nobody any harm but
themselves;" but in society it is scarcely possible for a woman to do
harm to herself, without doing harm to others; all her connexions
must be involved in the consequences of her imprudence. Besides,
what confidence can you repose in them? If you should happen to be an
obstacle in the way of any of their fancies, do you think that they will
respect you or your interest, when they have not scrupled to sacrifice
their own to the gratification of their passions? Do you think that
the gossamer of sentiment will restrain those whom the strong chains of
prudence could not hold?

Oh! my dearest child, forcibly as these arguments carry conviction to my
mind, I dread lest your compassionate, generous temper, should prevent
their reaching your understanding. Then let me conjure you, by all the
respect which you have ever shown for your mother's opinions, by all
that you hold dear or sacred, beware of forming an intimacy with an
unprincipled woman. Believe me to be

Your truly affectionate mother, ----

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER VII.

LEONORA TO HER MOTHER.


No daughter ever felt more respect for the opinions of a parent than
I do for yours, my dearest mother; but you have never, even from
childhood, required from me a blind submission--you have always
encouraged me to desire conviction. And now, when the happiness of
another is at stake, you will forgive me if I am less disposed to
yield than I should be, I hope, if my own interest or taste were alone
concerned.

You ask me what proofs I have of Lady Olivia's innocence. Believe me, I
have such as are convincing to my unbiassed judgment, and such as would
be sufficient to satisfy all your doubts, were I at liberty to lay the
whole truth before you. But even to exculpate herself, Olivia will not
ruin in your opinion her husband, of whom you imagine that she has
no reason to complain. I, who know how anxious she is to obtain your
esteem, can appreciate the sacrifice that she makes; and in this
instance, as in many others, I admire her magnanimity; it is equal
to her candour, for which she is entitled to praise even by your
own principles, dear mother: since, far from having _thrown off all
restraint_, she is exquisitely susceptible of shame.

As to her understanding--have no persons of great talents ever been
unfortunate? Frequently we see that they have not been able, by all
their efforts and all their powers, to remedy the defects in the
characters and tempers of those with whom they have unhappily been
connected. Olivia married very young, and was unfortunately mistaken in
her choice of a husband: on that subject I can only deplore her error
and its consequences: but as to her disagreements with her own family,
I do not think her to blame. For the mistakes we make in the choice of
lovers or friends we may be answerable, but we cannot be responsible for
the faults of the relations who are given to us by nature. If we do not
please them, it may be our misfortune; it is not necessarily our fault.
I cannot be more explicit, without betraying Lady Olivia's confidence,
and implicating others in defending her.

With respect to that attachment of which you speak with so much just
severity, she has given me the strongest assurances that she will do
every thing in her power to conquer it. Absence, you know, is the first
and the most difficult step, and this she has taken. Her course of
reading displeases you: I cannot defend it: but I am persuaded that it
is not a proof of her taste being vitiated. Many people read ordinary
novels as others take snuff, merely from habit, from the want of petty
excitation; and not, as you suppose, from the want of exorbitant or
improper stimulus. Those who are unhappy have recourse to any trifling
amusement that can change the course of their thoughts. I do not justify
Olivia for having chosen such _comforters_ as certain novels, but I pity
her, and impute this choice to want of fortitude, not to depravity of
taste. Before she married, a strict injunction was laid upon her not to
read any book that was called a novel: this raised in her mind a sort
of perverse curiosity. By making any books or opinions contraband,
the desire to read and circulate them is increased; bad principles are
consequently smuggled into families, and being kept secret, can never
be subject to fair examination. I think it must be advantageous to the
right side of any question, that all which can be said against it should
be openly heard, that it may be answered. I do not

  "Hate when vice can bolt her arguments;"

for I know that virtue has a tongue to answer her. The more vice repeats
her assertions, the better; because when familiarized, their boldness
will not astound the understanding, and the charm of novelty will not be
mistaken for the power of truth. We may observe, that the admiration
for the class of writers to whom you allude, though violent in its
commencement, has abated since they have been more known; and numbers,
who began with rapture, have ended with disgust. Persons of vivacious
imaginations, like Olivia, may be caught at first view by whatever has
the appearance of grandeur or sublimity; but if time be allowed for
examination, they will infallibly detect the disproportions, and these
will ever afterwards shock their taste: if you will not allow leisure
for comparison--if you say, do not look at such strange objects,
the obedient eyes may turn aside, but the rebel imagination pictures
something a thousand times more wonderful and charming than the reality.
I will venture to predict, that Olivia will soon be tired of the species
of novels which she now admires, and that, once surfeited with these
books, and convinced of their pernicious effects, she will never relapse
into the practice of novel reading.

As to her taste for metaphysical books--Dear mother, I am very daring to
differ with you in so many points; but permit me to say, that I do not
agree with you in detesting metaphysics. People may lose themselves in
that labyrinth; but why should they meet with vice in the midst of it?
The characters of a moralist, a practical moralist, and a metaphysician,
are not incompatible, as we may see in many amiable and illustrious
examples. To examine human motives, and the nature of the human mind,
is not to destroy the power of virtue, or to increase the influence
of vice. The chemist, after analyzing certain substances, and after
discovering their constituent parts, can lay aside all that is
heterogeneous, and recompound the substance in a purer state. From
analogy we might infer, that the motives of metaphysicians ought to
be purer than those of the vulgar and ignorant. To discover the art of
converting base into noble passions, or to obtain a universal remedy for
all mental diseases, is perhaps beyond the power of metaphysicians; but
in the pursuit, useful discoveries may be made.

As to Olivia's letters--I am sorry I sent them to you; for I see that
they have lowered, instead of raising her in your opinion. But if you
criticise letters, written in openness and confidence of heart to a
private friend, as if they were set before the tribunal of the public,
you are--may I say it?--not only severe, but unjust; for you try and
condemn the subjects of one country by the laws of another.

Dearest mother, be half as indulgent to Olivia as you are to me: indeed
you are prejudiced against her; and because you see some faults, you
think her whole character vicious. But would you cut down a fine tree
because a leaf is withered, or because the canker-worm has eaten into
the bud? Even if a main branch were decayed, are there not remedies
which, skilfully applied, can save the tree from destruction, and
perhaps restore it to its pristine beauty?

And now, having exhausted all my allusions, all my arguments, and all my
little stock of eloquence, I must come to a plain matter of fact--

Before I received your letter I had invited Lady Olivia to spend some
time at L---- Castle. I fear that you will blame my precipitation, and
I reproach myself for it, because I know it will give you pain. However,
though you will think me imprudent, I am certain you would rather that
I were imprudent than unjust. I have defended Olivia from what I
believe to be unmerited censure; I have invited her to my house; she has
accepted my proffered kindness; to withdraw it afterwards would be doing
her irreparable injury: it would confirm all that the world can suspect:
it would be saying to the censorious--I am convinced that you are right,
and I deliver your victim up to you.

Thus I should betray the person whom I undertook to defend: her
confidence in me, her having but for a moment accepted my protection,
would be her ruin. I could not act in so base a manner.

Fear nothing for me, my best, but too anxious, friend. I may do Lady
Olivia some good; she can do me no harm. She may learn the principles
which you have taught me; I can never catch from her any tastes or
habits which you would disapprove. As to the rest, I hazard little
or nothing. The hereditary credit which I enjoy in my maternal right
enables me to assist others without injuring myself.

Your affectionate daughter,

LEONORA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER VIII.

THE DUCHESS OF ---- TO HER DAUGHTER.


MY DEAREST CHILD,

I hope that you are in the right, and that I am in the wrong.

Your affectionate mother, ----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER IX.

OLIVIA TO MADAME DE P----.


Prepare yourself, my ever dear and charming Gabrielle, for all the
torments of jealousy. Know, that since I came to England I have formed
a new friendship with a woman who is interesting in the extreme, who has
charmed me by the simplicity of her manners and the generous sensibility
of her heart. Her character is certainly too reserved: yet even
this defect has perhaps increased her power over my imagination, and
consequently over my affections. I know not by what magic she has
obtained it, but she has already an ascendancy over me, which would
quite astonish _you_, who know my wayward fancies and independent
spirit.

Alas! I confess my heart is weak indeed; and I fear that all the
power of friendship and philosophy combined will never strengthen it
sufficiently. Oh, Gabrielle! how can I hope to obliterate from my soul
that attachment which has marked the colour of my destiny for years? Yet
such courage, such cruel courage is required of me, and of such I have
boasted myself capable. Lady Leonora L----, my new friend, has, by all
the English eloquence of virtue, obtained from me a promise, which,
I fear, I shall not have the fortitude to keep--but I must make
the attempt--Forbid R---- to write to me--Yes! I have written the
words--Forbid R---- to write to me--Forbid him to think of me--I will do
more--if possible I will forbid myself henceforward to think of him--to
think of love--Adieu, my Gabrielle--All the illusions of life are over,
and a dreary blank of future existence lies before me, terminated only
by the grave. To-morrow I go to L---- Castle, with feelings which I can
compare only to those of the unfortunate La Vallière when she renounced
her lover, and resolved to bury herself in a cloister.--Alas! why have
not I the resource of devotion?

Your unhappy

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER X.

GENERAL B---- TO MR. L----.


Publish my travels!--Not I, my dear friend. The world shall never have
the pleasure of laughing at General B----'s trip to Paris. Before a man
sets about to inform others, he should have seen, not only the surface
but the bottom of things; he should have had, not only a _vue d'oiseau_,
but (to use a celebrated naval commander's expression) a _vue de
poisson_ of his subject. By this time you must have heard enough of the
Louvre and the Tuilleries, and Versailles, and le petit Trianon, and St.
Cloud--and you have had enough of pictures and statues; and you know all
that can be known of Bonaparté, by seeing him at a review or a levee;
and the fashionable beauties and _celebrated characters_ of the hour
have all passed and repassed through the magic lantern. A fresh showman
might make his figures a little more correct, or a little more in
laughable caricature, but he could produce nothing new. Alas! there
is nothing new under the sun. Nothing remains for the moderns, but to
practise the oldest follies the newest ways. Would you, for the sake
of your female friends, know the fashionable dress of a Parisian
_elegante_, see Seneca on the transparent vestments of the Roman ladies,
who, like these modern belles, were generous in the display of their
charms to the public. No doubt these French republicanists act upon the
true Spartan principle of modesty: they take the most efficacious method
to prevent their influence from being too great over the imaginations
of men, by renouncing all that insidious reserve which alone can render
even beauty permanently dangerous.

Of the cruelties of the revolution I can tell you nothing new. The
public have been steeped up to the lips in blood, and have surely had
their fill of horrors.

But, my dear friend, you say that I must be able to give a just view
of the present state of French society, and of the best parts of it,
because I have not, like some of my countrymen, hurried about Paris from
one _spectacle_ to another, seen the opera, and the play-houses, and the
masked balls, and the gaming-houses, and the women of the Palais
Royal, and the lions of all sorts; gone through the usual routine
of presentation and public dinners, drunk French wine, damned French
cookery, and "come home content." I have certainly endeavoured to employ
my time better, and have had the good fortune to be admitted into the
best _private societies_ in Paris. These were composed of the remains
of the French nobility, of men of letters and science, and of families,
who, without interfering in politics, devote themselves to domestic
duties, to literary and social pleasures. The happy hours I have passed
in this society can never be forgotten, and the kindness I have received
has made its full impression upon an honest English heart. I will never
disgrace the confidence of my friends, by drawing their characters for
the public.

Cæsar in all his glory, and all his despotism, could not, with
impunity, force a Roman knight [1] to go upon the stage: but modern
anecdote-mongers, more cruel and insolent than Cæsar, force their
friends of all ages and sexes to appear, and speak, and act, for the
amusement or derision of the public.

[Footnote 1: Laberius.]

My dear friend, is not my resolution, never to favour the world with
my tour, well grounded? I hope that I have proved to your satisfaction,
that I could tell people nothing but what I do not understand, or what
is not worth telling them, or what has been told them a hundred times,
or what, as a gentleman, I am bound not to publish.

Yours truly,

J. B.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XI.

OLIVIA TO MADAME DE P----.


L---- Castle.

Friendship, my amiable and interesting Gabrielle, is more an affair of
the heart than of the head, more the instinct of taste than the choice
of reason. With me the heart is no longer touched, when the imagination
ceases to be charmed. Explain to me this metaphysical phenomenon of my
nature, and, for your reward, I will quiet your jealousy, by confessing
without compunction what now weighs on my conscience terribly. I begin
to feel that I can never love this English friend as I ought. She is
_too English_--far too English for one who has known the charms
of French ease, vivacity, and sentiment; for one who has seen the
bewitching Gabrielle's infinite variety.

Leonora has just the figure and face that you would picture to yourself
for _une belle Anglaise_; and if our Milton comes into your memory, you
might repeat, for the quotation is not too trite for a foreigner,

 "Grace is in all her steps, heaven in her eye,
  In every gesture dignity and love."

But then it is grace which says nothing, a heaven only for a husband,
the dignity more of a matron than of a heroine, and love that might
have suited Eve before she had seen this world. Leonora is certainly
a beauty; but then a beauty who does not know her power, and who,
consequently, can make no one else feel its full extent. She is not
unlike your beautiful Polish Princess, but she has none of the charming
Anastasia's irresistible transitions from soft, silent languor, to
brilliant, eloquent enthusiasm. All the gestures and attitudes of
Anastasia are those of taste and sentiment; Leonora's are simply those
of nature. _La belle nature_, but not _le beau idéal_. With a figure
that would grace any court, or shine upon any stage, she usually enters
a room without producing, or thinking of producing, any sensation; she
moves often without seeming to have any other intention than to change
her place; and her fine eyes generally look as if they were made only to
see with. At times she certainly has a most expressive and intelligent
countenance. I have seen her face enlightened by the fire of genius, and
shaded by the exquisite touches of sensibility; but all this is merely
called forth by the occasion, and vanishes before it is noticed by
half the company. Indeed, the full radiance of her beauty or of her wit
seldom shines upon any one but her husband. The audience and spectators
are forgotten. Heavens! what a difference between the effect which
Leonora and Gabrielle produce! But, to do her justice, much of this
arises from the different _organization_ of French and English society.
In Paris the insipid details of domestic life are judiciously kept
behind the scenes, and women appear as heroines upon the stage with all
the advantages of decoration, to listen to the language of love, and to
receive the homage of public admiration. In England, gallantry is not
yet _systematized_, and our sex look more to their families than to
what is called _society_ for the happiness of existence. And yet the
affection of mothers for their children does not appear to be so strong
in the hearts of English as of French women. In England, ladies do not
talk of the _sentiment of maternity_ with that elegance and sensibility
with which you expatiate upon it continually in conversation. They
literally are _des bonnes mères de famille_, not from the impulse of
sentiment, but merely from an early instilled sense of duty, for which
they deserve little credit. However, they devote their lives to their
children, and those who have the misfortune to be their intimate friends
are doomed to see them half the day, or all day long, go through the
part of the good mother in all its diurnal monotony of lessons and
caresses. All this may be vastly right--it is a pity it is so tiresome.
For my part I cannot conceive how persons of superior taste and talents
can submit to it, unless it be to make themselves a reputation, and that
you know is done by writing and talking on the general principles, not
by submitting to the minute details of education. The great painter
sketches the outline, and touches the principal features, but leaves
the subordinate drudgery of filling up the parts, finishing the drapery,
&c., to inferior hands.

Upon recollection, in my favourite "Sorrows of Werter," the heroine is
represented cutting bread and butter for a group of children: I admire
this simplicity in Goethe; 'tis one of the secrets by which he touches
the heart. Simplicity is delightful by way of variety, but always
simplicity is worse than _toujours perdrix_. Children in a novel or a
drama are charming little creatures: but in real life they are often
insufferable plagues. What becomes of them in Paris I know not; but I am
sure that they are never in the way of one's conversations or reveries;
and it would be a blessing to society if English children were as
inaudible and invisible. These things strike me sensibly upon my return
to England, after so long an absence. Surely, by means of the machinery
of masters, and governesses, and schools, the manufacture of education
might be carried on without incommoding those who desire to see only
the finished production. Here I find the daughter of an English duke, a
woman in the first bloom of youth, of the highest pretensions in point
of rank, beauty, fashion, accomplishments, and talents, devoting herself
to the education of two children, orphans, left to her care by an elder
sister. To take charge of orphans is a good and fine action; as such
it touches me sensibly; but then where is the necessity of sacrificing
one's friends, and one's pleasures, day after day, and hour after hour,
to mere children? Leonora can persevere only from a notion of duty.
Now, in my opinion, when generosity becomes duty it ceases to be virtue.
Virtue requires free-will: duty implies constraint. Virtue acts from the
impulse of the moment, and never tires or is tired; duty drudges on in
consequence of reflection, and, weary herself, wearies all beholders.
Duty, always laborious, never can be graceful; and what is not graceful
in woman cannot be amiable--can it, my amiable Gabrielle? But I reproach
myself for all I have written. Leonora is my friend--besides, I am
really obliged to her, and for the universe would I not hint a thought
to her disadvantage. Indeed she is a most excellent, a faultless
character, and it is the misfortune of your Olivia not to love
perfection as she ought.

My charming and interesting Gabrielle, I am more out of humour with
myself than you can conceive; for in spite of all that reason and
gratitude urge, I fear I cannot prefer the insipid virtues of Leonora to
the lively graces of Gabrielle.

As to the cold husband, Mr. L----, I neither know nor wish to know
any thing of him; but I live in hopes of an agreeable and interesting
accession to our society to-day, from the arrival of Leonora's intimate
friend, a young widow, whose husband I understand was a man of a harsh
temper: she has gone through severe trials with surprising fortitude;
and though I do not know her history, I am persuaded it must be
interesting. Assuredly this husband could never have been the man of her
choice, and of course she must have had some secret unhappy attachment,
which doubtless preyed upon her spirits. Probably the object of her
affection, in despair at her marriage, plighted his faith unfortunately,
or possibly may have fallen a sacrifice to his constancy. I am all
impatience to see her. Her husband's name was so ruggedly English, that
I am sure you would never be able to pronounce it, especially if you
only saw it written; therefore I shall always to you call her Helen,
a name which is more pleasing to the ear, and more promising to the
imagination. I have not been able to prevail upon Leonora to describe
her friend to me exactly; she says only, that she loves Helen too well
to overpraise her beforehand. My busy fancy has, however, bodied forth
her form, and painted her in the most amiable and enchanting colours.
Hark! she is just arrived. Adieu.

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XII.

FROM MRS. C---- TO MISS B----.


. . . Having now had the honour of spending nearly a week in the society
of the celebrated enchantress, Lady Olivia, you will naturally expect
that I should be much improved in the art of love: but before I come to
my improvements I must tell you, what will be rather more interesting,
that Leonora is perfectly well and happy, and that I have the dear
delight of exclaiming ten times an hour, "Ay, just as I thought it would
be!--Just such a wife, just such a mistress of a family I knew she would
make."

"_Not to admire_," is an art or a precept which I have not been able
to practise much since I came here. Some philosophers tell us that
admiration is not only a silly but a fatiguing state of mind; and I
suppose that nothing could have preserved my mind from being tired to
death, but the quantity of bodily exercise which I have taken. I could,
if I pleased, give you a plan and elevation of this castle. Nay, I doubt
not but I could stand an examination in the catalogue of the pictures,
or the inventory of the furniture.

You, Helen!--you who could not remember the colour of Lady N----'s _new_
curtains after you had seen them at least a hundred times!

Lady N---- was indifferent to me, and how could I hang up her curtains
in my memory? By what could they hold? Do you not know, Margaret ... all
the fine things that I could say, and that quartos have said before me,
about the association of ideas and sensations, &c.? Those we love
impart to uninteresting objects the power of pleasing, as the magnet can
communicate to inert metal its attractive influence.

Till Mr. L---- was Leonora's lover I never liked him much. I do not mean
to call him inert. I always knew that he had many excellent qualities;
but there was nothing in his temper peculiarly agreeable to me,
and there was something in his character that I did not thoroughly
understand; yet, since he is become Leonora's husband, I find my
understanding much improved, and I dare say it will soon be so far
enlarged, that I shall comprehend him perfectly.

Leonora has almost persuaded me to like Lady Olivia. Not to laugh at
her would be impossible. I wish you could see the way in which we go
on together. Our first setting out would have diverted you. Enter Lady
Olivia breathless, with an air of theatric expectation--advances to
embrace Helen, who is laughing with Leonora--her back turned towards the
side of the stage at which Olivia enters--Olivia pauses suddenly, and
measures Helen _with a long look_. What passes in Lady Olivia's mind
at this moment I do not know, but I guess that she was disappointed
woefully by my appearance. After some time she was recovered, by
Leonora's assistance, from her reverie, and presently began to admire
my vivacity, and to find out that I was Clarissa's Miss Howe--no, I was
Lady G.--no, I was Heloise's Clara: but I, choosing to be myself, and
insisting upon being an _original_, sunk again visibly and rapidly
in Olivia's opinion, till I was in imminent danger of being _nobody_,
Leonora again kindly interposed to save me from annihilation; and after
an interval of an hour or two dedicated to letter-writing, Lady Olivia
returned and seated herself beside me, resolved to decide what manner
of woman I was. Certain novels are the touchstones of feeling and
_intellect_ with certain ladies. Unluckily I was not well read in these;
and in the questions put to me from these sentimental statute-books,
I gave strange judgments, often for the husband or parents against the
heroine. I did not even admit the plea of destiny, irresistible passion,
or _entraînement_, as in all cases sufficient excuse for all errors and
crimes. Moreover, I excited astonishment by calling things by obsolete
names. I called a married woman's having a lover _a crime_! Then I was
no judge of virtues, for I thought a wife's making an intimate friend of
her husband's mistress was scandalous and mean; but this I was told
is the height of delicacy and generosity. I could not perceive the
propriety of a man's liking two women at the same time, or a woman's
having a platonic attachment for half a dozen lovers: and I owned that
I did not wish divorce could be as easily obtained in England as in
France. All which proved that I have never been out of England--a great
misfortune! I dare say it will soon be discovered that women as well as
madeira cannot be good for any thing till they have crossed the line.
But besides the obloquy of having lived only in the best company in
England, I was further disgraced by the discovery, that I am deplorably
ignorant of metaphysics, and have never been enlightened by any
philanthropic transcendental foreign professor of humanity. Profoundly
humiliated, and not having yet taken the first step towards knowledge,
the knowing that I was ignorant, I was pondering upon my sad fate, when
Lady Olivia, putting her hand upon my shoulder, summoned me into the
court of love, there in my own proper person to answer such questions as
it should please her ladyship to ask. For instance:--"Were you ever in
love?--How often?--When?--Where?--And with whom?"

Never having stood a cross-examination in public upon these points, I
was not quite prepared to reply; and I was accused of giving evasive
answers, and convicted of blushing. Mr. L----, who was present at this
examination, enjoyed, in his grave way, my astonishment and confusion,
but said not one word. I rallied my spirits and my wits, and gave some
answers which gained the smile of the court on my side.

From these specimens you may guess, my dear Margaret, how well this lady
and I are likely to agree. I shall divert myself with her absurdities
without scruple. Yet notwithstanding the flagrancy of these, Leonora
persuades me to think well of Olivia; indeed I am so happy here, that it
would be a difficult matter at present to make me think ill of any body.
The good qualities, which Leonora sees in her, are not yet visible to my
eyes; but Leonora's visual orb is so cleared with charity and love, that
she can discern what is not revealed to vulgar sight. Even in the very
germ, she discovers the minute form of the perfect flower. _The Olivia_
will, I hope, in time, blow out in full perfection.

Yours affectionately,

HELEN C----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XIII.

OLIVIA TO MADAME DE P----.


Monday.

O my Gabrielle! this Helen is not precisely the person that I expected.
Instead of being a dejected beauty, she is all life and gaiety.

I own I should like her better if she were a little more pensive; a
tinge of melancholy would, in her situation, be so becoming and natural.
My imagination was quite disappointed when I beheld the quickness of her
eyes and frequency of her smiles. Even her mode of showing affection
to Leonora was not such as could please me. This is the first visit, I
understand, that she has paid Leonora since her marriage: these friends
have been separated for many months.--I was not present at their
meeting; but I came into the room a few minutes after _Helen_'s arrival,
and I should have thought that they had seen one another but yesterday.
This _dear Helen_ was quite at ease and at home in a few moments, and
seemed as if she had been living with us for years. I make allowance for
the ease of well-bred people. Helen has lived much in the world, and has
polished manners. But the heart--the heart is superior to politeness;
and even ease, in some situations, shows a want of the delicate
_tact_ of sentiment. In a similar situation I should have been silent,
entranced, absorbed in my sensations--overcome by them, perhaps
dissolved in tears. But in Helen there appeared no symptoms of
real sensibility--nothing characteristic--nothing profound--nothing
concentrated: it was all superficial, and evaporated in the common way.
I was provoked to see Leonora satisfied. She assures me that Helen has
uncommonly strong affections, and that her character rather exceeds than
is deficient in enthusiasm. Possibly; but I am certain that Helen is in
no danger of becoming romantic. Far from being abstracted, I never
saw any one seem more interested and eager about every present
occurrence--pleased, even to childishness, with every passing trifle.
I confess that she is too much of this world for me. But I will if
possible suspend my judgment, and study her a few hours longer, before I
give you my definitive opinion.

Thursday.

Well, my Gabrielle, my _definitive opinion_ is that I can never love
this friend of Leonora. I said that she had lived much in the world--but
only in the English world: she has never seen any other; therefore,
though quite in a different style from Leonora, she shocks me with the
same nationality. All her ideas are exclusively English: she has what is
called English good sense, and English humour, and English prejudices of
_all sorts_, both masculine and feminine. She takes fire in defence of
her country and of her sex; nay, sometimes blushes even to awkwardness,
which one would not expect in the midst of her good breeding and
vivacity. What a difference between her vivacity and that of my charming
Gabrielle! as great as between the enlargement of your mind and the
limited nature of her understanding. I tried her on various subjects,
but found her intrenched in her own contracted notions. All new, or
liberal, or sublime ideas in morality or metaphysics she either cannot
seize, or seizes only to place in a ridiculous point of view: a certain
sign of mediocrity. Adieu, my Gabrielle. I must send you the pictures,
whether engaging or forbidding, of those with whom your Olivia is
destined to pass her time. When I have no events to relate, still I must
write to convey to you my sentiments. Alas! how imperfectly!--for I have
interdicted myself the expression of those most interesting to my heart.
Leonora, calmly prudent, coolly virtuous, knows not what it costs me
to be faithful to this cruel promise. Write to me, my sympathizing, my
tender friend!

Your ever unhappy

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XIV.

MRS. C---- TO MISS B----.


July 10th.

Some very good people, like some very fine pictures, are best at a
distance. But Leonora is not one of these: the nearer you approach, the
better you like her; as in arabesque-work you may admire the beauty of
the design even at a distance, but you cannot appreciate the delicacy of
the execution till you examine it closely, and discover that every line
is formed of grains of gold, almost imperceptibly fine. I am glad that
the "small sweet courtesies of life" have been hailed by one sentimental
writer at least. The minor virtues are not to be despised, even in
comparison with the most exalted. The common rose, I have often thought,
need not be ashamed of itself even in company with the finest exotics
in a hothouse; and I remember, that your brother, in one of his letters,
observed, that the common cock makes a very respectable figure, even in
the grand Parisian assembly of all the stuffed birds and beasts in the
universe. It is a glorious thing to have a friend who will jump into a
river, or down a precipice, to save one's life: but as I do not intend
to tumble down precipices, or to throw myself into the water above half
a dozen times, I would rather have for my friends persons who would not
reserve their kindness wholly for these grand occasions, but who could
condescend to make me happy every day, and all day long, even by actions
not sufficiently sublime to be recorded in history or romance.

Do not infer from this that I think Leonora would hesitate to make
_great_ sacrifices. I have had sufficient experience of her fortitude
and active courage of mind in the most trying circumstances, whilst many
who talked more stoutly, shrunk from _committing_ themselves by actions.

Some maxim-maker says, that past misfortunes are good for nothing but
to be forgotten. I am not of his opinion: I think that they are good to
make us know our winter from our summer friends, and to make us feel
for those who have sustained us in adversity, that most pleasurable
sensation of the human mind--gratitude.

But I am straying unawares into the province of sentiment, where I am
such a stranger that I shall inevitably lose my way, especially as I am
too proud to take a guide. Lady Olivia ---- may perhaps be very fond
of Leonora: and as she has every possible cause to be so, it is but
reasonable and charitable to suppose that she is: but I should never
guess it by her manner. She speaks of her friendship sometimes in the
most romantic style, but often makes observations upon _the enviable
coolness and imperturbability of Leonora's disposition_, which convinces
me that she does not understand it in the least. Those who do not really
feel, always pitch their expressions too high or too low, as deaf people
bellow, or speak in a whisper. But I may be mistaken in my suspicions of
Olivia; for _to do the lady justice_, as Mrs. Candour would say, she is
so affected, that it is difficult to know what she really feels. Those
who put on rouge occasionally, are suspected of wearing it constantly,
and never have any credit for their natural colour; presently they
become so accustomed to common rouge, that, mistaking scarlet for
pale pink, they persist in laying on more and more, till they are like
nothing human.

Yours affectionately,

HELEN C----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XV.

OLIVIA TO MADAME DE P----.


I have found it! I have found it! dear Gabrielle, rejoice with me! I
have solved the metaphysical problem, which perplexed me so cruelly, and
now I am once more at peace with myself. I have discovered the reason
why I cannot love Leonora as she merits to be loved--she has obliged me;
and the nature of obligation is such, that it supposes superiority on
one side, and consequently destroys the equality, the freedom, the ease,
the charm of friendship. Gratitude weighs upon one's heart in proportion
to the delicacy of its feelings. To minds of an ordinary sort it may be
pleasurable, for with them it is sufficiently feeble to be calm; but in
souls of a superior cast, it is a poignant, painful sensation, because
it is too strong ever to be tranquil. In short,

  "'Tis bliss but to a certain bound--
   Beyond, 'tis agony."

For my own part, the very dread that I shall not be thought to express
enough, deprives me of the power to speak or even to feel. Fear, you
know, extinguishes affection; and of all fears, the dread of not being
sufficiently grateful, operates the most powerfully. Thus sensibility
destroys itself.--Gracious Heaven! teach me to moderate mine.

In the nature of the obligation with which Leonora has oppressed my
heart, there is something peculiarly humiliating. Upon my return to this
country, I found the malignant genius of scandal bent upon destroying my
reputation. You have no idea of the miserable force of prejudice which
still prevails here. There are some women who emancipate themselves, but
then unluckily they are not in sufficient numbers to keep each other
in countenance in public. One would not choose to be confined to the
society of people who cannot go to court, though sometimes they take the
lead elsewhere. We are full half a century behind you in civilization;
and your revolution has, I find, afforded all our stiffened moralists
_incontrovertible_ arguments against liberty of opinion or conduct in
either sex.

I was thunderstruck when I saw the grave and repulsive faces of all my
female acquaintance. At first I attributed every thing that was
strange and disagreeable to English reserve, of which I had retained a
sufficiently formidable idea: but I presently found that there was some
other cause which kept all these nice consciences at a distance from my
atmosphere.

Would you believe it? I saw myself upon the point of being quite
excluded from good society. Leonora saved me from this imminent danger.
Voluntarily, and I must say nobly, if not gracefully, Leonora came
forward in my defence. Vanquishing her natural English timidity, she
braved the eyes, and tongues, and advice of all the prudes and old
dowagers my enemies, amongst whom I may count the superannuated Duchess
her mother, the proudest dowager now living. When I appeared in public
with a personage of Leonora's unblemished reputation, scandal, much
against her will, was forced to be silent, and it was to be taken for
granted that I was, in the language of prudery, perfectly innocent.
Leonora, to be consistent in goodness, or to complete her triumph in the
face of the world, invited me to accompany her to the country.--I have
now been some weeks at this superb castle. Heaven is my witness that
I came with a heart overflowing with affection; but the painful, the
agonizing sense of humiliation mixed with my tenderest sentiments, and
all became bitterness insufferable. Oh, Gabrielle! you, and perhaps you
alone upon earth, can understand my feelings. Adieu!--pity me--I must
not ask you a single question about--I must not write the name for ever
dear--What am I saying? where are my promises?--Adieu!--Adieu!

Your unhappy

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XVI.

MRS. C---- TO MISS B----.


July 16th.

As I have never thought it my duty in this mortal life to mourn for the
absurdities of my fellow-creatures, I should now enjoy the pleasure of
laughing at Lady Olivia, if my propensity were not checked by a serious
apprehension that she will injure Leonora's happiness. From the most
generous motives, dear Leonora is continually anxious to soothe her
mind, to persuade and reason her into common sense, to re-establish her
in public opinion, and to make her happy. But I am convinced that Lady
Olivia never will have common sense, and consequently never can be
happy. Twenty times a day I wish her at the antipodes, for I dread lest
Leonora should be implicated in her affairs, and involved in her misery.

Last night this foolish woman, who unluckily is graced with all the
power of words, poured forth a fine declamation in favour of divorce. In
vain Leonora reasoned, expostulated, blushed. Lady Olivia cannot blush
for herself; and though both Mr. L---- and I were present, she persisted
with that vehemence which betrays personal interest in an argument. I
suspect that she is going to try to obtain a divorce from her husband,
that she may marry her lover. Consider the consequences of this for
Leonora.--Leonora to be the friend of a woman who will risk the infamy
of a trial at Doctors' Commons! But Leonora says I am mistaken, and that
all this is only Olivia's way of talking. I wish then, that, if she does
not intend to act like a fool, she would not talk like one. I agree
with the gentleman who said that a woman who begins by playing the fool,
always ends by playing the devil. Even before me, though I certainly
never solicit her confidence, Lady Olivia talks with the most imprudent
openness of her love affairs; not, I think, from ingenuousness, but
from inability to restrain herself. Begin what subject of conversation I
will, as far from Cupid as possible, she will bring me back again to
him before I know where I am. She has no ideas but on this one subject.
Leonora, dear, kind-hearted Leonora, attributes this to the temporary
influence of a violent passion, which she assures me Olivia will
conquer, and that then all her great and good qualities will, as
if freed from enchantment, re-assume their natural vigour.
_Natural!_--there is nothing natural about this sophisticated lady. I
wish Leonora would think more of herself, and less of other people. As
to Lady Olivia's excessive sensibility, I have no faith in it. I do not
think either the lover or the passion so much to be feared for her, as
the want of a lover and the habit of thinking that it is necessary to be
in love. . . .

Yours affectionately,

HELEN C----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XVII.

GENERAL B---- TO MR. L----.


MY DEAR L----, Paris, Hôtel de Courlande,

When you ask a countryman in England the way to the next town, he
replies, "Where do you come from, master?" and till you have answered
this question, no information can you obtain from him. You ask me what I
know of Lady Olivia ----. What is your reason for asking? Till you have
answered this question, hope for no information from me. Seriously, Lady
Olivia had left Paris before I arrived, therefore you cannot have my
judgment of her ladyship, which I presume is all you could depend
upon. If you will take hearsay evidence, and if you wish me to speak to
general character, I can readily satisfy you. Common reputed, loud and
unanimous in favour of her talents, beauty, and fashion: there is no
resisting, I am told, the fascination of her manners and conversation;
_but_ her opinions are fashionably liberal, and her practice as liberal
as her theories. Since her separation from her husband, her lover
is publicly named. Some English friends plead in her favour platonic
attachment: this, like benefit of clergy, is claimed of course for
a first offence: but Lady Olivia's Parisian acquaintance are not so
scrupulous or so old-fashioned as to think it an offence; they call it
an _arrangement_, and to this there can be no objection. As a French
gentleman said to me the other day, with an unanswerable shrug, "Tout le
monde sait que R---- est son amant; d'ailleurs, c'est la femme la plus
aimable du monde."

As to Lady Olivia's friend, Mad. de P----, she sees a great deal of
company: her house is the resort of people of various descriptions;
ministers, foreigners, coquettes, and generals; in short, of all those
who wish, without scandal or suspicion, to intrigue either in love
or politics. Her assemblies are also frequented by a few of _l'ancien
régime_, who wish to be in favour with the present government. Mad.
de P----, of a noble family herself, and formerly much at court, has
managed matters so as to have regained all her husband's confiscated
property, and to have acquired much influence with some of the leading
men of the day. In her manners and conversation there is an odd mixture
of frivolity and address, of the airs of coquetry and the jargon of
sentiment. She has the politeness of a French Countess, with _exquisite_
knowledge of the world and of _les convenances_, joined to that freedom
of opinion which marks the present times. In the midst of all these
inconsistencies, it is difficult to guess what her real character may
be. At first sight I should pronounce her to be a silly woman, governed
by vanity and the whim of the moment: but those who know her better than
I do, believe her to be a woman of considerable talents, inordinately
fond of power, and uniformly intent upon her own interest, using
coquetry only as a means to govern our sex, and frivolity as a mask
for her ambition. In short, Mad. de P---- is a perfect specimen of the
combination of an _intrigante_ and an _élégante_, a combination often
found in Paris. Here women mingle politics and gallantry--men mix
politics and epicurism--which is the better mixture?

I have business of importance to my country to transact to-day,
_therefore_ I am going to dine with the modern Apicius. Excuse me, my
dear friend, if I cannot stay at present to answer your questions about
divorce. I must be punctual. What sort of a negotiator can he make who
is too late at a minister's dinner? Five minutes might change the face
of Europe.

Yours truly,

J. B.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XVIII.

MADAME DE P---- TO OLIVIA.


Paris.

My incomparable Olivia! your letters are absolutely divine. I am
_maussade_, I _vegetate_. I cannot be said to live the days when I do
not hear from you. Last Thursday I was disappointed of one of these dear
letters, and _Brave-et-tendre_ told me frankly, that I was so little
amiable he should not have known me.--As to the rest, pardon me for
not writing punctually: I have been really in a chaos of business and
pleasure, and I do not know which fatigues most. But I am obliged to
attend the ministers every day, for the sake of my friends.

A thousand and a thousand thanks for your pictures of your English
friends: sketches by a masterly hand must be valuable, whatever the
subject. I would rather have the pictures than the realities. Your Helen
and your Lady Leonora are too good for me, and I pity you from my soul
for being shut up in that old castle. I suppose it is like an old
castle in Dauphiny, where I once spent a week, and where I was nearly
frightened to death by the flapping of the old tapestry behind my bed,
and by the bats which flew in through the broken windows. They say,
however, that our _châteaux_ and yours are something different. Of this
I have no clear conception.

I send you three comforters in your prison--a billet-doux, a new novel,
and a pattern of my sandal: a billet-doux from R---- says every thing
for itself; but I must say something for the new novel. Zenobie, which
I now send you, is the declared rival of Seraphin. Parties have run high
on both sides, and applications were made and inuendoes discovered, and
wit and sentiment came to close combat; and, as usual, people talked
till they did not understand themselves. For a fortnight, wherever
one went, the first words to be heard on entering every _salon_
were Seraphine and Zenobie.--Peace or war.--Mlle. Georges and Mlle.
Duchesnois were nothing to Seraphine and Zenobie. For Heaven's sake tell
me which you prefer! But I fear they will be no more talked of before I
have your answer. To say the truth, I am tired of both heroines, for a
fortnight is too long to talk or think of any one thing.

I flatter myself you will like my sandals: they are my own invention,
and my foot really shows them to advantage. You know I might say, as
Du P----said of himself, "J'ai un pied dont la petitesse échappe à la
vitesse de la pensée." I thought my poor friend Mad. Dumarais would
have died with envy, the other day, when I appeared in them at her ball,
which, by-the-bye, was in all its decorations as absurd and in as bad
taste as usual. For the most part these _nouveaux riches_ lavish money,
but can never purchase taste or a sense of propriety. All is gold: but
that is not enough; or rather that is too much. In spite of all that
both the Indies, China, Arabia, Egypt, and even Paris can do for them,
they will be ever out of place, in the midst of their magnificence: they
will never even know how to ruin themselves nobly. They must live and
die as they were born, ridiculous. Now I would rather not exist than
feel myself ridiculous. But I believe no one living, not even le petit
d'Heronville, knows himself to be an object of ridicule. There are no
looking-glasses for the mind, and I question whether we should use them
if there were. D'Heronville is just as you left him, and as much my
amusement as he used to be yours. He goes on with an eternal galimatias
of patriotism, with such a self-sufficient air and decided tone! never
suspecting that he says only what other people make him say, and that he
is listened to, only to find out what _some people_ think. Many will
say before fools, what they would not hazard before wise men; not
considering that fools can repeat as well as parrots. I once heard a
great man remark, that the only spies fit to be trusted are those who do
not know themselves to be such; who have no salary but what their vanity
pays them, and who are employed without being accredited.

But trève de politique!--My charming Olivia, I know, abhors politics, as
much as I detest metaphysics, from all lips or pens but hers. Now I must
tell you something of your friends here.

O---- talks nonsense as agreeably as ever, and dances as divinely. 'Tis
a pity he cannot always dance, for then he would not ruin himself at
play. He wants me to get him a regiment--as if I had any power!--or
as if I would use it for this purpose, when I knew that my interesting
friend Mad. Q----would break her poor little heart if he were to quit
her.

_Mon Coeur_ is as pretty as ever; but she is now in affliction. She
has lost her dear little dog Corisonde. He died suddenly; almost in her
arms! She will erect a monument to him in her charming _jardin Anglois_.
This will occupy her, and then "Time, the comforter"--Inimitable
Voltaire!

Our dear _Brillante_ has just had a superb _hommage_ from her lover
the commissary--a necklace and bracelets of the finest; pearls: but she
cannot wear them yet: her brother having died last week, she is in
deep mourning. This brother was not upon good terms with her. He never
forgave the divorce. He thought it a disgrace to have a sister _une
divorcée_; but he was full of prejudice, poor man, and he is dead, and
we need think no more of him or of his faults.

Our ci-devant chanoine, who married that little Meudon, is as miserable
as possible, and as ridiculous: for he is jealous of his young wife,
and she is a _franche-coquette_. The poor man looks as if he repented
sincerely of his errors. What a penitent a coquette can make of a
husband! Bourdaloue and Massillon would have tried their powers on this
man's heart in vain.

Did I tell you that Mad. G---- is a second time divorced? But this time
it is her husband's doing, not hers. This handsome husband has spent
all the immense fortune she brought him, and now procures a divorce for
_incompatibility of temper_, and is going to marry another lady, richer
than Mad. G----, and as great a fool. This system of divorce, though
convenient, is not always advantageous to women. However, in one point
of view, I wonder that the rigid moralists do not defend it, as the only
means of making a man in love with his own wife. A man divorces; the law
does not permit him to marry the same woman afterwards; of course
this prohibition makes him fall in love with her. Of this we have many
edifying examples besides Fanchette, who, though she was so beautiful,
and a tolerable actress, would never have drawn all Paris to the
Vaudeville if she had not been a _divorcée_, and if it had not been
known that her husband, who played the lover of the piece, was dying
to marry her again. Apropos, Mad. St. Germain is acting one of her own
romances, in the high sublime style, and threatens to poison herself for
love of her perjured inconstant--but it will not do.

Madame _la Grande_ was near having a sad accident the other night: in
crossing the Pont-neuf her horses took fright; for there was a crowd
and _embarras_, a man having just drowned himself--not for love, but
for hunger. How many men, women, and children, do you think drowned
themselves in the Seine last year? Upwards of two hundred. This is
really shocking, and a stop should be put to it by authority. It
absolutely makes me shudder and reflect; but _après nous le déluge_ was
La Pompadour's maxim, and should be ours.

Mad. Folard _se coiffe en cheveux_, and Mad. Rocroix crowns herself with
roses, whilst all the world knows that either of them is old enough
to be my mother. In former days a woman could not wear flowers after
thirty, and was _bel esprit_ or _dévote_ at forty, for it was thought
bad taste to do otherwise. But now every body may be as young as they
please, or as ridiculous. Women have certainly gained by the new order
of things.

Our poor friend _Vermeille_ se meurt de la poitrine--a victim to tea and
late hours. She is an interesting creature, and my heart bleeds for her:
she will never last till winter.

Do you know, it is said, we shall soon have no wood to burn. What can
have become of all our forests? People should inquire after them. The
Venus de Medici has at last found her way down the Seine. It is not
determined yet where to place her: but she is at Paris, and that is a
great point gained for her. You complained that the Apollo stands with
his back so near the wall, that there is no seeing half the beauties of
his shoulders. If I have any influence, Venus shall not be so served. I
have been to see her. She is certainly divine--but not French. I do not
despair of seeing her surpassed by our artists.

Adieu, my adorable Olivia. I should have finished my letter yesterday;
but when I came home in the morning, expecting to have a moment sacred
to you and friendship, whom should I find established in an arm-chair in
my cabinet but our old Countess _Cidevant_. There was no retreat for
me. In the midst of my concentrated rage, I was obliged to advance and
embrace her, and there was an end of happiness for the day. The pitiless
woman kept me till it was even too late to dress, talking over her
family misfortunes; as if they were any thing to me. She wants to get
her son employed, but her pride will not let her pay her court properly,
and she wants me to do it for her. Not I, truly. I should shut my doors
against her but for the sake of her nephew _le roué_, who is really a
pretty young man. My angel, I embrace you tenderly.

GABRIELLE DE P----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XIX.

OLIVIA TO MADAME DE P----.


How melancholy to a feeling heart is the moment when illusion vanishes,
whether that illusion has been created by the magic of love or of
friendship! How many such moments, Gabrielle, has your unfortunate
friend been doomed to endure! Alas! when will treacherous fancy cease to
throw a deceitful brilliancy upon each new object!

Perhaps I am too delicate--but R----'s note, enclosed in your last, my
Gabrielle, was unlike his former letters. It was not passionate, it was
only reasonable. A man who can reason is no longer in love. The manner
in which he speaks of divorce shocked me beyond expression. Is it for
him to talk of scruples when upon this subject I have none? I own to you
that my pride and my tenderness are sensibly wounded. Is it for him to
convince me that I am in the wrong? I shall not be at ease till I
hear from you again, my amiable friend: for my residence here becomes
insupportable. But a few short weeks are past since I fancied Leonora an
angel, and now she falls below the ordinary standard of mortals. But
a few short weeks are past since, in the full confidence of finding in
Leonora a second self, a second Gabrielle, I eagerly developed to her my
inmost soul; yet now my heart closes, I fear never more to open. The sad
conviction, that we have but few ideas, and no feelings in common,
stops my tongue when I attempt to speak, chills my heart when I begin to
listen.

Do you know, my Gabrielle, I have discovered that Leonora is
inordinately selfish? For all other faults I have charity; but
selfishness, which has none to give, must expect none. O divine
sensibility, defend me from this isolation of the heart! All thy
nameless sorrows, all thy heart-rending tortures, would I a thousand
times rather endure. Leonora's selfishness breaks out perpetually; and,
alas! it is of the most inveterate, incurable kind: every thing that is
immediately or remotely connected with self she loves, and loves with
the most provoking pertinacity. Her mother, her husband, she adores,
because they are her own; and even her sister's children, because she
considers them, she says, as her own. All and every possible portion
of self she cherishes with the most sordid partiality. All that touches
these relations touches her; and every thing which is theirs, or, in
other words, which is hers, she deems excellent and sacred. Last night I
just hazarded a word of ridicule upon some of the obsolete prejudices
of that august personage, that Duchess of old tapestry, her still living
ancestor. I wish, Gabrielle, you had seen Leonora's countenance. Her
colour rose up to her temples, her eyes lightened with indignation,
and her whole person assumed a dignity, which might have killed a
presumptuous lover, or better far, might have enslaved him for life.
What folly to waste all this upon such an occasion! But selfishness
is ever blind to its real interests. Leonora is so bigoted to this old
woman, that she is already in mind an old woman herself. She fancies
that she traces a resemblance to her mother, and of course to dear self
in her infant, and she looks upon it with such doting eyes, and talks
to it with such exquisite tones of fondness, as are to me, who know
the source from which they proceed, quite ridiculous and disgusting. An
infant, who has no imaginable merit, and, to impartial eyes, no charms,
she can love to this excess from no motive but pure _egotism_. Then
her husband--but this subject I must reserve for another letter. I am
summoned to walk with him this moment.

Adieu, charming Gabrielle,

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XX.

GENERAL B---- TO MR. L----.


MY DEAR L----, Paris, 180--.

Enclosed I send you, according to your earnest desire, Cambacérès'
reflections upon the intended new law of divorce. Give me leave to ask
why you are so violently interested upon this occasion? Do you envy
France this blessing? Do you wish that English husbands and wives should
have the power of divorcing each other at pleasure for _incompatibility
of temper_? And have you calculated the admirable effect this would
produce upon the temper both of the weaker and the stronger sex? To bear
and forbear would then be no longer necessary. Every happy pair might
quarrel and part at a moment's notice--at a year's notice at most. And
their children? The wisdom of Solomon would be necessary to settle the
just division of the children. I have this morning been attending a
court of law to hear a famous trial between two husbands: the
abdicated lord a ci-devant noble, and the reigning husband a ci-devant
grand-vicaire, who has _reformed_. Each party claimed a right to the
children by the first marriage, for the children were minors entitled to
large fortunes. The _reformed_ grand-vicaire pleaded his own cause with
astonishing assurance, amidst the discountenancing looks, murmurs, and
almost amidst the groans of disapprobation from the majority of the
auditors. His powers of impudence, however, failed him at last. I sat
on the bench behind him, and saw that his ears had the grace to blush.
After another hearing, this cause, which had lasted four years, was
decided; and the first husband and real father was permitted to have the
guardianship of his own children. During the four years' litigation,
the friends of the parties, from the grandmother downwards, were all
at irreconcileable variance. What became of the children all this time?
Their mother was represented during the trial as she deserved to be, as
a wretch void of shame and gratitude. The father was universally pitied,
though his rival painted him as a coward, who during the revolution had
left his children to save himself by flight; and as a fool, who had
left his wife to the care of a profligate grand-vicaire. Divorce is not
countenanced by opinion in Paris, though permitted by law. With a few
exceptions in extraordinary cases, I have observed that _les divorcées_
are not received into good society.

To satiate your curiosity, I send you all the papers that have
been written lately on this subject, of which you will find that of
Cambacérès the best. The wits say that he is an impartial judge. I
presume you want these pamphlets for some foolish friend; for yourself
you can never want them, blessed as you are with such a wife as Lady
Leonora L--. I am not surprised that profligate men should wish for
freedom of divorce, because it would save them damages in Doctors'
Commons: but you rather astonish me--if a wise man should be astonished
at any thing in these days--by assuring me that you have lately heard
this system eloquently defended by a female philosopher. What can women
expect from it but contempt? Next to polygamy, it would prove the most
certain method of destroying the domestic happiness of the sex, as well
as their influence and respectability in society. But some of the dear
creatures love to talk of what they do not understand, and usually show
their eloquence to the greatest advantage, by taking the wrong side of a
question.

Yours truly,

J. B.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XXI.

OLIVIA TO MADAME DE P----.


L---- Castle.

From selfishness to jealousy there is but one step, or rather there is
none; for jealousy of a certain sort is but selfishness in another form.
How different this passion as I have felt it, and as I see it shown! In
some characters it is the symptom of amiable and exquisite sensibility;
in others of odious coldness and contraction of heart. In some of our
sex it is, you know, my Gabrielle, a delicate fear, a tender anxiety,
a proof of ardent passion; in others it is a mere love of power, a
disgusting struggle for the property of a heart, an absurd assertion of
rights and prerogatives. Surely no prejudice of education or institution
can be more barbarous than that which teaches a wife that she has an
indefeasible and exclusive right both to the affections and the fidelity
of her husband. I am astonished to hear it avowed by any woman who has
the slightest pretensions to delicacy of sentiment, or liberality of
mind. I should expect to find this vulgar prejudice only among the
downright dames, who talk of _my good man_, and lay a particular
emphasis on the possessive pronoun _my_; who understand literally,
and expect that their spouses should adhere punctually to every coarse
article of our strange marriage vow.

In certain points of view, my Gabrielle, jealousy is undoubtedly the
strongest proof of an indelicate mind. Yet, if I mistake not, the
delicate, the divine Leonora, is liable to this terrestrial passion.
Yesterday evening, as I was returning from a _stroll_ in the park with
Mr. L----, we met Leonora; and methought she looked embarrassed at
meeting us. Heaven knows there was not the slightest occasion for
embarrassment, and I could not avoid being surprised at such weakness, I
had almost said folly, in a woman of Leonora's sense, especially as she
knows how my heart is attached. In the first moments of our intimacy my
confidence was unbounded, as it ever is in those I love. Aware as I was
of the light in which the prejudices of her education and her country
make her view such connexions, yet I scrupled not, with the utmost
candour, to confess the unfortunate attachment which had ruled my
destiny. After this confidence, do not suspicion and jealousy on her
part appear strange? Were Mr. L---- and I shut up for life in the same
prison, were we left together upon a desert island, were we alone in the
universe, I could never think of him. And Leonora does not see this! How
the passions obscure and degrade the finest understandings! But perhaps
I do her injustice, and she felt nothing of what her countenance
expressed. It is certain, however, that she was silent for some moments
after she joined us, from what cause she knows best--so was Mr. L----,
I suppose from English awkwardness--so was I, from pure astonishment. At
length, in pity of Leonora, I broke the silence. I had recourse to the
beauties of nature.

"What a heavenly evening!" said I. "We have been listening to the songs
of the birds, enjoying this fresh breeze of nature's perfumes." Leonora
said something about the superiority of nature's perfumes to those of
art; and observed, "how much more agreeable the smell of flowers appears
in the open air than in confined rooms!" Whilst she spoke she looked
at her husband, as she continually does for assent and approbation. He
assented, but apparently without knowing what he was saying; and only by
one of his English monosyllables. I alone was at ease.

"Can any thing be more beautiful," continued I, looking back, "than the
soft mellow foliage of those woods, and the exquisite tints of their
rich colouring? What delicious melancholy such an evening spreads over
the heart!--what reflections!--what recollections!--Oh, Leonora, look at
the lights upon that mountain, and the deep shadows upon the lake
below. Just such scenes have I admired, by such have I been entranced in
Switzerland."

Leonora put her arm within mine--she seemed to have no objection to
my thoughts going back to Switzerland--I sighed--she pressed my hand
affectionately--I wiped the starting tear from my eye. Mr. L---- looked
at me with something like surprise whilst I repeated involuntarily,

 "I mourn, but, ye woodlands, I mourn not for you,
  For morn is approaching your charms to restore,
  Perfumed with fresh fragrance, and glitt'ring with dew."

I paused, recollecting myself, struck with _the ridicule_ of repeating
verses, and of indulging feelings in which no one perhaps sympathized.

"Those are beautiful lines," said Leonora: "that poem has always been a
favourite of mine."

"And of mine, also," said Mr. L----.

"I prefer Beattie's Hermit to all other hermits," said Leonora.

I was not in a mood calmly to discuss with her a point of criticism--I
walked on in reverie: but in this I was not allowed to indulge. Mr.
L----asked if I could not recollect some more of the Hermit--I pleaded
the worst memory in the world--a memory that can never recollect any
poem perfectly by rote, only the touches of genius or sensibility that
strike me--and those are so few!

"But in this poem there are so many," said Leonora. I am sure she
insisted only to please her husband, and pleaded against her real
feelings, purposely to conceal them. He persisted in his request, with
more warmth than usual. I was compelled to rouse myself from my reverie,
and to call back my distant thoughts. I repeated all that I could
recollect of the poem. Mr. L---- paid me a profusion of compliments upon
the sweetness of my voice, and my taste in reciting. He was pleased
to find that my manner and tones gave an Italian expression to English
poetry, which to him was a peculiar charm. It reminded him of some
Signora, whom he had known at Florence. This was the first time I had
learned that he had been abroad. I was going to explore the foreign
field of conversation which he thus opened; but just at that moment
Leonora withdrew her arm from mine, and I fancied that she coloured.
This might be only my fancy, or the natural effect of her stooping to
gather a flower. We were now within sight of the castle. I pointed to
one of the turrets over a Gothic window, upon which the gleams of the
setting sun produced a picturesque effect; my glove happened to be off,
and Leonora unluckily saw that her husband's eyes were fixed upon my
arm, instead of the turret to which I was pointing. 'Twas a trifle which
I never should have noticed, had she not forced it upon my attention.
She actually turned pale. I had the presence of mind not to put on my
glove.

I must observe more accurately; I must decide whether this angelic
Leonora is, or is not susceptible of the mortal passion ycleped
jealousy. I confess my curiosity is awakened.

Adieu, my ever amiable Gabrielle. OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XXII.

OLIVIA TO MADAME DE P----.


When the passions are asleep we are apt to fancy they are dead. I verily
thought that curiosity was dead within me, it had lain so long dormant,
while stronger and tenderer sentiments waked in full activity; but
now that absence and distance from their object lull them to temporary
repose, the vulgar subordinate passions are roused, and take their
turn to reign. My curiosity was so strongly excited upon the subject of
Leonora's jealousy, that I could not rest, without attempting to obtain
satisfaction. Blame me not, dearest Gabrielle, for in my situation you
would inevitably have done the same, only that you would have done it
with more address; with that peculiar, inimitable address, which I envy
above all your accomplishments. But address is a delicate native of
France, and though it may now and then exist as a stranger, I doubt
whether it can ever be naturalized in our rude climate. All the attempts
I have made are, however, encouraging enough--you shall judge. My object
was, to ascertain the existence or non-existence of Leonora's jealousy.
I set about it with a tolerably careless assurance, and followed up the
hint which accident had thrown out for my ingenuity to work upon. You
remember, or at least I remember, that Leonora withdrew her arm from
mine, and stooped to gather a flower at the moment when her husband
mentioned Florence, and the resemblance of my voice to that of some
Italian charmer. The next day I happened to play some of my sweetest
Italian airs, and to accompany them with my voice. The music-room opens
into the great hall: Leonora and her husband were in the hall, talking
to some visitors. The voices were soon hushed, as I expected, by the
magic sounds, but, what I did not expect, Leonora was the first who
led the way into the music-room. Was this affectation? These _simple_
characters sometimes baffle all the art of the decipherer. I should
have been clear that it was affectation, had Leonora been prodigal of
compliments on my performance; but she seemed only to listen for her own
pleasure, and left it to Mr. L---- to applaud. Whilst I was preparing to
play over again the air which pleased him most, the two little nephews
came running to beg Leonora would follow them to look at some trifle,
some coloured shadow, upon the garden-wall, I think they said: she
let them lead her off, leaving _us_ together. This did not seem like
jealousy. I was more at a loss than ever, and determined to make fresh
and more decisive experiments. Curiosity, you know, is heightened by
doubt. To cure myself of curiosity, it is necessary therefore to put my
mind out of doubt. Admire the practical application of metaphysics! But
metaphysics always make you yawn. Adieu for to-day.

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XXIII.

MRS. C---- TO MISS B----.


L---- Castle.

Dear Margaret, an uncle of mine, who, ever since I can remember, seemed
to me cut out for an old bachelor, writes me word that he is just going
to be married, and that I must grace his nuptials. I cannot refuse, for
he has always been very kind to me, and we have no right to cut
people out for old bachelors. That I am sorry to leave Leonora, it
is superfluous to tell you; but this is the melancholy part of the
business, on which I make it a principle to dwell as little as possible.

Lady Olivia must be heartily glad that I am going, for I have been
terribly troublesome to her by my gaiety and my _simplicity_. I shall
lose all the pleasure I had promised myself in seeing the _dénouement_
of the comedy of _The Sentimental Coquette_; or, _The Heroine unmasked_.

I made Leonora almost angry with me this morning, by a hint or two I
gave upon this subject. She looked so very grave, that I was afraid of
my own thoughts, and I dared not explain myself farther. Intimate as I
am with her, there are points on which I am sure that she would never
make me her confidante. I think that she has not been in her usual good
spirits lately; and though she treats Olivia with uniform kindness,
and betrays not, even to my watchful eyes, the slightest symptom of
jealousy, yet I suspect that she sees what is going forward, and she
suffers in secret. Now, if she would let me explain myself, I could
set her heart at ease, by the assurance that Mr. L---- is only acting
a part. If her affection for her husband did not almost blind her, she
would have as much penetration as I have--which you will allow, my dear
Margaret, is saying a great deal.

Yours affectionately,

HELEN C----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XXIV.

OLIVIA TO MADAME DE P----.


L---- Castle.

Congratulate me, my charming Gabrielle, upon being delivered from
the unfeeling gaiety of that friend of Leonora, that Helen of whom I
formerly sent you a too flattering portrait. Her departure relieves me
from many painful sensations. Dissonance to a musical ear is not
more horrid, than want of harmony between characters, to the soul of
sensibility. Between Helen and me there was a perpetual discord of ideas
and sentiments, which fatigued me inexpressibly. Besides, I began to
consider her as a spy upon my actions. But there, I believe, I did her
injustice, for she was too much occupied with her own trifling thoughts
to have any alarming powers of observation.

Since her departure we have been very gay. Yesterday we had a large
company at dinner; some of the neighbouring families, whom I expected to
find mere country visitors, that were come a dozen miles to show their
antediluvian finery, retire half an hour after dinner, spoil coffee with
cream, say nothing, but at their appointed hours rise, ring for their
superb carriages, and go home by moonlight. However, to my astonishment,
I found myself in a society of well-bred, well-informed persons; the
women ready to converse, and the men, even after dinner, not impatient
to get rid of them. Two or three of the company had travelled, and I was
glad to talk to them of Italy, Switzerland, and France. Mr. L---- I knew
would join in this conversation. I discovered that he came to Florence
just as I was leaving it. I was to have been at our ambassador's one
evening when he was there; but a headache prevented me. These little
coincidences, you know, my Gabrielle, draw people closer together. I
remember to have heard of a Mr. L---- at Florence, who was a passionate
admirer of our sex. He was then unmarried. I little thought that this
was the same person. Beneath a cold exterior these Englishmen often
conceal a wondrous quantity of enthusiasm--volcanoes under snow.
Curiosity, dear indefatigable curiosity, supported me through the
labour of clearing away the snow, and I came to indubitable traces of
unextinguished and unextinguishable fire. The character of L---- is
quite different from what I had imagined it to be. It is an _excellent
study_. We had a long and interesting conversation upon national
manners, especially upon those of the females of all nations. He
concluded by quoting the words of your friend M. le Vicomte de Segur,
"If I were permitted to choose, I should prefer a French woman for
my friend, an English woman for my wife, and a Polish lady for my
mistress."

From this, it seems, that I am mistaken about the Italian signora,
or else Mr. L---- has an enlarged charity for the graces of all
nations.--More subject for curiosity.

In the evening, before the company separated, we were standing on the
steps of the great hall, looking at a fine effect of moonlight, and I
pointed out the shadow of the arches of a bridge. From moonlight we went
on to lamplight, and many pretty things were said about art and nature.
A gentleman, who had just returned from Paris, talked of the reflection
of the lamps in the Seine, which one sees in crossing the Pont-Royal,
and which, as he said, appear like a colonnade of fire. As soon as he
had finished _prosing_ about his colonnade, I turned to Mr. L----, and
asked if he remembered the account which Coxe the traveller gives of
the Polish princess Czartoryski's charming _fête champêtre_ and the
illuminated rustic bridge of one arch, the reflection of which in the
water was so strong as to deceive the eye, and to give the whole the
appearance of a brilliant circle suspended in the air. Mr. L---- seemed
enchanted with my description, and eagerly said that he would some night
have a bridge in his improvements, illuminated, that _we_ (half-gallant
Englishman!) might see the effect. I carelessly replied, that probably
it would have a good effect: I would then have talked on other subjects
to the lady next me: but an Englishman cannot suddenly change the course
of his conversation. Mr. L---- still persisted in asking a variety of
questions about this Polish fête. I excused myself; for if you satisfy
curiosity you are no longer sublime; besides it is so pedantic to
remember _accurately_ any thing one meets with in books. I assured him
that I had forgotten the particulars.

My countrymen are wondrous persevering, when once roused. This morning,
when I came down to breakfast, I found Mr. L---- with a volume of Coxe's
travels in his hand. He read aloud to Leonora the whole description of
the illuminated gardens, and of a Turkish tent of curious workmanship,
and of a pavilion, supported by pillars, ornamented with wreaths of
flowers. Leonora's birthday is some time in the next month; and her
husband, probably to prevent any disagreeable little feelings, proposed
that the _fête champêtre_, he designed to give, should be on that day.
She seemed rather to discourage the thing. Now to what should this
indifference be attributed? To jealousy I should positively decide, but
that two reasons oppose this idea, and keep me in doubt. She was not
within hearing at the moonlight conference, and knew nothing of my
having mentioned the Polish fête, or of her husband's having proposed
to illuminate the bridge for me. Besides, I remember, the other day when
she was reading the new French novel you sent me, she expressed great
dislike to the sentimental fêtes, which the lover prepares for his
mistress. I would give more than I dare tell you, my dear Gabrielle, to
be able to decide whether she is jealous of me or not. But where was I?
Mr. L----, who had set his heart upon the _fête champêtre_, persisted,
and combatted her antipathy by reason. Foolish man! he should have tried
compliments, or caresses--if I had not been present.

"My dear Leonora," said he, "I think you carry your dislike to these
things too far. They are more according to the French than to the
English taste, I know; but we should not be influenced by national
prejudice. I detest the ostentation and the affectation of sentiment
as much as you can; but where the real feeling exists, every mode of
showing kindness is agreeable. You must let us have this little fête on
your birthday. Besides the pleasure it will give me, I really think it
is useful to mix ideas of affection with amusement."

She smiled most graciously, and replied, that she would with pleasure
accept of kindness in any form from him. In short, she was willing to
have the fête, when it was clearly explained that she was to be the
object of it. Is not this proof positive of jealousy? And yet my
curiosity is not thoroughly satisfied. I must go on; for Leonora's sake
I must go on. When I have been assured of the truth, I shall know how
to conduct myself; and you, who know my heart, will do me the justice to
believe, that when I am convinced of my friend's weakness, I shall spare
it with the most delicate caution: but till I am convinced, I am in
perpetual danger of blundering by my careless, inadvertent innocence.
You smile, Gabrielle; dear malicious Gabrielle, even in your malice you
are charming! Adieu! Pray for the speedy extinction of my curiosity.

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XXV.

LEONORA TO HER MOTHER.


You say, my dearest mother, that of late, my letters have been more
constrained and less cheerful than usual, and you conjure me not to
conceal from you any thing which may concern my happiness. I have ever
found you my best and most indulgent friend, and there is not a thought
or feeling of my mind, however weak or foolish, that I desire to conceal
from you. No one in this world is more--is so much interested in
my happiness; and, in every doubtful situation, I have always been
accustomed to apply to your unerring judgment for assistance. Your
strength of mind, your enlightened affection, would support and direct
me, would at once show me how I ought to act, and inspire me with
courage and fortitude sufficient to be worthy of your esteem and of
my own. At no period of my life, not even when my heart first felt the
confused sensations of a passion that was new to it, did I ever want or
wish for a friend so much as at this instant: and yet I hesitate whether
I ought to ask even your advice, whether I ought to indulge myself in
speaking of my feelings even to my mother. I refrained from giving the
slightest intimation of them to my dear Helen, though she often led to
this subject, and seemed vexed by my reserve. I thought it not right
to accept of her sympathy. From her kindness I had every consolation
to expect, but no assistance from her counsels, because she does not
understand Mr. L----'s character, and I could plainly perceive that she
had an erroneous idea so fixed in her fancy, as to prevent her seeing
things in their true light. I am afraid of imputing blame where I most
wish to avoid it: I fear to excite unjust suspicions; I dread that if I
say the whole, you will imagine that I mean much more than I say.

I have not been quite well lately, and my mind probably is more apt
to be alarmed than it would be, if my health were stronger. All that I
apprehend, may exist merely in my own distempered imagination. Do not
then suppose others are to blame, when perhaps I only am in fault. I
have for some time past been dissatisfied with myself, and have had
reason to be so: I do not say this from any false humility; I despise
that affectation; but I say it with a sincere desire that you may assist
me to cure myself of a weakness, which, if it were to grow upon my mind,
must render me miserable, and might destroy the happiness of the person
I love best upon earth. You know that I am not naturally or habitually
of a suspicious temper, but I am conscious of having lately felt a
disposition to jealousy. I have been spoiled by the excessive attention,
which my husband paid to me in the first year of our marriage.

You warned me not to fancy that he could continue always a lover. I
did not, at least I tried not to expect such an impossibility. I was
prepared for the change, at least I thought I was: yet now the time, the
inevitable time is come, and I have not the fortitude to bear it as I
ought. If I had never known what it was to possess his love, I might
perhaps be content with his friendship. If I could feel only friendship
for him, I should now, possibly, be happy. I know that I have the first
place in his esteem: I do believe--I should be miserable indeed if I
did not believe--that I have the first place in his affection. But this
affection is certainly different from what it once was. I wish I could
forget the difference. No: I retract that wish; however painful the
comparison, the recollection of times that are past is delightful to my
heart. Yet, my dear mother, if such times are never to return, it would
be better for me to forget that they have ever been. It would be wiser
not to let my imagination recur to the past, which could then tend only
to render me discontented with the present and with the future. The
FUTURE! how melancholy that word sounds to me! What a dreary length of
prospect it brings to my view! How young I am, how many years may I have
to live, and how little motive have I left in life! Those which used to
act most forcibly upon me, have now scarcely power to move my mind. The
sense of duty, it is true, raises me to some degree of exertion; I hope
that I do not neglect the education of the two children whom my poor
sister bequeathed to my care. When my mind was at ease they were my
delight; but now I feel that I am rather interrupted than interested by
their childish gaiety and amusements.

I am afraid that I am growing selfish, and I am sure that I have become
shamefully indolent. I go on with certain occupations every day from
habit, not from choice; my mind is not in them. I used to flatter myself
that I did many things, from a sense of duty and of general benevolence,
which I am convinced were done merely from a particular wish to please,
and to make myself more and more beloved by the object of my fondest
affection. Disappointed in this hope, I sink into indolence, from which
the desire to entertain my friends is not sufficient to rouse me. Helen
has been summoned away; but I believe I told you that Mr. and Mrs.
F----, whose company is peculiarly agreeable to my taste, and Lady M----
and her amiable daughters, and your witty friend ----, are with us. In
such society I am ashamed of being stupid; yet I cannot contribute to
the amusement of the company, and I feel surprised at their animation
and sprightliness. It seems as if I was looking on at dances, without
hearing any music. Sometimes I fear that my silence should be observed,
and then I begin to talk, without well knowing what I am saying. I
confine myself to the most common-place subjects, and hesitate, from the
dread of saying something quite foreign to the purpose. What must Mr.
L---- think of my stupidity? But he does not, I believe, perceive it: he
is so much occupied with--with other objects. I am glad that he does not
see all that passes in my mind, for he might despise me if he knew that
I am so miserable. I did not mean to use so strong an expression;
but now it is written, I will not blot it out, lest you should fancy
something worse than the reality. I am not, however, yet so weak as to
be seriously _miserable_ when I have no real cause to be so. The truth
is ----. Now you know this phrase is a tacit confession that all that
has been said before is false. The real truth is ----. By my prefacing
so long you may be sure that I have reason to be ashamed of this
real truth's coming out. The real truth is, that I have been so long
accustomed to be the first and _only_ object of Mr. L----'s thoughts,
that I cannot bear to see him think of any thing else. Yes, _things_
I can bear; but not _persons_--female persons; and there is one person
here, who is so much more agreeable and entertaining than I am, that she
engrosses very naturally almost all his attention. I am not _envious_,
I am sure; for I could once admire all Lady Olivia's talents and
accomplishments, and no one could be more charmed than I was, with her
fascinating manners and irresistible powers of pleasing; but when those
irresistible powers may rob me of the heart of my beloved husband--of
the whole happiness of my life--how can I admire them? All I can promise
is to preserve my mind from the meanness of suspicion. I can do my rival
justice. I can believe, and entreat you to believe, that she does not
wish to be my rival: that she is perfectly innocent of all design to
injure me, and that she is not aware of the impression she has made. I,
who know every change of Mr. L----'s countenance, every inflexion of
his voice, every turn of his mind, can see too plainly what she
cannot discern. I should indeed have thought, that no woman, whom he
distinguished or preferred in any degree, could avoid perceiving it, his
manner is so expressive, so flattering; but perhaps this appears so only
to me--a woman, who does not love him, may see things very differently.
Lady Olivia can be in no danger, because her heart, fortunately for
me, is prepossessed in favour of another; and a woman whose heart is
occupied by one object is absolutely blind, as I well know, to all
others. With this security I ought to be satisfied; for I believe no one
inspires a lasting passion, without sharing it.

I am summoned to give my opinion about certain illuminations and
decorations for a _fête champêtre_ which Mr. L---- is so kind as to
give in honour of my birthday--just at the time I am complaining of his
neglect!--No, dear mother, I hope I have not complained of _him_, but
of _myself_:--and it is your business to teach your daughter to be more
reasonable. Write soon and fully to

Your affectionate

LEONORA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XXVI.

OLIVIA TO MADAME DE P----.


This fine _fête champêtre_ is over.--Expect no description of it from
me, Gabrielle, for I am horribly out of humour. The whole pleasure of
the evening was destroyed by the most foolish circumstance imaginable.
Leonora's jealousy is now evident to more eyes than mine. No farther
doubt upon the subject can remain. My curiosity is satisfied; but I am
now left to reproach myself, for having gone so far to ascertain what
I ought to have taken for granted. All these good English wives are
jealous; so jealous, that no one, who has any pretensions to beauty,
wit, or _amiability_, can live with them. They can have no _society_
in our sense of the word; of course they must live shut up in their own
dismal houses, with their own stupid families, the faithful husband
and wife sitting opposite to each other in their own chimney corners,
yawning models of constancy. And this they call virtue! How the meanest
vices usurp the name of virtue! Leonora's is a jealousy of the most
illiberal and degrading species; a jealousy of the temper, not of the
heart. She is too cold to feel the passion of love.--She never could
be in love; of that I am certain. She is too reasonable, too prudish.
Besides, to imagine that she could be in love with her own husband,
and after eighteen months' marriage--the thing is absurd! the thing is
impossible! No, she deceives herself or him, or both, if she pretends
that her jealousy arises from love, from what you and I, Gabrielle,
understand by the word. Passion, and passion only, can plead a just
excuse of its own excesses. Were Leonora in love, I could pardon her
jealousy. But now I despise it. Yes, with all her high reputation, and
_imposing_ qualities, I must think of her with contempt. And now that
I have given vent to my feelings, with that freedom in which I ever
indulge myself in writing to you, my amiable Gabrielle, chosen friend
of my heart, I will compose myself, and give you a rational account of
things.

You know that I am said to have some taste. Leonora makes no pretensions
to any. Wishing, I suppose, that her fête should be as elegant as
possible, she consulted me about all the arrangements and decorations.
It was I that did every thing. My skill and taste were admired by the
whole company, and especially by Mr. L----. He was in remarkably good
spirits at the commencement of the evening; quite gay and gallant:
he certainly paid me a great deal of attention, and it was natural he
should; for besides being his guest, I was undoubtedly the most elegant
woman present. My fame had gone abroad; I found that I was the object of
general attention. To this I have been tolerably well accustomed all
my life; enough at least to prevent me from giving any visible sign
of being moved by admiration in whatever form it comes; whether in the
polite foreign glance, or the broad English stare. The starers enjoyed
their pleasure, and I mine: I moved and talked, I smiled or was pensive,
as though I saw them not; nevertheless the homage of their gaze was not
lost upon me. You know, my charming Gabrielle, one likes to observe
the _sensation_ one produces amongst new people. The incense that I
perceived in the surrounding atmosphere was just powerful enough
to affect my nerves agreeably: that languor which you have so
often reproached me for indulging in the company of what we call
_indifferents_ gradually dissipated; and, as poor R---- used to say of
me, I came from behind my cloud like the sun in all its glory. I
was such as you have seen me, Gabrielle, in my best days, in my best
moments, in my very best style. I wonder what would excite me to such
a waste of powers. L---- seemed inspired too: he really was quite
agreeable, and showed me off almost as well as R---- himself could have
done. I had no idea that he had this species of talent. You will never
know of what my countrymen are capable, for you are out of patience with
the statues the first half hour: now it takes an amazing time to animate
them; but they can be waked into life, and I have a pride in conquering
difficulties.--There were more men this night, in proportion to the
women, than one usually sees in English company, consequently it
was more agreeable. I was surrounded by an admiring audience, and my
conversation of course was sufficiently general to please all, and
sufficiently particular to distinguish the man whom I wished to animate.
In all this you will say there was nothing to put one out of humour,
nothing very mortifying:--but stay, my fair philosopher, do not judge
of the day till you see its end.--Leonora was so hid from my view by
the crowd of adorers, that I really did not discern her, or suspect her
jealousy. I was quite natural; I thought only of myself; I declined all
invitations to dance, declaring that it was so long since I had tried
an English country dance, that I dared not expose my awkwardness. French
country dances were mentioned, but I preferred conversation. At last
L---- persecuted me to try a Polish dance with him--a multitude
of voices overpowered me. I have not the talent which some of my
countrywomen possess in such perfection, of being obstinate about
trifles. When I can refuse with grace, 'tis well; but when that is no
longer possible, it is my principle, or my weakness, to yield. I was
surprised to find that L----danced admirably. I became animated. You
know how dancing animates me, when I have a partner who _can_ dance--a
thing not very common in this country. We ended by _waltzing_, first in
the Polish, and afterwards in the Parisian manner. I certainly surpassed
myself--I flew, I was borne upon the wings of the wind, I floated on the
notes of the music. Animated or languid in every gradation of grace and
sentiment, I abandoned myself to the inspiration of the moment; I was
all soul, and the spectators were all admiration. To you, my Gabrielle,
I may speak thus of myself without vanity: you know the sensation I was
accustomed to produce at Paris; you may guess then what the effect
must be here, where such a style of dancing has all the captivation of
novelty. Had I doubted that my _success_ was complete, I should have
been assured of it by the faces of some prudes amongst the matrons, who
affected to think that the waltz was _too much_. As L---- was leading,
or rather supporting me to my seat, for I was quite exhausted, I
overheard a gentleman, who was at no great distance from the place where
Leonora was standing, whisper to his neighbour, "Le Valse extrême est
la volupté permise." I fancy Leonora overheard these words, as well
as myself, for my eyes met hers at this instant, and she coloured, and
directly looked another way. L---- neither heard nor saw any thing of
all this: he was intent upon procuring me a seat; and an Englishman can
never see or think of two things at a time. A few minutes afterwards,
whilst he was fanning me, a young awkward peasant girl, quite a stranger
in this country, came up to me, and dropping her novice curtsy, said,
"Here's a ring, my lady, I found on the grass; they tell me it is yours,
my lady!"

"No, my good girl, it is not mine," said I.

"It is Lady Leonora's," said Mr. L----.

At the sound of her name Leonora came forward.

The girl looked alternately at us.

"Can you doubt," cried Colonel A----, "which of these ladies is Mr.
L----'s wife?"

"Oh, no, sir; this is she, _to be sure_," said the girl, pointing to me.

What there was in the girl's accent, or in L----'s look, when she
pronounced the words, or in mine, or in all three together, I cannot
exactly describe; but Leonora felt it. She turned as pale as death.
I looked as unconscious as I could. L---- went on fanning me, without
seeing his wife's change of countenance. Leonora--would you believe
it?--sank upon a bench behind us, and fainted. How her husband started,
when he felt her catch by his arm as she fell! He threw down the
fan, left me, ran for water--"Oh, Lady Leonora! Lady Leonora is ill!"
exclaimed every voice. The consternation was wonderful. They carried her
ladyship to a spot where she could have free air. I was absolutely in
an instant left alone, and seemingly as much forgotten as if I had never
existed! I was indeed so much astonished, that I could not stir from the
place where I stood; till, recollecting myself, I pushed my way through
the crowd, and came in view of Leonora just as she opened her eyes. As
soon as she came to herself, she made an effort to stand, saying that
she was quite well again, but that she would go into the house and
repose herself for a few minutes. As she rose, a hundred arms were
offered at once to her assistance. She stepped forward; and, to my
surprise, and I believe to the surprise of every body else, took mine,
made a sign to her husband not to follow us, and walked quickly towards
the house. Her woman, with a face of terror, met us, as we were going
into Lady Leonora's apartment, with salts and hartshorn, and I know not
what in her hands.

"I am quite well, quite well again; I do not want any thing; I do not
want any thing. I do not want you, Mason," said Leonora. "Lady Olivia is
so good as to assist me. I am come in only to rest for a few minutes."

The woman gave me an evil look, and left the room. Never did I wish
any thing more than that she should have stayed. I was absolutely so
embarrassed, so distressed, when I found myself alone with Leonora,
that I knew not what to say. I believe I began with a sentence about
the night air, that was very little to the purpose. The sight of some
baby-linen which the maid had been making suggested to me something
which I thought more appropriate.

"My dear creature!" said I, "why will you fatigue yourself. so terribly,
and stand so much and so long in your situation?"

Leonora neither accepted nor rejected my interpretation of what had
passed. She made no reply; but fixed her eyes upon me as if she would
have read my very soul. Never did I see or feel eyes so expressive or
so powerful as hers were at this, moment. Mine absolutely fell beneath
them. What deprived me of presence of mind I know not; but I was utterly
without common sense. I am sure I changed colour, and Leonora must have
seen it through my rouge, for I had only the slightest tinge upon my
cheeks. The consciousness that she saw me blush disconcerted me beyond
recovery; it is really quite unaccountable: I trembled all over as I
stood before her; I was forced to have recourse to the hartshorn and
water, which stood upon the table. Leonora rose, and threw open the
window to give me fresh air. She pressed my hand, but rather with an
air of forgiveness than of affection; I was mortified and vexed; but my
pride revived me.

"We had better return to the company as soon as possible, I believe,"
said she, looking down at the moving crowd below.

"I am ready to attend you, my dear," said I, coldly, "whenever you feel
yourself sufficiently rested and composed."

She left the room, and I followed. You have no idea of the solicitude
with which the people hoped she was _better_--and _well_--and _quite
well_, &c. What amazing importance a fainting fit can sometimes bestow!
Her husband seemed no longer to have any eyes or soul but for her.
At supper, and during the rest of the night, she occupied the whole
attention of every body present. Can you conceive any thing so
provoking? But L---- must be an absolute fool!--Did he never see a woman
faint before?--He cannot pretend to be in love with his wife--I do not
understand it.--But this I know, that he has been totally different in
his manner towards me these three days past.

And now that my curiosity is satisfied about Leonora's jealousy, I
shall absolutely perish with ennui in this stupid place. Adieu, dearest
Gabrielle! How I envy you! The void of my heart is insupportable. I must
have some passion to keep me alive. Forward any letters from poor R----,
if he has written under cover to you.

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XXVII.

THE DUCHESS OF ---- TO HER DAUGHTER.


Take courage, my beloved daughter; take courage. Have a just confidence
in yourself and in your husband. For a moment he may be fascinated by
the arts of an unprincipled woman; for a moment she may triumph over
his senses, and his imagination; but of his esteem, his affection, his
heart, she cannot rob you. These have been, ought to be, will be yours.
Trust to your mother's prophecy, my child. You may trust to it securely:
for, well as she loves you--and no mother ever loved a daughter
better--she does not soothe you with mere words of doting fondness; she
speaks to you the language of reason and of truth.

I know what such a man as Mr. L---- must esteem and love; I know of what
such a woman as my daughter is capable, when her whole happiness, and
the happiness of all that is dear to her, are at stake. The loss of
temporary admiration and power, the transient preference shown to a
despicable rival, will not provoke you to imprudent reproach, nor sink
you to helpless despair. The arts of an Olivia might continue to
deceive your husband, if he were a fool; or to please him, if he were a
libertine: but he has a heart formed for love, he cannot therefore be a
libertine: he is a man of superior abilities, and knows women too
well to be a dupe. With a penetrating and discriminative judgment
of character, he is a nice observer of female manners; his taste
is delicate even to excess; under a cold exterior he has a vivid
imagination and strong sensibility; he has little vanity, but a
superabundance of pride; he wishes to be ardently loved, but this
he conceals; it is difficult to convince him that he is beloved, and
scarcely possible to satisfy him by any common proofs of attachment. A
coquette will never attach Mr. L----. The admiration which others might
express for her charms and accomplishments, would never pique him to
competition: far from seeking "to win her praise whom all admire," he
would disdain to enter the lists with the vulgar multitude: a heart,
in which he had a probability of holding only divided empire, would
not appear to him worth the winning. As a coquette, whatever may be
her talents, graces, accomplishments, and address, you have nothing
seriously to fear from Lady Olivia.

But, my dear, Mr. L----'s mind may be in a situation to require
amusement. That species of apathy which succeeds to passion is not,
as the inexperienced imagine, the death of love, but the necessary and
salutary repose from which it awakens refreshed and revived. Mr. L----'s
passion for you has been not only tender, but violent, and the calm,
which inevitably succeeds, should not alarm you.

When a man feels that his fondness for a wife is suspended, he is uneasy
in her company, not only from the sense of decreased pleasure, but from
the fear of her observation and detection. If she reproach him, affairs
become worse; he blames himself, he fears to give pain whenever he is in
her presence: if he attempt to conceal his feelings, and to appear what
he is no longer, a lover, his attempts are awkward; he becomes more and
more dissatisfied with himself; and the person who compels him to this
hypocrisy, who thus degrades him in his own eyes, must certainly be in
danger of becoming an object of aversion. A wife, who has sense enough
to abstain from all reproaches, direct or indirect, by word or look, may
reclaim her husband's affections: the bird escapes from his cage, but
returns to his nest. I am glad that you have agreeable company at your
house; they will amuse Mr. L----, and relieve you from the necessity of
taking a share in any conversation that you dislike. Our witty friend
----will supply your share of conversation; and as to your silence,
remember that witty people are always content with those who _act
audience_.

I rejoice that you persist in your daily occupations. To a mind like
yours, the sense of performing your duty will, next to religion, be the
firmest support upon which you can rely.

Perhaps, my dear, even when you read this, you will still be inclined to
justify Lady Olivia, and to conceal from your heart the suspicions
which her conduct excites. I am not surprised, that you should find it
difficult to believe, that one to whom you have behaved so generously,
should treat you with treachery, and ingratitude. I am not surprised,
that you who feel what it is to love, should think, that a woman whose
heart is occupied by attachment to one object, must be incapable of
thinking of any other. But love in such a heart as yours is totally
different from what it is in the fancy of these heroines. In their
imagination, the objects are as fleeting as the pictures in the clouds
chased by the wind.

From Lady Olivia expect nothing: depend only on yourself. When you
become, as you soon must, completely convinced that the woman, in whom
your unsuspecting soul confided, is utterly unworthy of your esteem,
refrain from all imprudent expressions of indignation. I despise--you
will soon hate--your rival; but in the moment of detection think of what
is due to yourself, and act as calmly as if you had never loved her.
She will suffer no pain from the loss of your friendship: she has not a
heart that can value it. Probably she is envious of you. All these women
desire to mortify those whom they cannot degrade to their own level:
and I am inclined to suspect that this malevolent feeling, joined to
the want of occupation, may be the cause of her present conduct. Her
manoeuvres will not ultimately succeed. She will be deserted by Mr.
L----, disappointed and disgraced, and your husband will be more yours
than ever. When this happy moment comes, my Leonora; when your husband
returns, preferring yours to all other society, then will be the time
to exert all your talents, all your charms, to prove your superiority
in every thing, but most in love. The soothings of female tenderness,
in certain situations, have power not only to calm the feelings of
self-reproach, but to diffuse delight over the soul of man. The oil,
which the skilful mariner throws upon the sea, not only smooths the
waves in the storm, but when the sun shines, spreads the most beautiful
colours over the surface of the waters.

My dear daughter, though your mother writes seemingly at her ease, you
must not fancy that she does not feel for you. Do not imagine, that in
the coldness of extinguished passions, and in the pride of counselling
age, your mother expects to charm agony with words. No, my child, I am
not so absurd, so cruel. Your letter forced tears from eyes, which are
not used like sentimental eyes to weep upon every trifling occasion.
My first wish was to set out immediately to see you; but whatever
consolation or pleasure my company might afford, I believe it might be
disadvantageous to you in your present circumstances. I could not be an
hour in the room with this Lady Olivia, without showing some portion of
the indignation and contempt that I feel for her conduct. This warmth of
mine might injure you in your husband's opinion. Though you would have
too strong a sense of propriety, and too much dignity of mind, to make
complaints of your husband to me, or to any one living; yet it might
be supposed that your mother was your confidante in secret, and your
partisan in public: this might destroy your domestic happiness. No
husband can or ought to endure the idea of his wife's caballing against
him. I admire and shall respect your dignified silence.

And now fare you well, my dearest child. May God bless you! If a
mother's prayers could avail, you would be the happiest of human beings.
I do, without partiality, believe you to be one of the best and most
amiable of women. ----

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XXVIII.

LEONORA TO HER MOTHER.


Had your letter, my dearest mother, reached me a few hours sooner, I
should not have exposed myself as I have done.

Yesterday, at our _fête champêtre_, you would have been ashamed of me. I
am ashamed of myself. I did the very reverse of what I ought, of what
I would have done, if I had been fortified by your counsel. Instead of
being calm and dignified, I was agitated beyond all power of control. I
lost all presence of mind, all common sense, all recollection.

I know your contempt for swooning heroines. What will you say, when you
hear that your daughter fainted--fainted in public? I believe, however,
that, as soon as I recovered, I had sufficient command over myself to
prevent the accident from being attributed to the real cause, and I hope
that the very moment I came to my recollection, my manner towards Lady
Olivia was such as to preclude all possibility of her being blamed or
even suspected. From living much abroad, she has acquired a certain
freedom of manner, and latitude of thinking, which expose her to
suspicion; but of all serious intention to injure me, or to pass the
bounds of propriety, I totally acquit her. She is not to blame for the
admiration she excites, nor is she to be the sufferer for my weakness of
mind or of health.

Great and unreasonable folly I am sure I showed--but I shall do so no
more.

The particular circumstances I need not explain: you may be assured,
that wherever I think it right to be silent, nothing shall tempt me
to speak: but I understood, by the conclusion of your letter, that you
expect me to preserve an absolute silence upon this subject in future:
this I will not promise. I cannot conceive that I, who do not mean to
injure any human being, ought, because I am unhappy, and when I am most
in want of a friend, to be precluded from the indulgence of speaking
of what is nearest my heart to that dear, safe, most enlightened, and
honourable of friends, who has loved, guided, instructed, and encouraged
me in every thing that is right from my infancy. Why should I be refused
all claim to sympathy? why must my thoughts and feelings be shut up
in my own breast? and why must I be a solitary being, proscribed from
commerce with my own family, with my beloved mother, to whom I have been
accustomed to tell every feeling and idea as they arose? No; to all
that is honourable I will strictly conform; but, by the superstition of
prudence, I do not hold myself bound.

Nothing could be kinder than my husband's conduct to me the evening
after I was taken ill. He left home early this morning; he is gone to
meet his friend, General B----, who has just returned from abroad. I
hope that Mr. L---- will be absent only a few days; for it would be
fatal to my happiness if he should find amusement at a distance from
home. His home, at all events, shall never be made a cage to him; when
he returns, I will exert myself to the utmost to make it agreeable. This
I hope can be done without obtruding my company upon him, or putting
myself in competition with any person. I could wish that some fortunate
accident might induce Lady Olivia to leave us before Mr. L----'s return.
Had I the same high opinion of her generosity that I once formed, had I
the same perfect confidence in her integrity and in her friendship for
me, I would go this moment and tell her all that passes in my heart: no
humiliation of my vanity would cost me any thing if it could serve the
interests of my love; no mean pride could stand in my mind against the
force of affection. But there is a species of pride which I cannot, will
not renounce--believing, as I do, that it is the companion, the friend,
the support of virtue. This pride, I trust, will never desert me: it has
grown with my growth; it was implanted in my character by the education
which my dear mother gave me; and now, even by her, it cannot be
eradicated. Surely I have misunderstood one passage in your letter: you
cannot advise your daughter to restrain just indignation against vice
from any motive of policy or personal interest. You say to me, "In the
moment of detection think of what is due to yourself, and act as calmly
as if you had never loved her." If I _could_, I would not do this.
Contempt shown by virtue is the just punishment of vice, a punishment
which no selfish consideration should mitigate. If I were convinced
that Lady Olivia were guilty, would you have me behave to her as if I
believed her to be innocent? My countenance, my voice, my principles,
would revolt from such mean and pernicious hypocrisy, degrading to the
individual, and destructive to society.

May I never more see the smile of love on the lips of my husband, nor
its expression in his eyes, if I do so degrade myself in my own opinion
and in his! Yes, in his; for would not he, would not any man of sense or
delicacy, recur to that idea so common with his sex, and so just, that
if a woman will sacrifice her sense of honour to her passions in one
instance, she may in another? Would he not argue, "If she will do this
for me because she is in love with me, why not for a new favourite, if
time or accident should make me less an object of passion?" No; I may
lose his love--this would be my misfortune: but to forfeit his esteem
would be my fault; and, under the remorse which I should then have to
endure, I am persuaded that no power of art or nature could sustain my
existence.

So much for myself. As to the general good of society, that, I confess,
is not at this moment the uppermost consideration in my mind; but I
will add a few words on that subject, lest you should imagine me to be
hurried away by my own feelings. Public justice and reason are, I
think, on my side. What would become of the good order of society or the
decency of families, if every politic wife were to receive or invite, or
permit her husband's mistress to reside in her house? What would become
of conjugal virtue in either sex, if the wife were in this manner not
only to connive at the infidelity of her husband, but to encourage and
provide for his inconsistency? If she enters into bonds of amity and
articles of partnership with her rival, with that person by whom she has
been most injured, instead of being the dignified sufferer, she becomes
an object of contempt.

My dearest mother, my most respected friend, my sentiments on this
subject cannot essentially differ from yours. I must have mistaken your
meaning. Pray write quickly, and tell me so; and forgive, if you cannot
approve of, the warmth with which I have spoken.

I am your truly affectionate

And grateful daughter,

LEONORA L----

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XXIX.

OLIVIA TO MADAME P----.


My amiable Gabrielle, I must be faithful to my promise of writing to you
every week, though this place affords nothing new either in events or
sentiment. Mr. L----'s absence made this castle insupportably dull.
A few days ago he returned home, and met me with an easy kind of
indifference, provoking enough to a woman who has been accustomed to
excite some sensation. However, I was rejoiced at this upon Leonora's
account. She was evidently delighted, and her spirits and affections
seemed to overflow involuntarily upon all around her; even to me her
manner became quite frank and cordial, almost caressing. She is really
handsome when she is animated, and her conversation this evening quite
surprised me. I saw something of that playfulness, those light touches,
that versatility of expression, those words that mean more than meet
the ear; every thing, in short, that could charm in the most polished
foreign society. Leonora seemed to be inspired with all the art of
conversation, by the simple instinct of affection. What astonished me
most was the grace with which she introduced some profound philosophical
remarks. "Such pearls," said Mr. L----, "come from the deep."

With all these talents, what might not Leonora be in proper hands! But
now she is nothing except to her husband, and a few intimate friends.
However, this is not my affair. Let me go on to what concerns myself.
You may believe, my dear Gabrielle, that I piqued myself upon showing at
least as much easy indifference as was shown to me: freedom encourages
freedom. As there was no danger of my being too amiable, I did not think
myself bound in honour or sentiment to keep myself in the shade; but
I could not be as brilliant as you have seen me at your _soirées_: the
magic circle of adorers, the inspiring power of numbers, the éclat of
public _representation_, were wanting. I retired to my own apartment at
night, quite out of humour with myself; and Josephine, as she undressed
me, put me still further out of patience, by an ill-timed history of
a dispute she has had with Leonora's Swiss servant. The Swiss and
Josephine, it seems, came to high words in defence of their mistresses'
charms. Josephine provoked the Swiss by saying, that his lady might
possibly be handsome if she were dressed in the French taste; _mais
qu'elle étoit bien Angloise_, and would be quite another thing if she
had been at Paris. The Swiss retorted by observing, that Josephine's
lady had indeed learnt in perfection at Paris _the art of making herself
up_, which was quite necessary to a beauty _un peu passée_. The words
were not more agreeable to me than they had been to Josephine. I wonder
at her assurance in repeating them--"Un peu passée!" Many a woman in
England, ten, fifteen years older than I am, has inspired a violent
passion; and it has been observed, that power is retained by these
mature charmers, longer than conquest can be preserved by inexperienced
beauties. There are women who have learnt to combine, for their
own advantage, and for that of their captives, all the pleasure and
_conveniences_ of society, all that a thorough knowledge of the world
can give--women who have a sufficient attention to appearances,
joined to a real contempt of all prejudices, especially that of
constancy--women who possess that knowledge of the human heart, which
well compensates transient bloom; who add the expression of sentiment to
beautiful features, and who employ

 "Gay smiles to comfort, April showers to move,
  And all the nature, all the art of Love."
--"Un peu passée!" The Swiss is impertinent, and knows nothing of
the matter. His master knows but little more. He would, however, know
infinitely more if I could take the trouble to instruct him; to which
I am almost tempted for want of something better to do. Adieu, my
Gabrielle. R----'s silence is perfectly incomprehensible.

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XXX.

OLIVIA TO MADAME DE P----.


So, my amiable Gabrielle, you are really interested in my letters,
_though written during my English exile_, and you are curious to know
whether any of my _potent spells_ can wake into life this man of marble.
I candidly confess you would inspire me with an ambition to raise my
poor countrymen in your opinion, if I were not restrained by the sacred
sentiment of friendship, which forbids me to rival Leonora _even_ in a
husband's opinion.

However, Josephine, who feels herself a party concerned ever since
her battle with the Swiss, has piqued herself upon dressing me
with exquisite taste. I am every day _mise à ravir_!--and with such
perfection of art, that no art appears--all is negligent simplicity.
I let Josephine please herself; for you know I am not bound to be
frightful, because I have a friend whose husband may chance to turn his
eye upon my figure, when he is tired of admiring hers. I rallied L----
the other day upon his having no eyes or ears but for his wife. Be
assured I did it in such a manner that he could not be angry. Then I
went on to a comparison between the _facility_ of French and English
society. He admitted that there was some truth and more wit in my
observations. I was satisfied. With these reasonable men, the grand
point for a woman is to amuse them--they can have logic from their own
sex. But, my Gabrielle, I am summoned to the _salon_, and must finish my
letter another day.

       *       *       *       *       *

Heaven! can it be a fortnight since I wrote a line to my
Gabrielle!--Where was I?--"With these reasonable men the grand point
for a woman is to amuse them." True--most true! L----, believing
himself only amused with my lively nonsense, indulged himself with it
continually. I was to believe only what he believed. Presently he could
not do without my conversation for more than two hours together. What
was I to do, my Gabrielle? I walked out to avoid him. He found me in the
woods--rallied me on my taste for solitude, and quoted Voltaire.

This led to a metaphysical conversation, half playful, half
serious:--the distinction which a man sometimes makes to his conscience
between thinking a woman entertaining, and feeling her interesting,
vanishes more easily, and more rapidly, than he is aware of--at least
in certain situations. This was not an observation I could make to my
companion in the woods, and he certainly did not make it for himself. It
would have been vanity in me to have broken off our conversation, lest
he should fall in love with me--it would have been blindness not to have
seen that he was in some danger. I thought of Leonora--and sighed--and
did all that was in my power to put him upon his guard. By way of
preservative, I frankly made him a confession of my attachment to R----.
This I imagined would put things upon a right footing for ever; but,
on the contrary, by convincing him of my innocence, and of my having
no designs on his heart, this candour has, I fear, endangered him still
more; yet I know not what to think--his manner is so variable towards
me--I must be convinced of what his sentiments are, before I can decide
what my conduct ought to be. Adieu, my amiable Gabrielle; I wait for
something decisive with an inexpressible degree of anxiety--I will not
now call it curiosity.--Apropos, does R---- wish that I should forget
that he exists? What is this business that detains him? But why do I
condescend to inquire?

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XXXI.

GENERAL B---- TO MR. L----.


MY DEAR L----, London.

I send you the horse to which you took a fancy. He has killed one of his
grooms, and lamed two; but you will be his master, and I hope he will
know it.

I have a word to say to you on a more serious subject. Pardon me if I
tell you that I think you are a happy man, and excuse me if I add, that
if you do not keep yourself so I shall not think you a wise one. A
good wife is better than a good-for-nothing mistress.--A self-evident
proposition!--A stupid truism! Yes; but if every man who knows a
self-evident proposition when he sees it on paper, always acted as if he
knew it, this would be a very wise and a very happy world; and I should
not have occasion to write this letter.

You say that you are only amusing yourself at the expense of a finished
coquette; take care that she does not presently divert herself
at yours.--"_You are proof against French coquetry and German
sentiment_."--Granted--but a fine woman?--and your own vanity?--But you
have no vanity.--You call it pride then, I suppose. I will not quarrel
with you for a name. Pride, properly managed, will do your business as
well as vanity. And no doubt Lady Olivia knows this as well as I do. I
hope you may never know it better.

I am, my dear friend,

Truly yours,

J. B.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XXXII.

OLIVIA TO MADAME DE P----.


L---- Castle.

Advise me, dearest Gabrielle; I am in a delicate situation; and on your
judgment and purity of heart I have the most perfect reliance. Know,
then, that I begin to believe that Leonora's jealousy was not so
absolutely absurd as I at first supposed. She understood her husband
better than I did. I begin to fear that I have made a serious impression
whilst I meant only to amuse myself. Heaven is my witness, I simply
intended to satisfy my curiosity, and that once gratified, it was my
determination to respect the weakness I discovered. To love Leonora, as
once I imagined I could, is out of my power; but to disturb her peace,
to destroy her happiness, to make use of the confidence she has
reposed in me, the kindness she has shown by making me an inmate of her
house--my soul shudders at these ideas. No--if her husband really
loves me I will fly. Leonora shall see that Olivia is incapable of
treachery--that Olivia has a soul generous and delicate as her own,
though free from the prejudices by which she is fettered. To Leonora
a husband is a lover--I shall consider him as such, and respect her
_property_. You are so little used, my dear Gabrielle, to consider a
husband in this point of view, that you will scarcely enter into my
feelings: but put yourself in my situation, allow for nationality of
principle, and I am persuaded you would act as I shall. Spare me your
raillery; seriously, if Leonora's husband is in love with me, would you
not advise me, my dearest friend, to fly him, "far as pole from pole?"
Write to me, I conjure you, my Gabrielle--write instantly, and tell me
whether R----is now at Paris. I will return thither immediately if you
advise it. My mind is in such confusion, I have no power to decide; I
will be guided by your advice.

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XXXIII.

MADAME DE P---- TO OLIVIA.


Paris.

Advice! my charming Olivia! do you ask me for advice? I never gave
or took advice in my life, except for _les vapeurs noirs_. And your
understanding is so far superior to mine, and you comprehend the
characters of these English so much better than I do, that I cannot
pretend to counsel you. This Lady Leonora is inconceivable with her
passion for her own husband; but how ridiculous to let it be suspected!
If her heart is so tender, cannot she, with all her charms, find a lover
on whom to bestow it, without tormenting that poor Mr. L----? Evidently
he is tired of her: and I am sure I should be worn to death were I in
his place. Nothing so tiresome as love without mystery, and without
obstacles. And this must ever be the case with conjugal love. Eighteen
months married, I think you say, and Lady Leonora expects her husband
to be still at her feet! And she wishes it! Truly she is the most
unreasonable woman upon earth--and the most extraordinary; but I am
tired of thinking of what I cannot comprehend.

Let us pass on to Mr. L----. By your last letters, I should judge that
he might be an agreeable man, if his wife were out of the question.
Matrimonial jealousy is a new idea to me; I can judge of it only by
analogy. In affairs of gallantry, I have sometimes seen one of the
parties continue to love when the other has become indifferent, and then
they go on tormenting one another and being miserable, because they have
not the sense to see that a fire cannot be made of ashes. Sometimes I
have found romantic young people persuade themselves that they can love
no more because they can love one another no longer; but if they had
sufficient courage to say--I am tired--and I cannot help it--they would
come to a right understanding immediately, and part on the best terms
possible; each eager to make a new choice, and to be again in love and
happy. All this to be done with decency, of course. And if there be no
scandal, where is the harm? Can it signify to the universe whether Mons.
Un tel likes Madame Une telle or Madame Une autre? Provided there is
love enough, all the world is in good humour, and that is the essential
point; for without good humour, what becomes of the pleasures of
society? As to the rest, I think of inconstancy, or _infidelity_, as it
is called, much as our good La Fontaine did--"Quand on le sait, c'est
peu de chose--quand on ne le sait pas, ce n'est rien."

To promise to love one person eternally! What a terrible engagement!
It freezes my heart even to think of it. I am persuaded, that if I were
bound to love him for life, I should detest the most amiable man upon
earth in ten minutes--a husband more especially. Good heavens! how I
should abhor M. de P---- if I saw him in this point of view! On the
contrary, now I love him infinitely--that is to say, as one loves a
husband. I have his interest at heart, and his glory. When I thought
he was going to prison I was in despair. I was at home to no one but
_Brave-et-Tendre_, and to him only to consult on the means of obtaining
my husband's pardon. M. de P----is sensible of this, and on my part I
have no reason to complain of his liberality. We are perfectly happy,
though we meet perhaps but for a few minutes in the day; and is not this
better than tiring one another for four-and-twenty hours? When I grow
old--if ever I do--he will be my best friend. In the mean time I support
his credit with all my influence. This very morning I concluded an
affair for him, which never could have succeeded, if the intimate friend
of the minister had not been also my lover. Now, why cannot your Lady
Leonora and her Mr. L---- live on the same sort of terms? But if English
manners will not permit of this, I have nothing more to say. Above all
things a woman must respect opinion, else she cannot be well received in
the world. I conclude this is the secret of Lady Leonora's conduct. But
then jealousy!--no woman, I suppose, is bound, even in England, to be
jealous in order to show her love for her husband. I lose myself again
in trying to understand what is incomprehensible.

As to you, my dear Olivia, you also amaze me by talking of _crimes_ and
_horror_, and _flying from pole to pole_ to avoid a man because you have
made him at last find out that he has a heart! You have done him the
greatest possible service: it may preserve him perhaps from hanging
himself next November--that month in which, according to Voltaire's
philosophical calendar, Englishmen always hang themselves, because the
atmosphere is so thick, and their ennui so heavy. Lady Leonora, if she
really loves her husband, ought to be infinitely obliged to you for
averting this danger. As to the rest, your heart is not concerned, so
you can have nothing to fear; and as for a platonic attachment on the
part of Mr. L----, his wife, even according to her own rigid principles,
cannot blame you.

Adieu, my charming friend! Instead of laughing at your fit of prudery,
I ought to encourage your scruples, that I might profit by them. If they
should bring you to Paris immediately, with what joy should I embrace
my Olivia, and how much gratitude should I owe to the jealousy of Lady
Leonora L----!

R---- is not yet returned. When I have any news to give you of him,
depend upon it you shall hear from me again. Accept, my interesting
Olivia, the vows of my most tender and eternal friendship.

GABRIELLE DE P----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XXXIV.

OLIVIA TO MADAME DE P----.


L---- Castle, Tuesday.

Your charming letter, my Gabrielle, has at once revived my spirits and
dissipated all my scruples; you mistake, however, in supposing that
Leonora is in love with her husband: more and more reason have I every
hour to be convinced that Leonora has never known the passion of love;
consequently her jealousy was, as I at first pronounced it to be, the
selfish jealousy of matrimonial power and property. Else why does it
subside, why does it vanish, when, if it were a jealousy of the heart,
it has now more provocation, infinitely more than when it appeared in
full force? Leonora could see that her husband distinguished me at a
_fête champêtre_; she could see what the eyes of others showed her;
she could hear what envy whispered, or what scandal hinted; she was
mortified, she was alarmed even to fainting by a public preference, by a
silly country girl's mistaking me for _the wife_, and doing homage to me
as to the lady of the manor; but Leonora cannot perceive in the object
of her affection the symptoms that mark the rise and progress of _a real
love_. Leonora feels not the little strokes, which would be fatal blows
to the peace of a truly delicate mind; she heeds not "the trifles
light as air" which would be confirmation strong to a soul of genuine
sensibility. My influence over the mind of L----increases rapidly, and
I shall let it rise to its acmè before I seem to notice it. Leonora,
re-assured, I suppose, by a few flattering words, and more, perhaps, by
an exalted opinion of her own merit, has lately appeared quite at her
ease, and blind to all that passes before her eyes. It is not for me
to dissipate this illusion prematurely--it is not for me to weaken this
confidence in her husband. To an English wife this would be death. Let
her foolish security then last as long as possible. After all, how much
anguish of heart, how many pangs of conscience, how much of the torture
of pity, am I spared by this callous temper in my friend! I may indulge
in a little harmless coquetry, without danger to her peace, and without
scruple, enjoy the dear possession of power.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Say, for you know," charming Gabrielle, what is the delight of
obtaining power over the human heart? Let the lords of the creation
boast of their power to govern all things; to charm these governors be
ours. Let the logicians of the earth boast their power to regulate the
world by reason; be it ours, Gabrielle, to intoxicate and humble proud
reason to the dust beneath our feet.--And who shall blame in us this
ardour for universal dominion? If they are men, I call them tyrants--if
they are women, I call them hypocrites--and the two vices which I most
detest are tyranny and hypocrisy. Frankly I confess, that I feel in
all its restless activity the passion for general admiration. I cannot
conceive--can you, Gabrielle, a pleasure more transporting than the
perception of extended and extending dominion? The struggle of the
rebel heart for freedom makes the war more tempting, the victory more
glorious, the triumph more splendid. Secure of your sympathy, ma belle
Gabrielle, I shall not fear to tire you by my commentaries.

       *       *       *       *       *

Male coquetry justifies female retaliation to any imaginable extent.
Upon this principle, on which I have seen you act so often, and so
successfully, I shall now intrepidly proceed. This man makes a show of
resistance; be it at his own peril: he thinks that he is gaining power
over my heart, whilst I am preparing torments for his; he fancies that
he is throwing chains round me, whilst I am rivetting fetters from which
he will in vain attempt to escape. He is proud, and has the insanity of
desiring to be exclusively beloved, yet affects to set no value upon
the preference that is shown to him; appears satisfied with his own
approbation, and stoically all-sufficient to his own happiness. Leonora
does not know how to manage his temper, but I do. The suspense, however,
in which he keeps me is tantalizing: he shall pay for it hereafter: I
had no idea, till lately, that he had so much self-command. At times he
has actually made me doubt my own power. At certain moments I have been
half tempted to believe that I had made no serious impression, that
he had been only amusing himself at my expense, and for Leonora's
gratification: but upon careful and cool observation I am convinced that
his indifference is affected, that all his stoicism will prove vain. The
arrow is lodged in his heart, and he must fall, whether he turn upon the
enemy in anger, or fly in dismay.

       *       *       *       *       *

My pride is exasperated. I am not accustomed to such obstinate
resistance. I really almost hate this invincible man, and--strange
inconsistency of the human heart!--almost love him. Heaven and pride
preserve me from such a weakness! But there is certainly something that
piques and stimulates one's feelings in this species of male coquetry.
L---- understands the business better than I thought he could. One
moment my knowledge of the arts of his sex puts me on my guard; the next
my sensibility exposes me in the most terrible manner. Experience
ought to protect me, but it only shows me the peril and my inability
to escape. Ah! Gabrielle, without a heart how safe we should be, how
dangerous to our lovers! But cursed with sensibility, we must, alas!
submit to our fate. The habit of loving, _le besoin d'aimer_, is more
powerful than all sense of the folly and the danger. Nor is the tempest
of the passions so dreadful as the dead calm of the soul. Why did R----
suffer my soul to sink into this ominous calm? The fault is his; let him
abide the consequences. Why did he not follow me to England? why did he
not write to me? or when he did write, why were his letters so cold,
so spiritless? When I spoke of divorce, why did he hesitate? Why did he
reason when he should have only felt? Tell him, my tender, my delicate
friend, these are questions which the heart asks, and which the heart
only can answer. Adieu.

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XXXV.

MADAME DE P---- TO OLIVIA.


Paris.

Je suis excedée! mon coeur. Alive, and but just alive, after such a day
of fatigues! All morning from one minister to another! then home to my
toilette! then a great dinner with a number of foreigners, each to be
distinguished--then au Feydeau, where I was obliged to go to support
poor S----'s play. It would be really insupportable, if it were not
for the finest music in the world, which, after all, the French music
certainly is. There was a violent party against the piece; and we were
so late, that it was just on the point of perishing. My ears have
not yet recovered from the horrid noise. In the midst of the tumult I
happily, by a master-stroke, turned the fortune of the night. I spied
the shawl of an English woman hanging over the box. This, you know, like
scarlet to the bull, is sufficient to enrage the Parisian pit. To the
shawl I directed the fury of the mob of critics. Luckily for us, the
lady was attended only by an Englishman, who of course chose to assert
his right not to understand the customs of any country, or submit to any
will but his own. He would not permit the shawl to be stirred. À bas! à
bas: resounded from below. The uproar was inconceivable. You would have
thought that the house must have come down. In the mean time the piece
went on, and the shawl covered all its defects. Admire my generalship.
T---- tells me I was born for a general; yet I rather think my forte is
negotiation.

But I have not yet come to your affairs, for which alone I could undergo
the fatigue of writing at this moment. Guess, my Olivia, what apparition
I met at the door of my box to-night. But the enclosed note will save
you the trouble of guessing. I could not avoid permitting him to slide
his billet-doux into my hand as he put on my shawl. Adieu. I must refuse
myself the pleasure of conversing longer with my sweet friend. Fresh
toils await me. Madame la Grande will never forgive me if I do not
appear for a moment at her soirée: and la petite Q---- will be jealous
beyond recovery, if I do not give her a moment: and it is Madame R----'s
night. There I must be; for all the ambassadors, as usual, will be
there; and as some of them, I have reason to believe, go on purpose to
meet me, I cannot disappoint their Excellencies. My friends would never
forgive it. I am positively quite weary of this life of eternal bustle;
but once in the eddy, one is carried round and round; there is no
stopping. Adieu, adieu. I write under the hands of Victoire. O that she
had your taste to guide her, and to decide my too vacillating judgment!
we should then have no occasion to dread even the elegant simplicity of
Madame R----'s toilette.

GABRIELLE DE P----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XXXVI.

OLIVIA TO MADAME DE F----.


My Gabrielle, I have read R----'s note enclosed in your charming
sprightly letter. What a contrast! So cold! so formal! A thousand times
rather would I not have heard from him, than have received a letter so
little in unison with my feelings. He talks to me of business. Business!
What business ought to detain a man a moment from the woman he loves?
The interests of his ambition are nothing to me. What are all these to
love? Is he so mean as to hesitate between them? then I despise him! and
Olivia can never love the being she despises!

Does R---- flatter himself that his power over my heart is omnipotent?
Does he imagine that Olivia is to be slighted with impunity? Does R----
think that a woman, who has even nominally the honour to reign over his
heart, cannot meditate new conquests? Oh, credulous vanity of man!
He fancies, perhaps, that he is secure of the maturer age of one, who
fondly devoted to him her inexperienced youth. "Security is the curse of
fools." Does he in his wisdom deem a woman's age a sufficient pledge for
her constancy? He might every day see examples enough to convince him of
his error. In fact, the age of women has nothing to do with the number
of their years. Possibly, however, the gallant gentleman may be of
opinion with Leonora's Swiss, that Lady Olivia is _un peu passée_.
Adieu, my dear friend; you, who always understand and sympathize in my
feelings, you will express them for me in the best manner possible. I
shall not write to R----. You will see him; and Olivia commits to
you what to a woman of delicacy is more dear than her love--her just
resentment.

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XXXVII.

OLIVIA TO MADAME DE P----.


L---- Castle.

Pity me, dearest Gabrielle, for I am in need of all the pity which
your susceptible heart can bestow. Never was woman in such a terrible
situation! Yes, Gabrielle, this provoking, this incomprehensible, this
too amiable man, has entangled your poor friend past recovery. Her
sentiments and sensations must henceforward be in eternal opposition
to each other. Friendship, gratitude, honour, virtue, all in tremendous
array, forbid her to think of love; but love, imperious love, will not
be so defied: he seizes upon his victim, and now, as in all the past,
will be the ruler, the tyrant of Olivia's destiny. Never was confusion,
amazement, terror, remorse, equal to mine, Gabrielle, when I first
discovered that I loved him. Who could have foreseen, who could have
imagined it? I meant but to satisfy an innocent curiosity, to indulge
harmless coquetry, to gratify the natural love of admiration, and to
enjoy the possession of power. Alas! I felt not that, whilst I was
acquiring ascendancy over the heart of another, I was beguiled of all
command over my own. I flattered myself that, when honour should bid
me stop, I could pause without hesitation, without effort: I promised
myself, that the moment I should discover that I was loved by the
husband of my friend I should fly from him for ever. Alas! it is no
longer time--to fly from him is no longer in my power. Oh. Gabrielle! I
love him: he knows that I love him. Never did woman suffer more than I
have done since I wrote to you last. The conflict was too violent for
my feeble frame. I have been ill--very ill: a nervous fever brought me
nearly to the grave. Why did I not die? I should have escaped the deep
humiliation, the endless self-reproach to which my future existence is
doomed.--Leonora!--Why do I start at that name? Oh! there is horror in
the sound! Even now perhaps she knows and triumphs in my weakness. Even
now, perhaps, her calm insensible soul blesses itself for not being made
like mine. Even now perhaps her husband doubts whether he shall accept
Olivia's love, or sacrifice your wretched friend to Leonora's pride. Oh,
Gabrielle, no words can describe what I suffer! But I must be calm, and
explain the progress of this fatal passion. Explain--Heavens! how shall
I explain what I cannot recollect without heart-rending anguish and
confusion! Oh, Gabrielle! pity

Your distracted

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XXXVIII.

MADAME DE P---- TO OLIVIA.


Monday.

My dear romantic Olivia! you must have a furious passion for tormenting
yourself, when you can find matter for despair in your present
situation. In your place I should rejoice to find that in the moment an
old passion had consumed itself, a new one, fresh and vigorous, springs
from its ashes. My charming friend, understand your own interests, and
do not be the dupe of those fine phrases that we are obliged to employ
to deceive others. Rail at Cupid as much as you please to the men in
public, _par façon_; but always remember for your private use, that
love is essential to our existence in society. What is a woman when
she neither loves nor is loved? a mere _personage muet_ in the drama of
life. Is it not from our lovers that we derive our consequence? Even
a beauty without lovers is but a queen without subjects. A woman who
renounces love is an abdicated sovereign, always longing to resume her
empire when it is too late; continually forgetting herself, like the
pseudo-philosophic Christina, talking and acting as though she had still
the power of life and death in her hands; a tyrant without guards or
slaves; a most awkward, pitiable, and ridiculous personage. No, my fair
Olivia, let us never abjure love; even when the reign of beauty passes
away, that of grace and sentiment remains. As much delicacy as you
please: without delicacy there is no grace, and without a veil, beauty
loses her most captivating charms. I pity you, my dear, for having let
your veil be blown aside _malheureusement_. But such accidents will
happen. Who can control the passions or the winds? After all, _l'erreur
d'un moment_ is not irretrievable, and you reproach yourself too
bitterly, my sweet friend, for your involuntary injustice to Lady
Leonora. Assuredly it could not be your intention to sacrifice your
repose to Mr. L----. You loved him against your will, did you not? And
it is, you know, by the intention that we must judge of actions: the
positive harm done to the world in general is in all cases the only just
measure of criminality. Now what harm is done to the universe, and what
injury can accrue to any individual, provided you keep your own counsel?
As long as your friend is deceived, she is happy; it therefore becomes
your duty, your virtue, to dissemble. I am no great casuist, but all
this appears to me self-evident; and these I always thought were your
principles of philosophy. My dear Olivia, I have drawn out my whole
store of metaphysics with some difficulty for your service; I flatter
myself I have set your poor distracted head to rights. One word
more--for I like to go to the bottom of a subject, when I can do so
in two minutes: virtue is desirable because it makes us happy;
consequently, to make ourselves happy is to be truly virtuous. Methinks
this is sound logic.

To tell you the truth, my dear Olivia, I do not well conceive how you
have contrived to fall in love with this half-frozen Englishman. 'Tis
done, however--there is no arguing against facts; and this is only one
proof more of what I have always maintained, that destiny is inevitable
and love irresistible. Voltaire's charming inscription on the statue of
Cupid is worth all the volumes of reasoning and morality that ever were
or ever will be written. Banish melancholy thoughts, my dear friend;
they serve no manner of purpose but to increase your passion. Repentance
softens the heart; and every body knows, that what softens the heart
disposes it more to love: for which reason I never abandon myself to
this dangerous luxury of repentance. Mon Dieu! why will people never
benefit by experience? And to what purpose do they read history? Was not
La Vallière ever penitent, and ever transgressing? ever in transports or
in tears? You, at all events, my Olivia, can never become a Carmelite or
a Magdalen. You have emancipated yourself from superstition: but whilst
you ridicule all religious orders, do not inflict upon yourself their
penances. The habit of some of the orders has been thought becoming. The
modest costume of a nun is indeed one of the prettiest dresses one can
wear at a masquerade ball, and it might even be worn without a mask,
if it were fashionable: but nothing that is not fashionable can be
becoming.

Adieu, my adorable Olivia: I will send you, by the first opportunity,
your Lyons gown, which is really charming.

GABRIELLE DE P----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XXXIX.

OLIVIA TO MADAME DE P----.


Nov. 30th, --

Your truly philosophical letter, my infinitely various Gabrielle,
infused a portion of its charming spirit into my soul. My mind was
fortified and elevated by your eloquence. Who could think that a woman
of such a lively genius could be so profound? and who could expect from
a woman who has passed her life in the world, such original and deep
reflections? You see you were mistaken when you thought that you had no
genius for philosophic subjects.

After all that has been said by metaphysicians about the existence and
seat of the moral sense, I think I can solve every difficulty by a
new theory. You know some philosophers suppose the moral sense to be
intuitive and inherent in man: others who deny the doctrine of innate
ideas, treat this notion of innate sentiments as equally absurd. There
they certainly are wrong, for sentiments are widely different from
ideas, and I have that within me which convinces my understanding that
sentiments must be innate, and proportioned to the delicacy of our
sensibility; no person of common sense or feeling can doubt this. But
there are other points which I own puzzled me till yesterday: some
metaphysicians would seat the moral sense inherently in the heart,
others would place it intuitively in the brain, all would confine it to
the soul; now in my opinion it resides primarily and principally in the
nerves, and varies with their variations. Hence the difficulty of making
the moral sense a universal guide of action, since it not only differs
in many individuals, but in the same persons at different periods of
their existence, or (as I have often experienced) at different hours of
the day. All this must depend upon the mobility of the nervous system:
upon this may _hinge_ the great difficulties which have puzzled
metaphysicians respecting consciousness, identity, &c. If they had
attended less to the nature of the soul, and more to the system of the
nerves, they would have avoided innumerable errors, and probably would
have made incalculably important discoveries. Nothing is wanting but
some great German genius to bring this idea of a moral sense in the
nerves into fashion. Indeed, if our friend Mad. ---- would mention it
in the notes to her new novel, it would introduce it, in the most
satisfactory manner possible, to all the fashionable world abroad; and
we take our notions in this country implicitly from the continent. As
for you, my dear Gabrielle, I know you cut the Gordian knot at once, by
referring, with your favourite moralist, every principle of human
nature to self-love. This does not quite accord with my ideas; there is
something harsh in it that is repugnant to my sensibility; but you have
a stronger mind than I have, and perhaps your theory is right.

"You tell me I contradict myself continually," says the acute and witty
Duke de la Rochefoucault: "No, but the human heart, of which I treat, is
in perpetual contradiction to itself." Permit me to avail myself of this
answer, dear Gabrielle, if you should accuse me of contradicting in
this letter all that I said to you in my last. A few hours after I had
despatched it, the state of my nerves changed; I saw things of course
in a new light, and repented having exposed myself to your raillery by
writing in such a Magdalen strain. My nerves were more in fault than I.
When one's mind, or one's nerves grow weak, the early associations and
old prejudices of the nursery recur, and tyrannize over one's reason:
from this evil your liberal education and enviable temperament have
preserved you; but have charity for my feminine weakness of frame, which
too often counteracts the masculine strength of my soul. Now that I have
deprecated your ridicule for my last nervous nonsense, I will go on in a
more rational manner. However my better judgment might have been clouded
for a moment, I have recovered strength of mind enough to see that I am
in no way to blame for any thing that has happened. If a man is amiable,
and if I have taste and sensibility, I must see and feel it. "To love,"
as I remember your friend G---- once finely observed to you, "to love,
is a crime only in the eyes of demons, or of priests, who resemble
demons." This is a general proposition, to which none but the prejudiced
can refuse their assent: and what is true in general, must be true
in particular. The _accident_, I use the term philosophically, not
popularly, the accident of a man's being married, or, in other words,
having entered imprudently into a barbarous and absurd civil contract,
cannot alter the nature of things. The essence of truth cannot be
affected by the variation of external circumstances. Now the proper
application of metaphysics frees the mind from vulgar prejudices, and
dissipates the baby terrors of an ill-educated conscience. To fall in
love with a married man, and the husband of your intimate friend! How
dreadful this sounds to some ears! even mine were startled at first,
till I called reason to my assistance. Then I had another difficulty to
combat--to own, and own unasked, a passion to the object of it, would
shock the false delicacy of those who are governed by common forms, and
who are slaves to vulgar prejudices: but a little philosophy liberates
our sex from the tyranny of custom, teaches us to disdain hypocrisy, and
to glory in the simplicity of truth.

Josephine had been perfuming my hair, and I was sitting reading at my
toilette; the door of my dressing-room happened to be half open; L----
was crossing the gallery, and as he passed I suppose his eye was caught
by my hair, or perhaps he paused a moment, I am not certain how it
was--my eyes were on my book.

"Ah! vous avez raison, monsieur, c'est la plus belle chevelure! Mais
entrez donc, monsieur," cried Josephine, whom I can never teach to
comprehend or respect English customs, "Eh! entrez, entrez, monsieur;
madame est à sa toilette."

As I looked up I could not forbear smiling at the extreme ease and
decision of Josephine's manner, and the excessive doubt and anxiety
in the gentleman's appearance. My smile, which, Heaven knows, meant
no encouragement, decided him; timidity instantly gave way to joy; he
entered. What was to be done? I could not turn him out again; I was not
answerable for any foolish conclusions he might draw, from what he ought
in politeness to have considered as a thing of course. All I could do
was to blame Josephine for being a French woman. To defend her, and
flatter me, was the gentleman's part; and, for an Englishman, he really
acquitted himself with tolerable grace. Josephine at least was pleased,
and she found such a perpetual employment for monsieur, and his advice
was so necessary, that there was no chance of his departure: so we
talked of French _toilettes_, &c. &c. in French, for Josephine's
edification: L---- paid me some compliments upon the recovery of my
looks after my illness--I thought I looked terribly languid--but he
assured me that this languor, in his eyes, was an additional grace; I
could not understand this: he fancied that must be because he did not
express himself well in French; he explained himself more clearly in
English, which Josephine, you know, does not understand, so that she
was now forced to be silent, and I was compelled to take my share in
the conversation. L---- made me comprehend, that languor, indicating
sensibility of heart, was to him the most touching of female charms; I
sighed, and took up the book I had been reading; it was the new novel
which you sent me, dear Gabrielle; I talked of it, in hopes of
changing the course of the conversation; alas! this led to one far more
dangerous: he looked at the passage I had been reading. This brought us
back to sensibility again--to sentiments and descriptions so terribly
apposite! we found such a similarity in our tastes! Yet L---- spoke only
in general, and he preserved a command over himself, which provoked me,
though I knew it to be coquetry; I saw the struggle in his mind, and
was determined to force him to be candid, and to enjoy my triumph. With
these views I went farther than I had intended. The charm of sensibility
he had told me was to him irresistible. Alas! I let him perceive all
the weakness of my heart.--Sensibility is the worst time-keeper in
the world. We were neither of us aware of its progressive motion. The
Swiss--my evil genius--the Swiss knocked at the door to let me know
dinner was served. Dinner! on what vulgar incidents the happiness of
life depends! Dinner came between the discovery of my sentiments and
that declaration of passion which I now must hear--or die.

"Le diner! mon Dieu!" cried Josephine. "Mais--finissons donc--la
toilette de madame."

I heard the impertinent Swiss at the other end of the gallery at his
master's door, wondering in broken English where his master could be,
and conjecturing forty absurdities about his boots, and his being out
riding, &c. &c. To sally forth in conscious innocence upon the enemy's
spies, and to terminate the adventure as it was begun, _à la Françoise_,
was my resolution. L---- and Josephine understood me perfectly.

"Eh! Monsieur de Vaud," said Josephine to the Swiss, whom we met on
the landing-place of the stairs, "madame n'est elle pas coeffée à
ravir aujourd'hui? C'est que monsieur vient d'assister à la toilette de
madame." The Swiss bowed, and said nothing. The bow was to his master,
not to me, and it was a bow of duty, not of inclination. I never saw a
man look so like a machine; he did not even raise his eyes upon me or my
_coëffure_ as we passed.

"Bah!" cried Josephine, with an inexpressible accent of mingled
indignation and contempt. She ran down stairs, leaving the Swiss to
his stupidity. I was more afraid of his penetration. But I entered the
dining-room as if nothing extraordinary had happened; and after all,
you know, my dear Gabrielle, nothing extraordinary had befallen us.
A gentleman had assisted at a lady's toilette. Nothing more simple,
nothing, more proper in the meridian of Paris; and does propriety change
with meridians? There was company at dinner, and the conversation was
general and uninteresting; L---- endeavoured to support his part with
vivacity; but he had fits of absence and silence, which might have
alarmed Leonora, if she had any suspicion. But she is now perfectly
secure, and absolutely blind: therefore you see there can be no
danger for her happiness in my remaining where I am. For no earthly
consideration would I disturb her peace of mind; there is no sacrifice
I would hesitate for a moment to make to friendship or virtue, but I
cannot surely be called upon to _plant a dagger in my own heart_ to
destroy, for ever to destroy my own felicity without advantage to my
friend. My attachment to L----, as you say, is involuntary, and my love
as pure as it is fervent. I have reason to believe that his sentiments
are the same for me; but of this I am not yet certain. There is the
danger, and the only real danger for Leonora's happiness; for whilst
this uncertainty and his consequent fits of absence and imprudence last,
there is hazard every moment of her being alarmed. But when L---- once
decides, every thing arranges itself, you know, Gabrielle, and prudence
becomes a duty to ourselves and to Leonora. No word, or look, or
coquetry could then escape us; we should be unpardonable if we did not
conduct ourselves with the most scrupulous delicacy and attention to her
feelings. I am amazed that L----, who has really a good understanding,
does not make these reflections, and is not determined by this
calculation. For his, for my own, but most for Leonora's sake, I
wish that this cruel suspense were at an end. Adieu, dear and amiable
Gabrielle.--These things are managed better in France.

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XL.

MRS. C---- TO MISS B----.


DEAR MARGARET, L---- Castle.

I arrived here late yesterday evening in high spirits, and high hopes of
surprising and delighting all the world by my unexpected appearance;
but my pride was checked, and my tone changed the moment I saw Leonora.
Never was any human being so altered in her looks in so short a time.
I had just, and but just presence of mind enough not to say so. I am
astonished that it does not strike Mr. L----. As soon as she left the
room, I asked him if Lady Leonora had been ill? No; perfectly well!
perfectly well!--Did not he perceive that she looked extremely ill? No;
she might be paler than usual: that was all that Mr. L---- had observed.
Lady Olivia, after a pause, added, that Leonora certainly had not
appeared well lately, but this was nothing extraordinary in her
_situation_. _Situation!_ nonsense! Lady Olivia went on with sentimental
hypocrisy of look and tone, saying fine things, to which I paid little
attention. Virtue in words, and vice in actions! thought I. People, of
certain pretensions in the court of sentiment, think that they can pass
false virtues upon the world for real, as some ladies, entitled by their
rank to wear jewels, appear in false stones, believing that it will be
taken for granted they would wear nothing but diamonds. Not one eye in
a hundred detects the difference at first, but in time the hundredth eye
comes, and then they must for ever hide their diminished rays. Beware!
Lady Olivia, beware!

Leonora is ill, or unhappy, or both; but she will not allow that she
is either. On one subject she is impenetrable: a hundred, a thousand
different ways within these four-and-twenty hours have I led to it, with
all the ingenuity and all the delicacy of which I am mistress; but all
to no purpose. Neither by provocation, persuasion, laughing, teazing,
questioning, cross, or round about, pushing, squeezing, encompassing,
taking for granted, wondering, or blundering, could I gain my point.
Every look guarded--every syllable measured--yet unequivocal--

  "She said no more than just the thing she ought."

Because I could find no fault, I was half angry. I respect the motive
of this reserve; but towards me it is misplaced, and ill-judged, and it
must not exist. I have often declared that I would never condescend to
play the part of a confidante to any princess or heroine upon earth. But
Leonora is neither princess nor heroine, and I would be her confidante,
but she will not let me. Now I am punished for my pride. If she would
only trust me, if she would only tell me what has passed since I went,
and all that now weighs upon her mind, I could certainly be of some use.
I could and would say every thing that she might scruple to hint to Lady
Olivia, and I will answer for it I would make her raise the siege. But
I cannot believe Mr. L---- to be such a madman as to think of attaching
himself seriously to a woman like Olivia, when he has such a wife as
Leonora. That he was amusing himself with Olivia I saw, or thought I
saw, some time ago, and I rather wondered that Leonora was uneasy: for
all husbands will flirt, and all wives must bear it, thought I. When
such a coquette as this fell in his way, and made advances, he would
have been more than man if he had receded. Of course, I thought, he must
despise and laugh at her all the time he was flattering and gallanting
her ladyship. This would have been fair play, and comic; but the comedy
should have ended by this time. I am now really afraid it will turn into
a tragedy. I, even I! am alarmed. I must prevail upon Leonora to speak
to me without reserve. I see her suffer, and I must share her grief.
Have not I always done so from the time we were children? and now, when
she most wants a friend, am not I worthy to share her confidence? Can
she mistake friendship for impertinent curiosity? Does not she know that
I would not be burthened with the secrets of any body whom I did not
love? If she thinks otherwise, she does me injustice, and I will tell
her so before I sleep. She does not know how well I love her.

       *       *       *       *       *

My dear Margaret, Leonora and I have had a quarrel--the first serious
quarrel we ever had in our lives; and the end of it is, that she is an
angel, and I am a fool. Just as I laid down my pen after writing to you,
though it was long past midnight, I marched into Leonora's apartment,
resolved to surprise or to force her confidence. I found her awake, as
I expected, and up and dressed, as I did not expect, sitting in her
dressing-room, her head leaning upon her hand. I knew what she was
thinking of; she had a heap of Mr. L----'s old letters beside her. She
denied that she was in tears, and I will not swear to the tears, but
I think I saw signs of them notwithstanding. I spoke out;--but in
vain--all in vain. At last I flew into a passion, and reproached her
bitterly. She answered me with that air of dignified tenderness which
is peculiar to her--"If you believe me to be unhappy, my dear Helen,
is this a time to reproach me unjustly?" I was brought to reason and to
tears, and after asking pardon, like a foolish naughty child, was kissed
and forgiven, upon a promise never to do so any more; a promise which I
hope Heaven will grant me grace and strength of mind enough to keep. I
was certainly wrong to attempt to force her secret from her. Leonora's
confidence is always given, never yielded; and in her, openness is a
virtue, not a weakness. But I wish she would not contrive to be always
in the right. In all our quarrels, in all the variations of my humour,
I am obliged to end by doing homage to her reason, as the Chinese
mariners, in every change of weather, burn incense before the needle.

Your affectionate

HELEN C----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XLI.

MR. L---- TO GENERAL B----.


MY DEAR GENERAL, L---- Castle, Friday.

I hoped that you would have favoured us with a passing visit in your
way from town, but I know you will tell me that friendship must not
interfere with the interests of the service. I have reason to curse
those interests; they are for ever at variance with mine. I had a
particular desire to speak to you upon a subject, on which it is not
agreeable to me to write. Lady Leonora also wished extremely, and
disinterestedly, for your company. She does not know how much she
is obliged to you. The laconic advice you gave me, some time ago,
influenced my conduct longer, than counsel which is in opposition to
our passions usually does, and it has haunted my imagination
perpetually:--"My dear L----, do not end by being the dupe of a
_Frenchified coquette_."

My dear friend, of that there is no danger. No man upon earth despises
or detests coquettes more than I do, be they French or English. I think,
however, that a foreign-born, or foreign-bred coquette, has more of the
ease of _practice_, and less of the awkwardness of conscience, than
a home-bred flirt, and is in reality less blamable, for she breaks no
restraints of custom or education; she does only what she has seen her
mother do before her, and what is authorized by the example of most of
the fashionable ladies of her acquaintance. But let us put flirts and
coquettes quite out of the question. My dear general, you know that I am
used to women, and take it upon my word, that the lady to whom I allude
is more tender and passionate than vain. Every woman has, or has had,
a tincture of vanity; but there are a few, and those are to me the most
amiable of the sex, who

  "Feel every vanity in fondness lost."

You know that I am delicate, even fastidious, in my taste for female
manners. Nothing can in my opinion make amends for any offence against
propriety, except it be sensibility--genuine, generous sensibility.
This can, in my mind, cover a multitude of faults. There is so much
of selfishness, of hypocrisy, of coldness, in what is visually called
female virtue, that I often turn with distaste from those to whom I am
compelled to do homage, for the sake of the general good of society. I
am not _charlatan_ enough to pretend upon all occasions to prefer the
public advantage to my own. I confess, that let a woman be ever so fair,
or good, or wise:

 "Be she with that goodness blest
  Which may merit name of best,
  If she be not such to me,
  What care I how good she be?"

And I will further acknowledge, that I am not easily satisfied with the
manner in which a woman is kind to me: if it be duty-work kindness, I
would not give thanks for it: it is done for her reputation, not for me,
and let the world thank her. To _the best of wives_, I should make the
worst of husbands. No--I should, I hope, pay her in her own coin, with
all due observances, attentions, and respect, but without one grain of
love. Love is only to be had for love; and without it, nothing a woman
can give appears to me worth having. I do not desire to be loved well
enough to satisfy fathers and mothers, and uncles and aunts; well enough
to decide a woman to marry me rather than disoblige her friends, or run
the chance of having _many a worse offer_, and living perhaps to be an
old maid. I do not desire to be loved well enough to keep a woman true
and faithful to me "_till death us do part_:" in short, I do not desire
to be loved well enough for a husband; I desire to be loved sufficiently
for a lover; not only above all other persons, but above all other
things, all other considerations--to be the first and last object in the
heart of the woman to whom I am attached: I wish to feel that I sustain
and fill the whole of her heart. I must be certain that I am every
thing to her, as she is every thing to me; that there is no imaginable
situation in which she would not live with me, in which she would not be
happy to live with me; no possible sacrifice that she would not make for
me; or rather, that nothing she could do should appear a sacrifice. Are
these exorbitant expectations? I am capable of all this, and more, for
a woman I love; and it is my pride or my misfortune to be able to love
upon no other terms. Such proofs of attachment it may be difficult to
obtain, and even to give; more difficult, I am sensible, for a wife
than for a mistress. A young lady who is married _secundum artem_, with
licence and consent of friends, can give no extraordinary instances of
affection. I should not consider it as an indisputable proof of love,
that she does me the honour to give me her hand in a church, or that she
condescends to bespeak my liveries, or to be handed into her own coach
with all the blushing honours of a bride; all the paraphernalia of a
wife secured, all the prudent and necessary provision made both for
matrimonial love and hatred, dower, pin-money, and separate maintenance
on the one hand, and on the other, lands, tenements, and hereditaments
for the future son and heir, and sums without end for younger children
to the tenth and twentieth possibility, _as the case may be, nothing
herein contained to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding_. Such a
jargon Cupid does not understand. A woman may love this most convenient
personage, her lawful husband; but I should think it difficult for the
delicacy of female passion to survive the cool preparations for hymeneal
felicity. At all events, you will allow the lady makes no sacrifice, she
shows no great generosity, and she may, or she may not, be touched at
the altar by the divine flame. My good general, when you are a husband
you will feel these things as I do; till then, it is very easy to talk
as you do, and to admire other men's wives, and to wish Heaven had
blessed you with such a treasure. For my part, the single idea, that
a woman thinks it her duty to be fond of me, would deprive me of all
pleasure in her love. No man can be more sensible than I am of the
amiable and estimable qualities of Lady Leonora L----; I should be a
brute and a liar if I hesitated to give the fullest testimony in her
praise; but such is the infirmity of my nature, that I could pardon some
faults more easily, than I could like some virtues. The virtues which
leave me in doubt of a woman's love, I can esteem, but that is all. Lady
Leonora is calm, serene, perfectly sweet-tempered, without jealousy and
without suspicion; in one word, without love. If she loved me, she never
could have been the wife she has been for some months past. You will
laugh at my being angry with a wife for not being jealous. But so it is.
Certain defects of temper I could bear, if I considered them as symptoms
of strong affection. When I for a moment believed that Leonora suffered,
when I attributed her fainting at our fête champêtre to jealousy, I was
so much alarmed and touched, that I absolutely forgot her rival. I did
more; to prevent her feeling uneasiness, to destroy the suspicions which
I imagined had been awakened in her mind, I hesitated not to sacrifice
all the pleasure and all the vanity which a man of my age might
reasonably be supposed to feel in the prospect of a new and not
inglorious conquest; I left home immediately, and went to meet you, my
dear friend, on your return from abroad. This visit I do not set down
to your account, but to that of honour--foolish, unnecessary honour. You
half-persuaded me, that your hearsay Parisian evidence was more to be
trusted than my own judgment, and I returned home with the resolution
not to be the dupe of a coquette. Leonora's reception of me was
delightful; I never saw her in such spirits, or so amiable. But I could
not help wishing to ascertain whether I had attributed her fainting to
the real cause. This proof I tempted to my cost. Instead of showing any
tender alarm at the renewal of my obvious attentions to her rival, she
was perfectly calm and collected, went on with her usual occupations,
fulfilled all her duties, never reproached me by word or look, never for
one moment betrayed impatience, ill-humour, suspicion, or jealousy; in
short, I found that I had been fool enough to attribute to excess of
affection, an accident which proceeded merely from the situation of her
health. If anxiety of mind had been the cause of her fainting at the
fête champêtre, she would since have felt and shown agitation on a
thousand occasions, where she has been perfectly tranquil. Her friend
Mrs. C----, who returned here a few days ago, seems to imagine that
Leonora looks ill; but I shall not again be led to mistake bodily
indisposition for mental suffering. Leonora's conduct argues great
insensibility of soul, or great command; great insensibility, I think:
for I cannot imagine such command of temper possible to any, but a
woman who feels indifference for the offender. Yet, even now that I have
steeled myself with this conviction, I am scarcely bold enough to hazard
the chance of giving her pain. Absurd weakness! It has been clearly
proved to my understanding, that my irresolution, my scruples of
conscience, my combats between love and esteem, are more likely to
betray the real state of my mind than any decision that I could make.
I decide, then--I determine to be happy with a woman who has a soul
capable of feeling, not merely what is called conjugal affection, but
the passion of love; who is capable of sacrificing every thing to love;
who has given me proofs of candour and greatness of mind, which I value
far above all her wit, grace, and beauty. My dear general, I know all
that you can tell, all that you can hint concerning her history abroad.
I know it from her own lips. It was told to me in a manner that made her
my admiration. It was told to me as a preservative against the danger
of loving her. It was told to me with the generous design of protecting
Leonora's happiness; and all this at the moment when I was beloved,
tenderly beloved. She is above dissimulation: she scorns the arts, the
fears of her sex. She knows you are her enemy, and yet she esteems you;
she urged me to speak to you with the utmost openness: "Let me never,"
said she, "be the cause of your feeling less confidence or less
affection for the best of friends."

R---- is sacrificed to me; that R----, with whose cursed name you
tormented me. My dear friend, she will force your admiration, as she has
won my love.

Yours sincerely,

F. L----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XLII.

MRS. C---- TO MISS B----.


L---- Castle.

As I am not trusted with the secret, I may, my dear Margaret, use my
own eyes and ears as I please to find it out; and I know Leonora's
countenance so well, that I see every thing that passes in her mind,
just as clearly as if she had told it to me in words.

It grieves me, more than I can express, to see her suffering as she
does. I am now convinced that she has reason to be unhappy; and what is
worse, I do not see what course she can follow to recover her happiness.
All her forbearance, all her patience, all her sweet temper, I perceive,
are useless, or worse than useless, injurious to her in her strange
husband's opinion. I never liked him thoroughly, and now I detest him.
He thinks her cold, insensible! She insensible!--Brute! Idiot! Every
thing that she says or does displeases him. The merest trifles excite
the most cruel suspicions. He totally misunderstands her character, and
sees every thing about her in a false light. In short, he is under
the dominion of an artful fiend, who works as she pleases upon his
passions--upon his pride, which is his ruling passion.

This evening Lady Olivia began confessing that she had too much
sensibility, that she was of an excessively susceptible temper, and
that she should be terribly jealous of the affections of any person she
loved. She did not know how love _could_ exist without jealousy. Mr.
L---- was present, and listening eagerly. Leonora's lips were silent;
not so her countenance. I was in hopes Mr. L---- would have remarked its
beautiful touching expression; but his eyes were fixed upon Olivia. I
could have ... but let me go on. Lady Olivia had the malice suddenly
to appeal to Leonora, and asked whether she was never jealous of her
husband? Leonora, astonished by her assurance, paused for an instant,
and then replied, "It would be difficult to convince me that I had any
reason to be jealous of Mr. L----, I esteem him so much."--"I wish to
Heaven!" exclaimed Lady Olivia, her eyes turned upwards with a fine St.
Cecilia expression, whilst Mr. L----'s attention was fixed upon her,
"Would to Heaven I was blessed with such a _reasonable_ temper!"--"When
you are wishing to Heaven, Lady Olivia," said I, "had not you better ask
for _all you want_ at once; not only such a reasonable temper, but such
a feeling heart?"

Some of the company smiled. Lady Olivia, practised as she is, looked
disconcerted; Mr. L---- grave and impenetrable; Leonora, blushing,
turned away to the piano-forte. Mr. L---- remained talking with Lady
Olivia, and he neither saw nor heard her. If Leonora had sung like an
angel, it would have made no impression. She turned over the leaves
of her music quickly, to a lively air, and played it immediately, to
prevent my perceiving how much she felt. Poor Leonora! you are but a bad
dissembler, and it is in vain to try to conceal yourself from me.

I was so sorry for her, and so incensed with Olivia this night, that I
could not restrain myself, and I made matters worse. At supper I came
almost to open war with her ladyship. I cannot remember exactly what
I said, but I know that I threw out the most severe inuendoes which
politeness could permit: and what _was_ the consequence? Mr. L----
pitied Olivia and hated me; Leonora was in misery the whole time; and
her husband probably thought that she was the instigator, though she was
perfectly innocent. My dear Margaret, where will all this end? and how
much more mischief shall I do with the best intentions possible?

Yours affectionately,

HELEN C----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XLIII.

GENERAL B---- TO MR. L----.


Your letter has travelled after me God knows where, my dear L----, and
has caught me at last with my foot in the stirrup. I have just had time
to look it over. I find, in short, that you are in love. I give you joy!
But be in love like a madman, not like a fool. Call a demirep an angel,
and welcome; but remember, that such angels are to be had any day in
the year; and such a wife as yours is not to be had for the mines of
Golconda. Coin your heart, and drop your blood for it, and you will
never be loved by any other woman so well as you are by Lady Leonora
L----.

As to your jealous hypochondriacism, more of that when I have more
leisure. In the mean time I wish it well cured.

I am, my dear friend,

Yours truly,

J. B.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XLIV.

OLIVIA TO MADAME DE P----.


L---- Castle.

I Triumph! dear Gabrielle, give me joy! Never was triumph more complete.
L---- loves me! That I knew long ago; but I have at last forced from his
proud heart the avowal of his passion. Love and Olivia are victorious
over scruples, prejudice, pride, and superstition!

Leonora feels not--sees not: she requires, she excites no pity. Long may
her delusion last! But even were it this moment to dissipate, what cause
have I for remorse? "Who is most to blame, he who ceases to love, or
she who ceases to please?" Leonora perhaps thinks that she loves her
husband; and no doubt she does so in a conjugal sort of a way: he _has_
loved his wife; but be it mine to prove that his heart is suited to far
other raptures; and if Olivia be called upon for sacrifices, _Olivia_
can make them.

 "Let wealth, let honour wait the wedded dame,
  August her deed, and sacred be her fame;
  Before true passion, all those views remove,
  Fame, wealth, and honour, what are you to love?"

These lines, though quoted perpetually by the tender and passionate,
can never become stale and vulgar; they will always recur in certain
situations to persons of delicate sensibility, for they at once express
all that can be said, and justify all that can be felt. My amiable
Gabrielle, adieu. Pardon me if to-day I have no soul even for
friendship. This day is all for love.

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XLV.

GENERAL B---- TO MR. L----.


What the devil would you have of your wife, my dear L----? You would
be loved above all earthly considerations; honour, duty, virtue, and
religion inclusive, would you? and you would have a wife with her
head in the clouds, would you? I wish you were married to one of the
all-for-love heroines, who would treat you with bowl and dagger every
day of your life. In your opinion sensibility covers a multitude of
faults--you would have said _sins_: so it had need, for it produces
a multitude. Pray what brings hundreds and thousands of women to the
Piazzas of Covent Garden but sensibility? What does the colonel's, and
the captain's, and the ensign's mistress talk of but _sensibility_? And
are you, my dear friend, to be duped by this hackneyed word? And should
you really think it an indisputable proof of a lady's love, that she
would jump out of a two pair of stairs window into your arms? Now I
should think myself sure of such a woman's love only just whilst I held
her, and scarcely then; for I, who in my own way am jealous as well
as yourself, should in this case be jealous of wickedness, and should
strongly suspect that she would love the first devil that she saw better
than me.

You are always raving about sacrifices. Your Cupid must be a very
vindictive little god. Mine is a good-humoured, rosy little fellow, who
desires no better than to see me laugh and be happy. But to every man
his own Cupid. If you cannot believe in love without sacrifices, you
must have them, to be sure. And now, in sober sadness, what do you think
your heroine would sacrifice for you? Her reputation? that, pardon me,
is out of her power. Her virtue? I have no doubt she would. But before I
can estimate the value of this sacrifice, I must know whether she makes
it to you or to her pleasure. Would she give up in any instance her
pleasure for your happiness? This is not an easy matter to ascertain
with respect to a mistress: but your wife has put it beyond a doubt,
that she prefers your happiness not only to her pleasure, but to her
pride, and to every thing that the sex usually prefer to a husband. You
have been wounded by a poisoned arrow; but you have a faithful wife who
can extract the poison. Lady Leonora's affection is not a mere fit of
goodness and generosity, such as I have seen in many women, but it is a
steadiness of attachment in the hour of trial, which I have seen in few.
For several months past you have, by your own account, put her temper
and her love to the most severe tests, yet she has never failed for one
moment, never reproached you by word or look.--But may be she has no
feeling.--No feeling! you can have none, if you say so: no penetration,
if you think so. Would not you think me a tyrant if I put a poor fellow
on the picket, and told you, when he bore it without a groan, that it
was because he could not feel? You do worse, you torture the soul of the
woman who loves you; she endures, she is calm, she smiles upon you
even in agony; and you tell me she cannot feel! she cannot feel like an
Olivia! No; and so much the better for her husband, for she will then
have only feeling enough for him, she will not extend her charity to all
his sex. But Olivia has such candour and magnanimity, that I must admire
her! I humbly thank her for offering to make me her confidant, for
offering to tell me what I know already, and what she is certain that
I know. These were good moves, but I understand the game as well as her
ladyship does. As to her making a friend of me; if she means an enemy to
Lady Leonora L----, I would sooner see her--in heaven: but if she would
do me the favour to think no more of your heart, which is too good for
her, and to accept of my--my--what shall I say?--my devoirs, I am at her
command. She shall drive my curricle, &c. &c. She would suit me vastly
well for a month or two, and by that time poor R---- would make his
appearance, or somebody in his stead: at the worst, I should have
a chance of some blessed metaphysical quirk, which would prove that
inconstancy was a virtue, or that a new love is better than an old
one. When it came to that, I should make my best bow, put on my most
disconsolate face, and retire.

You will read all this in a very different spirit from that in which
it is written. If you are angry--no matter: I am cool. I tell you
beforehand, that I will not fight you for any thing I have said in this
letter, or that I ever may say about your Olivia. Therefore, my dear
L----, save yourself the trouble of challenging me. I thank God I have
reputation enough to be able to dispense with the glory of blowing out
your brains.

Yours truly,

J. B.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XLVI.

OLIVIA TO MADAME DE P----.


We have been very gay here the last few days: the gallant and
accomplished Prince ---- has been here. H----, the witty H----, who is
his favourite companion, introduced him; and he seems so much
charmed with the old castle, its towers and battlements, and with its
_cynosure_, that I know not when he will be able to prevail upon himself
to depart. To-morrow, he says; but so he has said these ten days:
he cannot resist the entreaties of his kind host and hostess to stay
another day. The soft accent of the beautiful Leonora will certainly
detain him _one day more_, and her gracious smile will bereave him of
rest for months to come. He has evidently fallen desperately in love
with her. Now we shall see virtue in danger.

I have always been of opinion with St. Evremond and Ninon de l'Enclos,
that no female virtue can stand every species of test; fortunately it
is not always exposed to trial. Reputation may be preserved by certain
persons in certain situations, upon very easy terms. Leonora, for
instance, is armed so strong in character, that no common mortal will
venture to attack her. It would be presumption little short of high
treason to imagine the fall of the Lady Leonora L----, the daughter of
the Duchess of ----, who, with a long line of immaculate baronesses
in their own right, each in her armour of stiff stays, stands frowning
defiance upon the adventurous knights. More alarming still to the modern
seducer, appears a judge in his long wig, and a jury with their
long faces, ready to bring in their verdict, and to award damages
proportionate to the rank and fortune of the parties. Then the former
reputation of the lady is talked of, and the irreparable injury
sustained by the disconsolate husband from the loss of the solace and
affection of this paragon of wives. And it is proved that she lived in
the most perfect harmony with him, till the vile seducer appeared; who,
in aggravation of damages, was a confidential friend of the husband's,
&c. &c. &c. &c. &c.

Brave, indeed, and desperately in love must be the man, who could dare
all these to deserve the fair. But princes are, it is said, naturally
brave, and ambitious of conquering difficulties.

I have insinuated these reflections in a general way to L----, who
applies them so as to plague himself sufficiently. Heaven is my witness,
that I mean no injury to Lady Leonora; yet I fear that there
are moments, when my respect for her superiority, joined to the
consciousness of my own weakness, overpowers me, and I almost envy
her the right she retains to the esteem of the man I love. This is a
blamable weakness--I know it--I reproach myself bitterly; but all I can
do is to confess it candidly. L---- sees my conflicts, and knows how to
value the sensibility of my fond heart. Adieu, my Gabrielle. When shall
I be happy? since even love has its torments, and I am thus doomed to be
ever a victim to the tenderness of my soul.

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XLVII.

MRS. C---- TO MISS B----.


I do not know whether I pity, love, or admire Leonora most. Just when
her mind was deeply wounded by her husband's neglect, and when her
jealousy was worked to the highest pitch by his passion for her
dangerous rival, the Prince ---- arrives here, and struck by Leonora's
charms of mind and person, falls passionately in love with her. Probably
his highness's friend H---- had given him a hint of the existing
circumstances, and he thought a more propitious moment could scarcely be
found for making an impression upon a female mind. He judged of Leonora
by other women. And I, like a simpleton, judged of her by myself. With
shame I confess to you, my dear Margaret, that notwithstanding all my
past experience, I did expect that she would have done, as I am afraid
I should have done in her situation. I think that I could not have
resisted the temptation of coquetting a little--a very little--just
to revive the passion of the man whom I really loved. This expedient
succeeds so often with that wise sex, who never rightly know the value
of a heart, except when they have just won it, or at the moment when
they are on the point of losing it. In Leonora's place and in such
an emergency, I should certainly have employed that frightful monster
jealousy to waken sleeping love; since he, and only he, can do it
expeditiously and effectually. This I have hinted to Leonora, talking
always _in generals_; for, since my total overthrow, I have never dared
to come to particulars: but by putting cases and _confessing myself_, I
contrived to make my thoughts understood. I then boasted of the extreme
facility of the means I would adopt to recover a heart. Leonora answered
in the words of a celebrated great man:--"C'est facile de se servir de
pareils moyens; c'est difficile de s'y résoudre."

"But if no other means would succeed," said I, "would not you sacrifice
your pride to your love?"

"My pride, willingly; but not my sense of what is right," said she, with
an indescribable mixture of tenderness and firmness in her manner.

"Can a little coquetry in a good cause be such a heinous offence?"
persisted I. I knew that I was wrong all the time; but I delighted in
seeing how right she was.

No--she would not allow her mind to be cheated by female sophistry; nor
yet by the male casuistry of, "the end sanctifies the means."

"If you had the misfortune to lose the affections of the man you love,
and if you were quite certain of regaining them by following my recipe?"
said I.

Never shall I forget the look with which Leonora left me, and the accent
with which she said, "My dear Helen, if it were ever to be my misfortune
to lose my husband's love, I would not, even if I were certain of
success, attempt to regain it by any unworthy arts. How could I wish to
regain his love at the hazard of losing his esteem, and the certainty of
forfeiting my own!"

I said no more--I had nothing more to say: I saw that I had given pain,
and I have never touched upon the subject since. But her practice is
even beyond her theory. Never, by deed, or look, or word, or thought
(for I see all her thoughts in her eloquent countenance), has
she swerved from her principles. No prudery--no coquetry--no
mock-humility--no triumph. Never for an instant did she, by a proud air,
say to her husband,--See what others think of me! Never did a resentful
look say to him--Inconstant!--revenge is in my power! Never even did a
reproachful sigh express--I am injured, yet I do not retaliate.

Mr. L----is blind; he is infatuated; he is absolutely bereaved of
judgment by a perfidious, ungrateful, and cruel wretch. Let me vent my
indignation to you, dear Margaret, or it will explode, perhaps, when it
may do Leonora mischief. Yours affectionately, Helen C----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XLVIII.

OLIVIA TO MADAME DE F----.


L---- Castle.

This Lady Leonora, in her simplicity, never dreamed of love till the
prince's passion was too visible and audible to be misunderstood:
and then she changed her tone, and checked her simplicity, and was so
reserved, and so dignified, and so _proper_, it was quite edifying,
especially to a poor sinner of a coquette like me; nothing _piquante_;
nothing _agaçante_; nothing _demi-voílée_; no retiring to be pursued;
not a single manoeuvre of coquetry did she practise. This convinces me
that she cares not in the least for her husband; because, if she really
loved him, and wished to reclaim his heart, what so natural or so simple
as to excite his jealousy, and thus revive his love? After neglecting
this golden opportunity, she can never convince me that she is really
anxious about her husband's heart. This I hinted to L----, and his own
susceptibility had hinted it to him efficaciously, before I spoke.

Though Leonora has been so correct hitherto, and so cold to the prince
in her husband's presence, I have my suspicions that, if in his absence,
proper means were taken, if her pride were roused by apt suggestions, if
it were delicately pointed out to her that she is shamefully neglected,
that she is a cipher in her own house, that her husband presumes too
much upon her sweetness of temper, that his inconstancy is wondered at
by all who have eyes, and that a little retaliation might become her
ladyship, I would not answer for her forbearance, that is to say if all
this were done by a dexterous man, a lover and a prince! I shall take
care my opinions shall be known; for I cannot endure to have the esteem
of the man I love monopolized. Exposed to temptation, as I have been,
and with as ardent affections, Leonora, or I am much mistaken, would
not have been more estimable. Adieu, my dearest Gabrielle. Nous verrons!
nous verrons!

OLIVIA.

Sunday evening.

P.S. I open my letter to tell you that the prince is actually gone.
Doubtless he will return at a more auspicious moment.

Lady M---- and all the troop of friends are to depart on Monday; all but
_the_ bosom friend, _l'amie intime_, that insupportable Helen, who is
ever at daggers-drawing with me. So much the better! L---- sees her
cabals with his wife; she is a partisan without the art to be so to any
purpose, and her manoeuvres tend only to increase his partiality for his
Olivia.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XLIX.

OLIVIA TO MADAME DE P----.


L---- Castle.

       *       *       *       *       *

* * * * * In short, Leonora has discovered all that she might have seen
months ago between her husband and me. What will be the consequence?
I long, yet almost fear, to meet her again. She is now in her own
apartment, writing, I presume, to her mother for advice.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER L.

LEONORA TO OLIVIA.

[Left on Lady Olivia's dressing-table.]


O you, whom no kindness can touch, whom no honour can bind, whom no
faith can hold, enjoy the torments you have inflicted on me! enjoy the
triumph of having betrayed a confiding friend! Friend no more--affect,
presume no longer to call me friend! I am under no necessity to
dissemble, and dissimulation is foreign to my habits, and abhorrent to
my nature! I know you to be my enemy, and I say so--my most cruel enemy;
one who could, without reluctance or temptation, rob me of all I hold
most dear. Yes, without temptation; for you do not love my husband,
Olivia. On this point I cannot be mistaken; I know too well what it
is to love him. Had you been struck by his great or good and amiable
qualities, charmed by his engaging manners, or seduced by the violence
of his passion; and had I seen you honourably endeavour to repress that
passion; had I seen in you the slightest disposition to sacrifice your
pleasure or your vanity to friendship or to duty, I think I could have
forgiven, I am sure I should have pitied you. But you felt no pity for
me, no shame for yourself; you made no attempt to avoid, you invited the
danger. Mr. L---- was not the deceiver, but the deceived. By every
art and every charm in your power--and you have many--you won upon his
senses and worked upon his imagination; you saw, and made it your pride
to conquer the scruples of that affection he once felt for his wife,
and that wife was your friend. By passing bounds, which he could not
conceive that any woman could pass, except in the delirium of passion,
you made him believe that your love for him exceeds all that I feel. How
he will find himself deceived! If you had loved him as I do, you could
not so easily have forfeited all claim to his esteem. Had you loved him
so much, you would have loved honour more.

It is possible that Mr. L---- may taste some pleasure with you whilst
his delusion lasts, whilst his imagination paints you, as mine once
did, in false colours, possessed of generous virtues, and the victim
of excessive sensibility: but when he sees you such as you are, he will
recoil from you with aversion, he will reject you with contempt.

Knowing my opinion of you, Lady Olivia, you will not choose to remain in
this house; nor can I desire for my guest one whom I can no longer, in
private or in public, make my companion.

Adieu.

Leonora L----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LI.

OLIVIA TO MR. L----.


L---- Castle, Midnight.

Farewell for ever!--It must be so--Farewell for ever! Would to Heaven
I had summoned courage sooner to pronounce these fatal, necessary,
irrevocable words: then had I parted from you without remorse, without
the obloquy to which I am now exposed. Oh, my dearest L----! Mine, do
I still dare to call you? Yes, mine for the last time, I must call
you, mine I must fancy you, though for the impious thought the Furies
themselves were to haunt me to madness. My dearest L----, never more
must we meet in this world! Think not that my weak voice alone forbids
it: no, a stronger voice than mine is heard--an injured wife reclaims
you. What a letter have I just received...!--from.....Leonora! She tells
me that she no longer desires for her guest one whom she cannot, in
public or private, make her companion--Oh, Leonora, it was sufficient
to banish me from your heart! She tells me not only that I have for ever
forfeited her confidence; her esteem, her affection; but that I shall
soon be your aversion and contempt. Oh, cruel, cruel words! But I
submit--I have deserved it all--I have robbed her of a heart above all
price. Leonora, why did you not reproach me more bitterly? I desire,
I implore to be crushed, to be annihilated by your vengeance! Most
admirable, most virtuous, most estimable of women, best of wives, I have
with sacrilegious love profaned a soul consecrated to you and conjugal
virtue. I acknowledge my crime; trample upon me as you will, I am
humbled in the dust. More than all your bitterest reproaches, do I
feel the remorse of having, for a moment, interrupted such serenity of
happiness.

Oh, why did you persuade me, L----, and why did I believe that Leonora
was calm and free from all suspicion? How could I believe that any woman
whom you had ever loved, could remain blind to your inconstancy, or feel
secure indifference? Happy woman! in you to love is not a crime; you
may glory in your passion, whilst I must hide mine from every human eye,
drop in shameful secrecy the burning tear, stifle the struggling sigh,
blush at the conflicts of virtue and sensibility, and carry shame
and remorse with me to the grave. Happy Leonora! happy even when most
injured, you have a right to complain to him you love;--he is yours--you
are his wife--his esteem, his affection are yours. On Olivia he has
bestowed but a transient thought, and eternal ignominy must be her
portion. So let it be--so I wish it to be. Would to Heaven I may thus
atone for the past, and secure your future felicity! Fly to her, my
dearest L----, I conjure you! throw yourself at her feet, entreat,
implore, obtain her forgiveness. She cannot refuse it to your tears, to
your caresses. To withstand them she must be more or less than woman.
No, she cannot resist your voice when it speaks words of peace and love;
she will press you with transport to her heart, and Olivia, poor Olivia,
will be for ever forgotten; yet she will rejoice in your felicity;
absolved perhaps in the eye of Heaven, though banished from your
society, she will die content.

Full well am I aware of the consequences of quitting thus precipitately
the house of Lady Leonora L----; but nothing that concerns myself alone
can, for a moment, make me hesitate to do that, which the sentiment of
virtue dictates, and which is yet more strongly urged by regard for
the happiness of one, who once allowed me to call her friend. I know
my reputation is irrecoverably sacrificed; but it is to one for whom I
would lay down my life. Can a woman who feels as I do deem any earthly
good a sacrifice for him she loves? Dear L----, adieu for ever!

Olivia.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LII.

LEONORA TO THE DUCHESS OF ----.


Dearest Mother,

It is all over--my husband is gone--gone perhaps for ever--all is in
vain--all is lost!

Without saying more to you than I ought, I may tell you, that in
consequence of an indignant letter which I wrote last night to Lady
Olivia, she left my house this morning early, before any of the family
were up. Mr. L---- heard of her departure before I did. He has, I will
not say followed her, for of that I am not certain; but he has quitted
home, and without giving me one kind look at parting, without even
noticing a letter which I left last night upon his table. At what slight
things we catch to save us from despair! How obstinate, how vain is
hope! I fondly hoped, even to the last moment, that this letter, this
foolish letter, would work a sudden change in my husband's heart, would
operate miracles, would restore me to happiness. I fancied, absurdly
fancied, that laying open my whole soul to him would have an effect upon
his mind. Alas! has not my whole soul been always open to him? Could
this letter tell him any thing but what he knows already, or what he
will never know--how well I love him! I was weak to expect so much from
it; yet as it expressed without complaint the anguish of disappointed
affection, it deserved at least some acknowledgment. Could not he have
said, "My dear Leonora, I thank you for your letter?"--or more colder
still--"Leonora, I have received your letter?" Even that would have been
some relief to me: but now all is despair. I saw him just when he was
going away, but for a moment; till the last instant he was not to be
seen; then, in spite of all his command of countenance, I discerned
strong marks of agitation; but towards me an air of resentment, more
than any disposition to kinder thoughts. I fancy that he scarcely knew
what he said, nor, I am sure, did I. He talked, I remember, of having
immediate business in town, and I endeavoured to believe him. Contrary
to his usual composed manner, he was in such haste to be gone, that I
was obliged to send his watch and purse after him, which he had left on
his dressing-table. How melancholy his room looked to me! His clothes
just as he had left them--a rose which Lady Olivia gave him yesterday
was in water on his table. My letter was not there; so he has it,
probably unread. He will read it some time or other, perhaps--and some
time or other, perhaps, when I am dead and gone, he will believe I loved
him. Could he have known what I felt at the moment when he turned from
me, he would have pitied me; for his nature, his character, cannot be
quite altered in a few months, though he has ceased to love Leonora.
From the window of his own room I watched for the last glimpse
of him--heard him call to the postilions, and bid them "drive
fast--faster." This was the last sound I heard of his voice. When shall
I hear that voice again? I think that I shall certainly hear from him
the day after to-morrow--and I wish to-day and to-morrow were gone.

I am afraid that you will think me very weak; but, my dear mother, I
have no motive for fortitude now; and perhaps it might have been better
for me, if I had not exerted so much. I begin to fear that all my
fortitude is mistaken for indifference. Something Mr. L---- said
the other day, about sensibility and sacrifices, gave me this idea.
Sensibility!--It has been my hard task for some months past to repress
mine, that it might not give pain or disgust. I have done all that
my reason and my dearest mother counselled; surely I cannot have done
wrong. How apt we are to mistake the opinion or the taste of the man we
love for the rule of right! Sacrifices! What sacrifices can I make?--All
that I have, is it not his?--My whole heart, is it not his? Myself,
all that I am, all that I _can_ be? Have I not lived with him of late,
without recalling to his mind the idea that I suffer by his neglect?
Have I not left his heart at liberty, and can I make a greater
sacrifice? I really do not understand what he means by sacrifices. A
woman who loves her husband is part of him; whatever she does for him
is for herself. I wish he would explain to me what he can mean by
sacrifices--but when will he ever again explain his thoughts and
feelings to me?

My dearest mother, it has been a relief to my mind to write all this to
you; if there is no sense in it, you will forgive and encourage me by
your affection and strength of mind, which, in all situations, have such
power to soothe and support your daughter.

The prince ----, who spent a fortnight here, paid me particular
attention.

The prince talked of soon paying us another visit. If he should, I will
not receive him in Mr. L----'s absence. This may seem like vanity or
prudery; but no matter what it appears, if it be right.

Well might you, my best friend, bid me beware of forming an intimacy
with an unprincipled woman. I have suffered severely for neglecting your
counsels; how much I have still to endure is yet to be tried: but I can
never be entirely miserable whilst I possess, and whilst I hope that I
deserve, the affection of such a mother.

LEONORA L----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LIII.

THE DUCHESS OF ---- TO HER DAUGHTER.


If my approbation and affection can sustain you in this trying
situation, your fortitude will not forsake you, my beloved daughter.
Great minds rise in adversity; they are always equal to the trial, and
superior to injustice: betrayed and deserted, they feel their own force,
and they rely upon themselves. Be yourself, my Leonora! Persevere as
you have begun, and, trust me, you will be happy. I abide by my first
opinion, I repeat my prophecy--your husband's esteem, affection, love,
will be permanently yours. Change of circumstances, however alarming,
cannot shake the fixed judgment of my understanding. Character, as you
justly observe, cannot utterly change in a few months. Your husband is
deceived, he is now as one in the delirium of a fever: he will recover
his senses, and see Lady Olivia and you such as you are.

You do not explain, and I take it for granted you have good reasons for
not explaining to me more fully, the immediate cause of your letter to
Lady Olivia. I am sorry that any cause should have thrown her upon
the protection of Mr. L----; for a man of honour and generosity feels
himself bound to treat with tenderness a woman who appears to sacrifice
every thing for his sake. Consider this in another point of view, and it
will afford you subject of consolation; for it is always a consolation
to good minds, to think those whom they love less to blame than they
appear to be. You will be more calm and patient when you reflect that
your husband's absence may be prolonged by a mistaken sense of honour.
From the nature of his connexion with Lady Olivia it cannot last long.
Had she saved appearances, and engaged him in a sentimental affair, it
might have been far more dangerous to your happiness.

I entirely approve of your conduct with respect to the prince: it is
worthy of my child, and just what I should have expected from her. The
artifices of coquettes, and all the _art_ of love is beneath her; she
has far other powers and resources, and need not strive to maintain her
dignity by vengeance. I admire your magnanimity, and I still more admire
your good sense; for high spirit is more common in our sex than
good sense. Few know how, and when, they should sacrifice small
considerations to great ones. You say that you will not receive the
prince in your husband's absence, though this may be attributed to
prudery or vanity, &c. &c. You are quite right. How many silly women
sacrifice the happiness of their lives to the idea of what women or men,
as silly as themselves, will say or think of their motives. How many
absurd heroines of romance, and of those who imitate them in real life,
do we see, who can never act with common sense or presence of mind: if
a man's carriage breaks down, or his horse is tired at the end of their
avenues, or for some such ridiculous reason, they must do the very
reverse of all they know to be prudent. Perpetually exposed, by a fatal
concurrence of circumstances, to excite the jealousy of their lovers
and husbands, they create the necessity to which they fall a victim. I
rejoice that I cannot feel any apprehension of my daughter's conducting
herself like one of these novel-bred ladies.

I am sorry, my dear, that Lady M---- and your friends have left you: yet
even in this there may be good. Your affairs will be made less public,
and you will be less the subject of impertinent curiosity. I advise you,
however, to mix as much as usual with your neighbours in the country:
your presence, and the dignity of your manners, will impose silence upon
idle tongues. No wife of real spirit solicits the world for compassion:
she who does not court popularity ensures respect.

Adieu, my dearest child: the time will come when your husband will feel
the full merit of your fortitude; when he will know how to distinguish
between true and false sensibility; between the love of an Olivia and of
a Leonora. ----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LIV.

MRS. C---- TO MISS B----.


Jan. 26.

My Dear Margaret,

I shall never forgive myself. I fear I have done Leonora irreparable
injury; and, dear magnanimous sufferer, she has never reproached me! In
a fit of indignation and imprudent zeal I made a discovery, which
has produced a total breach between Leonora and Lady Olivia, and in
consequence of this Mr. L---- has gone off with her ladyship

       *       *       *       *       *

We have heard nothing from Mr. L---- since his departure, and Leonora is
more unhappy than ever, and my imprudence is the cause of this. Yet
she continues to love me. She is an angel! I have promised her not to
mention her affairs in future even in any of my letters to you, dear
Margaret. Pray quiet any reports you may hear, and stop idle tongues.

Yours affectionately,

Helen C----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LV.

MR. L---- TO GENERAL B----.


Richmond.

My Dear Friend,

I do not think I could have borne with temper, from any other man
breathing, the last letter which I received from you. I am sensible that
it was written with the best intentions for my happiness; but I must now
inform you, that the lady in question has accepted of my protection, and
consequently no man who esteems me can treat her with disrespect.

It is no longer a question, what she will sacrifice for me; she has
shown the greatest generosity and tenderness of soul; and I should
despise myself, if I did not exert every power to make her happy.--We
are at Richmond; but if you write, direct to me at my house in town.

Yours sincerely,

F. L----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LVI.

GENERAL B---- TO MR. L----.


Dream your dream out, my dear L----. Since you are angry with me, as
Solander was with Sir Joseph Banks for awakening him, I shall not take
the liberty of shaking you any more. I believe I shook you rather too
roughly: but I assure you it was for your good, as people always tell
their friends when they do the most disagreeable things imaginable.
Forgive me, and I will let you dream in peace. You will, however, allow
me to watch by you, whilst you sleep; and, my dear somnambulist, I may
just take care that you do not knock your head against a post, or fall
into a well.

I hope you will not have any objection to my paying my respects to Lady
Olivia when I come to town, which, I flatter myself, I shall be able to
do shortly. The fortifications here are almost completed.

Yours truly,

J. B.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LVII.

OLIVIA TO MADAME DE P----.


Richmond, ----.

Happy!--No, my dear Gabrielle, nor shall I ever be happy, whilst I
have not exclusive possession of the heart of the man I love. I have
sacrificed every thing to him; I have a right to expect that he should
sacrifice at least a wife for me--a wife whom he only esteems. But L----
has not sufficient strength of mind to liberate himself from the cobwebs
which restrain those who talk of conscience, and who, in fact, are only
superstitious. I see with indignation, that his soul is continually
struggling between passion for me and a something, I know not what to
call it, that he feels for this wife. His thoughts are turning towards
home. I believe that to an Englishman's ears, there is some magic in
the words _home_ and _wife_. I used to think foreigners ridiculous for
associating the ideas of Milord Anglois with roast beef and pudding; but
I begin to see that they are quite right, and that an Englishman has a
certain set of inveterate _homely_ prejudices, which are necessary to
his well-being, and almost to his existence. You may entice him into the
land of sentiment, and for a time keep him there; but refine and polish
and enlighten him, as you will, he recurs to his own plain sense, as
he terms it, on the first convenient opportunity. In short, it is lost
labour to civilize him, for sooner or later he will _hottentot_ again.
Pray introduce that term, Gabrielle--_you_ can translate it. For
my part, I can introduce nothing here; my manière d'être is really
insupportable; my talents are lost; I, who am accustomed to shine in
society, see nobody; I might, as Josephine every day observes, as well
be buried alive. Retirement and love are charming; but then it must be
perfect love--not the equivocating sort that L---- feels for me,
which keeps the word of promise only to the ear. I bear every sort of
désagrément for him; I make myself a figure for the finger of scorn to
point at, and he insults me with esteem for a wife. Can you conceive
this, my amiable Gabrielle?--No, there are ridiculous points in the
characters of my countrymen which you will never be able to comprehend.
And what is still more incomprehensible, it is my fate to love this man;
yes, passionately to love him!--But he must give me proof of reciprocal
passion. I have too much spirit to sacrifice every thing for him, who
will sacrifice nothing for me. Besides, I have another motive. To you,
my faithful Gabrielle, I open my whole heart.--Pride inspires me as well
as love. I am resolved that Leonora, the haughty Leonora, shall live
to repent of having insulted and exasperated Olivia. In some situations
contempt can be answered only by vengeance; and when the malice of a
contracted and illiberal mind provokes it, revenge is virtue. Leonora
has called me her enemy, and consequently has made me such. 'Tis she has
declared the war! 'tis for me to decide the victory!

L----, I know, has the offer of an embassy to Petersburg.--He shall
accept it.--I will accompany him thither. Lady Leonora may, in his
absence, console herself with her august counsellor and mother:--that
proudest of earthly paragons is yet to be taught the extent of Olivia's
power. Adieu, my charming Gabrielle! I will carry your tenderest
remembrances to our brilliant Russian princess. She has often invited
me, you know, to pay her a visit, and this will be the ostensible object
of my journey. A horrible journey, to be sure!!!--But what will not
love undertake and accomplish, especially when goaded by pride, and
inspirited by great revenge?

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LVIII.

OLIVIA TO MR. L----.


Victim to the delusions of passion, too well I know my danger, and now,
even now, foresee my miserable fate. Too well I know, that the delicious
poison which spreads through my frame exalts, entrances, but to destroy.
Too well I know that the meteor fire, which shines so bright on my path,
entices me forward but to plunge me in the depths of infamy. The
long warnings of recorded time teach me, that perjured man triumphs,
disdains, and abandons. Too well, alas! I know these fatal truths; too
well I feel my approaching doom. Yet, infatuated as I am, prescience
avails not; the voice of prudence warns, the hand of Heaven beckons me
in vain.

My friend! my more than friend, my lover! beloved beyond expression! you
to whom I immolate myself, you for whom I sacrifice more than life. Oh,
whisper words of peace! for you, and you alone, can tranquillize this
agitated bosom. Assure me, L----, if with truth you can assure me, that
I have no rival in your affections. Oh, tell me that the name of wife
does not invalidate the claims of love! Repeat for me, a thousand times
repeat, that I am sole possessor of your heart!

The moment you quit me I am overpowered with melancholy forebodings.
Scarcely are you out of my sight, before I dread, that I shall never
see you more, or that some fatality should deprive me of your love.
When shall the sails of love waft us from this dangerous shore? Oh!
when shall I dare to call you mine? Heavens! how many things may
intervene...! Let nothing detain you from Richmond this evening; but
come not at all--come no more, unless to reassure my trembling heart,
and to convince me that love and Olivia have banished every other image.

Olivia.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LIX.

MR. L---- TO GENERAL B----.


My Dear General,

I am come to a resolution to accept of that embassy to Russia which I
lately refused. My mind has been in such constant anxiety for some
time past, that my health has suffered, and change of air and place are
necessary to me. You will say, that the climate of Russia is a strange
choice for an invalid: I could indeed have wished for a milder; but in
this world we must be content with the least of two evils. I wish to
have some ostensible reason for going abroad, and this embassy is the
only one that presents itself in an unquestionable shape. Any thing
is better than staying where I am, and as I am. My motives are not so
entirely personal and selfish as I have stated them. A man who has a
grain of feeling cannot endure to see the woman whom he loves, whose
only failing is her love, living in a state of dereliction, exposed to
the silent scorn of her equals and inferiors, if not to open insult. All
her fine talents, every advantage of nature and education sacrificed,
and her sensibility to shame a perpetual source of misery. A man must
be a brute if he do not feel for a woman, whose affection for him has
reduced her to this situation. My delicacy as to female manners, and the
high value I set upon public opinion in all that concerns the sex, make
me peculiarly susceptible and wretched in my present circumstances. To
raise the drooping spirits, and support the self-approbation of a woman,
who is conscious that she has forfeited her claim to respect--to make
love supply the place of all she has sacrificed to love, is a difficult
and exquisitely painful task. My feelings render hers more acute, and
the very precautions which I take, however delicate, alarm and wound her
pride, by reminding her of all she wishes to forget. In this country, no
woman, who is not lost to shame, can bear to live without reputation.--I
pass over a great many intermediate ideas, my dear general; your sense
and feeling will supply them. You see the expediency, the necessity of
my accepting this embassy. Olivia urges, how can I refuse it? She wishes
to accompany me. She made this offer with such decision of spirit, with
such passionate tenderness, as touched me to the very soul. A woman
who really loves, absolutely devotes herself, and becomes insensible to
every difficulty and danger; to her all parts of the world are alike;
all she fears is to be separated from the object of her affections.

But the very excess of certain passions proves them to be genuine. Even
whilst we blame the rashness of those who act from the enthusiasm of
their natures, whilst we foresee all the perils to which they seem
blind, we tremble at their danger, we grow more and more interested for
them every moment, we admire their courage, we long to snatch them
from their fate, we are irresistibly hurried along with them down the
precipice.

But why do I say all this to you, my dear general? To no man upon earth
could it be more ineffectually addressed. Let me see you, however,
before we leave England. It would be painful to me to quit this country
without taking leave of you, notwithstanding all that you have lately
done to thwart my inclinations, and notwithstanding all I may expect you
to say when we meet. Probably I shall be detained here some weeks, as
I must wait for instructions from our court. I write this day to Lady
Leonora, to inform her that I am appointed ambassador to Russia. She
shall have all the honours of war; she shall be treated with all the
respect to which she is so well entitled. I suppose she will wish to
reside with her mother during my absence. She cannot do better: she will
then be in the most eligible situation, and I shall be relieved from all
anxiety upon her account. She will be perfectly happy with her mother. I
have often thought that she was much happier before she married me, than
she has been since our union.

I have some curiosity to know whether she will see the Prince when I am
gone. Do not mistake me; I am not jealous: I have too little love, and
too much esteem for Leonora, to feel the slightest jealousy. I have no
doubt, that if I were to stay in Russia for ten years, and if all the
princes and potentates in Europe were to be at her feet, my wife would
conduct herself with the most edifying propriety: but I am a little
curious to know how far vanity or pride can console a virtuous woman for
the absence of love.

Yours truly,

F. L.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LX.

MADAME DE P---- TO OLIVIA.


Paris.

You are really decided then to go to Russia, my amiable friend, and
you will absolutely undertake this horrible voyage! And you are not
intimidated by the idea of the immense distance between Petersburg and
Paris! Alas! I had hoped soon to see you again. The journey from
my convent to Paris was the longest and most formidable that I ever
undertook, and at this moment it appears to me terrible; you may
conceive therefore my admiration of your courage and strength of mind,
my dear Olivia, who are going to brave the ocean, turning your back on
Paris, and every moment receding from our polished centre of attraction,
to perish perhaps among mountains of ice. Mon Dieu! it makes me shudder
to think of it. But if it please Heaven that you should once arrive at
Petersburg, you will crown your tresses with diamonds, you will envelope
yourself with those superb furs of the north, and smiling at all the
dangers you have passed, you will be yourself a thousand times more
dangerous than they. You, who have lived so long at Paris, who speak our
language in all its shades of elegance; you, who have divined all our
secrets of pleasing, who have caught our very air,

  "Et la grace, encore plus belle que la beauté;"

you, who are absolutely a French woman, and a Parisian, what a sensation
you will produce at Petersburg!--Quels succès vous attendent!--Quels
hommages!

You will have the goodness to offer my tenderest sentiments, and the
assurances of my perfect respect, to our dear Princess; you will also
find the proper moment to remind her of the promise she made, to send me
specimens of the fine ermines and sables of her country. For my part, I
used to be, I confess, in a great error with respect to furs: I always
acknowledged them to be rich, but avoided them as heavy; I considered
them as fitter for the stiff magnificence of an Empress of all the
Russias than for the light elegance of a Parisian beauty; but our
charming Princess convinced me that this is a heresy in taste. When I
beheld the grace with which she wore her ermine, and the art with which
she knew how to vary its serpent folds as she moved, or as she spoke,
the variety it gave to her costume and attitudes; the development
it afforded to a fine hand and arm, the resource in the pauses of
conversation, and that soft and attractive air which it seemed to impart
even to the play of her wit, I could no longer refuse my homage to
ermine. Such is the despotism of beauty over all the objects of
taste and fashion; and so it is, that a woman of sense, address, and
sentiment, let her be born or thrown by fate where she may, will always
know how to avail herself of every possible advantage of nature and art.
Nothing will be too trifling or too vast for her genius.

I must make you understand me, my dear Olivia; your Gabrielle is not so
frivolous as simpletons imagine. Frivolity is an excellent, because
an unsuspected mask, under which serious and important designs may be
safely concealed. I would explain myself further, but must now go to
the opera to see the new ballet. Let me know, my interesting, my sublime
Olivia, when you are positively determined on your voyage to Petersburg;
and then you shall become acquainted with your friend as a politician.
Her friendship for you will not be confined to a mere intercourse of
sentiment, but will, if you have courage to second her views, give you
a secret yet decisive weight and consequence, of which you have hitherto
never dreamed.--Adieu.--These gentlemen are so impatient, I must go.
Burn the last page of this letter, and the whole of my next as soon as
you have read it, I conjure you, my dear.

GABRIELLE DE P----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXI.

GENERAL B---- TO MR. L----.


DEAR L----,

I have time but to write one line to satisfy that philosophical
curiosity, which, according to your injunctions, I will not denominate
jealousy--except when I talk to myself.

You have a philosophical curiosity to know whether your wife will
see the Prince in your absence. I saw his favourite yesterday,
who complained to me that his highness had been absolutely refused
admittance at your castle, notwithstanding he had made many ingenious,
and some bold attempts, to see Lady Leonora L---- in the absence of her
faithless husband.

As to your scheme of going to Russia, you will be obliged, luckily, to
wait for some time for instructions, and in the interval, it is to be
hoped you will recover your senses. I shall see you as soon as possible.

Yours truly,

J. B.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXII.

MADAME DE P---- TO LADY OLIVIA.


Paris.

As our vanity always endeavours to establish a balance between our own
perfections and those of our friends, I must flatter myself, my dear
Olivia, that in compensation for that courage and ardent imagination in
which you are so much my superior, I possess some little advantages over
you in my scientific, hereditary knowledge of court intrigue, and of
the arts of representation; all which will be necessary to you in your
character of ambassadress: you will in fact deserve this title, for of
course you will govern the English ambassador, whom you honour with
your love. And of course you will appear with splendour, and you will
be particularly careful to have your _traineau_ well appointed. Pray
remember that one of your horses must gallop, whilst the other trots, or
you are nobody. It will also be absolutely necessary to have a
numerous retinue of servants, because this suits the Russian idea of
magnificence. You must have, as the Russian nobles always had in Paris,
four servants constantly to attend your equipage; one to carry the
flambeau, another to open the door, and a couple to carry you into and
out of your carriage. I beseech you to bear in mind perpetually, that
you are to be as helpless as possible. A Frenchman of my acquaintance,
who spent nine years in Russia, told me, that in his first setting out
at Petersburg, he was put on his guard in this particular by a speech of
his Russian valet-de-chambre:--"Sir, the Englishman you visited to-day
cannot be worthy of your acquaintance; he cannot be a gentleman. Son
valet me dit qu'il se déshabille seul!!!"

I suppose you take Josephine with you; she will be an inestimable
treasure; and I shall make it my business to send you the first advices
of Paris fashions, which her talents will not fail to comprehend
and execute. My charming Olivia! you will be the model of taste and
elegance! Do not suspect that dress is carrying me away from politics.
I assure you I know what I am about, and am going straight to my object.
The art of attending to trifles is the art of governing the world, as
all historians know, who have gone to the bottom of affairs. Was not the
face of Europe changed by a cup of tea thrown on Mrs. Masham's gown,
as Voltaire, with penetrating genius, remarks? Women, without a
doubt, understand the importance of trifles better than men do, and
consequently always move in secret the slight springs of that vast
machine, the civilized world. Is not your ambition roused, my Olivia?
You must, however, lay aside a little of your romance, and not approach
the political machine whilst you are intoxicated with love, else you
will blunder infallibly, and do infinite and irreparable mischief to
yourself and your friends.

Permit me to tell you, that you have been a little spoiled by
sentimental novels, which are good only to talk of when one must show
sensibility, but destructive as rules of action. By the false lights
which these writers, who know nothing of the world, have thrown upon
objects, you have been deluded; you have been led to mistake the means
for the end. Love has been with you the sole end of love; whereas it
ought to be the beginning of power. No matter for the past: the future
is yours: at our age this future must be dexterously managed. A woman of
spirit, and, what is better, of sense, must always take care that in her
heart, the age of love is not prolonged beyond the age of being beloved.
In these times a woman has no choice at a certain period but politics,
or bel esprit; for devotion, which used to be a resource, is no longer
in fashion. We must all take a part, my dear; I assure you I have taken
mine decidedly, and I predict that you will take yours with brilliant
success. How often must one cry in the ears of lovers--Love must die!
must die! must die! But you, my dear Olivia, will not be deaf to
the warning voice of common sense. Your own experience has on former
occasions convinced you, that passion cannot be eternal; and at present,
if I mistake not, there is in your love a certain mixture of other
feelings, a certain alloy, which will make it happily ductile and
manageable. When your triumph over the wife is complete, passion for
the husband will insensibly decay; and this will be fortunate for you,
because assuredly your ambassador would not choose to remain all the
rest of his days in love and in exile at Petersburg. All these English
are afflicted with the maladie du pays; and, as you observe so well, the
words home and wife have ridiculous but unconquerable power over their
minds. What will become of you, my friend, when this Mr. L---- chooses
to return to England to his castle, &c.? You could not accompany him.
You must provide in time against this catastrophe, or you will be a
deserted, disgraced, undone woman, my dear friend.

No one should begin to act a romance who has not well considered the
dénouement. It is a charming thing to mount with a friend in a balloon,
amid crowds of spectators, who admire the fine spectacle, and applaud
the courage of the aërostats: the losing sight of this earth, and the
being in or above the clouds, must also be delightful: but the moment
will come when the travellers descend, and then begins the danger; then
they differ about throwing out the ballast, the balloon is rent in the
quarrel, it sinks with frightful rapidity, and they run the hazard,
like the poor Marquis D'Arlande, of being spitted upon the spire of
the Invalides, or of being entangled among woods and briers--at last,
alighting upon the earth, our adventurers, fatigued and bruised and
disappointed, come out of their shattered triumphal car, exposed to the
derision of the changeable multitude.

Every thing in this world is judged of by success. Your voyage to
Petersburg, my dear Olivia, must not be a mere adventure of romance; as
a party of pleasure it would be ridiculous; we must make something more
of it. Enclosed is a letter to a Russian nobleman, an old lover of mine,
who, I understand, is in favour. He will certainly be at your command.
He is a man possessed by the desire of having reputation among
foreigners, vain of the preference of our sex, generous even to
prodigality. By his means you will be immediately placed on an easy
footing with all the leading persons of the Russian court. You will go
on from one step to another, till you are at the height which I have
in view. Now for my grand object.--No, not now--for I have forty little
notes about nothings to write this morning. Great things hang upon these
nothings, so they should not be neglected. I must leave you, my amiable
Olivia, and defer my grand object till to-morrow.

GABRIELLE DE P----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXIII

LEONORA TO THE DUCHESS OF ----.


DEAR MOTHER,

This moment I have received a letter from Mr. L----. He has accepted
of an embassy to Petersburg. I cannot guess by the few lines he has
written, whether or not he wishes that I should accompany him. Most
ardently I wish it; but if my offer should be refused, or if it should
be accepted only because it could not be well refused; if I should be a
burthen, a restraint upon him, I should wish myself dead.

Perhaps he accepts of this embassy on purpose that he may leave me and
take another person with him: or perhaps, dearest mother (I hardly dare
to hope it)--perhaps he wishes to break off that connexion, and goes
to Russia to leave temptation behind him. I know that this embassy was
offered to him some weeks ago, and he had then no thoughts of accepting
it.--Oh that I could see into his heart--that heart which used to be
always open to me! If I could discover what his wishes are, I should
know what mine ought to be. I have thoughts of going to town immediately
to see him; at least I may take leave of him. Do you approve of it?
Write the moment you receive this; but I need not say that, for I am
sure you will do so. Dearest mother, you have prophesied that his heart
will return to me, and on this hope I live.

Your ever affectionate daughter,

LEONORA L----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXIV.

THE DUCHESS OF ---- TO LEONORA.


Yes, my dear, I advise you by all means to go to town, and to see your
husband. Your desire to accompany him to Russia he will know before you
see him, for I have just written and despatched an express to him with
your last letter, and with all those which I have received from you
within these last six months. Leave Mr. L---- time to read them before
he sees you; and do not hurry or fatigue yourself unnecessarily. You
know that an embassy cannot be arranged in two days; therefore travel by
easy journeys: you cannot do otherwise without hazard. Your courage in
offering to undertake this long voyage with your husband is worthy
of you, my beloved daughter. God bless and preserve you! If you go to
Petersburg, let me know in time, that I may see you before you leave
England. I will be at any moment at any place you appoint.

Your affectionate mother, ----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXV.

THE DUCHESS OF ---- TO MR. L----.


Perhaps this letter may find you at the feet of your mistress. Spare
me, sir, a few moments from your pleasures. You may perhaps expect
reproaches from the mother of your wife; but let me assure you, that
you have none to apprehend. For my daughter's sake, if not for yours,
I would forbear. Never was departing love recalled by the voice of
reproach; you shall not hear it from me, you have not heard it from
Leonora. But mistake not the cause of her forbearance; let it not be
attributed to pusillanimity of temper, or insensibility of heart.

Enclosed I send you all the letters which my daughter has written to me
from the first day of her acquaintance with Lady Olivia to this hour.
From these you will be enabled to judge of what she has felt for some
months past, and of the actual state of her heart; you will see all the
tenderness and all the strength of her soul.

It has ever been my fixed opinion, that a wife who loves her husband,
and who has possessed his affections, may reclaim them from the lure of
the most artful of her sex, by persevering kindness, temper, and good
sense, unless indeed her husband be a fool or a libertine. I have
prophesied that my daughter will regain your heart; and upon this
prophecy, to use her own expression, she lives. And even now, when its
accomplishment is far removed, I am so steady in my opinion of her and
of you; so convinced of the uniform result of certain conduct upon the
human mind, that undismayed I repeat my prophecy.

Were you to remain in this kingdom, I should leave things to their
natural course; I should not interfere so far even as to send you
Leonora's letters: but as you may be separated for years, I think it
necessary now to put into your hands incontrovertible proofs of what she
is, and what she has been. Do not imagine that I am so weak as to expect
that the perusal of these letters will work a sudden change: but it is
fit that, before you leave England, you should know that Leonora is not
a cold, sullen, or offended wife; but one who loves you most tenderly,
most generously; who, concealing the agony of her heart, waits with
resignation for the time when she will be your refuge, and the permanent
blessing of your life. ----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXVI.

MADAME DE P---- TO OLIVIA.


Paris.

And now, my charming Olivia, raise your fine eyes as high as ambition
can look, and you will perhaps discover my grand object. You do not see
it yet. Look again.--Do you not see the Emperor of Russia? What would
you think of him for a lover? If it were only for novelty's sake, it
would really be pleasant to have a Czar at one's feet. Reign in his
heart, and you in fact seat yourself invisibly on the throne of all the
Russias: thence what a commanding prospect you have of the affairs of
Europe! and how we should govern the world at our ease! The project is
bold, but not impracticable. The ancients represent Cupid riding the
Numidian lion; and why should he not tame the Russian bear? It would
make a pretty design for a vignette. I can engrave as well as La
Pompadour could at least, and anticipating your victory, my charming
Olivia, I will engrave Cupid leading the bear in a chain of flowers.
This shall be my seal. Mon cachet de faveur.

Courage, my fair politician! You have a difficult task; but the glory
is in proportion to the labour; and those who value power properly, are
paid by its acquisition, for all possible fatigue and hardships. With
your knowledge of our modes, you will be at Petersburg the arbitress
of delights. You have a charming taste and invention for fêtes and
spectacles. Teach these people to vary their pleasures. Their monarch
must adore you, if you banish from his presence that most dreadful enemy
of kings, and most obstinate resident of courts, _ennui_. Trust, my
Olivia, neither to your wit, nor your beauty, nor your accomplishments,
but employ your "various arts of trifling prettily," and, take my word
for it, you will succeed.

As I may not have an opportunity of sending you another private letter,
and as lemon-juice, goulard, and all those sympathetic inks, are subject
to unlucky accidents, I must send you all my secret instructions by the
present safe conveyance.

You must absolutely sacrifice, my dear child, all your romantic notions,
and all your taste for love, to the grand object. The Czar must not have
the slightest cause for jealousy. These Czars make nothing, you know, of
cutting off their mistresses' pretty heads upon the bare suspicion of
an intrigue. But you must do what is still more difficult than to be
constant, you must yield your will, and, what is more, you must never
let this Czar guess that his will is not always your pleasure. Your
humour, your tastes, your wishes, must be incessantly and with alacrity
sacrificed to his. You must submit to the constraint of eternal court
ceremony, and court dissimulation. You must bear to be surrounded
with masks, instead of the human face divine; and instead of
fellow-creatures, you must content yourself with puppets. You will have
the amusement of pulling the wires: but remember that you must wear
a mask perpetually as well as others, and never attempt to speak, and
never expect to hear the language of truth or of the heart. You must
not be the dupe of attachment in those who call themselves friends,
or zealous and affectionate servants, &c. &c. You must have sufficient
strength of character to bear continually in mind that all these
professions are mere words, that all these people are alike false,
and actuated but by one motive, self-interest. To secure yourself from
secret and open enemies, you must farther have sufficient courage to
live without a friend or a confidante, for such persons at court are
only spies, traitors in the worst forms. All this is melancholy and
provoking, to be sure; but all this you must see without feeling, or
at least without showing a spark of indignation. A sentimental
misanthropist, male or female, is quite out of place at court. You must
see all that is odious and despicable in human nature in a comic point
of view; and you must consider your fellow-creatures as objects to
be laughed at, not to be hated. Laughter, besides being good for the
health, and consequently for the complexion, always implies superiority.
Without this gratification to our vanity, there would be no possibility
of enduring that eternal penance of hypocrisy, and that solitary state
of suspicion, to which the ambitious condemn themselves. I fear, my
romantic Olivia, that you, who are a person used to yield to first
impressions, and not quite accustomed to subdue your passions to your
interest, will think that politics require too much from you, almost as
much as constancy or religion. But consider the difference! for Heaven's
sake, my dear, consider the greatness of our object! Would to God that
I had the eloquence of Bossuet! and I would make you a convert from
love and a proselyte to glory. Dare, my Olivia, to be a martyr to
ambition!--See! already high in air she holds a crown over your head--it
is almost within your grasp--stretch out your white arm and seize
it--fear not the thorns!--every crown has thorns--but who upon that
account ever yet refused one? My dear empress, I have the honour to kiss
your powerful hands.

GABRIELLE DE P----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXVII.

MR. L---- TO GENERAL B----.


MY DEAR FRIEND,

You need not hurry yourself to come to town on my account, for by this
change of ministry my embassy will be delayed some weeks.

A few days ago this delay would have been a terrible disappointment to
me; yet now I feel it a respite. A respite! you will exclaim. Yes, my
dear friend--so it is. Such is the heart of man!--so changeable, so
contradictory, so much at variance with itself from day to day, from
hour to hour. I believe, from what I now feel, that every man under
the dominion of passion is reduced to a most absurd and miserable
condition.--I have just been reading some letters from Leonora, which
have wrung my heart; letters addressed to her mother, laying open every
feeling of her mind for some months. My dear friend, what injustice have
I done to this admirable woman! With what tenderness, with what delicacy
has she loved me! while I, mistaking modesty for coldness, fortitude
for indifference, have neglected, injured, and abandoned her! With what
sweetness of temper, with what persevering goodness has she borne with
me, while, intoxicated with passion, I saw every thing in a false point
of view! How often have I satisfied myself with the persuasion, that
she scarcely observed my attachment to Olivia, or beheld it unconcerned,
secure by the absence of love from the pangs of jealousy! How often have
I accused her of insensibility, whilst her heart was in tortures! Olivia
was deceived also, and confirmed me in this cruel error. And all that
time Leonora was defending her rival, and pleading her cause! With what
generosity, with what magnanimity she speaks of Olivia in those letters!
Her confidence was unbounded, her soul above suspicion; to the very last
she doubted and blamed herself--dear, amiable woman! blamed herself for
our faults, for feeling that jealousy, which no wife who loved as she
did could possibly subdue. She never betrayed it by a single word or
look of reproach. Even though she fainted at that cursed fête champêtre,
yet the moment she came to her senses, she managed so, that none of
the spectators could suspect she thought Olivia was her rival. My dear
general, you will forgive me--as long as I praise Leonora you will
understand me. At last you will acknowledge that I do justice to the
merits of my wife. Justice! no--I am unworthy of her. I have no heart
like hers to offer in return for such love. She wishes to go with me to
Petersburg; she has forborne to make this offer directly to me; but I
know it from her last letter to her mother, which now lies before me.
How can I refuse?--and how can I accept? My soul is torn with violence
different ways. How can I leave Leonora! and how can I tear myself from
Olivia!--even if her charms had no power over my heart, how could I with
honour desert the woman who has sacrificed every thing for me! I will
not shield myself from you, my friend, behind the word honour. See me
as you have always seen me, without disguise, and now without defence. I
respect, I love Leonora--but, alas! I am in love with Olivia!

Yours ever,

F. L----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXVIII.

MR. L---- TO OLIVIA.


Triumphant as you are over my heart, dear enchanting Olivia! you cannot
make me false. I cannot, even to appease your anger, deny this morning
what I said last night. It is inconsistent with all your professions,
with your character, with your generous disposition, to desire me to
"_abjure Leonora for ever!_" it would be to render myself for ever
unworthy of Olivia. I am convinced that had you read the letters of
which I spoke, you would have been touched, you would have been struck
by them as I was: instead of being hurt and displeased by the impression
that they made upon me, you would have sympathized in my feelings, you
would have been indignant if I had not admired, you would have detested
and despised me if I could have been insensible to "_so much goodness
and generosity_." I repeat my words: I will not "_retract_," I cannot
"_repent of them_." My dear Olivia! when you reflect upon what is past,
I am persuaded you will acknowledge that your sensibility made you
unjust. Indeed, my love, you did not show your usual candour; I had just
read all that Leonora had written of you, all that she had urged against
her mother in your defence; even when she had most cause to be irritated
against us, I could not avoid being shocked by the different manner in
which you spoke of her. Perhaps I told you so too abruptly: if I had
loved you less, I should have been more cautious and more calm--if I had
esteemed you less, calmer still. I could then, possibly, have borne to
hear you speak in a manner unbecoming yourself. Forgive me the pain I
gave you--the pain I now give you, my dearest Olivia! My sincerity is
the best security you can have for my future love. Banish therefore this
unjust, this causeless jealousy: moderate this excessive sensibility for
both our sakes, and depend upon the power you have over my heart. You
cannot conceive how much I have felt from this misunderstanding--the
first we have ever had. Let it be the last. I have spent a sleepless
night. I am detained in town by provoking, tiresome, but necessary
business. Meet me in the evening with smiles, my Olivia: let me behold
in those fascinating eyes their wonted expression, and hear from your
voice its usual, its natural tone of tenderness and love.

Ever devotedly yours,

F. L----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXIX.

OLIVIA TO MR. L----.


You have spoken daggers to me! Come not to Richmond this evening! I
cannot--will not see you! Not for the universe would I see you with my
present feelings!

Write to me more letters like that which I have just received. Dip your
pen in gall; find words more bitter than those which you have already
used. Accuse me of want of candour, want of generosity, want of every
amiable, every estimable quality. Upbraid me with the loss of all of
which you have bereft me. Recollect every sacrifice that I have made,
and, if you can, imagine every sacrifice that I would still make for
you--peace of mind, friends, country, fortune, fame, virtue; name them
all, and triumph--and disdain your triumph! Remind me how low I am
fallen--sink me lower still--insult, debase, humble me to the dust.
Exalt my rival, unroll to my aching eyes the emblazoned catalogue of
her merits, her claims to your esteem, your affection; number them
over, dwell upon those that I have forfeited, those which can never be
regained; tell me that such merits are above all price; assure me that
beyond all her sex you respect, you admire, you love your wife; say it
with enthusiasm, with fire in your eyes, with all the energy of passion
in your voice; then bid me sympathize in your feelings--bid me banish
jealousy--wonder at my alarm--call my sorrow anger--conjure me to
restrain my sensibility! Restrain my sensibility! Unhappy Olivia! he is
tired of your love. Let him then at once tell me the dreadful truth,
and I will bear it. Any evil is better than uncertainty, than lingering
hope. Drive all hope from my mind. Bid me despair and die--but do not
stretch me on the rack of jealousy!--Yet if such be your cruel pleasure,
enjoy it.--Determine how much I can endure and live. Stop just at the
point where human nature sinks, that you may not lose your victim, that
she may linger on from day to day, your sport and your derision.

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXX.

MR. L---- TO GENERAL B----.


My Dear General,

You will rejoice to hear that Olivia and I have been in a state of
warfare for some days past, and you will be still more pleased when
you learn the cause of our quarrel. On the day that I had been reading
Leonora's letters I was rather later at Richmond than usual. Olivia,
offended, insisted upon knowing by what I could possibly have been
detained. Her anger knew no bounds when she heard the truth. She made
use of some expressions, in speaking of my wife, which I could not, I
hope, have borne at any time, but which shocked me beyond measure at
that moment. I defended Leonora with warmth. Olivia, in a scornful tone,
talked of my wife's coldness of disposition, and bid me compare Lady
Leonora's love with hers. It was a comparison I had it more in my power
to make than Olivia was aware of; it was the most disadvantageous moment
for her in which that comparison could be made. She saw or suspected
my feelings, and perceived that all she had said of my Leonora's
_incapability of loving_ produced an effect directly contrary to
her expectations. Transported by jealousy, she then threw out hints
respecting the Prince. I spoke as I felt, indignantly. I know not
precisely what I said, but Olivia and I parted in anger. I have since
received a passionately fond note from her. But I feel unhappy. Dear
general, when will you come to town?

Yours truly,

F. L----

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXXI.

MRS. C---- TO THE DUCHESS OF ----.


MY DEAR MADAM,

Your grace's cautions and entreaties to Lady Leonora not to over-exert
and fatigue herself were, alas! as ineffectual as mine. From the time
she heard that Mr. L---- had accepted this embassy to Petersburg, she
was so eager to set out on her journey to town, and so impatient to see
him, that neither her mind nor her body had one moment's tranquillity.
She waited with indescribable anxiety for your grace's answer to her
letter; and the instant she was secure of your approbation, her carriage
was ordered to the door. I saw that she was ill; but she would not
listen to my fears; she repeated with triumph, that her mother made no
objection to her journey, and that she had no apprehensions for herself.
However, she was obliged at last to yield. The carriage was actually at
the door, when she was forced to submit to be carried to her bed. For
several hours she was in such danger, that I never expected she could
live till this day. Thank God! she is now safe. Her infant, to her great
delight, is a boy: she was extremely anxious to have a son, because Mr.
L---- formerly wished for one so much. She forbids me to write to Mr.
L----, lest I should communicate the account of her _sudden illness_ too
abruptly.

She particularly requests that your grace will mention to him this
_accident_ in the least alarming manner possible. I shall write again
next post. Lady Leonora has now fallen asleep, and seems to sleep
quietly. Who should sleep in peace if she cannot? I never saw her equal,

My dear madam,

I am,

With respect and attachment,

Your grace's

Sincerely affectionate,

HELEN C----.

It is with extreme concern I am forced to add, that since I wrote this
letter the child has been so ill that I have fears for his life.--His
poor mother!

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXXII.

MR. L---- TO GENERAL B----.


MY DEAR GENERAL,

All is upon velvet again. Poor Olivia was excessively hurt by my letter:
she was ill for two days--seriously ill. Yesterday I at length obtained
admittance. Olivia was all softness, all candour: she acknowledged that
she had been wrong, and in so sweet a voice! She blamed herself till
I could no longer think her blamable. She seemed so much humbled and
depressed, such a tender melancholy appeared in her bewitching eyes,
that I could not resist the fascination. I certainly gave her some
cause for displeasure that unfortunate evening; for as Olivia has strong
passions and exquisite sensibility, I should not have been so abrupt.
A fit of jealousy may seize the best and most generous mind, and
may prompt to what it would be incapable of saying or thinking in
dispassionate moments. I am sure that Olivia has, upon reflection, felt
more pain from this affair than I have. My Russian embassy is still in
_abeyance_. Ministers seem to know their own minds as little as I know
mine. Ambition has its quarrels and follies as well as love. At all
events, I shall not leave England till next month; and I shall not go
down to L---- Castle till I have received my last instructions from
our court, and till the day for my sailing is fixed. The parting with
Leonora will be a dreadful difficulty. I cannot think of it steadily.
But as she herself says, "is it not better that she should lose a year
of my affections than a life?" The Duchess is mistaken in imagining
it possible that any woman, let her influence be ever so great over my
heart, could prejudice me against my amiable, my admirable wife.
What has just passed between Olivia and me, convinces me that it is
impossible. She has too much knowledge of my character to hazard in
future a similar attempt. No, my dear friend, be assured I would not
suffer it. I have not yet lost all title to your esteem or to my own.
This enchantress may intoxicate me with her cup, but shall never degrade
me; and I should feel myself less degraded even by losing the human form
than by forfeiting that principle of honour and virtue, which more nobly
distinguishes man from brute.

Yours most sincerely,

F. L----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXXIII.

GENERAL B---- TO MR. L----.


MY DEAR FRIEND,

It is well that I did not answer your letter of Saturday before I
received that of Monday. My congratulations upon your quarrel with
your fair one might have come just as you were kissing hands upon a
reconciliation.

I have often found a great convenience in writing a bad hand; my letters
are so little like what they are intended for, and have among them such
equality of unintelligibility, that each seems either; and with the
slightest alteration, each will stand and serve for the other. My _m_,
_n_, and _u_, are convertible letters; so are the terms and propositions
of your present mode of reasoning, my dear L----, and I perceive
that you find your account in it. Upon this I congratulate you; and I
congratulate Lady Leonora upon your being detained some weeks longer in
England. Those who have a just cause need never pray for victory; they
need only ask the gods for time. Time always brings victory to truth,
and shame to falsehood. But you are not worthy of such fine apophthegms.
At present "you are not fit to hear yourself convinced." I will wait for
a better opportunity, and have patience with you, if I can.

You seem to plume yourself mightily upon your resolve to do justice to
the merits of your wife, and upon the courage you have shown in stuffing
cotton into your ears to prevent your listening to the voice of the
siren: but pray take the cotton out, and hear all she can say or sing.
Lady Leonora cannot be hurt by any thing Olivia can say, but her own
malice may destroy herself.

In the mean time, as you tell me that you are upon velvet again, I am to
presume that you are perfectly at ease; and I should be obliged to you,
if, as often as you can find leisure, you would send me bulletins
of your happiness. I have never yet been in love with one of these
high-flown heroines, and I am really curious to know what degree of
felicity they can bestow upon a man of common sense. I should be glad to
benefit by the experience of a friend.

Yours truly,

J.B.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXXIV.

OLIVIA TO MADAME DE P----.


Richmond.

Accept my sincere thanks, inimitable Gabrielle! for having taken off my
hands a lover, who really has half-wearied me to death. If you had dealt
more frankly with me, I could, however, have saved you much superfluous
trouble and artifice. I now perfectly comprehend the cause of poor
R----'s strange silence some months ago; he was then under the influence
of your charms, and it was your pleasure to deceive me even when there
was no necessity for dissimulation. You knew the secret of my growing
attachment to L----, and must have foreseen that R---- would be
burthensome to me. You needed therefore only to have treated me with
candour, and you would have gained a lover without losing a friend:
but Madame de P---- is too accomplished a politician to go the simple
straight road to her object. I now perfectly comprehend why she took
such pains to persuade me that an imperial lover was alone worthy of
my charms. She was alarmed by an imaginary danger. Believe me, I am
incapable of disputing with any one _les restes d'un coeur_.

Permit me to assure you, madam, that your incomparable talents for
explanation will be utterly thrown away on me in future. I am in
possession of the whole truth, from a person whose information I cannot
doubt: I know the precise date of the commencement of your connexion
with R----, so that you must perceive it will be impracticable to make
me believe that you have not betrayed my easy confidence.

I cannot, however, without those pangs of sentiment which your heart
will never experience, reflect upon the treachery, the perfidy of one
who has been my bosom friend.--Return my letters, Gabrielle.--With
this you will receive certain _souvenirs_, at which I could never
henceforward look without sighing. I return you that ring I have so long
worn with delight, the picture of that treacherous eye,[1] which you
know so well how to use.--Adieu, Gabrielle.--The illusion is over.--How
many of the illusions of my fond heart have been dispelled by time and
treachery!

OLIVIA.

[Footnote 1: Certain ladies at this time carried pictures of the eyes of
their favourites.]

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXXV.

MADAME DE P---- TO MONSIEUR R----.


Paris, ---- 18, ----.

I have just received the most extravagant letter imaginable from your
Olivia. Really you may congratulate yourself, my dear friend, upon
having recovered your liberty. 'Twere better to be a galley slave at
once than to be bound to please a woman for life, who knows not what she
would have either in love or friendship. Can you conceive anything so
absurd as her upbraiding me with treachery, because I know the value
of a heart, of which she tells me she was more than half tired? as if
I were to blame for her falling in love with Mr. L----, and as if I did
not know the whole progress of her inconstancy. Her letters to me give a
new history of the birth and education of Love. Here we see Love born of
Envy, nursed by _Ennui_, and dandled in turn by all the Vices.

And this Lady Olivia fancies that she is a perfect French woman! There
is nothing we Parisians abhor and ridicule so much as these foreign, and
always awkward, caricatures of our manners. With us there are many who,
according to a delicate distinction, lose their virtue without losing
their taste for virtue; but I flatter myself there are few who resemble
Olivia entirely--who have neither the virtues of a man nor of a woman.
One cannot even say that "her head is the dupe of her heart," since
she has no heart. But enough of such a tiresome and incomprehensible
subject.

How I overvalued that head, when I thought it could ever be fit for
politics! 'Tis well we did not commit ourselves. You see how prudent
I am, my dear R----, and how much those are mistaken who think that we
women are not fit to be trusted with secrets of state. Love and politics
make the best mixture in the world. Adieu. Victoire summons me to my
toilette.

GABRIELLE DE P----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXXVI.

MADAME DE P---- TO LADY OLIVIA.


Paris,---- 18, ----.

Really, my dear Olivia, this is too childish. What! make a complaint in
form against me for taking a lover off your hands when you did not know
what to do with him! Do you quarrel in England every time you
change partners in a country dance? But I must be serious; for the
high-sounding words _treachery_ and _perfidy_ are surely sufficient
to make any body grave. Seriously, then, if you are resolved to be
tragical, _et de me faire une scène_, I must submit--console myself,
and, above all things, take care not to be ridiculous.

Your letters, as you desire it so earnestly, and with so much reason,
shall be returned by the first safe conveyance; but excuse me if I
forbear to restore your _souvenirs_. With us Parisians, this returning
of keepsakes has been out of fashion, since the days of Molière and _Le
dépit amoureux_.

Adieu, my charming Olivia! I embrace you tenderly, I was going to say;
but I believe, according to your English etiquette, I must now conclude
with

I have the honour to be,

Madam,

Your most obedient,

Humble servant,

GABRIELLE DE P----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXXVII.

FROM OLIVIA TO MR. L----.


Tuesday morning.

Come not to Richmond to-day; I am not in spirits to see you, my dearest
L----. Allow me to indulge my melancholy retired from every human eye.

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXXVIII.

FROM LADY OLIVIA TO MR. L----.


Tuesday evening.

"Explain to you the cause of my melancholy "--Vain request!--cruel
as vain! Your ignorance of the cause too well justifies my sad
presentiments. Were our feelings in unison, as once they were, would not
every chord of your heart vibrate responsively to mine?

With me, love is an absorbing vortex of the soul, into which all other
thoughts, feelings, and ideas are irresistibly impelled; with you, it
is but as the stranger stream that crosses the peaceful lake, and, as it
flows, wakens only the surface of the slumbering waters, communicating
to them but a temporary agitation. With you, my dear, but too
tranquil-minded friend, love is but one amid the vulgar crowd of
pleasures; it concentrates not your ideas, it entrances not your
faculties; it is not, as in my heart, the supreme delight, which renders
all others tasteless, the only blessing which can make life supportable;
the sole, sufficient object of existence. Alas! how cruelly different
is the feeble attachment that I have inspired from that all-powerful
sentiment to which I live a victim! Countless symptoms, by you unheeded,
mark to my love-watchful eye the decline of passion. How often am I
secretly shocked by the cold carelessness of your words and manner! How
often does the sigh burst from my bosom, the tear fall from my eye,
when you have left me at leisure to recall, by memory's torturing power,
instances of your increasing indifference! Seek not to calm my too
well-founded fears. Professions, with all their unmeaning, inanimate
formality, but irritate my anguish. Permit me to indulge, to feed upon
my grief in silence. Ask me no more to explain to you the cause of my
melancholy. Too plainly, alas! I feel it is beyond my utmost power to
endure it. Amiable Werter--divine St. Preux--you would sympathize in my
feelings! Sublime Goethe--all-eloquent Rousseau--you alone could feel as
I do, and you alone could paint my anguish.

The miserable

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXXIX.

MR. L---- TO GENERAL B----.


Expect no bulletin of happiness from me, my friend. I find it impossible
to make Olivia happy. She has superior talents, accomplishments, beauty,
grace, all that can attract and fascinate the human heart--that could
triumph over every feeling, every principle that opposed her power: she
lives with the man she loves, and yet she is miserable.

Rousseau, it has been said, never really loved any woman but his own
Julie; I have lately been tempted to think that Olivia never really
loved any man but St. Preux. Werter, perhaps, and some other German
heroes, might dispute her heart even with St. Preux; but as for me, I
begin to be aware that I am loved only as a feeble resemblance of those
divine originals (to whom, however, my character bears not the slightest
similarity), and I am often indirectly, and sometimes directly,
reproached with my inferiority to imaginary models. But how can a plain
Englishman hope to reach

  "The high sublime of deep absurd?"

I am continually reviled for not using a romantic language, which I
have never learned; and which, as far as I can judge, is foreign to all
natural feeling. I wish to make Olivia happy. There is nothing I
would not do to satisfy her of my sincerity; but nothing I can do will
suffice. She has a sort of morbid sensibility, which is more alive to
pain than pleasure, more susceptible of jealousy than of love. No
terms are sufficiently strong to convince her of my affection, but
an unguarded word makes her miserable for hours. She requires to be
agitated by violent emotions, though they exhaust her mind, and leave
her spiritless and discontented. In this alternation of rapture and
despair all her time passes. As she says of herself, she has no soul but
for love: she seems to think it a crime against sentiment, to admit of
relief from common occupations or indifferent subjects; with a sort of
superstitious zeal, she excludes all thoughts but those which relate to
one object, and in this spirit of amorous mysticism she actually makes
a penance even of love. I am astonished that her heart can endure this
variety of self-inflicted torments. What will become of Olivia when she
ceases to love and be loved? And what passion can be durable which is
so violent as hers, and to which no respite is allowed? No affection can
sustain these hourly trials of suspicion and reproach.

Jealousy of Leonora has taken such possession of Olivia's imagination,
that she misinterprets all my words and actions. By restraining my
thoughts, by throwing obstacles in the way of my affection for my wife,
she stimulates and increases it: she forces upon me continually those
comparisons which she dreads. Till I knew Olivia more intimately
than the common forms of a first acquaintance, or the illusions of a
treacherous passion permitted, her defects did not appear; but now that
I suffer, and that I see her suffer daily, I deplore them bitterly. Her
happiness rests and weighs heavily on my honour. I feel myself bound
to consider and to provide for the happiness of the woman who has
sacrificed to me all independent means of felicity. A man without honour
or humanity may perhaps finish an intrigue as easily as he can begin it,
but this is not exactly the case of your imprudent friend,

F. L----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXXX.

GENERAL B---- TO MR. L----.


Wednesday.

AY, ay! just as I thought it would be. This is all the comfort, my dear
friend, that I can give you; all the comfort that wise people usually
afford their friends in distress. Provided things happen just as they
predicted, they care but little what is suffered in the accomplishment
of their prophecies. But seriously, my dear L----, I am not sorry that
you are in a course of vexation. The more you see of your charmer the
better. She will allay your intoxication by gentle degrees, and send you
sober home. Pray keep in the course you have begun, and preserve your
patience as long as possible. I should be sorry that you and Olivia
quarrelled violently, and parted in a passion: such quarrels of lovers
are proverbially the renewal of love.

  "Il faut délier l'amitie, il faut couper l'amour."

In some cases this maxim may be just, but not in the present instance. I
would rather wait till the knot is untied than cut it; for when once
you see the art with which it was woven, a similar knot can never again
perplex you.

Yours truly,

J. B.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXXXI.

FROM OLIVIA TO MR. L----.


Richmond, Saturday.

You presume too much upon your power over my heart, and upon the
softness of my nature. Know that I have spirit as well as tenderness--a
spirit that will neither be injured nor insulted with impunity. You were
amazed, you say, by the violence which I showed yesterday. Why did you
provoke that violence by opposing the warmest wish of my heart, and with
a calmness that excited my tenfold indignation? Imagine not that I am
a tame, subjugated female, to be treated with neglect if I remonstrate,
and caressed as the price of obedience. Fancy not that I am one of your
chimney-corner, household goddesses, doomed to the dull uniformity of
domestic worship, destined to to be adored, to be hung with garlands,
or undeified or degraded with indignity! I have been accustomed to a
different species of worship; and the fondness of my weak heart has not
yet sunk me so low, and rendered me so abject, that I cannot assert my
rights. You tell me that you are unconscious of giving me any just cause
of offence. Just cause!--How I hate the cold accuracy of your words!
This single expression is sufficient offence to a heart like mine. You
entreat me to be reasonable. Reasonable!--did ever man talk of reason to
a woman he loved? When once a man has recourse to reason and precision,
there is an end of love. No just cause of offence!--What, have I no
cause to be indignant, when I find you thus trifle with my feelings,
postpone from week to week, and month to month, our departure from this
hateful country--

 "Bid me hope on from day to day,
  And wish and wish my soul away!"

Yes, you know it to be the most ardent wish of my soul to leave England;
you know that I cannot enjoy a moment's peace of mind whilst I am here;
yet in this racking suspense it is your pleasure to detain me. No, it
shall not be--this shall not go on! It is in vain you tell me that the
delay originates not with you, that you must wait for instructions, and
I know not what--paltry diplomatic excuses!

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXXXII.

MR. L---- TO GENERAL B----.


Richmond.

Amuse yourself, my good general, at my expense; I know that you are
seriously interested for my happiness; but the way is not quite so clear
before me as you imagine. It is extremely easy to be philosophic for
our friends; but difficult to be so for ourselves when our passions are
concerned. Indeed, this would be a contradiction in terms; you might as
well talk of a cold sun, or of hot ice, as of a philosopher falling in
love, or of a man in love being a philosopher. You say that Olivia will
wear out my passion, and that her defects will undo the work of her
charms. I acknowledge that she sometimes ravels the web she has woven;
but she is miraculously expeditious and skilful in repairing the
mischief: the magical tissue again appears firm as ever, glowing with
brighter colours, and exhibiting finer forms.

In plain prose, my dear friend--for as you ate not in love, you will
find it difficult to follow my poetic nights--in plain prose, I must
confess that Olivia has the power to charm and touch my heart, even
after she has provoked me to the utmost verge of human patience. She
knows her power, and I am afraid this tempts her to abuse it. Her
temper, which formerly appeared to me all feminine gentleness, is now
irritable and violent; but I am persuaded that this is not her natural
disposition; it is the effect of her present unhappy state of mind.
Tortured by remorse and jealousy, if in the height of their paroxysms,
Olivia make me suffer from their fury, is it for me to complain? I, who
caused, should at least endure the evil.

Every thing is arranged for my embassy, and the day is fixed for our
leaving England. I go down to L---- Castle next week.

Your faithful

F. L----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXXXIII.

JOSEPHINE TO VICTOIRE, MAD. DE P----'s WOMAN.


Richmond.

I am in despair, dear Victoire; and unless your genius can assist me,
absolutely undone! Here is this romantic lady of mine determined upon
a journey to Russia with her new English lover. What whims ladies take
into their heads, and how impossible it is to make them understand
reason! I have been labouring in vain to convince my Lady Olivia that
this is the most absurd scheme imaginable: and I have repeated to
her all I learnt from Lady F----'s women, who are just returned from
Petersburg, and whom I met at a party last night, all declaring they
would rather die a thousand deaths, than go through again what they have
endured. Such seas of ice! such going in sledges! such barbarians! such
beds! and scarcely a looking-glass! And nothing fit to wear but what one
carries with one, and God knows how long we may stay. At Petersburg the
coachmen's ears are frozen off every night on their boxes waiting for
their ladies. And there are bears and wild beasts, I am told, howling
with their mouths wide open night and day in the forests which we are to
pass through; and even in the towns, the men, I hear, are little better;
for it is the law of the country for the men to beat their wives, and
many wear long beards. How horrid!--My Lady F----'s woman, who is a
Parisian born, and very pretty, if her eyes were not so small, and
better dressed than her lady always, except diamonds, assures me, upon
her honour, she never had a civil thing said to her whilst she was in
Russia, except by one or two Frenchmen in the suite of the ambassadors.

These Russians think of nothing but drinking brandy, and they put pepper
into it! Mon Dieu, what savages! Put pepper into brandy! But that is
inconceivable! Positively, I will never go to Petersburg. And yet if
my lady goes, what will become of me? for you know my sentiments for
Brunel, and he is decided to accompany my lady, so I cannot stay behind.

But absolutely I am shocked at this intrigue with Mr. L----, and my
conscience reproaches me terribly with being a party concerned in it;
for in this country an affair of gallantry between married people is not
so light a thing as with us. Here wives sometimes love their husbands
seriously, as if they were their lovers; and my Lady Leonora L---- is
one of this sort of wives. She is very unhappy, I am told. One day at
L----Castle, I assure you my heart quite bled for her, when she gave me
a beautiful gown of English muslin, little suspecting me then to be her
enemy. She is certainly very unsuspicious, and very amiable, and I wish
to Heaven her husband would think as I do, and take her with him to
Petersburg, instead of carrying off my Lady Olivia and me! Adieu, mon
chou! Embrace every body I know, tenderly, for me.

Josephine.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXXXIV.

MRS. C---- TO THE DUCHESS OF ----.


MY DEAR MADAM,

I believe, when I wrote last to your grace, I said that I had no hopes
of the child's life. From the moment of his birth there was but little
probability of his being any thing but a source of misery to his mother.
I cannot, on her account, regret that the struggle is over. He expired
this morning. My poor friend had hopes to the last, though I had none;
and it was most painful and alarming to see the feverish anxiety with
which she watched over her little boy, frequently repeating, "Mr. L----
used to wish so much for a son.--I hope the boy will live to see his
father."

Last night, partly by persuasion, partly by compulsion, I prevailed with
her to let the child be taken out of her room. This morning, as soon as
it was light, I heard her bell ring; the poor little thing was at that
moment in convulsions; and knowing that Lady Leonora rang to inquire for
it, I went to prepare her mind for what I knew must be the event. The
moment I came into the room she looked eagerly in my face, but did not
ask me any questions about the child. I sat down by the side of her bed;
but without listening to what I said about her own health, she rang her
bell again more violently than before. Susan came in. "Susan!--without
my child!"--said she, starting up. Susan hesitated, but I saw by her
countenance that it was all over--so did Lady Leonora. She said not a
word, but drawing her curtain suddenly, she lay down, and never spoke or
stirred for three hours. The first words she said afterwards were to me:

"You need not move so softly, my dear Helen; I am not asleep. Have you
my mother's last letter? I think my mother says that she will be here
to-morrow? She is very kind to come to me. Will you be so good as to
write to her immediately, and send a servant with your letter as soon
as you can to meet her on the road, that she may not be _surprised_ when
she arrives?"

Lady Leonora is now more composed and more like herself than she has
been for some time past. I rejoice that your Grace will so soon be here,
because you will be her best possible consolation; and I do not know any
other person in the world who could have sufficient influence to prevent
her from attempting to set out upon a journey before she can travel
with safety. To do her justice, she has not hinted that such were her
intentions; but still I know her mind so well, that I am certain what
her thoughts are, and what her actions would be. Most ladies talk more
than they act, but Leonora acts more decidedly than she talks.

Believe, me, dear madam,

With much respect,

Your Grace's

Sincerely affectionate

HELEN C----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXXXV.

MR. L---- TO GENERAL B----.


I thank you, my excellent friend, for the kindness of your last letter
[1], which came to me at the time I wanted it most. In the whole course
of my life, I never felt so much self-reproach, as I have done since I
heard of the illness of Leonora and the loss of my son. From this blow
my mind will not easily recover. Of all torments self-reproach is the
worst. And even now I cannot follow the dictates of my own heart, and of
my better judgment.

In Olivia's company I am compelled to repress my feelings; she cannot
sympathize in them; they offend her: she is dissatisfied even with my
silence, and complains of my being out of spirits. Out of spirits!--How
can I be otherwise at present? Has Olivia no touch of pity for a woman
who was once her friend, who always treated her with generous kindness?
But perhaps I am a little unreasonable, and expect too much from female
nature.

At all events, I wish that Olivia would spare me at this moment her
sentimental metaphysics. She is for ever attempting to prove to me that
I cannot love so well as she can. I admit that I cannot talk of love so
finely. I hope all this will not go on when we arrive at Petersburg.

The ministry at last know their own minds. I saw ---- to-day, and every
thing will be quickly arranged; therefore, my dear friend, do not delay
coming to town, to

Your obliged

F. L----.

[Footnote 1: This letter does not appear.]

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXXXVI.

GENERAL B---- TO MR. L----.


Perhaps you are a _little_ unreasonable! Indeed, my dear friend, I do
not think you a _little_ unreasonable, but very nearly stark mad. What!
quarrel with your mistress because she is not sorry that your wife is
ill, and because she cannot sympathize in your grief for the loss of
your son! Where, except perhaps in absurd novels, did you ever meet with
these paragons of mistresses, who were so magnanimous and so generous as
to sacrifice their own reputations, and then be satisfied to share the
only possible good remaining to them in life, the heart of their lover,
with a rival more estimable, more amiable than themselves, and who has
the advantage of being a wife? This sharing of hearts, this union of
souls, with this opposition of interests--this metaphysical gallantry
is absolute nonsense, and all who try it in real life will find it so
to their cost. Why should you, my dear L----, expect such superlative
excellence from your Olivia? Do you think that a woman by losing one
virtue increases the strength of those that remain, as it is said that
the loss of one of our senses renders all the others more acute? Do you
think that a lady, by yielding to love, and by proving that she has not
sufficient resolution or forbearance to preserve the honour of her sex,
gives the best possible demonstration of her having sufficient strength
of character to rise superior to all the other weaknesses incident
to human, and more especially to female nature--envy and jealousy for
instance?

No, no, my good friend, you have common sense, though you lately have
been sparing of it in action. You had a wife, and a good wife, and you
had some chance of being happy; but with a wife and a mistress, granting
them to be both the best of their kind, the probabilities are rather
against you. I speak only as a man of the world: morality, you know,
is now merely an affair of calculation. According to the most approved
tables of happiness, you have made a bad bargain. But be just, at any
rate, and do not blame your Olivia for the inconveniences and evils
inseparable from the species of connexion that you have been pleased to
form. Do you expect the whole course of society and the nature of the
human heart to change for your special accommodation? Do you believe in
truth by wholesale, and yet in detail expect a happy exception in your
own favour?--Seriously, my dear friend, you must either break off this
connexion, or bear it. I shall see you in a few days.

Yours truly,

J. B.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXXXVII.

MRS C---- TO MISS B----


L---- Castle.

Leonora has recovered her strength surprisingly. She was so determined
to be well, that her body dared not contradict her mind. Her excellent
mother has been of the greatest possible service to us, for she has had
sufficient influence to prevent her daughter from exerting herself too
much. Her Grace had a letter from Mr. L---- to-day--very short, but very
kind--at least all that I heard read of it. He has set my heart somewhat
more at ease by the comfortable assurance, that he will not leave
England without seeing Lady Leonora. I have the greatest hopes from this
interview! I have not felt so happy for many months--but I will not
be too sanguine. Mr. L---- talks of being here the latter end of this
month. The duchess, with her usual prudence, intends to leave her
daughter before that time, lest Mr. L----should be constrained by her
presence, or should imagine that Leonora acts from any impulse but that
of her own heart. I also, though much against my inclination, shall
decamp; for he might perhaps consider me as an adviser, caballer,
confidante, or at least a troublesome spectator. All reconciliation
scenes should be without spectators. Men do not like to be seen on their
knees: they are at a loss, like Sir Walter Raleigh in "The Critic;" they
cannot get off gracefully. I am, dear Margaret,

Yours affectionately,

HELEN C----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXXXVIII.

GENERAL B---- TO MR. L----.


MY DEAR L----, Friday.

Ask yourself, in the name of common sense, why you should go to
Petersburg with this sentimental coquette, this romantic termagant, of
whom I see you are already more than half tired. As to your being bound
to her in honour, I cannot see how. Why should you make honour, justice,
humanity, and gratitude, plead so finely all on one side, and that the
wrong side of the question? Have none of these one word to whisper in
favour of any body in this world but of a worthless mistress, who makes
you miserable? I think you have learned from your heroine to be so
expert in sentimental logic, that you can change virtues into vices, and
vices into virtues, till at last you do not know them asunder. Else why
should you make it a point of conscience to abandon your wife--just at
the moment, too, when you are thoroughly convinced of her love for you,
when you are touched to the soul by her generous conduct, and when your
heart longs to return to her?

Please to remember that this Lady Olivia's reputation was not
unimpeached before her acquaintance with you, and do not take more glory
or more blame to yourself than properly falls to your share. Do not
forget that _poor_ R---- was your predecessor, and do not let this
delicate lady rest all the weight of her shame upon you, as certain
Chinese culprits rest their portable pillories on the shoulders of their
friends.

In two days I shall follow this letter, and repeat in person all the
interrogatories I have just put to you, my dear friend. Prepare yourself
to answer me sincerely such questions as I shall ask.

Yours truly,

J.B.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER LXXXIX.

FROM OLIVIA TO MR. L----.


Monday, 12 o'clock.

For a few days did you say? To _bid adieu_? Oh! if once more you return
to that fatal castle, that enchanted home, Olivia for ever loses all
power over your heart. Bid her die, stab her to the heart, and she will
call it mercy, and she will bless you with her dying lips; but talk
not of leaving your Olivia! On her knees she writes this, her face all
bathed in tears. And must she in her turn implore and supplicate? Must
she abase herself even to the dust? Yes--love like hers vanquishes even
the stubborn potency of female pride.

Your too fond

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XC.

FROM OLIVIA TO MR. L----.


[Dated a few hours after the preceding.]

Monday, half-past three.

Oh! this equivocating answer to my fond heart! Passion makes and admits
of no compromise. Be mine, and wholly mine--or never, never will I
survive your desertion! I can be happy only whilst I love; I can love
only whilst I am beloved with fervency equal to my own; and when I cease
to love, I cease to exist! No coward fears restrain my soul. The word
suicide shocks not my ear, appals not my understanding. Death I consider
but as the eternal rest of the wretched--the sweet, the sole refuge of
despair.

Your resolute

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XCI.

FROM OLIVIA TO MR. L----.


Tuesday.

Return! return! on the wings of love return to the calm, the prudent,
the happy, the transcendently happy Leonora! Return--but not to bid her
adieu--return to be hers for ever, and only hers. I give you back your
faith--I _give_ you back your promises--you have _taken_ back your
heart.

But if you should desire once more to see Olivia, if you should have
any lingering wish to bid her a last adieu, it must be this evening.
To-morrow's sun rises not for Olivia. For her but a few short hours
remain. Love, let them be all thy own! Intoxicate thy victim, mingle
pleasure in the cup of death, and bid her fearless quaff it to the
dregs!--

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XCII.

MR. L---- TO GENERAL B----.


Thursday.

My Dear Friend,

You have by argument and raillery, and by every means that kindness and
goodness could devise, endeavoured to expel from my mind a passion which
you justly foresaw would be destructive of my happiness, and of the
peace of a most estimable and amiable woman. With all the skill that
a thorough knowledge of human nature in general, and of my peculiar
character and foibles, could bestow, you have employed those

  --"Words and spells which can control,
  Between the fits, the fever of the soul."

Circumstances have operated in conjunction with your skill to "medicine
me to repose." The fits have gradually become weaker and weaker, the
fever is now gone, but I am still to suffer for the extravagances
committed during its delirium. I have entered into engagements which
must be fulfilled; I have involved myself in difficulties from which I
see no method of extricating myself honourably. Notwithstanding all the
latitude which the system of modern gallantry allows to the conscience
of our sex, and in spite of the convenient maxim, which maintains that
all arts are allowable in love and war, I think that a man cannot break
a promise, whether made in words or by tacit implication, on the faith
of which a woman sacrifices her reputation and happiness. Lady Olivia
has thrown herself upon my protection. I am as sensible as you can be,
my dear general, that scandal had attacked her reputation before our
acquaintance commenced; but though the world had suspicions, they had no
proofs: now there can be no longer any defence made for her character,
there is no possibility of her returning to that rank in society to
which she was entitled by her birth, and which she adorned with all the
brilliant charms of wit and beauty; no happiness, no chance of happiness
remains for her but from my constancy. Of naturally violent passions,
unused to the control of authority, habit, reason, or religion, and
at this time impelled by love and jealousy, Olivia is on the brink of
despair. I am not apt to believe that women die in modern times for
love, nor am I easily disposed to think that I could inspire a dangerous
degree of enthusiasm; yet I am persuaded that Olivia's passion,
compounded as it is of various sentiments besides love, has taken such
possession of her imagination, and is, as she fancies, so necessary to
her existence, that if I were to abandon her, she would destroy that
life, which she has already attempted, I thank God! ineffectually. What
a spectacle is a woman in a paroxysm of rage!--a woman we love, or whom
we have loved!

       *       *       *       *       *

Excuse me, my dear friend, if I wrote incoherently, for I have been
interrupted many times since I began this letter. I am this day
overwhelmed by a multiplicity of affairs, which, in consequence of
Olivia's urgency to leave England immediately, must be settled with an
expedition for which my head is not at present well qualified. I do not
feel well: I can command my attention but on one subject, and on that
all my thoughts are to no purpose. Whichever way I now act, I must
endure and inflict misery. I must either part from a wife who has given
me the most tender, the most touching proofs of affection--a wife who
is all that a man can esteem, admire, and love; or I must abandon a
mistress, who loves me with all the desperation of passion to which she
would fall a sacrifice. But why do I talk as if I were still at liberty
to make a choice?--My head is certainly very confused. I forgot that I
am bound by a solemn promise, and this is the evil which distracts me. I
will give you, if I can, a clear narrative.

Last night I had a terrible scene with Olivia. I foresaw that she would
be alarmed by my intended visit to L---- Castle, even though it was but
to take leave of my Leonora. I abstained from seeing Olivia to avoid
altercation, and with all the delicacy in my power I wrote to her,
assuring her that my resolution was fixed. Note after note came from
her, with pathetic and passionate appeals to my heart; but I was still
resolute. At length, the day before that on which I was to set out for
L---- Castle, she wrote to warn me, that if I wished to take a last
farewell, I must see her that evening: her note concluded with,
"To-morrow's sun will not rise for Olivia." This threat, and many
strange hints of her opinions concerning suicide, I at the time
disregarded, as only thrown out to intimidate a lover. However, knowing
the violence of Olivia's temper, I was punctual to the appointed hour,
fully determined by my firmness to convince her that these female wiles
were vain.

My dear friend, I would not advise the wisest man and the most
courageous upon earth to risk such dangers, confident in his strength.
Even a victory may cost him too dear.

I found Olivia reclining on a sofa, her beautiful tresses unbound, her
dress the perfection of elegant negligence. I half suspected that it
was studied negligence: yet I could not help pausing, as I entered, to
contemplate a figure. She never looked more beautiful--more fascinating.
Holding out her hand to me, she said, with her languid smile, and tender
expression of voice and manner, "You _are_ come then to bid me farewell.
I doubted whether... But I will not upbraid--mine be all the pain of
this last adieu. During the few minutes we have to pass together,

  "'Between us two let there be peace.'"

I sat down beside her, rather agitated, I confess, but commanding myself
so that my emotion could not be visible. In a composed tone I asked, why
she spoke of a last adieu? and observed that we should meet again in a
few days.

"Never!" replied Olivia. "Weak woman as I am, love inspires me with
sufficient force to make and to keep this resolution."

As she spoke, she took from her bosom a rose, and presenting it to me
in a solemn manner, "Put this rose into water to-night," continued she;
"to-morrow it will be alive!"

Her look, her expressive eyes, seemed to say, this flower will be alive,
but Olivia will be dead. I am ashamed to confess that I was silent,
because I could not just then speak.

"I have used some precaution," resumed Olivia, "to spare you, my dearest
L----, unnecessary pain.--Look around you."

The room, I now for the first time observed, was ornamented with
flowers.

"This apartment, I hope," continued she, "has not the air of the chamber
of death. I have endeavoured to give it a festive appearance, that the
remembrance of your last interview with your once loved Olivia may be at
least unmixed with horror."

At this instant, my dear general, a confused recollection of Rousseau's
Heloise, the dying scene, and her room ornamented with flowers, came
into my imagination, and destroying the idea of reality, changed
suddenly the whole course of my feelings.

In a tone of raillery I represented to Olivia her resemblance to Julie,
and observed that it was a pity she had not a lover whose temper was
more similar than mine to that of the divine St. Preux. Stung to the
heart by my ill-timed raillery, Olivia started up from the sofa, broke
from my arms with sudden force, snatched from the table a penknife, and
plunged it into her side.

She was about to repeat the blow, but I caught her arm--she
struggled--"promise me, then," cried she, "that you will never more see
my hated rival."

"I cannot make such a promise, Olivia," said I, holding her uplifted arm
forcibly. "I will not."

The words "hated rival," which showed me that Olivia was actuated more
by the spirit of hatred than love, made me reply in as decided a tone
as even you could have spoken, my dear general. But I was shocked, and
reproached myself with cruelty, when I saw the blood flow from her side:
she was terrified. I took the knife from her powerless hand, and she
fainted in my arms. I had sufficient presence of mind to reflect that
what had happened should be kept as secret as possible; therefore,
without summoning Josephine, whose attachment to her mistress I have
reason to suspect, I threw open the windows, gave Olivia air and water,
and her senses returned: then I despatched my Swiss for a surgeon. I
need not speak of my own feelings--no suspense could be more dreadful
than that which I endured between the sending for the surgeon and the
moment when he gave his opinion. He relieved me at once, by pronouncing
it to be a slight flesh wound, that would be of no manner of
consequence. Olivia, however, whether from alarm or pain, or from the
sight of the blood, fainted three times during the dressing of her side;
and though the surgeon assured her that it would be perfectly well in a
few days, she was evidently apprehensive that we concealed from her
the real danger. At the idea of the approach of death, which now took
possession of her imagination, all courage forsook her, and for some
time my efforts to support her spirits were ineffectual. She could not
dispense with the services of Josephine; and from the moment this French
woman entered the room, there was nothing to be heard but exclamations
the most violent and noisy. As to assistance, she could give none.
At last her exaggerated demonstrations of horror and grief ended
with,--"Dieu merci! an moins nous voilà delivrés de ce voyage affreux.
Apparemment qu'il ne sera plus question de ce vilain Petersburg pour
madame."

A new train of thoughts was roused by these words in Olivia's mind; and
looking at me, she eagerly inquired why the journey to Petersburg was to
be given up, if she was in no danger? I assured her that Josephine spoke
at random, that my intentions with regard to the embassy to Russia were
unaltered.

"Seulement retardé un peu," said Josephine, who was intent only upon her
own selfish object.--"Sûrement, madame ne voyagera pas dans cet état!"

Olivia started up, and looking at me with terrific wildness in her eyes,
"Swear to me," said she, "swear that you will not deceive me, or I
will this instant tear open this wound, and never more suffer it to be
closed."

"Deceive you, Olivia!" cried I, "what deceit can you fear from me?--What
is it you require of me?"

"I require from you a promise, a solemn promise, that you will go with
_me_ to Russia!"

"I solemnly promise that I will," said I: "now be tranquil, Olivia, I
beseech you."

The surgeon represented the necessity of keeping herself quiet, and
declared that he would not answer for the cure of his patient on any
other terms. Satisfied by the solemnity of my promise, Olivia now
suffered me to depart. This morning she sends me word that in a few days
she shall be ready to leave England. Can you meet me, my dear friend,
at L---- Castle? I go down there to-day, to bid adieu to Leonora. From
thence I shall proceed to Yarmouth, and embark immediately. Olivia will
follow me.

Your obliged

F. L----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XCIII.

LEONORA TO HER MOTHER.


L---- Castle

Dearest Mother,

My husband is here! at home with me, with your happy Leonora--and his
heart is with her. His looks, his voice, his manner tell me so, and by
them I never was deceived. No, he is incapable of deceit. Whatever have
been his errors, he never stooped to dissimulation. He is again my own,
still capable of loving me, still worthy of all my affection. I knew
that the delusion could not last long, or rather you told me so, my
best friend, and I believed you; you did him justice. He was indeed
deceived--who might not have been deceived by Olivia? His passions were
under the power of an enchantress; but now he has triumphed over her
arts. He sees her such as she is, and her influence ceases.

I am not absolutely certain of all this; but I believe, because I hope
it: yet he is evidently embarrassed, and seems unhappy: what can be the
meaning of this? Perhaps he does not yet know his Leonora sufficiently
to be secure of her forgiveness. How I long to set his heart at ease,
and to say to him, let the past be forgotten for ever! How easy it is to
the happy to forgive! There have been moments when I could not, I fear,
have been just, when I am sure that I could not have been generous. I
shall immediately offer to accompany Mr. L---- to Russia; I can have
no farther hesitation, for I see that he wishes it; indeed, just now he
almost said so. His baggage is already embarked at Yarmouth--he sails
in a few days--and in a few hours your daughter's fate, your daughter's
happiness, will be decided. It is decided, for I am sure he loves me;
I see, I hear, I feel it. Dearest mother, I write to you in the first
moment of joy.--I hear his foot upon the stairs.

Your happy

LEONORA L----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XCIV.

LEONORA TO HER MOTHER.


L---- Castle.

MY DEAR MOTHER,

My hopes are all vain. Your prophecies will never be accomplished. We
have both been mistaken in Mr. L----'s character, and henceforward your
daughter must not depend upon him for any portion of her happiness. I
once thought it impossible that my love for him could be diminished:
he has changed my opinion. Mine is not that species of weak or
abject affection which can exist under the sense of ill-treatment and
injustice, much less can my love survive esteem for its object.

I told you, my dear mother, and I believed, that his affections had
returned to me; but I was mistaken. He has not sufficient strength or
generosity of soul to love me, or to do justice to my love. I offered
to go with him to Russia: he answered, "That is
impossible."--Impossible!--Is it then impossible for him to do that
which is just or honourable? or seeing what is right, must he follow
what is wrong? or can his heart never more be touched by virtuous
affections? Is his taste so changed, so depraved, that he can now be
pleased and charmed only by what is despicable and profligate in our
sex? Then I should rejoice that we are to be separated--separated for
ever. May years and years pass away and wear out, if possible, the
memory of all he has been to me! I think I could better, much better
bear the total loss, the death of him I have loved, than endure to feel
that he had survived both my affection and esteem; to see the person the
same, but the soul changed; to feel every day, every hour, that I must
despise what I have so admired and loved.

Mr. L---- is gone from hence. He leaves England the day after to-morrow.
Lady Olivia is to _follow_ him. I am glad that public decency is not to
be outraged by their embarking together. My dearest mother, be assured
that at this moment your daughter's feelings are worthy of you.
Indignation and the pride of virtue support her spirit.

LEONORA L----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XCV.

GENERAL B---- TO LADY LEONORA L----.


Yarmouth.

Had I not the highest confidence in Lady Leonora L----'s fortitude, I
should not venture to write to her at this moment, knowing as I do that
she is but just recovered from a dangerous illness.

Mr. L---- had requested me to meet him at L---- Castle previously to his
leaving England, but it was out of my power. I met him however on the
road to Yarmouth, and as we travelled together I had full opportunity
of seeing the state of his mind. Permit me--the urgency of the case
requires it--to speak without reserve, with the freedom of an old
friend. I imagine that your ladyship parted from Mr. L---- with feelings
of indignation, at which I cannot be surprised: but if you had seen
him as I saw him, indignation would have given way to pity. Loving you,
madam, as you deserve to be loved, most ardently, most tenderly; touched
to his inmost soul by the proofs of affection he had seen in your
letters, in your whole conduct, even to the last moment of parting; my
unhappy friend felt himself bound to resist the temptation of staying
with you, or of accepting your generous offer to accompany him to
Petersburg. He thought himself bound in honour by a promise extorted
from him to save from suicide one whom he thinks he has injured, one who
has thrown herself upon his protection. Of the conflict in his mind at
parting with your ladyship I can judge from what he suffered afterwards.
I met Mr. L---- with feelings of extreme indignation, but before I had
been an hour in his company, I never pitied any man so much in my
life, for I never yet saw any one so truly wretched, and so thoroughly
convinced that he deserved to be so. You know that he is not one who
often gives way to his emotions, not one who expresses them much in
words--but he could not command his feelings.

The struggle was too violent. I have no doubt that it was the real cause
of his present illness. As the moment approached when he was to leave
England, he became more and more agitated. Towards evening he sunk into
a sort of apathy and gloomy silence, from which he suddenly broke into
delirious raving. At twelve o'clock last night, the night he was to have
sailed, he was seized with a violent and infectious fever. As to the
degree of immediate danger, the physicians here cannot yet pronounce.
I have sent to town for Dr. ----. Your ladyship may be certain that
I shall not quit my friend, and that he shall have every possible
assistance and attendance.

I am, with the truest esteem,

Your ladyship's faithful servant,

J. B.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XCVI.

LEONORA TO HER MOTHER.


DEAR MOTHER, L---- Castle.

This moment an express from General B----. Mr. L---- is dangerously
ill at Yarmouth--a fever, brought on by the agitation of his mind. How
unjust I have been! Forget all I said in my last. I write in the utmost
haste--just setting out for Yarmouth. I hope to be there to-morrow.

Your affectionate

LEONORA L----.

I open this to enclose the general's letter, which will explain every
thing.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XCVII.

GENERAL B---- TO THE DUCHESS OF ----.


MY DEAR MADAM, Yarmouth.

Your Grace, I find, is apprised of Lady Leonora L----'s journey hither:
I fear that you rely upon my prudence for preventing her exposing
herself to the danger of catching this dreadful fever. But that has been
beyond my power. Her ladyship arrived late last night. I had foreseen
the probability of her coming, but not the possibility of her coming so
soon. I had taken no precautions, and she was in the house and upon
the stairs in an instant. No entreaties, no arguments could stop her; I
assured her that Mr. L----'s fever was pronounced by all the physicians
to be of the most infectious kind. Dr. ---- joined me in representing
that she would expose her life to almost certain danger if she persisted
in her determination to see her husband; but she pressed forward,
regardless of all that could be said. To the physicians she made no
answer; to me she replied, "You are Mr. L----'s friend, but I am his
wife: you have not feared to hazard your life for him, and do you think
I can hesitate?" I urged that there was no necessity for more than one
person's running this hazard; and that since it had fallen to my lot to
be with my friend when he was first taken ill--She interrupted me,--"Is
not this taking a cruel advantage of me, general? You know that I,
too, would have been with Mr. L----, if--if it had been possible." Her
manner, her pathetic emphasis, and the force of her implied meaning,
struck me so much, that I was silent, and suffered her to pass on; but
again the idea of her danger rushing upon my mind, I sprang before her
to the door of Mr. L----'s apartment, and opposed her entrance. "Then,
general," said she, calmly, "perhaps you mistake me--perhaps you have
heard repeated some unguarded words of mine in the moment of indignation
... unjust ... you best know how unjust indignation!--and you infer
from these that my affection for my husband is extinguished. I deserve
this--but do not punish me too severely."

I still kept my hand upon the lock of the door, expostulating with Lady
Leonora in your Grace's name, and in Mr. L----'s, assuring her that if
he were conscious of what was passing, and able to speak, he would order
me to prevent her seeing him in his present situation.

"And you, too, general!" said she, bursting into tears: "I thought you
were my friend--would you prevent me from seeing him? And is not he
conscious of what is passing? And is not he able to speak? Sir, I must
be admitted! You have done your duty--now let me do mine. Consider, my
right is superior to yours. No power on earth should or can prevent a
wife from seeing her husband when he is.... Dear, dear general!" said
she, clasping her raised hands, and falling suddenly at my feet, "let me
see him but for one minute, and I will be grateful to you for ever!"

I could resist no longer--I tremble for the consequences. I know your
Grace sufficiently to be aware that you ought to be told the whole
truth. I have but little hopes of my poor friend's life.

With much respect,

Your grace's faithful servant,

J.B.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XCVIII.

OLIVIA TO MR. L----.


Richmond.

A mist hung over my eyes, and "my ears with hollow murmurs rung," when
the dreadful tidings of your alarming illness were announced by your
cruel messenger. My dearest L----! why does inexorable destiny doom me
to be absent from you at such a crisis? Oh! this fatal wound of mine!
It would, I fear, certainly open again if I were to travel. So this
corporeal being must be imprisoned here, while my anxious soul, my
viewless spirit, hovers near you, longing to minister each tender
consolation, each nameless comfort that love alone can, with fond
prescience and magic speed, summon round the couch of pain.

"O that I had the wings of a dove, that I might fly to you!" Why must I
resign the sweetly-painful task of soothing you in the hour of sickness?
And shall others with officious zeal,

  "Guess the faint wish, explain the asking eye?"

Alas it must be so--even were I to fly to him, my sensibility could
not support the scene. To behold him stretched on the bed of
disease--perhaps of death--would be agony past endurance. Let firmer
nerves than Olivia's, and hearts more callous, assume the offices from
which they shrink not. 'Tis the fate, the hard fate of all endued with
exquisite sensibility, to be palsied by the excess of their feelings,
and to become imbecile at the moment their exertions are most necessary.

Your too tenderly sympathizing

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XCIX.

LEONORA TO HER MOTHER.


Yarmouth.

My husband is alive, and that is all. Never did I see, nor could I have
conceived, such a change, and in so short a time! When I opened the
door, his eyes turned upon me with unmeaning eagerness: he did not know
me. The good general thought my voice might have some effect. I spoke,
but could obtain no answer, no sign of intelligence. In vain I called
upon him by every name that used to reach his heart. I kneeled beside
him, and took one of his burning hands in mine. I kissed it, and
suddenly he started up, exclaiming, "Olivia! Olivia!" with dreadful
vehemence. In his delirium he raved about Olivia's stabbing herself, and
called upon us to hold her arm, looking wildly towards the foot of the
bed, as if the figure were actually before him. Then he sunk back, as
if quite exhausted, and gave a deep sigh. Some of my tears fell upon his
hand; he felt them before I perceived that they had fallen, and looked
so earnestly in my face, that I was in hopes his recollection was
returning; but he only said, "Olivia, I believe that you love me;" then
sighed more deeply than before, drew his hand away from me, and, as well
as I could distinguish, said something about Leonora.

But why should I give you the pain of hearing all these circumstances,
my dear mother? It is enough to say, that he passed a dreadful night.
This morning the physicians say, that if he passes this night--if--my
dear mother, what a terrible suspense!

LEONORA L----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER C.

LEONORA TO HER MOTHER.


Yarmouth.

Morning is at last come, and my husband is still alive: so there is yet
hope. When I said I thought I could bear to survive him, how little I
knew of myself, and how little, how very little I expected to be so soon
tried! All evils are remediable but one, that one which I dare not name.

The physicians assure me that he is better. His friend, to whose
judgment I trust more, thinks as they do. I know not what to believe.
I dread to flatter myself and to be disappointed, I will write again,
dearest mother, to-morrow.

Your ever affectionate

LEONORA L----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER CI.

LEONORA TO HER MOTHER.


Wednesday.

No material change since yesterday, my dear mother. This morning, as I
was searching for some medicine, I saw on the chimney-piece a note from
Lady Olivia ----. It might have been there yesterday, and ever since my
arrival, but I did not see it. At any other time it would have excited
my indignation, but my mind is now too much weakened by sorrow. My fears
for my husband's life absorb all other feelings.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER CII.

OLIVIA TO MR. L----.


Richmond.

Words cannot express what I have suffered since I wrote last! Oh! why do
I not bear that the danger is over!--Long since would I have been
with you, all that my soul holds dear, could I have escaped from these
tyrants, these medical despots, who detain me by absolute force, and
watch over me with unrelenting vigilance. I have consulted Dr. ----, who
assures me that my fears of my wound opening, were I to take so long a
journey, are too well-founded; that in the present feverish state of my
mind he would not answer for the consequences. I heed him not--life I
value not.--Most joyfully would I sacrifice myself for the man I love.
But even could I escape from my persecutors, too well I know that to
see you would be a vain attempt--too well I know that I should not be
admitted. Your love, your fears for Olivia would barbarously banish her,
and forbid her your dear, your dangerous atmosphere. Too justly would
you urge that my rashness might prove our mutual ruin--that in the
moment of crisis or of convalescence, anxiety for me might defeat the
kind purpose of nature. And even were I secure of your recovery, the
delay, I speak not of the danger of my catching the disease, would,
circumstanced as we are, be death to our hopes. We should be compelled
to part. The winds would waft you from me. The waves would bear you to
another region, far--oh! far from your

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER CIII.

GENERAL B---- TO THE DUCHESS OF ----.


MY DEAR MADAM, Yarmouth, Thursday,--.

Mr. L---- has had a relapse, and is now more alarmingly ill than I
have yet seen him: he does not know his situation, for his delirium
has returned. The physicians give him over. Dr. H---- says that we must
prepare for the worst.

I have but one word of comfort for your Grace--that your admirable
daughter's health has not yet suffered.

Your Grace's faithful servant,

J.B.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER CIV.

LEONORA TO HER MOTHER.


MY DEAREST MOTHER, Yarmouth.

The delirium has subsided. A few minutes ago, as I was kneeling beside
him, offering up an almost hopeless prayer for his recovery, his eyes
opened, and I perceived that he knew me. He closed his eyes again
without speaking, opened them once more, and then looking at me fixedly,
exclaimed: "It is not a dream! You are Leonora!--_my_ Leonora!"

What exquisite pleasure I felt at the sound of these words, at the tone
in which they were pronounced! My husband folded me in his arms; and,
till I felt his burning lips, I forgot that he was ill.

When he came thoroughly to his recollection, and when the idea that his
fever might be infectious occurred to him, he endeavoured to prevail
upon me to leave the room. But what danger can there be for me _now_?
My whole soul, my whole frame is inspired with new life. If he recover,
your daughter may still be happy.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER CV.

GENERAL B----TO THE DUCHESS OF----.


My Dear Madam,

A few hours ago my friend became perfectly sensible of his danger, and
calling me to his bedside, told me that he was eager to make use of
the little time which he might have to live. He was quite calm and
collected. He employed me to write his last wishes and bequests; and I
must do him the justice to declare, that the strongest idea and feeling
in his mind evidently was the desire to show his entire confidence in
his wife, and to give her, in his last moments, proofs of his esteem and
affection. When he had settled his affairs, he begged to be left alone
for some time. Between twelve and one his bell rang, and he desired to
see Lady Leonora and me. He spoke to me with that warmth of friendship
which he has ever felt from our childhood. Then turning to his wife,
his voice utterly failed, and he could only press to his lips that hand
which was held out to him in speechless agony.

"Excellent woman!" he articulated at last; then collecting his mind,
he exclaimed, "My beloved Leonora, I will not die without expressing my
feelings for you; I know yours for me. I do not ask for that forgiveness
which your generous heart granted long before I deserved it. Your
affection for me has been shown by actions, at the hazard of your life;
I can only thank you with weak words. You possess my whole heart, my
esteem, my admiration, my gratitude."

Lady Leonora, at the word _gratitude_, made an effort to speak, and laid
her hand upon her husband's lips. He added, in a more enthusiastic
tone, "You have my undivided love. Believe in the truth of these
words--perhaps they are the last I may ever speak."

My friend sunk back exhausted, and I carried Lady Leonora out of the
room.

I returned half an hour ago, and found every thing silent: Mr. L---- is
lying with his eyes closed--quite still--I hope asleep. This may be a
favourable crisis. I cannot delay this letter longer.

Your Grace's faithful servant,

J. B.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER CVI.

LEONORA TO HER MOTHER.


DEAREST MOTHER, Yarmouth.

He has slept several hours.--Dr. H----, the most skilful of all his
physicians, says that we may now expect his recovery. Adieu. The good
general will add a line to assure you that I am not deceived, nor too
sanguine.

Yours most affectionately,

LEONORA L----.

_Postscript by General B----._

I have some hopes--that is all I can venture to say to your grace.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER CVII.

LEONORA TO HER MOTHER.


DEAREST MOTHER, Yarmouth.

Excellent news for you to-day!--Mr. L---- is pronounced out of danger.
He seems excessively touched by my coming here, and so grateful for the
little kindness I have been able to show him during his illness! But
alas! that fatal promise! the recollection of it comes across my mind
like a spectre. Mr. L---- has never touched upon this subject,--I do all
in my power to divert his thoughts to indifferent objects.

This morning when I went into his room, I found him tearing to pieces
that note which I mentioned to you a few days ago. He seemed much
agitated, and desired to see General B----. They are now together,
and were talking so loud in the next room to me, that I was obliged to
retire, lest I should overhear secrets. Mr. L---- this moment sends
for me. If I should not have time to add more, this short letter will
satisfy you for to-day.

Leonora L----.

I open my letter to say, that I am not so happy as I was when I began
it. I have heard all the circumstances relative to this terrible affair.
Mr. L---- will go to Russia. I am as far from happiness as ever.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER CVIII.

OLIVIA TO MR. L----.


Richmond.

  "Say, is not absence death to those that love?"

How just, how beautiful a sentiment! yet cold and callous is that heart
which knows not that there is a pang more dreadful than absence--far
as the death of lingering torture exceeds, in corporeal sufferance, the
soft slumber of expiring nature. Suspense! suspense! compared with thy
racking agony, even absence is but the blessed euthanasia of love.

My dearest L----, why this torturing silence? one line, one word, I
beseech you, from _your own hand_; say but _I live and love you, my
Olivia_. Hour after hour, and day after day, have I waited and waited,
and hoped, and feared to hear from you. Oh, this intolerable agonizing
suspense! Yet hope clings to my fond heart--hope! sweet treacherous
hope!

 "Non so si la Speranza
  Va con l'inganno unita;
  So che mantiene in vita
  Qualche infelici almen."

Olivia.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER CIX.

MR. L---- TO OLIVIA.


MY DEAR OLIVIA, Yarmouth.

This is the first line I have written since my illness. I could not
sooner relieve you from suspense, for during most of this time I have
been delirious, and never till now able to write. My physicians have
this morning pronounced me out of danger; and as soon as my strength is
sufficient to bear the voyage, I shall sail, according to my promise.

Your prudence, or that of your physician, has saved me much
anxiety--perhaps saved my life: for had you been so rash as to come
hither, besides my fears for your safety, I should have been exposed,
in the moment of my returning reason, to a conflict of passions which I
could not have borne.

Leonora is with me; she arrived the night after I was taken ill, and
forced her way to me, when my fever was at the highest, and while I was
in a state of delirium.

Lady Leonora will stay with me till the moment I sail, which I expect to
do in about ten days. I cannot say positively, for I am still very weak,
and may not be able to keep my word to a day. Adieu. I hope your mind
will now be at ease. I am glad to hear from the surgeon that your wound
is quite closed. I will write again, and more fully, when I am better
able. Believe me, Olivia, I am most anxious to secure your happiness:
allow me to believe that this will be in the power of

Yours sincerely,

F. L----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER CX.

OLIVIA TO MR. L----.


Richmond.

Barbarous man! with what cold cruelty you plunge a dagger into my heart!
Leonora is with you!--Leonora! Then I am undone. Yes, she will--she has
resumed all her power, her rights, her habitual empire over your heart.
Wretched Olivia!--But you say it is your wish to secure my happiness,
you bid me allow you to believe it is in your power. What phrases!--You
will sail, _according to your promise_.--Then nothing but your honour
binds you to Olivia. And even now, at this guilty instant, in your
secret soul, you wish, you expect from my offended pride, from my
disgusted delicacy, a renunciation of this promise, a release from all
the ties that bind you to me. You are right: this is what I ought to do;
what I would do, if love had not so weakened my soul, so prostrated
my spirit, rendered me so abject a creature, that _I cannot_ what _I
would_.

I must love on--female pride and resentment call upon me in vain. I
cannot hate you. Even by the feeble tie, which I see you long to break,
I must hold rather than let you go for ever. I will not renounce your
promise. I claim it. I adjure you by all which a man of honour holds
most sacred, to quit England the moment your health will allow you to
sail. No equivocating with your conscience!--I hold you to your word.
Oh, my dearest L----! to feel myself reduced to use such language to
you, to find myself clinging to that last resource of ship-wrecked
love, _a promise_! It is with unspeakable agony I feel all this; lower I
cannot sink in misery. Raise me, if indeed you wish my happiness--raise
me! it is yet in your power. Tell me, that my too susceptible heart has
mistaken phantoms for realities--tell me, that your last was not colder
than usual; yes, I am ready to be deceived. Tell me that it was only the
languor of disease; assure me that my rival forced her way only to your
presence, that she has not won her easy way back to your heart--assure
me that you are impatient once more to see your own

OLIVIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER CXI.

LEONORA TO HER MOTHER.


MY DEAREST MOTHER, Yarmouth.

Can you believe or imagine that I am actually unwilling to say or to
think that Mr. L---- is quite well? yet this is the fact. Such is the
inconsistency and weakness of our natures--of my nature, I should say.
But a short time ago I thought that no evil could be so great as his
danger; now that danger is past, I dread to hear him say that he is
perfectly recovered. The moment he is able he goes to Russia; that is
decided irrevocably. The promise has been claimed and repeated. A solemn
promise cannot be broken for any human consideration. I should despise
him if he broke it; but can I love him for keeping it? His mind is at
this instant agitated as much as mine is--more it cannot be. Yet I
ought to be better able to part with him now than when we parted before,
because I have now at least the consolation of knowing that he leaves me
against his will--that his heart will not go from me. This time I cannot
be deceived; I have had the most explicit assurances of his _undivided_
love. And indeed I was never deceived. All the appearances of regret
at parting with me were genuine. The general witnessed the consequent
struggle in Mr. L----'s mind, and this fever followed.

I will endeavour to calm and content myself with the possession of
his love, and with the assurance that he will return to me as soon as
possible. As soon as possible! but what a vague hope! He sails with the
first fair wind. What a dreadful certainty! Perhaps to-morrow! Oh, my
dearest mother, perhaps to-night!

LEONORA L----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER CXII.

GENERAL B---- TO THE DUCHESS OF ----.


MY DEAR MADAM, Yarmouth.

Today Mr. L----, finding himself sufficiently recovered, gave orders to
all his suite to embark, and the wind being fair, determined to go on
board immediately. In the midst of the bustle of the preparations for
his departure, Lady Leonora, exhausted by her former activity, and
unable to take any part in what was passing, sat silent, pale, and
motionless, opposite to a window, which looked out upon the sea; the
vessel in which her husband was to sail lay in sight, and her eyes were
fixed upon the streamers, watching their motion in the wind.

Mr. L---- was in his own apartment writing letters. An express arrived;
and among other letters for the English ambassador to Russia, there
was a large packet directed to Lady Leonora L----. Upon opening it,
the crimson colour flew into her face, and she exclaimed, "Olivia's
letters!--Lady Olivia----'s letters to Mad. de P----. Who could send
these to me?"

"I give you joy with all my heart!" cried I; "no matter how they
come--they come in the most fortunate moment possible. I would stake
my life upon it they will unmask Olivia at once. Where is Mr. L----? He
must read them this moment."

I was hurrying out of the room to call my friend, but Lady Leonora
stopped my career, and checked the transport of my joy.

"You do not think, my dear general," said she, "that I would for any
consideration do so dishonourable an action as to read these letters?"

"Only let Mr. L---- read them," interrupted I, "that is all I ask of
your ladyship. Give them to me. For the soul of me I can see nothing
dishonourable in this. Let Lady Olivia be judged by her own words. Your
ladyship shall not be troubled with her trash, but give the letters to
me, I beseech you."

"No, I cannot," said Lady Leonora, steadily. "It is a great temptation;
but I ought not to yield." She deliberately folded them up in a blank
cover, directed them to Lady Olivia, and sealed them; whilst I, half in
admiration and half in anger, went on expostulating.

"Good God! this is being too generous! But, my dear Lady Leonora, why
will you sacrifice yourself? This is misplaced delicacy! Show those
letters, and I'll lay my life Mr. L---- never goes to Russia."

"My dear friend," said she, looking up with tears in her eyes, "do not
tempt me beyond my power to resist. Say no more." At this instant Mr.
L----came into the room; and I am ashamed to confess to your Grace,
I really was so little master of myself, that I was upon the point of
seizing Olivia's letters, and putting them into his hands. "L----," said
I, "here is your admirable wife absurdly, yes, I must say it, absurdly
standing upon a point of honour with one who has none! That packet which
she has before her--"

Lady Leonora imposed silence upon me by one of those looks which no man
can resist.

"My dear Leonora, you are right," said Mr. L----; "and you are almost
right, my dear general: I know what that packet contains; and without
doing anything dishonourable, I hold myself absolved from my promise; I
shall not go to Russia, my dearest wife!" He flew into her arms--and I
left them. I question whether they either of them felt much more than I
did.

For some minutes I was content with knowing that these things had
really happened, that I had heard Mr. L---- say he was absolved from
all promises, and that he would not go to Russia; but how did all this
happen so suddenly?--How did he know the contents of Olivia's letters,
and without doing any thing dishonourable? There are some people who
cannot be perfectly happy till they know the _rationale_ of their
happiness. I am one of these. I did not feel "a sober certainty of
waking bliss," till I read a letter which Mr. L---- received by the same
express that brought Olivia's letters, and which he read while we were
debating. I beg your Grace's pardon if I am too minute in explanation;
but I do as I would be done by. The letter was from one of the private
secretaries, who is, I understand, a relation and friend of Lady Leonora
L----. As the original goes this night to Lady Olivia, I send your Grace
a copy. You will give me credit for copying, and at such a time as this!
I congratulate your Grace, and

I have the honour to be, &c.,

J. B.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER CXIII

TO MR. L----


[Private.]

London, St. James's-street.

My Dear Sir,

In the same moment you receive this, your lady, for whom I have the
highest regard, will receive from me a valuable present, a packet of
Lady Olivia ----'s letters to one of her French friends. These letters
were lately found in a French frigate, taken by one of our cruisers;
and, as _intercepted correspondence_ is the order of the day, these,
with all the despatches on board, were transmitted to our office to be
examined, in hopes of making reprisals of state secrets. Some letters
about the court and Emperor of Russia led us to suppose that we should
find some political manoeuvres, and we examined farther. The examination
fortunately fell to my lot, as private secretary. After looking them all
over, however, I found that these papers contain only family secrets:
I obtained permission to send them to Lady Leonora L----, to ensure
the triumph of virtue over vice--to put it into her ladyship's power
completely to unmask her unworthy rival. These letters will show you by
what arts you have been deceived. You will find yourself ridiculed as _a
cold, awkward Englishman_; one who will _hottentot again, whatever pains
may be taken to civilize him; a man of ice_, to be taken as a lover from
_pure charity_, or _pure curiosity_, or the pure _besoin d'aimer_. Here
are many pure motives, of which you will, my dear sir, take your
choice. You will farther observe in one of her letters, that Lady Olivia
premeditated the design of prevailing with you to carry her to Russia,
that she might show her power _to that proudest of earthly prudes_, the
Duchess of ----, and that she might _gratify her great revenge against
Lady Leonora L----_.

Sincerely hoping, my dear sir, that these letters may open your eyes,
and restore you and my amiable relation to domestic happiness, I make no
apology for the liberty I take, and cannot regret the momentary pain
I may inflict. You are at liberty to make what use you think proper of
this letter.

I have it in command from my Lord ---- to add, that if your health,
or any other circumstances, should render this embassy to Russia less
desirable to you than it appeared some time ago, other arrangements can
be made, and another friend of government is ready to supply your place.

I am, my dear sir,

Yours, &c.

To F. L----, Esq. &c.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER CXIV.

FROM LADY LEONORA ---- TO THE DUCHESS OF ----.


Yarmouth.

Joy, dearest mother! Come and share your daughter's happiness!

_Continued by General B----._

       *       *       *       *       *

Lady Olivia, thus unmasked by her own hand, has fled to the continent,
declaring that she will never more return to England. There she is
right--England is not a country fit for such women.--But I will never
waste another word or thought upon her.

Mr. L---- has given up the Russian embassy, and returns with Lady
Leonora to L---- Castle to-morrow. He has invited me to accompany them.
Lady Leonora is now the happiest of wives, and your Grace the happiest
of mothers.

I have the honour and the pleasure to be

Your Grace's sincerely attached,

J. B----.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER CXV.

THE DUCHESS OF ---- TO LADY LEONORA L----.


My beloved daughter, pride and delight of your happy mother's heart, I
give you joy! Your temper, fortitude, and persevering affection, have
now their just reward. Enjoy your happiness, heightened as it must be by
the sense of self-approbation, and by the sympathy of all who know
you. And now let me indulge the vanity of a mother; let me exult in
the accomplishment of my prophecies, and let me be listened to with due
humility, when I prophesy again. With as much certainty as I foretold
what is now present, I foresee, my child, your future destiny, and I
predict that you will preserve while you live your husband's fondest
affections. Your prudence will prevent you from indulging too far your
taste for retirement, or for the exclusive society of your intimate
friends. Spend your winters in London: your rank, your fortune, and, I
may be permitted to add, your character, manners, and abilities, give
you the power of drawing round you persons of the best information and
of the highest talents. Your husband will find, in such society, every
thing that can attach him to his home; and in you, his most rational
friend and his most charming companion, who will excite him to every
generous and noble exertion.

For the good and wise, there is in love, a power unknown to the ignorant
and the vicious, a power of communicating fresh energy to all the
faculties of the soul, of exalting them to the highest state of
perfection. The friendship which in later life succeeds to such love is
perhaps the greatest, and certainly the most permanent blessing of life.

An admirable German writer--you see, my dear, that I have no prejudices
against good German writers--an admirable German writer says, that "Love
is like the morning shadows, which diminish as the day advances; but
friendship is like the shadows of the evening, which increase even till
the setting of the sun." ----

1805.



LETTER

From

A GENTLEMAN TO HIS FRIEND,

Upon the

BIRTH OF A DAUGHTER;

WITH THE ANSWER.


I congratulate you, my dear sir, upon the birth of your daughter; and I
wish that some of the fairies of ancient times were at hand to endow the
damsel with health, wealth, wit, and beauty. Wit?--I should make a long
pause before I accepted of this gift for a daughter--you would make
none.

As I know it to be your opinion that it is in the power of education,
more certainly than it was ever believed to be in the power of fairies,
to bestow all mental gifts; and as I have heard you say that education
should begin as early as possible, I am in haste to offer you my
sentiments, lest my advice should come too late.

Your general ideas of the habits and virtues essential to the perfection
of the female character nearly agree with mine; but We differ materially
as to the cultivation which it is necessary or expedient to bestow upon
the understandings of women. You are a champion for the rights of
woman, and insist upon the equality of the sexes: but since the days of
chivalry are past, and since modern gallantry permits men to speak,
at least to one another, in less sublime language of the fair; I may
confess to you that I see neither from experience nor analogy much
reason to believe that, in the human species alone, there are no marks
of inferiority in the female:--curious and admirable exceptions there
may be, but many such have not fallen within my observation. I cannot
say that I have been much enraptured, either on a first view or on a
closer inspection, with female prodigies. Prodigies are scarcely less
offensive to my taste than monsters: humanity makes us refrain
from expressing disgust at the awkward shame of the one, whilst
the intemperate vanity of the other justly provokes ridicule and
indignation. I have always observed in the understandings of women who
have been too much cultivated, some disproportion between the different
faculties of their minds. One power of the mind undoubtedly may be
cultivated at the expense of the rest; as we see that one muscle or limb
may acquire excessive strength, and an unnatural size, at the expense of
the health of the whole body: I cannot think this desirable, either
for the individual or for society.--The unfortunate people in certain
mountains of Switzerland are, some of them, proud of the excrescence
by which they are deformed. I have seen women vain of exhibiting mental
deformities, which to me appeared no less disgusting. In the course of
my life it has never been my good fortune to meet with a female whose
mind, in strength, just proportion, and activity, I could compare to
that of a sensible man.

Allowing, however, that women are equal to our sex in natural abilities;
from their situation in society, from their domestic duties, their taste
for dissipation, their love of romance, poetry, and all the lighter
parts of literature, their time must be so fully occupied, that they
could never have leisure for, even supposing that they were capable of,
that severe application to which our sex submit.--Between persons of
equal genius and equal industry, time becomes the only measure of their
acquirements.--Now calculate the time which is wasted by the fair sex,
and tell me how much the start of us they ought to have in the beginning
of the race, if they are to reach the goal before us?--It is not
possible that women should ever be our equals in knowledge, unless you
assert that they are far our superiors in natural capacity.--Not only
time but, opportunity must be wanting to complete female studies:--we
mix with the world without restraint, we converse freely with all
classes of people, with men of wit, of science, of learning, with the
artist, the mechanic, the labourer; every scene of life is open to our
view; every assistance that foreign or domestic ingenuity can invent, to
encourage literary studies, is ours almost exclusively. From academies,
colleges, public libraries, private associations of literary men, women
are excluded, if not by law, at least by custom, which cannot easily be
conquered.--Whenever women appear, even when we seem to admit them as
our equals in understanding, every thing assumes a different form; our
politeness, delicacy, habits towards the sex, forbid us to argue or to
converse with them as we do with one another:--we see things as they
are; but women must always see things through a veil, or cease to be
women.--With these insuperable difficulties in their education and in
their passage through life, it seems impossible that their minds should
ever acquire that vigour and _efficiency_, which accurate knowledge and
various experience of life and manners can bestow.

Much attention has lately been paid to the education of the female sex;
and you will say that we have been amply repaid for our care,--that
ladies have lately exhibited such brilliant proofs of genius, as must
dazzle and confound their critics. I do not ask for proofs of genius, I
ask for solid proofs of utility. In which of the useful arts, in which
of the exact sciences, have we been assisted by female sagacity
or penetration?--I should be glad to see a list of discoveries, of
inventions, of observations, evincing patient research, of truths
established upon actual experiment, or deduced by just reasoning from
previous principles:--if these, or any of these, can be presented by a
female champion for her sex, I shall be the first to clear the way for
her to the temple of Fame.

I must not speak of my contemporaries, else candour might oblige me
to allow that there are some few instances of great talents applied
to useful purposes:--but, except these, what have been the literary
productions of women! In poetry, plays, romances, in the art of
imposing upon the understanding by means of the imagination, they have
excelled;--but to useful literature they have scarcely turned their
thoughts. I have never heard of any female proficients in science--few
have pretended to science till within these few years.

You will tell me, that in the most difficult and most extensive science
of politics women have succeeded;--you will cite the names of some
illustrious queens. I am inclined to think, with the Duke of Burgundy,
that "queens who reigned well were governed by men, and kings who
reigned ill were governed by women."

The isolated examples of a few heroines cannot convince me that it
is safe or expedient to trust the sex with power:--their power over
themselves has regularly been found to diminish, in proportion as their
power over others has been increased. I should not refer you to the
scandalous chronicles of modern times, to volumes of private anecdotes,
or to the abominable secret histories of courts, where female influence
and female depravity are synonymous terms; but I appeal to the open
equitable page of history, to a body of evidence collected from the
testimony of ages, for experiments tried upon the grandest scale
of which nature admits, registered by various hands, without the
possibility of collusion, and without a view to any particular
system:--from these you must be convinced, that similar consequences
have uniformly resulted from the same causes, in nations the most
unlike, and at periods the most distant. Trace the history of female
nature, from the court of Augustus to the court of Louis the Fourteenth,
and tell me whether you can hesitate to acknowledge that the influence,
the liberty, and the _power_ of women have been constant concomitants
of the moral and political decline of empires;--I say the concomitants:
where events are thus invariably connected, I might be justified in
saying that they were _causes_--you would call them _effects_; but we
need not dispute about the momentary precedence of evils, which are
found to be inseparable companions:--they may be alternately cause
and effect,--the reality of the connexion is established; it may be
difficult to ascertain precisely its nature.

You will assert, that the fatal consequences which have resulted from
our trusting the sex with liberty and power, have been originally
occasioned by the subjection and ignorance in which they had previously
been held, and of our subsequent folly and imprudence, in _throwing the
reins of dominion into hands unprepared and uneducated to guide them_.
I am at a loss to conceive any system of education that can properly
prepare women for the exercise of power. Cultivate their understandings,
"cleanse the visual orb with euphrasy and rue," till they can with one
comprehensive glance take in "one half at least of round eternity;"
still you have no security that their reason will govern their conduct.
The moral character seems, even amongst men of superior strength of
mind, to have no certain dependence upon the reasoning faculty;--habit,
prejudice, taste, example, and the different strength of various
passions, form the moral character. We are impelled to action,
frequently contrary to the belief of our sober reason; and we
pursue what we could, in the hour of deliberation, demonstrate to be
inconsistent with _that greatest possible share of happiness_, which it
is the object of every rational creature to secure. We frequently "think
with one species of enthusiasm, and act with another:" and can we expect
from women more consistency of conduct, if they are allowed the same
liberty?--No one can feel, more strongly than you do, the necessity and
the value of female integrity; no one can more clearly perceive how
much in society depends upon the honour of women; and how much it is the
interest of every individual, as well as of every state, to guard their
virtue, and to preserve inviolate the purity of their manners. Allow me,
then, to warn you of the danger of talking in loud strains to the sex,
of the noble contempt of prejudice. You would look with horror at one
who should go to sap the foundations of the building; beware then how
you venture to tear away the ivy which clings to the walls, and braces
the loose stones together.

I am by no means disposed to indulge in the fashionable ridicule
of prejudice. There is a sentimental, metaphysical argument, which,
independently of all others, has lately been used, to prevail upon us
to relinquish that superiority which strength of body in savage, and
strength of mind in civilized nations, secure to man. We are told,
that as women are reasonable creatures, they should be governed only by
reason; and that we _disgrace_ ourselves, and _enslave_ them, when we
instil even the most useful truths as prejudices.--Morality should,
we are told, be founded upon demonstration, not upon sentiment; and
we should not require human beings to submit to any laws or customs,
without convincing their understandings of the universal utility of
these political conventions. When are we to expect this conviction?
We cannot expect it from childhood, scarcely from youth; but from the
maturity of the understanding we are told that we may expect it with
certainty.--And of what use can it then be to us? When the habits are
fixed, when the character is decided, when the manners are formed, what
can be done by the bare conviction of the understanding? What could
we expect from that woman, whose moral education was to begin, at
the moment when she was called upon to _act_; and who, without having
imbibed in her early years any of the salutary prejudices of her sex,
or without having been educated in the amiable acquiescence to well
established maxims of female prudence, should boldly venture to conduct
herself by the immediate conviction of her understanding? I care not for
the names or titles of my guides; all that I shall inquire is, which is
best acquainted with the road. Provided women be conducted quietly
to their good, it is scarcely worth their while to dispute about the
pompous metaphysical names, or precedency of their motives. Why should
they deem it disgraceful to be induced to pursue their interest by what
some philosophers are pleased to call _weak_ motives? Is it not much
less disgraceful to be peaceably governed by weak reasons, than to be
incapable of being restrained by the strongest? The dignity of human
nature, and the boasted free-will of rational agents, are high-sounding
words, likely to impose upon the vanity of the fair sex, as well as upon
the pride of ours; but if we analyze the ideas annexed to these terms,
to what shall we reduce them? Reason in its highest perfection seems
just to arrive at the certainty of instinct; and truth impressed upon
the mind in early youth by the united voice of affection and authority,
gives all the real advantages of the most investigating spirit of
philosophy. If the result of the thought, experience, and sufferings of
one race of beings is, (when inculcated upon the belief of the next,)
to be stigmatized as prejudice, there is an end to all the benefits of
history and of education. The mutual intercourse of individuals and of
nations must be only for the traffic or amusement of the day. Every age
must repeat the same experiments; every man and every nation must make
the same mistakes, and suffer the same miseries, whilst the civilization
and happiness of the world, if not retrograde in their course, must, for
ever be stationary.

Let us not then despise, or teach the other sex to despise, the
traditional maxims of experience, or those early prepossessions, which
may be termed prejudices, but which in reality serve as their moral
instinct. I can see neither tyranny on our part, nor slavery on theirs,
in this system of education. This sentimental or metaphysical appeal
to our candour and generosity has then no real force; and every other
argument for the _literary_ and _philosophical_ education of women,
and for the extraordinary cultivation of their understandings, I have
examined.

You probably imagine that, by the superior ingenuity and care you may
bestow on your daughter's education, you shall make her an exception
to general maxims; you shall give her all the blessings of a literary
cultivation, and at the same time preserve her from all the follies, and
faults, and evils, which have been found to attend the character of a
literary lady.

Systems produce projects; and as projects in education are of all others
the most hazardous, they should not be followed till after the most
mature deliberation. Though it may be natural, is it wise for any man
to expect extraordinary success, from his efforts or his precautions,
beyond what has ever been the share of those who have had motives as
strong for care and for exertion, and some of whom were possibly his
equals in ability? Is it not incumbent upon you, as a parent and as a
philosopher, to calculate accurately what you have to fear, as well
as what you have to hope? You can at present, with a sober degree or
interest, bear to hear me enumerate the evils, and ridicule the foibles,
incident to literary ladies; but if your daughter were actually in this
class, you would not think it friendly if I were to attack them. In
this favourable moment, then, I beg you to hear me with temper; and as I
touch upon every danger and every fault, consider cautiously whether
you have a certain preventive or a specific remedy in store for each of
them.

Women of literature are much more numerous of late than they were a few
years ago. They make a class in society, they fill the public eye, and
have acquired a degree of consequence and an appropriate character. The
esteem of private friends, and the admiration of the public for their
talents, are circumstances highly flattering to their vanity; and as
such I will allow them to be substantial pleasures. I am also ready to
acknowledge that a taste for literature adds much to the happiness of
life, and that women may enjoy to a certain degree this happiness as
well as men. But with literary women this silent happiness seems at
best but a subordinate consideration; it is not by the treasures they
possess, but by those which they have an opportunity of displaying, that
they estimate their wealth. To obtain public applause, they are betrayed
too often into a miserable ostentation of their learning. Coxe tells
us, that certain Russian ladies split their pearls, in order to make a
greater display of finery.

The pleasure of being admired for wit or erudition, I cannot exactly
measure in a female mind; but state it to be as delightful as you can
imagine it to be, there are evils attendant upon it, which, in
the estimation of a prudent father, may over-balance the good. The
intoxicating effect of wit upon the brain has been well remarked, by a
poet, who was a friend to the fair sex: and too many ridiculous, and
too many disgusting examples confirm the truth of the observation. The
deference that is paid to genius, sometimes makes the fair sex forget
that genius will be respected only when united with discretion.
Those who have acquired fame, fancy that they can afford to sacrifice
reputation. I will suppose, however, that their heads shall be strong
enough to bear inebriating admiration, and that their conduct shall
be essentially irreproachable; yet they will show in their manners and
conversation that contempt of inferior minds, and that neglect of common
forms and customs, which will provoke the indignation of fools, and
which cannot escape the censure of the wise. Even whilst we are secure
of their innocence, we dislike that daring spirit in the female sex,
which delights to oppose the common opinions of society, and from
apparent trifles we draw unfavourable omens, which experience too often
confirms. You will ask me why I should suppose that wits are more liable
to be spoiled by admiration than beauties, who have usually a larger
share of it, and who are not more exempt from vanity? Those who are vain
of trifling accomplishments, of rank, of riches, or of beauty, depend
upon the world for their immediate gratification. They are sensible of
their dependence; they listen with deference to the maxims, and attend
with anxiety to the opinions of those, from whom they expect their
reward and their daily amusements. In their subjection consists their
safety; whilst women, who neither feel dependent for amusement nor for
self-approbation upon company and public places, are apt to consider
this subjection as humiliating, if not insupportable: perceiving their
own superiority, they despise, and even set at defiance, the opinions of
their acquaintance of inferior abilities: contempt, where it cannot be
openly retorted, produces aversion, not the less to be dreaded because
constrained to silence: envy, considered as the involuntary tribute
extorted by merit, is flattering to pride: and I know that many
women delight to excite envy, even whilst they affect to fear its
consequences: but they, who imprudently provoke it, are little aware of
the torments they prepare for themselves.--"Cover your face well
before you disturb the hornet's nest," was a maxim of the _experienced_
Catherine de Medici.

Men of literature, if we may trust to the bitter expressions of anguish
in their writings, and in their private letters, feel acutely all the
stings of envy. Women, who have more susceptibility of temper, and less
strength of mind, and who, from the delicate nature of their reputation,
are more exposed to attack, are also less able to endure it. Malignant
critics, when they cannot attack an author's peace in his writings,
frequently scrutinize his private life; and every personal anecdote is
published without regard to truth or propriety. How will the delicacy of
the female character endure this treatment? How will her friends bear
to see her pursued even in domestic retirement, if she should be wise
enough to make that retirement her choice? How will they like to
see premature memoirs, and spurious collections of familiar letters,
published by needy booksellers, or designing enemies? Yet to all these
things men of letters are subject; and such must literary ladies expect,
if they attain to any degree of eminence.--Judging, then, from the
experience of our sex, I may pronounce envy to be one of the evils which
women of uncommon genius have to dread. "Censure," says a celebrated
writer, "is a tax which every man must pay to the public, who seeks to
be eminent." Women must expect to pay it doubly.

Your daughter, perhaps, shall be above scandal. She shall despise the
idle whisper, and the common tattle of her sex; her soul shall be raised
above the ignorant and the frivolous; she shall have a relish for higher
conversation, and a taste for higher society; but where is she to
find, or how is she to obtain this society? You make her incapable
of friendship with her own sex. Where is she to look for friends, for
companions, for equals? Amongst men? Amongst what class of men? Not
amongst men of business, or men of gallantry, but amongst men of
literature.

Learned men have usually chosen for their wives, or for their
companions, women who were rather below than above the standard of
mediocrity: this seems to me natural and reasonable. Such men, probably,
feel their own incapacity for the daily business of life, their
ignorance of the world, their slovenly habits, and neglect of domestic
affairs. They do not want wives who have precisely their own defects;
they rather desire to find such as shall, by the opposite habits and
virtues, supply their deficiencies. I do not see why two books should
marry, any more than two estates. Some few exceptions might be quoted
against Stewart's observations. I have just seen, under the article "A
Literary Wife," in D'Israeli's Curiosities of Literature, an account of
Francis Phidelphus, a great scholar in the fifteenth century, who was
so desirous of acquiring the Greek language in perfection, that he
travelled to Constantinople in search of a _Grecian wife_: the lady
proved a scold. "But to do justice to the name of Theodora," as this
author adds, "she has been honourably mentioned in the French Academy
of Sciences." I hope this proved an adequate compensation to her husband
for his domestic broils.

Happy Mad. Dacier! you found a husband suited to your taste! You and
Mons. Dacier, if D'Alembert tells the story rightly, once cooked a dish
in concert, by a receipt which you found in Apicius, and you both sat
down and ate of your learned ragout till you were both like to die.

Were I sure, my dear friend, that every literary lady would be equally
fortunate in finding in a husband a man who would sympathize in her
tastes, I should diminish my formidable catalogue of evils. But, alas!
M. Dacier is no more; "and we shall never live to see his fellow."
Literary ladies will, I am afraid, be losers in love, as well as in
friendship, by the superiority.--Cupid is a timid, playful child, and
is frightened at the helmet of Minerva. It has been observed, that
gentlemen are not apt to admire a prodigious quantity of learning and
masculine acquirements in the fair sex;--we usually consider a certain
degree of weakness, both of mind and body, as friendly to female grace.
I am not absolutely of this opinion; yet I do not see the advantage
of supernatural force, either of body or mind, to female excellence.
Hercules-Spinster found his strength rather an incumbrance than an
advantage.

Superiority of mind must be united with great temper and generosity, to
be tolerated by those who are forced to submit to its influence. I
have seen witty and learned ladies, who did not seem to think it at all
incumbent upon them to sacrifice any thing to the sense of propriety. On
the contrary, they seemed to take both pride and pleasure in showing
the utmost stretch of their strength, regardless of the consequences,
panting only for victory. Upon such occasions, when the adversary
has been a husband or a father, I must acknowledge that I have felt
sensations which few ladies can easily believe they excite. Airs and
graces I can bear as well as another; but airs without graces no man
thinks himself bound to bear, and learned airs least of all. Ladies
of high rank in the court of Parnassus are apt, sometimes, to claim
precedency out of their own dominions, which creates much confusion,
and generally ends in their being affronted. That knowledge of the world
which keeps people in their proper places they will never learn from the
Muses.

Molière has pointed out, with all the force of comic ridicule, in the
Femmes Savantes, that a lady, who aspires to the sublime delights
of philosophy and poetry, must forego the simple pleasures, and will
despise the duties of domestic life. I should not expect that my house
affairs would be with haste despatched by a Desdemona, weeping over some
unvarnished tale, or petrified with some history of horrors, at the
very time when she should be ordering dinner, or paying the butcher's
bill.--I should have the less hope of rousing her attention to my
culinary concerns and domestic grievances, because I should probably
incur her contempt for hinting at these sublunary matters, and her
indignation for supposing that she ought to be employed in such
degrading occupations. I have heard, that if these sublime geniuses are
awakened from their reveries by the _appulse_ of external circumstances,
they start, and exhibit all the perturbation and amazement of
_cataleptic_ patients.

Sir Charles Harrington, in the days of Queen Elizabeth, addressed a copy
of verses to his wife, "On Women's Vertues:"--these he divides into
"the private, _civill_, and heroyke;" the private belong to the country
housewife, whom it concerned; chiefly--

 "The fruit, malt, hops, to tend, to dry, to utter,
    To beat, strip, spin the wool, the hemp, the flax,
    Breed poultry, gather honey, try the wax,
  And more than all, to have good cheese and butter.
  Then next a step, but yet a large step higher,
    Came civill vertue fitter for the citty,
  With modest looks, good clothes, and answers witty.
  These baser things not done, but guided by her."

As for heroyke vertue, and heroyke dames, honest Sir Charles would have
nothing to do with them.

Allowing, however, that you could combine all these virtues--that
you could form a perfect whole, a female wonder from every creature's
best--dangers still threaten you. How will you preserve your daughter
from that desire of universal admiration, which will ruin all your
work? How will you, along with all the pride of knowledge, give her that
"retiring modesty," which is supposed to have more charms for our sex
than the fullest display of wit and beauty?

The _fair Pauca of Thoulouse_ was so called because she was so fair that
no one could live either with or without beholding her:--whenever she
came forth from her own mansion, which, history observes, she did very
seldom, such impetuous crowds rushed to obtain a sight of her, that
limbs were broken and lives were lost wherever she appeared. She
ventured abroad less frequently--the evil increased--till at length the
magistrates of the city issued an edict commanding the fair Pauca, under
the pain of perpetual imprisonment, to appear in broad daylight for one
hour, every week, in the public market-place.

Modern ladies, by frequenting public places so regularly, declare their
approbation of the wholesome regulations of these prudent magistrates.
Very different was the crafty policy of the prophet Mahomet, who forbad
his worshippers even to paint his picture. The Turks have pictures of
the hand, the foot, the features of Mahomet, but no representation of
the whole face or person is allowed. The portraits of our beauties, in
our exhibition-room, show a proper contempt of this insidious policy;
and those learned and ingenious ladies who publish their private
letters, select maxims, secret anecdotes, and family memoirs, are
entitled to our thanks, for thus presenting us with full-lengths of
their minds.

Can you expect, my dear sir, that your daughter, with all the genius
and learning which you intend to give her, should refrain from these
imprudent exhibitions? Will she "yield her charms of mind with sweet
delay?" Will she, in every moment of her life, recollect that the fatal
desire for universal applause always defeats its own purpose, especially
if the purpose be to win our love as well as our admiration? It is in
vain to tell me, that more enlarged ideas in our sex would alter
our tastes, and alter even the associations which now influence our
passions. The captive who has numbered the links of his chains, and
has even discovered how these chains are constructed, is not therefore
nearer to the recovery of his liberty.

Besides, it must take a length of time to alter associations and
opinions, which, if not _just_, are at least _common_ in our sex. You
cannot expect even that conviction should operate immediately upon the
public taste. You will, in a few years, have educated your daughter; and
if the world be not educated exactly at the right time to judge of her
perfections, to admire and love them, you will have wasted your labour,
and you will have sacrificed your daughter's happiness: that happiness,
analyze it as a man of the world or as a philosopher, must depend on
friendship, love, the exercise of her virtues, the just performance
of all the duties of life, and the self-approbation arising from the
consciousness of good conduct.

I am, my dear friend,

Yours sincerely.



ANSWER

TO

THE PRECEDING LETTER.


I have as little taste for Mad. Dacier's learned ragout as you can
have, my dear sir; and I pity the great scholar, who travelled to
Constantinople for the termagant Theodora, believing, as you do, that
the honourable mention made of her by the French Academy of Sciences,
could be no adequate compensation to her husband for domestic disquiet:
but the lady's learning was not essential to his misfortune; he might
have met with a scolding dame, though he had not married a Grecian. A
profusion of vulgar aphorisms in the dialects of all the counties in
England, proverbs in Welsh, Scotish, French, Spanish, Italian, and
Hebrew, might be adduced to prove that scolds are to be found amongst
all classes of women. I am, however, willing to allow, that the more
learning, and wit, and eloquence a lady possesses, the more troublesome
and the more dangerous she may become as a wife or daughter, unless
she is also possessed of good sense and good temper. Of your honest
Sir Charles Harrington's two pattern wives, I think I should prefer the
country housewife, with whom I could be sure of having good cheese and
butter, to the _citty dame_ with her good clothes and answers witty.--I
should be afraid that these answers witty might be turned against me,
and might prove the torment of my life.--You, who have attended to
female disputants, must have remarked, that, learned or unlearned, they
seldom know how to reason; they assert and declaim, employ wit,
and eloquence, and sophistry, to confute, persuade, or abash
their adversaries; but distinct reasoning they neither use nor
comprehend.--Till women learn to reason, it is in vain that they acquire
learning.

You are satisfied, I am sure, with this acknowledgment. I will go
farther, and at once give up to you all the learned ladies that exist,
or that ever have existed: but when I use the term literary ladies, I
mean women who have cultivated their understandings not for the purposes
of parade, but with the desire to make themselves useful and agreeable.
I estimate the value of a woman's abilities and acquirements, by the
degree in which they contribute to her happiness.

You think yourself happy because you are wise, said a philosopher to a
pedant.--I think myself wise because I am happy.

You tell me, that even supposing I could educate my daughter so as to
raise her above the common faults and follies of her sex; even supposing
I could give her an enlarged understanding, and literature free from
pedantry, she would be in danger of becoming unhappy, because she would
not, amongst her own sex, find friends suited to her taste, nor amongst
ours, admirers adequate to her expectations: you represent her as in the
situation of the poor flying-fish, exposed to dangerous enemies in her
own element, yet certain, if she tries to soar above them, of being
pounced upon by the hawk-eyed critics of the higher regions.

You allow, however, that women of literature are much more numerous of
late than they were a few years ago; that they make a class in
society, and have acquired a considerable degree of consequence, and an
appropriate character; how can you then fear that a woman of cultivated
understanding should be driven from the society of her own sex in search
of dangerous companions amongst ours? In the female world she will be
neither without an equal nor without a judge; she will not have much to
fear from envy, because its malignant eye will not fix upon one object
exclusively, when there are numbers to distract its attention, and
share the stroke. The fragile nature of female friendships, the petty
jealousies which break out at the ball or in the drawing-room, have been
from time immemorial the jest of mankind. Trifles, light as air, will
necessarily excite not only the jealousy, but the envy of those who
think only of trifles. Give them more employment for their thoughts,
give them a nobler spirit of emulation, and we shall hear no more of
these paltry feuds; give them more useful and more interesting subjects
of conversation, and they become not only more agreeable, but safer
companions for each other.

Unmarried women, who have stored their minds with knowledge, who have
various tastes and literary occupations, who can amuse and be amused in
the conversation of well-informed people, are in no danger of becoming
burthensome to their friends or to society: though they may not be seen
haunting every place of amusement or of public resort, they are not
isolated or forlorn; by a variety of associations they are connected
with the world, and their sympathy is expanded and supported by the
cultivation of their understandings; nor can it sink, settle, and
concentrate upon cats, parrots, and monkeys. How far the human heart may
be contracted by ignorance it is difficult to determine; but I am little
inclined to envy the _simple_ pleasures of those whose understandings
are totally uncultivated.--Sir William Hamilton, in his account of
the last eruption of Mount Vesuvius, gives us a curious picture of the
excessive ignorance and stupidity of some nuns in a convent at Torre del
Greco:--one of these nuns was found warming herself at the red-hot lava,
which had rolled up to the window of her cell. It was with the greatest
difficulty that these scarcely rational beings could be made to
comprehend the nature of their danger; and when at last they were
prevailed upon to quit the convent, and were advised to carry with
them whatever they thought most valuable, they loaded themselves with
sweetmeats.--Those who wish for ignorant wives, may find them in other
parts of the world, as well as in Italy.

I do not pretend, that even by cultivating my daughter's understanding
I can secure for her a husband suited to her taste; it will therefore
be prudent to make her felicity in some degree independent of matrimony.
Many parents have sufficient kindness and foresight to provide, in point
of fortune, for their daughters; but few consider that if a single life
should be their choice or their doom, something more is necessary to
secure respect and happiness for them in the decline of life. The silent
_unreproved_ pleasures of literature are the sure resource of those
who have cultivated minds; those who have not, must wear out their
disconsolate unoccupied old age as chance directs. When you say that
men of superior understanding dislike the appearance of extraordinary
strength of mind in the fair sex, you probably mean that the display of
that strength is disgusting, and you associate with the idea of strength
of mind, masculine, arrogant, or pedantic manners: but there is no
necessary connexion between these things; and it seems probable that
the faults usually ascribed to learned ladies, like those peculiar to
learned men, may have arisen in a great measure from circumstances which
the progress of civilization in society has much altered.

In the times of ignorance, men of deep science were considered by the
vulgar as a class of necromancers, and they were looked upon alternately
with terror and admiration; and learned men imposed upon the vulgar by
assuming strange airs of mystery and self-importance, wore long beards
and solemn looks; they spoke and wrote in a phraseology peculiar to
themselves, and affected to consider the rest of mankind as beneath
their notice: but since knowledge has been generally diffused, all this
affectation has been laid aside; and though we now and then hear of men
of genius who indulge themselves in peculiarities, yet upon the whole
the manners of literary men are not strikingly nor wilfully different
from those of the rest of the world. The peculiarities of literary women
will also disappear as their numbers increase. You are disgusted by
their ostentation of learning. Have patience with them, my dear sir;
their taste will become more simple when they have been taught by
experience that this parade is offensive: even the bitter expression of
your disgust may be advantageous to those whose manners are yet to be
formed; they will at least learn from it what to avoid; and your letter
may perhaps hereafter be of service in my daughter's education.--It
is scarcely to be supposed, that a girl of good understanding would
deliberately imitate the faults and follies which she hears ridiculed
during her childhood, by those whom she esteems.

As to your dread of prodigies, that will subside:--prodigies are heard
of most frequently during the ages of ignorance. A woman may now possess
a considerable stock of information without being gazed upon as a
miracle of learning; and there is not much danger of her being vain of
accomplishments which cease to be astonishing. Nor will her peace be
disturbed by the idle remarks of the ignorant vulgar.--A literary
lady is no longer a sight; the spectacle is now too common to attract
curiosity; the species of animal is too well known even to admit of
much exaggeration in the description of its appearance, A lady riding
on horseback upon a side-saddle is not thought a wonderful thing by
the common people in England; but when an English lady rode upon a
side-saddle in an Italian city, where the sight was unusual, she was
universally gazed at by the populace; to some she appeared an object of
astonishment, to others of compassion:--"Ah! poverina," they exclaimed,
"n'ha che una gamba!"

The same objects excite different emotions in different situations;
and to judge what will astonish or delight any given set of people some
years hence, we must consider not merely what is the fashion of to-day,
but whither the current of opinion runs, and what is likely to be the
fashion of hereafter.--You must have observed that public opinion is at
present more favourable to the cultivation of the understanding of the
female sex than it was some years ago; more attention is paid to the
education of women, more knowledge and literature are expected from them
in society. From the literary lady of the present day something more is
expected than that she should know how to spell and to write better than
Swift's celebrated Stella, whom he reproves for writing _villian_ and
_daenger_:--perhaps this very Stella was an object of envy in her own
day to those who were her inferiors in literature. No man wishes his
wife to be obviously less cultivated than those of her own rank; and
something more is now required, even from ordinary talents, than what
distinguished the accomplished lady of the seventeenth century. What the
standard of excellence may be in the next age we cannot ascertain,
but we may guess that the taste for literature will continue to be
progressive; therefore, even if you assume that the education of the
female sex should be guided by the taste and reigning opinions of ours,
and that it should be the object of their lives to win and keep our
hearts, you must admit the expediency of attending to that fashionable
demand for literature and the fine arts, which has arisen in society.

No woman can foresee what may be the taste of the man with whom she may
be united; much of her happiness, however, will depend upon her being
able to conform her taste to his: for this reason I should therefore, in
female education, cultivate the general powers of the mind, rather than
any particular faculty. I do not desire to make my daughter merely a
musician, a painter, or a poet; I do not desire to make her merely a
botanist, a mathematician, or a chemist; but I wish to give her early
the habit of industry and attention, the love of knowledge, and the
power of reasoning: these will enable her to attend to excellence in any
pursuit to which she may direct her talents. You will observe, that many
things which formerly were thought above the comprehension of women,
or unfit for their sex, are now acknowledged to be perfectly within the
compass of their abilities, and suited to their situation.--Formerly
the fair sex was kept in Turkish ignorance; every means of acquiring
knowledge was discountenanced by fashion, and impracticable even
to those who despised fashion;--our books of science were full of
unintelligible jargon, and mystery veiled pompous ignorance from public
contempt; but now writers must offer their discoveries to the public in
distinct terms, which every body may understand; technical language no
longer supplies the place of knowledge, and the art of teaching has been
carried to such perfection, that a degree of knowledge may now with
ease be acquired in the course of a few years, which formerly it was
the business of a life to attain. All this is much in favour of female
literature. Ladies have become ambitious to superintend the education of
their children, and hence they have been induced to instruct themselves,
that they may be able to direct and inform their pupils. The mother, who
now aspires to be the esteemed and beloved instructress of her children,
must have a considerable portion of knowledge. Science has of late
"_been enlisted under the banners of imagination_," by the irresistible
charms of genius; by the same power, her votaries will be led "_from the
looser analogies which dress out the imagery of poetry to the stricter
ones which form the ratiocination of philosophy_[1]."--Botany has become
fashionable; in time it may become useful, if it be not so already.
Chemistry will follow botany. Chemistry is a science well suited to
the talents and situation of women; it is not a science of parade; it
affords occupation and infinite variety; it demands no bodily strength;
it can be pursued in retirement; it applies immediately to useful and
domestic purposes; and whilst the ingenuity of the most inventive mind
may in this science be exercised, there is no danger of inflaming the
imagination, because the mind is intent upon realities, the knowledge
that is acquired is exact, and the pleasure of the pursuit is a
sufficient reward for the labour.

[Footnote 1: Vide preface to Darwin's Botanic Garden.]

A clear and ready knowledge of arithmetic is surely no useless
acquirement for those who are to regulate the expenses of a family.
Economy is not the mean "penny wise and pound foolish" policy which some
suppose it to be; it is the art of calculation joined to the habit
of order, and the power of proportioning our wishes to the means of
gratifying them. The little pilfering temper of a wife is despicable and
odious to every man of sense; but there is a judicious, graceful species
of economy, which has no connexion with an avaricious temper, and
which, as it depends upon the understanding, can be expected only from
cultivated minds. Women who have been well educated, far from despising
domestic duties, will hold them in high respect; because they will see
that the whole happiness of life is made up of the happiness of each
particular day and hour, and that much of the enjoyment of these must
depend upon the punctual practice of those virtues which are more
valuable than splendid.

It is not, I hope, your opinion, that ignorance is the best security for
female virtue. If this connexion between virtue and ignorance could once
be clearly proved, we ought to drown our books deeper than ever plummet
sounded:--I say _we_--for the danger extends equally to both sexes,
unless you assert that the duties of men rest upon a more certain
foundation than the duties of the other sex: if our virtues can be
demonstrated to be advantageous, why should theirs suffer for being
exposed to the light of reason?--All social virtue conduces to our own
happiness or that of our fellow-creatures; can it weaken the sense
of duty to illustrate this truth?--Having once pointed out to the
understanding of a sensible woman the necessary connexion between her
virtues and her happiness, must not those virtues, and the means of
preserving them, become in her eyes objects of the most interesting
importance? But you fear, that even if their conduct continued to be
irreproachable, the manners of women might be rendered less delicate
by the increase of their knowledge; you dislike in the female sex that
daring spirit which despises the common forms of society, and which
breaks through the reserve and delicacy of female manners:--so do
I:--and the best method to make my pupil respect these things is to show
her how they are indispensably connected with the largest interests
of society: surely this perception of the utility of forms apparently
trifling, must be a strong security to the prudential reserve of the
sex, and far superior to the automatic habits of those who submit to
the conventions of the world without consideration or conviction.
Habit, confirmed by reason, assumes the rank of virtue. The motives that
restrain from vice must be increased by the clear conviction, that vice
and wretchedness are inseparably united.

Do not, however, imagine, my dear sir, that I shall attempt to lay moral
demonstration before _a child_, who could not possibly comprehend my
meaning; do not imagine that because I intend to cultivate my daughter's
understanding, I shall neglect to give her those early habits of reserve
and modesty which constitute the female character.--Believing, as I do,
that woman, as well as man, may be called a bundle of habits, I shall
be peculiarly careful, during my child's early education, to give her as
many good habits as possible; by degrees as her understanding, that is
to say as her knowledge and power of reasoning shall increase, I can
explain the advantages of these habits, and confirm their power by the
voice of reason. I lose no time, I expose myself to no danger, by this
system. On the contrary, those who depend entirely upon the force of
custom and prejudice expose themselves to infinite danger. If once their
pupils begin to reflect upon their own hoodwinked education, they will
probably suspect that they have been deceived in all that they have been
taught, and they will burst their bonds with indignation.--Credulity
is always rash in the moment she detects the impositions that have been
practised upon her easy temper. In this inquiring age, few have any
chance of passing through life without being excited to examine the
motives and principles from which they act: is it not therefore prudent
to cultivate the reasoning faculty, by which alone this examination can
be made with safety? A false argument, a repartee, the charms of wit or
eloquence, the voice of fashion, of folly, of numbers, might, if she had
no substantial reasons to support her cause, put virtue not only out of
countenance, but out of humour.

You speak of moral instinct. As far as I understand the term, it implies
certain habits early acquired from education; to these I would add the
power of reasoning, and then, and not till then, I should think
myself safe:--for I have observed that the pupils of habit are utterly
confounded when they are placed in circumstances different from those to
which they have been accustomed.--It has been remarked by travellers
and naturalists, that animals, notwithstanding their boasted instinctive
knowledge, sometimes make strange and fatal mistakes in their conduct,
when they are placed in new situations:--destitute of the reasoning
faculty, and deceived by resemblances, they mistake poison for food.
Thus the bull-frog will swallow burning charcoal, mistaking it for
fire-flies; and the European hogs and poultry which travelled to Surinam
poisoned themselves by eating plants that were unknown to them[1].

[Footnote 1: Vide Stedmen's Voyage to Surinam, vol. ii. p. 47.]

You seem, my dear sir, to be afraid that truth should not keep so firm a
hold upon the mind as prejudice; and you produce an allusion to justify
your fears. You tell us that civil society is like a building, and you
warn me not to tear down the ivy which clings to the walls, and braces
the loose stones together.--I believe that ivy, in some situations,
tends to pull down the walls to which it clings.--You think it is not
worth while to cultivate the understandings of women, because you say
that you have no security that the conviction of their reason will have
any permanent good effect upon their conduct; and to persuade me of
this, you bid me observe that men who are superior to women in strength
of mind and judgment, are frequently misled by their passions. By this
mode of argument, you may conclude that reason is totally useless to the
whole human race; but you cannot, with any show of justice, infer that
it ought to be monopolized by one-half of mankind. But why should you
quarrel with reason, because passion sometimes conquers her?--You should
endeavour to strengthen the connexion between theory and practice, if
it be not sufficiently strong already; but you can gain nothing by
destroying theory.--Happiness is your aim; but your unpractised or
unsteady hand does not obey your will: you do not at the first trial
hit the mark precisely.--Would you, because you are awkward, insist upon
being blind?

The strength of mind which enables people to govern themselves by
their reason, is not always connected with abilities even in their most
cultivated state: I deplore the instances which I have seen of this
truth, but I do not despair; on the contrary, I am excited to inquire
into the causes of this phenomenon; nor, because I see some evil,
would I sacrifice the good upon a bare motive of suspicion. It is a
contradiction to say, that giving the power to discern what is good is
giving a disposition to prefer what is bad. I acknowledge with regret,
that women who have been but half instructed, who have seen only
superficially the relations of moral and political ideas, and who have
obtained but an imperfect knowledge of the human heart, have conducted
themselves so as to disgrace their talents and their sex; these are
conspicuous and melancholy examples, which are cited oftener with malice
than with pity. But I appeal to examples amongst our contemporaries, to
which every man of literature will immediately advert, to prove, that
where the female understanding has been properly cultivated, women have
not only obtained admiration by their useful abilities, but respect by
their exemplary conduct.

I apprehend that many of the errors into which women of literature have
fallen, may have arisen from an improper choice of books. Those who read
chiefly works of imagination, receive from them false ideas of life and
of the human heart. Many of these productions I should keep as I would
deadly poison from my child; I should rather endeavour to turn her
attention to science than to romance, and to give her early that taste
for truth and utility, which, when once implanted, can scarcely be
eradicated. There is a wide difference between innocence and ignorance:
ignorant women may have minds the most debased and perverted, whilst
the most cultivated understanding may be united with the most perfect
innocence and simplicity.

Even if literature were of no other use to the fair sex than to
supply them with employment, I should think the time dedicated to
the cultivation of their minds well bestowed: they are surely better
occupied when they are reading or writing than when coqueting or gaming,
losing their fortunes or their characters. You despise the writings of
women:--you think that they might have made a better use of the pen,
than to write plays, and poetry, and romances. Considering that the pen
was to women a new instrument, I think they have made at least as good a
use of it as learned men did of the needle some centuries ago, when they
set themselves to determine how many spirits could stand upon its point,
and were ready to tear one another to pieces in the discussion of
this sublime question. Let the sexes mutually forgive each other their
follies; or, what is much better, let them combine their talents for
their general advantage.--You say, that the experiments we have made
do not encourage us to proceed--that the increased care and pains which
have been of late years bestowed upon female education have produced
no adequate returns; but you in the same breath allow that amongst your
contemporaries, whom you prudently forbear to mention, there are some
instances of great talents applied to useful purposes. Did you expect
that the fruits of good cultivation should appear before the seed was
sown? You triumphantly enumerate the disadvantages to which women,
from the laws and customs of society, are liable:--they cannot converse
freely with men of wit, science, and learning, nor even with the artist,
or artificers; they are excluded from academies, public libraries, &c.
Even our politeness prevents us, you say, from ever speaking plain truth
and sense to the fair sex:--every assistance that foreign or domestic
ingenuity can invent to encourage literary studies, is, as you boast,
almost exclusively ours: and after pointing out all these causes for the
inferiority of women in knowledge, you ask for a list of the inventions
and discoveries of those who, by your own statement of the question,
have not been allowed opportunities for observation. With the insulting
injustice of an Egyptian task-master, you demand the work, and deny the
necessary materials.

I admit, that with respect to the opportunities of acquiring knowledge,
institutions and manners are, as you have stated, much in favour of
our sex; but your argument concerning _time_ appears to me to be
unfounded.--Women who do not love dissipation must have more time
for the cultivation of their understandings than men can have, if
you compute the whole of life:--whilst the knowledge of the learned
languages continues to form an indispensable part of a gentleman's
education, many years of childhood and youth must be devoted to their
attainment.--During these studies, the general cultivation of the
understanding is in some degree retarded. All the intellectual powers
are cramped, except the memory, which is sufficiently exercised, but
which is overloaded with words, and with words that are not always
understood.--The genius of living and of dead languages differs so much,
that the pains which are taken to write elegant Latin frequently spoil
the English style.--Girls usually write much better than boys; they
think and express their thoughts clearly at an age when young men can
scarcely write an easy letter upon any common occasion. Women do not
read the good authors of antiquity as school-books, but they can have
excellent translations of most of them when they are capable of tasting
the beauties of composition.--I know that it is supposed we cannot judge
of the classics by translations, and I am sensible that much of the
merit of the originals may be lost; but I think the difference in
pleasure is more than overbalanced to women by the _time_ that is saved,
and by the labour and misapplication of abilities which are spared. If
they do not acquire a classical taste, neither do they imbibe classic
prejudices; nor are they early disgusted with literature by pedagogues,
lexicons, grammars, and all the melancholy apparatus of learning.--Women
begin to taste the pleasures of reading, and the best authors in the
English language are their amusement, just at the age when young
men, disgusted by their studies, begin to be ashamed of alluding to
literature amongst their companions. Travelling, lounging, field sports,
gaming, and what is called pleasure in various shapes, usually fill the
interval between quitting the university and settling for life.--When
this period is past, business, the necessity of pursuing a profession,
the ambition to shine in parliament, or to rise in public life, occupy a
large portion of their lives.--In many professions the understanding is
but partially cultivated; and general literature must be neglected by
those who are occupied in earning bread or amassing riches for their
family:--men of genius are often heard to complain, that in the pursuit
of a profession, they are obliged to contract their inquiries and
concentrate their powers; statesmen lament that they must often pursue
the _expedient_ even when they discern that it is not _the right_; and
men of letters, who earn their bread by their writings, inveigh bitterly
against the tyranny of booksellers, who degrade them to the state of
"literary artisans."--"Literary artisans," is the comprehensive term
under which a celebrated philosopher [1] classes all those who cultivate
only particular talents or powers of the mind, and who suffer their
other faculties to lose all strength and vigour for want of exercise.
The other sex have no such constraint upon their understandings; neither
the necessity of earning their bread, nor the ambition to shine in
public affairs, hurry or prejudice their minds: in domestic life they
have leisure to be wise.

[Footnote 1: Professor Dugald Stewart--History of the Philosophy of the
Human Mind.]

Far from being ashamed that so little has been done by female abilities
in science and useful literature, I am surprised that so much has been
effected. On natural history, on criticism, on moral philosophy, on
education, they have written with elegance, eloquence, precision, and
ingenuity. Your complaint that women do not turn their attention to
useful literature is surely ill-timed. If they merely increased the
number of books in circulation, you might declaim against them
with success; but when they add to the general fund of useful and
entertaining knowledge, you cannot with any show of justice prohibit
their labours: there can be no danger that the market should ever be
overstocked with produce of intrinsic worth.

The despotic monarchs of Spain forbid the exploring of any new gold or
silver mines without the express permission of government, and they
have ordered several rich ones to be shut up as not equal to the cost
of working. There is some _appearance_ of reason for this exertion
of power: it may prevent the world from being encumbered by nominal
wealth.--But the Dutch merchants, who burn whole cargoes of spice lest
they should lower the price of the commodity in which they deal, show a
mean spirit of monopoly which can plead no plausible excuse.--I hope you
feel nothing like a disposition to Spanish despotism or Dutch jealousy,
when you would exclude female talents from the literary market.

You observe, that since censure is a tax which every man must pay who
aspires to eminence, women must expect to pay it doubly. Why the tax
should not be equally assessed, I am at a loss to conjecture: but in
fact it does not fall very heavy upon those who have any portion of
philosophy: they may, with _the poet of reason_, exclaim--

  "Though doubly tax'd, how little have I lost!"

Your dread of the envy attendant upon literary excellence might with
equal justice be extended to every species of merit, and might be urged
against all that is good in art or nature.--Scandal is said to attack
always the fairest characters, as the birds always peck most at the
ripest fruit; but would you for this reason have no fruit ripen, or no
characters aspire to excellence? But if it be your opinion that women
are naturally inferior to us in capacity, why do you feel so much
apprehension of their becoming eminent, or of their obtaining power,
in consequence of the cultivation of their understandings?--These
expressions of scorn and jealousy neutralize each other. If your
contempt were unmixed and genuine, it would be cool and tranquil,
inclining rather to pity than to anger.

You say that in all animals the female is the inferior; and you have
never seen any reason to believe that the human species affords an
exception to this observation.--Superiority amongst brutes depends upon
force; superiority amongst the human species depends upon reason: that
men are naturally stronger than women is evident; but strength of mind
has no necessary connexion with strength of body; and intellectual
ability has ever conquered mere physical force, from the times of Ajax
and Ulysses to the present day. In civilized nations, that species of
superiority which belongs to force is much reduced in value amongst the
higher classes of society.--The baron who struck his sword into an oak,
and defied any one to pull out the weapon, would not in these days fill
the hearts of his antagonists with terror; nor would the twisting of a
horse-shoe be deemed a feat worthy to decide a nation in their choice of
a king.--The days of chivalry are no more: the knight no longer sallies
forth in ponderous armour, mounted upon "a steed as invulnerable as
himself[1]."--The damsel no longer depends upon the prowess of his
mighty arm to maintain the glory of her charms, or the purity of her
fame; grim barons, and castles guarded by monsters and all-devouring
dragons, are no more; and from being the champions and masters of the
fair sex, we are now become their friends and companions. We have not
surely been losers by this change; the fading glories of romance have
vanished, but the real permanent pleasures of domestic life remain in
their stead; and what the fair have lost of adulation they have gained
in friendship.

[Footnote 1: Condorcet.--History of the Progress of the Human Mind.]

Do not, my dear sir, call me a champion for the rights of woman; I am
too much their friend to be their partisan, and I am more anxious for
their happiness than intent upon a metaphysical discussion of their
rights: their happiness is so nearly connected with ours, that it
seems to me absurd to manage any argument so as to set the two sexes
at variance by vain contention for superiority. It ought not to be our
object to make an invidious division of privileges, or an ostentatious
declaration of rights, but to determine what is most for our general
advantage.

You fear that the minds of women should be enlarged and cultivated, lest
their power in society and their liberty should consequently increase.
Observe that the word _liberty_, applied to the female sex, conveys
alarming ideas to our minds, because we do not stay to define the term;
we have a confused notion that it implies want of reserve, want of
delicacy; boldness of manners, or of conduct; in short, liberty to do
wrong.--Surely this is a species of liberty which knowledge can never
make desirable. Those who understand the real interests of society, who
clearly see the connexion between virtue and happiness, must know
that _the liberty to do wrong_ is synonymous with _the liberty to make
themselves miserable_. This is a privilege of which none would choose
to avail themselves. When reason defines the term, there is no danger
of its being misunderstood; but imagination and false associations often
make this word liberty, in its perverted sense, sound delightful to
those who have been kept in ignorance and slavery. Girls who have been
disciplined under the strict high hand of authority, are apt to fancy
that to escape from habitual restraint, to exercise their own will, no
matter how, is to be free and to be happy.--Hence innumerable errors
in their conduct; hence their mistaken notions of liberty, and that
inordinate ambition to acquire power, which ignorant, ill-educated women
show in every petty struggle, where they are permitted to act in private
life. You believe this temper to be inherent in the sex; and a man, who
has just published a book upon the Spanish bull-fights, declares his
belief, that the passion for bull-fighting is innate in the breast of
every Spaniard.--Do not, my friend, assign two causes for an effect
where one is obviously adequate. The disposition to love command need
not be attributed to any innate cause in the minds of females, whilst it
may be fairly ascribed to their erroneous education.

I shall early cultivate my daughter's judgment, to prevent her from
being wilful or positive; I shall leave her to choose for herself in all
those trifles upon which the happiness of childhood depends; and I shall
gradually teach her to reflect upon the consequences of her actions, to
compare and judge of her feelings, and to compute the morn and evening
to her day.--I shall thus, I hope, induce her to reason upon all
subjects, even upon matters of taste, where many women think it
sufficient to say, I admire; or, I detest:--Oh, charming! or, Oh,
horrible!--People who have reasons for their preferences and aversions,
are never so provokingly zealous in the support of their own tastes, as
those usually are who have no arguments to convince themselves or others
that they are in the right.

But you are apprehensive that the desire to govern, which women show in
domestic life, should obtain a larger field to display itself in public
affairs.--It seems to me impossible that they can ever acquire the
species of direct power which you dread: their influence must be
private; it is therefore of the utmost consequence that it should
be judicious.--It was not Themistocles, but his wife and child, who
governed the Athenians; it was therefore of some consequence that the
boy who governed the mother, who governed her husband, should not be a
spoiled child; and consequently that the mother who educated this child
should be a reasonable woman. Thus are human affairs chained together;
and female influence is a necessary and important link, which you cannot
break without destroying the whole.

If it be your object, my dear sir, to monopolize power for our sex, you
cannot possibly secure it better from the wishes of the other, than by
enlightening their minds and enlarging their views: they will then be
convinced, not by the voice of the moralist, who puts us to sleep whilst
he persuades us of the vanity of all sublunary enjoyments, but by their
own awakened observation: they will be convinced that power is generally
an evil to its possessor; that to those who really wish for the good
of their fellow-creatures, it is at best but a painful trust.--The mad
philosopher in Rasselas, who imagined that he regulated the weather and
distributed the seasons, could never enjoy a moment's repose, lest he
should not make "to the different nations of the earth an impartial
dividend of rain and sunshine."--Those who are entrusted with the
government of nations must, if they have an acute sense of justice,
experience something like the anxiety felt by this unfortunate monarch
of the clouds.

Lord Kenyon has lately decided that a woman may _be an overseer of a
parish_; but you are not, I suppose, apprehensive that many ladies of
cultivated understanding should become ambitious of this honour.--One
step farther in reasoning, and a woman would desire as little to be a
queen or an empress, as to be the overseer of a parish.--You may perhaps
reply, that men, even those of the greatest understanding, have been
ambitious, and fond even to excess of power. That ambition is the
glorious fault of heroes, I allow; but heroes are not always men of
the most enlarged understandings--they are possessed by the spirit
of military adventure--an infectious spirit, which men catch from one
another in the course of their education:--to this contagion the fair
sex are not exposed.

At all events, if you suppose that women are likely to acquire influence
in the state, it is prudent to enlighten their understandings, that they
may not make an absurd or pernicious use of their power. You appeal to
history, to prove that great calamities have ensued whenever the
female sex has obtained power; yet you acknowledge that we cannot with
certainty determine whether these evils have been the effects of our
trusting them with liberty, or of our neglecting previously to instruct
them in the use of it:--upon the decision of this question rests your
whole argument. In a most awful tone of declamation, you bid me follow
the history of female nature, from the court of Augustus to that of
Lewis XIVth, and tell you whether I can hesitate to acknowledge, that
the liberty and influence of women have always been the greatest during
the decline of empires.--But you have not proved to me that women
had more knowledge, that they were better educated, at the court of
Augustus, or during the reign of Lewis XIVth, than at any other place,
or during any other period of the world; therefore your argument gains
nothing by the admission of your assertions; and unless I could trace
the history of female education, it is vain for me to follow what you
call the history of female nature.

It is, however, remarkable, that the means by which the sex have
hitherto obtained that species of power which they have abused,
have arisen chiefly from their personal, and not from their mental
qualifications; from their skill in the arts of persuasion, and from
their accomplishments; not from their superior powers of reasoning, or
from the cultivation of their understanding. The most refined species
of coquetry can undoubtedly be practised in the highest perfection
by women, who to personal graces unite all the fascination of wit and
eloquence. There is infinite danger in permitting such women to obtain
power without having acquired habits of reasoning. Rousseau admires
these sirens; but the system of Rousseau, pursued to its fullest extent,
would overturn the world, would make every woman a Cleopatra, and
every man an Antony; it would destroy all domestic virtue, all domestic
happiness, all the pleasures of truth and love.--In the midst of that
delirium of passion to which Antony gave the name of love, what must
have been the state of his degraded, wretched soul, when he could
suspect his mistress of designs upon his life?--To cure him of these
suspicions, she at a banquet poisoned the flowers of his garland, waited
till she saw him inflamed with wine, then persuaded him to break the
tops of his flowers into his goblet, and just stopped him when the cup
was at his lips, exclaiming--"Those flowers are poisoned: you see that I
do not want the means of destroying you, if you were become tiresome
to me, or if I could live without you."--And this is the happy pair who
instituted the orders of _The inimitable lovers_!--and _The companions
in death_![1]

[Footnote 1: Vide Plutarch.]

These are the circumstances which should early be pointed out, to
both sexes, with all the energy of truth: let them learn that the most
exquisite arts of the most consummate coquette, could not obtain the
confidence of him, who sacrificed to her charms, the empire of the
world. It is from the experience of the past that we must form our
judgment of the future. How unjustly you accuse me of desiring to
destroy the memory of past experiments, the wisdom collected by the
labour of ages! _You_ would prohibit this treasure of knowledge to
one-half of the human species; and _I_ on the contrary would lay it
open to all my fellow-creatures.--I speak as if it were actually in our
option to retard or to accelerate the intellectual progress of the sex;
but in fact it is absolutely out of our power to drive the fair sex
back to their former state of darkness: the art of printing has totally
changed their situation; their eyes are opened,--the classic page is
unrolled, they _will_ read:--all we can do is to induce them to read
with judgment--to enlarge their minds so that they may take a full view
of their interests and of ours. I have no fear that the truth upon any
subject should injure my daughter's mind; it is falsehood that I
dread. I dread that she should acquire preposterous notions of love,
of happiness, from the furtive perusal of vulgar novels, or from the
clandestine conversation of ignorant waiting-maids:--I dread that she
should acquire, even from the enchanting eloquence of Rousseau, the
fatal idea, that cunning and address are the natural resources of
her sex; that coquetry is necessary to attract, and dissimulation to
preserve the heart of man.--I would not, however, proscribe an author,
because I believe some of his opinions to be false; I would have my
daughter read and compare various books, and correct her judgment
of books by listening to the conversation of persons of sense and
experience. Women may learn much of what is essential to their
happiness, from the unprejudiced testimony of a father or a brother;
they may learn to distinguish the pictures of real life from paintings
of imaginary manners and passions which never had, which never can have,
any existence.--They may learn that it is not the reserve of hypocrisy,
the affected demeanour either of a prude or a coquette, that we admire;
but it is the simple, graceful, natural modesty of a woman, whose mind
is innocent. With this belief impressed upon her heart, do you think, my
dear friend, that she who can reflect and reason would take the means
to disgust where she wishes to please? or that she would incur contempt,
when she knows how to secure esteem?--Do you think that she will employ
artifice to entangle some heedless heart, when she knows that every
heart which can be so won is not worth the winning?--She will not
look upon our sex either as dupes or tyrants; she will be aware of the
important difference between evanescent passion, and that affection
founded upon mutual esteem, which forms the permanent happiness of life.

I am not apprehensive, my dear sir, that Cupid should be scared by
the helmet of Minerva; he has conquered his idle, fears, and has been
familiarized to Minerva and the Muses;

 "And now of power his darts are found,
  Twice ten thousand times to wound[1]."

[Footnote 1: See the introduction of Cupid to the Muses and
Minerva, in a charming poem of Mrs. Barbauld's--"_The origin of
song-writing_.'"--Would it not afford a beautiful subject for a
picture?]

That the power of beauty over the human heart is infinitely increased by
the associated ideas of virtue and intellectual excellence has been long
acknowledged.--A set of features, however regular, inspire but little
admiration or enthusiasm, unless they be irradiated by that sunshine of
the soul which creates beauty. The expression of intelligent benevolence
renders even homely features and cheeks of sorry grain[1] agreeable; and
it has been observed, that the most lasting attachments have not always
been excited by the most beautiful of the sex. As men have become more
cultivated, they have attended more to the expression of amiable and
estimable qualities in the female countenance; and in all probability
the taste for this species of beauty will increase amongst the good
and wise. When agreeable qualities are connected with the view of any
particular form, we learn to love that form, though it may have no other
merit. Women who have no pretensions to Grecian beauty may, if their
countenances are expressive of good temper and good sense, have some
chance of pleasing men of cultivated minds.--In an excellent Review[2]
of Gillier's Essays on the Causes of the Perfection of Antique
Sculpture, which I have just seen, it is observed, that our exclusive
admiration of the physiognomy of the Greeks arises from prejudice, since
the Grecian countenance cannot be necessarily associated with any of the
perfections which now distinguish accomplished or excellent men. This
remark in a popular periodical work shows that the public mind is not
bigoted in matters of taste, and that the standard is no longer supposed
to be fixed by the voice of ancient authority. The changes that are
made in the opinions of our sex as to female beauty, according to
the different situations in which women are placed, and the different
qualities on which we fix the idea of their excellence, are curious and
striking. Ask a northern Indian, says a traveller who has lately visited
them, ask a northern Indian what is beauty? and he will answer, a broad
flat face, small eyes, high cheek bones, three or four broad black lines
across each cheek, a low forehead, a large broad chin, a clumsy hook
nose, &c. These beauties are greatly heightened, or at least rendered
more valuable, when the possessor is capable of dressing all kinds of
skins, converting them into the different parts of their clothing,
and able to carry eight or ten stone in summer, or haul a much greater
weight in winter.--Prince Matanabbee, adds this author, prided himself
much upon the height and strength of his wives, and would frequently
say, few women could carry or haul heavier loads. If, some years ago,
you had asked a Frenchman what he meant by beauty, he would have talked
to you of _l'air piquant, l'air spirituel, l'air noble, l'air comme il
faut_, and he would have referred ultimately to that _je ne sçais quoi_,
for which Parisian belles were formerly celebrated.--French women mixed
much in company, the charms of what they called _esprit_ were admired
in conversation, and the _petit minois_ denoting lively wit and coquetry
became fashionable in France, whilst gallantry and a taste for the
pleasures of _society_ prevailed. The countenance expressive of sober
sense and modest reserve continues to be the taste of the English, who
wisely prefer the pleasures of domestic life.--Domestic life should,
however, be enlivened and embellished with all the wit and vivacity and
politeness for which French women were once admired, without admitting
any of their vices or follies. The more men of literature and polished
manners desire to spend their time in their own families, the more they
must wish that their wives and daughters may have tastes and habits
similar to their own. If they can meet with conversation suited to their
taste at home, they will not be driven to clubs for companions; they
will invite the men of wit and science of their acquaintance to their
own houses, instead of appointing some place of meeting from which
ladies are to be excluded. This mixture of the talents and knowledge
of both sexes must be advantageous to the interests of society, by
increasing domestic happiness.--Private _virtues_ are public benefits:
if each bee were content in his cell, there could be no grumbling hive;
and if each cell were complete, the whole fabric must be perfect.

[Footnote 1: Milton.] [Footnote 2: Appendix to Monthly Review, from
January 1798, page 516.]

When you asserted, my dear sir, that learned men usually prefer for
their wives, women rather below than above the standard of mental
mediocrity, you forgot many instances strongly in contradiction of this
opinion.--Since I began this letter, I met with the following pathetic
passage, which I cannot forbear transcribing:

"The greatest part of the observations contained in the foregoing pages
were derived from a lady, who is now beyond the reach of being affected
by any thing in this sublunary world. Her beneficence of disposition
induced her never to overlook any fact or circumstance that fell within
the sphere of her observation, which promised to be in any respect
beneficial to her fellow-creatures. To her gentle influence the public
are indebted, if they be indeed indebted at all, for whatever useful
hints may at any time have dropped from my pen. A being, she thought,
who must depend so much as man does on the assistance of others, owes,
as a debt to his fellow-creatures, the communication of the little
useful knowledge that chance may have thrown in his way. Such has been
my constant aim; such were the views of the wife of my bosom, the friend
of my heart, who supported and assisted me in all my pursuits.--I now
feel a melancholy satisfaction in contemplating those objects she once
delighted to elucidate."[1]

[Footnote 1: J. Anderson--Essay on the Management of a Dairy]

Dr. Gregory, Haller, and Lord Lyttleton, have, in the language of
affection, poetry, and truth, described the pleasures which men of
science and literature enjoy in an union with women who can sympathize
in all their thoughts and feelings, who can converse with them as
equals, and live with them as friends; who can assist them in the
important and delightful duty of educating their children; who can make
their family their most agreeable society, and their home the attractive
centre of happiness.

Can women of uncultivated understandings make such wives or such
mothers?



LETTERS

OF

JULIA AND CAROLINE.


  No penance can absolve their guilty fame,
  Nor tears, that wash out guilt, can wash out shame.

  PRIOR.


LETTER I.

JULIA TO CAROLINE.


In vain, dear Caroline, you urge me to _think_; I profess only to
_feel_.

"_Reflect upon my own feelings!_ Analyze my notions of happiness!
explain to you my system!"--My system! But I have no system: that is the
very difference between us. My notions of happiness cannot be resolved
into simple, fixed principles. Nor dare I even attempt to analyze them;
the subtle essence would escape in the process: just punishment to the
alchymist in morality!

You, Caroline, are of a more sedate, contemplative character. Philosophy
becomes the rigid mistress of your life, enchanting enthusiasm the
companion of mine. Suppose she lead me now and then in pursuit of a
meteor; am not I happy in the chase? When one illusion vanishes, another
shall appear, and, still leading me forward towards an horizon that
retreats as I advance, the happy prospect of futurity shall vanish only
with my existence.

"Reflect upon my feelings!"--Dear Caroline, is it not enough that I
do feel?--All that I dread is that _apathy_ which philosophers call
tranquillity. You tell me that by continually _indulging_, I shall
weaken my natural sensibility;--are not all the faculties of the soul
improved, refined by exercise? and why shall _this_ be excepted from the
general law?

But I must not, you tell me, indulge my taste for romance and poetry,
lest I waste that sympathy on _fiction_ which _reality_ so much better
deserves. My dear friend, let us cherish the precious propensity to
pity! no matter what the object; sympathy with fiction or reality arises
from the same disposition.

When the sigh of compassion rises in my bosom, when the spontaneous tear
starts from my eye, what frigid moralist shall "stop the genial current
of the soul?" shall say to the tide of passion, _So far shall thou
go, and no farther?_--Shall man presume to circumscribe that which
Providence has left unbounded?

But oh, Caroline! if our feelings as well as our days are numbered;
if, by the immutable law of nature, apathy be the sleep of passion, and
languor the necessary consequence of exertion; if indeed the pleasures
of life are so ill proportioned to its duration, oh, may that duration
be shortened to me!--Kind Heaven, let not my soul die before my body!

Yes, if at this instant my guardian genius were to appear before me, and
offering me the choice of my future destiny; on the one hand, the even
temper, the poised judgment, the stoical serenity of philosophy; on the
other, the eager genius, the exquisite sensibility of enthusiasm: if the
genius said to me, "Choose"--the lot of the one is great pleasure, and
great pain--great virtues, and great defects--ardent hope, and severe
disappointment--ecstasy, and despair:--the lot of the other is calm
happiness unmixed with violent grief--virtue without heroism--respect
without admiration--and a length of life, in which to every moment is
allotted its proper portion of felicity:--Gracious genius! I should
exclaim, if half my existence must be the sacrifice, take it;
_enthusiasm is my choice_.

Such, my dear friend, would be my choice were I a man; as a woman, how
much more readily should I determine!

What has woman to do with philosophy? The graces flourish not under her
empire: a woman's part in life is to please, and Providence has assigned
to her _success_, all the pride and pleasure of her being.

Then leave us our weakness, leave us our follies; they are our best
arms:--

 "Leave us to trifle with more grace and ease,
  Whom folly pleases and whose follies please"

The moment grave sense and solid merit appear, adieu the bewitching
caprice, the "_lively nonsense_," the exquisite, yet childish
susceptibility which charms, interests, captivates.--Believe me, our
_amiable defects_ win more than our noblest virtues. Love requires
sympathy, and sympathy is seldom connected with a sense of superiority.
I envy none their "_painful pre-eminence_." Alas! whether it be
deformity or excellence which makes us say with Richard the Third,

  "I am myself alone!"

it comes to much the same thing. Then let us, Caroline, content
ourselves to gain in love, what we lose in esteem.

Man is to be held only by the _slightest_ chains; with the idea that he
can break them at pleasure, he submits to them in sport; but his pride
revolts against the power to which his _reason_ tells him he ought to
submit. What then can woman gain by reason? Can she prove by argument
that she is amiable? or demonstrate that she is an angel?

Vain was the industry of the artist, who, to produce the image of
perfect beauty, selected from the fairest faces their most faultless
features. Equally vain must be the efforts of the philosopher, who would
excite the idea of mental perfection, by combining an assemblage of
party-coloured virtues.

Such, I had almost said, is my _system_, but I mean my _sentiments_. I
am not accurate enough to compose a _system_. After all, how vain are
systems, and theories, and reasonings!

We may _declaim_, but what do we really know? All is uncertainty--human
prudence does nothing--fortune every thing: I leave every thing
therefore to fortune; _you_ leave nothing. Such is the difference
between us,--and which shall be the happiest, time alone can decide.
Farewell, dear Caroline; I love you better than I thought I could love a
philosopher.

Your ever affectionate

JULIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER II.

CAROLINE'S ANSWER TO JULIA.


At the hazard of ceasing to be "_charming_," "_interesting_,"
"_captivating_," I must, dear Julia, venture to reason with you,
to examine your favourite doctrine of "_amiable defects_," and, if
possible, to dissipate that unjust dread of perfection which you seem to
have continually before your eyes.

It is the sole object of a woman's life, you say, to _please_. Her
amiable defects _please_ more than her noblest virtues, her follies more
than her wisdom, her caprice more than her temper, and _something_, a
nameless something, which no art can imitate and no science can teach,
more than all.

_Art_, you say, spoils the graces, and corrupts the heart of woman;
and at best can produce only a cold model of perfection; which though
perhaps strictly conformable to _rule_, can never touch the soul, or
please the unprejudiced taste, like one simple stroke of genuine nature.

I have often observed, dear Julia, that an inaccurate use of words
produces such a strange confusion in all reasoning, that in the heat of
debate, the combatants, unable to distinguish their friends from their
foes, fall promiscuously on both. A skilful disputant knows well how to
take advantage of this confusion, and sometimes endeavours to create it.
I do not know whether I am to suspect you of such a design; but I must
guard against it.

You have with great address availed yourself of the _two_ ideas
connected with the word _art_: first, as opposed to simplicity, it
implies artifice; and next, as opposed to ignorance, it comprehends
all the improvements of science, which leading us to search for general
causes, rewards us with a dominion over their dependent effects:--that
which instructs how to pursue the objects which we may have in view
with the greatest probability of success. All men who act from general
principles are so far philosophers. Their objects may be, when attained,
insufficient to their happiness, or they may not previously have known
all the necessary means to obtain them: but they must not therefore
complain, if they do not meet with success which they have no reason to
expect.

Parrhasius, in collecting the most admired excellences from various
models, to produce perfection, concluded, from general principles
that mankind would be pleased again with what had once excited their
admiration.--So far he was a philosopher: but he was disappointed of
success:--yes, for he was ignorant of the cause necessary to produce it.
The separate features might be perfect, but they were unsuited to
each other, and in their forced union he could not give to the whole
countenance symmetry and an appropriate expression.

There was, as you say, a _something_ wanting, which his science had
not taught him. He should then have set himself to examine what that
_something_ was, and how it was to be obtained. His want of success
arose from the _insufficiency_, not the _fallacy_, of theory. Your
object, dear Julia, we will suppose is "to please." If general
observation and experience have taught you, that slight accomplishments
and a trivial character succeed more certainly in obtaining this end,
than higher worth and sense, you act from principle in rejecting the
one and aiming at the other. You have discovered, or think you have
discovered, the secret causes which produce the desired effect, and you
employ them. Do not call this _instinct_ or _nature_; this also, though
you scorn it, is _philosophy_.

But when you come soberly to reflect, you have a feeling in your mind,
that reason and cool judgment disapprove of the part you are acting.

Let us, however, distinguish between disapprobation of the _object_, and
the means.

Averse as enthusiasm is from the retrograde motion of analysis, let me,
my dear friend, lead you one step backward.

_Why_ do you wish to please? I except at present from the question, the
desire to please, arising from a passion which requires a reciprocal
return. Confined as _this_ wish must be in a woman's heart to one object
alone, when you say, Julia, _that the admiration of others_ will be
absolutely necessary to your happiness, I must suppose you mean to
express only a _general_ desire to please?

Then under this limitation--let me ask you again, why do you wish to
please?

Do not let a word stop you. The word _vanity_ conveys to us
a disagreeable idea. There seems something _selfish_ in the
sentiment--that all the pleasure we feel in pleasing others arises from
the gratification it affords to our own _vanity_.

We refine, and explain, and never can bring ourselves fairly to make
a confession, which we are sensible must lower us in the opinion of
others, and consequently mortify the very _vanity_ we would conceal.
So strangely then do we deceive ourselves as to deny the existence of a
motive, which at the instant prompts the denial. But let us, dear Julia,
exchange the word _vanity_ for a less odious word, self-complacency; let
us acknowledge that we wish to please, because the success raises our
self-complacency. If you ask why raising our self-approbation gives us
pleasure, I must answer, that I do not know. Yet I see and feel that
it does; I observe that the voice of numbers is capable of raising the
highest transport or the most fatal despair. The eye of man seems to
possess a fascinating power over his fellow-creatures, to raise the
blush of shame, or the glow of pride.

I look around me, and I see riches, titles, dignities, pursued with such
eagerness by thousands, only as the signs of distinction. Nay, are not
all these things sacrificed the moment they cease to be distinctions?
The moment the prize of glory is to be won by other means, do not
millions sacrifice their fortunes, their peace, their health, their
lives, for _fame_? Then amongst the highest pleasures of human beings
I must place self-approbation. With this belief, let us endeavour to
secure it in the greatest extent, and to the longest duration.

Then, Julia, the wish to please becomes only a secondary motive,
subordinate to the desire I have to secure my own self-complacency. We
will examine how far they are connected.

In reflecting upon my own mind, I observe that I am flattered by the
opinion of others, in proportion to the opinion I have previously formed
of their judgment; or I perceive that the opinion of numbers, merely
as numbers, has power to give me great pleasure or great pain. I would
unite both these pleasures if I could, but in general I cannot--they
are incompatible. The opinion of the vulgar crowd and the enlightened
individual, the applause of the highest and the lowest of mankind,
cannot be obtained by the same means.

Another question then arises,--whom shall we wish to please? We must
choose, and be decided in the choice.

You say that you are proud; I am prouder.--You will be content with
indiscriminate admiration--nothing will content me but what is _select_.
As long as I have the use of my reason--as long as my heart can feel
the delightful sense of a "well-earned praise," I will fix my eye on the
highest pitch of excellence, and steadily endeavour to attain it.

Conscious of her worth, and daring to assert it, I would have a woman
early in life know that she is capable of filling the heart of a man of
sense and merit; that she is worthy to be his companion and friend. With
all the energy of her soul, with all the powers of her understanding, I
would have a woman endeavour to please those whom she esteems and loves.

She runs a risk, you will say, of never meeting her equal. Hearts and
understandings of a superior order are seldom met with in the world;
or when met with, it may not be a particular good fortune to win
them.--True; but if ever she _wins_, she will _keep_ them; and the prize
appears to me well worth the pains and difficulty of attaining.

I, Julia, admire and feel enthusiasm; but I would have philosophy
directed to the highest objects. I dread apathy as much as you can; and
I would endeavour to prevent it, not by sacrificing half my existence,
but by enjoying the whole with moderation.

You ask, why exercise does not increase sensibility, and why sympathy
with imaginary distress will not also increase the disposition to
sympathize with what is real?--Because pity should, I think, always
be associated with the active desire to relieve. If it be suffered to
become a _passive sensation_, it is a _useless weakness_, not a virtue.
The species of reading you speak of must be hurtful, even in this
respect, to the mind, as it indulges all the luxury of woe in sympathy
with fictitious distress, without requiring the exertion which reality
demands: besides, universal experience proves to us that habit, so far
from increasing sensibility, absolutely destroys it, by familiarizing it
with objects of compassion.

Let me, my dear friend, appeal even to your own experience in the very
instance you mention. Is there any pathetic writer in the world who
could move you as much at the "twentieth reading as at the first[1]?"
Speak naturally, and at the third or fourth reading, you would probably
say, It is very pathetic, but I have read it before--I liked it better
the first time; that is to say, it _did_ touch me once--I know it
_ought_ to touch me now, but it _does not_. Beware of this! Do not let
life become _as tedious as a twice-told tale_.

Farewell, dear Julia: this is the answer of fact against eloquence,
philosophy against enthusiasm. You appeal from my understanding to my
heart--I appeal from the heart to the understanding of my judge; and ten
years hence the decision perhaps will be in my favour.

Yours sincerely,

CAROLINE.

[Footnote 1: Hume said, that Parnell's poems were as fresh at the
twentieth reading as at the first.]

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER III.

CAROLINE TO JULIA.

_On her intended marriage._


Indeed, my dear Julia, I hardly know how to venture to give you my
advice upon a subject which ought to depend so much upon your own taste
and feelings. My opinion and my wishes I could readily tell you: the
idea of seeing you united and attached to my brother is certainly the
most agreeable to me; but I am to divest myself of the partiality of a
sister, and to consider my brother and Lord V---- as equal candidates
for your preference--equal, I mean, in your regard; for you say that
"Your heart is not yet decided in its choice.--If that oracle would
declare itself in intelligible terms, you would not hesitate a moment to
obey its dictates." But, my dear Julia, is there not another, a _safer_,
I do not say a _better_ oracle, to be consulted--your reason? Whilst the
"doubtful beam still nods from side to side," you may with a steady hand
weigh your own motives, and determine what things will be essential to
your happiness, and what _price_ you will pay for them; for

 "Each pleasure has its _price_; and they who pay
  Too much of pain, but squander life away."

Do me the justice to believe that I do not quote these lines of Dryden
as being the finest poetry he ever wrote; for poets, you know, as Waller
wittily observed, never succeed so well in truth as in fiction.

Since we cannot in life expect to realize all our wishes, we must
distinguish those which claim the rank of wants. We must separate the
fanciful from the real, or at least make the one subservient to the
other.

It is of the utmost importance to you, more particularly, to take
every precaution before you decide for life, because disappointment and
restraint afterwards would be insupportable to your temper.

You have often declared to me, my dear friend, that your love of poetry,
and of all the refinements of literary and romantic pursuits, is so
intimately "interwoven in your mind, that nothing could separate them,
without destroying the whole fabric."

Your tastes, you say, are fixed; if they are so, you must be doubly
careful to ensure their gratification. If you cannot make _them_
subservient to external circumstances, you should certainly, if it be
in your power, choose a situation in which circumstances will be
subservient to them. If you are convinced that you could not adopt the
tastes of another, it will be absolutely necessary for your happiness to
live with one whose tastes are similar to your own.

The belief in that sympathy of souls, which the poets suppose declares
itself between two people at first sight, is perhaps as absurd as the
late fashionable belief in animal magnetism: but there is a sympathy
which, if it be not the foundation, may be called the cement of
affection. Two people could not, I should think, retain any lasting
affection for each other, without a mutual sympathy in taste and in
their diurnal occupations and domestic pleasures. This, you will allow,
my dear Julia, even in a fuller extent than I do. Now, my brother's
tastes, character, and habits of life, are so very different from Lord
V----'s, that I scarcely know how you can compare them; at least before
you can decide which of the two would make you the happiest in life, you
must determine what kind of life you may wish to lead; for my brother,
though he might make you very happy in domestic life, would not make
the Countess of V---- happy; nor would Lord V---- make Mrs. Percy happy.
They must be two different women, with different habits, and different
wishes; so that you must divide yourself, my dear Julia, like Araspes,
into two selves; I do not say into a bad and a good self; choose some
other epithets to distinguish them, but distinct they must be: so let
them now declare and decide their pretensions; and let the victor have
not only the honours of a triumph, but all the prerogatives of
victory. Let the subdued be subdued for life--let the victor take every
precaution which policy can dictate, to prevent the possibility of
future contests with the vanquished.

But without talking poetry to you, my dear friend, let me seriously
recommend it to you to examine your own mind carefully; and if you find
that public diversions and public admiration, dissipation, and all the
pleasures of riches and high rank, are really and truly essential to
your happiness, direct your choice accordingly. Marry Lord V----: he has
a large fortune, extensive connexions, and an exalted station; his own
taste for show and expense, his family pride, and personal vanity, will
all tend to the end you propose. Your house, table, equipages, may
be all in the highest style of magnificence. Lord V----'s easiness
of temper, and fondness for you, will readily give you that entire
ascendancy over his pleasures, which your abilities give you over his
understanding. He will not control your wishes; you may gratify them to
the utmost bounds of his fortune, and perhaps beyond those bounds; you
may have entire command at home and abroad. If these are your objects,
Julia, take them; they are in your power. But remember, you must take
them with their necessary concomitants--the restraints upon your time,
upon the choice of your friends and your company, which high life
imposes; the _ennui_ subsequent to dissipation; the mortifications
of rivalship in beauty, wit, rank, and magnificence; the trouble of
managing a large fortune, and the chance of involving your affairs and
your family in difficulty and distress; these and a thousand more evils
you must submit to. You must renounce all the pleasures of the heart and
of the imagination; you must give up the idea of cultivating literary
taste; you must not expect from your husband friendship and confidence,
or any of the delicacies of affection:--you govern him, he cannot
therefore be your equal; you may be a fond mother, but you cannot
educate your children; you will neither have the time nor the power
to do it; you must trust them to a governess. In the selection of your
friends, and in the enjoyment of their company and conversation, you
will be still more restrained: in short, you must give up the pleasures
of domestic life; for that is not in this case the life you have chosen.
But you will exclaim against me for supposing you capable of making such
a choice--such sacrifices!--I am sure, _next to my brother_, I am the
last person in the world who would wish you to make them.

You have another choice, my dear Julia: domestic life is offered to you
by one who has every wish and every power to make it agreeable to you;
by one whose tastes resemble your own; who would be a judge and a fond
admirer of all your perfections. You would have perpetual motives to
cultivate every talent, and to exert every power of pleasing for his
sake--for _his_ sake, whose penetration no improvement would escape,
and whose affection would be susceptible of every proof of yours. Am I
drawing too flattering a picture?--A sister's hand may draw a partial
likeness, but still it will be a likeness. At all events, my dear Julia,
you would be certain of the mode of life you would lead with my brother.
The regulation of your time and occupations would be your own. In
the education of your family, you would meet with no interruptions or
restraint. You would have no governess to counteract, no strangers to
intrude; you might follow your own judgment, or yield to the judgment
of one who would never require you to submit to his opinion, but to his
reasons.

All the pleasures of friendship you would enjoy in your own family in
the highest perfection, and you would have for your sister the friend of
your infancy,

CAROLINE.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER IV.

CAROLINE TO LADY V----.

_Upon her intended separation from her husband._


You need not fear, my dear Lady V----, that I should triumph in the
accomplishment of my prophecies; or that I should reproach you for
having preferred your own opinion to my advice. Believe me, my dear
Julia, I am your friend, nor would the name of sister have increased my
friendship.

Five years have made then so great a change in your feelings and views
of life, that a few days ago, when my letter to you on your marriage
accidentally fell into your hands, "_you were struck with a species of
astonishment at your choice, and you burst into tears in an agony of
despair, on reading the wretched doom foretold to the wife of Lord
V----. A doom,_" you add, "_which I feel hourly accomplishing, and which
I see no possibility of averting, but by a separation from a husband,
with whom, I now think, it was madness to unite myself._" Your opinion
I must already know upon this subject, "_as the same arguments which
should have prevented me from making such a choice, ought now to
determine me to abjure it._"

You say, dear Julia, that my letter struck you with despair.--Despair
is either madness or folly; it obtains, it deserves nothing from mankind
but pity; and pity, though it be akin to love, has yet a secret affinity
to contempt. In strong minds, despair is an acute disease; the prelude
to great exertion. In weak minds, it is a chronic distemper, followed
by incurable indolence. Let the crisis be favourable, and resume your
wonted energy. Instead of suffering the imagination to dwell with
unavailing sorrow on the past, let us turn our attention towards the
future. When an evil is irremediable, let us acknowledge it to be such,
and bear it:--there is no power to which we submit so certainly as
to necessity. With our hopes, our wishes cease. Imagination has a
contracting, as well as an expansive faculty. The prisoner, who,
deprived of all that we conceive to constitute the pleasures of life,
could interest or occupy himself with the labours of a spider, was
certainly a philosopher. He enjoyed all the means of happiness that were
left in his power.

I know, my dear Lady V----, that words have little effect over grief;
and I do not, I assure you, mean to insult you with the parade of stoic
philosophy. But consider, your error is not perhaps so great as you
imagine. Certainly, they who at the beginning of life can with a steady
eye look through the long perspective of distant years, who can in one
view comprise all the different objects of happiness and misery, who
can compare accurately, and justly estimate their respective degrees of
importance; and who, after having formed such a calculation, are capable
of acting uniformly, in consequence of their own conviction, are
the _wisest_, and, as far as prudence can influence our fortune, the
_happiest_ of human beings. Next to this favoured class are those who
can perceive and repair their own errors; who can stop at any given
period to take a new view of life. If unfortunate circumstances have
denied you a place in the first rank, you may, dear Julia, secure
yourself a station in the second. Is not the conduct of a woman, after
her marriage, of infinitely more importance than her previous choice,
whatever it may have been? Then now consider what yours should be.

You say that it is easier to _break_ a chain than to _stretch_ it; but
remember that when broken, your part of the chain, Julia, will still
remain with you, and fetter and disgrace you through life. Why should a
woman be so circumspect in her choice? Is it not because when once made
she must abide by it? "She sets her life upon the cast, and she must
stand the hazard of the die." From domestic uneasiness a man has a
thousand resources: in middling life, the tavern, in high life, the
gaming-table, suspends the anxiety of thought. Dissipation, ambition,
business, the occupation of a profession, change of place, change
of company, afford him agreeable and honourable relief from domestic
chagrin. If his home become tiresome, he leaves it; if his wife become
disagreeable to him, he leaves her, and in leaving her loses _only_ a
wife. But what resource has a woman?--Precluded from all the occupations
common to the other sex, she loses even those peculiar to her own. She
has no remedy, from the company of a man she dislikes, but a separation;
and this remedy, desperate as it is, is allowed only to a certain class
of women in society; to those whose fortune affords them the means
of subsistence, and whose friends have secured to them a separate
maintenance. A peeress then, probably, can leave her husband if she
wish it; a peasant's wife cannot; she depends upon the character and
privileges of a wife for actual subsistence. Her domestic care, if not
her affection, is secured to her husband; and it is just that it should.
He sacrifices his liberty, his labour, his ingenuity, his time, for the
support and protection of his wife; and in proportion to his protection
is his power.

In higher life, where the sacrifices of both parties in the original
union are more equal, the evils of a separation are more nearly
balanced. But even here, the wife who has hazarded least, suffers the
most by the dissolution of the partnership; she loses a great part of
her fortune, and of the conveniences and luxuries of life. She loses
her home, her rank in society. She loses both the repellant and the
attractive power of a mistress of a family. "Her occupation is gone."
She becomes a wanderer. Whilst her youth and beauty last, she may enjoy
that species of delirium, caused by public admiration; fortunate if
habit does not destroy the power of this charm, before the season of
its duration expire. It was said to be the wish of a celebrated modern
beauty, "that she might not survive her nine-and-twentieth birth-day."
I have often heard this wish quoted for its extravagance; but I always
admired it for its good sense. The lady foresaw the inevitable doom of
her declining years. Her apprehensions for the future embittered even
her enjoyment of the present; and she had resolution enough to offer to
take "a bond of fate," to sacrifice one-half of her life, to secure the
pleasure of the other.

But, dear Lady V----, probably this wish was made at some distance
from the destined period of its accomplishment. On the eve of her
nine-and-twentieth birth-day, the lady perhaps might have felt inclined
to retract her prayer. At least we should provide for the cowardice
which might seize the female mind at such an instant. Even the most
wretched life has power to attach us; none can be more wretched than
the old age of a dissipated beauty:--unless, Lady V----, it be that of
a woman, who, to all her evils has the addition of remorse, for having
abjured her duties and abandoned her family. Such is the situation of
a woman who separates from her husband. Reduced to go the same insipid
round of public amusements, yet more restrained than an unmarried beauty
in youth, yet more miserable in age, the superiority of her genius and
the sensibility of her heart become her greatest evils. She, indeed,
must pray for indifference. Avoided by all her family connexions, hated
and despised where she might have been loved and respected, solitary
in the midst of society, she feels herself deserted at the time of life
when she most wants social comfort and assistance.

Dear Julia, whilst it is yet in your power secure to yourself a happier
fate; retire to the bosom of your own family; prepare for yourself a new
society; perform the duties, and you shall soon enjoy the pleasures of
domestic life; educate your children; whilst they are young, it shall
be your occupation; as they grow up, it shall be your glory. Let me
anticipate your future success, when they shall appear such as you can
make them; when the world shall ask "who educated these amiable young
women? Who formed their character? Who cultivated the talents of this
promising young man? Why does this whole family live together in such
perfect union?" With one voice, dear Julia, your children shall name
their mother; she who in the bloom of youth checked herself in the
career of dissipation, and turned all the ability and energy of her mind
to their education.

Such will be your future fame. In the mean time, before you have formed
for yourself companions in your own family, you will want a society
suited to your taste. "Disgusted as you have been with frivolous
company, you say that you wish to draw around you a society of literary
and estimable friends, whose conversation and talents shall delight
you, and who at the same time that they are excited to display their own
abilities, shall be a judge of yours."

But, dear Lady V----, the possibility of your forming such a society
must depend on your having a home to receive, a character and
consequence in life to invite and attach friends. The opinion of numbers
is necessary to excite the ambition of individuals. To be a female
Mecaenas you must have power to confer favours, as well as judgment to
discern merit.

What castles in the air are built by the synthetic wand of imagination,
which vanish when exposed to the analysis of reason!

Then, Julia, supposing that Lord V----, as your husband, becomes a
negative quantity as to your happiness, yet he will acquire another
species of value as the master of your family and the father of your
children; as a person who supports your public consequence, and your
private self-complacency. Yes, dear Lady V----, he will increase your
self-complacency; for do you not think, that when your husband sees
his children prosper under your care, his family united under your
management--whilst he feels your merit at home, and hears your praises
abroad, do you not think he will himself learn to respect and love you?
You say that "_he is not a judge of female excellence; that he has no
real taste; that vanity is his ruling passion_." Then if his judgment be
dependent on the opinions of others, he will be the more easily led by
the public voice, and you will command the suffrages of the public. If
he has not taste enough to approve, he will have vanity enough to be
proud of you; and a vain man insensibly begins to love that of which
he is proud. Why does Lord V---- love his buildings, his paintings, his
equipages? It is not for their intrinsic value; but because they are
means of distinction to him. Let his wife become a greater distinction
to him, and on the same principles he will prefer her. Set an example,
then, dear Lady V----, of domestic virtue; your talents shall make it
admired, your rank shall make it conspicuous. You are ambitious, Julia,
you love praise; you have been used to it; you cannot live happily
without it.

Praise is a mental luxury, which becomes from habit absolutely necessary
to our existence; and in purchasing it we must pay the price set upon
it by society. The more curious, the more avaricious we become of this
"aerial coin," the more it is our interest to preserve its currency and
increase its value. You, my dear Julia, in particular, who have amassed
so much of it, should not cry down its price, for your own sake!--Do not
then say in a fit of disgust, that "you are grown too wise now to value
applause."

If, during youth, your appetite for applause was indiscriminate, and
indulged to excess, you are now more difficult in your choice, and are
become an _epicure_ in your _taste_ for praise.

Adieu, my dear Julia; I hope still to see you as happy in domestic life
as

Your ever affectionate and sincere friend,

CAROLINE.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER V.

CAROLINE TO LADY V----.

_On her conduct after her separation from her husband._


A delicacy, of which I now begin to repent, has of late prevented me
from writing to you. I am afraid I shall be abrupt, but it is necessary
to be explicit. Your conduct, ever since your separation from your
husband, has been anxiously watched from a variety of motives, by his
family and your own;--it has been blamed. Reflect upon your own mind,
and examine with what justice.

Last summer, when I was with you, I observed a change in your
conversation, and the whole turn of your thoughts. I perceived an
unusual impatience of restraint; a confusion in your ideas when you
began to reason,--an eloquence in your language when you began to
declaim, which convinced me that from some secret cause the powers of
your reason had been declining, and those of your imagination rapidly
increasing; the boundaries of right and wrong seemed to be no longer
marked in your mind. Neither the rational hope of happiness, nor a sense
of duty governed you; but some unknown, wayward power seemed to have
taken possession of your understanding, and to have thrown every thing
into confusion. You appeared peculiarly averse to philosophy: let me
recall your own words to you; you asked "of what use philosophy could be
to beings who had no free will, and how the ideas of just punishment and
involuntary crime could be reconciled?"

Your understanding involved itself in metaphysical absurdity. In
conversing upon literary subjects one evening, in speaking of the
striking difference between the conduct and the understanding of the
great Lord Bacon, you said, that "It by no means surprised you; that
to an enlarged mind, accustomed to consider the universe as one vast
_whole_, the conduct of that little animated atom, that inconsiderable
part _self_, must be too insignificant to fix or merit attention. It was
nothing," you said, "in the general mass of vice and virtue, happiness
and misery." I believe I answered, "that it might be _nothing_ compared
to the great _whole_, but it was _every thing_ to the individual." Such
were your opinions in theory; you must know enough of the human heart to
perceive their tendency when reduced to practice. Speculative opinions,
I know, have little influence over the practice of those who _act_ much
and think little; but I should conceive their power to be considerable
over the conduct of those who have much time for reflection and little
necessity for action. In one case the habit of action governs the
thoughts upon any sudden emergency; in the other, the thoughts govern
the actions. The truth or falsehood then of speculative opinions is of
much greater consequence to our sex than to the other; as we live a life
of reflection, they of action.

Retrace, then, dear Julia, in your mind the course of your thoughts for
some time past; discover the cause of this revolution in your opinions;
judge yourself; and remember, that in the _mind_ as well as in the body,
the highest pitch of disease is often attended with an unconsciousness
of its existence. If, then, Lady V----, upon receiving my letter, you
should feel averse to this self-examination, or if you should imagine
it to be useless, I no longer advise, I command you to quit your present
abode; come to me: fly from the danger, and be safe.

Dear Julia, I must assume this peremptory tone: if you are angry, I must
disregard your anger; it is the anger of disease, the anger of one who
is roused from that sleep which would end in death.

I respect the equality of friendship; but this equality permits, nay
requires, the temporary ascendancy I assume. In real friendship, the
judgment, the genius, the prudence of each party become the common
property of both. Even if they are equals, they may not be so _always_.
Those transient fits of passion, to which the best and wisest are
liable, may deprive even the superior of the advantage of their reason.
She then has still in her friend an _impartial_, though perhaps an
inferior judgment; each becomes the guardian of the other, as their
mutual safety may require.

Heaven seems to have granted this double chance of virtue and happiness,
as the peculiar reward of friendship.

Use it, then, my dear friend; accept the assistance you could so well
return. Obey me; I shall judge of you by your resolution at this crisis:
on it depends your fate, and my friendship.

Your sincere and affectionate CAROLINE.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER VI.

CAROLINE TO LADY V----.

_Just before she went to France_.


The time is now come, Lady V----, when I must bid you an eternal adieu.
With what deep regret, I need not, Julia, I cannot tell you.

I burned your letter the moment I had read it. Your past confidence I
never will betray; but I must renounce all future intercourse with you.
I am a sister, a wife, a mother; all these connexions forbid me to be
longer your friend. In misfortune, in sickness, or in poverty, I never
would have forsaken you; but infamy I cannot share. I would have gone,
I went, to the brink of the precipice to save you; with all my force
I held you back; but in vain. But why do I vindicate my conduct to
you now? Accustomed as I have always been to think your approbation
necessary to my happiness, I forgot that henceforward your opinion is to
be nothing to me, or mine to you.

Oh, Julia! the idea, the certainty, that you must, if you live, be in
a few years, in a few months, perhaps, reduced to absolute want, in a
foreign country--without a friend--a protector, the fate of women who
have fallen from a state as high as yours, the names of L----, of G----,
the horror I feel at joining your name to theirs, impels me to make one
more attempt to save you.

Companion of my earliest years! friend of my youth! my beloved Julia! by
the happy innocent hours we have spent together, by the love you had for
me, by the respect you bear to the memory of your mother, by the agony
with which your father will hear of the loss of his daughter, by all
that has power to touch your mind--I conjure you, I implore you to
pause!--Farewell!

CAROLINE.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER VII.

CAROLINE TO LORD V----.

_Written a few months after the date of the preceding letter._


My lord,

Though I am too sensible that all connexion between my unfortunate
friend and her family must for some time have been dissolved, I venture
now to address myself to your lordship.

On Wednesday last, about half after six o'clock in the evening, the
following note was brought to me. It had been written with such a
trembling hand that it was scarcely legible; but I knew the writing too
well.

       *       *       *       *       *

"If you ever loved me, Caroline, read this--do not tear it the moment
you see the name of Julia: she has suffered--she is humbled. I left
France with the hope of seeing you once more; but now I am so near you,
my courage fails, and my heart sinks within me. I have no friend upon
earth--I deserve none; yet I cannot help wishing to see, once more
before I die, the friend of my youth, to thank her with my last breath.

"But, dear Caroline, if I must not see you, write to me, if possible,
one line of consolation.

"Tell me, is my father living--do you know any thing of my children?--I
dare not ask for my husband. Adieu! I am so weak that I can scarcely
write--I hope I shall soon be no more. Farewell!

"JULIA."


I immediately determined to follow the bearer of this letter. Julia was
waiting for my answer at a small inn in a neighbouring village, at a
few miles' distance. It was night when I got there: every thing was
silent--all the houses were shut up, excepting one, in which we saw two
or three lights glimmering through the window--this was the inn: as your
lordship may imagine, it was a very miserable place. The mistress of the
house seemed to be touched with pity for the stranger: she opened the
door of a small room, where she said the poor lady was resting; and
retired as I entered.

Upon a low matted seat beside the fire sat Lady V----; she was in black;
her knees were crossed, and her white but emaciated arms flung on one
side over her lap; her hands were clasped together, and her eyes fixed
upon the fire: she seemed neither to hear nor see any thing round
her, but, totally absorbed in her own reflections, to have sunk into
insensibility. I dreaded to rouse her from this state of torpor; and
I believe I stood for some moments motionless: at last I moved softly
towards her--she turned her head--started up--a scarlet blush overspread
her face--she grew livid again instantly, gave a faint shriek, and sunk
senseless into my arms.

When she returned to herself, and found her head lying upon my shoulder,
and heard my voice soothing her with all the expressions of kindness I
could think of, she smiled with a look of gratitude, which I never shall
forget. Like one who had been long unused to kindness, she seemed ready
to pour forth all the fondness of her heart: but, as if recollecting
herself better, she immediately checked her feelings--withdrew her hand
from mine--thanked me--said she was quite well again--cast down her
eyes, and her manner changed from tenderness to timidity. She seemed
to think that she had lost all right to sympathy, and received even the
common offices of humanity with surprise: her high spirit, I saw, was
quite broken.

I think I never felt such sorrow as I did in contemplating Julia at
this instant: she who stood before me, sinking under the sense
of inferiority, I knew to be my equal--my superior; yet by fatal
imprudence, by one rash step, all her great, and good, and amiable
qualities were irretrievably lost to the world and to herself.

When I thought that she was a little recovered, I begged of her, if she
was not too much fatigued, to let me carry her home. At these words
she looked at me with surprise. Her eyes filled with tears; but without
making any other reply, she suffered me to draw her arm within mine, and
attempted to follow me. I did not know how feeble she was till she began
to walk; it was with the utmost difficulty I supported her to the door;
and by the assistance of the people of the house she was lifted into the
carriage: we went very slowly. When the carriage stopped she was seized
with an universal tremor; she started when the man knocked at the door,
and seemed to dread its being opened. The appearance of light and the
sound of cheerful voices struck her with horror.

I could not myself help being shocked with the contrast between the
dreadful situation of my friend, and the happiness of the family to
which I was returning.

"Oh!" said she, "what are these voices?--Whither are you taking me?--For
Heaven's sake do not let any body see me!"

I assured her that she should go directly to her own apartment, and that
no human being should approach her without her express permission.

Alas! it happened at this very moment that all my children came
running with the utmost gaiety into the hall to meet us, and the very
circumstance which I had been so anxious to prevent happened--little
Julia was amongst them. The gaiety of the children suddenly ceased the
moment they saw Lady V---- coming up the steps--they were struck with
her melancholy air and countenance: she, leaning upon my arm, with her
eyes fixed upon the ground, let me lead her in, and sunk upon the first
chair she came to. I made a sign to the children to retire; but the
moment they began to move, Lady V---- looked up--saw her daughter--and
now for the first time burst into tears The little girl did not
recollect her poor mother till she heard the sound of her voice; and
then she threw her arms round her neck, crying, "Is it you, mamma?"--and
all the children immediately crowded round and asked, "if this was the
same Lady V---- who used to play with them?"

It is impossible to describe the effect these simple questions had on
Julia: a variety of emotions seemed struggling in her countenance; she
rose and made an attempt to break from the children, but could not--she
had not strength to support herself. We carried her away and put her to
bed; she took no notice of any body, nor did she even seem to know that
I was with her: I thought she was insensible, but as I drew the curtains
I heard her give a deep sigh.

I left her, and carried away her little girl, who had followed us up
stairs and begged to stay with her mother; but I was apprehensive that
the sight of her might renew her agitation.

After I was gone, they told me that she was perfectly still, with her
eyes closed; and I stayed away some time in hopes that she might sleep:
however, about midnight she sent to beg to speak to me: she was very
ill--she beckoned to me to sit down by her bedside--every one left the
room; and when Julia saw herself alone with me, she took my hand, and in
a low but calm voice she said, "I have not many hours to live--my heart
is broken--I wished to see you, to thank you whilst it was yet in my
power." She pressed my hand to her trembling lips: "Your kindness,"
added she, "touches me more than all the rest; but how ashamed you must
be of such a friend! Oh, Caroline! to die a disgrace to all who ever
loved me!"

The tears trickled down her face, and choked her utterance: she wiped
them away hastily. "But it is not now a time," said she, "to think of
myself--can I see my daughter?" The little girl was asleep: she was
awakened, and I brought her to her mother. Julia raised herself in her
bed, and summoning up all her strength, "My dearest friend!" said she,
putting her child's hand into mine, "when I am gone, be a mother to this
child--let her know my whole history, let nothing be concealed from her.
Poor girl! you will live to blush at your mother's name." She paused and
leaned back: I was going to take the child away, but she held out her
arms again for her, and kissed her several times. "Farewell!" said she;
"I shall never see you again." The little girl burst into tears. Julia
wished to say something more--she raised herself again--at last she
uttered these words with energy:--"My love, _be good and happy_;"
she then sunk down on the pillow quite exhausted--she never spoke
afterwards: I took her hand--it was cold--her pulse scarcely beat--her
eyes rolled without meaning--in a few moments she expired.

Painful as it has been to me to recall the circumstances of her death
to my imagination, I have given your lordship this exact and detailed
account of my unfortunate friend's behaviour in her last moments.
Whatever may have been her errors, her soul never became callous from
vice. The sense of her own ill conduct, was undoubtedly the immediate
cause of her illness, and the remorse which had long preyed upon her
mind, at length brought her to the grave--

I have the honour to be, My lord, &c. CAROLINE.


_Written in 1787._ _Published in 1795._





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