EVELINA IN CONTINUATION. Clifton, October 1st.
I HAVE only time, my dearest Sir, for three words, to overtake my last letter, and prevent your expecting me immediately; for, when I communicated my intention to Mrs. Selwyn, she would not hear of it, and declared it would be highly ridiculous for me to go before I received an answer to my intelligence concerning the journey from Paris. She has, therefore, insisted upon my waiting till your next letter arrives. I hope you will not be displeased at my compliance, though it is rather against my own judgment: but Mrs. Selwyn quite overpowered me with the force of her arguments. I will, however, see very little of Lord Orville; I will never come down stairs before breakfast; give up all my walks in the garden; seat myself next to Mrs. Selwyn; and not merely avoid his conversation, but shun his presence. I will exert all the prudence and all the resolution in my power, to prevent this short delay from giving you any further uneasiness.
Adieu, my dearest Sir. I shall not now leave Clifton till I have your directions.
EVELINA IN CONTINUATION. October 2nd.
YESTERDAY, from the time I received your kind, though heart-piercing letter, I kept my room,-for I was equally unable and unwilling to see Lord Orville; but this morning, finding I seemed destined to pass a few days longer here, I endeavoured to calm my spirits, and to appear as usual; though I determined to avoid him to the utmost of my power. Indeed, as I entered the parlour, when called to breakfast, my thoughts were so much occupied with your letter, that I felt as much confusion at his sight, as if he had himself been informed of its contents.
Mrs. Beaumont made me a slight compliment upon my recovery, for I had pleaded illness to excuse keeping my room: Lady Louisa spoke not a word; but Lord Orville, little imagining himself the cause of my indisposition, enquired concerning my health with the most distinguishing politeness. I hardly made any answer; and, for the first time since I have been here, contrived to sit at some distance from him.
I could not help observing that my reserve surprised him; yet he persisted in his civilities, and seemed to wish to remove it. But I paid him very little attention; and the moment breakfast was over, instead of taking a book, or walking in the garden, I retired to my own room.
Soon after, Mrs. Selwyn came to tell me, that Lord Orville had been proposing I should take an airing, and persuading her to let him drive us both in his phaeton. She delivered the message with an archness that made me blush; and added, that an airing, in my Lord Orville's carriage, could not fail to revive my spirits. There is no possibility of escaping her discernment; she has frequently rallied me upon his Lordship's attention,-and, alas!-upon the pleasure with which I have received it! However, I absolutely refused the offer.
"Well," said she, laughing, "I cannot just now indulge you with any solicitation; for, to tell you the truth, I have business to transact at the Wells, and am glad to be excused myself. I would ask you to walk with me; -but since Lord Orville is refused, I have not the presumption to hope for success."
"Indeed," cried I, "you are mistaken; I will attend you with pleasure."
"O rare coquetry!" cried she, "surely it must be inherent in our sex, or it could not have been imbibed at Berry Hill."
I had not spirits to answer her, and therefore put on my hat and cloak in silence.
"I presume," continued she, drily, "his Lordship may walk with us."
"If so, Madam," said I, "you will have a companion, and I will stay at home."
"My dear child," cried she, "did you bring the certificate of your birth with you?"
"Dear Madam, no!"
"Why then, we shall never be known again at Berry Hill."
I felt too conscious to enjoy her pleasantry; but I believe she was determined to torment me, for she asked if she should inform Lord Orville that I desired him not to be of the party?
"By no means, Madam; but, indeed, I had rather not walk myself."
"My dear," cried she, "I really do not know you this morning,-you have certainly been taking a lesson of Lady Louisa."
She then went down stairs; but presently returning, told me she had acquainted Lord Orville that I did not choose to go out in the phaeton, but preferred a walk, tete-e-tete with her, by way of variety.
I said nothing, but was really vexed. She bad me go down stairs, and said she would follow me immediately.
Lord Orville met me in the hall. "I fear," said he, "Miss Anville is not yet quite well?" and he would have taken my hand, but I turned from him, and courtsying slightly, went into the parlour.
Mrs. Beaumont and Lady Louisa were at work: Lord Merton was talking with the latter; for he has now made his peace, and is again received into favour.
I seated myself, as usual, by the window. Lord Orville, in a few minutes, came to me, and said, "Why is Miss Anville so grave?"
"Not grave, my Lord," said I, "only stupid;" and I took up a book.
"You will go," said he, after a short pause, "to the assembly to-night?"
"No, my Lord, certainly not."
"Neither then will I; for I should be sorry to sully the remembrance
I have of the happiness I enjoyed at the last."
Mrs. Selwyn then coming in, general enquiries were made to all but me, of who would go to the assembly? Lord Orville instantly declared he had letters to write at home; but every one else settled to go.
I then hastened Mrs. Selwyn away, though not before she had said to Lord Orville, "Pray, has your Lordship obtained Miss Anville's leave to favour us with your company?"
"I have not, Madam," answered he, "had the vanity to ask it."
During our walk, Mrs. Selvyn tormented me unmercifully. She told me, that since I declined any addition to our party, I must, doubtless, be conscious of my own powers of entertainment; and begged me, therefore, to exert them freely. I repented a thousand times having consented to walk alone with her; for though I made the most painful efforts to appear in spirits, her raillery quite overpowered me.
We went first to the pump-room. It was full of company; and the moment we entered, I heard a murmuring of, "That's she!" and, to my great confusion, I saw every eye turned towards me. I pulled my hat over my face, and, by the assistance of Mrs. Selwyn, endeavoured to screen myself from observation, nevertheless, I found I was so much the object of general attention, that I entreated her to hasten away. But unfortunately she had entered into conversation, very earnestly, with a gentleman of her acquaintance, and would not listen to me; but said, that if I was tired of waiting, I might walk on to the milliner's with the Miss Watkins, two young ladies I had seen at Mrs. Beaumont's, who were going thither.
I accepted the offer very readily, and away we went. But we had not gone three yards, before we were followed by a party of young men, who took every possible opportunity of looking at us, and, as they walked behind, talked aloud, in a manner at once unintelligible and absurd. "Yes," cried one," 'tis certainly she!-mark but her blushing cheek!"
"And then her eye -her downcast eye!"-cried another.
"True, oh most true," said a third, "every beauty is her own!"
"But then," said the first, "her mind,-now the difficulty is, to find out the truth of that, for she will not say a word."
"She is timid," answered another; "mark but her timid air."
During this conversation, we walked on silent and quick; as we knew not to whom it was particularly addressed, we were all equally ashamed, and equally desirous to avoid such unaccountable observations.
Soon after we were caught in a shower of rain. We hurried on; and these gentlemen, following us, offered their services in the most pressing manner, begging us to make use of their arms; and, while I almost ran, in order to avoid their impertinence, I was suddenly met by Sir Clement Willoughby!
We both started; "Good God!" he exclaimed, "Miss Anville!" and then, regarding my tormentors with an air of displeasure, he earnestly enquired, if any thing had alarmed me?
"No, no;" cried I, for I found no difficulty now to disengage myself from these youths, who, probably, concluding from the commanding air of Sir Clement, that he had a right to protect me, quietly gave way to him, and entirely quitted us.
With his usual impetuosity, he then began a thousand enquiries, accompanied with as many compliments; and he told me, that he arrived at Bristol but this morning, which he had entirely devoted to endeavours to discover where I lodged.
"Did you know, then," said I, "that I was at Bristol?"
"Would to Heaven," cried he, "that I could remain in ignorance of your proceedings with the same contentment you do of mine! then should I not for ever journey upon the wings of Hope, to meet my own despair! You cannot even judge of the cruelty of my fate; for the ease and serenity of your mind incapacitates you from feeling for the agitation of mine!"
The ease and serenity of my mind! alas, how little do I merit those words!
"But," added he, "had accident brought me hither, had I not known of your journey, the voice of fame would have proclaimed it to me instantly upon my arrival."
"The voice of fame!" repeated I.
"Yes, for yours was the first name I heard at the pump-room. But had I not heard your name, such a description could have painted no one else."
"Indeed," said I, "I do not understand you." But just then arriving at the milliner's our conversation ended; for Miss Watkins called me to look at caps and ribbons.
Sir Clement, however, has the art of being always at home; he was very soon engaged, as busily as ourselves, in looking at lace ruffles; yet he took an opportunity of saying to me, in a low voice, "How charmed I am to see you look so well! I was told you were ill;-but I never saw you in better health,-never more infinitely lovely!"
I turned away to examine the ribbons, and soon after Mrs. Selwyn made her appearance. I found that she was acquainted with Sir Clement; and her manner of speaking to him convinced me that he was a favourite with her.
When their mutual compliments were over, she turned to me, and said,
"Pray, Miss Anville, how long can you live without nourishment?"
"Indeed, Ma'am," said I, laughing, "I have never tried."
"Because so long, and no longer," answered she, "you may remain at Bristol."
"Why, what is the matter, Ma'am?"
"The matter!-why, all the ladies are at open war with you,-the whole pump-room is in confusion; and you, innocent as you pretend to look, are the cause. However, if you take my advice, you will be very careful how you eat and drink during your stay."
I begged her to explain herself: and she then told me, that a copy of verses had been dropped in the pump-room, and read there aloud: "The beauties of the Wells," said she, "are all mentioned, but you are the Venus to whom the prize is given."
"Is it then possible," cried Sir Clement, "that you have not seen these verses?"
"I hardly know," answered I, "whether any body has."
"I assure you," said Mrs. Selwyn, "if you give me the invention of them, you do me an honour I by no means deserve."
"I wrote down in my tablets," said Sir Clement, "the stanzas which concern Miss Anville this morning at the pump-room; and I will do myself the honour of copying them for her this evening."
"But why the part that concerns Miss Anville?" said Mrs. Selwyn;
"Did you ever see her before this morning?"
"O yes," answered he, "I have had that happiness frequently at Captain Mirvan's. Too, too frequently!" added he, in a low voice, as Mrs. Selwyn turned to the milliner: and as soon as she was occupied in examining some trimmings, he came to me, and almost whether I would or not, entered into conversation with me.
"I have a thousand things," cried he, "to say to you. Pray where are you?"
"With Mrs. Selwyn, Sir."
"Indeed!-then, for once, chance is my friend. And how long have you been here?"
"About three weeks."
"Good Heaven! what an anxious search have I had, to discover your abode, since you so suddenly left town! The termagant, Madame Duval, refused me all intelligence. Oh, Miss Anville, did you know what I have endured! the sleepless, restless state of suspense I have been tortured with, you could not, all cruel as you are, you could not have received me with such frigid indifference?"
"Received you, Sir!"
"Why, is not my visit to you?" Do you think I should have made this journey, but for the happiness of again seeing you?"
"Indeed it is possible I might,-since so many others do."
"Cruel, cruel girl! you know that I adore you! you know you are the mistress of my soul, and arbitress of my fate!"
Mrs. Selwyn then advancing to us, he assumed a more disengaged air, and asked, if he should not have the pleasure of seeing her in the evening at the assembly?
"Oh, yes," cried she, "we shall certainly be there; so you may bring the verses with you, if Miss Anville can wait for them so long."
"I hope then," returned he, "that you will do me the honour to dance with me?"
I thanked him, but said I should not be at the assembly.
"Not be at the assembly?" cried Mrs. Selwyn, "Why, have you, too, letters to write?"
She looked at me with a significant archness, that made me colour; and I hastily answered, "No, indeed, Ma'am!"
"You have not!" cried she, yet more drily; "then pray, my dear, do you stay at home to help,-or to hinder others?"
"To do neither, Ma'am," answered I, in much confusion; "so, if you please, I will not stay at home."
"You allow me, then," said Sir Clement, "to hope for the honour of your hand?"
I only bowed,-for the dread of Mrs. Selwyn's raillery made me not dare refuse him.
Soon after this we walked home: Sir Clement accompanied us; and the conversation that passed between Mrs. Selwyn and him was supported in so lively a manner, that I should have been much entertained, had my mind been more at ease: but, alas! I could think of nothing but the capricious, the unmeaning appearance which the alteration in my conduct must make in the eyes of the Lord Orville! And much as I wished to avoid him, greatly as I desire to save myself from having my weakness known to him,-yet I cannot endure to incur his ill opinion,-and, unacquainted as he is with the reasons by which I am actuated, how can he fail contemning a change to him so unaccountable?
As we entered the garden, he was the first object we saw. He advanced to meet us; and I could not help observing, that at sight of each other both he and Sir Clement changed colour.
We went into the parlour, where we found the same party we had left. Mrs. Selwyn presented Sir Clement to Mrs. Beaumont; Lady Louisa and Lord Merton he seemed well acquainted with already.
The conversation was upon the general subjects, of the weather, the company at the Wells, and the news of the day. But Sir Clement, drawing his chair next to mine, took every opportunity of addressing himself to me in particular.
I could not but remark the striking difference of his attention, and that of Lord Orville: the latter has such gentleness of manners, such delicacy of conduct, and an air so respectful, that, when he flatters most, he never distresses; and when he most confers honour, appears to receive it! The former obtrudes his attention, and forces mine; it is so pointed, that it always confuses me, and so public, that it attracts general notice. Indeed I have sometimes thought that he would rather wish, than dislike to have his partiality for me known, as he takes great care to prevent my being spoken to by any but himself.
When at length he went away, Lord Orville took his seat, and said, with a half smile, "Shall I call Sir Clement,-or will you call me an usurper for taking this place?-You make me no answer?-Must I then suppose that Sir Clement-"
"It is little worth your Lordship's while," said I, "to suppose any thing upon so insignificant an occasion."
"Pardon me," cried he;-"to me nothing is insignificant in which you are concerned."
To this I made no answer; neither did he say any thing more, till the ladies retired to dress: and then, when I would have followed them, he stopped me, saying, "One moment, I entreat you!"
I turned back, and he went on, "I greatly fear that I have been so unfortunate as to offend you; yet so repugnant to my very soul is the idea, that I know not how to suppose it possible I can unwittingly have done the thing in the world that, designedly, I would wish to avoid."
"No, indeed, my Lord, you have not," said I.
"You sigh!" cried he, taking my hand, "would to Heaven I were the sharer of your uneasiness, whencesoever it springs! with what earnestness would I not struggle to alleviate it!-Tell me, my dear Miss Anville,-my new-adopted sister, my sweet and most amiable friend!-tell me, I beseech you, if I can afford you any assistance?"
"None, none, my Lord!" cried I, withdrawing my hand, and moving towards the door.
"Is it then impossible I can serve you?-Perhaps you wish to see
Mr. Macartney again?"
"No, my Lord." And I held the door open.
"I am not, I own, sorry for that. Yet, oh! Miss Anville, there is a question,-there is a conjecture,-I know not how to mention, because I dread the result!-But I see you are in haste;-perhaps in the evening I may have the honour of a longer conversation.-Yet one thing, will you have the goodness to allow me to ask?-Did you, this morning, when you went to the Wells,-did you know whom you should meet there?"
"Who, my Lord?"
"I beg your pardon a thousand times for a curiosity so unlicensed;-but
I will say no more at present."
He bowed, expecting me to go;-and then, with quick steps, but a heavy heart, I came to my own room. His question, I am sure, meant Sir Clement Willoughby; and had I not imposed upon myself the severe task of avoiding, flying Lord Orville, with all my power, I would instantly have satisfied him of my ignorance of Sir Clement's journey. And yet more did I long to say something of the assembly, since I found he depended upon my spending the evening at home.
I did not go down stairs again till the family was assembled to dinner. My dress, I saw, struck Lord Orville with astonishment; and I was myself so much ashamed of appearing whimsical and unsteady, that I could not look up.
"I understood," said Mrs. Beaumont, "that Miss Anville did not go out this evening."
"Her intention in the morning," said Mrs. Selwyn, "was to stay at home; but there is a fascinating power in an assembly, which, upon second thoughts, is not to be resisted."
"The assembly!" cried Lord Orville; "are you then going to the assembly?"
I made no answer; and we all took our places at table.
It was not without difficulty that I contrived to give up my usual seat; but I was determined to adhere to the promise in my yesterday's letter, though I saw that Lord Orville seemed quite confounded at my visible endeavours to avoid him.
After dinner, we all went into the drawing-room together, as there were no gentlemen to detain his Lordship; and then, before I could place myself out of his way, he said, "You are then really going to the assembly?-May I ask if you shall dance?"
"I believe not,-my Lord."
"If I did not fear," continued he, "that you would be tired of the same partner at two following assemblies, I would give up my letter-writing till to-morrow evening, and solicit the honour of your hand."
"If I do dance," said I, in great confusion, "I believe I am engaged."
"Engaged!" cried he, with earnestness, "May I ask to whom?"
"To-Sir Clement Willoughby, my Lord."
He said nothing, but looked very little pleased, and did not address himself to me any more all the afternoon. Oh, Sir!-thus situated, how comfortless were the feelings of your Evelina!
Early in the evening, with his accustomed assiduity, Sir Clement came to conduct us to the assembly. He soon contrived to seat himself next me, and, in a low voice, paid me so many compliments, that I knew not which way to look.
Lord Orville hardly spoke a word, and his countenance was grave and thoughtful; yet, whenever I raised my eyes, his, I perceived, were directed towards me, though instantly, upon meeting mine, he looked another way.
In a short time, Sir Clement, taking from his pocket a folded paper, said, almost in a whisper, "Here, loveliest of women, you will see a faint, an unsuccessful attempt to paint the object of all my adoration! yet, weak as are the lines for the purpose, I envy beyond expression the happy mortal who has dared make the effort."
"I will look at them," said I, "some other time." For, conscious that I was observed by Lord Orville, I could not bear he should see me take a written paper, so privately offered, from Sir Clement. But Sir Clement is an impracticable man, and I never succeeded in any attempt to frustrate whatever he had planned.
"No," said he, still in a whisper, "you must take them now, while Lady Louisa is away;" for she and Mrs. Selwyn were gone up stairs to finish their dress, "as she must by no means see them."
"Indeed," said I, "I have no intention to show them."
"But the only way," answered he, "to avoid suspicion, is to take them in her absence. I would have read them aloud myself, but that they are not proper to be seen by any body in this house, yourself and Mrs. Selwyn excepted."
Then again he presented me the paper, which I now was obliged to take, as I found declining it was vain. But I was sorry that this action should be seen, and the whispering remarked, though the purport of the conversation was left to conjecture.
As I held it in my hand, Sir Clement teazed me to look at it immediately; and told me, the reason he could not produce the lines publicly was, that among the ladies who were mentioned, and supposed to be rejected, was Lady Louisa Larpent. I am much concerned at this circumstance, as I cannot doubt but that it will render me more disagreeable to her than ever, if she should hear of it.
I will now copy the verses, which Sir Clement would not let me rest till I had read.
See last advance, with bashful grace,
Downcast eye, and blushing cheek,
Timid air, and beauteous face,
Anville,-whom the Graces seek.
Though ev'ry beauty is her own,
And though her mind each virtue fills,
Anville,-to her power unknown,
Artless strikes,-unconscious kills.
I am sure, my dear Sir, you will not wonder that a panegyric such as this should, in reading, give me the greatest confusion; and, unfortunately, before I had finished it, the ladies returned.
"What have you there, my dear?" said Mrs. Selwyn.
"Nothing, Ma'am," said I, hastily folding, and putting it in my pocket.
"And has nothing," cried she, "the power of rouge?"
I made no answer; a deep sigh, which escaped Lord Orville at that moment, reached my ears, and gave me sensations-which I dare not mention!
Lord Merton then handed Lady Louisa and Mrs. Beaumont to the latter's carriage. Mrs. Selwyn led the way to Sir Clement's, who handed me in after her.
During the ride I did not once speak; but when I came to the assembly room, Sir Clement took care that I should not preserve my silence. He asked me immediately to dance; I begged him to excuse me, and seek some other partner. But on the contrary, he told me, he was very glad I would sit still, as he had a million of things to say to me.
He then began to tell me, how much he had suffered from absence; how greatly he was alarmed when he heard I had left town; and how cruelly difficult he had found it to trace me; which, at last, he could only do by sacrificing another week to Captain Mirvan.
"And Howard Grove," continued he, "which, at my first visit, I thought the most delightful spot upon earth, now appeared to me the most dismal: the face of the country seemed altered; the walks, which I had thought most pleasant, were now most stupid: Lady Howard, who had appeared a cheerful and respectable old lady, now appeared in the common John Trot style of other aged dames: Mrs. Mirvan, whom I had esteemed as an amiable piece of still-life, now became so insipid, that I could hardly keep awake in her company: the daughter, too, whom I had regarded as a good-humoured, pretty sort of a girl, now seemed too insignificant for notice: and as to the Captain, I had always thought him a booby,-but now he appeared a savage!"
"Indeed, Sir Clement," cried I, angrily, "I will not hear you speak thus of my best friends."
"I beg your pardon," said he, "but the contrast of my two visits was too striking not to be mentioned."
He then asked what I thought of the verses?
"Either," said I, "they are written ironically, or by some madman."
Such a profusion of compliments ensued, that I was obliged to propose dancing, in my own defence. When we stood up, "I intended," said he, "to have discovered the author by his looks; but I find you so much the general loadstone of attention, that my suspicions change their object every moment. Surely you must yourself have some knowledge who he is?"
I told him no. Yet, my dear Sir, I must own to you, I have no doubt but that Mr. Macartney must be the author; no one else would speak of me so partially; and, indeed, his poetical turn puts it, with me, beyond dispute.
He asked me a thousand questions concerning Lord Orville; how long he had been at Bristol?-what time I had spent at Clifton?-whether he rode out every morning?-whether I ever trusted myself in a phaeton? and a multitude of other enquiries, all tending to discover if I was honoured with much of his Lordship's attention, and all made with his usual freedom and impetuosity.
Fortunately, as I much wished to retire early, Lady Louisa makes a point of being the first who quit the rooms, and therefore we got home in very tolerable time.
Lord Orville's reception of us was grave and cold: far from distinguishing me, as usual, by particular civilities, Lady Louisa herself could not have seen me enter the room with more frigid unconcern, nor have more scrupulously avoided honouring me with any notice. But chiefly I was struck to see, that he suffered Sir Clement, who stayed supper, to sit between us, without any effort to prevent him, though till then, he had seemed to be even tenacious of a seat next mine.
This little circumstance affected me more than I can express; yet I endeavoured to rejoice at it, since neglect and indifference from him may be my best friends.-But, alas!-so suddenly, so abruptly to forfeit his attention!-to lose his friendship!-Oh, Sir, these thoughts pierced my soul!-scarce could I keep my seat; for not all my efforts could restrain the tears from trickling down my cheeks: however, as Lord Orville saw them not, for Sir Clement's head was constantly between us, I tried to collect my spirits, and succeeded so far as to keep my place with decency, till Sir Clement took leave; and then, not daring to trust my eyes to meet those of Lord Orville, I retired.
I have been writing ever since; for, certain that I could not sleep, I would not go to bed. Tell me, my dearest Sir, if you possibly can, tell me that you approve my change of conduct,-tell me that my altered behaviour to Lord Orville is right,-that my flying his society, and avoiding his civilities, are actions which you would have dictated.-Tell me this, and the sacrifices I have made will comfort me in the midst of my regret,-for never, never can I cease to regret that I have lost the friendship of Lord Orville!-Oh, Sir, I have slighted,-have rejected,-have thrown it away!-No matter, it was an honour I merited not to preserve; and now I see,-that my mind was unequal to sustaining it without danger.
Yet so strong is the desire you have implanted in me to act with uprightness and propriety, that, however the weakness of my heart may distress and afflict me, it will never, I humbly trust, render me wilfully culpable. The wish of doing well governs every other, as far as concerns my conduct,-for am I not your child?-the creature of your own forming!-Yet, Oh Sir, friend, parent, of my heart!-my feelings are all at war with my duties! and, while I most struggle to acquire self-approbation, my peace, my happiness, my hopes,-are lost!
'Tis you alone can compose a mind so cruelly agitated: you, I well know, can feel pity for the weakness to which you are a stranger; and, though you blame the affliction, soothe and comfort the afflicted.
MR. VILLARS TO EVELINA. Berry Hill, Oct. 3rd.
YOUR last communication, my dearest child, is indeed astonishing; that an acknowledged daughter and heiress of Sir John Belmont should be at Bristol, and still my Evelina bear the name of Anville, is to me inexplicable; yet the mystery of the letter to Lady Howard prepared me to expect something extraordinary upon Sir John Belmont's return to England.
Whoever this young lady may be, it is certain she now takes a place to which you have a right indisputable. An after-marriage I never heard of; yet, supposing such a one to have happened, Miss Evelyn was certainly the first wife, and therefore her daughter must, at least, be entitled to the name of Belmont.
Either there are circumstances in this affair at present utterly incomprehensible, or else some strange and most atrocious fraud has been practiced; which of these two is the case it now behoves us to enquire.
My reluctance to this step gives way to my conviction of its propriety, since the reputation of your dear and much-injured mother must now either be fully cleared from blemish, or receive its final and indelible wound.
The public appearance of a daughter of Sir John Belmont will revive the remembrance of Miss Evelyn's story in all who have heard it,-who the mother was, will be universally demanded,-and if any other Lady Belmont should be named, the birth of my Evelina will receive a stigma, against which, honour, truth, and innocence may appeal in vain!-a stigma, which will eternally blast the fair fame of her virtuous mother, and cast upon her blameless self the odium of a title, which not all her purity can rescue from established shame and dishonour!
No, my dear child, no; I will not quietly suffer the ashes of your mother to be treated with ignominy! her spotless character shall be justified to the world-her marriage shall be acknowledged, and her child shall bear the name to which she is lawfully entitled.
It is true, that Mrs. Mirvan would conduct this affair with more delicacy than Mrs. Selwyn; yet, perhaps, to save time, is of all considerations the most important, since the longer this mystery is suffered to continue, the more difficult may be rendered its explanation. The sooner, therefore, you can set out for town, the less formidable will be your task.
Let not your timidity, my dear love, depress your spirits: I shall, indeed, tremble for you at a meeting so singular and so affecting, yet there can be no doubt of the success of your application: I enclose a letter from your unhappy mother, written, and reserved purposely for this occasion: Mrs. Clinton too, who attended her in her last illness, must accompany you to town.-But, without any other certificate of your birth, that which you carry in your countenance, as it could not be affected by artifice, so it cannot admit of a doubt.
And now, my Evelina, committed at length to the care of your real parent, receive the fervent prayers, wishes, and blessings, of him who so fondly adopted you!
May'st thou, O child of my bosom! may'st thou, in this change of situation, experience no change of disposition! but receive with humility, and support with meekness the elevation to which thou art rising! May thy manners, language, and deportment, all evince that modest equanimity, and cheerful gratitude, which not merely deserve, but dignify prosperity! May'st thou, to the last moments of an unblemished life, retain thy genuine simplicity, thy singleness of heart, thy guileless sincerity! And may'st thou, stranger to ostentation, and superior to insolence, with true greatness of soul shine forth conspicuous only in beneficence! ARTHUR VILLARS.
LETTER LXXIV. [Inclosed in the preceding Letter.]
LADY BELMONT TO SIR JOHN BELMONT.
IN the firm hope that the moment of anguish which approaches will prove the period of my sufferings, once more I address myself to Sir John Belmont, in behalf of the child, who, if it survives its mother, will hereafter be the bearer of this letter.
Yet, in what terms,-Oh, most cruel of men!-can the lost Caroline address you, and not address you in vain? Oh, deaf to the voice of compassion-deaf to the sting of truth-deaf to every tie of honour-say, in what terms may the lost Caroline address you, and not address you in vain!
Shall I call you by the loved, the respected title of husband?-No, you disclaim it!-the father of my infant?-No, you doom it to infamy!-the lover who rescued me from a forced marriage?-No, you have yourself betrayed me!-the friend from whom I hoped succour and protection?-No, you have consigned me to misery and destruction!
Oh, hardened against every plea of justice, remorse, or pity! how, and in what manner, may I hope to move thee? Is there one method I have left untried? remains there one resource unessayed? No! I have exhausted all the bitterness of reproach, and drained every sluice of compassion!
Hopeless, and almost desperate, twenty times have I flung away my pen;-but the feelings of a mother, a mother agonizing for the fate of her child, again animating my courage, as often I have resumed it.
Perhaps when I am no more, when the measure of my woes is completed, and the still, silent, unreproaching dust has received my sad remains,-then, perhaps, when accusation is no longer to be feared, nor detection to be dreaded, the voice of equity and the cry of nature may be heard.
Listen, Oh Belmont, to their dictates! reprobate not your child, though you have reprobated its mother. The evils that are past, perhaps, when too late, you may wish to recal; the young creature you have persecuted, perhaps, when too late, you may regret that you have destroyed;-you may think with horror of the deceptions you have practised, and the pangs of remorse may follow me to the tomb:-Oh, Belmont, all my resentment softens into pity at the thought! what will become of thee, good Heaven, when, with the eye of penitence, thou reviewest thy past conduct!
Hear, then, the solemn, the last address, with which the unhappy
Caoline will importune thee.
If when the time of thy contrition arrives,-for arrive it must!-when the sense of thy treachery shall rob thee of almost every other, if then thy tortured heart shall sigh to expiate thy guilt,-mark the conditions upon which I leave thee my forgiveness.
Thou knowest I am thy wife!-clear, then, to the world the reputation thou hast sullied, and receive, as thy lawful successor, the child who will present thee this, my dying request!
The worthiest, the most benevolent, the best of men, to whose consoling kindness I owe the little tranquillity I have been able to preserve, has plighted me his faith, that, upon no other conditions, he will part with his helpless charge.
Should'st thou, in the features of this deserted innocent, trace the resemblance of the wretched Caroline,-should its face bear the marks of its birth, and revive in thy memory the image of its mother, wilt thou not, Belmont, wilt thou not therefore renounce it?-Oh, babe of my fondest affection! for whom already I experience all the tenderness of maternal pity! look not like thy unfortunate mother,-lest the parent, whom the hand of death may spare, shall be snatched from thee by the more cruel means of unnatural antipathy!
I can write no more. The small share of serenity I have painfully acquired, will not bear the shock of the dreadful ideas that crowd upon me.
Yet, Oh!-shall I not, in this last farewell, which thou wilt not read till every stormy passion is extinct, and the kind grave has embosomed all my sorrows,-shall I not offer to the man, once so dear to me, a ray of consolation to those afflictions he has in reserve? Suffer me, then, to tell thee, that my pity far exceeds my indignation,-that I will pray for thee in my last moments, and that the recollection of the love I once bore thee, shall swallow up every other!
Once more, adieu! CAROLINE BELMONT.
EVELINA TO THE REV. MR. VILLARS. Clifton, Oct. 3rd.
THIS morning I saw from my window, that Lord Orville was walking in the garden; but I would not go down stairs till breakfast was ready: and then, he paid me his compliments almost as coldly as Lady Louisa paid hers.
I took my usual place, and Mrs. Belmont, Lady Louisa, and Mrs. Selwyn, entered into their usual conversation.-Not so your Evelina: disregarded, silent, and melancholy, she sat like a cypher, whom, to nobody belonging, by nobody was noticed.
Ill brooking such a situation, and unable to suport the neglect of
Lord Orville, the moment breakfast was over I left the room, and
was going up stairs; when, very unpleasantly, I was stopped by Sir
Clement Willoughby, who, flying into the hall, prevented my proceeding.
He enquired very particularly after my health, and entreated me to return into the parlour. Unwillingly, I consented, but thought any thing preferable to continuing alone with him; and he would neither leave me, nor suffer me to pass on. Yet, in returning, I felt not a little ashamed at appearing thus to take the visit of Sir Clement to myself. And, indeed, he endeavoured, by his manner of addressing me, to give it that air.
He stayed, I believe, an hour; nor would he, perhaps, even then have gone, had not Mrs. Beaumont broken up the party, by proposing an airing in her coach. Lady Louisa consented to accompany her; but Mrs. Selwyn, when applied to, said, "If my Lord, or Sir Clement, will join us, I shall be happy to make one;-but really a trio of females will be nervous to the last degree."
Sir Clement readily agreed to attend them; indeed, he makes it his evident study to court the favour of Mrs. Beaumont. Lord Orville excused himself from going out; and I retired to my own room. What he did with himself I know not, for I would not go down stairs till dinner was ready: his coldness, though my own change of behaviour had occasioned it, so cruelly depresses my spirits, that I know not how to support myself in his presence.
At dinner, I found Sir Clement again of the party. Indeed, he manages every thing his own way; for Mrs. Beaumont, though by no means easy to please, seems quite at his disposal.
The dinner, the afternoon, and the evening, were to me the most irksome imaginable: I was tormented by the assiduity of Sir Clement, who not only took, but made opportunities of speaking to me,-and I was hurt,-Oh, how inexpressibly hurt!-that Lord Orville not only forebore, as hitherto, seeking, he even neglected all occasions of talking with me!
I begin to think, my dear Sir, that the sudden alteration in my behaviour was ill-judged and improper; for, as I had received no offence, as the cause of the change was upon my account, not his, I should not have assumed, so abruptly, a reserve for which I dared assign no reason,-nor have shunned his presence so obviously, without considering the strange appearance of such a conduct.
Alas, my dearest Sir, that my reflections should always be too late to serve me! dearly, indeed, do I purchase experience! and much, I fear, I shall suffer yet more severely, from the heedless indiscretion of my temper, ere I attain that prudence and consideration, which, by foreseeing distant consequences, may rule and direct in present exigencies. Oct. 4th.
Yesterday morning every body rode out, except Mrs. Selwyn and myself; and we two sat for some time together in her room; but, as soon as I could, I quitted her, to saunter in the garden; for she diverts herself so unmercifully with rallying me, either upon my gravity, or concerning Lord Orville,-that I dread having any conversation with her.
Here I believe I spent an hour by myself; when, hearing the garden-gate open, I went into an arbour at the end of a long walk, where, ruminating, very unpleasantly, upon my future prospects, I remained quietly seated but a few minutes, before I was interrupted by the appearance of Sir Clement Willoughby.
I started; and would have left the arbour, but he prevented me. Indeed, I am almost certain he had heard in the house where I was, as it is not, otherwise, probable he would have strolled down the garden alone.
"Stop, stop," cried he, "loveliest and most beloved of women, stop and hear me!"
Then, making me keep my place, he sat down by me, and would have taken my hand; but I drew it back, and said I could not stay.
"Can you, then," cried he, "refuse me the smallest gratification, though, but yesterday, I almost suffered martyrdom for the pleasure of seeing you?"
"Martyrdom! Sir Clement."
"Yes, beauteous insensible! martyrdom: for did I not compel myself to be immured in a carriage, the tedious length of a whole morning, with the three most fatiguing women in England?"
"Upon my word, the ladies are extremely obliged to you."
"Oh," returned he, "they have, every one of them, so copious a share of their own personal esteem, that they have no right to repine at the failure of it in the world; and, indeed, they will themselves be the last to discover it."
"How little," cried I, "are those ladies aware of such severity from you!"
"They are guarded," answered he, "so happily and so securely by their own conceit, that they are not aware of it from any body. Oh, Miss Anville, to be torn away from you, in order to be shut up with them,-is there a human being, except your cruel self, could forbear to pity me?"
"I believe, Sir Clement, however hardly you may choose to judge of them, your situation, by the world in general, would rather have been envied than pitied."
"The world in general," answered he, "has the same opinion of them that I have myself: Mrs. Beaumont is every where laughed at, Lady Louisa ridiculed, and Mrs. Selwyn hated."
"Good God, Sir Clement, what cruel strength of words do you use!"
"It is you, my angel, are to blame, since your perfections have rendered their faults so glaring. I protest to you, during our whole ride, I thought the carriage drawn by snails. The absurd pride of Mrs. Beaumont, and the respect she exacts, are at once insufferable and stupifying; had I never before been in her company, I should have concluded that this had been her first airing from the herald's office,-and wished her nothing worse, than that it might also be the last. I assure you, that but for gaining the freedom of her house, I would fly her as I would plague, pestilence, and famine. Mrs. Selwyn, indeed, afforded some relief from this formality, but the unbounded license of her tongue-"
"O, Sir Clement, do you object to that?"
"Yes, my sweet reproacher, in a woman I do; in a woman I think it intolerable. She has wit, I acknowledge, and more understanding than half her sex put together; but she keeps alive a perpetual expectation of satire, that spreads a general uneasiness among all who are in her presence; and she talks so much, that even the best things she says weary the attention. As to the little Louisa, 'tis such a pretty piece of languor, that 'tis almost cruel to speak rationally about her,-else I should say, she is a mere compound of affectation, impertinence, and airs."
"I am quite amazed," said I, "that, with such opinions, you can behave to them all with so much attention and civility."
"Civility! my angel,-why I could worship, could adore them, only to procure myself a moment of your conversation! Have you not seen me pay my court to the gross Captain Mirvan, and the virago Madame Duval? Were it possible that a creature so horrid could be formed, as to partake of the worst qualities of all these characters,-a creature who should have the haughtiness of Mrs. Beaumont, the brutality of Captain Mirvan, the self-conceit of Mrs. Selwyn, the affectation of Lady Louisa, and the vulgarity of Madame Duval,-even to such a monster as that I would pay homage, and pour forth adulation, only to obtain one word, one look from my adored Miss Anville!"
"Sir Clement," said I, "you are greatly mistaken if you suppose this duplicity of character recommends you to my good opinion. But I must take this opportunity of begging you never more to talk to me in this strain."
"Oh, Miss Anville, your reproofs, your coldness, pierce me to the soul! look upon me with less rigour, and make me what you please;-you shall govern and direct all my actions,-you shall new-form, new-model me:-I will not have even a wish but of your suggestion; only deign to look upon me with pity-if not with favour!"
"Suffer me, Sir," said I, very gravely, "to make use of this occasion to put a final conclusion to such expressions. I entreat you never again to address me in a language so flighty and so unwelcome. You have already given me great uneasiness; and I must frankly assure you, that if you do not desire to banish me from wherever you are, you will adopt a very different style and conduct in future."
I then rose, and was going, but he flung himself at my feet to prevent me, exclaiming, in a most passionate manner, "Good God! Miss Anville, what do you say?-is it, can it be possible, that, so unmoved, that, with such petrifying indifference, you can tear from me even the remotest hope!"
"I know not, Sir," said I, endeavouring to disengage myself from him, "what hope you mean, but I am sure that I never intended to give you any."
"You distract me," cried he, "I cannot endure such scorn;-I beseech you to have some moderation in your cruelty, lest you make me desperate:-say, then, that you pity me,-O fairest inexorable! loveliest tyrant!-say, tell me, at least, that you pity me!"
Just then, who should come in sight, as if intending to pass by the arbour, but Lord Orville! Good Heaven, how did I start! and he, the moment he saw me, turned pale, and was hastily retiring;-but I called out "Lord Orville!-Sir Clement, release me,-let go my hand!"
Sir Clement, in some confusion, suddenly rose, but still grasped my hand. Lord Orville, who had turned back, was again walking away; but, still struggling to disengage myself, I called out "Pray, pray, my Lord, don't go!-Sir Clement, I insist upon your releasing me!"
Lord Orville then, hastily approaching us, said, with great spirit,
"Sir Clement, you cannot wish to detain Miss Anville by force!"
"Neither, my Lord," cried Sir Clement, proudly, "do I request the honour of your Lordship's interference."
However, he let go my hand, and I immediately ran into the house.
I was now frightened to death, lest Sir Clement's mortified pride should provoke him to affront Lord Orville: I therefore ran hastily to Mrs. Selwyn, and entreated her, in a manner hardly to be understood, to walk towards the arbour. She asked no questions, for she is quick as lightening in taking a hint, but instantly hastened into the garden.
Imagine, my dear Sir, how wretched I must be till I saw her return! scarce could I restrain myself from running back: however, I checked my impatience, and waited, though in agonies, till she came.
And now, my dear Sir, I have a conversation to write, the most interesting to me that I ever heard. The comments and questions with which Mrs. Selwyn interrupted her account I shall not mention; for they are such as you may very easily suppose.
Lord Orville and Sir Clement were both seated very quietly in the arbour: and Mrs. Selwyn, standing still, as soon as she was within a few yards of them, heard Sir Clement say, "Your question, my Lord, alarms me, and I can by no means answer it, unless you will allow me to propose another."
"You ask me, my Lord, what are my intentions?-I should be very happy to be satisfied as to your Lordship's."
"I have never, Sir, professed any."
Here they were both, for a few moments, silent; and then Sir Clement said, "To what, my Lord, must I then impute your desire of knowing mine?"
"To an unaffected interest in Miss Anville's welfare."
"Such an interest," said Sir Clement, drily, "is indeed very generous; but, except in a father,-a brother,-or a lover-"
"Sir Clement," interrupted his Lordship, "I know your inference; and I acknowledge I have not the right of enquiry which any of those three titles bestow; and yet I confess the warmest wishes to serve her and to see her happy. Will you, then, excuse me, if I take the liberty to repeat my question?"
"Yes, if your Lordship will excuse my repeating, that I think it a rather extraordinary one."
"It may be so," said Lord Orville; "but this young lady seems to be peculiarly situated; she is very young, very inexperienced, yet appears to be left totally to her own direction. She does not, I believe, see the dangers to which she is exposed, and I will own to you, I feel a strong desire to point them out."
"I don't rightly understand your Lordship,-but I think you cannot mean to prejudice her against me?"
"Her sentiments of you, Sir, are as much unknown to me, as your intentions towards her. Perhaps, were I acquainted with either, my officiousness might be at an end: but I presume not to ask upon what terms-"
Here he stopped; and Sir Clement said, "You know, my Lord, I am not given to despair; I am by no means such a puppy as to tell you I am upon sure ground; however, perseverance-"
"You are, then, determined to perservere?"
"I am, my Lord."
"Pardon me, then, Sir Clement, if I speak to you with freedom. This young lady, though she seems alone, and, in some measure, unprotected, is not entirely without friends; she has been extremely well educated, and accustomed to good company; she has a natural love of virtue, and a mind that might adorn any station, however exalted: is such a young lady, Sir Clement, a proper object to trifle with?-for your principles, excuse me, Sir, are well known."
"As to that, my Lord, let Miss Anville look to herself; she has an excellent understanding, and needs no counsellor."
"Her understanding is indeed excellent; but she is too young for suspicion, and has an artlessness of disposition I never saw equalled."
"My Lord," cried Sir Clement, warmly, "your praises make me doubt your disinterestedness, and there exists not the man, whom I would so unwillingly have for a rival as yourself. But you must give me leave to say, you have greatly deceived me in regard to this affair."
"How so, Sir?" cried Lord Orville, with equal warmth.
"You were pleased, my Lord," answered Sir Clement, "upon our first conversation concerning this young lady, to speak to her in terms by no means suited to your present encomiums; you said she was a poor, weak, ignorant girl, and I had great reason to believe you had a most contemptuous opinion of her."
"It is very true," said Lord Orville, "that I did not, at our first acquaintance, do justice to the merits of Miss Anville; but I knew not then how new she was to the world; at present, however, I am convinced, that whatever might appear strange in her behaviour, was simply the effect of inexperience, timidity, and a retired education; for I find her informed, sensible, and intelligent. She is not, indeed, like most modern young ladies, to be known in half an hour: her modest worth, and fearful excellence, require both time and encouragement to show themselves. She does not, beautiful as she is, seize the soul by surprise, but, with more dangerous fascination, she steals it almost imperceptibly."
"Enough, my Lord," cried Sir Clement, "your solicitude for her welfare is now sufficiently explained."
"My friendship and esteem," returned Lord Orville, "I do not wish to disguise; but assure yourself, Sir Clement, I should not have troubled you upon this subject, had Miss Anville and I ever conversed but as friends. However, since you do not choose to avow your intentions, we must drop the subject."
"My intentions," cried he, "I will frankly own, are hardly known to myself. I think Miss Anville the loveliest of her sex; and, were I a marrying man, she, of all the women I have seen, I would fix upon for a wife: but I believe that not even the philosophy of your Lordship would recommend me to a connection of that sort, with a girl of obscure birth, whose only dowry is her beauty, and who is evidently in a state of dependency."
"Sir Clement," cried Lord Orville, with some heat, "we will discuss this point no further; we are both free agents, and must act for ourselves."
Here Mrs. Selwyn, fearing a surprise, and finding my apprehensions of danger were groundless, retired hastily into another walk, and soon after came to give me this account.
Good Heaven, what a man is this Sir Clement! So designing, though so easy; so deliberately artful, though so flighty! Greatly, however, is he mistaken, all confident as he seems; for the girl, obscure, poor, dependent as she is, far from wishing the honour of his alliance, would not only now, but always have rejected it.
As to Lord Orville,-but I will not trust my pen to mention him,-tell me, my dear sir, what you think of him?-tell me if he is not the noblest of men?-and if you can either wonder at, or blame my admiration?
The idea of being seen immediately by either party, after so singular a conversation, was both awkward and distressing to me; but I was obliged to appear at dinner. Sir Clement, I saw, was absent and uneasy; he watched me, he watched Lord Orville, and was evidently disturbed in his mind. Whenever he spoke to me, I turned from him with undisguised disdain, for I am too much irritated against him, to bear with his ill-meant assiduities any longer.
But, not once,-not a moment, did I dare meet the eyes of Lord Orville! All consciousness myself, I dreaded his penetration, and directed mine every way-but towards his. The rest of the day I never quitted Mrs. Selwyn.
Adieu, my dear Sir: to-morrow I expect your directions, whether I am to return to Berry Hill, or once more to visit London.
EVELINA IN CONTINUATION. Oct. 6th.
AND now, my dearest Sir, if the perturbation of my spirits will allow me, I will finish my last letter from Clifton Hill. This morning, though I did not go down stairs early, Lord Orville was the only person in the parlour when I entered it. I felt no small confusion at seeing him alone, after having so long and successfully avoided such a meeting. As soon as the usual compliments were over, I would have left the room, but he stopped me by saying, "If I disturb you Miss Anville, I am gone."
"My Lord," said I, rather embarrassed, "I did not mean to stay."
"I flattered myself," cried he, "I should have had a moment's conversation with you."
I then turned back; and he seemed himself in some perplexity: but, after a short pause, "You are very good," said he, "to indulge my request; I have, indeed, for some time past, most ardently desired an opportunity of speaking to you."
Again he paused; but I said nothing, so he went on.
"You allowed me, Madam, a few days since, you allowed me to lay claim to your friendship,-to interest myself in your affairs,-to call you by the affectionate title of sister;-and the honour you did me, no man could have been more sensible of; I am ignorant, therefore, how I have been so unfortunate as to forfeit it:-but, at present, all is changed! you fly me,-your averted eye shuns to meet mine, and you sedulously avoid my conversation."
I was extremely disconcerted at this grave, and but too just accusation, and I am sure I must look very simple;-but I made no answer.
"You will not, I hope," continued he, "condemn me unheard; if there is any thing I have done,-or any thing I have neglected, tell me, I beseech you, what, and it shall be the whole study of my thoughts how to deserve your pardon."
"Oh, my Lord," cried I, penetrated at once with shame and gratitude, "your too, too great politeness oppresses me!-you have done nothing,-I have never dreamt of offence-if there is any pardon to be asked it is rather for me, than for you to ask it."
"You are all sweetness and condescension!" cried he, "and I flatter myself you will again allow me to claim those titles which I find myself so unable to forego. Yet, occupied as I am, with an idea that gives me the greatest uneasiness, I hope you will not think me impertinent, if I still solicit, still intreat, nay implore, you to tell me, to what cause your late sudden, and to me most painful, reserve was owing?"
"Indeed, my Lord," said I, stammering, "I don't,-I can't,-indeed, my Lord,-"
"I am sorry to distress you," said he, "and ashamed to be so urgent,-yet I know not how to be satisfied while in ignorance,-and the time when the change happened, makes me apprehend,-may I, Miss Anville, tell you what it makes me apprehend?"
"Certainly, my Lord."
"Tell me, then,-and pardon a question most essentially important to me;-Had, or had not, Sir Clement Willoughby any share in causing your inquietude?"
"No, my Lord," answered I, with firmness, "none in the world."
"A thousand, thousand thanks!" cried he: "you have relieved me from a weight of conjecture which I supported very painfully. But one thing more; is it, in any measure, to Sir Clement that I may attribute the alteration in your behaviour to myself, which, I could not but observe, began the very day after his arrival at the Hot Wells?"
"To Sir Clement, my Lord," said I, "attribute nothing. He is the last man in the world who would have any influence over my conduct."
"And will you, then, restore to me that share of confidence and favour with which you honoured me before he came?"
Just then, to my great relief,-for I knew not what to say,-Mrs.
Beaumont opened the door, and in a few minutes we went to breakfast.
Lord Orville was all gaiety; never did I see him more lively or more agreeable. Very soon after, Sir Clement Willoughby called, to pay his respects, he said, to Mrs. Beaumont. I then came to my own room, where, indulging my reflections, which, now soothed, and now alarmed me, I remained very quietly, till I received your most kind letter.
Oh, Sir, how sweet are the prayers you offer for your Evelina! how grateful to her are the blessings you pour upon her head!-You commit me to my real parent,-Ah, Guardian, Friend, Protector of my youth,-by whom my helpless infancy was cherished, my mind formed, my very life preserved,-you are the Parent my heart acknowledges, and to you do I vow eternal duty, gratitude, and affection!
I look forward to the approaching interview with more fear than hope; but, important as is this subject, I am just now wholly engrossed with another, which I must hasten to communicate.
I immediately acquainted Mrs. Selwyn with the purport of your letter. She was charmed to find your opinion agreed with her own, and settled that we should go to town to-morrow morning: and a chaise is actually ordered to be here by one o'clock.
She then desired me to pack up my clothes; and said she must go herself to make speeches and tell lies to Mrs. Beaumont.
When I went down stairs to dinner, Lord Orville, who was still in excellent spirits, reproached me for secluding myself so much from the company. He sat next me,-he would sit next me,-at table; and he might, I am sure, repeat what he once said of me before, that he almost exhausted himself in fruitless endeavours to entertain me; -for, indeed, I was not to be entertained: I was totally spiritless and dejected; the idea of the approaching meeting,-and Oh, Sir, the idea of the approaching parting,-gave a heaviness to my heart that I could neither conquer nor repress. I even regretted the half explanation that had passed, and wished Lord Orville had supported his own reserve, and suffered me to support mine.
However, when, during dinner, Mrs. Beaumont spoke of our journey, my gravity was no longer singular; a cloud instantly overspread the countenance of Lord Orville, and he became nearly as thoughtful and as silent as myself.
We all went together to the drawing-room. After a short and unentertaining conversation, Mrs. Selwyn said she must prepare for her journey, and begged me to see for some books she had left in the parlour.
And here, while I was looking for them, I was followed by Lord Orville. He shut the door after he came in, and, approaching me with a look of anxiety, said, "Is this true, Miss Anville, are you going?"
"I believe so, my Lord," said I, still looking for the books.
"So suddenly, so unexpectedly must I lose you?"
"No great loss, my Lord," cried I, endeavouring to speak cheerfully.
"Is it possible," said he gravely, "Miss Anville can doubt my sincerity?"
"I can't imagine," cried I, "what Mrs. Selwyn has done with these books."
"Would to Heaven," continued he, "I might flatter myself you would allow me to prove it!"
"I must run up stairs," cried I, greatly confused, "and ask what she has done with them."
"You are going, then," cried he, taking my hand, "and you give me not the smallest hope of your return!-will you not, then, my too lovely friend!-will you not, at least, teach me, with fortitude like your own, to support your absence?"
"My Lord," cried I, endeavouring to disengage my hand, "pray let me go!"
"I will," cried he, to my inexpressible confusion, dropping on one knee, "if you wish to leave me!"
"O, my Lord," exclaimed I, "rise, I beseech you, rise!-such a posture to me!-surely your Lordship is not so cruel as to mock me!"
"Mock you!" repeated he earnestly, "no I revere you! I esteem and I admire you above all human beings! you are the friend to whom my soul is attached as to its better half! you are the most amiable, the most perfect of women! and you are dearer to me than language has the power of telling."
I attempt not to describe my sensations at that moment; I scarce breathed; I doubted if I existed,-the blood forsook my cheeks, and my feet refused to sustain me: Lord Orville, hastily rising, supported me to a chair, upon which I sunk, almost lifeless.
For a few minutes, we neither of us spoke; and then, seeing me recover, Lord Orville, though in terms hardly articulate, intreated my pardon for his abruptness. The moment my strength returned, I attempted to rise, but he would not permit me.
I cannot write the scene that followed, though every word is engraven on my heart; but his protestations, his expressions, were too flattering for repetition: nor would he, in spite of my repeated efforts to leave him, suffer me to escape:-in short, my dear Sir, I was not proof against his solicitations-and he drew from me the most sacred secret of my heart!
I know not how long we were together; but Lord Orville was upon his knees, when the door was opened by Mrs. Selwyn!-To tell you, Sir, the shame with which I overwhelmed, would be impossible;-I snatched my hand from Lord Orville,-he, too, started and rose, and Mrs. Selwyn, for some instants, stood facing us both in silence.
At last, "My Lord" said she, sarcastically, "have you been so good as to help Miss Anville to look for my books?"
"Yes, Madam," answered he, attempting to rally, "and I hope we shall soon be able to find them."
"Your Lordship is extremely kind," said she, drily, "but I can by no means consent to take up any more of your time." Then looking on the window-seat, she presently found the books, and added, "Come, here are just three, and so like the servants in the Drummer, this important affair may give employment to us all." She then presented one of them to Lord Orville, another to me, and taking a third herself, with a most provoking look, she left the room.
I would instantly have followed her; but Lord Orville, who could not help laughing, begged me to stay a minute, as he had many important matters to discuss.
"No, indeed, my Lord, I cannot,-perhaps I have already stayed too long."
"Does Miss Anville so soon repent her goodness?"
"I scarce know what I do, my Lord,-I am quite bewildered!"
"One hour's conversation," cried he, "will, I hope, compose your spirits, and confirm my happiness. When, then, may I hope to see you alone?-shall you walk in the garden to-morrow before breakfast?"
"No, no, my Lord; you must not, a second time, reproach me with making an appointment."
"Do you then," said he, laughing, "reserve that honour only for
"Mr. Mccartney," said I, "is poor, and thinks himself obliged to me; otherwise-"
"Poverty," cried he, "I will not plead; but, if being obliged to you has any weight, who shall dispute my title to an appointment?"
"My Lord, I can stay no longer,-Mrs. Selwyn will lose all patience."
"Deprive her not of the pleasure of her conjectures,-but tell me, are you under Mrs. Selwyn's care?"
"Only for the present, my Lord."
"Not a few are the questions I have to ask Miss Anville: among them, the most important is, whether she depends wholly on herself, or whether there is any other person for whose interest I must solicit?"
"I hardly know, my Lord, I hardly know myself to whom I most belong."
"Suffer, suffer me, then," cried he, with warmth, "to hasten the time when that shall no longer admit a doubt!-when your grateful Orville may call you all his own!"
At length, but with difficulty, I broke from him. I went, however, to my own room, for I was too much agitated to follow Mrs. Selwyn. Good God, my dear Sir, what a scene! surely the meeting for which I shall prepare to-morrow cannot so greatly affect me! To be loved by Lord Orville,-to be the honoured choice of his noble heart,-my happiness seemed too infinite to be borne, and I wept, even bitterly I wept, from the excess of joy which overpowered me.
In this state of almost painful felicity I continued till I was summoned to tea. When I re-entered the drawing room, I rejoiced much to find it full of company, as the confusion with which I met Lord Orville was rendered the less observable.
Immediately after tea, most of the company played at cards,-and then-till supper time, Lord Orville devoted himself wholly to me.
He saw that my eyes were red, and would not let me rest till he made me confess the cause; and when, though most reluctantly, I had acknowledged my weakness, I could with difficulty refrain from weeping again at the gratitude he expressed.
He earnestly desired to know if my journey could not be postponed! and when I no, entreated permission to attend me to town.
"Oh, my Lord," cried I, "what a request!"
"The sooner," answered he, "I make my devotion to you in public, the sooner I may expect, from your delicacy, you will convince the world you encourage no mere danglers."
"You teach me, then, my Lord, the inference I might expect, if
"And can you wonder I should seek to hasten the happy time, when no scruples, no discretion will demand our separation? and the most punctilious delicacy will rather promote, than oppose, my happiness in attending you?"
To this I was silent, and he re-urged his request.
"My Lord," said I, "you ask what I have no power to grant. This journey will deprive me of all right to act for myself."
"What does Miss Anville mean?"
"I cannot now explain myself; indeed, if I could, the task would be both painful and tedious."
"O, Miss Anville," cried he, "when may I hope to date the period of this mystery? when flatter myself that my promised friend will indeed honour me with her confidence?"
"My Lord," said I, "I mean not to affect any mystery,-but my affairs are so circumstanced, that a long and most unhappy story can alone explain them. However, if a short suspense will give your Lordship any uneasiness,-"
"My beloved Miss Anville," cried he, eagerly, "pardon my impatience!-You shall tell me nothing you would wish to conceal,-I will wait your own time for information, and trust to your goodness for its speed."
"There is nothing, my Lord, I wish to conceal,-to postpone an explanation is all I desire."
He then requested, that, since I would not allow him to accompany me to town, I would permit him to write to me, and promise to answer his letters.
A sudden recollection of the two letters which had already passed between us occurring to me, I hastily answered, "No, indeed, my Lord!-"
"I am extremely sorry," said he, gravely, "that you think me too presumptuous. I must own I had flattered myself, that, to soften the inquietude of an absence, which seems attended by so many inexplicable circumstances, would not have been to incur your displeasure." This seriousness hurt me; and I could not forbear saying, "Can you indeed desire, my Lord, that I should, a second time, expose myself, by an unguarded readiness, to write to you?"
"A second time! unguarded readiness!" repeated he; "you amaze me!"
"Has your Lordship then quite forgot the foolish letter I was so imprudent as to send you when in town?"
"I have not the least idea," cried he, "of what you mean."
"Why then, my Lord," said I, "we had better let the subject drop."
"Impossible!" cried he, "I cannot rest without an explanation!"
And then, he obliged me to speak very openly of both the letters: but, my dear Sir, imagine my surprise, when he assured me, in the most solemn manner, that, far from having ever written me a single line, he had never received, seen, or heard of my letter!
This subject, which caused mutual astonishment and perplexity to us both, entirely engrossed us for the rest of the evening; and he made me promise to show him the letter I had received in his name to-morrow morning, that he might endeavour to discover the author.
After supper, the conversation became general.
And now, my dearest Sir, may I not call for your congratulations upon the events of this day? a day never to be recollected by me but with the most grateful joy! I know how much you are inclined to think well of Lord Orville; I cannot, therefore, apprehend that my frankness to him will displease you. Perhaps the time is not very distant, when your Evelina's choice may receive the sanction of her best friend's judgment and approbation,-which seems now all she has to wish!
In regard to the change in my situation which must first take place,
surely I cannot be blamed for what has passed! the partiality of Lord
Orville must not only reflect honour upon me, but upon all to whom
I do, or may belong.
Adieu, most dear Sir, I will write again when I arrive at London.
EVELINA IN CONTINUATION. Clifton, Oct. 7th.
YOU will see, my dear Sir, that I was mistaken in supposing I should write no more from this place, where my residence now seems more uncertain than ever.
This morning, during breakfast, Lord Orville took an opportunity to beg me, in a low voice, to allow him a moment's conversation before I left Clifton; "May I hope," added he, "that you will stroll into the garden after breakfast?"
I made no answer, but I believe my looks gave no denial; for, indeed, I much wished to be satisfied concerning the letter. The moment, therefore, that I could quit the parlour, I ran up stairs for my calash; but, before I reached my room, Mrs. Selwyn called after me, "If you are going to walk, Miss Anville, be so good as to bid Jenny bring down my hat, and I'll accompany you."
Very much disconcerted, I turned into the drawing-room, without making any answer, and there I hoped to wait unseen, till she had otherwise disposed of herself. But, in a few minutes, the door opened, and Sir Clement Willoughby entered.
Starting at the sight of him, in rising hastily, I let drop the letter which I had brought for Lord Orville's inspection, and, before I could recover it, Sir Clement, springing forward, had it in his hand. He was just presenting it to me, and, at the same time, enquiring after my health, when the signature caught his eye, and he read aloud, "Orville."
I endeavoured, eagerly, to snatch it from him, but he would not permit me; and, holding it fast, in a passionate manner exclaimed, "Good God, Miss Anville, is it possible you can value such a letter as this?"
The question surprised and confounded me, and I was too much ashamed to answer him; but, finding he made an attempt to secure it, I prevented him, and vehemently demanded him to return it.
"Tell me first," said he, holding it above my reach, "tell me if you have since received any more letters from the same person?"
"No, indeed," cried I, "never!"
"And will you also, sweetest of women, promise that you never will receive any more? Say that, and you will make me the happiest of men."
"Sir Clement," cried I, greatly confused, "pray give me the letter."
"And will you not first satisfy my doubts?-will you not relieve me from the torture of the most distracting suspense?-tell me but that the detested Orville has written to you no more!"
"Sir Clement," cried I, angrily, "you have no right to make any conditions,-so pray give me the letter directly."
"Why such solicitude about this hateful letter? can it possibly deserve your eagerness? tell me, with truth, with sincerity tell me, does it really merit the least anxiety?"
"No matter, Sir," cried I, in great perplexity, "the letter is mine, and therefore-"
"I must conclude, then," said he, "that the letter deserves your utmost contempt,-but that the name of Orville is sufficient to make you prize it."
"Sir Clement," cried I, colouring, "you are quite-you are very much-the letter is not-"
"O, Miss Anville," cried he, "you blush!-you stammer!-Great Heaven! it is then all as I feared!"
"I know not," cried I, half-frightened, "what you mean; but I beseech you to give me the letter, and to compose yourself."
"The letter," cried he, gnashing his teeth, "you shall never see more! You ought to have burnt it the moment you had read it!" And in an instant he tore it into a thousand pieces.
Alarmed at a fury so indecently outrageous, I would have run out of the room; but he caught hold of my gown, and cried, "Not yet, not yet must you go! I am but half-mad yet, and you must stay to finish your work. Tell me, therefore, does Orville know your fatal partiality?-Say yes," added he, trembling with passion, "and I will fly you for ever!"
"For Heaven's sake, Sir Clement," cried I, "release me!-if you do not, you will force me to call for help."
"Call then," cried he, "inexorable and most unfeeling girl; call, if you please, and bid all the world witness your triumph;-but could ten worlds obey your call, I would not part from you till you had answered me. Tell me, then, does Orville know you love him?"
At any other time, an enquiry so gross would have given me inexpressible confusion; but now, the wildness of his manner terrified me, and I only said, "Whatever you wish to know, Sir Clement, I will tell you another time; but, for the present, I entreat you to let me go!"
"Enough," cried he, "I understand you!-the art of Orville has prevailed;-cold, inanimate, phlegmatic as he is, you have rendered him the most envied of men!-One thing more, and I have done:-Will he marry you?"
What a question! my cheeks glowed with indignation, and I felt too proud to make any answer.
"I see, I see how it is," cried he, after a short pause, "and I find I am undone for ever!" Then, letting loose my gown, he put his hand to his forehead, and walked up and down the room in a hasty and agitated manner.
Though now at liberty to go, I had not the courage to leave him: for his evident distress excited all my compassion. And this was our situation, when Lady Louisa, Mr Coverley, and Mrs. Beaumont entered the room.
"Sir Clement Willoughby," said the latter, "I beg your pardon for making you wait so long, but-"
She had not time for another word; Sir Clement, too much disordered to know or care what he did, snatched up his hat, and, brushing hastily past her, flew down stairs, and out of the house.
And with him went my sincerest pity, though I earnestly hope I shall see him no more. But what, my dear Sir, am I to conclude from his strange speeches concerning the letter? Does it not seem as if he was himself the author of it? How else should he be so well acquainted with the contempt it merits? Neither do I know another human being who could serve any interest by such a deception. I remember, too, that just as I had given my own letter to the maid, Sir Clement came into the shop: probably he prevailed upon her, by some bribery, to give it to him; and afterwards, by the same means, to deliver to me an answer of his own writing. Indeed I can in no other manner account for this affair. Oh, Sir Clement, were you not yourself unhappy, I know not how I could pardon an artifice that has caused me so much uneasiness!
His abrupt departure occasioned a kind of general consternation.
"Very extraordinary behavior this!" cried Mrs. Beaumont.
"Egad," said Mr. Coverley, "the baronet has a mind to tip us a touch of the heroics this morning!"
"I declare," cried Miss Louisa, "I never saw any thing so monstrous in my life! it's quite abominable;-I fancy the man's mad;-I'm sure he has given me a shocking fright!"
Soon after, Mrs. Selwyn came up stairs with Lord Merton. The former, advancing hastily to me, said, "Miss Anville, have you an almanack?"
"Who has one, then?"
"Egad," cried Mr. Coverley, "I never bought one in my life; it would make me quite melancholy to have such a time-keeper in my pocket. I would as soon walk all day before an hour-glass."
"You are in the right," said Mrs. Selwyn, "not to watch time, lest you should be betrayed, unawares, into reflecting how you employ it."
"Egad, Ma'am," cried he, "if Time thought no more of me than I do of Time, I believe I should bid defiance, for one while, to old age and wrinkles; for deuce take me, if ever I think about it at all."
"Pray, Mr. Coverley," said Mrs. Selwyn, "why do you think it necessary to tell me this so often?"
"Often!" repeated he; "Egad, Madam, I don't know why I said it now;-but
I'm sure I can't recollect that ever I owned as much before."
"Owned it before!" cried she, "why, my dear Sir, you own it all day long; for every word, every look, every action proclaims it."
I now not if he understood the full severity of her satire, but he only turned off with a laugh: and she then applied to Mr. Lovel, and asked if he had an almanack?
Mr. Lovel, who always looks alarmed when she addresses him, with some hesitation answered, "I assure you, Ma'am, I have no manner of antipathy to an almanack,-none in the least,-I assure you;-I dare say I have four or five."
"Four or five!-pray, may I ask what use you make of so many?"
"Use!-really, Ma'am, as to that,-I don't make any particular use of them; but one must have them, to tell one the day of the month:-I'm sure, else I should never keep it in my head."
"And does your time pass so smoothly unmarked, that, without an almanack, you could not distinguish one day from another?"
"Really, Ma'am," cried he, colouring, "I don't see anything so very particular in having a few almanacks; other people have them, I believe, as well as me."
"Don't be offended," cried she, "I have but made a little digression. All I want to know is, the state of the moon;-for if it is at the full, I shall be saved a world of conjectures, and know at once to what cause to attribute the inconsistencies I have witnessed this morning. In the first place, I heard Lord Orville excuse himself from going out, because he had business of importance to transact at home;-yet have I seen him sauntering alone in the garden this half hour. Miss Anville, on the other hand, I invited to walk out with me; and, after seeking her every where round the house, I find her quietly seated in the drawing-room. And, but a few minutes since, Sir Clement Willoughby, with even more than his usual politeness, told me he was come to spend the morning here;-when, just now, I met him flying down stairs, as if pursued by the Furies; and far from repeating his compliments, or making any excuse, he did not even answer a question I asked him, but rushed past me, with the rapidity of a thief from a bailiff!"
"I protest," said Mrs. Beaumont, "I can't think what he meant; such rudeness, from a man of any family, is quite incomprehensible."
"My Lord," cried Lady Louisa to Lord Merton, "do you know he did the same by me?-I was just going to ask him what was the matter; but he ran past me so quick, that I declare he quite dazzled my eyes. You can't think, my Lord, how he frightened me; I dare say I look as pale-don't I look very pale, my Lord?"
"Your Ladyship," said Mr. Lovel, "so well becomes the lilies, that the roses might blush to see themselves so excelled."
"Pray, Mr. Lovel," said Mrs. Selwyn," if the roses should blush, how would you find it out?"
"Egad," cried Mr. Coverley, "I suppose they must blush, as the saying is, like a blue dog,-for they are red already."
"Prithee, Jack," said Lord Merton, "don't you pretend to talk about blushes, that never knew what they were in your life."
"My Lord," said Mrs. Selwyn, "if experience alone can justify mentioning them, what an admirable treatise upon the subject may we not expect from your Lordship!"
"O, pray, Ma'am," answered he, "stick to Jack Coverley,-he's your only man; for my part, I confess I have a mortal aversion to arguments."
"O, fie, my Lord," cried Mrs. Selwyn, "a senator of the nation! a member of the noblest parliament in the world!-and yet neglect the art of oratory!"
"Why, faith, my Lord," said Mr. Lovel, "I think, in general, your House is not much addicted to study; we of the Lower House have indubitably most application; and, if I did not speak before a superior power (bowing to Lord Merton) I should presume to add, we have likewise the most able speakers."
"Mr. Lovel," said Mrs. Selwyn, "you deserve immortality for that discovery! But for this observation, and the confession of Lord Merton, I protest that I should have supposed that a peer of the realm, and an able logician, were synonymous terms."
Lord Merton, turning upon his heel, asked Lady Louisa if she would take the air before dinner?
"Really," answered she, "I don't know;-I'm afraid it's monstrous hot; besides (putting her hand to her forehead) I an't half well; it's quite horrid to have such weak nerves!-the least thing in the world discomposes me: I declare, that man's oddness has given me such a shock,-I don't know when I shall recover from it. But I'm a sad, weak creature;-don't you think I am, my Lord?"
"O, by no means," answered he, "your Ladyship is merely delicate,-and devil take me if ever I had the least passion for an Amazon."
"I have the honour to be quite of your Lordship's opinion," said Mr. Lovel, looking maliciously at Mrs. Selwyn; "for I have an insuperable aversion to strength, either of body or mind, in a female."
"Faith, and so have I," said Mr. Coverley; "for egad, I'd as soon see a woman chop wood, as hear her chop logic."
"So would every man in his senses," said Lord Merton, "for a woman wants nothing to recommend her but beauty and good-nature; in everything else she is either impertinent or unnatural. For my part, deuce take me if ever I wish to hear a word of sense from a woman as long as I live!"
"It has always been agreed," said Mrs. Selwyn, looking round her with the utmost contempt, "that no man ought to be connected with a woman whose understanding is superior to his own. Now I very much fear, that to accommodate all this good company, according to such a rule, would be utterly impracticable, unless we should choose subjects from Swift's hospital of idiots."
How many enemies, my dear Sir, does this unbounded severity excite! Lord Merton, however, only whistled; Mr. Coverley sang; and Mr. Lovel, after biting his lips, said "'Pon honour, that lady-if she was not a lady-I should be half tempted to observe,-that there is something,-in such severity,-that is rather, I must say,-rather oddish."
Just then a servant brought Lady Louisa a note upon a waiter, which is a ceremony always used to her Ladyship; and I took the opportunity of this interruption to the conversation to steal out of the room.
I went immediately to the parlour, which I found quite empty; for I did not dare walk in the garden, after what Mrs. Selwyn had said.
In a few minutes a servant announced Mr. Macartney; saying, as he entered the room, that he would acquaint Lord Orville he was there.
Mr. Macartney rejoiced much at finding me alone. He told me he had taken the liberty to enquire for Lord Orville, by way of pretext for coming to the house.
I then very eagerly enquired if he had seen his father.
"I have, Madam," said he, "and the generous compassion you have shown made me hasten to acquaint you, that, upon reading my unhappy mother's letter, he did not hesitate to acknowledge me."
"Good God," cried I, with no little emotion, "how similar are our circumstances! And did he receive you kindly?"
"I could not, Madam, expect that he would; the cruel, transaction, which obliged me to fly to Paris, was recent in his memory."
"And,-have you seen the young lady?"
"No, Madam," said he, mournfully, "I was forbid her sight."
"Forbid her sight!-and why?"
"Partly, perhaps, from prudence,-and partly from the remains of a resentment which will not easily subside. I only requested leave to acquaint her with my relationship, and to be allowed to call her sister;-but it was denied me! 'You have no sister,' said Sir John, 'you must forget her existence.' Hard and vain command!"
"You have-you have a sister!" cried I, from an impulse of pity, which I could not repress; "a sister who is most warmly interested in your welfare, and who only wants opportunity to manifest her friendship and regard."
"Gracious Heaven!" cried he, "what does Miss Anville mean?"
"Anville," said I, "is not my real name; Sir John Belmont is my father,-he is your's,-and I am your sister!-You see, therefore, the claim we mutually have to each other's regard; we are not merely bound by the ties of friendship, but by those of blood. I feel for you, already, all the affection of a sister; I felt it, indeed, before I knew I was one.-Why, my dear brother, do you not speak?-do you hesitate to acknowledge me?"
"I am so lost in astonishment," cried he, "that I know not if I hear right!"-
"I have, then, found a brother," cried I, holding out my hand, "and he will not own me!"
"Own you!-Oh, Madam," cried he, accepting my offered hand, "is it indeed possible you can own me? -a poor, wretched adventurer! who so lately had no support but from your generosity?-whom your benevolence snatched from utter destruction?-Can you,-Oh, Madam, can you, indeed, and without a blush, condescend to own such an outcast for a brother?"
"Oh, forbear, forbear," cried I, "is this language proper for a sister? are we not reciprocally bound to each other?-Will you not suffer me to expect from you all the good offices in your power?-But tell me, where is our father at present?"
"At the Hot-Wells, Madam; he arrived there yesterday morning."
I would have proceeded with further questions, but the entrance of
Lord Orville prevented me. The moment he saw us, he started, and
would have retreated; but, drawing my hand from Mr. Macartney's,
I begged him to come in.
For a few moments we were all silent, and, I believe, all in equal confusion. Mr. Macartney, however, recollecting himself said "I hope your Lordship will forgive the liberty I have taken in making use of your name."
Lord Orville, rather coldly, bowed, but said nothing.
Again we were all silent, and then Mr. Macartney took leave.
"I fancy," said Lord Orville, when he was gone, "I have shortened Mr.
"No, my Lord, not at all."
"I had presumed," said he, with some hesitation, "I should have seen Miss Anville in the garden;-but I knew not she was so much better engaged."
Before I could answer, a servant came to tell me the chaise was ready, and that Mrs. Selwyn was enquiring for me.
"I will wait on her immediately," cried I, and away I was running; but Lord Orville, stopping me, said, with great emotion, "Is it thus, Miss Anville, you leave me?"
"My Lord," cried I, "how can I help it?-perhaps, soon, some better opportunity may offer-"
"Good Heaven!" cried he, "do you take me for a Stoic! what better opportunity may I hope for?-is not the chaise come?-are you not going? have you even deigned to tell me whither?"
"My journey, my Lord, will now be deferred. Mr. Macartney has brought me intelligence which renders it at present unnecessary."
"Mr. Macartney," said he, gravely, "seems to have great influence;-yet he is a very young counsellor."
"Is it possible, my Lord, Mr. Macartney can give you the least uneasiness?"
"My dearest Miss Anville," said he, taking my hand, "I see, and I adore the purity of your mind, superior as it is to all little arts, and all apprehensions of suspicion; and I should do myself, as well as you, injustice, if I were capable of harbouring the smallest doubts of that goodness which makes you mine forever: nevertheless, pardon me, if I own myself surprised,-nay, alarmed, at these frequent meetings with so young a man as Mr. Macartney."
"My Lord," cried I, eager to clear myself, "Mr. Macartney is my brother."
"Your brother! you amaze me!-What strange mystery, then, makes his relationship a secret?"
Just then Mrs. Selwyn opened the door. "O, you are here!" cried she: "Pray, is my Lord so kind as to assist you in preparing for your journey, or in retarding it?"
"I should be most happy," said Lord Orville, smiling, "if it were in my power to do the latter."
I then acquainted her with Mr. Macartney's communication.
She immediately ordered the chaise away: and then took me into her own room, to consider what should be done.
A few minutes sufficed to determine her; and she wrote the following note.
"To Sir John Belmont, Bart."
"MRS. SELWYN presents her compliments to Sir John Belmont; and, if he is at leisure, will be glad to wait on him this morning, upon business of importance."
She then ordered her man to enquire at the pump-room for a direction; and went herself to Mrs. Beaumont to apologize for deferring her journey.
An answer was presently returned, that Sir John would be glad to see her.
She would have had me immediately accompany her to the Hot-Wells; but I entreated her to spare me the distress of so abrupt an introduction, and to pave the way for my reception. She consented rather reluctantly, and, attended only by her servant, walked to the Wells.
She was not absent two hours; yet so miserably did time seem to linger, that I thought a thousand accidents had happened, and feared she would never return. I passed the whole time in my own room, for I was too much agitated even to converse with Lord Orville.
The instant that, from my window, I saw her returning, I flew down stairs, and met her in the garden.
We both walked to the arbour.
Her looks, in which both disappointment and anger were expressed, presently announced to me the failure of her embassy. Finding that she did not speak, I asked her, in a faltering voice, whether or not I had a father?
"You have not, my dear!" said she abruptly.
"Very well, Madam," said I, with tolerable calmness, "let the chaise then be ordered again;-I will go to Berry Hill;-and there, I trust, I shall still find one!"
It was some time ere she could give, or I could hear, the account of her visit; and then she related it in a hasty manner; yet, I believe I can recollect every word.
"I found Sir John alone. He received me with the utmost politeness. I did not keep him a moment in suspense as to the purport of my visit. But I had no sooner made it known, than, with a supercilious smile, he said, 'And have you, Madam, been prevailed upon to revive that ridiculous old story?' Ridiculous, I told him, was a term which he would find no one else do him the favour to make use of, in speaking of the horrible actions belonging to the old story he made so light of; 'actions' continued I, 'which would dye still deeper the black annals of Nero or Caligula.' He attempted in vain to rally; for I pursued him with all the severity in my power, and ceased not painting the enormity of his crime till I stung him to the quick, and, in a voice of passion and impatience, he said, 'No more, Madam,-this is not a subject upon which I need a monitor.' 'Make then,' cried I, 'the only reparation in your power.-Your daughter is now at Clifton; send for her hither; and, in the face of the world, proclaim the legitimacy of her birth, and clear the reputation of your injured wife.' 'Madam,' said he, 'you are much mistaken, if you suppose I waited for the honour of this visit before I did what little justice now depends upon me, to the memory of that unfortunate woman: her daughter has been my care from her infancy; I have taken her into my house; she bears my name; and she will be my sole heiress.' For some time this assertion appeared so absurd, that I only laughed at it: but, at last, he assured me, I had myself been imposed upon; for that very woman who attended Lady Belmont in her last illness, conveyed the child to him while he was in London, before she was a year old. 'Unwilling,' he added, 'at that time to confirm the rumour of my being married, I sent the woman with the child to France: as soon as she was old enough, I put her into a convent, where she has been properly educated, and now I have taken her home. I have acknowledged her for my lawful child, and paid, at length, to the memory of her unhappy mother a tribute of fame, which has made me wish to hide myself hereafter from all the world.' This whole story sounded so improbable, that I did not scruple to tell him I discredited every word. He then rung his bell; and, enquiring if his hair-dresser was come, said he was sorry to leave me; but that, if I would favour him with my company to-morrow, he would do himself the honour of introducing Miss Belmont to me, instead of troubling me to introduce her to him. I rose in great indignation; and assuring him I would make his conduct as public as it was infamous-I left the house."
Good Heaven, how strange the recital! how incomprehensible an affair! The Miss Belmont then who is actually at Bristol, passes for the daughter of my unhappy mother!-passes, in short, for your Evelina! Who she can be, or what this tale can mean, I have not any idea.
Mrs. Selwyn soon after left me to my own reflections. Indeed they were not very pleasant. Quietly as I had borne her relation, the moment I was alone I felt most bitterly both the disgrace and sorrow of a rejection so cruelly inexplicable.
I know not how long I might have continued in this situation, had
I not been awakened from my melancholy reverie by the voice of Lord
Orville. "May I come in," cried he, "or shall I interrupt you?"
I was silent, and he seated himself next me.
"I fear," he continued, "Miss Anville will think I persecute her: yet so much as I have to say, and so much as I wish to hear, with so few opportunities for either, she cannot wonder-and I hope she will not be offended-that I seize with such avidity every moment in my power to converse with her. You are grave," added he, taking my hand; "I hope the pleasure it gives to me, will not be a subject of pain to you? -You are silent!-Something, I am sure, has afflicted you:-would to Heaven I were able to console you!-Would to Heaven I were worthy to participate in your sorrows!"
My heart was too full to bear this kindness, and I could only answer by my tears. "Good Heaven," cried he, "how you alarm me!-My love, my sweet Miss Anville, deny me no longer to be the sharer of your griefs!-tell me, at least, that you have not withdrawn your esteem!-that you do not repent the goodness you have shown me!-that you still think me the same grateful Orville, whose heart you have deigned to accept!"
"Oh, my Lord," cried I, "your generosity overpowers me!" And I wept like an infant. For now, that all my hopes of being acknowledged seemed finally crushed, I felt the nobleness of his disinterested regard so forcibly, that I could scarce breathe under the weight of gratitude which oppressed me.
He seemed greatly shocked; and, in terms the most flattering, the most respectfully tender, he at once soothed my distress, and urged me to tell him its cause.
"My Lord," said I, when I was able to speak, "you little know what an outcast you have honoured with your choice!-a child of bounty,-an orphan from infancy,-dependant, even for subsistence, dependent, upon the kindness of compassion!-Rejected by my natural friends,-disowned for ever by my nearest relation,-Oh, my Lord, so circumstanced, can I deserve the distinction with which you honour me? No, no, I feel the inequality too painfully;-you must leave me, my Lord; you must suffer me to return to obscurity; and there, in the bosom of my first, best, my only friend,-I will pour forth all the grief of my heart!-while you, my Lord, must seek elsewhere-"
I could not proceed; my whole soul recoiled against the charge I would have given, and my voice refused to utter it.
"Never," cried he, warmly, "my heart is your's, and I swear to you an attachment eternal!-You prepare me, indeed, for a tale of horror, and I am almost breathless with expectation;-but so firm is my conviction, that, whatever are your misfortunes, to have merited them is not of the number, that I feel myself more strongly, more invincibly devoted to you than ever!-Tell me but where I may find this noble friend, whose virtues you have already taught me to reverence,-and I will fly to obtain his consent and intercession, that henceforward our fates my be indissolubly united;-and then shall it be the sole study of my life to endeavor to soften your past,-and guard you from future misfortunes!"
I had just raised my eyes to answer this most generous of men, when the first object they met was Mrs. Selwyn.
"So, my dear," cried she, "what, still courting the rural shades!-I thought ere now you would have been satiated with this retired seat, and I have been seeking you all over the house. But I find the only way to meet with you,-is to enquire for Lord Orville. However, don't let me disturb your meditation; you are possibly planning some pastoral dialogue."
And, with this provoking speech, she walked on.
In the greatest confusion I was quitting the arbour, when Lord Orville said, "Permit me to follow Mrs. Selwyn;-it is time to put an end to all impertinent conjectures; will you allow me to speak to her openly?"
I assented in silence, and he left me.
I then went to my own room, where I continued till I was summoned to dinner; after which, Mrs. Selwyn invited me to hers.
The moment she had shut the door, "Your Ladyship'" said she, "will,
I hope, be seated."
"Ma'am!" cried I, staring.
"O the sweet innocent! So you don't know what I mean?-but, my dear, my sole view is to accustom you a little to your dignity elect, lest, when you are addressed by your title, you should look another way, from an apprehension of listening to a discourse not meant for you to hear."
Having, in this manner, diverted herself with my confusion, till her raillery was almost exhausted, she congratulated me very seriously upon the partiality of Lord Orville, and painted to me, in the strongest terms, his disinterested desire of being married to me immediately. She had told him, she said, my whole story, and yet he was willing, nay eager, that our union should take place of any further application to my family. "Now, my dear," continued she, "I advise you by all means to marry him directly; nothing can be more precarious than our success with Sir John; and the young men of this age are not to be trusted with too much time for deliberation, where their interests are concerned."
"Good God, Madam," cried I, "do you think I would hurry Lord Orville?"
"Well, do as you will," said she, "luckily you have an excellent subject for Quixotism;-otherwise this delay might prove your ruin; but Lord Orville is almost as romantic as if he had been born and bred at Berry Hill."
She then proposed, as no better expedient seemed likely to be suggested, that I should accompany her at once in her visit to the Hot-Wells to-morrow morning.
The very idea made me tremble; yet she represented so strongly the necessity of pursuing this unhappy affair with spirit, or giving it totally up, that, wanting her force of argument, I was almost obliged to yield to her proposal.
In the evening we all walked in the garden; and Lord Orville, who never quitted my side, told me he had been listening to a tale, which though it had removed the perplexities that had so long tormented him, had penetrated him with sorrow and compassion. I acquainted him with Mrs. Selwyn's plan for to-morrow, and confessed the extreme terror it gave me. He then, in a manner almost unanswerable, besought me to leave to him the conduct of the affair, by consenting to be his before an interview took place.
I could not but acknowledge my sense of his generosity; but I told him I was wholly dependent upon you; and that I was certain your opinion would be the same as mine; which was, that it would be highly improper I should dispose of myself for ever, so very near the time which must finally decide by whose authority I ought to be guided. The subject of this dreaded meeting, with the thousand conjectures and apprehensions to which it gives birth, employed all our conversation then, as it has all my thoughts since.
Heaven only knows how I shall support myself, when the long expected-the wished-yet terrible moment arrives, that will prostrate me at the feet of the nearest, the most reverenced of all relations, whom my heart yearns to know, and longs to love!
EVELINA IN CONTINUATION. Oct. 9th.
I COULD not write yesterday, so violent was the agitation of my mind;-but I will not, now, lose a moment till I have hastened to my best friend an account of the transactions of a day I can never recollect without emotion.
Mrs. Selwyn determined upon sending no message, "Lest," said she, "Sir John, fatigued with the very idea of my reproaches, should endeavour to avoid a meeting. He cannot but see who you are, whether he will do you justice or not."
We went early, and in Mrs. Beaumont's chariot; into which Lord Orville, uttering words of the kindest encouragement, handed us both.
My uneasiness, during the ride, was excessive; but, when we stopped at the door, I was almost senseless with terror! the meeting, at last, was not so dreadful as that moment! I believe I was carried into the house; but I scarce recollect what was done with me: however, I know we remained some time in the parlour before Mrs. Selwyn could send any message up stairs.
When I was somewhat recovered, I intreated her to let me return home, assuring her I felt myself quite unequal to supporting the interview.
"No," said she; "you must stay now: your fears will but gain strength by delay; and we must not have such a shock as this repeated." Then, turning to the servant, she sent up her name.
An answer was brought, that he was going out in great haste, but would attend her immediately. I turned so sick, that Mrs. Selwyn was apprehensive I should have fainted; and, opening a door which led to an inner apartment, she begged me to wait there till I was somewhat composed, and till she had prepared for my reception.
Glad of every moment's reprieve, I willingly agreed to the proposal; and Mrs. Selwyn had but just time to shut me in, before her presence was necessary.
The voice of a father -Oh, dear and revered name!-which then, for the first time, struck my ears, affected me in a manner I cannot describe, though it was only employed in giving orders to a servant as he came down stairs.
Then, entering the parlour, I heard him say, "I am sorry, Madam, I made you wait; but I have an engagement which now calls me away: however, if you have any commands for me, I shall be glad of the honour of your company some other time."
"I am come, Sir," said Mrs. Selwyn, "to introduce your daughter to you."
"I am infinitely obliged to you," answered he; "but I have just had the satisfaction of breakfasting with her. Ma'am, your most obedient."
"You refuse, then, to see her?"
"I am much indebted to you, Madam, for this desire of increasing my family; but you must excuse me if I decline taking advantage of it. I have already a daughter, to whom I owe everything; and it is not three days since that I had the pleasure of discovering a son: how many more sons and daughters may be brought to me, I am yet to learn; but I am already perfectly satisfied with the size of my family."
"Had you a thousand children, Sir John," said Mrs. Selwyn, "this only one, of which Lady Belmont was the mother, ought to be most distinguished; and, far from avoiding her sight, you should thank your stars, in humble gratitude, that there yet remains in your power the smallest opportunity of doing the injured wife you have destroyed, the poor justice of acknowledging her child!"
"I am very unwilling, Madam," answered he, "to enter into any discussion of this point; but you are determined to compel me to speak. There lives not at this time the human being, who should talk to me of the regret due to the memory of that ill-fated woman; no one can feel it so severely as myself; but let me, nevertheless, assure you, I have already done all that remained in my power to prove the respect she merited from me: her child I have educated, and owned for my lawful heiress: if, madam, you can suggest to me any other means by which I may more fully do her justice, and more clearly manifest her innocence, name them to me; and, though they should wound my character still deeper, I will perform them readily."
"All this sounds vastly well," returned Mrs. Selwyn; "but I must own it is rather too enigmatical for my faculties of comprehension. You can, however, have no objection to seeing this young lady."
"None in the world."
"Come forth, then, my dear," cried she, opening the door; "come forth and see your father!" Then, taking my trembling hand, she led me forward. I would have withdrawn it and retreated; but, as he advanced instantly towards me, I found myself already before him.
What a moment for your Evelina-an involuntary scream escaped me, and, covering my face with my hands, I sunk on the floor.
He had, however, seen me first; for, in a voice scarce articulate, he exclaimed, "My God! does Caroline Evelyn still live!"
Mrs. Selwyn said something, but I could not listen to her; and in a few minutes he added, "Lift up thy head-if my sight has not blasted thee!-lift up thy head, thou image of my long lost Caroline!"
Affected beyond measure, I half arose, and embraced his knees, while yet on my own.
"Yes, yes," cried he, looking earnestly in my face, "I see, I see thou art her child! she lives-she breathes,-she is present to my view!-Oh, God, that she indeed lived!-Go, child, go," added he, wildly starting, and pushing me from him: "take her away, Madam,-I cannot bear to look at her!" And then, breaking hastily from me, he rushed out of the room.
Speechless, motionless myself, I attempted not to stop him; but Mrs. Selwyn, hastening after him, caught hold of his arm: "Leave me, Madam," cried he, with quickness, "and take care of the poor child:-bid her not think me unkind; tell her, I would at this moment plunge a dagger in my heart to serve her: but she has set my brain on fire; and I can see her no more!" Then, with a violence almost frantic, he ran up stairs.
Oh, Sir, had I not indeed cause to dread this interview?-an interview so unspeakably painful and afflicting to us both! Mrs. Selwyn would have immediately returned to Clifton; but I entreated her to wait some time, in the hope that my unhappy father, when his first emotion was over, would again bear me in his sight. However, he soon after sent his servant to enquire how I did; and to tell Mrs. Selwyn he was much indisposed, but would hope for the honour of seeing her to-morrow, at any time she would please to appoint.
She fixed upon ten o'clock in the morning; and then, with a heavy
got into the chariot. Those afflicting words, I can see her no
more! were never a moment absent from my mind.
Yet the sight of Lord Orville, who handed us from the carriage, gave some relief to the sadness of my thoughts. I could not, however, enter upon the painful subject; but, begging Mrs. Selwyn to satisfy him, I went to my own room.
As soon as I communicated to the good Mrs. Clinton the present
my affairs, an idea occurred to her which seemed to clear up all the
mystery of my having been so long disowned.
The woman, she says, who attended my ever-to-be-regretted mother in her last illness, and who nursed me the first four months of my life, soon after being discharged from your house, left Berry Hill entirely, with her baby, who was but six weeks older than myself. Mrs. Clinton remembers, that her quitting the place appeared, at the time, very extraordinary to the neighbours; but, as she was never heard of afterwards, she was by degrees quite forgotten.
The moment this was mentioned, it struck Mrs. Selwyn, as well as
herself, that my father had been imposed upon; and that the nurse, who
said she had brought his child to him, had, in fact, carried her own.
The name by which I was known, the secrecy observed in regard to my family, and the retirement in which I lived, all conspired to render this scheme, however daring and fraudulent, by no means impracticable; and, in short, the idea was no sooner started, than conviction seemed to follow it.
Mrs. Selwyn determined immediately to discover the truth or mistake
conjecture; therefore, the moment she had dined, she walked to the
Hot Wells, attended by Mrs. Clinton.
I waited in my room till her return; and then heard the following
She found my poor father in great agitation. She immediately informed him of the occasion of her so speedy return, and of her suspicions of the woman who had pretended to convey to him his child. Interrupting her with quickness, he said he had just sent her from his presence; that the certainty I carried in my countenance of my real birth, made him, the moment he had recovered from a surprise which had almost deprived him of reason, suspect, himself, the imposition she mentioned. He had therefore sent for the woman, and questioned her with the utmost austerity; she turned pale, and was extremely embarrassed; but still she persisted in affirming, that she had really brought him the daughter of Lady Belmont. His perplexity, he said, almost distracted him: he had always observed, that his daughter bore no resemblance to either of her parents; but, as he had never doubted the veracity of the nurse, this circumstance did not give birth to any suspicion.
At Mrs. Selwyn's desire, the woman was again called, and interrogated with equal art and severity; her confusion was evident, and her answers often contradictory; yet she still declared she was no impostor. "We will see that in a minute," said Mrs. Selwyn; and then desired Mrs. Clinton might be called up stairs. The poor wretch, changing colour, would have escaped out of the room; but, being prevented, dropt on her knees, and implored forgiveness. A confession of the whole affair was then extorted from her.
Doubtless, my dear Sir, you must remember Dame Green, who was my first nurse. The deceit she has practised was suggested, she says, by a conversation she overheard; in which my unhappy mother besought you, that, if her child survived her, you would take the sole care of its education; and, in particular, if it should be a female, you would by no means part with her in early life. You not only consented, she says, but assured her you would even retire abroad with me yourself, if my father should importunately demand me. Her own child, she said, was then in her arms; and she could not forbear wishing it were possible to give her the fortune which seemed so little valued for me. This wish once raised was not easily suppressed; on the contrary, what at first appeared a mere idle desire, in a short time seemed a feasible scheme. Her husband was dead, and she had little regard for any body but her child; and, in short, having saved money for the journey, she contrived to enquire a direction to my father; and, telling her neighbours she was going to settle in Devonshire, she set out on her expedition.
When Mrs. Selwyn asked her how she dared perpetrate such a fraud, she protested she had no ill designs; but that, as Miss would be never the worse for it, she thought it pity nobody should be the better.
Her success we are already acquainted with. Indeed everything seemed to contribute towards it: my father had no correspondent at Berry Hill; the child was instantly sent to France; where, being brought up in as much retirement as myself, nothing but accident could discover the fraud.
And here let me indulge myself in observing, and rejoicing to observe, that the total neglect I thought I met with was not the effect of insensibility or unkindness, but of imposition and error; and that, at the very time we concluded I was unnaturally rejected, my deluded father meant to show me most favour and protection.
He acknowledges that Lady Howard's letter flung him into some perplexity: he immediately communicated it to Dame Green, who confessed it was the greatest shock she had ever received in her life; yet she had the art and boldness to assert, that Lady Howard must herself have been deceived: and as she had, from the beginning of her enterprise, declared she had stolen away the child without your knowledge, he concluded that some deceit was then intended him; and this thought occasioned his abrupt answer.
Dame Green owned, that, from the moment the journey to England was settled, she gave herself up for lost. All her hope was to have had her daughter married before it took place; for which reason she had so much promoted Mr. Macartney's addresses; for though such a match was inadequate to the pretensions of Miss Belmont, she well knew it was far superior to those her daughter could form after the discovery of her birth.
My first enquiry was, if this innocent daughter was yet acquainted with the affair? "No," Mrs. Selwyn said; nor was any plan settled how to divulge it to her. Poor unfortunate girl! how hard is her fate! She is entitled to my kindest offices, and I shall always consider her as my sister.
I then asked whether my father would again allow me to see him!
"Why, no, my dear, not yet," answered she; "he declares the sight
of you is
too much for him: however, we are to settle everything concerning
you to-morrow; for this woman took up all our time to-day."
This morning, therefore, she is again gone to the Hot Wells. I am
all impatience for her return; but, as I know you will be anxious
for the account this letter contains, I will not delay sending it.
EVELINA IN CONTINUATION. October 9th.
HOW agitated, my dear Sir, is the present life of your Evelina! every
seems important, and one event only a prelude to another.
Mrs. Selwyn, upon her return this morning from the Hot Wells,
room very abruptly, said, "Oh, my dear, I have terrible news for you!"
"For me, Ma'am!-Good God! what now?"
"Arm yourself," cried she, "with all your Berry Hill philosophy;-con
every lesson of fortitude or resignation you ever learnt in your
life;-for know,-you are next week to be married to Lord Orville!"
Doubt, astonishment, and a kind of perturbation I cannot describe,
abrupt communication alarm me extremely; and, almost breathless,
I could only exclaim, "Good God, Madam, what do you tell me!"
"You may well be frightened, my dear," said she, ironically;
there is something mighty terrific in becoming, at once, the wife of
the man you adore,-and a Countess!"
I entreated her to spare her raillery, and tell me her real
could not prevail with herself to grant the first request, though
she readily complied with the second.
My poor father, she said, was still in the utmost uneasiness: he entered upon his affairs with great openness, and told her, he was equally disturbed how to dispose either of the daughter he had discovered, or the daughter he was now to give up; the former he dreaded to trust himself with again beholding, and the latter he knew not how to shock with the intelligence of her disgrace. Mrs. Selwyn then acquainted him with my situation in regard to Lord Orville: this delighted him extremely; and, when he heard of his Lordship's eagerness, he said he was himself of opinion, the sooner the union took place the better; and, in return, he informed her of the affair of Mr. Macartney. "And, after a very long conversation," continued Mrs. Selwyn, "we agreed, that the most eligible scheme for all parties would be, to have both the real and the fictitious daughter married without delay. Therefore, if either of you have any inclination to pull caps for the title of Miss Belmont, you must do it with all speed, as next week will take from both of you all pretensions to it."
"Next week!-dear Madam, what a strange plan!-without my being consulted,-without applying to Mr. Villars,-without even the concurrence of Lord Orville!"
"As to consulting you, my dear, it was out of all question; because, you know, young ladies' hearts and hands are always to be given with reluctance;-as to Mr. Villars, it is sufficient we know him for your friend;-and as for Lord Orville, he is a party concerned."
"A party concerned!-you amaze me!"
"Why, yes; for, as I found our consultation likely to redound to his advantage, I persuaded Sir John to send for him."
"Send for him!-Good God!"
"Yes; and Sir John agreed. I told the servant, that if he could not hear of his Lordship in the house, he might be pretty certain of encountering him in the arbour.-Why do you colour, my dear?-Well, he was with us in a moment: I introduced him to Sir John; and we proceeded to business."
"I am very, very sorry for it!-Lord Orville must himself think
"No, my dear, you are mistaken; Lord Orville has too much good sense. Everything was then discussed in a rational manner. You are to be married privately, though not secretly, and then go to one of his Lordship's country seats: and poor little Miss Green and your brother, who have no house of their own, must go to one of Sir John's."
"But why, my dear Madam, why all this haste? why may we not be
little longer time?"
"I could give you a thousand reasons," answered she, "but that I am tolerably certain two or three will be more than you can controvert, even with all the logic of genuine coquetry. In the first place, you doubtless wish to quit the house of Mrs. Beaumont: to whose, then, can you with such propriety remove as to Lord Orville's?"
"Surely, Madam," cried I, "I am not more destitute now than when
myself an orphan."
"Your father, my dear," answered she, "is willing to save the little impostor as much of the mortification of her disgrace as is in his power; now, if you immediately take her place, according to your right, as Miss Belmont, why, not all that either of you can do for her, will prevent her being eternally stigmatized as the bantling of Dame Green, wash-woman and wet nurse, of Berry Hill, Dorsetshire. Now such a genealogy will not be very flattering, even to Mr. Macartney, who, all-dismal as he is, you will find by no means wanting in pride and self-consequence."
"For the universe," interrupted I, "I would not be accessary to the degradation you mention; but surely, Madam, I may return to Berry Hill?"
"By no means," said she; "for though compassion may make us wish to save the poor girl the confusion of an immediate and public fall, yet justice demands you should appear henceforward in no other light than that of Sir John Belmont's daughter. Besides, between friends, I, who know the world, can see that half this prodigious delicacy for the little usurper is the mere result of self-interest; for, while her affairs are hushed up, Sir John's, you know, are kept from being brought further to light. Now the double marriage we have projected obviates all rational objections. Sir John will give you immediately L.30,000; all settlements, and so forth, will be made for you in the name of Evelina Belmont:-Mr. Macartney will at the same time take poor Polly Green; and yet, at first, it will only be generally known that a daughter of Sir John Belmont is married."
In this manner, though she did not convince me, yet the quickness of her arguments silenced and perplexed me. I enquired, however, if I might not be permitted to again see my father, or whether I must regard myself as banished his presence for ever?
"My dear," said she, "he does not know you: he concludes that you
brought up to detest him; and therefore he is rather prepared to
dread than to love you."
This answer made me very unhappy: I wished, most impatiently, to remove his prejudice, and endeavour, by dutiful assiduity, to engage his kindness; yet knew not how to propose seeing him, while conscious he wished to avoid me.
This evening, as soon as the company was engaged with cards, Lord Orville exerted his utmost eloquence to reconcile me to this hasty plan; but how was I startled when he told me that next Tuesday was the day appointed by my father to be the most important of my life!
"Next Tuesday!" repeated I, quite out of breath, "Oh, my Lord!-"
"My sweet Evelina," said he, "the day which will make me the happiest of mortals, would probably appear awful to you, were it to be deferred a twelvemonth. Mrs. Selwyn has, doubtless, acquainted you with the many motives which, independent of my eagerness, require it to be speedy; suffer, therefore, its acceleration, and generously complete my felicity, by endeavouring to suffer it without repugnance."
"Indeed, my Lord, I would not wilfully raise objections, nor do I desire to appear insensible of the honour of your good opinion;-but there is something in this plan-so very hasty-so unreasonably precipitate:-besides, I shall have no time to hear from Berry Hill;-and believe me, my Lord, I should be for ever miserable, were I, in an affair so important, to act without the sanction of Mr. Villars's advice."
He offered to wait on you himself: but I told him I had rather write
And then he proposed, that, instead of my immediately accompanying him
to Lincolnshire, we should first pass a month at my native Berry Hill.
This was, indeed, a grateful proposal to me, and I listened to it with undisguised pleasure. And, in short, I was obliged to consent to a compromise in merely deferring the day till Thursday! He readily undertook to engage my father's concurrence in this little delay; and I besought him, at the same time, to make use of his influence to obtain me a second interview, and to represent the deep concern I felt in being thus banished his sight.
He would then have spoken of settlements; but I assured him I
ignorant of the word.
And now, my dearest Sir, what is your opinion of these hasty proceedings? Believe me, I half regret the simple facility with which I have suffered myself to be hurried into compliance; and, should you start but the smallest objection, I will yet insist upon being allowed more time.
I must now write a concise account of the state of my affairs
Grove, and to Madame Duval.
Adieu, dearest and most honoured Sir! everything at present depends
single decision; to which, though I yield in trembling, I yield
EVELINA IN CONTINUATION. Oct. 11th.
YESTERDAY morning, as soon as breakfast was over, Lord Orville went
Hot Wells, to wait upon my father with my double petition.
Mrs. Beaumont then, in general terms, proposed a walk in the
Selwyn said she had letters to write; but Lady Louisa rose to
accompany Mrs. Beaumont.
I had had some reason to imagine, from the notice with which her Ladyship had honoured me during breakfast, that her brother had acquainted her with my present situation: and her behaviour now confirmed my conjectures: for, when I would have gone up stairs, instead of suffering me, as usual, to pass disregarded, she called after me with an affected surprise, "Miss Anville, don't you walk with us?"
There seemed something so little-minded in this sudden change of conduct, that, from an involuntary motion of contempt, I thanked her with a coldness like her own, and declined her offer. Yet, observing that she blushed extremely at my refusal, and recollecting she was sister to Lord Orville, my indignation subsided; and, upon Mrs. Beaumont repeating the invitation, I accepted it.
Our walk proved extremely dull: Mrs. Beaumont, who never says much, was more silent than usual; Lady Louisa strove in vain to lay aside the restraint and distance she has hitherto preserved; and, as to me, I was too conscious of the circumstances to which I owed their attention, to feel either pride or pleasure from receiving it.
Lord Orville was not long absent: he joined us in the garden with a look of gaiety and good humour that revived us all. "You are just the party," said he, "I wished to see together. Will you, Madam (taking my hand), allow me the honour of introducing you, by your real name, to two of my nearest relations? Mrs. Beaumont, give me leave to present to you the daughter of Sir John Belmont, a young lady who, I am sure, must long since have engaged your esteem and admiration, though you were a stranger to her birth."
"My Lord," said Mrs. Beaumont, graciously saluting me, "the young lady's rank in life, your Lordship's recommendation, or her own merit, would, any one of them, have been sufficient to have entitled her to my regard; and I hope she has always met with that respect in my house which is so much her due; though, had I been sooner made acquainted with her family, I should doubtless have better known how to have secured it."
"Miss Belmont," said Lord Orville, "can receive no lustre from family, whatever she may give to it. Louisa, you will, I am sure, be happy to make yourself an interest in the friendship of Miss Belmont, whom I hope shortly (kissing my hand, and joining it with her Ladyship's) to have the happiness of presenting to you by yet another name, and by the most endearing of all titles."
I believe it would be difficult to say whose cheeks were, at that moment, of the deepest dye, Lady Louisa's or my own; for the conscious pride with which she has hitherto slighted me, gave to her an embarrassment which equalled the confusion that an introduction so unexpected gave to me. She saluted me, however; and, with a faint smile said, "I shall esteem myself very happy to profit by the honour of Miss Belmont's acquaintance."
I only courtsied, and we walked on; but it was evident, from the
surprise they expressed, that they had been already informed of the
state of the affair.
We were soon after joined by more company: and Lord Orville then, in a low voice, took an opportunity to tell me the success of his visit. In the first place, Thursday was agreed to; and, in the second, my father, he said, was much concerned to hear of my uneasiness; sent me his blessing; and complied with my request of seeing him, with the same readiness he should agree to any other I could make. Lord Orville, therefore, settled that I should wait upon him in the evening, and, at his particular request, unaccompanied by Mrs. Selwyn.
This kind message, and the prospect of so soon seeing him, gave
of mixed pleasure and pain, which wholly occupied my mind till the
time of my going to the Hot Wells.
Mrs. Beaumont lent me her chariot, and Lord Orville absolutely insisted upon attending me. "If you go alone," said he, "Mrs. Selwyn will certainly be offended; but if you allow me to conduct you, though she may give the freer scope to her raillery, she cannot possibly be affronted: and we had much better suffer her laughter, than provoke her satire."
Indeed, I must own, I had no reason to regret being so accompanied; for his conversation supported my spirits from drooping, and made the ride seem so short, that we actually stopped at my father's door, before I knew we had proceeded ten yards.
He handed me from the carriage, and conducted me to the parlour,
at the door
of which I was met by Mr. Macartney. "Ah, my dear brother," cried I,
"how happy am I to see you here!"
He bowed, and thanked me. Lord Orville, then, holding out his hand,
"Mr. Macartney, I hope we shall be better acquainted; I promise myself
much pleasure from cultivating your friendship."
"Your Lordship does me but too much honour," answered Mr. Macartney.
"But where," cried I, "is my sister? for so I must already call, and always consider her:-I am afraid she avoids me;-you must endeavour, my dear brother, to prepossess her in my favour, and reconcile her to owning me."
"Oh, Madam," cried he, "you are all goodness and benevolence! but
I hope you will excuse her, for I fear she has hardly fortitude
sufficient to see you: in a short time perhaps-"
"In a very short time, then," said Lord Orville, "I hope you will yourself introduce her, and that we shall have the pleasure of wishing you both joy:-allow me, my Evelina, to say we, and permit me, in your name, as well as my own, to entreat that the first guests we shall have the happiness of receiving may be Mr. and Mrs. Macartney."
A servant then came to beg I would walk up stairs.
I besought Lord Orville to accompany me; but he feared the displeasure of Sir John, who had desired to see me alone. He led me, however, to the foot of the stairs, and made the kindest efforts to give me courage: but indeed he did not succeed; for the interview appeared to me in all its terrors, and left me no feeling but apprehension.
The moment I reached the landing-place, the drawing-room door was
my father, with a voice of kindness, called out, "My child, is it you?"
"Yes, Sir," cried I, springing forward, and kneeling at his feet,
"it is your
child, if you will own her!"
He knelt by my side, and, folding me in his arms, "Own thee," repeated he, "yes, my poor girl, and Heaven knows with what bitter contrition!" Then, raising both himself and me, he brought me into the drawing-room, shut the door, and took me to the window; where, looking at me with great earnestness, "Poor unhappy Caroline!" cried he; and, to my inexpressible concern, he burst into tears. Need I tell you, my dear Sir, how mine flowed at the sight?
I would again have embraced his knees; but, hurrying from me, he flung himself upon a sofa, and, leaning his face on his arms, seemed for some time absorbed in bitterness of grief.
I ventured not to interrupt a sorrow I so much respected; but waited in silence, and at a distance, till he recovered from its violence. But then it seemed in a moment to give way to a kind of frantic fury; for starting suddenly, with a sternness which at once surprised and frightened me, "Child," cried he, "hast thou yet sufficiently humbled thy father?-if thou hast, be contented with this proof of my weakness, and no longer force thyself into my presence!"
Thunderstruck by a command so unexpected, I stood still and
doubted whether my own ears did not deceive me.
"Oh go, go!" cried he, passionately; "in pity-in compassion,-if
thou valuest my senses, leave me,-and for ever!"
"I will, I will," cried I, greatly terrified; and I moved hastily towards the door: yet, stopping when I reached it, and, almost involuntarily, dropping on my knees, "Vouchsafe," cried I, "Oh, Sir, vouchsafe but once to bless your daughter, and her sight shall never more offend you!"
"Alas," cried he, in a softened voice, "I am not worthy to bless thee!-I am not worthy to call thee daughter!-I am not worthy that the fair light of Heaven should visit my eyes!-Oh God! that I could but call back the time ere thou wast born,-or else bury its remembrance in eternal oblivion!"
"Would to Heaven," cried I, "that the sight of me were less terrible
that, instead of irritating, I could soothe your sorrows!-Oh Sir, how
thankfully would I then prove my duty, even at the hazard of my life!"
"Are you so kind?" cried he, gently; "come hither, child;-rise, Evelina:-Alas, it is for me to kneel,-not you;-and I would kneel,-I would crawl upon the earth,-I would kiss the dust,-could I, by such submission, obtain the forgiveness of the representative of the most injured of women!"
"Oh, Sir," exclaimed I, "that you could but read my heart!-that you could but see the filial tenderness and concern with which it overflows!-you would not then talk thus,-you would not then banish me your presence, and exclude me from your affection!"
"Good God," cried he, "is it then possible that you do not hate me?-Can the child of the wronged Caroline look at,-and not execrate me? Wast thou not born to abhor, and bred to curse me? Did not thy mother bequeath thee her blessing on condition that thou should'st detest and avoid me ?"
"Oh no, no, no!" cried I; "think not so unkindly of her, nor so hardly of me." I then took from my pocketbook her last letter; and, pressing it to my lips, with a trembling hand, and still upon my knees, I held it out to him.
Hastily snatching it from me, "Great Heaven!" cried he, "'tis her
writing-Whence comes this?-who gave it you-why had I it not sooner?"
I made no answer; his vehemence intimidated me, and I ventured not
from the suppliant posture in which I had put myself.
He went from me to the window, where his eyes were for some time rivetted upon the direction of the letter, though his hand shook so violently he could hardly hold it. Then, bringing it to me, "Open it,"-cried he,-"for I cannot!"
I had myself hardly strength to obey him: but when I had, he took
and walked hastily up and down the room, as if dreading to read it. At
length, turning to me, "Do you know," cried he, "its contents?"
"No, Sir," answered I, "it has never been unsealed."
He then again went to the window, and began reading. Having hastily run it over, he cast up his eyes with a look of desperation; the letter fell from his hand, and he exclaimed, "Yes! thou art sainted!-thou art blessed!-and I am cursed for ever!" He continued some time fixed in this melancholy position; after which, casting himself with violence upon the ground, "Oh wretch," cried he, "unworthy life and light, in what dungeon canst thou hide thy head?"
I could restrain myself no longer; I rose and went to him; I did
speak; but, with pity and concern unutterable, I wept and hung
Soon after, starting up, he again seized the letter, exclaiming, "Acknowledge thee, Caroline!-yes, with my heart's best blood would I acknowledge thee!-Oh that thou could'st witness the agony of my soul!-Ten thousand daggers could not have wounded me like this letter!"
Then, after again reading it, "Evelina," he cried, "she charges me
thee;-wilt thou, in obedience to her will, own for thy father the
destroyer of thy mother?"
What a dreadful question!-I shuddered, but could not speak.
"To clear her fame, and receive her child," continued he, looking stedfastly at the letter, "are the conditions upon which she leaves me her forgiveness: her fame I have already cleared;-and Oh, how willingly would I take her child to my bosom, fold her to my heart,-call upon her to mitigate my anguish, and pour the balm of comfort on my wounds, were I not conscious I deserve not to receive it, and that all my affliction is the result of my own guilt!"
It was in vain I attempted to speak; horror and grief took from me
He then read aloud from the letter, "Look not like thy unfortunate mother!" "Sweet soul, with what bitterness of spirit hast thou written!-Come hither, Evelina: Gracious Heaven! (looking earnestly at me) never was likeness more striking!-the eyes-the face-the form-Oh, my child, my child!" Imagine, Sir,-for I can never describe my feelings, when I saw him sink upon his knees before me! "Oh, dear resemblance of thy murdered mother!-Oh, all that remains of the most injured of women! behold thy father at thy feet!-bending thus lowly to implore you would not hate him.-Oh, then, thou representative of my departed wife, speak to me in her name, and say that the remorse which tears my soul tortures me not in vain!"
"Oh, rise, rise, my beloved father," cried I, attempting to assist
cannot bear to see you thus; reverse not the law of nature; rise
yourself, and bless your kneeling daughter!"
"May Heaven bless thee, my child!-"cried he, "for I dare not." He then rose; and, embracing me most affectionately, added, "I see, I see that thou art all kindness, softness, and tenderness; I need not have feared thee, thou art all the fondest father could wish, and I will try to frame my mind to less painful sensations at thy sight. Perhaps the time may come, when I may know the comfort of such a daughter;-at present I am only fit to be alone: dreadful as are my reflections, they ought merely to torment myself.-Adieu, my child;-be not angry,-I cannot stay with thee;-Oh, Evelina! thy countenance is a dagger to my heart!-just so thy mother looked,-just so-"
Tears and sighs seemed to choak him;-and, waving his hand, he would have left me;-but, clinging to him, "Oh, Sir," cried I, "will you so soon abandon me?-am I again an orphan!-Oh, my dear, my long-lost father, leave me not, I beseech you! take pity on your child, and rob her not of the parent she so fondly hoped would cherish her!"
"You know not what you ask," cried he; "the emotions which now rend my soul are more than my reason can endure; suffer me then, to leave you;-impute it not to unkindness, but think of me as well as thou canst. Lord Orville has behaved nobly;-I believe he will make thee happy." Then, again embracing me, "God bless thee, my dear child," cried he, "God bless thee, my Evelina!-endeavour to love,-at least not to hate me,-and to make me an interest in thy filial bosom, by thinking of me as thy father."
I could not speak; I kissed his hands on my knees: and then, with
emotion, he again blessed me, and hurried out of the room,-leaving
me almost drowned in tears.
Oh, Sir, all goodness as you are, how much will you feel for your
during a scene of such agitation! I pray Heaven to accept the tribute
of his remorse, and restore him to tranquillity!
When I was sufficiently composed to return to the parlour, I found Lord Orville waiting for me with the utmost anxiety:-and then a new scene of emotion, though of a far different nature, awaited me; for I learned by Mr. Macartney, that this noblest of men had insisted the so-long supposed Miss Belmont should be considered, indeed, as my sister, and as the co-heiress of my father; though not in law, in justice, he says, she ought ever to be treated as the daughter of Sir John Belmont.
Oh! Lord Orville!-it shall be the sole study of my happy life,
better than by words, the sense I have of your exalted benevolence
and greatness of mind!
EVELINA IN CONTINUATION. Clifton, Oct. 12th.
THIS morning, early, I received the following letter from Sir Clement
"To Miss Anville.
"I HAVE this moment received intelligence that preparations
are actually making for your marriage with Lord Orville.
"Imagine not that I write with the imbecile idea of
preparations abortive. No, I am not so mad. My sole view is
to explain the motive of my conduct in a particular instance,
and to obviate the accusation of treachery which may be laid
to my charge.
"My unguarded behaviour, when I last saw you, has, probably,
acquainted you, that the letter I then saw you reading was
written by myself. For your further satisfaction, let me have
the honour of informing you, that the letter you had designed
for Lord Orville, had fallen into my hands.
"However I may have been urged on by a passion the most
ever warmed the heart of man, I can by no means calmly submit
to be stigmatized for an action seemingly so dishonourable;
and it is for this reason that I trouble you with this
"Lord Orville,-the happy Orville, whom you are so ready to bless,-had made me believe he loved you not;-nay, that he held you in contempt.
"Such were my thoughts of his sentiments of you, when I got possession of the letter you meant to send him. I pretend not to vindicate either the means I used to obtain it, or the action of breaking the seal; but I was impelled, by an impetuous curiosity, to discover the terms upon which you wrote to him.
"The letter, however, was wholly unintelligible to me,
perusal of it only added to my perplexity.
"A tame suspense I was not born to endure, and I determined
my doubts at all hazards and events.
"I answered it, therefore, in Orville's name.
"The views which I am now going to acknowledge, must,
incur your displeasure;-yet I scorn all palliation.
"Briefly, then, I concealed your letter to prevent a
your capacity; and I wrote you an answer, which I hoped would
prevent your wishing for any other.
"I am well aware of every thing which can be said upon
Lord Orville will, possibly, think himself ill-used; but I am
extremely indifferent as to his opinion; nor do I now write
by way of offering any apology to him, but merely to make
known to yourself the reasons by which I have been governed.
"I intend to set off next week for the Continent. Should his Lordship have any commands for me in the mean time, I shall be glad to receive them. I say not this by way of defiance,-I should blush to be suspected of so doing through an indirect channel; but simply that, if you show him this letter, he may know I dare defend, as well as excuse, my conduct. "CLEMENT WILLOUGHBY."
What a strange letter! how proud and how piqued does its writer appear! To what alternate meanness and rashness do the passions lead, when reason and self-denial do not oppose them! Sir Clement is conscious he has acted dishonourably; yet the same unbridled vehemence, which urged him to gratify a blameable curiosity, will sooner prompt him to risk his life, than, confess his misconduct. The rudeness of his manner of writing to me, springs, from the same cause: the proof which he has received of my indifference to him, has stung him to the soul, and he has neither the delicacy nor forbearance to disguise his displeasure.
I determined not to show this letter to Lord Orville, and thought
prudent to let Sir Clement know I should not. I therefore wrote the
"To Sir Clement Willoughby.
"The letter you have been pleased to address to me, is
calculated to afford Lord Orville any satisfaction, that you
may depend upon my carefully keeping it from his sight. I will
bear you no resentment for what is past; but I most earnestly
intreat, nay implore, that you will not write again, while in
your present frame of mind, by any channel, direct or indirect.
"I hope you will have much pleasure in your promised
I beg leave to assure you of my good wishes."
Not knowing by what name to sign, I was obliged to send it without any.
The preparations which Sir Clement mentions, go on just as if your consent were arrived: it is in vain that I expostulate; Lord Orville says, should any objections be raised, all shall be given up; but that, as his hopes forbid him to expect any, he must proceed as if already assured of your concurrence.
We have had, this afternoon, a most interesting conversation, in which we have traced our sentiments of each other from our first acquaintance. I have made him confess how ill he thought of me upon my foolish giddiness at Mrs. Stanley's ball; but he flatters me with assurances, that every succeeding time he saw me, I appeared to something less and less disadvantage.
When I expressed my amazement that he could honour with his choice a girl who seemed so infinitely, in every respect, beneath his alliance, he frankly owned, that he had fully intended making more minute inquiries into my family and connections; particularly concerning those people he saw me with at Marybone, before he acknowledged his prepossession in my favour: but seeing me again, put him quite off his guard; and, "divesting him of prudence, left him nothing but love." These were his words; and yet, he has repeatedly assured me, that his partiality has known no bounds from the time of my residing at Clifton. * * * * * *
Mr. Macartney has just been with me, on an embassy from my father. He has sent me his kindest love and assurances of favour; and desired to know if I am happy in the prospect of changing my situation, and if there is any thing I can name which he can do for me. And, at the same time, Mr. Macartney delivered to me a draught on my father's banker for a thousand pounds, which he insisted that I should receive entirely for my own use, and expend in equipping myself properly for the new rank of life to which I seem destined.
I am sure I need not say how much I was penetrated by this goodness: I wrote my thanks, and acknowledged, frankly, that if I could see him restored to tranquillity, my heart would be without a wish.
EVELINA IN CONTINUATION. Clifton, Oct. 13th.
THE time approaches now when I hope we shall meet;-yet I cannot sleep;-great joy is a restless as sorrow,-and therefore I will continue my journal.
As I had never had an opportunity of seeing Bath, a party was formed last night for showing me that celebrated city; and this morning, after breakfast, we set out in three phaetons. Lady Louisa and Mrs. Beaumont with Lord Merton; Mr. Coverley, Mr. Lovel, and Mrs. Selwyn; and myself with Lord Orville.
We had hardly proceeded half a mile, when a gentleman from the post-chaise which came gallopping after us, called out to the servants, "Holla, my lads!-pray, is one Miss Anville in any of them thing-em-bobs?"
I immediately recollected the voice of Captain Mirvan; and Lord Orville stopped the phaeton. He was out of the chaise, and with us in a moment. "So, Miss Anville," cried he, "how do you do? So I hear you're Miss Belmont now;-pray, how does old Madame French do?"
"Madame Duval," said I, "is, I believe, very well."
"I hope she is in good case," said he, winking significantly, "and won't flinch at seeing service: she has laid by long enough to refit and be made tight. And pray how does poor Monseer Doleful do? Is he as lank-jawed as ever?"
"They are neither of them," said I, "in Bristol."
"No!" cried he, with a look of disappointment; "but surely the old dowager intends coming to the wedding! 'twill be a most excellent opportunity to show off her best Lyons silk. Besides, I purpose to dance a new fashioned jig with her. Don't you know when she'll come?"
"I have no reason to expect her at all."
"No!-'Fore George, this here's the worst news I'd wish to hear!-why I've thought of nothing all the way, but what trick I should serve her."
"You have been very obliging!" said I, laughing.
"O, I promise you," cried he, "our Moll would never have wheedled me into this jaunt, if I'd known she was not here; for, to let you into the secret, I fully intended to have treated the old buck with another frolic."
"Did Miss Mirvan, then, persuade you to this journey?"
"Yes, and we've been travelling all night."
"We!" cried I: "Is Miss Mirvan, then, with you?"
"What, Molly?-yes, she's in that there chaise."
"Good God, Sir, why did you not tell me sooner?" cried I; and immediately, with Lord Orville's assistance, I jumped out of the phaeton, and ran to the dear girl. Lord Orville opened the chaise door; and I am sure I need not tell you what unfeigned joy accompanied our meeting.
We both begged we might not be parted during the ride; and Lord
Orville was so good as to invite Captain Mirvan into his phaeton.
I think I was hardly ever more rejoiced than at this so seasonable visit from my dear Maria; who had no sooner heard the situation of my affairs, than with the assistance of Lady Howard, and her kind mother, she besought her father with such earnestness to consent to the journey, that he had not been able to withstand their united intreaties; though she owned that, had he not expected to have met with Madame Duval, she believes he would not so readily have yielded. They arrived at Mrs. Beaumont's but a few minutes after we were out of sight, and overtook us without much difficulty.
I say nothing of our conversation, because you may so well suppose both the subjects we chose, and our manner of discussing them.
We all stopped at a great hotel, where we were obliged to enquire for a room, as Lady Louisa, fatigued to death, desired to take something before we began our rambles.
As soon as the party was assembled, the Captain, abruptly saluting me, said, "So, Miss Belmont, I wish you joy; so I hear you've quarrelled with your new name already?"
"Me!-no, indeed, Sir."
"Then please for to tell me the reason you're in such a hurry to change it?"
"Miss Belmont!" cried Mr. Lovel. Looking around him with the utmost astonishment: "I beg pardon;-but, if it is not impertinent,-I must beg leave to say I always understood that lady's name was Anville."
"'Fore George," cried the Captain, "it runs in my head, I've seen you somewhere before! And now I think on't, pray a'n't you the person I saw at the play one night, and who didn't know, all the time, whether it was a tragedy or a comedy, or a concert of fiddlers?"
"I believe, Sir," said Mr. Lovel, stammering, "I, had once,-I think-the pleasure of seeing you last spring."
"Aye, and if I live an hundred springs," answered he, "I shall never forget it; by Jingo, it has served me for a most excellent good joke ever since. Well, howsomever, I'm glad to see you still in the land of the living," (shaking him roughly by the hand.) "Pray, if a body may be so bold, how much a night may you give at present to keep the undertakers aloof?"
"Me, Sir!" said Mr. Lovel, very much discomposed; "I protest I never thought myself in such imminent danger as to-really, Sir, I don't understand you."
"O, you don't! why then I'll make free for to explain myself. Gentlemen and Ladies, I'll tell you what; do you know this here gentleman, simple as he sits there, pays five shillings a-night to let his friends know he's alive!"
"And very cheap too," said Mrs. Selwyn, "if we consider the value of the intelligence."
Lady Louisa being now refreshed, we proceeded upon our expedition.
The charming city of Bath answered all my expectations. The Crescent, the prospect from it, and the elegant symmetry of the Circus, delighted me. The Parades, I own, rather disappointed me; one of them is scarce preferable to some of the best paved streets in London; and the other, though it affords a beautiful prospect, a charming view of Prior Park and of the Avon, yet wanted something in itself of more striking elegance than a mere broad pavement, to satisfy the ideas I had formed of it.
At the pump-room, I was amazed at the public exhibition of the ladies in the bath; it is true, their heads are covered with bonnets; but the very idea of being seen, in such a situation, by whoever pleases to look, is indelicate.
"'Fore George," said the Captain, looking into the bath, "this would be a most excellent place for old Madame French to dance a fandango in! By Jingo, I wou'dn't wish for better sport than to swing her round this here pond!"
"She would be very much obliged to you," said Lord Orville, "for so extraordinary a mark of your favour."
"Why, to let you know," answered the Captain, "she hit my fancy mightily; I never took so much to an old tabby before."
"Really now," cried Mr. Lovel, looking also into the bath, "I must confess it is, to me, very incomprehensible why the ladies choose that frightful unbecoming dress to bathe in! I have often pondered very seriously upon the subject, but could never hit upon the reason."
"Well, I declare," said Lady Louisa, "I should like of all things to set something new a-going; I always hated bathing, because one can get no pretty dress for it! now do, there's a good creature, try to help me to something."
"Who, me!-O, dear Ma'am," said he, simpering, "I can't pretend to assist a person of your Ladyship's tastes; besides, I have not the least head for fashions.-I really don't think I ever invented above three in my life! But I never had the least turn for dress,-never any notion of fancy or elegance."
"O fie, Mr. Lovel! how can you talk so?-don't we all know that you lead the ton in the beau monde? I declare, I think you dress better than any body."
"O, dear Ma'am, you confuse me to the last degree! I dress well!-I protest I don't think I'm ever fit to be seen! I'm often shocked to death to think what a figure I go. If your Ladyship will believe me, I was full half an hour this morning thinking what I should put on!"
"Odds my life," cried the Captain, "I wish I'd been near you! I warrant I'd have quickened your motions a little; Half an hour thinking what you'd put on; and who the deuce do you think cares the snuff of a candle whether you've any thing on or not?"
"O pray, Captain," cried Mrs. Selwyn, "don't be angry with the gentleman for thinking, whatever be the cause, for I assure you he makes no common practice of offending in that way."
"Really, Ma'am, you're prodigiously kind," said Mr. Lovel, angrily.
"Pray now," said the Captain, "did you ever get a ducking in that there place yourself?"
"A ducking, Sir!" repeated Mr. Lovel: "I protest I think that's rather an odd term!-but if you mean a bathing, it is an honour I have had many times."
"And pray, if a body may be so bold, what do you do with that frizle-frize top of your own? Why, I'll lay you what you will, there is fat and grease enough on your crown to buoy you up, if you were to go in head downwards."
"And I don't know," cried Mrs. Selwyn, "but that might be the easiest way; for I'm sure it would be the lightest."
"For the matter of that there," said the Captain, "you must make him a soldier, before you can tell which is lightest, head or heels. Howsomever, I'd lay ten pounds to a shilling, I could whisk him so dexterously over into the pool, that he should light plump upon his foretop and turn round like a tetotum."
"Done!" cried Lord Merton; "I take your odds."
"Will you?" returned he; "why, then, 'fore George, I'd do it as soon as say Jack Robinson."
"He, he!" faintly laughed Mr. Lovel, as he moved abruptly from the window; "'pon honour, this is pleasant enough; but I don't see what right any body has to lay wagers about one without one's consent."
"There, Lovel, you are out," cried Mr. Coverley, "any man may lay what wager about you he will; your consent is nothing to the purpose: he may lay that your nose is a sky-blue, if he pleases."
"Ay," said Mrs. Selwyn, "or that your mind is more adorned than your person;-or any absurdity whatsoever."
"I protest," said Mr. Lovel, "I think it's a very disagreeable privilege, and I must beg that nobody may take such a liberty with me."
"Like enough you may," cried the Captain;" but what's that to the purpose? Suppose I've a mind to lay that you've never a tooth in your head-pray, how will you hinder me?"
"You'll allow me, at least, Sir, to take the liberty of asking how you'll prove it?"
"How?-why, by knocking them all down your throat."
"Knocking them all down my throat, Sir!" repeated Mr. Lovel, with a look of horror; "I protest I never heard any thing so shocking in my life! And I must beg leave to observe, that no wager, in my opinion, could justify such a barbarous action."
Here Lord Orville interfered, and hurried us to our carriages.
We returned in the same order we came. Mrs. Beaumont invited all the party to dinner, and has been so obliging as to beg Miss Mirvan may continue at her house during her stay. The Captain will lodge at the Wells.
The first half-hour after our return was devoted to hearing Mr. Lovel's apologies for dining in his riding-dress.
Mrs. Beaumont then, addressing herself to Miss Mirvan and me, inquired how we liked Bath?
"I hope," said Mr. Lovel, "the ladies do not call this seeing Bath."
"No!-what should ail 'em?" cried the Captain, "do you suppose they put their eyes in their pockets?"
"No, Sir; but I fancy you will find no person-that is-no person of any condition-call going about a few places in a morning seeing Bath."
"Mayhap, then," said the literal Captain, "you think we should see it better by going about at midnight?"
"No, Sir, no," said Mr. Lovel, with a supercilious smile, "I perceive you don't understand me;-we should never call it seeing Bath, without going at the right season."
"Why, what a plague, then," demanded he, "can you only see at one season of the year?"
Mr. Lovel again smiled; but seemed superior to making any answer.
"The Bath amusements," said Lord Orville, "have a sameness in them, which, after a short time, renders them rather insipid; but the greatest objection that can be made to the place, is the encouragement it gives to gamesters."
"Why, I hope, my Lord, you would not think of abolishing gaming," cried Lord Merton, "'tis the very zest of life! Devil take me if I could live without it."
"I am sorry for it," said Lord Orville, gravely, and looking at
"Your Lordship is no judge of this subject," continued the other; "but if once we could get you to a gaming-table, you'd never be happy away from it!"
"I hope, my Lord," cried Lady Louisa, "that nobody here ever occasions your quitting it."
"Your Ladyship," said Lord Merton, recollecting himself, "has power to make me quit any thing."
"Except herself," said Mr. Coverley. "Egad, my Lord, I think I've helpt you out there!"
"You men of wit, Jack," answered his Lordship, "are always ready;-for my part, I don't pretend to any talents that way."
"Really, my Lord?" asked the sarcastic Mrs. Selwyn; "well, that is wonderful, considering success would be so much in your power."
"Pray, Ma'am," said Mr. Lovel to Lady Louisa, "has your Ladyship heard the news?"
"Why, the report circulating at the Wells concerning a certain person."
"O Lord, no: pray tell me what it is?"
"O no, Ma'am, I beg your La'ship will excuse me; 'tis a profound secret, and I would not have mentioned it, if I had not thought you knew it."
"Lord, now, how can you be so monstrous? I declare, now, you're a provoking creature! But come, I know you'll tell me;-won't you now?"
"Your La'ship knows I am but too happy to obey you; but, 'pon honour, I can't speak a word, if you won't all promise me the most inviolable secrecy."
"I wish you'd wait for that from me," said the Captain, "and I'll give you my word you'd be dumb for one while. Secrecy, quoth-a!-'Fore George, I wonder you an't ashamed to mention such a word, when you talk of telling it to a woman. Though, for the matter of that, I'd as lieve blab it to the whole sex at once, as to go for to tell it to such a thing as you."
"Such a thing as me, Sir!" said Mr. Lovel, letting fall his knife and fork, and looking very important; "I really have not the honour to understand your expression."
"It's all one for that," said the Captain; "you may have it explained whenever you like it."
"'Pon honour, Sir," returned Mr. Lovel, "I must take the liberty to tell you, that I should be extremely offended, but that I suppose it to be some sea-phrase; and therefore I'll let it pass without further notice."
Lord Orville, then, to change the discourse, asked Miss Mirvan if she should spend the ensuing winter in London?
"No, to be sure," said the Captain, "what should she for? She saw all that was to be seen before."
"Is London, then," said Mr. Lovel, smiling at Lady Louisa, "only to be regarded as a sight?"
"Why, pray, Mr. Wiseacre, how are you pleased for to regard it yourself?-Answer me to that."
"O Sir, my opinion, I fancy, you would hardly find intelligible. I don't understand sea-phrases enough to define it to your comprehension. Does not your La'ship think the task would be rather difficult?"
"O Lard, yes," cried Lady Louisa; "I declare I'd as soon teach my parrot to talk Welsh."
"Ha! ha! ha! Admirable;-'Pon honour, your La'ship's quite in luck to-day; but that, indeed, your La'ship is every day. Though, to be sure, it is but candid to acknowledge, that the gentlemen of the ocean have a set of ideas, as well as a dialect, so opposite to our's, that it is by no means surprising they should regard London as a mere show, that may be seen by being looked at. Ha! ha! ha!"
"Ha! ha!" echoed Lady Louisa; "Well, I declare you are the drollest creature."
"He! he! 'Pon honour, I can't help laughing at the conceit of seeing
London in a few weeks!"
"And what a plague should hinder you?" cried the Captain; "do you want to spend a day in every street?"
Here again Lady Louisa and Mr. Lovel interchanged smiles.
"Why, I warrant you, if I had the showing it, I'd haul you from
St. James's to Wapping the very first morning."
The smiles were now, with added contempt, repeated; which the Captain observing, looked very fiercely at Mr. Lovel, and said, "Hark'ee my spark, none of your grinning!-'tis a lingo I don't understand; and if you give me any more of it, I shall go near to lend you a box o' the ear."
"I protest, Sir," said Mr. Lovel, turning extremely pale, "I think it's taking a very particular liberty with a person, to talk to one in such a style as this!"
"It's like you may," returned the Captain: "but give a good gulp, and I'll warrant you'll swallow it." Then, calling for a glass of ale, with a very provoking and significant nod, he drank to his easy digestion.
Mr. Lovel made no answer, but looked extremely sullen; and, soon after, we left the gentlemen to themselves.
I had then two letters delivered to me; one from Lady Howard and Mrs. Mirvan, which contained the kindest congratulations; and the other from Madame Duval;-but not a word from you,-to my no small surprise and concern.
Madame Duval seems greatly rejoiced at my late intelligence: a violent cold, she says, prevents her coming to Bristol. The Branghtons, she tells me, are all well; Miss Polly is soon to be married to Mr. Brown; but Mr. Smith has changed his lodgings, "which," she adds, "has made the house extremely dull. However, that's not the worst news; pardi, I wish it was! but I've been used like nobody,-for Monsieur Du Bois has had the baseness to go back to France without me." In conclusion, she assures me, as you prognosticated she would, that I shall be sole heiress of all she is worth, when Lady Orville.
At tea-time, we were joined by all the gentlemen but Captain Mirvan, who went to the hotel where he was to sleep, and made his daughter accompany him, to separate her trumpery, as he called it, from his clothes.
As soon as they were gone, Mr. Lovel, who still appeared extremely sulky, said, "I protest, I never saw such a vulgar, abusive fellow in my life, as that Captain: 'pon honour, I believe he came here for no purpose in the world but to pick a quarrel; however, for my part, I vow I wo'n't humour him."
"I declare," cried Lady Louisa, "he put me in a monstrous fright;-I never heard any body talk so shocking in my life!"
"I think," said Mrs. Selwyn, with great solemnity, "he threatened to box your ears, Mr. Lovel;-did not he?"
"Really, Ma'am," said Mr. Lovel, colouring, "if one was to mind every thing those low kind of people say, one should never be at rest for one impertinence or other; so I think the best way is to be above taking any notice of them."
"What," said Mrs. Selwyn, with the same gravity, "and so receive the blow in silence!"
During this discourse, I heard the Captain's chaise stop at the door, and ran downstairs to meet Maria. She was alone, and told me that her father, who, she was sure, had some scheme in agitation against Mr. Lovel, had sent her on before him. We continued in the parlour till his return, and were joined by Lord Orville, who begged me not to insist on a patience so unnatural, as submitting to be excluded our society. And let me, my dear Sir, with a grateful heart let me own, I never before passed half an hour in such perfect felicity.
I believe we were all sorry when the Captain returned; yet his inward satisfaction, from however different a cause, did not seem inferior to what our's had been. He chucked Maria under the chin, rubbed his hands, and was scarce able to contain the fullness of his glee. We all attended him to the drawing room; where, having composed his countenance, without any previous attention to Mrs. Beaumont, he marched up to Mr. Lovel, and abruptly said, "Pray, have you e'er a brother in these here parts?"
"Me, Sir?-no, thank Heaven, I'm free from all encumbrances of that sort."
"Well," cried the Captain, "I met a person just now so like you,
I could have sworn he had been your twin brother."
"It would have been a most singular pleasure to me," said Mr. Lovel, "if I also could have seen him; for, really, I have not the least notion what sort of a person I am, and I have a prodigious curiosity to know."
Just then the Captain's servant, opening the door, said, "A little gentleman below desires to see one Mr. Lovel."
"Beg him to walk up stairs," said Mrs. Beaumont. "But, pray what is the reason William is out of the way?"
The man shut the door without any answer.
"I can't imagine who it is," said Mr. Lovel: "I recollect no little gentleman of my acquaintance now at Bristol,-except, indeed the Marquis of Charlton;-but I don't much fancy it can be him. Let me see, who else is there so very little?"
A confused noise among the servants now drew all eyes towards the door: the impatient Captain hastened to open it; and then, clapping his hands, called out, "'Fore George, 'tis the same person I took for your relation!"
And then, to the utter astonishment of every body but himself, he hauled into the room a monkey, full-dressed, and extravagantly -e; la mode!
The dismay of the company was almost general. Poor Mr. Lovel seemed thunderstruck with indignation and surprise: Lady Louisa began a scream, which for some time was incessant; Miss Mirvan and I jumped involuntarily upon the seats of our chairs; Mrs. Beaumont herself followed our example; Lord Orville placed himself before me as a guard; and Mrs. Selwyn, Lord Merton, and Mr. Coverley, burst into a loud, immoderate, ungovernable fit of laughter, in which they were joined by the Captain, till, unable to support himself, he rolled on the floor.
The first voice which made its way through this general noise was that of Lady Louisa, which her fright and screaming rendered extremely shrill. "Take it away!" cried she, "take the monster away;-I shall faint, I shall faint if you don't!"
Mr. Lovel, irritated beyond endurance, angrily demanded of the Captain what he meant?
"Mean?" cried the Captain, as soon as he was able to speak; "why only to shew you in your proper colours." Then rising, and pointing to the monkey, "Why now, ladies and gentlemen, I'll be judged by you all!-Did you ever see any thing more like?-Odds my life, if it wasn't for this here tail, you wouldn't know one from t'other."
"Sir," cried Mr. Lovel, stamping, "I shall take a time to make you feel my wrath."
"Come now," continued the regardless Captain, "just for the fun's sake, doff your coat and waistcoat, and swop with Monseer Grinagain here; and I'll warrant you'll not know yourself which is which."
"Not know myself from a monkey!-I assure you, Sir, I'm not to be used in this manner, and I won't bear it-curse me if I will!"
"Why, hey-day!" cried the Captain, "what, is master in a passion?-well, don't be angry:-come, he shan't hurt you;-here, shake a paw with him:-why, he'll do you no harm, man!-come, kiss and be friends!"
"Who, I?" cried Mr. Lovel, almost mad with vexation; "as I'm a living creature, I would not touch him for a thousand worlds!"
"Send him a challenge," cried Mr. Coverley, "and I'll be your second."
"Ay, do," said the Captain; "and I'll be second to my friend, Monseer
Clapperclaw here. Come to it at once!-tooth and nail!"
"God forbid!" cried Mr. Lovel, retreating, "I would sooner trust my person with a mad bull!"
"I don't like the look of him myself," said Lord Merton, "for he grins most horribly."
"Oh, I'm frightened out of my senses!" cried Lady Louisa, "take him away, or I shall die!"
"Captain," said Lord Orville, "the ladies are alarmed; and I must beg you would send the monkey away."
"Why, where can be the mighty harm of one monkey more than another?" answered the Captain: "howsomever, if its agreeable to the ladies, suppose we turn them out together?"
"What do you mean by that, Sir?" cried Mr. Lovel, lifting up his cane.
"What do you mean?" cried the Captain, fiercely, "be so good as to down with your cane."
Poor Mr. Lovel, too much intimidated to stand his ground, yet too much enraged to submit, turned hastily round, and, forgetful of consequences, vented his passion by giving a furious blow to the monkey.
The creature darting forwards, sprung instantly upon him; and, clinging round his neck, fastened his teeth to one of his ears.
I was really sorry for the poor man; who, though an egregious fop, had committed no offence that merited such chastisement.
It was impossible now to distinguish whose screams were loudest, those of Mr. Lovel, or of the terrified Lady Louisa, who I believe, thought her own turn was approaching: but the unrelenting Captain roared with joy.
Not so Lord Orville: ever humane, generous, and benevolent he quitted his charge, who he saw was wholly out of danger, and seizing the monkey by the collar, made him loosen the ear; and then with a sudden swing, flung him out of the room, and shut the door.
Poor Mr. Lovel, almost fainting with terror, sunk upon the floor, crying out, "Oh, I shall die, I shall die!-Oh, I'm bit to death!"
"Captain Mirvan," said Mrs. Beaumont, with no little indignation, "I must own I don't perceive the wit of this action; and I am sorry to have such cruelty practised in my house."
"Why Lord, Ma'am," said the Captain, when his rapture abated sufficiently for speech, "how could I tell they'd fall out so?-By jingo, I brought him to be a messmate for t'other."
"Egad," said Mr. Coverley, "I would not have been served so for a thousand pounds."
"Why, then, there's the odds of it," said the Captain; "for you see he is served so for nothing. But come," turning to Mr. Lovel, "be of good heart, all may end well yet, and you and Monseer Longtail be as good friends as ever."
"I'm surprised, Mrs. Beaumont," cried Mr. Lovel, starting up, "that you can suffer a person under your roof to be treated so inhumanly."
"What argufies so many words?" said the unfeeling Captain; "it is but a slit of the ear; it only looks as if you had been in the pillory."
"Very true," added Mrs. Selwyn; "and who knows but it may acquire you the credit of being an anti-ministerial writer?"
"I protest," cried Mr. Lovel, looking ruefully at his dress, "my new riding suit's all over blood!"
"Ha, ha, ha," cried the Captain, "see what comes of studying for an hour what you shall put on!"
Mr. Lovel then walked to the glass; and, looking at the place, exclaimed, "Oh heaven, what a monstrous wound! my ear will never be fit to be seen again!"
"Why then," said the Captain, "you must hide it;-'tis but wearing a wig."
"A wig!" repeated the affrighted Mr. Lovel; "I wear a wig?-no, not if you would give me a thousand pounds an hour!"
"I declare," said Lady Louisa, "I never heard such a shocking proposal in my life!"
Lord Orville, then, seeing no prospect that the altercation would cease, proposed to the Captain to walk. He assented; and having given Mr. Lovel a nod of exultation, accompanied his Lordship down stairs.
"'Pon honour," said Mr. Lovel, the moment the door was shut, "that fellow is the greatest brute in nature! he ought not to be admitted into a civilized society."
"Lovel," said Mr. Coverley, affecting to whisper, "you must certainly pink him: you must not put up with such an affront."
"Sir," said Mr. Lovel, "with any common person I should not deliberate an instant; but really with a fellow who has done nothing but fight all his life, 'pon honour, Sir, I can't think of it!"
"Lovel," said Lord Merton, in the same voice, "you must call him to account."
"Every man," said he, pettishly, "is the best judge of his own affairs; and I don't ask the honour of any person's advice."
"Egad, Lovel," said Mr. Coverley, "you're in for it!-you can't possibly be off!"
"Sir," cried he, very impatiently, "upon any proper occasion I should be as ready to show my courage as any body; but as to fighting for such a trifle as this-I protest I should blush to think of it!"
"A trifle!" cried Mrs. Selwyn, "good Heaven! and have you made this astonishing riot about a trifle?"
"Ma'am," answered the poor wretch, in great confusion, "I did not know at first but that my cheek might have been bit; but as 'tis no worse, why, it does not a great deal signify. Mrs. Beaumont, I have the honour to wish you a good evening; I'm sure my carriage must be waiting." And then, very abruptly, he left the room.
What a commotion has this mischief-loving Captain raised! Were I to remain here long, even the society of my dear Maria could scarce compensate for the disturbances which he excites.
When he returned, and heard of the quiet exit of Mr. Lovel, his triumph was intolerable. "I think, I think," he cried, "I have peppered him well! I'll warrant he won't give an hour tomorrow morning to settling what he shall put on; why, his coat," turning to me, "would be a most excellent match for old Madame Furbelow's best Lyons silk! 'Fore George, I'd desire no better sport than to have that there old cat here to go her snacks!"
All the company the, Lord Orville, Miss Mirvan, and myself excepted, played at cards; and we -oh, how much better did we pass our time!
While we were engaged in a most delightful conversation, a servant brought me a letter, which he told me had by some accident been mislaid. Judge of my feelings when I saw, my dearest Sir, your revered hand-writing! My emotions soon betrayed to Lord Orville whom the letter was from; the importance of the contents he well knew; and, assuring me I should not be seen by the card-players, he besought me to open it without delay.
Open it, indeed, I did-but read it I could not;-the willing, yet awful consent you have granted-the tenderness of your expressions-the certainty that no obstacle remained to my eternal union with the loved owner of my heart, gave me sensations too various, and, though joyful, too little placid for observation. Finding myself unable to proceed, and blinded by the tears of gratitude and delight, which started into my eyes, I gave over the attempt of reading till I retired to my own room; and, having no voice to answer the enquiries of Lord Orville, I put the letter into his hands, and left it to speak both for me and itself.
Lord Orville was himself affected by your kindness: he kissed the letter as he returned it; and, pressing my hand affectionately to his heart, "Your are now," said he, in a low voice, "all my own! Oh, my Evelina, how will my soul find room for its happiness?-it seems already bursting!" I could make no reply, indeed I hardly spoke another word the rest of the evening; so little talkative is the fulness of contentment.
O, my dearest Sir, the thankfulness of my heart I must pour forth at our meeting, when, at your feet, my happiness receives its confirmation from your blessing; and when my noble-minded, my beloved Lord Orville, presents to you the highly-honoured, and thrice-happy Evelina.
A few lines I will endeavour to write on Thursday, which shall be sent off express, to give you, should nothing intervene, yet more certain assurance of our meeting.
Now then, therefore, for the first-and probably the last time I shall ever own the name, permit me to sign myself, Most dear Sir, your gratefully affectionate, EVELINA BELMONT.
Lady Louisa, at her own particular desire, will be present at the ceremony, as well as Miss Mirvan and Mrs. Selwyn: Mr. Macartney will, the same morning, be united to my foster-sister; and my father himself will give us both away.
MR. VILLARS TO EVELINA.
EVERY wish of my soul is now fulfilled-for the felicity of my Evelina is equal to her worthiness!
Yes, my child, thy happiness is engraved in golden characters upon the tablets of my heart; and their impression is indelible: for, should the rude and deep-searching hand of Misfortune attempt to pluck them from their repository, the fleeting fabric of life would give way; and in tearing from my vitals the nourishment by which they are supported, she would but grasp at a shadow insensible to her touch.
Give thee my consent?-Oh thou joy, comfort, and pride of my life, how cold is that word to express the fervency of my approbation! Yes, I do indeed give thee my consent; and so thankfully, that, with the humblest gratitude to Providence, I would seal it with the remnant of my days.
Hasten then, my love, to bless me with thy presence, and to receive the blessings with which my fond heart overflows!-And oh, my Evelina, hear and assist in one only, humble, but ardent prayer, which yet animates my devotions: That the height of bliss to which thou art rising may not render thee giddy, but that the purity of thy mind may form the brightest splendour of thy prosperity!-and that the weak and aged frame of thy almost idolizing parent, nearly worn out by time, past afflictions, and infirmities, may yet be able to sustain a meeting with all its better part holds dear; and then, that all the wounds which the former severity of fortune inflicted, may be healed and purified by the ultimate consolation of pouring forth my dying words in blessings on my child!-closing these joy-streaming eyes in her presence, and breathing my last faint sighs in her loved arms!
Grieve not, oh child of my care! Grieve not at the inevitable moment! but may thy own end be equally propitious! Oh, may'st thou, when full of days, and full of honour, sink down as gently to rest!-be loved as kindly, watched as tenderly, as thy happy father! And mayest thou, when thy glass is run, be sweetly, but not bitterly, mourned by some remaining darling of thy affections-some yet surviving Evelina! ARTHUR VILLARS.
EVELINA TO THE REV. MR. VILLARS.
ALL is over, my dearest Sir; and the fate of your Evelina is decided! This morning, with fearful joy and trembling gratitude, she united herself for ever with the object of her dearest, her eternal affection.
I have time for no more; the chaise now waits which is to conduct me to dear Berry Hill, and to the arms of the best of men. EVELINA. THE END