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his moral neighbours, and the more so as his understanding, though none of the best, was not obviously deficient.
His moral principles were such as might be expected from his religious principles. Being of a cold calculating temper, in other words most grossly selfish, he had contracted an objection against matrimony, which he considered as a point of mutual sacrifice on some points, for mutual satisfaction on others. Instead of a wife, therefore, he had taken a mistress; and, to the great scandal of the neighbourhood, brought her into his house, and put her at the head of his table. For some years he appeared very well satisfied with this kind of life, till he happened at length to discover that the moral principles of his mistress were on a par with his own, that her connection with him was entirely selfish, and that in his absence she followed her inclinations with out controul. This discovery, added to the state of his health, which had become such as to require constant female attendauce, united with an affection which could support his caprice and ill-humour, began to turn the scale in his arguments pro and con, and after much wavering he decided that he would take a wife.
In compliance with the commands of my father, I admitted for some time the visits of Sir Zachary, but I at length found it necessary to come to some decision. I was on the one side terrified by the violence of my father's temper, but on the other I was resolved not to sacrifice the happiness of my life by so unequal an union. I w resolved therefore to terminate at once the expectations of Sir Zachary; and giving bim credit for some gallantry and generosity, to interpose him between my father and myself. Under these circumstances I wrote him the following letter:
Sir, I am induced to take this measure by what I think a very just notion of your judgment and gallantry. It is impossible that you can be persuaded that we are in any way suited to each other. Consult your reason, and follow its dictates; imagine that it is now addressing you through me.—Our ages are unequal, our tempers still more so; you have a manly gravity which to me has the effect of a most unamiable dryness; I have a cheerfulness and gaiety which to you must have the
effect of noise and impertinence. I am too young for a nurse, and you will pardon me when I say it, you are too old for a lover. I cannot persuade myself in any way to conform myself to your humour and manners, and you must enter into an hopeless contention with your very nature to bring yourself to submit to mine. In what way, therefore, are we adapted for each other? In what way have we any thing to participate? Is it possible that there should be any thing common between us except a mutual discontent? I am sure that these things need only be called up before your mind to have their due weight. You are a calculating man, Sir Zachary, and will surely not expect that in the construction of a partnership all the sacrifices should be upon one side. Shew me any thing in which you can indemnify me for the sacrifice of youth to age, and my arguments will be shaken; shew me any thing in which I can, on my part, indemnify you for the complete misery which I shall certainly occasion you. From these considerations I have to throw myself not on your generosity but on your prudence; I have to require you to consider uot me but yourself. I will not deceive you; if any misfortune should render me your wife, I should have no satisfaction so complete as the avenging myself on you as the instrument of my misery. I have only to add another word: you know my situation with respect to my father, and you are not ignorant what I have to expect from this decided opposition to his will. Under these circumstances it is unnecessary to say what I expect of you. Yours,
To this letter, on the next morning, I received the following answer:—
"Madam,-I have received your letter, and have only briefly to reply, that before I made proposals to your father I had taken into consideration all the circumstances of the case, and had framed my resolution accordingly. I can certainly perceive by your letter that you have what is called by young ladies an insurmountable objection, and an invincible aversion to me; but in the course of my life, Madam, I have seen so many of these insurmountable objections so easily surmounted, and so many of these invincible obstacles so casily over
come, that you must pardon me if these || the goodness to make allowance for these considerations have not all the weight deficiencies. There is nothing incurable with me which you probably attach to in this wide world but poverty: so long as them. you have money and youth, you have the means of getting every thing; it is an offence against the high supremacy of fortune under such circumstances to despair; it would be a bad world indeed if a young woman in possession of forty thousand pounds should have to throw herself away upon an ancient husband."
"I must certainly regret that you have no heart to give; but as I have pledged myself to your father to deem myself honoured with you in any way, you must pardon me that I shall be happy to take you as I find you.—I am, Madam,
ZACHARY WIZEN." This letter defeated all my romantic hopes, and from the avowed selfishness of Sir Zachary I found myself reduced to the unhappy dilemma of either accepting him or of leaving my father's house. My father continued to press me on, and Sir Zachary, with a thorough contempt of my sentiments and affections, began to be eager for my fortune, that he might rid himself of the mortgage. So sure did he make of a successful event, that every thing on his part was already prepared for his marriage, and wherever I appeared I became the jeer of the company.
To make short of the matter, the crisis of my fate was at hand, and in despite of my resolution I know not but I should have become the wife of Sir Zachary, unless for the occurrence of a very unexpected event.
"I am willing," replied I, "to undergo any thing to rid myself of him."
"There are two ways," replied she; "either by the old way of downright refusal, for no father can compel you to such a monstrous sacrifice; or by the one which I have proposed, that is, to appeal to the selfishness of your lover, and to buy him off by making it his advantage to refuse you."
“Do you as you please," replied I; "only rid me of him."
Why, then," resumed she, "by tomorrow's post you shall be for ever free of Sir Zachary."
To make short of the matter, in three days after this conversation, my Lord Lovelace's lawyer made his appearance at the summons of my Lady; and all matters being arranged between us, the following note was dispatched to Sir Zachary:
This occurrence was the arrival of the sister of my mother, the Lady Lovelace; a lady at the head of the fashionable world, and who to great beauty added an unwearied gaiety, and all those charms which are improved, if not given, by elegant manmers. My aunt, from the moment of her arrival, conceived a lively affection for me; and as youth is naturally open and confi- "Sir,-As you have always been candid dential, she immediately became the depo-enough with my father and myself, I consitary of my secrets. I made no secret of my aversion to Sir Zachary, and she entered into my interest with as much zeal as I could wish.
ceive it my duty to be equally candid with you, and in a matter in which my happiness is so inmediately concerned, to repeat in stronger terms my former assertions,that I can never reconeile myself to pass my life with a man whom I can never even esteem. The importance of the occasion must be my excuse for this breach of the ordinary decorum of manners. But to come immediately to the point; I have no hopes, Sir Zachary, from your generosity, and therefore have to appeal to your interest. You want five thousand pounds to
Prevent the foreclosure of your mortgage; the inclosed letter will better explain what remains. Yours, HYMENEA."
In this letter was inclosed the following: "Messers. Sneak and Snivel, solicitors to Lord Lovelace, present their compliments to Sir Zachary Wizen, and at the request of Lady Lovelace, are willing to advance the sum of five thousand pounds to Sir Zachary, and to take the transfer of the mortgage for any time which may suit the convenience of Sir Zachary."
My aunt again came to my assistance. "My dear Hymenæa," said she, “your father is possessed with the unhappy spirit of matrimony, and if you remain in the country you may depend upon a new proposal from him every Justice meeting. It is truly absurd that a girl like you, my dear, and with such a fortune, should go begging amongst country Squires, and a few chance comers; I must rescue you from this situation. You are now in your twentieth year, and it is time that you should be introduced, and take the station which belongs to you in the world. You shall accompany me to London. This proposal was accordingly made to my fa
To this letter we received an immediate answer. Suffice it to say, that Sir Zachary accepted the terms, and that I was fortunate enough to rid myself of him without|ther, and as he had become much disgusted a breach with my father.
Nothing now remained but to take some due precautions for the future, that my father's anxious ingenuity in finding a suitable match for me might not again involve me in still more unpleasant proposals.
by his ill success, and my ill-luck, as he called it, he very willingly assented.
In my next, Sir, you shall be informed of my adventures in search of a husband in London. HYMENEA.
ISLE OF SKY, NORTH BRITAIN.
TO THE LADY SYBILLA MACKEN.
"MADAM,-In pursuance of the geberal invitation which you have given, I deem it unnecessary to make any apology for this otherwise abrupt address. I am in a situation, Madam, which requires consolation and advice, and you have come forward in a character from which I may reasonably expect both. If there be a person whose situation is truly entitled to compassion, and in which that compassion cannot be obstructed by any rising envy, it is mine. I have somewhere read that the sorrows of the rich are seldom very pitiable, because they carry in themselves, as it were, a very powerful alleviation; this is not true, Madam, the rich may be as completely miserable as the wretch who starves in a ditch; and where their misery is of a nature on which their wealth cannot act as a palliative, I really can see no sufficient reason why, under equal affliction,||
they should not be entitled to an equal portion of pity.
"You will better understand my actual situation by a detailed narrative of its origin; it is so intimately connected with the history of my life, that you would un derstand it very imperfectly unless by a full narrative.
"My father was a naval officer, who being wounded in the service, and having very good interest, retired on a pension, but with the privilege of progressive rank. Having been likewise successful in prizemoney, and what is equally material, ob. tained it from the prize courts, he carried with him into his retreat such a considerable fortune as enabled him to purchase a good estate, with a capital mansion. I was nine years old when my father brought me to reside with him on his estate. I was his only child; my mother had died some years since.
"In the same action in which my father || necessary to give you a more perfect idea had been wounded, an officer of the same of her character. She was about forty rank with himself, and one who had been years of age, but having what is called a his shipmate almost during the whole of fine face, and a tall commanding figure, their naval course, was killed by his side. was still handsome, and had much the air He was enabled to articulate a few words, of a woman of quality. Her husband had the substance of which was to recommend filled high commissions in the French serto his protection his son, a young midship- vice, and she was evidently a woman of man on board the same vessel. In such birth and great connections; she had passed circumstances it is unnecessary to inform her youth in the court of Marie Antoinette; you that the recommendation of a friend she was gay, profligate, totally without mohas something sacred in it, and that the ac- ral or religious principle; in short, had no ceptance of it is, as it were, sealed by the other rule of life but her will, and a kind act of nature itself. My father therefore of loose decorum, a vague honour which from this moment considered the boy as consulted appearances and the opinion of his own, and purchased his estate in the the world, with a perfect contempt for the neighbourhood of Plymouth, that he might mere duty itself. in some degree be at hand to watch over his charge. As some of the parties which must be hereafter mentioned in my history are still living, you must permit me to employ the veil of fictitious names; I have no wish unnecessarily to wound the feel-matter, seeing my father a widower she reings of others.
"The young Constant, therefore, for thus I shall call him, being considered by my father as his son, was in the habit of passing all that time at F- which he could procure from his naval duties. My father, partly from the memory of his friend, and partly from a natural benevolence, be came gradually as attached to the youth as if he had been his parent; he took the same pains with his education as with my own; and Constant had the good fortune of being in a ship where there was a learned and pious chaplain; under the instructions of this gentleman, Constant was enabled to unite the knowledge of a gentleman with his professional skill.
"My father had taken a governess into the house to instruct me in what he deemed necessary for a female. He had chosen this lady upon a very erroneous principle. She was a French woman, the wife of an officer who had been taken prisoner by the English; the officer had died at Plymouth, and his widow being in distress, was recommended to my father as a governess. Without any other consideration than this cir'cumstance of her distress, my father immediately took her into his house, and gave me into her exclusive charge.
"This woman had so large a share in my subsequent misfortunes, that I deem it
"Madame l'Astute, therefore, was no sooner well settled in my father's house than she began to look at the ground around her, and to deliberate to what advantage she might turn it. To make short of the
solved that he should not long continue so.
"This event had scarcely been concluded when the peace of Versailles, which terminated the American war, caused the naval force to be reduced, and Constant, now a Lieutenant, came in consequence to live with my father. Constant was now in his twentieth year; I was in my eighteenth. I have hitherto omitted to mention that my father never made a secret from either of us that he had intended us for each other. On the other hand, with that plainness and directness which characterised all his proceedings, he had even instructed us to correspond with each other, and took peculiar delight in reading the letters of Constant.
This young boy is like myself,' said he; I was just like him at his age; I was afraid of no enemy, and I loved as warmly as I fought.'
"The age of eighteen is fully susceptible enough without any such extraordinary
encouragement. It will be no reasonable | Constant; and having been in England
subject of surprise, therefore, that with the united addresses of the young man himself, added to the persuasions of my father, I became tenderly attached to Constant, almost before I knew the very nature of the sentiment. Constant, in the intervals of leave of absence, had improved this affection; he was naturally, as it were, formed for a lover; ardent, extravagant, and with that mixture of romantic absurdity which in a man of acknowledged sense is all powerful with the women. I will not weary you by unnecessary circumstances; to cut the matter short, therefore, when Constant returned to my father's house ou the conclusion of the American war, I loved him as affectionately as was consistent with modesty; Constant was equally enamoured upon his part, and the neighbourhood were in impatient expectation that our wedding would revive the en:e:tainments and hospitalities which had been lately given on account of my father's marriage.
"I need not observe to you, Madam, that the highest point of happiness is naturally too adjacent to the lowest depth of misery; that the one is, as it were, but too frequently a precipice, upon gaining the summit of which we almost necessarily fall into the other. Alas! how soon was this verified with respect to me and Constant.
"Constaut and myself had one day been walking in my father's park, and as the day of our union was now fixed to take place on my father's birth-day (an interval of about a month from the time of which I am now speaking), under these circumstances, I say, we were settling the future plan of our life, and weaving those scenes of imaginary happiness which were natural to our age and situation. To you, Madam, I need not say that the tenderness of my lover produced an impression which no time will erase, and that in the full conviction of his love and honour I had no other restraints than those which belong to a virtuous affection. On our return home my father met us.-'Alicia and Con-tant,' said ke, addressing us, there is a new visitor come to grace your union; my wife has found her younger brother. The Count de la Plaisance, a peer of France, has just arrived; he very strongly resembles you,
in early life he speaks English like a native. I must confess that I wish you to give him something beyond an ordinary welcome; I wish you to do this from respect to my wife.'
"With these words my father led us to the Count. He precisely answered his description of him; he was a tall, elegant man, about thirty-five, with a countenance at once gay and intelligent. I must do him the justice to acknowledge, that I never beheld a more prepossessing figure or countenance.
"His manners corresponded with the elegance of his personal figure. He had been brought up at the old court of France under the Duke de Choiseul, and having recommended himself to the sovereign and the minister, bad been successively made Colonel of a regiment at twenty-five, and a peer of France at thirty. Some part indeed of his speedy advancement had been imputed to the favour of the Queen, and this favour itself was in no inconsiderable degree attributed to his handsome person and his elegant manners. Be this as it may, he was sent on a special commission to the court of the Empress of Russia, and thence, as it was supposed in progress of the same affair, to England.-Such was the cause of his arrival amongst us.
"His disposition, his gaiety, his apparent goodness of intention, rendered him our inseparable companion; and the Commodore, my father, became as attached to him as Constant and myself. Indeed I know not how it was that he grew so insensibly into our general esteem and af fection, that even when an occurrence took place, which should totally have changed my opinion, it seemed as it were to lose its very nature, and what would have been a crime and a breach of hospitality in another, seemed in the Count but an act of thoughtless gaiety, an imprudence resulting from the carelessness, or the softness of his nature.
"That I may not weary you, Madam, I will endeavour to abridge my narrative. even at the expence of perspicuity; suf fice it therefore to say, that a short period after the arrival of the Count had elapsed, before I thought I discovered something particular in his attentions to myself.