« AnteriorContinuar »
The Brother's Letter, SIR,
I know not of any gentleman who ever yet honored me with his com. pany, for whom I have a greater regard than yourself; and the agreea. ble hours we have spent together, cannot be equalled unless they are repeated. When I read your first letter to my sister, I considered your proposal of marriage as the highest honor that could be conferred on our family; and yet, without partiality, I firmly believe that the womao to whom you have paid your addresses has merit equal to any in the world. She returned from the boarding school about ten years ago during which time she has superintended the affairs of my family, and conducted them with such prudence as is seldom met with in one of her years. Many offers have been made to her, by fox hunters in our neigh. borhood, but their characters were so totally opposite to her sentiments that she rejected them with the utmost disdain, although apparently ben. eficial. My sister, sir, has mnch more refined notions than to pay any. more regard to affluence than what would procure her an independent subsistence, and too great a regard to her conscience to sacrifice her peace of mind to enjoy the greatest earthly grandeur. To use her own words, she considers riches as laying her under an additional obligation to act for the good of her fellow creatures, as a faithful steward of that Al mighty Being, who has declared that he will exact a strict account from his creatures, in what manner they have used those gifts which his un bounded liberality has bestowed. Her leisure hours have been spent in reading; and when I have met with her in the garden or in the fields she had constantly in her hands either Thomson, Milton, or Young, bus most commonly the Bible. It may possibly occur to your thoughts that what I have said in commendation of a beloved sister arises from a fra. ternal affection ; but I do assure you, sir, that I could not help repeat. ing her many accomplishments, were you an utter stranger, and even a married man.
person even destitute of virtue and sensibility might remain ignorant of my sister's merits forever; but, by one of your worth I doubt not but they will be estimated by their real value. Light and darkness cannot dwell together, nor can those of opposite tempers ever be happy; but where there is an intellectual as well as corporeal union, nothing in this life can interrupt its rational enjoyment. But I had ab most forgot that I was writing to one who is well acquainted with these things; nor should I have enlarged so much had not I regarded your friendship and interest on the one hand, and my sister's happiness op the other. Yet, not to detain you any longer, my consent for a lappy onion is not only at your service, but, as I said before, I shall consider it as a very happy event; and have not the least doubt of your ever repenting of your choice. I have heard that secular affairs call for your attendance in London ; when those are settled I shall be glad to hear from you, and also of my sister and you being happily joined in marriage. In the nsan time, she is at my buse, where you may freels correspond, an I am
Your sincere friend.
LETTER 119. From the Gentleman, after his arrival in London, to the Lady in
the country. MY DEAR,
For so I must now call you; I arrived here last night, and ezbrace diis first opportunity of writing.
What a busy place is London! What a variety of objects, strang faces, and what a continual hurry of business! The citizens acquring fortunes by trade, whilst the nobility and gentry are squandering away their estates lef. them by their ancestors; but such has always been th. conduct of mankind in trading nations. One sows, another reaps, whilst a third part enjoys the fruit of their labor. For my own part, I 214 neither fond of gaiety nor solitude. In all things there is a mediun, which ought to be preferred to extremes. A sudden elevation to affil ence or grandeur, and a sudden fall from either, are equally dangerous the one too often plunges the person into all sorts of immorality, whilst the effects of the other are most commonly despair. I would choose : spend three months in every year in London, and the remainder in this country; This, in my opinion, is a more rational scheme than the pres ent mode of continually hurrying froin place to place, without scarcever relishing the pleasures of any. But I had almost forgot to whon I am writing. As soon as I have settled my affairs here, which wil take up about three weeks, I intend going 10 Windsor, to visit my daughters at their boarding school, and from thence hasten to your brother's, when I hope that union will take place which must terminate only with our lives. I have employed my attorney to draw up articles of a jointure for you, and which I shall bring along with me, to be sign. ed in the presence of your friends. I hope your brother and his wife are well. I received his excellent letter, and heartily thank him for the contents.
I am, my dear, yours sincerely and affectionately.
LETTER 120. From a Lover to his Mistress, lately recovered from sickness MY DEAR,
This day's post has brought me the joyful news of your happy rccop. ery. The indispensable necessity I was under of attending my business at this place hindered me from beholding, on a sick bed, all that is dear to me in the world ; but I need not persuade you to believe this, as ] aope you have had sufficient proofs omy fidelity; and what I have suffered on account of your illness may be felt but not expressed. When I took the letter in my hand I trembled, and possibly should not hars bad courage to open it had not the seal been red To cne oppressed with fear the smallest matter yields a glimpse of hope. I opened the letter, and you may easily imagine what was my joy, when, instead of reading an account of your death, it contained the delightful news of your recovery, written by your father.
Ah! thought I, my charmer is still weak, or she would not have employed another hand. This led me to fear a relapse ; but I hope mat God, whose great
mercy has preserved you hitherto, will perfect your recovery. You are constamly in my thoughts, and I pray for you every day. That I may once more be happy in sceing you, I have sent for my brother to manage my business during my absence. I expect him here in about ten days, when nothing but sickness shall prevent my coming. You will receive by the coach a small parcel containing some of the newest patterns both of silks and laces, together with some other things. Such trises are scarce wɔr:h mentioning ; but I hope you will accept them as a testimo. ny of my sin ere love to hei whom in a row monis I be pe to call ...y
Present my duty to your honored parents, and believe me to be with the greatest sincerity,
Your ever affectionate lover
LETTER 121 From a rich young Gentleman, to a beautiful young Lady, with no
fortune. MISS SOPHIA,
It is a general reflection agains: the manners of the present age, that marriage is only considered one of the methods by which avarice may be satisfied, and poverty averted; that neither the character nor accomplishments of the woman are much regarded, her merit being estimated by the thousands of her fortune. I acknowledge that the accusation is too true, and to that may be ascribe the way umisppy Gali: 9 ye daily meet with ; for how is it possible that those should ever have the same affection for each other, who were forced to comply with terms to which they had the utmost aversion, as if they had been allowed to consult their own inclinations and give their hands where they have en gaged their hearts ? For my own part, I have been always determined to consult my inclination where there is the least appearance happiness; and having an easy independency, am not anxious about increas ing it; being well convinced that in all states the middle one is best, I mean neither poverty nor riches; which leads me to the discovery of a passion for you, which I have long endeavored to conceal.
The opportunities which I have had of conversing with you at Mrs Baker's have at last convinced me that merit and riches are far frono being connected, and that a woman may have those qualifications ne cessry to adorn her sex, although adverse fortune has denied her money. I am sure all those virtues necessary to make me happy in the marriage state are centred in you, and whatever objection you may have to my per. son, yet I hope there can be none to my character; and if you will consent to be mine, it shall be my constant study to make your life agreeable, and under the endearing character of a husband endeavor to supply your early loss of the best of parents. I shall expect your answer as soon as possible, for I wait for it with the utmost impatience.
I am your affectionate lover.
The young Lady's Answer BIR,
I received your letter yesterday, and gratitude for the generous proposal which you have made obliges me to thank you heartily for the contents.
As I have no objections either to your person or character, you will give me leave to deal sincerely, and state those things which at present have great weight with me, and perhaps must ever remain unanswered, and hinder me from entering into that state against which I have not the least aversion.
You well know, at least I imagine so, that the proposal you have mde ne is a recret both to your iela.ions and friends; and would you desire me to rush precipitately into the marriage state, where I have the greatest reason to fear that I should be looked upon with contempt by those whom nature had connected me with ? I should consider myself obliged to promote the happiness of my husband; and how consistent would a step of that nature be with such a resolution ? You know that I was left an orphan, and had it not been for the pious care of Mrs. Ba. ker, must have been brought up in a state of servitude. You know that I have no fortune, and were I to accept of your offer, it would lay me under such obligations as must destroy my liberty. Gratitude and love are two very different things. The one supposes a benefit received, whereas the other is a free act of the will. Suppose me raised to the joint possession of your fortune, could I call it mine unless I had brought you something as an equivalent ; or, have I not great reason to fear that you yourseit may consider me as under obligations inconsistent with the character of a wife ? I acknowledge the great generosity of your offer, and would consider myself happy could I prevail with myself to prefer to peace of mind the enjoyment of an affluent fortune. But as I have been very sincere in my answer, so let me beg that you will eradi. cate a passion, which, if nourished longer, may prove fatal to us both.
Yours with great respect.
The Gentleman's Reply. MY DEAR SOPHIA,
Was it not cruel to start so many objections ? Or could you suppose me capable of so base an action as to destroy your freedom and peace of mind ? Or do you think that I am capable of ever forgetting you, or being happy in the enjoyment of another ? For God's sake do not mention gratitude any more. Your many virtues entitle you to much more than I am able to give; but all that I have shall be yours. With respect to my relations, I have none to consult beside my mother and my uncle, and their consent, and even approbation, are already obtained. You have often heard my mother declare, that she preferred my happi. ness with a woman of virtue to the greatest fortune; and although I forgot to mention it, yet I had communicated my sentiments to her before
had opened my mind to you. Let me beg you will lay aside all those unnecessary scruples, which only serve to make one unhappy who is als ready struggling under all the anxieties of real and genuine love. It is in your power, my dear, to make me happy, and none else can. not enjoy one moment's rest till I have your answer, and then the happy time shall £ fixed. Let me beg that you will not start any more objec
tions, unless you are my real enemy; but your tender nature cannot be su cruel. Be mine, my dear, and I am yours forever. My servant shall wait for an answer to your sincere lover, whose sole happiness is centred in you.
Yours most affectionately. LETTER 124.
The Lady's Rejoinder. 7 DR,
I find when one of your sex forms a resolution, you are detern.ined to go through, whatever be the event. Your answer to my first objection Í must confess is satisfactory. I wish I could say so of the others; but I find that if I must comply I shall be obliged to trust the remainder to yourself. Perhaps this is always the case, and the most cautious have been deceived. However, sir, I have communicated the contents of your letter to Mrs. Baker, as you know she has been to me as a parent. She has no objection, and I am at last resolved to comply. I must give myself up to you as a poor friendless orphan, and shall endeavor to act consistent with the rules laid down and enforced by our holy religion ; and if you should so far deviate from the paths of virtue as to upbraid me with poverty, I have no friends to complain to, but that God who is the -“ father of the fatherless.” But I have a better opinion of you than to entertain any such fears. I have left the time to your own appointment, and let me beg that you will continue in the practice of that virtuous ed. acation which you have received. Virtue is its own reward, and I can. not be unhappy with the man who prefers the duties of religion to gaiety and dissipation.
I am yours sincerely.
However light you may make of promises, yet I am foolish enough to consider thein as something more than trifles; and am likewise induced co believe that the man who vc luntarily breaks a promise will not pay much regard to an oath; and if so, in what light must I consider your conduct ? Did I not give you my promise to be yours, and had you no other reason for soliciting than merely to gratify your vanity ? A brutal gratification, indeed, to triumph over the weakness of a woman whose greatest fault was that she loved you. I say loved you, for it was in consequence of that passion I first consented to become yours. Has your conduct, sir, been consistent with my submission, or your own sol. cmn profession? Is it consistent with the character of a gentleman, Grst to obtain a woman's consent, and afterwards boast that he had dis, carded her, and found one more agreeable to his wishes ?
Do not cquivocate ; I have too convincing proofs of your insincerity;
I saw you yesterday walking with Miss Benson, and am informed that you have proposed marriage to her. Whatever you may think, sir, I have a spirit of disdain, and even of resentment, equal to your ingratitude, and can treat the wretch with a proper indifference, who can make so slight a matter of the most solemn promises. Miss Benson may beconie your wife, but she will receive into her arms a perjured husband; nor can ev