Imagens das páginas
PDF

knew very little of our sect.”—“Truly, madam,” said Adams, ‘I think you are in the right: I should have insisted to know a piece of her mind, when I had carried matters so far.” But Mrs. Graveairs desired the lady to omit all such fulsome stuff in her story, for that it made her sick. Well, then, madam, to be as concise as possible, said the lady, many weeks had not passed after this interview, before Horatio and Leonora were what they call on a good footing together. All ceremonies except the last were now over; the writings were now drawn, and every thing was in the utmost forwardness preparative to the putting Horatio in possession of all his wishes. T will, if you please, repeat you a letter from each of them, which I have got by heart, and which will give you no small idea of their passion on both sides. Mrs. Graveairs objected to hearing these letters; but being put to the vote, it was carried against her by all the rest in the coach; Parson Adams contending for it with the utmost vehemence.

HoRATIO TO LEONORA.

“How vain, most adorable creature, is the pursuit of pleasure in the absence of an object to which the mind is entirely devoted, unless it have some relation to that object! I was last night condemned to the society of men of wit and learning, which, however agreeable it might have formerly been to me, now only gave me a suspicion that they imputed my absence in conversation to the true cause. For which reason, when your engagements forbid me the ecstatic happiness of seeing you, I am always desirous to be alone: since my sentiments for Leonora are so delicate, that I cannot bear the apprehension of another's prying into those delightful endearments with which the warm imagination of a lover will sometimes indulge him, and which I suspect my eyes then betray. To fear this discovery of our thoughts, may perhaps appear too ridicuculous a nicety to minds not susceptible of all the tenderness of this delitate passion. And surely we shall suspect there are few such, when we consider that it requires every human virtue to exert itself in its full extent; since the beloved, whose happiness it ultimately . may give us charming opportunities of being brave in her defence, generous to her wants, compassionate to her afflictions, grateful to her kindness; and in the same manner of exercising every other virtue, which he who would not do to any degree, and that with the utmost rapture, can never deserve the name of a lover. It is therefore with a view to the delicate modesty of your mind that I cultivate it so purely in my own: and it is that which ji". ciently suggest to you the uneasiness I bear

from those liberties, which men, to whom the world allow politeness, will sometimes give themselves on these occasions. “Can I tell you with what eagerness I expect the arrival of that blessed day, when I shall experience the falsehood of a common assertion, that the geot human happiness consists in hope A doctrine which no person had ever stronger reason to believe than myself, at present, since none ever tasted such bliss as fires my bosom with the thoughts of spending my future days with such a companion, and that every action of my life will have the glorious satisfaction of conducing to your happiness.”

LEoNors. To HoRATIo."

“The refinement of your mind has been so evidently proved by every word and action ever since I had first the pleasure of knowing you, that I thought it impossible my good opinion of Horatio could have been heightened to any additional proof of merit. This very thought was my amusement when I received your last letter, which, when I opened, I confess I was surprised to find the delicate sentiments expressed there, so far exceeding what I thought could come even from you, (although I know all the generous principles human nature is capable of, are centered in your breast) that words cannot paint what I feel on the reflection that my happiness shall be the ultimate end of all your actions.

“Oh, Horatio! what a life must that be, where the meanest domestic cares are sweetened by the pleasing consideration, that the man on earth who best deserves, and to whom you are most inclined to give your affections, is to reap either profit or pleasure from all you do? In such a case, toils must be turned into diversions, and nothing but the unavoidable inconveniences of life can make us remember that we are mortal.

“If the solitary turn of your thoughts, and the desire of keeping them undiscovered makes even the conversation of men of wit and learning tedious to you, what anxious hours must I spend, who am condemned by custom to the conversation of women, whose natural curiosity leads them to pry into all my thoughts, and whose envy can never suffer Horatio’s heart to be possessed by anyone, without forcing them into malicious designs against the person who is so happy as to possess it? But, indeed, if ever envy can possibly have any excuse, or even alleviation, it is in this case, where the good is so great, that it must be equally natural to all to wish for it for themselves; nor am I ashamed to own it: and to your merit, Horatio, I am obliged: that prevents my

* This letter was written by a young lady on reading the former.

being in that most uneasy of all the situations I can figure in my imagination, of being led by inclination to love the person whom my own judgement forces me to condemn.” Matters were in so great forwardness between this fond couple, that the day was fixed for their marriage, and was now within a fortnight, when the sessions chanced to be held for that county in a town about twenty miles distance from that which is the scene of our storv. It seems, it is usual for the young gentlemen of the bar to repair to these sessions, not so much for the sake of profit, as to show their parts, and learn the law of the justices of peace; for which purpose one of the wisest and gravest of all the justices is appointed speaker, or chairman as they modestly call it, and he reads them a lecture, and instructs them in the true knowledge of the law. ‘You are here guilty of a little mistake,” says Adams, ‘which is you please I will correct: I have o at one of these quarter-sessions, where I observed the counsel taught the justices instead of learning any thing of them.’ It is not very material, said the lady. Hither repaired Horatio, who, as he hoped by his profession to advance his fortune, which was not at present very large, for the sake of his dear Leonora, he resolved to spare no pains, nor lose any only of improving or advancing himselfin it. he same afternoon in which he left the town, as Leonora stood at her window, a coach and six passed by, which she declared to be the completest, gentcelest, prettiest equipage she ever saw; adding these remarkable words, “O, I am in love with that equipage;’ which, though her friend Florella at that time did not greatly regard, she hath since remembered. . in the evening an assembly was held, which Leonora honoured with her company: but intended to pay her Horatio the compliment of refusing to dance in his absence. 0, why have not women as good resolution to maintain their vows, as they have often good inclinations in making them The gentleman who owned the coach and six came to the assembly. His clothes were as remarkably fine as his equipage could be. He soon attracted the eyes of the company; all the smarts, all the silk waistcoats with silver and gold edgings, were eclipsed in an instant. ‘Madam,” said Adams, ‘if it be not impertinent, I should be glad to know how this gentleman was drest.’ Sir, answered the lady, I have been told he had on a cut velvet coat of a cinnamon colour, lined with a pink satin, embroidered

all over with gold; his waistcoat, which

was cloth of silver, was embroidered with gold likewise. I cannot be particular as to the rest of his dress; but it was all in the French fashion, for Bellarmine, (that was his name,) was just arrived from Paris. This fine figure did not more entirely engage the eyes of every lady in the assembly, than Leonora did his. He had scarce beheld her, but he stood motionless, and fixed as a statue, or at least would have done so if good breeding had permitted him. However, he carried it so far, before he had power to correct himself, that every person in the room easily discovered where his admiration was settled. The other ladies began to single out their former partners, as perceiving who would be Bellarmine's choice; which they, however, endeavoured by all possible means to prevent: many of them saying to Leonora, ‘O madam' I suppose we shan’t have the pleasure of seeing you dance to-night; and then crying out, in Bellarmine's hearing, ‘O' Leonora will not dance I assure you: her partner is not here.” One maliciously attempted to prevent her, by sending a disagreeable fellow to ask her, that so she might be obliged either to dance with him, or sit down; Tut this scheme proved abortive. Leonora saw herself admired by the fine stranger, and envied by every woman present. Her little heart began to flutter within her, and her head was agitated with a convulsive motion: she seemed as if she would speak to several of her acquaintance, but had nothing to say: for as she could not mention her present triumph, so she could not disengage her thoughts one moment from the contemplation of it. She had never tasted any thing like this happiness. She had before known what it was to torment a single woman; but to be hated and secretly cursed by a whole assembly, was a joy reserved for this blessed moment. As this vast profusion of ecstacy had confounded her understanding, so there was nothing so foolish as her behaviour; she played a thousand childish tricks, distorted her person into several shapes, and her face into several laughs, without any reason. In a word, her carriage was as absurd as her desires, which were to affect an insensibility of the stranger's admiration, and at the same time a triumph, from that admiration, over every woman in the room. In this temperosmind, Bellarmine, havi inquired who she was, advanced to her, an with a low bow begged the honour of dancing with her, which she, with as low a curtsey, immediately granted. She danced with him all night, and enjoyed perhaps the . pleasure that she was capable of eeling. At ise words, Adams fetched a deep groan, which frightened the ladies, who told him, ‘ #. i. he was not ill.” He answered, “He groaned only for the folly of Leonora.” Leonora retired, (continued the lady,) about six in the morning, but not to rest, she tumbled and tossed in her bed, with very short intervals of sleep, and those entirely filled with dreams of the equipage and fine clothes she had seen, and the balls, operas, and ridottos, which had been the subject of their conversation. In the afternoon, Bellarmine, in the dear coach and six, came to wait on her. He was indeed charmed with her person, and was, on inquiry, so well pleased with the circumstances of her father, (for he himself, notwithstanding all his finery, was not quite so rich as a Croesus or an Attalus.) ‘Attalus,’ says Mr. Adams, “but pray how came you acquainted with these names o' The lady smiled at the question, and proceeded. He was so pleased, I say, that he resolved to make his addresses to her directly. He did so accordingly, and that with so much warmth and briskness, that he quickly basfled her weak repulses, and obliged the lady to refer him to her father, who, she knew, would quickly declare in favour of a coach and six. Thus, what Horatio had by sighs and tears, love and tenderness, been so long obtaining, the French-English Bellarmine with gayety and gallantry possessed himself of in an instant. In other words, what modesty had employed a full year in raising, impudence demolished in twenty-four hours.

Here Adams groaned a second time; but the ladies, who began to smoke him, took no notice.

From the o of the assembly till the end of Bellarmine's visit, Leonora had scarce once thought of Horatio; but he now began, though an unwelcome guest, to enter into her mind. She wished she had seen the charming Bellarmine and his charming equipage, before matters had gone so far. ‘Yet why, says she, “should I wish to have seen him before; or what signifies it that I have seen him now 2 Is not Horatio my lover, almost my husband 2 Is he not as handsome, may handsomer, than Bellarmine? Ay, but Bellarmine is the genteeller and the finer man; yes, that he must be allowed. Yes, yes, he is that certainly. But did not I, no longer ago than yesterday, love Horatio more than othe world? Ay, but yesterday I had not seen Bellarmine. But doth not Horatio doat on me, and may he not in despair break his heart if I abandon him 2 Well, and hath not Bellarmine a heart to break too? Yes, but I promised Horatio first; but that was poor Bellarmine's misfortune; if I had seen him first, I should certainly have preferred him. Did

not the dear creature preser me to every woman in the assembly, when every she was laying out for him? When was it in Horatio's power to give me such an instance of affection ? Can he give me an equipage, or any of those things which Bellarmine will make me mistress of How vast is the difference between being the wife of a poor counsellor, and the wife of one of Bellarmine's fortune! If I marry Horatio, I shall triumph over no more than one rival; but by marrying Bellarmine, I shall be the envy of all my acquaintance. ‘What happiness! But can I suffer Horatio to die? for he hath sworn he cannot survive my loss: but perhaps he may not die : if he should, can so it? Must I sacrifice myself to him? besides, Bellarmine may be as miserable for me too.” She was thus arguing with herself, when some young ladies called her to the walks, and a ittle relieved her . for the present. The next morning Bellarmine breakfasted with her in presence of her aunt, whom he sufficiently informed of his passion for Leonora. He was no sooner withdrawn than the old lady began to advise her niece on this occasion. “You see, child,’ says she, ‘what fortune hath thrown in your way; and I hope you will not withstand your own preferment.” Leonora, sighing, begged her not to mention any such thing when she knew her engagements to Horatio. “Engagements to a fig, cried the aunt; ‘you should thank Heaven on your knees, that you have it yet in your power to break them. Will any woman hesitate a moment, whether she shall ride in a coach or walk on foot all the days of her life? But Bellarmine drives six, and Horatio not even a pair.’ —‘Yes, but madam, what will the world say?' answered Leonora: ‘will not they condemn me?”—“The world is always on the side of prudence, cries the aunt," and would surely condemn you if you sacrificed your interest to any motive whatever, 0 , I know the world very well; and you show your ignorance, my dear, by your objection, O, my conscience the world is wiser. I have lived longer in it than you; and I assure you there is not any thing worth our regard besides money; nor did I ever know one person who married from other considerations, who did not afterwards heartily repent it. Besides, if we examine the two men, can you prefer a sneaking fellow, who has been bred at the university, to a fine gentleman just come from his travels? All the world must allow Bellarmine to be a fine gentleman, positively a fine gentleman, and a handsome man.”—“Perhaps, madam, I should not doubt if I knew how to be handsomely off with the other.’— O' leave that to me,’ says the aunt. ‘You know your father hath not been acquainted with

the affair. Indeed, for my part I thought it might do well enough, not dreaming of an offer; but I’ll disengage you: leave me to give the fellow an answer. I warrant you shall have no farther trouble.” Leonora was at length satisfied with her aunt's reasoning; and Bellarmine supping with her that evening, it was agreed he should the next morning go to her father and propose the match, which she consented should be consummated at his return. The aunt retired soon after supper, and the lovers being left together, Bellarmine began in the following manner: “Yes, madam ; this coat, I assure you, was made at Paris, and I desy the best English tailor even to imitate it. There is not one of them can cut, madam; they can’t cut. If you observe how this skirt is turned, and this sleeve; a clumsy English rascal can do nothing like it. Pray how do you like my liveries?” Leonora answered, “she thought them very pretty.”—“All French,’ says he, ‘I assure you, except the great coats; I never trust any thing more than a great coat to an Englishman. You know one must encourage our own people what one can, especially as before I had a place, I was in the country interest, he, he, hel But for myself, I would see the dirty island at the bottom of the sea, rather than wear a single rag of English work about me; and I am sure, after you have made one tour to Paris, you will be of the same opinion with regard to your own clothes. You can’t conceive what an addition a French dress would be to your beauty; I positively assure you, at the first opera I saw since I came over, I mistook the English ladies for chambermaids, he, he, he l’ With such sort of polite discourse did the gay Bellarmine entertain his beloved Leonora, when the door opened on a sudden, and Horatio entered the room. Here’tis impossible to express the surprise of Leonora. “Poor woman,’ says Mrs. Slipslop, ‘what a terrible quandary she must be in P ‘Not at all,' *: Mrs. Graveairs; “such sluts can never be confounded.’ “She must have then more than Corinthian assurance,’ says Adams; “ay, more than Lais herself.” A long silence, continued the lady, prevailed in the whole company. If the familiar entrance of Horatio struck the greatest astonishment into Bellarmine, the unexpected presence of Bellarmine no less surprised Horatio. At length Leonora, collecting all the spirit she was mistress of, addressed herself to the latter, and pretended to wonder at the reason of so late a visit. “I should, indeed,” answered he, “have made some apology for disturbing you at this hour, had not my finding you in company assured me I do not break in upon your repose.” Bellarmine rose from his i. traversed the

room in a minuet step, and hummed an opera tune; while Horatio, advancing to Leonora, asked her, in a whisper, if that gentleman was not a relation of hers; to which she answered with a smile, or rather sneer, ‘No, he is no relation yet; adding, ‘she could not guess the meaning of his question.” Horatio told her softly, “It did not arise from jealousy.” “Jealousy " I assure you, it would be very strange in a common acquaintance to give himself any of those airs.” These words a little surprised Horatio; but before he had time to answer, Bellarmine danced up to the lady, and told her, “he feared he interrupted some business between her and the gentleman.” “I can have no business,” said she, “with the gentleman, nor any other, which need be any secret to you.’ ‘You’ll pardon me,’ said Horatio, “if I desire to know who this gentleman is, who is to be entrusted with all our secrets.”— ‘You’ll know soon enough, cries Leonora; “but I can’t guess what secrets can ever pass between us of such mighty consequence.”—“No, madam!' cries Horatio; “I’m sure you would not have me understand you in earnest.”—‘’Tis indifferent to me,’ says she, “how you understand me; but I think so unseasonable a visit is difficult to be understood at all, at least when people find one engaged: though one's servants do not deny one, one may expect a well-bred person should soon take the hint.”—“Madam,” said Horatio, “I did not imagine any engagement with a st r, as it seems this gentleman is, would have made my visit impertinent, or that *"... ceremonies were to be preserved between persons in our situation.”—“Sure you are in a dream,” says she, “or old persuade me that I am in one. I know no pretensions a common acquaintance can have to lay aside the ceremonies of good breeding.” —‘Sure,’ says he, “I am in a dream; for it is impossible I should be really esteemed a common acquaintance by Leonora, after what has passed between us!”—“Passed between us! Do you intend to affront me before this gentleman?”—“D—n me, affront the lady!' says Bellarmine, cocking his hat and strutting up to Horatio: “does any man dare affront this lady before me, d-n me?”—“Harkee, sir,’ says Horatio, ‘I would advise you to lay aside that fierce air; for I am mightily deceived if this lady has not a violent desire to get your worship a good drubbing.”—“Sir,’ said Bellarmine, ‘I have the honour to be her protector; and d-n me, if I understand your meaning.”—“Sir,’ answered Horatio, “she is rather your protectress: but give yourself no more airs, for you see I am prepared for you,” (shaking his whip at him.) "Oh! serviteur tres humble,” says Bellarmine: “Je vous entend par. faitment bien.”. At which time the aunt, who had heard of Horatio’s visit, entered the room, and soon satisfied all his doubts. She convinced him that he was never more awake in his life, and that nothing more extraordinary had happened in his three days’ absence, than a small alteration in the affections of Leonora ; who now burst into tears, and wondered what reason she had given him to use her in so barbarous a manner. Horatio desired Bellarmine to withdraw with him; but the ladies prevented it, by laying violent hands-on the latter; upon o the former took his leave without any great ceremony, and departed, leaving the lady with his rival, to consult for his safety, which Leonora feared her indiscretion might have endangered; but the aunt comforted her with assurances, that Horatio would not venture his person against so accomplished a cavalier as Bellarmine, and that, being a lawyer, he would seek revenge in his own way, and the most they had to apprehend from him was an action. They at length, therefore, agreed to permit Bellarmine to retire to his lodgings, having first settled all matters relating to the journey which he was to undertake in the morning, and their preparations for the nuptials at his return. ut alas! as wise men have observed, the seat of valour is not the countenance; and many a grave and plain man will, on a just provocation, betake himself to that mischievous metal, cold iron; while men of a fiercer brow, and sometimes with that emblem of courage, a cockade, will more prudently decline it. Leonora was awaked in the morning, from a visionary coach and six, with the dismal account that Bellarmine was run through the body by Horatio; that he lay languishing at an inn, and the surgeons had declared the wound mortal. She immediately leaped out of the bed, danced about the room in a frantic manner, tore her hair, and beat her breast in all the agonies of desair; in which sad condition her aunt, who ikewise arose at the news, found her. The d old lady applied her utmost art to comort her niece. §. told her, “while there was life there was hope; but that if he should die, her affliction would be of no service to Bellarmine, and would only exo herself, which might probably keep er some time without any future offer; that as matters had happened, her wisest way would be to think no more of Bellarmine, out to endeavour to regain the affections of Horatio.”—“Speak not to me,’ cried the disconsolate Leonora : “is it not ogr to me that poor Bellarmine has lost his life? Have not these cursed charms,” (at which words she looked steadfastly in the glass,)

‘been the ruin of the most charming man of this age? Can I ever bear to contemplate my own face again?' (with her eyes still fixed on the glass.) ‘Am I not the murderess of the finest gentleman? No other woman in the town could have made any impression on him.”—“Never think of things past, cries the aunt, “think of regaining the affections of Horatio.”—“What reason,’ said the niece, ‘have I to hope he would forgive me? No, I have lost him, as well as the other, and it was your wicked advice which was the occasion of all; you seduced me, contrary to my inclinations, to abandon r Horatio,” (at which words she burst into tears:) “you prevailed upon me, whether I would or no, to give up my affections for him: had it not been for you, Bellarmine never would have entered into my thoughts: had not his addresses been backed by your persuasions, they never would have made any impression on me; I should have defied all the fortune and equipage in the world; but it was you, it was you, who got the better of my youth and simplicity, and forced me to lose my dear Horatio for ever.’

The aunt was almost borne down with this torrent of words; she, however, rallied all the strength she could, and drawing her mouth up in a purse, began: ‘I am not surprised, niece, at this ingratitude. . Those who advise young women for their interest, must always expect such a return: I am convinced my brother will thank me for breaking off your match with Horatio at any rate.”—“That may not be in your power yet,” answered Leonora, ‘ though it is very ungrateful in you to desire or attempt it, after the presents you have received from him.’ (For indeed true it is, that many presents, and some pretty valuable ones, had passed from Horatio to the old lady; but as true it is, that Bellarmine, when breakfasted with her and her niece, had complimented her with a brilliant from his finger, of much greater value than all she had touched of the other.)

The aunt's gall was on float to reply, when a servant brought a letter into the room; which Leonora, hearing it came from Bellarmine, with great eagerness opened, and read as follows:

“Most divine creature,

“The wound which I fear you have heard I received from my rival, is not like to be so fatal as those shot into my heart, which have been fired from your eyes, tout brilliant. Those are the only cannons by which I am to fall; for my surgeon gives me hopes of being soon able to attend your ruelle; till when, unless you would do me an honour which I have scarce the hardiesse to think

« AnteriorContinuar »