T H E

 

 

O F F S P R I N G

 

 

O F

 

 

F  A  N  C  Y,

 

 

A  N O V E L.

 

 

By  A  L A D Y.

 

 

I N  T W O  V O L U M E S.

 

 

V O L.  II.

 

 

L O N D O N:

Printed for J. BEW, Pater-noster-Row.

MDCCLXXVIII.


 

T H E

 

 

O F F S P R I N G

 

 

O F

 

F  A  N  C  Y.

*******

 

 

L E T T E R XLVII.

 

MRS. CLEMENT TO MRS. BELLAS.

 

I NOW present my dear Charlotte with my farewell epistle from Bath.—To-morrow morning at six o’clock we set forward—we go in the post-coach on account of Sophia, and leave our chaise to convey Mr. and Mrs. Baker, who are to spend a month with us, and then proceed to visit their Devonshire cousins.—Mrs. Baker (the elder) is still alive; but I believe the young man is under no great apprehension of her displeasure at present, though he has married the very woman for whom three years ago she threatened him with her curse.—Such is the transforming power of money! I often think, that we must appear a very absurd and contemptible set of beings in the eyes of that species of purity, whom we consider as the medium between us and perfection; and whom we may suppose to be strangers to the use of money.—Does a man break his word—ten to one it is money;—a woman her vows to a deserving lover—rely upon it, it is money;—in short, we not only direct our own actions, but judge of those of others through this sole medium—it is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end:—take away that consideration; and the pursuits, the anxieties, and almost all those actions which we dignify by the title of prudence—would be set in a light so ludicrous, that manhood must blush for itself.—Yet, on the other hand, many useful and laudable undertakings would be damped—genius often lie buried—and industry go unrewarded—and generosity, that most glorious of all human virtues, would lose one mode of exertion.—Upon the whole then, it is not money, but the fools who set an improper value on it, that should be held up to ridicule and contempt—for, without money, Mrs. Baker had not been able to shew distinction to merit in obscurity; nor Mr. Baker’s virtues, however bright in themselves, been either so useful or so conspicuous, fixed amongst the tin-mines in Cornwall, as they will now—set in gold.—I think I never met with a more agreeable man—destitute of the advantages of having mixed in the world, he comes from amongst peasants with the polish of a courtier; an indisputable proof, that politeness is as natural as any other grace of mind or person—true, easy, elegant, unaffected politeness, I mean; for that buckramized stiffness, which the generality of boarding-schools mistake for politeness, is no more like it, than the terrifying grimace of methodism is like true religion, whose ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths peace. Sophia says, she has given Mr. Powell no hopes; on the contrary, that, sensible as she was of the generosity of his proposals, she thought herself bound to be ingenuous in declaring her intentions, which, it seems, at present are, never to marry.—I am not apt to ask questions, you know: however, you had given me such a shocking character of the poor man, that I sadly wanted to find a counterpoise in “the generosity of his proposals,” as Sophia called them. She saw I was curious—so she gave me his letter, of which she had read a part to me before;—he is very pathetick on the subject of her cruelty, in coming down to Bath, instead of returning to his impatient wishes—hopes she will pardon his reminding her of the good fortune he had to stand well with her worthy father; and that, though he would wish to have been able to recommend himself, yet he would for the present rest upon that, and leave it to his future conduct to merit her approbation; that, if there was any mode of disposing of the two younger ladies, that could be furthered and promoted by her third of the little provision that was left, he should be happy in relinquishing his pretensions to it, whenever she blessed him with her hand;—or, if she preferred having her sisters brought up under her own care, his house was open for their reception. Now, Charlotte, don’t you think this man must have a heart? and that Sophia should rejoice at having made a conquest of it?—Not a bit—she resolves never to marry—sly baggage! I don’t believe a word of it—I told her so—she blushed, and said, “O ma’am, it is my duty to resolve so.”—I understood her; but sacred are all the communications of my Charlotte to her

 

MARIANNE.

 


 

L E T T E R  XLVIII.

 

MRS. CLEMENT TO MRS. BELLAS.

 

I HAVE such a packet of news for my dear Charlotte, that I quite long to set about the conveyance of it.—In the first place, we are all come home safe and well, for which I am sure you join with me in gratitude to heaven: next, Mr. James Clement is arrived—a sweet young man; my heart instantly gave him a brother’s place:—and, last of all—(though perhaps that is no news to you)—Mr. Powell is in town, and has sent to ask permission to wait upon Miss Mason.—We were at breakfast when the message was brought; it was upon a card, uncovered, so Francis had all the enjoyment of a verbal message.—He gave it to Sophia; she blushed, and gave it to me—and sent her eyes after it, to enquire my sentiments.—However, I always think it right to make a final appeal to Mr. Clement; so I gave it into his hand, and asked what answer Sophia should send?—He smiled, and bad her consult her nearest neighbour—at the same time laying his hand significantly on his heart.—Francis asked, “is there any answer, ma’am?”—“Yes says she, I think I will write one.”—So she went out of the room, and returned with a card, on which she had written the following words: “Miss Mason’s compliments; were she in her own house, should be happy to see any of her friends from Frogly; but at present hopes to be excused, as she is on a visit.”—Mr. Clement called her a little hypocrite—and said to Francis, “My compliments, and beg the gentleman will do me the favour to dine here at four o’clock.”—She seemed greatly embarrassed, but not displeased;—and, as a corroboration of my opinion, she is just come down in a new silver gray lutestring, which she made up at Bath, and in which, I assure you, she made more conquests than another country simpleton would have known how to manage; but either she has less passion, or more prudence, than any girl of two-and-twenty I ever knew.—Mr. Powell is come, and dinner just ready; in the evening I will give you an account of their interview; mean time, digestion wait on appetite, and health on both!

 

MARIANNE.


 

L E T T E R  XLIX.

 

MRS. CLEMENT TO MRS. BELLAS.

 

MR. Powell staid till seven o’clock; and, just as he went away, Mrs. Belmour came, and brought a Miss Dean, who is on a visit at her house; so I could not snatch a moment of yesterday evening to give you the scene I promised you.—All this morning, I have had how’d’ye’s, in such abundance, that I was obliged to leave the gentlemen to their walnuts and port, and steal this hour between dinner and tea.—After the usual civilities from stranger to stranger, Mr. Clement and I having taken our places, Miss Mason on my right, and Mr. Powell on my left; we sat down to dinner—the lovers eat but little, and spoke less.—As soon as the servants were gone, and the wine and fruit laid down, Mr. Clement began a conversation about you and my brother—expatiated on the charms of Frogly;—the weather, the politicks, and the scandal of the day, all took their turns;—still silent on the subject of their hearts, they faintly mixed in every other.—At last, I mentioned Mr. Bellas’s intention towards Eliza—then Mr. Powell began;—said, “he was sure Mr. Bellas meant for the best; but that Eliza was so lively in her manner, that he should be very apprehensive of disagreeable consequences, if she were sent amongst strangers; but most of all in London, where youth, particularly females, were exposed to every temptation; that he should think no place so proper for the young ladies, as that which should include their sister’s care; that, having been accustomed to look up to her as a parent, her influence might be strengthened, by being continued; and that, though he thought highly of the natural disposition of all the family, he was of opinion, that the precepts of their excellent parents could no way be inculcated so happily, as by the example of their sister; that he should be happy in giving his assistance; and that his house was open to them, as his heart was to Miss Mason herself;—that he was ill qualified to speak upon a subject on which he felt so much—but that, as she knew his happiness was in her gift—he hoped she would be generous in the use of her power.”—She burst into tears, and left the room. Mr. Clement is quite his advocate.—I am interrupted.

 

MARIANNE.

L E T T E R  L.

 

MRS. BELLAS TO MRS. CLEMENT.

 

            MY DEAR SISTER,

 

SEND Sophia down instantly—Eliza is lost—I never suffered so much as within the last two hours. Collins is distracted, for she loved her like a mother. That wicked young man—what can he expect? The Doctor is very angry; but he should have foreseen and prevented it.—Yesterday evening we were all invited to the Parsonage-house: Henry Freeman being this morning to set off for Cambridge, we drank tea, and spent the evening there.—About eleven o’clock our carriage came, for it had rained all the evening; and, as Eliza stepped in, she turned about to Henry, who handed her from the drawing-room out, and said, “Well, remember.”—I took no notice of it, because I thought it only the natural consequence of their intimacy, and that she was reminding him of some boyish promise to write to her, or some such thing.—This morning Henrietta came down to breakfast alone, her frock only slipped on her arms, and not pinned.—She went up to Collins, who had just stepped into the room before her, and said, “Pray, Mrs. Collins, be so good as to pin my frock; my sister Eliza got up so soon that I had nobody to help me.”—“Where is Eliza, my love?” says Collins; and, without waiting for an answer, ran out of the room;—we all followed, one by one—and having spent an hour in a fruitless search all over the house, garden, and meadow—Collins ran to the Parsonage-house, to see if Henry was gone—immediately guessing at the unfortunate truth.—Doctor Freeman raved—and the other boys laughed.—Miss Freeman shed some tears of modesty and sweetness, and then said, “If my brother has injured the confidence of Eliza, half my fortune shall be hers, and I will never see his face.”—Collins came back, invoking blessings on the sweet girl; and, as she returned, met a gardener in the lane, who had seen Eliza and Henry go off together in a single-horse-chaise, about four o’clock in the morning. We sent to the only house in the village where it could have been obtained; and find, that Henry bespoke it yesterday evening about eight o’clock.—I recollect we missed him and Eliza about that time; so that probably it was then they agreed upon her flight. We have sent Philip in pursuit of them; if they be gone on to Cambridge, we shall hear something of them, though perhaps not what we shall like to hear;—but, if they should have taken any other road, heaven knows what may be the consequence! I do not think him a young man of principle; but, indeed, in his situation, how few youths could shew their principle! Unfortunate girl! Charles’s misfortunes had been enough for the family; lost to his relations; and probably all his hopes of future success in life blasted—a self-exiled wanderer, out of the knowledge of any who could serve him;—yet it is possible that he may recover himself:—but poor Eliza! excluded by the severe dispensations of an unforgiving world from the advantages of future prudence! an hour—a moment’s folly to her must probably be fatal!——We have just had intelligence that the wretched fugitive is gone towards London.—Gracious heaven! what will become of her!—to search in such a place for an unknown individual, is almost ridiculous, and must be fruitless.—What shall we do?—Doctor Freeman has sent his coachman and footman different roads—sure we shall hear something to-day.——Good heaven! here is a discovery!—Well, it is better than we expected—if it is true.—She has scarcely taken a second change of any thing in the world. Collins went up to search her drawers; and in the uppermost found the inclosed letter to me.

 

                        I am my dear sister’s affectionate

 

CHARLOTTE.


 

L E T T E R  LI.

 

TO MRS. BELLAS.

 

            Madam,

 

I SHOULD never forgive myself, if I quitted your house without leaving behind me the warmest and most grateful acknowledgments of your’s and Mr. Bellas’s goodness to me and my sisters. I hope they will not suffer in your opinion by the step I am now about to take;—but, as Mr. Freeman was obliged to go to Cambridge, and as my happiness depended on his not having it in his power to forget me, I have consented to go to Scotland with him directly, that he may be mine beyond the power of fate. I hope the doctor will forgive him when we return. Mean time, I remain

 

                                                                                                Your most grateful

 

ELIZA.


 

L E T T E R  LII.

 

MRS. CLEMENT TO MRS. BELLAS.

 

WELL, Charlotte, we are to have a wedding at last.—Sophia has blush’d consent; Mr. Clement has invited the company; and we are to have a jolly day at Shuter’s-hill, where the bride and bridegroom spend a few days, and then proceed to Frogly.

            I never saw a man so delighted as poor Powell seems to be—it is wonderful to me how you could dislike him.——Mercy on me! I have just received your letter:—poor little madcap!—If young Freeman should deceive her, I think he must be the greatest villain existing;—but I hope in heaven he will not:—if he marries her, I shall only lament the precipitancy of the step; and trust in the old man’s benevolence, and the kindness of that good girl the sister, to put them in some way to make the best of it.—Let me hear every article of intelligence you obtain. I wish they may return at least by the time Sophia goes home; or I think it will break her heart. I do not see why I should make her unhappy about it now; she cannot possibly mend the matter; and at such a time to make her mind uneasy, would be acting the part of the bird of night, rather than that of a participating friend. However, if you insist upon it, I will tell her; but I will wait to hear from you again. I am going out, as soon as the coach comes, to buy a few presents for Sophia: Mr. Clement desired me to provide him with a wedding-sacque for her. Men think women are as easily dressed with a gown, as they are with a suit of clothes.—I shall add a suit of Bath Brussels; which, with a cap which I shall bespeak at Wilkinson’s, will furnish her for her wedding-visits, without any expence of her own little fund—if you commission me to add a pair of pearl ear-rings, I will do that on Friday or Saturday. This day sevennight is fixed for the wedding—heaven grant it be a happy one!—it is the first match I ever had a hand in; if it should turn out ill, I never should forgive myself.

            Bless my dear little Charles in my name; and believe me ever my dear Charlotte’s affectionate

 

MARIANNE.


 

L E T T E R  LIII.

 

MRS. BELLAS TO MRS. CLEMENT.

 

IT would be almost impious to arraign the goodness of that heart which proves, by its benevolence, its divine extraction;—but, my dear Marianne, you are still mortal, and liable to a mortal’s imperfections:—you see but the outside. Powell has a speciousness of external deportment, which has caught your approbation; whilst, if I am not much misinformed, he has a heart void of every one of those feelings which overflow in such abundance in yours:—he has suffered a mother, who was never deficient in her duty to him, to know all the miseries of want; whilst he was expending, in the superfluous trifles which his vanity suggested, more than would have procured her an easy passage to the grave—he has seduced more than one innocent creature in the village from their duty and their peace; and, when his licentious intimacy has produced the natural effects, he has left the guiltless infants and their unhappy mothers to feel the punishment of his crimes. One of them he married to a servant of his, and took into his house; and, when the inhuman wretch has been upbraiding the victim with her former shame, the unfeeling master has made it a cause of triumph, and an argument to forward his success with the young woman who then lived with him as a kind of housekeeper; from her this intelligence came—she soon quitted his service, and now lives with a gentleman of some property about three quarters of a mile from hence.—If they are not married—shew this to Sophia; if they are—burn, and endeavour to forget it. You have acted a friendly part towards her; her situation, considered in every point of view, makes her marriage with an honest man a most desirable circumstance; but I am afraid it is not possible for a man, who has been an unfeeling and undutiful son, to be a good husband. There are, in the occurrences of a married life, so many trials of a man’s humanity, that he, whose want of sensibility might pass unnoticed had he continued single, must often appear a very monster when considered as a husband.—Should such a woman as we know Sophia to be, unfortunately fall to the lot of such a man as I have had Powell described to me, inevitable misery must be the consequence. I shall be impatient till I hear from you again.—May that Power, whose charge the weak and unprotected are, take the poor girl to its peculiar care!—No news of Eliza.

 

                                                                                                Ever thy

 

CHARLOTTE.


 

L E T T E R  LIV.

 

MRS. CLEMENT TO MRS. BELLAS.

 

            MY DEAR CHARLOTTE,

 

I DO not know that I ever was so thoroughly shocked as at reading your character of the man to whom I had but an hour before seen Sophia give her hand. From the performance of the ceremony we returned to our house, where Mr. and Mrs. Belmour, and Mr. and Mrs. Baker, waited to join our party, and proceed to Shuter’s-hill. The miss Dean, whose name I believe I had mentioned to you, acted as bride-maid, and Mr. James Clement as bride-man—my Mr. Clement gave her away; and I went because she desired it. Mr. Clement, miss Dean, Sophia, and I, went in the coach; and Mr. J. Clement and the bridegroom followed in the chariot; but, as we returned, Mr. Clement and I took their vehicle, and the four young people came home together.—By the time we had drank a dish of chocolate round, and the horses had been fed, to please Mr. Clement, your letter was brought to me. I opened it with some apprehension, on account of Eliza. But, when I saw the real contents, I thought I should have fainted—my looks told so much, that I was obliged to shew Mr. Clement the cause. He was rather angry, than hurt; and, observing that the whole accusation rested upon the evidence of a servant, he said he wondered that you, who had so much caution in matters of less consequence, should be so easily convinced in one of so much importance; and that your Collins, or our Selby, would say as much of any of us, the moment they were out of our houses. I own, I was very willing to take his side of the argument; and why, my dear Charlotte, should we not suppose he may be in the right? at least, upon your own injunction to burn the letter, and forget the circumstance, I was justified in hoping the best—for caution was then too late.—About two o’clock we set out, a party of ten, to Shuter’s-hill, where we dined, drank tea, played at cards, and supped; and about eleven o’clock, the moon in its full glory, and four servants well-armed to protect us, we took leave of the new-married pair, without any other ceremony than we should have observed towards each other. Thus, under the conduct of Mr. Clement, we passed a day which, in general, wears a face of aukwardness and restraint, with the utmost ease, chearfulness, and good order. We all got safe to our several destinations; and dine together to-day at Mr. Belmour’s, in Dover-Street. I cannot however dismiss the apprehensions with which your letter has filled me. Do you know, that I think you owe it to Mr. Powell to search the matter to the bottom? He seems much devoted to the sex, I confess; but I cannot think him capable of harbouring a thought injurious to an individual of it, much less of the horrid unmanly acts of which he is accused; his whole behaviour yesterday, not only to Sophia, whom he seems to venerate, but to the company at large, gave the lie to his accuser. Is she not some artful woman, who may have formed some designs which his marriage with Sophia must interfere with? At all events, the die is cast; and consideration, which is invaluable when antecedent to an act, by being out of season is become useless, and almost impertinent.

            I made Sophia, at parting, promise to write to me. She begged to be excused; and modestly said, that I should trade upon very unequal terms if I were to give her my letters for her’s; and yet that she should perhaps be unreasonable enough to expect it. I did not chuse to let her off, however, but insisted upon her promise; and, speaking aloud before her husband, told her, that, as I had made myself accountable to her for happiness in pleading his cause, I should expect as an act of gratitude to have that happiness avowed, or as an act of justice to be called upon for any thing in my power to promote it whenever there was a deficiency—as the bail was always responsible, when the principal failed.” He very chearfully acquiesced; and said, “that he should endeavour to exculpate his surety, by performing covenants to the utmost of his power, though his obligation to Mrs. Clement would be one of the last things he should forget.” Those words chilled me, when I thought of your letter; for goodness sake, Charlotte, send for that woman, and hear what she has to say!—and yet, what service can it do us now!—I need not beg that you will send me word the moment Eliza returns. I long to know what reception she will meet with at the Vicarage. My little ones greet their brother Charles, to whom my blessings and his father’s.—Our love to Mr. Bellas; and believe me my dear sister’s

 

                                                                        Ever affectionate

 

MARIANNE.


 

L E T T E R  LV.

 

MRS. BELLAS TO MRS. CLEMENT.

 

POOR Sophia! the die indeed is cast—may her virtues make such an impression, as to produce their likeness! Kind Providence, whose dispensations to thy creatures are full of mercy, thanks for the alleviating circumstances of poor Eliza’s safety!—Yesterday evening we were sitting at tea, and seeing a carriage drive up the yard, I put out my head, and saw Eliza.—I ran to the door, where, throwing herself at my feet, she cried, “Indeed, indeed, madam, as well as I love Mr. Freeman, I would not have gone without seeing you, had I known that you loved me so well—but every night, since I have been gone, I have dreamt of you, and seen you in such distress as to make me miserable;—can you, my dear madam, can you forgive me?—I took her up, and begged her to satisfy my impatient enquiries, and relieve me from that distress her fancy pictured. Henry (who was at this time discharging the chaise) came up to the hall-door, where we still stood, with all the confidence of conscious virtue; and seeing me holding Eliza’s hand with a countenance of kindness—he said, “I see, madam, your heart is what I thought it, open to all the feelings that do honour to humanity.” My looks expressed something; to which he replied, “She is my wife, and now I am resigned to my father’s pleasure in every thing, since what God has joined together he will not put asunder.”—By this time the news of their arrival reached the Vicarage; and Miss Freeman, with her brother Thomas, came running down.—She threw her arms about Eliza, and cried, “Welcome, welcome, my dear Eliza—may I add my sister?”—Henry stood forward, and answered; for her confusion and her tenderness overwhelmed her. He gave a very minute account of their expedition, and all the attendant circumstances—and then asked, “whether he might venture to approach his father?”—Miss Freeman behaved like an angel—told them, “that, as soon as she was of age, half her fortune should be at their service; and that, if her father should have the same feeling towards Eliza that she had, and should take her home, as she hoped he would, it would be the greatest blessing of her life to comfort and console her, whilst Henry went to Cambridge, to qualify himself for the better support of her and himself.”—Eliza was all gratitude, and we all rapture; when your confirmation of Sophia’s wedding came, and wrung the heart of your

 

CHARLOTTE.


 

L E T T E R  LVI.

 

MRS. CLEMENT TO MRS. BELLAS.

 

I Participate most sincerely my dear sister’s enjoyment of Eliza’s happy return;—there is something singular in a circumstance which I have just discovered.—I have a letter from Sophia, who is got to her house, as you know no doubt, and has seen her sister Freeman: they have been comparing notes, I find; and Eliza was married at Edinburgh on the very same day and hour that Sophia was married in London.—She tells me, that Doctor Freeman has behaved to Eliza with a degree of tenderness, that nothing but his daughter’s affection for her can exceed.—What an unexpected occurrence!—Few girls left in their situations have ever, perhaps, been so fortunate—let us hope it will not end here; but that poor Sophia may have had her full portion of suffering!—She says little respecting herself.—Mr. Powell, she fears, has injured his business by the time he threw away in London—but that he is too delicate to attribute it to that cause; and rather accounts for the people of the village deserting him in favour of his contemporary, to some scandalous stories that have been propagated, in order, as he supposes, to injure him with her; however, hopes that a little time will get the better of it, and restore his business to its wonted state of credit.—I cannot say I like it much.—Sophia don’t seem alarmed, or rather don’t seem to know that she is.—Mr. Clement has a large quantity of rhubarb consigned to him from Turkey; he talks of sending Powell a parcel of it as a present; but, after this hint of Sophia’s, there’s no knowing how he may receive it.—Mr. Osborn writes me word, that he has seen Amelia; and that, by the time his negotiation is finished, she will have compiled her history—if so, I shall have it in time to carry to Frogly; ’twill amuse us all, as the evenings grow long.—My hairdresser is come.—My love to all who love me; and do you be assured of the unalterable affection of thy

 

MARIANNE.


 

L E T T E R  LVII.

 

MRS. BELLAS TO MRS. CLEMENT.

 

            MY DEAR MARIANNE,

 

WE all dined yesterday at the Vicarage—the invitation was, by the Doctor’s desire, from Mr. and Mrs. Henry Freeman. Eliza was placed at the head of the table; the Doctor next her on one hand, and I at the other, Henry occupying the married man’s place at the lower end of the table.—George and Henrietta dined at a side-table by themselves, and seemed to partake largely of the general joy;—next to the Doctor sat Sophia, and on my left hand Mr. Powell.—I own myself a convert; if he be a villain, he is the best counterfeit of an amiable character I ever saw; he behaved extremely well to Sophia; but I thought she did not seem so happy as I could have wished.—I am afraid her head is not at peace on a certain subject. I never saw a woman conduct herself better than Eliza—nor could I have supposed that it was possible for sixteen to assume such a dignified propriety.—It is not easy to decide whether the Doctor or Henry love her most; nor could a father, whose son had brought a hundred thousand pounds into his family, shew more respect to his daughter-in-law—in short, they are all happy in each other, and seem to have but one object of contention, and that is, who shall oblige most. The Doctor told us, after dinner, that his little house-keeper, pointing to Eliza, had given him the trouble of forming a new plan for the disposal of Henry—for that he should be ashamed to send a married man to school—that he was therefore somewhat at a loss, and should be glad of our advice.—Mr. Bellas told him, that he should think it very eligible for Mr. Freeman to speak his own sentiments—that, if he liked a country gentleman’s life, he had a farm which he should rent on his own terms, or purchase at a fair appraisement: and that, if he did the latter, all the live-stock should be his gift to Eliza, by way of dower.—The Doctor smiled at the word purchase, and said, “Why Mr. Bellas—I have been a good subject, and Henry seems inclined to follow my example. I married at twenty myself, and have seen myself the father of seven sons, all of whom, except the eldest, you see—and nine daughters, eight of whom are with their excellent mother.—Fanny was all the hopes I had of comfort in my old age; but now I have got another chance for it in Eliza.”—She blushed, and shed a tear of satisfaction; which he enjoyed, and then went on—“the consequence of so large a family is obvious—I had but a small patrimony of my own, and that must descend to Arthur my eldest son. Mrs. Freeman had not a shilling when I married her; but, in the course of our living together, she had ten thousand pounds left her, with remainder to Fanny.—I have never touched a shilling of it; though she is so good a girl, that I, or any of her brothers, would, I am sure, be welcome to share it.” Here her answer was necessary.—“Indeed, Sir, says she, I should be very undeserving of your good opinion, if I lost so happy an opportunity of approving it—suffer me now to declare thus publickly, as I have done to my brother and sister alone, that half my fortune will give me more happiness in settling them advantageously, than the whole could, laid out for myself—and, if they approve of Mr. Bellas’s proposal, we will have the estate valued; and, the moment I am of age, if five thousand pounds will pay the purchase, it is theirs.”—Every tongue was for a moment mute, in token of applause; and all at once broke out in praises of her benevolence of heart: only Henry and Eliza added a refusal. Mr. Bellas, however, reminding the Doctor, that seven hundred towards the purchase was ready in Eliza’s right—it was agreed, that the appraiser, who sold the furniture, &c. for the girls, should be sent for immediately; that the young people should stay with the Doctor till the house was fitted up and furnished; and that Henrietta should divide her time amongst her sisters, Miss Freeman, and me, till she should be settled in her own house.—The Doctor observed, that matches made by parents for infants seldom succeeded; but that George was a pretty boy, and had five hundred pounds a-year settled upon him by his Godfather the late Lord ——. Henrietta blushed, and looked her acquiescence; and George took the first opportunity of our attention being withdrawn, to seal his approbation with a kiss.—We spent the evening very happily—only Sophia’s brow was now and then overspread with a gloom that chilled my blood.—I believe nobody else observed it.—Powell was as agreeable as ever I saw a man of so moderate an understanding; and we all promised to dine with them next Tuesday—the Saturday following the whole party spend with us.—Thomas Freeman goes to Cambridge, instead of Henry.—I suppose, when Mrs. Belmour goes to Bath, you will devote a week to your

 

CHARLOTTE

L E T T E R  LVIII.

 

MRS. CLEMENT TO MRS. BELLAS.

 

DO you know, Charlotte, that I am quite miserable at the apprehension you entertain of poor Sophia’s unhappiness; yet, if she disliked the man, she certainly would not have married him.—I wish I had never interposed—I am afraid I was actuated by motives I did not perceive, to urge the poor girl to marry, that she might no longer be an argument of anxiety to you.—Yet certainly, as you yourself say, her marriage was, on her own account, a most desirable circumstance.—I don’t know what to make of her letters—she seems to have an inclination to tell me something, and checks herself, perhaps upon the principle of duty. I am vexed too at your insinuation about my coming to Frogly when Mrs. Belmour goes to Bath; it is the only circumstance in which I can accuse you of a narrowness of mind: my esteeming a friend is no argument that I do not love a sister—banish such conclusions—rely upon it, my heart has room enough for all its inhabitants—nature has an inexhaustible supply of affection to bestow, of which a part is dispensed on every acquisition we make, whether of husband, children, or friends—else how comes it that feelings, which are all natural, are every day exerted to those different relatives, and in a breast of generous extent no clashing ever felt? Did I love you less after I married Mr. Clement? did I love you less when bounteous nature blessed me with my children?—If not—why should my indulging the feelings of a sister depend upon the accidental occurrences which happen to a friend? Excuse me, Charlotte; I am not apt to be serious—upon trifling subjects I never am;—but you have roused my sensibility more in the last line of your letter, than Mrs. Belmour, though I confess I love her, could have done in a volume. However, though she is gone to Bath, I cannot come to Frogly.—Charlotte is not well; and Mr. Forbes thinks she is breeding the small-pox; if so, I know not when I shall be able to leave town: I dread the thoughts of poor Frank’s catching it now he is about his teeth. I think, if there were no other subjects of anxiety but our children, this world would be far enough removed from a state of happiness to make a future one necessary; at least I am sure it would be to thy

 

MARIANNE.


 

L E T T E R  LIX.

 

MRS. CLEMENT TO MRS. BELLAS.

 

MY dear Charlotte must believe me, when I declare that my last letter was dictated in a moment of distress;—my dear little girl was very ill; her fine eyes had lost their brightness, and her cheeks their bloom; my heart was breaking with apprehension for my little darling, whose safety is of moment to my existence;—so that, if my unusual gravity should offend or hurt you, consider the cause, and pity the effects.—Heaven be praised! my girl is quite recovered; and my little cherub grown as strong almost as Charles; so that my mind is now tuned to happiness again. Mr. Clement, who loves them you know as well as I do when they are well, feels, if possible, more when they are in danger; two nights last week he was so miserable about Charlotte, that he even neglected his letters; and a very unlucky mistake has happened in consequence; however, I hope it will easily be rectified; though it is amazing how much nicety and exactness the business and correspondence of a merchant requires: it is unfortunate that Mr. Osborne, who alone can corroborate Mr. Clement in rectifying the error, is still absent; we expect him in a few days, when I hope to hear how poor Amelia relishes her recluse situation. Mr. and Mrs. Baker leave us to-morrow, for a month; and spend the remainder of the winter with us, after their Devonshire visits are paid; they are really a most amiable couple, and certainly formed for each other. How capricious it was in Fortune, to send the sweet woman such a pilgrimage in her way to paradise!—Her unhappy friend, of whose marriage I have told you, is released from her sorrows. The villain, who had deserted her in those distresses which he alone brought upon her, is stung with remorse almost to madness;—she just lived to hear of Mrs. Baker’s intention towards her; and on her death-bed charged the black slave, who attended her, to convey her little girl over to England, to be educated under Mrs. Baker. She accepts the charge with great pleasure, and means to settle upon the child the sum she would have sunk for the mother’s annuity; and, should she not have any children herself, will probably make her a great fortune. Mr. Clement has contracted a greater intimacy with Mr. Baker than any man he knows, except Frank and his brother James.——Write soon, to convince me you are not angry with

 

                                                                                                Your

 

MARIANNE.


 

L E T T E R  LX.

 

MRS. CLEMENT TO MRS. BELLAS.

 

            MY DEAR CHARLOTTE,

 

I WONDER I have not heard from you.—I had adjusted all my matters, with intention to have set out as this day for Frogly—but I suppose I am not to be so happy. Something has occurred, to discompose Mr. Clement so much, that I cannot think it right to leave him; he would not desire me to give it up, because he knew how much I wished to see you; but I know he will be the better pleased with my stay, for that reason. Charlotte has had a little return of her feverish complaint: I have sent for Dr. B——; he thinks she has worms, and is now treating her accordingly.—Charles’s parole is lengthened—you are like to keep him now till spring, unless he grows troublesome; if so, I will send Selby for him whenever you please.—I wish Mr. Osborne was come home. I am afraid the stagnation which the mistake I hinted at has occasioned will embarrass Mr. Clement greatly; and, in aid of that misfortune, a house at Boulogne, in which we are deeply concerned, has stopped payment. You know trifles do not affect him; but he is really so depressed at present, that I am apprehensive for his health, as well as his credit. May that Power, who knows his worth, preserve both to him! and him to his children and me!—I am greatly shocked at looking back to the many superfluous guineas which in the course of seven years of uninterrupted prosperity we have lavished away. Yet Mr. Clement is not extravagant in any of his propensities; nor has indulged himself in any expence that did not seem greatly within his income; but, when I find of how much consequence a few thousands would now be, and then carry on a train of reasoning from thousands to hundreds, from hundreds to twentys, and from twentys to pounds, and so down to the minutest article of what we call trifling expences, I am really culpable in my own opinion. I do not know whether the Boulogne business has got abroad; but there have been more calls for money since Monday last than in any four days since we have been married; and, should it continue four days more, it would be very inconvenient.—About the seventh of last month, we ventured a ship richly freighted to Ireland, without insurance; and, should any accident happen there, as misfortunes are apt to accumulate, Mr. Clement must lose two thousand pounds at one stroke; the advice of her safe arrival is hourly expected: I hope this day’s post will put an end to suspence upon that subject. One of Mr. Clement’s favourite horses has lost an eye, and almost killed Francis, who happened to be riding him out, when the accidental clashing of two carriages turned him against the ballustrade of a house near Chelsea, and one of the spikes ran into his eye;—the poor creature was very ill for several days; he is now quite recovered, and Mr. Clement thinks of sending the set to Tattersal’s, to be sold to the best bidder; for every trifling sum is now of consequence; and the sale of horses is a double advantage, both on account of what it brings, and what it saves. Indeed the keeping of horses is the only subject on which we ever disagreed; but he loved the idea; and he had an undoubted right to indulge himself.—Selby is another useless expence; and I intend to take the first opportunity of getting rid of her: but the artful creature has wound herself about my convenience, by never chusing to take any wages—my cloaths have always supplied her, except in very trifles; and in them she has been so great an oeconomist, that I believe we do not owe her less than fifty pounds; at present it would not be prudent to part with such a sum; and my pride and my understanding forbid me to discharge her till we can pay her. I never will owe another servant above a year’s wages at a time; for, notwithstanding it was her own choice, I think she has grown saucy and idle in proportion as her money accumulated,—in fact, at present she is a mere boarder in the family. I asked her the other day to wash some frocks, and make up a few caps for Charlotte, whilst the nurse was entirely devoted to Frank, who was not well; and told her, by way of apology, that the nursery-maid did not please me in her getting-up linen. She told me, that “she was not miss Clement’s maid; and that, if Sally could not wash, there were nursery-maids enough to be had that could.” I was stunned at her impudence; and told her, that she should never refuse me twice.—I confess, that, had I not heard Mr. Clement complain of a scarcity of cash, I should have discharged her instantly. How much must people, whose circumstances are always streightned, be in the power of their servants! no wonder there are so many bad ones. Adieu! Write soon, and comfort

 

                                    Your

 

MARIANNE.


 

L E T T E R  LXI.

 

MRS. BELLAS TO MRS. CLEMENT.

 

            MY DEAREST SISTER,

 

THE complexion of your last letter has pierced me to the heart;—for heaven’s sake, discharge that ungrateful wretch instantly. Enclosed is a draught for seventy pounds, which Mr. Bellas took in part of a year’s rent, to oblige farmer Colman: he will consider it as a favour if you will get it accepted; and you will make me happy if you will pay and get rid of that impertinent woman;—whenever matters take their accustomed turn with my brother, I will call upon you for the payment;—mean time, if you would have me think you love me, never mention the matter. Charles is in charming spirits, has had the small-pox, and is as handsome as ever;—let this, my dear Marianne, be an omen of returning happiness!—Mr. Bellas would not suffer me to alarm your sensibility, by mentioning his illness, till it was over.—I knew he meant you kindly, and could not disobey him: but I could not reconcile it to myself to omit so material a piece of intelligence, if I wrote at all; therefore I thought I should do best to let the pen alone till I could use it to give you pleasure. May heaven avert the ills you dread! and preserve your husband in health, happiness, and prosperity! At all events, let Charles be mine: if I should have a son, he shall share with him in every feeling of my heart; if not, Mr. Bellas will take care to secure to him the possession of Frogly-farm. My state of health is such as to make the latter most probable.—However, for the present I have your promise, and shall avail myself of it—till I think him troublesome, you know I am to keep him. Mr. Bellas desires me to say, that, if Mr. Clement will accept of any assistance in his power, he will prove himself most his friend, by calling upon him. He would write himself, but does not know how far you would chuse my brother should be acquainted with our knowledge of it; we leave it all to your management. Remember, my dear sister, that these are the moments when alone true friendship can prove its superiority over its shadow—worldly civility.—Allow that happiness to your

 

F. and C. BELLAS.


 

L E T T E R  LXII.

 

MRS. CLEMENT TO MRS. BELLAS.

 

TEN thousand thanks to my dear brother and sister, for the opportunity they have given me of loving them still better, if it be possible, than I did before! Mr. Clement desires me to say every thing he feels; but that is impossible—hearts like his are not easily translated into language, even by the owners; let him try, if he chuses; for my part, I don’t love to set about any thing convinced beforehand that I must fail in the execution of it. Our affairs, thank Heaven, are happily re-established on their former basis. The Irish mail brought us returns for the ship I mentioned, and Mr. Osborne is come back from Germany, with a full satisfaction for the bills which he carried over.—He has brought Amelia’s history—which (as soon as I have read it) I will convey to you; mean time you must finish whatever you are about, and be ready for a whole week’s employment, which I am sure you will enjoy, though you did not know Amelia sufficiently to relish it as I do.—It is wonderful that any father should be so lost to the natural feelings of a parent, as to force a child to be miserable, without the possibility of reaping any advantage himself.—Nature points out to us, the moment a child is born, the duty of nurturing and protecting it; as it grows up, of educating and informing it;—and I should imagine, that, when those duties were over, that of placing it in the situation where happiness was most probable would naturally succeed; for love is, or should be, uniform in all our exertions towards them—whether in the nursery, the study, or the world at large.—Amelia’s father, however, as you will find, proceeded upon a different principle: I think her mode of expressing herself will please you greatly—free from the levity which you dislike, or the stiffness which must tire.—Poor girl! it is a melancholy circumstance, that she should be cut off from all the joys of society, and shut up in a cloistered inutility, because a father was a tyrant, and a husband a brute!—Charlotte is better. Accept our thanks for your intentions towards Charles. I sincerely hope, however, that Providence will supersede his claim, by blessing you with a boy of your own.—If I was not sure of your belief, I would not say so much; but you know your

 

MARIANNE.


 

L E T T E R  LXIII.

 

MRS. CLEMENT TO MRS. BELLAS.

 

CHARLOTTE, I have changed my mind—you shall have Amelia’s history, letter by letter;—if you don’t like the first, you shall have no more—so read the inclosed, and give me your opinion.—All here are well—and send their love with mine.

 

MARIANNE.


 

L E T T E R  LXIV.

 

MRS. MERISFORD TO MRS. CLEMENT.

 

            DEAR MADAM,

 

SINCE I have been honoured with your last commands, which were final, with respect to the task you have enjoined me, I have several times set about the execution of them.—I was in hopes to have made a much smaller compass inclose my insignificant story; but, I know not how, I have been led on from one little circumstance to another, till I am afraid I have set you a task more painful than that you assigned to me.—I will not take up any more of your time in apologies, than just what serves to assure you, that, if I have dwelt upon little circumstances of extenuation longer than may seem necessary, it proceeded not from an egotism natural to me, but that ardent desire which I feel, even at this distance, to stand as well as possible in the opinion of a person whose approbation is of more value to me than the rest of the world.—Had you treated me with that conscious superiority which unblemished virtue entitled you to, and which will always appear where the virtues of generosity and social sympathy are not as powerful as that of chastity; I should, perhaps, have revered you for the possession of the latter, but the want of the former would have made reverence alone all the tribute I should pay.—But in the course of the few, the very few, hours I was under your roof, I discovered, in your conduct and conversation, an heart so enlarged, an head so accomplished, so ample a capacity for judging, and so benevolent a disposition to forgive—even those faults, of which happy reflection pronounced you clear—that my esteem, my affection, my duty, pointed you out as the most deserving object of all their attention.—Upon this principle it is, that I have laid before you not only the actions of my life, but, so far as I could discover, every secret spring that moved them.—If the recital affords entertainment to you, or instruction to one young mind which feels as I did, the task will be amply rewarded to your most grateful

 

AMELIA.


 

L E T T E R  LXV.

 

MRS. BELLAS TO MRS. CLEMENT.

 

I HAVE two letters from my dear Marianne—the first brings me the happiest tidings I could hear at present—and the latter has filled me with more than my natural share of curiosity. I applaud the resolution of Amelia; and sincerely hope, that self-love, that universal deceiver, will not thwart her in a design so laudable.—It is very certain that many actions, which, to a superficial observer, may appear in the extreme of good or bad, were the motives honestly laid before the same person, might so far alter their nature, as to deserve a very different degree of approbation or censure—nay, sometimes, take the opposite complexion;—but then the motives must be laid open by the possessor;—and it seldom happens that a mind capable of doing justice to those minute particles of human action in description—or (to use your own phrase, which is better) to translate the feelings—hath ingenuousness enough to make that sacrifice to society.—In every thing self predominates—and very often patriotism, piety, and even well-acted passion (if you could make a window in the human breast) would be translated—self, self, self.—She seems, however, possessed of so much humility, and so well reconciled to her situation, excluding that commerce with the world which often deters writers from saying all, for fear of cold civility and averted looks—that every degree of impartiality may be expected from her.—But why send me her letters one by one?—Remember you desired not to see them so yourself. I need not use any further argument to extort the whole packet from you at once—do as you would be done by.—Charles is to throw off his petticoats on Sunday.—You cannot conceive how manly and handsome he looks in his masculine habit.—We meditate an excursion into Yorkshire; and we thought his trowsers would be the properest equipment for travelling. I fancy the acres will be all his own;—and ’tis but right that he should have his fancy consulted in the allotment of them.—Mr. Bellas is dividing one large farm into four, to atone, as far as one individual can, for the inhuman passion, now so prevalent, of putting six into one, to the discouragement of industry, and the starving of five honest men and their families.—Dinner waits. Send me the history in your next, and you will oblige your

 

CHARLOTTE.


 

L E T T E R  LXVI.

 

MRS. CLEMENT TO MRS. BELLAS.

 

HOW I love my dear Charlotte for her impatience!—It is so like myself, that, upon her own principle, she will readily believe me.—The true reason that I mean to send you but one letter at a time is this—I have reflected that your vile cross-post sometimes plays us tricks; and I should never forgive myself, if I lost the packet, or even a part of it.—I mean therefore to copy the letters, and send you a compleat history for your own, as my little Charlotte says.—Selby is gone:—we had a disagreeable parting; but I know you will be pleased to hear it is over.—I believe I must resolve not to say a word to you, but enclose the letters as I copy them, for I never can leave off when once I begin.—Goodbye!—Till the history is compleat, expect no more news from your

 

MARIANNE.


 

L E T T E R  LXVII.

 

MRS. MERISFORD TO MRS. CLEMENT.

 

            DEAR MADAM,

 

IN order to introduce some early anecdotes of myself, it is necessary that I go back to the remotest period of which I have any knowledge, either from my own memory, or the relation of my mother, whose veracity was ever unquestionable;—as to her unhappy choice of a husband was owing my misfortune of not being allowed to chuse at all.—My mother was about twelve years old when my uncle Charles was born, who, being the first son, though the seventh child, was, from the moment of his birth, the principal object of his father’s attention. His mother, however, who was by all accounts a very amiable woman, but not possessed of any great understanding, was perhaps blameably partial to all her daughters, but particularly to the eldest, who was my mother.—This difference in sentiment produced many misunderstandings between the parents, who, from the birth of my uncle James (a year after his brother), never lived in the same apartment. My mother and three of her sisters were sent to a boarding-school in Yorkshire, to save expence—and the two younger girls with their brothers still remained in the nursery—till the small-pox made a fatal visit to the family, and carried off both the girls—my uncle James hardly escaping the same fate. My grandmother was inconsolable; and, to reconcile her in some degree, her husband, who had not lost the feelings of humanity, though he had quarrelled with her, sent for my mother from school.—She was then about sixteen—and had been four years at that seminary of folly, specious idleness, and viciating romance.—She was taught to read, but not to think—to dance, to sing, to do every thing but what was useful.—My father, who was, when she was sent there, drawing-master to the school, had contrived to render himself agreeable to her—and in the course of her stay, by the death of a distant relation, became possessed of a considerable estate in the same county, which I suppose did not injure him in her heart, particularly as, from her father’s partiality, she had little to expect in her favour.—Just at the period when she was sent for, my father had brought matters to such a crisis, that she had consented to marry him privately.—However, she had too much filial piety to refuse to obey the summons—she came, and found her mother very ill, and in a few days after followed her to the grave.—She was then in a situation truly pitiable;—having lost her mother, neglected by her father, and her head brim-full of the recent solicitations of a lover, whose suit her heart had granted, though her understanding pointed out many objections. Just as she was about to return to school, her father called her one day into his study—and, having prepared her for the proposal with more tenderness than she had reason to expect, told her, that a gentleman of about fifty (three years older than himself) had made overtures respecting a marriage with her; and, as a friend, advised her to accept it; for that he was willing to make her a very good jointure; which, as he was not in circumstances to give her a shilling, was not likely to be met with every day. She remonstrated upon the inequality of fifty and sixteen: but he was very laconic upon the subject; and told her, that she might either marry his friend, or prepare for her journey as soon as she pleased; and that Rachael, her next sister, must come home and keep his house. Mortified at this unkind distinction, and shocked at the horror of his proposed match, she returned to Yorkshire; resolved to conquer all her former scruples, and marry my father. It is painful to be obliged to lay open the errors of those one is bound to honour, but; as mine are in some measure consequent upon theirs, it is unavoidable.

 

AMELIA.


 

L E T T E R  LXVIII.

 

MRS. MERISFORD TO MRS. CLEMENT,

 

<p class=MsoNormal align=center