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• I understand so much of yonr poetical epistle, as to perceive that you are in the family of Sir Theodore and Lady Thimble: three days of such society would make me forswear matrimony for ever. To the daughter of my friend I must for ever speak and act as a friend; suffer me then to ask if any man in his senses will choose a wife from such a school? Oh grief to think! that one so natural, so sincere, and unaffected as was my Nancy, could be the companion of such an ugly petticoated pedant as Lady Thimble, such a tame hen-pecked son of a tailor as Sir Theodore !
• As for the volume of verses you sent me, I dare say it is all very fine, but I really do not comprehend three lines of it; the battles you describe are what I never saw by sea or land, and the people who fight them such as I have never been accustomed to serve with : one gentleman I perceive there is, who combats stoutly against love; it is a good moral, and I thank you for it; cost what it may, I will do my best to imitate your hero. Fareweli, I must be only your most faithful friend,
Calliope has favoured me with the following letter; it is dated from the house of a worthy clergyman, a friend of her father's, who with an exemplary wife lives upon a small country vicarage in primitive simplicity, where that afflicted young lady took sbelter.
• SIR, ' After you left me at Lady Thimble's, I seized
the first moment that the anguish of my mind permitted me to make use of, to put myself in readiness for taking my final leave of that family, and, according to the plan we had concerted, came without delay to this place, where, if any thing could have given absolute peace to my mind, the consolation of these excellent people, and the serenity of the scene must have done it. As it was, I felt my afflictions lighten, my self-reproach became less bitter, and, whilst the vanity, which flattery had inspired me with, has been cured by their admonitions, the doubts that infidelity had raised have been totally removed, and truth made clear to my eternal comfort and conviction. Had it not been for this I should have been given up to despair; for as I heard no more from Captain Constant, I was convinced he had renounced me for ever ; in the mean time I
letters but sent none to him; some of these letters were written in a high tone, most of them in a humble one, and in one I gave a loose to passion and despair in expressions little short of frenzy; all these I constantly destroyed, for as I had not the heart to write angrily to him, I dreaded to appear mean in his eyes, if I was too plaintive; nay I was not sure, since his fortune had become so superior to mine, but I might lay myself open to a charge of the most despicable nature.
• Thus my time passed, till yesterday morning, upon observing the house in one of those bustles, which the expectation of a visitor creates in small families, I found my good hostess deeply engaged with her pastry, and having myself become a considerable adept in the art under her tuition, I was putting myself in order to assist her in her preparations when turning to me with a smile, which seemed to spring from joy as well as benevolence." Come,
my dear child,” said she, “ I have been at 'work this hour; and if you had known it was to entertain a friend of your father's, I am persuaded you would not have let me been so long beforehand with you.”
-I asked her who it was she expected—“ No matter," she replied, “ fall to your work, and do your best, like a good girl, for your mistress's credit as well as your own.” - The significant look with which she accompanied these words, set my heart into such a flutter, that my hands no longer obeyed me in the task I undertook, till having spilt the milk, overthrown the eggs, and put every thing into the same confusion with myself, I burst into a flood of tears, which ended in a strong hysteric fit. My screams brought the good man of the house and every body in it to my assistance; but judge of my condition, betwixt joy, astonishment, and terror, when the figure of my beloved Constant presented itself to my eyes : my God! he exclaimed, and started back aghast, then sprung to my assistance, and clasping me in his arms, lifted me at once from the floor and ran with me into the parlour, where there was a couch-my life! my soul! was all he could
say, for he was like a man beside himself with fright and
agony, till I recovered; this was at last affected by a plentiful relief of tears, and then I found myself alone with my beloved Henry, my head reclined upon his neck, and him supporting my whole weight in his arms, whilst he knelt on one knee at my feet: no sooner had I recollected myself, than the blood, that had been driven from my cheeks during my fit, rushed back again with violence and covered me with blushes. Henry's transports now became as vehement as his terrors had been, and loosing his hold of me for a moment, whilst he fixed his eyes upon me with an ardour that confounded me so, as almost to deprive me of
speech or motion, he again caught me in his arms, and pressing me eagerly to his breast, almost smothered me with caresses. He then quitted me altogether, and throwing himself on his knees at my feet, entreated me to forgive him, if he had offended me: he had been distracted between joy and terror, and scarce knew what he had done; he proceeded to account for the motives of his conduct towards me, both when he wrote the letter to me from Plymouth, and for every moment of his time since: that he had set off for London the very day he wrote, had sought you out, and conversed fully with you upon the effects his letter had produced; that, hearing I was come to this place, he would have followed me with an immediate explanation, if you had not prevailed with him to the contrary (for which advice I cannot now find in my heart to condemn you); that however he had placed himself within two miles of me in a neighbouring village, where he had daily intercourse with the worthy vicar, who gave him punctual intelligence of the state of my mind, and the total revolution effected in it; that what he suffered during this state of trial and suspense no words of his could paint, but the accounts he received of me from this good man, and the benefits he knew I was gaining by his counsel and conversation, kept him from discovering himself, till he had permission for so doing; that he threw himself upon my candour and good sense for justification in the honest artifice he had made use of; and now that I added to my good qualities those religious and domestic virtues, which the society of unbelieving pedants had obscured, but not extinguished, he hoped there was no farther bar in the way of our mutual happiness; but that I would condescend to accept a man whose heart and soul were devoted to me, and who had one recommenda
tion at least to offer in his own behalf, which he flattered himself no other person could produce, and which he was sure would have some weight with me: so saying, he put a letter into my
hands, which I had no sooner glanced my eye upon, than perceiving it was the well-known hand-writing of my ever honoured and lamented father, I sunk back upon the couch and dissolved again into tears: even the manly heart of my Henry now gave way, and the sad remembrance of his departed friend melted his brave bosom into all the softness of a woman's.—Then, Sir, oh then indeed I loved him, then he triumphed in my heart; how dear, how noble, how almost divine did he then appear! his eyes, whose ardent raptures had affrighted me, now, when I saw them bathed in tears, inspired me with the purest passion, and contemplating him with the affection of a sister, not regarding him as a lover, I cast off all reserve, and following the impulse of the soul, dearest and best of men! I cried—and sunk into his arms.
Thus, Sir, you have the full and unreserved account to which your friendship is entitled; still there remains one aci of kindness in your power to shew me, and which my Henry jointly with myself solicits, which is, that you would stand in the place of your deceased friend upon our marriage, and complete the kind part you have taken in my welfare, by joining my hand with that of the most deserving man on earth.
• I had almost forgot to mention to you a circumstance that passed as we were sitting at table after dinner, and by which our good friend the vicar undesignedly threw me into a confusion that was exceedingly distressing, by repeating some verses from Pope's Essay on Man, in which he applied to me to help him out in his quotation : I certainly remem