صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

spirit, accomplished and agreeable, happy in himself, and a blessing to others.

From what has been premised, it may be supposed that the present collection is not published ultimately, nor even principally, any more than the other two, for the sake of entertainment only. A much nobler end is in view. Yet it is hoped the variety of characters and conversations necessarily introduced into so large a correspondence as these volumes contain, will enliven as well as instruct, the rather, as the principal correspondents are young ladies of polite education and of lively spirits.

The nature of familiar letters, written, as it were, to the moment, while the heart is agitated by hopes and fears, on events undecided, must plead an excuse for the bulk of a collection of this kind. Mere facts and characters might be comprised in a much smaller compass; but would they be equally interesting? It happens fortunately that an account of the juvenile years of the principal person is narratively given in some of the letters. As many, however, as could be spared have been omitted. There is not one episode in the whole, nor, after Sir Charles Grandison is introduced, one letter inserted, but what tends to illustrate the principal design. .

[ocr errors]


Harriet Byron to Lady Grandison

After some general conversation, which succeeded our playing, Sir Charles drew his chair between my grandmamma and aunt, and, taking my grandmamma's hand, "May I not be allowed a quarter of an hour's conversation with Miss Byron in your presence, ladies?" said he, speaking low. "We have, indeed, only friends and relations present; but it will be most agreeable, I believe, to the dear lady, that what I have to say to her, and to you, may be rather reported to the gentlemen than heard by them."

"By all means, Sir Charles," said my grandmamma. Then, whispering to my aunt, "No man in this company thinks, but Sir Charles. Excuse me, my dear."

The moment Sir Charles applied himself in this particular manner to them, my heart, without hearing what he said, was

at my mouth. I arose, and withdrew to the cedar parlor, followed by Lucy and Nancy. The gentlemen, seeming to recollect themselves, withdrew likewise to another apartment. My aunt came to me. "Love! But ah! my dear, how you tremble! You must come with me." And then she told me what he had said to my grandmamma and her.

"I have no courage-none at all," said I. "If apprehension, if timidity, be signs of love, I have them all. Sir Charles Grandison has not one."..

My aunt led me in to Sir Charles and my grandmamma. He met me at my entrance into the room, and in the most engaging manner, my aunt having taken her seat, conducted me to a chair which happened to be vacant between her and my grandmother. He took no notice of my emotion, and I the sooner recovered myself, and still the sooner, as he himself seemed to be in some little confusion. However, he sat down, and with a manly, yet respectful air, his voice gaining strength as he proceeded, thus delivered himself: . . .

Not well before, I was more than once apprehensive of fainting, as he talked, agreeable as was his talk, and engaging as was his manner. My grandmamma and aunt saw my complexion change at his particular address to me in the last part of his speech. Each put her kind hand on one of mine, and held it on it, as my other hand held my handkerchief now to my eyes, and now as a cover to myself-felt varying cheek. At the same moment that he ceased speaking, he took our triply united hands in both his, and in the most respectful yet graceful manner pressed each of the three with his lips, mine twice. I could not speak.

My grandmamma and aunt, delighted, yet tears standing in their eyes, looked upon each other, and upon me, each as expecting the other to speak.

"I have, perhaps," said he, with some emotion, “taken up too much of Miss Byron's attention on this my first personal declaration. I will now return to the company below. To-morrow I will do myself the honor to dine with you. We will for this evening postpone the important subject. Miss Byron, I presume, will be best pleased to have it so. I shall to-morrow be favored with the result of your deliberations. Meantime, may I meet with an interceding friend in every one I have had

the pleasure to see this day! I must flatter myself with the honor of Miss Byron's whole heart, as well as with the approbation of all her friends. I cannot be thought at present to deserve it; but it shall be the endeavor of my life to do so."

He withdrew, with a grace which was all his own.

The moment he was gone from us, my grandmamma threw her arms about her Harriet, then about my aunt; and they congratulated me, and each other. . . .

Miss Byron, in continuation

After breakfast first one, then another, dropped away, and left only Sir Charles and me together. Lucy was the last that went, and the moment she was withdrawn, while I was thinking to retire to dress, he placed himself by me.

"Think me not abrupt, my dearest Miss Byron," said he, "that I take almost the only opportunity which has offered of entering upon a subject that is next my heart."

I found my face glow. I was silent.

"You have given me hope, madam; all your friends encourage that hope. I love, I revere your friends. What I have now to petition for is a confirmation of the hope I have presumed upon. Can you, madam (the female delicacy is more delicate than that of man can be), unequally as you may think yourself circumstanced with a man who owns that once he could have devoted himself to another lady, can you say that the man before you is the man whom you can, whom you do prefer to any other?"

[ocr errors]

He stopped, expecting my answer.

After some hesitations, "I have been accustomed, sir," said I, "by those friends whom you so deservedly value, to speak nothing but the simplest truth. In an article of this moment, I should be inexcusable if "

I stopped. His eyes were fixed upon my face. For my life I could not speak, yet wished to be able to speak.

"Ifif what, madam?" And he snatched my hand, bowed his face upon it, held it there, not looking up to mine. I could then speak.

"If, thus urged, and by Sir Charles Grandison, I did not speak my heart. I answer sir, I CAN — I DO."

I wanted, I thought, just then, to shrink into myself.

He kissed my hand with fervor, dropped down on one knee again kissed it. "You have laid me, madam, under everlasting obligation; and will you permit me before I riseloveliest of women, will you permit me to beg an early day? I have many affairs on my hands; many more in design, now I am come, as I hope, to settle in my native country for the rest of my life. My chief glory will be to behave commendably in the private life. I wish not to be a public man, and it must be a very particular call, for the service of my king and country united, that shall draw me out into public notice. Make me, madam, soon the happy husband I hope to be. I prescribe not to you the time, but you are above empty forms. May I presume to hope it will be before the end of a month to come?"

He had forgot himself. He said he would not prescribe to me. After some involuntary hesitations, "I am afraid of nothing so much just now, sir," said I, “as appearing, to a man of your honor and penetration, affected. Rise, sir, I beseech you. I cannot bear

"I will, madam, and rise as well as kneel, to thank you, when you have answered a question so very important to my happiness."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"I hope, sir, you will not be displeased. I did not think you would so soon be so very earnest. But this, sir, I say, — let me have reason to think that my happiness will not be the misfortune of a more excellent woman, and it shall be my endeavor to make the man happy who only can make me so."

He clasped me in his arms with an ardor that displeased me not, on reflection, but at the time startled me. He then thanked me again on one knee. I held out the hand he had not in his, with intent to raise him, for I could not speak. He received it as a token of favor, kissed it with ardor, arose,again pressed my cheek with his lips. I was too much surprised to repulse him with anger; but was he not too free? . .






As it is possible the mere English reader may have a different idea of romance from the author of these little volumes, and may consequently expect a kind of entertainment not to be found, nor which was even intended, in the following pages, it may not be improper to premise a few words concerning this kind of writing, which I do not remember to have seen hitherto attempted in our language.

The Epic, as well as the Drama, is divided into tragedy and comedy. Homer, who was the father of this species of poetry, gave us a pattern of both these, though that of the latter kind is entirely lost; which Aristotle tells us bore the same relation to comedy which his Iliad bears to tragedy. And perhaps, that we have no more instances of it among the writers of antiquity is owing to the loss of this great pattern, which, had it survived, would have found its imitators equally with the other poems of this great original.

And farther, as this poetry may be tragic or comic, I will not scruple to say it may be likewise either in verse or prose; for though it wants one particular, which the critic enumerates in the constituent parts of an epic poem, namely metre, yet when any kind of writing contains all its other parts such as fable, action, characters, sentiments, and diction - and is deficient in metre only, it seems, I think, reasonable to refer it to the epic; at least, as no critic hath thought proper to range it under another head, or to assign it a particular name to itself.


Thus the name Telemachus of the Archbishop of Cambray 1 appears to me of the epic kind, as well as the Odyssey of Homer; indeed, it is much fairer and more reasonable to give it a name

1 Fénelon.

« السابقةمتابعة »