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but I thou'd guess, if you was to apply to Henry, he wou'd be much more likely to fatisfy your enquiries than I am."-" I believe you, on my conscience,” said Fanny, looking archly as she spoke; “ Henry is likely enough to tell me how harmless love is; but question may lead to question, and in the end he may be found to preach one thing and practise another.”
To this the fair inoralist gravely answered « Never, Fanny, will Henry, or any other man of honour, lose his respect whilst you preserve your dignity. How he might treat questions of fo frivolous a fort; and Aippancies fo profest, as I never prov'd him with any thing of the kind, so I cannot answer for him in the case; certain it is, that if a woman is not secure in herself, no man shou'd be trusted by her; for my own part, I have walk'd and convers'd with Henry at all hours, and in all places, without fear or reserve."-". Oh Heavens !” exclaimed Fanny, “ and you 'survive it! well, but in the first place you are not in love with him, that is out of all doubt; nature seems to have exempted you from that weakness; and the insurmountable barrier which your rank and fortune oppose to ambi.
tion on his part, was he difpos’d to entertain it, throws him at such a distance, that he can only regard you with an awful respect. You are the heiress of Sir Roger Manstock; Henry is, the Lord knows who; you have a beloved father, for whose fake it is well known you have rejected, and wou'd again rejeet, suitors of the best pretensions; this young man, obscure, unknown even to himself, and without pretensions, muft of consequence be without hope, and where there is no hope; my dear Isabella, you know there can be no fpirit for enterprize, nay, I shou'd think impossibilities can scarce provoke desire; so that at all events you are out of danger, and being immoveable in your own resolutions, have nothing to fear either from Henry or yourself.”
Whilst Fanny reasoned in this manner, it was as much as Isabella's politeness could do to attend with patience the conclusion of her argument, upon the very first pause she in. terposed by replying,~" When you labour to convince me that I am in no danger with a person of Henry's fort, you do but argue to assure me, that when the sun gives his light I am not in the dark; but when you wou'd alfign other causes of my security, than what
are to be found simply in his honour, your argument becomes more ingenious than solid, because there needs not more than one good and sufficient reason for any one thing. As for that awful respect, which you ascribe to him, as applicable to my rank and fortune compar'd with his own, believe me, Fanny, I am not likely to exact, nor he to pay it, on 'that account; if he gives as much as my behaviour merits, be assur'd he adds nothing on the score of those worldly advantages fortune has for the present thrown into my scale, and which she may have in reserve for his in an equal or superior degree ; I desire, therefore, to be understood as owing no security to those insurmountable barriers, which you fancy you discover between us, but which are as imagi*nary as the exemption that you flatter me with
supposing I enjoy by nature from the common weaknesses of my fex, or the resolution you credit me for having fix'd so immoveably against all suitors, because I have declin’d the tenders of some. If there is an imputation that wou'd wound me deeper even than the charge of levity and coquetry, it is that of being thought a proud despiser of those be
neath my level, and insensible of soul.to merit in an humble state of fortune. When I have faid this in justification of myself, we will leave the subject where it is, observing only, that if you, being your own mistress in all respects, are serious in this attachment, and can engage the heart of a man so truly amiable and so ftrictly honourable, you will be the happiest of women; and if some few may condemn you for your disinterestedness, there will be many more to envy you for your good fortune.”— " Well then, my dear Isabella,” said Fanny, · in conclusion, “ if I was resolutely to marry this young unknown, you wou'd not think me quite run mad?” Upon my word,” replied she, “ I will not flatter you so far as to say I shou’d.” Then I will go and consult my pillow on the matter," said Fanny, " and fo good night to you !"
V E who are historians of fiction have a
privilege that hiftorians of fact do not enjoy, which, like the ring of Gyges, gives us the power of invisibility, by which we insinuate ourselves most completely into the secrets of our heroes and heroines, and instead of arguing, as our unendowed brethren do, from records and authorities, up to the thoughts and characters of our actors, which ac best is but an uncertain kind of guess-work, we can go point-blank to their hearts, in spite of all the obliquities of words and actions, and give to our readers the idea in embryo before it has been brought to the birth, or ever mounted to the lips. In virtue of this privilege I shall let Fanny Claypole go, as her meditations may easily be guessed at, and remain with the lovely Isabella, whose thoughts are probably more deep, and undoubtedly more interesting.
As soon as she was alone, she began to take a strict review of what had been her state of