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This brought in Sir Charles. He entered with a look of serenity, as if nothing had passed to disturb him.
When Emily had done playing and singing, Miss Grandison began to make apologies: but he said, Let us forget each other's failings, Charlotte.
Notice being given of dinner, Sir Charles complaisantly led his sister Charlotte to her seat at the table.
A most intolerable superiority !-I wish he would do something wrong; something cruel : if he would but bear malice, would but stiffen his air by resentment, it would be something. As a MAN, cannot he be lordly, and assuming, and where he is so much regarded, I may say feared, nod his imperial significance to his vassals about him ?--Cannot he be imperious to servants, to shew his displeasure with principals ? No! it is natural to him to be good and just. His whole aim, as my lord observed, is, ' to convince and amend, and not to wound or hurt.'
After dinner, Miss Grandison put into my hands the parcel of my letters which I had consented Sir Charles should see. Miss Byron, sir, said she, will oblige you with the perusal of some of her letters. You will in them see another sort of woman than your Charlotte. May I amend, and be but half as good !-When you have read them, you will say, Amen; and, if your prayer take place, will be satisfied with
sister. He received them from me, standing up, bowing; and kissed the papers with an air of gallantry, that I thought greatly became him. [O the vanity of this girl! methinks my uncle says, at this place. He put them in his pocket.
Without conditions, Harriet ? said Miss Grandison. Except those of candor, yet correction, answered I. Again he bowed to me.
I don't know what to say to it, Lucy; but I think Sir Charles looks highly pleased to hear me praised; and the ladies and my lord miss no opportunity to say kind things of me: but could he not have answered Miss Grandison's question, Whether his favourite was a foreigner or not?—Had any other question arisen afterwards, that he had not cared to answer, he could but have declined answering it, as he did that.
What a great deal of writing does the reciting of half an hour or an hour's conversation make, when there are three or four speakers in company; and one attempts to write what each says in the first person! I am amazed at the quantity, on looking back. But it will be so in narrative letter-writing. Did not you, Lucy, write as long letters, when you went with your brother to Paris ? -I forget. Only this I remember, that I always was sorry when I came to the end of them. I am afraid it is quite otherwise with mine.
I am concerned that Lady D-is angry with me: yet, methinks, she shews, by her anger, that she had a value for me. As to what you told me of Lord D--'s setting his heart on the proposed alliance, I am not so much concerned at that, because he never saw me: and had the affair been in his own power, 'tis likely he would not have been very solicitous about his success. Many a one, Lucy, I believe, has found an ardor, when repulsed, which they would never have known, had they succeeded.
Lady Betty and Miss Clements were so good as to make me a visit, this afternoon, in their way to Windsor, where they are to pass two or three days. They lamented my long absence from town; and Lady Betty kindly regretted for me, the many fine entertainments I had lost, both
public and private, by my country excursion at this unpropitious season of the year, as she called it; shrugging her shoulders, as if in compassion to my rustic taste.
Good lady! she knew not that I am in company that want not entertainments out of themselves. They have no time to kill, or to delude: on the contrary, our constant complaint is, that time flies too fast: and I am sure, for my part, I am forced to be a manager of it; since, between conversation and writing, I have not a moment to spare: and I never in my life devoted so few hours to rest.
Sir Charles spoke very handsomely of Miss Clements, on occasion of Miss Grandison's saying, she was a plain, but good young woman. She is not a beauty, said he ; but she has qualities that are more to be admired than mere beauty.
Would she not, asked Lady - make a good wife for Lord W-? There is, said Sir Charles, too great a disparity in years. She has, and must have, too many hopes. My Lord Wm's wife will, probably, be confined six months out of twelve, to a gouty man's chamber. She must, therefore, be one who has outlived half her hopes: she must have been acquainted with affliction, and known disappointment. She must consider her marriage with him, though as an act of condescension, yet partly as a prefernient. Her tenderness will, by this means, be engaged; yet her dignity supported: and if she is not too much in years to bring my lord an heir, he will then be the most grateful of men to her.
My dear brother, said Miss Grandison, forgive me all my faults: your actions, your sentiments, shall be the rule of mine !-But who can come up to you? The Danbys--Lord W
Any body may, Charlotte, interrupted Sir Charles, who will be guided by the well-known rule of doing to others, as you would they should do unto you. Were you in the situation of the Danbys, or of Lord W-would you not wish to be done by, as I have done, and intend to do, by them? What must be those who, with hungry eyes, wait and wish for the death of a relation? May they not be compared to savages on the sea-shore, who look out impatiently for a wreck, in order to plunder and prey upon the spoils of the miserable? Lord W- has been long an unhappy man from want of principles: I shall rejoice, if I can be a means of convincing him, by his own experience, that he was in a wrong course, and of making his latter days happy. Would I not, in my decline, wish for a nephew that had the same notions? And can I expect such a one, if I set not the example ?
Pretty soon after supper, Sir Charles left us; and Miss Grandison, seeing me in a reverie, said, I will lay my life, Harriet, you fancy my brother is gone up to read your letters-Nay, you are in the right; for he whispered as much to me, before he withdrew.
But do not be apprehensive, Harriet; (for she saw me concerned ;) you have nothing to fear, I am sure.
Lady L said, that her brother's notions and mine were exactly alike, on every subject: but yet, Lucy, when one knows one's cause to be under actual examination, one cannot but have some heart-aches.—Yet why ?- If his favourite woman is a foreigner, what signifies his opinion of my letters ?-And yet it does : one would be willing to be well thought of by the worthy.
MISS BYRON.-IN CONTINUATION.
Thursday, March 23. We
E sat down early this morning to breakfast: Miss Grandison dismissed the attendants, as soon as Sir Charles entered the room.
He addressed himself to me the moment he saw me: Admirable Miss Byron, said he, what an entertainment have your letters given me, down to a certain period ! How, at and after that, have they distressed me for your sufferings from a savage !-It is well for him, and perhaps for me, that I saw not sooner this latter part of your affecting story: I have read through the whole parcel.
He took it froin his bosom, and, with a respectful air, presented it to me--Ten thousand thanks for the favourI dare not hope for further indulgence-Yet not to say, how desirous I am—But forgive me — Think me not too great an encroacher
I took them.
Surely, brother, said Miss Grandison, you cannot already have read the whole.
I have-I could not leave them-I sat up late-
Well, brother, said Miss Grandison, and what are the faults ?
Faults! Charlotte.-Such a noble heart! such an amis able frankness! No prudery! No coquetry! Yet so much, and so justly, admired by as many as have had the happiness to approach her !—Then, turning to me, I adore, madam, the goodness, the greatness of your heart.