صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

said, have you a mind, my lord, that she shalt quit the house this night, and before I leave it? If you have, I think I can undertake that she shall.

And can you do this for me? If you can, you shall be my great Apollo. That will, indeed, make me happy: for the moment you are gone she will force herself into my presence, and will throw the gout, perhaps, into my stomach. She reproaches me, as if she had been an innocent woman, and I the most ungrateful of men. For God's sake, nephew, release me from her, and I shall be happy. I would have left her behind me in the country, proceeded he; but she would come with me. She was afraid that I would appeal to you: she stands in awe of nobody else. You will be my guardian angel, if you will rid me of this plague.

Well, then, my lord, you will leave it to me to do the best I can with her: but it cannot be the best on your side, for your honour's sake, if we do her not that justice that the law would, or ought to do her. In a word, my lord, you must forgive me for saying, that you shall not resume that dignity to distress this woman, which you laid aside when you entered into treaty with her.

Well, well, I refer myself to your management; only this 100l. a year-Once again, I say, it would hurt me to reward a woman for plaguing me: and 1501. a year is two thirds more than ever she, or any of her family, were entitled to.

The worst and meanest are entitled to justice, my lord ; and I hope your lordship will not refuse to perform engagements that you entered into with your eyes open: you must not, if I take any concern in this affair.

Just then the woman sent in to beg the favour of an audience, as she called it, of me.

She addressed me in terms above her education. There is something, said she, in your countenance, sir, so terrible, and yet so sweet, that one must fear your anger, and yet hope for your forgiveness, when one has offended. I was too free in speaking of my lord to his nephew-And then she made a compliment to my character, and told me, she would be determined by my pleasure, be it what it would.

How seldom are violent spirits true spirits! When overawed, how tame are they, generally, in their submission! Yet this woman was not without art in hers. She saw, that, displeased as she apprehended I was with her, I had given her hopes of the payment of the hundred pounds a year penalty; and this made her so acquiescent.

I was indeed displeased with you, Mrs. Giffard ; and could not, from what you said, but conclude in your disfavour, in justification of my lord's complaints against you.

Will you give me leave, sir, to lay before you the true state of every thing between my lord and me?-Indeed, sir, you don't know

When two persons, who have lived in familiarity, differ, the fault is seldom wholly on one side : but thus far I judge between you, and desire not to hear particulars; the man who dispenses with a known duty, in such a case as this before us, must render himself despicable in the eyes

of the very person whom he raises into consequence, by sinking his own. Chastity is the crown and glory of a woman. The most profligate of the men love modesty in the sex, at the very time they are forming plots to destroy it in a particular object. When a woman has submitted to put a price upon her honour, she must appear, at times, despi.

[ocr errors]

cable in the eyes even of her seducer; and when these two break out into animosity, ought either to wish to live with the other ?

Indeed, indeed, sir, I am struck with remorse; I see my error. And she put her handkerchief to her eyes, and seemed to weep.

I proceeded : You, Mrs. Giffard, doubted the continuance of my lord's passion: you made your terms, therefore, and proposed a penalty besides. My lord submitted to the terms, and by that means secured his right of dis. missing you, at his pleasure ; the only convenience that a man dishonouring himself, by despising marriage, can think he has. Between him and you, what remains to be said, (though you are both answerable at a tribunal higher than your own, but that you should have separated long ago? Yet you would not consent to it: you would not leave him at liberty to assert the right he had reserved to himself. Strange weakness in him, that he would suffer that to depend upon you!—But one weakness is the parent of another.

She then visibly wept.

You found it out, that you could torment your lord in a higher degree, than he could torment you; and how, acting upon such principles, you have lived together for some time past, you have let every one see.

She, on her knees, besought my pardon for the freedom of that expression :- Not from motives of contrition, as I apprehend; but from those of policy.

She was strong enough to raise herself, without my assistance. She did, unbidden, on seeing me step backward a pace or two, to give her an opportunity to do so; and looked very silly; and the more, for having missed my

[ocr errors]

assisting hand : by which I supposed, that she had usually better success with my lord, whenever she had prevailed on herself to kneel to him.

It is easy, my good Dr. Bartlett, from small crevices, to discover day in an artful woman's heart. Nothing can be weaker, in the eye of an observer, who himself disdains artifice, than a woman who makes artifice her study. In a departure from honest nature, there will be such curvings, as that the eyes, the countenance, will generally betray the heart: and if she either breaks out into uncalled-for apologies, or affects undue reserve, she gives room to confirm the suspicion, that all is not right in her mind.

I excuse you, Mrs. Giffard, said I; my lord has deservedly brought much of what has distressed him, upon himself: but now it is best for you to part. My lord chooses not to see you. I would advise you to remove this very

afternoon. What, sir, and not have my 250l. a year !

Will you leave the house this night, if I give you my word ?

For the whole sum, sir—Two hundred and fifty pounds

a year, sir?

Yes, for the whole sum.

I will, sir, with all my heart and soul. Most of my things are in the country. My lord came up in a passion, to talk with you, sir. Two or three band-boxes are all I have here. Mr. Halden (he is my lord's favourite) shall go down, and see I take nothing but my own-I will trust to your word of houour, sir-and leave, for ever, the most ungrateful

Hush, Mrs. Giffard, these tears are tears of passion. There is not a female feature, at this instant, in your

face -[What a command of countenance ! it cleared up in a

moment. I expected it from her]—A penitent spirit is an humble, a broken spirit : you shew, at present, no sign of it.

She dropt me a courtesy, with such an air, (though not designed, I believe,) as shewed that the benefit she was to reap from the advice, would not be sudden, if ever; and immediately repeated her question, if she had my honour for the payment of the entire sum-And you don't insist, sir, (I have poor relations, that I shall pay out the hundred a year, as you mentioned ?

You are to do with the whole annuity as you please. If your relations are worthy, you cannot do better than to relieve their necessities. But remember, Mrs. Giffard, that every quarter brings you the wages of iniquity, and endeavour at some atonement.

The woman could too well bear this severity. Had a finger been sufficient to have made her feel, I would not have laid upon her the weight of my whole band.

She assured me, that she would leave the house in two hours' time. I returned to my lord, and told him so.

He arose from his seat, embraced me, and called me his good angel. I advised him to give his orders to Halden, or to whom he thought fit, to do her and himself justice, as to what belonged to her in the country.

But the terms! the terms! cried my lord. If you have brought me off for 1501. I will adore you.

These are the terms: (you promised to leave them to me:) you pay no more than 1501. a year for her life, till you assure me, upon your honour, that you cheerfully, and on mature consideration, make it up 2501.

How is that! how is that, nephew ?--Then I never shall pay more, depend upon it.

Nor will I ever ask you.

« السابقةمتابعة »