AT the end of a week, Celestina, with Mrs. Elphinstone and her children, were arrived at the small village of Kirby Thorn, where, as the youngest of the little boys had appeared the preceding day to droop, his mother determined to pass the night. Ce­lestina, who saw her friend greatly alarmed by the indisposition of the child, endea­voured to appease her fears by imputing it to the fatigue and heat of their journey. But the terrified mother saw every moment new grounds for her apprehensions, and the next day the child was evidently much [Page 2] worse. Four and twenty hours more passed in painful solicitude, and then Mrs. El­phinstone knew that it was the measles; and became much easier, though the eldest boy had every symptom of having taken the same disorder.

Mrs. Elphinstone never left her children a moment; and Celestina, with the ten­derest solicitude, assisted her. The elder boy was of a sanguine and irritable consti­tution, and the eruptive fever ran high; while the situation they were in, at a little inn, where the servants and children of the house had not had the distemper, was ren­dered extremely uncomfortable by the fears of it's other inhabitants—the murmurs of the landlady and the reluctance of the ser­vants.

Celestina, with that cheerful benignity which was on all occasions ready for the service of the distressed, now acted for her friend almost the part of a servant; and in her frequent visits to the kitchen for what was wanted in the sick room, she saw three [Page 3] servents, a postillion and two footmen, and observed that they seemed fixed there, and were not at present travelling. The men were remarkably well behaved, and ob­serving the discontent of the people of the inn, had more than once offered to go out for her on any messages she might have oc­casion to send.

The mind of Celestina was, however, too much occupied by the little invalids to suf­fer her curiosity to be awakened by this circumstance; and she never enquired to whom these servants, nor a very plain but fashionable post chaise, about which she saw them sometimes busied, belonged. The children were in the height of the distem­per, and the anxious mother and Celestina entirely occupied about them, when a very decent person, about fifty, who had the look of a housekeeper to some person of fashion, came to the door of their room, which was left open for the sake of air, and asking permission to come in, told them, that her lady, Lady Horatia Howard, had [Page 4] ordered her to wait on them to enquire if her servants or any thing in her power could contribute to the ease of the children, or the ladies to whom they belonged.

Mrs. Elphinstone returned a proper an­swer to this very polite and humane mes­sage; and after the person who had deli­vered it was withdrawn, Celestina pausing a moment, said that she recollected the name of Lady Horatia Howard, and that she was one of the friends most esteemed among the numerous acquaintance culti­vated by Mrs. Willoughby.

It was now debated between them whe­ther, after so obliging a message, Celestina should not make herself known to Lady Horatia: Mrs. Elphinstone was inclined to think she ought; but Celestina seemed ra­ther disposed to avoid it.—"It is true," said she, "that I recollect my dear Mrs. Willoughby to have been very partial to her, but it is probable that she has long since forgotten me, and that I shall be ex­posed to the disagreeable necessity of an­nouncing [Page 5] myself, and recalling to her mind circumstances▪ which I cannot remember but with pain. Perhaps, too, she may know the strange occurrences which have since happened; and though I remember her conversation to have been very refined and elegant, perhaps she may expect, if she honours me with her notice, that I should prove myself worthy of it, by relating all that has happened; for who knows in what light the Castlenorth's may have re­presented my conduct. I am unequal to all this, I fear; and unless to avail myself of our former acquaintance will be of any use to you, my dear Mrs. Elphinstone, I shall not, for my own fake only, endeavour to renew it."

In a few hours afterwards, however, La­dy Horatia, who had heard from her ser­vant of the fine form and amiable manners of the young person who was so attentive to the sick children, contrived to have a door left open by which she must pass; and see­ing her, immediately knew her. On her [Page 6] return into the room therefore, Lady Ho­ratia sent her woman again, with her com­pliments, begging to know if the name of one of the ladies was not De Mornay, and if it was, requesting the favour of speaking to her.

Celestina could not now decline going; and following the messenger, was shewn into a room where Lady Horatia sat alone.

"Pardon me, dear Miss de Mornay," cried she, the moment she entered, "if instead of waiting on you, I request to see you here. The truth is, I am foolishly af­fected by the sight of illness. That which has attacked your little friends is not howe­ver, I hope, dangerous?"

Celestina, who by the freedom and kind­ness of this address was immediately re­lieved from some little uneasiness which she had felt from this unexpected interview, answered with all her usual ease and grace, and Lady Horatia, who seemed extremely pleased with having met her, enquired after Lady Molyneux, and such other of their [Page 7] former friends, as she thought would renew no unpleasing recollections: for though she did not know all that had happened, she was well aware how cruel a blow the death of Mrs. Willoughby had been to Celestina, and had heard some confused reports that the marriage of Willoughby and Miss Fitz-Hayman was interrupted by his prior at­tachment to his mother's ward; but she knew not how far Celestina had been pre­ferred to the haughty heiress; and though she had always a partial kindness to her when she used to meet her at Mrs. Wil­loughby's, she had lost fight of her en­tirely afterwards, and, after some enqui­ries, concluded she was gone back to France.

The sight of her now, at a remote inn in the North, was as agreeable as it was unexpected; and though the difference of their ages seemed to preclude any great de­gree of intimacy before, for Lady Horatia was passed the middle of life, yet now she felt herself strongly disposed to cultivate a [Page 8] pleasure thus thrown in her way. Celestina could not be insensible of the honour she derived from the notice of a person more eminent for her goodness and her talents than her birth or her fortune, and always pleasing, she grew infinitely more so where she desired to please. In a few hours, there­fore, they became so happy with each other, that Lady Horatia could not part with her but with regret; and Celestina would have left her with reluctance on any other occasion than to attend the children of her friend, (which, during her absence, Mrs. Hemmings, Lady Horatia's woman, had done, with an attention that prevented Mrs. Elphinstone's suffering from the en­gagement of Celestina with her lady.)

The children became better and their mother easier. Lady Horatia saw and liked her, and invited both her and Celestina to give her as much of their time as they could spare from their little convalescents. In consequence of this invitation they were now a good deal with her, and Mrs. El­phinstone [Page 9] on some occasion expressing how fortunate she thought herself that in so re­mote a place she had the honour of be­coming known to her, Lady Horatia said, smiling,—"And I dare say you think it very extraordinary too, my dear Madam; for unless you had known me before it would be difficult to account for my being here. Did you never remark that unhap­piness makes people restless?"

"Oh, yes! very often," replied Mrs. Elphinstone with a sigh.

"It has had that effect on me," said Lady Horatia; and satiated with every thing in what is called the world, where I have passed the greater part of my life, I often leave it and ramble about, careless of every thing but change of place; my old faithful servants and a few books being the sole companions of my travels. I have for these last four or five years given up my house in the country, and passed all the summer in wandering about Switzer­land, France, and England. This year [Page 10] I am going into Scotland, for no other reason than because I have not been there before: at this village one of my horses fell lame; and as it was indifferent to me where I was, I agreed to my servant's re­quest of staying here a day or two. While I waited, you arrived here, and I own very sincerely that I became interested for the children and for the ladies, such as Hem­mings described them to me. I hope we shall none, of us be sorry for the accidents that detained us here, when the little boys are quite well, as I am persuaded they will be now in a few days. They will have passed happily through a very troublesome distemper, and I think you will each of you have added a friend to your stock: the advantage, however, will be still more evidently mine, for I hope to have added two."

A few days confirmed the good opinion which Lady Horatia entertained of her new acquaintance and her acquaintance of her. If she was particularly attached to [Page 11] Celestina, it was because she was young enough to be her daughter, and because she told her that she could not look at her, especially when she was reading or em­ployed in any thing that gave a serious cast to her features, without remarking her likeness to a person she had once fondly loved.

Celestina, whose thoughts were perpetu­ally fixed on the strange mystery which hung over her birth, and who caught at every thing likely to clear it up, blushed deeply the first time she made this remark, and asked whether this person was a fo­reigner?

Lady Horatia sighed in her turn, and said, no! it was a brother of hers, who had not been long dead. "He was a soldier," said she, "and lost his life in America, in that war which tore it from the British empire. Judge yourself of the like­ness, though I well know it must be acci­dental."

[Page 12] She then took out of a travelling trunk a little filligreed casket, in which were se­veral valuable trinkets and several pictures. Three were the portraits of gentlemen.—"Come," said Lady Horatia, "to prove whether this resemblance is merely a chi­mera of mine, let us ask Mrs. Elphinstone if among these pictures she sees one which is like any body she knows; for my dear Miss de Mornay, do you know this simi­litude of countenance struck me when you were a child with Mrs. Willoughby; and now that your features are more formed, it is, in my mind, wonderfully strong. But, my sweet friend, why do you appear so uneasy?"

"I cannot very well tell," replied Ce­lestina, trying to force a smile: "I am sure to bear a resemblance to any body dear to your Ladyship must be ever pleasing to me, though I well know that it must be, as you observe, quite accidental."

Mrs. Elphinstone then coming in, Lady Horatia shewed her the three portraits:— [Page 13] "Come tell us, Mrs. Elphinstone, if you know any living friend whom either of these portraits resembles?"

Mrs. Elphinstone took them, and looked steadily a moment on each; then fixing on one, she looked more intently, first on that and then on Celestina. "Indeed I think I do," cried she: "I surely see a resemblance—a very strong resemblance, between this picture and Miss de Mornay. Bless me, how very like! the shape of the face, the mouth, the dark-brown eyebrow, the colour of the eyes, the setting on of the hair round the forehead and temples; ex­cept that it is less fair, that the features are proportionably larger, and that you wear a cap, in truth, my dear friend, it might have been drawn for you."

"And yet," said Lady Horatia, smil­ing mournfully, "this was drawn for a brother of mine, who could, I fear, be no relation to our lovely friend here: so strangely it happens that features coincide."

[Page 14] "It is fortunate, very fortunate for me, Madam," said Celestina gravely, "if this resemblance has had the effect of prejudic­ing your Ladyship in my favour."

"You have merit enough to justify it, though I had conceived an affection for you without any introduction. But we will talk no more of resemblances, if such dis­course makes us melancholy."

Lady Horatia then turned the conversa­tion; and the next day, as the two little boys were by this time well enough to con­tinue their journey, they moved on about twenty miles together; Lady Horatia beg­ging for that day to have Celestina with her, while her woman went with Mrs. El­phinstone, to assist in the care of her chil­dren.

Celestina, who knew only in general that Lady Horatia was a widow of very affluent fortune, who gave up much of her time to literary pursuits and literary con­nections, and much of her fortune to the assistance of the unhappy, now learned [Page 15] that domestic misfortunes had contributed, with her natural turn of mind, to estrange her entirely from those scenes where Celes­tina had sometimes formerly seen her; and that having lost an only daughter, (the last of her children,) of a deep decline, she now tried to call off her mind from the subjects of her mournful contemplations by change of place, and had never, since that period, resided long at any of her own houses, but had passed almost the whole year in tra­velling; stopping wherever she found a pleasant spot, and often remaining several days, or even weeks, at some remote house. She had once or twice, she said, engaged friends to go with her on these expeditions, but had always found the difficulties they made so much counterbalance the pleasure they were capable of affording her, that she now travelled alone. "Some," said she, "were tired, and some were tasteless; some were talkative and some were insipid. You will certainly think me fastidious; and perhaps I am so; but indeed it is [Page 16] more difficult to find such a companion as suits me in every respect, than appears at first view. Women of my own age, who are established in the world, cannot of course leave their families and connections; those who are not, are for the most part unhappy from pecuniary or family distresses, and the mind, depressed at that period of life, has lost it's power of resistance, and sinks in that hopeless languor from which I often want to be myself relieved by cheer­ful conversation. The young do not tra­vel for prospects, or enjoy cataracts and mountains: they are looking out for lo­vers; and are wearied when there are nei­ther men to talk to or adventures to be hoped for. I have tried two or three young ladies; and found, that as we had no ideas in common, our conversation was soon ex­hausted; and when I was near any place of summer resort, or passed through a town at the time of a race or a music meeting, their hearts were beating to enter into scenes which I was only solicitous to fly from. [Page 17] Do you know, however, that if I had not met you absolutely engaged on this Scottish journey, I should have been strongly tempted to enquire whether you would al­low me to make the experiment once more, where I am strongly impressed with an idea that I should meet with better success."

Celestina answered, that her good opi­nion did her the utmost honour: and by degrees the tender and maternal solicitude Lady Horatia expressed for her, drew from her the little narrative of her life. Lady Horatia expressed the greatest aversion to Lady Castlenorth. "It is true," said she, "I do hot know her much from my own observation; for she is a woman whose, conversation I have always disliked and avoided; but from some anecdotes of her that have been related to me by those who know her well, I believe it may with truth be said of her, as was said of a celebrated political character, that she has "a heart to imagine, a head to contrive, and a hand to execute any mischief." Willoughby [Page 18] is young, open-hearted, and artless: by no means likely to suspect, or likely to detect artifice so deep as what she is capable of; and I am well convinced that there are no contrivances at which she would hesitate, either to carry a favourite point or avenge it's failure."

Celestina was extremely comforted by this opinion given by so good a judge. Every other sorrow was comparatively light to that which she felt from the idea, when­ever it forced itself upon her mind, that Willoughby had, through ambition, or ca­price, or avarice, voluntarily deserted her; and every opinion that strengthened her own hopes of his unaltered affection, and imputed his leaving her to the evil machi­nations of the Castlenorths, was soothing and consolatory.

Lady Horatia Howard was now travel­ling towards Edinburgh, and made the time of Mrs. Elphinstone her own, for the pleasure she derived from her company, and still more from that of Celestina, to [Page 19] whom, during this journey, she became so much attached, that she made her promise to come to her whenever the abode she was now going to should be inconvenient, or whenever she was under the necessity of changing it. An invitation so flattering was gratefully accepted; and Lady Ho­ratia having shewn both her travelling friends every polite and generous attention, took leave of them with regret on their leaving Edinburgh with Elphinstone, who was there waiting for them. She gave Ce­lestina directions whither to write to her for the remainder of the summer, and again made her promise to come to her in the winter, if she left her Scottish friends; and at all events to contrive to pass with her two or three months of the next summer. After taking leave of her, a very tedious and very dreary journey of many days brought the Elphinstone's and Celestina to the sea side, where they were to embark for the Isle of Skie. Mrs. Elphinstone, ac­customed to see so many different countries, [Page 20] was yet struck with dismay at the sight of the black and dreary heaths over which they travelled; and in spite of all her at­tempts to sustain her courage, she looked at her children with eyes where maternal anguish was too visibly expressed. Elphin­stone, however, to whom novelty had al­ways charms, was not yet weary of his si­tuation, and he was as gay and unconcerned as if he had been leading his wife to the most beautiful estate in England. Celestina, though very little delighted with the coun­try they had passed through, was deter­mined to testify no dislike to it that might add to the painful dejection of her friend, and by making light of the inconveniencies of the journey, and putting their hopes and prospects in the fairest light, she supported her drooping spirits, which the thoughtless and somewhat unfeeling vivacity of El­phinstone himself, served rather to depress than to support.


ARRIVED at their insular abode after great fatigue, Mrs. Elphinstone, recalling all her fortitude, busied herself in making it as comfortable as she could; and assumed, at least, the appearance of cheerfulness, though Celestina saw with concern that it was often but appearance. Celestina her­self, however, whose mind had too long been unpleasingly called off from that ob­ject on which she best loved to fix it, was far from being displeased by the perfect seclusion of the place. She could now wander whole days alone, amid the wild solitude in which she found herself, listen­ing only to the rush of the cataract, which, dashing through broken stones, sparkled amid the dark heath on either side of it; [Page 22] or the sullen waves of the ocean itself, which on all sides, surrounded her. The ptarmigan,* bursting from it's heathy co­vert, or the sea fowl screeming from the rocks, were the only sounds that broke these murmurs; but she found her spirits soothed by the wildness of the places she visited; and far from regretting the more cultivated scenes she had left, she rejoiced that since she no longer could hope to see Willoughby, she was released from the necessity of attending to any other person.

The immense distance that was now be­tween them, she sometimes considered with dismay; but at others she remembered— ‘That distance only, cannot change the heart.’

She trusted on the long tried, the long assured tenderness of her lover, and was willing to indulge the soothing hope that they should meet again to be separated no more, and that he was labouring to remove [Page 23] the fatal obstacle, whatever it was, that now divided them.

After having been above five weeks on the island, a large pacquet arrived from Cathcart. It enclosed, among many to his sister, one to Celestina from Willough­by; and this, more than any she had yet received from him since his absence, seemed to assure her of his unfailing attachment. It was less confused than those he had for­merly written, and seemed the production of a mind more master of itself: and, though it did not speak in positive terms of his immediate return, Celestina fancied that many of the expressions alluded to that hour; and her heart found this idea so deliciously soothing, that she would not suffer her reason to deprive her of any part of the pleasure she found in indulging it.

A few of the residents of this and the neighbouring islands were by this time ac­quainted at the house of Mr. Elphinstone. The young, (and of young people their visitors principally consisted,) were all [Page 24] charmed with Celestina, who, whatever was her inclination for solitude, never re­fused to make one in the ramble of the morning, or to join the cheerful dance of an evening. Elphinstone, naturally good humoured, and particularly desirous of pleasing her, soon became anxious to pro­mote these parties, which Celestina, whose heart was opened to new sensations of plea­sure since the receipt of Willoughby's last letter, did not decline; not only because she found much in these remote regions to gratify her curiosity, but because she foresaw that, from the shortness.of the summer so far North, the days when these amusements were practicable were drawing to their con­clusion, and that she soon should be left unmolested, to listen to the roaring of the waters, and the sighings of the wind round the naked rocks, against which it inces­santly beat.

It was now the end of July, and Celes­tina had already visited Jona and several other islands. Sometimes these excursions [Page 25] had been made with Mrs. Elphinstone, but oftener without her. Elphinstone kept a boat, which was always ready for the service of Celestina, and when his wife could not go with her, a Miss Macqueen, a very agreeable young highland lady, al­ways made the third.

Several little isles, which afford no habi­tations for winter, are scattered among the larger islands, which are called the Hebri­des. One of these lay within sight of El­phinstone's house, (which was close to the shore,) at the distance of about a mile and a half. It was remarkable for the grotesque form of the cliffs which arose round it, and for a stream of the purest water, that bub­bled up at the highest ground, and fell into the sea through a chasm of the rock. Celestina, to whom Elphinstone had shewn it, laughingly called it her island; and he, in return, had said that were she established on it, it would become more dangerous than the island of Calypso. Among other little plans of amusement, which the decline [Page 26] of summer insensibly rendered more fre­quent, it was agreed that on the first fine day some cold provisions should be taken, and that they would all dine together on one of the natural stone tables in Celestina's island.

A fine day was found; the party, which were Mr. and Mrs. Elphinstone, Miss Macqueen, and two gentlemen, were ready, when one of the boatmen who usu­ally accompanied them was no where to be found. Elphinstone, equally impatient and eager, whatever was the importance or insignificance of the matter he was engaged in, was going himself in search of the miss­ing man, when one of those who remained in the boat followed and told him that there was a young man a few yards farther on the shore, who would take the place of him that was absent, and that it was better not to wait: Elphinstone, satisfied so long as his party was not interrupted, accepted the offer, and the boatman beckoning to a highlander who stood at some distance, he [Page 27] ran towards them and was admitted into the boat.

The party now put off from shore. The water was beautifully smooth, the sky clear, and the wind in their favour; very little exertion therefore on the part of the men who were entrusted with the naviga­tion, landed them safely on the ilk. It did not contain more than three acres of land, and the sole inhabitant of it was a solitary herdsman, whose temporary dwel­ling, composed of loose stones, turf, and heath, he had raised under the protection of a large cliff of grey slate, that seemed to have started away, in some strange con­cussion of nature, from some other island, and to have fixed itself as a sea mark amidst the perpendicular and abrupt rocks that fenced this on every side. The spring burst out near it's base, and here the party sat down to make their gay repast.

When it was over, the gentlemen went away; and while the boatmen were at dinner, pushed out the boat themselves [Page 28] and began to fish near the shore, while Celestina, leaving the ladies together, walked away alone to the western coast of the island.

The sun was already declining in an almost cloudless sky, and gave the warm­est splendour to the broad expanse of ocean, broken by several islands, whose rocky points and angular cliffs caught the strong lights, in brilliant contrast to the lucid hue of the heath with which their summits were cloathed, and which on the northern and eastern sides threw a dark shadow on the clear and tranquil bosom of the sea. The sea birds, in swarming myriads, were returning to their nests among the ragged precipices beneath her; and Celestina, recalling to her mind the "green delights" of Alvestone, ‘It's deepening woods, gay lawns, and airy summits,’ compared it, in pensive contemplation, with the scene before her; yet different as they were, she thought that with Wil­loughby [Page 29] any place would be to her a para­dise; and that even in such a remote spot as this she should be happy if it gave only a subsistence with him.

This train of thought a little indulged, made her have recourse to her pencil, and produced an address to him in the follow­ing

On this lone island, whose unfruitful breast
Feeds but the summer-shepherds little flock,
With scanty herbage from the half cloath'd rock,
Where osprays, cormorants, and sea mews rest;
Even in a scene so desolate and rude
I could with thee for months and years be blest;
And, of thy tenderness and love possest,
Find all my world in this lone solitude!
When the bright sun these northern seas illume,
With thee admire the lights reflected charms;
And when drear Winter spreads his cheerless gloom,
Still find Elysium in thy sheltering arms;
For thou to me canst sovereign bliss impart,
Thy mind my empire, and my throne thy heart.

[Page 30] The broad orb of the sun was now only half seen above the horizon; and Celestina, who had little marked the progress of time, rose, and hastened to join her com­panions; as she turned for this purpose towards that part of the island where she had left them, she saw the highlander, who had been taken by chance into the boat in consequence of the absence of ano­ther, start up from the ground at about two hundred paces from her, where he seemed to have been concealed behind a cairn or pile of rude stones, and hurry away towards the part of the shore where the boat had been left. The incident however made no great impression on her mind, but from the singular appearance of the man, who was in a complete high­land dress, which is now not often seen, and which made him, as he walked very quickly on before her, seem exactly the figure a painter would have chosen to have placed in a landscape, representing the [Page 31] heathy summits and romantic rocks of the Hebrides.

She soon rejoined Mrs. Elphinstone and Miss Macqueen. The three gentlemen almost as soon approached to tell them it was time to return; and they arrived again at their home after a little excursion with which all seemed pleased, though Celes­tina had suffered some raillery for having so long deserted them.

Every day now passed nearly alike, di­versified only now and then by the com­pany of a stranger from some of the other islands, and sometimes a party in the boat. Elphinstone was not yet tired by the pro­ject which brought him hither, for to use an expression of his wife's, which she ut­tered with a melancholy smile to Celestina, "the new was not yet off." He was there­fore gay and alert; persuaded himself, by calculations, which he made after his own sanguine manner, that he was not only a benefactor to the public, but should in a few years realize a great fortune by facili­tating [Page 32] the capture of herrings among the western islands of Scotland.

The season for the proof of his exploits in this way was now rapidly approaching, and he became every day more busy: but his wife looked forward to it with less pleasure: she languished for her little girls, who were at the other extremity of England, and thought with dismay of the tempests of winter, which would shut her out from the little communication she yet had with that country. But whatever was her regret, she suffered it not to disturb the transient happiness her husband seemed to enjoy, nor to communicate any gloom to the milder cheerfulness of Celestina, whose company was her greatest resource against that cold despondence, which, in despite of all her fortitude, sometimes seized on her heart.

Celestina had now been almost three months an inhabitant of the Isle of Skie, and felt nothing unpleasant in her insu­lar situation but the length of time that [Page 33] must always elapse before she could hear from Willoughby or even from Cathcart. A second packet was however brought to Mrs. Elphinstone from the latter before the expiration of the eleventh week of their abode. With eager impatience it was opened. Celestina received her part of it with a beating heart; but on unsealing it found no letter from Willoughby. A letter, in a hand which she did not at the moment recollect ever to have seen be­fore, attracted her attention and mingled it with something of terror. She looked eagerly at the name, and saw it signed with that of the elder Mr. Thorold. Her spirits sunk! was it some ill news of Wil­loughby, which he communicated that he might soften the blow? She hurried it over in such breathless agitation as hardly gave her leave to understand what she read, which was to this effect:

Your old friend, amiable Celestina, though he has only had one letter from [Page 34] you since you left him, reminds you of himself once more, and is sorry that, like every thing in this world, his letter will convey to you a mixture of pleasure and pain.

My daughter Arabella is married, to her own wishes and those of her mo­ther. In point of fortune she has done well. We cannot here obtain every thing. I hope she will be happy, and am sure she will be rich, which, in the opinion of most fathers, you know, puts the former point out of doubt. You will guess that Mr. Bettenson is the gentleman who is now numbered with my family. My wife has been gone with the new married couple some weeks to the seat of Mr. Bettenson's fa­ther in Norfolk.

You know I love home; and I love that those who are less delighted with it should not be needlessly disturbed when they are out; for which reason I have never communicated to his mo­ther, [Page 35] that Montague, after attending his sister's wedding here, did not return to Oxford as he talked of doing; that I know not whither he is gone, and have only had one letter from him since, in which he assures me he is well, and desires I would not be uneasy about him.

It is very difficult to be otherwise. This eccentric young man makes me tremble for him perpetually. Having no clue to direct my guesses, I have no conjecture where or with whom he is; and think it better to say as little as I can about an absence on which a thou­sand unfavourable constructions may be put. Ah! my lovely ward, how fortu­nate it would have been, if, when his judgment directed his heart, it could have been accepted where—but this is wrong, or at best useless. Farewel! May heaven protect you! and I pray you not to forget

your most faithful friend, E. THOROLD.

[Page 36] Relieved from her first apprehensions, Celestina felt extremely concerned at the absence of Montague Thorold; so painful to his father, perhaps so discreditable to himself. She read over the letter again, and fancied it very evident that Mr. Tho­rold imputed it to some new attachment; and giving a sigh to the recollection of all it must cost such a father to see such an unfortunate turn of mind blast all the ac­quirements of learning, and all the advan­tages of genius, she turned her thoughts to Willoughby, and felt with renewed poignancy the disappointment of not hav­ing heard from him.

Another and another week passed with­out any intelligence, and all the soothing hopes Celestina had so fondly encouraged gradually gave way to fear and apprehen­sion. At length a second packet arrived: it contained a letter indeed from Wil­loughby; but so far was it from confirm­ing the favourable presages of the former, that she saw in it only a prelude to the [Page 37] event which other information made her believe would soon happen—the marriage of Willoughby and Miss Fitz-Hayman. Lady Horatia Howard, whose-attachment to Celestina had taken very deep root, had written to her from London, whither she was now gone, and had told her, with as much tenderness as she could, that such was the general report among the relations of the family, and what was generally be lieved in the world. From the same channel she also learned that Sir Philip and Lady Molyneux were expected in England early in the ensuing winter, and that a large house in Portman-square was fitting up in the most splendid stile for their reception.

Lady Horatia concluded a most friendly letter to Celestina thus:

But my dear Miss De Mornay, how­ever all these things may be, let me hope that you will not hide yourself in the Hebrides all the winter: why should you? Talents and virtues like your's [Page 38] were never intended for obscurity. Come then to me, and assure yourself of the truest welcome. You need not apprehend meeting Mr. Willoughby and his bride, for it is understood that they are to remain some time abroad; and before they return to England, you will have learned to conquer those painful emotions which the sight of them now perhaps might give you. Your understanding sets you above the puerile indulgence which inferior minds claim by prescription towards a first love. The man whom any common consideration could induce, after hav­ing won your affections, to desert you, never could deserve you; and if some insurmountable barrier is between you, you will learn to consider him as a friend, and consult his peace in regain­ing that cheerfulness which he meant not to destroy; but which to see de­stroyed, must overcloud his days, how­ever prosperous they may otherwise be.

[Page 39] There was in this letter more meant than was expressed; and on considering it, the wonder and uneasiness of Celestina were redoubled. But however obliged she thought herself by the friendly interest Lady Horatia took in her happiness, and however just her arguments might be, she felt no inclination to quit her present soli­tude; and since she had now less hope than ever of meeting Willoughby, she had less than ever a desire to return into the world, but gave herself up to that melancholy despondence, against which hope, and her own sanguine and cheerful temper, had till now supported her.

To indulge this encreasing sadness, it was now her custom to walk out alone af­ter dinner, and to make for herself a spe­cies of gloomy enjoyment from the dreary and wild scenes around her. A little time before, she had been imagining how plea­sant the most desolate of these barren islands might be rendered to her by the presence of her beloved Willoughby. She now ra­ther [Page 40] sought images of horror. The sun, far distant from this northern region, was as faint and languid as the sick thoughts of Celestina: his feeble rays no longer gave any warm colouring to the rugged cliffs that rose above her head, or lent the undulating sea that sparkling brilliance which a few weeks before had given gaiety and cheerfulness even to these scattered masses of almost naked stone, against which the water incessantly broke. Grey, sullen, and cold, the waves now slowly rolled to­wards the shore, where Celestina fre­quently sat whole hours, as if to count them, when she had in reality no idea pre­sent to her but Willoughby lost to her for ever—Willoughby forgetting her, and mar­ried to Miss Fitz-Hayman!

She had more than once remarked, in returning from her walks, that a man, who kept always at such a distance that she could merely discover to be a high­lander, seemed to be observing her; yet as he never came near her, and always [Page 41] disappeared before she got near the house, she could not imagine him to be one of the people belonging to Elphinstone: but puzzled rather than alarmed by his ap­pearance, for which she could not account, she insensibly ceased to notice him. Mrs. Elphinstone, occupied as she was by her own domestic uneasiness, was still most tenderly attentive to Celestina, and endea­voured to communicate to her some of that still and mournful acquiescence which served her in place of philosophy. Ce­lestina had not yet suffered enough to learn it; but she forbore to add to the melan­choly of her friend by indulging her own while they were together; and this re­straint threw her more than ever into entire solitude, though the autumn was so far ad­vanced that the weather frequently drove her from the open hill, or the vale under it, to the casual shelter of some natural cave, by the side of which, the torrent, en­creased by the storm, hoarsely rushed, and was answered by the roar of other streams, [Page 42] whose hollow murmurs swelled in the gusts of wind that whistled through the moun­tainous tracks, and compelled even the fowls of the desart to seek shelter, where only it was afforded, within the caverns of the cliffs, or among the matted heath that cloathed their summits.

The delicate, the elegant, the lovely Celestina, she whose talents would have adorned the most informed society, and whose beauty might have given new lustre to the fairest assembly, was thus a self­banished recluse in the remotest and most uncultivated part of the British dominions. Her wish now was, to pass her whole life here, in that sullen calm which she at length hoped to obtain; and the rudest scene of these islands now appeared to her infinitely preferable to any of the pleasures Lady Horatia Howard offered her, since they could only serve to remind her of Wil­loughby; perhaps to shew her how happy he could learn to be, united with another.

[Page 43] The frequency of storms now prevented many of those visits which had, during summer, a little broken, for Elphinstone, the uniformity of solitude; but it was the height of the season for catching herrings, and he was busy, and for the present hap­py; while his unfortunate wife, who, de­solate as her present situation was, yet dreaded the hour when this bustle should sink into discontent and give place to other projects, received him on his return from those expeditions to other islands, in which he was now frequently engaged, always with cheerfulness, which he did not, or would not see, was forced; and sometimes with smiles, which to every body but him very evidently were the smiles of stifled an­guish.

Celestina answered Lady Horatia's letter as it deserved, but to Willoughby she de­termined not to write. That trembling solicitude with which she had been accus­tomed to expect letters from him, it was now, she thought, time to subdue, for she [Page 44] persuaded herself that never again they would bring to her any thing but anguish and regret: and yet by those contradict­ing sensations to which violent attachments subject the human heart, she incessantly indulged herself in thinking of all those happy hours which she had passed with him, whom she fancied deserved little or no regret, of whom she ought not to think at all, and yet was so fond of recollecting, that every conversation was irksome to her, and every employment a task, which took off her attention a moment from him.

Ti perdo! ti lascio, non ti vedro piu—

she repeated incessantly to herself, some­times with tears of tenderness, and some­times with those painful emotions of min­gled anger and regret which press on the heart when pride and resentment are strug­gling with affection. In other moods she reproached herself for thus cherishing this unhappy passion, tried to recal those days of resignation when, without hope of ever [Page 45] being his, she yet preferred Willoughby to all mankind; and to dismiss from her mind for ever the recollection of the few weeks when he had awakened that hope, and called forth all her sensibility only as it should seem to render her wretched; then she exclaimed in her native language—

Felicité passée
Qui ne peut revenir
Tourment de ma pensée
Que n'ai je en te perdant, perdu le souvenir.

In these gloomy moods, she was quite unable to remain a moment in company, especially in the company of Elphinstone, who, with the true projecter's infatuation, fancied every body else as much interested about the fishery as he was; and persecuted her with details of how many busses he had out and how many lasts they had taken; what was the best method of curing them, and of the superiority which a few years would give the fishery in which he was en­gaged, over the Dutch.

[Page 46] Celestina began to dread the conversa­tion; and had it not been for Mrs. El­phinstone, of whose suffering merit she was every hour more sensible, she would not have forborne to express her weariness and disgust. A hearer was necessary to Elphinstone; and when he had' nobody else to talk to, this unenviable place was filled by the inwardly-impatient Celestina.

It happened, however, that she was re­leased from this for some days. Towards the end of November, Elphinstone went to the Isle of Harries, on his business, as he fancied, and the wind being against his return, she no longer listened. to the me­thod of curing herrings, but returned to her shortened but less interrupted walks. In one of these, towards the close of a very lowering and cheerless day, when her way was along the rugged cliffs that, on the western side of the island, hung over the sea, she composed the following sonnet:

Faultering and sad, the unhappy pilgrim roves,
Who, on the eve of bleak December's night,
Divided far from all he fondly loves,
Journeys alone, along the giddy height
Of these steep cliffs, and as the sun's last ray
Fades in the West, sees, from the rocky verge,
Dark tempest scowling o'er the shorten'd day,
And hears, with ear appall'd, the impetuous surge
Beneath him thunder!—So, with heart opprest,
Alone, reluctant, desolate, and slow,
By friendship's cheering radiance now unblest,
Along life's rudest path I seem to go;
Nor see where yet the anxious heart may rest,
That trembling at the past—recoils from future woe!


ELPHINSTONE had now been absent some days, and the wind, which was contrary and violent, prevented his return to the place of his abode. Mrs. Elphinstone became uneasy at the storms which detained him, and Celestina parti­cipated in her anxiety. At length the wind sunk, and, towards the evening of the fifth day of his absence, was fair to bring him from Herries. Mrs. Elphin­stone, who had been a good deal alarmed by the hurricanes of several preceding days, and had wearied her spirits by watch­ing the weather and. keeping an anxious eye towards the impracticable sea, found herself indisposed and shivering; and telling Celestina that she believed she had [Page 49] caught cold, she went early to bed, re­marking, as she bade her good night, that Elphinstone would probably be at home in the morning.

Celestina, left alone, went out as was her custom, even although the evening was already closed in; and standing on the edge of the rocks, near the house, re­marked the singular appearance of the moon, which was now rising. It was large, and of a dull red, surrounded by clouds of a deep purple, whose skirts seemed touched with flame. Large vo­lumes of heavy vapour were gathering in the sky, and the heaving surges swelled towards the shore, and broke upon it with that sullen regularity that foretels a storm. From the North, arose distinctly the pointed rays of the Aurora Borealis: fiery and portentous, they seemed to flash like faint lightning a little while, till the moon be­coming clearer, rendered them less visible.

Not a sound was heard but the dull murmurs of the sea on one side and the [Page 50] rapid waterfalls on the other, whose en­creased noise foretold with equal certainty an approaching tempest. Celestina, who was in that disposition of mind to which horrors are congenial, walked slowly on notwithstanding; but quitting the cliffs, on account of the gales of wind which now blew from the sea, she went along a narrow pass, where there was a cairn or heap of stones loosely piled together, the work of the first wild natives of the country; and as that was as far as she thought it proper to venture from the house, though it was not more than eight o'clock, she leaned pensively against it, and watched with some surprise the fluctuations of the clouds that were wildly driven by the wind across the disk of the moon, and listened with a kind of chill awe, to the loud yet hollow echo of the wind among the hills; which some­times sobbed with stormy violence for a moment, and then suddenly sinking, was succeeded by a pause more terrible.

[Page 51] It was in one of these moments of alarm­ing silence, that Celestina thought she saw the shadow of a human form for a moment on the ground, as if the person was behind her who occasioned it. She was very little subject to fear; but the loneliness of the place, and her own desponding spirits to­gether, made her start with terror and turn round. Something immediately glided away; and convinced that the first im­pression had not been the work of fancy, she hastened with quick steps from the place, and hardly at the distance of above a hundred yards, ventured to look behind her. She fancied that she saw a man standing in the place she had left; and the strange superstitions of the islands, of which she had heard much since her resid­ing on them, crowding at that moment on her mind, she became extremely terrified, and hurried on with such unguarded speed, that a little before she reached the house she trod on a loose stone, that turned under her foot, and she fell with some violence [Page 52] and with considerable pain; which, toge­ther with the fear she had before felt, pro­duced a momentary stupor, from which she was awakened by finding herself eagerly raised from the ground by some person, who wildly expressed his fears for her safety, and in whose voice she recognized, with astonishment that deprived her of ut­terance, Montague Thorold. Surprize at that moment conquered the pain she felt: "Oh! Mr. Montague!" cried she, "is it possible? For heaven's sake what brought you hither?"

"No matter what," replied he eagerly: "think not—ask not about me!—when you are yourself hurt—in pain—bruised, I fear, by your fall!"

"I have no hurt so great," said Celes­tina, rising and attempting to walk: "I feel no bodily pain so acute, as that which your extraordinary conduct gives me."

"Let me assist you into the house," in­terrupted he. "Do you not see that the tempest, which has been gathering the [Page 53] whole evening in the south-west, is now driving hither with uncommon fury?"

"And let it come," answered she lan­guidly: "I am just now so very unhappy myself—I feel so much for the unhappiness of my friends, particularly of your father, that it is indifferent to me what comes."

"It is not for me, at least, that you feel," answered he: "that I know but too well: but undoubtedly you will be greatly concerned for poor Elphinstone, whose boat has been beating about ever since night-fall, within a mile of the shore, at the imminent hazard of being dashed to pieces."

At this information Celestina forgot her­self, forgot the uneasy astonishment into which the unexpected presence of Monta­gue Thorold had thrown her, and the danger of Elphinstone occupied all her thoughts. "Oh! where!" cried she, "where is he? Shew me the bark which is in so much hazard, and for heaven's [Page 54] sake call the people, who are not, perhaps, aware of it's danger."

"Alas!" answered he, "several men have been upon the shore above half an hour, alarmed, as I was, at the danger the vessel was in of striking on the rocks, which she has got among from the unexpected shifting of the wind; but in their present state no human assistance can do them any service."

He had, during this dialogue, taken her arm, and led her towards a point of the rock, where she saw, by the pale and uncer­tain light of a moon, wrapped continually in volumes of clouds, the boat struggling among the dark heavy waves which often totally concealed it, and continually driven by the sudden gusts of violent wind from the point it was attempting to reach.

She now saw and shuddered at the peril of those who were in it: but still fancying it was possible to afford them assistance, she felt impatient and almost angry that Montague Thorold, holding her arm [Page 55] within his, stood gazing when she fancied he might be helping. "Why stand here," cried she, "when we might be of use in summoning people to the assistance of those poor creatures?" While she yet spoke, and while Montague, though not less alive to their distress, was less sanguine in the hope to assist them, and therefore still hesitated, she disengaged herself hastily from his arm, and flew towards the house, no longer conscious of any thing but their danger: before she could reach it, though the distance was not a quarter of a mile, the wind suddenly blew with treble fury, and a hail storm accompanied it, against which she found it difficult to stand. She found the door open, and Mrs. Elphinstone, whom the wind and the talking of the servants had awakened, already below. Trembling with apprehension, which the sudden ap­pearance of Celestina encreased—"Good God, my dear friend, what is the matter?" cried she, "and why are you out in so dreadful a night?"

[Page 56] "Ah! dear Madam!" replied Celestina: "Mr. Elphinstone—his boat—"

"What of him?" interrupted her terri­fied friend: "is he drowned? is he lost?"

"No, no! I hope, I believe not," cried Celestina; "but a boat, which they say is his, is beating off the island, and the people are afraid it will go to pieces."

This was enough for the unhappy Mrs. Elphinstone, who seeing, in it's most dread­ful light, the evil which threatened her, now ran herself wildly towards the beach; while Celestina, overtaking her with diffi­culty, persuaded her to accept her assist­ance—assistance which she was very little able to give.

The sad event had happened before the trembling friends had reached the head­land. The boat striking on the sunken rocks, to save it from which the united efforts of the little crew had been exerted in vain, was staved to pieces, and the unhappy men, already exhausted with fa­tigue, were unable to resist by swimming, [Page 57] the violence of the sea. Mrs. Elphinstone and Celestina looked out in vain for the place where a few moments before the boat had been seen: no vestige of it remained, and they saw only, by the waining moon, which but served to lend new horrors to the view, the wild waves dashing over these rocks in sheets of white foam; while the fury of the winds and the beating of the rain hardly allowed them to stand on the precipice that overlooked the scene of stormy desolation.

Celestina doubted but little of the cala­mity, and therefore endeavoured to per­suade her unfortunate friend to return to the house; but this was impossible: she continued to wander backwards and for­wards for some moments, till terror quite overcame her; and she threw herself on the ground, saying, in a low and solemn voice to Celestina—"Elphinstone is drowned; I know he is; and here I will wait to see his corps, which will be driven on shore in the morning." Then starting [Page 58] up, she would have gone down to the shore, from an idea which suddenly oc­curred to her that he might yet be saved by swimming. Celestina, not knowing whether it was best to prevent or to in­dulge her, unable to dissimulate and affect hope she did not feel, was in a situation hardly better than that of her distracted friend whom she supported, when Mon­tague Thorold joined them. Mrs. El­phinstone, occupied only by the terror of the moment, took no notice of the extra­ordinary circumstance of a stranger, whom she had never seen before, thus suddenly appearing; but unconscious of every thing, and heedless of who he was, re­quested in accents of piercing anguish his assistance to help her down the winding path which led to the beach. He lent it, though very certain that the catastrophe had already taken place which by her ea­ger and wild enquiries he saw she yet thought doubtful; and giving her one arm, while with the other he clasped the [Page 59] trembling hand of Celestina, they reached the place, where seven or eight men were already assembled. The moon was by this time down, and the darkness was only broken by livid flashes of faint lightning, which, with the thunder muttering at a distance, encreased the horrors of the storm. Amid the black and swelling waves, however, objects were seen floating, and many of these heavy seas had not broken on the shore, before these objects were discerned to be the bodies of those who had perished, and that of the ill fated Elphinstone was one of the first which was thrown on the beach, and too well known by his unhappy wife. She now no longer remembered all the causes of uneasiness that her husband had given her; but saw only Elphinstone, once so fondly beloved, the possessor of her first affections, the fa­ther of her children, a disfigured corpse before her. Her native strength of under­standing, and the calmness acquired by habitual suffering, forsook her at once, and [Page 58] [...] [Page 59] [...] [Page 60] [...] [Page 61] [...] [Page 60] grief produced a momentary phrenzy, dur­ing which fearful paroxysm, Celestina, whose presence of mind was now summoned to the assistance of her poor unhappy friend, had her conveyed with great difficulty to the house; where Montague Thorold at­tending them both with the most assiduous tenderness, she watched for many days over the disordered intellects of the ill fated Mrs. Elphinstone before she saw them re­stored. At length the violence of her af­fliction, which Celestina found means to soften by presenting her children continu­ally to her, and talking to her of those that were absent, sunk into the calm torpor of despair. She heard nothing, she saw nothing but the children, whom she would not suffer to be a moment absent from her; and the agitation of her mind preying on her slender frame, she was reduced to a state of languor which made Celestina tremble for her life.

Celestina had, immediately after the fa­tal event, written to Cathcart, desiring his [Page 61] directions, and even entreating him to come, himself to fetch them all from a place where there was now no reason for their stay. But she knew that it must be five or six weeks before she could have an an­swer; and hardly dared trust herself to meditate on the scenes of distress she must in that time encounter.

Amid all the horrors however which had surrounded her, she had not forgotten the fears and alarms to which she knew the ab­sence of Montague Thorold exposed his father, her benefactor; she seized the first interval, after the death of Elphinstone, to urge to him the cruelty of his conduct, and to entreat him to return home; but he replied, that nothing on earth should induce him to leave the place where she was, while there was a probability of his being of use to her; and that whether she admitted him to see her, or drove her from him, the island should be his residence while she remained in it. All that then remained for her was, to write to Mr. Tho­rold, [Page 62] which she did under cover to Cath­cart, acquainting him as briefly as she could of the unexpected appearance of his son, and all that had happened since.

Having thus far acquitted herself, she found herself in a situation in which it was almost impossible for her to help receiving the assistance of one to whom she trembled to be obliged, while she knew it encou­raged and augmented a passion that em­poisoned his life. On him, however, she was compelled to entrust the regulation of the last melancholy offices that were to be performed for poor Elphinstone, who was interred in a little ruined chapel about two miles from his late residence; his wife consenting reluctantly to this disposi­tion, and taking opiates incessantly to pro­cure that torpor which alone prevented the more violent ebullitions of grief from seiz­ing her again, when the remains of her husband were removed.

Recourse to opiates became gradually a habit with Mrs. Elphinstone; and though [Page 63] Celestina trembled for the consequences, she thought it almost inhuman to oppose the application of any remedy, which, un­der such circumstances, won her friend from sorrow even for an hour. Yet the frequent absences it occasioned, compelled her to be very long and very often alone with Montague Thorold, to whose manly tenderness on the late sad occasion she could not be insensible, and to whose unceasing attention she was every hour more obliged. In the first conference they had held when the melancholy event to which they had been witnesses allowed them to talk of themselves, Celestina, after urging him to return to his father by every motive with which reason and truth supplied her, repeated to him with great firmness her resolution never to marry if Willoughby was not her husband, and represented very forcibly the cruelty as well as absurdity of his pursuing her; to which he replied, that he knew all she represented before he came thither, that his only wish was to be allowed to see [Page 64] her, though at a distance, and his only gratification, that of being suffered to breathe the same air; that it was the na­tural privilege of every human being to pursue their happiness when it injured no­body; and that finding his consisted in being near her, though without even the hope of her admitting him into her pre­sence, he had followed that axiom, and had for some weeks, been the distant and unseen companion of all her walks. "I was the highlander," said he, "who sup­plied the vacancy I had before taken care to make when you went your excursion on the water. I am the person of whom you have sometimes caught a glimpse at a dis­tance, and who would never have ap­proached you nearer, had not my fears for you the evening of the storm thrown me off my guard, and induced me to conceal myself within a few yards of you, behind those piled up stones against which you leaned. Ah! I heard you sigh—I heard the name of Willoughby repeated with [Page 65] tenderness! but I bore it all! and nothing, believe me, nothing but your fall, your ap­parent danger, could have compelled me to break the vow I had made never to in­trude upon you—never to offend you with my unhappy passion!"

Celestina could not help being affected with the melancholy solemnity with which he uttered these words; but making an effort to prevent his perceiving it, she said—"It is absolutely necessary now that you again take up as much of so proper a resolution as relates to not speaking to me on a topic which to you must be useless, and to me painful; and while you persist in remaining here, let me at least owe it to your complaisance not to be distressed by declarations to which I cannot, ought not, will not listen."

Montague Thorold, then laying his hand on his heart, assured her that if she would allow him only to see her, indulge him only with being useful to her in her present remote and comfortless residence, [Page 66] he never would again name to her the pas­sion which he knew, he said, he must carry to the grave; and from that moment he kept his word; though Celestina saw, with more emotion perhaps than the warmest declarations could have given her, his painful struggles and continual contention with himself: but while her pity for him encreased, she studied more carefully to conceal from him that she felt any, and behaved with as much calm politeness as she could have done towards the most in­different man in the world.

To beguile the tedious moments during which they were compelled to wait the hoped for arrival of Cathcart, and while the sea that surrounded them was agitated continually by the wintry tempest, Celes­tina had recourse to the books with which poor Elphinstone, who, among all his faults and errors, was not without taste, had furnished a closet in the house. Mrs. Elphinstone, moved by the representations of Celestina to attend to her health for the [Page 67] sake of her children, whose sole dependance was now on her, consented by degrees to listen while Celestina read. Montague Thorold, whose residence was at the cot­tage of a highlander that boasted of hav­ing two rooms and a chimney, about a mile farther on the island, was sometimes ad­mitted to these parties; and as Celestina was soon fatigued, and as he read remark­ably well, Mrs. Elphinstone appeared pleased with his taking occasionally the office of their reader, and gradually he became accustomed to attend them every afternoon, and to read aloud to them till the hour of their simple supper.

Among the books in this little collection, there were several that Celestina recollected as the peculiar favourites of Willoughby; and the remembrance of those days when heread them to her, though never a mo­ment absent from her thoughts, were now most forcibly recalled by hearing them again repeated. Some pieces of poetry particularly affected her, from their simple [Page 68] pathos, and the manner in which Monta­gue Thorold read them; while they often drew tears from the unhappy Mrs. Elphin­stone, an effect at which Celestina rejoiced, as her grief was now settled into that still and sullen melancholy unsolicitous of con­solation and incapable of receiving it; which, while it produces a degree of appa­rent calmness, preys with fatal power on the heart.

Thus passed the heavy hours; till at length, after a fortnight longer delay than they had reckoned upon, letters were re­ceived from Cathcart: they contained in­telligence that old Winnington was dead, and Jessy in such a state of health as made it almost impossible for Cathcart to leave her. He therefore besouglit Celestina to accept the protection of Montague Tho­rold for herself, for Mrs. Elphinstone, and her children, and to hasten to his house, where he was now as able as happy to re­ceive them, as soon as was possible and safe. Mr. Thorold wrote also to Celestina, [Page 69] and expressed his hope that the wild eccen­tricity of his son, which had occasioned to him so much pain, might at least be of service to her, and entreated her to allow him to attend her and her unfortunate friend into Devonshire, where he assured her he would prevent her receiving any trouble from the importunities of Monta­gue, should he be weak enough to pre­sume too much on her favour. He wrote also to his son; but after the contents of that letter Celestina did not enquire, and Montague carefully concealed them.

It was now determined that the plan laid down by Cathcart and Mr. Thorold should be pursued. Montague undertook the arrangement of every thing, and with­in ten days they were ready to depart.

The weather alone seemed now likely to prevent their crossing the water. Mrs. Elphinstone, who had till now feared no­thing, being so apprehensive for her chil­dren, that every gust of wind, every swell of the sea, made her shrink back with dis­may, [Page 70] and postpone from day to day a little voyage which she yet earnestly wished over. It was the end of November, and very good weather could hardly be ex­pected. Dark and gloomy days, with storms of wind and rain, succeeded each other; and Celestina, whose thoughts had been of late called frequently from her own mournful contemplations to the acute dis­tresses of others, now relapsed again into that desponding state of mind which her long absence from Willoughby and his apparent neglect of her unavoidably threw her into. She had confined herself a good deal to the house since Montague Thorold had been so much with them, because there either Mrs. Elphinstone or the chil­dren were usually in the room, and she by that means avoided being alone with him; but now, as he was more engaged by the preparations for their departure, which he had undertaken to superintend, and in set­tling poor Elphinstone's accounts with his employers, Celestina again ventured out [Page 71] of an evening whenever she could escape unseen.

In one of these walks, along the edge of very steep rocks, where the scene presented only desolation: the dark and turbulent sea on one side, and on the other a suc­cession of mountains, which seemed to have been thrown upon each other in some tremendous convulsion of nature, she turned towards the yet more dreary North, and reflected on the condition of those whom the poet describes as ‘The last of men,’ the inhabitants of Siberia, of Lapland, and those extreme regions where ‘Life at last goes out.’

"Alas!" cried she, "if they have not our enjoyments, they suffer not from those sen­sibilities which embitter our days. Their short summer passes in laying up necessa­ries for their long winter; and with what their desolate region affords them they [Page 72] are content, because they know not that there are comforts and conveniencies be­yond what it affords them. Void of the wish and the power to observe other modes of life, they are content with their own, and though little superior in point of intellect to the animal from which they derive their support, yet they are happy, if not from the possession of good, at least from the absence of evil; from that sickness of the soul which we taste from deprivation and disappointment."

A deep sigh closed this short soliloquy; and after indulging a little longer this train of thought, it produced the follow­ing sonnet:

The shivering native, who by Tenglio's side
Beholds with fond regret the parting light
Sink far away, beneath the darkening tide,
And leave him to long months of dreary night,
Yet knows, that springing from the eastern wave,
The sun's glad beams shall re-illume his way,
And, from the snows, secur'd within his cave,
He waits in patient hope—returning day.
Not so the sufferer feels, who, o'er the waste
Of joyless life, is destin'd to deplore
Fond love forgotten, tender friendship past,
Which, once extinquish'd, can revive no more:
O'er the blank void he looks with hopeless pain;
For him those beams of heaven shall never shine again.

A few days after this, an interval of calm weather gave to Mrs. Elphinstone courage to determine on embarking: but the evening before that on which it was finally fixed that they should go, she told Celestina, with a solemnity of voice and manner that convinced her she was not to be diverted from her purpose, that she could not be satisfied to leave the island without visiting the spot where lay the re­mains [Page 74] of her husband. Celestina, without much hope of success, represented to her how wrong it was to yield, or rather to en­courage sorrow, unavailing to it's object, and injurious to those who were his living representatives, by depriving her of her calm­ness of mind when exertion was most neces­sary, and injuring her own health, now so par­ticularly precious to them. To these argu­ments her poor friend replied, with melan­choly composure, that she should suffer more in reflecting on her omission than she could do in fulfilling what she had persuaded her­self was a duty. Celestina therefore agreed to accompany her that evening. Monta­gue Thorold had already shewn her the place, and Mrs. Elphinstone desired to have no other witness to her sorrows, than the soft hearted and pitying friend, without whose generous sympathy she would pro­bably long before have sunk under them.

It was near two months since the death of Elphinstone, when this melancholy fare­wel visit was to be paid by his widow. A [Page 75] calm but sullen day, with an overclouded sky, threatening snow, was succeeded by a dark but mild evening. The distant sun had left a few lines of red light in the western horizon; and the moon, within a day or two of being at the full, edged with fainter rays the opposite clouds, through which it appeared not but at intervals. The unhappy widow, leaning on the arm of her tender friend, walked slowly and with languid steps, as she was guided to­wards the ruined chapel, and a universal pause of nature seemed to respect her sor­rows! Not a breath of air wandered among the channels of the hills, and the waterfalls murmured low and hollow at a distance; the sea was calm, and being low on the sands, was hardly heard; while the birds, and few animals who inhabited the land, were retired to their repose.

Around this little chapel, now more than half in ruins, a few rude stones were raised to the memory of the dead of former times. The grass and weeds concealed many, and [Page 76] on the rest no figures but those of crosses rudely cut were now visible. Elphinstone had been interred within the walls of the edifice itself; his widow desired her friend to enter it with her, to shew her the place, and to leave her.

As they approached the spot, the ground sounded hollow beneath their feet, and a mournful echo ran round the damp walls. The moon, darting for a moment through the ruined stone work of the dismantled window, shewed them a broken table that had once been the altar, on which some pieces of the gothic ornaments of the cha­pel, and several human bones, were scat­tered, and near it, the newly turned up earth, on which a few stones were loosely piled, discovered the grave of poor El­phinstone. Celestina could not trust her voice to point it out; but leading her friend to it, she immediately comprehended that there lay the remains of her husband, and fetching a deep sigh, she stopped at it.

[Page 77] "I had better not leave you surely," cried Celestina mournfully. "I cannot bear to leave you in this dreadful place."

"Pray oblige me," replied her friend; "it is the last indulgence I will ask, and I promise not to stay long."

"I will wait for you without then," re­plied Celestina; "and pray, dear Sophy, consider your children, and let it not be long that you indulge this sad propensity."

She then went out of the chapel; and seating herself on one of the ruined, monu­ments near it's entrance, yielded to all the gloomy thoughts which the place, the hour, and the occasion inspired. "Ah! who knows," cried she, "whether I too may not have reason to lament even as this poor mourner, whose groans tear my heart to pieces while I listen to them! I hear her! she implores forgiveness of the shade of her departed husband for all the involun­tary offences she committed against him: she, whose whole life has been one course of suffering, solicits forgiveness of him to [Page 78] whom those sufferings were owing: she forgets his faults towards her, and recol­lects only that he once loved her, that he was the husband of her youth, and that he is gone for ever; while she trembles for the future fate of him, whose errors she only remembers to recommend them to mercy! Dreadful then is the final separation even from those, of whom, though we have rea­son to complain, we have once loved: ah! what must it be when an eternal barrier is put between us and those whom we unre­servedly and passionately love. Willough­by! if I have regretted so deeply our se­paration, what would become of me should I ever hang over the grave where thy adored form moulders in the dust. Oh! God! grant that I never sustain a trial like that!"

Overwhelmed by these sad thoughts, and terrified at the encreasing darkness and fearful silence, which was broken only by the deep sighs of her unhappy friend pros­trate on the grave of her husband, she [Page 79] started up to recall her from her mournful employment, when Montague Thorold, breathless with haste and anxiety, ap­proached her; she was glad to recognize him, and took the hand he offered her; while he cried impatiently—"Wherefore is all this, my dear Madam, and where is your friend?"

Celestina led him to the place, shudder­ing as she approached, while Mrs. Elphin­stone, recovering herself by an effort of resolution, and having perhaps disburthened her oppressed heart and satisfied her mournful propensity, agreed immediately to go with them, and having turned once more her streaming eyes on the spot as she quitted the chapel, she suffered each of her friends to take an arm, and lead her home in silence; where Montague Thorold ad­vised her and Celestina to take immediately a few hours rest, as the tide would serve very early in the morning for their em­barkation in the vessel which now lay ready to receive them.


[Page 80] They followed his advice; and before day break on the twentieth of December, near seven months after their arrival in the Isle of Skie, they quitted it; and landing safely on the coast of Scotland, they pro­ceeded with very great fatigue, though fortunately without being intercepted by such heavy snows as they had at such a sea­son reason to apprehend, to Edinburgh, where it was necessary for them to rest some days before they proceeded on their long journey to the other extremity of Great Britain.


AS Mrs. Elphinstone was too much de­jected to allow her to go out, Celestina, who had great pleasure in visiting antiquities, and whose active mind was perpetually in search of new ideas, was compelled either to relin­quish these gratifications, or to permit Montague Thorold only to accompany her. He was generally so guarded in his conversation, that, though it was easy to see how much he suffered in suppressing his passion, Celestina had no reasonable ground of complaint. He found, how­ever, at Edinburgh, that it was particularly uneasy to her to visit the places she wished to see without some other companion, and recollecting that one of the professors was well known to his father, he made use of [Page 82] the claim that acquaintance gave him, and by that means Celestina received all the at­tention and hospitality for which the Scot­tish nation are so justly praised. The gen­tleman to whom she thus became known, had several daughters, amiable and ele­gant young women: with them she saw all that the capital of Scotland afforded wor­thy of observation; with them she visited the ruinous chapel and magnificently mournful apartments of Holyrood House, and gave a sigh to the fate of the lovely, luckless Mary, who was almost its last resi­dent sovereign. Then parting with her newly acquired friends with mutual regret, she proceeded on her road to England, nothing particular occurring on the way for some time except the slow but evident amendment of Mrs. Elphinstone's spirits, and the symptoms of encreased attachment in Montague Thorold; who, if he loved her before with an attachment fatal to his peace and subversive of his prospects, now seemed to idolize her with an ardour bor­dering [Page 83] on phrenzy. In despite of the resolu­tions she had avowed to him, in despite of those he had himself formed, this ar­dent and invincible passion was visible in every thing he said and did. He seemed to have forgotten that he had any other business in the world than to serve her, to listen to the enchantment of her voice, to watch every change of her countenance. His whole being was absorbed in that one sentiment; and though he had promised not to consider the advantages, which his own wild Quixotism, aided by accident, had thus obtained for him, as making the least alteration in the decided preference of Celestina for another, he insensibly for­got, at least at times, her unalterable affec­tion for Willoughby; and seeing, notwith­standing all her attempts to conceal it, that she pitied him, that she was not insensible of his attempts to please her nor blind to his powers of pleasing, he cherished, in defiance of reason and conviction (from which he fled as much as possible) the ex­travagant [Page 84] hope that the barrier, whatever it was, between her and Willoughby would be found invincible, and that the time, though it might yet be remote, would at length arrive when he should himself be allowed to aspire to her favour.

The human mind, however strong, yields too easily to these illusions, whence at least it enjoys the soft consolations of hope, and sees rays of light, which, though imaginary, perhaps are all we often have to carry us on with courage over the rugged way, too thickly sown with real, or, missing them, with imaginary and self-created evils.

It is therefore little to be wondered at, if Montague Thorold, so sanguine in tem­perament, of so little experience in life, (for he was yet hardly twenty two) and so much in love, should thus eagerly feed himself with hopes of its ultimate success, and be wilfully deaf to every argument which reason would have brought against the reality of the gay visions he cherished.

[Page 85] Celestina, pitying and esteeming him, was very anxious to reduce this unhappy and fruitless prepossession to the bounds of friendship and esteem, and though she at this time thought of Willoughby with so much internal anguish that she never on other occasions willingly named him, yet she now took occasion sometimes to speak of him, and purposely laid her train of con­versation in such a way with Mrs. Elphin­stone, as gave Montague Thorold to un­derstand that her sentiments in regard to him who had first possessed and still was master of her heart, could never suffer any material change, or be transferred to ano­ther, even though she was sure that she was personally divided from him for ever.

After some days travelling, which the lan­guor of Mrs. Elphinstone, and her extreme anxiety about her children, rendered tedious, the party arrived at York, and there it was determined to remain two days. Celestina, who had nobody to receive her at the end of her pilgrimage with peculiar delight, [Page 86] was not very eager to finish it; Mrs. El­phinstone, seeing nothing but poverty and dependence before her, of which her mind, being enfeebled by grief, was little able to bear a nearer prospect, was yet less anxious; and Montague Thorold cared not how long a journey lasted which gave him what he must at its termination lose, the happiness of being with, and of being useful to the mistress of his heart.

When they arrived at York, there was an appearance of snow; it fell with violence during the night, and by ten o'clock the next morning the north road was rendered impassable.

The travellers were well assured that in a day or two it would be sufficiently beat for them to proceed with safety, and as their original intention was to remain at least two days, the farther immaterial delay with which this circumstance threatened them, gave to none of them any concern.

The snow, however, continued to fall very heavily, and the cold became almost [Page 87] insupportably severe. The party were drawn round a good fire at the inn, and Mrs. Elphinstone had just put her children to bed, when an unusual clamour and bustle below attracted their attention. Horses were called for, and a loud voice was heard to say—"If four are not sufficient, my master will have fourteen rather than be stopped a moment."

"This is some matrimonial expedition," cried Montague Thorold, "or why all this haste?" The idea, which the ladies allowed to be probable, excited some de­gree of curiosity, and when the waiter soon after came in to lay the cloth for supper, Montague could not forbear enquiring if the horses which were a short time before so eagerly called for were not for the ac­commodation of a young couple hastening into Scotland. The man replied that the gentleman was going into Scotland, and had been stopped by the snow about seven miles off, the horses he had to his chaise being unable, to draw him; but that he [Page 88] understood he was quite alone, that horses and men had been sent to his assistance, and that he was expected there presently.

The man, who probably loved to hear himself talk, went on to inform them, though they now no longer felt any great degree of curiosity, that the gentleman's valet de chambre and one of the postillions, who had come forward, (who were warming themselves at the fire below before they re­turned back as they were ordered,) had de­clared that they were almost dead with cold; "but as for that, Sir," continued the waiter, "he says, that is, Sir, the wa­let de sham says, says he, my master if once he've got a scheme in his head, 'tis not cold, no nor water, nor fire neither, as will find it an easy matter to stop him, and then, says he, as. for fatigue to his own self, says he, or danger, or any thing of the like nature, or expence, though it cost him a hundred, aye or a thousand pounds, why my master, says he, minds it no more than nothing; 'tis all one to [Page 89] him; yet to be sure, says he, he is a good master in the main, and no sneaker, nei­ther in money, nor liquor, nor no other accommodation to servants."

"And pray," said Montague Thorold, "who is this courageous, bountiful, and accommodating gentleman?"

"I did not think to ask his name, Sir," replied the waiter, "but I can know in a minute." He then, without waiting for an answer, ran down stairs, and returning almost instantly, said that the gentleman was 'Squire Vavasour of Staffordshire.

"Vavasour!" cried Celestina in a faint voice, and turning as pale as death. "Good Heaven! to what purpose can Vavasour be travelling in such haste to­wards Scotland."

"Vavasour!" echoed Montague Tho­rold, his countenance betraying all that passed in his heart: "Vavasour! Ah! Miss De Mornay, it was to you he was undoubtedly going. Willoughby is re­turned, [Page 90] and sends his friend to reclaim his betrothed wife."

"Sends his friend! oh! no, no," an­swered Celestina with quickness, "that cannot be: were Willoughby returned, he would not send; rather it is some sad news he has to impart, and I must prepare my­self for it—I must bear it be it what it may."

The cruellest anxiety now took possession of both Celestina and Montague Thorold; they both dreaded an explanation, though unable to bear the suspense. Thorold went down to see what he could gather from the men; but Mr. Vavasour's servant was gone back to meet his master, and the postillion had only come with him from the last post town. Celestina in the mean time now traversed the room, now went to the window, and now appeared to at­tend to the conjectures Mrs. Elphinstone offered, that perhaps this journey might in no respect relate to her, but might be ow­ing to one of those sudden starts of caprice [Page 91] in which Vavasour was known to indulge himself.

This state of suspense and conjecture, which is of all others least easy to be borne, did not last long, for in about a quarter of an hour the carriage, in which Vavasour himself was, arrived.

Celestina now debated within herself whether she ought to send to him, to in­form him of her being on her way to Eng­land, or suffer him to proceed, whither she doubted not he was going, even to the Hebrides in search of her. This internal debate was however short: her extreme solicitude to have news of Willoughby su­perceded every other thought; and whe­ther Vavasour was going to Scotland to an­nounce her fate to her by the direction of Willoughby, or merely in consequence of some whim of his own, she knew that he in all probability could give her some in­telligence of him of whom she most wished to hear. Montague Thorold, who trem­bled least in consequence of this interview [Page 92] all the day dreams in which he had been indulging himself should be at once de­stroyed, would have represented to her some imaginary improprieties which his wish to find them raised in his mind.

Celestina, however, had, with all her can­dour and humility, a decisive spirit, the ef­fect of her great good sense, which, when she had once examined and determined on any subject, did not leave her open to the trifling perplexities of feeble and unim­portant debate. She considered, that even if Vavasour was going on some eccentric idea of his own to follow her into Scot­land, it would be cruel and unjust to suf­fer him to pursue such a journey at such a season, and therefore steadily resisting all the representations of Montague Thorold against it, she addressed to him the follow­ing note:

"Miss de Mornay presents her compli­ments to Mr. Vavasour, and having learned by accident that he is at this [Page 93] place, requests the favour of seeing him to-morrow morning to breakfast with Mrs. Elphinstone and with her at half past nine."

Montague Thorold, being unable wholly to prevent, thought he could at least im­pede the delivery of this note till the next day; but Celestina was too impatient to hear of Willoughby to be blind to the ar­tifice which Montague was too much in love to manage very dexterously, and therefore quitting the room herself, she found one of the waiters, who she enjoined to give the note to the gentleman who was just arrived, as soon as he had done supper.

This was not perhaps very discreet: but Celestina thought much at the moment of Willoughby, and very little of Vavasour, and in her anxiety to hear news of the one, she reflected not on the way in which it might be conveyed by the other, who, after a long and cold journey, having fi­nished his supper, was not likely at least to [Page 94] be a clear and calm messenger, and a mo­ment's reflection would have convinced her that he was not a man who from motives of delicate forbearance and polite deference would put off the interview to the time she had named.

No sooner was the note from Celestina delivered to Vavasour, than he ran up stairs with an impatience amounting al­most to phrenzy, his eyes flashing fire, and his countenance expressive of the violent emotions with which he was agitated; he hardly noticed Mrs. Elphinstone, but cast­ing a look of angry surprise at Montague Thorold, whom he immediately knew, he approached Celestina, took her hand, and eagerly kissing it, told her in a hurried manner that he was hastening to Scotland to give her intelligence of very great con­sequence, and to deliver her a packet from Willoughby.

"From Willoughby!" replied Celestina, so extremely affected by his abrupt entrance [Page 95] that she was ready to faint. "Is he well? is he returned to England?"

"No," replied he, without seeming sensible of the nature of her sufferings, "not returned to England, or likely to re­turn, but—"

"Is he married then?" said Celestina, interrupting him in a still more trembling voice.

"Not yet, but I have a letter for you which—"

"Give it me," cried she, hardly able to breathe. He had it not about him, but ringing for his servant, gave him the key of his portmanteau, and bidding him bring a large sealed packet, which he said he would find there, the man immediately re­turned with it; and Celestina, without speaking to Vavasour, hurried away with it in breathless agitation, Mrs. Elphinstone, alarmed at her looks, following her in si­lence.

All this time Montague Thorold had re­mained leaning against one of the piers: [Page 96] with contracted brows and clasped hands watching the countenance of Celestina, while his own changed from pale to red, from red again to pale. He had always returned the dislike which Vavasour had shewn towards him as much as his nature could return dislike; and this was en­creased by the abrupt and unfeeling man­ner in which Vavasour had executed a com­mission, that, whether it brought to her welcome or unwelcome tidings, demanded, he thought, more delicacy and more pre­paration. When Celestina and Mrs. El­phinstone were gone, he felt no inclination therefore to stay with Vavasour, who walked up and down the room as if ex­pecting their return; but was preparing to leave it, when, as he crossed to the door, Vavasour, turning short towards him, asked how he came to be at York with Miss De Mornay.

"How I came, Sir!" replied Monta­tague Thorold with equal abruptness. "Have you any right, Sir, to enquire?"

[Page 97] "Yes," replied Vavasour contemptu­ously, "I have a right."

"To enquire into my actions, Sir?" in­terrupted Thorold; "surely not!"

"To enquire into those of Miss De Mor­nay, Sir, I have a right."

"Well, Sir, if she allows of that right, to her you may then apply; but you will be so good as to leave me at liberty to be at York, or wherever else it is convenient to me to be."

"Not with her, Sir, you must not; not with Miss De Mornay, be assured. As for the rest, pray understand, that were it not for the circumstance of your being seen in company with her, I should never recollect that such a person was in the world as Mr. Montague Thorold."

Thorold, though naturally of a gentle disposition, was little disposed to bear the contemptuous arrogance of any man: he therefore answered with more quickness, that it was an honour he could well dis­pense with, to be thought of at all by such a [Page 98] man as Mr. Vavasour. The tone in which he spoke this, and the emphasis he laid on the words such a man, provoked the haughty and impetuous spirit of Vavasour; and words rose so high between them, that Mrs. Elphinstone, who was only in the next room, came in, and extremely terri­fied at their violence, besought them to separate. Vavasour, whose passions were at all times too strong to suffer him to lis­ten either to reason from others or to his own, gave very little attention to her re­monstrances; but Montague Thorold, on seeing her extreme uneasiness, and on hearing the name of Celestina, became in a moment apparently calm; and assuring Mrs. Elphinstone that she had no reason to be alarmed, he addressed himself coolly to Vavasour, and said, that if he had any business with him he would be at his ser­vice in the morning: he then besought Mrs. Elphinstone to return to Celestina; and taking her hand, led her out of the room, assuring her in a whisper that he [Page 99] would not return that evening to Vavasour, nor have any farther contention with him. "Make yourself easy, therefore, my dear Madam," said he, "and tell me—how is our lovely friend? what are the contents of a letter which required so extraordinary a messenger?"

Mrs. Elphinstone answered, that Celestina had appeared in great emotion while she read the beginning of the letter, and then telling her that she should finish it in her own room, had left her, in encreased agi­tation she thought, but without tears.

"And shall you see her no more to­night?" enquired Montague Thorold.

"I rather believe not," replied Mrs. Elphinstone.

"And do you think," said Thorold, "do you think, my dear Madam, that the agitation, the emotion you remarked, was the effect of joy, of grief—"

"Of grief, of disappointment, of regret, I think," answered she. "I believe Ce­lestina is now convinced that every proba­bility [Page 100] of her becoming the wife of Mr. Willoughby is at an end for ever."

"Then," cried Montague Thorold, unable to repress the violence of his feel­ings; "oh! then there will be hope for me!"

There was something like the transports of phrenzy in the manner in which he ut­tered this, and Mrs. Elphinstone was shocked at it. "Be not too sanguine, Mr. Montague," said she. "I do not believe that the affections of Miss De Mornay are to be easily or lightly transferred, but if they were, think of the powerful claims upon them that are using against your's."

"Claims! what claims?" cried he: "who shall dare to dispute with me an heart to which—"

"Nay, nay," answered Mrs. Elphin­stone, "this is all phrenzy and wildness. Do you not know that you have no claim, though I am willing to allow all your me­rit; and do you not see that Willoughby, in being compelled to resign her, recom­mends [Page 101] his friend Vavasour to her favour, and therefore sends him hither."

"Vavasour!" cried he: "recommend Vavasour to her! And would Celestina, who, with all that dignified gentleness, has a great deal of spirit, with a proper con­sciousness of her own value; would she bear to be consigned, like a bale of mer­chandise, to a friend, and to such a man as Vavasour? Impossible! he dare not think of it: but I wish he may, for her insulted pride will mitigate the pain of her disap­pointed love, and she will be mine—the charmer will be mine."

The look, the manner, in which this was uttered, encreased the concern of Mrs. Elphinstone, who, from her own recent and severe sufferings, had learned to dread any thing like romantic eccentricity. She laid her soft cold hand on the burning hands of Montague Thorold, as they were wildly clasped together—"My dear Sir," said she, in the gentlest accents, "I owe you a thousand obligations for all the atten­tion [Page 102] you shewed me in my late calamitous situation, and ill, very ill, should I repay those obligations, if I did not try as a friend to mitigate these violent transports. Believe me, the heart of Celestina, fixed in her early life to one object, is attached to that object with more than common firmness: Vavasour's frantic fondness, and your real merit, will, in my opinion, be equally indifferent to her; and I verily be­lieve, that if Willoughby marries another, as I conclude he will, Miss De Mornay will never marry at all."

Montague Thorold could not bear this. The idea of rivalry had been painful; but the pain was mitigated by his knowledge of her character and of the character of Vavasour, which, with all its avowed li­bertinism, he knew Celestina could not even tolerate, and certainly not approve: but the idea of her living only for Wil­loughby, even when Willoughby lived for another, was insupportable, and since he was unwilling to own it was possible, he [Page 103] would therefore have been ready to quarrel with any body but Mrs. Elphinstone for supposing it probable: but to every being who was unfortunate, and especially if that unfortunate being was a woman, the kind heart of Montague Thorold overflowed with good will and sympathy: he there­fore checked himself; and saying he should be impatient to hear of Miss De Mornay in the morning, he wished Mrs. Elphinstone a good night, and left her.


IT was not till after two or three read­ings, with a palpitating heart—a heart so much agitated as hardly to leave her the use of her reason, that Celestina perfectly understood the meaning of Willoughby's letter, which ran thus:

The only apology, dear Celestina, that the unhappy Willoughby has to offer for his conduct is, to relate to you all that has befallen him since that fatal night when he parted from you at Alvestone. The emotions which I must feel while I write, I will endeavour to suppress, both for your sake and my own; it shall be, if I can command myself, a history [Page 105] of events rather than of the sufferings to which those events have condemned me. You know, that after the abrupt and unaccountable note that I received, I hastened to the inn at Exeter, where I was informed some persons, who had business of the utmost importance which admitted not of a moment's delay, waited to see me. The terms in which the note was written were such as gave me a strange alarm, though I knew not what to dread. This uneasy astonish­ment was not lessened, when, after much appearance of mystery, I was introduced to—Lady Castlenorth.

You know the woman, and can ima­gine how ill her harshness, when irritated by the malignity of disappointed pride, was calculated to soften the blow which it was her pleasure to give me herself. She told me, that having heard I was on the following morning to become your husband, she felt it to be her duty to save me from the horrors of such a [Page 106] union, by informing me that she knew you to be the daughter of my mother, the daughter of that Mr. Everard who was my tutor, and that the woman she had with her, who had been a servant in the house at the time, could give the most indisputable account of your birth.

Stunned as by a stroke of thunder, I turned towards the woman, of whose face as a servant of my mother's I had not the least recollection. I know not what I said to her; I only remember that she gave, in a confused and vulgar way, an account of what she pretended to have been witness to. I suffered her to talk on, for my very soul was sink­ing with anguish. My mother's ho­nour destroyed! my Celestina torn from me! My soul recoiled from the idea as from an execrable falshood. Yet when I remembered the solemn injunction that beloved mother gave me in her last moments to marry Miss Fitz-Hay­man, the promise she drew from me ne­ver [Page 107] otherwise to unite myself—when my agonized mind ran back to the dis­pleasure she sometimes expressed at my fondness and admiration for you—I dared not, with all the pain and all the horror I felt, I dared not throw from me with indignation this odious intelligence; I dared not load the hateful communi­cators of it with the odium which would have been dictated by my swelling heart, had it not been checked by these sad recollections, which pressed upon me in despite of myself, and gave me some­thing like internal evidence of the facts I would very fain have denied.

There was, in the countenance of Lady Castlenorth, something of inso­lent triumph which I could not bear. She made a merit of her disinterested conduct, and talked of virtue, and ho­nour, and integrity, till I was blind and deaf: she then threw out some reflec­tions on my mother's memory, which roused me from the torpor of amaze­ment [Page 108] and sorrow to resentment; she ut­tered some malignant sarcasms against you, and I flew from her.

She had, however, completely exe­cuted her purpose, if it was that of ren­dering me the most wretched of human beings; and in quitting the house, which she did soon afterwards, had the barbarous pleasure of knowing that she had destroyed my peace for some time—if not for ever.

To return to you, Celestina, under the doubts which distracted me was impossible. To become your husband—so lately the fondest, the first wish of a heart that doated upon you, was not to be thought of, while ideas of so much horror obtruded themselves on my mind: yet to leave you without accounting for my absence, to leave you to all the tor­turing suspense of vague conjectures, to leave you to suppose I had deceived and forsaken you, was cruel, was un­pardonable: it was, however, what, [Page 109] after a long and dreadful struggle, I de­termined to do. I might, indeed, have put an end to your conjectures by deli­vering you over to others more tor­menting—by communicating the doubts Lady Castlenorth had raised; but this I found I could less bear to do than even to leave you wholly in suspense. Believing her capable of any thing which revenge or malice could dictate, there was reason, notwithstanding all my trembling apprehensions, to suppose it more than possible that she might have invented the story, and have bribed the woman with her to give evidence of it's truth. To this possibility my mind clung with the eagerness of a drowning wretch; and I could not resolve to sully before you the memory of my angel mother, which I know you hold in such tender veneration; I could not deter­mine to raise in your delicate and sensi­ble mind doubts and terrors which might make such fatal impressions as [Page 110] might impede our union, even if the fallacy of this invention to divide us was detected. In a state of mind then which I will not attempt to describe, I at length determined to send for Cath­cart, and without explaining even to him the motives of my sudden journey, to secure, if I could, your continuance at Alvestone, and to set out myself to discover the real circumstances of your birth; and never to return till I had the most thorough convinction that you were not the daughter of my mother, or till I could learn to consider you, if it were so—only as a beloved sister.

Ah! Celestina! I little knew the task I undertook; yet with anguish and de­pression, to which no words can do jus­tice, I set about it. My first step was, to find out Watson, my mother's old servant, who had never, I knew, left her for many years. I knew that after her death, and on receiving the legacy of fifty pounds that her mistress left her, [Page 111] she had retired to the house of her son, who was married and settled at White­haven. I might have written to have enquired after her; but then I must have waited some days in suspense I could not bear; and while I was in mo­tion I felt my misery less, from an idea that I was doing something to end it. I sat out therefore on horseback for Whitehaven, and on my arrival there learned that she had been dead about six weeks. This first hope of certainty thus frustrated, it occurred to me that perhaps among her papers there might be some memorandums that would be useful; and as she always hired and dis­charged the inferior servants, and kept an account of the time and terms of their service in a book, I flattered myself that I might find some date of the time when Hannah Biscoe, who pretended to have been in her confidence and to have been entrusted with a secret of such importance, really lived in the family.

[Page 112] I told her son, that to see all the pa­pers his mother had left, was of impor­tance to me. He readily brought all he had. There were some books of ac­counts, and some memorandums about servants, but none that gave me any light, or were of any importance to my enquiry, for none went back above ten years. The man told me there were more; but that not knowing they were of any consequence, or even supposing them likely to be called for, he had given them to his children, who had cut them to pieces. "I believe, however, Sir, said he, that there are some letters in a drawer of a bureau, which I re­member to have seen during my mo­ther's illness: I will fetch them if you think they will be of any service."

I desired him to do so, and he brought me about twenty letters: some of them were from my mother, while she was in London in the years 1779 and 1780, and Watson was at Alvestone with you [Page 113] and my sister, of whom she had, as you well remember, the care on all occasions where it was necessary for my mother to be absent. You were then about nine, and Matilda about eleven years old. The only sentences of any kind of con­sequence were these:

I have no notion of any real danger from the landing of troops from the fleets of France and Spain. No landing can take place; and 'tis all nonsense and bra­vado. I thought you had more sense, Watson, than to catch the panic of the vulgar and the ignorant, which they ra­ther like to communicate. However, since you write so pressingly to know what should be done if any thing should happen, I give you an answer, first, that nothing will happen; and secondly, if you have any alarm, which a reasonable being would consider such, take my two girls and bring them up hither instantly. But I shall be down at Alvestone in about [Page 114] ten days, and nothing can happen within that time believe me

My two girls, was the only sentence in this letter on which I could lay any stress. My two girls! Well, and what then? have I not heard my mother a thousand times say, my two girls? My Matilda, my Celestina, were names in­discriminately used: my children; even my daughters, were terms not unfre­quent with her. Ah! little, little did her generous and benevolent heart sup­pose that such advantage might be taken of that generosity—of that benevolence; for now—even now—no—I do not, I cannot, I will not believe that Celestina has any other claim to her friendship, to her protection, than what arose from that generosity and benevolence. Now, do I say?—can I say it? Oh heaven! how dreadfully contradictory are the sen­timents that agitate and tear my heart!

[Page 115] Let me, however, recall my scattered thoughts: and remember, that it is a simple history of facts only, and not of feelings, that I promised to relate.

Another letter was written to Watson, when Mr. Everard, after a very tedious illness, which had long confined him in town, went down to Alvestone in the year eighty, for change of air, rather than to his own parsonage, where some repairs were then going on. This letter was expressive of great solicitude and anxiety: but from thence what could be inferred? nothing but that the dear and benevolent writer was solicitous for the health of a friend to whom she had long been attached. There was not in this a word on which the most invidious ob­server could dwell; nor was there in any other letter a syllable to give me any confirmation of what I dreaded to find. Still I procured from the person who had succeeded to Watson's effects, every paper and every book that re­mained; [Page 116] but I found nothing; and re­turned to London as miserable, as dissa­tisfied as I left it.

Nothing made me more wretched than the questions with which I was now persecuted. I fled from society; stopped at a small village in the neighbourhood of London, where I avoided every body who was likely to know me, and thought only how I might satisfy my own tor­turing doubts, and escape those of others.

The most obvious method seemed to be, to find out the woman who had ac­companied Lady Castlenorth, and ques­tion her when she was no longer under the influence of her employer: but this I could not do without getting, at my uncle's house, information which I knew not how to set about. To go there, was hateful to me. I could not now bear the sight of people whom I had never loved, and to whom I imputed all the misery I laboured under.

[Page 117] My servant Farnham had been little used to those sort of negociations, and knew not much better than I did, how to ingratiate himself into the favour of the persons, through whose means only he could procure the intelligence so ne­cessary to us. He went, however, about it as well as he could; but all I learned was, that Lady Castlenorth had, soon after her journey into Devonshire, sent the woman who accompanied her away into her native country, which was ei­ther Norfolk or Suffolk, and with so much secrecy that nobody knew whi­ther she was gone, or how she was pro­vided for: but Farnham with some diffi­culty drew from the rest of the servants, with whom he found means of convers­ing, that she had boasted, in some mo­ments of vulgar exultation, that her fortune was made for ever.

No clue, however, could I obtain by which I could find out this woman; and after much fruitless enquiry, where the [Page 118] art of the adversary with whom I had to engage baffled all my assiduity, I de­termined to go to Lord Castlenorth, to state to him the stigma that his wife had thrown on the honour of my mother, his sister, and to demand that I might have proofs of the facts she alledged, such as she could now give, or that she might acknowledge the wickedness and injustice of her aspersions.

I was not aware, till I conversed with Lord Castlenorth, to how debilitated a state indolence, ignorance, pride, and prejudice, can reduce the human mind. His, however, was of so singular a cast, that instead of being shocked at the in­jury done to his sister's honour, he af­fected to resent, in spite of his family pride, my doubts of his wife's veracity, flew from the point to which I attempted to bring him, and we parted in mutual disgust: at least I was disgusted, and more wretched and more hopeless than before I had made this attempt.

[Page 119] Every effort to discover the retreat of the woman failing, my next measure was to go to the convent at Hieres. It was owing to these cruel circumstances, Celestina, that I left you in doubt while I remained in England; it was owing to these, that I left England in the hope—though it became every day more mingled with apprehension—that I left England without accounting to you for my conduct. Were these surmises groundless, why should I empoison your delicate mind? why should I sully for a moment the sacred fame of my mo­ther by divulging them? were they found to be at length too well substan­tiated, it would be then time enough to inform you of them.

On my arrival at Hieres, I went di­rectly to the present Confessor of the community out of whose care my mo­ther took you. I found him to be intel­ligent, obliging, and officious. From him I learned, that the present Superior [Page 120] was a young woman of good family, who had been compelled to take the veil, and who would probably have very few real scruples as to giving me all the in­formation she could.

I succeeded easily in my research, as far as it depended on these two persons. I found that the memorandum of my mother's having taken you out of the convent, by the name of Celestina de Mornay, remained; and I found, with emotions on which I must not dwell, that there was another memorandum of expences, for the little English child, received at the request of Madame de P—. Such is the literal sense of the French words. Who then was this Madame de P—? An old nun, who had lived in the house above five and twenty years, and who was the only person who recollected any circumstan­ces of your reception, told me that she well remembered that this Madame de P—came from Bayonne, or some [Page 121] part of the country in the neighbour­hood of that town; and that she was an intimate friend of the then Abbess, and her name, of which only the initials were expressed in the memorandum, was le Marquise de Pellatier.

I enquired of the old nun, if she knew on what ground it was you were represented as an English child? she replied, that she knew no more than that when first you were received under the care of the Superior, you were said to be the child of English parents, or at least that one of your parents was of that nation: but that soon afterwards this was, by the Abbess's authority, contra­dicted; it was forbidden to be men­tioned in the community; and it was ordered that you should from that time be spoken of as Mademoiselle de Mor­nay; while intimations were given that you were a relation of her own; born of a concealed marriage; and that your father being dead, and your mother [Page 122] married to another person, you were to be considered as belonging only to the community in which you were destined to pass your life.

Ah! Celestina! what food was here for those corrosive conjectures which preyed on my heart. Having exhausted however, every kind of information which it was here possible to procure, I set out for Bayonne; where some of the family at least of Madame de Pellatier were, I understood, to be found.

She had herself been dead some years. I met, however, with her son, a gay young man of four or five and twenty, from whom I could obtain nothing but a general confession that his mother probably had, from the general tenor of her life, occasion in more than one in­stance to exercise the secrecy and kind offices of her friends, and very probably obliged them in her turn: and when I explained to him my reasons for the anxious enquiries I made, which I [Page 123] thought the only means likely to interest him for me, he said that he was "vrai­ment au desespoir" at the little embarras into which I had fallen: that la belle demoiselle might be my sister or might be his; that he had not the least hope of being of service to me in unravelling the mystery, for he had destroyed all his mother's papers in pursuance of her dying directions some years before, and did not believe the slightest trace re­mained of any connection with an En­glish lady, or an English family. I en­quired where his mother lived in the years 1770 and 1771, which was about the time of your birth, and where in the year 1772, the time of your reception in the convent; he replied that she was then sometimes at Paris, where she was believed to have an arrangement with Count W—, a German nobleman, sometimes at Pezenas and sometimes at Hieres. From all this I could gather nothing to my purpose; and Monsieur [Page 124] de Pellatier soon quitting his house in the neighbourhood of Bayonne to go to Paris, I returned thither also, infinitely more unhappy than before my research.

All I have related, Celestina, is so lit­tle convincing when it is put together, that perhaps I ought not to lay any stress upon it, when to such slight and unsatis­factory ground of conjecture, is opposed the character and the principles of my mother: yet shall I tell you truly, that the energy with which she pressed me with her last words to marry Miss Fitz-Hayman; the displeasure she always shewed at my expressing any partiality towards you; her grief at the death of Mr. Everard, which it was easy to see she never recovered; some words which, though I could not clearly understand them, escaped her lips almost with her last sigh, and in which the name of Ce­lestina seemed united with some ardent prayer, or some earnest injunction, while, in her cold convulsed hand, she [Page 125] pressed mine to her trembling lips; oh! Celestina! those sounds I have since in­terpreted into a confession of this fatal secret. Still, still inarticulate as they were, they vibrate on my heart: and now, united with the story of Lady Cas­tlenorth, and the circumstances I have gathered of your being born of English parents—all, all unite to render me wretched.

Yet there is not the least likeness be­tween you and my mother; there is not the remotest resemblance between you and Mr. Everard, who had remarkably strong features and very red hair: oh! Celestina! what am I to conjecture? what am I to do? can I, ought I, on such grounds, to resign you? Can I ever learn to consider you only as my sister? Where shall I go next? how satisfy my doubts? how ever possess again a mo­ment's happiness? Every other evil is light to this. Even the disorder of my affairs, the necessity [Page 126] I shall soon be in to sell Alvestone, is hardly felt. On my leaving England, I raised money at an enormous premium in order to pay Vavasour what I could not bear to owe him, uncertain as I was what would become of me. This, to­gether with my absence; has alarmed some of my mortgagees, who talk of foreclosing their mortgages; while my own neglect of my affairs has, in despite of Cathcart's assiduity, contributed to my embarrassments. But what are these inferior distresses, compared to the wretchedness of a heart, adoring Celes­tina yet afraid of indulging his passion lest it lead him into guilt? Ah! every evil fortune could inflict but this, I could bear.

But again it is necessary to recall my pen from the description of feelings to the narrative of facts.

Lord and Lady Castlenorth and their daughetr arrived in the early part of the summer in France. I was then absent [Page 127] on the research I have related to you, but heard they had been very earnest in their enquiries after me at Paris; and on my return thither, some months after­wards, I received a letter from Lord Castlenorth, earnestly desiring me to join them at Florence or Naples. The letter imported that the alliance he once wished was no longer in question; but that finding his health every day de­clining, he wished to see the only male relation he had, on the settlement of some family concerns.

This invitation I ought not perhaps on other accounts to have refused; but the hope of being able to gain some far­ther intelligence of the circumstances which occupied my mind incessantly, determined me at once to accept it. I went then, and met them at Florence, where my uncle received me with as much overacted civility, as when we parted last he had treated me with super­cilious scorn.

[Page 128] I found him, however, not more rea­sonable than before : the prejudices that had taken possession of his mind were so strong that he was angry and amazed that what made the whole business of his life could be to any other person matters of mere indifference. He talked to me incessantly of remedies for the gout, of the medicines he was taking, and of their effects; told me how he slept and how he eat; and read disser­tations without end on chronic disorders in general; and from this discourse he glided by some link which escaped me, into his other favourite science, he­raldry. Oh! the quarterings and bear­ings which I was compelled to affect hearing; the genealogies I was dis­tracted with; and the marriages and in­termarriages to which I appeared to listen, while in fact I knew nothing of what he said, and only endured this sort of mar­tyrdom in the hope of seeing Lady Cas­tlenorth, [Page 129] who on my first visits did not deign to appear.

All these latter harangues were, I found, intended to impress on my mind the pride and prudence which would at­tend a union with my cousin, his daugh­ter, and the advantage it would give me above any other alliance I could form. My patient acquiescence was imputed to returning inclination for this boasted connection; and when I was thought to be sufficiently impressed with the ideas thus meant to be conveyed to me, and to be weaned from the weakness I had betrayed, I was admitted, without any solicitation however on my part, to the honour of seeing Lady Castlenorth and her daughter.

The elder lady was the only one of them with whom I wished to have any conversation, and her love of hearing herself talk obtained me this favour, in spite of all the displeasure she had con­ceived against me: but it was very dif­ficult [Page 130] to bring her to converse on that subject which alone interested me: she would talk politics, or give me a disser­tation on the nature of the soul, or on the eruptions of Vesuvius, descant on the age of the world, or on her own age,(if her auditors would allow her to be not quite five and forty:) but of Ce­lestina she would not talk; and if ever I, in spite of her evasions, introduced the conversation, she affected to hear me with horror, and to consider every men­tion I made of a person whom she called so connected with me, as the most inde­licate and improper conversation with which I could entertain her. She was for the most part surrounded, when I was admitted to her, with abbati, and the oracle of a circle she had herself formed, in which it was generally im­practicable to entertain her with any other conversation than that she chose to lead to.

[Page 131] Her daughter, who had formerly re­ceived me with so much haughtiness, and who had since been offended in the tenderest point, a point too in which her extreme vanity had rendered her particularly susceptible, affected no longer the overweening pride which in our first interviews had been so repul­sive, but a soft melancholy, which sits well enough on some people, but was in her more likely to move mirth than pity: she seldom spoke to me; but when she did, it was with the air of one whose just indignation was conquered by softer sentiments. I knew I never could deserve those sentiments from her, and therefore was very sorry to see them, even though certain they were feigned.

But it was here only I could hope to gain any information of the woman, Hannah Biscoe, who pretended to have lived with my mother near twenty years since. Lady Castlenorth evaded, with wonderful art, ever giving me any trace [Page 132] of this circumstance, and of her daugh­ter I knew it was in vain to enquire; but there was a little smart Italian girl, called Justina, who had attended on Miss Fitz-Hayman for some time, and who had been in England with her, and I took occasion, as often as I could see her, to say some obliging thing to her, and sometimes to make her a trifling present. Justina, in consequence of my taking so much notice of her, began officiously to put herself in my way; and I believe her vanity prompted her for some time to suppose I had very differ­ent motives for my attention than those with which I was really actuated.

But in a foreign woman of that rank even vanity usually yields to avarice. When I had obtained an opportunity of clearly explaining myself, Justina un­dertook to procure me a direction to the woman whom I was so solicitous to find. She produced it in about a week, but artfully evaded my question as to [Page 133] how she came by it. I sent off my own servant instantly with it, determined to follow him myself if the information as to her place of abode proved to be true. I received an account from him that a few days before his arrival at the house in Suffolk, where she was said to live, she had removed from thence, and the people either did not know or would not tell whither she was gone.

This seemed so like an artifice of Lady Castlenorth's to prevent my mak­ing the enquiry which she knew I had so long and so earnestly desired, that I could now no longer doubt but that Justina had betrayed me: but during this disquieting suspense time wore away, and you, Celestina—what did you, what could you think of me?

I entertained the strongest hopes, that since Lady Castlenorth so industriously kept me from the person she had herself produced as likely to give me authentic and indisputable testimony, that she knew [Page 143] her evidence would not bear investiga­tion, and to this hope I eagerly adhered. My mind, however, was too much irri­tated by the idea of such complicated treachery to allow me to keep terms with her as I had hitherto done: I was wandering about Italy all the time of Farnham's absence: on his rejoining me, I went back to the residence of Lord Castlenorth, and very peremptorily taxed his wife with fraud. I denied that Hannah Biscoe lived with my mo­ther at the period she pretended to have done so; and that least I should disco­ver the deception, that she had been sent away from the place where I had with difficulty discovered her.

Lady Castlenorth affected the calm indifference of injured innocence, the proud consciousness of ill treated inte­grity; she affected to declare that she was desirous of my seeing this Hannah Biscoe, that she knew not of her depar­ture from the place whither she went, [Page 135] which was the house of a brother in law, nor was in any way concerned about her; "but," added she, rising and going to a cabinet where she kept papers; "you shall presently be convinced that she did live with your mother in the year 1770."

She took out a letter, which I saw immediately to be my mother's hand. It was directed to Hannah Biscoe at Mrs. Willoughby's, South Audley-street, where my mother's town house then was. These were the words:


I desire you will immediately on re­ceipt of this go to Kensington, and deli­ver the enclosed to the person for whom it is directed, and let me know by the return of the post whether the orders I gave in a former letter were executed, and how everything goes on there.


I returned the letter to Lady Castle­north, and expressed myself very warmly; insisting upon it that from such evidence nothing could be derived or even guessed at: but she bade me, with a contemptuous smile, remember, that when I questioned this woman at Exe­ter she had told me, that you were for the first months of your life nursed at Kensington, whither she went almost every day to see you, and that at five or six months old you were sent abroad; and when my mother went to the South of France, on pretence of recovering her health, eighteen or twenty months after the death of my father, you were conveyed thither, and there put under the care of a friend, who placed you soon after with the Superior of the con­vent of St. Celestine, at Hieres, as a rela­tion of her own.

The coincidence of this story, with what I had heard before relative to Ma­dame Pellatier, struck me with more force [Page 137] than any thing I had yet learned. I left the house of Lord Castlenorth more miserable than I had ever been before, and again set out for Provence, hardly knowing why, and not caring at all what became of me.

Ever since that period, Celestina, I have been wandering from place to place in search of information which I cannot obtain, and, which obtained, would cer­tainly render me wretched, if indeed any wretchedness can be greater than that which in my present state of mi­serable uncertainty it is my lot to suffer.

Are we then, Celestina, are we related by blood? and is there an invincible bar between us? Was my mother, that admirable, that excellent, and almost faultless woman, capable of living in a state of continual dissimulation as to you, and of hiding one fault by another, which might have been followed by con­sequences so hideous to my imagina­tion? Oh! Celestina, it seems sacrilege [Page 138] to her memory to think it: yet her aversion to my expressions of tenderness towards you, her conduct in a hundred instances I can recollect, her strong in­junctions, the promise she extorted from me to marry Miss Fitz-Hayman—a pro­mise urged with such vehemence, even in her last moments! Could the poor consideration of pecuniary advantage in­fluence her then? did it ever influence her? And the repetition of your name with her last breath, mingled with words that might be a prayer for you, but which I have since thought was possibly the fatal secret which she determined to divulge only in death. The sad recol­lection of that scene, her countenance, which I continually behold, her voice, which murmurs still in my ears, all, all contribute to empoison every moment of my life, and to make that tender af­fection, that ardent love, which was once the joy of my existence and the [Page 139] pride of my heart, the severest curse with which heaven can pursue me.

Yes, Celestina, unless I dared in­dulge that fondness with which my heart overflows, I would I could forget you for ever, and determine never to see you more, for I despair of ever seeing you as I—Pardon me, I am lost in the confusion of sensations I cannot de­scribe; and at this moment I hope so miserable a being does not exist on this earth. Write to me, Celestina: you have more strength of mind than I have; you are not, like me, the sport of ago­nizing passions. Write to me; tell me what you would have me do farther to unveil this sad mystery, or to throw it from us for ever, if that may be. I have told Vavasour what it appeared impossible longer to conceal from him: he is warmly my friend, and you may employ him in any way in which you think he can be useful. Celestina, I com­mit you to his protection! till—till [Page 140] when, heaven only knows; and I dare not trust my pen with another word; only I entreat you to write to me; and may every happiness that virtue and in­nocence, and excellence like your's de­serves, ever be the portion of my Celes­tina, whatever becomes of the unhappy


Thus ended this long letter, and thus was explained the strange circumstances that had cost Celestina so many tears. But she wept not now: she read the letter over twice: her first tremulous emotion sub­sided; but her stunned senses had not re­covered their tone. It was late; it was cold; her candle had burnt nearly out. She put the letter on her pillow; and un­able to undress herself, threw herself on the bed in her cloaths, and lay pondering on what she had read, on Willoughby's situa­tion and her own, till the tedious night was at an end.


VAVASOUR, who had passed great part of his night over a bottle, was not, however, at all more disposed to sleep to­wards morning than if he had been in bed, but at half after seven o'clock he sent the housemaid to know if Miss De Mornay was up, and, if she was, directed the ser­vant to give his compliments to her, and let her know that he should take it as a fa­vour if she would allow him to speak to her for a few moments before her other friends were assembled.

Celestina had but just fallen into an un­quiet slumber, when she was awakened by the maid who tapped at the door, from an uneasy dream indeed, but from a change of uneasiness. With her returning me­mory, [Page 142] all the purport of Willoughby's let­ter returned; and Vavasour's message added most painfully, the recollection that she must discuss it all with him.

She ordered him to be told, that she was not very well, and could not immediately attend him: then shaking off the heavy lassitude which uneasiness and want of rest had occasioned, she called to her aid all that strength of mind and rectitude of heart with which she was eminently endowed by nature; and having again read over Wil­loughby's letter, began to consider what she ought to do.

With a doubt of such a nature on his mind, she resolved, whatever it cost her, never to meet him but as his sister; unless, which was very improbable, the strong and bewildering circumstances which had given rise to such an idea could all be removed. With so much purity did she love him, that she felt, that were he happy with ano­ther, and his esteem and tenderness for her undiminished, she could be content through [Page 143] life to find her felicity in witnessing his. She resolved, therefore, after much debate with herself and some pangs of unavoidable regret, that since this dark and unpassable barrier was raised, either by nature or by artifice, between her and the only man she had ever thought of with fond partiality, she would never marry, but would leave him at full liberty to compleat that union with Miss Fitz-Hayman, which might at once fulfil his engagement to his mother, wean him from that lingering fondness for her which it was folly if not guilt to indulge, and retrieve his pecuniary con­cerns from those embarrassments which were now hastening to overwhelm him.

Having formed this heroic and proper determination, she endeavoured to com­pose her countenance, to quiet the agita­tion of her mind, and to meet Vavasour with that degree of calm spirit which she imagined, from past experience of his be­haviour, such a meeting would require.

[Page 144] This, however, was easier to imagine than to execute. She wished indeed to meet him without witnesses, because she knew he possessed too little of that delicacy which would teach him, to repress any part of his knowledge before strangers, as Mrs. Elphinstone and Montague Thorold were to him: but when she opened the door of the room where she knew he waited for her, the blood forsook her cheeks, her trembling hands refused the little exertion necessary to turn the lock, her feet refused to carry her forward, and she would have returned without speaking to him for that time, if he, who was eagerly waiting her approach, had not heard her light foot steps in the passage, and opened the door while she yet stood hesitating at it.

He was struck by the fight of her swollen and heavy eyes, the languor of her air, and the paleness of her countenance; and his usual address, which had more of warmth and vivacity than elegance, was softened by the real concern of which he was at that [Page 145] moment sensible. He took her hand, which trembled within his as he led her to a feat—"I am sorry," said he, "to see that you are not well."

Celestina tried to speak, but could not. Vavasour had but an indifferent notion of administering consolation, nor could he contrive to condole with her for what he secretly rejoiced at himself; so that be­tween his dissembled concern and his un­dissembled satisfaction, he sat a moment or two silent; and then remarked, that the letter he had brought gave a very good ac­count of George's health.

Celestina, without having any very pre­cise idea of what she said, answered faintly, yes; and by this time Vavasour added, that it contained also, he supposed, like what he had at the sametime received, the history of a devilish awkward, mysterious business.

Celestina, who found herself unequal to the conversation, thought it better to put an end to it at once and for ever. She therefore, by an effort of resolution, com­manded [Page 146] voice enough to say—"Mr. Vava­sour, you understand undoubtedly that every idea of the alliance between your friend and me, is at an end for ever. As for the reasons that exist against it, a thou­sand motives make me wish they may re­main secret; from this moment, therefore, you will very much oblige me, by forbear­ing to speak of Mr. Willoughby otherwise than as my best friend, and by concealing from the world a secret, in which it can have no interest, but which will give pain to many to have divulged."

"Divulged!" cried he, laughing: "what then do you suppose it is any se­cret?"

"To be sure I do," she replied.

"Oh! yes," answered he, "that is mighty likely, when Lady Castlenorth has taken such pains to talk of it every where already."

"Lady Castlenorth!" cried Celestina; a faint blush rising in her pale cheek.

"Aye, to be sure," said Vavasour care­lessly, "that she did months ago. Why [Page 147] don't you know, that besides the interest she had in dividing you and Willoughby, be­cause her daughter is in love with him it seems, she always hated his mother; and that death itself is no barrier against ma­lice like her's."

"Do you think it probable or possible that this story may be entirely the effect of that malice."

"Why faith no. I own I do not. You know—at least people tell me so who do know, that it was whispered about a great many years ago, and even said, that Everard was privately married to Mrs. Willoughby. But what signifies talking about it," added he, "seeing her again change colour—"You have just been de­siring me to say nothing about it. George seems to me to have made up his mind about it: he will marry his cousin, and re­trieve his estates, as was his first plan; and my fair Celestina" (and he took her hand) "will look out for somebody else to trans­fer those affections to that he resigns."

[Page 148] "No, Sir," said Celestina, withdrawing her hand hastily from him, "they are not, I assure you, so easily transferred."

"I am glad to hear it," replied Vava­sour, without being at all discomposed by her manner; "for then I hope this pe­dantic young fellow, whom I find here travelling with you, will not have the pre­sumption to suppose he has any chance of obtaining them? Pray tell me—how comes he here with you? is he any rela­tion of the people you are with?"

This was a question it was impossible for Celestina to answer ingenuously. The piercing and enquiring eyes of Vavasour, inflamed and fierce from the late hours and free use of wine the preceding night, were fixed on her face. She changed counte­nance; felt that she did, and again her complexion altered. The various emo­tions with which she was agitated, con­sciousness that she must no longer think of Willoughby as a lover, yet could never admit another to that distinction, conscious­ness [Page 149] too that Montague Thorold must ap­pear in the eyes of the world to have suc­ceeded to that place, and anger that Vava­sour should thus presume on the confidence of Willoughby to question her with a free­dom he had otherwise no pretensions to, all combined to affect, to distress, and to de­prive her for a few moments of that pre­sence of mind, which, from the strength and clearness of her understanding, was usually at her command.

Vavasour, who, from the time he found Willoughby must in all probability resign her, made no doubt of succeeding to her affections; who had no idea of the sensa­tions which pressed on her heart, from his total inability to feel them himself; be­came irritated and impatient at the silence his own impetuosity had occasioned. He sat eagerly reading on her countenance the emotions of her heart, and interpreting them his own way: again he repeated his question—"How came young Thorold [Page 150] with you? Is he related to these Elphin­stone's?"

"You must enquire of him," Celestina was on the point of saying; but the fear least a quarrel between them should be the consequence of her so answering, checked her. She tried, therefore, to evade the question. "Of what concern is it," said she, "how he came hither. We were talking of Mr. Willoughby. Pray tell me—is he aware that our supposed relation­ship is talked of? Does he know the pains Lady Castlenorth has been at to circulate the story?"

"'Tis impossible for me to know that," said Vavasour, (as it really was;) "it is much more in your way to tell me, how this college boy came hither with you."

"I know no right you have to enquire about it," answered Celestina faintly, "be­cause I cannot see that it is a concern in which you are at all interested."

"You will give me leave then to make my own conclusions; or rather," added he, [Page 151] in a louder voice, on seeing Montague Thorold enter the room, "rather to inter­rogate the gentleman himself."

This was exactly what Celestina had been most solicitous to avoid; the impetuosity of Vavasour, the surprize and anger she saw flashing from the eyes of Thorold, her sleepless night and long agitated spirits, the fear of she knew not what consequences from these two inflammable spirits, and her inability to check or repress those over whom she had no pretence to assume any authority, were together a combination of cruel circumstances which might have overcome a stronger mind than her's. Mrs. Elphinstone was dejected from situa­tion, and languid from recent sorrow of her own: to her, therefore, Celestina would in any case reluctantly have applied; and now she could not leave the room to seek her without leaving together two men who seemed so highly irritated against each other that the first moment of her absence would probably bring them to extremities.

[Page 152] To speak to Vavasour, was to address the winds or the sea: she saw that he was hardly sober, that he was incapable of feel­ing for her distress, or of listening to any thing but his passionate impetuosity: it was on Thorold alone she had any hopes of prevailing; but in the moment of her de­liberation this hope seemed escaping her.

Before she could determine on what to do, Vavasour had, in a manner at once contemptuous and hasty, addressed himself to Montague Thorold, and enquired how it happened that he was at York attending on Mrs. Elphinstone and Miss De Mornay?

"How it happens, Sir?" said Thorold. "Is there then any thing so very extraor­dinary in it? May I not be at York or at Canterbury?"

"Yes," replied Vavasour, "when you are Archbishop of either; and then you will be, for aught I know, in your right place; but at present I think you in the wrong one."

[Page 153] "What you think, Sir," replied Tho­rold, "is the last thing that ever can be of any consequence to me; and if my ac­tions are, as I apprehend, of as little to you, I imagine we can, find some pleasanter topic than either the one or the other on which to entertain this lady."

He then approached Celestina, who was, he saw, ready to sink from her chair; and softening his voice, said—"You are ill I am afraid."

"No," replied she; "but I am alarmed and uneasy; and I beg of you," continued she, lowering her voice, "I beg of you to keep your temper, let Mr. Vavasour say what he will."

"I cannot promise that," said he in the same tone; "but I can promise never vo­luntarily to do or say any thing that shall give you a moment's pain. Do not be so distressed, I beseech you; let me find Mrs. Elphinstone. You tremble: you seem ready to faint."

[Page 154] "I am indeed," replied she, "affected from numberless causes. If you will be so good as to call Mrs. Elphinstone, I will be much obliged to you."

Thorold went immediately to obey her; and Vavasour approaching her, cried—"I see how it is; that young fellow is to con­sole you for the loss of Willoughby. Your partiality to him I always suspected, and am now too well convinced of it."

"Well, Sir," cried Celestina, assuming in some degree her usual spirit; "and ad­mitting it to be so, I do not really under­stand by what pretence you call me to an account for it."

"By my own long and ardent affection for you," cried he; "of which, however you may now chuse to affect ignorance, you cannot have been ignorant. I sacri­ficed it to Willoughby's prior claim, and to your visible attachment to him; but I am not humble enough to withdraw my pretensions in favour of such a raw boy as Montague Thorold."

[Page 155] "I am obliged to you, Sir," answered Celestina, "for the predilection you avow in my favour: though it cannot command my affection, it demands my sincerity; and I therefore assure you, that though I am now perhaps at liberty, I have no intention of engaging myself again. I shall hope to be allowed to consider both you and Mr. Thorold as my friends, while I absolutely decline any preference to either."

The pride of Vavasour was hurt ex­tremely by this speech. Though he was not personally vain, yet he had from his in­fancy been so accustomed to have his own way, that opposition from any quarter was new and insupportable to him. Mrs. El­phinstone and Thorold at this moment en­tering the room, he for once checked him­self; and breakfast being ready, he was in­vited to partake of it, which however he declined, but told Celestina, on retiring, that he must desire to see her again alone in an hour.

[Page 156] Celestina now attempted to repress the various emotions with which she was agi­tated, and to quiet the throbbings of her heart. She sat down to the table, and tried to eat, but could not; while Montague Thorold, watching with eager fondness every turn of her countenance, officiously tried to engage her to partake of the break­fast that was before her.

As soon as she could, however, she with­drew; and after a moment's pause alone, her scattered and oppressed senses were col­lected enough to bring before her all that had happened, and tears, which she had not hitherto been able to shed, came to her relief.

Her reason too, came to her assistance, and strengthened the resolution she had formed after her first perusal of Willough­by's letter. But though she was able to decide on what she ought to do herself, she saw many painful circumstances likely to be created by the violence of Vavasour, and the impossibility of prevailing either [Page 157] on him or on Montague Thorold to leave her and Mrs. Elphinstone to pursue their journey with the others; or, what she would still have preferred, of continuing it without the attendance of either.

When the mind is oppressed with any heavy affliction, the less serious evils which at other times it can repel or submit to, are felt with painful impatience. Mrs. Elphin­stone, drooping and depressed from her past sufferings and future apprehensions, could no longer interpose to check the impetuosity of two young men, each of whom thought himself at liberty to attend on Celestina: while Celestina herself, who never meant to encourage either, and whose heart was so recently wounded by the dread of having lost that protection on which she was wont with fondness to rely, was yet more unequal to the exertion which was necessary to part these men, who were de­termined to look upon each other as rivals, or to keep them within the bounds of ci­vility [Page 158] if they persisted in remaining toge­ther.

Anxious to proceed towards the house of Cathcart, and to put her children under the care of her brother, while she herself tried to enter on some mode of life by which to procure them a subsistence, Mrs. El­phinstone became impatient of any farther delay; while Celestina, though equally anxious to get forward, trembled at the thought of a journey, which she foresaw would produce a quarrel, and perhaps a duel, before they had proceeded three stages.

Sometimes she thought of leaving the whole party abruptly, and going on as speedily as possible alone: but besides her unwillingness to leave Mrs. Elphinstone, she foresaw that if she did, this Vavasour would follow and overtake her; and Tho­rold would hardly content himself with at­tending her friend, while certain that Va­vasour was with her. After much consider­ation, therefore, nothing seemed to remain, [Page 159] but to endeavour to prevail on Thorold to go forward without them; than which, no­thing seemed much more unlikely to suc­ceed, unless it was the same attempt on Vavasour. She felt, too, a reluctance in asking a favour of Thorold, which he might interpret as encouragement she never meant to give him; and was afraid that the assurances she must make him in regard to her total indifference towards Vavasour, might afford him reason to hope, that to­wards him she would be less inexorable.

It was necessary, however, immediately to make the essay; and therefore sending for Mr. Thorold, she with trembling hesi­tation told him, that the letters brought by Mr. Vavasour had been decisive in regard to ending the intended alliance between her and Mr. Willoughby. But she had hardly uttered the word Willoughby, before the countenance of Montague Thorold was animated with all the warm hopes to which this intelligence gave birth. She saw it with concern; and with as much resolu­tion [Page 160] as she could, besought him to attend to her, while with a faultering voice, and her tears with difficulty repressed, she went on—"That I shall now never be the wife of Willoughby is certain: but do not mis­understand me; I have determined never to be the wife of any other person. I shall go, for the rest of the winter, to Lady Horatia Howard, and afterwards retire to some village as remote as possible from that part of England where I once ex­pected to pass my life. This resolution is unalterable. But though I never can re­turn as you wish the favourable sentiments with which you have honoured me, my friendship, my gratitude, my esteem, it is in your power to secure and—"

"Friendship! gratitude! esteem!" cried Montague Thorold. "Can I be content with such cold words: I, who can never for an instant disengage my thoughts from you; I, who worship your very sha­dow, and who cannot bear the thoughts of quitting you even for a moment! Oh! [Page 161] Celestina! if ever the most pure and vio­lent love deserved a return—"

"Forgive me," cried Celestina, "if in my turn I interrupt you. Do you not mis­take your sentiments, or, by an abuse of terms, call a transient liking by that name which ought to belong only to that refined affection of the heart which leads us to pre­fer the happiness of another to our own, and to sacrifice every inferior consideration to the sublime pleasure of promoting that happiness."

"Heaven and earth!" cried Thorold impetuously, "and do I not feel that sen­timent in all its purity for you? Would I not lay down my life to procure you any real—almost any imaginary good."

"Prove it," interrupted Celestina, "prove it by obliging me in the request I am going to make: a request in which I must not be refused, and which, before I make it, you must absolutely promise to grant."

[Page 162] "I promise," returned Thorold, who had at that moment no idea whither her request tended, "I promise to obey you, even though you desired my death. If the sacrifice I make has any merit in your eyes, how cheaply would your approbation be purchased even by the loss of existence."

"All that is very absurd and very wild," replied Celestina. "What I ask you can easily do, and ought to do without reluc­tance."

"Name it," cried he, "and see how well I can obey you."

Celestina then told him, that Vavasour, fancying his friendship with Mr. Willough­by gave him a right to attend her, meant, she feared, to go on with her and Mrs. El­phinstone to London; "And from the dialogues which have twice passed between you and him," added she, "there is rea­son to apprehend that your continuing to­gether may be attended with very unplea­sant consequences: neither Mrs. Elphin­stone or I have courage to encounter the [Page 163] sort of contention which may arise between you: and to avoid the hazard of it, allow us to thank you for all the trouble you have taken for us, and now to bid you adieu till we meet again in Devonshire."

Montague Thorold, who from the mo­ment he understood her had listened with impatience, now protested that the promise he had just given could not be binding in an instance that must be as injurious to his honour as cruel, to his feelings. "Why should you suffer this Mr. Vavasour," said he, "to force himself upon you, while you drive me from you? What is this chi­merical claim that he derives from Wil­loughby, who has resigned his own; and how poor and spiritless must I appear, who having been permitted that of seeing you thus far on your journey, consent to resign to another the honour of attending you to the end of it: to another, who as­sumes a right no better founded than my own; and to whom I am to give place for no other reason but because he rudely [Page 164] demands it. You would despise me, Ma­dam, and I should deserve to be despised, were I capable of so mean a desertion."

This was exactly what Celestina feared; but persisting in her resolution to escape the alarm to which she must be subject from Vavasour and Montague Thorold's being together during the journey, she told the latter very calmly, that unless he consented to oblige her, and to go forward under pre­tence of being obliged to return home, that their acquaintance must here end for ever.

Even against this, fear, his reluctante to yield, or to appear, to yield the right of at­tending her to Vavasour, awhile supported him. The dread, too, leaft Vavasour should now succeed for himself, and that he should see those hopes destroyed for ever which he so fondly cherished since Willoughby was out of the question, made him resist still more forcibly the injunctions Celestina desired to lay upon him. At length, his fear of offending her, his real [Page 165] love for her, and the sight of her uneasiness; her assurances that Vavasour never would have any particular interest in her favour, (though at the same time she bade him un­derstand that he had himself no better claim,) and his wish to shew her how much he preferred her satisfaction to his own, prevailed upon him to sacrifice his pride and his fears to her entreaties; and making himself acquainted with the place where she was to be with Mrs. Elphinstone in London, where he obtained permission to attend her as soon as she arrived, Monta­gue Thorold, though still reluctantly and with great compulsion on himself, departed alone, and on post horses pursued his way to London.

Having thus prevailed on Thorold to depart, Celestina again sat down to recol­lect her fatigued spirits. She had some hours before determined to write to Lady Horatia Howard, and accept of the invi­tation so repeatedly offered her, as soon as she saw Mrs. Elphinstone safe in the pro­tection [Page 166] and assistance of Cathcart, who was to meet them in London.

This letter, therefore, she wrote, and forwarded; and as neither the weather or any other circumstance was now likely to render their progress hazardous, Mrs. El­phinstone agreed that they would set out at a very early hour the next morning.

The day, however, was of necessity to be ended where they were; and it was very certain that Vavasour would pass it with them. He had ordered for them every thing they were likely to have occa­sion for, in a stile infinitely superior to what they would themselves have thought of; and when they met at dinner, he re­ceived them as his guests, and when his natural vivacity was heightened by that sort of triumph that he felt on finding that Thorold was gone, his exulting spirits were such as to be cruelly oppressive both to Mrs. Elphinstone and Celestina.

Incapable of entering into their feelings, he had no idea of repressing his own. He [Page 167] fancied there no longer existed any obstacle to his project in regard to Celestina; and as that project had long been the first of his heart, and had become doubly impor­tant from the opposition it had met with, he concealed no part of the pleasure he felt at what he fancied the absolute certainty of its immediate accomplishment.

This was conduct that was insupportably distressing to Celestina. He spoke without scruple of the resignation Willoughby had made of her hand, and seemed to have as little delicacy as to the occasion of it. Of an attachment to him, abstracted from every idea of becoming his wife, Vavasour had no idea; and Celestina had no courage to urge it; so entirely did his want of feel­ing, and the proud certainty he shewed of his own success, overwhelm her. All she could do was, to entreat Mrs. Elphinstone not to leave her with him, and to assist her as much as possible in attempting at least to check that assuming manner, for which neither her former friendship for Vavasour, [Page 168] nor the regard Willoughby had for him, could, in her opinion, offer any apology.

Fortunately, however, for both her and her friend, two young men of fortune, much acquainted with Vavasour, arrived at the inn early in the evening, and seeing his servants, enquired for him, and were shewn into the room almost as soon as din­ner was over. Celestina and her friend took the earliest opportunity to withdraw; and Vavasour's attention to his guests over their wine, delivered them for the rest of the evening from his company.

He had taken care, however, to inform himself of all that related to their journey the next day. But eager as he was to have Celestina in the chaise with him, he was compelled to desist from the request he at first ventured to make, on her representing the impossibility of her leaving Mrs. El­phinstone; to whom, though Vavasour heartily wished her once more in the He­brides, he had at length the complaisance to offer his place in his own chaise, as being [Page 169] more commodious than the hired ones to be found on the road; and agreed, on her acquiescence in that arrangement, to fol­low himself in a hack chaise with his ser­vant.

The gentlemen who had passed the even­ing with him at the inn, were not less fond of the pleasures of the table than he was himself; and their orgies had been pro­longed till it was no longer worth while for him to go to bed. With a very little al­teration of his dress therefore, and with a great deal of wine still in his head, he was ready in the morning to set out: but such was his appearance, and such his manners in consequence of his debauch the pre­ceding evening, that Celestina was more than ever solicitous to avoid him; and had it been possible for her to have thought of him before with the slightest degree of par­tiality, his looks and his conversation of this morning would have filled her with ter­ror and disgust.

[Page 170] As she travelled on, however, by the side of her dejected friend, who had no spirits for conversation, she could not, amid all the reflection on her own circumstances, which filled her mind, avoid considering, with, melancholy regret, the situation of this young man, who, with some talents and many virtues, was thus yielding to the wild current of passion and vice, and de­stroying his constitution and his fortune before he knew the value of either. She then with mournful recollection contrasted his character with that of Willoughby, who had once all his vivacity, tempered with so much sweetness, so much attention to the feelings of others; who had all his generosity of spirit and openness of heart, without any of his careless dissipation; and whose brighter talents were not obscured by vice, nor degraded by folly; and as all his virtues, all his amiable qualities were enu­merated, her heart felt all the acuteness of sorrow, in remembering too that under their influence she had lost the hope of [Page 171] passing her life: yet the cruel pain of the reflection that these hopes were now at an end, was immediately mitigated, when she considered, that this she might perhaps still do, as his sister and his friend; but her reason, however it began to recover its tone, could never say any thing to her that for a moment taught her to reflect with pleasure, or even with tranquillity, on the thoughts of his being united to Miss Fitz­Hayman.

On reperusing Willoughby's letter, which she had now acquired courage to study more minutely, she saw with new uneasi­ness, what in the first tumult of her spirits had escaped her, or at least made but a slight impression—that he recommended her particularly to the care and protection of Vavasour; and that, as he had probably intimated the same trust to Vavasour him­self, she should find it very difficult to dis­engage herself from his attendance.

The longer she dwelt on Willoughby's expressions, the more she apprehended he [Page 172] was but too well convinced that the whole story of their relationship did not originate with Lady Castlenorth. She foresaw, that while even the shadow of a doubt remained, their union never ought to be thought of: but having nobody with whom she could properly discuss the various and contradic­tory ideas on this bewildering subject that passed through her mind, she looked forward with earnest impatience to the hour when she should receive the maternal counsel and soothing consolation which Lady Horatia Howard alone was likely to afford her.

The journey, however, was to be per­formed; and though she carefully avoided, during the two days that it lasted, being alone with Vavasour, yet she suffered ex­treme pain from the encreasing conviction that he presumed on Willoughby's total resignation of her, and openly declared that he thought himself a candidate for her favour, whose fortune and pretensions of every kind rendered him secure of success.

[Page 173] At length the party reached London, and Cathcart received his sister and her friend at the lodgings he had prepared, for them on being informed of the time of their arrival.

The meeting between him and Mrs. El­phinstone was too affecting to the already depressed spirits of Celestina. She retired early to her own room, having with diffi­culty prevailed on Vavasour to quit her, and there endeavoured to acquire steadiness to talk over with Cathcart, the next morn­ing, the purport of Willoughby's letter; and then to take leave of him and her poor dejected friend, as Lady Horatia Howard had received with avidity the information of her intended visit to her, and was to send her coach for her at one o'clock on the following day.


THE morning at length arrived, and the friends who had so long found all the consolation their circumstances admitted of in being together, were now to part; un­certain when, or if ever, they were to meet again. Mrs. Elphinstone, sinking as she was under oppression of many present for­rows and future apprehensions, yet found them all deepened by the loss of Celestina, who had so generously assisted her in sup­porting them: and Celestina felt, that when to soothe the spirits and strengthen the resolution of her friend was no longer her immediate task, she should dwell with more painful and more steady solicitude on her own singular and unfortunate situation.

[Page 175] Cathcart, warmly attached as he was to both, from gratitude and from affection, had no power to speak comfort to either. Early in the morning he had met Celestina, and gone through Willoughby's letter: but though his mind sometimes strongly resisted the idea of that relationship of which it spoke, he had nothing to offer against it; and could only sigh over the incurable unhappiness with which he saw the future days of friends he so much loved would be clouded.

Silently they all assembled round the breakfast table; but nobody could eat. Cathcart tried to talk of Jessy, of his house, of his farm, of his fortunate prospects, and of his sister's two little girls, whom he had taken home; but there was not one topic on which he could speak that did not re­mind him of the obligations he owed to Celestina and Willoughby, nor one idea which arose unembittered with the reflec­tion, that they, to whom he was indebted [Page 176] for all his happiness, were themselves mi­serable.

About twelve o'clock Vavasour came into the room in his usual way; enquired eagerly of Celestina when she went to Lady Hora­tia Howard's, and when he could see her there; and without waiting for an answer to his enquiry, told her that he had that morning met Sir Philip Molyneux, and that Lady Molyneux had been in town about a week. Every body who were re­lated to Willoughby was interesting to Ce­lestina; and from Lady Molyneux she had always supposed more might be collected than from any other person: but now her mind was too much oppressed and too much confused to allow her to distinguish her sensations, or to arrange any settled plan for her future conduct towards Lady Molyneux. She received Vavasour's in­formation, therefore, with coldness; and indeed her manners towards him were very constrained and distant, which he either did not or would not notice; rattling on in [Page 177] his usual wild way, though he saw the de­jection and concern of the party; a circum­stance that more than ever disgusted Ce­lestina, who began some time before to doubt whether the credit which Vavasour had for good nature was not given him on very slender foundations: for to be so en­tirely occupied by his own pleasures and pursuits as to be incapable of the least sym­pathy towards others, to be unable or un­willing to check for one moment his viva­city in compliment to their despondence, seemed to Celestina such a want of sensi­bility, as gave her a very indifferent opinion of his heart.

Mrs. Elphinstone quitted the room to make the last preparations for her departure: but Cathcart, who had fettled every thing before, remained with Celestina and Vava­sour. He would have given the world to have passed these moments in conversation with her; but the presence of a third per­son, and especially of Vavasour, put an end to all hope he had of an opportunity of [Page 178] explaining to her, with that tenderness and caution which the subject required, some circumstances relative to Willoughby's for­tune, which had lately come to his know­ledge. New embarrassments seemed threat­ening him; and a law suit, involving part of the property which belonged to Alves­tone estate, seemed likely to encrease these embarrassments; while the mortgagees were gradually undermining the estate it­self; and the absence of the master en­creased the impatience and mistrust of those who had claims upon it.

All this, Cathcart thought Celestina ought to know; yet in their first interview that morning he had not courage to tell her of it, and now Vavasour left him no chance of doing it; for while he yet deli­berated, the coach sent by Lady Horatia Howard stopped at the door, and the mo­ment was come in which he was to take his leave of her.

He took her hand, and kissed it with an air of grateful respect; but he could only [Page 179] say—"I shall write to you in a few days, and, I hope, give you a good account of my sister and of Jessy."

"I hope you will," returned Celestina faintly.

"And," added he, "you will of course like to hear of all that passes material in our neighbourhood?"

"Certainly I shall," replied she. "Adieu, dear Sir. I cannot say much, but you know what I feel for you all."

Vavasour had taken her hand to lead her down stairs; but she disengaged it from him, and said to Cathcart, as she gave it to him—"Let us go to your sister." He led her to the door of the room; where at that moment Mrs. Elphinstone entered, pale and breathless: her eyes were heavy, and fixed on Celestina, but she did not weep. Celestina's tears, however, were more ready, and, as she embraced her friend, they choaked the trembling adieu she would have uttered, and fell in showers on her bosom. The emotion was too pain­ful; [Page 180] and Cathcart, desiring to end it for both their sakes, disengaged his sister gently from the arms of the trembling Ce­lestina, while Vavasour, again seizing her hand, hurried her down stairs, and as he put her into the coach, told her he should call upon her the next day. She would have besought him not to do it, as a liberty he ought not to take in the house whither she was going; but before she could suffi­ciently recover herself to find words, the coach was driven away, and in a few mo­ments she found herself at the door of Lady Horatia Howard, in Park-street, Grosvenor­square, and it became necessary for her to collect her spirits, to acquit herself as so much kind attention deserved.

Lady Horatia received her with un­feigned pleasure, and with a degree of ma­ternal kindness that set her almost imme­diately at ease with herself. She was put into possession of her apartment, and bade to remember that it was her's as long as she would occupy it, and that her time was al­ways [Page 181] ways to be her own. "I am going out," said Lady Horatia, "to dinner to-day. I have a great notion you had rather dine at home?" Celestina owned she had. "Be it so then," replied she: "and whenever you prefer being at home to going with me, I shall be pleased at your using that freedom, without which such a situation as I am able to offer you would be not only of no value but a species of slavery." While she said this in the kindest manner, Celes­tina observed that she looked very earnestly at her eyes, which were red with weeping; and examined, with a kind of mournful enquiry, her features, which bore traces of the concern she had felt in parting from her friends; and having thus examined her countenance some time, her own, which was remarkably expressive, assumed a look of surprise tempered with concern; and then, as if she checked herself, she rang for her woman to receive orders about Ce­lestina's dinner, and while they remained [Page 182] together, she gave the conversation a more general turn.

When Celestina was alone, she ran over in her thoughts the transactions of the last month, and wondered what Fate would do with her next. But not of herself alone she thought: Willoughby, unhappy and unsettled; his mind thrown from its ba­lance by disappointment; his talents lost in the bewildering uneasiness of uncer­tainty, and his temper injured by the cor­rosive anxieties of pecuniary inconvenience; he, who had such a mind, such a heart, such talents, such a temper; who deserved every happiness, and yet had hitherto known none; Willoughby, wandering about the world to obtain confirmation of a fact, which, when known, would only complete his misery; was an object from which the thoughts of Celestina could ne­ver a moment escape: and a thousand times she wished she had never been born, since to her, to whomsoever she owed her [Page 183] birth, Willoughby certainly owed his un­happiness.

It was time to consider of obeying the injunction he gave her, towards the close of his letter, to write to him; but on this subject she determined to consult Lady Horatia Howard, as well as to ask her ad­vice in what way she should act in regard to Vavasour, whose importunities she dreaded, yet from whose visits she knew not how to disengage herself.

Under such protection, however, she knew that much of the inconvenience she must in other circumstances feel from Va­vasour's behaviour would be obviated; and that the sense as well as the situation of Lady Horatia would prevent that improper familiarity which, when she was only with Cathcart or Mrs. Elphinstone, whom he looked upon as inferior and as dependent, it was too much his nature to assume.

With more complacency, she thought of Montague Thorold, and always of his father with a degree of affectionate reve­rence. [Page 184] As to the young man, though her heart never admitted, in regard to him, the slightest tendency towards that sort of par­tiality which could ever grow into love, yet she had received so many marks of real and ardent attachment from him, she thought so well of his talents, and so much better of his heart, that she could never divest herself of solicitude for his welfare. Per­haps—for in what heart, however pure, does not some such weakness lurk—perhaps, the stories she had heard of his former uni­versal propensity to form attachments, and which were intended to prejudice her against him, had an influence on her mind of which she was herself unconscious, and that her self-love, though no human being ever appeared to have less, was gratified by having thus fixed a man so volatile and un­steady, though she never could, nor ever had given him reason to suppose she could, return the passion she had thus inspired.

While there remained any hope of ever seeing Willoughby such as he had once [Page 185] been, she had felt an utter repugnance to suffer the assiduities of Montague Thorold; but Willoughby's apparent neglect of her for some time before she left the Isle of Skie, and the little probability there now was that they could ever meet in peace, since the receipt of his letter, had gra­dually and almost insensibly accustomed her to the attentions of Montague Tho­rold: and though she felt for him no­thing like love, she could not help being sensible of a great difference in her senti­ments towards him and towards Vavasour. One seemed to live only to obey and oblige her; the other, presuming on the advan­tages of fortune, or on those which Wil­loughby's friendship gave him, appeared rather to demand than to solicit her re­gard—rather to resent her neglect of his suit, than court as a favour her acceptance of it: and if Celestina had any fault, it was a sort of latent pride, the child of con­scious worth and elevated understanding; which, though she was certainly obscurely, and possibly dishonourably born, she never [Page 186] could subdue, and, perhaps, never se­riously tried to subdue it. She felt, that in point of intellect she was superior to almost every body she conversed with; she could not look in the glass without seeing the re­flection of a form, worthy of so fair an in­habitant as an enlightened human soul; and could she have been blind to these advantages, the preference Willoughby had given her so early in life would have taught her all their value.

It is not the consciousness of worth that is offensive and disgusting, but the tribute of respect that is demanded of others who have perhaps no such conviction, and of whom it is therefore unreasonable and ar­rogant to expect that they will acknowledge what they cannot perceive. Nobody was ever yet eminently handsome in person, or eminently brilliant in intellect, who did not feel from self evidence that they pos­sessed those advantages; though many, from the infirmity and weakness of their tem­pers, [Page 187] fancy they exist where none but them­selves can find any shadow of them.

Good sense, one prominent feature of which is a due attention to the opinion and to the self love of the rest of the world, will rarely suffer those who possess it to ob­trude even real advantages on the notice of others; and without good sense, little distinction appears between the real bloom of youth and beauty and the factitious charms purchased at a persumer's: both are, if not equally disgusting, equally de­void of all that can make them estimable or valuable. Of this good sense, Celestina possessed such a share, that conscious as she was of that superiority of which she was continually told, no village girl had ever more unaffected simplicity of manners; and while her mind was irradiated by more than common genius, and her knowledge very extensive for her time of life, she was in company as silent, and as attentive to the opinion of others, as if she had possessed only a plain and common understanding, [Page 188] with no other cultivation than what a com­mon boarding school education afforded.

Her pride, therefore, so moderated, was rather a virtue than a blemish, and taught her to value herself, but never to despise the rest of the world.

There was about her, too, much of that disposition which the French call ameneté: a disposition to please by seeming inte­rested for others; by entering into their joys and sorrows, and by a thousand little nameless kindnesses, which though they consisted perhaps only in attending pa­tiently to a tale of sorrow, told by a mourner of whom the world was tired or who was tired of the world, or listening with concern to the history of pain and con­finement related by the valetudinarian, smiling at the fond enthusiasm of a mother when she described the wit or beauty of a darling child, or admiring the plans which an improver had laid down for the altera­tion of his grounds, were all so many testi­monies of a good disposition, in the opi­nion [Page 189] of those towards whom these little ci­vilities were exerted, that Celestina had formerly had almost as many friends as ac­quaintance wherever she appeared. In the circle where she was now to move, more splendid even than that where Mrs. Willoughby's kindness had placed her, it was probable that under such introduction as that of Lady Horatia Howard, all the charms of her person, talents, and temper, would be seen to the utmost advantage.

Unaccustomed as Vavasour was to look far into consequences, he had discerned this as soon as he heard of the invitation Celestina had received; and he foresaw so many impediments to the pursuit of his wishes, as well from the severity and pru­dery which he had heard imputed to Lady Horatia, as from the interference of rivals, that he would very gladly have persuaded her against accepting it, had he had any pretence to offer for his objections: but having none, and not daring to invent any, he had confined himself to mutterings [Page 190] against prudish old cats, and representing to Celestina that, she was going to confine herself as an humble companion to bear all the caprices of a superannuated woman of quality. Celestina heard him at first with concern, from an idea that he had heard Lady Horatia misrepresented; but when, on his afterwards repeating this conversa­tion, she found that he knew nothing of her character even from report, and only described her in so unpleasant a light from his wish to deter Celestina from finding an asylum in her house, anger conquered her concern, and even her complaisance, and she besought him in very strong terms ne­ver again to name Lady Horatia Howard to her, unless he could prevail upon him­self to remember that she deserved, from her character rather than her rank, the re­spect of every man, and particularly of every gentleman.

Vavafour had desisted then from talking of her in this style; but he was not at all more reconciled to the abode Celestina [Page 191] had chosen; where, if he was admitted to see her at all, it would probably be only in the presence of those who would be little affected with his professions of that love which every day became a greater torment to him, and little dazzled by that fortune which he had to offer as the price of its re­turn.

Celestina, however, to whom he had repeatedly said that he would visit her, thought she could not too soon apprize Lady Horatia of her situation; and the first hour they were alone together, Lady Hora­tia expressed such a desire to know all that had passed in regard to Willoughby, since she saw her on her journey into Scotland, that Celestina, without hesitation, but not without great emotion, related it all, and put into her hands the letters received from Willoughby.

Lady Horatia read them, and attended with great interest to what Celestina related of the sudden appearance of Montague Thorold and the avowed pretensions of [Page 192] Vavasour; and after deliberating some time, she smiled, yet not with a smile of pleasure, and said—"It appears, my love, as if you were only come to tantalize me for a moment with your company; for be­set as you are by these young men, I see I shall never be able to keep you long."

"Ah! Madam!" replied Celestina, "neither Mr. Vavasour nor Mr. Thorold can excite a wish in me to quit your protec­tion while it is convenient to you to afford it to me; and for my first, my most beloved friend! my—what shall I call him?—he talks not of returning to England: and if he does—"

"And if he does return," interrupted Lady Horatia, "you must, and rightly formed as your heart is, you do, I am sure understand, that while the faintest mist of doubt hangs over you, you ought never to meet him, unless indeed one of you were married."

"Allow me to ask, Madam," said Ce­lestina, in a tremulous voice, "allow me to [Page 193] ask your Ladyship, who were so well ac­quainted with Mrs. Willoughby, whether from any recollection of remarks made in her life time, you have any persuasion as to the foundation of those doubts."

"You might have seen," replied Lady Horatia, "from the purport of a letter I wrote to you while you were in Scotland, that I had even then heard rumours of the cause of your separation from Willoughby, which Lady Castlenorth had very indus­triously set forth. I judged, from what I then heard, that if it was not true, her art would be so effectually exerted that you would never discover the deception; and that you must be rendered unhappy. It was therefore I advised you to detach your­self as much as you could from what is childishly called a first love. I thought, that what Mr. Willoughby was then said to be on the point of completing—his marriage with Miss Fitz-Hayman—was the very best thing he could do, both for his own sake and your's: for if it should be [Page 194] found you are related, the very idea is at­tended with too much horror to be dwelt upon; and even if it is a fabrication of Lady Castlenorth's, unless it can be clearly proved to be so, your whole life might be embit­tered by it; besides, my dear Celestina, how could Mr. Willoughby, circumstanced as I understand he is in regard to money matters, how could he afford to marry you?"

Celestina sighed deeply from the recol­lection of the arrangements as to all those affairs which Willoughby had so fondly made, and to which she had so fondly listened; then recovering herself, she re­peated her question, which she thought Lady Horatia had evaded—"But has your Ladyship any recollection of circumstances in Mrs. Willoughby's conduct or life, that give you reason to believe this unhappy story may not be the fabrication of Lady Castlenorth?"

"Not from my own knowledge," re­plied she, "for I was in Italy with General [Page 195] Howard, who was then in an ill state of health, at the time Mr. Willoughby's fa­ther died and for two years afterwards. When I returned to England, I was ab­sorbed in domestic uneasiness, and heard, without attending much to them, those gossipping stories which fly about for a week or a month till some newer scandal causes them to be forgotten. Yet I do re­collect, I own, hearing some hints of Mrs. Willoughby's partiality for Mr. Everard, and that they were supposed to be privately married: but I accounted for it, when I attended to it at all, by recollecting that Mrs. Willoughby was, at the time of her husband's death, a young and beautiful woman, with a good fortune, and an ad­mirable understanding; advantages, which, while they created envy and malignity in the minds of an hundred people who pos­sessed nothing of all that, among her own sex; produced as many pretenders to her favour among the other; every one of whom, though some were men of rank and [Page 196] all of course eminent enough in their own eyes, were dismissed by her on their first application with a polite but positive re­fusal. These men were piqued, and these women were spiteful; and they together found out a reason for the unheard of re­fusal of a young and admired widow, by supposing her attached to her son's tutor; not one of them, from the information of their own hearts, being able to conceive it possible that she made this sacrifice to ma­ternal tenderness, and refused her hand to a second husband, because she would suffer nothing to interrupt the attention she owed to the children of the first."

"You do not then believe," said Ce­lestina eagerly—"you do not then believe, my dear Madam, that there is any truth in this odious story?"

"Pardon me," answered Lady Horatia; "I did not say so."

"Gracious heaven!" exclaimed Celes­tina, "is it possible you can believe it."

[Page 197] "My dear young friend," said she calmly, "I have lived so long in the world, that though I do not hastily and on slight grounds believe such a report, yet I should not wonder were it in the event to be verified."

Celestina, who had always in her own heart opposed the idea of her being the daughter of Mrs. Willoughby, though she felt and submitted to the necessity of seeing Willoughby no more while one doubt re­mained unsatisfied, now changed colour, affected as well by the manner of Lady Horatia as by what she said. She had not, however, courage to press her farther, but spoke of the visit intended her by Mr. Va­vasour—"I wish it were possible," said she, "to convince him at once that I shall ne­ver listen to the proposal with which he is pleased to honour me. As Willoughby's friend," added she, and sighed, "I shall be always glad to see him; but, in any other light, never—".

[Page 198] "I think you wrong however," replied Lady Horatia, "in wishing so hastily to dismiss him. He is a man of family, of fortune, and, as you allow, not disagreeable in his person; and for his morals, they are not worse, I suppose, than those of other young men; he is allowed, I think, to be generous, good tempered, and not to want sense. If every idea of Willoughby is at an end, why not relieve yourself and him from a state of uneasy retrospection by receiving the addresses of one whom he cannot dis­approve."

"Are you in earnest, Lady Horatia?" cried Celestina.

"Certainly I am," replied she: "at least, I venture very seriously to advise you not to dismiss Vavasour so hastily, but re­ceive him as an acquaintance till you are sure you disapprove of him as a lover."

"Dear Madam!" resumed Celestina, "were I capable of giving away my hand so lightly, is Mr. Vavasour a man who you think could make me happy?"

[Page 199] "Nay," replied Lady Horatia, "if there is any body whom you prefer that is another point: I only say, that if you feel yourself perfectly disengaged, I cannot think Vavasour ought to be dismissed hastily. Perhaps half the young women in London would think a more desirable match could not offer."

This conversation was interrupted by the entrance of a servant, who announced the arrival of the person who was the sub­ject of it; and Vavasour immediately en­tered the room.

He condescended to pay to Lady Hora­tia more respect than he generally shewed to those who were indifferent to him. Hers was, however, that sort of company in which he by no means found himself at case; and his eagerness to entertain Celes­tina alone, once or twice broke through the restraint which he imposed upon him­self.

Lady Horatia, who was candid and li­beral, saw in him only an unformed and un­steady [Page 200] young man, whose morals and man­ners required nothing but time and good company to render estimable. She saw the prejudice Celestina seemed to entertain to­wards him, as a mere prejudice; and on his rising to depart, gave him a general in­vitation to her house.

Celestina, who knew the refinement of her mind, and the delicacy of her taste, was amazed at her seeming to approve him; and when he was gone, ventured to say—"What does your Ladyship think of Mr. Vavasour?"

"Why really very well," replied she. "He is very young, and quite unformed; but with those giddy manners, and amid that unpolished conversation, there is no want of understanding."

Celestina again sighed. "No," an­swered she, "no want of understanding certainly; for Willoughby was not likely to select him for his friend had that been wanting: but yet they were so unlike—so very unlike—that I have often wondered at [Page 201] their long and intimate friendship. Vava­sour is so head long, so impetuous, so self­willed, and sometimes so boisterous, while Willoughby, with more imagination, more genius, more strength of understanding, is so calm, so reasonable, so attentive to every body—"

She was too much affected to proceed in the catalogue of his virtues, a subject on which she had hardly ever touched before; but stopped, from the emotion she felt; and Lady Horatia, who saw and pitied the source of that emotion, changed the con­versation.

Vavasour, flattered by the reception he had met with from the present protectress of Celestina, and more in love than ever in proportion as she was in his opinion in­finitely handsomer now than ever, was now very frequent in his visits; while Ce­lestina's whole mind was occupied by the necessity she was under of writing to Wil­loughby, and the difficulty she was under how to answer with propriety such a letter [Page 202] as that she had received from him. At length, with many efforts, and more tears, the letter was written and approved of by Lady Horatia; and Celestina endeavoured, in compliance with the wishes of her friend, and with more earnestness than success, to dismiss from her mind some of its corrosive sensations, and to enter, if not with avidity, at least with cheerfulness, into that style of fashionable life, which, though she could not always enjoy, she never failed to adorn.


VAVASOUR had been with her every day since her arrival in town, which was almost a week, and Montague Thorold had never appeared. While Celestina at once wondered at his absence and rejoiced at it, (though perhaps her sensations were min­gled with a slight degree of mortification,) for while she disdained every species of co­quetry, she yet felt humiliated by the sud­den cessation of that attachment which he had taken such pains to convince her, could not be destroyed even by despair.

Impatience, however, to hear of Wil­loughby, was still predominant in her mind : and for this purpose she wished to see Lady Molyneux. No acquaintance subsisted between her and Lady Horatia; [Page 204] and therefore she determined to write and beg leave to wait on her old friend. This she executed in a note to the following purport:

"Miss de Mornay being in town for a short time, solicits permission to wait on Lady Molyneux at any time when her Ladyship may be disengaged."

This note was delivered to Lady Moly­neux in company. She read it, and as if she had forgotten totally the claim Celestina had upon her from their having been brought up together, and from her mother's fondness for her, she asked carelessly whe­ther the messenger waited for an answer; the servant replied, that he did. Lady Mo­lyneux had formed an idea that Celestina, of whom she had not thought for many months, was now wandering about the world in a dependent and inferior situation, and might perhaps expect an invitation to stay with her, which she had no inclination [Page 205] to give; she therefore in a cold and care­less way bade the footman tell the person who brought the message, that being then engaged with company she could not write an answer, but would take an opportunity of letting Miss de Mornay know when she should be at home. She then entered again into conversation with her guests; and it was not till the next day that she remem­bered having heard from Celestina at all; when seeing the note on her table as she was going to dress for the opera, she gave it to her maid, and bade her put her in mind to send an answer to it and fix the first morning she should be disengaged.

Celestina in the mean time received the verbal answer to her note with more con­cern than surprise. She had not expected much kindness from Matilda, who during so many months had never once written to, or enquired after her; but she could not without internal anguish reflect that it was the daughter of her more than mother, the friend of her orphan youth, and the sister [Page 206] of Willoughby, who was thus insensible of all those feelings which swelled her heart when the scenes of that orphan youth, and the pleasures of that infantine friendship, were remembered.

Amid these painful reflections, however, there was one that gave her some degree of consolation. She thought that Lady Mo­lyneux could not, either from any know­ledge of her own, or from the reports spread by Lady Castlenorth, believe that any relationship by blood subsisted between them; for she supposed it to be impossible for her in that case to treat with so much cold neglect a person whom she knew to be her sister. On this, therefore, she dwelt, as a circumstance favourable to the notion she most wished to entertain ; and as two or three days passed on without her hearing from Lady Molyneux, her eagerness to enquire of her subsided into a strong belief that she knew nothing.

Vavasour assiduously attended every day at the house of Lady Horatia during this [Page 207] interval, and contrived to obtain for him­self some degree of interest in her favour. The openness and candour of his temper, was with her an apology for half his faults; while his youth and natural vivacity ob­tained his pardon for the rest. His fortune was splendid, and his family ancient and respectable; while his person was such as could hardly fail to please; and his man­ners, careless and wild as they were, ap­peared to advantage in the eyes of Lady Horatia; who had been disgusted by the coldness and apathy, either real or affected, of many of those young men of fashion who frequented her house.

On Celestina, however, the frequent op­portunities she had of observing Vavasour, had a very opposite effect. In her mind a standard of perfection had been early formed, and every man she now saw was pleasing or otherwise as they resembled or differed from Willoughby. She continued therefore to treat Vavasour with encreasing coldness and saw with concern that Lady [Page 208] Horatia was every day more solicitous for his success.

Willoughby, in the mean time, conti­nued to wander about Europe without any fixed plan, and merely flying from himself. Still anxious to gather information on the subject which had destroyed all the happi­ness of his life, and having little hopes of obtaining any but by means of Lady Cas­tlenorth, he often conquered his reluctance, and visited his uncle at a villa he now inha­bited near Naples; where he was always received with pleasure, and where, save only on the point which alone interested him, Lady Castlenorth seemed to descend from her natural character, to endeavour by every means in her power to gratify and oblige him: and her lord, who really loved his nephew as much as his imbecility of mind allowed him to love any body, and who saw in him and in his alliance with his daughter, the only chance of per­petuating a family which was the great ob­ject of his pride, became hourly more ea­ger [Page 209] to see him, and more gratified by his company.

It has been observed, that there are two reasons which equally operate in determin­ing some people to marry—love and ha­tred; and something resembling both these sentiments agitated the heart of Miss Fitz­Hayman. Of an involuntary preference to her cousin, she had been sensible from the first moment she saw him; and his indif­ference, his preference of Celestina, and even his positively declining the honour of her hand, had mortified without curing her of her partiality; though resentment and disdain were mingled with the inclination she could not conquer, and which neither his absence nor his coldness. had prevented from gaining on her heart. When she saw him again, new force was given to this passion: he was less handsome, less ani­mated; but more interesting and more pleasing; while his melancholy and dejec­tion, though created by another object, gave him so many charms in the opinion [Page 210] of Miss Fitz-Hayman, that her pride yielded to them; and as it was now very certain that he had no attachment but to Celestina, whom, since she fully believed their relationship, she knew he never could marry, she doubted not of being able to inspire him with an affection for her, and, in returning to England his wife, of ful­filling at once her parents wishes and her own.

Lady Castlenorth, whose love of intrigue time had by no means diminished, and whose arrogance had been deeply wounded by the failure of her original plan, which she fancied Willoughby would with so much eagerness have embraced, was now doubly anxious to avail herself of the ad­vantage she had gained by having pre­vented the intended union of Willoughby and Celestina. Pique and resentment ope­rated upon her mind with even more force than attachment and regard would have on another. Besides, in the marriage of her daughter with any man of superior rank [Page 211] and independent fortune, she found great probability that her influence would be les­sened and her government disclaimed; but in uniting her daughter with Willoughby, whose fortune was in disorder and whose temper was remarkably easy, she foresaw the continuation of her power, and that she should neither see her daughter take place of her, or escape from her influence.

Whatever was the wish of her friends, the assiduous Mrs. Calder officiously adopted; and when she found how much Lord Castlenorth had set his heart on con­cluding the marriage between his daugh­ter and her nephew, she applied all her rhetoric to prove its advantages, and all her art to secure it's success.

Willoughby was unconscious of the plans that were thus forming in the family of his uncle, and did not think it possible that their pride would allow them to solicit again an alliance which he had once declined: he therefore went to them without any ap­prehension that he was encouraging ex­pectations [Page 212] he never meant to fulfil, and had indeed no other design than to lay in wait for traces of that involved mystery, which he still thought had been created by the intrigues and machinations of Lady Castlenorth.

In art, however, she was so much his superior, that the very means he adopted to obtain satisfaction, was, in her hands, a means of bewildering more deeply. She now affected the most perfect candour; and whenever she saw him touching with a ten­der hand on the subject, she appeared to feel for his uneasiness, and ready to give him every satisfaction in her power.

Willing to avail himself of this apparent disposition in his favour, he one day, when he was sitting alone with Lady Castlenorth, asked her, whether she had now no traces of Hannah Biscoe, the servant who alone seemed possessed of the circumstances into which he most wished to enquire. Lady Castlenorth answered with great apparent ingenuousness, that she did not exactly [Page 213] know, as she had no connection at all with her, but that if he wished to make any en­quiry, her woman should write out the di­rections to her relations, which she did not herself recollect.

Willoughby eagerly seized on this offer, and begged that these directions might be immediately written out for him. Lady Castlenorth instantly called her woman, and questioned her as to her recollection of the abode of the relations of this Hannah Biscoe; the woman named what she knew; her lady directed her to put it down, and Willoughby left the house, flattering him­self that he had at length obtained a clue which might lead him to escape from the labyrinth of error and mistake where he had so severely suffered.

It was, however, by no means Lady Castlenorth's plan to suffer Willoughby to return to England in search of this woman, whose direction she seemed so willing to give him; and as from the eagerness and agitation he expressed on receiving this pa­per, [Page 214] it appeared but too likely that he me­ditated going himself, in order to preclude the possibility of his views being again frustrated, she found that all her art would be necessary to prevent his escaping her.

Fortunately for her views, Lord Castle­north was seized a few hours afterwards with one of those illnesses which had so of­ten reduced him to the brink of the grave; and the presence of his nephew, which he so earnestly desired, the generous and feel­ing heart of Willoughby could not deny; while he endured the cruellest restraint in staying, and thought every hour an age till he could go himself to England, and renew his hitherto hopeless research after the real situation of Celestina.

Thus passed, however, a month after the arrival of Celestina in London; and then the arrival of an English gentleman at Na­ples brought him her letter, written in an­swer to that she received at York. Nothing could equal the impatience with which he had expected this letter, but the pain he [Page 215] felt at reading it. He learned by it that she was returning to London, where he fan­cied so many objects would combine to soften her concern for their separation; and he fancied the letter expressed too much calmness, and that she submitted to the separation which he had himself indi­cated as too likely to be inevitable without feeling half that regret and anguish which he expected she would have described. The reluctance she expressed to be left to the protection of Vavasour, made him be­lieve his presence interfered with her pre­ference to some other person—a preference, of which the very suspicion threw him into agonies at the very moment his reason told him that he ought not to think of her for himself. Jealousy now added to the pangs of disappointed love, and the letter which Celestina had endeavoured to word so as to calm and sooth him, and to teach him to submit to that necessity of which he allowed the force, seemed to him to breathe only indifference, and to prove that [Page 216] she saw him, without regret, relinquish his claim to those affections, which were al­ready in possession of another.

All his sufferings were confirmed and encreased, when a day or two afterwards he had an opportunity of conversing with Mr. Jarvis, the gentleman who brought the letter, and who was hastening to Rome. He had been often in company with Celes­tina at parties where she attended Lady Horatia Howard; and believing, as all the world now did, that Willoughby was cer­tainly to be married to Miss Fitz-Hayman; and that the marriage of Celestina would be a subject of satisfaction to him, he related without hesitation the reports he had heard of her being soon to give her hand to Mr. Vavasour.

To the amazement Willoughby expressed at the first intimation of such a match, Jar­vis, who entirely mistook it's cause, said—"Yes, it is wonderful to be sure, consider­ing all we know of Vavasour, that he should seriously intend to marry."

[Page 217] So acute was the pain which the intelli­gence Willoughby had just received gave him, that he could make no answer to this; and Jarvis fancying him out of spirits for some reason or other which he never thought of enquiring after, soon after left him to meditate on what he had heard.

There was "room for meditation even "to madness," when he recollected a thou­sand circumstances that had till now ap­peared of no moment; he was convinced that Vavasour had long admired Celestina; he had himself resigned her, or at least in­timated that he dared not think of her; and the person, the fortune, the impetuous ardour of Vavasour, which his agitated mind represented as irresistible, now all crouded on his recollection, and he doubted not but that before he could reach England, Celestina would have given herself away.

Yet with the horrid mystery unremoved, on what pretence could he wish or even think of impeding a marriage with a man of whom his regard was evinced by his long [Page 218] friendship, and who had so affluent a for­tune. As a lover, he could himself no longer interfere; as her relation, he could not bear to consider himself; and were he only such, an alliance with Vavasour could not be objected to on any reasonable grounds.

The longer he reflected, therefore, on what he had heard, the more unable he became to support his reflections; and they concluded in a resolution to set out imme­diately for England; a determination which he communicated to his uncle the same day, who was affected by it even to tears.

Lady Castlenorth had, in conversation with Mr. Jarvis, heard the report of Celes­tina's intended marriage, and knew imme­diately how to account for the extreme un­easiness Willoughby betrayed, and his sudden resolution to depart for England. When Jarvis, who proceeded immediately on his journey, was gone, she found an opportunity a few hours afterwards to speak to Willoughby on English news, and the [Page 219] change of his countenance confirmed her conjectures. This was an occasion not to be lost; she ventured, what she usually avoided, to name Celestina, and to express her satisfaction that she was likely to be so well married. "After all the conversation there has been about this young person," said she, affecting to have a great deal of feeling for her, "I am very glad that the poor girl will be so well established. A man of Vavasour's independent fortune can well afford to please himself; and I doubt not but that you and Lady Molyneux must on every account rejoice at her change of name, and that nothing more will be said of her origin." Though Lady Castlenorth affected to speak with sentiment, and to sosten her voice, her piercing and en­quiring eyes were demanding from the countenance of Willoughby that explana­tion which she knew it would give of his real sentiments; and she saw the blood for­sake his cheeks, his lips turn white and tremble, and a mingled expression of doubt, [Page 220] fear, anger, and disdain, marked on his fea­tures. "If I were certain, Madam," said he, "that all the odious reports, on which you, who first promulgated them, have in­variably refused to satisfy me as you might do—if I were sure they were all true—"

"If!" interrupted Lady Castlenorth: "can you then doubt their truth? Will you compel me to make, by adducing those proofs, a matter public which you ought on every account to wish might be buried in eternal oblivion?"

"Will I compel you, Madam! Yes surely I will if the means are in my power. 'Tis for this only I have been so much with you; not to compel you indeed, but in the hope of prevailing upon you, if you really possess the evidence you have often meditated, to give it me all without re­serve."

"Well," cried Lady Castlenorth, "I have now given you a direction to the only person who is in possession of this evidence. You might have procured it as long since as when I interfered to save you from the hor­rors [Page 221] of a marriage which must have ren­dered you and the object of your unhappily placed affection miserable for ever: but then you flew from me, and resented my friendship as if it had been an injury. Since that time it is not my fault if you have been unable to find this person, whom I have never secreted, and of whom I know little or nothing. Satisfied in having saved you from an abyss of guilt and misery, I trusted to time and your own principles to convince you of the injustice your suspicions did me. You have searched for prooss in those places where your mother is said to have been with her young charge: tell me, have you ever found any reason to believe the facts I told you of to be of my inven­tion—to have been totally unfounded?"

Willoughby was conscious he had not; yet at the same moment he discovered that Lady Castlenorth had watched him, and knew of the journies he had made to Hieres and to other places. Vexed and angry, not knowing what to think, or whether he [Page 222] was imposed on by her superior cunning, or was needlessly tormenting himself in pushing the enquiry farther, he could not command the various uneasy sensations with which he was agitated; and therefore abruptly leaving the room, he hastened to his lodgings, and gave directions for his immediate departure for England.

He was concerned, however, for his un­cle, and returned in the evening to take leave of him: he found him sitting with Mrs. Calder, who was reading to him a sort of catalogue raisonnée of the various ills to which the human body is subject; and as they passed in melancholy review before him, he stopped her to. consult her on his own symptoms, and to enquire of her whe­ther she did not think such and such com­plaints were about to add to his bodily in­firmities. Mrs. Calder, who was always obliged to every body who fancied her skill enabled her to answer such questions, was delighted with the opportunity this af­forded her of exhibiting her knowledge to [Page 223] Willoughby, from whom she could never procure the smallest voluntary attention; and the conversation became so irksome, that having waited near an hour, and see­ing it not likely to end, Willoughby at length started up and approached to take his uncle's hand, when Miss Fitz-Hayman, in all the languor of unhappy love, swam into the room.

On her entrance, Willoughby sat down again, as being unwilling to have her suppose he rudely fled from her approach. She put on an air of affected humility, and looked as if she thanked him for even this slight mark of attention. She gave a loud and deep sigh, prolonged as much as pos­sible; her eyes, robbed of their fire, were turned mournfully upon him—"You are going from us, Mr. Willoughby?" said she, in a subdued and faint voice.

He replied, that business, which could not longer be delayed, made his return to England necessary.

[Page 224] Another deep sigh was all the lady's an­swer to this information: but Lord Castle­north cried—"I am sorry to hear you say so, George—very sorry. I did hope that we might have all returned together as soon as my complaints subside a little. As to business, you ought to remember that all your money matters might be easily settled if you pleased."

"I thank you, Sir," replied Willough­by, who saw whither the discourse would tend; "but those matters are the least of my concern."

"Stay, however, one day," said Lord Castlenorth, "that you may execute some business for me. Surely, nephew, you will oblige me so far."

Though every hour's delay was death to him, he at length agreed, on his uncle's repeated entreaties, to stay four and twenty hours longer at Naples; and then leaving the room, he was followed by the officious Mrs. Calder, who desiring leave to say half [Page 225] a dozen words to him alone, he suffered her to shew him into another room.

She put on a most rueful countenance, stroked her handkerchief, plaited her ruf­fles, and uttering an "oh dear!" between a sigh and a groan, she continued thus—"My dear good Sir! I wish to have a lit­tle conversation relative to your situation in this dear worthy family, for every member of which my poor heart bleeds."

"And yet, Madam," interrupted Wil­loughby impatiently, "there is, perhaps, hardly a family among your acquaintance who are, in the opinion of the world, so little objects of compassion."

"The world!" exclaimed the lady. "Lord bless me, what signifies the opinion of the world. The world cannot see as I do into all their feelings. There's your most excellent uncle, as worthy a man as ever existed, sinking, poor good dear man! under five complaints, all incurable, and denied, alas! the only satisfaction this world has to give him—seeing his darling [Page 226] daughter settled to his wishes, which would smooth his path to heaven, and leave him nothing but bodily pain—which is severe enough—nothing but bodily pain, as I ob­served, to contend with. Oh! Sir, what heart felt satisfaction it must be to you! what comfortable reflection for a good heart, such as inhabits your breast no doubt—I say, what delight it would be to you, to hold forth the amiable hand that should— ‘Rock the cradle of reposing age,’ and sooth the latter days of so excellent and worthy an uncle."

The whine, and the hypocritical gri­mace with which this speech was delivered, would have conquered the gravity of Wil­loughby at any other time: but he now felt his disgust irritated by impatience, amounting almost to rage; but he repressed his feelings with difficulty, unwilling by opposition to lengthen the conversation, which Mrs. Calder suffered not to languish, but thus went on—"Ah dear! what a me­lancholy [Page 227] reflection, as I observed, it is, to consider, that, poor good man, this is not likely to happen; and instead of it, this darling daughter, this fine young woman, heiress to such a noble fortune, so beauti­ful, so accomplished, so elegant—undenia­bly the first match in England in point of rank and beauty and fortune—so lovely in person, so amiable in mind, so elevated in understanding—far, alas! from being happy, sees her youth pass away in a hopeless pas­sion, which from her infancy she has been taught to cherish, and which now her rea­son, aided by her affronted pride, tries in vain to repress. Oh! Mr. Willoughby! Mr. Willoughby! the happiness that you refuse, by how many would be courted! The heart that you disdain to accept, by how many would be adored! Dear crea­ture! when I see how thin she is grown, and know the cause of it so well!—when I hear her sigh, and know how injurious it is to her dear delicate constitution, I really Sir—you will forgive my zeal—have looked [Page 228] upon you with amazement, and have asked myself whether you have eyes—whether you have a heart—"

"To what, Madam," interrupted Wil­loughby, who could no longer endure her harangue patiently—"to what does all this tend?"

"Tend, dear Sir!" replied Mrs. Calder; "why certainly to open your eyes if possi­ble to a sense of the happiness you are throw­ing away; to prevail on you to answer the expectations of all your friends, to consult your own interest, and to become all you ought to be."

"You mean well, I conclude, Madam," answered Willoughby, "by all this; but you mistake greatly, when you suppose that the alliance to which you allude would contribute to the happiness of any of the parties for whom you are interested. I have no heart to offer Miss Fitz-Hayman; and if the partiality which you represent exists any where but in your own imagina­tion, it would be ungenerous to encou­rage [Page 229] and unworthy to avail myself of it, feeling as I do that I never can answer it as I am very willing to allow the young lady's merits deserve: excuse me, there­fore, if I entreat of you never to consider me as being likely to be more closely united with the family of Lord Castlenorth than I at present am, and to declare to you, that by persisting in pressing it, my uncle will put it out of my power to testify for him that regard and affection which I really feel."

Willoughby then left the room; and Mrs. Calder, piqued and mortified at the little success of her rhetoric, went reluc­tantly to give an account to Lady Castle­north, by whom she had been employed, of the ill success of her embassy.


WILLOUGHBY, notwithstanding every effort and every art made use of to detain him, pursued his way to England: but at Paris, the fatigue he had undergone, and the anxiety which had so long weighed on his spirits, combined to throw him into one of those fevers, to which, from his in­fancy, he had been subject; and for three weeks he was in the most imminent dan­ger. Amid the wild ravings of the delirium that perpetually occurred during the seve­rest paroxysms of the complaint, he called incessantly on Celestina; and complaining that Lady Castlenorth had taken her from him, entreated of his servant, a man who had lived with him for some years, to send for her that he might see her before he died. [Page 231] This, in the simplicity of his heart, his faith­ful attendant would have done, having no idea that any thing could be of more conse­quence than the wishes of his dear master, for whose life he was so cruelly alarmed; but when he asked him whither he was to send, Willoughby put his hand on his heart, sighed deeply, and replied, either that he did not know or that it would be of no effect; for that, indifferent what be­came of him, she had already refused to come to him, and was gone to Scotland with Vavasour.

When the violence of the disease subsided, he ceased to name her; and his servant, afraid of renewing his recollection, care­fully avoided any hint of what he had dwelt upon during his delirious ravings. Slowly, and with two relapses, he recovered strength enough to proceed to Calais; but nine weeks had elapsed since the informa­tion he had received from Vavasour; and it was near three months after that time before he arrived in London.

[Page 232] His first enquiry was after Vavasour, who was, he found, in Staffordshire; and his heart was relieved by the intelligence, for he dreaded least he should have met him in London, perhaps married to Celes­tina. His next was after his sister, whom he still loved, and in favour of whom he was willing to forget all the neglect he had experienced from her, as well as the causes of displeasure given him by her husband.

After Celestina he feared to ask by a di­rect message to herself, and he therefore sought somebody who could tell where she now was, of which he concluded he should have intelligence from Lady Molyneux.

Lady Molyneux attended his summons; and while he embraced her, with tears of fraternal fondness, from a thousand tender recollections that crouded on his heart, he saw her equally unmoved by their meet­ing and unconcerned at his illness, of which he still retained melancholy proofs in his altered countenance and reduced figure. He took an early opportunity of turning [Page 233] the discourse on Celestina; and saw, with encreased amazement, that far from be­ing interested in the enquiry which had occupied his whole thoughts so long, Matilda was perfectly indifferent about it, or if he moved her a moment from the still­ness of fashionable apathy, she shrunk from the subject with something like disgust; seemed afraid of the trouble of investiga­tion, and careless how it might terminate; wishing rather to hear nothing about it, than to hazard—not the tarnishing her mo­ther's honour, for to that she seemed in­sensible, but the probability of being obliged to own for a sister, one whom she had hitherto considered as a dependent; and of seeing her brother, from a point of ho­nour, undertake to provide for her as a re­lation. Avarice, the heterogeneous child of selfish vanity, was become a leading feature in the character of Matilda: she found so many uses for money in adorning and in indulging herself, that she loved no­thing so well, except the adulation it pro­cured [Page 234] for her; and so much power has this odious passion to pervert the heart, that instead of feeling concern in contemplating the sunken features and palid cheek of her brother, she could not, nor indeed did she attempt to check, a half formed idea of the pecuniary advantage she should receive from his death.

While such were her thoughts, Wil­loughby asked her when she had last seen Celestina?

"Oh!" replied she, "I have seen her only once in a room, and that was by acci­dent. I was never at home when she called; and I hate that old Lady Horatia Howard that she lives with, and so took no great pains to meet them when I returned her visit. I have seen her though in public five or six times lately, but the girl seemed to me so very much altered, and to give her­self such intolerable airs, that I rather shunned than sought her.

"Airs!" cried Willoughby. "She must indeed be greatly changed if she deserves [Page 235] such censure: but tell me, Matilda—what kind of airs?"

"Oh! the airs of a beauty," answered she, "which you first taught her to assume, and which she has made a tolerable pro­gress in, since this old cat of fashion has taken it into her head to make such a fuss about her, and since she has been surrounded with such a set of senseless boys. There's your friend Vavasour constantly one of her suit, and there was a notion of his being fool enough to marry her, but I fancy that was given out merely by her exorbitant vanity, for I dare say Vavasour knows better."

The heart of Willoughby sunk within him; but he was unable to express what he felt; and Lady Molyneux went on—"However, I have heard since, I think, that the girl has been addressed by another young fellow—one of the Thorolds I think—whom I have lately seen with her, which would be more suitable and more likely to be a match."

[Page 236] "You have seen her then often?" said Willoughby, in a faint and faultering voice.

"Yes, in public," replied his sister; "but I have had no conversation with her." Lady Molyneux then changed the con­versation, and soon afterwards left her bro­ther more unhappy than she had found him.

He was by no means able to see Celes­tina in his present state of wretched uncer­tainty: yet to know that by traversing two or three streets he could once more behold her, once more gaze on that lovely coun­tenance, and hear that voice so soothing, so enchanting to his ears; was to him a state of tantalizing misery, from which he knew nothing could relieve him but detecting the falshood of Lady Castlenorth's report; and this he could only hope to do by ano­ther journey into Yorkshire, in order to find that Hannah Biscoe to whom he now thought he had certainly obtained a direc­tion, and this he proposed doing immedi­ately.

[Page 237] Celestina, however, surrounded by crouds of admirers; Celestina, forgetting all the tenderness she once felt for him and render­ing all his researches fruitless even if they proved to him that he might again plead for the renewal of that affection, was an idea that unceasingly tormented him; and so painfully did the intelligence affect him which Lady Molyneux had given, that the ferment of his spirits produced a return of his fever; in a slighter degree, but still so as to confine him to his room; where, in a few days, he received a visit from Vavasour.

Vavasour was totally unconscious of the species of distress which Willoughby suf­fered; and since he himself had resigned her, and agreed to complete his engage­ments with the family of Castlenorth, for so his conduct had been generally understood in England, had no notion that the ad­dresses of another, and particularly of his friend, could be otherwise than pleasing to him. He began, therefore, without re­marking the concern and coldness of Wil­loughby, [Page 238] imputing it only to his visibly deranged health, to relate to him his own views in regard to Celestina, and to com­plain of her preference of Montague Tho­rold. "The devil take me," said he, "if there is in England or in Europe another woman for whom I would take a fifth part of the trouble which this bewitching girl has already given me. Curse me if I am not ashamed of myself when I think what a whining puppy she has made of me; ten times I have left her, and ten times have returned, to prove to her that she might use me like a dog."

"Miss de Mornay," said Willoughby, in a voice affected by the various sensations he felt—"Miss de Mornay must be greatly changed, Sir, if she is become capable of any improper levity towards any gentle­man who professes regard for her▪ at the same time you will recollect, Mr. Vava­sour, that she is mistress of herself, and at liberty to reject those whose offers may not be acceptable to her. From the experi­ments [Page 239] which you have been pleased to make, (though from our long friendship I should rather have expected you to have applied to me before you made them)—from the experiments you have been pleased to make, it seems clear that Miss De Mor­nay has no favourable intentions towards you, and I would advise you by all means to decline the pursuit."

"May I perish if I do!" replied Vava­sour, with all his usual impetuosity. "No, George, unless it can be made to appear that young Thorold—that little curatizing fellow—without a shilling, and with no­thing but his impudence and scraps of plays to recommend him, has better pretensions than I have, curse me if I will give it up!"

This second intimation of Celestina's en­couraging the addresses of Montague Tho­rold, was a second dagger in the sick heart of Willoughby. He dreaded an explana­tion, which, while it might serve perhaps to subdue all his fears as to Vavasour, might create others equally insupportable. [Page 240] He could not, however, remain many mi­nutes in the breathless agitation of such sus­pence, and therefore said—"I really don't know any thing about Thorold. I hardly recollect that there was such a man."

"What!" exclaimed Vavasour; "not know him? Not know that she went im­mediately from Alvestone to the house of that old priest his father."

"Yes," answered Willoughby, "that I certainly knew; for it was by my request that the elder Mr. Thorold became her guardian."

"Well, nothing was so natural, I sup­pose, as for his reverence to delegate the trust to his son; and as his deputy; I sup­pose it was, that he went with his ward to Scotland, and was her guardian all the time she was among the highlands and the islands."

"Impossible!" cried Willoughby. "He did not—could not have been there."

"He was by heaven!" exclaimed Va­vasour; "and when I met Celestina, with [Page 241] your letter, at York, I found that young fellow attending on her and Mrs. Elphin­stone: but I was authorised by yourself to wait on her; and I obliged him there to re­sign a post, which, when I think of his having so long filled, and apparently with her approbation, by all that's diabolical I could tear his puritanical soul out!"

Nothing that Willoughby had ever felt was equal to the anguish which pressed on his heart at this moment. The coldness he fancied he had found in Celestina's last letter was now accounted for; and all the warmth of grateful praise, with which in her former letters she had spoken of Mr. Thorold, was imputed to her growing af­fection for his son. Lost as she might be, and probably was to him for ever before this intelligence, unless he could content himself with that share of sisterly affection which was all she ought to bestow, there was something so terrible to his imagina­tion in her feeling a warm attachment to another, that he could not think of it with­out [Page 242] horror, nor conceal from Vavasour the effect it had upon him. His mildness of manners forsook him; and speaking less like himself than like Vavasour, whose ve­hemence he seemed to adopt, he cried, in a voice that trembled with passion—"How dared he pretend to Celestina!"

"He not only dared then," interrupted Vavasour, "but dares still; and has con­trived to get Lady Horatia Howard to be of his party. He has fascinated the old woman with his piety and his poetry, and I see very plainly that the young one will throw herself away upon him unless you prevent it."

"May I perish," cried he, "if I do not!" Yet at that moment the recollection too forcibly occurred to him that he had no right to prevent it, unless by urging a claim as her relation, from which his soul recoiled. So painfully acute were his present sensa­tions, that he was unable to breathe, and without attending longer to the exhorta­tions of Vavasours who eagerly pressed him [Page 243] to interfere immediately, he abruptly left the room, and sent by his servant a mes­sage to Vavasour, saying he found himself so ill that he was gone to bed; but should be glad he would call again for an hour in the evening.

Instead, however, of attempting to pro­cure that repose which his encreased fever required, he went to the trunk where Ce­lestina's letters were deposited, and with trembling hands taking them out, he ran them over, even from the first she wrote to him after their separation, to the last which Mr. Jarvis had delivered to him at Naples.

His apprehensive jealousy so powerfully awakened, now taught him to fancy, that from the moment of Celestina's acquaint­ance with Montague Thorold, her letters had become gradually cooller, and that the last too plainly evinced her cheerful ac­quiescence to that reluctant and only con­ditional resignation, which be had with so much anguish of heart been compelled to send her, while he explained the cruel cir­cumstances [Page 244] that had torn him from her and from happiness.

The longer he dwelt on her letters, the more this idea was strengthened, and the more insupportable it became. His illness, originally occasioned by anxiety, returned upon him; and though without delirium, his fever was nearly as high as when he was in so much danger at Paris.

He now determined to send to Lady Horatia Howard; and he attempted to write to her. But he could hardly com­mand his pen, and found himself wholly unequal to the more difficult task of com­posing such a letter as could alone be pro­per. He threw away the paper in despair; and calling his servant, ordered him to find out immediately some means of be­coming acquainted with the servants of Lady Horatia Howard, and procure intelli­gence of what visitors were most at the house, particularly if a Mr. Thorold of De­vonshire was there often.

[Page 245] The man hastened to enter on a task by no means difficult to him. He contrived the same afternoon to introduce himself to one of the footmen of Lady Horatia at the porter house he frequented, and learned that his mistress and her young friend, of whom he spoke as of an angel, were gone for a fortnight or three weeks on a visit into Oxfordshire; that Mr. Vavasour used to be a good deal at the house when first Lady Horatia came to town; that now he was much less frequently there; but that Mr. Thorold was there almost every day, and read to the ladies whole evenings; who, since these reading parties at home, went much less into public than they had done before.

This intelligence distracted Willoughby by redoubling every apprehension he had felt. The man, however, was sent back for further information, and bade to ask if Mr. Thorold was of their party in their present journey, and if there was any talk [Page 246] among the servants of an intended marriage between him and Miss De Mornay.

In answer to these queries, he had the mortification of hearing that Montague Thorold was to meet the ladies at Oxford; and that it was, in the family, generally understood that he was the accepted lover of Celestina, and highly approved by Lady Horatia.

It was now that the corrosive jealousy that had long tormented him had a decided object, and fixed with the most envenomed power on the heart of Willoughby. The impossibility of his interfering, to prevent Celestina giving herself to another while he himself remained in such a situation as the present, and dared not even see her; the little probability he saw of removing the doubts that distracted him; and the appre­hensions least if they were for ever effectu­ally withdrawn Celestina would rejoice that they were so; the cruel idea of Montague Thorold's possessing that heart which he once knew to be all his own, and the pre­ference [Page 247] of that elegant mind of which he had with so much delight contemplated the improvement; were thoughts that inces­santly pursued and tormented him: and he had no means of obtaining any information of the conduct of Celestina, or of her return to town, but by his servant, who was now employed whole days to gather from the do­mestics of Lady Horatia, intelligence, which, when obtained, served only to en­crease his misery.

The anecdotes he gathered from his sister served too but to aggravate his distress: yet when he saw her, (as he generally did once every day,) from whatever point the con­versation sat out, it always ended in questions about Celestina: and Lady Molyneux, who had insensibly familiarised her mind to the idea of her brother's dying a bachelor in consequence of his early disappointment, now saw with concern that his attachment to Celestina, though it prevented his marrying any other, was yet so rooted in his heart, that should he find, as she believed he [Page 248] would, the imagined relationship a mere fiction, he would most undoubtedly return to her with more ardour than before they were parted: and notwithstanding the em­barrassed state of his affairs, which every day became more serious, would marry her, and disappoint every view of fortune—en­crease of fortune—which her avaricious am­bition foresaw might otherwise accrue to her.

Actuated, therefore, by very different motives, she co-operated with Lady Castle­north in endeavouring to divide him from Celestina; and while one was strengthening the barrier raised between them, the other was trying to convince Willoughby that he ought not to wish for it's removal.

The means of doing this were, she thought, to keep him at a distance from Celestina, and to pique his pride by repre­senting her as attached to another. The first point was for the present secured by his illness; and she took care so artfully to in­sinuate the second, that aided as she was by [Page 249] the report of Vavasour, and by the conti­nual repetitions of what he had seen on the journey from Scotland, that every hour the fatal impression sunk, deeper into his heart, and his reason, or his reliance on Celestina's affection, had not sufficient power to resist it.

Thus passed five or six days after his ar­rival in London. He endeavoured to shake off his illness; for by a journey into York­shire, which he could not till it was con­quered undertake, he could alone hope to obtain any satisfaction as to the original cause of their separation. Yet even from thence he now no longer dared to look for­ward to happiness, which even while he was employed in attempting to regain it, seemed escaping from him for ever.

But that he might undertake something to relieve himself from the wretched state he was now in, he put himself into the care of a physician, and set about getting out of an illness he had hitherto neglected or ra­ther indulged. Though very languid, and [Page 250] with a great deal of fever still about him, he went to Lady Molyneux's; and in a day or two afterwards, as he found himself better from change of scene and of place, he accompanied her on some of her visits, and called in at a card party, where she told him she must shew herself for a quarter of an hour. The rooms were full; and Lady Molyneux being, notwithstanding her declaration that she should stay so short a time, set down to a card table, Willoughby sauntered into one of the apartments where the younger part of the company were seated at a commerce table; where the first person that met his eyes was Celestina, ele­gantly dressed and more beautiful than ever, with myriads of charms playing round her face, and cheerfulness and pleasure dancing in her eyes; while on one side sat a young man whom Willoughby immediately recol­lected to be Montague Thorold, and on the other another gentleman, who, though he seemed to be more a stranger to her, was [Page 251] evidently charmed with her, and unable to keep his eyes from her face.

Fixed to the place where he stood un­heeded among some other idle people who were looking on, he remained gazing at her for several minutes. His legs trembled so that it was with difficulty he supported himself, and his heart beat as if it would break. He debated with himself whether he should speak to her, or retire unob­served; but while he yet argued the point, a smile and a whisper that passed between her and Montague Thorold determined him to fly from the torments he felt, and which he found it almost impossible to en­dure another moment: he stepped hastily away to find his sister and entreat her to go; but so deeply was he affected, that, weakened as he was by illness, he staggered, and might have fallen, had not the shame of betraying so much weakness lent him re­solution to reach a chair, where he sat a moment to recover breath and recollection.

[Page 252] Mortified tenderness and disappointed love gave him for an instant a sensation re­sembling hatred. He fancied he could quit Celestina never again to feel any inte­rest in her fate; but, leaving her to the man she preferred, strengthen himself against his fatal and till now invincible attachment, by contemplating the fatal barrier which he had so long been try­ing to destroy, and to believe that artifice rather than nature had placed between them. Of this cause of their separation, no part had in fact been removed; and he re­proached himself for the absurdity, folly, and even vice of his present conduct. Hav­ing argued himself into what he thought a resolution to feel no longer for Celestina, he hurried to Lady Molyneux, and told her, that if her game was not nearly at an end, he must leave her and go home in a chair, as he found himself unable to bear the heat of the room.

His sister answered, that she was only settling her winnings, and would attend [Page 253] him in a moment if he would wait for her. He agreed to do so, and going to the door that led out of that into the next room, he leaned against the side of it, turning his eyes as much as possible from the apartment where Celestina was.

Lost in the painful sensations inflicted by distracting jealousy and bitter regret, which he yet struggled to stisle, he distinguished not the objects: all, to him, uninteresting that moved before him. A croud of young people, however, who had just risen from their table, were pressing into another room where refreshments were distributed. He moved a little to make way for them, when he saw, close to him, and even borne against him by her companions, Celestina herself. Her face was at first turned from him; for she was speaking to Montague Thorold, who was on the other side; but finding herself crouding against somebody, she turned to apologise for the rudeness she was guilty of, when the well known figure, the well known face of Willoughby, ema­ciated [Page 254] and pale as they were, instantly struck her. An involuntary and faint shriek testified the impression they made; and Willoughby, who caught the weak sound of her distressful voice, was at first, by an irresistible impulse, hurried to her assistance; but seeing the arm of Montague Thorold supporting her, and his counte­nance expressing all the interest he took in her emotion, heimputed that emotion to her consciousness of her attachment to her new favourite; and darting at her a look of im­patient reproach, he forced himself through the croud, and without looking back, sat down breathless and trembling by Lady Molyneux, who was that moment coming forward to meet him.

The agitation of poor Celestina could not be concealed, nor could she for a moment or two escape from the enquiring eyes of those who remarked it. As soon, however, as she could disengage herself from the throng, she sat down, hardly daring to en­quire whether what she had seen was real or [Page 255] visionary. She had returned from Oxford­shire with Lady Horatia only the evening before, and knew nothing of Willoughby's being in England; while, in addition to the amazement the sight of him occasioned, his apparent ill health impressed her with concern, and the displeasure with which he surveyed her, with terror.

Montague Thorold, who had seen Wil­loughby, and whose eyes were never a moment away from Celestina, knew at once the cause of her distress. He followed her, little less affected than she was herself, to a so­pha where she had thrown herself, and asked her, in a faint and tremulous voice, if he should fetch her any thing? she answered "if you please," so low that he scarce dis­tinguished what she said; but stepping a few paces from her, he took a glass of le­monade from a servant and brought it to her. She took it, and carried it to her lips, almost unconscious of what she did, while Montague Thorold leaned over the arm of the sopha on which she sat, and [Page 256] watched the emotions of her countenance, with all the solicitude he felt strongly painted on his own.

At the same moment Willoughby ap­peared, leading Lady Molyneux through the room. The first objects that he saw as he approached the door, were Celestina and Montague Thorold: but having once seen them, he turned hastily from them; and seeming to give all his attention to his sister, he disappeared.

Celestina's eyes followed him with a look of inexpressible amazement and concern. She seemed to be in a fearful dream; and when she no longer saw him, her eyes were fixed on the door through which he had gone out. She heeded no longer what Montague Thorold said to her; but sat, with a palpitating heart and oppressed breath, till Lady Horatia, after twice speaking to her, roused her from her half formed and confused reflections by remind­ing her it was time to go.

[Page 257] She followed, in silence, where Lady Horatia led, and at the coach door wished Montague Thorold good night; for the only distinct sensation she felt, was a wish for his absence: but Lady Horatia, who was immediately going home, desired him to return and sup with her; which, without knowing what he did, he consented to, though too conscious while he did it that Celestina had rather be without him, for as he handed her into the coach, he felt her tremble so that she could hardly support herself, and he heard the deep sigh burst from her heart as if it would break.

Lady Horatia had not seen Willoughby, and had no idea of Celestina's sufferings. She talked therefore in her usual way of the people they had seen, and of some books that had been recommended to her; till observing that Celestina, who usually bore her part in the conversation, did not answer, she enquired if she was not well?

"Pretty well, I thank your Ladyship," replied Celestina; "but I am uncommonly [Page 258] fatigued to-night, and have the head ach." This answer satisfied Lady Horatia, who continued to address herself to Montague Thorold, till they arrived in Park-street; where Celestina would immediately have gone to her own room, so unfit was she for conversation and so unable to sustain it; but Lady Horatia ordering her woman to bring a remedy for the head ach, of which Celestina had complained, and that had be­fore been of service to her, she, rather than alarm her kind benefactress, sat down near the supper table to wait for it.

But so great an effect had the violent though short perturbation of her spirits had on her countenance, that Lady Horatia immediately perceived it. "The head ach!" cried she in surprise, and taking Ce­lestina's hand: "my dear, you have surely something worse the matter with you than a common head ach"

"Pray, dearest Madam," replied Celes­tina, "pardon me if I am utterly unable to say what is the matter. To-morrow I [Page 259] shall be better, and I know you will for­give me till then."

The manner in which she uttered these few words, as, trembling and faint, she ad­vanced towards the door, alarmed and sur­prised Lady Horatia. She saw, however, by the countenance of Montague Thorold, that he could explain the cause of Celestina's uneasiness; she therefore suffered her to de­part, and immediately made the enquiry of him.

He instantly informed her of what he had seen; and with no favourable description of the looks and manner of Willoughby, which had indeed appeared to him to be extremely cruel and insulting towards Ce­lestina. Lady Horatia, with whom Wil­loughby was no favourite, and who ex­tremely disliked his sister Lady Molyneux, saw his conduct in the same point of view as Thorold represented it; and, after some conversation on the subject, said, that though she was much concerned for the shock Celestina had received, yet that upon [Page 260] the whole it might perhaps be better for her that this circumstance had happened. "For now," said she, "I think she will, possessing, as she does, so much proper pride, be convinced, that even if the story coming from Lady Castlenorth has no foundation, as I myself suppose it has, that still she ought not to indulge her early pre­judice in favour of a man, who, whatever he may have pretended or she may have be­lieved, never intended to act honourably by her, and now not only deserts but in­sults her."

Thorold heartily assented to this opinion, and sat down to supper with a heart some­what relieved from the extreme uneasiness which the emotion of Celestina on the ap­pearance of Willoughby had given him. Still, however, he could not eat, he could not converse; but as soon as he could dis­engage himself, he took leave of Lady Horatia, and full of anxiety, and trembling least all the hopes he had of late so fondly cherished should be blasted, he returned to his lodgings.


CELESTINA, in retiring to her own room, had hoped to recall her scattered and oppressed spirits, and clearly recollect all that had befallen her; but the angry, the disdainful look which that countenance wore where she had been accustomed to see only the smiles of approbation or the ten­derly anxious looks of love, was the image still most prevalent in her mind, joined to the painful idea of the ruined constitution of him whose life was ever dearer to her than her own.

The cruelty of his being in London, of his going into public without ever having seen or wrote to her, sunk deeply into her heart. "Ah! Willoughby," exclaimed she, "is it thus we meet again after such [Page 262] a parting? Is this the end of all your as­surances, that you would ever be my friend? that you would learn to consider me as your sister if we were indeed related? alas! is it thus then you throw me off entirely, and seem sorry to remember that you ever saw me?" A flood of tears followed this cruel reflection; but after weeping some time, her pride came to her relief: she remem­bered the haughty neglect with which Lady Molyneux had treated her, and doubted not but that her influence with Willoughby had prevailed on him to expel her for ever from that place in his regard which the very reasons on which he resigned her as his wife, ought to give her as a defenceless and unhappy orphan, dependent on his family. She recollected now but too well the reserve and disdain, the look of min­gled anger and scorn, which Willoughby's features spoke as she saw him the second time leading out his sister; and her mind dwelt on the expression of his eyes as they first met her's; when, though he must have [Page 263] seen how much she was surprised and af­fected by the sight of him, he flew from her without one consoling word, though it was evident she could hardly support her­self.

"All is over then," cried she: "that tender friendship which would have been the consolation of my life, is at an end. Every tie that from our infancy united us is broken, and I have now no reliance but on the kindness of those who are compara­tively strangers. Ah! is it generous thus to discard me, without even trying to soften the blow: but go, cruel, capricious man, go, and enjoy, with your opulent heiress, all that affluence can give: go, and become callous and insensible to all those noble sentiments that once animated your bosom, which once rendered you so de­servedly dear to me. They are gone. Wil­loughby, selfish, cruel, unfeeling, and in­solent, is not the Willoughby to whom my heartwas devoted. Why therefore should I be thus wretched about him? why let his [Page 264] proud malignant sister triumph in knowing that I am mortified and unhappy. Let me try to drive his too painful remembrance from me; or at least to remember him only as the son of my beloved benefactress."

At the mention of that revered name, however, all her newly acquired resolution forsook her. The memory of her tender, her first friend, was so intimately connected with that of Willoughby himself, that her tears flowed for both; and against the un­kindness of the latter neither her pride nor her reason could sustain her.

A sleepless night succeeded to this con­flicting evening; and it was not till towards morning that Celestina determined to write to Willoughby, entreating him still to al­low her that place in his friendship, which no fault of her's had, she thought, forfeited, and assuring him that whatever might be her destiny her regard for him was un­changeable, though she would never in­trude upon him with it. Her tenderness conquered her resentment, and the idea of [Page 265] what she owed to the son of her early friend, whatever might be his conduct towards her, came in aid of that long rooted tenderness, and produced the resolution which she meant to execute in the morning. Having thus determined, her mind gradually be­came more tranquil, and her spirits being quite exhausted, she sunk into slumber.

But the fainter though still painful ideas of the evening before pursued her; and af­ter tormenting her with numberless wild terrors, she fancied that she saw Willoughby with the same menacing look he wore the preceding night, with a dagger in his hand, approaching and threatening her to plunge it into a heart, which was, he said, perfi­dious and ungrateful, and had been the means of driving him to guilt and despair.

From an image of such horror she wildly started; and awaking, found Lady Hora­tia Howard sitting by her bed side, holding one of her hands, and gazing on her with great concern.

[Page 266] With the most soothing voice she spoke to Celestina, and endeavoured to quiet the excessive agitation of her spirits. Her rea­sonable and gentle arguments had their de­sired effect; and Celestina, ashamed of ap­pearing insensible to the solicitude of such a friend, summoned all her resolution to her aid, and was able in about an hour to attend the breakfast table with something like composure. Her cheeks, however, had still that crimson glow which the per­turbed state of her mind had given them: her eyes were heavy with tears, which in despite of all her efforts continued to fill them when the image of Willoughby, pale and thin, with anger flashing from his eyes, and contempt trembling on his lips, again arose in her imagination. Lady Horatia looked at her with more than her usual ten­der complacency; for it was when her fine open countenance expressed pensive sorrow, that she was, from her then particularly re­sembling the regretted brother of Lady Horatia, to her more than usually interesting.

[Page 267] Before the breakfast table was removed, Montague Thorold was introduced. He was extremely dejected; and hardly able to return the compliments of Lady Horatia, who was always glad to see him, and who had undoubtedly given him all her interest with Celestina, and more encouragement to pursue his suit than was perhaps strictly pru­dent; since Celestina, though she could not avoid him, though she never could prevail upon herself to behave to him with unkind­ness, and though his talents and conversa­tion, and perhaps that sort of respectful idolatry by which few women can help be­ing gratified however they may wish to re­press it, were, in some degree, pleasing to her, had yet repeatedly declared to Lady Horatia and to Montague Thorold himself, that she felt not, and was persuaded she never should feel for him, that tender preference, without which she never would marry. This declaration they both imputed to that affection for Willoughby, which the uncer­tainty [Page 268] of her own situation continued to nourish. Persuaded as they both were, that Willoughby had promised to become the husband of Miss Fitz Hayman, which every body but Celestina had long believed, Lady Horatia doubted not but that the merit and attachment of Montague Tho­rold, the similarity of their taste, Celestina's regard for his father, and the easy compe­tence which with him she could possess and which she often declared was the condition of life she would prefer, would altogether induce her to reward his ardent affection with her hand, as soon as it became certain that Willoughby, either from interested mo­tives or from conviction of their too near relationship, absolutely and for ever relin­quished all pretensions to it. She was, therefore, glad that the accidental meeting which had so much affected Celestina was likely to hasten this period; and far from seeing it in the unfavourable light Thorold himself did, she told him, as soon as Ce­lestina [Page 269] left the room, that for him no cir­cumstance could be more favourable.

Lady Horatia had long since transferred entirely to Montague Thorold those good wishes which she had at first expressed to­wards Vavasour. His great fortune, his handsome figure, and his apparent affection for Celestina, had for some time interested her for him; and she imputed his extrava­gant vivacity, and even his violent irregu­larities, to his youth and unchecked habits of gratification. Before her, Vavasour had at first so far restrained the intemperate sal­lies of his ungovernable temper, that she was for some time disposed to think well of his heart and his understanding: but soon finding that this semblance of moderation availed him not, and that he gained no­thing on the inflexible heart of Celestina, he became tired of it, and relapsed into such a wild way of talking, and of boasting of ac­tions still wilder, that Lady Horatia was no longer able to excuse him; and though she still received him at her house with civility, [Page 270] she entirely approved of the resolution Ce­lestina had made never to listen to him as a lover.

It was just at that period that Montague Thorold, who on Celestina's first arrival in town had not availed himself of the per­mission he had obtained to see her, came to solicit of Lady Horatia that indulgence, and accounted for his absence by relating a long illness his father had just escaped; in which, as Mrs. Thorold was absent with one of her daughters, he had himself been his only and constant attendant. "You know," said he to Celestina, "how much I love my father, and how well he deserves that I should love him; and you will easily imagine what must have been my anxiety, when, for so many nights and days, I saw him experience the most excruciating tor­tures, and knew his life to be in the most imminent danger. Even the reigning, the triumphant passion of my heart—my love, my adoration of Celestina, was suspended, [Page 271] in the pain and solicitude I suffered for my father."

His looks, which were greatly changed since Celestina saw him before, witnessed how severe this pain and solicitude had been; and Celestina not only forgave, but esteemed him the more for that neglect, which had at first given her a slight degree of mortification. From that time he had constantly visited at the house of Lady Ho­ratia, and from his power of amusing her by reading and conversation, he was be­come so great a favourite, that he had no rival in her good opinion but Celestina her­self. It was at her request he had met them at Oxford, and gone with them to Bath and Bristol. Celestina, who saw but too plainly that all this was but feeding a passion already fatal to the repose of a young man whom she highly esteemed, had in vain remonstrated with Lady Horatia on the subject; who answered, that her pre­sence was a sufficient protection, and that as to his love, he would not indulge it the less [Page 272] for being refused the opportunity of speak­ing of it. To this doctrine Celestina could not assent; but, in her situation, to diffent was of little effect; and all she could do to counteract the effects of this indiscreet in­dulgence of Lady Horatia towards Monta­gue Thorold, was, to declare to him very solemnly, whenever he introduced the sub­ject of his love, which was whenever they were alone, that though her esteem and re­gard for him were very great, she never could think of him otherwise than as her friend: and when he answered, that content with that esteem and regard he should be the happiest of mankind to be permitted by time and tenderness to win her love, she very frankly assured him, that the sentiments which were once her's for Wil­loughby, though towards him they might be at an end, could never, she was well as­sured, be transferred to another.

Montague Thorold, however, young, sanguine, and violently in love, was not easily discouraged; while the favour of [Page 273] Lady Horatia, the wishes of his father, and the complacency and kindness with which, notwithstanding her repeated declarations, Celestina treated him, all contributed to cherish a passion which insensibly absorbed his whole soul. Every action, every senti­ment, every look of Celestina, at once en­creased and justified this excessive passion; and he lived now only to think of her when he was absent, or gaze on her with adora­tion when she was present. Whenever he knew she was to be at any public place, (in­formation which he was very assiduous and very successful in obtaining,) thither he went also; and though, unless he was in­vited, he never introduced himself into the parties she was with, he contrived so to place himself as to be able to see her, and was content.

The extreme dejection with which he had on the last morning entered the house of Lady Horatia, all fled before her assurances that the meeting between Willoughby and Celestina, however she might for a little [Page 274] time be affected by it, would prove of ad­vantage to him. Elated more than ever by hope, he left Lady Horatia, having ob­tained leave to meet them at the opera, whither they were going that evening.

But with poor Celestina it was very dif­ferent: hope had now wholly forsaken her, yet still she clung even to despair, when it gave her an excuse for dwelling on the be­loved and regretted name of Willoughby.

She took out of her dressing box a locket, in which his hair was interwoven with that of his mother and of his sister, and which she had been used when a child to wear round her neck. She looked at it a mo­ment, and remembered a thousand cir­cumstances that brought the tears again into her eyes. She kissed it; she put it to her heart; and that soft heart melting at the tender images this slight memorial pre­sented to it, the resentment which her pride had made her feel the evening before was forgotten; while, unable to bear the thoughts of having seen the last of Willoughby, of [Page 275] his having taken an accidental but eternal leave of her with anger and scorn, she de­termined instantly to execute her purpose formed the evening before, and with a trem­bling and uncertain hand wrote as follows:

Do not think, dear Willoughby, that the unfortunate Celestina means to in­trade upon you with her complaints, or to trouble you, after the present moment, with even her name. But when those recollections which she cannot all at once subdue press upon her heart, she finds it impossible, quite impossible, to submit to take of you an eternal farewel, without entreating, that though we ne­ver meet again, we may part in peace with each other.

I might indeed urge to you, Wil­loughby, that if the account you gave me of our supposed relationship be re­alized, it ought not to excite your anger, but to give me a claim to your protec­tion. If my heart did not, I know not [Page 276] why, revolt from the idea of being so nearly your relation, I might on that score claim your protection and your pity; I might be permitted surely to love you as my brother, since, alas! whe­ther you permit it or no, I must still love you—but with an affection so disin­terested and pure, that, be my situation in regard to you what it may, I feel no­thing for which I ought to blush.

You look very ill, Willoughby. You look unhappy: and on me you looked unkindly. I do not ask to see you, since my accidentally meeting you was evi­dently painful to you; but I ask to have a few lines from you to tell me that you are not ill, that you are not unhappy, and that your once loved Celestina is not become hateful to you. Believe me, I shall rejoice in your happiness where­ever found. Do not then refuse to assist me in obtaining—not happiness, for that is no where to be found for me—but in obtaining that degree of content and re­signation [Page 277] which may enable me to go through life without regretting the hour that I ever received it. This, Willough­by, is in your power, and you must be greatly changed indeed if you refuse, when you can so easily grant the last re­quest that ever will be preferred to you, by the unhappy, but ever grateful and affectionate


Though by no means satisfied with her letter when she had finished it, she despaired of pleasing herself better. She therefore sealed and sent it away by one of the foot­men to the house of Lady Molyneux, as she knew no other address to Willoughby. The servant returned in about half an hour, and told her that Mr. Willoughby was not there, but that he had sent in the letter and received a message that it should be taken care of and delivered to him.

[Page 278] She had flattered herself that if not a kind, at least an immediate answer would put an end to that almost insupportable state of anxiety which she had been in ever since she saw him. If he wrote to her with kindness, it would, she thought, soothe and console her: if he treated her by letter with as much coldness and disdain as he did dur­ing their short interview, she hoped that resentment would support her: and that though her pride might be wounded, her affection would torment her less.

She was now, however, to wait—per­haps a whole day in anxiety; and, what was more dreadful, be compelled to sustain this anxiety under the appearance of calmness if not of cheerfulness; for Lady Horatia, who had made an engagement with some of her friends to go to the opera, whither she seldom went herself, on purpose to gratify Celestina by hearing a new and celebrated performer, did not seem at all disposed to relish the proposal she had ventured to hint at breakfast, of being left out of the party [Page 279] of the evening: and though she was gene­rally very desirous that Celestina should in all such matters follow her own inclinations, yet there were times when she seemed to expect some sacrifices to be made to her.

Her grateful heart was extremely sensible of all the kindness of Lady Horatia; who, from having taken her into her protection quite a stranger, was now so attached to her that her happiness seemed her first ob­ject. Having no very strong affection for her only surviving brother, who was a man immersed in politics and without pretence to natural affection; and having been torn early in life from a man she loved, and mar­ried by her father to one towards whom she was indifferent; having since followed her three children, who alone had reconciled her to her lot, to their early graves; her heart had become insensible to what are commonly called friendships, and she had for some years rather sought to amuse than to connect herself. But the graces of Ce­lestina's mind, the sweetness of her disposi­tion, [Page 280] and the goodness of her heart, had so won upon her, that the apathy of wearied sensibility, which she had so long been in, gradually gave place to an affection almost as tender as she could have felt had she been her mother; and this affection, created by merit, was strengthened by the resemblance which continually struck her between Celes­tina and her younger brother, who lost his life in America, the loss, which, among all her misfortunes, she most severely lamented.

Her encreasing tenderness for Celestina, made her often reflect with uneasiness on her situation, and very earnestly wish to see her married. She was very sensible that her own life was not a good one; for early ca­lamity had shaken her constitution and brought on in the early autumn of her days the infirmities of old age; and she knew, that after having taken her as her daughter, and accustomed her to share all the indul­gencies which her own rank and income procured, it would be a very painful re­verse of fortune were she to leave her in the [Page 281] narrow circumstances in which she found her. To save much out of her jointure had never been her wish, and was hardly now in her power. Her own fortune, in default of children, returned to her brother; and all she had to dispose of was about two thousand pounds. This she gave, by a will made in the fourth month of their being together, to Celestina; and with this, and what she before had, she thought that Ce­lestina might, if married to Montague Tho­rold, enjoy through life that easy compe­tence which was the utmost of her ambi­tion. The embarrassed circumstances of Willoughby, which the good natured world had always exaggerated, and which Lady Horatia had considered as irretrievable; his very expensive place at Alvestone, which she knew it required a large fortune to keep up; the doubtful birth of Celestina, whom she always fancied too nearly related to him; and some prejudice against him, merely because he was the brother of Lady Molyneux, whom she so very much dis­liked; [Page 282] all combined to raise in the mind of Lady Horatia a desire to impede every step towards the re-union of Celestina and Willoughby, and to promote her alliance with Montague Thorold, near whose resi­dence, wherever it was, she proposed to take a house in summer, and to have them frequently with her in winter at her house in town.

Though she had not disclosed all her in­tentions, Celestina yet knew enough to be deeply sensible of the uncommon gene­rosity of her friend, and the whole study of her life was to shew that she was so. She made it a rule never to oppose the wishes of Lady Horatia whenever they were clearly expressed; and therefore it was that she had often, contrary to her own judgment and to her own inclinations, suffered the assi­duities of Montague Thorold; and seemed to the world to give him that encourage­ment, the ill effects of which she endea­voured to counteract, by ingenuously de­claring to him the impossibility of her ever [Page 283] making the return he expected to his affec­tion.

Too certain that Lady Horatia would be disappointed if not displeased if she declined on this evening to go out, and not having courage to tell her the step she had taken in regard to writing to Willoughby, she was compelled to struggle with her uneasi­ness, and to attempt concealing if she could not conquer it: but every rap at the door which seemed to be that of a servant, made her tremble; and while sitting at work be­fore dinner, she could not help going to the window several times, nor listening to every sound that she heard in the hall. Time wore away, and her impatience en­creased, and at length grew so evident that Lady Horatia remarked it. "What is the matter, my dear?" enquired she: "do you expect any one?"

Celestina, conscious that she was betray­ing herself, and fearing least she should be blamed for what she had done, of which she began already to repent as too humiliating, [Page 284] blushed at this question so deeply, that had not Lady Horatia been intent at that mo­ment on her work, her suspicions must have been heightened. Celestina, however, not immediately answering, she repeated her question—"do you expect any body?" Twenty reasons might have been given for her seeming anxiety, and twenty people might have been named as likely to call; but not one of all these occurred to Celes­tina, who was little practised in dissimula­tion: she therefore answered faintly, "no;" and in hopes of turning Lady Horatia's at­tention from her, and of hiding what she felt, she proposed finishing the perusal of a poem which Montague Thorold had began to read the preceding morning.

"Do so," said Lady Horatia.

Celestina took up the book and began; but had no idea of what she was about, and of course read so extremely ill, and so un­like her usual manner, that Lady Horatia, looking at her very earnestly, said "Surely, Celestina—surely something is the matter?"

[Page 285] "No, indeed, Madam," replied she, "nothing except perhaps some slight re­mains of nervous agitation, from the cir­cumstances of last night."

"Try, my dear, to conquer that," re­plied Lady Horatia, "and think of re­gaining the composure you possessed be­fore; which such a circumstance, fairly con­sidered, ought not to destroy."

Celestina sighed; and to avoid the ne­cessity of giving an answer, went on with the book before her. She had hardly, how­ever, read ten lines, when a servant brought in a letter and gave it her. She turned paler than death as she took it, and the book fell from her hands.

Lady Horaria, whose attention was now fixed upon her, eagerly asked from whom was the letter. Celestina had by this time read it; for it was only a note from a young friend, for whose painting she had promised to give some pattern. She put it down: "It is only from Miss Clayton, Madam," said she, "about the patterns I am drawing for her."

[Page 286] "Dear child," cried Lady Horatia, "and is all this trembling and anxiety, this faul­tering and solicitude, about Miss Clayton's patterns? Celestina, I am afraid you are not ingenuous with me. Surely I deserve that you should be so?"

Celestina felt that this accusation, of want of confidence, and the claim made to it, were equally just. The measure she had adopted, at the risque of displeasing her best friend, had produced nothing but some hours of anguish, and would end pro­bably in the conviction that Willoughby despised and contemned her: for it was now five o'clock; and it was very impro­bable that he should not, in all the hours that had intervened since she wrote, have been at his lodgings, or have had time to acknowledge the receipt of her letter. This mortifying reflection, and the consciousness that she ought to have consulted Lady Ho­ratia, quite overwhelmed her. She was pale and silent a moment; and then reco­vering her voice, with difficulty said—"I [Page 287] believe I have acted so foolishly, so im­properly, that I hardly dare hope you will forgive me."

Lady Horatia expressing her uneasiness and surprise, Celestina, in a tremulous voice, told her what she had done. Pity rather than anger was created by the reci­tal. "Certainly, my dear child," said Lady Horatia, "had you consulted me, I should have advised you against writing to Mr. Willoughby. Situated as you both are, no advances should have come from you. If he is convinced that you are so related to him as to make every thought of you, beyond such as that relationship autho­rises, guilty and odious, he should surely, on his coming to England, have sent to you if he was unwilling to see you, and have behaved with humanity and brotherly, tenderness, though love were for ever out of the question: if he is not convinced of it, how will you account for his conduct, but by supposing, that, influenced by pe­cuniary motives or by caprice, he is de­sirous [Page 288] of forgetting all his former affection for you, and yet has not that generous openness of character which would urge him to quit you handsomely."

To the truth of these remarks Celestina had nothing to object; but their justice cruelly depressed her, and her sick heart recoiled from the idea of being obliged to appear in public. Again she ventured ve­ry gently to insinuate a wish to be left at home that evening. "If you are really ill you shall," said Lady Horatia; "but otherwise I hope you will go."

"I am not really ill," replied Celestina, "if your Ladyship means only bodily suf­fering: but my spirits, my mind—"

"For the maladies of those," interrupted Lady Horatia, "there is no remedy more sure than change of scene and variety of amusement; and believe me, dear Celes­tina—believe me, (and I have suffered much from the maladies of the mind,) they only grow by indulgence: if we would conquer, we must contend with and not [Page 289] encourage them.—You will suffer much less to-night, if you are in a circle of friends, who love and admire you, than in brooding at home over the defection of one, who, if he ever did, certainly does not now deserve you.—I beg, therefore, that you will go."

Celestina, unaccustomed to dispute any wish of her friend, yielded, with as good a grace as she could, to her remonstrances; and with a heavy and aching heart, went to finish her dress.

The hour of going out arrived; and Celestina found Montague Thorold, and a Mr. Howard, a relation of Lady Horatia's, ready to attend them.—As there was no escape, she endeavoured to assume the sem­blance of tranquillity, and to talk with them on indifferent matters: but the idea that Willoughby had left London without seeing her; or, being still in it, disdained to answer her letter, and utterly refused to no­tice her; hung so heavy on her heart, that [Page 290] she could with difficulty support herself; while the protracted state, in which she had been since the preceding evening, occa­sioned such a ferment in her blood, that her cheeks were of a feverish crimson; and the languid lustre of her fine eyes never appeared to greater advantage.—Deep sighs, which she tried in vain to suppress, stole from her heart; and Mr. Howard rallied her upon them, with that sort of common­place wit, which is so usual, and so irksome, where there is real uneasiness to contend with: while Montague Thorold answered every sigh of hers, by one yet deeper of his own; and watched every turn of her countenance with trembling solicitude.—Lady Horatia was to join another party at the opera; and Celestina was in hopes, that by obtaining a seat in one of the last rows in the box, she should be excused from the task of seeming to give any at­tention, either to the performance, or the people around her.—This, therefore, she [Page 291] contrived to do, and Montague Thorold placed herself by her.

Her thoughts were engrossed wholly by Willoughby—and by the cruelty of his re­fusing to answer her letter. She saw not the objects about her; she attended not to the humble and plaintive voice of Thorold, who now and then spoke to her; when Lady Horatia Howard turning to her, bade her remark, that into the opposite box had just entered Lady Castlenorth and her daughter.

Celestina instantly saw them, and as in­stantly concluded, that Willoughby's con­duct towards her was owing to his being on the point of marriage with Miss Fitz­Hayman.—She had hardly felt her heart sink under this cruel idea, before Wil­loughby himself appeared; and Lady Castle­worth making room for him, he sat down between her and her daughter.

A look from the penetrating eyes of Lady Horatia Howard made Celestina turn away her head; but she then met the anxious [Page 292] and enquiring eyes of Montague Thorold; and again sought refuge in looking to­wards the pit—hardly knowing where she was, and not daring again to trust herself with the sight of the group placed imme­diately opposite to her. Willoughby saw her not; and after a while, her eyes, in despite of the pain she felt, sought him again.—His countenance did not wear ex­pressions of bridal felicity—he was, she thought, paler and thinner than the night before, and on his brow some corrosive sor­row seemed to hang: but Miss Fitz-Hay­man, gay and animated, talked to him in­cessantly; and both she and her mother en­deavoured to engross his attention by a flow of conversation.—He listened to them—but Celestina fancied, with more politeness than pleasure—He smiled; but she thought his smiles were the smiles of complaisance, and not of content. Still, however, his ap­pearance in public with them was enough to convince her that his marriage was not far off. Her heart sunk at this sad cer­tainty; [Page 293] for though she had long since en­deavoured to wean her mind from the hopes of ever being his, she had still too keen re­collections of that time when it was the first wish of both their hearts; and she was prepossessed with an idea, she hardly knew why, that with Miss Fitz-Hayman, he would be miserable.

That they had been parted by the arti­fice of Lady Castleworth, she now more than ever suspected. But how Willoughby could be cheated into such a belief; and if he was, why he should entirely throw off, as a relation, her whom, as the chosen mistress of his heart, he had so fondly cherished, she could not comprehend; or could she in any way reconcile his conduct with that manly and liberal spirit, which had so eminently marked his character—As she gazed on his face, as on that of a stranger—the husband of Miss Fitz-Hay­man—that face which she had been ac­customed to contemplate with so much tenderness; and when she considered that, [Page 294] lost to her for ever, she now dared no longer look up to him as a friend, whom she had once hoped to find, through life, her fond and generous protector, her re­flections became too bitter; and had she not feared that her going out would have attracted his eyes towards her; and known that Montague Thorold would have at­tended her, which she desired to avoid; she would have returned home—for her suf­ferings were almost insupportable.

She hoped, however, to escape without his seeing her; and shrunk back as much as she could, pretending that her head-ache made the light particularly uneasy to her. Montague Thorold, though knowing too well the real source of her uneasiness was yet as anxious as she was that Willoughby might not see her; and favoured her con­cealment as much as he could.

Towards the end of the opera, however, Willoughby, who seemed very weary of his seat, left it to speak to somebody he saw in the pit—Celestina saw him very near the [Page 295] box where she sat; and became so faint that she was afraid she must have sunk from her seat.—But her sufferings still en­creased, when, a moment afterwards, Mr. Howard, who sat next to her, called to him; and got up to speak to him.—In an­swering his question, Willoughby turned towards him—his eyes immediately fell on Celestina, and Montague Thorold close beside her.—An expression of mingled anger and scorn rose instantly in his coun­tenance; he abruptly broke off his conver­sation with Mr. Howard, and walked away.—In a moment Celestina saw him rejoin Lady Castlenorth, and Miss Fitz-Hayman.—She saw him affect to enter into conver­sation with them; but that it was all effort. His eyes once or twice were turned to­wards her, but immediately withdrawn as if they had met a basilisk; and after a very few minutes, she saw, by his manner, that he complained of the heat of the house, pleaded indisposition, and left them.

Celestina, overwhelmed with sensations [Page 296] too much to be borne, began to think the opera never would end; and that Lady Horatia, who saw her distress, had never before had so little compassion. At length it was finished; and as Montague Thorold handed her to the coach, she besought him not to stay supper, if Lady Horatia should ask him; "for I must in that case stay, you know, to entertain you, and really I am so unwell, that it is cruelty to expect it of me." Gratified by the power of obeying her, even when her wishes were contrary to his own; and full of hope that this last struggle, between her lingering love for Willoughby, and the certainty of his hav­ing left her for another, would terminate in his own favour, Thorold promised to be wholly governed by her, and took his leave at the door.

"Well, Celestina," said Lady Horatia, as soon as they were alone, "you are now, I think, convinced that Willoughby is, like most other men, capricious, and unfeeling.—What was his conduct to-night, but the [Page 297] most insulting that it was possible to assume and after receiving a letter too from you, which you consess was couched in the ten­derest and most submissive terms, which, as a gentleman, he ought to have an­swered, had you never had any claim what­ever upon him.—I hope, and believe, how­ever, that such conduct will have the hap­piest effect—that of weaning you for ever from that excessive partiality, which from early prejudice you always appeared to me to think it a merit to cherish. If he quitted you, as he pretended, on account of the doubts raised in his mind, by that sorceress, Lady Castlenorth, why does he not, those doubts being now certainties, own you as his sister, and become your protector as relation? Why, if they are not ascertained, does he poorly shrink from the enquiry, and evade, under such paltry pretences, the engagements which you would surely release: him from, if told that he no longer wished to accomplish them."

Celestina tried to speak, but could not [Page 298] articulate; and Lady Horatia, whose indig­nation against Willoughby seemed to in­crease by indulgence, went on—"Let me conjure you, then, my dear Celestina, to exert that large share of reason, with which you are endowed; and, expelling from your mind all that has passed, try to look for­ward to happier prospects—to prospects un­clouded, by doubt, and undarkened by the gloomy apprehensions of being despised by the family of your husband, and of be­ing reproached as having embarrassed his fortune. Time and reason, the assiduous tenderness of a man who really adores you, will conquer all remains of regret; and you will, by degrees, learn to think of Wil­loughby, and of all the events of your early life, with the most perfect indiffer­ence.

Celestina thought that was impossible—but altogether unable to enter into the ar­gument, she could only sigh, and in a tre­mulous voice intreat to be permitted to re­tire; saying that, in the morning, she should [Page 299] have, she hoped, more resolution, and have got the better of the agitation of her spirits. Sleep, however, refused to visit her—the image of Willoughby, cruel and capricious as he was, incessantly haunted her. Hav­ing been long used to study his counte­nance, she understood all its expressions; and when she had courage to fix her eyes on him, during the opera, no turn of it escaped her: all the comfort she could de­rive to herself from those observations was, believing that his attention to Miss Fitz­Hayman was forced; and that the solici­tude with which she herself was avoided, arose, rather from some remains of tender­ness, than from total indifference. "Sure­ly," said she, "if he felt nothing for me, he would not fly from me, but treat me with polite indifference; or, with that can­dour and openness of heart which used to be so natural to him; he would avow his designs, and give his reasons for them; for he knows, that be his intentions or his mo­tives what they may, I shall never reproach [Page 300] him; but, whatever I may feel for myself, rejoice, if he can find happiness."

Thus, the real affection of her heart for Willoughby, counteracted the effect of that native pride and dignity of soul, which, under other circumstances, would have sup­ported her; and even of his quitting her, without finding that unanswerable reason for it, which was once supposed to exist, she thought rather in sorrow, than in anger.

The morning came, joyless and uninterest­ing to her—she expected nothing but a re­petition of common, irksome occurrences, with the suspense and misery of not hearing from Willoughby.—Lady Horatia's re­monstrance—Montague Thorold's silent, but assiduous attendance—company whom she wished not to see—or parties abroad that could afford her no pleasure.

The day, and another and another, wore away, and still no letter from Willoughby arrived—the forlorn hope, which she had till now fondly, cherished, that he still re­tained [Page 301] a lingering preference for her in his heart, now faded away; and an almost certain conviction succeeded, that he not only quitted her for ever, but disclaimed her even as a friend; and gave her up in silent contempt, without either offering her the protection of a relation, or feeling for her the regret which the loss of a pleasant ac­quaintance would once, she thought, have given him.

She repented she had concealed the let­ter she had written from Lady Horatia Howard; and while she was conscious that she ought to have no reserves towards her, she felt, that in her present anxious state of suspense, it would be some consolation to talk it over with her friend. But far from soothing her with hope, and attempting to account for the silent neglect of Willough­by, by any means that might palliate its cruelty, Lady Horatia exhorted her, more earnestly than ever, to call off her thoughts from a man, who was considered in every light so unworthy to possess them: and, [Page 302] she urged, more earnestly than she had ever yet done, her wishes, that the tender and generous attachment of Montague Thorold might be immediately rewarded.

Though to the necessity of giving her­self to another, Celestina could by no means agree, yet she felt, that she must either learn to think with more calmness of her eternal separation from Willoughby, or sink under it—for such pain as the undecided wretchedness of the last two or three days had given her, human nature could not long sustain. She promised Lady Horatia that she would endeavour to regain her tran­quillity; but besought her, for a day or two, to excuse her from mixing with com­pany; and that in the mean time nothing might be said to Montague Thorold, to give him more encouragement than he had al­ready received. From the looks of Wil­loughby, when he had seen her with him; and from his present disdainful silence, she supposed that he believed her engaged to him, and either resented her having enter­ed [Page 303] into such an engagement, without con­sulting him, or still felt some pain in be­lieving she had given herself to another—of which, she could not help owning, there was every appearance, from their being so frequently together; and from the report which had gone forth, which her protec­tress had not only left uncontradicted, but had rather encouraged. Of Montague Thorold, therefore, she now thought with concern and disquiet, as being partly the cause of the uneasiness she suffered from the certainty which every hour in its flight confirmed, that Willoughby had taken leave of her for ever.


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