EVELINA; OR, A YOUNG LADY'S ENTRANCE INTO THE WORLD.

VOLUME THE SECOND.

DUBLIN: [...]nted for Messrs. PRICE, CORCORAN, R. CROSS, FISZSIMONS, W. WHITESTONE, CHAMBERLAINE, WILLIAMS, J. HOEY, W. COLLES, E. CROSS, BURNET, WALKER, C. JENKIN, WHITE, J. EXSHAW, J. BEATTY, and G. PERRIN. M.DCC.LXX.IX.

[Page]EVELINA.

LETTER I.
Evelina in continuation.

MADAME Duval rose very late this morn­ing, and at one o'clock, we had but just break­fasted, when Miss Branghton, her brother, Mr. Smith, and Monsieur du Bois, called to enquire after our healths.

This civility in young Branghton, I much sus­pect, was merely the result of his father's com­mands; but his sister and Mr. Smith, I soon found, had motives of their own. Scarce had they spoken to Madame Duval, when, advancing eagerly to me, ‘"Pray, Ma'am,"’ said Mr. Smith, ‘"who was that gentleman?"’

‘"Pray, Cousin,"’ cried Miss Branghton, was ‘"not he the same gentleman you ran away with that night at the opera?"’

‘"Goodness! that he was,"’ said young [Page 4] Branghton; ‘"and I declare, as soon as ever I saw him, I thought I knew his face."’

‘"I'm sure I'll defy you to forget him,"’ an­swered his sister, ‘"if once you had seen him: he is the finest gentleman I ever saw in my life; don't you think so, Mr. Smith?’

‘"Why, you won't give the Lady time to speak,"’ said Mr. Smith.—‘"Pray, Ma'am, what is the gentleman's name?"’

‘"Willoughby, Sir."’

‘"Willoughby! I think I have heard the name. Pray, Ma'am, is he married?"’

‘"Lord, no, that he is not,"’ cried Miss Branghton; ‘"he looks too smart, by a great deal, for a married man. Pray, Cousin, how did you get acquainted with him?"’

‘"Pray, Miss,"’ said young Branghton, in the same breath, ‘"what's his business?"’

‘"Indeed I don't know,"’ answered I.

‘"Something very genteel, I dare say,"’ added Miss Branghton, ‘"because he dresses so fine."’

‘"It ought to be something that brings in a good income."’ said Mr. Smith, ‘"for I'm sure he did not get that suit of cloaths he had on, un­der thirty or forty pounds; for I know the price of Cloaths pretty well; pray, Ma'am, can you tell me what he has a year?"’

‘"Don't talk no more about him;"’ cried Ma­dame Duval, ‘"for I don't like to hear his name; I believe he's one of the worst persons in the world; for, though I never did him no manner of harm, nor so much as hurt a hair of his head, I know he was an accomplice with that fellow, Captain Mirvan, to take away my life."’

Every body, but myself, now crowding around her for an explanation, a violent rapping at the street-door was unheard; and, without any pre­vious notice, in the midst of her narration, Sir [Page 5] Clement Willoughby entered the room. They all started, and, with looks of guilty confusion, as if they feared his resentment for having listened to Madame Duval, they scrambled for Chairs, and, in a moment, were all formally seated.

Sir Clement, after a general bow, singling out Madame Duval, said, with his usual easiness, ‘"I have done myself the honour of waiting on you, Madam, to enquire if you have any commands to Howard Grove, whither I am going to-mor-row morning."’

Then, seeing the storm that gathered in her eyes, before he allowed her time to answer, he addressed himself to me;—‘"And, if you, Ma­dam, have any with which you will honour me, I shall be happy to execute them."’

‘"None at all, Sir."’

‘"None! not to Miss Mirvan!—no message! no letter!—"’

‘"I wrote to Miss Mirvan yesterday by the post."’

‘"My application should have been earlier, had I sooner known your address."’

‘"Ma foi,"’ cried Madame Duval, recovering from her surprize, ‘"I believe never nobody saw the like of this!"’

‘"Of what! Madam!"’ cried the undaunted Sir Clement, turning quick towards her, ‘"I hope no one has offended you!"’

‘"You don't hope no such a thing!"’ cried she, half choaked with passion, and rising from her chair. This motion was followed by the rest, and, in a moment, every body stood up.

Still Sir Clement was not abashed; affecting to make a bow of acknowledgment to the company in general, he said ‘"Pary—I beg—Ladies,—pray Gentlemen,—don't let me disturb you, pray keep your seats."’

[Page 6] ‘"Pray, Sir,"’ said Miss Branghton, moving a chair towards him, ‘"won't you sit down your­self?"’

‘"You are extremely good, Ma'am: rather than make any disturbance—"’

And so saying, this strange man seated himself, as did, in an instant, every body else, even Ma­dame Duval herself, who, overpowered by his boldness, seemed too full for utterance.

He then, and with as much composure as if he had been an expected guest, began to discourse on the weather,—its uncertainty, the heat of the public places in summer, the emptiness of the town, and other such common topics.

Nobody, however, answered him; Mr. Smith seemed afraid, young Branghton ashamed, M. Du Bois amazed, Madame Duval enraged, and myself determined not to interfere. All that he could obtain, was the notice of Miss Branghton, whose nods, smiles, and attention, had some ap­pearance of entering into conversation with him.

At length, growing tired, I suppose of engag­ing every body's eyes, and nobody's tongue, ad­dressing himself to Madame Duval and to me, he said, ‘"I regard myself as peculiarly unfortunate, Ladies, in having fixed upon a time for my visit to Howard Grove, when you are absent from it."’

‘"So I suppose, Sir, so I suppose,"’ cried Madame Duval, hastily rising, and the next mo­ment as hastily seating herself, ‘"you'll be a want­ing of somebody to make your game of, and so you may think to get me there again;—but I pro­mise you, Sir, you won't find it so easy a matter to make me a fool: and besides that,"’ raising her voice, ‘"I've found you out, I assure you; so if ever you go to play your tricks upon me again, I'll make no more ado, but go directly to a justice of peace; so, Sir, if you can't think of [Page 7] nothing but making people ride about the Coun­try, at all hours of the night, just for your di­version, why you'll find I know some justices, as well as Justice Tyrrel."’

Sir Clement was evidently embarrassed at this attack; yet he affected a look of surprize, and protested he did not understand her meaning.

‘"Well"’ cried she, ‘"if I don't wonder where people can get such impudence! if you'll say that, you'll say any thing; however, if you swear till you're black in the face, I shan't be­lieve you; for nobody shan't persuade me out of my senses, that I'll promise you."’

‘"Doubtless not, Madam,"’ answered he, with some hesitation, ‘"and I hope you do not suspect I ever had such an intention; my respect for you—"’

‘"O Sir, you're vastly polite, all of a sud­den! but I know what it's all for;—it's only for what you can get!—you cou'd treat me like no­body at Howard Grove—but now you see I've a house of my own, you've a mind to wheedle yourself into it; but I sees your design, so you need n't trouble yourself to take no more trouble about that, for you shall never get nothing at my house,—not so much as a dish of tea:—so now, Sir, you see I can play you trick for trick."’

There was something so extremely gross in this speech, that it even disconcerted Sir Clement, who was too much confounded to make any an­swer.

It was curious to observe the effect which his embarrassment added to the freedom with which Madame Duval addressed him, had upon the rest of the company: every one, who, before, seem­ed at a loss how, or if at all, to occupy a chair, now filled it with the most easy composure: and [Page 8] Mr. Smith, whose countenance had exhibited the most striking picture of mortified envy, now be­gan to recover his usual expression of satisfied con­ceit.

Young Branghton, too, who had been appa­rently awed by the presence of so fine a gentle­man, was again himself, rude and familiar, while his mouth was wide distended into a broad grin, at hearing his Aunt give the beau such a trim­ming.

Madame Duval, encouraged by this success, looked around her with an air of triumph, and continued her harangue: ‘"And so, Sir, I sup­pose you thought to have had it all your own way, and to have comed here as often as you pleased, and to have got me to Howard Grove again, on purpose to have served me as you did before; but you shall see I'm as cunning as you, so you may go and find somebody else to use in that manner, and to put your mask on, and to make a fool of; for as to me, if you go to tell me your stories about the Tower again, for a month toge­ther, I'll never believe 'em no more; and I'll promise you, Sir, if you think I like such jokes, you'll find I'm no such person."’

‘"I assure you, Ma'am,—upon my honour—I really don't comprehend—I fancy there is some misunderstanding—"’

‘"What, I suppose you'll tell me next you don't know nothing of the matter?"’

‘"Not a word, upon my honour."’

O Sir Clement! thought I, is it thus you prize your honour!

‘"Pardie,"’ cried Madame Duval, ‘"this is the most provokingest part of all! why you might as well tell me I don't know my own name."’

[Page 9] ‘"Here is certainly some mistake; for I assure you, Ma'am—"’

‘"Don't assure me nothing,"’ cried Madame Duval, raising her voice, ‘"I know what I'm saying, and so do you too; for did not you tell me all that about the Tower; and about M. Du Bois?—why M. Du Bois was n't never there, nor nigh it, and so it was all your own invention."’

‘"May there not be two persons of the same name? the mistake was but natural—"’

‘"Don't tell me of no mistake, for it was all on purpose; besides, did not you come, all in a mask, to the chariot door, and help to get me put in that ditch?—I'll promise you, I've had the greatest mind in the world to take the law of you, and if ever you do as much again, so I will, I assure you!"’

Here Miss Branghton tittered; Mr. Smith smiled contemptuously, and young Branghton thrust his handkerchief into his mouth to stop his laughter.

The situation of Sir Clement, who saw all that passed, became now very awkward, even to him­self, and he stammered very much in saying, ‘"surely, Madam—surely you—you cannot do me the—the injustice to think—that I had any share in the—the—the misfortune which—"’

‘"Ma foi, Sir,"’ cried Madame Duval, with encreasing passion, ‘"you'd best not stand talking to me at that rate; I know it was you,—and if you stay there, provoking me in such a manner, I'll send for a Constable this minute."’

Young Branghton, at these words, in spite of all his efforts, burst into a loud laugh; nor could either his sister, or Mr. Smith, though with more moderation, forbear joining in his mirth.

Sir Clement darted his eyes towards them, with looks of the most angry contempt, and then [Page 10] told Madame Duval, that he would not now detain her, to make his vindication, but would wait on her some time when she was alone.

‘"O pardie, Sir,"’ cried she, ‘"I don't desire none of your company; and if you was n't the most impudentest person in the world, you would not dare look me in the face."’

The ha, ha, ha's, and he, he, he's, grew more and more uncontroulable, as if the restraint from which they had burst, had added to their vi­olence. Sir Clement could no longer endure be­ing the object who excited them, and, having no answer ready for Madame Duval, he hastily stalked towards Mr. Smith and young Branghton, and sternly demanded what they laughed at?

Struck by the air of Importance which he as­sumed, and alarmed at the angry tone of his voice, their merriment ceased, as instantaneously as if it had been directed by clock-work, and they stared foolishly, now at him, now at each other, without making any answer but a simple ‘"No­thing, Sir!"’

‘"O pour le coup,"’ cried Madame Duval, ‘"this is too much! pray, Sir, what business have you to come here a ordering people that comes to see me? I suppose, next, nobody must laugh but yourself!"’

‘"With me, Madam,"’ said Sir Clement, bowing, ‘"a lady may do any thing, and, conse­quently, there is no liberty in which I shall not be happy to indulge you:—but it has never been my custom to give the same licence to gentlemen."’

Then, advancing to me, who had sat very qui­etly, on a window, during this scene, he said," ‘Miss Anville, I may at least acquaint our friends at Howard Grove, that I had the honour of leav­ing you in good health,"’ and then, lowering his voice, he added, ‘"For Heaven's sake, my [Page 11] dearest creature, who are these people? and how came you so strangely situated?"’

‘"I beg my respects to all the family, Sir,"’ answered I, aloud, ‘"and I hope you will find them well."’

He looked at me reproachfully, but kissed my hand; and then, bowing to Madame Duval and Miss Branghton, passed hastily by the men, and made his exit.

I fancy he will not be very eager to repeat his visits, for I should imagine he has rarely, if ever, been before in a situation so awkward and disa­greeable.

Madame Duval has been all spirits and exulta­tion ever since he went, and only wishes Captain Mirvan would call, that she might do the same by him. Mr. Smith, upon hearing that he was a baronet, and seeing him drive off in a very beau­tiful chariot, declared that he would not have laughed upon any account, had he known his rank, and regretted extremely having missed such an opportunity of making so genteel an acquaint­ance. Young Branghton vowed, that, if he had known as much, he would have asked for his cus­tom: and his sister has sung his praises ever since, protesting she thought, all along, he was a man of quality by his look.

LETTER II.
Evelina in continuation.

THE last three evenings have passed tolerably quiet, for the Vauxhall adventures had given Madame Duval a surfeit of public places: home [Page 12] however, soon growing tiresome, she determined to­night, she said, to relieve her ennui, by some amusement; and it was therefore settled that we should call upon the Branghtons, at their house, and thence proceed to Marybone Gardens.

But, before we reached Snow-Hill, we were caught in a shower of rain: we hurried into the shop, where the first object I saw was Mr. Ma­cartney, with a book in his hand, seated in the same corner where I saw him last; but his looks were still more wretched than before, his face yet thinner, and his eyes sunk almost hollow into his head. He lifted them up as we entered, and I even thought that they emitted a gleam of joy: involuntarily, I made to him my first courtesy; he rose and bowed, with a precipitation that ma­nifested surprize and confusion.

In a few minutes, we were joined by all the family, except Mr. Smith, who, fortunately, was engaged.

Had all the future prosperity of our lives de­pended upon the good or bad weather of this evening, it could not have been treated as a sub­ject of greater importance. ‘"Sure never any thing was so unlucky!—"’ ‘"Lord, how provok­ing!—"’ ‘"It might rain for ever, if it would hold up now!—"’ These, and such expressions, with many anxious observations upon the kennels, filled up all the conversation till the shower was over.

And then a very warm debate arose, whether we should pursue our plan, or defer it to some finer evening; Miss Branghtons were for the for­mer; their father was sure it would rain again; Madame Duval, though she detested returning home, yet dreaded the dampness of the gardens.

M. Du Bois then proposed going to the top of [Page 13] the house, to examine whether the clouds looked threatening or peaceable; Miss Branghton starting at this proposal, said they might go to Mr. Ma­cartney's room, if they would, but not to her's.

This was enough for the brother; who, with a loud laugh, declared he would have some fun, and immediately led the way, calling to us all to follow. His sisters both ran after him, but no one else moved.

In a few minutes, young Branghton, coming half way down stairs, called out, ‘"Lord, why don't you all come? why here's Poll's things all about the room!’

Mr. Branghton then went, and Madame Du­val, who cannot bear to be excluded from whate­ver is going forward, was handed up stairs by M. Du Bois.

I hesitated a few moments whether or not to join them; but, soon perceiving that Mr. Ma­cartney had dropped his book, and that I en­grossed his whole attention, I prepared, from mere embarrassment, to follow them.

As I went, I heard him move from his chair, and walk slowly after me. Believing that he wished to speak to me, and earnestly desiring my­self to know if, by your means, I could possibly be of any service to him, I first slackened my pace, and then turned back. But, though I thus met him half-way, he seemed to want courage or resolution to address me; for, when he saw me returning, with a look extremely disordered, he retreated hastily from me.

Not knowing what I ought to do, I went to the street-door, where I stood some time, hoping he would be able to recover himself: but, on the con­trary, his agitation encreased every moment; he walked up and down the room; in a quick, but [Page 14] unsteady pace, seeming equally distressed and irresolute: and, at length, with a deep sigh, he flung himself into a chair.

I was so much affected by the appearance of such extreme anguish, that I could remain no lon­ger in the room; I therefore glided by him, and went up stairs; but, ere I had gone five steps, he precipitately followed me, and, in a broken voice, called out, ‘"Madam!—for Heaven's sake—"’

He stopped, but I instantly descended, restrain­ing, as well as I was able, the fullness of my own concern. I waited some time in painful expectati­on, for his speaking: all that I had heard of his poverty, occurring to me, I was upon the point of presenting him my purse, but the fear of mistak­ing or offending him, deterred me. Finding, however, that he continued silent, I ventured to say, ‘"Did you—Sir, wish to speak to me?"’

‘"I did!"’ cried he, with quickness, ‘"but now—I cannot!"’

‘"Perhaps, Sir, another time,—perhaps if you recollect yourself—"’

‘"Another time!"’ repeated he mournfully, ‘"alas! I look not forward but to misery and de­spair!"’

‘"O Sir,"’ cried I, extremely shocked, ‘"you must not talk thus!—if you forsake yourself, how can you expect—"’

I stopped. ‘"Tell me, tell me,’ "cried he, with eagerness, ‘"who you are?—whence you come?—and by what strange means you seem to be arbitress and ruler of the destiny of such a wretch as I am?"’

‘"Would to Heaven,"’ cried I, ‘"I could serve you!"’

‘"You can!"’

[Page 15] ‘"And how? pray tell me how?"’

‘"To tell you—is death to me! yet I will tell you,—I have a right to your assistance,—you have deprived me of the only resource to which I could apply,—and therefore—"’

‘"Pray, pray, speak;"’ cried I, putting my hand into my pocket, ‘"they will be down stairs in a moment!"’

‘"I will, Madam.—Can you—will you—I think you will!—may I then—"’ he stopped and paused, ‘"say, will you—"’ then suddenly turning from me, ‘"Great Heaven! I cannot speak!"’ and he went back to the shop.

I now put my purse in my hand, and following him, said, ‘"If indeed, Sir, I can assist you, why should you deny me so great a satisfaction? Will you permit me to—"’

I dared not go on; but with a countenance ve­ry much softened, he approached me, and said, ‘"Your voice, Madam, is the voice of Com­passion!—such a voice as these ears have long been strangers to!"’

Just then, young Branghton called out vehe­mently to me, to come up stairs; I seized the op­portunity of hastening away: and therefore say­ing, ‘"Heaven, Sir, protect and comfort you!—"’ I let fall my purse upon the ground, not daring to present it to him, and ran up stairs with the utmost swiftness.

Too well do I know you, my ever honoured Sir, to fear your displeasure for this action: I must, however, assure you I shall need no fresh supply during my stay in town, as I am at little expence, and hope soon to return to Howard Grove.

Soon, did I say! when not a fortnight is yet [Page 16] expired, of the long and tedious month I must linger out here!

I had many witticisms to endure from the Branghtons, upon account of my staying so long with the Scotch mope, as they call him; but I at­tend to them very little, for my whole heart was filled with pity and concern. I was very glad to find the Marybone scheme was deferred, another shower of rain having put a stop to the dissention upon this subject; the rest of the evening was employed in most violent quarrelling between Miss Polly and her brother, on account of the discovery made by the latter, of the state of her apartment.

We came home early; and I have stolen from Madame Duval and M. Du Bois, who is here for ever, to write to my best friend.

I am most sincerely rejoiced that this opportu­nity has offered for my contributing what little re­lief was in my power, to this unhappy man; and I hope it will be sufficient to enable him to pay his debts to this pitiless family.

LETTER III.
Mr. Villars to Evelina.

DISPLEASURE? my Evelina!—you have but done your duty; you have but shewn that humanity without which I should blush to own my child. It is mine, however, to see that your generosity be not repressed by your suffering from indulging it; I remit to you, therefore, not merely a token of my approbation, but an ac­knowledgment of my desire to participate in your charity.

[Page 17] O my child, were my fortune equal to my con­fidence in thy benevolence, with what transport should I, through thy means, devote it to the re­lief of indigent virtue! yet let us not repine at the limitation of our power, for, while our boun­ty is proportioned to our ability, the difference of the greater or less donation, can weigh but little in the scale of Justice.

In reading your account of the misguided man, whose misery has so largely excited your compas­sion, I am led to apprehend, that his unhappy si­tuation is less the effect of misfortune, than of misconduct. If he is reduced to that state of poverty represented by the Branghtons, he should endeavour by activity and industry to retrieve his affairs; and not pass his time in idle reading in the very shop of his creditor.

The pistol scene made me shudder: the cou­rage with which you pursued this desperate man, at once delighted and terrified me. Be ever thus, my dearest Evelina, dauntless in the cause of dis­tress! let no weak fears, no timid doubts, deter you from the exertion of your duty, according to the fullest sense of it that Nature has implanted in your mind. Though gentleness and Modesty are the peculiar attributes of your sex, yet fortitude and firmness, when occasion demands them, are vir­tues as noble and as becoming in women as in men: the right line of conduct is the same for both sex­es, though the manner in which it is pursued, may somewhat vary, and be accommodated to the strength or weakness of the different travellers.

There is, however, something so mysterious in all you have yet seen or heard of this wretched man, that I am unwilling to stamp a bad impres­sion of his character, upon so slight and partial a knowledge of it. Where any thing is doubtful, the ties of society, and the laws of humanity, [Page 18] claim a favourable interpretation; but remember, my dear child, that those of discretion have an equal claim to your regard.

As to Sir Clement Willoughby, I know not how to express my indignation at his conduct. Insolence so unsufferable, and the implication of suspicions so shocking, irritate me to a degree of wrath, which I hardly thought my almost worn­out passions were capable of again experiencing. You must converse with him no more; he ima­gines, from the pliability of your temper, that he may offend you with impunity; but his beha­viour justifies, nay, calls for, your avowed re­sentment: do not, therefore, hesitate in forbid­ding him your sight.

The Branghtons, Mr. Smith, and young Brown, however ill-bred and disagreeable, are objects too contemptible for serious displeasure: yet I grieve much that my Evelina should be ex­posed to their rudeness and impertinence.

The very day that this tedious month expires, I shall send Mrs. Clinton to town, who will ac­company you to Howard Grove. Your stay there will, I hope, be short, for I feel daily an encreasing impatience to fold my beloved child to my bosom!

ARTHUR VILLARS.

LETTER IV.
Evelina to the Rev. Mr. Villars.

I HAVE just received, my dearest Sir, your kind present, and still kinder letter. Surely never had orphan so little to regret as your grateful [Page 19] Evelina! though motherless, though worse than fatherless, bereft from infancy of the two first and greatest blessings of life, never has she had cause to deplore their loss; never has she felt the omis­sion of a parent's tenderness, care, or indulgence; never, but from sorrow for them, had reason to grieve at the separation! Most thankfully do I receive the token of your approbation, and most studiously will I endeavour so to dispose of it, as may merit your generous confidence in my con­duct.

Your doubts concerning Mr. Macartney give me some uneasiness. Indeed, Sir, he has not the appearance of a man whose sorrows are the effect of guilt. But I hope, ere I leave town, to be better acquainted with his situation, and enabled with more certainty of his worth, to recommend him to your favour.

I am very willing to relinquish all acquaintance with Sir Clement Willoughby, as far as it may de­pend upon myself so to do; but indeed, I know not how I should be able to absolutely forbid him my sight.

Miss Mirvan, in her last letter, informs me that he is now at Howard Grove, where he continues in high favour with the Captain, and is the life and spirit of the house. My time, since I wrote last, has passed very quietly; Madame Duval having been kept at home by a bad cold, and the Branghtons by bad weather. The young man, indeed, has called two or three times, and his behaviour, though equally absurd, is more unaccountable than ever: he speaks very little, takes hardly any notice of Madame Duval, and never looks at me, without a broad grin. Some­times he approaches me, as if with intention to [Page 20] communicate intelligence of importance, and then, suddenly stopping short, laughs rudely in my face.

O how happy shall I be, when the worthy Mrs. Clinton arrives!

Yesterday Morning, Mr. Smith called, to ac­quaint us that the Hampstead assembly was to be held that evening; and then he presented Ma­dame Duval with one ticket, and brought another to me. I thanked him for his intended civility, but told him I was surprized he had so soon forgot my having already declined going to the ball.

‘"Lord, Ma'am,"’ cried he, ‘"how should I suppose you were in earnest? come, come, don't be cross; here's your Grandmama ready to take care of you, so you can have no fair objection, for she'll see that I don't run away with you. Be­sides, Ma'am, I got the tickets on purpose."’

‘"If you were determined, Sir,"’ said I, ‘"in making me this offer, to allow me no choice of re­fusal or acceptance, I must think myself less oblig­ed to your intention, than I was willing to do.’

‘"Dear Ma'am,"’ cried he, ‘"you're so smart, there is no speaking to you;—indeed, you are monstrous smart, Ma'am! but come, your Grandmama shall ask you, and then I know you'll not be so cruel."’

Madame Duval was very ready to interfere; she desired me to make no further opposition, said she should go herself, and insisted upon my accompanying her. It was in vain that I remon­strated; I only incurred her anger, and Mr. Smith, having given both the tickets to Madame Duval, with an air of triumph, said he should call early in the evening, and took leave.

I was much chagrined at being thus compelled to owe even the shadow of an obligation to so for­ward [Page 21] a young man; but I determined that nothing should prevail upon me to dance with him, how­ever my refusal might give offence.

In the afternoon, when he returned, it was evident that he purposed to both charm and asto­nish me by his appearance; he was dressed in a very shewy manner, but without any taste, and the inelegant smartness of his air and deport­ment, his visible struggle, against education, to put on the fine gentleman, added to his frequent conscious glances at a dress to which he was but little accustomed, very effectually destroyed his aim of figuring, and rendered all his efforts use­less.

During tea, entered Miss Branghton and her brother. I was sorry to observe the consternation of the former, when she perceived Mr. Smith. I had intended applying to her for advice upon this occasion, but been always deterred by her disa­greeable abruptness. Having cast her eyes seve­ral times from Mr. Smith to me, with manifest displeasure, she seated herself sullenly in the win­dow, scarce answering Madame Duval's enqui­ries, and, when I spoke to her, turning abso­lutely away from me.

Mr. Smith, delighted at this mark of his im­portance, sat indolently quiet on his chair, endea­vouring by his looks rather to display, than to conceal, his inward satisfaction.

‘"Good gracious!"’ cried young Branghton, ‘"why, you're all as fine as five-pence! Why, where are you going?"’

‘"To the Hampstead Ball,"’ answered Mr. Smith.

‘"To a ball!"’ cried he, ‘"Why, what, is Aunt going to a ball? Ha, ha, ha!"’

[Page 22] ‘"Yes, to be sure,"’ cried Madame Duval; ‘"I don't know nothing need hinder me."’

‘"And pray, Aunt, will you dance too?"’

‘"Perhaps I may; but I suppose, Sir, that's none of your business, whether I do or not."’

‘"Lord! well, I should like to go! I should like to see Aunt dance, of all things! But the joke is, I don't believe she'll get ever a partner.’

‘"You're the most rudest boy ever I see,"’ cried Madame Duval, angrily: ‘"but, I promise you, I'll tell your father what you say, for I've no notion of such rudeness."’

‘"Why, Lord, Aunt, what are you so angry for? there's no speaking a word, but you fly in­to a passion: you're as bad as Biddy or Poll for that, for you're always a scolding."’

‘"I desire, Tom,"’ cried Miss Branghton, ‘"you'd speak for yourself, and not make so free with my name."’

‘"There, now, she's up! there's nothing but quarrelling with the women: it's my belief they like it better than victuals and drink."’

‘"Fie, Tom,"’ cried Mr. Smith, ‘"you ne­ver remember your manners before the ladies: I'm sure you never heard me speak so rude to them."’

‘"Why, Lord, you are a beau; but that's nothing to me. So, if you've a mind, you may be so polite as to dance with Aunt yourself."’ Then with a loud laugh, he declared it would be good fun to see them.

‘"Let it be never so good, or never so bad,"’ cried Madame Duval, ‘"you won't see nothing of it, I promise you; so pray don't let me hear no more of such vulgar pieces of fun; for, I as­sure you, I don't like it. And as to my dancing [Page 23] with Mr. Smith, you may see wonderfuller things than that any day in the week."’

‘"Why, as to that, Ma'am,"’ said Mr. Smith, looking much surprised, ‘"I always thought you intended to play at cards, and so I thought to dance with the young lady."’

I gladly seized this opportunity to make my declaration, that I should not dance at all.

‘"Not dance at all!"’ repeated Miss Brangh­ton; ‘"yes, that's a likely matter truly, when peo­ple go to balls."’

‘"I wish she mayn't,"’ said the brother; ‘"cause then Mr. Smith will have nobody but Aunt for a partner. Lord, how mad he'll be!"’

‘"O, as to that,"’ said Mr. Smith, ‘"I do'nt at all fear prevailing with the young lady, if once I get her to the room."’

‘"Indeed, Sir,"’ cried I, much offended by his conceit, ‘"you are mistaken; and therefore I beg leave to undeceive you, as you may be assur­ed my resolution will not alter."’

‘"Then pray, Miss, if it is not impertinent,"’ cried Miss Branghton, sneeringly, ‘"What do you go for?"’

‘"Merely and solely,"’ answered I, ‘"to com­ply with the request of Madame Duval."’

‘"Miss,’ cried young Branghton, ‘"Bid only wishes it was she, for she has cast a sheep's-eye at Mr. Smith this long while."’

‘"Tom,"’ cried the sister, rising, ‘"I've the greatest mind in the world to box your ears! How dare you say such a thing of me?"’

‘"No, hang it, Tom, no, that's wrong,"’ said Mr. Smith, simpering, ‘"it is indeed, to tell the lady's secrets.—But never mind him, Miss Biddy, for I won't believe him."’

‘"Why, I know Bid would give her ears to [Page 24] go,"’ returned the brother; ‘"but only Mr. Smith likes Miss best,—so does every body else."’

While the sister gave him a very angry answer, Mr. Smith said to me, in a low voice, ‘"Why now, Ma'am, how can you be so cruel as to be so much handsomer than your cousins? Nobody can look at them when you are by."’

‘"Miss,"’ cried young Branghton, ‘"what­ever he says to you, don't mind him, for he means no good; I'll give you my word for it, he'll never marry you, for he has told me again and again, he'll never marry as long as he lives; besides, if he'd any mind to be married, there's Bid would have had him long ago, and thanked him too."’

‘"Come, come, Tom, don't tell secrets; you'll make the ladies afraid of me: but I assure you,"’ lowering his voice, ‘"if I did marry, it should be your cousin."’

Should be!—did you ever, my dear Sir, hear such unauthorised freedom? I looked at him with a contempt I did not wish to express, and walked to the other end of the room.

Very soon after, Mr. Smith sent for a hackney­coach. When I would have taken leave of Miss Branghton, she turned angrily from me, without making any answer. She supposes, perhaps, that I have rather sought, than endeavoured to a­void, the notice and civilities of this conceited young man.

The ball was at the long room at Hampstead.

This room seems very well named, for I be­lieve it would be difficult to find any other epi­thet which might, with propriety, distinguish it, as it is without ornament, elegance, or any sort of singularity, and merely to be marked by its length.

[Page 25] I was saved from the importunities of Mr. Smith, the beginning of the evening, by Madame Duval's declaring her intention to dance the two first dances with him herself. Mr. Smith's chagrin was very evident, but as she paid no regard to it, he was necessitated to lead her out.

I was, however, by no means pleased, when she said she was determined to dance a minuet. Indeed I was quite astonished, not having had the least idea she would have consented to, much less proposed, such an exhibition of her person.

She had some trouble to make her intentions known, as Mr. Smith was rather averse to speak­ing to the Master of the ceremonies.

During this minuet, how much did I rejoice in being surrounded only with strangers! She danced in a style so uncommon; her age, her showy dress, and an unusual quantity of rouge, drew upon her the eyes, and, I fear, the derision of the whole company. Who she danced with, I know not; but Smith was so ill-bred as to laugh at her very openly, and to speak of her with as much ridi­cule as was in his power. But I would neither look at, nor listen to him; nor would I suffer him to proceed with a speech which he began, expressive of his vexation at being forced to dance with her. I told him, very gravely, that complaints upon such a subject might, with less impropriety, be made to every person in the room, than to me.

When she returned to us, she distressed me ve­ry much, by asking what I thought of her minu­et. I spoke as civilly as I could, but the coldness of my compliment evidently disappointed reh. She then called upon Mr. Smith to secure a good [Page 26] place among the country-dancers; and away they went, though not before he had taken the liberty to say to me in a low voice, ‘"I protest to you, Ma'am, I shall be quite out of counte­nance, if any of my acquaintance should see me dancing with the old lady!"’

For a few moments I very much rejoiced at be­ing relieved from this troublesome man; but scarce had I time to congratulate myself, ere I was accosted by another, who begged the favour of hopping a dance with me.

I told him that I should not dance at all; but he thought proper to importune me, very freely, not to be so cruel; and I was obliged to assume no little haughtiness ere I could satisfy him I was serious.

After this, I was addressed, much in the same manner, by several other young men, of whom the appearance and language were equally inele­gant and low-bred: so that I soon found my situ­ation was both disagreeable and improper; since, as I was quite alone, I fear I must seem rather to invite, than to forbid, the offers and notice I re­ceived. And yet, so great was my apprehension of this interpretation, that I am sure, my dear Sir, you would have laughed had you seen how proud­ly grave I appeared.

I knew not whether to be glad or sorry, when Madame Duval and Mr. Smith returned. The latter instantly renewed his tiresome entreaties, and Madame Duval said she would go to the card­table: and, as soon as she was accommodated, she desired us to join the dancers.

I will not trouble you with the arguments that followed. Mr. Smith teazed me till I was weary of resistance; and I should at last have been ob­liged to submit, had I not fortunately recollected [Page 27] the affair of Mr. Lovel, and told my persecutor, that it was impossible I should dance with him, even if I wished it, as I had refused several persons in his absence.

He was not contented with being extremely chagrined, but took the liberty, openly and warm­ly, to expostulate with me upon not having said I was engaged.

The total disregard with which, involuntarily, I heard him, made him soon change the subject. In truth, I had no power to attend to him, for all my thoughts were occupied in re-tracing the trans­actions of the two former balls at which I had been present. The party—the conversation—the com­pany—O how great the contrast!

In a short time, however, he contrived to draw my attention to himself, by his extreme imperti­nence; for he chose to express what he called his admiration of me, in terms so open and familiar, that he forced me to express my displeasure with equal plainness.

But how was I surprised, when I found he had the temerity—what else can I call it?—to impute my resentment to doubts of his honour; for he said, ‘"My dear Ma'am, you must be a little pa­tient; I assure you I have no bad designs, I have not, upon my word; but, really, there is no re­solving upon such a thing as matrimony all at once; what with the loss of one's liberty, and what with the ridicule of all one's acquaintance,—I assure you, Ma'am, you are the first lady who ever made me even demur upon this subject; for, after all, my dear Ma'am, marriage is the devil!"’

‘"Your opinion, Sir,"’ answered I, ‘"of either the married or the single life, can be of no man­ner of consequence to me, and therefore I would [Page 28] by no means trouble you to discuss their different merits."’

‘"Why, really, Ma'am, as to your being a lit­tle out of sorts, I must own I can't wonder at it, for, to be sure, marriage is all in all with the la­dies; but with us gentlemen it's quite another thing! Now only put yourself in my place,—sup­pose you had such a large acquaintance of gentle­men as I have,—and that you had always been used to appear a little—a little smart among them,—why now, how should you like to let yourself down all at once into a married man?"’

I could not tell what to answer; so much con­ceit, and so much ignorance, both astonished and silenced me.

‘"I assure you, Ma'am,"’ added he, ‘"there is not only Miss Biddy,—though I should have scorned to mention her, if her brother had not blab'd, for I'm quite particular in keeping ladies secrets,—but there are a great many other ladies that have been proposed to me,—but I never thought twice of any of them,—that is, not in a serious way,—so you may very well be proud,"’ offering to take my hand, ‘"for I assure you, there is nobody so likely to catch me at last as yourself."’

‘"Sir,"’ cried I, drawing myself back as haugh­tily as I could, ‘"you are totally mistaken, if you imagine you have given me any pride I felt not be­fore, by this conversation; on the contrary, you must allow me to tell you, I find it too humilia­ting to bear with it any longer."’

I then placed myself behind the chair of Madame Duval; who, when she heard of the partners I had refused, pitied my ignorance of the world, but no longer insisted upon my dancing.

[Page 29] Indeed, the extreme vanity of this man makes me exert a spirit which I did not, till now know that I possessed: but I cannot endure that he should think me at his disposal.

The rest of the evening passed very quietly, as Mr. Smith did not attempt again to speak to me; except, indeed, after we had left the room, and while Madame Duval was seating herself in the coach, he said, in a voice of pique, ‘"Next time I take the trouble to get any tickets for a young lady, I'll make a bargain beforehand that she sha'n't turn me over to her grandmother."’

We came home very safe; and thus ended this so long projected, and most disagreeable affair.

LETTER V.
Evelina in continuation.

I HAVE just received a most affecting letter from Mr. Macartney. I will inclose it, my dear Sir, for your perusal. More than ever have I cause to rejoice that I was able to assist him.

Mr. Macartney to Miss Anville.

Madam,

IMPRESSED with the deepest, the most heart-felt sense of the exalted humanity with which you have rescued from destruction an un­happy stranger, allow me, with the humblest gra­titude, to offer you my fervent acknowledgments, and to implore your pardon for the terror I have caused you.

You bid me, Madam, live: I have now, in­deed, a motive for life, since I should not willing­ly [Page 30] quit the world, while I withhold from the needy and distressed any share of that charity which a disposition so noble would, otherwise, bestow up­on them.

The benevolence with which you have interest­ed yourself in my concerns, induces me to suppose you would wish to be acquainted with the cause of that desperation from which you snatched me, and the particulars of that misery of which you have, so wonderfully, been a witness. Yet, as this ex­planation will require that I should divulge secrets of a nature the most delicate, I must entreat you to regard them as sacred, even though I forbear to mention the names of the parties concerned.

I was brought up in Scotland, though my mo­ther, who had the sole care of me, was an Eng­lishman, and had not one relation in that country. She devoted to me her whole time. The retirement in which we lived, and the dis­tance from our natural friends, she often told me were the effect of an unconquerable melancholy with which she was seized, upon the sudden loss of my father, some time before I was born.

At Aberdeen, where I finished my education, I formed a friendship with a young man of fortune, which I considered as the chief happiness of my life;—but, when he quitted his studies, I consider­ed it as my chief misfortune, for he immediately prepared, by direction of his friends, to make the tour of Europe. For my part, designed for the church, and with no prospect even of maintenance but from my own industry, I scarce dared permit even a wish of accompanying him. It is true, he would joyfully have borne my expences; but my affection was as free from meanness as his own, and I made a determination the most solemn never [Page 31] to lessen its dignity, by submitting to pecuniary obligations.

We corresponded with great regularity, and the most unbounded confidence, for the space of two years, when he arrived at Lyons in his way home. He wrote me, thence, the most pressing invitation to meet him at Paris, where he intended to remain for some time. My desire to comply with his re­quest, and shorten our absence, was so earnest, that my mother, too indulgent to controul me, lent me what assistance was in her power, and, in an ill-fated moment I set out for that capital.

My meeting with this dear friend was the hap­piest event of my life: he introduced me to all his acquaintance; and so quickly did time seem to pass at that delightful period, that the six weeks I had allotted for my stay were gone, ere I was sen­sible I had missed so many days. But I must now own, that the company of my friend was not the sole subject of my felicity: I became acquainted with a young lady, daughter of an Englishman of distinction, with whom I formed an attachment which I have a thousand times vowed, a thousand times sincerely thought would be lasting as my life. She had but just quitted a convent, in which she had been placed when a child, and though English by birth, she could scarcely speak her na­tive language. Her person and disposition were equally engaging; but chiefly I adored her for the greatness of the expectations which, for my sake, she was willing to resign.

When the time for my residence in Paris expir­ed, I was almost distracted at the idea of quitting it; yet I had not the courage to make our attach­ment known to her father, who might reasonably form for her such views as would make him re­ject, with a contempt which I could not bear to [Page 32] think of, such an offer as mine. Yet I had free access to the house, where she seemed to be left almost wholly to the guidance of an old servant, who was my fast friend.

But, to be brief, the sudden and unexpected re­turn of her father, one fatal afternoon, proved the beginning of the misery which has ever since de­voured me. I doubt not but he had listened to our conversation, for he darted into the room with the rage of a madman. Heavens! what a scene followed!—what abusive language did the shame of a clandestine affair, and the consciousness of acting ill, induce me to brook! At length, how­ever, his fury exceeded my patience,—he called me a beggarly, cowardly Scotchman. Fired at the words, I drew my sword; he, with equal alertness, drew his; for he was not an old man, but, on the contrary, strong and able as myself. In vain his daughter pleaded;—in vain did I, re­pentant of my anger, retreat;—his reproaches continued; myself, my country, were loaded with infamy,—till, no longer constraining my rage,—we fought,—and he fell!

At that moment I could almost have destroyed myself! The young lady fainted with terror; the old servant, drawn to us by the noise of the scuf­fle, entreated me to escape, and promised to bring intelligence of what should pass to my apartment. The disturbance which I heard raised in the house obliged me to comply, and, in a state of mind in­conceivably wretched, I tore myself away.

My friend, who I found at home, soon discover­ed the whole affair. It was near midnight ere the woman came. She told me that her master was living, and her young mistress restored to her sen­ses. The absolute necessity for my leaving Paris, while any danger remained, was forcibly urged by [Page 33] my friend: the servant promised to acquaint him of whatever passed, and he, to transmit to me her information. Thus circumstanced, with the as­sistance of this dear friend, I effected my depar­ture from Paris, and, not long after, I returned to Scotland. I would fain have stopped by the way, that I might have been nearer the scene of all my concerns, but the low state of my finances denied me that satisfaction.

The miserable situation of my mind was soon discovered by my mother; nor would she rest till I communicated the cause. She heard my whole story with an agitation which astonished me;—the name of the parties concerned, seemed to strike her with horror;—but when I said, We fought, and he fell;‘"My son,"’ cried she, ‘"you have then murdered your father!"’ and she sunk breathless at my feet. Comments, Madam, upon such a scene as this, would to you be super­fluous, and to me agonizing: I cannot, for both our sakes, be too concise. When she recovered, she confessed all the particulars of a tale which she had hoped never to have revealed.—Alas! the loss she had sustained of my father was not by death!—bound to her by no ties but those of ho­nour, he had voluntarily deserted her!—Her set­tling in Scotland was not the effect of choice,—she was banished thither by a family but too justly in­censed;—pardon, Madam, that I cannot be more explicit!

My senses, in the greatness of my misery, actu­ally forsook me, and for more than a week I was wholly delirious. My unfortunate mother was yet more to be pitied, for she pined with unmitigated sorrow, eternally reproaching herself for the dan­ger to which her too strict silence had exposed me. When I recovered my reason, my impatience to [Page 34] hear from Paris almost deprived me of it again; and though the length of time I waited for letters might justly be attributed to contrary winds, I could not bear the delay, and was twenty times upon the point of returning thither at all hazards. At length, however, several letters arrived at once, and from the most insupportable of my af­flictions I was then relieved, for they acquainted me that the horrors of parricide were not in reserve for me. They informed me also, that as soon as the wound was healed, a journey would be made to England, where my unhappy sister was to be received by an aunt with whom she was to live.

This intelligence somewhat quieted the violence of my sorrows. I instantly formed a plan of meet­ing them in London, and, by revealing the whole dreadful story, convincing this irritated parent that he had nothing more to apprehend from his daugh­ter's unfortunate choice. My mother consented, and gave me a letter to prove the truth of my as­sertions. As I could but ill afford to make this journey, I travelled in the cheapest way that was possible. I took an obscure lodging, I need not, Madam, tell you where,—and boarded with the people of the house.

Here I languished, week after week, vainly hoping for the arrival of my family; but my im­petuosity had blinded me to the imprudence of which I was guilty in quitting Scotland so hastily. My wounded father, after his recovery, relapsed; and when I had waited in the most comfortless si­tuation for six weeks, my friend wrote me word, that the journey was yet deferred for some time longer.

My finances were then nearly exhausted, and I was obliged, though most unwillingly, to beg fur­ther assistance from my mother, that I might re­turn [Page 35] to Scotland. Oh! Madam!—my answer was not from herself,—it was written by a lady who had long been her companion, and acquainted me that she had been taken suddenly ill of a fever,—and was no more!

The compassionate nature of which you have given such noble proofs, assures me I need not, if I could, paint to you the anguish of a mind over­whelmed with such accumulated sorrows.

Inclosed was a letter to a near relation which she had, during her illness, with much difficulty, written, and in which, with the strongest mater­nal tenderness, she described my deplorable situati­on, and entreated his interest to procure me some preferment. Yet so sunk was I by misfortune, that a fortnight elapsed ere I had the courage or spirit to attempt delivering this letter. I was then compelled to it by want. To make my appear­ance with some decency, I was necessitated, my­self, to the melancholy task of changing my co­loured cloaths for a suit of mourning;—and then I proceeded to seek my relation.

I was informed that he was not in town.

In this desperate situation, the pride of my heart, which hitherto had not bowed to adversity, gave way, and I determined to entreat the assis­tance of my friend, whose offered services I had a thousand times rejected. Yet, Madam, so hard is it to root from the mind its favourite princi­ples, or prejudices, call them which you please, that I lingered another week ere I had the resolu­tion to send away a letter which I regarded as the death of my independence.

At length, reduced to my last shilling, dunned insolently by the people of the house, and almost famished, I sealed this fatal letter, and, with a heavy heart, determined to take it to the post-office. [Page 36] But Mr. Branghton and his son suffered me not to pass through their shop with impunity; they insulted me grossly, and threatened me with im­prisonment, if I did not immediately satisfy their demands. Stung to the soul, I bid them have but a day's patience, and flung from them, in a state of mind too terrible for description.

My letter, which I now found would be receiv­ed too late to save me from disgrace, I tore into a thousand pieces, and scarce could I refrain from put­ting an instantaneous, an unlicensed period to my existence.

In this disorder of my senses, I formed the hor­rible plan of turning foot-pad; for which purpose I returned to my lodging, and collected whatever of my apparel I could part with, which I immediately sold, and with the profits purchased a brace of pis­tols, powder and shot. I hope, however, you will believe me, when I most solemnly assure you, my sole intention was to frighten the passengers I should assault, with these dangerous weapons, which I had not loaded, but from a resolution,—a dreadful one, I own,—to save myself from an ig­nominious death if seized. And, indeed, I thought if I could but procure money sufficient to pay Mr. Branghton, and make a journey to Scotland, I should soon be able, by the public papers, to dis­cover whom I had injured, and to make private retribution.

But, Madam, new to every species of villany, my perturbation was so great that I could with dif­ficulty support myself: yet the Branghtons observ­ed it not as I passed through the shop.

Here I stop: what followed is better known to yourself. But no time can ever efface from my memory that moment, when in the very action of preparing for my own destruction, or the lawless [Page 37] seizure of the property of others, you rushed in­to the room, and arrested my arm!—It was, in­deed, an awful moment!—the hand of Providence seemed to intervene between me and eternity; I beheld you as an angel!—I thought you dropt from the clouds;—the earth, indeed, had never before presented to my view a form so celestial!—What wonder, then, that a spectacle so astonish­ing should, to a man disordered as I was, appear too beautiful to be human?

And now, Madam, that I have performed this painful task, the more grateful one remains of re­warding, as far as is in my power, your generous goodness, by assuring you it shall not be thrown away. You have awakened me to a sense of the false pride by which I have been actuated,—a pride which, while it scorned assistance from a friend, scrupled not to compel it from a stranger, though at the hazard of reducing that stranger to a situation as destitute as my own. Yet, Oh! how violent was the struggle which tore my con­flicting soul, ere I could persuade myself to profit by the benevolence which you were so evidently disposed to exert in my favour!

By means of a ring, the gift of my much-re­gretted mother, I have for the present satisfied Mr. Branghton; and by means of your compassion, I hope to support myself, either till I hear from my friend, to whom, at length, I have written, or till the relation of my mother returns to town.

To talk to you, Madam, of paying my debt, would be vain; I never can! the service you have done me exceeds all power of return; you have restored me to my senses, you have taught me to curb those passions which bereft me of them, and, since I cannot avoid calamity, to bear it as a man! An interposition so wonderfully circumstanced can [Page 38] never be recollected without benefit. Yet allow me to say, the pecuniary part of my obligation must be settled by my first ability.

I am, Madam, with the most profound respect, and heart-felt gratitude,

Your obedient, and devoted humble servant, J. MACARTNEY.

LETTER VI.
Evelina in continuation.

O SIR, what an adventure have I to write!—all night it has occupied my thoughts, and I am now risen thus early, to write it to you.

Yesterday it was settled that we should spend the evening in Marybone-gardens, where M. Torre, a celebrated foreigner, was to exhibit some fireworks. The party consisted of Madame Du­val, all the Branghtons, M. Du Bois, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Brown.

We were almost the first persons who entered the Gardens, Mr. Branghton having declared he would have all he could get for his money, which, at best, was only fooled away, at such silly and idle places.

We walked in parties, and very much detached from one another; Mr. Brown and Miss Polly led the way by themselves; Miss Branghton and Mr. Smith followed, and the latter seemed determined to be revenged for my behaviour at the ball, by transferring all his former attention for me, to Miss Branghton, who received it with an air of exulta­tion: [Page 39] and very frequently they each of them, though from different motives, looked back, to discover whether I observed their good intelligence. Madame Duval walked with M. Du Bois; and Mr. Branghton by himself; but his son would wil­lingly have attached himself wholly to me, saying frequently, ‘"Come, Miss, let's you and I have a little fun together; you see they have all left us, so now let us leave them."’ But I begged to be excused, and went to the other side of Madame Duval.

This Garden, as it is called, is neither striking for magnificence nor for beauty; and we were all so dull and languid, that I was extremely glad when we were summoned to the orchestra, upon the opening of a concert; in the course of which, I had the pleasure of hearing a concerto on the violin by Mr. Barthelemon, who, to me, seems a player of exquisite fancy, feeling, and variety.

When notice was given us, that the fire-works were preparing, we hurried along to secure good places for the sight: but, very soon, we were so encircled and incommoded by the crowd, that Mr. Smith proposed the ladies should make interest for a form to stand upon; this was soon effected, and the men then left us, to accommodate themselves better, saying they would return the moment the exhibition was over.

The firework was really beautiful, and told, with wonderful ingenuity, the story of Orpheus and Eurydice: but, at the moment of the fatal look, which separated them for ever, there was such an explosion of fire, and so horrible a noise, that we all, as of one accord, jumpt hastily from the form, and ran away some paces, fearing that we were in danger of mischief, from the innume­rable sparks of fire which glittered in the air.

[Page 40] For a moment or two, I neither knew nor con­sidered whither I had run; but my recollection was soon awakened by a stranger's addressing me with, ‘"Come along with me, my dear, and I'll take care of you."’

I started, and then, to my great terror, per­ceived that I had out-run all my companions, and saw not one human being I knew! with all the speed in my power, and forgetful of my first fright, I hastened back to the place I had left;—but found the form occupied by a new set of people.

In vain, from side to side, I looked for some face I knew; I found myself in the midst of a crowd, yet without party, friend, or acquain­tance. I walked, in disordered haste, from place to place, without knowing which way to turn, or whither I went. Every other moment, I was spoken to, by some bold and unfeeling man, to whom my distress, which, I think, must be very apparent, only furnished a pretence for impertinent witticisms, or free gallantry.

At last, a young officer, marching fiercely up to me, said, ‘"You are a sweet pretty creature, and I enlist you in my service;"’ and then, with great violence, he seized my hand. I screamed aloud with fear, and, forcibly snatching it away, I ran hastily up to two ladies, and cried, ‘"For Heaven's sake, dear ladies, afford me some pro­tection!"’

They heard me with a loud laugh, but very readily said, ‘"Ay, let her walk between us;"’ and each of them took hold of an arm.

Then, in a drawling, ironical tone of voice, they asked what had frightened my little Ladyship? I told them my adventure very simply, and en­treated [Page 41] they would have the goodness to assist me in finding my friends.

O yes, to be sure, they said, I should not want for friends, whilst I was with them. Mine, I said, would be very grateful for any civilities with which they might favour me. But imagine, my dear Sir, how I must be confounded, when I observed, that every other word I spoke produced a loud laugh! However, I will not dwell upon a conversation, which soon, to my inexpressible horror, convinced me I had sought protection from insult, of those who were themselves most likely to offer it! You, my dearest Sir, I well know, will both feel for, and pity my terror, which I have no words to describe.

Had I been at liberty, I should have instantly run away from them, when I made the shocking discovery; but, as they held me fast, that was utterly impossible: and such was my dread of their resentment or abuse, that I did not dare to make any open attempt to escape.

They asked me a thousand questions, accom­panied by as many hallows, of who I was, what I was, and whence I came. My answers were very incoherent,—but what, good Heaven! were my emotions, when a few moments afterwards, I perceived advancing our way, Lord Orville!

Never shall I forget what I felt at that instant: had I, indeed, been sunk to the guilty state, which such companions might lead him to suspect, I could scarce have had feelings more cruelly de­pressing.

However, to my infinite joy, he passed us without distinguishing me; though I saw that, in a careless manner, his eyes surveyed the party,

As soon as he was gone, one of these unhappy women said, ‘"Do you know that young fellow?"’

[Page 42] Not thinking it possible she should mean Lord Orville by such a term, I readily answered, ‘""No, Madam."’

‘"Why then,"’ answered she, ‘"you have a monstrous good stare, for a little country Miss."’

I now found I had mistaken her, but was glad to avoid an explanation.

A few minutes after, what was my delight, to hear the voice of Mr. Brown, who called out, ‘"Lord, i'n't that Miss what's her name?"’

‘"Thank God,"’ cried I, suddenly springing from them both, ‘"thank God, I have found my party!’

Mr. Brown, was, however, alone, and, with­out knowing what I did, I took hold of his arm.

‘"Lord, Miss, cried he, we've had such a hunt you can't think! some of them thought you was gone home; but I says, says I, I don't think says I, that she'll like to go home all alone, says I."’

‘"So that gentleman belongs to you, Miss, does he?"’ said one of the women.

‘Yes, Madam,"’ answered I, ‘"and I now thank you for your civility; but as I am safe, will not give you any further trouble."’

I courtsied slightly, and would have walked away; but, most unfortunately, Madame Du­val and the two Miss Branghtons just then joined us.

They all began to make a thousand enquiries, to which I briefly answered, that I had been obliged to these two ladies for walking with me, and would tell them more another time: for, though I felt great comparative courage, I was yet too much intimidated by their presence, to dare be explicit.

[Page 43] Nevertheless, I ventured, once more, to wish them good night, and proposed seeking Mr. Branghton. These unhappy women listened to all that was said with a kind of callous curiosity, and seemed determined not to take any hint. But my vexation was terribly augmented, when, after having whispered something to each other, they very cavalierly declared, that they intended join­ing our party! and then, one of them, very bold­ly took hold of my arm, while the other, going round, seized that of Mr. Brown; and thus, al­most forcibly, we were moved on between them, and followed by Madame Duval and the Miss Branghtons.

It would be very difficult to say which was greatest, my fright, or Mr. Brown's consternati­on; who ventured not to make the least resist­ance, though his uneasiness made him tremble al­most as much as myself. I would instantly have withdrawn my arm; but it was held so tight, I could not move it; and poor Mr. Brown was cir­cumstanced in the same manner on the other side; for I heard him say, ‘"Lord, Ma'am, there's no need to squeeze one's arm so!"’

And this was our situation,—for we had not taken three steps, when,—O Sir,—we again met Lord Orville!—but not again did he pass quietly by us,—unhappily I caught his eye;—both mine, immediately, were bent to the ground; but he approached me, and we all stopped.

I then looked up. He bowed. Good God, with what expressive eyes did he regard me! Ne­ver were surprise and concern so strongly marked,—yes, my dear Sir, he looked greatly concerned; and that, the remembrance of that, is the only consolation I feel, for an evening the most pain­ful of my life.

[Page 44] What he first said, I know not; for, indeed, I seemed to have neither ears nor understanding; but I recollect that I only courtsied in silence. He paused for an instant, as if—I believe so,—as if unwilling to pass on; but then, finding the whole party detained, he again bowed, and took leave.

Indeed, my dear Sir, I thought I should have fainted, so great was my emotion from shame, vexation, and a thousand other feelings, for which I have no expressions. I absolutely tore myself from the woman's arm, and then, disengaging myself from that of Mr. Brown, I went to Ma­dame Duval, and besought that she would not suf­fer me to be again parted from her.

I fancy—that Lord Orville saw what passed; for scarcely was I at liberty, ere he returned. Methought, my dear Sir, the pleasure, the sur­prise of that moment, recompensed me for all the chagrin I had before felt: for do you not think, that this return, manifests, from a character so quiet, so reserved as Lord Orville's, something like solicitude in my concerns?—such at least, was the interpretation I involuntarily made upon again seeing him.

With a politeness to which I have been some time very little used, he apologised for returning, and then enquired after the health of Mrs. Mirvan, and the rest of the Howard Grove family. The flattering conjecture which I have just acknow­ledged, had so wonderfully restored my spirits, that I believe I never answered him so readily, and with so little constraint. Very short, however, was the duration of this conversation: for we were soon most disagreeably interrupted.

The Miss Branghtons, though they saw almost immediately the characters of the women to whom I had so unfortunately applied, were, never­theless, [Page 45] so weak and foolish, as merely to titter at their behaviour. As to Madame Duval, she was really for some time so strangely imposed upon, that she thought they were two real fine ladies. Indeed it is wonderful to see how easily and how frequently she is deceived: our disturb­ance, however, arose from young Brown, who was now between the two women, by whom his arms were absolutely pinioned to his sides: for a few minutes, his complaints had been only mur­mured; but he now called out aloud, ‘"Good­ness, Ladies, you hurt me like any thing! why I can't walk at all, if you keep pinching my arms so!"’

This speech raised a loud laugh in the women, and redoubled the tittering of the Miss Brangh­ton's. For my own part, I was most cruelly con­fused; while the countenance of Lord Orville manifested a sort of indignant astonishment; and, from that moment, he spoke to me no more, till he took leave.

Madame Duval who now began to suspect her company, proposed our taking the first box we saw empty, bespeaking a supper, and waiting till Mr. Branghton should find us.

Miss Polly mentioned one she had remarked, to which we all turned; Madame Duval instantly seated herself; and the two bold women, forcing the frightened Mr. Brown to go between them, fol­lowed her example.

Lord Orville, with an air of gravity that wound­ed my very soul, then wished me good night. I said not a word; but my face, if it had any con­nection with my heart, must have looked melan­choly indeed: and so, I have some reason to be­lieve, it did; for he added, with much more soft­ness, though not less dignity, ‘"Will Miss Anville [Page 46] allow me to ask her address, and to pay my re­spects to her before I leave town?"’

O how I changed colour at this unexpected re­quest!—yet what was the mortification I suffered, in answering, ‘"My Lord, I am—in Holborn!"’

He then bowed and left us.

What, what can he think of this adventure! how strangely, how cruelly have all appearances turned against me! Had I been blessed with any presence of mind, I should instantly have explain­ed to him the accident which occasioned my being in such terrible company;—but I have none!

As to the rest of the evening, I cannot relate the particulars of what passed; for, to you, I only write of what I think, and I can think of nothing but this unfortunate, this disgraceful meeting. These two poor women continued to torment us all, but especially poor Mr. Brown, who seemed to afford them uncommon diversion, till we were discovered by Mr. Branghton, who very soon found means to release us from their persecutions, by frightening them away. We stayed but a short time after they left us, which was all employed in explanations.

Whatever may be the construction which Lord Orville may put upon this affair, to me it cannot fail of being unfavourable; to be seen—gracious Heaven!—to be seen in company with two women of such character!—How vainly, how proudly have I wished to avoid meeting him when only with the Branghtons and Madame Duval,—but now, how joyful should I be had he seen me to no greater disadvantage!—Holborn, too! what a di­rection!—he who had always—but I will not tor­ment you, my dearest Sir, with any more of my mortifying conjectures and apprehensions: perhaps he may call,—and then I shall have an opportunity [Page 47] of explaining to him all the most shocking part of the adventure. And yet, as I did not tell him at whose house I lived, he may not be able to disco­ver me; I merely said in Holborn, and he, who I suppose saw my embarrassment, forbore to ask any other direction.

Well, I must take my chance!

Yet let me, in justice to Lord Orville, and in justice to the high opinion I have always enter­tained of his honour and delicacy,—let me observe the difference of his behaviour, when nearly in the same situation to that of Sir Clement Wil­loughby. He had at least equal cause to depreci­ate me in his opinion, and to mortify and sink me in my own: but far different was his conduct;—perplexed, indeed, he looked, and much surpris­ed,—but it was benevolently, not with insolence. I am even inclined to think, that he could not see a young creature whom he had so lately known in a higher sphere, appear so suddenly, so strangely, so disgracefully altered in her situation, without some pity and concern. But, whatever might be his doubts and suspicions, far from suffering them to influence his behaviour, he spoke, he looked, with the same politeness and attention with which he had always honoured me when countenanced by Mrs. Mirvan.

Once again, let me drop this subject.

In every mortification, every disturbance, how grateful to my heart, how sweet to my recollecti­on, in the certainty of your never-failing tender­ness, sympathy, and protection! Oh Sir, could I, upon this subject, could I write as I feel,—how animated would be the language of

Your devoted EVELINA!

LETTER VII.
Evelina to the Rev. Mr. Villars.

LISTLESS, uneasy, and without either spirit or courage to employ myself, from the time I had finished my last letter, I indolently seated myself at the window, where, while I waited Madame Duval's summons to breakfast, I perceived, among the carriages which passed by, a coronet coach, and, in a few minutes, from the window of it, Lord Orville! I instantly retreated, but not, I believe, unseen; for the coach immediately drove up to our door.

Indeed, my dear Sir, I must own I was greatly agitated; the idea of receiving Lord Orville by myself,—the knowledge that his visit was entirely to me,—the wish of explaining the unfortunate adventure of yesterday,—and the mortification of my present circumstances,—all these thoughts, oc­curring to me nearly at the same time, occasioned me more anxiety, confusion, and perplexity, than I can possibly express.

I believe he meant to send up his name; but the maid, unused to such a ceremony, forgot it by the way, and only told me, that a great Lord was below, and desired to see me: and, the next moment he appeared himself.

If formerly when in the circle of high life, and accustomed to its manners, I so much admired and distinguished the grace, the elegance of Lord Orville, think, Sir, how they must strike me now,—now, when, far removed from that splendid circle, I live with those to whom even civility is unknown, and decorum a stranger!

[Page 49] I am sure I received him very awkwardly; de­pressed by a situation so disagreeable, could I do otherwise? When his first enquiries were made, ‘"I think myself very fortunate,"’ he said, ‘"in meeting with Miss Anville at home, and still more so, in finding her disengaged."’

I only courtsied. He then talked of Mrs. Mir­van; asked how long I had been in town, and other such general questions, which, happily, gave me time to recover from my embarrassment. After which, he said, ‘"If Miss Anville will al­low me the honour of sitting by her a few minutes "(for we were both standing)" I will venture to tell her the motive which, next to enquiring after her health, has prompted me to wait on her thus early."’

We were then both seated, and, after a short pause, he said, ‘"How to apologize for so great a liberty as I am upon the point of taking, I know not; shall I, therefore, rely wholly upon your goodness, and not apologize at all?"’

I only bowed.

‘"I should be extremely sorry to appear imper­tinent,—yet hardly know how to avoid it.’

‘"Impertinent! O my Lord,"’ cried I, eagerly, ‘"that, I am sure, is impossible!"’

‘"You are very good,"’ answered he, ‘"and encourage me to be ingenuous—"’

Again he stopped; but my expectation was too great for speech: at last, without looking at me, in a low voice and hesitating manner, he said, ‘"Were those Ladies with whom I saw you last night, ever in your company before?"’

‘"No, my Lord,"’ cried I, rising, and colour­ing violently, ‘"nor will they ever be again."’

He rose too, and, with an air of the most con­descending concern, said, ‘"Pardon, Madam, the [Page 50] abruptness of a question which I knew not how to introduce as I ought, and for which I have no excuse to offer, but my respect for Mrs. Mirvan, joined to the sincerest wishes for your happiness: yet I fear I have gone too far!"’

‘"I am very sensible of the honour of your Lordship's attention,"’ said I, ‘"but—"’

‘"Permit me to assure you,"’ cried he, finding I hesitated, ‘"that officiousness is not my charac­teristic, and that I would by no means have risked your displeasure, had I not been fully satisfied you were too generous to be offended, without a real cause of offence."’

‘"Offended!"’ cried I, ‘no, my Lord, I am on­ly grieved,—grieved, indeed! to find myself in a situation so unfortunate, as to be obliged to make explanations which cannot but mortify and shock me."’

‘"It is I alone,"’ cried he, with some eagerness, ‘"who am shocked, as it is I who deserve to be mortified; I seek no explanation, for I have no doubt; but, in mistaking me, Miss Anville in­jures herself: allow me, therefore, frankly and openly to tell you the intention of my visit."’

I bowed, and we both returned to our seats.

‘"I will own myself to have been greatly sur­prised,"’ continued he, ‘"when I met you yes­terday evening, in company with two persons who I was sensible merited not the honour of your notice; nor was it easy for me to conjec­ture the cause of your being so situated; yet, be­lieve me, my incertitude did not for a moment do you injury; I was satisfied that their characters must be unknown to you, and I thought with con­cern of the shock you would sustain, when you discovered their unworthiness. I should not, however, upon so short an acquaintance, have [Page 51] usurped the privilege of intimacy, in giving my unasked sentiments upon so delicate a subject, had I not known that credulity is the sister of in­nocence, and therefore feared you might be de­ceived. A something, which I could not resist, urged me to the freedom I have taken to caution you; but I shall not easily forgive myself, if I have been so unfortunate as to give you pain."’

The pride which his first question had excited, now subsided into delight and gratitude, and I in­stantly related to him, as well as I could, the accident which had occasioned my joining the un­happy women with whom he had met me. He listened with an attention so flattering, seemed so much interested during the recital, and, when I had done, thanked me, in terms so polite, for what he was pleased to call my condescension, that I was almost ashamed either to look at, or hear him.

Soon after, the maid came to tell me, that Madame Duval desired to have breakfast made in her own room.

‘"I fear,"’ cried Lord Orville, instantly rising, ‘"that I have intruded upon your time,—yet who, so situated, could do otherwise?"’ Then, taking my hand, ‘"Will Miss Anville allow me thus to seal my peace?"’ He pressed it to his lips, and took leave.

Generous, noble Lord Orville! how disinte­rested his conduct! how delicate his whole beha­viour! willing to advise, yet afraid to wound me!—Can I ever, in future, regret the adventure I met with at Marybone, since it has been product­ive of a visit so flattering? Had my mortificati­ons been still more humiliating, my terrors still more alarming, such a mark of esteem—may I [Page 52] not call it so?—from Lord Orville, would have made me ample amends.

And indeed, my dear Sir, I require some con­solation in my present very disagreeable situation; for, since he went, two incidents have happened, that, had not my spirits been particularly elated, would greatly have disconcerted me.

During breakfast, Madame Duval, very abrupt­ly, asked if I should like to be married? and ad­ded, that Mr. Branghton had been proposing a match for me with his son. Surprised, and, I must own, provoked, I assured her that, in think­ing of me, Mr. Branghton would very vainly lose his time.

‘"Why,"’ cried she, ‘"I have had grander views for you, myself, if once I could get you to Paris, and make you be owned; but, if I can't do that, and you can do no better, why, as you are both my relations, I think to leave my fortune between you, and then, if you marry, you never need want for nothing."’

I begged her not to pursue the subject, as, I assured her, Mr. Branghton was totally disagree­able to me: but she continued her admonitions and reflections, with her usual disregard of what­ever I could answer. She charged me, very pe­remptorily, neither wholly to discourage, nor yet to accept Mr. Branghton's offer, till she saw what could be done for me: the young man, she ad­ded, had often intended to speak to me himself, but, not well knowing how to introduce the sub­ject, he had desired her to pave the way for him.

I scrupled not, warmly and freely to declare my aversion to this proposal; but it was to no effect, as she concluded, just as she had begun, by saying, that I should not have him, if I could do better.

[Page 53] Nothing, however, shall persuade me to listen to any other person concerning this odious affair.

My second cause of uneasiness arises, very un­expectedly, from M. Du Bois, who, to my infi­nite surprise, upon Madame Duval's quitting the room after dinner, put into my hand a note, and immediately left the house.

This note contains an open declaration of an attachment to me, which, he says, he should ne­ver have presumed to have acknowledged, had he not been informed that Madame Duval destined my hand to young Branghton,—a match which he cannot endure to think of. He beseeches me, earnestly, to pardon his temerity, professes the most inviolable respect, and commits his fate to time, patience, and pity.

This conduct in M. Du Bois gives me real con­cern, as I was disposed to think very well of him. It will not, however, be difficult to discourage him, and therefore I shall not acquaint Madame Duval of his letter, as I have reason to believe it would greatly displease her.

LETTER VIII.
Evelina in continuation.

O SIR, how much uneasiness must I suffer, to counterbalance one short morning of happiness!

Yesterday, the Branghtons proposed a party to Kensington-gardens, and, as usual, Madame Du­val insisted upon my attendance.

We went in a hackney-coach to Piccadilly, and then had a walk through Hyde Park, which in any other company, would have been delightful. I [Page 54] was much pleased with Kensington-gardens, and think them infinitely preferable to those of Vauxhall.

Young Branghton was extremely troublesome; he insisted upon walking by my side, and talked with me almost by compulsion: however, my re­serve and coldness prevented his entering upon the hateful subject which Madame Duval had prepa­red me to apprehend. Once, indeed, when I was, accidentally, a few yards before the rest, he said, ‘"I suppose, Miss, aunt has told you about you know what?—ha'n't she, Miss?"’—But I turned from him without making any answer. Neither Mr. Smith nor Mr. Brown were of the party; and poor M. Du Bois, when he found that I avoided him, looked so melancholy, that I was really sorry for him.

While we were strolling round the garden, I perceived, walking with a party of ladies at some distance, Lord Orville! I instantly retreated be­hind Miss Branghton, and kept out of sight till we had passed him: for I dreaded being seen by him again, in a public walk, with a party of which I was ashamed.

Happily I succeeded in my design, and saw no more of him; for a sudden and violent shower of rain made us all hasten out of the gardens. We ran till we came to a small green-shop, where we begged shelter. Here we found ourselves in com­pany with two footmen, whom the rain had dri­ven into the shop. Their livery, I thought, I had before seen; and upon looking from the window, I perceived the same upon a coachman belonging to a carriage, which I immediately recollected to be Lord Orville's.

Fearing to be known, I whispered Miss Brangh­ton not to speak my name. Had I considered but [Page 55] a moment, I should have been sensible of the in­utility of such a caution, since not one of the party call me by any other appellation than that of Cousin, or of Miss; but I am perpetually in­volved in some distress or dilemma from my own heedlessness.

This request excited very strongly her curiosi­ty; and she attacked me with such eagerness and bluntness of enquiry, that I could not avoid telling her the reason of my making it, and, consequent­ly, that I was known to Lord Orville: an acknow­ledgment which proved the most unfortunate in the world; for she would not rest till she had drawn from me the circumstances attending my first making the acquaintance. Then, calling to her sister, she said, ‘"Lord, Polly only think! Miss has danced with a Lord!"’

‘"Well,"’ cried Polly, ‘"that's a thing I should never have thought of! And pray, Miss, what did he say to you?"’

This question was much sooner asked than an­swered; and they both became so very inquisitive and earnest, that they soon drew the attention of Madame Duval and the rest of the party, to whom, in a very short time, they repeated all they had gathered from me.

‘"Goodness, then,"’ cried young Branghton, ‘"if I was Miss, if I would not make free with his Lordship's coach to take me to town."’

‘"Why ay,"’ said the father, ‘"there would be some sense in that; that would be making some use of a Lord's acquaintance, for it would save us coach-hire."’

‘"Lord, Miss,"’ cried Polly, ‘"I wish you would, for I should like of all things to ride in a coronet coach!"’

[Page 56] ‘"I promise you,"’ said Madame Duval, ‘"I'm glad you've thought of it, for I don't see no ob­jection;—so let's have the coach-man called."’

‘"Not for the world,"’ cried I, very much alarmed, ‘"indeed it is utterly impossible."’

‘"Why so?"’ demanded Mr. Branghton; ‘"pray where's the good of your knowing a Lord, if you're never the better for him?"’

‘"Ma foi, child,"’ said Madame Duval, ‘"you don't know no more of the world than if you was a baby. Pray, Sir, (to one of the footmen,) tell that coachman to draw up, for I wants to speak to him."’

The man stared, but did not move. ‘"Pray, pray, Madam,"’ said I, ‘"pray, Mr. Branghton, have the goodness to give up this plan; I know but very little of his Lordship, and cannot, upon any account, take so great a liberty."’

‘"Don't say nothing about it,"’ said Madame Duval, ‘"for I shall have it my own way: so if you won't call the coachman, Sir, I'll promise you I'll call him myself."’

The footman, very impertinently, laughed and turned upon his heel. Madame Duval, extremely irritated, ran out in the rain, and beckoned the coachman, who instantly obeyed her summons. Shocked beyond all expression, I flew after her, and entreated her with the utmost earnestness, to let us return in a hackney-coach:—but oh!—she is impenetrable to persuasion! She told the man she wanted him to carry her directly to town, and that she would answer for him to Lord Orville. The man, with a sneer, thanked her, but said he should answer for himself; and was driving off, when another footman came up to him, with informati­on that his Lord was gone into Kensington palace, and would not want him for an hour or two.

[Page 57] ‘"Why then, friend,’ "said Mr. Branghton, (for we were followed by all the party) ‘"where will be the great harm of your taking us to town?"’

‘"Besides,"’ said the son, ‘"I'll promise you a pot of beer for my own share."’

These speeches had no other answer from the coachman than a loud laugh, which was echoed by the insolent footmen. I rejoiced at their re­sistance, though I was certain, that if their Lord had witnessed their impertinence, they would have been instantly dismissed his service.

‘"Pardie,"’ cried Madame Duval, ‘"if I don't think all the footmen are the most impu­dentest fellows in the kingdom! But I'll promise you I'll have your master told of your airs, so you'll get no good by 'em."’

‘"Why pray,"’ said the coachman, rather alarmed, ‘"did my Lord give you leave to use the coach?"’

‘"It's no matter for that,"’ answered she; ‘"I'm sure if he's a gentleman he'd let us have it sooner than we should be wet to the skin: but I'll promise you he shall know how saucy you've been, for this young lady knows him very well."’

‘"Ay, that she does,"’ said Miss Polly; ‘"and she's danced with him too.’

"Oh how I repented my foolish misma­nagement! The men bit their lips, and looked at one another in some confusion. This was per­ceived by our party, who, taking advantage of it, protested they would write Lord Orville word of their ill behaviour without delay. This quite startled them, and one of the footmen offered to run to the palace, and ask his Lord's permission for our having the carriage.

This proposal really made me tremble; and the Branghtons all hung back upon it: but Madame [Page 58] Duval is never to be dissuaded from a scheme she has once formed. ‘"Do so,"’ cried she, ‘"and give this child's compliments to your Master, and tell him, as we ha'n't no coach here, we should be glad to go just as far as Holborn in his."’

‘"No, no, no,!"’ cried I; ‘"don't go,—I know nothing of his Lordship,—I send no mes­sage,—I have nothing to say to him!"’

The men, very much perplexed, could with difficulty restrain themselves from resuming their impertinent mirth. Madame Duval scolded me very angrily, and then desired them to go direct­ly, ‘"Pray, then,"’ said the coachman, ‘"what name is to be given to my Lord?"’

‘"Anville,"’ answered Madame Duval, ‘"tell him Miss Anville wants the coach; the young la­dy he danced with once."’

I was really in an agony: but the winds could not have been more deaf to me, than those to whom I pleaded! and therefore the footman, urg­ed by the repeated threats of Madame Duval, and perhaps recollecting the name himself, actu­ally went to the palace with this strange message!

He returned in a few minutes, and bowing to me with the greatest respect, said, ‘"My Lord desires his compliments, and his carriage will be always at Miss Anville's service."’

I was so much affected by this politeness, and chagrined at the whole affair, that I could scarce refrain from tears. Madame Duval and the Miss Branghtons eagerly jumped into the coach, and desired me to follow. I would rather have sub­mitted to the severest punishment;—but all resist­ance was vain.

During the whole ride, I said not a word; how­ever, the rest of the party were so talkative, that my silence was very immaterial. We stopped [Page 59] at our lodgings; but when Madame Duval and I alighted, the Branghtons asked if they could not be carried on to Snow-Hill? The servants, now all civility, made no objection. Remonstrances from me, would, I too well kn [...]w, be fruitless; and therefore, with a heavy heart, I retired to my room, and left them to their own direction.

Seldom have I passed a night in greater uneasi­ness:—so lately to have cleared myself in the good opinion of Lord Orville,—so soon to forfeit it!—to give him reason to suppose I presumed to boast of his acquaintance,—to publish his having danced with me!—to take with him a liberty I should have blushed to have taken with the most intimate of my friends!—to treat with such im­pertinent freedom one who has honoured me with such distinguished respect!—indeed, Sir, I could have met with no accident that would so cruelly have tormented me!

If such were, then, my feelings, imagine,—for I cannot describe, what I suffered during the scene I am now going to write.

This morning, while I was alone in the dining­room, young Branghton called. He entered with a most important air, and strutting up to me, said, ‘"Miss, Lord Orville sends his compliments to you."’

‘"Lord Orville!"’—repeated I, much amazed.

‘"Yes, Miss, Lord Orville; for I know his Lordship now, as well as you,—And a very civil gentleman he is, for all he's a Lord."’

‘"For Heaven's sake,"’ cried I, ‘"explain yourself."’

‘"Why you must know, Miss, after we lest you, we met with a little misfortune; but I don't mind it now, for it's all turned out for the best: but, just as we were a going up Snow-Hill, plump [Page 60] we comes against a cart, with such a jog it almost pulled the coach-wheel off; however, that i'n't the worst, for as I went to open the door in a hurry, a thinking the coach would be broke down, as ill-luck would have it, I never minded that the glass was up, and so I poked my head fairly through it. Only see, Miss, how I've cut my forehead!"’

A much worse accident to himself, would not I believe, at that moment, have given me any concern for him: however, he proceeded with his account, for I was too much confounded to in­terrupt him.

‘"Goodness, Miss, we were in such a stew, us, and the servants, and all, as you can't think, for besides the glass being broke, the coachman said how the coach would'n't be safe to go back to Kensington. So we did n't know what to do; however, the footmen said they'd go and tell his Lordship what had happened. So then father grew quite uneasy, like, for fear of his Lord­ship's taking offence, and prejudicing us in our business: so he said I should go this morning and ask his pardon, 'cause of having broke the glass. So then I asked the footman the direction, and they told me he lived in Berkley-square; so this morning I went, and I soon found out the house."’

‘"You did!"’ cried I, quite out of breath with apprehension.

‘"Yes, Miss, and a very fine house it is. Did you ever see it?"’

‘"No."’

‘"No!—why then, Miss, I know more of his Lordship than you do, for all you knew him first. So, when I came to the door, I was in a peck of troubles, a thinking what I should say to him; however, the servants had no mind I should see [Page 61] him, for they told me he was busy, but I might leave my message. So I was just coming away, when I bethought myself to say I come from you."’

‘"From me!—"’

‘"Yes, Miss,—for you know why should I have such a long walk as that for nothing? So I says to the porter, says I, tell his Lordship, says I, one wants to speak to him as comes from one Miss Anville, says I."’

‘"Good God,"’ cried I, ‘"and by what au­thority did you take such a liberty?"’

‘"Goodness, Miss, don't be in such a hurry, for you'll be as glad as me when you hear how well it all turned out. So then they made way for me, and said his Lordship would see me di­rectly; and there I was led through such a heap of servants, and so many rooms, that my heart quite misgave me; for I thought, thinks I, he'll be so proud he'll hardly let me speak; but he's no more proud than I am, and he was as civil at if I'd been a lord myself. So then I said, I ho­ped he would n't take it amiss about the glass, for it was quite an accident: but he bid me not men­tion it, for it did n't signify. And then he said he hoped you got safe home, and was n't frightened; and so I said yes, and I gave your duty to him."’

‘"My duty to him!"’ exclaimed I,—‘"and who gave you leave?—who desired you?"’

‘"O, I did it of my own head, just to make him think I came from you. But I should have told you before how the footman said he was go­ing out of town to-morrow evening, and that his sister was soon to be married, and that he was a ordering a heap of things for that; so it come into my head, as he was so affable, that I'd ask him for his custom. So I says, says I, my Lord, says I, if your Lordship i'n't engaged particular­ly, [Page 62] my father is a silversmith, and he'd be very proud to serve you, says I, and Miss Anville, as danced with you, is his cousin, and she's my cou­sin too, and she'd be very much obligated to you, I'm sure."’

‘"You'll drive me wild,"’ (cried I, starting from my seat) ‘"you have done me an irrepara­ble injury;—but I will hear no more!"’—and then I ran into my own room.

I was half frantic, I really raved; the good opinion of Lord Orville seemed now irretrievably lost: a faint hope, which in the morning I had vainly encouraged, that I might see him again, and explain the transaction, wholly vanished, now I found he was so soon to leave town: and I could not but conclude that, for the rest of my life, he would regard me as an object of utter contempt.

The very idea was a dagger to my heart!—I could not support it, and—but I blush to proceed—I fear your disapprobation, yet I should not be conscious of having merited it, but that the repug­nance I feel to relate to you what I have done, makes me suspect I must have erred. Will you forgive me, if I own that I have first written an account of this transaction to Miss Mirvan?—and that I even thought of concealing it from you?—Short-lived, however, was the ungrateful idea, and sooner will I risk the justice of your displea­sure, than unworthily betray your generous confi­dence.

You are now probably prepared for what fol­lows—which is a letter,—a hasty letter, that, in the height of my agitation, I wrote to Lord Orville.

To Lord Orville.

My Lord,

I am so infinitely ashamed of the application made yesterday for your Lordship's carriage in my name, and so greatly shocked at hearing how much it was injured, that I cannot forbear writing a few lines, to clear myself from the imputation of an impertinence which I blush to be suspected of, and to acquaint you, that the request for your carriage was made against my consent, and the visit with which you were importuned this morning, with­out my knowledge.

I am inexpressibly concerned at having been the instrument, however innocently, of so much trouble to your Lordship; but I beg you to be­lieve, that reading these lines is the only part of it which I have given voluntarily.

I am, my Lord, Your Lordship's most humble servant, EVELINA ANVILLE.

I applied to the maid of the house to get this note conveyed to Berkeley-square; but scarce had I parted with it, ere I regretted having writ­ten at all, and I was flying down stairs to recover it, when the voice of Sir Clement Willoughby stopped me. As Madame Duval had ordered we should be denied to him, I was obliged to return up stairs; and after he was gone, my appli­cation was too late, as the maid had given it to a porter.

My time did not pass very serenely while he was gone; however, he brought me no answer, but that Lord Orville was not at home. Whe­ther [Page 64] or not he will take the trouble to send any;—or whether he will condescend to call;—or whether the affair will rest as it is, I know not;—but, in being ignorant, am most cruelly anxi­ous.

LETTER IX.
Evelina in continuation.

YOU may now, my dear Sir, send Mrs. Clin­ton for your Evelina with as much speed as she can conveniently make the journey, for no fur­ther opposition will be made to her leaving this town; happy had it perhaps been for her had she never entered it!

This morning Madame Duval desired me to go to Snow-hill, with an invitation to the Branghtons and Mr. Smith, to spend the evening with her: and she desired M. Du Bois, who breakfasted with us, to accompany me. I was very unwil­ling to obey her, as I neither wished to walk with M. Du Bois, nor yet to meet young Branghton. And, indeed, another, a yet more powerful rea­son, added to my reluctance,—for I thought it possible that Lord Orville might send some an­swer, or perhaps might call, during my ab­sence; however, I did not dare dispute her com­mands.

Poor M. Du Bois spoke not a word during our walk, which was, I believe, equally unpleasant to us both. We found all the family assembled in the shop. Mr. Smith, the moment he per­ceived [Page 65] me, addressed himself to Miss Branghton, whom he entertained with all the gallantry in his power. I rejoice to find that my conduct at the Hampstead ball has had so good an effect. But young Branghton was extremely troublesome, he repeatedly laughed in my face, and looked so im­pertinently significant, that I was obliged to give up my reserve to M. Du Bois, and enter into conversation with him, merely to avoid such bold­ness.

‘"Miss,"’ said Mr. Branghton, ‘"I'm sorry to hear from my son that you was n't pleased with what we did about that Lord Orville; but I should like to know what it was you found fault with, for we did all for the best."’

‘"Goodness!"’ cried the son, ‘"why if you'd seen Miss, you'd have been surprised,—she went out of the room quite in a huff, like."’

‘"It is too late, now,"’ said I, ‘"to reason up­on this subject; but, for the future, I must take the liberty to request, that my name may never be made use of without my knowledge. May I tell Madame Duval that you will do her the favour to accept her invitation?"’

‘"As to me, Ma'am,"’ said Mr. Smith, ‘"I am much obliged to the old lady, but I've no mind to be taken in by her again; you'll excuse me, Ma'am."’

All the rest promised to come, and I then took leave: but as I left the shop, I heard Mr. Branghton say, ‘"Take courage, Tom, she's only coy."’ And, before I had walked ten yards, the youth followed.

I was so much offended that I would not look at him, but began to converse with M. Du Bois, who was now more lively than I had ever before [Page 66] seen him; for, most unfortunately, he misinter­preted the reason of my attention to him.

The first intelligence I received when I came home, was that two gentlemen had called, and left cards. I eagerly enquired for them, and read the names of Lord Orville and Sir Clement Wil­loughby. I by no means regretted that I missed seeing the latter, but perhaps I may all my life regret that I missed seeing the former, for proba­bly he has now left town,—and I may see him no more!

‘"My goodness!"’ cried young Branghton, rudely looking over me, ‘"only think of that Lord's coming all this way! It's my belief he'd got some order ready for father, and so he'd a mind to call and ask you if I'd told him the truth."’

‘"Pray, Betty,"’ cried I, ‘"how long has he been gone?"’

‘"Not two minutes, Ma'am."’

‘"Why then I'll lay you any wager,"’ said young Branghton, ‘"he saw you and I a-walking up Holborn Hill!"’

‘"God forbid!"’ cried I, impatiently; and too much chagrined to bear with any more of his remarks, I ran up stairs: but I heard him say to M. Du Bois, ‘"Miss is so uppish this morning, that I think I had better not speak to her again."’

I wish M. Du Bois had taken the same resolu­tion; but he chose to follow me into the dining­room, which we found empty.

‘"Vous ne l'aimez donc pas ce garcon, Made­moiselle!"’ cried he.

‘"Me!"’ cried I, ‘"no, I detest him!"’ for I was quite sick at heart.

‘"Ah, tu me rends la vie!"’ cried he, and slinging himself at my feet, he had just caught [Page 67] my hand, as the door was opened by Madame Duval.

Hastily, and with marks of guilty confusion in his face, he arose; but the rage of that lady quite amazed me! advancing to the retreating M. Du Bois, she began, in French, an attack which her extreme wrath and wonderful volubili­ty almost rendered unintelligible; yet I under­stood but too much, since her reproaches convin­ced me she had herself proposed being the object of his affection.

He defended himself in a weak and evasive manner, and upon her commanding him from her sight, very readily withdrew: and then, with yet greater violence, she upbraided me with having seduced his heart, called me an ungrateful, design­ing girl, and protested she would neither take me to Paris, nor any more interest herself in my con­cerns, unless I would instantly agree to marry young Branghton.

Frightened as I had been at her vehemence, this proposal restored all my courage; and I frank­ly told her that in this point I never could obey her. More irritated than ever, she ordered me to quit the room.

Such is the present situation of affairs. I shall excuse myself from seeing the Branghtons this af­ternoon: indeed, I never wish to see them again. I am sorry, however innocently, that I have dis­pleased Madame Duval, yet I shall be very glad to quit this town, for I believe it does not, now, contain one person I ever wish to again meet. Had I but seen Lord Orville, I should regret no­thing: I could then have more fully explained what I so hastily wrote; yet it will always be a pleasure to me to recollect that he called, since I [Page 68] flatter myself it was in consequence of his being satisfied with my letter.

Adieu, my dear Sir; the time now approaches when I hope once more to receive your bles­sing, and to owe all my joy, all my happiness to your kindness.

LETTER X.
Mr. Villars to Evelina.

WELCOME, thrice welcome, my darling Evelina, to the arms of the truest, the fondest of your friends! Mrs. Clinton, who shall hasten to you with these lines, will conduct you directly hither, for I can consent no longer to be parted from the child of my bosom!—the comfort of my age!—the sweet solace of all my infirmities! Your worthy friends at Howard Grove must par­don me that I rob them of the visit you purposed to make them before your return to Berry Hill, for I find my fortitude unequal to a longer sepa­ration.

I have much to say to you, many comments to make upon your late letters, some parts of which give me no little uneasiness; but I will re­serve my remarks for our future conversations. Hasten, then, to the spot of thy nativity, the abode of thy youth, where never yet care or sor­row had power to annoy thee;—O that they might ever be banished this peaceful dwel­ling!

[Page 69] Adieu, my dearest Evelina! I pray but that thy satisfaction at our approaching meeting, may bear any comparison with mine!

ARTHUR VILLARS.

LETTER XI.
Evelina to Miss Mirvan.

MY sweet Maria will be much surprised, and, I am willing to flatter myself, concerned, when, instead of her friend, she receives this letter;—this cold, this inanimate letter, which will but ill express the feelings of the heart which in­dites it.

When I wrote to you last Friday, I was in hourly expectation of seeing Mrs. Clinton, with whom I intended to have set out for Howard Grove; Mrs. Clinton came, but my plan was necessarily altered, for she brought me a letter,—the sweetest that ever was penned, from the best and kindest friend that ever orphan was blest with, requiring my immediate attendance at Ber­ry Hill.

I obeyed,—and pardon me if I own I obeyed without reluctance; after so long a separation, should I not else have been the most ungrateful of mortals?—And yet,—oh Maria! though I wished to leave London, the gratification of my wish afforded me no happiness! and though I felt an impatience inexpressible to return hither, no words, no language can explain the heaviness [Page 70] of heart with which I made the journey. I be­lieve you would hardly have known me;—in­deed, I hardly know myself. Perhaps had I first seen you, in your kind and sympathising bosom I might have ventured to have reposed every secret of my soul; and then—but let me pursue my journal.

Mrs. Clinton delivered Madame Duval a let­ter from Mr. Villars, which requested her leave for my return, and indeed it was very readily accorded: yet, when she found, by my wil­lingness to quit town, that M. Du Bois was re­ally indifferent to me, she somewhat softened in my favour, and declared that, but for punishing his folly in thinking of such a child, she would not have consented to my being again buried in the country.

All the Branghtons called to take leave of me: but I will not write a word more about them; indeed I cannot with any patience think of that family, to whose forwardness and impertinence is owing all the uneasiness I at this moment suf­fer!

So great was the depression of my spirits up­on the road, that it was with difficulty I could persuade the worthy Mrs. Clinton I was not ill: but alas, the situation of my mind was such as would have rendered any mere bodily pain, by comparison, even enviable!

And yet, when we arrived at Berry Hill,—when the chaise stopped at this place,—how did my heart throb with joy! and when, through the window, I beheld the dearest, the most ve­nearble of men, with uplifted hands, returning, as I doubt not, thanks for my safe arrival,—good God! I thought it would have burst my bosom!—I opened the chaise-door myself, I [Page 71] flew,—for my feet did not seem to touch the ground,—into the parlour; he had risen to meet me, but the moment I appeared, he sunk into his chair, uttering with a deep sigh, though his face beamed with delight, ‘"My God, I thank thee!"’

I sprung forward, and with a pleasure that bordered upon agony, I embraced his knees, I kissed his hands, I wept over them, but could not speak: while he, now raising his eyes in thankfulness towards heaven, now bowing down his reverend head, and folding me in his arms, could scarce articulate the blessings with which his kind and benevolent heart overflowed.

O Miss Mirvan, to be so beloved by the best of men,—should I not be happy?—Should I have one wish save that of meriting his good­ness?—Yet think me not ungrateful; indeed I am not, although the internal sadness of my mind unfits me, at present, for enjoying as I ought, the bounties of Providence.

I cannot journalise; cannot arrange my ideas into order.

How little has situation to do with happi­ness! I had flattered myself that, when restor­ed to Berry Hill, I should be restored to tran­quility: far otherwise have I found it, for never yet had tranquility and Evelina so little inter­course.

I blush for what I have written: Can you, Maria, forgive my gravity? but I restrain it so much, and so painfully, in the presence of Mr. Villars, that I know not how to deny myself the consolation of indulging it to you.

Adieu, my dear Miss Mirvan.

Yet one thing I must add; do not let the seriousness of this letter deceive you: do not im­pute [Page 72] to a wrong cause the melancholy I confess, by supposing that the heart of your friend mourns a too great susceptibility; no, indeed! believe me it never was, never can be, more assuredly her own, than at this moment. So witness in all truth,

Your affectionate EVELINA.

P.S. You will make my excuses to the ho­noured Lady Howard, and to your dear mo­ther.

LETTER XII.
Evelina in continuation.

YOU accuse me of mystery, and charge me with reserve: I cannot doubt but I must have merited the accusation;—yet, to clear myself,—you know not how painful will be the task. But I cannot resist your kind entreaties,—indeed, I do not wish to resist them, for your friendship and affection will soothe my chagrin. Had it ari­sen from any other cause, not a moment would I have deferred the communication you ask;—but, as it is, I would, were it possible, not only conceal it from all the world, but endeavour to disbelieve it myself. Yet, since I must tell you, why trifle with your impatience?

I know not how to come to the point; twenty times have I attempted it in vain;—but I will force myself to proceed.

[Page 73] Oh, Miss Mirvan, could you ever have believ­ed, that one who seemed formed as a pattern for his fellow-creatures, as a model of perfection,—one whose elegance surpassed all description,—whose sweetness of manners disgraced all compari­son,—Oh, Miss Mirvan, could you ever have believed that Lord Orville would have treated me with indignity?

Never, never again will I trust to appearances,—never confide in my own weak judgment,—ne­ver believe that person to be good, who seems to be amiable! What cruel maxims are we taught by a knowledge of the world!—But while my own reflections absorb me, I forget you are still in suspence.

I had just finished the last letter which I wrote to you from London, when the maid of the house brought me a note. It was given to her, she said, by a footman, who told her he would call the next day for an answer.

This note,—but let it speak for itself.

To Miss Anville.

With transport, most charming of thy sex, did I read the letter with which you yesterday morning favoured me. I am sorry the affair of the carriage should have given you any concern, but I am highly flattered by the anxiety you ex­press so kindly. Believe me, my lovely girl, I am truly sensible of the honour of your good opi­nion, and feel myself deeply penetrated with love and gratitude. The correspondence you have so sweetly commenced I shall be proud of continu­ing, and I hope the strong sense I have or the fa­vour you do me, will prevent your withdrawing it. Assure yourself that I desire nothing more ar­dently, than to pour forth my thanks at your feet, [Page 74] and to offer those vows which are so justly the tri­bute of your charms and accomplishments. In your next, I entreat you to acquaint me how long you shall remain in town. The servant whom I shall commission to call for an answer, has orders to ride post with it to me. My impatience for his arrival will be very great, though inferior to that with which I burn, to tell you, in person, how much I am, my sweet girl,

Your grateful admirer, ORVILLE.

What a letter! how has my proud heart swelled every line I have copied! What I wrote to him you know; tell me then, my dear friend, do you think it merited such an answer?—and that I have deservedly incurred the liberty he has taken? I meant nothing but a simple apology, which I thought as much due to my own character, as to his; yet, by the construction he seems to have put upon it, should you not have imagined it con­tained the avowal of sentiments which might, in­deed, have provoked his contempt?

The moment the letter was delivered to me, I retired to my own room to read it, and so eager was my first perusal, that,—I am ashamed to own it gave me no sensation but of delight. Unsuspi­cious of any impropriety from Lord Orville, I perceived not immediately the impertinence it im­plied,—I only marked the expressions of his own regard; and I was so much surprised, that I was unable, for some time, to compose myself, or read it again,—I could only walk up and down the room, repeating to myself, ‘"Good God, is it possible?—am I, then, loved by Lord Orville?"’

But this dream was soon over, and I awoke to far different feelings; upon a second reading I thought every word changed,—it did not seem the [Page 75] same letter,—I could not find one sentence that I could look at without blushing: my astonishment was extreme, and it was succeeded by the utmost indignation.

If, as I am very ready to acknowledge, I erred in writing to Lord Orville, was it for him to pu­nish the error? If he was offended, could he not have been silent? If he thought my letter ill­judged, should he not have pitied my ignorance? have considered my youth, and allowed for my inexperience.

Oh Maria, how have I been deceived in this man! Words have no power to tell the high opi­nion I had of him; to that was owing the unfor­tunate solicitude which prompted my writing,—a solicitude I must for ever repent!

Yet perhaps I have rather reason to rejoice than to grieve, since this affair has shewn me his real disposition, and removed that partiality, which, covering his every imperfection, left only his vir­tues and good qualities exposed to view. Had the deception continued much longer, had my mind re­ceived any additional prejudice in his favour, who knows whither my mistaken ideas might have led me? Indeed I fear I was in greater danger than I apprehended, or can now think of without trembling,—for oh, if this weak heart of mine had been penetrated with too deep an impression of his merit,—my peace and happiness had been lost for ever!

I would fain encourage more chearful thoughts, fain drive from my mind the melancholy that has taken possession of it,—but I cannot succeed; for, added to the humiliating feelings which so power­fully oppress me, I have yet another cause of con­cern;—alas, my dear Maria, I have broken the tranquility of the best of men!

[Page 76] I have never had the courage to shew him this cruel letter: I could not bear so greatly to depre­ciate in his opinion, one whom I had, with infinite anxiety, raised in it myself. Indeed, my first determination was to confine my chagrin totally to my own bosom; but your friendly enquiries have drawn it from me; and now I wish I had made no concealment from the beginning, since I know not how to account for a gravity which not all my endeavours can entirely hide or re­press.

My greatest apprehensions is, lest he should imagine that my residence in London has given me a distaste to the country. Every body I see takes notice of my being altered, and looking pale and ill. I should be very indifferent to all such observations, did I not perceive that they draw upon me the eyes of Mr. Villars, which glisten with affectionate concern.

This morning, in speaking of my London ex­pedition, he mentioned Lord Orville. I felt so much disturbed, that I would instantly have changed the subject; but he would not allow me, and, very unexpectedly, he began his panegyric, extolling, in strong terms, his manly and honou­rable behaviour in regard to the Marybone ad­venture. My cheeks glowed with indignation every word he spoke;—so lately as I had myself fancied him the noblest of his sex, now that I was so well convinced of my mistake, I could not bear to hear his undeserved praises uttered by one so really good, so unsuspecting, so pure of heart!

What he thought of my silence and uneasiness I fear to know, but I hope he will mention the subject no more. I will not, however, with un­grateful indolence, give way to a sadness which [Page 77] I find infectious to him who merits the most chearful exertion of my spirits. I am thankful that he has forborne to probe my wound, and I will endeavour to heal it by the consciousness that I have not deserved the indignity I have received. Yet I cannot but lament to find myself in a world so deceitful, where we must suspect what we see, distrust what we hear, and doubt even what we feel!

LETTER XIII.
Evelina in continuation.

I MUST own myself somewhat distressed how to answer your raillery: yet believe me, my dear Maria, your suggestions are those of fancy, not of truth. I am unconscious of the weakness you suspect; yet, to dispel your doubts, I will animate myself more than ever to conquer my chagrin, and to recover my spirits.

You wonder, you say, since my heart takes no part in this affair, why it should make me so unhappy? And can you, acquainted as you are with the high opinion I entertained of Lord Or­ville, can you wonder that so great a disappoint­ment in his character should affect me? indeed, had so strange a letter been sent to me from any body, it could not have failed shocking me; how much more sensibly, then, must I feel such an affront, when received from the man in the [Page 78] world I had imagined least capable of giving it?

You are glad I made no reply; assure yourself, my dear friend, had this letter been the most re­spectful that could be written, the clandestine air given to it, by his proposal of sending his ser­vant for my answer, instead of having it directed to his house, would effectually have prevented my writing. Indeed, I have an aversion the most sincere to all mysteries, all private actions; however foolishly and blameably, in regard to this letter, I have deviated from the open path which, from my earliest infancy, I was taught to tread.

He talks of my having commenced a correspon­dence with him; and could Lord Orville indeed believe I had such a design? believe me so for­ward, so bold, so strangely ridiculous? I know not if his man called or not, but I rejoice that I quitted London before he came, and without leaving any message for him. What indeed, could I have said? it would have been a conde­scension very unmerited, to have taken any, the least notice of such a letter.

Never shall I cease to wonder how he could write it. Oh, Maria, what, what could induce him so causelessly to wound and affront one who would sooner have died than wilfully offend him?—How mortifying a freedom of style! how cruel an implication conveyed by his thanks, and expressions of gratitude! Is it not astonishing, that any man can appear so modest, who is so vain?

Every hour I regret the secrecy I have observ­ed with my beloved Mr. Villars; I know not what bewitched me, but I felt, at first, a repug­nance to publishing this affair that I could not sur­mount, [Page 79] —and now, I am ashamed of confessing that I have any thing to confess! Yet I deserve to be punished for the false delicacy which occasi­oned my silence; since, if Lord Orville him­self was contented to forfeit his character, was it for me, almost at the expence of my own, to support it?

Yet I believe I should be very easy, now the first shock is over, and now that I see the whole affair with the resentment it merits, did not all my good friends in this neighbourhood, who think me extremely altered, teaze me about my gravity, and torment Mr. Villars with observations upon my dejection, and falling away. The subject is no sooner started, than a deep gloom overspreads his venerable countenance, and he looks at me with a tenderness so melancholy, that I know not how to endure the consciousness of exci­ting it.

Mrs. Selwyn, a lady of large fortune, who lives about three miles from Berry Hill, and who has always honoured me with very distinguishing marks of regard, is going, in a short time, to Bristol, and has proposed to Mr. Villars to take me with her, for the recovery of my health. He seemed very much distressed whether to consent or refuse; but I, without any hesitation, warmly opposed the scheme, protesting my health could no where be better than in this pure air. He had the goodness to thank me for this readiness to stay with him: but he is all goodness! Oh that it were in my power to be, indeed, what in the kindness of his heart he has called me, the comfort of his age, and solace of his infir­mities!

Never do I wish to be again separated from him. If here I am grave, elsewhere I should be [Page 80] unhappy. In his presence, with a very little ex­ertion, all the chearfulness of my disposition seems ready to return; the benevolence of his counte­nance reanimates, the harmony of his temper com­poses, the purity of his character edifies me! I owe to him every thing; and, far from finding my debt of gratitude a weight, the first pride, first pleasure of my life is the recollection of the obligations conferred upon me by a goodness so unequalled.

Once, indeed, I thought there existed another,—who, when time had wintered o'er his locks, would have shone forth among his fellow-crea­tures, with the same brightness of worth which dignifies my honoured Mr. Villars; a brightness, how superior in value to that which results from mere quickness of parts, wit, or imagination! a brightness, which, not contented with merely diffusing smiles, and gaining admiration from the sallies of the spirits, reflects a real and a glorious lustre upon all mankind! Oh how great was my error! how ill did I judge! how cruelly have I been deceived!

I will not go to Bristol, though Mrs. Selwyn is very urgent with me;—but I desire not to see any more of the world; the few months I have already passed in it, have sufficed to give me a dis­gust even to its name.

I hope, too, I shall see Lord Orville no more; accustomed, from my first knowledge of him, to regard him as a being superior to his race, his pre­sence, perhaps, might banish my resentment, and I might forget his ill conduct,—for oh, Maria!—I should not know how to see Lord Orville—and to think of displeasure!

As a sister I loved him,—I could have entrust­ed him with every thought of my heart, had he [Page 81] deigned to wish my confidence; so steady did I think his honour, so feminine his delicacy, and so amiable his nature! I have a thousand times ima­gined that the whole study of his life, and whole purport of his reflections, tended solely to the good and happiness of others:—but I will talk,—write,—think of him no more!

Adieu, my dear friend!

LETTER XIV.
Evelina in continuation.

YOU complain of my silence, my dear Miss Mirvan,—but what have I to write? Narrative does not offer, nor does a lively imagination sup­ply the deficiency. I have, however, at present, sufficient matter for a letter, in relating a conver­sation I had yesterday with Mr. Villars.

Our breakfast had been the most chearful we have had since my return hither; and, when it was over, he did not, as usual, retire to his study, but continued to converse with me while I work­ed. We might, probably, have passed all the morning thus sociably, but for the entrance of a farmer, who came to solicit advice concerning some domestic affairs. They withdrew together into the study.

The moment I was alone, my spirits failed me; the exertion with which I had supported them, had fatigued my mind: I flung away my work, [Page 82] and, leaning my arms on the table, gave way to a train of disagreeable reflections, which, burst­ing from the restraint that had smothered them, filled me with unusual sadness.

This was my situation, when, looking towards the door, which was open, I perceived Mr. Vil­lars, who was earnestly regarding me, ‘"Is Far­mer Smith gone, Sir?"’ cried I, hastily rising, and snatching up my work.

‘"Don't let me disturb you,"’ said he, grave­ly; ‘"I will go again to my study."’

‘"Will you, Sir?—I was in hopes you were coming to sit here."’

‘"In hopes!—and why, Evelina, should you hope it?"’

This question was so unexpected, that I knew not how to answer it; but, as I saw he was mov­ing away, I followed, and begged him to re­turn.

‘"No, my dear, no,"’ said he, with a forced smile, ‘"I only interrupt your meditations."’

Again I knew not what to say; and while I he­sitated, he retired. My heart was with him, but I had not the courage to follow. The idea of an explanation, brought on in so seri­ous a manner, frightened me. I recollected the suspicion you had drawn from my uneasiness, and I feared that he might make a similar interpre­tation.

Solitary and thoughtful, I passed the rest of the morning in my own room. At dinner I a­gain attempted to be chearful; but Mr. Villars himself was grave, and I had not sufficient spirits to support a conversation merely by my own efforts. As soon as dinner was over, he took a book, and I walked to the window. I believe I remained near an hour in this situation. All [Page 83] my thoughts were directed to considering how I might dispel the doubts which I apprehended Mr. Villars had formed, without acknowledging a circumstance which I had suffered so much pain merely to conceal. But while I was thus planning for the future, I forgot the present; and so in­tent was I upon the subject which occupied me, that the strange appearance of my unusual in­activity, and extreme thoughtfulness, never oc­curred to me. But when, at last, I recollected myself, and turned round, I saw that Mr. Vil­lars had parted with his book, and was wholly engrossed in attending to me. I started from my reverie, and, hardly knowing what I said, asked if he had been reading?

He paused a moment, and then said, ‘"Yes, my child;—a book that both afflicts and perplex­es me!"’

He means me, thought I; and therefore I made no answer.

‘"What if we read it together?"’ continu­ed he, ‘"will you assist me to clear its obscur­ity?"’

I knew not what to say, but I sighed, invo­luntarily, from the bottom of my heart. He rose, and, approaching me, said, with emotion, ‘"My child, I can no longer be a silent wit­ness of thy sorrow,—is not thy sorrow my sor­row?—and ought I to be a stranger to the cause, when I so deeply sympathise in the ef­fect?"’

‘"Cause, Sir,"’ cried I, greatly alarmed,—‘"what cause?—I don't know, I can't tell,—I—"’

‘"Fear not,"’ said he, kindly, ‘"to unbo­som thyself to me, my dearest Evelina; open to me thy whole heart,—it can have no feelings [Page 84] for which I will not make allowance. Tell me, therefore, what it is that thus afflicts us both, and who knows but I may suggest some means of relief?"’

‘"You are too, too good,"’ cried I, greatly embarrassed; ‘"but indeed I know not what you mean."’

‘"I see,"’ said he, ‘"it is painful to you to speak: suppose, then, I endeavour to save you by guessing?"’

‘"Impossible! impossible!"’ cried I, eagerly, ‘"no one living could ever guess, ever sup­pose—"’ I stopped abruptly; for I then recol­lected, I was acknowledging something was to be guessed: however, he noticed not my mis­take.

‘"At least let me try,"’ answered he, mild­ly; ‘"perhaps I may be a better diviner than you imagine: if I guess every thing that is pro­bable, surely I must approach near the real rea­son. Be honest, then, my love, and speak without reserve,—does not the country, after so much gaiety, so much variety, does it not appear insipid and tiresome?"’

‘"No, indeed!" I love it more than ever, and more than ever do I wish I had never, never quitted it!"’

‘"Oh, my child! that I had not permitted the journey! My judgment always opposed it, but my resolution was not proof against persua­sion."’

‘"I blush, indeed,"’ cried I, ‘"to recollect my earnestness;—but I have been my own pu­nisher!"’

‘"It is too late, now,"’ answered he, ‘"to re­flect upon this subject; let us endeavour to a­void repentance for the time to come, and we [Page 85] shall not have erred without reaping some in­struction."’ Then seating himself, and making me sit by him, he continued: ‘"I must now guess again; perhaps you regret the loss of those friends you knew in town,—perhaps you miss their so­ciety, and fear you may see them no more?—perhaps Lord Orville—"’

I could not keep my seat, but rising hastily, said, ‘"Dear Sir, ask me nothing more!—for I have nothing to own,—nothing to say;—my gravity has been merely accidental, and I can give no reason for it at all. Shall I fetch you ano­ther book?—or will you have this again?"’

For some minutes he was totally silent, and I pretended to employ myself in looking for a book. At last, with a deep sigh, ‘"I see,"’ said he, ‘"I see, but too plainly, that though Evelina is returned,—I have lost my child!"’

‘"No, Sir, no,"’ cried I, inexpressibly shock­ed, ‘"she is more yours than ever! Without you, the world would be a desart to her, and life a burthen;—forgive her then, and—if you can,—condescend to be, once more, the confident of all her thoughts."’

‘"How highly I value, how greatly I wish for her confidence,"’ returned he, ‘"she cannot but know;—yet to extort, to tear it from her,—my justice, my affection, both revolt at the idea. I am sorry that I was so earnest with you;—leave me, my dear, leave me and compose yourself;—we will meet again at tea."’

‘"Do you then refuse to hear me?"’

‘"No, but I abhor to compel you. I have long seen that your mind has been ill at ease, and mine has largely partaken of your concern: I forbore to question you, for I hoped that time, and absence from whatever excited your uneasi­ness, [Page 86] might best operate in silence: but, alas! your affliction seems only to augment,—your health declines,—your look alters.—Oh, Evelina, my aged heart bleeds to see the change!—bleeds to behold the darling it had cherished, the prop it had reared for its support, when bowed down by years and infirmities, sinking itself under the pressure of internal grief!—struggling to hide, what it should seek to participate!—But go, my dear, go to your own room,—we both want com­posure, and we will talk of this matter some other time."’

‘"Oh Sir,"’ cried I, penetrated to the soul, ‘"bid me not leave you!—think me not so lost to feeling, to gratitude—"’

‘"Not a word of that,"’ interrupted he; ‘"it pains me you should think upon that subject; pains me you should ever remember that you have not a natural, an hereditary right to every thing within my power. I meant not to affect you thus,—I hoped to have soothed you!—but my anxiety betrayed me to an urgency that has distressed you. Comfort yourself, my love, and doubt not but that time will stand your friend, and all will end well."’

I burst into tears: with difficulty had I so long restrained them; for my heart, while it glowed with tenderness and gratitude, was oppressed with a sense of its own unworthiness. ‘"You are all, all goodness!"’ cried I, in a voice scarce audi­ble, ‘"little as I deserve,—unable as I am to re­pay, such kindness,—yet my whole soul feels,—thanks you for it!"’

‘"My dearest child,"’ cried he, ‘"I cannot bear to see thy tears;—for my sake dry them,—such a sight is too much for me: think of that, Evelina, and take comfort, I charge thee!"’

[Page 87] ‘"Say then,"’ cried I, kneeling at his feet, ‘"say then that you forgive me! that you par­don my reserve,—that you will again suffer me to tell you my most secret thoughts, and rely up­on my promise never more to forfeit your con­fidence!—my father!—my protector!—my ever honoured,—ever loved,—my best and only friend!—say you forgive your Evelina, and she will study better to deserve your goodness!"’

He raised, he embraced me; he called me his sole joy, his only earthly hope, and the child of his bosom! He folded me to his heart, and, while I wept from the fulness of mine, with words of sweetest kindness and consolation, he soothed and tranquilised me.

Dear to my remembrance will ever be that moment, when, banishing the reserve I had so foolishly planned, and so painfully supported, I was restored to the confidence of the best of men!

When, at length, we were again quietly and composedly seated by each other, and Mr. Vil­lars waited for the explanation I had begged him to hear, I found myself extremely embarrassed how to introduce the subject which must lead to it. He saw my distress, and, with a kind of benevolent pleasantry, asked me if I would let him guess any more? I assented in silence.

‘"Shall I, then, go back to where I left off?"’

‘"If—if you please;—I believe so,—"’ said I, stammering.

‘"Well then, my love, I think, I was speak­ing of the regret it was natural you should feel upon quitting those from whom you had received civility and kindness, with so little certainty of ever seeing them again, or being able to return [Page 88] their good offices? These are circumstances that afford but melancholy reflections to young minds; and the affectionate disposition of my Evelina, open to all social feelings, must be hurt more than usual by such considerations.—You are silent, my dear?—Shall I name those whom I think most worthy the regret I speak of? We shall then see if our opinions coincide."’

Still I said nothing, and he continued.

‘"In your London journal, nobody appears in a more amiable, a more respectable light, than Lord Orville, and perhaps—"’

‘"I knew what you would say,"’ cried I, hast­ily, ‘"and I have long feared where your suspi­cions would fall; but indeed, Sir, you are mis­taken; I hate Lord Orville,—he is the last man in the world in whose favour I should be preju­diced."’

I stopped; for Mr. Villars looked at me with such infinite surprise, that my own warmth made me blush. ‘"You hate Lord Orville!"’ re­peated he.

I could make no answer, but took from my pocket-book the letter, and, giving it to him, ‘"See, Sir,"’ said I, ‘"how differently the same man can talk, and write!"’

He read it three times ere he spoke; and then said, ‘"I am so much astonished, that I know not what I read. When had you this let­ter?"’

I told him. Again he read it; and, after con­sidering its contents some time, said, ‘"I can form but one conjecture concerning this most ex­traordinary performance: he must certainly have been intoxicated when he wrote it."’

‘"Lord Orville intoxicated!"’ repeated I; ‘"once I thought him a stranger to all intempe­rance, [Page 89] —but it is very possible, for I can believe any thing now."’

‘"That a man who had behaved with so strict a regard to delicacy,"’ continued Mr. Villars, ‘"and who, as far as occasion had allowed, manifested sentiments the most honourable, should thus insolently, thus wantonly, insult a modest young woman, in his perfect senses, I cannot think possible. But, my dear, you should have inclosed this letter in an empty cover, and have returned it to him again: such a resentment would at once have become your character, and have given him an opportunity, in some mea­sure, of clearing his own. He could not well have read this letter the next morning, without being sensible of the impropriety of having writ­ten it."’

Oh Maria! why had not I this thought? I might then have received some apology; the mortification would then have been his, not mine. It is true, he could not have reinstated himself so highly in my opinion as I had once ignorantly placed him, since the conviction of such intem­perance would have levelled him with the rest of his imperfect race; yet, my humbled pride might have been consoled by his acknowledg­ments.

But why should I allow myself to be humbled by a man who can suffer his reason to be thus ab­jectly debased, when I am exalted by one who knows no vice, and scarcely a failing,—but by hearsay? To think of his kindness, and reflect upon his praises, might animate and comfort me even in the midst of affliction. ‘"Your indigna­tion,’ "said he, ‘is the result of virtue; you fan­cied Lord Orville was without fault—he had the appearance of infinite worthiness, and you suppo­sed [Page 90] his character accorded with his appearance: guileless yourself, how could you prepare against the duplicity of another? Your disappointment has but been proportioned to your expectations, and you have chiefly owed its severity to the in­nocence which hid its approach."’

I will bid these words dwell ever in my memo­ry, and they shall chear, comfort, and enliven me! This conversation, though extremely af­fecting to me at the time it passed, has relieved my mind from much anxiety. Concealment, my dear Maria, is the foe of tranquility: however I may err in future, I will never be disingenu­ous in acknowledging my errors. To you, and to Mr. Villars, I vow an unremitting confi­dence.

And yet, though I am more at ease, I am far from well: I have been some time writing this letter; but I hope I shall send you, soon, a more chearful one.

Adieu, my sweet friend. I entreat you not to acquaint even your dear mother with this affair; Lord Orville is a favourite with her, and why should I publish that he deserves not that ho­nour?

LETTER XV.
Evelina in continuation.

YOU will be again surprised, my dear Maria, at seeing whence I date my letter: but I have been very ill, and Mr. Villars was so much alarmed, that he not only insisted upon my accompanying [Page 91] Mrs. Selwyn hither, but earnestly desired she would hasten her intended journey.

We travelled very slowly, and I did not find myself so much fatigued as I expected. We are situated upon a most delightful spot; the prospect is beautiful, the air pure, and the weather very favourable to invalids. I am already better, and I doubt not but I shall soon be well; as well, in regard to mere health, as I wish to be.

I cannot express the reluctance with which I parted from my reverend Mr. Villars: it was not like that parting which, last April, preceded my journey to Howard Grove, when, all expectati­on and hope, tho' I wept, I rejoiced, and though I sincerely grieved to leave him, I yet wished to be gone: the sorrow I now felt was unmixed with any livelier sensation; expectation was vanished, and hope I had none! All that I held most dear upon earth, I quitted, and that upon an errand to the success of which I was totally indifferent, the re-establishment of my health. Had it been to have seen my sweet Maria, or her dear mo­ther, I should not have repined.

Mrs. Selwyn is very kind and attentive to me. She is extremely clever; her understanding, in­deed, may be called masculine; but, unfortu­nately, her manners deserve the same epithet; for, in studying to acquire the knowledge of the other sex, she has lost all the softness of her own. In regard to myself, however, as I have neither courage nor inclination to argue with her, I have never been personally hurt at her want of gentle­ness; a virtue which, nevertheless, seems so es­sential a part of the female character, that I find myself more awkward, and less at ease, with a woman who wants it, than I do with a man. She is not a favourite with Mr. Villars, who has often [Page 92] been disgusted at her unmerciful propensity to sa­tire: but his anxiety that I should try the effect of the Bristol waters, overcame his dislike of committing me to her care. Mrs. Clinton is also here; so that I shall be as well attended as his ut­most partiality could desire.

I will continue to write to you, my dear Miss Mirvan, with as much constancy as if I had no other correspondent; tho', during my absence from Berry Hill, my letters may, perhaps, be shortened on account of the minuteness of the journal which I must write to my beloved Mr. Villars: but you, who know his expectations, and how many ties bind me to fulfil them, will, I am sure, rather excuse any omission to yourself, than any negligence to him.

LETTER XVI.
Evelina to the Rev. Mr. Villars.

THE first fortnight that I passed here, was so quiet, so serene, that it gave me reason to expect a settled calm during my stay; but if I may now judge of the time to come, by the present state of my mind, the calm will be succeeded by a storm, of which I dread the violence!

This morning, in my way to the pump-room, with Mrs. Selwyn, we were both very much in­commoded by three gentlemen, who were saun­tering by the side of the Avon, laughing and talking very loud, and lounging so disagreeably that we knew not how to pass them. They all three fixed their eyes very boldly upon me, al­ternately [Page 93] looking under my hat, and whispering one another. Mrs. Selwyn assumed an air of un­common sternness, and said, ‘"You will please, gentlemen, either to proceed yourselves, or to suffer us."’

‘"Oh! Ma'am,"’ cried one of them, ‘"we will suffer you, with the greatest pleasure in life."’

‘"You will suffer us both,"’ answered she, ‘"or I am much mistaken; you had better, therefore, make way quietly, for I should be sor­ry to give my servant the trouble of teaching you better manners."’

Her commanding air struck them, yet they all chose to laugh, and one of them wished the fellow would begin his lesson, that he might have the pleasure of rolling him into the Avon; while ano­ther, advancing to me with a freedom that made me start, said, ‘"By my soul, I did not know you!—but I am sure I cannot be mistaken;—had not I the honour of seeing you, once, at the Pantheon?"’

I then recollected the nobleman who, at that place, had so much embarrassed me. I courtsied without speaking. They all bowed, and making, though in a very easy manner, an apology to Mrs. Selwyn, they suffered us to pass on, but chose to accompany us.

‘"And where,"’ continued this Lord, ‘"can you so long have hid yourself? do you know I have been in search of you this age? I could nei­ther find you out, nor hear of you; not a crea­ture could inform me what was become of you. I cannot imagine where you could be immured. I went to two or three public places every night, in hopes of meeting you. Pray did you leave town?"’

‘"Yes, my Lord."’

[Page 94] ‘"So early in the season!—what could possibly induce you to go before the birth-day?"’

‘"I had nothing, my Lord, to do with the birth-day."’

‘"By my soul, all the women who had, may rejoice you were away. Have you been here any time?"’

‘"Not above a fortnight, my Lord."’

‘"A fortnight!—how unlucky that I did not meet you sooner! but I have had a run of ill luck ever since I came. How long shall you stay?"’

‘"Indeed, my Lord, I don't know."’

‘"Six weeks, I hope; for I shall wish the place at the devil when you go."’

‘"Do you, then, flatter yourself, my Lord,"’ said Mrs. Selwin, who had hitherto listened in si­lent contempt, ‘"that you shall see such a beauti­ful spot as this when you visit the dominions of the devil?"’

‘"Ha, ha, ha! Faith, my Lord,’ "said one of his companions, who still walked with us, though the other had taken leave; ‘"the lady is rather hard upon you."’

‘"Not at all,"’ answered Mrs. Selwyn; ‘"for as I cannot doubt but his Lordship's rank and interest will secure him a place there, it would be reflect­ing on his understanding, to suppose he should not wish to enlarge and beautify his dwelling."’

Much as I was disgusted with this Lord, I must own Mrs. Selwyn's severity rather surprised me; but you, who have so often observed it, will not wonder she took so fair an opportun [...]ty of indulg­ing her humour.

‘"As to places,"’ returned he, totally unmov­ed, ‘"I am so indifferent to them, that the devil take me, if I care which way I go! objects, in­deed, I am not so easy about; and therefore I ex­pect [Page 95] that those angels with whose beauty I am so much enraptured in this world, will have the goodness to afford me some little consolation in the other."’

‘"What, my Lord!"’ cried Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"would you wish to degrade the habitation of your friend, by admitting into it the insipid com­pany of the upper regions?"’

‘"What do you do with yourself this even­ing?"’ said his Lordship, turning to me.

‘"I shall be at home, my Lord."’

‘"O, a-propos—where are you?"’

‘"Young ladies, my Lord,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"are no where."’

‘"Prithee,"’ whispered his Lordship, ‘"is that queer woman your mother?"’

Good Heavens, Sir, what words for such a question!

‘"No, my Lord."’

‘"Your maiden aunt, then?"’

‘"No."’

‘"Whoever she is, I wish she would mind her own affairs: I don't know what the devil a woman lives for after thirty: she is only in other folks way. Shall you be at the assemb­ly?"’

‘"I believe not, my Lord."’

‘"No!—why then how in the world can you contrive to pass your time?"’

‘"In a manner that your Lordship will think very extraordinary,"’ cried Mrs. Selwyn; ‘"for the young lady reads."’

‘"Ha, ha, ha! Egad, my Lord,"’ cried the facetious companion, ‘"you are got into bad hands"’

‘"You had better, Madam,"’ answered he, [Page 96] ‘"attack Jack Coverley, here, for you will make nothing of me."’

‘"Of you, my Lord!"’ cried she; ‘"Heaven forbid I should ever entertain so idle an expectati­on! I only talk, like a silly woman, for the sake of talking; but I have by no means so low an opinion of your Lordship, as to suppose you vulnerable to censure."’

‘"Do pray, Ma'am,"’ cried he, ‘"turn to Jack Coverley; he's the very man for you;—he'd be a wit himself if he was n't too modest."’

‘"Prithee, my Lord, be quiet,"’ returned the other; ‘if the Lady is contented to bestow all her favours upon you, why should you make such a point of my going snacks?"’

‘"Don't be apprehensive, Gentlemen,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, drily, ‘"I am not romantic,—I have not the least design of doing good to either of you."’

‘"Have not you been ill since I saw you?"’ said his Lordship, again addressing himself to me.

‘"Yes, my Lord."’

‘"I thought so; you are paler than you was, and I suppose that's the reason I did not recollect you sooner."’

‘"Has not your Lordship too much gallantry,"’ cried Mrs. Selwyn, ‘to discover a young lady's illness by her looks?"’

‘"The devil a word can I speak for that wo­man,"’ said he, in a low voice; ‘"do, prithee, Jack, take her in hand."’

‘"Excuse me, my Lord!"’ answered Mr. Coverley.

‘"When shall I see you again?"’ continued his Lordship; ‘"do you go to the pump-room every morning?"’

[Page 97] ‘"No, my Lord."’

‘"Do you ride out?"’

‘"No, my Lord."’

Just then we arrived at the pump-room, and an end was put to our conversation, if it is not an abuse of words to give such a term to a string of rude questions and free compliments.

He had not opportunity to say much more to me, as Mrs. Selwyn joined a large party, and I walked home between two ladies. He had how­ever, the curiosity to see us to the door.

Mrs. Selwyn was very eager to know how I had made acquaintance with this nobleman, whose manners so evidently announced the character of a confirmed libertine: I could give her very lit­tle satisfaction, as I was ignorant even of his name. But, in the afternoon, Mr. Ridgeway, the apo­thecary, gave us very ample information.

As his person was easily described, for he is remarkably tall, Mr. Ridgeway told us he was Lord Merton, a nobleman but lately come to his title, though he had already dissipated more than half his fortune: a professed admirer of beauty, but a man of most licentious character: that among men, his companions consisted chiefly of gamblers and jockies, and among women, he was rarely admitted.

‘"Well, Miss Anville,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"I am glad I was not more civil to him. You may depend upon me for keeping him at a dis­tance."’

‘"O, Madam,"’ said Mr. Ridgeway, ‘"he may now be admitted any where, for he is going to reform."’

‘"Has he, under that notion, persuaded any fool to marry him?"’

[Page 98] ‘"Not yet, Madam, but a marriage is expect­ed to take place shortly: it has been some time in agitation, but the friends of the Lady have ob­liged her to wait till she is of age: however, her brother, who has chiefly opposed the match, now that she is near being at her own disposal, is tolerably quiet. She is very pretty, and will have a large fortune. We expect her at the Wells every day."’

‘"What is her name?"’ said Mrs. Selwyn.

‘"Larpent,"’ answered he, ‘"Lady Louisa Larpent, sister of Lord Orville."’

‘"Lord Orville!"’ repeated I, all amazement.

‘Yes, Ma'am; his Lordship is coming with her. I have had certain information. They are to be at the honourable Mrs. Beaumont's. She is a re­lation of my Lord's, and has a very fine house upon Clifton Hill."’

His Lordship is coming with her!—Good God, what an emotion did those words give me! How strange, my dear Sir, that, just at this time, he should visit Bristol! It will be impossible for me to avoid seeing him, as Mrs. Selwyn is very well acquainted with Mrs. Beaumont. Indeed, I have had an escape in not being under the same roof with him, for Mrs. Beaumont invited us to her house immediately upon our arrival; but the in­conveniency of being so distant from the pump­room made Mrs. Selwyn decline her civility.

Oh that the first meeting was over!—or that I could quit Bristol without seeing him!—inexpres­sibly do I dread an interview: should the same impertinent freedom be expressed by his looks, which dictated his cruel letter, I shall not know how to endure either him or myself. Had I but returned it, I should be easier, because my senti­ments of it would then be known to him; but [Page 99] now, he can only gather them from my behavi­our, and I tremble lest he should mistake my in­dignation for confusion!—lest he should miscon­strue my reserve into embarrassment!—for how, my dearest Sir, how shall I be able totally to di­vest myself of the respect with which I have been used to think of him?—the pleasure with which I have been used to see him?

Surely he, as well as I, must think of the letter at the moment of our meeting, and he will, pro­bably, mean to gather my thoughts of it from my looks;—oh that they could but convey to him my real detestation of impertinence and vanity! then would he see how much he had mis­taken my disposition when he imagined them my due.

There was a time, when the very idea that such a man as Lord Merton would ever be con­nected with Lord Orville, would have both surprised and shocked me, and even yet I am pleased to hear of his repugnance to the mar­riage.

But how strange, that a man of so abandoned a character should be the choice of a sister of Lord Orville! and how strange that, almost at the moment of the union, he should be so im­portunate in gallantry to another woman! What a world is this we live in! how corrupt, how de­generate! well might I be contented to see no more of it! If I find that the eyes of Lord Orville agree with his pen,—I shall then think, that of all mankind, the only virtuous individual resides at Berry Hill!

LETTER XVII.
Evelina in continuation.

OH Sir, Lord Orville is still himself! still, what from the moment I beheld, I believed him to be, all that was amiable in man! and your hap­py Evelina, restored at once to spirits and tran­quility, is no longer sunk in her own opinion, nor discontented with the world;—no longer, with dejected eyes, sees the prospect of passing her fu­ture days in sadness, doubt, and suspicion!—with revived courage she now looks forward, and ex­pects to meet with goodness, even among man­kind;—though still she feels, as strongly as ever, the folly of hoping, in any second instance, to meet with perfection.

Your conjecture was certainly right; Lord Orville, when he wrote that letter, could not be in his senses. Oh that intemperance should have power to degrade so low, a man so noble!

This morning I accompanied Mrs. Selwyn to Clifton Hill, where, beautifully situated, is the house of Mrs. Beaumont. Most uncomfortable were my feelings during our walk, which was very slow, for the agitation of my mind made me more than usually sensible how weak I still conti­nue. As we entered the house, I summoned all my resolution to my aid, determined rather to die than give Lord Orville reason to attribute my weakness to a wrong cause. I was happily reliev­ed from my perturbation, when I saw Mrs. Beau­mont was alone. We sat with her for, I believe, [Page 101] an hour without interruption, and then we saw a phaeton drive up to the gate, and a lady and gen­tleman alight from it.

They entered the parlour with the ease of peo­ple who were at home. The gentleman, I soon saw, was Lord Merton; he came shuffling into the room with his boots on, and his whip in his hand; and, having made something like a bow to Mrs. Beaumont, he turned towards me. His sur­prise was very evident, but he took no manner of notice of me. He waited, I believe, to discover, first, what chance had brought me to that house, where he did not look much rejoiced at meeting me. He seated himself very quietly at the win­dow, without speaking to any body.

Mean time, the lady, who seemed very young, hobbling rather than walking into the room, made a passing courtsie to Mrs. Beaumont, saying, ‘"How are you, Ma'am?"’ and then, without noticing any body else, with an air of languor, she flung herself upon a sofa, protesting, in a most affected voice, and speaking so softly she could hardly be heard, that she was fatigued to death. ‘"Really, Ma'am, the roads are so monstrous dusty,—you can't imagine how troublesome the dust is to one's eyes!—and the sun, too, is mon­strous disagreeable!—I dare say I shall be so tanned I sha'n't be fit to be seen this age. Indeed, my Lord, I won't go out with you any more, for you don't care where you take one."’

‘"Upon my honour,"’ said Lord Merton, ‘"I took you the pleasantest ride in England; the fault was in the sun not me."’

‘"Your Lordship is in the right,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"to transfer the fault to the sun, because it has so many excellencies to counterbalance par­tial [Page 102] inconveniencies, that a little blame will not in­jure that in our estimation."’

Lord Merton looked by no means delighted at this attack; which I believe she would not so readily have made, but to revenge his neglect of us.

‘"Did you meet your brother, Lady Louisa?"’ said Mrs. Beaumont.

‘"No, Ma'am. Is he rode out this morn­ing?"’

I then found, what I had before suspected, that this Lady was Lord Orville's sister: how strange, that such near relations should be so different to each other! There is, indeed, some resemblance in their features, but in their manners, not the least.

‘"Yes,"’ answered Mrs. Beaumont, ‘"and I believe he wished to see you."’

‘"My Lord drove so monstrous fast,"’ said Lady Louisa, ‘"that perhaps we passed him. He frighted me out of my senses; I declare my head is quite giddy. Do you know, Ma'am, we have done nothing but quarrel all the morning?—You can't think how I've scolded;—have not I, my Lord?"’ and she smiled expressively at Lord Merton.

‘"You have been, as you always are,"’ said he, twisting his whip with his fingers, ‘"all sweetness."’

‘"O fie, my Lord,"’ cried she, ‘"I know you don't think so; I know you think me very ill­natured;—don't you, my Lord?"’

‘"No, upon my honour;—how can your Ladyship ask such a question? Pray how goes time? my watch stands."’

‘"It is almost three,"’ answered Mrs. Beau­mont.

[Page 103] ‘"Lord, Ma'am, you frighten me!"’ cried Lady Louisa; and then turning to Lord Merton, ‘"why now, you wicked creature, you, did not you tell me it was but one?"’

Mrs. Selwyn then rose to take leave; but Mrs. Beaumont asked if she would look at the shrubbery. ‘"I should like it much,"’ answered she, ‘"but that I fear to fatigue Miss Anville."’

Lady Louisa then, raising her head from her hand, on which it had leant, turned round to look at me, and, having fully satisfied her curiosity, without any regard to the confusion it gave me, turned about, and, again leaning on her hand, took no further notice of me.

I declared myself very able to walk, and begged that I might accompany them. ‘"What say you, Lady Louisa,"’ cried Mrs. Beaumont, ‘"to a strole in the garden?"’

‘"Me, Ma'am!—I declare I can't stir a step; the heat is so excessive, it would kill me. I'm half dead with it already; besides, I shall have no time to dress. Will any body be here to day, Ma'am?"’

‘"I believe not, unless Lord Merton will fa­vour us with his company."’

‘"With great pleasure, Madam."’

‘"Well, I declare you don't deserve to be ask­ed,"’ cried Lady Louisa, ‘"you wicked creature, you!—I must tell you one thing, Ma'am,—you can't think how abominable he was! do you know we met Mr. Lovel in his new phaeton, and my Lord was so cruel as to drive against it?—we real­ly flew. I declare I could not breathe. Upon my word, my Lord, I'll never trust myself with you again,—I won't indeed!"’

We then went into the garden, leaving them to discuss the point at their leisure.

[Page 104] Do you remember a pretty but affected young la­dy I mentioned to have seen, in Lord Orville's party, at the Pantheon? How little did I then imagine her to be his sister! yet Lady Louisa Lar­pent is the very person. I can now account for the piqued manner of her speaking to Lord Mer­ton that evening, and I can now account for the air of displeasure with which Lord Orville mark­ed the undue attention of his future brother-in-law to me.

We had not walked long, ere, at a distance, I perceived Lord Orville, who seemed just dis­mounted from his horse, enter the garden, All my perturbation returned at the sight of him!—yet I endeavoured to repress every feel­ing but resentment. As he approached us, he bowed to the whole party; but I turned away my head, to avoid taking any share in his civi­lity. Addressing himself immediately to Mrs. Beaumont, he was beginning to enquire after his sister, but upon seeing my face, he sudden­ly exclaimed ‘"Miss Anville!—"’ and then he advanced, and made his compliments to me,—not with an air of vanity or impertinence, nor yet with a look of consciousness or shame,—but with a countenance open, manly, and charm­ing!—with a smile that indicated pleasure, and eyes that sparkled with delight! on my side was all the consciousness, for by him, I really believe, the letter was, at that moment, entirely forgot­ten.

With what politeness did he address me! with what sweetness did he look at me! the very tone of his voice seemed flattering! he congra­tulated himself upon his good fortune in meet­ing with me,—hoped I should spend some time at Bristol, and enquired, even with anxiety en­quired, [Page 105] if my health was the cause of my journey, in which case his satisfaction would be converted into apprehension.

Yet, struck as I was with his manner, and charmed to find him such as he was wont to be, imagine not, my dear Sir, that I forgot the resentment I owe him, or the cause he has given me of displeasure; no, my behaviour was such as, I hope, had you seen, you would not have disapproved: I was grave and distant, I scarce looked at him when he spoke, or answered him when he was silent.

As he must certainly observe this alteration in my conduct, I think it could not fail making him both recollect and repent the provocation he had so causelessly given me: for surely he was not so wholly lost to reason, as to be now ignorant he had ever offended me.

The moment that, without absolute rudeness, I was able, I turned entirely from him, and asked Mrs. Selwyn if we should not be late home. How Lord Orville looked I know not, for I avoided meeting his eyes, but he did not speak another word as we proceeded to the garden-gate. Indeed I believe my abruptness surprised him, for he did not seem to expect I had so much spirit. And, to own the truth, convinced as I was of the propriety, nay, ne­cessity of shewing my displeasure, I yet almost hated myself for receiving his politeness so un­graciously.

When we were taking leave, my eyes accident­ally meeting his, I could not but observe that his gravity equalled my own, for it had entirely tak­en place of the smiles and good-humour with which he had met me.

[Page 106] ‘"I am afraid this young Lady,"’ said Mrs. Beaumont, ‘"is too weak for another long walk till she is again rested."’

‘"If the Ladies will trust to my driving,"’ said Lord Orville, ‘"and are not afraid of a phaeton, mine shall be ready in a moment."’

‘"You are very good, my Lord,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"but my will is yet unsigned, and I don't chuse to venture in a phaeton with a young man while that is the case."’

‘"O,"’ cried Mrs. Beaumont, ‘"you need not be afraid of my Lord Orville, for he is remark­ably careful."’

‘"Well, Miss Anville,"’ answered she, ‘"what say you?"’

‘"Indeed,"’ cried I, ‘"I had much rather walk.—"’ But then, looking at Lord Orville, I perceived in his face a surprise so serious at my abrupt refusal, that I could not forbear adding, ‘"for I should be sorry to occasion so much trou­ble."’

Lord Orville brightening at these words, came forward, and pressed his offer in a manner not to be denied;—so the phaeton was ordered! And in­deed, my dear Sir,—I know not how it was,—but, from that moment, my coldness and reserve insensibly wore away! You must not be angry;—it was my intention, nay, my endeavour, to sup­port them with firmness; but, when I formed the plan, I thought only of the letter,—not of Lord Orville;—and how is it possible for resentment to subsist without provocation? yet, believe me, my dearest Sir, had he sustained the part he began to act when he wrote the ever-to-be regretted letter, your Evelina would not have forfeited her title to your esteem, by contentedly submitting to be treat­ed with indignity.

[Page 107] We continued in the garden till the phaeton was ready. When we parted from Mrs. Beau­mont, she repeated her invitation to Mrs. Selwyn to accept an apartment in her house, but the same reasons made it be again declined.

Lord Orville drove very slow, and so cautious­ly, that, notwithstanding the height of the phae­ton, fear would have been ridiculous. I support­ed no part in the conversation, but Mrs. Selwyn extremely well supplied the place of two. Lord Orville himself did not speak much, but the ex­cellent sense and refined good-breeding which ac­company every word he utters, give a zest to whatever he says.

‘"I suppose, my Lord,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"when we stopped at our lodgings, you would have been extremely confused had we met any gentlemen who have the honour of knowing you."’

‘"If I had,"’ answered he, gallantly, ‘"it would have been from mere compassion at their envy."’

‘"No, my Lord,"’ answered she, ‘"it would have been from mere shame, that, in an age so daring, you alone should be such a coward as to forbear to frighten women."’

‘"O,"’ cried he, laughing, ‘"when a man is in a fright for himself, the ladies cannot but be in security; for you have not had half the appre­hension for the safety of your persons, that I have for that of my heart."’

He then alighted, handed us out, took leave, and again mounting the phaeton, was out of sight in a minute.

‘"Certainly,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, when he was gone, ‘"there must have been some mistake in the birth of that young man; he was, undoubt­edly, [Page 108] designed for the last age; for, if you ob­served, he is really polite."’

And now, my dear Sir, do not you think, ac­cording to the present situation of affairs, I may give up my resentment, without imprudence or impropriety? I hope you will not blame me. In­deed, had you, like me, seen his respectful beha­viour, you would have been convinced of the im­practicability of supporting any further indigna­tion.

LETTER XVIII.
Evelina in continuation.

YESTERDAY morning, Mrs. Selwyn receiv­ed a card from Mrs. Beaumont, to ask her to din­ner to-day; and another, to the same purpose, came to me. The invitation was accepted, and we are but just arrived from Clifton-Hill.

We found Mrs. Beaumont alone in the parlour. I will write you that lady's character, as I heard it from our satirical friend Mrs. Selwyn, and in her own words. ‘"She is an absolute Court Calendar bigot; for, chancing herself to be born of a no­ble and ancient family, she thinks proper to be of opinion, that birth and virtue are one and the same thing. She has some good qualities, but they rather originate from pride than principle, as she piques herself upon being too high born to be capable of an unworthy action, and thinks it incumbent upon her to support the dignity of her ancestry. Fortunately for the world in general, [Page 109] she has taken it into her head, that condescension is the most distinguishing virtue of high life; so that the same pride of family which renders others imperious, is with her the motive of affability. But her civility is too formal to be comfortable, and too mechanical to be flattering. That she does me the honour of so much notice, is merely owing to an accident which, I am sure, is very painful to her remembrance; for it so happened that I once did her some service, in regard to an apartment, at Southampton; and I have since been informed, that, at the time she accepted my assistance, she thought I was a woman of quality: and I make no doubt but she was miserable when she discovered me to be a mere country gentlewo­man: however, her nice notions of decorum have made her load me with favours ever since. But I am not much flattered by her civilities, as I am convinced I owe them neither to attachment nor gratitude, but solely to a desire of cancelling an obligation which she cannot brook being under, to one whose name is no where to be found in the Court Calendar."’

You well know, my dear Sir, the delight this lady takes in giving way to her satirical humour.

Mrs. Beaumont received us very graciously, though she somewhat distressed me by the ques­tions she asked concerning my family,—such as, whether I was related to the Anvilles in the North?—Whether some of my name did not live in Lincolnshire? and many other enquiries, which much embarrassed me.

The conversation, next, turned upon the in­tended marriage in her family. She treated the subject with reserve, but it was evident she disap­proved Lady Louisa's choice. She spoke in terms of the highest esteem of Lord Orville, calling [Page 110] him, in Marmontel's words, Un jeune homme comme il y en a peu.

I did not think this conversation very agreeably interrupted by the entrance of Mr. Lovel. Indeed I am heartily sorry he is now at the Hot-wells. He made his compliments with the most obsequi­ous respect to Mrs. Beaumont, but took no sort of notice of any other person.

In a few minutes Lady Louisa Larpent made her appearance. The same manners prevailed; for courtsying, ‘"I hope you are well, Ma'am,"’ to Mrs. Beaumont, she passed straight forward to her seat on the sofa, where leaning her head on her hand, she cast her languishing eyes round the room, with a vacant stare, as if determined, though she looked, not to see who was in it.

Mr. Lovel, presently approaching her with re­verence the most profound, hoped her Ladyship was not indisposed.

‘"Mr. Lovel,"’ cried she, raising her head, ‘"I declare I did not see you: Have you been here long?"’

‘"By my watch, Madam,"’ said he, ‘"only five minutes,—but by your ladyship's absence, as many hours."’

‘"O! now I think of it,"’ cried she, ‘"I am very angry with you,—so go along, do, for I shan't speak to you all day."’

‘"Heaven forbid your La'ship's displeasure should last so long! in such cruel circumstances, a day would seem an age. But in what have I been so unfortunate as to offend?"’

‘"O, you half-killed me, the other morning, with terror! I have not yet recovered from my fright. How could you be so cruel as to drive your phaeton against my Lord Merton's?"’

[Page 111] ‘"'Pon honour, Ma'am, your La'ship does me wrong; it was all owing to the horses,—there was no curbing them. I protest I suffered more than your Ladyship from the terror of alarming you."’

Just then entered Lord Merton; stalking up to Mrs. Beaumont, to whom alone he bowed; he hoped he had not made her wait; and then ad­vancing to Lady Louisa, said, in a careless man­ner, ‘"How is your Ladyship this morning?"’

‘"Not well at all,"’ answered she; ‘"I have been dying with the head-ach ever since I got up."’

‘"Indeed!"’ cried he, with a countenance wholly unmoved, ‘"I am very unhappy to hear it. But should not your Ladyship have some advice?"’

‘"I am quite sick of advice,"’ answered she; ‘"Mr. Ridgeway has but just left me,—but he has done me no good. Nobody here knows what is the matter with me, yet they all see how indif­ferent I am."’

‘"Your Ladyship's constitution,"’ said Mr. Lo­vel, ‘"is infinitely delicate."’

‘"Indeed it is,"’ cried she, in a low voice, ‘I am nerve all over!"’

‘"I am glad, however,"’ said Lord Merton, ‘"that you did not take the air this morning, for Coverly has been driving against me as if he was mad: he has got two of the finest spirited horses I ever saw."’

‘"Pray, My Lord,"’ cried she, ‘"why did not you bring Mr. Coverly with you? he's a droll creature; I like him monstrously."’

‘"Why, he promised to be here as soon as me. I suppose he'll come before dinner's over."’

[Page 112] In the midst of this trifling conversation, Lord Orville made his appearance. O how dif­ferent was his address! how superior did he look, and move, to all about him! Having paid his respects to Mrs. Beaumont, and then to Mrs. Selwyn, he came up to me, and said, ‘"I hope Miss Anville has not suffered from the fatigue of Monday morning!"’ Then turning to Lady Louisa, who seemed rather surprised at his speak­ing to me, he added, ‘"give me leave, sister, to introduce Miss Anville to you."’

Lady Louisa, half-rising, said, very coldly, that she should be glad of the honour of know­ing me; and then, very abruptly turning to Lord Merton and Mr. Lovel, continued, in a half-whisper, her conversation.

For my part, I had risen and courtsied, and now, feeling very foolish, I seated myself again; first I had blushed at the unexpected politeness of Lord Orville, and immediately afterwards, at the contemptuous failure of it in his sister. How can that young Lady see her brother so universally admired for his manners and deport­ment, and yet be so unamiably opposite to him in her's!

Lord Orville, I am sure, was hurt, and dis­pleased: he bit his lips, and turning from her, addressed himself wholly to me, till we were summoned to dinner. Do you think I was not grateful for his attention? yes, indeed, and every angry idea I had entertained, was totally obli­terated.

As we were seating ourselves at the table, Mr. Coverly came into the room: he made a thousand apologies in a breath for being so late, but said he had been retarded by a little accident, for that he had overturned his phaeton, and broke [Page 113] it all to pieces. Lady Louisa screamed at this intelligence, and looking at Lord Merton, declar­ed she would never go into a phaeton again.

‘"O,"’ cried he, ‘"never mind Jack Coverly, for he does not know how to drive."’

‘"My Lord,"’ cried Mr. Coverly, ‘"I'll drive against you for a thousand pounds."’

‘"Done!"’ returned the other; ‘"Name your day, and we'll each chuse a judge."’

‘"The sooner the better,"’ cried Mr. Coverly; ‘"to-morrow, if the carriage can be repaired."’

‘"These enterprises,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"are very proper for men of rank, since 'tis a million to one but both parties will be incapacitated for any better employment."’

‘"For Heaven's sake,"’ cried Lady Louisa, changing colour, ‘"don't talk so shockingly! Pray, my Lord, pray, Mr. Coverly, don't alarm me in this manner."’

‘"Compose yourself, Lady Louisa,"’ said Mrs. Beaumont, ‘"the gentlemen will think bet­ter of the scheme; they are neither of them in earnest."’

‘"The very mention of such a scheme,"’ said Lady Louisa, taking out her salts, ‘"makes me tremble all over! Indeed, my Lord, you have frightened me to death! I shan't eat a morsel of dinner."’

‘"Permit me,"’ said Lord Orville, ‘"to pro­pose some other subject for the present, and we will discuss this matter some other time."’

‘"Pray, Brother, excuse me; my Lord must give me his word to drop this project,—for, I declare it has made me sick as death."’

‘"To compromise the matter,"’ said Lord Orville, ‘"suppose, if both parties are unwil­ling to give up the bet, that, to make the ladies [Page 114] easy, we change its object to something less dan­gerous?"’

This proposal was so strongly seconded by all the party, that both Lord Merton, and Mr. Co­verly, were obliged to comply with it: and it was then agreed that the affair should be finally set­tled in the afternoon.

‘"I shall now be entirely out of conceit with phaetons again,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"though Lord Orville had almost reconciled me to them."’

‘"My Lord Orville,’ "cried the witty Mr. Coverly, ‘"why, my Lord Orville is as careful,—egad, as careful as an old woman! Why, I'd drive a one-horse cart against my Lord's phaeton for a hundred guineas!"’

This sally occasioned much laughter; for Mr. Coverly, I find, is regarded as a man of infinite humour.

‘"Perhaps, Sir,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"you have not discovered the reason my Lord Orville is so careful?"’

‘"Why, no, Ma'am; I must own, I never heard any particular reason for it."’

‘"Why then, Sir, I'll tell you; and I believe you will confess it to be very particular; his Lordship's friends are not yet tired of him."’

Lord Orville laughed and bowed. Mr. Cover­ly, a little confused, turned to Lord Merton, and said, ‘"No foul play, my Lord! I remember your Lordship recommended me to the notice of this Lady the other morning, and, egad, I be­lieve you have been doing me the same office to-day."’

‘"Give you joy, Jack!"’ cried Lord Merton, with a loud laugh.

[Page 115] After this, the conversation turned wholly up­on eating, a subject which was discussed with the utmost delight; and, had I not known they were men of rank and fashion, I should have imagined that Lord Merton, Mr. Lovel, and Mr. Coverly, had all been professed cooks; for they displayed so much knowledge of sauces and made dishes, and of the various methods of dres­sing the same things, that I am persuaded they must have given much time, and much study, to make themselves such adepts in this art. It would be very difficult to determine, whether they were most to be distinguished as gluttons or epicures; for they were, at once, dainty and vo­racious, understood the right and the wrong of every dish, and alike emptied the one and the other. I should have been quite sick of their remarks, had I not been entertained by seeing that Lord Orville, who, I am sure, was equally disgusted, not only read my sentiments, but, by his countenance, communicated to me his own.

When dinner was over, Mrs. Beaumont re­commended the gentlemen to the care of Lord Orville, and then attended the ladies to the draw­ing-room.

The conversation, till tea-time, was extreme­ly insipid; Mrs. Selwyn reserved herself for the gentlemen, Mrs. Beaumont was grave, and Lady Louisa languid.

But, at tea, every body revived; we were joined by the gentlemen, and gaiety took place of dulness.

Since I, as Mr. Lovel says, am Nobody *, I seated myself quietly on a window, and not very [Page 116] near to any body: Lord Merton, Mr. Coverly, and Mr. Lovel, severally passed me without no­tice, and surrounded the chair of Lady Louisa Larpent. I must own, I was rather piqued at the behaviour of Mr. Lovel, as he had formerly known me. It is true, I most sincerely despised his foppery, yet I should be grieved to meet with contempt from any body. But I was by no means sorry to find that Lord Merton was determined not to know me before Lady Louisa, as his ne­glect relieved me from much embarrassment. As to Mr. Coverly, his attention or disregard were equally indifferent to me. Yet, altogether, I felt extremely uncomfortable, in finding myself considered in a light very inferior to the rest of the company.

But, when Lord Orville appeared, the scene changed: he came up stairs last, and seeing me sit alone, not only spoke to me directly, but drew a chair next mine, and honoured me with his entire attention.

He enquired very particularly after my health, and hoped I had already found benefit from the Bristol air. ‘"How little did I imagine,"’ ad­ded he, ‘"when I had last the pleasure of seeing you in town, that ill health would, in so short a time, have brought you hither! I am ashamed of myself for the satisfaction I feel at seeing you,—yet how can I help it!"’

He then enquired after the Mirvan family, and spoke of Mrs. Mirvan in terms of the most just praise. ‘"She is gentle and amiable,"’ said he, ‘"a true feminine character."’

‘"Yes, indeed,"’ answered I, ‘"and her sweet daughter, to say every thing of her at once, is just the daughter such a mother deserves."’

[Page 117] ‘"I am glad of it,"’ said he, ‘"for both their sakes, as such near relations must always reflect credit or disgrace on each other."’

After this, he began to speak of the beauties of Clifton; but, in a few moments, was interrupt­ed by a call from the company, to discuss the af­fair of the wager. Lord Merton and Mr. Co­verley, though they had been discoursing upon the subject some time, could not fix upon any thing that satisfied them both.

When they asked the assistance of Lord Orville, he proposed that every body present should vote something, and that the two gentlemen should draw lots which, from the several votes, should decide the bet.

‘"We must then begin with the ladies,"’ said Lord Orville; and applied to Mrs. Selwyn.

‘"With all my heart,"’ answered she, with her usual readiness; ‘"and, since the gentlemen are not allowed to risk their necks, suppose we decide the bet by their heads?"’

‘"By our heads?"’ cried Mr. Coverly; Egad, ‘"I dont understand you."’

‘"I will then explain myself more fully. As I doubt not but you are both excellent classics, sup­pose, for the good of your own memories, and the entertainment and surprise of the company, the thousand pounds should fall to the share of him who can repeat by heart the longest ode of Horace?"’

Nobody could help laughing, the two gentle­men applied to, excepted; who seemed, each of them, rather at a loss in what manner to receive this unexpected proposal. At length Mr. Lovel, bowing low, said, ‘"Will your Lordship please to begin?’

[Page 118] ‘"Devil take me if I do!"’ answered he, turn­ing on his heel, and stalking to the window.

‘"Come, Gentlemen,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"why do you hesitate? I am sure you cannot be afraid of a weak woman? Besides, if you should chance to be out, Mr. Lovel, I dare say, will have the goodness to assist you."’

The laugh, now, turned against Mr. Lovel, whose change of countenance manifested no great pleasure at the transition.

‘"Me, Madam!"’ said he, colouring, ‘"no, "really I must beg to be excused."’

‘"Why so, Sir?"’

‘"Why so, Ma'am?—Why, really,—as to that,—'pon honour, Ma'am, you are rather—a little severe;—for how is it possible for a man who is in the House, to study the classics? I as­sure you, Ma'am,"’ (with an affected shrug) ‘"I find quite business enough for my poor head, in studying politics."’

‘"But, did you study politics at school, and at the university?"’

‘"At the university!"’ repeated he with an embarrassed look; ‘"why, as to that, Ma'am,—no, I can't say I did; but then, what with riding,—and—and—and so forth,—really, one has not much time, even at the university, for mere reading."’

‘"But to be sure, Sir, you have read the classics?"’

‘"O dear, yes, Ma'am!—very often,—but not very—not very lately."’

‘"Which of the odes do you recommend to these gentlemen to begin with?"’

‘"Which of the odes!—Really, Ma'am, as to that, I have no very particular choice,—for, [Page 119] to own the truth, that Horace was never a very great favourite with me."’

‘"In truth I believe you!"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, very drily.

Lord Merton, again advancing into the circle, with a nod and a laugh, said, ‘"Give you joy, Lovel!"’

Lord Orville next applied to Mrs. Beaumont for her vote.

‘"It would very agreeably remind me of past times,"’ said she, ‘when bowing was in fashion, if the bet was to depend upon the best-made bow."’

‘"Egad, my Lord!"’ cried Mr. Coverley, ‘"there I should beat you hollow, for your Lord­ship never bows at all.’

‘"And, pray Sir, do you? said Mrs. Selwyn.

‘Do I, Ma'am?"’ cried he, ‘"Why, only see!"’

‘"I protest,"’ cried she, ‘"I should have taken that for a shrug, if you had not told me 'twas a bow."’

‘"My Lord,"’ cried Mr. Coverly, ‘"let's prac­tise;"’ and then, most ridiculously, they pranced about the room, making bows.

‘"We must now,"’ said Lord Orville, turning to me, ‘"call upon Miss Anville."’

‘"O no, my Lord,"’ cried I, ‘"indeed I have nothing to propose."’ He would not, however, be refused, but urged me so much to say something, that at last, not to make him wait any longer, I ventured to propose an extempore couplet upon some given subject.

Mr. Coverley instantly made me a bow, or, ac­cording to Mrs. Selwyn, a shrug, crying, ‘"Thank you, Ma'am; egad, that's my fort!—Why, my Lord, the Fates seem against you."’

[Page 120] Lady Louisa was then applied to; and every body seemed eager to hear her opinion. ‘"I don't know what to say, I declare,"’ cried she, affected­ly; ‘"can't you pass me?"’

‘"By no means!"’ said Lord Merton.

‘"Is it possible your Ladyship can make so cruel a request?"’ said Mr. Lovel.

‘"Egad,"’ cried Mr. Coverley, ‘"if your La­dyship does not help us in this dilemma, we shall be forced to return to our phaetons."’

‘"Oh,"’ cried Lady Louisa, screaming, ‘"you frightful creature, you, how can you be so abo­minable!"’

I believe this trifling lasted near half an hour; when at length, every body being tired, it was given up, and she said she would consider against another time.

Lord Orville now called upon Mr. Lovel, who, after about ten minutes deliberation, proposed, with a most important face, to determine the wager by who should draw the longest straw!

I had much difficulty to refrain laughing at this unmeaning scheme; but saw, to my great sur­prise, not the least change of countenance in any other person: and, since we came home, Mrs. Selwyn has informed me, that to draw straws is a fashion of betting by no means uncommon! Good God! my dear Sir, does it not seem as if money were of no value or service, since those who possess squander it away in a manner so infi­nitely absurd!

It now only remained for Lord Orville to speak; and the attention of the company shewed the ex­pectations he had raised; yet, I believe, they by no means prevented his proposal from being heard with amazement; for it was no other, than that [Page 121] the money should be his due, who, according to the opinion of two judges, should bring the wor­thiest object with whom to share it!

They all stared, without speaking. Indeed, I believe every one, for a moment at least, expe­rienced something like shame, from having either proposed or countenanced an extravagance so use­less and frivolous. For my part, I was so much struck and affected by a rebuke so noble to these spendthrifts, that I felt my eyes filled with tears.

The short silence, and momentary reflection into which the company was surprised, Mr. Co­verly was the first to dispel, by saying, ‘"Egad, my Lord, your Lordship has a most remarkable odd way of taking things."’

‘"Faith,"’ said the incorrigible Lord Merton, ‘"if this scheme takes, I shall fix upon my Swiss to share with me; for I dont know a worthier fel­low breathing."’

After a few more of these attempts at wit, the two gentlemen agreed that they would settle the affair the next morning.

The conversation then took a different turn, but I did not give it sufficient attention to write any account of it. Not long after, Lord Orville resuming his seat next mine, said, ‘"Why is Miss Anville so thoughtful?"’

‘"I am sorry, my Lord,"’ said I, ‘"to consi­der myself one among those who have so justly in­curred your censure."’

‘"My censure!—you amaze me!"’

‘"Indeed, my Lord, you have made me quite ashamed of myself, for having given my vote so foolishly; when an opportunity offered, had I but, like your Lordship, had the sense to use it, of shewing some humanity."’

[Page 122] ‘"You treat this too seriously,"’ said he, smil­ing; ‘"and I hardly know if you do not now mean a rebuke to me."’

‘"To you, my Lord!"’

‘"Nay, which deserves it most, the one who adapts the conversation to the company, or the one who chooses to be above it?"’

‘"O, my Lord, who else would do you so little justice?"’

‘"I flatter myself,"’ answered he, ‘"that in fact, your opinion and mine, in this point, were the same, though you condescended to comply with the humour of the company. It is for me, therefore, to apologize for so unseasonable a gra­vity, which but for a particular interest which I now take in the affairs of Lord Merton, I should not have been so officious to display."’

Such a compliment as this could not fail to re­concile me to myself; and with revived spirits, I entered into a conversation, which he supported with me till Mrs. Selwyn's carriage was announc­ed, and we returned home.

During our ride, Mrs. Selwyn very much sur­prised me, by asking if I thought my health would now permit me to give up my morning walks to the pump-room, for the purpose of spend­ing a week at Clifton? ‘"for this poor Mrs. Beau­mont,"’ added she, ‘"is so eager to have a dis­charge in full of her debt to me, that, out of mere compassion, I am induced to listen to her. Be­sides, she has always a house full of people, and though they are chiefly fools and coxcombs, yet there is some pleasure in cutting them up."’

I begged I might not, by any means, prevent her following her inclination, as my health was now very well established. And so, my dear Sir, to­morrow [Page 123] we are to be, actually, the guests of Mrs. Beaumont.

I am not much delighted at this scheme; for, flattered as I am by the attention of Lord Orville, it is not very comfortable to be neglected by every body else. Besides, as I am sure I owe the parti­cularity of his civility to a generous feeling for my situation, I cannot expect him to support it so long as a week.

How often do I wish, since I am absent from you, that I was under the protection of Mrs. Mirvan! It is true, Mrs. Selwyn is very obliging, and, in every respect, treats me as an equal; but she is contented with behaving well herself, and does not, with a distinguishing politeness, raise and support me with others. Yet I mean not to blame her, for I know she is sincerely my friend; but the fact is, she is herself so much occupied in conversation, when in company, that she has neither leisure nor thought to attend to the silent.

Well, I must take my chance! But I knew not, till now, how requisite are birth and fortune to the attainment of respect and civility.

LETTER XIX.
Evelina in continuation.

HERE I am, my dear Sir, under the same roof, and inmate of the same house, as Lord Or­ville! Indeed, if this were not the case, my situ­ation [Page 124] would be very disagreeable, as you will easi­ly believe, when I tell you the light in which I am generally considered.

‘"My dear,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"did you ever before meet with that egregious fop, Lovel?"’

I very readily satisfied her as to my acquain­tance with him.

‘"O then,"’ said she, ‘"I am the less sur­prised at his ill-nature, since he has already inju­red you."’

I begged her to explain herself; and then she told me, that while Lord Orville was speaking to me, Lady Louisa said to Mr. Lovel, ‘"Do you know who that is?"’

‘"Why, Ma'am, no, 'pon honour,"’ answer­ed he, ‘"I can't absolutely say I do; I only know she is a kind of a toad-eater. She made her first appearance in that capacity last Spring, when she attended Miss Mirvan, a young lady of Kent."’

How cruel is it, my dear Sir, to be thus expos­ed to the impertinent suggestions of a man who is determined to do me ill offices! Lady Louisa may well despise a tood-eater; but, thank Heaven, her brother had not heard, or does not credit, the mortifying appellation. Mrs. Selwyn said, she would advise me to pay my court to this Mr. Lo­vel; ‘"for,"’ said she, ‘"though he is malicious, he is fashionable, and may do you some harm in the great world."’ But I should disdain myself as much as I do him, were I capable of such du­plicity, as to flatter a man whom I scorn and des­pise.

We were received by Mrs. Beaumont with great civility, and by Lord Orville with something more. As to Lady Louisa, she scarcely perceived that we were in the room.

[Page 125] There has been company here all day; part of which I have spent most happily; for after tea, when the ladies played at cards, Lord Orville, who does not, and I who cannot, play, were con­sequently at our own disposal; and then his Lord­ship entered into a conversation with me, which lasted till supper-time.

Almost insensibly, I find the constraint, the re­serve, I have been wont to feel in his presence, wear away; the politeness, the sweetness, with which he speaks to me, restore all my natural chearfulness, and make me almost as easy as he is himself; and the more so, as, if I may judge by his looks, I am rather raised, than sunk, of late in his opinion.

I asked him, how the bet was, at last, to be decided? He told me, that, to his great satis­faction, the parties had been prevailed upon to lower the sum from one thousand to one hundred pounds; and that they had determined it should be settled by a race between two old women, one chose by each side, and both of them to be proved more than eighty, though, in other respects, strong and healthy as possible.

When I expressed my surprise at this extraordi­nary method of spending so much money, ‘"I am charmed,"’ said he, ‘"at the novelty of meeting with one so unhackneyed in the world, as not to be yet influenced by custom to forget the use of reason: for certain it is, that the prevalence of fa­shion makes the greatest absurdities pass uncensur­ed, and the mind naturally accommodates itself even to the most ridiculous improprieties, if they occur frequently."’

‘"I should have hoped,"’ said I, ‘"that the humane proposal made yesterday by your Lord­ship, would have had more effect."’

[Page 126] ‘"O,"’ cried he, laughing, ‘"I was so far from expecting any success, that I shall think my­self very fortunate if I escape the wit of Mr. Co­verley in a lampoon! yet I spoke openly, because I do not wish to conceal that I am no friend to ga­ming."’

After this, he took up the New Bath Guide, and read it with me till supper time. In our way down stairs, Lady Louisa said, ‘"I thought, Brother, you were engaged this evening?"’

‘"Yes, Sister,"’ answered he, ‘"and I have been engaged."’ And he bowed to me with an air of gallantry that rather confused me.

Almost insensibly have three days glided on since I wrote last, and so serenely, that, but for your absence, I could not have formed a wish. My residence here is much happier than I had dared expect. The attention with which Lord Orville honours me is as uniform as it is flatter­ing, and seems to result from a benevolence of heart that proves him as much a stranger to ca­price as to pride; for, as his particular civilities arose from a generous resentment at seeing me ne­glected, so will they, I trust, continue as long as I shall, in any degree, deserve them. I am now not merely easy, but even gay in his presence: such is the effect of true politeness, that it banish­es all restraint and embarrassment. When we walk out, he condescends to be my companion, and keeps by my side all the way we go. When we read, he marks the passages most worthy to be noticed, draws out my sentiments, and favours me with his own. At table, where he always sits next to me, he obliges me by a thousand nameless attentions, while the distinguishing good-breeding [Page 127] with which he treats me, prevents my repining at the visibly-felt superiority of the rest of the com­pany. A thousand occasional meetings could not have brought us to that degree of social freedom, which four days spent under the same roof have, insensibly, been productive of: and, as my only friend in this house, Mrs. Selwyn, is too much engrossed in perpetual conversation to attend much to me, Lord Orville seems to regard me as a help­less stranger, and, as such, to think me entitled to his good offices and protection. Indeed, my dear Sir, I have reason to hope, that the depreciating opinion he formerly entertained of me is suc­ceeded by one infinitely more partial.—It may be that I flatter myself, but yet his looks, his atten­tions, his desire of drawing me into conversation, and his solicitude to oblige me, all conspire to make me hope I do not. In short, my dearest Sir, these last four happy days would repay me for months of sorrow and pain!

LETTER XX.
Evelina in continuation.

THIS morning I came down stairs very early, and, supposing that the family would not assemble for some time, I strolled out, purposing to take a long walk, in the manner I was wont to do at Ber­ry Hill, before breakfast. But I had scarce shut the garden gate, ere I was met by a gentleman, who, immediately bowing to me, I recollected [Page 128] to be the unhappy Mr. Macartney. Very much surprised, I courtsied, and stopped till he came up to me. He was still in mourning, but looked bet­ter than when I saw him last, though he had the same air of melancholy which so much struck me at first sight of him.

Addressing me with the utmost respect, ‘"I am happy, Madam,"’ said he, ‘"to have met with you so soon. I came to Bristol but yesterday, and have had no small difficulty in tracing you to Clifton."’

‘"Did you know, then, of my being here?"’

‘"I did, Madam; the sole motive of my jour­ney was to see you. I have been to Berry Hill, and there I had my intelligence, and, at the same time, the unwelcome information of your ill health."’

‘"Good God! Sir,—and can you possibly have taken so much trouble?’

‘"Trouble! Oh, Madam, could there be any, to return you, the moment I had the pow­er, my personal acknowledgments for your good­ness?"’

I then enquired after Madame Duval, and the Snow-Hill family. He told me they were all well, and that Madame Duval proposed soon re­turning to Paris. When I congratulated him up­on looking better, ‘"It is yourself, Madam,"’ said he, ‘"you should congratulate, for to your hu­manity alone it may now be owing that I exist at all."’ He then told me, that his affairs were now in a less desperate situation, and that he hoped, by the assistance of time and reason, to accommo­date his mind to a more chearful submission to his fate. ‘"The interest you so generously took in my affliction,"’ added he, ‘"assures me you will not be displeased to hear of my better fortune: I [Page 129] was therefore eager to acquaint you with it."’ He then told me, that his friend, the moment he had received his letter, quitted Paris, and flew to give him his personal assistance and consolation. With a heavy heart, he acknowledged, he ac­cepted it; ‘"but yet,"’ he added, ‘"I have ac­cepted it, and therefore, as bound equally by du­ty and honour, my first step was to hasten to the benefactress of my distress, and to return"’ (pre­senting me something in a paper) ‘"the only part of my obligations that can be returned; for the rest, I have nothing but my gratitude to offer, and must always be contented to consider myself her debtor."’

I congratulated him most sincerely upon his dawning prosperity, but begged he would not de­prive me of the pleasure of being his friend, and declined receiving the money, till his affairs were more settled.

While this point was in agitation, I heard Lord Orville's voice, enquiring of the gardener if he had seen me? I immediately opened the garden­gate, and his Lordship, advancing to me with quickness, said, ‘"Good God, Miss Anville, have you been out alone? Breakfast has been ready some time, and I have been round the garden in search of you."’

‘"Your Lordship has been very good,"’ said I; ‘"but I hope you have not waited."’

‘"Not waited!"’ repeated he smiling, ‘"Do you think we could sit down quietly to breakfast, with the idea that you had run away from us? But come,"’ (offering to hand me) ‘"if we do not return, they will suppose I am run away too; and they very naturally may, as they know the attrac­tion of the magnet that draws me."’

[Page 130] ‘"I will come, my Lord,"’ said I, rather em­barrassed, ‘"in two minutes."’ Then, turning to Mr. Macartney, with yet more embarrassment, I wished him good morning.

He advanced towards the garden, with the pa­per still in his hand.

‘"No, no,"’ cried I, ‘"some other time."’

‘"May I then, Madam, have the honour of seeing you again?’

I did not dare take the liberty of inviting any body to the house of Mrs. Beaumont, nor yet had I the presence of mind to make an excuse; and therefore, not knowing how to refuse him, I said, ‘"Perhaps you may be this way again to-morrow morning,—and I believe I shall walk out before breakfast."’

He bowed, and went away; while I, turning again to Lord Orville, saw his countenance so much altered, that I was srightened at what I had so hastily said. He did not again offer me his hand, but walked, silent and slow, by my side. Good Heaven! thought I, what may he not sup­pose from this adventure? May he not, by my desire of meeting Mr. Macartney to-morrow, imagine it was by design I walked out to meet him to-day? Tormented by this apprehension, I de­termined to avail myself of the freedom which his behaviour since I came hither has encouraged; and, since he would not ask any questions, begin an explanation myself. I therefore slackened my peace, to gain time, and then said, ‘"Was not your Lordship surprised to see me speaking with a stranger?"’

‘"A stranger!'’ repeated he; ‘"is it possible that gentleman can be a stranger to you?"’

‘"No, my Lord,"’—said I, stammering, ‘"not to me,—but only it might look—he might seem—"’

[Page 131] ‘"No, believe me,"’ said he, with a forced smile, ‘"I could never believe Miss Anville would make an appointment with a stranger."’

‘"An appointment, my Lord!"’ repeated I, colouring violently.

‘"Pardon me, Madam,"’ answered he, ‘"but I thought I heard one."’

I was so much confounded, that I could not speak; yet, finding he walked quietly on, I could not endure he should make his own interpretation of my silence; and therefore, as soon as I reco­vered from my surprise, I said, ‘"Indeed, my Lord, you are much mistaken,—Mr. Macartney had particular business with me,—and I could not,—I knew not how to refuse seeing him,—but indeed, my Lord,—I had not,—he had not,—"’ I stammered so terribly that I could not go on.

‘"I am very sorry,"’ said he, gravely, ‘"that I have been so unfortunate as to distress you; but I should not have followed you, had I not imagined you were merely walked out for the air."’

‘"And so I was!"’ cried I, eagerly, ‘"indeed, my Lord, I was! My meeting with Mr. Ma­cartney was quite accidental; and if your Lord­ship thinks there is any impropriety in my see­ing him to-morrow, I am ready to give up that intention."’

‘"If I think!"’ said he, in a tone of surprise; ‘"surely Miss Anville must best judge for herself! surely she cannot leave the arbitration of a point so delicate, to one who is ignorant of all the cir­cumstances which attend it?’

‘"If,"’ said I, ‘"it was worth your Lordship's time to hear them,—you should not be ignorant of the circumstances which attend it."’

[Page 132] ‘"The sweetness of Miss Anville's dispositi­on,"’ said he, in a softened voice, ‘"I have long admired, and the offer of a communication which does me so much honour, is too grateful to me not to be eagerly caught at."’

Just then, Mrs. Selwyn opened the parlour-win­dow, and our conversation ended. I was rallied upon my passion for solitary walking, but no questions were asked me.

When breakfast was over, I hoped to have had some opportunity of speaking with Lord Orville: but Lord Merton and Mr. Coverly came in, and insisted upon his opinion of the spot they had fixed upon for the old women's race. The ladies de­clared they would be of the party, and, accord­ingly, we all went.

The race is to be run in Mrs. Beaumont's gar­den; the two gentlemen are as anxious as if their joint lives depended upon it. They have, at length fixed upon objects, but have found great difficulty in persuading them to practise running, in order to try their strength. This grand affair is to be decided next Thursday.

When we returned to the house, the entrance of more company still prevented my having any conversation with Lord Orville. I was very much chagrined, as I knew he was engaged at the Hotwells in the afternoon. Seeing, therefore, no probability of speaking to him before the time of my meeting Mr. Macartney arrived, I determin­ed that, rather than risk his ill opinion, I would leave Mr. Macartney to his own suggestions.

Yet, when I reflected upon his peculiar situati­on, his misfortunes, his sadness, and, more than all the rest, the idea I knew he entertained of what he calls his obligations to me, I could not re­solve upon a breach of promise, which might be [Page 133] attributed to causes of all others the most offensive to one whom sorrow has made extremely suspici­ous of slights and contempt.

After the most uneasy consideration, I at length determined upon writing an excuse, which would, at once, save me from either meeting or affront­ing him. I therefore begged Mrs. Selwyn's leave to send her man to the Hotwells, which she in­stantly granted; and then I wrote the following note.

To Mr. Macartney.

Sir,

AS it will not be in my power to walk out to­morrow morning, I would by no means give you the trouble of coming to Clifton. I hope, how­ever, to have the pleasure of seeing you before you quit Bristol. I am,

Sir,
Your obedient servant, EVELINA ANVILLE.

I desired the servant to enquire at the pump­room where Mr. Macartney lived, and returned to the parlour.

As soon as the company dispersed, the ladies retired to dress. I then, unexpectedly, found myself alone with Lord Orville; who, the mo­ment I rose to follow Mrs. Selwyn, advanced to me, and said, ‘"Will Miss Anville pardon my impatience, if I remind her of the promise she was so good as to make me this morning?"’

I stopped, and would have returned to my seat, but, before I had time, the servants came to lay the cloth. He retreated, and went towards the window; and while I was considering in what [Page 134] manner to begin, I could not help asking myself what right I had to communicate the affairs of Mr. Macartney; and I doubted whether, to clear myself from one act of imprudence, I had not commited another.

Distressed by this reflection, I thought it best to quit the room, and give myself some time for consideration before I spoke; and therefore, only saying I must hasten to dress, I ran up stairs: ra­ther abruptly, I own, and so, I fear, Lord Or­ville must think, yet what could I do? unused to the situations in which I find myself, and embar­rassed by the slightest difficulties, I seldom, till too late, discover how I ought to act

Just as we were all assembled to dinner, Mrs. Selwyn's man, coming into the parlour, presented to me a letter, and said, ‘"I can't find out Mr. Macartney, Madam; but the post-office people will let you know if they hear of him."’

I was extremely ashamed of this public mes­sage; and meeting the eyes of Lord Orville, which were earnestly fixed on me, my confusion redoubled, and I knew not which way to look. All dinner-time, he was as silent as myself, and, the moment it was in my power, I left the table, and went to my own room. Mrs. Selwyn presently followed me, and her questions obliged me to own almost all the particulars of my acquaintance with Mr. Macartney, in order to excuse my writing to him. She said it was a most romantic affair, and spoke her sentiments with great severity, declaring that she had no doubt but he was an adventurer and an impostor.

And now, my dear Sir, I am totally at a loss what I ought to do: the more I reflect, the more sensible I am of the utter impropriety, nay, treachery, of revealing the story, and publishing [Page 135] the misfortunes and poverty of Mr. Macartney; who has an undoubted right to my secrecy and discretion, and whose letter charges me to regard his communication as sacred.—And yet, the ap­pearance of mystery,—perhaps something worse, which this affair must have to Lord Orville,—his seriousness,—and the promise I have made him, are inducements scarce to be resisted, for trusting him, with the openness he has reason to expect from me.

I am equally distressed, too, whether or not I should see Mr. Macartney to-morrow morning.

Oh Sir, could I now be enlightened by your counsel, from what anxiety and perplexity should I be relieved!

But no,—I ought not to betray Mr. Macartney, and I will not forfeit a confidence which would never have been reposed in me, but from a reli­ance upon my honour which I should blush to find myself unworthy of. Desirous as I am of the good opinion of Lord Orville, I will endeavour to act as if I was guided by your advice, and, making it my sole aim to deserve it, leave to time and to fate my success or disappointment.

Since I have formed this resolution, my mind is more at ease, but I will not finish my letter till the affair is decided.

I rose very early this morning, and, after a thousand different plans, not being able to resolve upon giving poor Mr. Macartney leave to suppose I neglected him, I thought it incumbent upon me to keep my word, since he had not received my letter; I therefore determined to make my own [Page 136] apologies, not to stay with him two minutes, and to excuse myself from meeting him any more.

Yet, uncertain whether I was wrong or right, it was with fear and trembling that I opened the garden-gate,—judge, then, of my feelings, when the first object I saw was Lord Orville!—he, too, looked extremely disconcerted, and said, in a he sitating manner, ‘"Pardon me, Madam,—I did not imagine you would have been here so soon,—or,—or I would not have come."’—And then, with a hasty bow, he passed me, and proceeded to the garden.

I was scarce able to stand, so greatly did I feel myself shocked; but, upon my saying, almost involuntarily, ‘"Oh my Lord!"’—he turned back, and, after a short pause, said, ‘"Did you speak to me, Madam?"’

I could not immediately answer; I seemed choaked, and was even forced to support myself by the garden-gate.

Lord Orville, soon recovering his dignity, said, ‘"I know not how to apologise for being, just now, at this place;—and I cannot immediately,—if ever,—clear myself from the imputation of im­pertinent curiosity, to which I fear you will attri­bute it: however, I will, at present, only entreat your pardon, without detaining you any longer."’ Again he bowed, and left me.

For some moments, I remained fixed to the same spot, and in the same position, immovably, as if I had been transformed to stone.

My first impulse was to call him back, and in­stantly tell him the whole affair; but I checked this desire, though I would have given the world to have indulged it; something like pride aided what I thought due to Mr. Macartney, and I de­termined not only to keep his secret, but to delay [Page 137] any sort of explanation, till Lord Orville should condescend to request it.

Slowly he walked, and before he entered the house, he looked back, but hastily withdrew his eyes, upon finding I observed him.

Indeed, my dear Sir, you cannot easily ima­gine a situation more uncomfortable than mine was at that time; to be suspected by Lord Or­ville of any clandestine actions, wounded my soul; I was too much discomposed to wait for Mr. Macartney, nor, in truth, could I endure to have the design of my staying so well known. Yet, so extremely was I agitated, that I could hardly move, and, I have reason to believe, Lord Orville, from the parlour window, saw me totter­ing along, for, before I had taken five steps, he came out, and hastening to me, said, ‘"I fear you are not well; pray allow me, (offering his arm) to assist you."’

‘"No, my Lord,"’ said I, with all the resolu­tion I could assume; yet I was affected by an attention, at that time, so little expected, and forced to turn away my head to conceal my emotion.

‘"You must,"’ said he, with earnestness, ‘"in­deed you must,—I am sure you are not well;—refuse me not the honour of assisting you;’ and, almost forcibly he took my hand, and drawing it under his arm, obliged me to lean upon him. That I submitted, was partly the effect of sur­prise at an earnestness so uncommon in Lord Orville, and partly, that I did not just then, dare trust my voice to make any objection.

When we came to the house, he led me into the parlour, and to a chair, and begged to know if I would not have a glass of water.

[Page 138] ‘"No, my Lord, I thank you,"’ said I, ‘"I am perfectly recovered;"’ and, rising, I walked to the window, where, for some time, I pretend­ed to be occupied in looking at the garden.

Determined as I was to act honourably by Mr. Macartney, I yet most anxiously wished to be restored to the good opinion of Lord Orville; but his silence, and the thoughtfulness of his air, discouraged me from speaking.

My situation soon grew disagreeable and em­barrassing, and I resolved to return to my cham­ber till breakfast was ready. To remain longer, I feared, might seem asking for his enquiries; and I was sure it would ill become me to be more ea­ger to speak, than he was to hear.

Just as I reached the door, turning to me, hastily, he said, ‘"Are you going, Miss An­ville?"’

‘"I am, my Lord,"’ answered I, yet I stop­ped.

‘"Perhaps to return to—but I beg your par­don!"’ he spoke with a degree of agitation that made me readily comprehend he meant to the garden, and I instantly said, ‘"To my own room, my Lord."’ And again I would have gone; but, convinced by my answer that I un­derstood him, I believe he was sorry for the insi­nuation; he approached me with a very serious air, though, at the same time, he forced a smile, and said, ‘"I know not what evil genius pursues me this morning, but I seem destined to do or say something I ought not: I am so much asham­ed of myself, that I can scarce solicit your for­giveness."’

‘"My forgiveness! my Lord?"’ cried I, abash­ed, rather than elated by his condescension, ‘"sure­ly you cannot,—you are not serious?"’

[Page 139] ‘"Indeed never more so; yet, if I may be my own interpreter, Miss Anville's countenance pro­nounces my pardon."’

‘"I know not, my Lord, how any one can pardon, who has never been offended."’

‘"You are very good; yet I could expect no less from a sweetness of disposition which baffles all comparison: will you not think I am an en­croacher, and that I take advantage of your good­ness, should I once more remind you of the pro­mise you vouchsafed me yesterday?"’

‘"No, indeed; on the contrary, I shall be very happy to acquit myself in your Lordship's opinion."’

‘"Acquittal you need not,"’ said he, leading me again to the window, ‘"yet I own my curio­sity is strongly excited."’

When I was seated, I found myself much at a los what to say; yet, after a short silence, as­suming all the courage in my power, ‘"Will you not, my Lord,"’ said I, ‘"think me trifling and capricious, should I own I have repented the promise I made, and should I entreat your Lord­ship not to insist upon my strict performance of it?—I spoke so hastily, that I did not, at the time, consider the impropriety of what I said"’

As he was entirely silent, and profoundly at­tentive, I continued to speak without interrup­tion.

‘"If your Lordship, by any other means, knew the circumstances attending my acquain­tance with Mr. Macartney, I am most sure you would yourself disapprove my relating them. He is a gentleman, and has been very unfortu­nate,—but I am not,—I think not,—at liberty to say more: yet I am sure, if he knew your Lord­ship [Page 140] wished to hear any particulars of his affairs, he would readily consent to my acknowledging them;—shall, my Lord, ask his permission?"’

‘"His affairs,"’ repeated Lord Orville; ‘"by no means, I have not the least curiosity about them."’

‘"I beg your Lordship's pardon,—but indeed I had understood the contrary."’

‘"Is it possible, Madam, you could suppose the affairs of an utter stranger can excite my cu­riosity."’

The gravity and coldness with which he asked this question, very much abashed me; but Lord Orville is the most delicate of men, and presently recollecting himself, he added, ‘"I mean not to speak with indifference of any friend of yours,—far from it; any such will always command my good wishes: yet I own I am rather disappoint­ed; and though I doubt not the justice of your reasons, to which I implicitly submit, you must not wonder, that when, upon the point of being honoured with your confidence, I should feel the greatest regret at finding it withdrawn."’

Do you think, my dear Sir, I did not, at that moment, require all my resolution to guard me from frankly telling him whatever he wished to hear? yet I rejoice that I did not; for, added to the actual wrong I should have done, Lord Or­ville himself, when he had heard, would, I am sure, have blamed me. Fortunately, this thought occurred to me, and I said, ‘"Your Lordship shall yourself be my judge; the pro­mise I made, though voluntary, was rash and inconsiderate; yet, had it concerned myself, I would not have hesitated in fulfilling it; but the gentleman whose affairs I should be obliged to re­late—"’

[Page 141] ‘"Pardon me,"’ cried he, ‘"for interrupting you; yet allow me to assure you, I have not the slightest desire to be acquainted with his affairs, further than what belongs to the motives which induced you yesterday morning—"’ He stopped; but there was no occasion to say more.

‘"That, my Lord,"’ cried I, ‘"I will tell you honesty. Mr. Macartney had some particular business with me,—and I could not take the liber­ty to ask him hither."’

‘"And why not?—Mrs. Beaumont, I am sure,—"’

‘"I could not, my Lord, think of intruding upon Mrs. Beaumont's complaisance; and so, with the same hasty folly I promised your Lord­ship, I much more rashly, promised to meet him."’

‘"And did you?"’

‘"No, my Lord,"’ said I, colouring, ‘"I re­turned before he came."’

Again, for some time, we were both silent; yet, unwilling to leave him to reflections which could not but be to my disadvantage, I summoned sufficient courage to say, ‘"There is no young creature, my Lord, who so greatly wants, or so earnestly wishes for, the advice and assistance of her friends, as I do; I am new to the world, and unused to acting for myself,—my intentions are never wilfully blameable, yet I err perpetually!—I have hitherto, been blest with the most affecti­onate of friends, and, indeed, the ablest of men, to guide and instruct me upon every occasion;—but he is too distant, now, to be applied to at the moment I want his aid; and here,—there is not a human being whose counsel I can ask!"’

‘"Would to Heaven,"’ cried he, with a coun­tenance from which all coldness and gravity were [Page 142] banished, and succeeded by the mildest benevo­lence, ‘"that I were worthy,—and capable,—of supplying the place of such a friend to Miss Anville!"’

‘"You do me but too much honour,"’ said I; ‘"yet I hope your Lordship's candour,—perhaps I ought to say indulgence,—will make some al­lowance, on account of my inexperience, for be­haviour so inconsiderate:—May I, my Lord, hope that you will?"’

‘"May I,"’ cried he, ‘"hope that you will pardon the ill-grace with which I have submitted to my disappointment? and that you will permit me,"’ (kissing my hand) ‘"thus to seal my peace?"’

‘"Our peace, my Lord,"’ said I, with revived spirits.

‘"This, then,"’ said he, again pressing it to his lips, ‘"for our peace: and now,—are we not friends?"’

Just then, the door opened, and I had only time to withdraw my hand, ere the ladies came in to breakfast.

I have been, all day, the happiest of human beings!—to be thus reconciled to Lord Orville, and yet to adhere to my resolution,—what could I wish for more?—he too, has been very chear­ful, and more attentive, more obliging to me than ever. Yet Heaven forbid I should again be in a similar situation, for I cannot express how much uneasiness I have suffered from the fear of incurring his ill opinion.

But what will poor Mr. Macartney think of me? happy as I am, I much regret the ne­cessity I have been under, of disappointing him.

Adieu, my dearest Sir.

LETTER XXI.
Mr. Villars to Evelina.

DEAD to the world, and equally insensible to its pleasures or its pains, I long since bid adieu to all joy, and defiance to all sorrow, but what should spring from my Evelina,—sole source, to me, of all earthly felicity. How strange, then, is it, that the letter in which she tells me she is the happiest of human beings, should give me the most mortal inquietude!

Alas, my child!—that innocence, the first, best gift of Heaven, should, of all others, be the blindest to its own danger,—the most exposed to treachery,—and the least able to defend itself, in a world where it is little known, less valued, and perpe­tually deceived.

Would to Heaven you were here!—then, by degrees, and with gentleness, I might enter upon a subject too delicate for distant discussion. Yet it is too interesting, and the situation too critical, to allow of delay.—Oh my Evelina, your situ­ation is critical indeed!—your peace of mind is at stake, and every chance for your future happiness may depend upon the conduct of the present mo­ment.

Hitherto I have forborne to speak with you upon the most important of all concerns, the state of your heart:—alas, I needed no information! I have been silent, indeed, but I have not been blind.

Long, and with the deepest regret, have I per­ceived [Page 144] the ascendency which Lord Orville has gained upon your mind.—You will start at the mention of his name,—you will tremble every word you read;—I grieve to give pain to my gen­tle Evelina, but I dare not any longer spare her.

Your first meeting with Lord Orville was de­cisive. Lively, fearless, free from all other impres­sions, such a man as you describe him could not fail exciting your admiration, and the more dange­rously, because he seemed as unconscious of his power as you of your weakness; and therefore you had no alarm, either from his vanity, or your own prudence.

Young, animated, entirely off your guard, and thoughtless of consequences, imagination took the reins, and reason, slow-paced, though sure-foot­ed, was unequal to a race with so eccentric and flighty a companion. How rapid was then my Eve­lina's progress through those regions of fancy and passion whither her new guide conducted her!—She saw Lord Orville at a ball,—and he was the most amiable of men!—She met him again at ano­ther,—and he had every virtue under Heaven!

I mean not to depreciate the merit of Lord Or­ville, who, one mysterious instance alone ex­cepted, seems to have deserved the idea you form­ed of his character; but it was not time, it was not the knowledge of his worth, obtained your regard; your new comrade had not patience to wait any trial; her glowing pencil, dipt in the vivid colours of her creative ideas, painted to you, at the moment of your first acquaintance, all the excellencies, all the good and rare qualities, which a great length of time, and intimacy, could alone have really discovered.

You flattered yourself, that your partiality was the effect of esteem, founded upon a general love [Page 145] of merit, and a principle of justice; and your heart, which fell the sacrifice of your error, was totally gone ere you suspected it was in danger.

A thousand times have I been upon the point of shewing you the perils of your situation; but the same inexperience which occasioned your mis­take, I hoped, with the assistance of time and ab­sence, would effect a cure: I was, indeed, most unwilling to destroy your illusion, while I dared hope it might itself contribute to the restoration of your tranquillity; since your ignorance of the danger and force of your attachment, might pos­sibly prevent that despondency with which young people, in similar circumstances, are apt to per­suade themselves that what is only difficult, is ab­solutely impossible.

But now, since you have again met, and are become more intimate than ever, all my hope from silence and seeming ignorance is at an end.

Awake, then, my dear, my deluded child, awake to the sense of your danger, and exert your­self to avoid the evils with which it threatens you,—evils which, to a mind like yours, are most to be dreaded, secret repining, and concealed, yet consuming regret! Make a noble effort for the re­covery of your peace, which now, with sorrow I see it, depends wholly upon the presence of Lord Orville. This effort, may, indeed, be pain­ful, but trust to my experience, when I assure you it is requisite.

You must quit him!—his sight is baneful to your repose, his society is death to your future tranquillity! Believe me, my beloved child, my heart aches for your suffering, while it dictates its necessity.

Could I flatter myself that Lord Orville would, indeed, be sensible of your worth, and act with a [Page 146] nobleness of mind, which should prove it reci­procal, then would I leave my Evelina to the un­molested enjoyment of the chearful society and in­creasing regard of a man she so greatly admires; but this is not an age in which we may trust to appearances, and imprudence is much sooner re­gretted than repaired. Your health, you tell me, is much mended,—can you then consent to leave Bristol?—not abruptly, that I do not desire, but in a few days from the time you receive this? I will write to Mrs. Selwyn, and tell her how much I wish your return; and Mrs. Clinton can take sufficient care of you.

I have meditated upon every possible expedient that might tend to your happiness, ere I fixed upon exacting from you a compliance which I am con­vinced will be most painful to you; but I can sa­tisfy myself in none. This will at least be safe, and as to success,—we must leave it to time.

I am very glad to hear of Mr. Macartney's wel­fare.

Adieu, my dearest child; Heaven preserve and strengthen you!

A. V.

LETTER XXII.
Evelina to the Rev. Mr. Villars.

SWEETLY, most sweetly, have two days more passed since I wrote; but I have been too much engaged to be exact in my journal.

[Page 147] To-day has been less tranquil. It was destined for the decision of the important bet, and has been productive of general confusion throughout the house. It was settled that the race should be run at five o'clock in the afternoon. Lord Mer­ton breakfasted here, and stayed till noon. He wanted to engage the ladies to bet on his side, in the true spirit of gaming, without seeing the ra­cers. But he could only prevail on Lady Louisa, as Mrs. Selwyn said she never laid a wager against her own wishes, and Mrs. Beaumont would not take sides. As for me, I was not applied to. It is impossible for negligence to be more pointed, than that of Lord Merton to me, in the presence of Lady Louisa.

But, just before dinner, I happened to be alone in the drawing-room, when his Lordship suddenly returned, and coming in with his usual familiarity, he was beginning, ‘"You see, Lady Louisa,—"’ but stopping short, ‘"Pray, where's every body gone?"’

‘"Indeed I don't know, my Lord."’

He then shut the door, and, with a great alter­ation in his face and manner, advanced eagerly towards me, and said, ‘"How glad I am, my sweet girl, to meet you, at last, alone! By my soul, I began to think there was a plot against me, for I've never been able to have you a minute to myself."’ And, very freely, he seized my hand.

I was so much surprised at this address, after having been so long totally neglected, that I could make no other answer than staring at him with un­feigned astonishment.

‘"Why now,"’ continued he, ‘"if you was not the cruellest little angel in the world, you would have helped me to some expedient: for you see how I am watched here; Lady Louisa's [Page 148] eyes are never off me. She gives me a charming foretaste of the pleasures of a wife! however, it won't last long."’

Disgusted to the greatest degree, I attempted to draw away my hand, but I believe I should not have succeeded, had not Mrs. Beaumont made her appearance. He turned from me with the greatest assurance, and said, ‘"How are you, Ma'am?—how is Lady Louisa?—you see I can't live a moment out of the house."’

Could you, my dearest Sir, have believed it possible for such effrontery to be in man?

Before dinner, came Mr. Coverley, and before five o'clock, Mr. Lovel and some other company. The place marked out for the race, was a gravel­walk in Mrs. Beaumont's garden, and the length of the ground twenty yards. When we were summoned to the course, the two poor old women made their appearance. Though they seemed very healthy for their time of life, they yet looked so weak, so infirm, so feeble, that I could feel no sensation but that of pity at the sight. However, this was not the general sense of the company, for they no sooner came forward, than they were greeted with a laugh from every beholder, Lord Orville excepted, who looked very grave during the whole transaction. Doubtless he must be greatly dis­contented at the dissipated conduct and extrava­gance, of a man with whom he is, soon, to be so nearly connected.

For some time, the scene was truly ridiculous; the agitation of the parties concerned, and the bets that were laid upon the old women, were absurd beyond measure. Who are you for? and whose side are you of? was echoed from mouth to mouth by the whole company. Lord Merton and Mr. Coverley were both so excessively gay and noisy, [Page 149] that I soon found they had been too free in drink­ing to their success. They handed, with loud shouts, the old women to the race-ground, and encouraged them, by liberal promises, to exert themselves.

When the signal was given them to set off, the poor creatures, seeble and frightened, ran against each other, and, neither of them able to support the shock, they both fell on the ground.

Lord Merton and Mr. Coverley flew to their assistance. Seats were brought for them, and they each drank a glass of wine. They complained of being much bruised, for, heavy and helpless, they had not been able to save themselves, but fell with their whole weight upon the gravel. However, as they seemed equal sufferers, both parties were too eager to have the affair deferred.

Again, therefore, they set off, and hobbled along, nearly even with each other, for some time, yet frequently, and to the inexpressible di­version of the company, they stumbled and tot­tered; and the confused hallowing of ‘"Now Co­verley!"’ ‘"Now Merton!"’ rung from side to side during the whole affair.

Not long after, a foot of one of the poor wo­men slipt, and, with great force, she came again to the ground. Involuntarily, I sprung forward to assist her, but Lord Merton, to whom she did not belong, stopped me, calling out ‘"No foul play! no foul play!"’

Mr. Coverley, then, repeating the same words, went himself to help her, and insisted that the other should stop. A debate ensued; but the poor creature was too much hurt to move, and declared her utter inability to make another at­tempt. Mr. Coverley was quite brutal; he swore [Page 150] at her with unmanly rage, and seemed scarce able to refrain even from striking her.

Lord Merton then, in great rapture, said it was a hollow thing; but Mr. Coverley contended that the fall was accidental, and time should be allow­ed for the woman to recover. However, all the company being against him, he was pronounced the loser.

We then went to the drawing-room, to tea. After which, the evening being delightful, we all walked in the garden. Lord Merton was quite riotous, and Lady Louisa in high spirits; but Mr. Coverley endeavoured in vain to conceal his cha­grin.

As Lord Orville was thoughtful, and walked by himself, I expected that, as usual, I should pass unnoticed, and be left to my own medita­tions; but this was not the case, for Lord Mer­ton, entirely off his guard, giddy equally from wine and success, was very troublesome to me; and, regardless of the presence of Lady Louisa, which, hitherto, has restrained him even from common civility, he attached himself to me, du­ring the walk, with a freedom of gallantry that put me extremely out of countenance. He paid me the most high-flown compliments, and fre­quently and forcibly seized my hand, though I repeatedly, and with undissembled anger, drew it back. Lord Orville, I saw, watched us with earnestness, and Lady Louisa's smiles were con­verted into looks of disdain.

I could not bear to be thus situated, and com­plaining I was tired, I quickened my pace, with intention to return to the house; but Lord Mer­ton hastily following, caught my hand, and say­ing the day was his own, vowed he would not let me go.

[Page 151] ‘"You must, my Lord,"’ cried I, extremely flurried.

‘"You are the most charming girl in the world,"’ said he, ‘"and never looked better than at this moment."’

‘"My Lord,"’ cried Mrs. Selwyn, advancing to us, ‘"you don't consider, that the better Miss Anville looks, the more striking is the contrast with your Lordship; therefore, for your own sake, I would advise you not to hold her."’

‘"Egad, my Lord,"’ cried Mr. Coverley, ‘"I don't see what right you have to the best old, and the best young woman too, in the same day."’

‘"Best young woman!"’ repeated Mr. Lovel; ‘"'pon honour, Jack, you have made a most unfortunate speech; however, if Lady Louisa can pardon you,—and her Ladyship is all good­ness,—I am sure nobody else can, for you have committed an outrageous solecism in good man­ners."’

‘"And pray, Sir,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"un­der what denomination may your own speech pass?"’

Mr. Lovel, turning another way, affected not to hear her: and Mr. Coverley, bowing to Lady Louisa, said, ‘"Her Ladyship is well acquainted with my devotion,—but egad, I don't know how it is,—I had always an unlucky turn at an epigram, and never could resist a smart play upon words in my life."’

‘"Pray, my Lord,"’ cried I, ‘"let go my hand! pray, Mrs. Selwyn, speak for me."’

‘"My Lord,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"in detain­ing Miss Anville any longer, you only lose time, for we are already as well convinced of your va­lour [Page 152] and your strength as if you were to hold her an age."’

‘"My Lord,"’ said Mrs. Beaumont, ‘"I must beg leave to interfere; I know not if Lady Lou­isa can pardon you, but, as this young Lady is at my house, I do not chuse to have her made uneasy."’

‘"I pardon him!"’ cried Lady Louisa, ‘"I declare I am monstrous glad to get rid of him."’

‘"Egad, my Lord,"’ cried Mr. Coverley, ‘"while you are grasping at a shadow, you'll lose a substance; you'd best make your peace while you can."’

‘"Pray, Mr. Coverley, be quiet,"’ said Lady Louisa, peevishly, ‘"for I declare I won't speak to him. Brother,"’ (taking hold of Lord Orville's arm) ‘"will you walk in with me?"’

‘"Would to Heaven,"’ cried I, frightened to see how much Lord Merton was in liquor, ‘"that I, too, had a brother!—and then I should not be exposed to such treatment!"’

Lord Orville, instantly quitting Lady Louisa, said, ‘"Will Miss Anville allow me the honour of taking that title?"’ and then, without waiting for any answer, he disengaged me from Lord Merton, and, handing me to Lady Louisa, ‘"Let me,"’ added he, ‘"take equal care of both my sisters;"’ and then, desiring her to take hold of one arm, and begging me to make use of the other, we reached the house in a moment. Lord Mer­ton, disordered as he was, attempted not to stop us.

As soon as we entered the house, I withdrew my arm, and courtsied my thanks, for my heart was too full for speech. Lady Louisa, evidently hurt at her brother's condescension, and piqued extremely by Lord Merton's behaviour, silent­ly [Page 153] drew away her's, and biting her lips, with a look of infinite vexation, walked sullenly up the hall.

Lord Orville asked her if she would not go into the parlour.

‘"No,"’ answered she, haughtily; ‘"I leave you and your new sister together,"’ and then she walked up stairs.

I was quite confounded at the pride and rude­ness of this speech. Lord Orville himself seemed thunderstruck; I turned from him, and went into the parlour; he followed me, saying, ‘"Must I, now, apologise to Miss Anville for the liberty of my interference?—or ought I to apologise that I did not, as I wished, interfere sooner?"’

‘"O my Lord,"’ cried I, with an emotion I could not repress, ‘"it is from you alone I meet with any respect,—all others treat me with imper­tinence or contempt!"’

I am sorry I had not more command of myself, as he had reason, just then, to suppose I particu­larly meant his sister, which, I am sure, must very much hurt him.

‘"Good Heaven,"’ cried he, ‘"that so much sweetness and merit can fail to excite the love and admiration so justly their due! I cannot,—I dare not express to you half the indignation I feel at this moment!"’

‘"I am sorry, my Lord,"’ said I, more calmly, ‘"to have raised it; but yet,—in a situation that calls for protection, to meet only with mortifi­cations,—indeed I am but ill formed to bear them!"’

‘"My dear Miss Anville,"’ cried he, warmly, ‘"allow me to be your friend; think of me as if I were indeed your brother, and let me entreat you to accept my best services, if there is any thing in [Page 154] which I can be so happy as to shew my regard,—my respect for you!"’

Before I had time to speak, the rest of the party entered the parlour, and, as I did not wish to see any thing more of Lord Merton, at least before he had slept, I determined to leave it. Lord Orville, seeing my design, said, as I passed him, ‘"Will you go?"’ ‘"Had not I best, my Lord?"’ said I. ‘"I am afraid,"’ said he, smiling, ‘"since I must now speak as your brother, I am afraid you had;—you see you may trust me, since I can advise against my own interest."’

I then left the room, and have been writing ever since. And methinks I can never lament the rudeness of Lord Merton, as it has more than ever confirmed to me the esteem of Lord Orville.

LETTER XXIII.
Evelina in continuation.

OH Sir, what a strange incident have I to re­cite! what a field of conjecture to open!

Yesterday evening, we all went to an assembly. Lord Orville presented tickets to the whole fami­ly, and did me the honour, to the no small sur­prise of all here, I believe, to dance with me. But every day abounds in fresh instances of his condescending politeness, and he now takes every opportunity of calling me his friend, and his sister.

[Page 155] Lord Merton offered a ticket to Lady Louisa; but she was so much incensed against him, that she refused it with the utmost disdain; neither could he prevail upon her to dance with him; she sat still the whole evening, and deigned not to look at, or speak to him. To me, her behaviour is almost the same, for she is cold, distant, and haughty, and her eyes express the greatest con­tempt. But for Lord Orville, how miserable would my residence here make me!

We were joined, in the ball-room, by Mr. Co­verley, Mr. Lovel, and Lord Merton, who look­ed as if he was doing penance, and sat all the evening next to Lady Louisa, vainly endeavouring to appease her anger.

Lord Orville began the minuets; he danced with a young Lady who seemed to engage the ge­neral attention, as she had not been seen here before. She is pretty, and looks mild and good­humoured.

‘"Pray, Mr. Lovel,"’ said Lady Louisa, ‘"who is that?"’

‘"Miss Belmont,"’ answered he, ‘"the young heiress; she came to the Wells yesterday."’

Struck with the name, I involuntarily repeated it, but nobody heard me.

‘"What is her family?"’ said Mrs. Beau­mont.

‘"Have you not heard of her, Ma'am?"’ cried he, ‘"she is only daughter and heiress of Sir John Belmont."’

Good Heaven, how did I start! the name struck my ear like a thunder-bolt. Mrs. Sel­wyn, who immediately looked at me, said, ‘"Be calm, my dear, and we will learn the truth of all this."’

[Page 156] Till then, I had never imagined her to be ac­quainted with my story; but she has since told me, that she knew my unhappy mother, and was well informed of the whole affair.

She asked Mr. Lovel a multitude of questions, and I gathered from his answers, that this young Lady was just come from abroad, with Sir John Belmont, who was now in London; that she was under the care of his sister, Mrs. Paterson; and that she would inherit a considerable estate.

I cannot express the strange feelings with which I was agitated during this recital. What, my dear­est Sir, can it possibly mean? Did you ever hear of any after-marriage?—or must I suppose, that, while the lawful child is rejected, another is adopt­ed?—I know not what to think! I am bewildered with a contrariety of ideas!

When we came home, Mrs. Selwyn passed more than an hour in my room, conversing upon this subject. She says that I ought instantly to go to town, find out my father, and have the affair cleared up. She assures me I have too strong a resemblance to my dear, though unknown mother, to allow of the least hesitation in my being owned, when once I am seen. For my part, I have no wish but to act by your direction.

I can give no account of the evening; so dis­turbed, so occupied am I by this subject, that I can think of no other. I have entreated Mrs. Sel­wyn to observe the strictest secrecy, and she has promised that she will. Indeed, she has too much sense to be idly communicative.

Lord Orville took notice of my being absent and silent, but I ventured not to entrust him with the cause. Fortunately, he was not of the party at the time Mr. Lovel made the discovery.

[Page 157] Mrs. Selwyn says that if you approve my going to town, she will herself accompany me. I had a thousand times rather ask the protection of Mrs. Mirvan, but, after this offer, that will not be possible.

Adieu, my dearest Sir. I am sure you will write immediately, and I shall be all impatience till your letter arrives.

LETTER XXIV.
Evelina in continuation.

GOOD God, my dear Sir, what a wonderful tale have I again to relate! even yet, I am not recovered from my extreme surprise.

Yesterday morning, as soon as I had finished my hasty letter, I was summoned to attend a walk­ing party to the Hotwells. It consisted only of Mrs. Selwyn and Lord Orville. The latter walk­ed by my side all the way, and his conversation dissipated my uneasiness, and insensibly restored my serenity.

At the pump-room, I saw Mr. Macartney; I courtsied to him twice ere he would speak to me. When he did, I began to apologise for having dis­appointed him; but I did not find it very easy to excuse myself, as Lord Orville's eyes, with an ex­pression of anxiety that distressed me, turned from him to me, and me to him, every word I spoke. Convinced, however, that I had really trifled with [Page 158] Mr. Macartney, I scrupled not to beg his pardon. He was, then, not merely appeased, but even grateful.

He requested me to see him to-morrow: but I had not the folly to be again guilty of an indis­cretion which had, already, caused me so much uneasiness; and therefore, I told him, frankly, that it was not in my power, at present, to see him, but by accident: and, to prevent his being offended, I hinted to him the reason I could not receive him as I wished to do.

When I had satisfied both him and myself upon this subject, I turned to Lord Orville, and saw, with concern, the gravity of his countenance. I would have spoken to him, but knew not how; I believe, however, he read my thoughts, for in a little time, with a sort of serious smile, he said, ‘"Does not Mr. Macartney complain of his dis­appointment?"’

‘"Not much, my Lord."’

‘"And how have you appeased him?"’ Finding I hesitated what to answer, ‘"Am I not your brother?"’ continued he, ‘"and must I not enquire into your affairs?"’

‘"Certainly, my Lord,"’ said I, laughing, ‘"I only wish it were better worth your Lord­ship's while."’

‘"Let me, then, make immediate use of my privilege. When shall you see Mr. Macartney again?"’

‘"Indeed, my Lord, I can't tell."’

‘"But,—do you know that I shall not suffer my sister to make a private appointment?"’

‘"Pray, my Lord,"’ cried I, earnestly, ‘"use that word no more! indeed you shock me extre­mely."’

[Page 159] ‘"That would I not do for the world,"’ cried he; ‘"yet you know not how warmly, how deeply I am interested, not only in all your concerns, but in all your actions."’

This speech,—the most particular one Lord Orville had ever made to me, ended our conver­sation for that time, for I was too much struck by it to make any answer.

Soon after, Mr. Macartney, in a low voice, entreated me not to deny him the gratificati­on of returning the money. While he was speaking, the young Lady I saw yesterday at the assembly, with a large party, entered the pump-room. Mr. Macartney turned as pale as death, his voice faltered, and he seemed not to know what he said. I was myself almost equally disturbed, by the croud of confused ideas that occured to me. Good Heaven, thought I, why should he be thus agi­tated?—is it possible this can be the young Lady he loved?

In a few minutes, we quitted the pump­room, and though I twice wished Mr. Macartney good morning, he was so absent he did not hear me.

We did not immediately return to Clifton, as Mrs. Selwyn had business at a pamphlet-shop. While she was looking at some new poems, Lord Orville again asked me when I should see Mr. Macartney?

‘"Indeed, my Lord,"’ cried I, ‘"I know not; but I would give the universe for a few moments conversation with him!"’ I spoke this with a sim­ple sincerity, and was not aware of the force of my own words.

‘"The universe!"’ repeated he, ‘"Good God, Miss Anville, do you say this to me?"’

[Page 160] ‘"I would say it,"’ returned I, ‘"to any body, my Lord."’

‘"I beg your pardon,"’ said he, in a voice that shewed him ill pleased, ‘"I am answered!"’

‘"My Lord,"’ cried, I, ‘"you must not judge hardly of me. I spoke inadvertently; but if you knew the painful suspence I suffer at this moment, you would not be surprised at what I have said."’

‘"And would a meeting with Mr. Macartney relieve you from that suspence?"’

‘"Yes, my Lord, two words might be suffici­ent."’

‘"Would to Heaven,"’ cried he, after a short pause, ‘"that I were worthy to know their im­port!"’

‘"Worthy, my Lord!—O, if that were all, your Lordship could ask nothing I should not be ready to answer! if I were but at liberty to speak, I should be proud of your Lordship's enquiries; but indeed I am not, I have no right to commu­nicate the affairs of Mr. Macartney,—your Lord­ship cannot suppose I have."’

‘"I will own to you,"’ answered he, ‘"I know not what to suppose; yet there seems a frankness even in your mystery,—and such an air of open­ness in your countenance, that I am willing to hope,—"’ He stopped a moment, and then added, ‘"This meeting you say, is essential to your re­pose?"’

‘"I did not say that, my Lord; but yet I have the most important reasons for wishing to speak to him."’

He paused a few minutes, and then said, with warmth, ‘"Yes, you shall speak to him!—I will myself assist you!—Miss Anville, I am sure can­not form a wish against propriety, I will ask no questions, I will rely upon her own purity; and [Page 161] uninformed, blindfold as I am, I will serve her with all my power!"’ and then he went into the shop, leaving me so strangely affected by his ge­nerous behaviour, that I almost wished to follow him with my thanks.

When Mrs. Selwyn had transacted her affairs, we returned home.

The moment dinner was over, Lord Orville went out, and did not come back till just as we were summoned to supper. This is the longest time he has spent from the house since I have been at Clifton, and you cannot imagine, my dear Sir, how much I missed him. I scarce knew before how infinitely I am indebted to him alone for the happiness I have enjoyed since I have been at Mrs. Beaumont's.

As I generally go down stairs last, he came to me the moment the ladies had passed by, and said, ‘"Shall you be at home to-morrow morning?"’

‘"I believe so, my Lord."’

‘"And will you, then, receive a visitor for me?"’

‘"For you, my Lord!"’

‘"Yes;—I have made acquaintance with Mr. Macartney, and he has promised to call upon me to-morrow about three o'clock."’

And then, taking my hand, he led me down stairs.

O Sir,—was there ever such another man as Lord Orville?—Yes, one other now resides at Berry-Hill!

This morning there has been a great deal of company here, but at the time appointed by Lord Orville, doubtless with that consideration, the parlour is almost always empty, as every body is dressing.

[Page 162] Mrs. Beaumont, however, was not gone up stairs, when Mr. Macartney sent in his name.

Lord Orville immediately said, ‘"Beg the fa­vour of him to walk in. You see, Madam, that I consider myself as at home.’

‘"I hope so,"’ answered Mrs. Beaumont, ‘"or I should be very uneasy."’

Mr. Macartney then entered. I believe we both felt very conscious to whom the visit was paid: but Lord Orville received him as his own guest, and not merely entertained him as such while Mrs. Beaumont remained in the room, but for some time after she went; a delicacy that sav­ed me from the embarrassment I should have felt, had he immediately quitted us.

In a few minutes, however, he gave Mr. Ma­cartney a book,—for I, too, by way of pretence for continuing in the room, pretended to be read­ing,—and begged he would be so good as to look it over, while he answered a note, which he would dispatch in a few minutes, and return to him.

When he was gone, we both parted with our books, and Mr. Macartney, again producing the paper with the money, besought me to accept it.

‘"Pray,’ "said I, still declining it, ‘"did you know the young lady who came into the pump­room yesterday morning?’

‘"Know her!"’ repeated he, changing colour, ‘"Oh, but too well!"’

‘"Indeed!"’

‘Why, Madam, do you ask?"’

‘"I must beseech you to satisfy me further upon this subject; pray tell me who she is."’

‘"Inviolably as I meant to keep my secret, I can refuse you, Madam, nothing;—that lady [Page 163] —is the daughter of Sir John Belmont!—of my father!"’

‘"Gracious Heaven!"’ cried I, involuntarily laying my hand on his arm, ‘"you are then—",’ my brother, I would have said, but my voice fail­ed me, and I burst into tears.

‘"Oh, Madam,"’ cried he, ‘"what can this mean?—What can thus distress you?"’

I could not answer him, but held out my hand to him. He seemed greatly surprised, and talked in high terms of my condescension.

‘"Spare yourself,"’ cried I, wiping my eyes, ‘"spare yourself this mistake,—you have a right to all I can do for you; the similarity of our cir­cumstances—"’

We were then interrupted by the entrance of Mrs. Selwyn; and Mr. Macartney, finding no probability of our being left alone, was obliged to take leave, tho', I believe, very reluctantly, while in such suspence.

Mrs. Selwyn then, by dint of interrogatories, drew from me the state of this affair. She is so penetrating, that there is no possibility of evading to give her satisfaction.

Is not this a strange event? Good Heaven, how little did I think that the visits I so unwilling­ly paid at Mr. Branghton's would have introduc­ed me to so near a relation! I will never again re­gret the time I spent in town this summer: a cir­cumstance so fortunate will always make me think of it with pleasure.

I have just received your letter,—and it has al­most broken my heart!—Oh! Sir! the illusion is over indeed!—How vainly have I flattered, how [Page 164] miserably deceived myself! Long since, doubtful of the situation of my heart, I dreaded a scruti­ny,—but now, now that I have so long escaped, I began indeed, to think my safety insured, to hope that my fears were causeless, and to believe that my good opinion and esteem of Lord Orville might be owned without suspicion, and felt with­out danger:—miserably deceived, indeed!

His sight is baneful to my repose,—his society is death to my future tranquility! Oh, Lord Or­ville! could I have believed that a friendship so grateful to my heart,—so soothing to my dis­tresses,—a friendship which, in every respect, did me so much honour, would only serve to embitter all my future moments!—What a strange, what an unhappy circumstance, that my gratitude, though so justly excited, should be so fatal to my peace!

Yes, Sir, I will quit him;—would to Hea­ven I could at this moment! without seeing him again,—without trusting to my now con­scious emotion!—Oh, Lord Orville, how little do you know the evils I owe to you! how little suppose, that, when most dignified by your at­tention, I was most to be pitied,—and, when most exalted by your notice, you were most my enemy!

You, Sir, relied upon my ignorance;—I, alas, upon your experience; and, whenever I doubted the weakness of my heart, the idea that you did not suspect it, reassured me,—res­stored my courage, and confirmed my error!—Yet am I most sensible of the kindness of your silence?

Oh, Sir! why have I ever quitted you!—why been exposed to dangers to which I am so unequal?

[Page 165] But I will leave this place,—leave Lord Or­ville,—leave him, perhaps, for ever!—no mat­ter; your counsel, your goodness, may teach me how to recover the peace and the serenity of which my unguarded folly has beguiled me. To you alone do I trust,—in you alone confide for every future hope I may form.

The more I consider of parting with Lord Or­vile, the less fortitude do I feel to bear the sepa­ration;—the friendship he has shewn me, his po­liteness,—his sweetness of manners, his concern in my affairs,—his solicitude to oblige me,—all, all to be given up!—

No, I cannot tell him I am going,—I dare not trust myself to take leave of him,—I will run away without seeing him:—implicitly will I follow your advice, avoid his sight, and shun his society!

To-morrow morning I will set off for Berry Hill. Mrs. Selwyn and Mrs. Beaumont shall alone know my intention. And to-day,—I will spend in my own room. The readiness of my obedience is the only atonement I can offer for the weakness which calls for its exertion.

Can you, will you, most honoured, most dear Sir!—sole prop by which the poor Evelina is supported,—can you, without reproach, without displeasure, receive the child you have so care­fully reared,—from whose education better fruit might have been expected, and who, blushing for her unworthiness, fears to meet the eye by which she has been cherished?—Oh yes, I am sure you will! Your Evelina's errors are those of the judgment,—and you, I well know, pardon all but those of the heart!

LETTER XXV.
Evelina in continuation.

I HAVE only time, my dearest Sir, for three words, to overtake my last letter, and prevent your expecting me immediately; for, when I communicated my intention to Mrs. Sel­wyn, she would not hear of it, and declared, it would be highly ridiculous for me to go be­fore I received an answer to my intelligence, concerning the journey from Paris. She has, therefore, insisted upon my waiting till your next letter arrives. I hope you will not be displeased at my compliance, though it is rather against my own judgment; but Mrs. Selwyn quite overpowered me with the force of her argu­ments. I will, however, see very little of Lord Orville; I will never come down stairs before breakfast; give up all my walks in the garden,—seat myself next to Mrs. Selwyn, and not merely avoid his conversation, but shun his presence. I will exert all the prudence, and all the resolution in my power,—to prevent this short delay from giving you any further uneasiness.

Adieu, my dearest Sir. I shall not now leave Clifton till I have your directions.

LETTER XXVI.
Evelina in continuation.

YESTERDAY, from the time I received your kind, though heart-piercing letter, I kept my room,—for I was equally unable and unwilling to see Lord Orville: but this morning, finding I seemed destined to pass a few days longer here, I endeavoured to calm my spirits, and to appear as usual; though I determined to avoid him as much as should be in my power. Indeed, as I entered the parlour, when called to breakfast, my thoughts were so much occupied with your letter, that I felt as much confusion at his sight, as if he had himself been informed of its con­tents.

Mrs. Beaumont made me a slight compliment upon my recovery, for I had pleaded illness to excuse keeping my room: Lady Louisa spoke not a word: but Lord Orville, little imagining himself the cause of my indisposition, enquired concerning my health with the most distinguish­ing politeness. I hardly made any answer, and, for the first time since I have been here, contriv­ed to sit at some distance from him.

I could not help observing that my reserve surprised him; yet he persisted in his civilities, and seemed to wish to remove it. But I paid him but very little attention; and the moment breakfast was over, instead of taking a book, or walking in the garden, I retired to my own room.

[Page 168] Soon after, Mrs. Selwyn came to tell me that Lord Orville had been proposing I should take an airing, and persuading her to let him drive us both in his phaeton. She delivered the mes­sage with an archness that made me blush, and added, that an airing, in my Lord Orville's car­riage, could not fail to revive my spirits. There is no possibility of escaping her discernment; she has frequently rallied me upon his Lordship's at­tention,—and, alas!—upon the pleasure with which I have received it! However, I absolute­ly refused the offer.

‘"Well,"’ said she, laughing, ‘"I cannot just now indulge you with any solicitation; for, to tell you the truth, I have business to transact at the Wells, and am glad to be excused myself. I would ask you to walk with me,—but, since Lord Orville is refused, I have not the presumption to hope for success."’

‘"Indeed,"’ cried I, ‘"you are mistaken; I will attend you with pleasure."’

‘"O rare coquetry!"’ cried she, ‘"surely it must be inherent in our sex, or it could not have been imbibed at Berry Hill."’

I had not spirits to answer her, and therefore put on my hat and cloak in silence.

‘"I presume,"’ continued she, drily, ‘"his Lordship may walk with us?"’

‘"If so, Madam,"’ said I, ‘"you will have a companion, and I will stay at home."’

‘"My dear child,"’ cried she, ‘"did you bring the certificate of your birth with you?"’

‘"Dear Madam, no!"’

‘"Why then, we shall never be known again at Berry Hill."’

I felt too conscious to enjoy her pleasantry; but I believe she was determined to torment me; [Page 169] for she asked if she should inform Lord Orville that I desired him not to be of the party?

‘"By no means, Madam;—but, indeed, I had rather not walk myself."’

‘"My dear,"’ cried she, ‘"I really do not know you this morning,—you have certainly been taking a lesson of Lady Louisa."’

She then went down stairs; but presently re­turning, told me she had acquainted Lord Orville that I did not choose to go out in the phaeton, but preferred a walk, tete-a-tete with her, by way of variety.

I said nothing, but was really vexed. She bid me go down stairs, and said she would follow im­mediately.

Lord Orville met me in the hall. ‘"I fear,"’ said he, ‘"Miss Anville is not yet quite well?"’ and he would have taken my hand, but I turned from him, and courtsying slightly, went into the parlour.

Mrs. Beaumont and Lady Louisa were at work: Lord Merton was talking with the latter; for he has now made his peace, and been again received into favour.

I seated myself, as usual, by the window. Lord Orville, in a few minutes, came to me, and said, ‘"Why is Miss Anville so grave?"’

‘"Not grave, my Lord,"’ said I, ‘"only stu­pid;"’ and I took up a book.

‘"You will go,"’ said he, after a short pause, ‘"to the assembly to-night?"’

‘"No, my Lord, certainly not."’

‘"Neither, then, will I; for I should be sorry to sully the remembrance I have of the happiness I enjoyed at the last."’

Mrs. Selwyn then coming in, general enquiries were made, to all but me, of who would go to [Page 170] the assembly. Lord Orville instantly declared he had letters to write at home; but every one else [...]ettled to go.

I then hastened Mrs. Selwyn away, tho' not be­fore she had said to Lord Orville, ‘"Pray has your Lordship obtained Miss Anville's leave to favour us with your company?"’

‘"I have not, Madam,"’ answered he, ‘"had the vanity to ask it."’

During our walk, Mrs. Selwyn tormented me unmercifully. She told me, that since I declined any addition to our party, I must, doubtless, be conscious of my own powers of entertainment; and begged me, therefore, to exert them freely. I repented a thousand times having consented to walk alone with her; for though I made the most painful efforts to appear in spirits, her raillery quite overpowered me.

The first place we went to was the pump-room. It was full of company; and the moment we en­tered, I heard a murmuring of, ‘"That's she!"’ and, to my great confusion, I saw every eye turn­ed towards me. I pulled my hat over my face, and, by the assistance of Mrs. Selwyn, endeavour­ed to screen myself from observation: neverthe­less, I found I was so much the object of general attention, that I entreated her to hasten away. But, unfortunately, she had entered into conver­sation, very earnestly, with a gentleman of her acquaintance, and would not listen to me, but said, that if I was tired of waiting, I might walk on to the milliner's with the Miss Watkins, two young ladies I had seen at Mrs. Beaumont's who were going thither.

I accepted the offer very readily, and away we went. But we had not gone three yards, ere we were followed by a party of young men, who [Page 171] took every possible opportunity of looking at us, and, as they walked behind, talked aloud, in a manner at once unintelligible and absurd. ‘"Yes,"’ cried one, ‘"'tis certainly she!"’—mark but her blushing cheek!

‘"And then her eye,—her downcast eye!"’ cried another.

‘"True, oh most true,"’ said a third, every beauty is her own!"’

‘"But then,"’ said the first, ‘"her mind,—now the difficulty is, to find out the truth of that,—for she will not say a word."’

‘"She is timid,"’ answered another; ‘"mark but her timid air."’

During this conversation, we all walked on, si­lent and quick; as we knew not to whom it was particularly addressed, we were all equally asham­ed, and equally desirous to avoid such unaccoun­table observations.

Soon after, we were caught in a violent shower of rain. We hurried on, and the care of our cloaths occupying our hands, we were separated from one another. These gentlemen offered their services in the most pressing manner, begging us to make use of their arms; and two of them were so particularly troublesome to me, that, in my haste to avoid them, I unfortunately stumbled, and fell down. They both assisted in helping me up; and that very instant, while I was yet between them, upon raising my eyes, the first object they met was Sir Clement Willough­by!

He started; so, I am sure, did I. ‘"Good God!"’ exclaimed he, with his usual quickness, ‘"Miss Anville!—I hope to Heaven you are not hurt?"’

[Page 172] ‘"No,"’ cried I, ‘"not at all; but I am ter­ribly dirtied."’ I then, without much difficulty, disengaged myself from my tormentors, who im­mediately gave way to Sir Clement, and entirely quitted us.

He teized me to make use of his arm; and, when I declined it, asked, very significantly, if I was much acquainted with those gentlemen who had just left me?

‘"No,"’ answered I, ‘"they are quite un­known to me."’

‘"And yet,"’ said he, ‘"you allowed them the honour of assisting you. Oh, Miss Anville, to me alone will you ever be thus cruel?"’

‘"Indeed, Sir Clement, their assistance was forced upon me, for I would have given the world to have avoided them."’

‘"Good God!"’ cried he, ‘"why did I not sooner know your situation?—But I only arrived here this morning, and I had not even learnt where you lodged."’

‘"Did you know, then, that I was at Bris­tol?"’

‘"Would to Heaven,"’ cried he, ‘"that I could remain in ignorance of your proceedings with the same contentment you do of mine! then should I not for ever journey upon the wings of hope, to meet my own despair! You cannot even judge of the cruelty of my fate, for the ease and serenity of your mind, incapacitates you from feel­ing for the agitation of mine."’

The ease and serenity of my mind! alas, how little do I merit those words!

‘"But;"’ added he, ‘"had accident brought me hither, had I not known of your journey, the voice of fame would have proclaimed it to me in­stantly upon my arrival."’

‘"The voice of fame!"’ repeated I.

[Page 173] ‘"Yes, for your's was the first name I heard at the pump-room. But, had I not heard your name, such a description could have painted no one else."’

‘"Indeed,"’ said I, ‘"I do not understand you."’ But, just then arriving at the milliner's, our con­versation ended; for I ran up stairs to wipe the dirt off my gown. I should have been glad to have remained there till Mrs. Selwyn came, but the Miss Watkins called me into the shop, to look at caps and ribbons.

I found Sir Clement busily engaged in looking at lace ruffles. Instantly, however, approaching me, ‘"How charmed I am,"’ said he, ‘"to see you look so well! I was told you were ill,—but I never saw you in better health,—never more infi­nitely lovely!"’

I turned away to examine the ribbons, and soon after Mrs. Selwyn made her appearance. I found that she was acquainted with Sir Clement, and her manner of speaking to him, convinced me that he was a favourite with her.

When their mutual compliments were over, she turned to me, and said, ‘"Pray, Miss An­ville, how long can you live without nourish­ment?"’

‘"Indeed, Ma'am,"’ said I, laughing, ‘"I have never tried."’

‘"Because so long, and no longer,"’ answered she, ‘"you may remain at Bristol."’

‘"Why, what is the matter, Ma'am?"’

‘"The matter!—why, all the ladies are at open war with you,—the whole pump-room is in con­fusion; and you, innocent as you pretend to look, are the cause. However if you take my advice, you will be very careful how you eat and drink during your stay."’

[Page 174] I begged her to explain herself: and she then told me, that a copy of verses had been dropt in the pump-room, and read there aloud: ‘"The beauties of the well,"’ said she, ‘"are all menti­oned, but you are the Venus to whom the prize is given."’

‘"Is it then possible,"’ cried Sir Clement, ‘"that you have not seen these verses?"’

‘"I hardly know,"’ answered I, ‘"whether any body has."’

‘"I assure you,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"if you give me the invention of them, you do me an ho­nour I by no means deserve."’

‘"I wrote down in my tablets,"’ said Sir Cle­ment, ‘"the stanzas which concern Miss Anville, this morning at the pump-room; and I will do myself the honour of copying them for her this evening."’

‘"But why the part that concerned Miss Anvil­le?"’ said Mrs. Selwyn; ‘"Did you ever see her before this morning?"’

‘"Oh yes,"’ answered he, ‘"I have had that happiness frequently at Captain Mirvan's. Too, too frequently!"’ added he, in a low voice, as Mrs. Selwyn turned to the milliner: and, as soon as she was occupied in examining some trimmings, he came to me, and, almost whe­ther I would or not, entered into conversation with me.

‘"I have a thousand things,"’ cried he, ‘"to say to you. Pray where are you?"’

‘"With Mrs. Selwyn, Sir."’

‘"Indeed!—then, for once, Chance is my friend. And how long have you been here?"’

‘"About three weeks."’

‘"Good Heaven! what an anxious search have I had, to discover your abode, since you so sud­denly [Page 175] left town! The termagant Madame Duval refused me all intelligence. Oh, Miss Anville, did you know what I have endured! the sleep­less, restless state of suspence I have been tortur­ed with, you could not, all cruel as you are, you could not have received me with such frigid indif­ference!"’

‘"Received you, Sir!"’

‘"Why, is not my visit to you? Do you think I should have made this journey, but for the hap­piness of again seeing you?"’

‘"Indeed it is possible I might,—since so many others do."’

‘"Cruel, cruel girl! you know that I adore you!—you know you are the mistress of my soul, and arbitress of my fate!"’

Mrs. Selwyn then advancing to us, he assumed a more disengaged air, and asked if he should not have the pleasure of seeing her, in the evening, at the assembly?

‘"Oh yes,"’ cried she, ‘"we shall certainly be there; so you may bring the verses with you, if Miss Anville can wait for them so long."’

‘"I hope, then,"’ returned he, ‘"that you will do me the honour to dance with me?"’

I thanked him, but said I should not be at the assembly.

‘"Not be at the assembly!"’ cried Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"Why, have you, too, letters to write?"’

She looked at me with a significant archness that made me colour; and I hastily answered, ‘"No, indeed, Ma'am!"’

‘"You have not!"’ cried she, yet more drily, ‘"then pray, my dear, do you stay at home to help,—or to hinder others?"’

[Page 176] ‘"To do neither, Ma'am,"’ answered I, in much confusion; ‘"so, if you please, I will not stay at home."’

‘"You allow me, then,"’ said Sir Clement, ‘"to hope for the honour of your hand?"’

I only bowed,—for the dread of Mrs. Selwyn's raillery made me not dare to refuse him.

Soon after this, we walked home; Sir Cle­ment accompanied us, and the conversation that passed between Mrs. Selwyn and him was sup­ported in so lively a manner, that I should have been much entertained, had my mind been more at ease: but alas! I could think of nothing but the capricious, the unmeaning appearance which the alteration in my conduct must make in the eyes of Lord Orville! And, much as I wish to avoid him, greatly as I desire to save myself from having my weakness known to him,—yet I can­not endure to incur his ill opinion,—and, unac­quainted as he is with the reasons by which I am actuated, how can he fail contemning a change, to him so unaccountable?

As we entered the garden, he was the first ob­ject we saw. He advanced to meet us, and I could not help observing, that at sight of each other, both he and Sir Clement changed colour.

We went into the parlour, where we found the same party we had left. Mrs. Selwyn presented Sir Clement to Mrs. Beaumont; Lady Louisa and Lord Merton he seemed well acquainted with already.

The conversation was upon the general subjects, of the weather, the company at the Wells, and the news of the day. But Sir Clement, drawing his chair next to mine, took every opportunity of addressing himself to me in particular.

I could not but remark the striking difference of [Page 177] his attention, and that of Lord Orville: the lat­ter has such gentleness of manners, such delicacy of conduct, and an air so respectful, that, when he flatters most, he never distresses, and when he most confers honour, appears to receive it! The former obtrudes his attention, and forces mine; it is so pointed, that it always confuses me, and so public, that it attracts general notice. Indeed I have sometimes thought that he would rather wish, than dislike to have his partiality for me known, as he takes great care to prevent my be­ing spoken to by any body but himself.

When, at length, he went away, Lord Or­ville took his seat, and said with a half-smile, ‘"Shall I call Sir Clement,—or will you call me an usurper, for taking this place?—You make me no answer?—Must I then suppose that Sir Clement—"’

‘"It is little worth your Lordship's while,"’ said I, ‘"to suppose any thing upon so insignificant an occasion."’

‘"Pardon me,"’ cried he,—‘"to me nothing is insignificant in which you are concerned."’

To this I made no answer, neither did he say any thing more, till the ladies retired to dress; and then, when I would have followed them, he stopped me, saying, ‘"One moment, I entreat you!"’

I turned back, and he went on. ‘"I greatly fear that I have been so unfortunate as to offend you; yet so repugnant to my very soul is the idea, that I know not how to suppose it possible I can un­wittingly have done the thing in the world that, designedly, I would most wish to avoid."’

‘"No, indeed, my Lord, you have not!"’ said I.

‘"You sigh,"’ cried he, taking my hand, [Page 178] ‘"would to Heaven I were the sharer of your un­easiness whencesoever it springs! with what earn­estness would I not struggle to alleviate it!—Tell me, my dear Miss Anville,—my new-adopted sis­ter, my sweet and most amiable friend!—tell me, I beseech you, if I can afford you any assistance?"’

‘"None, none, my Lord!"’ cried I, with­drawing my hand, and moving towards the door.

‘"Is it then impossible I can serve you?—per­haps you wish to see Mr. Macartney again?"’

‘"No, my Lord."’ And I held the door open.

‘"I am not, I own, sorry for that. Yet, oh, Miss Anville, there is a question,—there is a con­jecture,—I know not how to mention, because I dread the result!—But I see you are in haste;—perhaps in the evening I may have the honour of a longer conversation.—Yet one thing will you have the goodness to allow me to ask?—Did you, this morning when you went to the Wells,—did you know who you should meet there?"’

‘"Who, my Lord?"’

‘"I beg your pardon a thonsand times for a curiosity so unlicensed,—but I will say no more at present."’

He bowed, expecting me to go,—and then, with quick steps, but a heavy heart, I came to my own room. His question, I am sure, meant Sir Clement Willoughby; and, had I not impos­ed upon upon myself the severe task of avoiding, flying Lord Orville with all my power, I would instantly have satisfied him of my ignorance of Sir Clement's journey. And yet more did I long to say something of the assembly, since I found he depended upon my spending the evening at home.

I did not go down stairs again till the family was assembled to dinner. My dress, I saw, struck Lord Orville with astonishment; and I was my­self [Page 179] so much ashamed of appearing whimsical and unsteady, that I could not look up.

‘"I understood,"’ said Mrs. Beaumont, ‘"that Miss Anville did not go out this evening?"’

‘"Her intention in the morning,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, ‘was to stay at home; but there is a fas­cinating power in an assembly, which upon second thoughts, is not to be resisted."’

‘"The assembly!"’ cried Lord Orville, ‘"are you then going to the assembly?"’

I made no answer; and we all took our places at table.

It was not without difficulty that I contrived to give up my usual seat; but I was determined to adhere to the promise in my yesterday's letter, though I saw that Lord Orville seemed quite con­founded at my visible endeavours to avoid him.

After dinner, we all went into the drawing­room together, as there were no gentlemen to de­tain his Lordship; and then, before I could place myself out of his way, he said, ‘"You are then really going to the assembly?—May I ask if you shall dance?"’

‘"I believe not,—my Lord."’

‘"If I did not fear,"’ continued he, ‘"that you would be tired of the same partner at two follow­ing assemblies, I would give up my letter-writing till to-morrow, and solicit the honour of your hand."’

‘"If I do dance,"’ said I, in great confusion, ‘"I believe I am engaged."’

‘"Engaged!"’ cried he, with earnestness, ‘"May I ask to whom?"’

‘"To—Sir Clement Willoughby, my Lord?"’

He said nothing, but looked very little pleased, and did not address himself to me any more all the [Page 180] afternoon. Oh, Sir!—thus situated, how com­fortless were the feelings of your Evelina!

Early in the evening, with his accustomed assiduity, Sir Clement came to conduct us to the assembly. He soon contrived to seat himself next me, and, in a low voice, paid me so many compliments, that I knew not which way to look.

Lord Orville hardly spoke a word, and his countenance was grave and thoughtful; yet when­ever I raised my eyes, his, I perceived, were di­rected towards me, though instantly, upon meet­ing mine, he looked another way.

In a short time, Sir Clement, taking from his pocket a folded paper, said, almost in a whis­per, ‘"Here, loveliest of women, you will see a faint, a successless attempt, to paint the ob­ject of all my adoration! yet, weak as are the lines for the purpose, I envy beyond expres­sion the happy mortal who has dared make the effort."’

‘"I will look at them,"’ said I, ‘"some other time."’ For, conscious that I was observed by Lord Orville, I could not bear he should see me take a written paper, so privately offered, from Sir Clement. But Sir Clement is an im­practicable man, and I never yet succeeded in any attempt to frustrate whatever he had plan­ned.

‘"No,"’ said he, still in a whisper, ‘"you must take it now, while Lady Louisa is away,"’ (for she and Mrs. Selwyn were gone up stairs to finish their dress,) ‘"as she must by no means see them."’

‘"Indeed,"’ said I, ‘"I have no intention to shew them."’

[Page 181] ‘"But the only way,"’ answered he, ‘"to avoid suspicion, is to take them in her ab­sence. I would have read them aloud myself, but that they are not proper to be seen by any body in this house, yourself and Mrs. Selwyn excepted."’

Then again he presented me the paper, which I now was obliged to take, as I found declin­ing it was vain. But I was sorry that this action should be seen, and the whispering remarked, though the purport of the conversation was left to conjecture.

As I held it in my hand, Sir Clement teaz­ed me to look at it immediately; and told me, that the reason he could not produce the lines publicly, was, that, among the ladies who were mentioned, and supposed to be rejected, was Lady Louisa Larpent. I am much concerned at this circumstance, as I cannot doubt but that it will render me more disagreeable to her than ever, if she should hear of it.

I will now copy the verses, which Sir Clement would not let me rest till I had read.

SEE, last advance, with bashful grace,
Downcast eye, and blushing cheek,
Timid air, and beauteous face,
Anville,—whom the Graces seek.
Though ev'ry beauty is her own,
And though her mind each virtue fills,
Anville,—to her power unknown,
Artless, strikes,—unconscious kills!

I am sure, my dear Sir, you will not won­der that a panegyric such as this, should, in [Page 182] reading, give me the greatest confusion; and, un­fortunately, before I had finished it, the ladies re­turned

‘"What have you there, my dear?"’ said Mrs. Selwyn.

‘"Nothing, Ma'am,"’ said I, hastily solding, and putting it in my pocket.

‘"And has nothing,"’ cried she, ‘"the power of rouge?"’

I made no answer; a deep sigh which escap­ed Lord Orville, at that moment, reached my ears, and gave me sensations—which I dare not mention!

Lord Merton then handed Lady Louisa, and Mrs. Beaumont, to the latter's carriage. Mrs. Selwyn led the way to Sir Clement's, who handed me in after her.

During the ride, I did not once speak; but when I came to the assembly-room, Sir Clement took care that I should not preserve my silence. He asked me immediately to dance; I begged him to excuse me, and seek some other partner. But on the contrary, he told me he was very glad I would sit still, as he had a million of things to say to me.

He then began to tell me how much he had suf­fered from absence; how greatly he was alarmed when he heard I had left town, and how cruelly difficult he had found it to trace me; which, at last, he could only do by sacrificing another week to Captain Mirvan.

‘"And Howard Grove,"’ still continued he, ‘"which, at my first visit, I thought the most delightful spot upon earth, now appeared to be the most dismal; the face of the country seemed al­tered: the walks, which I had thought most pleasant, were now most stupid: Lady Howard, [Page 183] who had appeared a chearful and respectable old lady, now seemed in the common John Trot style of other aged dames: Mrs. Mirvan, whom I had esteemed as an amiable piece of still-life, now became so insipid, that I could hardly keep awake in her company: the daughter too, whom I had regarded as a good-humoured, pretty sort of girl, now seemed too insignificant for no­tice: and as to the Captain, I had always thought him a booby,—but now, he appeared a sa­vage!"’

‘"Indeed, Sir Clement,"’ cried I, angrily, ‘"I will not hear you talk thus of my best friends."’

‘"I beg your pardon,"’ said he, ‘"but the con­trast of my two visits was too striking, not to be mentioned."’

He then asked me what I thought of the verses?

‘"Either,"’ said I, ‘"that they are written iron­ically, or by some madman."’

Such a profusion of compliments ensued, that I was obliged to propose dancing, in my own de­fence. When we stood up, ‘"I intended,"’ said he, ‘"to have discovered the author by his looks; but I find you so much the general load­stone of attention, that my suspicions change their object every moment. Surely you must your­self have some knowledge who he is?"’

I told him, No. But, my dear Sir, I must own to you, I have no doubt but that Mr. Macartney, must be the author; no one else would speak of me so partially; and, indeed, his poetical turn puts it, with me, beyond dis­pute.

He asked me a thousand questions concerning Lord Orville; how long he had been at Bristol? [Page 184] —what time I had spent at Clifton?—whether he rode out every morning?—whether I ever trusted myself in a phaeton?—and a multitude of other enquiries, all made with his usual freedom and impetuosity.

Fortunately, as I much wished to retire early, Lady Louisa makes a point of being among the first who quit the rooms, and therefore we got home in very tolerable time.

Lord Orville's reception of us was grave and cold: far from distinguishing me, as usual, by particular civilities, Lady Louisa herself could not have seen me enter the room with more fri­gid unconcern, nor have more scrupulously a­voided honouring me with any notice. But, chiefly I was struck to see, that he suffered Sir Clement, who stayed supper, to sit between us, without any effort to prevent him, though, till then, he had seemed to be even tenacious of a seat next mine.

This little circumstance affected me more than I can express: yet I endeavoured to re­joice at it, since neglect and indifference from him may be my best friends.—But, alas!—so suddenly, so abruptly to forfeit his attention!—to lose his friendship!—Oh, Sir, these thoughts pierced my soul!—scarce could I keep my seat; for not all my efforts could restrain the tears from trickling down my cheeks: however, as Lord Orville saw them not, (for Sir Clement's head was constantly between us,) I tried to col­lect my spirits, and succeeded so far as to keep my seat with decency, till Sir Clement took leave: and then, not daring to trust my eyes to meet those of Lord Orville, I retired.

I have been writing ever since; for, certain that I could not sleep, I would not go to bed. [Page 185] Tell me, my dearest Sir, if you possibly can, tell me that you approve my change of con­duct,—tell me that my altered behaviour to Lord Orville is right,—that my flying his soci­ety, and avoiding his civilities, are actions which you would have dictated.—Tell me this, and the sacrifices I have made will comfort me in the midst of my regret,—for never, never can I cease to regret that I have lost the friendship of Lord Orville!—Oh, Sir, I have slighted,—have rejected,—have thrown it away!—No matter; it was an honour I merited not to pre­serve, and I now see,—that my mind was une­qual to sustaining it without danger.

Yet, so strong is the desire you have implant­ed in me, to act with uprightness and propriety, that, however the weakness of my heart may distress and afflict me, it will never, I humbly trust, render me wilfully culpable. The wish of doing well governs every other, as far as concerns my conduct,—for am I not your child?—the creature of your own forming?—Yet, oh Sir, friend, parent of my heart!—my feel­ings are all at war with my duties; and, while I most struggle to acquire self-approbation, my peace, my hopes, my happiness,—are lost!

'Tis you alone can compose a mind so cruelly agitated; you, I well know, can feel pity for the weakness to which you are a stranger; and, though you blame the affliction, soothe and com­fort the afflicted.

LETTER XXVII.
Mr. Villars to Evelina.

YOUR last communication, my dearest child, is indeed astonishing; that an acknowledged daughter, and heiress of Sir John Belmont should be at Bristol, and still my Evelina bear the name of Anville, is to me inexplicable; yet the mys­tery of the letter to Lady Howard prepared me to expect something extraordinary upon Sir John Belmont's return to England.

Whoever this young lady may be, it is cer­tain she now takes a place to which you have a right indisputable. An after-marriage I never heard of; yet, supposing such a one to have hap­pened, Miss Evelyn was certainly the first wife, and therefore her daughter must, at least, be en­titled to the name of Belmont.

Either there are circumstances in this affair at present utterly incomprehensible, or else some strange and most atrocious fraud has been prac­tised; which of these two is the case, it now be­hoves us to enquire.

My reluctance to this step, gives way to my conviction of its propriety, since the reputation of your dear, and much-injured mother must now either be fully cleared from blemish, or receive its final and indelible wound.

The public appearance of a daughter of Sir John Belmont will revive the remembrance of Miss Evelyn's story to all who have heard it,—who the mother was, will be universally demanded, [Page 187] —and if any other Lady Belmont shall be named,—the birth of my Evelina will receive a stigma, against which, honour, truth, and in­nocence, may appeal in vain! a stigma which will eternally blast the fair fame of her vir­tuous mother, and cast upon her blameless self, the odium of a title, which not all her purity can rescue from established shame and dis­honour.

No, my dear child, no; I will not quietly suffer the ashes of your mother to be treated with ignominy. Her spotless character shall be justi­fied to the world,—her marriage shall be ac­knowledged, and her child shall bear the name to which she is lawfully entitled.

It is true, that Mrs. Mirvan would conduct this affair with more delicacy than Mrs. Sel­wyn;—yet, perhaps, to save time, is of all considerations, the most important, since the longer this mystery is suffered to continue, the more difficult my be rendered its expla­nation. The sooner, therefore, my dear, you can set out for town, the less formidable will be your task.

Let not your timidity, my dear love, depress your spirits: I shall, indeed, tremble for you, at a meeting so singular, and so affecting, yet there can be no doubt of the success of your application:—I enclose a letter from your un­happy mother, written, and reserved purpose­ly, for this occasion: Mrs. Clinton, too, who attended her in her last illness, must accom­pany you to town.—But, without any other certificate of your birth, that which you carry in your countenance, as it could not be effected by artifice, so it cannot admit of the smallest doubt.

[Page 188] And now, my Evelina, committed, at length, to the care of your real parent, receive the fer­vent prayers, wishes, and blessings, of him who so fondly adopted you!

May'st thou, oh child of my bosom! may'st thou, in this change of situation, experience no change of disposition! but receive with humility, and support with meekness, the elevation to which thou art rising! May thy manners, language, and deportment, all evince that modest equanimi­ty, and chearful gratitude, which not merely de­serve, but dignify prosperity! May'st thou, to the last moments of an unblemished life, retain thy genuine simplicity, thy singleness of heart, thy guileless sincerity! and may'st thou, stranger to ostentation, and superior to insolence, with true greatness of soul, shine forth conspicuous on­ly in beneficence!

ARTHUR VILLARS.

LETTER XXVIII.
Lady Belmont to Sir John Belmont.

[Inclosed in the preceding Letter.]

IN the firm hope that the moment of anguish which approaches will prove the period of my suf­ferrings, once more I address myself to Sir John Belmont, in behalf of the child, who, if it sur­vives its mother, will hereafter be the bearer of this letter.

[Page 189] Yet in what terms,—oh most cruel of men!—can the lost Caroline address you, and not ad­dress you in vain? Oh deaf to the voice of com­passion,—deaf to the sting of truth,—deaf to every tie of honour,—say, in what terms may the lost Caroline address you, and not address you in vain?

Shall I call you by the loved, the respected ti­tle of husband?—No, you disclaim it!—the fa­ther of my infant?—No, you doom it to infamy!—the lover who rescued me from a forced mar­riage?—No, you have yourself betrayed me!—the friend from whom I hoped succour and protec­tion?—No, you have consigned me to misery and destruction!

Oh hardened against every plea of justice, re­morse, or pity! how, and in what manner, may I hope to move thee? Is there one method I have left untried? remains there one resource unessayed? No; I have exhausted all the bit­terness of reproach, and drained every sluice of compassion!

Hopeless, and almost desperate, twenty times have I flung away my pen;—but the feelings of a mother, a mother agonizing for the fate of her child, again animating my courage, as often I have resumed it.

Perhaps when I am no more, when the measure of my woes is compleated, and the still, silent, un­reproaching dust has received my sad remains,—then, perhaps, when accusation is no longer to be feared, nor detection to be dreaded, the voice of equity, and the cry of nature may be heard.

Listen, oh Belmont, to their dictates! repro­bate not your child, though you have reprobated its mother. The evils that are past, perhaps, [Page 190] when too late, you may wish to recall; the young creature you have persecuted, perhaps, when too late, you may regret that you have destroyed;—you may think with horror of the deceptions you have practised, and the pangs of remorse may follow me to the tomb:—oh Belmont, all my re­sentment softens into pity at the thought! what will become of thee, good Heaven, when with the eye of penitence, thou reviewest thy past con­duct!

Hear, then, the solemn, the last address with which the unhappy Caroline will importune thee.

If, when the time of thy contrition arrives,—for arrive it must!—when the sense of thy trea­chery shall rob thee of almost every other, if then thy tortured heart shall sigh to expiate thy guilt,—mark the conditions upon which I leave thee my forgiveness.

Thou know'st I am thy wife!—clear, then to the world the reputation thou hast sullied, and re­ceive as thy lawful successor the child who will present thee this my dying request.

The worthiest, the most benevolent, the best of men, to whose consoling kindness I owe the little tranquility I have been able to preserve, has plighted me his faith that, upon no other conditi­ons, he will part with his helpless charge.

Should'st thou, in the features of this deserted innocent, trace the resemblance of the wretched Caroline,—should its face bear the marks of its birth, and revive in thy memory the image of its mother, wilt thou not, Belmont, wilt thou not therefore renounce it?—Oh babe of my fondest affection! for whom already I experience all the tenderness of maternal pity!—look not like thy unfortunate mother,—left the parent whom the [Page 191] hand of death may spare, shall be snatched from thee by the more cruel means of unnatural anti­pathy!

I can write no more. The small share of se­renity I have painfully acquired, will not bear the shock of the dreadful ideas that crowd upon me.

Adieu,—for ever!—

Yet oh!—shall I not, in this last farewell, which thou wilt not read till every stormy passion is extinct,—and the kind grave has embosomed all my sorrows,—shall I not offer to the man once so dear to me, a ray of consolation to those afflictions he has in reserve? Suffer me, then, to tell thee, that my pity far exceeds my indignation,—that I will pray for thee in my last moments,—and that the recollection of the love I once bore thee, shall swallow up every other!

Once more, adieu!

CAROLINE BELMONT.

LETTER XXIX.
Evelina to the Rev. Mr. Villars.

THIS morning I saw from my window, that Lord Orville was walking in the garden; but I would not go down stairs till breakfast was ready: and then, he paid me his compliments almost as coldly as Lady Louisa paid her's.

[Page 192] I took my usual place, and Mrs. Beaumont, Lady Louisa, and Mrs. Selwyn, entered into their usual conversation.—Not so your Evelina: disre­garded, silent, and melancholy, she sat like a cy­pher, whom to nobody belonging, by nobody was noticed.

Ill brooking such a situation, and unable to sup­port the neglect of Lord Orville, the moment breakfast was over, I left the room; and was going up stairs, when, very unpleasantly, I was stopped by Sir Clement Willoughby, who, flying into the hall, prevented my proceeding.

He enquired very particularly after my health, and entreated me to return into the parlour. Un­willingly I consented, but thought any thing pre­ferable to continuing alone with him; and he would neither leave me, nor suffer me to pass on. Yet, in returning, I felt not a little ashamed of appearing thus to take the visit of Sir Cle­ment to myself. And, indeed, he took pains, by his manner of addressing me, to give it that air.

He stayed, I believe, two hours; nor would he, perhaps, even then have gone, had not Mrs. Beaumont broken up the party, by proposing an airing in her coach. Lady Louisa consented to accompany her: but Mrs. Selwyn, when applied to, said, ‘"If my Lord, or Sir Clement, will join us, I shall be happy to make one;—but really, a trio of females will be nervous to the last degree."’

Sir Clement readily agreed to attend them; indeed, he makes it his evident study to court the favour of Mrs. Beaumont. Lord Orville excused himself from going out; and I retired to my own room. What he did with himself I know not, for I would not go down stairs till din­ner [Page 193] was ready: his coldness, though my own change of behaviour has occasioned it, so cruelly depresses my spirits, that I know not how to sup­port myself in his presence.

At dinner, I found Sir Clement again of the party. Indeed he manages every thing his own way; for Mrs. Beaumont, though by no means easy to please, seems quite at his disposal.

The dinner, the afternoon, and the evening, were to me the most irksome imaginable: I was tormented by the assiduity of Sir Clement, who not only took, but made opportunities of speaking to me,—and I was hurt,—oh how inexpressibly hurt!—that Lord Orville not only forbore, as hi­therto, seeking, he even neglected all occasions of talking with me!

I begin to think, my dear Sir, that the sudden alteration in my behaviour was ill judged and im­proper; for, as I had received no offence, as the cause of the change was upon my account, not his, I should not have assumed, so abruptly, a reserve for which I dared assign no reason,—nor have shun­ned his presence so obviously, without considering the strange appearance of such a conduct.

Alas, my dearest Sir, that my reflections should always be too late to serve me! dearly, indeed, do I purchase experience! and much I fear I shall suffer yet more severely, from the heedless indis­cretion of my temper, ere I attain that prudence and consideration, which, by foreseeing distant consequences, may rule and direct in present ex­igencies.

Yesterday morning, every body rode out, ex­cept Mrs. Selwyn and myself: and we two sat for some time together in her room; but as soon as I [Page 194] could, I quitted her, to saunter in the garden; for she diverts herself so unmercifully with rally­ing me, either upon my gravity,—or concerning Lord Orville,—that I dread having any conversa­tion with her.

Here I believe I spent an hour by myself; when, hearing the garden-gate open, I went into an arbour at the end of a long walk, where ruminating, very unpleasantly, upon my future prospects, I remained quietly seated but a few minutes, ere I was interrupted by the appearance of Sir Clement Willoughby.

I started; and would have left the arbour, but he prevented me. Indeed I am almost certain he had heard in the house where I was, as it is not, otherwise, probable he would have strolled down the garden alone.

‘"Stop, stop,"’ cried he, ‘"loveliest and most beloved of women, stop and hear me!"’

Then, making me keep my place, he sat down by me, and would have taken my hand; but I drew it back, and said I could not stay.

‘"Can you, then,"’ cried he, ‘"refuse me even the smallest gratification, though, but yes­terday, I almost suffered martyrdom for the plea­sure of seeing you?"’

‘"Martyrdom! Sir Clement."’

‘"Yes, beauteous Insensible! martyrdom: for did I not compel myself to be immured in a car­riage, the tedious length of a whole morning, with the three most fatiguing women in Eng­land?"’

‘"Upon my word, the Ladies are extremely obliged to you."’

‘"O,"’ returned he, ‘they have, every one of them, so copious a share of their own personal esteem, that they have no right to repine at the [Page 195] failure of it in the world; and, indeed, they will themselves be the last to discover it."’

‘"How little,"’ cried I, ‘"are those Ladies aware of such severity from you!"’

‘"They are guarded,"’ answered he, ‘"so happily and so securely by their own conceit, that they are not aware of it from any body. Oh Miss Anville, to be torn away from you, in order to be shut up with them,—is there a human being, except your cruel self, could forbear to pity me?"’

‘"I believe, Sir Clement, however hardly you may choose to judge of them, your situation, by the world in general would rather have been envi­ed, than pitied."’

‘"The world in general,"’ answered he, ‘"has the same opinion of them that I have myself: Mrs. Beaumont is every where laughed at, Lady Louisa ridiculed, and Mrs Selwyn hated."’

‘"Good God, Sir Clement, what cruel strength of words do you use!"’

‘"It is you, my angel, are to blame, since your perfections have rendered their faults so glaring. I protest to you, during our whole ride, I thought the carriage drawn by snails. The absurd pride of Mrs. Beaumont, and the respect she ex­acts, are at once insufferable and stupifying; had I never before been in her company, I should have concluded that this had been her first airing from the herald's-office,—and wished her nothing worse than that it might also be the last. I assure you, that but for gaining the freedom of her house, I would fly her as I would plague, pestilence, and famine. Mrs. Selwyn, indeed, afforded some relief from this formality, but the un­bounded licence of her tongue—"’

[Page 196] ‘"O Sir Clement, do you object to that?"’

‘"Yes, my sweet reproacher, in a woman I do; in a woman I think it intolerable. She has wit, I acknowledge, and more understanding than half her sex put together; but she keeps alive a per­petual expectation of satire, that spreads a gene­ral uneasiness among all who are in her presence; and she talks so much, that even the best things she says, weary the attention. As to the little Louisa, 'tis such a pretty piece of languor, that 'tis almost cruel to speak rationally about her,—else I should say, she is a mere compound of af­fectation, impertinence, and airs."’

‘"I am quite amazed,"’ said I, ‘"that, with such opinions, you can behave to them all with so much attention and civility."’

‘"Civility! my angel,—why, I could worship, could adore them, only to procure myself a mo­ment of your conversation! Have you not seen me pay my court to the gross Captain Mirvan, and the virago Madame Duval? Were it possible that a creature so horrid could be formed, as to partake of the worst qualities of all these charac­ters,—a creature who should have the haughtiness of Mrs. Beaumont, the brutality of Captain Mir­van, the self-conceit of Mrs. Selwyn, the affecta­tion of Lady Louisa, and the vulgarity of Ma­dame Duval,—even to such a monster as that, I would pay homage, and pour forth adulation, on­ly to obtain one word, one look from my adored Miss Anville!"’

‘"Sir Clement,"’ said I, ‘"you are greatly mistaken if you suppose such duplicity of charac­ter recommends you to my good opinion. But I must take this opportunity of begging you never more to talk to me in this strain."’

[Page 197] ‘"Oh Miss Anville, your reproofs, your cold­ness, pierce me to the soul! look upon me with less rigour, and make me what you please;—you shall govern and direct all my actions,—you shall new-form, new-model me:—I will not have even a wish but of your suggestion;—only deign to look upon me with pity,—if not with fa­vour!"’

‘"Suffer me, Sir,"’ said I, very gravely, ‘"to make use of this occasion to put a final conclusion to such expressions. I entreat you never again to address me in a language so flighty, and so unwel­come. You have already given me great uneasi­ness; and I must frankly assure you, that if you do not desire to banish me from wherever you are, you will adopt a very different style and conduct in future."’

I then rose, and was going, but he flung him­self at my feet to prevent me, exclaiming, in a most passionate manner, ‘"Good God! Miss An­ville, what do you say?—is it, can it be possible, that so unmoved, that with such petrifying indif­ference, you can tear from me even the remotest hope?"’

‘"I know not, Sir, said I,"’ endeavouring to disengage myself from him, ‘"what hope you mean, but I am sure I never intended to give you any."’

‘"You distract me!"’ cried he, ‘"I cannot endure such scorn;—I beseech you to have some moderation in your cruelty, lest you make me des­perate:—say, then, that you pity me,—O fairest inexorable! loveliest tyrant!—say, tell me, at least, that you pity me!’

Just then, who should come in sight, as if in­tending to pass by the arbour, but Lord Orville! Good Heaven, how did I start! and he, the mo­ment [Page 198] he saw me, turned pale, and was hastily retir­ing;—but I called out, ‘"Lord Orville!—Sir Clement release me,—let go my hand!"’

Sir Clement, in some confusion, suddenly rose, but still grasped my hand. Lord Orville, who had turned back, was again walking away; but, still struggling to disengage myself, I called out, ‘"Pray, pray, my Lord, don't go!—Sir Clement, I insist upon your releasing me!"’

Lord Orville then, hastily approaching us, said, with great spirit, ‘"Sir Clement, you cannot wish to detain Miss Anville by force!"’

‘"Neither, my Lord,"’ cried Sir Clement, proudly, ‘"do I request the honour of your Lord­ship's interference."’

However, he let go my hand, and I immedi­ately ran into the house.

I was now frightened to death, lest Sir Cle­ment's mortified pride should provoke him to af­front Lord Orville: I therefore ran hastily to Mrs. Selwyn, and entreated her, in a manner hardly to be understood, to walk towards the ar­bour. She asked no questions, for she is quick as lightening in taking a hint, but instantly hastened into the garden.

Imagine, my dear Sir, how wretched I must be till I saw her return! scarce could I restrain myself from running back; however, I checked my impatience, and waited, though in agonies, till she came.

And, now, my dear Sir, I have a conversation to write, the most interesting to me that I ever heard. The comments and questions with which Mrs. Selwyn interrupted her account, I shall not mention; for they are such as you may very easily suppose.

[Page 199] Lord Orville and Sir Clement were both seated very quietly in the arbour; and Mrs. Selwyn, standing still, as soon as she was within a few yards of them, heard Sir Clement say, ‘"Your question, my Lord, alarms me, and I can by no means answer it, unless you will allow me to pro­pose another."’

‘"Undoubtedly, Sir."’

‘"You ask me, my Lord, what are my inten­tions?—I should be very happy to be satisfied as to your Lordship's."’

‘"I have never, Sir, professed any."’

Here they were both, for a few moments, si­lent; and then Sir Clement said, ‘"To what, my Lord, must I, then, impute your desire of knowing mine?"’

‘"To an unaffected interest in Miss Anville's welfare."’

‘"Such an interest,"’ said Sir Clement, drily, ‘"is, indeed, very generous; but, except in a father,—a brother,—or a lover—"’

‘"Sir Clement,’ interrupted his Lordship, ‘"I know your inferrence; and I acknowledge I have not the right of enquiry which any of those three titles bestow; and yet I confess the warmest wish­es to serve her, and to see her happy. Will you then, excuse me, if I take the liberty to repeat my question?"’

‘"Yes, if your Lordship will excuse my re­peating, that I think it a rather extraordinary one."’

‘"It may be so,"’ said Lord Orville; ‘"but this young lady seems to be peculiarly situated; she is very young, very inexperienced, yet ap­pears to be left totally to her own direction. She does not, I believe, see the dangers to which she [Page 200] is exposed, and I will own to you, I feel a strong desire to point them out."’

‘"I don't rightly understand your Lordship,—but I think you cannot mean to prejudice her a­gainst me?"’

‘"Her sentiments of you, Sir, are as much un­known to me, as your intentions towards her.—Perhaps, were I acquainted with either, my offi­ciousness would be at an end: but I presume not to ask upon what terms—"’

Here he stopped; and Sir Clement said, ‘"You know, my Lord, I am not given to despair; I am by no means such a puppy as to tell you I am upon sure ground, however, perseverance—"’

‘"You are then, Sir, determined to perse­vere?"’

‘"I am, my Lord."’

‘"Pardon me, then, Sir Clement, if I speak to you with freedom. This young lady, though she seems alone, and, in some measure, unpro­tected, is not entirely without friends; she has been extremely well educated, and accustomed to good company; she has a natural love of virtue, and a mind that might adorn any station, howe­ver exalted: is such a young lady, Sir Clement, a proper object to trifle with?—for your princi­ples, excuse me, Sir, are well known."’

‘"As to that, my Lord, let Miss Anville look to herself; she has an excellent understanding, and needs no counsellor."’

‘"Her understanding is, indeed, excellent;—but she is too young for suspicion, and has an artlessness of disposition, that I never saw equalled."’

‘"My Lord,"’ cried Sir Clement, warmly, ‘"your praises make me doubt your disinterest­edness, and there exists not the man who I would [Page 201] so unwillingly have for a rival as yourself. But you must give me leave to say, you have greatly de­ceived me in regard to this affair."’

‘"How so, Sir?"’ cried Lord Orville, with equal warmth.

‘"You were pleased, my Lord,"’ answered Sir Clement, ‘"upon our first conversation con­cerning this young lady, to speak of her in terms by no means suited to your present encomiums; you said, she was a poor, weak, ignorant girl; and I had great reason to believe, you had a most contemptuous opinion of her."’

‘"It is very true,"’ said Lord Orville, ‘"that "I did not, at our first acquaintance, do justice to the merit of Miss Anville; but I knew not, then, how new she was to the world; at present however, I am convinced, that whatever might ap­pear strange in her behaviour, was simply the ef­fect of inexperience, timidity, and a retired edu­cation; for I find her informed, sensible, and intelligent. She is not, indeed, like most modern young ladies, to be known in half an hour; her modest worth, and fearful excellence, require both time and encouragement to shew themselves. She does not, beautiful as she is, seize the soul by surprize, but, with more dangerous fascination, she steals it almost imperceptibly."’

‘"Enough, my Lord,"’ cried Sir Clement, ‘"your solicitude for her welfare is now suffici­ently explained."’

‘"My friendship and esteem,"’ returned Lord Orville, ‘"I do not wish to disguise; but, assure yourself, Sir Clement, I should not have troubled you upon this subject, had Miss Anville and I ever conversed but as friends. However, since you do not chuse to avow your intentions, we must drop the subject."’

[Page 202] ‘"My intentions,"’ cried he, ‘"I will frankly own, are hardly known to myself. I think Miss Anville the loveliest of her sex, and were I a marrying man, she, of all the women I have seen, I would fix upon for a wife: but, I believe, that not even the philosophy of your Lordship, would recommend to me a connection of that sort, with a girl of obscure birth, whose only dowry is her beauty; and who is evidently in a state of de­pendency."’

‘"Sir Clement,"’ cried Lord Orville, with some heat, ‘"we will discuss this point no further; we are both free agents, and must act for our­selves."’

Here Mrs. Selwyn, fearing a surprise, and, finding my apprehensions of danger were ground­less, retired hastily into another walk, and soon after came to give me this account.

Good Heaven, what a man is this Sir Clement! so designing, though so easy; so deliberately art­ful, though so flighty! Greatly, however, is he mistaken, all confident as he seems, for the girl, obscure, poor, dependent as she is, far from wish­ing the honour of his alliance, would, not only now, but always have rejected it.

As to Lord Orville,—but I will not trust my pen to mention him,—tell me, my dear Sir, what you think of him?—tell me if he is not the no­blest of men?—and if you can either wonder at, or blame my admiration?

The idea of being seen by either party, im­mediately after so singular a conversation, was both awkward and distressing to me; but I was obliged to appear at dinner. Sir Clement, I saw was absent and uneasy; he watched me, he watch­ed Lord Orville, and was evidently disturbed in his mind. Whenever he spoke to me, I turned [Page 203] from him with undisguised disdain, for I am too much irritated against him, to bear with his ill­meant assiduities any longer.

But, not once,—not a moment did I dare meet the eyes of Lord Orville! All consciousness my­self, I dreaded his penetration, and directed mine every way—but towards his. The rest of the day, I never quitted Mrs. Selwyn.

Adieu, my dear Sir: to-morrow I expect your directions whether I am to return to Berry Hill, or once more visit London.

LETTER XXX.
Evelina in continuation.

AND now, my dearest Sir, if the perturba­tion of my spirits will allow me, I will finish my last letter from Clifton Hill.

This morning, though I did not go down stairs early, I was the only person in the parlour when Lord Orville entered it. I felt no small confusion at seeing him alone, after having so long and successfully avoided such a meeting. As soon as the usual compliments were over, I would have left the room, but he stopped me by saying, ‘"If I disturb you, Miss Anville, I am gone."’

‘"My Lord,"’ said I, rather embarrassed, ‘"I was just going."’

‘"I flattered myself,"’ cried he, ‘"I should have had a moment's conversation with you."’

[Page 204] I then turned back; and he seemed himself in some perplexity: but after a short pause, ‘"You are very good,"’ said he, ‘"to indulge my re­quest; I have, indeed, for some time past, most ardently desired an opportunity of speaking to you."’

Again he paused; but I said nothing, so he went on.

‘"You allowed me, Madam, a few days since, you allowed me to lay claim to your friendship,—to interest myself in your concerns,—to call you by the affectionate title of sister,—and the ho­nour you did me, no man could have been more sensible of; I am ignorant, therefore, how I have been so unfortunate as to forfeit it:—but at present, all is changed! you fly me,—your averted eye shuns to meet mine, and you sedulous­ly avoid my conversation."’

I was extremely disconcerted at this grave, and but too just accusation, and I am sure I must look very simple;—but I made no answer.

‘"You will not, I hope,"’ continued he, ‘"con­demn me unheard; if there is any thing I have done,—or any thing I have neglected, tell me, I beseech you, what, and it shall be the whole study of my thoughts how to deserve your par­don."’

‘"Oh, my Lord,"’ cried I, penetrated at once with shame and gratitude, ‘"your too, too great politeness oppresses me!—you have done nothing,—I have never dreamt of offence;—if there is any pardon to be asked, it is rather for me, than for you, to ask it."’

‘"You are all sweetness and condescension!"’ cried he, ‘"and I flatter myself, you will again allow me to claim those titles, which I find my­self so unable to forego. Yet, occupied as I am, [Page 205] with an idea that gives me the severest uneasiness, I hope you will not think me impertinent, if I still solicit, still entreat, nay implore you tell me, to what cause your late sudden, and to me most painful reserve, was owing?"’

‘"Indeed, my Lord,"’ said I, stammering, ‘"I dont,—I can't,—indeed, my Lord,—"’

‘"I am sorry to distress you,"’ said he, ‘"and ashamed to be so urgent,—yet I know not how to be satisfied while in ignorance,—and the time when the change happened, makes me apprehend—may I, Miss Anville, tell you what it makes me apprehend?"’

‘"Certainly, my Lord."’

‘"Tell me, then,"’—and pardon a question most essentially important to me;—Had, or had not, Sir Clement Willoughby, any share in caus­ing your inquietude?

‘"No, my Lord,"’ answered I, with firmness, ‘"none in the world."’

‘"A thousand, thousand thanks!"’ cried he: ‘"you have relieved me from a weight of con­jecture which I supported very painfully. But one thing more; is it, in any measure, to Sir Clement that I may attribute the alteration in your behaviour to myself, which, I could not but observe, began the very day of his arrival at the Hotwells?"’

‘"To Sir Clement, my Lord,"’ said I, ‘"at­tribute nothing. He is the last man in the world who would have any influence over my conduct."’

‘"And will you, then, restore to me that share of confidence and favour with which you honour­ed me before he came?"’

Just then, to my great relief,—for I knew not what to say,—Mrs. Beaumont opened the door, [Page 206] and, in a few minutes, we went to breakfast.

Lord Orville was all gaiety; never did I see him more lively or more agreeable. Very soon after, Sir Clement Willoughby called to pay his respects, he said, to Mrs. Beaumont. I then came to my own roon, where, indulging my re­flections, which now soothed, and now alarmed me, I remained very quietly, till I received your most kind letter.

Oh, Sir, how sweet are the prayers you offer for your Evelina! how grateful to her are the blessings you pour upon her head!—You commit me to my real parent.—Ah, Guardian, Friend, Protector of my youth!—by whom my helpless infancy was cherished, my mind formed, my ve­ry life preserved,—you are the parent my heart acknowledges, and to you do I vow eternal duty, gratitude, and affection.

I look forward to the approaching interview with more fear than hope; but important as is this subject, I am, just now, wholly engross­ed with another, which I must hasten to com­municate.

I immediately acquainted Mrs. Selwyn with the purport of your letter. She was charmed to find your opinion agreed with her own, and settled that we should go to town to-morrow morning. And a chaise i [...] actually ordered to be here by one o'clock.

She then desired me to pack up my cloaths; and said she must go, herself, to make speeches, and tell lies to Mrs. Beaumont.

When I went down stairs to dinner, Lord Or­ville, who was still in excellent spirits, reproached me for secluding myself so much from the com­pany. He sat next me,—he would sit next me,—at table; and he might, I am sure, repeat what [Page 207] heonce said of me before, that he almost exhausted himself in fruitless endeavours to entertain me;—for, indeed, I was not to be entertained: I was totally spiritless and dejected; the idea of the approaching meeting,—and oh Sir, the idea of the approaching parting,—gave a heaviness to my heart, that I could neither conquer nor repress. I even regretted the half explanation that had passed, and wished Lord Orville had support­ed his own reserve, and suffered me to support mine.

However, when, during dinner, Mrs. Beau­mont spoke of our journey, my gravity was no longer singular; a cloud instantly overspread the countenance of Lord Orville, and he became near­ly as thoughtful and as silent as myself.

We all went together to the drawing-room. After a short and unentertaining conversation, Mrs. Selwyn said she must prepare for her jour­ney, and begged me to see for some books she had left in the parlour.

And here, while I was looking for them, I was followed by Lord Orville. He shut the door after he came in, and approaching me with a look of great anxiety, said, ‘"Is this true, Miss Anville, are you going?"’

‘"I believe so, my Lord,"’ said I, still looking for the books.

‘"So suddenly, so unexpectedly must I lose you?"’

‘"No great loss, my Lord,"’ cried I, endea­vouring to speak chearfully.

‘"Is it possible,"’ said he, gravely, ‘"Miss An­ville can doubt my sincerity?"’

‘"I can't imagine,"’ cried I, ‘"what Mrs. Sel­wyn has done with these books."’

[Page 208] ‘"Would to Heaven,"’ continued he, ‘"I might flatter myself you would allow me to prove it?"’

‘"I must run up stairs,"’ cried I, greatly confused, ‘"and ask what she has done with them."’

‘"You are going, then,"’ cried he, taking my hand, ‘"and you give me not the smallest hope of your return!—will you not, then, my too lovely friend!—will you not, at least, teach me, with fortitude like your own, to support your ab­sence?"’

‘"My Lord,"’ cried I, endeavouring to disen­gage my hand, ‘"pray let me go!"’

‘"I will,"’ cried he, to my inexpressible con­fusion, dropping on one knee, ‘"if you wish to leave me!"’

‘"Oh, my Lord,"’ exclaimed I, ‘"rise, I beseech you, rise!—such a posture to me!—surely your Lordship is not so cruel as to mock me!"’

‘"Mock you!"’ repeated he earnestly, ‘"no, I revere you! I esteem and I admire you above all human beings!—you are the friend to whom my soul is attached as to its better half! you are the most amiable, the most perfect of women! and you are dearer to me than language has the power of telling!"’

I attempt not to describe my sensations at that moment; I scarce breathed; I doubted if I ex­isted,—the blood forsook my cheeks, and my feet refused to sustain me: Lord Orville, hastily rising, supported me to a chair, upon which I sunk, almost lifeless.

For a few minutes, we neither of us spoke; and then, seeing me recover, Lord Orville, though in terms hardly articulate, entreated my pardon [Page 209] for his abruptness. The moment my strength re­turned, I attempted to rise, but he would not per­mit me.

I cannot write the scene that followed, though every word is engraven on my heart: but his protestations, his expressions, were too flattering for repetition: nor would he, in spite of my re­peated efforts to leave him, suffer me to escape;—in short, my dear Sir, I was not proof against his solicitations—and he drew from me the most sacred secret of my heart!

I know not how long we were together, but Lord Orville was upon his knees, when the door was opened by Mrs. Selwyn! To tell you, Sir, the shame with which I was overwhelmed, would be impossible;—I snatched my hand from Lord Orville,—he, too, started and rose, and Mrs. Selwyn, for some instants, stood facing us both in silence.

At last, ‘"My Lord,"’ said she, sarcastically, ‘"have you been so good as to help Miss Anville to look for my books?"’

‘"Yes, Madam,"’ said he, attempting to ral­ly, ‘"and I hope we shall soon be able to find them."’

‘"Your Lordship is extremely kind,"’ said she, drily, ‘"but I can by no means consent to take up any more of your time."’ Then looking on the window-seat, she presently found the books, and added, ‘"Come, here are just three, and so, like the servants in the Drummer, this important affair may give employment to us all."’ She then presented one to Lord Orville, another to me, and taking a third herself, with a most provoking look, she left the room.

I would instantly have followed her; but Lord Orville, who could not help laughing, begged me [Page 210] to stay a minute, as he had many important mat­ters to discuss.

‘"No, indeed, my Lord, I cannot,—perhaps I have already stayed too long."’

‘"Does Miss Anville so soon repent her good­ness?"’

‘"I scarce know what I do, my Lord,—I am quite bewildered!"’

‘"One hour's conversation,"’ cried he, ‘"will I hope compose your spirits, and confirm my hap­piness. When, then, may I hope to see you alone?—shall you walk in the garden to-morrow before breakfast?"’

‘"No, no, my Lord; you must not, a se­cond time, reproach me with making an appoint­ment."’

‘"Do you, then,"’ said he, laughing, ‘"re­serve that honour only for Mr. Macartney?"’

‘"Mr. Macartney,"’ said I, ‘"is poor, and thinks himself obliged to me; otherwise—"’

‘"Poverty,"’ cried he, ‘"I will not plead; but if being obliged to you has any weight, who shall dispute my title to an appointment?"’

‘"My Lord, I can stay no longer,—Mrs. Sel­wyn will lose all patience."’

‘"Deprive her not of the pleasure of her con­jectures;—but, tell me, are you under Mrs. Sel­wyn's care?"’

‘"Only for the present, my Lord."’

‘"Not a few are the questions I have to ask Miss Anville: among them, the most important is, whether she depends wholly on herself, or whether there is any other person for whose inte­rest I must solicit?"’

‘"I hardly know, my Lord, I hardly know my­self to whom I most belong!’

[Page 211] ‘"Suffer, suffer me then,"’ cried he, with warmth, ‘"to hasten the time when that shall no longer admit a doubt!—when your grateful Orville may call you all his own!"’

At length, but with difficulty, I broke from him. I went, however, to my own room, for I was too much agitated to follow Mrs. Selwyn. Good God, my dear Sir, what a scene! surely the meeting for which I shall prepare to-morrow, cannot so greatly affect me! To be loved by Lord Orville,—to be the honoured choice of his noble heart,—my happiness seemed too infinite to be borne, and I wept, even bitterly I wept, from the excess of joy which over-powered me.

In this state of almost painful felicity, I conti­nued, till I was summoned to tea. When I re­entered the drawing-room, I rejoiced much to find it full of company, as the confusion with which I met Lord Orville was rendered the less observ­able.

Immediately after tea, most of the company played at cards, and then,—and till supper­time, Lord Orville devoted himself wholly to me.

He saw that my eyes were red, and would not let me rest till he had made me confess the cause; and when, though most reluctantly, I had acknowledged my weakness, I could with difficul­ty refrain from weeping again at the gratitude he expressed.

He earnestly desired to know if my journey could not be postponed; and when I said no, en­treated permission to attend me to town.

‘"Oh, my Lord,"’ cried I, ‘"what a re­quest!"’

‘"The sooner,"’ answered he, ‘"I make my devotion to you public, the sooner I may expect, [Page 212] from your delicacy, you will convince the world you encourage no mere danglers."’

‘"You teach me, then, my Lord, the inference I might expect, if I complied."’

‘"And can you wonder I should seek to hasten [...]he happy time, when no scruples, no discretion, will demand our separation? and when the most punctilious delicacy will rather promote, than op­pose, my happiness in attending you?"’

To this I was silent, and he re-urged his re­quest.

‘"My Lord,"’ said I, ‘"you ask what I have no power to grant. This journey will deprive me of all right to act for myself."’

‘"What does Miss Anville mean?"’

‘"I cannot now explain myself; indeed, if I could, the task would be both painful and te­dious."’

‘"O Miss Anville,"’ cried he, ‘"when may I hope to date the period of this mystery? when flatter myself that my promised friend will indeed honour me with her confidence?"’

‘"My Lord,"’ cried I, ‘"I mean not to affect any mystery,—but my affairs are so circum­stanced, that a long and most unhappy story, can alone explain them. However, if a short suspence will give your Lordship any uneasi­ness,—"’

‘"My beloved Miss Anville,"’ cried he eagerly, ‘"pardon my impatience!—You shall tell me no­thing you would wish to conceal,—I will wait your own time for information, and trust to your good­ness for its speed."’

‘"There is nothing, my Lord, I wish to conceal;—to postpone an explanation is all I desire."’

[Page 213] He then requested, that, since I would not al­low him to accompany me to town, I would permit him to write to me, and promise to answer his letters.

A sudden recollection of the two letters which had already passed between us, occurring to me, I hastily answered, ‘"No, indeed, my Lord!—"’

‘"I am extremely sorry,"’ said he, gravely, ‘"that you think me too presumptuous. I must own I had flattered myself that to soften the in­quietude of an absence which seems attended by so many inexplicable circumstances, would not have been to incur your displeasure."’

This seriousness hurt me; and I could not forbear saying, ‘"Can you indeed desire, my Lord, that I should, a second time, expose myself, by an unguarded readiness to write to you?"’

‘"A second time! unguarded readiness!"’ re­peated he; ‘"you amaze me!"’

‘"Has your Lordship then quite forgot the fool­ish letter I was so imprudent as to send you when in town?"’

‘"I have not the least idea,"’ cried he, ‘"of what you mean."’

‘"Why then, my Lord,"’ said I, ‘"we had better let the subject drop."’

‘"Impossible!"’ cried he, ‘"I cannot rest with­out an explanation!"’

And then, he obliged me to speak very openly of both the letters; but, my dear Sir, imagine my surprise, when he assured me, in the most so­lemn manner, that far from having ever written me a single line, he had never received, seen, or heard of my letter!

[Page 214] This subject, which caused mutual astonish­ment and perplexity to us both, entirely engrossed us for the rest of the evening; and he made me promise to shew him the letter I had received in his name to-morrow morning, that he might en­deavour to discover the author.

After supper, the conversation became gene­ral.

And now, my dearest Sir, may I not call for your congratulations upon the events of this day? a day never to be recollected by me but with the most grateful joy! I know how much you are in­clined to think well of Lord Orville, I cannot, therefore, apprehend that my frankness to him will displease you. Perhaps the time is not very distant when your Evelina's choice may receive the sanction of her best friend's judgment and approbation,—which seems now all she has to wish!

In regard to the change in my situation which must first take place, surely I cannot be blamed for what has passed! the partiality of Lord Or­ville must not only reflect honour upon me, but upon all to whom I do, or may belong.

Adieu, most dear Sir. I will write again when I arrive at London.

LETTER XXXI.
Evelina in continuation.

YOU will see, my dear Sir, that I was mista­ken in supposing I should write no more from this [Page 215] place, where my residence, now, seems more un­certain than ever.

This morning, during breakfast, Lord Orville took an opportunity to beg me, in a low voice, to allow him a moment's conversation before I left Clifton; ‘"May I hope,"’ added he, ‘"that you will stroll into the garden after breakfast?"’

I made no answer, but I believe my looks gave no denial; for, indeed, I much wished to be sa­tisfied concerning the letter. The moment, there­fore, that I could quit the parlour I ran up stairs for my calash; but before I reached my room, Mrs. Selwyn called after me, ‘"If you are go­ing to walk, Miss Anville, be so good as to bid Jenny bring down my hat, and I'll accompany you."’

Very much disconcerted, I turned into the draw­ing-room, without making any answer, and there I hoped to wait unseen, till she had otherwise dis­posed of herself. But, in a few minutes, the door opened, and Sir Clement Willoughby en­tered.

Starting at the sight of him, in rising hastily, I let drop the letter which I had brought for Lord Orville's inspection, and, before I could recover it, Sir Clement, springing forward, had it in his hand. He was just presenting it to me, and, at the same time, enquiring after my health, when the signature caught his eye, and he read aloud ‘"Orville."’

I endeavoured, eagerly, to snatch it from him, but he would not permit me, and, holding it fast, in a passionate manner exclaimed, ‘"Good God, Miss Anville, is it possible you can value such a letter as this?"’

The question surprised and confounded me, and I was too much ashamed to answer him; but [Page 216] finding he made an attempt to secure it, I pre­vented him, and vehemently demanded him to re­turn it.

‘"Tell me first,"’ said he, holding it above my reach, ‘"tell me if you have, since, received any more letters from the same person?"’

‘"No, indeed,"’ cried I, ‘"never!"’

‘"And will you, also, sweetest of women, promise that you never will receive any more? Say that, and you will make me the happiest of men."’

‘"Sir Clement,"’ cried I, greatly confused, ‘"pray give me the letter."’

‘"And will you not first satisfy my doubts?—will you not relieve me from the torture of the most distracting suspence?—tell me but that the detested Orville has written to you no more!"’

‘"Sir Clement,"’ cried I, angrily, ‘"you have no right to make any conditions,—so pray give me the letter directly."’

‘"Why such solicitude about this hateful let­ter? can it possibly deserve your eagerness? tell me, with truth, with sincerity tell me; Does it really merit the least anxiety?"’

‘"No matter, Sir,"’ cried I, in great perplex­ity, ‘"the letter is mine, and therefore—"’

‘"I must conclude, then,"’ said he, ‘"that the letter deserves your utmost contempt,—but that the name of Orville is sufficient to make you prize it."’

‘"Sir Clement,"’ cried I, colouring, ‘"you are quite—you are very much—the letter is not—"’

‘"O Miss Anville,"’ cried he, ‘"you blush!—you stammer!—Great Heaven! it is then all as I feared!"’

[Page 217] ‘"I know not,"’ cried I, half frightened, ‘"what you mean; but I beseech you to give me the letter, and to compose yourself."’

‘"The letter,"’ cried he, gnashing his teeth, ‘"you shall never see more. You ought to have burnt it the moment you had read it!"’ And, in an instant, he tore it into a thousand pieces.

Alarmed at a fury so indecently outrageous, I would have run out of the room; but he caught hold of my gown, and cried, ‘"Not yet, not yet must you go! I am but half-mad yet, and you must stay to finish your work. Tell me, there­fore, does Orville know your fatal partiality?—Say yes,"’ added he, trembling with passion, ‘"and I will fly you for ever!"’

‘"For Heaven's sake, Sir Clement,"’ cried I, ‘"release me!—if you do not, you will force me to call for help."’

‘"Call then,"’ cried he, ‘"inexorable and most unfeeling girl; call, if you please, and bid all the world witness your triumph!—but could ten worlds obey your call, I would not part from you till you had answered me. Tell me, then, does Orville know you love him?"’

At any other time, an enquiry so gross would have given me inexpressible confusion; but now, the wildness of his manner terrified me, and I only said, ‘"Whatever you wish to know, Sir Clement, I will tell you another time; but for the present, I entreat you to let me go!"’

‘"Enough,"’ cried he, ‘"I understand you!—the art of Orville has prevailed;—cold, inani­mate, phlegmatic as he is, you have rendered him the most envied of men!—One thing more, and I have done:—Will he marry you?’

What a question! my cheeks glowed with in­dignation, [Page 218] and I felt too proud to make any an­swer.

‘"I see, I see how it is,"’ cried he, after a short pause, ‘"and I find I am undone for ever!"’ Then, letting loose my gown, he put his hand to his forehead, and walked up and down the room in a hasty and agitated manner.

Though now at liberty to go, I had not the courage to leave him: for his evident distress ex­cited all my compassion. And this was our situa­tion, when Lady Louisa, Mr. Coverley, and Mrs. Beaumont, entered the room.

‘"Sir Clement Willoughby,"’ said the latter, ‘"I beg pardon for making you wait so long, but—"’

She had not time for another word; Sir Cle­ment, too much disordered to know or care what he did, snatched up his hat, and brushing hastily past her, flew down stairs, and out of the house.

And with him went my sincerest pity, though I earnestly hope I shall see him no more. But what, my dear Sir, am I to conclude from his strange speeches concerning the letter? does it not seem as if he was himself the author of it? How else should he be so well acquainted with the contempt it me­rits? Neither do I know another human being who could serve any interest by such a deception. I remember too, that just as I had given my own letter to the maid, Sir Clement came into the shop; probably he prevailed upon her, by some bribery, to give it to him, and afterwards, by the same means, to deliver to me an answer of his own writing. Indeed I can in no other manner account for this affair. Oh, Sir Clement, were you not yourself unhappy, I know not how I could pardon an artifice that has caused me so much uneasiness!

[Page 219] His abrupt departure occasioned a kind of gene­ral consternation.

‘"Very extraordinary behaviour this!"’ cried Mrs. Beaumont.

‘"Egad,"’ said Mr. Coverley, ‘"the Baronet has a mind to tip us a touch of the heroicks this morning!’

‘"I declare,"’ cried Lady Louisa, ‘"I never saw any thing so monstrous in my life! it's quite abominable,—I fancy the man's mad;—I'm sure he has given me a shocking fright!"’

Soon after, Mrs. Selwyn came up stairs, with Lord Merton. The former, advancing hastily to me, said, ‘"Miss Anville, have you an alma­nack?"’

‘"Me!—no, Ma'am."’

‘"Who has one, then?"’

‘"Egad,"’ cried Mr. Coverley, ‘"I never bought one in my life; it would make me quite melancholy to have such a time-keeper in my pocket. I would as soon walk all day before an hour-glass."’

‘"You are in the right,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"not to watch time, lest you should be betrayed, unawares, into reflecting how you employ it."’

‘"Egad, Ma'am,"’ cried he, ‘"if Time thought no more of me, than I do of Time, I be­lieve I should bid defiance, for one while to old­age and wrinkles;—for deuce take me if ever I think about it at all."’

‘"Pray, Mr. Coverley,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"why do you think it necessary to tell me this so often?"’

‘"Often!"’ repeated he, ‘"Egad, Madam, I don't know, why I said it now,—but I'm sure I can't recollect that I ever owned as much before."’

[Page 220] ‘"Owned it before!"’ cried she, ‘"why, my dear Sir, you own it all day long; for every word, every look, every action proclaims it."’

I know not if he understood the full severity of her satire, but he only turned off with a laugh: and she then applied to Mr. Lovel, and asked if he had an almanack?

Mr. Lovel, who always looks alarmed when she addresses him, with some hesitation, answer­ed, ‘"I assure you, Ma'am, I have no manner of antipathy to an almanack,—none in the least, I assure you;—I dare say I have four or five."’

‘"Four or five!—pray may I ask what use you make of so many?"’

‘"Use!—really, Ma'am, as to that,—I don't make any particular use of them,—but one must have them, to tell one the day of the month;—I'm sure, else, I should never keep it in my head."’

‘"And does your time pass so smoothly un­marked, that, without an almanack, you could not distinguish one day from another?"’

‘"Really, Ma'am,"’ cried he, colouring, ‘"I don't see any thing so very particular in having a few almanacks; other people have them, I be­lieve, as well as me."’

‘"Don't be offended,"’ cried she, ‘"I have but made a little digression. All I want to know, is the state of the moon,—for if it is at the full I shall be saved a world of conjectures, and know at once to what cause to attribute the inconsisten­cies I have witnessed this morning. In the first place, I heard Lord Orville excuse himself from going out, because he had business of importance to transact at home,—yet have I seen him saunter­ing alone in the garden this half-hour. Miss An­ville, on the other hand, I invited to walk out [Page 221] with me; and, after seeking her every where round the house, I find her quietly seated in the drawing-room. And, but a few minutes since, Sir Clement Willoughby, with even more than his usual politeness, told me he was come to spend the morning here,—when, just now, I met him flying down stairs, as if pursued by the Fu­ries; and, far from repeating his compliments, or making any excuse, he did not even answer a question I asked him, but rushed past me, with the rapidity of a thief from a bailiff!"’

‘"I protest,"’ said Mrs. Beaumont, ‘"I can't think what he meant; such rudeness from a man of any family is quite incomprehensible."’

‘"My Lord,"’ cried Lady Louisa to Lord Mer­ton, ‘"do you know he did the same by me?—I was just going to ask him what was the matter, but he ran past me so quick, that I declare he quite dazzled my eyes. You can't think, my Lord, how he frighted me; I dare say I look as pale—don't I look very pale, my Lord?"’

‘"Your Ladyship,"’ said Mr. Lovel, ‘"so well becomes the lilies, that the roses might blush to see themselves so excelled."’

‘"Pray, Mr. Lovel,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"if the roses should blush, how would you find it out?"’

‘"Egad,"’ cried Mr. Coverley, ‘"I suppose they must blush, as the saying is, like a blue dog,—for they are red already."’

‘"Prithee, Jack,"’ said Lord Merton, ‘"don't you pretend to talk about blushes, that never knew what they were in your life."’

‘"My Lord,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"if experi­ence alone can justify mentioning them, what an admirable treatise upon the subject may we not expect from your Lordship!"’

[Page 222] ‘"O, pray, Ma'am,"’ answered he, ‘"stick to Jack Coverley,—he's your only man; for my part, I confess I have a mortal aversion to argu­ments."’

‘"O fie, my Lord,"’ cried Mrs. Selwyn, ‘a se­nator of the nation! a member of the noblest parliament in the world!—and yet neglect the art of oratory!"’

‘"Why, faith my Lord,"’ said Mr. Lovel, ‘"I think, in general, your House is not much addicted to study; we of the lower House have indubitably most application; and, if I did not speak before a superior power,"’ (bowing low to Lord Merton) ‘I should presume to add, we have likewise the most able speakers."’

‘"Mr. Lovel,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"you de­serve immortality for that discovery! But for this observation, and the confession of Lord Merton, I protest I should have supposed that a peer of the realm, and an able logician, were synonymous terms."’

Lord Merton, turning upon his heel, asked Lady Louisa, if she should take the air before dinner?

‘"Really,"’ answered she, ‘"I don't know;—I'm afraid it's monstrous hot; besides,"’ (put­ting her hand to her forehead) ‘"I a'n't half well; it's quite horrid to have such weak nerves—the least thing in the world discomposes me: I declare, that man's oddness has given me such a shock,—I don't know when I shall recover from it. But I'm a sad weak creature,—don't you think I am, my Lord?"’

‘"O, by no means,"’ answered he, ‘"your Ladyship is merely delicate,—and devil take me if ever I had the least passion for an amazon."’

[Page 223] ‘"I have the honour to be quite of your Lord­ship's opinion,"’ "said Mr. Lovel, looking ma­liciously at Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"for I have an insu­perable aversion to strength, either of body or mind in a female."’

‘"Faith, and so have I,"’ said Mr. Coverley; ‘"for egad I'd as soon see a woman chop wood, as hear her chop logic."’

‘"So would every man in his senses,"’ said Lord Merton; ‘"for a woman wants nothing to recommend her but beauty and good-nature; in every thing else she is either impertinent or unna­tural. For my part, deuce take me if ever I wish to hear a word of sense from a woman as long as live!"’

‘"It has always been agreed,"’ said Mrs Sel­wyn, looking round her with the utmost con­tempt, ‘"that no man ought to be connected with a woman whose understanding is superior to his own. Now I very much fear, that to accommodate all this good company, according to such a rule, would be utterly impracticable, unless we should chuse subjects from Swift's hospital of idiots."’

How many enemies, my dear Sir, does this un­bounded severity excite! Lord Merton, however, only whistled; Mr. Coverley sang; and Mr. Lo­vel, after biting his lips some time, said, ‘"'Pon honour, that lady—if she was not a lady,—I should be half tempted to observe,—that there is something,—in such severity,—that is rather, I must say,—rather—oddish."’

Just then, a servant brought Lady Louisa a note, upon a waiter, which is a ceremony always used to her Ladyship; and I took the opportunity of this interruption to the conversation, to steal out of the room.

[Page 224] I went immediately to the parlour, which I found quite empty; for I did not dare walk in the garden after what Mrs. Selwyn had said.

In a few minutes, a servant announced Mr. Macartney, saying, as he entered the room, that he would acquaint Lord Orville he was there.

Mr. Macartney rejoiced much at finding me alone. He told me he had taken the liberty to enquire for Lord Orville, by way of pretext for coming to the house.

I then very eagerly enquired if he had seen his father.

‘"I have, Madam,"’ said he; ‘"and the ge­nerous compassion you have shewn made me hasten to acquaint you, that upon reading my un­happy mother's letter, he did not hesitate to ac­knowledge me."’

‘Good God,"’ cried I, with no little emotion, ‘"how similar are our circumstances! And did he receive you kindly?"’

‘"I could not, Madam, expect that he would: the cruel transaction that obliged me to fly Paris, was too recent in his memory."’

‘"And,—have you seen the young lady?"’

‘"No, Madam,"’ said he mournfully, ‘"I was forbid her sight."’

‘"Forbid her sight!—and why?"’

‘"Partly, perhaps, from prudence,—and part­ly from the remains of a resentment which will not easily subside. I only requested leave to ac­quaint her with my relationship, and be allowed to call her sister;—but it was denied me!—You have [...] sister, said Sir John, you must forget her existence. Hard and vain command!"’

[Page 225] ‘"You have, you have a sister!"’ cried I, from an impulse of pity which I could not repress, ‘"a sister who is most warmly interested in all your concerns, and who only wants opportunity to ma­nifest her friendship and regard."’

‘"Gracious Heaven!"’ cried he, ‘"what does Miss Anville mean?’

‘"Anville,"’ said I, ‘"is not my real name; Sir John Belmont is my father,—he is your's,—and I am your sister!—You see, therefore, the claim we mutually have to each other's regard; we are not merely bound by the ties of friend­ship, but by those of blood. I feel for you, al­ready, all the affection of a sister,—I felt it, in­deed, before I knew I was one.—Why, my dear brother, do you not speak?—do you hesitate to acknowledge me?"’

‘"I am so lost in astonishment,"’ cried he, ‘"that I know not if I hear right!—"’

‘"I have then found a brother,"’ cried I, holding out my hand, ‘"and he will not own me!"’

‘"Own you!—Oh, Madam,"’ cried he ac­cepting my offered hand, ‘"is it, indeed, possi­ble you can own me?—a poor wretched adven­turer! who so lately had no support but from your generosity?—whom your benevolence snatch­ed from utter destruction?—Can you,—Oh Madam, can you indeed, and without a blush, condescend to own such an outcast for a bro­ther?"’

‘"Oh, forbear, forbear,"’ cried I, ‘"is this language proper for a sister? are we not recipro­cally bound to each other?—Will you not suffer me to expect from you all the good offices in your power?—But tell me, where is our father at present?"’

[Page 226] ‘"At the Hotwell, Madam; he arrived there yesterday morning."’

I would have proceeded with further questions, but the entrance of Lord Orville prevented me. The moment he saw us, he started, and would have retreated; but, drawing my hand from Mr. Macartney's I begged him to come in.

For a few moments we were all silent, and, I believe all in equal confusion. Mr. Macartney, however, recollecting himself, said, ‘"I hope your Lordship will forgive the liberty I have taken in making use of your name?"’

Lord Orville, rather coldly, bowed, but said nothing.

Again we were all silent, and then Mr. Macart­ney took leave.

‘"I fancy,"’ said Lord Orville, when he was gone, ‘"I have shortened Mr. Macartney's visit?"’

‘"No, my Lord, not at all."’

‘"I had presumed,"’ said he, with some hesi­tation, ‘"I should have seen Miss Anville in the garden;—but I knew not she was so much better engaged."’

Before I could answer, a servant came to tell me the chaise was ready, and that Mrs. Selwyn was enquiring for me.

‘"I will wait on her immediately,"’ cried I, and away I was running; but Lord Orville, stopping me, said, with great emotion, ‘"Is it thus, Miss Anville, you leave me?"’

‘"My Lord,"’ cried I, ‘"how can I help it?—perhaps, soon, some better opportunity may offer—"’

‘"Good Heaven!"’ cried he, ‘"do you indeed take me for a Stoic? What better opportunity [Page 227] may I hope for?—is not the chaise come?—are you not going? have you even deigned to tell me whither?"’

‘"My journey, my Lord, will now be de­ferred. Mr. Macartney has brought me intel­ligence which renders it, at present, unneces­sary."’

‘"Mr. Macartney,"’ said he, gravely, ‘"seems to have great influence,—yet he is a very young counsellor."’

‘"Is it possible, my Lord, Mr. Macartney can give you the least uneasiness?"’

‘"My dearest Miss Anville,"’ said he, taking my hand, ‘"I see, and I adore the purity of your mind, superior as it is to all little arts, and all ap­prehensions of suspicion; and I should do myself, as well as you, injustice, if I were capable of har­bouring the smallest doubts of that goodness which makes you mine for ever: nevertheless, pardon me, if I own myself surprised,—nay, alarmed, at these frequent meetings with so young a man as Mr. Macartney."’

‘"My Lord,"’ cried I, eager to clear myself, ‘"Mr. Macartney is my brother!"’

‘"Your brother! you amaze me!—What strange mystery, then, makes his relationship a secret?"’

Just then, Mrs. Selwyn opened the door. ‘"O, you are here!"’ cried she; ‘"Pray is my Lord so kind as to assist you in preparing for your journey,—or in retarding it?"’

‘"I should be most happy,"’ said Lord Or­ville, smiling, ‘"if it were in my power to do the latter."’

I then acquainted her with Mr. Macartney's communication.

[Page 228] She immediately ordered the chaise away, and then took me into her own room, to consider what should be done.

A few minutes sufficed to determine her, and she wrote the following note.

To Sir John Belmont, Bart.

MRS. Selwyn presents her compliments to Sir John Belmont, and, if he is at leisure, will be glad to wait on him this morning, upon business of importance.

She then ordered her man to enquire at the pump room for a direction, and went herself to Mrs. Beaumont to apologise for deferring her journey.

An answer was presently returned, that he would be glad to see her.

She would have had me immediately accom­pany her to the Hotwells; but I entreated her to spare me the distress of so abrupt an introduction, and to pave the way for my reception. She con­sented rather reluctantly, and, attended only by her servant, walked to the Wells.

She was not absent two hours, yet so miserably did time seem to linger, that I thought a thousand accidents had happened, and feared she would ne­ver return. I passed the whole time in my own room, for I was too much agitated even to con­verse with Lord Orville.

The instant that, from my window, I saw her returning, I flew down stairs, and met her in the garden.

We both walked to the arbour.

[Page 229] Her looks, in which disappointment and anger were expressed, presently announced to me the failure of her embassy. Finding that she did not speak, I asked her, in a faultering voice, Whether or not I had a father?

‘"You have not, my dear!"’ said she, ab­ruptly.

‘"Very well, Madam,"’ said I, with tolerable calmness, ‘"let the chaise, then, be ordered again,—I will go to Berry Hill,—and there, I trust, I shall still find one!"’

It was some time ere she could give, or I could hear, the account of her visit; and then she related it in a hasty manner; yet I believe I can recollect every word.

‘"I found Sir John alone. He received me with the utmost politeness. I did not keep him a moment in suspence as to the purport of my visit. But I had no sooner made it known, than, with a supercilious smile, he said, ‘"And have you, Madam, been prevailed upon to revive that ridi­culous old story?"’ Ridiculous, I told him, was a term which he would find no one else do him the favour to make use of, in speaking of the horri­ble actions belonging to the old story he made so light of; ‘"actions,"’ continued I, ‘"which would dye still deeper the black annals of Nero or Cali­gula."’ He attempted in vain to rally, for I pur­sued him with all the severity in my power, and ceased not painting the enormity of his crime, till I stung him to the quick, and, in a voice of passion and impatience, he said, ‘"No more, Madam,—this is not a subject upon which I need a monitor."’ ‘"Make, then,"’ cried I, ‘"the only reparation in your power.—Your daughter is now at Clifton; send for her hither, and, in the face of the world, proclaim the legitimacy [Page 230] of her birth, and clear the reputation of your injured wife."’ ‘"Madam,"’ said he, ‘"you are much mistaken, if you suppose I waited for the honour of this visit, before I did what little jus­tice now depends upon me, to the memory of that unfortunate woman: her daughter has been my care from her infancy; I have taken her into my house; she bears my name, and she will be my sole heiress."’ For some time this assertion appeared so absurd, that I only laughed at it; but at last, he assured me, I had myself been im­posed upon, for that the very woman who at­tended Lady Belmont in her last illness conveyed the child to him while he was in London, before she was a year old. ‘"Unwilling,"’ he added, ‘"at that time to confirm the rumour of my be­ing married, I sent the woman with the child to France; as soon as she was old enough, I put her into a convent, where she has been properly edu­cated; and now I have taken her home, I have acknowledged her for my lawful child, and paid, at length, to the memory of her unhappy mother, a tribute of fame which has made me wish to hide myself hereafter from all the world."’ This whole story sounded so improbable, that I did not scruple to tell him I discredited every word. He then rung his bell, and enquiring if his hair­dresser was come, said he was sorry to leave me, but that, if I would favour him with my compa­ny to-morrow, he would do himself the honour of introducing Miss Belmont to me, instead of troubling me to introduce her to him. I rose in great indignation, and, assuring him I would make his conduct as public as it was infamous, I left the house."’

"Good Heaven, how strange a recital! how incomprehensible an affair! The Miss Belmont, [Page 231] then, who is actually at Bristol, passes for the daughter of my unhappy mother!—passes, in short, for your Evelina! Who she can be or what this tale can mean, I have not any idea.

Mrs. Selwyn soon after left me to my own reflections. Indeed they were not very pleasant. Quietly as I had borne her relation, the mo­ment I was alone I felt most bitterly both the dis­grace and the sorrow of a rejection so cruelly in­explicable.

I know not how long I might have continued in this situation, had I not been awakened from my melancholy reverie by the voice of Lord Or­ville. ‘"May I come in,"’ cried he, ‘"or shall I interrupt you?"’ I was silent, and he seated himself next me.

‘"I fear,"’ he continued, ‘"Miss Anville will think I persecute her; yet so much as I have to say, and so much as I wish to hear, with so few opportunities for either, she cannot wonder,—and I hope she will not be offended,—that I seize with such avidity every moment in my power to converse with her. You are grave,"’ added he, taking my hand; ‘"I hope you do not regret the delay of your journey?—I hope the pleasure it gives to me, will not be a subject of pain to you?—You are silent?—Something, I am sure, has afflicted you:—Would to Heaven I were able to console you!—Would to Heaven I were worthy to participate in your sorrows!"’

My heart was too full to bear this kindness, and I could only answer by my tears. ‘"Good Hea­ven,"’ cried he, ‘"how you alarm me!—My love, my sweet Miss Anville, deny me no longer to be the sharer of your griefs!—tell me, at least, that you have not withdrawn your esteem!—that you do not repent the goodness you have shewn [Page 232] me!—that you still think me the same grate­ful Orville whose heart you have deigned to ac­cept!"’

‘"Oh, my Lord,"’ cried I, ‘"your generosity overpowers me!"’ And I wept like an infant. For now that all my hopes of being acknowledged seemed finally crushed, I felt the nobleness of his disinterested attachment so forcibly, that I could scarce breathe under the weight of gratitude that oppressed me.

He seemed greatly shocked, and in terms the most flattering, the most respectfully tender, he at once soothed my distress, and urged me to tell him its cause.

‘"My Lord,"’ said I, when I was able to speak, ‘"you little know what an outcast you have ho­noured with your choice!—a child of bounty,—an orphan from infancy,—dependent, even for subsistence dependent, upon the kindness of com­passion!—Rejected by my natural friends,—dis­owned for ever by my nearest relation,—Oh, my Lord, so circumstanced, can I deserve the dis­tinction with which you honour me? No, no; I feel the inequality too painfully;—you must leave me, my Lord, you must suffer me to return to obscurity,—and there, in the bosom of my first, best,—my only friend,—I will pour forth all the grief of my heart!—while you, my Lord, must seek elsewhere—"’

I could not proceed; my whole soul recoiled against the charge I would have given, and my voice refused to utter it.

‘"Never!"’ cried he, warmly; ‘"my heart is your's, and I swear to you an attachment eter­nal!—You prepare me, indeed, for a tale of hor­ror, and I am almost breathless with expectation,—but so firm is my conviction, that, whatever [Page 233] are your misfortunes, to have merited them is not of the number, that I feel myself more strongly, more invincibly attached to you than ever!—Tell me but where I may find this noble friend, whose virtues you have already taught me to re­verence,—and I will fly to obtain his consent and intercession,—that henceforward our fates may be indissolubly united,—and, then shall it be the sole study of my life to endeavour to soften your past,—and guard you from future misfor­tunes!"’

I had just raised my eyes, to answer this most generous of men, when the first object they met was Mrs. Selwyn!

‘"So, my dear,"’ cried she, ‘"what, still courting the rural shades!—I thought, ere now, you would have been satiated with this retired seat, and I have been seeking you all over the House. But I now see the only way to meet with you,—is to enquire for Lord Orville. However, don't let me disturb your meditations; you are possibly planning some pastoral dialogue."’

And, with this provoking speech, she walked on.

In the greatest confusion, I was quitting the ar­bour, when Lord Orville said, ‘"permit me to follow Mrs. Selwyn;—it is time to put an end to all impertinent conjectures; will you allow me to speak to her openly?’

I assented in silence; and he left me.

I then went to my own room, where I conti­nued till I was summoned to dinner; after which, Mrs. Selwyn invited me to her's.

The moment she had shut the door, ‘"Your Ladyship,"’ said she, ‘"will, I hope, be seat­ed."’

‘"Ma'am!"’ cried I, staring.

[Page 234] ‘"O the sweet innocent! so you don't know what I mean?—but, my dear, my sole view is to accustom you a little to your dignity elect, lest, when you are addressed by your title, you should look another way, from an apprehension of listening to a discourse not meant for you to hear."’

Having, in this manner, diverted herself with my confusion, till her raillery was almost exhaust­ed, she congratulated me, very seriously, upon the attachment of Lord Orville, and painted to me, in the strongest terms, his disinterested desire of being married to me immediately. She had told him, she said, my whole story; and yet he was willing, nay eager, that our union should take place of any further application to my fami­ly. ‘"Now, my dear,"’ continued she, ‘"I advise you, by all means, to marry him directly; nothing can be more precarious than our success with Sir John; and the young men of this age are not to be trusted with too much time for de­liberation, where their interests are concern­ed."’

‘"Good God, Madam,"’ cried I, ‘"do you think I would hurry Lord Orville?’

‘"Well, do as you will;"’ said she, ‘"luckily you have an excellent subject for Quixotism;—otherwise, this delay might prove your ruin: but Lord Orville is almost as romantic as if he had been born and bred at Berry Hill."’

She then proposed, as no better expedient seemed likely to be suggested, that I should ac­company her at once, in her visit to the Hot-wells to-morrow morning.

The very idea made me tremble; yet she re­presented so strongly the necessity of pursuing this unhappy affair with spirit, or giving it totally up, [Page 235] that, wanting her force of argument, I was al­most obliged to yield to her proposal.

In the evening, we all walked in the garden: and Lord Orville, who never quitted my side, told me, he had been listening to a tale, which, though it had removed the perplexities that had so long tormented him, had penetrated him with sorrow and compassion. I acquainted him with Mrs. Selwyn's plan for to-morrow, and confessed the extreme terror it gave me. He then, in a manner almost unanswerable, besought me to leave to him the conduct of the affair, by consenting to be his before an interview took place.

I could not but acknowledge my sense of his generousity; but I told him I was wholly depen­dent upon you, and that I was certain your opi­nion would be the same as mine, which was, that it would be highly improper I should dispose of myself for ever, so very near the time which must finally decide by whose authority I ought to be guided. The subject of this dreaded meeting, with the thousand conjectures and apprehensions to which it gives birth, employed all our conver­sation then, as it has all my thoughts since.

Heaven only knows how I shall support myself, when the long-expected,—the wished,—yet ter­rible moment arrives, that will prostrate me at the feet of the nearest, the most reverenced of all relations, whom my heart yearns to know, and longs to love!

LETTER XXXII.
Evelina in continuation.

I COULD not write yesterday, so violent was the agitation of my mind,—but I will not, now, lose a moment till I have hastened to my best friend an account of the transactions of a day, I can never recollect without emotion.

Mrs. Selwyn determined upon sending no mes­sage, ‘"Lest,"’ said she, ‘"Sir John, fatigued with the very idea of my reproaches, should en­deavour to avoid a meeting: all we have to do, is to take him by surprize. He cannot but see who you are, whether he will do you justice or not."’

We went early, and in Mrs. Beaumont's chariot; into which, Lord Orville, uttering words of the kindest encouragement, handed us both.

My uneasiness, during the ride, was excessive, but, when we stopped at the door, I was almost senseless with terror! the meeting at last, was not so dreadful as that moment! I believe I was car­ried into the house; but I scarce recollect what was done with me: however, I know we remain­ed some time in the parlour, ere Mrs. Selwyn could send any message up stairs.

When I was somewhat recovered, I entreat­ed her to let me return home, assuring her I felt myself quite unequal to supporting the in­terview.

[Page 237] ‘"No,"’ said she, ‘"you must stay now; your fears will but gain strength by delay, and we must not have such a shock as this repeated."’ Then, turning to the servant, she sent up her name.

An answer was brought, that he was going out in great haste, but would attend her immediate­ly. I turned so sick, that Mrs. Selwyn was ap­prehensive I should have fainted; and opening a door which led to an inner apartment, she beg­ged me to wait there till I was somewhat com­posed, and till she had prepared for my recep­tion.

Glad of every moment's reprieve, I willingly agreed to the proposal, and Mrs. Selwyn had but just time to shut me in, ere her presence was ne­cessary.

The voice of a father,—Oh dear and re­vered name!—which then, for the first time, struck my ears,—affected me in a manner I cannot describe, though it was only employ­ed to give orders to a servant as he came down stairs.

Then, entering the parlour, I heard him say, ‘"I am sorry, madam, I made you wait, but I have an engagement which now calls me away: however, if you have any commands for me, I shall be glad of the honour of your company some other time."’

‘"I am come, Sir,"’ answered Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"to introduce to you your daughter."’

‘"I am infinitely obliged to you,"’ answered he, ‘"but I have just had the satisfaction of breakfasting with her. Ma'am, your most obe­dient."’

‘"You refuse, then, to see her?"’

[Page 238] ‘"I am much indebted to you, Madam, for this desire of encreasing my family, but you must excuse me if decline taking advantage of it. I have already a daughter, to whom I owe every thing; and it is not three days since, that I had the pleasure of discovering a son; how many more sons and daughters may be brought to me, I am yet to learn;—but I am, already, perfectly well satisfied with the size of my fa­mily."’

‘"Had you a thousand children, Sir John,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, warmly, ‘"this only one, of which Lady Belmont was the mother, ought to be most distinguished; and, far from avoiding her sight, you should thank your stars, in humble gratitude, that there vet remains in your power, the smallest opportunity of doing the injured wife you have destroyed, the poor justice of acknow­ledging her child!"’

‘"I am very unwilling, Madam,"’ answered he, ‘"to enter into any discussion of this point; but you are determined to compel me to speak. There lives not, at this time, the human being who should talk to me of the regret due to the me­mory of that ill-fated woman; no one can feel it so severely as myself: but let me, nevertheless, assure you I have already done all that remained in my power to prove the respect she merited from me; her child I have educated, and owned for my lawful heiress, if, Madam, you can sug­gest to me any other means by which I may more fully do her justice, and more clearly manifest her innocence, name them to me, and though they should wound my character still deeper, I will per­form them readily."’

‘"All this sounds vastly well,"’ returned Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"but I must own it is rather too enig­matical [Page 239] for my faculties of comprehension. You can, however, have no objection to seeing this young lady?"’

‘"None in the world."’

‘"Come forth, then, my dear,"’ cried she, opening the door, ‘"come forth, and see your father!"’ Then, taking my trembling hand, she led me forward. I would have withdrawn it, and retreated, but as he advanced instantly towards me, I found myself already before him.

What a moment for your Evelina!—an invo­luntary scream escaped me, and covering my face with my hands, I sunk on the floor.

He had, however, seen me first; for in a voice scarce articulate he exclaimed, ‘"My God! does Caroline Evelyn still live!"’

Mrs. Selwyn said something, but I could not listen to her; and, in a few minutes, he added, ‘"Lift up thy head,—if my sight has not blasted thee,—lift up thy head, thou image of my long­lost Caroline!"’

Affected beyond measure, I half arose, and embraced his knees, while yet on my own.

‘"Yes, yes,"’ cried he, looking earnestly in my face, ‘"I see, I see thou art her child! she lives—she breathes—she is present to my view!—Oh God, that she indeed lived!—Go, child, go,"’ added he, wildly starting, and pushing me from him, ‘"take her away, Madam,—I cannot bear to look at her!"’ And then, breaking hastily from me, he rushed out of the room.

Speechless, motionless myself, I attempted not to stop him: but Mrs. Selwyn, hastening after him, caught hold of his arm. ‘"Leave me, Madam,"’ cried he, with quickness, ‘"and take care of the poor child;—bid her not think me un­kind,—tell her I would at this moment plunge a [Page 240] dagger in my heart to serve her,—but she has set my brain on fire, and I can see her no more!"’ Then, with violence almost frantic, he ran up stairs.

Oh Sir, had I not indeed cause to dread this in­terview?—an interview so unspeakably painful and afflicting to us both! Mrs. Selwyn would have immediately returned to Clifton; but I in­treated her to wait some time, in the hope that my unhappy father, when his first emotion was over, would again bear me in his sight. How­ever, he soon after sent his servant to enquire how I did, and to tell Mrs. Selwyn he was much indis­posed, but would hope for the honour of seeing her to-morrow, at any time she would please to appoint.

She fixed upon ten o'clock in the morning, and then, with a heavy heart, I got into the chariot. Those afflicting words, I can see her no more were never a moment absent from my mind.

Yet the sight of Lord Orville, who handed us from the carriage, gave some relief to the sadness of my thoughts. I could not, however, enter upon the painful subject, but begging Mrs. Sel­wyn to satisfy him, I went to my own room.

As soon as I communicated to the good Mrs. Clinton the present situation of my affairs, an idea occurred to her, which seemed to clear up all the mystery of my having been so long disowned.

The woman, she says, who attended my ever­to-be-regretted mother in her last illness, and who nursed me the first four months of my life, soon after being discharged from your house, left Berry Hill entirely with her baby, who was but six weeks older than myself. Mrs. Clinton remem­bers, that her quitting the place appeared, at the time, very extraordinary to the neighbours, but, [Page 241] as she was never heard of afterwards, she was, by degrees, quite forgotten.

The moment this was mentioned, it struck Mrs. Selwyn, as well as Mrs. Clinton herself, that my father had been imposed upon, and that the nurse who said she had brought his child to him, had, in fact, carried her own.

The name by which I was known, the secrecy observed in regard to my family, and the retire­ment in which I lived, all conspired to render this scheme, however daring and fraudulent, by no means impracticable, and, in short, the idea was no sooner started, than conviction seemed to fol­low it.

Mrs. Selwyn determined immediately to disco­ver the truth or mistake of this conjecture; there­fore, the moment she had dined, she walked to the Hotwells, attended by Mrs. Clinton.

I waited in my room till her return, and then heard the following account of her visit.

She found my poor father in great agitation. She immediately informed him of the occasion of her so speedy return, and of her suspicions of the woman who had pretended to convey to him his child. Interrupting her with quickness, he said he had just sent her from his presence: that the certainty I carried in my countenance, of my real birth, made him, the moment he had recovered from a surprise which had almost deprived him of reason, suspect, himself, the imposition she men­tioned. He had, therefore, sent for the woman, and questioned her with the utmost austerity: she turned pale, and was extremely embarrassed, but still she persisted in affirming, that she had really brought him the daughter of Lady Belmont. His perplexity, he said, almost distracted him; he had always observed that his daughter bore no re­semblance [Page 242] of either of her parents, but, as he had never doubted the veraci [...]y of the nurse, this cir­cumstance did not give birth to any suspicion.

At Mrs. Selwyn's desire, the woman was again called, and interrogated with equal art and seve­rity; her confusion was evident, and her answers often contradictory, yet she still declared she was no impostor. ‘"We will see that in a minute,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, and then desired Mrs. Clinton might be called up stairs. The poor wretch, changing colour, would have escaped out of the room, but, being prevented, dropt on her knees, and implored forgiveness. A confession of the whole affair was then extorted from her.

Doubtless, my dear Sir, you must remember Dame Green, who was my first nurse? The de­ceit she has practised, was suggested, she says, by a conversation she overheard, in which my un­happy mother besought you, that, if her child survived her, you would take the sole care of its education; and, in particular, if it should be a female, you would by no means part with her early in life. You not only consented, she says, but assured her you would even retire abroad with me yourself, if my father should importunately demand me. Her own child, she said, was then in her arms, and she could not forbear wishing it were possible to give her the fortune which seemed so little valued for me. This wish once raised, was not easily suppressed; on the contrary, what at first appeared a mere idle desire, in a short time seemed a feasible scheme. Her husband was dead, and she had little regard for any body but her child; and, in short, having saved money for the journey, she contrived to enquire a direction to my father, and, telling her neighbours she was [Page 243] going to settle in Devonshire, she set out on her expedition.

When Mrs. Selwyn asked her, how she dared to perpetrate such a fraud, she protested she had no ill designs, but that, as Miss would be never the worse for it, she thought it a pity nobody should be the better.

Her success we are already acquainted with. Indeed every thing seemed to contribute to wards it: my father had no correspondent at Berry Hill, the child was instantly sent to France, where be­ing brought up in as much retirement as myself, nothing but accident could discover the fraud.

And here, let me indulge myself in observing, and rejoicing to observe, that the total neglect I thought I met with, was not the effect of insensi­bility or unkindness, but of imposition and error; and that, at the very time we concluded I was unnaturally rejected, my deluded father meant to shew me most favour and protection.

He acknowledges that lady Howard's letter flung him into some perplexity; he immediately communicated it to Dame Green, who confessed it was the greatest shock she had ever received in her life; yet she had the art and boldness to assert, that Lady Howard must herself have been deceiv­ed: and as she had, from the beginning of her enterprize, declared she had stolen away the child without your knowledge, she concluded that some deceit was then intended him; and this thought occasioned his abrupt answer.

Dame Green owned, that from the moment the journey to England was settled, she gave herself up for lost. All her hope was to have had her daughter married before it took place, for which reason she had so much promoted Mr. Macart­ney's addresses: for though such a match was in­adequate [Page 244] to the pretensions of Miss Belmont, she well knew it was far superior to those her daughter could form, after the discovery of her birth.

My first enquiry was, if this innocent daughter was yet acquainted with the affair? No, Mrs. Sel­wyn said, nor was any plan settled how to divulge it to her. Poor unfortunate girl! how hard is her fate! she is entitled to my kindest offices, and I shall always consider her as my sister.

I then asked whether my father would again al­low me to see him?

‘"Why, no, my dear, not yet,"’ answered she; ‘"he declares the sight of you is too much for him: however, we are to settle every thing concerning you to-morrow, for this woman took up all our time to-day."’

This morning, therefore, she is again gone to the Hotwells. I am waiting in all impatience for her return; but as I know you will be anxious for the account this letter contains, I will not de­lay sending it.

LETTER XXXIII.
Evelina in continuation.

HOW agitated, my dear Sir, is the present life of your Evelina! every day seems important, and one event only a prelude to another.

Mrs. Selwyn, upon her return this morning from the Hotwell, entering my room very abrupt­ly, [Page 245] said, ‘"O my dear, I have terrible news for you!"’

‘"For me, Ma'am!—Good God! what now?"’

‘"Arm yourself,"’ cried she, ‘"with all your Berry Hill philosophy;—con over every lesson of fortitude or resignation you ever learnt in your life,—for know,—you are next week to be married to Lord Orville!"’

Doubt, astonishment, and a kind of perturba­tion I cannot describe, made this abrupt commu­nication alarm me extremely, and, almost breath­less, I could only exclaim, ‘"Good God, Ma­dam, what do you tell me?"’

‘"You may well be frightened, my dear,"’ said she, ironically, ‘"for really there is something mighty terrific, in becoming, at once, the wife of the man you adore,—and a Countess!"’

I entreated her to spare her raillery, and tell me her real meaning. She could not prevail with her­self to grant the first request, though she readily complied with the second.

My poor father, she said, was still in the ut­most uneasiness. He entered upon his affairs with great openness, and told her he was equally di­sturbed how to dispose either of the daughter he had discovered, or the daughter he was now to give up: the former he dreaded to trust himself with again beholding, and the latter he knew not how to shock with the intelligence of her dis­grace. Mrs. Selwyn then acquainted him with my situation in regard to Lord Orville; this de­lighted him extremely, and, when he heard of his Lordship's eagerness, he said he was himself of opinion, the sooner the union took place the better: and, in return, he informed her of the af­fair of Mr. Macartney. ‘"And, after a very long [Page 246] conversation,’ continued Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"we agreed, that the most eligible scheme for all par­ties, would be to have both the real and the ficti­tious daughter married without delay. There­fore, if either of you have any inclination to pull caps for the title of Miss Belmont, you must do it with all speed, as next week will take from both of you all pretensions to it."’

‘"Next week!"—dear Madam, what a strange plan!—without my being consulted—without ap­plying to Mr. Villars,—without even the concur­rence of Lord Orville!"’

‘"As to consulting you, my dear, it was out of all question, because, you know, young ladies hearts and hands are always to be given with re­luctance;—as to Mr. Villars, it is sufficient we know him for your friend;—and as for Lord Or­ville, he is a party concerned."’

‘"A party concerned!—you amaze me!"’

‘"Why, yes; for as I found our consultation likely to redound to his advantage, I persuaded Sir John to send for him."’

‘"Send for him!—Good God!"’

‘"Yes, and Sir John agreed. I told the ser­vant, that if he could not hear of his Lordship in the house, he might be pretty certain of encoun­tering him in the arbour.—Why do you colour, my dear?—Well, he was with us in a moment; I introduced him to Sir John, and we proceeded to business."’

‘"I am very, very sorry for it!—Lord Orville must, himself, think this conduct strangely preci­pitate."’

‘"No, my dear, you are mistaken, Lord Or­ville has too much good sense. Every thing was then discussed in a rational manner. You are to be married privately, tho' not secretly, and then [Page 247] go to one of his Lordship's country seats: and poor little Miss Green and your brother, who have no house of their own, must go to one of Sir John's."’

‘"But why, my dear Madam, why all this haste? why may we not be allowed a little longer ti me?"’

‘"I could give you a thousand reasons,"’ an­swered she, ‘"but that I am tolerably certain two or three will be more than you can controvert, even with all the logic of genuine coquetry. In the first place, you doubtless wish to quit the house of Mrs. Beaumont,—to whose, then, can you with such propriety remove, as to Lord Or­ville's?"’

‘"Surely, Madam,"’ cried I, ‘"I am not more destitute now, than when I thought myself an orphan?"’

‘"Your father, my dear,"’ answered she, ‘"is willing to save the little impostor as much of the mortification of her disgrace as it is in his power: now if you immediately take her place, according to your right, as Miss Belmont, why not all that either of you can do for her, will prevent her be­ing eternally stigmatized, as the bantling of Dame Green, wash-woman and wet nurse of Berry Hill, Dorsetshire. Now such a genealogy will not be very flattering, even to Mr. Macartney, who, all­dismal as he is, you will find by no means wanting in pride and self consequence."’

‘"For the universe,"’ interrupted I, ‘"I would not be accessary to the degradation you mention; but, surely, Madam, I may return to Berry Hill."’

‘"By no means,"’ said she; ‘"for though com­passion may make us wish to save the poor girl the confusion of an immediate and public fall, yet jus­tice demands you should appear, henceforward, [Page 248] in no other light than that of Sir John Belmont's daughter. Besides, between friends, I, who know the world, can see that half this prodigious delicacy for the little usurper, is the mere result of self-interest; for while her affairs are husht up, Sir John's, you know, are kept from being brought further to light. Now the double marriage we have projected, obviates all rational objections. Sir John will give you, immediately, £ 30,000; all settlements, and so forth, will be made for you in the name of Evelina Belmont;—Mr. Ma­cartney will, at the same time, take poor Polly Green,—and yet, at first, it will only be generally known, that a daughter of Sir John Belmont's is married."’

In this manner, though she did not convince me, yet the quickness of her arguments silenced and perplexed me. I enquired, however, if I might not be permitted to again see my father, or whether I must regard myself as banished his pre­sence for ever?

‘"My dear,"’ said she, ‘"he does not know you; he concludes that you have been brought up to detest him, and therefore he is rather pre­pared to dread, than to love you."’

This answer made me very unhappy; I wish­ed, most impatiently, to remove his prejudice, and endeavour, by dutiful assiduity, to engage his kindness, yet knew not how to propose seeing him, while conscious he wished to avoid me.

This evening, as soon as the company was en­gaged with cards, Lord Orville exerted his ut­most eloquence to reconcile me to this hasty plan; but how was I startled, when he told me that next Tuesday was the day appointed by my father to be the most important of my life!

[Page 249] ‘"Next Tuesday!’ repeated I, quite out of breath, ‘"Oh my Lord!—"’

‘"My sweet Evelina,"’ said he, ‘"the day which will make me the happiest of mortals, would probably appear awful to you, were it to be deferred a twelvemonth: Mrs. Selwyn has, doubtless, acquainted you with the many motives which, independent of my eagerness, require it to be speedy; suffer, therefore, its acceleration, and generously complete my felicity, by endea­vouring to suffer it without repugnance."’

‘"Indeed, my Lord, I would not wilfully raise objections, nor do I desire to appear insensible of the honour of your good opinion;—but there is something in this plan, so very hasty,—so unrea­sonably precipitate,—besides, I shall have no time to hear from Berry Hill,—and believe me, my Lord, I should be for ever miserable, were I, in an affair so important, to act without the sanction of Mr. Villars' advice."’

He offered to wait on you himself; but I told him I had rather write to you. And then he pro­posed, that, instead of my immediately accom­panying him to Lincolnshire, we should, first, pass a month at my native Berry Hill.

This was, indeed, a grateful proposal to me, and I listened to it with undisguised pleasure. And,—in short, I was obliged to consent to a com­promise, in merely deferring the day till Thurs­day! He readily undertook to engage my father's concurrence in this little delay, and I besought him, at the same time, to make use of his influ­ence to obtain me a second interview, and to re­present the deep concern I felt in being thus ba­nished his sight.

He would then have spoken of settlements, but [Page 250] I assured him, I was almost ignorant even of the word.

And now, my dearest Sir, what is your opinion of these hasty proceedings? believe me, I half re­gret the simple facility with which I have suffered myself to be hurried into compliance, and, should you start but the smallest objection, I will yet in­sist upon being allowed more time.

I must now write a concise account of the state of my affairs to Howard Grove, and to Madame Duval.

Adieu, dearest and most honoured Sir! every thing, at present, depends upon your single deci­sion, to which, though I yield in trembling, I yield implicitly.

LETTER XXXIV.
Evelina in continuation.

YESTERDAY morning, as soon as breakfast was over, Lord Orville went to the Hotwells, to wait upon my father with my double petition.

Mrs. Beaumont then, in general terms, propos­ed a walk in the garden. Mrs. Selwyn said she had letters to write, but Lady Louisa arose to ac­company her.

I had some reason to imagine, from the notice with which her Ladyship had honoured me during breakfast, that her brother had acquainted her with my present situation: and her behaviour now confirmed my conjecture; for, when I would have gone up stairs, instead of suffering me, as [Page 251] usual, to pass disregarded, she called after me, with an affected surprise, ‘"Miss Anville, don't you walk with us?"’

There seemed something so little-minded in this sudden change of conduct, that, from an invo­luntary emotion of contempt, I thanked her, with a coldness like her own, and declined her offer. Yet, observing that she blushed extremely at my refusal, and recollecting she was sister to Lord Orville, my indignation subsided, and upon Mrs. Beaumont's repeating the invitation, I accepted it.

Our walk proved extremely dull; Mrs. Beau­mont, who never says much, was more silent than usual; Lady Louisa strove in vain to lay aside the restraint and distance she has hitherto preserv­ed; and as to me, I was too conscious of the cir­cumstances to which I owed their attention, to feel either pride or pleasure from receiving it.

Lord Orville was not long absent; he joined us in the garden, with a look of gaiety and good-hu­mour that revived us all. ‘"You are just the party,"’ said he, ‘"I wished to see together. Will you, Madam,"’ taking my hand, ‘"allow me the honour of introducing you, by your real name, to two of my nearest relations? Mrs. Beaumont, give me leave to present to you the daughter of Sir John Belmont; a young lady who, I am sure, must long since have engaged your esteem and ad­miration, tho' you were a stranger to her birth."’

‘"My Lord,"’ said Mrs. Beaumont, graciously saluting me, ‘"the young lady's rank in life,—your Lordsh p's recommendation,—or her own merit, would any one of them have been suffi­cient to have entitled her to my regard; and I hope she has always met with that respect in my house which is so much her due; though, had I been [Page 252] sooner made acquainted with her family, I should, doubtless, have the better known how to have secured it."’

‘"Miss Belmont,"’ said Lord. Orville, ‘"can receive no lustre from family, whatever she may give to it. Louisa, you will, I am sure, be hap­py to make yourself an interest in the friendship of Miss Belmont, whom I hope shortly,"’ kissing my hand, and joining it with her Ladyship's, ‘"to have the happiness of presenting to you by yet another name, and by the most endearing of all titles."’

I believe it would be difficult to say whose cheeks were, at that moment, of the deepest dye, Lady Louisa's or my own; for the conscious pride with which she has hitherto slighted me, gave to her an embarrassment which equalled the confusion that an introduction so unexpected gave to me. She saluted me, however, and, with a faint smile, said, ‘"I shall esteem myself very happy to profit by the honour of Miss Belmont's acquaintance."’

I only courtsied, and we walked on; but it was evident, from the little surprise they expressed, that they had been already informed of the state of the affair.

We were, soon after, joined by more compa­ny: and Lord Orville then, in a low voice, took an opportunity to tell me the success of his visit. In the first place, Thursday was agreed to; and, in the second, my father, he said, was much con­cerned to hear of my uneasiness, sent me his bles­sing, and complied with my request of seeing him, with the same readiness he should agree to any other I could make. Lord Orville, therefore, settled that I should wait upon him in the evening, [Page 253] and, at his particular request, unaccompanied by Mrs. Selwyn.

This kind message, and the prospect of so soon seeing him, gave me sensations of mixed pleasure and pain, which wholly occupied my mind till the time of my going to the Hotwells.

Mrs. Beaumont lent me her chariot, and Lord Orville absolutely insisted upon attending me. ‘"If you go alone,"’ said he, ‘"Mrs. Selwyn will certainly be offended; but, if you allow me to conduct you, tho' she may give the freer scope to her raillery, she cannot possibly be affronted: and we had much better suffer her laughter, than provoke her satire."’

Indeed, I must own I had no reason to regret being so accompanied; for his conversation sup­ported my spirits from drooping, and made the ride seem so short, that we actually stopt at my father's door, ere I knew we had proceeded ten yards.

He handed me from the carriage, and conduct­ed me to the parlour, at the door of which I was met by Mr. Macartney. ‘"Ah, my dear bro­ther,"’ cried I, ‘"how happy am I to see you here!"’

He bowed and thanked me. Lord Orville, then, holding out his hand, said, ‘"Mr. Macart­ney, I hope we shall be better acquainted; I pro­mise myself much pleasure from cultivating your friendship.’

‘"Your Lordship does me but too much ho­nour,"’ answered Mr. Macartney.

‘"But where,"’ cried I, ‘"is my sister? for so I must already call, and always consider her:—I am afraid she avoids me;—you must endeavour, my dear brother, to prepossess her in my favour, and reconcile her to owning me."’

[Page 254] ‘"Oh, Madam,"’ cried he, ‘"you are all goodness and benevolence! but at present, I hope you will excuse her, for I fear she has hardly for­titude sufficient to see you: in a short time, per­haps—"’

‘"In a very short time, then,"’ said Lord Or­ville, ‘"I hope you will yourself introduce her, and that we shall have the pleasure of wishing you both joy: allow me, my Evelina, to say we, and permit me, in your name, as well as my own, to entreat that the first guests we shall have the hap­piness of receiving, may be Mr. and Mrs. Ma­Macartney."’

A servant then came to beg I would walk up stairs.

I besought Lord Orville to accompany me; but he feared the displeasure of Sir John, who had desired to see me alone. He led me, however, to the head of the stairs, and made the kindest ef­forts to give me courage; but indeed he did not succeed, for the interview appeared to me in all its terrors, and left me no feeling but apprehen­sion.

The moment I reached the landing-place, the drawing-room door was opened, and my father, with a voice of kindness, called out, ‘"My child, is it you?"’

‘"Yes, Sir,"’ cried I, springing forward, and kneeling at his feet, ‘"it is your child, if you will own her!"’

He knelt by my side, and folding me in his arms, ‘"own thee!"’ repeated he, ‘"yes, my poor girl, and Heaven knows with what bitter contrition!"’ Then, raising both himself and me, he brought me into the drawing-room, shut the door, and took me to the window, where, look­ing at me with great earnestness, ‘"Poor unhap­py [Page 255] Caroline!"’ cried he, and, to my inexpressible concern, he burst into tears. Need I tell you, my dear Sir, how mine flowed at the sight?

I would again have embraced his knees; but, hurrying from me, he flung himself upon a so­pha, and leaning his face on his arms, seemed, for some time, absorbed in bitterness of grief.

I ventured not to interrupt a sorrow I so much respected, but waited in silence, and at a dis­tance, till he recovered from its violence. But then it seemed, in a moment, to give way to a kind of frantic fury; for, starting suddenly, with a sternness which at once surprised and frightened me, ‘"Child,"’ cried he, ‘"hast thou yet suffi­ciently humbled thy father?—if thou hast, be contented with this proof of my weakness, and no longer force thyself into my presence!"’

Thunderstruck by a command so unexpected, I stood still and speechless, and doubted whether my own ears did not deceive me:

‘"Oh, go, go!"’ cried he, passionately, ‘"in pity—in compassion,—if thou valuest my senses, leave me,—and for ever!"’

‘"I will, I will!"’ cried I, greatly terrified; and I moved hastily towards the door: yet stop­ping when I reached it, and, almost involuntarily, dropping on my knees, ‘"Vouchsafe,"’ cried I, ‘"oh, Sir, vouchsafe but once to bless your daugh­ter, and her sight shall never more offend you!"’

‘"Alas,"’ cried he, in a softened voice, ‘"I am not worthy to bless thee!—I am not worthy to call thee daughter!—I am not worthy that the fair light of heaven should visit my eyes!—Oh God! that I could but call back the time ere thou wast born,—or else bury its remembrance in eternal obli­vion!"’

[Page 256] ‘"Would to Heaven,"’ cried I, ‘"that the sight of me were less terrible to you! that, in­stead of irritating, I could soothe your sorrows!—Oh Sir, how thankfully would I then prove my duty, even at the hazard of my life!"’

‘"Are you so kind?"’ cried he, gently; ‘"come hither, child,—rise, Evelina;—alas, it is for me to kneel, not you!—and I would kneel,—I would crawl upon the earth,—I would kiss the dust,—could I, by such submission, obtain the forgive­ness of the representative of the most injured of women!"’

‘"Oh, Sir,"’ exclaimed I, ‘"that you could but read my heart!—that you could but see the fi­lial tenderness and concern with which it over­flows! you would not then talk thus,—you would not then banish me your presence, and exclude me from your affection!"’

‘"Good God,"’ cried he, ‘"is it then possible that you do not hate me?—Can the child of the wronged Caroline look at,—and not execrate me? Wast thou not born to abhor, and bred to curse me? did not thy mother bequeath thee her blessing, on condition that thou shouldst detest and avoid me?"’

‘"Oh no, no, no!"’ cried I, ‘"think not so unkindly of her, nor so hardly of me."’ I then took from my pocket-book her last letter, and, pressing it to my lips, with a trembling hand, and still upon my knees, I held it out to him.

Hastily snatching it from me, ‘"Great Hea­ven!"’ cried he, ‘'tis her writing!—Whence comes this?—who gave it you?—why had I it not soon­er?"’

I made no answer; his vehemence intimidated me, and I ventured not to move from the suppli­ant posture in which I had put myself.

[Page 257] He went from me to the window, where his eyes were for some time rivetted upon the directi­on of the letter, though his hand shook so vio­lently he could hardly hold it. Then, bringing it to me, ‘"Open it,"’—cried he,—‘"for I can­not!"’

I had, myself, hardly strength to obey him; but, when I had, he took it back, and walked hastily up and down the room, as if dreading to read it. At length, turning to me, ‘"Do you know,"’ cried he, ‘"its contents?"’

‘"No, Sir,’ answered I; ‘"it has never been unsealed."’

He then again went to the window, and began reading. Having hastily run it over, he cast up his eyes with a look of desperation; the letter fell from his hand, and he exclaimed, ‘"yes! thou art sainted!—thou art blessed!—and I am cursed for ever!"’ He continued some time fixed in this melancholy position; after which, casting him­self with violence upon the ground, ‘"Oh wretch,"’ cried he, ‘"unworthy life and light, in what dungeon canst thou hide thy head?"’

I could restrain myself no longer; I rose and went to him; I did not dare to speak, but with pity and concern unutterable, I wept and hung over him.

Soon after, starting up, he again seized the letter, exclaiming, ‘"Acknowledge thee, Caro­line!—yes, with my heart's best blood would I acknowledge thee!—Oh that thou couldst witness the agony of my soul!—Ten thousand daggers could not have wounded me like this letter!"’

Then, after again reading it, ‘"Evelina,"’ he cried, ‘"she charges me to receive thee;—wilt thou, in obedience to her will, own for thy fa­ther the destroyer of thy mother?"’

[Page 258] What a dreadful question! I shuddered, but could not speak.

‘"To clear her fame, and receive her child,"’ continued he, looking stedfastly at the letter, ‘"are the conditions upon which she leaves me her forgiveness: her fame, I have already clear­ed;—and oh how willingly would I take her child to my bosom,—fold her to my heart,—call upon her to mitigate my anguish, and pour the balm of comfort on my wounds, were I not conscious I deserve not to receive it, and that all my affliction is the result of my own guilt!"’

It was in vain I attempted to speak; hor­ror and grief took from me all power of utte­rance.

He then read aloud from the letter, ‘"Look not like thy unfortunate mother!—Sweet soul, with what bitterness of spirit hast thou written!—Come hither, Evelina: Gracious Heaven!"’ looking earnestly at me, ‘"never was likeness more striking!—the eye,—the face,—the form,—Oh my child, my child!"’ Imagine, Sir,—for I can never describe my feelings, when I saw him sink upon his knees before me! ‘"Oh dear re­semblance of thy murdered mother!—Oh all that remains of the most-injured of women! be­hold thy father at thy feet!—bending thus lowly to implore you would not hate him;—Oh then, thou representative of my departed wife, speak to me in her name, and say that the remorse which tears my soul, tortures me not in vain!"’

‘"Oh rise, rise, my beloved father,"’ cried I, attempting to assist him, ‘"I cannot bear to see you thus;—reverse not the law of na­ture, [Page 259] rise yourself, and bless your kneeling daughter!"’

‘"May Heaven bless thee, my child!—"’ cried he, ‘"for I dare not."’ He then rose, and embracing me most affectionately, added, ‘"I see, I see that thou art all kindness, softness, and tenderness; I need not have feared thee, thou art all the fondest father could wish, and I will try to frame my mind to less painful sensations at thy sight. Perhaps the time may come when I may know the comfort of such a daughter,—at present, I am only fit to be alone: dreadful as are my reflections, they ought merely to torment my­self.—Adieu, my child;—be not angry,—I cannot stay with thee,—oh Evelina! thy countenance is a dagger to my heart!—just so, thy mother look­ed,—just so—"’

Tears and sighs seemed to choak him!—and waving his hand, he would have left me,—but, clinging to him, ‘"Oh, Sir,"’ cried I, ‘"will you so soon abandon me?—am I again an orphan?—oh my dear, my long-lost father, leave me not, I beseech you! take pity on your child, and rob her not of the parent she so fondly hoped would cherish her!"’

‘"You know not what you ask,"’ cried he; ‘"the emotions which now rend my soul are more than my reason can endure: suffer me, then, to leave you,—impute it not to unkindness, but think of me as well as thou canst.—Lord Orville has behaved nobly;—I believe he will make thee happy."’ Then, again embracing me, ‘"God bless thee, my dear child,"’ cried he, ‘"God bless thee, my Evelina!—endeavour to love,—at least not to hate me,—and to make me an in­terest in thy filial bosom by thinking of me as thy father."’

[Page 260] I could not speak; I kissed his hands on my knees; and then, with yet more emotion, he again blessed me, and hurried out of the room,—leaving me almost drowned in tears.

Oh Sir, all goodness as you are, how much will you feel for your Evelina, during a scene of such agitation! I pray Heaven to accept the tribute of his remorse, and restore him to tranquility!

When I was sufficiently composed to return to the parlour, I found Lord Orville waiting for me with the utmost anxiety;—and then, a new scene of emotion, though of a far different nature, awaited me; for I learnt, by Mr. Macartney, that this noblest of men had insisted the so-long-sup­posed Miss Belmont should be considered indeed as my sister, and as the co-heiress of my father! though not in law, in justice, he says, she ought ever to be treated as the daughter of Sir John Bel­mont.

Oh Lord Orville!—it shall be the sole study of my happy life, to express, better than by words, the sense I have of your exalted benevolence, and greatness of mind!

LETTER XXXV.
Evelina in continuation.

THIS morning, early, I received the follow­ing letter from Sir Clement Willoughby.

To Miss Anville.

I HAVE this moment received intelligence that preparations are actually making for your marriage with Lord Orville.

Imagine not that I write with the imbecile idea of rendering those preparations abortive. No, I am not so mad. My sole view is to explain the motive of my conduct in a particular instance, and to obviate the accusation of treachery which may be laid to my charge.

My unguarded behaviour when I last saw you, has, probably, already acquainted you, that the letter I then saw you reading was written by my­self. For your further satisfaction, let me have the honour of informing you, thatt the one you had designed for Lord Orville, had fallen into my hands.

However I may have been urged on by a passi­on the most violent that ever warmed the heart of man, I can by no means calmly submit to be stig­matised for an action seemingly so dishonourable; and it is for this reason that I trouble you with my justification.

Lord Orville,—the happy Orville, whom you are so ready to bless,—had made me believe he loved you not,—nay, that he held you in con­tempt.

Such were my thoughts of his sentiments of you, when I got possession of the letter you meant to send him; I pretend not to vindicate either the means I used to obtain it, or the action of break­ing the seal;—but I was impelled by an impetuous [Page 262] curiosity to discover the terms upon which you wrote to him.

The letter, however, was wholly unintelligible to me, and the perusal of it only added to my perplexity.

A tame suspence I was not born to endure, and I determined to clear my doubts at all hazards and events.

I answered it, therefore, in Orville's name.

The views which I am now going to acknow­ledge, must, infallibly, incur your displeasure,—yet I scorn all palliation.

Briefly, then,—I concealed your letter to pre­vent a discovery of your capacity,—and I wrote you an answer which I hoped would prevent your wishing for any other.

I am well aware of everything which can be said upon this subject. Lord Orville will, possi­bly, think himself ill used;—but I am extremely indifferent as to his opinion, nor do I now write by way of offering any apology to him, but merely to make known to yourself the reasons by which I have been governed.

I intend to set off next week for the Continent. Should his Lordship have any commands for me in the mean time, I shall be glad to receive them. I say not this by way of defiance,—I should blush to be suspected of so doing through an indirect channel,—but simply that, if you shew him this letter, he may know I dare defend, as well as ex­cuse my conduct.

CLEMENT WILLOUGHBY.

What a strange letter! how proud and how piqued does its writer appear! To what alternate meanness and rashness do the passions lead, when reason and self-denial do not oppose them! Sir [Page 263] Clement is conscious he has acted dishonourably, yet the same unbridled vehemence which urged him to gratify a blameable curiosity, will sooner prompt him to risk his life, than confess his mis­conduct. The rudeness of his manner of writing to me springs from the same cause: the proof he has received of my indifference to him, has stung him to the soul, and he has neither the delicacy nor forbearance to disguise his dis­pleasure.

I determined not to shew this letter to Lord Orville, and thought it most prudent to let Sir Clement know I should not. I therefore wrote the following note.

To Sir Clement Willoughby.

Sir,

THE letter you have been pleased to address to me, is so little calculated to afford Lord Or­ville any satisfaction, that you may depend up­on my carefully keeping it from his sight. I will bear you no resentment for what is past; but I most earnestly entreat, nay implore, that you will not write again, while in your present frame of mind, by any channel, direct or indirect.

I hope you will have much pleasure in your pur­posed expedition, and I beg leave to assure you of my good wishes.

Not knowing by what name to sign, I was ob­liged to send it without any.

The preparations which Sir Clement mentions, go on just as if your consent were arrived: it is in [Page 264] vain that I expostulate; Lord Orville says, should any objections be raised, all shall be given up, but that, as his hopes forbid him to expect any, he must proceed as if already assured of your con­currence.

We have had, this afternoon, a most interesting conversation, in which we have traced our sen­timents of each other from our first acquain­tance. I have made him confess how ill he thought of me, upon my foolish giddiness at Mrs. Stanley's ball; but he flatters me with assurances, that every succeeding time he saw me, I appeared to something less and less disadvan­tage.

When I expressed my amazement that he could honour with his choice a girl who seemed so infi­nitely, in every respect, beneath his alliance, he frankly owned, that he had fully intended making more minute enquiries into my family and connec­tions, and particularly concerning those people he saw with me at Marybone, before he acknow­ledged his prepossession in my favour: but the suddenness of my intended journey, and the un­certainty of seeing me again, put him quite off his guard, and ‘"divesting him of prudence, left him nothing but love."’ These were his words; and yet, he has repeatedly assured me, that his par­tiality has known no bounds from the time of my residing at Clifton.

Mr. Macartney has just been with me, on an embassy from my father. He has sent me his kindest love, and assurances of favour, and desired to know if I am happy in the prospect of chang­ing my situation, and if there is any thing I can [Page 265] name which he can do for me. And, at the same time, Mr. Macartney delivered to me a draught on my father's banker for a thousand pounds, which he insisted that I should receive entirely for my own use, and expend in equipping myself properly for the new rank of life to which I seem destined.

I am sure I need not say how much I was pene­trated by this goodness; I wrote my thanks, and acknowledged, frankly, that if I could see him restored to tranquility, my heart would be without a wish.

LETTER XXXVI.
Evelina in continuation.

THE time approaches now, when I hope we shall meet,—yet I cannot sleep,—great joy is as restless as sorrow,—and therefore I will continue my journal.

As I had never had any opportunity of see­ing Bath, a party was formed last night for shewing me that celebrated city; and this morn­ing, after breakfast, we set out in three pha­etons. Lady Louisa and Mrs. Beaumont, with Lord Merton; Mr. Coverly with Mr. Lo­vel; and Mrs. Selwyn and myself, with Lord Orville.

[Page 266] We had hardly proceeded half a mile, when a gentleman in a post-chaise, which came gal­loping after us, called out to the servants, ‘"Hol­la, my Lads,—pray is one Miss Anville in any of them thing-embobs?"’

I immediately recollected the voice of Cap­tain Mirvan, and Lord Orville stopt the pha­eton. He was out of the chaise, and with us in a moment. ‘"So, Miss Anville,"’ cried he, ‘"how do you do? So I hear you're Miss Bel­mont now;—pray how does old Madame French do?"’

‘"Madame Duval,"’ said I, ‘"is, I believe, very well."’

‘"I hope she's in good case,"’ said he, wink­ing significantly, ‘"and won't flinch at seeing service: she has laid by long enough to refit and be made tight. And pray how does poor Monsieur Doleful do? is he as lank-jawed as ever?"’

‘"They are neither of them,"’ said I, ‘"at Bristol."’

‘"No!—But surely the old dowager intends coming to the wedding! 'twill be a most ex­cellent opportunity to shew off her best Lyons' silk. Besides, I purpose to dance a new-fa­shioned jig with her. Don't you know when she'll come?"’

‘"I have no reason, Sir, to expect her at all."’

‘"No!—'Fore George this here's the worst news I'd wish to hear!—why, I've thought of nothing all the way but what trick I should serve her!"’

‘"You have been very obliging!"’ said I, laughing.

[Page 267] ‘"O, I promise you,"’ cried he, ‘"our Moll would never have wheedled me into this jaunt, if I'd known she was not here; for, to let you into the secret, I fully intended to have treated the old buck with another frolic."’

‘"Did Miss Mirvan, then, persuade you to this journey?"’

‘"Yes, and we've been travelling all night."’

‘"We!"’ cried I:" ‘"Is Miss Mirvan, then, with you?"’

‘"What, Molly?—yes, she's in that there chaise."’

‘"Good God, Sir, why did not you tell me sooner?"’ cried I; and immediately, with Lord Orville's assistance, I jumpt out of the phaeton, and ran to the dear girl. Lord Orville opened the chaise-door, and I am sure I need not tell you what unfeigned joy accompanied our meeting.

We both begged we might not be parted during the ride, and Lord Orville was so good as to invite Captain Mirvan into his phae­ton.

I think I was hardly ever more rejoiced than at this so seasonable visit from my dear Maria; who had no sooner heard the situation of my affairs, than, with the assistance of Lady Howard and her kind mother, she besought her father with such earnestness to consent to the journey, that he had not been able to withstand their united en­treaties; though she owned that, had he not ex­pected to have met with Madame Duval, she be­lieves he would not so readily have yielded. They arrived at Mrs. Beaumont's but a few minutes af­ter we were out of sight, and overtook us without much difficulty.

[Page 268] I say nothing of our conversation, because you may so well suppose both the subjects we chose, and our manner of discussing them.

We all stopped at a great hotel, where we were obliged to enquire for a room, as Lady Louisa, fatigued to death, desired to take something before we began our rambles.

As soon as the party was assembled, the Cap­tain, abruptly saluting me, said, ‘"So, Miss Bel­mont, I wish you joy; so I hear you've quarrelled with your new name already?"’

‘"Me!—no, indeed, Sir."’

‘"Then please for to tell me the reason you're in such a hurry to change it."’

‘"Miss Belmont!"’ cried Mr. Lovel, looking round him with the utmost astonishment, ‘"I beg pardon,—but, if it is not impertinent,—I must beg leave to say, I always understood that Lady's name was Anville."’

‘"'Fore George,"’ cried the Captain, ‘"it runs in my head, I've seen you somewhere before! and now I think on't, pray a'n't you the person I saw at the play one night, and who did n't know, all the time, whether it was a tragedy or a come­dy, or a concert of fidlers?"’

‘"I believe, Sir,"’ said Mr. Lovel, stammering, ‘"I had once,—I think—the pleasure of seeing you last spring."’

‘"Ay, and if I live an hundred springs,"’ an­swered he, ‘"I shall never forget it; by Jingo, it has served me for a most excellent good joke ever since. Well, however, I'm glad to see you still in the land of the living,"’ shaking him roughly by the hand; ‘"pray, if a body may be so bold, how much a night may you give at present to keep the undertakers aloof?"’

[Page 269] ‘"Me, Sir!"’ said Mr. Lovel, very much dis­composed; ‘"I protest I never thought myself in such imminent danger as to—really, Sir, I don't understand you."’

‘"O, you don't!—why then I'll make free for to explain myself. Gentlemen and Ladies, I'll tell you what; do you know this here gentleman, simple as he sits there, pays five shillings a night to let his friends know he's alive!’

‘"And very cheap too,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"if we consider the value of the intelli­gence."’

Lady Louisa, being now refreshed, we proceed­ed upon our expedition.

The charming city of Bath answered all my ex­pectations. The Crescent, the prospect from it, and the elegant symmetry of the Circus, delighted me. The Parades, I own, rather disappointed me; one of them is scarce preferable to some of the best paved streets in London, and the other, though it affords a beautiful prospect, a charming view of Prior Park and of the Avon, yet wanted something in itself of more striking elegance than a mere broad pavement, to satisfy the ideas I had formed of it.

At the pump-room, I was amazed at the pub­lic exhibition of the ladies in the bath: it is true, their heads are covered with bonnets, but the very idea of being seen, in such a situation, by whoever pleases to look, is indelicate.

‘"'Fore George,"’ said the Captain, look­ing into the bath, ‘"this would be a most ex­cellent place for old Madame French to dance a fandango in! By Jingo, I would n't wish for better sport than to swing her round this here pond!"’

[Page 270] ‘"She would be very much obliged to you,"’ said Lord Orville, ‘"for so extraordinary a mark of your favour."’

‘"Why, to let you know,"’ answered the Cap­tain, ‘"she hit my fancy mightily; I never took so much to an old tabby before."’

‘"Really, now,"’ cried Mr. Lovel, looking also into the bath, ‘"I must confess it is, to me, very incomprehensible why the ladies chuse that frightful unbecoming dress to bathe in! I have of­ten pondered very seriously upon the subject, but could never hit upon the reason."’

‘"Well, I declare,"’ said Lady Louisa, ‘"I should like of all things to set something new a going; I always hated bathing, because one can get no pretty dress for it; now do, there's a good creature, try to help me to something."’

‘"Who? me!—O dear Ma'am,"’ said he, simpering, ‘"I can't pretend to assist a person of your Ladyship's taste; besides, I have not the least head for fashions,—I really don't think I ever invented three in my life!—but I never had the least turn for dress,—never any notion of fancy or elegance."’

‘"O fie, Mr. Lovel! how can you talk so?—don't we all know that you lead the ton in the beau monde?—I declare, I think you dress better than any body."’

‘"O dear Ma'am, you confuse me to the last degree! I dress well!—I protest I don't think I'm ever fit to be seen!—I'm often shocked to death to think what a figure I go. If your Ladyship will believe me, I was full half an hour this morning thinking what I should put on!"’

‘"Odds my life,"’ cried the Captain, ‘"I wish I'd been near you! I warrant I'd have quickened [Page 271] your motions a little! Half an hour thinking what you'd put on? and who the deuce, do you think, cares the snuff of a candle whether you've any thing on or not?"’

‘"O pray, Captain,"’ cried Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"don't be angry with the gentleman for think­ing, whatever be the cause, for, I assure you, he makes no common practice of offending in that way."’

‘"Really, Ma'am, you are prodigiously kind!"’ said Mr. Lovel, angrily.

‘"Pray, now,"’ said the Captain, ‘"did you ever get a ducking in that there place your­self?"’

‘"A ducking, Sir!"’ repeated Mr. Lovel; ‘"I protest I think that's rather an odd term!—but if you mean a bathing, it is an honour I have had many times."’

‘"And pray, if a body may be so bold, what do you do with that frizle-frize top of your own? Why, I'll lay you what you will, there is fat and grease enough on your crown, to buoy you up, if you were to go in head down­wards."’

‘"And I don't know,"’ cried Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"but that might be the easiest way, for I'm sure it would be the lightest."’

‘"For the matter of that there,"’ said the Captain, ‘"you must make him a soldier, be­fore you can tell which is the lightest, head or heels. Howsomever, I'd lay ten pounds to a shilling, I could whisk him so dexterously over into the pool, that he should light plump upon his foretop, and turn round like a tetotum."’

‘"Done!"’ cried Lord Merton: ‘"I take your odds!"’

[Page 272] ‘"Will you?"’ returned he; ‘"why then, 'fore George, I'd do it, as soon as say Jack Ro­binson."’

‘"He, he!"’ faintly laughed Mr. Lovel, as he moved abruptly from the window, ‘"'pon ho­nour, this is pleasant enough; but I don't see what right any body has to lay wagers about one, without one's consent."’

‘"There, Lovel, you are out;"’ cried Mr. Coverly; ‘"any man may lay what wager about you he pleases; your consent is nothing to the purpose: he may lay that your nose is a sky-blue, if he pleases."’

‘"Ay,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, ‘"or that your mind is more adorned than your person;—or any ab­surdity whatsoever."’

‘"I protest,"’ said Mr. Lovel, angrily, ‘"I think it's a very disagreeable privilege, and I must beg that nobody may take such a liberty with me."’

‘"Like enough you may,"’ cried the Cap­tain; ‘"but what's that to the purpose? sup­pose I've a mind to lay that you've never a tooth in your head?—pray how will you hinder me?"’

‘"You'll allow me, at least, Sir, to take the liberty of asking how you'll prove it?"’

‘"How!—why, by knocking them all down your throat."’

‘"Knocking them all down my throat, Sir!"’ repeated Mr. Lovel, with a look of horror, ‘"I protest I never heard any thing so shocking in my life; and I must beg leave to observe, that no wager, in my opinion, could justify such a bar­barous action."’

Here Lord Orville interfered, and hurried us to our carriages.

[Page 273] We returned in the same order we came.—Mrs. Beaumont invited all the party to dinner, and has been so obliging as to beg Miss Mirvan may continue at her house during her stay. The Captain will lodge at the Wells.

The first half-hour after our return, was de­voted to hearing Mr. Lovel's apologies for dining in his riding-dress.

Mrs. Beaumont then, addressing herself to Miss Mirvan and me, enquired how we liked Bath?

‘"I hope,"’ said Mr. Lovel, ‘"the Ladies do not call this seeing Bath."’

‘"No!—what should ail 'em?"’ cried the Cap­tain; ‘"do you suppose they put their eyes in their pockets?"’

‘"No, Sir; but I fancy you will find no per­son,—that is, no person of any condition,—call going about a few places in a morning—seeing Bath."’

‘"Mayhap, then,"’ said the literal Captain, ‘"you think we should see it better by going about at midnight?'’

‘"No, Sir, no,"’ said Mr. Lovel, with a su­percilious smile, ‘"I perceive you don't under­stand me,—we should never call it seeing Bath, without going at the right season."’

‘"Why, what a plague, then,"’ demanded he, ‘"can you only see at one season of the year?"’

Mr. Lovel again smiled; but seemed superior to making any answer.

‘"The Bath amusements,"’ said Lord Orville, ‘"have a sameness in them, which, after a short time, renders them rather insipid: but the greatest objection that can be made to the place, is the encouragement it gives to gamesters."’

[Page 274] ‘"Why I hope, my Lord, you would not think of abolishing gaming,"’ cried Lord Merton; ‘"'tis the very zest of life? Devil take me if I could live without it!"’

‘"I am sorry for it,"’ said Lord Orville, grave­ly, and looking at Lady Louisa.

‘"Your Lordship is no judge of this subject,"’ continued the other:—‘"but if once we could get you to a gaming-table, you'd never be happy away from it."’

‘"I hope, my Lord,"’ cried Lady Louisa, ‘"that nobody here ever occasions your quitting it."’

‘"Your Ladyship,"’ said Lord Merton, recol­lecting himself, ‘"has power to make me quit any thing."’

‘"Except herself,"’ said Mr. Coverley. ‘"Egad, my Lord, I think I've helpt you out there."’

‘"You men of wit, Jack,"’ answered his Lord­ship, ‘"are always ready;—for my part, I don't pretend to any talents that way."’

‘"Really, my Lord?"’ asked the sarcastic Mrs. Selwyn; ‘"well, that is wonderful, considering success would be so much in your power."’

‘"Pray, Madam,"’ said Mr. Lovel to Lady Louisa, ‘"has your Ladyship heard the news?"’

‘"News!—what news?"’

‘"Why, the report circulating at the Wells concerning a certain person?"’

‘"O Lord, no; pray tell me what it is!"’

‘"O no, Ma'am, I beg your La'ship will ex­cuse me; 'tis a profound secret, and I would not have mentioned it, if I had not thought you knew it."’

‘"Lord, now, how can you be so monstrous?—I declare, now, you're a provoking creature! [Page 275] But come, I know you'll tell me;—won't you now?"’

‘"Your La'ship knows I am but too happy to obey you; but, 'pon honour, I can't speak a word, if you won't all promise me the most inviola­ble secrecy."’

‘"I wish you'd wait for that from me,"’ said the Captain, ‘"and I'll give you my word you'd be dumb for one while. Secrecy, quoth a!—Fore George, I wonder you a'n't ashamed to men­tion such a word, when you talk of telling it to a woman. Though, for the matter of that, I'd as lieve blab it to the whole sex at once, as to go for to tell it to such a thing as you."’

‘"Such a thing as me, Sir!"’ said Mr. Lovel, letting fall his knife and fork, and looking very important: ‘"I really have not the honour to understand your expression."’

‘"It's all one for that,"’ said the Captain; ‘"you may have it explained whenever you like it."’

‘"'Pon honour, Sir,"’ returned Mr. Lovel, ‘"I must take the liberty to tell you, that I should be extremely offended, but that I suppose it to be some sea-phrase, and therefore I'll let it pass with­out further notice."’

Lord Orville then, to change the discourse, asked Miss Mirvan if she should spend the ensuing winter in London?"

‘"No, to be sure,"’ said the Captain, ‘"what should she for? she saw all that was to be seen before."’

‘"Is London, then,"’ said Mr. Lovel smiling, at Lady Louisa, ‘"only to be regarded as a sight?"’

‘"Why pray, Mr. Wiseacre, how are you pleased for to regard it yourself?—Answer me to that?"’

[Page 276] ‘"O Sir, my opinion I fancy you would hardly find intelligible. I don't understand sea-phrases enough to define it to your comprehension. Does n't your La'ship think the task would be rather difficult?"’

‘"O Lard, yes,"’ cried Lady Louisa, ‘"I de­clare I'd as soon teach my parrot to talk Welch."’

‘"Ha! ha! ha! admirable!—Pon honour, your La'ship's quite in luck to day;—but that, indeed, your La'ship is every day. Though, to be sure, it is but candid to acknowledge, that the gentlemen of the ocean have a set of ideas, as well as a dialect, so opposite to ours, that it is by no means surprising they should regard London as a mere show, that may be seen by being looked at. Ha! ha! ha!’

‘"Ha! ha!’ echoed Lady Louisa: ‘Well, I de­clare you are the drollest creature!"’

‘"He! he! 'pon honour I can't help laughing at the conceit of seeing London in a few weeks!"’

‘"And what a plague should hinder you?"’ cri­ed the Captain; ‘"do you want to spend a day in every street?"’

Here again Lady Louisa and Mr. Lovel inter­changed smiles.

‘"Why, I warrant you, if I had the shewing of it, I'd haul you from St. James's to Wapping the very first morning."’

The smiles were now, with added contempt, repeated; which the Captain observing, looked very fiercely at Mr. Lovel, and said, ‘"Hark'ee, my spark, none of your grinning!—'tis a lingo I don't understand; and if you give me any more of it, I shall go near to lend you a box o' the ear."’

‘"I protest, Sir,"’ said Mr. Lovel, turning ex­tremely pale, ‘"I think it's taking a very particular [Page 277] liberty with a person, to talk to one in such a style as this!"’

‘"It's like you may,"’ returned the Captain; ‘"but give a good gulp and I warrant you'll swal­low it."’ Then, calling for a glass of ale, with a very provoking and significant nod, he drank to his easy digestion.

Mr. Lovel made no answer, but looked ex­tremely sullen: and soon after, we left the gen­tlemen to themselves.

I had then two letters delivered to me; one from Lady Howard and Mrs. Mirvan, which con­tained the kindest congratulations; and the other from Madame Duval,—but not a word from you,—to my no small surprise and concern.

Madame Duval seems greatly rejoiced at my late intelligence: a violent cold, she says, pre­vented her coming to Bristol. The Branghtons, she tells me, are all well; Miss Polly is soon to be married to Mr. Brown, but Mr. Smith has changed his lodgings, ‘"which,"’ she adds, ‘"has made the house extremely dull. However, that's not the worse news; pardie, I wish it was! but I've been used like nobody,—for Monsieur Du Bois has had the baseness to go back to France with­out me."’ In conclusion, she assures me, as you prognosticated she would, that I shall be sole heiress of all she is worth, when Lady Orville.

At tea-time, we were joined by all the gentle­men but Captain Mirvan, who went to the Ho­tel where he was to sleep, and made his daughter accompany him, to separate her trumpery, as he called it, from his cloaths.

As soon as they were gone, Mr. Lovel, who still appeared extremely sulky, said, ‘"I protest, I never saw such a vulgar, abusive fellow in my life, as that Captain: 'pon honour, I believe he [Page 278] came here for no purpose in the world but to pick a quarrel; however, for my part, I vow I won't humour him."’

‘"I declare,"’ cried Lady Louisa, ‘"he put me in a monstrous fright,—I never heard any body talk so shocking in my life!"’

‘"I think,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, with great so­lemnity, ‘"he threatened to box your ears, Mr. Lovel,—did not he?"’

‘"Really, Ma'am,"’ said Mr. Lovel, colour­ing, ‘"if one was to mind every thing those low kind of people say,—one should never be at rest for one impertinence or other,—so I think the best way is to be above taking any notice of them."’

‘"What,"’ said Mrs. Selwyn, with the same gravity, ‘"and so receive the blow in silence!"’

During this discourse, I saw the Captain's chaise drive up to the gate, and ran down stairs to meet Maria. She was alone, and told me, that her father, who, she was sure, had some scheme in agitation against Mr. Lovel, had sent her on before him. We continued in the garden till his return, and were joined by Lord Orville, who begged me not to insist on a patience so unnatu­ral, as submitting to be excluded our society. And let me, my dear Sir, with a grateful heart, let me own, I never before passed half an hour in such perfect felicity.

I believe we were all sorry when we saw the Captain return; yet his inward satisfaction, from however different a cause, did not seem inferior to what ours had been. He chucked Maria un­der the chin, rubbed his hands, and was scarce able to contain the fullness of his glee. We all attended him to the drawing-room, where, hav­ing composed his countenance, without any pre­vious [Page 279] attention to Mrs. Beaumont, he marched up to Mr. Lovel, and abruptly said, ‘"Pray have you ever a brother in these here parts?"’

‘"Me, Sir?—no, thank Heaven, I'm free from all incumbrances of that sort."’

‘"Well,"’ cried the Captain, ‘"I met a person just now, so like you, I could have sworn he had been your twin-brother."’

‘"It would have been a most singular pleasure to me,"’ said Mr. Lovel, ‘"if I also could have seen him; for, really, I have not the least notion what sort of a person I am, and I have a prodigi­ous curiosity to know."’

Just then, the Captain's servant opening the door, said, ‘"A little gentleman below desires to see one Mr. Lovel."’

‘"Beg him to walk up stairs,"’ said Mrs. Beau­mont. ‘"But pray what is the reason William is out of the way?"’

The man shut the door without any answer.

‘"I can't imagine who it is,"’ said Mr. Lovel; ‘"I recollect no little Gentleman of my acquaint­ance now at Bristol,—except, indeed, the Mar­quis of Carlton,—but I don't much fancy it can be him. Let me see, who else is there so very little?"—’

A confused noise among the servants now drew all eyes towards the door; the impatient Captain hastened to open it, and then, clapping his hands, called out, ‘"'Fore George, 'tis the same per­son I took for your relation!"’

And then, to the utter astonishment of every body but himself, he hauled into the room a monkey! full dressed, and extravagantly à-la-mode!

The dismay of the company was almost gene­ral. Poor Mr. Lovel seemed thunderstruck with [Page 280] indignation and surprise; Lady Louisa began a scream, which for some time was incessant; Miss Mirvan and I jumped involuntarily upon the seats of our chairs; Mrs. Beaumont herself followed our example; Lord Orville placed himself before me as a guard; and Mrs. Selwyn, Lord Merton, and Mr. Coverley, burst into a loud, immode­rate, ungovernable fit of laughter, in which they were joined by the Captain, till, unable to sup­port himself, he rolled on the floor.

The first voice which made its way thro' this general noise, was that of Lady Louisa, which her fright and screaming rendered extremely shrill. ‘"Take it away!"’ cried she, ‘"take the mon­ster away,—I shall faint, I shall faint if you don't!"’

Mr. Lovel, irritated beyond endurance, an­grily demanded of the Captain what he meant?"

‘"Mean?"’ cried the Captain, as soon as he was able to speak, ‘"why only to shew you in your proper colours."’ Then rising, and pointing to the monkey, ‘"Why now, Ladies and Gen­tlemen, I'll be judged by you!—Did you ever see any thing more like? Odds my life, if it was n't for this here tail, you would n't know one from t'other."’

‘"Sir,"’ cried Mr. Lovel, stamping, ‘"I shall take a time to make you feel my wrath."’

‘"Come, now,"’ continued the regardless Cap­tain, ‘"just for the fun's sake, doff your coat and waistcoat, and swop with Monsieur Grinagain here, and I'll warrant you'll not know yourself which is which."’

‘"Not know myself from a monkey?—I assure you, Sir, I'm not to be used in this manner, and I won't bear it,—curse me if I will!"’

[Page 281] ‘"Why heyday,"’ cried the Captain, ‘"what, is Master in a passion?—well, don't be angry,—come, he shan't hurt you;—here, shake a paw with him,—why he'll do you no harm, man!—come, kiss and friends!"—’

‘"Who I?"’ cried Mr. Lovel, almost mad with vexation, ‘"as I'm a living creature, I would not touch him for a thousand worlds!"’

‘"Send him a challenge,"’ cried Mr. Coverley, ‘"and I'll be your second."’

‘"Ay, do,"’ said the Captain, ‘"and I'll be second to my friend Monsieur Clapperclaw here. Come, to it at once!—tooth and nail!"’

‘"God forbid!"’ cried Mr. Lovel, retreating, ‘"I would sooner trust my person with a mad bull!"’

‘"I don't like the looks of him myself,"’ said Lord Merton, ‘"for he grins most horribly."’

‘"Oh I'm frightened out of my senses!"’ cried Lady Louisa, ‘"take him away, or I shall die!"’

‘"Captain,"’ said Lord Orville, ‘"the ladies are alarmed, and I must beg you would send the monkey away."’

‘"Why, where can be the mighty harm of one monkey more than another?"’ answered the Cap­tain; ‘howsomever, if it's agreeable to the ladies, suppose we turn them out together?"’

‘"What do you mean by that, Sir?"’ cried Mr. Lovel, lifting up his cane.

‘"What do you mean?"’ cried the Captain, fiercely: ‘be so good as to down with your cane."’

Poor Mr. Lovel, too much intimidated to stand his ground, yet too much enraged to submit, turn­ed hastily round, and, forgetful of consequences, vented his passion by giving a furious blow to the monkey.

The creature, darting forwards, sprung instant­ly upon him, and olinging round his neck, fasten­ed his teeth to one of his ears.

[Page 282] I was really sorry for the poor man, who, though an egregious fop, had committed no of­fence that merited such chastisement.

It was impossible, now, to distinguish whose screams were loudest, those of Mr. Lovel or the terrified Lady Louisa, who, I believe, thought her own turn was approaching: but the unrelent­ing Captain roared with joy.

Not so Lord Orville: ever humane, generous, and benevolent, he quitted his charge, whom he saw was wholly out of danger, and seizing the monkey by the collar, made him loosen the ear, and then, with a sudden swing, flung him out of the room, and shut the door.

Mr. Lovel was now a dreadful object; his face was besmeared with tears, the blood from his ear ran trickling down his cloaths, and he sunk upon the floor, crying out, ‘"Oh I shall die, I shall die!—Oh I'm bit to death!"’

‘"Captain Mirvan,"’ said Mrs. Beaumont, with no little indignation, ‘"I must own I don't perceive the wit of this action; and I am sorry to have such cruelty practised in my house."’

‘"Why, Lord, Ma'am,"’ said the Captain, when his rapture abated sufficiently for speech, ‘"how could I tell they'd fall out so?—by Jingo, I brought him to be a messmate for t'other."’

‘"Egad,"’ said Mr. Coverley, ‘"I would not have been served so for a thousand pounds!"’

‘"Why then there's the odds on't,"’ said the Cap­tain, ‘"for you see he is served so for nothing. But come,"’ (turning to Mr. Lovel,) ‘"be of good heart, all may end well yet, and you and Monsieur Longtail be as good friends as ever."’

‘"I'm surprised, Mrs. Beaumont,"’ cried Mr. Lovel, starting up, ‘"that you can suffer a per­son under your roof to be treated so inhumanly."’

‘"What argufies so many words?"’ said the [Page 283] unfeeling Captain, ‘"it is but a slit of the ear; it only looks as if you had been in the pillory."’

‘"Very true,"’ added Mrs. Selwyn, ‘and who knows but it may acquire you the credit of being an anti-ministerial writer?"’

‘"I protest,"’ cried Mr. Lovel, looking ruefully at his dress, ‘"my new riding-suit's all over blood!"’

‘"Ha, ha, ha!"’ cried the captain, ‘"see what comes of studying for an hour what you shall put on."’

Mr. Lovel then walked to the glass, and look­ing at the place, exclaimed, ‘"Oh Heaven, what a monstrous wound! my ear will never be fit to be seen again!"’

‘"Why then,"’ said the Captain, ‘"you must hide it;—'tis but wearing a wig."’

‘"A wig!"’ repeated the affrighted Mr. Lovel, ‘"I wear a wig?—no, not if you would give me a thousand pounds an hour!"’

‘"I declare,"’ said Lady Louisa, ‘"I never heard such a shocking proposal in my life!"’

"Lord Orville then, seeing no prospect that the altercation would cease, proposed to the Cap­tain to walk. He assented; and having given Mr. Lovel a nod of exultation, accompanied his Lordship down stairs.

‘"'Pon honour,"’ said Mr. Lovel, the moment the door was shut, ‘"that fellow is the greatest brute in nature! he ought not to be admitted into a civilized society."’

‘"Lovel,"’ said Mr. Coverley, affecting to whisper, ‘"you must certainly pink him: you must not put up with such an affront."’

‘"Sir,"’ said Mr. Lovel, ‘"with any common person, I should not deliberate an instant; but, re­ally, with a fellow who has done nothing but fight all his life, 'pon honour, Sir, I can't think of it!"’

‘"Lovel,"’ said Lord Merton, in the same voice, ‘"you must call him to account."’

[Page 284] ‘"Every man,"’ said he, pettishly, ‘"is the best judge of his own affairs, and I don't ask the ho­nour of any person's advice."’

‘"Egad, Lovel,"’ said Mr. Coverley, ‘"you're in for it!—you can't possibly be off!"’

‘"Sir,"’ cried he, very impatiently, ‘"upon any proper occasion, I should be as ready to shew my courage as any body;—but as to fighting for such a trifle as this,—I protest I should blush to think of it!"’

‘"A trifle!"’ cried Mrs. Selwyn; ‘"good Hea­ven! and have you made this astonishing riot about a trifle?"’

‘"Ma'am,"’ answered the poor wretch, in great confusion, ‘"I did not know at first but that my cheek might have been bit:—but as 'tis no worse, why it does not a great deal signify. Mrs. Beau­mont, I have the honour to wish you a good even­ing; I'm sure my carriage must be waiting."’ And then, very abruptly, he left the room.

What a commotion has this mischief-loving Captain raised! Were I to remain here long, even the society of my dear Maria could scarce com­pensate for the disturbances he excites.

When he returned, and heard of his quiet exit, his triumph was intolerable. ‘"I think, I think,"’ cried he, ‘"I have peppered him well! I'll war­rant he won't give an hour to-morrow morning to settling what he shall put on; why his coat,"’ turn­ing to me, ‘"would be a most excellent match for old Madame Furbelow's best Lyons' silk. 'Fore George, I'd desire no better sport, than to have that there old cat here, to go her snacks!"’

All the company then, Lord Orville, Miss Mir­van, and myself excepted, played at cards, and we—oh how much better did we pass our time!"

While we were engaged in a most delightful conversation, a servant brought me a letter, which [Page 285] he told me had, by some accident, been mislaid. Judge my feelings, when I saw, my dearest Sir, your revered hand-writing! My emotions soon betrayed to Lord Orville whom the letter was from: the importance of the contents he well knew, and assuring me I should not be seen by the card-players, he besought me to open it with­out delay.

Open it, indeed, I did;—but read it I could not,—the willing, yet aweful consent you have granted,—the tenderness of your expressions,—the certainty that no obstacle remained to my eter­nal union with the loved owner of my heart, gave me sensations too various, and though joyful, too little placid for observation. Finding myself un­able to proceed, and blinded by the tears of gra­titude and delight which started into my eyes, I gave over the attempt of reading, till I retired to my own room: and, having no voice to an­swer the enquiries of Lord Orville, I put the let­ter into his hands, and left it to speak both for me and itself.

Lord Orville was himself affected by your kindness; he kissed the letter as he returned it, and, pressing my hand affectionately to his heart, ‘"You are now,"’ (said he, in a low voice) ‘"all my own! Oh my Evelina, how will my soul find room for its happiness?—it seems already burst­ing!"’ I could make no reply; indeed I hardly spoke another word the rest of the evening; so lit­tle talkative is the fullness of contentment.

O my dearest Sir, the thankfulness of my heart I must pour-forth at our meeting, when, at your feet, my happiness receives its confir­mation from your blessing, and when my noble­minded, my beloved Lord Orville, presents to you the highly-honoured and thrice-happy Evelina.

A few lines I will endeavour to write on Thurs­day, [Page 286] which shall be sent off express, to give you, should nothing intervene, yet more certain assu­rance of our meeting.

Now then, therefore, for the first—and probab­ly the last time I shall ever own the name, permit me to sign myself,

Most dear Sir,
Your gratefully affectionate, EVELINA BELMONT.

Lady Louisa, at her own particular desire, will be present at the ceremony, as well as Miss Mirvan and Mrs. Selwyn: Mr. Macartney will the same morning, unite himself with my foster-sister, and my father himself will give us both away.

LETTER XXXVII.
Mr. Villars to Evelina.

EVERY wish of my soul is now fulfilled—for the felicity of my Evelina is equal to her worthiness!

Yes, my child, thy happiness is engraved, in golden characters, upon the tablets of my heart! and their impression is indelible; for, should the rude and deep-searching hand of Misfortune at­tempt to pluck them from their repository, the fleeting fabric of life would give way, and in tear­ing from my vitals the nourishment by which they are supported, she would but grasp at a shadow insensible to her touch.

[Page 287] Give thee my consent?—Oh thou joy, comfort, and pride of my life, how cold is that word to express the fervency of my approbation! yes, I do indeed give thee my consent, and so thank­fully, that, with the humblest gratitude to Pro­vidence, I would seal it with the remnant of my days.

Hasten, then, my love, to bless me with thy presence, and to receive the blessings with which my fond heart overflows!—And, oh my Evelina, hear and assist in one only, humble, but ardent prayer which yet animates my devotions: that the height of bliss to which thou art rising may not render thee giddy, but that the purity of thy mind may form the brightest splendor of thy pros­perity!—and that the weak and aged frame of thy almost idolizing parent, nearly worn out by time, past afflictions, and infirmities, may yet be able to sustain a meeting with all its better part holds dear: and then, that all the wounds which the former severity of fortune inflicted, may be healed and purified by the ultimate consolation of pour­ing forth my dying words in blessings on my child!—closing these joy-streaming eyes in her pre­sence, and breathing my last faint sighs in her loved arms!

Grieve not, oh child of my care, grieve not at the inevitable moment; but may thy own end be equally propitious! Oh may'st thou when full of days, and full of honour, sink down as gently to rest,—be loved as kindly, watched as tenderly as thy happy father! And may'st thou, when thy glass is run, be sweetly but not bitterly mourned, by some remaining darling of thy affections,—some yet surviving Evelina!

ARTHUR VILLARS.

LETTER XXXVIII.
Evelina to the Rev. Mr. Villars.

ALL is over, my dearest Sir, and the fate of your Evelina is decided! This morning, with fearful joy, and trembling gratitude, she united herself for ever with the object of her dearest, her eternal affection!

I have time for no more; the chaise now waits which is to conduct me to dear Berry Hill, and to the arms of the best of men.

EVELINA.
FINIS.

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