In Two Volumes.
Printed for J. Dodsley, in Pall-mall.
To the Reader.
The writer of following ſheets was prevailed upon to make them public, by the Lady to whom they are addreſſed, who thought the conduct of Eliza, in ſome of the moſt trying circumſtances of life, would afford a uſeful leſſon for her ſex, and Vol. I. a whoſe iv A1v iv whoſe amiable character deſerved to be drawn from obſcurity. Thoſe—who read only for amuſement, will find themſelves diſappointed; if, in this little performance, they expect to meet with any of thoſe ſurpriſing turns of fortune, ſo eaſily created by the imagination, but which the judgment can never realize. The Hiſtory of Eliza is a narrative of facts, which gives the relator v A2r v relator no claim to the merit of invention; if the public is pleaſed with her manner of relating them, her expectations will be more than anſwered.The
The History of Eliza.
At laſt, Madam, I take up my pen to execute the taſk your Ladyſhip has long ſince impoſed upon me. You are not to impute this delay to any neglect of your command, or reluctance to enter upon the taſk itſelf, but to my fears of being unequal to it. Not that the character of the charming Eliza, which I have undertaken to give you, has any thing in it ſo intricate, or equivocal, as to require a more than ordinary Vol. I. B penetration 1002 B1v 2 penetration to unravel, or eloquence to diſplay; in her, all was ſimple, plain, open, undiſguiſed; her manners, like her wit, were the beautiful product of nature. But however clear my notions of her may be, yet, as I am not uſed to throw my thoughts upon paper, I am apprehenſive that I ſhall not be able to communicate them to you with a proper degree of conciſeneſs and perſpicuity.
Of the various fortunes to which her youth was expoſed, I am perhaps better qualified than any other, to inform your Ladyſhip, having been a witneſs to many of the facts I ſhall relate, and others I have either had from herſelf, 1003 B2r 3 herſelf, or her huſband, whoſe confidence I poſſeſs, and who has given me leave to communicate them to your Ladyſhip.
Since I am writing her hiſtory, then, I will begin with a deſcription of her perſon, concerning which, your Ladyſhip, like a true woman, is particularly inquiſitive; and here being a woman likewiſe, you will ſcarcely ſuſpect me of flattery, for however we may be biaſſed by friendſhip in other matters, in the article of beauty we ſeldom turn the ſcale.
Eliza cannot be called tall, her ſtature riſes a little, and but very little, above the middle ſize, nothing can be more beautifully turned than her B2 neck 1004 B2v 4 neck and ſhoulders; her figure has in it all that delicacy, that ſoftneſs, and elegance, which we admire in the Medicean Venus.
Your Ladyſhip has ſeen ſeveral pictures of Eliza, but there is not one of them that gives us a juſt idea of her perſon. That is true beauty, ſays La Bruyere, which no painter can expreſs. And how indeed can painting imitate the varied graces of a countenance, animated by the moſt ſprightly wit, and to which the ſofteſt ſenſibility of heart is perpetually lending new charms. Her eyes are the fineſt in the world, bright, yet languiſhing; tender, yet full of fire: Such is their powerful expreſſion, 1005 B3r 5 expreſſion, that it is ſcarce neceſſary for her to ſpeak; her ſmile is bewitching, and the tone of her voice ſo moving, that every thing ſhe ſays, goes directly to the heart.
With this beautiful perſon, with a mind adorned with every grace, and elevated by every virtue, Eliza was unfortunate, and how could it be otherwiſe? Since the ſituation ſhe was thrown into, and the perſons ſhe was connected with, made that beauty, and thoſe virtues, the cauſe of all her diſtreſſes, which, in other circumſtances would have proved a ſource of happineſs to her. Envy, armed with the authority of a mother in law, perſecuted her for that beauty, B3 which 1006 B3v 6 which ſhe was too little conſcious of, to find any conſolation in it for the ill uſage it expoſed her to.
To the deepeſt artifice ſhe had nothing to oppoſe, but candour and ſimplicity; to the moſt ſelfiſh deſigns, diſintereſtedneſs and generoſity; malevolence and fraud, ſhe combated with no other arms than gentleneſs and ſincerity; and every tyrannical exertion of power ſhe bore with ſo much patience and ſubmiſſion, as furniſhed continual opportunities of oppreſſing her.
The death of her mother happened when ſhe was about ſix years old; this Lady, who had been ſtolen from a boarding ſchool by Mr. B. the father of 1007 B4r 7 of Eliza, lived under the diſpleaſure of her parents, on account of this raſh action ſeveral years; at length they were reconciled to her, but would never ſee her huſband; and at their death, the fortune they left her, which was very conſiderable, was ſettled on her infant daughter.
Mr. B. though a man of pleaſure, thoughtleſs in his expences, diſſipated in his amuſements, and diſcontented at the great neglect that had been ſhewn him in the ſettlement of his wife’s fortune, yet took great care of his daughter’s education; the happy talents ſhe had received from nature were cultivated with extreme attention, and the improvements ſhe daily B4 made 1008 B4v 8 made in every uſeful ſtudy, as well as every polite accompliſhment, proved at once the force of her genius, and the intenſeneſs of her application.
At fifteen ſhe choſe her father for her guardian. This circumſtance, it was thought, facilitated his addreſſes to a neighbouring Lady, the widow of a Gentleman of conſiderable rank and fortune.
Nothing could happen more unfortunately for Eliza, than to have a woman of Mrs. Denby’s character enter her father’s houſe as the miſtreſs of his family. If any paſſion reigned more powerfully in her heart than avarice, it was envy, of which the virtuous and beautiful of her own ſex were 1009 B5r 9 were the more immediate objects: with what malignant eyes then muſt ſhe behold Eliza, already the admiration and love of all who knew her?
She brought with her a daughter about two years older than my friend, whoſe perſon was agreeable enough, but her mind was a perfect tranſcript of her mother’s. It is not always certain, that a ſimiliarity of manners produces a reciprocal affection. Mrs. Denby ſaw all her own qualities faithfully copied in her daughter, yet ſhe did not love her, Miſs Denby was young, her mother envied her an advantage, which, while ſhe poſſeſſed herſelf, ſhe made a very free uſe of: the 1010 B5v 10 the reſtraint ſhe kept her under, and which ſhe was deſirous ſhould paſs for an effect of her prudence, was born with great impatience by Miſs Denby, who judged truly of the motives, by which ſhe was actuated; for wicked people underſtand each other: it is only the virtuous that are deceived by them.
Eliza received her mother-in-law with reſpect, and her new ſiſter, with all that effuſion of heart, ſo natural to young perſons of good inclinations, who, judging of others by themſelves, can only be taught caution by long experience.
Miſs Denby, artificial, deſigning, crafty and malicious, repaid with a thouſand 1011 B6r 11 thouſand falſe profeſſions of friendſhip, the ſincere affection which Eliza, deceived by her plauſible behaviour, ſoon began to entertain for her. Miſs Denby, who had no idea of carrying kindneſs and generoſity farther than words, was pleaſingly ſurpriſed to find her new ſiſter, eager to ſeize every opportunity of ſhewing her regard for her by very ſolid proofs. Miſs Denby’s fortune was nearly equal to Eliza’s; but the avarice of her mother ſtinted her to a very ſmall allowance, which did not permit her to indulge her love of finery, which was exceſſive, and occaſioned her to make many a mortifying reflexion upon the difference of her appearance, and that of 1012 B6v 12 of Miſs B. who, although ſhe had thrown her fortune entirely into her father’s hands, was abſolutely unreſtrained in her expences.
Theſe expences, had hitherto, been rather proportioned to his love of parade, than to her own taſte; which, though elegant, was ſimple and modeſt; and, charmed to have it in her power to gratify the wiſhes of her friend, ſhe willingly retrenched what ſhe conceived to be ſuperfluous in her own dreſs, to ſupply Miſs Denby with ornaments of which ſhe ſeemed ſo fond, but was not permitted to purchaſe.
Theſe repeated inſtances of generoſity and tenderneſs, though they did not 1013 B7r 13 not produce gratitude or ſincerity in the heart of Miſs Denby, yet, acting upon the ſelfiſhneſs of her diſpoſition, increaſed her deſire of pleaſing her, in order to ſecure the continuance of them. She wiſhed to become neceſſary to her ſiſter, to be her confidant and ſhare her ſecrets; ſecrets however ſhe had none to communicate, her heart had indeed received a tender impreſſion, to which her innocence and inexperience had given the name of friendſhip, which, as ſhe had no motive for concealing, neither had ſhe hitherto had any opportunity of making known to Miſs Denby, for the object of this prepoſſeſſion ſhe had not yet ſeen.5 He 1014 B7v 14
He was a young Gentleman of a moſt engaging figure and fine accompliſhments, but whoſe ſituation was to the laſt degree perplexing and uneaſy. His father came very late in life to the poſſeſſion of a ſmall eſtate, encumbered with a mortgage, which almoſt ſwallowed it up: having made a match of inclination rather than prudence, he found his difficulties ſo preſſing, occaſioned by an increaſing family, that he was under a neceſſity of mortgaging the remainder of his little patrimony, in order to raiſe a ſum which he might throw into trade, hoping by that means to provide for his children.Mr. 1015 B8r 15
Mr. Harley, ſo he was called, having been bred to no buſineſs, was wholly ignorant of thoſe lucrative arts by which we often ſee great fortunes acquired; at the end of a few years, finding his circumſtances worſe than ever, diſappointment and grief brought on a nervous fever, of which he died, leaving a ſon, and three daughters, with no other ſupport, than what a ſmall ſettlement he had ſecured to his wife could afford them.
The perſon to whom he had mortgaged his eſtate was his near kinſman, a Baronet, poſſeſſed of five thouſand pounds a year; this gentleman was pretty far advanced in age when he married a young Lady, who brought him 1016 B8v 16 him a ſon; and his expences, which before were in no degree proportioned to his fortune, were now drawn into a narrower circle, either becauſe he thought it his duty to make his ſon a richer man than himſelf, or what is more likely, his natural diſpoſition to parſimony made him eagerly ſeize this poor excuſe for hoarding.
From a man of this character, the diſtreſt widow and her children had little aſſiſtance to expect, and indeed he ſuffered two years to elapſe without taking any notice of them: at the end of that time, he loſt both his wife and ſon, and a few weeks afterwards, Mrs. Harley ſaw his equipage ſtop at her door.A viſit 1017 C1r 17
A viſit from him in ſuch circumſtances, and after ſo total a neglect, could not fail to raiſe hopes, which his equivocal behaviour neither wholly confirmed, nor abſolutely repreſt. After ſome cool civilities, he deſired to ſee her children. She preſented her three daughters to him; her ſon was not yet returned from ſchool.
The Baronet in a careleſs manner deſired her to ſend for him, which ſhe immediately did. As ſoon as the boy entered the room, the anxious mother, who heedfully obſerved the old man’s countenance, perceived that he was ſtruck with his appearance. Young Harley was then about fourteen: the Vol. I. C elegance 1018 C1v 18 elegance of his figure, the vivacity of his look, and the eaſy politeneſs of his behaviour, drew from Sir William ſome involuntary expreſſions of approbation; he queſtioned him concerning his learning, and found him ſo far advanced in it, that he could not help teſtifying his ſurprize. After continuing ſome moments in a thoughtful ſilence, which the mother attended to with a beating heart, he ſuddenly roſe up, ſhook his young couſin by the hand, and, bidding him mind his ſtudies, gave him five guineas. He then took a formal leave of Mrs. Harley; and went away, leaving her full of doubts concerning the intention of this viſit, and alternately liſtening 1019 C2r 19 liſtening to the ſuggeſtions of hope and fear, according as her ſpirits were more or leſs depreſt.
A friend of her late huſband, a gentleman bred to the law, having taken ſome pains in examining the alliances of Sir William’s family, aſſured her that he knew of no perſon who had ſo good a claim to ſucceed to his title and eſtate, in caſe he died without iſſue, as young Harley: this circumſtance, ſo long as Sir William’s lady and ſon ſurvived, made little impreſſion on her mind; but when he was left a widower and childleſs, in an advanced age, and under increaſing infirmities, it became a ſubject of pleaſing reflexionC2 flexion 1020 C2v 20 flexion to her, and often contributed to ſoften her diſtreſs.
The Baronet’s unexpected viſit, and the pleaſure he diſcovered at finding her ſon ſo promiſing a youth, flattered her with hopes that he had ſome view to this event; but the ſmallneſs of his preſent, and the little ſolicitude he ſhewed concerning the means by which this hopeful youth was to be ſubſiſted and educated, left her but little reaſon to believe that he had any notion of his claim, or any deſign in his favour.
Three months having elapſed without hearing from him again, ſhe was beginning to reſign herſelf to deſpondency, when ſhe received a billet 1021 C3r 21 billet from him, couched in polite, though diſtant terms, in which he invited himſelf to dine with her, and appointed a day.
He was punctual to the time, and accoſted her with equal good breeding, but with more familiarity than in his firſt viſit: the boy he received with expreſſions of kindneſs that renewed all her hopes, which were ſtill more pleaſingly confirmed, when he gave her a direction to ſend for his taylor the next day, and to order ſeveral ſuits of cloaths for her ſon. Theſe he regulated himſelf, and were ſuch as were fit for a young man of faſhion. He then told her that he had determined to ſend him C3 to 1022 C3v 22 to an academy, which he named, and which ſhe knew was one of the genteeleſt in town; and deſired he would be ready to remove thither in a few days.
The widow’s heart overflowed with joy and gratitude. Young Harley returned his acknowledgments with modeſt dignity; the Baronet, after recommending it earneſtly to him to neglect none of thoſe means of improvement which he had now put in his power, added, In the mean time, your mother and I will conſider of ſome good trade to put you to, which will ſecure to you a decent livelihood.At 1023 C4r 23
At this ſtroke, ſo ſudden and unexpected, Mrs. Harley looked pale, trembled, and caſt down her eyes. Young Harley bluſhed; but, quickly recovering himſelf, replied that he had no inclination to learn any trade, but that he would willingly go into the army.
The army! exclaimed the Baro“net, how did that enter into your head? where will you raiſe money to purchaſe a commiſſion?
If I cannot purchaſe a commiſſion, replied the youth with great ſprightlineſs, I will endeavour to merit one.
I ſee you have read romances, ſaid Sir William; but we will talk no more of this at preſent; mind your C4 ſtudies, 1024 C4v 24 ſtudies, and leave the care of ſettling you to thoſe, who are wiſer than yourſelf.
Young Harley was going to reply, but his mother prevented him by a ſignificant look.
Sir William, when he took leave of Mrs. Harley, promiſed to ſend his ſteward in two or three days, to conduct her ſon to the academy, which he accordingly did.
The youth had reaſon to be contented with his reception. No part of a polite, as well as uſeful education was omitted. Sir William made him a decent allowance for pocket-money, and frequently called to ſee him. He likewiſe viſited Mrs. Harley ſometimes,times, 1025 C5r 25 times, but ſtill continued to torment her by his enigmatical behaviour.
At one time, he would conſult her with great ſeeming ſolicitude upon the fitteſt trade for her ſon; at another, he would talk of ſending him to travel, under the care of his chaplain. Sometimes he would drop hints of his intention to marry again; in a word, his whole conduct and diſcourſe were calculated to keep both her, and the youth, in continual ſuſpence concerning his intentions.
He had been three years at the academy, when Sir William, being ſeized with a fit of the gout, that confined him to his country-ſeat, ſent his poſt-chaiſe for him; and though he 1026 C5v 26 he appeared to deſign this only as a tranſient viſit, yet, after a ſtay of two months, he ſhewed no intention to ſend him back, but directed him to continue his ſtudies, under the tuition of his chaplain, a man of great learning and piety. Under his care he continued three years, at the end of which Sir William ſent him to make the polite tour, as it is called, with appointments little inferior to what he might have expected had he been his own ſon.
Mr. Irwin, ſo was the chaplain called, attended him in the quality of his governor, and filled every letter he wrote to the Baronet with praiſes of his young pupil, who, at his 1027 C6r 27 his return, more than confirmed the advantageous report he had made of him. On their arrival, they found the Baronet at his country-ſeat, labouring under his old diſtemper, the gout, which adding to the natural peeviſhneſs of his temper, he continued ſtill to mortify the poor youth with his ambiguous behaviour, and to leave him in doubt of his fate. Mr. Harley was now in his twentieth year, and often made ſerious reflexions upon his ſituation. The care Sir William had taken of his education, and the reſpect and conſideration with which he was treated, ſeemed to promiſe ſome future deſigns in his favour; but whatever theſe deſigns 1028 C6v 28 deſigns were, they were all liable to be fruſtrated, by the capriciouſneſs of his temper, and the unſteadineſs of his purpoſes. A ſtate of dependence appeared to his generous mind, an inſupportable ſlavery. Gratitude for the favours he had already received from Sir William, made him, upon all occaſions, anxious for his welfare, and ſolicitous to oblige him; but no conſideration whatever could force him to diſguiſe his ſentiments, to flatter the paſſions, adopt the reſentments, or fall in with the fantaſtic humours, of a peeviſh old man, who ſeemed to expect theſe compliances, as the price of his favour towards him.It 1029 C7r 29
It was not poſſible for him to entertain any elevated idea of the generoſity of a man, who could ſuffer his neareſt kinſman, poſſibly the legal heir to his fortune, to live in a mean dependence upon his bounty, while he withheld from him his little paternal inheritance, and kept him in ignorance of his future fortune. He often declared to his mother that he would rather carry a firelock, and by doing his duty, entitle himſelf to bread, than enjoy his preſent precarious affluence under the humiliating circumſtances of a dependant.
Mrs. Harley uſed every argument her good ſenſe could ſuggeſt, to perſuade him to wait patiently for the 1030 C7v 30 the event; but Mr. Harley became every day more uneaſy, and at length determined to put the Baronet’s kindneſs for him to a trial, by deſiring him to advance him a ſum of money to purchaſe a commiſſion in a regiment, which was ſoon to embark for one of the colonies, where he hoped to find oppportunities of diſtinguiſhing himſelf, and of riſing to a higher rank.
This, indeed, was the dream of youthful courage; for few riſe in the army, any more than in other departments of life, by merit alone.
While he was ruminating on this deſign, an accident happened, which prevented him from putting it in execution, 1031 C8r 31 execution, and for a time ſuſpended all thoughts of it.
Riding out to take the air one morning, a chariot paſſed him, in which was a young lady, who, by a ſingle glance, raiſed an emotion in his heart, which he had never felt before. Your ladyſhip will not wonder at this ſo ſudden impreſſion, when I tell you that it was Eliza whom he ſaw. He rode on for ſome moments, his imagination filled with the charming figure, that like a viſion had vaniſhed from his eyes, when, turning to have another view of the chariot, he perceived the horſes floundering in a brook, which, by the great rains that had fallen, was ſo ſwelled as to become 1032 C8v 32 become impaſſible, and the carriage in the utmoſt danger of being overſet.
Mr. Harley galloped haſtily to the place, and, aſſiſted by his ſervant, ſoon diſingaged the chariot: Eliza, half dead with terror, yet was capable of obſerving the officious zeal with which the young ſtranger laboured for her ſafety: the natural ſweetneſs and benevolence of her looks, heightened by gratitude, made her appear ſo charming on this nearer view, that the youth, loſt in aſtoniſhment and delight, kept his eyes fixed on her face, with an attention that threw her into ſome confuſion; but, recovering herſelf, ſhe expreſſed her 2 acknow- 1033 D1r 33 acknowledgments for the ſervice he had done her, in the moſt engaging manner imaginable, and aſſured him with a ſweet ſimplicity, that ſhe would never forget her obligations to him.
Mr. Harley begged he might be permitted to attend her home; and, without waiting for her anſwer, rode on with the chariot.
They reached her father’s houſe in leſs than a quarter of an hour, during which time he had ſtolen many a glance, which always diſcovered to him ſomething new to admire in her.
He alighted to give her his hand when ſhe came out of the chariot; Vol. I. D and, 1034 D1v 34 and, taking a reſpectful leave of her, returned home.
Sir William, upon his relating the adventure to him, and naming her father, which was all the information he had received from the enquiry he had made, pleaſingly ſurprized him, by ſaying that he knew Mr. B. having often met him in company; and that ſince he was come to live ſo near him, he would be glad to make up an acquaintance with him, adding, We will take a ride there this evening, and enquire how the young lady does after her fright.
Mr. Harley, without attending to the motive by which he was actuated, dreſt 1035 D2r 35 dreſt himſelf for this viſit with more than uſual care.
Mr. B. received Sir William with great politeneſs; and by the acknowledgments he made young Harley for the aſſiſtance he had afforded his daughter, it was eaſy to perceive the young lady had not leſſened the merit of it.
Eliza did not appear; but Mr. Harley had the ſatisfaction to hear ſhe was well, and to find the foundation of an intimacy laid between the old gentlemen, which promiſed him many opportunities of ſeeing her.
In this hope he was not deceived. Sir William, and Mr. B. paſſed moſt of the afternoons at each others D2 houſes, 1036 D2v 36 houſes, playing at cheſs, a game in which the Baronet delighted: Mr. Harley always accompanied him in his viſit to Mr. B. and while they were engaged, uſed to have the pleaſure of entertaining Eliza as ſhe ſat at work in the room.
Their converſation, however, always turned upon indifferent ſubjects; that awe which a ſincere paſſion always inſpires, prevented him from declaring his ſentiments: and feeling now more forcibly than ever, all the diſadvantages of his dependent ſituation, he thought it preſumption to hope for more than her friendſhip, which indeed he neglected no means of acquiring.The 1037 D3r 37
The favourable impreſſions his firſt behaviour had made on her, increaſed in proportion, as ſhe gained a fuller knowledge of his amiable qualities; and, although he carefully avoided ſaying any thing that might give her reaſon to ſuſpect he was her lover: yet his conduct towards her had all that tender ſolicitude, that deſire of pleaſing, that extreme attention, which characteriſes a violent paſſion, and inſenſibly won her affection, while it ſeemed only to demand her friendſhip.
He delayed from time to time his application to Sir William for a commiſſion, perſuading himſelf that he waited only for a favourable opportunity,D3 tunity, 1038 D3v 38 tunity, and unwilling to acknowledge to himſelf, that, though he loved without hope, he was not able to bear abſence.
When Mr. B. brought home his ſecond lady, Sir William and his young kinſman had made a ſmall excurſion to a nobleman’s ſeat at ſome diſtance, where they ſtaid a fortnight.
Mr. Harley never found any period of time ſo tedious; and Eliza felt an unuſual languor, which the hurry of receiving her mother-in-law, and the parade of viſits and entertainments that followed her arrival, could not entirely diſſipate.Mr. 1039 D4r 39
Mr. B. had kept his deſign of a ſecond marriage ſo ſecret, that none of his acquaitance had any ſuſpicion of it. When the news firſt reached Mr. Harley, he was overwhelmed with concern, a proof, that, unperceived by himſelf, he had entertained a certain degree of hope; for it is the melancholy privilege of deſpair to fear nothing worſe.
He, however, was full of apprehenſions and inquietude; and when Sir William propoſed making the new-married couple a viſit, he eagerly prepared to attend him, but it was with a kind of uneaſineſs and oppreſſion of heart, which he had D4 never 1040 D4v 40 never before experienced ſo near the ſight of the object of his affections.
When the ſervant announced theſe viſitors, Eliza, who had never mentioned Mr. Harley to her ſiſter before, now told her in a whiſper, that he was a very ſenſible young man, and had a thouſand amiable qualities.
Miſs Denby, who had been lying in wait for a diſcovery of her ſentiments, fancied ſhe had now made one, and only anſwered her by a certain ſignificant ſmile, which Eliza, not comprehending her meaning, took no notice of.
It is ſcarce poſſible to have an idea of a more ſudden and more violent paſſion 1041 D5r 41 paſſion, than that which ſeized the heart of this young lady at the ſight of Mr. Harley; in one and the ſame inſtant, ſhe was in love and jealous; her eyes wandered inceſſantly from Eliza to him, ſhe was afraid of a glance eſcaping her. Eliza, all ſweet ſimplicity, took no pains to conceal the pleaſure his converſation gave her.
Mr. Harley, already alarmed at the ſcrutinizing looks of Miſs Denby, behaved with more caution than uſual, ſo that ſhe eaſily perſuaded herſelf, becauſe ſhe wiſhed it, that there was no particular connexion between them, though ſhe more than ſuſpected 1042 D5v 42 ſuſpected that Eliza was but too favourably diſpoſed towards it.
Although ſhe was full of impatience to learn Mr. Harley’s ſituation and expectations, yet, crafty by nature, and always acting under a diſguiſe, ſhe would not openly make any enquiries of Miſs B. but drew from her, by ſly, and in appearance caſual queſtions, all the information ſhe could give her concerning him.
She found he was dependent, and this knowledge increaſed her hopes; her fortune was conſiderable, and when ſhe attained the age of twenty-one, was entirely at her own diſpoſal; ſhe ſaw no obſtacle to the ſucceſs of her wiſhes, 1043 D6r 43 wiſhes, therefore ſhe took no pains to ſuppreſs them.
Every art of coquettry ſhe now practiſed, in order to engage Mr. Harley’s attention; but he needed not ſo powerful a guard againſt her allurements, as his paſſion for Eliza: by nature open and generous, he hated the artificial character of Miſs Denby; though her features were regular enough, yet they bore the characteriſtick of her heart; her eyes had frequently a malignant caſt, and even her ſmiles were malicious.
Mr. Harley perceived the pains ſhe was at to attract him, and even the impreſſion he had made on her; and, either becauſe he was naturally gallant, 1044 D6v 44 gallant, or that he conceived a particular civility was due to a young lady who ſo openly diſtinguiſhed him, he uſed to ſay things obliging enough to her, which ſhe would receive with ſuch apparent tranſport, as made him ſuddenly recollect himſelf, fearing he had gone too far; and then his behaviour was proportionably cold and diſtant.
This inequality in his manners, kept her in continual inquietude; her jealouſy revived, and her penetration became more acute.
She obſerved his eyes often fixed upon Eliza with a tender languor, and a ſigh, half ſmothered, ſteal from his 1045 D7r 45 his boſom, when he was interrupted in this ſilent contemplation.
He never indeed ſeemed to ſeek for opportunities of being alone with her; but ſhe perceived that every word, every motion of hers intereſted him, and often, when he appeared abſorbed in reflexion, and wholly regardleſs of every thing that paſſed, the ſound of her voice would in an inſtant rouſe him to attention.
ButBut nothing perplexed her more than Eliza’s apparent tranquillity, which ſhe imagined could only proceed from a certainty of her being beloved. All her vigilance could not diſcover the leaſt traces of a correſpondence flawed-reproduction1 line aroſe 1046 D7v 46 aroſe that certainty? She was determined to try if it was poſſible to make her jealous; and having one day, by her coquet airs, engaged Mr. Harley in a particular converſation, during which ſhe almoſt extorted from him ſome compliments, vague enough, but which were ſufficientſufficient to anſwer her purpoſe, when ſuddenly leaving him with a lively air, ſhe ſaid, ſo loud as to be heard by Eliza, who was talking with Sir William, You are the greateſt flatterer in the world, I will liſten to you no longer.
Mr. Harley a flatterer! interrupted Eliza with a little emotion, and turning to look on him. Miſs Denby, who ſaw her curioſity was raiſed, 1047 D8r 47 raiſed, had all ſhe wanted for the preſent, and therefore quickly changed the diſcourſe; but ſhe had the pleaſure to obſerve that Eliza was more penſive than uſual the remainder of the evening.
When they were alone, ſhe purpoſely avoided ſpeaking of Mr. Harley, in order to oblige her to begin a converſation concerning him herſelf; and poor Miſs B. who could not account for the ſtrange uneaſineſs ſhe felt in her mind, after two or three fruitleſs attempts to introduce one, at laſt aſked her bluſhing, why ſhe had accuſed Mr. Harley of being a flatterer: Have you any reaſon, ſaid ſhe, to think him inſincere?Why 1048 D8v 48
Why really, my dear, replied Miſs Denby, careleſsly, I am not vain enough to believe all he ſays to me is true.
Eliza now caſt down her eyes, and ſighed—
I fear I have done miſchief, ſaid the crafty Miſs Denby, obſerving her heedfully, you are jealous, ſiſter.
I jealous! repeated Eliza, ſurprized to find ſuch a name given to the emotions ſhe felt, I have no right to be jealous, Mr. Harley is no lover of mine.
No, nor of mine neither, ſaid Miſs Denby, notwithſtanding— here ſhe pauſed maliciouſly.Why 1049 E1r 49
Why do you not go on? ſaid the innocent Eliza, If Mr. Harley has given you reaſon to believe he is in love with you, why do you not own it?
Why ſhould I own it my dear? replied Miſs Denby, laughing. But, to be ſincere with you, it is my opinion this young man talks of love to every woman he ſees.
He never did to me, ſaid Eliza.
Miſs Denby could with difficulty conceal her joy at this frank declaration, of the truth of which, ſhe had not the leaſt doubt, having had many opportunities of obſerving Eliza’s extremeI. E treme 1050 E1v 50 treme ſincerity, a quality for which ſhe deſpiſed her in her heart.
Impatient to indulge thoſe agreeable reveries, which her newly-revived hopes had inſpired, ſhe put an end to the converſation, and retired to her own apartment, leaving Miſs B. abſorbed in a melancholly, for which ſhe, herſelf, was unnable to aſſign a cauſe.
Mr. Harley now found himſelf, more than ever, expoſed to the attacks of Miſs Denby, which would have afforded him ſome diverſion, if the alteration in Eliza’s behaviour, had not alarmed him too much, to leave his attention free, to any thing elſe.
Her looks were cold and reſerved; ſhe ſeemed ſolicitous to avoid him, 2 and 1051 E2r 51 and when he engaged in converſation with her, he no longer found, that ſoftneſs in her accent, that air of kindneſs in her language, which uſed to go to his heart.
In vain he endeavoured to penetrate into the cauſe of this ſudden alteration, an alteration which Eliza, herſelf, was not ſenſible of, but the involuntary effect of jealouſy, the torments of which ſhe was continually ſuffering, without knowing the nature of her diſeaſe.
The poor youth having no right to complain, or to ſeek an explanation; for though cold and diſtant, ſhe was ſtill polite to him; fatigued with the importunate coquetry of Miſs E2 Denby, 1052 E2v 52 Denby, and pierced to the ſoul by the ſcornful looks of Eliza, reſolved to refrain from viſits, which were once a ſource of delight to him, and now the cauſe of endleſs regrets. He pretended indiſpoſition, to excuſe himſelf from accompanying the Baronet, who took more pleaſure than ever in the ſociety of Mr. B. from a motive, which at that time, he either did not ſuſpect, or cared not to examine into.
The account of Mr. Harley’s indiſpoſition, was heard with apparent concern by Eliza; by Miſs Denby, with an indifference, which ſhe was far from feeling. At length Mr. Harley, finding it impoſſible to abſtainſtain 1053 E3r 53 ſtain from ſeeing Miſs B. while he continued ſo near her, and having no hope of conquering his fatal inclination, but by abſence, ſuddenly reaſſumed his old deſign of going abroad; and to ſpare himſelf any farther ſtruggles with his own heart, which, but too often, reminded him of the difficulty of leaving her he loved, as ſuddenly made known his deſire to Sir William, who had good reaſon to be ſurpriſed at the modeſty of his requeſt, conſidering the expectations he might reaſonably have indulged.
The Baronet, however, without explaining himſelf, told him coldly, that he had other views for him, E3 and 1054 E3v 54 and deſired he would lay aſide all thoughts of the army.
Mr. Harley, with ſome difficulty, ſuppreſſing his reſentment at this ungenerous reſerve, ſhewed no ſolicitude to know, what theſe views were; but anſwered frankly, that, his inclinations having taken that bent, he perceived he ſhould not be happy if they were not complyed with.
The Baronet was angry; but had judgment enough to conſider, that the manner in which he acted towards this youth, left him no pretention to exert any authority over him; therefore, he contented himſelf with telling him, that he was too young, yet, to know what would make him happy; 1055 E4r 55 happy; and haſtily quitted him, to prevent any reply.
Mr. Harley, made deſperate by the loſs of Eliza’s favour, was determined to go abroad, though without the Baronet’s conſent. One expedient, however, for obtaining it, ſuddenly preſented itſelf, and which was, perhaps, ſuggeſted by a ſecret wiſh, of knowing how the news of his departure, would be received by Miſs B.
The great intimacy that ſubſiſted between Sir William and her father, made it probable, that he might prove a ſucceſsful mediator in his behalf. That ſame day he went to his E4 houſe, 1056 E4v 56 houſe, in order to ſolicit his good offices.
His unexpected appearance, after an abſence of three weeks, produced an emotion in the heart of Eliza, that quickly communicated itſelf to her countenance; her bluſhes and apparent confuſion, did not eſcape his obſervation; he gazed on her with a mixture of tenderneſs and delight; and fancying he now ſaw in her looks, ſome part of her former ſoftneſs and ſenſibility towards him, he forgot the deſign which had brought him thither, and for ſome moments reſigned himſelf up, to the pleaſing hope, that he was not indifferent to her.But 1057 E5r 57
But Eliza, having recovered her firſt ſurpriſe; and the pleaſure of ſeeing him again, being ſucceeded by the reflection of his attachment to Miſs Denby, to whoſe account ſhe placed this viſit; relapſed into her former coldneſs and reſerve.
Mr. Harley, again thrown into deſpair, took the firſt opportunity of being alone with Mr. B. to tell him the ſcheme he had formed; and intreated him to ſupport his requeſt with Sir William, who, he knew, would pay a proper attention to any thing offered by him.
Mr. B. who, as well as every other perſon, that knew any thing of the Baronet’s affairs, conſidered this young man 1058 E5v 58 man as his deſigned heir, was aſtoniſhed at his propoſal, and treated it as an effect of youthful extravagance; and though Mr. Harley explained his ſituation to him, he could not be brought to approve of it, but uſed every argument his good ſenſe, and knowledge of the world, could ſuggeſt to him, to prevail upon him to wait patiently for the Baronet’s determination, and not to throw away ſuch great expectations, through a miſtaken delicacy, and romantic notion of honour.
Mr. Harley heard his admonitions with reſpect; but ſhewed, in his anſwers, a reſolution not to be ſhaken; and Mr. B. thought he could perceiveceive 1059 E6r 59 ceive that this reſolution was ſuggeſted to him by ſome ſecret uneaſineſs, which ſat nearer his heart than the precarious condition of his fortune.
He ventured to ſound him a little upon this head; but, finding him impenetrable, he ceaſed to preſs him any farther.
Mr Harley went away without ſeeing the ladies again, to the great mortification of Miſs Denby, who had juſt returned from a viſit, and hearing he was with Mr. B. expected every moment to ſee him enter the room.
M.Mr. B. being laid under no injunctions of ſecrecy, made no ſcruple to tell his family 1060 E6v 60 family what had paſſed, between young Harley and him, not without ſome ſevere reflections upon the Baronet’s ſtrange treatment of a youth ſo nearly related to him.
If he deſigns him for his heir, ſaid he, why does he ungenerouſly keep him in doubt of his intention? and if that be not his deſign, why does he not procure him ſome eſtabliſhment, ſuitable to his birth, and the education he has given him?
Mrs. B. thought this a ridiculous pretention. Is a man’s doing a great deal for a perſon, ſaid ſhe, an obligation upon him, to do more? The youth will have reaſon to be ſatisfied, 1061 E7r 61 ſatisfied, if, after all the expence his kinſman has been at in his education, he ſhould alſo purchaſe him a commiſſion; if he goes abroad, he may poſſibly make his fortune.
Eliza liſtened to this diſcourſe with an anxious heart, but kept her ſeat, and ſaid not a word; as for Miſs Denby, her emotions might have betrayed the intereſt ſhe took in it, had ſhe not haſtily retired to her own chamber.
Her firſt reflections were full of grief and anxiety; ſhe ſaw herſelf upon the point of being ſeparated for ever, from the perſon ſhe loved; the precarious condition of his fortune left 1062 E7v 62 left her no room to hope, that her mother would countenance her affection; and ſhe was ſtill under her controul, as ſhe wanted a full year of being of age: while, on the other hand, the deſperate reſolution Mr. Harley had formed, made it neceſſary for her, to explain herſelf immediately. Were it in her power, to offer her fortune with her hand, ſhe might well hope, ſuch a prize would dazzle him; as it was, if he had the leaſt ſenſibility, he could not fail, of being moved, both with her generoſity, and the advantages it brought him; ſhe reſolved therefore to write to him, and declare her ſentiments.The 1063 E8r 63
The impropriety, and even indecency of this ſtep, ſo contrary to the natural delicacy, and reſerve of her ſex, coſt her not a moment’s regret; all her concern was for the ſucceſs of it. Without further reflection, ſhe ſat down to her bureau, and wrote a billet, in the ſtyle of thoſe flimſy novels, with which ſhe had corrupted her taſte, as well as her manners. I have a copy of it lying before me, which I ſhall tranſcribe:
Deſpair not, dear youth; love is your friend, and will not permit you to ſeek, in a barbarous country, that fortune which you ſo well merit to enjoy in your own. You cannot ſee my bluſhes; therefore I will 1064 E8v 64 will own my paſſion; but, alas, you know it already, my eyes have but too often declared it—Think no more of going abroad; ten thouſand pounds await you, and the hand of
Bring your anſwer yourſelf, to morrow-evening; you will find me, at ſix o’clock, in the grove, behind our houſe.
This billet Miſs Denby diſpatched to Mr. Harley, by her mother’s footman, whoſe ſecreſy, ſhe ſuppoſed, ſhe could ſecure by a ſmall bribe, with orders to deliver it into his own hands, but not to wait for an anſwer.All 1065 F1r 65
All her thoughts were now employed, in forming ſchemes, to elude the vigilance of her mother, and anticipating the pleaſures of an elopement. She could not endure the leaſt interruption in theſe agreeable reveries; and that ſhe might be at liberty to indulge them, ſhe paſt the greateſt part of the day in her own chamber, under pretence of finiſhing a piece of embroidery.
Eliza, however, could not be excluded; but the melancholy that appeared in her countenance, was a new foundation of triumph to her.
When the hour approached, in which ſhe had appointed Mr. Harley to meet her, ſhe eaſily diſengaged Vol. I. F herſelf 1066 F1v 66 herſelf from her incurious ſiſter; and haſtened to the grove, anxiouſly counting the moments, and liſtening with a beating heart to every noiſe; one while ſhe was employed in ſetting her looks to a gentle languiſhment, which ſhe conceived was highly ſuitable to the occaſion; then ſhe thought a baſhful air and down-caſt eyes, would beſt become her: ſhe even conned over the ſpeech, with which ſhe intended to accoſt him— unconſcious of the ſecret ſpy that watched her motions, and was ſilently enjoying all the ridicule in her behaviour.
This ſpy was Eliza’s maid, a young woman of diſcernment and ſpirit; ſhe loved 1067 F2r 67 loved her miſtreſs, and had, by her natural ſagacity, diſcovered the ſecret inclination ſhe bore to Mr. Harley, as well as his paſſion for her, which indeed was more obvious.
Miſs Denby’s coquettry had not eſcaped her notice, and ſhe never doubted, but the coldneſs there had been for ſome time, between her young lady and Mr. Harley, was an effect of Miſs Denby’s artifices; the melancholly in which ſhe ſaw Eliza plunged, increaſed her concern for her, and hatred of Miſs Denby.
She was in this diſpoſition of mind, when the footman, whom Miſs Denby had made the bearer of her letter, F2 and 1068 F2v 68 and who was her ſweetheart, told her in confidence, the buſineſs he had been employed in. Betty, after this intelligence, kept a watchful eye upon Miſs Denby; and ſeeing her walk alone into the grove, followed her unobſerved, and was a witneſs of her grimace.
The hour was now paſt, and Mr. Harley not appearing, Miſs Denby began to grow impatient, reſtleſs, and at laſt angry; theſe different emotions appeared plainly in her countenance, and although alone, ſhe could not forbear uttering ſome exclamations of ſurpriſe and vexation. At laſt a man appeared at ſome diſtance. Miſs Deny, once more, practiſed her looks, 1069 F3r 69 looks, and advanced to meet him full of pleaſing expectation; but, on a nearer view, ſhe perceived it was not Mr. Harley, but a ſervant of the family, who approached reſpectfully, and preſented her a letter, telling her he was ordered to deliver it into her own hands, and was going to her houſe for that purpoſe, if he had not met her there.
And who told you, ſaid Miſs Denby, glowing with rage, at this un-thought-of diſappointment, that you would find me here?
Mr. Harley “ madam, ſaid the young man bid me come this way, in hopes of meeting you, as you generally took your evening’s walk here.F3 Miſs 1070 F3v 70
Miſs Denby made no reply, but turned away with a dreadful frown, and haſtily breaking the ſeal, read the following mortifying anſwer to her tender billet.
If I could have returned ſuch an anſwer, as your merit, and the generous offer you have made me of your hand, gave you a right to expect, I would myſelf have been the bearer of thoſe grateful acknowledgements, which I now preſume to offer you. My fate is determined, Madam; in a few weeks I ſhall quit my country, perhaps for ever. It is not ſo much the precarious ſituation of my fortune,“tune, 1071 F4r 71 tune, as an unhappy paſſion that forces me into exile. I love without hope, nay almoſt, without the deſire of ſucceſs; ſo utterly unworthy do I know myſelf, of the object of my affections. Hate me not Madam, for this frank declaration, but pity and pardompardon me.
While Miſs Denby was reading this letter, Betty, who was near enough to obſerve the angry paſſions it excited, by the frequent changes of her countenance, felt an eager curioſity to know the contents; this, however, ſhe could not hope to gratify, but ſhe was reſolved to add to her confuſion,F4 ſion, 1072 F4v 72 ſion, by ſhewing herſelf at this unlucky moment.
Miſs Denby, hearing the ſound of her ſteps, ſuddenly looked up, and ſhuffling the letter in her pocket, aſked her, in a haughty tone, what ſhe did there? Betty replied, with a pert humility, that ſhe hoped there was no harm in taking a little walk; to which Miſs Denby made no anſwer, but by a frown, and paſſed on towards the houſe.
She was ſcarce got out of ſight, when the wench, turning to look after her, perceived the letter lying on the ground; ſhe ſnatched it up, and read it with eager haſte, bleſſing her ſtars for the lucky accident, that had put 1073 F5r 73 put her in poſſeſſion of a ſecret of ſuch importance.
Not doubting but her lady was the perſon, for whom Mr. Harley, in this letter, profeſſed ſo tender and reſpectful a paſſion, ſhe longed to communicate ſo agreeable a piece of intelligence; and had ſcarce patience to wait for a proper opportunity, which, however, did not offer, till ſhe was ſummoned by Eliza, to aſſiſt her in undreſſing.
Eliza was wholly abſorbed in melancholy, which Betty obſerving, congratulated herſelf on having the means of curing it. Here is a paper, Madam, ſaid ſhe, taking it open out of her pocket, which concerns “Miſs 1074 F5v 74 Miſs Denby, and, if I am not miſtaken, you.
Eliza, perceiving immediately that the hand writing was Mr. Harley’s, received it with trembling emotion. The firſt lines ſufficiently explained the occaſion on which it was written, and filled her with an extreme ſurpriſe, at the ungenerous artifice of Miſs Denby, who had taken ſuch pains to make her believe that ſhe had rejected the addreſſes of a man, whom ſhe offered herſelf to, and was refuſed.
When ſhe came to that part, in which he mentioned a hopeleſs paſſion, a ſudden bluſh overſpread her face: notwithſtanding the reſerve with which 1075 F6r 75 which ſhe had been uſed to think of Mr. Harley, ſhe could not forbear making the application to herſelf; a thouſand tender ideas roſe in her mind, and kept her for ſome moments ſilent, with her eyes fixed on thoſe pleaſing words, which removed, as it were by enchantment, that oppreſſive uneaſineſs, under which ſhe had ſo long laboured. Bluſhing at length for her own ſenſibility, and reflecting on the dangerous ſecret this letter contained with regard to Miſs Denby, ſhe had the generoſity to be concerned for her, and aſked her maid, in a tone that ſhewed ſhe was not pleaſed with her officiouſneſs, how the letter came into her poſſeſſion?Betty 1076 F6v 76
Betty gave her an exact account of it, with only one ſmall deviation from the truth; for ſhe pretended ſhe was in the grove by accident, and ſaw Miſs Denby drop the letter.
You ought to have followed her, ſaid Eliza, and have given her back the letter, without preſuming to look into it. I too, added ſhe, have been to blame in reading it; but when you gave it me, I did not perceive it was a letter directed to my ſiſter; however, I charge you, as you value my favour, never to mention the contents to any perſon in the world; in the next place, we muſt contrive ſome way to reſtore it to her, without“out 1077 F7r 77 out letting her have the mortification to know that we have ſeen it.
You are too good, Madam, ſaid Betty. Miſs Denby would not act ſo by you, I know ſhe has endeavoured to make miſchief, and is the cauſe of your looking ſo unkindly upon poor Mr. Harley of late.
Have I looked unkindly upon Mr. Harley? ſaid Eliza, (melting at the thought) but what is this to the purpoſe? reſumed ſhe, recollecting herſelf—I inſiſt upon this letter’s being reſtored to my ſiſter.
Well, Madam, ſaid Betty, ſnatching up the letter, which Eliza 2 had 1078 F7v 78 had thrown upon her toilet, I will manage that. Upon ſecond thoughts, ſaid Eliza, who obſerved with what eagerneſs her maid endeavoured to ſecure the letter, I think it will be beſt to deſtroy it. As ſhe pronounced theſe words, ſhe took it out of her hand, and threw it upon ſome charcoal in a braſier, that had been ſet to air her chamber.
That inſtant Miſs Denby entered the room; and, while Eliza in ſome confuſion ſtepped forwards to meet her, Betty, who perceived the letter had not taken fire, dexterouſly whipt it up, and concealing it in her pocket, left the young ladies by themſelves; 1 for 1079 F8r 79 for ſhe judged by Miſs Denby’s looks, that ſhe wanted to have ſome private converſation with her ſiſter.
She had miſſed her letter by this time; and, thinking it highly probable that Eliza’s maid had found it, and alſo that ſhe had communicated it to her miſtreſs, ſhe came full of anxious concern to make ſome diſcoveries about it, and had already prepared a plauſible falſehood, which ſhe thought would effectually impoſe upon them both.
Judging of Eliza’s ſentiments by what ſhe herſelf would feel upon a like occaſion, ſhe expected her ſiſter would throw out ſome ſevere ſarcaſms upon her conduct, and inſult over 1080 F8v 80 over her mortified vanity; but nothing of this happened: Eliza ſuffered not a word to eſcape her, that could give her pain. Her converſation however did not wear that openneſs, nor her looks that kindneſs as uſual, for ſhe was incapable of diſſimulation; but as long as ſhe did not break into reproaches and inſult, Miſs Denby thought it impoſſible that her conductconduct ſhould be known to her.
She now concluded that Betty either had not found the letter, or had not mentioned it to her miſtreſs, from a view, perhaps, of making a merit with her by the concealment, and of having ſome advantage in con- 1081 G1r 81 conſequence of it; for her own motives of action were always the ſtandard, by which ſhe judged of thoſe of other people.
She now thought to conciliate Betty by an affable behaviour; in which ſhe ſo over-acted her part, as to excite only contempt in the perſon whoſe good-will ſhe was deſirous of acquiring. After having played over theſe arts a few days, ſhe came directly to the point, and aſked her, whether ſhe had not found a letter in the grove directed to her? promiſing her mighty things from her future favour, provided ſhe would reſtore it.Vol. I. G Betty, 1082 G1v 82
Betty, who might poſſibly have been gained by a preſent bribe, held out reſolutely againſt theſe diſtant advantages, and aſſured her, with a very ſteady countenance, that ſhe had found nothing of that ſort—Miſs Denby knew not what to think; ſhe could preſs her no further; her mind remained in a very uneaſy ſtate, for to the mortification of having offered herſelf and being refuſed, was added the apprehenſion, that a ſecret ſo diſgraceful to her was diſcovered.
Meantime, Eliza, who reflected with tender regret upon the hint her maid had given her, with regard to Mr. Harley; waited impatiently for an opportunity to convince him, that he 1083 G2r 83 he had loſt no part of her eſteem. He accompanied Sir William a few days afterwards, in a viſit to Mr. B. He expected to have been a little embarraſſed by the upbraiding looks of Miſs Denby, whom, after what had paſt, he knew not in what manner he ſhould accoſt; but, to his great ſatisfaction, that young lady made ſome excuſe for keeping her chamber; and all other thoughts were ſoon abſorbed, in the tranſport he felt at Eliza’s altered countenance and behaviour: her eyes, her voice, her manner, all partook of the tenderneſs which filled her heart. The happy youth was ready to fall at her feet, to thank her for the delightfulG2 ful 1084 G2v 84 ful hope which ſhe ſeemed to encourage.
The old gentlemen walked in the gardens. Eliza attended her father; Mr. Harley offered to lead her; and now being out of ſight of Sir William and Mr. B. a thouſand times he was upon the point of preſſing that charming hand to his lips, but hehis fear of offending her reſtrained him: a ſilence, more expreſſive than the moſt paſſionate language, painted the emotions of his heart; ſcarce durſt he venture to look on her, leſt his eyes ſhould ſay too much. Eliza at length ſpoke firſt, You are going to leave us, I hear, ſaid ſhe— You are going to the Eaſt-Indies4 “dies— 1085 G3r 85 dies—How will your mother and ſiſters be able to part with you! How will they ſupport ſo long an abſence? Unperceived by herſelf, ſhe ſighed profoundly as ſhe uttered theſe words.
That ſigh did not eſcape the notice of Mr. Harley; he looked up to her with more paſſion, but leſs awe than before. I love my mother and ſiſters, madam, ſaid he, as much as it is poſſible for any ſon and brother to do; but it is not them that I ſhall moſt grieve to part with. Eliza caſt down her eyes, and bluſhed—it was plain ſhe underſtood him, it was plain too that ſhe was not offended—in order to G3 relieve 1086 G3v 86 relieve the confuſion ſhe was under, ſhe attempted to engage him in ſome indifferent converſation; but her thoughts being wholly occupied by his purpoſed voyage, ſhe fell naturally into that ſubject again.
Your mother, ſaid ſhe, ſmiling, will prevent your deſign of leaving us—Oh! that I might believe, interrupted Mr. Harley, gazing on her paſſionately, that you would regret—he durſt not proceed— Eliza, ſomewhat abaſhed at his ardent gaze, turned away her head, but ſighed at the ſame time. The young lover, ſufficiently encouraged by this artleſs diſcovery of her ſentiments, threw himſelf at her feet, 6 and 1087 G4r 87 and taking her hand, which ſhe made but a faint effort to withdraw from him, ventured to raiſe it to his lips, when the ſudden appearance of Mr. B. made him haſtily riſe, and retiring a few ſteps back, kept his baſhful looks fixed upon Eliza, concerned for her confuſion, and trembling for the event.
Mr. B’s good humour, in ſome meaſure, relieved his apprehenſions. You have been deifying my daughter, ſaid he, ſmiling, and looking at Mr. Harley, I interupted your adorations; confeſs the truth; but without waiting for an anſwer, he turned to Eliza, go, in child, ſaid he, to your ſiſter; ſhe is worſe, and G4 “has 1088 G4v 88 has aſked for you: Eliza inſtantly obeyed him, glad to be relieved from her perplexing ſituation, and departed, without once looking on her lover, who followed her with his eyes, till ſhe was out of ſight, and while his eager glances purſued her parting ſteps, ſeemed to forget that he was in the preſence of her father.
Mr. B. obſerved him in ſilence. At length, Mr. Harley, ſaid he, let us take a turn in the grove: I have ſomething to ſay to you. Sir William is engaged at piquet with Mrs. B. we ſhall not be miſſed. Saying this, he led the way.
The youth followed in great anxiety, yet not without a mixture of hope, 1089 G5r 89 hope, which he derived from the complacency of Mr. B’s looks and language. When they were far enough advanced not to fear any immediate interuption, Mr. B. ſtopped; and looking more gravely than before:
I will not aſk you, ſaid he, the ſubject of your converſation with my daughter; your kneeling poſture, her looks and yours explain that ſufficiently; but was it fair, young man, purſued he with a ſmile, to endeavour to engage her affections, without firſt applying to me.
This queſtion, at firſt, diſconcerted the young lover; but the rectitude of his mind immediately prompted him to 1090 G5v 90 to a candid acknowledgement of his whole conduct, which was, indeed, his intereſt likewiſe, ſince there was nothing in it to condemn.
I own Sir, ſaid he, that I love your daughter; my paſſion begun with my firſt acquaintance with her; but, ſenſible of the great diſtance between us, I never preſumed to diſcloſe it. I thought myſelf happy to enjoy her converſation and friendſhip: all on a ſudden, I perceived an alteration in her behaviour; ſhe grew cold and reſerved; but, as the terms I was upon did not authoriſe my deſiring an explanation, I ſuffered, in ſilence. My viſits were leſs frequent; and “now 1091 G6r 91 now my deſign of going abroad, which at firſt I had conceived from other motives, became a ſettled reſolution. When I attended Sir William hither to day, I expected to find Miſs B. in the ſame diſpoſition towards me; but, to my great ſurpriſe, ſhe reſumed her former ſweet and benevolent manner; ſhe even expreſſed ſome concern for my intended departure. Tranſported out of myſelf, I fell at her feet; and had you not appeared, I might poſſibly have been bold enough to declare my paſſion: and now, Sir, you know all my offence.
I find it too ſmall, interrupted Mr. B. ſmiling, to warrant my “chiding 1092 G6v 92 chiding you; nay, more, I am inclined to reward you for this frank dealing with me—You love my daughter; ſhe eſteems you. I have ſtudied your character; I think you very likely to make her happy—what ſay you? ſhall I propoſe a match between you to Sir William?
Ah! Sir, replied Mr. Harley, bluſhing with ſurpriſe, joy, and anxiety, Sir William will never put my fortune upon ſuch a footing as to enable me to look up to Miſs B. with hope.
Things may go better than you imagine, reſumed Mr. B. I know you are Sir William’s legal “heir, 1093 G7r 93 heir, if he dies without iſſue; and he is too old and infirm to think of marrying again. His own lawyers have informed me, that the greateſt part of his eſtate muſt neceſſarily deſcend to you—his motives for concealing this truth from you, are doubtleſs to keep you in a ſtate of dependence upon him; but ſomething muſt be allowed to the peculiarity of his temper— it is your part to be ſilent with regard to your future claims—and for the preſent, we muſt endeavour to bring him to make you ſuch an allowance, as may juſtify my giving you my daughter.Your 1094 G7v 94
Your Ladyſhip will poſſibly be ſurpriſed at this eaſineſs in Mr. B. but he had, by his extravagancies, and a fatal propenſity to gaming, reduced himſelf to a very ſcanty income. His daughter, by chuſing him her ſole guardian, had thrown her fortune intirely into his power: —Mr. B. preſſed by his creditors, had appropriated ſeveral thouſand pounds to the payment of his debts, and by retrenching none of his expences; nor ſubduing his love of play, his difficulties had daily encreaſed, and his daughter’s fortune became more involved.Of 1095 G8r 95
Of fifteen thouſand pounds which were left her by her grandfather, ſcarce ſix remained. Mr. B. ſtung with remorſe, grew prudent too late, and retired into the country, in order to avoid thoſe dangerous connexions, which had led him into ſuch a ruinous diſſipation, of what was not his own.
Here, however, he lived with his daughter, in a manner, more ſuitable to her reputed fortune, than to the narrow income to which he was now reduced, which encreaſed his perplexities; but like a true gameſter, he ſtill relied upon ſome lucky chance for retrieveing his affairs; and fortune ſeemed to have fulfilled his hope 1096 G8v 96 hope, when he became acquainted with Mrs. Denby, then newly a widow.
The large fortune ſhe had, at her diſpoſal, made her the object of his wiſhes; her free coquettry encouraged his hopes; he propoſed marriage, ſhe conſented, and both had their private views.
Mr. B. now liſtened to ſome propoſals of marriage to his daughter, who had entered her eighteenth year; but he found her whole fortune would be expected to be paid, and though he hoped to meet with reſources ſufficient, in his wife’s ample poſſeſſions, which were now his, he durſt not yet venture to hazard an 1097 H1r 97 an explanation which he knew would be followed by the deepeſt reſentment.
For this reaſon, he was not ſorry to find, that Eliza was averſe to marriage; but ſome obſervations he made on her looks, when Mr. Harley was preſent, let him into the ſecret cauſe, and put him upon conſidering, whether a match might not be effected ſuitable to his daughter’s pretentions, yet, on ſuch terms, as might not ſubject him to great difficulties, on account of the preſent payment of her fortune.
Mr. Harley’s paſſion for Eliza, which he ſoon diſcovered, was the foundation of his hopes: He knew Vol. II. H how 1098 H1v 98 how powerfully love acts upon a young and innocent heart; with ſuch a one, intereſt would be of little conſideration.
While he was revolving this deſign, he made all the neceſſary enquiries concerning the ſettlement of Sir William’s eſtate; and was informed, even by that gentleman’s own lawyer, that young Harley was his undoubted legal heir, in caſe he died without iſſue. Sir William’s known avarice, and the dependence in which he affected to keep the youth, made it not probable, that he would aſſign him a proper allowance, though he ſhould approve of the match; but Mr. B. was reſolved not to ſtop at this 1099 H2r 99 this difficulty, his main point being to match his daughter properly, without being put to any preſent inconvenience, with regard to the payment of her fortune.
Mr. Harley, who always had ſome doubts, concerning his ſucceſſion to Sir William’s fortune, was tranſported to find Mr. B. ſo well ſatisfied on this head; but, although a youth like him might well be dazzled with the proſpect of ſuch affluence, yet it was the intereſt of his paſſion, that gave this proſpect its beſt charms. This knowledge raiſed him to an equality with Eliza, and flattered his delicacy; her father approved his love; Eliza herſelf had given ſufficient indications H2 that 1100 H2v 100 that he was not indifferent to her— What a happy change in his ſituation had a few hours produced!
Mr. B. read in his eyes his impatience to ſee his daughter again; he promiſed him to take the firſt opportunity that offered, to propoſe the affair to Sir William, and they returned to the houſe; but Mr. Harley was not gratified with the ſight of his miſreſs—Miſs Denby took a malignant pleaſure in keeping them ſeparate; and pretended to be ſo much indiſpoſed, and ſo deſirous of her ſiſter’s company, that Eliza could not, with any decency, leave her the whole evening. Miſs B. herſelf was not ſorry for this reſtraint, for ſhe knew 1101 H3r 101 knew not how to meet the looks of her father, after the tender ſcene to which he had been witneſs; but ſhe was pleaſingly ſurpriſed, to ſee him enter her dreſſing room, when ſhe had retired for the night; and with a countenance, in which there was nothing ſevere or reproaching, tell her he deſired to talk with her a little in private. Eliza diſmiſſed her maid; and Mr. B. immediately entered upon the ſubject.
He began with praiſing Mr. Harley, his perſon, his manners, his virtuous inclinations, and the ſolidity of his underſtanding; he mentioned the certainty of his ſucceeding to Sir William’s eſtate, in caſe he died withoutH3 out 1102 H3v 102 out iſſue, of which there was not the leaſt probability, ſince his age and infirmities ſeemed to preclude all thoughts of his marrying again; he concluded with aſſuring her, that he could not wiſh for a better eſtabliſhment for her; that the young gentleman had made him acquainted with the regard he had long entertained for her; and that he was reſolved to propoſe the match to Sir William, provided ſhe thought ſhe could be happy with him.
Eliza, while her father was ſpeaking, had time to recover from her firſt ſurpriſe at the tenor of his diſcourſe—ſincere, candid, and full of beautiful ſimplicity, ſhe anſwered 2 without 1103 H4r 103 without affectation or diſguiſe: If you approve of Mr. Harley, Sir, I can have no objection, I always eſteemed him, and—ſhe pauſed, and bluſhed. Mr. B. willing to ſpare her confuſion, purſued the ſubject no further; only cautioned her to be ſecret till he had ſounded Sir William, and left her chamber.
He deferred his viſit to the Baronet no longer than till the next day; and finding him in a good humour, ventured to propoſe the buſineſs in a jeſting way.
Your kinſman and my daughter, Sir William, ſaid he, are, I find, far gone in a paſſion for each other—what ſay you, ſhall it be “a match?” 1104 H4v 104 a match? A match! repeated the Baronet, why, has not Miſs B. fifteen thouſand pounds?
This queſtion produced a little alteration in Mr. B’s countenance; his conſcience reproached him with the depredation he had committed upon the patrimony of his child; but ſettling his looks to more ſerenity, my daughter’s having fifteen thouſand pound, ſaid he ſmiling, will, I hope, be no objection.—No certainly, reſumed the Baronet, ſmiling likewiſe, not on my ſide; but “methinks you are not very attentive to her intereſt, when you propoſe young Harley as a match for her!I am 1105 H5r 105
I am attentive to her beſt intereſt, her happineſs, ſaid Mr. B. Mr. Harley is one of the moſt amiable young men I ever knew; my daughter eſteems him; if I had a hundred thouſand pounds to give her, I ſhould think them well beſtowed upon your young kinſman.
He is obliged to you for your good opinion, replied the Baronet; but, I ſuppoſe, if this event takes place, you expect I ſhould do ſomething for him. To be ſure, Sir, ſaid Mr. B.
And why to be ſure? interrupted the Baronet haſtily—he has no “claims 1106 H5v 106 claims upon me, farther than what my generoſity will admit of.
Mr. B. did not think it neceſſary to diſcuſs this point with the old gentleman, ſatisfied as he was in his own mind with regard to the youth’s ſucceſſion, and conceiving that to pique him upon his generoſity would be the moſt effectual means of engaging him to act properly towards Mr. Harley, he ventured to tell him that he would leave it entirely to him, to ſettle what he pleaſed upon Mr. Harley for the preſent; that, upon the day of marriage, he would pay down three thouſand pounds of his daughter’s fortune; and that the remainder ſhould be ſettled 1107 H6r 107 ſettled upon her and the children of this marriage, to be a future proviſion for her and them, in caſe Sir William ſhould find any cauſe to alter his favourable intentions towards Mr. Harley.
Nothing could be better calculated than this laſt clauſe, to bring the old gentleman into his meaſures; whatever were his intentions with regard to his kinſman, he was reſolved not to diſcloſe them, that he might preſerve in him that ſenſe of dependence, which ſubjected him to his controul. He was indeed ſomewhat ſurpriſed at Mr. B’s eagerneſs in the affair, not ſuſpecting that he was ſo fully ſatisfied of Mr. Harley’s claims; and was 1108 H6v 108 was ready to conclude that matters had gone farther between the young people than Mr. B. cared to own; but this he was indifferent about, the offer was very advantageous for his kinſman; and, as he was bound to no conditions, he thought it would be folly to reject it. He therefore told Mr. B. that he would take one night to conſider upon his propoſal, and bring him his anſwer the next morning himſelf.
Mr. B. departed very well ſatisfied with his negociation, and the Baronet, after ruminating a while upon what had paſſed, ſent for Mr. Harley, who had been appriſed of Mr. B’s viſit 1109 H7r 109 B’s viſit, and waited the event with anxious impatience.
The tumult of his thoughts might be eaſily read in his artleſs countenance, when he preſented himſelf before Sir William; who, after raillying him a little upon his preſumption, in addreſſing a Lady of Miſs B’s fortune, added What is ſtill more ſurpriſing, her father is deſirous of making up a match between you. I ſhall do all that I ought to facilitate it; but in this, I muſt be governed by prudence. I may marry again; I may have children; I look upon myſelf as their ſteward, and accountable to them for any alienation of my “fortune. 1110 H7v 110 fortune. Be not too ſanguine therefore in your hopes.—I ſhall conſider of Mr. B’s propoſals, and do the beſt I can for you.
In this delicate circumſtance, Mr. Harley could have little propenſity to mirth; otherwiſe, as he has often ſaid ſince, he could not fail of being diverted with the old man’s notion, of being accountable to his children yet unborn, as their ſteward. However, he expreſſed great gratitude to him for his kind intentions; and this ſurpriſing turn in his affairs would have made him quite happy, were it not that it is the nature of love, to be moſt apprehenſive of new difficulties,culties, 1111 H8r 111 culties, the nearer it is to the completion of its wiſhes.
Sir William kept his word, and went to Mr. B. the next morning; he had taken his reſolution, which was ſuch a one as might be expected from a man of his character. He demanded ſix thouſand pounds of Miſs B’s fortune, to be paid into his hands; in conſideration of which he was to ſettle four hundred pounds a year upon Mr. Harley, and two hundred a year jointure upon Eliza; the remainder of her fortune, he agreed ſhould be ſettled upon the children; but the intereſt of it, when ſhe came of age, to be enjoyed by Mr. Harley during his life. Mr. B. who 1112 H8v 112 who in this treaty conſidered himſelf as matching his daughter to the heir of five thouſand a year, accepted theſe conditions; and all things being fully agreed on, Sir William was to preſent his young kinſman, the next day, in form to Eliza; and Mr. B. thought it no longer neceſſary to conceal his intentions from his family.
Mrs. B. ſmiled ſarcaſtically, and ſeemed to intereſt herſelf very little in the affair; her huſband imputed this indifference to ſome reſentment, at his not having communicated his deſign to her before;—but Miſs Denby, practiſed as ſhe was in diſſimulation, could with difficulty hinder 6 her 1113 I1r 113 her rage and grief from breaking out publicly. The moment ſhe was alone with Eliza, ſhe vented her ſpleen in the moſt bitter taunts; ſhe ſaid that Mr. B. would incur the imputation of having trafficked away his daughter; that ſo diſproportioned a match would ſeem the conſequence of ſome ſhocking indiſcretion, which it was neceſſary to conceal. She added a thouſand more reproaches, which ſerved to ſhew the violent agitation of her own mind, but which produced no diſcompoſure in that of Eliza; ſhe rather pitied her, when ſhe reflected upon the latent cauſe of all theſe tranſports; and took no other notice of her invectives,I. I tives, 1114 I1v 114 tives, than to tell her that it was not decent, in her preſence, to cenſure her father’s conduct ſo ſeverely; and this alſo ſerved her as a pretence to retire to her apartment, that ſhe might indulge her own reflections, upon the approaching great change in her condition.
Miſs Denby, when ſhe left her, burſt into a loud laugh, and propheſied that her dream of happineſs would not long continue.—She remained cloſetted with her mother, great part of that evening; and went the next day to pay a viſit, at ſome miles diſtance, that ſhe might not be preſent at the firſt interview between the lovers.Nothing 1115 I2r 115
Nothing could exceed the happineſs of Mr. Harley and Eliza, in this near proſpect of being united for ever.—Sir William too, who thought he had made a wiſe bargain, was contented; but Mr. B. was under ſome perplexty.
It was not poſſible for him to pay down the ſix thouſand pounds, without having recourſe to his wife’s fortune; her froſty looks deterred him from entering into any explanation with her; and he reſolved, at all hazards, to make free with ſome of thoſe large ſums, which he knew ſhe had lodged in the public funds; and which he conceived his quality I2 of 1116 I2v 116 of huſband gave him a right to command.
A ſhort excurſion to London was neceſſary. He propoſed taking his daughter with him, in order to provide cloaths for the approaching ceremony. Mr. Harley, to whom the ſhorteſt ſeparation was death, begged permiſſion to accompany them. Sir William furniſhed him with a hundred and fifty pounds, to make preparations. Small as this ſum was, the generous youth deſtined half of it to his mother and ſiſters, who reſided in London; and whom he expected to meet at Mr. B’s houſe in town, to be introduced to his charming 1117 I3r 117 charming bride, having wrote to them for that purpoſe.
Miſs Denby, who had by this time been able to aſſume an appearance of compoſure, ſaw them depart with a malignant joy; as their abſence facilitated the ſucceſs of thoſe ſchemes, which, in conjunction with her mother, ſhe had formed, to be revenged for her ſlighted paſſion.
Mr. B. as uſual, preferring pleaſure to buſineſs, gave the firſt days of his arrival to thoſe amuſements, which the preſent ſeaſon could afford them in London.—A happier party could no where be ſeen; the three ſiſters of Mr. Harley were perfectly amiable; their mother was ſenſible I3 and 1118 I3v 118 and virtuous; and this tide of good fortune, that had flowed in upon her ſon, ſeemed to bring back all her former chearfulneſs.
At length Mr. B. began to enter upon the buſineſs, that had brought him to town, he was abſent the whole day; and returned in the evening, with a countenance ſo altered, and ſuch evident marks of confuſion and grief, as alarmed the whole company, but moſt his daughter; who, pale and trembling, ſtarted from her chair, and running up to him eagerly, enquired if he was ill.
Mr. B. anſwered ſighing, that he indeed was not well; and deſired 1119 I4r 119 deſired her to go with him to his own apartment.—Then bowing to the reſt without looking on them, he haſtily retired, followed by Eliza, who was already in tears. As ſoon as he entered his chamber, he ſhut the door, and perceiving that Eliza was weeping, he could with difficulty reſtrain his own tears.
My dear child, ſaid he, in a broken voice, I have ruined myſelf,—but that is little,—I have ruined you!—Oh! purſued “he paſſionately, you can never forgive me, you will hate your father. Eliza, in the utmoſt agony at this ſtrange exclamation,I4 tion, 1120 I4v 120 tion, threw herſelf at her father’s feet; and takeing his hand which ſhe kiſſed reſpectfully,—I beg of you Sir, ſaid ſhe, not to wound my heart with ſuch language; you have ever been a moſt indulgent parent to me:—what can have happened to occaſion this diſorder?—
Hear me, my child, interrupted Mr. B. with a look and accent full of wildneſs,—let me plunge you at once into the full depth of your miſery;—you have no fortune, or what indeed is next to nothing; you have no lover now, for Sir William will inevitably break off the treaty for 4 “your 1121 I5r 121 your marriage with his kinſman; and all this ruin is occaſioned by the thoughtleſs extravagance of your father!—Eliza, though prepared to hear ſomething dreadful, felt the full force of this ſtroke; and continued ſilent, immovable, and her eyes fixed upon the ground.
Her father, ſtruck to the heart with this mute ſorrow, ſo affecting, yet ſo full of reſpect for him who was the cauſe, roſe from his chair; and walking about his chamber with a diſtracted pace, exclaimed in the moſt bitter terms againſt himſelf.—This rouſed Eliza, from her melancholy reverie;rie; 1122 I5v 122 rie; ſhe endeavoured to compoſe her looks, and following her father with a beſeeching action, Let me conjure you Sir, ſaid ſhe, to calm your mind.—I can ſubmit patiently to this misfortune— my chief concern is for you;— but, after all, your affairs are not yet deſperate;—you have married a lady with a very conſiderable fortune.
Ah! the fiend! interrupted Mr. B. ſhe has deceived me.—Then ſitting down, and endeavouring to aſſume ſome degree of compoſure, Eliza, ſaid he ſighing; do me the juſtice to believe, that it was never my intention to hurt your 1123 I6r 123 your intereſt.—A fatal love of play had made a wreck of my own fortune. I ſought to retrieve my loſſes.—I added greatly to them.—Still fooled by hope, I engaged more deeply;—till (how can I ſpeak it without dying for ſhame?) I was obliged to retire into the country, with little more than the third part of your fortune. —I could not reſolve to reduce you to a narrower way of living, than what you had always been accuſtomed to; and this imprudence increaſed my perplexities.
Mrs. Denby ſeemed thrown by Providence in my way, to enable me to repair the waſte I had made in 1124 I6v 124 in your fortune.—I knew ſhe was very rich; ſhe affected to act generouſly, and to truſt implicitly the man, on whom ſhe beſtowed her perſon; but this was a ſnare to draw me in, with what views heaven knows;—for I find that, before our marriage, ſhe had made over her whole fortune to two of her relations; a trick to prevent me from being a ſhilling the better for her;—on the contrary, I am more involved, having, ſince this fatal marriage, been at all the expences of her houſhold, as well as my own; ſo that, my dear injured child, of fifteen thouſand pounds, which “your 1125 I7r 125 your grandfather left you, you have little more than three remaining.
And have I ſo much? interrupted Eliza, who expected to hear that ſhe was reduced to beggary.— Be not afflicted, dear Sir; this ſum will preſerve me from want or dependence; and I hope I can accomodate my deſires to any ſtation in which it ſhall pleaſe Providence to place me.
And can you, reſumed her father, looking tenderly upon her, can you, Eliza, reſign your lover with equal fortitude?—I am not able to keep my word with Sir William, in regard to your fortune;“tune; 1126 I7v 126 tune; we muſt therefore look upon the treaty as broke off—poor Harley! he loves you—how will he look upon me?—poor youth! what a ſtroke will this be to him!—Eliza endeavoured to ſuppreſs a ſigh at the mention of her lover; her father obſerved this delicacy, which pierced him to the heart.
Do not deſpair yet, my dear child, ſaid he; Heaven I hope will not ſeparate you,—as ſoon as I am a little compoſed, I will talk with Mr. Harley—in the mean time I would have you prepare him for what he muſt know; leave “me, 1127 I8r 127 me, my Eliza; I will ſend for him in a quarter of an hour.
Miſs B. quitted the room, uncertain in what manner to acquaint her lover with the preſent melancholy ſituation of their affairs, without drawing upon her father that cenſure which his imprudent conduct had incurred.
Mr. Harley, who had paſſed the moments of her abſence in the moſt racking inquietude—for he had perceived more of grief than illneſs in the countenance of Mr. B. and therefore dreaded ſome fatal diſappointment of his hopes—met her as ſhe came out of his chamber—tears filled her eyes when ſhe ſaw him. Struck 1128 I8v 128 Struck to the heart at this ſight, he remained for a moment ſilent, gazing upon her; then ſuddenly taking her hand, which he preſt with a vehement action:
If I am to be wretched, madam, tell me ſo at once; leave me not a moment in ſuſpence—let me know the worſt.—Eliza, exceſſively moved at the agony ſhe ſaw him in, ſtepped into a with-drawing room next her father’s chamber. Here, by ſome preparatory expreſſions of tenderneſs and condolance, ſhe endeavoured to ſoften the diſagreeable news ſhe had to tell him. Mr. Harley haſtily interrupted her—I underſtand you, madam, ſaid he; you eſteem, “you 1129 K1r 129 you pity me, but you are not to be mine, your father has changed his mind.
Think not ſo unjuſtly of my father, reſumed Eliza, it depends no longer upon him to unite us, by a ſad concurrence of unhappy accidents, his affairs are ſo involved, that he is not able to fulfill his agreement with Sir William, with regard to the payment of my fortune.—You are entitled to ſomething far more conſiderable than what I now can bring you;—and it cannot be expected that Sir William will continue a treaty, when my father Vol. I. K “has 1130 K1v 130 has it not in his power to perform the conditions which he had accepted.—
Oh! my Eliza, cried Mr. Harley, taking her hand which he kiſſed reſpectfully, tears at the ſame time flowing faſt from his eyes;—but may I not ſee Mr. B.? reſumed he, making towards his chamber, ſure he will not refuſe to ſpeak to me! Eliza followed, intreating him not to diſturb her father at preſent, to which with ſome reluctance he conſented; but Mr. B. who had heard all that paſſed, ſuddenly opened his own door and entered the room.—Leave us, my dear, ſaid he to his daughter,ter, 1131 K2r 131 ter, I would ſpeak with Mr. Harley alone.—Eliza retired, and Mr. B. with ſome confuſion in his looks thus ſpoke to him.
My daughter has told you my misfortunes; but ſhe has concealed my faults. I ought to take deſerved ſhame to myſelf. He then acquainted him with the real ſtate of his circumſtances, and his recent diſappointment with regard to his wife—
You ſee, added he, that it no longer depends upon me to make you happy.—You are too much in love to value this abatement in Eliza’s fortune; but Sir William, as affairs now ſtand, K2 “will 1132 K2v 132 will never conſent to your marriage, and it is not your intereſt to diſoblige him.—
If I am his heir at law, replied Mr. Harley, he cannot diſinherit me. But he may marry, ſaid Mr. B. and diſappoint your expectations.—
I find I am to be wretched, reſumed Mr. Harley ſighing—and yet—but no!—cried he in a tone expreſſive of the deſpair that poſſeſſed his thoughts—I ought not to expect that you will ſacrifice the charming Eliza to my uncertain hopes, my future proſpects.—“I under- 1133 K3r 133
I underſtand you, interrupted Mr. B. Generous youth! yes, Eliza ſhall be yours, I engage my faith and honour to you for the performance of my promiſe. As heir to Sir William’s opulent eſtate, you would take her, reduced as ſhe is nearly to indigence; and here I ſolemnly proteſt to make her yours, whether you are ever his heir or not.—But, alas! in the latter caſe, what will become of you both? what will three thouſand pounds do for you?—but, after all, this is an idle fear; though Sir William were to marry again, which is K3 “highly 1134 K3v 134 highly improbable, it is ſtill leſs likely that he ſhould have children.
Mr. Harley, who in his preſent tranſport was not capable of admitting one thought that had a tendency to cloud it, confirmed theſe ſanguine hopes; the only difficulty now was, how to act for the preſent. Mr. B. though greatly diſguſted with the ungenerous proceeding of his wife, was determined to ſacrifice his reſentment to the happineſs of his daughter. He thought it not impoſſible, but ſhe might be prevailed upon, to furniſh him with the ſum neceſſary to enable him to fulfil his agreement with Sir William, in which caſe every 1135 K4r 135 every thing would be on the ſame footing as before.
He told Mr. Harley that, for his and Eliza’s ſake, he would condeſcend to make the trial; but that, if it failed, he would ſeparate himſelf for ever from a woman who had ſo baſely impoſed upon him.
The lovers, once more ſecure of each other, ſuffered no apprehenſion of future difficulties, to interrupt their preſent happineſs. All was joy again in this little family; and Mr. B. unwilling to ſhare his own anxiety and diſquiet with them, affected a tranquillity which he was far from feeling;—and retired to his K4 own 1136 K4v 136 own apartment, to conceal his uneaſineſs from their obſervation.
Another week had elapſed; and he was not yet determined, in what manner he ſhould move the affair to his wife, by letter or in perſon; for it coſt him a great deal to endeavour to ſubdue his reſentment, ſo far as to treat with her upon any terms of friendſhip.—
In the midſt of this irreſolution and uncertainty, he was ſurpriſed one evening to ſee the Baronet’s coach and ſix ſtop at his door, from which the old man handed out Mrs. B. and Miſs Denby, with an air ſo chearful and gallant, as ſhewed him highly 1137 K5r 137 highly ſatisfied with his companions.
Mr. B. in ſome perplexity concerning the intention of their unexpected arrival, left the care of receiving them to Eliza; who performed it with her uſual ſweetneſs and complaiſance, notwithſtanding the cold civility of Miſs Denby, in whom a malignant joy ſeemed, at times, to break through the ſettled cloud on her brow.—
Eliza, who expected her father would be greatly diſconcerted by their viſit, went herſelf to acquaint him with it, after ſhe had attended her mother-in-law to her apartment. Mr. B. though ſhe earneſtly entreated 4 him, 1138 K5v 138 him, refuſed to go to his wife, but went immediately to Sir William.
He found him in ſerious converſation with Mr. Harley, and was ſurpriſed to ſee, in the looks of the youth, grief and reſentment reſtrained by reſpect; and in thoſe of the old man, a mixture of haughtineſs and confuſion.
His countenance however cleared up a little at the entrance of Mr. B. and Mr. Harley taking this opportunity to retire, the Baronet after the uſual civilities were over, aſked him in a grave accent, whether, in the treaty they had entered into, for a marriage between the young people,ple, 1139 K6r 139 ple, he had any expectations of Mr. Harley being his heir?
Mr. B. frankly told him he had.
Then the buſineſs is at an end, reſumed Sir William; for I am determined to marry.
Mr. B. ſhewing ſome ſurpriſe at this declaration, the Baronet aſked him whether, when he firſt moved the affair to him, he did not mention his marrying again as an event which might happen.—
This indeed was true; but Mr. B. ſcarce thought he was in earneſt when he ſaid it; and therefore it proved no obſtacle to his intentions. He hinted as much to Sir William, which 1140 K6v 140 which the old man took ſomewhat amiſs. However, he aſſured him that he did not intend to tye him down to his former agreement; and that, as there was no doubt but he might ſettle his daughter more advantageouſly, he was very willing that the affair ſhould go no further.
Mr. B. in his preſent perplexity, could make no other anſwer, than that he would take a little time to conſider.—He then aſſumed a gayer countenance, and a behaviour more free from reſtraint.
Sir William told him, not without a little confuſion, that Miſs Denby was the Lady who had conſented to make 1141 K7r 141 make him happy; that her mother approved her choice; and ceremoniouſly added, that he hoped he ſhould have his concurrence.—
Mr. B. who already ſuſpected the party, was not ſurpriſed at hearing her name;—She is very young, ſaid he thoughtleſsly; but added immediately after, ſhe is prudent.—
This was Sir William’s cue for launching into a long enumeration of thoſe merits in her, which had engaged his regard;—he left youth and beauty out of the catalogue, having diſcernment enough to perceive that it was not very decent for a man near ſeventy, to lay any ſtreſs 1142 K7v 142 ſtreſs upon thoſe qualities which diſplayed ſo great a diſproportion.
Mr. Harley coming into the room, he left him alone with Mr. B. while he went to pay his reſpects to the Ladies, before he went to his own houſe.—
The poor youth was ſo oppreſſed with grief, that for ſome moments he could not utter a word.
My dream of happineſs, ſaid he at laſt, is over; Sir William has provided himſelf with a wife, —and ſhe will doubtleſs provide him with an heir.—
This harſh expreſſion eſcaped him. He repented of it immediately afterwards; and though, from what had paſſed 1143 K8r 143 paſſed between him and Miſs Denby, he had all the reaſon in the world to imagine, that ſhe had brought this affair about, in order to be revenged on him for refuſing her, yet he kept her ſecret inviolably.
End of Vol. I.