Written by a Friend

vol. II

Printed for J. Dodsley, in Pall-mall.

A1v omitted B1r

The History of Eliza

Mr. B. imputed all to the artifice of his wife, whom, in the bitterness of this new disappointment, he could scarce mention without an execration.—He endeavoured to console Mr. Harley, by assuring him he would leave his daughter at full liberty, to dispose of herself agreeably to her inclinations;— but, though you are both young, Vol. II. B said B1v 2 said he, and both lovers, you will consider—

He had time to say no more; for Sir William returned, and carried Mr. Harley with him to his house in Grosvenor Square, where the young Gentleman had taken up his residence, during his stay in town, though he passed most of his time at the house of Mr. B.

This unhappy husband, but more unhappy father, being left to his own reflexions, sat for some time revolving in his mind many different expedients for lessening the difficulties he laboured under; but, finding all of them impracticable, and blaming his wife for all, rage 6 against B2r 3 against her swallowed up every other passion, and he flw to her apartment in anger, to load her with reproaches.

He entered, without any preparation, into a bitter expostulation with her, upon the perfidy and meanness of her conduct, in trusting her whole fortune to the hands of others, that she might deprive a husband of his just rights.

Mrs. B. heard him without interruption; and when he was silent, replied with a sarcastic calmness, that, considering the distracted condition of his affairs, she could not have acted otherwise, without B2 being B2v 4 being guilty of the highest imprudence.

Then it seems, madam, said he, you knew the true state of my circumstances before marriage.— She unwarily answered that she did—

Why then, resumed he, did you marry a man in such indigence? Love was not your motive—for what woman ever gave her person from love, and withheld her fortune from prudence?— But I have penetrated your views, persued he, kindling into new rage as he spoke, perhaps the irregularity of your manners required the B3r 5 the conveniency of a husband, to shelter you from contempt.

This reproach which was indeed but too just, flawed-reproduction2 words was flawed-reproduction1-2 words her from an excess flawed-reproduction1-2 words than conviction, threw Mrs. B. into great confusion; her colour came and went alternately; she trembled, partly through fear, partly through stifled rage;—but spoke not a word.

Mr. B. to whom her apparent emotion seemed the strongest indication of guilt, fell into such transports of passion, at the thought of being thus made the dupe of a licentious woman, that he appeared like a mad man; he protested he would never more enter her apartment, B3 threatened B3v 6 threatened her with every kind of revenge, that the name and quality of a husband put in his power, and left her with expressions of scorn and disgust, that shewed his contempt of her was equal to his hatred.

Mrs. B. remained for some time confounded, at the storm she had sustained.—She had never imagined that her husband’s temper was capable of being roused to such a height of fury, and began to be uneasy about the consequences, and to wish for a reconciliation.

Eliza, besides bearing a large share in her father’s uneasiness, foresaw so many difficulties in the way to a union with her beloved Harley, as B4r 7 as filled her with despair; nor was Miss Denby exempt from the general disquiet, that now reigned in this family. She loved Mr. Harley; every new sight of him increased her passion; and the incidents which she now learned, revived her hopes. She was grieved that she had gone so far with Sir William; but, though it would have cost her integrity nothing to have broke her engagements with him, yet she was afraid of disclosing her intentions, lest Mr. Harley might reject her as before, and so she should miss gratifying both her love and her revenge.

Sir William in the mean time continued to assure Mr. Harley, that B4 he B4v 8 he was disposed to fulfil his promise to Mr. B. Whether it was that he now knew the state of that gentleman’s affairs, and so run no risque by seeming to consider himself as bound by an agreement, of which the other could not perform his part, and therefore would never call upon him to fulfil, or that he really thought the bargain advantageous, since six thousand pounds was a full equivalent, for what he proposed to settle upon his kinsman.

But poor Mr. Harley, who knew he was no nearer to happiness for this assurance, thanked him with a heart overflowing with grief, and a despondency in this look and accent; which, B5r 9 which, if the Baronet had been really ignorant of the truth, was sufficient to have roused his suspicions.

However, this event, so much desired, yet so despaired of, seemed once more in a fair way of being brought about.

Mrs. B. devoted to pleasure, but fond of reputation, and who had indeed married with no other view but to secure the enjoyment of the one, without hazarding the loss of the other, after long reflexion, and many struggles with her avarice, which equally shared her heart with her other despicable passions, resolved at length to purchase the appearance of living well with her husband, at B5v 10 at the expence of sacrificing some part of her large fortune to his necessities.

By several submissive messages, she procured an interview with him; and, after some artful palliation of her conduct, dropped hints of her willingness to assist him in re-establishing his affairs.

Mr. B. convinced in his own mind of her unworthiness, doubted whether he could, consistently with his honour, accept of any assistance from her, as it would look like a bribe for his connivance at any irregularities she chose to indulge herself in. But the settlement of his daughter was the point nearest his heart; and reflecting B6r 11 reflecting that it was always in his power, either to keep his wife within proper bounds, or to make her sensible of his resentment if she transgressed them, he resolved to make the most of this opportunity for his daughter’s interest.

He mentioned the designed marriage between Sir William and Miss Denby, as a malicious scheme to disappoint Mr. Harley’s expectations, and insisted upon her breaking it off.

Mrs. B. who had entered into this design, not so much in regard to her daughter’s advantage, as for the reputation of having disposed of her so honourably, made no scruple to promisemise B6v 12 mise compliance; but at the same time she reminded flawed-reproduction2-3 words that Miss Denby would flawed-reproduction1-2 words out of her controul and at liberty to make her own choice.

Mr. B. being ignorant of the motives by which Miss Denby was actuated, had no notion that a girl of twenty years of age could, without the over-ruling influence of a mother, agree to marry a man of seventy; and only required her to interpose her authority for the present, to prevent a match taking place, which was ridiculous, if regard was had to the great disproportion of ages, and ungenerous, when a youth of such amiable qualities as Mr. Harley B7r 13 Harley, and who was engaged to his flawed-reproduction3-4 words thrown out flawed-reproduction2-3 words hopes flawed-reproduction1 word expectations.

He afterwards, flawed-reproduction2-3 words being under some difficulty how to pay part of his daughter’s fortune, he expected she would assist him, which she likewise promised, but not without some reluctance.

Mr. B. eager to relieve Mr. Harley, from the cruel uncertainty which he knew he must be in, dispatched a card, desiring to see him; and in the mean time acquainted Eliza, with what had passed between him and his wife, and congratulated her, upon there being now no obstaclecle B7v 14 cle to the union, between her and the deserving young man, who was not more her choice than his own. Eliza expressed her satisfaction, more by her looks than expressions; but Mr. Harley’s transports were excessive, yet somewhat allayed, when, in the course of their conversation, Mr. B. informed them of the steps he had taken, to prevent the match between Sir William and Miss Denby from being concluded.

Both the lovers were apprehensive that such a disappointment would offend Sir William so much, as to induce him to break his word with Mr. B. and this fear was too reasonable; B8r 15 reasonable; however, the misfortune they dreaded, came from another quarter.

Miss B’s maid, full of zeal and affection for her mistress, but rash, imprudent and conceited, no sooner heard of the intended marriage, between the Baronet and Miss Denby, than she resolved, by means of the letter she had found in the grove, and which she had carefully preserved, to break it off if possible.

She never doubted but that Sir William, when he should know that his intended bride was in love with Mr. Harley, and had indecently wooed him to accept of her hand, would B8v 16 would have no inclination to conclude a marriage, from which he could promise himself so little satisfaction. She therefore wrote him an anonymous letter, in which she inclosed that from Mr. Harley addressed to Miss Denby, and acquainted him that an accident had put it into her possession; that she had hitherto kept the secret, in compassion to Miss Denby; but, having so much reason to believe, that she married him only to be revenged on Mr. Harley, she thought it her duty not to conceal it from him; that he might himself be judge of her motives for accepting his offer.—

4 This C1r 17

This letter she dispatched by the penny post, not being willing to employ any messenger, lest the writer of it should be traced.

Sir William had that day been to visit his mistress; he found her cold and reserved, and not at all disposed to gratify his wishes by a speedy marriage. This alteration was owing to the hopes she had newly entertained, from the apparent difficulties that retarded the marriage of Mr. Harley and Eliza, and to some conversation she had with her mother, in which that lady, to keep her promise with Mr. B. had seemed willing to defer concluding with the Baronet for some time longer.

Vol. II. C Sir C1v 18

Sir William went home in a very ill humour, and found the anonymous letter lying on his table. He had no sooner read it, than he fancied he had penetrated into the whole mystery. Mr. Harley, he supposed, had written this letter (for the very purpose for which it was sent) to disgust him with his mistress, and prevent his marriage; and the alteration in Miss Denby’s behaviour, appeared the consequence of some malicious artifices, practised upon her with the same intention.

In the midst of the furious emotions, which this supposed discovery raised in his mind, Mr. Harley entered the room. The poor youth, ignorant of the storm that awaited him, came C2r 19 came with a heart full of transport, to press the old man to conclude his marriage with Eliza.

Sir William, stepping close to him, with a dreadful frown, and holding the letter in his shaking hand, asked him, whether he acknowledged that writing to be his.

Mr. Harley cast his eyes upon the letter, and instantly perceiving it to be the same he had wrote to Miss Denby, blushed with surprize and confusion.

Did you write this letter? said Sir William to him, in a furious tone.

Since you have seen it, Sir, replied Mr. Harley, it would be in C2 vain C2v 20 vain to deny it: I am sorry it has fallen into your hands, and I cannot conceive by what means.

You are a dissembling villain! returned the Baronet; you wrote it on purpose to fall into my hands. You are the writer of this anonymous letter too, continued he, throwing it at him, which conveyed it to me; infamous shallow artifice! What a villain have I been fostering in my bosom!

Mr. Harley, who had hitherto stood stupified with amazement, started, as from a dream, at the reiterated name of villain: by an involuntary motion, he clapped his hand to his sword; but 6 suddenly C3r 21 suddenly recollecting himself, he drew it back.

You are privileged to say any thing, Sir, said he; but this usage has cancelled all your former kindness—think what you please of that letter—I scorn to undeceive you.

He left the room as he uttered these words, fearing, lest some new injuries from Sir William should urge his temper too far; and retiring to his own apartment, ordered his servant to pack up his cloaths and linen, himself assisting with eagerness and precipitation—for in the violent emotion of his spirits, at the treatment he had received, he thought every C3 moment C3v 22 moment, that he staid, added to the indignity he had suffered.

While he was thus employed, Sir William’s chaplain came into the room.—The good man, who loved him tenderly, burst into tears at the sight of those preparations he was making for his departure. Mr. Harley, dismissing his servant, gave him as distinct an account of what had passed between Sir William and himself, as the various passions, which still agitated him, would admit.

The chaplain, who had also heard Sir William’s story, asked him suddenly, and without any preparation, if the letter, to which that in Sir William’sliam’s 2 C4r 23 liam’s hands was an answer, was still in his possession.

Mr. Harley replied that it was; he blushed immediately after, and would, if possible, have recalled his words, thinking that a point of honour obliged him, at all events, to conceal the lady’s secret. Mr. Irwin, satisfied with this concession, and resolving to make some use of it for his advantage, prest him no more upon that subject; but both wondered how a letter of that consequence had fallen into the hands of a third person, who had made so indiscreet a use of it, as to render it doubtful, whether it was well or ill designed.

C4 Mr. C4v 24

Mr. Harley dwelt not long upon an enquiry, which, in the present anguish of his mind, but little interested him; he took a tender leave of his friend, who presented him, from Sir William, with bills to the value of five hundred pounds, but supprest part of the harsh message, which accompanied them.

The young gentleman refused them at first with indignation; but the arguments, which the chaplain made use of, to induce him to accept of them, were so well calculated to convince him, that he ought not to consider this sum as a bribe to his patience, from a person who had injured him, but as a partial payment of a large debt, seeing that the Baronet was bound, C5r 25 bound, by every tye of honour and of conscience, to provide for him genteely; he yielded therefore to the necessity of his affairs; and only desiring Mr. Irwin to tell Sir William, that hereafter he would know him better, he quitted the house, and retired to that of his mother, who was overwhelmed with affliction, when she heard of his misfortune.

The poor youth, tortured with all those pangs, which disappointed love and a blasted fortune could occasion, shut himself up in his room, that he might be at liberty to indulge his melancholy, while Mr. B. and Eliza, who were used to see him every day, were C5v 26 were wondering at his absence, and anxious to know the cause.

Meantime Sir William, in whom love was now dotage, repelled every thought that might have led him to a conviction of his kinsman’s innocence, and industriously endeavoured to deceive himself; he made a visit to his mistress, and related to her the whole contrivance, as he called it, of Mr. Harley, to break off a marriage, which disappointed his ambitious views.

Miss Denby fell naturally into a belief, that Mr. Harley had sacrificed her reputation to his interest; and finding that the Baronet was persuaded, or seemed to be so, that the whole was C6r 27 was a forgery; resentment, and an eager desire of revenge, once more prevailed, and she declared, to her antiquated lover, that whether her mother was willing to keep her engagements with him or not, she was determined to be his.

She gave him permission, to press her, to name the day, and Mrs. B. returned a favourable, though not an explicit answer to this request; for she was desirous, if possible, to keep some measures with her husband, and at the same, was unwilling to lose this opportunity of disposing of her daughter so greatly to her advantage, for the settlement Sir William offered was not less than fifteen hundreddred C6v 28 dred a year; at so high a price was he willing to purchase a young and handsome wife.

Mr. B. who had entertained hopes of settling his daughter, agreeably to her wishes and his own, by means of his wife, saw himself again disappointed, by the fatal breach that had happened between Sir William and Mr. Harley.

The latter, in relating it, still scrupulously adhered to his promise of secrecy, and spoke of the letter that had been sent the Baronet, as a thing he had no knowledge of.

Mr. B. thus half instructed of the truth, thought the whole an incomprehensible mystery; but Eliza instantlystantly C7r 29 stantly recollecting all the circumstances, relating to the letter, which her maid had put into her hands, no longer doubted, but she had found means to preserve it, and was the person who had sent it to Sir William.

Her delicacy, with regard to the reputation of Miss Denby, gave way to her just attention to the honour of her lover. She taxed her maid with being the author of the anonymous letter to Sir William, in which that from Mr. Harley to Miss Denby was inclosed.

The girl, who expected none but happy effects from her scheme; readily owned what she had done, and was shocked and confounded, to find the C7v 30 the fatal consequencies of her indiscreet zeal. Eliza having communicated the whole affair to her father, it was agreed between them, that, without acquainting Mr. Harley with their design, whose romantic notions of honour, in this case, might lead to oppose it; Betty should demand an audience of the Baronet, and acknowledge the truth.

The girl, anxious to repair her fault, readily undertook the commission. Sir William gave her admittance, but after her first words, which were to acknowledge that she was the person who had sent him a letter, written by Mr. Harley to Miss Denby, as she was proceeding to satisfy C8r 31 him how it came into his hands, he terrified her into silence, by a dreadful exclamation; told her she was hired by Mr. B. his daughter, and Mr. Harley, to throw those aspersions on the character of Miss Denby, in order to break off his marriage, and bid her tell her unworthy employers, as the only answer he had to send, that he should be married to Miss Denby in three days.

Betty went home all in tears, to relate the bad success of her interview with the old gentleman, who did not fail to make a merit with his mistress, of the zeal with which he defended her against the calumny, invented by their C8v 32 their common enemies, for so he affected to call them.

Miss Denby easily distinguished the part Eliza acted in this affair; she hated her before as a rival, and a rival preferred to herself. But this last provocation, as she deemed it, laid the foundation of an enmity, which could be gratified with nothing less than her ruin, and which she afterwards endeavoured, by every means in her power, to accomplish.

Mr. B. finding all his schemes, in favour of his daughter, ineffectual suffered so much, from the continual remorse that preyed upon his mind, that he fell into a fever, which very soon left no hopes of his recovery; he D1r 33 he employed his last moments, in settling his daughter’s affairs, in the best manner he could; he appointed a gentleman of great probity to be her guardian, but left her at full liberty to dispose of herself as she pleased in marriage.

The parting between the father and daughter, was moving to the last degree; worn out with continual watching during his illness, she had not strength to sustain the agonies of a last adieu; she was taken from his bed-side in a deep swoon, from which she did not recover, till some moments after he had expired.

While still scarce sensible, her guardian, Mr. Elford, carried her Vol. II. D from D1v 34 from that melancholy scene to his own house, where his lady employed the most tender attention to alleviate her affliction.

Mrs. B. during her husband’s illness, had acted her part with sufficient decorum; but as soon as the funeral was over, she retired to her own seat in the country, whither Sir William attended her: the marriage between him and Miss Denby followed soon after; and every thing was conducted with so much parade and festivity, as left no room to doubt that the late melancholy event had made little impression on her.

Neither Mr. Harley nor Eliza were surprised at the news; it was what they D2r 35 they expected, and were prepared for; but Mr. Elford, who, in this match, saw the total ruin of Mr. Harley’s hopes, became more desirous of breaking off an engagement, so little to the advantage of his young charge, whose interest he had greatly at heart.

As soon as her grief was abated, Mrs. Elford prevailed upon her to share in some of her visits, and by degrees to accompany her to public places: Mr. Elford’s fortune was large, he lived in splendor; Mrs. Elford, bred up in the fashionable taste for dissipation, though a woman of sense and virtue, loved to mix in every gay scene.

D2 Eliza D2v 36

Eliza, on many accounts was fond of retirement, but chiefly because she was in love; her own thoughts, always employed on the object of her tenderness, afforded her more entertainment than any of those sparkling assemblies, to which she was introduced. She saw Mr. Harley but seldom, because she perceived that her guardian was not favourable to his pretentions; and she was not willing to expose him to those constrained civilities, which are practised towards an unwelcome guest; but, engaged both by honour and inclination, and mistress of her own actions, she scrupled not to write to him, and receive letters from him every day.

2 Mr. D3r 37

Mr. Harley had reason to be satisfied with the tender assurances she gave him of the continuance of her regard; but when, in public places, he saw her, the object of universal admiration, saw her surrounded with rivals, whose rank and fortune set him so very low in the comparison, and knew that every endeavour would be used to bias her in favour of her interest, his heart was not at rest.

Low as he in fortune, he durst not solicit her to give him her hand; such a request would have appeared imprudent and selfish, and might well expose him to the censure of preferring his own gratification to the happiness of her he loved. Many ways D3 were D3v 38 were open to a young man of sense and spirit for pushing his fortune, but all must be attended by absence; absence, at all times so dreadful to a lover, but in his and Eliza’s situation so full of danger.

His friends were continually proposing new schemes to him, and some advantageous prospects were opened to him of going abroad, in the service of the East India Company; he sometimes seemed determined to accept these proposals, but the idea of leaving Eliza was insupportable, and in the anguish of his heart, he often accused her of indifference towards him, though surely it was not her part to make those advances on the subject of D4r 39 of marriage between them, which (overstraining, perhaps, the point of of honour) he thought still less became him, who had nothing but indigence to offer her.

Near a year and a half had rolled away in this perplexing situation, when, by Mrs. Harley’s death, her small jointure, which was not more than fourscore pounds a year, fell to her son: his sisters were all provided for by marriage, and therefore no part of this poor pittance was diverted into other channels.

That happiness may be found in a cottage, is the dream of youthful love; this income, with the interest of Eliza’s fortune, would supply all D4 the D4v 40 the wants of life; and more was not necessary to the felicity of two persons, filled with a reciprocal passion.

Thus Mr. Harley reasoned from theory, and at length resolved to overcome his scrupulous delicacy, and press his mistress to an union, in which love was to supply all the deficiences of fortune.

But while he waited for a favourable opportunity for an interview with her, he received a letter from Mr. Elford, requiring him to desist from his pretentions to Eliza.

This letter was drawn up with great art, and enforced its harsh purpose by every argument that could convince the reason, and every motivetive D5r 41 tive that could sway those affections, which, in the heart of a man of honour, are never wholly subjected by love.

Gratitude, disinterestedness, delicacy, regard to the world’s opinion, and tenderness itself, for the object of his wishes, all required him to make this sacrifice, he said.

Mr. Harley was struck with these remonstrances, which had the greater weight, as he suspected Eliza was not wholly uninfluenced by them. He resolved to make this sacrifice, whatever it cost him, and wrote a long letter to Eliza, filled with the most tender and most generous sentiments; but, unperceived by himself, he mingledled D5v 42 led some gentle reproaches, with those arguments by which he justified her conduct with respect to him, and when he concluded, with fervently wishing for her happiness, with one more worthy of her than he could be, he could not help adding, that he should never live to see it.

Eliza, in reading this letter, burst into tears; she easily perceived the part Mr. Elford had acted upon this occasion, and though she could not condemn his motives, she was offended at an officiousness, which tended to lessen her in the esteem of her lover.

Impatient to relieve him from that painful conflict under which he suffered,fered, D6r 43 fered, she dispatched a short billet to him, desiring to see him instantly.

Mr. Harley, who perhaps expected this summons, obeyed it with transports of joy, which were only allayed by the reflection, that he was not capable of acting up to his own ideas of disinterestedness. Yet he approached Eliza, who took care to be alone to receive him, with a kind of reserve, which seemed suitable to his present situation: he saw her charming eyes suffused with tears; this was enough to make him forget all his resolutions; he threw himself at her feet, and taking her hand, prest it in silence to his lips.

Eliza D6v 44

Eliza, willing to shorten this affecting scene, asked him, with a smile, if he was determined to leave her.

I cannot leave you, and live, replied the passionate youth; but I would willingly die to make you happy.

That is not the way to make me happy, interrupted Eliza, still smiling; you must live for me, and be contented with that little which I am able to bring to you.

Mr. Harley, thus encouraged, conjured her to complete her generosity, and to defer no longer the giving him her hand, for fear that the zeal of her friends D7r 45 friends should throw some obstacles in their way.

Eliza, who had sustained a good deal of importunity from her guardian, on account of some very advantageous offers that had been made her, thought her lover’s apprehensions were not groundless; and therefore promised him, that she would use her utmost endeavour to prevail upon Mr. Elford, to give his consent to their marriage; and that, if he refused it, she would make use of that liberty which her father had bequeathed her, and fulfil his intentions, by marrying the person he had chosen for her.

She used much the same terms in her application to Mr. Elford, who shewed D7v 46 shewed her the fallacy of that argument, and made it plain enough, that Mr. B. wished to have her consult her interest more, in the disposal of herself.

Eliza, touched with the mention of her father, melted into tears, but continued firm in her resolution.

My father, Sir, said she, desired my happiness; and by his last will, leaving me at liberty to bestow myself, he considered me as the best judge of what would most conduce to it. Doubtless it was his intention, that I should fulfil my engagements; and this being my choice likewise, no arguments, founded merely upon interest, ought D8r 47 ought to prevail with me to break through them.

Mr. Elford replied, with some heat, that though he could never approve so imprudent a match, he would faithfully discharge the trust that was reposed in him, and soften, as much as lay in his power, those evils which he could not wholly prevent.

Accordingly, he found no difficulty in inducing Mr. Harley to settle the whole of Eliza’s fortune upon herself, and the children born of this marriage.

After the ceremony was performed, Mr. Elford and his lady carried them to their country-seat, where they D8v 48 they staid about three weeks, and then retired to a small house, in a neighbouring village, suitable to their narrow income, but fitted up with an elegant simplicity, that proved the taste, if not the opulence, of its owners.

Here, like the first pair in Paradise, possessing all within themselves, they passed the first year of their marriage, in a state as happy as the condition of mortality admits of.

The birth of a son to Sir William Harley gave the first interruption to their felicity. Hitherto Mr. Harley, supported by the expectation of an almost certain, though perhaps remote, succession to a large fortune, repined not E1r 49 not at the humble situation in which he had placed Eliza, because he always hoped that one day, he should be enabled to raise her to another, equal to any, which her affection for him, had induced her to reject: but an heir to Sir William’s estate, cut off that flattering prospect; he now saw his beloved Eliza condemned for ever, to all the inconveniencies of a narrow income, still to increase, with an increasing family, till at last they centered in a miserable state of indigence.

How could he bear to see her, not only precluded for ever, from all the elegant enjoyments of life, but suffering under the fatigues, that her domesticII. E mestic E1v 50 mestic duties would impose upon her; she, who had been used to ease and affluence, and might once more have lived in splendor, but for her generous preference of him: how would she be able to endure the numberless evils that indigence brings along with it? Had he not reason to fear, that she would look back with regret, upon the happiness she had refused, and that feeling every day more forceably, the fatal consequences of her passion for him, she would in time detest that passion itself, which had been the cause of her misfortunes.

These reflections, which the solitude he lived in, gave him too much leisure to indulge, at length produced an alteration6 teration, E2r 51 teration in his temper, and spread a gloom over his countenance. Suspicions of his wife’s growing indifference would even intrude upon his mind; and though he often repelled them with indignation, as injurious to that tenderness, which was displayed in every look and action of hers, yet they would still return upon the slightest occasion, and fill his whole soul with bitterness.

If ever she was more serious than usual, he would fancy she was regretting her situation; if she left him for a few moments, he would suppose his company grew less pleasing to her. His health began to be impaired, by the continual agitation of his mind.

E2 Eliza E2v 52

Eliza perceived it with agonizing apprehensions; ignorant of the true cause of his disquiet, she imagined that the dull uniformity of a country life affected his spirits; and as the winter was now approaching, which would necessarily lessen even those few pleasures, which were to be found in their present retirement, she proposed to him, to spend a few months in town.

Mr. Harley, considered this proposal, as an indication of her own weariness and satiety; yet, eager to gratify every wish she could form, he instantly wrote to a friend in town, to provide lodgings for them; and prepared for their departure, with so much E3r 53 much chearfulness, that Eliza congratulated herself, upon having fallen upon an expedient, which had so happy an effect, though perhaps the delicacy of her love, would have been better satisfied, if the retirement they now quitted, for the first time since their marriage, had continued to have the same charms for him, as it still had for her.

On her arrival in town, she found elegant lodgings prepared, in one of the most fashionable streets, and another servant added to their little houshold.

She gently hinted her fears, that this expence would be inconvenient to him; but Mr. Harley, who dreadedE3 ed E3v 54 ed nothing so much as her perceiving, by the want of necessary attendance, and other appendages of fortune, the low condition into which she was fallen, was determined to spend all the remainder of the sum he had received from Sir William, in rendering her stay in town agreeable to her.

Prudent persons will doubtless censure this conduct highly; but whoever considers with tenderness, the motives by which he was actuated, will find in them at least, as much to pity as to condemn.

Eliza, not aware of the true reasons that induced her husband to make an appearance, so little suitable to their E4r 55 their income, thought it was his taste, and was too indulgent to oppose it: but she hoped that, when sated with the dissipations of the town, the returning season would give new allurements to their rural residence, and a stricter economy for the future, repair the little waste they now made.

Mr. Elford, however, in the quality of a friend, and trustee of Eliza, remonstrated loudly against an imprudence, of which both seemed equally guilty.

Meantime Mr. Harley and Eliza appeared at every public place; and wherever they appeared, drew particular attention upon them. All the graces of youth, elegance of figure, E4 and E4v 56 and politeness of manners, were common to them both. Mr. Harley, by his long abode with Sir William, became known to several persons of distinction, with whom he now found it very easy to renew his acquaintance: charmed with the beauty of the wife, they sollicited the friendship of the husband; all were liberal in their offers of service; and Mr. Harley was insensibly engaged in a state of dependence upon the great, which protracted his stay in town, and encreased his expences.

The candor of his own mind, the inexperience of youth, and the eagerness with which he admitted every hope of raising his beloved Eliza, to a E5r 57 a situation more worthy of her, hindered him from perceiving the fallacy of those promises, upon which he founded all his expectations.

Meantime, a twelvemonth’s stay in town had exhausted all his ready money; the interest of Eliza’s fortune, together with his own small patrimony, made up an income of little more than two hundred pounds a year. This sum was far from being adequate to his expences; full of sanguine ideas from the interest of his noble friends, he did not doubt, but in a few months, he should be put in possession of some genteel and lucrative employment; and therefore the less scrupled to supply his present exigencies,cies E5v 58 cies, by the only means he had in his power, which was to mortgage his mother’s jointure. Eliza, who had not the same opinion of the sincerity of those friendships, upon which her husband relied so securely, regretted this last imprudent step; but all tenderness and submission, what she could not oppose, without giving pain, she acquiesced in with apparent chearfulness, and always comforted herself with the reflection, that they had still enough left, to preserve them from want; and with a husband she loved so passionately, she scarce wished for more, but on his account.

Lady Harley, under pretence of resenting the attack made upon her reputation,putation, E6r 59 putation, though another and more potent cause for her hatred of Eliza, was the passion she still felt for Mr. Harley, kept up no sort of correspondence with her, whom she had called sister, and for whom she had professed the fondness of one; but, ever solicitous to know all her affairs, in hopes that some time or other, her revenge might be gratified, she contrived to be acquainted with a lady, with whom she knew Eliza had lately become intimate; and through this channel, she found means to interrupt a happiness, the thoughts of which embittered all her own enjoyments.

Mrs. Vere, so this lady was called, was of a most dangerous character; agreeable E6v 60 agreeable in her person, of insinuating manners, but a heart void of sensibility, libertine in her inclinations and principles; but modest and reserved in her behaviour; ever laying snares for the simplicity and frankness of others, by an appearance of still greater simplicity and frankness, which threw even the most artful off their guard, and deceived alike the credulous and the mistrustful.

This woman’s history was known to very few persons; and unhappily for Eliza, she was one of those who was entirely ignorant of it. I will give it your ladyship in a few words.

She was a native of Ireland, and had married, without the consent of her friends, E7r 61 friends, a young man, bred up in the college of Dublin, who had taken orders, in expectation of being provided for in the church.

In a very few years, the fortune, she brought him, was entirely spent. Mr. Vere, having no hopes of preferment in Ireland, and ashamed to shew his poverty in a place, where he had hitherto lived in an appearance of affluence, resolved to come to England, where he had some friends, from whom he expected to find assistance.

In the ship that brought them over, there was a young English gentleman, of large fortune, with whom the distrest couple so well improved their acquaintance, during their short voyage, E7v 62 voyage, that he intreated them to stay some weeks with him at his country-seat.

This stay was protracted for several months; at length Mr Vere pretending a necessity to return to Ireland about some particular business, which was likely to detain him some little time, proposed carrying his wife to London, and leaving her there in lodgings.

Their gallant host, insisted upon her staying where she was, till her husband’s return; and this offer was likewise accepted.

During Mr. Vere’s absence, his friend and his wife, lived in an intimacy, that exposed them to great censures; E8r 63 censures; when he returned, some officious persons whispered these reports to him; he dissembled his suspicions, and took his measures so well, that he obtained sufficient proofs of his wife’s infidelity, and declared his resolution to have recourse to the law, for a compensation for the injury that had been done him.

Mrs. Vere, all in tears, conjured her lover to save her from the infamy of a public trial; he offered to compromise the matter, and Mr. Vere, in consideration of the sum of five thousand pounds, and the gift of a living, worth near two hundred pounds a year, consented to let the affair drop, and even to live with his wife, E8v 64 wife, for whom he pretended a fondness, which this proof of her frailty was not able to abate.

It was believed, and not without reason, that the husband and wife acted in concert, and that the whole was a scheme to raise their fortunes.

They found, in the general servility of the world, which is ever ready to pay to affluence, that distinction, that is due only to virtue, a new reason for justifying their conduct to themselves. Mrs. Vere was received with respect among the politest company; she drest well, lived with elegance, and played high at cards; with these qualifications, who would F1r 65 would be so rude to question her conduct?

Her acquaintance with Eliza commenced by an accident, very proper to lay the foundation of a friendship, in a heart so tender and sensible as hers.

An alarm of fire, in the house where Eliza lodged, threw her into a swoon; and in this condition, Mr. Harley, under the most agonizing apprehensions for her safety, carried her into the street in his arms.

Mrs. Vere, who lived opposite to them, and had often admired her beautiful neighbour from her window, and wished to be acquainted with her, was the first to offer her assistance; Vol. II. F she F1v 66 she ran out to meet Mr. Harley, conducted him into her house, and employed the most tender cares about Eliza, who soon recovered, and charmed with the sweetness and benevolence of Mrs Vere’s behaviour, from that moment conceived a friendship for her, which produced an intimate connection between them. Eliza, who had that romantic notion of friendship, which young people generally bring with them into the commerce of the world, and which is only to be erased by long experience, never doubted the sincerity of Mrs Vere’s professions, and often, in the warmth of confidence, would communicate to her, her uneasiness at the pursuits F2r 67 pursuits Mr. Harley was engaged in, which had already led him into difficulties, and prevented him from relishing a retirement, which they had still enough left to render comfortable.

Mrs. Vere rallied her, though with great caution, upon her taste for solitude, and her fond notion, that love could supply all the deficiencies of fortune, and reconcile youth, gaiety, and spirit, to the insipidity of a country life.

She advised her not to oppose Mr. Harley in his designs, but to assist him in cultivating the friendship of those persons, who seemed disposed to serve him; and insinuated, that her F2 cold F2v 68 cold and reserved behaviour, gave her the appearance either of pride or ingratitude, which cooled the zeal of her friends, and threw obstacles in the way of her husband’s advancement.

Eliza, utterly unacquainted with those maxims of gallantry, so easily admitted by the thoughtless part of her sex, and so readily reconciled to virtue, by those, whose principles were less severe than hers; did not perceive the snare this insiduous advice laid for her.

She did not indeed rightly comprehend what it was that was required of her; but, sure that Mrs Vere always meant well, and was sollicitous for her F3r 69 her happiness; she imagined that she had failed in some points of civility, towards those persons, upon whose interest, her husband had so great a dependence; and that, not having the same opinion, that he had, of the stability of their promises, she had suffered some part of her diffidence to appear; and this fault she resolved to correct.

Hitherto she had been shocked with none of those declarations, so soothing to the ears of vanity, so humiliating to real virtue. The extreme attention that was paid her, escaped her particular notice; Lord L. indeed, had suffered his eyes sometimes to speak; but when the heart F3 is F3v 70 is not in secret, this language is unintelligible.

Lord L. was the son of a nobleman, of great power and affluence; he had recommended Mr. Harley to his father, and in the hope of rendering himself agreeable to Eliza, was resovedresolved to push his fortune with all his interest.

Whether it was that he waited till he had done something to engage her gratitude, before he hazarded a discovery of his sentiments, or that his passion, though founded on libertinism, was nevertheless great enough to inspire him with respect, he had yet observed a proper decorum, and Eliza was ignorant of his intentions.

Her F4r 71

Her intimacy with Mrs Vere seemed a favourable incident to Lord L. He knew her character, and believed it would not be difficult to engage her in his interest; with this view he found means to be introduced to her.

Mrs Vere soon perceived his designs, and without expecting or desiring an explanation, she favoured them as much as possible, by taking care to give him notice, though not in a direct manner, whenever Eliza was to be with her.

Mr. Vere and Mr. Harley were often of their party, and Lord L. who knew Eliza was fond of music, engaged some of the Opera performersF4 mers F4v 72 mers to give them a little concert, in an evening, at Mrs Vere’s house, for whom this gallantry appeared intended, though in reality Eliza was the object of it.

Lady Harley was informed of all these circumstances by Mrs Vere, who finding in her a similarity of manners, rank, fortune, and whatever is necessary to engage the assiduity of a mean and interested woman, was soon led to sacrifice, to her envy and malice, the innocent Eliza, whose solid virtue was a reproach to her, and excited more hatred than esteem.

Whatever Eliza told her in confidence, was immediately whispered back to Lady Harley, who, in the course F5r 73 course of this intelligence, at length heard, what she had long wished for, and expected, that Mr. Harley, by his bad economy, had plunged himself into difficulties, from which, nothing but an alienation of part of his wife’s fortune, could extricate him.

Eliza, concealing her own grief, and only anxious to relieve that of her husband, who was resolved rather to suffer any extremity, than to break in upon what was assigned her, for her support; was preparing to have recourse to Mr. Elford, her trustee, and to palliate, in the best manner she could, those failings she was not able to hide; when Mrs Vere advised her to try the generosity of Lord L. upon this occasion.sion. F5v 74 sion. Eliza rejected this proposal with indignation; and though it did not open her eyes, with regard to the true character of her that made it, yet it indicated a want of delicacy, which, in some degree, lessened her esteem for her.

Lady Harley, when she was told this circumstance by Mrs. Vere, shook her head, and replied, Your young friend has more wit than you imagine; she will accept of her lover’s assistance, but she will not trust you with the secret.

Mrs Vere, who had with difficulty believed, that Eliza was as prudent as she appeared to be, for a frail woman scarce thinks it possible for any F6r 75 any of her sex to be virtuous, was vexed that she had so long been the dupe of her pretended sanctity of manners, and doubted no more that Lord L. and she were in intelligence.

Eliza had just finished a letter to Mr. Elford, full of apologies for her husband, whose disappointments had made it necessary for her to appropriate some part of what was settled upon her, for his relief, and requesting his concurrence with this measure, when she received a verbal message from lady Harley, by a chairman, requesting to see her immediately, in Grosvenor-square, upon business of consequence.

Mr. Harley was not at home; she had F6v 76 had no opportunity of communicating this message to him, and of taking his advice upon it. Surprised as she was at such an invitation, she was resolved to comply with it; and was accordingly carried in a hackney chair to Sir William’s house.

Lady Harley received her in her dressing room, and affected to be touched, with some emotion, at the sight of her, after so long an interruption of their friendship.

I will make no apology to you, said she, for the coldness with which I have carried myself towards you, nor enter into any defence of it, from the provocation I have received both from you and Mr. F7r 77 Mr. Harley; it is sufficient that all is forgot: I have never been your enemy, and all the influence I have with Sir William, I have employed in favour of your husband: it is true I have not yet been able to effect a reconciliation between them, which was what I most wished; but this will follow in time, and I have reason to expect it, since I have persuaded Sir William to assist Mr. Harley in his present difficulties. I have five hundred pounds to give you by his orders; when he can be prevailed upon to see Mr. Harley, I do not doubt but he will give him still more solid proofs of his generosity.

As F7v 78

As she finished these words, she put notes, to the value of five hundred pounds, into Eliza’s hands, who, in her astonishment at this unexpected kindness, sate silent for some moments, ashamed of having entertained any dislike against a person, who was capable of acting so nobly.

Her acknowledgements, on this occasion, were uttered with so much tenderness, such a feeling sense of gratitude, that Lady Harley, conscious how little she deserved them, seemed opprest and uneasy.

Eliza returned to her own lodgings, all impatience to communicate to her husband an incident, so full of wonder. She did not find him at home, 4 but F8r 79 but he came in a short time after her. When she related to him what had passed, his surprise was as great as hers; but his gratitude was less lively.

It is but just, said he, that lady Harley, after having done me so much mischief, should endeavour to make me some compensation; but if Sir William had, instead of this small benefaction, given me up the writings of my father’s estate, which was morgaged to him, I should have had a higher idea of his generosity, and of his wife’s endeavours to serve me.

Eliza, F8v 80

Eliza, fond of hinting any thing to him, which might keep alive a reasonable hope, and reconcile him for the present to his narrow circumstances, told him that Lady Harley had that in view perhaps, when she insinuated that Sir William would give him greater proofs of his kindness.

This expectation, which Mr. Harley readily fell into, as being indeed not ill founded, served to raise his spirits for some days, and prevented those fits of despondency, which gave so much pain to the tender Eliza, who took occasion, while this disposition lasted, to press him to return to the country, a measure, which could not G1r 81 not but be agreeable to Sir William, and might perhaps hasten his determination in his favour.

Returning from a visit to Mr. Elford, she found her husband, who had not accompanied her, at home before her; but, instead of flying to meet her, as he always did, after every short absence, with tenderness and solicitude, he seemed not to see her when she entered the room where he was, but continued to walk backwards and forwards with a hasty pace, his arms folded, and all the marks of grief and anger upon his countenance.

Eliza gazed upon him a moment with terror and astonishment; then laying hold of his arm, as he Vol. II. G passed G1v 82 passed her again, Alas! what is the matter? said she; what misfortune has happened to you?

Mr. Harley, without answering her, disengaged himself from her hold, with so rude a motion, as almost threw her to the ground; in the same moment he folded his arms round her to support her. Oh! forgive me, cried he, I know not what I do.— Then placing her in a chair, he quitted the room, and went into another, where he continued to walk about with the same discomposure as before.

Eliza followed him, in a confusion of thought, not to be described, or even imagined. Tell me, cried she, G2r 83 she, in a faltering voice, tell me, my dear Mr. Harley, the meaning of this disorder, before my apprehensions kill me.

Her husband, at that word, turned short upon her, and giving her a look, that seemed to penetrate into her soul,

You have apprehensions then, Eliza, said he. Oh, why should you have apprehensions, if all was clear within your own breast? Good heaven! exclaimed he, with a passionate gesture, did I ever think to see the day when I should suspect my Eliza!

Suspect me! repeated Eliza, this is strange language indeed; G2 but G2v 84 but explain yourself, I intreat you; of what do you suspect me?

Know madam, said he, that I had rather have languished my whole life in a dungeon, than that you should stoop to unworthy means to relieve me; was Lord L. a fit person for you to receive a pecuniary obligation from, Lord L. your profest admirer? and would you have received it if—Oh! I am distracted, cried he, throwing himself almost breathless into a chair; never—never more shall I be happy.

I begin to perceive, said Eliza, striving to repress her tears, that I am G3r 85 am wretched; but still I do not quite understand you.

Read that letter, said he, holding one out to her in his trembling hand, would I had died ere I had received it.

Eliza opened it, and here is what it contained: Mr. Harley, if you have not eyes to see, what all the world observes, and laughs at, you are to be pitied for your infatuation. It is no secret that your wife is Lord L’s pensioner; and if your necessities are supplied by her means, you may guess the price she pays for it.

While Eliza was reading this billet, her face was overspread with blushes. G3 You G3v 86 You are indeed to be pitied, said she, returning it to her husband with a look, which exprest at once compassion and disdain, if this anonymous incendiary has been able to make you suspect the fidelity of your wife. —But since, pursued she, sighing, I must descend to the wretched necessity of justifying myself, I appeal to lady Harley―to Sir William—Know from them who it was that enabled me to supply your necessities.

I have done that already, replied Mr. Harley; as soon as this fatal letter came to my hands, I demanded, I even forced an interview with Sir William—he disclaimedclaimed G4r 87 claimed all knowledge of what had happened, and I found his resentment against me still too high, to make it probable that he would interest himself at all in my affairs.

Lady Harley protested she had never seen you since her marriage.

Did lady Harley deny her having sent to me? exclaimed Eliza, in the utmost astonishment.—Then the whole mystery is explained; her revenge is gratified, and she has had the satisfaction to know that she has made me miserable, and that my virtue is suspected.

You are mistaken, interrupted Mr. Harley; amidst all the wildnessG4 ness G4v 88 ness of my grief, I was attentive to the care of your reputation; I said I had received notes to the value of five hundred pounds, but I said not from whom I received them; and when Sir William denied his having sent them, Lady Harley, to my eternal surprise and confusion, declared, of her own accord, that she had never seen you.

And were you not likewise surprised, said Eliza, that she answered to a question, which was never put to her?

Ah! I understand you, said Mr. Harley; and were it possible to suppose that a woman, avaritious as G5r 89 as she is, would sacrifice so considerable a sum as five hundred pounds, for the gratification of her malice; I might conclude all this was her scheme to raise suspicions in me; but, ah! Eliza, there are other circumstances—your friendship with Mrs Vere, a woman, whose principles, I am now informed, are far from being rigid.— How has it happened, that, in so long an intimacy, you never discovered her true character? whence grew Lord L’s acquaintance with her, so soon ripened to such an intimacy?—why those frequent visits to Mrs Vere—and he always of the party?—your concerts too, at his expence? G5v 90 expence—your passive acquiescence with my stay in town; a measure you once opposed?

Hold, hold, cried Eliza, to whom indignation now gave spirit, I will hear no more—I have been unhappy enough, it seems, to marry a man, subject to the meanest and most despicable of all passions, jealousy!—You doubt my honour— learn to know me better, Mr. Harley, and then I may perhaps pardon this outrage—in the mean time, a just resentment will, I hope, enable me to subdue that tenderness for you, which once made up all my happiness; but which thus cruelly G6r 91 cruelly injured, is both my torment and my reproach.

She uttered these words with great calmness, and ringing her bell, gave orders to her maid, to prepare another chamber for her, telling her she was indisposed and was afraid of disturbing Mr. Harley.

While this was doing, Mr. Harley sate silent, with his eyes fixed on the ground: awed by the dignity of her anger; piqued at the indifference, with which she quitted him; too full of doubts to solicit a reconcilement; too passionately fond to endure the thoughts of separation; his heart was torn with a contrariety of passions.

Eliza, G6v 92

Eliza, when she heard his sighs, and, by a stolen glance, saw that engaging countenance, which she adored, covered with paleness, and imprest with anguish, was ready to fly into his arms; and, by a thousand oaths, endeavor to convince him of her unalterable love; but when she reflected on the injurious reproaches he had made her, and the credulity, with which he had entertained those black suspicions that suggested them; resentment was again predominant, and enabled her to maintain her resolution.

Her maid now appeared, and told her, her chamber was ready. Eliza immediatelyimme- G7r 93 diately rose up, and wished her husband a good night.

Mr. Harley rose up also, and bowed, but spoke not a word; yet his eager glances followed her to the door, and ere she could shut it after her, he flew towards her, he took her hand and kissed it passionately several times, while she could feel it wet with his tears—but he could not, he would not, bid her stay—he loved; but he doubted still.

Eliza, whose whole soul was melted by this last expression of his tenderness, waited only for that word, to repay it back with interest—but Mr. Harley, letting go her hand, bid her good night, in a low and faltering voice, G7v 94 voice, and hastily turned away, as if afraid to look on her.

Eliza retired, all drowned in tears, she saw his jealousy was incurable; and she now considered it more as his misfortune than his fault—he suspected, and yet he loved her—what an idea did this give her of his sufferings! All night her anxious thoughts were employed in searching for expedients, to cure his mind of the unreasonable doubts it had entertained—but the more unreasonable they were, the less likelihood there was of erasing them—no arguments could have weight against obstinate prejudices, which had silenced reason, ere they could have been admitted; and protestations of innocence,cence, G8r 95 cence, were alike open to the innocent and the guilty. Time only could remove the fatal error he had fallen into, by producing circumstances, that might discover the truth; this hope seemed to suspend the violence of her grief; and dwelling still, with melancholy pleasure, upon the involuntary tenderness her husband discovered at parting, she endeavored to comfort herself with the reflection, that this interruption of their mutual happiness, was not occasioned by a want of love, but by an excess of it.

It was this turn of thinking, that led her to the resolution of retiring to their rural habitation, and remaining 4 there, G8v 96 there, till this storm was blown over.

In the morning she sent a servant to hire a post-chaise, and busied herself till the hour of breakfast, in making preparations for her journey.

Mr. Harley, who had not entered a bed that night, but passed it in the most cruel agitation of mind, would not interrupt his wife’s repose till ten o’clock; and then he sent her maid to know if she was ready for breakfast.

Eliza immediately obeyed the summons; upon her appearance, in her riding dress, Mr. Harley turned pale and trembled; Eliza observed this emotion, and a secret pleasure touched her soul, at the thought of her being 6 still H1r 97 still dear to him; but when she beheld that wan countenance, those eyes all red and swelled, the disorder in his dress, which shewed how he had passed the night; she was ready to throw herself at his feet, to conjure him to dismiss those causeless doubts, which robbed them of their mutual peace— but this was not the way to cure a mind diseased like his; his return to pace must be effected by a conviction of her innocence, and this must be the result of time, and his own reason.

Repressing then, as much as she was able, those tender feelings, which were continually prompting her to submissions, too humiliating for real, Vol. II. H and H1v 98 and too inconclusive, for suspected virtue; she endeavoured to assume a composure in her looks and accent, while her heart was torn with anguish.

I am going, Mr. Harley, said she, to leave a place and objects, which you have been unjust enough to believe I was attached too. I shall retire to our little dwelling in the country; where, if you had been contented, I could willingly have passed my days:— in the mean time I intreat you, more for your sake than my own, let the cause of our separation be a secret, till you have obtained a more certain knowledge of my H2r 99 my conduct; and when you are convinced of the injustice of your suspicions, then, and not till then, shall I wish to see you.

Though this resolution was the fittest that Eliza, in her present circumstances, could take, and the most likely to remove those doubts, which her husband had so readily entertained; yet, such was the sickly temper of his mind, that he saw less prudence in it than indifference; and a decay of her affection, seemed equal to a breach of duty.—Piqued to the soul, at the composure with which she quitted him, he thought it behoved him to appear as indifferent as she was, and therefore answered coldly:

H2 Either H2v 100

Either here or in the country, Eliza, you are mistress of your own conduct; I pretend to lay no restraint upon you—but depend upon it, pursued he, sighing, not able to keep on the masque any longer, I will not see you, till you desire it.

That shall be, when you deserve it, replied Eliza, her tenderness for a moment giving way to resentment, at finding all she did for his satisfaction misconstrued.

She rose up, as she pronounced these words, the chaise being waiting for her; she bid him farewel with a firm accent, but this was the last effort of her fortitude; her trembling knees refused H3r 101 refused to bear her to the door.— Overcome by the violence of her emotions, she sunk down upon a chair, and burst into a flood of tears.

This sight was more than Mr. Harley could bear; he flew towards her, he clasped her in his arms, he leant his cheek close to hers, and for some moments, their tears flowed in one common stream.

Leave me, cried Mr. Harley at length; leave me, my Eliza, it is fit it should be so—I see the propriety of your resolution—go then, but be sure I will soon follow you, either to ask your pardon on my knees, for having doubted you— H3 or H3v 102 or to die with grief, because I still must doubt.

Eliza sighed deeply at these last words, but made no answer, and once more rose up to be gone: her husband led her down stairs, and helped her into the chaise; his eager eyes pursued it till it was out of sight; then retiring to his chamber, he abandoned himself to all those melancholy reflections, which his unhappy situation must necessarily inspire.

Eliza, during her journey, had time enough to calm the tumults of her own mind; sure of her husband’s love for her, even amidst those suspicions, which the malice of Lady Harley, had contrived to raise in him; and conscious H4r 103 conscious of her innocence, she trusted in Providence for the discovery of the treachery, that had been practised against her; and determined to wait patiently for the event.

The sight of her own house, that scene of her former happiness, called up a thousand tender ideas, and gave birth to as many fruitless regrets.— For some days, she was continually in tears; but Mr. and Mrs. Elford, who happened to be then at their country seat, seldom suffered her to be alone. Her melancholy passed, for an effect of her husband’s absence; and his absence, for the necessary consequence of that dependance, which he was led H4 into, H4v 104 into, by his hopes of procuring some establishment.

These pursuits, however, now gave way to a nearer care: some method must be tried, to remove his doubts, or to change them into a certainty; which, he thought, he could better endure, than the cruel suspence he now laboured under.

The first violence of his jealous emotions being abated, his mind more readily admitted those reflections, which tended to shew him the rashness of his suspicions. Lord L. loved his wife, it was true—his concern, which he vainly endeavoured to hide, when he heard of her sudden removal into the country; his pensiveness,siveness, H5r 105 siveness, since, were strong indications of it—but if there had been any correspondence between them, neither would Eliza have voluntarily retired to solitude, nor would he have been withheld by distance, from seeing her in her retreat; and that he did not attempt to see her, Mr. Harley was well assured, for he caused him to be so carefully watched, that it was not possible for him, to make the smallest excursion without his knowing it.

But Eliza had declared, that Lady Harley had supplyed her with five hundred pounds, which was a present from Sir William; and both Sir William and his wife had denied any knowledge of this transaction.

Lady H5v 106

Lady Harley, he knew, was malicious and revengeful, and might wish to create a misunderstanding between two persons, by one of whom she had been slighted, and the other rivaled; but, avaritious as she was, would she sacrifice so considerable a sum as five hundred pounds, merely to gratify her malice? But suppose the passion she once had for him, was not yet subdued, and that, in this scheme, to excite his jealousy, she had farther views, besides interrupting his conjugal happiness?—this thought, which he at first rejected, yet forced itself often upon his mind, and always received new strength, from the reflectionsflections H6r 107 flections it led him into upon her conduct.

This suspicion, though not yet realised, produced a great alteration in his mind; he no longer felt those torturing pangs of jealousy, which had made him tired of his existence; his Eliza was already more than half justified; but, amidst the transports, which the idea of her fidelity gave him, he did not lose sight of the project he had formed, for entirely dissipating all his doubts, by making a full discovery of lady Harley’s sentiments, with regard to himself, which would necessarily unravel the mystery of the five hundred pounds, which had H6v 108 had been the source of all his disquiets.

It was his business to throw himself, as often as possible, in her way; and, for this, he had opportunities sufficient, as she constantly frequented every place of fashionable amusement, while her husband was confined by age and infirmities at home.

At the Opera or Play, he was always sure to place himself within her view; when she first observed him, she glanced him over with a contemptuous indifference, which made him tremble; for if this was the disposition of her heart, Eliza could not be so much the object of her hatred, as to induce her to form so artful a scheme, H7r 109 scheme, and carry it on at so great an expence, in order to estrange him from her.

Her looks, however, soon grew more favourable; for, having observed the extreme attention with which he gazed on her, vanity, assisted by the secret wishes of her own heart, easily imposed on her understanding; and she concluded, that those inclinations, which she always believed, he had once felt for her, were revived, and that Eliza had entirely lost his affection.

Without reflecting upon the dangerous lengths such an intercourse might carry her, she encouraged his hopes, by looks so tender and passionate,sionate, H7v 110 sionate, that Mr. Harley no longer doubted of the corruption of her heart, and thought he had sufficient proof of what he wanted to know.

Meeting her, however, at the Ridotto, one night, he resolved to give himself the satisfaction of making a further trial, by taking an opportunity of speaking to her.

He saw her so transported with joy, at this advance upon his side, and so many indiscreet indications of her passion escaped both her eyes and tongue, that he thought it scarce consistent with his honour, to pursue his enquiries any farther.

The next day he received a billet, which contained the following words: You H8r 111 You think me your enemy, and perhaps I once was so; but if I had any reasons for resentment against you, I have more for esteeming you—I contributed to the ruin of your fortune; it is fit I should repair that injury. I know the difficulties to which an indiscreet marriage has reduced you.—Ah, why did you take that fatal step?—which put an inevitable bar to—but what do I say? I shall discover all my weakness.— Ought I not to fear you will despise me for it?—But why should I fear? your eyes said so many agreeable things to me last night, that I would fain persuade myself, you still preserve some of your former 4 kind H8v 112 kind sentiments for me—I am in despair, when I think on what my rashness has done; I have made myself unhappy, and ruined your expectations; but I have it still in my power to serve you, and all my influence shall be exerted in your favour—in the mean time, permit me to be your banker; accept the inclosed bill, and only signify to me, when you have occasion for a further supply, and you will always find it ready.—Whatever pleasure I take in your conversation, yet I must warn you to be cautious of speaking to me in public, till a reconciliation has taken place, which I do not doubt of I1r 113 of effecting—but if you really wish to see me, methinks it might not be difficult to give you that satisfaction, without running any risque. —I shall be at my milliner’s at two o’clock to day; her name is Mears, she lives in Bond-street; if you call in, as by accident, to make some little purchases, I shall have an opportunity of speaking to you.

This letter was not signed; the lady, no doubt, thinking it unnecessary, as Mr. Harley, from the contents, could be at no loss to guess the writer, and she was willing to be secure. There was enclosed in it bank bills for two hundred pounds.

Vol. II. I Mr. I1v 114

Mr. Harley, already fully convinced, of the licentiousness of this woman’s character, wanted no farther proof of her having been the contriver of that wicked artifice, by which he had been led to doubt of the fidelity of his wife; but the letter before him furnished one, which amounted indeed to a full conviction; the handwriting was the same with that insiduous billet, which charged the innocent Eliza, with a secret correspondence with Lord L. and with having accepted from him, the five hundred pounds, which she said, lady Harley had presented her with.

He had preserved this billet; and, struck with the resemblance in the 5 writing, I2r 115 writing, he compared the two, and found them to be of the same hand.

Delighted with this discovery, tho’ it was more than necessary, all his suspicions having been fully cleared before, he searched for the letter lady Harley had written to him before her marriage; the little notice he had taken of that letter, and the time that had elapsed, since his receiving it, had left no traces in his mind, of any likeness it might bear to those before him; but now, upon examining them together, he perceived that the two last, though sufficient pains had been taken to disguise the writing, was from the same hand as the first.

I2 Indig- I2v 116

Indignation, contempt, hatred, were his first emotions, but the despicable object, that excited them, was not worthy of his thoughts, now wholly turned upon his lovely wife; her image, as when he saw her last, rose to his tortured imagination, bathed in tears, struggling between her resentment of the injury, and her love for the injurer, consigning herself to tears and solitude, and quitting, with reluctant tenderness, the man, who had been capable of entertaining suspicions against her spotless innocence.

One while he dreaded, left a too justifiable anger, had obliterated all her former love, and that she had 6 driven I3r 117 driven him from a heart, which he was not worthy to possess; then, reflecting on her gentleness, her submission, and despair; he trembled with the apprehension, that her health might suffer from the painful conflicts of her mind.

Not able to bear the racking suspence he was in for her safety, and less sensible to the joy of finding her innocent, than to his grief for having offended her, and his fears of the consequence; he resolved to set out immediately, though the day was pretty far advanced, and he could not hope to reach his house before it was late at night: while he dispatched his servant to hire post horses, he wrote a I3 short I3v 118 short billet to the base author of his Eliza’s distress, and his own lasting remorse; this was what it contained.


I have now lying before me three of your letters; to the first, which you wrote me before your marriage with Sir William, you have had my answer already; the last is a comment upon the other two. You will guess at the return I am able to make, when I desire you to be assured, that I am a man of honour, and love my wife with the most fervent passion; the horrid artifices you have used, to render her suspected by me, have had no I4r 119 no other effect, than to call forth a thousand new virtues in her, and to heighten my veneration of her; my love was not capable of admitting increase. I return you, inclosed, the bank notes you sent me —and when you are pleased to claim it, the five hundred pounds, Mrs. Harley received from you, shall also be paid back.

Mr. Harley signed his name at full length, and sent a chairman with the letter, giving him orders to deliver it, if possible, into lady Harley’s hands.

He then immediately began his journey, and rode so hard, that he I4 reached I4v 120 reached ―, before eleven that night.

Eliza was retired to undress; she heard her husband was come, and she flew down stairs to receive him; forgetting, in her transport at his unexpected arrival, that she ever had any cause of complaint against him.

The beautiful disorder of her dress, her hair, which her maid had been combing, hanging in her neck; a loose gown carelessly wrapt about her; surprise and joy painted in her lovely face, the hasty step that marked her impatience to behold him; all indicated the tender emotions, by which she was agitated.

Mr. I5r 121

Mr. Harley, the moment he saw her, was flying with open arms to press her to his heart; but recollecting his situation with her, he stopped short, threw himself at her feet, and taking one of her hands, glewed his lips to it, but durst not raise his eyes to her face.

This action bringing back those melancholy ideas, which her present transport had suspended, she faintly attempted to withdraw her hand, half ashamed of what she then considered as a weakness.—Ah! I had forgot, said she, sighing, that I am suspected, and that you are unhappy.

Do I5v 122

Do not, do not say, so cried he; angels are not purer than my Eliza; I am indeed unhappy, and must ever be so in the consciousness, that I have doubted such excellence; you may perhaps forgive me, but I shall never, never forgive myself.

You are forgiven from this moment, said the generous Eliza, throwing one of her arms about his neck; and leaning her cheek close to his, wet it with the tears that fell from her charming eyes; but they were tears of tenderness and joy, not of painful recollection.

Mr. Harley, overcome with so much goodness, strained her still closer to I6r 123 to his breast—unable to give utterance to that croud of tender and passionate sentiments, which filled his heart, otherwise, than by broken exclamations— Oh my Eliza, said he, why are you so excellent?— What a wretch have I been!—I never can deserve you! no, I am unworthy of you.

Eliza was uneasy, to find his thoughts taking this turn; she had had leisure sufficient to comprehend the true motives of that capricious conduct, which had lately, so cruelly, afflicted her, and had traced to their source those restless doubts, which had terminated at last in a jealousy, injurious to her and to himself—too great sensibilitysibility I6v 124 sibility of temper, too poignant a feeling of his disappointments—conscious that he had preferred the gratification of his passion, to the interest of the beloved object, which pointed out to her another choice—he dreaded the loss of her heart, by those methods, which had secured to him her person. Hence proceeded his anxiety, his causeless suspicion of a decrease in her affection; and hence grew that too easy admission of doubts, injurious to her honour, and destructive of his own peace.

Eliza, by whom the state of his heart was now well understood, and who loved him the more for that knowledge, bent all her endeavours to cure him I7r 125 him of that tender fault, which she foresaw would be the only allay to her happiness.

She suffered several days to elapse, before she even enquired whether Lady Harley had yet claimed the honour of having been her benefactor.

This gay manner of introducing a subject, which Mr. Harley never thought of, but with shame and remorse, gave him courage to enter into a detail of what had passed between them.

Eliza was greatly shocked at the wicked part she had acted, but expressed much more compassion than anger: her husband shewed her a copy of the letter he had sent her, with the bank I7v 126 bank bills returned; she was of opinion that the five hundred pounds should also be sent back; this had not escaped the delicacy of Mr. Harley; but he could not make up the sum, without drawing some part of Eliza’s fortune out of the funds, an expedient he would not hear of—so, for the present, they were contented to let that matter rest as it was.

The frequent disappointments he had met with, ever since he had begun the work of dependance upon the great, the little sincerity he found in their professions, and the unblushing indifference with which they passed from one broken promise, to another as little binding, disgusted him with I8r 127 with all court solicitations; and he was determined, since his lovely wife shewed so perfect a contentment with her lot, to confine his wishes within the bounds that Providence seemed to prescribe to him.

Eliza made it plain to him, that, with an exact economy, their income was sufficient to supply them with all the conveniencies, and even some of the pleasures of life.

Several months rolled away in an uninterrupted series of calm, but permanent happiness; when Eliza becoming pregnant, her tender, anxious husband, trembling for the event, pressed her to go to London, while she was able to take the journey,ney, I8v 128 ney, without any inconvenience, that she might be near the best advice and assistance her situation required.

Eliza, though very unwilling to incur this new expence, yet yielded to his tender pleas, and once more quitted her humble, but now happy dwelling.

Their manner of living in town, was suitable to that exact plan of economy, which she had brought her husband to be contented with, and which she submitted to with a chearfulness, that made it appear rather her choice than necessity.

As soon as they were settled, Mr. Harley sent notice of their arrival to his worthy tutor, Mr. Irwin, whom he K1r 129 he was surprised to see, as soon as his messenger, and with looks that indicated his having some extraordinary news to communicate to him.

Nothing could be more fortunate, said he, embracing him, than your coming to town at this time: I was going to dispatch an express to you—Sir William is ill, and wishes to see you.

The generous youth grew pale, and interrupting him with some emotion, Sir William is dying, said he.—Ah! is it not so my good friend?—and now methinks I feel that I have been to blame, in behaving to him with so much petulance—his unkindness is forgot,II. K got, K1v 130 got, and I remember only that he was my benefactor.

He could not pronounce these words without tears. Come, said the chaplain, we have have no time to lose; Sir William is indeed past hope of recovery—he always loved you; but Lady Harley has been your enemy, and shews an inveteracy against you, which has at length disgusted her husband; who is, besides, not quite satisfied with her conduct.—This interview I know will displease her; but Sir William has, for some time past, abated of his fondness, and her influence, over him, is at an end; she best knows the cause of this change, K2r 131 change, but I hope you will be a gainer by it.

Mr. Harley being now ready to attend him, they stepped into a hackney coach that was waiting at the door; and soon reached Grosvenor Square.

As soon as they alighted, Mr. Irwin conducted his young friend into a parlour, desiring him to wait a few moments, while he prepared Sir William for his visit.

In the mean time somebody opened the door, peeped in, and shut it hastily again; and presently afterwards a servant brought a message from Lady Harley, informing him that Sir William K2 could K2v 132 could see no person whatever, his physicians having absolutely forbid it.

Mr. Harley was confounded, and wholly at a loss what to do, for the servant stood, holding the door open, as if to wait on him out; he hesitated a moment or two, expecting Mr. Irwin would come and relieve him from this aukward situation; but finding he did not appear, he could not resolve to force a longer stay, and was got as far as the hall, when the chaplain luckily met him.

Where are you going, Mr. Harley? said he, taking his hand. I am come to conduct you to Sir William.

I K3r 133

I was returning home, replied Mr. Harley—looking back upon the servant, who slunk away, not hopeing for admission to Sir William; for Lady Harley just now sent to let me know that he could not see me.

Mr. Irwin shrugged up his shoulders, but made no answer; and leading him into Sir William’s chamber, moved softly to his bedside, to acquaint him that his kinsman was there.

Mr. Harley, shocked at the melancholy appearance about him, was dissolved in tears, when hearing the sick Baronet say, in a faint voice, Billy, where are you? he approached, K3 endea- K3v 134 endeavoring to conceal his emotions.

Sir William, fixing his languid eyes upon him, saw both his concern, and his solicitude to hide it, and made a motion to him to sit down upon a chair next his bedside; holding out to him, at the same time, his trembling hand, already bedewed with the cold sweats of death.

Mr. Harley, instead of sitting down, threw himself upon his knees by the bedside, and kissing his hand, could only utter these few words: Am I forgiven, Sir? have you pardoned me?

Sir William was greatly affected with his thus generously taking uponon K4r 135 on himself the blame of their past difference—Poor youth! said he, sighing, forgiveness is your part, for I have used you ill; but what reparation can I make, I will—my wife has given me an heir—therefore your expectations that way are cut off.

He stopped here, and continued silent some moments—then went on with a voice still fainter—Dear Billy, here are the writings of your father’s estate—it will come clear into your hands—and by my will you will find yourself entitled to a sum, more than adequate to the whole produce while it was in my possession—God bless you with K4 it— K4v 136 it—farewell—I will see you again in the evening, if I am able.

He then drew his hand within the bed cloaths, and turning his head to the other side, seemed to decline any further converse.

Mr. Harley rose up, penetrated with gratitude, tenderness, and concern—he cast a melancholy look back upon his dying kinsman, as he quitted the room, and, in an ardent ejaculation, recommended him to the mercy of heaven. Mr. Irwin followed him to the hall; he saw him too much moved to speak; therefore pressing his hand, he only whispered—expect a message from me, if Sir William asks for you again.

Mr. K5r 137

Mr. Harley bowed in silence, and threw himself into the coach: his tears, which he now suffered to take a free course, eased his oppressed heart; and the melancholy ideas that had excited them, dissipating by degrees, gave place to others more pleasing, which the unexpected change in his fortune naturally produced.

With what impatience did he long to communicate the news to his Eliza! how tedious did the moments seem till he reached his own lodgings! Eliza met him at the top of the stairs; he flew into her arms, he clasped her close to his bosom—Oh! my angel, cried he, I lose my kinsman, I lose my benefactor; but he has enabled 4 me K5v 138 me to make my Eliza happy. I shall no longer have the deadly grief to behold her pining in indigence. I am master of the estate of my ancestors; it is not large, but it is sufficient to maintain us in ease and plenty; Sir William’s munificence has added something to it.—How much I know not, but whatever it is, it is more than enough to gratify all my wishes.

Eliza, concluding from these words that Sir William was dead, dropt a tender tear for him; her husband kissed it off, and then related to her all that had passed, in his interview with the poor Baronet.

6 Lady K6r 139

Lady Harley’s behaviour on this occasion, convinced them of the deep enmity she harboured in her bosom; but they were both too generous to draw those conclusions, from the manner in which her husband mentioned her in these his last moments, which the world has since done, and which her subsequent conduct has authorised.

No message coming from Mr. Irwin that day, Mr. Harley, anxious to know if Sir William was still alive, sent a servant to Grosvenor Square, who returned with the news of his death, which had happened about a quarter of an hour before.

Mr. K6v 140

Mr. Irwin did not come till two days afterwards; he informed Mr. Harley, that soon after he had left his kinsman, he ordered a codicil to be added to his will, by which he bequeathed him five thousand pounds more, which made his whole legacy ten thousand pounds.—Lady Harley, he told him, had only her marriage settlement, which was indeed a very large one; but her husband, not having distinguished her, in his testament, by the smallest token of his remembrance, made it sufficiently plain what sentiments he entertained of her.

And here, Madam, your Ladyship must permit me to close the History of K7r 141 of Eliza; whom, according to the custom of Romance writers, I do not quit, till I have conducted her to happiness. Fortune, however, seems disposed to heap more favours on this amiable pair, than, I am confident, either of them desires; for the young son of Sir William is in so declining a state of health, that his death is daily expected; in which case Mr. Harley undoubtedly will succeed to the title and state.