Printed for J. Dodsley, in Pall-mall.
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 2.002 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 2.003 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 2.004 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 2.005 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 2.006 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 2.007 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 2.008 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, 2.009 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 2.010 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 2.011 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 2.012 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 2.013 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 2.014 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; 2.015 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 2.016 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 2.017 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 2.018 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 2.019 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 2.020 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 2.021 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 2.022 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 2.023 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. 2.024 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, 2.025 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 2.026 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 2.027 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 2.028 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 2.029 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 2.030 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 2.031 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 2.032 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 2.033 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 2.034 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 2.035 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 2.036 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. 2.037 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 2.038 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 2.039 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 2.040 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 2.041 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 2.042 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, 2.043 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 2.044 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 2.045 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 2.046 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 2.047 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 2.048 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 2.049 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 2.050 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, 2.051 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 2.052 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 2.053 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 2.054 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 2.055 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 2.056 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 2.057 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 2.058 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, 2.059 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 2.060 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, 2.061 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, 2.062 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; 2.063 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, 2.064 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 2.065 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 2.066 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 2.067 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 2.068 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 2.069 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 2.070 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 2.071 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 2.072 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 2.073 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. 2.074 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 2.075 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 2.076 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. 2.077 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 2.078 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 2.079 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, 2.080 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 2.081 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 2.082 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, 2.083 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 2.084 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 2.085 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 2.086 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 2.087 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 2.088 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 2.089 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? 2.090 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 2.091 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, 2.092 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- 2.093 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, 2.094 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, 2.095 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, 2.096 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 2.097 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 2.098 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 2.099 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 2.100 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 2.101 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 2.102 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 2.103 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, 2.104 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, 2.105 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 2.106 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 2.107 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 2.108 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, 2.109 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, 2.110 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 2.111 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 2.112 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 2.113 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. 2.114 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, 2.115 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- 2.116 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 2.117 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 2.118 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 2.119 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 2.120 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. 2.121 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 2.122 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 2.123 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 2.124 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 2.125 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 2.126 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 2.127 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, 2.128 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 2.129 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, 2.130 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, 2.131 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 2.132 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 2.133 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- 2.134 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 2.135 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— 2.136 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. 2.137 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 2.138 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 2.139 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. 2.140 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 2.141 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.