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Anna St. Ives by Thomas Holcroft

Part 4 out of 11

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had projected.

He was at the end of the corridor, and saw me quit her apartment. His
hot spirit caught the alarm instantaneously, and blazed in his
countenance. He accosted me--

So, sir! You are very familiar with that lady! What right have you to
intrude into her apartments?

When she herself desires me, sir, I have a right.

She desire you! 'Tis false!

Sir?

'Tis false, sir!

False?

Yes, sir. And falsehood deserves to be chastised!

Chastised? [It is in vain, Oliver, to endeavour to conceal the truth
from myself; my folly incurred its own punishment--I repeat] Chastised?
[I was lunatic enough to walk up to him, with a ridiculous and
despicable air of defiance. He re-echoed my words, and instantly in
contempt struck me on the cheek with the back of his hand.]

Yes, sir; chastised!

His rashness restored me to some sense of the farcical heroism which I
had been aping. I hurried from him, without another word.

Oliver, I can conceive nothing more painful than this wresting, this
tearing of passion from its purpose.

I walked a few minutes to calm my thoughts, and wrote him the following
note.

Sir,

'I feel at present the humility of my situation: but not from your
blow; for that has brought me to myself, not humbled me. No man can be
degraded by another; it must be his own act: and you have degraded
yourself, not me. My error is in having, for a moment, yielded to the
impulse of passion. If you think I fear you, continue to think so; till
I can shew my forbearance is from a better motive. Cowardice might make
me kill you; but true courage will teach me calmly to hear the world
call me coward, rather than commit an act so wicked, so abhorred, as
that of taking or throwing away life. I wished to seek your friendship;
and even now I will not shun you. Make the world imagine me a coward;
imagine me one yourself, if you can. I will live under the supposed
obloquy; and leave the tenor of my life to shew whether living be the
act of fear, or of reason. I pardon you, sir, and leave you to pardon
yourself.

F. HENLEY

My forbearance and this letter mitigated my sense of pain. Yet I am
very ill satisfied with myself. Am I so easily to be moved? 'Tis true
the scene I had just quitted was fermenting, as it were, in my veins,
and shaking my whole system.

What is worse, I am child enough to be tormented, in my own despite, by
the recollection of having received a blow! And why? In many countries,
and even in my own, among the class in which I was born, the stigma is
none, or trifling--Stigma? Absurd!--Cowardice!--Murder!--If vanity were
ever becoming, I have perhaps more reason to be vain, considering the
danger to which I had exposed myself, of this than of any act of my
life.

Well, well, Oliver--I hope these agitations are over; and that from
this time thou wilt begin to think better of me.

I communicate my whole thoughts to thee. If the experiments made upon
my mind can be of any use to thine, my letters will then answer the
best of the purposes for which they are written.

F. HENLEY

LETTER XLIII

_Coke Clifton to Guy Fairfax_

_Chateau de Villebrun_

Your last, Fairfax, pleased me. You say truly, and I like your remark,
'Such fellows ought not to claim a moment's attention from me. I should
brush them away, like flies from my forehead, when they presume to
tease or settle themselves upon me.' I have taken your advice, and
fly-slapped the wasp that was more willing than able to sting.

I have lately grown dissatisfied with myself; I know not how, or why. I
suspect this youth, in part, has made me so, with his visionary
morality. I hate such sermonizing. Who has a right to control me? Whose
slave am I? I was born to rule, not to be ruled. My appetites are keen,
my desires vast, and I would enjoy. Why else am I here? Delay to me is
insufferable; suspense distracts me; and the possibility that another
should be preferred to myself drives me mad! I too heartily despise the
tame creatures, that crawl upon the earth, to suffer opposition from
them. Who would be braved by bats and beetles, buzzing in his ears?

I never before saw a woman whom any temptation could have induced me to
marry; and now I have found one I am troubled with doubts, infested
with fears, and subjected to the intolerable penance of
procrastination. Impeded in my course; and by what? Why, I am told to
scrutinize myself, and to discover whether I am quite as perfect as it
is necessary I should be! 'Tis unjust! 'Tis unkind! I did not doubt of
her perfections; and both love and pride, equally jealous of their
honour, demand that mine should have been taken for granted.

The time has been when this would have been revenged. But I seem to be
half subdued. My fierce spirit, before so untameable, declines
contending with her. Not but I frequently feel it struggling with
suffocation, kindling, and again ready to burst into a more furious
blaze.

Yet let me do her justice. Mild, gentle, and affectionate, she conquers
my impetuosity with prayers, and soothing, and with kindness
irresistible. Still she conquers.

Then she suffers these animals to torment me. I am angry to think that,
in so short a space, I should have so entirely lost all power over
myself!

But where is the mortal that can look and not love? Were I myself not
an actor in the play, how should I enjoy the perplexity of these French
_amoureux_! There are I know not how many of them; each more busy than
the other. 'Tis laughable to see with what industry they labour to make
love according to her liking; for they find that their own trifling
manner is inefficient, and can never succeed with her. One of them,
that said crazy Provencal Count, is very earnest indeed, in his
endeavours; but she keeps him in due awe. And it is well perhaps for
him that she does, or I would. Still however he is damned troublesome
and impertinent; and I could wish she were more peremptory. Yet it is
unjust to blame her, for the animal is so full of antics, that it is
impossible to be angry.

After all, I am far from satisfied respecting myself and this youth,
whom I condescended to chastise. It was beneath me. It gave him a sort
of right to demand satisfaction: but he affects forbearance, because,
as he pretends, he despises duelling. And I hear he has actually given
proofs of the most undaunted courage. He wrote a short note of only
three or four sentences on the subject, after I had struck him, which
produced a very uncommon effect upon me, and made me half repent, and
accuse myself of haughtiness, rashness, and insult.

But these things torture me. I am out of patience with them. What right
has any pedant, because he thinks proper to vex and entangle his own
brain with doubts, to force his gloomy dogmas upon me? Let those who
love sack-cloth wear it. Must I be made miserable, because an
over-curious booby bewilders himself in inquiry, and galls his
conscience, till, like the wrung withers of a battered post-horse, it
shrinks and shivers at the touch of a fly's foot? What, shall I not
enjoy the free air, the glorious sun, the flowers, the fruits, the
viands, the whole stores of nature? Who shall impede, who shall dare
disturb the banquet? Were it even a dream, the meddling fool that waked
me should dearly repent his rashness. Let speculative blockheads brew
metaphysical nectar, make a hash of axioms, problems, corollaries and
demonstrations, and feed on ideas and fatten. Be theirs the feast of
reason and the flow of soul. But let me banquet with old Homer's jolly
gods and heroes, revel with the Mahometan houris, or gain admission
into the savoury sanctorum of the gormandizing priesthood, snuff the
fumes from their altars, and gorge on the fat of lambs. Let cynic Catos
truss up each his slovenly toga, rail at Heliogabalus, and fast; but
let me receive his card, with--'Sir, your company is requested to dine
and sup.'

I cannot forget this gardener's son. I am sometimes angry that I should
for a single instant trouble myself with a fellow so much beneath me;
and at others equally angry, for not shewing him the respect which he
claims. There are moments in which I have even feared him as a rival;
for when she speaks to him, which she is very ready to do, the usual
mildness and benevolence of her voice and features are evidently
increased. She must, she shall be more circumspect. Indeed I have made
her so within these few days.

Prithee forgive all this. My mind is not at ease; but I know not why I
should infect you with its malady. Write, relate something pleasant;
tell me what has happened to you last, and relieve the dissatisfaction
I feel by your unaffected flow of gaiety. Adieu.

C. CLIFTON

LETTER XLIV

_Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton_

_Chateau de Villebrun_

I cannot sufficiently applaud the resolute propriety of Frank, since
our last conversation. Indeed, Louisa, his fortitude is admirable! He
does not indulge self-compassion, by brooding over his own loss. Nor
does he, like other mistaken people whose affections have met
disappointment, suppose himself into sufferings, which swell into
existence in proportion as they are imagined to be real. His evident
determination is not to permit any selfish motive to detach him from
the great purposes of life; but cheerfully to submit to what is
inevitable, without thinking it an evil.

In the mean time, I have been indulging a hope, which at moments has
appeared almost a certainty, that Clifton, by our mutual efforts, shall
acquire all this true ardour, which is so lovely in Frank. How sorry am
I to observe that the haughtiness of Clifton and the coldness of Frank
seem to be increasing! To what can this be attributed? Their behaviour
is so peculiar that I almost dread something has happened, with which I
am unacquainted.

But perhaps it is the present temper of my mind: the effect of
sensations too irritable, doubts too tremulous, and fears too easily
excited. I cannot forget the conversation: it haunts me; and, did not
Frank set me the example of fortitude, I have sometimes doubted of my
own perseverance.

Oh, how mean is this in me! Is not the task I have proposed to myself a
worthy and a high one? Am I not convinced it is an inevitable duty? And
shall he, even under a contrary conviction, outstrip me in the
career?--Generous and excellent youth, I will imitate thy most eminent
virtues!

The Count de Beaunoir still continues to be particular, in what he
calls his adoration of me; but his tone and style are too romantic to
authorize me in any serious remonstrance. Clifton is not pleased, and
the Count and he have fallen into a habit of rallying each other, and
vaunting of what lovers dare do, to prove their affection. Their irony
took so serious a turn, yesterday, that Clifton proposed they should
load their pistols, and both holding by the corner of a handkerchief,
fire at each other. Considering the temper in which they were, and the
constitutional extravagance of the Count, the proposal was terrifying:
but I had the presence of mind to give it an air of ridicule, by
saying--You do not understand the true point of gallantry, gentlemen.
You should go to Japan, where one noble-blooded person draws his sabre,
and dispatches himself, to prove he is acquainted with the high
punctilio and very essence of honour; while another, enraged that he
should be in waiting and have a dish to carry up to the emperor's
table, requests he would condescend to live till he can come down
again, that he may shew he knows what honour is as well as his
disingenuous enemy, who had taken such an unfair advantage.

The Count laughed, and Clifton I should hope was not displeased that it
was impossible the conversation should again assume the same desperate
and absurd tone.

I took an opportunity to ask him privately how he could indulge such
intemperate passions; but I was obliged to soften my admonition by all
possible mildness. I know not whether I did right, but I even took his
hand, pressed it between mine, and requested of him, with an ardour
which I think must sink deeply in his mind, to do justice to himself,
to exert those powers of thought which he certainly possessed, and to
restrain passions which, if not restrained, must deter me, or any woman
worthy of him, from a union that would be so dangerous.

The impression would have been stronger, but that unfortunately his
quick sensations took a different turn. Feeling me clasp his hand, he
dropped on his knee, and with an ecstasy which he seemed unable to
resist kissed both mine, talked something of bliss unutterable, and,
recollecting the conclusion of my sentence, added that the very thought
of losing me was madness. We were interrupted, and I began to fear lest
my true motive should have been misunderstood.

Oh! Louisa, what a world is this! Into what false habits has it fallen!
Can hypocrisy be virtue? Can a desire to call forth all the best
affections of the heart be misconstrued into something too degrading
for expression?

I know not, but I begin to fear that no permanent good can be effected
at present, without peril. If so, shall I listen only to my fears;
shrink into self; and shun that which duty bids me encounter? No.
Though the prejudices of mankind were to overwhelm me with sorrows, for
seeking to do good, I will still go on: I will persevere, will
accomplish or die.

Yet I know not why I am in this mood! But so I am, and Louisa will
forgive me. I talk of sufferings? What have I suffered? What can those
who, mature in reason, are superior to prejudice suffer? But who are
they? My prejudices hourly rise up in arms against me. Every day am I
obliged to combat what the day before I thought I had destroyed. Could
we, at the same moment that we correct our own mistakes, correct those
of the whole world, the work were done at once. But we have to struggle
and to struggle; and, having to-day shaken off the burs that hung about
us, tomorrow we give a glance and perceive them sticking as closely and
as thick as ever!

I wish to question Frank, concerning these alarms; but he seems
purposely to avoid giving me an opportunity. Perhaps however I am
mistaken; and I hope I am. The restless fancy is frequently too full of
doubts and fears. Oh, how beautiful is open, artless, undisguised
truth! Yet how continually are dissimulation and concealment
recommended as virtues! Whatever mistakes, public or private, they may
think they have discovered, and however beneficial it might be to
correct them, men must not publish their thoughts; for that would be to
libel, to defame, to speak or to write scandal!

When will the world learn that the unlimited utterance of all thoughts
would be virtuous? How many half-discovered half-acknowledged truths
would then be promulgated; and how immediately would mistake, of every
kind, meet its proper antidote! How affectionately and unitedly would
men soon be brought to join, not in punishing, nor even in reproving,
but in reforming falsehood! Aided and encouraged by your dear and
worthy mother, we have often discoursed on these things, Louisa: and
the common accidents of life, as well as those peculiar to myself,
render such conversations sweet to recollection.

I must conclude: for though we write best when thoughts flow the most
freely, yet at present I find myself more inclined to think than to
write.

Affectionately and ever

A. W. ST. IVES

LETTER XLV

_Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton_

_Chateau de Villebrun_

I know not, Louisa, how to begin! I have an accident to relate which
has alarmed me so much that I am half afraid it should equally alarm my
friend. Yet the danger is over, and her sensations cannot equal ours.
She can but imagine what they were. But it is so incredible, so mad, so
dreadful! Clifton is strangely rash!

He had been for some days dissatisfied, restless, and disturbed. I knew
not why, except that I had desired time for mutual consideration,
before I would permit him to speak to Sir Arthur. He has half terrified
me from ever permitting him to speak--But then he has more than
repaired all the wrong he had done. There is something truly
magnanimous in his temper, but it has taken a very erroneous bent. The
chief subject of my last was the distance which I observed between him
and Frank Henley. Little did I know the reason. But I will not
anticipate: only, remember, be not too much alarmed.

Frank was but one of the actors, though the true and indeed sole hero
of the scene I am going to relate. Indeed he is a wonderful, I had
almost said a divine youth! It took birth from the Count de Beaunoir.

In my last, I mentioned the strange defiance of the pistols and the
handkerchief: and would you think, Louisa, a conversation so frantic
could be renewed? It is true it shewed itself under a new though
scarcely a less horrible aspect.

We were yesterday walking in the park, in which there is a remarkable
lake, small but romantic. I before spoke I believe of our rowing on it
in boats. We were walking beside it on a steep rock, which continues
for a considerable length of way to form one of its banks. The Count
and Clifton were before: I, Frank Henley, and a party of ladies and
gentlemen were following at a little distance, but not near enough to
hear the conversation that was passing between your brother and the
Count.

It seems the latter had first begun once again to talk of times of
knight errantry, and of the feats which the _preux chevaliers_ had
performed for their ladies. The headlong Clifton, utterly despising the
pretended admiration of what he was persuaded the Count durst in no
manner imitate, after some sarcastic expressions of his contempt, madly
but seriously asked the Count if he durst jump off the rock into the
lake, to prove his own courage. Shew your soul, said he, if you have
any! Jump you first, said the Count--!

Imagine, Louisa, if you can, the shock I received when, not knowing
what had passed, but in an apparent fit of frenzy, I saw him
desperately rush to the side of the rock, and dash himself headlong
down into the water! It was at an angle, and we had a full view of him
falling!

Every soul I believe shrieked, except myself and perhaps Frank Henley.
Never had I so much need of the fortitude to which I have endeavoured
to habituate my mind.

The gentlemen all ran to the side of the rock.--They saw Clifton, after
rising to the surface, sink! He had jumped from a place where the
shelving of the rock, under water, by projecting had stunned him as he
fell.

Frank perceived the danger: he threw off his hat and coat, and ran to
another part, where the height was still more dreadful! Indeed, Louisa,
it excites horror to look at the place! But he seems to be superior to
fear. He plunged down what might well be called an abyss; and, after
rising for a few seconds to breathe, dived again in search of poor
Clifton.

He was twice obliged to rise and take breath. The third time he found
him, rose with him, turned him upon his own back, and swam with him a
very considerable distance before he could find a place shallow enough
to land.

To all appearance Clifton was lifeless! But the excellent, most
excellent when you shall hear all, the heroic Frank immediately applied
himself to the remainder of his office. He stayed not a moment to rest,
but lifted him a seeming corpse from the earth, threw him once more on
his back, and ran faster than any of us to the chateau, carried him up
stairs, undressed him himself, put him between the blankets, and gave
every necessary order with as much presence of mind as if there had
been neither accident nor danger. Wet as he was he lost not a thought
upon himself.

Never shall I forget the indefatigable assiduity with which he laboured
to restore your brother to life; the anxiety which he struggled to
conceal; the variety of means he employed; the ingenuity of his
conjectures and the humanity of every motion!

Two hours were I and he and all of us held in this dreadful suspense.
At last he was successful; and the relief I felt, the load that seemed
removed from my heart, it is impossible to describe!

When your brother was perfectly come to himself, Frank suffered him to
be bled. For it had been proposed before; but Frank, with a
determination that could not be withstood, refused to admit of it;
though he had been intreated, and at last openly and loudly blamed, by
the surgeon and those who believed in him, for his pertinacity. But
Frank was not to be shaken, even by the very serious fear of future
accusation. He followed, as he tells me, the opinion of John Hunter;
and well might he think it of more worth than that of the person who
pretended to advise. But it requires no common degree of resolution to
persist, in this manner, in the right; and wholly to despise calumny
and its consequences.

If you think, Louisa, that after this I can add nothing in praise of
Frank you are greatly mistaken; for what is to come raises his
character almost to an enviable dignity.

Could you imagine that this very Frank Henley, this undaunted,
determined, high-souled Frank, who had flung himself down the horrid
precipice after your brother, who had swum with him, run with him,
risked being supposed in some sort his murderer, and at last restored
him to life, had the very day before received from the hand of this
same brother--a blow!--If, Louisa, there be one being upon earth
capable of attaining virtues more than human, it is surely Frank
Henley!

Much praise however, as well as blame, is justly due to Clifton. I
never saw a heart more painfully wrung, by the sense of an injury
committed and of a good so unexampled received, as his has been. It was
he who told of his own behaviour. His total want of power to make
retribution is the theme by which he is pained and oppressed.

Frank, uniform in generosity, disclaims any superiority, and affirms
Clifton would have done the same, had he been in the same danger. I
think I would, answered Clifton, in a tone that shewed he felt what he
spoke: but I know myself too well to suppose I should have so
unremittingly persevered, like you, in the performance of an office of
humanity which seemed hopeless.

The distinction was just, disinterested, and worthy the discernment of
a mind like that of your brother.

Clifton says that, though he cannot think like Frank [We hope to make
him, Louisa.] yet he cannot but admire the magnanimity with which he
acts up to his principles, and proves his sincerity.

Oh, my friend! You can conceive all the terrors of the scene! So fine a
youth, so accomplished, so brave, the brother of my Louisa, brought to
Paris to meet an untimely death! I the cause of his coming thither! I
the innocent instigator of this last rash act! The eyes of all upon me!
The horror of suspense!--It was indeed a trial!

Yet who knows what accidents may occur in life? Who can sufficiently
cherish fortitude; and by anticipating defy misfortune? Violently as my
feelings were assaulted, there yet may be, there are, shocks more
violent, scenes more dreadful in the world. Nor is it impossible but
that such may be my lot. And if they were, I hope I still should bear
up against them all.

It is true I may not always have a Frank Henley to cherish and inspire
hope. His constant theme was--'He is not dead!' And I once heard him
murmuring to himself, with a kind of prophetic energy--'He shall not
die!'--It was this _shall not_ by which he was saved: for, with any
other creature upon earth, I am persuaded he had been gone for ever. Oh
this noble perseverance! It is indeed a godlike virtue!

The Count is less in spirits, less extravagant, since this accident. It
seems to hang upon his mind, as if he had been out-braved. His anxiety,
as might well be expected from such a temper, was excessive, while
Clifton was in danger: but he seems to repent now, that he did not
follow the mad example. _Parbleu! Madame, je suis Provencal; on dit que
j'ai la tete un peu chaude; mais Messieurs les Anglois vont diablement
vite aux epreuves! Mes compatriotes meme ne sont pas si fous!--Je ne
suis pas content de moi--J'aurais du faire le saut--J'aurais sauve la
vie a man rival! Voila une belle occasion manquee, et beaucoup de
gloire a jamais perdue pour moi!_[1]

[Footnote 1: 'Sdeath! Madam, I am a native of Provence, and they tell
me I am a little crazy: but these Englishmen are in a confounded hurry
to come to the proof! My own countrymen are less lunatic!--I am not
satisfied with myself. I ought to have leaped after him: I should have
saved the life of my rival! It was losing a glorious opportunity; and I
have robbed myself of thus much fame for ever!]

My mind at present is not entirely tranquil. The recollection of a
temper so rash as Clifton's preys upon me. Yet, where there are
qualities so high, and powers so uncommon, shall I despair? Shall I
shrink from an act of duty? It is a task I have prescribed to myself.
Shall I witness the fortitude of Frank, and be myself so easily
discomfited? No, Louisa. Clifton shall be ours--_Shall be!_--Shall be
the brother of Louisa, the friend of Frank, and the better part of
Anna. Yes, I too will be determined! I like Frank will say 'He is not
dead! He shall not die!'

A. W. ST. IVES

LETTER XLVI

_The Honourable Mrs. Clifton to Frank Henley_

_Rose-Bank_

Sir,

If the praises, prayers, and thanks, of a woman whom disease has robbed
of more than half her faculties, could be of any value, if the
overflowing heart of a mother could but speak its throbs, if admiration
of gifts so astonishing and virtues so divine could be worthy your
acceptance, or could reward you for all the good you have done us, I
would endeavour to discharge the unexampled and unmerited obligation.

But no, sir; you are superior to these. I write not for your sake, but
for my own; that I may endeavour to relieve myself of sensations that
oppress me. I feel it incumbent on me to write; yet what can I say? I
have no words. I despair of any opportunity of retribution: I am aged,
infirm, and feeble. I am going down to the grave; but still I have life
enough to revive and feel a new existence, at the recital of your
virtues!

Forgive this short effusion, from the exuberant heart of a mother, who
wishes but is wholly unable to say how much she admires you.

M. CLIFTON

LETTER XLVII

_Louisa Clifton to Frank Henley_

_Rose-Bank_

Sir,

I, like my dear mamma, am impelled to endeavour to return thanks for
benefits, at the recollection of which the heart sinks, and all thanks
become inadequate and vain. Yet suffer a sister's thanks for a brother
spared, pardoned, and restored to life! Restored at the hazard of your
own, and after a mortal affront received! Restored by the energies of
fortitude, sagacity, and affection!

Indeed, sir, I cannot tell you what I feel. It is utterly impossible.
Imagine me your friend, your sister. Command my life, it is yours.
Yours not so much because the youth you have saved happened to be my
brother, as for the true esteem I have for qualities so exalted. This
is not the first time you have excited my admiration, and permit me to
add my love. Your heart is too noble to misunderstand me. I love
virtue, in man or woman; and if that be sin may I be ever sinful!

I would wish you the joys of heaven, but my wishes are vain; you have
them already: nor can a mind like yours be robbed of them, by all the
powers of man or accident.

L. Clifton

LETTER XLVIII

_Louisa Clifton to Anna Wenbourne St. Ives_

_Rose-Bank_

Your three last letters, my dear Anna, have affected me in a very
uncommon manner. The pure passion, the noble resignation, and the
fortitude of Frank Henley are unparalleled. Not to admire, not to
esteem, not to love such virtues is impossible. His unshaken patience,
his generosity, his forgiveness, his courage, his perseverance, are
inimitable proofs of his superiority. Who can forbear wishing him
success? Ought he not to command it; to say it is mine; truth and
justice dare not deny it to me?

Indeed, Anna, my mind is strangely in doubt. To be guilty of injustice
to such worth is surely no common guilt. And yet my brother--Headlong
lunatic! Whose intemperance is every moment hurrying him into
extremes.--I grant, my friend, his mind is worthy of being retrieved;
and it is a generous, a noble enterprize. Nay I own I sometimes
persuade myself it cannot fail, when Anna St. Ives and Frank Henley,
from motives so pure and with so much determination, engage in the
cause. But at others, I see peril at every step! I find my heart
reproaching me for not adjuring my mend to desist; for not exciting her
to bestow her hand on the man who of all others can most justly claim
it, as his right.

That I desire to see my brother all that emulation and wisdom could
make him, the friend and husband of my Anna, the rival of her virtues,
and the bosom intimate of him whom she is willing to forego for this
brother's sake; that I desire this, ardently, vehemently, is most true.
If the end be attainable, it is a noble enterprize. But the
difficulties! What are they? Have they been well examined?--I, with my
Anna, say mind can do all things with mind: truth is irresistible, and
must finally conquer. But it has many modes of conquering, and some of
them are tragical, and dreadful.

To see my Anna married to strife, wasting her fine powers to reform
habits which, though they may be checked, may perhaps be too deep ever
to be eradicated, to see all her exquisite sensibilities hourly preyed
upon by inefficient attempts to do good, for which instead of praise
and love she might meet neglect, reproach, or perhaps stern insult--Oh!
It is a painful thought! She would not pine; she would not weakly sink
into dejection, and desert her duties, in pity to her own
misfortunes.--No--But still it is an unhappy, nay, it is an abhorred
state.

I am bewildered. One train of reasoning overturns another, and I know
not what to advise. There are times in which these consequences appear
most probable; and there are others in which I say no, it is
impossible! Brutality itself could not be so senseless, so destructive
of its own felicity! Anna St. Ives would win a savage heart! And my
brother evidently has quick and delicate sensations; capable of great
good. But then are they not capable of great harm? Yes: but are they,
would they be capable of harm with her? Would not she command them,
regulate them, harmonize them? Again, and again, I know not.

One thing however let me add. Let me conjure the friend of my bosom not
to suffer herself to be swayed, by the remembrance of that friendship.
Nay, if she do not feel a certainty of success, let me intreat, let me
admonish her to desist, before it be too late; and before further
encouragement shall seem to authorize the presuming Clifton, for
presuming I am convinced he will be, to found claims upon her kindness.

Oh that he were indeed worthy of her! Would that he could but rise to
something like that enviable dignity! And can he not?--Indeed I would
not plead against him; but neither would I be instrumental in rendering
my friend, who is surely born a blessing to the earth, miserable.

I am angry with myself for my own indecision: but in vain; I have no
remedy. I sometimes conclude this indecision ought to act as a warning,
and for that reason I have painted my feelings as they are. If yours
should resemble them, I firmly and loudly say--Anna, desist! If not, I
then have no advice to give. For this I blame myself, but
ineffectually.

Be assured however that, under all circumstances of future life, be
they adverse or prosperous, my best wishes will be with you, and my
heart and soul ever yours.

L. CLIFTON

P.S. My mamma and I have mutually written to Frank Henley: you may
easily imagine in what tone and style. But I could wish my brother to
see our letters. We have both thought it best to forbear writing to
him; his temper being wayward, and tetchy. We would much rather he
should be obliged to feel, indirectly, what our opinions and sensations
are, than learn them from any formal address, which he is so liable to
misconstrue. It is most probable that Frank will not mention these
letters. But, if you shew him this, and being of my opinion will join
in the request, I have no doubt he will then comply. There is one
sentence in my letter which makes me likewise wish that Clifton should
know I have requested Frank would permit him to see what I have
written; otherwise that sentence might very probably by him be
misinterpreted. When you read the letter, you will instantly know which
I mean; the word love makes it conspicuous; and you will then perceive
my reason. To raise the mind, which is habituated to the suspicious
practices of the world, above those practices, and to make it feel that
the pure heart defies the pusillanimous imputation of want of delicacy,
is a difficult task. But let us, my Anna, continue to act and speak all
that our thoughts approve, void of the fear of accusation.

LETTER XLIX

_Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton_

_Paris, Hotel de l'Universite_

We are returned to Paris. The Marquis and his bride have taken leave of
their country pleasures, and are gone to Fontainebleau, to be presented
at court.

The strange incident of Clifton excited much conversation, in which my
name and his were frequently joined. The Count de Beaunoir became less
particular in his behaviour to me, in consequence of the reserve which
I thought it right to assume. I find however that he told Sir Arthur,
after running over a great number of enthusiastic epithets, in his wild
way, all in my praise, that he perceived at present I preferred
another; and that he had too high a sense of honour to put any
restraint on a lady's inclinations. But if my mind should change, and
his person, fortune, sword, and life could give me pleasure, they
should eternally be at my command. He likewise means in a few days to
follow the court to Fontainebleau, as he said; and he again repeated he
had lost a fine opportunity of convincing me how he adored me; and that
he was diablement fache.

Clifton has entirely altered his behaviour to Frank; he now treats him
with unaffected freedom and respect. But his impatience relative to me
has not abated. Tomorrow we are to have some conversation, after which
I imagine he wishes to make proposals to Sir Arthur.

Would you think, Louisa, that I sometimes suffer myself to be surprised
into fears; and that I then find myself ready to retract, or at least
questioning whether I ought to proceed.

There is something fatally erroneous in the impatient propensities of
the human mind. How seldom does it stay so fully to examine a question
as to leave no remaining doubt, and to act on a preconcerted and
consistent plan! Yet it never acts with safety, or with satisfaction,
except when it has or imagines it has made this examination. If our
motives be few, slow, and feeble, we then are heavy, dull, and stupid:
if they be quick, numerous, and strong, we are too apt implicitly to
obey first impulses, and to hurry headlong into folly and extravagance.
Yet these last only can give energy; and, having them, wisdom will
consist in being able to curb them, so as to give full time for
consideration.

The conscious want of this in myself is what I blame. How often am I
surprised by unexpected circumstances, which I ought to have foreseen,
and against which I ought to have provided! If I have any doubts of
myself, if I am not certain of producing those effects on the mind of
Clifton which I know I ought to be able to produce, it becomes me to
recede. Or rather it becomes me to apply myself, with the resolution of
which I am so ready to vaunt, to attain that which is attainable, to
discover the true means, the clue to his mind, and to persevere.

I have sometimes suspected myself of being influenced by his fine form,
and the charms of his wit and gaiety. At others I have even doubted
whether I were not more actuated by an affection for my Louisa, than by
a sense of incumbent duty. But, consider the subject how I will, that
there is a duty, and that I am called upon to fulfil it, is an unerring
decision.

There must be no concealment. I must explain my whole chain of
reasonings to him: for nothing appears more indubitable to me than that
duplicity never can conduce to good. The only fear is that I should be
deficient in my detail, and present my plan so as to give it a false
appearance. Truth partially told becomes falsehood: and it was a kind
of blind consciousness of this which first induced men to countenance
dissimulation. They felt their inability to do justice to truth, and
therefore concluded hypocrisy was a virtue, and, strange to tell, truth
itself sometimes a vice. It was a lamentable mistake. It is partial
truth, or in other words falsehood, which is the vice.

Clifton has from the beginning been a great favourite with Sir Arthur.
He contradicts none of my father's prejudices; he admires grounds and
parks beautifully laid out; has a taste for architecture; points out
the defects and excellencies of the buildings of France with much
discrimination; has a great respect, like Sir Arthur, for family, and
prides himself in being the son of an honourable mother; recounts, in a
pleasant and lively manner, the anecdotes he has heard; and relates his
own adventures, so as to render them amusing. There is therefore no
fear of opposition from Sir Arthur.

He has another advantage with the family. My uncle, Lord Fitz-Allen, is
at present in Paris, on his return from Switzerland, and Clifton has
been introduced to him by his kinsman, Lord Evelyn, who is making a
short excursion to the south of France. The near relationship of your
brother to this noble lord has given him great consequence with my
uncle, who has once more condescended to restore me to favour. Could I
or did it become me entirely to conceal those feelings which his
arrogance inspires, I should stand much higher in his esteem. As it is,
he acts more from the love of his rank and family, that is of himself,
than of me; and has accordingly signified his mandatory approbation to
Sir Arthur. As nothing however in the way of family advantage is to be
expected from him, he having several children and a prodigious quantity
of dignity to maintain, his behest is not altogether so omnipotent as
it might otherwise be.

My brother, agreeably to his grandfather's will, has taken possession
of the Edgemoor estate, which is eight hundred a year. This I imagine
will oblige Sir Arthur, in despite of his predilection, to retrench
some of his improving expences. He mentioned the circumstance to me,
and I thought that a good opportunity once more to attack his ruling
passion. Our conversation soon became animated. I boldly descanted on
the use and abuse of riches, on the claims of honest distress, and on
the turpitude of seeking self-gratifications, and neglecting to promote
the great ends for which men ought to live, the spreading of truth, the
rewarding of genius, and the propagation of mind.

But it was to little purpose. Sir Arthur did not understand me; and I
was more angry at myself than at him, as well I might be, for wanting
the power to render myself intelligible. He as usual was amazed to hear
he had not a right to do what he pleased with his own, and to be told
it was not his own. Nor was he sparing in pettish reproof to the
self-sufficient young lady, who thought proper to dispute the propriety
and wisdom of his projects.

The question that continually occurs to me is, when shall those beings
who justly claim superiority of understanding, and thence a right to
direct the world, find some simple and easy mode of convincing the
mistaken, and by conviction of eradicating error?

Adieu. Blessings be with you. I shall most probably write by the next
post, for I wish you to be as perfectly acquainted as possible with
every thing that passes, that I may profit by the advice of a friend so
dear, so true, and so discerning.

A. W. ST. IVES

P.S. Your last letter is this moment come to hand, and has strongly
revived trains of ideas that of late have repeatedly passed through my
own mind. It confirms me in the resolution of being very sincere with
your brother. But, unless my sincerity should so far offend him, as to
induce him voluntarily to recede, it likewise shews me it is my duty to
persist. At least such is the result of all the arguments I hold with
myself, whenever the subject presents itself to me, either through the
medium of my own imagination, or pictured by others. I will write soon.
I approve the reasoning in your postscript, will shew it to Frank, and
will ask him to let me and Clifton see the letters, who shall likewise
know it is by your desire.

LETTER L

_Sir Arthur St. Ives to Abimelech Henley_

_Paris, Hotel de l'Universite_

I have received yours of the 30th ult.[1] honest Aby, and it gave me
great pleasure to hear you had so much dispatch. Wenbourne-Hill is the
garden of Eden. The more I see the more I am convinced. What is there
here to be compared to my temples, and my groves, and my glades? Here a
mount and a shrubbery! There a dell concealed by brambles! On your
right a statue! On your left an obelisk, and a sun-dial! The obelisk is
fixed, yet the dial shews that time is ever flying. Did you ever think
of that before, Aby?

[Footnote 1: Omitted.]

Apropos of this dial: Sir Alexander I remember said it was useless half
the day; because it was shaded from the sun to the west and the north,
by the old grove. His advice was that the grove should be grubbed up;
but it certainly would be much easier to remove the sun dial, obelisk,
and all.

I am so delighted with the recollection of these things, Abimelech,
that I had half forgotten the reason of my writing to you. The subject
is disagreeable enough; and I should not be sorry if I were never to
remember it more.

I very much fear we must stop our improvements. My son has claimed and
entered upon the Edgemoor estate. I thought myself sure that he would
remain satisfied as he was till my death. What could be more
reasonable? I argued with him to the very utmost, but to no purpose. He
is in great haste to set up for himself; and I don't know whether he
would not eject me out of Wenbourne-Hill, if he had the power. In vain
did I tell him that his pay in the guards, added to the three hundred
a-year which I had before allowed him, was more than any young man knew
how properly to spend. He has only himself to think of; and he very
positively declares he never means to have a family, for he will never
marry. I believe he is quite serious in his declaration: and if so,
what does he want with an estate of eight hundred a-year? He ought to
consider that; and to remember that a provision must be made for his
sister. But no; he considers only himself.

Indeed I hear but an indifferent account of him: he is a fashionable
gentleman, and would rather squander his money at the gaming-table,
than suffer it to remain in the family. He has been a wild youth. I
have sometimes wondered where he got all the money which I am told he
has spent. Not from me I am sure. And though I have often heard of his
deep play, I do not remember to have ever heard of his winning. But he
follows his own course. My arguments that I had the family dignity to
support, his sister to marry, and mortgages to pay off, were all in
vain.

He was equally deaf when I pleaded the improvements that I was making;
all for his sake. For you know, Aby, he is to have them when I am gone:
and go I must, some time or another.

He had even the confidence to tell me that, if Wenbourne-Hill were his,
he would quickly undo every thing that I have been doing.

Is not this a sad thing, Aby? For what have I been labouring? Have not
we both spent our lives in contriving? How many charming thoughts have
we had! What pleasure have we taken in planting and pulling up, digging
and scattering, watering and draining, turfing and gravelling!

Talking of water, Aby, I cannot forbear mentioning a most delightfully
romantic lake, which I have met with in the park of the Marquis de
Villebrun. It is the only thing, in the laying out of grounds, that I
have seen to please me in all France. One part of it a fine level: such
a sweep! At the other extremity nothing but rocks and precipices. Your
son Frank threw himself headlong down one of them, into the water, to
save a gentleman's life. Were you but to see it, you would be
astonished. They have called it the Englishman's leap. I would not do
such a thing for a million of money. I should be dead enough if I did.

But Frank is a bold young man, and I assure you, Aby, highly esteemed
by my daughter; ay and by myself too, and by every body: very highly
indeed. He was the whole talk for I know not how many days.

But about this money, Aby. I shall soon want a good round sum, if I am
not mistaken. I may venture, Aby, to give you a hint that I expect very
soon, indeed I don't know how soon, a proposal should be made to me for
my daughter: and if it be, I am so pleased with the party, who let me
tell you is a fine spirited young fellow, that I assure you I shall not
think of refusing my consent; especially as he is so much in the good
graces of my daughter. In this case, I cannot do less than pay twenty
thousand pounds down.

I am afraid, honest Aby, we must renounce the wilderness! But when you
know the party, I think you will allow I could not act otherwise.

Indeed, I find, however we may please ourselves, we can never satisfy
our children. Here too has Anna been lecturing me, about money thrown
away, as she is pleased to conceive; and has said a great deal indeed,
against what I thought could not have been found fault with. But so it
is! Friends, relations, children, all are wiser than ourselves! All are
ready enough to discover or to suppose blemishes! Would you think it
possible for any body to be acquainted with Wenbourne-Hill and do any
thing but admire? My hope, nay my determination was to have made it the
paradise of England, and to have drawn strangers far and near to come
and be delighted with its beauties. But these rubs and crosses put one
out of heart with the most excellent thoughts and contrivances.

Let me know what you think can be done in these money matters, if
things should be as I expect. You are perfectly acquainted with the
state of my affairs. I see no way but that of mortgaging more deeply.

It is exceedingly vexatious to think of stopping our proceedings, Aby.
But what can be done? However, as I do not intend to stay much longer
here, we can talk more to the purpose on these matters when we meet in
England.

Perhaps it would be better to begin by discharging the workmen
gradually; which you will find proper opportunities to do, Aby. And if
you were, by way of talk in the neighbourhood, to say that you thought
nothing more could be done to Wenbourne-Hill, and that you had reason
to believe that was my opinion likewise, such a report might tie the
tongues of cavillers: for I would not have it thought we stop for want
of money.

You may write to me here, in answer to this; for we shall not leave
Paris before your letter will come to hand. And so, good Abimelech,
farewell.

A. ST. IVES

P.S. I will not tell you the name of the party from whom I expect the
proposal, honest Aby; because if he should be shy of speaking, as
youngsters sometimes are, it might come to nothing; but I may hint to
you, that you are well acquainted with his family; and I dare say you
will not be sorry for the match, it being so agreeable to my daughter's
inclination; though I grant it may not be so good a one as my sister
Wenbourne, and others of the family, have been expecting; because of
Anna's beauty and accomplishments, which I own might well merit a man
of higher birth and fortune. But the little hussy has been so nice, and
squeamish, that I began to fear she would take up her silly
spend-thrift brother's whim, and determine to live single: therefore I
shall not balk her, now she seems in the humour.

LETTER LI

_Abimelech Henley to Frank Henley_

_Wenbourne-Hill_

Why, ay! To be sure! This will do! I shall be fain to think a summut of
ee, now you can flamgudgin 'em a thisn. I did'nt a think it was innee.
Why you will become a son of my own begettin. I write to tellee the
good news, and that ee mightn't a kick down the milk. You have a
sifflicated Sir Arthur. I could a told ee afore that you had a
sifflicated Missee. But I was afeard as that you wur a too adasht. But
I tellee it will do! Father's own lad! An ear-tickler! Ay, ay! That's
the trade! Sugar the sauce, and it goes down glibly.

Listen to me. I a learnt the secret on't. What was I, I pray you?
Pennyless Aby! Wet and weary! And what am I now? A tell me that. Why
I'm a worth--But that's a nether here nor there, I tellee. And what may
you be an you please? What should I a bin, an I ad had your settins
out? Why Ide a bin what Ide a pleased. A dooke, mayhap; or a lord mayor
of Lunnun?--No--A sekittary prime minister?--No--A member of
parliament?--No--Ide a bin treasurer!--Treasurer of the three kinkdums.
Ide a handled the kole!--I've a feathered my nest as it is; and what
would I a done then thinkee?

Stick close to Sir Arthur. Mind your hits, and you have him a safe
enough. Didn't I always tellee you must catch 'n by the ear? A cunnin
curr always catches a pig by the ear. He expects a proposal for Missee;
he does not a know how soon. And who does he expect to propose? Guess,
Nicodemus, if you can. Do you mind me? He shan't refuse his consent.
Mark you me that! They are his own words. Twenty thousand pounds down!
His own words again. What do you say to me now? It's all your own! I
mean it's all _our_ own--Do you mind me? For who have you to thank for
it? I tellee it is but ask and have--And how do I know that?--What's
that to you, Dolt?--No, no--You are a no dolt now--You are a good lad.

I tellee I'm in the secret! So do you flamdazzle Missee. I a heard of
your jumpins and swimmins: and so that you do but swim to the main
chance, why ay! That's a summut! I a bin to Clifton-Hall. For why? I
begind to smell a rat! And there I talked with t'other Missee. I a
palavered her over. I a ferretted and a feagued and a worked and a
wormed it all out of she. Your name is up! You may go to bed! Do you
mind me? You may go to bed to twenty thousand pounds! It is as good as
all your own.

I am a to find the kole: that is, I first havin and holdin the
wherewithalls, and the whys, and the wherefores. And so do you see me,
I expect to have the handlin ont--But that's a nether here nor there.
Sir Arthur as good as said it to me--So don't a stand like a Gabriel
Gallymaufry all a mort, shilly shally, I would if I durst--A dip in the
skimmin dish and a lick of the fingur--That's a not the way with a
maiden--What! A don't I know?--Make up to Missee, and say to her,
Missee! Here am I! My name is Frank Henley! My father's name is
Abimelech Henley! A's a cunnin warm old codger--A tell her that--And
says you, here Missee says you am I, at your onnurable Ladyship's
reverend sarvice. My father has a got the rhino--A don't forget to tell
her that--Smug and snug and all go snacks--Do you mind me? And so, says
you, I have a paradventerd umbelly to speak my foolish thofts, says
you. That is take me ritely, your Ladyship, says you; under your
Ladyship's purtection and currection, and every think of that there
umbel and very submissive obedient kind, says you. And so says you, do
ee see me Missee, I onnurs and glorifies your Ladyship; and am ready to
have and to hold, says you; go fairly go fouly, be happy be lucky, any
day o'the week, says you; I and my father, honest Aby, says you. He can
raise the wind, says you! He can find the wherewithalls to pay for
lawyer's parchment, says you--But mind, that's a nether here nor
there--So a here Missee stands I, says you; I and my honest old
father--A's got the marygolds, says you! The gilly flowers, the yellow
boys, says you! Golore!--But that's a nether here nor there.

So do you tell her all a that I bid ee, and a mind your pees and cues.
Who knows but Wenbourne-Hill itself may be one day all our own? I say
who knows? There be old fools and young fools--I tellee that--Old
planners, and improvers, and bite bubbles; and young squitter
squanders, gamblers, and chouse chits--Mark you me that--And there be
wax and parchment too--Ay and post obits[1]; and besides all doosoors
and perkissits. A what is money good for but to make money? A tell me
that.

[Footnote 1: The original reads postt-off bites. The context suggested
post obits, which reading is confirmed by succeeding letters. The
syllable _bits_ might very naturally, in the mind of honest Aby, be
changed into _bites_. Dates have for certain reasons been omitted; but,
from this and other passages, we may perceive that the date of this
correspondence is antecedent to the bill for protecting minors against
usury.]

And so in the name and the lovin kindness of the mercifool sufferins of
almighty goodness, and peace and glory and heavenly joys, no more at
present.

ABIMELECH HENLEY

LETTER LII

_Abimelech Henley to Sir Arthur St. Ives_

_Wenbourne-Hill_

Most onnurable Sir, my ever onnurd Master,

For certainly your noble onnur knows best. And thof I have
paradventerd, now and tan, umbelly to speak my foolish thofts, and
haply may again a paradventer, when your most exceptionable onnur shall
glorify me with a hearing, in sitch and sitch like cramp cases and
queerums as this here; yet take me ritely, your noble onnur, it is
always and evermore with every think of that there umbel and very
submissive obedient kind.

My younk Lady Missee is as elegunt a my Lady younk Missee as any in the
three kink's kinkdums. A who can gain say it? She is the flour of the
flock, I must a say that. The whole country says it. For why, as
aforesaid, a who can gain say it? A tell me that! Always a savin and
exceptin your noble onnur, as in rite and duty boundin. What, your most
gracious onnur, a hannot I had the glory and the magnifisunce to dangle
her in my arms, before she was a three months old? A hannot I a known
her from the hour of her birth? Nay, as a I may say, afore her blessed
peepers a twinkled the glory of everlastin of infinit mercifool
commiseration and sunshine? A didn't I bob her here, and bob her there;
a up and a down, aback and afore and about, with a sweet gracious a
krow and a kiss for honest poor Aby, as your onnur and your onnurable
Madam, my Lady, ever gracious to me a poor sinner used then to call me?

Not but those times are a passt. But, a savin and exceptin your noble
onnur, that's a nether here nor there. I may hold up my head as well as
another. A why not? When so be as a man has no money, why then, a savin
and exceptin your onnur's reverence, a's but a poor dog. But when so be
as a man as a got the rhino, why then a may begin to hold up his head.
A why not? Always a savin and exceptin your noble onnur, as aforesaid.

Your noble onnur knows that I'm a be apt to let my tongue mag a little,
when my wits be a set a gaddin; and whereupon the case is as witch your
noble onnur was pleased to sifflicate me upon, in your last rite
onnurable and mercifool letter. For why? A man's son as I may say is
himself; and twenty thousand pounds, thof it be not a penny too much,
is somethink. For witch the blessin and glory of goodness and praise be
with the donors. Nevertheless that there will likewise be the
wherewithalls, mayhap, notwithstandin, when my head comes to be laid
low. Thof if so be I cannot but say that a man would rather a not think
of that there, if a could help it. A savin and exceptin that the
blessin and glory and power and praise of the saints, and the martyrs,
and the profits, and the cherubims and serafims, and the amen
allelujahs, might a be summut to a dyin soul; when a has had, god be
mercifool unto us, time for repentance, and the washin away of the sins
of this wickedness world, by good deeds, and charity, and mercy, and
lovin kindness unto all men; when the poor miserable sinner, with
groans, and tears, and eternal terrifyins of the flamin prince Lucifer
Belzebub of darkness everlastin is at last obliged to take leave of the
soul from the body. Ah, a well a day! Man is a reprobation race! A's a
given over to sin, and to shame, and to backslidins, and to the slough
of despond, and to the valley of the shaddow of death, and if a has
not, miserable sinner, a time to repent, of a witch be evermore granted
unto us all, world without end. Amen! Amen!

Ah, dear a me, what have I a bin talkin to your most gracious onnur? I
was a meant to tell your noble onnur that the twenty thousand pounds
mayhap might a be forth cummin; on proper occasions, and certificates,
and securities, and doosoors, and perkissits; all of the witch, as my
ever onnurd master aforetime knows, there is no a doin a business
without. For why?--Money is money, and land is land; and there be
troubles, and takins, and seekins, and enquirins, and profit and loss,
and ifs and mayhaps, and all a that there; of the witch there is no a
doing without. But nevertheless I dares to say, likewise and
notwithstandin as aforesaid, that the money may be a forth cummin.

Nay and if so be the witch that I might a paradventer to advise, but
that to be sure I should not a like to have it a thoft that I should
perk and put in my oar, all agog to my betters, and moreover one of his
majesty's baronets, otherwise I should say nevertheless as aforesaid
that the younk lady is the flour of the flock; and if so be as I had
the onnurable grace and blessin to be her father, I would a give her
and a make over to her, now and evermore hereafter, all a that the law
would a let me. And a let 'em tell me, your noble onnur, who desarves
it better. What! Isn't she, as I may say, the very firmament of the
power and glory of praise? What is ivory and alablaster a parallel to
her? Let 'em a tell me that! If I wus the onnurable father of sitch
ever mercifool affability, would a not I be fain to give her gems and
rubies, and carbuncles, if I had 'em? Who should gain say me? A savin
and exceptin your ever exceptionable and noble onnur. I wouldn't a be
meant to be thoft to put in a word for meself, by no manner of account;
no, no; far be it from me; but in other partikillers, if so be that it
wus me meself, I shouldn't a grutch her kinkdums. And ast to thwartin
and knatterin and crossin the kindly sweet virginal soul, ever blessed
as she is, in love, for what truly? Your noble onnur has too much
bowels of fatherly miseration. No, no! Your noble onnur has a clencht
it; take her now she is in the humour. Whereby maidens be wayward and
fain and froward and full of skittish tricks, when they be happen to be
crossed in love. Take her in the humour your wise and alwise noble
onnur.

Whereof your onnur was a menshinnin a stagnation to be put in the spoke
of the wheel of improvements. Whereof if I might a paradventer to put
in my oar, I should say why that should be as it might a be happen.
When if as I should ever live to see the glorious day of this marriage
match rejoice the heart of Wenbourne-Hill, why then I should know how
to speak my poor thofts. For why? All would then be clear and above
board; and we should all a know who and who was together. That would be
summut! We might then a be happen to raise the wind; and the
wherewithalls might a be forth cummin.

And so, as matters and thinks is likely to turn out, to be sure I must
say that your onnur has a hit the nail on the head. Whereof as your
onnur has a ushered your commands, I shall begin to take care of the
kole, and send them there rapscallions a packin.

And as to the flickers and fleers of the neighbours, your onnurable
onnur, a leave me to humdudgin they. I'll a send their wits a
wool-gatherin. For why? Your onnurable onnur has always a had my lovin
kindness of blessins of praise, as in duty boundin. For certainly I
should be fain to praise the bridge that a carries me safe over. And
now that your onnur is a thinkin of a more of lovin kindness and
mercies, to me and mine, why a what should I say now? Why I should say
and should glorify, to all the world, that your onnur is my ever
onnured and rite most mercifool bountifool faithfool and disrespectfool
kind master; and that I be your ever rite and most trusty true honest
Aby; and every think of that there umbel and very submissive obedient
kind, as in duty boundin.

But I a bin a thinkin, your ever gracious onnur, that a behap the
kintlin may stand alooft, and a hang--, and a be adasht. And a what is
to be done then? Why then, whereupon if that your ever gracious onnur
would but be so all mercifool in goodness as to say the word, why we
should be upon sure ground, and all our quips and quandaries and
afterclaps would a be chouse clickt. I most umbelly pray and besiege
your onnur to be so mercifool as to think o' that there! Do ee, your
ever gracious onnur! I pray your onnur, doo ee! Then we should a be all
sound and safe over, and it would all a be holiday at Wenbourne-Hill! A
that would be a glorified day! The lawjus mighty, ay! It would!

Witch is all in praise and onnur of the glory and peace to come,
thanksgivin and gladness; umbelly beggin leave to super scribe me self,

ABIMELECH HENLEY

I needn't a say nothink of a concernin of a dockin of the entail, to
your onnur. For why? As your onnur knows, nothink can be done, in the
way of the kole and the wherewithalls, without a that there. But ast
for that, a that argufies nothink. For why? His younk onnur, I knows,
will be a willin enough; that is, settin the case of a proviso of a
doosoor consideration in ready rhino for himself. A told me himself,
his younk onnur, that a will have that. A says a will sell his chance,
and a doesn't a care how soon; but a wonnot give it away. Witch if so
be as it be not to be helpt, why a what be to be done, your onnur?

LETTER LIII

_Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton_

_Paris, Hotel de l'Universite_

Your brother has this moment left me. Our conversation has been
animated; and, as usual, I sit down to commit what has passed to paper,
while it is fresh on my memory.

He began with the warmest expressions of the force of his passion. I
have no reason to doubt of their sincerity; and, if affection can be
productive of the end which I hope, its strength ought to give me
pleasure. He would scarcely suffer me to suppose it possible there
could be any cause of difference between us: let me but name my
conditions and they should be fulfilled. He would undertake all that I
did, all that I could require; and it was with difficulty that I could
persuade him of the possibility of promising too fast. This introduced
what was most material in our dialogue.

My heart assures me, madam, said he, that I never gave you the least
cause to suspect the sincerity and ardour of my passion: and I should
hope that the fears, which I have sometimes thought you too readily
entertained, are now dissipated.

My fears are chiefly for, or rather of, myself. I doubt whether any
person has so high an opinion of the powers and energy of your mind as
I have: but I think those powers ill directed, and in danger of being
lost.

I own, madam, I have been sometimes grieved, nay piqued, to perceive
that you do not always think quite so well of me as I could wish.

You wrong me. You yourself do not think so highly of yourself as I do.

Yet you suppose me to be in danger?

Of being misled. Some of my opinions and principles, or some of yours,
are erroneous, for they differ; I cannot at this moment but perceive
how liable I am to be misunderstood. I cannot be insensible of the
awkwardness of the situation in which I now place myself. My age, my
sex, the customs of the world, a thousand circumstances contribute to
cast an air of ridicule upon what ought to be very serious. But I must
persist. Do you endeavour to forget these circumstances; and consider
only the words, not the girl by whom they are spoken.

It is not you, madam, but I who ought to dread appearing ridiculous.
But for your sake--Let me but obtain your favour, and make me as
ridiculous as you please.

I told you so!--Should the lordly lettered man submit to have his
principles questioned, by an untutored woman? Be sincere: your mind
revolts at it?

I feel the justness of your satire. Men are tyrants.

Prejudice is a tyrant: there is no other tyranny.

Madam!

That is one of my strange opinions. It may be true; I am willing to
think it is. Such things are indifferent to me. Let me but have your
consent, to speak to Sir Arthur, and I have accomplished all I wish. I
do not desire to trouble myself with examining opinions, true or false.
I am determined to be of your opinion, be it what it will.

That is, you avow that the gratification of your desires is the chief
pursuit of your life. We have now found the essential point on which we
differ.

Is not happiness, madam, the universal pursuit? Must it not, ought it
not to be?

Yes. But the grand distinction is between general and individual
happiness. The happiness that centres in the good of the whole may for
the present find momentary interruption, but never can be long
subverted: while that individual happiness, of which almost the whole
world is in pursuit, is continually blundering, mistaking its object,
losing its road, and ending in disappointment.

Then, madam, we must all turn monks, preach self-denial, fast, pray,
scourge away our sins, live groaning, and die grieving.

[I smiled. It is his usual way, when he thinks I am got a little in the
clouds, to draw some humorous or satirical picture, to bring me down to
what he esteems common-sense. But, as I am convinced that truth only
need to be repeated, and insisted on, whenever there is an opportunity,
in order finally to be received, the best way is always to join in the
laugh, which is inoffensive, unless pettishness give it a sting.]

You find yourself obliged at present to consider me as a whimsical
girl, with a certain flow of spirits, and much vanity, desiring to
distinguish herself by singularity?

No, madam, whatever you may think of me, my heart will not endure a
thought to your disadvantage.

Nay, nay, forbear your kind reproaches. Every time you differ with me
in sentiment, you cannot but think something to my disadvantage. It is
so with all of us. The very end of this present explanation is
sincerity. We each think well of the other: but do we think
sufficiently well? Is there a certainty that our thoughts are in no
danger of changing? Of all the actions of private life, there is not
one so solemn as that of vowing perpetual love: yet the heedless levity
with which it is daily performed, proves that there is scarcely one on
which less serious reflection is bestowed. Can we be too careful not to
deceive ourselves? Ought we not minutely to examine our hopes and
expectations? Ought not you and I, in particular, to be circumspect?
Our imaginations are vivid, our feelings strong, our views and desires
not bounded by common rules. In such minds, passions, if not subdued,
become ungovernable, and fatal.

I am very conscious, madam--

Nay, do not fancy I seek to accuse: my purpose is very different. My
mind is no less ardent than yours, though education and habit may have
given it a different turn. It glows with equal zeal to attain its end.
Where there is much warmth, much enthusiasm, I suspect there is much
danger. We had better never meet more, than meet to be miserable.

For heaven's sake, madam, do not torture me with so impossible a
supposition!

You expect one kind of happiness, I another. Can they coalesce? You
imagine you have a right to attend to your appetites, and pursue your
pleasures. I hope to see my husband forgetting himself, or rather
placing self-gratification in the pursuit of universal good, deaf to
the calls of passion, willing to encounter adversity, reproof, nay
death, the champion of truth, and the determined the unrelenting enemy
of error.

I think, madam, I dare do all that can be required of me.

I know your courage is high. I know too that courage is one of the
first and most essential qualities of mind. Yet perhaps I might and
ought to doubt, nay to ask, whether you dare do many things.

What is it, madam, that I dare not do?

Dare you receive a blow, or suffer yourself falsely to be called liar,
or coward, without seeking revenge, or what honour calls satisfaction?
Dare you think the servant that cleans your shoes is your equal, unless
not so wise or good a man; and your superior, if wiser and better? Dare
you suppose mind has no sex, and that woman is not by nature the
inferior of man?--

Madam--

Nay, nay, no compliments; I will not be interrupted--Dare I you think
that riches, rank, and power, are usurpations; and that wisdom and
virtue only can claim distinction? Dare you make it the business of
your whole life to overturn these prejudices, and to promote among
mankind that spirit of universal benevolence which shall render them
all equals, all brothers, all stripped of their artificial and false
wants, all participating the labour requisite to produce the
necessaries of life, and all combining in one universal effort of mind,
for the progress of knowledge, the destruction of error, and the
spreading of eternal truth?

There is such energy, madam, in all you say, that, while I listen to
you, I dare do any thing, dare promise any thing.

Nay, but the daring of which I speak, must be the energy of your own
mind, not of mine.

Do not distress yourself and me with doubts, madam. I have heard you
yourself say that truth ultimately must prevail. I may differ with you
in some points; but I am willing to hear, willing to discuss; and, if
truth be on your side, there can be no danger.

The only danger is in the feeble or false colouring which the defenders
of truth may give it, and not in truth itself.

I am too well convinced of your power to feel your doubts. You oblige
me to see with your eyes, hear with your ears, believe what you
believe, and reject what you think incredible. I am and must be
whatever you please to make me. You have but to prescribe your own
conditions.

Prescribe I must not. If I can persuade, if I can win upon your mind--

If--! You won my whole soul the very first moment I saw you! Not a word
or action of mine but what has proclaimed the burning impatience of my
passion!

True: the burning impatience--Your eagerness to assent will not suffer
you to examine. Your opinions and principles are those which the world
most highly approves, and applauds: mine are what it daily calls
extravagant, impracticable, and absurd. It would be weak in me to
expect you should implicitly receive remote truths, so contradictory to
this general practice, till you have first deeply considered them. I
ask no such miracle. But if I can but turn your mind to such
considerations, if I can but convince you how inestimable they are,
even to yourself as well as to the world at large, I shall then have
effected my purpose.

Of that, madam, be sure--You shall see!--Upon my honour, you shall!--I
will order a fur-cap, a long gown, a white wand, and a pair of sandals
this very day! No Grecian ever looked more grave than I will! Nay, if
you desire it, razor shall never touch my chin more.

Well, well; equip yourself speedily, and I will provide you with a
wooden dish, a lanthorn, and a tub.

But then, having made your conditions, you now grant me your consent?

That is obliging me once more to put on my serious face--The danger in
which I so lately saw you hangs heavily on my mind; that and the warm
passions by which it was occasioned.

And my excess of ardour, to demonstrate my love, you regard as a proof
of my having none.

How passion overshoots itself! Your conclusion is as precipitate as was
your proof.

I cannot be cool, madam, on this subject. I wonder to see you so! Did
affection throb and burn in your bosom, as it does in mine, I am
persuaded it would be otherwise.

We are neither of us so entirely satisfied with each other as we ought
to be, to induce either me to consent or you to apply to Sir Arthur.

For heaven's sake, madam--

Hear me patiently, for a moment. Previous to this conversation, I was
convinced of the folly and danger of excessive haste. Should you
imagine I have any self-complacency or caprice to gratify, by delay,
you will do me great injustice: I solemnly protest I have none. My own
interest, had I no better motive, would make me avoid such conduct. The
inconsistencies and vain antics of the girl, which are justly enough
stigmatized by the epithets flirting and coquetry, are repaid tenfold
upon the wife. I would deal openly, honestly, and generously; but not
rashly. I have every predilection in your favour which you could wish;
such doubts excepted as I have declared. But I must not give either you
or the world cause to accuse me of levity. My consent to speak to Sir
Arthur would be generally understood as a pledge to proceed; not it is
true by me, if I saw just cause to retract: but, though I earnestly
desire to reform, I almost as earnestly wish not unnecessarily to
offend the prejudices of mankind.

Nay let me beg, let me conjure you--[He took both my hands with great
ardour.]

And let me beg too, let me conjure you, not to think meanly or unkindly
of me, when I tell you that I must insist on a short delay.

I will kneel! I will do any thing--!

Do nothing which your heart does not approve; it never can be the way
to forward any worthy suit. For my part, I must tell you, which you may
reckon among my faults, that when I have once considered a subject, I
am a very positive and determined girl. This may be thought obstinacy;
but such I am, and such therefore you ought to see me.

And when, madam, may I now presume to hope?

Do not speak as if you were displeased. Indeed it is far from my
intention to offend.

You are too well acquainted, madam, with your own power of pleasing, to
fear giving offence.

Far the contrary, for I fear it at this moment.

You are kind and killing both in a breath.--Be doubly kind, and suffer
me immediately to speak to Sir Arthur.

I told you I am fixed, and I assure you it is true.

When then may I hope?

I could have wished to have seen my friend, your sister, first: but
perhaps Sir Arthur may make some stay in London, and I should be sorry
to delay a moment longer than seems absolutely necessary. Let us both
consider what has passed this morning, and provided no new accident
should intervene--

Another leap from a rock?

Provided our approbation and esteem for each other should continue, and
increase, I will ask for no further delay, after we come to London.

Well, well. It is the poor lover's duty to thank his mistress for the
greatness of her condescension, even when he thinks she uses him
unkindly.

I was going to reply, but my enterprising gentleman--[Indeed, Louisa,
your brother is a bold youth]--snatched an unexpected embrace, with
more eagerness than fear, and then fell on one knee, making such a
piteous face for forgiveness, so whimsical, and indeed I may say witty,
that it was impossible to be serious. However, I hurried away, and thus
the conference ended.

And now, after reviewing what has passed, tell me, Louisa, ought I to
recede? Are not my hopes well founded? Must not the reiteration of
truth make its due impression, upon a mind like Clifton's? Can it fail?
Is he not the man who, for all the reasons formerly given, truly merits
preference?

I must not forget to tell you that Frank readily complied with your
request, and Clifton has seen the letters. He seems oppressed, as it
were, with a sense of obligation to Frank; which the latter endeavours
to convince him is wrong. Reciprocal duties, he says, always must exist
among mankind; but as for obligations, further than those, there are
none. A grateful man is either a weak or a proud man, and ingratitude
cannot exist; unless by ingratitude injustice be meant. Frank's
opinions appear to Clifton to be equally novel with mine; and must be
well understood, to escape being treated with mockery.

It is infinitely pleasing to me to perceive the fortitude with which
Frank resists inclination. He is almost as cheerful, and quite as
communicative, and desirous of making all around him happy, as ever.
His constancy, however, is not to be shaken, in one particular. I could
wish it were! It pains me to recollect that he will _persist, to the
end of time, in thinking me his, by right!_

I cannot proceed!

A. W. ST. IVES

LETTER LIV

_Coke Clifton to Guy Fairfax_

_Paris, Hotel de l'Universite_

Laugh at me if you will, Fairfax. Hoot! Hiss me off the stage! I am no
longer worthy of the confraternity of honest, bold, free and successful
fellows. I am dwindling into a whining, submissive, crouching, very
humble, yes if you please, no thank you Madam, dangler! I have been to
school! Have had my task set me! Must learn my lesson by rote, or there
is a rod in pickle for me! Yes! I! That identical Clifton; that bold,
gay, spirited fellow, who has so often vaunted of and been admired for
his daring! You may meet me with my satchel at my back; not with a
shining, but a whindling, lackadaisy, green-sickness face; blubbering a
month's sorrow, after having been flogged by my master, beaten by my
chum, and dropped my plum cake in the kennel.

'Tis very true, and I cut a damned ridiculous figure! But I'll remember
it. The time will come, or say my name is not Clifton.

Yet what am I to do? I am in for it, flounder how I will. Yes, yes! She
has hooked me! She dangles me at the end of her line, up the stream and
down the stream, fair water and foul, at her good pleasure! So be it.
But I will not forget.

Then she has such a way of affronting, that curse me if she does not
look as if she were doing me a favour: nay and, while she is present, I
myself actually think she is; and, if vexation did not come to my
relief, I believe I should so continue to think. She is the most
extraordinary of all heaven's creatures: and, in despite of my railing,
I cannot help declaring a most heavenly creature she is! Every body
declares the same. I wish you could but see her; for a single moment,
Fairfax; and, having gazed, could you but listen!--Her very soul is
music. Form, features, voice, all are harmony. Then were you to hear
her sing, and play--

But why the devil does she treat me thus? It is something to which I am
unaccustomed, and it does not sit easily upon me. If I tamely submit to
it may I--! I lie, in my teeth! Submit I must, bounce how I will. I
have no remedy--

She gives me the preference, 'tis true. But what sort of a preference?
Why a cold, scrutinizing, very considerative, all wisdom and no
passion preference. I do not think there is, upon the face of the whole
earth, so nauseous a thing as an over dose of wisdom; mixed up,
according to the modern practice, with a quantum sufficit of virture,
and a large double handful of the good of the whole. Yet this is the
very dose she prescribes for me! Ay, and I must be obliged to swallow
it too, let me make what wry faces I please, or my very prudent lady is
not so deeply in love but she can recede! And shall I not note down
this in my tablets?--

I was sufficiently piqued at the first delay. Why delay, when I offer?
Would you have thought, Fairfax, I should have been so very ready with
a tender of this my pleasant person, and my dear freedom? And could
you moreover have thought it would have been so haughtily
rejected?--No--Curse it! Let me do her justice, too. It is not
haughtily. She puts as many smiles, and as much sweetness, and
plausibility, into her refusal as heart could desire. But refusal it
is, nevertheless.

I must be further just to her: I must own that I have acted like a
lunatic--I am mad at the recollection!--

I told you of the young fellow--Frank Henley--Whom I talked of
chastising. Curse on my petulance! He has doubly chastised me since! He
has had his full revenge! And in such a generous, noble manner--I am
ashamed of myself--He has saved my life, and damn me if I do not feel
as if I could never forgive him. There was an end of me and my
passions. What business had he to interfere?--He did it too in such an
extraordinary style! He appears to have risked more, laboured more,
performed more for me than man almost ever did for his dearest and
sworn friend.

Mine was an act of such ridiculous phrensy that I am half ashamed
to tell what it was. I jumped headlong down a declivity, because I
knew I was a good swimmer, into a lake; but, like a blockhead, never
perceived that I should get stunned by the shelving of the rock, and
consequently drowned. And for what, truly? Why to prove to a vapouring,
crack-brained French Count, that he was a coward; because perhaps he
had not learned to swim! When I look back I have absolutely no patience
with myself!--

And then this generous Frank Henley!--After a still more seemingly
desperate leap than mine, and bringing me out of the water, dead as a
door nail, two hours did he incessantly labour to restore me to life!
I, who a few hours before had struck him! And here do I live to relate
all this!

I think I could have forgiven him any thing sooner than this triumph
over me. Yet he claims and forces my admiration. I must own he is a
dauntless fellow--Yes, he has a heart--! Damn him! I could kiss him one
minute and kill him the next!

He has been the hero of the women ever since. But they are safe enough,
for him. He has principles! He is a man of virtue, forsooth! He is not
the naughty cat that steals the cream! Let him be virtuous. Let him
lave in his own imaginary waters of purity; but do not let him offend
others, every moment, by jumping out and calling--'Here! Look at me!
How white and spotless I am!'

As I tell you, the women are bewitched to him; are all in love with
him! My sister, Louisa, does not scruple to tell him so, in her letter!
But she is one of these high-flyers. Nor can I for the soul of me
persuade myself that, family pride excepted, she--ay, she herself, my
she, would not prefer him to me. But these gentry are all so
intolerably prudent that, talk to them of passions, and they answer
they must not have any. Oh, no! They are above such mundane weakness!

As for him, he sits in as much stern state as the Old Red Lion of
Brentford. Yes, he is my Lord Chief Justice Nevergrin! He cannot
qualify, he! He is prime tinker to Madam Virtue, and carries no
softening epithets in his budget. Folly is folly, and vice vice in his
Good Friday vocabulary--Titles too are gilt gingerbread, dutch dolls,
punch's puppet show. A duke or a scavenger with him are exactly the
same--Saving and excepting the aforesaid exceptions, of wisdom, virtue,
and the good of the whole!

Did you never observe, Fairfax, how these fellows of obscure birth
labour to pull down rank, and reduce all to their own level?

Not but it is cursed provoking to be obliged to own that a title is no
sufficient passport for so much as common sense. I sincerely think
there is not so foolish a fellow in the three kingdoms, as the noble
blockhead to whom I have the honour to be related, Lord Evelyn: and,
while I have tickled my fancy with the recollection of my own high
descent, curse me if I have not blushed to acknowledge him, who is the
head and representative of the race, as my kinsman! I own however he
has been of some service to me in the present affair; for by his medium
I have been introduced to the uncle of my deity, Lord Fitz-Allen, who
has considerable influence in the family, and the very essence of whose
character is pride. He is proud of himself, proud of his family, proud
of his titles, proud of his gout, proud of his cat, proud of whatever
can be called _his_; by which appellation in his opinion his very
coach-horses are dignified. I happen to please him, not by any
qualities of mind or person, of which he is tolerably insensible, but
because there is a possibility that I may one day be a peer of the
realm, if my booby relations will but be so indulgent as to die fast
enough.

Once more to these catechumenical inspectors of morality, these
self-appointed overseers of the conscience.

I do not deny that there is some nay much truth in the doctrines they
preach to me. But I hate preaching! I have not time to be wisdom
crammed. What concern is it of mine? What have I to do with the world,
be it wrong or right, wise or foolish? Let it laugh or cry, kiss or
curse, as it pleases! Like the Irishman in the sinking ship, "Tis
nothing to me, I am but a passenger."

But, notwithstanding these airs, I have my lesson set me. Ay and I must
con it too; must say it off by rote; no parrot better!

There is no resisting one's destiny; and to be her slave is preferable
to reigning over worlds! You have, for you can have, no conception of
her and her omnipotence! She is so unlike every other woman on earth! I
wonder while I hear her, am attentive, nay am convinced! What is most
strange, though the divinest creature that ever the hand of Heaven
fashioned, the moment she begins to speak you forget that she is
beautiful!

But she should not hesitate, when I offer. No--She should beware of
that! At least to any other woman the world contains, it would have
been dangerous; and I am not sure that even she is safe.

However, I must learn to parse my lesson, for the present, and be
quiet. Yes, yes; she shall find me very complaisant. I must be so, for
live without her I cannot. She must she shall be mine. It is a prize
which I am born to bear away from all competitors. This is what
flatters and consoles me.

You, Fairfax, think yourself more in luck. You continue to range at
large. You scorn to wear the chain to-day which you cannot shake off
laughingly to-morrow. Well I envy you not--When you see her, if you do
not envy me may I be impaled and left to roast in the sun, a banquet
for the crows.

Good night.

C. CLIFTON

LETTER LV

_Frank Henley to Oliver Trenchard_

_Paris, Hotel de l'Universite_

Some events have happened, since I wrote to thee, on which I meant to
have been silent, till we had met; but I want thy advice on a new
incident, and must therefore briefly relate what has passed. I have had
an opportunity of appeasing that hungry vanity, which is continually
craving after unwholesome food. I have proved to Clifton that it was
not fear which made me submit to obloquy, which in his opinion could
only be washed away in blood. I have been instrumental in saving his
life.

There is a half lunatic count, who was a visitor at the Chateau, and
who is enamoured of her whom all are obliged to love and admire. I know
not whether it be their climate, their food, their wine, or these
several causes combining and strengthened by habit, or whether it be
habit and education only which give the natives of the south of France
so much apparently constitutional ardour; but such the fact appears to
be. This count is one of the most extravagant of all the hot-brained
race I have mentioned. He indulges and feeds his flighty fancy by
reading books of chivalry, and admiring the most romantic of the
imaginary feats of knight-errantry.

The too haughty Clifton, angry that he should dare to address her to
whom he openly paid his court, fell into habitual contests with him,
daring him to shew who could be most desperate, and at last gave a
tolerably strong proof that, though he has an infinitely more
consistent mind, he can be at moments more mad than the count himself.
He leaped down a rock into a lake, where it is probable he must have
perished, but for me.

One would have imagined that what followed would have cooled even a
Marseillian fever of such phrensy. But no: the count has been brooding
over the recollection, till he had persuaded himself he was a
dishonoured man, and must find some means to do away the disgrace. I
thought him gone to Fontainebleau; but instead of that he has just been
here. He came and inquired of the servants for the monsieur who had
taken the famous leap; cursing all English names, as too barbarous to
be understood by a delicate Provencal ear, and wholly incapable of
being remembered. The servants, thinking he meant me, for I was obliged
to leap too, introduced him to my apartment.

Luckily Clifton was out for the day. She and Sir Arthur were with
him. I am hourly put to the trial, Oliver, of seeing him
preferred--But--Pshaw--

After a torrent of crazy compliments from the count, who professes to
admire me, I learned at last it was Clifton and not me he wanted; and I
also learned in part what was the purport of his errand. His mind was
too full not to overflow. Knowing how hot, unruly, and on such subjects
irrational, the spirits were that were in danger of encountering, I was
immediately alarmed. The most effectual expedient I could conceive to
prevent mischief was to shew its actual absurdity. I saw no better way
than that of making it appear, as it really was, its tragical
consequences excepted, ludicrous. But the difficulty was to give it the
colouring which should produce that effect on a mind so distorted.

_Mort de ma vie!_ said the count, I shall never pardon myself for
having lost so fine an opportunity! I am not so heavy as he. I should
not have been hurt by the fall. I should have saved the life of my
rival, and been admired by the whole world! My triumph would have been
complete! Every gazette in Europe would have trumpeted the exploit; and
the family of Beaunoir would have been rendered famous, by me, to all
eternity! No! I never shall forgive myself!

I think, sir, you ought rather to be angry with me than with Mr.
Clifton.

_Parbleu!_ I have been thinking of that. Why did you prevent me? The
thought could not long have escaped me, if you had not been in such
devilish haste!

True. The only danger was that, while you were waiting for the thought,
the gentleman might have been drowned.

_Diable m'emporte_! I had forgotten that. Well then, I must have
satisfaction of Monsieur Calif--Morbleu!--What is the gentleman's name?

[I wish I could confide enough in my French to write the dialogue in
the language in which it passed; but I must not attempt it. The ideas
however are tolerably strong in my memory, and they must suffice.]

Clifton.

_Oui da_--Califton--Monsieur Califton must give me satisfaction for the
_sanglante_ affront I have received.

But I cannot conceive, sir, how any man's thinking proper to kill
himself can be an affront to another.

_Comment, Monsieur? Peste!_ But it is, if he kill himself to prove me a
coward!

Then, sir, I am afraid there is not a madman in Bedlam who does not
daily affront the whole world.

How so, sir?

By doing something which no man in his senses dare imitate.

_Nom d'un Dieu! Monsieur_, I am a man of honour! The family of Beaunoir
is renowned for its noble feats, it shall not be disgraced by me. I
have been defied, and I will have satisfaction.

But you were not defied to sword, or pistol. You were defied to leap.

Well, sir?

And before, as a man of honour, you can have any right to give a second
challenge, you must answer the first.

Is that your opinion, sir?

Nay, I appeal to yourself.

_Allons_!--If so, I must leap! Will you do me the favour to accompany
me? I will order post-horses instantly. You shall be my witness that I
perform the first condition.

Can you swim?

_Ventrebleu_! What a question! I am not heavy enough to sink. Besides,
sir, I was born at Marseilles.--Yes, we will go together; you shall see
me make the leap; after which I may then return and publish my defiance
to the whole universe.

No, sir! If you leap you will never publish your defiance!

How so?

You will be killed! The whole universe could not save you!

_Comment, diable_! Look at me! Look at Monsieur Calif! I am as light
as--! _Peste_!

Yes; but you are not so strong as he: you cannot leap so far. His
effort was prodigious! I have examined the place: and, had he fallen
half a foot short of where he did, he must have been dashed to pieces.

_Fer et feu_!--In that case, I must die!--Yes, I must die! There is no
remedy! I must not dishonour my family! No man on earth must brave the
Count de Beaunoir! I must die!

And be laughed at?

Laugh, sir! _Mort de ma vie_! Who will dare to laugh? When you are
dead, of what should they be afraid?

_Morbleu_! That's true.

He would be a rash fool who should dare to laugh at you while you are
living.

_Foi d'un honnete homme, monsieur_, you are a man of honour: a
gentleman. You are brave yourself, and know how to honour brave men,
and I esteem you.

Sir, if you really esteem me--

_Ventrebleu_! Sir, I esteem you more than any man on earth! Command my
purse, my sword! I would serve you at the hazard of my life!

Then let me prevail on you, sir, to consider well what I say. I
solemnly assure you, I would not advise you to any thing which I would
not do myself.

_Pardieu_! _Monsieur_, I am sure you would not. You have too much
honour.

I have too much regard to truth.

_C'est la meme chose_[1].

[Footnote 1: That is the same thing.]

Men honour themselves most by opposing, nay by acting in the very teeth
of the prejudices of mankind; and he is the bravest man who opposes
them the oftenest. The world makes laws, and afterward laughs at or
despises those by whom they are obeyed. He proves the nobleness of his
nature best who acts with most wisdom. Recollect the madness with which
Mr. Clifton acted, how much he was blamed by every body, and imagine to
yourself the temper of your own countrymen; then ask whether you would
not be laughed at, instead of applauded and admired, were you so madly
to throw away a life which you ought to dedicate to your country. The
Parisians would write epigrams, and songs, and sing them in every
street, on the nobleman who, instead of living to fight the battles of
his country, should toss himself like a lunatic down a rock, and dash
out his brains.

_Que Dieu me damne, monsieur_, but you are in the right! Yes! I am a
soldier! My country claims my sword! I hear we are soon to have a war
with England; and then--! _Gardez-vous bien, Messieurs les
Anglois_[1]!--Where is Monsieur Calif--?

[Footnote 1: Englishmen, beware!]

Mr. Clifton will not be at home to-day.

Well, sir, be so kind as to present my compliments to him, and tell him
I would certainly have run him through the body, if you had not done me
the honour to say all that you have said to me. I have appointed to set
off for Fontainebleau tomorrow morning; but I intend to visit England:
we may have the good fortune hereafter to meet, and then we will come
to an explanation.

After a thousand whimsical, half crazy but well meaning, and I believe
very sincere compliments, and offers of service, he left me; and I hope
the danger is over.

But as I told thee, Oliver, the chief purpose of my writing is to ask
thy advice. Principle, as thou well knowest, is too severe to admit of
falsehood; direct, or indirect. To mention this dialogue to Clifton
might be dangerous. It ought not to be, I grant, but still it might.
One would imagine that, instead of feeling anger, he must laugh, were
he told of what has passed: but there is no certainty. And is not
silence indirect falsehood? The count has been here; his errand was to
Clifton. Ought he not to be told of it, and suffered to judge for
himself? And is not concealment an indirect falsehood? To me it appears
the contrary. He is full as likely to take the wrong as the right side
of the question. I see a possibility of harm, but no injury that can be
done by silence. Nor do I myself perceive how it can be classed among
untruths. Still the doubt has occurred to my mind, and I have not
hitherto answered it to my own satisfaction.

I forgot to tell thee with what ardour the count declared himself an
admirer of her who is most admirable; and the romantic but very serious
effervescence with which he called himself her champion; one who had
devoted himself to maintain her superiority over her whole sex, which
he would die affirming; and to revenge her wrongs, if ever mortal
should be daring or guilty enough to do her injustice. But as I tell
thee he is an eccentric and undefinable character.

I have lately received a letter from my father, from which I find he
has been led, by I know not what mistake, to conclude that Sir Arthur
thinks of me for his son-in-law. His letter, as usual, is a strange
one; and such as I believe no man on earth but himself could write.

Direct thy next to me in Grosvenor Street; for we shall be on our
return, before I shall receive an answer.

Farewell.

F. HENLEY

LETTER LVI

_Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton_

_London, Grosvenor Street_

What strange perversity of accidents is it, Louisa, that has made me
most deeply indebted to that man, above all others on the face of the
earth, who thinks I have treated him unjustly? We are under fresh
obligations, nay in all probability we again owe our lives to Frank
Henley.

We left Paris on Sunday last; and, after waiting a day and a night for
a fair wind at Calais, we embarked on board the packet-boat; the wind
still continuing unfavourable, though it had changed a little for the
better. The channel was very rough, and the water ran high, when we
went on board. Sir Arthur would willingly have retreated; but Clifton
was too impatient, and prevailed on him to venture.

Before we had reached the middle of the channel, Laura, Sir Arthur, and

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