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Anna St. Ives by Thomas Holcroft

Part 5 out of 11

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soon afterward I, were very sea-sick. It is a most disagreeable
sensation when violent, and would certainly be more effectual in
rendering a coward fearless of death than the dying sentiments of
Seneca, or Socrates himself.

The wind increased, and the captain laboured several hours, but in
vain, to make the port of Dover. He at last told us we were too late
for the tide, and that the current set against us, and must drive us
down to Deal. We proceeded accordingly, and it was dark before we came
within sight of the town of Deal; where the captain, in the sea phrase,
was obliged to come to an anchor.

The Deal boatmen, who are always on the watch, and are the most noted
as we are told on the whole coast for their extortion, soon came up to
the ship, inviting us to be put on shore, but refusing to take us for
less than ten guineas. Frank and Sir Arthur were desirous that we
should not be imposed upon; but Clifton pleaded my sea sickness, and
would not listen to any proposal of delay. He is very peremptory, when
his passions are excited; and especially when he conceives, as he then
did, that reason is on his side. There were three boats; but they had
agreed among themselves, and two of them kept aloof. This we are told
is their common practice, that they may not spoil their market by
competitorship.

We were not above a mile from shore: Clifton however agreed to their
extravagant demand, and we went into the boat.

We had not been there many minutes before we perceived that the five
boatmen, who managed it, were all in liquor, especially he who seemed
to be their head man; and that we were much more at the mercy of winds
and waves, in our present than in our former situation. Clifton and
Frank endeavoured to make them attentive, by reproving them; and
probably did some good; though the answers they received, in the rugged
vulgar idiom of the sea, were not very conciliatory. We were much
tossed by the roughness of the water, but made however toward the
shore, though evidently in an awkward and dangerous way.

Most part of the beach, at Deal, is excessively steep; and, when the
weather is stormy, the waves break against it very abruptly, and
dangerously to boats which are managed by men that are either ignorant
or have drunken away their senses. When the boat approached the beach,
the man at the helm, being stupid and it being dark, did not do his
duty, and the side of the boat was dashed against the beach. The shock
almost overset the boat, and it was half filled by the wave which broke
over it. The water is always a fickle and perilous element; but in an
agitated sea, when the winds howl and the waves roar, foam, dash,
retreat, and return with additional threats and raging, it is then
truly terrific! I shall never forget that night! I think on it even now
with horror! One of those poor drunken creatures, Louisa, was in an
instant washed overboard and lost; almost without a cry; not heard, not
aided, scarcely remarked; no attempt made to save him, for all attempt
was absolutely impossible: we were within a few yards of land, yet were
ourselves almost certain of perishing. The remaining men were little
better than helpless; for it was the most active of them who was thus
miserably drowned!--Indeed, Louisa, it was dreadful!

The reflux of the water was in half a minute likely to be equally
violent. Frank, whose presence of mind never forsakes him, saw what the
nature of our danger was; and, shaking off poor Laura, who clung round
him, begging of him for God's sake to save her precious life, he flew
to the helm, turned the head of the boat in its proper direction, and
called with that imperious kind of voice which on such occasions
enforces obedience, for somebody to come to the helm. Clifton was there
in an instant. Keep it, said Frank, in this position.

Every motion was necessarily rapid. Frank was immediately out of the
boat, and almost up to the shoulders in the sea. He caught hold of the
side of the boat, retreated a step or two, set his feet against the
steep beach, and steadied it, to resist the returning wave. It had no
sooner retreated than he called to me, took me in his arms, and in a
moment I found myself in safety on shore!

He returned and brought my father next!

Poor Laura shrieked, with fear and impatience! She was the third whom
he landed.

He then ordered the boatmen to take care of themselves; and, drunk and
refractory though they were, they did not neglect to obey the mandate.
After which Clifton, leaving the helm, jumped into the water, the
servants having gone before, and we all found ourselves safe, after
some of us had concluded we were lost beyond redemption.

Our peril appears to have been wholly owing to the inebriety of the
boatmen; for, had they been able to do their duty, there would have
been none, or certainly very little: and it was averted by the active
and penetrating mind of Frank, which seems as if it were most accurate
and determined, in its conclusions and expedients, in proportion to the
greatness of the danger, when common minds would be wholly confused and
impotent.

Clifton, though he did not so immediately perceive what was best to be
done, saw the propriety of it when doing, and immediately assented, and
aided, by keeping the boat in the position Frank directed, almost as
essentially as his co-adjutor. I am more and more convinced it is
accident only that has kept him from possessing one of the most
enlarged of human understandings. But I must likewise allow that this
said accident has rendered him petulant, impatient of contradiction,
too precipitate to be always aware of mistake, and too positive to be
easily governed. But these are habitual errors, which time and care
will cure.

I must add too that his affection for me displays itself in a thousand
various forms. He is apparently never satisfied, except when it is
exercised to give or procure me pleasure. I know not whether the
passion, which infuses itself into all his words and actions that
relate to me, ought to inspire all that sympathetic sensibility which
he intends; but I own it sometimes alarms me. His ardour is
astonishing. He seems to wish, and even to design, to make it
irresistible. Yet it is mingled with such excess of tenderness that I
have half lost the power of repressing it.

But I must not, no, I will not, stand in awe of his impetuosity. Ardour
is a noble quality, and my study shall be how to turn it to his
advantage. The more I look round me the more I perceive that fear
enfeebles, withers, and consumes the powers of mind. Those who would
nobly do must nobly dare. Rash people, perhaps, are those who feel the
truth of this principle so strongly that they forget it is necessary
not only to dare, but to discover the best method of daring.

Clifton now avoids argument, and appears systematically determined to
be of my opinion; or rather to say as I say. The only opposition he
affords is now and then a witty, sarcastic, or humorous reply. But he
is generally successful in his continual attempts to give the
conversation a new turn, when his favourite opinions are opposed: for I
do not think it wise to obtrude too many painful contradictions upon
him at a time. Truth must be progressive. Like a flash of lightning, it
stuns or kills by excess.

Clifton will not long suffer me to rest, now we are returned; and
consequently my dear Louisa may soon expect another letter from her
most affectionate.

A. W. ST. IVES

LETTER LVII

_Frank Henley to Oliver Trenchard_

_London, Grosvenor Street_

We have now been in London four days, Oliver; and, known places
reviving old ideas, it almost seems as if we had never moved from the
spot where we are at present. I fall into the same trains of thinking;
except that I am more restless, more inclined to melancholy, to
inaction, to a kind of inanity, which no trifling efforts can shake
off.

I have received thy letter, and find thy reasoning in some respects
similar to my own. I was ashamed of remaining in doubt, on a question
which only required a little extraordinary activity of mind to resolve.
It appears to me that nothing can be classed among falsehoods, except
those things the tendency of which is to generate falsehood, or
mistake. Consequently, not to tell what has passed to Clifton is acting
according to the dictates of truth: for, to tell would be to run an
imminent danger of false conclusions. Not, it is true, if the whole
could be told: that is, if all possible reasonings, and consequences,
could be fairly recollected, and stated. But memory is first to be
feared; and still more that prejudice which will not have the patience
to lend mute attention. I therefore think, with thee, that silence in
this case is truth.

We have been in some danger, owing to the drunkenness of the Deal
boatmen; but saved ourselves by a little exertion. One of the poor
inebriated wretches however was lost. We saw him only the instant of
his being washed overboard; and he was hurried away into the sea by the
recoiling waves, in the roaring of which his last cry was overpowered,
without our being able so much as to attempt to give him aid! By which
thou mayest judge that we ourselves were in considerable jeopardy.

When we reflect how near danger is to us, daily and hourly through
life, we are apt to wonder that we so continually escape. But, when we
again consider how easily even great dangers, that is such as take us
by surprise, may be warded off, the wonder ceases.

My mind, Oliver, is not at ease: it is too much haunted by fear. At
least I hope it is; for my fears are for one whom it is almost torture
to suppose in peril. Thou never knewest so enterprising, so encroaching
a youth as this Clifton! Nay I am deceived if encroachment be not
reduced to system with him; and, strong as her powers are, impossible
as I know it to be to shake her principles, yet, who can say what may
happen, in a moment of forgetfulness, or mistake, to a heart so pure,
so void of guile?

Such terrors are ridiculous, perhaps thou wilt say; and perhaps they
are; at least I most devoutly hope they are. But his temperament is
sanguine, his wishes restless, ungovernable, and I almost fear ominous,
and his passion for her is already far beyond the controul of reason,
to which indeed he thinks it ought not to be nor can be subject.

As for me, all is ended. Jealous I must not, no, I will not be! And
surely I am above the meanness of envy. Yet I own, Oliver, I sometimes
blame her. I think her too precipitate, too fearless, nay too ready to
imagine her power, her wondrous power, greater than it is. She makes no
secret of her thoughts, and she tells me that she and I, she doubts
not, shall transform him to all that we ourselves could desire. Be not
surprised at her kindness to me; for she has a heart that is all
benevolence, all friendship, all affection. If I can aid her, thou
needest not doubt my will. But Heaven grant she may not be
mistaken!--Heaven grant it!

And yet, I cannot say. I even sometimes hope and acquiesce; for his
talents are indeed extraordinary. But his pride, and the pitiless
revenge which he shews a constant propensity to take, when offended,
are dangerous symptoms.

For her, she seems to act from motives wholly different from those of
her age and sex. It is not passion, not love, such as it is usually
felt and expressed; it is a sense of duty, friendship for Louisa,
admiration of great talents, an ardent desire to give those talents
their full value, and the dignified pride she takes in restoring such a
mind to its proper rank. By these she is actuated, as all her words and
actions demonstrate.

Well, well, Oliver! She soars a flight that is more than mortal! But
she leaves a luminous track, that guides and invites, and I will
attempt to follow. Thou shall see me rise above the poor slavish wishes
that would chain me to earth!--

Oliver, my mind, like a bow continually bent, is too much upon the
stretch. Such is the effect of my situation, of which my thoughts, my
language, and my actions partake. But I will calm this agitation. Fear
not: thou shall find me worthy to be thy friend, and the pupil of thy
most excellent father.

No! I will not, Oliver, be a child; though the contest be indeed
severe. By day I am with her; for hours I listen, while she sings, or
plays, or speaks. I am a witness of her actions! Her form is never
absent from me! The sound of her voice is unceasing harmony to my ears!
At night, retiring to darkness and thought, I pass her chamber door! In
the morning again I behold the place where all that is heavenly rests!
I endeavour after apathy. I labour to be senseless, stupid, an idiot! I
strain to be dead to supreme excellence! But it is the stone of
Sisyphus, and I am condemned to eter--!

Indeed, Oliver, his weakness is momentary! Indeed it is--Fear not: thou
shall find me a man; be assured thou shalt. Though the furies, or,
worse than all that invention can feign, the passions throng to assault
me, I will neither fly nor yield. For to do either would be to desert
myself, my principles, my duties.

Yet this encroaching spirit that I told thee of!--But then, what is the
strength of him, compared to hers? What is there to fear? What do I
fear? Why create horrible shadows, purposely to encounter them?--No: it
cannot be!

Farewell.

F. HENLEY

LETTER LVIII

_Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton_

_London, Grosvenor Street_

Your brother has gained his point. The deed is done. My consent is
given. For, in reality, to have withheld it would have had more the
appearance of a coquette than of the friend of my Louisa. After
sufficiently strong hints in the course of the two first days, on the
third after our arrival, Clifton came. His intention was evidently to
take no denial. It was with difficulty that I could bring him to
listen, for a few minutes, while I repeated principles before declared,
and required an avowal of how far he thought them an impediment to
future happiness. To every thing I could ask he was ready to accede.
'He had nothing to contend, nothing to contradict; and, if he did not
think exactly like me in every particular, he was determined not to
think at all, till he could. Beside, my own conclusions, in favour of
truth, were my safeguard. I had not any doubt that reason, if attended
to, must finally prevail; and I could not deny that he was at all times
ready to pay the strictest attention.'

Indeed he seemed at first resolved, as it were, not to enter into any
conversation, but to claim my promise. But I was still more determined
to exert myself; that the due influence which reason ought always to
have, over passion, might not be lost, and sink into habitual and timid
concession. When he perceived there was no resisting, he then listened
with a tolerably good grace; but still, as I said, with an apparently
preconcerted plan not to contend; urging, and indeed truly, that fair
arguments could desire nothing more than patient hearing; and this he
pledged, in his energetic and half wild manner, honour, body, and soul
to give. I could not desire more sincere asseverations than he made;
and that they were sincere I cannot doubt. Nor do I regret that they
were strong. Where there is energy there is the material of which mind
is fashioned: and the fault must be mine, if the work be incomplete.
Our conversation however was long; and when at last obliged to enter
into the subject, the acuteness and depth of his remarks were strong
proof of his powers, had any proof been wanting--Yes, Louisa, the
attempt must be made. It is a high and indispensable duty; and I must
neither be deterred by the dread of danger, nor swayed by the too
seducing emotions of the heart--They must be silenced!--They must!

I have an assistant worthy of the cause. Frank does not shrink from the
task: though it is but too evident that he has not changed his opinion!
I know not why, but so it is, those two particular sentences
continually reverberate in my ear--_I feel a certainty of conviction,
that you act from mistaken principles_--_To the end of time I shall
persist in thinking you mine by right_!--Oh, Louisa!

Sir Arthur of course made no difficulty in giving his consent; I
imagine Mrs. Clifton will this post receive a letter from her son, and
perhaps another from my father, requiring her acquiescence.

Sir Arthur has shewn me one of the most strange, eccentric, and perhaps
comic letters, from _honest Aby_, that I think I ever read. I am glad
it is not quite so intelligible to Sir Arthur as it is to me; for I see
no good that could result, were he to understand its true sense. The
old--! I can find no epithet for him that pleases me--Well
then--_Honest Aby_ is excessively anxious that I should marry a son of
whom he is so unworthy. But his motives are so mean, so whimsical, and
so oddly compounded and described, peering as it were through the mask
of cunning, with which he awkwardly endeavours to conceal them, that
nothing but reading his letter can give you an idea of its
characteristic humour. This post I suppose will likewise shew him his
mistake. How he will receive the news I know not; though I suspect he
will raise obstacles, concerning the money which Sir Arthur wants, in
order to pay my portion. But this will soon be seen.

I likewise learn, from his letter, that my brother is to join in
docking the entail of the hereditary estate; and that he is willing,
provided he may share the spoil. How would my heart bleed, were I not
cured of that prejudice which makes happiness consist in the personal
possession of wealth! But the system of tyranny would be more firm and
durable even than it is, did not this mutation of property daily exist;
and were not the old and honourable families, as they call themselves,
brought to ruin by their foolish and truly dishonourable descendants.

Every thing confirms me in the suspicion that honest Aby has been
playing a deep game; and that both Sir Arthur and my brother have ceded
to all the extortions of craft and usury, to have their whims and
extravagancies supplied.

My brother persuades himself that he is determined never to marry; and
I suppose has formed this determination purposely that he may spend all
he can obtain, without being teased by any qualms of conscience. For
the destructive system of individual property involves a thousand
absurdities; and the proud but inane successor of a Sydney or a
Verulam, instead of knowing how difficult the subject of identity
itself is, instead of perceiving that man is nothing but a continuity,
or succession of single thoughts, and is therefore in reality no more
than the thought of the moment, believes there is a stable and
indubitable affinity between him and his great ancestor.

I must now be more than ever determined to accomplish the task I have
undertaken; and to give to the arms of my best, my dearest Louisa, a
brother worthy of a heart so pure, and a sister such as she herself
could wish to be that brother's other half--Very true, Louisa! It is
the old story: I am Sir Arthur's vapouring hussey! But I comfort myself
with reflecting that, after the battle is won, the rashness of the
attack is never remembered; or, if it be, it is always applauded; and
that all generals, great or small, confide in their own plans, till
defeat has proved them to be abortive. Something must be ventured, ere
any thing can be won.

Not knowing what might be the notions of Sir Arthur, or even of Mrs.
Clifton, concerning the silence they might think it necessary to keep,
I forbore to mention their plan, of which my friend, with her
consistent frankness, informed me, till our last conference: but I
then thought it an indispensable duty to relate the truth; otherwise it
might have come, at some unlucky moment, in the disguise of falsehood,
and have done mischief. Secrets are indeed absolutely contrary to my
system. 'Tis pride or false shame that puts blinds to the windows
either of the house or of the mind. Let the whole world look in, and
see what is doing; that if any thing be wrong, it may have an
opportunity to reprove; and whatever is right there is some hope it may
imitate. Clifton was pleased to find himself treated with undisguised
sincerity. Yes, Louisa, fear not: you will find him your brother, in
virtue as well as in blood.

Ever and ever most affectionately,

A. W. ST. IVES

LETTER LIX

_Sir Arthur St. Ives to The Honourable Mrs. Clifton_

_London, Grosvenor Street_

Dear Madam,

Our plan has succeeded to our wish: Mr. Clifton is as I may say quite
smitten with my daughter. And indeed I do not wonder at it; for, though
she is my child, I must say, she is the sweetest, most charming, lovely
girl I ever beheld! She has always been my darling! I have a true
fatherly fondness for her; and, though I own it will not be very
convenient to me, I mean immediately to raise twenty thousand pounds,
to pay down as her portion. If at my death I should have the power to
do more, she shall not be forgotten: but I promise nothing.

As I remember, dear madam, this was the sum which you said was
necessary, to redeem certain mortgages, pay off encumbrances, and
enable Mr. Clifton to appear in England, in a manner becoming the heir
of the Clifton family. And this sum I think it very fit the daughter of
Sir Arthur St. Ives should receive. I shall accordingly write to my
agent, and put every thing immediately in train; after which, you shall
hear from me without delay.

If any alteration should have happened in your own views, or affairs,
which may impede or forward our plan, you will be kind enough to inform
me.

I am, madam, with the truest respect, your very obedient humble
servant,

A. ST. IVES

LETTER LX

_Coke Clifton to The Honourable Mrs. Clifton_

_London, Dover Street_

I write to you, dear and honoured madam, with a grateful and happy
heart, to thank you for a project so maternally and wisely conceived in
my favour, and of which I have just been informed, by the frank-hearted
and lovely Anna St. Ives. Of all the blessings for which, madam, I hold
myself indebted to you, this last, of discovering and endeavouring to
secure for your thankful son a gem so precious, a lady so above all
praise, I esteem to be the greatest.

You, dear madam, are acquainted with the propriety with which she
thinks and acts, on every occasion; and I have no doubt will join with
me, in applauding the entire undisguisedness of relating all that had
passed, which appeared to her delicate mind at this moment to be
absolutely necessary.

After obtaining her consent for that purpose, I have spoken to Sir
Arthur; who, at my request, has promised immediately to write to you.
And, it being a project, dear madam, a kind one, of your own forming, I
have no fear that it should be discountenanced by you. My only doubt is
of delay. Let me entreat you, my dear mother, to remove all impediments
with every possible speed; and not to lose a moment in writing to me,
as soon as you and Sir Arthur have arranged the business, that I may
solicit her, from whom I am certain to receive all possible bliss, to
name a time, when suspense shall joyfully end.

Do not, dear madam, let impatience seem a fault in me. Remember the
lady; who she is, and all she is; and think, if her perfections could
make the impression which they seem to have done upon your heart, what
must they have made upon mine! I, who, with all the fire of youth and
constitutional eagerness, in consequence of your own wise plan, am
become a wishing and expecting lover!

My sister, I am sure, is too generous, the happiness of her friend and
brother being pledged, not to join me in the request I now make: and I
certainly will not forget a kindness which, I acknowledge, I know not
how I shall ever repay.

I am, dear madam, your ever affectionate and dutiful son,

C. CLIFTON

END OF VOLUME III

VOLUME IV

LETTER LXI

_Coke Clifton to Guy Fairfax_

_London, Dover Street_

I am caught, Fairfax! Spring guns and man traps have been set for me,
and I am legged! Meshed! Shot through the heart! I have been their
puppet! They have led me, with a string through my nose, a fine dance!
From the farthest part of all Italy here to London, in order to tie me
up! Noose me with a wife! And, what is more strange, I am thanking and
praising and blessing them for it, in spite of my teeth! I swallow the
dose as eagerly as if it had been prepared and sweetened by my own
hand; and it appears I have had nothing to do in the matter! I am a
mere automaton; and as such they have treated me!

Is it not cursed odd that I cannot be angry? And yet, when I recollect
all this, I really suspect I am not pleased. Damn it! To be made their
convenient utensil! To be packed up, their very obedient jack in a
bandbox, and with a proper label on my back, posted with other lumber
from city to city, over hills and seas, to be taken out and looked at,
and if not liked returned as damaged ware! Ought I to sneak and submit
to this? Tell me, will not the court of honour hoot me out of its
precincts? Will not the very footmen point after me, with a 'There goes
the gentleman that miss had upon liking?' Why it is not yet full two
months, since I was the very prince of high blooded noble sportsmen, in
the romantic manors, domains, coverts and coveys of Venus! By what
strange necromancy am I thus metamorphosed, thus tamed?

I feel myself a husband by anticipation! I am become as pretty a
modest, well-behaved, sober, sentimental gentleman, as any you shall
see on a summer's day! I get phrases by rote, and repeat them too! I
say 'God bless you, madam,' when the cat sneezes: and mumble amen to
grace after meat!

I told you that I had my catechism to learn; and, what is worse, it is
not the questions and commands of good old mother church, with all the
chance-medley promises and vows of godfathers and godmothers made in my
name, [For which, by the bye, I think both godfathers and godmothers
are fools, and knaves.] but I have the Lord knows how much more to
learn than ever I supposed the most outrageous morality could have
exacted. And I am obliged to answer yes, and no, and I thank you
kindly, while my finger's ends are smoking, tingling, and aching under
the stroke of the ferula! Yes! I, Coke Clifton, with my sweetmeats in
one hand and my horn-book in the other, am whipped till I pule, coaxed
till I am quiet, and sent supperless to bed, if I presume to murmur!

Why what the devil is the English of all this, say you, Clifton? What
does it mean? My head is so full of it, and I have it so all by rote
myself, that it had totally escaped me that every word I have uttered
must be heathen Greek to you. Nay I had forgotten to tell you we have
changed the scene, which now is London.

And as for accidents, by sea and land, why we have had some of them
too. Frank Henley has again shewn his dexterity. I could eat my
fingers, to think that he should hit upon a certain and safe mode of
acting, in a moment of danger, sooner than I! But so it is. He seems
born to cross me! We should all have been tossed into the sea, and some
of us certainly drowned at the very water's edge, if we had not been
alert. He took the command upon himself, as imperiously as if it were
his by right indisputable; and I saw no expedient but to obey, or
perhaps behold her perish. For curse upon me if I know whether any
other motive, on earth, could have induced me to act as his
subordinate. But, as it was, I did as he bid me; and sat grinding my
teeth at the helm, while I saw him reap all the honour of taking her in
his arms; and after her the rest, and landing them in safety! If,
Fairfax, you can conceive any anguish on earth more excruciating than
this, why tell it; and you shall be appointed head-tormentor to the
infernal regions, for your ingenuity!

What was I going to say?--My brain is as murky as the clouds under
which I am writing--Oh!--I recollect--She had no hand in spreading the
trammel, into which, buzzard like, I have been lured. It was the scheme
of my very good and careful mother; for which I have been very
sincerely writing her a letter with more thanks than words; and of the
wise Sir Arthur; who, wise though he be, is not one of the magi. She
knew nothing of it for some time, nor would have known but for my
communicative sister; and, as she scorns deception, for by my soul she
scorns every thing that is base, or derogatory, it was she who informed
me of the trap in which I have been taken; of which otherwise perhaps I
might have remained in eternal ignorance.

But still and once again, say you, what trap? What do you mean?--

Three words will explain the whole.

I have been brought from Naples to Paris, not as I supposed to settle a
few paltry debts of a deceased uncle, but to see, fall in love with,
and be rib-hooked to this angel. This my good mother as I understand
thinks the kindest act of her life.--Nay, I think so too; and yet I am
not satisfied. And merely I suppose because I feel I have been tricked.
I will not be the gull of man or woman. What is it to me that they mean
me well? I will judge for myself. It is insolent in any one to pretend
to know what befits me better than I myself know.

In short, I would quarrel, and bounce, and curse a little, if I knew
how--But they offer an apology so ample, so irresistible, that there is
no demanding to exchange a shot; they present Anna St. Ives as their
excuse, and a fico for resentment.

And now there is nothing on earth for which I so earnestly wish as to
be yoked! What think you, Fairfax; shall I bear my slavish trappings
proudly? Shall I champ upon the bit, and prance, and curvet, and shew
off to advantage? I doubt I shall stand in need of a little rough
riding. And yet I know not; let her but pat me on the neck, and whisper
two or three kind epithets in my ear, and she will guide me as she
pleases: at least she does. No! Hopes there are none of my ever again
returning to my native wilds, and delightful haunts! Never was seen so
fond a booby as I am, and am likely to remain!

Nor do I believe I should grumble, had she not such a super-abundance
of discretion. She smiles upon me it is true; is all gentleness, all
benevolence; but then she does just the same to every body else. For my
part, I see no difference; except that I sometimes think she has a
kinder smile for Frank Henley than she ever yet had for me! But he is
just as discreet as herself; so that it seems impossible to be jealous.
Yet jealous I am! Ay and jealous I should be of my cat, if she were as
ready to purr and rear her back to be stroked by every coarse unwashed
hand as by mine.

Is it not a cursed shame that, when you feel a continual propensity to
quarrel with a man, he should be such a prince Prim as never to give
you an opportunity? And why have I this propensity?--I know
not!--Confound the fellow, why does he make himself so great a
favourite? Why does he not contrive to be hated a little? And then
perhaps I might be induced to love him. I dislike to have friendship or
affection forced upon me, as a duty. I abhor duties, as I do shackles
and dungeons. Let me do what I like. I leave others to examine whether
or no my conduct be rational: 'tis too much trouble for me.

This marriage is never out of my head! I wish for it, sigh for it, pray
for it, and dread it! It may well be said there is no resisting our
destiny! If I could but find out the key to her master passion--Well!
What then?--What do I want? What do I hope? To hope any thing short of
the noose is mere madness. Beside, could I think of living without
her?--No!--I would be eternally in her company, for she is eternal
novelty: she is all the world in one. She is herself a million of
individuals; and not the stale, dull repetition of the same; which is
so horrible to imagination.

One thought has struck me.--She has the utmost confidence in what she
calls the force of truth. It cannot fail! That is her constant
language. I am to be her first convert. I have humoured this whim
lately; except when my irritable fancy breaks loose, and runs riot. If
she have any folly, it is this said confidence: and whether it be one,
or be not, is more than I have yet been able to determine. But she has
furnished me with an argument, which I might carry to I know not what
extent. 'You,' I urge to her, 'you need not act with the timid and
suspicious caution of your sex. You are sure of your principle; and to
proceed with distrust and fear would prove doubt instead of certainty.'
She boldly replies,--Yes, she is sure; and therefore she speaks and
behaves with all that undisguise and sincerity which are so uncommon in
the world, and which some would deem so blameable.

She says true: she rises totally superior to the petty arts and tricks
of her sex. I seem to participate the trust which she reposes in
herself; and the confidence which she appears to place in me, when she
so openly declares all she thinks and all she means, is highly
pleasing. But, if my views were different from what they are, I doubt
whether madam Confidence might not be brought to lull madam Caution so
fast asleep, at some lucky moment or another, as to suffer me to
purloin her key, and afterward to rob her of all her treasure. Nor
should I fail, under certain circumstances, to try the experiment.

Neither is that intriguing spirit which has so long been in restless
habits of continual pursuit entirely idle. My first care as usual was
to secure the prime-minister of my charmer, whose name is Laura. The
hussey is handsome, cunning, and not without ambition. An occasional
guinea and a few warm kisses, when it was certain that all was safe,
for caution is necessary, have bound her to me. The poor fool is fond
of me, and often finds some ingenious chambermaid's excuse to pay me a
visit. It does not appear that I shall need her agency; otherwise here
she is, properly prepared to be wholly at my devotion. Anna St. Ives
affords the fancy full employment; with any other woman an amour
without plot and stratagem, attack and defence, would be too insipid to
be endured.

Not but I sometimes find my conscience reproach me, for suffering such
active talents as mine to lie concealed and unknown; being as they are
capable of acquiring renown so high. When in Italy, having even there,
in that land of artifice, rendered myself the superior of all
competitors, I used to glory in the havoc I should make on my return to
England. But this the will of fate opposes, at least for the present:
and of what duration my honeymoon is to be is more than any prescience
of mine can discover.

Write, Fairfax, and tell me freely your opinion of all this; only
remember that, if you make your calculations and conclusions from any
comparison with woman whom you have ever yet seen, they will be all
error. Tell me however what you think, and all you think.

I forgot to say that twenty thousand pounds is the sum to be paid me
down, for condescending to accept this jewel. I am informed it is
wanted, to pay off I know not what encumbrances and arrears--Pshaw!--I
care not--I have never yet troubled myself about wants, nor do I wish
to begin. My father lived fast, and died soon. Well! And is not that
better than croaking and crawling over this dirty globe, haunted by
razors, halters, and barebones, sobbing in your sleep, groaning when
awake, vegetating in sorrow, and dying in the sulks? Let me kick my
heels in mirth and sunshine. Or, if clouds intervene, let pleasure and
fancy create suns of their own. Those who like them, may find gloom and
November enough any day in the year. Tell me, Fairfax, may they not?
Write, and tell me.

C. CLIFTON

LETTER LXII

_Sir Arthur St. Ives to Abimelech Henley_

Honest Aby,

_London, Grosvenor Street_

We are once more arrived in England; for which I am not sorry. Though I
cannot say that I repent my journey into France. My former suspicions
are confirmed: I had visited the country before, but at that time my
taste was not formed; I did not then understand laying out, and
improving, as I do at present. I had heard that the French had begun to
imitate our best gardens tolerably well; but I have seen some of those
that are in most fame, and what are they to Wenbourne-Hill?--No, no,
Aby.--I am now convinced that, as they say of their Paris, there is but
one Wenbourne-Hill.

I do not know when the family will return to the country. The young
people wish to enjoy the diversions and pleasures of the town; and I
rather suppose we shall stay here all the winter. Perhaps we may take a
jaunt or two, between this and the meeting of parliament. Not that any
such plan is yet settled. And as for me, I shall be down with you
occasionally, as affairs shall require. I shall take great delight, in
once again treading over all my grounds, and walks, and dells; and in
visiting places that are never out of my mind.

I cannot forget the hermitage, and the grotto, and the wilderness, of
which, the moment you mentioned them, I had formed so charming and so
excellent a plan. The picture clings to me, as it were; and it grieves
me to give it up. But so it must be.

However, as I say, I shall come down more than once: and, for my part,
I wonder how these young unthinking people can prefer the dirty streets
of London, to all the delights and riches of nature, and of art; which
may be said to be waiting for and inviting them, at Wenbourne-Hill.

I am very glad to find, honest Abimelech, that money is so certainly to
be had. But you were always intimate with the warm old fellows, that
provide themselves plentifully with what you so aptly call the
wherewithalls. You have followed their example, and learned to increase
your own store. I am glad of it, and am pleased to find you do not
forget your first and best friends. I must own, Abimelech, that you
have always appeared to me to understand your situation very properly,
and to pay respect where it was due. I have seen your proud, upstart
stewards carry their heads as high as their masters! Ay, and instead of
studying their tempers and humouring them, as it was their duty, have
been surly, and always ready with their ifs, and ands, and objections,
and advice! As if it were any concern of theirs, what a gentleman shall
please to do with his money! But you, Aby, have known how to comport
yourself better; of which I believe you have no cause to repent.

As to the entail, as you say, it must be docked. I know no remedy. And
since my son is so positive, and determined to stickle for a good
bargain, why we must do the best we can.

I was once sorry at his resolving never to marry; but I think that is
partly over now; I care little about the matter. My daughter's son will
be as much my grandchild as his son would have been; and, as for names,
they may easily be changed. I am certain, were any body to ask me which
is the wisest, my son or my daughter, I should not stop a moment to
consider about that.

Ay, ay! She is my own child! Every body used to tell me, when she was a
baby, how like me she was!

She has some of her mother's features too; who, as you well know, Aby,
was a very good sort of an excellent kind of a lady, and very much
respected: ay, very much. Indeed the greatest fault of Lady St. Ives
was that she would not always be of my opinion. But we are none of us
perfect. If it were not for that one thing, I really should think my
daughter a young lady of more good sense, and good taste, and indeed
every thing of that kind, than any young person I was ever acquainted
with: but she too is a declared enemy to planning, and improving. It is
very strange; and I can only say there is no accounting for these
things!

My son however knows as little of the matter as she does; nay I believe
less. And, as to other kinds of knowledge, he is a child to her! It
delights me to hear her talk, and debate points, and chop logic, with
your Frank, who is one of her own sort; and with Mr. Clifton, the young
gentleman whom I intend for my son in law. I gave you an account in my
last, Aby, that the thing was in expectation; and it is now as good as
concluded. I have written to Mrs. Clifton; the lawyer is ordered to
make a rough sketch of marriage articles, and every thing will be got
ready, while my attorney is preparing the necessary deeds down in the
country, according to your instructions, and you are raising the money.

Be sure however, honest Aby, to make as good a bargain for me as you
can. I know money is not to be had without paying for it; and I trust
to you not to suffer me to pay too dearly. Better security you know,
Aby, cannot be offered; and I begin to feel, my improvements excepted,
which indeed I hold to be inestimable, that I am not so rich as I was
fifteen years ago. But, as my son means never to marry, and as the
families of Clifton and St. Ives are to be united in one, I have no
doubt, some time or another before I die, of seeing every thing
retrieved; though I grant there are heavy mortgages, and other
impediments to overcome.

Pray has my son told you what sum he expects? If not, endeavour to
learn, and let me know. Though on second thoughts you need not, for I
hear he is to be in town next week. He must recollect the estate of
eight hundred a-year, of which he has lately taken such violent
possession. But he is a dissipated young man, and recollects nothing
but his pleasures.

I always said, Aby, you were a man of sense; and you are very right in
thinking I cannot do too much for my daughter. I hope to contrive to
leave Wenbourne Hill her own. It is a rich spot! And, though she be an
economist, and no friend to what she thinks a waste of money in
improvements, yet I am sure, at my request, she will not be guilty of
what I may well call sacrilege, and pull down my temples, and dedicated
groves, and relics of art, and ruins; nor, as my son would, destroy
with a Gothic hand, as the poet says, and tear away beauties, which it
would rend my heart-strings not to suppose durable, as I may say, for
ages! I would have my name, and my taste, and my improvements be long
remembered at Wenbourne Hill! I delight in thinking it will hereafter
be said--'Ay! Good old Sir Arthur did this! Yonder terrace was of his
forming! These alcoves were built by him! He raised the central
obelisk! He planted the grand quincunx!' And ah, Aby! if we could but
add, 'He was the contriver of yonder charming wilderness!' I then
should die in peace.

Let me beg, good Abimelech, that you would write your thoughts in as
plain and straight forward a manner as you can; for, I assure you, I
have been very much puzzled with some parts of your last letter; which
I cannot yet say that I understand. In some places it is very plain
that you hint at Mr. Clifton, and wish me not to dally with him; and,
as I know you have my interest at heart, and speak in a style at which
no gentleman can be offended, why I rather thank than blame you, for
your desire to give good advice. Though I must say, Aby, that I do not
think I have any need of it. I am mistaken if I could not advise
others. I wish all the world would be governed by my plans, and
principles. That's a favourite word with my daughter, Aby, and a very
apt one.

I once took some delight in such things; I mean in what is called
polite learning, Aby. Indeed I was remarkably fond of Ovid's
Metamorphoses. But then, as I did not like to puzzle myself with the
Latin, I read Garth's, or Rowe's, or Pope's, or I don't know whose
translation. And I do believe it was that, and a visit to Lord
Cobham's, which first made me study taste and improvement. Nothing is
wanting but riches, Aby, to proceed to much greater lengths than any we
have yet thought of. What richness of imagination is there in Ovid!
What statues might we form, from the wonderful tales which he relates!
Niobe at the head of the canal, changing into stone! To be sure we
should want a rock there. Then on one side Narcissus, gazing at himself
in the clear pool, with poor Echo withering away in the grove behind!
King Cygnus, in the very act of being metamorphosed into a swan, on the
other! It would be so apropos, you know; a swan, and a canal, and king
Cygnus! And then at the further end Daphne, with her arms and legs
sprouting into branches, and her hair all laurel leaves!

You cannot imagine, Aby, all the fancies which came into my head the
other day, when I happened to lay my hand on Tooke's Pantheon, which
brought all these old stories fresh to memory.

But, as I was saying, good Aby, write your thoughts as plainly as you
can; for I sometimes did not know whom you were talking of, and there
were one or two places which made me think you wish something should be
done for your son, Frank. And indeed he is a very deserving, and a very
fine young fellow; and I have been thinking it would not be amiss,
since he has really made himself a gentleman, if we were to purchase
him an ensign's commission. What say you to it, honest Aby? He would
make a fine officer! A brave bold figure of a man! And who knows but,
in time, he might come to be a general; ay and command armies! For he
fears nothing! He has lately saved us a dipping, nay and for aught I
know a drowning too, and we really should do something for him; for he
is a great favourite, and a very good young man. However, I thought it
best to mention the matter first to you, and will expect your answer.

A. ST. IVES

LETTER LXIII

_Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton_

_London, Grosvenor Street_

I must write, dear Louisa. My heart feels as if it were estranged by
silence, and thinks it has a thousand things to repeat; though, when it
comes to enquire what, they seem as if they had all vanished. Not but I
have a little incident to relate, which interests us both; the Dramatis
Personae being, as usual, Clifton, Frank Henley, and the friend of my
Louisa.

We yesterday paid a visit to my aunt Wenbourne, at her summer villa of
Richmond. But I ought to premise, that I am sorry to see Clifton again
looking on Frank Henley with uneasiness, and a kind of suspicion that
might almost be called jealousy.

Having consulted Sir Arthur, I mentioned it, as a pleasant excursion,
to Clifton; and added, as soon as Frank Henley should come, I would
desire him to hold himself in readiness. Sir Arthur was present; and
Clifton, in a pouting kind of manner, whispered me--'Can we never go
any where, without that young fellow dogging us at the heels?'

I smiled it off, rapped him on the knuckles with my thimble, told him
he was naughty, and said we must not suffer merit to think itself
neglected. Clifton began to sing Britons strike home; which he soon
changed to Rule Britannia: sure tokens that he was not pleased; for
these are the tunes with which he always sings away his volatile
choler. But one of the columns, on which I raise my system is a
determination to persist in the right. Frank Henley was therefore
invited, and accompanied us.

Clifton endeavoured to pout; but, as I did not in the least change my
good humour, knowing how necessary it was rather to increase than
diminish it, he could not long hold out, and soon became as cheerful
and as good company as usual; and his flow of spirits, and whimsical
combinations, are very exhilarating.

After dinner, my good old aunt presently got to wordy wars with Frank;
in which, as you may suppose, she had little chance of victory. But she
called in Clifton, to be her auxiliary; and he fell into the same
pettish, half-haughty, half-contemning kind of manner, in which he had
so improperly indulged, previous to the accident of the lake, in
France. I looked at him; he understood me, and endeavoured, but rather
awkwardly, to change his tone.

The conversation continued, and he was again becoming warm; and, while
Frank was laying down the law to my aunt, at which I could perceive his
tongue tingled, I took an opportunity to warn him to beware, for that I
had more than one crow to pluck with him already.

However, as the best and securest mode was, from the temper of the
parties, to put an end to the conversation, I rose, and proposed a
walk, and my proposal was accepted.

I was particularly cautious to say as little to Frank as I could,
purposely that Clifton might have no retort upon me; though a part of
my plan is to accustom him to see me just to the merits of Frank,
without indulging any unworthy suspicions. But this I did not think a
fit occasion for such experiments.

We returned to town, and I purposed, when Clifton should come to pay me
his morning visit next day, to read him a gentle lecture. Of this he
was aware; and, feeling, as I suppose, that he should make a bad
serious defence, knew a comic one would better serve his turn: for his
fancy and humour appear to be inexhaustible. The first thing he did,
when he entered the room, was to fall down on his knees, like a child
to his school-mistress, holding his hands pressed flatly together, with
a piteous face and a 'Pray, pray!' I laughed, and told him he was a
very bad child. His 'Pray, pray!' was repeated, with another strangely
pleasant contortion of countenance. But I still answered--'No,
indeed--I should not forgive him, till I had made him truly sensible of
his fault.' On which he rose from his knees, pulled out a paper fool's
cap, which he had been carving and fashioning for himself, fixed it on
his head, and placed himself, with a new kind of penitential
countenance, in a corner; continuing such quaint mimickry, of a child
in sorrow, that there was no resisting fair and downright laughter.

I still made two or three attempts to begin to argue; but they were
ineffectual; they were all answered with some new antics; and I was
obliged at last to say--'Well, well! I find you are sensible how much
you deserve punishment; and therefore I dare say you will take care not
to offend in future.'

After this, he gave the whole discourse a comic and a witty cast,
embellishing it with all the flights of his rich and strong
imagination, on purpose to avoid the possibility of remonstrance. This
is a certain sign that it must be very painful to him; unless indeed we
allow for the pleasure which he cannot but take, in exhibiting the
activity of his mind. Yet painful I am sure it is. Contradiction is
thing to which he has not been accustomed. He has no doubt led the
opinions of his companions; partly by conforming to and strengthening
their favourite prejudices, though chiefly by his superior talents: and
to be too often encountered, by any one whose intellects are more clear
and consistent than his own, is a kind of degradation to which he
scarcely knows how to submit.

With respect to Frank Henley, whenever he is pleading the cause of
truth, he is inflexible. I have sometimes indeed known him silent, when
he was hopeless of doing good: but at others I have heard him blame
himself for this, and assert that we never ought to despair; for that
truth, no matter how violently opposed at the moment, would revive in
the mind, and do her office, when the argument and the anger should be
wholly forgotten.

I believe the observation to be just. But he is no common thinker! No!
I am almost persuaded he is the first of human beings! Equal, nay I
have sometimes even thought superior, to Louisa herself!

As you perceive, dear friend of my heart, that I know you too well to
fear offending you, I am sure you will do me the justice at the same
time to confess that I do not seek to flatter.

Thus, dear Louisa, you perceive, we do not perhaps make quite so swift
a progress as we could wish: but we must be satisfied. The march of
knowledge is slow, impeded as it is by the almost impenetrable forests
and morasses of error. Ages have passed away, in labours to bring some
of the most simple of moral truths to light, which still remain
overclouded and obscure. How far is the world, at present, from being
convinced that it is not only possible, but perfectly practicable, and
highly natural, for men to associate with most fraternal union,
happiness, peace, and virtue, were but all distinction of rank and
riches wholly abolished; were all the false wants of luxury, which are
the necessary offspring of individual property, cut off; were all
equally obliged to labour for the wants of nature, and for nothing
more; and were they all afterward to unite, and to employ the remainder
of their time, which would then be ample, in the promotion of art and
science, and in the search of wisdom and truth!

The few arts that would then remain would be grand; not frivolous, not
the efforts of cunning, not the prostitution of genius in distress, to
flatter the vanity of insolent wealth and power, or the depraved taste
of an ill-judging multitude; but energies of mind, uniting all the
charms of fancy with all the severe beauties of consistent truth.

Is it not lamentable to be obliged to doubt whether there be a hundred
people in all England, who, were they to read such a letter as this,
would not immediately laugh, at the absurd reveries of the writer?--But
let them look round, and deny, if they can, that the present wretched
system, of each providing for himself instead of the whole for the
whole, does not inspire suspicion, fear, disputes, quarrels, mutual
contempt, and hatred. Instead of nations, or rather of the whole world,
uniting to produce one great effect, the perfection and good of all,
each family is itself a state; bound to the rest by interest and
cunning, but separated by the very same passions, and a thousand
others; living together under a kind of truce, but continually ready to
break out into open war; continually jealous of each other; continually
on the defensive, because continually dreading an attack; ever ready to
usurp on the rights of others, and perpetually entangled in the most
wretched contentions, concerning what all would neglect, if not
despise, did not the errors of this selfish system give value to what
is in itself worthless.

Well, well!--Another century, and then--!

In the meantime, let us live in hope; and, like our worthy hero, Frank,
not be silent when truth requires us to speak. We have but to arm
ourselves with patience, fortitude, and universal benevolence.

Pardon this prattle!--The heart will sometimes expand; and it is then
weak enough to plead that the effusions of friendship claim attention,
and respect. This is among the prejudices of our education, and I know
not who has hitherto overcome them all. I can only say, dear Louisa, it
is not her who is most affectionately your,

A. W. ST. IVES

P.S. Clifton is quite successful with my relations: he has won the
heart of my aunt. Every moment that he was absent was lavished in his
praise. 'He was a handsome man, prodigiously handsome, exceedingly well
bred, a man of great understanding, and what was more a man of family.
His pretensions were well founded; it was a very proper connection, and
was very much approved by her.' Nor did the good old lady omit various
sarcastic hints glancing at Frank, and which were not softened by the
opposition he made to her opinions. But he is too great a lover of
truth to betray it for the sake of self; and she too much an admirer of
her own prejudices not to be offended at contradiction. Once more,
Louisa, we are the creatures that education has made us; and
consequently I hope we shall hereafter be wiser and better.

LETTER LXIV

_Louisa Clifton to Anna Wenbourne St. Ives_

_Rose-Bank_

An odd circumstance, my dear Anna, has happened here, of which I think
it necessary to inform you immediately.

Honest Aby has again been with us. He came and enquired for my mamma.
Disappointment, chagrin, and ill-humour were broadly legible on his
countenance. He talked in his odd dialect; which I cannot remember
accurately enough to repeat; said he had just received a letter from
Sir Arthur, from which he understood something that to him appeared to
be matter of great surprise; which was that Sir Arthur intended to
bestow your hand on my brother; and, in a half submissive half
authoritative way, wanted to know whether it were true; and whether my
mamma knew any thing of the business.

She acknowledged that such were the intentions of the two families: and
he answered that, for his part, he thought they might as well think no
more of the matter; muttering the words _wherewithal_, and _coal_.

Mrs. Clifton desired him to be explicit; but he continued in half
sentences, repeating that the ready was not so easy to be had, and
rhino was a scarce commodity. Neither could he tell what might happen.
There were foreclosures, and docking of entails, and many things to be
settled; and cash must come from where it could be got; but not from
him, he believed.

My mamma, mild as she is, was obliged to check his growling inclination
to be insolent; and then he had his whole bead-roll of fine words, with
which he has so often tickled the ear of Sir Arthur, at his tongue's
end; and ran them off with his usual gracious, and very humble obedient
volubility.

Had I not received your last,[1] his discourse would have been more
enigmatical to me: but, as it was, I understood him tolerably well. The
bitterness of gall is at his heart. The greatness of his visible
disappointment shows how high his hopes had been raised; and I suspect
he is determined they shall not be very easily pulled down. For, after
having acted all his abject humility, he could not forbear again to
murmur over his threats, as he was leaving the room; and there was an
air of self-sufficient confidence so apparent in his face that, I am
persuaded, the obstacles he has the power to raise are much greater
than you, my dear friend, have ever supposed.

[Footnote 1: Letter LVIII: whence we may conclude that the letter
immediately preceding this was not come to hand.]

I cannot describe to you, my best Anna, how deeply my mind is agitated,
at times, concerning this marriage. I censure myself very severely, for
seeming to indulge improper fears, one minute; and perhaps, the next,
am more angry with myself for not disinterestedly pleading the cause of
Frank Henley. If there could be a miracle in nature, I should think his
being the son of _honest Aby_ one. What can I say? My doubts are too
mighty for me! I know not how, or what, to advise. The reasons you have
urged are indeed weighty: yet they have never made an impression so
deep upon my mind, as not to take flight, and leave their opponent
arguments in some sort the victors.

Nor can I be more angry with myself, on any occasion, than I am at this
moment. I distress and trouble you with my fears, when I ought to keep
them to myself; unless I could determine whether they were or were not
well founded. They are even increased by the recollection that, in all
probability, Clifton could now much less bear disappointment than the
strong-minded and generous Frank.

Then, my Anna! Should ill happen to her, from an undertaking the motive
of which is so worthy, so dignified, what should I say? Should
misfortune come, how could I excuse myself, for having neglected to
dissuade, and to urge such reasons as have appeared to me the
strongest? What could I say, but repeat the diffidence of my mind, the
want of full and satisfactory conviction, and the fear of mistake?

The only buckler, with which I oppose these insurrections of reason, is
the omnipotence of truth, and Anna St. Ives! And, when I recollect
this, my terrors are hushed, and I think her sure of conquest.

The very affirmative tokens which Aby displayed of his own consequence,
convince me however that there will be delay. How Clifton will submit
to it is to be seen. His letter to my mamma is all impatience, and
expectation. But I have talked with her, and she appears to be
determined that nothing can be done, till Sir Arthur is ready to pay
the sum he proposed.

My Anna will not be very ready to attribute this to avarice; for no one
can think more highly of her than Mrs. Clifton does. But my father, at
his death, left the family in absolute distress, from which she has
retrieved it, by her economy and good sense: retrieved it, that is, in
part; for there are still many heavy debts to pay, and mortgages to be
cleared. Her plans have been severe; and of long continuance; deeply
thought on, and perseveringly executed. To convince her that any part
of them ought to be relinquished scarcely appears possible. Nor am I
sure that, obliged as we are to conform to the present system of
things, they are not all just. Beside which she is not in a state of
health to support the fatigue of argument, or the pain of
contradiction.

She likewise considers Sir Arthur as a weak old gentleman; who, if this
opportunity were abandoned, would perhaps never have the spirit or the
power, hereafter, to do his daughter justice: and she thinks that, for
your sake, she ought not in the least to relax. Should you, my dear
Anna, reason differently, I am still certain that you will reason
charitably.

With respect to my brother, it may perhaps be fortunate, should the
suspense afford you time for further trials; and we may have cause to
rejoice at the accident, which had checked the precipitate impatience
of passion.

Though I expect a letter from you by tomorrow's post, I think this of
too much consequence to suffer any delay: I shall therefore seal it,
and send it off immediately.

Heaven bless and eternally preserve my dear Anna!

L. CLIFTON

LETTER LXV

_Abimelech Henley to Sir Arthur St. Ives_

_Wenbourne-Hill_

Most onnurable Sir, my ever onnurd Master,

Your onnur has a thrown me quite into a quandry! I couldn't have thoft
it! For why? My thofts were all in the mercifool praise and
glorification of your onnur; and I had a done nothink but say how good
and gracious your onnur had a bin, to me and mine. But I do find, a
savin and exceptin your ever onnurable onnur, 'tis all a gull queerum!
Whereof the face of affairs is quite transmogrified! And so, ast for
raisin the wind of twenty thousand pounds, I find the think is neither
komparissuble nur a parallel to common sense. For why? It is not to be
had. A man's money is his own, your onnur; and when a has got it,
there's as good law for he as for a dooke. Always a savin and exceptin
your most exceptionable onnur, as in duty boundin. For as I wus a
sayin, your onnur, when a man has a got the super nakullums, who shall
take it from him? Because why, it is his own.

If so be as the whats and the whys and the wherefores had a bin a forth
cummin, why then the shiners might a seen the light of day, mayhap. But
a man's son, why a's his son; a's his own; a's his goods and chattels,
and law and rite; bein of the race of his own begettin, feedin, and
breedin. Whereby I cannot but say, love me love my dog. Always a savin
and exceptin your onnurable onnur, as aforesaid.

And ast for the rhino, why some do save, and some do spend, and some do
hold, and some do let go, and some do have, and some do want. Whereupon
if so be as he as a has the most a may be as good as another. Why not?
Always a savin and exceptin your ever onnurable onnur, as aforesaid.
But when so be as a man has the wherewithalls, why a let him begin to
hold up his head, I say. Why not? For why? It is the omnum gathurum
that makes the man. And if I do a doff my hat to my betters, there a be
and a bin the whats and the whys and the wherefores for it. But I can a
doff my hat, or I can a keep it on my head; and mayhap a can begin to
look my betters in the face, as well as another. Why not? Always a
savin and exceptin your ever exceptionable onnur, as in duty boundin.

And ast for famalies and names, I axes nothink about they. A tell me
who has the most kole! I axes that! Mayhap Henley may be as good a name
as Clifton. And ast for famalies, why it is notorious that Adam and Eve
wus the begettin of us all; always a savin and exceptin your onnurable
onnur. Whereof a there's an end of that.

Whereby your onnurable onnur wus a menshinnin the mortgages; and of a
seem of every think a treeved and settled, afore your onnur do die. But
as thinks do be likely to turn out, why every man for himself, and God
for us all. There be foreclosures mayhap, that a be to be thoft of. For
why? There a be wheels within wheels.

If so be indeed as if thinks had a turned up trumps, why then ay, it
would a bin summut; all smooth and go softly, and there might a
behappened to be sunshine and fair weather at Wenbourne-Hill. For why?
Every think would then a bin clear and above board. Thinks would a then
a bin safe and sure to all sides; and your onnurable onnur would mayhap
a seen that your onnur would a lost nothink by the bargain. For why?
Missee my younk lady might a paradventered to have had all, in the
upshot; and an ever gracious and glorious and mercifool my younk lady
missee she would a then a bin. Whereby as matters be likely to turn
out, why thinks must a take their course. Thof a mayhap folks may go
further and fare worse. Whereof if so be as lives have a bin saved, by
land and by water, and a man's son is thoft to be somebody, why mayhap
a may not a take it so kindly to be chouse flickurd.

For my part, I thoft as thof all thinks had a bin as good as settled;
and that in all partikillers missee my younk lady, of ever mercifool
affability, would a bin left to please herself. Why not? When precious
lives have a bin saved, and when there a bin shootins, and leapins, and
swimmins, and sousins, I say as aforesaid, why that's a summut; and a
man's own son mayhap won't a like to be flamdudgind.

And so as to mortgages to be paid off, your onnurable onnur, why mayhap
that's a sooner said nur done. For I say as aforesaid, that it seems as
if whereby, if it had not a bin for some folks, some folks would a now
a bin in their salt water graves: always a savin and exceptin your ever
exceptionable onnur, as in duty boundin. Whereby take me ritely, your
onnurable onnur, I means nothink amiss. If thinks be a skew whift, why
it be no fault of mine. It is always a savin and exceptin of your
onnurable onnur: being as I be ready to glorify to the whole world of
all your futur lovin kindness of blessins of praise, a done and a
testified to me and mine.

Whereof as to frippery jerry my gingle red coats and cockades, why they
be nothink of my seekin. For why? They be the betokens of the warnins
of the signs of the bloody cross of antichrist, and the whore of
Babilon, and of the dispensation of the kole, and the squitter
squanderin of the wherewithalls, and the supernakullums. Whereby an
honest man's son may become to be bamboozild, and addle brained, and
foistee fubbd, belike, as finely as his neighbours. So that if so be as
I have a bin a ponderaitin that there a be nothink to be got by it.
Always a savin and exceptin of the blessins of praise, and mercifool
glory, of your ever exceptionable onnurable onnur's lovin kindness, and
goodness; and every think of that there umbel and very submissive
obedient kind, as in duty boundin.

Witch is all at present, beginnin and endin to the everlastin power of
almighty joys eternal; umbelly beggin leave to superscribe meself.

ABIMELECH HENLEY

LETTER LXVI

_Abimelech Henley to Frank Henley_

_Wenbourne-Hill_

Why what be all a this here? What is it that a be about, dolt? Here's a
rumpus! Here's a fine to do! You be a pretty squire Nicodemus
Nincompoop! You a son of my own begettin, feedin, and breedin! You
seeze the fulhams! Why they would a draw your i teeth for ee! Marry
come fairly! You the jennyalogy of my own body and loins? No, by lady!
And so squire my lord Timothy Doodle has a bin flib gibberd, and
queerumd, after all? Thof if so be as notwithstandin a that Missee, my
younk lady, had as good as a bin playin at catch me come kiss me, and
all in the dark with'n; and thof I had a sifflicated the Sir Dandle
Dunderpate, a here a do stand, a suckin his thumbs! Thof so be as how I
told him to make up to Missee, and the twenty thousand pounds! What, a
didn't I put words into your mouth, as good as a ready butterd, as I
may say? What, a didn't I give ee all your pees and cues? Because as
why, I did a know a wus a quaumee kintlin. And so a has played with the
mouse and has a lost it at last! A fine kettle of fish a's made on't!
Whereof forsooth, so as that now as that all o'the fat's in the fire,
why I must a be set to catch the colt if I can. Why ay, to be sure!
Whereby if so be as the Gaby goose may now go barefoot! And a whose
fault is that? No! A wouldn't a be akin to a good estate; not he!

But harkee me chit! Mind what I be about to say to ee, Simon the
simple, and mayhap thinks may become to be komparissuble and parallel
to the yellow hammers and the chink, for all of all this here rig
royster. For why? I can put a spoke in the wheel of the marriage act
and deed. Madam Clifton wonnot a budge a finger, to the signin and
sealin of her gratification of applause, whereby as if so be as that
the kole a be not a forth cummin, down on the nail head. And where now
might Timothy Tipkin sifflicate that it may behappen to be for to come
from? Pummel thy pumkin, and a tell me that, Peter Grievous. Where, but
out of my pouche, Gaby? That is, I first havin and holdin the
wherewithalls, and the whys, and the wherefores. Do you take me now? So
that forsooth, some folks may behappen to cry peccavi.

Whereby mind what I do tell ee. For why? I've as good as a told Sir
Arthur the wind is a not to be raised for any of a sitch of a flammbite
of a tale of a tub. Whereby I a told'n a bit of my mind. And if so be
as if a will wince, a mayhap it may come to pass that I can kick. A
shall find I was not a bred and a born and a begotten yesterday. An a
champ upon it, let'n. An a will run rusty, mayhap a may belike to get
his head in a hedge. So mind what I do say to ee; and tell 'em that
they may a behappen to find that your father is somebody, and that you
are his son. A tell 'em that.

So do you strike up to Missee boldly. Mind what ee be at; and let 'em
like it or leave it. For if so be as when a man has a got the
Marygolds, why then let'n begin to speak for himself. Why not?

Whereby I have now once again given the costard monger his pees and his
cues. So that if so be as if a do find that sweet sauce be good for
goose, why let'n a give his tongue an oilin. But if so be as a do find
a be Sir Arthur Crabvarjus o'the high ropes, why then says you, look ee
me says you, honest Aby is my father; and when a man has a got the
wherewithalls, why a begins to be somebody, and mayhap a's as good as
another. A tell 'em that.

And so no more at present; a savin and exceptin of the all bountifool
glory of the everlastin praise of joys eternal, livin and hopin for
time to repent us of all our manifold sins, and of a dyin in peace and
charity with all men. Whereby we shall be sure to partake of the
resurrection of the just sheep, and of the virgin oil in our lamps, and
of the martyrs and of the profits and of the saints everlastin rest.

ABIMELECH HENLEY

LETTER LXVII

_Frank Henley to Oliver Trenchard_

_London, Grosvenor Street_

Oliver, it is not half an hour since I ended writing one of the most
undutiful and bitter Philippics, that ever was addressed by a son to
his father. I say undutiful, because this wise world has decreed that
to abhor, reprove, and avoid vice in a father, instead of being the
performance of a duty, is offensive to all moral feeling.

I have just received a letter from him, chiding and blaming me, with
his usual acrimony, for a supposed want of cunning; and for not aiding
him in what I perceive now to be the design he has most at heart; which
is my marriage with the divine Anna. He has almost disgusted me with
myself, for having, though ineffectually, endeavoured to aid him so
well. Nay I have been tempted to shew his letter to Sir Arthur. But, on
recollection, I have thrown the Philippic I mentioned into the fire;
and have determined on silence: for I perceive harm that may result
from a contrary conduct, but no good. To swerve, to the right or the
left, from the direct path of principle and truth, because of the
selfish, narrow, and unwise views of others, is to be weak and
culpable.

What, indeed, has relationship to do with truth? No human ties can bind
us to error: and, while we rigorously act according to the rules of
truth, as far as we know them, the comments, mistakes, disapprobation,
and even resentment, of relation, friend, or father, ought to be
disregarded.

I must own, however, I have still the folly to feel additional grief
that errors of so mean, so selfish, so dishonest a nature should have
taken such firm possession of the mind of my father: and I am afraid I
could support them better in the person of another.

Having determined not to write to him, I have written to thee, to give
vent and relief to these feelings. Of course thou wilt tell me if thou
seest any reason, which I have not discovered, why I ought to
communicate the contents of his letter to Sir Arthur; whom he vaunts of
having in his power, and whom he is determined not to supply with
money, for the projected marriage with Clifton. My conviction is that
to shew this letter would but increase their mutual anger, and render
compliance on my father's part, whose temper I know, still less
probable than it is; if less it can be.

Adieu.

F. HENLEY

LETTER LXVIII

_Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton_

_London, Grosvenor Street_

I write, at present, to my dear Louisa, that by writing I may divert
the perturbation of my mind. But I must begin calmly; for I have so
much to say, that I scarcely know what to say first. Our mutual
conjectures, concerning honest Aby, are in part verified. I conclude
thus, not from having seen any more of his letters, but from knowing
more have been received; which, instead of having been shewn me, have,
if I do not mistake, thrown Sir Arthur into some of the most serious
reflections he ever experienced. I never knew him so grave,
thoughtful, and pensive, as he has been for some days--

My brother too!--But more of him by and by.

Observing the efforts of reflection, and desirous of aiding,
alleviating, or increasing them, as should be most prudent, I took an
opportunity, after breakfast, when Sir Arthur and I were alone, of
speaking to him; and we had the following dialogue.

I think, sir, you seem more thoughtful lately than usual. I am afraid
there is something disturbs you. Can I--?

No, no--Nothing--Not much. Worldly matters, which you do not
understand.

I am far from wishing, sir, to intrude into your private concerns;
except they were such as might relate to me, and--

Mere money matters, child; of which you have no knowledge--[We paused;
Sir Arthur seeming as if his mind laboured with a subject which he knew
not how to begin]--Where is Mr. Henley?

Retired to his apartment, sir. This is his time of day for study.

He is a very learned young man.

Not so learned I believe, sir, as wise.

Are not they the same thing?

I think not, sir.

Well then, a very wise young man--You think him so; do you not, Anna?

I do, sir.

You have a very high opinion of him?

I have, sir.

Perhaps a higher than of any other young gentleman, with whom you are
acquainted.

I am indeed afraid, sir, I have never seen his equal.

Humph!--You--You are not sparing of your praise.

You asked me a question, sir, and would not have me guilty of
equivocation, or falsehood.

No, child: I am pleased with your sincerity; and I hope and expect you
will be equally sincere in every thing you say.

Of that, sir, you may be assured.

What are your reasons for thinking so exceedingly well of Mr. Henley?

My reasons, sir!

Yes; your reasons.

I own I am a little surprised at this question from you, sir; who have
been a witness to so many of his virtues, and their effects.

[I then briefly recapitulated the progress of Frank from a child in
virtue, insisting on the numerous proofs of which we so lately had been
witnesses. I recounted the histories of the highwayman, and of Peggy
and her husband; the adventure of the lake; and the protection we found
from his skill, strength, and courage at Deal; not forgetting the
attendant incidents of each, nor neglecting to give such brief but
strong touches as feeling dictated.]

I must own, he is a very extraordinary young man!

Yet we can know but a part of the good effected by a mind so active,
and so virtuous. Though I perhaps know more than you, sir.

Ay!--What? Let me hear.

You think me partial already, sir.

No, no. Let me hear.

The very night we arrived at Paris, he prevented Mr. Clifton and the
Count de Beaunoir from fighting a duel.

Indeed!

Yet never mentioned it; nor perhaps ever would, had not we afterward
met with the Count at the Chateau de Villebrun.

That was very odd!

Nay more, sir, but a day or two before that he saved the life of Mr.
Clifton, he had submitted to the insult of a blow from him, rather than
fight a duel.

A blow--?

He does not want courage, sir, you are convinced.

No, no--It is what he calls one of his principles not to fight
duels--He is a very extraordinary young man!--And not I think much like
his father.

As opposite, sir, as day and night, grace and deformity, virtue and
vice.

You think but indifferently of Abimelech.

I think very ill of him, sir. I think him selfish, cunning, covetous,
and dishonest.

Dishonest?

In the eye of equity, though not perhaps of the law.

Why did not you tell me your opinion sooner?

I did, sir.

I do not remember it.

No, sir: it made no impression, because you did not think it true. May
be so--And you do not find any of these bad qualities in the son?

Bad!--If all the highest gifts of intellect; if memory, perspicuity,
perception, and genius; added to all the virtues, wisdom, benevolence,
philanthropy, and self-denial; if to be the active friend of man and
the declared enemy of error, and of that alone; if these can entitle
him to esteem, admiration, reverence and praise, why then esteem,
admiration, reverence and praise are justly his due.

You are warm in your encomiums.

Indeed, sir, I think I am cold.

How so?

Because my encomiums are so very much beneath his deserts.

Anna--[Sir Arthur assumed a very serious tone, and look.]

Proceed, sir--Do not be afraid of questioning me. You shall find, my
dear father, a child that will answer truly, affectionately, and I hope
dutifully.

[I kissed his hand, pressed it, and wet it with an unwilling tear. The
impassioned heart, Louisa, will sometimes rebel against the cold apathy
of reason; but such revolt is but of short duration.]

Are you aware, Anna, of the state of your own affections?

I think so, sir.

You think?

Well then, I am certain.

You say Mr. Henley has no equal?

In my opinion, none, sir.

Look you there!

But do you think, sir, I will not emulate the virtues I admire: or
that, because I have a just sense of his worth, I will trespass against
my duties to the world, my sex, my family and my father?

Anna!--Child!--[The tears stood in Sir Arthur's eyes. He stretched out
both hands, and I flew to his arms.--After a short interval of silence,
Sir Arthur proceeded.] Tell me, Anna: What are your thoughts of Mr.
Clifton?

I think him, sir, a very extraordinarily gifted gentleman.

But not a Mr. Henley?

Not at present, sir. Time I hope will make him one.

No, child, never.

Why so, sir?

I cannot tell why, but I am sure it never will. They are two very
different men.

Mr. Clifton, sir, has uncommon powers of mind.

May be so; I suppose so; I only say they are very different men. Their
tempers are different, their opinions, their manners, every thing.

I do not imagine, sir, they will ever exactly resemble each other; but
I think myself sure they will continually approach.

Indeed!

Yes, sir.

May be so; but I own I doubt it. Mr. Clifton is a gentleman, both by
birth and education.

That I own, sir, may be a great disadvantage; but--

Disadvantage, child!

Our conversation was here interrupted, Louisa, by a letter brought me
from my brother. Read it, and judge of what I felt.

Dear Sister,

I am a ruined man, unless I could command a sum of money which it is
impossible for me to raise. I last night lost three thousand pounds,
upon honour, which I am totally unable to pay. And, what is worse, I
did not lose it to a gentleman, but to a sharper; who, the very last
throw he made, let a third die fall upon the table. But this is of no
avail; he is an unprincipled, daring fellow; denies any foul play with
imprecations and threats, and insists on being paid. I know you cannot
help me to such a sum; and I suppose my father will not. For my part, I
can neither pay it nor think of living, under the disgrace and infamy
which must follow.

EDWARD ST. IVES

Sir Arthur saw my agitation; and, had I been desirous, it would have
been difficult to have concealed the letter, or its contents. I shewed
it him, and his perplexity and pain I believe exceeded mine. It was
impossible, he said, for him immediately to pay the money: it would
greatly distress him at any time. It likewise shewed the deplorable
state of my brother's affairs. The Edgemoor estate, every thing gone!

Sir Arthur knew not how to act. I was in a tremor, and could not
persuade myself there was any way so safe as that of consulting Frank
Henley. This I proposed; Sir Arthur instantly acquiesced, and he was
sent for down. After reading the letter, the only expedient, he said,
which he could think of, was to visit my brother; either accompanied by
or under the sanction of Sir Arthur. My father absolutely refused to go
himself; but he gave Frank full powers to act for him, and as he should
think most prudent. Before he went, he endeavoured to calm our fears;
saying he thought it impossible, if such a rascal as this gambler were
properly dealt with, but that he must be glad to renounce his claim.

Frank is now absent on this desperate business; sent, by my
officiousness, to encounter a practised ruffian!

What could I do? A brother threatening his own life! Yet what is the
life of such a brother, to that of Frank Henley?

I hope he is not in danger! I think I was obliged to do as I have done;
though indeed I am very ill satisfied with myself.

The chief purpose of my writing this long dialogue, which I had with
Sir Arthur, was to ward off fears: for surely it is but a folly to
anticipate misfortune. I should else not have written till tomorrow.
And must I alarm my friend, by sending this before I know the result of
so dangerous an affair? I think I ought not.

Clifton has just been with me. It could not long escape his quick
penetration that my thoughts were deeply occupied. He was earnest with
me to accompany him, in the evening, to see Garrick in Richard III, but
could not prevail. He taxed me with absence of mind, and was kindly
earnest to know why I was so serious. I told him at last it was a
family concern; and this did but increase his eagerness to know of what
nature. I was obliged to own he was too impetuous to be trusted at such
a critical minute. Frank Henley I hoped would effect every thing that
could be done.

He repeated, with great chagrin, 'Frank Henley!--He was sorry not to be
thought as worthy of a trust of danger, and as zealous for the honour
of the family, as even the favourite Frank Henley.'

I replied my mind was not enough at ease, to give a proper answer to
such a remark; which however was far from a just one.

He felt the rebuke, and apologized; with praises of Frank Henley's
prudence, and accusations of his own intemperate haste. 'But wise
people knew how to be cool. Prudence and wisdom were cold blooded
qualities. Good or harm, of any moment, if done by him, must be done in
a kind of passion. It was his temper, his nature, which he tried in
vain to correct. Neither was he quite certain that such a temper was
not the best: at least it was the most open and honest.--

I told him he was mistaken in most of these fancies: but he seemed not
to hear me, and went on--

'He could not but own, he was piqued, and almost grieved, to find he
must despair of meriting the preference; and that he was destined to
find a rival, where rivalship ought perhaps least to be expected.'

My temper of mind did not permit me to argue with him; I could much
rather have indulged the woman, and burst into tears; but I subdued my
feelings, and could think of no better mode of reproving him than to
retire. I accordingly withdrew, without answering, and left him making
ineffectual struggles with his pride, his consciousness of error, and
his desire of being heard, and reconciled to himself, and me.

He told me, yesterday, he was surprised at not receiving an answer from
Mrs. Clifton, and at the silence of Sir Arthur. I made no reply,
because I had not considered how I could address myself to him with the
best effect. But I mean, when he mentions it again, to inform him of
the probability of delay. I, like you, my friend, think delay rather a
fortunate incident than otherwise.

But why, Louisa, should you suppose it necessary to justify the conduct
of Mrs. Clifton to me? I am well acquainted with her virtues, and the
purity of her intentions. Whether I should act with exactly the same
caution, under the same circumstances, is more than I can say: but
neither can I say that my prudence, and foresight, would equal hers.--I
think I hear Frank Henley. I am all impatience and alarm. Adieu.

A. W. ST. IVES

LETTER LXIX

_Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton_

_London, Grosvenor-Street_

Frank has this moment left me. He is still in pursuit of this business,
which is by no means brought to a conclusion. He has been with my
brother, and has met the gambler; with whom two very characteristic
dialogues have passed, which Frank has repeated with considerable
humour. My brother was only present at and bore his part in the second.
The man is a perfect master of his vile trade; a practised duellist; as
expert, Frank says, in killing of men as in cogging of dice. A
Hibernian bravo; determined to pursue the most desperate means to
effect his purpose.

Energy in vice or virtue, Frank remarks, is the characteristic of the
Irish. It is a noble quality, of which no nation perhaps has more, if
any so much; but it is frequently abused by them, and made productive
of the most hateful effects.

Frank was with my brother in his dressing-room, when the man came and
was shewn into an anti-chamber by the servant. Edward was sufficiently
unwilling to see him, and readily agreed to the proposal Frank made, of
first conversing with him, as my brother's friend.

Frank accordingly went to him, and says he was struck at the sight of
the man, being much deceived if he be not an old acquaintance. I was
and still am surprised at what Frank told me; but he begged I would
suspend my curiosity, till he himself should be better satisfied; and
proceeded with his dialogue.

Your name I believe, sir, is Mr. Mac Fane.

At your sarvice, sir.

I am the friend of Captain St. Ives.

Then to be sure, sir, you are a gintleman, and a man of honour. I am a
gintleman and a man of honour mysilf.

Do you say that from your conscience, sir?

From my conscience? Ay, sir! Why not? When all my debts due are duly
and truly paid, why I shall have ten thousand pounds in my pocket.

There are people, sir, heretical enough to suppose that even ten
thousand pounds are no absolute proof of honour.

No, indeed!--Why then, for those very scrupulous people, I have an
excellent pair of proof pistols, which I believe are absolute enough.
Because I would take the odds that they would hit a bird's eye flying.

Those arguments I own are difficult to withstand.

Stand!--Faith, and if any man shall think proper to stand, I will fetch
him down.--[Remember, Louisa, I am imitating this man's language, as
delivered by Frank; though I believe my memory is tolerably correct.]
But I should be proud to speak a word with your friend; becase that
will be more to the point.

He requested me to inform you, sir, he should be glad if you would
delay your visit an hour or two; and I think it will be the safest; for
you I perceive, sir, are rather warm; and his temper, as you may
imagine, cannot be so cool, just at present, as usual.

His temper!--Faith, sir, and the devil a care care I about his temper!
And as for warm and cool, I can be either, or neither, or both. I have
won the money, and the Captain must pay it; or else d'ye see, sir--!

You'll hit the bird's eye flying?

Ay; flying, or lying, or any way!--However, I will take a turn and come
back by and by. I have two or three calls to make on some peers of my
acquaintance. I am a man of nice honour, sir.

And you imagine, nice though it is, that your honour is suspected.

By my soul, sir, I imagine no such thing. Because as why, I think it
would not be very safe. I tell you very seriously, sir, that I have a
sure sacrit to cure any impartinent suspicions of my honour; as I beg
you would inform your friend, Captain St. Ives; who, being a man of
honour himsilf, knows what belongs to the business. These, sir, are
tender points, with every gintleman. And so, sir, I wish you a good
morning for the present.

Frank says he was desirous of conversing with the man, that he might
discover his character, previous to his concerting any plan of action.

After he was gone, he endeavoured to lead my brother into a discussion
on the state of his affairs. But Edward avoided all detail; satisfying
himself with affirming he was a ruined man, and unable to pay the sum.
He had no objection to meet the fellow in the field; though certainly
the chances were a hundred to one in his disfavour. He might as well
die that way as any other. With respect to victory, of that there were
but little hopes, with so expert a ruffian, who had practised pistol
shooting till he was sure of his mark, which my brother had wholly
neglected.

Frank then enquired at what house the money had been lost; and found it
had been at one of the common receptacles for gamblers of the second
order. No person was present but the groom porter, whom Frank
immediately determined to see, and went thither for that purpose. But,
on enquiry at the house, he found the man had absconded.

He returned, and had some difficulty to convince my brother that his
honour would not suffer by delay; for it was plain that Mr. Mac Fane
was resolved on immediately pushing the matter to an extreme. However,
on communicating his own conjectures concerning this man of nice
honour, Edward consented to permit Frank to act in his behalf. Frank
observes that our men of fashion seem agreed to overlook a portion of
insolence from these gamblers, under the affectation of despising them,
which the tamest of the fine gentlemen among them would scarcely brook
from each other.

In about two hours, Mr. Mac Fane returned; and, being introduced to my
brother and Frank, another conversation very similar to the former
ensued. The man began.

Your servant, gintlemen. I told you last night, Captain, that I would
give you a call this morning: and as it is an affair in which your
honour is concerned, why I was determined to be very punctual. Becase
why, you know, I am extremely nice and punctual mysilf, upon points of
honour.

I am sorry to be obliged to tell you, sir, that Captain St. Ives
neither knows nor owns any such thing; and that I have good reason to
believe the very reverse.

Sir!--You--! [Frank says the man put on the true look of a desperado,
resolved on mischief if opposed: but that, after pausing a moment, he
began, with a kind of humorous anger, to rub the side of his face, as
if it were benumbed] Faith, on recollection, I believe I got a bit of a
cold last night, which makes me rather dull of hearing.

Sir, I repeat--

Repate!--Boo!--There is no occasion to repate, at all at all. I
remember very well that my friend, Captain St. Ives, owes me three
thousand guineas; and, it being a dibt of honour, why, to be sure he
will pay it, without any repating about the matter.

Sir, said my brother, give me leave to tell you--

That you will pay me. You need not tell me that.

Sir--!

There never yet was man that refused to pay me, but oh! The almighty
thunder! I gave him a resale in full for the dibt. I made him repint
after his death the day that ever he was born.

There's the door, sir, said Frank.

Faith and I know there's the door, sir; but where's the money,
Captain?--That is, I don't mane the ready cash: that is not to be
expected, from a gentleman--A bond in these cases you know, Captain, is
customary.

Sir, there's the door.

I find that your friend, here, is disposed to be a little upon the
Captain Copperthorne this morning; and so I shall leave you for the
present to consider the matter. I have no doubt but I shall hear from
you, Captain, in the course of the four and twenty hours. It is now
full three weeks since I heard the whiz of a bullet; and I would advise
you, as a friend, not to waste any of your powder and ball upon the
prisent occasion. It would only be a buz and blow by business, Captain:
for, by the holy limb of Luke, I never yet saw lead that durst look me
in the face.

We should be glad to be alone, sir.

Faith, sir, you may be as bluff as you please; but, when the Captain is
a little cool, I shall expict to receive a bit of a message from him;
or may I never look on the bald pate of the blessed Peter but he shall
receive a bit of a message from me. And so once more, gintlemen, good
morning.

Frank did not lose a moment after he was gone, but hastened home; first
to inform us of his proceedings, thus far; and next to make the
researches on which he is now absent. Here, therefore, my dear Louisa,
I must pause; and once again subscribe myself, most affectionately,

A. W. ST. IVES

P.S. I have reason to believe that Clifton is more seriously offended
than I ever knew him before. When I refused going to the play with him,
he persisted in saying I might change my mind before night, and that he
would come again in that hope. His manner of parting with me, after
being told Frank was entrusted with a business which we had not dared
confide to him, was, as I have described, unusual, and accompanied with
more coldness and reserve than either of us had ever before assumed. It
is now eight o'clock, and I have not seen him since. If he have
resolution enough to keep away the whole evening, which I suspect he
will have, the proof of the truth of my conjectures will be
indubitable.

I know not, when he comes to hear the business, whether he will be
convinced that he was less proper to transact it than Frank; otherwise
I should not be sorry, could he but certainly feel himself wrong: for
it is by a repetition of such lessons that the good we intend must be
effected.

Be it as it will, let us neither recede nor slacken our endeavours. I
suspect that every worthy task must be a task of difficulty, and often
of danger.

LETTER LXX

_Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton_

_London, Grosvenor Street_

Frank is returned; and, as usual, crowned with success.

I had been puzzling myself to no purpose, concerning Mr. Mac Fane being
one of our old acquaintance. It appears he was the accomplice of the
highwayman, Webb, the brother of Peggy, who was shot by Frank at
Turnham Green. He forebore to tell me, in part because he had not time
to connect and relate the grounds of his suspicion; though his chief
reason was lest a whisper, heard by Laura or any other, should have
betrayed and overturned his whole scheme.

He went immediately to question Mrs. Clarke, concerning her nephew. She
knew not what was become of him; for, after having determined to go
abroad, he changed his mind; and, being reproved and discountenanced by
her, he had forborne his visits. She had even refused to hear his name
mentioned. But she believed her niece, Peggy, had some knowledge of
him; though she was not certain.

Frank thought proper to confide in Mrs. Clarke, and they immediately
went in quest of the niece. From her they learned that he had been
promoted to the office of groom-porter at a gambling house: and in fact
he proved to be the very man who had been present at the transaction
between Edward and Mr. Mac Fane.

Peggy was next questioned concerning his present hiding-place. She was
confused; she stammered, and trembled. Was not her brother in danger?
Could she be sure no harm would come to him?--At last however the mild
and humane reasoning of Frank, and the authority of Mrs. Clarke
subdued, her terrors--He was in the house.

It seems the moment he knew it was Captain St. Ives, my brother, whom
Mr. Mac Fane had been plundering, he refused to appear, or have any
further concern in the affair: and being violently threatened by the
gambler, who wanted to force him to come forward as his witness, he
concealed himself for fear; not knowing to what excess so desperate a
man might be carried by his passions. He and Peggy had just been
debating on the propriety of appearing to bear testimony in my
brother's behalf; but were too much alarmed to decide.

Frank lost no time. He took the man with him in the carriage, and
hastened to my brother's apartments; where he left him, and immediately
drove away to Bow-street, to procure the assistance of the police.
Previous to this, Mr. Mac Fane, having received some intimation that
there was danger, had written to my brother. The following is a copy of
his letter; and no bad specimen of the man.

Sir,

I find you think that there is a bit of a blunder in this business,
and that you doubt the doctors. I understand too that Webb, the
groom porter, is under obligations to your honourable family; for
which raison the lying spalpeen pretends that he smoaked a bale of
Fulhams--To be sure it is all a mistake--I am a man of honour; and

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