Part 2 out of 7
alliance stimulated neither by rank nor riches? would Mr Delvile, who
hardly ever spoke but to the high-born, without seeming to think his
dignity somewhat injured, deign to receive for a daughter-in-law the
child of a citizen and tradesman? would Mrs Delvile herself, little
less elevated in her notions, though infinitely softer in her manners,
ever condescend to acknowledge her? Cecilia's own birth and
connections, superior as they were to those of Miss Belfield, were
even openly disdained by Mr Delvile, and all her expectations of being
received into his family were founded upon the largeness of her
fortune, in favour of which the brevity of her genealogy might perhaps
pass unnoticed. But what was the chance of Miss Belfield, who neither
had ancestors to boast, nor wealth to allure?
This thought, however, awakened all the generosity of her soul; "If,"
cried she, "the advantages I possess are merely those of riches, how
little should I be flattered by any appearance of preference! and how
ill can I judge with what sincerity it may be offered! happier in that
case is the lowly Henrietta, who to poverty may attribute neglect, but
who can only be sought and caressed from motives of purest regard. She
loves Mr Delvile, loves him with the most artless affection;--perhaps,
too, he loves her in return,--why else his solicitude to know my
opinion of her, and why so sudden his alarm when he thought it
unfavourable? Perhaps he means to marry her, and to sacrifice to her
innocence and her attractions all plans of ambition, and all views of
aggrandizement:--thrice happy Henrietta, if such is thy prospect of
felicity! to have inspired a passion so disinterested, may humble the
most insolent of thy superiors, and teach even the wealthiest to envy
A BOLD STROKE.
When Cecilia returned home, she heard with much concern that no
tidings of Mr Harrel had yet been obtained. His lady, who did not stay
out late, was now very seriously frightened, and entreated Cecilia to
sit up with her till some news could be procured: she sent also for
her brother, and they all three, in trembling expectation of what was
to ensue, passed the whole night in watching.
At six o'clock in the morning, Mr Arnott besought his sister and
Cecilia to take some rest, promising to go out himself to every place
where Mr Harrel was known to resort, and not to return without
bringing some account of him.
Mrs Harrel, whose feelings were not very acute, finding the
persuasions of her brother were seconded by her own fatigue, consented
to follow his advice, and desired him to begin his search immediately.
A few moments after he was gone, while Mrs Harrel and Cecilia were
upon the stairs, they were startled by a violent knocking at the door:
Cecilia, prepared for some calamity, hurried her friend back to the
drawing-room, and then flying out of it again to enquire who entered,
saw to her equal surprize and relief, Mr Harrel himself.
She ran back with the welcome information, and he instantly followed
her: Mrs Harrel eagerly told him of her fright, and Cecilia expressed
her pleasure at his return: but the satisfaction of neither was of
He came into the room with a look of fierceness the most terrifying,
his hat on, and his arms folded. He made no answer to what they said,
but pushed back the door with his foot, and flung himself upon a sofa.
Cecilia would now have withdrawn, but Mrs Harrel caught her hand to
prevent her. They continued some minutes in this situation, and then
Mr Harrel, suddenly rising, called-out "Have you any thing to pack
"Pack up?" repeated Mrs Harrel, "Lord bless me, for what?"
"I am going abroad," he answered; "I shall set off to-morrow."
"Abroad?" cried she, bursting into tears, "I am sure I hope not!"
"Hope nothing!" returned he, in a voice of rage; and then, with a
dreadful oath, he ordered her to leave him and pack up.
Mrs Harrel, wholly unused to such treatment, was frightened into
violent hysterics; of which, however, he took no notice, but swearing
at her for _a fool who had been the cause of his ruin_, he left
Cecilia, though she instantly rang the bell, and hastened to her
assistance, was so much shocked by this unexpected brutality, that she
scarcely knew how to act, or what to order. Mrs Harrel, however, soon
recovered, and Cecilia accompanied her to her own apartment, where she
stayed, and endeavoured to sooth her till Mr Arnott returned.
The terrible state in which Mr Harrel had at last come home was
immediately communicated to him, and his sister entreated him to use
all his influence that the scheme for going abroad might be deferred,
at least, if not wholly given up.
Fearfully he went on the embassy, but speedily, and with a look wholly
dismayed, he returned. Mr Harrel, he said, told him that he had
contracted a larger debt of honour than he had any means to raise, and
as he could not appear till it was paid, he was obliged to quit the
kingdom without delay.
"Oh brother!" cried Mrs Harrel, "and can you suffer us to go?"
"Alas, my dear sister," answered he, "what can I do to prevent it? and
who, if I too am ruined, will in future help you?"
Mrs Harrel then wept bitterly, nor could the gentle Mr Arnott,
forbear, while he tried to comfort her, mixing his own tears with
those of his beloved sister; but Cecilia, whose reason was stronger,
and whose justice was offended, felt other sensations: and leaving Mrs
Harrel to the care of her brother, whose tenderness she infinitely
compassionated, she retreated into her own room. Not, however, to
rest; the dreadful situation of the family made her forget she wanted
it, but to deliberate upon what course she ought herself to pursue.
She determined without any hesitation against accompanying them in
their flight, as the irreparable injury she was convinced she had
already done her fortune, was more than sufficient to satisfy the most
romantic ideas of friendship and humanity: but her own place of abode
must now immediately be changed, and her choice rested only between Mr
Delvile and Mr Briggs.
Important as were the obstacles which opposed her residence at Mr
Delvile's, all that belonged to inclination and to happiness
encouraged it: while with respect to Mr Briggs, though the objections
were lighter, there was not a single allurement. Yet whenever the
suspicion recurred to her that Miss Belfield was beloved by young
Delvile, she resolved at all events to avoid him; but when better
hopes intervened, and represented that his enquiries were probably
accidental, the wish of being finally acquainted with his sentiments,
made nothing so desirable as an intercourse more frequent.
Such still was her irresolution, when she received a message from Mr
Arnott to entreat the honour of seeing her. She immediately went down
stairs, and found him in the utmost distress, "O Miss Beverley," he
cried, "what can I do for my sister! what can I possibly devise to
relieve her affliction!"
"Indeed I know not!" said Cecilia, "but the utter impracticability of
preparing her for this blow, obviously as it has long been impending,
makes it now fall so heavily I wish much to assist her,--but a debt so
"O madam," interrupted he, "imagine not I sent to you with so
treacherous a view as to involve you in our misery; far too unworthily
has your generosity already been abused. I only wish to consult with
you what I can do for my sister."
Cecilia, after some little consideration, proposed that Mrs Harrel
should still be left in England, and under their joint care.
"Alas!" cried he, "I have already made that proposal, but Mr Harrel
will not go without her, though his whole behaviour is so totally
altered, that I fear to trust her with him."
"Who is there, then, that has more weight with him?" said Cecilia,
"shall we send for Sir Robert Floyer to second our request?"
To this Mr Arnott assented, forgetting in his apprehension of losing
his sister, the pain he should suffer from the interference of his
The Baronet presently arrived, and Cecilia, not chusing to apply to
him herself, left him with Mr Arnott, and waited for intelligence in
In about an hour after, Mrs Harrel ran into the room, her tears dried
up, and out of breath with joy, and called out "My dearest friend, my
fate is now all in your hands, and I am sure you will not refuse to
make me happy."
"What is it I can do for you?" cried Cecilia, dreading some
impracticable proposal; "ask me not, I beseech you, what I cannot
"No, no," answered she, "What I ask requires nothing but good nature;
Sir Robert Floyer has been begging Mr Harrel to leave me behind, and
he has promised to comply, upon condition you will hasten your
marriage, and take me into your own house."
"My marriage!" cried the astonished Cecilia.
Here they were joined by Mr Harrel himself, who repeated the same
"You both amaze and shock me!" cried Cecilia, "what is it you mean,
and why do you talk to me so wildly?"
"Miss Beverley," cried Mr Harrel, "it is high time now to give up this
reserve, and trifle no longer with a gentleman so unexceptionable as
Sir Robert Floyer. The whole town has long acknowledged him as your
husband, and you are every where regarded as his bride, a little
frankness, therefore, in accepting him, will not only bind him to you
for ever, but do credit to the generosity of your character."
At that moment Sir Robert himself burst into the room, and seizing one
of her hands, while both of them were uplifted in mute amazement, he
pressed it to his lips, poured forth a volley of such compliments as
he had never before prevailed with himself to utter, and confidently
entreated her to complete his long-attended happiness without the
cruelty of further delay.
Cecilia, almost petrified by the excess of her surprise, at an attack
so violent, so bold, and apparently so sanguine, was for some time
scarce able to speak or to defend herself; but when Sir Robert,
presuming on her silence, said she had made him the happiest of men,
she indignantly drew back her hand, and with a look of displeasure
that required little explanation, would have walked out of the room:
when Mr Harrel, in a tone of bitterness and disappointment, called out
"Is this lady-like tyranny then never to end?" And Sir Robert,
impatiently following her, said "And is my suspense to endure for
ever? After so many months' attendance--"
"This, indeed, is something too much," said Cecilia, turning back,
"You have been kept, Sir, in no suspense; the whole tenor of my
conduct has uniformly declared the same disapprobation I at present
avow, and which my letter, at least, must have put beyond all doubt."
"Harrel," exclaimed Sir Robert, "did not you tell me--"
"Pho, Pho," cried Harrel, "what signifies calling upon me? I never saw
in Miss Beverley any disapprobation beyond what it is customary for
young ladies of a sentimental turn to shew; and every body knows that
where a gentleman is allowed to pay his devoirs for any length of
time, no lady intends to use him very severely."
"And can you, Mr Harrel," said Cecilia, "after such conversations as
have passed between us, persevere in this wilful misapprehension? But
it is vain to debate where all reasoning is disregarded, or to make
any protestations where even rejection is received as a favour."
And then, with an air of disdain, she insisted upon passing them, and
went to her own room.
Mrs Harrel, however, still followed, and clinging round her, still
supplicated her pity and compliance.
"What infatuation is this!" cried Cecilia, "is it possible that you,
too, can suppose I ever mean to accept Sir Robert?"
"To be sure I do," answered she, "for Mr Harrel has told me a thousand
times, that however you played the prude, you would be his at last."
Cecilia, though doubly irritated against Mr Harrel, was now appeased
with his lady, whose mistake, however ill-founded, offered an excuse
for her behaviour: but she assured her in the strongest terms that her
repugnance to the Baronet was unalterable, yet told her she might
claim from her every good office that was not wholly unreasonable.
These were words of slender comfort to Mrs Harrel, who well knew that
her wishes and reason had but little affinity, and she soon,
therefore, left the room.
Cecilia then resolved to go instantly to Mrs Delvile, acquaint her
with the necessity of her removal, and make her decision whither,
according to the manner in which her intelligence should be received.
She sent, therefore, to order a chair, and was already in the hall,
when she was stopt by the entrance of Mr Monckton, who, addressing her
with a look of haste and earnestness, said, "I will not ask whither
you are going so early, or upon what errand, for I must beg a moment's
audience, be your business what it may."
Cecilia then accompanied him to the deserted breakfast room, which
none but the servants had this morning entered, and there, grasping
her hand, he said, "Miss Beverley, you must fly this house directly!
it is the region of disorder and licentiousness, and unfit to contain
She assured him she was that moment preparing to quit it, but begged
he would explain himself.
"I have taken care," he answered, "for some time past, to be well
informed of all the proceedings of Mr Harrel; and the intelligence I
procured this morning is of the most alarming nature. I find he spent
the night before the last entirely at a gaming table, where,
intoxicated by a run of good luck, he passed the whole of the next day
in rioting with his profligate intimates, and last night, returning
again to his favourite amusement, he not only lost all he had gained,
but much more than he could pay. Doubt not, therefore, but you will be
called upon to assist him: he still considers you as his resource in
times of danger, and while he knows you are under his roof, he will
always believe himself secure."
"Every thing indeed conspires," said Cecilia, more shocked than
surprised at this account, "to make it necessary I should quit his
house: yet I do not think he has at present any further expectations
from me, as he came into the room this morning not merely without
speaking to me, but behaved with a brutality to Mrs Harrel that he
must be certain would give me disgust. It shewed me, indeed, a new
part of his character, for ill as I have long thought of him, I did
not suspect he could be guilty of such unmanly cruelty."
"The character of a gamester," said Mr Monckton, "depends solely upon
his luck; his disposition varies with every throw of the dice, and he
is airy, gay and good humoured, or sour, morose and savage, neither
from nature nor from principle, but wholly by the caprice of chance."
Cecilia then related to him the scene in which she had just been
engaged with Sir Robert Floyer.
"This," cried he, "is a _manoeuvre_ I have been some time
expecting: but Mr Harrel, though artful and selfish, is by no means
deep. The plan he had formed would have succeeded with some women, and
he therefore concluded it would with all. So many of your sex have
been subdued by perseverance, and so many have been conquered by
boldness, that he supposed when he united two such powerful besiegers
in the person of a Baronet, he should vanquish all obstacles. By
assuring you that the world thought the marriage already settled, he
hoped to surprise you into believing there was no help for it, and by
the suddenness and vehemence of the attack, to frighten and hurry you
into compliance. His own wife, he knew, might have been managed thus
with ease, and so, probably, might his sister, and his mother, and his
cousin, for in love matters, or what are so called, women in general
are, readily duped. He discerned not the superiority of your
understanding to tricks so shallow and impertinent, nor the firmness
of your mind in maintaining its own independence. No doubt but he was
amply to have been rewarded for his assistance, and probably had you
this morning been propitious, the Baronet in return was to have
cleared him from his present difficulty."
"Even in my own mind," said Cecilia, "I can no longer defend him, for
he could never have been so eager to promote the interest of Sir
Robert, in the present terrible situation of his own affairs, had he
not been stimulated by some secret motives. His schemes and his
artifices, however, will now be utterly lost upon me, since your
warning and advice, aided by my own suffering experience of the
inutility of all I can do for him, will effectually guard me from all
his future attempts."
"Rest no security upon yourself," said Mr Monckton, "since you have no
knowledge of the many tricks and inventions by which you may yet be
plundered. Perhaps he may beg permission to reside in your house in
Suffolk, or desire an annuity for his wife, or chuse to receive your
first rents when you come of age; and whatever he may fix upon, his
dagger and his bowl will not fail to procure him. A heart so liberal
as yours can only be guarded by flight. You were going, you said, when
I came,--and whither?"
"To--to St James's-square," answered she, with a deep blush.
"Indeed!--is young Delvile, then, going abroad?"
"Abroad?--no,--I believe not."
"Nay, I only imagined it from your chusing to reside in his house."
"I do not chuse it," cried Cecilia, with quickness, "but is not any
thing preferable to dwelling with Mr Briggs?"
"Certainly," said Mr Monckton coolly, "nor should I have supposed he
had any chance with you, had I not hitherto observed that your
convenience has always been sacrificed to your sense of propriety."
Cecilia, touched by praise so full of censure, and earnest to
vindicate her delicacy, after an internal struggle, which Mr Monckton
was too subtle to interrupt, protested she would go instantly to Mr
Briggs, and see if it were possible to be settled in his house, before
she made any attempt to fix herself elsewhere.
"And when?" said Mr Monckton.
"I don't know," answered she, with some hesitation, "perhaps this
"Why not this morning?"
"I can go out no where this morning; I must stay with Mrs Harrel."
"You thought otherwise when I came, you were then content to leave
Cecilia's alacrity, however, for changing her abode, was now at an
end, and she would fain have been left quietly to re-consider her
plans: but Mr Monckton urged so strongly the danger of her lengthened
stay in the house of so designing a man as Mr Harrel, that he
prevailed with her to quit it without delay, and had himself the
satisfaction of handing her to her chair.
A MISER'S MANSION.
Mr Briggs was at home, and Cecilia instantly and briefly informed him
that it was inconvenient for her to live any longer at Mr Harrel's,
and that if she could be accommodated at his house, she should be glad
to reside with him during the rest of her minority.
"Shall, shall," cried he, extremely pleased, "take you with all my
heart. Warrant Master Harrel's made a good penny of you. Not a bit the
better for dressing so fine; many a rogue in a gold lace hat."
Cecilia begged to know what apartments he could spare for her.
"Take you up stairs," cried he, "shew you a place for a queen."
He then led her up stairs, and took her to a room entirely dark, and
so close for want of air that she could hardly breathe in it. She
retreated to the landing-place till he had opened the shutters, and
then saw an apartment the most forlorn she had ever beheld, containing
no other furniture than a ragged stuff bed, two worn-out rush-bottomed
chairs, an old wooden box, and a bit of broken glass which was
fastened to the wall by two bent nails.
"See here, my little chick," cried he, "everything ready! and a box
for your gimcracks into the bargain."
"You don't mean this place for me, Sir!" cried Cecilia, staring.
"Do, do;" cried he, "a deal nicer by and by. Only wants a little
furbishing: soon put to rights. Never sweep a room out of use; only
wears out brooms for nothing."
"But, Sir, can I not have an apartment on the first floor?"
"No, no, something else to do with it; belongs to the club; secrets in
all things! Make this do well enough. Come again next week; wear quite
a new face. Nothing wanting but a table; pick you up one at a
"But I am obliged, Sir, to leave Mr Harrel's house directly."
"Well, well, make shift without a table at first; no great matter if
you ha'n't one at all, nothing particular to do with it. Want another
blanket, though. Know where to get one; a very good broker hard by.
Understand how to deal with him! A close dog, but warm."
"I have also two servants, Sir," said Cecilia.
"Won't have 'em! Sha'n't come! Eat me out of house and home."
"Whatever they eat, Sir," answered she, "will be wholly at my expence,
as will everything else that belongs to them."
"Better get rid of them: hate servants; all a pack of rogues: think of
nothing but stuffing and guzzling."
Then opening another door, "See here," he cried, "my own room just by;
snug as a church!"
Cecilia, following him into it, lost a great part of her surprise at
the praise he had lavished upon that which he destined for herself, by
perceiving that his own was yet more scantily furnished, having
nothing in it but a miserable bed without any curtains, and a large
chest, which, while it contained his clothes, sufficed both for table
"What are doing here?" cried he angrily, to a maid who was making the
bed, "can't you take more care? beat 'out all the feathers, see! two
on the ground; nothing but waste and extravagance! never mind how soon
a man's ruined. Come to want, you slut, see that, come to want!"
"I can never want more than I do here," said the girl, "so that's one
Cecilia now began to repent she had made known the purport of her
visit, for she found it would be utterly impossible to accommodate
either her mind or her person to a residence such as was here to be
obtained and she only wished Mr Monckton had been present, that he
might himself be convinced of the impracticability of his scheme. Her
whole business, therefore, now, was to retract her offer, and escape
from the house.
"I see, Sir," said she, when he turned from his servant, "that I
cannot be received here without inconvenience, and therefore I will
make some new arrangement in my plan."
"No, no," cried he, "like to have you, 'tis but fair, all in our turn;
won't be chorused; Master Harrel's had his share. Sorry could not get
you that sweetheart! would not bite; soon find out another; never
"But there are so many things with which I cannot possibly dispense,"
said Cecilia, "that I am certain my removing hither would occasion you
far more trouble than you at present foresee."
"No, no; get all in order soon: go about myself; know how to bid;
understand trap; always go shabby; no making a bargain in a good coat.
Look sharp at the goods; say they won't do; come away; send somebody
else for 'em. Never go twice myself; nothing got cheap if one seems to
have a hankering."
"But I am sure it is not possible," said Cecilia, hurrying down
stairs, "that my room, and one for each of my servants, should be
ready in time."
"Yes, yes," cried he, following her, "ready in a trice. Make a little
shift at first; double the blanket till we get another; lie with the
maid a night or two; never stand for a trifle."
And, when she was seated in her chair, the whole time disclaiming her
intention of returning, he only pinched her cheek with a facetious
smirk, and said, "By, by, little duck; come again soon. Warrant I'll
have the room ready. Sha'n't half know it again; make it as smart as a
And then she left the house; fully satisfied that no one could blame
her refusing to inhabit it, and much less chagrined than she was
willing to suppose herself, in finding she had now no resource but in
Yet, in her serious reflections, she could not but think herself
strangely unfortunate that the guardian with whom alone it seemed
proper for her to reside, should by parsimony, vulgarity, and
meanness, render riches contemptible, prosperity unavailing, and
economy odious: and that the choice of her uncle should thus unhappily
have fallen upon the lowest and most wretched of misers, in a city
abounding with opulence, hospitality, and splendour, and of which the
principal inhabitants, long eminent for their wealth and their
probity, were now almost universally rising in elegance and
Cecilia's next progress, therefore, was to St James's-square, whither
she went in the utmost anxiety, from her uncertainty of the reception
with which her proposal would meet.
The servants informed her that Mr and Mrs Delvile were at breakfast,
and that the Duke of Derwent and his two daughters were with them.
Before such witnesses to relate the reasons of her leaving the
Harmless was impossible; and from such a party to send for Mrs
Delvile, would, by her stately guardian, be deemed an indecorum
unpardonable. She was obliged, therefore, to return to Portman-square,
in order to open her cause in a letter to Mrs Delvile.
Mr Arnott, flying instantly to meet her, called out O madam, what
alarm has your absence occasioned! My sister believed she should see
you no more, Mr Harrel feared a premature discovery of his purposed
retreat, and we have all been under the cruellest apprehensions lest
you meant not to come back."
"I am sorry I spoke not with you before I went out," said Cecilia,
accompanying him to the library, "but I thought you were all too much
occupied to miss me. I have been, indeed, preparing for a removal, but
I meant not to leave your sister without bidding her adieu, nor,
indeed, to quit any part of the family with so little ceremony. Is Mr
Harrel still firm to his last plan?"
"I fear so! I have tried what is possible to dissuade him, and my poor
sister has wept without ceasing. Indeed, if she will take no
consolation, I believe I shall do what she pleases, for I cannot bear
the sight of her in such distress."
"You are too generous, and too good!" said Cecilia, "and I know not
how, while flying from danger myself, to forbear counselling you to
avoid it also."
"Ah madam!" cried he, "the greatest danger for _me_ is what I
have now no power to run from!"
Cecilia, though she could not but understand him, felt not the less
his friend for knowing him the humblest of her admirers; and as she
saw the threatening ruin to which his too great tenderness exposed
him, she kindly said "Mr Arnott, I will speak, to you without reserve.
It is not difficult to see that the destruction which awaits Mr
Harrel, is ready also to ensnare his brother-in-law: but let not that
blindness to the future which we have so often lamented for him,
hereafter be lamented for yourself. Till his present connections are
broken, and his way of living is changed, nothing can be done for him,
and whatever you were to advance, would merely be sunk at the gaming
table. Reserve, therefore, your liberality till it may indeed be of
service to him, for believe me, at present, his mind is as much
injured as his fortune."
"And is it possible, madam," said Mr Arnott, in an accent of surprize
and delight, "that you can deign to be interested in what may become
of me! and that my sharing or escaping the ruin of this house is not
wholly indifferent to you?"
"Certainly not," answered Cecilia; "as the brother of my earliest
friend, I can never be insensible to your welfare."
"Ah madam!" cried he, "as her brother!--Oh that there were any other
"Think a little," said Cecilia, preparing to quit the room, "of what I
have mentioned, and, for your sister's sake, be firm now, if you would
be kind hereafter."
"I will be any and every thing," cried he, "that Miss Beverley will
Cecilia, fearful of any misinterpretation, then came back, and gravely
said, "No, Sir, be ruled only by your own judgment: or, should my
advice have any weight with you, remember it is given from the most
disinterested motives, and with no other view than that of securing
your power to be of service to your sister."
"For that sister's sake, then, have the goodness to hear my situation,
and honour me with further directions."
"You will make me fear to speak," said Cecilia, "if you give so much
consequence to my opinion. I have seen, however, nothing in your
conduct I have ever wished changed, except too little attention to
your own interest and affairs."
"Ah!" cried he, "with what rapture should I hear those words, could I
"Come, come," said Cecilia, smiling, "no digression! You called me
back to talk of your sister; if you change your subject, perhaps you
may lose your auditor."
"I would not, madam, for the world encroach upon your goodness; the
favour I have found has indeed always exceeded my expectations, as it
has always surpassed my desert: yet has it never blinded me to my own
unworthiness. Do not, then, fear to indulge me with your conversation;
I shall draw from it no inference but of pity, and though pity from
Miss Beverley is the sweetest balm to my heart, it shall never seduce
me to the encouragement of higher hopes."
Cecilia had long had reason to expect such a declaration, yet she
heard it with unaffected concern, and looking at him with the utmost
gentleness, said "Mr Arnott, your regard does me honour, and, were it
somewhat more rational, would give me pleasure; take, then, from it
what is more than I wish or merit, and, while you preserve the rest,
be assured it will be faithfully returned."
"Your rejection is so mild," cried he, "that I, who had no hope of
acceptance, find relief in having at last told my sufferings. Could I
but continue to see you every day, and to be blest with your
conversation, I think I should be happy, and I am sure I should be
"You are already," answered she, shaking her head, and moving towards
the door, "infringing the conditions upon which our friendship is to
"Do not go, madam," he cried, "till I have done what you have just
promised to permit, acquainted you with my situation, and been
honoured with your advice. I must own to you, then, that £5000, which
I had in the stocks, as well as a considerable sum in a banker's
hands, I have parted with, as I now find for ever but I have no heart
for refusal, nor would my sister at this moment be thus distressed,
but that I have nothing more to give without I cut down my trees, or
sell some farm, since all I was worth, except my landed property, is
already gone. What, therefore, I can now do to save Mr Harrel from
this desperate expedition I know not."
"I am sorry," said Cecilia, "to speak with severity of one so nearly
connected with you, yet, suffer me to ask, why should he be saved from
it at all? and what is there he can at present do better? Has not he
long been threatened with every evil that is now arrived? have we not
both warned him, and have not the clamours of his creditors assailed
him? yet what has been the consequence? he has not submitted to the
smallest change in his way of life, he has not denied himself a single
indulgence, nor spared any expence, nor thought of any reformation.
Luxury has followed luxury, and he has only grown fonder of
extravagance, as extravagance has become more dangerous. Till the
present storm, therefore, blows over, leave him to his fate, and when
a calm succeeds, I will myself, for the sake of Priscilla, aid you to
save what is possible of the wreck."
"All you say, madam, is as wise as it is good, and now I am acquainted
with your opinion, I will wholly new model myself upon it, and grow as
steady against all attacks as hitherto I have been yielding."
Cecilia was then retiring; but again detaining her, he Said "You
spoke, madam, of a removal, and indeed it is high time you should quit
this scene: yet I hope you intend not to go till to-morrow, as Mr
Harrel has declared your leaving him sooner will be his destruction."
"Heaven forbid," said Cecilia, "for I mean to be gone with all the
speed in my power."
"Mr Harrel," answered he, "did not explain himself; but I believe he
apprehends your deserting his house at this critical time, will raise
a suspicion of his own design of going abroad, and make his creditors
interfere to prevent him."
"To what a wretched state," cried Cecilia, "has he reduced himself! I
will not, however, be the voluntary instrument of his disgrace; and if
you think my stay is so material to his security, I will continue here
till to-morrow morning."
Mr Arnott almost wept his thanks for this concession, and Cecilia,
happy in making it to him instead of Mr Harrel, then went to her own
room, and wrote the following letter to Mrs Delvile.
_To the Hon. Mrs Delvile, St James's-square_.
PORTMAN SQUARE, _June_ 12.
DEAR MADAM,--I am willing to hope you have been rather surprised that
I have not sooner availed myself of the permission with which you
yesterday honoured me of spending this whole day with you, but,
unfortunately for myself, I am prevented waiting upon you even for any
part of it. Do not, however, think me now ungrateful if I stay away,
nor to-morrow impertinent, if I venture to enquire whether that
apartment which you had once the goodness to appropriate to my use,
may then again be spared for me! The accidents which have prompted
this strange request will, I trust, be sufficient apology for the
liberty I take in making it, when I have the honour to see you, and
acquaint you what they are.--I am, with the utmost respect, Dear
Madam, your most obedient humble servant,
She would not have been thus concise, had not the caution of Mr Arnott
made her fear, in the present perilous situation of affairs, to trust
the secret of Mr Harrel to paper.
The following answer was returned her from Mrs Delvile:--
_To Miss Beverley, Portman-square_.
The accidents you mention are not, I hope, of a very serious nature,
since I shall find difficulty insurmountable in trying to lament them,
if they are productive of a lengthened visit from my dear Miss
Beverley to her Faithful humble servant,
Cecilia, charmed with this note, could now no longer forbear looking
forward to brighter prospects, flattering herself that once under the
roof of Mrs Delvile, she must necessarily be happy, let the
engagements or behaviour of her son be what they might.
A GAMESTER'S CONSCIENCE.
From this soothing prospect, Cecilia was presently disturbed by Mrs
Harrel's maid, who came to entreat she would hasten to her lady, whom
she feared was going into fits.
Cecilia flew to her immediately, and found her in the most violent
affliction. She used every kind effort in her power to quiet and
console her, but it was not without the utmost difficulty she could
sob out the cause of this fresh sorrow, which indeed was not trifling.
Mr Harrel, she said, had told her he could not possibly raise money
even for his travelling expences, without risking a discovery of his
project, and being seized by his creditors: he had therefore charged
her, _through her brother or her friend_, to procure for him
£3000, as less would not suffice to maintain them while abroad, and he
knew no method by which he could have any remittances without danger.
And, when she hesitated in her compliance, he furiously accused her of
having brought on all this distress by her negligence and want of
management, and declared that if she did not get the money, she would
only be served as she merited by starving in a foreign gaol, which he
swore would be the fate of them both.
The horror and indignation with which Cecilia heard this account were
unspeakable. She saw evidently that she was again to be played upon by
terror and distress, and the cautions and opinions of Mr Monckton no
longer appeared overstrained; _one year's income_ was already
demanded, the annuity and the country house might next be required:
she rejoiced, however, that thus wisely forewarned, she was not liable
to surprise, and she determined, be their entreaties or
representations what they might, to be immovably steady in her purpose
of leaving them the next morning.
Yet she could not but grieve at suffering the whole burthen of this
clamorous imposition to fall upon the soft-hearted Mr Arnott, whose
inability to resist solicitation made him so unequal to sustaining its
weight: but when Mrs Harrel was again able to go on with her account,
she heard, to her infinite surprise, that all application to her
brother had proved fruitless. "He will not hear me," continued Mrs
Harrel, "and he never was deaf to me before! so now I have lost my
only and last resource, my brother himself gives me up, and there is
no one else upon earth who will assist me!"
"With pleasure, with readiness, with joy," cried Cecilia, "should you
find assistance from me, were it to you alone it were given; but to
supply fuel for the very fire that is consuming you--no, no, my whole
heart is hardened against gaming and gamesters, and neither now nor
ever will I suffer any consideration to soften me in their favour."
Mrs Harrel only answered by tears and lamentations; and Cecilia, whose
justice shut not out compassion, having now declared her purposed
firmness, again attempted to sooth her, entreating her not to give way
to such immoderate grief, since better prospects might arise from the
very gloom now before her, and a short time spent in solitude and
oeconomy, might enable her to return to her native land with recovered
"No, I shall never return!" cried she, weeping, "I shall die, I shall
break my heart before I have been banished a month! Oh Miss Beverley,
how happy are you! able to stay where you please,--rich,--rolling in
wealth which you do not want,--of which had we but _one_ year's
income only, all this misery would be over, and we might stay in our
dear, dear, country!"
Cecilia, struck by a hint that so nearly bordered upon reproach, and
offended by seeing the impossibility of ever doing enough, while
anything remained to be done, forbore not without difficulty enquiring
what next was expected from her, and whether any part of her fortune
might be guarded, without giving room for some censure! but the deep
affliction of Mrs Harrel soon removed her resentment, and scarcely
thinking her, while in a state of such wretchedness, answerable for
what she said, after a little recollection, she mildly replied "As
affluence is all comparative, you may at present think I have more
than my share: but the time is only this moment past, when your own
situation seemed as subject to the envy of others as mine may be now.
My future destiny is yet undetermined, and the occasion I may have for
my fortune is unknown to myself; but whether I possess it in peace or
in turbulence, whether it proves to me a blessing or an injury, so
long as I can call it my own, I shall always remember with alacrity
the claim upon that and upon me which early friendship has so justly
given Mrs Harrel. Yet permit me, at the same time, to add, that I do
not hold myself so entirely independent as you may probably suppose
me. I have not, it is true, any Relations to call me to account, but
respect for their memory supplies the place of their authority, and I
cannot, in the distribution of the fortune which has devolved to me,
forbear sometimes considering how they would have wished it should be
spent, and always remembering that what was acquired by industry and
labour, should never be dissipated in idleness and vanity. Forgive me
for thus speaking to the point; you will not find me less friendly to
yourself, for this frankness with respect to your situation."
Tears were again the only answer of Mrs Harrel; yet Cecilia, who
pitied the weakness of her mind, stayed by her with the most patient
kindness till the servants announced dinner. She then declared she
would not go down stairs: but Cecilia so strongly represented the
danger of awakening suspicion in the servants, that she at last
prevailed with her to make her appearance.
Mr Harrel was already in the parlour, and enquiring for Mr Arnott, but
was told by the servants he had sent word he had another engagement.
Sir Robert Floyer also kept away, and, for the first time since her
arrival in town, Cecilia dined with no other company than the master
and mistress of the house.
Mrs Harrel could eat nothing; Cecilia, merely to avoid creating
surprise in the servants, forbore following her example; but Mr Harrel
eat much as usual, talked all dinner-time, was extremely civil to
Cecilia, and discovered not by his manners the least alteration in his
When the servants were gone, he desired his wife to step for a moment
with him into the library. They soon returned, and then Mr Harrel,
after walking in a disordered manner about the room, rang the bell,
and ordered his hat and cane, and as he took them, said "If this
fails--" and, stopping short, without speaking to his wife, or even
bowing to Cecilia, he hastily went out of the house.
Mrs Harrel told Cecilia that he had merely called her to know the
event of her two petitions, and had heard her double failure in total
silence. Whither he was now gone it was not easy to conjecture, nor
what was the new resource which he still seemed to think worth trying;
but the manner of his quitting the house, and the threat implied by
_if this fails_, contributed not to lessen the grief of Mrs
Harrel, and gave to Cecilia herself the utmost alarm.
They continued together till tea-time, the servants having been
ordered to admit no company. Mr Harrel himself then returned, and
returned, to the amazement of Cecilia, accompanied by Mr Marriot.
He presented that young man to both the ladies as a gentleman whose
acquaintance and friendship he was very desirous to cultivate. Mrs
Harrel, too much absorbed in her own affairs to care about any other,
saw his entrance with a momentary surprise, and then thought of it no
more: but it was not so with Cecilia, whose better understanding led
her to deeper reflection.
Even the visits of Mr Marriot but a few weeks since Mr Harrel had
prohibited, yet he now introduced him into his house with particular
distinction; he came back too himself in admirable spirits, enlivened
in his countenance, and restored to his good humour. A change so
extraordinary both in conduct and disposition convinced her that some
change no less extra-ordinary of circumstance must previously have
happened: what that might be it was not possible for her to divine,
but the lessons she had received from Mr Monckton led her to
suspicions of the darkest kind.
Every part of his behaviour served still further to confirm them; he
was civil even to excess to Mr Marriot; he gave orders aloud not to be
at home to Sir Robert Floyer; he made his court to Cecilia with
unusual assiduity, and he took every method in his power to procure
opportunity to her admirer of addressing and approaching her.
The young man, who seemed _enamoured even to madness_, could
scarce refrain not merely from prostration to the object of his
passion, but to Mr Harrel himself for permitting him to see her.
Cecilia, who not without some concern perceived a fondness so
fruitless, and who knew not by what arts or with what views Mr Harrel
might think proper to encourage it, determined to take all the means
that were in her own power towards giving it immediate control. She
behaved, therefore, with the utmost reserve, and the moment tea was
over, though earnestly entreated to remain with them, she retired to
her own room, without making any other apology than coldly saying she
could not stay.
In about an hour Mrs Harrel ran up stairs to her.
"Oh Miss Beverley," she cried, "a little respite is now granted me! Mr
Harrel says he shall stay another day; he says, too, one single
thousand pound would now make him a new man."
Cecilia returned no answer; she conjectured some new deceit was in
agitation to raise money, and she feared Mr Marriot was the next dupe
to be played upon. Mrs Harrel, therefore, with a look of the utmost
disappointment, left her, saying she would send for her brother, and
once more try if he had yet any remaining regard for her.
Cecilia rested quiet till eleven o'clock, when she was summoned to
supper: she found Mr Marriot still the only guest, and that Mr Arnott
made not his appearance.
She now resolved to publish her resolution of going the next morning
to St James's-square. As soon, therefore, as the servants withdrew,
she enquired of Mr Harrel if he had any commands with Mr or Mrs
Delvile, as she should see them the next morning, and purposed to
spend some time with them.
Mr Harrel, with a look of much alarm, asked if she meant the whole
Many days, she answered, and probably some months.
Mrs Harrel exclaimed her surprise aloud, and Mr Harrel looked aghast:
while his new young friend cast upon him a glance of reproach and
resentment, which fully convinced Cecilia he imagined he had procured
himself a title to an easiness of intercourse and frequency of meeting
which this intelligence destroyed. Cecilia, thinking after all that
had passed, no other ceremony on her part was necessary but that of
simply speaking her intention, then arose and returned to her own
She acquainted her maid that she was going to make a visit to Mrs
Delvile, and gave her directions about packing up her clothes, and
sending for a man in the morning to take care of her books.
This employment was soon interrupted by the entrance of Mrs Harrel,
who desiring to speak with her alone, when the maid was gone, said "O
Miss Beverley, can you indeed be so barbarous as to leave me?"
"I entreat you, Mrs Harrel," answered Cecilia, "to save both yourself
and me any further discussions. I have delayed this removal very long,
and I can now delay it no longer."
Mrs Harrel then flung herself upon a chair in the bitterest sorrow,
declaring she was utterly undone; that Mr Harrel had declared he could
not stay even an hour in England if she was not in his house; that he
had already had a violent quarrel with Mr Marriot upon the subject;
and that her brother, though she had sent him the most earnest
entreaties, would not come near her.
Cecilia, tired of vain attempts to offer comfort, now urged the
warmest expostulations against her opposition, strongly representing
the real necessity of her going abroad, and the unpardonable weakness
of wishing to continue such a life as she now led, adding debt to
debt, and hoarding distress upon distress.
Mrs Harrel then, though rather from compulsion than conviction,
declared she would agree to go, if she had not a dread of ill usage;
but Mr Harrel, she said, had behaved to her with the utmost brutality,
calling her the cause of his ruin, and threatening that if she
procured not this thousand pound before the ensuing evening, she
should be treated as she deserved for her extravagance and folly.
"Does he think, then," said Cecilia with the utmost indignation, "that
I am to be frightened through your fears into what compliances he
"O no," cried Mrs Harrel, "no; his expectations are all from my
brother. He surely thought that when I supplicated and pleaded to him,
he would do what I wished, for so he always did formerly, and so once
again I am sure he would do now, could I but make him come to me, and
tell him how I am used, and tell him that if Mr Harrel takes me abroad
in this humour, I verily think in his rage he will half murder me."
Cecilia, who well knew she was herself the real cause of Mr Arnott's
resistance, now felt her resolution waver, internally reproaching
herself with the sufferings of his sister; alarmed, however, for her
own constancy, she earnestly besought Mrs Harrel to go and compose
herself for the night, and promised to deliberate what could be done
for her before morning.
Mrs Harrel complied; but scarce was her own rest more broken than that
of Cecilia, who, though extremely fatigued with a whole night's
watching, was so perturbed in her mind she could not close her eyes.
Mrs Harrel was her earliest, and had once been her dearest friend; she
had deprived her by her own advice of her customary refuge in her
brother; to refuse, therefore, assistance to her seemed cruelty,
though to deny it to Mr Harrel was justice: she endeavoured,
therefore, to make a compromise between her judgment and compassion,
by resolving that though she would grant nothing further to Mr Harrel
while he remained in London, she would contribute from time to time
both to his necessities and comfort, when once he was established
elsewhere upon some plan of prudence and economy.
The next morning by five o'clock Mrs Harrel came into Cecilia's room
to know the result of her deliberation; and Cecilia, with that
graceful readiness which accompanied all her kind offices, instantly
assured her the thousand pound should be her own, if she would consent
to seek some quiet retreat, and receive it in small sums, of fifty or
one hundred pounds at a time, which should be carefully transmitted,
and which, by being delivered to herself, might secure better
treatment from Mr Harrel, and be a motive to revive his care and
She flew, much delighted, with this proposal to her husband; but
presently, and with a dejected look, returning, said Mr Harrel
protested he could not possibly set out without first receiving the
money. "I shall go myself, therefore," said she, "to my brother after
breakfast, for he will not, I see, unkind as he is grown, come to me;
and if I do not succeed with him, I believe I shall never come back!"
To this Cecilia, offended and disappointed, answered "I am sorry for
Mr Arnott, but for myself I have done!"
Mrs Harrel then left her, and she arose to make immediate preparations
for her removal to St James's-square, whither, with all the speed in
her power, she sent her books, her trunks, and all that belonged to
When she was summoned down stairs, she found, for the first time, Mr
Harrel breakfasting at the same table with his wife: they seemed
mutually out of humour and comfortless, nothing hardly was spoken, and
little was swallowed: Mr Harrel, however, was civil, but his wife was
totally silent, and Cecilia the whole time was planning how to take
When the tea things were removed, Mr Harrel said, "You have not, I
hope, Miss Beverley, quite determined upon this strange scheme?"
"Indeed I have, Sir," she answered, "and already I have sent my
At this information he seemed thunderstruck; but, after somewhat
recovering, said with much bitterness, "Well, madam, at least may I
request you will stay here till the evening?"
"No, Sir," answered she coolly, "I am going instantly."
"And will you not," said he, with yet greater asperity, "amuse
yourself first with seeing bailiffs take possession of my house, and
your friend Priscilla follow me to jail?"
"Good God, Mr Harrel!" exclaimed Cecilia, with uplifted hands, "is
this a question, is this behaviour I have merited!"
"O no!" cried he with quickness, "should I once think that way--" then
rising and striking his forehead, he walked about the room.
Mrs Harrel arose too, and weeping violently went away.
"Will you at least," said Cecilia, when she was gone, "till your
affairs are settled, leave Priscilla with me? When I go into my own
house, she shall accompany me, and mean time Mr Arnott's I am sure
will gladly be open to her."
"No, no," answered he, "she deserves no such indulgence; she has not
any reason to complain, she has been as negligent, as profuse, as
expensive as myself; she ha practised neither oeconomy nor self-denial,
she has neither thought of me nor my affairs, nor is she now afflicted at
any thing but the loss of that affluence she has done her best towards
"All recrimination," said Cecilia, "were vain, or what might not Mrs
Harrel urge in return! but let us not enlarge upon so ungrateful a
subject, the wisest and the happiest scheme now were mutually and
kindly to console each other."
"Consolation and kindness," cried he, with abruptness, "are out of the
question. I have ordered a post chaise to be here at night, and if
till then you will stay, I will promise to release you without further
petition if not, eternal destruction be my portion if I _live_ to
see the scene which your removal will occasion!"
"My removal." cried Cecilia, shuddering, "good heaven, and how can my
removal be of such dreadful consequence?"
"Ask me not," cried he, fiercely, "questions or reasons now; the
crisis is at hand, and you will soon, happen what may, know all: mean
time what I have said is a fact, and immutable: and you must hasten my
end, or give me a chance for avoiding it, as you think fit. I scarce
care at this instant which way you decide remember, however, all I ask
of you is to defer your departure; what else I have to hope is from Mr
He then left the room.
Cecilia now was again a coward! In vain she called to her support the
advice, the prophesies, the cautions of Mr Monckton, in vain she
recollected the impositions she had already seen practised, for
neither the warnings of her counsellor, nor the lessons of her own
experience, were proofs against the terrors which threats so desperate
inspired: and though more than once she determined to fly at all
events from a tyranny he had so little right to usurp, the mere
remembrance of the words _if you stay not till night I will not
live_, robbed her of all courage; and however long she had prepared
herself for this very attack, when the moment arrived, its power over
her mind was too strong for resistance.
While this conflict between fear and resolution was still undecided,
her servant brought her the following letter from Mr Arnott.
_To Miss Beverley, Portman-square.
June 13th, 1779_.
MADAM,--Determined to obey those commands which you had the goodness
to honour me with, I have absented myself from town till Mr Harrel is
settled; for though I am as sensible of your wisdom as of your beauty,
I find myself too weak to bear the distress of my unhappy sister, and
therefore I run from the sight, nor shall any letter or message follow
me, unless it comes from Miss Beverley herself, lest she should in
future refuse the only favour I dare presume to solicit, that of
sometimes deigning to honour with her directions, the most humble and
devoted of her servants,
In the midst of her apprehensions for herself and her own interest,
Cecilia could not forbear rejoicing that Mr Arnott, at least, had
escaped the present storm: yet she was certain it would fall the more
heavily upon herself; and dreaded the sight of Mrs Harrel after the
shock which this flight would occasion.
Her expectations were but too quickly fulfilled: Mrs Harrel in a short
time after rushed wildly into the room, calling out "My brother is
gone! he has left me for ever! Oh save me, Miss Beverley, save me from
abuse and insult!" And she wept with so much violence she could utter
Cecilia, quite tortured by this persecution, faintly asked what she
could do for her?
"Send," cried she, "to my brother, and beseech him not to abandon me!
send to him, and conjure him to advance this thousand pound!--the
chaise is already ordered,--Mr Harrel is fixed upon going,--yet he
says without that money we must both starve in a strange land,--O send
to my cruel brother! he has left word that nothing must follow him
that does not come from you."
"For the world, then," cried Cecilia, "would I not baffle his
discretion! indeed you must submit to your fate, indeed Mrs Harrel you
must endeavour to bear it better."
Mrs Harrel, shedding a flood of tears, declared she would try to
follow her advice, but again besought her in the utmost agony to send
after her brother, protesting she did not think even her life would be
safe in making so long a journey with Mr Harrel in his present state
of mind: his character, she said, was totally changed, his gaiety,
good humour, and sprightliness were turned into roughness and
moroseness, and, since his great losses at play, he was grown so
fierce and furious, that to oppose him even in a trifle, rendered him
quite outrageous in passion.
Cecilia, though truly concerned, and almost melted, yet refused to
interfere with Mr Arnott, and even thought it but justice to
acknowledge she had advised his retreat.
"And can you have been so cruel?" cried Mrs Harrel, with still
encreasing violence of sorrow, "to rob me of my only friend, to
deprive me of my Brother's affection, at the very time I am forced out
of the kingdom, with a husband who is ready to murder me, and who says
he hates the sight of me, and all because I cannot get him this fatal,
fatal money!--O Miss Beverley, how could I have thought to have had
such an office from you?"
Cecilia was beginning a justification, when a message came from Mr
Harrel, desiring to see his wife immediately.
Mrs Harrel, in great terror, cast herself at Cecilia's feet, and
clinging to her knees, called out "I dare not go to him! I dare not go
to him! he wants to know my success, and when he hears my brother is
run away, I am sure he will kill me!--Oh Miss Beverley, how could you
send him away? how could you be so inhuman as to leave me to the rage
of Mr Harrel?"
Cecilia, distressed and trembling herself, conjured her to rise and be
consoled; but Mrs Harrel, weak and frightened, could only weep and
supplicate: "I don't ask you," she cried, "to give the money yourself,
but only to send for my brother, that he may protect me, and beg Mr
Harrel not to treat me so cruelly,--consider but what a long, long
journey I am going to make! consider how often you used to say you
would love me for ever! consider you have robbed me of the tenderest
brother in the world!--Oh Miss Beverley, send for him back, or be a
sister to me yourself, and let not your poor Priscilla leave her
native land without help or pity!"
Cecilia, wholly overcome, now knelt too, and embracing her with tears,
said "Oh Priscilla, plead and reproach no more! what you wish shall be
yours,--I will send for your brother,--I will do what you please!"
"Now you are my friend indeed!" cried Mrs Harrel, "let me but
_see_ my brother, and his heart will yield to my distress, and he
will soften Mr Harrel by giving his unhappy sister this parting
Cecilia then took a pen in her hand to write to Mr Arnott; but struck
almost in the same moment with a notion of treachery in calling him
from a retreat which her own counsel made him seek, professedly to
expose him to a supplication which from his present situation might
lead him to ruin, she hastily flung it from her, and exclaimed "No,
excellent Mr Arnott, I will not so unworthily betray you!"
"And can you, Miss Beverley, can you at last," cried Mrs Harrel, "be
so barbarous as to retract?"
"No, my poor Priscilla," answered Cecilia, "I cannot so cruelly
disappoint you; my pity shall however make no sufferer but myself,--I
cannot send for Mr Arnott,--from me you must have the money, and may
it answer the purpose for which it is given, and restore to you the
tenderness of your husband, and the peace of your own heart!"
Priscilla, scarce waiting to thank her, flew with this intelligence to
Mr Harrel; who with the same impetuosity, scarce waiting to say he was
glad of it, ran himself to bring the Jew from whom the money was to be
procured. Every thing was soon settled, Cecilia had no time for
retracting, and repentance they had not the delicacy to regard: again,
therefore, she signed her name for paying the principal and interest
of another 1000_l_. within ten days after she was of age: and
having taken the money, she accompanied Mr and Mrs Harrel into another
room. Presenting it then with an affecting solemnity to Mrs Harrel,
"accept, Priscilla," she cried, "this irrefragable mark of the
sincerity of my friendship: but suffer me at the same time to tell
you, it is the last to so considerable an amount I ever mean to offer;
receive it, therefore, with kindness, but use it with discretion."
She then embraced her, and eager now to avoid acknowledgment, as
before she had been to escape importunities, she left them together.
The soothing recompense of succouring benevolence, followed not this
gift, nor made amends for this loss: perplexity and uneasiness, regret
and resentment, accompanied the donation, and rested upon her mind;
she feared she had done wrong; she was certain Mr Monckton would blame
her; he knew not the persecution she suffered, nor would he make any
allowance for the threats which alarmed, or the intreaties which
Far other had been her feelings at the generosity she exerted for the
Hills; no doubts then tormented her, and no repentance embittered her
beneficence. Their worth was without suspicion, and their misfortunes
were not of their own seeking; the post in which they had been
stationed they had never deserted, and the poverty into which they had
sunk was accidental and unavoidable.
But here, every evil had been wantonly incurred by vanity and
licentiousness, and shamelessly followed by injustice and fraud: the
disturbance of her mind only increased by reflection, for when the
rights of the creditors with their injuries occurred to her, she
enquired of herself by what title or equity, she had so liberally
assisted Mr Harrel in eluding their claims, and flying the punishment
which the law would inflict.
Startled by this consideration, she most severely reproached herself
for a compliance of which she had so lightly weighed the consequences,
and thought with the utmost dismay, that while she had flattered
herself she was merely indulging the dictates of humanity, she might
perhaps be accused by the world as an abettor of guile and injustice.
"And yet," she continued, "whom can I essentially have injured but
myself? would his creditors have been benefitted by my refusal? had I
braved the execution of his dreadful threat, and quitted his house
before I was wrought upon to assist him, would his suicide have
lessened their losses, or secured their demands? even if he had no
intention but to intimidate me, who will be wronged by my enabling him
to go abroad, or who would be better paid were he seized and confined?
All that remains of his shattered fortune may still be claimed, though
I have saved him from a lingering imprisonment, desperate for himself
and his wife, and useless for those he has plundered."
And thus, now soothed by the purity of her intentions, and now uneasy
from the rectitude of her principles, she alternately rejoiced and
repined at what she had done.
At dinner Mr Harrel was all civility and good humour. He warmly
thanked Cecilia for the kindness she had shewn him, and gaily added,
"You should be absolved from all the mischief you may do for a
twelvemonth to come, in reward for the preservation from mischief
which you have this day effected."
"The preservation," said Cecilia, "will I hope be for many days. But
tell me, sir, exactly, at what time I may acquaint Mrs Delvile I shall
wait upon her?"
"Perhaps," he answered, "by eight o'clock; perhaps by nine; you will
not mind half an hour?"
"Certainly not;" she answered, unwilling by disputing about a trifle
to diminish his satisfaction in her assistance. She wrote, therefore,
another note to Mrs Delvile, desiring she would not expect her till
near ten o'clock, and promising to account and apologize for these
seeming caprices when she had the honour of seeing her.
The rest of the afternoon she spent wholly in exhorting Mrs Harrel to
shew more fortitude, and conjuring her to study nothing while abroad
but oeconomy, prudence and housewifery: a lesson how hard for the
thoughtless and negligent Priscilla! she heard the advice with
repugnance, and only answered it with helpless complaints that she
knew not how to spend less money than she had always done.
After tea, Mr Harrel, still in high spirits, went out, entreating
Cecilia to stay with Priscilla till his return, which he promised
should be early.
Nine o'clock, however, came, and he did not appear; Cecilia then grew
anxious to keep her appointment with Mrs Delvile; but ten o'clock also
came, and still Mr Harrel was absent.
She then determined to wait no longer, and rang her bell for her
servant and chair: but when Mrs Harrel desired to be informed the
moment that Mr Harrel returned, the man said he had been come home
more than half an hour.
Much surprised, she enquired where he was.
"In his own room, madam, and gave orders not to be disturbed."
Cecilia, who was not much pleased at this account, was easily
persuaded to stay a few minutes longer; and, fearing some new evil,
she was going to send him a message, by way of knowing how he was
employed, when he came himself into the room.
"Well, ladies," he cried in a hurrying manner, "who is for Vauxhall?"
"Vauxhall!" repeated Mrs Harrel, while Cecilia, staring, perceived in
his face a look of perturbation that extremely alarmed her.
"Come, come," he cried, "we have no time to lose. A hackney coach will
serve us; we won't wait for our own."
"Have you then given up going abroad?" said Mrs Harrel.
"No, no; where can we go from half so well? let us live while we live!
I have ordered a chaise to be in waiting there. Come, let's be gone."
"First," said Cecilia, "let me wish you both good night."
"Will you not go with me?" cried Mrs Harrel, "how can I go to Vauxhall
"You are not alone," answered she; "but if I go, how am I to return?"
"She shall return with you," cried Mr Harrel, "if you desire it; you
shall return together."
Mrs Harrel, starting up in rapture, called out "Oh Mr Harrel, will you
indeed leave me in England?"
"Yes," answered he reproachfully, "if you will make a better friend
than you have made a wife, and if Miss Beverley is content to take
charge of you."
"What can all this mean?" exclaimed Cecilia, "is it possible you can
be serious? Are you really going yourself, and will you suffer Mrs
Harrel to remain?"
"I am," he answered, "and I will."
Then ringing the bell, he ordered a hackney coach.
Mrs Harrel was scarce able to breathe for extacy, nor Cecilia for
amazement: while Mr Harrel, attending to neither of them, walked for
some time silently about the room.
"But how," cried Cecilia at last, "can I possibly go? Mrs Delvile must
already be astonished at my delay, and if I disappoint her again she
will hardly receive me."
"O make not any difficulties," cried Mrs Harrel in an agony; "if Mr
Harrel will let me stay, sure you will not be so cruel as to oppose
"But why," said Cecilia, "should either of us go to Vauxhall? surely
that is no place for a parting so melancholy."
A servant then came in, and said the hackney coach was at the door.
Mr Harrel, starting at the sound, called out, "come, what do we wait
for? if we go not immediately, we may be prevented."
Cecilia then again wished them good night, protesting she could fail
Mrs Delvile no longer.
Mrs Harrel, half wild at this refusal, conjured her in the most
frantic manner, to give way, exclaiming, "Oh cruel! cruel! to deny me
this last request! I will kneel to you day and night," sinking upon
the ground before her, "and I will serve you as the humblest of your
slaves, if you will but be kind in this last instance, and save me
from banishment and misery!"
"Oh rise, Mrs Harrel," cried Cecilia, ashamed of her prostration, and
shocked by her vehemence, "rise and let me rest!--it is painful to me
to refuse, but to comply for ever in defiance of my judgment--Oh Mrs
Harrel, I know no longer what is kind or what is cruel, nor have I
known for some time past right from wrong, nor good from evil!"
"Come," cried Mr Harrel impetuously, "I wait not another minute!"
"Leave her then with me!" said Cecilia, "I will perform my promise, Mr
Arnott will I am sure hold his to be sacred, she shall now go with
him, she shall hereafter come to me,--leave her but behind, and depend
upon our care."
"No, no," cried he, with quickness, "I must take care of her myself. I
shall not carry her abroad with me, but the only legacy I can leave
her, is a warning which I hope she will remember for ever. _You_,
however, need not go."
"What," cried Mrs Harrel, "leave me at Vauxhall, and yet leave me
"What of that?" cried he with fierceness, "do you not desire to be
left? have you any regard for me? or for any thing upon earth but
yourself! cease these vain clamours, and come, I insist upon it, this
And then, with a violent oath, he declared he would be detained no
longer, and approached in great rage to seize her; Mrs Harrel shrieked
aloud, and the terrified Cecilia exclaimed, "If indeed you are to part
to-night, part not thus dreadfully!--rise, Mrs Harrel, and comply!--be
reconciled, be kind to her, Mr Harrel!--and I will go with her myself,
--we will all go together!"
"And why," cried Mr Harrel, more gently yet with the utmost emotion,
"why should _you_ go!--_you_ want no warning! _you_ need no terror!
--better far had you fly us, and my wife when I am set out may find you."
Mrs Harrel, however, suffered her not to recede; and Cecilia, though
half distracted by the scenes of horror and perplexity in which she
was perpetually engaged, ordered her servant to acquaint Mrs Delvile
she was again compelled to defer waiting upon her.
Mr Harrel then hurried them both into the coach, which he directed to
"Pray write to me when you are landed," said Mrs Harrel, who now
released from her personal apprehensions, began to feel some for her
He made not any answer. She then asked to what part of France he meant
to go: but still he did not reply: and when she urged him by a third
question, he told her in a rage to torment him no more.
During the rest of the ride not another word was Said; Mrs Harrel
wept, her husband guarded a gloomy silence, and Cecilia most
unpleasantly passed her time between anxious suspicions of some new
scheme, and a terrified wonder in what all these transactions would
A MAN OF BUSINESS.
When they entered Vauxhall, Mr Harrel endeavoured to dismiss his
moroseness, and affecting his usual gaiety, struggled to recover his
spirits; but the effort was vain, he could neither talk nor look like
himself, and though from time to time he resumed his air of wonted
levity, he could not support it, but drooped and hung his head in
He made them take several turns in the midst of the company, and
walked so fast that they could hardly keep pace with him, as if he
hoped by exercise to restore his vivacity; but every attempt failed,
he sunk and grew sadder, and muttering between his teeth "this is not
to be borne!" he hastily called to a waiter to bring him a bottle of
Of this he drank glass after glass, notwithstanding Cecilia, as Mrs
Harrel had not courage to speak, entreated him to forbear. He seemed,
however, not to hear her; but when he had drunk what he thought
necessary to revive him, he conveyed them into an unfrequented part of
the garden, and as soon as they were out of sight of all but a few
stragglers, he suddenly stopt, and, in great agitation, said, "my
chaise will soon be ready, and I shall take of you a long farewell!--
all my affairs are unpropitious to my speedy return:--the wine is now
mounting into my head, and perhaps I may not be able to say much by
and by. I fear I have been cruel to you, Priscilla, and I begin to
wish I had spared you this parting scene; yet let it not be banished
your remembrance, but think of it when you are tempted to such mad
folly as has ruined us."
Mrs Harrel wept too much to make any answer; and turning from her to
Cecilia, "Oh Madam," he cried, "to _you_, indeed, I dare not
speak! I have used you most unworthily, but I pay for it all! I ask
you not to pity or forgive me, I know it is impossible you should do
"No," cried the softened Cecilia, "it is not impossible, I do both at
this moment, and I hope--"
"Do not hope," interrupted he, "be not so angelic, for I cannot bear
it! benevolence like yours should have fallen into worthier hands. But
come, let us return to the company. My head grows giddy, but my heart
is still heavy; I must make them more fit companions for each other."
He would then have hurried them back; but Cecilia, endeavouring to
stop him, said "You do not mean, I hope, to call for more wine?"
"Why not?" cried he, with affected spirit, "what, shall we not be
merry before we part? Yes, we will all be merry, for if we are not,
how shall we part at all?--Oh not without a struggle!--" Then,
stopping, he paused a moment, and casting off the mask of levity, said
in accents the most solemn "I commit this packet to _you_,"
giving a sealed parcel to Cecilia; "had I written it later, its
contents had been kinder to my wife, for now the hour of separation
approaches, ill will and resentment subside. Poor Priscilla!--I am
sorry--but you will succour her, I am sure you will,--Oh had I known
you myself before this infatuation--bright pattern of all goodness!--
but I was devoted,--a ruined wretch before ever you entered my house;
unworthy to be saved, unworthy that virtues such as yours should dwell
under the same roof with me! But come,--come now, or my resolution
will waver, and I shall not go at last."
"But what is this packet?" cried Cecilia, "and why do you give it to
"No matter, no matter, you will know by and by;--the chaise waits, and
I must gather courage to be gone."
He then pressed forward, answering neither to remonstrance nor
intreaty from his frightened companions.
The moment they returned to the covered walk, they were met by Mr
Marriot; Mr Harrel, starting, endeavoured to pass him; but when he
approached, and said "you have sent, Sir, no answer to my letter!" he
stopt, and in a tone of forced politeness, said, "No, Sir, but I shall
answer it to-morrow, and to-night I hope you will do me the honour of
supping with me."
Mr Marriot, looking openly at Cecilia as his inducement, though
evidently regarding himself as an injured man, hesitated a moment, yet
accepted the invitation.
"To supper?" cried Mrs Harrel, "what here?"
"To supper?" repeated Cecilia, "and how are we to get home?"
"Think not of that these two hours," answered he; "come, let us look
for a box."
Cecilia then grew quite urgent with him to give up a scheme which must
keep them so late, and Mrs Harrel repeatedly exclaimed "Indeed people
will think it very odd to see us here without any party:" but he
heeded them not, and perceiving at some distance Mr Morrice, he called
out to him to find them a box; for the evening was very pleasant, and
the gardens were so much crowded that no accommodation was unseized.
"Sir," cried Morrice, with his usual readiness, "I'll get you one if I
turn out ten old Aldermen sucking custards."
Just after he was gone, a fat, sleek, vulgar-looking man, dressed in a
bright purple coat, with a deep red waistcoat, and a wig bulging far
from his head with small round curls, while his plump face and person
announced plenty and good living, and an air of defiance spoke the
fullness of his purse, strutted boldly up to Mr Harrel, and accosting
him in a manner that shewed some diffidence of his reception, but none
of his right, said "Sir your humble servant." And made a bow first to
him, and then to the ladies.
"Sir yours," replied Mr Harrel scornfully, and without touching his
hat he walked quickly on.
His fat acquaintance, who seemed but little disposed to be offended
with impunity, instantly replaced his hat on his head, and with a look
that implied _I'll fit you for this!_ put his hands to his sides,
and following him, said "Sir, I must make bold to beg the favour of
exchanging a few words with you."
"Ay, Sir," answered Mr Harrel, "come to me to-morrow, and you shall
exchange as many as you please."
"Nothing like the time present, Sir," answered the man; "as for
to-morrow, I believe it intends to come no more; for I have heard of it
any time these three years. I mean no reflections, Sir, but let every
man have his right. That's what I say, and that's my notion of things."
Mr Harrel, with a violent execration, asked what he meant by dunning
him at such a place as Vauxhall?
"One place, Sir," he replied, "is as good as another place; for so as
what one does is good, 'tis no matter for where it may be. A _man of
business_ never wants a counter if he can meet with a joint-stool.
For my part, I'm all for a clear conscience, and no bills without
receipts to them."
"And if you were all for broken bones," cried Mr Harrel, angrily, "I
would oblige you with them without delay."
"Sir," cried the man, equally provoked, "this is talking quite out of
character, for as to broken bones, there's ne'er a person in all
England, gentle nor simple, can say he's a right to break mine, for
I'm not a person of that sort, but a man of as good property as
another man; and there's ne'er a customer I have in the world that's
more his own man than myself."
"Lord bless me, Mr Hobson," cried Mrs Harrel, "don't follow us in this
manner! If we meet any of our acquaintance they'll think us half
"Ma'am," answered Mr Hobson, again taking off his hat, "if I'm treated
with proper respect, no man will behave more generous than myself; but
if I'm affronted, all I can say is, it may go harder with some folks
than they think for."
Here a little mean-looking man, very thin, and almost bent double with
perpetual cringing, came up to Mr Hobson, and pulling him by the
sleeve, whispered, yet loud enough to be heard, "It's surprizeable to
me, Mr Hobson, you can behave so out of the way! For my part, perhaps
I've as much my due as another person, but I dares to say I shall have
it when it's convenient, and I'd scorn for to mislest a gentleman when
he's taking his pleasure."
"Lord bless me," cried Mrs Harrel, "what shall we do now? here's all
Mr Harrel's creditors coming upon us!"
"Do?" cried Mr Harrel, re-assuming an air of gaiety, "why give them
all a supper, to be sure. Come, gentlemen, will you favour me with
your company to supper?"
"Sir," answered Mr Hobson, somewhat softened by this unexpected
invitation, "I've supped this hour and more, and had my glass too, for
I'm as willing to spend my money as another man; only what I say is
this, I don't chuse to be cheated, for that's losing one's substance,
and getting no credit; however, as to drinking another glass, or such
a matter as that, I'll do it with all the pleasure in life."
"And as to me," said the other man, whose name was Simkins, and whose
head almost touched the ground by the profoundness of his reverence,
"I can't upon no account think of taking the liberty; but if I may
just stand without, I'll make bold to go so far as just for to drink
my humble duty to the ladies in a cup of cyder."
"Are you mad, Mr Harrel, are you mad!" cried his wife, "to think of
asking such people as these to supper? what will every body say?
suppose any of our acquaintance should see us? I am sure I shall die
"Mad!" repeated he, "no, not mad but merry. O ho, Mr Morrice, why have
you been so long? what have you done for us?"
"Why Sir," answered Morrice, returning with a look somewhat less
elated than he had set out, "the gardens are so full, there is not a
box to be had: but I hope we shall get one for all that; for I
observed one of the best boxes in the garden, just to the right there,
with nobody in it but that gentleman who made me spill the tea-pot at
the Pantheon. So I made an apology, and told him the case; but he only
said _humph?_ and _hay?_ so then I told it all over again, but
he served me just the same, for he never seems to hear what one says
till one's just done, and then he begins to recollect one's speaking to
him; however, though I repeated it all over and over again, I could get
nothing from him but just that _humph?_ and _hay?_ but he is so
remarkably absent, that I dare say if we all go and sit down round him,
he won't know a word of the matter."
"Won't he?" cried Mr Harrel, "have at him, then!"
And he followed Mr Morrice, though Cecilia, who now half suspected
that all was to end in a mere idle frolic, warmly joined her
remonstrances to those of Mrs Harrel, which were made with the utmost,
but with fruitless earnestness.
Mr Meadows, who was seated in the middle of the box, was lolloping
upon the table with his customary ease, and picking his teeth with his
usual inattention to all about him. The intrusion, however, of so
large a party, seemed to threaten his insensibility with unavoidable
disturbance; though imagining they meant but to look in at the box,
and pass on, he made not at their first approach any alteration in his
attitude or employment.
"See, ladies," cried the officious Morrice, "I told you there was
room; and I am sure this gentleman will be very happy to make way for
you, if it's only out of good-nature to the waiters, as he is neither
eating nor drinking, nor doing any thing at all. So if you two ladies
will go in at that side, Mr Harrel and that other gentleman," pointing
to Mr Marriot, "may go to the other, and then I'll sit by the ladies
here, and those other two gentlemen--"
Here Mr Meadows, raising himself from his reclining posture, and
staring Morrice in the face, gravely said, "What's all this, Sir!"
Morrice, who expected to have arranged the whole party without a
question, and who understood so little of modish airs as to suspect
neither affectation nor trick in the absence of mind and indolence of
manners which he observed in Mr Meadows, was utterly amazed by this
interrogatory, and staring himself in return, said, "Sir, you seemed
so thoughtful--I did not think--I did not suppose you would have taken
any notice of just a person or two coming into the box."
"Did not you, Sir?" said Mr Meadows very coldly, "why then now you do,
perhaps you'll be so obliging as to let me have my own box to myself."
And then again he returned to his favourite position.
"Certainly, Sir," said Morrice, bowing; "I am sure I did not mean to
disturb you: for you seemed so lost in thought, that I'm sure I did
not much believe you would have seen us."
"Why Sir," said Mr Hobson, strutting forward, "if I may speak my
opinion, I should think, as you happen to be quite alone, a little
agreeable company would be no such bad thing. At least that's my
"And if I might take the liberty," said the smooth tongued Mr Simkins,
"for to put in a word, I should think the best way would be, if the
gentleman has no peticklar objection, for me just to stand somewhere
hereabouts, and so, when he's had what he's a mind to, be ready for to
pop in at one side, as he comes out at the t'other; for if one does
not look pretty 'cute such a full night as this, a box is whipt away
before one knows where one is."
"No, no, no," cried Mrs Harrel impatiently, "let us neither sup in
this box nor in any other; let us go away entirely."
"Indeed we must! indeed we ought!" cried Cecilia; "it is utterly
improper we should stay; pray let us be gone immediately."
Mr Harrel paid not the least regard to these requests; but Mr Meadows,
who could no longer seem unconscious of what passed, did himself so
much violence as to arise, and ask if the ladies would be seated.
"I said so!" cried Morrice triumphantly, "I was sure there was no
gentleman but would be happy to accommodate two such ladies!"
The ladies, however, far from happy in being so accommodated, again
tried their utmost influence in persuading Mr Harrel to give up this
scheme; but he would not hear them, he insisted upon their going into
the box, and, extending the privilege which Mr Meadows had given, he
invited without ceremony the whole party to follow.
Mr Meadows, though he seemed to think this a very extraordinary
encroachment, had already made such an effort from his general languor
in the repulse he had given to Morrice, that he could exert himself no
further; but after looking around him with mingled vacancy and
contempt, he again seated himself, and suffered Morrice to do the
honours without more opposition. Morrice, but too happy in the
office, placed Cecilia next to Mr Meadows, and would have made Mr
Marriot her other neighbour, but she insisted upon not being parted
from Mrs Harrel, and therefore, as he chose to sit also by that lady
himself, Mr Marriot was obliged to follow Mr Harrel to the other side
of the box: Mr Hobson, without further invitation, placed himself
comfortably in one of the corners, and Mr Simkins, who stood modestly
for some time in another, finding the further encouragement for which
be waited was not likely to arrive, dropt quietly into his seat
Supper was now ordered, and while it was preparing Mr Harrel sat
totally silent; but Mr Meadows thought proper to force himself to talk
with Cecilia, though she could well have dispensed with such an
exertion of his politeness.
"Do you like this place, ma'am?"
"Indeed I hardly know,--I never was here before."
"No wonder! the only surprise is that any body can come to it at all.
To see a set of people walking after nothing! strolling about without
view or object! 'tis strange! don't you think so, ma'am?"
"Yes,--I believe so," said Cecilia, scarce hearing him.
"O it gives me the vapours, the horrors," cried he, "to see what poor
creatures we all are! taking pleasure even from the privation of it!
forcing ourselves into exercise and toil, when we might at least have
the indulgence of sitting still and reposing!"
"Lord, Sir," cried Morrice, "don't you like walking?"
"Walking?" cried he, "I know nothing so humiliating: to see a rational
being in such mechanical motion! with no knowledge upon what
principles he proceeds, but plodding on, one foot before another,
without even any consciousness which is first, or how either--"
"Sir," interrupted Mr Hobson, "I hope you won't take it amiss if I
make bold to tell my opinion, for my way is this, let every man speak
his maxim! But what I say as to this matter, is this, if a man must
always be stopping to consider what foot he is standing upon, he had
need have little to do, being the right does as well as the left, and
the left as well as the right. And that, Sir, I think is a fair
Mr Meadows deigned no other answer to this speech than a look of
"I fancy, Sir," said Morrice, "you are fond of riding, for all your
good horsemen like nothing else."
"Riding!" exclaimed Mr Meadows, "Oh barbarous! Wrestling and boxing
are polite arts to it! trusting to the discretion of an animal less
intellectual than ourselves! a sudden spring may break all our limbs,
a stumble may fracture our sculls! And what is the inducement? to get
melted with heat, killed with fatigue, and covered with dust!
miserable infatuation!--Do you love riding, ma'am?"
"Yes, very well, Sir."
"I am glad to hear it," cried he, with a vacant smile; "you are quite
right; I am entirely of your opinion."
Mr Simkins now, with a look of much perplexity, yet rising and bowing,
said "I don't mean, Sir, to be so rude as to put in my oar, but if I
did not take you wrong, I'm sure just now I thought you seemed for to
make no great 'count of riding, and yet now, all of the sudden, one
would think you was a speaking up for it!"
"Why, Sir," cried Morrice, "if you neither like riding nor walking,
you can have no pleasure at all but only in sitting."
"Sitting!" repeated Mr Meadows, with a yawn, "O worse and worse! it
dispirits me to death! it robs me of all fire and life! it weakens
circulation, and destroys elasticity."
"Pray then, Sir," said Morrice, "do you like any better to stand?"
"To stand? O intolerable! the most unmeaning thing in the world! one
had better be made a mummy!"
"Why then, pray Sir," said Mr Hobson, "let me ask the favour of you to
tell us what it is you _do_ like?"
Mr Meadows, though he stared him full in the face, began picking his
teeth without making any answer.
"You see, Mr Hobson," said Mr Simkins, "the gentleman has no mind for
to tell you; but if I may take the liberty just to put in, I think if
he neither likes walking, nor riding, nor sitting, nor standing, I
take it he likes nothing."
"Well, Sir," said Morrice, "but here comes supper, and I hope you will
like that. Pray Sir, may I help you to a bit of this ham?"
Mr Meadows, not seeming to hear him, suddenly, and with an air of
extreme weariness, arose, and without speaking to anybody, abruptly
made his way out of the box.
Mr Harrel now, starting from the gloomy reverie into which he had
sunk, undertook to do the honours of the table, insisting with much
violence upon helping every body, calling for more provisions, and
struggling to appear in high spirits and good humour.
In a few minutes Captain Aresby, who was passing by the box, stopt to
make his compliments to Mrs Harrel and Cecilia.
"What a concourse!" he cried, casting up his eyes with an expression
of half-dying fatigue, "are you not _accablé_? for my part, I
hardly respire. I have really hardly ever had the honour of being so
"We can make very good room, Sir," said Morrice, "if you chuse to come
"Yes," said Mr Simkins, obsequiously standing up, I am sure the
gentleman will be very welcome to take my place, for I did not mean
for to sit down, only just to look agreeable."
"By no means, Sir," answered the Captain: "I shall be quite _au
desespoir_ if I derange any body."
"Sir," said Mr Hobson, "I don't offer you my place, because I take it
for granted if you had a mind to come in, you would not stand upon
ceremony; for what I say is, let every man speak his mind, and then we
shall all know how to conduct ourselves. That's my way, and let any
man tell me a better!"
The Captain, after looking at him with a surprise not wholly unmixt
with horror, turned from him without making any answer, and said to
Cecilia, "And how long, ma'am, have you tried this petrifying place?"
"An hour,--two hours, I believe," she answered.
"Really? and nobody here! _assez de monde_, but nobody here! a
"Sir," said Mr Simkins, getting out of the box that he might bow with
more facility, "I humbly crave pardon for the liberty, but if I
understood right, you said something of a blank? pray, Sir, if I may
be so free, has there been any thing of the nature of a lottery, or a
raffle, in the garden? or the like of that?"
"Sir!" said the Captain, regarding him from head to foot, "I am quite
_assommé_ that I cannot comprehend your allusion."
"Sir, I ask pardon," said the man, bowing still lower, "I only thought
if in case it should not be above half a crown, or such a matter as
that, I might perhaps stretch a point once in a way."
The Captain, more and more amazed, stared at him again, but not
thinking it necessary to take any further notice of him, he enquired
of Cecilia if she meant to stay late.
"I hope not," she replied, "I have already stayed later than I wished
"Really!" said he, with an unmeaning smile, "Well, that is as horrid a
thing as I have the _malheur_ to know. For my part, I make it a
principle not to stay long in these semi-barbarous places, for after a
certain time, they bore me to that degree I am quite _abimé_. I
shall, however, do _mon possible_ to have the honour of seeing
And then, with a smile of yet greater insipidity, he protested he was
_reduced to despair_ in leaving her, and walked on.
"Pray, ma'am, if I may be so bold," said Mr Hobson, "what countryman
may that gentleman be?"
"An Englishman, I suppose, Sir," said Cecilia.
"An Englishman, ma'am!" said Mr Hobson, "why I could not understand
one word in ten that came out of his mouth."
"Why indeed," said Mr Simkins, "he has a mighty peticklar way of
speaking, for I'm sure I thought I could have sworn he said something
of a blank, or to that amount, but I could make nothing of it when I
come to ask him about it."
"Let every man speak to be understood," cried Mr Hobson, "that's my
notion of things: for as to all those fine words that nobody can make
out, I hold them to be of no use. Suppose a man was to talk in that
manner when he's doing business, what would be the upshot? who'd
understand what he meant? Well, that's the proof; what i'n't fit for
business, i'n't of no value: that's my way of judging, and that's what
I go upon."
"He said some other things," rejoined Mr Simkins, "that I could not
make out very clear, only I had no mind to ask any more questions, for
fear of his answering me something I should not understand: but as
well as I could make it out, I thought I heard him say there was
nobody here! what he could mean by that, I can't pretend for to guess,
for I'm sure the garden is so stock full, that if there was to come
many more, I don't know where they could cram 'em."
"I took notice of it at the time," said Mr Hobson, "for it i'n't many
things are lost upon me; and, to tell you the truth, I thought he had
been making pretty free with his bottle, by his seeing no better."
"Bottle!" cried Mr Harrel, "a most excellent hint, Mr Hobson! come!
let us all make free with the bottle!"
He then called for more wine, and insisted that every body should
pledge him. Mr Marriot and Mr Morrice made not any objection, and Mr
Hobson and Mr Simkins consented with much delight.
Mr Harrel now grew extremely unruly, the wine he had already drunk
being thus powerfully aided; and his next project was to make his wife
and Cecilia follow his example. Cecilia, more incensed than ever to
see no preparation made for his departure, and all possible pains
taken to unfit him for setting out, refused him with equal firmness
and displeasure, and lamented, with the bitterest self-reproaches, the
consent which had been forced from her to be present at a scene of
such disorder: but Mrs Harrel would have opposed him in vain, had not
his attention been called off to another object. This was Sir Robert
Floyer, who perceiving the party at some distance, no sooner observed
Mr Marriot in such company, than advancing to the box with an air of
rage and defiance, he told Mr Harrel he had something to say to him.
"Ay," cried Harrel, "say to me? and so have I to say to you! Come
amongst us and be merry! Here, make room, make way! Sit close, my
Sir Robert, who now saw he was in no situation to be reasoned with,
stood for a moment silent; and then, looking round the box, and
observing Messrs Hobson and Simkins, he exclaimed aloud "Why what
queer party have you got into? who the d---l have you picked up here?"
Mr Hobson, who, to the importance of lately acquired wealth, now added
the courage of newly drunk Champagne, stoutly kept his ground, without
seeming at all conscious he was included in this interrogation; but Mr
Simkins, who had still his way to make in the world, and whose
habitual servility would have resisted a larger draught, was easily
intimidated; he again, therefore stood up, and with the most cringing
respect offered the Baronet his place: who, taking neither of the
offer nor offerer the smallest notice, still stood opposite to Mr
Harrel, waiting for some explanation.
Mr Harrel, however, who now grew really incapable of giving any, only
repeated his invitation that he would make one among them.
"One among you?" cried he, angrily, and pointing to Mr Hobson, "why
you don't fancy I'll sit down with a bricklayer?"
"A bricklayer?" said Mr Harrel, "ay, sure, and a hosier too; sit down,
Mr Simkins, keep your place, man!"
Mr Simkins most thankfully bowed; but Mr Hobson, who could no longer
avoid feeling the personality of this reflection, boldly answered,
"Sir, you may sit down with a worse man any day in the week! I have
done nothing I'm ashamed of, and no man can say to me why did you so?
I don't tell you, Sir, what I'm worth; no one has a right to ask; I
only say three times five is fifteen! that's all."
"Why what the d----l, you impudent fellow," cried the haughty Baronet,
"you don't presume to mutter, do you?"