Part 5 out of 11
"Is that it? What a kind sister have I! But I see it vexes you; and
_ill-natured_ folks love to teaze, you know. But, dear Polly,
don't let the affection Mr. Murray expresses for me, put such a
good-tempered body out of humour, pray don't--Who knows" (continued
the provoker, who never says a tolerable thing that is not
ill-natured) "but the gentleman may be happy that he has found a way,
with so much ease, to dispense with the difficulty that eldership laid
him under? But, as he did you the favour to let the repulse come from
you, don't be angry, sister, that he took you at the first word."
"Indeed," said I, with a contemptuous smile, "thou'rt in the right,
Nancy, to take the gentleman at _his_ first word. Hold him fast, and
play over all thy monkey tricks with him, with all my heart; who knows
but it may engage him more? For, should _he_ leave thee, I might be
too much provoked at thy ingratitude, _to turn over_ another gentleman
to thee. And let me tell thee, without such an introduction, thy
temper would keep any body from thee, that knows it!"
"Poor Miss Polly--Come, be as easy as you can! Who knows but we may
find out some cousin or friend of Mr. Murray's between us, that we may
persuade to address you? Don't make us your enemies: we'll try to make
you easy, if we can. 'Tis a little hard, that you should be so cruelly
taken at your word, that it is."--"Dost think," said I, "poor, stupid,
ill-judging Nancy, that I can have the same regret for parting with
a man I could not like, that thou hadst, when thy vain hopes met with
the repulse they deserved from Mr. B.?"--"Mr. B. come up again? I have
not heard of him a great while."--"No, but it was necessary that one
nail should drive out another; for thou'dst been repining still, had
not Mr. Murray been _turned over_ to thee."--"_Turned over!_ You used
that word once before: such great wits as you, methinks, should not
use the same word twice."
"How dost thou know what wits _should_ or should _not_ do? Thou hast
no talent but ill-nature; and 'tis enough for thee, that _one_ view
takes up thy whole thought. Pursue that--But I would only caution
thee, not to _satiate_ where thou wouldst _oblige_, that's all; or,
if thy man can be so gross as to like thy fondness, to leave something
"I'll call him in again, sister, and you shall acquaint us how you'd
have it. Bell" (for the maid came in just then), "tell Mr. Murray I
desire him to walk in."--"I'm glad to see thee so teachable all at
once!--I find now what was the cause of thy constant perverseness: for
had the unavailing lessons my mamma was always inculcating into thee,
come from a _man_ thou couldst have had hopes of, they had succeeded
In came Sir Simon with his crutch-stick--But can you bear this
nonsense, Mrs. B.?--"What sparring, jangling again, you sluts!--O what
fiery eyes on one side! and contemptuous looks on t'other!"
"Why, papa, my sister Polly has _turned over_ Mr. Murray to me, and
she wants him back again, and he won't come--That's all the matter!"
"You know Nancy, papa, never could _bear_ reproof, and yet would
always _deserve_ it!--I was only gently remarking for her instruction,
on her fondness before company, and she is as she _used to
be!_--Courtship, indeed, is a new thing to the poor girl, and so she
knows not how to behave herself in it."
"So, Polly, because you have been able to run over a long list of
humble servants, you must insult your sister, must you?--But are you
really concerned, Polly?--Hey!"--"Sir, this or anything is very well
from you. But these imputations of envy, before Mr. Murray, must make
the man very considerable with himself. Poor Nancy don't consider
that. But, indeed, how should she? How should _she_ be able to
reflect, who knows not what reflection is, except of the spiteful
sort? But, papa, should the poor thing add to _his_ vanity, which
wants no addition, at the expense of that pride, which can only
preserve her from contempt?"
I saw her affected, and was resolved to pursue my advantage.
"Pr'ythee, Nancy," continued I, "canst thou not have a _little_
patience, child--My papa will set the day as soon as he shall think it
proper. And don't let thy man toil to keep pace with thy fondness; for
I have pitied him many a time, when I have seen him stretched on the
tenters to keep thee in countenance."
This set the ill-natured girl in tears and fretfulness; all her old
temper came upon her, as I designed it should, for she had kept me at
bay longer than usual; and I left her under the dominion of it, and
because I would not come into fresh dispute, got my mamma's leave, and
went in the chariot, to beg a dinner at Lady Jones's; and then came
home as cool and as easy as I used to be; and found Nancy as sullen
and silent, as was her custom, before Mr. Murray tendered himself to
her ready acceptance. But I went to my spinnet, and suffered her to
We have said nothing but No and Yes ever since; and I wish I was with
you for a month, and all their nonsense over without me. I am,
my dear, obliging, and excellent Mrs. B., _your faithful and
The two following anticipating the order of time, for the reasons
formerly mentioned, we insert here.
* * * * *
_From Miss Darnford to Mrs. B._
MY DEAR MRS. B.,
Pray give my service to your Mr. B. and tell him he is very impolite
in his reflections upon me, as to Mr. Murray, when he supposes I
regret the loss of him. You are much more favourable and _just_ too,
I will say, to your Polly Damford. These gentlemen, the very best
of them, are such indelicates! They think so highly of their saucy
selves, and confident sex, as if a lady cannot from _her_ heart
despise them; but if she turns them off, as they deserve, and
continues her dislike, what should be interpreted in her favour, as a
just and _regular_ conduct, is turned against her, and it must proceed
from spite. Mr. B. may think he knows much of the sex. But were I as
malicious as he is reflecting (and yet, if I have any malice, he has
raised it), I could say, that his acquaintance, was not with the most
unexceptionable, till he knew you: and he has not long enough been
happy in you, I find, to do justice to those who are proud to emulate
I say, Mrs. B., there can be no living with these men upon such
beginnings. They ought to know their distance, or be taught it, and
not to think it in their power to confer that as a favour, which they
should esteem it an honour to receive.
But neither can I bear, it seems, the preparatives to matrimony, the
fine clothes, the compliments, the _busy novelty_, as he calls it, the
new equipages, and so forth.
That's his mistake again, tell him: for one who can look forwarder
than the nine days of wonder, can easily despise so flashy and so
transient a glare. And were I fond of compliments, it would not,
perhaps, be the way to be pleased, in that respect, if I were to
Compliments in the single state are a lady's due, whether courted or
not; and she receives, or ought always to receive them, as such; but
in courtship they are poured out upon one, like a hasty shower, soon
to be over. A mighty comfortable consideration this, to a lady who
_loves to be complimented_! Instead of the refreshing April-like
showers, which beautify the sun-shine, she shall stand a deluge of
complaisance, be wet to the skin with it; and what then? Why be in a
Lybian desert ever after!--experience a constant parching drought and
all her attributed excellencies will be swallowed up in the quicksands
of matrimony. It may be otherwise with you; and it _must_ be so;
because there is such an infinite variety in your excellence. But does
Mr. B. think it must be so in _every_ matrimony?
'Tis true, he improves every hour, as I see in his fine speeches to
you. But it could not be Mr. B. if he did not: your merit _extorts_
it from him: and what an ungrateful, as well as absurd churl, would
he be, who should seek to obscure a meridian lustre, that dazzles the
eyes of every one else?
I thank you for your delightful narratives, and beg you to continue
them. I told you how your Saturday's conversation with Lady Davers,
and your Sunday employments, charm us all: so regular, and so easy to
be performed--That's the delightful thing--What every body may do;-and
yet so beautiful, so laudable, so uncommon in the practice, especially
among people in genteel life!--Your conversation and decision in
relation to the two parsons (more than charm) transport us. Mr. B.
judges right, and acts a charming part, to throw such a fine game into
your hands. And so excellently do you play it, that you do as much
credit to your partner's judgment as to your own. Never was so happy a
Mr. Williams is more my favourite than ever; and the amply rewarded
Mr. Adams, how did that scene affect us! Again and again, I say (for
what can I say else or more--since I can't find words to speak all I
think?), you're a charming lady! Yet, methinks, poor Mr. H. makes but
a sorry figure among you. We are delighted with Lady Davers; but still
more, if possible, with the countess: she is a fine lady, as you have
drawn her: but your characters, though truth and nature, are the most
shocking, or the most amiable, that I ever read.
We are full of impatience to hear of the arrival of Sir Jacob
Swynford. We know his character pretty well: but when he has sat for
it to your pencil, it must be an original indeed. I will have another
trial with my papa, to move him to let me attend you. I am rallying
my forces, and have got my mamma on my side again; who is concerned
to see her girl vexed and insulted by her younger sister; and who yet
minds no more what _she_ says to her, than what I say; and Sir Simon
loves to make mischief between us, instead of interposing to silence
either: and truly, I am afraid his delight of this kind will make him
deny his Polly what she so ardently wishes for. I had a good mind to
be sick, to be with you. I could fast two or three days, to give it
the better appearance; but then my mamma, who loves not deceit, would
blame me, if she knew my stratagem; and be grieved, if she thought I
was really ill. I know, fasting, when one has a stomach to eat, gives
one a very gloomy and mortified air. What would I not do, in short,
to procure to myself the inexpressible pleasure that I should have in
your company and conversation? But continue to write to me till then,
however, and that will be _next best_. I am _your most obliged and
obedient_ POLLY DARNFORD.
From the same.
My Dearest Mrs. B.,
I am all over joy and rapture. My good papa permits me to say, that
he will put his Polly under your protection, when you go to London. If
you have but a _tenth part_ of the pleasure I have on this occasion, I
am sure, I shall be as welcome as I wish. But he will insist upon it,
he says, that Mr. B. signs some acknowledgment, which I am to carry
along with _me_, that I am intrusted to his honour and yours,
and to be returned to him _heart-whole_ and _dutiful_, and with
a reputation as unsullied as he receives me. But do continue your
journals till then; for I have promised to take them up where you
leave off, to divert our friends here. There will be presumption!
But yet I will write nothing but what I will shew you, and have your
consent to send! For I was taught early not to tell tales out of
school; and a school, the best I ever went to, will be your charming
We were greatly diverted with the trick put upon that _barbarian_
Sir Jacob. His obstinacy, repentance, and amendment, followed
so irresistibly in one half hour, from the happy thought of the
excellent lady countess, that I think no plot was ever more fortunate.
It was like springing a lucky mine in a siege, that blew up twenty
times more than was expected from it, and answered all the besiegers'
ends at once.
Mr. B.'s defence of his own conduct towards you is quite noble; and
he judges with his usual generosity and good sense, when, by adding to
your honour, he knows he enhances his own.
You bid me skim over your writings lightly; but 'tis impossible. I
will not flatter you, my dear Mrs. B., nor will I be suspected to
do so; and yet I cannot find words to praise, so much as I think you
deserve: so I will only say that your good parents, for whose pleasure
you write, as well as for mine, cannot receive or read them with more
delight than I do. Even my sister Nancy (judge of their effect by
this!) will at any time leave Murray, and forget to frown or be
ill-natured, while she can hear read what you write. And, angry as
she makes me some times, I cannot deny her this pleasure, because
possibly, among the innumerable improving reflections they abound
with, some one may possibly dart in upon her, and illuminate her, as
your conversation and behaviour did Sir Jacob.
But your application in P.S. to my papa pleased him; and confirmed his
resolution to let me go. He snatched the sheet that contained this,
"That's to me," said he: "I must read this myself." He did, and said,
"She's a sweet one: '_Do dear good Sir Simon_,'" repeated he aloud,
"'_let Miss Polly add to our delights!_' So she shall, then;--if that
will do it!--And yet this same Mrs. B. has so many delights already,
that I should think she might be contented. But, Dame Darnford, I
think I'll let her go. These sisters then, you'll see, how they'll
love at a distance, though always quarrelling when together." He
read on, "'_The new affair will divert you--Lady Darnford has
consented--Miss is willing; and her sister can spare her;'_--Very
prettily put, faith--'_And don't you be cross_'--Very sweet '_to
deny me_.'--Why, dear Mrs. B., I won't be so cross then; indeed I
won't!--And so, Polly, let 'em send word when they set out for London,
and you shall join 'em there with all my heart; but I'll have a letter
every post, remember that, girl."
"Any thing, any thing, dear papa," said I: "so I can but go!" He
called for a kiss, for his compliance. I gave it most willingly, you
Nancy looked envious, although Mr. Murray came in just then. She
looked almost like a great glutton, whom I remember; one Sir Jonathan
Smith, who killed himself with eating: he used, while he was heaping
up his plate from one dish, to watch the others, and follow the knife
of every body else with such a greedy eye, as if he could swear a
robbery against any one who presumed to eat as well as he.
Well, let's know when you set out, and you shan't have been a week in
London, if I can help it, but you shall be told by my tongue, as now
by my pen, how much I am _your obliged admirer and friend_, POLLY
MY DEAR FRIEND,
I now proceed with my journal, which I had brought down to Thursday
The two ladies resolving, as they said, to inspect all my proceedings,
insisted upon it, that I would take them with me in my _benevolent
round_ (as they, after we returned, would call it), which I generally
take once a week, among my poor and sick neighbours; and finding I
could not get off, I set out with them, my lady countess proposing
Mrs. Worden to fill up the fourth place in the coach. We talked all
the way of charity, and the excellence of that duty; and my Lady
Davers took notice of the text, that it would hide a _multitude of
The countess said she had once a much better opinion of herself,
than she found she had reason for, within these _few_ days past: "And
indeed, Mrs. B.," said she, "when I get home, I shall make a good many
people the better for your example." And so said Lady Davers; which
gave me no small inward pleasure; and I acknowledged, in suitable
terms, the honour they both did me. The coach set us down by the side
of a large common, about five miles distant from our house; and we
alighted, and walked a little way, choosing not to have the coach come
nearer, that we might be taken as little notice of as possible; and
they entered with me into two mean cots with great condescension and
goodness; one belonging to a poor widow and five children, who had
been all down in agues and fevers; the other to a man and his wife
bed-rid with age and infirmities, and two honest daughters, one a
widow with two children, the other married to an husbandman, who had
also been ill, but now, by comfortable cordials, and good physic, were
pretty well to what they had been.
The two ladies were well pleased with my demeanour to the good folks:
to whom I said, that as I should go so soon to London, I was willing
to see them before I went, to wish them better and better, and to tell
them, that I should leave orders with Mrs. Jervis concerning them, to
whom they must make known their wants: and that Mr. Barrow would take
care of them, I was sure; and do all that was in the power of physic
for the restoration of their healths.
Now you must know, Miss, that I am not so good as the old ladies of
former days, who used to distil cordial waters, and prepare medicines,
and dispense them themselves. I knew, if I were so inclined, my dear
Mr. B. would not have been pleased with it, because in the approbation
he has kindly given to my present method, he has twice or thrice
praised me, that I don't carry my charity to extremes, and make his
house a dispensatory. I would not, therefore, by aiming at doing too
much, lose the opportunity of doing any good at all in these respects;
and besides, as the vulgar saying is, One must creep before one goes.
But this is my method:
I am upon an agreement with this Mr. Barrow, who is deemed a very
skilful and honest apothecary, and one Mr. Simmonds, a surgeon of
like character, to attend to all such cases and persons as I shall
recommend; Mr. Barrow, to administer physic and cordials, as he shall
judge proper, and even, in necessary cases, to call in a physician.
And now and then, by looking in upon them one's self, or sending a
servant to ask questions, all is kept right.
My Lady Davers observed a Bible, a Common Prayer-book, and a Whole
Duty of Man, in each cot, in leathern outside cases, to keep them
clean, and a Church Catechism or two for the children; and was pleased
to say, it was right; and her ladyship asked one of the children,
a pretty girl, who learnt her her catechism? And she curtsey'd and
looked at me; for I do ask the children questions, when I come, to
know how they improve; "'Tis as I thought," said my lady; "my sister
provides for both parts. God bless you, my dear!" said she, and tapped
My ladies left tokens of their bounty behind them to both families,
and all the good folks blessed and prayed for us at parting: and as
we went out, my Lady Davers, with a serious air, was pleased to say to
me, "Take care of your health, my dear sister; and God give you, when
it comes, a happy hour: for how many real mourners would you have, if
you were to be called early to reap the fruits of your piety!"
"God's will must be done, my lady," said I. "The same Providence that
has so wonderfully put it in my power to do a little good, will raise
up new friends to the honest hearts that rely upon him."
This I said, because some of the good people heard my lady, and seemed
troubled, and began to redouble their prayers, for my safety and
We walked thence to our coach, and stretched a little farther, to
visit two farmers' families, about a mile distant from each other.
One had the mother of the family, with two sons, just recovering, the
former from a fever, the latter from tertian agues; and I asked, when
they saw Mr. Barrow? They told me, with great commendations of him,
that he had but just left them. So, having congratulated their hopeful
way, and wished them to take care of themselves, and not go too early
to business, I said I should desire Mr. Barrow to watch over them, for
fear of a relapse, and should hardly see 'em again for some time; and
so I slid, in a manner not to be observed, a couple of guineas into
the good woman's hand; for I had a hint given me by Mrs. Jervis, that
their illness had made it low with them.
We proceeded then to the other farm, where the case was a married
daughter, who had a very dangerous lying-in, and a wicked husband who
had abused her, and run away from her; but she was mending apace, by
good comfortable things, which from time to time I had caused to be
sent her. Her old father had been a little unkind to her, before I
took notice of her; for she married against his consent; and indeed
the world went hard with the poor man, and he could not do much; and
besides, he had a younger daughter, who had lost all her limbs, and
was forced to be tied in a wicker chair, to keep her up in it; which
(having expended much to relieve her) was a great _pull-back_, as the
good old woman called it. And having been a year in arrear to a harsh
landlord, who, finding a good stock upon the ground, threatened to
distress the poor family, and turn them out of all, I advanced the
money upon the stock; and the poor man has already paid me half of it
(for, Miss, I must keep within compass too), which was fifty pounds at
first, and is in a fair way to pay me the other half, and make as much
more for himself.
Here I found Mr. Barrow, and he gave me an account of the success
of two other cases I had recommended to him; and told me, that John
Smith, a poor man, who, in thatching a barn, had tumbled down, and
broken his leg, and bruised himself all over, was in a fair way of
recovery. This poor creature had like to have perished by the cruelty
of the parish officers, who would have passed him away to Essex,
where his settlement was, though in a burning fever, occasioned by his
misfortune; but hearing of the case, I directed Mr. Simmonds to attend
him, and to provide for him at my expense, and gave my word, if he
died, to bury him.
I was glad to hear he was in so good a way, and told Mr. Barrow, I
hoped to see him and Mr. Simmonds together at Mr. B.'s, before I
set out for London, that we might advise about the cases under their
direction, and that I might acquit myself of some of my obligations to
"You are a good man, Mr. Barrow," added I: "God will bless you for
your care and kindness to these poor destitute creatures. They all
praise you, and do nothing but talk of your humanity to them."
"O my good lady," said he, "who can forbear following such an example
as you set? Mr. Simmonds can testify as well as I (for now and then
a case requires us to visit together) that we can hardly hear any
complaints from our poor patients, let 'em be ever so ill, for the
praises and blessings they bestow upon you."
"It is good Mr. B. that enables and encourages me to do what I do.
Tell them, they must bless God, and bless him, and pray for me, and
thank you and Mr. Simmonds: we all join together, you know, for their
The countess and Lady Davers asked the poor lying-in woman many
questions, and left with her, and for her poor sister, a miserable
object indeed!--(God be praised that I am not such an one!) marks of
their bounty in gold, and looking upon one another, and then upon me,
and lifting up their hands, could not say a word till we were in the
coach: and so we were carried home, after we had just looked in upon
a country school, where I pay for the learning of eight children. And
here (I hope I recite not this with pride, though I do with pleasure)
is a cursory account of my _benevolent weekly round_, as my ladies
will call it. I know you will not be displeased with it; but it will
highly delight my worthy parents, who, in their way, do a great deal
of discreet good in their neighbourhood: for indeed, Miss, a little
matter, _prudently_ bestowed, and on true objects of compassion (whose
cases are soon at a crisis, as are those of most labouring people),
will go a great way, and especially if laid out properly for 'em,
according to the exigencies of their respective cases.--For such
poor people, who live generally low, want very seldom any thing
but reviving cordials at first, and good wholesome kitchen physic
afterwards: and then the wheels of nature, being unclogged, new oiled,
as it were, and set right, they will go round again with pleasantness
and ease for a good while together, by virtue of that exercise which
their labour gives them; while the rich and voluptuous are forced to
undergo great fatigues to keep theirs clean and in order.
It is hardly right to trouble either of you, my honoured
correspondents, with an affair that has vexed me a good deal; and,
indeed, _should_ affect me more than any other mistress of a family,
for reasons which will be obvious to you, when I tell you the case.
And this I cannot forbear doing.
A pretty genteel young body, my Polly Barlow, as I call her, having
been well recommended, and behaved with great prudence till this time,
is the cause.
My dear Mr. B. and the two ladies, agreed with me to take a little
airing in the coach, and to call in upon Mr. Martin, who had a present
made him for his menagerie, in which he takes a great delight, of a
rare and uncommon creature, a native of the East Indies. But just
as Sir Jacob was on horseback to accompany them, and the ladies were
ready to go, I was taken with a sudden disorder and faintishness; so
that Lady Davers, who is very tender of me, and watches every change
of my countenance, would not let me go with them, though my disorder
was going off: and my dear Mr. B. was pleased to excuse me; and just
meeting with Mr. Williams, as they went to the coach, they took him
with them, to fill up the vacant place. So I retired to my closet, and
shut myself in.
They had asked Mr. H. to go with them, for company to Sir Jacob; but
he (on purpose, as I believe by what followed) could not be found,
when they set out: so they supposed he was upon some ramble with Mr.
Colbrand, his great favourite.
I was writing to you, being pretty well recovered, when I heard Polly,
as I supposed, and as it proved, come into my apartment: and down she
sat, and sung a little catch, and cried, "Hem!" twice; and presently
I heard two voices. But suspecting nothing, I wrote on, till I heard
a kind of rustling and struggling, and Polly's voice crying, "Fie--How
can you do so!--Pray, Sir."
This alarmed me much, because we have such orderly folks about us; and
I looked through the key-hole; and, to my surprise and concern, saw
Mr. H.--foolish gentleman!--taking liberties with Polly, that neither
became him to offer, nor, more foolish girl! her to suffer. And
having reason to think, that this was not their first interview, and
freedom--and the girl sometimes encouragingly laughing, as at other
times, inconsistently, struggling and complaining, in an accent that
was too tender for the occasion, I forced a faint cough. This frighted
them both: Mr. H. swore, and said, "Who can that be?--Your lady's gone
with them, isn't she?"
"I believe so!--I hope so!" said the silly girl--"yet that was like
her voice!--Me'm, are you in your closet, Me'm?" said she, coming
up to the door; Mr. H. standing like a poor thief, half behind the
window-curtains, till he knew whether it was I.
I opened the door: away sneaked Mr. H., and she leaped with surprise,
not hoping to find me there, though she asked the question.
"I thought--Indeed--Me'm--I thought you were gone out,"--"It is plain
you did, Polly.--Go and shut the chamber door, and come to me again."
She did, but trembled, and was so full of confusion, that I pitied the
poor creature, and hardly knew how to speak to her. For my compassion
got the upper hand of my resentment; and as she stood quaking and
trembling, and looking on the ground with a countenance I cannot
describe, I now and then cast my eye upon her, and was as often forced
to put my handkerchief to it.
At last I said, "How long have these freedoms past between you and Mr.
H.?--I am loth to be censorious, Polly; but it is too plain, that Mr.
H. would not have followed you into my chamber, if he had not met you
at other places."--The poor girl said never a word.--"Little did I
expect, Polly, that you would have shewn so much imprudence. You have
had instances of the vile arts of men against poor maidens: have
you any notion that Mr. H. intends to do honourably by you?"
--"Me'm--Me'm--I believe--I hope--I dare say, Mr. H. would not do
otherwise."--"So much the worse that you believe so, if you have not
very good reason for your belief. Does he pretend that he will marry
you?"--She was silent.--"Tell me, Polly, if he does?"--"He says
he will do honourably by me."--"But you know there is but one word
necessary to explain that other precious word _honour_, in this case.
It is _matrimony_. That word is as soon spoken as any other, and if
he _means_ it, he will not be shy to _speak_ it."--She was silent.--
"Tell me, Polly (for I am really greatly concerned for you), what
you think _yourself_; do you _hope_ he will marry you?"--She was
silent.--"Do, good Polly (I hope I may call you _good_ yet!),
answer me."--"Pray, Madam!" and she wept, and turned from me, to the
wainscot--"Pray, excuse me."--"But, indeed, Polly, I cannot _excuse_
you. You are under my protection. I was once in as dangerous a
situation as you can be in. And I did not escape it, child, by the
language and conduct I heard from you."--"Language and conduct,
Me'm!"--"Yes, Polly, language and conduct. Do you think, if I had set
me down in my lady's bed-chamber, sung a song, and hemm'd twice, and
Mr. B. coming to me, upon that signal (for such I doubt it was), I had
kept my place, and suffered myself to be rumpled, and only, in a soft
voice, and with an encouraging laugh, cried--'How can you do so?' that
I should have been what I am?"--"Me'm, I dare say, my lord" (so all
the servants call him, and his aunt often, when she puts Jackey
to it), "means no hurt."--"No hurt, Polly! What, and make you cry
'_Fie!_'-or do you intend to trust your honour to his mercy, rather
than to your own discretion?"--"I hope not, Me'm!"--"I hope not too,
Polly!--But you know he was free enough with you, to make you say
'_Fie!_' And what might have been the case, who knows? had I not
coughed on purpose: unwilling, for your sake, Polly, to find matters
so bad as I feared, and that you would have been led beyond what was
"Reputable, Me'm!"--"Yes, Polly: I am sorry you oblige me to speak so
plain. But your good requires it. Instead of flying from him, you not
only laughed when you cried out, '_Fie!_' and '_How can you do so?_'
but had no other care than to see if any body heard you; and you
observe how he slid away, like a guilty creature, on my opening the
door--Do these things look well, Polly? Do you think they do?--And if
you hope to emulate my good fortune, do you think _this_ is the way?"
"I wish, Me'm, I had never seen Mr. H. For nobody will look upon me,
if I lose your favour!"
"It will still, Polly" (and I took her hand, with a kind look), "be in
your power to keep it: I will not mention this matter, if you make me
your friend, and tell me all that has passed."--Again she wept, and
was silent.--This made me more uneasy.--"Don't think, Polly," said I,
"that I would envy any other person's preferment, when I have been
so much exalted myself. If Mr. H. has talked to you of marriage, tell
me."--"No, Me'm, I can't say he has _yet_."--"Yet, Polly! Then he
_never_. will. For when men do talk of it, they don't always _mean_
it: but whenever they _mean_ it, how can they confirm a doubting
maiden, without _mentioning_ it: but alas for you, poor Polly!--The
freedoms you have permitted, no doubt, previous to those I heard, and
which might have been greater, had I not surprised you with my cough,
shew too well, that he _need_ not make any promises to you."--"Indeed,
Me'm," said she, sobbing, "I might be too little upon my guard; but I
would not have done any ill for the world."
"I hope you would not, Polly; but if you suffer these freedoms, you
can't tell what you'd have permitted--Tell me, do you love Mr. H.?"
"He is very good-humoured, Madam, and is not proud."--"No, 'tis not
his business to be proud, when he hopes to humble you--humble you,
indeed!--beneath the lowest person of the sex, that is honest."--"I
hope----"--"You _hope!_" interrupted I. "You _hope_ too much; and
I _fear a great deal_ for you, because you fear so _little_ for
yourself.--But say, how often have you been in private together?"
"In private, Me'm! I don't know what your ladyship calls
_private!_"--"Why that is _private_, Polly, when, as just now, you
neither imagined nor intended any body should see you."
She was silent; and I saw by this, poor girl, how true lovers are to
their secret, though, perhaps, their ruin depends upon keeping it.
But it behoved me, on many accounts, to examine this matter narrowly;
because if Mr. H. should marry her, it would have been laid upon Mr.
B.'s example.--And if Polly were ruined, it would be a sad thing, and
people would have said, "Aye, she could take care enough of herself,
but none at all of her servant: _her_ waiting-maid had a much more
remiss mistress than Pamela found, or the matter would not have been
"Well, Polly, I see," continued I, "that you will not speak out to me.
You may have _several_ reasons for it, possibly, though not _one_ good
one. But as soon as Lady Davers comes in, who has a great concern in
this matter, as well as Lord Davers, and are answerable to Lord H.
in a matter of so much importance as this, I will leave it to her
ladyship's consideration, and shall no more concern myself to ask you
questions about it--For then I must take her ladyship's directions,
and part with you, to be sure."
The poor girl, frighted at this (for every body fears Lady Davers),
wrung her hands, and begged, for God's sake, I would not acquaint Lady
Davers with it.
"But how can I help it?--Must I not connive at your proceedings, if
I do not? You are no fool, Polly, in other cases. Tell me, how it is
possible for me, in my situation, to avoid it?"
"I will tell your ladyship the whole truth; indeed I will--if you
will not tell Lady Davers. I am ready to sink at the thoughts of Lady
Davers knowing any thing of this."
This looked sadly. I pitied her, but yet was angry in my mind; for I
saw, too plainly, that her conduct could not bear a scrutiny, not even
in _her own _opinion, poor creature.
I said, "Make me acquainted with the whole."--"Will your ladyship
promise--"--"I'll promise nothing, Polly. When I have heard all you
think proper to say, I will do what befits me to do; but with as much
tenderness as I can for you--and that's all you ought to expect me
to promise."--"Why then, Madam--But how can I speak it?--I can speak
sooner to any body, than to Lady Davers and you, Madam: for her
ladyship's passion, and your ladyship's virtue--How shall I?"--And
then she threw herself at my feet, and hid her face with her apron.
I was in agonies for her, almost; I wept over her, and raised her up,
and said, "Tell me all. You cannot tell me worse than I apprehend, nor
I hope so bad! O Polly, tell me soon.--For you give me great pain."
And my back, with grief and compassion for the poor girl, was ready
to open, as it seemed to me.--In my former distresses, I have been
overcome by fainting next to death, and was deprived of sense for some
moments--But else, I imagine, I must have felt some such affecting
sensation, as the unhappy girl's case gave me.
"Then, Madam, I own," said she, "I have been too faulty."--"As
how?--As what?--In what way?--How faulty?"--asked I, as quick as
thought: "you are not ruined, are you?--Tell me, Polly!"--"No,
Madam, but--"--"But what?--Say, but what?"--"I had consented--"--"To
what?"--"To his proposals, Madam."--"What proposals?"--"Why, Madam, I
was to live with Mr. H."
"I understand you too well--But is it too late to break so wretched a
bargain;--have you already made a sacrifice of your honour?"
"No, Madam: but I have given it under my hand."
"Under your _hand!_--Ah! Polly, it is well if you have not given
it under your _heart_ too. But what foolishness is this!--What
consideration has he made you?"--"He has given it under his hand, that
he will always love me; and when his lordship's father dies, he will
"What foolishness is this on both sides!--But are you willing to be
released from this bargain?"
"Indeed I am. Madam, and I told him so yesterday. But he says he will
sue me, and ruin me, if I don't stand to it."
"You are ruined if you do!--And I wish--But tell me, Polly, are you
not ruined as it is?"
"Indeed I am not, Madam."
"I doubt, then, you were upon the brink of it, had not this
providential indisposition kept me at home.--You met, I suppose, to
conclude your shocking bargain.--O poor unhappy girl!--But let me see
what he has given under his hand!"
"He has 'em both, Madam, to be drawn up fair, and in a strong hand,
that shall be like a record."
Could I have thought, Miss, that a girl of nineteen could be so
ignorant in a point so important, when in every thing else she has
shewn no instances like this stupid folly?
"Has he given you money?"
"Yes, Madam, he gave me--he gave me--a note. Here it is. He says any
body will give me money for it." And this was a bank note of fifty
pounds, which she pulled out of her stays.
The result was, he was to settle one hundred pounds a year upon her
and hers, poor, poor girl--and was to _own_ her, as he calls it (but
as wife or mistress, she stipulated not), when his father died, and he
came into the title and estate.
I told her, it was impossible for me to conceal the matter from Lady
Davers, if she would not, by her promises to be governed entirely by
me, and to abandon all thoughts of Mr. H., give me room to conclude,
that the wicked bargain was at an end.
And to keep the poor creature in some spirits, and to enable her to
look up, and to be more easy under my direction, I blamed _him_ more
than I did _her_: though, considering what virtue requires of a
woman, and custom has made shameless in a man, I think the poor girl
inexcusable, and shall not be easy while she is about me. For she is
more to blame, because, of the two, she has more wit than the man.
"But what can I do?" thought I. "If I put her away, 'twill be to throw
her directly into his hands. He won't stay here long: and she _may_
see her folly. But yet her eyes were open; she knew what she had to
trust to--and by their wicked beginning, and her encouraging repulses,
I doubt she would have been utterly ruined that very day."
I knew the rage Lady Davers would be in with both. So this was another
embarrassment. Yet should my good intentions fail, and they conclude
their vile bargain, and it appeared that I knew of it, but would not
acquaint her, then should I have been more blamed than any mistress of
a family, circumstanced as I am. Upon the whole, I resolved to comfort
the girl as well as I could, till I had gained her confidence, that my
advice might have the more weight, and, by degrees, be more likely to
reclaim her: for, poor soul! there would be an end of her reputation,
the most precious of all jewels, the moment the matter was known; and
that would be a sad thing.
As for the man, I thought it best to take courage (and you, that know
me, will say, I must have a good deal more than usual) to talk to
Mr. H. on this subject. And she consenting I should, and, with great
protestations, declaring her sorrow and repentance, begging to get her
note of hand again, and to give him back his note of fifty pounds, I
went down to find him.
He shunned me, as a thief would a constable at the head of a
hue-and-cry. As I entered one room, he went into another, looking with
conscious guilt, yet confidently humming a tune. At last I fixed him,
bidding Rachel tell Polly be wanted to send a message by her to her
lady. By which I doubted not he was desirous to know what she had
owned, in order to govern himself accordingly.
His back was towards me; and I said--
"Mr. H., here I am myself, to take your commands."
He gave a caper half a yard high--"Madam, I wanted--I wanted to speak
to--I would have spoken with--"
"You wanted to send Polly to me, perhaps, Mr. H., to ask if I would
take a little walk with you in the garden."
"Very true, Madam!--Very true indeed!--You have guessed the matter. I
thought it was pity, this fine day, as every body was taking airing--"
"Well then. Sir, please to lead the way, and I'll attend you."
"Yet I fancy, Madam, the wind is a little too high for you.--Won't
you catch cold?"--"No, never fear, Mr. H., I am not afraid of a little
"I will attend you presently, Madam: you'll be in the great gravel
walk, or on the terrace.--I'll wait upon you in an instant."
I had the courage to take hold of his arm, as if I had like to have
slipt.--For, thought I, thou shalt not see the girl till I have talked
to thee a little, if thou dost then.--"Excuse me, Mr. H.--I hope I
have not hurt my foot--I must lean upon you."
"Will you be pleased, Madam, to have a chair? I fear you have sprained
your foot.--Shall I help you to a chair?"
"No, no, Sir, I shall walk it off, if I hold by you."
So he had no excuse to leave me, and we proceeded into the garden. But
never did any thing look so like a _foolish fellow_, as his aunt
calls him. He looked, if possible, half a dozen ways at once, hemm'd,
coughed, turned his head behind him every now and then, started half a
dozen silly subjects, in hopes to hinder me from speaking.
I appeared, I believe, under some concern how to begin with him; for
he would have it I was not very well, and begged he might step in one
minute to desire Mrs. Jervis to attend me.
So I resolved to begin with him; lest I should lose the opportunity,
seeing my eel so very slippery. And placing myself on a seat, asked
him to sit down. He declined, and would wait upon me presently, he
said, and seemed to be going. So I began--"It is easy for me, Mr. H.,
to penetrate into the reason why you are so willing to leave me: but
'tis for your own sake, that I desire you to hear me, that no mischief
may ensue among friends and relations, on an occasion to which you are
"O, Madam, what can you mean? Surely, Madam, you don't think amiss of
a little innocent liberty, or so!"
"Mr. H.," replied I, "I want not any evidence of your inhospitable
designs upon a poor unwary young creature, whom your birth and quality
have found it too easy a task to influence."
"_Inhospitable designs_! Madam!--A harsh word! You very nice ladies
cannot admit of the least freedom in the world!--Why, Madam, I have
kiss'd a lady's woman before now, in a civil way or so, and never was
called to an account for it, as a breach of hospitality."
"Tis not for me, Mr. H., to proceed to _very nice _particulars with a
gentleman who can act as you have done, by a poor girl, that dare
not have looked up to a man of your quality, had you not levelled all
distinction between you in order to level the weak creature to the
common dirt of the highway. I must say, that the poor girl heartily
repents of her folly; and, to shew you, that it signifies nothing to
deny it, she begs you will return the note of her hand you extorted
from her foolishness; and I hope you'll be so much of a gentleman, as
not to keep in your power such a testimony of the weakness of any of
"Has she told you that, Madam?--Why, may be--indeed--I can't but
say--Truly, it mayn't look so well to you, Madam: but young folks will
have frolics. It was nothing but a frolic. Let me _be hanged_, if it
"Be pleased then, Sir, to give up her note to me, to return to her.
Reputation should not be frolicked with, Sir; especially that of a
poor girl, who has nothing else to depend upon."
"I'll give it her myself, if you please, Madam, and laugh at her into
the bargain. Why, 'tis comical enough, if the little pug thought I was
earnest, I must have a laugh or two at her, Madam, when I give it her
"Since, 'tis but a frolic, Mr. H., you won't take it amiss, that when
we are set down to supper, we call Polly in, and demand a sight of her
note, and that will make every one merry as well as you."
"Not so, Madam, that mayn't be so well neither! For, perhaps, they
will be apt to think it is in earnest; when, as I hope to live, 'tis
but a jest: nothing in the world else, upon honour!"
I put on then a still more serious air--"As you _hope to live_, say
you, Mr. H.!--and _upon your honour!_ How! fear you not an instant
punishment for this appeal? And what is the _honour_ you swear by?
Take that, and answer me, Sir: do gentlemen give away bank-notes for
_frolics_, and for _mere jests_, and _nothing in the world_ else!--I
am sorry to be obliged to deal thus with you. But I thought I was
talking to a gentleman who would not forfeit his veracity; and that in
so solemn an instance as this!"
He looked like a man thunderstruck. His face was distorted, and his
head seemed to turn about upon his neck, like a weather-cock in a
hurricane, to all points of the compass; his hands clenched as in
a passion, and yet shame and confusion struggling in every limb and
feature. At last he said, "I am confoundedly betrayed. But if I am
exposed to my uncle and aunt" (for the wretch thought of nobody but
himself), "I am undone, and shall never be able to look them in the
face. 'Tis true, I had a design upon her; and since she has betrayed
me, I think I may say, that she was as willing, almost, as I."
"Ungenerous, contemptible wretch!" thought I--"But such of our sex as
can thus give up their virtue, ought to expect no better: for he
that sticks not at _one_ bad action, will not scruple at _another_ to
vindicate himself: and so, devil-like, become the attempter and the
"But if you will be so good," said he, with hands uplifted, "as to
take no notice of this to my uncle, and especially to my aunt and Mr.
B., I swear to you, I never will think of her as long as I live."
"And you'll bind this promise, will you, Sir, by _your honour_, and as
you _hope to live?_"
"Dear, good Madam, forgive me, I beseech you; don't be so severe upon
me. By all that's--"
"Don't swear, Mr. H. But as an earnest that I may believe you, give
me back the girl's foolish note, that, though 'tis of no significance,
she may not have _that_ to witness her folly."--He took out his
pocket-book: "There it is, Madam! And I beg you'll forgive this
attempt: I see I ought not to have made it. I doubt it was a breach of
the laws of hospitality, as you say. But to make it known, will only
expose me, and it can do no good; and Mr. B. will perhaps resent
it; and my aunt will never let me hear the last of it, nor my uncle
neither--And I shall be sent to travel again--And" (added the poor
creature) "I was once in a storm, and the crossing the sea again would
be death to me."
"What a wretch art thou!" thought I. "What could such an one as thou
find to say, to a poor creature that, if put in the scale against
considerations of virtue, should make the latter kick the [Transcriber's
note: illegible] "Poor, poor Tony Barrow! thou art sunk indeed! Too low
for excuse, and almost beneath pity!"
I told him, if I could observe that nothing passed between them, that
should lay me under a necessity of revealing the matter, I should not
be forward to expose him, nor the maiden either: but that he must, in
his own judgment, excuse me, if I made every body acquainted with it,
if I were to see the correspondence between them likely to be renewed
or carried on: "For," added I, "in that case I should owe it to
myself, to Mr. B., to Lord and Lady Davers, and to you, and the
unhappy body too, to do so."
He would needs drop down on one knee, to promise this; and with a
thousand acknowledgments, left me to find Mr. Colbrand, in order to
ride to meet the coach on its return. I went in, and gave the foolish
note to the silly girl, which she received eagerly, and immediately
burnt; and I told her, I would not suffer her to come near me but
as little as possible, when I was in company while Mr. H. staid; but
consigned her entirely to the care of Mrs. Jervis, to whom only, I
said, I would hint the matter as tenderly as I could: and for this, I
added, I had more reasons than one; first, to give her the benefit
of a good gentlewoman's advice, to which I had myself formerly been
beholden, and from whom I concealed nothing; next, to keep out of
Mr. H.'s way; and lastly that I might have an opportunity, from Mrs.
Jervis's opinion, to judge of the sincerity of her repentance: "For,
Polly," said I, "you must imagine, so regular and uniform as all our
family is, and so good as I thought all the people about me were,
that I could not suspect, that she, the duties of whose place made her
nearest to my person, was the farthest from what I wished."
I have set this matter so strongly before her, and Mrs. Jervis has
so well seconded me, that I hope the best; for the grief the poor
creature carries in her looks, and expresses in her words, cannot be
described; frequently accusing herself, with tears, saying often
to Mrs. Jervis, she is not worthy to stand in the presence of her
mistress, whose example she has made so bad an use of, and whose
lessons she had so ill followed.
I am sadly troubled at this matter, however; but I take great comfort
in reflecting that my sudden indisposition looked like a providential
thing, which may save one poor soul, and be a seasonable warning to
her, as long as she lives.
Meantime I must observe, that at supper last night, Mr. H. looked
abject and mean, and like a poor thief, as I thought, and conscious of
his disappointed folly (though I seldom glanced my eye upon him), had
less to say for himself than ever.
And once my Lady Davers, laughing, said, "I think in my heart, my
nephew looks more foolish every time I see him, than the last." He
stole a look at me, and blushed; and my lord said, "Jackey has some
grace! He blushes! Hold up thy head, nephew! Hast thou nothing at all
to say for thyself?"
Sir Jacob said, "A blush becomes a young gentleman! I never saw one
before though, in Mr. H.--What's the matter, Sir?"--"Only," said Lady
Davers, "his skin or his conscience is mended, that's all."
"Thank you, Madam," was all he said, bowing to his aunt, and affecting
a careless yet confused air, as if he whispered a whistle. "O,
wretch!" thought I, "see what it is to have a condemning conscience;
while every _innocent_ person looks round easy, smiling, and
erect!"--But yet it was not the shame of a bad action, I doubt, but
being discovered and disappointed, that gave him his confusion of
What a sad thing for a person to be guilty of such actions, as shall
put it in the power of another, even by a look, to mortify him! And
if poor souls can be thus abjectly struck at such a discovery by
a fellow-creature, how must they appear before an unerring and
omniscient Judge, with a conscience standing in the place of a
thousand witnesses? and calling in vain upon the _mountains to fall
upon them_, and the _hills to cover them!_--How serious this subject
I am just retired from a fatiguing service; for who should come to
dine with Mr. B. but that sad rake Sir Charles Hargrave; and Mr.
Walgrave, Mr. Sedley, and Mr. Floyd, three as bad as himself;
inseparable companions, whose whole delight is drinking, hunting, and
lewdness; but otherwise gentlemen of wit and large estates. Three of
them broke in upon us at the Hall, on the happiest day of my life,
to our great regret; and they had been long threatening to make this
visit, in order to see me, as they told Mr. B.
They whipt out two bottles of champagne instantly, for a _whet_, as
they called it; and went to view the stud and the kennel, and then
walked in the garden till dinner was ready; my Lord Davers, Mr. H.
and Sir Jacob, as well as Mr. B. (for they are all acquainted)
Sir Charles, it seems, as Lord Davers told me afterwards; said, he
longed to see Mrs. B. She was the talk wherever he went, and he had
conceived a high opinion of her beforehand.
Lord Davers said, "I defy you, gentlemen, to think so highly of her as
she deserves, take mind and person together."
Mr. Floyd said, he never saw any woman yet, who came up to what he
expected, where fame had been lavish in her praise.
"But how, brother baronet," said Sir Charles to Sir Jacob, "came _you_
to be reconciled to her? I heard that you would never own her."
"Oons man!" said Sir Jacob, "I was taken in.--They contrived to clap
her upon me as Lady Jenny C. and pretended they'd keep t'other out of
my sight; and I was plaguily bit, and forced to get on as well as I
"That was a bite indeed," said Mr. Walgrave; "and so you fell a
praising Lady Jenny, I warrant, to the skies."
"Ye--s" (drawling out the affirmative monosyllable), "I was used most
scurvily: faith I was. I bear 'em a grudge for it still, I can tell
'em that; for I have hardly been able to hold up my head like a man
since--but am forced to go and come, and to do as they bid me. By my
troth, I never was so manageable in my life."
"Your Herefordshire neighbours, Sir Jacob," said Mr. Sedley, with an
oath, "will rejoice to hear this; for the whole county there cannot
"I am quite cow'd now, as you will see by-and-by; nay, for that
matter, if you can set Mrs. B. a talking, not one of you all will care
to open your lips, except to say as she says."
"Never fear, old boy," said Sir Charles, "we'll bear our parts in
conversation. I never saw the woman yet, who could give me either awe
or love for six minutes together. What think you, Mr. B.? Have you any
notion, that your lady will have so much power over us?"
"I think, Sir Charles, I have one of the finest women in England; but
I neither expect nor desire you rakes should see her with my eyes."
"You know, if I have a mind to love her, and make court to her too,
Mr. B., I will: and I am half in love with her already, although I
have not seen her."
They came in when dinner was near ready, and the four gentlemen took
each a large bumper of old hock for another whet.
The countess, Lady Davers, and I came down together. The gentlemen
knew our two noble ladies, and were known to them in person, as well
as by character. Mr. B., in his usual kind and encouraging manner,
took my hand, and presented the four gentlemen to me, each by his
name. Sir Charles said, pretty bluntly, that he hoped he was more
welcome to me now, than the last time he was under the same roof with
me; for he had been told since, that _that_ was our happy day.
I said, Mr. B.'s friends were always welcome to me.
"Tis well, Madam," said Mr. Sedley, "we did not know how it was. We
should have quartered ourselves upon Mr. B. for a week together, and
kept him up day and night."
I thought this speech deserved no answer, especially as they were
gentlemen who wanted no countenance, and addressed myself to Lord
Davers, who is always kindly making court to me: "I hope, my good
lord, you find yourself quite recovered of your head-ache?" (of which
he complained at breakfast).
"I thank you, my dear sister, pretty well."
"I was telling Sir Charles and the other gentlemen, niece," said Sir
Jacob, "how I was cheated here, when I came first, with a Lady Jenny."
"It was a very lucky cheat for me, Sir Jacob; for it gave you a
prepossession in my favour under so advantageous a character, that I
could never have expected otherwise."
"I wish," said the countess, "my daughter, for whom Sir Jacob took
you, had Mrs. B.'s qualities to boast of."--"How am I obliged to your
ladyship's goodness," returned I, "when you treat me with even greater
indulgence than you use to so beloved a daughter!"
"Nay, now you talk of treating," said Sir Charles, "when, ladies, will
you treat our sex with the politeness which you shew to one another?"
"When your sex deserve it, Sir Charles," answered Lady Davers.
"Who is to be judge of that?" said Mr. Walgrave.
"Not the gentlemen, I hope," replied my lady.
"Well then, Mrs. B.," said Sir Charles, "we bespeak your good opinion
of _us_; for you have _ours_."
"I am obliged to you, gentlemen; but I must be more cautious in
declaring _mine_, lest it should be thought I am influenced by your
kind, and perhaps too hasty, opinions of me."
Sir Charles swore they had _seen_ enough of me the moment I entered
the parlour, and heard enough the moment I opened my lips to answer
for _their_ opinions of me.
I said, I made no doubt, when _they_ had as good a subject to
expatiate upon, as I had, in the pleasure before me, of seeing so
many agreeable friends of Mr. B.'s, they would maintain the title they
claimed of every one's good opinion.
"This," said Sir Jacob, "is binding you over, gentlemen, to your good
behaviour. You must know, my niece never shoots flying, as _you_ do."
The gentlemen laughed: "Is it shooting flying, Sir Jacob," returned
Sir Charles, "to praise that lady?"
"Ads-bud, I did not think of that."
"Sir Jacob," said the countess, "you need not be at a fault;--for a
good sportsman always hits his mark, flying or not; and the gentlemen
had so fair an one, that they could not well miss it."
"You are fairly helped over the stile, Sir Jacob," said Mr. Floyd.
"And, indeed, I wanted it; though I limped like a puppy before I was
lame. One can't think of every thing as one used to do at your time
of life, gentlemen." This flippant stuff was all that passed, which I
_can_ recite; for the rest, at table, and after dinner, was too polite
by half for me; such as, the quantity of wine each man could
_carry off_ (that was the phrase), dogs, horses, hunting, racing,
cock-fighting, and all accompanied with swearing and cursing, and that
in good humour, and out of wantonness (the least excusable and more
profligate sort of swearing and cursing of all).
The gentlemen liked the wine so well, that we had the felicity to
drink tea and coffee by ourselves; only Mr. B. (upon our inviting the
gentlemen to partake with us) sliding in for a few minutes to tell us,
they would stick by what they had, and taking a dish of coffee with
I should not omit one observation; that Sir Jacob, when they were
gone, said they were _pure company_; and Mr. H. that he never was
so delighted in his _born days_.--While the two ladies put up their
prayers, that they might never have such another entertainment. And
being encouraged by their declaration, I presumed to join in the same
Yet it seems, these are men of wit! I believe they must be so--for I
could neither like nor understand them. Yet, if their conversation had
much wit, I should think my ladies would have found it out.
The gentlemen, permit me to add, went away very merry, to ride ten
miles by owl-light; for they would not accept of beds here. They had
two French horns with them, and gave us a flourish or two at going
off. Each had a servant besides: but the way they were in would have
given me more concern than it did, had they been related to Mr. B. and
less used to it. And, indeed, it is a happiness, that such gentlemen
take no more care than they generally do, to interest any body
intimately in their healths and preservation; for these are all single
men. Nor need the public, any more than the private, be much concerned
about them; for let such persons go when they will, if they continue
single, their next heir cannot well be a worse commonwealth's man; and
there is a great chance he may be better.
You know I end my Saturdays seriously. And this, to what I have
already said, makes me add, that I cannot express how much I am, my
dear Miss Darnford, _your faithful and affectionate_ PB
_From Mrs. B. to Miss Darnford. In Answer to Letters XXXV and XXXVI._
MY DEAR MISS DARNFORD,
I skip over the little transactions of several days, to let you know
how much you rejoice me, in telling me Sir Simon has been so kind as
to comply with my wishes. Both your most agreeable letters came to my
hand together, and I thank you a hundred times for them; and I thank
your dear mamma, and Sir Simon too, for the pleasure they have given
me in this obliging permission. How happy shall we be!--But how long
will you be permitted to stay, though? All the winter, I hope:--and
then, when that is over, let us set out together, if God shall spare
us, directly for Lincolnshire; and to pass most of the summer likewise
in each other's company. What a sweet thought is this!--Let me indulge
it a little while.
Mr. B. read your letters, and says, you are a charming young lady,
and surpass yourself in every letter. I told him, that he was more
interested in the pleasure I took in this favour of Sir Simon's than
he imagined. "As how, my dear?" said he. "A plain case, Sir," replied
I: "for endeavouring to improve myself by Miss Darnford's conversation
and behaviour, I shall every day be more worthy of your favour." He
kindly would have it, that nobody, no, not Miss Darnford herself,
'Tis right, you know, Miss, that Mr. B. should think so, though I must
know nothing at all, if I was not sensible how inferior I am to my
dear Miss Darnford: and yet, when I look abroad now-and-then, I could
be a proud slut, if I would, and not yield the palm to many others.
Well, my dear Miss,
Is past and gone, as happy as the last; the two ladies, and, at
_their_ earnest request, Sir Jacob bearing us company, in the evening
part. My Polly was there morning and evening, with her heart broken
almost, poor girl!--I put her in a corner of my closet, that her
concern should not be minded. Mrs. Jervis gives me great hopes of her.
Sir Jacob was much pleased with our family order, and said, 'twas no
wonder I _kept_ so good myself, and made others so: and he thought
the four rakes (for he run on how much they admired me) would be
converted, if they saw how well I passed my time, and how cheerful and
easy every one, as well as myself was under it! He said, when he came
home, he must take such a method himself in _his_ family; for, he
believed, it would make not only better masters and mistresses, but
better children, and better servants too. But, poor gentleman! he has,
I doubt, a great deal to mend in _himself_, before he can begin such a
practice with efficacy in his _family_.
In the afternoon. Sir Jacob took his leave of us, highly satisfied
with us both, and _particularly_ (so he said) with me; and promised
that my two cousins, as he called his daughters, and his sister, an
old maiden lady, if they went to town this winter, should visit me,
and be improved by me; that was his word. Mr. B. accompanied him some
miles on his journey, and the two ladies, and Lord Davers, and I, took
an airing in the coach.
Mr. B. was so kind as to tell me, when he came home, with a whisper,
that Miss Goodwin presented her duty to me.
I have got a multitude of fine things for the dear little creature,
and Mr. B. promises to give me a dairy-house breakfast, when our
guests are gone.
I enclose the history of this little charmer, by Mr. B.'s consent,
since you are to do us the honour, as he (as well as I) pleases
himself, to be one of our family--but keep it to yourself, whatever
you do. I am guarantee that you will; and have put it in a separate
paper, that you may burn it when read. For I may want your advice
on this subject, having a great desire to get this child in my
possession; and yet Lady Davers has given a hint, that dwells a little
with me. When I have the pleasure I hope for, I will lay all before
you, and be determined, and proceed, as far as I have power, by you.
You, my good father and mother, have seen the story in my former
You must know, I pass over the days thus swiftly, not that I could
not fill them up with writing, as amply as I have done the former;
but intending only to give you a general idea of our way of life and
conversation; and having gone through a whole week and more, you will
be able, from what I have recited, to form a judgment how it is with
us, one day with another. As for example, now and then neighbourly
visits received and paid--Needlework between whiles--Music--Cards
sometimes, though I don't love them--One more benevolent
round--Improving conversations with my dear Mr. B. and my two good
ladies--A lesson from him, when alone, either in French or Latin--A
new pauper case or two--A visit from the good dean--Mr. Williams's
departure, in order to put the new projected alteration in force,
which is to deprive me of my chaplain--(By the way, the dean is highly
pleased with this affair, and the motives to it, Mr. Adams being a
favourite of his, and a distant relation of his lady)--Mr. H.'s and
Polly's mutual endeavour to avoid one another--My lessons to the poor
girl, and cautions, as if she were my sister--
These, my dear Miss Darnford, and my honoured parents, are the
pleasant employments of our time; so far as we females are concerned:
for the gentlemen hunt, ride out, and divert themselves in their way,
and bring us home the news and occurrences they meet with abroad, and
now-and-then a straggling gentleman they pick up in their diversions.
And so I shall not enlarge upon these articles, after the tedious
specimens I have already given.
Could you ever have thought, my dear, that husbands have a dispensing
power over their wives, which kings are not allowed over the laws?
I have had a smart debate with Mr. B., and I fear it will not be the
only one upon this subject. Can you believe, that if a wife thinks
a thing her duty to do, which her husband does not approve, he can
dispense with her performing it, and no sin shall lie at her door? Mr.
B. maintains this point. I have great doubts about it; particularly
one; that if a matter be my duty, and he dispenses with my performance
of it, whether, even although that were to clear _me_ of the sin,
it will not fall upon _himself_? And a good wife would be as much
concerned at this, as if it was to remain upon _her_. Yet he seems set
upon it. What can one do?--Did you ever hear of such a notion, before?
Of such a prerogative in a husband? Would you care to subscribe to it?
He says, the ladies are of his opinion. I'm afraid they are, and so
will not ask them. But, perhaps, I mayn't live, and other things may
happen; and so I'll say no more of it at present.
Mr. H. and my Lord and Lady Davers and the excellent Countess of C.
having left us this day, to our mutual regret, the former put the
following letter into my hands, with an air of respect and even
reverence. He says, he spells most lamentably; and this obliges me to
give it you _literally_:
"DEARE GOOD MADAM,
"I cannott contente myself with common thankes, on leaving youres, and
Mr. B.'s hospitabel house, because of _thatt there_ affaire, which I
neede not mention! and truly am _ashamed_ to mention, as I _have been_
to looke you in the face ever since it happen'd. I don't knowe _how
itt came aboute_, butt I thought butt att first of _joking_ a littel,
_or soe_; and seeing Polley heard me with more attentiveness than I
expected, I was encouraged to proceede; and _soe_, now I recollecte,
itt _camn aboute_.
"But she is innosente for me: and I don't knowe how _thatt_ came
about neither; for wee were oute one moonelighte nighte in the garden,
walking aboute, and afterwards tooke a _napp_ of two houres, as I
beliefe, in the summer-house in the littel gardin, being over-powered
with sleepe; for I woulde make her lay her head uppon my breste, till
before we were awar, wee felle asleepe. Butt before thatt, wee had
agreed on whatt you discovered.
"This is the whole truthe, and all the intimasies we ever hadde, to
_speake off_. But I beleefe we should have been better acquainted,
hadd you nott, luckily _for mee_! prevented itt, by being at home,
when we thought you abroad. For I was to come to her when shee hemm'd
_two or three times_; for having made a contract, you knowe. Madam, it
was naturall enough to take the first occasion to putt itt in force.
"Poor Polley! I pity her too. Don't thinke the worse of her, deare
Madam, so as to turn her away, because it may bee her ruin. I don't
desire too see her. I might have been _drawne_ _in_ to do strange
foolish things, and been ruin'd at the long run; for who knows where
this thing mought have ended? My _unkell_ woulde have never seene
me. My _father_ too (his lordshipp, you have hearde, Madam, is a very
_crosse man_, and never loved _me much_) mought have cutt off the
intaile. My _aunte_ would have dispis'd mee and scorn'd mee. I should
have been her foolishe fellowe in _earneste_, nott in _jeste_, as
now. You woulde have resented itt, and Mr. B. (who knows?) mought have
called me to account.
"Butt cann you forgive me? You see how happy I am in my
disappointment. I did nott think too write so much;--for I don't love
it: but on this occasion, know not how too leave off. I hope you
can read my letter. I know I write a _clumsy_ hand, and _spelle most
lamentabelly_; for I never had a tallent for these things. I was
readier by half to admire the _orcherd robbing picture _in Lillie's
grammar, then any other part of the book.
"But, hey, whether am I running! I never writt to you before, and
never may again, unless you, or Mr. B. command it, for your service.
So pray excuse me, Madam.
"I knowe I neede give no advice to Polley, to take care of _first_
encouragements. Poor girl! she mought have suffer'd sadly, as welle
as I. For iff my father, and my unkell and aunte, had requir'd mee
to turne her off, you know itt woulde have been undutifull to have
refused them, notwithstanding our bargaine. And want of duty to
them woulde have been to have added faulte too faulte: as you once
observed, I remember, that one faulte never comes alone, but drawes
after itt generally five or six, to hide or vindicate itt, and _they_
every one perhapps as many more _eache_.
"I shall never forgett severall of youre wise sayinges. I have been
vex'd, may I be _hang'd_ if I have not, many a time, thatt I coulde
not make such observations as you make; who am so much _older_ too,
and a _man_ besides, and a _peere's son_, and a _peere's nephew!_ but
my tallents lie _another way_; and by that time my father dies, I hope
to improve myselfe, in order to _cutt_ such a figure, as may make me
be no disgrase to my _name_ or _countrey_.
"Well, but whatt is all this to the purpose?--I will keep close to
my text; and that is, to thank you, good Madam, for all the favours I
have received in your house; to thank you for disappointing mee, and
for convincing mee, in so _kinde_, yet so _shameing_ a manner, how
wrong I was in the matter of _that there_ Polley; and for not exposing
my folly to any boddy but _myselfe_ (for I should have been ready
to _hang_ myselfe, if you hadd); and to beg youre pardon for itt,
assuring you, that I will never offerr the like as long as I breathe.
I am, Madam, with the greatest respecte, _youre most obliged, moste
faithful, and most obedient humbell servante_, J.H.
"Pray excuse blotts and blurs."
Well, Miss Darnford, what shall we say to this fine letter?--You'll
allow it to be an original, I hope. Yet, may-be not. For it may be
as well written, and as sensible a letter as this class of people
Mr. H. dresses well, is not a contemptible figure of a man, laughs,
talks, where he can be heard, and his aunt is not present; and _cuts_,
to use his own word, a considerable figure in a country town.--But
see--Yet I will not say what I might--He is Lord Davers's nephew; and
if he makes his _observations_, and _forbears_ his _speeches_ (I mean,
can be silent, and only laugh when he sees somebody of more sense
laugh, and never _approve_ or _condemn_ but in _leading-strings_),
he may possibly pass in a crowd of gentlemen. But poor, poor Polly
Barlow! What _can_ I say for Polly Barlow?
I have a time in view, when my papers may fall under the inspection
of a dear gentleman, to whom, next to God, I am accountable for all my
actions and correspondences; so I will either write an account of
the matter, and seal it up separately, for Mr. B., or, at a fit
opportunity, break it to him, and let him know (under secrecy, if
he will promise it) the steps I took in it; lest something arise
hereafter, when I cannot answer for myself, to render any thing dark
or questionable in it. A method, I believe, very proper to be taken by
every married lady; and I presume the rather to say so, having had a
good example for it: for I have often thought of a little sealed up
parcel of papers, my lady made me burn in her presence, about a month
before she died. "They are, Pamela," said she, "such as would not
concern me, let who will see them, could they know the springs and
causes of them; but, for want of a clue, my son might be at a loss
what to think of several of those letters were he to find them, in
looking over my other papers, when I am no more."
Let me add, that nothing could be more endearing than our parting with
our noble guests. My lady repeated her commands for what she often
engaged me to promise, that is to say, to renew the correspondence
begun between us, so much (as she was pleased to say) to her
I could not help shewing her ladyship, who was always enquiring after
my writing employment, most of what passed between you and me: she
admires you much, and wished Mr. H. had more wit, that was her word:
she should in that case, she said, be very glad to set on foot a
treaty between you and him.
But that, I fancy, can never be tolerable to you; and I only mention
it _en passant_.--There's a French woman for you!
The countess was full of her kind wishes for my happiness; and my Lady
Davers told me, that if I could give her timely notice, she would be
present on a _certain_ occasion.
But, my dear Miss, what could I say?--I know nothing of the
matter!--Only, I am a sad coward, and have a thousand anxieties which
I cannot mention to any body.
But, if I have such in the honourable estate of matrimony, what must
those poor souls have, who are seduced, and have all manner of reason
to apprehend, that the crime shall be followed by a punishment so
_natural_ to it? A punishment _in kind_, as I may say; which if it
only ends in forfeiture of life, following the forfeiture of fame,
must be thought merciful and happy beyond expectation: for how shall
they lay claim to the hope given to persons in their circumstances
that _they shall be saved in child-bearing_, since the condition
is, _if they _CONTINUE _in faith and charity, and _HOLINESS _with_
Now, my honoured mother, and my dear Miss Darnford since I am upon
this affecting subject, does not this text seem to give a comfortable
hope to a good woman, who shall thus die, of being happy in the Divine
mercies? For the Apostle, in the context, says, that _he suffers not
a woman to teach, nor usurp authority over the man, but to be in
silence_.--And what is the reason he gives? Why, a reason that is a
natural consequence of the curse on the first disobedience, that she
shall be in subjection to her husband. "For," says he, "_Adam was_ NOT
_deceived; but the woman, being deceived, was in the transgression._"
As much as to say--Had it not been for the woman, Adam had kept his
integrity, and therefore her punishment shall be, as it is said, "_I
will greatly multiply thy sorrow in thy conception: in sorrow shall
thou bring forth children--and thy husband shall rule over thee_." But
nevertheless, if thou shalt not survive the sharpness of thy sorrow,
thy death shall be deemed to be such an alleviation of thy part of
the entailed transgression, that thou shalt _be saved_, if thou hast
CONTINUED in faith and charity, and HOLINESS with SOBRIETY.
This, my honoured parents, and my dear friend, is _my_ paraphrase; and
I reap no small comfort from it, when I meditate upon it.
But I shall make you as serious as myself; and, my dear friend,
perhaps, frighten you from entering into a state, in which our poor
sex suffer so much, from the bridal morning, let it rise as gaily
as it will upon a thoughtful mind, to that affecting circumstance,
(throughout its whole progression), for which nothing but a tender, a
generous, and a worthy husband can make them any part of amends.
But a word or two more, as to the parting with our honoured company.
I was a little indisposed, and they all would excuse me, against my
will, from attending them in the coach some miles, which their dear
brother did. Both ladies most tenderly saluted me, twice or thrice
a-piece, folding their kind arms about me, and wishing my safety and
health, and charging me to _think_ little, and _hope_ much; for they
saw me thoughtful at times, though I endeavoured to hide it from them.
My Lord Davers said, with a goodness of temper that is peculiar to
him, "My dearest sister,--May God preserve you, and multiply your
comforts! I shall pray for you more than ever I did for myself, though
I have so much more need of it:--I _must_ leave you--But I leave one
whom I love and honour next to Lady Davers, and ever shall."
Mr. H. looked consciously silly. "I can say nothing, Madam, but"
(saluting me) "that I shall never forget your goodness to me."
I had before, in Mrs. Jervis's parlour, taken leave of Mrs. Worden
and Mrs. Lesley, my ladies' women: they each stole a hand of mine, and
kissed it, begging pardon for the freedom. But I answered, taking
each by her hand, and kissing her, "I shall always think of you with
pleasure, my good friends; for you have encouraged me constantly by
your presence in my private duties; and may God bless you, and the
worthy families you so laudably serve, as well for your sakes, as
They turned away with tears; and Mrs. Worden would have said something
to me, but could not.--Only both taking Mrs. Jervis by the hand,
"Happy Mrs. Jervis!" said they, almost in a breath. "And happy I too,"
repeated I, "in my Mrs. Jervis, and in such kind well-wishers as
Mrs. Worden and Mrs. Lesley. Wear this, Mrs. Worden;--wear this, Mrs.
Lesley, for my sake:" and to each I gave a ring, with a crystal and
brilliants set about it, which Mr. B. had bought a week before for
this purpose: he has a great opinion of both the good folks, and often
praised their prudence, and quiet and respectful behaviour to every
body, so different from the impertinence (that was his word) of most
ladies' women who are favourites.
Mrs. Jervis said, "I have enjoyed many happy hours in your
conversation, Mrs. Worden and Mrs. Lesley: I shall miss you very
"I must endeavour," said I, taking her hand, "to make it up to you,
my good friend, as well as I can. And of late we have not had so many
opportunities together as I should have wished, had I not been so
agreeably engaged as you know. So we must each try to comfort
the other, when we have lost, I such noble, and you such worthy
Mrs. Jervis's honest heart, before touched by the parting, shewed
itself at her eyes. "Wonder not," said I, to the two gentlewomen,
wiping with my handkerchief her venerable cheeks, "that I always
thus endeavour to dry up all my good Mrs. Jervis's tears;" and then
I kissed her, thinking of you, my dear mother; and I was forced to
withdraw a little abruptly, lest I should be too much moved myself;
for had our departing company enquired into the occasion, they would
perhaps have thought it derogatory (though I should not) to my present
station, and too much retrospecting to my former.
I could not, in conversation between Mr. B. and myself, when I was
gratefully expatiating upon the amiable characters of our noble
guests, and of their behaviour and kindness to me, help observing,
that I had little expected, from some hints which formerly dropt from
Mr. B., to find my good Lord Davers so polite and so sensible a man.
"He is a very good-natured man," replied Mr. B. "I believe I might
once or twice drop some disrespectful words of him. But it was the
effect of passion at the time, and with a view to two or three points
of his conduct in public life; for which I took the liberty to find
fault with him, and received very unsatisfactory excuses. One of
these, I remember, was in a conference between a committee of each
house of parliament, in which he behaved in a way I could not wish
from a man so nearly allied to me by marriage; for all he could talk
of, was the dignity of their house, when the reason of the thing was
strong with the other; and it fell to my lot to answer what he said;
which I did with some asperity; and this occasioned a coolness between
us for some time.
"But no man makes a better figure in private life than Lord Davers;
especially now that my sister's good sense has got the better of her
passions, and she can behave with tolerable decency towards him. For
once, Pamela, it was not so: the violence of her spirit making him
appear in a light too little advantageous either to his quality or
merit. But now he improves upon me every time I see him.
"You know not, my dear, what a disgrace a haughty and passionate woman
brings upon her husband, and upon herself too, in the eyes of her own
sex, as well as ours. Nay, even those ladies, who would be as glad of
dominion as she, if they might be permitted to exercise it, despise
others who do, and the man _most_ who suffers it.
"And let me tell you," said the dear man, with an air that shewed
he was satisfied with his own conduct in this particular, "that you
cannot imagine how much a woman owes to her husband, as well with
regard to _her own _peace of mind, as to _both_ their reputations
(however it may go against the grain with her sometimes), if he be
a man who has discretion to keep her encroaching passions under a
genteel and reasonable control!"
How do you like this doctrine, Miss?--I'll warrant, you believe,
that I could do no less than drop Mr. B. one of my best curt'sies,
in acknowledgment of my obligation to him, for so considerately
preserving to me _my_ peace of mind, and _my_ reputation, as well as
_his own_, in this case.
But after all, when one duly weighs the matter, what he says may be
right in the main; for I have not been able to contradict him, partial
as I am to my sex, when he has pointed out to me instances in the
behaviour of certain ladies, who, like children, the more they have
been humoured, the more humoursome they have grown; which must have
occasioned as great uneasiness to themselves, as to their husbands.
Will you excuse me, my dear? This is between ourselves; for I did not
own so much to Mr. B. For one should not give up one's sex, you know,
if one can help it: for the men will be as apt to impose, as the women
to encroach, I doubt.
Well, but here, my honest parents, and my dear Miss Darnford, at last,
I end my journal-wise letters, as I may call them; our noble guests
being gone, and our time and employments rolling on in much the same
manner, as in past days, of which I have given an account. I am,
_my dearest father and mother, and best beloved Miss Darnford, your
dutiful and affectionate_
MY DEAR MISS DARNFORD,
I hear that Mrs. Jewkes is in no good state of health. I am very sorry
for it. I pray for her life, that she may be a credit (if it please
God) to the penitence she has so lately assumed.
Do, my dear _good_ Miss, vouchsafe to the poor soul the honour of a
visit: she may be low-spirited.--She may be too much sunk with the
recollection of past things. Comfort, with that sweetness which is so
natural to Miss Darnford, her drooping heart; and let her know, that I
have a true concern for her, and give it her in charge to take care of
herself, and spare nothing that will administer either to her health
or peace of mind.
You'll pardon me that I put you upon an office so unsuitable from a
lady in your station, to a person in hers; but not to your piety and
charity, where a duty so eminent as that of visiting the sick, and
cheering the doubting mind, is in the question.
I know your condescension will give her great comfort; and if she
should be hastening to her account, what a pleasure will it give
such a lady as you, to have illuminated a benighted mind, when it was
tottering on the verge of death!
I know she will want no spiritual help from good Mr. Peters; but then
the kind notice of so generally esteemed a young lady, will raise her
more than can be imagined: for there is a tenderness, a sympathy, in
the good persons of our sex to one another, that (while the best of
the other seem but to act as in office, saying those things, which,
though edifying and convincing, one is not certain proceeds not
rather from the fortitude of their minds, than the tenderness of their
natures) mingles with one's very spirits, thins the animal mass, and
runs through one's heart in the same lify current (I can't clothe my
thought suitably to express what I would), giving assurance, as well
as pleasure, in the most arduous cases, and brightening our misty
prospects, till we see the Sun of Righteousness rising on the hills of
comfort, and dispelling the heavy fogs of doubt and diffidence.
This it is makes me wish and long as I do, for the company of my dear
Miss Darnford. O when shall I see you? When shall I?--To speak to
my present case, it is _all I long for_; and, pardon my freedom of
expression, as well as thought, when I let you know in this instance,
how _early_ I experience the _ardent longings_ of one in the way I am
But I ought not to set my heart upon any thing not in my own power,
and which may be subject to accidents, and the control of others. But
let whatever interventions happen, so I have your _will_ to come, I
must be rejoiced in your kind intention, although your _power_ should
not prove answerable.
But I will say no more, than that I am, my honoured father and
mother, your ever dutiful daughter; and, my dear Miss Darnford, _your
affectionate and obliged_ P.B.
From Miss Darnford to Mrs. B.
MY DEAR MRS. B.,
We are greatly obliged to you for every particular article in your
entertaining journal, which you have brought, sooner than we wished,
to a conclusion. We cannot express how much we admire you for your
judicious charities, so easy to be practised, yet so uncommon in the
manner, and for your inimitable conduct in the affair of your frail
Polly and the silly Mr. H.
Your account of the visit of the four rakes; of your parting with your
noble guests; Mr. H.'s letter (an original indeed!) have all greatly
entertained us, as your prerogative hints have amused us: but we
defer our opinion of those hints, till we have the case more fully
But, my dear friend, are you not in danger of falling into a too
thoughtful and gloomy way? By the latter part of your last letter,
we are afraid you are; and my mamma, and Mrs. Jones, and Mrs. Peters,
enjoin me to write, to caution you on that head. But there is the less
need of it, because your prudence will always suggest to you reasons,
as it does in that very letter, that must out-balance your fears.
_Think_ little, and _hope_ much, is a good lesson in your case, and
to a lady of your temper; and I hope Lady Davers will not in vain have
given you that caution. After all, I dare say your thoughtfulness is
but symptomatical, and will go off in proper time.
But to wave this: let me ask you, is Mr. B.'s conduct to you as
_respectful_, I don't mean fond, when you are alone together, as in
company?--Forgive me--But you have hinted two or three times, in your
letters, that he always is most complaisant to you in company; and you
observe, that _wisely_ does he act in this, as he thereby does credit
with every body to his own choice. I make no doubt, that the many
charming scenes which your genius and fine behaviour furnish out to
him, must, as often as they happen, inspire him with joy, and even
rapture: and must make him love you more for your mind than for your
person:--but these rapturous scenes last very little longer than the
present moment. What I want to know is, whether in the _steadier_
parts of life, when you are both nearer the level of us common folks,
he give up any thing of his own will in compliment to yours? Whether
he acts the part of a respectful, polite gentleman, in his behaviour
to you; and breaks not into your retirements, in the dress, and with
the brutal roughness of a fox-hunter?--Making no difference, perhaps,
between the field or his stud (I will not say kennel) and your chamber
or closet?--Policy, for his own credit-sake, as I mentioned, accounts
to me well, for his complaisance to you in public. But his regular and
uniform behaviour to you, in your retirement, when the conversation
between you turns upon usual and common subjects, and you have not
obliged him to rise to admiration of you, by such scenes as those
of your two parsons, Sir Jacob Swynford, and the like: is what would
satisfy my curiosity, if you please to give me an instance or two of
Now, my dearest Mrs. B., if you can give me a case, partly or nearly
thus circumstanced, you will highly oblige me:
First, where he has borne with any infirmity of your own; and I know
of none where you can give him such an opportunity, except you get
into a vapourish habit, by giving way to a temper too thoughtful and
Next, that, in complaisance to _your_ will, he recedes from his _own_
in any one instance:
Next, whether he breaks not into your retirements unceremoniously, and
without apology or concern, as I hinted above.
You know, my dear Mrs. B., all I mean, by what I have said.; and if
you have any pretty conversation in memory, by the recital of which,
this my bold curiosity may be answered, pray oblige me with it; and we
shall be able to judge by it, not only of the in-born generosity which
all that know Mr. B. have been willing to attribute to him, but of
the likelihood of the continuance of both your felicities, upon terms
suitable to the characters of a fine lady and fine gentleman: and, of
consequence, worthy of the imitation of the most delicate of our own
Your obliging _longings_, my beloved dear lady, for my company, I
hope, will very soon be answered. My papa was so pleased with your
sweet earnestness on this occasion, that he joined with my mamma; and
both, with equal cheerfulness, said, you should not be many days in
London before me. Murray and his mistress go on swimmingly, and have
not yet had one quarrel. The only person, he, of either sex, that ever
knew Nancy so intimately, and so long, without one!
This is all I have to say, at present, when I have assured you, my
dear Mrs. B., how much I am _your obliged, and affectionate_ POLLY
My dearest Miss Darnford,
I was afraid I ended my last letter in a gloomy way; and I am obliged
to you for the kind and friendly notice you take of it. It was owing
to a train of thinking which sometimes I get into, of late; I hope
only symptomatically, as you say, and that the cause and effect will
soon vanish together.
But what a task, my dear friend, I'll warrant, you think you have set
me! I thought, in the progress of my journal, and in my letters, I had
given so many instances of Mr. B.'s polite tenderness to me, that no
new ones would be required at my hands; and when I said he was always
_most_ complaisant before company, I little expected, that such an
inference would be drawn from my words, as would tend to question the
uniformity of his behaviour to me, when there were no witnesses to it.
But I am glad of an opportunity to clear up all your doubts on this
To begin then:
You first desire an instance, where Mr. B. has borne with some
infirmity of mine:
Next, that in complaisance to my will, he has receded from his own:
And lastly, whether he breaks not into my retirements unceremoniously;
and without apology or concern, making no difference between the field
or the stud, and my chamber or closet?
As to the first, his bearing with my infirmities; he is daily giving
instances of his goodness to me on this head; and I am ashamed to say,
that of late I give him so much occasion for them as I do; but he sees
my apprehensiveness, at times, though I endeavour to conceal it; and
no husband was ever so soothing and so indulgent as Mr. B. He gives me
the best advice, as to my malady, if I may call it one: treats me with
redoubled tenderness: talks to me upon the subjects I most delight to
dwell upon: as of my worthy parents; what they are doing at this time,
and at that; of our intended journey to London; of the diversions of
the town; of Miss Darnford's company; and when he goes abroad, sends
up my good Mrs. Jervis to me, because I should not be alone: at
other times, takes me abroad with him, brings this neighbour and that
neighbour to visit; and carries me to visit them; talks of our journey
to Kent, and into Lincolnshire, and to my Lady Davers's, to Bath, to
Tunbridge, and I can't tell whither, when the apprehended time shall
be over.--In fine, my dear Miss Darnford, you cannot imagine one half
of his tender goodness and politeness to me!--Then he hardly ever
goes to any distance, but brings some pretty present he thinks will be
grateful to me. When at home, he is seldom out of my company; delights
to teach me French and Italian, and reads me pieces of manuscript
poetry, in several of the modern tongues (for he speaks them all);
explains to me every thing I understand not; delights to answer all my
questions, and to encourage my inquisitiveness and curiosity, tries
to give me a notion of pictures and medals, and reads me lectures upon
them, for he has a fine collection of both; and every now and
then will have it, that he has been improved by my questions and
What say you to these things, my dear? Do they come up to your first
question? or do they not? Or is not what I have said, a full answer,
were I to say no more, to _all_ your enquiries?
O my dear, I am thoroughly convinced, that half the misunderstandings,
among married people, are owing to trifles, to petty distinctions,
to mere words, and little captious follies, to over-weenings, or
unguarded petulances: and who would forego the solid satisfaction
of life, for the sake of triumphing in such poor contentions, if one
But you next require of me an instance, where, in complaisance to _my_
will, he has receded from _his own?_ I don't know what to say to
this. When Mr. B. is all tenderness and indulgence, and requires of
me nothing, that I can have a material objection to, ought I _not_
to oblige him? Can I have a will that is not his? Or would it be
excusable if I _had?_ All little matters I cheerfully give up: great
ones have not yet occurred between us, and I hope never will. One
point, indeed, I have some apprehension _may_ happen; and that, to be
plain with you, is, we have had a debate or two on the subject (which
I maintain) of a mother's duty to nurse her own child; and I am sorry
to say it, he seems more determined than I wish he were, against it.
I hope it will not proceed so far as to awaken the sleeping dragon I
mentioned. _Prerogative_ by name; but I doubt I cannot give up this
point very contentedly. But as to lesser points, had I been a duchess
born, I think I would not have contested them with my husband.
I could give you many respectful instances too, of his receding, when
he has desired to see what I have been writing, and I have told him to
whom, and begged to be excused. One such instance I can give since I
began this letter. This is it:
I put it in my bosom, when he came up: he saw me do so:
"Are you writing, my dear, what I must not see?"
"I am writing to Miss Darnford, Sir: and she begged you might not at
"This augments my curiosity, Pamela. What can two such ladies write,
that I may not see?"
"If you won't be displeased, Sir, I had rather you would not, because
she desires you may not see her letter, nor this my answer, till the
letter is in her hands."
"Then I will not," returned Mr. B.
Will this instance, my dear, come up to your demand for one, where he
recedes from his own will, in complaisance to mine?
But now, as to what both our notions and our practice are on the
article of my retirements, and whether he breaks in upon them
unceremoniously, and without apology, let the conversation I promised
inform you, which began on the following occasion.
Mr. B. rode out early one morning, within a few days past, and did not
return till the afternoon; an absence I had not been used to of late;
and breakfasting and dining without him being also a new thing with
me, I had such an impatience to see him, having expected him at
dinner, that I was forced to retire to my closet, to try to divert it,
by writing; and the gloomy conclusion of my last was then the subject.
He returned about four o'clock, and indeed did _not_ tarry to change
his riding-dress, as your politeness, my dear friend, would perhaps
have expected; but came directly up to me, with an impatience to see
me, equal to my own, when he was told, upon enquiry, that I was in my
I heard his welcome step, as he came up stairs; which generally, after
a longer absence than I expect, has such an effect upon my fond heart,
that it gives a responsive throb for every step he takes towards me,
and beats quicker and faster, as he comes nearer.
I met him at my closet door. "So, my dear love," says he, "how do
you?" folding his kind arms about me, and saluting me with ardour.
"Whenever I have been but a few hours from you, my impatience to
see my beloved, will not permit me to stand upon the formality of a
message to know how you are engaged; but I break in upon you, even in
my riding-dress, as you see."
"Dear Sir, you are very obliging. But I have no notion of _mere_
formalities of this kind"--(How unpolite this, my dear, in your
friend?)--"in a married state, since 'tis impossible a virtuous wife
can be employed about any thing that her husband may not know, and so
need not fear surprises."
"I am glad to hear you say this, my Pamela; for I have always thought
the extraordinary civilities and distances of this kind which I have
observed among several persons of rank, altogether unaccountable. For
if they are exacted by the lady, I should suspect she had reserves,
which she herself believed I could not approve. If not exacted,
but practised of choice by the gentleman, it carries with it, in my
opinion, a false air of politeness, little less than affrontive to
the lady, and dishonourable to himself; for does it not look as if
he supposed, and allowed, that she might be so employed that it was
necessary to apprise her of his visit, lest he should make discoveries
not to her credit or his own?"
"One would not, Sir" (for I thought his conclusion too severe),
"make such a harsh supposition as this neither: for there are little
delicacies and moments of retirement, no doubt, in which a modest lady
would wish to be indulged by the tenderest husband."
"It may be so in an _early_ matrimony, before the lady's confidence in
the honour and discretion of the man she has chosen has disengaged her
from her bridal reserves."
"Bridal reserves, dear Sir! permit me to give it as my humble opinion,
that a wife's behaviour ought to be as pure and circumspect,
in degree, as that of a bride, or even of a maiden lady, be her
confidence in her husband's honour and discretion ever so great. For,
indeed, I think a gross or a careless demeanour little becomes that
modesty which is the peculiar excellency and distinction of our sex."
"You account very well, my dear, by what you now say for your own
over-nice behaviour, as I have sometimes thought it. But are we not
all apt to argue for a practice we make our own, because we _do_ make
it our own, rather than from the reason of the thing?"
"I hope, Sir, that is not the present case with me; for, permit me to
say, that an over-free or negligent behaviour of a lady in the married
state, must be a mark of disrespect to her consort, and would shew as
if she was very little solicitous about what appearance she made in
his eye. And must not this beget in him a slight opinion of her sex
too, as if, supposing the gentleman had been a free liver, she would
convince him there was no other difference in the sex, but as they
were within or without the pale, licensed by the law, or acting in
defiance of it?"
"I understand the force of your argument, Pamela. But you were going
to say something more."
"Only, Sir, permit me to add, that when, in my particular case, you
enjoin me to appear before you always dressed, even in the early part
of the day, it would be wrong, if I was less regardful of my behaviour
and actions, than of my appearance."
"I believe you are right, my dear, if a precise or unnecessary
scrupulousness be avoided, and where all is unaffected, easy, and
natural, as in my Pamela. For I have seen married ladies, both in
England and France, who have kept a husband at a greater distance than
they have exacted from some of his sex, who have been more entitled to
his resentment, than to his wife's intimacies.
"But to wave a subject, in which, as I can with pleasure say, neither
of us have much concern, tell me, my dearest, how you were employed
before I came up? Here are pen and ink: here, too, is paper, but it is
as spotless as your mind. To whom were you directing your favours now?
May I not know your subject?"
Mr. H.'s letter was a part of it; and so I had put it by, at his
approach, and not choosing he should see that--"I am writing," replied
I, "to Miss Darnford: but I think you must not ask me to see what I
have written _this_ time. I put it aside that you should not, when
I heard your welcome step. The subject is our parting with our noble
guests; and a little of my apprehensiveness, on an occasion upon which
our sex may write to one another; but, for some of the reasons we have
been mentioning, gentlemen should not desire to see."
"Then I will not, my dearest love." (So here, my dear, is another
instance--I could give you an hundred such--of his receding from his
own will, in complaisance to mine.) "Only," continued he, "let me warn
you against too much apprehensiveness, for your own sake, as well as
mine; for such a mind as my Pamela's I cannot permit to be
habitually over-clouded. And yet there now hangs upon your brow an
over-thoughtfulness, which you must not indulge."
"Indeed, Sir, I was a little too thoughtful, from my subject, before
you came; but your presence, like the sun, has dissipated the mists
that hung upon my mind. See you not," and I pressed his hand with my
lips, "they are all gone already?" smiling upon him with a delight