« VorigeDoorgaan »
easily bear its immediate profanation by obscenity. I therefore took the first opportunity of withdrawings which I was the more willing to do, as I found our wit possessed, in truth, only a chime of buffoonery, which, when he had rung out, he was forced to substitute the bottle in its place, the last joke he uttered being a reproof to our landlord for not pushing it about.
Now, Mr. Mirror, I must beg of you, or some of your well-instructed correspondents, to inform me, if in all, or any of those three societies, I was really and truly in good company ; as I confess I have entertained some doubts of their deserving that name. These, however, are probably the effects of ignorance, and a bookish education, in which I am very willing to be corrected from proper authority. I am, &c.
No. LXV. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 21.
TO THE AUTHOR OF THE MIRROR.
THE polite reception you have given to letters from several persons of my sex, emboldens me to address myself to you, and to lay before you a kind of distress, of which neither you, nor any of your predecessors, as far as I can recollect, have taken notice. It is, I believe, more common in this part of the united kingdom than in England. That circumstance, may, perhaps, account for its being overlooked by the writers of both countries ; in the one case, from its being almost unknown, and in the
other, from its being so common, that it has ceased to make any impression.
What I allude to, will be best understood from a short account I shall take the liberty to give of myself.
My father was a gentleman of considerable fortune, and, what he valued more, was descended from a very ancient family. In the earlier part of his life he had lived much abroad, and in consequence, I believe, of an attachment to the house of Stuart, had served some years in the French army. These circumstances, perhaps, contributed to increase his veneration for noble blood and old families.....Soon after he returned to his native country, he married Lady C........, only daughter of the Earl of ........, a woman who was justly deemed an ornament to her sex. She died before I had finished
year, leaving one son, about two years younger than myself.
My father, a man of warm affections and strong passions, seemed to exist but in her children. But for us, I have often heard him say, he could not have submitted to live. To our education he dedicated the whole of his time. My brother, whom he considered as the last stay of his family, he wished to render a worthy representative of it. Nor were his pains thrown away ; for never was there a more engaging youth ; and every year. seemed to add some new grace to his form, and some new accomplishment to his mind.
To me my father was all indulgence. He seemed to watch my wishes, in order to gratify them, before I could give them uiterance. It was his chief de sire to see me excel in every polite and fashionable accomplishment; and the education he gave me was proportionably elegant and expensive.
Soon after I had entered my twentieth year, my father was seized with a violent fit of illness. My brother, who was then at college, was immediately called home. My father lived but to see him; all he had power to say was to recommend me to his protection. “ In you, William," said the good old man,
Sophia will find a father, a brother, and a friend. « Without encumbering the family estate, I could
ake no suitable settlements on her ; but this “ gives me no uneasiness, when I reflect on your “ virtues, and your attachment to your sister.”
My brother, whose dispositions were all gentle and amiable, was much moved with this scene. After our father's death, his behaviour to me was full of attention and affection. He regretted that he was not of an age to make such settlements as would render me independent. “But why," would he add, 6 should I regret it?”....is not my fortune yours? 6 äs such I must insist that you will ever consider 66 it."
In a few months my brother set out on his travels. Our parting was full of tenderness, and his ? letters from abroad breathed the warmest sentiments 1. of friendship and of affection. After the common tour of France, Italy, and Germany, he went to Spa, with an intention to pass some weeks there, and then return to his native country. At Spa he met with the sister of Lord who soon engaged his affections so completely, that he offered her his hand. The marriage was speedily concluded; and soon after my brother and his wife arrived at his seat in
where I had resided almost constantly ever since he had gone abroad.
The looks and appearance of the lady prepossess; ed me strongly in her favour. She was beautiful : almost beyond any thing I had ever seen ; and though, perhaps, there was not in her countenance any expression strongly marked, there was, nevertheless, a gentleness and a sweetness in her whole deportment, joined with an elegance of manners,
that could not fail to please erery beholder. I observed, with pleasure, my brother's strong attachment to her, which, if possible, seemed daily to increase ; and I could not find fault with any littic want of attention to myself, when I saw that it proceeded from so amiable a motive, from affection to a lovely woman, to whom he was for ever united, and on whose happiness his own was for ever to depend.
It was my wish to live with my sister-in-law in terms of the strictest friendship; but with all my partiality in her favour, I could not help observing that I made little progress in obtaining any share of her confidence. Always polite and well-bred, it is true, but with a coldness that chilled every approach to openness, and every attempt to that freedom which is the truest mark of genuine friendship. For a while I thought that this might proceed from a reserved temper, sometimes to be found united with the best dispositions. But when I came to be more thoroughly acquainted with her character, I found that her mind was equally incapable of friendship as of love. Alive only to emotions of vanity and the pleasures of admiration, she was dead to every other sensation. How often have I seen her prefer the applause of the meanest and most contemptible of mankind, whom she herself despised, to the happiness of a man who doated on her to distraction, and to whom she was bound by every tie of gratitude and duty.
I was at the utmost pains to conceal, both from her and my brother, the alteration in
my sentiments which this discovery had produced; and I was not without hopes, that her natural good sense (for of sense she was by no means diestiiute) would, int time, prevail over this childish vanity, which made her appear in so ridiculous a light. It is, however, perhaps, impossible to live long, with a person of
whom we have conceived a mean or unfavourable opinion, without betraying it; or, what in effect is much the same, supposing that we have betrayed it. Whether she really perceived any alteration in my opinion of her, I cannot positively say ; but I thought her behaviour looked as if she had, and that she considered my presence as a restraint upon her. This idea, once awakened, the most trivial incidents served to confirm. I found my situation become daily more and more disagreeable, and I had already begun to think of quitting my brother's house, when my sister-in-law brought things to a crisis, by informing me that she and Mr. M...... on (naming my brother) intended to pass the ensuing winter at London ; adding, with an air of the most finished politeness, “ that, as she wished to keep up una constant correspondence with me during her 6 absence, she would be glad to know how to address 66 her letters." It is not easy to describe what passed in my mind on this occasion.
I took, however, my resolution at once, and determined to quit for ever, the family of a brother, whom, from my
earliest infancy, I had been accustomed to love and to esteem.
When I communicated my intentions to him, he seemed embarrassed, and, with a faultering voice, muttered something of his regret.........of his wishes that I should remain in his family; but it was in a manner too irresolute to have shaken a purpose much less decided than mine.
It is now ten years since I quitted my brother's house, and took up my abode in a paltry lodging in this city, where the interest of the small provision left me by my father, is just sufficient to furnish the necessaries of life to myself and a female domestic, who had lived long in my father's family, and insisted on attending me. As to inoney-matters, my brother, I am persuaded, would have been very