« VorigeDoorgaan »
upon her countenance. I rejoiced at that rank and fortune of which I was possessed, as giving me the power of making Cordelia happy, and of raising her to a station less unworthy her distinguished merit and accomplishments. The lady with whom she lived gave me every, opportunity. I could wish of cultivating a more intimate acquaintance, and showing the sincerity of my attachment; nor did her mother seem averse to the connexion, though there was, at times, an anxious solicitude in her countenance at those approaches to the familiarity which I had been accustomed to indulge, þoth in manner and conversation, among my female acquaintance; a habit which the sincerity of my passion for Cordelia could not, at all times repress. Cordelia herself always received me with affability; and though I could not pretend to discover any partiality in my favour, I attributed this to her compliance with the cautious prudence of a mother, which would be removed by an open declaration of my attachment, and a proposal of marriage in form.
Desirous to interest the mother in my favour, I made my first application to her, convinced that she could not hesitate to approve of a match which was so favourable in point of fortune. Contrary to my hopes she at once referred me to her daughter, with an observation in which there was more truth than politeness : “ That, being the person principally interested, she was the first to be applied to.' Having endeavoured to make an apology for this part of my conduct, of which a better notion of female delicacy than was to be acquired among my former companions had taught me the impropriety, I was shown into Cordelia's dressing-room; where, after a short pause, I entered on the purpose of my visit, and made offer of myself and fortune, with
all the ardor which the strength and sincerity of my passion inspired, and with all the attention that was due to her beauty and accomplishments. She heard me, not without emotion; and, as she seemed unable to give an immediate answer, I interpreted her silence favourably; and, seizing her hand, pressed my suit with all the earnestness of which I was capable. She soon recovered her tranquillity, and withdrawing her hand, answered with her usual unaffected modesty, but with a firmness I had never before observed, . That she was obliged to me for my favourable opinion; but as our affections were not in our power, and as the mode of life to which I had been accustomed was little suited to her inclinations, or to create that respect for the sex which she hoped to find in a husband, it was impossible I could ever be her’s.' In vain did I join with her in blaming my past conduct; in vain did I assure her of the settled purpose I had formed to alter my mode of life: that I had actually done so; that as all my wishes were centered in an union with her, it should be the future business of my life to promote her happiness. She remained inflexible ; she doubted not, she said, the sincerity of my intentions ; but her resolution was taken ; and she repeatedly assured me, that her motives made it unalterable. Some of the family coming in, I retired a state of mind which I shall not attempt to describe.
This incident, Mr. MIRROR, has made me look into myself, into my past conduct, and into the errors or misfortunes, call them by what name you please, which have been the chief cause of my present anxiety and uneasiness. That I was the heir of an opulent fortune, was no fault of mine ; neither can I be answerable for having succeeded to it at the early age of eighteen, when the passions were contending for gratification, when the means were in
my power, and novelty heightened the enjoyment.
The societies I frequented were composed of the first names of the kingdom, both for rank and fortune; our knowledge of men was not confined to the narrow circle of our own country; we were acquainted with the faces of the principal potentates of Europe, and with those of many of their ministers; we could discourse of music and painting in the language of a connoisseur, and re-echo the opinions we had heard of the most celebrated singers of Florence, Naples, and Rome. Was I to blame for accommodating myself to the established manners of my country, in that rank of life to which I belonged ? Even the attention that was paid to my education, before the death of an excellent father, has been a source of misfortune; it can only be from the impressions I then received, that I acquired a confused idea of a conduct more becoming a being who found himself capable of reasoning and reflection. This idea often obtruded itself in the hours of languor and inactivity, and sometimes even imbittered the cup of enjoyment. Restrained, for a time by those habits which remain after the passions that produced them are extinguished, I at last found means to break the charm, and to form plans of rational and domestic enjoyment. Disappointed in these, I feel the most poignant regret that I was not born a younger brother, and compelled to seek that distinction from merit which I enjoyed from fortune; or that my father had not allowed me to remain equally ignorant and uncultivated as the generality of my companions, whose affections centre in themselves, whose ambition consists in frequenting the best company, and whose knowledge is confined to the kitchen or the gamingtable. Displeased with myself, disgusted with the world, and rejected by Cordelia, I am preparing to sink at once into retirement and oblivion. What
my occupations are to be, I know not; a hundred schemes have been formed and rejected. If it be in your power to suggest any thing I can steadily adhere to, and which will make me less contemptible in my own eyes, you will do good to one ; but if you can exhibit in your MIRROR a preventive to the errors by which I have been undone, you may do good to thousands.
“ I am, &c.
No. 68. SATURDAY, JANUARY 1, 1780.
I can make speeches in the senate too, Nacky.
OTWAY'S VENICE PRESERVED.
One morning during my late visit to Mr. Umphraville, as that gentleman, his sister, and I, were sitting at breakfast, my old friend John came in, and delivered a sealed card to his master. After putting on his spectacles, and reading it with attention,* Ay,' said Umphraville, this is one of your modern improvements. I remember the time when one neighbour could have gone to dine with another without any fuss or ceremony; but now, forsooth, you must announce your intention so many days before; and, by and bye, I suppose, the intercourse between two country gentlemen will be carried on with the same stiffness of ceremonial that
prevails among your little German princes. Sister, you must prepare a feast on Thursday ; Colonel Plum
says, he intends to have the honour of waiting on us.'— Brother,' replied Miss Umphraville, you know we don't deal in giving feasts; but if Colonel Plum can dine on a plain dinner, without his foreign dishes and French sauces, I can promise him a bit of good mutton, and hearty welcome.'
On the day appointed, Colonel Plum arrived, and, along with him, the gay, the sprightly, Sir Bobby Button, who had posted down to the country to enjoy two days' shooting at Colonel Plum's, where he arrived just as that gentleman was setting out for Mr. Umphraville's. Sir Bobby, always easy, and who, in every society, is the same, protested against the Colonel's putting off his visit, and declared he would be happy to attend him.
Though I had but little knowledge of Sir Bobby, I was perfectly acquainted with his character; but to Umphraville he was altogether unknown, and I promised myself some amusement from the contrast of two persons so opposite in sentiments, in manner, and in opinions. When he was presented, I observed Umphraville somewhat struck with his dress and figure; in both which, it must be owned, he resembled a monkey of a larger size. Sir Bobby, however, did not allow him much time to contemplate his external appearance; for he immediately, without any preparation or apology, began to attack the old gentleman on the bad taste of his house, and of every thing about it. Why the devil,' said he, don't you enlarge your windows, and cut down those damned hedges and trees that spoil your lawn so miserably? If you would allow me, I would undertake, in a week's time, to give you a clever place. This is, for all the world, just such a chateau as my friend Lord Lord
the finest fellow on earth, succeeded to last year by the death of an uncle, a queer old
, you know