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owed to her sex and to herself, were Mr. Lovelace as unexceptionable in his morals as in his figure, and were he to urge his suit ever so warmly.”
I was not of her council. I was still absent. And it was agreed upon between my aunt Hervey and her, that she was to be quite solemn and shy in his next visit, if there were not a peculiarity in his address to her.
But my sister it seems had not considered the matter well. This was not the way to be taken with a man of Mr. Lovelace's penetration. Nor with any man ; since if love has not taken root deep enough to cause it to shoot out into declaration, if an opportunity be fairly given for it, there is little room to expect that the blighting winds of anger or resentment will bring it forward.
How they managed it in their next conversation I know not. One would be tempted to think by the issue, that Mr. Lovelace was ungenerous enough to seek the occasion given, and to improve it. Yet he thought fit to put the question too. But, she says, it was not till, by some means or other (she knew not how), he had wrought her up to such a pitch of displeasure with him, that it was impossible for her to recover herself at the instant. Nevertheless he reurged his question, as expecting a definitive answer, without waiting for the return of her temper, or endeavouring to mollify her; so that she was under a necessity of persisting in her denial; yet gave him reason to think she did not dislike his address, only the manner of it.
And thus, as Mr. Lovelace thought fit to take it, had he his answer from my sister. It was with very great regret, as he pretended (I doubt the man is an hypocrite, my dear), that he acquiesced in it. “So much determinedness; such a noble firmness in my sister, that there was no hope of prevailing upon her to alter sentiments she had adopted on full consideration.” He sighed, as Bella told us, when he took his leave o ker. “Profoundly sighed-grasped her hand, and kissed it with such an ardour-withdrew with such an air of solemn respect she had him then before her. She could almost find in her heart, although he had vexed her, to pity him.” She little thought that he would not renew his offer.
He waited on my mother after he had taken leave of Bella, and reported his ill success in so respectful a manner, as well with regard to my sister as to the whole family, and with so much concern, that it left upon them all impressions in his favour, and a belief that this matter would certainly be brought on again. But Mr. Lovelace going up directly to town, where he stayed a whole fortnight, and meeting there with my uncle Antony, to whom he regretted his niece's cruel resolution not to change her state, it was seen that there was a total end of the affair.
My sister was not wanting to herself on this occasion. She made a virtue of necessity; and the man was quite another man with her. “A vain creature! A steady man, a man of virtue, a man of morals, was worth a thousand of such gay flutterers. Her sister Clary might think it worth her while perhaps to try to engage such a man. She had patience. She was mistress of persuasion; and indeed, to do the girl justice, had something of a person. But as for her, she would not have a man of whose heart she could not be sure for one moment; no, not for the world : and most sincerely glad was she that she had rejected him."
But when Mr. Lovelace returned into the country, he thought fit to visit my father and mother, hoping, as he told them, that, however unhappy he had been in the rejection of the wished-for alliance, he might be allowed to keep up an acquaintance and friendship with a family which he should always respect. And then, unhappily as I may say, was I at home and present.
It was immediately observed that his attention was fixed on me. My sister, as soon as he was gone, in a spirit of
man, and of such a while perhaps
bravery, seemed desirous to promote his address, should it be tendered.
My aunt Hervey was there, and was pleased to say we should make the finest couple in England, if my sister had no objection. “No, indeed!” with a haughty toss, was my sister's reply. It would be strange if she had, after the denial she had given him upon full deliberation.
My mother declared that her only dislike of his alliance with either daughter was on account of his reputed faulty morals.
My uncle Harlowe, that his daughter Clary, as he delighted to call me from childhood, would reform him if any woman in the world could.
My uncle Antony gave his approbation in high terms; but referred, as my aunt had done, to my sister.
She repeated her contempt of him, and declared that were there not another man in England she would not have him. She was ready, on the contrary, she could assure them, to resign her pretensions under hand and seal, if Miss Clary were taken with his tinsel; and if every one else approved of his address to the girl.
My father, indeed, after a long silence, being urged by my uncle Antony to speak his mind, said that he had a letter from his son, on his hearing of Mr. Lovelace's visits to his daughter Arabella ; which he had not shown to anybody but my mother; that treaty being at an end when he received it; that in this letter he expressed great dislike to an alliance with Mr. Lovelace on the score of his immoralities ; that he knew, indeed, there was an old grudge between them; but that, being desirous to prevent all occasions of disunion and animosity in his family, he would suspend the declaration of his own mind till his son arrived, and till he had heard his further objections ; that he was the more inclined to make his son this compliment, as Mr. Lovelace's general character gave but too much ground for his son's dislike of him.
These particulars I had partly from my aunt Hervey, and partly from my sister; for I was called out as soon as the subject was entered upon. When I returned, my uncle Antony asked me how I should like Mr. Lovelace. Everybody saw, he was pleased to say, that I had made a conquest.
I immediately answered that I did not like him at all. He seemed to have too good an opinion both of his person and parts, to have any great regard to his wife, let him marry whom he would.
My sister particularly was pleased with this answer, and confirmed it to be just, with a compliment to my judgment-for it was hers.
But the very next day Lord M. came to Harlowe Place (I was then, absent), and in his nephew's name made a proposal in form, declaring that it was the ambition of all his family to be related to ours; and he hoped his kinsman would not have such an answer on the part of the younger sister as he had had on that of the elder.
In short, Mr. Lovelace's visits were admitted as those of a man who had not deserved disrespect from our family; but as to his address to me, with a reservation, as above, on my father's part, that he would determine nothing without his son. My discretion as to the rest was confided in; for still I had the same objections as to the man ; nor would I, when we were better acquainted, hear anything but general talk from him, giving him no opportunity of conversing with me in private.
But this indifference on my side was the means of procuring him one very great advantage, since upon it was grounded that correspondence by letters which succeeded, and which, had it been to be begun when the family animosity broke out, would never have been entered into on my part. The occasion was this :
My uncle Hervey has a young gentleman entrusted to his care, whom he has thoughts of sending abroad a year or two hence, to make the grand tour, as it is called; and, finding Mr. Lovelace could give a good account of everything necessary for a young traveller to observe upon such an occasion, he desired him to write down a description of the courts and countries he had visited, and what was most worthy of curiosity in them.
He consented, on condition that I would direct his subjects, as he called it; and as every one had heard his manner of writing commended, and thought his narratives might be agreeable amusements in winter evenings; and that he could have no opportunity particularly to address me in them, since they were to be read in full assembly before they were given to the young gentleman, I made the less scruple to write, and to make observations, and put questions for our further information ; still the less, perhaps, as I love writing; and those who do are fond, you know, of occasions to use the pen. And then, having every one's consent, and my uncle Hervey's desire that I would write, I thought that if I had been the only scrupulous person, it would have shown a particularity that a vain man might construe to his advantage, and which my sister would not fail to animadvert upon.
You have seen some of these letters, and have been pleased with his account of persons, places, and things; and we have both agreed that he was no common observer upon what he had seen.
My sister herself allowed that the man had a tolerable knack of writing and describing; and my father, who had been abroad in his youth, said that his remarks were curious, and showed him to be a person of reading, judgment, and taste.
Thus was a kind of correspondence begun between him and me, with general approbation, while every one wondered at, and was pleased with, his patient veneration of me; for so they called it. However, it was not doubted but he would soon be more importunate, since his visits were more frequent, and he acknowledged to my aunt