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match she had always protested as strongly, as a sense of duty, and the mildness of her nature, would allow; but Venoni was obstinately bent on the match, and she was wretched from the thoughts of it.
To marry, where one cannot love, to marry such a man, Sir Edward!- -It was an opportunity beyond his power of resistance. Sir Edward pressed her hand; said it would be profanation to think of such a marriage; praised her beauty, extolled her virtues; and concluded by swearing, that he adored her. She heard him with unsuspecting pleasure, which her blushes could ill conceal.-Sir Edward improved the favourable moment; talked of the ardency of his passion, the insignificancy of ceremonies and forms, the inefficacy of legal engage ments, the eternal duration of those dictated by love; and, in fine, urged her going off with him, to crown both their days with happiness. Louisa started at that proposal. She would have reproached him, but her heart was not made for it; she could only weep.
They were interrupted by the arrival of her father with his intended son-in-law. He was just such a man as Louisa had represented him, coarse, vulgar, and ignorant. But Venoni, though much above their neighbour in every thing but riches, looked on him as poorer men often look on the wealthy, and discovered none of his imperfections. He took his daughter aside, told her he had brought her future husband, and that he intended they should be married in a week at farthest.
Next morning Louisa was indisposed, and kept her chamber. Sir Edward was now perfectly recovered. He was engaged to go out with Venoni; but, before his departure, he took up his violin, and touched a few plaintive notes on it. They were heard by Louisa.
In the evening she wandered forth to indulge he sorrows alone. She had reached a sequestered spot, where some poplars formed a thicket, on the banks of a little stream that watered the valley. A nightingale was perched on one of them, and had already begun its accustomed song. Louisa sat down on a withered stump, leaning her cheek upon her hand. After a little while, the bird was scared from its perch, and flitted from the thicket. Louisa rose from the ground, and burst into tears? She turned-and beheld Sir Edward. His countenance had much of its former languor; and when he took her hand, he cast on the earth a melancholy look, and seemed unable to speak his feelings. • Are you not well, Sir Edward?' said Louisa, with a voice faint and broken. I am ill indeed,' said he, ‘but illness is of the mind. Louisa cannot cure me of that, I am wretched; but I deserve to be so. I have broken every law of hospitality, and every obligation of gratitude, I have dared to wish for happiness, and to speak what I wished, though it • wounded the heart of my dearest benefactress— but I will make a severe expiation. This moment I leave you, Louisa! I go to be wretched; but you may be happy, happy in your duty to a father, happy, it may be, in the arms of a husband, whom the possession of such a wife may teach refinement and sensibility-I go to my native country, to hurry through scenes of irksome business or taste• less amusement; that I may, if possible, procure a 'sort of half-oblivion of that happines which I have left behind, a listless endurance of that life which I once dreamed might be made delightful with 'Louisa.'
Tears were the only answer she could give. Sir Edward's servants appeared, with a carriage, ready for his departure. He took from his pocket two
pictures; one he had drawn of Louisa, he fastened round his neck, and kissing it with rapture, hid it in his bosom. The other he held out in a hesitating manner. This,' said he, if Louisa will accept of ' it, may sometimes put her in mind of him who once offended, who can never cease to adore her. She may look on it, perhaps, after the original is no more; when this heart shall have forgot to love, and cease to be wretched.'
Louisa was at last overcome.
Her face was first
pale as death; then suddenly it was crossed with a crimson blush. O Sir Edward!' said she, What -what would you have me do?'-He eagerly seized her hand, and led her, reluctant, to the carriage. They entered it, and driving off with furious speed, were soon out of sight of those hills which pastured the flocks of the unfortunate Venoni.
N° 109. TUESDAY, MAY 23, 1780.
THE virtue of Louisa was vanquished; but her sense of virtue was not overcome.-Neither the vows of eternal fidelity of her seducer, nor the constant and respectful attention which he paid her during a hurried journey to England, could allay that anguish which she suffered at the recollection of her past, and the thoughts of her present situation. Sir Edward felt strongly the power of her beauty and of her grief. His heart was not made for that part which, it is probable, he thought it could have performed: it was still subject to remorse, to com
passion, and to love. These emotions, perhaps, he might soon have overcome, had they been met by vulgar violence or reproaches; but the quiet and unupbraiding sorrows of Louisa nourished those feelings of tenderness and attachment. She never mentioned her wrongs in words; sometimes a few starting tears would speak them; and when time had given her a little more composure, her lute discoursed melancholy music.
On their arrival in England, Sir Edward carried Louisa to his seat in the country. There she was treated with all the observance of a wife; and had she chosen it, might have commanded more than the ordinary splendour of one. But she would not
allow the indulgence of Sir Edward to blazon with equipage, and shew that state which she wished always to hide, and if possible, to forget. Her books and her music were her only pleasures; if pleasures they could be called, that served but to alleviate misery, and to blunt, for a while, the pangs of con, trition,
These were deeply aggravated by the recollec tion of her father: a father left in his age to feel his own misfortunes and his daughter's disgrace. Sir Edward was too generous not to think of providing for Venoni. He meant to make some atonement for the injury he had done him by that cruel bounty which is reparation only to the base, but to the honest is insult. He had not, however, an oppor tunity of accomplishing his purpose. He learned that Venoni, soon after his daughter's elopement, removed from his former place of residence, and, as his neighbours reported, had died in one of the vil lages of Savoy. His daughter felt this with anguish the most poignant, and her affliction, for a while, refused consolation. Sir Edward's whole tenderness and attention were called forth to mitigate her
325 grief; and, after its first transports had subsided, he carried her to London, in hopes that objects new to her, and commonly attractive to all, might contribute to remove it.
With a man possessed of feelings like Sir Edward's, the affliction of Louisa gave a certain re spect to his attentions. He hired her a house separate from his own, and treated her with all the delicacy of the purest attachment. But his solicitude to comfort and amuse her was not attended with success. She felt all the horrors of that guilt, which she now considered as not only the ruin of herself, but the murderer of her father.
In London, Sir Edward found his sister, who had married a man of great fortune and high fashion. He had married her, because she was a fine woman, and admired by fine men; she had married him, because he was the wealthiest of her suitors. They lived, as is common to people in such a situation, necessitous with a princely revenue, and very wretched amidst perpetual gaiety. This scene was so foreign from the idea Sir Edward had formed of the reception his country and friends were to afford him, that he found a constant source of disgust in the society of his equals. In their conversation fantastic, not refined, their ideas were frivolous, and their knowledge shallow; and with all the pride of birth and insolence of station, their principles were mean and their minds ignoble. In their pretended attachments, he discovered only designs of selfishness; and their pleasures, he experienced, were as fallacious as their friendships. In the society of Louisa he found sensibility and truth; her's was the only heart that seemed interested in his welfare; she saw the return of virtue in Sir Edward, and felt the friendship which he shewed her. Sometimes when she perceived him sorrowful, her lute would