« PreviousContinue »
whatever be the event. Your answer to my first objection, I must confess, is satisfactory. I wish I could say so of the others; but I find that if I must comply, I shall be obliged to trust the remainder to yourself. Perhaps this is always the case, and even the most cautious have been deceived. However, sir, I have communicated the contents of your letter to her ladyship, as you know she has been to me as a parent. She has not any objection, and I am at last resolved to comply. I must give myself up to you as a poor friendless orphan, and shall endeavour to act consistent with the rules laid down and enforced by our holy religion ; and if you should so far deviate from the paths of virtue as to upbraid me with poverty, I have no friends to complain to but that God who is the Father to the fatherless. But I have a better opinion of you than to entertain any such fears. I have left the time to your own appointment, and let me beg that you will continue in the practice of that virtuous education which you lave received. Virtue is its own reward, and I cannot be unhappy with the man who prefers the duties of religion to gaiety and dissipation.
I am yours sincerely,
LETTER C. From a young Ladg to a Gentleman, complaining
of Indifference. Sir,—However light you may make of promises, yet I am foolish enough to consider them as something more than trifles; and am likewise induced to believe that the man who voluntarily breaks a promise, will not pay much regard to an oath ; and if so, in what light must I consider your conduct ? Did I not give you my promise to be yours, and had you no other reason for soliciting, than merely to
gratify your vanity! a brutal gratification indeed, to triumph over the weakness of a woman, whose greatest fault was, that she loved you. I say loved you ; for it was in consequence of that passion I first consented to become yours. Has your conduct, sir, been consistent with my submission, or with your own solemn profession ? is it consistent with the character of a gentleman, first to obtain a woman's consent, and afterwards brag that he discarded her, and found one more agreeable to his wishes ! Do not equivocate, I have too convincing proofs of your insincerity ; I saw you yesterday walking with Miss Benson, and am informed that you have proposed marriage to her. Whatever you may think, sir, I have a spirit of disdain, and even resentment, equal to your ingratitude, and can treat the wretch with a proper indifference, who can make so slight a matter of the most solemn promises. Miss Benson may be your wife, but she will receive into her arms a perjured husband ; nor can ever the superstructure be lasting, which is built on such a foundation. I leave you to the stings of your own conscience. I am the injured.
The Gentleman's Answer. My Dear Angel,-For by that name I must still call you : has cruelty entered into your tender nature, or has some designing wretch imposed on your credulity ? My dear, I am not what you have represented ; I am neither false nor perjured,-1 never proposed marriage to Miss Benson,- I never designed it ; and my sole reason for walking with her was, that I had been on a visit to her brother, who you know is my attorney. And was it any fault in me to take a walk into the fields along with him
and his sister ? surely prejudice itself cannot say so; but I am afraid you have been imposed on by some designing person, who had private views and private ends to answer by such baseness. But whatever may have been the cause, I am entirely innocent; and to convince you of my sincerity, beg that the day of marriage may be next week. My affections never so much as wander from the dear object of my love : in you are centred all my hopes of felicity ; with you only can I be happy. Keep me not in misery one moment longer, by entertaining groundless jealousies against one who loves you in a manner superior to the whole of your sex; and I can set at defiance even malice itself. Let me beg your answer by my servant, which will either make me happy or miserable. I have sent a small parcel by the bearer, which I hope you will accept as a convincing proof of my integrity; and am,
Yours for ever.
LETTER CII. From a Young Officer, ordered to his regiment in
Minorca, to a young Lady whom he courted. My dear,—I am scarce able to hold the pen. An order has just now arrived from the war-office, by which I am obliged to set sail to-morrow for Minorca, without having the happiness of seeing my angel. What unhappiness to us, and devastation among the human race, has the ambition of princes, and the perfidiousness of ministers occasioned ! husbands obliged to leave their beloved wives, and dear little children ; every relation is broken, and we may well say with Addison,
What havoc has ambition made!
But what is this to my present purpose ! like all others in a state of distraction, I m obliged to
write nonsense, if any thing can be so called where the name of my charmer is found. Did you know, my dear, what a struggle I have between love and duty, you would consider me as an object of compassion. I am bound, by the most solemn oaths, to be yours : and at the same time, duty obliges me to draw my sword in defence of the just rights of my lawful prince, and injured country; and whatever dangers may await for me, I would meet them with the greatest cheerfulness, were I sure of possessing one place in your heart. But why do I say one, I must have all or none : I cannot bear the most distant thoughts that you would place your affections on another. No, my dear, were that to happen, I would act the part of General Campbell at the fatal battle of Fontenoy, by rushing on the sword of the enemy, to put an end to a weary existence. I should cheerfully lay down my life, which would be of small value, where I to be separated for ever from you. But why do I doubt? I know my charmer is as virtuous as she is beautiful, and that nothing but my own conduct can ever make her discard me; but is not absence death to those who love ? However, I have the pleasing reflection yet left, that whilst I am in a distant part of the world attending my duty, I shall be remembered by her, whose prayers for my preservation will be acceptable to that God who loves virtue, and who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. Nothing in this world can ever be so dear to me as you are. Believe all I say, and I am happy. If I do any thing that may appear wrong, inform me of it, and it shall be my first care to confess my fault and amend. I desire your advice in every thing ; but alas ! separation will render it difficult though not impossible. Not having had time to settle with our agent, I llave
left an order with my mother for that purpose.Let me beg that you will honour her with a visit, she will esteem it as a respect shewn to me. have often told you what an excellent woman she is, and I am fully persuaded you will find her so, yea, more so than I have ever mentioned. We are to stop at Gibraltar, where I hope to have a letter from you. If it comes too late, the governor will forward it to Minorca. Once more, my dear, farewell ; continue to be mine, and all the vicissitudes and dangers of war will appear as trifles ; and when peace shall again bless the nations, I will fly on the wings of love to the arms of my dearest angel, and spend with her the remainder of my days.
I am your sincere lover.
The Lady's Answer. Dear Charles,—If your hand could scarcely hold tne pen, I am afraid this will appear unintelligible, being wet with tears from beginning to end. When your letter arrived, we were drinking tea, and my father reading the newspaper, wherein it was said, that all the officers in the army were ordered to join their regiments ; I was a good deal alarmed, but some hopes remained, till the fatal letter convinced me that my suspicions were but too wellfounded. Alas! how vain are human expectations ! in the morning we dream of happiness, and before evening are really miserable. I was promising to myself that one month would have joined our hands, and now we are separated perhaps for years, if not for ever. For how do I know but the next post may bring me an account of your being killed in battle, and then farewell every thing in this world. My pleasing prospecst will then vanish, and although