« PreviousContinue »
to inquire of my aunt concerning your character and family. You must excuse me when I tell you, that I am obliged to decline making any such inquiry. However, as your behaviour, when in my company, was always agreeable, I shall treat you with as much respect as is consistent with common decorum. My worthy guardian Mr. Melvil, is now at his seat in Devonshire, and his conduct to me has been so much like that of a parent, that I don't choose to take one step in an affair of such importance, without both his consent and approbation. There is an appearance of sincerity runs through your letter ; but there is one particular to which I have a very strong objection, it is this : you say that you live along with your mother, yet you don't say you have either communicated your sentiments to her, or to your other relations. I must freely and honestly tell you, that as I would not disoblige my own relations, so neither would l, on any consideration, admit of any addresses contrary to the inclination of yours. If you can clear up this to my satisfaction, I shall send you a more explicit answer, and am, sir,-Your most obedient humble servant.
LETTER LXX. The Gentleman's Answer to the above. Dear Madan,-I return you a thousand thanks for your letter, and it is with the greatest pleasure that I can clear up to your satisfaction that matter you doubted of. Before I wrote to
I nicated the affair to my two cousins, but had not courage sufficient to mention it to my mother : however, that is now over, and nothing, she says, would give her greater pleasure, than to see me married to a young lady of your amiable character : nay, so far is she from having any objections, that she would have waited on you as the bearer of this, had I not persuaded her against it, as she has been these three days afflicted with a severe cold, and I was afraid, that if she had ventured abroad so soon, it might be attended with dangerous consequences. But, to convince you of my sincerity, she has sent the enclosed, written with her own hand, and whatever may be the contents, I solemnly assure you, that I am totally ignorant, except that she told me it was in approbation of my suit. If you will give me leave to wait on you, I shall then be able to explain things more particularly.
I am, dear madam, your real lover.
LETTER LXXI. From the young Gentleman's Mother, to the young
Lady. Dear Miss-If you find any thing in these lines improperly written, you will candidly excuse it, as coming from the hands of a parent, in behalf of an only beloved and dutiful son.
My dear Charles has told me that you have made such an impression on him, that he knows not how to be happy in any one else, and it gives me great happiness to find that he has placed his affections on so worthy an object. Indeed it has been my principal study to instruct him in the principles of our holy religion ; well knowing that those who do not fear God, will never pay any regard to domestic duties. His dear father died when his son was only ten months old, and being deprived of the parent, all my consolation was that I had his image left in the son. I nursed him with all the tenderness possible, and even taught him to read and write. When he was of proper age I sent him to a boardingschool, and afterwards to the university. Whilst he
was prosecuting his studies, I was constantly employed in recommending him to the care of that God whose eyes behold all his creatures, and will reward and punish according to their merit. Ever since his return from Oxford, he has resided constantly with me, and his conduct to every one with whom he has had any connexion, hath been equal to my utmost wishes. At present, my dear Miss, I. am in a very sickly condition, and although I have concealed it from him, yet, in all human probability, my time in this world will not be long. Excuse the indulgent partiality of a mother, when I tell you, that it is my real opinion, you can never place your affections on a more worthy young man than my son. He is endowed with more real worth than thousands of others whom I have known ; and I have been told of instances of his benevolence which he has industriously concealed. I have only to add further, that the only worldly consideration now upon my mind is to see him happily married, and then my whole attention shall be fixed on that place where I hope to enjoy eternal felicity. I am, dear Miss, your sincere well-wisher.
The young Lady's Answer. Madam,I will excuse the fondness of a tender mother for her only child. Before I received yours, I had heard an account of your unaffected piety, and the many accomplishments of your son ; so that I was no ways surprised at what you say concerning him. I do assure you, madam, that I would prefer an alliance with you before even nobility itself, and I think it must be my own fault if ever I repent calling you mother. I was going to say that you had known but few pleasures in this
life to be deprived of your husband so soon, and the rest of your life spent under so many infirmities. But your letter convinces me, that you have felt more real pleasure in the practice of virtue and resignation to the divine will, than ever can be had in any, nay, even the greatest temporal enjoyments. I have sent enclosed a few lines to your son, to which I refer you for a more explicit answer, and am,—Madam, your sincere well-wisher.
LETTER LXXIII. The young Lady's Answer to her Lover. Sir,- I received yours, together with one enclosed from your mother, and congratulate you on the happiness you have had in being brought up under so pious, so indulgent a parent. I hope that her conduct will be a pattern for you to copy after, in the whole of your future life ; it is virtue alone, sir, which can make you happy. With respect to myself, I freely acknowledge that I have not at present any reason to reject your offer, although I cannot give you a positive answer until I have first consulted with my guardian. Monday next I set out for his seat in Devonshire, from whence you may be sure of hearing from me as soon as possible, and am,-Your sincere well-wisher.
From the same. Sir,—In my last I told you that you should hear from me as soon as possible, and therefore I now sit down to fulfil my promise. I communicated your proposal to Mr. Melvill, who, after he had written to his correspondent in London, told me as follows :
“ Miss, I have inquired concerning the young gentleman, and the information I have received is such, that I not only approve of your choice, but must also confess, that if I did not do every thing in my power to forward your union, I should be acting contrary to the request of your father when he lay on his death-bed. You may, said he, cornmunicate this to your lover as soon as you please, and may happiness attend you both in time and in eternity.”
And now sir, have I not told you enough ? some might think too much ; but I am determined to begin with as much sincerity as I could practice if standing in the presence of my Maker. To expect the same from you is reasonable : I look for it, and shall be very unhappy if disappointed. But I will hope the best, and doubt not but the religious education bestowed on you by your worthy mother, will operate in the whole of your future conduct in life. You may, therefore, lay aside the tedious formality of courtship, and write to me as one with whom you intend to spend your time in this world.
Ever since my arrival here, my time has been spent in visiting, solus, the woods, the fields, and cottages, meditating on the unbounded goodness of the Almighty Creator. How infinite is his wisdom, how unbounded his liberality ; every thing in nature conspires to exalt his praise, and acknowledge with gratitude their dependence on him. But I will not tire you with such dull descriptions of real beauties. Present my sincere respects to your worthy mother. I hope she gets the better of her disorder, and be assured that I am,
Yours and hers, with the greatest affection.