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As to your objection concerning disparity of age, I do not think it has any great weight, and upon the whole, I have but one reason against your union, and that is, that there is nothing more precarious than commerce, and the merchant who to-day has unlimited credit, may be to-morrow in the gazette, I do not urge this in order to prevent your happiness ; but only that, whilst you are free, you may take such measures as to secure a sufficiency against the worst. I would by no means dissuade you from complying with his request, as he seems every way worthy of your choice, and I really think it may be for your mutual happiness. These, dear sister, are my sentiments concerning this affair ; but remember I leave it entirely to yourself, not doubting but you will proceed with the same prudence you have begun.
I am your affectionate brother. P.S.--1 would advise you to write to the young gentleman as soon as possible.
LETTER LXXX From the Lady to Mr. Morton. Sir,– I received your letter, and my reason for delaying an answer was, that I wanted first to consult my brother, whose opinion I had by the post yesterday. I freely acknowledge, that you are far from being disagreeable, and the advantage on your part with respect to accomplishments are, I think, superior to those on mine. But these are but small matters when compared with what is absolutely necessary to make the marriage state happy ; I mean an union of minds. Neither of us have had many opportunities of conversing together, and when we had, you did not mention any thing of this. I have no objection against marrying, were I assured of being no worse than at present, but there are such a variety of unforeseen accidents daily happening in this world, and all conspiring together to promote dissensions in families, that we can never be too careful how to fix our choice. I shall not, sir, from what I have seen of your behaviour and heard of your character, have any objection against your request ; but I confess I am afraid you have rather been too precipitate in your choice, and although my person may have engaged your attention, yet I am afraid all those charms you so much extol, are not sufficient to keep you loyal to the marriage vow. But I will hope the best, and believe you as virtuous as you are represented ; nor give my hand to any other but you. In the meantime, I shall be glad to hear that you continue your visits to my brother ; you will find him one of the most worthy persons you ever conversed with, and much esteemed for his knowledge in the law. I have now given you leave to write as often as you please, as I hope all your letters will be agreeable : and as for the time fixed for any thing else, I shall leave it entirely to be settled by yourself and my brother, and am, dear sir,—Yours sincerely.
LETTER LXXXI. From a young Gentleman, in expectation of an es
tate from his penurious Uncle, to a young Lady of small Fortune, desiring her to elope with him to Scotland.
My dear Maria,—My uncle's laying his injunctions upon me to see you no more, has only served to add fuel to my passion. I cannot live without you, and if you persist in refusing to comply, I am miserable for ever. I pay no regard to his threatenings, when put in competition with the love I have for you. Don't be afraid of poverty : if he should continue inexorable, I have still education sufficient to procure a genteel eroployment in one of the public offices, where I may rise to preferment. Therefore, if ever you loved me, let me beg that you will not make me any longer unhappy. Let me entreat you by all that's dear, that you will comply with my request, and meet me at six on Sunday evening, at the back door of the garden, where a chaise and four will be ready. I will fiy on the wings of love to meet my charmer, and be happy in her embraces for ever.-I am your dear lover.
The Lady's prudent Answer. Sir,—Though thoroughly conscious in this act I make a breach of those laws said to be laid down for lovers, especially such of our sex as would rather be celebrated for a romantic turn of mind, than for what is far more preferable, a prudent decorum, yet I cannot be persuaded but there may occur such a crisis, as may make it consistent with the strictest rules of honour and justice ; which at least ought to be put in the balance, if not outweigh, whatever custom may have prescribed. That such a crisis now exists, your letter and former concurring testimonies make manifest. For I have too high an opinion of your integrity to doubt their truth; and believe me, when I assure you most solemnly, I place their validity to that account, and not to a mistaken notion or consciousness of my own merit. No, sir, 'tis from a too sensible conviction of your own injurious error of your passion, I have been induced to commit this violence to my sex-I had almost made my sentiments conjure you to desist, ere it be too late, in the pursuit of a passion, that cannot but bring with it a train of inevitable mise. ries, since it must be attended with the violation of your duty to that relation to whom you are bound to pay implicit obedience, by the laws of nature, gratitude, and heaven. I will not offend your delicay, in urging those of interest and dependency, though each consideration ought to have its prevalence, against making a sacrifice of it to an impetuous passion for one, whose single desert is, that she dreads your indigence more than she regrets that of the-Unfortunate.
LETTER LXXXIII. From a young Officer in the Army, to a Gentle
man's Daughter, with whom he is in Love. Dear Sophia,—When our regiment received orders to march from Salisbury, I was almost in a state of distraction. To be forced to leave her who is already in possession of my heart, and separated to such a distance, had almost induced me to give up my commission ; nor have I any resource left but that of the pen, After a long and tedious march we arrived here, where we are to remain till
But alas ! how insignificant are all the allurements of the place, and the gaiety of fellow-officers, when compared with the pleasing moments spent in your company? How long, my dear, must I be unhappy? will not your sympathising nature pity my distracted mind ? how lamenting the thought, that whilst I am writing this, some more fortunate lover may be making his addresses to my charmer, and even obtaining a place in her heart ! But what am I saying? whither does my delirium drive me? no, my angel ! I know the generosity of your nature. I dare not suspect your sincerity, and will still believe you are mine. The principal
gentlemen in Manchester invited the officers of our regiment to a ball, and all but myself considered the entertainment as a very great honour ; each danced with his partner, as I was told. In order to avoid the company without giving offence, I mounted guard for the day, and enjoyed myself, either thinking of you, or conversing with the soldiers.
According to my promise, I have sent this enclosed to your father, and I doubt not of his being surprised, unless you have mentioned it to him. i am impatient for his answer as well as yours. My uncle has promsed to procure me preferment as soon as the parliament meets. Adieu, my charmer, let me hear from you immediately.
I am yours for ever. LETTER LXXXIV. The Officer's Letter to the Lady's Father. Honoured Sir,--Your generosity to me whilst our regiment lay at Salisbury, will ever lay me under the highest obligations : but at present I have something of a more important nature to communicate, upon which all my happiness or misery in this world depends, and your answer will either secure the one or hasten the other.
The many amiable accomplishments of your beloved Sophia, stole insensibly on my heart, and I found myself passionately in love, before I was able to make a declaration of my sentiments, nor did I do it until the day we were ordered to march. I hope you will forgive my not mentioning it to you ; I was really so much agitated as scarce to be able to attend my duty. I doubt not but one of your sensibility knows what it is to be in love. Your daughter, I freely acknowledge, is adorned with so many virtues, that she is entitled to the best husband in