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of continually hurrying from place to place, without
I am, my dear,
recovery, written by your father. Ah ! thought I, my charmer is still weak, or she would not have employed another hand. This led me to fear a relapse ; but I hope that God, whose great mercy has preserved you hitherto, will perfect your recovery. You are constantly in my thoughts, and I pray for you every day. That I may once more be happy in seeing you, I have sent for my brother to manage my business during my absence. I expect him here in about three days, when nothing but sickness shall prevent my coming. You will receive by the coach a small parcel containing some of the newest patterns, both of silk and laces, together with some other things. Such trifles are scarce worth mentioning ; but I hope you will accept them as a testimony of my sincere love to her whom in a few months I hope to call my own. Present my duty to your honoured parents, and believe me to be, with the greatest sincerity,—Your ever affectionate lover.
LETTER XCVI. From a rich young Gentleman, to a beautiful young
Lady with no Fortune. Miss Sophia,- It is a general reflection against the manners of the present age, that marriage is only considered as one of those methods by which avarice may be satisfied, and poverty decreased ; that neither the character nor accomplishments of the woman are much regarded, her merit being estimated by the thousands of her fortune. I acknowledge that the accusation is too true, and to that may be ascribed many unhappy matches we daily meet with ; for how is it possible that those should ever have the same affection for each other, who were forced to comply with terms to which they had the utmost aversion, as if they had been allowed to
consult their own inclinations, and give their hands where they have engaged their hearts ! for my own part, I have been always determined to consult my inclinations, where there is the least appearance of happiness ; and having an easy independency, am not anxious about increasing it; being well convinced, that in all states the middle one is best, I mean, neither poverty nor riches ; which leads me to the discovery of a passion which I have long endeavoured to conceal.
The opportunities which I have had of conversing with you at Lady B.'s, have at last convinced me, that merit and riches are far from being connected, and that a woman may have those qualifications, necessary to adorn her sex, although adverse fortune has denied her money. I am sure that all those virtues necessary to make me happy in the marriage state are centred in you, and whatever objection you have to my person, yet I hope there can be none to my character ; if you will consent to be mine, it shall be my constant study to make your life agreeable, and under the endearing character of husband, endeavour to supply your early of the best of parents. I shall expect your answer as soon as possible, for I wait for it with the utmost impatience.—I am your affectionate lover.
The young Lady's Answer. Sir,—I received your letter yesterday, and gratitude for the generous proposal which you have made, obliges me to thank you heartily for the contents.
As I have no objection to either your person or character, you will give me leave to deal sincerely, and state those things which at present bear great
weight with me, and perhaps must ever remain unanswered, and hinder me from entering into that state against which I have not the least aversion.
You well know (at least I imagine so) that the proposal you have made to me, is a secret both to your relations and friends ; and would
desire me to rush precipitately into the marriage state, where I have the greatest reason to fear that I should be looked upon with contempt, by those whom nature had connected me with. should consider myself obliged to promote the happiness of my husband ; and how consistent would a step of that nature be with such a resolution? You know that I was left an orphan, and had it not been for the pious care of Lady B., must have been brought up in a state of servitude. You know that I have no fortune ; and were I to accept of your offer, it would lay me under such obligations as must destroy my liberty. Gratitude and love are two very different things. The one supposes a benefit receive ed, whereas the other is a free act of the will. Suppose me raised to the joint possession of your fortune, could I call it mine unless I had brought you something as an equivalent? or, have I not great reason to fear that you yourself may consider me as under obligations inconsistent with the character of a wife? I acknowledge the great generosity of your offer, and would consider myself highly honoured, could I prevail with myself to prefer peace of mind to the enjoyment of an affluent fortune. But as I have been very sincere in my answer, so let me beg that you will endeavour to eradicate a passion, which, if nourished longer, may prove fatal to us both.--I am, sir, with the greatest respect, &c.
The Gentleman's Reply. Dear Sophia,—Was it not cruel to start so many objections? or would you suppose me capable of so base an action, as to destroy your freedom and peace of mind ? or do you think that I am capable of ever forgetting you, or being happy in the enjoyment of another ? For God's sake do not mention gratitude any more. Your many virtues entitle you to much more than I am able to give ; but all that I have shall be yours. With respect to my relations, I have none to consult besides my mother and my uncle, and their consent, and even approbation, are already obtained. You have often heard my mother declare, that she preferred my happiness with a woman of virtue, to the possession of the greatest fortune ; and though I forgot to mention it, yet I had communicated my sentiments to her before I had opened my mind to you. Let me beg that you will lay aside all unnecessary scruples, which only serve to make one unhappy who is already struggling under all the anxieties of real and genuine love. It is in your power, my dear, to make me happy, and none else can. I cannot enjoy one moment's rest till I have your answer, and then the happy day shall be fixed. Let me beg that you will not start any more objections, unless you are my real enemy; but your tender nature cannot suffer you to be cruel. Be mine, my dear, and I am yours for ever. My servant shall wait for the answer to your ever sin. cere lover, whose sole happiness is centred in you.
I am, &c.
The Answer. Sir,-I find that when one of your sex forms a resolution, you are determined to go through,