O this angel of a master! this fine gentleman! this gracious benefactor to your poor Pamela! who was to take care of me at the prayer of his good, dying mother! This very gentleman (yes, I must call him gentleman, though he has fallen from the merit of that title) has degraded himself to offer freedoms to his poor servant; he has now showed himself in his true colours, and, to me, nothing appears so black and so frightful.
I have not been idle; but had writ from time to time, how he, by sly, mean degrees, exposed his wicked views, but somebody stole my letter, and I know not what is become of it. I am watched very narrowly; and he says to Mrs. Jervis, the housekeeper, "This girl is always scribbling; I think she may be better employed." And yet I work very hard with my needle upon his linen and the fine linen of the family; and am, besides, about flowering him a waistcoat. But, oh, my heart's almost broken; for what am I likely to have for any reward but shame and disgrace, or else ill words and hard treatment!
As I can't find my letter, I'll try to recollect it all. All went well enough in the main, for some time. But one day he came to me as I was in the summer-house in the little garden at work with my needle, and Mrs. Jervis was just gone from me, and I would have gone out, but he said, "Don't go, Pamela, I have something to say to you, and you always fly me when I come near you, as if you were afraid of me."
I was much out of countenance you may well think, and began to tremble, and the more when he took me by the hand, for no soul was near us.
"You are a little fool," he said hastily, "and know not what's good for yourself. I tell you I will make a gentlewoman of you if you are obliging, and don't stand in your own light." And so saying, he put his arm about me and kiss'd me.
Now, you will say, all his wickedness appear'd plainly. I burst from him, and was getting out of the summer-house, but he held me back, and shut the door.
I would have given my life for a farthing. And he said, "I'll do you no harm, Pamela; don't be afraid of me."
I sobb'd and cry'd most sadly. "What a foolish hussy you are!" said he. "Have I done you any harm?" "Yes, sir," said I, "the greatest harm in the world; you have taught me to forget myself, and have lessen'd the distance that fortune has made between us, by demeaning yourself to be so free to a poor servant. I am honest, though poor; and if you were a prince I would not be otherwise than honest."
He was angry, and said, "Who, little fool, would have you otherwise? Cease your blubbering. I own I have undervalued myself; but it was only to try you. If you can keep this matter secret, you'll give me the better opinion of your prudence. And here's something," added he, putting some gold in my hand, "to make you amends for the fright I put you in. Go, take a walk in the garden, and don't go in till your blubbering is over."
"I won't take the money, indeed, sir," said I, and so I put it upon the bench. And as he seemed vexed and confounded at what he had done, I took the opportunity to hurry out of the summer-house.
He called to me, and said, "Be secret, I charge you, Pamela; and don't go in yet."
O how poor and mean must those actions be, and how little they must make the best of gentlemen look, when they put it into the power of their inferiors to be greater than they!
Pray for me, my dear father and mother; and don't be angry that I have not yet run away from this house, so late my comfort and delight, but now my terror and anguish. I am forc'd to break off hastily.
Your dutiful and honest DAUGHTER.
III.—Pamela in Distress
O my dearest Father and Mother,—Let me write and bewail my miserable fate, though I have no hope that what I write can be convey'd to your hands! I have now nothing to do but write and weep and fear and pray! But I will tell you what has befallen me, and some way, perhaps, may be opened to send the melancholy scribble to you. Alas, the unhappy Pamela may be undone before you can know her hard lot!
Last Thursday morning came, when I was to set out and return home to you, my dearest parents. I had taken my leave of my fellow-servants overnight, and a mournful leave it was to us all, for men, as well as women servants, wept to part with me; and for my part, I was overwhelmed with tears on the affecting instances of their love.
My master was above stairs, and never ask'd to see me. False heart, he knew that I was not to be out of his reach! Preserve me, heaven, from his power, and from his wickedness!
I look'd up when I got to the chariot, and I saw my master at the window, and I courtsy'd three times to him very low, and pray'd for him with my hands lifted up; for I could not speak. And he bow'd his head to me, which made me then very glad he would take such notice of me.
Robin drove so fast that I said to myself, at this rate of driving I shall soon be with my father and mother. But, alas! by nightfall he had driven me to a farmhouse far from home; and the farmer and his wife, he being a tenant of Mr. B., my master, while they treated me kindly, would do nothing to aid me in flight. And next day he drove me still further, and when we stopped at an inn in a town strange to me, the mistress of the inn was expecting me, and immediately called out for her sister, Jewkes. Jewkes! thought I. That is the name of the housekeeper at my master's house in Lincolnshire.
Then the wicked creature appear'd, and I was frighted out of my wits. The wretch would not trust me out of her sight, and soon I was forced to set out with her in the chariot. Now I gave over all thoughts of redemption.
Here are strange pains, thought I, taken to ruin a poor, innocent, helpless young female. This plot is laid too deep to be baffled, I fear.
About eight at night we enter'd the courtyard of this handsome, large, old, lonely mansion, that looked to me then as if built for solitude and mischief. And here, said I to myself, I fear, is to be the scene of my ruin, unless God protect me, Who is all-sufficient.
I was very ill at entering it, partly from fatigue, and partly from dejection of spirits. Mrs. Jewkes seem'd mighty officious to welcome me, and call'd me madam at every word.
"Pray, Mrs. Jewkes," said I, "don't madam me so! I am but a silly, poor girl, set up by the gambol of fortune for a May-game. Let us, therefore, talk upon afoot together, and that will be a favour done me. I am now no more than a poor desolate creature, and no better than a prisoner."
"Ay, ay," says she, "I understand something of the matter. You have so great power over my master that you will soon be mistress of us all; and so I will oblige you, if I can. And I must and will call you madam, for such are the instructions of my master, and you may depend upon it I shall observe my orders."
"You will not, I hope," replied I, "do an unlawful or wicked thing for any master in the world."
"Look ye!" said she. "He is my master, and if he bids me do a thing that I can do, I think I ought to do it; and let him, who has power to command me, look to the lawfulness of it."
"Suppose," said I, "he should resolve to ensnare a poor young creature and ruin her, would you assist him in such wickedness? And do you not think that to rob a person of her virtue is worse than cutting her throat?"
"Why, now," said she, "how strangely you talk! Are not the two sexes made for each other? And is it not natural for a man to love a pretty woman?" And then the wretch fell a-laughing, and talk'd most impertinently, and show'd me that I had nothing to expect either from her virtue or compassion.
I am now come to the twenty-seventh day of my imprisonment. One stratagem I have just thought of, though attended with this discouraging circumstance that I have neither friends, nor money, nor know one step of the way were I actually out of the house. But let bulls and bears and lions and tigers and, what is worse, false, treacherous, deceitful man stand in my way, I cannot be in more danger than I now think myself in.
Mrs. Jewkes has received a letter. She tells me, as a secret, that she has reason to think my master has found a way to satisfy my scruples. It is by marrying me to his dreadful Swiss servant, Colbrand, and buying me of him on the wedding-day for a sum of money! Was ever the like heard? She says it will be my duty to obey my husband, and that when my master has paid for me, and I am surrender'd up, the Swiss is to go home again, with the money, to his former wife and children; for, she says, it is the custom of these people to have a wife in every nation.
But this, to be sure, is horrid romancing!
Friday, the thirty-sixth day of imprisonment. Mercy on me! What will become of me? Here is my master come in his fine chariot! What shall I do? Where shall I hide myself?
He has entered and come up!
He put on a stern and a haughty air. "Well, perverse Pamela, ungrateful creature, you do well, don't you, to give me all this trouble and vexation?"
I could not speak, but sobb'd and sigh'd, as if my heart would break. "Sir," I said, "permit me to return to my parents. That is all I have to ask."
He flew into a violent passion. "Is it thus," said he, "I am to be answered? Begone from my sight!"
The next day he sent me up by Mrs. Jewkes his proposals. They were seven in number, and included the promise of an estate of L250 a year in Kent, to be settled on my father; and a number of suits of rich clothing and diamond rings were to be mine if I would consent to be his mistress.
My answer was that my parents and their daughter would much rather choose to starve in a ditch or rot in a noisome dungeon, than accept of the fortune of a monarch upon such wicked terms.
Mrs. Jewkes now tells me he is exceedingly wroth, and that I must quit the house, and may go home to my father and mother.
Sunday night. Well, my dear parents, here I am at an inn in a little village. And Robin, the coachman, assures me he has orders to carry me to you. O, that he may say truth and not deceive me again!
"I have proofs," said my master to Mrs. Jewkes, when I left the house, "that her virtue is all her pride. Shall I rob her of that? No, let her go, perverse and foolish as she is; but she deserves to go away virtuous, and she shall."
I think I was loth to leave the house. Can you believe it? I felt something so strange and my heart was so heavy.
IV.—Virtue Triumphant—Pamela's Journal
Monday Morning, eleven o'clock. We are just come in here, to the inn kept by Mr. Jewkes's relations.
Just as I sat down, before setting out to pursue my journey, comes my master's groom, all in a foam, man and horse, with a letter for me, as follows:
"I find it in vain, my Pamela, to struggle against my affection for you, and as I flatter myself you may be brought to love me, I begin to regret parting with you; but, God is my witness, from no dishonourable motives, but the very contrary.
"You cannot imagine the obligation your return will lay me under to your goodness, and if you are the generous Pamela I imagine you to be let me see by your compliance the further excellency of your disposition. Spare me, my dearest girl, the confusion of following you to your father's, which I must do if you go on—for I find I cannot live without you, and I must be—
"Yours, and only yours."
What, my dear parents, will you say to this letter? I am resolved to return to my master, and am sending this to you by Thomas the coachman.
It was one o'clock when we reach'd my master's gate. Everybody was gone to rest. But one of the helpers got the keys from Mrs. Jewkes, and open'd the gates. I was so tired when I went to get out of the chariot that I fell down, and two of the maids coming soon after helped me to get up stairs.
It seems my master was very ill, and had been upon the bed most of the day; but being in a fine sleep, he heard not the chariot come in.
Tuesday Morning. Mrs. Jewkes, as soon as she got up, went to know how my master did, and he had had a good night. She told him he must not be surprised—that Pamela was come back. He raised himself up.
"Can it be?" said he. "What, already? Ask her if she will be so good as to make me a visit. If she will not, I will rise and attend her."
Mrs. Jewkes came to tell me, and I went with her. As soon as he saw me, he said:
"Oh, my Pamela, you have made me quite well!"
How kind a dispensation is sickness sometimes! He was quite easy and pleased with me.
The next day my master was so much better that he would take a turn after breakfast in the chariot, handing me in before all the servants, as if I had been a lady. At first setting out, he kissed me a little too often, that he did; but he was exceedingly kind to me in his words as well.
At last, he said:
"My sister, Lady Davers, threatens to renounce me, and I shall incur the censures of the world if I act up to my present intentions. For it will be said by everyone that Mr. B. has been drawn in by the eye, to marry his mother's waiting maid. Not knowing, perhaps, that to her mind, to her virtue, as well as to the beauties of her person, she owes her well-deserved conquest; and that there is not a lady in the kingdom who will better support the condition to which she will be raised if I should marry her." And added he, putting his arm round me: "I pity my dear girl, too, for her part in this censure, for here she will have to combat the pride and slights of the neighbouring gentry all around us. Lady Davers and the other ladies will not visit you; and you will, with a merit superior to them all, be treated as if unworthy their notice. Should I now marry my Pamela, how will my girl relish all this? Will not these be cutting things to my fair one?"
"Oh, sir," said I, "your poor servant has a much greater difficulty than this to overcome."
"What is that?" said he a little impatiently. "I will not forgive your doubts now."
"No, sir," said I, "I cannot doubt; but it is, how I shall support, how I shall deserve, your goodness to me!"
"Dear girl!" said he, and press'd me to his bosom. "I was afraid you would again have given me reason to think you had doubts of my honour, and this at a time when I was pouring out my whole soul to you, I could not so easily have forgiven."
"But, good sir," said I, "my greatest concern will be for the rude jests you will have yourself to encounter for thus stooping beneath yourself. For as to me I shall have the pride to place more than half the ill will of the ladies to their envying my happiness."
"You are very good, my dearest girl," said he. "But how will you bestow your time, when you will have no visits to receive or pay? No parties of pleasure to join in? No card-tables to employ your winter evenings?"
"In the first place, sir, if you will give me leave, I will myself look into all such parts of the family management as may befit the mistress of it to inspect. Then I will assist your housekeeper, as I used to do, in the making of jellies, sweetmeats, marmalades, cordials; and to pot and candy and preserve, for the use of the family; and to make myself all the fine linen of it. Then, sir, if you will indulge me with your company, I will take an airing in your chariot now and then; and I have no doubt of so behaving as to engage you frequently to fill up some part of my time in your instructive conversation."
"Proceed, my dear girl," said he. "I love to hear you talk !"
"Music, which my good lady also had me instructed in, will also fill up some intervals if I should have any. Then, sir, you know, I love reading and scribbling, and tho' most of the latter will be employed in the family accounts, yet reading, in proper books, will be a pleasure to me, which I shall be unwilling to give up for the best company in the world when I cannot have yours."
"What delight do you give me, my beloved Pamela, in this sweet foretaste of my happiness! I will now defy the saucy, busy censures of the world."
Ten days later. Your happy, thrice happy Pamela, is at last married, my dearest parents.
This morning we entered the private chapel at this house, and my master took my hand and led me up to the altar. Mr. Peters, the good rector, gave me away, and the curate read the service. I trembled so, I could hardly stand.
And thus the dear, once haughty, assailer of Pamela's innocence, by a blessed turn of Providence, is become the kind, the generous protector and rewarder of it.
* * * * *
"Clarissa Harlowe," written after "Pamela," brought Richardson a European reputation. The first four volumes of the novel appeared in 1747, the last four in 1748, and during the next few years translations were being executed in French and German. Like "Pamela," the story itself is thin and simple, but the characters are drawn with a bolder and surer touch. "No work had appeared before," says Scott, "perhaps none has appeared since, containing so many direct appeals to the passions." Yet opinions were singularly divided as to its merits. Dr. Johnson said that the novel "enlarged the knowledge of human nature."
I.—At Harlowe Place
CLARISSA is persecuted by her family to marry Mr. Roger Solmes, but favours Richard Lovelace, who is in love with her. That her grandfather had left Clarissa a considerable estate accounts mainly for the hostility of the family to Clarissa's desire for independence.
Clarissa writes to her friend, Miss Howe:
"January 15. The moment, my dear, that Mr. Lovelace's visits were mentioned to my brother on his arrival from Scotland he expressed his disapprobation, declaring he had ever hated him since he had known him at college, and would never own me for a sister if I married him.
"This antipathy I have heard accounted for in this manner:
"Mr. Lovelace was always noted for his vivacity and courage, and for the surprising progress he made in literature, while for diligence in study he had hardly his equal. This was his character at the university, and it gained him many friends, while those who did not love him, feared him, by reason of the offence his vivacity made him too ready to give, and of the courage he showed in supporting it. My brother's haughtiness could not bear a superiority; and those whom we fear more than love we are not far from hating. Having less command of his passions than the other, he was evermore the subject of his ridicule, so that they never met without quarrelling, and everybody siding with Lovelace, my brother had an uneasy time of it, while both continued in the same college.
"Then on my brother's return he found my sister (to whom Lovelace had previously paid some attention) ready to join him in his resentment against the man he hated. She utterly disclaimed all manner of regard for him.
"Their behaviour to him when they could not help seeing him was very disobliging, and at last they gave such loose rein to their passion that, instead of withdrawing when he came, they threw themselves in his way to affront him.
"Mr. Lovelace, you may believe, ill brooked this, but contented himself by complaining to me, adding that, but for my sake, my brother's treatment of him was not to be borne.
"After several excesses, which Mr. Lovelace returned with a haughtiness too much like that of the aggressor, my brother took upon himself to fill up the doorway once when he came, as if to oppose his entrance; and, upon his asking for me, demanded what his business was with his sister.
"The other, with a challenging air, told him he would answer a gentleman any question. Just then the good Dr. Lewin, the clergyman, came to the door, and, hearing the words, interposed between, both gentlemen having their hands upon their swords, and, telling Mr. Lovelace where I was, the latter burst by my brother to come to me, leaving him chafing, he said, like a hunted boar at bay.
"After this, my father was pleased to hint that Mr. Lovelace's visits should be discontinued, and I, by his command, spoke a great deal plainer; but no absolute prohibition having been given, things went on for a while as before, till my brother again took occasion to insult Mr. Lovelace, when an unhappy recontre followed, in which my brother was wounded and disarmed, and on being brought home and giving us ground to suppose he was worse hurt than he was, and a fever ensuing, everyone flamed out, and all was laid at my door.
"Mr. Lovelace sent twice a day to inquire after my brother, and on the fourth day came in person, and received great incivilities from my two uncles, who happened to be there.
"I fainted away with terror, seeing everyone so violent; hearing his voice swearing he could not depart without seeing me, my mamma struggling with my papa, and my sister insulting me. When he was told how ill I was, he departed, vowing vengeance.
"He was ever a favourite with our domestics; and on this occasion they privately reported his behaviour in such favourable terms that those reports and my apprehensions of the consequences, induced me to 'read a letter' he sent me that night imploring me 'to answer' it some days after.
"To this unhappy necessity is owing our correspondence; meantime I am extremely concerned to find that I am become the public talk."
"February 20. Alas, my dear, I have sad prospects! My brother and sister have found another lover for me; he is encouraged by everybody. Who do you think it is? No other than that Solmes. They are all determined too, my mother with the rest.
"Yesterday, Mr. Solmes came in before we had done tea. My uncle Antony presented him as a gentleman he had a particular friendship for. My father said, 'Mr. Solmes is my friend, Clarissa Harlowe.' My mother looked at him, and at me; and I at her, with eyes appealing for pity, while my brother and sister sir'd him at every word."
"February 24. They drive on at a furious rate. The man lives here. Such terms, such settlements. That's the cry. I have already stood the shock of three of this man's visits.
"What my brother and sister have said of me, I cannot tell. I am in heavy disgrace with my papa.
"March 9. I have another letter from Mr. Lovelace, although I have not answered his former one. He knows all that passes here, and is excessively uneasy upon what he hears, and solicits me to engage my honour to him never to have Mr. Solmes. I think I can safely promise him that.
"I am now confined to my room; my maid has been taken away from me. In answer to my sincere declaration, that I would gladly compound to live single, my father said angrily that my proposal was an artifice. Nothing but marrying Solmes should do."
"April 5. I must keep nothing by me now; and when I write lock myself in that I may not be surprised now they think I have no pen and ink.
"I found another letter from this diligent man, and he assures me they are more and more determined to subdue me.
"He sends me the compliments of his family, and acquaints me with their earnest desire to see me amongst them. Vehemently does he press for my quitting this house while it is in my power to get away, and again craves leave to order his uncle's chariot-and-six to attend my commands at the stile leading to the coppice adjoining to the paddock.
"Settlements he again offers; Lord M. and Lady Sarah and Lady Betty to be guarantees of his honour.
"As to the disgrace a person of my character may be apprehensive of on quitting my father's house, he observes, too truly I doubt, that the treatment I meet with is in everybody's mouth, that all the disgrace I can receive they have given me. He says he will oppose my being sent away to my uncle's. He tells me my brother and sister and Mr. Solmes design to be there to meet me; that my father and mother will not come till the ceremony is over, and then to try to reconcile me to my odious husband.
"How, my dear, am I driven!"
April 8. Whether you will blame me or not I cannot tell. I have deposited a letter to Mr. Lovelace confirming my resolution to leave this house on Monday next. I tell him I shall not bring any clothes than those I have on, lest I be suspected. That it will be best to go to a private lodging near Lady Betty Lawrance's that it may not appear to the world I have refuged myself with his family; that he shall instantly leave me nor come near me but by my leave, and that if I find myself in danger of being discovered and carried back by violence, I will throw myself into the protection of Lady Betty or Lady Sarah.
"Oh, my dear, what a sad thing is the necessity forced upon me for all this contrivance!"
Clarissa, after staying in lodgings at St. Albans, is persuaded by Lovelace that she will be safer from her family in London. After refusing a proposal for an immediate marriage, she therefore moves to London to lodge in a house recommended as thoroughly respectable by Lovelace, but which in reality is kept by a widow, Mrs. Sinclair, of no good repute, who is in the pay of Lovelace.
Clarissa to her friend, Miss Howe:
"April 26. At length, my dear, I am in London. My lodgings are neatly furnished, and though I like not the old gentlewoman, yet she seems obliging, and her kinswomen are genteel young people.
"I am exceedingly out of humour with Mr. Lovelace, and have great reason to be so. He began by letting me know that he had been to inquire the character of the widow. It was well enough, he said, but as she lived by letting lodgings and had other rooms in the houses which might be taken by the enemy, he knew no better way than to take them all, unless I would remove to others.
"It was easy to see he spoke the slighter of the widow to have a pretence to lodge here himself, and he frankly owned that if I chose to stay here he could not think of leaving me for six hours together. He had prepared the widow to expect that we should be here only a few days, till we could fix ourselves in a house suitable to our condition.
"'Fix ourselves in a house, Mr. Lovelace?' I said. 'Pray in what light?'
"'My dearest life, hear me with patience. I am afraid I have been too forward, for my friends in town conclude me to be married.'
"'Surely, sir, you have not presumed——'
"'Hear me, dearest creature. You have received with favour my addresses, yet, by declining my fervent tender of myself you have given me apprehension of delay. Your brother's schemes are not given up. I have taken care to give Mrs. Sinclair a reason why two apartments are necessary for us in our retirement.'
"I raved at him. I would have flung from him, yet where could I go?
"Still, he insisted upon the propriety of appearing to be married. 'But since you dislike what I have said, let me implore you,' he added, 'to give a sanction to it by naming an early day—would to Heaven it were to-morrow!'
"What could I say? I verily believe, had he urged me in a proper way, I should have consented to meet him at a more sacred place than the parlour below.
"The widow now directs all her talk to me as 'Mrs. Lovelace,' and I, with a very ill-grace, bear it."
"April 28. Mr. Lovelace has returned already. 'My dearest life,' said he. 'I cannot leave you for so long a time as you seem to expect I should. Spare yourself the trouble of writing to any of your friends till we are married. When they know we are married, your brother's plots will be at an end, and they must all be reconciled to you. Why, then, would you banish me from you? Why will you not give the man who has brought you into difficulties, and who so honourably wishes to extricate you from them, the happiness of doing so?'
"But, my dear although the opportunity was so inviting, he urged not for the day. Which is the more extraordinary, as he was so pressing for marriage before we came to town."
After some weeks, Clarissa succeeds in escaping from Mrs. Sinclair's house and takes lodgings at Hampstead. But Lovelace finds out her refuge, and sends two women, who pretend to be his relatives, Lady Betty and Lady Sarah, and Clarissa is beguiled back to Mrs. Sinclair's for an interview. Once inside the house, however, she is not allowed to leave it. Her health is now seriously injured, and her letters home have been answered by her father's curse.
Lovelace to his friend, John Belford:
"June 18. I went out early this morning, and returned just now, when I was informed that my beloved, in my absence, had taken it into her head to attempt to get away.
"She tripped down, with a parcel tied up in a handkerchief, her hood on, and was actually in the entry, when Mrs. Sinclair saw her.
"'Pray, madam,' whipping between her and the street-door, 'be pleased to let me know whither you are going?'
"'Who has a right to control me?' was the word.
"'I have, madam, by order of your spouse, and I desire you will be pleased to walk up again.'
"She would have spoken, but could not; and, bursting into tears, turned back, and went to her chamber.
"That she cannot fly me, that she must see me, are circumstances greatly in my favour. What can she do but rave and exclaim?
"To-night, as I was sitting with my pen in my chamber, she entered the dining-room with such dignity in her manner as struck with me great awe, and prepared me for the poor figure I made in the subsequent conversation. But I will do her justice. She accosted me with an air I never saw equalled.
"'You see before you, sir, the wretch whose preference of you to all your sex you have rewarded as it deserved to be rewarded. Too evident is it that it will not be your fault, villainous man, if the loss of my soul as well as my honour, which you have robbed me of, will not be completed. But, tell me—for no doubt thou hast some scheme to pursue,—since I am a prisoner in the vilest of houses, and have not a friend to protect me, what thou intendest shall become of the remnant of a life not worth keeping; tell me if there are more evils reserved for me, and whether thou hast entered into a compact with the grand deceiver, in the person of the horrid agent of this house, and if the ruin of my soul is to complete the triumphs of so vile a confederacy? Say, if thou hast courage to speak out to her whom thou hast ruined; tell me what further I am to suffer from thy barbarity.'
"I had prepared myself for raving and execrations. But such a majestic composure—seeking me—whom yet, it is plain, by her attempt to get away, she would have avoided seeing. How could I avoid looking like a fool, and answering in confusion?
"'I—I—I—cannot but say—must own—confess—truly sorry—upon my soul I am—and—and—will do all—do everything—all that—all that you require to make amends!'
"'Amends, thou despicable wretch! And yet I hate thee not, base as thou art, half as much as I hate myself, that I saw thee not sooner in thy proper colours, that I hoped either morality, gratitude, or humanity from one who defies moral sanction. What amends hast thou to propose? What amends can such a one as thou make to a person of spirit or common sense for the evils thou hast made me suffer?'
"'As soon, madam; as soon as——'
"'I know what thou wouldst tell me. But thinkest thou that marriage will satisfy for a guilt like thine? Destitute as thou hast made me both of friends and fortune, I too much despise the wretch who could rob himself of his wife's honour, to endure the thoughts of thee in the light thou seemest to hope I will accept thee. Had I been able to account for myself and your proceedings, a whole week should not have gone over my head before I had told you what I now tell you, that the man who has been the villain to me you have been shall never make me his wife. All my prospects are shut in. I give myself up for a lost creature as to this world. Hinder me not from entering upon a life of penitence. Let me try to secure the only hope I have left. This is all the amends I ask of you. I repeat, am I now at liberty to dispose of myself as I please?'
"Now comes the fool, the miscreant, hesitating in his broken answer. 'My dearest love, I am quite confounded. There is no withstanding your eloquence. If you can forgive a repentant villain, I vow by all that's sacred—and may a thunderbolt strike me dead at your feet if I am not sincere—that I will, by marriage, before to-morrow noon, without waiting for anybody, do you all the justice I can. And you shall ever after direct me as you please till you have made me more worthy of your angelic purity. Nor will I presume so much as to touch your garment till I can call so great a blessing lawfully mine.'
"'Oh, thou guileful betrayer! Hadst thou not seemed beyond the possibility of forgiveness, I might have been induced to think of taking a wretched chance with a man so profligate. But it would be criminal to bind my soul in covenant to a man allied to perdition.'
"'Allied to perdition, madam?'
"But she would not hear me, and insisted upon being at her own disposal for the remainder of her short life. She abhorred me in every light; and more particularly in that in which I offered myself to her acceptance.
"And saying this she flung from me, leaving me shocked and confounded at her part of a conversation which she began with such severe composure, and concluded with such sincere and unaffected indignation. Now, Jack, to be thus hated and despised."
III.—The Death of Clarissa
In the absence of Lovelace from London Clarissa manages to escape from Mrs. Sinclair's, and takes refuge in the house of Mrs. Smith, who keeps a glove shop in King Street, Covent Garden. Her health is now ruined beyond recovery, and she is ready to die. Belford discovers her retreat, and protects her from Lovelace.
Mr. Mowbray, a friend, to Robert Lovelace, Esq.:
"June 29. Dear Lovelace,—I have plaguey news to acquaint thee with. Miss Harlowe is gone off. Here's the devil to pay. I heartily condole with thee. But it may turn out for the best. They tell me thou wouldst have married her had she staid. But I know thee better.
Belford to Lovelace:
"June 29. Thou hast heard the news. Bad or good I know not which thou wilt deem it.
"How strong must be her resentment of the barbarous treatment she has received, that has made her hate the man she once loved, and rather than marry him to expose her disgrace to the world!"
Lovelace to Belford:
"June 30. I am ruined, undone, destroyed.
"If thou canst find her out, and prevail upon her to consent, I will, in thy presence, marry her. She cannot be long concealed; I have set all engines at work to find her out, and if I do, who will care to embroil themselves with a man of my figure, fortune, and resolution?"
Belford to Lovelace:
"August 31. When I concluded my last, I hoped that my next attendance upon this surprising lady would furnish me with some particulars as agreeable as now could be hoped for from the declining way she is in; but I think I was never more shocked in my life than on the occasion I shall mention.
"When I attended her about seven in the evening, she had hardly spoken to me, when she started, and a blush overspread her sweet face on hearing, as I also did, a sort of lumbering noise upon the stairs, as if a large trunk were bringing up between two people. 'Blunderers!' said she. 'They have brought in something two hours before the time. Don't be surprised, sir, it is all to save you trouble.'
"Before I could speak in came Mrs. Smith. 'Oh, madam,' said she, 'what have you done?'
"' Lord have mercy upon me, madam,' cried I, 'what have you done?' For she, stepping at the instant to the door, Mrs. Smith told me it was a coffin. Oh, Lovelace that thou hadst been there at the moment! Thou, the causer of all these shocking scenes! Surely thou couldst not have been less affected than I, who have no guilt as to her to answer for.
"With an intrepidity of a piece with the preparation, having directed them to carry it into her bed-chamber, she returned to us. 'They were not to have brought it till after dark,' said she. 'Pray excuse me, Mr. Belford; and don't you be concerned, Mrs. Smith. Why should you? There is nothing more in it than the unusualness of the thing. Why may we not be as reasonably shocked at going to the church where are the monuments of our ancestors, as to be moved at such a sight as this.'
"How reasonable was all this. But yet we could not help being shocked at the thoughts of the coffin thus brought in; the lovely person before our eyes who is in all likelihood so soon to fill it."
Belford to Lovelace:
"September 7. I may as well try to write, since were I to go to bed I should not sleep; and you may be glad to know the particulars of her happy exit. All is now hushed and still. At four o'clock yesterday I was sent for. Her cousin, Colonel Mordern, and Mrs. Smith were with her. She was silent for a few minutes. Her breath grew shorter. Her sweet voice and broken periods methinks still fill my ears, and never will be out of my memory. 'Do you, sir,' turning her head towards me, 'tell your friend that I forgive him, and I pray to God to forgive him. Let him know how happily I die, and that such as my own I wish to be his last hour.'
"With a smile of charming serenity overspreading her face, she expired.
"Oh, Lovelace, but I can write no more."
* * * * *
Sir Charles Grandison
"Sir Charles Grandison, and the Honourable Miss Byron, in a Series of Letters," published in 1753, was the third and last of Samuel Richardson's novels. Like its predecessors, it is of enormous length (it first appeared in seven volumes) and is written in the form of a series of letters. The idea of the author was to "present to the public, in Sir Charles Grandison, the example of a man acting uniformly well through a variety of trying scenes, because all his actions are regulated by one steady principle—a man of religion and virtue, of liveliness and spirit, accomplished and agreeable, happy in himself and a blessing to others." Such a portrait of "a man of true honour" provoked the highest enthusiasm in the eighteenth century; but to-day we have little patience for the faultless diction and exemplary conduct of Sir Charles, and, of the two, Miss Byron, the heroine, is by far the more interesting. The "advertisement" to the edition of 1818 proclaimed the book "the most perfect work of its kind that ever appeared in this or any other language," and we may accept that verdict without admiring "the kind."
I.—Miss Lucy Selby to Her Cousin, Miss Harriet Byron
Ashby-Cannons, January 10. Your resolution to accompany your cousin, Mrs. Reeves, to London, has greatly alarmed your three lovers, and two of them, at least, will let you know that it has. Such a lovely girl as my Harriet must expect to be more accountable for her steps than one less excellent and less attractive.
Mr. Greville, in his usual resolute way, threatens to follow you to London; and there, he says, he will watch the motions of every man who approaches you; and, if he finds reason for it, will early let such man know his pretensions, and the danger he may run into if he pretend to be his competitor. But let me not do him injustice; though he talks of a rival thus harshly, he speaks of you more highly than man ever spoke of woman.
Mr. Fenwick, in less determined manner, declares that he will follow you to town, if you stay there above one fortnight.
The gentle Orme sighs his apprehensions, and wishes you would change your purpose. Though hopeless, he says, it is some pleasure to him that he can think himself in the same county with you; and, much more, that he can tread in your footsteps to and from church every Sunday, and behold you there. He wonders how your grandmamma, your aunt, your uncle, can spare you. Your cousin Reeves's surely, he says, are very happy in their influences over us all.
Each of the gentlemen is afraid that by increasing the number of your admirers, you will increase his difficulties; but what is that to them, I asked, when they already know that you are not inclined to favour any of the three?
Adieu, my dearest Harriet. May angels protect and guide you withersoever you go!
II.—Miss Byron to Miss Selby
Grosvenor Street, London, February 3. We are returned from a party at Lady Betty's. She had company with her, to whom she introduced us, and presented me in a very advantageous character. But mutual civilities had hardly passed when Lady Betty, having been called out, returned, introducing as a gentleman who would be acceptable to everyone, Sir Hargrave Pollexfen. "He is," whispered she to me, as he saluted the rest of the company in a very gallant manner, "a young baronet of a very large estate; the greatest part of which has lately come to him by the death of relatives, all very rich." Let me give you a sketch of him, my Lucy.
Sir Hargrave Pollexfen is handsome and genteel; pretty tall, about twenty-eight or thirty. He has remarkably bold eyes, rather approaching to what we would call goggling, and he gives himself airs with them, as if he wished to have them thought rakish; perhaps as a recommendation, in his opinion, to the ladies. With all his foibles he is said to be a man of enterprise and courage, and young women, it seems, must take care how they laugh with him, for he makes ungenerous constructions to the disadvantage of a woman whom he can bring to seem pleased with his jests.
The taste of the present age seems to be dress; no wonder, therefore, that such a man as Sir Hargrave aims to excel in it. What can be misbestowed by a man on his person who values it more than his mind? But what a length I have run!
III.—Miss Byron: In Continuation
We found at home, waiting for Mr. Reeves's return, Sir John Allestree, a worthy, sensible man, of plain and unaffected manners, upwards of fifty.
Mr. Reeves mentioning to him our past entertainment and company, Sir John gave us such an account of Sir Hargrave as let me know that he is a very dangerous and enterprising man. He says that, laughing and light as he is in company, he is malicious, ill-natured, and designing, and sticks at nothing to carry a point on which he has once set his heart. He has ruined, Sir John says, three young creatures already, under vows of marriage.
Could you have thought, my Lucy, that this laughing, fine-dressing man, could have been a man of malice, and of resentment, a cruel man, yet Sir John told two very bad stories of him.
But I had no need of these stories to determine me against receiving his addresses. What I saw of him was sufficient.
IV.—Miss Byron: In Continuation
Wednesday, February 8. Sir Hargrave came before six o'clock. He was richly dressed. He asked for my cousin Reeves, I was in my chamber, writing.
He excused himself for coming so early on the score of his impatience.
Shall I give you, from my cousins, an account of the conversation before I went down? You know Mrs. Reeves is a nice observer.
He had had, he told my cousins, a most uneasy time of it, ever since he saw me. He never saw a woman before whom he could love as he loved me. By his soul, he had no view but what was strictly honourable. He gloried in the happy prospects before him, and hoped, as none of my little army of admirers had met encouragement from me, that he might be the happy man.
"I told you, Mr. Reeves," said he, "that I will give you carte blanche as to settlements. I will lay before you, or before any of Miss Byron's friends, my rent-rolls. There never was a better conditioned estate. She shall live in town, or in the country, as she thinks fit."
On a message that tea was near ready, I went down.
"Charming Miss Byron," said he, addressing me with an air of kindness and freedom, "I hope you are all benignity and compassion." He then begged I would hear him relate the substance of what had passed between him and Mr. and Mrs. Reeves, referred to the declaration he had made, boasted of his violent passion, and besought my favour with the utmost earnestness.
As I could not think of encouraging his addresses, I thought it best to answer him without reserve.
"Sir Hargrave, you may expect nothing from me but the simplest truth. I thank you, sir, for your good opinion of me, but I cannot encourage your addresses."
"You cannot, madam, encourage my addresses!" He stood silent a minute or two, looking upon me as if he said, "Foolish girl! Knows she whom she refuses?" "I have been assured, madam, that your affections are not engaged. But surely, it must be a mistake; some happy man——"
"Is it," I interrupted, "a necessary consequence that the woman who cannot receive the addresses of Sir Hargrave Pollexfen must be engaged?"
"Why, madam, as to that, I know not what to say, but a man of my fortune——" He paused. "What, madam, can be your objection? Be so good as to name it, that I may know whether I can be so happy as to get over it."
"We do not, we cannot, all like the same person. There is something that attracts or disgusts us."
"Disgusts! Madam—disgusts! Miss Byron!"
"I spoke in general, sir; I dare say, nineteen women out of twenty would think themselves favoured in the addresses of Sir Hargrave Pollexfen."
"But you, madam, are the twentieth that I must love; and be so good as to let me know——"
"Pray, sir, ask me not a reason for a peculiarity. You may have more merit, perhaps, than the man I may happen to approve of better; but—shall I say?—you do not—you do not hit my fancy, sir."
"Not hit your fancy, madam! Give me leave to say" (and he reddened with anger) "that my fortune, my descent, and my ardent affection for you ought to avail with me. Perhaps, madam, you think me too airy a man. You have doubts of my sincerity. You question my honour."
"That, sir, would be to injure myself," and making a low courtesy, I withdrew in haste.
My sheet is ended. With a new one I will begin another letter.
V.—Miss Byron: In Continuation
Next morning, after breakfast, Sir Hargrave again called, and renewed his addresses, making vehement professions of love, and offering me large settlements. To all of which I answered as before; and when he insisted upon my reasons for refusing him, I frankly told him that I had not the opinion of his morals that I must have of those of the man to whom I gave my hand in marriage.
"Of my morals, madam!" (and his colour went and came). "My morals, madam!" He arose from his seat and walked about the room muttering. "You have no opinion of my morals? By heaven, madam! But I will bear it all—yet, 'No opinion of my morals!' I cannot bear that."
He then clenched his fist, and held it up to his head; and, snatching up his hat, bowed to the ground, his face crimsoned over, and he withdrew.
Mr. Reeves attended him to the door. "Not like my morals!" said he. "I have enemies, Mr. Reeves. Miss Byron treats politely everybody but me, sir. Her scorn may be repaid—would to God I could say, with scorn, Mr. Reeves! Adieu!"
And into his chariot he stept, pulling up the glasses with violence; and rearing up his head to the top of it, as he sat swelling. And away it drove.
A fine husband for your Harriet would this half madman make! Drawn in by his professions of love, and by L8,000 a year, I might have married him; and when too late found myself miserable, yoked with a tyrant and madman for the remainder of my life.
VI.—Mr. Reeves to George Selby, Esq.
Friday, February 17. No one, at present, but yourself, must see the contents of what I am going to write.
You must not be too much surprised. But how shall I tell you the news; the dreadful news!
O, my cousin Selby! We know not what has become of our dearest Miss Byron.
We were last night at the masked ball in the Hay-market.
Between two and three we all agreed to go home. The dear creature was fatigued with the notice everybody took of her. Everybody admired her.
I waited on her to her chair, and saw her in it, before I attended Lady Betty and my wife to theirs.
I saw that neither the chair, nor the chairmen were those who brought her. I asked the meaning and was told that the chairmen we had engaged had been inveigled away to drink somewhere. She hurried into it because of her dress, and being warm; no less than four gentlemen followed her to the very chair.
I ordered Wilson, my, cousin's servant, to bid the chairmen stop, when they had got out of the crowd till Lady Betty's chair and mine, and my wife's joined them.
I saw her chair move, and Wilson, with his lighted flambeaux, before it, and the four masks who followed her to the chair return into the house.
When our servants could not find that her chair had stopped, we supposed that, in the hurry, the fellow heard not my orders; and directed our chairmen to proceed, not doubting but that we should find her got home before us.
But what was our consternation at finding her not arrived, and that Lady Betty (to whose house we thought she might have been carried) had not either seen or heard of her!
I had half a suspicion of Sir Hargrave, as well from the character given us of him by a friend, as because of his impolite behaviour to the dear creature on her rejecting him; and sent to his house in Cavendish Square to know if he were at home: and if he were, at what time he returned from the ball.
Answer was brought that he was in bed, and they supposed would not be stirring till dinner-time; and that he returned from the ball between four and five this morning.
* * * * *
O, my dear Mr. Selby! We have tidings! The dear creature is living and in honourable hands. Read the enclosed letter, directed to me.
"Sir,—Miss Byron is in safe hands. She has been cruelly treated, and was many hours speechless. But don't frighten yourselves; her fits, though not less frequent, are weaker and weaker. The bearer will acquaint you who my brother is; to whom you owe the preservation and safety of the loveliest woman in England, and he will direct you to a house where you will be welcome, with your lady (for Miss Byron cannot be removed) to convince yourself that all possible care is taken of her by your humble servant,
What we learnt from the honest man who brought the letter is, briefly, as follows:
His master is Sir Charles Grandison; a gentleman who has not been long in England.
Sir Charles was going to town in his chariot and six when he met our distressed cousin.
Sir Hargrave is the villain.
Sir Charles had earnest business in town, and he proceeded thither, after he had rescued the dear creature and committed her to the care of his sister. God forever bless him!
VII.—Mr. Reeves to George Selby, Esq.: In Continuation
February 18. I am just returned from visiting my beloved cousin, who is still weak, but is more composed than she has hitherto been, the amiable lady, Miss Grandison tells me.
Sir Charles Grandison is, indeed, a fine figure. He is the bloom of youth. I don't know that I have ever seen a handsomer or genteeler man. Well might his sister say that if he married he would break a score of hearts.
I will relate all he said in the first person, as nearly in his own words as possible.
"About two miles on this side Hounslow," said he, "I saw a chariot and six driving at a great rate.
"The coachman seemed inclined to dispute the way with mine. This occasioned a few moments' stop to both. I ordered my coachman to break the way. I don't love to stand on trifles. My horses were fresh and I had not come far.
"The curtain of the chariot we met was pulled down. I knew by the arms it was Sir Hargrave Pollexfen's.
"There was in it a gentleman who immediately pulled up the canvas.
"I saw, however, before he drew it up another person wrapped up in a man's scarlet cloak.
"'For God's sake, help—help!' cried out the person. 'For God's sake, help!'
"I ordered my coachman to stop.
"'Drive on!' said the gentleman, cursing his coachman. 'Drive on when I bid you I'
"'Help!' again cried she, but with a voice as if her mouth was half stopped.
"I called to my servants on horseback to stop the postilion of the other chariot; and I bid Sir Hargrave's coachman proceed at his peril. Then I alighted, and went round to the other side of the chariot.
"Again the lady endeavoured to cry out. I saw Sir Hargrave struggle to pull over her mouth a handkerchief, which was tied around her head. He swore outrageously.
"The moment she beheld me, she spread out both her hands—'For God's sake!'
"'Sir Hargrave Pollexfen,' said I, 'by the arms. You are engaged, I doubt, in a very bad affair.'
"'I am Sir Hargrave Pollexfen, and am carrying a fugitive wife.'
"'Your own wife, Sir Hargrave?'
"'Yes, by heaven!' said he. 'And she was going to elope from me at a damned masquerade!'
"'Oh, no, no, no!' said the lady.
"'Let me ask the lady a question, Sir Hargrave. Are you, madam, Lady Pollexfen?' said I.
"'Oh, no, no, no!' was all she could say.
"Two of my servants came about me; a third held the head of the horse on which the postilion sat. Three of Sir Hargrave's approached on their horses, but seemed as if afraid to come too near, and parleyed together.
"'Have an eye to those fellows,' said I. 'Some base work is on foot. Sirrah!'—to the coachman—'proceed at your peril!'
"Sir Hargrave then, with violent curses and threatenings, ordered him to drive over everyone that opposed him.
"'Oh, sir—sir,' cried the lady, 'help me, for I am in a villain's hands! Trick'd—vilely trick'd!'
"'Do you,' said I to my servants, 'cut the traces if you cannot otherwise stop this chariot! Leave Sir Hargrave to me!'
"The lady continued screaming, and crying out for help. Sir Hargrave drew his sword, and then called upon his servants to fire at all that opposed his progress.
"'My servants, Sir Hargrave, have firearms as well as yours. They will not dispute my orders. Don't provoke me to give the word.' Then, addressing the lady: 'Will you, madam, put yourself into my protection?'
"'Oh, yes, yes, with my whole heart! Dear, good sir, protect me!'
"I opened the chariot door. Sir Hargrave made a pass at me.
"'Take that for your insolence, scoundrel!' said he.
"I was aware of his thrust, and put it by; but his sword a little raked my shoulder. My sword was in my hand, but undrawn.
"The chariot door remaining open. I seized him by the collar before he could recover himself from the pass he had made at me, and with a jerk and a kind of twist, laid him under the hind wheel of his chariot. I wrenched his sword from him, and snapped it, and flung the two pieces over my head.
"His coachman cried out for his master. Mine threatened his if he stirred. The postilion was a boy. My servant had made him dismount before he joined the other two. The wretches, knowing the badness of their cause, were becoming terrified.
"One of Sir Hargraves's legs, in his sprawling, had got between the spokes of his chariot-wheel. I thought this was fortunate for preventing farther mischief. I believe he was bruised with the fall; the jerk was violent.
"I had not drawn my sword. I hope I never shall be provoked to do it in a private quarrel. I should not, however, have scrupled to draw it on such an occasion as this had there been an absolute necessity for it.
"The lady, though greatly terrified, had disengaged herself from the man's cloak. I offered my hand, and your lovely cousin threw herself into my arms, as a frighted bird pursued by a hawk has flown into the bosom of a man passing by. She was ready to faint. She could not, I believe, have stood. I carried the lovely creature round, and seated her in my chariot.
"'Be assured, madam,' said I, 'that you are in honourable hands. I will convey you to my sister, who is a young lady of honour and virtue.'
"I shut the chariot door. Sir Hargrave was now on his legs, supported by his coachman; his other servants had fled.
"I bid one of my servants tell him who I was. He cursed me, and threatened vengeance.
"I then stepped back to my chariot, and reassured Miss Byron, who had sunk down at the bottom of it. What followed, I suppose, Charlotte"— bowing to his sister—"you told Mr. Reeves?"
"I can only say, my brother," said Miss Grandison, "that you have rescued an angel of a woman, and you have made me as happy by it as yourself."
VIII.—Mr. Deane to Sir Charles Grandison
Selby House, October 3. An alliance more acceptable, were it with a prince, could not be proposed, than that which Sir Charles Grandison, in a manner so worthy of himself, has proposed with a family who have thought themselves under obligation to him ever since he delivered the darling of it from the lawless attempts of a savage libertine. I know to whom I write; and will own that it has been my wish in a most particular manner. As to the young lady, I say nothing of her, yet how shall I forbear? Oh, sir, believe me, she will dignify your choice. Her duty and her inclination through every relation of life were never divided.
Excuse me, sir. No parent was ever more fond of his child than I have been from her infancy of this my daughter by adoption.
IX.—Miss Byron to Lady G. (Formerly Charlotte Grandison)
October 14. Sir Charles came a little after eleven. He addressed us severally with his usual politeness, and my grandmother particularly, with such an air of reverence as did himself credit, because of her years and wisdom.
Presently my aunt led me away to another chamber, and then went away, but soon returned, and with her the man of men.
She but turned round, and saw him take my hand, which he did with a compliment that made me proud, and left us together.
Oh, my dear, your brother looked the humble, modest lover, yet the man of sense, of dignity, in love. I could not but be assured of his affection.
* * * * *
On one knee he dropped, and taking my passive hand between his, and kissing it, he said:
"My dear Miss Byron, you are goodness itself. I approached you with diffidence and with apprehension. May blessings attend my future life, as my grateful heart shall acknowledge this goodness!"
Again he kissed my hand, rising with dignity. I could have received his vows on my knees, but I was motionless; yet how was I delighted to be the cause of joy to him! Joy to your brother—to Sir Charles Grandison!
He saw me greatly affected, and considerately said:
"I will leave you, my dear Miss Byron, to entitle myself to the congratulations of all our friends below. From this moment I date my happiness!"
* * * * *
JEAN PAUL FRIEDRICH RICHTER
Jean Paul Friedrich Richter, who was born at Wunsiedel, in Bavaria, on March 21, 1763, and died on November 14, 1825, was the son of a poor but highly accomplished schoolmaster, who early in his career became a Lutheran pastor at Schwarzenbach, on the Saale. Young Richter entered Leipzig University in 1780, specially to study theology, but became one of the most eccentric and erratic of students, a veritable literary gypsy, roaming over vast fields of literature, collating and noting immense stores of scientific, artistic, historic, and philosophic facts. Driven to writing for subsistence, he only won a reputation by slow degrees, but so great at last was the esteem in which his countrymen held him that he is typically styled "Der Einzige" ("The Unique"). The turning point proved to be the issue of "The Invisible Lodge" ("Die Unsichtbare Loge") in 1793, a romance founded on some of his academic experiences. Then followed a brilliant series of works which have made Richter's name famous. Among these was "Hesperus," published in 1794, which made him one of the most famous of German writers. Fanciful and extravagant as the work is, and written without any regard to the laws of composition, it is nevertheless stamped with genius. In all Richter's stories the plot goes for nothing; it is on the thoughts that he strikes out by the way that his fame depends.
"Victor," said Flamin, to the young Englishman, "give me this night thy friendship for ever, and swear to me that thou wilt never disturb me in my love to thee. Swear thou wilt never plunge me in misfortune and despair!"
The two friends were standing at midnight in the mild, sweet air of May, alone on the watch-tower of the little watering place of St. Luna. It was their first meeting for eight years. Flamin was the son of Chaplain Eymann, who had retired from the court of the Prince of Flachsenfingen; Victor was the heir of Lord Horion, a noble Englishman who lived at Flachsenfingen and directed all the affairs of the prince. The two boys had been sent in their infancy to London and brought up together there for twelve years; then for six years they had lived with Chaplain Eymann at St. Luna, and Victor had naturally conceived a great affection for the old clergyman and a deep love for his son. When, however, Victor was eighteen years of age, Lord Horion had sent him to Goettingen to study medicine, and he had remained at that university for eight years. Everybody wondered why a great English nobleman should want to bring his son up as a physician; but Horion was a politician and his ways were dark and secret. Neither Chaplain Eymann nor the wife of that worthy pastor ever understood why his lordship should have been so anxious that Flamin and Victor should be brought up together and united by the closest ties of friendship; but being good, simple souls, they accepted the favours showered upon their son without seeking to discover if there were any reason for them. Eight years' absence had not diminished Victor's affection for them, but the young English nobleman was alarmed by the strange, wild passion which Flamin displayed as soon as they were alone together.
"You know I love you, Flamin, more than I love myself," he said, clasping his friend in his arms, and leading him to a seat on the watch-tower. "Of course, I swear never to overwhelm you in misfortune, or desert you or hate you. What is it that brings such gloomy thoughts into your mind?"
"I will tell thee everything now, Victor!" exclaimed his friend. "I will open all my heart to thee."
At first he was too much overcome by his feelings to speak. For a long time the two young men remained silent, gazing into the dark blue depths of the night The Milky Way ran, like the ring of eternity, around the immensity of space; below it glided the sharp sickle of the moon, cutting across the brief days and the brief joys of men. But clear among the stars shone the Twins, those ever-burning, intertwined symbols of friendship; westward they rose, and on the right of them blazed the heart of the Lion. The two friends had studied astronomy together, and when Victor pointed out the happy sign in the midnight sky, Flamin began to tell him his troubles. He, a poor clergyman's son, had fallen wildly in love with Clotilda, the beautiful daughter of Prince January, of Flachsenfingen. She was living at the country seat of the Lord Chamberlain Le Baut, at St. Luna; so poor Flamin was able to see her every day. Knowing that he could neither forget her nor win her, he was tortured by a strange, hopeless jealousy, and he now confessed that, instead of looking forward with joy to Victor's return to his home, he had been consumed with fear lest his brilliant, noble, handsome friend should utterly eclipse him in the sight of his beloved lady.
"Cannot I do anything to help you?" said Victor, tenderly.
"Your father has immense influence over Prince January," said Flamin, "could you beg him to get me some court position at Flachsenfingen? If only I could make my way in the world, perhaps I might be able to hope to win at last the hand of my lady."
Victor at once promised to do all in his power; and the two friends, newly reattached to each other, came down from the watch-tower, and, with their arms lovingly entwined, they returned to the parsonage.
The next day Chamberlain Le Baut gave a garden party in honour of the son of the great English minister.
"Take good care!" said the chaplain's wife as Victor set off; "she is very beautiful."
Victor had no need to ask who "she" was.
"I shall take care not to take care," he replied, with a smile.
Victor was too much of a man of the world to fall in love at first sight. But when he entered the garden, and a sweet, tall, and lovely figure came forward to greet him from behind the foliage, he felt as if all his blood had been driven in his face. It was Clotilda. She spoke to him, but he listened to the melody of her voice, instead of to her words, so that he did not understand what she was saying. Her quiet, reserved eyes, however, brought him to his senses; but still he could not help feeling glad that, as Flamin's friend, he had some claim upon her attention and her society. It seemed to him as if everything that she did was done by her for the first time in life; and he would no doubt have shown a strange embarrassment in her company if the Lord Chamberlain and his wife and a throng of guests had not come into the garden and surrounded him and distracted him by their compliments. Recovering his self-possession, he concealed his real feelings by giving full play to his faculty for malicious and witty sayings. But though he succeeded in amusing the company, he displeased Clotilda; for the talk fell on the topic of women.
"The thing which a girl most easily forgets," said the Lord Chamberlain, "is how she looks; that is why she is always gazing into a mirror."
"Perhaps that is also the reason," said Victor, "why no woman regards another as more beautiful than she is. The most that a woman will admit is that her rival is younger than herself."
Nothing fell upon Clotilda—and this is always found in the best of her sex—more keenly than satire upon womankind, and though she concealed the fact that she both endured and despised this sort of wit, she began to distrust the lips and the heart of the young Englishman, and treated him during this time with such cold civility, that he had to exaggerate his wild gaiety in order to conceal the grief that he felt.
But as she was walking at evening in the garden, a loose leaf blew out of a book that she was holding, and Victor picked it up and read: "On this earth man has only two and a half minutes—one to smile, one to sigh, and a half a one to love; for in the midst of it he dies."
"Dahore! This is a saying of Dahore!" exclaimed Victor. "Clotilda, do you know my beloved master Dahore?" Clotilda turned towards him, her face transfigured with a lovely radiance. Their two noble souls discovered at last their affinity in their common love for the wise and gracious spirit who had nourished their young souls. For some strange reason Lord Horion, as they found out as soon as they began to converse together in a sweet and sincere intimacy, had had them brought up by the same master; and Dahore, an eccentric, lovable man with a profound wisdom, had made them, in both mind and soul, comrades to each other, though he educated one in London and the other at St. Luna.
"He taught Flamin and me at the same time," said Victor, looking to see what effect the name of his friend had on Clotilda. She smiled sweetly, but mysteriously, when he went on to speak of his loving friendship for the son of Chaplain Eymann.
The next day he knew why her smile was so mysterious. Lord Horion arrived from Flachsenfingen with some extraordinary news. Flamin had been appointed a counsellor to Prince January. Never had Victor in his wildest dreams of his friend's advancement, imagined that he would obtain at a leap so high an important position as this. The young Englishman himself had been sent to study at Goettingen in order that he might be qualified to act as the prince's physician; but Flamin, without any labour, had suddenly obtained a place of authority almost equal to that occupied by Lord Horion.
Late that evening, however, Lord Horion revealed to his son a strange secret, in the light of which everything was explained. The Prince of Flachsenfingen was a man of a rather weak and evil character, over whom Horion ruled by sheer force of will. Prince January had had two children, a boy and a girl, and the English lord had had them brought up far away from the malicious influences of the court. In order that January might not interfere in the education of the heir, Horion had told him that the boy had perished in infancy in London. As a matter of fact, the child had been brought up with Victor.
"So Flamin is the heir to the throne of Flachsenfingen!" exclaimed Victor.
"Yes," said Horion, "and I have trained you to guide and direct him in the same way as I guide and direct his father. For the present, however, I must have complete control of the matter. Swear that you will not divulge the secret of Flamin's birth to him or to any one else, before I give you permission."
For a moment Victor hesitated. He remembered the promise that Flamin had wrung from him on the watch-tower, and this, he was beginning to see, might involve him in a perilous misunderstanding.
"Does Clotilda know?" he said.
"I revealed the secret to her when she came to St. Luna," said Horion, "under the same conditions that I am now revealing it to you. She swore to reveal it under no circumstances whatever, and you must do the same before you leave this spot."
So Victor took the oath with a strange mixture of misgiving and joy. As he walked back, slowly and thoughtfully, to the chaplain's house, he at last admitted to himself that he was deeply in love with Clotilda. Instead of returning to England and leaving Flamin in possession of the field, as he had resolved on doing, he was now at liberty to try and win the beautiful, noble girl. On the other hand, Flamin would misunderstand his actions, and this would bring both of them into great danger.
The next day Victor received his appointment as physician to the Prince of Flachsenfingen, and he was summoned to the court, together with Clotilda. He now divined what his father's intentions were in regard to him and the lovely young girl. Instead, however, of going with her to Flachsenfingen, he dressed himself in poor attire and set out on an aimless journey through Europe, without telling anyone where he was going.
Victor had a profound aversion from the wild and yet vacant kind of life that men pursued at the court of the Prince of Flachsenfingen. He was comforted in his separation by the thought that so long as it lasted he was spared from disturbing the delusions of her jealous brother. But when he at last came to Flachsenfingen, he was grieved to find that his beautiful lady had grown pale and sorrowful. Like a sweet flower taken from the clear fresh air of the forest and placed in a hot, closed room, she was pining in the close, heavy atmosphere of the court, which was so crowded and yet so lonely. At the sight of her distress, Victor forgot his promise to Flamin. Meeting her at evening in the forest near the palace, he sank on his knees before her in the dewy grass, and told her all his love for her, and of the promise he had made to Flamin. Clotilda stooped and clasped his hand, and drew him up, and he folded her to his breast.
"We must part, dearest," he said, "until my father sees fit to reveal to your brother the secret of his birth."
A nightingale broke out into a passion of song as Victor gathered up his courage to bid her farewell. The call of the nightingale was suddenly answered by another nightingale. It kept flying as it sang, and, with its voice muffled by the thick blossoms on the trees, it sent a languishing melody flowing out of a dim, flowering dell a hundred paces away. The two lovers, who dreaded and delayed to part, wandered confusedly after the receding nightingale into the hollow of the forest; they knew not that they were alone, for in their hearts was God. At last Clotilda recovered herself, and as the nightingale ceased, she turned round to say good-bye. But Victor lingered, and took both of her hands, though for very grief he could not bear to look upon her. With tears in his eyes he murmured, "Good-bye, my dearest. My heart is too heavy. I can say no more. Do not sorrow, darling. Nothing can part us now—neither life nor death."
Like a transfigured spirit bending down to an angel, he stooped and touched her sweet mouth. In a gentle kiss, in which their hovering souls only glided tremorously from afar to meet each other with fluttering wings, he took from her yielding lips the seal of her pure love. As he did so, there came a crashing sound from the dark trees around them.
"You scoundrel!" cried Flamin, rushing down into the hollow, his eyes gleaming in the moonlight, and his face white with anger. "Take it, take it! I will have your blood for this!"
He had two pistols in his hand, and he thrust one fiercely towards Victor. The Englishman drew Clotilda aside, and then went up to his friend, saying, "I have not wronged you. Believe me, Flamin, I remember the oath I gave you, and I swear that I have been faithful to you. Only wait until I see my father, and everything will be explained."
"I want no explanation, you faithless scoundrel," shouted Flamin, "Take it, or I will kill you where you stand."
In his blind fury he was pointing the muzzle of the pistol at the trembling form of Clotilda, and Victor snatched the weapon from him in order to save her.
"I will have blood for this—blood, blood!" Flamin kept saying, reeling about the floor of the dell like a drunken man.
"You are my brother, my brother!" cried Clotilda. "Don't you hear? You are my brother!"
She ran up to Flamin to take the pistol from him, but reeled and fell to the ground in a swoon. Victor looked at her wildly, and thinking that she was dead, turned upon Flamin.
"If you want blood," he said sternly, "take mine."
"You fire first," exclaimed Flamin.
Victor lifted his pistol up into the air and shot at the top of a tree; then he stood calm and silent waiting for Flamin to fire. His old friend pointed the pistol straight at his heart, but hesitated; and Clotilda recovered her senses and staggered to her feet, and threw herself before her lover. Flamin looked at them in gloomy wonder without lowering his pistol. He would have liked to kill them both with one shot, but the instinct of a life-long friendship unnerved him. He hurled his pistol away, saying, "It isn't worth troubling to kill a scoundrel like you," and then turned and strode fiercely through the forest.
* * * * *
Some weeks afterwards Victor was standing on the watch-tower at St. Luna alone, with a letter from Lord Horion in his hand. He looked down from the height, and he was tempted to throw himself over. He had regained the friendship of Flamin, but it seemed to him that he had now lost all hope of winning Clotilda. For Lord Horion had explained the whole of the strange, tortuous policy which he had used in regard to Prince January. He informed Victor that he had introduced Flamin to the prince, and had proved to him that the young man was his heir. "They asked me, my dear Victor," Horion went on to say in his letter, "a question which I was surprised at your not asking. If Flamin is the son of the prince, where is the son of Chaplain Eymann whom I took to London to be educated with him? My dear boy, I have no son, and you really are the child of Eymann and his good wife. This secret I felt bound to reveal to the prince at the same time that I was forced to reveal the secret of Flamin's birth. It was because I wished to postpone the revelations until you were established in the prince's good graces that I made you take the oath that you took so unwillingly."
Victor felt that what the heir to a great English nobleman might aspire to, the son of a poor country clergyman could never hope to attain. By a strange vicissitude of fortune he now found himself in the same position as that in which Flamin had been when they met on the watch-tower after their long separation. His mournful meditations were suddenly interrupted by two figures who had silently crept up the stairs of the tower. They were Flamin and Clotilda, and each of them put an arm around Victor and led him to the parsonage. On the way he learnt that Clotilda had known all along that he was the son of Chaplain Eymann.
* * * * *
The climax of Jean Paul Richter's inspiration, and of his obscurity, was reached in "Titan," published during 1801-3. He meant it to be his greatest romance, and posterity has confirmed his judgement. Of all his works, it is the most characteristic of its author. It has all the peculiarities of his style, peculiarities that are reflected in the prose of Thomas Carlyle, his most eminent British admirer and interpreter. The book itself took ten years to write, and according to his correspondence, Richter intended to call it "Anti-Titan," having in view his attacks on the material selfishness of the age which, to gain its own ends, would move mountains. The motive—a comparison between a man of moral grandeur and one of grandiose immorality—came to Richter while he was engaged on "Hesperus," a fact that explains why certain characters from the earlier romance reappear in "Titan."
For many years Albano, the young Spanish Count Cesara, had lived within sight of the capital city of the state of Hohenfliess; yet he had never entered it—his mother, so his father told him, had shut it against him, desiring that he should be reared in the Carthusian monastery of rural life, not sullied in his youth by mingling with courtiers and men of the world.
And now the gates of Pestitz were open to him. Contemplate the heated face of my hero, who at last is riding into the streets, built up in his fancy of temples of the sun, where who knows but that at every long window, on every balcony, his beloved Liana may be standing?
Gaspard, Count Cesara, Knight of the Fleece, had met his son, for the first time in Albano's memory, at Lake Maggiore, and Albano had come away from the meeting with a feeling of chill that poisoned his heart, eager as it was to love and be loved, and a vague, discomposing sense that in his birth there was a mystery. But the thought of his father's coldness, all thoughts that troubled and confused, were forgotten on his entry into Pestitz, in the eager hope of seeing Liana, his beloved, and his friend, her brother, Charles Roquairol; for neither his beloved nor her brother had he ever yet in his life beheld.
The love and the friendship were of the imagination, and the imagination was begotten of the accounts given by Von Falterle, the accomplishments-master of Albano in the village of Bluemenbuhl, and of his former pupil Liana, daughter of the Minister von Froulay. It was his wont to paste up long altar-pieces of Liana's charms, charms which her father had sought to enhance by means of delicate and almost meagre fare, by shutting up his orangery, whose window he seldom lifted off from this flower of a milder clime—until she had become a tender creature of pastil-dust, which the gusts of fate and monsoons of climate could almost blow to pieces. In Albano's silent heart, therefore, there was to be seen a saintly image of Liana, the ascending Raphael's Mary, but, like the pictures of the saints in Passion-week, hanging behind a veil.
And as for her brother, the madcap Roquairol, who in his thirteenth year had shot at himself with suicidal intent because the little Countess Linda de Romeiro, Albano's father's ward, had turned her back upon him, could our hero's admiration be withheld from a youth of his own age who already possessed all the accomplishments and had tasted all the passions?
When Albano entered Pestitz, eager that his dreams of love and friendship should be realised, the aged Prince of Hohenfliess had just departed this life, and Liana, intimate friend of the Princess Julienne, daughter of the dead prince, was smitten with temporary blindness, due to emotion and consequent headache. Albano first beheld her in the garden of her father, the minister, standing in the glimmer of the moon. The blest youth saw irradiated the young, open, still Mary's-brow, and the delicate proportions, which, like the white attire, seemed to exalt the form. Thou too fortunate man!—to whom the only visible goddess, Beauty, appears so suddenly, in her omnipotence!
Ah, why must a deep, cold cloud steal through this pure and lofty heaven?
The inauguration of the new prince was held—of the enfeebled Prince Luigi—upon whose expected speedy decease the neighbouring princely house of Haarkaar founded its hopes of acquiring the dominions of Hohenfliess. It was on the night of an inauguration ball that Albano, having poured out his heart to Roquairol in a letter, met his long-hoped-for friend, and sealed their affections by declaring that he would never wed Linda de Romeiro, whom it was thought Count Gaspard had designed for his son's bride, and for whom Roquairol's youthful passion had not been extinguished.
When Liana recovered her sight, she was sent to Bluemenbuhl for restoration of health—to the home of Albano's foster-father, the provincial-director Wehrfritz. Thither often came Albano; thither also came Roquairol, to bask in the wondering admiration that Rabette, Albano's foster-sister, bestowed on him with all the fervour of her innocent rural mind. Albano's dream was fulfilled; he loved Liana in realty as he had loved her in imagination. Roquairol thought he loved Rabette; in truth, her simplicity was to this experienced conqueror of feminine hearts but a new and, for the moment, overmastering sensation.
On a glorious evening Albano and Liana stood on a sloping mountain-ridge; overhead was a heaven filled with a life-intoxicated, tumultuous creation, as the sun-god stalked away over his evening-world. He seized Liana's hands and pressed them wildly to his breast; flames and tears suffused his eyes and his cheeks, and he stammered, "Liana, I love thee!"
She stepped back, and drew her white veil over her face.
"Wouldst thou love the dead?" she said.
He knew her meaning. Her friend Caroline, whom she had loved and who had died, had appeared in a vision, and announced that she would die in the next year.
"The vision was not true!" cried Albano.
"Caroline, answer him!" Liana folded her hands as if in prayer; then she raised the veil, looked at him tenderly, and said, in a low tone, "I will love thee, good Albano, if I do not make thee miserable."
"I will die with thee!" said he.
Charles appeared with Rabette; he, also, had spoken frantic words of love, and Rabette clung around him compassionately, as a mother around her child.
A few more days of joyous life at Bluemenbuhl, and Liana returned to her home at Pestitz. Then for weeks Albano saw nothing of her, heard nothing of her. Liana was in sore trouble. Her father had disapproved of the match; what mattered much more to her, her mother also. The mother's opposition was on the quite decisive ground that she could not endure Albano.