Anna St. Ives
Part 8 out of 11
An absolute, an indefeasible right!
You go too fast!
They are your own principles: they are principles founded on avowed and
indisputable truths. I claim justice from you!
This is wrong!--Surely it is wrong!--This cannot be!
Instead of the chaste husband, such as better times and spirits of
higher dignity have known, who comes with lips void of guile the
rightful claimant of an innocent heart, in which suspicion never
harboured, imagine me to be a traitorous wretch, who poorly seeks to
gratify a momentary, a vile, a brutal passion! Imagine me, I say, such
a creature if you can! Once I should have feared it; but you have
taught my thoughts to soar above such vulgar terrors. My appeal is not
to your passions, but your principles. Inspired by that refulgent
ardour which animates you, with a noble enthusiasm you have yourself
bid me put you to the proof. You cannot, will not, dare not be unjust!
And now, Fairfax, behold her in the very state I wished! Cowed,
silenced, overawed! Her ideas deranged, her tongue motionless, wanting
a reply, her eyes wandering in perplexity, her cheeks growing pale, her
lips quivering, her body trembling, her bosom panting! Behold I say the
wild disorder of her look! Then turn to me, and read secure triumph,
concealed exultation, and bursting transport on my brow! While
impetuous, fierce, and fearless desire is blazing in my heart, and
mounting to my face! See me in the very act of fastening on her! And
Curses!--Everlasting curses pursue and catch my perfidious evil
genius!--See that old Incubus' Mrs. Clarke enter, with a letter in her
hand that had arrived express, and was to be delivered instantly!--Our
mutual perturbation did not escape the prying witch; my countenance
red, hers pale--The word begone! maddened to break loose from my
impatient tongue. My eyes however spoke plainly enough, and the hag was
unwillingly retiring, when a faint--'Stay, Mrs. Clarke'--called her
As I foreboded, it was all over for this time! She opened the letter.
What its contents were I know not; and impossible as it is that they
should relate to me, I yet wish I did. I am sure by her manner they
were extraordinary. I could not ask while that old beldam was present
[Had she been my grandmother, on this occasion I should have abused
her.] and the eye of the young lady very plainly told me she wished me
away. It was prudent to make the best retreat possible, and with the
best grace: I therefore bowed and took my leave; very gravely telling
her I hoped she would seriously consider what I had said, and again
emphatically pronounced the word _justice!_
You have now, Fairfax, been a spectator of the scene; and if its many
niceties have escaped you, if you have not been hurried away, as I was,
by the tide of passion, and amazed at the successful sophistries which
flowed from my tongue, sophistries that are indeed so like truth that I
myself at a cooler moment should have hesitated to utter them; if I say
the deep art with which the whole was conducted, and the high acting
with which I personified the only possible Being that could subjugate
Anna St. Ives do not excite your astonishment, why then you really are
a dull fellow! But I know you too well, Fairfax, to do you such
injustice as this supposes. Victory had declared for me. I read her
thoughts. They were labouring for an answer, I own; but she was too
much confounded. And would I have given her time to rally? No! I should
then have merited defeat.
The grand difficulty however is vanquished: she will hear me the next
time with less surprise, and the emotions of passion, genuine honest
mundane passion, must take their turn; for not even she, Fairfax, can
be wholly exempt from these emotions. I have not the least fear that my
eloquence should fail me, and absolute victory excepted, I could not
have wished for greater success.
I cannot forget this letter. It disturbs and pesters my imagination. I
supposed it to be from Edward, who has been at Bath; but my valet has
just informed me he is returned. Perhaps it is from my sister; and if
so, by its coming express, my mother is dead! I really fear it bodes me
harm--I am determined to rid myself of this painful suspense. I will
therefore step to Grosvenor-street. I may as well face the worst at
once. You shall hear more when I return.
Oh, Fairfax! I could curse most copiously, in all heathenish and
christian tongues! She has shut herself up, and refuses to see me! This
infernal fellow Frank Henley is returned too. He arrived two hours
after the express. I suspect it came from him; nay I suspect--Flames
and furies!--I must tell you!
I have seen Laura, though scarcely for two minutes. She is afraid she
is watched. It is all uproar, confusion, and suspicion at Sir Arthur's.
But the great curse is my groom, the lad that I told you copied my
letter to Abimelech, has been sent for and privately catechised by her
and her paramour! And what confirms this most tormenting of all
conjectures is the absence of the fellow: he has not been home since,
nor at the stables, though he was always remarkably punctual, but has
sent the key; so that he has certainly absconded.
Had I not been a stupid booby, had I given Laura directions to keep out
of the way of Anna, but in the way of taking messages for her, she
might have received the express, and all might have been well. Such a
blockheadly blunder well deserves castigation!
I'll deny the letter, Fairfax. They have no proof, and I'll swear
through thick and thin rather than bring myself into this universal,
this damnatory disgrace! I know indeed she will not believe me; and I
likewise know that now it must be open war between us. For do not think
that I will suffer myself to be thus shamefully beaten out of the
field. No, by Lucifer and his Tophet! I will die a foaming maniac,
fettered in straw, ere that shall happen! If not by persuasion, she
shall be mine by chicanery, or even by force. I will perish, Fairfax,
sooner than desist!
Oh for an agent, a coadjutor worthy of the cause! He must and shall be
The uncle and aunt must be courted: the father I expect will side with
her. The brother too must be my partisan; for it will be necessary I
should maintain an intercourse, and the shew of still wishing for
I am half frantic, Fairfax! To be baffled by such an impossible
accident, after having acted my part with such supreme excellence, is
insupportable! But the hag Vengeance shall not slip me! No! I have
fangs to equal hers, ay and will fasten her yet! I have been injured,
insulted, frustrated, and fiends seize me if I relent!
_Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton_
_London, Grosvenor Street_
Louisa!--My dear, my kind, my affectionate Louisa!--My friend!--What
shall I say? How shall I begin? I am going to rend your heart.--
Keep this letter from the sight of Mrs. Clifton: if she have not
already been told, do not let her know such a letter exists--Oh this
brother!--But he is not your brother--Error so rooted, so malignant, so
destructive exceeds all credibility!
He came to me yesterday morning, as was his custom. There was something
in his look which, could I but have read it, was exceedingly
descriptive of the workings of his heart. It was painful to see him.
He endeavoured to smile and for a moment to talk triflingly, but could
not. He was in a tremor; his mouth parched, his lips white.
His next essay was to philosophise; but in this attempt too he was
entirely at fault.
The passions are all sympathetic, and none more so than this of
trepidation. I cannot recollect what the ideas were that passed hastily
through my mind; but I know he excited much alarm, doubt, and I believe
But, though he had found all this difficulty to begin, having begun he
recovered himself very surprisingly. His colour returned, his voice
became firm, his ideas clear, his reasoning energetic, and his manner
commanding. He seemed to mould my hopes and apprehensions as he
pleased, to inspire terror this moment, and the excess of confidence
Louisa, my heart bleeds to say it, but his purposes were vile, his
hypocrisy odious, and--I must forbear, and speak of foul deeds in fair
terms. I know not how many prejudices rise up to warn me; one that I am
a woman, or rather a girl; another that I am writing to the man's
sister; a third that she is my friend, and so on with endless et
ceteras. No matter that truth is to this friend infinitely more
precious than a brother. I may be allowed to feel indignation, but not
to express my feeling.
But the most distressing, the most revolting part of all is, that he
harangued like the apostle of truth, the name of which he vilely
prophaned, in favour of the basest, most pitiful, most contemptible of
vices; the mere vain glory of seduction. He has not even so much as the
gratification of sensual appetite to plead in his excuse. I am wrong;
it was not vain glory. Vanity itself, contemptible as such a stimulus
would have been, was scarcely a secondary motive. It was something
worse; it was revenge. My mind has been wholly occupied in retracing
his past behaviour; I can think on no other subject, and every trait
which recollection adds is a confirmation of this painful idea. He does
not wish to marry me, and I almost doubt whether he ever did, at least
fully and unreservedly.
He came to me, Louisa, and began with painting the torments of delay
and the pangs of jealousy, which he endeavoured to excuse; and
concluded with a bold appeal to my justice; a daring, over-awing,
confounding appeal. He called upon me at my peril, and as I respected
truth and virtue, to deny his claim.
And what was this claim?--I was his wife!--In every pure and virtuous
sense his wife; and he demanded the privilege of a husband!--Demanded,
Louisa!--Demanded!--And demanded it in such a tone, with such rapid,
overbearing, bold expressions, and such an apparent consciousness of
right, that for a moment my mind was utterly confused!
Not that it ceded; no, not an instant. I knew there was answer, a just
and irrefragable one, but I could not immediately find it. He
perceived my disorder, and you cannot imagine what a shameless and
offensive form his features assumed! I know not what he would not
instantly have attempted, had not, while I was endeavouring to awake
from my lethargy, Mrs. Clarke come in! She brought me a letter--It was
sent express!--The hand writing was Frank's! Agitated as I was,
suspicion influenced me, and I retreated a few steps. I opened the
letter, and the first words I saw were--'Beware of Mr. Clifton.'--
It contained only half a dozen lines, and I read on. What follows were
Beware of Mr. Clifton!--Had I not good cause, madam, I would not be so
abrupt an accuser: but I am haunted, tortured by the dread of
possibilities, and therefore send this away express--Beware of Mr.
Clifton!--I will not be long after the letter, and I will then explain
why I have written what to you may appear so strange.
Think, Louisa, what must be the effect of such a letter, coming at such
a moment!--I believe I was in no danger; though, if there be a man on
the face of the earth more dangerous than any other, it is surely
Clifton. But the watchful spirit of Frank seems placed like my guardian
angel, to protect me from all possible harm.
My mind debated for a moment whether it were not wrong to distrust the
power of truth and virtue, and not to let Mr. Clifton see I could
demolish the audacious sophistry by which he had endeavoured to
confound and overwhelm me. But my ideas were deranged, and I could not
collect sufficient fortitude. Oh how dangerous is this confusion of the
judgment, and how desirable that heavenly presence of mind which is
equal to these great these trying occasions! I therefore thought it
more prudent to suffer him to depart, and suspect vilely of me, than to
encounter the rude contest which he would more audaciously recommence,
were I to send away Mrs. Clarke, which he might even misconstrue into a
signal of approbation. These fears prevailed, and I desired her to
stay, and by my manner told him I wished his absence.
Louisa, how shall I describe my anguish of heart at seeing all those
hopes of a mind so extraordinary, for extraordinary it is even in
guilt, at once overthrown? It was indeed iteration of anguish! What!
Can guile so perfectly assume the garb of sincerity? Can hypocrisy
wear so impenetrable a mask? How shall we distinguish? What guide
have we? How be certain that the next seeming virtuous man we meet
is not a--Well, well, Louisa--I will remember--Brother. My Louisa
knows it is not from the person, but from the vice that I turn away
with disgust. Would I willingly give her heart a pang? Let her tell
me if she can suspect it. She has fortitude, she has affection; but
it is an affection for virtue, truth, and justice. She will endeavour
to reform error the most obdurate. So will I, so will all that are
worthy the high office. But she will not wish me either to marry with
or to countenance this error. Marry?--how does my soul shudder at the
thought! His reasoning was just; seduction would have been a petty
injury, or rather a blessing, compared to this master evil! He was
most merciful when he meant me, as he thought, most destruction. I
have been guilty of a great error. The reformation of man or woman
by projects of marriage is a mistaken a pernicious attempt. Instead
of being an act of morality, I am persuaded it is an act of vice. Let
us never cease our endeavours to reform the licentious and the
depraved, but let us not marry them.
The letter had not been delivered more than two hours before Frank
arrived. You may think, Louisa, how hard he had ridden; but he refused
to imagine himself fatigued. He brought another letter, which Abimelech
had received, but which for some hours he obstinately refused to give
up, and for this reason Frank sent off the express. A letter, not of
Clifton's writing, but of his invention and sending!
Finding that Frank was likely to prevail on his father to raise the
money for Sir Arthur, and obviate all further impediments to our
marriage, Clifton, fearful that it should take place, wrote anonymously
to Abimelech, to inform him I was in love with Frank, and to encourage
him to persist. But read the letter yourself; the following is a true
copy of it.
[Footnote 1: The reader has already perused it in Letter XCIV, to which
he is referred.].
If such a letter be his, I am sure, Louisa, you will not say I have
thought or spoken too unkindly of him; and that it is his we have
indubitable proof, though it was anonymous and not in his handwriting.
You no doubt remember, Louisa, the short story of the English lad, whom
your brother hired at Paris. It was written by him, though innocently
and without knowing what was intended. This lad has an aunt, who after
having laboured to old age is now lame, infirm, and in need of support.
The active Frank has been with her, has aided her with money and
consoled her with kindness. The lad himself was desirous of assisting
her; and Frank, willing to encourage industry in the young, gave him
some writings to copy at his leisure hours. By this accident he knew
the lad's hand-writing.
I forgot to mention, in its proper place, the astonishment of Frank at
the sudden change in his father, and the firm resolution he took to
discover the cause of this change. The obstinacy of Abimelech was
extreme; but Frank was still more pertinacious, more determined, and so
unwearied and incessant, in his attacks on his father, that the old man
at last could resist no longer, and shewed him this letter.
From what has preceded, that is from his manner of acting, you may well
imagine what the alarms and sensations of Frank were. He brought the
letter up with him, for he would not trust it out of his own custody,
and immediately went himself to Clifton's stables in search of the lad,
brought him to me, and then first shewed him the letter, which that no
possible collusion might be alleged he had left in my keeping, and then
asked if it were not his hand-writing. The lad very frankly and
unhesitatingly answered it was; except the direction, which this
plotting Clifton had procured to be written by some other person.
Without telling the lad more than was necessary, Frank advised him to
quit his service, for that there was something relating to that letter
which would certainly occasion a quarrel, and perhaps worse, between
him and his master: and, as it would be prudent for him to keep out of
the way, he sent him down to Wenbourne-Hill, where the lad is at
And now what shall I say to my Louisa? How shall I sooth the feelings
of my friend? Do they need soothing? Does she consider all mankind as
her relations and brothers, or does she indeed imagine that one whose
principles are so opposite to her own is the only brother she
possesses? Will she grieve more for him than she would for any other,
who should be equally unfortunate in error? Or does she doubt with me
whether grief can in any possible case be a virtue? And if so, is there
any virtue of which she is incapable? What is relation, what is
brother, what is self, if relation, brother, or self be at war with
truth? And does not truth command us to consider beings exactly as they
are, without any respect to this relationship, this self?
But I know my Louisa; she will never be impatient under trial, however
severe; nor foolishly repine for the past, though she will strenuously
labour for the future.
All good, all peace, all happiness, all wisdom be with her!
A. W. ST. IVES
_Louisa Clifton to her Brother Coke Clifton_
On Friday morning I received the original letter from Anna St. Ives, of
which the inclosed is a copy; and on the following day about a quarter
of an hour before midnight my mother expired. I mention these
circumstances together because they were noticed, by those who were
necessarily acquainted with them, as having a relation to each other;
whether real or imaginary, much or little I do not pretend to
determine; but I will relate the facts and leave them to your own
reflection; and I will forbear all colouring, that I may not be
suspected of injustice.
My mother as you know has been daily declining, and was indeed in a
very feeble state. She seemed rather more cheerful that morning than
she had been lately, and at her particular request I went to visit the
wife of farmer Beardmore, who is a worthy but poor woman, and who being
at present dejected, in consequence of poverty and ill health, my
mother thought she might be more benefited by the kindness of the
little relief we could afford her if delivered by me, than if sent by a
less soothing and sympathetic hand. I should hope, sir, it would be
some consolation to you to learn that my mother's active virtue never
forsook her, while memory and mind remained. But of this you are the
While I was gone the postman brought the letter of my friend; and as
her letters were always read to my mother, and as I likewise have made
it a rule and a duty not to have any secrets to conceal from her, or
indeed from any body, she had no scruple to have the letter opened,
because she expected to find consolation and hope: for, till the
arrival of this, the letters of Anna St. Ives have lately been all
zealous in your praise.
I will leave you, sir, to imagine the effect which a letter beginning
as this did must have on a mind and body worn to such a tremulous state
of sensibility. Coming as it did first into my mother's hand, the very
caution which the benevolent heart of Anna dictated produced the effect
she most dreaded. My mother had still however a sufficient portion of
her former energy to hear it to the end.
In about an hour after this happened I returned, and found her in
extreme agitation of mind. I neglected no arguments, no efforts to calm
her sensations; and I succeeded so far that after a time she seemed to
be tolerably resigned. She could not indeed forget it, and the subject
was revived by her several times during the day.
My chief endeavour was to lead her thoughts into that train which, by
looking forward to the progress of virtue, is most consoling to the
mind of virtue.
She seemed at last fatigued, and about eleven o'clock at night fell
into a doze. About a quarter before twelve I perceived her countenance
distorted; I was alarmed; I spoke to her and received no answer; I
endeavoured to excite attention or motion, but in vain. A paralytic
stroke had deprived her of sensation. In this state she remained
four-and-twenty hours, and about midnight departed.
I have thought it strictly incumbent on me to relate these
circumstances. But I should consider myself as very highly culpable did
I seek to aggravate, or to state that as certainty which can never be
any thing more than conjecture. My mother was so enfeebled that we
began to be in daily apprehension of her death. I must not however
conceal that the thought of your union with Anna St. Ives had been one
of her principal pleasures, ever since she had supposed it probable;
and that she had spoken of it incessantly, and always with that high
degree of maternal affection and cheering hope which you cannot but
know was congenial to her nature.
The disappointment itself was great, but the turpitude that attended it
much greater. This I did not endeavour to palliate. How could I? I have
told you I had no resource for consolation, either for myself or her,
but in turning, like Anna St. Ives, from the individual to the whole.
I would endeavour to say something that should shew you the folly of
such conduct; for the folly of it is even more excessive than the vice;
but, not to mention the state of my own mind at this moment, I despair
of producing any effect, since Anna St. Ives herself, aided by so many
concurring motives, has failed in the generous and disinterested
I imagine you will be down at the funeral. Perhaps it is proper. I
cannot say, for indeed I do not very well understand many of what are
called the proprieties of custom. I own I am weak enough to feel some
pain at meeting you, under the present circumstances. But, since it is
necessary I should act and aid you in various family departments, if
you should come down, I will not yield to these emotions, but
considering you as an erring brother, will endeavour to perform what
P.S. Previous to this I wrote three different letters, but they were
all as I fear too expressive of those strong sensations which I have
found it very difficult to calm. I destroyed them, not because they
were wrong, but lest they should produce a wrong effect.
_Coke Clifton to his Sister Louisa Clifton_
_London, Dover Street_
I have received your very lenient, equitable, calumniating, insulting
letter; and I would have you put it down in your memorandum-book that I
will carefully remember the obligation. It perfectly accords with your
sublime ideas of justice to decide before you have heard both parties;
and it is equally consistent with your notions of sisterly affection
that you should pass sentence on a brother. What is a brother, or all
he may have to say, to you; who, more infallible than the holy father
himself, have squared a set of rules of your own, by which you judge as
you best know how?
Your insinuations concerning the death of my mother are equally
charitable, and I have already learnt them by rote. Yes, madam, assure
yourself they will not be forgotten. Any suspense of judgment would
have ill become a lady so clear sighted. However possible it may be
that Anna St. Ives may herself have been imposed upon, and I both
ignorant and innocent of this forged letter, yet for you to have
entertained any doubts in my favour would have partaken too much of the
fogs of earth for so inspired and celestial a lady.
But I must tell you, madam, since you can so readily forego equity in a
brother's behalf, I can and will be as ready to forget and cast off the
sister. I never yet was or will be injured with impunity: I would have
you note down that.
I mean to be at Rose-Bank tomorrow or the day after, to attend the
funeral and take such order as my affairs may require; and though I
have as little affection for your company as you have for mine, I
imagine it will be quite necessary for you to be there: not only that
you should be present to execute all orders, but likewise to listen to
a few hints which I shall probably think proper to communicate.
In the mean time, madam, be industrious to propagate the report, if you
think fit, that I have caused anonymous letters to be written to Sir
Arthur's steward, have endeavoured to betray Anna St. Ives, and have
been the death of my mother. Spread the agreeable intelligence I say as
quickly and as widely as you can, and when you meet me you shall
receive a brother's thanks.
END OF VOLUME V
_Abimelech Henley to Sir Arthur St. Ives, Baronet_
Most Onnurable Sir, my ever onnurd Master,
I do hear of strange queerums and quicksets, that have a bin trap laid
for your ever gracious onnur, and for the mercifool lovin kindness of
sweet missee. Whereof I be all in a quandary, for it do seem I wus
within an ames ace of a havin bin chouse flickur'd meself. Whereby I
paradventerd before to tell your noble onnur my poor thofts on this
here Mr. Clifton match marriage, which is all against the grain. And
this I do hope your ever onnurable onnur will pry into, and see with
your own eyes.
Whereof I have a bin ruminatin of many thinks lately, and of the ups
and downs of life, so that I should sing oh be joyfool if as your onnur
would but turn them in your thofts, as I have done. Whereby my son has
a bin down with me; and I do find that sooth and trooth he be verily a
son of my own begettin; and thof I say it a man may be proud of sitch a
son; and as your ever gracious onnur wus most mercifooly pleased to
sifflicate, a wus born a gentleman, for a has his head fool and fool of
Whereby if your onnurable onnur will but a be pleased to lend a
mercifool ear to me, why mayhap I should a be willin to come down with
the kole to your onnur's heart's content. Why not? For I have a talked
matters over with my son, and a has said a many glorious thinks of your
onnur and of sweet mercifool missee, all a witch a learned from me. For
why? He is my own son, and of the issue of my loins, and I did always
giv'n the best of advice. A had his whole feedin and breedin from me,
and as a wus always fain to be a man of learnin why I taught him his
letters meself; whereof I have now reason to be proud of 'n.
But that is not whereof of a what I wus a goin to think to say. I wus
about to paradventer to proposal to your onnur that, if thinks might
behappen to come to pass in the manner of mercifool lovin kindness and
gracious condysension, the wherewithalls should a be forth cummin to
the tune of fifty thousand pounds: that is with the betokenin of all
proper securities of parchments and deeds and doosoors to be first
signed and stipilated, as heretofore have bin on like future occasions.
Take me ritely, your onnur; I mean for the twenty thousand pounds. For
why? I meself will be so all bountifool as to come down on the nail
head with thirty thousand for my son. And then we shall see who will be
a better gentleman, as your onnurable onnur wus most graciously pleased
to kappaishus him?
Whereby Wenbourne Hill would then be in all its glory; and mayhap your
ever gracious onnur might in sitch a case again go on with your
improofments. And who can say but the wildurness might a begin to
flourish? So that if your noble onnur will but think of that, why
thinks may behappen to begin to take a new turn, and there may be mirth
and merry days again at Wenbourne Hill. For I do know in your heart
your onnur do lamentation the loss of all your fine taste, and elegunt
ideers, and plans, and alterations; all of a witch have a bin so many
years a carryin on and a compassin at Wenbourne Hill.
Whereof I umbelly condysend to intreat your noble onnur would a give
these thinks a thinkin. For why? The lawyers might a then be stoptt,
and a spoke might a behappen to be put in the wheel of the
foreclosures; witch if not, as your noble onnur already knows, may not
a turn out to be altogether quite so agreeable, unless your ever
gracious and onnurable onnur should be so all mercifool as to rite to
me; whereof I could then give them the whys and the wherefores, and all
thinks would be smooth and smilin.
I besiege your most noble onnur to ponderate mercifooly of these
thinks, and of a dockin of the entail, and of a settin of the deeds of
the lawyers to work. Whereby every think may in sitch a case be made
safe and secure, not forgettin Wenbourne Hill; and the willdurness, and
mayhap the hermuttidge, and the grotto. For why, your noble onnur?
Where one fifty thousand pound be a forth cummin from, another may a
behappen to be found. But that's a nether here nor there, a savin and
exceptin the death and mortality of man, and the resurrection of the
just and of the repentin sinner in all grace and glory.
And so I most umbelly remain, with the thanks givin of goodness, your
onnur's most faithfool umbel sarvent everlastin to command,
_Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton_
No; I will not attempt to console my Louisa, for I will not suppose
even at the present moment that she yields to grief, or is in need of
consolation. She will not repine at what is not to be remedied, nor
debilitate her mind by dwelling on her own causes of discontent,
instead of awakening it to the numerous sources of happiness, which by
increasing the happiness of others incite it to activity. These are
truths too deeply engraven on the heart of Louisa to be forgotten, and
it is scarcely necessary to revive them even at this serious moment.
With respect to myself, my friend shall be my judge; my whole conduct
shall be submitted to her, with an injunction not to indulge any
partialities in my favour, but to censure, advise, and instruct me
whenever she finds opportunity. Such, Louisa, has been our intercourse;
and we have mutual reason to congratulate each other on its effects.
I have just had a conversation with Sir Arthur. He has received a
letter from Abimelech, which he shewed me. Of all the proofs Frank has
yet given of energy, this relative to his father is perhaps the
strongest. You know the character of Abimelech. Could you think it
possible? He is willing not only to raise twenty thousand pounds for
Sir Arthur, but to pay down thirty more for his son! He begins to be
vain of this son, and has even some slight perception that there may be
other good qualities beside that of getting and hoarding money.
But his cunning is still predominant. Having conceived the possibility
of this marriage, the accomplishment of it is now become his ruling
passion, and has for a moment subjected avarice itself. He neglects no
motive which he thinks may influence Sir Arthur, not even threatening;
though his language is couched in all the art of apparent kindness and
adulation. His letter however has produced its effect on my father, as
you will perceive by the following dialogue, which was begun by Sir
What think you of this proposal, Anna?
I ought rather to ask what are your thoughts on the subject, sir.
I can scarcely tell. I own it does not seem to me quite so unreasonable
as I should once have supposed it; that is as far as relates to me. But
if you should have conceived any partiality for Mr. Clifton, I should
Excuse me, sir, for interrupting you, but Mr. Clifton is at present
wholly out of the question. Were it in my power, which I fear it is
not, to do him any service, I should be as desirous of doing it now as
ever; but I can never more think of him as a husband.
Are you so very determined?
I am; and I hope, sir, my determination is not offensive to you?
I cannot say at present that it is; for not to mention that I think
very well of young Mr. Henley, I own the affair of the anonymous letter
was a very improper and strange proceeding. Your aunt Wenbourne and
Lord Fitz-Allen indeed seem to doubt it; but, according to the account
which you and Mr. Henley give, I think they have no foundation for
The behaviour of Mr. Clifton, without the letter, would have been quite
sufficient to have fixed my determination.
The proof he gave of deceit and depravity of principle, by the manner
in which he endeavoured to seduce me.
When was that?
The very day on which Frank arrived.
Endeavoured to seduce you?
Are you certain of the truth of what you say?
He proceeded too far, and explained himself too openly for me to be
Seduce you!--Then you have entirely given up all thoughts of him?
All thoughts of marrying him I have most certainly.
And what is your opinion of Mr. Henley?
What can it be, sir? Are there two opinions concerning him? And if I
were blind to his virtues, for whose safety he has been so often and so
ardently active, who should do him justice?
I own, Anna, I have often thought you had some love for him, and I am
tempted to think so still.
Love in the sense in which you understand it I have carefully
suppressed, because till now I supposed it incompatible with duty and
virtue; but I acknowledge I begin to doubt; and even to suppose that
his view of the subject has been more rational and true than mine; and
he thinks it is our duty to form a union, for which he owns he has an
Yes, he has honestly told me all that passed between you; and his
sincerity pleased me--But every branch of our family would certainly be
against such a match.
I suppose so.
The world too would consider me as having dishonoured myself, were I to
I believe it would.
And would exclaim against the bad example--What ought to be done?
My opinion has been that the world would have cause to make this
complaint; but I now think, or rather imagine myself convinced that I
was in an error. It appears evident to my mind, at present, that we
ought to consider whether an action be in itself good or bad, just or
unjust, and totally to disregard both our own prejudices, and the
prejudices of the world. Were I to pay false homage to wealth and rank,
because the world tells me it is right that I should do so, and to
neglect genius and virtue, which my judgment tells me would be an
odious wrong, I should find but little satisfaction in the applause of
the world, opposed to self-condemnation.
Mr. Henley is a very good young man; a very good young man indeed; and
I believe I should even be willing to think of him for a son, if it
should not be opposed by the other branches of the family.
But that it surely will.
I am afraid so--Lord Fitz-Allen is half reconciled to us again, and I
would avoid breaking with him if possible. Your aunt has a good opinion
of Mr. Henley.
But a better of Mr. Clifton.
Yes, so I suppose. I must talk to Edward. Mr. Henley has been his
But Edward does not understand friendship. When he says friend he means
acquaintance; and he finds him the most agreeable acquaintance, who
tells him least truth; which certainly is not Mr. Henley. I have
observed him lately to be rather fond of the company of Mr. Clifton,
whom he thinks a better companion.
I own Mr. Henley is very obstinate in his opinions.
If his opinions be true, would you not have him persist in the truth.
But why should he be more certain that what he says is truth than other
Because he has examined with more industry and caution, has a stronger
mind, and a greater love of enquiry. He does not endeavour to make his
principles accord with his practice, but regulates his practice by his
But still I ask what proof he has of being more in the right than other
I wonder, sir, that you can put such a question! He has surely given
both you and me sufficient proofs of superiority; and though you should
doubt the arguments you cannot doubt the facts.
I own he is a very extraordinary young gentleman.
Ah, sir! The word gentleman shews the bent of your thoughts. Can you
not perceive it is a word without a meaning? Or, if it have a meaning,
that he who is the best man is the most a gentleman?
I know your notions, child, and mine differ a little on these matters.
However I do not think you quite so much in the wrong as I used to do;
and perhaps there is something in what you say. Many men of low
fortunes have made their way to the highest honours; and for what I
know he may do the same.
He may and certainly will deserve the highest respect: but if you
flatter yourself, sir, that he will seek or accept the titles and
distinctions which men have invented to impose on each other's folly,
and obtain their own artful purposes, I ought to warn you that you will
be mistaken. His whole life will be devoted to the discovery and
spreading of truth; and, individual acts of benevolence excepted, his
wealth, should he acquire any, will all be dedicated to that sole
I am afraid these are strange whims, Anna!
I hope yet to shew you, sir, they are noble duties; which it is the
excess of guilt to neglect.
It puzzles me to conceive by what means his father could have become so
He has all his life been rapacious after money. His faculties are
strong, but perverted. What would have been wisdom is degenerated into
cunning. He has made himself acquainted with usurers, and they have
made him acquainted with spendthrifts. He has traded in annuities, and
profited by the eagerness of youth to enjoy: and, since I must be
sincere, he has encouraged you, sir, to pursue plans of expence with a
view solely to his own profit.
Well, well; should this marriage take place, it will all return into
That should be no motive, sir, with either you or me.
I do not know that. You understand your own reasons, and I mine; and if
they should but answer the same end there will be no harm.
I was going to reply, but Sir Arthur left me; being unwilling to hear
arguments which he took it for granted he should not understand.
Frank came in soon after, and I repeated to him what had been said.
Louisa, I must tell you the truth and the whole truth. Since I have
begun to imagine I might indulge my thoughts in dwelling on his exalted
qualities and uncommon virtues, my affection for them has greatly
increased: and they never appeared to me more lovely than in the
struggles and checks which his joy received, at the hope of our union,
by the recollection of the loss of Mr. Clifton. He like me is
astonished at the powers of your brother's mind, and at their
perversion; and he fears that this attempt, having failed, will but
serve to render that perversion more obdurate, nay perhaps more active.
He seems even to dread lest I am not secure; which his desire to guard
and caution me against would not suffer him to repress or conceal. His
tenderness and ecstasy, and indeed, Louisa, they were both very strong,
were mingled with regret equally vivid: and Mr. Clifton! Mr. Clifton!
repeatedly burst from him.
While I was relating what had passed between me and Sir Arthur to
Frank, and now again since I have been writing it to you, I accused
myself of coldness, and of shrinking from or rather of half delivering
the truth, lest Sir Arthur should think me a forward girl, or lest I
should think myself capable of too sudden a change. But of the degree
of that change do you, my friend, judge. I have at all times
endeavoured to shew you my naked heart, and often have violently
struggled against every disguise. I never concealed from myself that I
thought more highly of Frank Henley than of Mr. Clifton; but I imagined
principle taught me to prefer what principle now warns me to shun. I am
more and more convinced of the error of marrying a bad man in order to
make him good. I was not entirely ignorant of this before, and
therefore flattered myself the good might be effected previous to
marriage. I forgot, when passion has a purpose to obtain, how artful it
is in concealment.
I have another quarrel with myself, for having been so desirous of
proving to my own conviction that the world's prejudices and the
prejudices of my family ought to be respected, while that opinion
accorded with my practice; and of being now so equally alert to prove
the reverse. Such are the deceptions which the mind puts upon itself!
For indeed I have been very desirous of acting with sincerity in both
instances. I can only say that I feel more certain at present; for
before I had doubts, and now I have none. If you suspect me to be
influenced by inclination, tell me so without reserve.
All good be with my friend! May she profit by my mistakes!
A. W. ST. IVES
_Coke Clifton to Guy Fairfax_
You will perceive, Fairfax, I have changed the scene, and am now in the
country. I have a long narrative to detail, and am sitting in an old
hall with gloom and leisure enough to make it as tedious and as dull as
you could wish. My poor mother has taken her last leave of us, and lies
now a corpse in the room under me. I could be melancholy, or mad, or I
know not what--But 'tis no matter--She brought me here unasked to make
the journey of this world, and now I am obliged to jog on. Not that I
think I should much care if it were shortened, nor how soon; except
that I would live to have my revenge; and that I will have, little
troubling myself though the next minute were certain to be my last. It
rankles at my heart, and lies there corroding, biting, festering, night
I have quarrelled with my sister, and I am sure shall never forgive
her; nor will she forgive me, so that we shall easily balance our
accounts. This Anna St. Ives is her supreme favourite. But no
wonder--No wonder--It would be strange if she were not! Still to be
so ready to give up a brother, and write me such a letter as she did
on the death of my mother! If I do not make her repent it Heaven
But I consider the whole world as my enemies at this moment; you
perhaps, Fairfax, excepted. I say perhaps, for I do not know how soon
you may turn upon and yelp at me with the rest.
Forgive me, Fairfax. I am all venom, all viper, and cannot forbear to
hiss even at my friend. But let my enemies beware! They shall find I
can sting!--These cursed gnawings of heart will not let me begin my
I told you I was determined to deny the anonymous letter. I have been
very industrious with uncle Fitz-Allen and aunt Wenbourne; and have
been equally careful to titilate the vanity of the coxcomb Edward, who
is highly flattered with the attention I have paid him, and will I am
certain become my warm partisan.
They had all heard the story, but were all ready enough to gape and
swallow my tale; which considering it was wholly invention was not ill
composed. I begin to hate myself, to hate her, to hate the whole world,
for being obliged to submit to such a damned expedient. But I will not
recede. I will have my revenge! Were the devil himself waiting to
devour me I would on; or were he engaged against me, I would over-reach
I concerted my measures, and learning that this lad of mine, who wrote
the letter for me, was down at Wenbourne-Hill, I sent my man to
inveigle him to come to me, at an inn where I purposely stopped, in my
way to Rose-Bank. How durst they suborn my servant?--But--! I will stab
and not curse!
My valet executed his commission, and prevailed on the lad to come;
though with some difficulty, for he is a stubborn dog; and had not the
valet followed my directions, and told him it was to do his old master
a service, he would have been foiled. But I took him up at Paris,
destitute and in some danger of starving, which he has not forgotten.
This Henley however is a greater favourite with him than I am; as I
soon found by his discourse.
I began by sounding him, to try if it were possible to prevail on him
to assert he had written the letter at the instigation of Henley,
instead of me; but I soon found it was in vain, and durst not proceed
to let him see my drift.
I then persuaded him that they had totally mistaken my purpose in
writing the letter; that I had done it with a very friendly design;
that I had myself a very great esteem for Henley, and that I meant
nothing but good to Anna; but that there were some reasons, which I
could not explain to him, that had occasioned me to write the letter.
As my next purpose, after that of making him an evidence in my favour,
was to send him entirely out of the way, if I failed in the first
attempt, I began to remind him of the condition in which I had found
him in Paris, which he was ready enough to acknowledge, and seemed
indeed afraid of acting ungratefully. I prompted and strengthened his
fears, and at last told him that, since I found he was a good lad and
meant well, though he was mistaken and had done me an injury, I would
give him an opportunity of shewing his gratitude.
I then pretended that I had a packet of the utmost consequence to be
delivered to my friend in Paris; meaning you, Fairfax; which I durst
not trust to any but a sure hand: and as I knew him to be an honest
lad, I expected he would not refuse to set off with it immediately. It
was an affair almost of life and death! And, that I might impress his
mind with ideas which would associate and beget suitable images, I
began to talk of the decease of my mother, of my own affliction at the
misunderstanding with Anna, of my very great friendship for Henley, and
of the fatal consequences that would attend the miscarriage of the
Still I found him reluctant. He seemed half to suspect me; and yet I
made a very clever tale of it. He talked of Henley and his aunt; and he
had likewise a dread of Paris. His aunt I find has been maintained by
Henley, she being lame and disabled; and as sending him out of the way
was a preliminary step absolutely necessary, I gave him a thirty pound
bank-note, desired him to go to his aunt and give her ten pounds, and
to keep the rest to secure him against any accidents, of which he
seemed afraid, in a strange country; with a promise that he should have
as much more, if he performed his commission faithfully, on his return.
I further enquired the direction of the aunt, telling him I would
undertake to provide for her: and so I must, for she too must be sent
out of the way.
At last, by repeating my professions and again reminding him of my
taking him up at Paris, I was successful. Though I had more trouble in
gaining the compliance of this lout than would have been sufficient,
were I prime minister, and did I bribe with any thing like the same
comparative liberality, to gain ten worthy members of parliament,
though five knights of the shire had been of the number.
He wanted to return to Wenbourne-Hill for his necessaries and trifling
property; and this reminded me not only of the danger of doing that but
of his passing through London. Accordingly I told him to keep the ten
pounds meant for his aunt to buy himself what things he wanted, which I
promised to replace to her, and informed him I now recollected that he
must take the nearest road to Dover, which I pretended lay through
Guildford, Bletchingly, and Tunbridge, leaving London on the left.
The importance, hurry and command I assumed did not give him time to
reflect; and the injunctions I gave were such as I do not imagine he
would have disobeyed. But for my own security, pretending a fear that
he might mistake his way, I sent my valet with him; privately ordering
the valet not to part till he saw him safe on board the packet-boat.
And now, Fairfax, it is not impossible but the wise uncle, who has an
excellent scent at discovery and no small opinion of his own acuteness,
may find out that Henley himself was the forger of this letter; that it
was a collusion between him and the lad, that he has himself removed
both the lad and the aunt, and that his charity is a farce. I say such
an event is possible. You may be sure that the idea shall be wholly his
own, and that I will allow him all the just praise which he will
graciously bestow upon his penetration.
My directions to the lad were to bring the packet immediately to you;
which packet you will find to be blank paper, for I had no time for any
thing more, except a short note of which the following is a copy.
An event which I have not leisure to relate occasions me to send you
this by a special messenger. You will most probably receive a letter
express from me before he arrives, but if not detain him carefully.
Hint not a word of the matter, but make a pretext of urgent business
concerning me, for the issue of which he must wait. At all events do
not let him escape, till you hear further from,
I was obliged to pretend extreme hurry to the lad, but I gave my valet
private instructions to take him round, and use as much delay as he
conveniently could. Meanwhile I will send the letter I am now writing
away express, that you may be fully prepared; for this is a point of
infinite consequence. If you are not in Paris the express is to follow
you; and you will be kind enough to take measures that the lad may
follow the express. He is ordered to wait your commands, which I told
him might possibly detain him a month, or even more; though it might
happen that the business would be transacted in a week.
Not that I can hope the real business can now possibly be so soon
You will take care to make your account agree with mine; and
circumstances oblige me to require of you, Fairfax, to condescend to
get the lad's favour, and not make his stay irksome. You may command me
to ten times this amount, as you know.
This is a melancholy scene, and a gloomy house, and a dismal country;
and I myself am fretful, and moody, and mad, and miserable. I shall
soon get into action, and then it will wear off.
I will have her; ay, by the infernals will I! And on my own terms. I
know she is rejoicing now in her Henley. Eternal curses bite him! But I
will haunt her! I will appear to her in her dreams, and her waking
hours shall not want a glimpse of me. I know she hates me. So be it! If
she did not I could not so readily digest my vengeance. But I know she
does! And she shall have better cause! I never yet submitted to be thus
baffled. She is preparing an imaginary banquet, and I will be there a
real guest. I will meet her at Philippi!
I wish I were away from this place! I wish I were in my mother's
I hate to meet this insolent sister of mine. We have had a battle, and
I was in such a frantic rage that I could neither find ideas nor words;
while she was cool, cutting, insolent, impudent--! I never in my life
had so strong an inclination to wring a hussey's neck round.
But I will get away as fast as I can. I am resolved however to turn her
out of the house first. She shall feel me too, before I have done.
Brother with her is no tie, nor shall sister be to me. Her mother has
made but a small provision for her, and has recommended her to my
mercy. She had better have taught her a little humility--
Plagues and pestilence! Why do I worry myself about her? I have quite
causes enough of distraction without that. I must not turn her out of
doors neither, now I remember. If I did she would fly to her friend,
and would make her if possible as great a fury as herself.
Why do I say would make? Do I not know that I am her abhorrence? I
loved her, Fairfax, better than ever I loved woman; and would have
loved her more, have loved her entirely, infinitely, heart and soul, if
she had not wronged me. From the first I was overlooked by her,
catechised, reprimanded, treated like a poor ignoramus; while her
Henley--! If I write any more I shall go mad!--Dash through the window,
or do some desperate act!--
_Sir Arthur St. Ives to Abimelech Henley_
_London, Grosvenor Street_
Sir, I have received your letter, which I must acknowledge is far more
satisfactory and in a more proper style than your last, at which I
cannot but own I was exceedingly surprised.
With respect to your son, I must say that he is a young gentleman of
very great merit; and though a marriage into the family of St. Ives is
a thing that he certainly has no right to expect, yet I cannot deny
that your proposal deserves some consideration; inasmuch as you now
come forward like a man, and have likewise a recollection of propriety.
Neither do I forget, good sir, what you have hinted concerning
Wenbourne-Hill, which is far from disagreeable to me. And though there
are many impediments, for which I cannot altogether answer just at
present, yet I think it very probable that this affair should end in
something like the manner you desire. I accordingly expect, Mr. Henley,
you will have the kindness to stop proceedings relative to the
In return for which I assure you, on my honour, I will do everything
that becomes a gentleman to bring the affair to a proper conclusion.
And as I have a very great respect for your son, and think very highly
of his parts, and learning, and all that, I find when things come to be
considered that he perhaps may make my daughter more happy, and the
match may have other greater conveniences than perhaps one that might
seem to the other branches of my family more suitable.
But I know that for the present it will be opposed by Lord Fitz-Allen;
and though I do not think proper to be governed by him or any man, yet
I could rather wish not to come to an open rupture with so near a
It will perhaps be thought derogatory by some other branches of the
family. But my daughter has a very high opinion of the good qualities
of your son; and she reminds me continually that he has done us many
signal services, which I assure you, Mr. Henley, I am very willing to
When things shall be in a proper train, I imagine it will be our best
way of proceeding to pay off all mortgages on Wenbourne-Hill, together
with the sum for the docking of the entail to my son Edward, and to
settle the estate in reversion on our children and their issue; my
rental being made subject to the payment of legal interest to your son
for the fifty thousand pounds. But we will consider further on these
things when matters are ripe.
In the mean time, be pleased to send me up one thousand pounds for
present current expences, which you will place to account. And now I
hope, good sir, we shall from this time be upon proper terms: in
expectation of which I remain with all friendly intentions,
A. ST. IVES
_Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton_
Oh that I could write to my Louisa as formerly, with flattering and
generous hopes in favour of a brother! Would it were possible! I am
already weary of accusation, though I fear this is but its beginning. I
cannot help it, but I have strong apprehensions. Not that I will be the
slave of fear, or sink before danger should it happen to come.
The lad that copied the anonymous letter has left Wenbourne-Hill! Is
run away! No one knows whither! He went the very day on which your
brother left London, to be present with you at Mrs. Clifton's funeral;
and Clifton now denies, with pretended indignation, having had any
knowledge whatever of this letter!--Oh how audacious is he in error!
Had the same energy but a worthy object, how excellent would be its
It is a strange circumstance! And what is more strange and indeed
alarming, Frank has been to enquire for the lad's aunt, and she is
gone! No one can tell what is become of her, except that she went away
in a hackney-coach, after having as the people suppose received a
present; because she discharged all her little debts contracted during
the absence of Frank, and bought herself some necessaries.
What can this sudden and unaccountable removal of these two people
mean? They had both apparently the strongest motives to the contrary;
and Frank has a very good opinion of the lad, and not a bad one of the
This is not all. We were yesterday invited to dine with Lord
Fitz-Allen; that is I and Sir Arthur, not Frank Henley, as you will
suppose. I had a dislike to the visit, though I did not suspect it
would have been half so disagreeable. My brother and my aunt Wenbourne
were likewise invited; we found them there.
Ever since the scene with Mr. Clifton I have been constantly denied to
him, and positively refused all his applications for an interview;
conceiving it to be just not to let him imagine there was any doubt on
my mind, relative to his proceedings and their motives. We had scarcely
sat down to table before he came in, as if by accident. This was a
subterfuge. To what will not error and the abandonment of the passions
After apologies for dropping in and disturbing so much good company,
and a repetition of--I am very glad to see you, sir; you do my table
honour, and other like marked compliments from Lord Fitz-Allen, Clifton
seated himself and endeavoured to assume his former gaiety and humour.
But it could not be--His heart was too ill at ease. His eye was
continually glancing toward me, and there as often met that steady
regard which he knew not how to support, and by which he was as
continually disconcerted. I did not affect to frown, and to smile would
have been guilt. I put no reproof into my look, except the open-eyed
sobriety of fortitude, springing from a consciousness of right. But
this was insupportable He talked fast, for he wanted to talk away his
sensations, as well as to convince his observers that he was quite at
his ease. I know not how far he was successful, for they laughed as
much when he failed, or more perhaps, than they would have done had his
wit preserved its usual brilliancy. His manner told them he intended to
be jocular, and that was their cue to join chorus.
Lord Fitz-Allen was very marked in his attentions to him, which were
returned with no less ardour. Clifton indeed evidently laid himself out
to please the whole table; but me least, because with me he had least
hope; and because he found his efforts produced no alteration in that
uniform seriousness on which I had determined.
As soon as the dessert was served up the servants withdrew, and not one
of them afterward came in till rung for; which I imagine had been
preconcerted. Looks then became more grave, and the conversation soon
dwindled into silence. At last Lord Fitz-Allen, after various hems and
efforts, for he has some fear of me, or rather of what he supposes the
derogatory sufferance of contradiction, addressed himself to me.
I am sorry to hear, niece, there is a misunderstanding between you
and Mr. Clifton; and as you happen now to be both together, I think
it is a proper opportunity for explanation. You know, Miss St. Ives,
that an alliance with the family of Clifton has always met my
approbation; and I suppose you will not deny me the favour of
listening with patience--Why don't you speak, niece?
You desired me to listen, sir, and I am silent--Let Mr. Clifton
Clifton after some stammering hesitation began--I know, madam, you have
been prejudiced against me, and have been told very strange things;
very unaccountable things. I cannot tell what answer to make, till I
know perfectly of what I am accused. All I request is to be suffered to
face my accusers, and let Lord Fitz-Allen, or Sir Arthur, or this good
lady [My aunt Wenbourne] or your brother, nay or yourself, though you
think so ill of me, be my judge. I am told something of an anonymous
letter; I know not very well what; but if any good evidence can be
brought of my having written, or caused to be written, or had any
concern whatever in the writing of such a letter, I solemnly pledge
myself to renounce the blessing I so ardently seek without a murmur.
Lord Fitz-Allen exclaimed nothing could be more gentleman-like. My aunt
Wenbourne owned it was a very proper proposal. Edward thought there
could be no objection to it. Sir Arthur was silent.
His insidious appeal to justice, and being brought face to face with
his accusers, revived the full picture of the flight of the lad, the
removal of the aunt, and the whole chain of craft and falsehood
connected with these circumstances. It was with difficulty I repressed
feelings that were struggling into indignation--I addressed myself to
Then, sir, you coolly and deliberately deny all knowledge of the letter
I have told you, madam, that I will suffer Lord Fitz-Allen, yourself,
any person to pass sentence, after having examined witnesses. Answer me
in an open direct manner, Mr. Clifton, without ambiguity. Were you not
the author of that letter?
I am sorry, madam, to see you so desirous to find me guilty; and I
would even criminate myself to give you pleasure, but that I know I
must then neither hope for your favour nor the countenance of this good
company. I assure you, Lord Fitz-Allen, I assure you, Sir Arthur, and
you, madam, and all, upon my honour I am incapable of what is
attributed to me.
Do not appeal to my uncle and aunt, Mr. Clifton, but turn this way. Let
your eyes be fixed here. Listen while I read the letter; and then,
without once shrinking from yourself, or me, repeat as you have done,
though in an equivocal manner, upon your honour you are not the author.
I took the letter from my pocket and began to read. When I came to the
following passage I again repeated--Look at me, Mr. Clifton--'She will
never have the man they mean for her, I can assure you of that; and
what is more, he will never have her.' I proceeded to the end, and then
added--Once more, Mr. Clifton, look at me and repeat--Upon my honour I
was not the inventor and author of those words.
Louisa--! He did look--! I hope I never shall see man look so
again!--He stared and forced his eyes to do their office, and
repeated--'Upon my honour I was not the inventor and author of
those words.'--He stabbed me to the heart, Louisa!--Can he do
this?--Then what can he not do? He even felt a complacency at the
victory he had obtained, and turning round to Lord Fitz-Allen and
the company again repeated--'Upon my honour I am not the inventor
and author of those words.'
Lord Fitz-Allen almost crowed with exultation. I am mistaken, niece,
said he, if you do not find there are other people who can write
anonymous letters: people of no honour; upstarts, mongrels, mushrooms,
low contemptible fellows, that would sully the mouth of a Fitz-Allen to
The tone of this lordly uncle was so high, Louisa, and his passions so
arrogant, loud, and obstinate, that it was with difficulty I could
recover the fortitude requisite to assert truth and put falsehood to
the blush. I again turned to my opponent.
Mr. Clifton, I feel at present you are a dangerous man. But I do not
fear you. Observe, sir, I do not fear you--[I turned to my uncle] Sir,
Mr. Clifton caused this letter to be written. But, if there were no
such letter in existence, I have another proof, stronger, more
undeniable of which I imagine you will not doubt when I inform you that
no third person was concerned. It was addressed to myself. It was a
strenuous, bold, unprincipled effort to seduce me. Let the gentleman
again look me in the face and tell me I am guilty of falsehood.
I spoke with firmness, and Lord Fitz-Allen's features relaxed, and his
eye began to enquire with pain and apprehension. His great fear was of
being convicted to want of penetration. Clifton perceived the feelings
of the company turn upon him with suspicion; but his art, must I add?
his hypocrisy did not fail him. He transformed the confusion he felt
into a look of contrition, and with as much ardour as if it had been
It is that fatal error which has ruined me, madam, in your good
opinion, and has occasioned you to credit every accusation against me,
however improbable. I confess my guilt. Not guilt of heart, madam; for
honour be my witness, my views were as pure as the words in which they
were uttered. I was at that time dependant on the will of a mother,
whom I loved, and whose memory I revere. My passions were impatient,
and I wished to remove impediments to my happiness which now no longer
exist. I do not pretend to palliate what is unpardonable, and what I
myself condemn as severely as you do; except that I abjure all
dishonourable intentions, and meant as I said to be your husband. The
strongest proof I can give that this was my meaning I now offer, in the
presence of this noble and good company. I require no conditions, I ask
for no fortune except yourself, which is the only blessing I covet in
this life. I will joyfully attend you to the altar whenever you and
your worthy relations shall consent; next week, to-morrow, to-day, this
moment; and should think myself the most favoured, the most happy man
The offer is the offer of a gentleman, Sir Arthur, said Lord
Fitz-Allen. If Mr. Clifton had been guilty of any indecorum, niece,
[Turning to me] you could not require more honourable amends. This is
acting with that dignity which characterizes a man of family, Mrs.
Wenbourne; and as it is impossible for Miss St. Ives to see it in any
other point of view, here the affair will naturally end, and there is
no more to be said.
I immediately answered--If, sir, by the affair ending here, you
understand any further intercourse between me and Mr. Clifton, I must
not suffer you to continue in such an error. We are and ever must
remain separate. Habit and education have made us two such different
beings, that it would be the excess of folly to suppose marriage could
make us one.
Miss St. Ives--[My uncle collected all his ideas of rank and grandeur]
Miss St. Ives, you must do me the honour to consider me as the head of
our family, and suffer me to remind you of the respect and obedience
which are due to that head. The proposal now made you I approve. It is
made by a man of family, and I must take the liberty to lay my
injunctions upon you to listen to it in a decorous and proper manner.
I answered--I am sorry, sir, that our ideas of propriety are so very
opposite. But whether my judgment be right or wrong, as I am the person
to be married to Mr. Clifton, and not your Lordship, my judgment as
well as yours must and ought to be consulted.
Lord Fitz-Allen could scarcely restrain his anger within the bounds
of his own decorum. He burst into exclamations--Exceedingly well,
miss!--Very proper behaviour to a person of my rank, and your
uncle!--You hear, Sir Arthur!--You hear, Mrs. Wenbourne! You all
hear!--But your motives and inclinations are known, miss: I am sorry
that it would dishonour the tongue of Fitz-Allen to repeat them: and
I cannot help telling you, Sir Arthur, that you have been exceedingly
to blame to admit such a fellow to any familiarity with a woman of rank
and my niece; a fellow better entitled to be her footman than her--I
will not permit the word to pass my lips.
I felt the cowardice of suffering worth and virtue to be insulted
without a defender, from the fear that I myself should be involved in
the insult, and replied--
The gentleman, sir, to whom you have twice alluded in terms of so much
contempt, were he present would smile at your mistake. But there are
more people at this table than myself who have been witnesses how
little he deserves to be spoken of in the language of opprobrium.
Mr. Clifton appeared eager to be the first to acknowledge Mr. Henley
was a very worthy person. Edward muttered something to the same tune;
and Sir Arthur seemed very willing to have spoken out, but wanted the
courage. He began at Turnham Green, but could get no further. Lord
What tell you me of Turnham-Green, Sir Arthur? I was stopped once
myself, by a highwayman, and my footman fired at him, and sent him
packing; but I did not for that reason come home and marry my footman
to my daughter.
The full image of Frank and his virtues pervaded my mind, my heart
swelled, my thoughts burst from my lips, and I exclaimed--Oh, sir, that
you had a thousand daughters, and that each of them were worthy of such
a footman for a husband!
Had you beheld this uncle of mine, Louisa! The daughters of the peer
Fitz-Allen married to footmen! The insult was almost agony. The only
antidote to the pain which his countenance excited was the absurdity
and ridicule of the prejudice. But I perceived how vain it was to
expect that in this company the voice of justice should be heard, and I
rose. My aunt rose at the same time, to retire with me; but,
recollecting myself, I turned and thus addressed Lord Fitz-Allen and
Mr. Clifton, alternately:
That I may not be liable to any just blame from your lordship, or you,
sir, for want of being explicit, you must permit me to repeat--I never
will again admit of the addresses of Mr. Clifton. I have an abhorrence
of the errors in which he is now indulging. He himself has told me what
a mad and vicious act it would be to marry a husband in whom I could
not confide, and I never can confide in him. My persuasion at this
moment of his hypocrisy is such that, could I prevail on myself to the
debasement of putting him to the trial, by pretending to accept his
hand, I am convinced he would refuse. I read his heart. He seeks an
opportunity to revenge imaginary injuries; for I never did, do not, nor
ever can wish him any thing but good. I think I would lay down my life,
without hesitation, to render him all of which his uncommon powers are
capable: but I perceive the impossibility of its being effected by me,
and I here ultimately and determinedly renounce all thought of him, or
of so dangerous an attempt.
Mr. Clifton eagerly started up, and with a momentary softening of
countenance, a pleading voice, and something like the tone of returning
virtue exclaimed--Hear me, madam!--I conjure you, hear me! My appeal is
to the benevolence, the dignity of your heart! Remember the virtuous
plan you had formed--!
The combat in his mind was violent but short. Truth made a struggle to
gain the mastery, and hope raised up a transient prospect of success,
which was as quickly overclouded by anger and despair, and he stopped
abruptly. At least his voice and features were so impassioned that, if
these were not his sensations, I have no clue to the human heart.
Perceiving him pause and doubt, I replied--
It cannot be, Mr. Clifton! You this moment feel it cannot! You have
begun a course of fraud, and which the whole arrangement of to-day is
only meant as so much pitiful machinery to effect. You are conscious,
Mr. Clifton, you are conscious, Lord Fitz-Allen, that our meeting was
not, as you have both pretended, accidental. And I here call upon
you--you, Mr. Clifton, to tell for what purpose or where you have sent
the lad who wrote the letter, and to what place you have removed his
aunt? Such an artifice is vile, sir! And to challenge your accusers to
stand forward, and with a look such as you assumed to affirm, 'Upon
your honour you were not the inventor and author of the letter,' is so
much more vile that I shudder for you! Your own proceedings have
conjured up a train of recollections that speak a concerted plan of
perfidy. You mean mischief! But I once more tell you, sir, I do not
fear you! I will not fear you! My fears indeed are strong, but they
are for yourself. Beware! The more guilt you have committed, the more
you will be driven to commit. Turn back! You are in a dreadful path!
It is unworthy of you, Mr. Clifton! It is unworthy of you!
I instantly withdrew, and was followed by Mrs. Wenbourne, who began to
express something like blame of the positive manner in which I had
spoken, and the high language I had used to Lord Fitz-Allen; but it was
too feeble to incite an answer in my then state of mind. I requested
she would order her carriage, and set me down. She asked if I would not
first pay my respects to my uncle. I answered yes, when my uncle should
be more deserving of respect. She said I was a strange young lady. I
replied I sincerely hoped there were many young ladies stranger even
She took offence at these retorts upon her words, and I perceived that,
though the spirit of my answer was right, the manner was wrong; and
explained and apologised as became me. She was appeased, and when the
carriage came again asked if I would not go with her to take leave. I
answered I imagined my uncle would be glad to wave the ceremony; and,
as I thought he had acted very improperly, curtsying and taking leave
would but be practising the customary hypocrisy of our manners, which I
hoped I should on all occasions have the firmness to oppose.
Accordingly my aunt went herself; and his lordship, still preserving
his dignity, pretended to forbid me his presence, till I better
understood what was due to the relationship and rank in which he stood.
This my aunt reported, and I returned no answer, but left her to make
her own reflections.
Thus ended this painful interview--Tell me, what ought I to think? What
can be the purport of a conduct so very wrong? Such a string of
falsehoods! How different would the behaviour of Mr. Clifton have been,
had not conscious criminality oppressed and chained up his faculties!
Such persistence in duplicity must have some end in view. Could I
consent to marriage, which is now utterly impossible, he has certainly
no such meaning. If he had he could not have written, he could not have
acted as he has done; and even less in this last instance since his
writing than before, for he could not but know that, though he could
appear this generous man of honour to Lord Fitz-Allen, he must stand
detected by me. It was not possible he should suppose otherwise.
Well! Let him mean me all the harm he pleases; only let me find some
opportunity of convincing him what a depraved, unmanly, trivial turn
his mind has taken, and let me but give it a different bent, and I will
willingly suffer all he shall have the power to inflict. I do not find
myself, Louisa, disposed to stand in that dread of baseness and
violence which they generally inspire. Virtue is not a passive but an
active quality; and its fortitude is much more potent than the rash
vehemence of vice.
Adieu, dear Louisa. Peace and felicity guard you!
A. W. ST. IVES
_Coke Clifton to Guy Fairfax_
_London, Dover Street_
Thank you, Fairfax, for your speed and precautions, which I must
request you not to slacken. Do not let the lad escape you: his
appearance here would be ruin. Let but my grand scheme be completed,
and then I care not though the legions of hell were to rise, and mow
and run a tilt at me. I would face their whole fury. The scene would
delight me. Let them come all! I burn to turn upon and rend them! The
more desperate the more grateful.
I told you, Fairfax, she hated me! I have it now from her own mouth!
She feels I am become her foe! My hand is already upon her! My deepest
darkest thoughts of vengeance do not exceed her imagination.
And yet she fears me not! He; words, her looks, her gestures are all
cool, firm defiance! She is a miracle, Fairfax! A miracle! But I will
overmatch her. A heroine! She would have unhorsed Orlando himself had
she lived in the times of the knights Paladin.
I am an insufferable booby, an eternal lunatic, for having first
thought of quarrelling with her. But it is too late! I might have
foreseen the advantages I give a woman like her. She openly,
magnanimously tells me what my intents are, and then spurns at them.
She keeps her anger under indeed, but does not repress its energy; a
proof of the subjection in which she holds her passions. She once
endeavoured to teach me this art, would I but have listened. But that
I could not have thought it was in woman! The poor, wailing,
watery-eyed beings I had before encountered would not suffer me to
suppose a female could possess the high courage of the daring, noble
mind. Never but one short moment did I overtop her: nor are there any
means but those I then used. Inspire her with the dread of offending
what she thinks principle, and she becomes a coward!
But I will rouse! I will soar above her, will subdue her, will have her
prostrate in humble submission, or perish! In the presence of witnesses
I feel I cannot succeed; but singly, face to face, passion to passion,
and being to being, distinct and eminent as she stands above all
woman-kind, I will yet prove to her she is not the equal of the man
She herself has even thrown the gauntlet. I have had such a scene with
her! A public exhibition! I cannot relate the manner of it. I dare not
trust my brain with the full reminiscence.
Why did I quarrel with her? She meant me well--Tortures!--I am a
lunatic to tease myself with such recollections. This is a damned,
wrong headed, ignorant, blundering, vile world; and I cannot see my way
in it. I should have had no suspicion that it is all this but for her.
That Henley shall never have her! I'll murder him first! Though the
bottomless pit were to gape and swallow me, he shall not have her! The
contemptible buzzard, Sir Arthur, is now completely veered about. But
in vain! It shall not be! By hell it shall not!
This fellow, this Henley must some how or other be disposed of. The
contempt of the arrogant peer, her uncle, will harm him but little; for
the lord, with all his dignity, is no match for the plebeian!
Neither will his lordship hastily seek another combat with his niece.
The only advantage I have, in so insignificant an ally, is that of
hereafter making suspicion alight on Henley, and not on me; for I mean
to carry them both off, Henley and Anna. I know not where or how I
shall yet dispose of them, but there is no other mode of accomplishing
vengeance. They must be confined too. I care not how desperate the
means! I will not retract! They shall be taught the danger of raising
up an enemy like me! I will have them at my feet! Will separate them!
Will glut my revenge, and do the deed that shall prevent their ever
meeting more, except perhaps to reproach each other with the madness of
having injured, aggravated, and defied a Clifton!
My whole days are dedicated to this single object. I have been riding
round the skirts of this shapeless monster of a city, on all sides, in
search of lonely tenantless houses; some two of which I mean to provide
with inhabitants. I have met with more than one that are not ill
But I want agents! Desperados! Hungry and old traders in violence! I
care not where I go for them; have them I will, though I seek them in
the purlieus of infamy and detestation. To succeed by any other means
is impossible. She will not admit me in the same apartment with
herself, nor I believe in the same world, had she the power to exclude
I met her indeed at Lord Fitz-Allen's, where the scene abovementioned
passed; but it was a plan concerted with his lordship, which she easily
detected, and publicly reproached him with his duplicity. I gloried to
hear her; for she had not injured him. A poor compound of pride and
selfishness! Incapable of understanding the worth of such a niece! But
she made him feel his own insignificance.
Henley and she are now never asunder. I have mentioned the maid Laura
to you. She tells me they have long conversations in the morning, long
walks in the afternoon, and at night they have neither of them the
power to rise and separate. But I will come upon them! My spirit at
present is haunting them, never leaves them, girds at and terrifies
them at every instant, during their amorous dalliance! I know it does!
They cannot get quit of me! I am with them, weighing them down,
convulsing them! They feel they are in my gripe!--Hah! The thought is
When there is no company, and when Sir Arthur is not sitting with them,
this maid, Laura, has that honour. Whence it appears that even these
immaculate souls have some dread of scandal.
And who is it inspires that dread? It is I! They seem to have
discovered that all circumstances, all incidents wear a double face and
that I am the malignant genius who can make which he pleases the true
one--Yes! I am with them! I send the Incubus that hag-rides them in
their dreams! They gasp and would awake, but cannot!
Why could she not have bestowed all this affection upon me? Why could
she not? I once thought a woman might have loved me!--But it seems I
was mistaken--The things that go by the general name of woman might;
but when I came to woman herself, she could not, though she tried.
Would I were any where but in this infernal gloom! It is a detestable
country! This town is one everlasting fog, and its inhabitants are as
cloudy as its skies! Every man broods over some solitary scheme of his
own, avoids human intercourse, and hates to communicate the murk of his
mind. I am in a wilderness. I fly the herd, and the herd flies me. We
pass and scowl enmity at each other, for I begin to look with
abhorrence on the face of man. There is not a single gleam of
cheerfulness around me. The sun has not once shone since the day of my
disappointment, which was itself thick darkness.
Would I could get rid of myself!--I am going to take a ride, and make a
second examination of a large lonely house beyond Knightsbridge. It
lies to the left, and is at a sufficient distance from the road. I
think it will suit my purpose. I must not have far to convey them; and
Laura informs me their walks are most frequently directed through
Hyde-Park, and among the fields at the back of Brompton.
I must be as quiet and appear as little myself as possible; for which
reason I ride without a servant. And though I have been industrious in
reading advertisements, and getting intelligence of empty houses, I
have not ventured to enquire personally. Laura attends them in their
walks; but she is secure.
They must both be seized at the same time, and in a manner that shall
frustrate all research. It will then be concluded they have gone off
together. He is a powerful fellow, a dangerous fellow, and I must be
well provided. He shall never have her, Fairfax! I would die upon the
wheel, hang like a negro, and parch alive in the sun ere he should have
P.S. All society is become odious to me, but chiefly that society which
I am obliged to frequent. This uncle Fitz-Allen, aunt Wenbourne, and
brother Edward are three such poor beings, and the censures they pass
on a woman who is of an order so much above them are so vapid, so
selfish, or so absurd, that it is nauseating to sit and listen to them.
Yet these are the animals I am obliged to court! Hypocrisy is a damned
trade, Fairfax; and I will have full vengeance for having been forced
upon such a practice. The only present relief I have is to make the
arrogant peer foam with the idea of his relationship to a gardener's
son. This would be an exquisite pleasure, but that it is millions of
times more maddening to me than to him!
_Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton_
_London, Grosvenor Street_
Abimelech is come up to town. I am obliged very respectfully to call
him Mr. Henley when Sir Arthur hears me, in compliance to his feelings:
and he has hinted that hereafter, when his name is written, it must be
tagged with an esquire.
The old miser [Well, Louisa, let it be the old gentleman] is so eager
in pursuit of his project that he can take no rest, and is unwilling
Sir Arthur should take any. He has a prodigious quantity of cunning!
Whatever he may know of the theory of the passions as a general
subject, no person certainly knows better how to work upon the passions
of Sir Arthur: at least no person who will condescend to take such an
advantage. His discourse is such a continued mixture of Wenbourne-Hill,
his money, mortgages, grottos, groves, the wherewithals, and the young
gentleman his son, that laughter scarcely can hold to hear him. Were
the thing practicable, he would render Frank Henley himself ridiculous.
It is pleasant to remark what a check the presence of this favourite
son is upon his loquacity. He never suspects the possibility of there
being a mortal superior to himself at other times; whereas he has then
a latent consciousness of his own ridicule. The effect which the
absence of Frank has produced, with the favour he is in with me, and
the resolute manner in which he conquered his father when he last went
down to Wenbourne-Hill, have made a total change in the old man's
behaviour to this formerly neglected but now half adored son. Were
habits so inveterate capable of being eradicated, Frank would yet teach
him virtue; but the task is too difficult.
He is certainly in a most delicious trance. His son to be married to
the daughter of his master! That master a baronet! And the estates of
that baronet to be his own, as he supposes, to all eternity. For the
avaricious dreams of selfishness are satisfied with nothing less. These
are joys that swell and enlarge even his narrow heart, into something
that endeavours to mimic urbanity.
Whenever Sir Arthur mentions Lord Fitz-Allen, or the family consent,
honest Aby in a moment conjures up Wenbourne-Hill, a hermitage, and a
wilderness; and for the first day, if he found that dose not strong
enough to produce its effect, foreclosures were added to the mixture.
Your own heart, Louisa, will tell you what Frank's feelings were at
such a mean menace; and, though to stop his garrulity entirely was not
in the power of man, he determined to silence him on that subject. But
the cunning Abimelech turned even this incident to advantage, by taking
care to inform Sir Arthur of Frank's generosity.
Thus, Louisa, things are at present in a train which some months ago I
should indeed very little have expected. But such are the energies of
virtue! How changed at present do all surrounding objects seem! To me
they were never dark; but they were not always pleasant. They are now
all cheerfulness and perspicacity. We have the most charming walks and
the most delightful conversations, Louisa; and on subjects so
expansive, so sublime--! Often do I say--'Why is my friend not with us?
Why does she not come and bear her part in discussion? She whose mind
is so penetrating and whose thoughts are so grand?' But we shall meet!
Days and years of happiness are before us! The prospect is rapture!
Yes, Louisa, we shall meet, and I hope quickly!
A. W. ST. IVES
_Coke Clifton to Guy Fairfax_
_London, Dover Street_
Join chorus and rejoice with me, Fairfax, for I feel something like a
transient hilarity of heart. I think I am half in a temper to tell my
tale as it ought to be told. Time was when it would have been pregnant
The very master-devil that I wanted has appeared to me, and we have
signed and consigned ourselves over to the great work of mutual
vengeance! Be patient and you shall hear the manner of it. Two nights
ago I was at the theatre. The king was there; Garrick played; the crowd
was great, and no places were to be procured. During the first act I
and two more stood elbowing each other at the door of one of the front
boxes, the seats of which were all full. The person who was next me was
hard-favoured, had a look of audacious impudence, with that mixture of
dress which forms the vulgar genteel, and spoke the brogue.
The act being over the audience rose, and my gentleman, with the
nonchalance assurance of his character, a total disregard of the
feelings and convenience of others, and an entire complaisance for his
own, stepped forward into the second seat from the door, on which there
were previously four people, its full compliment. But he had noticed
they were not all so athletic as himself, and was determined to make
them sit close.
The persons next him, observing his redoubtable look, hesitated for a
moment, but at length began to remonstrate. They addressed him two or
three times without his deigning to appear to hear them; till, either
encouraged by his silence or warmed by vexation, they spoke loud enough
to call the attention of the people around them.
The Hibernian then sat himself down, threw his arm over the railing
of the box, and his body in a careless posture, and very coolly
answered--'Pray now be asy, and don't disturb the good company.'
A squabble ensued, and the Irishman continued to answer them with the
utmost contempt. In a short time two of them gained courage enough to
threaten to turn him out; to which he replied--'Oh! By the sweet Jasus
but I should be glad to see the pretty boy that would dare to lay a
little finger upon me!'
After another wrangle, and treating their reasonings and half menaces
with the most contemptuous disregard, a gentleman from the next box
interfered, and observed it certainly was very improper behaviour. The
Irishman turned round, surveyed him from head to foot, and answered--'I
find you have all got your quarrelling tackle on board to night; and so
as I must fight somebody, and as you, mister, appear to be the most of
a gintleman, why I will talk to you when the play is over. For which
raison sit down, and make all yourselves asy.'
The beginning of the second act and the impatience of the house to hear
their favourite soon imposed silence, and the Irishman kept his seat.
I was so much diverted by the complete impudence of the fellow, that
though one of the box-keepers had found me a place, I determined to
return, and see how this petty brawl was to end. Accordingly I took
care to be round in time, before the curtain dropped; till which the
hero of it had kept quiet possession of his usurped seat.
The moment the audience rose he turned about, and with a look which I
imagine no man but himself could assume, first on this side of him and
next on that, addressed his opponents with--'Now if any of you are
still disordered in the body, and want to lose a little blood, why
The two persons that sat next to him were both Jews, and one of them
who appeared to have the most spirit had a knotted crab-stick in his
hand, and insisted that the Irishman should not leave the company, till
he had first given satisfaction for the insult he had committed on them
all. The Hibernian replied--'All? Is it all together you mane, or one
after another? Perhaps you don't understand the tools of a gintleman,
and want to box me! Faith and I should have no great objection to that
either, with any half dozen of you, one down and t'other come on. But
you must use no unlawful weapons, my sweet fillow.'
So saying, he wrested the Jew's crab-stick from him, laid hold of it at
each end, and snapped it in two across the railing of the box; adding
with infinite composure of countenance--'This is an improper plaything
for you, master Jackey, and you might do yourself a damage with it.
Here is half a crown for you. Take it, man, and buy yoursilf a genteel
bit of rattan, to beat the little pug dogs away, when they bark after
you in the street.'
Insolent as the fellow was, there was no resisting his humour, and the
laugh was general. The vexed Israelite endeavoured to persist, and the
Irishman drew a dirty letter out of his pocket, from the back of which
he tore the direction, and giving it to the angry Jew, said--'If you
have any stomach for a good breakfast tomorrow morning, I shall be at
home; and the hot rolls and butter will be ready at ten.'
He then strode over the seats and went into the lobby, where he was
followed by the crowd.
My curiosity was highly excited, and I requested the Jew to let me read
Imagine, Fairfax, my surprise at seeing the name of Mac Fane! That is,
of the gambler and bully who some time ago had been attempting to
plunder brother Edward; and who had been so successfully opposed by the
family knight-errant, Henley! Among the busy conjectures of my
fermenting brain concerning the instruments I might happen to want,
should things as they have done come to an extremity, the supposed
qualifications of this hero had more than once passed in review. The
behaviour to which I had this evening been a witness perfectly
confirmed all my former conjectures, which I instantly recollected; I
therefore determined not to lose sight of him.
Before I knew who he was I had been glad to see the squabble continued,
because it drew out the strong traits of this very eccentric genius;
but I grew impatient to put an end to it the moment I had made the
The thing was not difficult. His character was too desperate and
determined not to inspire fear; and the humour of his phraseology and
brogue made the laugh always on his side. The passions of his opponents
counteracting each other died away. The farce was going to begin, and
he advised them to 'go, and not lose full eighteen pennyworth out of
their five shillings.'
Finding the morsel was too hard for their digestion, they took his
advice and returned quietly to their seats: while he several times
traversed the lobby, and looked first into one box and then into
another, to let them see that there he was.
My resolution was formed, and I soon found an opportunity of falling
into conversation with him; and as I took care that my tone should
answer the intended purpose, he presently invited me to adjourn, and
take what he called a bottle and a bird at the Shakespeare.
The proposal exactly suited me, and away we went.
He called for a private room, which I should have done if he had not,
though with a very different view. My appearance made him hope he had
caught a gudgeon. He presently began to turn the discourse upon various
kinds of gaming. Billiards, tennis, hazard, and pass-dice, were each of
them mentioned; and, to encourage him, I gave him to understand I knew
them all. He then talked of cards, and asked if I had any objection to
take a hand at picquet; 'just to pass away an hour before supper.' I
Accordingly the waiter was rung for, and the cards were presently upon
He proposed playing for a trifle; from one guinea to five; not more;
'becase as why, he was tied up from deep play. He had lost five
thousand pounds within six weeks, and they had had a pretty pigeon of
him!--[Had you but seen the form and features of this pigeon, Fairfax!]
For which raison he must take care and not be plucked any more. It was
the misfortune of his timper not to know when to stop; and there was
not so unlucky a fillow in the three kingdoms. He was always the
bubble, play at what he would, and every snap-jack knew him to be his
Such was the lesson which this fellow had got by rote, and had been
retailing to all comers for years. But I have observed of gamblers that
they cannot forbear rehearsing their own cant even in the company of
each other, and when they are convinced every soul that hears them
knows they are lying.
I however had my purpose to serve, and we sat down to our game. The
stakes were five guineas a side. According to custom, I won the three
or four first games; and he pretended to curse, and fret, and again ran
over his bead-roll of being pigeoned, plucked bare, bubbled, done up,
and the whole catalogue of like genteel phrases.
The first game he won he proposed, as luck was perhaps taking a turn in
his favour, to double the stakes, and I indulged him. He suffered me to
win the following game. I say suffered, cheating being taken into the
account; for I am certain that at the fair game I am his master. But
that is no matter.
The three following games were all his own, and he then began to repeat
the remainder of his part. 'By the blissed Jasus he would not believe
his own eyes! Three games together!' The fellow swore, with one of the
deepest oaths his memory could furnish, such a thing had never happened
to him before in his whole life! 'But now that he was in luck, he would
as soon play for a hundred guineas as for a thirteener.'
He endeavoured to provoke me to increase the stake; and, by the supper
not coming up, I am convinced the waiter and he understood each other,
and that the signal had been given. I refused to play for a greater
sum, and we continued till he had won fifty guineas, he incessantly
swearing--'By the blissed crook! By the hind leg of the holy lamb! By
Saint Peter's pretty beard!' and by all manner of oaths, some of them
of the most whimsical and others of the most horrible kind, that he had
never been a winner so much before in all his life. From the first ten
guineas that he won to the last it was still the same tune.
I then rang the bell and ordered supper, thinking the sum sacrificed
quite sufficient; though not more than enough to serve my purpose.
While we were eating, he endeavoured by all the arts he knew to excite
the passion of gaming in me; and he is a tolerable adept. But my mind
was too intent upon another subject. I watched the moment when he was
at the height of his hopes, which I had purposely encouraged to produce
my intended effect, and then asked him if he did not know Captain St.
Impudent as the fellow is, his countenance for a moment was fixed, his
mouth open, and his eye struggling to get rid of alarm, that it might
begin its enquiries. I followed up my blow by adding--
You won three thousand guineas of him I think, Mr. Mac Fane, which I am
told were never paid--
The fellow put his hand into a side-pocket, which he had in the body of
his coat. I instantly suspected he had a small pair of pistols there,
and my suspicions were afterward confirmed. He drew it back, having
satisfied himself that they were actually forth-coming, and then
recovered himself so far as to ask--
Pray, sir, are you acquainted with Captain St. Ives?--
I am, sir, answered I--I likewise know Mr. Henley.
You do, sir? said the astonished Mac Fane.
I do, sir. I am intimate with Sir Arthur St. Ives, and he is the son of
his gardener: a low fellow that acts as the baronet's man of all work;
his steward, his overseer, and his cash-keeper.
This contempt thrown on the character of Henley gave the Irishman some
relief. By the holy poker, said Mac Fane, but I always thought he was a
spalpeen, and no gintleman!
I think you have no great cause to like him much, sir, continued I,
from the account that I have heard.
His choler began to rise, and his eyes assumed an uncommon ferocity.
Like him! Sweet Jasus snatch me out of the world if I don't pay off an
old score with him yet, before I die.
I thought as much, sir, answered I.
Sir! Replied he, again staring with reviving alarm and suspicion--
I continued.--To tell you the truth, Mr. Mac Fane, that is the very
subject which brought you and I into company this evening. I suspected
your hate of Henley, and to be sincere I hate him too.
Had you seen the fellow's face brighten, Fairfax, and after brightening
begin to flame, you would not have readily forgotten the picture.
But I am rather surprised to meet you in public, sir, added I.
What do you mane by that, sir?
I thought you deemed it prudent to keep out of the way, on account of
I felt some gratification in playing thus upon his fears--He now once
more put his hand into his side-pocket, and pulling out his pistols
laid them before him. By Jasus, sir, I don't very well know what you
would be at! But when I understand the full tote of your questions, I
shall know how to give an answer.
I could not very well digest this oblique menace; but to have
quarrelled with such a rascal would in every sense have been madness.
You have a well-mounted pair of pistols there, said I, Mr. Mac Fane.
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