Cecilia Volume 1
Part 2 out of 7
"Sir, you are extremely good," said Mr Harrel, "but I had not the
least intention of your taking such a walk upon my account."
He then begged him to be seated, to rest himself, and to take some
refreshment; which civilities he received without scruple.
"But, Miss Beverley," said Mr Harrel, turning suddenly to Cecilia,
"you don't tell me what you think of my friend?"
"What friend, sir?"
"Why, Sir Robert Floyer; I observed he never quitted you a moment
while he stayed at Mrs Mears."
"His stay, however, was too short," said Cecilia, "to allow me to
form a fair opinion of him."
"But perhaps," cried Morrice," it was long enough to allow you to
form a _foul_ one."
Cecilia could not forbear laughing to hear the truth thus
accidentally blundered out; but Mr Harrel, looking very little
pleased, said, "Surely you can find no fault with him? he is one of
the most fashionable men I know."
"My finding fault with him then," said Cecilia, "will only farther
prove what I believe is already pretty evident, that I am yet a
novice in the art of admiration."
Mr Arnott, animating at this speech, glided behind her chair, and
said, "I knew you could not like him! I knew it from the turn of
your mind;--I knew it even from your countenance!"
Soon after, Sir Robert Floyer arrived.
"You are a pretty fellow, a'n't you," cried Mr Harrel, "to keep me
waiting so long."
"I could not come a moment sooner; I hardly expected to get here at
all, for my horse has been so confounded resty I could not tell how
to get him along."
"Do you come on horseback through the streets, Sir Robert?" asked
"Sometimes; when I am lazy. But what the d---l is the matter with
him I don't know; he has started at everything. I suspect there has
been some foul play with him."
"Is he at the door, sir?" cried Morrice.
"Yes," answered Sir Robert.
"Then I'll tell you what's the matter with him in a minute;" and
away again ran Morrice.
"What time did you get off last night, Harrel?" said Sir Robert.
"Not very early; but you were too much engaged to miss me. By the
way," lowering his voice, "what do you think I lost?"
"I can't tell indeed, but I know what I gained: I have not had such
a run of luck this winter."
They then went up to a window to carry on their enquiries more
At the words _what do you think I lost_, Cecilia, half
starting, cast her eyes uneasily upon Mrs Harrel, but perceived not
the least change in her countenance. Mr Arnott, however, seemed as
little pleased as herself, and from a similar sensation looked
anxiously at his sister.
Morrice now returning, called out, "He's had a fall, I assure you!"
"Curse him!" cried Sir Robert, "what shall I do now? he cost me the
d---l and all of money, and I have not had him a twelvemonth. Can
you lend me a horse for this morning, Harrel?"
"No, I have not one that will do for you. You must send to Astley."
"Who can I send? John must take care of this."
"I'll go, sir," cried Morrice, "if you'll give me the commission."
"By no means, sir," said Sir Robert, "I can't think of giving you
such an office."
"It is the thing in the world I like best," answered he; "I
understand horses, and had rather go to Astley's than any where."
The matter was now settled in a few minutes, and having received his
directions, and an invitation to dinner, Morrice danced off, with a
heart yet lighter than his heels.
"Why, Miss Beverley," said Mr Harrel, "this friend of yours is the
most obliging gentleman I ever met with; there was no avoiding
asking him to dinner."
"Remember, however," said Cecilia, who was involuntarily diverted at
the successful officiousness of her new acquaintance, "that if you
receive him henceforth as your guest, he obtains admission through
his own merits, and not through my interest."
At dinner, Morrice, who failed not to accept the invitation of Mr
Harrel, was the gayest, and indeed the happiest man in the company:
the effort he had made to fasten himself upon Cecilia as an
acquaintance, had not, it is true, from herself met with much
encouragement; but he knew the chances were against him when he made
the trial, and therefore the prospect of gaining admission into such
a house as Mr Harrel's, was not only sufficient to make amends for
what scarcely amounted to a disappointment, but a subject of serious
comfort from the credit of the connection, and of internal
exultation at his own management and address.
In the evening, the ladies, as usual, went to a private assembly,
and, as usual, were attended to it by Mr Arnott. The other gentlemen
had engagements elsewhere.
Several days passed on nearly in the same manner; the mornings were
all spent in gossipping, shopping and dressing, and the evenings
were regularly appropriated to public places, or large parties of
Meanwhile Mr Arnott lived almost entirely in Portman Square; he
slept, indeed, at his own lodgings, but he boarded wholly with Mr
Harrel, whose house he never for a moment quitted till night, except
to attend Cecilia and his sister in their visitings and rambles.
Mr Arnott was a young man of unexceptionable character, and of a
disposition mild, serious and benignant: his principles and
blameless conduct obtained the universal esteem of the world, but
his manners, which were rather too precise, joined to an uncommon
gravity of countenance and demeanour, made his society rather
permitted as a duty, than sought as a pleasure.
The charms of Cecilia had forcibly, suddenly and deeply penetrated
his heart; he only lived in her presence, away from her he hardly
existed: the emotions she excited were rather those of adoration
than of love, for he gazed upon her beauty till he thought her more
than human, and hung upon her accents till all speech seemed
impertinent to him but her own. Yet so small were his expectations
of success, that not even to his sister did he hint at the situation
of his heart: happy in an easy access to her, he contented himself
with seeing, hearing and watching her, beyond which bounds he formed
not any plan, and scarce indulged any hope.
Sir Robert Floyer, too, was a frequent visitor in Portman Square,
where he dined almost daily. Cecilia was chagrined at seeing so much
of him, and provoked to find herself almost constantly the object of
his unrestrained examination; she was, however, far more seriously
concerned for Mrs Harrel, when she discovered that this favourite
friend of her husband was an unprincipled spendthrift, and an
extravagant gamester, for as he was the inseparable companion of Mr
Harrel, she dreaded the consequence both of his influence and his
She saw, too, with an amazement that daily increased, the fatigue,
yet fascination of a life of pleasure: Mr Harrel seemed to consider
his own house merely as an hotel, where at any hour of the night he
might disturb the family to claim admittance, where letters and
messages might be left for him, where he dined when no other dinner
was offered him, and where, when he made an appointment, he was to
be met with. His lady, too, though more at home, was not therefore
more solitary; her acquaintance were numerous, expensive and idle,
and every moment not actually spent in company, was scrupulously
devoted to making arrangements for that purpose.
In a short time Cecilia, who every day had hoped that the next would
afford her greater satisfaction, but who every day found the present
no better than the former, began to grow weary of eternally running
the same round, and to sicken at the irksome repetition of
unremitting yet uninteresting dissipation. She saw nobody she wished
to see, as she had met with nobody for whom she could care; for
though sometimes those with whom she mixed appeared to be amiable,
she knew that their manners, like their persons, were in their best
array, and therefore she had too much understanding to judge
decisively of their characters. But what chiefly damped her hopes of
forming a friendship with any of the new acquaintance to whom she
was introduced, was the observation she herself made how ill the
coldness of their hearts accorded with the warmth of their
professions; upon every first meeting, the civilities which were
shewn her, flattered her into believing she had excited a partiality
that a very little time would ripen into affection; the next meeting
commonly confirmed the expectation; but the third, and every future
one, regularly destroyed it. She found that time added nothing to
their fondness, nor intimacy to their sincerity; that the interest
in her welfare which appeared to be taken at first sight, seldom,
with whatever reason, increased, and often without any, abated; that
the distinction she at first met with, was no effusion of kindness,
but of curiosity, which is scarcely sooner gratified than satiated;
and that those who lived always the life into which she had only
lately been initiated, were as much harassed with it as herself,
though less spirited to relinquish, and more helpless to better it,
and that they coveted nothing but what was new, because they had
experienced the insufficiency of whatever was familiar.
She began now to regret the loss she sustained in quitting the
neighbourhood, and being deprived of the conversation of Mr
Monckton, and yet more earnestly to miss the affection and sigh for
the society of Mrs Charlton, the lady with whom she had long and
happily resided at Bury; for she was very soon compelled to give up
all expectation of renewing the felicity of her earlier years, by
being restored to the friendship of Mrs Harrel, in whom she had
mistaken the kindness of childish intimacy for the sincerity of
chosen affection; and though she saw her credulous error with
mortification and displeasure, she regretted it with tenderness and
sorrow. "What, at last," cried she, "is human felicity, who has
tasted, and where is it to be found? If I, who, to others, seem
marked out for even a partial possession of it,--distinguished by
fortune, caressed by the world, brought into the circle of high
life, and surrounded with splendour, seek without finding it, yet
losing, scarce know how I miss it!"
Ashamed upon reflection to believe she was considered as an object
of envy by others, while repining and discontented herself, she
determined no longer to be the only one insensible to the blessings
within her reach, but by projecting and adopting some plan of
conduct better suited to her taste and feelings than the frivolous
insipidity of her present life, to make at once a more spirited and
more worthy use of the affluence, freedom, and power which she
A scheme of happiness at once rational and refined soon presented
itself to her imagination. She purposed, for the basis of her plan,
to become mistress of her own time, and with this view, to drop all
idle and uninteresting acquaintance, who, while they contribute
neither to use nor pleasure, make so large a part of the community,
that they may properly be called the underminers of existence; she
could then shew some taste and discernment in her choice of friends,
and she resolved to select such only as by their piety could elevate
her mind, by their knowledge improve her understanding, or by their
accomplishments and manners delight her affections. This regulation,
if strictly adhered to, would soon relieve her from the fatigue of
receiving many visitors, and therefore she might have all the
leisure she could desire for the pursuit of her favourite studies,
music and reading.
Having thus, from her own estimation of human perfection, culled
whatever was noblest for her society, and from her own ideas of
sedentary enjoyments arranged the occupations of her hours of
solitude, she felt fully satisfied with the portion of happiness
which her scheme promised to herself, and began next to consider
what was due from her to the world.
And not without trembling did she then look forward to the claims
which the splendid income she was soon to possess would call upon
her to discharge. A strong sense of DUTY, a fervent desire to ACT
RIGHT, were the ruling characteristics of her mind: her affluence
she therefore considered as a debt contracted with the poor, and her
independence as a tie upon her liberality to pay it with interest.
Many and various, then, soothing to her spirit and grateful to her
sensibility, were the scenes which her fancy delineated; now she
supported an orphan, now softened the sorrows of a widow, now
snatched from iniquity the feeble trembler at poverty, and now
rescued from shame the proud struggler with disgrace. The prospect
at once exalted her hopes, and enraptured her imagination; she
regarded herself as an agent of Charity, and already in idea
anticipated the rewards of a good and faithful delegate; so
animating are the designs of disinterested benevolence! so pure is
the bliss of intellectual philanthropy!
Not immediately, however, could this plan be put in execution; the
society she meant to form could not be selected in the house of
another, where, though to some she might shew a preference, there
were none she could reject: nor had she yet the power to indulge,
according to the munificence of her wishes, the extensive generosity
she projected: these purposes demanded a house of her own, and the
unlimited disposal of her fortune, neither of which she could claim
till she became of age. That period, however, was only eight months
distant, and she pleased herself with the intention of meliorating
her plan in the meantime, and preparing to put it in practice.
But though, in common with all the race of still-expecting man, she
looked for that happiness in the time to come which the present
failed to afford, she had yet the spirit and good sense to determine
upon making every effort in her power to render her immediate way of
life more useful and contented.
Her first wish, therefore, now, was to quit the house of Mr Harrel,
where she neither met with entertainment nor instruction, but was
perpetually mortified by seeing the total indifference of the friend
in whose society she had hoped for nothing but affection.
The will of her uncle, though it obliged her while under age to live
with one of her guardians, left her at liberty to chuse and to
change amongst them according to her wishes or convenience: she
determined, therefore, to make a visit herself to each of them, to
observe their manners and way of life, and then, to the best of her
judgment, decide with which she could be most contented: resolving,
however, not to hint at her intention till it was ripe for
execution, and then honestly to confess the reasons of her retreat.
She had acquainted them both of her journey to town the morning
after her arrival. She was almost an entire stranger to each of
them, as she had not seen Mr Briggs since she was nine years old,
nor Mr Delvile within the time she could remember.
The very morning that she had settled her proceedings for the
arrangement of this new plan, she intended to request the use of Mrs
Harrel's carriage, and to make, without delay, the visits
preparatory to her removal; but when she entered the parlour upon a
summons to breakfast, her eagerness to quit the house gave way, for
the present, to the pleasure she felt at the sight of Mr Monckton,
who was just arrived from Suffolk.
She expressed her satisfaction in the most lively terms, and
scrupled not to tell him she had not once been so much pleased since
her journey to town, except at her first meeting with Mrs Harrel.
Mr Monckton, whose delight was infinitely superior to her own, and
whose joy in seeing her was redoubled by the affectionate frankness
of her reception, stifled the emotions to which her sight gave rise,
and denying himself the solace of expressing his feelings, seemed
much less charmed than herself at the meeting, and suffered no word
nor look to escape him beyond what could be authorised by friendly
He then renewed with Mrs Harrel an acquaintance which had been
formed before her marriage, but which [he] had dropt when her
distance from Cecilia, upon whose account alone he had thought it
worth cultivation, made it no longer of use to him. She afterwards
introduced her brother to him; and a conversation very interesting
to both the ladies took place, concerning several families with
which they had been formerly connected, as well as the neighbourhood
at large in which they had lately dwelt.
Very little was the share taken by Mr Arnott in these accounts and
enquiries; the unaffected joy with which Cecilia had received Mr
Monckton, had struck him with a sensation of envy as involuntary as
it was painful; he did not, indeed, suspect that gentleman's secret
views; no reason for suspicion was obvious, and his penetration sunk
not deeper than appearances; he knew, too, that he was married, and
therefore no jealousy occurred to him; but still she had smiled upon
him!--and he felt that to purchase for himself a smile of so much
sweetness, he would have sacrificed almost all else that was
valuable to him upon earth.
With an attention infinitely more accurate, Mr Monckton had returned
his observations. The uneasiness of his mind was apparent, and the
anxious watchfulness of his eyes plainly manifested whence it arose.
From a situation, indeed, which permitted an intercourse the most
constant and unrestrained with such an object as Cecilia, nothing
less could be expected, and therefore he considered his admiration
as inevitable; all that remained to be discovered, was the reception
it had met from his fair enslaver. Nor was he here long in doubt; he
soon saw that she was not merely free from all passion herself, but
had so little watched Mr Arnott as to be unconscious she had
Yet was his own serenity, though apparently unmoved, little less
disturbed in secret than that of his rival; he did not think him a
formidable candidate, but he dreaded the effects of intimacy,
fearing she might first grow accustomed to his attentions, and then
become pleased with them. He apprehended, also, the influence of his
sister and of Mr Harrel in his favour; and though he had no
difficulty to persuade himself that any offer he might now make
would be rejected without hesitation, he knew too well the insidious
properties of perseverance, to see him, without inquietude, situated
The morning was far advanced before he took leave, yet he found no
opportunity of discoursing with Cecilia, though he impatiently
desired to examine into the state of her mind, and to discover
whether her London journey had added any fresh difficulties to the
success of his long-concerted scheme. But as Mrs Harrel invited him
to dinner, he hoped the afternoon would be more propitious to his
Cecilia, too, was eager to communicate to him her favourite project,
and to receive his advice with respect to its execution. She had
long been used to his counsel, and she was now more than ever
solicitous to obtain it, because she considered him as the only
person in London who was interested in her welfare.
He saw, however, no promise of better success when he made his
appearance at dinner time, for not only Mr Arnott was already
arrived, but Sir Robert Floyer, and he found Cecilia so much the
object of their mutual attention, that he had still less chance than
in the morning of speaking to her unheard.
Yet was he not idle; the sight of Sir Robert gave abundant
employment to his penetration, which was immediately at work, to
discover the motive of his visit: but this, with all his sagacity,
was not easily decided; for though the constant direction of his
eyes towards Cecilia, proved, at least, that he was not insensible
of her beauty, his carelessness whether or not she was hurt by his
examination, the little pains he took to converse with her, and the
invariable assurance and negligence of his manners, seemed strongly
to demonstrate an indifference to the sentiments he inspired,
totally incompatible with the solicitude of affection.
In Cecilia he had nothing to observe but what his knowledge of her
character prepared him to expect, a shame no less indignant than
modest at the freedom with which she saw herself surveyed.
Very little, therefore, was the satisfaction which this visit
procured him, for soon after dinner the ladies retired; and as they
had an early engagement for the evening, the gentlemen received no
summons to their tea-table. But he contrived, before they quitted
the room, to make an appointment for attending them the next morning
to a rehearsal of a new serious Opera.
He stayed not after their departure longer than decency required,
for too much in earnest was his present pursuit, to fit him for such
conversation as the house in Cecilia's absence could afford him.
AN OPERA REHEARSAL.
The next day, between eleven and twelve o'clock, Mr Monckton was
again in Portman Square; he found, as he expected, both the ladies,
and he found, as he feared, Mr Arnott prepared to be of their party.
He had, however, but little time to repine at this intrusion, before
he was disturbed by another, for, in a few minutes, they were joined
by Sir Robert Floyer, who also declared his intention of
accompanying them to the Haymarket.
Mr Monckton, to disguise his chagrin, pretended he was in great
haste to set off, lest they should be too late for the overture:
they were, therefore, quitting the breakfast room, when they were
stopt by the appearance of Mr Morrice.
The surprise which the sight of him gave to Mr Monckton was extreme;
he knew that he was unacquainted with Mr Harrel, for he remembered
they were strangers to each other when they lately met at his house;
he concluded, therefore, that Cecilia was the object of his visit,
but he could frame no conjecture under what pretence.
The easy terms upon which he seemed with all the family by no means
diminished his amazement; for when Mrs Harrel expressed some concern
that she was obliged to go out, he gaily begged her not to mind him,
assuring her he could not have stayed two minutes, and promising,
unasked, to call again the next day: and when she added, "We would
not hurry away so, only we are going to a rehearsal of an Opera," he
exclaimed with quickness, "A rehearsal!--are you really? I have a
great mind to go too!"
Then, perceiving Mr Monckton, he bowed to him with great respect,
and enquired, with no little solemnity, how he had left Lady
Margaret, hoped she was perfectly recovered from her late
indisposition, and asked sundry questions with regard to her plan
for the winter.
This discourse was ill constructed for rendering his presence
desirable to Mr Monckton; he answered him very drily, and again
pressed their departure.
"O," cried Morrice, "there's no occasion for such haste; the
rehearsal does not begin till one."
"You are mistaken, sir," said Mr Monckton; "it is to begin at twelve
"O ay, very true," returned Morrice; "I had forgot the dances, and I
suppose they are to be rehearsed first. Pray, Miss Beverley, did you
ever see any dances rehearsed?"
"You will be excessively entertained, then, I assure you. It's the
most comical thing in the world to see those signores and signoras
cutting capers in a morning. And the _figuranti_ will divert
you beyond measure; you never saw such a shabby set in your life:
but the most amusing thing is to look in their faces, for all the
time they are jumping and skipping about the stage as if they could
not stand still for joy, they look as sedate and as dismal as if
they were so many undertaker's men."
"Not a word against dancing!" cried Sir Robert, "it's the only thing
carries one to the Opera; and I am sure it's the only thing one
minds at it."
The two ladies were then handed to Mrs Harrel's _vis-a-vis_;
and the gentlemen, joined without further ceremony by Mr Morrice,
followed them to the Haymarket.
The rehearsal was not begun, and Mrs Harrel and Cecilia secured
themselves a box upon the stage, from which the gentlemen of their
party took care not to be very distant.
They were soon perceived by Mr Gosport, who instantly entered into
conversation with Cecilia. Miss Larolles, who with some other ladies
came soon after into the next box, looked out to courtsie and nod,
with her usual readiness, at Mrs Harrel, but took not any notice of
Cecilia, though she made the first advances.
"What's the matter now?" cried Mr Gosport; "have you affronted your
little prattling friend?"
"Not with my own knowledge," answered Cecilia; "perhaps she does not
Just then Miss Larolles, tapping at the door, came in from the next
box to speak to Mrs Harrel; with whom she stood chatting and
laughing some minutes, without seeming to perceive that Cecilia was
of her party.
"Why, what have you done to the poor girl?" whispered Mr Gosport;
"did you talk more than herself when you saw her last?"
"Would that have been possible?" cried Cecilia; "however, I still
fancy she does not know me."
She then stood up, which making Miss Larolles involuntarily turn
towards her, she again courtsied; a civility which that young lady
scarce deigned to return, before, bridling with an air of
resentment, she hastily looked another way, and then, nodding good-
humouredly at Mrs Harrel, hurried back to her party.
Cecilia, much amazed, said to Mr Gosport, "See now how great was our
presumption in supposing this young lady's loquacity always at our
"Ah, madam!" cried he, laughing, "there is no permanency, no
consistency in the world! no, not even in the tongue of a VOLUBLE!
and if that fails, upon what may we depend?"
"But seriously," said Cecilia, "I am sorry I have offended her, and
the more because I so little know how, that I can offer her no
"Will you appoint me your envoy? Shall I demand the cause of these
She thanked him, and he followed Miss Larolles; who was now
addressing herself with great earnestness to Mr Meadows, the
gentleman with whom she was conversing when Cecilia first saw her in
Portman Square. He stopt a moment to let her finish her speech,
which, with no little spirit, she did in these words, "I never knew
anything like it in my life; but I shan't put up with such airs, I
Mr Meadows made not any other return to her harangue, but stretching
himself with a languid smile, and yawning: Mr Gosport, therefore,
seizing the moment of cessation, said, "Miss Larolles, I hear a
strange report about you."
"Do you?" returned she, with quickness, "pray what is it? something
monstrous impertinent, I dare say,---however, I assure you it i'n't
"Your assurance," cried he, "carries conviction indisputable, for
the report was that you had left off talking."
"O, was that all?" cried she, disappointed, "I thought it had been
something about Mr Sawyer, for I declare I have been plagued so
about him, I am quite sick of his name."
"And for my part, I never heard it! so fear nothing from me upon his
"Lord, Mr Gosport, how can you say so? I am sure you must know about
the Festino that night, for it was all over the town in a moment."
"Well, only conceive, how provoking!--why, I know nothing else was
talked of for a month!"
"You are most formidably stout this morning! it is not two minutes
since I saw you fling the gauntlet at Miss Beverley, and yet you are
already prepared for another antagonist."
"O as to Miss Beverley, I must really beg you not to mention her;
she has behaved so impertinently, that I don't intend ever to speak
to her again."
"Why, what has she done?"
"O she's been so rude you've no notion. I'll tell you how it was.
You must know I met her at Mrs Barrel's the day she came to town,
and the very next morning I waited on her myself, for I would not
send a ticket, because I really wished to be civil to her; well, the
day after, she never came near me, though I called upon her again;
however, I did not take any notice of that; but when the third day
came, and I found she had not even sent me a ticket, I thought it
monstrous ill bred indeed; and now there has passed more than a
week, and yet she has never called: so I suppose she don't like me;
so I shall drop her acquaintance."
Mr Gosport, satisfied now with the subject of her complaint,
returned to Cecilia, and informed her of the heavy charge which was
brought against her.
"I am glad, at least, to know my crime," said she, "for otherwise I
should certainly have sinned on in ignorance, as I must confess I
never thought of returning her visits: but even if I had, I should
not have supposed I had yet lost much time."
"I beg your pardon there," said Mrs Harrel; "a first visit ought to
be returned always by the third day."
"Then have I an unanswerable excuse," said Cecilia, "for I remember
that on the third day I saw her at your house."
"O that's nothing at all to the purpose; you should have waited upon
her, or sent her a ticket, just the same as if you had not seen
The overture was now begun, and Cecilia declined any further
conversation. This was the first Opera she had ever heard, yet she
was not wholly a stranger to Italian compositions, having
assiduously studied music from a natural love of the art, attended
all the best concerts her neighbourhood afforded, and regularly
received from London the works of the best masters. But the little
skill she had thus gained, served rather to increase than to lessen
the surprize with which she heard the present performance,--a
surprize of which the discovery of her own ignorance made not the
least part. Unconscious from the little she had acquired how much
was to be learnt, she was astonished to find the inadequate power of
written music to convey any idea of vocal abilities: with just
knowledge enough, therefore, to understand something of the
difficulties, and feel much of the merit, she gave to the whole
Opera an avidity of attention almost painful from its own eagerness.
But both the surprize and the pleasure which she received from the
performance in general, were faint, cold, and languid, compared to
the strength of those emotions when excited by Signore Pacchierotti
in particular; and though not half the excellencies of that superior
singer were necessary either to amaze or charm her unaccustomed
ears, though the refinement of his taste and masterly originality of
his genius, to be praised as they deserved, called for the judgment
and knowledge of professors, yet a natural love of music in some
measure supplied the place of cultivation, and what she could
neither explain nor understand, she could feel and enjoy.
The opera was Artaserse; and the pleasure she received from the
music was much augmented by her previous acquaintance with that
interesting drama; yet, as to all noviciates in science, whatever is
least complicated is most pleasing, she found herself by nothing so
deeply impressed, as by the plaintive and beautiful simplicity with
which Pacchierotti uttered the affecting repetition of _sono
innocente_! his voice, always either sweet or impassioned,
delivered those words in a tone of softness, pathos, and
sensibility, that struck her with a sensation not more new than
But though she was, perhaps, the only person thus astonished, she
was by no means the only one enraptured; for notwithstanding she was
too earnestly engaged to remark the company in general, she could
not avoid taking notice of an old gentleman who stood by one of the
side scenes, against which he leant his head in a manner that
concealed his face, with an evident design to be wholly absorbed in
listening: and during the songs of Pacchierotti he sighed so deeply
that Cecilia, struck by his uncommon sensibility to the power of
music, involuntarily watched him, whenever her mind was sufficiently
at liberty to attend to any emotions but its own.
As soon as the rehearsal was over, the gentlemen of Mrs Harrel's
party crowded before her box; and Cecilia then perceived that the
person whose musical enthusiasm had excited her curiosity, was the
same old gentleman whose extraordinary behaviour had so much
surprized her at the house of Mr Monckton. Her desire to obtain some
information concerning him again reviving, she was beginning to make
fresh enquiries, when she was interrupted by the approach of Captain
That gentleman, advancing to her with a smile of the extremest self-
complacency, after hoping, in a low voice, he had the honour of
seeing her well, exclaimed, "How wretchedly empty is the town!
petrifying to a degree! I believe you do not find yourself at
present _obsede_ by too much company?"
"_At present_, I believe the contrary!" cried Mr Gosport.
"Really!" said the Captain, unsuspicious of his sneer, "I protest I
have hardly seen a soul. Have you tried the Pantheon yet, ma'am?"
"Nor I; I don't know whether people go there this year. It is not a
favourite _spectacle_ with me; that sitting to hear the music
is a horrid bore. Have you done the Festino the honour to look in
"Permit me, then, to have the honour to beg you will try it."
"O, ay, true," cried Mrs Harrel; "I have really used you very ill
about that; I should have got you in for a subscriber: but Lord, I
have done nothing for you yet, and you never put me in mind. There's
the ancient music, and Abel's concert;--as to the opera, we may have
a box between us;--but there's the ladies' concert we must try for;
and there's--O Lord, fifty other places we must think of!"
"Oh times of folly and dissipation!" exclaimed a voice at some
distance; "Oh mignons of idleness and luxury! What next will ye
invent for the perdition of your time! How yet further will ye
proceed in the annihilation of virtue!"
Everybody stared; but Mrs Harrel coolly said, "Dear, it's only the
"The man-hater?" repeated Cecilia, who found that the speech was
made by the object of her former curiosity; "is that the name by
which he is known?"
"He is known by fifty names," said Mr Monckton; "his friends call
him the _moralist_; the young ladies, the _crazy-man_; the
macaronies, the _bore_; in short, he is called by any and every
name but his own."
"He is a most petrifying wretch, I assure you," said the Captain; "I
am _obsede_ by him _partout_; if I had known he had been
so near, I should certainly have said nothing."
"That you have done so well," cried Mr Gosport, "that if you had
known it the whole time, you could have done it no better."
The Captain, who had not heard this speech, which was rather made at
him than to him, continued his address to Cecilia; "Give me leave to
have the honour of hoping you intend to honour our select masquerade
at the Pantheon with your presence. We shall have but five hundred
tickets, and the subscription will only be three guineas and a
"Oh objects of penury and want!" again exclaimed the incognito; "Oh
vassals of famine and distress! Come and listen to this wantonness
of wealth! Come, naked and breadless as ye are, and learn how that
money is consumed which to you might bring raiment and food!"
"That strange wretch," said the Captain, "ought really to be
confined; I have had the honour to be _degoute_ by him so
often, that I think him quite obnoxious. I make it quite a principle
to seal up my lips the moment I perceive him."
"Where is it, then," said Cecilia, "that you have so often met him?"
"O," answered the Captain, "_partout_; there is no greater bore
about town. But the time I found him most petrifying was once when I
happened to have the honour of dancing with a very young lady, who
was but just come from a boarding-school, and whose friends had done
me the honour to fix upon me upon the principle of first bringing
her out: and while I was doing _mon possible_ for killing the
time, he came up, and in his particular manner, told her I had no
meaning in any thing I said! I must own I never felt more tempted to
be _enrage_ with a person in years, in my life."
Mr Arnott now brought the ladies word that their carriage was ready,
and they quitted their box: but as Cecilia had never before seen the
interior parts of a theatre, Mr Monckton, hoping while they loitered
to have an opportunity of talking with her, asked Morrice why he did
not _shew the lions?_ Morrice, always happy in being employed,
declared it was _just the thing he liked best_, and begged
permission to do the honours to Mrs Harrel, who, ever eager in the
search of amusement, willingly accepted his offer.
They all, therefore, marched upon the stage, their own party now
being the only one that remained.
"We shall make a triumphal entry here," cried Sir Robert Floyer;
"the very tread of the stage half tempts me to turn actor."
"You are a rare man," said Mr Gosport, "if, at your time of life,
that is a turn not already taken."
"My time of life!" repeated he; "what do you mean by that? do you
take me for an old man?"
"No, sir, but I take you to be past childhood, and consequently to
have served your apprenticeship to the actors you have mixed with on
the great stage of the world, and, for some years at least, to have
set up for yourself."
"Come," cried Morrice, "let's have a little spouting; 'twill make us
"Yes," said Sir Robert, "if we spout to an animating object. If Miss
Beverley will be Juliet, I am Romeo at her service."
At this moment the incognito, quitting the corner in which he had
planted himself, came suddenly forward, and standing before the
whole group, cast upon Cecilia a look of much compassion, and called
out, "Poor simple victim! hast thou already so many pursuers? yet
seest not that thou art marked for sacrifice! yet knowest not that
thou art destined for prey!"
Cecilia, extremely struck by this extraordinary address, stopt short
and looked much disturbed: which, when he perceived, he added, "Let
the danger, not the warning affect you! discard the sycophants that
surround you, seek the virtuous, relieve the poor, and save yourself
from the impending destruction of unfeeling prosperity!"
Having uttered these words with vehemence and authority, he sternly
passed them, and disappeared.
Cecilia, too much astonished for speech, stood for some time
immoveable, revolving in her mind various conjectures upon the
meaning of an exhortation so strange and so urgent.
Nor was the rest of the company much less discomposed: Sir Robert,
Mr Monckton, and Mr Arnott, each conscious of their own particular
plans, were each apprehensive that the warning pointed at himself:
Mr Gosport was offended at being included in the general appellation
of sycophants; Mrs Harrel was provoked at being interrupted in her
ramble; and Captain Aresby, sickening at the very sight of him,
retreated the moment he came forth.
"For heaven's sake," cried Cecilia, when somewhat recovered from her
consternation, "who can this be, and what can he mean? You, Mr
Monckton, must surely know something of him; it was at your house I
first saw him."
"Indeed," answered Mr Monckton, "I knew almost nothing of him then,
and I am but little better informed now. Belfield picked him up
somewhere, and desired to bring him to my house: he called him by
the name of Albany: I found him a most extraordinary character, and
Belfield, who is a worshipper of originality, was very fond of him."
"He's a devilish crabbed old fellow," cried Sir Robert, "and if he
goes on much longer at this confounded rate, he stands a very fair
chance of getting his ears cropped."
"He is a man of the most singular conduct I have ever met with,"
said Mr Gosport; "he seems to hold mankind in abhorrence, yet he is
never a moment alone, and at the same time that he intrudes himself
into all parties, he associates with none: he is commonly a stern
and silent observer of all that passes, or when he speaks, it is but
to utter some sentence of rigid morality, or some bitterness of
The carriage was now again announced, and Mr Monckton taking
Cecilia's hand, while Mr Morrice secured to himself the honour of
Mrs Harrel's, Sir Robert and Mr Gosport made their bows and
departed. But though they had now quitted the stage, and arrived at
the head of a small stair case by which they were to descend out of
the theatre, Mr Monckton, finding all his tormentors retired, except
Mr Arnott, whom he hoped to elude, could not resist making one more
attempt for a few moments' conversation with Cecilia; and therefore,
again applying to Morrice, he called out, "I don't think you have
shewn the ladies any of the contrivances behind the scenes?"
"True," cried Morrice, "no more I have; suppose we go back?"
"I shall like it vastly," said Mrs Harrel; and back they returned.
Mr Monckton now soon found an opportunity to say to Cecilia, "Miss
Beverley, what I foresaw has exactly come to pass; you are
surrounded by selfish designers, by interested, double-minded
people, who have nothing at heart but your fortune, and whose
mercenary views, if you are not guarded against them---"
Here a loud scream from Mrs Harrel interrupted his speech; Cecilia,
much alarmed, turned from him to enquire the cause, and Mr Monckton
was obliged to follow her example: but his mortification was almost
intolerable when he saw that lady in a violent fit of laughter, and
found her scream was only occasioned by seeing Mr Morrice, in his
diligence to do the honours, pull upon his own head one of the side
There was now no possibility of proposing any further delay; but Mr
Monckton, in attending the ladies to their carriage, was obliged to
have recourse to his utmost discretion and forbearance, in order to
check his desire of reprimanding Morrice for his blundering
Dressing, dining with company at home, and then going out with
company abroad, filled up, as usual, the rest of the day.
The next morning Cecilia, at the repeated remonstrances of Mrs
Harrel, consented to call upon Miss Larolles. She felt the
impracticability of beginning at present the alteration in her way
of life she had projected, and therefore thought it most expedient
to assume no singularity till her independency should enable her to
support it with consistency; yet greater than ever was her internal
eagerness to better satisfy her inclination and her conscience in
the disposition of her time, and the distribution of her wealth,
since she had heard the emphatic charge of her unknown Mentor.
Mrs Harrel declined accompanying her in this visit, because she had
appointed a surveyor to bring a plan for the inspection of Mr Harrel
and herself, of a small temporary building, to be erected at Violet-
Bank, for the purpose of performing plays in private the ensuing
When the street door was opened for her to get into the carriage,
she was struck with the appearance of an elderly woman who was
standing at some distance, and seemed shivering with cold, and who,
as she descended the steps, joined her hands in an act of
supplication, and advanced nearer to the carriage.
Cecilia stopt to look at her: her dress, though parsimonious, was
too neat for a beggar, and she considered a moment what she could
offer her. The poor woman continued to move forward, but with a
slowness of pace that indicated extreme weakness; and, as she
approached and raised her head, she exhibited a countenance so
wretched, and a complexion so sickly, that Cecilia was impressed
with horror at the sight.
With her hands still joined, and a voice that seemed fearful of its
own sound, "Oh madam," she cried, "that you would but hear me!"
"Hear you!" repeated Cecilia, hastily feeling for her purse; "most
certainly, and tell me how I shall assist you."
"Heaven bless you for speaking so kindly, madam!" cried the woman,
with a voice more assured; "I was sadly afraid you would be angry,
but I saw the carriage at the door, and I thought I would try; for I
could be no worse; and distress, madam, makes very bold."
"Angry!" said Cecilia, taking a crown from her purse; "no, indeed!--
who could see such wretchedness, and feel any thing but pity?"
"Oh madam," returned the poor woman, "I could almost cry to hear you
talk so, though I never thought to cry again, since I left it off
for my poor Billy!"
"Have you, then, lost a son?"
"Yes, madam; but he was a great deal too good to live, so I have
quite left off grieving for him now."
"Come in, good woman," said Cecilia, "it is too cold to stand here,
and you seem half-starved already: come in, and let me have some
talk with you."
She then gave orders that the carriage should be driven round the
square till she was ready, and making the woman follow her into a
parlour, desired to know what she should do for her; changing, while
she spoke, from a movement of encreasing compassion, the crown which
she held in her hand for double that sum.
"You can do everything, madam," she answered, "if you will but plead
for us to his honour: he little thinks of our distress, because he
has been afflicted with none himself, and I would not be so
troublesome to him, but indeed, indeed, madam, we are quite pinched
Cecilia, struck with the words, _he little thinks of our distress,
because he has been afflicted with none himself_, felt again
ashamed of the smallness of her intended donation, and taking from
her purse another half guinea, said, "Will this assist you? Will a
guinea be sufficient to you for the present?"
"I humbly thank you, madam," said the woman, curtsying low, "shall I
give you a receipt?"
"A receipt?" cried Cecilia, with emotion, "for what? Alas, our
accounts are by no means balanced! but I shall do more for you if I
find you as deserving an object as you seem to be."
"You are very good, madam; but I only meant a receipt in part of
"Payment for what? I don't understand you."
"Did his honour never tell you, madam, of our account?"
"Our bill, madam, for work done to the new Temple at Violet-Bank: it
was the last great work my poor husband was able to do, for it was
there he met with his misfortune."
"What bill? What misfortune?" cried Cecilia; "what had your husband
to do at Violet-Bank?"
"He was the carpenter, madam. I thought you might have seen poor
Hill the carpenter there."
"No, I never was there myself. Perhaps you mistake me for Mrs
"Why, sure, madam, a'n't you his honour's lady?"
"No. But tell me, what is this bill?"
"'Tis a bill, madam, for very hard work, for work, madam, which I am
sure will cost my husband his life; and though I have been after his
honour night and day to get it, and sent him letters and petitions
with an account of our misfortunes, I have never received so much as
a shilling! and now the servants won't even let me wait in the hall
to speak to him. Oh, madam! you who seem so good, plead to his
honour in our behalf! tell him my poor husband cannot live! tell him
my children are starving! and tell him my poor Billy, that used to
help to keep us, is dead, and that all the work I can do by myself
is not enough to maintain us!"
"Good heaven!" cried Cecilia, extremely moved, "is it then your own
money for which you sue thus humbly?"
"Yes, madam, for my own just and honest money, as his honour knows,
and will tell you himself."
"Impossible!" cried Cecilia, "he cannot know it; but I will take
care he shall soon be informed of it. How much is the bill?"
"Two-and-twenty pounds, madam."
"What, no more?"
"Ah, madam, you gentlefolks little think how much that is to poor
people! A hard working family, like mine, madam, with the help of
20 pounds will go on for a long while quite in paradise."
"Poor worthy woman!" cried Cecilia, whose eyes were filled with tears
of compassion, "if 20 pounds will place you in paradise, and that 20
pounds only your just right, it is hard, indeed, that you should be
kept without it; especially when your debtors are too affluent to
miss it. Stay here a few moments, and I will bring you the money
Away she flew, and returned to the breakfast room, but found there
only Mr Arnott, who told her that Mr Harrel was in the library, with
his sister and some gentlemen. Cecilia briefly related her business,
and begged he would inform Mr Harrel she wished to speak to him
directly. Mr Arnott shook his head, but obeyed.
They returned together, and immediately.
"Miss Beverley," cried Mr Harrel, gaily, "I am glad you are not
gone, for we want much to consult with you. Will you come up
"Presently," answered she; "but first I must speak to you about a
poor woman with whom I have accidentally been talking, who has
begged me to intercede with you to pay a little debt that she thinks
you have forgotten, but that probably you have never heard
"A debt?" cried he, with an immediate change of countenance, "to
"Her name, I think, is Hill; she is wife to the carpenter you
employed about a new temple at Violet-Bank."
"O, what--what, that woman?--Well, well, I'll see she shall be paid.
Come, let us go to the library."
"What, with my commission so ill executed? I promised to petition
for her to have the money directly."
"Pho, pho, there's no such hurry; I don't know what I have done with
"I'll run and get another."
"O upon no account! She may send another in two or three days. She
deserves to wait a twelvemonth for her impertinence in troubling you
at all about it."
"That was entirely accidental: but indeed you must give me leave to
perform my promise and plead for her. It must be almost the same to
you whether you pay such a trifle as 20 pounds now or a month hence,
and to this poor woman the difference seems little short of life or
death, for she tells me her husband is dying, and her children are
half-famished; and though she looks an object of the cruellest want
and distress herself, she appears to be their only support."
"O," cried Mr Harrel, laughing, "what a dismal tale has she been
telling you! no doubt she saw you were fresh from the country! But
if you give credit to all the farragos of these trumpery impostors,
you will never have a moment to yourself, nor a guinea in your
"This woman,"' answered Cecilia, "cannot be an impostor, she carries
marks but too evident and too dreadful in her countenance of the
sufferings which she relates."
"O," returned he, "when you know the town better you will soon see
through tricks of this sort; a sick husband and five small children
are complaints so stale now, that they serve no other purpose in the
world but to make a joke."
"Those, however, who can laugh at them must have notions of
merriment very different to mine. And this poor woman, whose cause I
have ventured to undertake, had she no family at all, must still and
indisputably be an object of pity herself, for she is so weak she
can hardly crawl, and so pallid that she seems already half dead."
"All imposition, depend upon it! The moment she is out of your sight
her complaints will vanish."
"Nay, sir," cried Cecilia, a little impatiently, "there is no reason
to suspect such deceit, since she does not come hither as a beggar,
however well the state of beggary may accord with her poverty: she
only solicits the payment of a bill, and if in that there is any
fraud, nothing can be so easy as detection."
Mr Harrel bit his lips at this speech, and for some instants looked
much disturbed; but soon recovering himself, he negligently said,
"Pray, how did she get at you?"
"I met her at the street door. But tell me, is not her bill a just
"I cannot say; I have never had time to look at it."
"But you know who the woman is, and that her husband worked for you,
and therefore that in all probability it is right,--do you not?"
"Yes, yes, I know who the woman is well enough; she has taken care
of that, for she has pestered me every day these nine months."
Cecilia was struck dumb by this speech: hitherto she had supposed
that the dissipation of his life kept him ignorant of his own
injustice; but when she found he was so well informed of it, yet,
with such total indifference, could suffer a poor woman to claim a
just debt every day for nine months together, she was shocked and
astonished beyond measure. They were both some time silent, and then
Mr Harrel, yawning and stretching out his arms, indolently asked,
"Pray, why does not the man come himself?"
"Did I not tell you," answered Cecilia, staring at so absent a
question, "that he was very ill, and unable even to work?"
"Well, when he is better," added he, moving towards the door, "he
may call, and I will talk to him."
Cecilia, all amazement at this unfeeling behaviour, turned
involuntarily to Mr Arnott, with a countenance that appealed for his
assistance; but Mr Arnott hung his head, ashamed to meet her eyes,
and abruptly left the room.
Meantime Mr Harrel, half-turning back, though without looking
Cecilia in the face, carelessly said, "Well, won't you come?"
"No, sir," answered she, coldly.
He then returned to the library, leaving her equally displeased,
surprised, and disconcerted at the conversation which had just
passed between them. "Good heaven," cried she to herself, "what
strange, what cruel insensibility! to suffer a wretched family to
starve, from an obstinate determination to assert that they can
live! to distress the poor by retaining the recompense for which
alone they labour, and which at last they must have, merely from
indolence, forgetfulness, or insolence! Oh how little did my uncle
know, how little did I imagine to what a guardian I was entrusted!"
She now felt ashamed even to return to the poor woman, though she
resolved to do all in her power to soften her disappointment and
relieve her distress.
But before she had quitted the room one of the servants came to tell
her that his master begged the honor of her company up stairs.
"Perhaps he relents!" thought she; and pleased with the hope,
readily obeyed the summons.
She found him, his lady, Sir Robert Floyer, and two other gentlemen,
all earnestly engaged in an argument over a large table, which was
covered with plans and elevations of small buildings.
Mr Harrel immediately addressed her with an air of vivacity, and
said, "You are very good for coming; we can settle nothing without
your advice: pray look at these different plans for our theatre, and
tell us which is the best."
Cecilia advanced not a step: the sight of plans for new edifices
when the workmen were yet unpaid for old ones; the cruel wantonness
of raising fresh fabrics of expensive luxury, while those so lately
built had brought their neglected labourers to ruin, excited an
indignation she scarce thought right to repress: while the easy
sprightliness of the director of these revels, to whom but the
moment before she had represented the oppression of which they made
him guilty, filled her with aversion and disgust: and, recollecting
the charge given her by the stranger at the Opera rehearsal, she
resolved to speed her departure to another house, internally
repeating, "Yes, I _will_ save myself from _the impending
destruction of unfeeling prosperity_!"
Mrs Harrel, surprised at her silence and extreme gravity, enquired
if she was not well, and why she had put off her visit to Miss
Larolles? And Sir Robert Floyer, turning suddenly to look at her,
said, "Do you begin to feel the London air already?"
Cecilia endeavoured to recover her serenity, and answer these
questions in her usual manner; but she persisted in declining to
give any opinion at all about the plans, and, after slightly looking
at them, left the room.
Mr Harrel, who knew better how to account for her behaviour than he
thought proper to declare, saw with concern that she was more
seriously displeased than he had believed an occurrence which he had
regarded as wholly unimportant could have made her: and, therefore,
desirous that she should be appeased, he followed her out of the
library, and said, "Miss Beverley, will to-morrow be soon enough for
"O yes, no doubt!" answered she, most agreeably surprised by the
"Well, then, will you take the trouble to bid her come to me in the
Delighted at this unexpected commission, she thanked him with smiles
for the office; and as she hastened down stairs to chear the poor
expectant with the welcome intelligence, she framed a thousand
excuses for the part he had hitherto acted, and without any
difficulty, persuaded herself he began to see the faults of his
conduct, and to meditate a reformation.
She was received by the poor creature she so warmly wished to serve
with a countenance already so much enlivened, that she fancied Mr
Harrel had himself anticipated her intended information: this,
however, she found was not the case, for as soon as she heard his
message, she shook her head, and said, "Ah, madam, his honour always
says to-morrow! but I can better bear to be disappointed now, so
I'll grumble no more; for indeed, madam, I have been blessed enough
to-day to comfort me for every thing in the world, if I could but
keep from thinking of poor Billy! I could bear all the rest, madam,
but whenever my other troubles go off, that comes back to me so much
"There, indeed, I can afford you no relief," said Cecilia, "but you
must try to think less of him, and more of your husband and children
who are now alive. To-morrow you will receive your money, and that,
I hope, will raise your spirits. And pray let your husband have a
physician, to tell you how to nurse and manage him; I will give you
one fee for him now, and if he should want further advice, don't
fear to let me know."
Cecilia had again taken out her purse, but Mrs Hill, clasping her
hands, called out, "Oh madam no! I don't come here to fleece such
goodness! but blessed be the hour that brought me here to-day, and
if my poor Billy was alive, he should help me to thank you!"
She then told her that she was now quite rich, for while she was
gone, a gentleman had come into the room, who had given her five
Cecilia, by her description, soon found this gentleman was Mr
Arnott, and a charity so sympathetic with her own, failed not to
raise him greatly in her favour. But as her benevolence was a
stranger to that parade which is only liberal from emulation, when
she found more money not immediately wanted, she put up her purse,
and charging Mrs Hill to enquire for her the next morning when she
came to be paid, bid her hasten back to her sick husband.
And then, again ordering the carriage to the door, she set off upon
her visit to Miss Larolles, with a heart happy in the good already
done, and happier still in the hope of doing more.
Miss Larolles was out, and she returned home; for she was too
sanguine in her expectations from Mr Harrel, to have any desire of
seeking her other guardians. The rest of the day she was more than
usually civil to him, with a view to mark her approbation of his
good intentions: while Mr Arnott, gratified by meeting the smiles he
so much valued, thought his five guineas amply repaid, independently
of the real pleasure which he took in doing good.
The next morning, when breakfast was over, Cecilia waited with much
impatience to hear some tidings of the poor carpenter's wife; but
though Mr Harrel, who had always that meal in his own room, came
into his lady's at his usual hour, to see what was going forward, he
did not mention her name. She therefore went into the hall herself,
to enquire among the servants if Mrs Hill was yet come?
Yes, they answered, and had seen their master, and was gone.
She then returned to the breakfast room, where her eagerness to
procure some information detained her, though the entrance of Sir
Robert Floyer made her wish to retire. But she was wholly at a loss
whether to impute to general forgetfulness, or to the failure of
performing his promise, the silence of Mr Harrel upon the subject of
In a few minutes they were visited by Mr Morrice, who said he called
to acquaint the ladies that the next morning there was to be a
rehearsal of a very grand new dance at the Opera-House, where,
though admission was difficult, if it was agreeable to them to go,
he would undertake to introduce them.
Mrs Harrel happened to be engaged, and therefore declined the offer.
He then turned to Cecilia, and said, "Well, ma'am, when did you see
our friend Monckton?"
"Not since the rehearsal, sir."
"He is a mighty agreeable fellow," he continued, "and his house in
the country is charming. One is as easy at it as at home. Were you
ever there, Sir Robert?"
"Not I, truly," replied Sir Robert; "what should I go for?--to see
an old woman with never a tooth in her head sitting at the top of
the table! Faith, I'd go an hundred miles a day for a month never to
see such a sight again."
"O but you don't know how well she does the honours," said Morrice;
"and for my part, except just at meal times, I always contrive to
keep out of her way."
"I wonder when she intends to die," said Mr Harrel.
"She's been a long time about it," cried Sir Robert; "but those
tough old cats last for ever. We all thought she was going when
Monckton married her; however, if he had not managed like a
driveler, he might have broke her heart nine years ago."
"I am sure I wish he had," cried Mrs Harrel, "for she's an odious
creature, and used always to make me afraid of her."
"But an old woman," answered Sir Robert, "is a person who has no
sense of decency; if once she takes to living, the devil himself
can't get rid of her."
"I dare say," cried Morrice, "she'll pop off before long in one of
those fits of the asthma. I assure you sometimes you may hear her
wheeze a mile off."
"She'll go never the sooner for that," said Sir Robert, "for I have
got an old aunt of my own, who has been puffing and blowing as if
she was at her last gasp ever since I can remember; and for all
that, only yesterday, when I asked her doctor when she'd give up the
ghost, he told me she might live these dozen years."
Cecilia was by no means sorry to have this brutal conversation
interrupted by the entrance of a servant with a letter for her. She
was immediately retiring to read it; but upon the petition of Mr
Monckton, who just then came into the room, she only went to a
window. The letter was as follows:
_To Miss, at his Honour Squire Harrel's--These:_
Honoured Madam,--This with my humble duty. His Honour has given me
nothing. But I would not be troublesome, having wherewithal to wait,
so conclude, Honoured Madam, your dutiful servant to command, till
death, M. HILL.
The vexation with which Cecilia read this letter was visible to the
whole company; and while Mr Arnott looked at her with a wish of
enquiry he did not dare express, and Mr Monckton, under an
appearance of inattention, concealed the most anxious curiosity, Mr
Morrice alone had courage to interrogate her; and, pertly advancing,
said, "He is a happy man who writ that letter, ma'am, for I am sure
you have not read it with indifference."
"Were I the writer," said Mr Arnott, tenderly, "I am sure I should
reckon myself far otherwise, for Miss Beverley seems to have read it
"However, I have read it," answered she, "I assure you it is not
from _any man_."
"O pray, Miss Beverley," cried Sir Robert, coming forward, "are you
any better to-day?"
"No, sir, for I have not been ill."
"A little vapoured, I thought, yesterday; perhaps you want
"I wish the ladies would put themselves under my care," cried
Morrice, "and take a turn round the park."
"I don't doubt you, Sir," said Mr Monckton, contemptuously, "and,
but for the check of modesty, probably there is not a man here who
would not wish the same."
"I could propose a much better scheme than that," said Sir Robert;
"what if you all walk to Harley Street, and give me your notions of
a house I am about there? what say you, Mrs Harrel?"
"O, I shall like it vastly."
"Done," cried Mr Harrel; "'tis an excellent motion."
"Come then," said Sir Robert, "let's be off. Miss Beverley, I hope
you have a good warm cloak?"
"I must beg you to excuse my attending you, sir."
Mr Monckton, who had heard this proposal with the utmost dread of
its success, revived at the calm steadiness with which it was
declined. Mr and Mrs Harrel both teized Cecilia to consent; but the
haughty Baronet, evidently more offended than hurt by her refusal,
pressed the matter no further, either with her or the rest of the
party, and the scheme was dropt entirely.
Mr Monckton failed not to remark this circumstance, which confirmed
his suspicions, that though the proposal seemed made by chance, its
design was nothing else than to obtain Cecilia's opinion concerning
his house. But while this somewhat alarmed him, the unabated
insolence of his carriage, and the confident defiance of his pride,
still more surprized him; and notwithstanding all he observed of
Cecilia, seemed to promise nothing but dislike; he could draw no
other inference from his behaviour, than that if he admired, he also
concluded himself sure of her.
This was not a pleasant conjecture, however little weight he allowed
to it; and he resolved, by outstaying all the company, to have a few
minutes' private discourse with her upon the subject.
In about half an hour, Sir Robert and Mr Harrel went out together:
Mr Monckton still persevered in keeping his ground, and tried,
though already weary, to keep up a general conversation; but what
moved at once his wonder and his indignation was the assurance of
Morrice, who seemed not only bent upon staying as long as himself,
but determined, by rattling away, to make his own entertainment.
At length a servant came in to tell Mrs Harrel that a stranger, who
was waiting in the house-keeper's room, begged to speak with her
upon very particular business.
"O, I know," cried she, "'tis that odious John Groot: do pray,
brother, try to get rid of him for me, for he comes to teize me
about his bill, and I never know what to say to him."
Mr Arnott went immediately, and Mr Monckton could scarce refrain
from going too, that he might entreat John Groot by no means to be
satisfied without seeing Mrs Harrel herself: John Groot, however,
wanted not his entreaties, as the servant soon returned to summons
his lady to the conference.
But though Mr Monckton now seemed near the completion of his
purpose, Morrice still remained; his vexation at this circumstance
soon grew intolerable; to see himself upon the point of receiving
the recompense of his perseverance, by the fortunate removal of all
the obstacles in its way, and then to have it held from him by a
young fellow he so much despised, and who had no entrance into the
house but through his own boldness, and no inducement to stay in it
but from his own impertinence, mortified him so insufferably, that
it was with difficulty he even forbore from affronting him. Nor
would he have scrupled a moment desiring him to leave the room, had
he not prudently determined to guard with the utmost sedulity
against raising any suspicions of his passion for Cecilia.
He arose, however, and was moving towards her, with the intention to
occupy a part of a sofa on which she was seated, when Morrice, who
was standing at the back of it, with a sudden spring which made the
whole room shake, jumpt over, and sunk plump into the vacant place
himself, calling out at the same time, "Come, come, what have you
married men to do with young ladies? I shall seize this post for
The rage of Mr Monckton at this feat, and still more at the words
_married men_, almost exceeded endurance; he stopt short, and
looking at him with a fierceness that overpowered his discretion,
was bursting out with, "Sir, you are an---_impudent fellow_,"
but checking himself when he got half way, concluded with, "a very
Morrice, who wished nothing so little as disobliging Mr Monckton,
and whose behaviour was merely the result of levity and a want of
early education, no sooner perceived his displeasure, than, rising
with yet more agility than he had seated himself, he resumed the
obsequiousness of which an uncommon flow of spirits had robbed him,
and guessing no other subject for his anger than the disturbance he
had made, he bowed almost to the ground, first to him, and
afterwards to Cecilia, most respectfully begging pardon of them both
for his frolic, and protesting he had no notion he should have made
such a noise!
Mrs Harrel and Mr Arnott, now hastening back, enquired what had been
the matter? Morrice, ashamed of his exploit, and frightened by the
looks of Mr Monckton, made an apology with the utmost humility, and
hurried away: and Mr Monckton, hopeless of any better fortune, soon
did the same, gnawn with a cruel discontent which he did not dare
avow, and longing. to revenge himself upon Morrice, even by personal
The moment Cecilia was at liberty, she sent her own servant to
examine into the real situation of the carpenter and his family, and
to desire his wife would call upon her as soon as she was at
leisure. The account which he brought back encreased her concern for
the injuries of these poor people, and determined her not to rest
satisfied till she saw them redressed. He informed her that they
lived in a small lodging up two pair of stairs; that there were five
children, all girls, the three eldest of whom were hard at work with
their mother in matting chair-bottoms, and the fourth, though a mere
child, was nursing the youngest; while the poor carpenter himself
was confined to his bed, in consequence of a fall from a ladder
while working at Violet-Bank, by which he was covered with wounds
and contusions, and an object of misery and pain.
As soon as Mrs Hill came, Cecilia sent for her into her own room,
where she received her with the most compassionate tenderness, and
desired to know when Mr Harrel talked of paying her?
"To-morrow, madam," she answered, shaking her head, "that is always
his honour's speech: but I shall bear it while I can. However,
though I dare not tell his honour, something bad will come of it, if
I am not paid soon."
"Do you mean, then, to apply to the law?"
"I must not tell you, madam; but to be sure we have thought of it
many a sad time and often; but still, while we could rub on, we
thought it best not to make enemies: but, indeed, madam, his honour
was so hardhearted this morning, that if I was not afraid you would
be angry, I could not tell how to bear it; for when I told him I had
no help now, for I had lost my Billy, he had the heart to say, 'So
much the better, there's one the less of you.'"
"But what," cried Cecilia, extremely shocked by this unfeeling
speech, "is the reason he gives for disappointing you so often?"
"He says, madam, that none of the other workmen are paid yet; and
that, to be sure, is very true; but then they can all better afford
to wait than we can, for we were the poorest of all, madam, and have
been misfortunate from the beginning: and his honour would never
have employed us, only he had run up such a bill with Mr Wright,
that he would not undertake any thing more till he was paid. We were
told from the first we should not get our money; but we were willing
to hope for the best, for we had nothing to do, and were hard run,
and had never had the offer of so good a job before; and we had a
great family to keep, and many losses, and so much illness!--Oh
madam! if you did but know what the poor go through!"
This speech opened to Cecilia a new view of life; that a young man
could appear so gay and happy, yet be guilty of such injustice and
inhumanity, that he could take pride in works which not even money
had made his own, and live with undiminished splendor, when his
credit itself began to fail, seemed to her incongruities so
irrational, that hitherto she had supposed them impossible.
She then enquired if her husband had yet had any physician?
"Yes, madam, I humbly thank your goodness," she answered; "but I am
not the poorer for that, for the gentleman was so kind he would take
"And does he give you any hopes? what does he say?"
"He says he must die, madam, but I knew that before."
"Poor woman! and what will you do then?"
"The same, madam, as I did when I lost my Billy, work on the
"Good heaven, _how severe a lot_! but tell me, why is it you
seem to love your Billy so much better than the rest of your
"Because, madam, he was the only boy that ever I had; he was
seventeen years old, madam, and as tall and as pretty a lad! and so
good, that he never cost me a wet eye till I lost him. He worked
with his father, and all the folks used to say he was the better
workman of the two."
"And what was the occasion of his death?"
"A consumption, madam, that wasted him quite to nothing: and he was
ill a long time, and cost us a deal of money, for we spared neither
for wine nor any thing that we thought would but comfort him; and we
loved him so we never grudged it. But he died, madam! and if it had
not been for very hard work, the loss of him would quite have broke
"Try, however, to think less of him," said Cecilia; "and depend upon
my speaking again for you to Mr Harrel. You shall certainly have
your money; take care, therefore, of your own health, and go home
and give comfort to your sick husband."
"Oh, madam," cried the poor woman, tears streaming down her cheeks,
"you don't know how touching it is to hear gentlefolks talk so
kindly! And I have been used to nothing but roughness from his
honour! But what I most fear, madam, is that when my husband is
gone, he will be harder to deal with than ever; for a widow, madam,
is always hard to be righted; and I don't expect to hold out long
myself, for sickness and sorrow wear fast: and then, when we are
both gone, who is to help our poor children?"
"_I_ will!" cried the generous Cecilia; "I am able, and I am
willing; you shall not find all the rich hardhearted, and I will try
to make you some amends for the unkindness you have suffered."
The poor woman, overcome by a promise so unexpected, burst into a
passionate fit of tears, and sobbed out her thanks with a violence
of emotion that frightened Cecilia almost as much as it melted her.
She endeavoured, by re-iterated assurances of assistance, to appease
her, and solemnly pledged her own honour that she should certainly
be paid the following Saturday, which was only three days distant.
Mrs Hill, when a little calmer, dried her eyes, and humbly begging
her to forgive a transport which she could not restrain, most
gratefully thanked her for the engagement into which she had
entered, protesting that she would not be _troublesome to her
goodness_ as long as she could help it; "And I believe," she
continued, "that if his honour will but pay me time enough for the
burial, I can make shift with what I have till then. But when my
poor Billy died, we were sadly off indeed, for we could not bear but
bury him prettily, because it was the last we could do for him: but
we could hardly scrape up enough for it, and yet we all went without
our dinners to help forward, except the little one of all. But that
did not much matter, for we had no great heart for eating.".
"I cannot bear this!" cried Cecilia; "you must tell me no more of
your Billy; but go home, and chear your spirits, and do every thing
in your power to save your husband."
"I will, madam," answered the woman, "and his dying prayers shall
bless you! and all my children shall bless you, and every night they
shall pray for you. And oh!"--again bursting into tears, "that Billy
was but alive to pray for you too!"
Cecilia kindly endeavoured to soothe her, but the poor creature, no
longer able to suppress the violence of her awakened sorrows, cried
out, "I must go, madam, and pray for you at home, for now I have
once begun crying again, I don't know how to have done!" and hurried
Cecilia determined to make once more an effort with Mr Harrel for
the payment of the bill, and if that, in two days, did not succeed,
to take up money for the discharge of it herself, and rest all her
security for reimbursement upon the shame with which such a
proceeding must overwhelm him. Offended, however, by the repulse she
had already received from him, and disgusted by all she had heard of
his unfeeling negligence, she knew not how to address him, and
resolved upon applying again to Mr Arnott, who was already
acquainted with the affair, for advice and assistance.
Mr Arnott, though extremely gratified that she consulted him,
betrayed by his looks a hopelessness of success, that damped all her
expectations. He promised, however, to speak to Mr Harrel upon the
subject, but the promise was evidently given to oblige the fair
mediatrix, without any hope of advantage to the cause.
The next morning Mrs Hill again came, and again without payment was
Mr Arnott then, at the request of Cecilia, followed Mr Harrel into
his room, to enquire into the reason of this breach of promise; they
continued some time together, and when he returned to Cecilia, he
told her, that his brother had assured him he would give orders to
Davison, his gentleman, to let her have the money the next day.
The pleasure with which she would have heard this intelligence was
much checked by the grave and cold manner in which it was
communicated: she waited, therefore, with more impatience than
confidence for the result of this fresh assurance.
The next morning, however, was the same as the last; Mrs Hill came,
saw Davison, and was sent away.
Cecilia, to whom she related her grievances, then flew to Mr Arnott,
and entreated him to enquire at least of Davison why the woman had
again been disappointed.
Mr Arnott obeyed her, and brought for answer, that Davison had
received no orders from his master.
"I entreat you then," cried she, with mingled eagerness and
vexation, "to go, for the last time, to Mr Harrel. I am sorry to
impose upon you an office so disagreeable, but I am sure you
compassionate these poor people, and will serve them now with your
interest, as you have already done with your purse. I only wish to
know if there has been any mistake, or if these delays are merely to
sicken me of petitioning."
Mr Arnott, with a repugnance to the request which he could as ill
conceal as his admiration of the zealous requester, again forced
himself to follow Mr Harrel. His stay was not long, and Cecilia at
his return perceived that he was hurt and disconcerted. As soon as
they were alone together, she begged to know what had passed?
"Nothing," answered he, "that will give you any pleasure. When I
entreated my brother to come to the point, he said it was his
intention to pay all his workmen together, for that if he paid any
one singly, all the rest would be dissatisfied."
"And why," said Cecilia, "should he not pay them at once? There can
be no more comparison in the value of the money to him and to them,
than, to speak with truth, there is in his and in their right to
"But, madam, the bills for the new house itself are none of them
settled, and he says that the moment he is known to discharge an
account for the Temple, he shall not have any rest for the clamours
it will raise among the workmen who were employed about the house."
"How infinitely strange!" exclaimed Cecilia; "will he not, then, pay
"Next quarter, he says, he shall pay them all, but, at present, he
has a particular call for his money."
Cecilia would not trust herself to make any comments upon such an
avowal, but thanking Mr Arnott for the trouble which he had taken,
she determined, without any further application, to desire Mr Harrel
to advance her 20 pounds the next morning, and satisfy the carpenter
herself, be the risk what it might.
The following day, therefore, which was the Saturday when payment
was promised, she begged an audience of Mr Harrel; which he
immediately granted; but, before she could make her demand, he said
to her, with an air of the utmost gaiety and good-humour, "Well,
Miss Beverley, how fares it with your _protegee_? I hope, at
length, she is contented. But I must beg you would charge her to
keep her own counsel, as otherwise she will draw me into a scrape I
shall not thank her for."
"Have you, then, paid her?" cried Cecilia, with much amazement.
"Yes; I promised you I would, you know."
This intelligence equally delighted and astonished her; she
repeatedly thanked him for his attention to her petition, and, eager
to communicate her success to Mr Arnott, she hastened to find him.
"Now," cried she, "I shall torment you no more with painful
commissions; the Hills, at last, are paid!"
"From you, madam," answered he gravely, "no commissions could be
"Well, but," said Cecilia, somewhat disappointed, "you don't seem
glad of this?"
"Yes," answered he, with a forced smile, "I am very glad to see you
"But how was it brought about? did Mr Harrel relent? or did you
attack him again?"
The hesitation of his answer convinced her there was some mystery in
the transaction; she began to apprehend she had been deceived, and
hastily quitting the room, sent for Mrs Hill: but the moment the
poor woman appeared, she was satisfied of the contrary, for, almost
frantic with joy and gratitude, she immediately flung herself upon
her knees, to thank her benefactress for having _seen her
Cecilia then gave her some general advice, promised to continue her
friend, and offered her assistance in getting her husband into an
hospital; but she told her he had already been in one many months,
where he had been pronounced incurable, and therefore was desirous
to spend his last days in his own lodgings.
"Well," said Cecilia, "make them as easy to him as you, can, and
come to me next week, and I will try to put you in a better way of
She then, still greatly perplexed about Mr Arnott, sought him again,
and, after various questions and conjectures, at length brought him
to confess he had himself lent his brother the sum with which the
Hills had been paid.
Struck with his generosity, she poured forth thanks and praises so
grateful to his ears, that she soon gave him a recompense which he
would have thought cheaply purchased by half his fortune.
A MAN OF WEALTH
The meanness with which Mr Harrel had assumed the credit, as well as
accepted the assistance of Mr Arnott, increased the disgust he had
already excited in Cecilia, and hastened her resolution of quitting
his house; and therefore, without waiting any longer for the advice
of Mr Monckton, she resolved to go instantly to her other guardians,
and see what better prospects their habitations might offer.
For this purpose she borrowed one of the carriages, and gave orders
to be driven into the city to the house of Mr Briggs.
She told her name, and was shewn, by a little shabby footboy, into a
Here she waited, with tolerable patience, for half an hour, but
then, imagining the boy had forgotten to tell his master she was in
the house, she thought it expedient to make some enquiry.
No bell, however, could she find, and therefore she went into the
passage in search of the footboy; but, as she was proceeding to the
head of the kitchen stairs, she was startled by hearing a man's
voice from the upper part of the house exclaiming, in a furious
passion, "Dare say you've filched it for a dish-clout!"
She called out, however, "Are any of Mr Briggs's servants below?"
"Anan!" answered the boy, who came to the foot of the stairs, with a
knife in one hand and an old shoe, upon the sole of which he was
sharpening it, in the other, "Does any one call?"
"Yes," said Cecilia, "I do; for I could not find the bell."
"O, we have no bell in the parlour," returned the boy, "master
always knocks with his stick."
"I am afraid Mr Briggs is too busy to see me, and if so, I will come
"No, ma'am," said the boy, "master's only looking over his things
from the wash."
"Will you tell him, then, that I am waiting?"
"I has, ma'am; but master misses his shaving-rag, and he says he
won't come to the Mogul till he's found it." And then he went on
with sharpening his knife.
This little circumstance was at least sufficient to satisfy Cecilia
that if she fixed her abode with Mr Briggs, she should not have much
uneasiness to fear from the sight of extravagance and profusion.
She returned to the parlour, and after waiting another half-hour, Mr
Briggs made his appearance.
Mr Briggs was a short, thick, sturdy man, with very small keen black
eyes, a square face, a dark complexion, and a snub nose. His
constant dress, both in winter and summer, was a snuff-colour suit
of clothes, blue and white speckled worsted stockings, a plain
shirt, and a bob wig. He was seldom without a stick in his hand,
which he usually held to his forehead when not speaking.
This bob wig, however, to the no small amazement of Cecilia, he now
brought into the room upon the forefinger of his left hand, while,
with his right, he was smoothing the curls; and his head, in
defiance of the coldness of the weather, was bald and uncovered.
"Well," cried he, as he entered, "did you think I should not come?"
"I was very willing, sir, to wait your leisure."
"Ay, ay, knew you had not much to do. Been looking for my shaving-
rag. Going out of town; never use such a thing at home, paper does
as well. Warrant Master Harrel never heard of such a thing; ever see
him comb his own wig? Warrant he don't know how! never trust mine
out of my hands, the boy would tear off half the hair; all one to
master Harrel, I suppose. Well, which is the warmer man, that's all?
Will he cast an account with me?"
Cecilia, at a loss what to say to this singular exordium, began an
apology for not waiting upon him sooner.
"Ay, ay," cried he, "always gadding, no getting sight of you. Live a
fine life! A pretty guardian, Master Harrel! and where's t'other?
where's old Don Puffabout?"
"If you mean Mr Delvile, sir, I have not yet seen him."
"Thought so. No matter, as well not. Only tell you he's a German
Duke, or a Spanish Don Ferdinand. Well, you've me! poorly off else.
A couple of ignoramuses! don't know when to buy nor when to sell. No
doing business with either of them. We met once or twice; all to no
purpose; only heard Don Vampus count his old Grandees; how will that
get interest for money? Then comes Master Harrel--twenty bows to a
word,--looks at a watch,--about as big as a sixpence,--poor raw
ninny!--a couple of rare guardians! Well, you've me, I say; mind
Cecilia was wholly unable to devise any answer to these effusions of
contempt and anger; and therefore his harangue lasted without
interruption, till he had exhausted all his subjects of complaint,
and emptied his mind of ill-will; and then, settling his wig, he
drew a chair near her, and twinkling his little black eyes in her
face, his rage subsided into the most perfect good humour; and,
after peering at her some time with a look of much approbation, he
said, with an arch nod, "Well, my duck, got ever a sweetheart yet?"
Cecilia laughed, and said "No."
"Ah, little rogue, don't believe you! all a fib! better speak out:
come, fit I should know; a'n't you my own ward? to be sure, almost
of age, but not quite, so what's that to me?"
She then, more seriously, assured him she had no intelligence of
that sort to communicate.
"Well, when you have, tell, that's all. Warrant sparks enough
hankering. I'll give you some advice Take care of sharpers; don't
trust shoe-buckles, nothing but Bristol stones! tricks in all
things. A fine gentleman sharp as another man. Never give your heart
to a gold-topped cane, nothing but brass gilt over. Cheats
everywhere: fleece you in a year; won't leave you a groat. But one
way to be safe,--bring 'em all to me."
Cecilia thanked him for his caution, and promised not to forget his
"That's the way," he continued, "bring 'em to me. Won't be
bamboozled. Know their tricks. Shew 'em the odds on't. Ask for the
rent-roll,--see how they look! stare like stuck pigs! got no such
"Certainly, sir, that will be an excellent method of trial."
"Ay, ay, know the way! soon find if they are above par. Be sure
don't mind gold waistcoats; nothing but tinsel, all shew and no
substance; better leave the matter to me; take care of you myself;
know where to find one will do."
She again thanked him; and, being fully satisfied with this specimen
of his conversation, and unambitious of any further counsel from
him, she arose to depart.
"Well," repeated he, nodding at her, with a look of much kindness,
"leave it to me, I say; I'll get you a careful husband, so take no
thought about the matter."
Cecilia, half-laughing, begged he would not give himself much
trouble, and assured him she was not in any haste.
"All the better," said he, "good girl; no fear for you: look out
myself; warrant I'll find one. Not very easy, neither! hard times!
men scarce; wars and tumults! stocks low! women chargeable!--but
don't fear; do our best; get you off soon."
She then returned to her carriage: full of reflection upon the scene
in which she had just been engaged, and upon the strangeness of
hastening from one house to avoid a vice the very want of which
seemed to render another insupportable! but she now found that
though luxury was more baneful in its consequences, it was less
disgustful in its progress than avarice; yet, insuperably averse to
both, and almost equally desirous to fly from the unjust
extravagance of Mr Harrel, as from the comfortless and unnecessary
parsimony of Mr Briggs, she proceeded instantly to St James's
Square, convinced that her third guardian, unless exactly resembling
one of the others, must inevitably be preferable to both.
A MAN OF FAMILY.
The house of Mr Delvile was grand and spacious, fitted up not with
modern taste, but with the magnificence of former times; the
servants were all veterans, gorgeous in their liveries, and
profoundly respectful in their manners; every thing had an air of
state, but of a state so gloomy, that while it inspired awe, it
Cecilia sent in her name and was admitted without difficulty, and
was then ushered with great pomp through sundry apartments, and rows
of servants, before she came into the presence of Mr Delvile.
He received her with an air of haughty affability which, to a spirit
open and liberal as that of Cecilia, could not fail being extremely
offensive; but too much occupied with the care of his own importance
to penetrate into the feelings of another, he attributed the
uneasiness which his reception occasioned to the overawing
predominance of superior rank and consequence.
He ordered a servant to bring her a chair, while he only half rose
from his own upon her entering into the room; then, waving his hand
and bowing, with a motion that desired her to be seated, he said, "I
am very happy, Miss Beverley, that you have found me alone; you
would rarely have had the same good fortune. At this time of day I
am generally in a crowd. People of large connections have not much
leisure in London, especially if they see a little after their own
affairs, and if their estates, like mine, are dispersed in various
parts of the kingdom. However, I am glad it happened so. And I am
glad, too, that you have done me the favour of calling without
waiting till I sent, which I really would have done as soon as I
heard of your arrival, but that the multiplicity of my engagements
allowed me no respite."
A display of importance so ostentatious made Cecilia already half
repent her visit, satisfied that the hope in which she had planned
it would be fruitless.
Mr Delvile, still imputing to embarrassment, an inquietude of
countenance that proceeded merely from disappointment, imagined her
veneration was every moment increasing; and therefore, pitying a
timidity which both gratified and softened him, and equally pleased
with himself for inspiring, and with her for feeling it, he abated
more and more of his greatness, till he became, at length, so
infinitely condescending, with intention to give her courage, that
he totally depressed her with mortification and chagrin.
After some general inquiries concerning her way of life, he told her
that he hoped she was contented with her situation at the Harrels,
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