Cecilia vol. 3
Frances (Fanny) Burney (Madame d'Arblay)
Part 6 out of 7
hesitated not in her plan of going abroad, as she knew not where to be
in England, and could not endure to hurry Delvile from his sick mother,
by acquainting him with her helpless and distressed situation. But so
revived were her spirits by these unexpected tidings, that a gleam of
brightest hope once more danced before her eyes, and she felt herself
invigorated with fresh courage and new strength, sufficient to support
her through all hardships and fatigues.
Spirits and courage were indeed much wanted for the enterprize she had
formed; but little used to travelling, and having never been out of
England, she knew nothing of the route but by a general knowledge of
geography, which, though it could guide her east or west, could teach
her nothing of foreign customs, the preparations necessary for the
journey, the impositions she should guard against, nor the various
dangers to which she might be exposed, from total ignorance of the
country through which she had to pass.
Conscious of these deficiencies for such an undertaking, she
deliberated without intermission how to obviate them. Yet sometimes,
when to these hazards, those arising from her youth and sex were added,
she was upon the point of relinquishing her scheme, as too perilous for
execution, and resolving to continue privately in London till some
change happened in her affairs.
But though to every thing she could suggest, doubts and difficulties
arose, she had no friend to consult, nor could devise any means by
which they might be terminated. Her maid was her only companion, and
Ralph, who had spent almost his whole life in Suffolk, her only guard
and attendant. To hire immediately some French servant, used to
travelling in his own country, seemed the first step she had to take,
and so essential, that no other appeared feasible till it was done. But
where to hear of such a man she could not tell, and to take one not
well recommended, would be exposing herself to frauds and dangers
Yet so slow as Delvile travelled, from whom her last letter was still
dated Ostend, she thought herself almost certain, could she once reach
the continent, of overtaking him in his route within a day or two of
The earnest inclination with which this scheme was seconded, made her
every moment less willing to forego it. It seemed the only harbour for
her after the storm she had weathered, and the only refuge she could
properly seek while thus houseless and helpless. Even were Delvile in
England, he had no place at present to offer her, nor could any thing
be proposed so unexceptionable as her living with Mrs Delvile at Nice,
till he knew his father's pleasure, and, in a separate journey home,
had arranged his affairs either for her return, or her continuance
With what regret did she now look back to the time when, in a distress
such as this, she should have applied for, and received the advice of
Mr Monckton as oracular! The loss of a counsellor so long, so
implicitly relied upon, lost to her also, only by his own interested
worthlessness, she felt almost daily, for almost daily some intricacy
or embarrassment made her miss his assistance: and though glad, since
she found him so undeserving, that she had escaped the snares he had
spread for her, she grieved much that she knew no man of honest
character and equal abilities, that would care for her sufficiently to
supply his place in her confidence.
As she was situated at present, she could think only of Mr Belfield to
whom she could apply for any advice. Nor even to him was the
application unexceptionable, the calumnies of Mr Delvile senior making
it disagreeable to her even to see him. But he was at once a man of the
world and a man of honour; he was the friend of Mortimer, whose
confidence in him was great, and his own behaviour had uniformly shewn
a respect far removed from impertinence or vanity, and a mind superior
to being led to them by the influence of his gross mother. She had,
indeed, when she last quitted his house, determined never to re-enter
it; but determinations hasty or violent, are rarely observed, because
rarely practicable; she had promised Henrietta to inform Mrs Belfield
whither she was gone, and reconcile her to the absence she still hoped
to make from home. She concluded, therefore, to go to Portland-street
without delay, and enquire openly and at once whether, and when, she
might speak with Mr Belfield; resolving, if tormented again by any
forward insinuations, to rectify all mistakes by acknowledging her
She gave directions accordingly to the post-boy and Ralph.
With respect to her own lodgings while in town, as money was no longer
unimportant to her, she meant from the Belfields to go to the Hills, by
whom she might be recommended to some reputable and cheap place. To the
Belfields, however, though very late when she arrived in town, she went
first, unwilling to lose a moment in promoting her scheme of going
She left her maid in the chaise, and sent Ralph on to Mrs Hill, with
directions to endeavour immediately to procure her a lodging.
Cecilia was shewn into a parlour, where Mrs Belfield was very earnestly
discoursing with Mr Hobson and Mr Simkins; and Belfield himself, to her
great satisfaction, was already there, and reading.
"Lack a-day!" cried Mrs Belfield, "if one does not always see the
people one's talking of! Why it was but this morning, madam, I was
saying to Mr Hobson, I wonder, says I, a young lady of such fortunes as
Miss Beverley should mope herself up so in the country! Don't you
remember it, Mr Hobson?"
"Yes, madam," answered Mr Hobson, "but I think, for my part, the young
lady's quite in the right to do as she's a mind; for that's what I call
living agreeable: and if I was a young lady to-morrow, with such fine
fortunes, and that, it's just what I should do myself: for what I say
is this: where's the joy of having a little money, and being a little
matter above the world, if one has not one's own will?"
"Ma'am," said Mr Simkins, who had scarce yet raised his head from the
profoundness of his bow upon Cecilia's entrance into the room, "if I
may be so free, may I make bold just for to offer you this chair?"
"I called, madam," said Cecilia, seizing the first moment in her power
to speak, "in order to acquaint you that your daughter, who is
perfectly well, has made a little change in her situation, which she
was anxious you should hear from myself."
"Ha! ha! stolen a match upon you, I warrant!" cried the facetious Mr
Hobson; "a good example for you, young lady; and if you take my advice,
you won't be long before you follow it; for as to a lady, let her be
worth never so much, she's a mere nobody, as one may say, till she can
get herself a husband, being she knows nothing of business, and is made
to pay for every thing through the nose."
"Fie, Mr Hobson, fie!" said Mr Simkins, "to talk so slighting of the
ladies before their faces! what one says in a corner, is quite of
another nature; but for to talk so rude in their company,--I thought
you would scorn to do such a thing."
"Sir, I don't want to be rude no more than yourself," said Mr Hobson,
"for what I say is, rudeness is a thing that makes nobody agreeable;
but I don't see because of that, why a man is not to speak his mind to
a lady as well as to a gentleman, provided he does it in a complaisant
"Mr Hobson," cried Mrs Belfield, very impatiently, "you might as well
let _me_ speak, when the matter is all about my own daughter."
"I ask pardon, ma'am," said he, "I did not mean to stop you; for as to
not letting a lady speak, one might as well tell a man in business not
to look at the Daily Advertiser; why, it's morally impossible!"
"But sure, madam," cried Mrs Belfield, "it's no such thing? You can't
have got her off already?"
"I would I had!" thought Cecilia; who then explained her meaning; but
in talking of Mrs Harrel, avoided all mention of Mr Arnott, well
foreseeing that to hear such a man existed, and was in the same house
with her daughter, would be sufficient authority to her sanguine
expectations, for depending upon a union between them, and reporting it
among her friends, his circumstance being made clear, Cecilia added, "I
could by no means have consented voluntarily to parting so soon with
Miss Belfield, but that my own affairs call me at present out of the
kingdom." And then, addressing herself to Belfield, she enquired if he
could recommend to her a trusty foreign servant, who would be hired
only for the time she was to spend abroad?
While Belfield was endeavouring to recollect some such person, Mr
Hobson eagerly called out "As to going abroad, madam, to be sure you're
to do as you like, for that, as I say, is the soul of every thing; but
else I can't say it's a thing I much approve; for my notion is this:
here's a fine fortune, got as a man may say, out of the bowels of one's
mother country, and this fine fortune, in default of male issue, is
obliged to come to a female, the law making no proviso to the contrary.
Well, this female, going into a strange country, naturally takes with
her this fortune, by reason it's the main article she has to depend
upon; what's the upshot? why she gets pilfered by a set of sharpers
that never saw England in their lives, and that never lose sight of her
till she has not a sous in the world. But the hardship of the thing is
this: when it's all gone, the lady can come back, but will the money
come back?--No, you'll never see it again: now this is what I call
being no true patriot."
"I am quite ashamed for to hear you talk so, Mr Hobson!" cried Mr
Simkins, affecting to whisper; "to go for to take a person to task at
this rate, is behaving quite unbearable; it's enough to make the young
lady afraid to speak before you."
"Why, Mr Simkins," answered Mr Hobson, "truth is truth, whether one
speaks it or not; and that, ma'am, I dare say, a young lady of your
good sense knows as well as myself."
"I think, madam," said Belfield, who waited their silence with great
impatience, "that I know just such a man as you will require, and one
upon whose honesty I believe you may rely."
"That's more," said Mr Hobson, "than I would take upon me to say for
any _Englishman_! where you may meet with such a _Frenchman_, I won't
be bold to say."
"Why indeed," said Mr Simkins, "if I might take the liberty for to put
in, though I don't mean in no shape to go to contradicting the young
gentleman, but if I was to make bold to speak my private opinion upon
the head, I should be inclinable for to say, that as to putting a
dependance upon the French, it's a thing quite dubious how it may turn
"I take it as a great favour, ma'am," said Mrs Belfield, "that you have
been so complaisant as to make me this visit to-night, for I was almost
afraid you would not have done me the favour any more; for, to be sure,
when you was here last, things went a little unlucky: but I had no
notion, for my part, who the old gentleman was till after he was gone,
when Mr Hobson told me it was old Mr Delvile: though, sure enough, I
thought it rather upon the extraordinary order, that he should come
here into my parlour, and make such a secret of his name, on purpose to
ask me questions about my own son."
"Why I think, indeed, if I may be so free," said Mr Simkins, "it was
rather petickeler of the gentleman; for, to be sure, if he was so over
curious to hear about your private concerns, the genteel thing, if I
may take the liberty for to differ, would have been for him to say,
ma'am, says he, I'm come to ask the favour of you just to let me a
little into your son's goings on; and any thing, ma'am, you should take
a fancy for to ask me upon the return, why I shall be very compliable,
ma'am, says he, to giving of you satisfaction."
"I dare say," answered Mrs Belfield, "he would not have said so much if
you'd have gone down on your knees to ask him. Why he was upon the very
point of being quite in a passion because I only asked him his name!
though what harm that could do him, I'm sure I never could guess.
However, as he was so mighty inquisitive about my son, if I had but
known who he was in time, I should have made no scruple in the world to
ask him if he could not have spoke a few words for him to some of those
great people that could have done him some good. But the thing that I
believe put him so out of humour, was my being so unlucky as to say,
before ever I knew who he was, that I had heard he was not over and
above good-natured; for I saw he did not seem much to like it at the
"If he had done the generous thing," said Mr Simkins, "it would have
been for him to have made the proffer of his services of his own free-
will; and it's rather surpriseable to me he should never have thought
of it; for what could be so natural as for him to say, I see, ma'am,
says he, you've got a very likely young gentleman here, that's a little
out of cash, says he, so I suppose, ma'am, says he, a place, or a
pension, or something in that shape of life, would be no bad
compliment, says he."
"But no such good luck as that will come to my share," cried Mrs
Belfield, "I can tell you that, for every thing I want to do goes quite
contrary. Who would not have thought such a son as mine, though I say
it before his face, could not have made his fortune long ago, living as
he did, among all the great folks, and dining at their table just like
one of themselves? yet, for all that, you see they let him go on his
own way, and think of him no more than of nobody! I'm sure they might
be ashamed to shew their faces, and so I should tell them at once, if I
could but get sight of them."
"I don't mean, ma'am," said Mr Simkins, "for to be finding fault with
what you say, for I would not be unpelite in no shape; but if I might
be so free as for to differ a little bit, I must needs say I am rather
for going to work in anotherguess sort of a manner; and if I was as
"Mr Simkins," interrupted Belfield, "we will settle this matter another
time." And then, turning to the wearied Cecilia, "The man, madam," he
said, "whom I have done myself the honour to recommend to you, I can
see to-morrow morning; may I then tell him to wait upon you?"
"I ask pardon for just putting in," cried Mr Simkins, before Cecilia
could answer, and again bowing down to the ground, "but I only mean to
say I had no thought for to be impertinent, for as to what I was agoing
to remark, is was not of no consequence in the least."
"Its a great piece of luck, ma'am," said Mrs Belfield, "that you should
happen to come here, of a holiday! If my son had not been at home, I
should have been ready to cry for a week: and you might come any day
the year through but a Sunday, and not meet with him any more than if
he had never a home to come to."
"If Mr Belfield's home-visits are so periodical," said Cecilia, "it
must be rather less, than more, difficult to meet with him."
"Why you know, ma'am," answered Mrs Belfield, "to-day is a red-letter
day, so that's the reason of it."
"A red-letter day?"
"Good lack, madam, why have not you heard that my son is turned book-
Cecilia, much surprised, looked at Belfield, who, colouring very high,
and apparently much provoked by his mother's loquacity, said, "Had Miss
Beverley not heard it even now, madam, I should probably have lost with
her no credit."
"You can surely lose none, Sir," answered Cecilia, "by an employment
too little pleasant to have been undertaken from any but the most
"It is not, madam, the employment," said he, "for which I so much blush
as for the person employed--for _myself_! In the beginning of the
winter you left me just engaged in another business, a business with
which I was madly delighted, and fully persuaded I should be enchanted
for ever;--now, again, in the beginning of the summer,--you find me,
already, in a new occupation!"
"I am sorry," said Cecilia, "but far indeed from surprised, that you
found yourself deceived by such sanguine expectations."
"Deceived!" cried he, with energy, "I was bewitched, I was infatuated!
common sense was estranged by the seduction of a chimera; my
understanding was in a ferment from the ebullition of my imagination!
But when this new way of life lost its novelty,--novelty! that short-
liv'd, but exquisite bliss! no sooner caught than it vanishes, no
sooner tasted than it is gone! which charms but to fly, and comes but
to destroy what it leaves behind!--when that was lost, reason, cool,
heartless reason, took its place, and teaching me to wonder at the
frenzy of my folly, brought me back to the tameness--the sadness of
"I am sure," cried Mrs Belfield, "whatever it has brought you back to,
it has brought you back to no good! it's a hard case, you must needs
think, madam, to a mother, to see a son that might do whatever he
would, if he'd only set about it, contenting himself with doing nothing
but scribble and scribe one day, and when he gets tired of that,
thinking of nothing better than casting up two and two!"
"Why, madam," said Mr Hobson, "what I have seen of the world is this;
there's nothing methodizes a man but business. If he's never so much
upon the stilts, that's always a sure way to bring him down, by reason
he soon finds there's nothing to be got by rhodomontading. Let every
man be his own carver; but what I say is, them gentlemen that are what
one may call geniuses, commonly think nothing of the main chance, till
they get a tap on the shoulder with a writ; and a solid lad, that knows
three times five is fifteen, will get the better of them in the long
run. But as to arguing with gentlemen of that sort, where's the good of
it? You can never bring them to the point, say what you will; all you
can get from them, is a farrago of fine words, that you can't
understand without a dictionary."
"I am inclinable to think," said Mr Simkins, "that the young gentleman
is rather of opinion to like pleasure better than business; and, to be
sure, it's very excusable of him, because it's more agreeabler. And I
must needs say, if I may be so free, I'm partly of the young
gentleman's mind, for business is a deal more trouble."
"I hope, however," said Cecilia to Belfield, "your present situation is
less irksome to you?"
"Any situation, madam, must be less irksome than that which I quitted:
to write by rule, to compose by necessity, to make the understanding,
nature's first gift, subservient to interest, that meanest offspring of
art!--when weary, listless, spiritless, to rack the head for invention,
the memory for images, and the fancy for ornament and illusion; and
when the mind is wholly occupied by its own affections and affairs, to
call forth all its faculties for foreign subjects, uninteresting
discussions, or fictitious incidents!--Heavens! what a life of struggle
between the head and the heart! how cruel, how unnatural a war between
the intellects and the feelings!"
"As to these sort of things," said Mr Hobson, "I can't say I am much
versed in them, by reason they are things I never much studied; but if
I was to speak my notion, it is this; the best way to thrive in the
world is to get money; but how is it to be got? Why by business: for
business is to money, what fine words are to a lady, a sure road to
success. Now I don't mean by this to be censorious upon the ladies,
being they have nothing else to go by, for as to examining if a man
knows any thing of the world, and that, they have nothing whereby to
judge, knowing nothing of it themselves. So that when they are taken in
by rogues and sharpers, the fault is all in the law, for making no
proviso against their having money in their own hands. Let every one be
trusted according to their headpiece and what I say is this: a lady in
them cases is much to be pitied, for she is obligated to take a man
upon his own credit, which is tantamount to no credit at all, being
what man will speak an ill word of himself? you may as well expect a
bad shilling to cry out don't take me! That's what I say, and that's my
way of giving my vote."
Cecilia, quite tired of these interruptions, and impatient to be gone,
now said to Belfield, "I should be much obliged to you, Sir, if you
could send to me the man you speak of tomorrow morning. I wished, also
to consult you with regard to the route I ought to take. My purpose is
to go to Nice, and as I am very desirous to travel expeditiously, you
may perhaps be able to instruct me what is the best method for me to
"Come, Mr Hobson and Mr Simkins," cried Mrs Belfield, with a look of
much significance and delight, "suppose you two and I was to walk into
the next room? There's no need for us to hear all the young lady may
have a mind to say."
"She has nothing to say, madam," cried Cecilia, "that the whole world
may not hear. Neither is it my purpose to talk, but to listen, if Mr
Belfield is at leisure to favour me with his advice."
"I must always be at leisure, and always be proud, madam," Belfield
began, when Hobson, interrupting him, said, "I ask pardon, Sir, for
intruding, but I only mean to wish the young lady good night. As to
interfering with business, that's not my way, for it's not the right
method, by reason--"
"We will listen to your reason, Sir," cried Belfield, "some other time;
at present we will give you all credit for it unheard."
"Let every man speak his own maxim, Sir," cried Hobson; "for that's
what I call fair arguing: but as to one person's speaking, and then
making an answer for another into the bargain, why it's going to work
no-how; you may as well talk to a counter, and think because you make a
noise upon it with your own hand, it gives you the reply."
"Why, Mr Hobson," cried Mrs Belfield, "I am quite ashamed of you for
being so dull! don't you see my son has something to say to the lady
that you and I have no business to be meddling with?"
"I'm sure, ma'am, for my part," said Mr Simkins, "I'm very agreeable to
going away, for as to putting the young lady to the blush, it's what I
would not do in no shape."
"I only mean," said Mr Hobson, when he was interrupted by Mrs Belfield,
who, out of all patience, now turned him out of the room by the
shoulders, and, pulling Mr Simkins after, followed herself, and shut
the door, though Cecilia, much provoked, desired she would stay, and
declared repeatedly that all her business was public.
Belfield, who had, looked ready to murder them all during this short
scene, now approached Cecilia, and with an air of mingled spirit and
respect, said, "I am much grieved, much confounded, madam, that your
ears should be offended by speeches so improper to reach them; yet if
it is possible I can have the honour of being of any use to you, in me,
still, I hope, you feel you may confide. I am too distant from you in
situation to give you reason to apprehend I can form any sinister views
in serving you; and, permit me to add, I am too near you in mind, ever
to give you the pain of bidding me remember that distance."
Cecilia then, extremely unwilling to shock a sensibility not more
generous than jealous, determined to continue her enquiries, and, at
the same time, to prevent any further misapprehension, by revealing her
"I am sorry, Sir," she answered, "to have occasioned this disturbance;
Mrs Belfield, I find, is wholly unacquainted with the circumstance
which now carries me abroad, or it would not have happened."
Here a little noise in the passage interrupting her, she heard Mrs
Belfield, though in a low voice, say, "Hush, Sir, hush! you must not
come in just now; you've caught me, I confess, rather upon the
listening order; but to tell you the truth, I did not know what might
be going forward. However, there's no admittance now, I assure you, for
my son's upon particular business with a lady, and Mr Hobson and Mr
Simkins and I, have all been as good as turned out by them but just
Cecilia and Belfield, though they heard this speech with mutual
indignation, had no time to mark or express it, as it was answered
without in a voice at once loud and furious, "_You_, madam, may be
content to listen here; pardon me if I am less humbly disposed!" And
the door was abruptly opened by young Delvile!
Cecilia, who half screamed from excess of astonishment, would scarcely,
even by the presence of Belfield and his mother, have been restrained
from flying to meet him, had his own aspect invited such a mark of
tenderness; but far other was the case; when the door was open, he
stopt short with a look half petrified, his feet seeming rooted to the
spot upon which they stood.
"I declare I ask pardon, ma'am," cried Mrs Belfield, "but the
interruption was no fault of mine, for the gentleman would come in;
"It is no interruption, madam;" cried Belfield, "Mr Delvile does me
nothing but honour."
"I thank you, Sir!" said Delvile, trying to recover and come forward,
but trembling violently, and speaking with the most frigid coldness.
They were then, for a few instants, all silent; Cecilia, amazed by his
arrival, still more amazed by his behaviour, feared to speak lest he
meant not, as yet, to avow his marriage, and felt a thousand
apprehensions that some new calamity had hurried him home: while
Belfield was both hurt by his strangeness, and embarrassed for the sake
of Cecilia; and his mother, though wondering at them all, was kept
quiet by her son's looks.
Delvile then, struggling for an appearance of more ease, said, "I seem
to have made a general confusion here:--pray, I beg"--
"None at all, Sir," said Belfield, and offered a chair to Cecilia.
"No, Sir," she answered, in a voice scarce audible, "I was just going."
And again rang the bell.
"I fear I hurry you, madam?" cried Delvile, whose whole frame was now
shaking with uncontrollable emotion; "you are upon business--I ought to
beg your pardon--my entrance, I believe, was unseasonable."--
"Sir!" cried she, looking aghast at this speech.
"I should have been rather surprised," he added, "to have met you here,
so late,--so unexpectedly,--so deeply engaged--had I not happened to
see your servant in the street, who told me the honour I should be
likely to have by coming."
"Good God!--" exclaimed she, involuntarily; but, checking herself as
well as she could, she courtsied to Mrs Belfield, unable to speak to
her, and avoiding even to look at Belfield, who respectfully hung back,
she hastened out of the room: accompanied by Mrs Belfield, who again
began the most voluble and vulgar apologies for the intrusion she had
Delvile also, after a moment's pause, followed, saying, "Give me leave,
madam, to see you to your carriage."
Cecilia then, notwithstanding Mrs Belfield still kept talking, could no
longer refrain saying, "Good heaven, what does all this mean?"
"Rather for _me_ is that question," he answered, in such agitation he
could not, though he meant it, assist her into the chaise, "for mine, I
believe, is the greater surprise!"
"What surprise?" cried she, "explain, I conjure you!"
"By and bye I will," he answered; "go on postilion."
"Where you came from, I suppose."
"What, Sir, back to Rumford?"
"Rumford!" exclaimed he, with encreasing disorder, "you came then from
Suffolk hither?--from Suffolk to this very house?"
"Good heaven!" cried Cecilia, "come into the chaise, and let me speak
and hear to be understood!"
"Who is that now in it?"
"Your maid?--and she waits for you thus at the door?"--
"What, what is it you mean?"
"Tell the man, madam, whither to go."
"I don't know myself--any where you please--do you order him."
"I order him!--you came not hither to receive orders from _me_!--where
was it you had purposed to rest?"
"I don't know--I meant to go to Mrs Hill's--I have no place taken."--
"No place taken!" repeated he, in a voice faultering between passion
and grief; "you purposed, then, to stay here?--I have perhaps driven
"Here!" cried Cecilia, mingling, in her turn, indignation with
surprise, "gracious heaven! what is it you mean to doubt?"
"Nothing!" cried he, with emphasis, "I never have had, I never _will_
have a doubt! I will know, I will have _conviction_ for every thing!
Postilion, drive to St James's-square!--to Mr Delvile's. There, madam,
I will wait upon you."
"No! stay, postilion!" called out Cecilia, seized with terror
inexpressible; "let me get out, let me speak with you at once!"
"It cannot be; I will follow you in a few minutes--drive on,
"No, no!--I will not go--I dare not leave you--unkind Delvile!--what is
it you suspect."
"Cecilia," cried he, putting his hand upon the chaise-door, "I have
ever believed you spotless as an angel! and, by heaven! I believe you
so still, in spite of appearances--in defiance of every thing!--Now
then be satisfied;--I will be with you very soon. Meanwhile, take this
letter, I was just going to send to you.--Postilion, drive on, or be at
The man waited no further orders, nor regarded the prohibition of
Cecilia, who called out to him without ceasing; but he would not listen
to her till he got to the end of the street; he then stopt, and she
broke the seal of her letter, and read, by the light of the lamps,
enough to let her know that Delvile had written it upon the road from
Dover to London, to acquaint her his mother was now better, and had
taken pity of his suspense and impatience, and insisted upon his coming
privately to England, to satisfy himself fully about Mr Monckton,
communicate his marriage to his father, and give those orders towards
preparing for its being made public, which his unhappy precipitation in
leaving the kingdom had prevented.
This letter, which, though written but a few hours before she received
it, was full of tenderness, gratitude and anxiety for her happiness,
instantly convinced her that his strange behaviour had been wholly the
effect of a sudden impulse of jealousy; excited by so unexpectedly
finding her in town, at the very house where his father had assured him
she had an improper connexion, and alone, so suspiciously, with the
young man affirmed to be her favourite. He knew nothing of the
ejectment, nothing of any reason for her leaving Suffolk, every thing
had the semblance of no motive but to indulge a private and criminal
These thoughts, which confusedly, yet forcibly, rushed upon her mind,
brought with them at once an excuse for his conduct, and an alarm for
his danger; "He must think," she cried, "I came to town only to meet Mr
Belfield!" then, opening the chaise-door herself, she jumpt out, and
ran back into Portland-street, too impatient to argue with the
postilion to return with her, and stopt not till she came to Mrs
She knocked at the door with violence; Mrs Belfield came to it herself;
"Where," cried she, hastily entering as she spoke, "are the gentlemen?"
"Lack-a-day! ma'am," answered Mrs Belfield, "they are both gone out."
"Gone out?--where to?--which way?"
"I am sure I can't tell, ma'am, no more than you can; but I am sadly
afraid they'll have a quarrel before they've done."
"Oh heaven!" cried Cecilia, who now doubted not a second duel, "tell
me, shew me, which way they went?"
"Why, ma'am, to let you into the secret," answered Mrs Belfield, "only
I beg you'll take no notice of it to my son, but, seeing them so much
out of sorts, I begged the favour of Mr Simkins, as Mr Hobson was gone
out to his club, just to follow them, and see what they were after."
Cecilia was much rejoiced this caution had been taken, and determined
to wait his return. She would have sent for the chaise to follow her;
but Mrs Belfield kept no servant, and the maid of the house was
employed in preparing the supper.
When Mr Simkins came back, she learnt, after various interruptions from
Mrs Belfield, and much delay from his own slowness and circumlocution,
that he had pursued the two gentlemen to the * * coffee-house.
She hesitated not a moment in resolving to follow them: she feared the
failure of any commission, nor did she know whom to entrust with one:
and the danger was too urgent for much deliberation. She begged,
therefore, that Mr. Simkins would walk with her to the chaise; but
hearing that the coffee-house was another way, she desired Mrs Belfield
to let the servant run and order it to Mrs Roberts, in Fetterlane, and
then eagerly requested Mr Simkins to accompany her on foot till they
met with an hackney-coach.
They then set out, Mr Simkins feeling proud and happy in being allowed
to attend her, while Cecilia, glad of any protection, accepted his
offer of continuing with her, even after she met with an hackney-
When she arrived at the coffee-house, she ordered the coachman to
desire the master of it to come and speak with her.
He came, and she hastily called out, "Pray, are two gentlemen here?"
"Here are several gentlemen here, madam."
"Yes, yes,--but are two upon any business--any particular business--"
"Two gentlemen, madam, came about half an hour ago, and asked for a
room to themselves."
"And where are they now?--are they up stairs?--down stairs?--where are
"One of them went away in about ten minutes, and the other soon after."
Bitterly chagrined and disappointed, she knew not what step to take
next; but, after some consideration, concluded upon obeying Delvile's
own directions, and proceeding to St James's-square, where alone, now,
she seemed to have any chance of meeting with him. Gladly, however, she
still consented to be accompanied by Mr Simkins, for her dread of being
alone, at so late an hour, in an hackney-coach, was invincible. Whether
Delvile himself had any authority for directing her to his father's, or
whether, in the perturbation of his new--excited and agonising
sensations of jealousy, he had forgotten that any authority was
necessary, she knew not; nor could she now interest herself in the
doubt: a second scene, such as had so lately passed with Mr Monckton,
occupied all her thoughts: she knew the too great probability that the
high spirit of Belfield would disdain making the explanation which
Delvile in his present agitation might require, and the consequence of
such a refusal must almost inevitably be fatal.
The moment the porter came to the door, Cecilia eagerly called out from
the coach, "Is Mr Delvile here?"
"Yes, madam," he answered, "but I believe he is engaged."
"Oh no matter for any engagement!" cried she, on the door,--I must
speak to him this moment!"
"If you will please to step into the parlour, madam, I will tell his
gentleman you are here; but he will be much displeased if he is
disturbed without notice."
"Ah heaven!" exclaimed she, "what Mr Delvile are you talking of?"
"My master, madam."
Cecilia, who had got out of the coach, now hastily returned to it, and
was some time in too great agony to answer either the porter, who
desired some message, or the coachman, who asked whither he was to
drive. To see Mr Delvile, unprotected by his son, and contrary to his
orders, appeared to her insupportable; yet to what place could she go?
where was she likely to meet with Delvile? how could he find her if she
went to Mrs Hill's? and in what other house could she at present claim
After a little recovering from this cruel shock, she ventured, though
in a faultering voice, to enquire whether young Mr Delvile had been
"Yes, madam," the porter answered; "we thought he was abroad, but he
called just now, and asked if any lady had been at the house. He would
not even stay to go up to my master, and we have not dared tell him of
This a little revived her; to hear that he had actually been enquiring
for her, at least assured her of his safety from any immediate
violence, and she began to hope she might now possibly meet with him
time enough to explain all that had past in his absence, and occasioned
her seemingly strange and suspicious situation at Belfield's. She
compelled herself, therefore, to summon courage for seeing his father,
since, as he had directed her to the house, she concluded he would
return there to seek her, when he had wandered elsewhere to no purpose.
She then, though with much timidity and reluctance, sent a message to
Mr Delvile to entreat a moment's audience.
An answer was brought her that he saw no company so late at night.
Losing now all dread of his reproaches, in her superior dread of
missing Delvile, she called out earnestly to the man, "Tell him, Sir, I
beseech him not to refuse me! tell him I have something to communicate
that requires his immediate attention!"
The servant obeyed; but soon returning, said his master desired him to
acquaint her he was engaged every moment he stayed in town, and must
positively decline seeing her.
"Go to him again," cried the harassed Cecilia, "assure him I come not
from myself, but by the desire of one he most values: tell him I
entreat but permission to wait an hour in his house, and that I have no
other place in the world whither I can go!"
Mr Delvile's own gentleman brought, with evident concern, the answer to
this petition; which was, that while the Honourable Mr Delvile was
himself alive, he thought the desire of any other person concerning his
house, was taking with him a very extraordinary liberty; and that he
was now going to bed, and had given orders to his servants to carry him
no more messages whatsoever, upon pain of instant dismission.
Cecilia now seemed totally destitute of all resource, and for a few
dreadful minutes, gave herself up to utter despondency: nor, when she
recovered her presence of mind, could she form any better plan than
that of waiting in the coach to watch the return of Delvile.
She told the coachman, therefore, to drive to a corner of the square,
begging Mr Simkins to have patience, which he promised with much
readiness, and endeavoured to give her comfort, by talking without
She waited here near half an hour. She then feared the disappointment
of Delvile in not meeting her at first, had made him conclude she meant
not to obey his directions, and had perhaps urged him to call again
upon Belfield, whom he might fancy privy to her non-appearance. This
was new horror to her, and she resolved at all risks to drive to
Portland-street, and enquire if Belfield himself was returned home.
Yet, lest they should mutually be pursuing each other all night, she
stopt again at Mr Delvile's, and left word with the porter, that if
young Mr Delvile should come home, he would hear of the person he was
enquiring for at Mrs Roberts's in Fetter-lane. To Belfield's she did
not dare to direct him; and it was her intention, if there she procured
no new intelligence, to leave the same message, and then go to Mrs
Roberts without further delay. To make such an arrangement with a
servant who knew not her connection with his young master, was
extremely repugnant to her; but the exigence was too urgent for
scruples, and there was nothing to which she would not have consented,
to prevent the fatal catastrophe she apprehended.
When she came to Belfield's, not daring to enter the house, she sent in
Mr Simkins, to desire that Mrs Belfield would be so good as to step to
the coach door.
"Is your son, madam," she cried, eagerly, "come home? and is any body
"No, ma'am; he has never once been across the threshold since that
gentleman took him out; and I am half out of my wits to think"--
"Has that gentleman," interrupted Cecilia, "been here anymore?"
"Yes, ma'am, that's what I was going to tell you; he came again just
now, and said"--
"Just now?--good heaven!--and which way is he gone?"
"Why he is after no good, I am afraid, for he was in a great passion,
and would hardly hear any thing I said."
"Pray, pray answer me quick!--where, which way did he go?"
"Why, he asked me if I knew whither my son was come from the * *
coffee-house; why, says I, I'm sure I can't tell, for if it had not
been for Mr Simkins, I should not so much as have known he ever went to
the * * coffee-house; however, I hope he a'n't come away, because if he
is, poor Miss Beverley will have had all that trouble for nothing; for
she's gone after him in a prodigious hurry; and upon my only saying
that, he seemed quite beside himself, and said, if I don't meet with
your son at the * * coffee-house myself, pray, when he comes in, tell
him I shall be highly obliged to him to call there; and then he went
away, in as great a pet as ever you saw."
Cecilia listened to this account with the utmost terror and misery; the
suspicions of Delvile would now be aggravated, and the message he had
left for Belfield, would by him be regarded as a defiance. Again,
however, to the * * coffee-house she instantly ordered the coach, an
immediate explanation from herself seeming the only possible chance for
preventing the most horrible conclusion to this unfortunate and
She was still accompanied by Mr Simkins, and, but that she attended to
nothing he said, would not inconsiderably have been tormented by his
conversation. She sent him immediately into the coffee-room, to enquire
if either of the gentlemen were then in the house.
He returned to her with a waiter, who said, "One of them, madam, called
again just now, but he only stopt to write a note, which he left to be
given to the gentleman who came with him at first. He is but this
moment gone, and I don't think he can be at the bottom of the street."
"Oh drive then, gallop after him!"--cried Cecilia; "coachman! go this
"My horses are tired," said the man, "they have been out all day, and
they will gallop no further, if I don't stop and give them a drink."
Cecilia, too full of hope and impatience for this delay, forced open
the door herself, and without saying another word, jumped out of the
carriage, with intention to run down the street; but the coachman
immediately seizing her, protested she should not stir till he was
In the utmost agony of mind at an hindrance by which she imagined
Delvile would be lost to her perhaps for ever, she put her hand in her
pocket, in order to give up her purse for her liberty; but Mr Simkins,
who was making a tiresome expostulation with the coachman, took it
himself, and declaring he would not see the lady cheated, began a
tedious calculation of his fare.
"O pay him any thing!" cried she, "and let us be gone! an instant's
delay may be fatal!"
Mr Simkins, too earnest to conquer the coachman to attend to her
distress, continued his prolix harangue concerning a disputed shilling,
appealing to some gathering spectators upon the justice of his cause;
while his adversary, who was far from sober, still held Cecilia, saying
the coach had been hired for the lady, and he would be paid by herself.
"Good God!" cried the agitated Cecilia,--"give him my purse at once!--
give him every thing he desires!"--
The coachman, at this permission, encreased his demands, and Mr
Simkins, taking the number of his coach, protested he would summons him
to the Court of Conscience the next morning. A gentleman, who then came
out of the coffee-house, offered to assist the lady, but the coachman,
who still held her arm, swore he would have his right.
"Let me go! let me pass!" cried she, with encreasing eagerness and
emotion; "detain me at your peril!--release me this moment--only let me
run to the end of the street,--good God! good Heaven! detain me not for
Mr Simkins, humbly desiring her not to be in haste, began a formal
apology for his conduct; but the inebriety of the coachman became
evident; a mob was collecting; Cecilia, breathless with vehemence and
terror, was encircled, yet struggled in vain to break away; and the
stranger gentleman, protesting, with sundry compliments, he would
himself take care of her, very freely seized her hand.
This moment, for the unhappy Cecilia, teemed with calamity; she was
wholly overpowered; terror for Delvile, horror for herself, hurry,
confusion, heat and fatigue, all assailing her at once, while all means
of repelling them were denied her, the attack was too strong for her
fears, feelings, and faculties, and her reason suddenly, yet totally
failing her, she madly called out, "He will be gone! he will be gone!
and I must follow him to Nice!"
The gentleman now retreated; but Mr Simkins, who was talking to the
mob, did not hear her; and the coachman, too much intoxicated to
perceive her rising frenzy, persisted in detaining her.
"I am going to France!" cried she, still more wildly, "why do you stop
me? he will die if I do not see him, he will bleed to death!"
The coachman, still unmoved, began to grow very abusive; but the
stranger, touched by compassion, gave up his attempted gallantry, and
Mr Simkins, much astonished, entreated her not to be frightened: she
was, however, in no condition to listen to him; with a strength
hitherto unknown to her, she forcibly disengaged herself from her
persecutors; yet her senses were wholly disordered; she forgot her
situation, her intention, and herself; the single idea of Delvile's
danger took sole possession of her brain, though all connection with
its occasion was lost, and the moment she was released, she fervently
clasped her hands, exclaiming, "I will yet heal his wound, even at the
hazard of my life!" and springing forward, was almost instantly out of
Mr Simkins now, much alarmed, and earnestly calling after her, entered
into a compromise with the coachman, that he might attend her; but the
length of his negociation defeated its purpose, and before he was at
liberty to follow her, all trace was lost by which he might have
overtaken her. He stopt every passenger he met to make enquiries, but
though they led him on some way, they led him on in vain; and, after a
useless and ill-managed pursuit, he went quietly to his own home,
determining to acquaint Mrs Belfield with what had happened the next
Mean while the frantic Cecilia escaped both pursuit and insult by the
velocity of her own motion. She called aloud upon Delvile as she flew
to the end of the street. No Delvile was there!--she turned the corner;
yet saw nothing of him; she still went on, though unknowing whither,
the distraction of her mind every instant growing greater, from the
inflammation of fatigue, heat, and disappointment. She was spoken to
repeatedly; she was even caught once or twice by her riding habit; but
she forced herself along by her own vehement rapidity, not hearing what
was said, nor heeding what was thought. Delvile, bleeding by the arm of
Belfield, was the image before her eyes, and took such full possession
of her senses, that still, as she ran on, she fancied it in view. She
scarce touched the ground; she scarce felt her own motion; she seemed
as if endued with supernatural speed, gliding from place to place, from
street to street; with no consciousness of any plan, and following no
other direction than that of darting forward where-ever there was most
room, and turning back when she met with any obstruction; till quite
spent and exhausted, she abruptly ran into a yet open shop, where,
breathless and panting, she sunk upon the floor, and, with a look
disconsolate and helpless, sat for some time without speaking.
The people of the house, concluding at first she was a woman of the
town, were going roughly to turn her out; but soon seeing their
mistake, by the evident distraction of her air and manner, they
enquired of some idle people who, late as it was, had followed her, if
any of them knew who she was, or whence she came?
They could give no account of her, but supposed she was broke loose
Cecilia then, wildly starting up, exclaimed, "No, no,--I am not mad,--
I am going to Nice--to my husband."
"She's quite crazy," said the man of the house, who was a Pawn-Broker;
"we had better get rid of her before she grows mischievous--"
"She's somebody broke out from a private mad house, I dare say," said a
man who had followed her into the shop; "and if you were to take care
of her a little while, ten to one but you'll get a reward for it."
"She's a gentlewoman, sure enough," said the mistress of the house,
"because she's got such good things on."
And then, under pretence of trying to find some direction to her upon a
letter, or paper, she insisted upon searching her pockets: here,
however, she was disappointed in her expectations: her purse was in the
custody of Mr Simkins, but neither her terror nor distress had saved
her from the daring dexterity of villainy, and her pockets, in the mob,
had been rifled of whatever else they contained. The woman therefore
hesitated some time whether to take charge of her or, not: but being
urged by the man who made the proposal, and who said they might depend
upon seeing her soon advertised, as having escaped from her keepers,
they ventured to undertake her.
Mean while she endeavoured again to get out, calling aloud upon Delvile
to rescue her, but so wholly bereft of sense and recollection, she
could give no account who she was, whence she came, or whither she
wished to go.
They then carried her up stairs, and attempted to make her lie down
upon a bed; but supposing she refused because it was not of straw, they
desisted; and, taking away the candle, locked the door, and all went to
In this miserable condition, alone and raving, she was left to pass the
night! in the early part of it, she called upon Delvile without
intermission, beseeching him to come to her defence in one moment, and
deploring his death the next; but afterwards, her strength being wholly
exhausted by these various exertions and fatigues, she threw herself
upon the floor, and lay for some minutes quite still. Her head then
began to grow cooler, as the fever into which terror and immoderate
exercise had thrown her abated, and her memory recovered its functions.
This was, however, only a circumstance of horror to her: she found
herself shut up in a place of confinement, without light, without
knowledge where she was, and not a human being near her!
Yet the same returning reason which enabled her to take this view of
her own situation, brought also to her mind that in which she had left
Delvile;--under all the perturbation of new-kindled jealousy, just
calling upon Belfield,--Belfield, tenacious of his honour even more
than himself,--to satisfy doubts of which the very mention would be
received as a challenge!
"Oh yet, oh yet," cried she, "let me fly and overtake them!--I may find
them before morning, and to-night it must surely have been too late for
this work of death!"
She then arose to feel for the door, and succeeded; but it was locked,
and no effort she could make enabled her to open it.
Her agony was unspeakable; she called out with violence upon the people
of the house, conjured them to set her at liberty, offered any reward
for their assistance, and threatened them with a prosecution if
Nobody, however, came near her: some slept on notwithstanding all the
disturbance she could make, and others; though awakened by her cries,
concluded them the ravings of a mad woman, and listened not to what she
Her head was by no means in a condition to bear this violence of
distress; every pulse was throbbing, every vein seemed bursting, her
reason, so lately returned, could not bear the repetition of such a
shock, and from supplicating for help with all the energy of feeling
and understanding, she soon continued the cry from mere vehemence of
Thus dreadfully passed the night; and in the morning, when the woman of
the house came to see after her, she found her raving with such frenzy,
and desperation, that her conscience was perfectly at ease in the
treatment she had given her, being now firmly satisfied she required
the strictest confinement.
She still, however, tried to get away; talked of Delvile without
cessation, said she should be too late to serve him, told the woman she
desired but to prevent murder, and repeatedly called out, "Oh beloved
of my heart! wait but a moment, and I will snatch thee from
Mrs Wyers, this woman, now sought no longer to draw from her whence she
came, or who she was, but heard her frantic exclamations without any
emotion, contentedly concluding that her madness was incurable: and
though she was in a high fever, refused all sustenance, and had every
symptom of an alarming and dangerous malady, she was fully persuaded
that her case was that of decided insanity, and had not any notion of
temporary or accidental alienation of reason.
All she could think of by way of indulgence to her, was to bring her a
quantity of straw, having heard that mad people were fond of it; and
putting it in a heap in one corner of the room, she expected to see her
eagerly fly at it.
Cecilia, however, distracted as she was, was eager for nothing but to
escape, which was constantly her aim, alike when violent or when quiet.
Mrs Wyers, finding this, kept her closely confined, and the door always
locked, whether absent or present.
Two whole days passed thus; no enquiries reached Mrs Wyers, and she
found in the news-papers no advertisement. Meanwhile Cecilia grew worse
every moment, tasted neither drink nor food, raved incessantly, called
out twenty times in a breath, "Where is he? which way is he gone?" and
implored the woman by the most pathetic remonstrances, to save her
unhappy Delvile, _dearer to her than life, more precious than peace or
At other times she talked of her marriage, of the displeasure of his
family, and of her own remorse; entreated the woman not to betray her,
and promised to spend the remnant of her days in the heaviness of
sorrow and contrition.
Again her fancy roved, and Mr Monckton took sole possession of it. She
reproached him for his perfidy, she bewailed that he was massacred, she
would not a moment out-live him, and wildly declared _her last remains
should moulder in his hearse_! And thus, though naturally and commonly
of a silent and quiet disposition, she was now not a moment still, for
the irregular starts of a terrified and disordered imagination, were
changed into the constant ravings of morbid delirium.
The woman, growing uneasy from her uncertainty of pay for her trouble,
asked the advice of some of her friends what was proper for her to do;
and they counselled her to put an advertisement into the papers herself
the next morning.
The following, therefore, was drawn up and sent to the printer of the
Whereas a crazy young lady, tall, fair complexioned, with blue eyes and
light hair, ran into the Three Blue Balls, in----street, on Thursday
night, the 2nd instant, and has been kept there since out of charity.
She was dressed in a riding habit. Whoever she belongs to is desired to
send after her immediately. She has been treated with the utmost care
and tenderness. She talks much of some person by the name of Delvile.
N.B.--She had no money about her.
This had but just been sent off, when Mr Wyers, the man of the house,
coming up stairs, said, "Now we shall have two of them, for here's the
crazy old gentleman below, that says he has just heard in the
neighbourhood of what has happened to us, and he desires to see the
"It's as well let him come up, then," answered Mrs Wyers, "for he goes
to all sort of places and people, and ten to one but he'll bustle about
till he finds out who she is."
Mr Wyers then went down stairs to send him up.
He came instantly. It was Albany, who in his vagrant rambles, having
heard an unknown mad lady was at this pawn-broker's, came, with his
customary eagerness to visit and serve the unhappy, to see what could
be done for her.
When he entered the room, she was sitting upon the bed, her eyes
earnestly fixed upon the window, from which she was privately indulging
a wish to make her escape. Her dress was in much disorder, her fine
hair was dishevelled, and the feathers of her riding hat were broken
and half falling down, some shading her face, others reaching to her
"Poor lady!" cried Albany, approaching her, "how long has she been in
She started at the sound of a new voice, she looked round,--but what
was the astonishment of Albany to see who it was!--He stept back,-he
came forward,--he doubted his own senses,--he looked at her earnestly,
--he turned from her to look at the woman of the house,--he cast his
eyes round the room itself, and then, lifting up his hands, "O sight of
woe!" he cried, "the generous and good! the kind reliever of distress!
the benign sustainer of misery!--is _This_ Cecilia!"--
Cecilia, imperfectly recollecting, though not understanding him, sunk
down at his feet, tremblingly called out, "Oh, if he is yet to be
saved, if already he is not murdered,--go to him! fly after him! you
will presently overtake him, he is only in the next street, I left him
there myself, his sword drawn, and covered with human blood!"
"Sweet powers of kindness and compassion!" cried the old man, "look
upon this creature with pity! she who raised the depressed, she who
cheared the unhappy! she whose liberal hand turned lamentations into
joy! who never with a tearless eye could hear the voice of sorrow!--is
_This_ she herself!--can _This_ be Cecilia!" "O do not wait to talk!"
cried she, "go to him now, or you will never see him more! the hand of
death is on him,--cold, clay-cold is its touch! he is breathing his
last--Oh murdered Delvile! massacred husband of my heart! groan not so
piteously! fly to him, and weep over him!--fly to him and pluck the
poniard from his wounded bosom!"
"Oh sounds of anguish and horror!" cried the, melted moralist, tears
running quick down his rugged cheeks; "melancholy indeed is this sight,
humiliating to morality! such is human strength, such human felicity!--
weak as our virtues, frail as our guilty natures!"
"Ah," cried she, more wildly, "no one will save me now! I am married,
and no one will listen to me! ill were the auspices under which I gave
my hand! Oh it was a work of darkness, unacceptable and offensive! it
has been sealed, therefore, with blood, and to-morrow it will be signed
"Poor distracted creature!" exclaimed he, "thy pangs I have felt, but
thy innocence I have forfeited!--my own wounds bleed afresh,--my own
brain threatens new frenzy."--
Then, starting up, "Good woman," he added, "kindly attend her,--I will
seek out her friends, put her into bed, comfort, sooth, compose her.--
I will come to you again, and as soon as I can."
He then hurried away.
"Oh hour of joy!" cried Cecilia, "he is gone to rescue him! oh blissful
moment! he will yet be snatched from slaughter!"
The woman lost not an instant in obeying the orders she had received;
she was put into bed, and nothing was neglected, as far as she had
power and thought, to give a look of decency and attention to her
He had not left them an hour, when Mary, the maid who had attended her
from Suffolk, came to enquire for her lady. Albany, who was now
wandering over the town in search of some of her friends, and who
entered every house where he imagined she was known, had hastened to
that of Mrs Hill the first of any, as he was well acquainted with her
obligations to Cecilia; there, Mary herself, by the directions which
her lady had given Mrs Belfield, had gone; and there, in the utmost
astonishment and uneasiness, had continued till Albany brought news of
She was surprised and afflicted beyond measure, not only at the state
of her mind, and her health, but to find her in a bed and an apartment
so unsuitable to her rank of life, and so different to what she had
ever been accustomed. She wept bitterly while she enquired at the bed-
side how her lady did, but wept still more, when, without answering, or
seeming to know her, Cecilia started up, and called out, "I must be
removed this moment! I must go to St James's-square,--if I stay an
instant longer, the passing-bell will toll, and then how shall I be in
time for the funeral?"
Mary, alarmed and amazed, turned hastily from her to the woman of the
house, who calmly said, the lady was only in a raving fit, and must not
Extremely frightened at this intelligence, she entreated her to be
quiet and lie still. But Cecilia grew suddenly so violent, that force
only could keep her from rising; and Mary, unused to dispute her
commands, prepared to obey them.
Mrs Wyers now in her turn opposed in vain; Cecilia was peremptory, and
Mary became implicit, and, though not without much difficulty, she was
again dressed in her riding habit. This operation over, she moved
towards the door, the temporary strength of delirium giving, her a
hardiness that combated fever, illness, fatigue, and feebleness. Mary,
however averse and fearful, assisted her, and Mrs Wyers, compelled by
the obedience of her own servant, went before them to order a chair.
Cecilia, however, felt her weakness when she attempted to move down
stairs; her feet tottered, and her head became dizzy; she leaned it
against Mary, who called aloud for more help, and made her sit down
till it came. Her resolution, however, was not to be altered; a
stubbornness, wholly foreign to her genuine character, now made her
stern and positive; and Mary, who thought her submission indispensable,
cried, but did not offer to oppose her.
Mr and Mrs Wyers both came up to assist in supporting her, and Mr Wyers
offered to carry her in his arms; but she would not consent; when she
came to the bottom of the stairs, her head grew worse, she again lent
it upon Mary, but Mr Wyers was obliged to hold them both. She still,
however, was firm in her determination, and was making another effort
to proceed, when Delvile rushed hastily into the shop.
He had just encountered Albany; who, knowing his acquaintance, though
ignorant of his marriage, with Cecilia, had informed him where to seek
He was going to make enquiry if he was come to the right house, when he
perceived her,--feeble, shaking, leaning upon one person, and half
carried by another!--he started back, staggered, gasped for breath,--
but finding they were proceeding, advanced with trepidation, furiously
calling out, "Hold! stop!--what is it you are doing? Monsters of savage
barbarity, are you murdering my wife?"
The well-known voice no sooner struck the ears of Cecilia, than
instantly recollecting it, she screamed, and, is suddenly endeavouring
to spring forward, fell to the ground.
Delvile had vehemently advanced to catch her in his arms and save her
fall, which her unexpected quickness had prevented her attendants from
doing; but the sight of her changed complection, and the wildness of
her eyes and air, again made him start,--his blood froze through his
veins, and he stood looking at her, cold and almost petrified.
Her own recollection of him seemed lost already; and exhausted by the
fatigue she had gone through in dressing and coming down stairs, she
remained still and quiet, forgetting her design of proceeding, and
forming no new one for returning.
Mary, to whom, as to all her fellow servants, the marriage of Cecilia
had been known, before she left the country, now desired from Delvile
directions what was to be done.
Delvile, starting suddenly at this call from the deepest horror into
the most desperate rage, fiercely exclaimed, "Inhuman wretches!
unfeeling, execrable wretches, what is it you have done to her? how
came she hither?--who brought her?--who dragged her?--by what infamous
usage has she been sunk into this state?"
"Indeed, sir, I don't know!" cried Mary.
"I assure you, sir," said Mrs Wyers, "the lady--"
"Peace!" cried he, furiously, "I will not hear your falsehoods!--
peace, and begone!"--
Then, casting himself upon the ground by her side, "Oh my Cecilia," he
cried, "where hast thou been thus long? how have I lost thee? what
dreadful calamity has befallen thee?--answer me, my love! raise your
sweet head and answer me!--oh speak!--say to me any thing; the
bitterest words will be mercy to this silence!"---
Cecilia then, suddenly looking up, called out with great quickness,
"Who are you?"
"Who am I!" cried he, amazed and affrighted.
"I should be glad you would go away," cried she, in a hurrying manner,
"for you are quite unknown to me."
Delvile, unconscious of her insanity, and attributing to resentment
this aversion and repulse, hastily moved from her, mournfully
answering, "Well indeed may you disclaim me, refuse all forgiveness,
load me with hatred and reproach, and consign me to eternal anguish! I
have merited severer punishment still; I have behaved like a monster,
and I am abhorrent to myself!"
Cecilia now, half rising, and regarding him with mingled terror and
anger, eagerly exclaimed, "If you do not mean to mangle and destroy me,
begone this instant."
"To mangle you!" repeated Delvile, shuddering, "how horrible!--but I
deserve it!--look not, however, so terrified, and I will tear myself
away from you. Suffer me but to assist in removing you from this place,
and I will only watch you at a distance, and never see you more till
you permit me to approach you."
"Why, why," cried Cecilia, with a look of perplexity and impatience,
"will you not tell me your name, and where you come from?"
"Do you not know me?" said he, struck with new horror; "or do you only
mean to kill me by the question?"
"Do you bring me any message from Mr Monckton?"
"From Mr Monckton?--no; but he lives and will recover."
"I thought you had been Mr Monckton yourself."
"Too cruel, yet justly cruel Cecilia!--is then Delvile utterly
renounced?--the guilty, the unhappy Delvile!--is he cast off for ever?
have you driven him wholly from your heart? do you deny him even a
place in your remembrance?"
"Is your name, then, Delvile?"
"O what is it you mean? is it me or my name you thus disown?"
"'Tis a name," cried she, sitting up, "I well remember to have heard,
and once I loved it, and three times I called upon it in the dead of
night. And when I was cold and wretched, I cherished it; and when I was
abandoned and left alone, I repeated it and sung to it."
"All-gracious powers!" cried Delvile, "her reason is utterly gone!"
And, hastily rising, he desperately added, "what is death to this
blow?--Cecilia, I am content to part with thee!"
Mary now, and Mrs Wyers, poured upon him eagerly an account of her
illness, and insanity, her desire of removal, and their inability to
Delvile, however, made no answer; he scarce heard them: the deepest
despair took possession of his mind, and, rooted to the spot where he
stood, he contemplated iii dreadful stillness the fallen and altered
object of his best hopes and affections; already in her faded cheeks
and weakened frame, his agonising terror read the quick impending
destruction of all his earthly happiness! the sight was too much for
his fortitude, and almost for his understanding; and when his woe
became utterable, he wrung his hands, and groaning aloud, called out,
"Art thou gone so soon! my wife! my Cecilia! have I lost thee already?"
Cecilia, with utter insensibility to what was passing, now suddenly,
and with a rapid yet continued motion, turned her head from side to
side, her eyes wildly glaring, and yet apparently regarding nothing.
"Dreadful! dreadful!" exclaimed Delvile, "what a sight is this!" and
turning from her to the people of the house, he angrily said, "why is
she here upon the floor? could you not even allow her a bed? Who
attends her? Who waits upon her? Why has nobody sent for help?--Don't
answer me,--I will not hear you, fly this moment for a physician,--
bring two, bring three--bring all you can find?"
Then, still looking from Cecilia, whose sight he could no longer
support, he consulted with Mary whither she should be conveyed: and, as
the night was far advanced, and no place was prepared for her
elsewhere, they soon agreed that she could only be removed up stairs.
Delvile now attempted to carry her in his arms; but trembling and
unsteady, he had not strength to sustain her; yet not enduring to
behold the helplessness he could not assist, he conjured them to be
careful and gentle, and, committing her to their trust, ran out himself
for a physician.
Cecilia resisted them with her utmost power, imploring them not to bury
her alive, and averring she had received intelligence they meant to
entomb her with Mr Monckton.
They put her, however, to bed, but her raving grew still more wild and
Delvile soon returned with a physician, but had not courage to attend
him to her room. He waited for him at the foot of the stairs, where,
hastily stopping him,
"Well, sir," he cried, "is it not all over? is it not impossible she
"She is very ill, indeed, sir," he answered, "but I have given
directions which perhaps---"
"_Perhaps_!" interrupted Delvile, shuddering, "do not stab me with such
"She is very delirious," he continued, "but as her fever is very high,
that is not so material. If the orders I have given take effect, and
the fever is got under, all the rest will be well of course."
He then went away; leaving Delvile as much thunderstruck by answers so
alarming, as if he had consulted him in full hope, and without even
suspicion of her danger.
The moment he recovered from this shock, he flew out of the house for
He returned and brought with him two physicians. They confirmed the
directions already given, but would pronounce nothing decisively of her
Delvile, half mad with the acuteness of his misery, charged them all
with want of skill, and wrote instantly into the country for Dr Lyster.
He went out himself in search of a messenger to ride off express,
though it was midnight, with his letter; and then, returning, he was
hastening to her room, but, while yet at the door, hearing her still
raving, his horror conquered his eagerness, and, hurrying down stairs,
he spent the remnant of the long and seemingly endless night in the
Mean while Cecilia went through very severe discipline, sometimes
strongly opposing it, at other times scarce sensible what was done to
The whole of the next day passed in much the same manner, neither did
the next night bring any visible alteration. She had now nurses and
attendants even more than sufficient, for Delvile had no relief but
from calling in more help. His terror of again seeing her encreased
with his forbearance; the interview which had already past had almost
torn him asunder, and losing all courage for attempting to enter her
room, he now spent almost all his time upon the stairs which led to it.
Whenever she was still, he seated himself at her chamber door, where,
if he could hear her breathe or move, a sudden hope of her recovery
gave to him a momentary extasy that recompensed all his sufferings. But
the instant she spoke, unable to bear the sound of so loved a voice
uttering nothing but the incoherent ravings of lightheadedness, he
hastened down stairs, and flying out of the house, walked in the
neighbouring streets, till he could again gather courage to enquire or
to listen how she went on.
The following morning, however, Dr Lyster came, and every hope revived.
He flew to embrace him, told him instantly his marriage with Cecilia,
and besought him by some superior effort of his extraordinary abilities
to save him the distraction of her loss.
"My good friend," cried the worthy Doctor, "what is this you ask of me?
and how can this poor young lady herself want advice more than you do?
Do you think these able physicians actually upon the spot, with all the
experience of full practice in London to assist their skill, want a
petty Doctor out of the country to come and teach them what is right?"
"I have more reliance upon you," cried Delvile, than upon the whole
faculty; come, therefore, and prescribe for her,--take some new course
"Impossible, my good Sir, impossible! I must not lose my wits from
vanity, because you have lost yours from affliction. I could not refuse
to come to you when you wrote to me with such urgency, and I will now
go and see the young lady, as a _friend_, with all my heart. I am sorry
for you at my soul, Mr Mortimer! She is a lovely young creature, and
has an understanding, for her years and sex, unequalled."
"Never mention her to me!" cried the impatient Delvile, "I cannot bear
it! Go up to her, dear Doctor, and if you want a consultation, send, if
you please, for every physician in town."
Dr Lyster desired only that those who had already attended might be
summoned; and then, giving up to his entreaties the accustomed
ceremonial of waiting for them, he went to Cecilia.
Delvile did not dare accompany him; and so well was he acquainted with
his plainness and sincerity, that though he expected his return with
eagerness, he no sooner heard him upon the stairs, than fearing to know
his opinion, he hastily snatched up his hat, and rushed vehemently out
of the house to avoid him.
He continued to walk about the streets, till even the dread of ill news
was less horrible to him than this voluntary suspense, and then he
returned to the house.
He found Dr Lyster in a small back parlour, which Mrs Wyers, finding
she should now be well paid, had appropriated for Delvile's use.
Delvile, putting his hand upon the Doctor's shoulder, said, "Well, my
dear Dr Lyster, _you_, still, I hope"--
"I would I could make you easy!" interrupted the Doctor; "yet, if you
are rational, one comfort, at all events, I can give you; the crisis
seems approaching, and either she will recover, or before to-morrow
"Don't go on, Sir!" cried Delvile, with mingled rage and horror, "I
will not have her days limited! I sent not for you to give me such an
And again he flew out of the house, leaving Dr Lyster unaffectedly
concerned for him, and too kind-hearted and too wise to be offended at
the injustice of immoderate sorrow.
In a few minutes, however, from the effect rather of despair than
philosophy, Delvile grew more composed, and waited upon Dr Lyster to
apologize for his behaviour. He received his hearty forgiveness, and
prevailed upon him to continue in town till the whole was decided.
About noon, Cecilia, from the wildest rambling and most perpetual
agitation, sunk suddenly into a state of such utter insensibility, that
she appeared unconscious even of her existence; and but that she
breathed, she might already have passed for being dead.
When Delvile heard this, he could no longer endure even his post upon
the stairs; he spent his whole time in wandering about the streets, or
stopping in Dr Lyster's parlour to enquire if all was over.
That humane physician, not more alarmed at the danger of Cecilia, than
grieved at the situation of Delvile, thought the present fearful crisis
at least offered an opportunity of reconciling him with his father. He
waited, therefore, upon that gentleman in St James's-square, and
openly informed him of the dangerous state of Cecilia, and the misery
of his son.
Mr Delvile, though he would gladly, to have annulled an alliance he
held disgraceful to his family, have received intelligence that Cecilia
was no more, was yet extremely disconcerted to hear of sufferings to
which his own refusal of an asylum he was conscious had largely
contributed; and after a haughty struggle between tenderness and wrath,
he begged the advice of Dr Lyster how his son might be drawn from such
Dr Lyster, who well knew Delvile was too desperate to be tractable,
proposed surprising him into an interview by their returning together:
Mr Delvile, however apprehensive and relenting, conceded most
unwillingly to a measure he held beneath him, and, when he came to the
shop, could scarce be persuaded to enter it. Mortimer, at that time,
was taking a solitary ramble; and Dr Lyster, to complete the work he
had begun of subduing the hard pride of his father, contrived, under
pretence of waiting for him, to conduct him to the room of the
Mr Delvile, who knew not whither he was going, at first sight of the
bed and the attendants, was hastily retreating; but the changed and
livid face of Cecilia caught his eye, and, struck with sudden
consternation, he involuntarily stopt.
"Look at the poor young lady!" cried Dr Lyster; "can you wonder a sight
such as this should make Mr Mortimer forget every thing else?"
She was wholly insensible, but perfectly quiet; she seemed to
distinguish nothing, and neither spoke nor moved.
Mr Delvile regarded her with the utmost horror: the refuge he so
implacably refused her on the night when her intellects were
disordered, he would now gladly have offered at the expence of almost
similar sufferings, to have relieved himself from those rising pangs
which called him author of this scene of woe. His pride, his pomp, his
ancient name, were now sunk in his estimation; and while he considered
himself the destroyer of this unhappy young creature, he would have
sacrificed them all to have called himself her protector. Little is the
boast of insolence when it is analysed by the conscience! bitter is the
agony of self-reproach, where misery follows hardness of heart! yet,
when the first painful astonishment from her situation abated, the
remorse she excited being far stronger than the pity, he gave an angry
glance at Dr Lyster for betraying him into such a sight, and hastily
left the room.
Delvile, who was now impatiently waiting to see Dr Lyster in the little
parlour, alarmed at the sound of a new step upon the stairs, came out
to enquire who had been admitted. When he saw his father, he shrunk
back; but Mr Delvile, no longer supported by pride, and unable to
recover from the shock he had just received, caught him in his arms,
and said "Oh come home to me, my son! this is a place to destroy you!"
"Ah, Sir," cried Delvile, "think not of me now!--you must shew me no
kindness; I am not in a state to bear it!" And, forcibly breaking from
him, he hurried out of the house.
Mr Delvile, all the father awakened in his bosom, saw his departure
with more dread than anger; and returned himself to St James's-square,
tortured with parental fears, and stung by personal remorse, lamenting
his own inflexibility, and pursued by the pale image of Cecilia.
She was still in this unconscious state, and apparently as free from
suffering as from enjoyment, when a new voice was suddenly heard
without, exclaiming, "Oh where is she? where is she? where is my dear
Miss Beverley?" and Henrietta Belfield ran wildly into the room.
The advertisement in the news-papers had at once brought her to town,
and directed her to the house: the mention that the lost lady _talked
much of a person by the name of Delvile_, struck her instantly to mean
Cecilia; the description corresponded with this idea, and the account
of the dress confirmed it: Mr Arnott, equally terrified with herself,
had therefore lent her his chaise to learn the truth of this
conjecture, and she had travelled all night.
Flying up to the bedside, "Who is this?" she cried, "this is not Miss
Beverley?" and then screaming with unrestrained horror, "Oh mercy!
mercy!" she called out, "yes, it is indeed! and nobody would know her!
--her own mother would not think her her child!"
"You must come away, Miss Belfield," said Mary, "you must indeed,--the
doctors all say my lady must not be disturbed."
"Who shall take me away?" cried she, angrily, "nobody Mary! not all the
doctors in the world! Oh sweet Miss Beverley! I will lie down by your
side,--I will never quit you while you live,--and I wish, I wish I
could die to save your precious life!"
Then, leaning over her, and wringing her hands, "Oh I shall break my
heart," she cried, "to see her in this condition! Is this the so happy
Miss Beverley, that I thought every body born to give joy to? the Miss
Beverley that seemed queen of the whole world! yet so good and so
gentle, so kind to the meanest person! excusing every body's faults but
her own, and telling them how they might mend, and trying to make them
as good as herself!--Oh who would know her! who would know her! what
have they done to you, my beloved Miss Beverley? how have they altered
and disfigured you in this wicked and barbarous manner?"
In the midst of this simple yet pathetic testimony, to the worth and
various excellencies of Cecilia, Dr Lyster came into the room. The
women all flocked around him, except Mary, to vindicate themselves from
any share in permitting this new comer's entrance and behaviour; but
Mary only told him who she was, and said, that if her lady was well
enough to know her, there was nobody she was certain she would have
been so glad to see.
"Young lady," said the doctor, "I would advise you to walk into another
room till you are a little more composed."
"Every body, I find, is for hurrying me away," cried the sobbing
Henrietta, whose honest heart swelled with its own affectionate
integrity; "but they might all save themselves the trouble, for go I
"This is very wrong," said the doctor, "and must not be suffered: do
you call it friendship to come about a sick person in this manner?"
"Oh my Miss Beverley!" cried Henrietta, "do you hear how they all
upbraid me? how they all want to force me away from you, and to hinder
me even from looking at you! Speak for me, sweet lady! speak for me
yourself! tell them the poor Henrietta will not do you any harm; tell
them she only wishes just to sit by you, and to see you!--I will hold
by this dear hand,--I will cling to it till the last minute; and you
will not, I know you will not, give orders to have it taken away from
Dr Lyster, though his own good nature was much affected by this fond
sorrow, now half angrily represented to her the impropriety of
indulging it: but Henrietta, unused to disguise or repress her
feelings, grew only the more violent, the more she was convinced of
Cecilia's danger: "Oh look but at her," she exclaimed, "and take me
from her if you can! see how her sweet eyes are fixed! look but what a
change in her complexion!--She does not see me, she does not know me,
--she does not hear me! her hand seems quite lifeless already, her face
is all fallen away!--Oh that I had died twenty deaths before I had
lived to see this sight!--poor wretched Henrietta, thou bast now no
friend left in the world! thou mayst go and lie down in some corner,
and no one will come and say to thee a word of comfort!"
"This must not be!" said Dr Lyster, "you must take her away."
"You shall not!" cried she, desperately, "I will stay with her till she
has breathed her last, and I will stay with her still longer! and if
she was to speak to you this moment, she would tell you that she chose
it. She loved the poor Henrietta, and loved to have her near her; and
when she was ill, and in much distress, she never once bid me leave her
room. Is it not true, my sweet Miss Beverley? do you not know it to be
true? Oh look not so dreadfully! turn to your unhappy Henrietta;
sweetest, best of ladies! will you not speak to her once more? will you
not say to her one single word?"
Dr Lyster now grew very angry, and telling her such violence might have
fatal consequences, frightened her into more order, and drew her away
himself. He had then the kindness to go with her into another room,
where, when her first vehemence was spent, his remonstrances and
reasoning brought her to a sense of the danger she might occasion, and
made her promise not to return to the room till she had gained strength
to behave better.
When Dr Lyster went again to Delvile, he found him greatly alarmed by
his long stay; he communicated to him briefly what had passed, and
counselled him to avoid encreasing his own grief by the sight of what
was suffered by this unguarded and ardent girl. Delvile readily
assented, for the weight of his own woe was too heavy to bear any
Henrietta now, kept in order by Dr Lyster, contented herself with only
sitting on the bed, without attempting to speak, and with no other
employment than alternately looking at her sick friend, and covering
her streaming eyes with her handkerchief; from time to time quitting
the room wholly, for the relief of sobbing at liberty and aloud in
But, in the evening, while Delvile and Dr Lyster were taking one of
their melancholy rambles, a new scene was acted in the apartment of the
still senseless Cecilia. Albany suddenly made his entrance into it,
accompanied by three children, two girls and one boy, from the ages of
four to six, neatly dressed, clean, and healthy.
"See here!"' cried he, as he came in, "see here what I've brought you!
raise, raise your languid head, and look this way! you think me rigid,
--an enemy to pleasure, austere, harsh, and a forbidder of joy: look at
this sight, and see the contrary! who shall bring you comfort, joy,
pleasure, like this? three innocent children, clothed and fed by your
Henrietta and Mary, who both knew him well, were but little surprised
at anything he said or did, and the nurses presumed not to interfere
but by whispers.
Cecilia, however, observed nothing that passed; and Albany, somewhat
astonished, approached nearer to the bed; "Wilt thou not speak?" he
"She can't, Sir," said one of the women; "she has been speechless many
The air of triumph with which he had entered the room was now changed
into disappointment and consternation. For some minutes he thoughtfully
and sorrowfully contemplated her, and then, with a deep sigh, said,
"How will the poor rue this day!" Then, turning to the children, who,
awed by this scene, were quiet from terror. "Alas!" he said, "ye
helpless babes, ye know not what you have lost: presumptuously we came;
unheeded we must return! I brought you to be seen by your benefactress,
but she is going where she will find many such."
He then led them away; but, suddenly coming back, "I may see her,
perhaps, no more! shall I not, then, pray for her? Great and aweful is
the change she is making; what are human revolutions, how pitiful, how
insignificant, compared with it!--Come, little babies, come; with gifts
has she often blessed _you_, with wishes bless _her_! Come, let us
kneel round her bed; let us all pray for her together; lift up your
innocent hands, and for all of you I will speak."
He then made the children obey his injunctions, and having knelt
himself, while Henrietta and Mary instantly did the same, "Sweet
flower!" he cried, "untimely cropt in years, yet in excellence mature!
early decayed in misery, yet fragrant in innocence! Gentle be thy exit,
for unsullied have been thy days; brief be thy pains, for few have been
thy offences! Look at her sweet babes, and bear her in your
remembrance; often will I visit you and revive the solemn scene. Look
at her ye, also, who are nearer to your end--Ah! will you bear it like
He paused; and the nurses and Mrs Wyers, struck by this call, and moved
by the general example, crept to the bed, and dropt on their knees,
"She departs," resumed Albany, "the envy of the world! while yet no
guilt had seized her soul, and no remorse had marred her peace. She was
the hand-maid of charity, and pity dwelt in her bosom! her mouth was
never open but to give comfort; her foot-steps were followed by
blessings! Oh happy in purity, be thine the song of triumph!--softly
shalt thou sink to temporary sleep,--sublimely shalt thou rise to life
that wakes for ever!"
He then got up, took the children by their little hands, and went away.
Dr Lyster and Delvile met them at the entrance into the house.
Extremely alarmed lest Cecilia had received any disturbance, they both
hastened up stairs, but Delvile proceeded only to the door. He stopt
there and listened; but all was silent; the prayers of Albany had
struck an awe into every one; and Dr Lyster soon returned to tell him
there was no alteration in his patient.
"And he has not disturbed her?" cried Delvile.
"No, not at all."
"I think, then," said he, advancing, though trembling, "I will yet see
her once more."
"No, no, Mr Mortimer," cried the doctor, "why should you give yourself
so unnecessary a shock?"
"The shock," answered he, "is over!--tell me, however, is there any
chance I may hurt _her_?"
"I believe not; I do not think, just now, she will perceive you."
"Well, then,--I may grieve, perhaps, hereafter, that once more--that
one glance!"--He stopt, irresolute the doctor would again have
dissuaded him, but, after a little hesitation, he assured him he was
prepared for the worst, and forced himself into the room.
When again, however, he beheld Cecilia,--senseless, speechless,
motionless, her features void of all expression, her cheeks without
colour, her eyes without meaning,--he shrunk from the sight, he leant
upon Dr Lyster, and almost groaned aloud.
The doctor would have conducted him out of the apartment; but,
recovering from this first agony, he turned again to view her, and
casting up his eyes, fervently ejaculated, "Oh merciful powers! Take,
or destroy her! let her not linger thus, rather let me lose her for
ever!--O far rather would I see her dead, glad in this dreadful
Then, advancing to the bed side, and yet more earnestly looking at her,
"I pray not now," he cried, "for thy life! inhumanly as I have treated
thee, I am not yet so hardened as to wish thy misery lengthened no;
quick be thy restoration, or short as pure thy passage to eternity!--Oh
my Cecilia! lovely, however altered! sweet even in the arms of death
and insanity! and dearer to my tortured heart in this calamitous state,
than in all thy pride of health and beauty!"--
He stopt, and turned from her, yet could not tear himself away; he came
back, he again looked at her, he hung over her in anguish unutterable;
he kissed each burning hand, he folded to his bosom her feeble form,
and, recovering his speech, though almost bursting with sorrow, faintly
articulated, "Is all over? no ray of reason left? no knowledge of thy
wretched Delvile?--no, none! the hand of death is on her, and she is
utterly gone!--sweet suffering excellence! loved, lost, expiring
Cecilia!--but I will not repine! peace and kindred angels are watching
to receive thee, and if thou art parted from thyself, it were impious
to lament thou shouldst be parted from me.--Yet in thy tomb will be
deposited all that to me could render existence supportable, every
frail chance of happiness, every sustaining hope, and all alleviation
Dr Lyster now again approaching, thought he perceived some change in
his patient, and peremptorily forced him away from her: then returning
himself, he found that her eyes were shut, and she was dropt asleep.
This was an omen the most favourable he could hope. He now seated
himself by the bedside, and determined not to quit her till the
expected crisis was past. He gave the strictest orders for the whole
house to be kept quiet, and suffered no one in the room either to speak
Her sleep was long and heavy; yet, when she awoke, her sensibility was
evidently returned. She started, suddenly raised her head from the
pillow, looked round her, and called out, "where am I now?"
"Thank Heaven!" cried Henrietta, and was rushing forward, when Dr
Lyster, by a stern and angry look, compelled her again to take her
He then spoke to her himself, enquired how she did, and found her quite
Henrietta, who now doubted not her perfect recovery, wept as violently
for joy as she had before wept for grief; and Mary, in the same belief,
ran instantly to Delvile, eager to carry to him the first tidings that
her mistress had recovered her reason.
Delvile, in the utmost emotion, then returned to the chamber; but stood
at some distance from the bed, waiting Dr Lyster's permission to
Cecilia was quiet and composed, her recollection seemed restored, and
her intellects sound: hut she was faint and weak, and contentedly
silent, to avoid the effort of speaking.
Dr Lyster encouraged this stillness, and suffered not anyone, not even
Delvile, to advance to her. After a short time, however, she again, and
very calmly, began to talk to him. She now first knew him, and seemed
much surprised by his attendance. She could not tell, she said, what of
late had happened to her, nor could guess where she was, or by what
means she came into such a place. Dr Lyster desired her at present not
to think upon the subject, and promised her a full account of
everything, when she was stronger, and more fit for conversing.
This for a while silenced her. But, after a short pause, "Tell me," she
said, "Dr Lyster, have I no friend in this place but you?"
"Yes, yes, you have several friends here," answered the Doctor, "only I
keep them in order, lest they should hurry or disturb you."
She seemed much pleased by this speech; but soon after said, "You must
not, Doctor, keep them in order much longer, for the sight of them, I
think, would much revive me."
"Ah, Miss Beverley!" cried Henrietta, who could not now restrain
herself, "may not _I_, among the rest, come and speak to you?"
"Who is that?" said Cecilia, in a voice of pleasure, though very
feeble; "is it my ever-dear Henrietta?"
"Oh this is joy indeed!" cried she, fervently kissing her cheeks and
forehead, "joy that I never, never expected to have more!"
"Come, come," cried Dr Lyster, "here's enough of this; did I not do
well to keep such people off?"
"I believe you did," said Cecilia, faintly smiling; "my too kind
Henrietta, you must be more tranquil!"
"I will, I will indeed, madam!--my dear, dear Miss Beverley, I will
indeed!--now once you have owned me, and once again I hear your sweet
voice, I will do any thing, and every thing, for I am made happy for my
"Ah, sweet Henrietta!" cried Cecilia, giving her her hand, "you must
suppress these feelings, or our Doctor here will soon part us. But tell
me, Doctor, is there no one else that you can let me see?"
Delvile, who had listened to this scene in the unspeakable perturbation
of that hope which is kindled from the very ashes of despair, was now
springing forward; but Dr Lyster, fearful of the consequences, hastily
arose, and with a look and air not to be disputed, took hold of his
arm, and led him out of the room. He then represented to him strongly
the danger of agitating or disturbing her, and charged him to keep from
her sight till better able to bear it; assuring him at the same time
that he might now reasonably hope her recovery.
Delvile, lost in transport, could make no answer, but flew into his
arms, and almost madly embraced him; he then hastened out of sight to
pour forth fervent thanks, and hurrying back with equal speed, again
embraced the Doctor, and while his manly cheeks were burnt with tears
of joy, he could not yet articulate the glad tumult of his soul.
The worthy Dr Lyster, who heartily partook of his happiness, again
urged him to be discreet; and Delvile, no longer intractable and
desperate, gratefully concurred in whatever he commanded. Dr Lyster
then returned to Cecilia, and to relieve her mind from any uneasy
suspense, talked to her openly of Delvile, gave her to understand he
was acquainted with her marriage, and told her he had prohibited their
meeting till each was better able to support it.
Cecilia by this delay seemed half gratified, and half disappointed; but
the rest of the physicians, who had been summoned upon this happy
change, now appearing, the orders were yet more strictly enforced for
keeping her quiet.
She submitted, therefore, peaceably; and Delvile, whose gladdened heart
still throbbed with speechless rapture, contentedly watched at her
chamber door, and obeyed implicitly whatever was said to him.
She now visibly, and almost hourly grew better; and, in a short time,
her anxiety to know all that was passed, and by what means she became
so ill, and confined in a house of which she had not any knowledge,
obliged Dr Lyster to make himself master of these particulars, that he
might communicate them to her with a calmness that Delvile could not
Delvile himself, happy to be spared the bitter task of such a relation,
informed him all he knew of the story, and then entreated him to
narrate to her also the motives of his own strange, and he feared
unpardonable conduct, and the scenes which had followed their parting.
He came, he said, to England, ignorant of all that had past in his
absence, intending merely to wait upon his father, and communicate his
marriage, before he gave directions to his lawyer for the settlements
and preparations which were to precede its further publication. He
meant, also, to satisfy himself, of the real situation of Mr Monckton,
and then, after an interview with Cecilia, to have returned to his
mother, and waited at Nice till he might publicly claim his wife.
To this purpose he had written in his letter, which he meant to have
put in the Post-office in London himself; and he had but just alighted
from his chaise, when he met Ralph, Cecilia's servant, in the street.
Hastily stopping him, he enquired if he had left his place? "No,"
answered Ralph, "I am only come up to town with my lady."
"With your lady?" cried the astonished Delvile, is your lady then in
"Yes, sir, she is at Mrs Belfield's."
"At Mrs Belfield's?--is her daughter returned home?
"No, sir, we left her in the country."
He was then going on with a further account, but, in too much confusion
of mind to hear him Delvile abruptly wished him good night, and marched
on himself towards Belfield's.
The pleasure with which he would have heard that Cecilia was so near to
him, was totally lost in his perplexity to account for her journey. Her
letters had never hinted at such a purpose,--the news reached him only
by accident,--it was ten o'clock at night,--yet she was at Belfield's--
though the sister was away,--though the mother was professedly odious
to her!--In an instant, all he had formerly heard, all he had formerly
disregarded, rushed suddenly upon his memory, and he began to believe
he had been deluded, that his father was right, and that Belfield had
some strange and improper influence over her heart.
The suspicion was death to him; he drove it from him, he concluded the
whole was some error: his reason as powerfully as his tenderness
vindicated her innocence; and though he arrived at the house in much
disorder, he yet arrived with a firm persuasion of an honourable
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