Cecilia vol. 3
Frances (Fanny) Burney (Madame d'Arblay)
Part 7 out of 7
The door was open,--a chaise was at it in waiting,--Mrs Belfield was
listening in the passage; these appearances were strange, and encreased
his agitation. He asked for her son in a voice scarce audible,--she
told him he was engaged with a lady, and must not be disturbed.
That fatal answer, at a moment so big with the most horrible surmises,
was decisive: furiously, therefore, he forced himself past her, and
opened the door:--but when he saw them together,--the rest of the
family confessedly excluded, his rage turned to horror, and he could
hardly support himself.
"O Dr Lyster!" he continued, "ask of the sweet creature if these
circumstances offer any extenuation for the fatal jealousy which seized
me? never by myself while I live will it be forgiven, but she, perhaps,
who is all softness, all compassion, and all peace, may some time hence
think my sufferings almost equal to my offence."
He then proceeded in his narration.
When he had so peremptorily ordered her chaise to St James's-square, he
went back to the house, and desired Belfield to walk out with him. He
complied, and they were both silent till they came to a Coffee-house,
where they asked for a private room. The whole way they went, his
heart, secretly satisfied of the purity of Cecilia, smote him for the
situation in which he had left her; yet, having unfortunately gone so
far as to make his suspicions apparent, he thought it necessary to his
character that their abolition should be equally public.
When they were alone, "Belfield," he said, "to obviate any imputation
of impertinence in my enquiries, I deny not, what I presume you have
been told by herself, that I have the nearest interest in whatever
concerns the lady from whom we are just now parted: I must beg,
therefore, an explicit account of the purpose of your private
conversation with her."
"Mr Delvile," answered Belfield, with mingled candour and spirit, "I am
not commonly much disposed to answer enquiries thus cavalierly put to
me; yet here, as I find myself not the principal person concerned, I
think I am bound in justice to speak for the absent who is. I assure
you, therefore, most solemnly, that your interest in Miss Beverley I
never heard but by common report, that our being alone together was by
both of us undesigned and undesired, that the honour she did our house
in calling at it, was merely to acquaint my mother with my sister's
removal to Mrs Harrel's, and that the part which I had myself in her
condescension, was simply to be consulted upon a journey which she has
in contemplation to the South of France. And now, sir, having given you
this peaceable satisfaction, you will find me extremely at your service
to offer any other."
Delvile instantly held out his hand to him; "What you assert," he said,
"upon your honour, requires no other testimony. Your gallantry and your
probity are equally well known to me; with either, therefore, I am
content, and by no means require the intervention of both."
They then parted; and now, his doubts removed, and his punctilio
satisfied, he flew to St James's-square, to entreat the forgiveness of
Cecilia for the alarm he had occasioned her, and to hear the reason of
her sudden journey, and change of measures. But when he came there, to
find that his father, whom he had concluded was at Delvile Castle, was
in the house, while Cecilia had not even enquired for him at the door,
--"Oh let me not," he continued, "even to myself, let me not trace the
agony of that moment!--where to seek her I knew not, why she was in
London I could not divine, for what purpose she had given the postilion
a new direction I could form no idea. Yet it appeared that she wished
to avoid me, and once more, in the frenzy of my disappointment, I
supposed Belfield a party in her concealment. Again, therefore, I
sought him,--at his own house,--at the coffee-house where I had left
him,--in vain, wherever I came, I just missed him, for, hearing of my
search, he went with equal restlessness, from place to place to meet
me. I rejoice we both failed; a repetition of my enquiries in my then
irritable state, must inevitably have provoked the most fatal
"I will not dwell upon the scenes that followed,--my laborious search,
my fruitless wanderings, the distraction of my suspense, the excess of
my despair!--even Belfield, the fiery Belfield, when I met with him the
next day, was so much touched by my wretchedness, that he bore with all
my injustice; feeling, noble young man! never will I lose the
remembrance of his high-souled patience.
"And now, Dr Lyster, go to my Cecilia; tell her this tale, and try, for
you have skill sufficient, to soften, yet not wound her with my
sufferings. If then she can bear to see me, to bless me with the sound
of her sweet voice, no longer at war with her intellects, to hold out
to me her loved hand, in token of peace and forgiveness.--Oh, Dr
Lyster! preserver of _my_ life in hers! give to me but that exquisite
moment, and every past evil will be for ever obliterated!"
"You must be calmer, Sir," said the Doctor, "before I make the attempt.
These heroicks are mighty well for sound health, and strong nerves, but
they will not do for an invalide."
He went, however, to Cecilia, and gave her this narration, suppressing
whatever he feared would most affect her, and judiciously enlivening
the whole by his strictures. Cecilia was much easier for this removal
of her perplexities, and, as her anguish and her terror had been
unmixed with resentment, she had now no desire but to reconcile Delvile
Dr Lyster, however, by his friendly authority, obliged her for some
time to be content with this relation; but when she grew better, her
impatience became stronger, and he feared opposition would be as
hurtful as compliance.
Delvile, therefore, was now admitted; yet slowly and with trepidation
he advanced, terrified for her, and fearful of himself, filled with
remorse for the injuries she had sustained, and impressed with grief
and horror to behold her so ill and altered.
Supported by pillows, she sat almost upright. The moment she saw him,
she attempted to bend forward and welcome him, calling out in a tone of
pleasure, though faintly, "Ah! dearest Delvile! is it you?" but too
weak for the effort she had made, she sunk back upon her pillow, pale,
trembling, and disordered.
Dr Lyster would then have interfered to postpone their further
conversation; but Delvile was no longer master of himself or his
passions: he darted forward, and kneeling at the bed side, "Sweet
injured excellence!" he cried, "wife of my heart! sole object of my
chosen affection! dost thou yet live? do I hear thy loved voice?--do I
see thee again?--art thou my Cecilia? and have I indeed not lost thee?"
then regarding her more fixedly, "Alas," he cried, "art thou indeed my
Cecilia! so pale, so emaciated!--Oh suffering angel! and couldst thou
then call upon Delvile, the guilty, but heart-broken Delvile, thy
destroyer, thy murderer, and yet not call to execrate him?"
Cecilia, extremely affected, could not utter a word; she held out to
him her hand, she looked at him with gentleness and kindness, but tears
started into her eyes, and trickled in large drops down her colourless
"Angelic creature!" cried Delvile, his own tears overflowing, while he
pressed to his lips the kind token of her pardon, "can you give to me
again a hand so ill deserved? can you look with such compassion on the
author of your woes? on the wretch, who for an instant could doubt the
purity of a mind so seraphic!"
"Ah, Delvile!" cried she, a little reviving, "think no more of what is
past!--to see you,--to be yours,--drives all evil from my remembrance!"
"I am not worthy this joy!" cried he, rising, kneeling, and rising
again; "I know not how to sustain it! a forgiveness such as this,--
when I believed You must hate me for ever! when repulse and aversion
were all I dared expect,--when my own inhumanity had bereft thee of thy
reason,--when the grave, the pitiless grave, was already open to
"Too kind, too feeling Delvile!" cried the penetrated Cecilia, "relieve
your loaded heart from these bitter recollections; mine is lightened
already,--lightened, I think, of every thing but its affection for
_you_!" "Oh words of transport and extacy!" cried the enraptured
Delvile, "oh partner of my life! friend, solace, darling of my bosom!
that so lately I thought expiring! that I folded to my bleeding heart
in the agony of eternal separation!"--
"Come away, Sir, come away," cried Dr Lyster, who now saw that Cecilia
was greatly agitated, "I will not be answerable for the continuation of
this scene;" and taking him by the arm, he awakened him from his
frantic rapture, by assuring him she would faint, and forced him away
Soon after he was gone, and Cecilia became more tranquil, Henrietta,
who had wept with bitterness in a corner of the room during this scene,
approached her, and, with an attempted smile, though in a voice hardly
audible, said, "Ah, Miss Beverley, you will, at last, then be happy!
happy as all your goodness deserves. And I am sure I should rejoice in
it if I was to die to make you happier!"
Cecilia, who but too well knew her full meaning, tenderly embraced her,
but was prevented by Dr Lyster from entering into any discourse with
The first meeting, however, with Delvile being over, the second was far
more quiet, and in a very short time, he would scarcely quit her a
moment, Cecilia herself receiving from his sight a pleasure too great
for denial, yet too serene for danger.
The worthy Dr Lyster, finding her prospect of recovery thus fair,
prepared for leaving London: but, equally desirous to do good out of
his profession as in it, he first, at the request of Delvile, waited
upon his father, to acquaint him with his present situation, solicit
his directions for his future proceedings, and endeavour to negociate a
Mr Delvile, to whose proud heart social joy could find no avenue, was
yet touched most sensibly by the restoration of Cecilia. Neither his
dignity nor his displeasure had been able to repress remorse, a feeling
to which, with all his foibles, he had not been accustomed. The view of
her distraction had dwelt upon his imagination, the despondency of his
son had struck him with fear and horror. He had been haunted by self
reproach, and pursued by vain regret; and those concessions he had
refused to tenderness and entreaty, he now willingly accorded to change
repentance for tranquility. He sent instantly for his son, whom even
with tears he embraced, and felt his own peace restored as he
pronounced his forgiveness.
New, however, to kindness, he retained it not long, and a stranger to
generosity, he knew not how to make her welcome: the extinction of his
remorse abated his compassion for Cecilia, and when solicited to
receive her, he revived the charges of Mr Monckton.
Cecilia, informed of this, determined to write to that gentleman
herself, whose long and painful illness, joined to his irrecoverable
loss of her, she now hoped might prevail with him to make reparation
for the injuries he had done her.
_To Mr Monckton_.
I write not, Sir, to upbraid you; the woes which have followed your ill
offices, and which you may some time hear, will render my reproaches
superfluous. I write but to beseech that what is past may content you;
and that, however, while I was single, you chose to misrepresent me to
the Delvile family, you will have so much honour, since I am now become
one of it, as to acknowledge my innocence of the crimes laid to my
In remembrance of my former long friendship, I send you my good wishes;
and in consideration of my hopes from your recantation, I send you,
Sir, if you think it worth acceptance, my forgiveness.
Mr Monckton, after many long and painful struggles between useless
rage, and involuntary remorse, at length sent the following answer.
_To Mrs Mortimer Delvile_.
Those who could ever believe you guilty, must have been eager to think
you so. I meant but your welfare at all times, and to have saved you
from a connection I never thought equal to your merit. I am grieved,
but not surprised, to hear of your injuries; from the alliance you have
formed, nothing else could be expected: if my testimony to your
innocence can, however, serve to mitigate them, I scruple not to
declare I believe it without taint.
* * * * *
Delvile sent by Dr Lyster this letter to his father, whose rage at the
detection of the perfidy which had deceived him, was yet inferior to
what he felt that his family was mentioned so injuriously.
His conference with Dr Lyster was long and painful, but decisive: that
sagacious and friendly man knew well how to work upon, his passions,
and so effectually awakened them by representing the disgrace of his
own family from the present situation of Cecilia, that before he
quitted his house he was authorised to invite her to remove to it.
When he returned from his embassy, he found Delvile in her room, and
each waiting with impatience the event of his negociation.
The Doctor with much alacrity gave Cecilia the invitation with which he
had been charged; but Delvile, jealous for her dignity, was angry and
dissatisfied his father brought it not himself, and exclaimed with much
mortification, "Is this all the grace accorded me?"
"Patience, patience, Sir," answered the Doctor; "when you have thwarted
any body in their first hope and ambition, do you expect they will send
you their compliments and many thanks for the disappointment? Pray let
the good gentleman have his way in some little matters, since you have
taken such effectual care to put out of his reach the power of having
it in greater."
"O far from starting obstacles," cried Cecilia, "let us solicit a
reconciliation with whatever concessions he may require. The misery of
DISOBEDIENCE we have but too fatally experienced; and thinking as we
think of filial ties and parental claims, how can we ever hope
happiness till forgiven and taken into favour?"
"True, my Cecilia," answered Delvile, "and generous and condescending
as true; and if _you_ can thus sweetly comply, I will gratefully
forbear making any opposition. Too much already have you suffered from
the impetuosity of my temper, but I will try to curb it in future by
the remembrance of your injuries."
"The whole of this unfortunate business," said Dr Lyster, "has been the
result of PRIDE and PREJUDICE. Your uncle, the Dean, began it, by his
arbitrary will, as if an ordinance of his own could arrest the course
of nature! and as if _he_ had power to keep alive, by the loan of a
name, a family in the male branch already extinct. Your father, Mr
Mortimer, continued it with the same self-partiality, preferring the
wretched gratification of tickling his ear with a favourite sound, to
the solid happiness of his son with a rich and deserving wife. Yet
this, however, remember; if to PRIDE and PREJUDICE you owe your
miseries, so wonderfully is good and evil balanced, that to PRIDE and
PREJUDICE you will also owe their termination: for all that I could say
to Mr Delvile, either of reasoning or entreaty,--and I said all I could
suggest, and I suggested all a man need wish to hear,--was totally
thrown away, till I pointed out to him his _own_ disgrace, in having a
_daughter-in-law_ immured in these mean lodgings!
"Thus, my dear young lady, the terror which drove you to this house,
and the sufferings which have confined you in it, will prove, in the
event, the source of your future peace: for when all my best rhetorick
failed to melt Mr Delvile, I instantly brought him to terms by coupling
his name with a pawnbroker's! And he could not with more disgust hear
his son called Mr Beverley, than think of his son's wife when he hears
of the _Three Blue Balls_! Thus the same passions, taking but different
directions, _do_ mischief and _cure_ it alternately.
"Such, my good young friends, is the MORAL of your calamities. You have
all, in my opinion, been strangely at cross purposes, and trifled, no
one knows why, with the first blessings of life. My only hope is that
now, having among you thrown away its luxuries, you will have known
enough of misery to be glad to keep its necessaries."
This excellent man was yet prevailed upon by Delvile to stay and assist
in removing the feeble Cecilia to St James's-square.
Henrietta, for whom Mr Arnott's equipage and servants had still
remained in town, was then, though with much difficulty, persuaded to
go back to Suffolk: but Cecilia, however fond of her society, was too
sensible of the danger and impropriety of her present situation, to
receive from it any pleasure.
Mr Delvile's reception of Cecilia was formal and cold: yet, as she now
appeared publicly in the character of his son's wife, the best
apartment in his house had been prepared for her use, his domestics
were instructed to wait upon her with the utmost respect, and Lady
Honoria Pemberton, who was accidentally in town, offered from
curiosity, what Mr Delvile accepted from parade, to be herself in St
James's-square, in order to do honour to his daughter-in-law's first
When Cecilia was a little recovered from the shock of the first
interview, and the fatigue of her removal, the anxious Mortimer would
instantly have had her conveyed to her own apartment; but, willing to
exert herself, and hoping to oblige Mr Delvile, she declared she was
well able to remain some time longer in the drawing-room.
"My good friends," said Dr Lyster, "in the course of my long practice,
I have found it impossible to study the human frame, without a little
studying the human mind; and from all that I have yet been able to make
out, either by observation, reflection, or comparison, it appears to me
at this moment, that Mr Mortimer Delvile has got the best wife, and
that you, Sir, have here the most faultless daughter-in-law, that any
husband or any father in the three kingdoms belonging to his Majesty
can either have or desire."
Cecilia smiled; Mortimer looked his delighted concurrence; Mr Delvile
forced himself to make a stiff inclination of the head; and Lady
Honoria gaily exclaimed, "Dr Lyster, when you say the _best_ and the
most _faultless_, you should always add the rest of the company
"Upon my word," cried the Doctor, "I beg your ladyship's pardon; but
there is a certain unguarded warmth comes across a man now and then,
that drives _etiquette_ out of his head, and makes him speak truth
before he well knows where he is."
"O terrible!" cried she, "this is sinking deeper and deeper. I had
hoped the town air would have taught you better things; but I find you
have visited at Delvile Castle till you are fit for no other place."
"Whoever, Lady Honoria," said Mr Delvile, much offended, "is fit for
Delvile Castle, must be fit for every other place; though every other
place may by no means be fit for him."
"O yes, Sir," cried she, giddily, "every possible place will be fit for
him, if he can once bear with that. Don't you think so, Dr Lyster?"
"Why, when a man has the honour to see your ladyship," answered he,
good-humouredly, "he is apt to think too much of the person, to care
about the place."
"Come, I begin to have some hopes of you," cried she, "for I see, for a
Doctor, you have really a very pretty notion of a compliment: only you
have one great fault still; you look the whole time as if you said it
for a joke."
"Why, in fact, madam, when a man has been a plain dealer both in word
and look for upwards of fifty years, 'tis expecting too quick a
reformation to demand ductility of voice and eye from him at a blow.
However, give me but a little time and a little encouragement, and,
with such a tutress, 'twill be hard if I do not, in a very few lessons,
learn the right method of seasoning a simper, and the newest fashion of
twisting words from meaning."
"But pray," cried she, "upon those occasions, always remember to look
serious. Nothing sets off a compliment so much as a long face. If you
are tempted to an unseasonable laugh, think of Delvile Castle; 'tis an
expedient I commonly make use of myself when I am afraid of being too
frisky: and it always succeeds, for the very recollection of it gives
me the head-ache in a moment. Upon my word, Mr Delvile, you must have
the constitution of five men, to have kept such good health, after
living so long at that horrible place. You can't imagine how you've
surprised me, for I have regularly expected to hear of your death at
the end of every summer: and, I assure you, once, I was very near
"The estate which descends to a man from his own ancestors, Lady
Honoria," answered Mr Delvile, "will seldom be apt to injure his
health, if he is conscious of committing no misdemeanour which has
degraded their memory."
"How vastly odious this new father of yours is!" said Lady Honoria, in
a whisper to Cecilia; "what could ever induce you to give up your
charming estate for the sake of coming into this fusty old family! I
would really advise you to have your marriage annulled. You have only,
you know, to take an oath that you were forcibly run away with; and as
you are an Heiress, and the Delviles are all so violent, it will easily
be credited. And then, as soon as you are at liberty, I would advise
you to marry my little Lord Derford."
"Would you only, then," said Cecilia, "have me regain my freedom in
order to part with it?"
"Certainly," answered Lady Honoria, "for you can do nothing at all
without being married; a single woman is a thousand times more shackled
than a wife; for she is accountable to every body; and a wife, you
know, has nothing to do but just to manage her husband."
"And that," said Cecilia, smiling, "you consider as a trifle?"
"Yes, if you do but marry a man you don't care for."
"You are right, then, indeed, to recommend to me my Lord Derford!"
"O yes, he will make the prettiest husband in the world; you may fly
about yourself as wild as a lark, and keep him the whole time as tame
as a jack-daw: and though he may complain of you to your friends, he
will never have the courage to find fault to your face. But as to
Mortimer, you will not be able to govern him as long as you live; for
the moment you have put him upon the fret, you'll fall into the dumps
yourself, hold out your hand to him, and, losing the opportunity of
gaining some material point, make up at the first soft word."
"You think, then, the quarrel more amusing than the reconciliation?"
"O, a thousand times! for while you are quarrelling, you may say any
thing, and demand any thing, but when you are reconciled, you ought to
behave pretty, and seem contented."
"Those who presume to have any pretensions to your ladyship," said
Cecilia, "would be made happy indeed should they hear your principles!"
"O, it would not signify at all," answered she, "for one's fathers, and
uncles, and those sort of people, always make connexions for one, and
not a creature thinks of our principles, till they find them out by our
conduct: and nobody can possibly do that till we are married, for they
give us no power beforehand. The men know nothing of us in the world
while we are single, but how we can dance a minuet, or play a lesson
upon the harpsichord."
"And what else," said Mr Delvile, who advanced, and heard this last
speech, "need a young lady of rank desire to be known for? your
ladyship surely would not have her degrade herself by studying like an
artist or professor?"
"O no, Sir, I would not have her study at all; it's mighty well for
children, but really after sixteen, and when one is come out, one has
quite fatigue enough in dressing, and going to public places, and
ordering new things, without all that torment of first and second
position, and E upon the first line, and F upon the first, space!"
"Your ladyship must, however, pardon me for hinting," said Mr Delvile,
"that a young lady of condition, who has a proper sense of her dignity,
cannot be seen too rarely, or known too little."
"O but I hate dignity!" cried she carelessly, "for it's the dullest
thing in the world. I always thought it was owing to that you were so
little amusing;--really I beg your pardon, Sir, I meant to say so
"I can easily credit that your ladyship spoke hastily," answered he,
highly piqued, "for I believe, indeed, a person of a family such as
mine, will hardly be supposed to have come into the world for the
office of amusing it!"
"O no, Sir," cried she, with pretended innocence, "nobody, I am sure,
ever saw you with such a thought." Then, turning to Cecilia, she added
in a whisper, "You cannot imagine, my dear Mrs Mortimer, how I detest
this old cousin of mine! Now pray tell me honestly if you don't hate
"I hope," said Cecilia, "to have no reason."
"Lord, how you are always upon your guard! If I were half as cautious,
I should die of the vapours in a month; the only thing that keeps me at
all alive, is now and then making people angry; for the folks at our
house let me go out so seldom, and then send me with such stupid old
chaperons, that giving them a little torment is really the only
entertainment I can procure myself. O--but I had almost forgot to tell
you a most delightful thing!"
"What is it?"
"Why you must know I have the greatest hopes in the world that my
father will quarrel with old Mr Delvile!"
"And is that such a delightful thing!"
"O yes; I have lived upon the very idea this fortnight; for then, you
know, they'll both be in a passion, and I shall see which of them looks
"When Lady Honoria whispers," cried Mortimer, "I always suspect some
"No indeed," answered her ladyship, "I was merely congratulating Mrs
Mortimer about her marriage. Though really, upon second thoughts, I
don't know whether I should not rather condole with her, for I have
long been convinced she has a prodigious antipathy to you. I saw it the
whole time I was at Delvile Castle, where she used to change colour at
the very sound of your name; a symptom I never perceived when I talked
to her of my Lord Derford, who would certainly have made her a thousand
times a better husband."
"If you mean on account of his title, Lady Honoria," said Mr Delvile;
"your ladyship must be strangely forgetful of the connections of your
family, not to remember that Mortimer, after the death of his uncle and
myself, must inevitably inherit one far more honourable than a new-
sprung-up family, like my Lord Ernolf's, could offer."
"Yes, Sir; but then, you know, she would have kept her estate, which
would have been a vastly better thing than an old pedigree of new
relations. Besides, I don't find that any body cares for the noble
blood of the Delviles but themselves; and if she had kept her fortune,
every body, I fancy, would have cared for _that_."
"Every body, then," said Mr Delvile, "must be highly mercenary and
ignoble, or the blood of an ancient and honourable house, would be
thought contaminated by the most distant hint of so degrading a
"Dear Sir, what should we all do with birth if it was not for wealth?
it would neither take us to Ranelagh nor the Opera; nor buy us caps nor
wigs, nor supply us with dinners nor bouquets."
"Caps and wigs, dinners and bouquets!" interrupted Mr Delvile; "your
ladyship's estimate of wealth is really extremely minute."
"Why, you know, Sir, as to caps and wigs, they are very serious things,
for we should look mighty droll figures to go about bare-headed; and
as to dinners, how would the Delviles have lasted all these thousand
centuries if they had disdained eating them?"
"Whatever may be your ladyship's satisfaction," said Mr Delvile,
angrily, "in depreciating a house that has the honour of being nearly
allied with your own, you will not, I hope at least, instruct this
lady," turning to Cecilia, "to adopt a similar contempt of its
antiquity and dignity."
"This lady," cried Mortimer, "will at least, by condescending to become
one of it, secure us from any danger that such contempt may spread
"Let me but," said Cecilia, looking gratefully at him, "be as secure
from exciting as I am from feeling contempt, and what can I have to
"Good and excellent young lady!" said Dr Lyster, "the first of
blessings indeed is yours in the temperance of your own mind. When you
began your career in life, you appeared to us short-sighted mortals, to
possess more than your share of the good things of this world; such a
union of riches, beauty, independence, talents, education and virtue,
seemed a monopoly to raise general envy and discontent; but mark with
what scrupulous exactness the good and bad is ever balanced! You have
had a thousand sorrows to which those who have looked up to you have
been strangers, and for which not all the advantages you possess have
been equivalent. There is evidently throughout this world, in things as
well as persons, a levelling principle, at war with pre-eminence, and
destructive of perfection."
"Ah!" cried Mortimer, in a low voice to Cecilia, "how much higher must
we all rise, or how much lower must you fall, ere any levelling
principle will approximate us with YOU!"
He then entreated her to spare her strength and spirits by returning to
her own apartment, and the conversation was broken up.
"Pray permit me, Mrs Mortimer," cried Lady Honoria, in taking leave,
"to beg that the first guest you invite to Delvile Castle may be me.
You know my partiality to it already. I shall be particularly happy in
waiting upon you in tempestuous weather! We can all stroll out
together, you know, very sociably; and I sha'n't be much in your way,
for if there should happen to be a storm, you can easily lodge me under
some great tree, and while you amuse yourselves with a _tete-a-tete_,
give me the indulgence of my own reflections. I am vastly fond of
thinking, and being alone, you know,--especially in thunder and
She then ran away; and they all separated: Cecilia was conveyed up
stairs, and the worthy Dr Lyster, loaded with acknowledgments of every
kind, set out for the country.
Cecilia, still weak, and much emaciated, for some time lived almost
wholly in her own room, where the grateful and solicitous attendance of
Mortimer, alleviated the pain both of her illness and confinement: but
as soon as her health permitted travelling, he hastened with her
Here tranquility once more made its abode the heart of Cecilia; that
heart so long torn with anguish, suspense and horrour! Mrs Delvile
received her with the most rapturous fondness, and the impression of
her sorrows gradually wore away, from her kind and maternal cares, and
from the watchful affection and delighted tenderness of her son.
The Egglestons now took entire possession of her estate, and Delvile,
at her entreaty, forbore shewing any personal resentment of their
conduct, and put into the hands of a lawyer the arrangement of the
They continued abroad some months, and the health of Mrs Delvile was
tolerably re-established. They were then summoned home by the death of
Lord Delvile, who bequeathed to his nephew Mortimer his town house, and
whatever of his estate was not annexed to his title, which necessarily
devolved to his brother.
The sister of Mrs Delvile, a woman of high spirit and strong passions,
lived not long after him; but having, in her latter days, intimately
connected herself with Cecilia, she was so much charmed with her
character, and so much dazzled by her admiration of the extraordinary
sacrifice she had made, that, in a fit of sudden enthusiasm, she
altered her will, to leave to her, and to her sole disposal, the
fortune which, almost from his infancy, she had destined for her
nephew. Cecilia, astonished and penetrated, opposed the alteration; but
even her sister, now Lady Delvile, to whom she daily became dearer,
earnestly supported it; while Mortimer, delighted to restore to her
through his own family, any part of that power and independence of
which her generous and pure regard for himself had deprived her, was
absolute in refusing that the deed should be revoked.
Cecilia, from this flattering transaction, received a further
conviction of the malignant falsehood of Mr Monckton, who had always
represented to her the whole of the Delvile family as equally poor in
their circumstances, and illiberal in their minds. The strong spirit of
active benevolence which had ever marked her character, was now again
displayed, though no longer, as hitherto, unbounded. She had learnt the
error of profusion, even in charity and beneficence; and she had a
motive for oeconomy, in her animated affection for Mortimer.
She soon sent for Albany, whose surprise that she still existed, and
whose rapture at her recovered prosperity, now threatened his senses
from the tumult of his joy, with nearly the same danger they had lately
been menaced by terror. But though her donations were circumscribed by
prudence, and their objects were selected with discrimination, she gave
to herself all her former benevolent pleasure, in solacing his
afflictions, while she softened his asperity, by restoring to him his
favourite office of being her almoner and monitor.
She next sent to her own pensioners, relieved those distresses which
her sudden absence had occasioned, and renewed and continued the
salaries she had allowed them. All who had nourished reasonable
expectations from her bounty she remembered, though she raised no new
claimants but with oeconomy and circumspection. But neither Albany nor
the old pensioners felt the satisfaction of Mortimer, who saw with new
wonder the virtues of her mind, and whose admiration of her
excellencies, made his gratitude perpetual for the happiness of his
The tender-hearted Henrietta, in returning to her new friends, gave
way, with artless openness, to the violence of untamed grief; but
finding Mr Arnott as wretched as herself, the sympathy Cecilia had
foreseen soon endeared them to each other, while the little interest
taken in either by Mrs Harrel, made them almost inseparable companions.
Mrs Harrel, wearied by their melancholy, and sick of retirement, took
the earliest opportunity that was offered her of changing her
situation; she married very soon a man of fortune in the neighbourhood,
and, quickly forgetting all the past, thoughtlessly began the world
again, with new hopes, new connections,--new equipages and new
Henrietta was then obliged to go again to her mother, where, though
deprived of all the indulgencies to which she was now become familiar,
she was not more hurt by the separation than Mr Arnott. So sad and so
solitary his house seemed in her absence, that he soon followed her to
town, and returned not till he carried her back its mistress. And there
the gentle gratitude of her soft and feeling heart, engaged from the
worthy Mr Arnott the tenderest affection, and, in time, healed the
wound of his early and hopeless passion.
The injudicious, the volatile, yet noble-minded Belfield, to whose
mutable and enterprising disposition life seemed always rather
beginning than progressive, roved from employment to employment, and
from public life to retirement, soured with the world, and discontented
with himself, till vanquished, at length, by the constant friendship of
Delvile, he consented to accept his good offices in again entering the
army; and, being fortunately ordered out upon foreign service, his
hopes were revived by ambition, and his prospects were brightened by a
view of future honour.
The wretched Monckton, dupe of his own cunning and artifices, still
lived in lingering misery, doubtful which was most acute, the pain of
his wound and confinement, or of his defeat and disappointment. Led on
by a vain belief that he had parts to conquer all difficulties, he had
indulged without restraint a passion in which interest was seconded by
inclination. Allured by such fascinating powers, he shortly suffered
nothing to stop his course; and though when he began his career he
would have started at the mention of actual dishonour, long before it
was concluded, neither treachery nor perjury were regarded by him as
All fear of failing was lost in vanity, all sense of probity was sunk
in interest, all scruples of conscience were left behind by the heat of
the chace. Yet the unforeseen and melancholy catastrophe of his long
arts, illustrated in his despite what his principles had obscured, that
even in worldly pursuits where fraud out-runs integrity, failure joins
dishonour to loss, and disappointment excites triumph instead of pity.
The upright mind of Cecilia, her purity, her virtue, and the moderation
of her wishes, gave to her in the warm affection of Lady Delvile, and
the unremitting fondness of Mortimer, all the happiness human life
seems capable of receiving:--yet human it was, and as such imperfect!
she knew that, at times, the whole family must murmur at her loss of
fortune, and at times she murmured herself to be thus portionless, tho'
an HEIRESS. Rationally, however, she surveyed the world at large, and
finding that of the few who had any happiness, there were none without
some misery, she checked the rising sigh of repining mortality, and,
grateful with general felicity, bore partial evil with chearfullest
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