Imatges de pÓgina
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of life.' "Well, Sir, all this only proves, that the intelligence may be a little premature. But now let me, Sir, sit down one minute or two, to recover my failing spirits, and then I'll tell you all I propose to do, and all I have to say, and that with as much brevity as I can, for fear neither

my head nor my heart should perform the parts I have been so long endeavouring to prevail upon them to perform.'

I sat down then, he taking the letter out of his pocket, and looking upon it again, with much vexation and anger in his countenance, and after a few tears and sobs, that would needs be so officious as to offer their services unbidden and undesired, to introduce what I had to say; I rose up, my feet trembling, as well as my knees ; which, however, leaning against the seats of the chairs, which made my bar, as my hand held by the back, tolerably supported me, I cleared my voice, wiped my eyes, and said.

You have all the excuses, dear Mr B., that a gentleman can have in the object of your present passion.' Present

passion, Pamela ! * Dear Sir, hear me out without interrupbution.---The Countess is a charming lady. She excels your

poor girl in all those outward graces of form, which your 4 kind fancy (more valued by me than the opinion of all the

world besides) had made you attribute to me. And she ha's all those additional advantages, as nobleness of birth, of alliance, and deportment, which I want, (happy for you, Sir, that

you had known her ladyship some months ago, before you disgraced yourself by the honours you have done me !) This therefore frees you from the aggravated crime of those, who prefer to their own ladies less amiable and less deserving persons; and I have not the sting which those must have, who are contemned and ill treated for the sake of their inferiors. Yet cannot the Countess love you better than your girl loves you, not even for your person, which must, I doubt, be her principal attachment; when I can

all noble and attracting to the outward eye as it is, that is the least consideration by far with me; no, Sir, it is your mind, your generous and beneficent mind, that is the principal object of my affection; and the pride I took in hoping that I might be an humble means, in the hands of Providence, to bless you hereafter as well as here, gave me more pleasure than all the blessings I reaped from your name or your fortune. Judge then, my dearest Mr B., what my grief and my disappointment must be! But I will not expostulate, I will not, because it must be to no purpose ; for

truly say,

could

my
fondness for

you,
and my

watchful duty to you, have kept you steady, I should not now have appeared before you in this solemn manner; and I know the charms of my rival are too powerful for me to contend with. Nothing but divine grace can touch your heart; and that I expect not, from the nature of the case, should be instantaneous. I will, therefore, Sir, dear as you are to me (-Don't look with such tender surprise upon me !) give up your person to my happier, to my worthier rival. For, since such is your will, and such seem to be your engagements, what avails it to me to oppose them? I have only to beg, therefore, that you will be so good as to permit me to go down to Kent, to my dear parents, who, with many more, are daily rejoicing in your favour and bounty. I will there,' (holding up my folded hands) pray for you every hour of my life ; and for every one who shall be dear to you, not excepting your charming Countess. I will never take your name into my lips, nor suffer any other in my hearing, but with reverence and gratitude, for the good I and mine have reaped at your hands; nor will I wish to be freed from

my

obli. gations to you, except you shall choose to be divorced from me; and if you should, I will give your wishes all the forwardness that I honourably can, with regard to my own character and yours, and that of your beloved baby. But you must give me something worth living for along with me; your Billy and mine ;-unless it is your desire to kill me quite ! and then, 'tis done, and nothing will stand in your happy Countess's

way,

if
you tear from

my arms my second earthly good after I am deprived of you my first. I will there, Sir, dedicate all my time to my first duties ; happier far, than once I could have hoped to be! And if, by any accident, and misunderstanding between you, you should part by consent, and you will have it so, my heart shall be ever yours, and my hopes shall be resumed of being an instrument still for your future good, and I will receive your returning ever-valued heart, as if nothing had happened, the moment I can be sure it will be wholly mine. For, think not, dear Sir, whatever be your notions of polygamy, that I will, were my life to depend upon it, consent to live with a gentleman, dear as, God is my witness,' (lifting up my tearful eyes) you are to me, who lives in what I cannot but think

open sin with another ! You know, Sir, and I appeal to you for the purity, and I will aver piety, of my motives, when I say this, that I would not; and as you do know this,

I cannot doubt, but my proposal will be agreeable to you both. And I beg of you, dear Sir, to take me at my word ; and don't let me be tortured, as I have been so many weeks, with such anguish of mind, that nothing but religious considerations can make supportable to me.

‘And are you in earnest, Pamela ?' coming to me, and folding me in his arms over the chair's back, the seat of which supported my trembling knees— Can you so easily part with me?'

• I can, Sir, and I will !-rather than divide my interest in you, knowingly, with any lady upon earth. But say not, however, can I part with you, Sir; it is you

that part with me; and tell me, Sir, tell me but what you had intended should become of me?'

• You talk to me, my dearest life, as if all you had heard against me was true ; and you would have me answer you, (would you ?) as if it was.

I want nothing to convince me, Sir, that the Countess loves you; you know the rest of my information; judge for me, what I can, what I ought to believe !-You know the rumours of the world concerning you : even I, who stay so much at home, and have not taken the least pains to find out my

wretchedness, nor to confirm it, since I knew it, have come to the hearing of it; and if you know the license taken with both your characters, and yet correspond so openly, must it not look to me, that you value not your honour in the world's eye, nor my lady hers? I told you, Sir, the answer she made to her uncle.'

•You told me, my dear, as you were told. Be tender of a lady's reputation for your own sake. No one is exempted from calumny; and even words said, and the occasion of saying them not known, may bear a very different construction from what they would have done, had the occasion been told.'

* This may be all true, Sir: I wish the lady would be as tender of her reputation as I would be, let her injure me in your affections as she will. But can you say, Sir, that there is nothing between you, that should not be according

my notions of virtue and honour, and according to your own, which I took pride in, before that fatal masquerade? You answer me not,' continued I; may

I not fairly presume you are not able to answer me as I wish to be answered? But come, dearest Sir,' (and I put my arms round his neck) ? let me not urge you too boldly. I will

to

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never forget your benefits and your past kindnesses to me. I have been a happy creature: no one, till within these few weeks, was ever so happy as I. I will love you still with a passion as ardent as ever I loved you. Absence cannot lessen such a love as mine: I am sure it cannot. I see your difficulties. You have gone too far to recede. If you can make it easy to your conscience, I will wait with patience my happier destiny; and I will wish to live, (if I can be convinced you wish me not to die) in order to pray

for

you, and to be a directress to the first education of my dearest baby. You sigh, dear Sir; repose your beloved face next to my fond heart. 'Tis all your own: and ever shall be, let it, or let it not, be worthy of the honour in your estimation. But yet, my dear Mr B., if one could as easily, in the prime of sensual youth, look twenty years forward, as one can twenty years backward, what an empty vanity, what a mere nothing, will be all those grosser satisfactions, that now give wings of desire to our debased appetites ! Motives of religion will have their due force upon your mind one day, I hope ; as, blessed be God, they have enabled me to talk to you on such a touching point (after infinite struggles, I own) with so much temper and resignation ; and then, my dearest Mr B., when we come to that last bed, from which the piety of our friends shall lift us, but from which we shall never be able to raise ourselves; for, dear Sir, your Count

you,

and your poor Pamela, must all come to this! -we shall find what it is will give us the true joy, and enable us to support the pangs of the dying hour.-Think you, my dearest Sir,' (and I pressed my lips to his forehead, as his head was reclined on my throbbing bosom,) that then, in that important moment, what now gives us the greatest pleasure, will have any part in our consideration, but as it may give us wo or comfort in the reflection ? But I will not, I will not, O best beloved of my soul, afflict you farther.Why should I thus sadden all your gaudy prospects? I have said enough to such a heart as yours, if divine grace touches it. And if not, all I can say will be of no avail - I will leave you therefore to that, and to your own reflections. And after giving you ten thousand thanks for your kind, your indulgent patience with me, I will only beg, that I may set out in a week for Kent, with my dear Billy ; that you will receive one letter at least, from me, of gratitude and blessings; it shall not be of upbraidings and exclamations. But my child you must not deny me; for I shall haunt, like

ess, and

his shadow, every place wherein you shall put my Billy, if you should be so unkind to deny him to me!

-And, if, more. over, you will permit me to have the dear Miss Goodwin with me, as you had almost given me room to hope, I will read over all the books of education, and digest them, as well as I am able, in order to send you my scheme, and to show you how fit I hope your indulgence, at least, will make you think me, of having two such precious trusts reposed in me!' I was silent, waiting in tears his answer.

But his generous heart was touched, and seemed to labour within him for expression. He came round to me at last, and took me in his arms. · Exalted creature !' said he ; • noble minded Pamela! Let no bar be put between us henceforth! No wonder, when one looks back to your first promising dawn of excellence, that your fuller day should thus irresistibly dazzle such weak eyes as mine. Whatever it costs me, and I have been inconsiderately led on by blind passion for an object too charming, but which I never thought equal to my Pamela, I will (for it is yet, I bless God, in my power) restore to your virtue a husband all your own.'

• Sir, Sir!' (and I should have sunk down with joy, had not his kind arms supported me) · what have you

said? -Can I be so happy as to behold you innocent as to deed ! God, of his infinite goodness, continue you both so!-And Oh! that the dear lady would make me as truly love her, for the

graces of her mind, as I admire her for the advantages of her person !

' • You are virtue itself, my dearest life; and from this moment I will reverence you as my tutelary angel. I shall behold you with awe, and implicitly give up myself to all your dictates : for what you say, and what you do, must be ever right.--But I will not, my dearest life, too lavishly promise, lest

you

should think it the sudden effects of passions thus movingly touched, and which may subside again, when the soul, as you observed in your own case, sinks to its former level ; but this I promise you, (and I hope you believe me, and will pardon the pain I have given you, which made me fear, more than once, that your head was affected, so uncommon, yet so like yourself, has been the manner of your acting) that I will break off a correspondence that has given you so much uneasiness: and my Pamela may believe,

, that if I can be as good as my word in this point, she will never more be in danger of any rival whatever.

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