Imatges de pÓgina

Why did I accuse Olivia of being severe, or what did the accusation mean? What were my views ? From the tumultuous state of my emotions, I could not disguise to myself that I had an affection for her: but had she ever intimated an affection for me? Was the passion that devoured me rational ? She was of a wealthy family : of the provision her father had made for her I was ignorant; but I knew that her expectations from the aunt, said to be now dying, and from others of her kindred, were great. Was I prepared to accept favours, make myself a dependent, and be subservient to the unfeeling caprice of Hector, or any other proud and ignorant relation? Did not such people esteem wealth as the test and the measure of worth? What counterpoise had I, but sanguine hopes ? of the probable fallacy of which I had already received strong proofs ; and which did not, in the pictures that fancy at present drew, burst upon me with those bright


and vivid flashes that had lately made them so alluring. My passions and propensities all led me to seek the power of conferring benefits, controlling folly, and of being the champion of merit, and the rewarder of virtue. Ought I not either to renounce Olivia, or to render myself in every respect her equal; and to disdain the degrading insolence with which any pretensions of mine would otherwise be received. Had I no reason to fear that Olivia herself was a little influenced by personal considerations ? Would she have been quite so ready to disapprove, had the advantages of fortune been on my side ? Was this inferiority entirely disregarded by her ? The doubt was grating, but pertinaciously intrusive. Would not any proposal froin me be treated with the most sovereign contempt, if not by her, by Hector and her other relations ? Why then did I think of her ? It was but a very few days since the wealth and power that should have raised me,


A 2

far above the sphere of the Mowbray family, were supposed to be within my grasp. How painful was the distance at which they now appeared! My present debility was felt with intolerable impatience. To love and to be unable to heap happiness on the object beloved, was a thought that assailed me with ex. cruciating sensations!

At this very period another event happened, that did not contribute to enliven the prospect,

I had lately received intelligence from my mother, the tenor of which was that she dreaded the approach of poverty ; and about a fortnight after the departure of Olivia, a letter came, by which I learned that lawyer Thornby had refused all further supplies, affirming that my grandfather's effects were entirely exhausted ; except the thousand pounds left by the rector at any own disposal. Of this I had already received fifty pounds; and my mother urgently declared in her letter that, if I did not apply part of the remainder for her support, she should be left in the decline of life (the approach of which she was now very ready to acknowledge) in imminent danger of want; nay, so as perhaps even to come upon the parish. My pride revolted at the very thought ; and I was angry with her for having conceived or committed it to paper.


Should I suffer my mother to want ? No. To become a pauper? My heart spurned at the base suggestion. I had been several years under the tuition of the rector, and had acquired more than was good of his family dignity. The picture before me was not a pleasing one, but I would subject myself to any hardships, ay would starve on a grain a day, rather than abandon my mother. My motives were mixed; some wrong some right,

This affair nade ine resolve once more to visit iny native country, and my re

A 3


held me.

solution was immediately put in practice. It was a relief, though of a painful kind, to the more painful state in which iny undecided thoughts at that moment

The man whose contradictory impulses goad him in a thousand different directions, without permitting him to pursue any one, is happy to be put in motion.

My arrival was unexpected: my mo. ther, who was but little inclined to accuse herself, received ine with much more satisfaction than embarrassment.

The behaviour of Thornby was not quite so self-complacent. My questions, concerning the receipt and disbursement of my grandfather's property, were sometimes answered with the affectation of open honesty; and at others with petulant ambiguity, so that I knew not whether he meant to shun or to provoke inquiry. 'Executorship was a very thank• less office; it involved a man in continu. al trouble, for which he could receive


« AnteriorContinua »