« ПредишнаНапред »
dened; “ for, otherwise, how would it be possible to resist her, or escape vengeance from you for doing so ? Pray observe the justice of all this. Your blood is resolved to be up one way or the other. If I am a rival, I must fight for being so; if not, for not doing proper homage to her charms. It is well that my Lord De Clifford is not Lord Herbert of Cherbury, and that chivalry is over.
I should else fare but ill. However, you are fond of Waller, I believe, and sometimes relish his delicate thoughts and nice little turns. Perhaps you may remember Sacharissa and Amoret?
· When gentle Amoret complains,
“ Now pray, may not a Sacharissa prevent me from thinking more of Bertha than if she were an Amoret ? ”
I need not say that I endured—nay, was pleased at this raillery, because it assured me so pointedly that my fears were without cause. Yet I would have given something to have been told the reasons, best known to himself, which clothed him in such armour of proof against the power of Bertha; in short, whether he had, and who was his Sacharissa. As he did not, however, offer to tell me, I did not presume to ask him, thinking a time might come when I should discover, or he reveal it.
We continued our walk, therefore, in renewed amity, for I was now convinced that the expostu
lations he urged, on the madness and danger of my headlong indulgence of delight in being near Bertha, were all founded in real and pure regard. And, truth to say, when he, in more free and forcible language than he had ever yet used, represented how visionary it was to suppose that a person who had his bread to seek by long dependance upon the rich and great, could come forward like a rich and great one himself, and expect to be treated as such, either by father or daughter, I was without power to reply.
“Mr. Hastings,” said he, “constitutionally proud, though also naturally pious, and softened by his present affliction, seeks to make up to you the injustice of his son. He has not a suspicion that, in doing so, he is setting fire to a train, which he does not think exists. And as to Bertha herself, with all her softness, has she not, in her resistance to her brother's imputations, given sufficient proof that she is not a person to be lightly thought of, either on the score of dignity or prudence ? The very frankness with which she expresses her esteem for you, and her sense of obligation for the interest you have taken, demonstrate at once how totally free she is from all thought of your attachment, much more of her returning it in the slightest degree. This very visit, planned between father and daughter, to shew their sense of your attention to them on the most melancholy occasion of their lives, shews also how totally free both of them are from any notion of the feeling which animates you, or of her approving it, should it ever be known.”
Devoted lover as I was, this sensible representation, I own, sank deep within me, and blighted all those little buds of hope and joy which, I knew not why, I had suffered to charm me, in consequence of finding myself, by express invitation, once more on this happy soil. That it was the direct contrary of what I had in my sanguine temper thought it, fully appeared from Granville's forcible remark upon it. I owned it so to him, and asked his advice upon the conduct to pursue.
Fly,” said he, “ if it were possible, this instant ; but as that cannot well be, to-morrow. To remain, is to taste of a poisoned banquet-to drink of the goblet of Comus—to be lost in the garden of Armida. Your excuse is easy: the necessity of returning to Oxford.”
“ Give me time to reflect by myself, and let me leave you,” said I, walking away; and I plunged into the thickest part of the park.
Here, for the hundredth time, I took myself to task; and, for the hundredth time, worked myself up to a resolution to play the hero; in fact, to take leave of Bertha and love, and devote myself to the world.
Upon the whole,” said I, “ I have gained by this visit. I have shewn myself superior to resentment against a friend who had used me ill; have discharged a duty of respect to his suffering family, and have at least conciliated their kindness and esteem more than I ever had done before. This ought and shall satisfy me;" and I resolved to quit Foljambe the next day.
Who, however, can foresee or control his fate? The agitation of the last few days had committed inroads on
my weak frame, which, as I have related, was never strong; and my peculiar temperament, as may have appeared, was sensitive to a degree, particularly when operated upon by mental impressions. I had often made efforts before to conquer this powerful passion, but never when the object of it was so close to my vision. To see this young and beautiful creature, both her beauty and her character set off in tenfold attraction by the sweetness and self-command she exhibited towards her parent, a personification, of filial piety (perhaps the holiest of female virtues)—to do this, and conquer in the struggle, without the severest suffering, was impossible. Bertha's endeavour to infuse cheerfulness into her father, by appearing cheerful herself, shewed her in more beautiful colours than any in which she had yet appeared. Her attentions to him during and after the dinner, her smiles, and the pleasure she evinced when they succeeded, as they often did, in soothing him, made her appear an angel of light. Nor was she of less use to him in diverting his attention from a seeming trouble brought upon him by a large packet of letters, sent him through the Hanover mission in London, from Germany. It arrived just as the dessert came upon table, and, in some excitement, he would have retired with it to his study, but she said, with winning persuasion,
“ Not now, dearest father; there is nothing in it, I am sure, that will not wait till to-morrow, and I won't let your
comfort at home be so soon disturbed. Heaven knows, you have need enough for it, so give me
this naughty packet. I will put it away, and you shall promise me not to look at it till to-morrow.”
So saying, she almost playfully took the packet from his not unwilling hand-for, in truth, he seemed little equal to business and retired with it alone.
The immense seal, teeming with arms and supporters, with an ample ducal coronet above, denoted whence the packet came.
“ Prince Adolphus, I suppose ?” said Granville ; to which Mr. Hastings assented.
This revived my recollections of his German connections, almost forgotten; and I supposed Prince Adolphus was one of his illustrious relations of the faderland.