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proper way for a young lady of fashion to conduct herself ?”
“ And a verv judicious monition too of Miss Mathews," said Mr. Dorrington, her father.
" I only wish that she had possessed authority enough to cause her counsels to be followed; and that you,
Miss Dorrington, could be pursuaded into the manners of a gentlewoman.”
“ It is a sad thing, indeed, Catherine,” said Lady Vincent, adding her remonstrances, it is a very sad thing to see a girl of your age (for you are now in your sixteenth year,)-I say it is a very sad, and a very shocking thing, to find you so insensible to what ought to be the conduct and manners of a young woman of rank and fashion.”
" Why what ought they to be aunt ?" she inquired with a starting tear, and a cheek the pure vermillion of which was heightened with extreme vexation.
“Catherine, I desire that you don't interrupt your aunt, but attend to what she wishes to say to you," observed Mr. Dorrington; "and do, for heaven's sake, put that little beast of a dog down;" and he snatched him with violence from the lap of his poor little mistress, who, too much in terror of her father to rebel, sat in mute expectation of what she was to hear, trying from a variety of motives to suppress the tears, which could not, after all, be repelled; but which every now and then broke out in a stifled sob, as her aunt and her father alternately laid down to her the various duties of an elegant young gentlewoman; duties which, it must be confessed, poor Catherine was sadly remiss in performing.
But while Lady Vincent and Mr. Dorrington are discussing a point in which our readers perhaps would
be as little interested as Catherine found herself, we will briefly narrate the few circumstances of importance which had as yet marked her history.
Catherine Dorrington was the daughter of the younger son of a noble family, who having but a younger son's portion, took, in lieu of money or family plate, all that quantity of family pride, which usually goes to those who get little else beside. Mr. Dorrington married well, and so far increased his fortune and his interest; and had it pleased Provi. dence that his wife should have lived, he might, under her influence, have been a useful and ornamental member of society. As it was, he was what the world calls a highly respectable man. He went to church every Sunday, and paid his debts, and subscribed to all popular institutions which supported church and king, and set his face with becoming zeal against bible and missionary societies; and assembled round him none who had the slightest taint of suspicion attached to their political or religous opinions, viz. none who thought otherwise than that “whatever is, is right,” and who shrunk with horror from the possibility of altering such a state of things. He did all this, and a great deal more ; and, as was to be hoped and expected, after the proper performance of so much duty to the state, he was rewarded according to his deserts, and still went on praising and promoting those excellent things, which in the course of this world it occaslonally answers extremely well to applaud. Lady Catherine, his wife, was not altogether so orthodox in opinion as her husband. She was a woman of an observing and inquiring mind, and it occurred to her, now and then, in looking round her, that some things in the cou
duct of affairs both public and private, might be mended. She too went to church on a Sunday, as well as her husband ; but as she did not say her prayers quite so audibly as he did, the chief part of the congregation at their parish church in the country, being composed principally of peasants and the poorer class of persons, who judge only from their outward senses, imagined that she was not quite so religious a person as he was. They thought it rather extraordinary too, that she should not be as devout as her husband, since she did amongst them a vast many more devout deeds than he performed ; but she did not make the responses as loud as the clerk, and the hand which during the greater part of the service concealed her face, concealing also the silent tears with which many of her supplications were offered, “ they could not certainly say for my lady that she seemed so hearty like in praying as his honour." Still they always ended with saying that she was “an excellent good lady ;” an eulogium which, as far as human infirmity will permit its application, she certainly deserved. But she was called hence at a time when a marriage not eminently happy to a person of her views and feelings, was beginning to present a charm to her which endears many a union, that with. out it would hardly be supportable.
She had been a wife two years without the pros. pect of children. At length she had hopes of a family. A daughter was bestowed, scarcely to be blest, and wept over with tears of joy, when the mother was summoned from her child, and, a few days after its birth, expired.
The first lamentations of Mr. Dorrington upon this event were very sincere. He certainly loved his wife
with as much affection as a man who loved himself better than any thing else in the world could love another; and the circumstance of her leaving him with a poor little, helpless, wailing girl to provide for, considerably increased his regret. Added to greater misfortunes, he was much disappointed that the expected child had not been a son, whose future fate, during the time he had been looking for his appearance, had not been forgotten amidst the dreams of his ambition.
But all these visions were now as if they had ne. ver been ! and the dispensations of fate, as he called these matters, being indispensable, Mr. Dorrington in due time began to reconcile himself to them, and so far to make the best of the case, as to transfer the projects of his ambition to the child which actually had arrived. The grand materials, as he conceived, for a woman's success in life, depended so entirely upon the share of beauty with which nature had enriched her, that, as time stole on, and daily looking in Catherine's extraordinary little face, without being able to predict much about it, or to say any thing in its praise but that the eyes were promising, he grew dejected and hopeless as far as respected his daughter ; more particularly as the child herself presented, in the wildness and oddity of her disposition, the most hopeless of materials for moulding into an elegant young lady, who was to build her hopes of preferment upon her person and accomplishments. .
In her father's estimation, then, poor Catherine had been a blank almost from the day of her birth ; and Lady Vincent, her aunt, coinciding with him in this opinion, it was not considered as worth while to do more for her, than provide her with a governess,
and let her take her chance. During this time Mr. Dorrington was balancing in his mind the various merits of various ladies, with the design of promoting them to the honour of succeeding the departed Lady Catherine; a measure, his sister Lady Vincent strongly recommended, because, as she said, it was a step essential to his domestic happiness; but principally because it occurred to her that, as she was a widow, and had no children of her own, this unfortunate Catherine would, in the course of time, be shuffled off upon her, if there were no other person to take the charge of her. This last reason, though by far the strongest in her own mind, she of course said nothing about. But Mr. Dorrington had not known his sister so intimately for a number of years, without comprehending that some motive a little more lively than sisterly affection prompted her urgent desire to get him married again ; and, with a slight degree of malice not wholly unnatural, he determined, while he expressed the warmest gratitude for her good wishes and interest in his behalf, to keep her as long as possible in suspense, as to how soon and he certainly he intended to follow her affectionate monitions. The consequence of all this procrastination was, that he found himself, while he was thinking about it, growing too old for this lady, and too prudent for that, with too many pretensions to be satisfied with this particular person, and scarcely sufficient to propose to the other, -in short, he gradually grew as indifferent to the matter, as gentlemen approaching their fiftieth year are apt to be; and consequently, after the doubts and debates of years, he at this particular juncture, final. ly informed his anxious sister, who came to make him a visit and repeat her counsels, that he believed