Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

The Banns are published.

than ever: he proposed a private marriage; but how could it be effected ? The health of Lady Benfield was yet fragile, and the affectionate Frances would give np her heart's dearest inclinations, sooner than by an elopement impart pain to an indulgent parent, and by giving irritation to her mind, perhaps accelerate her decay.

Who would grant a licence to people of their rank ? Lord Frances yet under age! They, accordingly, among numerous other couples, bad their bauns published in church, and they were unheeded by the auditors of fashion, as they never attended to the concerns of such little people who could be asked in church, but purposely turned a deaf ear;- My Lady took the opportunity of enquiring of her daughter, whom she had invited at a select party to cards in the evening? Another would take a card from her ridicule, and read over a list of the morn

The Lovers are united.

ing visits she meant to pay when church was over: while others sat ruminating on the parties they were likely to meet at the different houses of the nobility who gave Sunday concerts.

After the banns had been duly published, the thoughtless pair were married, as was currently reported, under the names of Mr. and Mrs. Francis. This marriage could not long be kept concealed from the parents of both parties; the old Earl, the father of Lord Francis, did all he could to annul the match, and declared it void as his son was under age.

Love, for a while, triumphed over duty; and Lord Francis nobly declared, that he never would own another wife. A lovely boy was born to him ; and Frances, happy and delighted with her new state, quitted all her former gaities, and gave herself up to the pure and affesa tionate characters of wife and mother,

A visible change.

Soon after the birth of her second son, with mingled pain, and all the fluctuating anxiety of fear and hope, dreading to bring conviction to her mind, she too plainly perceived a visible inequality in the behaviour of her Francis towards her; till then invariably kind, and ever charmed with her winning society: he now became frequently absent from her, and sometimes for a length of time: her good sense however taught her, that frowns and reproaches would be of no use, but only render her situation worse; that, assiduity and tenderness, though they would not entirely make him the ardent and adoring husband he once was, yet might en' sure her his confidence and unchanging

esteem.

[ocr errors]

But the charm of novelty was fled ! the hour of conjugal felicity was past ! Willingly he now welcomed the nullity of his marriage; and declaring he should ever provide for the children, as born in

She bears it with patience.

lawful wedlock, yet a separation was become absolutely necessary, to ensure him the future countenance of his friends and relations; and that her maintenance, on their being divided, should be so mu. nificent, that it should enable her to live in the splendour becoming his wife.

was

She was obliged to bow, in patient acquiescence, to this most trying circumstance of her life. Her fortune was very small; her mother had long been separated from her husband, and though it was universally known that he had treated her ill, and though after his death she might receive her jointure, yet her interests, and those of the Benfield family, had become separate. Lord Francis had rich, high and powerful friends, with his own inclinations concurring to dissolve his marriage: She therefore accepted the terms of a separate maintenance ; and resolved, if possible, to see him no more.

She retires to the Sea-shore.

It will scarce meet with credit, but is nevertheless true, that - she was, from failure of payment, on the part of Lord Francis, obliged to have recourse to the forms of the law, to procure her maintenance from him, who would once joyfully have welcomed poverty for her sake, her, whose form alone could once deligbt his eyes, and whose simplest accents were once the sweetest music to his ear,

· She retired to an elegant dwelling by the sea side, where she lives beloved and respected by all who have the honour of her acquaintance. Her conduct is uniformily correct; her society well chosen and cautiously selected : so totally impossible does she render it by her prudential condụct, for the forked tongue of slander to reach her: her mansioy is the embellished seat of taste, elegance and hospitality, as her heart is that of refinement, candour, · and kindness.

« ПредишнаНапред »