by Jane Austen
This tale of the self-seeking Lady Susan Vernon was written
by Jane Austen, probably some time before 1805, but was not
published until 1871, as part of James Edward Austen-Leigh's
_Memoir_. Jane Austen left the work untitled; the title
"Lady Susan" was provided by Austen-Leigh.
Lady Susan Vernon to Mr. Vernon.
My dear Brother
I can no longer refuse myself the pleasure of profiting by your
kind invitation, when we last parted, of spending some weeks with
you at Churchill, & therefore, if quite convenient to you &
Mrs. Vernon to receive me at present, I shall hope within a few
days to be introduced to a Sister whom I have so long desired to
be acquainted with. My kind friends here are most affectionately
urgent with me to prolong my stay, but their hospitable & chearful
dispositions lead them too much into society for my present
situation & state of mind; & I impatiently look forward to the
hour when I shall be admitted into your delightful retirement.
I long to be made known to your dear little children, in whose
hearts I shall be very eager to secure an interest. I shall soon
have need for all my fortitude, as I am on the point of separation
from my own daughter. The long illness of her dear Father
prevented my paying her that attention which Duty & affection
equally dictated, & I have too much reason to fear that the
Governess to whose care I consigned her was unequal to the charge.
I have therefore resolved on placing her at one of the best
Private Schools in Town, where I shall have an opportunity of
leaving her myself, in my way to you. I am determined, you see,
not to be denied admittance at Churchill. It would indeed give me
most painful sensations to know that it were not in your power to
Yr. most obliged & affec: Sister
Lady Susan Vernon to Mrs. Johnson.
You were mistaken, my dear Alicia, in supposing me fixed at this
place for the rest of the winter. It grieves me to say how
greatly you were mistaken, for I have seldom spent three months
more agreeably than those which have just flown away. At present,
nothing goes smoothly; the Females of the Family are united
against me. You foretold how it would be when I first came to
Langford, & Manwaring is so uncommonly pleasing that I was not
without apprehensions for myself. I remember saying to myself, as
I drove to the House, "I like this Man; pray Heaven no harm come
of it!" But I was determined to be discreet, to bear in mind my
being only four months a widow, & to be as quiet as possible: & I
have been so, My dear Creature; I have admitted no one's
attentions but Manwaring's. I have avoided all general flirtation
whatever; I have distinguished no Creature besides, of all the
Numbers resorting hither, except Sir James Martin, on whom I
bestowed a little notice, in order to detach him from Miss
Manwaring; but if the World could know my motive _there_, they
would honour me. I have been called an unkind Mother, but it was
the sacred impulse of maternal affection, it was the advantage of
my Daughter that led me on; & if that Daughter were not the
greatest simpleton on Earth, I might have been rewarded for my
Exertions as I ought.
Sir James did make proposals to me for Frederica; but Frederica,
who was born to be the torment of my life, chose to set herself so
violently against the match that I thought it better to lay aside
the scheme for the present. I have more than once repented that I
did not marry him myself; & were he but one degree less
contemptibly weak, I certainly should, but I must own myself
rather romantic in that respect, & that Riches only will not
satisfy me. The event of all this is very provoking: Sir James is
gone, Maria highly incensed, & Mrs. Manwaring insupportably
jealous; so jealous, in short, & so enraged against me, that, in
the fury of her temper, I should not be surprised at her appealing
to her Guardian, if she had the liberty of addressing him -- but
there your Husband stands my friend; & the kindest, most amiable
action of his Life was his throwing her off forever on her
Marriage. Keep up his resentment, therefore, I charge you. We
are now in a sad state; no house was ever more altered: the whole
family are at war, & Manwaring scarcely dares speak to me. It is
time for me to be gone; I have therefore determined on leaving
them, & shall spend, I hope, a comfortable day with you in Town
within this week. If I am as little in favour with Mr. Johnson as
ever, you must come to me at No. 10 Wigmore Street; but I hope
this may not be the case, for as Mr. Johnson, with all his faults,
is a Man to whom that great word "Respectable" is always given, &
I am known to be so intimate with his wife, his slighting me has
an awkward Look.
I take Town in my way to that insupportable spot, a Country
Village; for I am really going to Churchill. Forgive me, my dear
friend, it is my last resource. Were there another place in
England open to me, I would prefer it. Charles Vernon is my
aversion, & I am afraid of his wife. At Churchill, however, I
must remain till I have something better in view. My young Lady
accompanies me to Town, where I shall deposit her under the care
of Miss Summers, in Wigmore Street, till she becomes a little more
reasonable. She will make good connections there, as the Girls
are all of the best Families. The price is immense, & much beyond
what I can ever attempt to pay.
Adieu, I will send you a line as soon as I arrive in Town. --
Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy.
My dear Mother
I am very sorry to tell you that it will not be in our power to
keep our promise of spending our Christmas with you; & we are
prevented that happiness by a circumstance which is not likely to
make us any amends. Lady Susan, in a letter to her Brother, has
declared her intention of visiting us almost immediately -- & as
such a visit is in all probability merely an affair of
convenience, it is impossible to conjecture its length. I was by
no means prepared for such an event, nor can I now account for her
Ladyship's conduct; Langford appeared so exactly the place for her
in every respect, as well from the elegant & expensive stile of
living there, as from her particular attachment to Mrs. Manwaring,
that I was very far from expecting so speedy a distinction, tho' I
always imagined from her increasing friendship for us since her
Husband's death, that we should at some future period be obliged
to receive her. Mr. Vernon, I think, was a great deal too kind to
her when he was in Staffordshire; her behaviour to him,
independent of her general Character, has been so inexcusably
artful and ungenerous since our Marriage was first in agitation
that no one less amiable & mild than himself could have overlooked
it all; & tho', as his Brother's widow, & in narrow circumstances,
it was proper to render her pecuniary assistance, I cannot help
thinking his pressing invitation to her to visit us at Churchill
perfectly unnecessary. Disposed, however, as he always is to
think the best of every one, her display of Greif, & professions
of regret, & general resolutions of prudence were sufficient to
soften his heart, & make him really confide in her sincerity. But
as for myself, I am still unconvinced; & plausibly as her Ladyship
has now written, I cannot make up my mind till I better understand
her real meaning in coming to us. You may guess, therefore, my
dear Madam, with what feelings I look forward to her arrival. She
will have occasion for all those attractive Powers for which she
is celebrated, to gain any share of my regard; & I shall certainly
endeavour to guard myself against their influence, if not
accompanied by something more substantial. She expresses a most
eager desire of being acquainted with me, & makes very gracious
mention of my children, but I am not quite weak enough to suppose
a woman who has behaved with inattention if not unkindness to her
own child, should be attached to any of mine. Miss Vernon is to
be placed at a school in Town before her Mother comes to us, which
I am glad of, for her sake & my own. It must be to her advantage
to be separated from her Mother, & a girl of sixteen who has
received so wretched an education could not be a very desirable
companion here. Reginald has long wished, I know, to see the
captivating Lady Susan, & we shall depend on his joining our party
soon. I am glad to hear that my Father continues so well; & am,
with best Love, &c.,
Mr. De Courcy to Mrs. Vernon.
My dear Sister
I congratulate you & Mr. Vernon on being about to receive into
your family the most accomplished Coquette in England. As a very
distinguished Flirt, I have always been taught to consider her;
but it has lately fallen in my way to hear some particulars of her
conduct at Langford, which proves that she does not confine
herself to that sort of honest flirtation which satisfies most
people, but aspires to the more delicious gratification of making
a whole family miserable. By her behaviour to Mr. Manwaring she
gave jealousy & wretchedness to his wife, & by her attentions to a
young man previously attached to Mr. Manwaring's sister deprived
an amiable girl of her Lover. I learnt all this from a Mr. Smith,
now in this neighbourhood (I have dined with him, at Hurst &
Wilford), who is just come from Langford, where he was a fortnight
in the house with her Ladyship, & who is therefore well qualified
to make the communication.
What a Woman she must be! I long to see her, & shall certainly
accept your kind invitation, that I may form some idea of those
bewitching powers which can do so much -- engaging at the same
time, & in the same house, the affections of two Men, who were
neither of them at liberty to bestow them -- and all this without
the charm of Youth! I am glad to find Miss Vernon does not
accompany her Mother to Churchill, as she has not even Manners to
recommend her, & according to Mr. Smith's account, is equally dull
& proud. Where Pride & Stupidity unite there can be no
dissimulation worthy notice, & Miss Vernon shall be consigned to
unrelenting contempt; but by all that I can gather, Lady Susan
possesses a degree of captivating Deceit which it must be pleasing
to witness & detect. I shall be with you very soon, & am
your affec. Brother R. DE COURCY
Lady Susan Vernon to Mrs. Johnson.
I received your note, my dear Alicia, just before I left Town, &
rejoice to be assured that Mr. Johnson suspected nothing of your
engagement the evening before. It is undoubtedly better to
deceive him entirely; since he will be stubborn, he must be
tricked. I arrived here in safety, & have no reason to complain
of my reception from Mr. Vernon; but I confess myself not equally
satisfied with the behaviour of his Lady. She is perfectly
well-bred, indeed, & has the air of a woman of fashion, but her
Manners are not such as can persuade me of her being prepossessed
in my favour. I wanted her to be delighted at seeing me -- I was
as amiable as possible on the occasion -- but all in vain. She
does not like me. To be sure, when we consider that I _did_ take
some pains to prevent my Brother-in-law's marrying her, this want
of cordiality is not very surprising; & yet it shews an illiberal
& vindictive spirit to resent a project which influenced me six
years ago, & which never succeeded at last.
I am sometimes half disposed to repent that I did not let Charles
buy Vernon Castle, when we were obliged to sell it; but it was a
trying circumstance, especially as the sale took place exactly at
the time of his marriage; & everybody ought to respect the
delicacy of those feelings which could not endure that my
Husband's Dignity should be lessened by his younger brother's
having possession of the Family Estate. Could Matters have been
so arranged as to prevent the necessity of our leaving the Castle,
could we have lived with Charles & kept him single, I should have
been very far from persuading my husband to dispose of it
elsewhere; but Charles was then on the point of marrying Miss De
Courcy, & the event has justified me. Here are Children in
abundance, & what benefit could have accrued to me from his
purchasing Vernon? My having prevented it may perhaps have given
his wife an unfavourable impression -- but where there is a
disposition to dislike, a motive will never be wanting; & as to
money-matters it has not withheld him from being very useful to
me. I really have a regard for him, he is so easily imposed on!
The house is a good one, the Furniture fashionable, & everything
announces plenty & elegance. Charles is very rich, I am sure;
when a Man has once got his name in a Banking House, he rolls in
money. But they do not know what to do with it, keep very little
company, & never go to Town but on business. We shall be as
stupid as possible. I mean to win my Sister-in-law's heart
through the children; I know all their names already, & am going
to attach myself with the greatest sensibility to one in
particular, a young Frederic, whom I take on my lap & sigh over
for his dear Uncle's sake.
Poor Manwaring! -- I need not tell you how much I miss him -- how
perpetually he is in my Thoughts. I found a dismal letter from
him on my arrival here, full of complaints of his wife & sister, &
lamentations on the cruelty of his fate. I passed off the letter
as his wife's, to the Vernons, & when I write to him, it must be
under cover to you.
Yours Ever, S. V.
Mrs. Vernon to Mr. De Courcy.
Well, my dear Reginald, I have seen this dangerous creature, &
must give you some description of her, tho' I hope you will soon
be able to form your own judgement. She is really excessively
pretty. However you may choose to question the allurements of a
Lady no longer young, I must, for my own part, declare that I have
seldom seen so lovely a Woman as Lady Susan. She is delicately
fair, with fine grey eyes & dark eyelashes; & from her appearance
one would not suppose her more than five & twenty, tho' she must
in fact be ten years older. I was certainly not disposed to
admire her, tho' always hearing she was beautiful; but I cannot
help feeling that she possesses an uncommon union of Symmetry,
Brilliancy, & Grace. Her address to me was so gentle, frank, &
even affectionate, that, if I had not known how much she has
always disliked me for marrying Mr. Vernon, & that we had never
met before, I should have imagined her an attached friend. One is
apt, I beleive, to connect assurance of manner with coquetry, & to
expect that an impudent address will naturally attend an impudent
mind; at least I was myself prepared for an improper degree of
confidence in Lady Susan; but her Countenance is absolutely sweet,
& her voice & manner winningly mild. I am sorry it is so, for
what is this but Deceit? Unfortunately, one knows her too well.
She is clever & agreable, has all that knowledge of the world
which makes conversation easy, & talks very well with a happy
command of Language, which is too often used, I beleive, to make
Black appear White. She has already almost persuaded me of her
being warmly attached to her daughter, tho' I have been so long
convinced to the contrary. She speaks of her with so much
tenderness & anxiety, lamenting so bitterly the neglect of her
education, which she represents however as wholly unavoidable,
that I am forced to recollect how many successive Springs her
Ladyship spent in Town, while her Daughter was left in
Staffordshire to the care of servants, or a Governess very little
better, to prevent my believing what she says.
If her manners have so great an influence on my resentful heart,
you may judge how much more strongly they operate on Mr. Vernon's
generous temper. I wish I could be as well satisfied as he is,
that it was really her choice to leave Langford for Churchill; &
if she had not stayed three months there before she discovered
that her friends' manner of Living did not suit her situation or
feelings, I might have beleived that concern for the loss of such
a Husband as Mr. Vernon, to whom her own behaviour was far from
unexceptionable, might for a time make her wish for retirement.
But I cannot forget the length of her visit to the Manwarings; &
when I reflect on the different mode of Life which she led with
them, from that to which she must now submit, I can only suppose
that the wish of establishing her reputation by following, tho'
late, the path of propriety, occasioned her removal from a family
where she must in reality have been particularly happy. Your
friend Mr. Smith's story, however, cannot be quite correct, as she
corresponds regularly with Mrs. Manwaring. At any rate it must be
exaggerated; it is scarcely possible that two men should be so
grossly deceived by her at once.
Yrs. &c. CATH. VERNON.
Lady Susan Vernon to Mrs. Johnson
My dear Alicia
You are very good in taking notice of Frederica, & I am grateful
for it as a mark of your friendship; but as I cannot have any
doubt of the warmth of that friendship, I am far from exacting so
heavy a sacrifice. She is a stupid girl, & has nothing to
recommend her. I would not, therefore, on any account have you
encumber one moment of your precious time by sending for her to
Edward Street, especially as every visit is so many hours deducted
from the grand affair of Education, which I really wish to be
attended to while she remains with Miss Summers. I want her to
play & sing with some portion of Taste & a good deal of assurance,
as she has _my_ hand & arm, & a tolerable voice. _I_ was so much
indulged in my infant years that I was never obliged to attend to
anything, & consequently am without the accomplishments which are
now necessary to finish a pretty Woman. Not that I am an advocate
for the prevailing fashion of acquiring a perfect knowledge of all
Languages, Arts, & Sciences. It is throwing time away; to be
Mistress of French, Italian, & German, Music, Singing, Drawing,
&c. will gain a Woman some applause, but will not add one Lover to
her list. Grace & Manner, after all, are of the greatest
importance. I do not mean, therefore, that Frederica's
acquirements should be more than superficial, & I flatter myself
that she will not remain long enough at School to understand
anything thoroughly. I hope to see her the wife of Sir James
within a twelvemonth. You know on what I ground my hope, & it is
certainly a good foundation, for school must be very humiliating
to a girl of Frederica's age. And by the by, you had better not
invite her any more on that account, as I wish her to find her
situation as unpleasant as possible. I am sure of Sir James at
any time, & could make him renew his application by a Line.
I shall trouble you meanwhile to prevent his forming any other
attachment when he comes to Town. Ask him to your house
occasionally, & talk to him of Frederica, that he may not forget
Upon the whole, I commend my own conduct in this affair extremely,
& regard it as a very happy instance of circumspection &
tenderness. Some Mothers would have insisted on their daughter's
accepting so good an offer on the first overture, but I could not
answer it to myself to force Frederica into a marriage from which
her heart revolted; & instead of adopting so harsh a measure,
merely propose to make it her own choice, by rendering her
thoroughly uncomfortable till she does accept him. -- But enough
of this tiresome girl.
You may well wonder how I contrive to pass my time here, & for the
first week it was most insufferably dull. Now, however, we begin
to mend; our party is enlarged by Mrs. Vernon's Brother, a
handsome young Man, who promises me some amusement. There is
something about him which rather interests me, a sort of sauciness
& familiarity which I shall teach him to correct. He is lively &
seems clever;, & when I have inspired him with greater respect for
me than his sister's kind offices have implanted, he may be an
agreable Flirt. There is exquisite pleasure in subduing an
insolent spirit, in making a person predetermined to dislike,
acknowledge one's superiority. I have disconcerted him already by
my calm reserve, & it shall be my endeavour to humble the pride of
these self-important De Courcys still lower, to convince
Mrs. Vernon that her sisterly cautions have been bestowed in vain,
& to persuade Reginald that she has scandalously belied me. This
project will serve at least to amuse me, & prevent my feeling so
acutely this dreadful separation from You & all whom I love.
Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy.
My dear Mother
You must not expect Reginald back again for some time. He desires
me to tell you that the present open weather induced him to accept
Mr. Vernon's invitation to prolong his stay in Sussex, that they
may have some hunting together. He means to send for his Horses
immediately, & it is impossible to say when you may see him in
Kent. I will not disguise my sentiments on this change from you,
my dear Madam, tho' I think you had better not communicate them to
my father, whose excessive anxiety about Reginald would subject
him to an alarm which might seriously affect his health & spirits.
Lady Susan has certainly contrived, in the space of a fortnight,
to make my Brother like her. In short, I am persuaded that his
continuing here beyond the time originally fixed for his return is
occasioned as much by a degree of fascination towards her, as by
the wish of hunting with Mr. Vernon, & of course I cannot receive
that pleasure from the length of his visit which my Brother's
company would otherwise give me. I am, indeed, provoked at the
artifice of this unprincipled Woman. What stronger proof of her
dangerous abilities can be given than this perversion of
Reginald's judgement, which when he entered the house was so
decidedly against her? In his last letter he actually gave me
some particulars of her behaviour at Langford, such as he received
from a Gentleman who knew her perfectly well, which, if true, must
raise abhorrence against her, & which Reginald himself was
entirely disposed to credit. His opinion of her, I am sure, was
as low as of any Woman in England; & when he first came it was
evident that he considered her as one entitled neither to Delicacy
nor respect, & that he felt she would be delighted with the
attentions of any Man inclined to flirt with her.
Her behaviour, I confess, has been calculated to do away with such
an idea; I have not detected the smallest impropriety in it --
nothing of vanity, of pretension, of Levity; & she is altogether
so attractive that I should not wonder at his being delighted with
her, had he known nothing of her previous to this personal
acquaintance; but against reason, against conviction, to be so
well pleased with her, as I am sure he is, does really astonish
me. His admiration was at first very strong, but no more than was
natural, & I did not wonder at his being much struck by the
gentleness & delicacy of her Manners; but when he has mentioned
her of late it has been in terms of more extraordinary praise; &
yesterday he actually said that he could not be surprised at any
effect produced on the heart of Man by such Loveliness & such
Abilities; & when I lamented, in reply, the badness of her
disposition, he observed that whatever might have been her errors,
they were to be imputed to her neglected Education & early
Marriage, & that she was altogether a wonderful Woman.
This tendency to excuse her conduct, or to forget it in the warmth
of admiration, vexes me; & if I did not know that Reginald is too
much at home at Churchill to need an invitation for lengthening
his visit, I should regret Mr. Vernon's giving him any.
Lady Susan's intentions are of course those of absolute coquetry,
or a desire of universal admiration. I cannot for a moment
imagine that she has anything more serious in view; but it
mortifies me to see a young Man of Reginald's sense duped by her
at all. I am, &c.
Mrs. Johnson to Lady Susan.
My dearest Friend
I congratulate you on Mr. De Courcy's arrival, & I advise you by
all means to marry him; his Father's Estate is, we know,
considerable, & I beleive certainly entailed. Sir Reginald is
very infirm, & not likely to stand in your way long. I hear the
young Man well spoken of; & tho' no one can really deserve you, my
dearest Susan, Mr. De Courcy may be worth having. Manwaring will
storm of course, but you may easily pacify him; besides, the most
scrupulous point of honour could not require you to wait for _his_
emancipation. I have seen Sir James; he came to Town for a few
days last week, & called several times in Edward Street. I talked
to him about you & your Daughter, & he is so far from having
forgotten you, that I am sure he would marry either of you with
pleasure. I gave him hopes of Frederica's relenting, & told him a
great deal of her improvements. I scolded him for making Love to
Maria Manwaring; he protested that he had been only in joke, & we
both laughed heartily at her disappointment; and, in short, were
very agreable. He is as silly as ever. -- Yours faithfully
Lady Susan Vernon to Mrs. Johnson
I am obliged to you, my dear friend, for your advice respecting
Mr. De Courcy, which I know was given with the full conviction of
its expediency, tho' I am not quite determined on following it.
I cannot easily resolve on anything so serious as Marriage;
especially as I am not at present in want of money, & might
perhaps, till the old Gentleman's death, be very little benefited
by the match. It is true that I am vain enough to beleive it
within my reach. I have made him sensible of my power, & can now
enjoy the pleasure of triumphing over a Mind prepared to dislike
me, & prejudiced against all my past actions. His sister, too,
is, I hope, convinced how little the ungenerous representations of
any one to the disadvantage of another will avail when opposed to
the immediate influence of Intellect & Manner. I see plainly that
she is uneasy at my progress in the good opinion of her Brother, &
conclude that nothing will be wanting on her part to counteract
me; but having once made him doubt the justice of her opinion of
me, I think I may defy her. It has been delightful to me to watch
his advances towards intimacy, especially to observe his altered
manner in consequence of my repressing by the calm dignity of my
deportment his insolent approach to direct familiarity. My
conduct has been equally guarded from the first, & I never behaved
less like a Coquette in the whole course of my Life, tho' perhaps
my desire of dominion was never more decided. I have subdued him
entirely by sentiment & serious conversation, & made him, I may
venture to say, at least _half_ in Love with me, without the
semblance of the most commonplace flirtation. Mrs. Vernon's
consciousness of deserving every sort of revenge that it can be in
my power to inflict for her ill-offices could alone enable her to
perceive that I am actuated by any design in behaviour so gentle &
unpretending. Let her think & act as she chuses, however. I have
never yet found that the advice of a Sister could prevent a young
Man's being in love if he chose it. We are advancing now towards
some kind of confidence, & in short are likely to be engaged in a
sort of platonic friendship. On _my_ side you may be sure of its
never being more, for if I were not already as much attached to
another person as I can be to any one, I should make a point of
not bestowing my affection on a Man who had dared to think so
meanly of me.
Reginald has a good figure, & is not unworthy the praise you have
heard given him, but is still greatly inferior to our friend at
Langford. He is less polished, less insinuating than Manwaring, &
is comparatively deficient in the power of saying those delightful
things which put one in good humour with oneself & all the world.
He is quite agreable enough, however, to afford me amusement, & to
make many of those hours pass very pleasantly which would
otherwise be spent in endeavouring to overcome my sister-in-law's
reserve, & listening to her Husband's insipid talk.
Your account of Sir James is most satisfactory, & I mean to give
Miss Frederica a hint of my intentions very soon. -- Yours, &c.,
Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy.
I really grow quite uneasy, my dearest Mother, about Reginald,
from witnessing the very rapid increase of Lady Susan's influence.
They are now on terms of the most particular friendship,
frequently engaged in long conversations together; & she has
contrived by the most artful coquetry to subdue his Judgement to
her own purposes. It is impossible to see the intimacy between
them so very soon established without some alarm, tho' I can
hardly suppose that Lady Susan's views extend to marriage. I wish
you could get Reginald home again under any plausible pretence; he
is not at all disposed to leave us, & I have given him as many
hints of my Father's precarious state of health as common decency
will allow me to do in my own house. Her power over him must now
be boundless, as she has entirely effaced all his former
ill-opinion, & persuaded him not merely to forget but to justify
her conduct. Mr. Smith's account of her proceedings at Langford,
where he accused her of having made Mr. Manwaring & a young Man
engaged to Miss Manwaring distractedly in love with her, which
Reginald firmly beleived when he came to Churchill, is now, he is
persuaded, only a scandalous invention. He has told me so in a
warmth of manner which spoke his regret at having ever beleived
the contrary himself.
How sincerely do I grieve that she ever entered this house!
I always looked forward to her coming with uneasiness; but very
far was it from originating in anxiety for Reginald. I expected a
most disagreable companion for myself, but could not imagine that
my Brother would be in the smallest danger of being captivated by
a Woman with whose principles he was so well acquainted, & whose
character he so heartily despised. If you can get him away, it
will be a good thing.
Sir Reginald De Courcy to his Son.
I know that young Men in general do not admit of any inquiry even
from their nearest relations into affairs of the heart, but I
hope, my dear Reginald, that you will be superior to such as allow
nothing for a Father's anxiety, & think themselves privileged to
refuse him their confidence & slight his advice. You must be
sensible that as an only son, & the representative of an ancient
Family, your conduct in Life is most interesting to your
connections. In the very important concern of Marriage
especially, there is everything at stake -- your own happiness,
that of your Parents, & the credit of your name. I do not suppose
that you would deliberately form an absolute engagement of that
nature without acquainting your Mother & myself, or at least
without being convinced that we should approve of your choice; but
I cannot help fearing that you may be drawn in, by the Lady who
has lately attached you, to a Marriage which the whole of your
Family, far & near, must highly reprobate.
Lady Susan's age is itself a material objection, but her want of
character is one so much more serious that the difference of even
twelve years becomes in comparison of small amount. Were you not
blinded by a sort of fascination, it would be ridiculous in me to
repeat the instances of great misconduct on her side, so very
generally known. Her neglect of her husband, her encouragement of
other Men, her extravagance & dissipation, were so gross &
notorious that no one could be ignorant of them at the time, nor
can now have forgotten them. To our Family she has always been
represented in softened colours by the benevolence of Mr. Charles
Vernon; & yet, in spite of his generous endeavours to excuse her,
we know that she did, from the most selfish motives, take all
possible pains to prevent his marrying Catherine.
My Years & increasing Infirmities make me very desirous, my dear
Reginald, of seeing you settled in the world. To the Fortune of
your wife, the goodness of my own will make me indifferent; but
her family & character must be equally unexceptionable. When your
choice is so fixed as that no objection can be made to either, I
can promise you a ready & chearful consent; but it is my Duty to
oppose a Match which deep Art only could render probable, & must
in the end make wretched.
It is possible her behaviour may arise only from Vanity, or the
wish of gaining the admiration of a Man whom she must imagine to
be particularly prejudiced against her; but it is more likely that
she should aim at something farther. She is poor, & may naturally
seek an alliance which may be advantageous to herself. You know
your own rights, & that it is out of my power to prevent your
inheriting the family Estate. My Ability of distressing you during
my Life would be a species of revenge to which I should hardly
stoop under any circumstances. I honestly tell you my Sentiments
& Intentions: I do not wish to work on your Fears, but on your
Sense & Affection. It would destroy every comfort of my Life to
know that you were married to Lady Susan Vernon: it would be the
death of that honest Pride with which I have hitherto considered
my son; I should blush to see him, to hear of him, to think of
I may perhaps do no good but that of relieving my own mind by this
Letter, but I felt it my Duty to tell you that your partiality for
Lady Susan is no secret to your friends, & to warn you against
her. I should be glad to hear your reasons for disbelieving
Mr. Smith's intelligence; you had no doubt of its authenticity a
If you can give me your assurance of having no design beyond
enjoying the conversation of a clever woman for a short period, &
of yielding admiration only to her Beauty & Abilities, without
being blinded by them to her faults, you will restore me to
happiness; but if you cannot do this, explain to me, at least,
what has occasioned so great an alteration in your opinion of her.
I am, &c.
REGD. DE COURCY.
Lady De Courcy to Mrs. Vernon.
My dear Catherine
Unluckily I was confined to my room when your last letter came, by
a cold which affected my eyes so much as to prevent my reading it
myself; so I could not refuse your Father when he offered to read
it to me, by which means he became acquainted, to my great
vexation, with all your fears about your Brother. I had intended
to write to Reginald myself as soon as my eyes would let me, to
point out as well as I could the danger of an intimate
acquaintance with so artful a woman as Lady Susan, to a young Man
of his age & high expectations. I meant, moreover, to have
reminded him of our being quite alone now, & very much in need of
him to keep up our spirits these long winter evenings. Whether it
would have done any good can never be settled now, but I am
excessively vexed that Sir Reginald should know anything of a
matter which we foresaw would make him so uneasy. He caught all
your fears the moment he had read your Letter, and I am sure has
not had the business out of his head since. He wrote by the same
post to Reginald a long letter full of it all, & particularly
asking an explanation of what he may have heard from Lady Susan to
contradict the late shocking reports. His answer came this
morning, which I shall enclose to you, as I think you will like to
see it. I wish it was more satisfactory; but it seems written
with such a determination to think well of Lady Susan, that his
assurances as to Marriage, &c., do not set my heart at ease.
I say all I can, however, to satisfy your Father, & he is
certainly less uneasy since Reginald's letter. How provoking it
is, my dear Catherine, that this unwelcome Guest of yours should
not only prevent our meeting this Christmas, but be the occasion
of so much vexation & trouble! Kiss the dear Children for me.
Your affec: Mother,
C. DE COURCY.
Mr. De Courcy to Sir Reginald
My dear Sir
I have this moment received your Letter, which has given me more
astonishment than I ever felt before. I am to thank my Sister, I
suppose, for having represented me in such a light as to injure me
in your opinion, & give you all this alarm. I know not why she
should chuse to make herself & her family uneasy by apprehending
an Event which no one but herself, I can affirm, would ever have
thought possible. To impute such a design to Lady Susan would be
taking from her every claim to that excellent understanding which
her bitterest Enemies have never denied her; & equally low must
sink my pretensions to common sense if I am suspected of
matrimonial views in my behaviour to her. Our difference of age
must be an insuperable objection, & I entreat you, my dear Sir, to
quiet your mind, & no longer harbour a suspicion which cannot be
more injurious to your own peace than to our Understandings.
I can have no other view in remaining with Lady Susan, than to
enjoy for a short time (as you have yourself expressed it) the
conversation of a Woman of high mental powers. If Mrs. Vernon
would allow something to my affection for herself & her husband in
the length of my visit, she would do more justice to us all; but
my Sister is unhappily prejudiced beyond the hope of conviction
against Lady Susan. From an attachment to her husband, which in
itself does honour to both, she cannot forgive the endeavours at
preventing their union which have been attributed to selfishness
in Lady Susan; but in this case, as well as in many others, the
World has most grossly injured that Lady, by supposing the worst
where the motives of her conduct have been doubtful.
Lady Susan had heard something so materially to the disadvantage
of my Sister, as to persuade her that the happiness of Mr. Vernon,
to whom she was always much attached, would be absolutely
destroyed by the Marriage. And this circumstance, while it
explains the true motive of Lady Susan's conduct, & removes all
the blame which has been so lavished on her, may also convince us
how little the general report of any one ought to be credited;
since no character, however upright, can escape the malevolence of
slander. If my Sister, in the security of retirement, with as
little opportunity as inclination to do Evil, could not avoid
Censure, we must not rashly condemn those who, living in the World
& surrounded with temptation, should be accused of Errors which
they are known to have the power of committing.
I blame myself severely for having so easily beleived the
slanderous tales invented by Charles Smith to the prejudice of
Lady Susan, as I am now convinced how greatly they have traduced
her. As to Mrs. Manwaring's jealousy, it was totally his own
invention, & his account of her attaching Miss Manwaring's Lover
was scarcely better founded. Sir James Martin had been drawn in
by that young Lady to pay her some attention; & as he is a Man of
fortune, it was easy to see that _her_ views extended to Marriage.
It is well known that Miss Manwaring is absolutely on the catch
for a husband, & no one therefore can pity her for losing, by the
superior attractions of another woman, the chance of being able to
make a worthy Man completely miserable. Lady Susan was far from
intending such a conquest, & on finding how warmly Miss Manwaring
resented her Lover's defection, determined, in spite of Mr. &
Mrs. Manwaring's most earnest entreaties, to leave the family.
I have reason to imagine that she did receive serious Proposals
from Sir James, but her removing to Langford immediately on the
discovery of his attachment, must acquit her on that article with
any Mind of common candour. You will, I am sure, my dear Sir,
feel the truth of this, & will hereby learn to do justice to the
character of a very injured Woman.
I know that Lady Susan in coming to Churchill was governed only by
the most honourable & amiable intentions; her prudence & economy
are exemplary, her regard for Mr. Vernon equal even to _his_
deserts; & her wish of obtaining my sister's good opinion merits a
better return than it has received. As a Mother she is
unexceptionable; her solid affection for her Child is shewn by
placing her in hands where her Education will be properly attended
to; but because she has not the blind & weak partiality of most
Mothers, she is accused of wanting Maternal Tenderness. Every
person of Sense, however, will know how to value & commend her
well-directed affection, & will join me in wishing that Frederica
Vernon may prove more worthy than she has yet done of her Mother's
I have now, my dear Sir, written my real sentiments of Lady Susan;
you will know from this Letter how highly I admire her Abilities,
& esteem her Character; but if you are not equally convinced by my
full & solemn assurance that your fears have been most idly
created, you will deeply mortify & distress me. -- I am, &c.
R. DE COURCY.
Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy.
My dear Mother
I return you Reginald's letter, & rejoice with all my heart that
my Father is made easy by it. Tell him so, with my
congratulations; but between ourselves, I must own it has only
convinced _me_ of my Brother's having no _present_ intention of
marrying Lady Susan -- not that he is in no danger of doing so
three months hence. He gives a very plausible account of her
behaviour at Langford; I wish it may be true, but his intelligence
must come from herself, & I am less disposed to beleive it than to
lament the degree of intimacy subsisting between them implied by
the discussion of such a subject.
I am sorry to have incurred his displeasure, but can expect
nothing better while he is so very eager in Lady Susan's
justification. He is very severe against me indeed, & yet I hope
I have not been hasty in my judgement of her. Poor Woman! tho' I
have reasons enough for my dislike, I cannot help pitying her at
present, as she is in real distress, & with too much cause. She
had this morning a letter from the Lady with whom she has placed
her daughter, to request that Miss Vernon might be immediately
removed, as she had been detected in an attempt to run away. Why,
or whither she intended to go, does not appear; but as her
situation seems to have been unexceptionable, it is a sad thing, &
of course highly afflicting to Lady Susan.
Frederica must be as much as sixteen, & ought to know better; but
from what her Mother insinuates, I am afraid she is a perverse
girl. She has been sadly neglected, however, & her Mother ought
to remember it.
Mr. Vernon set off for Town as soon as she had determined what
should be done. He is, if possible, to prevail on Miss Summers to
let Frederica continue with her; & if he cannot succeed, to bring
her to Churchill for the present, till some other situation can be
found for her. Her Ladyship is comforting herself meanwhile by
strolling along the Shrubbery with Reginald, calling forth all his
tender feelings, I suppose, on this distressing occasion. She has
been talking a great deal about it to me. She talks vastly well;
I am afraid of being ungenerous, or I should say _too_ well to
feel so very deeply. But I will not look for Faults; she may be
Reginald's Wife -- Heaven forbid it! -- but why should I be
quicker-sighted than anybody else? Mr. Vernon declares that he
never saw deeper distress than hers, on the receipt of the Letter
-- & is his judgement inferior to mine?
She was very unwilling that Frederica should be allowed to come to
Churchill, & justly enough, as it seems a sort of reward to
Behaviour deserving very differently; but it was impossible to
take her anywhere else, & she is not to remain here long.
"It will be absolutely necessary," said she, "as you, my dear
Sister, must be sensible, to treat my daughter with some severity
while she is here; -- a most painful necessity, but I will
endeavour to submit to it. I am afraid I have often been too
indulgent, but my poor Frederica's temper could never bear
opposition well. You must support & encourage me -- You must urge
the necessity of reproof if you see me too lenient."
All this sounds very reasonably. Reginald is so incensed against
the poor silly Girl! Surely it is not to Lady Susan's credit that
he should be so bitter against her daughter; his idea of her must
be drawn from the Mother's description.
Well, whatever may be his fate, we have the comfort of knowing
that we have done our utmost to save him. We must commit the
event to an Higher Power. Yours Ever, &c.
Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson
Never, my dearest Alicia, was I so provoked in my life as by a
Letter this morning from Miss Summers. That horrid girl of mine
has been trying to run away. I had not a notion of her being such
a little devil before, she seemed to have all the Vernon
Milkiness; but on receiving the letter in which I declared my
intention about Sir James, she actually attempted to elope; at
least, I cannot otherwise account for her doing it. She meant, I
suppose, to go to the Clarkes in Staffordshire, for she has no
other acquaintance. But she _shall_ be punished, she _shall_ have
him. I have sent Charles to Town to make matters up if he can,
for I do not by any means want her here. If Miss Summers will not
keep her, you must find me out another school, unless we can get
her married immediately. Miss S. writes word that she could not
get the young Lady to assign any cause for her extraordinary
conduct, which confirms me in my own private explanation of it.
Frederica is too shy, I think, & too much in awe of me to tell
tales; but if the mildness of her Uncle _should_ get anything from
her, I am not afraid. I trust I shall be able to make my story as
good as hers. If I am vain of anything, it is of my eloquence.
Consideration & Esteem as surely follow command of Language, as
Admiration waits on Beauty. And here I have opportunity enough
for the exercise of my Talent, as the cheif of my time is spent in
Conversation. Reginald is never easy unless we are by ourselves,
& when the weather is tolerable, we pace the shrubbery for hours
together. I like him on the whole very well; he is clever & has a
good deal to say, but he is sometimes impertinent & troublesome.
There is a sort of ridiculous delicacy about him which requires
the fullest explanation of whatever he may have heard to my
disadvantage, & is never satisfied till he thinks he has
ascertained the beginning & end of everything.
This is _one_ sort of Love, but I confess it does not particularly
recommend itself to me. I infinitely prefer the tender & liberal
spirit of Manwaring, which, impressed with the deepest conviction
of my merit, is satisfied that whatever I do must be right; & look
with a degree of contempt on the inquisitive & doubtful Fancies of
that Heart which seems always debating on the reasonableness of
its Emotions. Manwaring is indeed, beyond compare, superior to
Reginald -- superior in everything but the power of being with me!
Poor fellow! he is quite distracted by Jealousy, which I am not
sorry for, as I know no better support of Love. He has been
teizing me to allow of his coming into this country, & lodging
somewhere near _incog._ -- but I forbid anything of the kind.
Those women are inexcusable who forget what is due to themselves &
the opinion of the World.
Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy
My dear Mother
Mr. Vernon returned on Thursday night, bringing his neice with
him. Lady Susan had received a line from him by that day's post,
informing her that Miss Summers had absolutely refused to allow of
Miss Vernon's continuance in her Academy; we were therefore
prepared for her arrival, & expected them impatiently the whole
evening. They came while we were at Tea, & I never saw any
creature look so frightened in my life as Frederica when she
entered the room.
Lady Susan, who had been shedding tears before, & shewing great
agitation at the idea of the meeting, received her with perfect
self-command, & without betraying the least tenderness of spirit.
She hardly spoke to her, & on Frederica's bursting into tears as
soon as we were seated, took her out of the room, & did not return
for some time. When she did, her eyes looked very red, & she was
as much agitated as before. We saw no more of her daughter.
Poor Reginald was beyond measure concerned to see his fair friend
in such distress, & watched her with so much tender solicitude,
that I, who occasionally caught her observing his countenance with
exultation, was quite out of patience. This pathetic
representation lasted the whole evening, & so ostentatious &
artful a display had entirely convinced me that she did in fact
I am more angry with her than ever since I have seen her daughter;
the poor girl looks so unhappy that my heart aches for her. Lady
Susan is surely too severe, for Frederica does not seem to have
the sort of temper to make severity necessary. She looks
perfectly timid, dejected, & penitent.
She is very pretty, tho' not so handsome as her Mother, nor at all
like her. Her complexion is delicate, but neither so fair nor so
blooming as Lady Susan's -- & she has quite the Vernon cast of
countenance, the oval face & mild dark eyes, & there is peculiar
sweetness in her look when she speaks either to her Uncle or me,
for as we behave kindly to her we have of course engaged her
gratitude. Her Mother has insinuated that her temper is
untractable, but I never saw a face less indicative of any evil
disposition than hers; & from what I now see of the behaviour of
each to the other, the invariable severity of Lady Susan & the
silent dejection of Frederica, I am led to beleive as heretofore
that the former has no real Love for her daughter, & has never
done her justice or treated her affectionately.
I have not yet been able to have any conversation with my neice;
she is shy, & I think I can see that some pains are taken to
prevent her being much with me. Nothing satisfactory transpires
as to her reason for running away. Her kind-hearted Uncle, you
may be sure, was too fearful of distressing her to ask many
questions as they travelled. I wish it had been possible for me
to fetch her instead of him; I think I should have discovered the
truth in the course of a Thirty-mile Journey.
The small Pianoforte' has been removed within these few days, at
Lady Susan's request, into her Dressing room, & Frederica spends
great part of the day there; _practising_, it is called; but I
seldom hear any noise when I pass that way. What she does with
herself there, I do not know; there are plenty of books in the
room, but it is not every girl who has been running wild the first
fifteen years of her life, that can or will read. Poor Creature!
the prospect from her window is not very instructive, for that
room overlooks the Lawn, you know, with the Shrubbery on one side,
where she may see her Mother walking for an hour together in
earnest conversation with Reginald. A girl of Frederica's age
must be childish indeed, if such things do not strike her. Is it
not inexcusable to give such an example to a daughter? Yet
Reginald still thinks Lady Susan the best of Mothers -- still
condemns Frederica as a worthless girl! He is convinced that her
attempt to run away proceeded from no justifiable cause, & had no
provocation. I am sure I cannot say that it _had_, but while Miss
Summers declares that Miss Vernon shewed no signs of Obstinacy or
Perverseness during her whole stay in Wigmore Street, till she was
detected in this scheme, I cannot so readily credit what Lady
Susan has made him & wants to make me beleive, that it was merely
an impatience of restraint & a desire of escaping from the tuition
of Masters which brought on the plan of an elopement. Oh!
Reginald, how is your Judgement enslaved! He scarcely dares even
allow her to be handsome, & when I speak of her beauty, replies
only that her eyes have no Brilliancy!
Sometimes he is sure she is deficient in Understanding, & at
others that her temper only is in fault. In short, when a person
is always to deceive, it is impossible to be consistent. Lady
Susan finds it necessary for her own justification that Frederica
should be to blame, & probably has sometimes judged it expedient
to accuse her of ill-nature & sometimes to lament her want of
sense. Reginald is only repeating after her Ladyship.
I am &c.
From the same to the same.
My dear Madam
I am very glad to find that my description of Frederica Vernon has
interested you, for I do beleive her truly deserving of your
regard; & when I have communicated a notion which has recently
struck me, your kind impressions in her favour will, I am sure, be
heightened. I cannot help fancying that she is growing partial to
my Brother; I so very often see her eyes fixed on his face with a
remarkable expression of pensive admiration! He is certainly very
handsome; & yet more, there is an openness in his manner that must
be highly prepossessing, & I am sure she feels it so. Thoughtful
& pensive in general, her countenance always brightens into a
smile when Reginald says anything amusing; and, let the subject be
ever so serious that he may be conversing on, I am much mistaken
if a syllable of his uttering escapes her.
I want to make _him_ sensible of all this, for we know the power
of gratitude on such a heart as his; & could Frederica's artless
affection detach him from her Mother, we might bless the day which
brought her to Churchill. I think, my dear Madam, you would not
disapprove of her as a Daughter. She is extremely young, to be
sure, has had a wretched Education, & a dreadful example of Levity
in her Mother; but yet I can pronounce her disposition to be
excellent, & her natural abilities very good. Though totally
without accomplishments, she is by no means so ignorant as one
might expect to find her, being fond of books & spending the cheif
of her time in reading. Her Mother leaves her more to herself now
than she _did_, & I have her with me as much as possible, & have
taken great pains to overcome her timidity. We are very good
friends, & tho' she never opens her lips before her Mother, she
talks enough when alone with me to make it clear that, if properly
treated by Lady Susan, she would always appear to much greater
advantage. There cannot be a more gentle, affectionate heart; or
more obliging manners, when acting without restraint. Her little
Cousins are all very fond of her.
Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson.
You will be eager, I know, to hear something farther of Frederica,
& perhaps may think me negligent for not writing before. She
arrived with her Uncle last Thursday fortnight, when, of course, I
lost no time in demanding the reason of her behaviour; & soon
found myself to have been perfectly right in attributing it to my
own letter. The purport of it frightened her so thoroughly that,
with a mixture of true girlish perverseness & folly, without
considering that she could not escape from my authority by running
away from Wigmore Street, she resolved on getting out of the house
& proceeding directly by the stage to her friends, the Clarkes; &
had really got as far as the length of two streets in her journey
when she was fortunately miss'd, pursued, & overtaken.
Such was the first distinguished exploit of Miss Frederica Susanna
Vernon; & if we consider that it was achieved at the tender age of
sixteen, we shall have room for the most flattering prognostics of
her future renown. I am excessively provoked, however, at the
parade of propriety which prevented Miss Summers from keeping the
girl; & it seems so extraordinary a piece of nicety, considering
my daughter's family connections, that I can only suppose the Lady
to be governed by the fear of never getting her money. Be that as
it may, however, Frederica is returned on my hands; and having now
nothing else to employ her, is busy in pursuing the plan of
Romance begun at Langford. She is actually falling in love with
Reginald De Courcy! To disobey her Mother by refusing an
unexceptionable offer is not enough; her affections must likewise
be given without her Mother's approbation. I never saw a girl of
her age bid fairer to be the sport of Mankind. Her feelings are
tolerably acute, & she is so charmingly artless in their display
as to afford the most reasonable hope of her being ridiculed &
despised by every Man who sees her.
Artlessness will never do in Love matters; & that girl is born a
simpleton who has it either by nature or affectation. I am not
yet certain that Reginald sees what she is about; nor is it of
much consequence. She is now an object of indifference to him;
she would be one of contempt were he to understand her Emotions.
Her beauty is much admired by the Vernons, but it has no effect on
_him_. She is in high favour with her Aunt altogether -- because
she is so little like myself, of course. She is exactly the
companion for Mrs. Vernon, who dearly loves to be first, & to have
all the sense & all the wit of the Conversation to herself:
Frederica will never eclipse her. When she first came, I was at
some pains to prevent her seeing much of her Aunt; but I have
since relaxed, as I beleive I may depend on her observing the
rules I have laid down for their discourse.
But do not imagine that with all this Lenity I have for a moment
given up my plan of her marriage; No, I am unalterably fixed on
this point, tho' I have not yet quite decided on the manner of
bringing it about. I should not chuse to have the business
brought forward here, & canvassed by the wise heads of Mr. &
Mrs. Vernon; & I cannot just now afford to go to Town. Miss
Frederica therefore must wait a little.
Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy.
We have a very unexpected Guest with us at present, my dear
Mother. He arrived yesterday. I heard a carriage at the door, as
I was sitting with my children while they dined; & supposing I
should be wanted, left the Nursery soon afterwards, & was half-way
downstairs, when Frederica, as pale as ashes, came running up, &
rushed by me into her own room. I instantly followed, & asked her
what was the matter. "Oh!" cried she, "he is come, Sir James is
come -- & what am I to do?" This was no explanation; I begged her
to tell me what she meant. At that moment we were interrupted by
a knock at the door: it was Reginald, who came, by Lady Susan's
direction, to call Frederica down. "It is Mr. De Courcy!" said
she, colouring violently. "Mamma has sent for me, & I must go."
We all three went down together; & I saw my Brother examining the
terrified face of Frederica with surprise. In the breakfast-room
we found Lady Susan, & a young Man of genteel appearance, whom she
introduced to me by the name of Sir James Martin -- the very
person, as you may remember, whom it was said she had been at
pains to detach from Miss Manwaring. But the conquest, it seems,
was not designed for herself, or she has since transferred it to
her daughter; for Sir James is now desperately in love with
Frederica, & with full encouragement from Mama. The poor girl,
however, I am sure, dislikes him; & tho' his person & address are
very well, he appears, both to Mr. Vernon & me, a very weak young
Frederica looked so shy, so confused, when we entered the room,
that I felt for her exceedingly. Lady Susan behaved with great
attention to her Visitor; & yet I thought I could perceive that
she had no particular pleasure in seeing him. Sir James talked a
great deal, & made many civil excuses to me for the liberty he had
taken in coming to Churchill -- mixing more frequent laughter with
his discourse than the subject required -- said many things over &
over again, & told Lady Susan three times that he had seen
Mrs. Johnson a few Evenings before. He now & then addressed
Frederica, but more frequently her Mother. The poor girl sat all
this time without opening her lips -- her eyes cast down, & her
colour varying every instant; while Reginald observed all that
passed in perfect silence.
At length Lady Susan, weary I beleive of her situation, proposed
walking; & we left the two gentlemen together, to put on our
As we went upstairs, Lady Susan begged permission to attend me for
a few moments in my Dressing room, as she was anxious to speak
with me in private. I led her thither accordingly, & as soon as
the door was closed, she said, "I was never more surprised in my
life than by Sir James's arrival, & the suddenness of it requires
some apology to _You_, my dear Sister; tho' to _me_, as a Mother,
it is highly flattering. He is so extremely attached to my
Daughter that he could not exist longer without seeing her. Sir
James is a young man of an amiable disposition & excellent
character; a little too much of the _Rattle_, perhaps, but a year
or two will rectify _that_; & he is in other respects so very
eligible a Match for Frederica, that I have always observed his
attachment with the greatest pleasure, & am persuaded that you &
my Brother will give the alliance your hearty approbation. I have
never before mentioned the likelihood of its taking place to any
one, because I thought that while Frederica continued at school it
had better not be known to exist; but now, as I am convinced that
Frederica is too old ever to submit to school confinement, & have
therefore begun to consider her union with Sir James as not very
distant, I had intended within a few days to acquaint yourself &
Mr. Vernon with the whole business. I am sure, my dear Sister,
you will excuse my remaining silent so long, & agree with me that
such circumstances, while they continue from any cause in
suspense, cannot be too cautiously concealed. When you have the
happiness of bestowing your sweet little Catherine, some years
hence, on a Man who in connection & character is alike
unexceptionable, you will know what I feel now; tho' Thank Heaven!
you cannot have all my reasons for rejoicing in such an Event.
Catherine will be amply provided for, & not, like my Frederica,
indebted to a fortunate Establishment for the comforts of Life."
She concluded by demanding my congratulations. I gave them
somewhat awkwardly, I beleive; for in fact, the sudden disclosure
of so important a matter took from me the power of speaking with
any clearness. She thanked me, however, most affectionately, for
my kind concern in the welfare of herself & daughter; & then said,
"I am not apt to deal in professions, my dear Mrs. Vernon, & I
never had the convenient talent of affecting sensations foreign to
my heart; & therefore I trust you will beleive me when I declare
that, much as I had heard in your praise before I knew you, I had
no idea that I should ever love you as I now do; & I must further
say that your friendship towards me is more particularly
gratifying because I have reason to beleive that some attempts
were made to prejudice you against me. I only wish that They --
whoever they are -- to whom I am indebted for such kind
intentions, could see the terms on which we now are together, &
understand the real affection we feel for each other! But I will
not detain you any longer. God bless you for your goodness to me
& my girl, & continue to you all your present happiness."
What can one say of such a Woman, my dear Mother? Such
earnestness, such solemnity of expression! & yet I cannot help
suspecting the truth of everything she said.
As for Reginald, I beleive he does not know what to make of the
matter. When Sir James first came, he appeared all astonishment &
perplexity. The folly of the young Man & the confusion of
Frederica entirely engrossed him; & tho' a little private
discourse with Lady Susan has since had its effect, he is still
hurt, I am sure, at her allowing of such a Man's attentions to her
Sir James invited himself with great composure to remain here a
few days -- hoped we would not think it odd, was aware of its
being very impertinent, but he took the liberty of a relation; &
concluded by wishing, with a laugh, that he might be really one
soon. Even Lady Susan seemed a little disconcerted by this
forwardness; in her heart, I am persuaded, she sincerely wishes
But something must be done for this poor Girl, if her feelings are
such as both her Uncle & I beleive them to be. She must not be
sacrificed to Policy or Ambition; she must not be even left to
suffer from the dread of it. The Girl whose heart can distinguish
Reginald De Courcy deserves, however he may slight her, a better
fate than to be Sir James Martin's wife. As soon as I can get her
alone, I will discover the real Truth; but she seems to wish to
avoid me. I hope this does not proceed from anything wrong, &
that I shall not find out I have thought too well of her. Her
behaviour to Sir James certainly speaks the greatest consciousness
& Embarrassment, but I see nothing in it more like Encouragement.
Adieu, my dear Madam.
Miss Vernon to Mr. De Courcy.
I hope you will excuse this liberty; I am forced upon it by the
greatest distress, or I should be ashamed to trouble you. I am
very miserable about Sir James Martin, & have no other way in the
world of helping myself but by writing to you, for I am forbidden
ever speaking to my Uncle or Aunt on the subject; & this being the
case, I am afraid my applying to you will appear no better than
equivocation, & as if I attended only to the letter & not the
spirit of Mama's commands. But if _you_ do not take my part &
persuade her to break it off, I shall be half distracted, for I
cannot bear him. No human Being but _you_ could have any chance
of prevailing with her. If you will, therefore, have the
unspeakable great kindness of taking my part with her, &
persuading her to send Sir James away, I shall be more obliged to
you than it is possible for me to express. I always disliked him
from the first; it is not a sudden fancy, I assure you, Sir; I
always thought him silly & impertinent & disagreable, & now he is
grown worse than ever. I would rather work for my bread than
marry him. I do not know how to apologize enough for this Letter;
I know it is taking so great a liberty; I am aware how dreadfully
angry it will make Mama, but I must run the risk. I am, Sir, your
most Humble Servt.
F. S. V.
Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson
This is insufferable! My dearest friend, I was never so enraged
before, & must relieve myself by writing to you, who I know will
enter into all my feelings. Who should come on Tuesday but Sir
James Martin! Guess my astonishment & vexation -- for, as you
well know, I never wished him to be seen at Churchill. What a
pity that you should not have known his intentions! Not content
with coming, he actually invited himself to remain here a few
days. I could have poisoned him! I made the best of it, however,
& told my story with great success to Mrs. Vernon, who, whatever
might be her real sentiments, said nothing in opposition to mine.
I made a point also of Frederica's behaving civilly to Sir James,
& gave her to understand that I was absolutely determined on her
marrying him. She said something of her misery, but that was all.
I have for some time been more particularly resolved on the Match
from seeing the rapid increase of her affection for Reginald, &
from not feeling perfectly secure that a knowledge of _that_
affection might not in the end awaken a return. Contemptible as a
regard founded only on compassion must make them both in my eyes,
I felt by no means assured that such might not be the consequence.
It is true that Reginald had not in any degree grown cool towards
me; but yet he had lately mentioned Frederica spontaneously &
unnecessarily, & once had said something in praise of her person.
_He_ was all astonishment at the appearance of my visitor, & at
first observed Sir James with an attention which I was pleased to
see not unmixed with jealousy; but unluckily it was impossible for
me really to torment him, as Sir James, tho' extremely gallant to
me, very soon made the whole party understand that his heart was
devoted to my daughter.
I had no great difficulty in convincing De Courcy, when we were
alone, that I was perfectly justified, all things considered, in
desiring the match; & the whole business seemed most comfortably
arranged. They could none of them help perceiving that Sir James
was no Solomon; but I had positively forbidden Frederica's
complaining to Charles Vernon or his wife, & they had therefore no
pretence for Interference; tho' my impertinent Sister, I beleive,
wanted only opportunity for doing so.
Everything, however, was going on calmly & quietly; & tho' I
counted the hours of Sir James's stay, my mind was entirely
satisfied with the posture of affairs. Guess, then, what I must
feel at the sudden disturbance of all my schemes; & that, too,
from a quarter whence I had least reason to apprehend it.
Reginald came this morning into my Dressing room with a very
unusual solemnity of countenance, & after some preface informed me
in so many words that he wished to reason with me on the
Impropriety & Unkindness of allowing Sir James Martin to address
my Daughter contrary to _her_ inclination. I was all amazement.
When I found that he was not to be laughed out of his design, I
calmly required an explanation, & begged to know by what he was
impelled, & by whom commissioned to reprimand me. He then told
me, mixing in his speech a few insolent compliments, & ill-timed
expressions of Tenderness, to which I listened with perfect
indifference, that my daughter had acquainted him with some
circumstances concerning herself, Sir James, & me, which gave him
In short, I found that she had in the first place actually written
to him to request his interference, & that on receiving her
Letter, he had conversed with her on the subject of it, in order
to understand the particulars, & assure himself of her real
I have not a doubt but that the girl took this opportunity of
making downright Love to him. I am convinced of it from the
manner in which he spoke of her. Much good may such Love do him!
I shall ever despise the Man who can be gratified by the Passion
which he never wished to inspire, nor solicited the avowal of.
I shall always detest them both. He can have no true regard for
me, or he would not have listened to her; and she, with her little
rebellious heart & indelicate feelings, to throw herself into the
protection of a young Man with whom she has scarcely ever
exchanged two words before! I am equally confounded at _her_
Impudence & _his_ Credulity. How dared he beleive what she told
him in my disfavour! Ought he not to have felt assured that I
must have unanswerable Motives for all that I had done? Where was
his reliance on my Sense & Goodness then? Where the resentment
which true Love would have dictated against the person defaming me
-- that person, too, a Chit, a Child, without Talent or Education,
whom he had been always taught to despise?
I was calm for some time; but the greatest degree of Forbearance
may be overcome, & I hope I was afterwards sufficiently keen. He
endeavoured, long endeavoured, to soften my resentment; but that
woman is a fool indeed who, while insulted by accusation, can be
worked on by compliments. At length he left me, as deeply
provoked as myself; & he shewed his anger _more_. I was quite
cool, but he gave way to the most violent indignation. I may
therefore expect it will the sooner subside; & perhaps his may be
vanished forever, while mine will be found still fresh &
He is now shut up in his apartment, whither I heard him go on
leaving mine. How unpleasant, one would think, must his
reflections be! But some people's feelings are incomprehensible.
I have not yet tranquillized myself enough to see Frederica.
_She_ shall not soon forget the occurrences of this day; she shall
find that she has poured forth her tender Tale of Love in vain, &
exposed herself forever to the contempt of the whole world, & the
severest Resentment of her injured Mother.
Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy
Let me congratulate you, my dearest Mother! The affair which has
given us so much anxiety is drawing to a happy conclusion. Our
prospect is most delightful; & since matters have now taken so
favourable a turn, I am quite sorry that I ever imparted my
apprehensions to you; for the pleasure of learning that the danger
is over is perhaps dearly purchased by all that you have
I am so much agitated by Delight that I can scarcely hold a pen;
but am determined to send you a few short lines by James, that you
may have some explanation of what must so greatly astonish you, as
that Reginald should be returning to Parklands.
I was sitting about half an hour ago with Sir James in the
Breakfast parlour, when my Brother called me out of the room.
I instantly saw that something was the matter; his complexion was
raised, & he spoke with great emotion. You know his eager manner,
my dear Madam, when his mind is interested.
"Catherine," said he, "I am going home today; I am sorry to leave
you, but I must go. It is a great while since I have seen my
Father & Mother. I am going to send James forward with my Hunters
immediately; if you have any Letter, therefore, he can take it.
I shall not be at home myself till Wednesday or Thursday, as I
shall go through London, where I have business. But before I
leave you," he continued, speaking in a lower voice, & with still
greater energy, "I must warn you of one thing -- do not let
Frederica Vernon be made unhappy by that Martin. He wants to
marry her -- her Mother promotes the Match -- but _she_ cannot
endure the idea of it. Be assured that I speak from the fullest
conviction of the Truth of what I say; I _know_ that Frederica is
made wretched by Sir James' continuing here. She is a sweet girl,
& deserves a better fate. Send him away immediately. _He_ is
only a fool -- but what her Mother can mean, Heaven only knows!
Good-bye," he added, shaking my hand with earnestness -- "I do not
know when you will see me again; but remember what I tell you of
Frederica; you _must_ make it your business to see justice done
her. She is an amiable girl, & has a very superior Mind to what
we have ever given her credit for."
He then left me, & ran upstairs. I would not try to stop him, for
I know what his feelings must be; the nature of mine, as I
listened to him, I need not attempt to describe. For a minute or
two, I remained in the same spot, overpowered by wonder -- of a
most agreable sort indeed; yet it required some consideration to
be tranquilly happy.
In about ten minutes after my return to the parlour, Lady Susan
entered the room. I concluded, of course, that she & Reginald had
been quarrelling, & looked with anxious curiosity for a
confirmation of my beleif in her face. Mistress of Deceit,
however, she appeared perfectly unconcerned, & after chatting on
indifferent subjects for a short time, said to me, "I find from
Wilson that we are going to lose Mr. De Courcy -- is it true that
he leaves Churchill this morning?" I replied that it was. "He
told us nothing of all this last night," said she, laughing, "or
even this morning at Breakfast; but perhaps he did not know it
himself. Young Men are often hasty in their resolutions -- & not
more sudden in forming than unsteady in keeping them. I should
not be surprised if he were to change his mind at last, & not go."
She soon afterwards left the room. I trust, however, my dear
Mother, that we have no reason to fear an alteration of his
present plan; things have gone too far. They must have
quarrelled, & about Frederica too. Her calmness astonishes me.
What delight will be yours in seeing him again, in seeing him
still worthy of your Esteem, still capable of forming your
When I next write, I shall be able, I hope, to tell you that Sir
James is gone, Lady Susan vanquished, & Frederica at peace. We
have much to do, but it shall be done. I am all impatience to
hear how this astonishing change was effected. I finish as I
began, with the warmest congratulations.
From the same to the same.
Little did I imagine, my dear Mother, when I sent off my last
letter, that the delightful perturbation of spirits I was then in
would undergo so speedy, so melancholy a reverse! I never can
sufficiently regret that I wrote to you at all. Yet who could
have foreseen what has happened? My dear Mother, every hope which
but two hours ago made me so happy is vanished. The quarrel
between Lady Susan & Reginald is made up, & we are all as we were
before. One point only is gained; Sir James Martin is dismissed.
What are we now to look forward to? I am indeed disappointed.
Reginald was all but gone, his horse was ordered & all but brought
to the door! Who would not have felt safe?
For half an hour, I was in momentary expectation of his departure.
After I had sent off my Letter to you, I went to Mr. Vernon, & sat
with him in his room talking over the whole matter. I then
determined to look for Frederica, whom I had not seen since
breakfast. I met her on the stairs, & saw that she was crying.
"My dear Aunt," said she, "he is going -- Mr. De Courcy is going,
& it is all my fault. I am afraid you will be angry, but indeed I
had no idea it would end so."
"My Love," replied I, "do not think it necessary to apologize to
me on that account. I shall feel myself under an obligation to
any one who is the means of sending my brother home, because,"
recollecting myself, "I know my Father wants very much to see him.
But what is it that _you_ have done to occasion all this?"
She blushed deeply as she answered, "I was so unhappy about Sir
James that I could not help -- I have done something very wrong I
know -- but you have not an idea of the misery I have been in, &
Mama had ordered me never to speak to you or my Uncle about it, --
& --" "You therefore spoke to my Brother, to engage _his_
interference," said I, to save her the explanation. "No; but I
wrote to him -- I did indeed. I got up this morning before it was
light -- I was two hours about it -- & when my Letter was done, I
thought I never should have courage to give it. After breakfast,
however, as I was going to my room, I met him in the passage, &
then, as I knew that everything must depend on that moment, I
forced myself to give it. He was so good as to take it
immediately. I dared not look at him, & ran away directly. I was
in such a fright that I could hardly breathe. My dear Aunt, you
do not know how miserable I have been."
"Frederica," said I, "you ought to have told _me_ all your
distresses. You would have found in me a friend always ready to
assist you. Do you think that your Uncle & I should not have
espoused your cause as warmly as my Brother?"
"Indeed, I did not doubt your goodness," said she, colouring
again, "but I thought Mr. De Courcy could do anything with my
Mother; but I was mistaken: they have had a dreadful quarrel about
it, & he is going. Mama will never forgive me, & I shall be worse
off than ever." "No, you shall not," replied I. -- "In such a
point as this, your Mother's prohibition ought not to have
prevented your speaking to me on the subject. She has no right to
make you unhappy, & she shall _not_ do it. Your applying,
however, to Reginald can be productive only of Good to all
parties. I beleive it is best as it is. Depend upon it that you
shall not be made unhappy any longer."
At that moment, how great was my astonishment at seeing Reginald
come out of Lady Susan's Dressing room. My heart misgave me
instantly. His confusion on seeing me was very evident.
Frederica immediately disappeared. "Are you going?" said I. "You
will find Mr. Vernon in his own room." "No, Catherine," replied
he, "I am _not_ going. Will you let me speak to you a moment?"
We went into my room. "I find," continued he, his confusion
increasing as he spoke, "that I have been acting with my usual
foolish impetuosity. I have entirely misunderstood Lady Susan, &
was on the point of leaving the house under a false impression of
her conduct. There has been some very great mistake -- we have
been all mistaken, I fancy. Frederica does not know her Mother --
Lady Susan means nothing but her Good -- but Frederica will not
make a friend of her. Lady Susan therefore does not always know
what will make her daughter happy. Besides, _I_ could have no
right to interfere -- Miss Vernon was mistaken in applying to me.
In short, Catherine, everything has gone wrong -- but it is now
all happily settled. Lady Susan, I beleive, wishes to speak to
you about it, if you are at leisure."
"Certainly," replied I, deeply sighing at the recital of so lame a
story. I made no comments, however, for words would have been
Reginald was glad to get away; & I went to Lady Susan; curious,
indeed, to hear her account of it. "Did I not tell you," said
she, with a smile, "that your Brother would not leave us after
all?" "You did, indeed," replied I, very gravely; "but I
flattered myself that you would be mistaken." "I should not have
hazarded such an opinion," returned she, "if it had not at that
moment occurred to me that his resolution of going might be
occasioned by a Conversation in which we had been this morning
engaged, & which had ended very much to his Dissatisfaction, from
our not rightly understanding each other's meaning. This idea
struck me at the moment, & I instantly determined that an
accidental dispute, in which I might probably be as much to blame
as himself, should not deprive you of your Brother. If you
remember, I left the room almost immediately. I was resolved to
lose no time in clearing up those mistakes as far as I could. The
case was this: Frederica had set herself violently against
marrying Sir James --" "And can your Ladyship wonder that she
should?" cried I, with some warmth; "Frederica has an excellent
Understanding, & Sir James has none." "I am at least very far
from regretting it, my dear sister," said she; "on the contrary, I
am grateful for so favourable a sign of my Daughter's sense. Sir
James is certainly under par -- (his boyish manners make him
appear the worse) -- & had Frederica possessed the penetration,
the abilities which I could have wished in my Daughter, or had I
even known her to possess as much as she does, I should not have
been anxious for the match." "It is odd that you should alone be
ignorant of your Daughter's sense." "Frederica never does justice
to herself; her manners are shy & childish. She is besides afraid
of me; she scarcely loves me. During her poor Father's life she
was a spoilt child; the severity which it has since been necessary
for me to shew has alienated her affection; neither has she any of
that Brilliancy of Intellect, that Genius, or Vigour of Mind which
will force itself forward." "Say rather that she has been
unfortunate in her education!" "Heaven knows, my dearest
Mrs. Vernon, how fully I am aware of _that_; but I would wish to
forget every circumstance that might throw blame on the memory of
one whose name is sacred with me."
Here she pretended to cry; I was out of patience with her. "But
what," said I, "was your Ladyship going to tell me about your
disagreement with my Brother?" "It originated in an action of my
Daughter's which equally marks her want of Judgement & the
unfortunate Dread of me I have been mentioning -- she wrote to
Mr. De Courcy." "I know she did; you had forbidden her speaking
to Mr. Vernon or to me on the cause of her distress; what could
she do, therefore, but apply to my Brother?" "Good God!" she
exclaimed, "what an opinion you must have of me! Can you possibly
suppose that I was aware of her unhappiness? that it was my object
to make my own child miserable, & that I had forbidden her
speaking to you on the subject from fear of your interrupting the
Diabolical scheme? Do you think me destitute of every honest,
every natural feeling? Am I capable of consigning _her_ to
everlasting Misery whose welfare it is my first Earthly Duty to
promote?" "The idea is horrible. What, then, was your intention
when you insisted on her silence?" "Of what use, my dear Sister,
could be any application to you, however the affair might stand?
Why should I subject you to entreaties which I refused to attend
to myself? Neither for your sake, for hers, nor for my own, could
such a thing be desirable. When my own resolution was taken, I
could not wish for the interference, however friendly, of another
person. I was mistaken, it is true, but I beleived myself right."
"But what was this mistake to which your Ladyship so often
alludes? From whence arose so astonishing a misconception of your
Daughter's feelings? Did you not know that she disliked Sir
James?" "I knew that he was not absolutely the Man she would have
chosen, but I was persuaded that her objections to him did not
arise from any perception of his Deficiency. You must not
question me, however, my dear Sister, too minutely on this point,"
continued she, taking me affectionately by the hand; "I honestly
own that there is something to conceal. Frederica makes me very
unhappy! Her applying to Mr. De Courcy hurt me particularly."
"What is it you mean to infer," said I, "by this appearance of
mystery? If you think your Daughter at all attached to Reginald,
her objecting to Sir James could not less deserve to be attended
to than if the cause of her objecting had been a consciousness of
his folly; & why should your Ladyship, at any rate, quarrel with
my Brother for an interference which you must know it is not in
his nature to refuse when urged in such a manner?"
"His disposition, you know, is warm, & he came to expostulate with
me; his compassion all alive for this ill-used Girl, this Heroine
in distress! We misunderstood each other: he beleived me more to
blame than I really was; I considered his interference less
excusable than I now find it. I have a real regard for him, & was
beyond expression mortified to find it, as I thought, so ill
bestowed. We were both warm, & of course both to blame. His
resolution of leaving Churchill is consistent with his general
eagerness. When I understood his intention, however, & at the
same time began to think that we had been perhaps equally mistaken
in each other's meaning, I resolved to have an explanation before
it was too late. For any Member of your Family I must always feel
a degree of affection, & I own it would have sensibly hurt me if
my acquaintance with Mr. De Courcy had ended so gloomily. I have
now only to say farther, that as I am convinced of Frederica's
having a reasonable dislike to Sir James, I shall instantly inform
him that he must give up all hope of her. I reproach myself for
having ever, tho' innocently, made her unhappy on that score. She
shall have all the retribution in my power to make; if she value
her own happiness as much as I do, if she judge wisely, & command
herself as she ought, she may now be easy. Excuse me, my dearest
Sister, for thus trespassing on your time, but I owed it to my own
Character; & after this explanation I trust I am in no danger of
sinking in your opinion."
I could have said, "Not much, indeed!" but I left her almost in
silence. It was the greatest stretch of Forbearance I could
practise. I could not have stopped myself had I begun. Her
assurance, her Deceit -- but I will not allow myself to dwell on
them; they will strike you sufficiently. My heart sickens within
As soon as I was tolerably composed I returned to the Parlour.
Sir James's carriage was at the door, & he, merry as usual, soon
afterwards took his leave. How easily does her Ladyship encourage
or dismiss a Lover!
In spite of this release, Frederica still looks unhappy, still
fearful, perhaps, of her Mother's anger; & tho' dreading my
Brother's departure, jealous, it may be, of his staying. I see
how closely she observes him & Lady Susan. Poor Girl, I have now
no hope for her. There is not a chance of her affection being
returned. He thinks very differently of her from what he used to
do, he does her some justice, but his reconciliation with her
Mother precludes every dearer hope.
Prepare, my dear Madam, for the worst. The probability of their
marrying is surely heightened. He is more securely hers than
ever. When that wretched Event takes place, Frederica must wholly
belong to us.
I am thankful that my last Letter will precede this by so little,
as every moment that you can be saved from feeling a Joy which
leads only to disappointment is of consequence.
Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson.
I call on you, dear Alicia, for congratulations: I am again
myself; -- gay and triumphant! When I wrote to you the other day
I was, in truth, in high irritation, and with ample cause. Nay, I
know not whether I ought to be quite tranquil now, for I have had
more trouble in restoring peace than I ever intended to submit to
-- a spirit, too, resulting from a fancied sense of superior
Integrity, which is peculiarly insolent! I shall not easily
forgive him, I assure you. He was actually on the point of
leaving Churchill! I had scarcely concluded my last, when Wilson
brought me word of it. I found, therefore, that something must be
done; for I did not chuse to leave my character at the mercy of a
Man whose passions are so violent and resentful. It would have
been trifling with my reputation to allow of his departing with
such an impression in my disfavour; in this light, condescension
I sent Wilson to say that I desired to speak with him before he
went; he came immediately. The angry emotions which had marked
every feature when we last parted were partially subdued. He
seemed astonished at the summons, & looked as if half wishing &
half fearing to be softened by what I might say.
If my Countenance expressed what I aimed at, it was composed and
dignified -- and yet with a degree of pensiveness which might
convince him that I was not quite happy. "I beg your pardon Sir,
for the liberty I have taken in sending for you, said I; but as I
have just learnt your intention of leaving this place to-day, I
feel it my duty to entreat that you will not on my account shorten
your visit here even an hour. I am perfectly aware that after
what has passed between us it would ill suit the feelings of
either to remain longer in the same house: so very great, so total
a change from the intimacy of Friendship must render any future
intercourse the severest punishment; & your resolution of quitting
Churchill is undoubtedly in unison with our situation, & with
those lively feelings which I know you to possess. But at the
same time it is not for me to suffer such a sacrifice as it must
be to leave Relations to whom you are so much attached & are so
dear. My remaining here cannot give that pleasure to Mr. &
Mrs. Vernon which your society must; & my visit has already
perhaps been too long. My removal, therefore, which must at any
rate take place soon, may with perfect convenience be hastened; &
I make it my particular request that I may not in any way be
instrumental in separating a family so affectionately attached to
each other. Where _I_ go is of no consequence to any one; of very
little to myself; but _you_ are of importance to all your
connections." Here I concluded, & I hope you will be satisfied
with my speech. Its effect on Reginald justifies some portion of
vanity, for it was no less favourable than instantaneous. Oh, how
delightful it was to watch the variations of his Countenance while
I spoke! to see the struggle between returning Tenderness & the
remains of Displeasure. There is something agreable in feelings
so easily worked on; not that I envy him their possession, nor
would, for the world, have such myself; but they are very
convenient when one wishes to influence the passions of another.
And yet this Reginald, whom a very few words from me softened at
once into the utmost submission, & rendered more tractable, more
attached, more devoted than ever, would have left me in the first
angry swelling of his proud heart without deigning to seek an
Humbled as he now is, I cannot forgive him such an instance of
pride, & am doubtful whether I ought not to punish him by
dismissing him at once after this reconciliation, or by marrying &
teizing him for ever. But these measures are each too violent to
be adopted without some deliberation; at present my Thoughts are
fluctuating between various schemes. I have many things to
compass: I must punish Frederica, & pretty severely too, for her
application to Reginald; I must punish him for receiving it so
favourably, & for the rest of his conduct. I must torment my
Sister-in-law for the insolent triumph of her Look & Manner since
Sir James has been dismissed; for in reconciling Reginald to me, I
was not able to save that ill-fated young Man; -- & I must make
myself amends for the humiliation to which I have stooped within
these few days. To effect all this I have various plans. I have
also an idea of being soon in Town; & whatever may be my
determination as to the rest, I shall probably put _that_ project
in execution -- for London will always be the fairest field of
action, however my views may be directed; & at any rate I shall
there be rewarded by your society, & a little Dissipation, for a
ten weeks' penance at Churchill.
I beleive I owe it to my own Character to complete the match
between my daughter & Sir James, after having so long intended it.
Let me know your opinion on this point. Flexibility of Mind, a
Disposition easily biassed by others, is an attribute which you
know I am not very desirous of obtaining; nor has Frederica any
claim to the indulgence of her notions at the expense of her
Mother's inclination. Her idle Love for Reginald, too! It is
surely my duty to discourage such romantic nonsense. All things
considered, therefore, it seems incumbent on me to take her to
Town & marry her immediately to Sir James.
When my own will is effected contrary to his, I shall have some
credit in being on good terms with Reginald, which at present, in
fact, I have not; for tho' he is still in my power, I have given
up the very article by which our quarrel was produced, & at best
the honour of victory is doubtful.
Send me your opinion on all these matters, my dear Alicia, & let
me know whether you can get lodgings to suit me within a short
distance of you.
Yr. most attached
Mrs. Johnson to Lady Susan
I am gratified by your reference, & this is my advice: that you
come to Town yourself, without loss of time, but that you leave
Frederica behind. It would surely be much more to the purpose to
get yourself well established by marrying Mr. De Courcy, than to
irritate him & the rest of his family by making her marry Sir
James. You should think more of yourself & less of your Daughter.
She is not of a disposition to do you credit in the World, & seems
precisely in her proper place at Churchill, with the Vernons. But
_you_ are fitted for Society, & it is shameful to have you exiled
from it. Leave Frederica, therefore, to punish herself for the
plague she has given you, by indulging that romantic
tender-heartedness which will always ensure her misery enough, &
come yourself to Town as soon as you can.
I have another reason for urging this:
Manwaring came to town last week, & has contrived, in spite of
Mr. Johnson, to make opportunities of seeing me. He is absolutely
miserable about you, & jealous to such a degree of De Courcy, that
it would be highly unadvisable for them to meet at present. And
yet, if you do not allow him to see you here, I cannot answer for
his not committing same great imprudence -- such as going to
Churchill, for instance, which would be dreadful! Besides, if you
take my advice, & resolve to marry De Courcy, it will be
indispensably necessary to you to get Manwaring out of the way; &
you only can have influence enough to send him back to his wife.
I have still another motive for your coming: Mr. Johnson leaves
London next Tuesday; he is going for his health to Bath, where, if
the waters are favourable to his constitution & my wishes, he will
be laid up with the gout many weeks. During his absence we shall
be able to choose our own society, & to have true enjoyment.
I would ask you to Edward Street, but that he once forced from me
a kind of promise never to invite you to my house; nothing but my
being in the utmost distress for Money should have extorted it
from me. I can get you, however, a nice Drawing-room-apartment in
Upper Seymour St, & we may be always together there or here; for I
consider my promise to Mr. Johnson as comprehending only (at least
in his absence) your not sleeping in the House.
Poor Manwaring gives me such histories of his wife's jealousy.
Silly Woman, to expect constancy from so charming a Man! but she
always was silly -- intolerably so in marrying him at all. She
the Heiress of a large Fortune, he without a shilling! _One_
title, I know, she might have had, besides Baronets. Her folly in
forming the connection was so great that tho' Mr. Johnson was her
Guardian, & I do not in general share his feelings, I never can
Adieu, Yours, ALICIA.
Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy
This letter, my dear Mother, will be brought you by Reginald. His
long visit is about to be concluded at last, but I fear the
separation takes place too late to do us any good. _She_ is going
to London to see her particular friend, Mrs. Johnson. It was at
first her intention that Frederica should accompany her, for the
benefit of Masters, but we over-ruled her there. Frederica was
wretched in the idea of going, & I could not bear to have her at
the mercy of her Mother; not all the Masters in London could
compensate for the ruin of her comfort. I should have feared,
too, for her health, & for everything but her Principles --
_there_ I beleive she is not to be injured by her Mother, or all
her Mother's friends; but with those friends (a very bad set, I
doubt not) she must have mixed, or have been left in total
solitude, & I can hardly tell which would have been worse for her.
If she is with her Mother, moreover, she must, alas! in all
probability be with Reginald -- & that would be the greatest evil
Here we shall in time be in peace. Our regular employments, our
Books & conversation, with Exercise, the Children, & every
domestic pleasure in my power to procure her, will, I trust,
gradually overcome this youthful attachment. I should not have a
doubt of it, were she slighted for any other woman in the world
than her own Mother.
How long Lady Susan will be in Town, or whether she returns here
again, I know not. I could not be cordial in my invitation; but
if she chuses to come, no want of cordiality on my part will keep
I could not help asking Reginald if he intended being in Town this
winter, as soon as I found her Ladyship's steps would be bent
thither; & tho' he professed himself quite undetermined, there was
something in his look & voice as he spoke which contradicted his
words. I have done with Lamentation. I look upon the event as so
far decided that I resign myself to it in despair. If he leaves
you soon for London, everything will be concluded.
Mrs. Johnson to Lady Susan.
My dearest Friend
I write in the greatest distress; the most unfortunate event has
just taken place. Mr. Johnson has hit on the most effectual
manner of plaguing us all. He had heard, I imagine, by some means
or other, that you were soon to be in London, & immediately
contrived to have such an attack of the Gout as must at least
delay his journey to Bath, if not wholly prevent it. I am
persuaded the Gout is brought on or kept off at pleasure; it was
the same when I wanted to join the Hamiltons to the Lakes; & three
years ago, when _I_ had a fancy for Bath, nothing could induce him
to have a Gouty symptom.
I have received yours, & have engaged the Lodgings in consequence.
I am pleased to find that my Letter had so much effect on you, &
that De Courcy is certainly your own. Let me hear from you as
soon as you arrive, & in particular tell me what you mean to do
with Manwaring. It is impossible to say when I shall be able to
see you; my confinement must be great. It is such an abominable
trick to be ill here instead of at Bath that I can scarcely
command myself at all. At Bath, his old Aunts would have nursed
him, but here it all falls upon me -- & he bears pain with such
patience that I have not the common excuse for losing my temper.
Lady Susan Vernon to Mrs. Johnson.
Upper Seymour St.
My dear Alicia
There needed not this last fit of the Gout to make me detest
Mr. Johnson, but now the extent of my aversion is not to be
estimated. To have you confined as Nurse in his apartment! My
dear Alicia, of what a mistake were you guilty in marrying a Man
of his age! -- just old enough to be formal, ungovernable, & to
have the Gout; too old to be agreable, too young to die.
I arrived last night about five, & had scarcely swallowed my
dinner when Manwaring made his appearance. I will not dissemble
what real pleasure his sight afforded me, nor how strongly I felt
the contrast between his person & manners & those of Reginald, to
the infinite disadvantage of the latter. For an hour or two I was
even staggered in my resolution of marrying him, & tho' this was
too idle & nonsensical an idea to remain long on my mind, I do not
feel very eager for the conclusion of my Marriage, nor look
forward with much impatience to the time when Reginald, according
to our agreement, is to be in Town. I shall probably put off his
arrival under some pretence or other. He must not come till
Manwaring is gone.
I am still doubtful at times as to Marriage. If the old Man would
die, I might not hesitate; but a state of dependence on the
caprice of Sir Reginald will not suit the freedom of my spirit; &
if I resolve to wait for that event, I shall have excuse enough at
present, in having been scarcely ten months a Widow.
I have not given Manwaring any hint of my intention, or allowed
him to consider my acquaintance with Reginald as more than the
commonest flirtation, & he is tolerably appeased. Adieu, till we
meet; I am enchanted with my Lodgings.
Lady Susan Vernon to Mr. De Courcy
Upper Seymour St.
I have received your Letter, & tho' I do not attempt to conceal
that I am gratified by your impatience for the hour of meeting, I
yet feel myself under the necessity of delaying that hour beyond
the time originally fixed. Do not think me unkind for such an
exercise of my power, nor accuse me of Instability without first
hearing my reasons. In the course of my journey from Churchill, I
had ample leisure for reflection on the present state of our
affairs, & every review has served to convince me that they
require a delicacy & cautiousness of conduct to which we have
hitherto been too little attentive. We have been hurried on by
our feelings to a degree of Precipitation which ill accords with
the claims of our Friends or the opinion of the World. We have
been unguarded in forming this hasty Engagement, but we must not
complete the imprudence by ratifying it while there is so much
reason to fear the Connection would be opposed by those Friends on
whom you depend.
It is not for us to blame any expectations on your Father's side
of your marrying to advantage; where possessions are so extensive
as those of your Family, the wish of increasing them, if not
strictly reasonable, is too common to excite surprise or
resentment. He has a right to require a woman of fortune in his
daughter in law, & I am sometimes quarrelling with myself for
suffering you to form a connection so imprudent; but the influence
of reason is often acknowledged too late by those who feel like
I have now been but a few months a widow; and, however little
indebted to my Husband's memory for any happiness derived from him
during a Union of some years, I cannot forget that the indelicacy
of so early a second marriage must subject me to the censure of
the World, & incur, what would be still more insupportable, the
displeasure of Mr. Vernon. I might perhaps harden myself in time
against the injustice of general reproach, but the loss of _his_
valued Esteem I am, as you well know, ill-fitted to endure; & when
to this may be added the consciousness of having injured you with
your Family, how am I to support myself? With feelings so
poignant as mine, the conviction of having divided the son from
his Parents would make me, even with _you_, the most miserable of
It will surely, therefore, be advisable to delay our Union, to
delay it till appearances are more promising, till affairs have
taken a more favourable turn. To assist us in such a resolution,
I feel that absence will be necessary. We must not meet. Cruel
as this sentence may appear, the necessity of pronouncing it,
which can alone reconcile it to myself, will be evident to you
when you have considered our situation in the light in which I
have found myself imperiously obliged to place it. You may be --
you must be -- well assured that nothing but the strongest
conviction of Duty could induce me to wound my own feelings by
urging a lengthened separation, & of insensibility to yours you
will hardly suspect me. Again, therefore, I say that we ought
not, we must not yet meet. By a removal for some Months from each
other, we shall tranquillize the sisterly fears of Mrs. Vernon,
who, accustomed herself to the enjoyment of riches, considers
Fortune as necessary everywhere, & whose Sensibilities are not of
a nature to comprehend ours.
Let me hear from you soon -- very soon. Tell me that you submit
to my Arguments, & do not reproach me for using such. I cannot
bear reproaches: my spirits are not so high as to need being
repressed. I must endeavour to seek amusement abroad, &
fortunately many of my Friends are in town; among them the
Manwarings; you know how sincerely I regard both Husband & wife.
I am ever, Faithfully Yours
Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson.
Upper Seymour St.
My dear Friend,
That tormenting creature Reginald is here. My Letter, which was
intended to keep him longer in the Country, has hastened him to
Town. Much as I wish him away, however, I cannot help being
pleased with such a proof of attachment. He is devoted to me,
heart & soul. He will carry this note himself, which is to serve
as an Introduction to you, with whom he longs to be acquainted.
Allow him to spend the Evening with you, that I may be in no
danger of his returning here. I have told him that I am not quite
well, & must be alone; & should he call again there might be
confusion, for it is impossible to be sure of servants. Keep him,
therefore, I entreat you, in Edward St. You will not find him a
heavy companion, & I allow you to flirt with him as much as you
like. At the same time do not forget my real interest; say all
that you can to convince him that I shall be quite wretched if he
remains here; you know my reasons -- Propriety, & so forth.
I would urge them more myself, but that I am impatient to be rid
of him, as Manwaring comes within half an hour. Adieu,
Mrs. Johnson to Lady Susan
My dear Creature,
I am in agonies, & know not what to do, nor what _you_ can do.
Mr. De Courcy arrived just when he should not. Mrs. Manwaring had
that instant entered the House, & forced herself into her
Guardian's presence, tho' I did not know a syllable of it till
afterwards, for I was out when both she & Reginald came, or I
should have sent him away at all events; but _she_ was shut up
with Mr. Johnson, while _he_ waited in the Drawing room for me.
She arrived yesterday in pursuit of her Husband; but perhaps you
know this already from himself. She came to this house to entreat
my Husband's interference, & before I could be aware of it,
everything that you could wish to be concealed was known to him, &
unluckily she had wormed out of Manwaring's servant that he had
visited you every day since your being in Town, & had just watched
him to your door herself! What could I do? Facts are such horrid
things! All is by this time known to De Courcy, who is now alone
with Mr. Johnson. Do not accuse me; indeed, it was impossible to
prevent it. Mr. Johnson has for some time suspected De Courcy of
intending to marry you, & would speak with him alone as soon as he
knew him to be in the House.
That detestable Mrs. Manwaring, who, for your comfort, has fretted
herself thinner & uglier than ever, is still here, & they have
been all closeted together. What can be done? At any rate, I
hope he will plague his wife more than ever. With anxious wishes,
Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson
Upper Seymour St.
This Eclaircissement is rather provoking. How unlucky that you
should have been from home! I thought myself sure of you at 7.
I am undismayed, however. Do not torment yourself with fears on
my account; depend on it, I can make my story good with Reginald.
Manwaring is just gone; he brought me the news of his wife's
arrival. Silly woman, what does she expect by such Manoeuvres?
Yet I wish she had staid quietly at Langford.
Reginald will be a little enraged at first, but by To-morrow's
Dinner everything will be well again.
Mr. De Courcy to Lady Susan.
I write only to bid you Farewell. The spell is removed; I see you
as you are. Since we parted yesterday, I have received from
indisputable authority such an history of you as must bring the
most mortifying conviction of the Imposition I have been under, &
the absolute necessity of an immediate & eternal separation from
you. You cannot doubt to what I allude. Langford -- Langford --
that word will be sufficient. I received my information in
Mr. Johnson's house, from Mrs. Manwaring herself.
You know how I have loved you; you can intimately judge of my
present feelings; but I am not so weak as to find indulgence in
describing them to a woman who will glory in having excited their
anguish, but whose affection they have never been able to gain.
R. DE COURCY.
Lady Susan to Mr. De Courcy
Upper Seymour St.
I will not attempt to describe my astonishment in reading the note
this moment received from you. I am bewildered in my endeavours
to form some rational conjecture of what Mrs. Manwaring can have
told you, to occasion so extraordinary a change in your
sentiments. Have I not explained everything to you with respect
to myself which could bear a doubtful meaning, & which the
ill-nature of the World had interpreted to my Discredit? What can
you _now_ have heard to stagger your Esteem for me? Have I ever
had a concealment from you? Reginald, you agitate me beyond
expression. I cannot suppose that the old story of
Mrs. Manwaring's jealousy can be revived again, or at least be
_listened_ to again. Come to me immediately, & explain what is at
present absolutely incomprehensible. Beleive me, the single word
of _Langford_ is not of such potent intelligence as to supersede
the necessity of more. If we _are_ to part, it will at least be
handsome to take your personal Leave. But I have little heart to
jest; in truth, I am serious enough -- for to be sunk, tho' but
for an hour, in your esteem is an humiliation to which I know not
how to submit. I shall count every minute till your arrival.
Mr. De Courcy to Lady Susan
Why would you write to me? Why do you require particulars? But
since it must be so, I am obliged to declare that all the accounts
of your misconduct during the life & since the death of
Mr. Vernon, which had reached me, in common with the World in
general, & gained my entire belief before I saw you, but which
you, by the exertion of your perverted Abilities, had made me
resolve to disallow, have been unanswerably proved to me. Nay,
more, I am assured that a connection of which I had never before
entertained a thought, has for some time existed, & still
continues to exist, between you & the Man whose family you robbed
of its Peace, in return for the hospitality with which you were
received into it! That you have corresponded with him ever since
your leaving Langford -- not with his wife -- but with him -- &
that he now visits you every day. Can you, dare you deny it? &
all this at the time when I was an encouraged, an accepted Lover!
From what have I not escaped! I have only to be grateful. Far
from me be all complaint, & every sigh of regret. My own Folly
had endangered me, my Preservation I owe to the kindness, the
Integrity of another. But the unfortunate Mrs. Manwaring, whose
agonies while she related the past seemed to threaten her reason
-- how is _she_ to be consoled?
After such a discovery as this, you will scarcely affect further
wonder at my meaning in bidding you Adieu. My Understanding is at
length restored, & teaches me no less to abhor the Artifices which
had subdued me than to despise myself for the weakness on which
their strength was founded.
R. DE COURCY
Lady Susan to Mr. De Courcy
Upper Seymour St.
I am satisfied -- & will trouble you no more when these few lines
are dismissed. The Engagement which you were eager to form a
fortnight ago is no longer compatible with your views, & I rejoice
to find that the prudent advice of your Parents has not been given
in vain. Your restoration to Peace will, I doubt not, speedily
follow this act of filial Obedience, & I flatter myself with the
hope of surviving _my_ share in this disappointment.
Mrs. Johnson to Lady Susan Vernon
I am grieved, tho' I cannot be astonished, at your rupture with
Mr. De Courcy; he has just informed Mr. Johnson of it by letter.
He leaves London, he says, to-day. Be assured that I partake in
all your feelings, & do not be angry if I say that our
intercourse, even by Letter, must soon be given up. It makes me
miserable; but Mr. Johnson vows that if I persist in the
connection, he will settle in the country for the rest of his life
-- & you know it is impossible to submit to such an extremity
while any other alternative remains.
You have heard of course that the Manwarings are to part, & I am
afraid Mrs. M. will come home to us again; but she is still so
fond of her Husband, & frets so much about him, that perhaps she
may not live long.
Miss Manwaring is just come to Town to be with her Aunt, & they
say that she declares she will have Sir James Martin before she
leaves London again. If I were you, I would certainly get him
myself. I had almost forgot to give you my opinion of Mr. De
Courcy, I am really delighted with him; he is full as handsome, I
think, as Manwaring, & with such an open, good-humoured
countenance that one cannot help loving him at first sight.
Mr. Johnson & he are the greatest friends in the World. Adieu, my
dearest Susan. I wish matters did not go so perversely. That
unlucky visit to Langford! But I dare say you did all for the
best, & there is no defying Destiny.
Yr. sincerely attached
Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson.
Upper Seymour St.
My dear Alicia
I yeild to the necessity which parts us. Under circumstances you
could not act otherwise. Our friendship cannot be impaired by it,
& in happier times, when your situation is as independent as mine,
it will unite us again in the same Intimacy as ever. For this I
shall impatiently wait; & meanwhile can safely assure you that I
never was more at ease, or better satisfied with myself &
everything about me than at the present hour. Your Husband I
abhor -- Reginald I despise -- & I am secure of never seeing
either again. Have I not reason to rejoice? Manwaring is more
devoted to me than ever; & were he at liberty, I doubt if I could
resist even Matrimony offered by _him_. This event, if his wife
live with you, it may be in your power to hasten. The violence of
her feelings, which must wear her out, may be easily kept in
irritation. I rely on your friendship for this. I am now
satisfied that I never could have brought myself to marry
Reginald; & am equally determined that Frederica never _shall_.
To-morrow I shall fetch her from Churchill, & let Maria Manwaring
tremble for the consequence. Frederica shall be Sir James's wife
before she quits my house. _She_ may whimper, & the Vernons may
storm; I regard them not. I am tired of submitting my will to the
Caprices of others; of resigning my own Judgement in deference to
those to whom I owe no Duty, & for whom I feel no respect. I have
given up too much, have been too easily worked on; but Frederica
shall now find the difference.
Adieu, dearest of Friends. May the next Gouty Attack be more
favourable! And may you always regard me as unalterably yours
Lady De Courcy to Mrs. Vernon.
My dear Catherine
I have charming news for you, & if I had not sent off my Letter
this morning, you might have been spared the vexation of knowing
of Reginald's being gone to Town, for he is returned, Reginald is
returned, not to ask our consent to his marrying Lady Susan, but
to tell us they are parted forever! He has been only an hour in
the House, & I have not been able to learn particulars, for he is
so very low that I have not the heart to ask questions; but I hope
we shall soon know all. This is the most joyful hour he has ever
given us since the day of his birth. Nothing is wanting but to
have you here, & it is our particular wish & entreaty that you
would come to us as soon as you can. You have owed us a visit
many long weeks. I hope nothing will make it inconvenient to
Mr. Vernon, & pray bring all my Grand-Children; & your dear Neice
is included, of course; I long to see her. It has been a sad,
heavy winter hitherto, without Reginald, & seeing nobody from
Churchill. I never found the season so dreary before; but this
happy meeting will make us young again. Frederica runs much in my
thoughts, & when Reginald has recovered his usual good spirits (as
I trust he soon will), we will try to rob him of his heart once
more, & I am full of hopes of seeing their hands joined at no
Yr. affec: Mother,
C. DE COURCY.
Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy
My dear Madam
Your Letter has surprised me beyond measure! Can it be true that
they are really separated -- & forever? I should be overjoyed if
I dared depend on it, but after all that I have seen, how can one
be secure? And Reginald really with you! My surprise is the
greater because on Wednesday, the very day of his coming to
Parklands, we had a most unexpected & unwelcome visit from Lady
Susan, looking all chearfulness & good-humour, & seeming more as
if she were to marry him when she got to London, than as if parted
from him forever. She staid nearly two hours, was as affectionate
& agreable as ever, & not a syllable, not a hint, was dropped of
any disagreement or coolness between them. I asked her whether
she had seen my Brother since his arrival in Town -- not, as you
may suppose, with any doubt of the fact, but merely to see how she
looked. She immediately answered, without any embarrassment, that
he had been kind enough to call on her on Monday, but she beleived
he had already returned home -- which I was very far from
Your kind invitation is accepted by us with pleasure, & on
Thursday next we & our little ones will be with you. Pray Heaven,
Reginald may not be in Town again by that time!
I wish we could bring dear Frederica too, but I am sorry to say
that her Mother's errand hither was to fetch her away; and,
miserable as it made the poor Girl, it was impossible to detain
her. I was thoroughly unwilling to let her go, & so was her
Uncle; & all that could be urged we _did_ urge; but Lady Susan
declared that as she was now about to fix herself in Town for
several Months, she could not be easy if her Daughter were not
with her, for Masters, &c. Her Manner, to be sure, was very kind
& proper, & Mr. Vernon beleives that Frederica will now be treated
with affection. I wish I could think so too!
The poor girl's heart was almost broke at taking leave of us.
I charged her to write to me very often, & to remember that if she
were in any distress we should be always her friends. I took care
to see her alone, that I might say all this, & I hope made her a
little more comfortable. But I shall not be easy till I can go to
Town & judge of her situation myself.
I wish there were a better prospect than now appears of the Match
which the conclusion of your Letter declares your expectation of.
At present it is not very likely.
This Correspondence, by a meeting between some of the parties, & a
separation between the others, could not, to the great detriment
of the Post office Revenue, be continued longer. Very little
assistance to the State could be derived from the Epistolary
Intercourse of Mrs. Vernon & her neice; for the former soon
perceived, by the style of Frederica's letters, that they were
written under her Mother's inspection, & therefore deferring all
particular inquiry till she could make it personally in Town,
ceased writing minutely or often.
Having learnt enough in the meanwhile from her open-hearted
Brother, of what had passed between him & Lady Susan to sink the
latter lower than ever in her opinion, she was proportionably more
anxious to get Frederica removed from such a Mother, & placed
under her own care; and, tho' with little hope of success, was
resolved to leave nothing unattempted that might offer a chance of
obtaining her Sister-in-law's consent to it. Her anxiety on the
subject made her press for an early visit to London; & Mr. Vernon,
who, as it must already have appeared, lived only to do whatever
he was desired, soon found some accommodating Business to call him
thither. With a heart full of the Matter, Mrs. Vernon waited on
Lady Susan shortly after her arrival in Town, & was met with such
an easy & chearful affection, as made her almost turn from her
with horror. No remembrance of Reginald, no consciousness of
Guilt, gave one look of embarrassment. She was in excellent
spirits, & seemed eager to shew at once, by every possible
attention to her Brother & Sister, her sense of their kindness, &
her pleasure in their society.
Frederica was no more altered than Lady Susan; the same restrained
Manners, the same timid Look in the presence of her Mother as
heretofore, assured her Aunt of her situation's being
uncomfortable, & confirmed her in the plan of altering it. No
unkindness, however, on the part of Lady Susan appeared.
Persecution on the subject of Sir James was entirely at an end --
his name merely mentioned to say that he was not in London; &
indeed, in all her conversation she was solicitous only for the
welfare & improvement of her Daughter, acknowledging, in terms of
grateful delight, that Frederica was now growing every day more &
more what a Parent could desire.
Mrs. Vernon, surprised & incredulous, knew not what to suspect,
and, without any change in her own views, only feared greater
difficulty in accomplishing them. The first hope of anything
better was derived from Lady Susan's asking her whether she
thought Frederica looked quite as well as she had done at
Churchill, as she must confess herself to have sometimes an
anxious doubt of London's perfectly agreeing with her.
Mrs. Vernon, encouraging the doubt, directly proposed her Neice's
returning with them into the country. Lady Susan was unable to
express her sense of such kindness, yet knew not, from a variety
of reasons, how to part with her Daughter; & as, tho' her own
plans were not yet wholly fixed, she trusted it would ere long be
in her power to take Frederica into the country herself, concluded
by declining entirely to profit by such unexampled attention.
Mrs. Vernon, however, persevered in the offer of it; & tho' Lady
Susan continued to resist, her resistance in the course of a few
days seemed somewhat less formidable.
The lucky alarm of an Influenza decided what might not have been
decided quite so soon. Lady Susan's maternal fears were then too
much awakened for her to think of anything but Frederica's removal
from the risk of infection. Above all Disorders in the World, she
most dreaded the influenza for her Daughter's constitution!
Frederica returned to Churchill with her uncle & aunt; & three
weeks afterwards, Lady Susan announced her being married to Sir
Mrs. Vernon was then convinced of what she had only suspected
before, that she might have spared herself all the trouble of
urging a removal which Lady Susan had doubtless resolved on from
the first. Frederica's visit was nominally for six weeks; but her
Mother, tho' inviting her to return in one or two affectionate
Letters, was very ready to oblige the whole Party by consenting to
a prolongation of her stay, & in the course of two months ceased
to write of her absence, & in the course of two more to write to
her at all.
Frederica was therefore fixed in the family of her Uncle & Aunt
till such time as Reginald De Courcy could be talked, flattered, &
finessed into an affection for her -- which, allowing leisure for
the conquest of his attachment to her Mother, for his abjuring all
future attachments, & detesting the Sex, might be reasonably
looked for in the course of a Twelvemonth. Three Months might
have done it in general, but Reginald's feelings were no less
lasting than lively.
Whether Lady Susan was or was not happy in her second Choice -- I
do not see how it can ever be ascertained -- for who would take
her assurance of it on either side of the question? The World
must judge from Probability; she had nothing against her but her
Husband & her Conscience.
Sir James may seem to have drawn a harder lot than mere Folly
merited. I leave him, therefore, to all the Pity that anybody can
give him. For myself, I confess that _I_ can pity only Miss
Manwaring, who, coming to Town & putting herself to an expense in
Cloathes which impoverished her for two years, on purpose to
secure him, was defrauded of her due by a Woman ten years older
Genealogical table of Vernons and De Courcys in _Lady Susan_
Sir Reginald === Lady C.
De Courcy | De Courcy
| | | |
| | | |
---- Vernon === Lady Susan Charles === Catherine V. Reginald
ELDEST SON | (About 35 Vernon | ne'e De Courcy De Courcy
Died recently | years old) | ELDEST SON
Frederica Susanna Vernon several
(16 years old) children