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tion itself in all its natural black colours before his eyes, with all the consequences which must, and those which might, probably attend it, his resolution began to abate, or rather indeed to go over to the other side; and after a long conflict, which lasted a whole night between honour and appetite, the former at length prevailed, and he determined to wait on Lady Bellaston, and to relinquish the design.
Lady Bellaston was in bed, though very late in the morning, and Sophia sitting by her bed-side, when the servant acquainted her that Lord Fellamar was below in the parlour; upon which her ladyship desired him to stay, and that she would see him presently; but the servant was no sooner departed, than poor Sophia began to entreat her cousin not to encourage the visits of that odious lord (so she called him, though a little unjustly), upon her account. I see his design,' said she; for he made downright love to me yesterday morning; but as I am resolved never to admit it, I beg your, ladyship not to leave us alone together any more, and to order the servants that, if he inquires for me, I may be always denied to him."
La child,' says Lady Bellaston, you country girls have nothing but sweethearts in your heads; you fancy every man who is civil to you is making love. He is oue of the most gallant young fellows about town, and I am convinced means no more than a little gallantry. Make love to you, indeed! I wish with all my heart he would; and you must be an arrant mad woman to refuse him.'
But as I shall certainly be that mad woman,' cries Sophia, 'I hope his visits shall not be intruded upon me.'
O child!' said Lady Bellaston, you need not be so fearful; if you resolve to, run away with that Jones, I know no person who can hinder you.'
Upon my honour, madam,' cries Sophia, your
ladyship injures me. I will never run away with any man; nor will I ever marry contrary to my father's inclinations."
Well, Miss Western,' said the lady, if you are not in a humour to see company this morning, you may retire to your own apartment; for I am not frightened at his lordship, and must send for him up into my dressing-room.'
-Sophia thanked her ladyship, and withdrew; and presently afterwards Fellamar was admitted up stairs.
WHEN Lady Bellaston heard the young lord's
scruples, she treated them with the same disdain with which one of those sages of the law, called Newgate solicitors, treats the qualms of conscience in a young witness. My dear lord,' said she, you certainly want a cordial! I must send to Lady Edgely, for one of her best drams. Fie upon it! have more resolution. Are you frightened by the word rape? Or are you apprehensive... Well! if the story of Helen was modern, I should think it unnatural: I mean the behaviour of Paris, not the fondness of the lady; for all women love a man of spirit. There is another story of the Sabine ladies, ---and that too, 1 thank Heaven, is very ancient. Your lordship, perhaps, will admire my reading; but I think Mr. Hook tells us, they made tolerable good wives afterwards. I fancy few of my married acquaintance were ravished by their husbands. Nay, dear Lady Bellaston,' cried he, don't ridicule me in this manner.' Why, my good lord,' answered she, do you think any woman in England would not laugh at you in her heart, whatever prudery she might wear in her countenance! You force me to use a strange kind of language, and to betray my sex most abominably; but I am contented with
knowing my intentions are good, and that I am endeavouring to serve my cousin; for I think you will make her a husband notwithstanding this; or, upon my soul, I would not even persuade her to fling herself away upon an empty title. She should not upbraid me hereafter with having lost a man of spirit; for that his enemies allow this poor young fellow to be.'
Let those, who have had the satisfaction of hearing reflections of this kind from a wife or a mistress, declare whether they are at all sweetened by coming from a female tongue. Certain it is they sunk deeper into his lordship than any thing which Demosthenes or Cicero could have said on the occasion.
Lady Bellaston, perceiving she had fired the young lord's pride, began now, like a true orator, to rouse other passions to its assistance. My lord, says she, in a grave voice, you will be pleased to remember, you mentioned this matter to me first; for I would not appear to you in the light of one who is endeavouring to put off my cousin upon you. Fourscore thousand pounds do not stand in need of an advocate to recommend them. Nor does Miss Western,' said he, require any recommendation from her fortune; for, in my opinion, no woman ever had half her charms.' Yes, yes, my lord,'
replied the lady, looking in the glass, there have been women with more than half her charms, I assure you; not that I need lessen her an that account: she is a most delicious girl, that's certain; and within these few hours she will be in the arms of one, who surely doth not deserve her; though I will give him his due, I believe he is truly a man of spirit.'
I hope so, madam,' said my lord; though I must own he doth not deserve her; for unless Heaven, or your ladyship, disappoint me, she shall within that time be in mine.'
Well spoken, my lord,' answered the lady: 'I
promise you no disappointment shall happen from my side; and within this week I am convinced I shall call your lordship my cousin in public.'
The remainder of this scene consisted entirely of raptures, excuses, and compliments, very pleasant to have heard from the parties, but rather dull when related at second hand. Here, therefore, we shall put an end to this dialogue, and hasten to the fatal hour, when every thing was prepared for the. destruction of poor Sophia.
But this being the most tragical matter in our whole history, we shall treat it in a chapter by itself,
THE clock had now struck seven, and poor Sophia, alone and melancholy, sat reading a tra gedy. It was The Fatal Marriage; and she was now come to that part where the poor distressed Isabella disposes of her wedding-ring.
Here the book dropped from her hand, and a shower of tears ran down into her bosom. In this situation she had continued a minute, when the door opened, and in came Lord Fellamar. Sophia started from her chair at his entrance: and his lordship advancing forwards, and making a low bow, said, I am afraid, Miss Western, I break in upon you abruptly. Indeed, my lord,' says she, I must own myself a little surprised at this unexpect ed visit. If this visit be unexpected, madam,' answered Lord Fellamar, my eyes must have been very faithless interpreters of my heart, when last I had the honour of seeing you; for surely you could not otherwise have hoped to detain my heart in your possession, without receiving a visit from its owner.' Sophia, confused as she was, answered this bombast (and very properly I think) with a
ook of inconceivable disdain. My lord then made another and a longer speech of the same sort. Upon which Sophia, trembling, said, Am I really to conceive your lordship to be out of your senses? Sure, my lord, there is no other excuse for such behaviour. I am, indeed, madam, in the situation you suppose,' cries his lordship; and sure you will pardon the effects of a phrensy which you your self have occasioned; for love hath so totally depriv ed me of reason, that I am scarce accountable for any of my actions. Upon my word, my lord,' said Sophia, 'I neither understand your words nor your bes haviour.' 'Suffer me then, madam,' cries he, 'at your feet to explain both, by laying open my soul to you, and declaring that I doat on you to the highest degree of distraction. O most adorable, most divine creature! what language can express the sentiments of my heart? I do assure you, my lord,' said Sophia, I shall not stay to hear any more of this." "Do not,' cries he, think of leaving me thas cruelly: could you know half the torments which I feel, that tender bosom must pity what those eyes have caused.' Then fetching a deep sigh, and laying hold of her hand, he ran on for some minutes in a strain which would be little more pleasing to the reader than it was to the lady; and at last concluded with a declaration, That if he was master of the world, he would lay it at her feet. Sophia then forcibly pulling away her hand from his, answered with much spirit, I promise you, sir, your world and its master, I should spurn from me with equal contempt.' She then offered to go; and Lord Fel. Jamar again laying hold of her hand, said, Pardon me, my beloved angel, freedoms which nothing but despair could have tempted me to take. Believe me, could I have had any hope that my title and fortune, neither of them inconsiderable, unless when compared with your worth, would have been accepted, I had, in the humblest manner, presented them to your acceptance. But I cannot lose you!