previous Previous Next next


From Henrietta
XII.

Saturday Night 10 OClock

I have just left you and am now retired to my chamber, but finding
myself not much inclined to repose, I shall spend all the hours in which I shall
continue wakeful till in writing to you. But I will a second time, peruse your letter. Yet
there can be no necessity for reading it again, and the impression which your
eloquent incoherences have already p[gap] made upon me, do not require a
Repetition. I shall not easily forget your letter, but as it has, for the most part
been the ‸ subject of the conversation which I just finished, I should perhaps, in attempting
to answer it particularly, I should only repeat what has already been, with so much vehemence and copiousness, discussed. I shall therefore abstract my
attention from and confine myself to other topics, and yet my friend how is
that possible? By what efforts can I extricate myself from the maze in which
your letter has bewildered me? By one passage I am thrown into a fit of indignatio
and resentment, by another my heart is overwhelmed by tenderness and pity: by
by tenderness love and Admiration. One part of it I can scarcely forbear tearing into
pieces, and I am ready to disclaim all connection with the Authour, while anothe
softens all my soul into fondness and compassion, and fills me with a vehement
longing, to furnish him, consistently with virtue, ‸ with the most unquestionable
proofs of the strength and sincerity of my Attachment, that can be given
consistently with virtue. The conclusion justifies or rather excuses the Introduction
and I confess to you that, notwithstanding some parts are so obnoxious that
I cannot prevail upon myself to read them a second time, yet I cannot
prevail upon myself to wish that those parts had been omitted, or that
your letter had, in any respect, ‸ been otherwise than it is. Inexplicable Unintelligible
Creature! When shall I know the perfectly? When I shall I become acquainted
with all thy faults and all thy excellences? Each hour I discover somewhat
that I had not before known; and which I did not expect to find,?


 image pending 39

and the discoveries of the last hours, are equally unexpected and surprising
with those of the first. My acquaintance with you has at least been
productive of one Advantage. It has taught me hereafter to place no
confidence in external appearances, and to judge only in consequence of
knowledge, and yet, at this early period of our intimacy, and when
I am conscious that I am far from knowing you thoroughly, I cannot help
forming a very favourable opinion of you. This you will readily believe
for can you imagine that I should otherwise have consented to recieve
and answer your letters, or have so frequently permitted your personal visits
But have I hitherto acted indiscreetely? It is true that I do not know you
thoroughly, but do I not know enough of you to justify my confidence

How perfectly do I recollect all the circumstances of the origin
of our friendship? Nine months ago how should I foresee that the youth
whom I observed frequently observed passing my window and whose
habit and demeanour gave no tokens of his real character, would at
this time have acquired all my confidence, and bound ‸ me to him in the
bonds of indissoluble affection? I saw you often but I saw you only
with indifference, untill, one morning, as you passed the window I
I observed you looking into it with a timid but eager curiosity.
When you saw nobody you appeared disappointed, and slakened your pace
to examine more attentively. But you suddenly met my eyes. You were
startled, were covered with blushes and confusion. You tremblingly hasted
away and left me in a situation not very different from your own
Your behavior considered superficially, and unaccompanied with certain
minute but uncommon circumstances, would only have excited
indignation or scorn. ‸ I should have esteemed you contemptible, foolish, or unpardonably audacious
but the anxiety which was depicted in your countenance
A certain reluctance and fear of offending, mingled with invincible
curiosity sufficiently shewed that you were not a transient nor accidental
nor impudent ‸ nor or silly gazer, and this favorable opinion could not but
recieve the strongest confirmation on observing the manner in which you
acted when you saw that I was looking at you.

All that day your idea your idea haunted me incessantly. I endeavoured
to amuse myself at the Harpsichord, but it was impossible to pin my attention
on it. In the midst of a tune my fingers sank into a kind of involuntary


 image pending 40

inaction. My eyes wandered on from the notes. I mistook the keys, confounded the
time, and blundered in the execution. I thought of nothing but the modest
confusion, the ingenuous aspect of the gazer. I turned over several pages of a
book without knowing what it was that I held in my hand, and being
visited by some young ladies in the evening, was still as musing and thought
full as ever, and all their sprightliness and vivacity were in vain exerted
to recall me to myself, to rouse me from my reverie. I spent the greater
part of the Night unable to close my eyes. I continually saw you before me
Your blushes your embarrassment, were still visible. I began to be alarmed
at myself. Why (said I to myself) cannot I get rid of this object. Let me
think on indifferent matters Miss Thomson n she is an amiable girl &, accompli
polite. Why did he look in? Was he not searching for me? The poor youth
is certainly in love. Alas! I am affraid that I also am infected by the
same contagion. By love? for whom? An absolute stranger. Perhaps mean
unworthy and ‸ immoral & illiterate. And yet why should ‸ I form so severe a judgement of him
There is nothing in ‸ his appearance inconsistent with genius and integrity. Has
he not intelligent features? A penetrating eye? his modesty is unquestionab
How was he embarrassed when he saw me! Perhaps he wanted to address me
to excuse his presumption. To solicit my forgiveness. But I frowned upon him.
My air of severity intimidated him. Why did I display this unseasonable
haughtiness? He did not merit disdain. His deportment was all gentleness
But poor youth! methinks I pity him. I wish he had spoken to me, and
been his own introducer. But if he be really in love he will find a way
to make it known. And who knows what excellences may be concealed under
that homely exterior? But why should I think of him? He is he can be nothing
to me. Am I not becoming a victim to love? What new emotions are these?
Did I ever feel similar ones before? This youth. I cannot thrust ‸ exclude his Image
from my mind. I fear it will make me unhappy.

In this manner manner did I muse and thus interrogate myself
for a considerable time; at length overtook me, but you still haunted my
Imagination. I saw you under a thousand different shapes. At one time
methought, you came to visit me in a magnificant Equipage, with a splen


 image pending 41

did Retinue. At another time that you put on a mean disguise and became
a servant of the gardener, and that you threw down your spade, and discovered
yourself to me, as I happened, one morning, to be walking alone in the Garden
Afterwards I thought you overleapt the garden wall, by moonlight and
suddenly appeared before me while I was sitting in the Summer house
reflecting on the circumstances of your first appearance to me.

I will not recount all ‸ the phantastic incidents which happened during
the course of that night. I rightly conjectured that if love were your [gap]
dissease, you would speedily contrive a method of disclosing it. It was
happy for you that you found a condescending mistress, and fortunate
for me that I had not laid myself under any obligation to another
before I saw you, for whatever my previous obligations, ‸ had been unless they had
originated in love, I could not have resisted the emotions with which
the Sight of you inspired me, and should therefore have been condemned
to waste my days in an unhappy contest between love and duty, and
what effects would not my inexorable dislike or ‸ invincible indifference have produced
on the wild impetuous and ungovernable passions of my friend? I tremble
to think of what would probably have been the consequence, but still
notwithstanding all my condescention and indulgence, you are still unsatissfied
Have I not told you that my resolutions are taken. That the grave shall
recieve me, before I give myself to the arms of another, and do you think that
this resolution can possibly be shaken! Let me assure you my friend that
my fortitude is equall to the severest trial, which can encounter it,
and that there is no obstacle to our final union, which cannot be
surmounted by female intrepidity and perseverance. Why is not this
assurance satisfactory? Will nothing content you but that of which
the acquisition is impossible? Awake, my friend: Be no longer the slave of
Shadows and chimeras. Why will you be still a child? Enjoy the felicity
which is allotted to you. Our union is already begun. Our minds are wedded to
each other. We shall be One to all eternity.

Forbear to make your letters the vehicls of ‸ such outrageous passions. Moderate
your transports I beseach you, and endeavour to transfuse into your letters some
what of that purity and delicacy which distinguishes your conversation.



 image pending 42

You undoubtedly intertain a meaner opinion of my capacity than my vanity
can patiently bear, or why in the letters, which you write to me are not the
same topics discussed, as in those which you communicate to your friend.
I am far from supposing that I should be able to extend the knowledge or
rectify the opinions of my friend, but I am certain that I should be greatly
benefited by his instructions. Let this consideration induce you to give to your
future letters a more literary or speculative cast, than is visible in those
which you have heretofore written. I have heard you say that you have had
better opportunities of knowing mankind, been acquainted with a greater
variety of Characters and of scenes than any other person. This is my friend is ‸ doubtless
a very modest assertion, and nothing, could with less propriety, be mentioned as
proof of vanity, but if this ‸ be true why will you not communicate a few
particulars to me, and make me the same wonderful proficient as yourself
in this most useful species of Knowledge? Do you think I should not be
highly interested in the relations narratives which relate to yourself, and I am too
well acquainted with the talents of my friend, to imagine that he would
be ‸ un able to give to the most common and familiar incidents, the graces of
novelty and the aspect of importance.

I will not prolong this letter though I yet feel no inclination to
sleep. It is not likely that I should every weary or slumberous in writing to
my dearest friend, and therefore it must be some other motive sleepiness
that can induce me to lay aside the pen, and the reason why I leave it
now is because I think I have written sufficiently.


previous Previous Next next