Зображення сторінки

he turned anxiously round, attentive to the re- ! nounced to Dorriforth, he turned palem-something ply.

like a foreboding of disaster trembled at his heart, “Miss Milner,” answered she, "has been iny and consequently spread a gloom over all his benefactress, and the best I ever had.” As she face. Miss Woodley was even obliged to rouse spoke, she took out her handkerchief and wiped him from the dejection into which he was cast, or away the tears that ran down her face.

he would have sunk beneath it: she was obliged, “How so ?" cried Dorriforth eagerly, with his also, to be the first to welcome his lovely chargeown eyes moistened with joy nearly as much as lovely beyond description. hers were with gratitude.

But the natural vivacity, the gaiety which report “My husband, at the commencement of his had given to Miss Milner, were softened by her distresses,” replied Mrs. Hillgrave, “owed a sum recent sorrow to a meek sadness, and that haughty of money to her father, and from repeated provo display of charms, imputed to her manners, was cations, Mr. Milner was determined to seize upon changed to a pensive demeanour. The instant all our effects ;-his daughter, however, by her Dorriforth was introduced to her by Miss Woodley intercessions, procured us time, in order to dis as her“Guardian, and her deceased father's most charge the debt; and when she found that time beloved friend," she burst into tears, knelt down was insufficient, and her father no longer to be to him for a moment, and promised ever to obey dissuaded from his intention, she secretly sold him as her father. He had his handkerchief to some of her most valuable ornaments to satisfy his face, at the time, or she would have beheld the his demand, and screen us from its consequen agitation-the remotest sensations of his heart. ces.”

This affecting introduction being over ; after Dorriforth, pleased at this recital, took Mrs. some minutes passed in general conversation, the Hillgrave by the hand, and told her, “ she should

carriages were again ordered ; and, bidding farenever want a friend."

well to the relations who had accompanied her, “Is Miss Milner tall, or short ?” again asked Miss Milner, her guardian, and Miss Woodley Mrs. Horton, fearing, from the sudden pause departed for town; the two ladies in Miss Milner's which had ensued, the subject should be dropped. carriage, and Dorriforth in that in which he came.

“I don't know," answered Mrs. Hillgrave. Miss Woodley, as they rode along, made no at“Is she handsome, or ugly ?

tempts to ingratiate herself with Miss Milner : “I really can't tell.”

though, perhaps, such an honour might constitute “It is very strange you should not take no one of her first wishes—she behaved to her but as tice !"

she constantly behaved to every other human “I did take notice, but I cannot depend upon creature—and that was sufficient to gain the my own judgment—to me she appeared beautiful

esteem of a person possessed of an understanding as an angel; but perhaps I was deceived by the equal to Miss Milner's ;-she had penetration to beauties of her disposition.”

discover Miss Woodley's unaffected worth, and was soon induced to reward it with the warmest friendship.



This gentlewoman's visit inspired Mr. Dorri. forth with some confidence in the principles and character of his ward. The day arrived on which she was to leave her late father's seat, and fix her abode at Mrs. Horton's; and her guardian, accompanied by Miss Woodley, went in his carriage to meet her, and waited at an inn on the road for her reception.

After many a sigh paid to the memory of her father, Miss Milner, upon the tenth of November, arrived at the place, half way on her journey to town, where Dorriforth and Miss Woodley were expecting her. Besides attendants, she had with her a gentleman and lady, distant relations of her mother's, who thought it but a proper testimony of their civility to attend her part of the way,—but who so much envied her guardian the trust Mr. Milner had reposed in him that, as soon as they had delivered her safe into his care, they returned.

When the carriage, which brought Miss Milner, stopped at the inn gate, and her name was an

After a night's rest in London, less violently impressed with the loss of her father, reconciled, if not already attached to her new acquaintance, her thoughts pleasingly occupied with the reflection that she was in that gay metropolis-a wild and rapturous picture of which her active fancy had often formed-Miss Milner waked from a peaceful and refreshing sleep, with much of that vivacity, and with all those airy charms, which for a while had yielded their transcendent power to the weaker influence of her filial sorrow.

Beautiful as she had appeared to Miss Woodley and to Dorriforth on the preceding day,-when she joined them this morning at breakfast, repossessed of her lively elegance and dignified simplicity, they gazed at her, and at each other alternately, with astonishment !-and Mrs. Horton, as she sat at the head of her tea-table, felt herself but as a menial servant ; such command has beauty

[blocks in formation]

when united with sense and virtue. In Miss Milner it was so united. Yet let not our overscrupulous readers be misled, and extend their idea of her virtue so as to magnify it beyond that which frail mortals commonly possess ; nor must they cavil, if, on a nearer view, they find it lessbut let them consider, that if she had more faults than generally belong to others, she had likewise more temptations.

From her infancy she had been indulged in all her wishes to the extreme of folly, and started habitnally at the unpleasant voice of control. She was beautiful ; she had been too frequently told the high value of that beauty, and thought every monient passed in wasteful idleness during which she was not gaining some new conquest. She had a quick sensibility, which too frequently discovered itself in the immediate resentment of injuries or neglect. She had, besides, acquired the dangerous character of a wit : but to which she had no real pretensions, although the most discerning critic, hearing her converse, might fall into this mistake. Her replies had all the effects of repartee, not because she possessed those qualities which can properly be called wit, but that what she said was delivered with an energy, an instantaneous and powerful conception of the sentiment, joined with a real or a well counterfeited simplicity, a quick turn of the eye, and an arch smile. Her words were but the words of others, and, like those of others, put into common sentences : but the delivery made them pass for wit, as grace in an ill proportioned figure will often make it pass for symmetry.

And now-leaving description-the reader must form a judgment of the ward of Dorriforth by her actions; by all the round of great or trivial circumstances that shall be related.

At breakfast, which had just began at the commencement of this chapter, the conversation was lively on the part of Miss Milner, wise on the part of Dorriforth, good on the part of Miss Woodley, and an endeavour at all three of those qualities on the part of Mrs. Horton. The discourse at length drew from Mr. Dorriforth this observation :

“ You have a greater resemblance of your father, Miss Milner, than I imagined you had from report : I did not expect to find you so like him."

“ Nor did I, Mr. Dorriforth, expect to find you any thing like what you are!"

“ No ?-pray what did you expect to find

" How so ?"

“ Because I am sure you will readily own you do not think yourself handsome ; and allowing that, you instantly want judgment.”

“ And I would rather want judgment than beauty,” she replied, “and so I give up the one for the other."

With a serious face, as if proposing a very se.. rious question, Dorriforth continued, “ And you really believe you are not handsome ?"

“ I should, if I consulted my own opinion, believe that I was not ; but in some respects I am like Roman Catholics ; I don't believe upon my own understanding, but from what other people tell me."

“ And let this convince you,” replied Dorriforth, “ that what we teach is truth; for you find you would be deceived, did you not trust to persons who know better than yourself. But, my dear Miss Milner, we will talk upon some oiher topic, and never resume this again :-we differ in opi. nion, I dare say, on one subject only, and this differcnce I hope will never extend itself to any other. Therefore, let not religion be named between us; for as I have resolved never to persecute you, in pity be grateful, and do not persecute me.”

Miss Milner looked with surprise that any thing so lightly said should be so seriously received. The kind Miss Woodley ejaculated a short prayer to herself, that heaven would forgive her young friend the involuntary sin of religious ignorance; while Mrs. Horton, unperceived, as she imagined, made the sign of the cross upon her forehead as a guard against the infectious taint of heretical opinions. This pious ceremony Miss Milner by chance observed, and now showed such an evident propensity to burst into a fit of laughter, that the good lady of the house could no longer contain her resentment, but exclaimed, “God forgive you,” with a severity so different from the gentiment which the words conveyed, that the object of her anger was, on this, obliged freely to indulge that impulse which she had in vain been struggling to suppress; and no longer suffering under the agony of restraint, she gave way to her humour, and laughed with a liberty so uncontroled, that it soon left her in the room with none but the tender-hearted Miss Woodley, a witness of her folly.

“My dear Miss Woodley,” then cried Miss Milner, after recovering herself, “I am afraid you will not forgive me.”

“No, indeed I will not,” returned Miss Wood. ley. But how unimportant, how weak, how ineffectu

me ?"

“I expected to find you an elderly man, and a plain man."

This was spoken in an artless manner, but in a tone which obviously declared she thought her guardian both young and handsome. He replied, but not without some little embarrassment, “A plain man you shall find me in all my actions."

“ Then your actions are to contradict your appearance."

al are words in conversation, looks and manners more lest her heart should be purloined without alone express ; for Miss Woodley, with her cha even the authority of matrimonial views. ritable face and mild accents, saying she would With sentiments like these, Dorrriforth could not forgive, implied only forgiveness—while Mrs. never disguise his uneasiness at the sight of Lord Horton, with her enraged voice and aspect, beg Frederick, nor could the latter want penetration ging heaven to pardon the offender, palpably said, to discern the suspicion of the guardian, and conshe thought her unworthy of all pardon.

sequently each was embarrassed in the presence of the other. Miss Milner observed, but observed with indifference, the sensations of both: there

was but one passion which then held a place in CHAPTER v.

her bosom, and that was vanity; vanity defined

into all the species of pride, vain-glory, self-approSıx weeks have now elapsed since Miss Milner bation-an inordinate desire of admiration, and an has been in London, partaking with delight all its immoderate enjoyment of the art of pleasing, for pleasures ; while Dorriforth has been sighing with her own individual happiness, and not for the hapapprehension, attending to all her words and piness of others. Still had she a heart inclined, ways with precaution, and praying with zealous and oftentimes affected by tendencies less unworfervour for her safety. Her own and her guar thy ; but those approaches to what was estimable dian's acquaintance, and, added to them, the new were in their first impulse too frequently met and friendships (to use the unmeaning language of intercepted by some darling folly. the world) which she was continually forming, Miss Woodley (who could easily discover a vircrowded so perpetually to the house, that seldom tue, although of the most diminutive kind, and had Dorriforth even a moment left him from her

scarcely through the magnifying glass of calumny visits or visitors, to warn her of her danger:-yet could ever perceive a fault) was Miss Milner's inwhen a moment offered, he caught it eagerly-separable companion at home, and her zealous pressed the necessity of “ Time not always pass advocate with Dorriforth, whenever, during her ed in society; of reflection; of reading; of absence, she became the subject of discourse. He thoughts for a future state; and of virtues ac listened with hope to the praises of her friend, but quired to make old age supportable.” That forci saw with despair how little they were merited. ble power of genuine feeling, which directs the

Sometimes he struggled to subdue his anger, but tongue to eloquence, had its effect while she lis

oftener strove to suppress tears of pity for his tened to him, and she sometimes put on the looks ward's hapless state. and gesture of assent;-sometimes even spoke By this time all her acquaintance had given Lord the language of conviction; but this the first call Frederick to her as a lover; the servants whispered of dissipation would change to ill-timed raillery, it, and some of the public prints had even fixed the or peevish remonstrance, at being limited in de day of marriage ;--but as no explanation had taken lights which her birth and fortune entitled her to place on his part, Dorriforth's uneasiness was inenjoy.

creased, and he seriously told Miss Milner, he Among the many visitors who attended at her thought it would be indispensably prudent in her levees, and followed her wherever she went, to entreat Lord Frederick to discontinue his visits. there was one who seemed, even when absent She smiled with ridicule at the caution, but findfrom her, to share her thoughts. This was Lord ing it repeated, and in a manner that indicated Frederick Lawnley, the younger son of a duke, authority, she promised not only to make, but to and the avowed favourite of all the most discern enforce the request. The next time he came she ing women of taste.

did so, assuring him it was by ber guardian's deHe was not more than twenty-three ; animated, sire ; “who, from inotives of delicacy, had perelegant, extremely handsome, and possessed of mitted her to solicit as a favour what he could every accomplishment that would capitivate a himself make a demand.” Lord Frederick redheart less susceptible of love than Miss Milner's dened with anger--he loved Miss Milner ; but he was supposed to be. With these allurements, no doubted whether, from the frequent proofs he had wonder if she took pleasure in his company; no experienced of his own inconstancy, he should wonder if she took pride in having it known that continue to love-and this interference of her guarhe was among the number of her devoted admir dian threatened an explanation or a dismission, ers. Dorriforth beheld this growing intimacy with before he came thoroughly acquainted with his alternate pain and pleasure; he wished to see own heart. Alarmed, confounded and provoked, Miss Milner married, to see his charge in the pro he replied, tection of another, rather than of himself; yet “By heaven, I believe Mr. Dorriforth loves you under the care of a young nobleman, immersed himself; and it is jealousy alone that makes him in all the vices of the town, without one moral treat me in this manner." excellence, but such as might result eventually “For shame, my lord !” cried Miss Woodley, rom the influence of the moment under such who was present, and who trembled with horror care le trembled for her happiness; yet trembled at the sacrilegious supposition.

“Nay, shame to him if he is not in love”-an solution of all my sins, for I confess they are many, swered his lordship, “ for who but a savage could and manifold.” behold beauty like hers without owning its power?“Hold, my lord,” exclaimed Dorriforth,“ do not

“Habit,” replied Miss Milner, “is every thing confess before the ladies, lest, in order to excite -Mr. Dorriforth sees and converses with beauty, their compassion, you should be tempted to accuse hut, from habit, he does not fall in love; and

you, yourself of sins you have never yet committed.” my lord, from habit, often do."

At this Miss Milner laughed, seemingly so well “ Then you believe that love is not in my dispo- pleased that Lord Frederick, with a sarcastic sneer, sition ?"

repeated, “ No more of it, my lord, than habit could very

." From Abelard it came soon extinguish.”

" And Eloisa still must love the name." “But I would not have it extinguished—I would

Whether from an inattention to the quotation, or rather it should mount to a flame; for I think it a

from a consciousness it was wholly inapplicable, crime to be insensible of the divine blessings love

Dorriforth heard it without one emotion of shame can bestow."

or of anger-while Miss Milner seemed shocked “ Then you indulge the passion to avoid a sin ? this very motive deters Mr. Dorriforth from that

at the implication ; her pleasantry was immediindulgence.”

ately suppressed, and she threw open the sash and

held her head out at the window, to conccal the “It ought to deter him, for the sake of his oaths

embarrassment these lines had occasioned. -but monastic vows, like those of marriage, were

The Earl of Elmwood was at that juncture anmade to be broken-and surely when your guar

nounced-a Catholic nobleman, just come of age, dian cast his eyes on you, his wishes”

and on the eve of marriage. His visit was to his “ Are never less pure,” she replied eagerly, “than those which dwell in the bosom of my ce

cousin, Mr. Dorriforth, but as all ceremonious visits lestial guardian.”

were alike received by Dorriforth, Miss Milner,

and Mrs. Horton's family, in one common apartAt that instant Dorriforth entered the room.

ment, Lord Elmwood was ushered into this, and The colour had mounted into Miss Milner's face

of course directed the conversation to a different from the warmth with which she had delivered her

topic. opinion, and his accidental entrance at the very moment this praise had been conferred upon him in his absence heightened the blush to a deep glow on every feature :-confusion and earnestness caused even her lips to tremble and her whole frame to shake.

With an anxious desire that the affection, or “What's the matter ?” cried Dorriforth, looking acquaintance, between Lord Frederick and Miss with concern on her discomposure.

Milner might be finally dissolved, her guardian “A compliment paid by herself to you, Sir,” re received with infinite satisfaction, overtures of plied Lord Frederick, “has affected your ward in marriage from Sir Edward Ashton. Sir Edward the manner you have seen.”

was not young or handsome; old or ugly; but “ As if she blushed at the untruth,” said Dorri immensely rich, and possessed of qualities that forth.

made him worthy of the happiness to which he “Nay, that is unkind,” cried Miss Woodley; aspired. He was the man whom Dorriforth "for if you had been here”

would have chosen before any other for the hus“—I would not have said what I did,” replied band of his ward, and his wishes made him Miss Milner, “but had left him to vindicate him sometimes hope, against his cooler judgment, that self."

Sir Edward would not be rejected. He was re“Is it possible that I can want any vindication ? solved, at all events, to try the force of his own Who would think it worth their while to slander so power in the strongest recommendation of him. unimportant a person as I am ?”

Notwithstanding the dissimilarity of opinion “The man who has the charge of Miss Milner,” which, in alınost every instance, subsisted bereplied Lord Frederick, “ derives a consequence tween Miss Milner and her guardian, there was in from her.”

general the most punctilious observance of good “No ill consequence, I hope, my lord ?” said manners from each towards the other on the Dorriforth, with a firmness in his voice, and with part of Dorriforth more especially; for his an eye so fixed that his antagonist hesitated for a politeness would sometimes appear even like the moment in want of a reply—and Miss Milner result of a system which he had marked out for himsoftly whispered to him, as her guardian turned self, as the only means to keep his ward restrained his head, to avoid an argument, he bowed acqui within the same limitations. Whenever he adescence. Then, as if in compliment to her, he dressed her there was an unusual reserve upon changed the subject;-and, with an air of ridicule his countenance, and more than usual gentleness lie cried,

in the tone of his voice; this appeared the effect "I wish, Mr. Dorriforth, you would give me ab sentiments which her birth and situation inspired,


Toined to a studied mode of respect, best calculated to enforce the same from her. The wished. for consequence was produced—for though there was an instinctive rectitude in the understanding of Miss Milner that would have taught her, without other instruction, what manners to observe towards her deputed father; yet, from some volatile thought, or some quick sense of feeling, which she had not been accustomed to correct, she was perpetually on the verge of treating him with levity; but he would on the instant recall her recoliection by a reserve too awful, and a gentleness too sacred for her to violate. The distinction which both required was thus, by his skilful management alone, preserved.

One morning he took an opportunity, before her and Miss Woodley, to introduce and press the subject of Sir Arthur Ashton's hopes. He first spoke warmly in his praise ; then plainly said that he believed she possessed the power of making so deserving a man happy to the summit of his wishes. A laugh of ridicule was the only answer;-but a sudden frown from Dorriforth having silenced her mirth, he resumed his usual politeness, and said,

"I wish you would show a better taste, than thus pointedly to disapprove of Sir Edward."

“How, Mr. Dorritorth, can you expect me to give proofs of a good taste, when Sir Edward, whom you consider with such high esteem, has given so bad an example of his in approving of

me ?"

more than her words, had not preserved her from that sentence.

"No," she replied, “my heart is not stolen away; and yet I can venture to declare, that Sir Edward will never possess it.”

“I am sorry, for both your sakes, that these are your sentiments," he replied. “But as your heart is still your own,” (and he seemed rejoiced to find it was)“ permit me to warn you how you part with a thing so precious ;-the dangers, the sorrows you hazard in bestowing it are greater than you may possibly be aware of. The heart once gone, our thoughts, our actions, are no more our own, than that is.”

He seemed forcing himself to utter all this, and yet he broke off as if he could have said much more, if the extreme delicacy of the subject had not restricted him.

When he left the room, and she heard the door close after him, she said, with an inquisitive thoughtfulness, “What can make good people so skilled in all the weaknesses of the bad ? Mr. Dorriforth, with all those prudent admonitions, appears rather like a man who has passed his life in the gay world, experienced all its dangerous allurements, all its repentant sorrows, than like one who has lived his whole time secluded in a monastic college, or in his own study. Then he speaks with such exquisite sensibility on the subject of love, that he commends the very thing which he attempts to depreciate. I do not think my Lord Frederick would make the passion appear in more pleasing colours by painting its delights, than Mr. Dorriforth could in describing its sorrows—and if he talks to me frequently in this manner I shall certainly take pity on Lord Frederick for the sake of his adversary's eloquence.”

Miss Woodley, who heard the conclusion of this speech with the tenderest concern, cried, “ Alas! you then think seriously of Lord Frederick !”

“Suppose I do, wherefore that alas! Miss Woodley ?"

“ Because I fear you will never be happy with him."

“That is plainly saying he will not be happy with me."

“I do not know-I cannot speak of marriage from experience,” answered Miss Woodley, “but I think I can guess what it is."

“Nor can I speak of love from experience," replied Miss Milner, “but I think I can guess what it is."

“But do not fall in love, my dear,” (cried Miss Woodley, with her accustomed simplicity of heart, as if she had been asking a favour that depended upon the will of the person entreated) “pray do not fall in love without the aprobation of your guardian.”

Her young friend smiled at the inefficacious prayer-but promised 10 do all she could to oblige her.

Dorriforth wished not to flatter her by a compliment she seerned to have sought for, and for a moment hesitated what answer to make.

“Reply, Sir, to that question,” she said.

“Why then, Madam,” returned he, “it is my opinion, that supposing what your humility has advanced be just, yet Sir Edward will not suffer by the suggestion ; for in cases where the heart is so immediately concerned, as I believe Sir Edward's to be, taste, or rather reason, has little power to act.”

“You are in the right, Mr. Dorriforth; this is a proper justification of Sir Edward—and when I fall in love, I beg that you will make the same excuse for me.”

“Then,” said he earnestly, “ before your heart is in that state which I have described, exert your reason."

“ I shall," answered she, “and assuredly not consent to marry a man whom I could never love."

“Unless your heart be already disposed of, Miss Milner, what can make you speak with such a degree of certainty ?"

He thought on Lord Frederick when he uttered this, and he riveted his eyes upon her as if to penetrate ber most secret inclinations, and yet trembling for what he night find there. She blushed, and her looks would have confirmed her guilty, if the unembarrassed and free tone of her voice,

« НазадПродовжити »