Lady Susan, Part 2

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[Letters 17 to 25]

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 feel nothing.

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 Pianoforté 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.

Yrs. affec:ly,

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.

Yours Ever

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 Man.

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 Pelisses.

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 daughter.

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 him gone.

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.

Yrs, &c.

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 great uneasiness.

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 wishes!

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 & implacable.

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.

Yrs. affec:ly

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 previously suffered.

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 Happiness!

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.

Yrs. Ever,

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 vain.

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 me.

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.

Yrs. Ever,

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 was necessary.

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 explanation.

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

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