Lady Susan Letters 21 to 30
Letter XXI – Miss Vernon to Mr. De Courcy
Letter XXII – Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson
Letter XXIII – Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy
Letter XXIV – From the Same to the Same
Letter XXV – Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson
Letter XXVI – Mrs. Johnson to Lady Susan
Letter XXVII – Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy
Letter XXVIII – Mrs. Johnson to Lady Susan
Letter XXIX – Lady Susan Vernon to Mrs. Johnson
Letter XXX – Lady Susan Vernon to Mr. De Courcy
Lady Susan Letter XXI – 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; amp; 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 Letter XXII – Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson
This is insufferable! My dearest friend, I was never so enraged before, amp; 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.
Lady Susan Letter XXIII – 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, amp; 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.
Lady Susan Letter XXIV – 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.
Lady Susan Letter XXV – 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, amp; 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 amp; 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
Lady Susan Letter XXVI – Mrs. Johnson to Lady Susan
I am gratified by your reference, & this is my advice: that you come to Town yourself, without loss of time, but that you leave Frederica behind. It would surely be much more to the purpose to get yourself well established by marrying Mr. De Courcy, than to irritate him & the rest of his family by making her marry Sir James. You should think more of yourself & less of your Daughter. She is not of a disposition to do you credit in the World, & seems precisely in her proper place at Churchill, with the Vernons. But you are fitted for Society, & it is shameful to have you exiled from it. Leave Frederica, therefore, to punish herself for the plague she has given you, by indulging that romantic tender-heartedness which will always ensure her misery enough, & come yourself to Town as soon as you can.
I have another reason for urging this:
Manwaring came to town last week, & has contrived, in spite of Mr. Johnson, to make opportunities of seeing me. He is absolutely miserable about you, amp; jealous to such a degree of De Courcy, that it would be highly unadvisable for them to meet at present. And yet, if you do not allow him to see you here, I cannot answer for his not committing same great imprudence—such as going to Churchill, for instance, which would be dreadful! Besides, if you take my advice, & resolve to marry De Courcy, it will be indispensably necessary to you to get Manwaring out of the way; & you only can have influence enough to send him back to his wife. I have still another motive for your coming: Mr. Johnson leaves London next Tuesday; he is going for his health to Bath, where, if the waters are favourable to his constitution & my wishes, he will be laid up with the gout many weeks. During his absence we shall be able to choose our own society, & to have true enjoyment. I would ask you to Edward Street, but that he once forced from me a kind of promise never to invite you to my house; nothing but my being in the utmost distress for Money should have extorted it from me. I can get you, however, a nice Drawing-room-apartment in Upper Seymour St, & we may be always together there or here; for I consider my promise to Mr. Johnson as comprehending only (at least in his absence) your not sleeping in the House.
Poor Manwaring gives me such histories of his wife’s jealousy. Silly Woman, to expect constancy from so charming a Man! but she always was silly—intolerably so in marrying him at all. She the Heiress of a large Fortune, he without a shilling! One title, I know, she might have had, besides Baronets. Her folly in forming the connection was so great that tho’ Mr. Johnson was her Guardian, & I do not in general share his feelings, I never can forgive her.
Adieu, Yours, ALICIA.
Lady Susan Letter XXVII – Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy
This letter, my dear Mother, will be brought you by Reginald. His long visit is about to be concluded at last, but I fear the separation takes place too late to do us any good. She is going to London to see her particular friend, Mrs. Johnson. It was at first her intention that Frederica should accompany her, for the benefit of Masters, but we over-ruled her there. Frederica was wretched in the idea of going, & I could not bear to have her at the mercy of her Mother; not all the Masters in London could compensate for the ruin of her comfort. I should have feared, too, for her health, & for everything but her Principles—there I beleive she is not to be injured by her Mother, or all her Mother’s friends; but with those friends (a very bad set, I doubt not) she must have mixed, or have been left in total solitude, & I can hardly tell which would have been worse for her. If she is with her Mother, moreover, she must, alas! in all probability be with Reginald—& that would be the greatest evil of all.
Here we shall in time be in peace. Our regular employments, our Books amp; conversation, with Exercise, the Children, & every domestic pleasure in my power to procure her, will, I trust, gradually overcome this youthful attachment. I should not have a doubt of it, were she slighted for any other woman in the world than her own Mother.
How long Lady Susan will be in Town, or whether she returns here again, I know not. I could not be cordial in my invitation; but if she chuses to come, no want of cordiality on my part will keep her away.
I could not help asking Reginald if he intended being in Town this winter, as soon as I found her Ladyship’s steps would be bent thither; & tho’ he professed himself quite undetermined, there was something in his look & voice as he spoke which contradicted his words. I have done with Lamentation. I look upon the event as so far decided that I resign myself to it in despair. If he leaves you soon for London, everything will be concluded.
Lady Susan Letter XXVIII – Mrs. Johnson to Lady Susan.
My dearest Friend
I write in the greatest distress; the most unfortunate event has just taken place. Mr. Johnson has hit on the most effectual manner of plaguing us all. He had heard, I imagine, by some means or other, that you were soon to be in London, & immediately contrived to have such an attack of the Gout as must at least delay his journey to Bath, if not wholly prevent it. I am persuaded the Gout is brought on or kept off at pleasure; it was the same when I wanted to join the Hamiltons to the Lakes; & three years ago, when I had a fancy for Bath, nothing could induce him to have a Gouty symptom.
I have received yours, & have engaged the Lodgings in consequence. I am pleased to find that my Letter had so much effect on you, & that De Courcy is certainly your own. Let me hear from you as soon as you arrive, & in particular tell me what you mean to do with Manwaring. It is impossible to say when I shall be able to see you; my confinement must be great. It is such an abominable trick to be ill here instead of at Bath that I can scarcely command myself at all. At Bath, his old Aunts would have nursed him, but here it all falls upon me—& he bears pain with such patience that I have not the common excuse for losing my temper.
Lady Susan Letter XXIX – Lady Susan Vernon to Mrs. Johnson.
Upper Seymour St.
My dear Alicia
There needed not this last fit of the Gout to make me detest Mr. Johnson, but now the extent of my aversion is not to be estimated. To have you confined as Nurse in his apartment! My dear Alicia, of what a mistake were you guilty in marrying a Man of his age!—just old enough to be formal, ungovernable, & to have the Gout; too old to be agreable, too young to die.
I arrived last night about five, & had scarcely swallowed my dinner when Manwaring made his appearance. I will not dissemble what real pleasure his sight afforded me, nor how strongly I felt the contrast between his person amp; manners & those of Reginald, to the infinite disadvantage of the latter. For an hour or two I was even staggered in my resolution of marrying him, & tho’ this was too idle & nonsensical an idea to remain long on my mind, I do not feel very eager for the conclusion of my Marriage, nor look forward with much impatience to the time when Reginald, according to our agreement, is to be in Town. I shall probably put off his arrival under some pretence or other. He must not come till Manwaring is gone.
I am still doubtful at times as to Marriage. If the old Man would die, I might not hesitate; but a state of dependence on the caprice of Sir Reginald will not suit the freedom of my spirit; & if I resolve to wait for that event, I shall have excuse enough at present, in having been scarcely ten months a Widow.
I have not given Manwaring any hint of my intention, or allowed him to consider my acquaintance with Reginald as more than the commonest flirtation, amp; he is tolerably appeased. Adieu, till we meet; I am enchanted with my Lodgings.
Lady Susan Letter XXX – Lady Susan Vernon to Mr. De Courcy
Upper Seymour St.
I have received your Letter, & tho’ I do not attempt to conceal that I am gratified by your impatience for the hour of meeting, I yet feel myself under the necessity of delaying that hour beyond the time originally fixed. Do not think me unkind for such an exercise of my power, nor accuse me of Instability without first hearing my reasons. In the course of my journey from Churchill, I had ample leisure for reflection on the present state of our affairs, & every review has served to convince me that they require a delicacy & cautiousness of conduct to which we have hitherto been too little attentive. We have been hurried on by our feelings to a degree of Precipitation which ill accords with the claims of our Friends or the opinion of the World. We have been unguarded in forming this hasty Engagement, but we must not complete the imprudence by ratifying it while there is so much reason to fear the Connection would be opposed by those Friends on whom you depend.
It is not for us to blame any expectations on your Father’s side of your marrying to advantage; where possessions are so extensive as those of your Family, the wish of increasing them, if not strictly reasonable, is too common to excite surprise or resentment. He has a right to require a woman of fortune in his daughter in law, & I am sometimes quarrelling with myself for suffering you to form a connection so imprudent; but the influence of reason is often acknowledged too late by those who feel like me.
I have now been but a few months a widow; and, however little indebted to my Husband’s memory for any happiness derived from him during a Union of some years, I cannot forget that the indelicacy of so early a second marriage must subject me to the censure of the World, & incur, what would be still more insupportable, the displeasure of Mr. Vernon. I might perhaps harden myself in time against the injustice of general reproach, but the loss of his valued Esteem I am, as you well know, ill-fitted to endure; & when to this may be added the consciousness of having injured you with your Family, how am I to support myself? With feelings so poignant as mine, the conviction of having divided the son from his Parents would make me, even with you, the most miserable of Beings.
It will surely, therefore, be advisable to delay our Union, to delay it till appearances are more promising, till affairs have taken a more favourable turn. To assist us in such a resolution, I feel that absence will be necessary. We must not meet. Cruel as this sentence may appear, the necessity of pronouncing it, which can alone reconcile it to myself, will be evident to you when you have considered our situation in the light in which I have found myself imperiously obliged to place it. You may be—you must be—well assured that nothing but the strongest conviction of Duty could induce me to wound my own feelings by urging a lengthened separation, & of insensibility to yours you will hardly suspect me. Again, therefore, I say that we ought not, we must not yet meet. By a removal for some Months from each other, we shall tranquillize the sisterly fears of Mrs. Vernon, who, accustomed herself to the enjoyment of riches, considers Fortune as necessary everywhere, & whose Sensibilities are not of a nature to comprehend ours.
Let me hear from you soon—very soon. Tell me that you submit to my Arguments, & do not reproach me for using such. I cannot bear reproaches: my spirits are not so high as to need being repressed. I must endeavour to seek amusement abroad, & fortunately many of my Friends are in town; among them the Manwarings; you know how sincerely I regard both Husband & wife.
I am ever, Faithfully Yours
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