Eliza Fowler Haywood.

Life's Progress Through The Passions Or, The Adventures of Natura online

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some bitterness against a state, which had involved him in so many
perplexities; and Charlotte, though so short a time a wife, having
been married against her inclination, and to a man who, it seems, knew
not her real value, had found in it the beginning of disquiets, which
prognosticated worse mischiefs, had not his death relieved her from
them, and made her too thankful for the deliverance, to endure the
thoughts of venturing a second time to give up her freedom.

This parity of sentiments, inclinations, and dispositions, it was
which, by degrees, endeared them to each other, without knowing they
were so.

Natura became at last impatient out of the company of Charlotte, and
Charlotte found a restlessness in herself whenever Natura was absent;
but this indeed happened but seldom: - the mutual desire they had of
being together, made each of them industriously avoid all those
parties of pleasure, in which both could not have a share: - Natura
excused himself from accompanying his brother-in-law in any of those
diversions where women were not admitted; and Charlotte always had
some pretence for staying at home when the sister of Natura made her
visits to the ladies of the country; - yet was this managed on both
sides with such great decency and precaution, that neither the one nor
the other perceived the motive which occasioned their being so rarely
separated; much less had the family any notion of it.

It is certain, that never any two persons were possessed of a more
true and delicate passion for each other: - the flame which warmed
their breasts, was meerly spiritual, and platonic; - the difference of
sex was never considered: - Natura adored Charlotte, not because she
was a lovely woman, but because he imagined somewhat angelic in her
mind; and Charlotte loved Natura not because he had an agreeable
person, but because she thought she discovered more charms in his
soul, than in that of any other man or woman.

The acquaintance between them soon grew into an intimacy, and that
intimacy, by degrees, ripened into a friendship, which is the height
and very essence of love, though neither of them would allow
themselves to think it so: they made no scruple, however, of assuring
each other, of their mutual esteem, and promised all the good offices
in the power of either, with a freedom which they would not have done
(especially Charlotte, who was naturally very reserved) had they been
sensible to what lengths their present attachment might in time
proceed.

Winter now drew on, but Natura was too much rivetted to think of
departing, and would doubtless have made some pretext for living
altogether with his sister, had not an accident happened, which made
his going a greater proof of the regard he had for Charlotte, than his
staying could have done, and perhaps made him know the real sentiments
he was possessed of on her account, much sooner than he should without
it.

That lady had some law-affairs, which required either herself, or some
very faithful and diligent friend to attend. Term was approaching, and
the brother-in-law of Natura had promised to take a journey to London
for that purpose; but he unfortunately had been thrown from his horse
in a hunting match, and broke his leg, and Charlotte seemed in a good
deal of anxiety, who she should write to, in order to entrust with the
care of her business, which she justly feared would suffer much, if
left wholly to the lawyer's own management.

Natura on this offered his service, and told her, if she would favour
him with her confidence in this point, he would go directly to London,
where she might depend on his diligence and fidelity in the forwarding
her business: - as she had not the least doubt of either, she accepted
this testimony of his friendship, with no other reluctance, than what
the being long deprived of his conversation occasioned. - Her good
sense, notwithstanding, got the better of that consideration, which
she looked upon only at an indulgence to herself, and committed to his
care all the papers necessary to be produced, in case he succeeded so
well for her, as to bring the suit to a trial.

The manner of their taking leave was only such as might be expected
between two persons, who professed a friendly regard for each other;
but Natura had no sooner set out on his journey, than he felt a
heaviness at his heart, for having left the adorable Charlotte, which
nothing but the consideration that he was employed on her business,
and going to serve her could have asswaged.

This was, indeed, a sweet consolation to him, and on his arrival in
town, set himself to enquire into the causes of that delay she had
complained of, with so much assiduity, that he easily found out she
had not been well treated by her lawyers, and that one of them had
even gone so far as to take fees from her adversary; - he therefore put
the affair into other hands, and ordered matters so, that the trial
could not, by any means, be put off till another time.

Yet, in spite of all this diligence, it was the opinion of the
council, that there was an absolute necessity for the lady to appear
herself: - it is hard to say, whether Natura was more vexed or pleased
at this intelligence; he was sorry that he could not, of himself,
accomplish what he came about, and spare her the trouble of a journey
he had found was very disagreeable to her, not only on account of her
aversion to the town, and the ill season of the year for travelling,
but also because the person she contended with was a near relation,
and she was very sensible would engage many of their kindred to
disswade her from doing herself that justice she was resolute to
persist in her attempts for procuring. - The thoughts of the perplexity
this would give her, it was that filled him with a good deal of
trouble; but then the reflection, that he should have the happiness of
seeing her again, on this account, much sooner than he could otherwise
have done, gave him at least an equal share of satisfaction.

The gentlemen of the long robe employed in her cause, and whose
veracity and judgment he was well assured of, insisting she must come,
put an end to his suspense, and he wrote to her for that purpose: the
next post brought him an answer which, to his great surprize,
expressed not the least uneasiness on the score of this journey, only
acquainted him, that she had taken a place in the stage, should set
out next morning, and in three days be in London; against which time,
she begged he would be so good to provide her a commodious lodging,
she being determined to go to none of her kindred, for the reason
abovementioned.

Being animated with exactly the same sentiments Natura was, that
inclination which led him to wish her coming, influenced her also to
be pleased with it, and rendered the fatigue of the journey, and those
others she expected to find on her arrival, of no consequence, when
balanced against the happiness she proposed, in re-enjoying the
conversation of her aimable and worthy friend.

But all this Natura was ignorant of; nor did his vanity suggest to him
the least part of what passed in his favour in the bosom of his lovely
Charlotte; but he needed no more than the knowledge she was coming to
a place where he should have her company, with less interruption than
he had hitherto the opportunity of, to make him the most transported
man alive. As he had no house of his own in town to accommodate her
with, he provided lodgings, and every thing necessary for her
reception, with an alacrity worthy of his love, and the confidence she
reposed in him; and went in his own coach to take her from the stage
some miles on the road. She testified her gratitude for the care he
took of her affairs, in the most obliging and polite acknowledgments;
and he returned the thanks she gave him, with the sincerest
assurances, that the thoughts of having it in his power to do her any
little service, afforded him the most elevated pleasure he had ever
known in his whole life.

What they said to each other, however, on this score, was taken by
each, more as the effects of gallantry and good breeding, than the
real motives from which the expressions they both made use of, had
their source: - equal was their tenderness, equal also was their
diffidence, it being the peculiar property of a true and perfect love,
always to fear, and never to hope too much.

Natura had taken care to chuse her an apartment very near the place
where he lodged himself, which luckily happened to be in an extreme
airy and genteel part of the town; so that he had the pleasure of
seeing her, not only every day, but almost every hour in the day, on
one pretext or other, which his industrious passion dictated; and this
almost continual being together, and, for the most part, without any
other company, very much increased the freedom between them, though
that freedom never went farther, even in a wish, on either side, for a
long time at least, than that of a brother and sister.

Though all imaginable diligence was used to bring the law-suit to an
issue, those with whom Charlotte contested, found means to put it off
for yet one more term, she was obliged to stay that time; but neither
felt in herself, nor pretended to do so, any repugnance at it: - Natura
had enough to do to conceal his joy on this occasion; and when he
affected a concern for her being detained in a place she had so often
declared an aversion for, he did it so awkwardly, that had she not
been too much taken up with endeavouring to disguise her own
sentiments on this account, she could not but have seen into his.

As neither of them seemed now to take any delight in balls, plays,
operas, masquerades, cards, or any of the town diversions, they passed
all their evenings together, and, for the most part, alone, as I
before observed; - their conversation was chiefly on serious topics,
and such as might have been improving to the hearers, had any been
permitted; and when they fell on matters which required a more gay and
sprightly turn, their good humour never went beyond an innocent
chearfulness, nor in the least transgressed the bounds of the
strictest morality and modesty.

How long this platonic intercourse would have continued, is uncertain;
but the second term was near elapsed, the suit determined in favour of
Charlotte, and her stay in town necessary but a very days before
either of them entertained any other ideas, than such as I have
mentioned. Natura then began to regret the diminution of the happiness
he now enjoyed, and indeed of the total loss of it; for though he knew
it would not be wondered at, that his complaisance should induce him
to attend Charlotte in her journey to his sister's, yet he was at a
loss for a pretence to remain there for any long time. - Charlotte, on
the other hand, considered on the separation which, in all appearance,
must shortly be between them, with a great deal of anxiety, and was
even sorry the completion of her business had left her no excuse for
staying in town, since she could not expect it either suited with his
inclinations, or situation of affairs, to live always in the country.

These cogitations rendered both very uneasy in their minds, yet
neither of them took any steps to remedy a misfortune equally terrible
to each; and the event had doubtless proved as they imagined, had not
the latent fires which glowed in both their breasts, been kindled into
a flame by foreign means, and not the least owing to themselves.

One of those gentlemen who had been council for Charlotte, and had
behaved with extraordinary zeal in her behalf, had been instigated
thereto, more by the charms of her person, than the fees he received
from her; - in fine, he was in love with her; but his passion was not
of that delicate nature, which fills the mind with a thousand timid
apprehensions, and chuses rather to endure the pains of a long
smothered flame, than run the hazard of offending the adored object,
by disclosing it.

He had enquired into her family and fortune, and finding there was
nothing of disparity between them, he declared his passion to her, and
declared it in terms which seemed not to savour of any great fears of
being rejected. - He was in his prime of life, had an agreeable person,
and a good estate, the consciousness of which, together with his being
accustomed to plead with success at the bar, made him not much doubt,
but his eloquence and assurance would have the same effect on his
mistress, as it frequently had on the judges: but the good opinion he
had of himself, greatly deceived him in this point; he met with a
rebuff from Charlotte, which might have deterred some men from
prosecuting a courtship she seemed determined never to encourage: but
though he was a little alarmed at it, he could not bring himself to
think she was enough in earnest to make him desist: in every visit he
paid her, he interlarded his discourse on business with professions of
love, which at length so much teized her, that she told him plainly,
she would sooner suffer her cause to be lost, than suffer herself to
be continually persecuted with sollicitations, which she had ever
avoided since her widowhood, and ever should do so.

Natura came in one day just as the counsellor was going out of her
apartment; he observed a great confusion in his face, and some
emotions in her's, which shewed her mind a little ruffled from that
happy composure he was accustomed to find it in. On his testifying the
notice he took of this change in her countenance, 'It is strange
thing,' said she, 'that people will believe nothing in their own
disfavour! - I have told this man twenty times, that if I were disposed
to think of a second marriage, which I do not believe I ever shall,
the present sentiments I am possessed of, would never be reversed by
any offer he could make me; yet will he still persist in his
impertinent declarations.'

There needed no more to convince Natura he had a rival; nor, as he
knew Charlotte had nothing of coquetry in her humour, to make him also
know she was not pleased with having attracted the affections of this
new admirer: this gave him an inexpressible satisfaction; for tho', as
yet, he had never once thought of making any addresses to her on the
score of love, death was not half so terrible to him, as the idea of
her encouraging them from any other man.

'Then, madam,' cried he, looking on her in a manner she had never seen
him do before, 'the councellor has declared a passion for you, and
you have rejected him?' - 'is it possible?' - 'Possible!' interrupted
she, 'can you believe it possible I should not do so, knowing, as you
do, the fixed aversion I have to entering into any second
engagement!' - 'but were it less so,' continued she, after a pause, 'his
sollicitations would be never the more agreeable to me.'

Natura asked pardon for testifying any surprize, which he assured her
was totally owing, either to this proof of the effect of her charms,
'which,' said he, 'are capable of far greater conquests; or to your
refusal of the councellor's offer, after the declarations you have
made against a second marriage, but was excited in me meerly by the
novelty of the thing, having heard nothing of it before.'

'This had not been among the number of the few things I conceal from
you,' answered she, 'if I had thought the repetition worthy of taking
up any part of that time which I always pass with you on subjects more
agreeable'; - 'besides,' continued she, 'it was always my opinion, that
those women, who talk of the addresses made to them, are secretly
pleased with them in their hearts, and like the love, tho' they may
even despise the lover. For my part, I can feel no manner of
satisfaction in relating to others, what I had rather be totally
ignorant of myself.'

Natura had here a very good opportunity of complimenting her on the
excellency of her understanding, which set her above the vanities of
the generality of her sex; and indeed he expressed himself with so
much warmth on this occasion, that it even shocked her modesty, and
she was obliged to desire him to change the conversation, and speak no
more of a behaviour, which was not to be imputed to her good sense,
but to her disposition.

Never had Natura found it more difficult to obey her than now; - he
could have expatiated for ever on the many and peculiar perfections
both of her mind and person; but he perceived, that to indulge the
darling theme, would be displeasing to her, and therefore forced
himself to put a stop to the utterance of those dictates, with which
his heart was now charged, even to an overflowing.

Such was the effect of this incident on both: Natura, who till now had
thought he loved only the _soul_ of his mistress, found how dear her
lovely _person_ was also to him, by the knowledge that another was
endeavouring to get possession of it; and Charlotte, by the secret
satisfaction she felt on those indications Natura, in spite of his
efforts to the contrary, had given of a more than ordinary admiration
of her, discovered, for the first time, that he was indeed the only
man whose love would not be displeasing to her.

After Natura came home, and had leisure to meditate on this affair, he
began with thinking how terrible it would be to him, to see Charlotte
in the arms of a husband; and when he reflected, that such a thing
might be possible, even though he doubted not the sincerity of her
present aversion, the idea was scarce to be borne: - from this he
naturally fell on figuring to himself how great a blessing that man
would enjoy, who should always have the sweet society of so amiable a
companion; - and this made him cry out, 'Why then, what hinders me from
endeavouring to become that happy man? - If I resolved against any
future marriage, it was when I knew not the adorable Charlotte, nor
believed there was so excellent a woman in the world.' - In this
rapturous imagination did he continue for a moment, but then the
improbability of succeeding in any such attempt, struck him with an
adequate despair. - 'Though the uncommon merit of the woman I adore,'
said he, 'compels me to change the resolution I had taken, there is
not the same reason to prevail on her to recede from her's. - Past the
bloom of life, and already twice a husband, can I flatter myself with
the fond hope she will not reject the proposals I should make with the
same scorn she did those of the councillor?'

Charlotte, on the other hand, was engrossed by reflections vastly
different from those she was accustomed to entertain: - never woman was
more free from vanity, or thought less of the power of her charms, yet
she could not hinder herself from thinking there was somewhat in the
behaviour of Natura, in his last visit, that denoted a regard beyond
an ordinary friendship for her. - This apprehension, at first, a little
startled her, or at least she imagined it did so, and she said to
herself, 'If he should really harbour any inclinations for me of that
sort, how unhappy should I be in being obliged to break off my
acquaintance with a person so every way agreeable to me; and to
continue it, would be to countenance a passion I have determined never
to give the least attention to.' - 'Yet wherefore did I determine?'
pursued she, with a sigh, 'but because I found the generality of men
mere wandering, vague, inconstant creatures; - were guided only by
fancy; - never consulted their judgment, whether the object they
pretended to admire, had any real merit or not, and often too treated
those worst who had the best claim to their esteem; - besides, one
seldom finds a man whose person and qualifications are every way
suited to one's liking: - Natura is certainly such as I should wish a
husband to be, if I were inclined to marry again; - I have not taken a
vow of celibacy, and have nobody to controul my actions': - 'then,'
said she again, 'what foolish imaginations comes into my head; perhaps
he has not the least thought of me in the way I am dreaming of; - no,
no, he has suffered too much by the imprudence of one woman, to put it
in the power of another to treat him in the same manner; - be trembles
at marriage; - I have heard him declare it, and I am deviating into a
vanity I never before was guilty of.'

She was debating in this fashion within herself, when Natura came to
pay his morning visit: she blushed at his approach, conscious of the
meditations she had been in on his account. - He, full of the
sentiments I have described, saluted her with an air more grave and
timid than he had been accustomed, and which all who are judges of the
tender passion, know to be the surest symptom of it. - They sat down,
and on his beginning to renew some discourse concerning the
counsellor's pretensions, she desired him to forbear so disagreeable a
topic, telling him at the same time, he could say nothing else she
would not listen to with satisfaction. - 'How, madam,' cried he, 'are
you sure of that? - Alas, you little know what passes in my heart, or
you would not permit me this toleration.' This might have been
sufficient to make some women convinced of the truth; but Charlotte
either fearful of being deceived by her own vanity, or willing he
should be more explicit, answered, 'I have too high an opinion of your
good sense, and too flattering an idea of your friendship to me, to
imagine your heart will ever suggest any thing which would be
offensive to me from your tongue.'

'Suppose, madam,' said he, 'it should not be in my power to restrain
my wishes in those bounds prescribed by you, to all who have the
happiness of conversing with you; and that I were encroaching enough
not to be content with the marks of friendship you are pleased to
honour me': - 'in fine,' continued he, 'suppose I were guilty of the
very same presumption, you have so severely censured in the
councellor!'

'That is impossible,' replied she, 'since you are a foe professed to
marriage, as well as myself'; - she was about to add something more,
but was prevented by emotions, which she attempted, but in vain, to
conceal; and Natura saw enough to keep him from despairing he had
forfeited her _esteem_ by aiming at her _love_.

Having thus made a beginning, it was easy for him to prosecute a suit,
which he soon discovered he had a friend in her bosom to plead in
favour of: - in a word, he left her not, till he had obtained her
permission to entertain her on the same theme, and to use his
endeavours to prevail on her to exchange the friendship she confessed
for him into a warmer passion.

It would be altogether needless to make any repetition of the
particulars of this courtship; the reader will easily believe, that
both parties being animated with the same sentiments I have described,
it could not be very tedious; - love had already done his work in their
hearts, and required little the labour of the tongue. Charlotte had
entirely compleated every thing appertaining to her law-suit, yet she
seemed not in a hurry to quit the town; a business of a more tender
nature now detained her; - she had resolved, or rather she could not
help resolving, to give herself to Natura, and the shame of doing what
she had so often, and so strenuously declared against, rendered the
thoughts of returning into the country in a different state, from that
with which she had left it, insupportable to her.

After having agreed to the sollicitations of her importunate lover,
she expressed her sentiments to him on this head; on which it was
concluded, that their nuptials should be solemnized as privately as
possible in London, and that they should set out immediately after for
his country seat, where Charlotte, being utterly a stranger, would not
be subjected to any of those little railleries, she must have
expected, in a place where every one knew of the aversion she had
testified for a second marriage.

No cross accident intervening, what they designed was, in a short
time, carried into execution; - never were any pair united by more
indelible bonds; those of friendship sublimed into the most pure and
virtuous tenderness, and a parity of principles, humours, and
inclinations.

Thus does passion triumph over the most seemingly fixed and determined
resolution; and though it must be confessed, that in this instance,
both had reason, from the real merits of the beloved object, to
justify their choice, yet nature would certainly have had the same
force, and worked the same effect, if excited only by meer fancy, and
imaginary perfections.

A Platonic and spiritual love, therefore, between persons of different
sexes, can never continue for any length of time. Whatever ideas the
_mind_ may conceive, they will at last conform to the craving of the


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Online LibraryEliza Fowler HaywoodLife's Progress Through The Passions Or, The Adventures of Natura → online text (page 15 of 16)