Henry J. (Henry John) Van-Lennep.

The American lady's preceptor : a compilation of observations, essays and poetical effusions designed to direct the female mind in a course of pleasing and instructive reading online

. (page 13 of 18)
Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry John) Van-LennepThe American lady's preceptor : a compilation of observations, essays and poetical effusions designed to direct the female mind in a course of pleasing and instructive reading → online text (page 13 of 18)
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But on this point he talked in vain ; used by
a benevolent and pious mother, whose loss she
tenderly deplored, to impart comfort to the poor,
the sick, and the afflicted, Julia endeavoured to
make her residence in the country a blessing to
the neighbourhood ; but, too often, kind words,
soothing visits, and generous promises, were all
that she had to bestow ; and many a time did she
purchase the means of relieving a distressed fel*


low creature by a personal sacrifice : for though
ever ready to contribute to a subscription either
public or private, Beresford could not be prevail-
ed upon to indulge his daughter by giving way to
that habitual benevolence, which, when once prac-
tised, can never be left off.

But though the sums were trifling which Julia
had to bestow, she had so many cheap charities
in her power, such as sending broth to the neigh-
bouring cottages, and making linen of various
sorts for poor v/omen and children, that she was
deservedly popular in the neighbourhood ; and
though her father was reckoned as proud as he
was rich, the daughter was prpnounced to be a
pattern of good nature, and as affable as he was
the contrary.

But wherever Beresford could have an oppor-
tunity of displaying his wealth to advantage, he
regarded not expense : — and to outvie the neigh-
bouring gentlemen in endeavours to attract the
rich young baronet, whom ail the young ladies
would, he supposed, be aiming to captivate, he
purchased magnificent furniture and carriages,
and promised Julia a great addition to her ward-
robe, whenever sir Frederic Mortimer should
take up his abode at his seat.

Julia heard that the baronet v/as expected, with
a beating heart. She had been several times in
his company at a watering place^ immediatelv on
his return from abroad, and had wished to appear
as charming in his eyes as he appeared in hers ;
but she had been disappointed. Modest and re-
tiring in her manner, and not showy in her per-
son, though her features were regularly beautiful,
sir i^rederick Mortimer, who had only seen her
m large companies, and with very striking and

186 NARRATlVr.

attractive women, had regarded her merely as an
amiable girl, and had rarely thought of her again.

Julia Beresford was formed to steal upon the
affections by slow degrees ; to interest on ac-
qaaintance, not to strike at first sight. But the
man who had opportunities of listening to the
sweet tones of her voice, and of gazing on her
varied countenance when emotion crimsoned her
pale cheek, and lighted up the expressions of her
eyes, could never behold hei* without a degree of
interest which beauty alone often fails to excite.
Like most women, too, Julia derived great advan-
tages from dress : of this she Avas sensible,
though very often did she appear shabbily attired,
from having expended on others, sums destined
to ornament herself ; but, when she had done so,
a physiognomist would have discovered in her
countenance probably an expression of self satis-
faction, more ornamental than any dress could be.
But, generally, as Julia knew the value of exter-
nal decoration, she wisely wished to indulge in it.

One day Julia, accompanied by her father, went
to the shop of a milliner, in a large town, near
which they lived ; and, as winter was coming on,
and her pelisse, a dark and now faded purple, was
nearly worn out, she was ver}^ desirous of pur-
chasing a black velvet one, which was on sale ;:
but her father hearing that the price of it was
twelve guineas, positively forbade her to wish for
so expensive a piece of finery ; though he owned
that it was very handsome, and very becoming.

" To be sure," said Julia smiling, but casting a
longing look at the pelisse, " twelve guineas might
be better bestowed :" and they left the shop.

The next day Mr. Beresford went to town on
business, and, in a short time after, he wrote to
his daughter to say that he had met sir Frederic


Mortimer in London, and that he would soon be
down at his seat, to attend some pony races which
Mr. Hanmer, who had a mind to shew off his
dowdy daughter to the young baronet, intended
to have on a piece of land belonging to him ; and
that he had heard all the ladies in the neighbour-
hood were to be there.

" I have received an invitation for you and my-
self," continued Mr. Beresford : and therefore,
as I am resolved the Miss Traceys, and the other
girls, shall not be better or more expensively
dressed than my daughter, I enclose you bills to
the amount of thirteen pounds ; and I desire you
to go and purchase the velvet pelisse which we so
much admired ; and I have sent you a hat, the
most elegant which money could procure, in ordef
that my heiress may appear as an heiress should

Julia's young heart beat with pleasure at this
permission : for she was to adorn herself to ap-
pear before the only man whom she ever xvished
to please : and the next morning she determined
to set off to make the desired purchase.

That evening, being alone, she set out to take
her usual walk ; and having, lost in no unpleasing
reverie, strayed very near to a village about three
miles from home, she recollected to have heard an
affecting account of the distress of a very virtu-
ous and industrious family in that village, owing
to the poor man's being drawn for the militia, and
not rich enough to procure a substitute. She
therefore resolved to go on and inquire how the
matter had terminated. Julia proceeded to the
village, and reached it just as the very objects of
her solicitude were come to the height of their


The father of the family, not being able to raise
more than half the money wanted, was obliged
to serve ; and Julia, on seeing a crowd assembled,
approached to ask what was going forward ; and
found 5ae w^as arrived to witness a very affectingj
scene : for the poor man was taking his last fare-
well of his wife and family, who, on his departure
to join the regiment, v/ouldbe forced to go to the
w^orkhouse, v/here, as they were in delicate health,
it was most probable they w^ould soon fall victims
to bad food and bad air.

The poor man was universally beloved in his
village ; and the neighbours, seeing that a young
lady inquired concerning his misfortunes with au
air of interest, were all eager to give her ever
possible information on the subject of his distress
" And only think, Miss," said one of them, " fo
the want of nine pounds only, as honest and har
w^orking a lad as ever lived, and as good a husij*
band and father, must be forced to leave his fami-
ly, and be a militia man — and they, poor things,,
go to the workhouse !"

" Nine pounds !" said Julia, " would that be
sufficient to keep him at home ?" *

" La ! yes. Miss ; for that young fellow yonder
would gladly go for him for eighteen pounds !"

On hearing this how many thoughts rapidly
succeeded each other in Julia's mind ^—^U she
paid the nine pounds, the man v/ould be restored
to his family, and they preserved perhaps from an
untimely death in a workhouse I — But then shei
had no money but what her father had sent to'
purchase the pelisse, nor was she to see him till
she met him on the race ground !— and he would
be so disappointed if she were not well dressed !
True, she might take the pelisse on trust ; but
then she was sure her father would be highly in-


censed at her extravagance, if she spent twelve
guineas, and gave away nine pounds at the same
time : — therefore she knew she must either give
up doing a generous action, or give up the pehsse,
that is, give up the gratification of her father's
pride and her own vanity.

'' No, I dare not, I cannot do it," tl^ought Ju-
lia ; " my own vanity I would willingly mortify,
—-but not my father's — No — the poor man must
go !•'

During this mental struggle the bye standers
had eagerly watched her countenance ; and think-
ing she was disposed to pay the sum required,
they communicated their hopes to the poor people
themselves ; and as Julia turned her eyes towards
them the wretched couple looked at her with such
an imploring look ! but she was resolved :■ — " I
am sorry, I am very sorry," said she, " that I can
do nothing for you :■ — however, take this." So
saying, she gave them all the loose money she had
in her pocket, amounting to a few shillings, and
then, with an aching heart, walked rapidly away ;
but as she did so, the sobs of the poor woman,
as she leaned on her husband's shoulders, and
the cries of the little boy, when his father, strug-
gling with his grief, bade him a last farewell,
reached her, and penetrated to her heart.

" Poor creatures !" she inwardly exclaimed ;
" and nine pounds would change these tears into
gladness, and yet I withhold it ! And is it for
this that Heaven has blessed me with opulence ?
for this, to be restrained by the fear of being re-
proved for spending r\ paltry sura such as this is,
from doing an action aaceptable in the eyes of my
creator ! no ,* I will pay the money ! I will give
myself the delight of serving afflicted worth, and


spare myself from, perhaps, eternal self re-
proach !''

She then, without waiting for further conside-
ration, turned back again, paid the money into the
poor man's hands ; and giving the remaining four
pounds to the v»'oman, who, though clean, was mis-
erably clad, desired her to lay part of it out in
clothes for herself and children.

I will not attempt to describe the surprise and
gratitude of the relieved sufferers, nor the over-
v/helming feelings which Julia experienced ; who,
withdrawing herself with the rapidity of light-
ning from their thanks, and wishing to remain un-
known, ran hastily along her road home, not dar-
ing to stop, lest her joy at having done a gene-
rous deed, should be checked by other conside-

But at length exhausted, and panting for breath,
she was obliged to relax in her speed ; and then
the image of her angry and disappointed parent
appeared to her in all its terrors.

" What can I do r" she exclaimed " Shall I

order the pelisse, though I can't pay for it, or go
without ? No ; I ought not to incur so great an
expense v/ithoutmy father's leave, though I know
him to be able to afford it ; and to run in debt he
would consider as even a greater fault than the
other. Well, then — I must submit to mortify his
pride ; and though I rejoice in what I have done,
the joy is amply counterbalanced by the idea of
giving pain to my father."

Poor Julia ! her own wounded vanity came in
for its share in causing her uneasiness ; and the
rest of that day, and the next, Julia spent in re-
flections and fears, v/hich did not tend to improve
her looks, and make a becoming dress unneces-


The next morning was the morning for the
races. The sun shone bright, and every thing
looked cheerful but Julia. She had scarcely spi-
rits to dress herself. It was very cold ; there-
fore she was forced to wear her faded purple pe-
lisse, and now it looked shabbier than usual ; and
still shabbier from the contrast of a very smart
new black velvet bonnet.

At length Julia had finished her toilette, saving
to herself, " My father talked of Mr. Hanmer's
dowdy daughter. I am sure Mr. Hanmer may
return the compliment.;" and then, with a heavy
heart, she got into the carriage, and drove to the
house of rendezvous.

Mr. Beresford was there before her ; and while
he contemplated with fearful admiration the ele-
gant cloaks, and fine showy figures and faces of
the Miss Traceys, between whose father and him-
self tnere had long been a rivalship of wealth,
he was consoled for their elegance by reflecting
how much more expensive and elegant Julia's
dress would be, and how well she would look,
flushed as he expected to see her, with the blush
pf emotion on entering a full room, and the con-
sciousness of more than usual attraction in her

^ Julia at length appeared, but pale, dejected, and
m her old purple pelisse !

What a mortification ! His daughter, the great
heiress, the worst dressed and most dowdy look-
mg girl in the company ! Insupportable ! scarce-
ly could he welcome her, though he had not seen
1 her for some days ; and he seized the very first
opportunity of asking her if she had received the

" Yes, I^hank ye, sir ;" replied Julia.


" Then why did you not buy what I bade you ?
It could not be gone ; for, if you did not buy it,
nobody else could, I am sure."

" I — I — I thought I could do without it — and

" There now, there is perverseness. When I
wished you not to have it, then you wanted it ;
and now I protest if I don't believe you did it on
purpose to mortify me ; and there's those minxes,
whose father is not worth half what I am, are !
dressed out as fine as princesses., I vow, girl,
you look so shabby and ugly, I can't bear to look
at you !"

Whiit a trial for Julia ! her eyes filled with
tears ; and at this moment sir Frederic Mortimer
approached her, and hoped she had not been ill ;
but he thought she was paler than usual !

"Paler !" cried her father : " why, I should
not have known her, she has made such a fright
of herself."

" You may say so, sir," replied the baronet po-
litely, though he almost agreed with him ; " but
no other man can be of that opinion."

Julia was rather gratified by this speech ; but
without waiting for an answer, sir Frederic had
gone to join the Miss Traceys ; and as he en'jer-
ed into an animated conversation with them, Julia
was allowed, unattended, to walk to the w^indow
in the next room, and enjoy her own melancholy

At length, to Julia's great relief, they were
summoned to the race-ground ; the baronet taking
Miss Hanmer under one arm and the ejlder Miss
Tracey under the other. — '' So," cried Beresford,
seizing Julia roughly by the hand, " i must lead
you, I see ; for who will take any uotice of such


ii dowdy ? Well girl, I was too proud of you, and
you have contrived to humble me enough."

There was a mixture of tenderness and resent-
ment in this speech, which quite overcame Julia,
and she buret into tears. " There— now she is
going to make herself w^orse by spoiling her eyes.
But come, tell me what you did with the money ;
I insist upon knowing."

" I — I — gave it away," sobbed out Julia.
" Gave it away ! monstrous ! I protest I will
not speak to you again for a month." So saying,
he left her, and carefully avoided to look at or
speak to her again.

The races began, and were interesting to all but
Julia, w^ho, conscious of being beheld by her fa-
ther with looks of mortification and resentment,
and by the man of her choice with indifference,
had no satisfaction to enable her to support the un-
pleasantness of her situation, except the conscious-
ness that her sorrow had been the cause of happi-
ness to others, and that the family whom she had
relieved were probably at that moment naming
her with praises and blessings. " Then why
should I be so selfish as to repine ?" thought Julia ;
perhaps no one present has such a right as I to
rejoice ; for how poor are the gratifications of
vanity to the triumphs of benevolence !"

So like a philosopher reasoned our heroine ; but
she felt like a woman, and, spite of herself, an
expression of vexation still prevailed over the
usual sweetness of her countenance.

The races at length finished, and with them she
flattered herself would finish her mortifications ;
but in vain. The company was expected to stay
to partake of a cold collation, which was to bj
preceded by music and dancing ; and Julia was
obliged to accept the unwelcome invitation.



As the ladies were most of them very young,
they were supposed not to have yet forgotten the
art of dancing minuets — an art now of so little
use ; and Mr. Hanmer begged sir Frederic would
lead off his daughter to shew off in a minuet.
The baronet obeyed ; and then offered to take out
Julia for the same purpose ; but she, blushing,
refused to comply.

" Well, what's that for r" cried Beresford an-
grily, who knew that Julia was remarkable for
dancing a good minuet. " Why can't you dance
when you are asked, Miss Beresford r" " Be-
cause," replied Julia, in a faultering voice," I have
no gown on, and I can't dance a minuet in my —
in my pelisse.'^

" Rot your pelisse !" exclaimed Beresford, for-
getting all decency and decorum, and turned to
the window to hide his angry emotions, while
Julia hung her head, abashed ; and the baronet
led out Miss Tracey, who, throwing off the cloak
which s*he had worn before, having expected such
an exhibition would take place, displayed a very
fine form, set off by the most becoming gown

" Charming ! admirable ! what a figure ! what
grace !" was murmured throughout the room.
Mr. Beresford's proud heart throbbed^almost to
agony : while Julia, though ever ready to acknow-
ledge the excellence of another, still felt the whole
scene so vexatious to her, principally from the
mortification of her father, that her only resource
was again thinking on the family rescued from
misery by her.

Reels were next called for ; and Julia then stood
up to dance ; but she had not danced five minutes
when, exhausted by the various motions which
she had undergone during the last eight and forty


hours, her head became so giddy, that she could
not proceed, and was obhged to sit down.

^^ I believe the deuce is in the girl," muttered
Mr. Beresford ; and, to increase her distress,
Julia overheard him.

In a short time the dancing was discontinued
and a concert begun. Miss Hanmer played a
sonata, and Miss Tracey sung a bravura song with
great execution. Julia was then called upon to
play ; but she timidly answered that she never
played lessons :

" But you sing," said Miss Hanmer.

" Sometimes ; but I beg to be excused singing^

"• What ! you will not sing neither ?" said Mr.

" I can't sing now, indeed, sir ; I am not well
enough ,* and I tremble so much that I have not
a steady note in my voice."

" So, Miss," whispered Mr. Beresford, " and
this is what I get in return for having squandered
so much money on your education ?"

The Miss Traceys were then applied to, and
they sung, with great applause, a difficult Italian
duo, and were complimented into the bargain on
their readiness to oblige.

Poor Julia.

" You see, Miss Beresford, how silly and con-
temptible you look," whispered Beresford, " while
these squalling Misses run away with all the ad-

" Julia's persecutions were not yet over.— ^
" Though you are not well enough. Miss Beres-
ford, to sing a song," said Mr. Hanmer, " which
requires much exertion, surely you can sing a
ballad without muoic, which is, I am told, your


*' So I have heard," cried sir Frederic. '•'' Do,
Miss Beresford, oblige us."

" Do," said the Miss Traceys ; " and we have a
claim on you."

" I own it," replied Julia, in a voice scarcely
audible ; " but you, who are such proficients in
music, must know, that to sing a simple ballad
requires more self-possession and steadiness of
tone than any other kind of singing ; as all the
merit depends on the clearness of utterance, and
the power of sustaining the notes."

" True ; but do try."

"Indeed I cannot:" and, shrugging up her
shoulders, the ladies desisted from further impor-
tunities. " 1 am so surprised," said one of them
to the other, leaning across two or three gentle-
men : I had heard that Miss Beresford was re-
markably good humoured and obliging, and she
seems quite sullen and obstinate : don't you think

" O dear, yes ! and not obliging at all."

" No, indeed," cried Miss Hanmer : " she
seems to presume on her wealth, I think : what
think you, gentlemen ?"

But the gentlemen were not so hasty in their
judgments — two of them only observed that Miss
Beresford was in no respect like herself that day.

" I don't think she is well," said the baronet.

" Perhaps she is in love," said Miss Tracey,
laughing at the shrewdness of her own observa-

, " Perhaps so," replied sir Frederic, thought-

It was sir Frederic's intention to marry, and,
if possible, a young woman born in the same
county as himself; for he wished her to have the
same local prejudices as he had, and to have the


same early attachments : consequently he inquir-
ed of his steward, before he came to reside at his
seat, into the character of the ladies in the neigh-
bourhood ; but the steward could or would talk
of no one but Julia Beresford ; and of her he
gave so exalted a character, that sir Frederic,
who only remembered her as a pleasing modest
girl, was very sorry that he had not paid her more

Soon after, in the gallery of an eminent painter,
he saw her picture ; and though he thought it
flattered, he gazed on it with pleasure, and fanci-
ed that Julia, when animated, might be quite as
handsome as that was. Since that time he had
frequently thought of her, and thought of hc^r as
a woman formed to make him happy ; and indeed
he had gone to look at her picture the day before
he came down to the country, and had it strongly
in his remembrance when he saw Julia herself,
pale, spiritless, and ill-dressed, in Mr. Hanmer's
drawing room.

Perhaps it would be too much to say, that he
felt as much chagrined as Mr. Beresford; but
certain it is, that he was sensibly disappointed,
and could not help yielding to the superior attrac-
tion of the lovely and elegant Miss Tracy : be-
sides, he was the object of general attention, and

" We know of old that all contend

*' To win her grace, whom all commend."

The concert being over, the company adjourn-
ed to an elegant entertainment set out in an open
pavilion in the park, which commanded a most
lovely view of the adjacent country.

Julia. seated herself near the entrance ; the ba-
ronet placed himself between the two lovely sis-
ters ; and Beresford, in order to be able to vent
R 2


his spleen every now and then in his daughter's
ear, took a chair beside her.

The collation had every delicacy to tempt the
palate, and every decoration to gratify the taafe :
and all, except the pensive Julia, seemed to enjoy
-it : when, as she was leaning from the door to
speak to a lady at the head of the table, a little
boy, about ten years old, peeped into the pavilion,
as if anxiously looking for some one.

The child was so clean, and so neat in his dress,
that a gentleman near him patted his curly head,
and asked him what he wanted.^

"A lady."

*' But what lady ? Here is one, and a pretty
one too," showing the lady next him ; " will not
she do ?"

" Oh no ! she is not my lady," replied the

At this moment Julia turned round, and the
little boy, clapping his hands, exclaimed, " Oh !
that's she ! that's she !" Then turning out, he
cried, " Mother ! mother ! Father ! father ! here
she is ! we have found her at last !" and before
Julia, who suspected what was to follow, could
leave her place, and get out of the pavilion, the
poor man and woman whom she had relieved, and
their now well clothed, happy looking family, ap-
peared before the door of it.

" What does all this mean ? cried Mr. Han-
mer. " Good people, whom do you want ?"

*' We come, sir^" cried the man, " in search of
that young lady," pointing to Julia ; " as we could
not go from the neighbourhood without coming to
thank and bless her ; for she saved me from going
for a soldier, and my wife and children from a
workhouse, sir, and made me and mine as com-
fortable as vou now see us."


" Dear father ! let me pass, pray do," cried
Julia, trembling with emotion, and oppressed with
ingenious modesty.

*' Stay where you are, girl," cried Beresford, In
a voice between laughing and crying.

'^ Well, but how came you hither r" cried Mr.
Hanmer, who began to think this was a premedi-
tated scheme of Julia's to show off before the

" Why, sir — shall I tell the whole story ?"
asked the man.

" No, no, pray go away," cried Julia, " and I'll
come and speak to you.''

" By no means," cried the baronet eagerly :
" the story, the story, if you please."

The man then began, and related Julia's meet-
ing him and his family, her having relieved them,
and then running away to avoid their thanks, and
to prevent her being followed, as it seemed, and
being known. That, resolved not to rest till they

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Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry John) Van-LennepThe American lady's preceptor : a compilation of observations, essays and poetical effusions designed to direct the female mind in a course of pleasing and instructive reading → online text (page 13 of 18)