L O I T E R E R.
"Speak of us as we are."
PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR,
And sold by Messrs. PRINCE and COOKE, OXFORD.
Mess. EGERTONS, Whitehall, LONDON; Mess. PEARSON
And ROLLASON, BIRMINGHAM; Mr. W. MEYLER, Grove,
BATH; AND Mess. COWSLADE and SMART, READING.
L O I T E R E R.
SATURDAY, January 30, 1790.
To the AUTHOR of the LOITERER.
TIME, Mr. Loiterer, which brings more difficult things to pass, at last effected my deliverance. — My education was declared by all my masters to be completed, and with a heart agitated by the alternate emotions of hope and fear, I was introduced by my Cousin, for the first time, into a large and brilliant assembly of the young, and the gay. As my person was naturally rather pleasing, as I was then in the bloom of youth, and as every adventitious advantage of dress had been exhausted to render my first impression more striking, you will not think me vain when I tell you that my reception was equal to my own, or my Relations most sanguine wishes, and that I was flattered with the admiration of almost all the men, and the envy of quite all the women in the company. From this moment I led a life of dress, parties, and hurry. Every evening brought its engagement, and every morning was spent recovering from the fatigue of past, and in making preparations for future dissipation. Yet, amidst the allurements of pleasure, and the intoxication of flattery, I could not help observing, that my charms by no means produced that lasting effect on the hearts of the men, which my Cousin’s lessons, or my own vanity, had taught me to expect. Of those whom my first appearance had attached, some presently left me for prettier, or for newer faces, in their turn to be flirted with and left, Not a few grew cool in their addresses as soon as they were informed I had no fortune, and of those who still continued to flutter about me at public places, there was little reason to imagine that any had very serious intentions. On my remarking this to my Cousin, she allowed that the young men of the present age were shamefully mercenary in the affair of choosing a wife; but encouraged me to persevere, by saying, that a girl with my attractions need never despair of having plenty of good offers, if she played her cards well. About this time, I received a visit from a young clergyman (the son of a near neighbour) who, having been called to town, by the acquisition of some preferment, took, as he said, the opportunity of renewing acquaintance which had once given him so much pleasure. Though my Cousin had some reasons which induced her rather to decline than encourage an intimacy between us, yet as he brought a letter from my mother, and appeared to be an old acquaintance of our family, she could not with decency avoid shewing him some civilities; and, during his stay in town, which was much longer than he at first intended, he was constantly in all our parties. As we had formerly carried on a kind of infantine flirtation, and had been perhaps as much in love as it was possible to be at so early an age, you will not wonder, at least I did not, that in the course of a few weeks he became seriously attached to me, and even pleaded his cause with a degree of warmth and sincerity, which I had occasion for all my acquired coldness to withstand. Had I been left to myself indeed, few would have been his obstacles; for I was not naturally either a coquette or a prude. But, convinced of the truth of my cousin’s notions, who had by this time attained a wonderful ascendancy over me, I immediately referred him to her. — She heard him with attention, and after thanking him with politeness for his good opinion of her Elevé, desired a little time to deliberate on his proposals. As she took care to confine these deliberations to the main point of fortune, without attending to any inferior considerations of disposition, temper, or manner, which she rightly conceived would only embarrass the argument, her determination was soon fixed; and the next day she signified her pleasure to me, that I should think no more of him. — “Had you, Cecilia,” said she, “been five or six and twenty, I should have recommended it to you to have accepted him; but as you have so much time before you, I think you may do better.” He was, therefore, dismissed with the common forms of civil refusals; and I was condemned to pass another Winter in the delicate, and feminine employment of looking for a husband. But though I had been thus enabled to triumph over my feelings, yet to suppress them entirely was out of my power; and the internal struggle of my mind had such and evident effect on my looks, that my health was believed to be in danger; a sea bathing place was earnestly recommended by the physicians, as the only thing which could be of service to me. For this purpose my Cousin pitched upon borough, not only because it was a part of the kingdom which she wished to see, but because there was a better chance of my succeeding in a country where my face and person were new.
To Scarborough then we went, and, as it was then early in the season, the change of air, and the fresh breezes of the sea, soon wrought so good an effect on me, that by the time it began to fill, I had recovered my health, my complexion, and my spirits, and soon made considerable havoc in the hearts of many Northern Squires. Among these the most considerable was Sir Harry Thoroughbred, a Northumberland Baronet, who having early in life come into the possession of 3000l. a year, determined always to live single, and enjoy his fortune in comfort. This determination he for some years adhered to, but having lately found reason to suspect that both his estate and constitution were both in decline, at the age of thirty-seven, he wisely resolved to marry; and, for the double purpose of recruiting his health and choosing a wife, he was now come to Scarborough, having been informed, as he said, that there were generally a good shew of women at that place. This amorous youth it was my good fortune to fix; he blundered down a country dance with me that day after his arrival; walked with me an hour next morning on the Beach; drank a bumper to my health at the Ordinary (swearing at the same time that I had the best foot and ankle of any girl in the county) and the very next day made his proposals to my Cousin in due form. — As the lady perfectly understood her business, and the gentleman was very much in love, she found no difficulty in obtaining a very advantageous settlement both with respect to Jointure and Pin Money, though it cost her some pains to make him comprehend the meaning or the necessity of this latter article. — He was so kind, however, as to agree to all she proposed, and they presently settled every thing to their satisfaction; or, as Sir Harry not improperly expressed it, “They soon came to a deal.” My cousin immediately informed me of her Success, and my happiness, in a very affectionate speech, which she concluded With these words: — “I know not, my dear Cecilia, in what light you may consider this match; but my own heart tells me, that I have acted with a truest regard to your happiness. It is true, there was a time when I myself formed higher views for you, and fondly looked forward to the day when I should see my Cecilia the wife of a rich Banker; or, at least, a new made Peer, But, alas! I find the young men now are much too intent on fortune to pay any regard to beauty; and a young woman who overstands her market is in great danger of being blown upon, and never marrying at all. As to Sir Harry, he appears so good tempered, and so weak, that you may very easily manage him. — Your Jointure is beyond even my expectations, and I think you have a fair prospect of enjoying it soon, notwithstanding he is under forty; for his constitution, I suspect, is breaking very fast. I have the pleasure of assuring you, on the most undoubted authority, that all his family have died young.” To object to a union which offered such flattering prospects of happiness was impossible; and as Sir Harry at least possessed the eagerness of a Lover, he had very soon the happiness of conveying his bride in triumph to Thoroughbred Hall. And this at the age of nineteen, I found myself settled in a dreary situation, at a remote corner of the kingdom, with a man whose disposition I knew nothing of, and whose person was three weeks before utterly unknown to me. Though it cannot be supposed that my affection for my husband was very strong, yet as I really intended to make him a good wife in the main, I early endeavoured to discover the leading traits of his character; but, alas! I soon found that my Cousin had been much mistaken in supposing him easily managed because he was weak, and good tempered; for his weakness only served to render him more obstinate, and he was never good tempered, but when he had his own way. During the first week or two of our marriage, he perfectly overpowered me with Love; but this being soon exhausted by its own violence, he became first indifferent, and afterwards ill- tempered. As he had all his life conversed chiefly with men, and consequently neither had, nor pretended to have, any relish for female society, I knew not whether I should have lamented his attachment to the amusement of the Field, since he was so good as to leave me all the mornings to myself, had I not as regularly been obliged to make tea in the evening for a party of drunken men; the use he ever allowed a wife to be made of. Nor was I more deceived in the idea I had entertained of my husband’s temper, than in the comforts I expected to enjoy from the possession of Rank and Fortune.
My equipage, it is true, was brilliant; my dress expensive; and I had an unlimited command of money; but these, alas! were poor advantages in a neighbourhood where a few formal Dining Visits, and the annual tumult of a Race Assembly, were the only events that diversified a life of noise without cheerfulness, or solitude without peace. After I had existed in this comfortless situation about ten years, Sir Harry, who, notwithstanding my Cousin’s predictions, had continued all this time in a most obstinate state of health, drank himself into a fever at an election feast, which in a few days carried him off. As we had never felt any real regard for each other, and as we had for many years given up even the appearance of it, I was not guilty of affectation in pretending a sorrow which 1 was very far from feeling, and began with great composure to lay plans for the future enjoyment of my fortune, which I had thus so dearly gained. — Great, however, was my surprise to find from the examination of my husband’s affairs, that he died rather worse than nothing; the landed estate being mostly entailed on a distant collateral branch, and the remainder, even with the house, the plate, and furniture, being scarce sufficient to clear the debts. The fact was that my Cousin, like many other great politicians, had overshot her mark; in her zeal for procuring an advantageous settlement, she had forgot to enquire into securities; and had actually accepted a Jointure to be paid from an estate then mortgaged to nearly its full value. This blow I felt more severely as I had no one friend, or relation, to whom I could, with any propriety, apply for assistance; the above-mentioned lady, who died soon after my marriage, having left her fortune to other relatives, on the idea, that I was already amply provided for. My father and mother had long since paid the debt of nature; my brothers and sisters were variously dispersed, and none in more than moderate circumstances; nor did I well know, on this occasion, how to address any of them, as more than fifteen years had now elapsed since I had seen any one of my family. Willing, however to do something, I wrote a short account of my situation to my eldest Sister, who had lately married a country gentleman who fanned a small estate of his own and to whom she had been long and tenderly attached. Her answer, which contained an invitation at once warm and delicate, gave me the first pleasing sensation I had experienced for many years. I accepted it with eagerness; and, quitting a mansion where I had never known one moment of real pleasure, arrived in a few days at this peaceful retreat; where the soothing endearments of my sister, and the friendly behaviour of her husband, soon reconciled me to my fate, and restored my peace of my mind.
But, in proportion as I recovered my recollection, various doubts began to arise in my mind about the truth of my Cousin’s system, and the consequent propriety of my conduct. Hitherto I had been satisfied with knowing that I was unhappy in my then situation, without considering whether I should have been more comfortable in any other; but every observation I made on the mutual affection, the cheerfulness, and the contentment of my sister, convinced me, that I had entirely flung away my own happiness, by mistaking luxury for comfort, and affluence for enjoyment. —— Desire, therefore, your Readers, Mr. Loiterer, and particularly the younger and fairer part of them, to remember, e’er they form lasting connections, that the splendour of Rank, and the display of Opulence, make but poor amends for the loss of domestic Comfort; and that, though an Union of Love may have some misery, a Marriage of Interest can give no Happiness.
I am, Sir, your's,
N.B. This work will in future be sold by Messrs. Prince and Cooke; to whom our Correspondents are requested to direct their communications.
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