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, February 27, 1790.
Sic visum Veneri; cui placet impares
Formas, atque animos sub juga abenea
Sævo mittere cum joco. Horace.
To the AUTHOR of the LOITERER.
SIR,HAVING long been a prey to secret Sorrow, and possessing among those who surround me no friend, to whom I could safely communicate the cause of it, I have (however reluctant to submit the detail of Domestic Inquietude to Public Disquisition) at length determined, through the medium of your Paper, to divulge the leading features of a life which may afford no useless lesson to those young Women who have not yet (as alas I have!) resigned every prospect of real Happiness, to contribute to the enjoyment and gratify the vanity for a Man, who neither seeks my esteem, or relishes my society.
My Father was a Yeoman, who, in addition to a small freehold of his own, rented a large tract of Land in the North of Devonshire. He was married early in life with a woman of his own rank, who joining to a sweet temper, and agreeable person, the utmost love and respect for her Husband, and requiring no luxuries beyond his love and affection, made him one of the happiest men in the country. Domestic satisfaction is generally accompanied by success abroad. My Father, easy in mind and circumstances, employed all his attention to make those circumstances better; and cheerfully underwent the labours of the Day, secure in a clean repast, and welcome reception in the Evening. His farms were daily improving, and at the end of eight years after his marriage, he found himself by no means impoverished, though each year had added to his family. — ’Tis with difficulty, Mr. Loiterer, that I leave the description of a time, whose pleasures are never to return. I must, however, pass over to more important events, — I was the eldest of my Father’s Children, and being reckoned exceedingly like my Mother, was with him no small favourite. This circumstance, added to the remoteness of our situation from any large town, and the little concern Which English Farmer, twenty-five years ago, felt for female education, determined my father never to send me to any school, but rather permit me to improve my health and complexion on my native Moors; of course, except in the articles of reading and writing, my accomplishments, at the age of seventeen, did not exceed those of the Dairy Maid or Kitchen Girl.
About this time, Mr. M. ——, the owner of that part of our farm which was not freehold, came down from London to repair the ravages which twenty London winters had made in his Constitution, to inspect the condition of the estates which he knew nothing of, or had ever seen before; and lastly, to try his new double-barrelled gun upon the harmless Heathpolts. — As soon as his arrival was announced, my Father, who was his principal Tenant, and in some degree his Steward, thought himself in duty bound to pay his immediate respects to him at the Manor-House; and that the compliment might be the greater, insisted on my Mother’s and my accompanying him thither. Putting on therefore our best red Cloaks, and clean white Aprons, we proceeded to the great House, which was only a short mile distant from our own. — Mr. M —— had once been very handsome; at the age of thirty-seven he was still a good looking man. His manner too had a certain attentive delicacy, which, I have since found out, can only be acquired by a long and intimate acquaintance with the truly fashionable World; and which perhaps can never be shewn to greater advantage than when directed towards our inferiors. My Father and Mother, who, with a prejudice common enough among country people, had annexed to the idea of a great Man from London, supercilious neglect, or mortifying condescension, were quite charmed with the first appearance of their Landlord. My father offered to conduct him to the best Nide of Pheasants on the Manor, while my Mother expressed a hope that he would not leave the Country without calling at the farmhouse, and tasting her clouted cream. What my opinion of the Stranger was I do not at present recollect. Young and heedless, I looked on him with surprise and curiosity rather than attention, and joined in the common report, that he was the finest Gentleman I had ever set my eyes on. But it seems that my appearance had made a far deeper impression on him. Joining to fashionable manners fashionable morals, he thought the best return he could possibly make to the well meant civilities of his new country friends, would be to seduce their favourite Daughter. To the accomplishment of which task, he thought a few guineas spent in ribbons, gloves, and lace, a very adequate sum. For as to real Virtue, he could not suppose that a raw country girl, without education and experience, possessing high spirits and an unsuspecting heart, could possibly withstand the seducing charms of adulation, finery, and pleasure. For once he was deceived. I do not assert, Mr. Loiterer, that my obstinate refusal was the effect of intrinsic virtue. At that age I could not be supposed to be equal to great temptations. Had Mr. M —— secured my heart, instead of attacking my vanity, he would in all probability have succeeded. Luckily, however, for me, his person was totally indifferent to me; of course, that passion which acts most strongly on a female heart, lay dormant, The offers too which he made, were to a native of Devonshire almost unintelligible. What could I understand of the luxuries of a Metropolis where I had never been? What charms could I suppose to exist in amusements, the very names of which I was ignorant of? The uncertainty therefore of what I might gain from such a connection, and the certainty of what I must suffer in deserting the best of parents, would have been sufficient to have decided the question, without any virtuous principle of action. I wish not to praise myself yet some virtue I surely possessed. I not only refused him, but refused him with such marks of cool contempt, that they cut him to the quick, and were productive of a subsequent change in the nature of his proposals. Mr. —— had in all probability been little used to such refusals. His figure, address, and fortune, must have made him no unsuccessful Lover among females of the highest rank. Stung therefore by unexpected disappointment, and inflamed by increased desire, though a professed Marriage-hater, he discarded the whole of his former system, and resolved to make me his at any rate. He accordingly made such proposals to my Father and Mother, as joined to their previous good opinion of him, secured them in his favour. With me, perhaps, the lustre of honourable rank, and the pleasure of raising my family to independence, had but too much weight. I easily forgave him his former mean attempts, and suffered the name of Husband to cancel the former offences of an insulting passion.
Though Mr. M — had condescended to marry the daughter of his Tenant, yet he did not chuse to wed himself to the whole family; and accordingly soon after the ceremony, he hurried me off towards the gay Metropolis. — The nearer we approached the scene of his former gaities, the more ashamed did my husband seem of having married so precipitately a girl, whom even then perhaps he thought, a little patience might have made his own on easier terms. The possession of a few days had already cooled the ardour of his passion, and when we arrived in town, instead of conveying me to an handsome house, which he possessed in —— Square, he placed me in private lodgings in Bond-street, and determined if he could not desert his wife, at least to conceal her. All this and much more I have since known from those, whom personal merit, and the neglect of a husband gave many opportunities of exciting my regard: Though, thank Heaven! hitherto without success. At the time ignorant of my husbands real fortune, or connections, one house was to me like another. Every thing was new, every thing was striking; I found myself mistress of my own time, person, and apartment; and though I had never felt anything like love for Mr. M. I was grateful to him for the rank which he had raised me to, and supported me in. I loved man no better than my husband, and thought it impossible so to do.
In a little time, Mr. M’s visits became shorter, and less frequent, and when he did come, his thoughts seemed wandering, and his person was neglected. The most credulous will at last be undeceived: Such a behaviour, as Mr. M. soon assumed, but too well convinced me, that I had unintentionally lost his affections. I was mortified, but still endeavoured to account for it without casting any blame on him. I imagined that my total want of education, which every day convinced me of, made him disgusted with my person, and ashamed of my company. Scarce had the thought entered my head, when I determined, as far 5slay in my power, to remedy the defect. Mr. M. had ever made me a very ample allowance: This I immediately employed in the selection of the best Masters in every department of female accomplishment. Though the loss of many years, which are never to be recovered, forbad my arriving at excellence, yet the necessity of the case, and a sense of duty enabled me to do much. At the end of two years I was conscious of my own progress. My manners and my taste were evidently improved. I could join in conversation with Mr. M. without hesitation, and support it without confusion. He was soon sensible of the change, and the conviction that my labours were merely to make myself worthy of him, produced for a little time the renewal of former caresses: But habitual infidelity is not easily corrected; and Mr. M. soon found that, the being virtuous, and consistent, was too great an effort for the shattered principles of a fashionable education.
At this time another circumstance was added to the sum of my misfortunes, and in comparison of which all I had hitherto suffered was nothing. — Mr. M. had introduced to me many fashionable young Men, though very few fashionable Women. Among the former was a nephew of his own, about my age; to whom Nature had been equally kind in the gifts of person and mind. His Uncle had procured him a Commission in the Guards, and had made him an allowance equal to that rank. Ennobled by birth and profession, he was still more so by manner and disposition. Brave to a degree of enthusiasm, yet strong in judgment beyond his years, at once fervid, and gentle: He had preserved the character of fashion without dissipation, and genius without pedantry. We were often alone; Mr. M. seemed to wish we should be so. Our tastes were similar, our literary pursuits the same: Nor were our dispositions unlike, for we had both Conceived the image of a love, which neither was destined to enjoy. Our esteem was mutual; and from esteem to love the path is very short. — Why should I dwell on circumstances, which fifteen years of absence cannot make me indifferent to! How far our passions might have carried us, or what I might not have stopped at, I now dread to think, had not my Edward been more generous to me, than to himself. Without assigning to Mr. M. any cause except a dislike of indolence, and a thirst for military glory, he insisted on a change into the Regulars, and immediately joined a Regiment, which had embarked for the East Indies, leaving behind him a letter to me; in which he said, that being convinced he was not indifferent to me, he had joyfully preferred exile to the chance of thinking me less perfect, than he had ever done from the first moment of our acquaintance.
What my feelings were on so sudden a crisis is not to be described. Mr. M. still persevered in the same neglect of his honour and my own. It was evident I contributed not to his comfort, and I was probably a check to his pleasures. This idea induced me to embrace a plan, which I had long wished for. Accordingly one day after begging a serious attention to what I was going to say, I recapitulated every circumstance since our marriage, which could confirm me in the idea of his indifference to me; I presumed not to resent, I deigned not to complain; I only begged, that if I could not contribute to his pleasures, I might not clog them, and that he would consent to my leaving the circles of gaiety, where I found no amusement, and retire to the seat which he possessed in my native country. After a few well-bred remonstrances he consented to what I am sure He had long secretly wished; and in less than a week I had entered on my new retreat.
In this spot I have passed the last twelve years of my life, surrounded by those, whom the ties of blood and the disgusting recollection of a more splendid life have made doubly dear to me. Mr. M. rarely visits me; when he does I always meet him with a smile, and endeavour to make his stay as agreeable as I can; he quits me with apparent regret; but returns not in a hurry. Sincerely do I pity him as a melancholy instance of good intentions struggling ineffectually against vicious habits.
Of the man, whom I once loved too tenderly, I have since heard through the means of my husband. He is well, and advances rapidly in his profession; he talks not of returning. May he be happy!
Such is my history. I ask not advice, Mr. Loiterer; I have determined on my plan of life, and my heart tells me that I am right. I only wish you to caution those, who have not; that too much care cannot be paid, e’er they form lasting connections. Indifference is a frail foundation for marriage. Every human heart is formed for love: And the Woman, who loves not her husband, must love some one else. If her passion is restrained she will never be happy; if it is indulged, she will be always miserable.
I am, Sir, your’s, &c.E.
As this Work will soon be concluded, such of our Correspondents who may be inclined to favour us with any farther Contributions, are requested to do so as early s possible; and we should esteem it an additional obligation, if they would make us acquainted with their names, that we may have it in our power to thank them in our last number.
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