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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Miss Byron’s Rescue from Abduction, by Sir Charles Grandison
By Samuel Richardson (1689–1761)
 
Related in a Letter from Miss Byron to her Friend Miss Selby

From ‘Sir Charles Grandison’

AS the chariot drove by houses, I cried out for help. But under pretense of preventing my taking cold, Sir Hargrave tied a handkerchief over my face, head, and mouth, having first muffled me up in the cloak; and with his right arm thrown round me, kept me fast on the seat: and except that now and then my struggling head gave me a little opening, I was blinded.  1
  On the road, just after I had screamed, and made another effort to get my hands free, I heard voices: and immediately the chariot stopped. Then how my heart was filled with hope! But alas! it was momentary. I heard one of his men say, “The best of husbands, I assure you, sir; and she is the worst of wives.” I screamed again. “Aye, scream and be d—d! Poor gentleman, I pity him with all my heart.” And immediately the coachman drove on again. The vile wretch laughed.  2
  I was ready to faint several times. I begged for air; and when we were in an open road, and I suppose there was nobody in sight he vouchsafed to pull down the blinding handkerchief, but kept it over my mouth; so that, except now and then that I struggled it aside with my head (and my neck is very stiff with my efforts to free my face), I could only make a murmuring kind of noise. The curtain of the fore-glass was pulled down, and generally the canvas on both sides drawn up. But I was sure to be made acquainted when we came near houses, by his care again to blind and stifle me up. A little before we were met by my deliverer, I had, by getting one hand free, unmuffled myself so far as to see (as I had guessed once or twice before by the stone pavements) that we were going through a town: and then I again vehemently screamed; but he had the cruelty to thrust a handkerchief into my mouth, so that I was almost strangled, and my mouth was hurt, and is still sore.  3
  At one place the chariot drove out of the road, over rough ways and little hillocks, as I thought, by its rocking; and then, it stopping, he let go my hands and endeavored to soothe me. He begged I would be pacified; and offered, if I would forbear crying out for help, to leave my eyes unmuffled all the rest of the way. But I would not, I told him, give such a sanction to his barbarous violence. On the chariot’s stopping, one of his men came up, and put a handkerchief into his master’s hands, in which were some cakes and sweetmeats, and gave him also a bottle of sack, with a glass. Sir Hargrave was very urgent with me to take some of the sweetmeats and to drink a glass of the wine; but I had neither stomach nor will to touch either. He eat himself very cordially. God forgive me! I wished in my heart there were pins and needles in every bit he put into his mouth. He drank two glasses of the wine. Again he urged me. I said I hoped I had eat and drank my last.  4
  I saw that I was upon a large, wild, heath-like place, between two roads, as it seemed. I asked nothing about my journey’s end. All I had to hope for as to an escape (though then I began to despair of it) was upon the road, or in some town. My journey’s end, I knew, must be the beginning of new trials; for I was resolved to suffer death rather than to marry him.  5
  The chariot had not many minutes got into the great road again, over the like rough and sometimes plashy ground, when it stopped on a dispute between the coachman and the coachman of another chariot-and-six, as it proved. Sir Hargrave looked out of his chariot to see the occasion of this stop; and then I found means to disengage one hand. I heard a gentleman’s voice directing his own coachman to give way. I then pushed up the handkerchief with my disengaged hand from my mouth, and pulled it down from over my eyes, and cried out for help—“Help, for God’s sake!”  6
  A man’s voice (it was my deliverer’s, as it happily proved) bid Sir Hargrave’s coachman proceed at his peril. Sir Hargrave, with terrible oaths and curses, ordered him to proceed, and to drive through all opposition.  7
  The gentleman called Sir Hargrave by his name, and charged him with being upon a bad design. The vile wretch said he had only secured a runaway wife, eloped to, and intending to elope from, a masquerade, to her adulterer: [horrid!] He put aside the cloak, and appealed to my dress. The gentleman would not be satisfied with Sir Hargrave’s story. He would speak to me, and asked me, with an air that promised deliverance, if I were Sir Hargrave’s wife?  8
  “No, no, no, no!” I could only say.  9
  For my own part, I could have no scruple, distressed as I was, and made desperate, to throw myself into the protection, and even into the arms, of my deliverer, though a very fine young gentleman. But you may better conceive than I can express the terror I was in when Sir Hargrave drew his sword and pushed at the gentleman, with such words as denoted (for I could not look that way) he had done him mischief. But when I found my oppressor pulled out of the chariot by the brave, the gallant man (which was done with such force as made the chariot rock), and my protector safe, I was as near fainting with joy as before I had been with terror. I had shaken off the cloak, and untied the handkerchief. He carried me in his arms (I could not walk) to his own chariot. I heard Sir Hargrave curse, swear, and threaten. I was glad, however, he was not dead.  10
  “Mind him not, madam—fear him not!” said Sir Charles Grandison. [You know his noble name, my Lucy.] “Coachman, drive not over your master: take care of your master!” or some such words he said, as he lifted me into his own chariot. He just surveyed, as it were, the spot, and bid a servant let Sir Hargrave know who he was; and then came back to me. He ordered his coachman to drive back to Colnebrook. In accents of kindness he told me that he had there at present the most virtuous and prudent of sisters, to whose care he would commit me, and then proceed on his journey to town.  11
  How irresistibly welcome to me was his supporting arm, thrown round me, as we flew back, compared to that of the vile Sir Hargrave! Mr. Reeves has given you an account from the angelic sister. O my Lucy, they are a pair of angels! I have written a long, long letter, or rather five letters in one, of my distresses, of my deliverance; and when my heart is stronger I will say more of the persons, as well as minds, of this excellent brother and sister….  12
  Just now I have received a congratulatory packet of letters.  13
  And so you expect the particular character and description of the persons of this more than amiable brother and sister? Need you to have told me that you do? And could you think that after having wasted so many quires of paper in giving you the characters of people, many of whom deserved not to be drawn out from the common crowd of mortals, I would forbear to give you those of persons who adorn the age in which they live, and even human nature?  14
  You don’t question, you say, if I begin in their praises, but my gratitude will make me write in a sublime style; and are ready, you promise me, to take, with allowance, all the fine things from me which Mr. Reeves has already taught you to expect.  15
  Which shall I begin with? You will have a sharp lookout upon me, you say. Ah, my Lucy! I know what you mean. And so, if I begin with the character of the brother, then you will join with my uncle, shake your head, and cry, “Ah, my Harriet!” If I begin with the sister, will you not say that I save my choicest subject for the last? How difficult is it to avoid censure, when there is a resolution taken to be censorious!  16
  Miss Grandison—Yes, my volant, my self-conducted quill, begin with the sister, say my Lucy what she pleases:—  17
  Miss Grandison is about twenty-four; of a fine stature. She has dignity in her aspect, and a very penetrating black eye, with which she does what she pleases. Her hair is black, very fine, and naturally curls. She is not fair; but her complexion is delicate and clear, and promises a long duration to her loveliness. Her features are generally regular; her nose is a little aquiline; but that is so far from being a blemish, that it gives a kind of majesty to her other features. Her teeth are white and even, her mouth is perfectly lovely, and a modest archness appears in her smiles that makes one both love and fear her, when she begins to speak. She is finely shaped; and in her air and whole appearance, perfectly genteel.  18
  She has charming spirits. I daresay she sings well, from the airs she now and then warbles in the gayety of her heart. She is very polite; yet has a vein of raillery, that were she not polite, would give one too much apprehension for one’s ease: but I am sure she is frank, easy, and good-humored. She says she has but lately taken a very great liking to reading. She pretends that she was too volatile, too gay, too airy, to be confined to sedentary amusements. Her father, however, according to the genteelest and most laudable modern education for women, had given her a master who taught her history and geography, in both which she acknowledges she made some progress. In music she owns she has skill: but I am told by her maid, who attended me by her young lady’s direction, and who delights to praise her mistress, that she reads and speaks French and Italian; that she writes finely; and is greatly admired for her wit, prudence, and obligingness. “Nobody,” said Jenny (who is a sensible young woman, a clergyman’s daughter, well educated, and very obliging), “can stand against her good-natured raillery.” Her brother, she says, is not spared; but he takes delight in her vivacity, and gives way to it, when it is easy to see that he could take her down if he pleased. “And then,” added this good young woman, “she is an excellent manager in a family, finely as she is educated. She knows everything, and how to direct what should be done, from the private family dinner to a sumptuous entertainment; and every day inspects, and approves or alters, the bill of fare.” By the way, my Lucy, she is an early riser—do you mind that?—and so can do everything with ease, pleasure, and without hurry and confusion; for all her servants are early risers of course.  19
  Yet this fine lady loves to go to the public places; and often goes, and makes a brilliant figure there. She has time for them, and earns her pleasures by her early rising. Miss Grandison, Jenny tells me, has two humble servants: [I wonder she has not two-and-twenty!] one is Sir Walter Watkins, a man of a large estate in Somersetshire; the other is Lord G., son of the Earl of G.: but neither of them highly approved by her; yet, Jenny says, they are both of them handsome men, and admired by the ladies. This makes me afraid that they are modern men, and pay their court by the exterior appearance, rather than by interior worth. Who, my Lucy, that has heard what my late grandfather has said, and my grandmamma still says, of the men in their youthful days, will not say that we have our lots cast in an age of petit maîtres and insignificants? Such an amiable woman is Miss Charlotte Grandison.—May I be found, on further acquaintance, but half as lovely in her eyes as she is in mine!  20
  But now for her brother—my deliverer!  21
  Sir Charles Grandison, in his person, is really a very fine man. He is tall, rather slender than full; his face, in shape, is a fine oval; he seems to have florid health—health confirmed by exercise. His complexion seems to have been naturally too fine for a man: but as if he were above being regardful of it, his face is overspread with a manly sunniness [I want a word], that shows he has been in warmer climates than England; and so it seems he has, since the tour of Europe has not contented him. He has visited some parts of Asia, and even of Africa, Egypt particularly.  22
  I wonder what business a man has for such fine teeth and for so fine a mouth as Sir Charles Grandison might boast of, were he vain.  23
  In his aspect there is something great and noble, that shows him to be of rank. Were kings to be chosen for beauty and majesty of person, Sir Charles Grandison would have few competitors. His eye—indeed, my Lucy, his eye shows, if possible, more of sparkling intelligence than that of his sister.  24
  Now pray be quiet, my dear Uncle Selby! What is beauty in a man to me? You all know that I never thought beauty a qualification in a man. And yet, this grandeur in his person and air is accompanied with so much ease and freedom of manners, as engages one’s love with one’s reverence. His good breeding renders him very accessible. In a word, he has such an easy yet manly politeness, as well in his dress as in his address, that were he not a fine figure of a man, but were even plain and hard-featured, he would be thought very agreeable.  25
  Sir Charles Grandison, my dear, has traveled, we may say, to some purpose. Well might his sister tell Mr. Reeves that whenever he married he would break half a score hearts.  26
  The good sense of this real fine gentleman is not, as I can find, rusted over by sourness, by moroseness: he is above quarreling with the world for trifles; but he is still more above making such compliances with it as would impeach either his honor or conscience. Once Miss Grandison, speaking of her brother, said: “My brother is valued by those who know him best, not so much for being a handsome man, not so much for his birth and fortune, nor for this or that single worthiness, as for being, in the great and yet comprehensive sense of the word, a good man.” And at another time she said that he lived to himself, and to his own heart; and though he had the happiness to please everybody, yet he made the judgment or approbation of the world, matter but of second consideration. “In a word,” added she, “Sir Charles Grandison, my brother” (and when she looks proud, it is when she says my brother), “is not to be misled either by false glory or false shame, which he calls the great snares of virtue.”  27
  But let me tell you, my dear, that Sir Charles does not look to be so great a self-denier as his sister seems to think him when she says he lives to himself, and to his own heart, rather than to the opinion of the world. He dresses to the fashion; rather richly, ’tis true, than gaudily, but still richly: so that he gives his fine person its full consideration. He has a great deal of vivacity in his whole aspect, as well as in his eye. Mrs. Jenny says that he is a great admirer of handsome women. His equipage is perfectly in taste, though not so much to the glare of taste, as if he aimed either to inspire or show emulation. He seldom travels without a set, and suitable attendants; and (what I think seems a little to savor of singularity) his horses are not docked; their tails are only tied up when they are on the road. This I took notice of when we came to town. But if he be of opinion that the tails of these noble animals are not only a natural ornament, but are of real use to defend them from the vexatious insects that in summer are so apt to annoy them (as Jenny just now told me was thought to be his reason for not depriving his cattle of a defense which nature gave them), how far from a dispraise is this humane consideration! And how, in the more minute as well as (we may suppose) in the greater instances, does he deserve the character of the man of mercy, who will be merciful to his beast!  28
  Do you wonder, Lucy, that I cannot hold up my head, when I recollect the figure I must make in that odious masquerade habit, hanging by my clasping arms about the neck of such a gentleman? Can I be more effectually humbled than by such a recollection? Surely, surely, I have had my punishment for my compliances with this foolish world.  29
  But now, I think, something offers of blame in the character of this almost faultless man, as his sister and her Jenny represent him to be. I cannot think, from a hint given by Miss Grandison, that he is quite so frank and so unreserved as his sister is. “As for my brother,” said she, “he winds one about and about, yet seems not to have more curiosity than one would wish him to have. Led on by his smiling benignity, and fond of his attention to my prattle, I have caught myself in the midst of a tale of which I intended not to tell him one syllable. ‘O Sir Charles! where am I got?’ have I said, and suddenly stopped.—‘Proceed, my Charlotte! No reserves to your nearest friend.’ Yet he has his; and I have winded and winded about him, as he has done about me, but all to no purpose.”  30
  Now this reserve to such a sister, and in points that she thinks it imports her to know, is what I do not like in Sir Charles.  31
  His sister, who cannot think he has one fault, excuses him, and says that her brother has no other view in drawing her on to reveal her own heart but the better to know how to serve and oblige her. But then, might not the same thing be said in behalf of the curiosity of so generous a sister?  32
  Sir Charles has seen more of the world, it may be said, than his sister has: he has traveled. But is not human nature the same in every country, allowing for only different customs? Do not love, hatred, anger, malice,—all the passions in short, good or bad,—show themselves by like effects in the faces, hearts, and actions of the people of every country? And let men make ever such strong pretensions to knowledge from their far-fetched and dear-bought experience, cannot a penetrating spirit learn as much from the passion of a Sir Hargrave Pollexfen in England, as it could from a man of the same or the like ill qualities in Spain, in France, or in Italy?  33
  If I am allowed to be so happy as to cultivate this desirable acquaintance, then will I closely watch every step of this excellent man, in hope, however, to find him as perfect as report declares him, that I may fearlessly make him my theme, as I shall delight to make his sister my example. And if I were to find any considerable faults in him, never fear, my dear, but my gratitude will enlarge my charity in his favor. But I shall, at the same time, arm my heart with those remembered failings, lest my gratitude should endanger it, and make me a hopeless fool.  34
  I have not said one half of what I intended to say of this extraordinary man. But having imagined, from the equal love I have to his admirable sister, that I had found something to blame him for, my impartiality has carried me out of my path; and I know not how to recover it, without going a great way back. Let, therefore, what I have further to say mingle in with my future narratives, as new occasions call it forth. But yet I will not suffer any other subject to interfere with that which fills my heart with the praises, the due praises, of this worthy brother and sister, to which I intended to consecrate this rambling and very imperfect letter; and which here I will conclude, with assurances of duty, love, and gratitude, where so much is due from your
HARRIET BYRON.    
  35
 
 
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