Fanny Burney, Evelina : Vol. 3, Ch. 14

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Here I believe I spent an hour by myself; when, hearing the garden-gate open, I went into an arbour at the end of a long walk, where, ruminating, very unpleasantly, upon my future prospects, I remained quietly seated but a few minutes, before I was interrupted by the appearance of Sir Clement Willoughby.

I started; and would have left the arbour, but he prevented me. Indeed, I am almost certain he had heard in the house where I was, as it is not, otherwise, probable he would have strolled down the garden alone.

"Stop, stop," cried he, "loveliest and most beloved of women, stop and hear me!"

Then, making me keep my place, he sat down by me, and would have taken my hand; but I drew it back, and said I could not stay.

"Can you, then," cried he, "refuse me the smallest gratification, though, but yesterday, I almost suffered martyrdom for the pleasure of seeing you?"

"Martyrdom! Sir Clement."

"Yes, beauteous insensible! martyrdom: for did I not compel myself to be immured in a carriage, the tedious length of a whole morning, with the three most fatiguing women in England?"

"Upon my word, the ladies are extremely obliged to you."

"Oh," returned he, "they have, every one of them, so copious a share of their own personal esteem, that they have no right to repine at the failure of it in the world; and, indeed, they will themselves be the last to discover it."

"How little," cried I, "are those ladies aware of such severity from you!"

"They are guarded," answered he, "so happily and so securely by their own conceit, that they are not aware of it from any body. Oh, Miss Anville, to be torn away from you, in order to be shut up with them,-is there a human being, except your cruel self, could forbear to pity me?"

"I believe, Sir Clement, however hardly you may choose to judge of them, your situation, by the world in general, would rather have been envied than pitied."

"The world in general," answered he, "has the same opinion of them that I have myself: Mrs. Beaumont is every where laughed at, Lady Louisa ridiculed, and Mrs. Selwyn hated."

"Good God, Sir Clement, what cruel strength of words do you use!"

"It is you, my angel, are to blame, since your perfections have rendered their faults so glaring. I protest to you, during our whole ride, I thought the carriage drawn by snails. The absurd pride of Mrs. Beaumont, and the respect she exacts, are at once insufferable and stupifying; had I never before been in her company, I should have concluded that this had been her first airing from the herald's officew,-and wished her nothing worse, than that it might also be the last. I assure you, that but for gaining the freedom of her house, I would fly her as I would plague, pestilence, and famine. Mrs. Selwyn, indeed, afforded some relief from this formality, but the unbounded license of her tongue-"

"O, Sir Clement, do you object to that?"

"Yes, my sweet reproacher, in a woman I do; in a woman I think it intolerable. She has wit, I acknowledge, and more understanding than half her sex put together; but she keeps alive a perpetual expectation of satire, that spreads a general uneasiness among all who are in her presence; and she talks so much, that even the best things she says weary the attention. As to the little Louisa, 'tis such a pretty piece of languor, that 'tis almost cruel to speak rationally about her,-else I should say, she is a mere compound of affectation, impertinence, and airs."

X [w] herald's office

The Herald's College or College of Arms, the royal office that oversaw rights according to lineage such as titles and coats of arms.  Lady Beaumont acts like someone newly informed that she has been granted a title.