Fanny Burney, Evelina : Vol. 1, Ch. 25

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Letter XXV

EVELINA TO THE REV. MR. VILLARS Howard Grove, April 25.

NO, my dear Sir, no: the work of seventeen years remains such as it was, ever unworthy your time and your labour; but not more so now-at least I hope not,-than before that fortnight which has so much alarmed you.

And yet I must confess, that I am not half so happy here at present as I was ere I went to town: but the change is in the place, not in me. Captain Mirvan and Madame Duval have ruined Howard Grove. The harmony that reigned here is disturbed, our schemes are broken, our way of life is altered, and our comfort is destroyed. But do not suppose London to be the source of these evils; for, had our excursion been any where else, so disagreeable an addition to our household must have caused the same change at our return.

I was sure you would be displeased with Sir Clement Willoughby, and therefore I am by no means surprised at what you say of him; but for Lord Orville-I must own I had greatly feared that my weak and imperfect account would not have procured him the good opinion which he so well deserves, and which I am delighted to find you seem to have of him. O, Sir, could I have done justice to the merit of which I believe him posessed;-could I have painted him to you such as he appeared to me;-then, indeed, you would have had some idea of the claim which he has to your approbation!

After the last letter which I wrote in town, nothing more passed previous to our journey hither, except a very violent quarrel between Captain Mirvan and Madame Duval. As the Captain intended to travel on horseback, he had settled that we four females should make use of his coach. Madame Duval did not come to Queen Ann Street till the carriage had waited some time at the door; and then, attended by Monsieur Du Bois, she made her appearance.

The Captain, impatient to be gone, would not suffer them to enter the house, but insisted that we should immediately get into the coach. We obeyed; but were no sooner seated, than Madame Duval said, "Come, Monsieur Du Bois, these girls can make very good room for you; sit closer, children."

Mrs. Mirvan looked quite confounded; and M. Du Bois, after making some apologies about crowding us, actually got into the coach, on the side with Miss Mirvan and me. But no sooner was he seated, than the Captain, who had observed this transaction very quietly, walked up to the coach door, saying, "What, neither with your leave, nor by your leave?"

M. Du Bois seemed rather shocked, and began to make abundance of excuses: but the Captain neither understood nor regarded him, and, very roughly, said, "Look'ee, Monseer, this here may be a French fashion for aught I know,-but give and take is fair in all nations; and so now, d'ye see, I'll make bold to show you an English one."

And then, seizing his wrist, he made him jump out of the coach.

M. Du Bois instantly put his hand upon his sword, and threatened to resent this indignity. The Captain, holding up his stick, bid him draw at his peril. Mrs. Mirvan, greatly alarmed, got out of the coach, and, standing between them, intreated her husband to re-enter the house.

 "None of your clackw!" cried he angrily; "what the D-l, do you
 suppose I
can't manage a Frenchman?"

 Meantime, Madame Duval called out to M. Du Bois, "Eh, laissez-le,
 mon ami, ne
le corrigez pas; c'est une villaine bete qui n'en vaut pas la peine."

"Monsieur le Capitaine," cried M. Du Bois, "voulez-vous bien ne demander pardon?"

 "O ho, you demand pardon, do you?" said the Captain," I thought as
 much; I
thought you'd come to;-so you have lost your relish for an English
salutation, have you?" strutting up to him with looks of defiance.

 A crowd was now gathering, and Mrs. Mirvan again besought her husband
 to go
into the house.

 "Why, what a plague is the woman afraid of?-Did you ever know
 a Frenchman
that could not take an affront?-I warrant Monseer knows what he is
about;-don't you Monseer?"

X [w] clack

"chatter." OED