Fanny Burney, Evelina : Vol. 2, Ch. 20

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Letter XX.


I HAVE just received a most affecting letter from Mr. Macartney. I
will inclose it, my dear Sir, for your perusal. More than ever have
I cause to rejoice that I was able to assist him. Mr. Macartney to
Miss Anville.


IMPRESSED with deepest, the most heartfelt sense of the exalted humanity with which you have rescued from destruction an unhappy stranger, allow me, with humblest gratitude, to offer you my fervent acknowledgments, and to implore your pardon for the terror I have caused you.

You bid me, Madam, live: I have now, indeed, a motive for life, since I should not willingly quit the world, while I withhold from the needy and distressed any share of that charity which a disposition so noble would otherwise bestow upon them.

The benevolence with which you have interested yourself in my affairs, induces me to suppose you would wish to be acquainted with the cause of that desperation from which you snatched me, and the particulars of that misery of which you have so wonderfully been a witness. Yet, as this explanation will require that I should divulge secrets of a nature the most delicate, I must intreat you to regard them as sacred, even though I forbear to mention the names of the parties concerned.

I was brought up in Scotland, though my mother, who had the sole care of me, was an English-woman, and had not one relation in that country. She devoted to me her whole time. The retirement in which we lived, and the distance from our natural friends, she often told me, were the effect of an unconquerable melancholy with which she was seized upon the sudden loss of my father, some time before I was born.

At Aberdeenh, where I finished my education, I formed a friendship with a young man of fortune, which I considered as the chief happiness of my life:-but, when he quitted his studies, I considered it as my chief misfortune; for he immediately prepared, by direction of his friends, to make the tour of Europe. As I was designed for the church, and had no prospect even of maintenance but from my own industry, I scarce dared permit even a wish of accompanying him. It is true, he would joyfully have borne my expenses: but my affection was as free from meanness as his own; and I made a determination the most solemn, never to lessen its dignity by submitting to pecuniary obligations.

We corresponded with great regularity, and the most unbounded confidence, for the space of two years, when he arrived at Lyons in his way home.

He wrote me thence the most pressing invitation to meet him at Paris, where he intended to remain some time. My desire to comply with his request, and shorten our absence, was so earnest, that my mother, too indulgent to control me lent me what assistance was in her power, and, in an ill-fated moment, I set out for that capital.

X [h] Aberdeen


One of four "ancient" universities in Scotland, dating from the 15th-16th centuries.