Fanny Burney, Evelina : Vol. 3, Ch. 22

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Letter XXII.


EVERY wish of my soul is now fulfilled-for the felicity of my Evelina is equal to her worthiness!

Yes, my child, thy happiness is engraved in golden characters upon the tablets of my heart; and their impression is indelible: for, should the rude and deep-searching hand of Misfortune attempt to pluck them from their repository, the fleeting fabric of life would give way; and in tearing from my vitals the nourishment by which they are supported, she would but grasp at a shadow insensible to her touch.

Give thee my consent?-Oh thou joy, comfort, and pride of my life, how cold is that word to express the fervency of my approbation! Yes, I do indeed give thee my consent; and so thankfully, that, with the humblest gratitude to Providence, I would seal it with the remnant of my days.

Hasten then, my love, to bless me with thy presence, and to receive the blessings with which my fond heart overflows!-And oh, my Evelina, hear and assist in one only, humble, but ardent prayer, which yet animates my devotions: That the height of bliss to which thou art rising may not render thee giddy, but that the purity of thy mind may form the brightest splendour of thy prosperity!-and that the weak and aged frame of thy almost idolizing parent, nearly worn out by time, past afflictions, and infirmities, may yet be able to sustain a meeting with all its better part holds dear; and then, that all the wounds which the former severity of fortune inflicted, may be healed and purified by the ultimate consolation of pouring forth my dying words in blessings on my child!-closing these joy-streaming eyes in her presence, and breathing my last faint sighs in her loved arms!

Grieve not, oh child of my care! Grieve not at the inevitable moment! but may thy own end be equally propitious! Oh, may'st thou, when full of days, and full of honour, sink down as gently to rest!-be loved as kindly, watched as tenderly, as thy happy father! And mayest thou, when thy glass is run, be sweetly, but not bitterly, mourned by some remaining darling of thy affections-some yet surviving Evelina! ARTHUR VILLARS.