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126

Sir John Falstaff.

of my joy, if you make me happy I will raise to you statues and pyramids. To-morrow I will call for your AUGUSTE."

answer.

The widow laughed heartily at what she took for a witty joke, and showed the letter to all her customers. The other day Auguste R. entered the establishment, and was immediately a mark for a shower of compliments on the originality of his letter. Fixing a strange gaze upon his friend, he exclaimed, “You make a jest of my sufferings, of my love!" and, becoming suddenly furious, he abused the widow for her perfidy, and threatened to kill her. The police had to be sent for. The poor sculptor proved to be out of his mind.'

As specimens of love-letters, I may give the two following:

SIR JOHN FALSTAFF TO MISTRESS PAGE.

(Merry Wives of Windsor, Act ii. Sc. 1.)

Ask me no reason why I love you; for though Love use Reason for his physician, he admits him not for his counsellor. You are not young, no more am I; go to then, there's sympathy: you are merry, so am I-ha, ha! then there's more sympathy: you love sack, and so do I; would you desire better sympathy? Let it suffice thee, Mistress Page, at the least, if the love of a soldier can suffice, that I love thee. I will not say, pity me; 'tis not a soldierlike phrase; but I say, love me. By me,

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SYLVANDER,-I fancy you and Vulcan are intimates. He has lent you a key which opens Clarinda's heart at pleasure, shows you what is there, and enables you to adapt yourself to every feeling. I believe I shall give over writing to you. Your letters are too much! My way, alas! is hedged in; but had I, like Sylvander, 'the world before me,' I should bid him, if he had a friend that loved me, tell him to write as he does, and ‘that would woo me.' Seriously, you are the first letter-writer I ever knew.

Either to-morrow or Friday I shall be happy to see you. On Saturday I am not sure of being alone, or at home. Say which you'll come. Come to tea if you choose; but eight will be an hour less liable to intrusions. You are a consummate flatterer; really my cheeks glow while I read your flights of fancy. I think you see I like it. If I grow affected or conceited, you alone are to blame. Sylvander, some most interesting parts of yours I cannot enter upon at present. I dare not think on the parting on the interval; but I am sure both are ordered for our good.

'Lasting impressions!' Your key might have shown you better. Say, my lover-poet and my friend, what day next month the eternity will end. When you use your key, don't rummage too much, lest you find I am half as

128

Miss Carpenter's Letters

great a fool in the 'tender' as yourself. Farewell! Sylvander. I may sign, for I am already sealed, your friend, CLARINDA.

From Miss Carpenter's letters to Sir Walter Scott, a few weeks before their marriage in December 1797, it is pleasant to find that a sensible woman can express the intensity of her affection, even at such an interesting period, without indulging in the ludicrous excesses of unnatural sentimentalism. Thus, on the 25th of October, she writes from Carlisle as follows:

Indeed, Mr. Scott, I am by no means pleased with all this writing. I have told you how much I dislike it, and yet you still persist in asking me to write, and that by return of post. O, you really are quite out of your senses. I should not have indulged you in that whim of yours, had you not given me that hint that my silence gives an air of mystery. I have no reason that can detain me in acquainting you that my father and mother were French, of the name Charpentier; he had a place under Government; their residence was at Lyons, where you would find on inquiries that they lived in good repute, and in very good style. I had the misfortune of losing my father before I could know the value of such a parent. At his death we were left to the care of Lord Downshire, who was his very great friend; and very soon after, I had the affliction of losing my mother. Our taking the name of Carpenter was on my brother's going to India, to prevent any little difficulties that might have occurred. I hope now you are pleased. Lord D. could have given you every information, as he has been ac

to Sir Walter Scott.

129

quainted with all my family. You say you almost love him; but until your almost comes to a quite, I cannot love you. Before I conclude this famous epistle, I will give you a little hint—that is, not to put so many musts in your letters; it is beginning rather too soon; and another thing is, that I take the liberty not to mind them much, but I expect you mind me. You must take care of yourself; you must think of me, and believe me, yours sincerely, C. C.

Again, the following day :

I have only a minute before the post goes, to assure you, my dear sir, of the welcome reception of the stranger. The very great likeness to a friend of mine will endear him to me; he shall be my constant companion, but I wish he could give me an answer to a thousand questions I have to make—one in particular, What reason have you for so many fears you express? Have your friends changed? Pray let me know the truth-they perhaps don't like me being French. write immediately-let it be in better spirits. Et croyezmoi toujours votre sincère

C. C.

Do

A few weeks later-about a fortnight before the happy day—she thus expatiates :--

If I could but really believe that my letter gave you only half the pleasure you express, I should almost think, my dearest Scott, that I should get very fond of writing merely for the pleasure to indulge you-that is saying a great deal. I hope you are sensible of the compliment I pay you; I don't expect I shall always be so pretty behaved. You may depend on me, my dearest

1 A miniature of Scott.

I

130

An Undecided Admirer.

friend, for fixing as early a day as I possibly can; and if it happens to be not quite so soon as you wish, you must not be angry with me. It is very unlucky you are such a bad housekeeper, as I am no better. I shall try. I hope to have very soon the pleasure of seeing you, and to tell you how much I love you; but I wish the first fortnight was over. With all my love, and those sort of pretty things, adieu ! CHARLOTTE. P.S.-Etudiez votre Français. Remember you are to teach me Italian in return, but I shall be but a stupid scholar. Aimez Charlotte.

In Southey's Life of the Rev. Dr. Andrew Bell, author of the Madras System of Education, there are no fewer than three short letters to the learned divine, from an undecided admirer, all written on the same day, which may be given in order to dispel the popular belief that, in matters of the heart, inconstancy is confined to the male

sex:

NO. I.

February 27, 1793.

DEAR SIR, I have a favour to ask you—If you would accompany me so far as Conjeveram at any time it is your leisure, and there I shall beg of you to perform a solemn ceremony. It is a serious one, indeed. What do you say? Yes or no is to marry me.-Yours obediently.

NO. II.

February 27, 1793.

DEAR SIR,-Upon reflection, I have changed my mind as to what I have wrote you. I beg you will not mention anything about it.—Yours truly.

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