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- Cecilia vol. 3 - 64/64 -


affair.

They continued abroad some months, and the health of Mrs Delvile was tolerably re-established. They were then summoned home by the death of Lord Delvile, who bequeathed to his nephew Mortimer his town house, and whatever of his estate was not annexed to his title, which necessarily devolved to his brother.

The sister of Mrs Delvile, a woman of high spirit and strong passions, lived not long after him; but having, in her latter days, intimately connected herself with Cecilia, she was so much charmed with her character, and so much dazzled by her admiration of the extraordinary sacrifice she had made, that, in a fit of sudden enthusiasm, she altered her will, to leave to her, and to her sole disposal, the fortune which, almost from his infancy, she had destined for her nephew. Cecilia, astonished and penetrated, opposed the alteration; but even her sister, now Lady Delvile, to whom she daily became dearer, earnestly supported it; while Mortimer, delighted to restore to her through his own family, any part of that power and independence of which her generous and pure regard for himself had deprived her, was absolute in refusing that the deed should be revoked.

Cecilia, from this flattering transaction, received a further conviction of the malignant falsehood of Mr Monckton, who had always represented to her the whole of the Delvile family as equally poor in their circumstances, and illiberal in their minds. The strong spirit of active benevolence which had ever marked her character, was now again displayed, though no longer, as hitherto, unbounded. She had learnt the error of profusion, even in charity and beneficence; and she had a motive for oeconomy, in her animated affection for Mortimer.

She soon sent for Albany, whose surprise that she still existed, and whose rapture at her recovered prosperity, now threatened his senses from the tumult of his joy, with nearly the same danger they had lately been menaced by terror. But though her donations were circumscribed by prudence, and their objects were selected with discrimination, she gave to herself all her former benevolent pleasure, in solacing his afflictions, while she softened his asperity, by restoring to him his favourite office of being her almoner and monitor.

She next sent to her own pensioners, relieved those distresses which her sudden absence had occasioned, and renewed and continued the salaries she had allowed them. All who had nourished reasonable expectations from her bounty she remembered, though she raised no new claimants but with oeconomy and circumspection. But neither Albany nor the old pensioners felt the satisfaction of Mortimer, who saw with new wonder the virtues of her mind, and whose admiration of her excellencies, made his gratitude perpetual for the happiness of his lot.

The tender-hearted Henrietta, in returning to her new friends, gave way, with artless openness, to the violence of untamed grief; but finding Mr Arnott as wretched as herself, the sympathy Cecilia had foreseen soon endeared them to each other, while the little interest taken in either by Mrs Harrel, made them almost inseparable companions.

Mrs Harrel, wearied by their melancholy, and sick of retirement, took the earliest opportunity that was offered her of changing her situation; she married very soon a man of fortune in the neighbourhood, and, quickly forgetting all the past, thoughtlessly began the world again, with new hopes, new connections,--new equipages and new engagements!

Henrietta was then obliged to go again to her mother, where, though deprived of all the indulgencies to which she was now become familiar, she was not more hurt by the separation than Mr Arnott. So sad and so solitary his house seemed in her absence, that he soon followed her to town, and returned not till he carried her back its mistress. And there the gentle gratitude of her soft and feeling heart, engaged from the worthy Mr Arnott the tenderest affection, and, in time, healed the wound of his early and hopeless passion.

The injudicious, the volatile, yet noble-minded Belfield, to whose mutable and enterprising disposition life seemed always rather beginning than progressive, roved from employment to employment, and from public life to retirement, soured with the world, and discontented with himself, till vanquished, at length, by the constant friendship of Delvile, he consented to accept his good offices in again entering the army; and, being fortunately ordered out upon foreign service, his hopes were revived by ambition, and his prospects were brightened by a view of future honour.

The wretched Monckton, dupe of his own cunning and artifices, still lived in lingering misery, doubtful which was most acute, the pain of his wound and confinement, or of his defeat and disappointment. Led on by a vain belief that he had parts to conquer all difficulties, he had indulged without restraint a passion in which interest was seconded by inclination. Allured by such fascinating powers, he shortly suffered nothing to stop his course; and though when he began his career he would have started at the mention of actual dishonour, long before it was concluded, neither treachery nor perjury were regarded by him as stumbling blocks.

All fear of failing was lost in vanity, all sense of probity was sunk in interest, all scruples of conscience were left behind by the heat of the chace. Yet the unforeseen and melancholy catastrophe of his long arts, illustrated in his despite what his principles had obscured, that even in worldly pursuits where fraud out-runs integrity, failure joins dishonour to loss, and disappointment excites triumph instead of pity.

The upright mind of Cecilia, her purity, her virtue, and the moderation of her wishes, gave to her in the warm affection of Lady Delvile, and the unremitting fondness of Mortimer, all the happiness human life seems capable of receiving:--yet human it was, and as such imperfect! she knew that, at times, the whole family must murmur at her loss of fortune, and at times she murmured herself to be thus portionless, tho' an HEIRESS. Rationally, however, she surveyed the world at large, and finding that of the few who had any happiness, there were none without some misery, she checked the rising sigh of repining mortality, and, grateful with general felicity, bore partial evil with chearfullest resignation.


Cecilia vol. 3 - 64/64

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