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LETTER VII.

CAROLINE TO LORD VS, WRITTEN A FEW MONTHS AFTER

THE DATE OF THE PRECEDING LETTER.

MY LORD, Though I am too sensible that all connexion between my unfortunate friend and her family must for some time have been dissolved, I venture now to address myself to your lordship.

On Wednesday last, about half after six o'clock in the evening, the following note was brought to me. It had been written with such a trembling hand that it was scarcely legible; but I knew the writing too well.

“ If you ever loved me, Caroline, read this-do not tear it the moment you see the name of Julia—she has suffered she is humbled. I left France with the hope of seeing you once more—but now I am so near you my courage fails, and my heart sinks within me—I have no friend upon earth–I deserve none-yet I cannot help wishing to see once more before 1.die the friend of my youth, to thank her with my last breath.

But, dear Caroline, if I must not see you, write to me, if possible, one line of consolation.

“ Tell me, is my father living—do you know any thing of my children ?-I dare not ask for my husband-adieu -I am so weak that I can scarcely write- I hope I shall soon be no more-Farewell !

JULIA."

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I immediately determined to follow the bearer of this letter.- Julia was waiting for my answer at a small inn, in a neighbouring village at a few miles distance.— It was night when I got there—every thing was silent--all the houses were shut up, excepting one, in which we saw two or three lights glimmering through the window ;—this was the inn: as your lordship may imagine, it was a very miserable place the mistress of the house seemed to be touched with pity for the stranger-she opened the door of a small room, where she said the poor lady was resting, and retired as I entered.

Upon a low matted seat beside the fire, sat lady V- ; she was in black; her knees were crossed, and her white, but emaciated arms flung on one side over her lap, her hands were clasped together, and her eyes fixed upon the fire ; she

seemed neither to hear or see any thing around her, but totally absorbed in her own reflections, to have sunk into insensibility. I dreaded to rouse her from this state of torpor; and I believe I stood for some moments motionless :-at last I moved softly towards her--she turned her head-started up -a scarlet blush overspread her face—she grew livid again instantly, gave a faint shriek, and sunk senseless into my

arms.

When she returned to herself, and found her head lying upon my shoulder, and heard my voice soothing her, with all the expressions of kindness I could think of, she smiled with a look of gratitude, which I never shall forget—like one who had been long unused to kindness, she seemed ready to pour forth all the fondness of her heart :- but as if recollecting herself better, she immediately checked her feelings-withdrew her hand from mine—thanked me—said she was quite well again-cast down her eyes, and her manner changed from tenderness to timidity. She seemed to think that she had lost all right to sympathy, and received even the common offices of humanity with surprise—her high spirit I saw was quite broken.

I think I never felt such sorrow, as I did in contemplating Julia at this instant :—she who stood before me sinking under the sense of inferiority, I knew to be my equal—my superior

- yet by fatal imprudence, by one rash step, all her great, and good, and amiable qualities, were irretrievably lost to the world and to herself.

When I thought that she was a little recovered, I begged of her, if she was not too much fatigued, to let me carry her home; at these words she looked at me with surprise. Her eyes filled with tears, but without making any other reply, she suffered me to draw her arm within mine, and attempted to follow me. I did not know how feeble she was, till she began to walk; it was with the utmost difficulty I supported her to the door; and by the assistance of the people of the house she was lifted into the carriage :-we went very slowly-when the carriage stopped she was seized with an universal tremor-she started when the man knocked at the door, and seemed to dread its being opened. The appearance of light, and the sound of cheerful voices struck her with horror.

I could not myself help being shocked with the contrast between the dreadful situation of my friend and the happiness of the family to which I was returning.

Oh! said she, what are these voices ?—Whither are you taking me ?-For heaven's sake do not let any body see me! -I assured her that she should go directly to her own apartment, and that no human being should approach her without her express permission.

Alas! it happened at this very moment that all my children came running with the utmost gaiety into the hall to meet us, and the very circumstance which I had been so anxious to prevent happened--little Julia was amongst them. The gaiety of the children suddenly ceased the moment they saw lady — coming up the steps—they were struck with her melancholy air, and countenance :-she, leaning upon my arm, with her eyes fixed upon the ground, let me lead her in, and sunk

upon

the first chair she came to. I made a sign to the children to retire, but the moment they began to move, lady V- looked up-saw her daughter--and now for the first time burst into tears. The little girl did not recollect her poor mother, till she heard the sound of her voice, and then she threw her arms round her neck, crying, “Is it you, mamma ?”—and all the children immediately crowded round and asked, “ if this was the same lady V- who used to play with them ??

It is impossible to describe the effect these simple questions had on Julia :-a variety of emotions seemed struggling in her countenance ; she rose and made an attempt to break from the children, but could not-she had not strength to support herself. We carried her away and put her to bed; she took no notice of any body, nor did she even seem to know that I was with her; I thought she was insensible, but as I drew the curtains I heard her give a deep sigh.

I left her and carried away her little girl, who had followed us up stairs and begged to stay with her mother, but I was apprehensive that the sight of her, might renew her agitation.

After I was gone they told me that she was perfectly still, with her eyes closed, and I stayed away some time, in hopes that she might sleep; however, about midnight she sent to beg to speak to me; she was very ill-she beckoned to me to sit down by her bed-side-every one left the room, and when Julia saw herself alone with me she took my hand, and in a low but calm voice, she said " I have not many hours to live -my heart is broken-I wished to see you, to thank you whilst it was yet in my power.” She pressed my hand to her trembling lips-“Your kindness," added she, "touches me more than all the rest—but how ashamed you must be of such a friend.-Oh Caroline! to die a disgrace to all who ever loved me !"

The tears trickled down her face and choaked her utterance,—she wiped them away hastily :-“ But it is not now a time," said she, “ to think of myself-can I see my daughter ?” The little girl was asleep-she was awakened, and I brought her to her mother.---Julia raised herself in her bed, and summoning up all her strength-“My dearest friend!” said she, putting her child's hand into mine," when I am gone, be a mother to this child- let her know my whole history, let nothing be concealed from her : Poor girl, you will live to blush at your mother's name. She paused and leaned back-I was going to take the child away, but she held out her arms again for her, and kissed her several times.“Farewell !" said she, “ I shall never see you again.” The little girl burst into tears— Julia wished to say something more-she raised herself again—at last she uttered these words with energy—“My love-be good and happy," she then sunk down on the pillow quite exhausted-she never spoke afterwards—I took her hand—it was cold-her pulse scarcely beat-her eyes rolled without meaning—in a few moments she expired.

Painful as it has been to me to recall the circumstances of her death to my imagination, I have given your lordship this exact and detailed account of my unfortunate friend's behaviour in her last moments.—Whatever may have been her errors, her soul never became callous from vice. The sense of her own ill conduct was undoubtedly the immediate cause of her illness, and the remorse which had long preyed upon her mind, at length brought her to the grave

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I have the honour to be, my Lord, &c.

CAROLINE.

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AN

ESSAY

ON THE NOBLE SCIENCE OF

SELF-JUSTIFICATION.

“For which an eloquence that aims to dex,
With native tropes of anger arms the sex.”

PARNEL.

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ENDOWED, as the fair sex indisputably are, with a natural genius for the invaluable art of Self-Justification, it may not be displeasing to them to see its rising perfection evinced by an attempt to reduce it to a science. Possessed, as are all the fair daughters of Eve, of an hereditary propensity, transmitted to them undiminished through succeeding generations, to

Soon moved with slightest touch of blame;" very little precept and practice will confirm them in the habit, and instruct them in all the maxims of Self-justification.

Candid pupil, you will readily accede to my first and fundamental axiom- -That a lady can do no wrong.

But simple as this maxim may appear, and suited to the level of the meanest capacity, the talent of applying it on all the important, but more especially on all the most trivial, occurrences of domestic life, so as to secure private peace and public dominion, has hitherto been monopolized by the female adepts in the art of self-justification.

Excuse me for insinuating by this expression, that there may yet be amongst you some novices. To these, if any such, I principally address myself.

And now, lest fired with ambition you lose all by aiming at too much, let me explain and limit my first principle, " That

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