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MY DEAR ELIZA!
cabin. And the fresh painting will be enough to destroy every nerve about thee. Nothing so pernicious as white lead. Take care of yourself, dear girl; and sleep not in it too soon. It will be enough to give you a stroke of an epilepsy. I hope you will have left the ship; and that my letters may meet, and greet you, as you get out of your postchaise at Deal. When you have got them all, put them, my dear, into some order. The first eight or nine are numbered: but I wrote the rest without that direction to thee; but thou wilt find them out, by the day or hour, which, I hope, I have generally prefixed to them. When they are got together, in chronological order, sew them together under a.cover. I trust they will be a perpetual refuge to thee, from time to time; and that thou wilt (when weary of fools and uninteresting discourse) retire, and converse an hour with them and me.
I have not had power, or the heart, to aim at enlivening any one of them with a single stroke of wit or humour; but they contain something better; and what you will feel more suited to your situation long detail of much advice, truth, and knowledge. I hope, too, you will perceive loose touches of an honest heart in every one of them; which speaks more than the most studied periods; and will give thee more ground of trust and reliance upon Yorick than all that laboured eloquence could supply. Lean then thy whole weight, Eliza, upon them and upon me. “May poverty, distress, anguish, and shame, be my portion, if ever I
give thee reason to repent the knowledge of me!" With this asseveration, made in the presence of a just God, I pray to him, that so it may speed with me, as I deal candidly and honourably with thee! I would not mislead thee, Eliza; I would not injure thee, in the opinion of a single individual, for the richest crown the proudest monarch wears.
Remember, that, while I have life and power, whatever is mine, you may style, and think yours. — Though sorry should I be, if ever my friendship was put to the test thus, for your own delicacy's sake. Money and counters are of equal use in my opinion; they both serve to set up with.
I hope you will answer me this letter; but if thou art debarred by the elements, which hurry thee away, I will write one for thee; and knowing it is such a one as thou wouldest have written, I will regard it as my Eliza's.
Honour, and happiness, and health, and comforts of every kind, sail along with thee, thou most worthy of girls! I will live for thee, and my Lydia be rich, for the dear children of my heart - gain wisdom, gain fame, and happiness, to share with them — with thee — and her, in my old age. Once for all, adieu.
, -- Preserve thy life; steadily pursue the ends we proposed; and let nothing rob thee of those powers Heaven has given thee for thy well-being.
What can I add more, in the agitation of mind I am in, and within five minutes of the last postman's bell, but recommend thee to Heaven, and recommend myself to Heaven with thee, in the same fervent ejaculation, "that we may be happy, and meet again; if not in this world, in the next." Adieu, - I am thine, Eliza, affectionately, and everlastingly, YORICK.
I wish to God, Eliza, it was possible to postpone the voyage to India for another year. For I am firmly persuaded, within my own heart, that thy husband could never limit thee with regard to time.
I fear that Mr. B-- has exaggerated matters. I like not his countenance. It is absolutely killing. Should evil befal thee, what will he not have to answer for? I know not the being that will be deserving of so much pity, or that I shall hate more. He will be an outcast alien In which case I will be a father to thy children, my good girl! therefore take no thought about them.
But, Eliza, if thou art so very ill, still put off all thoughts of returning to India this year.
Write to tell him the truth of your case.
If he is the generous, humane man you describe him to be, he cannot but applaud your conduct. I am credibly informed that his repugnance to your living in England arises only from the dread, which has entered his brain, that thou mayest run him in debt, beyond thy appointments, and that he must discharge them that such a creature should be sacrificed for the paltry consideration of a few hundreds, is too, too hard! 0! my child! that I could, with propriety, indemnify him for every charge, even to the last mite, that thou hast been of to him! With joy would I give him my whole subsistence nay, sequester my livings, and trust the treasures Heaven has furnished my head with for a further subsistence.
You owe much, I allow, to your husband - you owe something to appearances, and the opinion of the
world; but trust me, my dear, you owe much likewise to yourself. Return, therefore, from Deal, if you continue ill. I will prescribe for you, gratis. You are not the first woman, by many, I have done so for, with
I will send for my wife and daughter, and they shall carry you in pursuit of health, to Montpellier, the wells of Bançois, the Spa, or whither thou wilt. Thou shalt direct them, and make parties of pleasure in what corner of the world fancy points out to thee. We shall fish upon the banks of Arno, and lose ourselves in the sweet labyrinths of its vallies. And then thou should'st warble to us, as I have once or twice heard thee, “I'm lost, I'm lost," should find thee again, my Eliza. Of a similar nature to this, was your physician's prescription: “Use gentle exercise, the pure southern air of France, or milder Naples, - with the society of friendly, gentle beings.” Sensible man! He certainly entered into your feelings. He knew the fallacy of medicine to a creature whose ILLNESS HAS ARISEN FROM THE AFFLICTION OF HER MIND. Time only, my dear, I fear you must trust to, and have your reliance on; may it give you the health so enthusiastic a votary to the charming goddess deserves!
I honour you, Eliza, for keeping secret some things, which, if explained, had been a panegyric on yourself. There is a dignity in venerable affliction which will not allow it to appeal to the world for pity or redress. Well have you supported that character, my amiable, philosophic friend! And, indeed, I begin to think you have as many virtues as my uncle Toby's widow. I don't mean to insinuate, hussey, that my opinion is no better founded than his was of Mrs. Wadman: nor do I conceive it possible for any Trim to convince me it
is equally fallacious. I am sure, while I have my reason, it is not. Talking of widows — pray, Eliza, if ever you are such, do not think of giving yourself to some wealthy nabob because I design to marry you myself. My wife cannot live long - she has sold all the provinces in France already - and I know not the woman I should like so well for her substitute as yourself. 'Tis true, I am ninety-five in constitution, and you but twenty-five — rather too great a disparity this! but what I want in youth, I will make up in wit and good-humour. Not Swift so loved his Stella, Scarron his Maintenon, or Waller his Sacharissa, as I will love and sing thee, my wife elect! All those names, eminent as they were, shall give place to thine, Eliza. Tell me, in answer to this, that you approve and honour the proposal, and that you would (like the Spectator's mistress) have more joy in putting on an old man's slipper than associating with the gay, the voluptuous, and the young. Adieu, my Simplicia! Yours,
MY DEAR ELIZA, I HAVE been within the verge of the gates of death. I was ill the last time I wrote to you, and apprehensive of what would be the consequence. My fears were but too well founded; for in ten minutes after I dispatched my letter, this poor fine-spun frame of Yorick’s gave way, and I broke a vessel in my breast, and could not stop the loss of blood till four this morning. I have filled all thy India handkerchiefs with it. It came,
I think, from my heart! I fell asleep through weakness. At six I awoke, with the bosom of my shirt steeped in Sentimental Joirney, etc.