so very deceitfully.”—“Upon my honour,” said he, “the most agreeable I ever saw. Pray tell me, Lady Bellaston, who is this blazing star which you have produced among us all of a sudden?”—“What blazing star, my lord?” said she, affecting a surprize. “I mean,” said he, “the lady I saw here the other day, whom I had last night in my arms at the playhouse, and to whom I have been making that unreasonable visit.”—“O, my cousin Western!” said she; “why, that blazing star, my lord, is the daughter of a country booby squire, and hath been in town about a fortnight, for the first time.”—“Upon my soul,” said he, “I should swear she had been bred up in a court; for besides her beauty, I never saw anything so genteel, so sensible, so polite.”—“O brave!” cries the lady, “my cousin hath you, I find.”— “Upon my honour,” answered he, “I wish she had; for I am in love with her to distraction.”—“Nay, my lord,” said she, “it is not wishing yourself very ill neither, for she is a very great fortune: I assure you she is an only child, and her father’s estate is a good £3000 a-year.” “Then I can assure you, madam,” answered the lord, “I think her the best match in England.” “Indeed, my lord,” replied she, “if you like her, I heartily wish you had her.” “If you think so kindly of me, madam,” said he, “as she is a relation of yours, will you do me the honour to propose it to her father?” “And are you really then in earnest?” cries the lady, with an affected gravity. “I hope, madam,” answered he, “you have a better opinion of me, than to imagine I would jest with your ladyship in an affair of this kind.” “Indeed, then,” said the lady, “I will most readily propose your lordship to her father; and I can, I believe, assure you of his joyful acceptance of the proposal; but there is a bar, which I am almost ashamed to mention; and yet it is one you will never be able to conquer. You have a rival, my lord, and a rival who, though I blush to name him, neither you, nor all the world, will ever be able to conquer.” “Upon my word, Lady Bellaston,” cries he, “you have struck a damp to my heart, which hath almost deprived me of being.” “Fie, my lord,” said she, “I should rather hope I had struck fire into you. A lover, and talk of damps in your heart! I rather imagined you would have asked your rival’s name, that you might have immediately entered the lists with him.” “I promise you, madam,” answered he, “there are very few things I would not undertake for your charming cousin; but pray, who is this happy man?”—“Why, he is,” said she, “what I am sorry to say most happy men with us are, one of the lowest fellows in the world. He is a beggar, a bastard, a foundling, a fellow in meaner circumstances than one of your lordship’s footmen.” “And is it possible,” cried he, “that a young creature with such perfections should think of bestowing herself so unworthily?” “Alas! my lord,” answered she, “consider the country—the bane of all young women is the country. There they learn a set of romantic notions of love, and I know not what folly, which this town and good company can scarce eradicate in a whole winter.” “Indeed, madam,” replied my lord, “your cousin is of too immense a value to be thrown away; such ruin as this must be prevented.” “Alas!” cries she, “my lord, how can it be prevented? The family have already done all in their power; but the girl is, I think, intoxicated, and nothing less than ruin will content her. And to deal more openly with you, I expect every day to hear she is run away with him.” “What you tell me, Lady Bellaston,” answered his lordship, “affects me most tenderly, and only raises my compassion, instead of lessening my adoration of your cousin. Some means must be found to preserve so inestimable a jewel. Hath your ladyship endeavoured to reason with her?” Here the lady affected a laugh, and cried, “My dear lord, sure you know us better than to talk of reasoning a young woman out of her inclinations? These inestimable jewels are as deaf as the jewels they wear: time, my lord, time is the only medicine to cure their folly; but this is a medicine which I am certain she will not take; nay, I live in hourly horrors on her account. In short, nothing but violent methods will do.” “What is to be done?” cries my lord; “what methods are to be taken?—Is there any method upon earth?—Oh! Lady Bellaston! there is nothing which I would not undertake for such a reward.”— “I really know not,” answered the lady, after a pause; and then pausing again, she cried out—“Upon my soul, I am at my wit’s end on this girl’s account.—If she can be preserved, something must be done immediately; and, as I say, nothing but violent methods will do.—If your lordship hath really this attachment to my cousin (and to do her justice, except in this silly inclination, of which she will soon see her folly, she is every way deserving), I think there may be one way, indeed it is a very disagreeable one, and what I am almost afraid to think of.—It requires a great spirit, I promise you.” “I am not conscious, madam,” said he, “of any defect there; nor am I, I hope, suspected of any such. It must be an egregious defect indeed, which could make me backward on this occasion.” “Nay, my lord,” answered she, “I am so far from doubting you, I am much more inclined to doubt my own courage; for I must run a monstrous risque. In short, I must place such a confidence in your honour as a wise woman will scarce ever place in a man on any consideration.” In this point likewise my lord

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