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Anna St. Ives   By: (1745-1809)

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Volume I Volume II Volume III Volume IV Volume V Volume VI VOLUME VII

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Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton

Wenbourne Hill

Here are we, my dear girl, in the very height of preparation. We begin our journey southward at five tomorrow morning. We shall make a short stay in London, and then proceed to Paris. Expectation is on tiptoe: my busy fancy has pictured to itself Calais, Montreuil, Abbeville, in short every place which the book of post roads enumerates, and some of which the divine Sterne has rendered so famous. I expect to find nothing but mirth, vivacity, fancy, and multitudes of people. I have read so much of the populousness of France, the gaiety of its inhabitants, the magnificence of its buildings, its fine climate, fertility, numerous cities, superb roads, rich plains, and teeming vineyards, that I already imagine myself journeying through an enchanted land.

I have another pleasure in prospect. Pray have you heard that your brother is soon to be at Paris, on his return from Italy? My father surprised me by informing me we should probably meet him in that capital. I suspect Sir Arthur of an implication which his words perhaps will not authorize; but he asked me, rather significantly, if I had ever heard you talk of your brother; and in less than five minutes wished to know whether I had any objections to marriage.

My father is exceedingly busy with his head man, his plotter, his planner; giving directions concerning still further improvements that are to be made, in his grounds and park, during our absence. You know his mania. Improvement is his disease. I have before hinted to you that I do not like this factotum of his, this Abimelech Henley. The amiable qualities of his son more than compensate for the meanness of the father; whom I have long suspected to be and am indeed convinced that he is artful, selfish, and honest enough to seek his own profit, were it at the expence of his employer's ruin. He is continually insinuating new plans to my father, whom he Sir Arthurs, and Honours, and Nobles, at every word, and then persuades him the hints and thoughts are all his own. The illiterate fellow has a language peculiar to himself; energetic but half unintelligible; compounded of a few fine phrases, and an inundation of proverbial wisdom and uncouth cant terms. Of the scanty number of polite words, which he has endeavoured to catch, he is very bountiful to Sir Arthur. 'That's noble! That's great your noble honour! Well, by my truly, that's an elegunt ideer ! But I always said your honour had more nobler and elegunter ideers than any other noble gentleman, knight, lord, or dooke, in every thing of what your honour calls the grand gusto.' Pshaw! It is ridiculous in me to imitate his language; the cunning nonsense of which evaporates upon paper, but is highly characteristic when delivered with all its attendant bows and cringes; which, like the accompaniments to a concerto, enforce the character of the composition, and give it full effect.

I am in the very midst of bandboxes, portmanteaus, packing cases, and travelling trunks. I scarcely ever knew a mind so sluggish as not to feel a certain degree of rapture, at the thoughts of travelling. It should seem as if the imagination frequently journeyed so fast as to enjoy a species of ecstasy, when there are any hopes of dragging the cumbrous body after its flights.

I cannot banish the hints of Sir Arthur from my busy fancy. I must not I ought not to practise disguise with any one, much less with my Louisa; and I cannot but own that his questions suggested a plan of future happiness to my mind, which if realized would be delightful. The brother of my dear Louisa, the chosen friend of my heart, is to be at Paris. I shall meet him there. He cannot but resemble his sister... Continue reading book >>

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