In the afternoon, Bellarmine, in the dear coach and six, came to wait on her. He was indeed charmed with her person, and was, on inquiry, so well pleased with the circumstances of her father (for he himself, notwithstanding all his finery, was not quite so rich as a Croesus or an Attalus). — "Attalus," says Mr. Adams: "but pray how came you acquainted with these names?" The lady smiled at the question, and proceeded. He was so pleased, I say, that he resolved to make his addresses to her directly. He did so accordingly, and that with so much warmth and briskness, that he quickly baffled her weak repulses, and obliged the lady to refer him to her father, who, she knew, would quickly declare in favour of a coach and six.
Thus what Horatio had by sighs and tears, love and tenderness, been so long obtaining, the French-English Bellarmine with gaiety and gallantry possessed himself of in an instant. In other words, what modesty had employed a full year in raising, impudence demolished in twenty-four hours.
Here Adams groaned a second time; but the ladies, who began to smoke him, took no notice.
From the opening of the assembly till the end of Bellarmine's visit, Leonora had scarce once thought of Horatio; but he now began, though an unwelcome guest, to enter into her mind. She wished she had seen the charming Bellarmine and his charming equipage before matters had gone so far. "Yet why," says she, "should I wish to have seen him before; or what signifies it that I have seen him now? Is not Horatio my lover, almost my husband? Is he not as handsome, nay handsomer than Bellarmine? Aye, but Bellarmine is the genteeler, and the finer man; yes, that he must be allowed. Yes, yes, he is that certainly. But did not I, no longer ago than yesterday, love Horatio more than all the world? Aye, but yesterday I had not seen Bellarmine. But doth not Horatio doat on me, and may he not in despair break his heart if I abandon him? Well, and hath not Bellarmine a heart to break too? Yes, but I promised Horatio first; but that was poor Bellarmine's misfortune; if I had seen him first, I should certainly have preferred him. Did not the dear creature prefer me to every woman in the assembly, when every she was laying out for him? When was it in Horatio's power to give me such an instance of affection? Can he give me an equipage, or any of those things which Bellarmine will make me mistress of? How vast is the difference between being the wife of a poor counsellor and the wife of one of Bellarmine's fortune! If I marry Horatio, I shall triumph over no more than one rival; but by marrying Bellarmine, I shall be the envy of all my acquaintance. What happiness! But can I suffer Horatio to die? for he hath sworn he cannot survive my loss: but perhaps he may not die: if he should, can I prevent it? Must I sacrifice myself to him? besides, Bellarmine may be as miserable for me too." She was thus arguing with herself, when some young ladies called her to the walks, and a little relieved her anxiety for the present.
The next morning Bellarmine breakfasted with her in presence of her aunt, whom he sufficiently informed of his passion for Leonora. He was no sooner withdrawn than the old lady began to advise her niece on this occasion. "You see, child," says she, "what fortune hath thrown in your way; and I hope you will not withstand your own preferment." Leonora, sighing, begged her not to mention any such thing, when she knew her engagements to Horatio. "Engagements to a fig!" cried the aunt; "you should thank Heaven on your knees that you have it yet in your power to break them. Will any woman hesitate a moment whether she shall ride in a coach or walk on foot all the days of her life? But Bellarmine drives six, and Horatio not even a pair." — "Yes, but, madam, what will the world say?" answered Leonora: "will not they condemn me?" — "The world is always on the side of prudence," cries the aunt, "and would surely condemn you if you sacrificed your interest to any motive whatever. Oh! I know the world very well; and you shew your ignorance, my dear, by your objection. O' my conscience! the world is wiser. I have lived longer in it than you; and I assure you there is not anything worth our regard besides money; nor did I ever know one person who married from other considerations, who did not afterwards heartily repent it. Besides, if we examine the two men, can you prefer a sneaking fellow, who hath been bred at the university, to a fine gentleman just come from his travels. All the world must allow Bellarmine to be a fine gentleman, positively a fine gentleman, and a handsome man." — "Perhaps, madam, I should not doubt, if I knew how to be handsomely off with the other." — "Oh! leave that to me," says the aunt. "You know your father hath not been acquainted with the affair. Indeed, for my part I thought it might do well enough, not dreaming of such an offer; but I'll disengage you: leave me to give the fellow an answer. I warrant you shall have no farther trouble."
Leonora was at length satisfied with her aunt's reasoning; and Bellarmine supping with her that evening, it was agreed he should the next morning go to her father and propose the match, which she consented should be consummated at his return.
The aunt retired soon after supper; and, the lovers being left together, Bellarmine began in the following manner: "Yes, madam; this coat, I assure you, was made at Paris, and I defy the best English taylor even to imitate it. There is not one of them can cut, madam; they can't cut. If you observe how this skirt is turned, and this sleeve: a clumsy English rascal can do nothing like it. Pray, how do you like my liveries?" Leonora answered, "She thought them very pretty." — "All French," says he, "I assure you, except the greatcoats; I never trust anything more than a greatcoat to an Englishman. You know one must encourage our own people what one can, especially as, before I had a place, I was in the country interest, he, he, he! But for myself, I would see the dirty island at the bottom of the sea, rather than wear a single rag of English work about me: and I am sure, after you have made one tour to Paris, you will be of the same opinion with regard to your own clothes. You can't conceive what an addition a French dress would be to your beauty; I positively assure you, at the first opera I saw since I came over, I mistook the English ladies for chambermaids, he, he, he!"