Damon made use of this opportunity to persuade his mistress to an elopement. “You have already carried,” said he, “your obedience to the utmost exremity. You have tried every means to bend the inflexible will of your father. If not for my sake then, at least for your own, avoid the crisis that is preparing for you. You detect the husband that your father designs you. If united to him, you confess you must be miserable. But who can tell, in the midst of persons inflexibly bent upon your ruin, no friend at hand to support you, your Damon banished and at a distance, what may be the event? You will hesitate and tremble, your father will endeavour to terrify you into submission, the odious peer will force from you your hand. If, in that moment, your heart should misgive you, if one faultering accent belie the sentiments you have so generously avowed for me, what, ah, what! may be the consequence? No, my fair one, fly, instantly fly. No duty forbids. You have done all that the most rigid moralist could demand of you. Put yourself into my protection. I will not betray your confidence. You shall be as much mistress as ever of all your actions. If you distrust me, at least chuse our common friends sir William Twyford. Chuse any protector among the numerous friends, that your beauty and your worth have raised you. I had rather sacrifice my own prospects of felicity forever, than see the smallest chance that you should be unhappy.”
Such were the arguments, which, with all the eloquence of a friend, and all the ardour of a lover, our hero urged upon his mistress. But the gentleness of Delia was not yet sufficiently roused by the injuries she had received, to induce her, to cast off all the ties which education and custom had imposed upon her, and determine upon so decisive a step. “Surely,” said she, “there is some secret reward, some unexpected deliverance in reserve, for filial simplicity. Oh, how harsh, how bold, how questionable a step, is that to which you would persuade me! Circumstanced in this manner, the fairest reputation might provoke the tongue of scandal, and the most spotless innocence open a door to the blast of calumny. I will not say that such a step may not be sometimes justifiable. I will not say to what I may myself be urged. But oh, how unmingled the triumph, how sincere the joy if, by persevering in a conduct, in which the path of duty is too palpable to be mistaken, propitious fate may rather grant me the happiness after which I aspire, than I be forced, as it were, myself to wrest it from the hands of providence!”
Such was the result of this last and decisive interview. Delia could not be moved from that line of conduct, upon which she had so virtuously resolved. And Damon having in vain exerted all the rhetoric of which he was master, now gave way to the gloomy suggestions of despair, and now flattered himself with the gleams of hope. He sometimes thought, that Delia might yet be induced to adopt the plan he had proposed; and sometimes he gave way to the serene confidence she expressed, and indulged the pleasing expectation, that virtue would not always remain without its reward.