“O, Sir! I believe I shall begin to love the lady dearly, and that is what I never thought I should. I hope this will be brought about.
“But I see, give me leave to say, Sir, how dangerously you might both have gone on, under the notion of this Platonic love, till two precious souls had been lost: and this shews one, as well in spirituals as temporals, from what slight beginnings the greatest mischiefs sometimes spring; and how easily at first a breach may be stopped, that, when neglected, the waves of passion will widen till they bear down all before them.”
“Your observation, my dear, is just,” replied Mr. B., “and though, I am confident the lady was more in earnest than myself in the notion of Platonic love, yet I am convinced, and always was, that Platonic love is Platonic nonsense: ’tis the fly buzzing about the blaze, till its wings are scorched; or, to speak still stronger, it is a bait of the devil to catch the unexperienced, and thoughtless: nor ought such notions to be pretended to, till the parties are five or ten years on the other side of their grand climateric: for age, old age, and nothing else, must establish the barriers to Platonic love. But this was my comparative consolation, though a very bad one, that had I swerved, I should not have given the only instance, where persons more scrupulous than I pretended to be, have begun friendships even with spiritual views, and ended them as grossly as I could have done, were the lady to have been as frail as her tempter.”
Here Mr. B. finished his narrative. He is now set out for Tunbridge with all my papers. I have no doubt in his honour and kind assurances, and hope my next will be a joyful letter; and that I shall inform you in it, that the affair which went so near my heart, is absolutely concluded to my satisfaction, to Mr. B.’s and the Countess’s; for if it be so to all three, my happiness, I doubt not, will be founded on a permanent basis. Meantime I am, my dear good lady, your most affectionate, and obliged sister and servant,
A new misfortune, my dear lady!—But this is of God Almighty’s sending; so I must bear it patiently. My dear baby is taken with the small-pox!—To how many troubles are the happiest of us subjected in this life! One need not multiply them by one’s own wilful mismanagements!—I am able to mind nothing else!
I had so much joy (as I told your ladyship in the beginning of my last letter but one) to see, on our arrival at the farm-house, my dearest Mr. B., my beloved baby, and my good parents, all upon one happy spot, that I fear I was too proud—Yet I was truly thankful, I am sure!—But I had, notwithstanding too much pride, and too much pleasure, on this happy occasion.
I said, in my last, that your dear brother set out on Tuesday morning for Tunbridge with my papers; and I longed to know the result, hoping that every thing would be concluded to the satisfaction of all three: “For,” thought I, “if this be so, my happiness must be permanent:” but alas! there is nothing permanent in this life. I feel it by experience now!—I knew it before by theory: but that was not so near and interesting by half.