MY DEAR LADY,
I read with pleasure your commands, in your last kind and obliging letter: and you may be sure of a ready obedience in every one of them, that is in my power.
That which I can most easily do, I will first do; and that is, to transcribe the answer I sent to Miss Darnford, and that to Mrs. Jewkes, the former of which, (and a long one it is) is as follows:
“DEAR MISS DARNFORD,
“I begin now to be afraid I shall not have the pleasure and benefit I promised myself of passing a fortnight or three weeks at the Hall, in your sweet conversation, and that of your worthy family, as well as those others in your agreeable neighbourhood, whom I must always remember with equal honour and delight.
“The occasion will be principally, that we expect, very soon, Lord and Lady Davers, who propose to tarry here a fortnight at least; and after that, the advanced season will carry us to London, where Mr. B. has taken a house for his winter residence, and in order to attend parliament: a service he says, which he has been more deficient in hitherto, than he can either answer to his constituents, or to his own conscience; for though he is but one, yet if any good motion should be lost by one, every absent member, who is independent, has to reproach himself with the consequence of the loss of that good which might otherwise redound to the commonwealth. And besides, he says, such excuses as he could make, every one might plead; and then public affairs might as well be left to the administration, and no parliament be chosen.
“See you, my dear Miss Darnford, from the humble cottager, what a public person your favourite friend is grown! How easy is it for a bold mind to look forward, and, perhaps, forgetting what she was, now she imagines she has a stake in the country, takes upon herself to be as important, as significant, as if, like my dear Miss Darnford, she had been born to it!
“Well; but may I not ask, whether, if the mountain cannot come to Mahomet, Mahomet will not come to the mountain? Since Lady Davers’s visit is so uncertain as to its beginning and duration, and so great a favour as I am to look upon it, and really shall, it being her first visit to me:—and since we must go and take possession of our London residence, why can’t Sir Simon spare to us the dear lady whom he could use hardly, and whose attendance (though he is indeed entitled to all her duty) he did not, just in that instance, quite so much deserve?
“‘Well, but after all, Sir Simon,’ would I say, if I had been in presence at his peevish hour, ’you are a fine gentleman, are you not? to take such a method to shew your good daughter, that because she did not come soon enough to you, she came too soon! And did ever papa before you put a good book (for such I doubt not it was, because you were in affliction, though so little affected by its precepts) to such a bad use? As parents’ examples are so prevalent, suppose your daughter had taken it, and flung it at her sister; Miss Nancy at her waiting-maid; and so it had gone through the family; would it not have been an excuse for every one to say, that the father, and head of the family had set the example?