In which is introduc'd a very singular Character.
Miss Glanville, whose Envy and Dislike of her lovely Cousin was heighten'd by her Suspicions that she disputed with her the Possession of Sir George's Heart, she having been long in reality a great Admirer of that gay Gentleman, was extremely delighted with the Ridicule her absurd Behaviour had drawn upon her at Bath, which she found by Enquiry was thro' Mr. Tinsel's Representation grown almost general.
In order therefore to be at Liberty to go to the Publick Places un-eclips'd by the superior Beauty of Arabella, she acquainted her Father and Brother with Part of what she had heard, which determin'd them to prevent that young Lady's Appearance in Publick while they staid at Bath; this being no difficult Matter to bring about, since Arabella only went to the Rooms or Parade in Compliance with the Invitation of her Cousins.
Miss Glanville being by these Means rid of a Rival too powerful even to contend with, went with more than usual Gaiety to the Assembly, where the Extravagancies of Arabella afforded a perpetual Fund for Diversion. Her more than passive Behaviour upon this Occasion, banishing all Restraint among those she convers'd with, the Jest circulated very freely at Arabella's Expence. Nor did Miss Glanville fail to give new Poignancy to their Sarcasms, by artfully disclosing the bent of her Cousin's Studies, and enumerating the many Absurdities they had made her guilty of.
Arabella's uncommon Beauty had gain'd her so many Enemies among the Ladies that compos'd this Assembly, that they seem'd to contend with each other who should ridicule her most. The celebrated Countess of -- being then at Bath, approach'd a Circle of these fair Defamers, and listning a few Moments to the contemptuous Jests they threw out against the absent Beauty, declar'd herself in her Favour; which in a Moment, such was the Force of her universally acknowledg'd Merit, and the Deference always pay'd to her Opinion, silenc'd every pretty Impertinent around her.
This Lady, who among her own Sex had no Superior in Wit, Elegance, and Ease, was inferior to very few of the other in Sense, Learning, and Judgment. Her Skill in Poetry, Painting, and Musick, tho' incontestably great, was number'd among the least of her Accomplishments. Her Candour, her Sweetness, her Modesty and Benevolence, while they secur'd her from the Darts of Envy, render'd her superior to Praise, and made the one as unnecessary as the other ineffectual.
She had been a Witness of the Surprize Arabella's extraordinary Appearance had occasion'd, and struck with that as well as the uncommon Charms of her Person, had prest near her with several others of the Company, when she was discoursing in the Manner we have related.
A Person of the Countess's nice Discernment could not fail of observing the Wit and Spirit, which tho' obscur'd, was not absolutely hid under the Absurdity of her Notions.
And this Discovery adding Esteem to the Compassion she felt for the fair Visionary, she resolv'd to rescue her from the ill-natur'd Raillery of her Sex; praising therefore her Understanding, and the Beauty of her Person with a Sweetness and Generosity peculiar to herself, she accounted in the most delicate Manner imaginable for the Singularity of her Notions, from her Studies, her Retirment, her Ignorance of the World, and her lively Imagination. And to abate the Keenness of their Sarcasms, acknowledg'd, that she herself had when very young, been deep read in Romances; and but for an early Acquaintance with the World, and being directed to other Studies, was likely to have been as much a Heroine as Lady Bella.
Miss Glanville, tho' she was secretly vex'd at this Defence of her Cousin, was however under a Necessity of seeming oblig'd to the Countess for it: And that Lady expressing a Desire to be acquainted with Lady Bella, Miss Glanville respectfully offer'd to attend her Cousin to her Lodgings, which the Countess as respectfully declin'd, saying, as Lady Bella was a Stranger, she would make her the first Visit.
Miss Glanville at her Return gave her Brother an Account of what had happen'd at the Assembly, and fill'd him with an inconceivable Joy at the Countess's Intention. He had always been a zealous Admirer of that Lady's Character, and flatter'd himself that the Conversation of so admirable a Woman would be of the utmost Use to Arabella.
That very Night he mention'd her to his beloved Cousin; and after enumerating all her fine Qualities, declar'd that she had already conceiv'd a Friendship for her, and was solicitous of her Acquaintance.
I think myself extremely fortunate, replied Arabella, in that I have (tho' questionless undeservedly) acquir'd the Amity of this lovely Person; and I beg you, pursued she to Miss Glanville, to tell her, that I long with Impatience to embrace her, and to give her that Share in my Heart which her transcendent Merit deserves.
Miss Glanville only bow'd her Head in Answer to this Request, giving her Brother at the same Time a significant Leer; who tho' used to Arabella's Particularities, could not help being a little confounded at the heroick Speech she had made.