Sunday, September 29, 2019

Sir Charles Grandison, Volume 5: Italy vs. England

In Volume 4 Sir Charles returned to Italy in an attempt to heal his friend Sir Jeronymo and to renew his addresses to Lady Clementina. So perhaps before we delve into Volume 5, which is largely concerned with that lady, it's time to examine how Italy and England are contrasted in Sir Charles Grandison.

Opera vs. oratorio

The musical form most strongly associated with Italy, of course, is opera. And in Sir Charles Grandison opera signifies passion, danger, impropriety, extravagance, display, frivolity, and sensuality. Opera is associated with characters who are morally questionable, such as:
  • the tempestuous Lady Olivia, who first sees and conceives a fierce (and nearly murderous—see Volume 4) love for Sir Charles at the opera in Florence.
  • the profligate Sir Thomas Grandison, the father of Sir Charles, Lady L. and Charlotte, who enthusiastically entangled himself "in the diversions of this great town; and was the common patron of all the performers, whether at plays, operas, or concerts." [1]
  • the frivolous Mr. Everard Grandison, Sir Charles' cousin, "a great frequenter. . .of all manner of public spectacles; a leader of the taste at a new play, or opera." [2]
Interestingly, opera is also associated with mixed characters such as Charlotte Grandison and Emily Jervois, who are fundamentally well-meaning but do not always exercise good judgment or behave with proper decorum. Both of them often sing "Italian airs" while accompanying themselves on the harpsichord. And once Charlotte marries, opera becomes the audible symbol of her defiance of her husband's authority:
Nay, it was but the other day that he attempted to hum a tune of contempt, upon my warbling an Italian air. An opera couple, we! Is it not charming to sing at (I cannot say to) each other, when we have a mind to be spiteful? . . .Such a foe to melody, that he hates the very sight of my harpsichord. He flies out of the room, if I but move towards it. [3]
Italy is not only the source of that exotic and irrational entertainment, opera, it is also "the land of masquerades." [4] After Harriet Byron comes to London for the first time she is taken under the wing of the fashionable Lady Betty Williams. As Harriet writes her country confidante, Lucy Selby:
I am to be carried by her to a Masquerade, to a Ridotto; when the season comes, to Ranelagh and Vauxhall: In the mean time, to Balls, Routs, Drums, and-so-forth;. . .If you find that I prefer the highest of these entertainments, or the opera itself, well as I love music, to a good play of our favourite Shakespeare, then, my Lucy, let your heart ake for your Harriet: Then, be apprehensive that she is laid hold on by levity; that she is captivated by the Eye and the Ear; that her heart is infected by the modern taste. . . [5]
The masquerade ball that Harriet attends (and is abducted from) in Volume 1 is held "at the Opera-house in the Hay-market." This theater (then known as the King's Theatre) had been associated with Handel's Italian opera companies in the 1720s and early 1730s, and in the late 1740s was the site of "Balls, Masquerades and Assemblys." [6]

The Old Opera House, Haymarket, London, by William Capon, 1783. Image: Victoria & Albert Museum.

A recurring motif in the novel is Harriet's mortification that when she is rescued from Sir Hargrave Pollexfen by Sir Charles she is still wearing her eye-catching masquerade costume. Sir Charles, we learn, does not approve of masquerades: "Masquerades. . .are not creditable places for young ladies to be known to be insulted at them. They are diversions that fall not in with the genius of the English commonalty." [7] Indeed, many of the attendees are dressed as characters from the commedia dell'arte, including Sir Hargrave, who comes dressed as Harlequin.

Mr. [Tom] Ellar as Harlequin. Image: Museum of London

Ridottos were balls featuring masquerade that often involved gambling on cards and other games of chance. Ranelagh and Vauxhall were Italianate pleasure gardens on the banks of the Thames featuring musical performances, al fresco dining, and assignations among revelers on the tree-lined paths.

Vauxhall Gardens by Thomas Rowlandson, ca. 1784. Image: Victoria & Albert Museum

This print by Thomas Rowlandson depicts a Vauxhall concert by singer Mrs Weichsel. In the audience at the center are the society beauties Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, and her sister Henrietta, surrounded by men. To the right, the young Prince of Wales whispers in the ear of his mistress, the actress Mrs. Mary "Perdita" Robinson, who is accompanied by her much older husband. Seated at the table on the far right is "The Old Bawd of Sutton Street," a notorious madam.

James Boswell, who is depicted in the supperbox at the left dining with Samuel Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith and Hester Thrale, wrote that Vauxhall was "a mixture of curious shew, — gay exhibition, — musick, vocal and instrumental, not too refined for the general ear." [8] The "not too refined" songs performed at Vauxhall were written by opera and theater composers such as John (Johann) Christian Bach, James Hook, and Thomas Arne. The subjects of many songs, according to a Vauxhall songbook published in the mid-18th century, included "the bottle, hunting, mirth and jollity," as in Arne's duet "Colinet": "Ring the Bells and fill the Bowl / Revel all without controul." Not the kind of music, one imagines, with which demure unmarried women should admit a familiarity. [9]

Colinet, sung by Mr. [Thomas] Lowe & Mrs. [Ann] Lampe.
Image from the "Pleasure Gardens Compendium" in the collection of the Handel House Foundation, Halle.

In a scene from Volume 2 that encapsulates the way Richardson employs music to reflect moral values, Harriet is asked to perform for the Grandisons while staying with them after her rescue from Sir Hargrave:
I was asked to give them a lesson on the harpsichord after tea. Miss Grandison said, Come, come, to prevent all excuses, I will shew you the way.

Let it then be, said Mr. [Everard] Grandison, Shakespeare’s Cuckow. You have made me enter with so much comparative shame into myself, that I must have something lively to raise my spirits.

Well, so it shall, replied Miss Grandison. . . Accordingly she sung that ballad from Shakespear; and with so much spirit and humour, as delighted every-body. [10]
This is a moment that can slip by a modern reader, but which is very telling. The song Charlotte sings, although not further identified, is likely to be "When daisies pied," the song of Spring from Act V of Love's Labours Lost, in the setting by Arne [11]:

When daisies pied and violets blue
And lady-smocks all silver-white,
And cuckoo-buds of ev'ry hue
Do paint the meadows with delight,
The cuckoo then, on every tree,
Mocks married men; for thus sings he, Cuckoo;
Cuckoo, cuckoo: O word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear!

When shepherds pipe on oaten straws
And merry larks are ploughmen's clocks,
When turtles tread, and rooks, and daws,
And maidens bleach their summer smocks
The cuckoo then, on every tree,
Mocks married men; for thus sings he, Cuckoo;
Cuckoo, cuckoo: O word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear!

The cuckoo's song is a harbinger of spring, of course, but "cuckoo" is also a word of fear for married men because the word "cuckold" derives from it (cuckoos, of course, lay eggs in other birds' nests). A ribald song alluding to women's sexual infidelity could only be rendered fit to be sung by an unmarried woman due to its origins in Shakespeare. It tells us much about Everard Grandison that he requests this song, and something about Charlotte that she accedes to his request.

After Charlotte's eyebrow-raising performance, it is her sister Lady L.'s turn:
Come, my dear, said the kind countess, I will prepare you a little further. When you see your two elder sisters go before you, you will have more courage.
She sat down, and play'd one of Scarlatti’s lessons; which, you know, are made to shew a fine hand. And surely, for the swiftness of her fingers, and the elegance of her manner, she could not be equalled. [12]
Domenico Scarlatti's Essercizi per gravicembalo (Exercises for harpsichord), K. 1-30, is a collection of thirty harpsichord sonatas published in London in 1738 or 1739. Perhaps Lady L. played the technically challenging Sonata K. 18, here performed by the swift fingers of Chiara Cattani:

Scarlatti's music, like opera, connects Italian flamboyance with feminine display.

Finally, it is Harriet's turn:
It is referred to you, my third Sister, said Sir Charles (who had been taken aside by Mr. Reeves; some whispering talk having passed between them) to favour us with some of Handel’s musick: Mrs. Reeves says, she has heard you sing several songs out of the Pastoral [Ode L'Allegro, Il Penseroso, ed Il Moderato], and out of some of his finest Oratorios.

Come hither, come hither, my sweet Harriet—Here’s his Alexander’s Feast: my brother admires that, I know; and says it is the noblest composition that ever was produced by man; and is as finely set, as written.

She made me sit down to the instrument.

As you know, said I, that great part of the beauty of this performance arises from the proper transitions from one different strain to another, any one song must lose greatly, by being taken out of its place: and I fear—

Fear nothing, Miss Byron, said Sir Charles: your obligingness, as well as your observation, intitle you to all allowances.

I then turned to that fine piece of accompanied recitative,
Softly sweet, in Lydian measures,
Soon he sooth’d his soul to pleasures. [13]

Alexander's Feast is Handel's setting of Dryden's ode to the power of music. The air Harriet performs is part of a section devoted to music's capacity to awaken and express the most tender feelings. The contrast with Charlotte's indecorous theater song and Lady L.'s elaborate showpiece could not be more stark.

Later, at Charlotte's wedding to Lord G. in Volume 4, Sir Charles is himself prevailed upon to perform, and he conspicuously chooses a piece from the same work:
. . .they besought Sir Charles to sing to my playing. He would not, he said, deny any request that was made him on that day.

He sung. He has a mellow manly voice, and great command of it.

This introduced a little concert. Mr. Beauchamp took the violin; Lord L. the bass-viol; Lord G. the German-flute; and most of the company joined in the chorus. The song was from Alexander’s Feast; the words,
Happy, happy, happy pair!
None but the good deserves the fair;
Sir Charles, though himself equally brave and good, preferring the latter word to the former.  [14]
As Richardson's readers would have known, this air includes a duet in its second part in which the Sir Charles's and Harriet's voices would have intertwined. The duet is an expression of the harmony of their intimate feelings which they have not yet been able to acknowledge openly.

The chief barrier to the acknowledgment of those feelings, of course, is Sir Charles's prior attachment to Lady Clementina (first revealed in Volume 3), to whom he is about to renew his offer of marriage. First, though, her "disturbed intellects" must be calmed.

The first meeting does not go well.

"Quitting her mother's hand, now changing pale, now reddening, she arose, and threw her arms about her Camilla."
Illustration engraved by Walker from a drawing by Stothard (1783). Image: Internet Archive

Sir Charles visits the della Porretta family's house in Bologna, to which Lady Clementina has lately been returned. The entire family is present at their reunion:
She saw me. Saw me greatly affected. She started. She looked again; again started; and, quitting her mother’s hand, now changing pale, now reddening, she arose, and threw her arms about her Camilla—O Camilla! was all she said; a violent burst of tears wounding, yet giving some ease to every heart. I was springing to her, and should have clasped her in my arms before them all; but the general taking my hand, as I reached her chair, Dear Grandison, said he, pronouncing in her ear my name, keep your seat. . .

When I turned to the company, I found the dear Clementina, supported by the two marchionesses, and attended by Camilla, just by me, passing towards the door, in order, it seems, at her motion, to withdraw. She stopt. Ah, Chevalier! said she; and reclining her head on her mother’s bosom, seemed ready to faint. I took one hand, as it hung down lifelessly extended (her mother held the other); and kneeling, pressed it with my lips—Forgive me ladies; forgive me, Lady Clementina!—My soul overflowed with tenderness. . .I could not say more. I arose. She moved on to the door; and when there, turned her head, straining her neck to look after me, till she was out of the room. I was a statue for a few moments; till the Count, snatching my hand, and Father Marescotti’s, who stood nearest him, We see to what the malady is owing—Father, you must join their hands!—Chevalier! you will be a Catholic!—Will you not?—O that you would! said the Father—Why, why, joined in the Count, did we refuse the so-earnestly requested interview, a year and half ago?

The young marchioness returned, weeping—They will not permit me to stay. My sister, my dear sister, is in fits! [15]
Sir Charles is now being pressured once again by Clementina's family to change his religion, and Clementina's "malady" has returned full force. As musicologist Jessica Waldoff has written, quoting historian John Mullan, "In the sentimental genres. . .'feeling is above all observable, and the body through which it throbs is particularly excitable and responsive. . .It is "sensibility," connoting both the involuntary action of the organs and muscles and the susceptibility of men and women to shocks of passion or disappointment, which, in excess of anatomy, allows internal disorder to become observable.'" Waldoff further notes of scenes such as Clementina's fits, "Contemporary audiences valued what modern commentators resist, namely, the sentimental artwork's willingness to represent the immediacy of feeling. . .Illness, Mullan suggests, is 'the last retreat of the morally pure.'" [16]

The renewal of the offer

"Leave me, leave me, said she; and putting a paper in my hand, and shutting to the door, instantly, as I saw, fell on her knees."
Illustration drawn and engraved by R. Vinkeles (1800). Image: Internet Archive

Sir Charles gains the family's permission to renew his offer of marriage to Lady Clementina on the same terms as before: she would be able to keep her religion and her own confessor, and raise any daughters in her faith (Sir Charles reserved the religious education of any sons to himself). Sir Charles further promises that their family would spend significant time in Italy with her relatives.
Tears stood in her eyes; she seemed in great perplexity. She would twice or thrice have spoken; but speech was denied her: at last, she gave me her hand, and directed her steps, trembling to her closet. She entered it. Leave me, leave me, said she; and putting a paper in my hand, and shutting to the door, instantly, as I saw, fell on her knees; and I, to avoid hearing sobs which pierced my heart, went into the next apartment, where were her mother and Camilla, who had heard part of what had passed between us. [17]
Lady Clementina, aware that a renewal of the offer was planned, gives a response to Sir Charles in writing; she expresses her fear that with his example before her daily, she would not be able to remain steadfast in her faith:
My duty calls upon me one way: my heart resists my duty, and tempts me not to perform it. . .O thou most amiable of men! How can I be sure, that, were I thine, thou wouldst not draw me after thee, by Love, by sweetness of Manners, by condescending Goodness? [18]
Once again she refuses Sir Charles's offer.

The farewell

"She condescendingly inclined her cheek to me: I saluted her; but could not utter to her what yet was upon my lips to speak."
Illustration drawn and engraved by R. Vinkeles (1800). Image: Internet Archive

There is nothing left for Sir Charles to do but to bid Lady Clementina farewell:
Dear Lady Clementina, my happiness is bound up with yours.

Ah, Sir, I am not greater than you: and I am less than myself. I was afraid when I came to the trial—But is your happiness bound up with mine? O that I may be happy for your sake! I will endeavour to make myself so. . .Bear witness, my sister; forgive me, my mamma: but never did one mortal love another, as I do the man before us. . .Be you my brother, my friend, and the lover of my soul: this person is unworthy of you. The mind that animates it, is broken, disturbed—Pray for me, as I will for you—. . .
I kneeled to her, clasping my arms about her: May you, madam, be ever, ever happy! I resign to your will—And equally admire and reverence you for it, though a sufferer by it. . .

I raised her, and arose; and kissing first one hand, then the other, and bowing to the two marchionesses, was hastening from her.

She clapt her hands together—He is gone!—O stay, stay, Chevalier—And will you go?—

I was in too much emotion to wish to be seen—She hastened after me to the stairs—O stay, stay! I have not said half I had to say—

I returned, and taking her hand, bowed upon it, to conceal my sensibility—What further commands, with a faltering voice, has Lady Clementina for her Grandison?

I don’t know—But will you, must you, will you go?

I go; I stay; I have no will but yours, madam. . .

Clementina sighed, sobbed, wept; then turning from me, then towards me; but not withdrawing her hand; I thought, said she, I had a thousand things to say—But I have lost them all!—Go thou in peace; and be happy! and God Almighty make me so! Adieu, dearest of men!

She condescendingly inclined her cheek to me: I saluted her; but could not utter to her what yet was upon my lips to speak. [19]
Sir Charles returns to England, and to Harriet.

Next time: Sir Charles Grandison, Volume 6: 18th-century Instagram culture

Last time: Sir Charles Grandison, Volume 4: The return to Italy

  1. Samuel Richardson, The History of Sir Charles Grandison, Volume II, Letter XI. Miss HARRIET BYRON, To Miss LUCY SELBY.
  2. Sir Charles Grandison, Volume II, Letter II. Miss BYRON[, To Miss LUCY SELBY]. In continuation. 
  3. Sir Charles Grandison, Volume V, Letter IX. Lady G. To Miss BYRON. 
  4. Sir Charles Grandison, Volume II, Letter XXXI. Miss BYRON[, To Miss LUCY SELBY]. In continuation. 
  5. Sir Charles Grandison, Volume I, Letter V. Miss BYRON, To Miss SELBY.
  6. 'The Haymarket Opera House', in Survey of London: Volumes 29 and 30, St James Westminster, Part 1, ed. F H W Sheppard (London, 1960), pp. 223-250. British History Online, [accessed 24 September 2019].
  7. Sir Charles Grandison, Volume I, Letter XXVII. From Mr. REEVES, To GEORGE SELBY, Esq, In Continuation. 
  8. Information about Rowlandson's print is from the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Yale Center for British Art. The print was issued ca. 1784, but it depicts an imaginary scene of no specifiable date. Goldsmith died in 1774, the year the Prince of Wales turned 12. 
  9. Vauxhall Gardens, 1661-1859: Vauxhall Songbooks:
  10. Sir Charles Grandison,  Volume II, Letter II. Miss BYRON[, To Miss LUCY SELBY]. In continuation. 
  11. From the Folger Shakespeare Library: "The words of the song are from Shakespeare’s Love’s labour’s lost, apparently used in the version of As you like it [performed at Drury Lane in 1740] for which Arne supplied incidental music; otherwise, there is no Love’s labour’s lost music by Arne." See
  12. Sir Charles Grandison,  Volume II, Letter II. Miss BYRON[, To Miss LUCY SELBY]. In continuation.  
  13. Sir Charles Grandison,  Volume II, Letter II. Miss BYRON[, To Miss LUCY SELBY]. In continuation.
  14. Sir Charles Grandison,  Volume IV, Letter XVI. Miss BYRON[, To Miss SELBY]. In continuation.
  15. Sir Charles Grandison,  Volume V, Letter I. Sir CHARLES GRANDISON, To Dr. BARTLETT.
  16. Jessica Waldoff, Recognition in Mozart's Operas, Oxford University Press, 2006, pp. 133, 145, and 163.
  17. Sir Charles Grandison,  Volume V, Letter XXIV. Sir CHARLES GRANDISON, To Dr. BARTLETT.
  18. Sir Charles Grandison,  Volume V, Letter XXIV. Sir CHARLES GRANDISON, To Dr. BARTLETT.
  19. Sir Charles Grandison,  Volume V, Letter XXXIX. Sir CHARLES GRANDISON, To Dr. BARTLETT.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Sir Charles Grandison, Volume 4: The return to Italy

In Volume 3 of Sir Charles Grandison, by allowing Harriet to read his letters Sir Charles informs her of his prior attachment to Lady Clementina, the daughter of a noble Italian family whom he met during his exile from England. However, apparently insurmountable religious differences and her family's hostility to the match have separated the couple.

The fourth volume features returns of various kinds:
  • Harriet, after a long stay with Sir Charles' family, returns to her relatives in Northamptonshire
  • The Countess of D. renews her campaign to win Harriet's hand in marriage for her son, the Earl of D.
  • Lady Olivia returns to her attack (literally) on Sir Charles' chastity
  • Charlotte Grandison is commanded to reconsider a suitor in whom she has declared a decided indifference
  • And Sir Charles returns to Italy to visit Lady Clementina.
All of these returns bring up the question of repetition in Sir Charles Grandison. A certain amount of repetition is built into the epistolary form, as the same events get described from different perspectives. Some authors have used this to advantage. In The Expedition of Humphry Clinker (1771), Tobias Smollett creates comedy from the deflation, complication or contradiction of one person's account of events by other correspondents.

Repetition in Sir Charles Grandison is not generally used in the service of humor, unfortunately. Instead, it is used to reinforce character traits (such as Sir Charles' endlessly demonstrated virtue, generosity and manliness), reintroduce narrative dilemmas (such as Harriet's uncertainty about whether Sir Charles returns her feelings), and recapitulate moral lessons (such as Sir Charles' strictures against duelling). As Terry Eagleton writes,
Walter Scott tells of an old lady who chose to hear Grandison read to her in preference to any other work, as she could fall asleep and wake up again without missing anything of the story. [1]
It's in Volume 4 that readers may begin to feel more than a bit like that old lady.

"A man whom there is no resisting": Sir Charles as matchmaker and marriage counselor

Over the course of the novel Sir Charles regularly acts as matchmaker and marriage counselor. In Volume 4:
  • After extracting his elderly, gout-ridden uncle Lord W. from his extramarital relationship with his domineering servant Mrs. Giffard, Sir Charles arranges a marriage between Lord W. and the 34-year-old spinster Miss Mansfield. Miss Mansfield is the daughter of Lady Mansfield, a widow who has fallen into genteel poverty. 

    Miss Mansfield will act as Lord W.'s caregiver and, replacing Mrs. Giffard, as his household manager. And, should he still be capable of having sex, she may provide him with an heir. In return Lord W. will assure that she, her mother and her siblings are made financially secure for the rest of their lives. It seems a marriage based more nakedly than most on the exchange of money (his) for services (hers).

    The scene in which Sir Charles makes the marriage proposal on behalf of Lord W. to Lady Mansfield and her daughter (whom, by the way, Lord W. has never met) is remarkable: Miss Mansfield remains silent throughout, and finally accepts her fate mutely by bowing her head (as one bows one's head to the executioner). Sir Charles tells her, "I dare say that he will engage your gratitude, and I defy a good mind to separate love from gratitude." [2] The voiceless Miss Mansfield cannot afford to demur.
  • Sir Charles reconciles Sir Harry Beauchamp with his quarrelsome wife. She was a wealthy widow who had wanted the handsome young Mr. Edward Beauchamp, Sir Harry's son and Sir Charles' friend, for a second husband. When Mr. Beauchamp turned her down ("perhaps with too little ceremony") and Sir Harry, knowing nothing of her interest in his son, began to pay his own addresses to her, she married Sir Harry to "put both father and son in her power." [3] The ill-advised marriage results in Edward Beauchamp's exile to the continent.

    Lady Beauchamp and Sir Harry argue heatedly about whether Edward should remain abroad; she wants him to remain on the Continent and Sir Harry wants him to return. But Sir Charles, using his charm and raillery, is finally able to win Lady Beauchamp over in spite of herself. Mr. Beauchamp is finally allowed to return to England and marital harmony is established.

    When Harriet learns of Sir Charles' behavior towards Lady Beauchamp, she writes Lucy:
    It absolutely convinces me, of what indeed I before suspected, that he has not an high opinion of our Sex in general. . .He treats us, in Lady Beauchamp, as perverse humoursome babies, loving power, yet not knowing how to use it. [4]

"Sir Harry cleared up at once—May I hope, madam—and offered to take her hand."
Illustration engraved by Walker from a drawing by Stothard. image: Internet Archive
  • Sir Charles' "opinion of [the] Sex" is even clearer in his treatment of his sister Charlotte. He all but forces her to accept as her betrothed Lord G., a suitor she considers nothing more than "a good natured silly man." In the eighteenth century, of course, marriage for women was not only a lifetime commitment, but due to the high rate of maternal mortality a life-threatening one.

    After Charlotte's reluctant acceptance of Lord G., Sir Charles insists on a quick marriage: within a week (!).  Although Charlotte is wracked by doubts, even at the church door, she finally resigns herself to the union: "'Do as you will—or rather, as my brother will.—What signifies opposing him?'"[6]
"Bad is my best": Emily and her mother.

"Anne saw her first, I alighted, and asked her blessing in the shop."
Illustration engraved by Walker from a drawing by Stothard. Image: Internet Archive

At the end of Volume 3 we were left with the suspicion that Emily was manipulating Harriet Byron with the ultimate aim of seducing Sir Charles. In Volume 4 we learn that Emily has been borrowing substantial sums of money from Sir Charles' sisters Lady L. and Charlotte Grandison/Lady G. and purchasing goods (including a carriage) for her mother with the aim of "enlarging her power to live handsomely." [7] Again, our suspicions are raised. Our concern is heightened when Sir Charles, at Emily's urging, raises her mother's allowance to four hundred pounds a year. Instead of antagonists, are Emily and her mother really in league?

"Vindictive, even to a criminal degree": Lady Olivia.

"She pulled out of her stays, in fury, a poniard, and vowed to plunge it into his heart." 
Drawn and engraved by R. Vinkeles, 1799. Image: Internet Archive

Sir Charles met the tempestuous, passionate Lady Olivia during his first visit to Italy. Now she has followed him to England, willing to abandon her religion and relations if Sir Charles will accept her. Instead, he tells her that he is about to embark on a return journey to Italy to visit Clementina and renew his promise of marriage to her.
She would have had him put off his journey. She was enraged because he would not; and they were high together; and at last she pulled out of her stays, in fury, a poniard, and vowed to plunge it into his heart. He should never, she said, see his Clementina more. He went to her. Her heart failed her. . .He took it from her. [8]
Sir Charles leaves for Italy as planned; Lady Olivia decides to stay in England until his return, seeking hope in a hopeless situation.

"They had by terror broke her spirit": Lady Clementina's trials.

"She heard them, and screamed, and leaving the ladder, ran, to avoid them, till she came in sight of the great cascade."
Illustration engraved by Heath from a drawing by Stothard. Image: Internet Archive

In Sir Charles' absence Lady Clementina has been turned over to Lady Sforza and her daughter Laurana to see if their "harsh methods" will succeed in bringing her out of her despondency. But the mother and daughter have ulterior motives for their severe treatment of Clementina: if Clementina enters a convent to escape her severe treatment, a vast estate originally intended for her will instead be inherited by Laurana. And Laurana is hoping not just for riches, but for a husband. As the Marchioness della Porretta tells Sir Charles:
We suspected not till very lately, that Laurana was deeply in love with the Count of Belvedere; and that her mother and she had views to drive our sweet child into a convent, that Laurana might enjoy the estate; which they hoped would be an inducement to the Count to marry her. . .

Can we so reward Laurana for her cruelty? Especially now, that we suspect the motives for her barbarity? Could I have thought that my sister Sforza—But what will not Love and Avarice do, their powers united to compass the same end; the one reigning in the bosom of the daughter, the other in that of the mother? Alas! alas! they have, between them, broken the spirit of my Clementina. [9]
Sir Charles' return to Italy.

In Volume 3, Sir Charles had left Italy knowing that Lady Clementina's brothers (except his friend Jeronymo) vigorously, not to say heatedly, opposed their marriage. But time and the persistence of Lady Clementina's mental distress have softened their hostility, and some members of the family have asked him to return to see if fulfilling Lady Clementina's request to have another audience with Sir Charles will bring her calm.

Sir Charles also intends to renew his friendship with Jeronymo, whose life he saved in Volume 3. However, the wounds Jeronymo received from his would-be assassins have stubbornly refused to heal. On his return to Italy Sir Charles has brought with him Mr. Lowther, a skilled surgeon, to attend to both Jeronymo's wounds and Lady Clementina's "disturbed intellects."

The della Porretta family has invited Sir Charles to return; will they also allow the renewal of his marriage proposal to Lady Clementina? And if so, will she now accept his terms?

Next time: Sir Charles Grandison, Volume 5: Italy vs. England

Last time: Sir Charles Grandison, Volume 3: The mystery revealed

  1.  Quoted in Terry Eagleton, The Rape of Clarissa, University of Minnesota Press, 1982, pp. 96-97.
  2. Samuel Richardson, Sir Charles Grandison, Volume 4, Letter II. Miss [HARRIET] BYRON[, To Miss LUCY SELBY]. In Continuation.
  3. Sir Charles Grandison, Volume 2, Letter XXXVII. Dr. Bartlett[, To Miss BYRON]. In Continuation.
  4. Sir Charles Grandison, Volume 4, Letter III. Miss [HARRIET] BYRON[, To Miss LUCY SELBY]. In Continuation.
  5. Loudon I. (1986). Deaths in childbed from the eighteenth century to 1935. Medical history, 30(1), 1–41. doi:10.1017/s0025727300045014. According to this study, between 5 and 29 of every 1000 births resulted in the death of the mother. These figures do not count maternal morbidity, which involves death from complications of pregnancy or birth. 
  6. Sir Charles Grandison, Volume 4, Letter XV. Miss [HARRIET] BYRON[, To Miss SELBY]. In Continuation.
  7. Sir Charles Grandison, Volume 4, Letter XXXIV. Miss JERVOIS, TO Miss BYRON.
  8. Sir Charles Grandison, Volume 4, Letter XXIV. Miss [HARRIET] BYRON[, To Miss SELBY]. In Continuation.
  9. Sir Charles Grandison, Volume 4, Letter XL. Sir CHARLES GRANDISON, To Dr. BARTLETT.