The Old Manor House:


The day had been unusually warm; but towards evening a thunder-storm came on, and, as it grew later, a tempest of wind, with heavy and continual rain.

Betty, sulky that Monimia refused, and still more sulky that she had got nothing by her long walk, but nearly spoiling all her finery, had not come to Monimia’s room any more; but she received, at the usual hour, the usual summons for tea. She thought both Mrs. Lennard and her aunt uncommonly peevish and tedious, and that the sermon one was reading, while the other fell asleep, was most unreasonably long. At length she was dismissed, and, retiring to her turret, began to listen to the wind that howled in tremendous gusts among the trees, and to the rain falling in torrents, the rushing of which was redoubled by the leaden pipes that from the roof of her turret threw the water in columns on the pavement below. Would Orlando come? Through such a tempest it were hardly to be wished he should. Having been absent all day, there would be no fire in his room, he would be drenched with rain, and half dead with cold. Monimia then could not desire he should come; yet she felt, in despite of her reason, that she should be very unhappy if he 78 did not; for though so many causes might combine to detain him, her humble ideas of herself, and the pictures she had made of the beauty and attractions of the Miss Woodfords, added another which rendered her wretched. Alas! cried she, Orlando among them will be too happy to think of me; and it is quite ridiculous to suppose that he will quit these ladies, to come through the storm almost five miles to poor Monimia. No, no! Orlando will not come.

Still however she could not determine to go to bed, at least till the hour was past for which he had made the appointment. At the usual time her aunt, who now frequently omitted to come herself, sent Betty for her candle, and her door was locked as usual, for that was a ceremony which either in person or proxy was always performed. But Monimia now no longer passed the long interval between half after nine o’clock and the hour when Orlando usually called her, in darkness; for he had furnished her with the means of procuring a light, and with small wax candles. One of these she now lit, and endeavoured to sit down to read—but the violence of the wind, which she fancied every moment increased, and the flashes of lightning which she saw through her narrow casement, to which there was no shutter, distracted her attention; and she could only sit in miserable anxiety, listening to the various noises which in such a tempestuous night are heard around an old building, and especially such a part of it as she inhabited; where, around the octagon tower or turret, the wind roared with violence from every point; while, in the long passages which led from thence to her aunt’s apartments, it seemed yet more enraged, from being confined. She now traversed her small room with fearful steps; now sat down on her bed, near the 79 door, that she might the more readily hear Orlando if he should come; and now got on a chair, and opened her casement to observe if there seemed any probability of the storm’s abating: but still, though the thunder had ceased, the clouds, driven against each other by violent and varying gusts of wind, produced vivid flashes of lightning, which suddenly illuminated the whole park. But Orlando came not, and it was now near an hour past his usual time. Again the poor anxious Monimia, now half despairing of his coming, and trying to persuade herself that she did not wish he should come, traversed her room—again went to her window. Another and another hour passed: amidst the heavy gusts and mournful howlings of the wind, she had counted the clock, that, with a more than usually hollow sound, told twelve, one, two—Orlando certainly did not mean to come—no! it was unreasonable to suppose he would; unreasonable to flatter herself that he would quit a cheerful circle of his relations, to traverse the extensive commons and lanes, and all the park, that lay between West Wolverton and the Hall in such a night, when no person would think of going out but on life and death. Yet, while she thus argued with herself, a few tears involuntarily stole from her eyes; and as she gave up all hopes of his coming, and lay down in her clothes on her bed (for she had not the resolution to undress herself), she sighed deeply, and said to herself: And yet, if it had been me who was expected, I do not believe any storm could have hindered me from trying to see Orlando! and I am sure no company would.—Yet he is quite in the right, I know, and I do not blame him.

She could not, however fatigued and weary, close her eyes for some time. The clock at length struck 80 three; and soon after, wearied with watching and anxiety, she fell into unquiet repose.

Suddenly, without being conscious how long she had indulged it, she started from her sleep, and fancied she heard the well-known signal: she listened a moment; it was repeated. Trembling with joy, yet equally agitated by fear, she arose and answered it; and removing the impediments that were between them, and again lighting her candle, Orlando stepped into the room.

His clothes and his hair were streaming with water, and he said hastily, as he came through the hangings, You had given me over, my Monimia, had you not?—Long ago, replied she, with an apprehensive countenance, which yet was lightened up with pleasure. And now I am come, Monimia, reassumed he, you must suffer me to remain here, for I cannot get into my own room: the chapel doors, you know, are fastened within side, and by the usual way at this hour of the night it is impossible. I can stay but a moment; but I could not bear to be so many hours without seeing you; and besides, I had no means of letting you know why I went so suddenly from hence, and I fear you have been unhappy.

I should have been unhappy indeed, if Betty, who heard it from the servant who came for you, had not told me as a piece of news, that company had arrived unexpectedly at West Wolverton.—And in such a night, Orlando, was it possible to expect you could leave them to come so far? How good it is of you!—And yet you will suffer, I fear, from your wet clothes. Good God! what can I do to prevent your suffering?

Be not uneasy about that, my angel friend, replied Orlando; such trifles I never attend to, and 81 never suffer from; if you will let me sit down here with you, I will take off my great coat, and my other clothes are not so very wet. At this hour there will surely be nothing to apprehend from my staying here.

I hope not, said Monimia, I hope not, if we speak low. The wind is so high, that any trifling noise could hardly be heard by my aunt if she were upon the watch, which I hope she is not. You are generous to indulge me, answered Orlando; and I must be a monster to dream of injuring such innocence and candour. But, Monimia, there are a thousand uneasy thoughts continually crowding upon me about you. This Betty Richards—I am afraid she is a bad girl; I am sure she is an artful one; and there is an alliance of some sort or other between her and the old butler: you will never trust her, Monimia?

Never indeed, replied Monimia; for though she is of late much thrown in my way since my aunt has become more indolent from her accident, I never willingly am with her; nor do I indeed like her so well as I used to do.

Continue to keep yourself then from much intimacy, Monimia; for the conversation of such a girl, to a mind pure and unsullied like yours, is to be dreaded. It is coarse at least, if not vicious; and if it be not dangerous, is at all events improper. Discourage therefore her talking to you as much as you can, even about the tittle tattle of the house. Monimia most readily promised to obey him:—and then observing that he looked at her with a peculiar expression of uneasiness in his countenance, she said, But is that all, Orlando? Is there not something else that gives you concern? Yes, replied he; I will not conceal from you that there are many things. This wedding of my sister’s, though I most 82 sincerely rejoice that she is likely to be happily settled, seems to teem with troubles for me.

Monimia turned pale, but only clasped her hands together as she sat by him, and did not interrupt him. He went on.

My uncle Woodford piques himself extremely upon having brought about this marriage, for the father of the young man (a merchant at Corke in very great business) for some time positively refused his consent, because of Philippa’s want of fortune. My uncle, you know, or rather you do not know, is just the reverse of my mother, and is as bustling and spirited as she is mild and tranquil. Having got his money himself, he has no notion that any thing but money is worth thinking about, and that the money is best that is made in trade; and therefore, as he has only one son, who does not choose to take up his business, but is studying at the Temple, he has adopted a notion, that it would be much better for me to go with him to London, and learn his business of a wine merchant, to which I may succeed.

And marry one of your cousins, said Monimia in a faint voice, who are, you have told me, such pretty women? If that is part of his plan, answered Orlando, my Monimia, he has kept it to himself.—But I do not believe it is, as one of them is engaged, and the other would not think me either smart enough or rich enough. Whatever may be Mr. Woodford’s plan, however, that part of it will certainly never take effect; nor indeed will any of it, for I feel a total disin­clination to it.

Why then are you so distrest, Orlando, at the proposal?

Because I see it makes my father restless—not exactly the proposal, so much as the conversation my uncle has held with him.—He has been declaiming 83 against the folly of my dreaming away my time in waiting for a legacy from Mrs. Rayland; which after all, said he, the whimsical old woman may not give him—and what if she does? If she acts as she ought, the estate, you know, brother Somerive, ought to be your eldest son Phil’s; and if she gives the rest of your family three or four thousand pounds each, what will that do for your youngest son? Why, not give him salt to his porridge.

Dear papa, said Maria, what an expression!—Well, well, child, answered my uncle, I can’t stand to pick my words, when I am as anxious about a thing as I am about this—I say, and every man who knows the world will agree with me—I say, that a fine young fellow like my nephew here ought not to waste his life nailed to the gouty chair of a peevish old woman, who ten to one dies and bilks him at last. Let him be put into some way of doing for himself—every man who knows the world will agree with me—let him be put into some way of doing for himself; and then, if Mrs. Rayland has a mind to be a friend to him, take my word for it she’ll do it so much the sooner. I’m sure of it, for I’ve remarked it in my dealings among mankind, and every man who knows the world will agree with me, that people are always more ready to help those who are in a way of doing well, than those that hang about helpless. If Orlando here was in a way of getting forward in the world, why you’d see that the old girl would be twice as kind to him—or, if she was not, why he need not so much care.

I found, continued Orlando, that this discourse, though my father did not perfectly assent to the justice of all its arguments, made a deep impression on his mind, which had long been disturbed by the difficulty of finding for me some proper line of conduct 84 for my future establishment: and the determination is, that Mrs. Rayland is to be applied to for her opinion as to my sister’s marriage, by way of compliment; and in regard to me, by way of sounding her intentions. It appears to me to be all very bad policy; and I foresee nothing but vexation, perhaps my removal from hence.

Orlando paused a moment; and Monimia, with a deep and tremulous sigh, repeated, From hence!—Alas! Orlando, I have foreseen that the happiness I have so little a while enjoyed of seeing you would not last long!

I know not, replied he. I may be too easily alarmed; but, with the bustle and fuss my uncle makes about every thing he pursues, he seldom fails of carrying his point; and he is now elated with his success over the prudent and worldly-minded Mr. Fitz-Owen, and believes his interposition would every where prove as infallible as it has done in hurrying up this marriage for Philippa.

Do you think it then too much hurried? said Monimia.

I hardly know, replied he, how to think it otherwise. Mr. Fitz-Owen is a very young man: he only saw Philippa half a dozen times when she was in town last spring with my uncle; and he has insisted upon this match with as much vehemence as he could have done had he known all her good qualities.

That, said Monimia, is a very grave reflection. If Philippa has the good qualities of which the gentleman is ignorant, the discovery that beauty is her least perfection will increase his happiness.

But what does she know of him, Monimia? What opportunity can she have had to judge of a man with whom she is engaged to pass her life? 85 Surely the acquaintance of a fortnight is very insufficient to form her judgment of a character on which the happiness of her whole life is to depend. Mr. Fitz-Owen may be a very good-tempered and worthy man; but, as he is the native of another country, it is impossible we should know whether he is or no. However, I keep all these reflections to myself; for the affair is settled, and my father seems pleased with it. Philippa too seems to become attached to Mr. Fitz-Owen. There is something very flattering to a young woman in the attention and perseverance he has shewn. He has a good person, and she really I believe likes him.

But you do not, Orlando?

I do not dislike him—I only wish I knew more of his temper; and I wish too that my bustling busy uncle had not contrived to connect my affairs with those of this wedding, and to hurry every thing with a precipitation that hardly gives one time to breathe. It was only on Thursday evening that Fitz-Owen arrived from Dublin with his father’s consent: on Friday he delivered his credentials; and on Saturday the impetuous Mr. Woodford whirled him, with his own daughters and his officious self, down to us, where he pursues his plan with the same vehemence; for he has already settled with my father, that the letter to Mrs. Rayland is to be written to-morrow, and on Wednesday Philippa and Isabella, and, if Mrs. Rayland consents, I also, return with them to London, (Monimia shuddered, and checked an involuntary emotion she felt to implore Heaven aloud that Mrs. Rayland might be inexorably averse to this scheme), where, continued Orlando, the marriage is to take place as soon as the usual forms can be gone through—Philippa is to set off to Ireland with her husband, and Isabella is to remain the winter with 86 the Woodfords; my uncle being sure, he says, of getting her married as well as he has done Philly.

Alas! Orlando, you will go then; for Mrs. Rayland, however she may dislike such a proposal, will not, I am afraid, oppose it; there is something so odd in her temper, that, though she is offended if her advice is not asked, she will seldom give it when it is, especially if she believes any other person has been consulted first.

I understand her perfectly, my Monimia, and I see nothing but vexation gathering for me in every quarter. Alas! it is not one of the least, that, while these people remain, my father expects me to stay at home; though, as my brother is so good as to promise to come hither to-morrow, I think I might be spared.

And has your brother, said Monimia, been consulted on this plan of your going into business with your uncle?

Oh, yes! It was opened to him after dinner, while I had left the room a moment to consider by what means I could get to you; and I found him eagerly promoting it for reasons which I heartily forgive, while I thank God I feel myself incapable of harbouring such sentiments, towards him, could we change situations, I must follow my destiny, Monimia, whatever it may be; for I must not make my poor father, and still less my mother, unhappy. They have too many uneasy hours about Philip; and while the marriage of Philippa gives them some satisfaction, it shall not be embittered by any opposition of mine to what they may think right for me—and yet I own, Monimia, I own, that to go with Mr. Woodford, to be confined to that sort of business, would make me most completely wretched. He said this in a tone of voice so expressive of despondence, that Monimia, oppressed 87 as she was before, could conceal the anguish she felt no longer. Still, however, she tried to check the excess of her sorrow, while he tenderly soothed her, assuring her that, whatever might be his fate, he should love her to the end of his life; and if he thought that the drudgery of a few years at any business, however irksome to him, would enable him to pass the rest of his life in moderate competence with her, he would submit to it, not only as a duty, but as a blessing. And now, my Monimia, let us consider how we can meet to-morrow night—by that time something may more decidedly be known. I will come then early in the morning, before this letter, of which I dread the event, is sent; and, under pretence of enquiring how Mrs. Rayland does, and then of going into the study for some of my clothes, which I often leave there, I can open the chapel door, and prepare every thing for our going to the study the next evening; for to live without seeing you, Monimia, is impossible, and I fear to meet here often might be too hazardous.

It would indeed, replied Monimia, and even now I have been in misery the whole time—Yet it was so late, Orlando, before you came!

It was two o’clock before I could leave the company; for my uncle is a man who loves to sit long over his wine, to tell what he thinks good stories, and call for toasts and songs, suffering nobody to quit the room as long as they can distin­guish the glass from the candle. My father, very little used to this sort of conviviality, was tired, and left us to manage him as we could.—My brother would have remained with him till now, I dare say, most willingly; but he had promised to be at Stockton’s, with whom he now almost entirely lives, to a great hunting party this morning; and he dashed through 88 the rain about one o’clock. Fitz-Owen got extremely drunk, and was extremely noisy; and I found there was no way for me to escape but by feigning to be in the same situation; by which stratagem I was at length released; and flew, Monimia, with impatience to thee, dear source of all the happiness I have, or ever hope to have, on earth!

It was now so near the dawn of day, that Monimia besought him to consider the danger there was, if he staid longer, of being observed in his departure by the labourers coming to their work. Orlando owned there was something to fear, yet felt unusually reluctant to go, and lingered till the break of day was very visible through the casement. He then tore himself sway, and escaped from the turret without observation; but in crossing the park he was seen at a distance by the footman, who was up on some scheme of his own. As great rewards were offered for the detection of poachers, and the fellow concluded Orlando to be one, he hastily called one of the grooms; and they went round together to another part of the park, by which they thought this intruder must pass; and, as Orlando was mounting the stile, he was amazed to find himself suddenly collared by one man, and rudely seized by the arm by another. His uncommon strength and activity enabled him to disengage himself instantly from both. They as instantly discovered their mistake, and with a thousand apologies returned to the house: but this unlucky rencounter was afterwards talked of in the family; and though the conjectures to which it gave rise were remote from the truth, they yet failed not to disturb the tranquillity of the young lovers.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter VII

In this chapter we learn that Orlando’s two oldest siblings are named Philip and Philippa. This casts some doubt on the intelligence of their parents.

She thought both Mrs. Lennard and her aunt uncommonly peevish and tedious
[I think she means “Mrs. Rayland and her aunt”, since Mrs. Lennard is Monimia’s aunt, but I am rapidly losing inter— Whoops! I mean, losing track. The 2nd edition has the same apparent error.]

while the other fell asleep
text has a sleep

she started from her sleep, and fancied she heard the well-known signal
[If Monimia had a fully functioning brain, she would now realize that it is never necessary for her to sit up half the night waiting for Orlando, because she will hear him knocking anyway. She might even hear him more easily, since the door is conveniently right behind her bed.]

He has been declaiming against the folly of my dreaming away my time in waiting for a legacy from Mrs. Rayland
[See TV Tropes under the head of “Straw Man Has a Point”.]

to implore Heaven aloud that Mrs. Rayland might be inexorably averse to this scheme
[No problem there. Since the scheme is not of Mrs. Rayland’s own devising, she will naturally be averse to it.]

has your brother, said Monimia, been consulted on this plan
text has con-/consulted at line break

a verbal message returned
[Query: Has there been any time in the history of the English language when people did not use “verbal” for “oral”? Answer: I guess not.]

Another and another evening Orlando attended at the turret

Mr. Somerive determined to write to Mrs. Rayland

The Old Manor House:
Introduction and Contents


The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.