Page:Austen Sanditon and other miscellanea.djvu/79

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53
SANDITON

been contemplated by the Authors. Though he owed many of his ideas to this sort of reading, it were unjust to say that he read nothing else, or that his Language were not formed on a more general Knowledge of modern Literature. He read all the Essays, Letters, Tours and Criticisms of the day, and with the same ill-luck which made him derive only false Principles from Lessons of Morality, and incentives to Vice from the History of its Overthrow, he gathered only hard words and involved sentences from the style of our most approved Writers.

Sir Edward’s great object in life was to be seductive. With such personal advantages as he knew himself to possess, and such Talents as he did also give himself credit for, he regarded it as his Duty. He felt that he was formed to be a dangerous Man, quite in the line of the Lovelaces. The very name of Sir Edward, he thought, carried some degree of fascination with it. To be generally gallant and assiduous about the fair, to make fine speeches to every pretty Girl, was but the inferior part of the Character he had to play. Miss Heywood, or any other young Woman with any pretensions to Beauty, he was entitled (according to his own views of Society) to approach with high Compliment and Rhapsody on the slightest acquaintance; but it was Clara alone on whom he had serious designs; it was Clara whom he meant to seduce. Her seduction was quite determined on. Her Situation in every way called for it. She was his rival in Lady Denham’s favour, she was young, lovely and dependant. He had very early seen the necessity of the case, and had now been long trying with cautious assiduity to make an impression on her heart, and to undermine her Principles. Clara saw through him, and had not the least intention of being seduced; but she bore with him patiently enough to confirm the sort of attachment which her personal Charms had raised. A