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Chapter 15
I Pay Court To My Lady Lyndon
As my uncle's attainder was not reversed for being out with the Pretender in 1745, it
would have been inconvenient for him to accompany his nephew to the land of our
ancestors; where, if not hanging, at least a tedious process of imprisonment, and a
doubtful pardon, would have awaited the good old gentleman. In any important crisis of
my life, his advice was always of advantage to me, and I did not fail to seek it at this
juncture, and to implore his counsel as regarded my pursuit of the widow. I told him the
situation of her heart, as I have described it in the last chapter; of the progress that young
Poynings had made in her affections, and of her forgetfulness of her old admirer; and I
got a letter, in reply, full of excellent suggestions, by which I did not fail to profit. The
kind Chevalier prefaced it by saying, that he was for the present boarding in the Minorite
convent at Brussels; that he had thoughts of making his salut there, and retiring for ever
from the world, devoting himself to the severest practices of religion. Meanwhile he
wrote with regard to the lovely widow: it was natural that a person of her vast wealth and
not disagreeable person should have many adorers about her; and that, as in her husband's
lifetime she had shown herself not at all disinclined to receive my addresses, I must make
no manner of doubt I was not the first person whom she had so favoured; nor was I likely
to be the last.
'I would, my dear child,' he added, 'that the ugly attainder round my neck, and the
resolution I have formed of retiring from a world of sin and vanity altogether, did not
prevent me from coming personally to your aid in this delicate crisis of your affairs; for,
to lead them to a good end, it requires not only the indomitable courage, swagger, and
audacity, which you possess beyond any young man I have ever known' (as for the
'swagger,' as the Chevalier calls it, I deny it in toto, being always most modest in my
demeanour); 'but though you have the vigour to execute, you have not the ingenuity to
suggest plans of conduct for the following out of a scheme that is likely to be long and
difficult of execution. Would you have ever thought of the brilliant scheme of the
Countess Ida, which so nearly made you the greatest fortune in Europe, but for the advice
and experience of a poor old man, now making up his accounts with the world, and about
to retire from it for good and all?
'Well, with regard to the Countess of Lyndon, your manner of winning her is quite en l'air
at present to me; nor can I advise day by day, as I would I could, according to
circumstances as they arise. But your general scheme should be this. If I remember the
letters you used to have from her during the period of the correspondence which the silly
woman entertained you with, much high-flown sentiment passed between you; and
especially was written by her Ladyship herself: she is a blue-stocking, and fond of
writing; she used to make her griefs with her husband the continual theme of her
correspondence (as women will do). I recollect several passages in her letters bitterly
deploring her fate in being united to one so unworthy of her.