Catherine was not so much engaged at the theatre that evening, in returnin_he nods and smiles of Miss Thorpe, though they certainly claimed much of he_eisure, as to forget to look with an inquiring eye for Mr. Tilney in ever_ox which her eye could reach; but she looked in vain. Mr. Tilney was n_onder of the play than the pump-room. She hoped to be more fortunate the nex_ay; and when her wishes for fine weather were answered by seeing a beautifu_orning, she hardly felt a doubt of it; for a fine Sunday in Bath emptie_very house of its inhabitants, and all the world appears on such an occasio_o walk about and tell their acquaintance what a charming day it is.
As soon as divine service was over, the Thorpes and Allens eagerly joined eac_ther; and after staying long enough in the pump-room to discover that th_rowd was insupportable, and that there was not a genteel face to be seen,
which everybody discovers every Sunday throughout the season, they hastene_way to the Crescent, to breathe the fresh air of better company. Her_atherine and Isabella, arm in arm, again tasted the sweets of friendship i_n unreserved conversation; they talked much, and with much enjoyment; bu_gain was Catherine disappointed in her hope of reseeing her partner. He wa_owhere to be met with; every search for him was equally unsuccessful, i_orning lounges or evening assemblies; neither at the Upper nor Lower Rooms,
at dressed or undressed balls, was he perceivable; nor among the walkers, th_orsemen, or the curricle-drivers of the morning. His name was not in th_ump-room book, and curiosity could do no more. He must be gone from Bath. Ye_e had not mentioned that his stay would be so short! This sort o_ysteriousness, which is always so becoming in a hero, threw a fresh grace i_atherine's imagination around his person and manners, and increased he_nxiety to know more of him. From the Thorpes she could learn nothing, fo_hey had been only two days in Bath before they met with Mrs. Allen. It was _ubject, however, in which she often indulged with her fair friend, from who_he received every possible encouragement to continue to think of him; and hi_mpression on her fancy was not suffered therefore to weaken. Isabella wa_ery sure that he must be a charming young man, and was equally sure that h_ust have been delighted with her dear Catherine, and would therefore shortl_eturn. She liked him the better for being a clergyman, "for she must confes_erself very partial to the profession"; and something like a sigh escaped he_s she said it. Perhaps Catherine was wrong in not demanding the cause of tha_entle emotion — but she was not experienced enough in the finesse of love, o_he duties of friendship, to know when delicate raillery was properly calle_or, or when a confidence should be forced.
Mrs. Allen was now quite happy — quite satisfied with Bath. She had found som_cquaintance, had been so lucky too as to find in them the family of a mos_orthy old friend; and, as the completion of good fortune, had found thes_riends by no means so expensively dressed as herself. Her daily expression_ere no longer, "I wish we had some acquaintance in Bath!" They were change_nto, "How glad I am we have met with Mrs. Thorpe!" and she was as eager i_romoting the intercourse of the two families, as her young charge an_sabella themselves could be; never satisfied with the day unless she spen_he chief of it by the side of Mrs. Thorpe, in what they called conversation,
but in which there was scarcely ever any exchange of opinion, and not ofte_ny resemblance of subject, for Mrs. Thorpe talked chiefly of her children,
and Mrs. Allen of her gowns.
The progress of the friendship between Catherine and Isabella was quick as it_eginning had been warm, and they passed so rapidly through every gradation o_ncreasing tenderness that there was shortly no fresh proof of it to be give_o their friends or themselves. They called each other by their Christia_ame, were always arm in arm when they walked, pinned up each other's trai_or the dance, and were not to be divided in the set; and if a rainy mornin_eprived them of other enjoyments, they were still resolute in meeting i_efiance of wet and dirt, and shut themselves up, to read novels together.
Yes, novels; for I will not adopt that ungenerous and impolitic custom s_ommon with novel-writers, of degrading by their contemptuous censure the ver_erformances, to the number of which they are themselves adding — joining wit_heir greatest enemies in bestowing the harshest epithets on such works, an_carcely ever permitting them to be read by their own heroine, who, if sh_ccidentally take up a novel, is sure to turn over its insipid pages wit_isgust. Alas! If the heroine of one novel be not patronized by the heroine o_nother, from whom can she expect protection and regard? I cannot approve o_t. Let us leave it to the reviewers to abuse such effusions of fancy at thei_eisure, and over every new novel to talk in threadbare strains of the tras_ith which the press now groans. Let us not desert one another; we are a_njured body. Although our productions have afforded more extensive an_naffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world,
no species of composition has been so much decried. From pride, ignorance, o_ashion, our foes are almost as many as our readers. And while the abilitie_f the nine-hundredth abridger of the History of England, or of the man wh_ollects and publishes in a volume some dozen lines of Milton, Pope, an_rior, with a paper from the Spectator, and a chapter from Sterne, ar_ulogized by a thousand pens — there seems almost a general wish of decryin_he capacity and undervaluing the labour of the novelist, and of slighting th_erformances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them. "I a_o novel-reader — I seldom look into novels — Do not imagine that I often rea_ovels — It is really very well for a novel." Such is the common cant. "An_hat are you reading, Miss — ?" "Oh! It is only a novel!" replies the youn_ady, while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentar_hame. "It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda"; or, in short, only som_ork in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the mos_horough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties,
the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in th_est-chosen language. Now, had the same young lady been engaged with a volum_f the Spectator, instead of such a work, how proudly would she have produce_he book, and told its name; though the chances must be against her bein_ccupied by any part of that voluminous publication, of which either th_atter or manner would not disgust a young person of taste: the substance o_ts papers so often consisting in the statement of improbable circumstances,
unnatural characters, and topics of conversation which no longer concer_nyone living; and their language, too, frequently so coarse as to give n_ery favourable idea of the age that could endure it.