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Damon and Delia A Tale

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Containing introductory matter.

The races at Southampton have, for time immemorial, constituted a scene of rivalship, war, and envy. All the passions incident to the human frame have here assumed as true a scope, as in the more noisy and more tragical contentions of statesmen and warriors. Here nature has displayed her most hidden attractions, and art has furnished out the artillery of beauty. Here the coquet has surprised, and the love-sick nymph has sapped the heart of the unwary swain. The scene has been equally sought by the bolder and more haughty, as by the timid sex. Here the foxhunter has sought a new subject of his boast in the nonchalance of dishabille; the peer has played off the dazzling charms of a coronet and a star; and the petit maitre has employed the anxious niceties of dress.

Of all the beauties in this brilliant circle, she, who was incomparably the most celebrated, was the graceful Delia. Her person, though not absolutely tall, had an air of dignity. Her form was bewitching, and her neck was alabaster. Her cheeks glowed with the lovely vermilion of nature, her mouth was small and pouting, her lips were coral, and her teeth whiter than the driven snow. Her forehead was bold, high, and polished, her eyebrows were arched, and from beneath them her fine blue eyes shone with intelligence, and sparkled with heedless gaiety. Her hair was of the brightest auburn, it was in the greatest abundance, and when, unfettered by the ligaments of fashion, it flowed about her shoulders and her lovely neck, it presented the most ravishing object that can possibly be imagined.

With all this beauty, it Cannot be supposed but that Delia was followed by a train of admirers. The celebrated Mr. Prattle, for whom a thousand fair ones cracked their fans and tore their caps, was one of the first to enlist himself among her adorers. Squire Savage, the fox-hunter, who, like Hippolitus of old, chased the wily fox and timid hare, and had never yet acknowledged the empire of beauty, was subdued by the artless sweetness of Delia. Nay, it has been reported, that the incomparable lord Martin, a peer of ten thousand pounds a year, had made advances to her father. It is true, his lordship was scarcely four feet three inches in stature, his belly was prominent, one leg was half a foot shorter, and one shoulder half a foot higher than the other. His temper was as crooked as his shape; the sight of a happy human being would give him the spleen; and no mortal man could long reside under the same roof with him. But in spite of these trifling imperfections, it has been confidently affirmed, that some of the haughtiest beauties of Hampshire would have been proud of his alliance.

Thus assailed with all the temptations that human nature could furnish, it might naturally be supposed, that Delia had long since resigned her heart. But in this conjecture, however natural, the reader will find himself mistaken. She seemed as coy as Daphne, and as cold as Diana. She diverted herself indeed with the insignificant loquaciousness of Mr....