A sacred idea may be throned within the heart and "cherished with such fervency of regard, with such reverence of affection, as the devout anchorite more unreasonably pays to those sainted reliques that constitute the object of his adoration"
— Smollett, Tobias (1721-1777)
am still happy (said he) in being able to move your compassion, though I have been held unworthy of your esteem." "Do me justice, (she replied:) my best esteem has been always inseparably connected with the character of Sir Launcelot Greaves"-- "Is it possible? (cried our hero) then surely I have no reason to complain. If I have moved your compassion, and possess your esteem, I am but one degree short of supreme happiness-- that, however, is a gigantic step -- O Miss Darnel! when I remember that dear, that melancholy moment." --So saying, he gently touched her hand, in order to press it to his lips, and perceived on her finger the very individual ring which he had presented in her mother's presence, as an interchanged testimony of plighted faith. Starting at the well known object, the sight of which conjured up a strange confusion of ideas, "This (said he) was once the pledge of something still more cordial than esteem." Aurelia, blushing at
this remark, while her eyes lightened with unusual vivacity, replied, in a severer tone, "Sir, you best know how it lost its original signification." "By heaven! I do not, madam, (exclaimed our adventurer.) With me it was ever held a sacred idea throned within my heart, cherished with such fervency of regard, with such reverence of affection, as the devout anchorite more unreasonably pays to those sainted reliques that constitute the object of his adoration--" "And, like those reliques, (answered Miss Darnel) I have been insensible of my votary's devotion. --A saint I must have been, or something more, to know the sentiments of your heart by inspiration." "Did I forbear (said he) to express, to repeat, to enforce the dictates of the purest passion that ever warmed the human breast, until I was denied access, and formally discarded by that cruel dismission."-- "I must beg your pardon, Sir, (cried Aurelia, interrupting him hastily) I know not what you mean." "That fatal sentence, (said he) if not pronounced by your own lips, at least written by your own fair hand, which drove me out an exile for ever from the paradise of your affection." "I would not (she replied) do Sir Launcelot Greaves the injury to suppose him capable of imposition: but you talk of things to which I am an utter stranger. --I have a right, Sir, to demand of your honour, that you will not impute to me your breaking off a connection, which--I would--rather wish--had never." --"Heaven and earth! what do I hear? (cried our impatient knight) have I not the baleful letter to produce? What else but Miss Darnel's explicit and express declaration could have destroyed the sweetest hope that ever cheared my soul; could have obliged me to resign all claim to that felicity for which alone I wished to live; could have filled my bosom with unutterable sorrow and despair; could have even divested me of reason, and driven me from the society of men, a poor, forlorn, wandering lunatic, such as you see me now prostrate at your feet; all the blossoms of my youth withered, all the honours of my family decayed?"
The Adventures of Sir Launcelot Greaves. By the Author of Roderick Random. 2 vols. (London: Printed for J. Coote, 1762).
Note, first published serially in 25 consecutive issues of The British Magazine (January 1, 1760 to January 1, 1762), the novel was longest work of fiction yet to be serialized and the first to be illustrated.