Or Invisible Rambler
In Three Volumes
By Victoria., Author of
Printed for Mathew Carey, Bookseller, South Market
Street, near Fourth. 17941794
To Lady Cockburne,
The following pages are most humbly inscribed, as a small mark of the gratitude which will ever glow undiminished (while life remains) in the Breast of
I can’t for my life ſee the neceſſity of it, ſaid I; there are numbers of books publiſhed without prefaces.
But you do not conſider, ſaid my friend, that this book abſolutely requires a preface—it is the adventures of a gentleman who poſſeſſed a magic ring: and ſeemingly thoſe adventures are written by himſelf, but you give no account how they came into your hands?
Why they came into my hands through my brain, friend, ſaid I.—Theſe adventures are merely the children of Fancy. I muſt own that the beſt part of them originated in facts.
But why do you make your Inquiſitor a man? ſaid he.
For a very obvious reaſon, I replied. A man may be with propriety brought forward in many ſcenes, where it would be the height of improbabilityviii A4v viii bility to introduce a woman. —I might, to be ſure, continued I, have introduced the following pages by ſaying I had found them in a hackney-coach; or met with part of them by accident at a paſtry- cook’s or cheeſe-monger’s, and being intereſted by the narrative, I ſent back for the remainder; or they might have been left in a lodging by ſome eccentric old gentleman, who had lived there for many years ; and thinking the world would be greatly obliged to me for ſuffering ſuch a valuable manuſcript to be printed, I was prevailed on by the earneſt entreaties of my friends, to commit it to the hands of the bookſeller.
I know, Sir, this is the uſual method of uſhering theſe kind of publications into the world— but, for my own part, I will honeſtly confeſs that this work was written ſolely for my amuſement. As to the motives that induced me to publiſh it, they can be of no conſequence for the reader to be informed of, therefore they ſhall remain a ſecret.
But ſure, ſaid my friend, you will make ſome apology for attempting to write in the ſtyle of the inimitable Sterne?ix A5r ix
Is the perſon required to make an apology who copies a portrait painted by an eminent maſter, ſaid I; or ſhould he fail of retaining, in his copy, the fine ſtrokes, the beautiful and ſtriking expresſion in the features of the faultleſs original ; is he to tear his picture, or commit it to the flames, becauſe he has not the genius of the artiſt whoſe work he copied? Or, ſuppoſe a man admired his Sovereign’s exalted virtues, and with a laudable ambition ſtrove to imitate them; is he, becauſe he is conſcious of not having the abilities to ſhine in the moſt eminent degree, not to endeavour to imitate them at all; or to hide from the world the progreſs he makes?
No, certainly, ſaid my friend; but have you the vanity to ſuppoſe that your writings are the leaſt tinctured with that ſpirit and fire, which are ſo conſpicuous in the works of your bright original?
By no means, ſaid I; but I think, as the ſtars ſhine brighteſt when neither the ſun nor moon are in the firmament, ſo, perhaps, when the works of Sterne are not at hand, the Inquiſitor may be read with ſome ſmall degree of attention, and afford the reader a little amusement; but ſhould x A5v x Maria or Le Fevre make their appearance, its weak rays will be extinguiſhed by the tear of ſenſibility, which the love-lorn virgin and dying ſoldier would excite.
Then you do not intend to write a preface? ſaid my friend.
Upon my word, I replied, I have begun ſeveral, but I never could write one to pleaſe me; ſo I have at laſt determined to publiſh it without, and leave it to the readers to form what conjecture they pleaſed concerning how I came poſſeſſed of the papers which contained the adventures.
That will never do, ſaid he, ſhaking his head.
Then prithee, my good friend, ſaid I, do write a preface for me; for here I have been hammering my pericranium and biting my nails theſe two hours, without being able to beat out a ſingle ſentence, either introductory or prefatory.
Suppoſe, ſaid he, you preſent your readers with our converſation; it will be better than no preface at all.
It was a lucky thought, and I inſtantly ſet about it.xi A6r xi
Gentle Reader, I here commit to your kind patronage this offspring of Fancy; my characters are not pointed at particular perſons, except one or two, where gratitude involuntarily guided my pen; it was then I delineated the characters of a Lady Allworth, and the family of the amiable ſisters at H-m—rſ—th.
As to thoſe characters which appear in an unamiable light, I neither wiſh or mean for any perſon to ſay that this is meant for Mr. or Mrs. ſuch a one; but I would wiſh every perſon who may think the character was deſigned for themſelves, to remember that the likeneſs was accidentally taken, and it is conſcience only that makes it appear ſo ſtriking to their imagination.
The Inquisitor, &c.
Iſhould like to know the certainty of it, ſaid I, putting the petition into my pocket.—It contained an account of an unfortunate tradeſman reduced to want, with a wife and three ſmall children.—He aſked not charity for himſelf, but them. —I ſhould like to know the certainty of it, ſaid I — there are ſo many feigned tales of diſtreſs, and the world is ſo full of duplicity, that in following the dictates of humanity, we often encourage idleneſs. —Could I but be ſatiſfied of the authenticity of this man’s ſtory, I would do ſomething for him.
Will your honour pleaſe to ſend an answer?—ſaid the child, that brought the petition.
I had forgot her—by the unaffected innocence of her countenance, ſhe could ſcarcely have ſeen nine years.—Meekneſs ſmiled in her ſweet eyes—what a lovely flower, ſaid I—’tis a pity the chilling breath of ſorrow ſhould visit thee too rudely—I gave her half a guinea, and bid her tell her father to come to me the next morning.
How happy ſhould I be, if ſome good fairy, as in days of yore, would give me the power of viſiting, unſeen, the receptacles of the miſerable, and the habitations of vice and luxury.—What a ſatisfaction I ſhould feel in rewarding and ſupporting merit; or withdrawing the veil, and diſcovering the hideous aſpect of hypoſcriſy. Beſides, ſays ſelf-love, I ſhould then have an opportunity of diſcovering the ſentiments of the world concerning myſelf. I ſhould find my real friends, and detect my enemies. —If half my fortune could procure ſuch a power, I would freely give it.
Search your heart, replies a ſoft voice, and ſee if it is not an unwarrantable curioſity, rather than a real wiſh to do good, that now inſpires you.
It is ſtrange, ſaid I; I hear a voice, but ſee no perſon near me; surely I do not dream!
Be not ſurpriſed, continued my inviſible companion, I am your guardian genius, and have it in my power to comply with your wiſhes, provided they are corrected by reaſon.—Look on that table, and you will ſee a ring, which, when on your finger, will render you inviſible; and, as long as humanity, honor, or friendſhip, leads you to uſe it; it will contribute to your happineſs; but whenever you endeavour to make it ſubſervient to any unworthy purpoſe, it will lead you into innumerable difficulties.15 B2r 15
I thanked the kind genius, inſtantly ſeized the treaſure, put it on my finger, and, eager to try the experiment, walked out.
I’ll bet you ten to one, ſaid a noted gambler to another; —they were walking arm in arm—I’ll bet you ten to one I am married before this day fortnight. —You are a lucky dog, Cogdie, replied his companion, to obtain ſo lovely a woman as Meliſſa, and twenty thouſand pounds into the bargain.
D—n the woman, ſaid the wretch, it is the money I want: by Heavens I have not five guineas left in the world, and am twice as many hundred in debt. If I do not ſucceed in this matrimonial ſcheme, I ſhall go to limbo.—There’s an old prying cat of a maid, ean aunt stands deviliſhly in the way, or I could eaſily dupe the old dad.—As to Meliſſa herſelf, ſhe’s ſuch a mere ſimpleton in the ways of the world, that it requires but a ſmall ſhare of art to make her believe almoſt any thing.
By this time they had reached the houſe of the intended victim, when finding my ring had the deſired effect, I entered the houſe with her betrayer. His companion wiſhed him good morning, and I, without heſitation, followed him up ſtairs.
The Drawing Room.
A venerable old man was ſitting on a ſopha; the hoary ornaments of his head inspired the mind 16 B2v 16 with awe, while the benignity of his countenance encouraged and invited friendſhip.—Beſide him, reading Thomſon’s Seaſons, ſat his daughter, lovely and blooming as Aurora, when with roſy fingers, on a ſweet May morn, ſhe unbars the gates of light. —As Cogdie approached, her features were enlivened with a glow that plainly told me her heart was not her own; and the cordiality with which her father received him, evinced the integrity of his own heart, as he ſuſpected not the integrity of another. After the uſual compliments, the little party being ſeated, Cogdie informed the old gentleman that he had been prevented the honor or dining with him that day by a tradeſman, to whom he owed about thirty pounds, which, as he had not lately received remittances from his father, he found it inconvenient juſt then to pay; that the man would take no denial, but had threatened to arreſt him. I muſt be obliged to borrow this paltry ſum, continued he, till I can write again to my father.— You ſhall not be diſtreſſed for ſuch a trifle, ſaid the old gentleman, I will lend it to you.
He left the room to get the money, when the unfeeling Cogdie made uſe of that opportunity to perſuade the heedleſs unſuſpecting Meliſſa to elope.
Thou art worſe than a midnight ruffian, ſaid I— thou art ſtealing the peace of a man who is at this moment contributing to thine. They had juſt time to appoint the day, hour, and place of rendezvous, when Meliſſa’s father returned with the money.— I had heard enough, and quitted the room as the old gentleman entered.
That a man who has a wife and numerous family of children, and ſees them plunged the deepest diſtreſs, ſhould rob to keep them from ſtarving, is not a matter of ſurpriſe—and while ſtern Juſtice holds the balance, angel-like pity gently turns the ſcale. But that a man in full health and vigour, with ſtrength and abilities to ſupport himself, who has no weeping wife or famiſhed children to urge him to the deed, ſhould cozen and defraud his beſt friend, debauch the morals of an innocent girl, and plunge her into ruin, only to obtain a larger ſhare of ſordid ore, is to me unaccountable. It is an act that makes humanity ſhrink back aghast: Juſtice, with frowns, unſheaths her ſword, and pity weeps but for the offender’s crimes.
I will reſcue Meliſſa, ſaid I—ſhe may hereafter thank me. The thought filled my mind with unuſual complacency.—I enjoyed in idea the ſatisfaction and gratitude of her father, when he beheld his darling reſcued from the jaws of deſtruction.
It was a fine evening in the month of June; ſo removing the ring from my finger, I ſtepped into a fruiterer’s, purchaſed a bottle of ſtrawberries, walked into the Park, and ſeated myself in one of the chairs.—My mind was at that moment a ſort of vacuum, my thoughts unemployed, when caſting my eyes upon the paper that covered the ſtrawberries, I perceived it was part of a fairy tale, but wrote in an uncommon poetic ſtyle.
Fair Cynthia now, bright Empreſs of the night,
Mounted her azure thone, with diamonds ſtudded;
Her modeſt face, veil’d in a fleecy cloud,
Which, as it partly hid, heighten’d her beauties.
When fair Alzada, weary and forlorn,
Penſive ſat down beſide a murm’ring ſtream,
With nought to ſhield her from nocturnal dews,
Saving an ancient oak, whoſe ſturdy boughs
Had brav’d the ſtorms of many a winter paſt.
Her lovely head reclin’d upon her hand;
Her eyes were rais’d with fervour toward Heav’n.
In thoſe bright orbs ſtarted a pearly drop,
Which, as it fell, another took its place,
And that, too, fell and kiſs’d its pleaſing way
In quick ſucceſſion down her ruby cheeks.
Ah! me, ſhe cried, how wretched is my fate,
Forc’d from my royal parents, and my home;
What hoſpitable roof will now receive me,
Or where ſhall poor Azalda lay her head.
In this lone wild I ſee no trace of mortals;
No lowing herds beſpeaks a manſion near:
No bleating flock breaks this moſt ſolemn ſilence;
And ere another heavy hour is paſt,
Perhaps ſome ſavage monſter, fierce for prey,
On me may ſatisfy his craving hunger.
The genius Abradan beheld her ſorrows;
In a plain ruſtic form conceal’d his own,
And thus addreſs’d the ſadly weeping fair:
Fair daughter of affliction, follow me;
I come to lead you to a feſtive board,19 B4v 19
Where ſocial mirth and innocence preſide,
And where the ſmiling hoſt ſhall bid you welcome.
The trembling princeſs left her moſſy ſeat,
And without ſpeaking, followed her kind guide.
When ſudden clouds obſcur’d the face of Heav’n;
The thunders roll’d, the forked lightnings flaſh’d,
And all around was horror and amazement;
Alzadaſunk in terror to the ground.
A death-like ſwoon ſeal’d up each active ſenſe.
The tempeſt ceas’d. ſhe rais’d her fearful eyes,
And ſaw before her a fair lofty palace:
The gates were ſolid braſs; and the ſupporters
Marble, twin’d round with vine leaves wrought in
She enter’d, and was inſtantly ſurrounded
By ſeven young virgins, clad in azure blue,
With alabaſter vaſes in their hands,
Who paid the homage to a princeſs due.
They ſhed around her numberleſs perfumes,
And o’er her threw a robe, of ſpotleſs white,
Then led her to a room within the palace,
Where, on a throne of amethyſt and gold,
There ſat a monarch of majeſtic port;
Who, riſing, welcom’d the admiring princeſs,
And plac’d her on a ſhining throne beſide him.
They brought her baſkets of the choiceſt fruits,
And water from the pureſt limpid ſtream.
Alzada, being refreſh’d, roſe from her ſeat,
And thus addreſs’d the maſter of the feaſt:
Whoe’er thou art, great king, whoſe magic pow’r
Has brought me to this place, where fartheſt Ind’
Seems to have empti’d her exhauſtleſs ſtore
To add to its magnificence:20 B4v 20
Say, can you guide a helpleſs wand’ring maid,
To find the home where late ſhe was ſo bleſt;
From whence the ſorcereſs Zeluba forc’d her,
And left her parents to bewail her loſs.
To which the monarch, with a ſmile, reply’d,
Lovely Azalda, faireſt of thy ſex,
Whoſe charms triumphant rule this royal heart,
Dry up thy tears. By this right hand I ſwear,
Ere Phoebus harneſſes his fiery ſteeds,
And leaves his ſea-green couch to viſit mortals,
I will conduct you to your father’s court,
And guard you from the vile Zelubia’s pow’r.
Slaves bring my chariot. Bid the virgins wait,
And ſtrew freſh flow’rs where’er Azalda treads.
The chariot was of curious workmanſhip,
Ivory, gold, coral, and precious ſtones;
Around it hover’d little laughing loves;
And on each ſide were rang’d fair village maids,
With lutes and harps, tabors and ſhepherds’ pipes,
Singing and playing ſoft harmonious airs.
Eight milk-white ſteeds,
I turned the paper, but there was no more— There are times when the mind is affected by mere trifles; ſuch now was my case—I was vexed at not finding the concluſion of the ſtory, and determined to go back to the fruiterer’s, and inquire if they had the remainder.—A few moments brought me to the place.
A crowd was aſſembled before the door. Forgetting what I came for, friend, ſaid I—addreſſing 21 B5r 21 myſelf to the maſter of the ſhop, can you tell me the cauſe of this buſtle?—It is a very extraordinary one, Sir, he replied.— A boy about ten years old, going to a ſhop hard by to purchaſe ſomething for his mother, was recollected by a tradeſman to whom his father owed a conſiderable ſum of money, and who had juſt before employed a bailiff to arreſt him.— The man inquired of the child where his father lived, and upon his refuſing to tell, offered him money, and promiſed him a great many fine things; but finding that plan equally ineffectual, he proceeded to threats. Upon which, the boy burſt into tears, and ſeating himſelf upon ſome ſteps oppoſite, declared he would ſtay there all night, rather than give them an opportunity of ſending his father to jail.
The boy has the ſpirit of a Roman, ſaid I.—Now many a man will feel the bluſh of conſcious guilt upon his cheek, when he ſhall be told of this; for, Oh! ſhame to humanity and manhood, how many would ſell their country through avarice, or betray it through fear.—While this magnanimous boy refuſes a bribe, though poverty might induce him to take it, and dares brave the threats of an inhuman wretch, rather than betray his father, though his childhood might excuſe even cowardice.—I will go and ſpeak to the creditor, ſaid I—perhaps I may perſuade him to rob his deſign of arreſting the poor man, and then I will follow the boy home.
Pray, Sir, how much does this boy’s father owe you?
Eighteen pounds, replied the man.
And are you really diſtreſſed for the money?
No; thank my prudence for that; I have taken care of the main chance, and not like Heartfree, loved others more than myſelf.
I fear you have not loved them ſo well, my friend.
Why no, to be ſure! I follow the firſt law of nature,
And why not follow the firſt rule of Chriſtianity, to do as you would be done by?
Why look ye, Sir; I always pay my debts punctually, and I expect others ſhould pay me as punctually.
Certainly.—But ſuppoſe a man who has an honeſt heart, ſhould, by unavoidable miſfortunes, be rendered unable to diſcharge his debts; is it not better to truſt to his honor, rather than by confining him, put it entirely out of his power to pay you at all?
Truſt to his honor—eh! you know but little of this world, to talk at that rate: why this very Heartfree was ruined by truſting to a perſon’s honor. An old officer lodged in his houſe for many years, borrowed money of him, run in his debt for linen for his whole family, and when I have talked to Heartfree about the impropriety of his conduct in not aſking for payment, he would anſwer—I am ſure he will pay me whenever he has it in his power, —but before it was in his power, he died, leaving four children without the leaſt ſupport. The eldeſt was 23 B6r 23 about twenty; a fine young girl to be ſure, but ſhe had been brought up in idleneſs. ſhe could embroider, draw, dance, ſing, and play upon the ſpinnet; but that would not keep her; ſo I adviſed Heartfree to try and get her a place to wait on a lady. To put the two young girls out apprentice, and take the boy to go of errands, clean ſhoes, knives, &c. in his own kitchen; but he, forſooth, ſaid no; the children of a man who had ſpent his days in the ſervice of his country, ſhould never want an aſylum while he had a houſe; nor the innocent orphans want a friend, while he lived: ſo he married the eldeſt, and put her ſiſters to ſchool, where, luckily, they both died.—The boy he ſent to the Eaſt-Indies about ſeven years ago, after spending an enormous ſum on his education.—His wife bred very faſt, and was quite the fine lady; ſo what with extravagance, and a few loſſes, from being one of the firſt linen-drapers in the city, he has become bankrupt, and, as I ſuppoſe, has not bread to eat.
And for his humanity, ſaid I—you would reward him with a priſon; rob his wife and children of their only comfort, the preſence of their father and their friend—and of what uſe will it be to you?
I don’t know that it will be of much uſe to me he replied; but it will teach Heartfree to remember himſelf before others, another time.
The remembrance of what he has done for others, ſaid I, ſo far from ſitting painful on his mind, will ſmooth the thorny pillow of diſtreſs, and make even a priſon pleaſant; he ſhall ſleep ſoundly on a bed of ſtraw, and dream of thoſe whoſe ſorrows he has lightened, while you ſhall feel ſcorpions on a bed of 24 B6v 24 down: nor ſhall the ſweet reſtorer of tired nature viſit you, unleſs it be to fright you with ſome dreadful of priſons and ſtarving wretches.
I turned from him with honeſt indignation, and calling to the fruiterer, gave him the money to diſcharge the debt.—I would not truſt myſelf to ſpeak to the man again, who could ſo ſhamefully trample on the laws of humanity.— The poor boy was weeping, his face hid with his hands. Go home, child, ſaid I—your father’s debt is paid. He ſtaid not to thank me; but the pleaſure that ſparkled in his eye, the agility with which he ſprang from his ſeat, and flew towards his home, conveyed a greater pleaſure to my heart, than the moſt eloquent effuſions of gratitue.—I was willing to be a witneſs of his relating the ſtory to his parents, ſo putting on my ring, I followed him unſeen.
As I aſcended a narrow winding ſtair-caſe, I perceived in a ſmall room, the door of which was partly open, an elegantly-formed woman, ſitting on the ſide of a wretched bed, on which lay a man, the picture of famine. On her knee ſat a lovely infant, who with her little hand was wiping off the tears that trickled down her mother’s cheeks.—The little boy, breathleſs with impatience, ruſhed into the room—Papa—Mamma—’tis paid—you ſhall not go to priſon—I would not tell where you lived; indeed he was very angry; but that good gentleman—25 C1r 25
My dear boy, cried the fond mother, why do you talk ſo incoherently? Who has frightened my child? What is the matter with you?
He endeavoured to tell his ſtory with propriety.— It was in vain, joy had entirely unconnected his ideas; but he made himſelf underſtood.
Oh! thou ſenſualiſt, couldſt thou but in imagination taſte the luxury of my feelings at this moment, thou wouldſt henceforth forego the gratification of thy groſſer appetites, to feaſt thy mind with the higheſt of human pleaſures.
I ſaw the honeſt fruiterer enter with ſome ſupplies which I had judged might be neceſſary for people in their condition. He repeated every circumſtance, only concealing my name.
I was preparing to leave the room, when a child entered, whom I inſtantly knew to be my little petitioner— I will ſee thee again tomorrow, ſaid I— but now will ſeek my lovely Emma, and engage her in thy behalf.
It was more than I could conveniently afford, ſaid I—when I found how much money I had expended. Twenty pounds is a good ſum, but it will coſt me much more before I have placed Heartfree in a ſituation more ſuitable to his merit—but no matter, I will diſcharge one of my ſervants: why ſhould I keep two footmen, when a man of greater worth is in want of even the common neceſſaries of life?— C 26 C1v 26 my dear Emma will, I am ſure, agree to this propoſal.—My phaeton and horſes, too, I will diſpoſe of; one carriage is enough; what buſineſs have I with ſuperfluities? the money this requires will be much better employed in relieving the unfortunate. I will be generous, but I will not be imprudent—my Emma, and her dear little Harriet, ſhall not ſuffer for my benevolence.
I had reached my own manſion; a ſmile of chearfulneſs, that ever graced my Emma’s face, bade me welcome.
I communicated my propoſal, and relocated Heartfree’s caſe.—ſhe ſmiled aſſent, and the ſmile was rendered doubly enchanting, accompanied by the tear of ſenſibility.
Retiring, I paſſed through my Harriet’s chamber — ſweet are the ſlumbers of the innocent. I feaſted my eyes upon her infant beauties, and retired to reſt with a mind ſo ſerene, that I envied not the greateſt monarch, and forgave even my bittereſt enemies.
The Morning Ramble.
Who will pretend to ſay that early riſing does not afford us many pleaſures, and contribute to our health?—how charming to ſee the beauteous orb of day, riſing ſupremely bright, to enliven nature, and tinge with gold the lofty mountains’ tops.—The country is the place to enjoy theſe beauties; but even near London we may find pleaſant walks.—I had aſcended a hill—how charming was the proſpect— 27 C2r 27 fields crowned with riſing plenty; the peaſants blithly ſinging as they labour.—Theſe people ſeem happy, but they are not to be envied; they work hard for their bread, and if their rude, unpoliſhed minds are callous and unfeeling in diſtreſs, they are likewiſe inſenſible to many of the pleaſures that await them; the works of nature afford them no ſatiſfaction, becauſe they cannot contemplate their beauties; yet their minds are ſuited to their ſtation; refinement would be no bleſſing to them, and the beſt ſecurity the peaſant has for happineſs, is ignorance.
Theſe were my reflections, as I rambled towards Hampſtead.
Give me a draught of milk, my dear, ſaid I, to a roſy damſel.—She bluſhed, curtſied aukwardly, and complied—ſhe trembled as ſhe preſented it.
Were you ever in love? ſaid I, as I took the milk. Never but once, and pleaſe your honor.
And are you not in love now? No.
No! and how happens that? I am going to be married to-morrow.
And you don’t think love neceſſary in matrimony? Father ſays I ſhall love my huſband as ſoon as I am married.
And pray who was you in love with? Colin; his cottage was cloſe to ours; we were born on the same day, and when we were children we uſed to play together. If Colin had ſome fruit he would ſave a part for me; and when ſtrange gentlemen ladies gave him half-pence, he ſhared them 28 C2v 28 with me: when we grew older, he would tend my ſheep, watch my young lambs, and bring home my cows; and if I’d had a brother, your honor, he could not have been kinder, nor, I am ſure, I could not have loved him better; ſo he axed father to let us be married; but Colin was a ſhepherd’s boy, and I was father’s only child, ſo he ſaid he could give me fifty pounds, and I might have a match better than Colin—ſo we kiſſed and parted— and tomorrow I am to be married to farmer Willſon, who is old and lame, but he ſays I ſhall have a mort of fine things —tho’, to tell the truth, I had rather wear my own linſey jacket, and be married to Colin.
And ſo you ſhall, my ſweet ſimple ruſtic, ſaid I— Her father was one of my tenants—I took out my pocket-book, wrote a line or two on my tablet, and bade her give it to her father.
What a curſe this pride is, ſaid I, as I directed my ſteps towards London—but that this haughty dame ſhould ſtoop to inhabit a cottage, is wondrous ſtrange—Why a peer of the realm could but have made his daughter miſerable, to preſerve the dignity of his houſe, but in the name of common ſenſe, what has a peaſant to do with pride of family?
The Inn Yard.
My dear friend, you are heartily welcome to town, ſaid a ſpruce-dreſſed citizen, as he helped his country friend to alight from the Norfolk ſtage. Pray come home with me; I expect you will make my 29 C3r 29 houſe your own while you ſtay in town; there is nothing in my power I will not do to make it agreeable to you. I have depended upon your company; my whole houſe is at your ſervice.
This over-acted complaiſance made me ſuſpect his ſincerity, or that he had ſome ſiniſter point in view; ſo putting my ring on my finger, I followed them home.
I am greatly obliged to you, ſaid the country gentleman, as he ſat down to the breakfaſt table; the invitation you have given me is very acceptable; I have loſt the eſtate I have been ſo long at law about, for want of ſufficient evidence; and after I have paid the coſts, I shall not have more than two hundred pounds left, with which I mean to purchaſe an annuity; therefore I ſhall make your houſe my home, till I can ſettle my affairs.
It may be ſome time before you can ſettle your buſineſs to your satiſfaction, replied the citizen, his features contracting into cold civility; and I expect a gentleman to take my firſt floor in about a week; I am very ſorry I cannot accomodate you longer.
My dear Mr. Woollet, cried the wife, haſtily entering, I am vaſtly glad to ſee you.
Mr. Woollet has loſt his lawſuit, my dear, ſaid the huſband.
The ſmile of welcome was inſtantly changed into a look of amazement—She had advanced to give him C2 30 C3v 30 her hand, but on his attempting to ſalute her, ſhe withdrew her cheek, exclaiming, I am ſorry for his diſappointment—and began to make the tea.
He drank two diſhes of tea, and then aſked his friend to lend him two guineas.— He had it not in the houſe.— Trade was very precarious—again mentioned his expected lodger, and recommended a mean room to his friend, at half a crown per week, in an obſcure lane in the city.
Oh! ſelf-intereſt, how doſt thou deaden every virtue; lead to hypocriſy and vice, and make us what we ſhould be aſhamed to own, mean, avaricious, and unfeeling.—Would I change the feeling heart for all the intereſted views this world affords? Oh, no! give me ſenſibility to feel another’s woe, and I ſhall then feel, as I ought, my own happineſs.
It is vexatious, ſaid Mr. Woollet, as he aroſe from breakfaſt, that I cannot ſtay here, as I have no ready money to procure a lodging.—No anſwer was made.
Can’t I have a room on your ſecond floor, Mrs. Saveall?
Really, Sir, they are all occupied.
I do not know what to do; I muſt beg you to lend me half a guinea till next week.
I cannot, upon my word, Sir.
Mr. Woollet ſummoned up a look of expreſſive anger and contempt, and fixing his eyes on his falſe friend, cried, He who can refuſe half a guinea to 31 C4r 31 my neceſſities, shall never ſhare my proſperity.— Know, ſelfish man, I have gained my cauſe, and am, at this moment, maſter of two thouſand pounds per annum. Then turning from them, haſtily left the houſe.
I ſtood for a moment to view their confuſion; they ſpoke not a word, but giving each other the keeneſt looks of reproach, ſeparated in ſullen ſilence.
At that inſtant, Heartfree ſhot acroſs my mind, I quitted the houſe, and removing the ring from my finger, walked home.
She was liſtening with attention to Heartfree, who was relating the ſtory of laſt night. She knew it before, but ſtill it was pleaſing, for it was in praiſe of the man ſhe loved.—Harriet had made an acquaintance with my little petitioner; was diſplaying her toys, and teaching her to dreſs her doll.
I have made you wait, my Emma, ſaid I—Heartfree roſe from his ſeat, bowed, and caſt down his eyes, while his cheeks were dyed with crimſon—it was a bluſh neither expreſſive of guilt nor ſhame— it was a bluſh occaſioned only by the pain a noble heart feels when in a ſtate of deſpondence. I took no notice of it, but began a converſation on indifferent ſubjects—his confuſion gradually decreaſed, and in leſs than half an hour was quite diſſipated, 32 C4v 32 I ſettled a plan for his future ſubſiſtence—he left me in haſte to carry the joyful tidings to his wife— he was beyond expreſſion happy, nor was I a jot behind him in that particular.— My Harriet could not part with her little play-fellow.—She ſhall live with you, Harriet, ſaid I;—ſo ſhe ſhall, papa, and ride in my coach, and wear my fine things—won’t you, Lucy?
She looked up at me with a countenance I ſhall never forget. And ſhall I never ſee mamma, then? and muſt ſhe ſtill live in that dark room?
I was willing to try her.— You ſhall ſtay here, Lucy, ſaid I, but you muſt not ſee your mamma, nor can I help her living in that little dark room.
She ſurveyed the apartment ſhe was in, as though making a compariſon.
It is a fine place, ſaid ſhe; but if my mamma cannot take a part of theſe fine things, I had rather go home again.
Oh! exclaimed Emma, who can ſay that Heartfree is poor; fate has indeed robbed him of his wealth, but heaven in return has given him an invaluable treaſure in his children.
It was about two years after, when my Emma, Harriet, Lucy, and myſelf, were on a viſit to Heartfree.—His brother had returned from India with a fortune equal to their moſt ſanguine wiſhes.—In rural retirement, about twenty miles from London, 33 C5r 33 they lived in complete happineſs, having been taught the value of preſent bleſſings, by past ſcenes of ſorrow.
It was a night when the contending elements ſeemed to threaten the earth with diſſolution; the forked lightening rived the ſturdy oaks; the burſting and almoſt inceſſant pearls of thunder made all nature tremble. The whirlwind raged, the gleaming meteors ſhewed the diſtant foaming ſea, its proud unſettled waves that ſeemed to wage war with the black impending ſky.—It was a night of horror. It was a night to make a man remember on what a ſlender thread his life depends. The vaſt univerſe is but an atom that with one blaſt from the Creative Power might vaniſh into air, and leave no trace of planets, earth, or ſea, but all again be univerſal chaos.
It ceaſed. The moon broke from behind a jetty cloud, tinged round with ſilver—the wind paſſed gently over the trees and herbage, whoſe leaves had caught the late deſcending ſhower, and glittered in the moon beams.
The tempeſt was dreadful, ſaid I, but it has cleared the air of all noxious vapours; and how beautiful appears the face of nature, heightened by the remembrance of the late ſcene of horror!—Juſt ſo it is with life; none can enjoy the pleaſures of proſperity ſo well as thoſe who have felt the pangs of adverſity.
Our ears were invaded by a groan; it came from the road; we followed the ſound, and found a man lying on the ground, bleeding, and almoſt naked.— 34 C5v 34 We bore him to the houſe, his wounds were dreſſed, and it was judged reſt would be his beſt reſtorer.
In the morning he was unable to riſe. I propoſed to Heartfree to viſit him; we entered the room, put back the curtains, and diſcovered the features of the inhuman Creditor.—We pauſed.— He endeavored to turn his face from us, and waving his hand for us to leave him, cried emphatically, Heartfree! thou art revenged.
I ſhould like to know, ſaid Heartfree, when his wounded gueſt was able to leave his apartment, by what accident you came in that dangerous ſituation.
I will inform you, he replied:— About three weeks ſince, my houſe was conſumed by fire, and with it all my property—my wife and children were ſaved, but they were ſaved from the flames to perish by famine.
His heart was full.—Heartfree paſſed his hand acroſs his eyes.— The man continued,— Some charitable people made a collection of near fifty pounds, and adviſed me to go into the country, and purchaſe a little place, where my wife and children might be supported by induſtry.—To ſave expences I travelled on foot, and in a late tempeſt ſtopt at an ale houſe till it ſhould be over. On coming away, two men offered to accompany me; but before I had proceeded far, they ſtopped and demanded my money; they had no fire-arms, I endeavoured to defend myſelf, but they were too powerful; I received a wound in my ſide, and soon grew inſenſible; the reſt you know.—I return you many thanks 35 C6r 35 for the unmerited favours I have received; but I muſt now go back to my poor family, and either ſtarve in obſcurity, or go to the pariſh.
You ſhall do neither, exclaimed Heartfree, looking at his own children as he ſpoke.
Heartfree was a huſband and a father in the juſt ſenſe of the words.—He was troubled with a ſhort memory, and had entirely forgot that he had ever been harſhly treated by the perſon before him.
You ſhall do neither, ſaid he, taking out his pocket book, and endeavouring to diſperſe the drops of humanity that ſtarted in his eye: here, giving him a note, here is a trifle; I do not at preſent want; when you can ſpare it, repay me; till then you are welcome.
The man could not take it—aſtoniſhment had rendered him motionleſs.
Heartfree put it on the table, and calling to a ſervant to get a horſe ready for his gueſt to return to town, wiſhed him a pleaſant ride, and left the room.
I fear this ſtep will greatly diſtreſs my poor father, ſaid Meliſſa to her woman, as they entered the Park.
They had left the carriage at Spring Gardens, with orders if they did not return in two hours, to go home.36 C6v 36
Mrs. Tiffany was artful; ſhe knew her lady’s partiality for Cogdie, and ſhe painted the matrimonial ſtate, founded on love, in the moſt glowing colours.
Meliſſa for a moment forgot her father, but the idea ſoon returned.
I hope he will not be very wretched, ſaid ſhe.
You will ſoon return, anſwered Mrs. Tiffany.
But I marry without conſulting him.
And is not your fortune your own, Madam; and in a caſe of this nature, young ladies can certainly tell what will contribute to their own happineſs, better than their old fathers can judge for them.
But he will be very angry, Tiffany —I will not go—I will return, fall at his feet, and confeſs my error—I am ſure he will refuſe me nothing that is really neceſſary to my happineſs.
Dear madam, how can you talk ſo—what will poor Mr. Cogdie think? he will cetainly go diſtracted.
And then your aunt Sarah, ſhe will never let you have Mr. Cogdie, if ſhe can prevent it.
No matter; I will not go.
Well, Madam, juſt as you pleaſe; Mr. Cogdie will think you meant to make a fool of him, and will marry Miſs ſparkle, who is ſo fond of him.
Meliſſa ſighed—and went forward.
A chaiſe and four was waiting for her at Hyde Park corner; I had a horſe there ready alſo.—By means of my ring I had followed them through the 37 D1r 37 Park unſeen—I now took it off, and mounting my horſe, followed the chaiſe full ſpeed, in which were Cogdie, Meliſſa, and her woman.
I have often heard of this place, ſaid I, but I never thought I ſhould be one that took a trip to it on an hymeneal expedition;—but I muſt not loſe ſight of Meliſſa; ſo putting on my ring, I followed them into the houſe.
How happy your condeſcenſion makes me, ſaid Cogdie, as he ſeated himſelf by Meliſſa—but I ſhall not be entirely devoid of fear till I can call you mine: and as the parſon is not in the way, ſuppoſe, my dear girl, you ſign this paper, to certify that you came with me voluntarily, in caſe I ſhould be called to an account for running away with an Heireſs.
May I not read the paper, ſaid Meliſſa.
It is of no great conſequence, my love, whether you ſign it or not, only in ſuch caſes there are ſometimes difficulties enſue after the ceremony is over. I may be tried and caſt.
Give me the paper, I will ſign it.D 38 D1v 38
I trembled with anxiety.—She had taken up the pen to ſign the conveyance of her whole fortune into his hands.
I will ſee him— exclaimed a voice, not the gentleſt in the world—I have a warrant to apprehend him.
Cogdie turned pale as aſhes.— The pen dropped from Meliſſa’s hand.— An officer of juſtice entered.
Mr. Cogdie, ſaid he, you muſt go with me. I arreſt you for a fraud committed five years ago.
And who has employed you? who forged this tale to injure me in the opinion of this lady?
I had taken off my ring, and ſtepping forward at that moment, cried, ’tis I, you villain. Is it not enough that you have ruined an innocent girl who was under my protection; left her and her helpleſs infant to ſhame and want, and by baſe and fraudulent methods taken from me near a thouſand pounds, but you muſt add to the catalogue of your crimes the ruin of this amiable lady, and break the heart of her worthy father.
Meliſſa ſhrieked, and fainted; I caught her as ſhe fell, and bore her in my arms to another apartment.— Cogdie departed with the officers of juſtice, muttering curſes as he went.
O! where am I, cried Meliſſa, as ſhe opened her eyes, and where is my dear father? Safe, I hope, replied I; and when you chooſe, I will order a chaiſe, and we will return to him.39 D2r 39
When you pleaſe, Sir; but I fear he will never see me, never forgive me; I dare not go to him. I will make your peace with him, ſaid I.—Meliſſa burſt into tears, and was ſilent.
We cannot depart without ſome refreſhment, thought I; ſo going into the kitchen to order ſomething, I met Mrs. Tiffany on the ſtairs. Woman, ſaid I, what wages does your lady owe you?
Six months, Sir; but I hope my lady will not part with me in this ſtrange place.
You had no buſineſs to adviſe her to come to this ſtrange place—there is your money, and three guineas to pay your expenſes to town, your lady never deſires to ſee you again.—Now by the aſtoniſhment of her countenance, and a ſort of leer that ſhe gave as ſhe tripped down ſtairs, I gueſſed I had paid her more than was her due.
This woman has certainly got more than ſhe had a right to, ſaid I, ſtanding with my right hand on the top of the lower baluſtrade, and holding my purſe, which I had not yet tied up, in my left— The world talks much about honeſty, but I cannot comprehend where it is to be found.—The trader will ſtand behind his counter, and aſk you three ſhillings per yard for cloth more than it is worth, and if you are inexperienced, as it frequently happens in ſuch caſes, you pay him without heſitation —he knows he has impoſed upon you, yet he will 40 D2v 40 lay his hand upon his heart, and declare he is an honeſt man.—The Courtier!—Oh! quoth reflection, pray don’t mention a courtier and honeſty in the ſame breath.—The women—how can you talk of their honeſty, when you have ſo flagrant a proof to the contrary before you.—The Clergy—worſe and worſe; does not the beneficed clergyman, quietly pocket his hundreds, or thouſands, while the poor curate is ſtarving on thirty pounds per annum, and will not the rector preach you an eloquent ſermon on charity, and the curate ſpend his breath in recommending abſtinence.—Is this honeſty?
It may be called ſo, ſaid I.
The lawyer and phyſician—Oh, there is no honeſty there, I aſſure you; the one ſteals your fortune, and the other your life—but this is all in the way of buſineſs.
Then, pray where may we find this ſaid honeſty?
It was a ſort of queſtion I knew not how to anſwer—at that inſtant faithful Caeſar came and licked my hand.— You are right, ſaid I, patting his head. If any thing like honeſty or fidelity is to be found in the world, it is in your ſpecies.
Shall we go, Sir, ſaid Meliſſa, as ſhe came down ſtairs.
With all my heart, ſaid I, putting up my purſe, and offering her my hand.—The chaiſe was at the door, and I was actually ſtepping into it, without once recollecting that I had not ſpent a ſingle halfpenny for the good of the houſe.
It is all like a dream, ſaid Meliſſa, as the chaiſe drove off; a ſort of confuſed, diſagreeable dream, from which I ſhall be glad to awake—but pray, Sir, if it be not troubleſome, will you tell me the meaning of ſome words which you dropped concerning Cogdie? what woman has he ruined, and whom has he defrauded?
I will tell you, Madam, ſaid I—ſhe was all attention.
Five years ſince, a friend of mine died, and left a lovely orphan daughter to my care.—Olivia was young and inexperienced in the ways of the world. —I was gay and fond of company—the houſe of a young gentleman of fortune is not a fit ſanctuary for innocence and beauty. I loved Olivia like a ſister— I would have revenged an inſult offered her at the expenſe of my life, but ſhe required the tender ſolicitude of a mother, the ſedate mature advice of a father. —Her heart was the ſeat of ſenſibility, ſhe was formed for domeſtic love and felicity—having no paternal ties, no filial affection to warm her gentle breaſt—there was an aching void in her heart, which only love could fill.—Cogdie viſited at my houſe—he was much older than Olivia, ſhe was only ſixteen.—He was attentive to her childiſh pleaſures; her favorite dog was careſſed—he would feed her goldfinch, talk to her parrot, and bring her noſegays.—I was not of a ſuſpicious temper D2 42 D3v 42 but placed an implicit confidence in Cogdie, who, by a thouſand arts, had ingratiated himſelf into my favour. It was not long before I obſerved Olivia grew pale and thin; ſhe had loſt her chearfulneſs, and I frequently found her in tears. Imagining ſhe might be ſolitary for want of a female companion, I propoſed her going into the country to an old lady, a friend of mine, who had a daughter but three years older than herſelf—ſhe conſented, and two days after was appointed for her departure. When the appointed morning came, ſhe was not to be found. I ſent to all her acquaintance in vain.—I cannot deſcribe my diſtreſs—I told my affliction to Cogdie; he conſoled me; and flattered me with hopes I might yet find her—I was happy to think I had ſuch a friend. Three weeks paſſed on, and I never heard of my Olivia.—Cogdie had frequently mentioned his being ſometimes employed by a capital merchant at Hamburgh, with whom I was acquainted when abroad —He came to me one morning, and ſhewed a letter, in which he was deſired to ſend the merchant a ring, the moſt valuable that could be procured.—I wonder, ſaid Cogdie, why he has not ſent me the money to purchaſe this ring; he knows my circumſtances are not the moſt affluent. He ſeemed diſtreſſed at not being able to get ſo valuable a ring on credit.—I ſent him to my jeweller; the ring was ordered, and it came to near eight hundred and fifty pounds—he took it away in haſte one morning, as he ſaid, to ſend it to Hamburgh; and I never ſaw him again, till a few days 43 D4r 43 ſince, when I was informed he was one of the most noted gamblers about town. I had given up all thoughts of ever finding Olivia, when going out one evening——
The roads are very heavy indeed, ſaid I, breaking the thread of my ſtory, and fixing my eyes on an old man, who was travelling through the dirt— There had juſt fallen a heavy ſhower of rain, and the ſun was now ſhining with ſcorching rays upon his head; he was dreſſed in a gray coat, and a bundle hung to the end of a ſtick that was acroſs his ſhoulder.—My heart is always intereſted by the preſent object.—This man, ſaid I, is no more able to walk than I am; and four horſes can certainly drag three people—I bade the poſtilion ſtop.— And what are you about to do? ſaid Prudence—Offer that poor man a ſeat in the chaiſe, ſaid Benevolence —ah! but you know nothing of him; he may be a thief, cried Suſpicion—or a very poor mechanic, and by no means fit to ride in a chaiſe with a gentleman, urged Pride— but he is a fellow-creature, and ſeems very weary, ſaid Humanity.—I ſtaid not another moment for conſideration.
And have you never heard of Olivia ſince? ſaid Meliſſa, when we were ſettled in our ſeats.—I know not how it was, but I could not proceed with my ſtory—there was ſomething in the appearance 44 D4v 44 of the old man, that awakened my curioſity—he was a figure not ſtriking; but examine it minutely, and you would find it intereſting. A few gray hairs were ſcattered over his forehead; his face ſeemed to have ſome traces of ſorrow and diſappointment; his features were grave, but withal tempered with ſuch meek reſignation and compoſure, that I contemplated them till I had forgot Olivia, Meliſſa, and almoſt myſelf.
There is ſuch a natural curioſity implanted in the mind of man, that we cannot be half an hour in company with a ſtranger, before in our own imagination we form many conjectures concerning his ſituation in life—what ſort of diſpoſition he has— whether he is married or ſingle—and fifty ſuch particulars, which are of no real conſequence to us.—I had not been ſeated with this old man above ten minutes, when I had ſettled in my own mind that he was a parſon, that he had loſt his wife, and that he was going to town in order to look out for ſome employment to ſettle his children in.—Thou haſt loſt thy partner, thought I, looking at him with compaſſion, ſhe who has heightened the pleaſure of thy youth, ſhared with thee the ſweets and bitters of life, and was thy companion in old age.— The bower that ſhe planted ſo many years ſince; the woodbines that ſhe trimmed and guided with 45 D5r 45 her hands, now ſhoot wild and neglected, and that bower which to thee was once a paradiſe, is now deſolate and gloomy, deprived of her preſence.— What a ſaucy baggage is this Madam Fancy, ſaid I, recollecting myſelf; ſhe has given me a pain at my heart by telling me a tale which, perhaps, has no foundation.—
Do not complain of Fancy, ſaid my fellow-traveller, for how many a heavy hour ſhe often helps to diſſipate, when ſhe ſoars upon the pinions of hope, and builds fine airy fabrics, extricates us out of difficulties, and leads us to the ſummit of our wiſhes; and we are for the moment as happy as tho’ in the real poſſeſſion of them; and what tho’ ſhe ſometimes does forſake us, and all the proſpects vaniſh into air, yet ſoon ſhe returns again, and again is welcomed—we liſten to her ſiren tale with pleaſure, and ſo wear life away. How often in fancy have I ruſhed into battle, and with this arm ſent hundreds to eternity—how often has fancy led me to my ſovereign’s feet, to receive the reward of my paſt ſervices.
You are a ſoldier, then, ſaid I,—every feature was animated with the remembrance of former campaigns, as he replied in the affirmative.
Then by my ſoul, ſaid I, Madam Fancy is an arrant cheat, for ſhe had repreſented you as a parſon.
I have ſpent the beſt part of my life, ſaid the old man, in the ſervice of my country.—At fifty years of age I retired, with no other fortune than a lieutenant’s half-pay—it was but ſcanty, it was but ſufficient for the wants of Narciſſa, my wife, and ſelf.—I would tell you that my child was lovely, Sir; but I am old, and a father; both thoſe particulars would lead you to doubt my veracity. Our manſion was ſmall, but it was the manſion of content. Laſt ſummer an old lady came to lodge in our neighbourhood; ſhe took great notice of Narciſſa during her reſidence in the country, and at her departure, requeſted me to let my child come the enſuing ſpring to paſs a few weeks in town; with reluctance I conſented, for I thought the fair bloſſom of innocence would be ſubject to contamination if I entruſted her in the metropolis without a proper protector.
You was right, ſaid I—at that inſtant recollecting poor Olivia, and fearing I might again loſe the thread of my ſtory, I inſtantly gratified Meliſſa’s curioſity, by relating the remainder.
The Recital continued.
Going out one evening, I heard a voice which I thought I knew, imploring charity. I ſent my ſervant to bring her to me; ſhe came weeping and ſobbing47 D6r 47 bing aloud.—She juſt entered the door, and ſunk inſenſible at my feet.—It was poor Olivia—I raiſed her, I preſſed her in my arms, and by the tendereſt careſſes called her back to life. When ſhe found herſelf in my arms, ſhe could hardly truſt her ſenſes, but ſliding from my embrace upon her knees, took both my hands in hers, and cried will you forgive me.——I aſſured her ſhe was pardoned; ſoothed her, and begged to know why ſhe had left my protection—ſhe unfolded a tale of horror—Cogdie had ruined her. ſhe found herſelf pregnant, and preſſed him to marry her; he ſaid I would not conſent to their union, and when out of tenderneſs I wished to remove her into the country, ſhe thought it was only to take her from him.——Conſcious of her own unhappy ſituation, ſhe flew to her betrayer— he for a while behaved with a tolerable degree of tenderneſs; but he ſoon threw off the diſguiſe, and turned her out of doors, at the ſame time informing her that I had taken an oath never to ſee or aſſiſt her.
Heavens! what barbarity, exclaimed Meliſſa.— Meliſſa pitied Olivia, but ſhe felt for herſelf——it might have been her ſituation. —She deſired me to proceed.
I took the fair mourner, ſaid I, into the country, where, in about ſix weeks, ſhe was delivered of a boy.—I told her unfortunate tale to Mrs. Sidley and her daughter; they pitied her, they determined ſhe ſhould not be loſt. I viſited Olivia in her retreat; my viſits were long and frequent; when I was abſent48 D6v 48 ſent from Sidley Cot, I was penſive and unhappy; my former pleaſures loſt the power of amuſing—in ſhort, I at laſt diſcovered that the lovely Emma Sidley had taken poſſeſſion of my heart; I ſought her hand—I gained it, and brought my charming prize triumphant up to town.
Olivia has ſpent theſe laſt five years in ſuperintending the care of her boy; ſhe paſſes for a widow, and her charms have gained her many admirers, but ſhe declines them all; and declares ſhe looks upon herſelf as the wife of Cogdie. Chance diſcovered to me his vile deſign on you. Pardon me, dear lady, if I thought the method I have made uſe of, the only one that I could impreſs your mind with terror, at the precipice you have eſcaped, and guard you in future againſt forming clandeſtine connections with our ſex.
And what have you done with the old lieutenant? ſaid my Emma, when I had given her an account of our journey.
I ſet him down ſomewhere in the Strand, ſaid I.
I hope you found ſome opportunity to increaſe his little ſtore without hurting his feelings, ſaid ſhe.
I was aſhamed to own my omiſſion; and yet where is the ſhame? ſaid I, as I ſat with my hand upon my Emma’s knee, reading the ſweet lines written by benevolence on her lovely countenance.—— Where is the ſhame that I was guilty of an omiſſion 49 E1r 49 through forgetfulneſs? it was not a wilful ſin againſt charity—I will go ſeek him, ſaid I, and repair my fault.
You will firſt go to my father, I hope, ſaid Meliſſa.
I took my hat, and ſtood full two minutes undetermined which to do firſt—they were both actions of benevolence.
Had it been thy caſe, bright pattern of humanity, ſaid I, opening a volume of Sterne, that lay on the table before me, juſt at the corporal’s relating the ſtory of Le Fevre to Captain Shandy——had it been thy caſe, thou wouldſt have given the preference to the old ſoldier; but I am a father, and will act as my feelings direct.
It is of no purpoſe, ſaid I to the ſervant, to deny your maſter; I am ſure he is at home, and I will ſee him—pray tell him I have particular buſineſs with him. —I had left Meliſſa at my houſe— after waiting half an hour, I was admitted up ſtairs —Meliſſa’s father was ſitting in a penſive poſture, his looks dejected, and his dreſs diſordered.—On the other ſide of the room ſat a woman, the picture of envy and ill-nature.
You will pardon me, Sir, for this intruſion—I came from —E 50 E1v 50
My daughter, eagerly exclaimed the old gentleman— and where is ſhe, Sir?—will ſhe come home again? Oh, lead me to her, that I may lock her in my arms, and with tears of joy waſh away the remembrance of her error.
I ſuppose Miſs is married, cried Mrs. Sarah.— She did not make ſuch an excurſion, and with ſuch company, for nothing.
Really, Madam, ſaid I, ſhe is not married; ſhe has taken a little excurſion, it is true, but ſhe is now at my houſe, impatiently waiting for a ſummons to throw herſelf at her father’s feet, and implore his forgiveneſs.——The old gentleman called for his hat.
Why ſurely you will not forgive her, brother? ſaid the churliſh aunt.
Not forgive her! exclaimed the father—I tell you, ſiſter, ſhe ſhall be forgiven, taken again to my boſom, again ſhare my confidence; nor be driven by my unkindneſs, and the cold contempt of her own ſex, to that vice which I know her ſoul would ſhrink from as from death.
Mrs. Sarah muttered ſomething about virtue and propriety, and left the room.
There were three reaſons why Mrs. Sarah was ſo inveterate againſt her niece; the firſt was, ſhe was old, very ſallow, rather inclined to be crooked, and had a voice ſomething reſembling the cawing of a rook; it was therefore a great mortification to have a niece ſo young and lovely.51 E2r 51
In the ſecond place, ſhe had formed ſome deſign on Cogdie’s heart herſelf—no woman can bear a rival in love or dreſs.
The third, and moſt potent reaſon was, ſhe had never been a parent, therefore could not tell the pangs, the yearnings, the fond ſolicitudes that by turns agitated the heart of Meliſſa’s father.
Come, let us go, my friend, ſaid he, let us go and bring the dear fugitive home.
As we were going, I gave him an account of our expedition.
I cannot bear to ſee him, exclaimed Meliſſa, hiding her face as we entered—He would not ſuffer her to kneel, but embracing her cordially, cried, come home, my child, come home, and let us forget all that is paſt, I never will reproach you.
He was right in making this promiſe, for nothing is ſo liable to drive a woman to a ſecond error, as her being ſubject to continual reproach for the firſt.
I wonder, thought I, as they departed, if there is a greater bleſſing on this ſide eternity, than the power of conferring benefits.—The man who has it in his power to make others happy, has a large ſhare of happineſs allotted to himſelf.—I would not part with my ring, ſaid I, for half the univerſe: without it, I had been unable to deliver this charming girl from the hands of her betrayer.
The Printing Office.
And can that young creature be an author? ſaid I—ſhe was ſtanding at the door of the printing office, waiting for admiſſion.—I had rambled out that morning in ſearch of adventures—my ring was on, I entered the office with the young author.
I have brought you my manuſcript, Mr. C——ke, ſaid ſhe; the ſtory is founded on fact, and, I hope, will be ſo lucky as to pleaſe thoſe who ſhall hereafter peruſe it.
Is it original, Miſs? Entirely ſo. Lord bleſs me! that was quite unneceſſary. Why, Sir, how could I think of offering to the public a ſtory which has appeared in print before? Nothing more common, I aſſure you.
He was a thin, pale looking man, dreſſed in a ſhabby green coat—he never looked in her face the whole time he was ſpeaking; but ſtanding half ſideways towards her, fixed his eyes aſkance upon the ground.—I never like a man that is aſhamed to look me in the face, it argues a conſciouſneſs of not having always acted with integrity.
Nothing can be more common, Miſs, continued he, than for an author to get a quantity of old magazines, the older the better, and having picked and culled thoſe ſtories the moſt adapted for his purpoſe, he places them in a little regular order, writes a line here and there, and ſo offers them to the public as an entire new work.53 E3r 53
See here, now, I have publiſhed this work on my own account; theſe few firſt pages are original, but I aſſure you the ſciſſars did the reſt. I have entitled it The Moraliſt, and ſell theſe two volumes at ſeven ſhillings and ſix pence.
I ſhould rather call that compiling, ſaid the young author.
Why ſo it is, in fact—but I aſſure you there are few people who have genius ſufficient to write a book, or, even if they had, would take the trouble to do it.—A ſentimental novel will hardly pay you for time and paper.—A ſtory full of intrigue, wrote with levity, and tending to convey looſe ideas, would ſell very well.
It is a ſubject unfit for a female pen, ſaid the young lady.
Why you need not put your name to it.
It is a ſubject unfit for any pen, retorted ſhe, a deep vermilion dying her cheeks, and fire flaſhing from her eyes—ſhe ſtopped, and checked her riſing paſſion—I think, Sir, ſhe continued, with more compoſure, the perſon who would write a book that might tend to corrupt the morals of youth, and fill their docile minds with ideas pernicious and deſtructive to their happineſs, deſerves a greater puniſhment than the robber who ſteals your purſe, or the murderer that takes your life.
Mr. C—ke ſtared—it was a vacant ſtare——he wondered, no doubt, how an author could ſtudy any thing but her own emolument—I was pleaſed with her ſentiments—if your writings are equal to what E2 54 E3v 54 you have juſt uttered, ſaid I, they will be worth peruſing; but ſome can talk better than they write; perhaps it is her caſe. Her works never fell in my way, ſo I cannot judge.—
You mean to publiſh by ſubſcription, ſaid Mr. C—ke—She replied in the affirmative—
And how do you mean to get ſubſcribers?
—By ſhewing my propoſals, and ſimply requeſting them to encourage my undertaking.
Oh! God bleſs me, he replied, ſtill looking aſkance, for he never changed his poſition, or raiſed his eyes from the ground, except it was to look at his elbow, and contemplate his thread-bare ſleeve— It will never do to go that way to work—you muſt have a tale of diſtreſs to tell, or you will never procure one ſubſcriber—
I am not very much diſtreſſed, ſaid ſhe; and if I was, why ſhould I blazon it to the world?
It is no matter whether you are really diſtreſſed or not, ſaid C—ke; but you muſt tell a tale to excite pity, or you will never gain a ſingle ſhilling towards printing your books—I have ſold eight hundred copies of The Moraliſt by theſe means—nobody gives themſelves the trouble to enquire whether my ſtory be falſe or true; it excites pity for the moment——they ſend me a ſubſcription—my purpoſe is anſwered, and ’tis a queſtion whether they ever think of me or my ſtory again——
She ſeemed tired of the converſation—ſo laying down her manuſcript, and deſiring him to put it in hand immediately, ſhe bade him good morning—55 E4r 55
What impoſitions there are in the world! ſaid I, as I went out of the office: This very account will make me always refuſe to ſubſcribe to a book that is recommended by a tale of diſtreſs.
Two coaches with white plumes; in the firſt was the coffin of an infant, at the door of an elegant houſe ſtood ſeveral domeſtics weeping.—A young woman who had ſtood at a diſtance, watched the coaches till they were out of ſight, and then burſt into tears—
I removed my ring from my finger, and inquired the cauſe of her grief.
He is gone, Sir, ſaid ſhe, pointing to the road the coaches had taken; he is gone, and I ſhall never ſee him again; he was the ſweeteſt child—I once lived with him, I loved him with unſpeakable tenderneſs, liſtened with pleaſure to his prattle, and when he was ill, attended him with anxious, unremitting care; he was the delight of his parents, he was the joy of my heart.
You do wrong to lament, ſaid I; he is gone to a more happy place; he is taken away before he had offended his Maker, to ſhare in pleaſures unſpeakable and unceaſing; then why ſhould you make yourſelf wretched? It is like regretting that he was not ſuffered to remain in a world ſubject to all ſorts of diſappointments and misfortunes; he is now an angel in the manſions of the bleſſed; why ſhould you then mourn his abſence from you?56 E4v 56
Have you children, Sir? ſaid ſhe, with unaffected ſimplicity—The queſtion ſtruck me forcibly. I thus aſked my own heart—had Harriet been taken from me; could I have reaſoned thus calmly; the very ſuppoſition gave me an unſpeakable pang; it told me that reaſon had little power over the heart torn by the loſs of what it prized more than life.— I turned to the young woman—ſhe was gone a few paces from me—ſhe ſighed, profoundly pronounced the name of Henry, wiped off her tears, raiſed her ſwollen eyes to Heaven, and cried—Thy will be done.
I was aſhamed of my former reaſoning; that one ſentence convinced me, that Chriſtianity was a better comforter in affliction than the moſt boaſted rules of philoſophy.
The Happy Pair.
It was a neat little houſe, by the ſide of the fields —a pretty looking woman, dreſt by ſimplicity, Nature’s handmaid, was laying the table cloth, and trimming up her little parlour; her looks were chearful and ſerene, and with a voice pleaſing, though wild and untutored, ſhe ſung the following little ſtanzas:
Here, beneath my humble cot,
Tranquil peace and pleaſure dwell,
If contented with our lot,
Smiling joy can grace a cell.
Nature’s wants are all ſupply’d
Food and raiment, houſe and fire:
Let others ſwell the courts of pride,
This is all that I require.
Juſt as ſhe had finiſhed, a genteel young man entered the gate; ſhe ran eagerly to meet him.—
My dear Charles, ſhe cried, you are late tonight.
It was near ten o’clock—I had taken the advantage of my ring, and followed them into the houſe.—
I am weary, Betſey, ſaid he, leaning his head upon her ſhoulder.
—I am ſorry for it, my love; but come, eat your ſupper, and you ſhall then repoſe on my boſom, and huſh all your cares to reſt—
Their frugal meal was ſallad and bread and butter.
If to be content is to be happy, my dear, ſaid ſhe, how ſuperlatively happy am I—I have no wish beyond what our little income will afford me; my home is to me a palace, thy love my eſtate. I envy not the rich dames who ſhine in coſtly array; I pleaſe my Charles in my plain, ſimple attire; I wiſh to pleaſe no other.—
Thou dear reward of all my toils! cried Charles, embracing her, how can I have a wiſh ungratified, while poſſeſſed of thee—I never deſired wealth, but for thy ſake, and thy chearful, contented diſpoſition makes even wealth unneceſſary.58 E5v 58
It is by no means neceſſary to happineſs, ſaid I, as I left the houſe—Charles and Betſey ſeem perfectly happy and content with only a bare competence— I aſk but a competence, cries the luxurious or avaricious wretch; the very exclamation convinces us, that a trifle is adequate to the wants of the humble, frugal mind, while thouſands cannot ſupply the inordinate deſires of the prodigal, or ſatiſfy the graſping diſpoſition of the miſer.
It was a confuſed noiſe of ſinging, ſwearing, and a craſh of breaking glaſſes.—Perhaps, ſaid I, this is a private mad houſe; for ſurely I am not near Bedlam. The moon ſhone bright, I caſt my eyes up towards the houſe, and perceived the ſign of the Angel—Good Heavens! thought I, this is a public houſe; and how ridiculous to place an angel at the door of the habitation of drunkenneſs and debauchery
Of all the crimes to which human nature is addicted, drunkenneſs is the moſt pernicious; it is the maſter key that leads to all other vice.—Behold that young man; he is an apprentice—in a fit of intoxication he commenced an acquaintance with a lewd woman;—he has not money to anſwer her extravagencies—he robs his maſter—he is detected—his diſtracted parents pay the ſum he has taken—they exhort him with ſtreaming eyes, to avoid ſuch exceſſes in future—He leaves them with a promiſe 59 E6r 59 of amendment—Returning to his maſter’s houſe, he again is entrapped in his darling vice, and again returns to his abandoned companion—behold him now juſt entering her manſion—he has taken a conſiderable ſum from his maſter’s till—the officers of juſtice are cloſe behind—he intreats her to ſecrete him—ſhe refuſes—ſhe delivers him up; denies her acquaintance with him—he is dragged to priſon.— See him now, loaded with irons, in a diſmal dungeon; he has received the ſentence of death—His parents enter; they are ſpeechleſs with ſorrow—he remembers their former kindneſs—he ſees their preſent anguiſh; his folly, his guilt appear in their proper colours—he would comfort them, but is unable—the meſſenger of death calls—another moment, he aſks but one moment, and that is denied —his mother—
But ſtop; the ſcene grows too deep; I muſt draw a veil before it.
And theſe men call themſelves rational beings— they had interrupted my meditations by breaking the lamps and beating the watchmen who had endeavoured to prevent them. Among them was a young man of quality. —Oh, ſhame, ſaid I, that thoſe whoſe exalted ſtation makes their actions conſpicuous in the eyes of the world, ſhould ſet examples ſo very detrimental to ſociety.60 E6v 60
D—n me, ſays he, let us go and get drunk, and then roar catches through the ſtreet, and diſturb the ſober, ſleeping drones, in ſpite of all the watchmen and conſtables in the kingdom—Come along, my boys; and if we do go to the round-houſe, let us go jovially.
How very humiliating it is to human nature to ſee mankind ſo far degrade themſelves, and commit ſuch follies as render them ſcarcely a degree ſuperior to the brute creation—nay, I do not know but the poor aſs, who carries the loaded panier, or the ox who drags the plough, are more uſeful to ſociety than ſuch a man: theſe poor animals render their owners all the ſervice in their power, in return for their food, while the buck ſpends his nights in riot and debauchery; his days in ſleep; and, in return for the vaſt bleſſings ſhowered around him, inſtead of making himſelf ſerviceable to the community of which he is a member, he breaks the laws, diſturbs the peace, ſquanders his ſubſtance on the infamous and profligate, and dies without having performed one action that might make his loſs regretted.
You thoughtleſs, diſſipated rakes, that haunt this town, behold this compariſon, and if you are men, bluſh at your own inferiority.
The Midnight Hour.
The clock ſtruck twelve.—
This is the hour, ſaid I, when Morpheus, with his drowſing poppies, has ſealed the eyes of the innocent and happy— but Morpheus is a courtier; he F 61 F1r 61 never viſits the couch of affliction, or liſtens to the requeſt of the unhappy.—Now the lover, true to the appointed hour, to elude the guardian’s watchful eye, ſteals ſoftly to the window of his fair enſlaver, who anxiouſly had counted the lazy, lagging minutes, and liſtened to the paſſing breeze that moved the flowers or whiſpered through the wood: caught at each ſound, and thought it was her love. Now the fair mourner ſeeks her widowed bed, and hangs over her ſleeping infant, till buſy fancy recalls to her mind the father’s features—the tear of regret which trickles from her eye, falls on the infant’s cheek—He wakes, he ſmiles, and charms away her ſorrows.—So, from the lowering ſky, when the ſoft ſhower gently deſcends on the half blown roſe, its fragrance is increaſed, its leaves expanded, and all its beauties are revealed to view.
At this lonely hour the ruffian takes his knife, and ruſhes on the unguarded victim of his barbarity.
Thou fooliſh wretch, think not the fable curtain of night can hide thy actions from the eye of juſtice
This is the hour when the guilty mortal, though in a lofty room, ſtretched on a bed of down, and covered by a gilded canopy, though, perhaps, on India’s diſtant ſhore he perpetrated the horrid deed; imbrued his hands in innocent blood to graſp a glittering toy, ſtarts frantic from his pillow—he ſees the murdered Indian, his gaping wounds, his mangled carcaſe; he hears his wife and children calling aloud62 F1v 62 loud for vengeance on the murderer; the cold ſweat bedews his limbs, his joints tremble, his faculties are loſt, he groans, and in his thoughts, curſes the day when he was firſt taught the uſe of gold or the advantages of power.
This is the hour—
In which, cries reflection, your Emma is wondering why you tarry ſo long from her; and, anxious for your ſafety, paints to her ſickening imagination a thouſand dangers which exiſt not but in her ideas.
—I quickened my pace —She met me at the door —I caught her in my arms.
A tear had fallen upon her cheek, another ſtood glittering in her eye—the firſt was a tear of ſuſpenſe, the laſt of joy. I kiſſed them both away, and was angry with myſelf for having given her gentle boſom a moment’s pain.
Heigho! cried he, ſtretching and yawning; how ſhall I paſs this day?
It was nine o’clock; he was juſt up, and had repaired to the coffee-houſe for his breakfaſt. He took the news paper, read two or three advertiſements; but ſoon threw it aſide, and ſeemed wholly occupied in picking his nails and whiſtling. I will follow you through this day, ſaid I, and immediately put on my ring. He left the coffee-houſe, and ſauntered an hour in the Park, then ſtrolled from one acquaintance’s63 F2r 63 quaintance’s houſe to another, till he received an invitation to dinner—That univerſal topic, the weather, being diſcuſſed, and the play for the night mentioned, he had not another word to ſay, but ſat ſtupidly ſilent, unleſs, indeed, he ventured to ſay yes or no to any queſtion aſked by the lady of the houſe.
He once complained of the heavineſs of time— ſhe recommended drawing—that required too much ſtudy—reading—he could not bear a book, it ſtupified him—muſic—he ſhould never have patience to learn; he liked nothing but the flute, and that would throw him into a conſumption—
I am ſurpriſed, ſaid the lady, you like none of theſe; give me leave to recommend you a few books that I am ſure will help to wear away the time— Bridon’s Tour you will find inſtructive and amuſing —Goldſmith’s Animated Nature is the ſame—Sterne is a pleaſing author; and there is a vaſt fund of amuſement in—
You have mentioned books enow already, ſaid he (interrupting her) to laſt me my life. I never read any thing except it be a ballad, or the laſt dying ſpeech of people that were hanged.
Very entertaining and inſtructive ſubjects, cried the lady.
He dined, and then ſauntered to a public houſe, drank a pint of rum and water, went to the play when it was half over, and came away again without underſtanding a ſingle ſentence he had heard— went out again to the public houſe, ſquandered away two or three ſhillings more in drinking, only becauſe64 F2v 64 cauſe he had nothing elſe to do, and went to bed as he aroſe, with a mind entirely vacant, unoccupied by thought or reflection. This is the life of a lounger, ſaid I—If the lives of mortals are recorded in the book of fate, what a blank will this man’s life appear!—Yet I am certain he goes to bed every jot as weary as the poor labourer who toils for his daily bread—Is it the fault of education or diſpoſition? ſaid I.
Reaſon anſwered, it muſt be native indolence, or he would otherwiſe engage in ſome pleaſing ſtudy, that might at once employ and amuſe him—
It is a matter of doubt with me, whether ſuch a man deſerves moſt our pity or contempt.
A Tale of Scandal.
And ſo you are writing—and do you intend to publiſh your works?
Perhaps I may, ſaid I—
What is your ſubject, pray? Rambles, excurſions, characters, and tales. And do you think the world will attend to your rambles, excurſions, characters, and tales?
I will write ſentimental rambles, juvenile excurſions, original characters, and tales of ſcandal, and then my books will be univerſally read.
The laſt article may make them riſe into ſome repute, ſaid he.
Doſt thou know the origin of ſcandal? ſaid I. No— Then I will tell thee— 65 F3r 65 She is of ſpurious birth; begot of envy on that blear-eyed monſter, Miſtruſt; ſhe was nurſed by Self-love, and tutored by Hypocriſy—She is hideously deformed, has a thouſand ears, and liſts to every tale—Her eyes magnify the ſmalleſt objects into mountains; and as her tongue has not the power to vent her malicious tales ſo faſt as her vile heart conceives them, ſhe makes up the reſt in nods, winks, ſhrugs of the ſhoulders, lifting the eyes, and ſhaking the head—She in general wears a maſk, and dreſſes in a pleaſing garb, which makes her ſo well received in all companies.
Why this is a tale of ſcandal indeed, ſaid he. And the only one I ſhall ever write, ſaid I—for if in this vaſt globe full of intereſting ſcenes to excite our wonder, and engage our attention, if, I ſay, in ſuch a place, a man cannot uſe his pen without ſtabbing the character of his neighbour, he muſt have had a very narrow education, be poſſeſſed of a bad heart, and bleſſed with little or no underſtanding.
The Village Wedding.
I never ſee the ſimple inhabitants of a village engaged in a ſcene of mirth, but I long to mingle with them—I wiſh to ſee, feel, and taſte, every thing with the ſame ſenſations they do.
They were ſeated round a large table, under the ſhade of ſome ſpreading oaks—I will partake of their F2 66 F3v 66 diverſions, ſaid I, without diſturbing them; ſo I put on my ring, and mixed among the groupe.
A nut-brown maid, dreſſed in pure white, the emblem of her own innocence, preſided at the head of the board—I looked at her with ſcrutinizing eye, and perceived it was my pretty milk-maid—She had that day given her hand to Colin, and the chearful company had aſſembled to keep the wedding.
Their repaſt finiſhed, a lad with a pipe and tabor, and another with a fiddle, ſtruck up a lively air, when Colin and his Roſe led off the dance, with ſtep ſo light, a countenance ſo ſerene, and an air ſo blythe, that I wiſhed myſelf a humble villager, and my Emma a nut-brown maid.
And why cannot all the world live thus? What need of titles, equipage, ſtate, pomp, and nonſenſe? Nature never deſigned it ſo.
Nor did Nature deſign us to wear cloaths—
The idea was ludicrous—it irritated my riſible muſcles—what aukward beings would theſe tight country damſels appear, if they were dancing about in a ſtate of nature!—A petticoat is a pretty ornament, ſaid I—and ſo is an apron— The dancers had tucked their aprons up on one ſide—it gave them a look of eaſe and negligence.
It is ſtrange, ſaid I, that among all the caprices of faſhion, the apron has never been totally aboliſhed, but has continued to be worn by all ranks and degrees of women, from our grandmother Eve, down to theſe dancing damſels.67 F4r 67
It had never ſtruck me before that the apron was an ornament of ſuch antiquity.
They danced till ſilver Cynthia lighted up the horizon, and then all with one conſent ſat down to ſupper.
That paſt, the jocund tale, the ſong, the laugh, went round, and all was gay feſtivity and mirth.
In the courſe of the evening, Colin had twined a branch of myrtle with woodbine, and placed it on his Roſe’s boſom—He could not have judged better; the woodbine was an emblem of her ſweetneſs, the myrtle of her love and conſtancy.
Farewel, bleſt pair! may your portion of life be pure, and unmixed with gall; may your happineſs be as permanent as your innocence and truth are conſpicuous.
I had been at the play. A young creature, in the box adjoining that I ſat in, had attracted my notice the whole evening; her fixed attention during the performance, ſhewed ſhe was almoſt a ſtranger to thoſe kind of diverſions.
The various paſſions that agitated her features at the intereſting parts of the drama, ſeemed the workings of pure nature—I did not like her companions; they were by no means ſuitable guardians for her youth and charms.68 F4v 68
The one was a young man of fortune, a profeſſed libertine.
The other an old, fat woman, whoſe looks and geſtures beſpoke her employment.
I thought I could read in the open countenance of the young lady, an unconſciouſneſs of guilt, and a full confidence in the company and protection of her companions—I was determined to be convinced whether my conjectures were well founded.
When they left the play-houſe, I put on my ring, and followed them; they were ſet down at the door of an elegant houſe; the rooms within were ſuperb, the furniture grand, and the ſervants numerous— Supper was ſerved up—they urged the young lady to drink ſeveral glaſſes of wine—
She complied with reluctance. I will go and order the coach, ſaid the old woman, and left the room.
The libertine took the opportunity, which was intentionally given, and had nearly executed his horrid purpoſe, when taking off my ring, and ſnatching up a knife that lay on the table—Villain, ſaid I, forbear your attempts, or this inſtant puts a period to your life—Heaven is too watchful over the virtuous, to ſuffer it to fall a prey to ſuch luſt and barbarity.
If I was clever at deſigning, I would give you a ſketch of this ſcene.
The libertine, at the ſound of my voice, relinquiſhed his prey, and fixing his eyes on me in ſilent 69 F5r 69 aſtoniſhment, while every feature expreſſed terror and diſmay.
Half ſtarting from his ſeat, he exclaimed, in a voice ſcarcely articulate,
Who are you?
The poor girl ſat leaning her head againſt the elbow of the ſopha, pale and ready to ſink—like a timid hart, who for a moment having outſtretched the ſpeed of the fleet hounds, trembling looks around, and ſtops and pants for breath—again her purſuers appear in ſight—again ſhe would fly, but fear deprives her of the power; tears of anguiſh chaſe each other down her cheeks, and ſhe ſits in an agony of deſpair, awaiting the approaching ruin which ſhe is unable to eſcape.
I took her by the hand, bid her fear nothing, and led her triumphant from the houſe of infamy.
I will take a peep behind the ſcenes, ſaid I, one evening, as I paſſed the Hay-market Theatre; ſo, putting on my ring, I entered.
You ſurpriſe me, Madam—not come into the houſe about his buſineſs the nights that you perform? (said a man, addreſſing himſelf to Miſs—)pray, in what has he moleſted you?
He met me on the ſtairs, Sir, and it is very distreſſing to be joſtled by ſuch low creatures. I will have the houſe cleared of ſuch people.70 F5v 70
It is a very extraordinary demand, Madam—he is full as neceſſary in his ſtation as you are in yours —I fancy, the heroine of a comedy would make but a poor appearance with her hair uncurled and unpowdered; nor would you much admire an hero with a beard of ten or twelve days growth.
I don’t underſtand this inſolence, replied ſhe; it is what I am not uſed to
Pray, what is all this fuſs about? cried a lame gentleman—
Nothing in the world, Sir, but Miſs— and the barber.
It is very ridiculous, ſaid I, talking of the circumſtance a few days after, that a woman, whoſe bread depends on the ſmiles of the public, and who, every night that ſhe performs, exerts her talents to please taylors, hair-dreſſers, tinners, nay, even chimney-ſweepers, when they can raiſe a ſhilling to purchaſe a ſeat among the Gods. It is the height of folly for ſuch a woman to complain of her feelings being hurt by meeting a barber on her dreſſing-room ſtairs.
Call it by its right name, ſaid a perſon that ſtood by me, it is pride.
Pride was not made for man, nor woman neither, I’ll be ſworn; it ſpoils the fineſt ſet of features in the world, and is more pernicious to a pretty face than paint to a lovely complexion;—it fits but aukwardly on a dutcheſs—and the Queen never uſes it.
What Queen? ſaid he— 71 F6r 71 Why the Britiſh Queen, to be ſure, ſaid I— But then you make no diſtinction, ſaid he, between the conſcious dignity of a queen, and the pert ſupercilious airs of a favourite actreſs: if the world were guided by the bright example ſet from the Britiſh throne, pride would be entirely aboliſhed.
That would be a heavenly thing, ſaid I; for the annihilation of pride is like the diſſolution of the body, it unfetters the ſoul, and leaves it free and unconfined to ſoar above the ſtars.
I have frequently been engaged in diſputes concerning women of this profeſſion—it puts me beyond all patience to hear people advance an opinion ſo very contracted and illiberal, as that of ſuppoſing no woman can be virtuous who is on the ſtage—I know many at this time who are ornaments not only to their profeſſion, but to the ſex in general: even the lady I have juſt mentioned, is generous, humane and prudent, pride is her only fault— Charming woman! I have often ſaid, when I was enchanted with her performance of ſome amiable character—conquer but that one foible, and our admiration will riſe into veneration.—I am confident a woman may, if ſhe is ſo inclined, be as virtuous as Lucrece behind the ſcenes of a theatre. Virtue begets reſpect wherever ſhe appears; on the contrary, a woman of looſe inclination, though ſhe is immured in a convent, will find opportunities of doing evil.—It is a great pity ſo many women belonging to the ſtage are thus inclined; but why 72 F6v 72 ſhould we, on account of thoſe that are bad, condemn a Siddons, Brunton, Kemble, or Pope?—Why ſhould a woman, if ſhe is a good wife, daughter, or mother, be leſs reſpected becauſe ſhe has genius to contribute to our amuſement, by bringing before our eyes heroines we have ſo often read of, and exhibiting characters we ſo greatly admire?— for my part, I never judge of a perſon from their profeſſion or ſituation in life; it is from their actions I form an idea of their diſpoſition; and as I think genius and merit derive as much eſteem when we meet with them in an humble manſion as when they inherit palaces, ſo are virtue and prudence as valuable an acquiſition in an actreſs, as in the daughter of a peer, and alike to be eſteemed and reſpected.
It is aſtoniſhing to me, how people can complain for want of amuſement. I am never a moment without ſomething to amuſe, inſtruct, or intereſt me—I never walk abroad, but I am attentive to every little incident that happens: a ſolitary, ſlow pace, the folded arms, or down-caſt eye, will excite my compaſſion, and a joyous ſerene aſpect will exhilirate my ſpirits—even in a wilderneſs, where never human ſtep marked the green turf, or ſwept the dew drops from the waving graſs, even there I would find company, converſation, and amuſement.73 G1r 73
To a thinking mind, the book of nature is ever open for our peruſal; and a ſoul warmed by ſenſibility and gratitude, reads the divine pages with pleaſure, and contemplates the great ſource of all with wonder, reverence, and love.
As I wandered along, encouraging theſe pleaſing reflections, I ſaw an old man buying ſome ſtale bread and meat at the window of a mean eating- houſe; he ſtood with his back towards me; his coat was dirty and torn; his whole appearance was expreſſive of the moſt abject poverty.—Friend, ſaid I, going up to him, perhaps this trifle may procure you a better meal, putting half a guinea into his hand.
It always gives my heart a pang, when I ſee age and diſtreſs combined—age, of itſelf, always brings anguiſh enough.—How very inſupportable, then, muſt it be, when there are no comforts, no little indulgencies, to compenſate for thoſe days of unavoidable pain.
As I preſented my little donation, I looked in the old man’s face—I thought I had ſeen the features, but could not recollect where.
Humanity is not entirely baniſhed from the world, ſaid he, turning part from me to conceal his emotion.
I immediately knew his voice—it was the old lieutenant.—Good God! ſaid I, ſtopping him as he was going from me, what has reduced you to this diſtreſſed ſituation?G 74 G1v 74
Misfortune, ſaid he. And did not you know where I lived? I was aſhamed to beg, ſaid he—a ſudden glow paſſing over his languid features—and I thought, Sir, you would be aſhamed to own an acquaintance with poverty.
You ſhall go home with me, ſaid I, calling an hackney-coach—let thoſe take ſhame to themſelves who deny a part of their wealth to merit in diſtreſs. I am proud to acknowledge myſelf the friend of a man of worth, though he ſhould be in the loweſt ſituation. And why, ſaid I, as we drove towards home, why ſhould a man be aſhamed of his miſfortunes? why ſhould poverty call a bluſh upon the cheek of merit; we did not mark out our own fortunes.
But then the world, the world, Sir, will always ſcoff and ſpurn the man humbled by the griping hand of penury: nor is there an object that in general meets with more contempt from the rich and powerful, than thoſe who have ſeen better days, but are reduced by unavoidable miſfortunes to a dependence on their ſmiles.
Strange infatuation! to ſet themſelves, in the pride of their hearts, above their fellow creatures; and for what, truly? becauſe a little more yellow dirt has fallen to their ſhare. I believe there are but few who know the true value of riches, and fewer ſtill reflect that they are only ſtewards of the wealth which the bounty of their flawed-reproduction13 words 75 G2r 75 an account of our ſtewardſhip, the man who from a truly compaſſionate nature has wiped the tear from the eyes of orphans, ſoftened the fetters of the captive, or cheared the widow, will receive a greater reward than the oſtentatious wretch, who, having ſpent his whole life in amaſſing treaſure, on his death-bed, when he can no longer enjoy it, leaves it for the endowment of an hoſpital. ſuch a man is not charitable from his feelings for others, but an inordinate deſire he has to have his own memory held in veneration.
And do you think there are ſuch characters in the world, ſaid the old lieutenant?
I fear there are too many, friend, ſaid I.
I know not how it was, ſaid he, but I never ſuſpected mankind of half the vices and follies I have found in this ſhort month that I have been in London; and even now I do not think their errors proceed half ſo much from the badneſs of their hearts as their heads. I own, continued he, it is our duty to render every ſervice in our power to our fellow creatures, but why ſhould one, becauſe he has a juſt ſenſe of his duty, and diſcharges it faithfully, deſpiſe another becauſe he has not the ſame feelings. I felt a conſciouſneſs of having, in commending benevolence, ſounded my own praiſe—it was my turn to be aſhamed.—I felt abaſhed, and ſhrunk, 76 G2v 76 as it were, into nothing. —Oh man! what a poor weak creature thou art, when even in the moment of diſcharging thy duty, thy own heart, eaſily led aſtray, will vaunt and boaſt its own ſuperiority. —The moſt benevolent action in the world loſes its intrinſic merit, when the man who performs it ſays to himſelf, I am better than my neighbour; I am not hard hearted, nor proud, nor avaricious.
No, cries humility, but you are vain-glorious.
I was quite diſconcerted, and could not forgive myſelf.
I had ordered my ſervant to ſupply Mr. Nelſon (for that was the name of the old lieutenant) with every thing neceſſary to appear in at dinner, and then went to ſeek my Emma. —I found her in the garden—the young lady I had reſcued laſt night, was buſy in platting a little lock of hair, and placing it in a fanciful manner to the bottom of a picture which hung round her neck. When ſhe had finiſhed, ſhe glanced her eye towards us, and thinking ſhe was not obſerved, preſſed it ſeveral times to her lips. I thought I ſaw a tear in her eye, but the chaſte look, the religious fervour with which ſhe gazed upon the portrait, convinced me it was a tear whoſe ſource might be acknowledged without a bluſh.77 G3r 77
She had dropped the picture, and, reſting one arm upon a pedeſtal, ſeemed attentively watching Harriet and Lucy, who had dreſſed a little favourite dog in their dolls cloaths, and was teaching it to dance a minuet.—The ſcene was pictureſque; and I know not how long I might have contemplated it with ſilent ſatiſfaction, had I not obſerved Mr. Nelſon coming towards me with eager ſtep and anxious eye.
Tell me, who is that? ſaid he, pointing to the young lady—but that I think ’tis impoſſible, I ſhould ſay ’tis my Narciſſa.
At the ſound of his voice the young lady looked up, and advancing a few ſteps, ſtood in an attitude of wonder and aſtoniſhment, till he pronounced the name of Narciſſa; when ſpringing like lightning to him, ſhe threw her arms round his neck, and cried, Yes, yes, I am your child.
It would be doing injuſtice to the reſt of the ſcene, were I to attempt to deſcribe it—words could not ſpeak the feelings of their hearts—It was a meeting between a fond father and an affectionate child—and I leave it to ſuch to judge of their happineſs.
When we had dined, and the cloth was removed —Tell me, my dear Sir, ſaid Narciſſa, by what G2 78 G3v 78 lucky accident you came acquainted with this gentleman, and what brought you at this time to London?
How can you aſk me that, my child? replied the old man; did you think your mother and myſelf could ſit quietly down when you had been abſent from us near a month, and we had never had a ſingle line from you?
I wrote twice a week, ſaid Narciſſa, wiping her eyes—ſhe could not bear to hear her mother had been diſtreſſed.
The old man continued—
I was too much intereſted in the ſafety of my dear girl to be at eaſe under ſuch diſagreeable appearances; ſo leaving your mother what money I could ſpare, I ſat out to walk to London, but was prevented by this gentleman.—On my arrival in town I went to the place where the old lady reſided, and was told by her ſervant that you were gone out of town to paſs a few weeks—I walked to the place whither I was directed, but could find no ſuch perſon—My little ſtock was almost exhauſted—I went again to the lady’s houſe, and was treated by her ſervant with inſolence.
Narciſſa laid her hand on his ſhoulder, and gave him a look that I am ſure would have healed every wound the ſervant’s inſolence had given his heart, though they had been a thouſand.
Oh! filial love, fair daughter of gratitude, ſiſter to piety, thou firſt favourite of Heaven, to whom long life and proſperous days are promiſed, how 79 G4r 79 doth thy angel’s face and ſoothing hand make the paternal evening of life clear and unclouded!—But I am wandering from my ſtory.
I was now, continued Mr. Nelſon, reduced to my laſt ſhilling, and being a week in arrears for my lodging, was forced to ſell my coat, and be content with an old ragged ſurtout—I wrote to the lady two days ſince, but received no anſwer, and was almost driven to deſpair—when chance again threw me in the way of this gentleman—But how am I to account for your being here, my child?— what was the cauſe of your neglect and ſilence?— I think, Narciſſa, if you had known my anxiety, you would have relieved it by either coming or writing to me.
The perſon to whoſe care you entruſted me, ſaid Narciſſa, was a vile woman; and it is only by a miracle I can have eſcaped her ſnare—I never knew you was in town—I have been whirled about from one folly to another, and have been witneſs to ſuch ſcenes of ſhame as made me ſhudder; but I was told it was uſual for people of quality to lead a life of riot, which my vile preceptreſs termed pleaſure.—A young nobleman paid me particular attention, talked much of love and ſettlements, and grandeur, but never mentioned marriage—I was ever on my guard; nor, indeed, was my heart 80 G4v 80 prepoſſeſſed in his favour—His perſon was not unpleaſing, but his manner was diſguſting, his morals corrupt, and his converſation unchaſte—I had frequently entreated leave to return to the country; frequently wrote to you, my dear father, deſiring to be commanded home—But laſt night, laſt night—
She then proceeded to give him an account of what has been already related to the reader.—When ſhe mentioned the villain’s attempt upon her honor, her father looked down to the ſide where his ſword uſed to hang—then at his hand—then at his child —then at his hand again—
It is not ſo withered, ſaid he, but it might ſend a ſword to his heart—It is not ſo much unnerved, ſaid he, riſing, and placing himſelf in an attitude of defence, but it might make a villain tremble.
He is beneath your anger, ſaid Narciſſa, taking his hand and kiſſing it—this hand, ſaid ſhe, that ſo often has fought for the honor of your country, ſhall never be ſullied with the blood of a coward; for who but a coward would ruin a poor, defenceleſs woman.
Who but a coward indeed, cried I, for who can look at a woman in all her native lovelineſs, helpleſs, unarmed, and devoid of the leaſt defence againſt the numerous dangers that await her; who that 81 G5r 81 ſees her ſweet looks, that ſeem to ſpeak in nature’s pure language—behold I am at your mercy, you are my protector, I am weak and defenceleſs, it is you muſt guard me—who but a barbarian after having ſeen woman in this light, would attempt to injure or inſult her? Yet do I bluſh while I confeſs it, inſtead of remembering our duty towards the lovely ſex, man, who was deſigned by Heaven as their friend, is become their ſeducer; and the fairer the flower, the more eager are they to blaſt it—like the ſcaley ſnake, who tries to draw to its devouring jaws the harmleſs bird that thoughtleſs hops from ſpray to ſpray; he twines about, ſhews all his gilded ſcales, baſks in the ſun, rears up his creſted head, and courts the little ſongſter to his ſnare—It ventures firſt to gaze at a diſtance on him, then, by degrees, draws nearer to admire, till, faſcinated by his ſubtile arts, it drops into his jaws, and meets deſtruction.
Oh! how my heart has often bled to ſee ſo many lovely women, who were intended by nature to be the pleaſing bond of ſociety, the ſource of virtuous pleaſures, reduced to the ſad alternative of periſhing for want, or living on the wages of proſtitution. —But oh! woman, when thou canſt ſo far forget what is due to thy own ſex, as to be acceſſary to the ruin of the innocent, my heart ſwells with indigation—thou art then like the fallen angel, who, when in heaven, was the firſt among the bright ethereal bodies, but falling, becomes the loweſt; and envious of thoſe joys which he can never82 G5v 82 ver taſte, exerts his arts, his malice, and deceit, to draw down others to the ſame dark abyſs which he himſelf is plunged in.
He had frequently begged of me—and when I relieved him, returned a look of gratitude—I always feel myself intereſted for thoſe poor creatures who are brought from their native country, and expoſed to all the horrors of famine in a place with whoſe cuſtoms and language they are entirely unacquainted—I ſay, within myſelf, what a poor miſerable wretch ſhould I be, if I were left in their country, without money or friends—We can never feel, properly, the woes of another, unleſs we place ourſelves, for a few moments, in their ſituation.
This man was generally near my habitation, and I often felt ſomething like curioſity to know his hiſ tory—He appeared to me ſuperior to the common rank of beggars—I will aſk him, ſaid I, one day; perhaps it may lie in my power to make his life a little more tolerable—I ſent for him to my ſtudy, and having proffered my ſervice, inquired into his former fortunes—Chriſtian, ſaid he, I am a man who hold your race in utter abhorrence— I have been injured, vilely injured, by them, in return for kindneſs and friendſhip—I have my hiſtory83 G6r 83 tory by me, written in my own language; if you can tranſlate it, I will bring it you; and you will then ſee how little I ought to depend on the word or promiſe of a Chriſtian.
End of the first volume.
In Three Volumes.
By Victoria., Author of
Printed for Mathew Carey, Bookſeller,
Street, near Fourth.
Poor fellow! ſaid I, looking at him with an eye of compaſſion as he went out of the apartment. —Poor fellow! thou haſt been hardly uſed by one man who called himſelf a Chriſtian, and it makes thee ſuſpect the whole race—But, ſurely, ſaid I, it is not a man’s barely profeſſing Chriſtianity, that makes him worthy that character; a man muſt behave with humanity, not only to his fellow-creatures, but to the animal creation, before he can be ranked with propriety among that exalted claſs of mortals.
The man who with unmerciful hand ſcourges his ſlave, does he then remember that the perſon he is chaſtiſing is endowed with the ſame ſense of feeling as himſelf, and is as ſenſible of pain, hunger, thirſt, cold, aye, and all the ſocial bleſſings of life? has filial, conjugal, and paternal affection?—then why, becauſe he is a ſlave, ſhould you beſtow on him painful ſtripes, when yourſs ſelf would ſhrink to receive but the ſmalleſt of them?—Does the name of Slave,— 88 H2v 88 Slave! ſaid I, riſing as I ſpoke, while the ſanguine tide that plays about my heart, ruſhed unbidden to my cheeks—
Why did I bluſh, why did I tremble, as I pronounced the word ſlave? —It was becauſe I was aſhamed of the appellation—It is a word that ſhould never be uſed between man and man—The negro on the burning ſands of Africa, was born as free as him who draws his firſt breath in Britain—and ſhall a Chriſtian, a man whoſe mind is enlightened by education and religion, for a little ſordid pelf, ſell the freedom of this poor negro, only becauſe he differs from him in complexion?—What right has an European to ſell an African? do they leave their native land, and ſeek our coaſt, by arts entice our countrymen away, and make them ſlaves?—
I walked out, and endeavoured to diſſipate the diſagreeable reflection; but the idea of ſlavery purſued me ſtill.
Unhappy man, ſaid I, as buſy fancy drew out the ſad ſcene.
She held up to my mind’s eye, a man born to a good inheritance, and ſurrounded with all the comforts, all the bleſſings, he deſired—but he was a negro.
He was ſitting in his little hut, his jetty companion by his ſide; one infant at her breaſt, two others89 H3r 89 thers prattling at her knee; ſhe looked, ſhe felt happy. Her huſband, her children, were with her; ſerenity played on every countenance; content had fixed her habitation in their dwelling—Some Europeans enter—they deck his beloved children with baubles—they tie beads round the arms of his wife —and ornament her jetty locks with glittering toys —He is charmed with their courteſy—He walks with them to the ſea ſide, and takes his boy, his eldeſt darling, with him—they invite them on board the veſſel—Poor ſoul! unſuſpecting their treachery, he goes, and bids adieu to liberty for ever—His wife, taking advantage of his abſence, trims up their hut—lays her dear babes to ſleep—and then prepares a ſupper for her love, compoſed of wholeſome roots and fruit—She wonders why he ſtays— She leaves her home, and walks towards the ſea; ſhe ſees him embark—her child goes too—the ſailors ſpread the ſails—the veſſel moves—ſhe ſhrieks— but there my heart was wrung ſo keenly, I could go no farther.
I left the wife, and followed the poor negro—he had no comfort but the idea that he ſhould be with his child; that he ſhould have it in his power to eaſe him if heavy talks were impoſed, to guard him from dangers, and teach him to be reſigned and contented.—They arrive at Barbadoes— they are expoſed to ſale, and allotted to different maſters.
Alas! poor man, tears and intreaties are vain; you are in the hands of the ſons of Mammon.H2 90 H3v 90
Fancy ſtill led me forward—I ſaw him when age and infirmities came on without one comfort, without one friend, on a miſerable bed, ſickneſs and ſad remembrance his only companions—he is weary of life—he offers up a prayer for his ſtill dear companion, for his children, his hapleſs enslaved child— He dies—and is thrown into the grave without a prayer to conſecrate the ground, without one tear of affection or regret being ſhed upon his bier.
Had not that poor negro a ſoul?
Yes—and in futurity it ſhall appear white and ſpotleſs at the throne of Grace, to confound the man who called himſelf a Chriſtian, and yet betrayed a fellow-creature into bondage.
It would give me a great deal of pleaſure, ſaid I, to have the hiſtory of the Eaſt Indian—but when I have got it, how ſhall I tranſlate it?—I know nothing of the language; but, perhaps I may be able to procure a perſon to translate it for me.
How do you do? my good friend, ſaid a man, rather ſhabbily dreſſed.—Now I make it a rule never to turn my back on a man becauſe he had rather wear a thread-bare coat, than run in debt with his taylor; ſo I turned about to preſent my hand to the perſon who addreſſed me with ſuch cordiality, and perceived in him the features of an old ſchoolfellow.
I fear, ſaid I, as we went forward— I fear you have not been ſucceſſful in gaining any permanent ſettlement—pray how have you diſpoſed of yourſelf theſe laſt ſeven years?
I have, he replied, been ſtrangely toſſed about, beheld various ſcenes, tried many different plans, and been unſucceſſful in them all.
When I left Oxford, I was recommended by a friend of my father’s to be preceptor to the only ſon of a man of large fortune—he was a ſprightly, ſenſible lad, but extremely capricious in his humour, which was owing to his parent’s never allowing him to be contradicted. For a month or ſix weeks we went on very well; my young getleman was fond of learning, took every thing with ſurpriſing facility, and gave me little or no trouble in obliging him to attend his book—but the unbounded applauſe he received from his parents, the careſſes and indulgencies they were continually heaping on him, and the praiſe every caſual gueſt was obliged to beſtow on this darling of the family, ſoon made him think he was as learned as any of the ſeven wiſe men of Greece, and therefore had no farther need of a preceptor.
When I found he grew careleſs and neglectful, I thought a little correction might be neceſſary but, on trying the experiment, was called by the over-fond mother, an inhuman monſter; and the 92 H4v 92 father thought his boy had a genius too bright to require ſuch rough methods of proceeding. In ſhort, Sir, having no power over the child, he ſoon loſt what little learning he had at firſt attained; and I was diſmiſſed with the character of having ruined the boy’s genious by ill-timed and unmerciful correction.
As I had taken orders, I lived for ſome time by occaſionally reading prayers, or preaching for a vicar who was very old and infirm, but having a large family, could not well afford to pay a conſtant curate.—In the courſe of this time I became acquainted with a young lady, poſſeſſed of every virtue that might render her a deſirable companion; add to this, ſhe had two hundred pounds in her own poſſeſſion, and lived with an uncle, who, beſides an affluent fortune, had an excellent living in his gift—the old incumbent of which was in a very declining ſtate of health—had Maria been poor I ſhould have loved her; but I ſhould never have thought of marrying her in the circumſtances I then was, as I knew it muſt involve us both in miſery. She was all gentleneſs; and while ſhe thought the ſentiment ſhe felt for me was only pity for my precarious, diſagreeable ſituation, it by degrees ripened into a tender and laſting affection.—Her uncle had ever ſtudied her happineſs, and thinking it would ſoon be in his power to ſettle us both in an eaſy, deſirable living, he encouraged my pretenſions, and in a few months made me the huſband of Maria.93 H5r 93
It would be needleſs to mention the happineſs I enjoyed for eight months with this amiable woman; ſuffice it to ſay, I envied not the wealthieſt or moſt opulent man in Europe. But our happineſs was too great to be permanent—her uncle had ever been a man of ſound conſtitution, and though then in the ſixtieth year of his age, gave no ſigns of infirmity or decay: but, alas! who can depend on ſo frail a thing as life? —One morning, having waited breakfaſt till near ten o’clock, ſurpriſed at the old gentleman’s lying ſo long, as he was in general an early riſer, I tapped at his chamber door, but received no anſwer. I opened it, and went in, and found he had taken his final leave of this world. I felt myſelf extremely ſhocked; but fearing for Maria, who, at that time was pregnant, I compoſed myſelf, and going down, told her that her uncle being rather indiſpoſed, deſired not to be diſturbed.
On pretenſe of going for an apothecary, I went and informed an intimate friend of Maria’s with the melancholy affair. We determined ſhe ſhould call and take Maria out, and by various methods keep her from home all day; when in the evening we would, by degrees, acquaint her with the ſad tidings—But all theſe precautions were vain.— During my abſence, one of the ſervants had entered the room, which, in my agitated ſtate of mind, I had forgot to lock, and inſtantly alarmed her miſtreſs. At my return, I found my poor Maria in an agony of grief, which, however, was 94 H5v 94 happily of no ill conſequence to herſelf or the infant.
When my uncle was buried, we examined his papers, and no will being found, a diſtant male relation took poſſeſſion of the whole eſtate. I removed with my wife from the houſe; ſtill flattering myſelf, when the old incumbent died, I ſhould have the living, but I was miſtaken. In a few months the old man paid the debt of nature, and the living was diſpoſed of to another perſon.
Our diſappointment was very great—but the two hundred pounds Maria poſſeſſed, hindered us from being immediately expoſed to want, but that ſum was gradually decreaſing—beſide a child, which was born ſoon after my uncle’s deceaſe, Maria promiſed to make me father of another. At any other time, this would have given me great pleaſure—but the unſettled ſtate of my affairs, made me regret that this poor little infant was coming into a world to inherit nothing but penury.
About this time I was recommended to Lord Ernoff, whoſe eldeſt ſon was going abroad, and wanted a governor; however painful it might be to part with Maria, yet the promiſe of a handſome ſalary led me to accept the propoſal.
I left the dear woman, and ſet out to make the tour of Europe with my young Lord.—I had been abſent from my native country three years, and found myſelf highly in favour with the young gentleman abroad; and his father at home—who, to recompenſe my fidelity to his 95 H6r 95 ſon, was continually heaping favours on Maria and the children.
We were at Madrid, when my Lord commenced an intrigue with a woman of rank and reputation. —It was in vain I repreſented to him the dangerous conſequences that might enſue from ſuch an illicit amour.—The more I remonſtrated, the more obſtinate he appeared; and unfortunately ſoon ſucceeded in ruining the object of his diſhonourabele purſuit.
Having obtained every favour from the eaſy, thoughtleſs Leonilla, he was preparing to leave Madrid.—She was informed of his deſign (and the revenge of a Spanish woman, when injured, being always adequate to the love they once bore their ſeducer) ſhe hired bravoes to diſpatch this young nobleman the night preceding that appointed for our departure.
We had dined out—and the evening being fine, preferred walking home, rather than going in a carriage.
I perceived two men watch and follow us through every ſtreet, till coming to one that was dark and unfrequented, one of the men came up and attempted to ſtab my Lord.—I drew my ſword, and aiming at the villain’s heart, threw myſelf before the young nobleman, and received the poignard of the ſecond aſſaſſin in my own boſom.
This little ſcuffle having made ſome noiſe, people ſoon gathered round, when the ruffians finding themſelves diſappointed in their arms, made off.— My Lord, thinking a longer ſtay at Madrid would 96 H6v 96 be dangerous, left me to the care of a ſurgeon and nurſe, and departed next morning for Paris, from whence he propoſed returning to England.
My friend was proceeding in his narrative, when our attention was engaged by the appearance of a woman habited like a pilgrim, but in deep mourning—ſuch appearance being uncommon in England, it naturally excited our curioſity.
We were in Kensington Gardens.— The mourner’s ſtature was above the lower ſize, and there was a certain dignity about her which ſpoke her of no common rank—her features had once been lovely; and even now, though pale and marked with grief, there was a ſomething in them that engaged the affections, and inſenſibly drew the heart towards her.—She ſeated herſelf upon the ground, and reſting her elbow on the root of a tree —her head reclining penſively on her hand—ſhe plucked up ſome wild daiſies that grew round her —it amuſed her for the moment, but recollecting herſelf, ſhe cried— They will ſoon die, and I have killed them.
The thought ſeemed to give her exquiſite pain.— She dropped the daiſies on the ground, and burſt into tears.
I will not look at them, ſaid ſhe, riſing, and bending her ſteps another way.97 I1r 97
Alas! poor ſoul, ſaid I, it is not theſe flowers you would fly from, it is yourſelf and your own painful reflections.
That is very true, ſaid ſhe (turning towards me, and laying her hand on my arm) I would fain forget that I was the murderer of an innocent man—I am trying to expiate my fault by faſting and hard penance. I have come a pilgrimage of many hundred miles on foot, nor reſted my weary limbs, but when neceſſity obliged me to croſs the ſea.—If I could find the woman I have made a widow, and the children I have rendered orphans, I would do ſomething to make their lives happy, and then return home, and devote myſelf to the Bleſſed Virgin.
Alas, continued ſhe, ſtill reſting on my arm, and laying her other hand on her heart— alas, you know not what a ſad thing it is to be an orphan. I once had a father—had he lived—but, poor man, he had been to the wars; and when he returned, he met my mother’s corpſe juſt going to the grave. —He wept not—he never once complained, but following in ſilence, ſaw her interred—then laid himſelf down on the cold turf that covered her, and never roſe again.
Here ſhe ſeemed quite loſt— and leaving me abruptly, walked to a retired part of the garden.
I never felt my pity ſo ſtrongly excited as at this moment.—The whole tenor of the mourner’s diſcourſe and actions diſcovered the diſorder of her I 98 I1v 98 mind. ſhe ſeemed to have experienced a variety of miſfortunes which had baniſhed fair reaſon from her throne. Poor girl, ſaid I, how ſeverely muſt your heart have been wrung before you were drove to this miſerable ſituation!
But come, ſaid I, turning to my friend, finiſh your recital.—He attempted to ſpeak, but was forced to ſtop—ſomething roſe in his throat— I felt the ſame in mine—but what that was, I will leillegible1-3 letters to the imagination of every reader of ſenſibility.
My Lord’s departing from Madrid without me, continued my friend, occaſioned a report to be ſpread that I had died of my wounds, and indeed never was a man nearer the confines of the grave than I was—but by the care and attention of the people that were about me, I was in ſix weeks able to go into the country, where I remained above two months in a languid, weak ſtate, during which time I received not one line from my Lord—as ſoon as I found myſelf able to bear the fatigue of travelling, I ſet forward for England, where I arrived about ten months ſince, and found my dear Maria in a ſituation truly deplorable—The old Earl was dead, and the ſon daily expected from Paris, where he had made a longer ſtay than he at first intended— Maria had been ſix months without receiving99 I2r 99 ceiving any money on my account, as my Lord had wrote to his father’s ſteward, informing him that I choſe to be left at Madrid—I endeavoured to get employ; and, after many fruitleſs attempts, at laſt got a curacy of thirty pounds a year, which is but trifling to ſupport a wife and two children—I have frequently wrote to my Lord, who has been at his ſeat in Eſſex ever ſince his arrival in England; but either has been prevented from anſwering any letters by a multiplicity of buſineſs, or he does not chooſe to be troubled with an indigent friend—Yet I cannot bring myſelf to think it poſſible for a human being to be ſo ungrateful as to turn a deaf ear to the complaint of a man who once ſaved his life, at the hazard of his own—He arrived in town three days ſince; and this day, at two o’clock, I propoſe waiting on him, and requeſting his aſſiſtance.
We will take an hackney-coach, and I will ſet you down at his door, ſaid I.
When we arrived within ten yards of the house, I ſtopped the coach, and getting out, wiſhed my friend a good morning, and turned down a ſtreet, only to put on my ring—when quickening my pace, I was at the Earl’s door as ſoon as he was.
A ſervant appeared, whoſe inſolent carriage beſpoke the character of his Lord.
You may always judge of a man’s general demeanor and diſpoſition by the behaviour of his ſervant, the lower claſs of mankind always aping the manners of their ſuperiors.100 I2v 100
After ſome heſitation, and a few leering, ſaucy looks at the ruſty garb of my friend, he left him ſtanding in the hall, and went up to my Lord.
Having waited a full quarter of an hour he again made his appearance at the top of the ſtairs, and reaching his body partly over the balluſtrades, called out, You may come up.
I followed him into the chamber of the young Earl—He was ſitting in an eaſy chair, dreſſed in a long robe de chambre, a diſh of chocolate in one hand and the newſ-paper in the other;—his back was partly toward the door;—and on my friend’s being announced, he neither turned his head nor raiſed his eyes from the paper—
I have taken the earlieſt opportunity to wait on your Lordſhip, ſaid my friend, bowing.
Oh, Mr. Teachum, ſaid my Lord, I am glad to ſee you—Set Mr. Teachum a chair—ſaid he to the ſervant—and when did you arrive in England, Mr. Teachum?
I had the honour of informing your Lordſhip by letter, he replied, about ſix months ſince, and of the miſtake that was made concerning my ſalary, which was ſtopped from the time your Lordſhip left Madrid.
Why, Teachum, ſaid my Lord, lifting up his eyes, for the firſt time, from the paper, and looking at my friend with a ſort of ſurpriſe, I thought from that time you was free from my ſervice.
Very true, my Lord; but the wound I received in your Lordſhip’s ſervice confined me to my apartment101 I3r 101 ment for a long time; and the attendance I received was very expenſive—I had nothing to depend on but your Lordſhip’s bounty.
Well, I will ſee and recompenſe you for your ſalary’s being ſtopped— Pray, how have you lived ſince your return to England?
But poorly, my Lord; I have but thirty pounds a year.
My Lord again looked up; but it was a look of diſbelief. And how many children have you? Two, my Lord; a boy and a girl.
Well, I will ſee and do ſomething for the boy— and let me think—yes, there’s the living at Wiltham, about three hundred a year—that will just ſuit you—call on me again in a day or two; I ſhall always be glad to ſee you.
So ſaying, he got up, and without farther ceremony, walked into the next room—my friend departed, and I followed my Lord—He pulled the bell—John, ſaid he to the ſervant that entered, I deſire you will tell the porter never to admit that ſhabby parſon again; I don’t like to be teazed with viſits from ſuch mean-looking people.
Mr. Bauble waits below, ſaid the ſervant.
Deſire Mr. Bauble to walk up—and when Miſs L’Estrange comes, let me know.
The jeweller entered, and in a few moments after, Miſs L’Estrange, whoſe levity of carriage, ſtudiedI2 102 I3v 102 died negligence, and confident ſtare, at once ſpoke her profeſſion.
A number of jewels were diſplayed; and this Lord, who had not a guinea to ſpare for the poor man who ſaved his life, laviſhed four hundred pounds on jewels for an infamous ſtrumpet.
And is ſuch a man, ſaid I, as I left the houſe, is ſuch a man as this a peer of the realm? can he, who ought to ornament the nation, thus ſhamefully diſgrace it!—Of all the crimes a man can commit, ingratitude is the blackeſt: It argues a depravity of heart, a mind ſtupid and inſenſible; it ſets a man below the brute creation—the animal world in general are grateful, affectionate and faithful—But man—man, whoſe boaſted reaſon makes him lord over thoſe who act merely from inſtinct, loſes his ſuperiority by folly and ingratitute—I am certain that the man who is unmindful of a benefit conferred on him by a brother mortal, is totally deſtitute of gratitude toward the great ſource of his life, health and proſperity.
I will go and ſee Teachum, ſaid I, one day, after having recounted his ſtory to my Emma—She would accompany me—
Their habitation was ſmall, but every thing about was neat to exceſs; there was nothing to be ſeen that ſpoke distreſs; the children were clean; Maria herself, though her attire was plain, appeared103 I4r 103 peared the model of elegance—ſhe was hearing her children their leſſon; they ſtood before her, reading each alternately a verſe from the ſacred writings.
Teachum was leaning over the back of her chair, gazing at his children, with eyes expreſſive of as much pleaſure, and far more ſerenity, than the miſer who contemplates his hoarded treaſure—
We are come to ſpend an hour with you, ſaid I, leading my Emma into the room.
Maria was embarraſſed; but ſhe was too polite to make unneceſſary excuſes concerning her dreſs or apartment—I always think ſuch apologies are a ſort of reproof for an untimely visit.
Have you ſeen my Lord lately? ſaid I.
He is never at home, replied Teachum. I am ſorry for it, ſaid I; and believe me, my friend, I think your attendance on him is entirely unneceſſary, and your hopes from that quarter fruitleſs—I have taken the liberty of calling, to offer you any ſervice that is in my power, and to beg you will look upon me as your friend. I ſhall hope to ſee you often at my house.
And I hope, ſaid Emma, that Mrs. Teachum and my little friends here will always accompany you.
I have been ſadly perplexed for theſe few days, ſaid I, changing the converſation—I have got a manuſcript in my poſſeſſion written in the Eaſtern language; I am certain it contains ſome extraordinary incidents, but cannot get at the particulars, being 104 I4v 104 almoſt entirely unacquainted with the characters it is wrote in.
It is lucky, ſaid Teachum, that you have mentioned it to me; I ever took great pleaſure in ſtudying the Eaſtern languages; and am a great admirer of their ſtyle; it is ſimple and elegant, and though we may tranſlate it with tolerable correctneſs, we can never entirely preſerve its native purity—If you will put the manuſcript into my hands I will uſe my endeavours to tranſlate it. I have many leiſure hours, in which I amuſe myſelf with my pen.
I was highly pleaſed with the idea of having the adventures of the poor Indian in my native language, and deſired Teachum to call on me next day; when, fearful of paining them by a longer viſit, we reluctantly took our leave.
Emma, at parting, put ſomething into the hand of the girl; and ſeeing I obſerved her, ſhe took my hand when we were ſeated in the carriage—it was but a trifle, my love, ſaid ſhe; and I had ſaved it from my own private expences.
Had ſhe juſt been giving away half my fortune, the look, the manner in which ſhe pronounced theſe words, would have inſtantly obtained forgiveneſs.
Emma intended to call on ſeveral of her acquaintance.—I hate viſits of ceremony—ſo alighting from the carriage; I ſtrolled into the fields.105 I5r 105
An itinerant preacher was mounted above a liſtening multitude, bawling out the virtues and excellencies of charity, and ſtrongly recommending brotherly love among the elect—all his cry was faith and charity; at the ſame time he declared every one to be in a ſtate of perdition that differed from his ſect in their opinion concerning religious matters. I never was partial to people of this perſuaſion; not that I condemn the whole claſs—no, far be it from me to cenſure a large body of people, becauſe ſome of the members are hypocrites.—I have known many people, who profeſs Methodiſm, humane, charitable, and juſt; but they were people of enlarged ideas, and liberal education—the ſolemn gait—ſanctified air—upcaſt eyes—and tongue ever ready with ſcripture phraſes and quotations, are by no means the ſigns of genuine piety.—A cheerful, contented diſpoſition—a heart grateful for every bleſſing, and reſigned to the all-wiſe diſpenſations of Providence—and a hand ready to beſtow on others part of the bleſſings we enjoy ourſelves; —theſe are the reſults of pure religion— theſe are the acceptable ſacrifices in the ſight of our Creator.
When the preacher had finiſhed his oration, he deſcended from the tub on which he had ſtood; and with his hat in his hand, walked round to his numerous congregation, every one warm with the impreſſion made by his diſcourſe, readily contributed ſomething towards the ſupport of a man who was ſo eloquent in recommending them to ſeek the right way to eternal happineſs.106 I5v 106
The collection that was made muſt have amply repaid him for the time and breath he had ſpent in exhorting them to charity.
I ſhould like to know, ſaid I, whether this man practiſes the virtue himſelf, he ſo ſtrongly recommends to others.
I put on my ring, and followed him home.
His habitation was at Chelſea—at his door he was met by a woman decently dreſſed, but dejected in her countenance—her eyes were ſwollen with tears.
Well, ſaid the man, puſhing rudely by her, is he gone?
He is gone, ſhe replied—gone for ever.
What, is he dead?
And in my houſe—why was he not removed to the work houſe?
Alas, Sir, replied the woman, the pariſh officers came to take him away; and the exertions he made to riſe and dreſs himſelf, being too much for his weak frame, he expired as they were putting him into the chair.
And who will pay for the funeral?
The pariſh will.
And do you think he ſhall go out of this houſe till I am paid my rent?—No, no, as he has died here, he ſhall ſtay till every farthing owing me is diſcharged.—Have you got any money now?
Not one halfpenny, or a morſel of bread for my poor children—But I will ſell my bed—it is the laſt 107 I6r 107 thing I have left, and we will henceforth ſleep on ſtraw.
You ſhall ſell nothing—touch nothing till I am paid.—What, do you think I am to loſe a whole year’s rent?
Have you no compaſſion on a poor widow and ſix fatherleſs children? ſaid the woman.
I do not know what busineſs ſuch poor folks have to get children, he replied. Go, go along woman; I am going to dinner, and cannot be troubled with your whining and complaints.
I took off my ring, and following the poor woman up ſtairs, gave her ſomething to quiet the apprehenſions her inhuman landlord’s diſcourſe had inſpired.
As I paſſed from the ſtaircaſe to the ſtreet door, I heard this teacher of charity pouring forth a long grace over his meat.
Hypocritical wretch! ſaid I, doſt thou think this lip ſervice is acceptable to God?—Miſtaken man, thou art mocking the Lord of the univerſe.—Go, divide your meal with the widow and the fatherleſs —it is the beſt way of ſhewing your gratitude to him who gave it to you.
Such men as this, ſaid I, as I left the houſe, are a great deal more prejudicial to ſociety than the profeſſed libertine. When we ſee a man neglect all religious duties—break through all ties, moral and divine, we naturally turn from him with horror and deteſtation.—But, when a man, under the cloak of piety and virtue, who profeſſes a juſt ſenſe of religion,108 I6r 108 gion, is diſcovered to be hard-hearted—oppreſſive— avaricious—ſelfiſh—in ſhort, living in the private practice of every vice he publicly declaims againſt; is it not enough to make the generality of the world conclude that religion is no more than a ſpecious maſk put on to deceive mankind?
Religion, in her own native ſimplicity, is truly lovely—ſhe attracts admiration—charms the ſoul by her precepts—and paſſing with us through life, blunts the points of thoſe arrows of affliction which it is the lot of every mortal to experience.
But, hypocriſy too often puts on her pleaſing garb; and, when diſcovered, leads mankind to think the angel-face of piety hides the foul fiend beneath.
Mr. Teachum was in my ſtudy full half an hour before I came down.— Well, my friend, ſaid I, as I entered, don’t you think I have got a fine parcel of writings?—Here in this drawer, pointing to one that was partly open, I keep all my heroic poetry—here is another for plays—another for odes, ſonnets, paſtorals,&c.—What a charming prize theſe would be to ſome garreted author; he might ſell all this waſte paper for at leaſt two-pence a pound—it would then turn to ſome account, for it might ſerve to wrap penny-worths of tobacco— light pipes, fires, &c. or, in ſhort, be applied to 109 K1r 109 any other use the poſſeſſor might want waſte paper for.
What an humiliating idea! ſaid my friend, ſmiling.
Not at all, ſaid I; in following the dictates of imagination, and employing my pen, I pleaſe, I amuſe myſelf—but if my writings are not ſo lucky as to pleaſe and amuſe others, why ſhould I be mortified?—Every man has a peculiar taſte; and between you and I, my friend, every man has a peculiar hobby-horſe, on which he frequently mounts, and rides away poſt haſte, without once conſidering who he may diſcompoſe, overturn, or offend in the wild career.
I know one man, who, though poſſeſſed of a very moderate fortune, and who has had but a confined education, is ſo fond of aping the inſolent carriage of a lord, that he is continually diſtreſſing his companions by affected grimaces, and ſtudies geſtures —then he ſpeaks in ſuch a pompous ſtyle, and aſſumes ſuch an air of conſequence, that while he thinks he is received with admiration, every man of ſenſe muſt laugh at his folly.
Another is fond of diſplaying his profound learning in the different ſciences—at one time he is a profeſſor of muſic—at another time he ſtudies logic and when by chance you mention either of thoſe ſciences, he will run on at leaſt two hours without either taking breath, or giving you an opportunity to edge in a ſingle word.K 110 K1v 110
Theſe are their hobby-horſes—writing is mine. I would not give up the pleaſure of writing for any pecuniary gratification that could be offered.
That is, ſaid my friend, becauſe you ſtand in need of no pecuniary favours; but aſk the poor author, who, in an airy apartment three ſtories from the ground, ſits invoking the coy muſes to aſſiſt him in writing ſomething to gain him a few guineas that might ſerve to ſatiſfy his butcher, baker, &c., —aſk him, my good friend, if he will give up the pleaſure of writing, to enjoy a ſettled ſalary of ſixty pounds a year.
He might readily promiſe to do ſo, ſaid I, but take my word for it, the very firſt time pen, ink, paper, and an opportunity fell in his way, he would write an eulogium on the man who had thus generouſly raiſed him from diſtreſs.
Oh, ye ſweet tuneful ſiſters, may ye never forſake my manſion; but when on the wing to viſit your favourites—Burney, Moore and Inchbald— ſtop for a moment, and dart a ſingle ray of your ſacred fire upon the humbleſt of your votaries—in a ſad hour it will enliven me—in a lonely hour amuſe —and when happineſs deigns to be my companion, it will increaſe every pleaſure.
But come, ſaid I to Teachum, here is the ſtory I wiſh you to tranſlate—I am going out for a few hours, and ſhall hope to ſee it in fair Engliſh characters when I come back.— You ſhall ſee part of it at leaſt, ſaid he. ſo I left him; and mounting 111 K2r 111 my horſe, which was at the door, rode into Hyde Park.
On my entering the Park, I ſaw at a diſtance, a multiplicity of people, ſome running one way, ſome another, and all in the utmoſt confuſion.—I rode up to the place, and the firſt thing that preſented itſelf to my view, was Miſs L’Eſtrange in a fit, and a few paces from her, a young man laying on the ground, bleeding. By his ſide knelt the fair mourner whom I had ſeen in Kenſington Gardens— ſhe was endeavouring to ſtaunch the blood that isſued from his ſide, with her handkerchief—it ſeemed a ſcene of confuſion, for no one was paying the leaſt attention to this wounded man, but this unhappy woman.
I called my ſervant, and giving him my horſe, raiſed the young man from the ground, and preſently perceived it was Lord Ernoff, whom Teachum had attended abroad.
I aſſisted the fair mourner to bind up his wound with our handkerchiefs, and a ſervant at that moment arriving with a ſurgeon and a litter, we lifted him on it, and proceeded to the neareſt houſe—the ſurgeon thinking the ſooner his wound was dreſſed the better.
The mourner followed penſively—often croſſing herſelf, ſighing, and weeping bitterly—no one attempted112 K2v 112 tempted to obſtruct her entrance into the houſe with us.
The wound was dreſſed, and the ſurgeon pronounced it not dangerous, provided a fever could be prevented.
Lord Ernoff had fainted through loſs of blood; and during the time of his wound being dreſſed, remained in a ſtate of inſenſibility.
It was judged proper that he ſhould be immediately put to bed; but, when the ſervant attempted to move him, the mourner came to me, and entreated that ſhe might not be ſeparated from him —for, indeed Sir, ſaid ſhe, I heartily forgive him —I do not wish his death now, though I once ſought to have aſſaſſinated him; but I have ſince been taught that we ſhould forgive thoſe who injured us. Alas! if it were not for the reflection that I am not at enmity with any mortal breathing, how ſhould I have hope to obtain pardon of my Creator for the heinous crime I have committed whilſt in purſuit of my revenge?
I thought from the few words that this hapleſs mourner could be no other than poor Leonilla.— I entreated the people of the houſe to let her remain with the wounded nobleman; and attended her up to his chamber, where he was in bed, and juſt recovering his ſenſes.
She approached the bed, and ſitting down on the ſide, took one of his hands—kiſſed it, and preſſed it to her boſom.113 K3r 113
He lifted his languid eyes, and fixed them on her face—at firſt they ſpoke amazement and terror— but at laſt grief.
Where am I? ſaid he—am I paſſing the bounds of mortality; and art thou, bleſt ſhade, ſuffered to conduct me through the gloomy vale?—I know why you look ſo mournful—you died of a broken heart—but I ſhall be puniſhed for my crimes.
Compoſe yourſelf, my Lord, ſaid the mourner— you are in no danger, I hope you may yet live many years, and be happy.
Do you talk of happineſs, ſaid he; and do you wiſh me happy?
I do! I do! ſo Heaven hear my prayers.
But, tell me, ſaid he, how came you here?—am I not in England?
She was going to anſwer—when I interpoſed and begged they would both be ſilent, and conſider of what dangerous conſequences a violent exertion of ſpirits might be to the young gentleman. ſhe promiſed obedience, drew the curtains round the bed, and ſat down in an eaſy chair that ſtood at the head. A nurſe entering; I took that opportunity to go and enquire what had been the cauſe of this unhappy affair.
The ſervant who attended Miſs L’Eſtrange and his Lordship in their ride that morning, gave me the following account:
That a ſtrange gentleman rode up to Miſs L’Eſtrange, and accoſting her in a very haughty manner, inquired why ſhe had left him at Paris, and K2 114 K3v 114 what ſhe had done with a miniature picture which ſhe had taken from his cabinet the morning before ſhe left him; the lady pretended not to know him, and complained to my lord that ſhe was inſulted; upon which, high words enſued between the ſtranger and Lord Ernoff, when the former, having a pair of piſtols ready in his pocket, offered one to my Lord, who being naturally of a warm diſpoſition, took it, and before any interpoſition could be made, they both fired; my Lord’s piſtol took no effect, but the ſtranger’s wounded him in the manner you have ſeen. At the diſcharge of the piſtols, Miſs L’Eſtrange fainted; but I believe it was more for fear of the life of the gentleman, than my Lord’s. I ran as faſt as I could for a ſurgeon.—
The ſervant was proceeding in his ſtory, when he was called away.
Having gained this intelligence, I determined to go immediately to Miſs L’Eſtrange, who was now an inmate of Lord Ernoff’s houſe, and ſee in what manner ſhe behaved, and whether the ſervant’s ſuſpicions were well founded.
I repaired immediately to his Lordſhip’s houſe— inquired for the lady, but was denied admittance— a chariot and four was at the door—I feared ſome foul play; and thinking there was no time to be loſt, I watched my opportunity, and putting on my ring, went into the houſe, and up to the lady’s apartment. I found her ſitting on a ſopha, with a large quantity of jewels, &c. on a table before her; ſhe was buſied in packing them up, but often 115 K4r 115 turned, and addreſſed ſome endearing expreſſions to an officer who ſat beſide her, entreating him never to forſake her again, and telling him what riches ſhe had heaped together ſince ſhe had lived with Lord Ernoff.
I examined the features of the pretended officer, and in ſpite of a large black patch which he had over one eye, and his eye-brows and complexion being ſtained, I ſoon diſcovered it to be the villain Cogdie, who had eſcaped from the officers of juſtice as they were conveying him from Gretna Green to London.
I learned from the converſation that paſſed between Cogdie and Miſs L’Eſtrange, that ſhe was in reality his lawful wife; but being of a looſe diſpoſition, had broken the matrimonial bonds ſome years ſince, and viſited moſt of the capitals of Europe with a young nobleman, whoſe fortune ſhe had ruined, and finding him no longer able to ſupport her extravagance, ſhe had left Paris with Lord Ernoff, with whom ſhe had lived for this twelvemonth paſt.
I found, alſo, that chance had thrown Cogdie in her way; and that he, ſeeing her in ſo proſperous a ſituation, and being himſelf at a very low ebb of fortune, had perſuaded her that his paſſion for her was ſtronger than ever, and endeavoured to prevail with her to rob the Earl, and decamp with him.— But L’Eſtrange was a woman whoſe avarice was not ſo eaſily gratified: ſhe, by feigning the moſt paſſionate tenderneſs for the Earl, had worked upon his temper till ſhe perſuaded him to make a will 116 K4v 116 greatly in her favour; and then the inſult, &c. which happened in the Park, was planned and executed by Cogdie. He had marked the piſtols; the one he gave to Lord Ernoff was charged only with powder, but that which he retained himſelf was loaded with ball.
I was greatly at a loſs how to act, as I feared to leave the houſe to procure proper perſons to ſecure Cogdie, leſt in the mean time he ſhould eſcape.
L’Eſtrange told him he ought to prepare for flight; and giving him ſeveral bank notes, ſome jewels, and other valuables, ſtepped into another room and brought out a gown, petticoats, &c. for him to put on.—I was quite undetermined in what manner to prevent his departure, when L’Eſtrange recollected there was ſome more money in a bureau in Lord Ernoff’s apartment, which was in a diſtant part of the houſe; I followed, and ſeeing her ſafe in the cloſet, in which there was no bell, and only a ſmall high window, and that ſecured with bars: I pulled to the door, locked and bolted it; I then returned in haſte to the apartment where Cogdie was, and ſeeing him totally abſorbed in the pleaſure of contemplating his treaſure, faſtened both the doors, without being obſerved.
Having ſucceeded thus far, I left the houſe with precipitation, and procured proper people to apprehend them; I returned within half an hour, and demanded entrance. Though I had been abſent ſo 117 K5r 117 ſhort a time, five minutes longer had been too late; Cogdie and L’Eſtrange had by their cries alarmed the ſervant; for each fearing the other intended information againſt themſelves, were in the utmoſt conſternation; and violent were their cries for liberty—the ſervants had burſt open the doors, and Cogdie was on the ſtairs in order to depart when I entered.
I committed them both to the charge of the conſtable; having firſt eaſed them of the weighty concern of having ſo much money and jewels to take off. I waited on them to the houſe of a neighbouring juſtice, made my accuſation in proper form, and being certain that apartments in a ſtrong, well-built manſion would be prepared for their reception till further enquiry ſhould be made concerning the affair, I left them, and returned to the wounded Nobleman; and, from thence, home.
I thought you were loſt, my love, ſaid Emma, as I entered the parlour about eleven o’clock, and found her ſeated at ſupper with Teachum and his Maria. —In my hurry and confuſion in the morning, though I had ſent my ſervant home, I had not ſent any meſſage by him: I was therefore not ſurpriſed at my Emma’s exclamation. The adventures of the day had ſo entirely taken up my 118 K5v 118 mind, that the Eaſt-Indian had not once intruded; and even when my friend metioned having almoſt completed the tranſlation, I felt no ſort of curioſity to ſee it.—We will take a walk to-morrow, ſaid I to Teachum; I have ſeen Lord Ernoff today, and, if you like, I will take you to viſit him early.
We were at the houſe where he was before ten o’clock.
As we entered the room without noiſe, we ſaw the fair Leonilla in the higheſt act of devotion; his Lordſhip was ſitting in the bed, ſupported by pillows, his eyes fixed with a mixture of love and veneration on her face, we were unwilling to diſturb them, ſo drew back behind the curtains. When ſhe had finiſhed her morning oriſons—Oh my dear Lord, ſaid ſhe, what a relief do you give my almoſt burſting heart, by informing me that your governor is not dead. How ſevere has the reflection always been, that my raſhneſs had ſent a deſerving man out of the world; a man who had honour, courage, affection, ſufficient to make him value his own life as nothing when the life of his lord was in danger. It is that cruel idea, and the remembrance of my dear father and mother, that at times deprives me of my reaſon; but I will be thankful to that good Providence that has taken this mighty load off my heart.
I hope you have provided for Mr. Teachum, ſaid ſhe, after a little pauſe.119 K6r 119
It is a ſhame to own I have not, ſaid my Lord; but I will endeavour to repair all my errors.
Mr. Teachum is come to ſee you, my Lord, ſaid I, ſtepping forward.
Ernoff ſtretched out his hand, and taking hold of Teachum’s, cried, this wound, my good Dr. Teachum, is an excellent thing.
Indeed, my Lord, replied Teachum, I do not believe any body but yourſelf thinks ſo, all your friends regret it.
I rejoice in it, ſaid his Lordſhip, it makes me feelingly remember my own ingratitude.
Teachum walked to the other end of the room— he was too much of a Chriſtian to rejoice in the pain of a fellow mortal, though it might be productive of good to himſelf. After our noble patient’s wound was again dreſſed, he requeſted Leonilla to inform him why ſhe had left her native country.
She ſaid, that when ſhe found by the rumour then prevailing at Madrid that Mr. Teachum was killed in defending his Lordſhip, it lay very heavy at her heart, and ſhe grew melancholy and ſickly —I never went to ſleep, ſaid ſhe, but I fancied the ſhade of the innocent man my raſhneſs had murdered, was reproaching me. I thought my mind would be eaſier after confeſſion, and went to my holy father, confeſſed my firſt deviation from duty, my grief, anger, revenge, and all its fatal conſequences.—The good father rebuked the ſpirit of revenge that ſtill was harboured in my boſom; 120 K6v 120 and taught me that penitence, faſting, and tears, were the only methods to gain the pardon of the Creator for my heinous offences—but, alas! Sir, I could not pray—my mind was in a ſtate of horror, not to be deſcribed—remorſe, love, and rage, by turns tormented my ſoul; but Heaven, offended at my obſtinacy and folly, viſited me with a dreadful judgment.—I had a favourite dog which you had given me; on this poor inoffenſive animal did I vent the various changes of my temper, one moment careſſing it, the next uſing it with the utmoſt barbarity. My dear mother had never ſuspected my diſhonour; ſhe wondered at the alteration ſo viſible in my health and diſpoſition; and frequently chid me for my unkindneſs to this poor little animal. I fear I uſed it very ill; but, indeed I hardly know what I did, my mind was ſo disordered.
My dog ran mad, and bit my dear mother; all medical aſſiſtance was tried without effect—ſhe expired in the greateſt agony. My father who was on a campaign againſt the Turks at the time this happened, unfortunately returned the day before my mother was buried—he was unprepared for the ſtroke he ſaw my mother’s corpſe—he ſaw me deprived of my ſenſes.
In my delirium I told him how I had diſhonored his houſe—It was too much; he was not equal to the mighty load of ſorrow, but ſunk under it.
Since that, I have wandered about, over barren hills and deſert plains, ſeeking content, but ſhe 121 L1r 121 fled from me as I purſued her. I thought ſhe might dwell with charity; ſo I divided my portion with the fatherleſs and the widow; but alas! I could never find her—ſhe is buried in the grave with my dear parents!
I ſaw that the recital of her miſfortunes had occaſioned a return of her unhappy malady; ſo taking her by her hand, I led her into another apartment, and perſuaded her to take ſome repoſe.
About ſix weeks after, I had the pleaſure of beſtowing her in marriage on the repentant Lord Erno lff. Teachum performed the ceremony; and his Lord gave him as a marriage portion, the promiſed living of Wiltham.
Leonilla never after relapſed into her former diſordered ſtate of mind. ſhe entreated that Cogdie and his companions might be forgiven. Her Lord complied with her requeſt; and ſhe gave them a ſum of money, to prevent poverty being an incentive to future vice. But they were too far immerged in all manner of deceit to think of amendment, and ſoon returned to their old practices.
I cannot help here relating a circumſtance that happened many years after.—The ſon which Olivia brought into the world, the fruit of her unfortunate attachment to Cogdie, as he advanced in years, ſhewed no ſigns of any of his father’s vices in his diſpoſition, except a propenſity to gaming.—This propenſity he once indulged at a public gaming L 122 L1v 122 houſe, where an old man having won from him a conſiderable ſum of money, which the young ſpark imagining was not won by fair play; high words aroſe, and a challenge was given.
They met, fired, and the old man was wounded. —The ſon of Olivia, though haſty in his temper, was generous, humane, and forgiving; he wiſhed not to take the life even of the man who had wronged him.
He had him carried to his lodgings; and finding him in a poor ſituation, he ſent for a ſurgeon, and ſupplied him with all the neceſſaries and comforts of life at his own expence.
A ſervant in the family who obſerved the frequent viſits of Olivia’s ſon to this mean, obſcure lodging, told it as a ſecret to Olivia’s maid, who directly told it to her miſtreſs.
Olivia was then at my houſe; ſhe had often wiſhed an union might take place between her ſon and Lucy Heartfree, my fair petitioner. The idea of a ſecret miſtreſs immediately alarmed her.—She deſired me to go with her to the place the ſervant had mentioned.
When we entered the room, the firſt object that ſtruck our ſight was her ſon helping a woman to lift an infirm, ſickly old man from a chair to the bed; he was, to all appearance, near his end.
The old man no ſooner ſaw us than he breathed a dreadful groan, and fell back in his chair. Olivia was greatly agitated—ſhe applied her ſalts to 123 L2r 123 his nose.—He recovered—he gazed feebly on her. It is Olivia, ſaid he.—She ſtarted.—Do you not know me, Olivia? have you forgot the wretched Cogdie?
Gracious Heaven! cried Olivia, catching hold of her ſon’s hand, it is your father.
My father! ſaid the youth; then I am a parricide.
Not ſo, my ſon, anſwered Cogdie; you have only revenged your mother’s injuries.—But, will you forgive me.
May heaven forgive you as freely, ſaid Olivia.
Her ſon knelt, and craved forgiveneſs of his dying father.
It is enough ſaid Cogdie. I forgive, and I hope to be forgiven.— His head ſunk on Olivia’s ſhoulder —he groaned and expired.
I think you have never read Mr. Teachum’s tranſlation, ſaid Emma, one evening, as I was ſitting by her, liſtening to the innocent prattle of Harriet and her little companion—I had ſome months before committed them to the care of Mrs. —, of Hammerſmith.
Though I had always heard the higheſt character of this lady and her ſchool, yet my dear Harriet, who at this time was at home for the holidays, 124 L2v 124 raiſed it in my opinion—Lucy, ſaid ſhe, let us play at ſchool—you ſhall be Mrs. —, and I will be a ſcholar.
You may always judge by the play of children what company, regulations, and converſation, they are uſed to.
Come here, Miſs Harriet, ſaid Lucy; I hope you are very well this morning, and quite prepared to ſay your task; you know I ſhall take no excuse.
Come, Ladies, it is eight o’clock, and not all dreſſed yet!—Oh fye! Miſs, your face and hands are not waſhed!— how indelicate that is!—well, now we are all ready—ſo you muſt kneel down and ſay your prayers.
Do you always ſay your prayers at ſchool, Harriet? ſaid I.
Oh, yes, Papa; Mrs. — not only makes us ſay our prayers, but ſhe ſays her own prayers with us.
Do you love Mrs. —, my dear?
Yes, indeed, Papa—I don’t know any body but what does love her, ſhe is ſo good to us all.
I was ſo pleaſed with the account the children gave of this amiable woman, that by means of my ring I frequently viſited her unſeen—there was always the ſame decent regularity obſerved through the whole houſe.
She had a relation lived with her—I would mention ſome acts of humanity which I have ſeen this relation perform, but I fear to hurt her delicacy—125 L3r 125
Yet there is one which will never be eraſed from my mind. It was the kindneſs ſhe ſhewed to a poor young woman who was distreſſed, calumniated, and beſet with dangers—Yet ſhe knew not the full force of her benevolence; but I, who viſited, unſeen, the object of her humanity, know, that ſhe drew her from an horrid precipice, from whence ſhe muſt have ſoon plunged into the gulf of infamy.
Oh! thou gentle pattern of benevolence and piety, judge not the poor young woman from appearances—could’ſt thou but ſee her heart, thou would’ſt there read gratitude to thee, written in indelible characters—and when ſhe prays for thee whoſe bounty ſhe has received, ſhe humbly aſks of Heaven the power to return it.— But I am always running from the ſubject I begin with.
My Emma had requeſted me to read Teachum’s tranſlation of the Eaſtern tale; ſo diſmiſſing the children to the nurſery, and ſtirring up the fire, for it was a cold evening in December, I ſtepped into my ſtudy and brought out the manuſcript.
Sadi, the ſon of Mahadan, the rich poſſeſſor of a fertile valley, watered by a beautiful river—who had ſlaves at his command, and was called by the L2 126 L3v 126 ſons of the Eaſt; Sadi the Happy.—Ah! what avails poſſeſſions and treaſure?—and what is the terreſtial happineſs to man?—It vaniſheth like a dream—it departeth like the miſt of the morning before the beams of the ſun.
Sadi, the once rich and happy, is a ſlave, and wretched.—Go tell this to the daughters of joy— ſound it in the ears of the ſons of pleaſure; for proſperity has hardened their hearts, and made them callous to the feelings of humanity.
Zelia was the faireſt among the daughters of Arabia; ſhe was tall, and ſtraight as the pine tree; ſtately as the young cedar; her ſkin was like the ripe olive; her eyes, bright ſtars; her locks were like the poliſhed ebony; and her teeth, fair rows of pearl; her lips were the colour of the ruby; and her breath like the breezes blowing from the ſpicy iſlands.
I built a bower for my Zelia; I adorned it with beautiful flowers, and planted ſweet ſmelling ſhrubs around it.
With lofty trees, I fenced out the ſun beams; and the birds dwelt in their branches.—In the receſs was a ſilver ſtream; the oſiers and wild flowers hung upon its banks, and the ſwans ſported on its boſom.
I ſought my love among the daughters of the plain —I wooed her in the ſhady places—I brought her to the bower I had planted—I culled for her the choiceſt fruits—I brought her ſilks from the looms of Perſia—I platted her hair with freſh flowers—I 127 L4r 127 put coſtly jewels in her ears—and with pearls made bracelets for her arms.
We were the happieſt among the happy; in the morning we aroſe together, and worſhipped the bright lumiary of day.—We ſtrayed over the fertile valleys—we ſported with the young fawns; or retired from the heat, and repoſed in the thick ſhade.
If I was in pain, ſhe would ſooth me.—I liſtened to her angel voice all day; and at night I repoſed on her boſom.
The curtain of night had fallen over us—the ſtars ſhot their beams through the Heavens—the voice of diſtreſs met our ears—the plaints of ſorrow invaded our dwelling—we went forth from the bower —we ſaw a Chriſtian overpowered by his adverſary. The blood iſſued from his bosom—his face was the picture of terror.
We bore him to our peaceful bower—we poured oil upon his wounds, and Zelia bound them up with her hands.—She watched him with the care of a ſiſter—ſhe gave him a part of our fruits, and brought him milk from the young camels.—He was grateful for the kindneſs we ſhewed—he ſwore by his God it ſhould not be forgotten.—But, the word of a man is like unto the wind; it maketh a ſound, paſſeth, and is no more remembered.
He left our bower once at early dawn—he tarried till the cloſe of evening.128 L4v 128
Zelia had retired to reſt—the moon beams played upon her face—I contemplated her ſleeping beauties.
The Chriſtian I had ſaved, entered the bower— he brought with him a band of ruthleſs ruffians.— He ſeized upon my lovely Zelia—he liſtened not unto her cries—he put a chain upon her feet, and bound the hands which had healed his wounds.
They took our coſtly ornaments and pearls —they bound me with an heavy iron chain, and led us like two ſlaves towards the ſea.—They put us on board a ſhip he had prepared—they ſpread the ſails—the wind blew from the ſhore, and in the morn we ſaw the main before us.
They took the chains from off my hands and feet—they gave me food, but parted me from Zelia.
I heard her lift up a voice of terror—I heard her call on Sadi for aſſistance—I ruſhed into the room where they confined her—I ſaw her in the embraces of a villain—I ſnatched a poniard from his ſide—I bade him inſtantly forego his prey.
Zelia like lightning darted from his arms—ſhe cried, Now, Sadi!—Sadi, follow me!—then, from the window ſprang into the ocean.
I ſent the poniard to the traitor’s heart.—I felt its warm blood guſh upon my hand; then haſtily obeyed my charming Zelia.—I called her as I plunged into the ſea—I ſought my Zelia in the world of waters; but the ſpirits of bleſſed ſaints had ſeen her virtue—they caught the lovely victim129 L5r 129 tim as ſhe fell, and bore her on their wings to paradiſe.—I called for death to take a wretched life—I ſought the friend of miſery, but he fled from me.
Some other Chriſtians ſaved me from the ſea; they gave me food, and treated me with kindneſs —but the kindneſs of a Chriſtian is like the ſong of the syren, it ſoothes the ſenses, gains upon the heart; then, unſuſpected leads to deſtruction.— They took me with them to the Weſtern world— they ſold the wretched Sadi for a ſlave.
My haughty ſpirit was not uſed to bondage.— I heard that England was the land of freedom—I hid myſelf on board an Engliſh ſhip, and ſailed unſeen into the boundleſs main.—I left my hiding place, and ſought the captain, and bowed my face toward the deck, before him.
He told me, I no more ſhould be a ſlave—he brought me with him to this land of freedom.
But, here I found I alſo was deceived; for, here mankind are ſlaves to vice, to avarice, to luxury, and to folly.—The man who brought me from the Weſtern world, demanded payment for my paſſage over. Alas! I had been rifled by the Chriſtians.—I had nought to give but grateful thanks and prayers.—He who had ſaid I ſhould not be a ſlave, confined me in a loathſome priſon houſe —this was my welcome to the land of freedom.
For ſeven long years I never felt the air, nor even ſaw the cheerful face of Heaven—but the angel of death that viſits all the earth, then ſtopped the breath of my hard perſecutor. I then was freed 130 L5v 130 from out the loathſome priſon, and for a moment I rejoiced in liberty; but ſoon I felt the gnawing pangs of hungaer. I had no friend whoſe pity might relieve me—the ſpacious city was to me a deſert, and I was ſtarving in the land of plenty.—But, who can bear the griping hand of famine; who can ſink under it and not complain? I laid me down upon the damp, cold ground—I groaned aloud, and tore my hair through anguiſh; but many paſſed by, nor once regarded me; and others ſcoffed and called me an impoſter. I thought the end of all my woes was come—I ceaſed to groan, and waited death’s approach; but pity had not wholly fled the world; ſhe dwells within the hearts of Chriſtian women— one brought me ſomething to allay my hunger; another put ſome money in my hand—One ſeeming almoſt as wretched as myſelf, looked at me, ſhook her head, and dropt ſome tears. I felt her kindneſs more than thoſe before—the tear of pity healed my bleeding heart.
But, the woes of Sadi ſoon will have an end; ſoon ſhall I ſleep, and be at reſt for ever, for the ſorrows of my heart overpower me, and pain and ſickneſs bow me to the earth.—The lamp of life is very near exhauſted; and when each night I lay me down to reſt, I think not to behold another morning.
And what, alas! has wretched Sadi done, and who reduced him to this ſtate of miſery? Go tell the tale to all the Eaſtern world—Go warn them to beware of truſting Chriſtians; for Sadi ſaved one 131 L6r 131 from the jaws of death, and thus was his humanity rewarded.
This is a ſtrange world, ſaid I, laying down the manuſcript, and addreſſing my dear Emma—
The world, my love, ſhe replied, laying one hand on my ſhoulder, and with the other wiping away a drop which poor Sadi’s ſtory had excited—The world, my love, in itſelf, is a charming place—it is the people in it that makes it uncomfortable. Let us view it at firſt coming from the hands of the Creator; what beauty, what regularity and order! but no ſooner was man created, than pride— avarice—envy—revenge—and a long train of evils—
Not forgetting female vanity and curioſity, ſaid I, looking archly at her.—
Nay, my dear, ſaid ſhe, don’t attribute all your evils to our ſex; for I am certain, that had not Adam had a little curioſity in his own compoſition, he never could have been prevailed on to ſtray from his duty—but we are running from the ſubject, continued ſhe.
My remark was, that it is the vile diſpoſition of many people in the world, not the world itſelf, that is ſo diſagreeable to thoſe who are poſſeſſed of humanity and feeling. What a delightful place it would be, ſaid I, if harmony, peace, and love, univerſally reigned around us; if there was no ingratitude,132 L6v 132 gratitude, no revenge, no rapine, murder, theft, or perjury.
It would, ſaid ſhe; but it is not for us to ſay why are things thus? let us, my love, endeavour to perform our duty, and, as far as example will go, lead others to do the ſame; and let us be thankful that the world is not ſo full of allurements, as to prevent our preparing and hoping for a better: For my own part, continuted ſhe, paſſing her arm round my neck, while her lovely countenance beamed with gratitude and love, my cup overflows with bleſſings; I feel no ſorrows, except it is when I reflect on the vices or ſorrow of my fellow creatures; yet, I muſt not expect to paſs this life exempt from woe.—Poor Sadi has had a life of miſery, it is true, but ſhall we arraign the Power Omnipotent, and ſay, why was it ſo?
My dear Emma, ſaid I, I did not mean to complain of the diſpenſations of Providence, when I ſaid it is a ſtrange world; but does it not ſeem wonderful, that a man can ſo far forget a benefit, as to treat his benefactor with cruelty?
It is unaccountable, ſaid ſhe; and yet we hear of it in more inſtances than one—what a ſtriking proof of ingratitude is related in Addiſon’s pathetic ſtory of Inkle and Yarico—
Oh, a propos, ſaid I, you never gave me your opinion of the opera taken from that ſtory—
I was greatly pleaſed with it, ſhe replied; I think the author ſhews great judgment in the management of his plot; for after having excited in our 133 M1r 133 imagination a proper horror for the avarice and ingratitude of Incle, by contraſting it with the blunt honeſty of Trudge, he makes his hero repent, and, by unexpectedly bringing him to act with honour and humanity towards his kind preſerver, leaves no impreſſion on the mind of the audience, but an entire love and admiration of virtue.
I think the remark extremely juſt, ſaid I, which Incle makes in the concluſion of the piece—that, his contracting ideas, and graſping diſpoſition, was chiefly owing to his education.—
There is nothing, replied my Emma, which, in my opinion, ſhould be ſo carefully inculcated in the mind of a child as humanity—there are many parents who, out of a miſtaken fondneſs for their children, will ſuffer them, by way of amuſement, to rob birds neſts, catch butterflies,&c. and tranſfix them with pins, and a thouſand other whims and fancies which are the height of cruelty; theſe things by degrees harden their hearts, and they can afterwards practiſe cruelty on their fellow creatures without repugnance.—I would always teach my children to be tender even to the ſmalleſt inſect that has life; if, indeed, they are obnoxious or poiſonous, and ſelf-preſervation leads us to deſtroy them, let them be diſpatched quick and with as little pain as poſſible. —Then opening a volume of our inimitable Shakeſpeare, ſhe read the following paſſage in Meaſure for Meaſure:M 134 M1v 134
The poor blind beetle which we tread upon,
In corporeal ſuff’rance feels as much
As when a giant falls.
Hail, humanity! fair daughter of Heaven, it is thou, bright angel, that can ſmooth the bed of pain, and blunt the ſharpeſt arrow of diſtreſs: come, thou celeſtial gueſt! and dwell with me, and with thee bring the ſweet companion gratitude.
Almighty Power! creator of the univerſe, ſaid I, teach me to ſhew my gratitude to thee by practiſing humanity towards my fellow creatures.
The Register Office.
I hope you will not diſappoint me Madam, ſaid a young woman to an old fat dame, who kept a Regiſter Office for hiring of ſervants—I had entered the houſe by means of my ring.
The young woman was ſomething below the middle ſize, her countenance was dejected, and ſhe appeared not to be uſed to ſervitude.
You had better ſit down and reſt yourſelf, my dear, ſaid the old woman.
I will, if you pleaſe, replied the other; for it is a long walk from Lambeth.
She entered a little parlour, and ſat down; when I learnt from their converſation that the young woman, whom I ſhall henceforth call Mariana, was applying for a place as governeſs to one or two young ladies, and was promiſed by the woman 135 M2r 135 who kept the office, that ſhe ſhould be recommended to Lady Allworth, who wanted a governeſs for her two daughters.
It is now ſix weeks, ſaid Mariana, ſince I was firſt propoſed to Lady Allworth, and I ſhould be glad to know whether ſhe will have me or no, for my circumſtances are ſuch as render it abſolutely neceſſary that I ſhould have ſome place in a ſhort time—To—morrow, Mrs. L—y, I hope you will go with me.
The old woman promiſed faithfully to attend her, and at ten o’clock the next morning was appointed for her to call.
Then to—morrow I will ſee thee again, poor, gentle Mariana, ſaid I.
I was by no means pleaſed with the woman who ſtept the office; for while Mariana was reſting herſelf, two young men of faſhion came into the room.
I bluſh to think, that their being young men of faſhion, rendered me uneaſy on the poor girl’s account.
There were ſome very intelligent looks paſſed between them and the old woman; and immediately on their leaving the room, Mariana was invited to dine the enſuing day.
At ten the next day, Mariana again repaired to the office, and was again diſappointed of waiting on Lady Allworth.
I know not what to do, ſaid ſhe, as ſhe left the houſe; and a tear ſtole down her cheek—She had refuſed the invitation to dinner, and was proceeding 136 M2v 136 with melancholy ſteps towards her home—I followed her.
When ſhe entered the house, ſhe was wet, cold, and hungry; but there was neither fire nor refreſhment.
She ſat down at the end of a long table, and leaned her head upon her hands, the tears flowed plenteouſly down her pale face—ſhe looked the picture of dumb deſpair.
I was thinking of ſome method to relieve her, when a ſhort, fat old gentleman entered the room.
I read in your face, Mariana, ſaid he, that you have had no ſucceſs to—day.
She ſhook her head, and aſked his advice how to proceed.
I would adviſe you to go to Lady Allworth yourſelf—write a letter, ſend it up, and wait for an anſwer from her Ladyſhip.
Mariana wiped her eyes, wrote a letter, and then proceeded to meaſure back the weary ſteps ſhe had trod before.
Poor girl! ſaid I, as I followed her, I ſhould like to know how you were reduced to this ſituation; but I will not leave you, till I ſee you are likely to get ſome ſettlement—Youth and innocence without friends or money, in ſuch a place as London, muſt have a hard ſtruggle to keep free from vice; and will find it impoſſible to keep free from cenſure.
I wiſh Lady Allworth may be as much prepoſſesſed in your favour as I am —but perhaps ſhe will not ſee you; and ſhould ſhe not, you ſhall not be loſt for want of a friend.137 M3r 137
I do verily believe, that during our walk from Lambeth to St. James’s ſtreet, I was almoſt as much agitated as Mariana herſelf.
She tapped modeſtly at the door; but I could ſee it was humiliating to her.
A ſervant appeared, and ſhe was inſtantly admitted—
Will you deliver this to Lady Allworth? ſaid ſhe, preſenting the letter.
The ſervant looked at her with compaſſion—I thus tranſlated his looks: this poor girl is come to entreat a favour of my Lady; I will not be the means of her not obtaining it; I wiſh ſhe may meet with ſucceſs.
Sir James Allworth, ſaid I, is a benevolent man; he never ſuffers a petitioner to be treated with rudeneſs or diſreſpect: I can read his humanity in the countenance of his domeſtic.
I had hardly time for the reflection before Mariana was deſired to walk up ſtairs—I perceived that ſhe trembled as ſhe aſcended; but had her fears been ever ſo great, they muſt all have vaniſhed at the ſight of Lady Allworth.
The Dressing Room.
She was an elegant woman, though, arrived to an age when the bloom and ſprightlineſs of youth is paſt; yet her face had a benignity about it that diffuſed itſelf over all her features, and ſeemedM2 138 M3v 138 ed enlivened by a ray of celeſtial light; her fine black eyes were of that ſort that would pierce the inmoſt receſſes of a guilty ſoul, but withal, tempered with ſo much benevolence, that to the innocent they ſeemed to beam only with humanity and compaſſion.—Her form was majeſtic, and in her manner was a mixture of dignity, eaſe, and ſweetneſs.
Mariana’s countenance brightened up when ſhe ſaw this lovely woman—ſhe curtſied, and a faint bluſh tinged her cheeks—
You are the perſon who wrote this letter? aſked her Ladyſhip.
Pray, who was it that pretended to recommend you to me?
Mariana informed her.
Good God! cried Lady Allworth; I know nothing of the woman; I never applied to her for a ſervant in my life; and ſhould never have thought of applying to an office for a governeſs.
Mariana turned pale, and with difficulty reſtrained her tears.
But pray, continued her Ladyſhip, pray, Ma’am, inform me how you came to apply to an office:— have you no friends?
But one, Madam, and ſhe is not in a line to recommend me.
Poor girl! ſaid Lady Allworth, ſoftly—ſhe thought the exclamation of pity too humiliating to be addreſſed to Mariana herſelf: it was an involuntary139 M4r 139 luntary motion of the lips dictated by a feeling heart.
Pray, ſit down, Madam continued her Ladyſhip, and, if it is not diſagreeable, inform me how you came into ſuch a place as London without friends: I feel myſelf intereſted in your behalf, and if it is in my power I will ſerve you.
Mariana ſat down, and with a voice of timidity, accompanied with a look of gratitude, in a few words, acquainted Lady Allworth with her ſtory.
My father, Madam, is an officer in the army; my mother dying while I was yet an infant, my father married a lady in America, who brought him an ample fortune—he took me over to America when only eight years old, and we remained there in the utmoſt harmony till the unhappy breach between Great Britain and her Colonies. My father refuſing to join the Americans, his property was confiſcated, and he returned with his family to England in a diſtreſſed ſituation.—We have been in England ſeven years; the family has been ſickly and expenſive—my poor father was involved in debt—I could not bear the idea of adding to his expences I left my home, which is in the country, and came to town to a diſtant relation, in hopes, by induſtry, to obtain a living; this relation I have undeſignedly offended, as also ſome who were nearer allied—my efforts to live by induſtry have failed, and I find myſelf under the neceſſity of ſeeking a ſervice—I had flattered myſelf with the hopes of being engaged in your Ladyſhip’s 140 M4v 140 family; but alas! I am diſappointed in all my undertakings.
Has the woman who pretended to recommend, got any money from you? ſaid her Ladyſhip.
Indeed, Madam, ſhe has got all I had.
Lady Allworth drew forth her purſe—Mariana aroſe to take her leave.
Stop a moment, ſaid Lady Allworth—ſit down again—you muſt want ſome refreſhment.
A glaſs of wine and a biſcuit was ordered.
Call on me again in a day or two, ſaid her Ladyſhip; I will try to do ſomething for you; in the mean time accept of this trifle.
I could not ſee what ſhe put into her hand; but I am ſure it was the manner of the giver, not the gift itſelf, that ſunk ſo deep into Mariana’s heart: it was that which made her exclaim as ſhe left the houſe—Dear Lady, when I forget my obligations to thee, may I ceaſe to live.
Lady Allworth kept her word, and recommended Mariana to a Lady in whoſe family ſhe remained till ill health obliged her to quit it.
Ye fair daughters of Britain, whoſe charms are the theme of every tongue, the admiration of every eye, and whoſe praiſe is ſounded to the moſt diſtant kingdoms, learn from the amiable behaviour of a Lady Allworth, how to attain thoſe charms which neither time nor accident can diminiſh—the beauties of that Lady’s perſon might have rendered her univerſally admired; but it is the goodneſs of her 141 M5r 141 heart alone that could create univerſal love and veneration.
The Fashionable Friend.
As I paſſed a houſe in the cloſe of the evening, the window ſhutters being open, I ſaw a woman ſitting by a table, her cheek reſting upon her left hand, and a pen in her right—ſhe wrote—then pauſed—then wrote: it ſeemed to be a ſubject that required reflection. A genteel young woman knocked at the door—I had time on my hands, ſo being rather curious to be preſent at a female tete-a-tete, I put on my ring, and when the door was opened I entered with the viſitor.
She was hardly ſeated, before, obſerving the writing apparatus, ſhe ſays, So my dear Ellen, you are exerciſing your fertile genius—you are certainly a charming girl!—what would I not give to poſſeſs ſuch a talent—pray, may I ſee your performance, or will you be ſo obliging as to read it to me?
Ellen took up the paper, threw it on the window, and ſaid, it was only a ſonnet not worth looking at—
Oh, you ſad girl? how can you mortify me ſo? I am ſure if the ſonnet is the production of your own genius it muſt be delightful—pray do let me ſee it.
If it will give you any pleaſure, ſaid Ellen, I will read it to you; —but, I aſſure you, it is but a trifle—ſhe took it up and read—142 M5v 142
From the day of my birth until now,
I’ve ſtill been accuſtom’d to grief;
My mother ſhe nurs’d me in woe,
Her ſorrows admit no relief;
She lull’d me to ſleep with her ſighs,
Tears mix’d with the milk of her breaſt;
For oft would they ſtart in her eyes,
At the ſight of an object diſtreſs’d
To feel for another man’s woes,
Is a bleſſing to Britiſh hearts giv’n;
A bleſſing which pity beſtows;
And pity’s the daughter of heaven.
All nature rejoic’d at her birth;
Humanity foſter’d the child;
And when ſhe appear’d upon earth,
Each virtue approvingly ſmil’d.
Oh, ’tis divine! exclaimed the viſitor, whoſe name I found was Greenham;— pray, my dear Ellen, favour me with a copy of it.
Ellen promiſed to comply with her requeſt.
I wonder, ſaid Mrs. Greenham, why you don’t publiſh your works; it is a thouſand pities ſuch charming poems as you in general write, ſhould be buried in oblivion.
I ſometimes, ſaid Ellen, think I will lay ſome of my little productions before the impartial public; but I am quite terrified at the idea of expoſing myſelf to the ridicule of my own ſex, or the ſatire of the other.—143 M6r 143
You are too humble, my ſweet friend, cries Mrs. Greenham, there is not the leaſt occaſion for your fears—I am certain your works would be univerſally read and admired; and it will be injuſtice both to yourſelf and the world, to deprive them of the gratification of peruſing them, and yourſelf of the fame you would certainly acquire, and undoubtedly deſerve.
It is rather ſurpriſing, thought I, that one woman ſhould be ſo liberal in the praiſes of another. —I looked intently at Mrs. Greenham’s face; and methought I read diſſimulation in every feature —I took an attentive view of Ellen, and plainly diſcovered that ſhe ſaw through the thin veil of her viſitor’s flattery; and though ſhe could not but liſten to her with ſilent civility, ſhe, in her heart, deſpiſed her envy and ill-nature much leſs than the ſpecious arts with which ſhe endeavoured to cover them.
When Mrs. Greenham took her leave, I followed her, determined to hear in what manner ſhe ſpoke of Ellen when abſent from her. ſhe went immediately home, and entertained her huſband and ſeveral viſitors at the expence of the inoffenſive Ellen.
I found her, ſaid ſhe, ſcribbling as uſual; I praiſed her extravagantly, and adviſed her to publiſh her works—ſhe ſaid ſhe had ſome thoughts of it. I wish ſhe would to my heart, for I ſhould like to ſee her heartily laughed at—I am ſure women have no buſineſs with pens in their hands, they 144 M6v 144 had better mend their cloaths, and look after their family.
And pray; why not, Madam, ſaid an old gentleman, who had liſtened attentively to this loquacious harangue, why may not a woman, if ſhe has leiſure and genius, take up her pen to gratify both herſelf and friends. I am not aſhamed to acknowledge that I have peruſed the productions of ſome of our female pens, with the highest ſatiſfaction; and am happy when I find any woman has ſo large a fund of amuſement in her own mind. I never heard a woman, who was fond of her pen, complain of the tediouſneſs of time; nor, did I never know ſuch a woman extravagantly fond of dreſs, public amuſements, or expenſive gaiety; yet, I have ſeen many women of genius prove themſelves excellent mothers, wives, and daughters.
But, Sir, replied Mrs. Greenham, the Lady in queſtion only fancies herſelf poſſeſſed of genius; her writings are the moſt inſipid things in nature.
If I could ſee ſome of them, ſaid the old gentleman, I ſhould be a better judge.
Then you ſhall preſently, for I expect ſhe will come and ſpend an hour or two with me this evening, when I can eaſily prevail with her to ſhew you ſome of her pretty ſcrawls.
Ellen ſoon after made her appearance.—Mrs. Greenham received her with a vaſt ſhew of affection, and ſoon began a converſation which led to literary productions.145 N1r 145
I know of nobody ſo clever in this way, ſaid ſhe, as my little friend Ellen here—do, my dear, oblige the company by reciting ſome of your poems; or, perhaps, you may have ſome in your pocket—I know you always have a treaſure there.
Indeed Madam, ſaid Ellen, I only write for amuſement; nor can it be ſuppoſed my performances have any merit worthy the attention of this company.
Oh, you are always ſo diffident— It is a ſure ſign of merit, ſaid the old gentleman, But, pray Madam, addreſſing himſelf to Ellen, do you devote much of your time to your pen?
I am ſo ſituated, Sir, ſhe replied, that I am unavoidably obliged to paſs many hours entirely by myſelf—In the former part of my life I have been engaged in many ſcenes, the remembrance of which, in theſe ſolitary hours, would be extremely painful, were it not for the relaxation and amuſement I find in the exerciſe of my pen—I have but few acquaintance, ſhe continued, and even thoſe few might, by too frequent viſits, grow tired of my company. I ſeldom go out but I meet with ſome object to engage my attention; and often when reflecting on the various ſcenes around me, I fall into a train of ideas which I feel a ſort of pleaſure in committing to paper; and in general they ſerve to occupy the next leiſure or ſolitary hour.N 146 N1v 146
And an excellent way of ſpending time too, replied the old gentleman.—I am certain, Madam, you are never leſs alone than when by yourſelf.
It is true, Sir, ſaid ſhe, I do find a great deal of entertainment from this method of employing myſelf; but it is no reaſon for me to ſuppoſe, becauſe I am amuſed in writing, another perſon ſhould be amuſed in reading what I have written.
But, I do aſſure you, ſaid Mrs. Greenham, it will give us all a great deal of ſatiſfaction to hear a little of your performance.—Now do, Ellen, oblige us.
Ellen was of a temper that could not bear entreaties—ſhe had not power to refuſe a requeſt made with any tolerable degree of ſincerity and earneſtneſs. I am always in pain for people of this diſpoſition; they often do things absolutely diſagreeable to themſelves, because they have not ſtrength of mind to refuſe peremptorily, but do it ſo faintly, and with ſuch evident marks of pain, that a ſecond or third requeſt always conquers.
I know a young man of this diſpoſition who is intoxicated two or three times a week, though he is not naturally addicted to inebriety, and in general ſuffers exceedingly after it, merely becauſe he cannot reſiſt the earneſt importunities of his friends.
I know a woman too, who, whenever ſhe goes into a ſhop, lays out twice as much money as ſhe 147 N2r 147 intended, becauſe the ſhop-keeper intreats her to have this, and that is ſo vaſtly pretty, or amazingly cheap—and ſhe imperceptibly launches into extravagancies which ſhe afterwards heartily repents.—Now, though ſuch a pliability of temper may be extremely pleaſing and agreeable in domeſtic life, it expoſes a perſon to a thouſand inconveniences, improprietites, and irregularities. I would have a man or woman maintain an opinion of their own; and when reſolved to refuſe a requeſt which they may judge imprudent or improper to grant, refuſe it with ſuch ſteadineſs and dignity as may at once prevent their being teazed into an action which their reaſon revolts againſt.
But, this is by way of digreſſion, ſo I beg pardon, and return.
Ellen, urged by the united requeſts of the company, and a little female vanity which dwelt in her own boſom, at length complied, and recited in a graceful manner, a ſhort, pathetic tale, written in the elegiac ſtyle, and greatly in the manner of Shenstone.
The old gentleman beſtowed no praiſes on it, but he honored the recital with a tear, and ſoon after left the company—when the inoffenſive Ellen became a butt for the ſatire, ridicule, envy, and ill-nature of thoſe that remained, and whoſe tongues had only been reſtrained by his preſence. Yet Mrs. Greenham profeſſed an unbounded friendſhip for her, and declared there was nothing but what ſhe 148 N2v 148 would freely do to ſerve her—but ſhe was a faſhionable friend.
Friendſhip is a word univerſally uſed, but little underſtood; there are a number of people who ſtile themſelves friends, who never knew what it was to have an anxious thought for the perſon for whom they pretend this violent friendſhip, in the female world in particular. I make no doubt but there are numbers of women who, ſhould they be informed whilſt at cards, of the greateſt miſfortune having befallen one of their moſt intimate friends, would cry, Poor thing, I am vaſtly ſorry —I had a great regard for her— and then inquire what is trumps? or how gows the game? I can divide the world into five diſtinct claſſes of friends, for there is hardly any one perſon breathing but boaſts of feeling that exalted attachment for ſome one or other of their fellow mortals.—Among the men, is the profeſſing friend and inſidious friend; among the women, the oſtentatious, and the envious friend; and a ſmall parcel may be culled of both ſexes and ſet under the denomination of real friends.
The Professing Friend.
I will try him, however, ſaid Lavinia, wiping her eyes, for I have often heard him ſay he valued my dear Ferdinand above all other men—and ſure he will not let him languiſh in a priſon for the want 149 N3r 149 of ſuch a trifle, and which we can ſo ſoon repay.
It was a day or two after I was in poſſeſſion of my ring.—I had ſtepped into a ſhop to buy a pair of gloves, when a young woman behind the counter addreſſed theſe words to her companion.
You may try him, Lavinia, ſaid her companion, but I do not think you will ſucceed; beſide, my dear, your circumstances are not ſo bad as to lead you to fear your husband’s confinement.
They are worſe than you imagine, Eliza, ſaid ſhe; we have, beſides this bill, ſeveral more to pay, which we are equally unable to provide for.—Mr. Woudbe has profeſſed the warmeſt friendſhip for my huſband, I think he will be glad of the opportunity to convince him it was not merely profeſſional.
I had by this time purchaſed my gloves; and being anxious to know how Lavinia would ſucceed in her undertaking, I juſt left the ſhop, put on my ring, and returned.
Lavinia had left the ſhop, and was in the parlour. A perſon came in, who, from his appearance, I ſhould have ſuppoſed a man of faſhion; yet, I knew him to be a mechanic—his affected air and gait ſpoke him a finiſhed coxcomb—it was the identical Mr. Woudbe; he aſked for her huſband; he was not at home—he ſat down, fell into converſation, frequently intimated his ferventN2 150 N3v 150 vent wiſhes for their proſperity, and declared he deſired nothing more than an opportunity to convince his worthy friend Ferdinand how much he had his intereſt and happineſs at heart.
Lavinia’s eyes beamed pleaſure and gratitude; ſhe thought it a favourable, golden opportunity— ſhe told him her huſband’s circumſtances were embarraſſed, but the loan of eighty or an hundred pounds would ſet them quite at eaſe; and they ſhould by induſtry and œconomy ſoon be enabled to repay it.
She pleaded with the moſt perſuaſive eloquence; love animated her countenance; an anxious tear glittered in her eye—but the profeſſing Mr. Woudbe had none of the finer feelings which dignify the man; he loved oſtentation, ſhow and grandeur; but had no idea of any pleaſure in life ſuperior to that he felt when dreſſed in a finer coat than his neighbour.—Two guineas was not too much for a ticket for a ball, but a ſhilling was extravagantly thrown away in relieving the wants of a diſtreſſed fellow creature.
To ſuch a man, the tearful eye, the anxious countenance, alternately red and pale, the trembling frame, and ſtruggling ſigh of Lavinia, pleaded in vain; he heard her with indifference; he conſoled her in language in which was an equal mixture of pity and contempt; and I was informed, by a perſon who knew him, that it was the laſt viſit he ever paid his friend Ferdinand.151 N4r 151
This is a ſort of friend which the world ſwarms with —profeſſions coſt nothing—give me the man, whoſe heart, alive to every dictate of humanity, ſtays not till he is aſked to do a favour, but eagerly ſeeks out opporunities to render ſervice to mankind.
Anxious for the fate of Lavinia, a ſhort time after, I made another inviſible viſit—when I entered the houſe, every thing was in confuſion; and Lavinia herſelf looked like Melancholy muſing on a ſcene of woe. I was caſting in my own mind, fifty different plans to find out the real cauſe of her diſtreſs, and, if poſſible, relieve it, without hurting her feelings, by letting her know that her neceſſities were diſcovered by a ſtranger, when a little man entered the houſe, whoſe features, however plain, and, to the generality of the world, unintereſting, immediately prepoſſeſſed me in his favour.
Lavinia, ſaid he, I hear you are moving, and am come to ſee if I can be of any ſervice to you— where is your huſband?
A guſh of tears was all ſhe could anſwer.
Dear girl, do not weep, ſaid he—is it pecuniary matters that diſtreſs you? ſpeak, Lavinia; will twenty or thirty guineas be of any ſervice to you?
She heſitated; but at laſt confeſſed that they were greatly diſtreſſed for money; and that her huſband was obliged to keep out of the way of his creditors.152 N4v 152
I will be with you again in a few moments, ſaid he, darting out of the houſe.
I waited his return.
In leſs than half an hour he came back, and put a ſum of money into Lavinia’s hand, which entirely calmed her fears.
Oh! Sir, ſaid ſhe, how ſhall I ever return this obligation?
By never mentioning it, he replied: let me beg it may be buried in oblivion—I ſhall be offended if ever I hear it talked of—it gives me pleaſure that I had it in my power to ſerve ſo worthy a man as your huſband, and reſtore tranquility to two hearts which were formed for love and domeſtic happineſs.
He ſhook her hand cordially, and left her.
How does thy humility exalt thee, my generous friend, ſaid Lavinia, when he was gone; but actions like thine cannot be hid; it would be an injury to mankind, to conceal them—yet it is not an action to be blazoned from the trump of common fame; but gratitude ſhall ſnatch a gentler clarion, and tell they virtues to the liſtening few, who know how to admire and imitate them.
I left her with a heart at eaſe.
It was the cloſe of the evening—paſſing through a public ſtreet, I heard the ſound of muſic, and ſaw a room, in a houſe of entertainment, elegantly illuminated—I took advantage of my ring, 153 N5r 153 and went in.—It was an entertainment given at the expence of Mr. Woudbe—the kind, the friendly, Mr. Woudbe, was laviſhing in folly and diſſipation, a ſum, which might have lightened the hearts of the miſerable, and dried the tear of deſpondency—But he could not ſhew his taſte in giving or lending money—he could diſplay his elegant fancy by ſpending it on trifles, or, in reality, throwing it away.
You muſt not loſe a moment, Sir, ſaid a footman, addreſſing a man in the coffee room, whom I knew to be an attorney—You muſt make all poſſible haſte, for my maſter cannot live three hours.
The attorney was a tall, meagre man; had a great deal of ſervile politeneſs and outward ſanctity in his manner; yet there was an under deſigning caſt with his eyes, which made me ſuspect the integrity of his heart.
He is going to make a will, ſaid I—perhaps ſome rich, old miſer is at the point of death, and is willing to diſpoſe of his hoards in the best manner he can—I will accompany the attorney.
We were ſat down at the door of an handſome houſe, and I followed Mr. Vellum unſeen into the chamber of the ſick man.
He appeared to be between the age of forty and fifty; his looks were venerable, but his features 154 N5v 154 were marked by the hand of death—behind his pillow, ſupporting his head, ſat a lovely girl about fourteen years old, who while ſhe, with her hand, wiped away the ſweat which ſtood upon the forehead of the dying man, bedewed it again with her tears—At the foot of the bed ſtood a youth ſomething older than the girl; he leaned againſt the ſupporter of the bed; the curtain partly hid his face, but the part which was expoſed to view, ſpoke filial love, anxiety and ſorrow.
My good friend, Mr. Vellum, ſaid the ſick man, feebly ſtretching out his hand, I am glad you are come: I feel the ſprings of life almoſt worn out, and I wiſh to ſettle my worldly affairs, that my dear Julietta and Horace may have no trouble from my relations.
You know, Mr. Vellum, I married their mother contrary to the inclination of my father, and, on that account, at his deceaſe found myſelf poſſeſſed of but a ſmall patrimony: willing to provide, not only for the preſent moment, but alſo for futurity, I entered into partnerſhip with an eminent merchant, and my ſucceſs being beyond my hopes, I not only lived in affluence, but am enabled to leave my beloved children ſufficient to place them above temptation, and give them the exalted pleaſure of adminiſtering to the neceſſities of their fellow creatures—I have experienced ſo much malignity and envy from my own relations, that I think them by no means fit guardians for my children. My wife was poor, and an orphan; ſhe had many relations, 155 N6r 155 but no friends. Thoſe who will not befriend a deſolate orphan, are not proper people to be entruſted with the care and management of young, volatile minds—You, my friend, have a ſon about the age of Horace; and a daughter ſome years older than Julietta; they will be fit companions for each other. I do not think my children can be happier than under your guardianſhip and protection—I have in the funds thirty thouſand pounds—I deſire you will divide it equally between my children; and, in caſe of their dying without iſſue, it ſhall devolve to you and yours—I ſhall leave you other teſtimonies of my regard, and a few legacies to my ſervants—pray be quick, I am haſtening toward my end—
Mr. Vellum wrote the will, the old gentleman ſigned it, and two of the ſervants witneſſed it.
Mr. Vellum ſeemed greatly affected, profeſſed much eſteem for the lovely children, and declared the whole ſtudy of his life ſhould be to make them happy—he embraced, and pretended to weep over his friend, but methought there was more of joy than ſorrow in his tears—The will in his poſſeſſion gave him greater ſatiſfaction, than the death of his friend gave him pain.
The old gentleman deſired to be left to himſelf a few moments, the attorney and the children 156 N6v 156 withdrew—he offered up ſome pious ejaculations, requeſting the bleſſings ſo abundently ſhower’d on himſelf might be continued to his children; his heart overflowed with gratitude for the many mercies he had enjoyed; he petitioned health and proſperity, for his friends, penitence and pardon, for his enemies, and finiſhed his prayer by fervently recommending his ſoul to the mercy of that Being who had guided and ſupported him through life. This eſſential duty finiſhed, he again called for his children.
My dear Horace and Julietta, ſaid he, I am ſummoned from you; early, my children, you are bereft of the love, attention, and advice of a parent, who had no other regard for life than as it contributed to your happineſs—I have but one precept I wiſh to inculcate and impreſs upon your minds: deal by all mankind as you wiſh and expect them to deal by you; let nothing, my children, alienate your affections from each other; and remember to respect your brother and ſiſter mortals, not according to the homage which the miſtaken world may think due to wealth and grandeur, but according to their own intrinſic worth and merit.
Horace, reſpect virtue wherever you find it; nor dare on any account uſe the wealth of which Heaven has appointed you ſteward, to corrupt integrity, or pervert innocence; ſhun the ſociety of the licentious, though dignified with titles; regard not the ſcoffs of the libertine, but preſerve unſhaken your integrity to God and man.157 O1r 157
Julietta, my beloved girl, fly from the voice of adulation; beware of inſidious villains, who ſpread their ſpacious ſnares for youth and innocence; guard with unceaſing vigilance your honor and your fame; yet, my dear girl, exult not in the pride of your own virtue, nor triumph over the wretched fallen of your ſex; be uniformly good; be innocent yourſelf but pity and lament the miſery of thoſe who have forfeited that ineſtimable jewel; pour the balm of comfort into their bleeding hearts, and learn from their errors to rectify your own.
Oh, I am going—one more embrace—Almighty Father bleſs—bleſs my— Children, he would have ſaid, but the ghaſtly monarch ſealed up his lips for ever.
Oh! take me with you, dear ſaint, cried Julietta, wildly claſping her hands—ſhe threw herſelf on the bed and fainted.
The grief of Horace was manly but expreſſive— the tears rolled down his cheeks—he walked about the room in ſilent agony—till ſeeing his ſiſter’s ſituation, he forgot his own ſorrows, and endeavoured to revive and comfort her.
Lovely children, ſaid I, as I left the houſe, you are now launched into a world full of temptations to vice, which will approach you under the faſcinatingO 158 O1v 158 nating form of pleaſure.—May you avoid the rocks and quick ſands on which ſo many youths of both ſexes are wrecked.
I do not like Mr. Vellum, ſaid I, making a quick tranſition from the orphans to the guardian.—I wiſh he may diſcharge his truſt faithfully.
Hang this ſuſpicion, continued I, it is an uncharitable, unchriſtian-like thing that has crept into my mind under the ſhape of anxiety for the welfare of theſe poor orphans.—There’s another fooliſh idea now; how is it poſſible a perſon can be poor who has fifty thouſand pounds to their fortune; it may ſeem an inexplicable riddle to the narrow minded race of mortals who place the ſummum bonum of ſublunary happineſs in an oſtentatious diſplay of wealth and grandeur: but I can aſſure them a perſon poſſeſſed of fifty times that ſum, may be poor, and ſo poor as to be miſerable.
Impoſſible, exclaims pretty Miſs Biddy, the tradeſman’s daughter, who juſt returned from boarding ſchool, is informed by mamma that ſhe is to have five thouſand pounds for her fortune.
Impoſſible, had I ten more added to that five, I ſhould be the happieſt mortal breathing—and it is quite out of the queſtion to think of ever being poor again.
A well-a-day, ſaid I, ’tis a ſtrange thing; but, to me, poverty of ideas and meanneſs of ſpirit are greater afflictions than poverty of purſe and meanneſs of birth.159 O2r 159
When a man is alone, and in a thinking mood, his imagination inſenſibly runs from one thing to another, till he entirely wanders from the ſubject that firſt engaged his attention.
Now, this being my caſe, I had got into ſuch a train of thought on the various kinds of poverty with which the world is infeſted, that it was with difficulty I brought my mind back to Horace and Julietta; and, when I did, that deviliſh ſuſpicion of their guardian’s integrity would creep along with them.
Pſhaw, ſaid I, what buſineſs have I to ſuspect a man of baſeneſs, to which, perhaps, he may be an entire ſtranger. I declare, weekweak mortal as I am, I find ſufficient employ in correcting my own errors, without ſearching out the errors of others.
I endeavoured to give my thoughts another turn, but in vain, they involuntarily turned back to the orphans, and I wandered on, muſing on the uncertainty of their future happineſs.
The Girl of the Town.
For ever curſed be that deteſted place, ſaid a wretched daughter of folly, as ſhe paſſed a tavern in Holborn; and for ever execrated be that night, on which I firſt entered it.
She caught my hand as I paſſed her.
Give me a glaſs of wine, ſaid ſhe.
The watch had juſt gone ten.160 O2v 160
I looked in her face—ſhe was pretty; and I thought her features were not of the ſort which never expreſs ſhame; her eyes were caſt down —I thought I ſaw a tear ſteal from them——I touched her cheek, it was wet, yet ſhe forced a ſmile—I took hold of her hand, it was cold, it trembled.
My compaſſion was ſtrongly excited—by an involuntary motion, I drew her hand under my arm, and walked on in ſilence till we came to another houſe of entertainment.—I then gave her ſomething to procure refreſhment, and bade her good night.
Then you will not go in with me, ſaid ſhe, in tremulous accents.
I muſt not, ſaid I, I have a wife.
Go then, ſaid ſhe, letting go my arm. Yet, I thought I had found a friend, and would have told you ſuch a tale—but, no matter—I am wretched— I have made others ſo—I will not ſin against conviction. While this laſts, ſaid ſhe, I will live unpolluted—when it is gone, I muſt either ſtarve or ſin again.
Now let the icy ſons of philoſophy ſay what they pleaſe. I could no more have left this poor girl, after ſuch a declaration, than I could travel bare-foot over the burning deſerts of Arabia. ——So, without once aſking the advice of Madam Prudence, or ſuffering ſuſpicion to hint, that her affliction might be aſſumed—I again took hold of her hand, and we entered the houſe together.161 O3r 161
And now for your tale, my poor afflicted, ſaid I, after ſhe had eaten an hearty ſupper of cold veal and ſallad.
To engage your friendſhip, Sir, ſaid ſhe, I muſt be open and candid, and often condemn myſelf—I know I ſtand convicted before the world; but the world ſees not the heart.—Credulity was my fault; a vile platonic ſyſtem, my ruin.
Yet, had I been ruined alone, it were but little conſequence; but, alas! I have involved others in miſery—I have ſown thorns on the conjugal pillow of a worthy woman—I have torn the heart of a parent with all the dreadful pangs an injured wife, a doating mother, can feel, who ſees the huſband of her affections, the father of her children, eagerly purſuing, and encouraged in a guilty paſſion.
Gracious God, cried ſhe, claſping her hands, let my ſorrows, my miſeries, my unfeigned penitence, expiate this fault, and for the reſt, thy will be done.
I know not how it was; but though ſhe ſo ſtrongly accuſed herſelf, and of ſuch heinous offences, for my ſoul I could not but pity her; and ſo did my Emma too, when I told her the tale; ſo I bade her be comforted, and I would ſerve her in every thing that lay in my power—— But, to the tale——O2 162 O3v 162
You ſhall have it directly, good ladies—I know you love a little private hiſtory.
Mercy on me! cried Miſs Autumn, what ſort of a ſtory are we to have now? the hiſtory of a filthy creature, who lived with another woman’s huſband, and then turned ſtreet-walker?
Even ſo, dear Madam; and if your immaculate modeſty will be too much ſhocked at the recital in public, double down the page, take it up in your chamber, and read it when you are alone; it will ſave you the trouble of a bluſh——
And do you think, Mr. Inquiſitor, that your works will be proper for the peruſal of youth?
I hope ſo, Madam; Heaven forbid that I ſhould ever write a page, whoſe tendency might make me bluſh to own it, or in my lateſt hour, wiſh to blot it out—my narrative is calculated to inſpire at once pity and horror——
Pity! good Lord—I never heard the like—pity for an abandoned huſſey, who merits the moſt flagrant puniſhment?
You’ll pardon me, Madam, If I differ from you in opinion—I would have every woman to feel a proper horror and deteſtation of the crimes this unhappy girl has committed; but, at the ſame time, pity the weakneſs that led into them, and the miſeries the commiſſion of them has entailed upon her.
I have no patience, Sir; I inſiſt upon it, that the breach of chaſtity in woman deſerves the moſt rigorous puniſhment.163 O4r 163
Unfeeling woman! if thou art really virtuous thyſelf, boaſt not thy ſuperiority over thy afflicted, fallen ſiſters; but retire to thy cloſet, and thank thy Creator, that he gave thee not a form that might lead thee into temptations, or endued thee with fortitude to withſtand them——
But now for Annie’s ſtory.——
End of the ſecond volume.
In Three Volumes.
By Victoria., Author of
Printed for Mathew Carey, Bookſeller,
Street, near Fourth.
The Inquisitor, &c.
It was on a fine evening, the latter end of May, when tired with the fatigues of the day, for ſhe was a milliner’s apprentice, Annie obtained leave of her miſtreſs to walk out for a little air.—Her miſtreſs had a ſhop which ſhe occupied, and frequently viſited during the ſummer ſeaſon, ſituated on the banks of the Thames.
Annie ſtrayed toward the water ſide. Some venerable trees grew on the banks, forming a covert from the ſun at noon; and, by their interwoven branches, inſpired a ſort of pleaſing melancholy in the gray twilight of the evening.
Annie was a ſentimental girl—ſhe loved ſolitude, poetry, and muſic.—With a mind ſoftened by the remembrance of ſome former occurrences of her life, and ſpirits calmed, but not depreſſed, by the ſolemn ſilence and ſerenity of every thing around her, ſhe wandered on, meditating on the happy ſtate of thoſe who were in a ſituation to enjoy unmoleſted 168 O6v 168 the darling pleaſures of reading, meditation, and friendſhip.
Whether love had any ſhare in her thoughts at that moment, I never could get her to confeſſ— but, whether a ſentimental young woman, wandering in a ſolitary walk, and contemplating the works of nature, might not naturally enough wiſh for a boſom friend to participate in her pleaſures, and join in an innocent converſation, I leave to my fair readers to determine—to be ſure, ſhe might wiſh for a female companion; very likely ſhe did; but it is a point I never could determine.
In this ſhady walk Annie was accoſted by Mr. Winlove.
Mr. Winlove was a gentleman of fortune, to whoſe family Annie had been recommended by a particular friend as an innocent, well-diſposed girl. —She had frequently viſited Mrs. Winlove—ſhe had received numberleſs civilities from her huſband—— there could be no harm in walking two or three turns with a married man—ſhe accepted his proferred arm, and they proceeded together.
I had been wiſhing for an agreeable companion in this walk, Annie, ſaid he.
Why did you not bring Mrs. Winlove with you?
’Tis a natural queſtion; Annie, but a wife is not always the moſt agreeable companion. I am much better pleaſed with your company than I ſhould be with hers.
Annie had been brought up in the ſtrictest principles of virtue; ſhe had likewise imbibed ſome 169 P1r 169 ſtrange, obſolete notions concerning honor, piety, integrity, and the like. ſhe, therefore, thought it ſtrange that a man ſhould prefer the company of an indifferent perſon, to that of the woman to whom he had vowed eternal love and conſtancy.
How can you talk ſo inconſiſtently, Mr. Winlove? ſaid ſhe; ſurely my company cannot be preferable to that of the woman of your choice.
Do people never marry from any other motives than inclination?
I have heard, indeed, ſaid Annie, of marriages of intereſt, where avarice, not love, lighted the hymeneal torch; but I have too good an opinion of Mr. Winlove to think he could be biaſſed by ſo ſordid a motive
How I am delighted to find that you entertain ſo high an opinion of me, my dear creature; and yet it pains me.
Oh, why am I denied the power of beſtowing myſelf and fortune on a woman every way ſo amiable.
Annie was going to interrupt him, but he ſtopped her, and proceeded.——
Be not offended, my ſweet angel, you have no idea of the miſeries of my ſituation; drawn into a curſed connection with a woman who has neither beauty, merit, nor accompliſhments to render her a deſirable companion—a woman for whom I have P 170 P1v 170 not the leaſt tenderneſs, and whom I married from a miſtaken point of honor—unhappy wretch that I am, I muſt now daily ſee you, charming Annie, lovely, amiable, accompliſhed, yet obliged to earn a ſubſiſtence, when nature formed you to move in a ſphere more exalted, more ſuited to your gentle diſpoſition.—Theſe hands, dear girl, were not formed for labour— he took one hand and preſſed it tenderly to his lips
Now, however Annie might be inclined to reprove Mr. Winlove in the beginning of this addreſs, the latter part of it was ſo prettily mixed with praiſes of herſelf, that ſhe could not well determine whether to be pleaſed or offended——ſhe therefore continued ſilent.
Annie was the daughter of a merchant; had been well educated; and being ſuppoſed to have a large fortune, was early introduced into the ſchool of gallantry, and her ears invaded by the voice of adulation—ſhe was pretty—how could ſhe avoid knowing it? ſhe had heard an hundred different men ſwear it; her glaſs confirmed their oaths.— She was naturally ſenſible; but ſhe was vain, and a little inclined to coquetry.—Her father died inſolvent—ſhe was taken from a ſcene of grandeur, and apprenticed to a milliner.—She was good natured; every body loved her—ſhe ſubmitted to her fate without repining, and endeavoured to render herſelf uſeful in her new occupation. But, alas! poor Annie, ſhe loved the ſoft numbers of a Dryden or a Pope, much better than the ſtudy of the faſhions; 171 P2r 171 and would prefer ſpending an hour at her pen, before the formation of the moſt elegant ornament for the perſon.
It is not to be wondered at, that ſhe was delighted by the voice of flattery, ſince ſhe had ſeldom, from her cradle, been accuſtomed to any other.
Mr. Winlove was artful; he eaſily diſcovered the method by which he might gain the good will of this ſimple girl; and imperceptibly changed the ſubject, from admiring the beauties of her perſon, to commend the graces of her mind.—He then inquired into the nature of her ſtudies; commendeded her taſte in the ſelection of authors; ventured gently to laugh at her ideas of religion; called them ſuperſtitious; ſaid ſhe was a novice in the ways of the world, and openly avowed a paſſion for her.
At firſt her looks plainly indicated her horror and amazement—She trembled—ſhrunk from him, and telling him ſhe was ſhocked to find the perſon ſhe had ſuppoſed her friend, was her bittereſt enemy, burſt into tears.
Had Annie acted with propriety, ſhe would have inſtantly left him; but he attempted to palliate his offence—ſhe ſtaid to hear him.
How can you call me your enemy, dear Annie, ſaid he—though I doat on you almoſt to madneſs, I would not injure you to obtain an empire. I will curb my paſſion; it ſhall be pure, exalted friendſhip that warms our boſoms; we may be friends, my 172 P2v 172 ſweet girl; you cannot refuſe me that token of your eſteem.
Let your actions teach me to eſteem you, Mr. Winlove—I will be the friend of no man who pretends to laugh at all obligations, moral and religious.
Mr. Winlove, by degrees, led her into a dispute— Annie was not a match in argument with this inſidious friend; he was a ſophiſt; he preferred the laws of nature; called religion prieſtcraft; brought innumerable proofs to convince her that her opinion was fallacious, and that ſhe was entirely ignorant of the road to happineſs, if ſhe ſuppoſed it was to be found by ſtrictly adhering to the muſty rules preſcribed by the aged and captious, who, unable any longer to enjoy the pleaſures of youth, would deprive others of their ſhare.
Take example, dear Annie, ſaid he, from the excellent Eloise, of Rouſſeau.
She had never read it.
He recommended it very ſtrongly for her perusal.
As ſhe returned home, paſſing a library, Mr. Winlove purchaſed the pernicious novel, and gave it to Annie.
She took it home—ſhe read it—her judgment was perverted—ſhe believed in the reality of a platonic paſſion——ſhe thought ſhe had the virtue of an Eloise, and Mr. Winlove the honour of a St. Preux.173 P3r 173
Churchill was the next author that was recommended.
She read—ſhe liſtened to the ſoft language of love, and imbibed pernicious poiſon from every page ſhe read, and every word ſhe heard.
Truſting to her own ſtrength and virtue, ſhe made a private aſſignation—met him—confeſſed ſhe loved him—and was loſt.
But little now remains to be told.
A few months convinced her, that when honour is forfeited, love cannot exiſt.
Mr. Winlove forſook her.
Her reputation ſtained—without friends—without peace—deſpiſed and inſulted by her own ſex, pitied by the other, and renounced by her uncle, who had bound her apprentice, ſhe became the aſſociate of the abandoned and profligate; and reduced to chuſe the dreadful alternative of death or infamy, became a partner in vices which once ſhe would have ſhuddered but to think on.
And this man pleaded love as an incitement to the ruin of the poor, ſimple Annie.
What is love?
It is a question which would be answered different ways, according to the age and ſituation of the perſon to whom it is addreſſed—Love! cries the P2 174 P3v 174 lovely girl, whoſe imagination is warmed by the peruſal of a ſentimental novel—love is the cordial drop Heaven has thrown in, to ſweeten the bitter draught of life—without love we can only exiſt— ſweet ſoother of our cares! that can ſtrew roſes on the coarſest bed, and make the moſt homely fair delicious.—Give me love and Strephon, an humble cottage ſhaded with woodbine; for love will render the retreat delightful!
Charmed with the enchanting ſcene her buſy fancy draws, ſhe imagines happineſs exiſts only in a cottage; and that for the love of her dear Strephon, ſhe could eaſily, and without regret, forego all the indulgencies of her father’s houſe; all the advantages of wealth, and ſolace herſelf with a brown cruſt and a pitcher of milk. But then her Strephon will always be near her, ever whiſpering his love, and ſtudying to promote her felicity: fired with theſe romantic ideas, ſhe takes the firſt opportunity of quitting her home; and without a moment’s deliberation, throws herſelf upon the honor of a man, who perhaps, had no further regard for her than the hope of ſharing her fortune might excite.
Aſk this ſame woman, ſome few months after, when poverty has viſited her dwelling, and unmaſking the real deſigns of her huſband, aſk her then what love is—her anſwer will be, it is a fooliſh headſtrong paſſion, whoſe pleaſures exiſt merely in imagination; a blind hood-winked deity, who leads on his votaries by promiſes of everlaſting felicity; 175 P4r 175 and when two late for retreat, diſcovers his real aſpect, and plunges them into inevitable miſery.— Yet this woman’s ideas of love were both erroneous —the reaſon of which was, ſhe had never really felt the effects of that exalted paſſion.
Aſk the libertine what is love?
Innocence trembles at his anſwer; religion and virtue replies, it is ruin, infamy and ſhame.
The old, avaricious, captious wretch will tell you, there is no ſuch thing as love; that it never exiſted but in romances, plays, and novels.
Then pray, Mr. Inquiſitor, what is your opinion of love?
Real love was born of beauty, nurſed by Innocence, and its life prolonged by good ſenſe, affability and prudence—it conſiſts of a ſtrict union of ſoul and parity of ſentiment between two perſons of different ſexes—its conſtant attendants are honor, integrity, candour, humility, good nature, and cheerfulneſs.
A paſſion of this kind elevates the ſoul, and inſpires it with fortitude to bear the various viciſſitudes of life without complaining—from ſuch a paſſion proceeds all the endearing ties of nature —Father, brother, huſband, wife, mother, daughter; names, the very ſound of which will make every fibre of the heart vibrate with pleaſure.176 P4v 176
What noble, praiſe-worthy actions have men performed when animated by the eſteem and love of a deſerving object; even women have forgot the weakneſs of their ſex, and ſuffered hardſhips, combated perils, and braved even the threats of war, for the ſake of a beloved huſband.—It opens the heart to all the gentle virtues which ornament ſociety—the heart ſuſceptible of love is never callous to the feelings of humanity; he never beholds a diſtreſſed object but he immediately wiſhes to relieve it, not that he feels ſo much for the perſon’s ſuffering as for thoſe who may ſuffer with or for their diſtreſs, ſuch as a wife, huſband, or parent. —It is a paſſion which, when inſpired by virtue, and guieded by religion and reaſon, dignifies mankind——a paſſion which ornaments the higheſt ſtation, and adds new luſtre even to the Britiſh diadem.
Illuſtrious pair! whoſe every action tends to point the way to real happineſs; long, long may you reign the pride and bleſſing of your people—— May your bright example ſpread throughout the kingdom, till Hymen, led by Love and Honor, ſhall reign triumphant o’er the Britiſh nation.
It is very extraordinary, but I never can finiſh with the ſubject I begin upon—I began a definition of Love, and I ramble immediately to the King and Queen; and how was it poſſible I could do otherwiſe when love and harmony was the theme.
My fair country-woman, you whoſe hearts are formed by nature open to every gentle, generous ſentiment, beware of Love—there are many deceivers177 P5r 177 ceivers who aſſume his appearance, and ſteal unſuſpected into the heart; but of all the various ſhapes it aſſumes, none is ſo much to be dreaded as the ſpacious maſk of friendſhip.—There has been more women loſt through platonic love than any other; and the reaſon is, they are thrown entirely off their guard, and have not the leaſt doubt of the ſtrength of their own virtue, or their lover’s honor, till both are forfeited paſt redemption.
But this is all digreſſing from Annie’s ſtory.
When ſhe had finiſhed her relation, I took her into a hackney-coach, and conveyed her home—— candidly told my dear Emma the circumſtance of our meeting, and aſked her advice in what manner to diſpoſe of the dear girl.
We tried her penitence; found it ſincere; and willing to encourage her in virtue, recommended her to the ſervice of a lady, whoſe example confirmed thoſe ſentiments which were newly returning to be inmates of Annie’s boſom.
I have frequently ſeen her ſince, and experience a thouſand times more ſatiſfaction in the reflection that I have ſnatched her from infamy, than the man of pleaſure can feel, who raiſes the object of his guilty purſuit from the loweſt ſtation, to affluence and grandeur.
That is but a bad compariſon neither; the two actions cannot come in competition with each 178 P5v 178 other, ſince the firſt elevates human nature, the latter debaſes it.
I have often been ſurpriſed to find that perſons who are poſſeſſed of elegant villas, and are at liberty to diſpoſe of their time as they think proper, ſhould prefer ſpending it in London. For my own part, I ſhould hardly paſs one month of the twelve in that ſeat of commerce and buſtle, were it not for unavoidable obligations.
I find the pureſt pleaſures ariſe from a walk in a pleaſant meadow, hedged round with hawthorn, in a ſweet May morning, when the lark attunes her early ſong, and chaunts forth the praiſes of her Creator; to ſee bright Phoebus leave his watery bed, and kiſs away Aurora’s pearly tears, which hang upon the opening flowers.
Drive on, ſaid I to the poſtillion, I long to be at my journey’s end, and I muſt poſitively dine at Friendly Hall to—day.
Pray, your honor, give me ſome half-pence, ſaid a boy that ran out of a cottage as the carriage paſſed.
He was an arch-looking boy, with curly hair, very decently dreſſed, and ran along by the ſide of the carriage with ſurpriſing agility.—I threw him out ſome half—pence; and looking out of the window to obſerve him pick them up, I ſaw a young man, who had greatly the appearance of a gentleman, 179 P6r 179 eagerly take the money from the child, and go into the cottage.
I had ſcarcely mentioned the circumſtance to my Emma, before the poſtillion driving careleſſly over a heap of ſtones, one of the wheels gave way, and down came the coach.
At another time, I ſhould have undoubtedly have ſworn at the poſtillion, and thrown myſelf into a violent paſſion, from which I might not have recovered the whole day.—At preſent, as there was no harm done, the accident only coincided with my wiſhes, which led me towards the cottage; ſo helping my Emma out, and taking Harriet in one hand and Lucy in the other, we walked into the humble habitation.
The young man was ſeated by a woman, whoſe face had never been remarkable for beauty, but was irreſiſtibly charming, overſhadowed by melancholy, and adorned by ſenſibility.—Her fine auburn hair ſhe had endeavoured to confine under a ſmall lawn cap, but it had broke from its bandage, and played in wanton ringlets round her face.
A child about three months old was at her breaſt, and the boy, to whom I had given the half-pence, was making boats with bits of wood, and ſwimming them in a pail of water that ſtood in a corner of the room.180 P6v 180
As we entered, the young man glanced his eyes upon his cloaths; his cheeks aſſumed a ſanguine hue.—They certainly were thread-bare, but what of that? They had once been new, and from what remained, we could ſee they had once been elegant; perhaps it was that very circumſtance which diſtreſſed him.
Whatever circumſtances a perſon is in, you may always diſcover by their behaviour, whether they have been inured to their ſituation from childhood. —A perſon, who has never known any thing but poverty, ſhews no other mark of chagrin at the entrance of a ſtranger, than what proceeds from an aukwardneſs of manner, which they ever betray, when in the company of their ſuperiors—and raiſe that perſon to the moſt exalted ſtation, and you will ſtill perceive the ſame diſguſting aukwardneſs and ruſticity.—So, place a man of education in ever ſo obſcure a ſituation, you will always diſcover the manners of the gentleman, though obſcured by the garb of the beggar.
I, therefore, no ſooner beheld the young man, than I diſcovered that he had not always worn a thread-bare coat, or lived from his childhood in a cottage.
I am hungry, mamma, ſaid Harriet.
Could you procure us a little bread and milk, ſaid I to the young woman.181 Q1r 181
We have none in the houſe, Sir, ſhe replied, visibly embarraſſed; and it is above two miles to another cottage.
The young man turned pale as aſhes.
Give me my money, mother, ſaid the boy, and I will go and buy ſome. She heſitated, and the boy proceeded. I think it is time we had ſome breakfaſt—I am ſure I am hungry—and ſo are you—I heard you ſay ſo, or I ſhould not have begged of the gentlefolks.
He will diſcover our poverty, ſaid the father, forcing a ſmile.—The mother turned from us, and wept.
Pardon me, Madam, ſaid Emma, if I aſk the cauſe of your tears—it is not curioſity, but a wiſh to ſerve you, occaſions the queſtion.
Pride and poverty, replied the young man, ſtruggling to ſuppreſs his emotions.
Will this relieve you, ſaid I, offering him a few guineas.—
Though I am almoſt ſtarving, ſaid he, I feel more anguiſh than ſatiſfaction at the offer; nor would I accept it, but for my wife and children.
It is extraordinary that there is ſuch an innate pride implanted in the mind of ſome men that they are aſhamed of poverty, though it was entailed upon them by unavoidable miſfortunes, and I am certain that people of this caſt, in receiving favours,Q 182 Q1v 182 vours, though perhaps thoſe favours raiſe them from a ſtate of penury to plenty, feel a larger ſhare of pain than pleaſure—the noble mind is always pained when labouring under the weight of obligations.
Now, ſhame upon the world for occaſioning this —were it not that there is greater reſpect paid to the gilded equipage, glaring liveries, and embroidered cloaths, than to the poor atom of clay that is attended by all this pomp, a man would never bluſh at poverty when it was attended by honor and virtue.
I do not mean hereditary honor, I mean a nobleneſs of ſoul, an elevation of ſentiment, an integrity of heart, that would rather bear the laugh of the world for keeping within the ſtrict rules of œconomy than ſuffer a tradeſman’s bill to go unpaid, or a fellow creature to want ſuſtenance.
A man of real honor will not always draw his ſword at every trivial offence; but he ever ſtands forth the undaunted champion of innocence and virtue—he alſo holds his friend’s wife or daughter as ſacred, regards them with eſteem, and treats them with reſpect.
The modern man of honor is quite a different creature; he muſt have his pleaſures whether he can afford to pay for them or not; he will ſteal his friend’s fortune at the gaming table; debauch his wife, or enſnare his daughter, and then run him through the body by way of reparation.183 Q2r 183
And, what is hereditary honor?—A word of pompous ſound—a toy—a plaything—a pretty bauble for children of twenty, thirty, aye, up to an hundred years of age.
I have ſeen thoſe great babies as pleaſed with enumerating the titles of their anceſtors, as an infant has been with a new rattle, or a jack in the box.
Sir, my forefathers were Earls, or Dukes, or Princes.—Sir, I have noble blood in my veins, which has flowed uncontaminated through twenty generations .
Yes, Sir, but your anceſtors were cruel, or unjuſt, or ambitious, or avaricious, or proud, or revengeful.—But they were Earls, or Dukes, or Princes.—That is the convincing argument; and my Lord ſits down perfectly contented with the reflection that he is right honorable by birth, and never gives himſelf the trouble to perform one honorable action during the whole courſe of his life.
And, pray what has this to do with the cottagers.
Faith I don’t know that it has the leaſt connection with them; but I can never preſcribe rules for my pen, any more than I can confine my thoughts to one ſingle object.—To write ſtraight forward, is like an hackney horſe that, ſetting out from the firſt ſtage, continues in the beaten track till he arrives at the end of his journey—for my part I hate ſuch inſipid travelling; mine is a journey184 Q2v 184 ney of pleaſure, and I will turn out of the road as often as I pleaſe to take a view of any thing amuſing or entertaining.
The young man went out and procured ſome refreſhment, of which we partook, and, after the repaſt was finiſhed, the wife prepared to give us her own and huſband’s hiſtory.—
She laid her infant to ſleep, ſet her apartment in proper order; and, having ſet a mug of cyder (which her huſband had brought in) upon the table, ſat down to gratify the curioſity ſhe had ſo ſtrongly excited.—
At that inſtant a fat old man rode up to the door, diſmounted, faſtened his horſe to a tree, and entered.
I never caſt my eye upon a ſtranger but I immediately form ſome idea of his or her diſpoſitions by the turn of their eyes and caſt of their features; and though my ſkill in phyſiognomy is not infallible, I ſeldom find myſelf deceived.
The old man had a ſort of haughtineſs in his carriage, which ſeemed the reſult of mean pride and ſelf-ſufficiency, his perſon was coarſe, his manner rude, his language almoſt inſulting.
I am ſurpriſed, ſaid he to the young man, that you have not brought me your laſt half year’s rent. —I have repeatedly ſent, and will no longer be put 185 Q3r 185 off by your trifling excuſes—I am now come for the money, and will not depart without it.
Sir, ſaid the young man, we have it not; and to add to our miſfortunes, two days ſince our cattle were ſeized for a ſmall ſum which we owed in the neighbourhood.—
Money I want, and money I will have, ſaid the man—a large ſum is to be made up this week, and I will not wait any longer—if you do not ſend me the rent within two days, I will turn you out of the cottage, firſt ſeizing what ſtock you have.
Confound this money, ſaid I, it is the occasion of more ill will and diſſention than any thing else in the world.
Why, pray, young man, ſaid he, what would you do without money?
I was dreſſed very plainly—ſo was Emma and the children—he had not ſeen the carriage that was repairing; or if he had, could never have ſuppoſed it was mine.
He addreſſed me, therefore, by this familiar epithet, on account of his ſuppoſed ſuperiority; and as he pronounced the words young man, he aſſumed ſuch an air of ſelf-ſufficiency, and ſat himſelf back in the chair with ſuch an inſulting aſſurance, that I had hardly patience to anſwer him calmly.
If there was no money in the world, ſaid I, there would be no extortion; and, I fancy then, Q2 186 Q3v 186 you, my good friend, would find but little employment.
One of my ſervants then informed me that the carriage was ready—I enquired of my young hoſt if this was his landlord, and was informed he was only ſteward to Lord M——: I became anſwerable for the rent, and determined, on my return to town, to pay a viſit to his Lordſhip, and inform him of the neceſſitous ſituation of his tenants.
One evening, as I was rambling out, I obſerved a man ſitting on the trunk of an old tree, with a paper and pencil in his hand; at firſt I ſupposed him to be drawing, but, on a nearer approach, I found him to be writing.
Pray, Sir, ſaid I, advancing, and paying him the compliments of the evening, what may be the ſubject which ſo agreeably engages your attention? I preſume you are ſacrificing at the ſhrine of the Muſes— I am, Sir, ſaid he, riſing and putting the paper in his pocket—I have been writing all this ſummer, and in the winter I hope to have my works in print—It is a novel, Sir, entirely calculated to amuſe—
In how many volumes?
And are you ſure of ſelling them?187 Q4r 187
I am engaged Sir, to write for a perſon who, ſcarcely ever publiſhes any thing but novels.
What may be the plot or foundation of your novel?
It is called Annabella; or Suffering Innocence—— my heroine is beautiful, accompliſhed, and rich; an only child, and ſurrounded by admirers——ſhe contracts an attachment for a man, her inferior in point of birth and fortune; but honourable, handſome, &c.—She has a female friend, to whom ſhe relates all that paſſes in her breaſt—her hopes, fears, meetings, partings, &c.—She is treated hardly by her friends—combats innumerable difficulties in the ſentimental way, but at laſt overcomes them all, and is made the bride of the man of her heart.
Pſhaw, ſaid I, that is ſtale; there are at this preſent day, above two thouſand novels in exiſtence, which begin and end exactly in the ſame way——the novel writers have now taken another road; and, if you will give me leave, I will juſt give you a few hints, which may, perhaps, be of ſome ſervice to you in writing a novel in future.
Sketch of a Modern Novel.
In the firſt place, your heroine, muſt fall violently in love will an all-accompliſhed youth at a very early age—keep her paſſion concealed from her parents188 Q4v 188 rents or guardians; but bind herself in her own mind to wed no other than this dear, first conqueror of her heart—ill—natured, proud, ambitious fathers, are very neceſſary to be introduced—kind, affectionate, amiable mothers. The ſuperlative beauty and accompliſhments of your heroine, or perhaps the ſplendour of her fortune, muſt attract the attention of a man diametrically oppoſite in perſon and diſpoſition to her firſt lover—the father muſt threaten—the mother entreat—and the lover be very urgent for the completion of his felicity— remember to mix a ſufficient quantity of ſighs, tears, ſwooning, hyſterics, and all the moving expreſſions of heart—rending woe—her filial duty muſt triumph over inclination; and ſhe muſt be led like a victim to the altar.——
So much for the firſt part.
The ſecond volume diſplays her angelic, her exemplary conduct in the character of a wife—the huſband muſt be jealous, brutal, fond of gaming, keep a miſtreſs, laviſh all his fortune on ſharpers and lewd women—the wife pious, gentle, obedient and reſigned——
Be ſure you contrive a duel; and, if convenient, a ſuicide might not be amiſſ—lead your heroine through wonderful trials—let her have the fortitude of an anchorite, the patience of an angel—but in the end, ſend her firſt huſband to the other world, and unite her to the firſt poſſeſſor of her heart—— join a few other incidents; ſuch as the hiſtory of her boſom friend, and a confidant—Manage your 189 Q5r 189 plot in ſuch a manner as to have ſome ſurpriſing diſcovery made—wind up with two or three marriages, and the ſuperlative felicity of all the dramatis personae.
There, Sir, ſaid I, there you have the ſubſtance of a narrative which might be ſpun out to two or three volumes—there has been many novels introduced to the public built on as ſlender a foundation as that— The Modern Fine Gentleman, Deſerted Bride, Clara, and —
I have often been ſurpriſed, ſaid the author, taking the ſketch (for I had wrote it down) and giving me a bow of thanks—It has often ſurpriſed me, ſaid he, to find that all the diſtreſſes of a novel proceeds from a paſſion, which is, in general, ſuppoſed to contribute to our chief happineſs—All writers of that ſort of production, from the time of romance and enchanted tales, to the preſent tribe of ſcribblers, could find no other ſubject to employ their pens, but love—I wonder that the novel readers are not tired of reading one ſtory ſo many times, with only the variation of its being told different ways.
When I firſt commenced Author, continued he, I wrote on religion and philoſophy; but I found in the firſt I could gain no reputation, unleſs I wrote in the enthuſiaſtic ſtyle of a Methodiſt; 190 Q5r 190 and the latter was too obtruſe a ſtudy for the young and gay, required too much time for the old, and was totally improper for the ignorant and illiterate.—My books would not ſell—I had frequently applied to a perſon eminent for his numerous publications. He told me if I wiſhed to get a living, I muſt write to amuſe rather than inſtruct the world; and that If I would write him a good novel in two volumes, he would give me ten guineas for it.
He thought, no doubt, ten guineas was a very large ſum to be put into the hands of a poor author: to deal candidly, I ſhould have been very glad at that time, of a fifth part of the ſum— but, to proceed—I was not at all converſant in that ſort of reading; but finding it abſolutely neceſſary, I borrowed ſome of the beſt eſteemed modern novels from a library, and began to peruſe them with great attention, but there was a ſameneſs in the generality of them that diſguſted, and a looſeneſs in the language of others that ſhocked me.
It is indeed ſhocking, ſaid I, to ſee ſo many reams of paper expended in uſhering to the world pernicious pages, which tend to vitiate the taſte and corrupt the heart. When the heroine of a novel is repreſented as flying in the face of filial duty, eloping, running into the very lap of danger, braving the authority of her parents, and forgetting the decorum and delicacy which ought to be the characteriſtic of the female ſex, and yet, in the end 191 Q6r 191 meets with every bleſſing, every comfort, ſhe can wiſh; is it not enough to ruin the weak head and unwary heart, by leading them to think true felicity is to be found by following the bent of their own inclinations, though never ſo wayward and oppoſite to the advice of their friends or the dictates of reaſon?
Nor can I think that the more modern productions contain a better moral, ſince the whole merit of the filial obedience is cancelled by the retaining an affection for one man after they have vowed eternal fidelity to another.
I would wiſh the authors of thoſe works to reflect, that it is the inclinations of the heart that renders us guilty, as much as the actual commisſion of a crime; and a woman who ſtrays from her huſband only in wiſhes and thoughts, is, in reality, as culpable as ſhe who actually wounds his honor.
I have very nice notions of conjugal fidelity and filial duty, and earneſtly wiſh that no writings might ever be made public which tend to injure either: they are the foundation on which we may always raiſe the temple of happineſs; they are a crown of glory for the head, a cordial and comforter even to the ſorrow—wounded heart.
Theſe virtues are the brighteſt ornaments the female ſex can wear, they make the plaineſt woman lovely; and, when diſplayed in an eminent degree, elevate the human ſoul, and make it little inferior to angels.
The Fair Maniac.
I was proceeding in this manner, when a lovely young creature darted out of a little cottage, as we were paſſing, and ſeized me by the arm, eagerly deſired I would convey her back to her friends.
They ſay I am mad: ſaid ſhe; but I am not, I have my reaſon as well as they have; I know I am miſerable, and have been ſo ever ſince they took my brother from me.—Oh! cruel to tear him from my arms, to break my very heart ſtrings, and ſend him away, never, never to return—he went on the treacherous ocean—Yes, yes, the ſea, the ſky, all, all combined with my inhuman guardian to take him from me—hark! hark! do you not hear the wind?—See the blue lightning—the raging waves—the thunder—I hear it—I ſee the veſſel beat the foaming ſea—I ſee my brother—ſee him wave his hand—I cannot come——I cannot ſave thee—the veſſel parts—ſhe ſinks——he’s gone, he’s gone—Oh! mercileſs.——
Alas my drooping lily, ſaid I, you ſee nothing; there is no ſea near you; this is merely the effect of fancy; your brother, no doubt, is ſafe, and will one day return to make you happy.
Oh no! ſaid ſhe, croſſing her hands upon her boſom, and ſitting down upon the ground.——Oh no! he will never return to me; he will never 193 R1r 193 more ſooth and cheer his unhappy ſiſter—but here will I ſit on this lone bank, and mourn the heavy hour in which he left me—I’ll build a tomb of ſea ſhells, weeds, and corals—I’ll plant around it pale primroſes and ſickly daffodils, and every day I’ll waſh it with my tears, and count the hours, and chide dull, lagging Time, till his ſharp ſcythe ſhall cut life’s fine drawn thread, and I may lay me down and ſleep with my dear Horace——
Horace! ſaid I, looking more intently at her —It was poor Julietta—then Vellum was a villain.
At the name of Vellum, ſhe ſtarted from the ground, appeared terrified, looked wildly round her, and uttering a feint exclamation, ran haſtily into the cottage.
I bade the author a good night, and followed her —but an old woman, who I found was her only attendant, could give me no information concerning her; only that ſhe had loſt her ſenſes ever ſince the death of her brother, who was ſhipwrecked as he was going abroad to finiſh his education, and that ſhe had been ſent into the country, in hopes that the air would be of ſervice to her.
I found my heart ſo deeply engaged by the miſerable ſituation of this lovely orphan, that it was with difficulty I reſtrained my tears when I preſſed her cold hand and bade her good night.
Though it was near three years ſince I had been a witneſs to the ſorrow of Julietta, on the death of her father, yet the ſcene ſtill remained freſh in my memory—I remembered the doubts I then entertained of Vellum’s integrity, and was determined immediately to return to town, and ſearch into the myſtery of Horace’s death, and the ſhocking privation of Julietta’s ſenſes.
When I have once formed a reſolution, I am not long in putting it in execution.
The morning after my arrival in town, I determined to pay Mr. Vellum an inviſible viſit.
As I was proceeding through a very public ſtreet, I ſaw a ſervant, in livery, feeding a fine dog with bits of roaſt meat, which appeared perfectly freſh and good.—A poor woman, whoſe tattered garb ſpoke extremity of poverty, whoſe emaciated frame ſeemed tottering on the verge of eternity, and whoſe head was ſprinkled over with hoary froſt, approached the man, and in the humbleſt manner entreated him to let her pick up a little of the victuals which he had thrown to the animal—only one bit, Sir, ſaid ſhe, to ſave me from ſtarving—The ſervant was ſilent—ſhe took it for conſent, and bent forward to pick up what the dog ſeemed to refuſe.
The ſervant, who, unmoved, had heard her requeſt, no ſooner ſaw her attempt to gather up the 195 R2r 195 broken ſcraps, than he ſtepped eagerly to her, ſnatched them from her, and with ſacrilegious hand ſtruck the wretched mortal, whose ſex, age, and poverty, ſhould have kept her ſacred from inſult.
Good Heavens! ſaid I, that a man ſhould ſo far forget himſelf.—What! muſt the brute creation enjoy eaſe and plenty, while an unhappy human being wanders through the ſtreets periſhing with hunger?—and what muſt this poor woman ſuffer, at ſeeing herſelf denied the fragments that are rejected by a brute? for the dog had absolutely left a large part of the food that had been given him.
Who does that dog belong to? ſaid I to the ſervant.
Lord M——, ſaid he.
Lord M——, ſaid I, at that inſtant recollecting the unhappy cottagers—then why not pay Lord M—— a visit now, as well as at any other time; it will only defer my intended enquiry at Mr. Vellum’s a few hours longer.
It was no ſooner thought on than determined; and having inquired of the ſervant in which houſe his Lordſhip reſided, I put on my ring, aſcended the ſteps, and patiently waited the opening of the door.
The People of Fashion.
I choſe to make this viſit inviſible, that I might be the better able to judge of the ſentiments and diſpoſition of his Lordſhip.
Having got admittance into the houſe, unperceived, I followed a ſervant who was going up ſtairs with the breakfaſt apparatus, though it was then one o’clock.
On entering the room, I ſaw a woman in an elegant diſhabille, lolling on a ſopha, and turning over an enormous heap of complimentary cards—She was between forty and fifty—was finely formed, and had once been handſome, if one might judge from a regular ſet of features; but at preſent her ſkin was ſhriveled and yellow, her eyes ſunk and languid.
Thomas, ſaid ſhe to the ſervant, is my Lord ſtirring?
Yes, my Lady.
Go with my compliments, and I ſhould be glad of his company to breakfaſt.
In a few moments my Lord entered, threw himſelf into an eaſy chair, yawned, and drawled out the compliments of the morning.
Where were you, my Lord, laſt night? I was quite ſurpriſed at not ſeeing you at Lady Blackace’s —all the world was there.
It is quite a bore, my Lady, to ſee a man and his wife at the ſame place.197 R3r 197
Very true, my Lord; but had your Lordſhip appeared, I ſhould certainly have been ſo polite as to have made my exit.—A propos, my Lord—I wonder what has become of that fond fool, Charles Howard, and how he and Isabella like matrimony with the ſour ſauce of poverty—Good God! continued ſhe, I wonder how any body can think of ſwallowing that bitter pill without having it ſufficiently gilded over.
A ſervant entered, and anounced Mr. Howard.
Mr. Howard! cried my Lady, ſtaring up with aſtoniſhment, ſurely you miſtake; my brother has been dead above theſe ſeven years; and Charles cannot think of coming.
The gentleman certainly ſent up the name of Howard, ſaid the ſervant.
He was bid to ſhew him up.
An elegant, elderly gentleman ſoon entered the room, dreſſed in the military habit—he paid his reſpects politely to my Lord—advanced to the Lady with a look of tenderneſs, and embraced her.
You are, no doubt, ſurprised to ſee me, ſiſter, ſaid he, after having ſuppoſed me dead ſo many years; but your ſurpriſe will be converted into joy when I inform you during the laſt ſeven years of R2 198 R3v 198 my abſence I have accumulated a large fortune, and am now come to reclaim my ſon, and return the kindneſs and generoſity with which you ſtepped forward, and offered him your favour and protection during the time when my duty forced me to be abſent from my native country—You, my dear Lord and Lady M——, took my poor boy when he had no inheritance but poverty.
During the time the old gentleman was delivering theſe words Lady M—’s countenance underwent ſeveral changes, and at laſt ſettled in a deadly pale —the fond father inſtantly ſaw the change, and aſked in a voice ſcarcely audible, whether his child was dead?
No, Captain Howard, ſaid my Lord, he is not dead, but he has behaved ſo ill of late, that he has entirely forfeited my favour; he has voluntarily abſented himſelf from my houſe; and to confeſs the truth, I have not ſeen him theſe ſix years, nor do I know where he is.
And what has he done? aſked the diſtracted father.
He has behaved like a poor, mean ſpirited wretch, ſaid my Lady—he has degraded the family mby marrying a low, vulgar creature, in direct oppoſition to the advice, nay abſolute commands, of my Lord and myſelf.
Upon my honor, Mr. Howard, ſaid my Lord, I had contracted ſuch an eſteem for the lad, that I had poſitively determined to adopt him; but on 199 R4r 199 his abſolutely perſiſting in his deſign of marrying the low creature my Lady mentions, I forbid him my houſe;—I had no intention to adopt a beggar’s brat.
The converſation was now interrupted by a ſervant, who informed my Lady there was company in the drawing room—ſhe begged leave of her brother to go and receive them; and my Lord, having rung for his valet, retired to adjuſt his dreſs.
Captain Howard had been abruptly informed that his ſon had forfeited his uncle’s favour; had been informed of it in a manner inconſiderate and unfeeling, and then left to himſelf to reflect at leiſure on his miſfortune.
He ſat with one hand reſting on the breakfaſt table, and the other in his boſom, his brow contracted, and his eyes fixed on the floor—there was ſuch a dignity in his perſon, and yet ſuch an apparent concern upon his countenance, that my affections were drawn towards him by an irreſiſtible impulſe —I longed to call him brother and friend—my heart was wrung with ſenſibility.
And what avails it, ſaid I, that this man has accumulated a large fortune?—of what benefit is wealth to him?—he had looked upon his ſon as his greateſt treaſure—for theſe many years has his delighted200 R4v 200 lighted imagination drawn a moſt perfect picture of felicity in the idea of beholding this beloved ſon, and ſeeing him enjoying the favour of his uncle, and perhaps wedded to ſome amiable woman, who, to the gifts of birth and fortune, added the gifts of nature, whoſe beauty created love, and her virtue eſteem.
Behold him now in one moment bereaved of this darling hope, his heart aching with paternal love and fear—oh! would children but reflect how greatly the happineſs of a parent depends on their well doing; could they have the leaſt idea of the mighty pangs which tear the parental boſom when they ſtray from their duty, they would ſurely avoid every action which might tend to diſturb the peace or wound the minds of their parents; for ſure I am, that not the ſharpeſt torture enthuſiaſtic zeal could invent, can equal the torments that rend the heart of a fondly-doating diſappointed parent.
My meditations were interrupted by a decent, elderly woman, who opened the door, and, advancing to Captain Howard, welcomed him cordially to England.
My good Mrs. Watſon, ſaid he, taking her by her hand. cCan you tell me where Charles is, and to whom he has united himſelf ſo contrary to the deſire of his uncle and aunt?
It was for that purpoſe, ſaid Mrs. Watſon, that I took the liberty of coming into the room to ſpeak to you—but this room, Sir, is not a proper place to converſe in; I muſt beg you to come into my 201 R5r 201 apartment, and I will then inform you of ſome circumſtances which will fill you with aſtoniſhment.
I felt a curioſity which I could not withſtand, and, anxious for the fate of Charles, I followed Captain Howard and Mrs. Watſon into another apartment. Mrs. Watſon I found was Lady M—’s houſekeeper, and had formerly lived in that capacity with her Ladyſhip’s mother——When Captain Howard was ſeated, ſhe related the following circumſtances:
You know, Sir, ſaid ſhe, juſt before you left England, my Lady, at my Lord’s requeſt, had taken Miſs Iſabella Beauchamp to be her companion —you had not been gone many years before Mr. Beauchamp died inſolvent, and the poor young Lady had no dependence but on my Lord, who was a diſtant relation of her father’s. From the time of Mr. Beauchamp’s death, Lady M— altered in her behaviour to Miſs Bella; treated her often with diſreſpect; and in general, with cold contempt— My Lord, on the contrary, behaved with the greateſt politeneſs, aſſiduity, and attention; made her elegant preſents, inſiſted on her joining all parties, public or private, in which Lady M— was included——young Mr. Howard ſhewed the attention of a brother; and, I muſt own, this conduct raiſed both the gentlemen highly in my opinion . It was with great concern that I noticed a ſettled melancholy on Miſs Bella’s countenance, and often would ſhe retire from a crowded aſſembly to her own apartment and give a looſe to her tears—ſhe 202 R5v 202 had always conducted herſelf in ſuch a manner as to gain the love of all the domeſtics, and ſhe had favoured me with many ſingular marks of friendſhip——I therefore took the liberty one day to enquire into the cauſe of her melancholy; when burſting into a flood of grief, ſhe cried, oh! Mrs. Watſon, what will become of me? Lord M— purſues me with a criminal paſſion—I cannot ſtay in this family to be ſubject to his inſults; and if I leave it, how ſhall I guard myſelf from the ſnares and inſults of the unfeeling part of mankind, who know not how to pity poverty? or how ſhall I provided for the neceſſaries of life? I endeavoured all in my power to conſole her, and told her I would certainly look out for ſome reputable family where ſhe might be boarded on moderate terms, and that I would adviſe her to ſell a few of her jewels to provide for the preſent, and truſt in providence that her future life may be more fortunate—ſhe gave me a pair of diamond earings; which were her mother’s, to diſpose of; but as I was returning to my own apartment I met Mr. Howard, and knowing he was always plentifully ſupplied with money by his aunt, I determined to make him acquainted with Miſs Bella’s ſituation, and engage him to aſſist her—but judge my ſurpriſe, when I had informed him of my Lord’s deſigns, to hear him fly into a violent rage, and ſwear ſhe ſhould not ſtay another hour in the houſe, called her his wife, his adored Bella, and was hastening to her apartment, when he was ſtopped by his aunt, who had overheard our converſation, and peremptorily demanded whether he had been ſo 203 R6r 203 mean ſpirited as to marry Miſs Beauchamp? —he anſwered with warmth, he was not married to her; but ſince there was no other way to ſhield her from the contempt of pride and the inſults of libertiniſm, he would marry her the next morning.
Lady M— was greatly irritated, and ſent a mesſage to Miſs Beauchamp, commanding her to quit her houſe inſtantly—Charles followed the poor diſtreſſed girl; and before my Lord returned, who was then in the country, prevailed on her to give him a lawful right to protect her.
However ill Miſs Beauchamp had been treated, Mr. Howard thought it was his duty to viſit his uncle, and ſue for his pardon, for the precipitate ſtep he had taken.
They made their appearance the morning after my Lord come to town—It is unneceſſary, and would only be ſhocking your feelings, to give you an account of the reception they met with; ſuffice it to ſay, they were ſpurned by the haughty pair, and turned with indignity out of the houſe. Lord M— ſwearing by all that was holy he would not give them a ſingle farthing to keep them from ſtarving—they left the houſe, and I never heard where they were till laſt ſummer, when I accidentally found them in a mean cottage, which they rented of Lord M—’s ſteward—they went by an aſſumed name, and Mrs. Howard having bred very faſt, and being very weakly, they were reduced to the moſt abject ſtate of penury.
Then theſe are my poor cottagers, ſaid I.204 R6v 204
—Mr. Howard, when he had heard the concluſion of her relation, aroſe from his ſeat and looking at once joy and indignation, ſwore he would never reſt till he had found his dear injured Charles.
I will find him, ſaid he; and his lovely Isabella ſhall be rewarded for all her love and patient ſufferings—he gave the houſekeeper ſomething by way of gratuity, and immediately departed—when I, having no farther buſineſs there; followed his example.
It has often ſurpriſed me to find that people who have, with unbounded generoſity, educated, cloathed, and foſtered an infant in childhood, indulging it to an extravagant degree, never ſuffering it to be contradicted, but bringing it up in eaſe and luxury, ſhall, when that infant arrives at years of maturity, when it has attained ſenſe and reaſon ſufficient to enable it to judge what will moſt conduce to its own happineſs, for the moſt trifling miſdemeanor, nay, for only daring to think contrary to its benefactors, or preſuming to chooſe a companion for itſelf, ſpurn from them, with indignity, the object they once cheriſhed, and drive it out, defenceleſs, to brave thoſe ſtorms of adverſity, which the education they have beſtowed on it renders it totally unable to combat with—It has often puzzled me to determine whether ſuch people 205 S1r 205 have ever been actuated by true generoſity. Pure philanthropy will lead us rather to ſtudy the happineſs of a human being, when it is capable of receiving real ſatiſfaction from our kindneſs. ſo far from evincing our affection to children by unlimited indulgencies, we are acting with cruelty toward them, ſince we are laying up a fund of diſcontent and uneaſineſs for hereafter. How hard is it for thoſe darlings of families, whoſe every deſire has been complied with, who never wiſhed for a toy or bauble, but it was procured, though at the moſt exorbitant price, who was always fed with the greateſt dainties, to find, when arrived at maturity, that they are journeying through a world, where they will unavoidably meet with diſappointments, vexation and trouble—for my part, I would never indulge my children in a wiſh which I thought might tend hereafter to render them unhappy; I would teach them to confine their deſires within the bounds of moderation, not by moroſely oppoſing all their little fancies, but by inſenſibly drawing off their attention to any other objects.
As they advanced in years, I would, by example, teach them that forbearance and ſelf-denial, which precept alone will ever fail to effect. If they have affluence, let them enjoy every reaſonable wiſh of their hearts; and no one need inquire what is to be done with the overplus.
Oh! ye ſons and daughters of proſperity, look around you; ſee, in yon little manſion lies a mother;S 206 S1v 206 ther; a few hours ſince made her the parent of her ſeventh child; ſhe is in a ſituation, of all others the moſt deſerving pity; ſhe has ſcarcely the means to ſupport life; ſhe is on a bed of pain and weakneſs; pain, my lovely countrywomen, from which none of you are exempt, and which, no doubt, you think almost inſufferable, though you are ſurrounded with all the comforts and bleſſings of life—that poor woman has no comfort—her huſband is at ſea, labouring, watching, toiling, for a ſmall pittance, which he hopes to bring home to his wife and children—ſhe has anguiſh of mind added to the ſickneſs of her frame—have you no trifle to ſpare, Madam, which might, in ſome meaſure, alleviate that poor creature’s ſufferings? Two or three of thoſe guineas will never be miſſed by you, and they will be a treaſure to her.—You cannot ſpare them—You had rather lay them out in a hobby horſe for maſter, or a wax baby for miſs—if the dear creatures are diſappointed, they will fret and ſpoil their pretty faces with crying; and what mother can refuſe her little darlings any thing they aſk for?
Oh! ſhame on thee, woman; thou haſt not one ſpark of genuine maternal tenderneſs in thy composition, or thou wouldeſt prefer eaſing the pangs of a wretched mother, whoſe heart is pierced by the cries of her children wanting bread, rather than by gratifying the caprice of thy own children —lead them to ſet no farther value on the wealth which Providence has entruſted to their care, than 207 S2r 207 as it may ſerve to purchaſe pleaſure, diſſipation, and folly.
Your wealth was certainly given you to purchaſe pleaſure, but pleaſures far, very far different from thoſe you are ſo eager in the purſuit of—Go wipe the tear from the eye of affliction; cloathe the poor naked wretch who, nightly unhouſed, in ſome ſad lonely place, braves ſtorms and tempeſts, heats and pinching cold—go releaſe the unfortunate tradeſman, who, through the inattention, folly, or villainy of others, has loſt his property, and now ſighs out his long, long hours in a priſon—Go ſeek the wretched mortals, who, by dire miſfortune reduced, oppreſſed by the iron hand of affliction, ſit ſtarving in obſcurity, and, rather than aſk the cruel world for aſſiſtance, or blazon forth their heart-felt ſorrows, would ſink to the ſilent grave, victims to famine in the land of plenty.
I know, Madam, you will ſay I am very dull, that I have given you the vapours, that theſe are phantoms of my own creating—would to Heaven they were! but alas! theſe things have I ſeen, and my heart has bled that I had not power to relieve them.
Oh! I could tell ſuch tales of woe, drag forth ſuch vile ingratitude to light, that human nature would diſclaim the being who could practiſe it.
Do you ſee that beautiful woman in that ſplendid equipage, ſurrounded by a train of ſervants? ’tis the thoughtleſs, ungrateful Amelia.
Behold that poor old woman, who toils through the dirt, unattended by any but her two lovely daughters, ſweet as opening flowers, and innocent as new-born infants; ſee on her venerable countenance, what grief and deſpondency is imprinted! ſee the big tears roll down her furrowed cheeks! ſee ſhe enters an obſcure apartment, and a ſcanty meal is divided between her children and herſelf.
She looks at them by turns, with ſuch maternal tenderneſs, ſuch anguiſh of heart, that ſhe ſeems to ſay, what will become of you, my ſweet children; how will you paſs through life, when I am gone?
That poor old woman was Amelia’s benefactreſs—but it is fit that I ſhould tell my tale methodically.
Amelia was the daughter of a gentleman of ſmall fortune, who, beſides her, had nine other children: Mrs. Ellwin was a diſtant relation of the family; ſhe was the wife of an opulent merchant, and their habitation was the habitation of philanthropy.
Amelia had received a tolerable education—ſhe was pretty in her perſon, cheerful in her diſpoſition,209 S3r 209 ſition, and had a good ſhare of underſtanding; with theſe accompliſhments, Mrs. Ellwin thought it would be a pity for Amelia to be buried in obſcurity; ſhe gave her an invitation to her houſe, cloathed her genteelly, and introduced her into ſuch company as ſhe thought would be moſt conducive to her future advancement in life. It was not long before Amelia’s charms made a conqueſt of a gentleman of large fortune—he loved her; and her virtues were ſo kindly brought forward by Mrs. Ellwin, and her little faults buried in oblivion, that he overlooked her want of fortune, made her his wife, and ſettled upon her five hundred pounds per annum jointure. Amelia had not long enjoyed this advancement, before Mr. Ellwin, having placed too great a dependence on the honor of a friend, loſt a large ſum of money; of conſequence his payments were not punctual, and he became a bankrupt.
He ſtruggled for ſome time againſt his adverſe fate, but at length died of a broken heart, and left his wife and lovely daughters no inheritance but poverty.
About this time, Amelia became a widow:— but Amelia was now a fine lady—ſhe had no time to ſpend with poor relations, no money to ſpare to relieve the diſtreſſes of Mrs. Ellwin; though her wedding cloaths were purchaſed by that generous friend, and coſt near five hundred pounds, and that ſum had never been repaid.S2 210 S3v 210
Amelia is now juſt married again, and flying about in all the gaiety of heart which wealth and ſplendour can inſpire in a giddy mortal; while poor Mrs. Ellwin is ſinking under a load of anguiſh, unpitied and unthought of. Her once blooming, amiable daughters drooping like froſt-nipped bloſſoms, and neither Friendſhip, Humanity, nor Gratitude will reach forth a hand to cheer, revive, or ſave them.
But I am wandering from my intended route.
As I approached Mr. Vellum’s houſe, an hearſe and ſix mourning coaches drove from the door.
Perhaps, ſaid I, the guardian is gone to give an account of his guardianſhip—and a very black account I fear it will be—however I will go in; perhaps I may learn ſomething concerning the death of Horace, or gain ſome intelligence which may be ſerviceable to the hapleſs Julietta.
I put on my ring, and a ſervant opening the door ſoon afterwards, I entered unperceived.
I went into ſeveral rooms before I found any body likely to give me any ſatiſfaction by their converſation. At length I entered a chamber, where, on an embroidered ſopha, lay Mr. Vellum, ſurrounded by magnificence——but, good Heavens! 211 S4r 211 how changed from the man he once was—his face was ghaſtly pale, his eyes ſunk, yet their motion was ſo quick and fiery, that they gave him the appearance of a fiend rather than an human being.
Oppoſite to him, in a penſive poſture, ſat a young woman in a deep mourning habit; her face was partly concealed with her handkerchief, but the part that appeared bore ſuch evident marks of ſorrow, that a ſavage muſt have felt his heart moved with pity at the ſight.
He is gone, gone for ever, cried Vellum, ſtarting from the ſopha, and catching hold of the young lady’s hand—he is gone, Heſter, and you know not half the anguiſh of my ſoul.
My dear father, ſaid ſhe, why will you give way to unavailing ſorrow? the kind power who lent him to you, has but recalled his own—it is the lot of mortality—then why, my father, why will you offend your Creator by repining at his divine will?
O, Heſter, you do not know the dreadful circumſtances of your brother’s death——alas! my child, he ruſhed unbidden into the preſence of his Maker, with multitudes of unrepented crimes upon his head.
Did he deſtroy himself? cried Hester, the look of woe changing into that of inexpreſſible horror.—Oh! what could tempt him to the dreadful deed?212 S4v 212
Heſter, my beloved daughter, I was his murderer, I was the cauſe of the horrid act.
Forbid it, gracious God, ſhe cried, claſping her hands, and ſinking upon her knees—Oh! my father, recall thoſe ſhocking words; you was not, could not be, ſo inhuman.
Heſter, ſaid he, with a look of horrid firmneſs, I will unfold to you a tale, which it is proper you ſhould know; I may not long continue with you. —I have been guilty of deeds, which will make your tender heart ſhudder to acknowledge me as a parent—Oh! curſed avarice, it was that which led me to ſtain my ſoul with murder, and to ruin my child, my darling ſon.—For him and for thee, I would have gained an empire, though I had waded to it through oceans of human blood: but to lead him by vile perſuaſions to agree to and execute the accurſed plot, and plunge himſelf, for ſordid ore, to the loweſt abyſs of hell.—Oh! it is more than I can bear to think of—my ſoul is at this moment ſuffering all the tortures of the damned—ſcorpions, flames, and furies hang about me—Horace, dear murdered youth, well may you ſmile to ſee my tortures.
Was Horace murdered! Oh! inhuman wretch, cried Heſter—then where is my ſweet Julietta? have you murdered her too?
I hope ſhe ſtill lives, ſaid Vellum; and may your gentle friendſhip recall her wandering reaſon, for my cruelty has bereaved her of her ſenſes; and if ſhe is alive, ſhe is a poor, diſtreſſed lunatic.213 S5r 213
Gracious Heaven! cried Heſter, burſting into a flood of tears, and leaning her head upon the elbow of the ſopha.
The lovely girl, continued her father, is in a miſerable cottage, on one of her own eſtates, in Wiltſhire, where I have employed an old woman to watch her, and, by harſh treatment, prevent her returning to reaſon.
As to Horace he is no more—When I ſent him abroad, as I ſaid, for education, your brother went with him—we laid the ſhocking plot before the vesſel failed; and one night as they were walking the deck together, your brother puſhed Horace into the ſea—the veſſel was failing before the wind, and he was lost in a moment.
You, my dear Hester, I knew would be an obſtacle to theſe helliſh ſchemes, and for that reaſon I ſent you to France.—About three weeks ſince your brother had a thouſand pounds of me; and in a few days after, applied for more; it was then I diſcovered he had a propenſity for gaming—I remonſtrated with him on the folly of ſuch a purſuit, and refuſed him a ſupply—high words enſued—he accuſed me of being a murderer; of drawing him into participate the crime, and then refuſing him a participation of the wealth I had by that means gained.—It is impoſſible for you to conceive the terrors that ſeized my mind during this converſation; I actually formed the reſolution of giving this darling of my ſoul into the hands of juſtice, and thereby ſaving my own wretched life—but before 214 S5v 214 I could execute my intention, I was alarmed by the diſcharge of a piſtol—I ran to your brother’s room, and ſaw him weltering in his blood, a piſtol clenched in his hand.
Go, leave me, ſaid he, as I approached him; add not, by thy hateful preſence, to the horror of this moment—I thought, by dying, to ſhut out life and miſery together, to fly from the terrors of a reproaching conſcience; but, alas! my miſeries are but juſt beginning.
Oh! thou deteſted, wretched old man, continued he, drawing me forcibly towards him, thou art ignorant what a taſk thou haſt yet to perform: Go, loſe not a moment, but uſe every method to reſtore that injured angel Julietta to her ſenſes—give her back her fortune—and do thou retire to ſome deſert—faſt, pray, and lay upon the cold ground—— years and years ſpent in ſupplication will hardly gain that pardon you ſo much need.—There is! there is! an hereafter—I feel it now ruſh on my guilty ſoul.—You do not know how hard it is to die, to plunge at once into eternity.—Oh! murder, murder cannot be forgiven.
At that inſtant he expired with a groan, ſo hollow, that it ſtill vibrates in my ears.
I hear thee, Oh! thou guilty ſhade—I will obey thee.
Heſter, continued Vellum, I have ſent for you home, that you may adminiſter comfort to Julietta —here, take this paper, and go prepare for your journey; when you are ſeperated from me, open 215 S6r 215 it; you will there find full inſtructions how to act —leave me, my child; I am now more compoſed, I may perhaps take ſome rest.
Heſter gladly retired. I ſaw from the agitation of her features, though ſhe could not but pity the diſtreſſes of her father’s mind, it was impoſſible for her any longer to love him.
That talk is over, ſaid Vellum, as ſhe ſhut the door—now, what remains?—to pray for pardon.— Pardon for what?—Murder. Ah! that is not all; my ſoul is loaded with crimes.—Fraud, perjury, oppreſſion, are in the horrid catalogue!——the widows, the fatherleſs children whom I have oppresſed, will riſe up in judgment againſt me.—Mercy —Oh! mercy juſt God!——but wretch that I am, did I ever ſhew mercy—will that juſt Creator then ſhew mercy to me?—No—for I muſt appear at a tribunal where every one will be rewarded according to his works.
Oh that I was annihilated!—that I had never lived—for the diſtraction of my mind is too mighty to be borne——I will not bear it——I will end my tortures—my life is in my own power; and it is but to plunge at once into evils which cannot be more dreadful than this conſtant terror.—This is the inſtrument, ſaid he, taking a piſtol from his pocket.
I ſtepped forward, in order to prevent his fatal intention.216 S6v 216
It ſhall be done quick, ſaid he——I will not languiſh——
I caught hold of his arm; but it was too late; he had pointed the piſtol to his temple—it went off, and he plunged in one moment into a dreadful eternity.
Oh! ſave him! ſave him! cried Heſter, burſting into the room; he is not fit to die.
When ſhe ſaw the ſhocking cataſtrophe, ſhe uttered a ſcream of terror, and ſunk down upon the floor—the ſervants entered, and all was in an inſtant a ſcene of confuſion.
I thought I could gain no farther intelligence— and my ſpirits being greatly depreſſed by the occurrences of the day, I departed, determining in a few days to pay the gentle, unfortunate Heſter another viſit.
I wiſh to go to Mrs. Melbourne’s aſſembly, next week, if agreeable to you, my dear, ſaid a woman, who was walking through the park with a man whoſe appearance ſpoke him the gentleman.
She was a pretty-looking perſon; her countenance was open and engaging, and there was a mild air of tender melancholy diffuſed over it.
She led by the hand a beautiful girl, about four or five years old; and a ſmiling boy, ſeemingly a 217 T1r 217 year or two older, was ſkipping, with ſteps as light as his own innocent heart, before them—that man, ſaid I, muſt ſurely be happy.
I examined his countenance with a ſcrutinizing eye, and methought I read in it indifference and inattention; nay, he even ſeemed uneaſy in the company of his wife and lovely children.
—I ſhould like to go to Mrs. Melbourne’s aſſembly. ſaid ſhe, putting her hands under his arm, and giving him a look of tenderneſs—it was a look I know not well how to deſcribe; it was a mixture of affection and gentle ſolicitude; it was that kind of look my Emma ever aſſumes when ſhe has any little favour to aſk, and it always carries with it ſuch perſuaſive eloquence, that for my ſoul I could not refuſe, though ſhe were to requeſt the half of my fortune.
You want new cloaths too, I ſuppoſe, ſaid he, rather ſurlily.
I thought you might make it convenient to let me have my half-years ſtipend, ſaid ſhe, mildly; and you know, my dear, I never exceed it.
Very well, Madam, I hear enough of your œconomy, ſaid he, withdrawing his arm in anger; but I tell you I have no money for myſelf, and therefore cannot let you have any.—I do not ſee why you ſhould go to Mrs. Melbourne’s; you may find employment and amuſement too in nurſing your brats; home is the fitteſt place for women.T 218 T1v 218
I will not go, Mr. Selby, if you deſire I ſhould not.
There now, make a merit of ſtaying at home to oblige me, when you cannot go, becauſe I will not give you money to laviſh in finery. The education of your children coſts me ſo much, that I intend, for the future, to reduce your allowance to half what it uſed to be.
Very well, my dear, you are the beſt judge of what you can afford; I ſhall always have your intereſt too much at heart to repine at being deprived of a few ſuperfluities, which I can eaſily do without.
By this time, they were arrived at Spring Gardens, where an handſome chariot was waiting.
I am engaged out this evening, ſaid he, handing her into the carriage.
Shall I ſee you at ſupper? ſaid ſhe, again aſſuming the look of ſolicitude; but it was far more anxious than the former.
No——perhaps I ſhall not return all night, ſaid he, and immediately left her without even the common form of civility.
Drive on, ſaid ſhe to the coachman; and as the carriage moved, I ſaw her apply her handkerchief to her eyes.
Poor woman! ſaid I; at that inſtant feeling the drop of pity ſtart into my own.—Poor woman! thou art ſurrounded with wealth, have a number of 219 T2r 219 ſervants, and, no doubt, for theſe advantages, are the object of envy in the eyes of many; but, alas! the poor cottager, whoſe manſion appears the habitation of poverty, who has juſt ſet by her wheel, and is feeding a number of cherry-cheeked, curly- pated, ragged children, whoſe huſband, returning from the labours of the field, accoſts her with words of kindneſs, kiſſes all his little prattlers round, and takes the youngeſt on his knee to ſhare his homely ſupper, that humble cottager is happier far than you.
Theſe reflections had paſſed with ſuch rapidity through my brain, that Mr. Selby was ſtill in ſight. —I will follow thee, ſaid I, and ſee what has had power to charm thee from ſo ſweet, ſo gentle a companion.
Having got my ring on, I quickened my pace, and ſoon overtook him.
He proceeded to May Fair; when knocking at the door of a large houſe, a ſervant in a ſhowy livery opened it; when, taking the advantage of my inviſibility, I entered, and followed him through a magnificent ſuit of rooms into a drawing room.
She was an elegant-formed woman, rather above the middle ſize; her features were regular, and her complexion would have been dazzling, had 220 T2v 220 it not been for an immoderate quanity of rouge, which ſhe had laid on her face, which, in reality, required no art to make it lovely; her eyes were dark, lively, and piercing; and her hair, which was bright as golden thread, hung in wanton ringlets round her face and neck; her dreſs was ſtudiedly negligent, being only a white muſlin robe, with ſmall ſilver ſprigs; it was faſtened round her ſlender waiſt with a velvet zone, ornamented with pearl; ſhe was ſeated by a table, on which ſat a little French dog, which ſhe was careſſing as we entered.
My charming Laſſonia, ſaid he, running to her with eagerneſs, how tedious have the hours paſſed that kept me from you!
No doubt they have, ſaid ſhe coldly, evading his offered embrace, when you have made it two hours later than you promiſed.
My deareſt love, I could not avoid it, ſaid he, buſineſs of importance——
Oh you are a very prudent man, ſaid ſhe, ſcornfully; by all means buſineſs ſhould be attended to before pleaſure; but it is very well, Mr. Selby, I have waited at home to hear your paltry excuſe for breaking your word; but I have made an engagement which I cannot poſſibly break; my chair is waiting:——
She aroſe to leave the room.
My angel, my dear Laſſonia, ſaid he, catching her hands, you ſurely do not mean to leave me; 221 T3r 221 hear me but one word; I ſhould have been here much ſooner, had I not overtaken my wife and children in the Park, and ſhe began teazing me for money.
And you gave it her? ſaid ſhe, with precipitation.
No, my charmer, I have not given it to her, I have reſerved it for you; there is not a wiſh my Laſſonia can form, but ſhall be immediately complied with—Emily had ſet her heart upon going to Mrs. Melbourne’s aſſembly; but I knew my adored girl intended to be there, and did not wiſh to meet her; ſo I have deſired her not to go.
And have you brought me your wife’s diamonds? ſaid ſhe.
No—but you ſhall have ſome more valuable than thoſe—we will go out now, and you ſhall chuſe them at any price you pleaſe.
What, I ſuppose, ſaid ſhe, with a look of contempt, your wife refuſed to part with them; and you, a poor, tame-ſpirited huſband, dared not contradict her; but I will have her jewels or none, ſo take your choice, Sir, either bring me the meek, dutiful Emily’s diamonds, or never ſee me more.
What a pity it is, ſaid I, as I ſtood contemplating this ſcene, what a pity ſo lovely a form ſhould conceal ſo vile a heart; that woman appearsT2 222 T3v 222 pears a maſterpiece of nature, and yet draw aſide that beauteous veil, and there is ſuch foul deformity within, that we ſhrink with horror and diſguſt from the very object which at firſt view filled us with admiration.
I am unwilling to refuſe you any thing, my ſweet girl, ſaid he; but indeed I do not know how to get the jewels; I have no plauſible pretext to aſk for them.
And is this your boaſted love? ſaid ſhe, this is the fidelity, the fervent paſſion you have ſo repeatedly ſworn? am I to be denied ſo trifling a gratification, becauſe you cannot bear a few tears from that proud minx your wife? have I not ſacrificed every thing for you? relinquiſhed reputation, honor, friends; and is this the return? this the gratitude I am to meet with? you would ſooner break my heart than comply with the ſmallest of my wiſhes.
During these reproaches, ſhe had vented her pasſion by tears.
Do not thus diſtreſs yourſelf, my deareſt creature, ſaid Selby; you cut me to the ſoul by your reproaches: come, dry up your tears, and tell me in what can I oblige you?
Go and bring me Emily’s diamonds this evening, ſaid ſhe.
I came to ſpend the night with you, my love, then do not ſend me from you; let us go out and purchaſe ſome other trinkets.223 T4r 223
I will have nothing but the diamonds! exclaimed ſhe, in an agony of paſſion; which remind me of Othello, in his jealous fury, raving for the fatal handkerchief.
At length the infatuated Selby, finding it was in vain to attempt to ſooth her, and being, as he ſaid; unable to live without her, actually promiſed to go home and fetch the jewels for which ſhe expreſſed ſuch a deſire.
I was determined to go with him, and haſtily ſtepping down ſtairs before him, ſtepped unperceived into a hackney coach which he had ſent for, and was waiting for him at the door—a ſhort time brought us to Gower ſtreet.
This is kind indeed, my love, ſaid Mrs. Selby, meeting him with a ſmile as he entered the parlour; I was afraid you would not have returned ſo ſoon.
Pſhaw, ſaid he, throwing himſelf into a chair; I do not ſuppoſe you will be ſo pleaſed when I tell you the buſineſs which brought me home.
If it is any thing which will make you uneaſy, my dear, ſaid ſhe, I ſhall certainly regret it; but if it only concerns myſelf, I ſhall regret nothing which gives me the extatic pleaſure of your company.224 T4v 224
You are a good girl, Emily, ſaid he, taking her hand—and methought at that inſtant he repented the taſk he had undertaken—but it was a momentary reflection.
I have occaſion for a large ſum of money, ſaid he, to make up a payment, and I have no poſſible means of raiſing it.
Good God! cried ſhe, turning pale with apprehenſion, are your circumſtances really ſo bad then?
Make no inquiries, ſaid he, but conſider if you can form any plan to relieve me.
How much do you want, my love?
About two thouſand pounds.
I dare ſay my father will lend you ſuch a trifle, rather than you ſhould be diſtreſſed.
So, Madam, ſaid he, you would adviſe me to apply to your father, and make my miſfortunes the talk of the town.——You ſay you love me, Emily.
Heaven knows I do moſt fervently.
Then to prove it, bring me the jewels, they will procure me the money I want.
You cannot raiſe ſo large a ſum without my mother’s alſo; and I ſhould not wiſh to part with them.
A very pretty declaration indeed, Madam; you value your mother’s memory more than your huſband’s peace of mind.225 T5r 225
Oh! do not ſay ſo harſh a word, ſaid ſhe, I will bring the jewels—had I the univerſe at my command, it would be of no value to me, when put in competition with your happineſs.
She left the room, and ſoon returned with the jewels.
Here they are, ſaid ſhe; would to Heaven every deſire which you form may be as eaſily obtained.
He looked them over.
Theſe are not all, ſaid he—— A bluſh of confuſion paſſed over the pale face of the trembling Emily.
I have indeed reſerved ſome, ſaid ſhe; but do not be angry, I cannot part with the firſt tokens of your love; I cannot part with your picture.
I muſt have all, ſaid he, impatiently.
The afflicted wife drew from her throbbing boſom a miniature picture ſet with diamonds, and a ſmall, but valuable locket, emblematical of love and peace; he took them from her—
Leave me the picture, ſaid ſhe—— take the diamonds, but, for pity’s ſake, take not that dear, first pledge of your love.—The picture will not enhance the value to any but me.
I cannot ſtay to take it out, ſaid he, putting the jewels in his pocket, and giving the poor, weeping Emily a ſlight kiſs; he ſnatched up 226 T5v 226 his hat, and inſtantly returned to the vile Laſſonia.
I had been too much diſguſted with that woman’s behaviour to entertain a thought of returning with him, therefore, taking off my ring when I left the houſe, I walked toward home.
Being at the play with a friend ſome months after, I obſerved Laſſonia in a box oppoſite to that in which I ſat, adorned with the very jewels which Selby had obtained from his affectionate wife.
Who that ſees that woman, ſaid I to my friend, but would think her the lovelieſt work of creation?
I have been admiring her for ſome time, ſaid he; can you give me any information concerning her? I have ſeen her once before, and am quite captivated with her beauty; if her mind is equal to her perſon, I could freely devote my life to ſuch a woman.
There is no more compariſon between her mind and her form, ſaid an old gentleman in a black coat and a ſnug round wig, who ſat juſt behind us—— there is no more compariſon between them, ſaid he, than there is between an angel of Light and a demon of Hell.227 T6r 227
Do you know her, Sir, ſaid my friend, turning haſtily round.
I do, young man, ſaid he; and to guard you from the effects of her pernicious charms, if you will ſup with me after the play, I will tell you a tale that ſhall make you hate her.
When the play was over, we adjourned to a tavern, and after ſupper our new friend gave us the hiſtory of Laſſonia.
Miſs Freeman and Miſs Eldridge, ſaid he, were the daughters of two opulent tradeſmen; their fathers were united in the cloſeſt bonds of amity. Emily Freeman and Laſſonia Eldridge were playmates in infancy, educated at the ſame ſchool, and contracted for each other the affection of ſiſter.— Emily had juſt entered her ſixteenth year, when ſhe was called from ſchool to attend an excellent mother, who was haſtily advancing to that bourne from whence no traveller returns. Laſſonia would not be ſeparated from her friend on this trying occaſion, and Mrs. Freeman ſoon after paying the debt of nature, ſhe was retained by Mr. Freeman, as a companion, whoſe vivacity would prevent Emily from too frequently muſing on her recent loſs.
Mr. Selby became acquainted with the lovely friends before Emily had attained her eighteenth year—her ſenſe and penetration charmed him; and her perſon, having then all the attractions of blooming youth, he declared himſelf her lover —he frequently laughed and romped with Lasſonia228 T6v 228 ſonia, but never entertained a thought of love, as her conduct, in general, was ſo flighty, and her converſation ſo trifling, that though it was impoſſible to avoid admiring her beauty, ſhe had not one requiſite calculation to create eſteem.
About this time Mr. Eldridge was taken ill— the phyſicians feared a conſumption, and adviſed a journey to Montpelier—Laſſonia accompanied her father, and, during their abſence, Emily gave her hand to Mr. Selby. Mr. Eldridge recovered his health, and they reviſited England; when, no mention being made of Laſſonia’s returning to Mrs. Selby, ſhe continued with her father, to ſuperintend his family. Two years paſſed on in delightful harmony between Mr. and Mrs. Selby, in which time ſhe preſented him with a boy and a girl. During that period the father of Laſſonia died inſolvent, and ſhe was reduced to the neceſſity of going to ſervice, as there was not the leaſt proviſion for her future ſubſiſtence.
It was then the generous, diſintereſted Emily offered her an aſylum in her houſe, appointed her an apartment, a ſervant to attend her, and ſupplied her with cloaths and money from her own private purſe.
Laſſonia had not long been an inmate in the houſe of her friend, before, envious of her felicity, ſhe determined to imbitter it, by alienating the affection of Selby from his truly amiable wife—Selby 229 U1r 229 was young, and fond of variety; his paſſion for Emily was greatly abated by poſſeſſion, and though he almoſt venerated her for her virtues, the charms of her faithleſs friend enflamed his heart, and he eagerly caught at the frequent opportunities which ſhe intentionally gave him to plead his pasſion.
Laſſonia is a proud woman; her ſituation was irksome, though every favour from Emily was conferred in ſo delicate a manner, that an indifferent ſpectator would have imagined her the perſon obliged.
She was likewiſe an artful woman; ſhe ſoon gained ſuch an aſcendency over Selby, that while Emily ſcarcely dared to hint her wiſhes, Laſſonia demanded with authority, and gained every deſire. Yet of ſo gentle, unſuſpicious a temper, was Mrs. Selby, and ſo great a confidence did ſhe place in the honour of her friend and her huſband, that though Laſſonia remained in the family near a twelvemonth after her connection with Selby, ſhe never once thought ſuch a thing could happen.— She frequently lamented to her treacherous friend the alteration in her huſband’s behaviour, but ſhe never ſuſpected her as the cauſe of her uneaſineſs.
But Laſſonia now found it neceſſary to remove from Mrs. Selby’s, to prevent her ſhame from becoming public; ſhe told Emily that ſhe was diſtreſſed at being ſo great an incumbrance to U 230 U1v 230 her, and that having an opportunity of going abroad with a lady, who wanted a companion, ſhe would embrace it, and endeavour to contribute to her own ſupport. By this conduct, ſhe laid a plan to prevent returning to the family, which ſhe predetermined not to do before ſhe left it.
Mrs. Selby loaded her with obligations at parting. She retired to a ſmall houſe, about twenty miles from town, which Selby had provided for her reception, and where ſhe remained three years, Selby ſpending a great part of his time with her.
About ſix months ſince ſhe came to town, aſſumed the name of Green, took an elegant houſe, and ſet up a carriage. Mrs. Selby hearing of her arrival, and ſupposing ſhe was married, requeſted me, who at that time was ignorant of the circumſtances I have now related, to go with her and pay Laſſonia a morning viſit.
We were ſhewn into the drawing room by a ſervant, who informed us his mistreſs would be down in a few minutes, but that ſhe was then dreſſing.
How agreeably ſurpriſed my dear Laſſonia will be, ſaid Emily, to find I am the lady who wanted to ſpeak with her—— for ſhe had ſent up no name.
We were chatting on indifferent ſubjects, when a child ran into the room, crying, I will have papa’s picture; I won’t break it indeed; a maid followed231 U2r 231 lowed him in; he ran to Emily, whoſe arms were extended to receive him, and throwing the picture into her lap, judge her feelings when ſhe ſaw the portrait of Mr. Selby, which ſhe had given him but two days before with the greateſt regret, imagining him in want of money. Her feelings overpowered her, and ſhe fell lifeleſs on the floor. The cries of the ſervant alarmed the family, and Laſſonia, thinking ſome miſfortune had happened to her child, ruſhed into the room, followed by Selby himſelf.
It is impoſſible to describe the ſcene that enſued on the recovery of Emily—Laſſonia raved, Mrs. Selby wept, and Selby appeared motionleſs as a ſtatue.
As ſoon as Emily was able to walk, I took her hand and led her to the carraige. Upon her return home, her fainting fits returned; ſhe paſſed a night of inconceivable diſtreſs, for Selby never came near her; and in the morning ſhe was in a violent fever. I then went in purſuit of ther perfidious huſband; but as the ſuffering ſaint deſired, forbore to reproach him.
I found him, and he returned with me to her.
She beheld him approach with a faint ſmile— It is kind, my Selby, ſaid ſhe, to come and receive the parting ſigh of her who has ſo long been a barrier to your happineſs; indeed I did not know, or I never would have viſited my happy rival—I never thought your love was divided, 232 U2v 232 and the certainty of it came ſo ſudden upon my heart, that, weak and unprepared as it was, it could not bear the ſhock——take care of my children, ſaid ſhe; adieu, my love; my heart may break, but my tongue will never reproach you.
Her diſorder hourly increaſed; a delirium enſued; and before the next morning ſhe breathed her laſt, invoking bleſſings on the head of her faithleſs huſband and treacherous friend.
It is ſuch women as Laſſonia, who caſt an odium on the whole ſex; and ſuch women are not only objects of contempt, but deteſtation. I am not of opinion that women would never degenerate into vice, were they not at firſt ſeduced by man; certain I am, though my heart aches at the idea, that there are many women, who are abandoned to all manner of wickedneſs, entirely through the depravity of their inclinations.—Oh! how my ſoul riſes with indignation, to ſee the faireſt works of the Creator’s hand ſo far forget their native dignity, as to glory in actions which debaſe them beneath the loweſt reptile that crawls upon the earth! To ſee a woman loaded with ornaments which are the wages of guilt, and exulting in the badges of her diſhonour; to ſee her admitted into all public places, and rudely preſſing before the meek and virtuous—I could ſtrip her of her 233 U3r 233 gaudy trappings, and, to bring her to a juſt ſenſe of her infamous conduct, feed her upon bread and water, till convinced of the neceſſity of repentance, ſhe ſhould gladly embrace the moſt ſervile employment, and accept the meaneſt apparel, rather than return to her former life of vice and diſſipation.
How many families have been ruined by licentious women! How many virtuous wives have ſunk, broken-hearted, to the grave! how many innocent orphans have been ſent portionleſs into the world, through their diabolical machinations! and, alas! (I ſhudder as the thought occurs) how many wretched women, forgetful of their marriage vows, have relinquiſhed a tender huſband, a family of children, whoſe innocent careſſes ſhould have linked her heart inſeparably to their father, and thrown herſelf into the arms of an abandoned libertine!—let not ſuch a woman plead ſeduction—a married woman muſt, by her conduct, give ſome encouragement before the moſt profligate man would dare offend her ear with a declaration of love; and weak, very weak, muſt be her repulſes, if he ventures to perſevere in his impious purſuit.
From the inmoſt receſſes of my ſoul do I pity the unhappy girl, who, betrayed by the impulſe of affection, falls a prey to an inſidious villain, and, abandoned by her ſeducer, is expoſed to the ſcorn and contempt of the world—Oh! how my heart has been wrung to ſee poor girls, who are ſcarcely U2 234 U3v 234 paſt their childhood, whoſe miſfortune it has been to have wicked adviſers, ſo early initiated into the ſchool of vice. Their tender frames, which once perhaps, by kind, paternal care, were ſhielded from the winds of Heaven—now defenceleſs, in the moſt inclement ſeaſon, expoſed to noxious damps and pinching cold, and when they moſt ſtand in need of conſolation, when bowed almoſt to the grave with want, diſease, and ſhame, to ſee them reſt their wearied bones upon the cold, damp pavement, and lay their aching heads upon the ſteps of an houſe where a woman dwells, whoſe heart is a thouſand times more guilty than theirs, who ſins without remorſe, and riots in wealth and luxury.
I never ſee the poor nightly wanderers that infeſt our ſtreets, but, ſpite of my endeavours to the contrary, the tear of anguiſh will ſteal unbidden to my eye.
Pour ſouls! I often ſay, poor, unhappy creatures, would to Heaven I had a fortune capacious as my heart, that I might ſnatch you from perdition, and teach you the road to everlaſting felicity. I would guard you from the inſults of the world; I would cheriſh you, liſten to all your tales of ſorrow, and join my tears with yours, till we had waſhed away the ſtains of guilt, and taught you that to be happy, is to be happy.
Oh! my fair countrywomen, turn not away from the plaints of miſery; ſcorn not the daughters of affliction; for, if by clemency and humanity 235 U4r 235 you could draw one miſerable object from the thorny paths of vice, and reſtore her to peace with her own ſoul, you would do an act more acceptable in the ſight of your Creator, than the man who beſtows thouſands for the endowment of an hoſpital—the firſt action muſt proceed from innate goodneſs of the heart; the laſt may from ſelf-love—a man may do a public act of benevolence to perpetuate his name, and dignify himſelf with the title of generous; but that pure charity, which leads us to forgive the failings of our fellow creatures, cheer the deſponding heart, and wipe the grief-ſwoln eye of an obſcure individual, muſt be the reſult of religion; it is a ſort of benevolence which gratifies the heart in performing good deeds, but bluſhes whenever thoſe actions are repeated—It feels the moſt exalted pleaſure in relieving a diſtreſſed fellow creature, but it is pained to receive acknowledgements.
I will go and pay the diſconſolate Heſter a viſit, ſaid I, one morning as I was rambling near Chelſea. I bent my ſteps toward her habitation; but had not proceeded far, before I obſerved a young man, whoſe dreſs had formerly been genteel, but was now ſhabby in the extreme; his hair had once been dreſſed, but it might have been ſome three weeks or a month ſince; his coat was de coleur de 236 U4v 236 pace, but much the worſe for wear, as the elbows diſcovered a very fine but dirty ſhirt; his once ſattin waiſtcoat was thread-bare and greaſy, his breeches looſe and ragged at the knees; a pair of dirty ſilk ſtockings, ornamented with here and there a hole, hung in a ſlovenly manner about his legs; and the ſable fril of his ſhirt, that peeped from his breaſt, was trimmed with the fineſt edging.— That man has once been a coxcomb, ſaid I; for I always judge, when I ſee the remains of finery put on careleſſly, or diſfigured with dirt, that the wearer has formerly been extravagant in his dreſs.
I approached the tattered beau, in order to take a view of his perſon, when I diſcovered the features of my old acquaintance Mr. Woudbe.
And this is the end of ignorant pride, oſtentation, and folly, ſaid I—no doubt you would now be glad of a friend to adminiſter to thoſe wants which henceforth you will learn to pity in others—but I fear your conduct has been ſuch that you have no friends to apply to.
The thought was ſcarcely paſſed, before two diſagreeable looking fellows came up, and ſhewing the trembling Woudbe a bit of parchment, he was forced to ſurrender himſelf their priſoner.
Juſt at that time, a young man of faſhion paſsing, and recollecting Woudbe, accoſted him with heigh! Jack, what! come to this already, I 237 U5r 237 thought you would have held it out a little longer ——ha! ha! what a rueful figure!—all out at the elbows, eh!
A truce with your ſneers, Sir, ſaid Woudbe, asſuming an air of importance, I ſtand in need of twenty pounds immediately—you have frequently made me offers of ſervice; lend me that ſum, and I ſhall be obliged to you.
Ah! Jack, ſaid the other, that air and manner won’t do now, it did very well while the l’argent laſted, and you was a gentleman at large; but now you are again plain Jack Woudbe, the Cabinet- maker; you muſt learn to bow, cringe, and mind your buſineſs—I am ſorry it goes ſo hard with you; but depend upon it, this will always be the caſe with young men of trifling fortunes, who ape the manners, and launch into extravagancies, which are only becoming their ſuperiors—I would lend you the money with all my heart, but I know you have no way to repay it, and are too proud to go to work; therefore you had better ſubmit to your fate with a good grace.
The poor creſt-fallen Woudbe walked away with his diſagreeable companions, and the ſtranger addreſſed himself to me—that young man, Sir, ſaid he, was the ſon of an induſtrious tradeſman, who, by ſtrict attention to buſineſs, ſcraped together about three or four thouſand pounds; at his death this money was left for his only ſon, who was then 238 U5v 238 getting a little education at a cheap ſchool in the country.
When fifteen years old, he was apprenticed to a capital Cabinet-maker; a very handſome premium was given him; but he was too much of the gentleman to attend to buſineſs, and when he came of age, he aſſumed the dreſs and manners of a man of faſhion; expenſive amuſements, treats, balls, and the retinue of diſſipation and folly, were eagerly attended to—but this would not laſt long; it is now over; and even if he makes friends to get from his preſent confinement, I know of no method he can purſue for future ſubſiſtence.
Such young men as theſe, ſaid I, by their folly, are often involved in difficulties, which, in hopes of extricating themſelves from, they hurry to the gaming table, and finding their expectations fruſtrated there alſo, as the laſt reſource, betake themſelves to a black crape, a good horſe, and a piſtol. —How careful ſhould parents and guardians be to inſtil into the minds of youth of narrow fortunes, meekneſs, humility, and induſtry! the leaſt tendency to thoughtleſs extravagance, in either ſex, ought to be ſeverely chaſtiſed; ſince pride, and a paſſion for expenſive pleaſures, which they have no landable method to obtain, has hurried thouſands into actions which imbitter the laſt hours of life, with poverty, ſhame, and remorſe.239 U6r 239
As I finiſhed theſe remarks, I looked up, expecting an anſwer from my companion; but whether my diſcourſe was too grave, or whether it touched his feelings, or whether ſome other cauſe had occaſioned him to leave me, I know not, but he was gone; and on my turning round to look for him, I ſaw he was haſtily proceeding towards town.
How eaſy it is, ſaid I, for a man to blame a conduct in others, which he is eagerly purſuing himſelf; perhaps a few years may reduce that young man to the ſame ſituation in which he now ſmiles to ſee Woudbe—experience is undoubtedly beſt when purchaſed; but Woudbe has, I fear, paid an exorbitant price for his.
I was now oppoſite Vellum’s houſe.
Having entered, by means of my ring, I proceeded, unſeen, to Heſter’s apartment—ſhe was greatly altered ſince the death of her father; a ſickly langour had taken poſſeſſion of her features, ſhe looked anxious and fatigued.
I wonder Harper is not returned, ſaid ſhe to a young woman who was with her: I hope the dear Julietta is not worſe.
She had hardly pronounced theſe words, before a poſt chaiſe ſtopped at the door, and, in a few 240 U6v 240 moments, the injured orphan entered, leaning on the arm of an elderly woman; an univerſal trembling ſeized on Heſter, when ſhe beheld the ravages which ſickneſs and ill usage had made on the form of her lovely friend; ſhe led her to a ſopha, dropped on her knees before her, and gazing at her with a look that ſpoke the keen anguiſh of her ſoul, took her thin hands in hers, and burſt into tears.
Do you not know me, my ſweet friend? ſaid ſhe, after a long and affecting ſilence; will you not ſpeak to me, Julietta?
Heſter, ſaid ſhe, bowing her head forward, and leaning her cheek upon that of her weeping friend, Heſter, why are you ſo ſorrowful? and why are you dreſſed in black? are you an orphan, Hester?
Oh?! had it pleaſed Heaven I had been, cried Heſter, earneſtly, rather than you, dear, injured angel, had been reduced to this hapleſs ſtate.
Alas! ſaid Julietta, why would you wiſh to be an orphan, to have a cruel guardian, to loſe your brother, to eat dry bread and drink cold water, and lie upon a wretched bed of ſtraw? you could not bear it, dear Heſter; you would die of a broken heart—for my part, I am uſed to it; I can bear it very well; then let me return to my little hut again —if my guardian knew I had left it, he would be very angry.
And have you ſuffered all this? cried Heſter, weeping bitterly. Oh! Julietta, you never ſhall 241 X1r 241 return to that ſad place again; your cruel guardian is dead.
Dead! cried Julietta, raiſing her hands and eyes in a ſupplicating manner; then Heaven have mercy on him.
And what do you think of the poor girl’s caſe? ſaid Heſter, as ſhe re-entered the room with Dr. M—, after they had perſuaded Julietta to go to bed.
The doctor gave her great hopes that kind and affectionate treatment would ſoon entirely reſtore her reaſon, which he imagined was already beginning to return.
Could I but ſee that happy day, ſaid ſhe, and deliver her fortune into her own hands, I ſhould have no farther buſineſs in this world
How ſo, my young friend? ſaid the Doctor, with a look of ſurprise; I think you have a great deal of buſineſs in the world yet; why ſure, with all your goodneſs and accompliſhments, you would not ſhut yourſelf up in a convent?
Why no, ſaid ſhe; I am not a ſufficient convert to the cCatholic religion to imagine it abſolutely neceſſary to ſhut ourſelves up within the walls of a priſon to avoid the temptations of the world; but, I think, a perſon may in ſolitude better practiſe thoſe virtues ſo neceſſary to our well doing hereafter, than in the noiſe and hurry of the more buſy ſcenes of life.—By ſolitude, I do not mean to retire X 242 X1v 242 to a deſert, and ſhut myſelf from the converſe and ſociety of my fellow creatures; I mean a calm retirement, far from folly and diſſipation, where I may conſult my own heart on the propriety and equity of all my actions, without incurring the ſneers and ridicule of the world. As to the wealth which my poor unhappy father hoarded, it does not belong to me; it is the property of the widow and the fatherleſs.
Here her tears interrupted her.
After this declaration, Doctor, ſhe , continued, you will not be ſurpriſed at my reſolution of retiring from the gay ſcenes of life; and, I flatter myſelf, I ſhall in time regain that ſerenity of mind a ſeries of uncommon trials have robbed me of.
The Doctor was too much affected to reply; he preſſed her hand, ſtruggled hard to ſuppreſs a riſing tear, and making a haſty bow, left the room.
A few weeks reſtored Julietta to reaſon, health, and ſpirits; when Heſter, having reſigned her fortune to her own care, and made ample retribution of thoſe ſums her father had appropriated to his own uſe, during the inſanity of his ward, retired to a village, in a county far diſtant from London, and ſpent the remainder of her life in adminiſtering to the wants of the helpleſs and distreſſed.
Her friendſhip for Julietta ceaſed but with her life; and many ſummers has that amiable girl ſpent with her, uniting in every action of benevolence, and ſhedding peace and plenty around them; the 243 X2r 243 villagers adored them while living, and mourned with unaffected ſorrow when deprived by death of their benefactreſſes.
The City Heiress.
I will have the moſt elegant that is to be had, Mamma, cried a young lady, as ſhe came out of a carriage, and ran into a milliner’s ſhop, which I had entered to buy ſome little preſents for Harriet and Lucy.
Do not let me detain you from waiting on the ladies, ſaid I to the mistreſs of the ſhop, for I was willing to ſee to what lengths this girl’s extravagance would take her.
I want a bouquet, Mrs. Frippery, ſaid ſhe; come, ſhew me ſome of the handſomeſt you have.
The counter was in an inſtant overſpread with roſes, carnations, lilies, jeſſamine, and other flowers innumerable; it looked like the temple of Flora; but I ſhould by no means have taken the young lady for divinity of the place, as ſhe was a little ſwarthy figure, with ſmall black eyes, a good deal marked with the ſmall pox, and ſomething inclined to be crooked.—Nature might have made her really ſo, but her ſtay-maker had found out a method, in a great meaſure, to hide the defect; her hair was dreſſed to the extremity of the faſhion; her 244 X2v 244 bonnet, which was large, and loaded with trimmings, placed on the left ſide of her head; a train of rich ſatin ſwept the ground as ſhe walked; the prominence of her handkerchief almoſt hid her chin; and her cheeks wore the tints of ſome of the best rouge.—It is aſtonishing, ſaid I, as I ſat looking at her, that a woman to whom nature has not been laviſh in perſonal attractions, ſhould take ſuch pains by their outre manner of dreſſing, entirely to obſcure the few charms with which they are endued, and make their defects conſpicuous.
I was rouſed from theſe reflections by the Lady’s bidding five guineas for as many flowers.
But really, Mrs. Frippery, ſaid ſhe, have you none more elegant?
Why, my dear Miſs, ſaid the woman, I have one, but it is poſitively beſpoke by the Dutcheſs of Melvin, and it likewiſe comes rather high:——it cannot go out of my ſhop under ſeven guineas—— though there are not more flowers in it than in the one you have choſen.
The flowers were produced, the Lady inſiſted on having them, and the money was paid.
It is a doubt with me, ſaid I, whether the poor mortal whoſe induſtry and ingenuity formed thoſe pretty ornaments, ſcarcely earns more than enough to ſupport nature; and yet this thoughtleſs girl has paid ſeven guineas for them, merely becauſe they were beſpoke by the Dutcheſs of Melvin.245 X3r 245
Juſt as the ladies were about leaving the ſhop, a ſmart man, dreſſed like an officer, whoſe language ſpoke him hibernian, deſired to look at ſome point ruffles; he advanced to the counter at which the young Lady ſat, and while he ſeemed busy at looking at the ruffles, took an opportunity to ſlip a letter into her hand unperceived by her mother.— I ſhall again have recourſe to my ring, ſaid I, for if I am not miſtaken, that man is a fortune-hunter.
That young Lady, ſaid Mrs. Frippery, as they drove from the door, is the only child of Alderman Fig—ſhe is heireſs to a vast fortune.
Two fat old gentlemen paſſing just then, ſhe informed me that one of them was Mr. Fig himſelf.
I had made my purchaſes, ſo I ſtepped out of the ſhop and followed the Alderman.
I have been out on purpoſe to get an appetite, ſaid Mr. Fig;—I think it was the largeſt turtle I ever ſaw; and my friend Dip always has his turtles ſo well dreſſed, that I long for the hour of dinner. I will just ſtep home and change my wig, and be with you again immediately.
Then this is the time, ſaid I, for me to get admiſſion.—I put my hand in my pocket for my ring —but it was gone—I ſearched every pocket diligently,246 X3v 246 gently, but no ring could I find. I returned to the millner’s ſhop, and from thence home—ſearched my bed——had every room in the houſe ſwept; but it was all to no purpoſe.—I never ſaw it again.
And pray, Mr. Inquiſitor, what became of the City Heireſs?
Upon my word, Madam, I never heard.