The Vicar of Wakefield
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There are a hundred faults in this Thingand ahundred things might be said to prove them beauties. But it isneedless. A book may be amusing with numerous errorsor it may bevery dull without a single absurdity. The hero of this piece unitesin himself the three greatest characters upon earth; he is a priesta husbandmanand the father of a family. He is drawn as ready toteach and ready to obey; as simple in affluenceand majestic inadversity. In this age of opulence and refinementwhom can such acharacter please? Such as are fond of high life will turn withdisdain from the simplicity of his country fireside. Such as mistakeribaldry for humor will find no wit in his harmless conversation; andsuch as have been taught to deride religion will laugh at one whosechief stores of comfort are drawn from futurity.
Chapter 1 - The Description of the Family of Wakefieldin Whicha Kindred Likeness Prevailsas Well of Minds as of Persons.
I WAS ever of opinionthat the honest man whomarried and brought up a large familydid more service than he whocontinued single and only talked of population. From this motive Ihad scarcely taken orders a yearbefore I began to think seriouslyof matrimonyand choose my wifeas she did her wedding gownnotfor a fine glossy surf acebut such qualities as would wear wellTodo her justiceshe was a good-naturednotable woman; and as forbreedingthere were few country ladies who could show more. Shecould read any English book without much spelling; but for picklingpreservingand cookery none could excel her. She prided herself alsoupon being an excellent contriver in housekeepingthough I nevercould find that we grew richer with all her contrivances.
Howeverwe lovedeach other tenderlyand our fondness increased as we grew old. Therewasin factnothing that could make us angry with the worldor each other. We had an elegant housesituated in a fine countryand a good neighborhood. The year wasspent in moral or rural amusementsin visiting our rich neighborsand relieving such as were poor. We had no revolutions to fearnorfatigues to undergo; all our adventures were by the firesideand allour migrations from the blue bed to the brown.
As we lived near theroadwe often had the traveller or stranger visit us to taste ourgooseberry winefor which we had great reputation; and I professwith the veracity of an historianthat I never knew one of them tofind fault with it. Our cousinstooeven to the fortieth removeall remembered their affinitywithout any help from the Herald'sOfficeand came very frequently to see us. Some of them did us nogreat honor by these claims of kindred; as we had the blindthemaimedand the halt amongst the number. Howevermy wife alwaysinsisted that as they were the same flesh and bloodthey should sitwith us at the same table. So that if we had not very richwegenerally had very happy friends about us; for this remark will holdgood through lifethat the poorer the guestthe better pleased beever is with being treated; and as some men gaze with admiration atthe colors of a tulipor the wing of a butterflyso I was by naturean admirer of happy human faces. Howeverwhen any one of ourrelations was found to be a person of very bad characteratroublesome guestor one we desired to get rid ofupon hisleaving my house I ever took care to lend him a riding-coat or a pairof-bootsor sometimes a horse of small valueand I always had thesatisfaction of finding he never came back to return them. By thisthe house was cleared of such as we did not like; but never was thefamily of Wakefield known to turn the traveller or the poor dependentout of doors.
Thus we lived several years in a state of muchhappinessnot but that we sometimes had those little rubs whichProvidence sends to enhance the value of its favors. My orchard wasoften robbed by schoolboysand my wife's custards plundered by thecats or the children. The 'Squire would sometimes fall asleep in themost pathetic parts of my sermonor his lady return my wife'scivilities at church with a mutilated courtesy. But we soon got overthe uneasiness caused by such accidentsand usually in three or fourdays began to wonder how they vexed us.
My childrentheoffspring of temperanceas they were educated without softnesssothey were at once well formed and healthy; my sons hardy and activemy daughters beautiful and blooming. When I stood in the midst of thelittle circlewhich promised to be the support of my declining ageI could not avoid repeating the famous story of Count Abensbergwhoin Henry the Second's progress through Germanywhile other courtierscame with their treasuresbrought his thirty-two childrenandpresented them to his sovereign as the most valuable offering he hadto bestow. In this mannerthough I had but sixI considered them asa very valuable present made to my countryand consequently lookedupon it as my debtor. Our oldest son was named Georgeafter hisunclewho left us ten thousand pounds. Our second childa girlIintended to call after her aunt Grissel; but my wifewho during herpregnancy had been reading romancesinsisted upon her being calledOlivia. In less than another year we had another daughterand now Iwas determined that Grissel should be her name; but a rich relationtaking a fancy to stand god-motherthe girl wasby her directionscalled Sophiaso that we had two romantic names in the family; but Isolemnly protest I had no hand in it. Moses was our nextand afteran interval of twelve years we had two sons more.
It would be fruitlessto deny my exultation when I saw my little ones about me; but thevanity and the satisfaction of my wife were even greater than mine.When our visitors would say: "Wellupon my wordMrs. Primroseyou have the finest children in the whole country" "Ayneighbor" she would answer"they are as Heaven made themhandsome enoughif they be good enough; for handsome is thathandsome does." And then she would bid the girls hold up theirheadswhoto conceal nothingwere certainlyvery handsome. Mere outside is so verytrifling a circumstance with methat I should scarcely haveremembered to mention it had it not been a general topic ofconversation in the country. Olivianow about eighteenhad thatluxuriance of beauty with which painters generally draw Hebe-opensprightlyand commanding. Sophia's features were not so striking atfirstbut often did more certain execution; for they were softmodest and alluring. The one vanquished by a single blowthe otherby efforts successfully repeated.
The temper of a womanis generally formed from the turn of her features; at least it was sowith my daughters. Olivia wished for many loversSophia to secureone. Olivia was often affected with too great a desire to please.Sophia even repressed excellence from her fears to offend. The oneentertained me with her vivacity when I was gaythe other with hersense when I was serious. But these qualities were never carried toexcess in eitherand I have often seen them exchange characters fora whole day together. A suit of mourning has transformed my coquetteinto a prudeand a new set of ribands has given her younger sistermore than natural vivacity. My eldest son George was bred at Oxfordas I intended him for one of the learned professions. My second boyMoseswhom I designed for businessreceived a sort of miscellaneouseducation at home. But it is needless to attemptdescribing the particular characters of youngpeople that had seen but very little of the world. In shorta familylikeness prevailed through all; andproperly speakingthey had butone characterthat of being all equally generouscreduloussimpleand inoffensive.
Chapter 2 - Family Misfortunes-The Loss of Fortune Only Servesto Increase the Pride of the Worthy
THE temporal concernsof our family were chiefly committed to my wife's management; as tothe spiritualI took them entirely under my own direction. Theprofits of my livingwhich amounted to but thirtyfive pounds a yearI made over to the orphans and widows of the clergy of our diocese;for having a fortune of my ownI was careless of temporalitiesandfelt a secret pleasure in doing my duty without reward. I also set aresolution of keeping no curateand of being acquainted with everyman in the parishexhorting the married men to temperanceand thebachelors to matrimony; so that in a few years it was a commonsayingthat there were three strange wants at Wakefield a parsonwanting prideyoung men wanting wives and ale-houses wantingcustomers. Matrimony was always one of my favorite topicsand Iwrote several sermons to prove its happiness; but there was apeculiar tenet which I made a point of supporting: for I maintainedwith Whistonthat it was unlawfulfor a priest of the Church of Englandafterthe death of his first wifeto take a secondor to express it inone wordI valued myself upon being a strict monogamist.
I was early initiated into this importantdisputeon which so many laborious volumes have been written. Ipublished some tracts upon the subject myselfwhichas they neversoldI have the consolation of thinking were read only by the happyfew. Some of my friends called this my weak side; but alas! they hadnotlike memade it the subject of long contemplation. The more Ireflected upon itthe more important it appeared. I even went a stepbeyond Whiston in displaying my principles; as he had engraven uponhis wife's tomb that she was the only wife of William Whistonso Iwrote a similar epitaph for my wife though still livingin which Iextolled her prudenceeconomyand obediencetill death; and havinggot it copied f airwith an elegant frameit was placed over thechimney-piecewhere it answered several very useful purposes. Itadmonished my wife of her duty to meand my fidelity to her; itinspired her with a passion for fameand constantly put her in mindof her end.
It was thusperhapsf rom hearing marriage so of ten recommendedthat my eldest sonjust upon leaving collegefixed his affections upon the daughter ofa neighboring clergymanwho was a dignitary in the Churchand incircumstances to give her a large fortune: but fortune was hersmallest accomplishment. Miss Arabella Wilmot was allowed by allexcept my two daughtersto be completely pretty. Her youthhealthand innocencewere still heightened by a complexion so transparentand such a happy sensibility of lookas even age could not gaze onwith indifference. As Mr. Wilmot knew that I could make a veryhandsome settlement on my sonhe was not averse to the match; soboth families lived together in all that harmony which generallyprecedes an expected alliance. Being convinced by experience that thedays of courtship are the most happy of our livesI was willingenough to lengthen the period; and the various amusements which theyoung couple every day shared in each other's company seemed toincrease their passion. We were generally awakened in the morning bymusicand on fine days rode a-hunting. The hours between breakfastand dinner the ladies devoted to dress and study: they usually read apageand then gazed at themselves in the glasswhich evenphilosophers might own of ten presented the page of greatest beauty.At dinner my wife took the lead; for as she always insisted uponcarving every thing herselfit being her mother's wayshe gave usupon these occasions the history of every dish. When we had dinedtoprevent the ladies leaving usI generally ordered the table to beremoved; and sometimeswith the music-master's assistancethegirls would give us a very agreeableconcert. Walking outdrinking teacountry dances and forfeitsshortened the rest of the daywithout the assistance of cardsas Ihated all manner of gamingexcept back-gammonat which my oldfriend and I sometimes took a two-penny hit. Nor can I here pass overan ominous circumstance that happened the last time we playedtogether: I only wanted to fling a quatreand yet I threw deuce-acefive times running.
Some months wereelapsed in this mannertill at last it was thought convenient to fixa day for the nuptials of the young couplewho seemed earnestly todesire it. During the preparations for the weddingI need notdescribe the busy importance of my wifenor the sly looks of mydaughters; in factmy attention was fixed on another objectthecompleting a tract which I intended shortly to publish in defence ofmy favorite principle. As I looked upon this as a master-piecebothfor argument and styleI could not in the pride of my heart avoidshowing it to my old friend Mr. Wilmotas I made no doubt ofreceiving his approbationbut not till too late I discovered that hewas most violently attached to the contrary opinionand with goodreasonfor he was at that time actually courting a fourth wife.Thisas may be expectedproduced a dispute attended with someacrimonywhich threatened to interrupt our intended alliance; but onthe daybefore that appointed for the ceremonyweagreed to discuss the subject at large.
It was managed withproper spirit on both sides; he asserted that I was heterodoxIretorted the charge; he repliedand I rejoined. In the meantimewhile the controversy was hottestI was called out by one of myrelationswhowith a face of concernadvised me to give up thedisputeat least till my son's wedding was over. "How!"cried I"relinquish the cause of truthand let him be ahusbandalready driven to the very verge of absurdity! You might aswell advise me to give up my fortuneas my argument." "Yourfortune" returned my friend"I am now sorry to informyouis almost nothing. The merchant in townin whose hands yourmoney was lodgedhas gone offto avoid a statute of bankruptcyandis thought not to have left a shilling in the pound. I was unwillingto shock you or the family with the account till after the wedding;but now it may serve to moderate your warmth in the argumentfor Isuppose your own prudence will enforce the necessity of dissemblingat least till your son has the young lady's fortune secure.""Well" returned I"if what you tell me be true andif I am to be a beggarit shall never make me a rascalor induce meto disavow my principles. I'll go this moment and inform the companyof my circumstances: and as for the argumentI even here retract myformer concessions in the old gentleman's favornor willI allow him now to be a husband in any senseof the expression."
It would be endless to describe the differentsensations of both families when I divulged the news of ourmisfortunebut what others felt was slight to what the loversappeared to endure. Mr. Wilmotwho seemed before sufficientlyinclined to break off the matchwas by this blow soon determined:one virtue he had in perfectionwhich was prudencetoo often theonly one that is left us at seventy-two.
Chapter 3 - A Migration-The Fortunate Circumstances of our Livesare Generally Found at Last to Be of our Own Procuring
THE only hope of our family now was that thereport of our misfortunes might be malicious or prematurebut aletter from my agent in town soon came with a confirmation of everyparticular. The loss of fortune to myself alone would have beentrifling; the only uneasiness I felt was for my familywho were tobe humble without an education to render them callous to contempt.
Near a fortnight had passed before I attemptedto restrain their afflictionfor premature consolation is but theremembrancer of sorrow. During this interval my thoughts wereemployed on some future means of supporting themand at last a smallcure of fifteen pounds a year was offered me in a distantneighborhoodwhere I could still enjoymy principles withoutmolestation. With this proposal I joyfully closedhaving determinedto increase my salary by managing a little farm.
Having taken thisresolutionmy next care was toget together the wrecks of my fortune; andall debts collected and paidout of fourteen thousand pounds we hadbut four hundred remaining. My chief attentionthereforewas now tobring down the pride of my family to their circumstancesfor I wellknew that aspiring beggary is wretchedness itself. "You cannotbe ignorantmy children" cried I"that no prudence ofours could have prevented our late misfortunebut prudence may domuch in disappointing its effects. We are now poormy fondlingsandwisdom bids us conform to our humble situation. Let usthenwithoutrepininggive up those splendors with which numbers are wretchedand seek in humbler circumstances that peace with which all may behappy. The poor live pleasantly without our help; whythenshouldwe not learn to live without theirs? Nomy childrenlet us fromthis moment give up all pretensions to gentility; we have stillenough left for happiness if we are wiseand let us draw uponcontent for the deficiencies of fortune."
As my eldest son wasbred a scholarI determined to send him to townwhere his abilitiesmight contribute to our support and his own. The separation offriends and families isperhapsone of the most distressfulcircumstances attendant on penury. The day soon arrived on which wewere to disperse for the first time. My sonafter taking leave ofhis mother and the restwho mingled their tears with their kissescame to ask a blessing from me. This I gavehim from my heartand whichadded to five guineaswas all thepatrimony I had now to bestow. "You are goingmy boy"cried I"to London on footin the manner Hookeryour greatancestortravelled there before you. Take f rom me the same horsethat was given him by the good bishop jewelthis staff ; and takethis book tooit will be your comfort on the way: these two lines init are worth a million: 'I have been youngand now am old; yet neversaw I the righteous man forsakenor his seed begging their bread.'Let this be your consolation as you travel on. Gomy boy; whateverbe thy fortunelet me see thee once a year; still keep a good heartand farewell." As he was possessed of integrity and honorI wasunder no apprehensions f rom throwing him naked into the amphitheatreof life; f or I knew he would act a good partwhether vanquished orvictorious.
His departure onlyprepared the way for our ownwhich arrived a few days afterwards.The leaving a neighborhood in which we had enjoyed so many hours oftranquillity was not without a tearwhich scarcely fortitude itselfcould suppress. Besidesa journey of seventy milesto a family thathad hitherto never been above ten miles from homefilled us withapprehension; and the cries of the poorwho followed us for somemilescontributed to increase it. The first day's journey brought usin safety within thirty miles
of our future retreatand we putup for the night at an obscure inn in a village by the way. When wewere shown a roomI desired the landlordin my usual wayto let ushave his companywith which he compliedas what he drank wouldincrease the bill the next morning. He knewhoweverthe wholeneighborhood to which I wasremovingparticularly 'Squire Thornhillwho was to be my landlordand who lived within a few miles of the place. This gentleman hedescribed as one who desired to know little more of the world thanits pleasuresbeing particularly remarkable for his attachment tothe fair sex. He observed that no virtue was able to resist his artsand assiduityand that scarcely a farmer's daughters within tenmiles roundbut what had found him successful and faithless. Thoughthis account gave me some painit had a very different effect uponmy daughterswhose features seemed to brighten with the expectationof an approaching triumph; nor was my wife less pleased and confidentof their allurements and virtue. While our thoughts were thusemployedthe hostess entered the room to inform her husband that thestrange gentlemanwho had been two days in the housewanted moneyand could not satisfy them for his reckoning. "Want money!"replied the host"that must be impossible; for it was no laterthan yesterday he paid three guineas to our beadle to spare an oldbroken soldier that was to be whippedthrough the town fordogstealing." The hostesshoweverstill persisting in herfirst assertionhe was preparing to leave the roomswearing that hewould be satisfied one way or anotherwhen I begged the landlordwould introduce me to a stranger of so much charity as he described.With this he compliedshowing in a gentleman whoseemed to be about thirtydressed inclothes that once were laced. His person was well formedand hisface marked with the lines of thinking. He had something short anddry in his addressand seemed not to understand ceremonyor todespise it. Upon the landlord's leaving the roomI could not avoidexpressing my concern to the stranger at seeing a gentleman in suchcircumstancesand offered him my purse to satisfy the presentdemand. "I take it with all my heartsir" replied he"and am glad that a late oversight in giving what money I hadabout mehas shown me that there are still some men like you. Imusthoweverpreviously entreat being informed of the name andresidence of my benefactorin order to repay him as soon aspossible." In this I satisfied him fullynot only mentioning myname and late misfortunesbut the place to which I was going toremove. "This" cried he"happens still more luckilythan I hoped foras I am going the same way myselfhaving beendetained here two days by the floodswhich I hope by tomorrow willbe found passable."' I testified the pleasure I should have inhis companyand my wife and daughters joining in entreatyhe wasprevailed upon to stay to supper. The stranger's conversationwhichwas at once pleasing and instructiveinduced me to wish for acontinuance of it; but it was now high time to retire and takerefreshment against the fatigues of the following day.
The next morning weall set forward together; my family onhorsebackwhile Mr. Burchellour new companionwalked along thefootpath by the roadsideobserving with a smilethat as we wereillmountedhe would be too generous to attempt to leave us behind.As the floods were not yet subsidedwe were obliged to hire a guidewho trotted on beforeMr. Burchell and I bringing up the rear. Welightened the fatigues of the road with philosophical disputeswhichhe seemed to understand perfectly. But what surprised me most wasthat though he was a moneyborrowerhe defended his opinions with asmuch obstinacy as if he had been my patron. He now and then alsoinformed me to whom the different seats belonged that lay in our viewas we travelled the road. "That" cried hepointing to avery magnificent house which stood at some distance"belongs toMr. Thornhilla young gentleman who enjoys a large fortunethoughentirely dependent on the will of his uncleSir William Thornhillagentleman whocontent with a little himselfpermits his nephew toenjoy the restand chiefly resides in town." "What!"cried I"is my young landlordthenthe nephew of a man whosevirtuesgenerosityand singularities are so universally known? Ihave heard Sir William Thornhill represented as one of the mostgenerousyet whimsical men in the kingdom; a man of consummatebenevolence." "Somethingperhapstoo much so"replied Mr. Burchell"at least he carried benevolence to anexcess when young; forhis passions were then strongand as they were all upon the side ofvirtuethey led it up to a romantic extreme. He early began to aimat the qualifications of the soldier and scholar; was soondistinguished in the armyand had some reputation among men oflearning. Adulation ever follows the ambitious; for such alonereceive most pleasure from flattery. He was surrounded with crowdswho showed him only one side of their character; so that he began tolose a regard for private interest in universal sympathy. He lovedall mankind; for fortune prevented him from knowing that there wererascals. Physicians tell us of a disorderin which the whole body isso exquisitely sensiblethat the slightest touch gives pain: whatsome have thus suffered in their personsthis gentleman felt in hismind. The slightest distresswhether real or fictitioustouched himto the quickand his soul labored under a sickly sensibility of themiseries of others. Thus disposed to relieveit will be easilyconjecturedhe found numbers disposed to solicit; his profusionsbegan to impair his fortunebut not his good-naturethat indeedwas seen to increase as the other seemed to decay; he grewimprovident as he grew poor; and though he talked like a man of sensehis actions were those of a fool. Stillhoweverbeing surroundedwith importunityand no longer able to satisfy every request thatwas made himinstead of money he gave promises. They were all he hadto bestowandhe had not resolution enough to give any manpain by a denial. By this he drew round him crowds of dependents whomhe was sure to disappointyet wished to relieve. These hung upon himfor a timeand left him with merited reproaches and contempt. But inproportion as he became contemptible to othershe became despicableto himself.His mind had leaned upon their adulationand that supporttaken awayhe could find no pleasure in the applause of his heartwhich he had never learnt to reverence. The world now began to wear adifferent aspect; the flattery of his friends began to dwindle intosimple approbation. Approbation soon took the more friendly form ofadviceand advice when rejected produced their reproaches. He nowtherefore found that such friends as benefits had gathered round himwere little estimable; he now found that a man's own heart must beever given to gain that of another. I now foundthatthat-I forgetwhat I was going to observe; in shortsirhe resolved to respecthimselfand laid down a plan of restoring his fallen fortune. Forthis purposein his own whimsical mannerhe travelled throughEurope on footand nowthough he has scarcely attained the age ofthirtyhis circumstances are more affluent than ever. At present hisbounties are more rational and moderate than before; but still hepreserves the character of a humoristand finds most pleasure ineccentric virtues."
My attention was sotaken up by Mr. Burchell's accountthat I scarcely looked forward aswe went alongtill we were alarmed by the cries of my family; whenturningI perceived my youngest daughter in the midst of a rapidstreamthrown from her horseand struggling with the torrent. Shehad sunk twicenor was it in my power to disengage myself in time tobring her relief. My sensations were even too violent to permit myattempting her rescue; she must have certainly perished had not mycompanionperceiving her dangerinstantly plunged in to her reliefandwith some difficultybrought her in safety to the oppositeshore. By taking the current a little farther upthe rest of thefamily got safely overwhere we had an opportunity of joining ouracknowledgments to hers. Her gratitude may be more readily imaginedthan described; she thanked her deliverer more with looks than wordsand continued to lean upon his armas if still willing to receiveassistance. My wife also hoped one day to have the pleasure ofreturning his kindness at her own house. Thusafter we wererefreshed at the next innand had dined togetheras Mr. Burchellwas going to a different part of the countryhe took leave; and wepursued our journeymy wife observingas we wentthat she likedhim extremelyand protestingthat if he had birth and fortune toentitle him to match in such a family as oursshe knew no man shewould sooner fix upon. I couldnot but smile to hear her talk in this loftystrain; but I was never much displeased with those harmless delusionsthat tend to make us more happy.
Chapter 4 - A Proof That Even the Humblest Fortune May GrantHappinessWhich Depends not on Circumstances but Constitution.
THE place of our retreat was in a littleneighborhoodconsisting of farmerswho tilled their own groundsand were equal strangers to opulence and poverty. As they had almostall the conveniences of life within themselvesthey seldom visitedtowns or cities in search of superfluities. Remote from the politethey still retained the primeval simplicity of manners; and frugal byhabitthey scarcely knew that temperance was a virtue. They wroughtwith cheerfulness on days of labor; but observed festivals asintervals of idleness and pleasure. They kept up the Christmas carolsent true-love knots on Valentine morningate pancakes onShrove-tideshowed their wit on the first of Apriland religiouslycracked nuts on Michaelmas-eve. Being apprized of our approachthewhole neighborhood came out to meet their ministerdressed in theirfinest clothesand preceded by a pipe and tabor; a feast was alsoprovided for our receptionat which we sat cheerfully down; and whatthe conversation wanted in wit was made up in laughter.
Our little habitation was situated at the footof a sloping hillsheltered with a beautiful underwood behindand aprattling river before; on one side a meadowon the other a green.My farm consisted of about twenty acres of excellent landI havinggiven a hundred pounds for my predecessor's good-will. Nothing couldexceed the neatness of my little enclosures; the elms and hedge-rowsappearing with inexpressible beauty. My house consisted of but onestoryand was covered with thatchwhich gave it an air of greatsnugness; the walls on the inside were nicely whitewashedand mydaughters undertook to adorn them with pictures of their owndesigning. Though the same room served us for parlor and kitchenthat only made it the warmer. Besidesas it was kept with the utmostneatnessthe dishesplatesand coppersbeing well scouredandall disposed in bright rows on the shelvesthe eve was agreeablyrelievedand did not want richer furniture. There were three otherapartmentsone for my wife and meanother for our two daughterswithin our ownand the thirdwith two bedsfor the rest of thechildren.
The little republicto which I gave lawswas regulated in the following manner: bysunrise we all assembled in our own common apartment; the fire beingpreviously kindled by the servant. After we had saluted each otherwith proper ceremonyfor I always thought fit to keep up somemechanical forms of good-breedingwithout which freedom ever destroysfriendshipwe all bent in gratitude to that Being who gave usanother day. This duty being performedmy son and I went to pursueour usual industry abroadwhile my wife and daughters employedthemselves in providing breakfastwhich was always ready at acertain time. I allowed half an hour for this mealand an hour fordinner; which time was taken up in innocent mirth between my wife anddaughtersand in philosophical arguments between my son and me.
As we rose with the sunso we never pursued ourlabors after it was gone downbut returned home to the expectingfamily; where smiling looksa neat hearthand pleasant fire wereprepared for our reception. Nor were we without guests; sometimesfarmer Flamboroughour talkative neighborand often the blindpiperwould pay us a visitand taste our gooseberry wine; for themaking of which we had lost neither the receipt nor the reputation.These harmless people had several ways of being good company; whileone playedthe other would sing some soothing ballad-JohnnyArmstrong's Last Good-nightor The Cruelty of Barbara Allen. Thenight was concluded in the manner we began the morningmy youngestboys being appointed to read the lessons of the dayand he that readloudestdistinctestand bestwas to have a halfpenny on Sunday toput into the poor's box.
When Sunday cameitwas indeed a day of finerywhich all my sumptuary edicts could notrestrain. How well soever I fancied my lectures against pride hadconquered the vanity of my daughtersyet I found them still secretlyattached to all their former finery; they still loved lacesribandsbuglesand catgut; my wife herself retained a passion for hercrimson paduasoybecause I formerly happened to say it became her.
The first Sundayinparticulartheir behavior served to mortify me: I had desired mygirls the preceding night to be dressed early the next day; for Ialways loved to be at church a good while before the rest of thecongregation. They punctually obeyed my directions; but when we wereto assemble in the morning at breakfastdown came my wife anddaughters dressed out in all their former splendor: their hairplastered up with pomatumtheir faces patched to tastetheir trainsbundled up in a heap behindand rustling at every motion. I couldnot help smiling at their vanityparticularly that of my wifefromwhom I expected more discretion. In this exigencethereforemy onlyresource was to order our sonwith an important airto call ourcoach. The girls were amazed at the command; but I repeated it withmore solemnity than before.-"Surelymy dearyou jest"cried my wife; "we can walk it perfectly well: we want no coachto carry us now."-"You mistakechild" returned I"we do want a coach; for if we walk to church in this trimthevery children in the parish will hootafter us.-"Indeed" replied mywife"I always imagined that my Charles was fond of seeing hischildren neat and handsome about him."-" You may be as neatas you please" interrupted I"and I shall love you thebetter for it; but all this is not neatnessbut frippery. Theserufflingsand pinkingsand patchings will only make us hated by thewives of all our neighbors. Nomy children" continued Imoregravely"those gowns may be altered into something of a plainercut; for finery is very unbecoming in us who want the means ofdecency. I do not know whether such flouncing and shredding isbecoming even in the richif we considerupon a moderatecalculationthat the nakedness of the indigent world may be clothedfrom the trimmings of the vain."
This remonstrance had the proper effect; theywent with great composure that very instant to change their dressand the next day I had the satisfaction of finding my daughtersattheir own requestemployed in cutting up their trains into Sundaywaistcoats for Dick and Billthe two little onesandwhat wasstill more satisfactorythe gowns seemed improved by thiscurtailing.
Chapter 5 - A New and Great Acquaintance Introduced-What wePlace Most Hopes upon Generally Proves Most Fatal
AT a small distance from the house mypredecessor had made a seat overshaded by a hedge of hawthorn andhoneysuckle. Herewhen the weather was fine and our labor soonfinishedwe usually sat togetherto enjoy an extensive landscape inthe calm of the evening. Heretoowe drank teawhich now wasbecome an occasional banquetand as we had it but seldomitdiffused a new joythe preparations for it being made with no smallshare of bustle and ceremony. On these occasions our two little onesalways read to usand they were regularly served after we had done.Sometimesto give a variety to our amusementsthe girls sang to theguitarand while they thus formed a little concertmy wife and Iwould stroll down the sloping fieldthat was embellished withbluebells and centaurytalk of our children with raptureand enjoythe breeze that wafted both health and harmony.
In this manner webegan to find that every situation in life might bring its ownpeculiar pleasures: everymorning waked us to a repetition of toil;but the evening repaid it with vacant hilarity.
It was about thebeginning of autumnon a holidayfor I kept such as intervals ofrelaxation from laborthat I had drawn out my family to our usualplace of amusementand our young musicians began their usualconcert. As we were thus engaged we saw a stag bound nimbly bywithin about twenty paces of where we were sittingand by itspanting it seemed pressed by the hunters. We had not much time toreflect upon the poor animal's distresswhen we perceived the dogsand horsemen come sweeping along at some distance behindand makingthe very path it had taken. I was instantly for returning in with myfamily; but either curiosity or surpriseor some more hidden motiveheld my wife and daughters to their seats. The huntsman who rodeforemost passed us with great swiftnessfollowed by four or fivepersons morewho seemed in great haste. At last a young gentleman ofa more genteel appearance than the rest came forwardand for a whileregarding usinstead of pursuing the chasestopped shortandgiving his horse to a servant who attendedapproached us with acarelesssuperior air. He seemed to want no introductionbut wasgoing to salute my daughters as one certain of a kind reception; butthey had early learned the lesson of looking presumption out ofcountenance. Upon which he let us know his name was Thornhillandthat he was owner ofthe estate that lay f or some extent around us. He againthereforeoffered to salute the female part of the family; and such was thepower of fortune and fine clothes that he found no second repulse. Ashis addressthough confidentwas easywe
soon became more familiarandperceiving musical instruments lying nearhe begged to be favoredwith a song. As I did not approve of such disproportionedacquaintancesI winked upon my daughtersin order to prevent theircompliance; but my hint was counteracted by one from their mothersothat with a cheerfulair they gave us a favorite song ofDryden's. Mr. Thornhill seemed highly delighted with theirperformance and choiceand then took up the guitar himself. Heplayed but very indifferently; howevermy eldest daughter repaid hisformer applause with interest and assured him that those tones werelouder than even those of her master. At this compliment he bowedwhich she returned with a courtesy. He praised her tasteand shecommended his understanding: an age could not have made them betteracquainted; while the fond mothertooequally happyinsisted uponher landlord's stepping in and tasting a glass of her gooseberry. Thewhole family seemed earnest to please him; my girls attempted toentertain him with topics they thought most modernwhile Mosesonthe contrarygave him a question or two from the ancientsfor whichhe had the satisfaction of being laughed at. My little ones were noless busyand fondly stuck close to the stranger. All my endeavorscould scarcely keep their dirty fingers from handling and tarnishingthe lace on his clothesand lifting up the flaps of his pocketholesto see what was there. At the approach of evening he took leave; butnot until he had requested permission to renew his visitwhichashe was our landlordwe most readily agreed to.
As soon as he wasgonemy wife called a council on the conduct of the day. She was ofopinionthat it was a most fortunate hit; for she had known even stranger thingsat last brought to bear. She hoped again to see the day in which wemight hold up our heads with the best of them; and concludedsheprotested she could see no reason why the two Miss Wrinkles shouldmarry great fortunes and her children get none. As this last argumentwas directed to meI protested I could see no reason for it eithernor why Mr. Simkins got the ten thousand pound prize in the lotteryand we sat down with a blank. "I protest Charles" cried mywife"this is the way you always damp my girls and me when weare in spirits. Tell meSophymy dearwhat do you think of our newvisitor? Don't you think he seemed to be good-natured?"
"Immenselysoindeedmamma" replied she. "I think he has a greatdeal to say upon every thingand is never at a loss; and the moretrifling the subjectthe more he has to say"-"Yes"cried Olivia"he is well enough for a man; but for my partIdon't much like himhe is so extremely impudent and familiar; but onthe guitar he is shocking." These two last speeches Iinterpreted by contraries. I found by this that Sophia internallydespised as much as Olivia secretly admired him. "Whatever maybe your opinion of himmy children" cried I"to confessthe truthhe has not prepossessed me in his favor. Disproportionedfriendships ever terminate in disgustand I thoughtnotwithstandingall his easethat he seemed perfectly sensible of the distancebetween us. Let us keep to companions of ourown rank. There is no character morecontemptible than a man that is a fortune-hunter; and I can see noreason why fortune-hunting women should not be contemptible too.Thusat bestwe shall be contemptible if his views be honorable;but if they be otherwise! I should shudder but to think of that! Itis true I have no apprehensions f rom the conduct of my children; butI think there are some from his character." I would haveproceededbut f or the interruption of a servant f rom the 'Squirewhowith his complimentssent a side of venisonand a promise todine with us some days after. This well-timed present pleaded morepowerfully in his favor than any thing I had to say could obviate. Itherefore continued silentsatisfied with just having pointed outdangerand leaving it to their own discretion to avoid it. Thatvirtue which requires to be ever guardedis scarcely worth thesentinel.
Chapter 6 - The Happiness of a Country Fireside
As we carried on the former dispute with somedegree of warmthin order to accommodate mattersit was universallyagreed that we should have a part of the venison for supperand thegirls undertook the task with alacrity. "I am sorry" criedI"that we have no neighbor or stranger to take a part in thisgood cheer: feasts of this kind acquire a double relish fromhospitality."-"Bless me" cried my wife"herecomes our good friendMr. Burchellthat saved our Sophiaand thatran you down fairly in the argument."
"Confute me inargumentchild!" cried I. "You mistake theremy dear. Ibelieve there are but few that can do that. I never dispute yourabilities at making a goose-pieand I beg you'll leave argument tome." As I spokepoor Mr. Burchell entered the houseand waswelcomed by the familywho shook him heartily by the handwhilelittle Dick officiously reached him a chair.
I was pleased withthe poor man's friendship for two reasons: because I knew that hewanted mineand I knew him to befriendly as far as he was able. He was known in our neighborhood bythe character of the poor gentleman that would do no good when he wasyoungthough he was not yet thirty. He would at intervals talk withgreat good-sense; but in general he was fondest of the company ofchildrenwhom he used to call harmless little men. He was famousI
foundfor singing themballads and telling them storiesand seldom went out withoutsomething in his pockets for them; a piece of gingerbread or ahalfpenny whistle. He generally came for a few days into ourneighborhood once a year and lived upon the neighbors' hospitality.He sat down to supper among usand my wife was not sparing of hergooseberry wine. The tale went round; he sang us old songsand gavethe children the story of The Buck of Beverlandwith the history of Patient Grisseltheadventures of Catskinand then Fair Rosamond's Bower. Our cockwhich always crew at elevennow told us it was time to repose; butan unforeseen difficulty started about lodging the stranger: all ourbeds were already taken upand it was too late to send him to thenext ale-house. In this dilemmalittle Dick offered him his part ofthe bedif his brother Moses would let him lie with him. "AndI" cried Bill"will give Mr. Burchell my partif mysisters will take me to theirs."-"Well donemy goodchildren" cried I; "hospitality is one of the firstChristian duties. The beast retires to its shelterand the birdflies to its nestbut helpless man can only find refuge from hisfellow creature. The greatest stranger in the worldwas He that cameto save it. He never had a houseas if willing to see whathospitality was left remaining amongst us. Deborahmy dear"cried I to my wife"give those boys a lump of sugar each; andlet Dick's be the largest because he spoke first."
In the morning earlyI called out my whole family to help at saving an after-growth ofhayand our guest offering his assistancehe was accepted among thenumber. Our labors went on lightly; we turned the swath to the wind.I went foremostand the rest followed in due succession. I could notavoidhoweverobserving the assiduity of Mr. Burchell in assistingmy daughter Sophia in her part of the task. When he had finishedhis ownhe would join in hersand enter into a close conversation;but I had too good an opinion of Sophia's understandingand was toowell convinced of her ambitionto be under uneasiness from a man ofbroken fortune. When we were finished for the dayMr. Burchell wasinvited as on the night before; but he refusedas he was to lie thatnight at a neighbor'sto whose child he was carrying a whistle. Whengoneour conversation at supper turned upon our late unfortunateguest. "What a strong instance" said I"is that poorman of the miseries attending a youth of levity and extravagance! Heby no means wants sensewhich only serves to aggravate his formerfolly. Poor forlorn creaturewhere are now the revellerstheflatterersthat he could once inspire and command! Goneperhapstoattend the bagnio pandergrown rich by his extravagance. They oncepraised himand now they applaud the pander; their former rapturesat his wit are now converted into sarcasms at his folly: he is poorand perhaps deserves poverty: for he has neither the ambition to beindependentnor the skill to be useful." Prompted perhaps bysome secret reasonsI delivered this observation with too muchacrimonywhich my Sophia gently reproved. "Whatsoever hisformer conduct may have beenpapahis circumstances should exempthim from censure now. His present indigence is a sufficientpunishment for former folly; and I have heard my papa himself saythat weshould never strike one unnecessary blow ata victim over whom Providence holds the scourge of itsresentment."-"You are rightSophy" cried my sonMoses"and one of the ancients finely represents so malicious aconductby the attempts of a rustic to flay Marsyaswhose skinthefable tells ushad been wholly stripped off by another. BesidesIdon't know if this poor man's situation be so bad as my father wouldrepresent it. We are not to judge of the feelings of othersby whatwe might feel if in their place. However dark the habitation of themole to our eyesyet the animal itself finds the apartmentsufficiently lightsome; andto confess a truththis man's mindseems fitted to his station; for I never heard any one more sprightlythan he was to-day when he conversed with you." This was saidwithout the least design; howeverit excited a blushwhich shestrove to cover by an affected laughassuring him that she scarcelytook any notice of what he said to her; but that she believed hemight once have been a very fine gentleman. The readiness with whichshe undertook to vindicate herselfand her blushingwere symptoms Idid not internally approve; but I repressed my suspicions.
As we expected ourlandlord the next daymy wife went to make the venison pasty. Mosessat readingwhile I taught the little ones; my daughters seemedequally busy with the rest; and I observed them for a good whilecooking something over the fire. I at firstsupposed they were assisting their mother;but little Dick informed me in a whisperthat they were making awash for the face. Washes of all kinds I had a natural antipathy to;for I knew that instead of mending the complexion they spoiled it. Itherefore approached my chair by sly degrees to the fireandgrasping the pokeras if it wanted mendingseemingly by accidentoverturned the whole compositionand it was too late to beginanother.
Chapter 7 - A Town Wit Described-The Dullest Fellows may Learnto be Comical for a Night or Two
WHEN the morningarrived on which we were to entertain our young landlordit may beeasily supposed what provisions were exhausted to make an appearance.It may also be conjectured that my wife and daughters expanded theirgayest plumage upon this occasion. Mr. Thornhill came with a coupleof friendshis chaplain and feeder. The servantswho were numeroushe politely ordered to the next ale-house; but my wifein thetriumph of her heartinsisted on entertaining them all; for whichby the byour family was pinched for three weeks after. As Mr.Burchell had hinted to us the day before that he was making proposalsof marriage to Miss Wilmotmy son George's former mistressthis agood deal damped the heartiness of his reception; but accidentinsome measurerelieved our embarrassmentfor one of the companyhappening to mention her nameMr. Thornhill observed with an oaththat he never knew anything more absurd than calling such a fright abeauty"Forstrike me ugly!" continued he"ifI should not find as much pleasure in choosing my mistress by theinformation of a lamp under the clock at St. Dunstan's." At thishe laughedand so did we:-the jests of the rich are ever successful.Oliviatoocould not avoid whispering loud enough to be heardthathe had an infinite fund of humor.
After dinner I beganwith my usual toastthe Church. For this I was thanked by thechaplainas he said the Church was the only mistress of hisaffections. "Cometell us honestlyFrank" said the'Squirewith his usual archness"suppose the Churchyourpresent mistressdressed in lawn sleeveson one handand MissSophiawith no lawn about heron the otherwhich would you befor?"-"For bothto be sure" cried thechaplain.-"RightFrank" cried the 'Squire; "for maythis glass suffocate mebut a fine girl is worth all the priestcraftin the creation. For what are tithes and tricks but an impositionall a confounded impostureand I can prove it!"-"I wishyou would" cried my son Moses; "and I think"continued he"that I should be able to answer you."-"Verywellsir" cried the 'Squirewho immediately smoked himandwinking on the rest of the companyto prepare us for the sport"ifyou are for a cool argument upon that subjectI am ready to acceptthe challenge. And firstwhether are you for managing itanalogicallyor dialogically?"-"I am for managing itrationally" cried Mosesquitehappy at being permitted to dispute."Good again" cried the'Squire; "and firstlyof the first. I hope you'll not deny thatwhatever isis. If you don't grant me thatI can go nofurther."
"Why" returned Moses"I think I maygrant thatand make the best of it."-"I hope too"returned the other"you'll grant that a part is less than thewhole."-"I grant that too" cried Moses; "it isbut just and reasonable."-"I hope" cried the 'Squire"you will not deny that the three angles of a triangle are equalto two right ones."-"Nothing can be plainer" returnedt'otherand looked round with his usual importance.-"Verywell" cried the 'Squirespeaking very quickly; "thepremises being thus settledI proceed to observe that theconcatenation of self-existenceproceeding in a reciprocal duplicaterationaturally produces a problematical dialogismwhich in somemeasure proves that the essence of spirituality may be referred tothe second predicable."-"Holdhold!" cried the other"I deny that. Do you think I can thus tamely submit to suchheterodox doctrines?"
"What!" replied the 'Squireasif in a passion"not submit! Answer me one plain question: Doyou think Aristotle right when he says that relatives arerelated?"-"Undoubtedly" replied the other.-"Ifsothen" cried the 'Squire"answer me directly to what Ipropose: Whether do you judge the analytical investigation of thefirst part of my enthymem deficient secundumquoador quoad minusand give me yourreasons: give me your reasonsI saydirectly."-"Iprotest!" cried Moses. "I don't rightly comprehend theforce of your reasoning; but if it be reduced to one simplepropositionI fancy it may then have an answer."-"O sir!"cried the 'Squire"I am your most humble servant; I find youwant me to furnish you with argument and intellects too. Nosirthere I protest you are too hard for me." This effectuallyraised the laugh against poor Moseswho sat the only dismal figurein a group of merry faces; nor did he offer a single syllable moreduring the whole entertainment.
But though all this gave me no pleasureit hada very different effect upon Oliviawho mistook it for humorthoughbut a mere act of the memory. She thought himthereforea very finegentlemanand such as consider what powerful ingredients a goodfigurefine clothesand fortune are in that characterwill easilyforgive her. Mr. Thornhillnotwithstanding his real ignorancetalked with easeand could expatiate upon the common topics ofconversation with fluency. It is not surprisingthenthat suchtalents should win the affections of a girl who by education wastaught to value an appearance in herselfand consequently to set avalue upon it in another.
Upon his departurewe again entered into a debate upon the merits of our young landlord.As he directed his looks and conversation to Oliviait was no longerdoubted but that she was the object thatinduced him to be our visitor. Nor did she seem to be much displeasedat the innocent raillery of her brother and sister upon thisoccasion. Even Deborah herself seemed to share the glory of the dayand exulted in her daughter's victory as if it were her own. "Andnowmy dear" cried she to me"I'll fairly own that itwas I that instructed my girls to encourage our landlord's addresses.I had always some ambitionand you now see that I was right; f orwho knows how this may end?"-"Aywho knows that indeed!"answered Iwith a groan. "For my partI don't like itand Icould have been better pleased with one that was poor and honestthan this fine gentleman with his fine fortune and infidelity; fordepend on 'tif he be what I suspect himno freethinker shall everhave a child of mine. "
"Surefather" cried Moses"youare too severe in this: for Heaven will never arraign him for what hethinksbut for what he does. Every man has a thousand viciousthoughtswhich arise without his power to suppress. Thinking freelyof religion may be involuntary with this gentleman; so that allowinghis sentiments to be wrongyet as he is purely passive in hisassenthe is no more to be blamed for his errorsthan the governorof a city without walls for the shelter he is obliged to afford aninvading enemy."
"Truemy son"cried I; "but if the governor invitesthe enemy therehe is justly culpable. Andsuch is always the case with those who embrace error. The vice doesnot lie in assenting to the proof s they seebut in being blind tomany of the proof s that offer. So that though our erroneous opinionsbe involuntary when formedyet as we have been wilfully corruptorvery negligent in forming themwe deserve punishment for our viceor contempt for our folly."
My wife now kept up the conversationthough notthe argument. She observed that several very prudent men of ouracquaintance were freethinkers and made very good husbands; and sheknew some sensible girls that had skill enough to make converts oftheir spouses. "And who knowsmy dear" continued she"what Olivia may be able to do? The girl has a great deal tosay-upon every subjectand to my knowledge is very skilled incontroversy."
"Whymy dearwhat controversy can shehave read?" cried I. "It does not occur to me that I everput such books into her hands; you certainly overrate her merit."
"Indeedpapa" replied Olivia"shedoes not. I have read a great deal of controversy. I have read thedisputes between Thwackum and Squarethe controversy betweenRobinson Crusoe and Friday the savageand I am now employed inreading the controversy in 'Religious Courtship.'"
"Very well" cried I"that's agood girl; I find you are perfectly qualified for making convertsand so go help your mother to make the gooseberry-pie."
Chapter 8 - An Amour Which Promises Little Good Fortune; yet MayBe Productive of Much
THE next morning we were again visited by Mr.Burchellthough I beganfor certain reasonsto be displeased withthe frequency of his return; but I could not refuse him my companyand fireside. It is true his labor more than requited hisentertainmentfor he wrought among us with vigorand either in themeadow or at the hay-rick put himself foremost. Besideshe hadalways something amusing to say that lessened our toiland was atonce so out of the wayand yet so sensiblethat I lovedlaughedatand pitied him. My only dislike arose from an attachment hediscovered to my daughter. He wouldin a jesting mannercall herhis little mistressand when he bought each of the girls a set ofribandshers was the finest. I knew not howbut he every day seemedto become more amiablehis wit to improveand his simplicity toassume the superior airs of wisdom.
Our family dined inthe fieldand we sator rather reclinedround a temperate repastour cloth spread upon the haywhile Mr. Burchell gave cheerfulness to the feast. To heighten oursatisfactiontwo blackbirds answered each other from oppositehedgesthe familiar redbreast came and pecked the crumbs from ourhandsand every sound seemed but the echo of tranquillity. "Inever sit thus" said Sophia"but I think of the twolovers so sweetly described by Mr. Graywho were struck dead in eachother's arms. There is something so pathetic in the descriptionthatI have read it a hundred times with new rapture."
"In myopinion" cried my son"the finest strokes in thatdescription are much below those in the 'Acis and Galatea' of Ovid.The Roman poet understands the use of contrast betterand upon thatfigure artfully managedall strength in the pathetic depends."@@ "It is remarkable" cried Mr. Burchell"that boththe poets you mention have equally contributed to introduce a falsetaste into their respective countriesby loading all their lineswith epithet. Men of little genius found them most easily imitated intheir defectsand English poetrylike that in the later empire ofRomeis nothing at present but a combination of luxuriant imageswithout plot or connection; a string of epithets that improve thesoundwithout carrying on the sense. But perhapsmadamwhile Ithus reprehend othersyou'll think it just that I should give theman opportunity to retaliateand indeed I have made this remark onlyto have an opportunity of introducing to the companya balladwhichwhatever be its otherdefectsisI thinkat least free from those I have mentioned."
1: "Turngentle Hermitof the Dale
2: And guide my lonely way
3: Towhere yon taper cheers the vale
4: With hospitable ray.
5: "For here forlorn and lost I tread
6: Withfainting steps and slow;
7: Where wildsimmeasurablyspread
8: Seem length'ning as I go."
9:"Forbearmy son" the Hermit cries
10: "Totempt the dangerous gloom;
11: For yonder faithlessphantom flies
12: To lure thee to thy doom.
13:"Here to the houseless child of want
14: My dooris open still;
15: And though my portion is but scant
16: I give it with good-will.
17: "Thenturn to-night and freely share
18: Whate'er my cellbestows;
19: My rushy couch and frugal fare
20: Myblessing and repose.
21: "No flocks that range thevalley free
22: To slaughter I condemn;
23: Taughtby that Power that pities me
24: I learn to pity them:
25: "But from the mountain's grassy side
26:A guiltless feast I bring;
27: A scrip with herbs andfruit supplied
28: And water from the spring.
29: "Thenpilgrimturnthy cares forego;
30: All earth-born cares are wrong;
31:Man wants but little here below
32: Nor wants thatlittle long."
33: Soft as the dew fromHeav'n descends
34: His gentle accents fell ;
35:The modest stranger lowly bends
36: And follows tothe cell.
37: Far in a wilderness obscure
38: Thelonely mansion lay;
39: A refuge to the neighboring poor
40: And strangers led astray.
41: Nostores beneath its humble thatch
42: Requir'd a master'scare;
43: The wicketopening with a latch
44:Receiv'd the harmless pair.
45: And nowwhen busycrowds retire
46: To take their ev'ning rest;
47:The Hermit trimm'd his little fire
48: And cheer'dhis pensive guest;
49: And spread his vegetable store
50: And gayly press'd and smil'd;
51: Andskill'd in legendary lore
52: The ling'ring hoursbeguiled.
53: Aroundin sympathetic mirth
54: Itstricks the kitten tries
55: The cricket chirrups in thehearth
56: The crackling faggot flies.
57: Butnothing could a charm impart
58: To soothe the stranger'swoe;
59: For grief was heavy at his heart
60: Andtears began to flow.
61: His rising cares the Hermitspied
62: With answ'ring care opprest:
63: "Andwhenceunhappy youth" he cried
64: "Thesorrows of thy breast?
65: "From better habitationsspurn'd
66: Reluctant dost thou rove?
67: Orgrieve for friendship unreturn'd
68: Or unregarded love?
69: "Alas! the joys that fortune brings
70:Are triflingand decay;
71: And those who prize thepaltry things
72: More trifling still than they.
73: "Andwhat is friendship but a name
74: A charm that lulls tosleep;
75: A shade that follows wealth or fame
76:But leaves the wretch to weep?
77: "And love isstill an emptier sound
78: The modern fair one's jest:
79: On earth unseenor only found
80: To warmthe turtle's nest.
81: "For shamefond youththysorrows hush
82: And spurn the sex" he said:
83:But while he spokea rising blush
84: His lovelornguest betray'd.
85: Surprised he sees new beauties rise
86: Swift mantling to the view;
87: Like colorso'er the morning skies
88: As brightas transient too.
89: The bashful lookthe rising breast
90:Alternate spread alarms;
91: The lovely strangerstands confest
92: A maid in all her charms.
93:"And ah! forgive a stranger rude
94: A wretchforlorn!" she cried;
95: "Whose feet unhallow'dthus intrude
96: Where Heaven and you reside.
97:"But let a maid thy pity share
98: Whom love hastaught to stray;
99: Who seeks for restbut finds despair
100: Companion of her way.
101: "My fatherliv'd beside the Tyne
102: A wealthy lord was he;
103:And all his wealth was mark'd as mine
104: He had butonly me.
105: "Towin me from his tender arms
106: Unnumber'd suitors came;
107: Who praised me for imputed charms
108: Andfelt or feign'd a flame.
109: "Each hour a mercenarycrowd
110: With richest proffers strove;
111: Amongthe rest young Edwin bow'd
112: But never talk'd of love.
113: "In humblesimplest habit clad
114: Nowealth nor power had he;
115: Wisdom and worth were all hehad
116: But these were all to me.
117: "Andwhenbeside me in the dale
118: He caroll'd lays oflove
119: His breath lent fragrance to the gale
120:And music to the grove.
121: "The blossom openingto the day
122: The dews of Heav'n refined
123:Could nought of purity display
124: To emulate hismind.
125: "The dewthe blossom on the tree
126:With charms inconstant shine;
127: Their charms werehisbut woe to me!
128: Their constancy was mine.
129:"For still I tried each fickle art
130: Importunateand vain;
131: And while his passion touch'd my heart
132: I triumph'd in his pain.
133: "Tillquite dejected with my scorn
134: He left me to my pride;
135: And sought a solitude forlorn
136: Insecret where he died.
137: "But mine the sorrowmine the fault
138: And well my life shall pay;
139:I'll seek the solitude he sought
140: And stretch mewhere he lay.
141: "And there forlorn despairing hid
142: I'll lay me down and die;
143: 'T was sofor me that Edwin did
144: And so for him will I."
145: "Forbid itHeav'n!" the Hermit cried
146: And clasp'd her to his breast;
147: Thewond'ring fair one turn'd to chide-
148: 'T was Edwin'sself that prest.
149: "TurnAngelinaever dear
150: My charmerturn to see
151: Thy ownthylong-lost Edwin here
152: Restor'd to love and thee.
153: "Thus let me hold thee to my heart
154:And ev'ry care resign;
155: And shall we neverneverpart
156: My life-my all that's mine?
157: "Noneverfrom this hour to part
158: We'll live and love sotrue;
159: The sigh that rends thy constant heart
160:Shall break thy Edwin's too."
While this ballad wasreadingSophia seemed to mix an air of tenderness with herapprobation. But our tranquillity was soon disturbed by the report ofa gun just by usand immediately after a man was seen burstingthrough the hedgeto take up the game he had killed. This sportsmanwas the 'Squire's chaplainwho had shot one of the blackbirds thatso agreeably entertained us.So loud a reportand so nearstartled my daughters; and I couldperceive that Sophiain the frighthad thrown herself into Mr.Burchell's arms for protection. The gentleman came upand askedpardon for having disturbed usaffirming that he was ignorant of ourbeing so near. He therefore sat down by my youngest daughterandsportsman-likeoffered her what he had killed that morning. She wasgoing to refuse; but a private look from her mother soon induced herto correct the mistakeand accept his presentthough with somereluctance. My wifeas usualdiscovered her pride in a whisperobservingthat Sophy had made a conquest of the chaplainas well asher sister had of the 'Squire. I suspectedhoweverwith moreprobabilitythat her affections were placed upon a different object.The chaplain's errand was to inform us that Mr. Thornhill hadprovided music and refreshmentsand intended that night giving theyoung ladies a ball by moonlighton the grass-plot before our door."Nor can I deny" continued he"but I have aninterest in being first to deliver this messageas I expect for myreward to be honored with Miss Sophy's hand as a partner." Tothis my girl repliedthat she should have no objectionif she coulddo it with honor. "But here" continued she"is agentleman" looking at Mr. Burchell"who has been mycompanion in the task of the dayand it is fit he should share inits amusements." Mr. Burchell returned her a complimentfor her intentions; but resigned her up tothe chaplainadding that he was to go that night five milesbeinginvited to a harvest supper. His refusal appeared to be a littleextraordinarynor could I conceive how so sensible a girl as myyoungest could thus prefer a man of broken fortunes to one whoseexpectations were much greater.
But as men are most capable of distinguishingmerit in womenso the ladies often form the truest judgments of us.The two sexes seem placed as spies upon each otherand are furnishedwith different abilitiesadapted for mutual inspection.
Chapter 9 - Two Ladies of Great Distinction Introduced-SuperiorFinery Ever Seems to Confer Superior Breeding
MR. BURCHELL hadscarcely taken leaveand Sophia consented to dance with thechaplainwhen my little ones came running out to tell us that the'Squire was come with a crowd of company. Upon our returnwe foundour landlordwith a couple of under-gentlemen and two young ladiesrichly dressedwhom he introduced as women of very great distinctionand fashion from town. We happened not to have chairs enough for thewhole company; but Mr. Thornhill immediately proposed that everygentleman should sit in a lady's lap. This I positively objected tonotwithstanding a look of disapprobation from my wife. Moses wastherefore sent to borrow a couple of chairs; and as we were in wantof ladies to make up a set at countrydancesthe two gentlemen wentwith him in quest of a couple of partners. Chairs and partners weresoon provided. The gentlemen returned with my neighbor Flamborough'srosy daughtersflaunting with red topknotsBut an unluckycircumstance was not adverted to;though the Miss Flamboroughs were reckoned the very best dancers inthe parishand understood the jig and the round-about to perfectionyet they were totally unacquainted with country-dances. This at firstdiscomposed us; howeverafter a little shoving and draggingthey atlast went merrily on. Our music consisted of two fiddleswith a pipeand tabor. The moon shone bright. Mr. Thornhill and my eldestdaughter led up the ballto the great delight of the spectators; forthe neighbors hearing what was going forwardcame flocking about us.My girl moved with so much grace and vivacitythat my wife could notavoid discovering the pride of her heartby assuring me that thoughthe little chit did it so cleverlyall the steps were stolen fromherself. The ladies of the town strove hard to be equally easybutwithout success. They swamsprawledlanguishedand frisked; butall would not do; the gazers indeed owned that it was fine; butneighbor Flamborough observed that Miss Livy's feet seemed as pat tothe music as its echo. After the dance had continued about an hourthe two ladieswho were apprehensive of catching coldmoved tobreak up the ball. One of themI thoughtexpressed her sentimentsupon this occasion in a very coarse mannerwhen she observed that bythe "living jingoshe was all of a muck of sweat." Uponour return to the housewe found a very elegant cold supperwhichMr. Thornhill had ordered to be brought with him. Theconversation at this time was more reserved than before. The twoladies threw my girls quite into the shade; for they would talk ofnothing but high lifeand high-lived company; with other fashionabletopicssuch as picturestasteShakespeareand the musicalglasses. 'Tis truethey once or twice mortified us sensibly byslipping out an oath; but that appeared to me as the surest symptomof their distinction (though I am since informed that swearing isperfectly unfashionable). Their fineryhoweverthrew a veil overany grossness in their conversation. My daughters seemed to regardtheir superior accomplishments with envy; and what appeared amiss wasascribed to tip-top quality breeding. But the condescension of theladies was still superior to their other accomplishments. One of themobserved that were Miss Olivia to see a little more of the worlditwould greatly improve her: to which the other added that a singlewinter in town would make little Sophia quite another thing. My wifewarmly assented to both; adding that there was nothing she moreardently wished than to give her girls a single winter's polishing.To this I could not help replying that their breeding was alreadysuperior to their fortune; and that greater refinement would onlyserve to make their poverty ridiculousand give them a taste forpleasures they had no right to possess. "And what pleasures"cried Mr. Thornhill"do they not deserve to possesswho haveso much in their power to bestow? As for mypart" continued he"my fortune is pretty large; lovelibertyand pleasureare my maxims; but curse meif a settlementof half my estate could give my charming Olivia pleasureit shouldbe hers; and the only favor I would ask in return would be to addmyself to the benefit." I was not such a stranger to the worldas to be ignorant that this was the fashionable cant to disguise theinsolence of the basest proposal; but I made an effort to suppress myresentment. "Sir" cried I"the family which you nowcondescend to favor with your company has been bred with as nice asense of honor as you. Any attempts to injure that may be attendedwith very dangerous consequences. Honorsiris our only possessionat presentand of that last treasure we must be particularlycareful." I was soon sorry for the warmth in which I had spokenthiswhen the young gentlemangrasping my handswore he commendedmy spiritthough he disapproved my suspicions. "As to yourpresent hint" continued he"I protest nothing was fartherfrom my heart than such a thought. Noby all that's temptingthevirtue that will stand a regular siege was never to my taste; for allmy amours are carried by a coup de main"
The two ladieswhoaffected to be ignorant of the restseemed highly displeased withthis last stroke of freedomand began a very discreet and seriousdialogue upon virtue: in this my wifethe chaplainandI soon joined; and the 'Squire himself wasat last brought to confess a sense of sorrow for his former excesses.We talked of the pleasures of temperanceand of the sunshine in themind unpolluted with guilt. I was so well pleasedthat my littleones were kept up beyond the usual time to be edified by so much goodconversation. Mr. Thornhill even went beyond meand demanded if Ihad any objection to giving prayers. I joyfully embraced theproposaland in this manner the night was passed in a mostcomfortable waytill at last the company began to think ofreturning. The ladies seemed very unwilling to part with mydaughtersfor whom they had conceived a particular affectionandjoined in a request to have the pleasure of their company home. The'Squire seconded the proposaland my wife added her entreaties; thegirlstoolooked upon me as if they wished to go. In thisperplexity I made two or three excuses which my daughters as readilyremovedso that at last I was obliged to give a peremptory refusalfor which we had nothing but sullen looks and short answers the wholeday ensuing.
Chapter 10 - The Family Endeavors to Cope with Their Betters-TheMiseries of the Poor When they Attempt to Appear above TheirCircumstances
I Now began to find that all my long and painfullectures upon temperancesimplicityand contentment were entirelydisregarded. The distinctions lately paid us by our betters awakenedthat pride which I had laid asleepbut not removed. Our windowsagainas formerlywere filled with washes for the neck and face.The sun was dreaded as an enemy to the skin without doorsand thefire as a spoiler of the complexion within. My wife observed thatrising too early would hurt her daughters' eyesthat working afterdinner would redden their nosesand she convinced me that the handsnever looked so white as when they did nothing. Insteadthereforeof finishing George's shirtswe now had them new-modeling their oldgauzesor flourishing upon catgut. The poor Miss Flamboroughstheirformer gay companionswere cast off as mean acquaintanceand thewhole conversation ran upon high life and high-lived companywithpicturestasteShakespeareand the musical glasses.
But we could have borne all thishad not afortunetelling gypsy come to raise us into perfect sublimity. Thetawny sibyl no sooner appeared than my girls came running to me for ashilling apieceto cross her hand with silver. To say the truthIwas tired of being always wiseand could not help gratifying theirrequestbecause I loved to see them happy. I gave each of them ashillingthoughfor the honor of the familyit must be observedthat they never went without money themselvesas my wife alwaysgenerously let them have a guinea each to keep in their pocketsbutwith strict injunctions never to change it. After they had beencloseted up with the fortune-teller for some timeI knew by theirlooksupon their returningthat they had been promised somethinggreat. "Wellmy girlshow have you sped? Tell meLivyhasthe fortune-teller given thee a pennyworth?"-"I protestpapa" says the girl"I believe she deals with somebodythat is not rightfor she positively declared that I am to bemarried to a 'squire in less than a twelvemonth!"-"WellnowSophymy child" said I"and what sort of a husbandare you to have?"Sir" replied she"I am to have alord soon after my sister 'has married the 'squire."-"How"cried I"is that all you are to have for your two shillings!Only a lord and a 'squire for two shillings! You foolsI could havepromised you a prince and a nabob for half the money!"
This curiosity of theirshoweverwas attendedwith very serious effects; we now began to think ourselves designedby the stars to something exaltedand already anticipated our futuregrandeur.
It has been a thousand times observedand Imust observe it once morethat the hours we pass with happyprospects in view are more pleasing than those crowned with fruition.In the first casewe cook the dish to our own appetite; in thelatternature cooks it for us. It is impossible to repeat the trainof agreeable reveries we called up for our entertainment. We lookedupon our fortunes as once more rising; and as the whole parishasserted that the 'Squire was in love with my daughtershe wasactually so with himfor they persuaded her into the passion. Inthis agreeable interval my wife had the most lucky dreams in theworldwhich she took care to tell us every morning with greatsolemnity and exactness. It was one night a coffin and crossbonesthe sign of an approaching wedding; at another time she imagined herdaughters' pockets filled with farthingsa certain sign of theirbeing shortly stuffed with gold. The girls themselves had theiromens. They felt strange kisses on their lips; they saw rings in thecandle; purses bounced from the fireand true-love knots lurked inthe bottom of every tea-cup.
Towards the end ofthe week we received a card from the town ladiesin whichwiththeir complimentsthey hoped to see all our family at church theSunday following. AllSaturday morningI could perceivein consequence of thismy wifeand daughters in close conference togetherand now and then glancingat me with looks that betrayed a latent plot. To be sincereI hadstrong suspicions that some absurd proposal was preparing forappearing with splendor the next day. In the evening they began theiroperations in a very regular mannerand my wife undertook to conductthe siege. After teawhen I seemed in spiritsshe began thus: "IfancyCharlesmy dearwe shall have a great deal of good companyat our church to-morrow."-"Perhaps we maymy dear"returned I; "though you need be under no uneasiness about thatyou shall have a sermon whether there be or not."
"That iswhat I expect" returned she; "but I thinkmy dearweought to appear there as decently as possiblefor who knows what mayhappen?"-"Your precautions" replied I"arehighly commendable. A decent behavior and appearance in church iswhat charms me. We should be devout and humblecheerful andserene."
"Yes" cried she"I know that; but Imean we should go there in as proper a manner as possible; notaltogether like the scrubs about us."-"You are quite rightmy dear" returned I"and I was going to make the verysame proposal. The proper manner of going is to go there as early aspossibleto have time for meditation before the servicebegins."-"PhooCharles!" interrupted she; "allthat is very truebutnot what I would be at. I mean we should gothere genteelly. You know the church is two miles offand I protestI don't like to see my daughters trudging up to their pew all blowzedand red with walkingand looking for all the world as if they hadbeen winners at a smock race. Nowmy dearmy proposal is this:there are our two plough horsesthe colt that has been in our familythese nine yearsand his companion Blackberrythat has scarcelydone an earthly thing for this month past. They are both grown fatand lazy. Why should not they do something as well as we? And let metell youwhen Moses has trimmed them a littlethey will cut a verytolerable figure."
To this proposal Iobjected that walking would be twenty times more genteel than such apaltry conveyanceas Blackberry was wall-eyed and the colt wanted atail; that they had never been broke to the reinbut had a hundredvicious tricks; and that we had but one saddle and pillion in thewhole house. All these objectionshoweverwere overruled; so that Iwas obliged to comply. The next morning I perceived them not a littlebusy in collecting such materials as might be necessary for theexpeditionbut as I found it would be a business of timeI walkedon to the church beforeand they promised speedily to follow. Iwaited near an hour in the reading-desk for their arrivalbut notfinding them come as I expectedI was obliged to beginand wentthrough the servicenot withoutsome uneasiness at finding them absent. Thiswas increased when all was finishedand no appearance of the family.I therefore walked back by the horse-waywhich was five miles roundthough the foot-way was but twoand when I got about half-way homeperceived the procession marching slowly forward towards the church;my sonmy wife and the two little ones exalted upon one horseandmy two daughters upon the other. I demanded the cause of their delay;but I soon found by their looks they had met with a thousandmisfortunes on the road. The horses had at first refused to move fromthe doortill Mr. Burchell was kind enough to beat them forward forabout two hundred yards with his cudgel. Nextthe straps of mywife's pillion broke downand they were obliged to stop to repairthem before they could proceed. After thatone of the horses took itinto his bead to stand stilland neither blows nor entreaties couldprevail with him to proceed. They were just recovering from thisdismal situation when I found them; but perceiving every thing safeI own their present mortification did not much displease meas itwould give me many opportunities of future triumphand teach mydaughters more humility.
Chapter 11 - The Family Still Resolve to Hold Up Their Heads
MICHAELMAS-EVEhappening on the next daywewere invited to burn nuts and play tricks at neighbor Flamborough's.Our late mortifications had humbled us a littleor it is probable wemight have rejected such an invitation with contempt; howeverwesuffered ourselves to be happy. Our honest neighbor's goose anddumplings were fineand the lamb's-wooleven in the opinion of mywifewho was a connoisseurwas excellent. It is true his manner oftelling stories was not quite so well; they were very long and verydulland all about himselfand we had laughed at them ten timesbefore; howeverwe were kind enough to laugh at them once more.
Mr. Burchellwho wasof the partywas always fond of seeing some innocent amusement goingforwardand set the boys and girls to blind-man's-buff. My wifetoowas persuaded to join in the diversionand it gave me pleasureto think she was not yet too old. In the meantime my neighbor and Ilooked onlaughed at every featand praised our owndexterity when we were young. Hot cockles succeeded nextquestionsand commands followed thatandlast of allthey sat down to huntthe slipper. As every person may not be acquainted with this primevalpastimeit may be necessary to observe that the company at this playplanted themselves in a ring upon the groundall except onewhostands in the middlewhose business it is to catch a shoe which thecompany shove about under their hams from one to anothersomethinglike a weaver's shuttle. As it is impossible in this case for thelady who is up to face all the company at oncethe great beauty ofthe play lies in hitting her a thump with the heel of the shoe onthat side least capable of making a defence. It was in this mannerthat my eldest daughter was hemmed in and thumped aboutall blowzedin spiritsand bawling for fair playwith a voice that might deafena ballad-singerwhenconfusion on confusionwho should enter theroom but our two great acquaintances from townLady Blarney and MissCarolina Wilhelmina Amelia Skeggs! Description would but beggartherefore it is unnecessary to describe this new mortification.Death! To be seen by ladies of such high breeding in such vulgarattitudes! Nothing better could ensue from such a vulgar play of Mr.Flamborough's proposing. We seemed stuck to the ground for some timeas if actually petrified with amazement.
The two ladies had been at our house to see usand finding us f rom homecame after us hitheras they were uneasyto know what accident could have kept us from the church the daybefore. Olivia undertook to be our prolocutorand delivered thewhole in a summary wayonly saying: "We were thrown from ourhorses." At which account the ladies were greatly concerned; butbeing told the family received no hurtthey were extremely glad; butbeing informed that we were almost killed by the frightthey werevastly sorry; but hearing that we had a very good nightthey wereextremely glad again. Nothing could exceed their complaisance to mydaughters; their professions the last evening were warmbut now theywere ardent. They protested a desire of having a more lastingacquaintance; Lady Blarney was particularly attached to Olivia; MissCarolina Wilhelmina Amelia Skeggs (I love to give the whole name)took a greater fancy to her sister. They supported the conversationbetween themselveswhile my daughters sat silentadmiring theirexalted breeding. But as every readerhowever beggarly himselfisfond of high-lived dialogueswith anecdotes of LordsLadiesandKnights of the GarterI must beg leave to give him the concludingpart of the present conversation.
"All that I knowof the matter" cried Miss Skeggs"is thisthat it may betrueor it may not be true; but this I can assure your Ladyshipthat the whole routwas in amaze; his Lordship turned all mannerof colorsmy Lady fell into a swoonbut Sir Tomkyndrawing hisswordswore he was hers to the last drop of his blood."
"Well" replied our Peeress"thisI can saythat the Duchess never told me a syllable of the matterand I believe her Grace would keep nothing a secret from me. This youmay depend upon as factthat the next morning my Lord Duke cried outthree times to his valetde-chambre: 'JerniganJerniganJerniganbring me my garters!' "
But previously I should have mentioned the veryimpolite behavior of Mr. Burchellwhoduring this discoursesatwith his face turned to the fireand at the conclusion of everysentence would cry out "Fudge!"-an expression whichdispleased us alland in some measure damped the rising spirit ofthe conversation.
"Besidesmy dear Skeggs" continuedour Peeress"there is nothing of this in the copy of versesthat Doctor Burdock made upon the occasion." Fudge!
"I am surprised at that" cried MissSkeggs; "for he seldom leaves anything outas he writes onlyfor his own amusement. But can your Ladyship favor me with a sight ofthem?" Fudge!
"My dearcreature" replied our Peeress"do you think I carry suchthings about me? Though they are very fine to be sureand I thinkmyself something of ajudge; at leastI know what pleases myself.IndeedI was ever an admirer of all Doctor Burdock's little pieces;for except what he doesand our dear Countess at Hanover Squarethere's nothing comes out but the most lowest stuff in nature; not abit of high life among them." Fudge!
"Your Ladyship should except" sayst'other"your own things in the Lady's Magazine. I hope you'llsay there's nothing low-lived there? But I suppose we are to have nomore from that quarter?" Fudge!
"Whymy dear" says the lady"youknow my reader and companion has left me to be married to CaptainRoachand as my poor eyes won't suffer me to write myselfI havebeen for some time looking out for another. A proper person is noeasy matter to findand to be sure thirty pounds a year is a smallstipend for a well-bred girt of characterthat can readwriteandbehave in company; as for the chits about townthere is no bearingthem about one." Fudge!
"That I know" cried Miss Skeggs"byexperience. For of the three companions I had this last half-yearone of them ref used to do plain-work an hour in the dayanotherthought twenty-five guineas a year too small a salaryand I wasobliged to send away the thirdbecause I suspected an intrigue withthe chaplain. Virtuemy dear Lady Blarneyvirtue is worth anyprice; but where is that to be found?" Fudge!
My wife had been fora long time all attention tothis discourse; but was particularly struckwith the latter part of it. Thirty pounds and twenty-five guineas ayear made fifty-six pounds five shilling English moneyall which wasin a manner going a-beggingand might easily be secured in thefamily. She for a moment studied my looks f or approbation; andtoown a truthI was of opinion that two such places would fit our twodaughters exactly. Besidesif the 'Squire had any real affection formy eldest daughterthis would be the way to make her every wayqualified for her fortune. My wifethereforewas resolved that weshould not be deprived of such advantages for want of assuranceandundertook to harangue for the family. "I hope" cried she"your Ladyships will pardon my present presumption. It is truewe have no right to pretend to such favors; but yet it is natural forme to wish putting my children forward in the world. And I will bebold to say my two girls have had a pretty good education andcapacity; at least the country can't show better. They can readwriteand cast accounts; they understand their needlebroad-stitchcross and changeand all manner of plain-work; they can pinkpointand frill; and know something of music; they can do up small-clotheswork upon catgut; my eldest can cut paperand my youngest has a verypretty manner of telling fortunes upon the cards." Fudge!
When she haddelivered this pretty piece of eloquencethe two ladies looked ateach other a few minutesin silencewith an air of doubt andimportance. At lastMiss Carolina Wilhelmina Amelia Skeggscondescended to observe that the young ladiesfrom the opinion shecould form of them from so slight an acquaintanceseemed very fitfor such employments. "But a thing of this kindmadam"cried sheaddressing my spouse"requires a thoroughexamination into charactersand a more perfect knowledge of eachother. Notmadam" continued she"that I in the leastsuspect the young ladies' virtueprudenceand discretion; but thereis a form in these thingsmadamthere is a form."
My wife approved her suspicions very muchobserving that she was very apt to be suspicious herself; butreferred her to all the neighbors for a character; but this ourPeeress declined as unnecessaryalleging that her cousin Thornhill'srecommendation would be sufficientand upon this we rested ourpetition.
Chapter 12 - Fortune Seems Resolved to Humble the Family ofWakefield-Mortifications are Often More Painful than Real Calamities.
WHEN we returnedhomethe night was dedicated to schemes of future conquest. Deborahexerted much sagacity in conjecturing which of the two girls waslikely to have the best placeand most opportunities of seeing goodcompany. The only obstacle to our preferment was in obtaining the'Squire's recommendation; but he had already shown us too manyinstances of his friendship to doubt of it now. Even in bed my wifekept up the usual theme: "Wellfaithmy dear CharlesbetweenourselvesI think we have made an excellent day's work ofit."-"Pretty well" cried Inot knowing what tosay.-"Whatonly pretty well!" returned she; "I thinkit is very well. Suppose the girls should come to make acquaintancesof taste in town! This I am assured ofthat London is the only placein the world for all manner of husbands. Besidesmy dearstrangerthings happen every day: and as ladies of quality are so taken withmy daughterswhat will not men of quality be! Entre nousIprotest I like my Lady Blarney vastly; sovery obliging. HoweverMiss Carolina Wilhelmina Amelia Skeggs has mywarm heart. But yetwhen they came to talk of places in townyousaw at once how I nailed them. Tell memy deardon't you think Idid for my children there?"-"Ay" returned Inotknowing well what to think of the matter; "Heaven grant thatthey may be both the better for it this day three months!" Thiswas one of those observations I usually made to impress my wife withan opinion of my sagacity; for if the girls succeededthen it was apious wish fulfilled; but if any thing unfortunate ensuedthen itmight be looked upon as a prophecy. All this conversationhoweverwas only preparatory to another schemeand indeed I dreaded as much.This was nothing less thanthat as we were now to hold up our headsa little higher in the worldit would be proper to sell the coltwhich was grown oldat a neighboring fairand buy us a horse thatwould carry single or double upon an occasionand make a prettyappearance at church or upon a visit. This at first I opposedstoutly; but it was as stoutly defended. Howeveras I weakenedmyantagonist gained strengthtill at last it was resolved to part withhim.
As the fair happenedon the following dayI had intentions of going myself; but my wifepersuaded me that I had got a coldand nothing could prevail uponher to permit me from home. "Nomy dear" said she"our son Moses is a discreet boyandcan buy and sell to very good advantage; you know all our greatbargains are of his purchasing. He always stands out and hagglesandactually tires them till he gets a bargain.
As I had some opinionof my son's prudenceI was willing enough to entrust him with thiscommission; and the next morning I perceived his sisters mighty busyin fitting out Moses for the fair; trimming his hairbrushing hisbucklesand cocking his hat withpins. The business of the toilet being overwe had at last the satisfaction of seeing him mounted upon the coltwith a deal box before him to bring home groceries in. He had on acoat made of that cloth they call thunder-and-lightningwhichthough grown too shortwas much too good to be thrown away. Hiswaistcoat was of gosling greenand his sisters had tied his hairwith a broad black riband. We all followed him several paces from thedoorbawling after him"Good luck! good luck!" till wecould see him no longer.
He was scarcely gone when Mr. Thornhill's butlercame to congratulate us upon our good fortunesaying that heoverheard his young master mention our names with great commendation.
Good fortune seems resolved not to come alone.Another footman from the same family followedwith a card for my twodaughtersimporting that the two ladies had received such pleasingaccounts from Mr. Thornhill of us allthatafter a few previousinquiriesthey hoped to be perfectly satisfied. "Ay"cried my wife"I now see it is no easy matter to get into thefamilies of the great; but when one once gets inthenas Mosessaysone may go to sleep." To this piece of humorfor sheintended it for witmy daughters assented with a loud laugh ofpleasure. In shortsuch was her satisfaction at this messagethatshe actually put her hand in her pocketand gave the messengersevenpence half penny.
This was to be ourvisiting day. The next that came was Mr. Burchellwho had been atthe fair. He brought my little ones a pennyworth of gingerbread eachwhich my wife undertook to keep for themand give them by letters ata time. He brought my daughters also a couple of boxesin which theymight keep waferssnuffpatchesor even moneywhen they got it.My wife was unusually fond of a weasel-skin purseas being the mostlucky; but this by the by. We had still a regard for Mr. Burchellthough his late rude behavior was in some measure displeasing; norcould we now avoid communicating our happiness to himand asking hisadvice; although we seldom followed advicewe were all ready enoughto ask it. When he read the note f rom the two ladieshe shook hisheadand observed that an affair of this sort demanded the utmostcircumspection. This air of diffidence highly displeased my wife. "Inever doubtedsir" cried she"your readiness to beagainst my daughters and me. You have more circumspection than iswanted. HoweverI fancy when we come to ask advicewe shall applyto those who seem to have made use of it themselves."-"Whatevermy own conduct may have beenmadam" replied he"is notthe present question; though as I have made no use of advice myselfI should in conscience give it to those that will." As I wasapprehensive this answer might draw on a reparteemaking up by abusewhat it wanted in witIchanged the subjectby seeming to wonderwhat could keep our son so long at the fairas it was now almostnightfall. "Never mind our son" cried my wife; "dependupon it he knows what he is about. I'll warrant we'll never see himsell his hen on a rainy day. I have seen him buy such bargains aswould amaze one. I'll tell you a good story about that that will makeyou split your sides with laughing. But as I liveyonder comesMoseswithout a horseand the box at his back."
As she spokeMosescame slowly on footand sweating under the deal box which he hadstrapped round his shoulders like a peddler. "WelcomewelcomeMoses; wellmy boywhat have you brought us from the fair ?"-"Ihave brought you myself" cried Moseswith a sly lookandresting the box on the dresser."AyMoses" cried my wife"that we knowbut where is the horse?"-"I have soldhim" cried Moses"for three pounds five shillings andtwopence."-"Well donemy good boy" returned she"Iknew you would touch them off. Between ourselvesthree pounds fiveshillings and twopence is no bad day's work. Comelet us have itthen."-"I have brought back no money" cried Mosesagain. "I have laid it all out in a bargainand here it is"pulling out a bundle f rom his breast; "here they area grossof green spectacleswith silver rims and shagreen cases."-"Agross of green spectacles!" repeated my wife in a faint voice."And you have parted with the coltand brought us back nothingbut a gross of green paltryspectacles!"-"Dear mother" cried the boy"whywon't you listen to reason? I had them a dead bargainor I shouldnot have bought them. The silver rims alone will sell for double themoney."-"A fig for the silver rims!" cried my wifeina passion; "I dare swear they won't sell for above half themoney at the rate of broken silverfive shillings an ounce."-"Youneed be under no uneasiness" cried I"about selling therimsfor they are not worth sixpencefor I perceive they are onlycopper varnished over."-"What!" cried my wife"notsilverthe rims not silver!"-"No" cried I"nomore silver than your saucepan."-"And so" returnedshe"we have parted with the coltand have only got a gross ofgreen spectacles with copper rims and shagreen cases! A murrain takesuch trumpery! The blockhead has been imposed uponand should haveknown his company better."-"Theremy dear" cried I"you are wronghe should not have known them at all."
"Marryhang the idiot!" returned she"to bring me such stuff; ifI had them I would throw them into the fire!"-"There againyou are wrongmy dear" cried I"for though they becopperwe will keep them by usas copper spectaclesyou knowarebetter than nothing. "
By this time theunfortunate Moses was undeceived. He now saw that he had indeed beenimposed upon by a prowling sharperwhoobserving his figurehadmarked him for an easy prey. I thereforeasked the circumstances of his deception. He sold the horseitseemsand walked the fair in search of another. A reverend-lookingman brought him to a tentunder pretence of having one to sell."Here" continued Moses"we met another manverywell dressedwho desired to borrow twenty pounds upon thesesayingthat he wanted moneyand would dispose of them for a third of thevalue. The first gentlemanwho pretended to be my friendwhisperedto meto buy themand cautioned me not to let so good an offerpass. I sent for Mr. Flamboroughand they talked him up as finely asthey did meand so at last we were persuaded to buy the two grossbetween us."
Chapter 13 - Mr. Burchell is Found to Be an Enemy: for He Has theConfidence to Give Disagreeable Advice
OUR family had now made several attempts to befine; but some unforeseen disaster demolished each as soon asprojected. I endeavored to take the advantage of everydisappointmentto improve their good-sense in proportion as theywere frustrated in ambition. "You seemy children" criedI"how little is to be got by attempts to impose upon the worldin coping with our betters. Such as are poor and will associate withnone but the richare hated by those they avoidand despised bythose they follow. Unequal combinations are always disadvantageous tothe weaker side: the rich having the pleasureand the poor theinconveniences that result from them. But comeDickmy boyandrepeat the fable that you were reading todayfor the good of thecompany."
"Once upon atime" cried the child"a Giant and a Dwarf were friendsand kept together. They made a bargain that they would never forsakeeach otherbut go seek adventures. The first battle they fought was with twoSaracensand the Dwarfwho was very courageousdealt one of thechampions a most angry blow. It did the Saracen very little injurywholifting up his swordfairly struck off the poor Dwarf's arm. Hewas now in a woeful plightbut the Giant coming to his assistancein a short time left the two Saracens dead on the plainand theDwarf cut off the dead man's head out of spite. They then travelledon to another adventure.This was against three bloody-minded Satyrswho were carrying away a damsel in distress. The Dwarf was not quiteso fierce now as beforebut for all that struck the first blowwhich was returned by another that knocked out his eye; but the Giantwas soon up with themand had they not fledwouldcertainly havekilled them every one. They were all very joyful for this victoryand the damsel who was relieved fell in love with the Giantandmarried him. They now travelled farand farther than I can telltill they met with a company of robbers. The Giantfor the firsttimewas foremost now; but the Dwarf was not far behind. The battlewas stout and long. Wherever the Giant cameall fell before him; butthe Dwarf had like to have been killed more than once. At last thevictory declared for the two adventurers; but the Dwarf lost his leg.The Dwarf was now with an arma legand an eyewhile the Giant waswithout a single wound. Upon which he cried out to his littlecompanion: 'My little herothis is glorious sport; letus get one victory moreand then we shallhave honor forever.'-'No' cries the Dwarfwho was by this timegrown wiser'noI declare off. I'll fight no more; for I find inevery battle that you get all the honor and rewardsbut all theblows fall upon me.' "
I was going tomoralize this fablewhen our attention was called off to a warmdispute between my wife and Mr. Burchellupon my daughters' intendedexpedition to town. My wife very strenuously insisted upon theadvantages that would result from it. Mr. Burchellon the contrarydissuaded her with great ardorand I stood neuter. His presentdissuasions seemed but the second part of those which were receivedwith so ill a grace in the morning. The dispute grew highwhile poorDeborahinstead of reasoning strongertalked louderand at lastwas obliged to take shelter from a defeat in clamor. The conclusionof her haranguehoweverwas highly displeasing to us all. She knewshe saidof some who had their own secret reasons for what theyadvised; butfor her partshe wished such to stay away from herhouse for the future. "Madam" cried Burchellwith looksof great composurewhich tended to inflame her the more"asfor secret reasonsyou are right. I have secret reasonswhich Iforbear to mentionbecause you are not able to answer those of whichI make no secret; but I find my visits here are become troublesome.I'll take my leavethereforenowand perhaps come once moreto take a final farewell when I am quittingthe country." Thus sayinghe took up his hatnor could theattempts of Sophiawhose looks seemed to upbraid his precipitancyprevent his going.
When gonewe all regarded each other for someminutes with confusion. My wifewho knew herself to be the causestrove hard to hide her concern with a forced smile and an air ofassurancewhich I was willing to reprove.
"Howwoman!"cried I to her"is it thus we treat strangers? Is it thus wereturn their kindness? Be assuredmy dearthat these were theharshest wordsand to me the most unpleasingthat ever escaped yourlips!"-"Why would he provoke me then?" replied she;"but I know the motives of his advice perfectly well. He wouldprevent my girls from going to townthat he may have the pleasure ofmy youngest daughter's company here at home. But whatever happensshe shall choose better company than such low-lived fellows ashe."-"Low-livedmy deardo you call him?" cried I;"it is very possible we may mistake this man's character; for heseems upon some occasions the most finished gentleman I ever knew.Tell meSophiamy girlhas he ever given you any secret instancesof his attachment?"-"His conversation with mesir"replied my daughter"has ever been sensiblemodest andpleasing. As to aught elsenonever. Once indeedI remember tohave heard him say he neverknew a woman who could find merit in a manthat seemed poor."-"Suchmy dear" cried I"isthe common cant of all the unfortunate or idle. But I hope you havebeen taught to judge properly of such menand that it would be evenmadness to expect happiness from one who has been so very bad aneconomist of his own. Your mother and I have now better prospects foryou. The next winterwhich you will probably spend in townwillgive you opportunities of making a more prudent choice."
What Sophia's reflections were upon thisoccasion I can't pretend to determine; but I was not displeased atthe bottom that we were rid of a guest f rom whom I had much to fear.Our breach of hospitality went to my conscience a little; but Iquickly silenced that monitor by two or three specious reasonswhichserved to satisfy and reconcile me to myself. The pain whichconscience gives the man who has already done wrongis soon gotover. Conscience is a cowardand those faults it has not strengthenough to preventit seldom has justice enough to accuse.
Chapter 14 - Fresh Mortificationsor a Demonstration thatSeeming Calamities May Be Real Blessings
THE journey of mydaughters to town was now resolved uponMr. Thornhill having kindlypromised to inspect their conduct himselfand inform us by letter oftheir behavior. But it was thought indispensably necessary that theirappearance should equal the greatness of their expectationswhichcould not be done without expense. We debatedthereforein fullcouncil what were the easiest methods of raising money; ormoreproperly speakingwhat we could most conveniently sell. Thedeliberation was soon finished. It was found that our remaining horsewas utterly useless for the ploughwithout his companionandequally unfit for the roadas wanting an eye; it was thereforedetermined that we should dispose of him for the purpose abovementionedat the neighboring fairandto prevent impositionthatI should go with him myself. Though this was one of the firstmercantile transactions of my lifeyet I had no doubt aboutacquitting myself with reputation. The opinion a man forms ofhis own prudence is measured by that of thecompany he keeps; and as mine was mostly in the family wayI hadconceived no unfavorable sentiments of my worldly wisdom. My wifehowevernext morning at partingafter I had got some paces from thedoorcalled me back to advise mein a whisperto have all my eyesabout me.
I hadin the usual formswhen I came to thefairput my horse through all his pacesbut for some time had nobidders. At last a chapman approachedandafter he had a good whileexamined the horse round finding him blind of one eyehe would havenothing to say to him. A second came upbut observing he had aspavindeclared he would not take him for the driving home. A thirdperceived he had a windgalland would bid no money; a fourth knew byhis eye that he had the botts; a fifth wondered what a plague I coulddo at the fair with a blindspavinedgalled hackthat was only fitto be cut up for a dog-kennel. By this time I began to have a mosthearty contempt for the poor animal myselfand was almost ashamed atthe approach of every customer; for although I did not entirelybelieve all the fellows told meyet I reflected that the number ofwitnesses was a strong presumption that they were right; and St.Gregoryupon good worksprofesses himself to be of the sameopinion.
I was in thismortifying situationwhen a brotherclergymanan old acquaintancewho had also business at the faircameupand shaking me by the handproposed adjourning to a public-houseand taking a glass
ofwhatever we could get. I readily closed with the offerand enteringan ale-housewe were shown into a little back roomwhere there was only a venerable old manwho sat wholly intent overa large book which he was reading. I never in my life saw a figurethat prepossessed me more favorably. His locks of silver grayvenerably shaded his templesand his green old age seemed to be theresult of health and benevolence. Howeverhis presence did notinterrupt our conversation; my friend and I discoursed on the variousturns of fortune we had metthe Whistonian controversymy lastpamphletthe archdeacon's replyand the hard measure that was dealtme. But our attention was in a short time taken off by the appearanceof a youth whoentering the roomrespectfully said something softlyto the old stranger. "Make no apologiesmy child" saidthe old man; "to do good is a duty we owe to all ourfellow-creatures; take this; I wish it were more; but five poundswill relieve your distressand you are welcome." The modestyouth shed tears of gratitude; and yet his gratitude was scarcelyequal to mine. I could have hugged the good old man in my armshisbenevolence pleased me so. He continued to readand we resumed ourconversationuntil my companionafter some timerecollecting thathe had business to transact in the fairpromised to be soon backaddingthat he always desired to have as much of Dr. Primrose'scompany as possible. The old gentlemanhearing my name mentionedseemed to look at me with attention for some timeand when my friendwas gone most respectfullydemanded if I was any way related to the great Primrosethatcourageous monogamistwho had been the bulwark of the Church. Neverdid my heart feel sincerer rapture than at that moment. "Sir"cried I"the applause of so good a manas I am sure you areadds to that happiness in my breast which your benevolence hasalready excited. You behold before yousirthat Dr. Primrosethemonogamistwhom you have been pleased to call great. You here seethat unfortunate divinewho has so longand it would ill become meto saysuccessfully fought against the deuterogamy of theage."
"Sir" cried the strangerstruck with awe"Ifear I have been too familiarbut you'll forgive my curiositysir:I beg pardon."
"Sir" cried I grasping his hand"youare so far from displeasing me by your familiaritythat I must begyou'll accept my friendshipas you already have my esteem."
"Thenwith gratitude I accept the offer" cried hesqueezing me bythe hand"thou glorious pillar of unshaken orthodoxy; and do Ibehold-" I here interrupted what he was going to say; forthoughas an authorI could digest no small share of flatteryyetnow my modesty would permit no more. Howeverno lovers in romanceever cemented a more instantaneous friendship. We talked upon severalsubjects: at first I thought he seemed rather devout than learnedand began to think he despised all human doctrines as dross. Yet thisno way lessened him in my esteem; for I hadfor some time begun privately to harbor such an opinion myself. Itherefore took occasion to observe that the world in general began tobe blamably indifferent as to doctrinal mattersand followed humanspeculations too much. "Aysir" replied he-as if he hadreserved all his learning to that moment-"Aysirthe world isin its dotage; and yet the cosmogony or creation of the world haspuzzled philosophers of all ages. What a medley of opinions have theynot broached upon the creation of the world! SanchoniathonManethoBerosusand Ocellus Lucanus have all attempted it in vain. Thelatter has these words[Greek quotation]which imply that allthings have neither beginning nor end. Manetho alsowho lived aboutthe time of Nebuchadon-Asser-Asser being a Syriac wordusuallyapplied as a surname to the kings of that countryas TeglatPhael-AsserNabon-Asser-heI sayformed a conjecture equallyabsurd: foras we usually say[Greek quotation]which implies thatbooks will never teach the world; so he attempted to investigate.ButsirI ask pardonI am straying from the question." That heactually was; nor could I for my life see how the creation of theworld had any thing to do with the business I was talking of; but itwas sufficient to show me that he was a man of lettersand now Ireverenced him the more. I was resolved therefore to bring him to thetouch-stone; but he was too mild and toogentle to contend for victory. Whenever I made any observation thatlooked like a challenge to controversyhe would smileshake hisheadand say nothing; by which I understood he could say muchif hethought proper. The subject therefore insensibly changed from thebusiness of antiquity to that which brought us both to the fair; mineI told him was to sell a horseand very luckily indeed his was tobuy one f or one of his tenants. My horse was soon producedand infine we struck a bargain. Nothing now remained but to pay meand heaccordingly pulled out a thirty-pound noteand bid me change it. Notbeing in a capacity of complying with his demandhe ordered hisfootman to be called upwho made his appearance in a very genteellivery. "HereAbraham" cried he"go and get goldfor this; you'll do it at neighbor Jackson's or anywhere." Whilethe fellow was gonehe entertained me with a pathetic harangue onthe great scarcity of silverwhich I undertook to improvebydeploring also the great scarcity of gold; so that by the timeAbraham returned we had both agreed that money was never so hard tobe come at as now. Abraham returned to inform us that he had beenover the whole f air and could not get changethough he had offeredhalf a crown for doing it. This was a very great disappointment to usall; but the old gentleman having paused a littleasked me if I knewone Solomon Flamborough in my part of the country; upon replyingthat he was my next-door neighbor: "Ifthat be the casethen" returned he"I believe we shalldeal. You shall have a draft upon him payable at sight; andlet metell youhe is as warm a man as any within five miles round him.Honest Solomon and I have been acquainted for many years together. Iremember I always beat him at three jumps; but he could hop on oneleg farther than I." A draft upon my neighbor was to me the sameas money; for I was sufficiently convinced of his ability. The draftwas signed and put into my handsand Mr. Jenkinson (the oldgentleman)his man Abrahamand my horseold Blackberrytrottedoff very well pleased with each other.
After a shortintervalbeing left to reflectionI began to recollect that I haddone wrong in taking a draft from a strangerand so prudentlyresolved upon following the purchaserand having back my horse. Butthis was now too late: I therefore made directly homewardsresolvingto get the draft changed into money at my friend's as fast aspossible. I found my honest neighbor smoking his pipe at his owndoorand informing him that I had a small bill upon himhe read ittwice over: "You can read the nameI suppose" cried I"Ephraim Jenkinson."
"Yes" returned he"thename is written plain enoughand I know the gentleman too-thegreatest rascal under the canopy of heaven. This is the very samerogue who sold us the spectacles. Was he not a venerable looking manwith gray hairand no flaps to hispocket-holes? And did he not talk a long string of learningaboutGreek and cosmogony and the world?" To this I replied with agroan. "Ay" continued he"he has but that one pieceof learning in the worldand he always talks it away whenever hefinds a scholar in company; but I know the rogueand will catch himyet."
Although I was already sufficiently mortifiedmy greatest struggle was to comein facing my wife and daughters. Notruant was ever more afraid of returning to schoolthere to beholdthe master's visagethan I was of going home. I was determinedhoweverto anticipate their fury by first falling into a passionmyself.
Butalas! uponenteringI found the family no way disposed for battle. My wife andgirls were all in tearsMr. Thornhill having been there that day toinform them that their journey to town was entirely over. The twoladies having heard reports of us from some malicious person aboutuswere that day set out for London. He could neither discover thetendency nor the author of these; but whatever they might beorwhoever might have broached themhe continued to assure our familyof his friendship and protection. I foundthereforethat they boremy disappointment with great resignationas it was eclipsed in thegreatness of their own. But what perplexed us most was to think whocould be so base as to asperse thecharacter of a family so harmless as ourstoo humble to excite envyand too inoffensive to create disgust.
Chapter 15 - All Mr. Burchell's Villainy at Once Detected-TheFolly of Being Over-Wise
THAT evening and apart of the following day was employed in fruitless attempts todiscover our enemies; scarcely a family in the neighborhood butincurred our suspicionsand each of us had reasons for our opinionbest known to ourselves. As we were in this perplexityone of ourlittle boyswho had been playing abroadbrought in a letter-casewhich he found on the green. It was quickly known to belong to Mr.Burchellwith whom it had been seenandupon examinationcontained some hints upon different subjects; but what particularlyengaged our attention was a sealed notesuperscribed "The copyof a letter to be sent to the two ladies at Thornhill Castle."It instantly occurred that he was the base informerand wedeliberated whether the note should not be broken open. I was againstit; but Sophiawho said she was sure that of all men he would be thelast to be guilty of so much basenessinsisted upon its being read.In this she was seconded by the rest of the familyandat their joint solicitationI read asfollows: "LADIES:
"The bearer will sufficiently satisfy youas to the person from whom this comes: one at least the friend ofinnocenceand ready to prevent its being seduced. I am informed fora truththat you have some intention of bringing two young ladies totownwhom I have some knowledge ofunder the character ofcompanions. As I would neither have simplicity imposed uponnorvirtue contaminatedI must offer it as my opinionthat theimpropriety of such a step will be attended with dangerousconsequences. It has never been my way to treat the infamous or thelewd with severity; nor should I now have taken this method ofexplaining myselfor reproving follydid it not aim at guilt. Takethereforethe admonition of a friendand seriously reflect on theconsequences of introducing infamy and vice into retreats where peaceand innocence have hitherto resided."
Our doubts were nowat an end. There seemedindeedsomething applicable to both sidesin this letterand its censures might as well be referred to thoseto whom it was writtenas to us; but the malicious meaning wasobviousand we went no farther. My wife had scarcely patience tohear me to the endbut railed at the writer with unrestrainedresentment. Olivia was equally severeand Sophia seemed perfectlyamazed at his baseness. Asfor my partit appeared to me one of the vilest instances ofunprovoked ingratitude I had met with. Nor could I account for it inany other manner than by imputing it to his desire of detaining myyoungest daughter in the countryto have the more frequentopportunities of an interview. In this manner we all sat ruminatingupon schemes of vengeancewhen our other little boy came running into tell us that Mr. Burchell was approaching at the other end of thefield. It is easier to conceive than describe the complicatedsensations which are felt from a pain of a recent injuryand thepleasure of approaching vengeance. Though our intentions were only toupbraid him with his ingratitudeyet it was resolved to do it in amanner that would be perfectly cutting. For this purpose we agreed tomeet him with our usual smilesto chat in the beginning with morethan ordinary kindnessto amuse him a little; and then in the midstof the flattering calm to burst upon him like an earthquakeandoverwhelm him with the sense of his own baseness. This being resolveduponmy wife undertook to manage the business herselfas she reallyhad some talents for such an undertaking. We saw him approach; heentereddrew a chairand sat down. "A fine dayMr.Burchell."
"A very fine dayDoctor; though I fancy weshall have some rain by the shooting of my corns."
"Theshooting of your horns!" cried my wifein a loud fit oflaughterand then asked pardonfor being fond of a joke.-"Dearmadam" replied he"I pardon you with all my heart; for Iprotest I should not have thought it a joke had you not toldme."
"Perhaps notsir" cried my wifewinking at us"and yet I dare say you can tell us how many jokes go to anounce."
"I fancymadam" returned Burchell"youhave been reading a jest-book this morningthat ounce of jokes is sovery good a conceit; and yetmadamI had rather see half an ounceof understanding."
"I believe you might" cried mywifestill smiling at usthough the laugh was against her; "andyet I have seen some men pretend to understanding that have verylittle."
"And no doubt" replied her antagonist"youhave known ladies set up for wit that had none." I quickly beganto find that my wife was likely to gain but little at this business;so I resolved to treat him in a style of more severity myself. "Bothwit and understanding" cried I"are trifles withoutintegrity; it is that which gives value to every character. Theignorant peasantwithout faultis greater than the philosopher withmany; for what is genius or courage without a heart? 'An honest manis the noblest work of God.'"
"I always heldthat hackneyed maxim of Pope" returned Mr. Burchell"asvery unworthy of a man of geniusand a base desertion of his ownsuperiority. As the reputation of books is raised not by theirfreedom from defectbut the greatness of their beautiesso should that of men be prized not fortheir exemption from faultbut the size of those virtues they arepossessed of. The scholar may want prudencethe statesman may haveprideand the champion ferocity; but shall we prefer to these thelow mechanicwho laboriously plods on through lifewithout censureor applause? We might as well prefer the tamecorrect paintings ofthe Flemish school to the erroneousbut sublime animations of theRoman pencil."
"Sir" replied I"your presentobservation is justwhen there are shining virtues and minutedefects; but when it appears that great vices are opposed in the samemind to as extraordinary virtuessuch a character deservescontempt."
"Perhaps" cried he"there maybe some such monsters as you describeof great vices joined to greatvirtues; yet in my progress through 'life I never yet found oneinstance of their existence; on the contraryI have ever perceivedthat where the mind was capacious the affections were good. AndindeedProvidence seems kindly our friend in this particularthusto debilitate the understanding where the heart is corruptanddiminish the power where there is the will to do mischief. This ruleseems to extend even to other animals: the little vermin race areever treacherouscrueland cowardlywhile those endowed withstrength and power are generousbraveand gentle."
"Theseobservations sound well" returned I"and yet it would beeasy this moment to point out a man" and I fixed my eyesteadfastly upon him"whose head and heart form a mostdetestable contrast. Aysir" continued Iraising my voice"and I am glad to have this opportunity of detecting him in themidst of his fancied security. Do you know thissirthispocketbook?"
"Yessir" returned hewith a face ofimpenetrable assurance"that pocket-book is mineand I am gladyou have found it."
"And do you know" cried I"thisletter? Naynever faltermanbut look me full in the face; I saydo you know this letter?"
"That letter" returned he"yesit was I that wrote that letter."
"And how couldyou" said I"so baselyso ungratefully presume to writethis letter?"
"And how came you" replied hewithlooks of unparalleled effrontery"so basely to presume to breakopen this letter? Don't you knownowI could hang you all for this? All that I have to do is to swear at the next justice's that youhave been guilty of breaking open the lock of my pocket-bookand sohang you all up at this door." This piece of unexpectedinsolence raised me to such a pitch that I could scarcely govern mypassion. "Ungrateful wretchbegone! and no longer pollute mydwelling with thy baseness; begoneand never let me see thee again!go from my doorsand the only punishment I wish thee is an alarmedconsciencewhich will be a sufficient tormentor!" So sayingIthrew him his pocket-bookwhich he took up with a smileandshuttingthe clasp with the utmost composureleftusquite astonished at the serenity of his assurance. My wife wasparticularly enraged that nothing could make him angryor make himseem ashamed of his villainies. "My dear" cried Iwillingto calm those passions that had been raised too high among us"weare not to be surprised that bad men want shame; they only blush atbeing detected in doing goodbut glory in their vices."
"Guilt and Shame" says the allegory"were at first companionsand in the beginning of their journeyinseparably kept together. But their union was soon found to bedisagreeable and inconvenient to both; Guilt gave Shame frequentuneasinessand Shame often betrayed the secret conspiracies ofGuilt. After long disagreementthereforethey at length consentedto part for ever. Guilt boldly walked forward alone to overtake Fatethat went before in the shape of an executioner; but Shame beingnaturally timorousreturned back to keep company with Virtuewhichin the beginning of their journeythey had left behind. Thusmychildrenafter men have travelled through a few stages of viceShame forsakes themand returns back to wait upon the few virtuesthey have still remaining."
Chapter 16 - The Family Use Art; Which is Opposed with StillGreater
WHATEVER might havebeen Sophia's sensationsthe rest of the family was easily consoledfor Mr. Burchell's absence by the company of our landlordwhosevisits now became more frequent and longer. Though he had beendisappointed in procuring my daughters the amusements of the town ashe designedhe took every opportunity of supplying them with thoselittle recreations which our retirement would admit of. He usuallycame in the morningand while my son and I followed our occupationsabroadhe sat with the family at homeand amused them by describingthe townwith every part of which he was particularly acquainted. Hecould repeat all the observations that were retailed in theatmosphere of the play-housesand had all the good things of thehigh wits by rote long before they made their way into thejest-books. The intervals between conversation were employed inteaching my daughters piquetor sometimes in setting my two littleones to boxto make them sharpas he calledit: but the hopes of having him for ason-in-law in some measure blinded us to all his imperfections. Itmust be owned that my wife laid a thousand schemes to entrap him; orto speak it more tenderlyused every art to magnify the merit of herdaughter. If the cakes at tea ate short and crispthey were made byOlivia; if the gooseberry wine was well knitthe gooseberries wereof her gathering; it was her fingers which gave the pickles theirpeculiar green; and in the composition of a puddingit was herjudgment that mixed the ingredients. Then the poor woman wouldsometimes tell the 'Squire that she thought him and Olivia extremelyof a sizeand would bid both stand up to see which was the tallest.These instances of cunningwhich she thought impenetrableyet whicheverybody saw throughwere very pleasing to our benefactorwho gaveevery day some new proofs of his passionwhichthough they had notarisen to proposals of marriageyet we thought fell but little shortof itand his slowness we attributed sometimes to nativebashfulnessand sometimes to his fear of offending his uncle. Anoccurrencehoweverwhich happened soon afterput it beyond a doubtthat he designed to become one of our family; my wife even regardedit as an absolute promise.
My wife and daughtershappening to return a visit to neighbor Flamborough'sfound thatfamily had lately got their pictures drawn by a limnerwho travelled the country andtook likenesses for fifteen shillings a head. As this family and ourshad long a sort
ofrivalry in point of tasteour spirit took the alarm at this stolenmarch upon usand notwithstanding all I could sayandI said muchit was resolved that we should have our pictures donetoo. Havingthereforeengaged the limner-for what could I do?-ournext deliberation was to show the superiority of our taste in theattitudes. As for our neighbor's familythere were seven of themand they were drawn with seven oranges-a thing quite out of tastenovariety in lifeno composition in the world. We desired to havesomething in a brighter styleandafter many debatesat lengthcame to a unanimous resolution of being drawn together in one largehistorical family piece. This would be cheapersince one frame wouldserve for alland it would be infinitely more genteel; for allfamilies of any taste were now drawn in the same manner. As we didnot immediately recollect a historical subject to hit uswe werecontented each with being drawn as independent historical figures. Mywife desired to be represented as Venusand the painter was desirednot to be too frugal of his diamonds in her stomacher and hair. Hertwo little ones were to be as Cupids by her sidewhile Iin my gownand bandwas to present her with my books on the Whistoniancontroversy. Olivia would be drawn as an Amazonsitting upon a bankof flowersdressed in a green Josephrichly laced with goldand awhip in her hand. Sophia was to be a shepherdesswith as many sheepas the painter could put in for nothing; and Moses was to be dressedout with a hat and white featherOur tasteso much pleased the 'Squire that heinsisted on being put in as one of the family in the character ofAlexander the Great at Olivia's feet. This was considered by us allas an indication of his desire to be introduced into the familynorcould we refuse his request. The painter was therefore set to workandas he wrought with assiduity and expeditionin less than fourdays the whole was completed. The piece was largeand it must beowned he did not spare his colors; for which my wife gave him greatencomiums. We were all perfectly satisfied with his performance; butan unfortunate circumstance had not occurred till the picture wasfinishedwhich now struck us with dismay. It was so very large thatwe had no place in the house to fix it! How we all came to disregardso material a point is inconceivable; but certain it iswe had beenall greatly remiss. The picturethereforeinstead of gratifying ourvanityas we hopedleaned in a most mortifying manner against thekitchen wallwhere the canvas was stretched and paintedmuch toolarge to be got through any of the doorsand the jest of all ourneighbors. One compared it to Robinson Crusoe's long-boattoo largeto be removed; another thought it more resembled a reel in a bottle;some wondered how it could be got outbut still more were amazed howit ever got in.
But though it excitedthe ridicule of someit effectually raised more malicioussuggestions in manyThe 'Squire's portrait being found united withourswas anhonor too great to escape envy. Scandalouswhispers began to circulate at our expenseand our tranquillity wascontinually disturbed by persons who came as friends to tell us whatwas said of us by enemies. These reports we always resented withbecoming spirit; but scandal ever improves by opposition.
We once againthereforeentered into aconsultation upon obviating the malice of our enemiesand at lastcame to a resolution which had too much cunning to give me entiresatisfaction.It was this: as our principal object was to discover thehonor of Mr. Thornhill's addressesmy wife undertook to sound himby pretending to ask his advice in the choice of a husband for hereldest daughter. If this was not found sufficient to induce him to adeclarationit was then resolved to terrify him with a rival. Tothis last stephoweverI would by no means give my consenttillOlivia gave me the most solemn assurances that she would marry theperson provided to rival him upon this occasionif he did notprevent it by taking her himself. Such was the scheme laidwhichthough I did not strenuously opposeI did not entirely approve.
The next timetherefore that Mr. Thornhill came to see usmy girls took care to beout of the wayin order to give their mamma an opportunity ofputting her scheme in execution; but they only retired to the nextroomwhence they could overhear the whole conversation. My wifeartfully introduced itby observingthat one of the Miss Flamboroughs was liketo have a good match of it in Mr. Spanker. To this the 'Squireassentingshe proceeded to remark that they who had warm fortuneswere always sure of getting good husbands. "But Heaven help"continued she"the girls that have none! What signifies beautyMr. Thornhill? or what signifies all the virtueand all thequalifications in the worldin this age of self-interest? It is notwhat is she? but what has she? is all the cry."
"Madam" returned he"I highlyapprove the justiceas well as the novelty of your remarksand if Iwere a king it should be otherwise. It should then indeedbe finetimes with the girls without fortunes: our two young ladies should bethe first for whom I would provide."
"Ahsir" returned my wife"youare pleased to be facetious; but I wish I were a queenand then Iknow where my eldest daughter should look for a husband. But nowthat you have put it into my headseriouslyMr. Thornhillcan'tyou recommend me a proper husband for her? She is now nineteen yearsoldwell grown and well educatedandin my humble opiniondoesnot want for parts."
"Madam"replied he"if I were to chooseI would find out a personpossessed of every accomplishment that can make an angel happy. Onewith prudencefortunetasteand sincerity; suchmadamwould bein my opinionthe proper husband."
"Aysir" saidshe"but do you know of any suchperson?"
"Nomadam" returned he"it isimpossible to know any person that deserves to be her husband: she'stoo great a treasure for one man's possession: she's a goddess. Uponmy soulI speak what I thinkshe's an angel!"
"AhMr.Thornhillyou only flatter my poor girl; but we have been thinkingof marrying her to one of your tenantswhose mother is lately deadand who wants a manager; you know whom I meanfarmer Williams; awarm manMr. Thornhillable to give her good bread; and who hasseveral times made her proposals (which was actually the case) : butsir" concluded she"I should be glad to have yourapprobation of our choice."
"How! madam" replied he"my approbation! My approbation of such a choice! Never! What!sacrifice so much beautyand senseand goodness to a creatureinsensible of the blessing! Excuse meI can never approve of such apiece of injustice! And I have my reasons!"
"Indeedsir"cried Deborah"if you have your reasonsthat's another affair;but I should be glad to know those reasons!"
"Excuse memadam" returned he"they lie too deep for discovery"(laying his hand upon his bosom); "they remain buriedrivetedhere."
After he was goneupon general consultationwe could not tell what to make of thesefine sentiments. Olivia considered them as instances of the mostexalted passion; but I was not quite so sanguine. It seemed tome pretty plainthat they had more of lovethan matrimony in them; yetwhatever they might portendit wasresolved to prosecute the scheme of Farmer Williamswhofrom mydaughter's first appearance in the countryhad paid her hisaddresses.
Chapter 17 - Scarcely Any Virtue Found to Resist the Power ofLong and Pleasing Temptation
As I only studied mychild's real happinessthe assiduity of Mr. Williams pleased meashe was in easy circumstanceprudentand sincere. It required butvery little encouragement to revive his former passion; so that in anevening or two he and Mr. Thornhill met at our house and surveyedeach other for some time with looks of anger; but Williams owed hislandlord no rentand little regarded his indignation. Oliviaon hersideacted the coquette to perfectionif that might be calledacting which was her real characterpretending to lavish all hertenderness on her new lover. Mr. Thornhill appeared quite dejected atthis preferenceand with a pensive air took leave; though I own itpuzzled me to find him in so much pain as he appeared to bewhen hehad it in his power so easily to remove the cause by declaring anhonorable passion. But whatever uneasiness he seemed to endureitcould easily be perceived that Olivia's anguish was still greater.After any of these interviews between her loversofwhich there were severalshe usually retired to solitudeand thereindulged her grief. It was in such a situation I found her oneeveningafter she had been for some time supporting a fictitiousgayety. "You now seemy child" said I"that yourconfidence in Mr. Thornhill's passion was all a dream; he permits therivalry of anotherevery way his inferiorthough he knows it liesin his power to secure you to himself by a candid declaration."
"Yespapa" returned she "but he has his 'reasons for thisdelay: I know he has. The sincerity of his looks and words convincesme of his real esteem. A short timeI hopewill discover thegenerosity of his sentimentsand convince you that my opinion of himhas been more just than yours."
"Oliviamy darling"returned I"every scheme that has been hitherto pursued tocompel him to a declarationhas been proposed and planned byyourself; nor can you in the least say that I have constrained you.But you must not supposemy dearthat I will ever be instrumentalin suffering his honest rival to be the dupe of your ill-placedpassion. Whatever time you require to bring your fancied admirer toan explanation shall be granted; but at the expiration of that termif he is still regardlessI must absolutely insist that honest Mr.Williams shall be rewarded for his fidelity. The character which Ihave hitherto supported in life demands this from meand mytenderness as a parent shall never influence my integrity as a man.Namethenyour day; let it be as distantas you think properand in the meantime take care to let Mr.Thornhill know the exact time on which I design delivering you up toanother. If he really loves youhis own good sense will readilysuggest that there is but one method alone to prevent his losing youforever." This proposalwhich she could not avoid consideringas perfectly justwas readily agreed to. She again renewed her mostpositive promise of marrying Mr. Williams in case of the other'sinsensibility; and at the next opportunityin Mr. Thornhill'spresencethat day month was fixed upon for her nuptials with hisrival.
Such vigorous proceedings seemed to redouble Mr.Thornhill's anxiety; but what Olivia really felt gave me someuneasiness. In this struggle between prudence and passionhervivacity quite forsook herand every opportunity of solitude wassoughtand spent in tears. One week passed away; but Mr. Thornhillmade no efforts to restrain her nuptials. The succeeding week he wasstill assiduous; but not more open. On the third he discontinued hisvisits entirely; and instead of my daughter testifying anyimpatienceas I expectedshe seemed to retain a pensivetranquillitywhich I looked upon as resignation. For my own partIwas now sincerely pleased with thinking that my child was going to besecured in a continuance of competence and peaceand frequentlyapplauded her resolutionin preferring happiness to ostentation.
It was within aboutfour days of her intended nuptialsthat my little family at nightwere gathered round a charming firetelling stories of the pastandlaying schemes for the future. Busied in forming a thousand projectsand laughing at whatever folly came uppermost"WellMoses"cried I"we shall soonmy boyhave a wedding in the family;what is your opinion of matters and things in general?"
"Myopinionfatheris that all things go on very well; and I was justnow thinkingthat when sister Livy is married to Farmer Williamsweshall then have the loan of his cider-press and brewing tubs fornothing."
"That we shallMoses" cried I"and hewill sing us 'Death and the Lady' to raise our spiritsinto thebargain."
"He has taught that song to our Dick" criedMoses; "and I think he goes through it very prettily."
"Doeshe so?" cried I; "then let us have it: where is littleDick? let him up with it boldly."
"My brother Dick"cried Billmy youngest"is just gone out with sister Livy; butMr. Williams has taught me two songsand I'll sing them for youpapa. Which song do you choose'The Dying Swan' or 'The Elegy on theDeath of a Mad Dog'?"
"The elegychildby all means"said I; "I never heard that yet; and Deborahmy lifegrief youknow is drylet us have a bottle of the best gooseberry-winetokeep up our spirits. I have wept so much at all sorts of elegies oflatethat without an enlivening glass I am sure this willovercome me: and Sophylovetake yourguitarand trum in with the boy a little."
1: Good people allof every sort
2: Giveear unto my song
3: And if you find it wondrous short
4: It cannot hold you long.
5: In Islington therewas a man
6: Of whom the world might say
7: Thatstill a godly race he ran
8: Whene'er he went to pray.
9: A kind and gentle heart he had
10: Tocomfort friends and foes;
11: The naked every day he clad
12: When he put on his clothes.
13: And in that town a dog wasfound
14: As many dogs there be
15: Bothmongrelpuppywhelpand hound
16: And curs of lowdegree.
17: This dog and man at first were friends;
18:But when a pique began
19: The dogto gain someprivate ends
20: Went mad and bit the man.
21:Around from all the neighboring streets
22: Thewondering neighbors ran
23: And swore the dog had losthis wits
24: To bite so good a man.
25: Thewound it seem'd both sore and sad
26: To every Christianeye;
27: And while they swore the dog was mad
28:They swore the man would die.
29: But soon a wondercame to light
30: That showed the rogues they lied;
31:The man recovered of the bite
32: The dog it was thatdied.
"A very good boyBillupon my word; andan elegy that may truly be called tragical. Comemy childrenhere'sBill's healthand may he one day be a bishop!"
"With all myheart" cried my wife; "and if he but preaches as well ashe singsI make no doubt of him. The most of his familyby themother's sidecould sing a good song; it was a common saying in ourcountry that the family of the Blenkinsops could neverlook straight before themnor theHugginsons blow out a candle; that there were none of the Grogramsbut could sing a songor of the Marjorams but could tell astory."
"However that be" cried I"the mostvulgar ballad of them all generally pleases me better than the finemodern odesand things that petrify us in a single stanza;productions that we at once detest and praise. Put the glass to yourbrotherMoses. The great fault of these elegiasts isthat they arein despair for griefs that give the sensible part of mankind verylittle pain. A lady loses her muffher fanher lapdogand so thesilly poet runs home to versify the disaster."
"That may be the mode" cried Moses"in sublimer compositions; but the Ranelagh songs that come downto us are perfectly familiarand all cast in the same mould: Colinmeets Dollyand they hold a dialogue together; he gives her afairing to put in her hairand she presents him with a nosegay; andthen they go together to churchwhere they give good advice to youngnymphs and swains to get married as fast as they can."
"And very goodadvicetoo" cried I; "and I am told there is not a placein the world where advice can be given with so much propriety asthere; foras it persuades us to marryit also furnishes us with awife; and surely that must be an excellent marketmy boywhere weare told what we wantand supplied with it when wanting." "Yessir" returned Moses"and I know but oftwo such markets for wives in EuropeRanelagh in Englandand Fontarabia in Spain. The Spanish market isopen once a yearbut our English wives are salable every night."
"You are rightmy boy" cried hismother. "Old England is the only place in the world for husbandsto get wives."
"And for wives to manage their husbands"interrupted I. "It is a proverb abroadthat if a bridge werebuilt across the seaall the ladies of the Continent would come overand take pattern from ours; for there are no such wives in Europe asour own. But let us have one bottle moreDeborahmy lifeandMosesgive us a good song. What thanks do we not owe to Heaven forthus bestowing tranquillityhealthand competence. I think myselfhappier now than the greatest monarch upon earth. He has no suchfiresidenor such pleasant faces about it. YesDebborahwe are nowgrowing old; but the evening of our life is likely to be happy. Weare descended from ancestors that knew no stainand we shall leave agood and virtuous race of children behind us. While we live they willbe our support and our pleasure hereand when we die they willtransmit our honor untainted to posterity. Comemy sonwe wait fora song; let us have a chorus. But where is my darling Olivia? Thatlittle cherub's voice is always sweetest in the concert."
Just as I spoke Dickcame running in: "O papapapashe isgone from usshe is gone from us! my sister Livy is gone from us forever!"
"Yesshe is gone off withtwo gentlemen in a postchaiseand one of them kissed herand saidhe would die for her; and she cried very muchand was for comingback; but he persuaded her againand she went into the chaiseandsaid: 'O what will my poor papa do when he knows I am undone!'"
"Nowthen" cried I"my childrengo and bemiserable; for we shall never enjoy one hour more. And 0 may Heaven'severlasting fury light upon him and his! Thus to rob me of my child!And sure it willfor taking back my sweet innocent that I wasleading up to Heaven. Such sincerity as my child was possessed of!But all our earthly happiness is now over! Gomy childrengo and bemiserable and infamous; for my heart is broken within me!"
"Father"cried my son"is this your fortitude?"
"Fortitudechild! Yeshe shall see I have fortitude! Bring me my pistols. I'llpursue the traitor. While he is on earthI'll pursue him. Old as Iamhe shall find I can sting him yet. The villain! the perfidiousvillain!" I had by this time reached down my pistolswhen mypoor wifewhose passions were not so strong as minecaught me inher arms. "My dearestdearest husband" cried she"theBible is the only weapon that is fit for your old hands now. Openthatmy loveand read our anguish into patiencefor she has vilelydeceived us."
"Indeedsir" resumed my sonafter apause"your rage is too violent and unbecoming. You should bemy mother's comforter; and you increase her pain. It ill-suited youand your reverend characterthus to curse your greatest enemy; youshould not have cursed himvillain as he is."
"I did notcurse himchilddid I?"
"Indeedsiryou did; you cursedhim twice."
"Then may Heaven forgive me and him if I did.And nowmy sonI see it was more than human benevolence that firsttaught us to bless our enemiesBlessed be His holy name for all thegood He hath givenand for all that He hath taken away. But it isnotit is not a small distress that can wring tears from these oldeyesthat have not wept for so many years. My child! To undo mydarling!-May confusion seize Heaven forgive mewhat I am about tosay! You may remembermy lovehow good she wasand how charming;till this vile moment all her care was to make us happy. Had she butdied! But she is gonethe honor of our family contaminatedand Imust look out for happiness in other worlds than here.-Butmy childyou saw them go off; perhaps he forced her away? If he forced hershe may yet be innocent."
"Ahnosir" cried thechild; "he only kissed her and called her his angel; and shewept very muchand leaned upon his armand they drove off veryfast."
"She's an ungrateful creature" cried my wifewho could scarcely speak for weeping"to use us thus; she neverhad the least constraint put upon her affections.The vile strumpet has basely deserted herparents without any provocationthus to bring your gray hairs to thegraveand I must shortly follow."
In this manner that nightthe first of our realmisfortuneswas spent in the bitterness of complaintandill-supported sallies of enthusiasm. I determinedhoweverto findout her betrayerwherever he wasand reproach his baseness. Thenext morning we missed our wretched child at breakfastwhere sheused to give life and cheerfulness to us all. My wifeas beforeattempted to ease her heart by reproaches. "Never" criedshe"shall that vilest stain of our family again darken theseharmless doors. I will never call her daughter more. Nolet thestrumpet live with her vile seducer; she may bring us to shamebutshe shall never more deceive us."
"Wife"said I"do not talk thus hardly; my detestation of her guilt isas great as yours; but ever shall this house and this heart be opento a poor returning repentant sinner. The sooner she returns from hertransgressionthe more welcome shall she be to me. For the firsttime the very best may err; art may persuadeand novelty spread outits charm. The first fault is the child of simplicity; but everyother the offspring of guilt. Yesthe wretched creature shall bewelcome to this heart and this housethough stained with tenthousand vices. I will again hearken to the music of her voiceagainwill I hang fondly on her bosomif Ifind but repentance there. My sonbringhither my Bible and my staff; I will pursue her wherever she is; andthough I cannot save her from shameI may prevent the continuance ofiniquity."
Chapter 18 - The Pursuit of a Father to Reclaim a Lost Child toVirtue
THOUGH the childcould not describe the gentleman's person who handed his sister intothe post-chaiseyet my suspicions fell entirely upon our younglandlordwhose character for such intrigues was but too well known.I therefore directed my steps towards Thornhill Castleresolving toupbraid himandif possibleto bring back my daughter; but beforeI had reached his seatI was met by one of my parishionerswho saidhe saw a young lady resembling my daughter in a postchaise with agentlemanwhomby the descriptionI could only guess to be Mr.Burchelland that they drove very fast. This informationhoweverdid by no means satisfy me. I therefore went to the young 'Squire'sand though it was yet earlyinsisted upon seeing him immediately; hesoon appeared with the most openfamiliar airand seemed perfectlyamazed at my daughter's elopementprotesting upon his honor that hewas quite a stranger to it. I now therefore condemnedmy former suspicionsand could turn themonly on Mr. Burchellwho I recollected had of late several privateconferences with her; but the appearance of another witness left meno room to doubt his villainywho averred that he and my daughterhad actually gone towards the Wellsabout thirty miles offwherethere was a great deal of company.
Being driven to thatstate of mind in which we are more ready to act precipitately than toreason rightI never debated with myself whether these accountsmight not have been given by persons purposely placed in my way tomislead mebut resolved to pursue my daughter and her fancieddeluder thither. I walked along with earnestnessand inquired ofseveral by the way; but received no accountstill entering the townI was met by a person on horsebackwhom I remembered to have seen atthe 'Squire'sand he assured me that if I followed them to theraceswhich were but thirty miles fartherI might depend uponovertaking them; for he had seen them dance there the night beforeand the whole assembly seemed charmed with my daughter's performance.Early the next day I walked forward to the racesand about four inthe afternoon I came upon the course. The company made a verybrilliant appearanceall earnestly employed in one pursuitthat ofpleasure; how different from minethat of reclaiming a lost child tovirtue! I thought I perceived Mr. Burchell at some distance from me;butasif he dreaded an interviewupon myapproaching him he mixed among a crowdand I saw him no more.
I now reflected thatit would be to no purpose to continue my pursuit fartherandresolved to return home to an innocent familywho wanted myassistance. But the agitations of my mindand the fatigues I hadundergonethrew me into a feverthe symptoms of which I perceivedbefore I came off the course. This was another unexpected strokeasI was more than seventy miles distant from home: howeverI retiredto a little ale-house by the roadsideand in this placethe usualretreat of indigence and frugalityI laid me down patiently to waitthe issue of my disorder. I languished here for nearly three weeks;but at last my constitution prevailedthough I was unprovided withmoney to defray the expenses of my entertainment. It is possible theanxiety from this last circumstance alone might have brought on arelapsehad I not been supplied by a travellerwho stopped to takea cursory refreshment. This person was no other than thephilanthropic bookseller in St. Paul's Churchyardwho has written somany little books for children: he called himself their friend; buthe was the friend of all mankind. He was no sooner alightedbut hewas in haste to be gone; for he was ever on business of the utmostimportanceand was at that time actually compiling materials for thehistory of one Mr. Thomas Trip. I immediately recollected thisgood-natured man's redpimpled face; for he had published for meagainst the Deuterogamists of the ageand from him I borrowed a fewpiecesto be paid at my return. Leaving the innthereforeas I wasyet but weakI resolved to return home by easy journeys of ten milesa day.
My health and usual tranquillity were almostrestoredand I now condemned that pride which had made me refractoryto the hand of correction. Man little knows what calamities arebeyond his patience to bear till he tries them; as in ascending theheights of ambition which look bright from belowevery step we riseshows us some new and gloomy prospect of hidden disappointment; so inour descent from the summits of pleasurethough the vale of miserybelow may appear at first dark and gloomyyet the busy mindstillattentive to its own amusementfinds as we descend something toflatter and to please. Still as we approachthe darkest objectsappear to brightenand the mental eye becomes adapted to its gloomysituation.
I now proceeded forwardand had walked abouttwo hourswhen I perceived what appeared at a distance like a wagonwhich I was resolved to overtake; but when I came up with it found itto be a strolling company's cartthat was carrying their scenes andother theatrical furniture to the next villagewhere they were toexhibit.
The cart was attendedonly by the person who drove it and one of the companyas the restof the players were to followthe ensuing day. "Good company upon the road" says theproverb"is the shortest cut;" I therefore entered intoconversation with the poor player; and as I once had some theatricalpowers myselfI disserted on such topics with my usual freedom; butas I was pretty much unacquainted with the present state of thestageI demanded who were the present theatrical writers in voguewho the Drydens and Otways of the day. "I fancysir"cried the player"few of our modern dramatists would thinkthemselves much honored by being compared to the writers you mention.Dryden's and Rowe's mannersirare quite out of fashion: our tastehas gone back a whole century; FletcherBen Jonsonand all theplays of Shakespeare are the only things that go down."
"How!"cried I"is it possible that the present age can be pleasedwith that antiquated dialectthat obsolete humorthose overchargedcharacters which abound in the works you mention?"
"Sir"returned my companion"the public think nothing about dialector humoror characterfor that is none of their business; they onlygo to be amusedand find themselves happy when they can enjoy apantomime under the sanction of Jonson's or Shakespeare's name."
"SothenI suppose" cried I"that our modern dramatists arerather imitators of Shakespeare than of nature?"
"To saythe truth" returned my companion"I don't know that theyimitate any thing at all; nor indeed does the public requireit of them: it is not the composition ofthe piecebut the number of starts and attitudes that may beintroduced into itthat elicits applause. I have known a piecewithnot one jest in the wholeshrugged into popularityand anothersaved by the poet's throwing in a fit of the gripes. Nosirtheworks of Congreve and Farquhar have too much wit in them for thepresent taste; our modern dialect is much more natural."
By this time theequipage of the strolling company was arrived at the villagewhichit seemshad been apprized of our approachand was come out to gazeat us; for my companion observedthat strollers have more spectatorswithout doors than within. I did not consider the impropriety of mybeing in such company till I saw a mob gather about me. I thereforetook shelteras fast as possiblein the first ale-house thatoffered; and being shown into the common roomwas accosted by a verywell-dressed gentlemanwho demanded whether I was the real chaplainof the companyor whether it was only to be my masquerade characterin the play. Upon my informing him of the truthand that I did notbelong in any sort to the companyhe was condescending enough todesire me and the player to partake in a bowl of punchover which hediscussed modern politics with great earnestness and interest. I sethim down in my own mind for nothing less than a parliament-man atleast: but was almost confirmed in my conjectureswhen uponasking what there was in the house forsupperhe insisted that the player and I should sup with him at hishouse; with which requestafter some entreatieswe were prevailedupon to comply.
Chapter 19 - The Description of a Person Discontented with thePresent Governmentand Apprehensive of the Loss of Our Liberties
THE house where wewere to be entertained lying at a small distance from the villageour inviter observed that as the coach was not readyhe wouldconduct us on footand we soon arrived at one of the mostmagnificent mansions I had seen in that part of the country. Theapartment into which we were shown was perfectly elegant and modern;he went to give orders for supperwhile the playerwith a winkobserved that we were perfectly in luck. Our entertainer soonreturnedan elegant supper was brought intwo or three ladies ineasy dishabille were introducedand the conversation began with somesprightliness. Politicshoweverwere the subject on which ourentertainer chiefly expatiated; for he asserted that liberty was atonce his boast and his terror. After the cloth was removedhe askedme if I had seen the last Monitorto which replying in the negative"What! nor the AuditorI suppose?" cried he.-"Neithersir" returned I."That's strangevery strange"replied my entertainer."NowI read all the politics thatcome out. The Dailythe Publicthe Ledgerthe ChronicletheLondon Eveningthe Whitehall Eveningthe seventeen magazinesandthe two reviews; and though they hate each otherI love them all.Libertysirliberty is the Briton's boastand by all my coal-minesin CornwallI reverence its guardians."
"Then it is to behoped" cried I"you reverence the king."
"Yes"returned my entertainer"when he does what we would have him;but if he goes onas he has done of lateI'll never trouble myselfmore with his matters. I say nothing. I think only. I could havedirected some things better. I don't think there has been asufficient number of advisers: he should advise with every personwilling to give him adviceand then we should have things done inanother guess manner."
"I wish" cried I"that suchintruding advisers were fixed in the pillory. It should be the dutyof honest men to assist the weaker side of our constitutionthatsacred power that has for some years been every day decliningandlosing its due share of influence in the state. But these ignorantsstill continue the same cry of libertyand if they had any weightbasely throw it into the subsiding scale."
"How" cried one of the ladies"doI live to see one so baseso sordidas to be an enemy to libertyand a defender of tyrants? Libertythat sacred gift of Heaventhatglorious privilege of Britons!"
"Can it be possible" cried ourentertainer"that there should be any found at presentadvocates for slavery? Any who are for meanly giving up theprivileges of Britons? Can anysirbe so abject?"
"Nosir"replied I"I am for libertythat attribute of God! Gloriousliberty! that theme of modern declamation. I would have all menkings. I would be a king myself. We have all naturally an equal rightto the throne; we are all originally equal. This is my opinionandwas once the opinion of a set of honest men who were calledLevellers. They tried to erect themselves into a communitywhere allshould be equally free. Butalas! it would never answer; for therewere some among them strongerand some more cunning than othersandthese became masters of the rest; for as sure as your groom ridesyour horsesbecause he is a cunninger animal than theyso surelywill the animal that is cunninger or stronger than hesit upon hisshoulders in turn. Sincethenit is entailed upon humanity tosubmitand some are born to command and others to obeythe questionisas there must be tyrantswhether it is better to have them inthe same house with usor in the same villageor still farther offin the metropolis. Nowsirfor my own partas I naturally hate theface of a tyrantthe farther off he is removed from methe betterpleased am I. The generality of mankind are also of my way ofthinkingand have unanimously created one kingwhose election at oncediminishes the number of tyrantsand puts tyranny at the greatestdistance from the greatest number of people. Nowthe great who weretyrants themselves before the election of one tyrantare naturallyaverse to a power raised over themand whose weight must ever leanheaviest on the subordinate orders. It is the interest of the greatthereforeto diminish kingly power as much as possible; becausewhatever they take from that is naturally restored to themselves; andall they have to do in the state is to undermine the single tyrantby which they resume their primeval authority. Now the state may beso circumstancedor its laws may be so disposedor its men ofopulence so mindedas all to conspire in carrying on this businessof undermining monarchy. Forin the first placeif thecircumstances of our state be such as to favor the accumulation ofwealthand make the opulent still more richthis will increasetheir ambition. An accumulation of wealthhowevermust necessarilybe the consequence whenas at presentmore riches flow in fromexternal commerce than arise from internal industry; for externalcommerce can only be managed to advantage by the richand they havealso at the same time all the emoluments arising from internalindustry; so that the richwith ushave two sources of wealthwhereas the poor have but one. For this reasonwealth in allcommercial states isfound to accumulateand all such havehitherto in time become aristocratical.
"Againthe very laws also of this countrymay contribute to the accumulation of wealthas when by their meansthe natural ties that bind the rich and poor together are brokenandit is ordained that the rich shall only marry with the rich; or whenthe learned are held unqualified to serve their country ascounsellors merely from a defect of opulenceand wealth is thus madethe object of a wise man's ambition; by these meansI sayand suchmeans as theseriches will accumulate. Now the possessor ofaccumulated wealthwhen furnished with the necessaries and pleasuresof lifehas no other method to employ the superfluity of his fortunebut in purchasing power. That isdifferently speakingin makingdependentsby purchasing the liberty of the needy or the venalofmen who are willing to bear the mortification of contiguous tyrannyfor bread. Thus each very opulent man generally gathers round him acircle of the poorest of the people: and the polityabounding inaccumulated wealthmay be compared to a Cartesian systemeach orbwith a vortex of its own. Thosehoweverwho are willing to move ina great man's vortex are only such as must be slaves-the rabble ofmankindwhose souls and whose education are adapted to servitudeand who know nothing of liberty except the name.
"But there muststill be a large number of people without thesphere of the opulent man's influence; namelythat order of menwhich subsists between the very rich and the very rabble; those menwho are possessed of too large fortunes to submit to the neighboringman in powerand yet are too poor to set up for tyranny themselves.In this middle order of mankind are generally to be found all theartswisdomand virtues of society. This order alone is known to bethe true preserver of freedomand may be called THE PEOPLE. Now itmay happen that this middle order of mankind may lose all itsinfluence in a state and its voice be in a manner drowned in that ofthe rabble; for if the fortune sufficient for qualifying a person atpresent to give his voice in state affairsbe ten times less thanwas judged sufficient upon forming the constitutionit is evidentthat great numbers of the rabble will thus be introduced into thepolitical systemand they ever moving in the vortex of the greatwill follow where greatness shall direct. In such a statethereforeall that the middle order has leftis to preserve the prerogativeand privileges of the one principal governor with the most sacredcircumspection. For he divides the power of the richand calls offthe great from falling with tenfold weight on the middle order placedbeneath them. The middle order may be compared to a town of which theopulent are forming the siegeand to which the governor from withoutis hastening the relief. While the besiegers are in dreadof an enemy over themit is but natural tooffer the townsmen the most specious terms; to flatter them withsoundsand amuse them with privileges; but if they once defeat thegovernor from behindthe walls of the town will be but a smalldefence to its inhabitants. What they may then expectmay be seen byturning our eyes to HollandGenoaor Venicewhere the laws governthe poorand the rich govern the laws. I amthenforand woulddie formonarchysacred monarchy; for if there be any thing sacredamongst menit must be the anointed sovereign of his peopleandevery diminution of his powerin war or in peaceis an infringementupon the real liberties of the subject. The sounds of libertypatriotismand Britonshave already done much; it is to be hopedthat the true sons of freedom will prevent their ever doing more. Ihave known many of those pretended champions for liberty in my timeyet I do not remember one that was not in his heart and in his familya tyrant."
My warmth I found hadlengthened this harangue beyond the rules of good breeding; but theimpatience of my entertainerwho often strove to interrupt itcouldbe restrained no longer. "What!" cried he"then Ihave been all this while entertaining a Jesuit in parson's clothes;but by all the coal-mines of Cornwallout he shall packif my namebe Wilkinson." I now found I had gone too farand asked pardonfor the warmth with which I had spoken. "Pardon!" returned he in a fury; "Ithink such principles demand ten thousand pardons. Whatgive uplibertypropertyandas the Gazetteer sayslie down to be saddledwith wooden shoes! SirI insist upon your marching out of this houseimmediatelyto prevent worse consequences. SirI insist upon it."I was going to repeat my remonstrancesbut just then we heard afootman's rap at the doorand the two ladies cried out: "Assure as death there is our master and mistress come home." Itseems my entertainer was all this while only the butlerwhoin hismaster's absencehad a mind to cut a figureand be for a while thegentleman himself; andto say the truthhe talked politics as wellas most country-gentlemen do. But nothing could now exceed myconfusion upon seeing the gentleman and his lady enter; nor was theirsurprise at finding such company and good cheer less than ours."Gentlemen" cried the real master of the house to me andmy companion"my wife and I are your most humble servants; butI protest this is so unexpected a favor that we almost sink under theobligation." However unexpected our company might be to themtheirsI am sure was still more so to usand I was struck dumb withthe apprehensions of my own absurditywhen whom should I next seeenter the room but my dear Miss Arabella Wilmotwho was formerlydesigned to be married to my son George; but whose match was brokenoff as already related. As soon as she saw meshe flew to my armswith the utmost joy. "My dearsir"cried she"to what happy accident is it that we owe sounexpected a visit? I am sure my uncle and aunt will be in raptureswhen they find they have the good Doctor Primrose for their guest."Upon hearing my namethe old gentleman and lady very politelystepped upand welcomed me with most cordial hospitality. Nor couldthey forbear smiling upon being informed of the nature of my presentvisit; but the unfortunate butlerwhom they at first seemed disposedto turn awaywas at my intercession forgiven.
Mr. Arnold and hisladyto whom the house belongednow insisted upon having thepleasure of my stay for some daysand as their niecemy charmingpupilwhose mind in some measure had been formed under my owninstructionsjoined in their entreatiesI complied. That night Iwas shown to a magnificent chamberand the next morning early MissWilmot desired to walk with me in the gardenwhich was decorated inthe modern manner. After some time spent in pointing out the beautiesof the placeshe inquired with seeming unconcern when last I hadheard from my son George. "Alas! madam" cried I"hehas now been nearly three years absentwithout ever writing to hisfriends or me. Where he is I know not: perhaps I shall never see himor happiness more. Nomy dear madamwe shall never more see suchpleasing hours as were once spent by our fireside at Wakefield.My little family are now dispersing veryfastand poverty has brought not only want but infamy upon us."The good-natured girl let fall a tear at this account; but as I sawher possessed of too much sensibilityI forbore a more minute detailof our sufferings. It washoweversome consolation to me to findthat time had made no alteration in her affectionsand that she hadrejected several offers that had been made her since our leaving herpart of the country. She led me round all the extensive improvementsof the placepointing to the several walks and arborsand at thesame time catching from every object a hint for some new questionrelative to my son.
In this manner wespent the forenoontill the bell summoned us to dinnerwhere wefound the manager of the strolling company that I mentioned beforewho was come to dispose of tickets for "The Fair Penitent"which was to be acted that eveningthe part of Horatio by a younggentleman who had never appeared on any stage. He seemed to be verywarm in-the praise of the new performerand averred that he neversaw any who bid so fair for excellence. Actinghe observedwas notlearned in a day; "but this gentleman." continued he"seems born to tread the stage. His voicehis figureandattitudes are all admirable. We caught him up accidentally in ourjourney down." This accountin some measureexcited ourcuriosityandat the entreaty of the ladiesI was prevailed uponto accompanythem to the playhousewhich was no otherthan a barn. As the company with which I went was incontestably thechief of the placewe were received with the greatest respectandplaced in the front seat of the theatrewhere we sat for some timewith no small impatience to see Horatia make his appearance. The newperformer advanced at last; and let parents think of my sensations bytheir ownwhen I found it was my unfortunate son. He was going tobeginwhenturning his eyes upon the audiencehe perceived MissWilmot and meand stood at once speechless and immovable.
The actors behind thescenewho ascribed this pause to his natural timidityattempted toencourage him; but instead of going onhe burst into a flood oftearsand retired off the stage. I don't know what were my feelingson this occasionfor they succeeded with too much rapidity fordescription; but I was soon awakened from this disagreeable revery byMiss Wilmotwhopale and with a trembling voicedesired me toconduct her back to her uncle's. When we got homeMr. Arnoldwhowas as yet a stranger to our extraordinary behaviorbeing informedthat the new performer was my sonsent his coach and an invitationfor him; and as he persisted in his refusal to appear again upon thestagethe players put another in his placeand we soon had him withus. Mr. Arnold gave him the kindest receptionand I received himwith myusual transport; for I could nevercounterfeit false resentment. Miss Wilmot's reception was mixed withseeming neglectand yet I could perceive she acted a studied part.The tumult in her mind seemed not yet abated; she said twenty giddythings that looked like joyand then laughed loud at her own want ofmeaning. At intervals she would take a sly peep at the glassas ifhappy in the consciousness of irresistible beautyand often wouldask questions without giving any manner of attention to the answers.
Chapter 20 - The History of a Philosophic VagabondPursuingNoveltybut Losing Content
AFTER we had suppedMrs. Arnold politelyoffered to send a couple of her footmen for my son's baggage; whichhe at first seemed to decline; but upon her pressing the requesthewas obliged to inform herthat a stick and a wallet were all themovable things upon this earth that he could boast of. "Whyaymy son" cried I"you left me but poorand poor I findyou are come back; and yet I make no doubt you have seen a great dealof the world."
"Yessir" replied my son; "buttravelling after fortune is not the way to secure her; and indeedoflate I have desisted from the pursuit."
"I fancysir"cried Mrs. Arnold"that the account of your adventures would beamusing: the first part of them I have often heard from my niece; butcould the company prevail for the restit would be an additionalobligation."
"Madam"replied my son"I promise you the pleasure you have in hearingwill not be half so great as my vanity in repeating them; and yet inthe whole narrativeI can scarcely promise you one adventureas my account is rather of what I saw than what I did. The firstmisfortune of my lifewhich you all knowwas great; butthough itdistressedit could not sink me. No person ever had a better knackat hoping than I. The less kind I found fortune at one timethe moreI expected from her anotherand being now at the bottom of herwheelevery new revolution might liftbut could not depress me. Iproceededthereforetoward London in a fine morningno way uneasyabout to-morrow; but cheerful as the birds that carolled by the roadand comforted myself with reflecting that London was the mart whereabilities of every kind were sure of meeting distinction and reward.
"Upon my arrivalin townsirmy first care was to deliver your letter ofrecommendation to our cousinwho was himself in little bettercircumstances than I. My first schemeyou knowsirwas to be anusher in an academyand I asked his advice on the affair. Our cousinreceived the proposal with a true sardonic grin. 'Ay' cried he'this is indeed a very pretty career that has been chalked out foryou. I have been an usher at a boarding-school myself; and may I dieby an anodyne necklacebut I had rather be an under-turnkey inNewgate. I was up early and late: I was browbeat by the masterhatedfor my ugly face by the mistressworried by the boys withinandnever permitted to stir out to meet civility abroad. But are yousure you are fit for a school? Let meexamine you a little. Have you been bred apprentice to thebusiness?'-'No.'-'Then you won't do for a school. Can you dress theboys' hair?'-'No.'-'Then you won't do for a school. Have you had thesmall-pox?'-'No.'-'Then you won't do for a school. Can you lie threein a bed?'-'No.'-'Then you will never do for a school. Have you got agood stomach?'-'Yes.'-'Then you will by no means do for a school. Nosirif you are for a genteeleasy professionbind yourself sevenyears as an apprentice to turn a cutler's wheelbut avoid a schoolby any means. 'Yet come' continued he'I see you are a lad ofspirit and some learning; what do you think of commencing authorlike me? You have read in booksno doubtof men of genius starvingat the trade. At present I'll show you forty very dull fellows abouttown that live by it in opulence;-all honest jogtrot menwho go onsmoothly and dullyand write history and politicsand are praised;mensirwhohad they been bred cobblerswould all their liveshave only mended shoesbut never made them.'
"Finding thatthere was no great degree of gentility affixed to the character of anusherI resolved to accept his proposal; and having the highestrespect for literaturehailed the antiqua mater of Grub Street withreverence. I thought it my glory to pursue a track which Dryden andOtway trod before me; I considered the goddess of this region as theparent ofexcellence; and however an intercourse withthe world might give us good sensethe poverty she entailed Isupposed to be the true nurse of genius. Big with these reflectionsI sat downand finding that the best things remained to be said onthe wrong sideI resolved to write a book that should be wholly new.I therefore dressed up three paradoxes with some ingenuity. They werefalseindeedbut they were new. The jewels of truth have been sooften imported by othersthat nothing was left for me to importbutsome splendid things thatat a distancelooked every bit as well.Witnessyou powerswhat fancied importance sat perched upon myquill while I was writing! The whole learned worldI made no doubtwould rise to oppose my systems; but then I was prepared to opposethe whole learned world. Like the porcupineI sat selfcollectedwith a quill pointed against every opposer."
"Well saidmy boy" cried I; "andwhat subject did you treat upon? I hope you did not pass over theimportance of monogamy. But I interruptgo on: you published yourparadoxes; welland what did the learned world say to yourparadoxes?"
"Sir" replied my son"thelearned world said nothing to my paradoxes; nothing at allsir.Every man of them was employed in praising his friends and himselfor condemning his enemiesand unfortunatelyas I had neitherIsuffered the cruellest mortificationneglect.
"As I was meditating one day in acoffee-house on the fate of my paradoxesa little man happening toenter the roomplaced himself in the box before meand after somepreliminary discoursefinding me to be a scholardrew out a bundleof proposalsbegging me to subscribe to a new edition he was goingto give to the world of Propertiuswith notes. This demandnecessarily produced a reply that I had no money; and that concessionled him to inquire into the nature of my expectations. Finding thatmy expectations were just as great as my purse'I see' cried he'you are unacquainted with the town; I'll teach you a part of it.Look at these proposals; upon these very proposals I have subsistedvery comfortably for twelve years. The moment a nobleman returns fromhis travelsa Creolian arrives from Jamaicaor a dowager from acountry-seatI strike for a subscription. I first besiege theirhearts with flatteryand then pour in my proposals at the breach. Ifthey subscribe readily the first timeI renew my request to beg adedication fee. If they let me have thatI smite them once more forengraving their coat-of-arms at the top. Thus' continued he'I liveby vanityand laugh at it. Butbetween ourselvesI am toowell-known; I should be glad to borrow your face a bit: a nobleman ofdistinction has just returned from Italy; my face is familiar to hisporter; but if you bring this copy of versesmy life for it yousucceedand we divide the spoil."
"Bless usGeorge" cried I"andis this the employment of poets now? Do men of their exalted talentsthus stoop to beggary? Can they so far disgrace their calling as tomake a vile traffic of praise for bread?"
"Ohnosir" returned he"atrue poet can never be so base; for wherever there is genius there ispride. The creatures I now describe are only beggars in rhyme. Thereal poetas he braves every hardship for fameso he is equally acoward to contempt; and none but those who are unworthy protectioncondescend to solicit it.
"Having a mindtoo proud to stoop to such indignitiesand yet a fortune too humbleto hazard a second attempt for fameI was now obliged to take amiddle courseand write for bread. But I was unqualified for aprofession where mere industry alone was to ensure success. I couldnot suppress my lurking passion for applause; but usually consumedthat time in efforts after excellence which takes up but little roomwhen it should have been more advantageously employed in thediffusive productions of fruitful mediocrity. My little piece wouldtherefore come forth in the midst of periodical publicationsunnoticed and unknown. The public were more importantly employed thanto observe the easy simplicity of my styleor the harmony of myperiods. Sheet after sheet was thrown off to oblivion. My essays wereburied among the essays upon libertyEastern talesand cures forthe bite of a mad dog;while PhilautosPhilalethesPhilelutherosand Philanthroposall wrote betterbecause theywrote fasterthan I.
"NowthereforeI began to associate withnone but disappointed authors like myselfwho praiseddeploredanddespised each other. The satisfaction we found in every celebratedwriter's attempt was inversely as their merits. I found that nogenius in another could please me. My unfortunate paradoxes hadentirely dried up that source of comfort. I could neither read norwrite with satisfaction; for excellence in any other was my aversionand writing was my trade.
"In the midst of these gloomy reflectionsas I was one day sitting on a bench in St. James' Parka younggentleman of distinctionwho had been my intimate acquaintance atthe universityapproached me. We saluted each other with somehesitation; he almost ashamed of being known to one who made soshabby an appearanceand I afraid of a repulse. But my suspicionssoon vanished; for Ned Thornhill was at the bottom a verygood-natured fellow."
"What did you sayGeorge?"interrupted I"Thornhillwas not that his name? It cancertainly be no other than my landlord."
"Bless me"cried Mrs. Arnold"is Mr. Thornhill so near a neighbor ofyours? He has long been a friend in our familyand we expect a visitfrom him shortly."
"My friend's first care" continued myson"was to alter my appearance by a fine suit of his ownclothesand then I was admitted to his tableupon the footing ofhalf friendhalf underling. My business was to attend him atauctionsto put him in spirits when he sat for his pictureto takethe left hand in his chariot when not filled by anotherand toassist at tattering a kipas the phrase waswhen he had a mind fora frolic. Besides thisI had twenty other little employments in thefamily. I was to do many small things without bidding; to carry thecorkscrew; to stand godfather to all the butler's children; to singwhen I was bid; to be never out of humor; always to be humbleandif I couldto be very happy.
"In thishonorable posthoweverI was not without a rival. A captain ofmarineswho was formed for the place by natureopposed me in mypatron's affections. His mother had been laundress to a man ofqualityand thus he early acquired a taste for pimping and pedigree.As this gentleman made it a study of his life to be acquainted withlordsthough he was dismissed from several for his stupidityyet hefound many of them who were as dull as himselfthat permitted hisassiduities. As flattery was his tradehe practiced it with theeasiest address imaginable; but it came awkward and stiff from me;and as every day my patron's desire of flattery increasedso everyhour being better acquainted with his defectsI became more unwillingto give it. Thus I was once more fairly going to give up the field tothe captainwhen my friend found occasion for my assistance. Thiswas nothing less than to fight a duel for himwith a gentleman whosesister it was pretended he had used ill. I readily complied with hisrequest; and though I see you are displeased with my conductyet asit was a debt indispensably due to friendshipI could not refuse. Iundertook the affairdisarmed my antagonistand soon after had thepleasure of finding that the lady was only a woman of the townandthe fellow her bully and a sharper. This piece of service was repaidwith the warmest professions of gratitude; but as my friend was toleave town in a few dayshe knew no other method of serving mebutby recommending me to his uncleSir William Thornhilland anothernobleman of great distinctionwho enjoyed a post under thegovernment. When he was gonemy first care was to carry hisrecommendatory letter to his unclea man whose character for everyvirtue was universalyet just. I was received by his servants withthe most hospitable smiles; for the looks of the domestics evertransmit their master's benevolence. Being shown into a grandapartmentwhere Sir William soon came to meI delivered my messageand letterwhich he readand after pausing some minutes-'Praysir' cried he'inform me what you have done for my kinsmantodeserve this warm recommendation! But I supposesirI guessyour meritsyou have fought for him; and so you would expect areward from me for being the instrument of his vices. I wishsincerely wishthat my present refusal may be some punishment f oryour guilt; but still morethat it may be some inducement to yourrepentance.'-The severity of this rebuke I bore patientlybecause Iknew it was just. My whole expectations nowthereforelay in myletter to the great man. As the doors of the nobility are almost everbeset with beggarsall ready to thrust in some sly petitionI foundit no easy matter to gain admittance. Howeverafter bribing theservants with half my worldly fortuneI was at last shown into aspacious apartmentmy letter being previously sent up for hislordship's inspection. During this anxious interval I had full timeto look round me. Every thing was grand and of happy contrivance; thepaintingsthe furniturethe gildingspetrified me with aweandraised my idea of the owner. Ahthought I to myselfhow very greatmust the possessor of all these things bewho carries in his headthe business of the stateand whose house displays half the wealthof a kingdom; sure his genius must be unfathomable! During theseawful reflections I heard a step come heavily forward. Ahthis isthe great man himself! Noit was only a chamber-maid. Another footwas heard soon after. This must be he! Noit was only the greatman's valet de chambreAt last his lordship actuallymade his appearance. 'Are you' cried he'the bearer of this here letter?' I answered with a bow. 'I learn bythis' continued he'as how that'-But just at that instant a servantdelivered him a cardand without taking further noticehe went outof the roomand left me to digest my own happiness at leisure. I sawno more of himtill told by a footman that his lordship was going tohis coach at the door. Down I immediately followedand joined myvoice to that of three or four morewho camelike meto petitionfor favors. His lordshiphoweverwent too fast for usand wasgaining his chariot door with large strideswhen I hallooed out toknow if I was to have any reply. He was by this time got inandmuttered an answerhalf of which only I heardthe other half waslost in the rattling of his chariot wheels. I stood for some timewith my neck stretched outin the posture of one that was listeningto catch the glorious soundstilllooking round meI found myselfalone at his lordship's gate.
"My patience"continued my son"was now quite exhausted; stung with thethousand indignities I had met withI was willing to cast myselfawayand only wanted the gulf to receive me. I regarded myself asone of those vile things that nature designed should be thrown byinto her lumber-roomthere to perish in obscurity. I had stillhoweverhalf a guinea leftand of that I thought Fortune herselfshould not deprive me; butin order to be sure of thisI was resolved to go instantly and spendit while I had itand then trust to occurrence for the rest. As Iwas going with this resolutionit happened that Mr. Crispe's officeseemed invitingly open to give me a welcome reception. In this officeMr. Crispe kindly offers all his Majesty's subjects a generouspromise of thirty pounds a year; for which promise all they give inreturn is their liberty for lifeand permission to let him transportthem to America as slaves. I was happy at finding a place where Icould lose my fears in desperationand entered this cellfor it hadthe appearance of onewith the devotion of a monastic. Here I founda number of poor creaturesall in circumstances like myselfexpecting the arrival of Mr. Crispepresenting a true epitome ofEnglish impatience. Each untractable soulat variance with Fortunewreaked her injuries on their own hearts; but Mr. Crispe at last camedownand all our murmurs were hushed. He deigned to regard me withan air of peculiar approbationand indeed he was the first man whofor a month past had talked to me with smiles. After a few questionshe found I was fit for every thing in the world. He paused a whileupon the properest means of providing for meand slapping hisforehead as if he had found itassured me that there was at thattime an embassy talked of from the synod of Pennsylvania to theChickasaw Indiansand that he would use his interest to get memade secretary. I knew in my own heart thatthe fellow liedand yet his promise gave me pleasure; there wassomething so magnificent in the sound. I fairlythereforedividedmy half guineaone-half of which went to be added to his thirtythousand poundand with the other half I resolved to go to the nexttavern to be there more happy than he.
"As I was goingout with that resolutionI was met at the door by the captain of ashipwith whom I had formerly some little acquaintanceand heagreed to be my companion over a bowl of punch. As I never chose tomake a secret of my circumstanceshe assured me that I was upon thevery point of ruin in listening to the office-keeper's promises; forthat he only designed to sell me to the plantations. 'But' continuedhe'I fancy you mightby a much shorter voyagebe very easily putinto a genteel way of bread. Take my advice. My ship sails to-morrowfor Amsterdam; what if you go in her as a passenger? The moment youlandall you have to do is to teach the Dutchmen Englishand I'llwarrant you'll get pupils and money enough. I suppose you understandEnglish' added he'by this timeor the deuce is in it.' Iconfidently assured him of that but expressed a doubt whether theDutch would be willing to learn English. He affirmedwith an oaththat they were fond of it to distraction; and upon that affirmation Iagreed with his proposaland embarked the next day to teach theDutch English in Holland.The wind was fairour voyage shortandafter having paid my passage with half my movablesI found myselfas fallen from the skiesa stranger in one of the principal streetsof Amsterdam. In this situation I was unwilling to let any time passunemployed in teaching. I addressed myselfthereforeto two orthree of those I metwhose appearance seemed most promising; but itwas impossible to make ourselves mutually understood. It was not tillthis very moment I recollected thatin order to teach the DutchmenEnglishit was necessary that they should first teach me Dutch. HowI came to overlook so obvious an objection is to me amazing; butcertain it is I overlooked it.
"This scheme thus blown upI had somethoughts of fairly shipping back to England again; but falling intocompany with an Irish student who was returning from Louvainourconversation turning upon topics of literature (forby the wayitmay be observed that I always forgot the meanness of my circumstanceswhen I could converse upon such subjects)from him I learned thatthere were not two men in his whole university who understood Greek.This amazed me. I instantly resolved to travel to Louvainand therelive by teaching Greek; and in this design I was heartened by mybrother studentwho threw out some hints that a fortune might be gotby it.
"I set boldlyforward the next morning. Every day lessened the burden of mymovableslike AEsop and hisbasket of bread; for I paid them for mylodgings to the Dutch as I travelled on. When I came to LouvainIwas resolved not to go sneaking to the lower professors; but openlytendered my talents to the principal himself. I wenthad admittanceand offered him my service as a master of the Greek languagewhich Ihad been told was a desideratum in this university. The principalseemed at first to doubt my abilities; but of these I offered toconvince himby turning a part of any Greek author he should fixupon into Latin. Finding me perfectly earnest in my proposalsheaddressed me thus: 'You see meyoung man' continued he'I neverlearned Greekand I don't find that I have ever missed it. I havehad a doctor's cap and gown without Greek! I have ten thousandflorins a year without Greek; I eat heartily without Greek; andinshort' continued he'as I don't know GreekI do not believe thereis any good in it.'
"I was now toofar from home to think of returning; so I resolved to go forward. Ihad some knowledge of musicwith a tolerable voiceand now turnedwhat was once my amusement into a present means of subsistence. Ipassed among the harmless peasants of Flandersand among such of theFrench as were poor enough to be very merry; for I ever found themsprightly in proportion to their wants. Whenever I approached apeasant's house toward night-fallI played one of my most merrytunesand that procured me not only a lodging. but subsistence for the next day. I once ortwice attempted to play for people of fashion; but they alwaysthought my performance odiousand never rewarded me even with atrifle. This was to me the more extraordinaryas whenever I used inbetter days to play for companywhen playing was my amusementmymusic never failed to throw them into rapturesand the ladiesespecially; but as it was now my only meansit was received withcontempt; a proof how ready the world is to underrate those talentsby which a man is supported.
"In this mannerI proceeded to Pariswith no design but just to look about meandthen to go forward. The people of Paris are much fender of strangersthat have money than of those that have wit. As I could not boastmuch of eitherI was no great favorite. After walking about the townfour or five daysand seeing the outside of the best housesI waspreparing to leave this retreat of venal hospitalitywhen passingthrough one of the principal streetswhom should I meet but ourcousin to whom you first recommended me. This meeting was veryagreeable to meand I believe not displeasing to him. He inquiredinto the nature of my journey to Parisand informed me of his ownbusiness therewhich was to collect picturesmedalsintagliosandantiques of all kindsfor a gentleman in Londonwho had juststepped into taste and a large fortune. I was the more surprised atseeing our cousinpitched upon for this officeas he himselfhad often assured me he knew nothing of the matter. Upon asking howhe had been taught the art of a cognoscento so very suddenlyheassured me that nothing was more easy. The whole secret consisted ina strict adherence to two rules: the onealways to observe thepicture might have been better if the painter had taken more pains;and the otherto praise the works of Pietro Perugino. 'But' sayshe'as I once taught you how to be an author in LondonI'll nowundertake to instruct you in the art of picture-buying at Paris.'
"With thisproposal I very readily closedas it was livingand now all myambition was to live. I wentthereforeto his lodgingsimproved mydress by his assistanceand after some time accompanied him toauctions of pictureswhere the English gentry were expected to bepurchasers. I was not a little surprised at his intimacy with peopleof the best fashionwho referred themselves to his judgment uponevery picture or medalas to an unerring standard of taste. He madevery good use of my assistance upon these occasions; for when askedhis opinionhe would gravely take me aside and ask mineshruglookwisereturnand assure the company that he could give no opinionupon an affair of so much importance. Yet there was sometimes anoccasion for a more supported assurance. I remember to have seen himafter giving his opinion that the coloring of a picture was notmellow enoughverydeliberately take a brush with brownvarnishthat was accidentally lying byand rub it over the piecewith great composure before all the companyand then ask if he hadnot improved the tints.
"When he hadfinished his commission in Parishe left me strongly recommended toseveral men of distinctionas a person very proper for a travellingtutor; and after some time I was employed in that capacity by agentleman who brought his ward to Parisin order to set him forwardon his tour through Europe. I was to be the young gentleman'sgovernor; but with a provisothat he should always be permitted togovern himself. My pupilin factunderstood the art of guiding inmoney concerns much better than I. He was heir to a fortune of abouttwo hundred thousand poundsleft him by an uncle in the West Indiesand his guardiansto qualify him for the management of ithad boundhim apprentice to an attorney. Thus avarice was his prevailingpassion; all his questions on the road were how money might be saved;which was the least expensive course of travel; whether any thingcould be bought that would turn to account when disposed of again inLondon. Such curiosities on the way as could be seen for nothing hewas ready enough to look at; but if the sight of them was to be paidfor he usually asserted that he had been told they were not worthseeing. He never paid a bill that be would not observe how amazinglyexpensive travelling wasandall this though he was not yet twenty-one.When arrived at Leghornas we took a walk to look at the port andshippinghe inquired the expense of the passage by sea home toEngland. This he was informed was but a trifle compared to hisreturning by land; he was therefore unable to withstand thetemptation; so paying me the small part of my salary that was duehetook leaveand embarked with only one attendant for London.
"I nowthereforewas left once more upon the world at large; but then itwas a thing I was used to. Howevermy skill in music could avail menothing in a country where every peasant was a better musician thanI; but by this time I had acquired another talentwhich answered mypurpose as welland this was a skill in disputation. In all theforeign universities and convents there are upon certain daysphilosophical theses maintained against every adventitious disputant;for whichif the champion opposes with any dexterityhe can claim agratuity in moneya dinnerand a bed for one night. In this mannerthereforeI fought my way towards Englandwalking along from cityto cityexamined mankind more nearlyandif I may so express itsaw both sides of the picture. My remarkshoweverare but few; Ifound that monarchy was the best government for the poor to live inand commonwealths for the rich. I found that riches in general werein every country another namefor freedom; and that no man is so fond ofliberty himselfas not to be desirous of subjecting the will of someindividuals in society to his own.
"Upon my arrival in England I resolved topay my respects first to youand then to enlist as a volunteer inthe first expedition that was going forward; but on my journey downmy resolutions were changed by meeting an old acquaintancewhoIfoundbelonged to a company of comedians that were going to make asummer campaign in the country. The company seemed not much todisapprove of me for an associate. They all however apprized me ofthe importance of the task at which I aimed; that the public was amany-headed monster; and that only such as had very good heads couldplease it: that acting was not to be learned in a day; and thatwithout some traditional shrugswhich had been on the stageandonly on the stagethese three hundred yearsI could never pretendto please. The next difficulty was in fitting me with partsasalmost every character was in keeping. I was driven for some timefrom one character to anothertill at last Horatio was fixed uponwhich the presence of the present company has happily hindered mefrom acting."
Chapter 21 - The Short Continuance of Friendship among theViciousWhich is Coeval only with Mutual Satisfaction
My son's account was too long to be delivered atonce; the first part of it was begun that nightand he wasconcluding the rest after dinner the next daywhen the appearance ofMr. Thornhill's equipage at the door seemed to make a pause in thegeneral satisfaction. The butlerwho was now become my friend in thefamilyinformed me with a whisper that the 'Squire had already madesome overtures to Miss Wilmotand that her aunt and uncle seemedhighly to approve the match. Upon Mr. Thornhill's enteringhe seemedat seeing my son and me to start back; but I readily imputed that tosurprise and not displeasure. Howeverupon our advancing to salutehimhe returned our greeting with the most apparent candor; andafter a short time his presence served only to increase the generalgood-humor
After tea he calledme aside to inquire after my daughter; but upon my informing him thatmy inquiry was unsuccessfulhe seemed greatly surprised; addingthat he had been since frequently at myhouse in order to comfort the rest of my familywhom he leftperfectly well. He then asked if I had communicated her misfortune toMiss Wilmot or my son; and upon my replying that I had not told themas yethe greatly approved my prudence and precautiondesiring meby all means to keep it a secret. "For at best' 'cried he"itis but divulging one's own infamy; and perhaps Miss Livy may not beso guilty as we all imagine." We were here interrupted by aservantwho came to ask the 'Squire in to stand up at countrydances; so that he left me quite pleased with the interest he seemedto take in my concerns. His addresseshoweverto Miss Wilmot weretoo obvious to be mistaken; and yet she seemed not perfectly pleasedbut bore them rather in compliance to the will of her aunt than fromreal inclination. I had even the satisfaction to see her lavish somekind looks upon my unfortunate sonwhich the other could neitherextort by his fortune nor assiduity. Mr. Thornhill's seemingcomposurehowevernot a little surprised me. We had now continuedhere a weekat the pressing instance of Mr. Arnold; but each day themore tenderness Miss Wilmot showed my sonMr. Thornhill's friendshipseemed proportionably to increase for him.
He had formerly madeus the most kind assurances of using his interest to serve thefamily; but now his generosity was not confined to promises alone.Themorning I designed for my departureMr.Thornhill came to mewith looks of real pleasureto inform me of apiece of service he had done for his friend George. This was nothingless than his having procured him an ensign's commission in one ofthe regiments that was going to the West Indiesfor which he hadpromised but one hundred poundshis interest having been sufficientto get an abatement of the other two. "As for this triflingpiece of service" continued the young gentleman"I desireno other reward but the pleasure of having served my friend; and asfor the hundred pounds to be paidif you are unable to raise ityourselvesI will advance itand you shall repay me at yourleisure." This was a favor we wanted words to express our senseof; I readily therefore gave my bond for the moneyand testified asmuch gratitude as if I never intended to pay.
George was to departfor town the next day to secure his commissionin pursuance of hisgenerous patron's directionswho judged it highly expedient to usedespatchlestin the meantimeanother should step in with moreadvantageous proposals. The next morningthereforeour youngsoldier was early prepared for his departureand seemed the onlyperson among us that was not affected by it. Neither the fatigues anddangers he was going to encounternor the friends and mistress (forMiss Wilmot actually loved him) he was leaving behindany way dampedhis spirits. After hehad taken leave of the rest of the companyI gave him all I hadmy blessing. "And nowmy boy" criedI"thou art going to fight for thy country; remember how thybrave grandfather fought for his sacred kingwhen loyalty amongBritons was a virtue. Gomy boyand imitate him in all but hismisfortunesif it was a misfortune to die with Lord Falkland. Gomyboyand if you fallthough distantexposedand unwept by thosethat love youthe most precious tears are those with which Heavenbedews the unburied head of a soldier."
The next morning Itook leave of the good family that had been kind enough to entertainme so longnot without several expressions of gratitude to Mr.Thornhill for his late bounty. I left them in the enjoyment of allthat happiness which affluence and good breeding procureandreturned towards homedespairing of ever finding my daughter morebut sending a sigh to Heaven to spare and forgive her. I was now comewithin about twenty miles of homehaving hired a horse to carry meas I was yet but weakand comforted myself with the hopes of soonseeing all I held dearest upon earth. But the night coming onI putup at a little public house by the roadsideand asked for thelandlord's company over a pint of wine. We sat beside his kitchenfirewhich was the best room in the houseand chatted on politicsand the news of the country. We happenedamong other topicsto talkofyoung 'Squire Thornhillwhothe hostassured me was hated as much as his uncleSir Williamwho sometimescame down to the countrywas loved. He went on to observethat hemade it his whole study to betray the daughters of such as receivedhim into their housesand after a fortnight or three weeks'possessionturned them out unrewarded and abandoned to the world.
As we continued ourdiscourse in this mannerhis wifewho had been out to get changereturnedand perceiving that her husband was enjoying a pleasure inwhich she was not a sharershe asked himin an angry tonewhat hedid there; to which he only replied in an ironical wayby drinkingher health. "Mr. Symonds" cried she"you use me veryilland I'll bear it no longer. Here three parts of the business isleft for me to doand the fourth left unfinished; while you donothing but soak with the guests all day long; whereas if a spoonfulof liquor were to cure me of a feverI never touch a drop." Inow found what she would be atand immediately poured her out aglasswhich she received with a courtesyand drinking towards mygood health. "Sir" resumed she"it is not so muchfor the value of the liquor I am angrybut one cannot help it whenthe house is going out of the windows. If the customers or guests areto be dunnedall the burden lies upon my back; he'd as lief eat thatglass as budge after them himself. Therenowabove-stairswe have a young womanwho has come to take up her lodgings hereand I don't believe shehas got any moneyby her over-civility. I am certain she is veryslow of paymentand I wish she were put in mind of it." "Whatsignifies minding her?" cried the host; "if she be slow sheis sure."
"I don't know that" replied the wife: "butI know that I am sure she has been here a fortnightand we have notyet seen the cross of her money."
"I supposemy dear"cried he"we shall have it all in a lump."
"In alump!" cried the other. "I hope we may get it in any way;and that I am resolved we will this very nightor out she trampsbag and baggage."
"Considermy dear" cried thehusband"she is a gentlewomanand deserves more respect."
"Asfor the matter of that" returned the hostess"gentle orsimpleout she shall pack with a sussarara. Gentry may be goodthings where they take; but for my part I never saw much good of themat the sign of the Harrow."
Thus sayingshe ranup a narrow flight of stairs that went from the kitchen to a roomoverheadand I soon perceivedby the loudness of her voiceand thebitterness of her reproachesthat no money was to be had from herlodger. I could hear her remonstrances very distinctly: "OutIsay; pack out this moment; trampthou infamous strumpet! or I'llgive thee a mark you won't be the better for this three months. What!you trumperyto come and take up an honest house without cross or coin tobless yourself with; come alongI say!"
"O dear madam"cried the stranger"pity mepity a poor abandoned creature forone nightand death will soon do the rest!" I instantly knewthe voice of my poorruined child Olivia. I flew to her rescuewhile the woman was dragging her along by the hairand I caught thedear forlorn wretch in my arms. "Welcomeany way welcomemydearest lost onemy treasureto your poor old father's bosom!Though the vicious forsake theethere is yet one in the world thatwill never forsake thee; though thou hadst ten thousand crimes toanswer forhe will forget them all."
"O my own dear-"for minutes she could say no more-"my own dearestgood papa!Could angels be kinder? How do I deserve so much! The villain! I hatehim and myselfto be a reproach to such goodness. You can't forgiveme. I know you cannot."
"Yesmy childfrom my heart I doforgive thee! only repentand we both shall yet be happy. We shallsee many pleasant days yet! my Olivia!"
"Ah! neversirnever. The rest of my wretched life must be infamy abroad and shameat home. But alas! papayou look much paler than you used to do.Could such a thing as I am give you so much uneasiness ? Surely youhave too much wisdom to take the miseries of my guilt uponyourself."
"Our wisdomyoung woman" replied I-"Ahwhy so cold a namepapa?" cried she. "This is the firsttime you ever called me by so cold a name." "I ask pardonmy darling" returned I; "but Iwas going to observe that wisdom makes but a slow defence againsttroublethough at last a sure one."
The landlady now returned to know if we did notchoose a more genteel apartment; to which assentingwe were shown aroom where we could converse more freely. After we had talkedourselves into some degree of tranquillityI could not avoiddesiring some account of the gradations that led to her presentwretched situation. "That villainsir" said she"fromthe first day of our meeting made me honorable though privateproposals."
"Villainindeed" cried I; "andyet it in some measure surprises me bow a person of Mr. Burchell'sgood-sense and seeming honor could be guilty of such deliberatebasenessand thus step into a family to undo it."
"My dear papa"returned my daughter"you labor under a strange mistake. Mr.Burchell never attempted to deceive me; instead of thathe tookevery opportunity of privately admonishing me against the artificesof Mr. Thornhillwho I now find was even worse than he representedhim."
"Mr. Thornhill!" interrupted I"can itbe?"
"Yessir" returned she"it was Mr.Thornhill who seduced mewho employed the two ladies as he calledthembut who in fact were abandoned women of the town withoutbreeding or pityto decoy us up to London. Their artificesyou mayrememberwould have certainly succeededbut for Mr.Burchell's letterwho directed thosereproaches at themwhich we all applied to ourselves. How he came tohave so much influence as to defeat their intentions still remains asecret to me; but I am convinced he was ever our warmestsincerestfriend."
"You amaze memy dear" cried I; "butnow I find my first suspicions of Mr. Thornhill's baseness were toowell grounded; but he can triumph in securityfor he is rich and weare poor. But tell memy childsure it was no small temptation thatcould thus obliterate all the impressions of such an education and sovirtuous a disposition as thine?"
"Indeedsir" replied she"heowes all his triumph to the desire I had of making himand notmyselfhappy. I knew that the ceremony of our marriagewhich wasprivately performed by a Popish priestwas no way bindingand thatI had nothing to trust to but his honor."
"What!"interrupted I"and were you indeed married by a priestand inorders?"
"Indeedsirwe were" replied she"thoughwe were both sworn to conceal his name."
"Why thenmychildcome to my arms again; and now you are a thousand times morewelcome than before; for you are now his wife to all intents andpurposes; nor can all the laws of manthough written upon thetablets of adamant lessen the force of that sacred connection."
"Alas! papa"replied she" you are but little acquainted with his villainies;he has been married alreadyby the same priest to six or eight wivesmorewhomlike mehe has deceived and abandoned."
"Has he so?" cried I"then wemust hang the priestand you shall inform against himto-morrow."
"Butsir" returned she"will thatbe rightwhen I am sworn to secrecy?"
"My dear" Ireplied"if you have made such a promise I cannotnor will Itempt you to break it. Even though it may benefit the publicyoumust not inform against him. In all human institutions a smaller evilis allowedto procure a greater good; as in politicsa province maybe given away to secure a kingdom; in medicine a limb may be loppedoff to preserve the body. But in religionthe law is written andinflexiblenever to do evil. And this lawmy childis right; forotherwiseif we commit a smaller evil to procure a greater goodcertain guilt would be thus incurredin expectation of contingentadvantages. And though the advantage should certainly followyet theinterval between commission and advantagewhich is allowed to beguiltymay be that in which we are called away to answer for thethings we have doneand the volume of human actions is closedforever. But I interrupt youmy dear; go on."
"The nextmorning" continued she"I found what little expectation Iwas to have from his sincerity. That very morning he introduced me totwo more unhappy womenwhomlike mehe had deceivedbut who livedin contented prostitution. I loved him too tenderly tobear such rivals in his affectionsandstrove to forget my infamy in a tumult of pleasure. With this viewIdanceddressedand talked; but still was unhappy. The gentlemen whovisited there told me every moment of the power of my charmsandthis only contributed to increase my melancholyas I had thrown alltheir power quite away. Thus each day I grew more pensiveand hemore insolent; till at last the monster had the assurance to offer meto a young baronet of his acquaintance. Need I describesirhow hisingratitude stung me! My answer to his proposal was almost madness. Idesired to part. As I was goinghe offered me a purse; but I flungit at him with indignationand burst from him in a rage that for awhile kept me insensible of the miseries of my situation. But I soonlooked round meand saw myself a vileabjectguilty thingwithoutone friend in the world to apply to.
"Just in that interval a stage-coachhappening to pass byI took a place; it being my only aim to bedriven at a distance from a wretch I despised and detested. I was setdown herewheresince my arrivalmy own anxiety and this woman'sunkindness have been my own companions. The hours of pleasure that Ihave passed with my mother and sister now grow painful to me. Theirsorrows are much; but mine are greater than theirs; for mine aremixed with guilt and infamy."
"Have patiencemy child" cried I"and I hopethings will yet be better. Take some reposeto-nightand to-morrow I'll carry you home to your mother and therest of the familyfrom whom you will receive a kind reception. Poorwoman! this has gone to her heartbut she loves you stillOliviaand will forget it."
Chapter 22 - Offences are Easily Pardoned Where There is Love atBottom
THE next morning I took my daughter behind meand set out on my return home. As we travelled alongI strove byevery persuasion to calm her sorrows and fearsand to arm her withresolution to bear the presence of her offended mother. I took everyopportunityfrom the prospect of a fine countrythrough which wepassedto observe how much kinder Heaven was to usthan we to eachotherand that the misfortunes of nature's making were very few. Iassured her that she should never perceive any change in myaffectionsand that during my lifewhich yet might be longshemight depend upon a guardian and an instructor. I armed her againstthe censures of the world; showed her that books were sweetunreproaching companions to the miserableand that if they could notbring us to enjoy lifethey would at least teach us to endure it.
The hired horse thatwe rode was to be put up that night at an inn by the waywithinabout fivemiles from my house; and as I was willingto prepare my family for my daughter's receptionI determined toleave her that night at the innand I to return for heraccompaniedby my daughter Sophiaearly the next morning. It was night before wereached our appointed stage; howeverafter seeing her provided witha decent apartmentand having ordered the hostess to prepare properrefreshmentsI kissed herand proceeded towards home. And now myheart caught new sensations of pleasure the nearer I approached thatpeaceful mansion. As a bird that had been frightened f rom its nestmy affections outwent my hasteand hovered round my little firesidewith all the rapture of expectation. I called up the many fond thingsI had to sayand anticipated the welcome I was to receive. I alreadyfelt my wife's tender embraceand smiled at the joy of my littleones. As I walked but slowlythe night waned apace. The laborers ofthe day were all retired to rest; the lights were out in everycottage; no sounds were heard but of the shrilling cockand thedeep-mouthed watch-dog at hollow distance. I approached my littleabode of pleasureand before I was within a furlong of the placeour honest mastiff came running to welcome me.
It was now nearmidnight that I came to knock at my door; all was still and silent;my heart dilated with unutterable happiness; whento my amazementIsaw the house bursting out in a blaze of fireand every aperture redwith conflagration! I gave a loud convulsive outcryand fell uponthe pavement insensible. This alarmed my sonwho had till this beenasleepand he perceiving the flames instantly waked my wife anddaughterand all running out naked and wild with apprehensionrecalled me to life with their anguish. But it was only to objects ofnew terror; for the flames had by this time caught the roof of ourdwellingpart after part continuing to fall inwhile the familystood with silent agony looking on as if they enjoyed the blaze. Igazed upon them and upon it by turnsand then looked round me for mytwo little ones; but they were not to be seen. 0 misery! "Where"cried I"where are my little ones?"
"They are burntto death in the flames" says my wifecalmly"and I willdie with them." That moment I heard the cry of the babes withinwho were just awaked by the fireand nothing could have stopped me."Wherewhere are my children?" cried Irushing throughthe flamesand bursting the door of the chamber in which they wereconfined. "Where are my little ones?"
"Heredearpapahere we are" cried theytogetherwhile the flames werejust catching the bed where they lay. I caught them both in my arms.and snatching them ran through the fire as fast as possiblewhilejust as I was got outthe roof sunk in. "-Now" cried Iholding up my children"now let the flames burn onand all mypossessions perish. Here they are; I have saved my treasure.
Heremy dearesthere are our treasuresand we shall yetbe happy." We kissed our little darlings a thousand timestheyclasped us round the neckand seemed to share our transportswhiletheir mother laughed and wept by turns.
I now stood a calm spectator of the flamesandafter some time began to perceive that my arm to the shoulder wasscorched in a terrible manner. It wasthereforeout of my power togive my son any assistanceeither in attempting to save our goodsor preventing the flames spreading to our corn. By this time theneighbors were alarmedand came running to our assistance; but allthey could do was to standlike usspectators of the calamity. Mygoodsamong which were the notes I had reserved for my daughters'fortuneswere entirely consumedexcept a box with some papers thatstood in the kitchenand two or three things more of littleconsequencewhich my son brought away in the beginning. Theneighbors contributedhoweverwhat they could to lighten ourdistress. They brought us clothesand furnished one of our outhouseswith kitchen utensils; so that by daylight we had anotherthough awretched dwellingto retire to. My honest next neighbor and hischildren were not the least assiduous in providing us with everythingnecessaryand offering whatever consolation untutored benevolencecould suggest.
When the fears of myfamily had subsidedcuriosity to know the cause of my long staybegan to take place; havingthereforeinformed them of everyparticularI proceeded to prepare them for the reception of our lostoneand though we had nothing but wretchedness now to impartI waswilling to procure her a welcome to what we had.This task would have been more difficult but for our recent calamitywhich had humbled my wife's pride and blunted it by more poignantafflictions. Being unable to go for my poor child myselfas my armgrew very painfulI sent my son and daughterwho soon returnedsupporting the wretched delinquentwho had not the courage to lookup at her motherwhom no instructions of mine could persuade to aperfect reconciliation; for women have a much stronger sense offemale error than men. "Ahmadam" cried her mother"thisis but a poor place you have come to after so much finery. Mydaughter Sophy and I can afford but little entertainment to personswho have kept company only with people of distinction. YesMissLivyyour poor father and I have suffered very much of late; but Ihope Heaven will forgive you." During this reception the unhappyvictim stood pale and tremblingunable to weep or to reply; but Icould not continue a silent spectator of her distress; whereforeassuming a degree of severity in my voice and mannerwhich was everfollowed with instant submission: "I entreatwomanthat mywords may be now marked once for all; I have here brought you back apoor deluded wanderer: her return to duty demands the revival of ourtenderness. The real hardships of life are now coming fast upon us;let us notthereforeincrease them by dissension among each other.If we live harmoniously togetherwe may yetbe contentedas there are enough of us toshut out the censuring world and keep each other in countenance. Thekindness of Heaven is promised to the penitentand let ours bedirected by the example. Heavenwe are assuredis much more pleasedto view a repentant sinnerthan ninety-nine persons who havesupported a course of undeviating rectitude. And this is right; forthat single effort by which we stop short in the downhill path toperditionis itself a greater exertion of virtue than a hundred actsof justice."
Chapter 23 - None but the Guilty can be Long and CompletelyMiserable
SOME assiduity wasnow required to make our present abode as convenient as possibleandwe were soon again qualified to enjoy our former serenity. Beingdisabled myself from assisting my son in our usual occupationsIread to my family from the few books that were savedandparticularly from such asby amusing the imaginationcontributed toease the heart. Our good neighborstoocame every day with thekindest condolenceand fixed a time in which they were all to assistat repairing my former dwelling. Honest Farmer Williams was not lastamong these visitors: but heartily offered his friendship. He wouldeven have renewed his addresses to my daughter; but she rejected themin such a manner as totally repressed his future solicitations. Hergrief seemed formed for continuingand she was the only person ofour little society that a week did not restore to cheerfulness. Shenow lost that unblushing innocence which once taught her to respectherselfand to seek pleasure by pleasing.Anxiety now had taken strong possession ofher mindher beauty began to be impaired with her constitutionandneglect still more contributed to diminish it. Every tender epithetbestowed on her sister brought a pang to her heart and a tear to hereye; and as one vicethough curedever plants others where it hasbeenso her former guiltthough driven out by repentanceleftjealousy and envy behind. I strove a thousand ways to lessen hercareand even forgot my own pain in a concern for herscollectingsuch amusing passages of history as a strong memory and some readingcould suggest. "Our happinessmy dear" I would say"isin the power of One who can bring it about a thousand unforeseen waysthat mock our foresight. If example be necessary to prove thisI'llgive you a storymy childtold us by a gravethough sometimes aromancinghistorian.
"Matilda wasmarried to a very young Neapolitan nobleman of the first qualityandfound herself a widow and a mother at the age of fifteen. As shestood one day caressing her infant son in the open window of anapartmentwhich hung over the river Volturnathe child with asudden spring leaped from her arms into the flood belowanddisappeared in a moment. The motherstruck with instant surpriseand making an effort to save himplunged in after; but far frombeing able to assist the infantshe herself with great difficultyescaped to the opposite shore.just when some French soldiers wereplundering the country on that sidewho immediately made her theirprisoner.
"As the war wasthen carried on between the French and Italians with the utmostinhumanitythey were going at once to perpetrate those two extremessuggested by appetite and cruelty. This base resolutionhoweverwasopposed by a young officerwhothough their retreat required theutmost expeditionplaced her behind him and brought her in safety tohis native city. Her beauty at first caught his eyeher merit soonafter his heart. They were married; he rose to the highest posts;they lived long together and were happy. But the felicity of asoldier can never be called permanent; after an interval of severalyearsthe troops which he commanded having met with a repulsehewas obliged to take shelter in the city where he had lived with hiswife. Here they suffered a siegeand the city at length was taken.Few histories can produce more various instances of cruelty thanthose which the French and Italians at that time exercised upon eachother. It was resolved by the victors upon this occasion to put allthe French prisoners to deathbut particularly the husband of theunfortunate Matildaas he was principally instrumental inprotracting the siege. Their determinations were in general executedalmost as soon as resolved upon. The captive soldier was led forthand the executioner with his sword stood readywhile the spectators in gloomy silenceawaited the fatal blowwhich was only suspended till the generalwho presided as judgeshould give the signal. It was in thisinterval of anguish and expectation that Matilda came to take herlast farewell of her husband and delivererdeploring her wretchedsituation and the cruelty of fate that had saved her from perishingby a premature death in the river Volturnato be the spectator ofstill greater calamities. The generalwho was a young manwasstruck with surprise at her beautyand pity at her distress; butwith still stronger emotions when he heard her mention her formerdanger. He was her sonthe infant for whom she had encountered somuch danger. He acknowledged her at once as his motherand fell ather feet. The rest may be easily supposed; the captive was set freeand all the happiness that lovefriendshipand duty could confer onearth were united."
In this manner Iwould attempt to amuse my daughter; but she listened with dividedattentionfor her own misfortunes engrossed all the pity she oncehad for those of anotherand nothing gave her ease. In company shedreaded contemptand in solitude she only found anxiety. Such wasthe color of her wretchednesswhen we received certain informationthat Mr. Thornhill was going to be married to Miss Wilmotfor whom Ialways suspected be had a real passionthough he took everyopportunity before me to express his contemptboth of her person and fortune. This news only served to increasepoor Olivia's affliction; such a flagrant breach of fidelity was morethan her courage could support. I was resolvedhoweverto get morecertain informationand to defeatif possiblethe completion ofhis designsby sending my son to old Mr. Wilmot's with instructionsto know the truth of the reportand to deliver Miss Wilmot a letterintimating Mr. Thornhill's conduct in my family. My son went inpursuance of my directionsand in three days returnedassuring usof the truth of the account; but that he had found it impossible todeliver the letterwhich he was therefore obliged to leaveas Mr.Thornhill and Miss Wilmot were visiting round the country. They wereto be marriedhe saidin a few dayshaving appeared together atchurch the Sunday before he was therein great splendorthe brideattended by six young ladiesand he by as many gentlemen. Theirapproaching nuptials filled the whole country with rejoicingandthey usually rode out together in the grandest equipage that had beenseen in the country for many years. All the friends of both familieshe saidwere thereparticularly the 'Squire's uncleSir WilliamThornhillwho bore so good a character. He added that nothing butmirth and feasting were going forward; that all the country praisedthe young bride's beauty and the bridegroom's fine personand thatthey were immensely fond of each other; concluding that he could not help thinking Mr. Thornhill oneof the most happy men in the world.
"Whylet him if he can" returned I;"butmy sonobserve this bed of straw and unsheltering roof;those mouldering walls and humid floor; my wretched body thusdisabled by fireand my children weeping round me for bread. Youhave come homemy childto all this; yet hereeven hereyou see aman that would not for a thousand worlds exchange situations. 0 mychildrenif you could but learn to commune with your own heartsandknow what noble company you can make themyou would little regardthe elegance and splendor of the worthless. Almost all men have beentaught to call life a passageand themselves the travellers. Thesimilitude still may be improvedwhen we observe that the good arejoyful and serenelike travellers that are going towards home; thewicked but by intervals happylike travellers that are going intoexile."
My compassion for my poor daughteroverpoweredby this new disasterinterrupted what I had further to observe. Ibade her mother support herand after a short time she recovered.She appeared from that time more calmandI imaginedhad gained anew degree of resolution: but appearances deceived me; for hertranquillity was the languor of overwrought resentment.
A supply ofprovisions charitably sent us by mykind parishionersseemed to diffuse newcheerfulness among the rest of the family; nor was I displeased atseeing them once more sprightly and at ease. It would have beenunjust to damp their satisfactionsmerely to condole with resolutemelancholyor to burden them with a sadness they did not feel. Thusonce more the tale went roundand the song was demandedandcheerfulness condescended to hover round our little habitation.
Chapter 24 - Fresh Calamities
THE next morning the sun arose with peculiarwarmth for the season; so that we agreed to breakfast together on thehoneysuckle bank; wherewhile we satmy youngest daughterat myrequestjoined her voice to the concert on the trees about us. Itwas in this place my poor Olivia first met her seducerand everyobject served to recall her sadness. But that melancholy which isexcited by objects of pleasureor inspired by sounds of harmonysoothes the heart instead of corroding it. Her mothertooupon thisoccasionfelt a pleasing distressand weptand loved her daughteras before. "Domy pretty Olivia" cried she"let ushave that little melancholy air your papa was so fond of; your sisterSophy has already obliged us. Dochild; it will please your oldfather." She complied in a manner so exquisitely pathetic asmoved me.
1: When lovely womanstoops to folly
2: And finds too late that men betray
3: What charm can soothe her melancholy?
4: Whatart can wash her guilt away?
5: The only art her guilt tocover
6: To hide her shame from every eye
7: Togive repentance to her lover
8: And wring his bosomis-to die.
As she was concluding the last stanzato whichan interruption in her voice from sorrow gave peculiar softnesstheappearance of Mr. Thornhill's equipage at a distance alarmed us allbut particularly increased the uneasiness of my eldest daughterwhodesirous of shunning her betrayerreturned to the house with hersister. In a few minutes he was alighted from his chariotand makingup to the place where I was still sittinginquired after my healthwith his usual air of familiarity. "Sir" replied I"yourpresent assurance only serves to aggravate the baseness of yourcharacter; and there was a time when I would have chastised yourinsolence for presuming thus to appear before me. But now you aresafe; for age has cooled my passionsand my calling restrains me."
"I vowmy dear sir" returned he"Iam amazed at all this; nor can I understand what it means; I hope youdon't think your daughter's late excursion with me had anythingcriminal in it."
"Go" criedI"thou art a wretcha poorpitiful wretchand every way aliar; but your meanness secures you from my anger. YetsirI amdescended from a family that would not have borne this! And sothouvile thing! to gratify a momentary passionthou hast made one poor creature wretchedfor lifeand polluted a family that had nothing but honor for theirportion."
"If she or you" returned he"areresolved to be miserableI cannot help it. But you may still behappy; and whatever opinion you may have formed of meyou shall everfind me ready to contribute to it. We can marry her to another in ashort timeand what is moreshe may keep her lover beside; for Iprotest I shall ever continue to have a true regard for her."
I found all my passions alarmed at this newdegrading proposal; for although the mind may often be calm undergreat injurieslittle villainy can at any time get within the souland sting it into rage. "Avoid my sightthou reptile"cried I"nor continue to insult me with thy presence. Were mybrave son at home he would not suffer this; but I am old anddisabledand every way undone."
"I find"cried he"you are bent upon obliging me to talk in a harshermanner than I intended. But as I have shown you what may be hopedfrom my friendshipit may not be improper to represent what may bethe consequences of my resentment. My attorneyto whom your latebond has been transferredthreatens hardnor do I know how toprevent the course of justiceexcept by paying the money myselfwhichas I have been at some expenses latelyprevious to myintended marriageis not so easy to be doneAnd thenmy steward talks of driving for the rent:it is certain he knows his dutyfor I never trouble myself withaffairs of that nature. Yet still I could wish to serve youand evento have you and your daughter present at my marriagewhich isshortly to be solemnized with Miss Wilmot; it is even the request ofmy charming Arabella herselfwhom I hope you will not refuse."
"Mr. Thornhill" replied I"hearme once for all; as to your marriage with any but my daughterthat Inever will consent to; and though your friendship could raise me to athroneor your resentment sink me to the graveyet would I despiseboth. Thou hast once woefullyirreparably deceived me. I reposed myheart upon thine honorand have found its baseness. Never morethereforeexpect friendship from me. Goand possess what fortunehas given thee-beautyricheshealthand pleasure. Go and leave meto wantinfamydiseaseand sorrow. Yet humbled as I amshall myheart still vindicate its dignityand though thou hast myforgivenessthou shalt ever have my contempt."
"If so" returned he"dependupon it you shall feel the effects of this insolenceand we shallshortly see which is the fittest object of scornyou or me."Upon which he departed abruptly.
My wife and sonwhowere present at this interviewseemed terrified with apprehension.My daughters alsofinding that he was gonecame out to be informedof the result of our conferencewhichwhen knownalarmed them not less than the rest. But asto myself I disregarded the utmost stretch of his malevolence: he hadalready struck the blowand now I stood prepared to repel every neweffort; like one of those instruments used in the art of war whichhowever thrownstill presents a point to receive the enemy.
We soonhoweverfound that he had not threatened in vain; for the very next morninghis steward came to demand my annual rentwhichby the train ofaccidents already relatedI was unable to pay. The consequence of myincapacity was his driving my cattle that eveningand their beingappraised and sold the next day for less than half their value. Mywife and children nowthereforeentreated me to comply upon anyterms rather than incur certain destruction. They even begged of meto admit his visits once moreand used all their little eloquence topaint the calamities I was going to endure: the terrors of a prisonin so rigorous a season as the presentwith the danger thatthreatened my health from the late accident that happened by thefire. But I continued inflexible. "Whymy treasures"cried I"why will you thus attempt to persuade me to the thingthat is not right! My duty has taught me to forgive him; but myconscience will not permit me to approve. Would you have me applaudto the world what my heart must internally condemn? Would you have metamely sit down and flatter our infamous betrayer; andto avoid aprisoncontinuallysuffer the more galling bonds of mentalconfinement? Nonever! If we are to be taken from this abodeonlylet us hold to the right; and wherever we are thrownwe can stillretire to a charming apartmentwhen we can look round our own heartswith intrepidity and with pleasure!"
In this manner we spent that evening. Early thenext morningas the snow had fallen in great abundance in the nightmy son was employed in clearing it awayand opening a passage beforethe door. He had not been thus engaged long when he came running inwith looks all paleto tell us that two strangerswhom he knew tobe officers of justicewere making towards the house.
just as he spoke they came inand approachingthe bed where I layafter previously informing me of theiremployment and businessmade me their prisonerbidding me prepareto go with them to the county gaolwhich was eleven miles off.
"My friends" said I"this issevere weather on which you have come to take me to a prison; and itis particularly unfortunate at this timeas one of my arms haslately been burned in a terrible mannerand it has thrown me into aslight feverand I want clothes to cover meand I am now too weakand old to walk far in such deep snow; but if it must be so-"
I then turned to mywife and childrenand directed them to get together what few thingswere left us.and to prepare immediately for leaving thisplace. I entreated them to be expeditiousand desired my son toassist his eldest sisterwhofrom a consciousness that she was thecause of all our calamitieswas fallenand had lost anguish ininsensibility. I encouraged my wifewhopale and tremblingclaspedour affrighted little ones in her armsthat clung to her bosom insilencedreading to look round at the strangers. In the meantime myyoungest daughter prepared for our departureand as she receivedseveral hints to use dispatchin about an hour we were ready todepart.
Chapter 25 - No SituationHowever Wretched It Seemsbut HasSome Sort of Comfort Attending It
WE set forward from this peaceful neighborhoodand walked on slowly. My eldest daughter being enfeebled by a slowfeverwhich had begun for some days to undermine her constitutionone of the officerswho had a horsekindly took her behind him; foreven these men cannot entirely divest themselves of humanity. My sonled one of the little ones by the handand my wife the otherwhileI leaned upon my youngest girlwhose tears fell not for her own butmy distresses.
We were now got frommy late dwelling about two mileswhen we saw a crowd running andshouting behind usconsisting of about fifty of my poorestparishioners. Thesewith dreadful imprecationssoon seized upon thetwo officers of justiceand swearing that they would never see theirminister go to gaol while they had a drop of blood to shed in hisdefencewere going to use them with great severity. The consequencemight have been fatalhad I not immediatelyinterposedand with some difficultyrescued the officers from the hands of the enraged multitude. Mychildrenwho looked upon my delivery now as certainappearedtransported with joyand were incapable of containing theirraptures. But they were soon undeceivedupon hearing me address thepoor deluded peoplewho cameas they imaginedto do me service.
"What! my friends" cried I"andis this the way you love me? Is this the manner you obey theinstructions I have given you from the pulpit? Thus to fly in theface of justiceand bring down ruin on yourselves and me! Which isyour ringleader? Show me the man that has thus seduced you. As sureas he lives he shall feel my resentment. Alas! my dear deluded flockreturn back to the duty you owe to Godto your countryand to me. Ishall yetperhapsone day see you in greater felicity hereandcontribute to make your lives more happy. But let it at least be mycomfort when I pen my fold for immortalitythat not one here shallbe wanting."
They now seemed allrepentanceandmelting into tearscame one after the other to bidme farewell. I shook each tenderly by the handand leaving them myblessingsproceeded forward without meeting any furtherinterruption. Some hours before night we reached the townor rathervillage; for it consisted but of a few mean houseshaving lost allits former opulenceandretaining no marks of its ancientsuperiority but the gaol.
Upon entering we put up at the innwhere we hadsuch refreshments as could most readily be procuredand I suppedwith my family with my usual cheerfulness. After seeing them properlyaccommodated for that nightI next attended the sheriff's officersto the prisonwhich had formerly been built for the purposes of warand consisted of one large apartment strongly grated and paved withstonecommon to both felons and debtors at certain hours in thefour-and-twenty. Besides thisevery prisoner had a separate cellwhere he was locked in for the night.
I expected upon my entrance to find nothing butlamentations and various sounds of misery; but it was very different.The prisoners seemed all employed in one common designthat offorgetting thought in merriment or clamor. I was apprized of theusual perquisite required upon these occasionsand immediatelycomplied with the demandthough the little money I had was very nearbeing all exhausted. This was immediately sent away for liquorandthe whole prison soon was filled with riotlaughterandprofaneness.
"How" cried I to myself"shallmen so very wicked be cheerfuland shall I be melancholy! I feelonly the same confinement with themand I think I have more reasonto be happy."
With such reflectionsI labored to become cheerful; but cheerfulnesswas never yet produced by effortwhich is itself painful. As I wassitting therefore in the corner of the gaol in a pensive postureoneof my fellow-prisoners came upand sitting by me entered intoconversation. It was my constant rule in life never
to avoid the conversation of anyman who seemed to desire it; for if goodI might profit by hisinstruction; if badhe might be assisted by mine. I found this to bea knowing manof strong unlettered sensebut a thorough knowledgeof the world as it is calledormore properly speakingof humannature on the wrong side.He asked me if I had taken care to providemyself with a bedwhich was a circumstance I had never once attendedto.
"That's unfortunate" cried he"asyou are allowed here nothing but strawand your apartment is verylarge and cold. Howeveryou seem to be something of a gentlemanandas I have been one myself in my timepart of my bedclothes areheartily at your service."
I thanked himexpressing my surprise at findingsuch humanity in a gaol in misfortunes; addingto let him see that Iwas a scholar"that the ancient sage seemed to understand thevalue of company in afflictionwhen he said[Greek quotation]; andin fact" continued I"what is the world if it affordsonly solitude?"
"You talk of theworldsir" returned my fellowprisoner"the world is inits dotage; and yet the cosmogony or creation of the world haspuzzled the philosophers of every age. What a medley of opinions havethey not broached upon the creation of the world! SanchoniathonManethoBerosusand Ocellus Lucanus have all attempted it in vain.The latter has these words: "[Greek quotation]which imply-""I ask pardonsir" cried I"for interrupting somuch learning; but I think I have heard all this before. Have I nothad the pleasure of once seeing you at Welbridge fairand is notyourname Ephraim Jenkinson?" At thisdemand he only sighed. "I suppose you must recollect"resumed I"one Dr. Primrosefrom whom you bought a horse?"
He now at once recollected me; for thegloominess of the place and the approaching night had prevented hisdistinguishing my features before. "Yessir" returned Mr.Jenkinson"I remember you perfectly well; I bought a horsebutforgot to pay for him. Your neighbor Flamborough is the onlyprosecutor I am any way afraid of at the next assizes; for he intendsto swear positively against me as a coiner. I am heartily sorrysirI ever deceived youor indeed any man; for you see" continuedheshowing his shackles"what my tricks have brought me to."
"Wellsir" replied I"yourkindness in offering me assistance when you could expect no returnshall be repaid with my endeavors to soften or totally suppress Mr.Flamborough's evidenceand I will send my son to him for thatpurpose the first opportunity; nor do I in the least doubt but hewill comply with my requestand as to my own evidenceyou need beunder no uneasiness about that."
"Wellsir" cried he"all thereturn I can make shall be yours. You shall have more than half mybedclothes to-nightand I'll take care to stand your friend in theprisonwhere I think I have some influence."
I thanked himandcould not avoid being surprisedat the present youthful change in hisaspect; for at the time I had seen him beforehe appeared at leastsixty. "Sir" answered he"you are little acquaintedwith the world; I had at that time false hairand have learnt theart of counterfeiting every age from seventeen to seventy. Ah! sirhad I but bestowed half the pains in learning a trade that I have inlearning to be a scoundrelI might have been a rich man at this day.But rogue as I amstill I may be your friendand thatperhapswhen you least expect it."
We were now prevented from further conversationby the arrival of the gaoler's servantswho came to call over theprisoners' namesand lock tip for the night. A fellow also with abundle of straw for my bed attendedwho led me along a dark narrowpassage into a room paved like the common prisonand in one cornerof this I spread my bedand the clothes given me by myfellow-prisoner; which donemy conductorwho was civil enoughbademe a good night. After my usual meditationsand having praised myHeavenly CorrectorI laid myself downand slept with the utmosttranquillity till morning.
Chapter 26 - A Reformation in the Gaol-To Make Laws Complete TheyShould Reward as well as Punish
THE next morningearly I was awakened by my familywhom I found in tears at mybedside. The gloomy strength of every thing about usit seemshaddaunted them. I gently rebuked their sorrowassuring them I hadnever slept with greater tranquillityand next inquired after myeldest daughterwho was not among them. They informed me thatyesterday's uneasiness and fatigue had increased her feverand itwas judged proper to leave her behind. My next care was to send myson to procure a room or two for to lodge the family inas near theprison as conveniently could be found. He obeyed; but could find onlyone apartmentwhich was hired at a small expense for his mother andsistersthe gaolerwith humanityconsenting to let him and his twolittle brothers lie in the prison with me. A bed was thereforeprepared for them in a corner of the roomwhich I thought answeredvery conveniently. I was willinghoweverpreviously to know whethermy little children chose tolie in a place which seemed to fright themupon entrance.
"Well" cried I"my good boyshow do you like your new bed? I hope you are not afraid to lie inthis roomdark as it appears?"
"Nopapa" says Dick"I am notafraid to lie anywhere where you are."
"And I" says Billwho was yet butfour years old"love every place that my papa is in."
After thisI allotted to each of the familywhat they were to do. My daughter was particularly directed to watchher sister's declining health; my wife was to attend me; my littleboys were to read to me: "And as for youmy son"continued I"it is by the labor of your handswe must all hopeto be supported. Your wages as a day laborer will be fullysufficientwith proper frugalityto maintain us allandcomfortablytoo. Thou art now sixteen years oldand hast strengthand it was given theemy sonfor very useful purposes; for it mustsave from famine your helpless parents and family. Preparethenthis evening to look out for work against to-morrowand bring homeevery night what money you earnfor our support."
Having thusinstructed him and settled the restI walked down to the commonprisonwhere I could enjoy more air and room. But I was not longtherewhen the execrationslewdness and brutality that invaded meon every sidedrove me back to my apartmentagain. Here I sat for some timeponderingupon the strange infatuation of wretcheswhofinding all mankind inopen arms against themwere laboring to make themselves a future anda tremendous-enemy.
Their insensibility excited my highestcompassionand blotted my own uneasiness from my mind. It evenappeared a duty incumbent upon me to attempt to reclaim them. Iresolvedthereforeonce more to returnandin spite of theircontemptto give them my adviceand conquer them by perseverance.Goingthereforeamong them againI informed Mr. Jenkinson of mydesignat which he laughed heartilybut communicated it to therest. The proposal was received with the greatest good-humoras itpromised to afford a new fund of entertainment to persons who had nowno other resource for mirth but what could be derived from ridiculeor debauchery.
I therefore read them a portion of the servicewith a loudunaffected voiceand found my audience perfectly merryupon the occasion. Lewd whispersgroans of contrition burlesquedwinking and coughingalternately excited laughter. HoweverIcontinued with my natural solemnity to read onsensible that what Idid might mend somebut could itself receive no contamination fromany.
After readingIentered upon my exhortationwhich was rather calculated at first toamuse them than to reprove. I previously observed that no othermotivebut their welfare could induce me to this;that I was their fellow-prisonerand now got nothing by preaching.Iwas sorryI saidto hear them so very profane; because they gotnothing by itbut might lose a great deal: "For be assuredmyfriends" cried I"for you are my friendshowever theworld may disclaim your friendship-though you swore twelve thousandoaths in a dayit would not put one penny in your purse. Then whatsignifies calling every moment upon the Devil and courting hisfriendshipsince you find how scurvily he uses you. He has given younothing hereyou findbut a mouthful of oaths and an empty belly;and by the best accounts I have of himhe will give you nothingthat's good hereafter.
"If used ill in our dealings with one manwe naturally go elsewhere. Were it not worth your whilethenjustto try how you may like the usage of another Masterwho gives youfair promises at least to come to Him. Surelymy friendsof allstupidity in the worldhis must be the greatest whoafter robbing ahouseruns to the thief-takers for protection. And yet how are youmore wise? You are all seeking comfort from one that has alreadybetrayed youapplying to a more malicious being than any thief-takerof them all; for they only decoy and then hang you; but he decoys andhangsandwhat is worst of allwill not let you loose after thehangman has done."
When I had concludedI received the complimentsof my audiencesome of whom came and shookme by the handswearing that I was a very honest fellowand thatthey desired my further acquaintance. I therefore promised to repeatmy lecture next dayand actually conceived some hopes of making areformation here; for it had ever been my opinionthat no man waspast the hour of amendmentevery heart lying open to the shafts ofreproofif the archer could but take a proper aim. When I had thussatisfied my mindI went back to my apartmentwhere my wifeprepared a frugal mealwhile Mr. Jenkinson begged leave to add hisdinner to oursand partake of the pleasureas he was kind enough toexpress itof my conversation. He had not yet seen my family; for asthey came to my apartment by a door in the narrow passage alreadydescribedby this means they avoided the common prison. Jenkinsonat the first interviewthereforeseemed not a little struck withthe beauty of my youngest daughterwhich her pensive air contributedto heightenand my little ones did not pass unnoticed.
"Alas! doctor" cried he"thesechildren are too handsome and too good for such a place as this!"
"WhyMr. Jenkinson" replied I"thank Heaven my children are pretty tolerable in morals; and ifthey be goodit matters little for the rest."
"I fancysir"returned my fellow-prisoner"thatit must give you great comfort to have allthis little family about you."
"A comfortMr. Jenkinson" replied I;"yesit is indeed a comfortand I would not be without themfor all the world; for they can make a dungeon seem a palace. Thereis but one way in this life of wounding my happinessand that is byinjuring them."
"I am afraid thensir" cried he"that I am in some measure culpable; for I think I see here"looking at my son Moses"one that I have injuredand by whom Iwish to be forgiven."
My son immediately recollected his voice andfeaturesthough he had before seen him in disguiseand taking himby the handwith a smile forgave him. "Yet" continued he"I can't help wondering at what you could see in my face tothink me a proper mark for deception."
"My dear sir" returned the other"itwas not your facebut your white stockings and the black riband inyour hair that allured me. But no disparagement to your partsI havedeceived wiser men than you in my time; and yetwith all my tricksthe blockheads have been too many for me at last."
"I suppose" cried my son"thatthe narrative of such a life as yours must be extremely instructiveand amusing!"
"Not much ofeither" returned Mr. Jenkinson. "Those relations whichdescribe the tricks and vicesonly of mankindby increasing oursuspicion in life retard our success. The traveller that distrustsevery person that he meetsand turns back upon the appearance ofevery man that looks like a robberseldom arrives in time at hisjourney's end.
"IndeedI think from my own experiencethat the knowing one is the silliest fellow under the sun. I wasthought cunning from my very childhood; when but seven years old theladies would say that I was a perfect little man; at fourteen I knewthe worldcocked my hatand loved the ladies; at twentythough Iwas perfectly honestyet every one thought me so cunning that no onewould trust me. Thus I was at last obliged to turn sharper in my owndefenceand have lived ever sincemy head throbbing with schemes todeceiveand my heart palpitating with fears of detection. I usedoften to laugh at your honestsimple neighbor Flamboroughand oneway or another generally cheated him once a year. Yet still thehonest man went forward without suspicionand grew richwhile Istill continued tricksy and cunningand was poorwithout theconsolation of being honest. However" continued he"letme know your caseand what has brought you here; perhapsthough Ihave not skill to avoid a gaol myselfI may extricate my friends."
In compliance withthis curiosityI informed him of the whole train of accidents andfollies that hadplunged me into my present troublesand myutter inability to get free.
After hearing my story and pausing some minuteshe slapped his foreheadas if he had hit upon something materialand took his leavesaying he would try what could be done.
Chapter 27 - The Same Subject Continued
THE next morning I communicated to my wife andchildren the scheme I had planned of reforming the prisonerswhichthey received with universal disapprobationalleging theimpossibility and impropriety of it; addingthat my endeavors wouldno way contribute to their amendmentbut might probably disgrace mycalling.
"Excuse me"returned I"these peoplehowever fallenare still menandthat is a very good title to my affections. Good counsel rejectedreturns to enrich the giver's bosom; and though the instruction Icommunicate may not mend themyet it will assuredly mend myself. Ifthese wretchesmy childrenwere princesthere would be thousandsready to offer their ministry; but in my opinion the heart that isburied in a dungeon is as precious as that seated upon a throne. Yesmy treasuresif I can mend them I will; perhaps they will not alldespise me. Perhaps I may catch up even one from the gulfand thatwill be great gain;for is there upon earth a gem so preciousas the human soul ?"
Thus sayingI left them and descended to thecommon prisonwhere I found the prisoners very merryexpecting myarrival; and each prepared with some gaol trick to play upon thedoctor. Thusas I was going to beginone turned my wig awryas ifby accidentand then asked my pardon. A secondwho stood at somedistancehad a knack of spitting through his teethwhich fell inshowers upon my book. A third would cry "amen" in such anaffected tone as gave the rest great delight. A fourth had slilypicked my pocket of my spectacles. But there was one whose trick gavemore universal pleasure than all the rest; forobserving the mannerin which I had disposed of my books on the table before mehe verydexterously displaced one of themand put an obscene jest-book ofhis own in the place. HoweverI took no notice of all that thismischievous group of little beings could dobut went onperfectlysensible that what was ridiculous in my attempt would excite mirthonly the first or second timewhile what was serious would bepermanent. My design succeededand in less than six days some werepatient and all attentive.
It was now that Iapplauded my perseverance and addressat thus giving sensibility towretches divested of every moral feelingand now began to think ofdoing them temporal services alsoby rendering theirsituation somewhat more comfortable. Theirtime had hitherto been divided between famine and excesstumultuousriot and bitter repining. Their only employment was quarrelling-amongeach otherplaying at cribbageand cutting tobacco-stoppers. Fromthis last mode of idle industry I took the hint of setting such aschose to work at cutting pegs for tobacconists and shoemakerstheproper wood being bought by a general subscriptionand whenmanufacturedsold by my appointment; so that each earned somethingevery day-a trifleindeedbut sufficient to maintain him. I did notstop herebut instituted fines for the punishment of immoralityandrewards for peculiar industry. Thusin less than a fortnightI hadformed them into something social and humaneand had the pleasure ofregarding myself as a legislatorwho had brought men from theirnative ferocity into friendship and obedience.
And it were highly tobe wishedthat the legislative power would thus direct the lawrather to reformation than severity. That it would seem convincedthat the work of eradicating crimes is not by making punishmentfamiliarbut formidable. Theninstead of our present prisonswhichfind or make men guiltywhich enclose wretches for the commission ofone crimeand return themif returned alivefitted for theperpetration of thousands; we should seeas in other parts ofEuropeplaces of penitence and solitudewhere the accused might beattended by such as could give them repentance if guiltyor newmotives to virtue if innocent. And thisbut not the increasingpunishmentsis the way to mend a state; nor can I avoid evenquestioning the validity of that right which social combinations haveassumed of capitally punishing offences of a slight nature. In casesof murder their right is obviousas it is the duty of us allfromthe law of selfdefenceto cut off that man who has shown a disregardfor the life of another. Against such all nature rises in arms; butit is not so against him who steals my property. Natural law gives meno right to take away his lifeas by that the horse he steals is asmuch his property as mine. IfthenI have any rightit must befrom a compact made between usthat he who deprives the other of hishorse shall die. But this is a false compactbecause no man has aright to barter his life any more than to take it awayas it is nothis own. And besidesthe compact is inadequateand would be setaside even in a court of modern equityas there is a great penaltyfor a very trifling conveniencesince it is far better that two menshould live than that one man should ride. But a compact that isfalse between two men is equally so between a hundred or a hundredthousand; for as ten millions of circles can never make a squaresothe united voice of myriads cannot lend the smallest foundation tofalsehood. It is thus that reason speaksand untutored nature saysthe samething. Savages that are directed by naturallaw alone are very tender of the lives of each other; they seldomshed blood but to retaliate former cruelty.
Our Saxon ancestorsfierce as they were in warhad but few executions in times of peace; and in all commencinggovernments that have the print of nature still strong upon themscarcely any crime is held capital.
It is among the citizens of a refined communitythat penal lawswhich are in the hands of the richare laid uponthe poor. Governmentwhile it grows olderseems to acquire themoroseness of age; and as if our property were become dearer inproportion as it increased; as if the more enormous our wealththemore extensive our fearsall our possessions are paled up with newedicts every dayand hung. round with gibbets to scare everyinvader.
I cannot tell whetherit is from the number of our penal lawsor the licentiousness of ourpeoplethat this country should show more convicts in a year thanhalf the dominions of Europe united. Perhaps it is owing to bothforthey mutually produce each other. Whenby indiscriminate penal lawsa nation beholds the same punishment affixed to dissimilar degrees ofguiltfrom perceiving no distinction in the penaltythe people areled to lose all sense of distinction in the crimeand thisdistinction is the bulwark of all morality:thus the multitude of laws produce newvicesand new vices call for fresh restraints.
It were to be wishedthenthat powerinsteadof contriving new laws to punish viceinstead of drawing hard thecords of society till a convulsion come to burst theminstead ofcutting away wretches as useless before we have tried their utilityinstead of converting correction into vengeanceit were to be wishedthat we tried the restrictive arts of governmentand made law theprotectorbut not the tyrant of the people. We should then find thatcreatureswhose souls are held as drossonly wanted the hand of arefiner; we should then find that creatures now stuck up for longtortureslest luxury should feel a momentary pangmightifproperly treatedserve to sinew the state in times of danger; thatas their faces are like ourstheir hearts are so too; that few mindsare so base as that perseverance cannot amend; that a man may see hislast crime without dying for it; and that very little blood willserve to cement our security.
Chapter 28 - Happiness and Misery Rather the Result of Prudencethan of Virtue in this Life-Temporal Evils or Felicities BeingRegarded by Heaven as Things Merely in Themselves TriflingandUnworthy Its Care in the Distribution
I HAD now been confined more than a fortnightbut had notsince my arrivalbeen visited by my dear Oliviaand Igreatly longed to see her. Having communicated my wishes to my wifethe next morningthe poor girl entered my apartmentleaning on hersister's arm. The change which I saw in her countenance struck me.The numberless graces that once resided there were now fledand thehand of death seemed to have moulded every feature to alarm me. Hertemples were sunkher forehead was tenseand a fatal paleness satupon her cheek.
"I am glad to see theemy dear"cried I"but why this dejectionLivy? I hopemy loveyouhave too great a regard for me to permit disappointment thus toundermine a life which I prize as my own. Be cheerfulchildand wemay yet see happier days."
"You have eversir" replied she"been kind to meand it adds to my painthat I shall never have an opportunityof sharing that happiness you promise.HappinessI fearis no longer reserved for me hereand I long tobe rid of a place where I have only found distress. IndeedsirIwish you would make a proper submission to Mr. Thornhill; it mayinsome measureinduce him to pity youand it will give me relief indying."
"Neverchild" replied I"neverwill I be brought to acknowledge my daughter a prostitute; for thoughthe world may look upon your offence with scornlet it be mine toregard it as a mark of credulitynot of guilt. My dearI am no waymiserable in this placehowever dismal it may seem; and be assuredthat while you continue to bless me by livinghe shall never have myconsent to make you more wretched by marrying another"
After the departure of my daughtermyfellowprisonerwho was by at this interviewsensibly enoughexpostulated upon my obstinacyin refusing a submission whichpromised to give me freedom. He observed that the rest of my familywas not to be sacrificed to the peace of one child aloneand she theonly one who had offended me. "Besides" added he"Idon't know if it be just thus to obstruct the union of man and wifewhich you do at presentby refusing to consent to a match you cannothinderbut may render unhappy."
"Sir"replied I"you are unacquainted with theman that oppresses us. I am very sensiblethat no submission I can make could procure me liberty even for anhour. I am told that even in this very room a debtor of hisno laterthan last yeardied for want. But though my submission andapprobation could transfer me from hence to the most beautifulapartment he is possessed ofyet I would grant neither; as somethingwhispers me that it would be giving a sanction to adultery. While mydaughter livesno other marriage of his shall ever be legal in myeye. Were she removedindeedI should be the basest of menfromany resentment of my ownto attempt putting asunder those who wishfor a union. Novillain as he isI should then wish him marriedtoprevent the consequences of his future debaucheries. But now should Inot be the most cruel of all fathers to sign an instrument which mustsend my child to the gravemerely to avoid a prison myself: andthusto escape one pangbreak my child's heart with a thousand?"
He acquiesced in thejustice of this answerbut could not avoid observing that he fearedmy daughter's life was already too much wasted to keep me long aprisoner. "However" continued he"though you refuseto submit to the nephewI hope you have no objections to laying yourcase before the unclewho has the first character in the kingdom forevery thing that is just and good. I would advise you to send him aletter by the postintimating all his nephew's ill-usageand my life for itin three days you shallhave an answer." I thanked him for the hintand instantly setabout complying; but I wanted paperand unluckily all our money hadbeen laid out that morning in provisions; howeverhe supplied me.
For the three ensuingdays I was in a state of anxiety to know what reception my lettermight meet with; but in the meantime was frequently solicited by mywife to submit to any conditions rather than remain hereand everyhour received repeated accounts of the decline of my daughter'shealth. The third day and the fourth arrivedbut I received noanswer to my letter-the complaints of a stranger against a favoritenephew were no way likely to succeed; so that these hopes soonvanished like all my former. My mindhoweverstill supporteditselfthough confinement and bad air began to make a visiblealteration in my healthand my arm that had suffered in the firegrew worse. My childrenhoweversat by meand while I wasstretched on my straw read to me by turnsor listened and wept at myinstructions. But my daughter's health declined faster than mine.Every message from her contributed to increase my apprehensions andpain. The fifth morning after I had written the letter which was sentto Sir William ThornhillI was alarmed with an account that she wasspeechless. Now it was that confinement was truly painful to me. Mysoul was bursting from its prison to be near the pillow of my child tocomfortto strengthen herto receive her last wishesand teach hersoul the way to Heaven! Another account came. She was expiringandyet I was debarred thesmall comfort of weeping by her. My fellow-prisoner some time aftercame with the last account. He bade me be patient. She was dead!-Thenext morning he returnedand found me with my twolittle onesnow my only companionswhowere using all their innocent efforts to comfort me. They entreatedto read to meand bade me not cryfor I was now too old to weep."And is not my sister an angel nowpapa?" cried theeldest"and whythenare you sorry for her? I wish I were anangel out of this frightful placeif my papa were with me."
"Yes"added my youngest darling"Heavenwhere my sister isis afiner place than thisand there are none but good people thereandthe people here are very bad."
Mr. Jenkinson interrupted their harmless prattleby observing thatnow my daughter was no moreI should seriouslythink of the rest of my familyand attempt to save my own lifewhich was every day declining for want of necessaries and wholesomeair. He added that it was not incumbent on me to sacrifice any prideor resentment of my own to the welfare of those who depended on mefor support; and that I was nowboth by reason and justiceobligedto try to reconcile my landlord.
"Heaven bepraised" replied I"there is no pride left me now. Ishould detest my own heartif I saw either pride or resentmentlurking there. On the contraryas my oppressor has been once myparishionerI hope one day to present him up an unpolluted soul atthe eternal tribunal. NosirI have no resentment nowand thoughhe has taken from me what I held dearer than all his treasuresthough he has wrung my heartfor I am sick almost to faintingverysickmy fellowprisoneryet that shall never inspire me withvengeance. I am now willing to approve his marriageand if thissubmission can do him any pleasurelet him know that if I have donehim any injury I am sorry for it."
Mr. Jenkinson took pen and inkand wrote downmy submission nearly as I have expressed itto which I signed myname. My son was employed to carry the letter to Mr. Thornhillwhowas then at his seat in the country. He wentand in about six hoursreturned with a verbal answer. He had some difficultyhe saidtoget a sight of his landlordas the servants were insolent andsuspicious; but he accidentally saw him as he was going out uponbusinesspreparing for his marriagewhich was to be in three days.He continued to inform usthat he stepped up in the humblest mannerand delivered the letterwhichwhen Mr. Thornhill had readhe saidthat all submission was now too late and unnecessary; that he hadheard of our application to his unclewhich met with the contempt itdeserved; and as for the restthat all future applications should bedirected to his attorneynot to him. He observedhoweverthat ashe had a very good opinion of the discretion of the two young ladiesthey might have been the most agreeable intercessors.
"Wellsir"said I to my fellow-prisoner"you now discover the temper ofthe man that oppresses me. He can at once be facetious and cruel; butlet him useme as he willI shall soon be freeinspite of all his bolts to restrain me. I am now drawing towards anabode that looks brighter as I approach it; this expectation cheersmy afflictionsand though I leave a helpless family of orphansbehind meyet they will not be utterly forsaken; some friendsperhapswill be found to assist them for the sake of their poorfatherand some may charitably relieve them for the sake of theirHeavenly Father."
just as I spokemy wifewhom I had not seenthat day beforeappeared with looks of terrorand making effortsbut unable to speak. "Whymy love" cried Iit why willyou thus increase my afflictions by your own! What though nosubmission can turn our severe masterthough he has doomed me to diein this place of wretchednessand though we have lost a darlingchildyet still you will find comfort in your other children when Ishall be no more."
"We haveindeedlost" returnedshe"a darling child. My Sophiamy dearestis gonesnatchedfrom uscarried off by ruffians!"
"Howmadam!" cried myfellow-prisoner"Miss Sophia carried off by villains! Sure itcannot be!"
She could only answerwith a fixed look and a flood of tears. But one of the prisoners'wiveswho was present and came in with hergave us a more distinctaccount. She informed us that as my wifemy daughterand herselfwere taking a walk together on thegreat road a little way out of the villagea post-chaise and pair drove up to them and instantly stopped. Uponwhicha well-dressed manbut not Mr. Thornhillstepping outclasped my daughter round the waistand forcing her inbid thepostilion drive onso that they were out of sight in a moment.
"Now" cried I"the sum of mymiseries is made up; nor is it in the power of any thing on earth togive me another pang. What! not one left! not to leave me one! themonster! the child that was next my heart! she had the beauty of anangeland almost the wisdom of an angel! But support that womannorlet her fall. Not to leave me one!"
"Alas! my husband" said my wife"youseem to want comfort even more than I. Our distresses are great; butI could bear this and moreif I saw you but easy. They may take awaymy childrenand all the worldif they leave me but you."
My sonwho waspresentendeavored to moderate our grief; he bade us take comfortfor he hoped that we might still have reason to be thankful.-"Mychild" cried I"look round the worldand see if there beany happiness left me now. Is not every ray of comfort shut out;while all our bright prospects only lie beyond the grave?-"Mydear father" returned he"I hope there is still somethingthat will give you an interval of satisfaction; for I have a letterfrom my brother George."
"What of himchild?"interrupted I. "Doeshe know of our misery? I hope my boy isexempt from any part of what his wretched family suffers!"
"Yessir" returned he"he isperfectly gaycheerful and happy. His letter brings nothing but goodnews; he is the favorite of his colonelwho promises to procure himthe very next lieutenancy that becomes vacant!"
"And are yousure of all this?" cried my wife; "are you sure thatnothing ill has befallen my boy?"
"Nothingindeedmadam"returned my son; "you shall see the letterwhich will give youthe highest pleasure; and if any thing can procure you comfortI amsure that will."
"But are you sure" still repeatedshe"that the letter is from himselfand that he is really sohappy?"
"Yesmadam" replied he"it iscertainly hisand he will one day be the credit and support of ourfamily!"
"Then I thank Providence" cried she"thatmy last letter to him has miscarried. Yesmy dear" continuedsheturning to me"I will now confess thatthough the hand ofHeaven is sore upon us in other instancesit has been favorablehere. By the last letter I wrote my sonwhich was in the bitterestof angerI desired himupon his mother's blessingand if he hadthe heart of a manto see justice done to his father and sisterandavenge our cause. But thanks be to Him that directs all thingsithas miscarriedand I am at rest!"
"Woman" cried I"thou hast done very illand at another time myreproaches might have been more severe. Oh!what a tremendous gulf hast thou escapedthat would have buried boththee and him in endless ruin. Providenceindeedhas here beenkinder to us than we to ourselves! It has reserved that son to be thefather and protector of my children when I shall be away. Howunjustly did I complain of being stripped of every comfortwhenstill I hear that he is happyand insensible of our afflictions;still kept in reserve to support his widowed motherand to protecthis brothers and sisters! But what sisters has he left? He has nosisters nowthey are all gonerobbed from meand I amundone!"
"Father" interrupted my son"I beg youwill give me leave to read his letter; I know it will please you."Upon whichwith my permissionhe read as follows:
"HONORED SIR:-I have called off myimagination a few moments from the pleasures that surround meto fixit upon objects that are still more pleasingthe dear littlefireside at home. My fancy draws that harmless group as listening toevery line of this with great composure. I view those faces withdelight which never felt the deforming hand of ambition or distress!But whatever your happiness may be at homeI am sure it will be someaddition to it to hear that I am perfectly pleased with my situationand every way happy here.
"Our regiment iscountermandedand is not to leavethe kingdom; the colonelwho professeshimself my friendtakes me with him to all companies where he isacquaintedand after my first visit I generally find myself receivedwith increased respect upon repeating it. I danced last night withLady G-and could I forget you know whomI might beperhapssuccessful. But it is my fate still to remember otherswhile I ammyself forgotten by most of my absent friendsand in this number Ifearsirthat I must consider you; for I have long expected thepleasure of a letter from home to no purpose. Olivia and Sophiatoopromised to writebut seem to have forgotten me. Tell them they aretwo arrant little baggagesand that I am this moment in a mostviolent passion with them; yet stillI know not howthough I wantto bluster a littlemy heart is respondent only to softer emotions.Thentell themsirthatafter allI love them affectionatelyand be assured of my ever remaining
"Your dutiful son."
"In all ourmiseries" cried I"what thanks have we not to return thatone at least of our family is exempted from what we suffer! Heaven behis guard and keep my boy thus happy to be the supporter of hiswidowed motherand the father of these two babeswhich is all thepatrimony I can now bequeath him. May he keep their innocence fromthe temptations of wantand be their conductor in the paths ofhonor!" I hadscarcely said these words when a noise likethat of tumult seemed to proceed from the prison below; it died awaysoon after; and a clanking of fetters was heard along the passagethat led to my apartment. The keeper of the prison enteredholding aman all bloodywoundedand fettered with the heaviest irons. Ilooked with compassion on the wretch as he approached mebut withhorror when I found it was my own son. "My George! my George!and do I behold thee thus? Wounded! fettered! Is this thy happiness?Is this the manner you return to me? Oh that this sight could breakmy heart at onceand let me die!"
"Wheresiris your fortitude?"returned my sonwith intrepid voice. "I must suffer; my life isforfeitedand let them take it."
I tried to restrain my passions for a fewminutes in silencebut I thought I should have died with the effort."Ohmy boymy heart weeps to behold thee thusand I cannotcannot help it! In the moment that I thought thee blessedand prayedfor thy safetyto behold thee thus again!-chainedwounded! And yetthe death of the youthful is happy. But I am olda very old manandhave lived to see this day. To see my children all untimely fallingabout mewhile I continue a wretched survivor in the midst of ruin!May all the curses that ever sunk a soul fall heavy upon the murdererof my children! May he livelike meto see-"
"Holdsir!" replied my son"orI shall blush for thee. Howsir! forgetful of your ageyour holycallingthus to arrogate the justice of Heavenand fling thosecurses upward that must soon descend to crush thy own grey head withdestruction! Nosirlet it be your care now to fit me for that viledeath I must shortly sufferto arm me with hope and resolutiontogive me courage to drink of that bitterness which must shortly be myportion!"
"My childyou must not die! I am sure nooffence of thine can deserve so vile a punishment. My George couldnever be guilty of a crime to make his ancestors ashamed of him."
"Minesir" returned my son"isI fearan unpardonable one. When I received my mother's letter fromhomeI immediately came downdetermined to punish the betrayer ofour honorand sent him an order to meet mewhich he answered not inpersonbut by dispatching four of his domestics to seize me. Iwounded one who first assaulted meand I fear desperately; but therest made me their prisoner. The coward is determined to put the lawin execution against me; the proofs are undeniable; I have sent achallenge; and as I am the first transgressor upon the statuteI seeno hopes of pardon. But you have often charmed me with your lessonsof fortitude; let me nowsirfind them in your example."
"Andmy sonyou shall find them. I am nowraised above this world and all thepleasures it can produce. From this moment I break from my heart allthe ties that held it down to earthand will prepare to fit us bothfor eternity. Yesmy sonI will point out the wayand my soulshall guide yours in the ascentfor we will take our flighttogether. I now see and am convinced you can expect no pardon hereand I can only exhort you to seek it at that greatest tribunal wherewe both shall shortly answer. But let us not be niggardly in ourexhortationbut let all our fellow-prisoners have a share. Goodgaolerlet them be permitted to stand here while I attempt toimprove them." Thus sayingI made an effort to rise from mystrawbut wanted strengthand was able only to recline against thewall. The prisoners assembled themselves according to my directionsfor they loved to hear my counsel; my son and his mother supported meon either side; I looked and saw that none were wantingand thenaddressed them with the following exhortation.
Chapter 29 - The Equal Dealings of Providence Demonstrated withRegard to the Happy and the Miserable Here Below-That from the Natureof Pleasure and Painthe Wretched Must Be Repaid the Balance ofTheir Sufferings in the Life Hereafter
"My friendsmy childrenandfellow-suffererswhen I reflect on the distribution of good and evilhere belowI find that much has been given man to enjoyyet stillmore to suffer. Though we should examine the whole worldwe shallnot find one man so happy as to have nothing left to wish for; but wedaily see thousands who by suicide show us they have nothing left tohope. In this lifethenit appears that we cannot be entirelyblessed; but yet we may be completely 'miserable.
"Why man shouldthus feel painwhy our wretchedness should be requisite in theformation of universal felicity; whywhen all other systems are madeperfect by the perfection of their subordinate partsthe greatsystem should require for its perfection parts that are not onlysubordinate to othersbut imperfect in themselves; these arequestions that never can be explainedand might be useless if known.On this subjectProvidence has thought fit to elude ourcuriositysatisfied with granting us motives to consolation.
"In this situationman has called in thefriendly assistance of philosophy; and Heavenseeing the incapacityof that to console himhas given him the aid of religion. Theconsolations of philosophy are very amusingbut often fallacious. Ittells us that life is filled with comforts if we will but enjoy them;andon the other handthough we unavoidably have miseries herelife is shortand they will soon be over. Thus do these consolationsdestroy each other; for if life is a place of comfortits shortnessmust be misery; and if it be longour griefs are protracted. Thusphilosophy is weak; but religion comforts in a higher strain. Man ishereit tells usfitting up his mind and preparing it for anotherabode. When the good man leaves the bodyand is all a glorious mindhe will find he has been making himself a heaven of happiness here;while the wretch that has been maimed and contaminated by his vicesshrinks from his body with terrorand finds that he has anticipatedthe vengeance of Heaven. To religionthenwe must holdin everycircumstance of lifefor our truest comfort; for if already we arehappyit is a pleasure to think we can make that happiness unending;and if we are miserableit is very consoling to think that there isa place of rest. Thus to the fortunatereligion holds out acontinuance of bliss; to the wretcheda change from pain.
"But though religion is very kind to allmenit has promised peculiar rewards to the unhappy; the sickthenakedthe houselessthe heavy-ladenand the prisonerhave evermost frequent promises in our sacred law. The Author of our religioneverywhere professes himself the wretch's friendandunlike thefalse ones of this worldbestows all his caresses upon the forlorn.The unthinking have censured this as partialityas a preferencewithout merit to deserve it. But they never reflect that it is not inthe power even of Heaven itself to make the offer of unceasingfelicity as great a gift to the happy as to the miserable. To thefirsteternity is but a single blessingsinceat mostit butincreases what they already possess. To the latterit is a doubleadvantage; for it diminishes their pain hereand rewards them withheavenly bliss hereafter.
"But Providenceis in another respect kinder to the poor than the rich; for as itthus makes the life after death more desirableso it smooths thepassage there. The wretched have had a long familiarity with everyface of terror. The man of sorrows lays himself quietly downwithoutpossessions to regretand but few ties to stop his departure; hefeels only nature's pang in the final separationand this in no waygreater than he has often fainted under before; forafter a certaindegree of painevery new breach that deathopens in the constitutionnature kindlycovers with insensibility.
"Thus Providence has given the wretched twoadvantages over the happy in this life: greater felicity in dyingand in Heaven all that superiority of pleasure which arises fromcontrasted enjoyment. And this superioritymy friendsis no smalladvantageand seems to be one of the pleasures of the poor man inthe parable; for though he was already in heavenand felt all theraptures it could giveyet it was mentioned as an addition to hishappinessthat he once had been wretchedand now was comforted;that he had known what it was to be miserableand now felt what itwas to be happy.
"Thusmy friendsyou see religion doeswhat philosophy could never do; it shows the equal dealings of Heavento the happy and the unhappyand levels all human enjoyments tonearly the same standard. It gives to both rich and poor the samehappiness hereafterand equal hopes to aspire after it; but if therich have the advantage of enjoying pleasure herethe poor have theendless satisfaction of knowing what it was once to be miserablewhen crowned with endless felicity hereafter; and even though thisshould be called a small advantageyet being an eternal oneit mustmake up by duration what the temporal happiness of the great may haveexceeded by intenseness.
"These arethereforethe consolations which thewretched have peculiar to themselvesandin which they are above the rest of mankind; in other respects theyare below them. They who would know the miseries of the poormustsee life and endure it. To declaim on the temporal advantages theyenjoyis only repeating what none other either believe or practice.The men who have the necessaries of living are not poorand they whowant them must be miserable. Yesmy friendswe must be miserable.No vain efforts of a refined imagination can soothe the wants ofnaturecan give elastic sweetness to the dank vapor of a dungeonorease to the throbbings of a broken heart! Let the philosopher fromhis couch of softness tell us that we can resist all these. Alas! theeffort by which we resist them is still the greatest pain.
"Death is slightand any man may sustainit; but torments are dreadfuland these no man can endure.
"To usthenmyfriendsthe promises of happiness in Heaven should be particularlydear; for if our reward be in this life alonewe are then indeedofall men the most miserable. When I look round these gloomy wallsmade to terrifyas well as to confine us; this light that onlyserves to show the horrors of the placethose shackles that tyrannyhas imposedor crime made necessary; when I survey these emaciatedlooksand hear those groansohmy friendswhat a gloriousexchange would heaven be for these! To fly through regions unconfinedas airto bask in the sunshine ofeternal blissto carol over endless hymnsof praiseto have no master to threaten or insult usbut the formof Goodness himself forever in our eyes; when I think of thesethingsDeath becomes the messenger of very glad tidings; when Ithink of these thingshis sharpest arrows become the staff of mysupport; when I think of these thingswhat is there in life worthhaving? when I think of these thingswhat is there that should notbe spurned away? Kings in their palaces should groan for suchadvantages; but wehumbled as we areshould yearn for them.
"And shall thesethings be ours? Ours they will certainly be if we but try for them;andwhat is a comfortwe are shut out from many temptations thatwould retard our pursuit. Only let us try for them and they willcertainly be oursandwhat is still a comfortshortly too; for ifwe look back on a past life it appears but a very short spanandwhatever we may think of the rest of lifeit will yet be found ofless duration; as we grow older the days seem to grow shorterandour intimacy with Time ever lessens the perception of his stay. Thenlet us take comfort nowfor we shall soon be at our journey's end;we shall soon lay down the heavy burthen laid by Heaven upon us; andthough Deaththe only friend of the wretchedfor a little whilemocks the weary traveller with the viewand like his horizon stillflies before himyet the time will certainly and shortly come whenwe shall cease from our toil; when theluxuriant great ones of the world shall no more tread us to theearth; when we shall think with pleasure of our sufferings below;when we shall be surrounded with all our friendsor such as deservedour friendship; when our bliss shall be unutterableand stilltocrown allunending."
Chapter 30 - Happier Prospects Begin to Appear-Let Us BeInflexible and Fortune Will at Last Change in Our Favor
WHEN I had thus finishedand my audience wasretired the gaolerwho was one of the most humane of his profession.hoped I would not be displeasedas what he did was but his dutyobserving that he must be obliged to remove my son into a strongercellbut that he should be permitted to revisit me every morning. Ithanked him for his clemencyand grasping my boy's hand bade himfarewelland be mindful of the great duty that was before him.
I againthereforelaid me downand one of my little ones sat by my bedside readingwhen Mr. Jenkinson enteringinformed me that there was news of mydaughter; for that she was seen by a person about two hours before ina strange gentleman's companyand that they had stopped at aneighboring village for refreshmentsand seemed as if returning totown. He had scarcely delivered this news when the gaoler came withlooks of haste and pleasure to inform me that my daughter was found.Moses came running ina moment aftercrying out that his sisterwas belowand coming up with our old friend Mr. Burchell.
Just as he delivered this news my dearest girlenteredand with looks almost wild with pleasureran to kiss me ina transport of affection. Her mother's tears and silence also showedher pleasure. "Herepapa" cried the charming girl"Hereis the brave man to whom I owe my delivery; to this gentleman'sintrepidity I am indebted for my happiness and safety." A kissfrom Mr. Burchellwhose pleasure seemed even greater than hersinterrupted what she was going to add.
"AhMr. Burchell" cried I"thisis but a wretched habitation you now find us in; and we are now verydifferent from what you last saw us. You were ever our friend; wehave long discovered our errors with regard to youand repented ofour ingratitude. After the vile usage you then received at my handsI am almost ashamed to behold your face; yet I hope you'll forgivemeas I was deceived by a baseungenerous wretchwhounder themask of friendshiphas undone me. "
"It is impossible" replied Mr.Burchell"that I should forgive youas you never deserved myresentment. I partly saw your delusion thenand as it was out of mypower to restrainI could only pity it."
"It was ever myconjecture" cried I"that your mind was noble; but now Ifind it so. But tell memy dear childhow hast thou been relievedor who the ruffians were who carried thee away?"
"Indeedsir"replied she"as to the villain who carried me off I am yetignorant. For as my mamma and I were walking outhe came behind usand almost before I could call for helpforced me into thepostchaiseand in an instant the horses drove away. I met several onthe roadto whom I cried out for assistancebut they disregarded myentreaties. In the meantimethe ruffian himself used every art tohinder me from crying out: he flattered and threatened by turnsandswore that if I continued but silent he intended no harm. In themeantimeI had broken the canvas that he had drawn upand whomshould I perceive at some distance but your old friend Mr. Burchellwalking along with his usual swiftnesswith the great stick forwhich we used so much to ridicule him. As soon as we came withinhearingI called out to him by name and entreated his help. Irepeated my exclamation several timesupon whichwith a very loudvoicehe bid the postilion stop; but the boy took no noticebutdrove on with still greater speed. I now thought he could neverovertake uswhen in less than a minute I saw Mr. Burchell comerunning up by the side of the horsesand with one blow knock thepostilion to the ground. The horseswhen he was fallensoon stoppedof themselves and the ruffian stepping out with oaths and menacesdrew his sword and ordered him at hisperil to retire; but Mr. Burchellrunningupshivered his sword to piecesand then pursued him for near aquarter of a mile; but he made his escape. I was at this time comeout myselfwilling to assist my deliverer; but he soon returned tome in triumph. The postilionwho was recoveredwas going to makehis escape too; but Mr. Burchell ordered him at his peril to mountagain and drive back to town. Finding it impossible to resisthereluctantly compliedthough the wound he had received seemed to meat least to be dangerous. He continued to complain of the pain as wedrove alongso that he at last excited Mr. Burchell's compassionwho at my request exchanged him for another at an inn where we calledon our return."
"Welcomethen" cried I"mychildand thouher gallant deliverera thousand welcomes! Thoughour cheer is but wretchedyet our hearts are ready to receive you.And nowMr. Burchellas you have delivered my girlif you thinkher a recompense she is yours; if you can stoop to an alliance with afamily so poor as minetake herobtain her consentas I know youhave her heartand you have mine. And let me tell yousirthat Igive you no small treasure; she has been celebrated for beautyit istruebut that is not my meaning: I give you up a treasure in hermind."
"But I supposesir" cried Mr.Burchell"that you are apprized of my circumstancesand of myincapacity to support her as she deserves?"
"If your present objection" repliedI"be meant as an evasion of my offerI desist; but I know noman so worthy to deserve her as you; and if I could give herthousandsand thousands sought her from meyet my honestbraveBurchell should be my dearest choice. "
To all this his silence alone seemed to give amortifying refusalandwithout the least reply to my offerhedemanded if we could not be furnished with refreshments from the nextinn; to which being answered in the affirmativehe ordered them tosend in the best dinner that could be provided upon such shortnotice. He bespoke also a dozen of their best wineand some cordialsfor me; addingwith a smilethat he would stretch a little foronceand though in a prisonasserted he was never better disposedto be merry. The waiter soon made his appearance with preparationsfor dinnera table was lent us by the gaolerwho seemed remarkablyassiduousthe wine was disposed in orderand two very well-dresseddishes were brought in.
My daughter had notyet heard of her poor brother's melancholy situationand we allseemed unwilling to damp her cheerfulness by the relation. But it wasin vain that I attempted to appear cheerful; the circumstances of myunfortunate son broke through all efforts to dissemble; so that I wasat last obliged to damp our mirth by relating his misfortunesandwishing that he might be permitted to share with us inthis little interval of satisfaction. Aftermy guests were recovered from the consternation my account hadproducedI requested also that Mr. Jenkinsona fellowprisonermight be admittedand the gaoler granted my request with an air ofunusual submission. The clanking of my son's irons was no soonerheard along the passagethan his sister ran impatiently to meet him;while Mr. Burchellin the meantimeasked me if my son's name wereGeorge; to which replying in the affirmativehe still continuedsilent. As soon as my boy entered the roomI could perceive heregarded Mr. Burchell with a look of astonishment and reverence.
"Come on" cried I"my sonthough we are fallen very lowyet Providence has been pleased togrant us some small relaxation from pain. Thy sister is restored tousand there is her deliverer; to that brave man it is that I amindebted for yet having a daughter; give himmy boythe hand offriendship; he deserves our warmest gratitude."
My son seemed all this while regardless of whatI saidand still continued fixed at a respectful distance.
"My dear brother" cried his sister"why don't you thank my good deliverer? The brave should everlove each other."
He still continuedhis silence and astonishmenttill our guest at last perceivedhimself to be knownand assuming all his native dignitydesired myson to come forward. Never before bad I seen any thing so truly majestic as theair he assumed upon this occasion. The greatest object in theuniversesays a certain philoso
pheris a good man struggling with adversity; yet thereis still a greaterwhich is the good man that comes to relieve it.After he had regarded my son forsome time with a superior air"Iagain find" said he"unthinking boythat the same crime"But here he was interrupted by one of the gaoler's servantswho cameto inform us that a person of distinctionwho had driven into townwith a chariot and several attendantssent his respects to thegentleman that was with usand begged to know when he should thinkproper to be waited upon.-"Bid the fellow wait" cried ourguest"till I shall have leisure to receive him;" and thenturning to my son"I again findsir" proceeded he"thatyou are guilty of the same offence for which you once had my reproofand for which the law is now preparing its justest punishments. Youimagineperhapsthat a contempt for your own life gives you a rightto take that of another; but wheresiris the difference between aduellist who hazards a life of no valueand the murderer who actswith greater security? Is it any diminution of the gamester's fraudwhen he alleges that he has staked a counter?"
"Alassir" cried I"whoeveryou arepity the poor misguided creature; for what he has done wasin obedience to a deluded motherwho in the bitterness of herresentment required him upon her blessing to avenge her quarrel!Heresiris the letterwhich will serve to convince you of herimprudence and diminish his guilt."
He took the letterand hastily read it over. "This"says he"though not a perfect excuseis such a palliation of his faultas induces me to forgive him. Andnowsir" continued hekindly taking my son by the hand"Isee you are surprised at finding me here; but I have often visitedprisons upon occasions less interesting. I am now come to see justicedone a worthy manfor whom I have the most sincere esteem. I havelong been a disguised spectator of thy father's benevolence. I haveat his little dwelling enjoyed respect uncontaminated by flatteryand have received that happiness that courts could not givefrom theamusing simplicity round his fireside. My nephew has been apprized ofmy intentions of coming hereand I find is arrived; it would bewronging him and you to condemn him without examination. If there beinjury there shall be redress; and this I may say without boastingthat none have ever taxed the injustice of Sir William Thornhill."
We now found thepersonage whom we had so long entertained as a harmlessamusingcompanionwas no other than the celebrated Sir William Thornhilltowhose virtues and singularities scarcely any were strangers. The poorMr. Burchell was in reality a man of a large fortune and greatinterestto whom senates listened with applauseand whom partyheard with conviction; who was the friend of his countrybut loyalto his king. My poor wiferecollecting her former familiarityseemed to shrink with apprehension; butSophiawho a few moments before thoughthim her ownnow perceiving the immense distance to which he wasremoved by fortunewas unable to conceal her tears.
"Ahsir" cried my wifewith apiteous aspect"how is it possible that I can ever have yourforgiveness! The slights you received from me the last time I had thehonor of seeing you at our houseand the jokes which I audaciouslythrew outthese jokessirI fear can never be forgiven."
"My dear good lady" returned he witha smile"if you had your jokeI had my answer; I'll leave itto all the company if mine were not as good as yours. To say thetruthI know nobody whom I am disposed to be angry with at presentbut the fellow who so frightened my little girl here. I had not eventime to examine the rascal's person so as to describe him in anadvertisement. Can you tell meSophiamy dearwhether you shouldknow him again?"
"Indeedsir"replied she"I can't be positive; yet now I recollect he had alarge mark over one of his eyebrows."
"I ask pardonmadam" interrupted Jenkinsonwho was by"but be so goodas to inform me if the fellow wore his own red hair!"
"YesI think so" cried Sophia.-"And did your honor"continued heturning to Sir William"observe the length of hislegs?"
"I can't be sure of their length" cried thebaronet"but I am convinced of their swiftness;for he outran mewhich is what I thoughtfew men in the kingdom could have done."
"Please yourhonor" cried Jenkinson"I know the man; it is certainlythe same; the best runner in England: he has beaten PinwireofNewcastle; Timothy Baxter is his name. I know him perfectlyand thevery place of his retreat this moment. If your honor will bid Mr.Gaoler let two of his men go with meI'll engage to produce him toyou in an hour at the farthest." Upon this the gaoler wascalledwho instantly appearingSir William demanded if he knew him."Yesplease your honor" replied the gaoler"I knowSir William Thornhill welland everybody that knows any thing of himwill desire to know more of him."
"Wellthen" saidthe baronet"my request isthat you will permit this man andtwo of your servants to go upon a message by my authorityand as Iam in the commission of the peace I undertake to secure you."
"Yourpromise is sufficient" replied the other"and you may ata minute's warning send them over England whenever your honor thinksfit."
In pursuance of thegaoler's complianceJenkinson was despatched in search of TimothyBaxterwhile we were amused at the assiduity of our youngest boyBillwho had just come in and climbed up Sir William's neck in orderto kiss him. His mother was immediately going to chastise hisfamiliaritybut the worthy man prevented her; and taking the childall ragged as hewasupon his knee"WhatBillyouchubby rogue" cried he"do you remember your old friendBurchell? and Dicktoomy honest veteranare you here? you shallfind I have not forgot you." So sayinghe gave each a largepiece of gingerbreadwhich the poor fellows ate very heartilyasthey had got that morning but a very scanty breakfast.
We now sat down to dinnerwhich was almostcold; but previouslymy arm continuing painfulSir William wrote aprescriptionfor he had made the study of physic his amusementandwas more than moderately skilled in the profession; this being sentto an apothecary who lived in the placemy arm was dressedand Ifound almost instantaneous relief. We were waited upon at dinner bythe gaoler himselfwho was willing to do our guest all the honor inhis power. But before we had well dinedanother message was broughtfrom his nephewdesiring permission to appearin order to vindicatehis innocence and honor; with which request the baronet compliedanddesired Mr. Thornhill to be introduced.
Chapter 31 - Former Benevolence Now Repaid with UnexpectedInterest
MR. THORNHILL made his appearance with a smilewhich he seldom wantedand was going to embrace his unclewhich theother repulsed with an air of disdain. "No fawningsiratpresent" cried the baronetwith a look of severity; "theonly way to my heart is by the road of honor; but here I only seecomplicated instances of falsehoodcowardiceand oppression. How isitsirthat this poor manfor whom I know you professed afriendshipis used thus hardly? His daughter vilely seduced as arecompense for his hospitalityand he himself thrown into prisonperhaps but for resenting the insult? His sontoowhom you fearedto face as a man-"
"Is it possiblesir" interrupted hisnephew"that my uncle could object to that as a crimewhichhis repeated instructions alone have persuaded me to avoid?"
"Your rebuke"cried Sir William"is just; you have acted in this instanceprudently and wellthough not quite as your father would have done.My brotherindeedwas the soul of honor; butthou-yesyou have acted in this instance perfectly rightand it hasmy warmest approbation."
"And I hope" said his nephew"thatthe rest of my conduct will not be found to deserve censure. Iappearedsirwith this gentleman's daughter at some places ofpublic amusement; thus what was levityscandal called by a harshernameand it was reported that I had debauched her. I waited on herfather in personwilling to clear the thing to his satisfactionandhe received me only with insult and abuse. As for the restwithregard to his being heremy attorney and steward can best informyouas I commit the management of business entirely to them. If hehas contracted debtsand is unwilling or even unable to pay themitis their business to proceed in this manner; and I see no hardship orinjustice in pursuing the most legal means of redress."
"If this" cried Sir William"beas you have statedthere is nothing unpardonable in your offence;and though your conduct might have been more generous in notsuffering this gentleman to be oppressed by subordinate tyrannyyetit has been at least equitable."
"He cannotcontradict a single particular" replied the 'Squire; "Idefy him to do so; and several of my servants are ready to attestwhat I say. Thussir" continued hefinding that I was silentfor in fact I could not contradict him; "thussirmy owninnocenceis vindicated; but though at your entreatyI am ready to forgive this gentleman every other offenceyet hisattempts to lessen me in your esteem excite a resentment that Icannot govern. And thistooat a time when his son was actuallypreparing to take away my life; thisI saywas such guiltthat Iam determined to let the law take its course. I have here thechallenge that was sent meand two witnesses to prove it; one of myservants has been wounded dangerously; and even though my unclehimself should dissuade mewhich I know he will notyet I will seepublic justice doneand he shall suffer for it."
"Thou monster!" cried my wife"hastthou not had vengeance enough alreadybut must my poor boy feel thycruelty? I hope that good Sir William will protect usfor my son isas innocent as a child; I am sure he isand never did harm to man."
"Madam" replied the good man"yourwishes for his safety are not greater than mine; but I am sorry tofind his guilt too plain; and if my nephew persists-" But theappearance of Jenkinson and the gaoler's two servants now called offour attentionwho enteredhauling in a tall man very genteellydressedand answering the description already given of the ruffianwho had carried off my daughter. "Here" cried Jenkinsonpulling him in"here we have him; and if ever there was acandidate for Tyburn this is one!"
The moment Mr.Thornhill perceived the prisonerand Jenkinson who had him in custodyheseemed to shrink back with terror. His face became pale withconscious guiltand he would have withdrawn; but Jenkinsonwhoperceived his designstopped him. "What'Squire" criedhe"are you ashamed of your two old acquaintancesJenkinsonand Baxter? But this is the way that all great men forget theirfriendsthough I am resolved we will not forget you. Our prisonerplease your honor" continued heturning to Sir William"hasalready confessed all. This is the gentleman reported to be sodangerously wounded; he declares that it was Mr. Thornhill who firstput him upon this affair; that he gave him the clothes he now wearsto appear like a gentlemanand furnished him with the post-chaise.The plan was laid between themthat he should carry off the younglady to a place of safetyand that there he should threaten andterrify her; but Mr. Thornhill was to come in the meantimeas if byaccidentto her rescueand that they should fight awhileand thenhe was to run offby which means Mr. Thornhill would have the betteropportunity of gaining her affections himself under the character ofher defender."
Sir William remembered the coat to have beenworn by his nephewand all the rest the prisoner himself confirmedby a more circumstantial accountconcluding that Mr. Thornhill hadoften declared to him that he was in love with both sisters at thesame time.
"Heavens!" cried Sir William"whata viper have I been fostering in my bosom! And so fond of publicjusticetooas he seemed to be! But he shall have it. Secure himMr. Gaoler-yet holdI fear there is not legal evidence to detainhim."
Upon thisMr. Thornhillwith the utmosthumilityentreated that two such abandoned wretches might not beadmitted as evidence against himbut that his servants should beexamined.-"Your servants!" replied Sir William; "callthem yours no longer; butcomelet us hear what those fellows haveto say; let his butler be called."
When the butler wasintroducedhe soon perceived by his former master's looks that allhis power was now over. "Tell me" cried Sir Williamsternly"have you ever seen your master and that fellow dressedup in his clothes in company together?"
"Yesplease yourhonor" cried the butler"a thousand times; he was the manthat always brought him his ladies."
"How" interruptedyoung Mr. Thornhill"this to my face!"
"Yes"replied the butler"or to any man's face. To tell you a truthMaster ThornhillI never either loved you or liked youand I don'tcare if I tell you now a piece of my mind."-Nowthen"cried Jenkinson"tell his honor whether you know any thing ofme."
"I can't say" replied the butler"that Iknow much good of you. The night that gentleman's daughter wasdeluded to our house you were one of them."-"Sothen" cried Sir William"I find you have brought a very fine witness to prove yourinnocence; thou stain to humanity! to associate with such wretches!But" (continuing his examination) "you tell meMr. Butlerthat this was the person who brought him this old gentleman'sdaughter."
"Noplease your honor" replied thebutler"he did not bring herfor the 'Squire himself undertookthat business; but he brought the priest that pretended to marrythem."
"It is but too true" cried Jenkinson"Ican't deny it; that was the employment assigned meand I confess itto my confusion."
"Good heavens!" exclaimed the baronet"how every new discovery of his villainy alarms me! All hisguilt is now too plainand I find his prosecution was dictated bytyrannycowardiceand revenge. At my requestMr. Gaolerset thisyoung officernow your prisonerfreeand trust to me for theconsequences. I'll make it my business to set the affair in a properlight to my friend the magistrate who has committed him. But where isthe unfortunate lady herself? Let her appear to confront this wretch!I long to know by what arts he has seduced her. Entreat her to comein. Where is she?"
"Ahsir"said I"that question stings me to the heart; I was onceindeedhappy in a daughterbut her miseries-" Anotherinterruption here prevented me: for who should make her appearancebut Miss Arabella Wilmotwho was next day to have been married to Mr. Thornhill. Nothing couldequal her
surprise atseeing Sir William and his nephew here before her; for her arrivalwas quite accidental. It happened that she and the old gentlemanherfatherwere passing through the town on their way to her aunt'swho had insisted that her nuptials with Mr.Thornhill should be consummated at her house; but stopping forrefreshmentthey put up at an inn at the other end of the town. Itwas there f rom the window that the young lady happened to observeone of my little boys playing in the streetand instantly sending afootman to bring the child to hershe learned f rom him some accountof our misfortunes; but was still kept ignorant of young Mr.Thornhill's being the cause. Though her father made severalremonstrances on the impropriety of her going to a prison to visitusyet they were ineffectual. She desired the child to conduct herwhich he didand it was thus that she surprised us at a junction sounexpected.
Nor can I go onwithout a reflection upon thoseaccidental meetingswhichthough they happen every dayseldomexcite our surprise but upon some extraordinary occasion. To what afortuitous occurrence do we not owe every pleasure and convenience ofour lives. How many seeming accidents must unite before we can beclothed or fed. The peasant must be disposed to laborthe showermust fallthe wind fill the merchant's sailor numbers must wantthe usual supply.
We all continuedsilent for some momentswhile my charming pupilwhich was the nameI generally gave this young ladyunited in her looks compassion andastonishmentwhich gave new finishings to her beauty. "Indeedmy dear Mr. Thornhill" cried sheto the 'Squirewhoshe supposedwas comehere to succor and not to oppress us"I take it a littleunkindly that you should come here without meor never inform me ofthe situation of a family so dear to us both. You know I should takeas much pleasure in contributing to the relief of my reverend oldmaster herewhom I shall ever esteemas you can. But I find thatlike your uncleyou take a pleasure in doing good in secret."
"He find pleasure in doing good!"cried Sir Williaminterrupting her. "Nomy dearhis pleasuresare as base as he is. You see in himmadamas complete a villain asever disgraced humanity. A wretch who after having deluded this poorman's daughterafter plotting against the innocence of her sisterhas thrown the father into prisonand the eldest son into fettersbecause he had the courage to face her betrayer. And give me leavemadamnow to congratulate you upon an escape from the embraces ofsuch a monster."
"O goodness!" cried the lovely girl"how have I been deceived! Mr. Thornhill informed me for certainthat this gentleman's eldest son Captain Primrosehad gone off toAmerica with his new-married lady."
"My sweetestmiss" cried my wife"he has told you nothing butfalsehoods. My son George never left the kingdomnor ever wasmarried. Though you have forsaken himhe has always loved you toowell to think of anybody else; and I have heard him sayhe would die a bachelor for your sake."She then proceeded to expatiate upon the sincerity of her son'spassion; she set his duel with Mr. Thornhill in its proper light;from thence she made a rapid digression to the 'Squire'sdebaucherieshis pretended marriagesand ended with a mostinsulting picture of his cowardice.
"Good heavens!" cried Miss Wilmot"how very near have I been to the brink of ruin! But how greatis my pleasure to have escaped it! Ten thousand falsehoods has thisgentleman told me! He had at last art enough to persuade me that mypromise to the only man I esteemed was no longer bindingsince hehad been unfaithful. By his falsehood I was taught to detest oneequally brave and generous!"
But by this time myson was freed from the incumbrances of justiceas the personsupposed to be wounded was detected to be an impostor. Mr. Jenkinsonalsowho had acted as his valet de chambrehad dressed up his hairand furnished him with whatever was necessary to make a genteelappearance. He nowthereforeenteredhandsomely dressed in hisregimentals; and without vanity (for I am above it)he appeared ashandsome a fellow as ever wore a military dress. As he enteredhemade Miss Wilmot a modest and distant bowf or he was not as yetacquainted with the change which the eloquence of his mother hadwrought in his favor. But no decorums couldrestrain the impatience of his blushingmistress to be forgiven. Her tearsher looksall contributed todiscover the real sensations of her heartfor having forgotten herformer promiseand having suffered herself to be deluded by animpostor. My son appeared amazed at her condescensionand couldscarcely believe it real. "Suremadam" cried he"thisis but delusion! I can never have merited this! To be blessed thus isto be too happy."
"Nosir" replied she"I havebeen deceivedbasely deceivedelse nothing could ever have made meunjust to my promise. You know my friendshipyou have long known it;but forget what I have doneand as you once had my warmest vows ofconstancyyou shall now have them repeated; and be assured that ifArabella cannot be yoursshe shall never be another's."
"Andno other's you shall be" cried Sir William"if I have anyinfluence with your father."
This hint wassufficient for my son Moseswho immediately flew to the inn wherethe old gentleman wasto inform him of every circumstance that hadhappened. Butin the meantimethe 'Squireperceiving that he wason every side undonenow finding that no hopes were left fromflattery or dissimulationconcluded that his wisest way would be toturn and face his pursuers. Thuslaying aside all shamehe appearedthe openhardy villain. "I findthen" cried he"thatI am to expect no justice here; but I amresolved that it shall be done me. Youshall knowsir" turning to Sir William"I am no longer apoor dependent upon your favors. I scorn them. Nothing can keep MissWilmot's fortune from mewhichI thank her father's assiduityispretty large. The articles and a bond for her fortune are signedandsafe in my possession. It was her fortunenot her person thatinduced me to wish for this match; and possessed of the onelet whowill take the other."
This was an alarming blow; Sir William wassensible of the justice of his claimsfor he had been instrumentalin drawing up the marriage articles himself. Miss Wilmotthereforeperceiving her fortune was irretrievably lostturning to my sonasked if the loss of fortune could lessen her value to him. "Thoughfortune" said she"is out of my poweratleast I havemy hand to give."
"And thatmadam" cried her reallover"wasindeedall that you ever had to give; at least allthat I ever thought worth the acceptance. And I now protestmyArabellaby all that's happyyour want of fortune this momentincreases my pleasureas it serves to convince my sweet girl of mysincerity."
Mr. Wilmot nowenteringhe seemed not a little pleased at the danger his daughterhad just escapedand readily consented to a dissolution of thematch. But finding that her fortunewhich was secured to Mr.Thornhill by bondwould not be given upnothingcould exceed his disappointment. He now sawthat his money must all go to enrich one who had no fortune of hisown. He could bear his being a rascal; but to want an equivalent tohis daughter's fortune was wormwood. He satthereforefor someminutesemployed in the most mortifying speculationstill SirWilliam attempted to lessen his anxiety. "I must confesssir"cried he"that your present disappointment does not entirelydisplease me. Your immoderate passion for wealth is now justlypunished. But though the young lady cannot be richshe has still asufficient competence to give content. Here you see an honest youngsoldier; who is willing to take her without fortune; they have longloved each other; and for the friendship I bear his fathermyinterest shall not be wanting in his promotion. Leavethenthatambition which disappoints youand for once admit that happinesswhich courts your acceptance."
"Sir William" replied the oldgentleman"be assured I never yet forced her inclinationsnorwill I now. If she still continues to love this young gentlemanlether have him with all my heart. There is stillthank Heaven! somefortune leftand your promise will make it something more. Only letmy old friend here (meaning me) give me a promise of settling sixthousand pounds upon my girlif ever he should come to his fortuneand I am ready this night to be the first to join them together."
As it now remained with me to make the youngcouple happyI readily gave a promise of making the settlement herequiredwhichto one who had such little expectations as Iwas nogreat favor. We had nowthereforethe satisfaction of seeing themfly into each other's arms in a transport. "After all mymisfortunes" cried my son George"to be thus rewarded!Sure this is more than I could ever have presumed to hope for. To bepossessed of all that's goodand after such an interval of pain! Mywarmest 'wishes could never rise so high!"
"YesmyGeorge" returned his lovely bride"now let the wretchtake my fortune; since you are happy without itso am I. Oh what anexchange have I madefrom the basest of men to the dearestthebest! Let him enjoy our fortuneI now can be happy even inindigence."
"And I promise you" cried the 'Squirewith a malicious grin"that I shall be very happy with what youdespise."
"Holdholdsir!" cried Jenkinson"thereare two words to that bargain. As f or that lady's fortunesiryoushall never touch a single stiver of it. Prayyour honor"continued he to Sir William"can the 'Squire have this lady'sfortune if he be married to another?"
"How can you makesuch a simple demand?" replied the baronet; "undoubtedly hecannot."
"I am sorry for that" cried Jenkinson; "foras this gentleman and I have been old fellow-sportersI have afriendship for him. But I must declarewell as Ilove himthat his contract is not worth atobaccostopperfor he is married already."
"You lielikea rascal" returned the 'Squirewho seemed roused by thisinsult; "I never was legally married to any woman."
"Indeedbegging your honor's pardon"replied the other"you were; and I hope you will show a properreturn of friendship to your own honest Jenkinsonwho brings you awifeand if the company restrain their curiosity a few minutestheyshall see her." So sayinghe went off with his usual celerityand left us all unable to form any probable conjecture as to hisdesigns. "Aylet him go" cried the 'Squire; "whateverelse I may have doneI defy him there. I am too old now to befrightened with squibs."
"I amsurprised" said the baronet; "what can the fellow intendby this? Some low piece of humorI suppose!" "Perhapssir" replied I"he may have a more serious meaning. Forwhen we reflect on the various schemes this gentleman has laid toseduce innocenceperhaps some one more artful than the rest has beenfound able to deceive him. When we consider what numbers he hasruinedhow many parents now feel with anguish the infamy and thecontamination which he has brought into their familiesit would notsurprise me if some one of them-Amazement! Do I see my lost daughter?Do I hold her? It isit ismy lifemy happiness! I thought theelostmyOliviayet still I hold theeand stillthou shalt live to bless me." The warmest transports of thefondest lover were not greater than mine when I saw him introduce mychildand held my daughter in my armswhose silence only spoke herraptures.
"And art thoureturned to memy darling" cried I"to be my comfort inage?" "That she is" cried Jenkinson"and makemuch of herfor she is your own honorable childand as honest awoman as any in the whole roomlet the other be who she will. And asfor you'Squireas sure as you stand therethis young lady is yourlawful wedded wife. And to convince you that I speak nothing buttruthhere is the license by which you were married together."So sayinghe put the license into the baronet's handwho read itand found it perfect in every respect. "And nowgentlemen"continued he"I find you are surprised at all this; but a fewwords will explain the difficulty. That there 'Squire of renownforwhom I have a great friendshipbut that's between ourselveshasoften employed me in doing odd little things for him. Among the resthe commissioned me to procure him a false license and a false priestin order to deceive this young lady. Butas I was very much hisfriendwhat did I do but went and got a true license and a truepriestand married them both as fast as the cloth could make them.Perhapsyou'll think it was generosity that made me do all this. Butno. To myshame I confess itmy only design was tokeep the license and let the 'Squire know that I could prove it uponhim whenever I thought properand so make him come down whenever Iwanted money." A burst of pleasure now seemed to fill the wholeapartment; our joy reached even to the common roomwhere theprisoners themselves sympathized
And shook their chains
In transport and rude harmony.
Happiness was expanded upon every faceand evenOlivia's cheek seemed flushed with pleasure. To be thus restored toreputationto friends and fortune at oncewas a rupture sufficientto stop the progress of decay and restore former health and vivacity.Butperhapsamong all there was not one who felt sincerer pleasurethan I. Still holding the dear-loved child in my armsI asked myheart if these transports were not delusion. "How could you"cried Iturning to Mr. Jenkinson"how could you add to mymiseries by the story of her death? But it matters not; my pleasureat finding her again is more than a recompense for the pain."
"As to yourquestion" replied Jenkinson"that is easily answered. Ithought the only probable means of freeing you from prison was bysubmitting to the 'Squireand consenting to his marriage with theother young lady. But these you had vowed never to grantwhile your daughter was living; there wastherefore no other method to bring things to bear but by persuadingyou that she was dead. I prevailed on your wife to join in thedeceitand we have not had a fit opportunity of undeceiving you tillnow."
In the whole assembly now there only appearedtwo faces that did not glow with transport. Mr. Thornhill's assurancehad entirely forsaken him: he now saw the gulf of infamy and wantbefore himand trembled to take the plunge. He therefore fell on hisknees before his uncleand in a voice of piercing misery imploredcompassion. Sir William was going to spurn him awaybut at myrequest he raised himandafter pausing a few moments"Thyvicescrimes and ingratitude" cried he"deserve notenderness; yet thou shalt not be entirely forsakena barecompetence shall be supplied to support the wants of lifebut notits follies. This young ladythy wifeshall be put in possession ofa third part of that fortune which once was thineand from hertenderness alone thou art to expect any extraordinary supplies forthe future." He was going to express his gratitude for suchkindness in a set speech; but the baronet prevented him by biddinghim not aggravate his meannesswhich was already but too apparent.He ordered him at the same time to be goneand from all his formerdomestics to choose onesuch as he should think properwhich wasall that should be granted to attend him.
As soon as he leftusSir William very politely stepped up to his new niece with asmileand wished her joy. His example was followed by Miss Wilmotand her father; my wifetookissed her daughter with muchaffectionasto use her own expressionshe was now made an honestwoman of. Sophia and Moses followed in turnand even our benefactorJenkinsondesired to be admitted to that honor. Our satisfactionseemed scarcely capable of increase. Sir Williamwhose greatestpleasure was in doing goodnow looked round with a countenance openas the sunand saw nothing but joy in the looks of all except thatof my daughter Sophiawhofor some reasons we could not comprehenddid not seem perfectly satisfied. "I think now" cried hewith a smile"that all the company except one or two seemperfectly happy. There only remains an act of justice for me to do.You are sensiblesir" continued heturning to me"ofthe obligations we both owe Mr. Jenkinson; and it is but just weshould both reward him for it. Miss Sophia willI am suremake himvery happyand he shall have from me five hundred pounds as herfortuneand upon this I am sure they can live very comfortablytogether. ComeMiss Sophiawhat say you to this match of my making?Will you have him?" My poor girl seemed almost sinking into hermother's arms at the hideous proposal. "'Have himsir!"cried shefaintly. "Nosirnever!"
"What!"cried he again"not have Mr. Jenkinsonyour benefactora handsome young fellow with five hundred pounds andgood expectations!"
"I begsir" returned shescarcely able to speak"that you'll desistand not make me sovery wretched."
"Was ever such obstinacy known" criedhe again"to refuse a man whom the family has such infiniteobligations towho has preserved your sisterand who has fivehundred pounds! Whatnot have him!"
"Nosirnever"replied sheangrily; "I'd sooner die first!"
"If thatbe the case then" cried he"if you will not have himIthink I must have you myself." And so saying he caught her tohis breast with ardor. "My loveliestmy most sensible ofgirls" cried he"how could you ever think your ownBurchell could deceive youor that Sir William Thornhill could evercease to admire a mistress that loved him for himself alone? I havefor some years sought for a womanwhoa stranger to my fortunecould think that I had merit as a man. After having tried in vaineven amongst the pert and the uglyhow great at last must be myrapture to have made a conquest over such sense and heavenly beauty!"Then turning to Jenkinson"As I cannotsirpart with thisyoung lady myselffor she has taken a fancy to the cut of my faceall the recompense I can make is to give you her fortuneand you maycall upon my steward to-morrow for five hundred pounds." Thus wehad all our compliments to repeatand Lady Thornhill underwent thesameround of ceremony that her sister had donebefore. In the meantime Sir William's gentleman appeared to tell usthat the equipages were ready to carry us to the innwhereeverything was ready for our reception. My wife and I led the vanand left those gloomy mansions of sorrow. The generous baronetordered forty pounds to be distributed among the prisonersand Mr.Wilmotinduced by his examplegave half that sum. We were receivedbelow by the shouts of the villagers; and I saw and shook by the handtwo or three of my honest parishioners who were among the number.They attended us to our innwhere a sumptuous entertainment wasprovidedand coarser provisions were distributed in great quantitiesamong the populace.
After supperas my spirits were exhausted bythe alternation of pleasure and pain which they had sustained duringthe dayI asked permission to withdraw; and leaving the company inthe midst of their mirthas soon as I found myself aloneI pouredout my heart in gratitude to the Giver of joy as well as of sorrowand then slept undisturbed till morning.
Chapter 32 - The Conclusion
THE next morning assoon as I awoke I found my eldest son sitting by my bedsidewho cameto increase my joy with another turn of fortune in my favor. Firsthaving released me from the settlement that I had made the day beforein his favorhe let me know that my merchant who had failed in townwas arrested at Antwerpand there had given up effects to a muchgreater amount than what was due to his creditors. My boy'sgenerosity pleased me almost as much as this unlooked-for goodfortune. But I had some doubts whether I ought in justice to accepthis offer. While I was pondering upon thisSir William entered theroomto whom I communicated my doubts. His opinion was that as myson was already possessed of a very affluent fortune by his marriageI might accept his offer without any hesitation. His businesshoweverwas to inform me thatas he had the night before sent forthe licensesand expected them every hourhe hoped that I would notrefuse my assistance in making all the companyhappy that morning. A footman entered while we were speakingto tellus that the messenger was returnedand as I was by this time ready Iwent downwhere I found the whole company as merry as affluence andinnocence could make them. Howeveras they were now preparing for avery solemn ceremonytheir laughter entirely displeased me. I toldthem of the gravebecoming and sublime deportment they should assumeupon this mystical occasionand read them two homilies and a thesisof my own composingin order to prepare them. Yet they still seemedperfectly refractory and ungovernable. Even as we were going along tochurchto which I led the wayall gravity had quite forsaken themand I was often tempted to turn back in indignation. In church a newdilemma arosewhich promised no easy solution. This waswhichcouple should be married first. My son's bride warmly insisted thatLady Thornhill (that was to be) should take the lead; but this theother refused with equal ardorprotesting she would not be guilty ofsuch rudeness for the world. The argument was supported for some timebetween both with equal obstinacy and good-breeding. But as I stoodall this time with my book readyI was at last quite tired of thecontestand shutting it"I perceive" cried I"thatnone of you have a mind to be marriedand I think we had as good goback again; for I suppose there will be no business done here today."This at once reducedthem to reason. The baronet and his ladywere first marriedand then my son and his lovely partner.
I had previously thatmorning given orders that a coach should be sent for my honestneighbor Flamborough and his familyby which meansupon our returnto the innwe had the pleasure of finding the two Miss Flamboroughsalighted before us. Mr. Jenkinsongave his hand to the eldestand my sonMoses led up the other (and I have since found that he has taken areal liking to the girland my consent and bounty he shall havewhenever he thinks proper to demand them). We were no sooner returnedto the innbut numbers of my parishionershearing of my successcame to congratulate mebut among the rest were those who rose torescue meand whom I formerly rebuked with such sharpness. I toldthe story to Sir Williammy son-in-lawwho went out and reprovedthem with great severity; but finding them quite disheartened by hisharsh reproofhe gave them half-a-guinea a-piece to drink his healthand raise their dejected spirits.
Soon after this we were called to a very genteelentertainmentwhich was dressed by Mr. Thornhill's cook. And it maynot be improper to observe with respect to that gentlemanthat henow resides in quality of companion at a relation's housebeing verywell likedand seldom sitting at the side-table except when there isno room at the other; for they make no stranger of him. His time ispretty much taken up in keeping his relationwho is a littlemelancholyin spiritsand in learning to blow the French horn. Myeldest daughterhoweverstill remembers him with regret; and shehas even told methough I make a great secret of itthat when hereforms she may be brought to relent.
But to returnfor Iam not apt to digress thuswhen we were to sit down to dinnerourceremonies were going to be renewed. The question waswhether myeldest daughteras being a matronshould not sit above the twoyoung brides; but the debate was cut short by my son Georgewhoproposed that the company should sit indiscriminatelyeverygentleman by his lady. This was received with great approbation byallexcepting my wifewhoI could perceivewas not perfectlysatisfiedas she expected to have had the pleasure of sitting at thehead of the table and carving all the meat for all the company. Butnotwithstanding thisit is impossible to describe our good humor. Ican't say whether we had more wit among us than usual; but I amcertain we had more laughingwhich answered the end as well. Onejest I particularly remember: old Mr. Wilmot drinking to Moseswhosehead was turned another waymy son replied: "MadamI thankyou." Upon which the old gentlemanwinking upon the rest of thecompanyobserved that he was thinking of his mistress. At which jestI thought the two Miss Flamboroughs would have died with laughing. Assoon as dinner was overaccording to my old customI requested thatthe table might be taken awayto have the pleasure of seeing all myfamily assembled once more by a cheerful fireside. My two little onessat upon each kneethe company by their partners. I had nothingnowon this side of the grave to wish for; all my cares wereover; my pleasure was unspeakable. It nowonly remained that my gratitude in good fortune should exceed myformer submission in adversity.