THE WORKS OF HENRY FIELDING
IN TWELVE VOLUMES
HENRY FIELDING ESQ
EDITED BY GEORGE
& E. J. WHEELER.
CONTENTS OF VOL. II.
In which the reader will meet with an old acquaintance
Containing a brace of doctors and much physical matter
In which Booth pays a visit to the noble lord
Relating principally to the affairs of serjeant Atkinson
Containing matters that require no preface
Containing much heroic matter
In which the reader will find matter worthy his consideration
Containing various matters
The heroic behaviour of Colonel Bath
Being the last chapter of the fifth book
Panegyrics on beauty, with other grave matters
Which will not appear, we presume, unnatural to all married readers
In which the history looks a little backwards
Containing a very extraordinary incident
Containing some matters not very unnatural
A scene in which some ladies will possibly think Amelia's conduct
A chapter in which there is much learning
Containing some unaccountable behaviour in Mrs.. Ellison
Containing a very strange incident
A very short chapter, and consequently requiring no preface
The beginning of Mrs. Bennet's history
Continuation of Mrs. Bennet's story
The story of Mrs. Bennet continued
The story farther continued
The conclusion of Mrs. Bennet's history
Being the last chapter of the seventh book
Being the first chapter of the eighth book
Containing an account of Mr. Booth's fellow-sufferers
Containing some extraordinary behaviour in Mrs. Ellison
Containing, among many matters, the exemplary behaviour of Colonel
Comments upon authors
Which inclines rather to satire than panegyric
Worthy a very serious perusal
Consisting of grave matters
A curious chapter, from which a curious reader may draw sundry
In which are many profound secrets of philosophy
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
AMELIA AND HER CHILDREN . . . Frontispiece
In which the reader will meet with an old acquaintance.
Booth's affairs were put on a better aspect than they had ever worn
before, and he was willing to make use of the opportunity of one day
in seven to taste the fresh air.
At nine in the morning he went to pay a visit to his old friend
Colonel James, resolving, if possible, to have a full explanation of
that behaviour which appeared to him so mysterious: but the colonel
was as inaccessible as the best defended fortress; and it was as
impossible for Booth to pass beyond his entry as the Spaniards found
it to take Gibraltar. He received the usual answers; first, that the
colonel was not stirring, and an hour after that he was gone out. All
that he got by asking further questions was only to receive still
ruder answers, by which, if he had been very sagacious, he might have
been satisfied how little worth his while it was to desire to go in;
for the porter at a great man's door is a kind of thermometer, by
which you may discover the warmth or coldness of his master's
friendship. Nay, in the highest stations of all, as the great man
himself hath his different kinds of salutation, from an hearty embrace
with a kiss, and my dear lord or dear Sir Charles, down to, well Mr.
——, what would you have me do? so the porter to some bows with
respect, to others with a smile, to some he bows more, to others less
low, to others not at all. Some he just lets in, and others he just
shuts out. And in all this they so well correspond, that one would be
inclined to think that the great man and his porter had compared their
lists together, and, like two actors concerned to act different parts
in the same scene, had rehearsed their parts privately together before
they ventured to perform in public.
Though Booth did not, perhaps, see the whole matter in this just
light, for that in reality it is, yet he was discerning enough to
conclude, from the behaviour of the servant, especially when he
considered that of the master likewise, that he had entirely lost the
friendship of James; and this conviction gave him a concern that not
only the flattering prospect of his lordship's favour was not able to
compensate, but which even obliterated, and made him for a while
forget the situation in which he had left his Amelia: and he wandered
about almost two hours, scarce knowing where he went, till at last he
dropt into a coffee-house near St James's, where he sat himself down.
He had scarce drank his dish of coffee before he heard a young officer
of the guards cry to another, "Od, d—n me, Jack, here he comes—
here's old honour and dignity, faith." Upon which he saw a chair open,
and out issued a most erect and stately figure indeed, with a vast
periwig on his head, and a vast hat under his arm. This august
personage, having entered the room, walked directly up to the upper
end, where having paid his respects to all present of any note, to
each according to seniority, he at last cast his eyes on Booth, and
very civilly, though somewhat coldly, asked him how he did.
Booth, who had long recognized the features of his old acquaintance
Major Bath, returned the compliment with a very low bow; but did not
venture to make the first advance to familiarity, as he was truly
possessed of that quality which the Greeks considered in the highest
light of honour, and which we term modesty; though indeed, neither
ours nor the Latin language hath any word adequate to the idea of the
The colonel, after having discharged himself of two or three articles
of news, and made his comments upon them, when the next chair to him
became vacant, called upon Booth to fill it. He then asked him several
questions relating to his affairs; and, when he heard he was out of
the army, advised him earnestly to use all means to get in again,
saying that he was a pretty lad, and they must not lose him.
Booth told him in a whisper that he had a great deal to say to him on
that subject if they were in a more private place; upon this the
colonel proposed a walk in the Park, which the other readily accepted.
During their walk Booth opened his heart, and, among other matters,
acquainted Colonel Bath that he feared he had lost the friendship of
Colonel James; "though I am not," said he, "conscious of having done
the least thing to deserve it."
Bath answered, "You are certainly mistaken, Mr. Booth. I have indeed
scarce seen my brother since my coming to town; for I have been here
but two days; however, I am convinced he is a man of too nice honour
to do anything inconsistent with the true dignity of a gentleman."
Booth answered, "He was far from accusing him of anything
dishonourable."—"D—n me," said Bath, "if there is a man alive can or
dare accuse him: if you have the least reason to take anything ill,
why don't you go to him? you are a gentleman, and his rank doth not
protect him from giving you satisfaction." "The affair is not of any
such kind," says Booth; "I have great obligations to the colonel, and
have more reason to lament than complain; and, if I could but see him,
I am convinced I should have no cause for either; but I cannot get
within his house; it was but an hour ago a servant of his turned me
rudely from the door." "Did a servant of my brother use you rudely?"
said the colonel, with the utmost gravity. "I do not know, sir, in
what light you see such things; but, to me, the affront of a servant
is the affront of the master; and if he doth not immediately punish
it, by all the dignity of a man, I would see the master's nose between
my fingers." Booth offered to explain, but to no purpose; the colonel
was got into his stilts; and it was impossible to take him down, nay,
it was as much as Booth could possibly do to part with him without an
actual quarrel; nor would he, perhaps, have been able to have
accomplished it, had not the colonel by accident turned at last to
take Booth's side of the question; and before they separated he swore
many oaths that James should give him proper satisfaction.
Such was the end of this present interview, so little to the content
of Booth, that he was heartily concerned he had ever mentioned a
syllable of the matter to his honourable friend.
[This chapter occurs in the original edition of Amelia, between 1
and 2. It is omitted later, and would have been omitted here but for
an accident. As it had been printed it may as well appear: for though
it has no great value it may interest some readers as an additional
illustration of Fielding's dislike to doctors.—ED.
Containing a brace of doctors and much physical matter.
He now returned with all his uneasiness to Amelia, whom he found in a
condition very little adapted to relieve or comfort him. That poor
woman was now indeed under very great apprehensions for her child,
whose fever now began to rage very violently: and what was worse, an
apothecary had been with her, and frightened her almost out of her
wits. He had indeed represented the case of the child to be very
desperate, and had prevailed on the mother to call in the assistance
of a doctor.
Booth had been a very little time in the room before this doctor
arrived, with the apothecary close at his heels, and both approached
the bed, where the former felt the pulse of the sick, and performed
several other physical ceremonies.
He then began to enquire of the apothecary what he had already done
for the patient; all which, as soon as informed, he greatly approved.
The doctor then sat down, called for a pen and ink, filled a whole
side of a sheet of paper with physic, then took a guinea, and took his
leave; the apothecary waiting upon him downstairs, as he had attended
All that night both Amelia and Booth sat up with their child, who
rather grew worse than better. In the morning Mrs. Ellison found the
infant in a raging fever, burning hot, and very light-headed, and the
mother under the highest dejection; for the distemper had not given
the least ground to all the efforts of the apothecary and doctor, but
seemed to defy their utmost power, with all that tremendous apparatus
of phials and gallypots, which were arranged in battle-array all over
Mrs. Ellison, seeing the distrest, and indeed distracted, condition of
Amelia's mind, attempted to comfort her by giving her hopes of the
child's recovery. "Upon my word, madam," says she, "I saw a child of
much the same age with miss, who, in my opinion, was much worse,
restored to health in a few days by a physician of my acquaintance.
Nay, I have known him cure several others of very bad fevers; and, if
miss was under his care, I dare swear she would do very well." "Good
heavens! madam," answered Amelia, "why should you not mention him to
me? For my part I have no acquaintance with any London physicians, nor
do I know whom the apothecary hath brought me." "Nay, madam," cries
Mrs. Ellison, "it is a tender thing, you know, to recommend a
physician; and as for my doctor, there are abundance of people who
give him an ill name. Indeed, it is true, he hath cured me twice of
fevers, and so he hath several others to my knowledge; nay, I never
heard of any more than one of his patients that died; and yet, as the
doctors and apothecaries all give him an ill character, one is
fearful, you know, dear madam." Booth enquired the doctor's name,
which he no sooner heard than he begged his wife to send for him
immediately, declaring he had heard the highest character imaginable
of him at the Tavern from an officer of very good understanding.
Amelia presently complied, and a messenger was despatched accordingly.
But before the second doctor could be brought, the first returned with
the apothecary attending him as before. He again surveyed and handled
the sick; and when Amelia begged him to tell her if there was any
hopes, he shook his head, and said, "To be sure, madam, miss is in a
very dangerous condition, and there is no time to lose. If the
blisters which I shall now order her, should not relieve her, I fear
we can do no more."—"Would not you please, sir," says the apothecary,
"to have the powders and the draught repeated?" "How often were they
ordered?" cries the doctor. "Only tertia quaq. hora," says the
apothecary. "Let them be taken every hour by all means," cries the
doctor; "and—let me see, pray get me a pen and ink."—"If you think
the child in such imminent danger," said Booth, "would you give us
leave to call in another physician to your assistance—indeed my
wife"—"Oh, by all means," said the doctor, "it is what I very much
wish. Let me see, Mr. Arsenic, whom shall we call?" "What do you think
of Dr Dosewell?" said the apothecary.—"Nobody better," cries the
physician.—"I should have no objection to the gentleman," answered
Booth, "but another hath been recommended to my wife." He then
mentioned the physician for whom they had just before sent. "Who,
sir?" cries the doctor, dropping his pen; and when Booth repeated the
name of Thompson, "Excuse me, sir," cries the doctor hastily, "I shall
not meet him."—"Why so, sir?" answered Booth. "I will not meet him,"
replied the doctor. "Shall I meet a man who pretends to know more than
the whole College, and would overturn the whole method of practice,
which is so well established, and from which no one person hath
pretended to deviate?" "Indeed, sir," cries the apothecary, "you do
not know what you are about, asking your pardon; why, he kills
everybody he comes near." "That is not true," said Mrs. Ellison. "I
have been his patient twice, and I am alive yet." "You have had good
luck, then, madam," answered the apothecary, "for he kills everybody
he comes near." "Nay, I know above a dozen others of my own
acquaintance," replied Mrs. Ellison, "who have all been cured by him."
"That may be, madam," cries Arsenic; "but he kills everybody for all
that—why, madam, did you never hear of Mr. ——? I can't think of the
gentleman's name, though he was a man of great fashion; but everybody
knows whom I mean." "Everybody, indeed, must know whom you mean,"
answered Mrs. Ellison; "for I never heard but of one, and that many
Before the dispute was ended, the doctor himself entered the room. As
he was a very well-bred and very good-natured man, he addressed
himself with much civility to his brother physician, who was not quite
so courteous on his side. However, he suffered the new comer to be
conducted to the sick-bed, and at Booth's earnest request to deliver
The dispute which ensued between the two physicians would, perhaps, be
unintelligible to any but those of the faculty, and not very
entertaining to them. The character which the officer and Mrs. Ellison
had given of the second doctor had greatly prepossessed Booth in his
favour, and indeed his reasoning seemed to be the juster. Booth
therefore declared that he would abide by his advice, upon which the
former operator, with his zany, the apothecary, quitted the field, and
left the other in full possession of the sick.
The first thing the new doctor did was (to use his own phrase) to blow
up the physical magazine. All the powders and potions instantly
disappeared at his command; for he said there was a much readier and
nearer way to convey such stuff to the vault, than by first sending it
through the human body. He then ordered the child to be blooded, gave
it a clyster and some cooling physic, and, in short (that I may not
dwell too long on so unpleasing a part of history), within three days
cured the little patient of her distemper, to the great satisfaction
of Mrs. Ellison, and to the vast joy of Amelia.
Some readers will, perhaps, think this whole chapter might have been
omitted; but though it contains no great matter of amusement, it may
at least serve to inform posterity concerning the present state of
In which Booth pays a visit to the noble lord.
When that day of the week returned in which Mr. Booth chose to walk
abroad, he went to wait on the noble peer, according to his kind
Booth now found a very different reception with this great man's
porter from what he had met with at his friend the colonel's. He no
sooner told his name than the porter with a bow told him his lordship
was at home: the door immediately flew wide open, and he was conducted
to an ante-chamber, where a servant told him he would acquaint his
lordship with his arrival. Nor did he wait many minutes before the
same servant returned and ushered him to his lordship's apartment.
He found my lord alone, and was received by him in the most courteous
manner imaginable. After the first ceremonials were over, his lordship
began in the following words: "Mr. Booth, I do assure you, you are
very much obliged to my cousin Ellison. She hath given you such a
character, that I shall have a pleasure in doing anything in my power
to serve you.—But it will be very difficult, I am afraid, to get you
a rank at home. In the West Indies, perhaps, or in some regiment
abroad, it may be more easy; and, when I consider your reputation as a
soldier, I make no doubt of your readiness to go to any place where
the service of your country shall call you." Booth answered, "That he
was highly obliged to his lordship, and assured him he would with
great chearfulness attend his duty in any part of the world. The only
thing grievous in the exchange of countries," said he, "in my opinion,
is to leave those I love behind me, and I am sure I shall never have a
second trial equal to my first. It was very hard, my lord, to leave a
young wife big with her first child, and so affected with my absence,
that I had the utmost reason to despair of ever seeing her more. After
such a demonstration of my resolution to sacrifice every other
consideration to my duty, I hope your lordship will honour me with
some confidence that I shall make no objection to serve in any
country."—"My dear Mr. Booth," answered the lord, "you speak like a
soldier, and I greatly honour your sentiments. Indeed, I own the
justice of your inference from the example you have given; for to quit
a wife, as you say, in the very infancy of marriage, is, I
acknowledge, some trial of resolution." Booth answered with a low bow;
and then, after some immaterial conversation, his lordship promised to
speak immediately to the minister, and appointed Mr. Booth to come to
him again on the Wednesday morning, that he might be acquainted with
his patron's success. The poor man now blushed and looked silly, till,
after some time, he summoned up all his courage to his assistance, and
relying on the other's friendship, he opened the whole affair of his
circumstances, and confessed that he did not dare stir from his
lodgings above one day in seven. His lordship expressed great concern
at this account, and very kindly promised to take some opportunity of
calling on him at his cousin Ellison's, when he hoped, he said, to
bring him comfortable tidings.
Booth soon afterwards took his leave with the most profuse
acknowledgments for so much goodness, and hastened home to acquaint
his Amelia with what had so greatly overjoyed him. She highly
congratulated him on his having found so generous and powerful a
friend, towards whom both their bosoms burnt with the warmest
sentiments of gratitude. She was not, however, contented till she had
made Booth renew his promise, in the most solemn manner, of taking her
with him. After which they sat down with their little children to a
scrag of mutton and broth, with the highest satisfaction, and very
heartily drank his lordship's health in a pot of porter.
In the afternoon this happy couple, if the reader will allow me to
call poor people happy, drank tea with Mrs. Ellison, where his
lordship's praises, being again repeated by both the husband and wife,
were very loudly echoed by Mrs. Ellison. While they were here, the
young lady whom we have mentioned at the end of the last book to have
made a fourth at whist, and with whom Amelia seemed so much pleased,
came in; she was just returned to town from a short visit in the
country, and her present visit was unexpected. It was, however, very
agreeable to Amelia, who liked her still better upon a second
interview, and was resolved to solicit her further acquaintance.
Mrs. Bennet still maintained some little reserve, but was much more
familiar and communicative than before. She appeared, moreover, to be
as little ceremonious as Mrs. Ellison had reported her, and very
readily accepted Amelia's apology for not paying her the first visit,
and agreed to drink tea with her the very next afternoon.
Whilst the above-mentioned company were sitting in Mrs. Ellison's
parlour, serjeant Atkinson passed by the window and knocked at the
door. Mrs. Ellison no sooner saw him than she said, "Pray, Mr. Booth,
who is that genteel young serjeant? he was here every day last week to
enquire after you." This was indeed a fact; the serjeant was
apprehensive of the design of Murphy; but, as the poor fellow had
received all his answers from the maid of Mrs. Ellison, Booth had
never heard a word of the matter. He was, however, greatly pleased
with what he was now told, and burst forth into great praises of the
serjeant, which were seconded by Amelia, who added that he was her
foster-brother, and, she believed, one of the honestest fellows in the
"And I'll swear," cries Mrs. Ellison, "he is one of the prettiest. Do,
Mr. Booth, desire him to walk in. A serjeant of the guards is a
gentleman; and I had rather give such a man as you describe a dish of
tea than any Beau Fribble of them all."
Booth wanted no great solicitation to shew any kind of regard to
Atkinson; and, accordingly, the serjeant was ushered in, though not
without some reluctance on his side. There is, perhaps, nothing more
uneasy than those sensations which the French call the mauvaise
honte, nor any more difficult to conquer; and poor Atkinson would,
I am persuaded, have mounted a breach with less concern than he shewed
in walking across a room before three ladies, two of whom were his
Though I do not entirely agree with the late learned Mr. Essex, the
celebrated dancing-master's opinion, that dancing is the rudiment of
polite education, as he would, I apprehend, exclude every other art
and science, yet it is certain that persons whose feet have never been
under the hands of the professors of that art are apt to discover this
want in their education in every motion, nay, even when they stand or
sit still. They seem, indeed, to be overburthened with limbs which
they know not how to use, as if, when Nature hath finished her work,
the dancing-master still is necessary to put it in motion.
Atkinson was, at present, an example of this observation which doth so
much honour to a profession for which I have a very high regard. He
was handsome, and exquisitely well made; and yet, as he had never
learnt to dance, he made so awkward an appearance in Mrs. Ellison's
parlour, that the good lady herself, who had invited him in, could at
first scarce refrain from laughter at his behaviour. He had not,
however, been long in the room before admiration of his person got the
better of such risible ideas. So great is the advantage of beauty in
men as well as women, and so sure is this quality in either sex of
procuring some regard from the beholder.
The exceeding courteous behaviour of Mrs. Ellison, joined to that of
Amelia and Booth, at length dissipated the uneasiness of Atkinson; and
he gained sufficient confidence to tell the company some entertaining
stories of accidents that had happened in the army within his
knowledge, which, though they greatly pleased all present, are not,
however, of consequence enough to have a place in this history.
Mrs. Ellison was so very importunate with her company to stay supper
that they all consented. As for the serjeant, he seemed to be none of
the least welcome guests. She was, indeed, so pleased with what she
had heard of him, and what she saw of him, that, when a little warmed
with wine, for she was no flincher at the bottle, she began to indulge
some freedoms in her discourse towards him that a little offended
Amelia's delicacy, nay, they did not seem to be highly relished by the
other lady; though I am far from insinuating that these exceeded the
bounds of decorum, or were, indeed, greater liberties than ladies of
the middle age, and especially widows, do frequently allow to
Relating principally to the affairs of serjeant Atkinson.
The next day, when all the same company, Atkinson only excepted,
assembled in Amelia's apartment, Mrs. Ellison presently began to
discourse of him, and that in terms not only of approbation but even
of affection. She called him her clever serjeant, and her dear
serjeant, repeated often that he was the prettiest fellow in the army,
and said it was a thousand pities he had not a commission; for that,
if he had, she was sure he would become a general.
"I am of your opinion, madam," answered Booth; "and he hath got one
hundred pounds of his own already, if he could find a wife now to help
him to two or three hundred more, I think he might easily get a
commission in a marching regiment; for I am convinced there is no
colonel in the army would refuse him."
"Refuse him, indeed!" said Mrs. Ellison; "no; he would be a very
pretty colonel that did. And, upon my honour, I believe there are very
few ladies who would refuse him, if he had but a proper opportunity of
soliciting them. The colonel and the lady both would be better off
than with one of those pretty masters that I see walking about, and
dragging their long swords after them, when they should rather drag
"Well said," cries Booth, "and spoken like a woman of spirit.—Indeed,
I believe they would be both better served."
"True, captain," answered Mrs. Ellison; "I would rather leave the two
first syllables out of the word gentleman than the last."
"Nay, I assure you," replied Booth, "there is not a quieter creature
in the world. Though the fellow hath the bravery of a lion, he hath
the meekness of a lamb. I can tell you stories enow of that kind, and
so can my dear Amelia, when he was a boy."
"O! if the match sticks there," cries Amelia, "I positively will not
spoil his fortune by my silence. I can answer for him from his
infancy, that he was one of the best-natured lads in the world. I will
tell you a story or two of him, the truth of which I can testify from
my own knowledge. When he was but six years old he was at play with me
at my mother's house, and a great pointer-dog bit him through the leg.
The poor lad, in the midst of the anguish of his wound, declared he
was overjoyed it had not happened to miss (for the same dog had just
before snapt at me, and my petticoats had been my defence).—Another
instance of his goodness, which greatly recommended him to my father,
and which I have loved him for ever since, was this: my father was a
great lover of birds, and strictly forbad the spoiling of their nests.
Poor Joe was one day caught upon a tree, and, being concluded guilty,
was severely lashed for it; but it was afterwards discovered that
another boy, a friend of Joe's, had robbed the nest of its young ones,
and poor Joe had climbed the tree in order to restore them,
notwithstanding which, he submitted to the punishment rather than he
would impeach his companion. But, if these stories appear childish and
trifling, the duty and kindness he hath shewn to his mother must
recommend him to every one. Ever since he hath been fifteen years old
he hath more than half supported her: and when my brother died, I
remember particularly, Joe, at his desire, for he was much his
favourite, had one of his suits given him; but, instead of his
becoming finer on that occasion, another young fellow came to church
in my brother's cloaths, and my old nurse appeared the same Sunday in
a new gown, which her son had purchased for her with the sale of his
"Well, I protest, he is a very worthy creature," said Mrs. Bennet.
"He is a charming fellow," cries Mrs. Ellison—"but then the name of
serjeant, Captain Booth; there, as the play says, my pride brings me
And whatsoever the sages charge on pride,
The angels' fall, and twenty other good faults beside;
On earth I'm sure—I'm sure—something—calling
Pride saves man, and our sex too, from falling.—
Here a footman's rap at the door shook the room. Upon which Mrs.
Ellison, running to the window, cried out, "Let me die if it is not my
lord! what shall I do? I must be at home to him; but suppose he should
enquire for you, captain, what shall I say? or will you go down with
The company were in some confusion at this instant, and before they
had agreed on anything, Booth's little girl came running into the
room, and said, "There was a prodigious great gentleman coming up-
stairs." She was immediately followed by his lordship, who, as he knew
Booth must be at home, made very little or no enquiry at the door.
Amelia was taken somewhat at a surprize, but she was too polite to
shew much confusion; for, though she knew nothing of the town, she had
had a genteel education, and kept the best company the country
afforded. The ceremonies therefore past as usual, and they all sat
His lordship soon addressed himself to Booth, saying, "As I have what
I think good news for you, sir, I could not delay giving myself the
pleasure of communicating it to you. I have mentioned your affair
where I promised you, and I have no doubt of my success. One may
easily perceive, you know, from the manner of people's behaving upon
such occasions; and, indeed, when I related your case, I found there
was much inclination to serve you. Great men, Mr. Booth, must do
things in their own time; but I think you may depend on having
something done very soon."
Booth made many acknowledgments for his lordship's goodness, and now a
second time paid all the thanks which would have been due, even had
the favour been obtained. This art of promising is the economy of a
great man's pride, a sort of good husbandry in conferring favours, by
which they receive tenfold in acknowledgments for every obligation, I
mean among those who really intend the service; for there are others
who cheat poor men of their thanks, without ever designing to deserve
them at all.
This matter being sufficiently discussed, the conversation took a
gayer turn; and my lord began to entertain the ladies with some of
that elegant discourse which, though most delightful to hear, it is
impossible should ever be read.
His lordship was so highly pleased with Amelia, that he could not help
being somewhat particular to her; but this particularity distinguished
itself only in a higher degree of respect, and was so very polite, and
so very distant, that she herself was pleased, and at his departure,
which was not till he had far exceeded the length of a common visit,
declared he was the finest gentleman she had ever seen; with which
sentiment her husband and Mrs. Ellison both entirely concurred.
Mrs. Bennet, on the contrary, exprest some little dislike to my lord's
complaisance, which she called excessive. "For my own part," said she,
"I have not the least relish for those very fine gentlemen; what the
world generally calls politeness, I term insincerity; and I am more
charmed with the stories which Mrs. Booth told us of the honest
serjeant than with all that the finest gentlemen in the world ever
said in their lives!"
"O! to be sure," cries Mrs. Ellison; "All for Love, or the World
well Lost, is a motto very proper for some folks to wear in their
coat of arms; but the generality of the world will, I believe, agree
with that lady's opinion of my cousin, rather than with Mrs. Bennet."
Mrs. Bennet, seeing Mrs. Ellison took offence at what she said,
thought proper to make some apology, which was very readily accepted,
and so ended the visit.
We cannot however put an end to the chapter without observing that
such is the ambitious temper of beauty, that it may always apply to
itself that celebrated passage in Lucan,
Nec quenquam jam ferre potest Caesarve priorem, Pompeiusve
Indeed, I believe, it may be laid down as a general rule, that no
woman who hath any great pretensions to admiration is ever well
pleased in a company where she perceives herself to fill only the
second place. This observation, however, I humbly submit to the
judgment of the ladies, and hope it will be considered as retracted by
me if they shall dissent from my opinion.
Containing matters that require no preface.
When Booth and his wife were left alone together they both extremely
exulted in their good fortune in having found so good a friend as his
lordship; nor were they wanting in very warm expressions of gratitude
towards Mrs. Ellison. After which they began to lay down schemes of
living when Booth should have his commission of captain; and, after
the exactest computation, concluded that, with economy, they should be
able to save at least fifty pounds a-year out of their income in order
to pay their debts.
These matters being well settled, Amelia asked Booth what he thought
of Mrs. Bennet? "I think, my dear," answered Booth, "that she hath
been formerly a very pretty woman." "I am mistaken," replied she, "if
she be not a very good creature. I don't know I ever took such a
liking to any one on so short an acquaintance. I fancy she hath been a
very spritely woman; for, if you observe, she discovers by starts a
great vivacity in her countenance." "I made the same observation,"
cries Booth: "sure some strange misfortune hath befallen her." "A
misfortune, indeed!" answered Amelia; "sure, child, you forget what
Mrs. Ellison told us, that she had lost a beloved husband. A
misfortune which I have often wondered at any woman's surviving." At
which words she cast a tender look at Booth, and presently afterwards,
throwing herself upon his neck, cried, "O, Heavens! what a happy
creature am I! when I consider the dangers you have gone through, how
I exult in my bliss!" The good-natured reader will suppose that Booth
was not deficient in returning such tenderness, after which the
conversation became too fond to be here related.
The next morning Mrs. Ellison addressed herself to Booth as follows:
"I shall make no apology, sir, for what I am going to say, as it
proceeds from my friendship to yourself and your dear lady. I am
convinced then, sir, there is a something more than accident in your
going abroad only one day in the week. Now, sir, if, as I am afraid,
matters are not altogether as well as I wish them, I beg, since I do
not believe you are provided with a lawyer, that you will suffer me to
recommend one to you. The person I shall mention is, I assure you, of
much ability in his profession, and I have known him do great services
to gentlemen under a cloud. Do not be ashamed of your circumstances,
my dear friend: they are a much greater scandal to those who have left
so much merit unprovided for."
Booth gave Mrs. Ellison abundance of thanks for her kindness, and
explicitly confessed to her that her conjectures were right, and,
without hesitation, accepted the offer of her friend's assistance.
Mrs. Ellison then acquainted him with her apprehensions on his
account. She said she had both yesterday and this morning seen two or
three very ugly suspicious fellows pass several times by her window.
"Upon all accounts," said she, "my dear sir, I advise you to keep
yourself close confined till the lawyer hath been with you. I am sure
he will get you your liberty, at least of walking about within the
verge. There's something to be done with the board of green-cloth; I
don't know what; but this I know, that several gentlemen have lived
here a long time very comfortably, and have defied all the vengeance
of their creditors. However, in the mean time, you must be a close
prisoner with your lady; and I believe there is no man in England but
would exchange his liberty for the same gaol."
She then departed in order to send for the attorney, and presently
afterwards the serjeant arrived with news of the like kind. He said he
had scraped an acquaintance with Murphy. "I hope your honour will
pardon me," cries Atkinson, "but I pretended to have a small demand
upon your honour myself, and offered to employ him in the business.
Upon which he told me that, if I would go with him to the Marshal's
court, and make affidavit of my debt, he should be able very shortly
to get it me; for I shall have the captain in hold," cries he,
"within a day or two." "I wish," said the serjeant, "I could do your
honour any service. Shall I walk about all day before the door? or
shall I be porter, and watch it in the inside till your honour can
find some means of securing yourself? I hope you will not be offended
at me, but I beg you would take care of falling into Murphy's hands;
for he hath the character of the greatest villain upon earth. I am
afraid you will think me too bold, sir; but I have a little money; if
it can be of any service, do, pray your honour, command it. It can
never do me so much good any other way. Consider, sir, I owe all I
have to yourself and my dear mistress."
Booth stood a moment, as if he had been thunderstruck, and then, the
tears bursting from his eyes, he said, "Upon my soul, Atkinson, you
overcome me. I scarce ever heard of so—much goodness, nor do I know
how to express my sentiments of it. But, be assured, as for your
money, I will not accept it; and let it satisfy you, that in my
present circumstances it would do me no essential service; but this be
assured of likewise, that whilst I live I shall never forget the
kindness of the offer. However, as I apprehend I may be in some danger
of fellows getting into the house, for a day or two, as I have no
guard but a poor little girl, I will not refuse the goodness you offer
to shew in my protection. And I make no doubt but Mrs. Ellison will
let you sit in her parlour for that purpose."
Atkinson, with the utmost readiness, undertook the office of porter;
and Mrs. Ellison as readily allotted him a place in her back-parlour,
where he continued three days together, from eight in the morning till
twelve at night; during which time, he had sometimes the company of
Mrs. Ellison, and sometimes of Booth, Amelia, and Mrs. Bennet too; for
this last had taken as great a fancy to Amelia as Amelia had to her,
and, therefore, as Mr. Booth's affairs were now no secret in the
neighbourhood, made her frequent visits during the confinement of her
husband, and consequently her own.
Nothing, as I remember, happened in this interval of time, more worthy
notice than the following card which Amelia received from her old
acquaintance Mrs. James:—"Mrs. James sends her compliments to Mrs.
Booth, and desires to know how she does; for, as she hath not had the
favour of seeing her at her own house, or of meeting her in any public
place, in so long time, fears it may be owing to ill health."
Amelia had long given over all thoughts of her friend, and doubted not
but that she was as entirely given over by her; she was very much
surprized at this message, and under some doubt whether it was not
meant as an insult, especially from the mention of public places,
which she thought so inconsistent with her present circumstances, of
which she supposed Mrs. James was well apprized. However, at the
entreaty of her husband, who languished for nothing more than to be
again reconciled to his friend James, Amelia undertook to pay the lady
a visit, and to examine into the mystery of this conduct, which
appeared to her so unaccountable.
Mrs. James received her with a degree of civility that amazed Amelia
no less than her coldness had done before. She resolved to come to an
eclaircissement, and, having sat out some company that came in, when
they were alone together Amelia, after some silence and many offers to
speak, at last said, "My dear Jenny (if you will now suffer me to call
you by so familiar a name), have you entirely forgot a certain young
lady who had the pleasure of being your intimate acquaintance at
Montpelier?" "Whom do you mean, dear madam?" cries Mrs. James with
great concern. "I mean myself," answered Amelia. "You surprize me,
madam," replied Mrs. James: "how can you ask me that question?" "Nay,
my dear, I do not intend to offend you," cries Amelia, "but I am
really desirous to solve to myself the reason of that coldness which
you shewed me when you did me the favour of a visit. Can you think, my
dear, I was not disappointed, when I expected to meet an intimate
friend, to receive a cold formal visitant? I desire you to examine
your own heart and answer me honestly if you do not think I had some
little reason to be dissatisfied with your behaviour?" "Indeed, Mrs.
Booth," answered the other lady, "you surprize me very much; if there
was anything displeasing to you in my behaviour I am extremely
concerned at it. I did not know I had been defective in any of the
rules of civility, but if I was, madam, I ask your pardon." "Is
civility, then, my dear," replied Amelia, "a synonymous term with
friendship? Could I have expected, when I parted the last time with
Miss Jenny Bath, to have met her the next time in the shape of a fine
lady, complaining of the hardship of climbing up two pair of stairs to
visit me, and then approaching me with the distant air of a new or a
slight acquaintance? Do you think, my dear Mrs. James, if the tables
had been turned, if my fortune had been as high in the world as yours,
and you in my distress and abject condition, that I would not have
climbed as high as the monument to visit you?" "Sure, madam," cried
Mrs. James, "I mistake you, or you have greatly mistaken me. Can you
complain of my not visiting you, who have owed me a visit almost these
three weeks? Nay, did I not even then send you a card, which sure was
doing more than all the friendship and good-breeding in the world
required; but, indeed, as I had met you in no public place, I really
thought you was ill."
"How can you mention public places to me," said Amelia, "when you can
hardly be a stranger to my present situation? Did you not know, madam,
that I was ruined?" "No, indeed, madam, did I not," replied Mrs.
James; "I am sure I should have been highly concerned if! had." "Why,
sure, my dear," cries Amelia, "you could not imagine that we were in
affluent circumstances, when you found us in such a place, and in such
a condition." "Nay, my dear," answered Mrs. James, "since you are
pleased to mention it first yourself, I own I was a little surprized
to see you in no better lodgings; but I concluded you had your own
reasons for liking them; and, for my own part, I have laid it down as
a positive rule never to enquire into the private affairs of any one,
especially of my friends. I am not of the humour of some ladies, who
confine the circle of their acquaintance to one part of the town, and
would not be known to visit in the city for the world. For my part, I
never dropt an acquaintance with any one while it was reputable to
keep it up; and I can solemnly declare I have not a friend in the
world for whom I have a greater esteem than I have for Mrs. Booth."
At this instant the arrival of a new visitant put an end to the
discourse; and Amelia soon after took her leave without the least
anger, but with some little unavoidable contempt for a lady, in whose
opinion, as we have hinted before, outward form and ceremony
constituted the whole essence of friendship; who valued all her
acquaintance alike, as each individual served equally to fill up a
place in her visiting roll; and who, in reality, had not the least
concern for the good qualities or well-being of any of them.
Containing much heroic matter.
At the end of three days Mrs. Ellison's friend had so far purchased
Mr. Booth's liberty that he could walk again abroad within the verge
without any danger of having a warrant backed against him by the board
before he had notice. As for the ill-looked persons that had given the
alarm, it was now discovered that another unhappy gentleman, and not
Booth, was the object of their pursuit.
Mr. Booth, now being delivered from his fears, went, as he had
formerly done, to take his morning walk in the Park. Here he met
Colonel Bath in company with some other officers, and very civilly
paid his respects to him. But, instead of returning the salute, the
colonel looked him full in the face with a very stern countenance;
and, if he could be said to take any notice of him, it was in such a
manner as to inform him he would take no notice of him.
Booth was not more hurt than surprized at this behaviour, and resolved
to know the reason of it. He therefore watched an opportunity till the
colonel was alone, and then walked boldly up to him, and desired to
know if he had given him any offence? The colonel answered hastily,
"Sir, I am above being offended with you, nor do I think it consistent
with my dignity to make you any answer." Booth replied, "I don't know,
sir, that I have done anything to deserve this treatment." "Look'ee,
sir," cries the colonel, "if I had not formerly had some respect for
you, I should not think you worth my resentment. However, as you are a
gentleman born, and an officer, and as I have had an esteem for you, I
will give you some marks of it by putting it in your power to do
yourself justice. I will tell you therefore, sir, that you have acted
like a scoundrel." "If we were not in the Park," answered Booth
warmly, "I would thank you very properly for that compliment." "O,
sir," cries the colonel, "we can be soon in a convenient place." Upon
which Booth answered, he would attend him wherever he pleased. The
colonel then bid him come along, and strutted forward directly up
Constitution-hill to Hyde-park, Booth following him at first, and
afterwards walking before him, till they came to that place which may
be properly called the field of blood, being that part, a little to
the left of the ring, which heroes have chosen for the scene of their
exit out of this world.
Booth reached the ring some time before the colonel; for he mended not
his pace any more than a Spaniard. To say truth, I believe it was not
in his power: for he had so long accustomed himself to one and the
same strut, that as a horse, used always to trotting, can scarce be
forced into a gallop, so could no passion force the colonel to alter
[Illustration with caption: Colonel Bath.]
At length, however, both parties arrived at the lists, where the
colonel very deliberately took off his wig and coat, and laid them on
the grass, and then, drawing his sword, advanced to Booth, who had
likewise his drawn weapon in his hand, but had made no other
preparation for the combat.
The combatants now engaged with great fury, and, after two or three
passes, Booth run the colonel through the body and threw him on the
ground, at the same time possessing himself of the colonel's sword.
As soon as the colonel was become master of his speech, he called out
to Booth in a very kind voice, and said, "You have done my business,
and satisfied me that you are a man of honour, and that my brother
James must have been mistaken; for I am convinced that no man who will
draw his sword in so gallant a manner is capable of being a rascal.
D—n me, give me a buss, my dear boy; I ask your pardon for that
infamous appellation I dishonoured your dignity with; but d—n me if
it was not purely out of love, and to give you an opportunity of doing
yourself justice, which I own you have done like a man of honour. What
may be the consequence I know not, but I hope, at least, I shall live
to reconcile you with my brother."
Booth shewed great concern, and even horror in his countenance. "Why,
my dear colonel," said he, "would you force me to this? for Heaven's
sake tell me what I have ever done to offend you."
"Me!" cried the colonel. "Indeed, my dear child, you never did
anything to offend me.—Nay, I have acted the part of a friend to you
in the whole affair. I maintained your cause with my brother as long
as decency would permit; I could not flatly contradict him, though,
indeed, I scarce believed him. But what could I do? If I had not
fought with you, I must have been obliged to have fought with him;
however, I hope what is done will be sufficient, and that matters may
be discomodated without your being put to the necessity of fighting
any more on this occasion."
"Never regard me," cried Booth eagerly; "for Heaven's sake, think of
your own preservation. Let me put you into a chair, and get you a
"Thou art a noble lad," cries the colonel, who was now got on his
legs, "and I am glad the business is so well over; for, though your
sword went quite through, it slanted so that I apprehend there is
little danger of life: however, I think there is enough done to put an
honourable end to the affair, especially as you was so hasty to disarm
me. I bleed a little, but I can walk to the house by the water; and,
if you will send me a chair thither, I shall be obliged to you."
As the colonel refused any assistance (indeed he was very able to walk
without it, though with somewhat less dignity than usual), Booth set
forward to Grosvenor-gate, in order to procure the chair, and soon
after returned with one to his friend; whom having conveyed into it,
he attended himself on foot into Bond-street, where then lived a very
The surgeon having probed the wound, turned towards Booth, who was
apparently the guilty person, and said, with a smile, "Upon my word,
sir, you have performed the business with great dexterity."
"Sir," cries the colonel to the surgeon, "I would not have you imagine
I am afraid to die. I think I know more what belongs to the dignity of
a man; and, I believe, I have shewn it at the head of a line of
battle. Do not impute my concern to that fear, when I ask you whether
there is or is not any danger?"
"Really, colonel," answered the surgeon, who well knew the complexion
of the gentleman then under his hands, "it would appear like
presumption to say that a man who hath been just run through the body
is in no manner of danger. But this I think I may assure you, that I
yet perceive no very bad symptoms, and, unless something worse should
appear, or a fever be the consequence, I hope you may live to be
again, with all your dignity, at the head of a line of battle."
"I am glad to hear that is your opinion," quoth the colonel, "for I am
not desirous of dying, though I am not afraid of it. But, if anything
worse than you apprehend should happen, I desire you will be a witness
of my declaration that this young gentleman is entirely innocent. I
forced him to do what he did. My dear Booth, I am pleased matters are
as they are. You are the first man that ever gained an advantage over
me; but it was very lucky for you that you disarmed me, and I doubt
not but you have the equananimity to think so. If the business,
therefore, hath ended without doing anything to the purpose, it was
Fortune's pleasure, and neither of our faults."
Booth heartily embraced the colonel, and assured him of the great
satisfaction he had received from the surgeon's opinion; and soon
after the two combatants took their leave of each other. The colonel,
after he was drest, went in a chair to his lodgings, and Booth walked
on foot to his; where he luckily arrived without meeting any of Mr.
Murphy's gang; a danger which never once occurred to his imagination
till he was out of it.
The affair he had been about had indeed so entirely occupied his mind,
that it had obliterated every other idea; among the rest, it caused
him so absolutely to forget the time of the day, that, though he had
exceeded the time of dining above two hours, he had not the least
suspicion of being at home later than usual.
In which the reader will find matter worthy his consideration.
Amelia, having waited above an hour for her husband, concluded, as he
was the most punctual man alive, that he had met with some engagement
abroad, and sat down to her meal with her children; which, as it was
always uncomfortable in the absence of her husband, was very short; so
that, before his return, all the apparatus of dining was entirely
Booth sat some time with his wife, expecting every minute when the
little maid would make her appearance; at last, curiosity, I believe,
rather than appetite, made him ask how long it was to dinner? "To
dinner, my dear!" answered Amelia; "sure you have dined, I hope?"
Booth replied in the negative; upon which his wife started from her
chair, and bestirred herself as nimbly to provide him a repast as the
most industrious hostess in the kingdom doth when some unexpected
guest of extraordinary quality arrives at her house.
The reader hath not, I think, from any passages hitherto recorded in
this history, had much reason to accuse Amelia of a blameable
curiosity; he will not, I hope, conclude that she gave an instance of
any such fault when, upon Booth's having so long overstayed his time,
and so greatly mistaken the hour of the day, and upon some other
circumstances of his behaviour (for he was too honest to be good at
concealing any of his thoughts), she said to him after he had done
eating, "My dear, I am sure something more than ordinary hath happened
to-day, and I beg you will tell me what is."
Booth answered that nothing of any consequence had happened; that he
had been detained by a friend, whom he met accidently, longer than he
expected. In short, he made many shuffling and evasive answers, not
boldly lying out, which, perhaps, would have succeeded, but poorly and
vainly endeavouring to reconcile falsehood with truth; an attempt
which seldom fails to betray the most practised deceiver.
How impossible was it therefore for poor Booth to succeed in an art
for which nature had so entirely disqualified him. His countenance,
indeed, confessed faster than his tongue denied, and the whole of his
behaviour gave Amelia an alarm, and made her suspect something very
bad had happened; and, as her thoughts turned presently on the badness
of their circumstances, she feared some mischief from his creditors
had befallen him; for she was too ignorant of such matters to know
that, if he had fallen into the hands of the Philistines (which is the
name given by the faithful to bailiffs), he would hardly have been
able so soon to recover his liberty. Booth at last perceived her to be
so uneasy, that, as he saw no hopes of contriving any fiction to
satisfy her, he thought himself obliged to tell her the truth, or at
least part of the truth, and confessed that he had had a little
skirmish with Colonel Bath, in which, he said, the colonel had
received a slight wound, not at all dangerous; "and this," says he,
"is all the whole matter." "If it be so," cries Amelia, "I thank
Heaven no worse hath happened; but why, my dear, will you ever
converse with that madman, who can embrace a friend one moment, and
fight with him the next?" "Nay, my dear," answered Booth, "you
yourself must confess, though he be a little too much on the qui
vive, he is a man of great honour and good-nature." "Tell me not,"
replied she, "of such good-nature and honour as would sacrifice a
friend and a whole family to a ridiculous whim. Oh, Heavens!" cried
she, falling upon her knees, "from what misery have I escaped, from
what have these poor babes escaped, through your gracious providence
this day!" Then turning to her husband, she cried, "But are you sure
the monster's wound is no more dangerous than you say? a monster
surely I may call him, who can quarrel with a man that could not, that
I am convinced would not, offend him."
Upon this question, Booth repeated the assurances which the surgeon
had given them, perhaps with a little enlargement, which pretty well
satisfied Amelia; and instead of blaming her husband for what he had
done, she tenderly embraced him, and again returned thanks to Heaven
for his safety.
In the evening Booth insisted on paying a short visit to the colonel,
highly against the inclination of Amelia, who, by many arguments and
entreaties, endeavoured to dissuade her husband from continuing an
acquaintance in which, she said, she should always foresee much danger
for the future. However, she was at last prevailed upon to acquiesce;
and Booth went to the colonel, whose lodgings happened to be in the
verge as well as his own.
He found the colonel in his night-gown, and his great chair, engaged
with another officer at a game of chess. He rose immediately, and,
having heartily embraced Booth, presented him to his friend, saying,
he had the honour to introduce to him as brave and as fortitudinous
a man as any in the king's dominions. He then took Booth with him into
the next room, and desired him not to mention a word of what had
happened in the morning; saying, "I am very well satisfied that no
more hath happened; however, as it ended in nothing, I could wish it
might remain a secret." Booth told him he was heartily glad to find
him so well, and promised never to mention it more to any one.
The game at chess being but just begun, and neither of the parties
having gained any considerable advantage, they neither of them
insisted on continuing it; and now the colonel's antagonist took his
leave and left the colonel and Booth together.
As soon as they were alone, the latter earnestly entreated the former
to acquaint him with the real cause of his anger; "for may I perish,"
cries Booth, "if I can even guess what I have ever done to offend
either you, or your brother. Colonel James."
"Look'ee, child," cries the colonel; "I tell you I am for my own part
satisfied; for I am convinced that a man who will fight can never be a
rascal; and, therefore, why should you enquire any more of me at
present? when I see my brother James, I hope to reconcile all matters,
and perhaps no more swords need be drawn on this occasion." But Booth
still persisting in his desire, the colonel, after some hesitation,
with a tremendous oath, cried out, "I do not think myself at liberty
to refuse you after the indignity I offered you; so, since you demand
it of me, I will inform you. My brother told me you had used him
dishonourably, and had divellicated his character behind his back. He
gave me his word, too, that he was well assured of what he said. What
could I have done? though I own to you I did not believe him, and your
behaviour since hath convinced me I was in the right; I must either
have given him the lye, and fought with him, or else I was obliged to
behave as I did, and fight with you. And now, my lad, I leave it to
you to do as you please; but, if you are laid under any necessity to
do yourself further justice, it is your own fault."
"Alas! colonel," answered Booth, "besides the obligations I have to
the colonel, I have really so much love for him, that I think of
nothing less than resentment. All I wish is to have this affair
brought to an eclaircissement, and to satisfy him that he is in an
error; for, though his assertions are cruelly injurious, and I have
never deserved them, yet I am convinced he would not say what he did
not himself think. Some rascal, envious of his friendship for me, hath
belyed me to him; and the only resentment I desire is, to convince him
of his mistake."
At these words the colonel grinned horribly a ghastly smile, or rather
sneer, and answered, "Young gentleman, you may do as you please; but,
by the eternal dignity of man, if any man breathing had taken a
liberty with my character—Here, here—Mr. Booth (shewing his
fingers), here d—n me, should be his nostrils; he should breathe
through my hands, and breathe his last, d—n me."
Booth answered, "I think, colonel, I may appeal to your testimony that
I dare do myself justice; since he who dare draw his sword against you
can hardly be supposed to fear any other person; but I repeat to you
again that I love Colonel James so well, and am so greatly obliged to
him, that it would be almost indifferent to me whether I directed my
sword against his breast or my own."
The colonel's muscles were considerably softened by Booth's last
speech; but he again contracted them into a vast degree of fierceness
before he cried out—"Boy, thou hast reason enough to be vain; for
thou art the first person that ever could proudly say he gained an
advantage over me in combat. I believe, indeed, thou art not afraid of
any man breathing, and, as I know thou hast some obligations to my
brother, I do not discommend thee; for nothing more becomes the
dignity of a man than gratitude. Besides, as I am satisfied my brother
can produce the author of the slander—I say, I am satisfied of that—
d—n me, if any man alive dares assert the contrary; for that would be
to make my brother himself a liar—I will make him produce his author;
and then, my dear boy, your doing yourself proper justice there will
bring you finely out of the whole affair. As soon as my surgeon gives
me leave to go abroad, which, I hope, will be in a few days, I will
bring my brother James to a tavern where you shall meet us; and I will
engage my honour, my whole dignity to you, to make you friends."
The assurance of the colonel gave Booth great pleasure; for few
persons ever loved a friend better than he did James; and as for doing
military justice on the author of that scandalous report which had
incensed his friend against him, not Bath himself was ever more ready,
on such an occasion, than Booth to execute it. He soon after took his
leave, and returned home in high spirits to his Amelia, whom he found
in Mrs. Ellison's apartment, engaged in a party at ombre with that
lady and her right honourable cousin.
His lordship had, it seems, had a second interview with the great man,
and, having obtained further hopes (for I think there was not yet an
absolute promise) of success in Mr. Booth's affairs, his usual good-
nature brought him immediately to acquaint Mr. Booth with it. As he
did not therefore find him at home, and as he met with the two ladies
together, he resolved to stay till his friend's return, which he was
assured would not be long, especially as he was so lucky, he said, to
have no particular engagement that whole evening.
We remarked before that his lordship, at the first interview with
Amelia, had distinguished her by a more particular address from the
other ladies; but that now appeared to be rather owing to his perfect
good-breeding, as she was then to be considered as the mistress of the
house, than from any other preference. His present behaviour made this
still more manifest; for, as he was now in Mrs. Ellison's apartment,
though she was his relation and an old acquaintance, he applied his
conversation rather more to her than to Amelia. His eyes, indeed, were
now and then guilty of the contrary distinction, but this was only by
stealth; for they constantly withdrew the moment they were discovered.
In short, he treated Amelia with the greatest distance, and at the
same time with the most profound and awful respect; his conversation
was so general, so lively, and so obliging, that Amelia, when she
added to his agreeableness the obligations she had to him for his
friendship to Booth, was certainly as much pleased with his lordship
as any virtuous woman can possibly be with any man, besides her own
Containing various matters.
We have already mentioned the good-humour in which Booth returned
home; and the reader will easily believe it was not a little encreased
by the good-humour in which he found his company. My lord received him
with the utmost marks of friendship and affection, and told him that
his affairs went on as well almost as he himself could desire, and
that he doubted not very soon to wish him joy of a company.
When Booth had made a proper return to all his lordship's unparalleled
goodness, he whispered Amelia that the colonel was entirely out of
danger, and almost as well as himself. This made her satisfaction
complete, threw her into such spirits, and gave such a lustre to her
eyes, that her face, as Horace says, was too dazzling to be looked at;
it was certainly too handsome to be looked at without the highest
His lordship departed about ten o'clock, and left the company in
raptures with him, especially the two ladies, of whom it is difficult
to say which exceeded the other in his commendations. Mrs. Ellison
swore she believed he was the best of all humankind; and Amelia,
without making any exception, declared he was the finest gentleman and
most agreeable man she had ever seen in her life; adding, it was great
pity he should remain single. "That's true, indeed," cries Mrs.
Ellison, "and I have often lamented it; nay, I am astonished at it,
considering the great liking he always shews for our sex, and he may
certainly have the choice of all. The real reason, I believe, is, his
fondness for his sister's children. I declare, madam, if you was to
see his behaviour to them, you would think they were his own. Indeed
he is vastly fond of all manner of children." "Good creature!" cries
Amelia; "if ever he doth me the honour of another visit I am resolved
I will shew him my little things. I think, Mrs. Ellison, as you say my
lord loves children, I may say, without vanity, he will not see many
such." "No, indeed, will he not," answered Mrs. Ellison: "and now I
think on't, madam, I wonder at my own stupidity in never making the
offer before; but since you put it into my head, if you will give me
leave, I'll take master and miss to wait on my lord's nephew and
niece. They are very pretty behaved children; and little master and
miss will be, I dare swear, very happy in their acquaintance; besides,
if my lord himself should see them, I know what will happen; for he is
the most generous of all human beings."
Amelia very readily accepted the favour which Mrs. Ellison offered
her; but Booth exprest some reluctance. "Upon my word, my dear," said
he, with a smile, "this behaviour of ours puts me in mind of the
common conduct of beggars; who, whenever they receive a favour, are
sure to send other objects to the same fountain of charity. Don't we,
my dear, repay our obligations to my lord in the same manner, by
sending our children a begging to him?"
"O beastly!" cries Mrs. Ellison; "how could such a thought enter your
brains? I protest, madam, I begin to grow ashamed of this husband of
yours. How can you have so vulgar a way of thinking? Begging, indeed!
the poor little dear things a begging! If my lord was capable of such
a thought, though he was my own brother instead of my cousin, I should
scorn him too much ever to enter his doors." "O dear madam!" answered
Amelia, "you take Mr. Booth too seriously, when he was only in jest;
and the children shall wait upon you whenever you please."
Though Booth had been a little more in earnest than Amelia had
represented him, and was not, perhaps, quite so much in the wrong as
he was considered by Mrs. Ellison, yet, seeing there were two to one
against him, he wisely thought proper to recede, and let his simile go
off with that air of a jest which his wife had given it.
Mrs. Ellison, however, could not let it pass without paying some
compliments to Amelia's understanding, nor without some obscure
reflexions upon Booth, with whom she was more offended than the matter
required. She was indeed a woman of most profuse generosity, and could
not bear a thought which she deemed vulgar or sneaking. She afterwards
launched forth the most profuse encomiums of his lordship's
liberality, and concluded the evening with some instances which he had
given of that virtue which, if not the noblest, is, perhaps, one of
the most useful to society with which great and rich men can be
The next morning early, serjeant Atkinson came to wait on lieutenant
Booth, and desired to speak with his honour in private. Upon which the
lieutenant and serjeant took a walk together in the Park. Booth
expected every minute when the serjeant would open his mouth; under
which expectation he continued till he came to the end of the mall,
and so he might have continued till he came to the end of the world;
for, though several words stood at the end of the serjeant's lips,
there they were likely to remain for ever. He was, indeed, in the
condition of a miser, whom a charitable impulse hath impelled to draw
a few pence to the edge of his pocket, where they are altogether as
secure as if they were in the bottom; for, as the one hath not the
heart to part with a farthing, so neither had the other the heart to
speak a word.
Booth at length, wondering that the serjeant did not speak, asked him,
What his business was? when the latter with a stammering voice began
the following apology: "I hope, sir, your honour will not be angry,
nor take anything amiss of me. I do assure you, it was not of my
seeking, nay, I dare not proceed in the matter without first asking
your leave. Indeed, if I had taken any liberties from the goodness you
have been pleased to shew me, I should look upon myself as one of the
most worthless and despicable of wretches; but nothing is farther from
my thoughts. I know the distance which is between us; and, because
your honour hath been so kind and good as to treat me with more
familiarity than any other officer ever did, if I had been base enough
to take any freedoms, or to encroach upon your honour's goodness, I
should deserve to be whipt through the regiment. I hope, therefore,
sir, you will not suspect me of any such attempt."
"What can all this mean, Atkinson?" cries Booth; "what mighty matter
would you introduce with all this previous apology?"
"I am almost ashamed and afraid to mention it," answered the serjeant;
"and yet I am sure your honour will believe what I have said, and not
think anything owing to my own presumption; and, at the same time, I
have no reason to think you would do anything to spoil my fortune in
an honest way, when it is dropt into my lap without my own seeking.
For may I perish if it is not all the lady's own goodness, and I hope
in Heaven, with your honour's leave, I shall live to make her amends
for it." In a word, that we may not detain the reader's curiosity
quite so long as he did Booth's, he acquainted that gentleman that he
had had an offer of marriage from a lady of his acquaintance, to whose
company he had introduced him, and desired his permission to accept of
Booth must have been very dull indeed if, after what the serjeant had
said, and after what he had heard Mrs. Ellison say, he had wanted any
information concerning the lady. He answered him briskly and
chearfully, that he had his free consent to marry any woman whatever;
"and the greater and richer she is," added he, "the more I shall be
pleased with the match. I don't enquire who the lady is," said he,
smiling, "but I hope she will make as good a wife as, I am convinced,
her husband will deserve."
"Your honour hath been always too good to me," cries Atkinson; "but
this I promise you, I will do all in my power to merit the kindness
she is pleased to shew me. I will be bold to say she will marry an
honest man, though he is but a poor one; and she shall never want
anything which I can give her or do for her, while my name is Joseph
"And so her name is a secret, Joe, is it?" cries Booth.
"Why, sir," answered the serjeant, "I hope your honour will not insist
upon knowing that, as I think it would be dishonourable in me to
"Not at all," replied Booth; "I am the farthest in the world from any
such desire. I know thee better than to imagine thou wouldst disclose
the name of a fair lady." Booth then shook Atkinson heartily by the
hand, and assured him earnestly of the joy he had in his good fortune;
for which the good serjeant failed not of making all proper
acknowledgments. After which they parted, and Booth returned home.
As Mrs. Ellison opened the door, Booth hastily rushed by; for he had
the utmost difficulty to prevent laughing in her face. He ran directly
up-stairs, and, throwing himself into a chair, discharged such a fit
of laughter as greatly surprized, and at first almost frightened, his
Amelia, it will be supposed, presently enquired into the cause of this
phenomenon, with which Booth, as soon as he was able (for that was not
within a few minutes), acquainted her. The news did not affect her in
the same manner it had affected her husband. On the contrary, she
cried, "I protest I cannot guess what makes you see it in so
ridiculous a light. I really think Mrs. Ellison hath chosen very well.
I am convinced Joe will make her one of the best of husbands; and, in
my opinion, that is the greatest blessing a woman can be possessed
However, when Mrs. Ellison came into her room a little while
afterwards to fetch the children, Amelia became of a more risible
disposition, especially when the former, turning to Booth, who was
then present, said, "So, captain, my jantee-serjeant was very early
here this morning. I scolded my maid heartily for letting him wait so
long in the entry like a lacquais, when she might have shewn him into
my inner apartment." At which words Booth burst out into a very loud
laugh; and Amelia herself could no more prevent laughing than she
"Heyday!" cries Mrs. Ellison; "what have I said to cause all this
mirth?" and at the same time blushed, and looked very silly, as is
always the case with persons who suspect themselves to be the objects
of laughter, without absolutely taking what it is which makes them
Booth still continued laughing; but Amelia, composing her muscles,
said, "I ask your pardon, dear Mrs. Ellison; but Mr. Booth hath been
in a strange giggling humour all this morning; and I really think it
"I ask your pardon, too, madam," cries Booth, "but one is sometimes
"Nay, but seriously," said she, "what is the matter?—something I said
about the serjeant, I believe; but you may laugh as much as you
please; I am not ashamed of owning I think him one of the prettiest
fellows I ever saw in my life; and, I own, I scolded my maid at
suffering him to wait in my entry; and where is the mighty ridiculous
"None at all," answered Booth; "and I hope the next time he will be
ushered into your inner apartment."
"Why should he not, sir?" replied she, "for, wherever he is ushered, I
am convinced he will behave himself as a gentleman should."
Here Amelia put an end to the discourse, or it might have proceeded to
very great lengths; for Booth was of a waggish inclination, and Mrs.
Ellison was not a lady of the nicest delicacy.
The heroic behaviour of Colonel Bath.
Booth went this morning to pay a second visit to the colonel, where he
found Colonel James. Both the colonel and the lieutenant appeared a
little shocked at their first meeting, but matters were soon cleared
up; for the former presently advanced to the latter, shook him
heartily by the hand, and said, "Mr. Booth, I am ashamed to see you;
for I have injured you, and I heartily ask your pardon. I am now
perfectly convinced that what I hinted to my brother, and which I find
had like to have produced such fatal consequences, was entirely
groundless. If you will be contented with my asking your pardon, and
spare me the disagreeable remembrance of what led me into my error, I
shall esteem it as the highest obligation."
Booth answered, "As to what regards yourself, my dear colonel, I am
abundantly satisfied; but, as I am convinced some rascal hath been my
enemy with you in the cruellest manner, I hope you will not deny me
the opportunity of kicking him through the world."
"By all the dignity of man," cries Colonel Bath, "the boy speaks with
spirit, and his request is reasonable."
Colonel James hesitated a moment, and then whispered Booth that he
would give him all the satisfaction imaginable concerning the whole
affair when they were alone together; upon which, Booth addressing
himself to Colonel Bath, the discourse turned on other matters during
the remainder of the visit, which was but short, and then both went
away together, leaving Colonel Bath as well as it was possible to
expect, more to the satisfaction of Booth than of Colonel James, who
would not have been displeased if his wound had been more dangerous;
for he was grown somewhat weary of a disposition that he rather called
captious than heroic, and which, as he every day more and more hated
his wife, he apprehended might some time or other give him some
trouble; for Bath was the most affectionate of brothers, and had often
swore, in the presence of James, that he would eat any man alive who
should use his sister ill.
Colonel Bath was well satisfied that his brother and the lieutenant
were gone out with a design of tilting, from which he offered not a
syllable to dissuade them, as he was convinced it was right, and that
Booth could not in honour take, nor the colonel give, any less
satisfaction. When they had been gone therefore about half an hour, he
rang his bell to enquire if there was any news of his brother; a
question which he repeated every ten minutes for the space of two
hours, when, having heard nothing of him, he began to conclude that
both were killed on the spot.
While he was in this state of anxiety his sister came to see him; for,
notwithstanding his desire of keeping it a secret, the duel had blazed
all over the town. After receiving some kind congratulations on his
safety, and some unkind hints concerning the warmth of his temper, the
colonel asked her when she had seen her husband? she answered not that
morning. He then communicated to her his suspicion, told her he was
convinced his brother had drawn his sword that day, and that, as
neither of them had heard anything from him, he began to apprehend the
worst that could happen.
Neither Miss Bellamy nor Mrs. Gibber were ever in a greater
consternation on the stage than now appeared in the countenance of
Mrs. James. "Good Heavens! brother," cries she; "what do you tell me?
you have frightened me to death. Let your man get me a glass of water
immediately, if you have not a mind to see me die before your face.
When, where, how was this quarrel? why did you not prevent it if you
knew of it? is it not enough to be every day tormenting me with
hazarding your own life, but must you bring the life of one who you
know must be, and ought to be, so much the dearest of all to me, into
danger? take your sword, brother, take your sword, and plunge it into
my bosom; it would be kinder of you than to fill it with such dreads
and terrors." Here she swallowed the glass of water, and then threw
herself back in her chair, as if she had intended to faint away.
Perhaps, if she had so, the colonel would have lent her no assistance,
for she had hurt him more than by ten thousand stabs. He sat erect in
his chair, with his eyebrows knit, his forehead wrinkled, his eyes
flashing fire, his teeth grating against each other, and breathing
horrour all round him. In this posture he sat for some time silent,
casting disdainful looks at his sister. At last his voice found its
way through a passion which had almost choaked him, and he cried out,
"Sister, what have I done to deserve the opinion you express of me?
which of my actions hath made you conclude that I am a rascal and a
coward? look at that poor sword, which never woman yet saw but in its
sheath; what hath that done to merit your desire that it should be
contaminated with the blood of a woman?"
"Alas! brother," cried she, "I know not what you say; you are
desirous, I believe, to terrify me out of the little senses I have
left. What can I have said, in the agonies of grief into which you
threw me, to deserve this passion?"
"What have you said?" answered the colonel: "you have said that which,
if a man had spoken, nay, d—n me, if he had but hinted that he durst
even think, I would have made him eat my sword; by all the dignity of
man, I would have crumbled his soul into powder. But I consider that
the words were spoken by a woman, and I am calm again. Consider, my
dear, that you are my sister, and behave yourself with more spirit. I
have only mentioned to you my surmise. It may not have happened as I
suspect; but, let what will have happened, you will have the comfort
that your husband hath behaved himself with becoming dignity, and lies
in the bed of honour."
"Talk not to me of such comfort," replied the lady; "it is a loss I
cannot survive. But why do I sit here lamenting myself? I will go this
instant and know the worst of my fate, if my trembling limbs will
carry me to my coach. Good morrow, dear brother; whatever becomes of
me, I am glad to find you out of danger." The colonel paid her his
proper compliments, and she then left the room, but returned instantly
back, saying, "Brother, I must beg the favour of you to let your
footman step to my mantua-maker; I am sure it is a miracle, in my
present distracted condition, how it came into my head." The footman
was presently summoned, and Mrs. James delivered him his message,
which was to countermand the orders which she had given that very
morning to make her up a new suit of brocade. "Heaven knows," says
she, "now when I can wear brocade, or whether ever I shall wear it."
And now, having repeated her message with great exactness, lest there
should be any mistake, she again lamented her wretched situation, and
then departed, leaving the colonel in full expectation of hearing
speedy news of the fatal issue of the battle.
But, though the reader should entertain the same curiosity, we must be
excused from satisfying it till we have first accounted for an
incident which we have related in this very chapter, and which, we
think, deserves some solution. The critic, I am convinced, already is
apprized that I mean the friendly behaviour of James to Booth, which,
from what we had before recorded, seemed so little to be expected.
It must be remembered that the anger which the former of these
gentlemen had conceived against the latter arose entirely from the
false account given by Miss Matthews of Booth, whom that lady had
accused to Colonel James of having as basely as wickedly traduced his
Now, of all the ministers of vengeance, there are none with whom the
devil deals so treacherously as with those whom he employs in
executing the mischievous purposes of an angry mistress; for no sooner
is revenge executed on an offending lover that it is sure to be
repented; and all the anger which before raged against the beloved
object, returns with double fury on the head of his assassin.
Miss Matthews, therefore, no, sooner heard that Booth was killed (for
so was the report at first, and by a colonel of the army) than she
immediately concluded it to be James. She was extremely shocked with
the news, and her heart instantly began to relent. All the reasons on
which she had founded her love recurred, in the strongest and
liveliest colours, to her mind, and all the causes of her hatred sunk
down and disappeared; or, if the least remembrance of anything which
had disobliged her remained, her heart became his zealous advocate,
and soon satisfied her that her own fates were more to be blamed than
he, and that, without being a villain, he could have acted no
otherwise than he had done.
In this temper of mind she looked on herself as the murderer of an
innocent man, and, what to her was much worse, of the man she had
loved, and still did love, with all the violence imaginable. She
looked on James as the tool with which she had done this murder; and,
as it is usual for people who have rashly or inadvertently made any
animate or inanimate thing the instrument of mischief to hate the
innocent means by which the mischief was effected (for this is a
subtle method which the mind invents to excuse ourselves, the last
objects on whom we would willingly wreak our vengeance), so Miss
Matthews now hated and cursed James as the efficient cause of that act
which she herself had contrived and laboured to carry into execution.
She sat down therefore in a furious agitation, little short of
madness, and wrote the following letter:
"I Hope this will find you in the hands of justice, for the murder of
one of the best friends that ever man was blest with. In one sense,
indeed, he may seem to have deserved his fate, by chusing a fool for a
friend; for who but a fool would have believed what the anger and rage
of an injured woman suggested; a story so improbable, that I could
scarce be thought in earnest when I mentioned it?
"Know, then, cruel wretch, that poor Booth loved you of all men
breathing, and was, I believe, in your commendation guilty of as much
falsehood as I was in what I told you concerning him.
"If this knowledge makes you miserable, it is no more than you have
made the unhappy
Being the last chapter of the fifth book.
We shall now return to Colonel James and Mr. Booth, who walked
together from Colonel Bath's lodging with much more peaceable
intention than that gentleman had conjectured, who dreamt of nothing
but swords and guns and implements of wars.
The Birdcage-walk in the Park was the scene appointed by James for
unburthening his mind.—Thither they came, and there James acquainted
Booth with all that which the reader knows already, and gave him the
letter which we have inserted at the end of the last chapter.
Booth exprest great astonishment at this relation, not without venting
some detestation of the wickedness of Miss Matthews; upon which James
took him up, saying, he ought not to speak with such abhorrence of
faults which love for him had occasioned.
"Can you mention love, my dear colonel," cried Booth, "and such a
woman in the same breath?"
"Yes, faith! can I," says James; "for the devil take me if I know a
more lovely woman in the world." Here he began to describe her whole
person; but, as we cannot insert all the description, so we shall omit
it all; and concluded with saying, "Curse me if I don't think her the
finest creature in the universe. I would give half my estate, Booth,
she loved me as well as she doth you. Though, on second consideration,
I believe I should repent that bargain; for then, very possibly, I
should not care a farthing for her."
"You will pardon me, dear colonel," answered Booth; "but to me there
appears somewhat very singular in your way of thinking. Beauty is
indeed the object of liking, great qualities of admiration, good ones
of esteem; but the devil take me if I think anything but love to be
the object of love."
"Is there not something too selfish," replied James, "in that opinion?
but, without considering it in that light, is it not of all things the
most insipid? all oil! all sugar! zounds! it is enough to cloy the
sharp-set appetite of a parson. Acids surely are the most likely to
"I do not love reasoning in allegories," cries Booth; "but with regard
to love, I declare I never found anything cloying in it. I have lived
almost alone with my wife near three years together, was never tired
with her company, nor ever wished for any other; and I am sure I never
tasted any of the acid you mention to quicken my appetite."
"This is all very extraordinary and romantic to me," answered the
colonel. "If I was to be shut up three years with the same woman,
which Heaven forbid! nothing, I think, could keep me alive but a
temper as violent as that of Miss Matthews. As to love, it would make
me sick to death in the twentieth part of that time. If I was so
condemned, let me see, what would I wish the woman to be? I think no
one virtue would be sufficient. With the spirit of a tigress I would
have her be a prude, a scold, a scholar, a critic, a wit, a
politician, and a Jacobite; and then, perhaps, eternal opposition
would keep up our spirits; and, wishing one another daily at the
devil, we should make a shift to drag on a damnable state of life,
without much spleen or vapours."
"And so you do not intend," cries Booth, "to break with this woman?"
"Not more than I have already, if I can help it," answered the
"And you will be reconciled to her?" said Booth.
"Yes, faith! will I, if I can," answered the colonel; "I hope you have
"None, my dear friend," said Booth, "unless on your account."
"I do believe you," said the colonel: "and yet, let me tell you, you
are a very extraordinary man, not to desire me to quit her on your own
account. Upon my soul, I begin to pity the woman, who hath placed her
affection, perhaps, on the only man in England of your age who would
not return it. But for my part, I promise you, I like her beyond all
other women; and, whilst that is the case, my boy, if her mind was as
full of iniquity as Pandora's box was of diseases, I'd hug her close
in my arms, and only take as much care as possible to keep the lid
down for fear of mischief. But come, dear Booth," said he, "let us
consider your affairs; for I am ashamed of having neglected them so
long; and the only anger I have against this wench is, that she was
the occasion of it."
Booth then acquainted the colonel with the promises he had received
from the noble lord, upon which James shook him by the hand, and
heartily wished him joy, crying, "I do assure you, if you have his
interest, you will need no other; I did not know you was acquainted
To which Mr. Booth answered, "That he was but a new acquaintance, and
that he was recommended to him by a lady."
"A lady!" cries the colonel; "well, I don't ask her name. You are a
happy man, Booth, amongst the women; and, I assure you, you could have
no stronger recommendation. The peer loves the ladies, I believe, as
well as ever Mark Antony did; and it is not his fault if he hath not
spent as much upon them. If he once fixes his eye upon a woman, he
will stick at nothing to get her."
"Ay, indeed!" cries Booth. "Is that his character?"
"Ay, faith," answered the colonel, "and the character of most men
besides him. Few of them, I mean, will stick at anything beside their
money. Jusque a la Bourse is sometimes the boundary of love as well as
friendship. And, indeed, I never knew any other man part with his
money so very freely on these occasions. You see, dear Booth, the
confidence I have in your honour."
"I hope, indeed, you have," cries Booth, "but I don't see what
instance you now give me of that confidence."
"Have not I shewn you," answered James, "where you may carry your
goods to market? I can assure you, my friend, that is a secret I would
not impart to every man in your situation, and all circumstances
"I am very sorry, sir," cries Booth very gravely, and turning as pale
as death, "you should entertain a thought of this kind; a thought
which hath almost frozen up my blood. I am unwilling to believe there
are such villains in the world; but there is none of them whom I
should detest half so much as myself, if my own mind had ever
suggested to me a hint of that kind. I have tasted of some distresses
of life, and I know not to what greater I may be driven, but my
honour, I thank Heaven, is in my own power, and I can boldly say to
Fortune she shall not rob me of it."
"Have I not exprest that confidence, my dear Booth?" answered the
colonel. "And what you say now well justifies my opinion; for I do
agree with you that, considering all things, it would be the highest
instance of dishonour."
"Dishonour, indeed!" returned Booth. "What! to prostitute my wife! Can
I think there is such a wretch breathing?"
"I don't know that," said the colonel, "but I am sure it was very far
from my intention to insinuate the least hint of any such matter to
you. Nor can I imagine how you yourself could conceive such a thought.
The goods I meant were no other than the charming person of Miss
Matthews, for whom I am convinced my lord would bid a swinging price
Booth's countenance greatly cleared up at this declaration, and he
answered with a smile, that he hoped he need not give the colonel any
assurances on that head. However, though he was satisfied with regard
to the colonel's suspicions, yet some chimeras now arose in his brain
which gave him no very agreeable sensations. What these were, the
sagacious reader may probably suspect; but, if he should not, we may
perhaps have occasion to open them in the sequel. Here we will put an
end to this dialogue, and to the fifth book of this history.
Panegyrics on beauty, with other grave matters.
The colonel and Booth walked together to the latter's lodging, for as
it was not that day in the week in which all parts of the town are
indifferent, Booth could not wait on the colonel.
When they arrived in Spring-garden, Booth, to his great surprize,
found no one at home but the maid. In truth, Amelia had accompanied
Mrs. Ellison and her children to his lordship's; for, as her little
girl showed a great unwillingness to go without her, the fond mother
was easily persuaded to make one of the company.
Booth had scarce ushered the colonel up to his apartment when a
servant from Mrs. James knocked hastily at the door. The lady, not
meeting with her husband at her return home, began to despair of him,
and performed everything which was decent on the occasion. An
apothecary was presently called with hartshorn and sal volatile, a
doctor was sent for, and messengers were despatched every way; amongst
the rest, one was sent to enquire at the lodgings of his supposed
The servant hearing that his master was alive and well above-stairs,
ran up eagerly to acquaint him with the dreadful situation in which he
left his miserable lady at home, and likewise with the occasion of all
her distress, saying, that his lady had been at her brother's, and had
there heard that his honour was killed in a duel by Captain Booth.
The colonel smiled at this account, and bid the servant make haste
back to contradict it. And then turning to Booth, he said, "Was there
ever such another fellow as this brother of mine? I thought indeed,
his behaviour was somewhat odd at the time. I suppose he overheard me
whisper that I would give you satisfaction, and thence concluded we
went together with a design of tilting. D—n the fellow, I begin to
grow heartily sick of him, and wish I could get well rid of him
without cutting his throat, which I sometimes apprehend he will insist
on my doing, as a return for my getting him made a lieutenant-
Whilst these two gentlemen were commenting on the character of the
third, Amelia and her company returned, and all presently came up-
stairs, not only the children, but the two ladies, laden with trinkets
as if they had been come from a fair. Amelia, who had been highly
delighted all the morning with the excessive pleasure which her
children enjoyed, when she saw Colonel James with her husband, and
perceived the most manifest marks of that reconciliation which she
knew had been so long and so earnestly wished by Booth, became so
transported with joy, that her happiness was scarce capable of
addition. Exercise had painted her face with vermilion; and the
highest good-humour had so sweetened every feature, and a vast flow of
spirits had so lightened up her bright eyes, that she was all a blaze
of beauty. She seemed, indeed, as Milton sublimely describes Eve,
With what all Earth or Heaven could bestow
To make her amiable.
Grace was in all her steps, Heaven in her eye,
In every gesture, dignity and love.
Or, as Waller sweetly, though less sublimely sings:—
Sweetness, truth, and every grace
Which time and use are wont to teach,
The eye may in a moment reach,
And read distinctly in her face.
Or, to mention one poet more, and him of all the sweetest, she seemed
to be the very person of whom Suckling wrote the following lines,
where, speaking of Cupid, he says,
All his lovely looks, his pleasing fires,
All his sweet motions, all his taking smiles;
All that awakes, all that inflames desires,
All that sweetly commands, all that beguiles,
He does into one pair of eyes convey,
And there begs leave that he himself may stay.
Such was Amelia at this time when she entered the room; and, having
paid her respects to the colonel, she went up to her husband, and
cried, "O, my dear! never were any creatures so happy as your little
things have been this whole morning; and all owing to my lord's
goodness; sure never was anything so good-natured and so generous!"
She then made the children produce their presents, the value of which
amounted to a pretty large sum; for there was a gold watch, amongst
the trinkets, that cost above twenty guineas.
Instead of discovering so much satisfaction on this occasion as Amelia
expected, Booth very gravely answered, "And pray, my dear, how are we
to repay all these obligations to his lordship?" "How can you ask so
strange a question?" cries Mrs. Ellison: "how little do you know of
the soul of generosity (for sure my cousin deserves that name) when
you call a few little trinkets given to children an obligation!"
"Indeed, my dear," cries Amelia, "I would have stopped his hand if it
had been possible; nay, I was forced at last absolutely to refuse, or
I believe he would have laid a hundred pound out on the children; for
I never saw any one so fond of children, which convinces me he is one
of the best of men; but I ask your pardon, colonel, "said she, turning
to him; "I should not entertain you with these subjects; yet I know
you have goodness enough to excuse the folly of a mother."
The colonel made a very low assenting bow, and soon after they all sat
down to a small repast; for the colonel had promised Booth to dine
with him when they first came home together, and what he had since
heard from his own house gave him still less inclination than ever to
But, besides both these, there was a third and stronger inducement to
him to pass the day with his friend, and this was the desire of
passing it with his friend's wife. When the colonel had first seen
Amelia in France, she was but just recovered from a consumptive habit,
and looked pale and thin; besides, his engagements with Miss Bath at
that time took total possession of him, and guarded his heart from the
impressions of another woman; and, when he had dined with her in town,
the vexations through which she had lately passed had somewhat
deadened her beauty; besides, he was then engaged, as we have seen, in
a very warm pursuit of a new mistress, but now he had no such
impediment; for, though the reader hath just before seen his warm
declarations of a passion for Miss Matthews, yet it may be remembered
that he had been in possession of her for above a fortnight; and one
of the happy properties of this kind of passion is, that it can with
equal violence love half a dozen or half a score different objects at
one and the same time.
But indeed such were the charms now displayed by Amelia, of which we
endeavoured above to draw some faint resemblance, that perhaps no
other beauty could have secured him from their influence; and here, to
confess a truth in his favour, however the grave or rather the
hypocritical part of mankind may censure it, I am firmly persuaded
that to withdraw admiration from exquisite beauty, or to feel no
delight in gazing at it, is as impossible as to feel no warmth from
the most scorching rays of the sun. To run away is all that is in our
power; and in the former case, if it must be allowed we have the power
of running away, it must be allowed also that it requires the
strongest resolution to execute it; for when, as Dryden says,
All paradise is open'd in a face,
how natural is the desire of going thither! and how difficult to quit
the lovely prospect!
And yet, however difficult this may be, my young readers, it is
absolutely necessary, and that immediately too: flatter not yourselves
that fire will not scorch as well as warm, and the longer we stay
within its reach the more we shall burn. The admiration of a beautiful
woman, though the wife of our dearest friend, may at first perhaps be
innocent, but let us not flatter ourselves it will always remain so;
desire is sure to succeed; and wishes, hopes, designs, with a long
train of mischiefs, tread close at our heels. In affairs of this kind
we may most properly apply the well-known remark of nemo repente
fuit turpissimus. It fares, indeed, with us on this occasion as
with the unwary traveller in some parts of Arabia the desert, whom the
treacherous sands imperceptibly betray till he is overwhelmed and
lost. In both cases the only safety is by withdrawing our feet the
very first moment we perceive them sliding.
This digression may appear impertinent to some readers; we could not,
however, avoid the opportunity of offering the above hints; since of
all passions there is none against which we should so strongly fortify
ourselves as this, which is generally called love; for no other lays
before us, especially in the tumultuous days of youth, such sweet,
such strong and almost irresistible temptations; none hath produced in
private life such fatal and lamentable tragedies; and what is worst of
all, there is none to whose poison and infatuation the best of minds
are so liable. Ambition scarce ever produces any evil but when it
reigns in cruel and savage bosoms; and avarice seldom flourishes at
all but in the basest and poorest soil. Love, on the contrary, sprouts
usually up in the richest and noblest minds; but there, unless nicely
watched, pruned, and cultivated, and carefully kept clear of those
vicious weeds which are too apt to surround it, it branches forth into
wildness and disorder, produces nothing desirable, but choaks up and
kills whatever is good and noble in the mind where it so abounds. In
short, to drop the allegory, not only tenderness and good nature, but
bravery, generosity, and every virtue are often made the instruments
of effecting the most atrocious purposes of this all-subduing tyrant.
Which will not appear, we presume, unnatural to all married
If the table of poor Booth afforded but an indifferent repast to the
colonel's hunger, here was most excellent entertainment of a much
higher kind. The colonel began now to wonder within himself at his not
having before discovered such incomparable beauty and excellence. This
wonder was indeed so natural that, lest it should arise likewise in
the reader, we thought proper to give the solution of it in the
During the first two hours the colonel scarce ever had his eyes off
from Amelia; for he was taken by surprize, and his heart was gone
before he suspected himself to be in any danger. His mind, however, no
sooner suggested a certain secret to him than it suggested some degree
of prudence to him at the same time; and the knowledge that he had
thoughts to conceal, and the care of concealing them, had birth at one
and the same instant. During the residue of the day, therefore, he
grew more circumspect, and contented himself with now and then
stealing a look by chance, especially as the more than ordinary
gravity of Booth made him fear that his former behaviour had betrayed
to Booth's observation the great and sudden liking he had conceived
for his wife, even before he had observed it in himself.
Amelia continued the whole day in the highest spirits and highest good
humour imaginable, never once remarking that appearance of discontent
in her husband of which the colonel had taken notice; so much more
quick-sighted, as we have somewhere else hinted, is guilt than
innocence. Whether Booth had in reality made any such observations on
the colonel's behaviour as he had suspected, we will not undertake to
determine; yet so far may be material to say, as we can with
sufficient certainty, that the change in Booth's behaviour that day,
from what was usual with him, was remarkable enough. None of his
former vivacity appeared in his conversation; and his countenance was
altered from being the picture of sweetness and good humour, not
indeed to sourness or moroseness, but to gravity and melancholy.
Though the colonel's suspicion had the effect which we have mentioned
on his behaviour, yet it could not persuade him to depart. In short,
he sat in his chair as if confined to it by enchantment, stealing
looks now and then, and humouring his growing passion, without having
command enough over his limbs to carry him out of the room, till
decency at last forced him to put an end to his preposterous visit.
When the husband and wife were left alone together, the latter resumed
the subject of her children, and gave Booth a particular narrative of
all that had passed at his lordship's, which he, though something had
certainly disconcerted him, affected to receive with all the pleasure
he could; and this affectation, however aukwardly he acted his part,
passed very well on Amelia; for she could not well conceive a
displeasure of which she had not the least hint of any cause, and
indeed at a time when, from his reconciliation with James, she
imagined her husband to be entirely and perfectly happy.
The greatest part of that night Booth past awake; and, if during the
residue he might be said to sleep, he could scarce be said to enjoy
repose; his eyes were no sooner closed, that he was pursued and
haunted by the most frightful and terrifying dreams, which threw him
into so restless a condition, that he soon disturbed his Amelia, and
greatly alarmed her with apprehensions that he had been seized by some
dreadful disease, though he had not the least symptoms of a fever by
any extraordinary heat, or any other indication, but was rather colder
As Booth assured his wife that he was very well, but found no
inclination to sleep, she likewise bid adieu to her slumbers, and
attempted to entertain him with her conversation. Upon which his
lordship occurred as the first topic; and she repeated to him all the
stories which she had heard from Mrs. Ellison, of the peer's goodness
to his sister and his nephew and niece. "It is impossible, my dear,"
says she, "to describe their fondness for their uncle, which is to me
an incontestible sign of a parent's goodness." In this manner she ran
on for several minutes, concluding at last, that it was pity so very
few had such generous minds joined to immense fortunes.
Booth, instead of making a direct answer to what Amelia had said,
cried coldly, "But do you think, my dear, it was right to accept all
those expensive toys which the children brought home? And I ask you
again, what return we are to make for these obligations?"
"Indeed, my dear," cries Amelia, "you see this matter in too serious a
light. Though I am the last person in the world who would lessen his
lordship's goodness (indeed I shall always think we are both
infinitely obliged to him), yet sure you must allow the expense to be
a mere trifle to such a vast fortune. As for return, his own
benevolence, in the satisfaction it receives, more than repays itself,
and I am convinced he expects no other."
"Very well, my dear," cries Booth, "you shall have it your way; I must
confess I never yet found any reason to blame your discernment; and
perhaps I have been in the wrong to give myself so much uneasiness on
"Uneasiness, child!" said Amelia eagerly; "Good Heavens! hath this
made you uneasy?"
"I do own it hath," answered Booth, "and it hath been the only cause
of breaking my repose."
"Why then I wish," cries Amelia, "all the things had been at the devil
before ever the children had seen them; and, whatever I may think
myself, I promise you they shall never more accept the value of a
farthing:—if upon this occasion I have been the cause of your
uneasiness, you will do me the justice to believe that I was totally
At those words Booth caught her in his arms, and with the tenderest
embrace, emphatically repeating the word innocent, cried, "Heaven
forbid I should think otherwise! Oh, thou art the best of creatures
that ever blessed a man!"
"Well, but," said she, smiling, "do confess, my dear, the truth; I
promise you I won't blame you nor disesteem you for it; but is not
pride really at the bottom of this fear of an obligation?"
"Perhaps it may," answered he; "or, if you will, you may call it fear.
I own I am afraid of obligations, as the worst kind of debts; for I
have generally observed those who confer them expect to be repaid ten
Here ended all that is material of their discourse; and a little time
afterwards, they both fell fast asleep in one another's arms; from
which time Booth had no more restlessness, nor any further
perturbation in his dreams.
Their repose, however, had been so much disturbed in the former part
of the night, that, as it was very late before they enjoyed that sweet
sleep I have just mentioned, they lay abed the next day till noon,
when they both rose with the utmost chearfulness; and, while Amelia
bestirred herself in the affairs of her family, Booth went to visit
the wounded colonel.
He found that gentleman still proceeding very fast in his recovery,
with which he was more pleased than he had reason to be with his
reception; for the colonel received him very coldly indeed, and, when
Booth told him he had received perfect satisfaction from his brother,
Bath erected his head and answered with a sneer, "Very well, sir, if
you think these matters can be so made up, d—n me if it is any
business of mine. My dignity hath not been injured."
"No one, I believe," cries Booth, "dare injure it."
"You believe so!" said the colonel: "I think, sir, you might be
assured of it; but this, at least, you may be assured of, that if any
man did, I would tumble him down the precipice of hell, d—n me, that
you may be assured of."
As Booth found the colonel in this disposition, he had no great
inclination to lengthen out his visit, nor did the colonel himself
seem to desire it: so he soon returned back to his Amelia, whom he
found performing the office of a cook, with as much pleasure as a fine
lady generally enjoys in dressing herself out for a ball.
In which the history looks a little backwards.
Before we proceed farther in our history we shall recount a short
scene to our reader which passed between Amelia and Mrs. Ellison
whilst Booth was on his visit to Colonel Bath. We have already
observed that Amelia had conceived an extraordinary affection for Mrs.
Bennet, which had still encreased every time she saw her; she thought
she discovered something wonderfully good and gentle in her
countenance and disposition, and was very desirous of knowing her
She had a very short interview with that lady this morning in Mrs.
Ellison's apartment. As soon, therefore, as Mrs. Bennet was gone,
Amelia acquainted Mrs. Ellison with the good opinion she had conceived
of her friend, and likewise with her curiosity to know her story: "For
there must be something uncommonly good," said she, "in one who can so
truly mourn for a husband above three years after his death."
"O!" cries Mrs. Ellison, "to be sure the world must allow her to have
been one of the best of wives. And, indeed, upon the whole, she is a
good sort of woman; and what I like her the best for is a strong
resemblance that she bears to yourself in the form of her person, and
still more in her voice. But for my own part, I know nothing
remarkable in her fortune, unless what I have told you, that she was
the daughter of a clergyman, had little or no fortune, and married a
poor parson for love, who left her in the utmost distress. If you
please, I will shew you a letter which she writ to me at that time,
though I insist upon your promise never to mention it to her; indeed,
you will be the first person I ever shewed it to." She then opened her
scrutore, and, taking out the letter, delivered it to Amelia, saying,
"There, madam, is, I believe, as fine a picture of distress as can
well be drawn."
"As I have no other friend on earth but yourself, I hope you will
pardon my writing to you at this season; though I do not know that you
can relieve my distresses, or, if you can, have I any pretence to
expect that you should. My poor dear, O Heavens—my—-lies dead in the
house; and, after I had procured sufficient to bury him, a set of
ruffians have entered my house, seized all I have, have seized his
dear, dear corpse, and threaten to deny it burial. For Heaven's sake,
send me, at least, some advice; little Tommy stands now by me crying
for bread, which I have not to give him. I can say no more than that I
Your most distressed humble servant,
Amelia read the letter over twice, and then returning it with tears in
her eyes, asked how the poor creature could possibly get through such
"You may depend upon it, madam," said Mrs. Ellison, "the moment I read
this account I posted away immediately to the lady. As to the seizing
the body, that I found was a mere bugbear; but all the rest was
literally true. I sent immediately for the same gentleman that I
recommended to Mr. Booth, left the care of burying the corpse to him,
and brought my friend and her little boy immediately away to my own
house, where she remained some months in the most miserable condition.
I then prevailed with her to retire into the country, and procured her
a lodging with a friend at St Edmundsbury, the air and gaiety of which
place by degrees recovered her; and she returned in about a twelve-
month to town, as well, I think, as she is at present."
"I am almost afraid to ask," cries Amelia, "and yet I long methinks to
know what is become of the poor little boy."
"He hath been dead," said Mrs. Ellison, "a little more than half a
year; and the mother lamented him at first almost as much as she did
her husband, but I found it indeed rather an easier matter to comfort
her, though I sat up with her near a fortnight upon the latter
"You are a good creature," said Amelia, "and I love you dearly."
"Alas! madam," cries she, "what could I have done if it had not been
for the goodness of that best of men, my noble cousin! His lordship no
sooner heard of the widow's distress from me than he immediately
settled one hundred and fifty pounds a year upon her during her life."
"Well! how noble, how generous was that!" said Amelia. "I declare I
begin to love your cousin, Mrs. Ellison."
"And I declare if you do," answered she, "there is no love lost, I
verily believe; if you had heard what I heard him say yesterday behind
"Why, what did he say, Mrs. Ellison?" cries Amelia.
"He said," answered the other, "that you was the finest woman his eyes
ever beheld.—Ah! it is in vain to wish, and yet I cannot help wishing
too.—O, Mrs. Booth! if you had been a single woman, I firmly believe
I could have made you the happiest in the world. And I sincerely think
I never saw a woman who deserved it more."
"I am obliged to you, madam," cries Amelia, "for your good opinion;
but I really look on myself already as the happiest woman in the
world. Our circumstances, it is true, might have been a little more
fortunate; but O, my dear Mrs. Ellison! what fortune can be put in the
balance with such a husband as mine?"
"I am afraid, dear madam," answered Mrs. Ellison, "you would not hold
the scale fairly.—I acknowledge, indeed, Mr. Booth is a very pretty
gentleman; Heaven forbid I should endeavour to lessen him in your
opinion; yet, if I was to be brought to confession, I could not help
saying I see where the superiority lies, and that the men have more
reason to envy Mr. Booth than the women have to envy his lady."
"Nay, I will not bear this," replied Amelia. "You will forfeit all my
love if you have the least disrespectful opinion of my husband. You do
not know him, Mrs. Ellison; he is the best, the kindest, the worthiest
of all his sex. I have observed, indeed, once or twice before, that
you have taken some dislike to him. I cannot conceive for what reason.
If he hath said or done anything to disoblige you, I am sure I can
justly acquit him of design. His extreme vivacity makes him sometimes
a little too heedless; but, I am convinced, a more innocent heart, or
one more void of offence, was never in a human bosom."
"Nay, if you grow serious," cries Mrs. Ellison, "I have done. How is
it possible you should suspect I had taken any dislike to a man to
whom I have always shewn so perfect a regard; but to say I think him,
or almost any other man in the world, worthy of yourself, is not
within my power with truth. And since you force the confession from
me, I declare, I think such beauty, such sense, and such goodness
united, might aspire without vanity to the arms of any monarch in
"Alas! my dear Mrs. Ellison," answered Amelia, "do you think happiness
and a crown so closely united? how many miserable women have lain in
the arms of kings?—Indeed, Mrs. Ellison, if I had all the merit you
compliment me with, I should think it all fully rewarded with such a
man as, I thank Heaven, hath fallen to my lot; nor would I, upon my
soul, exchange that lot with any queen in the universe."
"Well, there are enow of our sex," said Mrs. Ellison, "to keep you in
countenance; but I shall never forget the beginning of a song of Mr.
Congreve's, that my husband was so fond of that he was always singing
Love's but a frailty of the mind,
When 'tis not with ambition join'd.
Love without interest makes but an unsavoury dish, in my opinion."
"And pray how long hath this been your opinion?" said Amelia, smiling.
"Ever since I was born," answered Mrs. Ellison; "at least, ever since
I can remember."
"And have you never," said Amelia, "deviated from this generous way of
"Never once," answered the other, "in the whole course of my life."
"O, Mrs. Ellison! Mrs. Ellison!" cries Amelia; "why do we ever blame
those who are disingenuous in confessing their faults, when we are so
often ashamed to own ourselves in the right? Some women now, in my
situation, would be angry that you had not made confidantes of them;
but I never desire to know more of the secrets of others than they are
pleased to intrust me with. You must believe, however, that I should
not have given you these hints of my knowing all if I had disapproved
your choice. On the contrary, I assure you I highly approve it. The
gentility he wants, it will be easily in your power to procure for
him; and as for his good qualities, I will myself be bound for them;
and I make not the least doubt, as you have owned to me yourself that
you have placed your affections on him, you will be one of the
happiest women in the world."
"Upon my honour," cries Mrs. Ellison very gravely, "I do not
understand one word of what you mean."
"Upon my honour, you astonish me," said Amelia; "but I have done."
"Nay then," said the other, "I insist upon knowing what you mean."
"Why, what can I mean," answered Amelia, "but your marriage with
"With serjeant Atkinson!" cries Mrs. Ellison eagerly, "my marriage
with a serjeant!"
"Well, with Mr. Atkinson, then, Captain Atkinson, if you please; for
so I hope to see him."
"And have you really no better opinion of me," said Mrs. Ellison,
"than to imagine me capable of such condescension? What have I done,
dear Mrs. Booth, to deserve so low a place in your esteem? I find
indeed, as Solomon says, Women ought to watch the door of their
lips. How little did I imagine that a little harmless freedom in
discourse could persuade any one that I could entertain a serious
intention of disgracing my family! for of a very good family am I
come, I assure you, madam, though I now let lodgings. Few of my
lodgers, I believe, ever came of a better."
"If I have offended you, madam," said Amelia, "I am very sorry, and
ask your pardon; but, besides what I heard from yourself, Mr. Booth
"O yes!" answered Mrs. Ellison, "Mr. Booth, I know, is a very good
friend of mine. Indeed, I know you better than to think it could be
your own suspicion. I am very much obliged to Mr. Booth truly."
"Nay," cries Amelia, "the serjeant himself is in fault; for Mr. Booth,
I am positive, only repeated what he had from him."
"Impudent coxcomb!" cries Mrs. Ellison. "I shall know how to keep such
fellows at a proper distance for the future—I will tell you, dear
madam, all that happened. When I rose in the morning I found the
fellow waiting in the entry; and, as you had exprest some regard for
him as your foster-brother—nay, he is a very genteel fellow, that I
must own—I scolded my maid for not shewing him into my little back-
room; and I then asked him to walk into the parlour. Could I have
imagined he would have construed such little civility into an
"Nay, I will have justice done to my poor brother too," said Amelia.
"I myself have seen you give him much greater encouragement than
"Well, perhaps I have," said Mrs. Ellison. "I have been always too
unguarded in my speech, and can't answer for all I have said." She
then began to change her note, and, with an affected laugh, turned all
into ridicule; and soon afterwards the two ladies separated, both in
apparent good humour; and Amelia went about those domestic offices in
which Mr. Booth found her engaged at the end of the preceding chapter.
Containing a very extraordinary incident.
In the afternoon Mr. Booth, with Amelia and her children, went to
refresh themselves in the Park. The conversation now turned on what
past in the morning with Mrs. Ellison, the latter part of the
dialogue, I mean, recorded in the last chapter. Amelia told her
husband that Mrs. Ellison so strongly denied all intentions to marry
the serjeant, that she had convinced her the poor fellow was under an
error, and had mistaken a little too much levity for serious
encouragement; and concluded by desiring Booth not to jest with her
any more on that subject.
Booth burst into a laugh at what his wife said. "My dear creature,"
said he, "how easily is thy honesty and simplicity to be imposed on!
how little dost thou guess at the art and falsehood of women! I knew a
young lady who, against her father's consent, was married to a brother
officer of mine; and, as I often used to walk with her (for I knew her
father intimately well), she would of her own accord take frequent
occasions to ridicule and vilify her husband (for so he was at the
time), and exprest great wonder and indignation at the report which
she allowed to prevail that she should condescend ever to look at such
a fellow with any other design than of laughing at and despising him.
The marriage afterwards became publicly owned, and the lady was
reputably brought to bed. Since which I have often seen her; nor hath
she ever appeared to be in the least ashamed of what she had formerly
said, though, indeed, I believe she hates me heartily for having heard
"But for what reason," cries Amelia, "should she deny a fact, when she
must be so certain of our discovering it, and that immediately?"
"I can't answer what end she may propose," said Booth. "Sometimes one
would be almost persuaded that there was a pleasure in lying itself.
But this I am certain, that I would believe the honest serjeant on his
bare word sooner than I would fifty Mrs. Ellisons on oath. I am
convinced he would not have said what he did to me without the
strongest encouragement; and, I think, after what we have been both
witnesses to, it requires no great confidence in his veracity to give
him an unlimited credit with regard to the lady's behaviour."
To this Amelia made no reply; and they discoursed of other matters
during the remainder of a very pleasant walk.
When they returned home Amelia was surprized to find an appearance of
disorder in her apartment. Several of the trinkets which his lordship
had given the children lay about the room; and a suit of her own
cloaths, which she had left in her drawers, was now displayed upon the
She immediately summoned her little girl up-stairs, who, as she
plainly perceived the moment she came up with a candle, had half cried
her eyes out; for, though the girl had opened the door to them, as it
was almost dark, she had not taken any notice of this phenomenon in
The girl now fell down upon her knees and cried, "For Heaven's sake,
madam, do not be angry with me. Indeed, I was left alone in the house;
and, hearing somebody knock at the door, I opened it—I am sure
thinking no harm. I did not know but it might have been you, or my
master, or Madam Ellison; and immediately as I did, the rogue burst in
and ran directly up-stairs, and what he hath robbed you of I cannot
tell; but I am sure I could not help it, for he was a great swinging
man with a pistol in each hand; and, if I had dared to call out, to be
sure he would have killed me. I am sure I was never in such a fright
in my born days, whereof I am hardly come to myself yet. I believe he
is somewhere about the house yet, for I never saw him go out."
Amelia discovered some little alarm at this narrative, but much less
than many other ladies would have shewn, for a fright is, I believe,
sometimes laid hold of as an opportunity of disclosing several charms
peculiar to that occasion. And which, as Mr. Addison says of certain
Shun the day, and lie conceal'd
In the smooth seasons and the calms of life.
Booth, having opened the window, and summoned in two chairmen to his
assistance, proceeded to search the house; but all to no purpose; the
thief was flown, though the poor girl, in her state of terror, had not
seen him escape.
But now a circumstance appeared which greatly surprized both Booth and
Amelia; indeed, I believe it will have the same effect on the reader;
and this was, that the thief had taken nothing with him. He had,
indeed, tumbled over all Booth's and Amelia's cloaths and the
children's toys, but had left all behind him.
Amelia was scarce more pleased than astonished at this discovery, and
re-examined the girl, assuring her of an absolute pardon if she
confessed the truth, but grievously threatening her if she was found
guilty of the least falsehood. "As for a thief, child," says she,
"that is certainly not true; you have had somebody with you to whom
you have been shewing the things; therefore tell me plainly who it
The girl protested in the solemnest manner that she knew not the
person; but as to some circumstances she began to vary a little from
her first account, particularly as to the pistols, concerning which,
being strictly examined by Booth, she at last cried—"To be sure, sir,
he must have had pistols about him." And instead of persisting in his
having rushed in upon her, she now confessed that he had asked at the
door for her master and mistress; and that at his desire she had shewn
him up-stairs, where he at first said he would stay till their return
home; "but, indeed," cried she, "I thought no harm, for he looked like
a gentleman-like sort of man. And, indeed, so I thought he was for a
good while, whereof he sat down and behaved himself very civilly, till
he saw some of master's and miss's things upon the chest of drawers;
whereof he cried, 'Hey-day! what's here?' and then he fell to tumbling
about the things like any mad. Then I thinks, thinks I to myself, to
be sure he is a highwayman, whereof I did not dare speak to him; for I
knew Madam Ellison and her maid was gone out, and what could such a
poor girl as I do against a great strong man? and besides, thinks I,
to be sure he hath got pistols about him, though I can't indeed, (that
I will not do for the world) take my Bible-oath that I saw any; yet to
be sure he would have soon pulled them out and shot me dead if I had
ventured to have said anything to offend him."
"I know not what to make of this," cries Booth. "The poor girl, I
verily believe, speaks to the best of her knowledge. A thief it could
not be, for he hath not taken the least thing; and it is plain he had
the girl's watch in his hand. If it had been a bailiff, surely he
would have staid till our return. I can conceive no other from the
girl's account than that it must have been some madman."
"O good sir!" said the girl, "now you mention it, if he was not a
thief, to be sure he must have been a madman: for indeed he looked,
and behaved himself too, very much like a madman; for, now I remember
it, he talked to himself and said many strange kind of words that I
did not understand. Indeed, he looked altogether as I have seen people
in Bedlam; besides, if he was not a madman, what good could it do him
to throw the things all about the room in such a manner? and he said
something too about my master just before he went down-stairs. I was
in such a fright I cannot remember particularly, but I am sure they
were very ill words; he said he would do for him—I am sure he said
that, and other wicked bad words too, if I could but think of them."
"Upon my word," said Booth, "this is the most probable conjecture; but
still I am puzzled to conceive who it should be, for I have no madman
to my knowledge of my acquaintance, and it seems, as the girl says, he
asked for me." He then turned to the child, and asked her if she was
certain of that circumstance.
The poor maid, after a little hesitation, answered, "Indeed, sir, I
cannot be very positive; for the fright he threw me into afterwards
drove everything almost out of my mind."
"Well, whatever he was," cries Amelia, "I am glad the consequence is
no worse; but let this be a warning to you, little Betty, and teach
you to take more care for the future. If ever you should be left alone
in the house again, be sure to let no persons in without first looking
out at the window and seeing who they are. I promised not to chide you
any more on this occasion, and I will keep my word; but it is very
plain you desired this person to walk up into our apartment, which was
very wrong in our absence."
Betty was going to answer, but Amelia would not let her, saying,
"Don't attempt to excuse yourself; for I mortally hate a liar, and can
forgive any fault sooner than falsehood."
The poor girl then submitted; and now Amelia, with her assistance,
began to replace all things in their order; and little Emily hugging
her watch with great fondness, declared she would never part with it
Thus ended this odd adventure, not entirely to the satisfaction of
Booth; for, besides his curiosity, which, when thoroughly roused, is a
very troublesome passion, he had, as is I believe usual with all
persons in his circumstances, several doubts and apprehensions of he
knew not what. Indeed, fear is never more uneasy than when it doth not
certainly know its object; for on such occasions the mind is ever
employed in raising a thousand bugbears and fantoms, much more
dreadful than any realities, and, like children when they tell tales
of hobgoblins, seems industrious in terrifying itself.
Containing some matters not very unnatural.
Matters were scarce sooner reduced into order and decency than a
violent knocking was heard at the door, such indeed as would have
persuaded any one not accustomed to the sound that the madman was
returned in the highest spring-tide of his fury.
Instead, however, of so disagreeable an appearance, a very fine lady
presently came into the room, no other, indeed, than Mrs. James
herself; for she was resolved to shew Amelia, by the speedy return of
her visit, how unjust all her accusation had been of any failure in
the duties of friendship; she had, moreover, another reason to
accelerate this visit, and that was, to congratulate her friend on the
event of the duel between Colonel Bath and Mr. Booth.
The lady had so well profited by Mrs. Booth's remonstrance, that she
had now no more of that stiffness and formality which she had worn on
a former occasion. On the contrary, she now behaved with the utmost
freedom and good-humour, and made herself so very agreeable, that
Amelia was highly pleased and delighted with her company.
An incident happened during this visit, that may appear to some too
inconsiderable in itself to be recorded; and yet, as it certainly
produced a very strong consequence in the mind of Mr. Booth, we cannot
prevail on ourselves to pass it by.
Little Emily, who was present in the room while Mrs. James was there,
as she stood near that lady happened to be playing with her watch,
which she was so greatly overjoyed had escaped safe from the madman.
Mrs. James, who exprest great fondness for the child, desired to see
the watch, which she commended as the prettiest of the kind she had
Amelia caught eager hold of this opportunity to spread the praises of
her benefactor. She presently acquainted Mrs. James with the donor's
name, and ran on with great encomiums on his lordship's goodness, and
particularly on his generosity. To which Mrs. James answered, "O!
certainly, madam, his lordship hath universally the character of being
extremely generous-where he likes."
In uttering these words she laid a very strong emphasis on the three
last monosyllables, accompanying them at the same time with a very
sagacious look, a very significant leer, and a great flirt with her
The greatest genius the world hath ever produced observes, in one of
his most excellent plays, that
Trifles, light as air,
Are to the jealous confirmations strong
As proofs of holy writ.
That Mr. Booth began to be possessed by this worst of fiends, admits,
I think, no longer doubt; for at this speech of Mrs. James he
immediately turned pale, and, from a high degree of chearfulness, was
all on a sudden struck dumb, so that he spoke not another word till
Mrs. James left the room.
The moment that lady drove from the door Mrs. Ellison came up-stairs.
She entered the room with a laugh, and very plentifully rallied both
Booth and Amelia concerning the madman, of which she had received a
full account below-stairs; and at last asked Amelia if she could not
guess who it was; but, without receiving an answer, went on, saying,
"For my own part, I fancy it must be some lover of yours! some person
that hath seen you, and so is run mad with love. Indeed, I should not
wonder if all mankind were to do the same. La! Mr. Booth, what makes
you grave? why, you are as melancholy as if you had been robbed in
earnest. Upon my word, though, to be serious, it is a strange story,
and, as the girl tells it, I know not what to make of it. Perhaps it
might be some rogue that intended to rob the house, and his heart
failed him; yet even that would be very extraordinary. What, did you
lose nothing, madam?"
"Nothing at all," answered Amelia. "He did not even take the child's
"Well, captain," cries Mrs. Ellison, "I hope you will take more care
of the house to-morrow; for your lady and I shall leave you alone to
the care of it. Here, madam," said she, "here is a present from my
lord to us; here are two tickets for the masquerade at Ranelagh. You
will be so charmed with it! It is the sweetest of all diversions."
"May I be damned, madam," cries Booth, "if my wife shall go thither."
Mrs. Ellison stared at these words, and, indeed, so did Amelia; for
they were spoke with great vehemence. At length the former cried out
with an air of astonishment, "Not let your lady go to Ranelagh, sir?"
"No, madam," cries Booth, "I will not let my wife go to Ranelagh."
"You surprize me!" cries Mrs. Ellison. "Sure, you are not in earnest?"
"Indeed, madam," returned he, "I am seriously in earnest. And, what is
more, I am convinced she would of her own accord refuse to go."
"Now, madam," said Mrs. Ellison, "you are to answer for yourself: and
I will for your husband, that, if you have a desire to go, he will not
"I hope, madam," answered Amelia with great gravity, "I shall never
desire to go to any place contrary to Mr. Booth's inclinations."
"Did ever mortal hear the like?" said Mrs. Ellison; "you are enough to
spoil the best husband in the universe. Inclinations! what, is a woman
to be governed then by her husband's inclinations, though they are
never so unreasonable?"
"Pardon me, madam," said Amelia; "I will not suppose Mr. Booth's
inclinations ever can be unreasonable. I am very much obliged to you
for the offer you have made me; but I beg you will not mention it any
more; for, after what Mr. Booth hath declared, if Ranelagh was a
heaven upon earth, I would refuse to go to it."
"I thank you, my dear," cries Booth; "I do assure you, you oblige me
beyond my power of expression by what you say; but I will endeavour to
shew you, both my sensibility of such goodness, and my lasting
gratitude to it."
"And pray, sir," cries Mrs. Ellison, "what can be your objection to
your lady's going to a place which, I will venture to say, is as
reputable as any about town, and which is frequented by the best
"Pardon me, good Mrs. Ellison," said Booth: "as my wife is so good to
acquiesce without knowing my reasons, I am not, I think, obliged to
assign them to any other person."
"Well," cries Mrs. Ellison, "if I had been told this, I would not have
believed it. What, refuse your lady an innocent diversion, and that
too when you have not the pretence to say it would cost you a
"Why will you say any more on this subject, dear madam?" cries Amelia.
"All diversions are to me matters of such indifference, that the bare
inclinations of any one for whom I have the least value would at all
times turn the balance of mine. I am sure then, after what Mr. Booth
"My dear," cries he, taking her up hastily, "I sincerely ask your
pardon; I spoke inadvertently, and in a passion. I never once thought
of controuling you, nor ever would. Nay, I said in the same breath you
would not go; and, upon my honour, I meant nothing more."
"My dear," said she, "you have no need of making any apology. I am not
in the least offended, and am convinced you will never deny me what I
"Try him, try him, madam," cries Mrs. Ellison; "I will be judged by
all the women in town if it is possible for a wife to ask her husband
anything more reasonable. You can't conceive what a sweet, charming,
elegant, delicious place it is. Paradise itself can hardly be equal to
"I beg you will excuse me, madam," said Amelia; "nay, I entreat you
will ask me no more; for be assured I must and will refuse. Do let me
desire you to give the ticket to poor Mrs. Bennet. I believe it would
greatly oblige her."
"Pardon me, madam," said Mrs. Ellison; "if you will not accept of it,
I am not so distressed for want of company as to go to such a public
place with all sort of people neither. I am always very glad to see
Mrs. Bennet at my own house, because I look upon her as a very good
sort of woman; but I don't chuse to be seen with such people in public
Amelia exprest some little indignation at this last speech, which she
declared to be entirely beyond her comprehension; and soon after, Mrs.
Ellison, finding all her efforts to prevail on Amelia were
ineffectual, took her leave, giving Mr. Booth two or three sarcastical
words, and a much more sarcastical look, at her departure.
A scene in which some ladies will possibly think Amelia's conduct
Booth and his wife being left alone, a solemn silence prevailed during
a few minutes. At last Amelia, who, though a good, was yet a human
creatures said to her husband, "Pray, my dear, do inform me what could
put you into so great a passion when Mrs. Ellison first offered me the
tickets for this masquerade?"
"I had rather you would not ask me," said Booth. "You have obliged me
greatly in your ready acquiescence with my desire, and you will add
greatly to the obligation by not enquiring the reason of it. This you
may depend upon, Amelia, that your good and happiness are the great
objects of all my wishes, and the end I propose in all my actions.
This view alone could tempt me to refuse you anything, or to conceal
anything from you."
"I will appeal to yourself," answered she, "whether this be not using
me too much like a child, and whether I can possibly help being a
little offended at it?"
"Not in the least," replied he; "I use you only with the tenderness of
a friend. I would only endeavour to conceal that from you which I
think would give you uneasiness if you knew. These are called the
pious frauds of friendship."
"I detest all fraud," says she; "and pious is too good an epithet to
be joined to so odious a word. You have often, you know, tried these
frauds with no better effect than to teize and torment me. You cannot
imagine, my dear, but that I must have a violent desire to know the
reason of words which I own I never expected to have heard. And the
more you have shown a reluctance to tell me, the more eagerly I have
longed to know. Nor can this be called a vain curiosity, since I seem
so much interested in this affair. If after all this, you still insist
on keeping the secret, I will convince you I am not ignorant of the
duty of a wife by my obedience; but I cannot help telling you at the
same time you will make me one of the most miserable of women."
"That is," cries he, "in other words, my dear Emily, to say, I will be
contented without the secret, but I am resolved to know it,
"Nay, if you say so," cries she, "I am convinced you will tell me.
Positively, dear Billy, I must and will know."
"Why, then, positively," says Booth, "I will tell you. And I think I
shall then shew you that, however well you may know the duty of a
wife, I am not always able to behave like a husband. In a word then,
my dear, the secret is no more than this; I am unwilling you should
receive any more presents from my lord."
"Mercy upon me!" cries she, with all the marks of astonishment; "what!
a masquerade ticket!"—
"Yes, my dear," cries he; "that is, perhaps, the very worst and most
dangerous of all. Few men make presents of those tickets to ladies
without intending to meet them at the place. And what do we know of
your companion? To be sincere with you, I have not liked her behaviour
for some time. What might be the consequence of going with such a
woman to such a place, to meet such a person, I tremble to think. And
now, my dear, I have told you my reason of refusing her offer with
some little vehemence, and I think I need explain myself no farther."
"You need not, indeed, sir," answered she. "Good Heavens! did I ever
expect to hear this? I can appeal to heaven, nay, I will appeal to
yourself, Mr. Booth, if I have ever done anything to deserve such a
suspicion. If ever any action of mine, nay, if ever any thought, had
stained the innocence of my soul, I could be contented."
"How cruelly do you mistake me!" said Booth. "What suspicion have I
"Can you ask it," answered she, "after what you have just now
"If I have declared any suspicion of you," replied he, "or if ever I
entertained a thought leading that way, may the worst of evils that
ever afflicted human nature attend me! I know the pure innocence of
that tender bosom, I do know it, my lovely angel, and adore it. The
snares which might be laid for that innocence were alone the cause of
my apprehension. I feared what a wicked and voluptuous man, resolved
to sacrifice everything to the gratification of a sensual appetite
with the most delicious repast, might attempt. If ever I injured the
unspotted whiteness of thy virtue in my imagination, may hell—-"
"Do not terrify me," cries she, interrupting him, "with such
imprecations. O, Mr. Booth! Mr. Booth! you must well know that a
woman's virtue is always her sufficient guard. No husband, without
suspecting that, can suspect any danger from those snares you mention;
and why, if you are liable to take such things into your head, may not
your suspicions fall on me as well as on any other? for sure nothing
was ever more unjust, I will not say ungrateful, than the suspicions
which you have bestowed on his lordship. I do solemnly declare, in all
the times I have seen the poor man, he hath never once offered the
least forwardness. His behaviour hath been polite indeed, but rather
remarkably distant than otherwise. Particularly when we played at
cards together. I don't remember he spoke ten words to me all the
evening; and when I was at his house, though he shewed the greatest
fondness imaginable to the children, he took so little notice of me,
that a vain woman would have been very little pleased with him. And if
he gave them many presents, he never offered me one. The first,
indeed, which he ever offered me was that which you in that kind
manner forced me to refuse."
"All this may be only the effect of art," said Booth. "I am convinced
he doth, nay, I am convinced he must like you; and my good friend
James, who perfectly well knows the world, told me, that his
lordship's character was that of the most profuse in his pleasures
with women; nay, what said Mrs. James this very evening? 'His lordship
is extremely generous—where he likes.' I shall never forget the sneer
with which she spoke those last words."
"I am convinced they injure him," cries Amelia. "As for Mrs. James,
she was always given to be censorious; I remarked it in her long ago,
as her greatest fault. And for the colonel, I believe he may find
faults enow of this kind in his own bosom, without searching after
them among his neighbours. I am sure he hath the most impudent look of
all the men I know; and I solemnly declare, the very last time he was
here he put me out of countenance more than once."
"Colonel James," answered Booth, "may have his faults very probably. I
do not look upon him as a saint, nor do I believe he desires I should;
but what interest could he have in abusing this lord's character to
me? or why should I question his truth, when he assured me that my
lord had never done an act of beneficence in his life but for the sake
of some woman whom he lusted after?"
"Then I myself can confute him," replied Amelia: "for, besides his
services to you, which, for the future, I shall wish to forget, and
his kindness to my little babes, how inconsistent is the character
which James gives of him with his lordship's behaviour to his own
nephew and niece, whose extreme fondness of their uncle sufficiently
proclaims his goodness to them? I need not mention all that I have
heard from Mrs. Ellison, every word of which I believe; for I have
great reason to think, notwithstanding some little levity, which, to
give her her due, she sees and condemns in herself, she is a very good
sort of woman."
"Well, my dear," cries Booth, "I may have been deceived, and I
heartily hope I am so; but in cases of this nature it is always good
to be on the surest side; for, as Congreve says,
'The wise too jealous are: fools too secure.'"
Here Amelia burst into tears, upon which Booth immediately caught her
in his arms, and endeavoured to comfort her. Passion, however, for a
while obstructed her speech, and at last she cried, "O, Mr. Booth! can
I bear to hear the word jealousy from your mouth?"
"Why, my love," said Booth, "will you so fatally misunderstand my
meaning? how often shall I protest that it is not of you, but of him,
that I was jealous? If you could look into my breast, and there read
all the most secret thoughts of my heart, you would not see one faint
idea to your dishonour."
"I don't misunderstand you, my dear," said she, "so much as I am
afraid you misunderstand yourself. What is it you fear?—you mention
not force, but snares. Is not this to confess, at least, that you have
some doubt of my understanding? do you then really imagine me so weak
as to be cheated of my virtue?—am I to be deceived into an affection
for a man before I perceive the least inward hint of my danger? No,
Mr. Booth, believe me, a woman must be a fool indeed who can have in
earnest such an excuse for her actions. I have not, I think, any very
high opinion of my judgment, but so far I shall rely upon it, that no
man breathing could have any such designs as you have apprehended
without my immediately seeing them; and how I should then act I hope
my whole conduct to you hath sufficiently declared."
"Well, my dear," cries Booth, "I beg you will mention it no more; if
possible, forget it. I hope, nay, I believe, I have been in the wrong;
pray forgive me."
"I will, I do forgive you, my dear," said she, "if forgiveness be a
proper word for one whom you have rather made miserable than angry;
but let me entreat you to banish for ever all such suspicions from
your mind. I hope Mrs. Ellison hath not discovered the real cause of
your passion; but, poor woman, if she had, I am convinced it would go
no farther. Oh, Heavens! I would not for the world it should reach his
lordship's ears. You would lose the best friend that ever man had.
Nay, I would not for his own sake, poor man; for I really believe it
would affect him greatly, and I must, I cannot help having an esteem
for so much goodness. An esteem which, by this dear hand," said she,
taking Booth's hand and kissing it, "no man alive shall ever obtain by
making love to me."
Booth caught her in his arms and tenderly embraced her. After which
the reconciliation soon became complete; and Booth, in the
contemplation of his happiness, entirely buried all his jealous
A chapter in which there is much learning.
The next morning, whilst Booth was gone to take his morning walk,
Amelia went down into Mrs. Ellison's apartment, where, though she was
received with great civility, yet she found that lady was not at all
pleased with Mr. Booth; and, by some hints which dropt from her in
conversation, Amelia very greatly apprehended that Mrs. Ellison had
too much suspicion of her husband's real uneasiness; for that lady
declared very openly she could not help perceiving what sort of man
Mr. Booth was: "And though I have the greatest regard for you, madam,
in the world," said she, "yet I think myself in honour obliged not to
impose on his lordship, who, I know very well, hath conceived his
greatest liking to the captain on my telling him that he was the best
husband in the world."
Amelia's fears gave her much disturbance, and when her husband
returned she acquainted him with them; upon which occasion, as it was
natural, she resumed a little the topic of their former discourse, nor
could she help casting, though in very gentle terms, some slight blame
on Booth for having entertained a suspicion which, she said, might in
its consequence very possibly prove their ruin, and occasion the loss
of his lordship's friendship.
Booth became highly affected with what his wife said, and the more, as
he had just received a note from Colonel James, informing him that the
colonel had heard of a vacant company in the regiment which Booth had
mentioned to him, and that he had been with his lordship about it, who
had promised to use his utmost interest to obtain him the command.
The poor man now exprest the utmost concern for his yesterday's
behaviour, said "he believed the devil had taken possession of him,"
and concluded with crying out, "Sure I was born, my dearest creature,
to be your torment."
Amelia no sooner saw her husband's distress than she instantly forbore
whatever might seem likely to aggravate it, and applied herself, with
all her power, to comfort him. "If you will give me leave to offer my
advice, my dearest soul," said she, "I think all might yet be
remedied. I think you know me too well to suspect that the desire of
diversion should induce me to mention what I am now going to propose;
and in that confidence I will ask you to let me accept my lord's and
Mrs. Ellison's offer, and go to the masquerade. No matter how little
while I stay there; if you desire it I will not be an hour from you. I
can make an hundred excuses to come home, or tell a real truth, and
say I am tired with the place. The bare going will cure everything."
Amelia had no sooner done speaking than Booth immediately approved her
advice, and readily gave his consent. He could not, however, help
saying, that the shorter her stay was there, the more agreeable it
would be to him; "for you know, my dear," said he, "I would never
willingly be a moment out of your sight."
In the afternoon Amelia sent to invite Mrs. Ellison to a dish of tea;
and Booth undertook to laugh off all that had passed yesterday, in
which attempt the abundant good humour of that lady gave him great
hopes of success.
Mrs. Bennet came that afternoon to make a visit, and was almost an
hour with Booth and Amelia before the entry of Mrs. Ellison.
Mr. Booth had hitherto rather disliked this young lady, and had
wondered at the pleasure which Amelia declared she took in her
company. This afternoon, however, he changed his opinion, and liked
her almost as much as his wife had done. She did indeed behave at this
time with more than ordinary gaiety; and good humour gave a glow to
her countenance that set off her features, which were very pretty, to
the best advantage, and lessened the deadness that had usually
appeared in her complexion.
But if Booth was now pleased with Mrs. Bennet, Amelia was still more
pleased with her than ever. For, when their discourse turned on love,
Amelia discovered that her new friend had all the same sentiments on
that subject with herself. In the course of their conversation Booth
gave Mrs. Bennet a hint of wishing her a good husband, upon which both
the ladies declaimed against second marriages with equal vehemence.
Upon this occasion Booth and his wife discovered a talent in their
visitant to which they had been before entirely strangers, and for
which they both greatly admired her, and this was, that the lady was a
good scholar, in which, indeed, she had the advantage of poor Amelia,
whose reading was confined to English plays and poetry; besides which,
I think she had conversed only with the divinity of the great and
learned Dr Barrow, and with the histories of the excellent Bishop
Amelia delivered herself on the subject of second marriages with much
eloquence and great good sense; but when Mrs. Bennet came to give her
opinion she spoke in the following manner: "I shall not enter into the
question concerning the legality of bigamy. Our laws certainly allow
it, and so, I think, doth our religion. We are now debating only on
the decency of it, and in this light I own myself as strenuous an
advocate against it as any Roman matron would have been in those ages
of the commonwealth when it was held to be infamous. For my own part,
how great a paradox soever my opinion may seem, I solemnly declare, I
see but little difference between having two husbands at one time and
at several times; and of this I am very confident, that the same
degree of love for a first husband which preserves a woman in the one
case will preserve her in the other. There is one argument which I
scarce know how to deliver before you, sir; but—if a woman hath lived
with her first husband without having children, I think it
unpardonable in her to carry barrenness into a second family. On the
contrary, if she hath children by her first husband, to give them a
second father is still more unpardonable."
"But suppose, madam," cries Booth, interrupting her with a smile, "she
should have had children by her first husband, and have lost them?"
"That is a case," answered she, with a sigh, "which I did not desire
to think of, and I must own it the most favourable light in which a
second marriage can be seen. But the Scriptures, as Petrarch observes,
rather suffer them than commend them; and St Jerom speaks against them
with the utmost bitterness."—"I remember," cries Booth (who was
willing either to shew his learning, or to draw out the lady's), "a
very wise law of Charondas, the famous lawgiver of Thurium, by which
men who married a second time were removed from all public councils;
for it was scarce reasonable to suppose that he who was so great a
fool in his own family should be wise in public affairs. And though
second marriages were permitted among the Romans, yet they were at the
same time discouraged, and those Roman widows who refused them were
held in high esteem, and honoured with what Valerius Maximus calls the
Corona Pudicitiae. In the noble family of Camilli there was not, in
many ages, a single instance of this, which Martial calls adultery:
Quae toties nubit, non nubit; adultera lege est."
"True, sir," says Mrs. Bennet, "and Virgil calls this a violation of
chastity, and makes Dido speak of it with the utmost detestation:
Sed mihi vel Tellus optem prius ima dehiscat
Vel Pater omnipotens adigat me fulmine ad umbras,
Pallentes umbras Erebi, noctemque profundam,
Ante, fudor, quam te violo, aut tua jura resolvo.
Ille meos, primum qui me sibi junxit, amores,
Ille habeat semper secum, servetque Sepulchro."
She repeated these lines with so strong an emphasis, that she almost
frightened Amelia out of her wits, and not a little staggered Booth,
who was himself no contemptible scholar. He expressed great admiration
of the lady's learning; upon which she said it was all the fortune
given her by her father, and all the dower left her by her husband;
"and sometimes," said she, "I am inclined to think I enjoy more
pleasure from it than if they had bestowed on me what the world would
in general call more valuable."—She then took occasion, from the
surprize which Booth had affected to conceive at her repeating Latin
with so good a grace, to comment on that great absurdity (for so she
termed it) of excluding women from learning; for which they were
equally qualified with the men, and in which so many had made so
notable a proficiency; for a proof of which she mentioned Madam
Dacier, and many others.
Though both Booth and Amelia outwardly concurred with her sentiments,
it may be a question whether they did not assent rather out of
complaisance than from their real judgment.
Containing some unaccountable behaviour in Mrs. Ellison.
Mrs. Ellison made her entrance at the end of the preceding discourse.
At her first appearance she put on an unusual degree of formality and
reserve; but when Amelia had acquainted her that she designed to
accept the favour intended her, she soon began to alter the gravity of
her muscles, and presently fell in with that ridicule which Booth
thought proper to throw on his yesterday's behaviour.
The conversation now became very lively and pleasant, in which Booth
having mentioned the discourse that passed in the last chapter, and
having greatly complimented Mrs. Bennet's speech on that occasion,
Mrs. Ellison, who was as strenuous an advocate on the other side,
began to rally that lady extremely, declaring it was a certain sign
she intended to marry again soon. "Married ladies," cries she, "I
believe, sometimes think themselves in earnest in such declarations,
though they are oftener perhaps meant as compliments to their
husbands; but, when widows exclaim loudly against second marriages, I
would always lay a wager that the man, if not the wedding-day, is
absolutely fixed on."
Mrs. Bennet made very little answer to this sarcasm. Indeed, she had
scarce opened her lips from the time of Mrs. Ellison's coming into the
room, and had grown particularly grave at the mention of the
masquerade. Amelia imputed this to her being left out of the party, a
matter which is often no small mortification to human pride, and in a
whisper asked Mrs. Ellison if she could not procure a third ticket, to
which she received an absolute negative.
During the whole time of Mrs. Bennet's stay, which was above an hour
afterwards, she remained perfectly silent, and looked extremely
melancholy. This made Amelia very uneasy, as she concluded she had
guessed the cause of her vexation. In which opinion she was the more
confirmed from certain looks of no very pleasant kind which Mrs.
Bennet now and then cast on Mrs. Ellison, and the more than ordinary
concern that appeared in the former lady's countenance whenever the
masquerade was mentioned, and which; unfortunately, was the principal
topic of their discourse; for Mrs. Ellison gave a very elaborate
description of the extreme beauty of the place and elegance of the
When Mrs. Bennet was departed, Amelia could not help again soliciting
Mrs. Ellison for another ticket, declaring she was certain Mrs. Bennet
had a great inclination to go with them; but Mrs. Ellison again
excused herself from asking it of his lordship. "Besides, madam," says
she, "if I would go thither with Mrs. Bennet, which, I own to you, I
don't chuse, as she is a person whom nobody knows, I very much
doubt whether she herself would like it; for she is a woman of a very
unaccountable turn. All her delight lies in books; and as for public
diversions, I have heard her often declare her abhorrence of them."
"What then," said Amelia, "could occasion all that gravity from the
moment the masquerade was mentioned?"
"As to that," answered the other, "there is no guessing. You have seen
her altogether as grave before now. She hath had these fits of gravity
at times ever since the death of her husband."
"Poor creature!" cries Amelia; "I heartily pity her, for she must
certainly suffer a great deal on these occasions. I declare I have
taken a strange fancy to her."
"Perhaps you would not like her so well if you knew her thoroughly,"
answered Mrs. Ellison.—"She is, upon the whole, but of a whimsical
temper; and, if you will take my opinion, you should not cultivate too
much intimacy with her. I know you will never mention what I say; but
she is like some pictures, which please best at a distance."
Amelia did not seem to agree with these sentiments, and she greatly
importuned Mrs. Ellison to be more explicit, but to no purpose; she
continued to give only dark hints to Mrs. Bennet's disadvantage; and,
if ever she let drop something a little too harsh, she failed not
immediately to contradict herself by throwing some gentle
commendations into the other scale; so that her conduct appeared
utterly unaccountable to Amelia, and, upon the whole, she knew not
whether to conclude Mrs. Ellison to be a friend or enemy to Mrs.
During this latter conversation Booth was not in the room, for he had
been summoned down-stairs by the serjeant, who came to him with news
from Murphy, whom he had met that evening, and who assured the
serjeant that, if he was desirous of recovering the debt which he had
before pretended to have on Booth, he might shortly have an
opportunity, for that there was to be a very strong petition to the
board the next time they sat. Murphy said further that he need not
fear having his money, for that, to his certain knowledge, the captain
had several things of great value, and even his children had gold
This greatly alarmed Booth, and still more when the serjeant reported
to him, from Murphy, that all these things had been seen in his
possession within a day last past. He now plainly perceived, as he
thought, that Murphy himself, or one of his emissaries, had been the
supposed madman; and he now very well accounted to himself, in his own
mind, for all that had happened, conceiving that the design was to
examine into the state of his effects, and to try whether it was worth
his creditors' while to plunder him by law.
At his return to his apartment he communicated what he had heard to
Amelia and Mrs. Ellison, not disguising his apprehensions of the
enemy's intentions; but Mrs. Ellison endeavoured to laugh him out of
his fears, calling him faint-hearted, and assuring him he might depend
on her lawyer. "Till you hear from him," said she, "you may rest
entirely contented: for, take my word for it, no danger can happen to
you of which you will not be timely apprized by him. And as for the
fellow that had the impudence to come into your room, if he was sent
on such an errand as you mention, I heartily wish I had been at home;
I would have secured him safe with a constable, and have carried him
directly before justice Thresher. I know the justice is an enemy to
bailiffs on his own account."
This heartening speech a little roused the courage of Booth, and
somewhat comforted Amelia, though the spirits of both had been too
much hurried to suffer them either to give or receive much
entertainment that evening; which Mrs. Ellison perceiving soon took
her leave, and left this unhappy couple to seek relief from sleep,
that powerful friend to the distrest, though, like other powerful
friends, he is not always ready to give his assistance to those who
want it most.
Containing a very strange incident.
When the husband and wife were alone they again talked over the news
which the serjeant had brought; on which occasion Amelia did all she
could to conceal her own fears, and to quiet those of her husband. At
last she turned the conversation to another subject, and poor Mrs.
Bennet was brought on the carpet. "I should be sorry," cries Amelia,
"to find I had conceived an affection for a bad woman; and yet I begin
to fear Mrs. Ellison knows something of her more than she cares to
discover; why else should she be unwilling to be seen with her in
public? Besides, I have observed that Mrs. Ellison hath been always
backward to introduce her to me, nor would ever bring her to my
apartment, though I have often desired her. Nay, she hath given me
frequent hints not to cultivate the acquaintance. What do you think,
my dear? I should be very sorry to contract an intimacy with a wicked
"Nay, my dear," cries Booth. "I know no more of her, nor indeed hardly
so much as yourself. But this I think, that if Mrs. Ellison knows any
reason why she should not have introduced Mrs. Bennet into your
company, she was very much in the wrong in introducing her into it."
In discourses of this kind they past the remainder of the evening. In
the morning Booth rose early, and, going down-stairs, received from
little Betty a sealed note, which contained the following words:
Beware, beware, beware;
For I apprehend a dreadful snare
Is laid for virtuous innocence,
Under a friend's false pretence.
Booth immediately enquired of the girl who brought this note? and was
told it came by a chair-man, who, having delivered it, departed
without saying a word.
He was extremely staggered at what he read, and presently referred the
advice to the same affair on which he had received those hints from
Atkinson the preceding evening; but when he came to consider the words
more maturely he could not so well reconcile the two last lines of
this poetical epistle, if it may be so called, with any danger which
the law gave him reason to apprehend. Mr. Murphy and his gang could
not well be said to attack either his innocence or virtue; nor did
they attack him under any colour or pretence of friendship.
After much deliberation on this matter a very strange suspicion came
into his head; and this was, that he was betrayed by Mrs. Ellison. He
had, for some time, conceived no very high opinion of that good
gentlewoman, and he now began to suspect that she was bribed to betray
him. By this means he thought he could best account for the strange
appearance of the supposed madman. And when this conceit once had
birth in his mind, several circumstances nourished and improved it.
Among these were her jocose behaviour and raillery on that occasion,
and her attempt to ridicule his fears from the message which the
serjeant had brought him.
This suspicion was indeed preposterous, and not at all warranted by,
or even consistent with, the character and whole behaviour of Mrs.
Ellison, but it was the only one which at that time suggested itself
to his mind; and, however blameable it might be, it was certainly not
unnatural in him to entertain it; for so great a torment is anxiety to
the human mind, that we always endeavour to relieve ourselves from it
by guesses, however doubtful or uncertain; on all which occasions,
dislike and hatred are the surest guides to lead our suspicion to its
When Amelia rose to breakfast, Booth produced the note which he had
received, saying, "My dear, you have so often blamed me for keeping
secrets from you, and I have so often, indeed, endeavoured to conceal
secrets of this kind from you with such ill success, that I think I
shall never more attempt it." Amelia read the letter hastily, and
seemed not a little discomposed; then, turning to Booth with a very
disconsolate countenance, she said, "Sure fortune takes a delight in
terrifying us! what can be the meaning of this?" Then, fixing her eyes
attentively on the paper, she perused it for some time, till Booth
cried, "How is it possible, my Emily, you can read such stuff
patiently? the verses are certainly as bad as ever were written."—"I
was trying, my dear," answered she, "to recollect the hand; for I will
take my oath I have seen it before, and that very lately;" and
suddenly she cried out, with great emotion, "I remember it perfectly
now; it is Mrs. Bennet's hand. Mrs. Ellison shewed me a letter from
her but a day or two ago. It is a very remarkable hand, and I am
positive it is hers."
"If it be hers," cries Booth, "what can she possibly mean by the
latter part of her caution? sure Mrs. Ellison hath no intention to
"I know not what she means," answered Amelia, "but I am resolved to
know immediately, for I am certain of the hand. By the greatest luck
in the world, she told me yesterday where her lodgings were, when she
pressed me exceedingly to come and see her. She lives but a very few
doors from us, and I will go to her this moment."
Booth made not the least objection to his wife's design. His curiosity
was, indeed, as great as hers, and so was his impatience to satisfy
it, though he mentioned not this his impatience to Amelia; and perhaps
it had been well for him if he had.
Amelia, therefore, presently equipped herself in her walking dress,
and, leaving her children to the care of her husband, made all
possible haste to Mrs. Bennet's lodgings.
Amelia waited near five minutes at Mrs. Bennet's door before any one
came to open it; at length a maid servant appeared, who, being asked
if Mrs. Bennet was at home, answered, with some confusion in her
countenance, that she did not know; "but, madam," said she, "if you
will send up your name, I will go and see." Amelia then told her name,
and the wench, after staying a considerable time, returned and
acquainted her that Mrs. Bennet was at home. She was then ushered into
a parlour and told that the lady would wait on her presently.
In this parlour Amelia cooled her heels, as the phrase is, near a
quarter of an hour. She seemed, indeed, at this time, in the miserable
situation of one of those poor wretches who make their morning visits
to the great to solicit favours, or perhaps to solicit the payment of
a debt, for both are alike treated as beggars, and the latter
sometimes considered as the more troublesome beggars of the two.
During her stay here, Amelia observed the house to be in great
confusion; a great bustle was heard above-stairs, and the maid ran up
and down several times in a great hurry.
At length Mrs. Bennet herself came in. She was greatly disordered in
her looks, and had, as the women call it, huddled on her cloaths in
much haste; for, in truth, she was in bed when Amelia first came. Of
this fact she informed her, as the only apology she could make for
having caused her to wait so long for her company.
Amelia very readily accepted her apology, but asked her with a smile,
if these early hours were usual with her? Mrs. Bennet turned as red as
scarlet at the question, and answered, "No, indeed, dear madam. I am
for the most part a very early riser; but I happened accidentally to
sit up very late last night. I am sure I had little expectation of
your intending me such a favour this morning."
Amelia, looking very steadfastly at her, said, "Is it possible, madam,
you should think such a note as this would raise no curiosity in me?"
She then gave her the note, asking her if she did not know the hand.
Mrs. Bennet appeared in the utmost surprize and confusion at this
instant. Indeed, if Amelia had conceived but the slightest suspicion
before, the behaviour of the lady would have been a sufficient
confirmation to her of the truth. She waited not, therefore, for an
answer, which, indeed, the other seemed in no haste to give, but
conjured her in the most earnest manner to explain to her the meaning
of so extraordinary an act of friendship; "for so," said she, "I
esteem it, being convinced you must have sufficient reason for the
warning you have given me."
Mrs. Bennet, after some hesitation, answered, "I need not, I believe,
tell you how much I am surprized at what you have shewn me; and the
chief reason of my surprize is, how you came to discover my hand.
Sure, madam, you have not shewn it to Mrs. Ellison?"
Amelia declared she had not, but desired she would question her no
farther. "What signifies how I discovered it, since your hand it
"I own it is," cries Mrs. Bennet, recovering her spirits, "and since
you have not shewn it to that woman I am satisfied. I begin to guess
now whence you might have your information; but no matter; I wish I
had never done anything of which I ought to be more ashamed. No one
can, I think, justly accuse me of a crime on that account; and I thank
Heaven my shame will never be directed by the false opinion of the
world. Perhaps it was wrong to shew my letter, but when I consider all
circumstances I can forgive it."
"Since you have guessed the truth," said Amelia, "I am not obliged to
deny it. She, indeed, shewed me your letter, but I am sure you have
not the least reason to be ashamed of it. On the contrary, your
behaviour on so melancholy an occasion was highly praiseworthy; and
your bearing up under such afflictions as the loss of a husband in so
dreadful a situation was truly great and heroical."
"So Mrs. Ellison then hath shewn you my letter?" cries Mrs. Bennet
"Why, did not you guess it yourself?" answered Amelia; "otherwise I am
sure I have betrayed my honour in mentioning it. I hope you have not
drawn me inadvertently into any breach of my promise. Did you not
assert, and that with an absolute certainty, that you knew she had
shewn me your letter, and that you was not angry with her for so
"I am so confused," replied Mrs. Bennet, "that I scarce know what I
say; yes, yes, I remember I did say so—I wish I had no greater reason
to be angry with her than that."
"For Heaven's sake," cries Amelia, "do not delay my request any
longer; what you say now greatly increases my curiosity, and my mind
will be on the rack till you discover your whole meaning; for I am
more and more convinced that something of the utmost importance was
the purport of your message."
"Of the utmost importance, indeed," cries Mrs. Bennet; "at least you
will own my apprehensions were sufficiently well founded. O gracious
Heaven! how happy shall I think myself if I should have proved your
preservation! I will, indeed, explain my meaning; but, in order to
disclose all my fears in their just colours, I must unfold my whole
history to you. Can you have patience, madam, to listen to the story
of the most unfortunate of women?"
Amelia assured her of the highest attention, and Mrs. Bennet soon
after began to relate what is written in the seventh book of this
A very short chapter, and consequently requiring no preface.
Mrs. Bennet having fastened the door, and both the ladies having taken
their places, she once or twice offered to speak, when passion stopt
her utterance; and, after a minute's silence, she burst into a flood
of tears. Upon which Amelia, expressing the utmost tenderness for her,
as well by her look as by her accent, cried, "What can be the reason,
dear madam, of all this emotion?" "O, Mrs. Booth!" answered she, "I
find I have undertaken what I am not able to perform. You would not
wonder at my emotion if you knew you had an adulteress and a murderer
now standing before you."
Amelia turned pale as death at these words, which Mrs. Bennet
observing, collected all the force she was able, and, a little
composing her countenance, cried, "I see, madam, I have terrified you
with such dreadful words; but I hope you will not think me guilty of
these crimes in the blackest degree." "Guilty!" cries Amelia. "O
Heavens!" "I believe, indeed, your candour," continued Mrs. Bennet,
"will be readier to acquit me than I am to acquit myself.
Indiscretion, at least, the highest, most unpardonable indiscretion, I
shall always lay to ray own charge: and, when I reflect on the fatal
consequences, I can never, never forgive myself. "Here she again began
to lament in so bitter a manner, that Amelia endeavoured, as much as
she could (for she was herself greatly shocked), to soothe and comfort
her; telling her that, if indiscretion was her highest crime, the
unhappy consequences made her rather an unfortunate than a guilty
person; and concluded by saying—"Indeed, madam, you have raised my
curiosity to the highest pitch, and I beg you will proceed with your
Mrs. Bennet then seemed a second time going to begin her relation,
when she cried out, "I would, if possible, tire you with no more of my
unfortunate life than just with that part which leads to a catastrophe
in which I think you may yourself be interested; but I protest I am at
a loss where to begin."
"Begin wherever you please, dear madam," cries Amelia; "but I beg you
will consider my impatience." "I do consider it," answered Mrs.
Bennet; "and therefore would begin with that part of my story which
leads directly to what concerns yourself; for how, indeed, should my
life produce anything worthy your notice?" "Do not say so, madam,"
cries Amelia; "I assure you I have long suspected there were some very
remarkable incidents in your life, and have only wanted an opportunity
to impart to you my desire of hearing them: I beg, therefore, you
would make no more apologies." "I will not, madam," cries Mrs. Bennet,
"and yet I would avoid anything trivial; though, indeed, in stories of
distress, especially where love is concerned, many little incidents
may appear trivial to those who have never felt the passion, which, to
delicate minds, are the most interesting part of the whole." "Nay,
but, dear madam," cries Amelia, "this is all preface."
"Well, madam," answered Mrs. Bennet, "I will consider your
impatience." She then rallied all her spirits in the best manner she
could, and began as is written in the next chapter.
And here possibly the reader will blame Mrs. Bennet for taking her
story so far back, and relating so much of her life in which Amelia
had no concern; but, in truth, she was desirous of inculcating a good
opinion of herself, from recounting those transactions where her
conduct was unexceptionable, before she came to the more dangerous and
suspicious part of her character. This I really suppose to have been
her intention; for to sacrifice the time and patience of Amelia at
such a season to the mere love of talking of herself would have been
as unpardonable in her as the bearing it was in Amelia a proof of the
most perfect good breeding.
The beginning of Mrs. Bennet's history.
"I was the younger of two daughters of a clergyman in Essex; of one in
whose praise if I should indulge my fond heart in speaking, I think my
invention could not outgo the reality. He was indeed well worthy of
the cloth he wore; and that, I think, is the highest character a man
"During the first part of my life, even till I reached my sixteenth
year, I can recollect nothing to relate to you. All was one long
serene day, in looking back upon which, as when we cast our eyes on a
calm sea, no object arises to my view. All appears one scene of
happiness and tranquillity.
"On the day, then, when I became sixteen years old, must I begin my
history; for on that day I first tasted the bitterness of sorrow.
"My father, besides those prescribed by our religion, kept five
festivals every year. These were on his wedding-day, and on the
birthday of each of his little family; on these occasions he used to
invite two or three neighbours to his house, and to indulge himself,
as he said, in great excess; for so he called drinking a pint of very
small punch; and, indeed, it might appear excess to one who on other
days rarely tasted any liquor stronger than small beer.
"Upon my unfortunate birthday, then, when we were all in a high degree
of mirth, my mother having left the room after dinner, and staying
away pretty long, my father sent me to see for her. I went according
to his orders; but, though I searched the whole house and called after
her without doors, I could neither see nor hear her. I was a little
alarmed at this (though far from suspecting any great mischief had
befallen her), and ran back to acquaint my father, who answered coolly
(for he was a man of the calmest temper), 'Very well, my dear, I
suppose she is not gone far, and will be here immediately.' Half an
hour or more past after this, when, she not returning, my father
himself expressed some surprize at her stay; declaring it must be some
matter of importance which could detain her at that time from her
company. His surprize now encreased every minute, and he began to grow
uneasy, and to shew sufficient symptoms in his countenance of what he
felt within. He then despatched the servant-maid to enquire after her
mistress in the parish, but waited not her return; for she was scarce
gone out of doors before he begged leave of his guests to go himself
on the same errand. The company now all broke up, and attended my
father, all endeavouring to give him hopes that no mischief had
happened. They searched the whole parish, but in vain; they could
neither see my mother, nor hear any news of her. My father returned
home in a state little short of distraction. His friends in vain
attempted to administer either advice or comfort; he threw himself on
the floor in the most bitter agonies of despair.
"Whilst he lay in this condition, my sister and myself lying by him,
all equally, I believe, and completely miserable, our old servant-maid
came into the room and cried out, her mind misgave her that she knew
where her mistress was. Upon these words, my father sprung from the
floor, and asked her eagerly, where? But oh! Mrs. Booth, how can I
describe the particulars of a scene to you, the remembrance of which
chills my blood with horror, and which the agonies of my mind, when it
past, made all a scene of confusion! The fact then in short was this:
my mother, who was a most indulgent mistress to one servant, which was
all we kept, was unwilling, I suppose, to disturb her at her dinner,
and therefore went herself to fill her tea-kettle at a well, into
which, stretching herself too far, as we imagine, the water then being
very low, she fell with the tea-kettle in her hand. The missing this
gave the poor old wretch the first hint of her suspicion, which, upon
examination, was found to be too well grounded.
"What we all suffered on this occasion may more easily be felt than
described."—-"It may indeed," answered Amelia, "and I am so sensible
of it, that, unless you have a mind to see me faint before your face,
I beg you will order me something; a glass of water, if you please.
"Mrs. Bennet immediately complied with her friend's request; a glass
of water was brought, and some hartshorn drops infused into it; which
Amelia having drank off, declared she found herself much better; and
then Mrs. Bennet proceeded thus:—"I will not dwell on a scene which I
see hath already so much affected your tender heart, and which is as
disagreeable to me to relate as it can be to you to hear. I will
therefore only mention to you the behaviour of my father on this
occasion, which was indeed becoming a philosopher and a Christian
divine. On the day after my mother's funeral he sent for my sister and
myself into his room, where, after many caresses and every
demonstration of fatherly tenderness as well in silence as in words,
he began to exhort us to bear with patience the great calamity that
had befallen us; saying, 'That as every human accident, how terrible
soever, must happen to us by divine permission at least, a due sense
of our duty to our great Creator must teach us an absolute submission
to his will. Not only religion, but common sense, must teach us this;
for oh! my dear children,' cries he, 'how vain is all resistance, all
repining! could tears wash back again my angel from the grave, I
should drain all the juices of my body through my eyes; but oh, could
we fill up that cursed well with our tears, how fruitless would be all
our sorrow!'—I think I repeat you his very words; for the impression
they made on me is never to be obliterated. He then proceeded to
comfort us with the chearful thought that the loss was entirely our
own, and that my mother was greatly a gainer by the accident which we
lamented. 'I have a wife,' cries he, 'my children, and you have a
mother, now amongst the heavenly choir; how selfish therefore is all
our grief! how cruel to her are all our wishes!' In this manner he
talked to us near half an hour, though I must frankly own to you his
arguments had not the immediate good effect on us which they deserved,
for we retired from him very little the better for his exhortations;
however, they became every day more and more forcible upon our
recollection; indeed, they were greatly strengthened by his example;
for in this, as in all other instances, he practised the doctrines
which he taught. From this day he never mentioned my mother more, and
soon after recovered his usual chearfulness in public; though I have
reason to think he paid many a bitter sigh in private to that
remembrance which neither philosophy nor Christianity could expunge.
"My father's advice, enforced by his example, together with the
kindness of some of our friends, assisted by that ablest of all the
mental physicians, Time, in a few months pretty well restored my
tranquillity, when fortune made a second attack on my quiet. My
sister, whom I dearly loved, and who as warmly returned my affection,
had fallen into an ill state of health some time before the fatal
accident which I have related. She was indeed at that time so much
better, that we had great hopes of her perfect recovery; but the
disorders of her mind on that dreadful occasion so affected her body,
that she presently relapsed to her former declining state, and thence
grew continually worse and worse, till, after a decay of near seven
months, she followed my poor mother to the grave.
"I will not tire you, dear madam, with repetitions of grief; I will
only mention two observations which have occurred to me from
reflections on the two losses I have mentioned. The first is, that a
mind once violently hurt grows, as it were, callous to any future
impressions of grief, and is never capable of feeling the same pangs a
second time. The other observation is, that the arrows of fortune, as
well as all others, derive their force from the velocity with which
they are discharged; for, when they approach you by slow and
perceptible degrees, they have but very little power to do you
"The truth of these observations I experienced, not only in my own
heart, but in the behaviour of my father, whose philosophy seemed to
gain a complete triumph over this latter calamity.
"Our family was now reduced to two, and my father grew extremely fond
of me, as if he had now conferred an entire stock of affection on me,
that had before been divided. His words, indeed, testified no less,
for he daily called me his only darling, his whole comfort, his all.
He committed the whole charge of his house to my care, and gave me the
name of his little housekeeper, an appellation of which I was then as
proud as any minister of state can be of his titles. But, though I was
very industrious in the discharge of my occupation, I did not,
however, neglect my studies, in which I had made so great a
proficiency, that I was become a pretty good mistress of the Latin
language, and had made some progress in the Greek. I believe, madam, I
have formerly acquainted you, that learning was the chief estate I
inherited of my father, in which he had instructed me from my earliest
"The kindness of this good man had at length wiped off the remembrance
of all losses; and I during two years led a life of great
tranquillity, I think I might almost say of perfect happiness.
"I was now. in the nineteenth year of my age, when my father's good
fortune removed us from the county of Essex into Hampshire, where a
living was conferred on him by one of his old school-fellows, of twice
the value of what he was before possessed of.
"His predecessor in this new living had died in very indifferent
circumstances, and had left behind him a widow with two small
children. My father, therefore, who, with great economy, had a most
generous soul, bought the whole furniture of the parsonage-house at a
very high price; some of it, indeed, he would have wanted; for, though
our little habitation in Essex was most completely furnished, yet it
bore no proportion to the largeness of that house in which he was now
"His motive, however, to the purchase was, I am convinced, solely
generosity; which appeared sufficiently by the price he gave, and may
be farther inforced by the kindness he shewed the widow in another
instance; for he assigned her an apartment for the use of herself and
her little family, which, he told her, she was welcome to enjoy as
long as it suited her conveniency.
"As this widow was very young, and generally thought to be tolerably
pretty, though I own she had a cast with her eyes which I never liked,
my father, you may suppose, acted from a less noble principle than I
have hinted; but I must in justice acquit him, for these kind offers
were made her before ever he had seen her face; and I have the
greatest reason to think that, for a long time after he had seen her,
he beheld her with much indifference.
"This act of my father's gave me, when I first heard it, great
satisfaction; for I may at least, with the modesty of the ancient
philosophers, call myself a lover of generosity, but when I became
acquainted with the widow I was still more delighted with what my
father had done; for though I could not agree with those who thought
her a consummate beauty, I must allow that she was very fully
possessed of the power of making herself agreeable; and this power she
exerted with so much success, with such indefatigable industry to
oblige, that within three months I became in the highest manner
pleased with my new acquaintance, and had contracted the most sincere
friendship for her.
"But, if I was so pleased with the widow, my father was by this time
enamoured of her. She had, indeed, by the most artful conduct in the
world, so insinuated herself into his favour, so entirely infatuated
him, that he never shewed the least marks of chearfulness in her
absence, and could, in truth, scarce bear that she should be out of
"She had managed this matter so well (O, she is the most artful of
women!) that my father's heart was gone before I ever suspected it was
in danger. The discovery you may easily believe, madam, was not
pleasing. The name of a mother-in-law sounded dreadful in my ears; nor
could I bear the thought of parting again with a share in those dear
affections, of which I had purchased the whole by the loss of a
beloved mother and sister.
"In the first hurry and disorder of my mind on this occasion I
committed a crime of the highest kind against all the laws of prudence
and discretion. I took the young lady herself very roundly to task,
treated her designs on my father as little better than a design to
commit a theft, and in my passion, I believe, said she might be
ashamed to think of marrying a man old enough to be her grandfather;
for so in reality he almost was.
"The lady on this occasion acted finely the part of a hypocrite. She
affected to be highly affronted at my unjust suspicions, as she called
them; and proceeded to such asseverations of her innocence, that she
almost brought me to discredit the evidence of my own eyes and ears.
"My father, however, acted much more honestly, for he fell the next
day into a more violent passion with me than I had ever seen him in
before, and asked me whether I intended to return his paternal
fondness by assuming the right of controlling his inclinations? with
more of the like kind, which fully convinced me what had passed
between him and the lady, and how little I had injured her in my
"Hitherto, I frankly own, my aversion to this match had been
principally on my own account; for I had no ill opinion of the woman,
though I thought neither her circumstances nor my father's age
promised any kind of felicity from such an union; but now I learnt
some particulars, which, had not our quarrel become public in the
parish, I should perhaps have never known. In short, I was Informed
that this gentle obliging creature, as she had at first appeared to
me, had the spirit of a tigress, and was by many believed to have
broken the heart of her first husband.
"The truth of this matter being confirmed to me upon examination, I
resolved not to suppress it. On this occasion fortune seemed to favour
me, by giving me a speedy opportunity of seeing my father alone and in
good humour. He now first began to open his intended marriage, telling
me that he had formerly had some religious objections to bigamy, but
he had very fully considered the matter, and had satisfied himself of
its legality. He then faithfully promised me that no second marriage
should in the least impair his affection for me; and concluded with
the highest eulogiums on the goodness of the widow, protesting that it
was her virtues and not her person with which he was enamoured.
"I now fell upon my knees before him, and bathing his hand in my
tears, which flowed very plentifully from my eyes, acquainted him with
all I had heard, and was so very imprudent, I might almost say so
cruel, to disclose the author of my information.
"My father heard me without any indication of passion, and answered
coldly, that if there was any proof of such facts he should decline
any further thoughts of this match: 'But, child,' said he, 'though I
am far from suspecting the truth of what you tell me, as far as
regards your knowledge, yet you know the inclination of the world to
slander.' However, before we parted he promised to make a proper
enquiry into what I had told him.—But I ask your pardon, dear madam,
I am running minutely into those particulars of my life in which you
have not the least concern."
Amelia stopt her friend short in her apology; and though, perhaps, she
thought her impertinent enough, yet (such was her good breeding) she
gave her many assurances of a curiosity to know every incident of her
life which she could remember; after which Mrs. Bennet proceeded as in
the next chapter.
Continuation of Mrs. Bennet's story.
"I think, madam," said Mrs. Bennet, "I told you my father promised me
to enquire farther into the affair, but he had hardly time to keep his
word; for we separated pretty late in the evening and early the next
morning he was married to the widow.
"But, though he gave no credit to my information, I had sufficient
reason to think he did not forget it, by the resentment which he soon
discovered to both the persons whom I had named as my informers.
"Nor was it long before I had good cause to believe that my father's
new wife was perfectly well acquainted with the good opinion I had of
her, not only from her usage of me, but from certain hints which she
threw forth with an air of triumph. One day, particularly, I remember
she said to my father, upon his mentioning his age, 'O, my dear! I
hope you have many years yet to live! unless, indeed, I should be so
cruel as to break your heart' She spoke these words looking me full in
the face, and accompanied them with a sneer in which the highest
malice was visible, under a thin covering of affected pleasantry.
"I will not entertain you, madam, with anything so common as the cruel
usage of a step-mother; nor of what affected me much more, the unkind
behaviour of a father under such an influence. It shall suffice only
to tell you that I had the mortification to perceive the gradual and
daily decrease of my father's affection. His smiles were converted
into frowns; the tender appellations of child and dear were exchanged
for plain Molly, that girl, that creature, and sometimes much harder
names. I was at first turned all at once into a cypher, and at last
seemed to be considered as a nuisance in the family.
"Thus altered was the man of whom I gave you such a character at the
entrance on my story; but, alas! he no longer acted from his own
excellent disposition, but was in everything governed and directed by
my mother-in-law. In fact, whenever there is great disparity of years
between husband and wife, the younger is, I believe, always possessed
of absolute power over the elder; for superstition itself is a less
firm support of absolute power than dotage.
"But, though his wife was so entirely mistress of my father's will
that she could make him use me ill, she could not so perfectly subdue
his understanding as to prevent him from being conscious of such ill-
usage; and from this consciousness, he began inveterately to hate me.
Of this hatred he gave me numberless instances, and I protest to you I
know not any other reason for it than what I have assigned; and the
cause, as experience hath convinced me, is adequate to the effect.
"While I was in this wretched situation, my father's unkindness having
almost broken ray heart, he came one day into my room with more anger
in his countenance than I had ever seen, and, after bitterly
upbraiding me with my undutiful behaviour both to himself and his
worthy consort, he bid me pack up my alls, and immediately prepare to
quit his house; at the same time gave me a letter, and told me that
would acquaint me where I might find a home; adding that he doubted
not but I expected, and had indeed solicited, the invitation; and left
me with a declaration that he would have no spies in his family.
"The letter, I found on opening it, was from my father's own sister;
but before I mention the contents I will give you a short sketch of
her character, as it was somewhat particular. Her personal charms were
not great; for she was very tall, very thin, and very homely. Of the
defect of her beauty she was, perhaps, sensible; her vanity,
therefore, retreated into her mind, where there is no looking-glass,
and consequently where we can flatter ourselves with discovering
almost whatever beauties we please. This is an encouraging
circumstance; and yet I have observed, dear Mrs. Booth, that few women
ever seek these comforts from within till they are driven to it by
despair of finding any food for their vanity from without. Indeed, I
believe the first wish of our whole sex is to be handsome."
Here both the ladies fixed their eyes on the glass, and both smiled.
"My aunt, however," continued Mrs. Bennet, "from despair of gaining
any applause this way, had applied herself entirely to the
contemplation of her understanding, and had improved this to such a
pitch, that at the age of fifty, at which she was now arrived, she had
contracted a hearty contempt for much the greater part of both sexes;
for the women, as being idiots, and for the men, as the admirers of
idiots. That word, and fool, were almost constantly in her mouth, and
were bestowed with great liberality among all her acquaintance.
"This lady had spent one day only at my father's house in near two
years; it was about a month before his second marriage. At her
departure she took occasion to whisper me her opinion of the widow,
whom she called a pretty idiot, and wondered how her brother could
bear such company under his roof; for neither she nor I had at that
time any suspicion of what afterwards happened.
"The letter which my father had just received, and which was the first
she had sent him since his marriage, was of such a nature that I
should be unjust if I blamed him for being offended; fool and idiot
were both plentifully bestowed in it as well on himself as on his
wife. But what, perhaps, had principally offended him was that part
which related to me; for, after much panegyric on my understanding,
and saying he was unworthy of such a daughter, she considered his
match not only as the highest indiscretion as it related to himself,
but as a downright act of injustice to me. One expression in it I
shall never forget. 'You have placed,' said she, 'a woman above your
daughter, who, in understanding, the only valuable gift of nature, is
the lowest in the whole class of pretty idiots.' After much more of
this kind, it concluded with inviting me to her house.
"I can truly say that when I had read the letter I entirely forgave my
father's suspicion that I had made some complaints to my aunt of his
behaviour; for, though I was indeed innocent, there was surely colour
enough to suspect the contrary.
"Though I had never been greatly attached to my aunt, nor indeed had
she formerly given me any reason for such an attachment, yet I was
well enough pleased with her present invitation. To say the truth, I
led so wretched a life where I then was, that it was impossible not to
be a gainer by any exchange.
"I could not, however, bear the thoughts of leaving my father with an
impression on his mind against me which I did not deserve. I
endeavoured, therefore, to remove all his suspicion of my having
complained to my aunt by the most earnest asseverations of my
innocence; but they were all to no purpose. All my tears, all my vows,
and all my entreaties were fruitless. My new mother, indeed, appeared
to be my advocate; but she acted her part very poorly, and, far from
counterfeiting any desire of succeeding in my suit, she could not
conceal the excessive joy which she felt on the occasion.
"Well, madam, the next day I departed for my aunt's, where, after a
long journey of forty miles, I arrived, without having once broke my
fast on the road; for grief is as capable as food of filling the
stomach, and I had too much of the former to admit any of the latter.
The fatigue of my journey, and the agitation of my mind, joined to my
fasting, so overpowered my spirits, that when I was taken from my
horse I immediately fainted away in the arms of the man who helped me
from my saddle. My aunt expressed great astonishment at seeing me in
this condition, with my eyes almost swollen out of my head with tears;
but my father's letter, which I delivered her soon after I came to
myself, pretty well, I believe, cured her surprize. She often smiled
with a mixture of contempt and anger while she was reading it; and,
having pronounced her brother to be a fool, she turned to me, and,
with as much affability as possible (for she is no great mistress of
affability), said, 'Don't be uneasy, dear Molly, for you are come to
the house of a friend—of one who hath sense enough to discern the
author of all the mischief: depend upon it, child, I will, ere long,
make some people ashamed of their folly.' This kind reception gave me
some comfort, my aunt assuring me that she would convince him how
unjustly he had accused me of having made any complaints to her. A
paper war was now begun between these two, which not only fixed an
irreconcileable hatred between them, but confirmed my father's
displeasure against me; and, in the end, I believe, did me no service
with my aunt; for I was considered by both as the cause of their
dissension, though, in fact, my stepmother, who very well knew the
affection my aunt had for her, had long since done her business with
my father; and as for my aunt's affection towards him, it had been
abating several years, from an apprehension that he did not pay
sufficient deference to her understanding.
"I had lived about half a year with my aunt when I heard of my
stepmother's being delivered of a boy, and the great joy my father
expressed on that occasion; but, poor man, he lived not long to enjoy
his happiness; for within a month afterwards I had the melancholy news
of his death.
"Notwithstanding all the disobligations I had lately received from
him, I was sincerely afflicted at my loss of him. All his kindness to
me in my infancy, all his kindness to me while I was growing up,
recurred to my memory, raised a thousand tender, melancholy ideas, and
totally obliterated all thoughts of his latter behaviour, for which I
made also every allowance and every excuse in my power.
"But what may perhaps appear more extraordinary, my aunt began soon to
speak of him with concern. She said he had some understanding
formerly, though his passion for that vile woman had, in a great
measure, obscured it; and one day, when she was in an ill-humour with
me, she had the cruelty to throw out a hint that she had never
quarrelled with her brother if it had not been on my account. "My
father, during his life, had allowed my aunt very handsomely for my
board; for generosity was too deeply riveted in his nature to be
plucked out by all the power of his wife. So far, however, she
prevailed, that, though he died possessed of upwards of L2000, he left
me no more than L100, which, as he expressed in his will, was to set
me up in some business, if I had the grace to take to any.
"Hitherto my aunt had in general treated me with some degree of
affection; but her behaviour began now to be changed. She soon took an
opportunity of giving me to understand that her fortune was
insufficient to keep me; and, as I could not live on the interest of
my own, it was high time for me to consider about going into the
world. She added, that her brother having mentioned my setting up in
some business in his will was very foolish; that I had been bred to
nothing; and, besides, that the sum was too trifling to set me up in
any way of reputation; she desired me therefore to think of
immediately going into service.
"This advice was perhaps right enough; and I told her I was very ready
to do as she directed me, but I was at that time in an ill state of
health; I desired her therefore to let me stay with her till my
legacy, which was not to be paid till a year after my father's death,
was due; and I then promised to satisfy her for my board, to which she
"And now, madam," said Mrs. Bennet, sighing, "I am going to open to
you those matters which lead directly to that great catastrophe of my
life which hath occasioned my giving you this trouble, and of trying
your patience in this manner."
Amelia, notwithstanding her impatience, made a very civil answer to
this; and then Mrs. Bennet proceeded to relate what is written in the
"The curate of the parish where my aunt dwelt was a young fellow of
about four-and-twenty. He had been left an orphan in his infancy, and
entirely unprovided for, when an uncle had the goodness to take care
of his education, both at school and at the university. As the young
gentleman was intended for the church, his uncle, though he had two
daughters of his own, and no very large fortune, purchased for him the
next presentation of a living of near L200 a-year. The incumbent, at
the time of the purchase, was under the age of sixty, and in apparent
good health; notwithstanding which, he died soon after the bargain,
and long before the nephew was capable of orders; so that the uncle
was obliged to give the living to a clergyman, to hold it till the
young man came of proper age.
"The young gentleman had not attained his proper age of taking orders
when he had the misfortune to lose his uncle and only friend, who,
thinking he had sufficiently provided for his nephew by the purchase
of the living, considered him no farther in his will, but divided all
the fortune of which he died possessed between his two daughters;
recommending it to them, however, on his deathbed, to assist their
cousin with money sufficient to keep him at the university till he
should be capable of ordination.
"But, as no appointment of this kind was in the will, the young
ladies, who received about each, thought proper to disregard the last
words of their father; for, besides that both of them were extremely
tenacious of their money, they were great enemies to their cousin, on
account of their father's kindness to him; and thought proper to let
him know that they thought he had robbed them of too much already.
"The poor young fellow was now greatly distrest; for he had yet above
a year to stay at the university, without any visible means of
sustaining himself there.
"In this distress, however, he met with a friend, who had the good
nature to lend him the sum of twenty pounds, for which he only
accepted his bond for forty, and which was to be paid within a year
after his being possessed of his living; that is, within a year after
his becoming qualified to hold it.
"With this small sum thus hardly obtained the poor gentleman made a
shift to struggle with all difficulties till he became of due age to
take upon himself the character of a deacon. He then repaired to that
clergyman to whom his uncle had given the living upon the conditions
above mentioned, to procure a title to ordination; but this, to his
great surprize and mortification, was absolutely refused him.
"The immediate disappointment did not hurt him so much as the
conclusion he drew from it; for he could have but little hopes that
the man who could have the cruelty to refuse him a title would
vouchsafe afterwards to deliver up to him a living of so considerable
a value; nor was it long before this worthy incumbent told him plainly
that he valued his uncle's favours at too high a rate to part with
them to any one; nay, he pretended scruples of conscience, and said
that, if he had made any slight promises, which he did not now well
remember, they were wicked and void; that he looked upon himself as
married to his parish, and he could no more give it up than he could
give up his wife without sin.
"The poor young fellow was now obliged to seek farther for a title,
which, at length, he obtained from the rector of the parish where my
"He had not long been settled in the curacy before an intimate
acquaintance grew between him and my aunt; for she was a great admirer
of the clergy, and used frequently to say they were the only
conversible creatures in the country.
"The first time she was in this gentleman's company was at a
neighbour's christening, where she stood godmother. Here she displayed
her whole little stock of knowledge, in order to captivate Mr. Bennet
(I suppose, madam, you already guess that to have been his name), and
before they parted gave him a very strong invitation to her house.
"Not a word passed at this christening between Mr. Bennet and myself,
but our eyes were not unemployed. Here, madam, I first felt a pleasing
kind of confusion, which I know not how to describe. I felt a kind of
uneasiness, yet did not wish to be without it. I longed to be alone,
yet dreaded the hour of parting. I could not keep my eyes off from the
object which caused my confusion, and which I was at once afraid of
and enamoured with. But why do I attempt to describe my situation to
one who must, I am sure, have felt the same?"
Amelia smiled, and Mrs. Bennet went on thus: "O, Mrs. Booth! had you
seen the person of whom I am now speaking, you would not condemn the
suddenness of my love. Nay, indeed, I had seen him there before,
though this was the first time I had ever heard the music of his
voice. Oh! it was the sweetest that was ever heard.
"Mr. Bennet came to visit my aunt the very next day. She imputed this
respectful haste to the powerful charms of her understanding, and
resolved to lose no opportunity in improving the opinion which she
imagined he had conceived of her. She became by this desire quite
ridiculous, and ran into absurdities and a gallimatia scarce credible.
"Mr. Bennet, as I afterwards found, saw her in the same light with
myself; but, as he was a very sensible and well-bred man, he so well
concealed his opinion from us both, that I was almost angry, and she
was pleased even to raptures, declaring herself charmed with his
understanding, though, indeed, he had said very little; but I believe
he heard himself into her good opinion, while he gazed himself into
"The two first visits which Mr. Bennet made to my aunt, though I was
in the room all the time, I never spoke a word; but on the third, on
some argument which arose between them, Mr. Bennet referred himself to
me. I took his side of the question, as indeed I must to have done
justice, and repeated two or three words of Latin. My aunt reddened at
this, and exprest great disdain of my opinion, declaring she was
astonished that a man of Mr. Bennet's understanding could appeal to
the judgment of a silly girl; 'Is she,' said my aunt, bridling
herself, 'fit to decide between us?' Mr. Bennet spoke very favourably
of what I had said; upon which my aunt burst almost into a rage,
treated me with downright scurrility, called me conceited fool, abused
my poor father for having taught me Latin, which, she said, had made
me a downright coxcomb, and made me prefer myself to those who were a
hundred times my superiors in knowledge. She then fell foul on the
learned languages, declared they were totally useless, and concluded
that she had read all that was worth reading, though, she thanked
heaven, she understood no language but her own.
"Before the end of this visit Mr. Bennet reconciled himself very well
to my aunt, which, indeed, was no difficult task for him to
accomplish; but from that hour she conceived a hatred and rancour
towards me which I could never appease.
"My aunt had, from my first coming into her house, expressed great
dislike to my learning. In plain truth, she envied me that advantage.
This envy I had long ago discovered, and had taken great pains to
smother it, carefully avoiding ever to mention a Latin word in her
presence, and always submitting to her authority; for indeed I
despised her ignorance too much to dispute with her. By these means I
had pretty well succeeded, and we lived tolerably together; but the
affront paid to her understanding by Mr. Bennet in my favour was an
injury never to be forgiven to me. She took me severely to task that
very evening, and reminded me of going to service in such earnest
terms as almost amounted to literally turning me out of doors;
advising me, in the most insulting manner, to keep my Latin to myself,
which she said was useless to any one, but ridiculous when pretended
to by a servant.
"The next visit Mr. Bennet made at our house I was not suffered to be
present. This was much the shortest of all his visits; and when he
went away he left my aunt in a worse humour than ever I had seen her.
The whole was discharged on me in the usual manner, by upbraiding me
with my learning, conceit, and poverty; reminding me of obligations,
and insisting on my going immediately to service. With all this I was
greatly pleased, as it assured me that Mr. Bennet had said something
to her in my favour; and I would have purchased a kind expression of
his at almost any price.
"I should scarce, however, have been so sanguine as to draw this
conclusion, had I not received some hints that I had not unhappily
placed my affections on a man who made me no return; for, though he
had scarce addressed a dozen sentences to me (for, indeed, he had no
opportunity), yet his eyes had revealed certain secrets to mine with
which I was not displeased.
"I remained, however, in a state of anxiety near a month; sometimes
pleasing myself with thinking Mr. Bennet's heart was in the same
situation with my own; sometimes doubting that my wishes had flattered
and deceived me, and not in the least questioning that my aunt was my
rival; for I thought no woman could be proof against the charms that
had subdued me. Indeed, Mrs. Booth, he was a charming young fellow; I
must—I must pay this tribute to his memory. O, gracious Heaven! why,
why did I ever see him? why was I doomed to such misery?" Here she
burst into a flood of tears, and remained incapable of speech for some
time; during which the gentle Amelia endeavoured all she could to
soothe her, and gave sufficient marks of sympathizing in the tender
affliction of her friend.
Mrs. Bennet, at length, recovered her spirits, and proceeded, as in
the next chapter.
The story of Mrs. Bennet continued.
I scarce know where I left off—Oh! I was, I think, telling you that I
esteemed my aunt as my rival; and it is not easy to conceive a greater
degree of detestation than I had for her; and what may, perhaps,
appear strange, as she daily grew more and more civil to me, my hatred
encreased with her civility; for I imputed it all to her triumph over
me, and to her having secured, beyond all apprehension, the heart I
"How was I surprized when, one day, with as much good-humour as she
was mistress of (for her countenance was not very pleasing), she asked
me how I liked Mr. Bennet? The question, you will believe, madam,
threw me into great confusion, which she plainly perceived, and,
without waiting for my answer, told me she was very well satisfied,
for that it did not require her discernment to read my thoughts in my
countenance. 'Well, child,' she said, 'I have suspected this a great
while, and I believe it will please you to know that I yesterday made
the same discovery in your lover.' This, I confess to you, was more
than I could well bear, and I begged her to say no more to me at that
time on that subject. 'Nay, child,' answered she, 'I must tell you
all, or I should not act a friendly part. Mr. Bennet, I am convinced,
hath a passion for you; but it is a passion which, I think, you should
not encourage. For, to be plain with you, I fear he is in love with
your person only. Now this is a love, child, which cannot produce that
rational happiness which a woman of sense ought to expect.' In short,
she ran on with a great deal of stuff about rational happiness, and
women of sense, and concluded with assuring me that, after the
strictest scrutiny, she could not find that Mr. Bennet had an adequate
opinion of my understanding; upon which she vouchsafed to make me many
compliments, but mixed with several sarcasms concerning my learning.
"I hope, madam, however," said she to Amelia, "you have not so bad an
opinion of my capacity as to imagine me dull enough to be offended
with Mr. Bennet's sentiments, for which I presently knew so well to
account. I was, indeed, charmed with his ingenuity, who had
discovered, perhaps, the only way of reconciling my aunt to those
inclinations which I now assured myself he had for me.
"I was not long left to support my hopes by my sagacity. He soon found
an opportunity of declaring his passion. He did this in so forcible
though gentle a manner, with such a profusion of fervency and
tenderness at once, that his love, like a torrent, bore everything
before it; and I am almost ashamed to own to you how very soon he
prevailed upon me to—to—in short, to be an honest woman, and to
confess to him the plain truth.
"When we were upon a good footing together he gave me a long relation
of what had past at several interviews with my aunt, at which I had
not been present. He said he had discovered that, as she valued
herself chiefly on her understanding, so she was extremely jealous of
mine, and hated me on account of my learning. That, as he had loved me
passionately from his first seeing me, and had thought of nothing from
that time but of throwing himself at my feet, he saw no way so open to
propitiate my aunt as that which he had taken by commending my beauty,
a perfection to which she had long resigned all claim, at the expense
of my understanding, in which he lamented my deficiency to a degree
almost of ridicule. This he imputed chiefly to my learning; on this
occasion he advanced a sentiment which so pleased my aunt that she
thought proper to make it her own; for I heard it afterwards more than
once from her own mouth. Learning, he said, had the same effect on the
mind that strong liquors have on the constitution; both tending to
eradicate all our natural fire and energy. His flattery had made such
a dupe of my aunt that she assented, without the least suspicion of
his sincerity, to all he said; so sure is vanity to weaken every
fortress of the understanding, and to betray us to every attack of the
"You will believe, madam, that I readily forgave him all he had said,
not only from that motive which I have mentioned, but as I was assured
he had spoke the reverse of his real sentiments. I was not, however,
quite so well pleased with my aunt, who began to treat me as if I was
really an idiot. Her contempt, I own, a little piqued me; and I could
not help often expressing my resentment, when we were alone together,
to Mr. Bennet, who never failed to gratify me by making her conceit
the subject of his wit; a talent which he possessed in the most
"This proved of very fatal consequence; for one day, while we were
enjoying my aunt in a very thick arbour in the garden, she stole upon
us unobserved, and overheard our whole conversation. I wish, my dear,
you understood Latin, that I might repeat you a sentence in which the
rage of a tigress that hath lost her young is described. No English
poet, as I remember, hath come up to it; nor am I myself equal to the
undertaking. She burst in upon us, open-mouthed, and after discharging
every abusive word almost, in the only language she understood, on
poor Mr. Bennet, turned us both out of doors, declaring she would send
my rags after me, but would never more permit me to set my foot within
"Consider, dear madam, to what a wretched condition we were now
reduced. I had not yet received the small legacy left me by my father;
nor was Mr. Bennet master of five pounds in the whole world.
"In this situation, the man I doated on to distraction had but little
difficulty to persuade me to a proposal which, indeed, I thought
generous in him to make, as it seemed to proceed from that tenderness
for my reputation to which he ascribed it; indeed, it could proceed
from no motive with which I should have been displeased. In a word,
within two days we were man and wife.
"Mr. Bennet now declared himself the happiest of men; and, for my
part, I sincerely declared I envied no woman upon earth. How little,
alas! did I then know or suspect the price I was to pay for all my
joys! A match of real love is, indeed, truly paradise; and such
perfect happiness seems to be the forbidden fruit to mortals, which we
are to lament having tasted during the rest of our lives.
"The first uneasiness which attacked us after our marriage was on my
aunt's account. It was very disagreeable to live under the nose of so
near a relation, who did not acknowledge us, but on the contrary, was
ever doing us all the ill turns in her power, and making a party
against us in the parish, which is always easy enough to do amongst
the vulgar against persons who are their superiors in rank, and, at
the same time, their inferiors in fortune. This made Mr. Bennet think
of procuring an exchange, in which intention he was soon after
confirmed by the arrival of the rector. It was the rector's custom to
spend three months every year at his living, for which purpose he
reserved an apartment in his parsonage-house, which was full large
enough for two such little families as then occupied it. We at first
promised ourselves some little convenience from his boarding with us;
and Mr. Bennet began to lay aside his thoughts of leaving his curacy,
at least for some time. But these golden ideas presently vanished;
for, though we both used our utmost endeavours to please him, we soon
found the impossibility of succeeding. He was, indeed, to give you his
character in a word, the most peevish of mortals. This temper,
notwithstanding that he was both a good and a pious man, made his
company so insufferable that nothing could compensate it. If his
breakfast was not ready to a moment—if a dish of meat was too much or
too little done—in short, if anything failed of exactly hitting his
taste, he was sure to be out of humour all that day, so that, indeed,
he was scarce ever in a good temper a whole day together; for fortune
seems to take a delight in thwarting this kind of disposition, to
which human life, with its many crosses and accidents, is, in truth,
by no means fitted.
"Mr. Bennet was now, by my desire as well as his own, determined to
quit the parish; but when he attempted to get an exchange, he found it
a matter of more difficulty than he had apprehended; for the rector's
temper was so well known among the neighbouring clergy, that none of
them could be brought to think of spending three months in a year with
"After many fruitless enquiries, Mr. Bennet thought best to remove to
London, the great mart of all affairs, ecclesiastical and civil. This
project greatly pleased him, and he resolved, without more delay, to
take his leave of the rector, which he did in the most friendly manner
possible, and preached his farewell sermon; nor was there a dry eye in
the church, except among the few, whom my aunt, who remained still
inexorable, had prevailed upon to hate us without any cause.
"To London we came, and took up our lodging the first night at the inn
where the stage-coach set us down: the next morning my husband went
out early on his business, and returned with the good news of having
heard of a curacy, and of having equipped himself with a lodging in
the neighbourhood of a worthy peer, 'who,' said he, 'was my fellow-
collegiate; and, what is more, I have a direction to a person who will
advance your legacy at a very reasonable rate.'
"This last particular was extremely agreeable to me, for our last
guinea was now broached; and the rector had lent my husband ten pounds
to pay his debts in the country, for, with all his peevishness, he was
a good and a generous man, and had, indeed, so many valuable
qualities, that I lamented his temper, after I knew him thoroughly, as
much on his account as on my own.
"We now quitted the inn and went to our lodgings, where my husband
having placed me in safety, as he said, he went about the business of
the legacy with good assurance of success.
"My husband returned elated with his success, the person to whom he
applied having undertaken to advance the legacy, which he fulfilled as
soon as the proper enquiries could be made, and proper instruments
prepared for that purpose.
"This, however, took up so much time, that, as our fund was so very
low, we were reduced to some distress, and obliged to live extremely
penurious; nor would all do without my taking a most disagreeable way
of procuring money by pawning one of my gowns.
"Mr. Bennet was now settled in a curacy in town, greatly to his
satisfaction, and our affairs seemed to have a prosperous aspect, when
he came home to me one morning in much apparent disorder, looking as
pale as death, and begged me by some means or other to get him a dram,
for that he was taken with a sudden faintness and lowness of spirits.
"Frighted as I was, I immediately ran downstairs, and procured some
rum of the mistress of the house; the first time, indeed, I ever knew
him drink any. When he came to himself he begged me not to be alarmed,
for it was no distemper, but something that had vexed him, which had
caused his disorder, which he had now perfectly recovered.
"He then told me the whole affair. He had hitherto deferred paying a
visit to the lord whom I mentioned to have been formerly his fellow-
collegiate, and was now his neighbour, till he could put himself in
decent rigging. He had now purchased a new cassock, hat, and wig, and
went to pay his respects to his old acquaintance, who had received
from him many civilities and assistances in his learning at the
university, and had promised to return them fourfold hereafter.
"It was not without some difficulty that Mr. Bennet got into the
antechamber. Here he waited, or as the phrase is, cooled his heels,
for above an hour before he saw his lordship; nor had he seen him then
but by an accident; for my lord was going out when he casually
intercepted him in his passage to his chariot. He approached to salute
him with some familiarity, though with respect, depending on his
former intimacy, when my lord, stepping short, very gravely told him
he had not the pleasure of knowing him. How! my lord, said he, can you
have so soon forgot your old acquaintance Tom Bennet? O, Mr. Bennet!
cries his lordship, with much reserve, is it you? you will pardon my
memory. I am glad to see you, Mr. Bennet, but you must excuse me at
present, for I am in very great haste. He then broke from him, and
without more ceremony, or any further invitation, went directly into
"This cold reception from a person for whom my husband had a real
friendship, and from whom he had great reason to expect a very warm
return of affection, so affected the poor man, that it caused all
those symptoms which I have mentioned before.
"Though this incident produced no material consequence, I could not
pass it over in silence, as, of all the misfortunes which ever befel
him, it affected my husband the most. I need not, however, to a woman
of your delicacy, make any comments on a behaviour which, though I
believe it is very common, is, nevertheless, cruel and base beyond
description, and is diametrically opposite to true honour as well as
"To relieve the uneasiness which my husband felt on account of his
false friend, I prevailed with him to go every night, almost for a
fortnight together, to the play; a diversion of which he was greatly
fond, and from which he did not think his being a clergyman excluded
him; indeed, it is very well if those austere persons who would be
inclined to censure him on this head have themselves no greater sins
to answer for.
"From this time, during three months, we past our time very agreeably,
a little too agreeably perhaps for our circumstances; for, however
innocent diversions may be in other respects, they must be owned to be
expensive. When you consider then, madam, that our income from the
curacy was less than forty pounds a year, and that, after payment of
the debt to the rector, and another to my aunt, with the costs in law
which she had occasioned by suing for it, my legacy was reduced to
less than seventy pounds, you will not wonder that, in diversions,
cloaths, and the common expenses of life, we had almost consumed our
"The inconsiderate manner in which we had lived for some time will, I
doubt not, appear to you to want some excuse; but I have none to make
for it. Two things, however, now happened, which occasioned much
serious reflexion to Mr. Bennet; the one was, that I grew near my
time; the other, that he now received a letter from Oxford, demanding
the debt of forty pounds which I mentioned to you before. The former
of these he made a pretence of obtaining a delay for the payment of
the latter, promising, in two months, to pay off half the debt, by
which means he obtained a forbearance during that time.
"I was now delivered of a son, a matter which should in reality have
encreased our concern, but, on the contrary, it gave us great
pleasure; greater indeed could not have been conceived at the birth of
an heir to the most plentiful estate: so entirely thoughtless were we,
and so little forecast had we of those many evils and distresses to
which we had rendered a human creature, and one so dear to us, liable.
The day of a christening is, in all families, I believe, a day of
jubilee and rejoicing; and yet, if we consider the interest of that
little wretch who is the occasion, how very little reason would the
most sanguine persons have for their joy!
"But, though our eyes were too weak to look forward, for the sake of
our child, we could not be blinded to those dangers that immediately
threatened ourselves. Mr. Bennet, at the expiration of the two months,
received a second letter from Oxford, in a very peremptory stile, and
threatening a suit without any farther delay. This alarmed us in the
strongest manner; and my husband, to secure his liberty, was advised
for a while to shelter himself in the verge of the court.
"And, now, madam, I am entering on that scene which directly leads to
all my misery."—Here she stopped, and wiped her eyes; and then,
begging Amelia to excuse her for a few minutes, ran hastily out of the
room, leaving Amelia by herself, while she refreshed her spirits with
a cordial to enable her to relate what follows in the next chapter.
Mrs. Bennet, returning into the room, made a short apology for her
absence, and then proceeded in these words:
"We now left our lodging, and took a second floor in that very house
where you now are, to which we were recommended by the woman where we
had before lodged, for the mistresses of both houses were acquainted;
and, indeed, we had been all at the play together. To this new lodging
then (such was our wretched destiny) we immediately repaired, and were
received by Mrs. Ellison (how can I bear the sound of that detested
name?) with much civility; she took care, however, during the first
fortnight of our residence, to wait upon us every Monday morning for
her rent; such being, it seems, the custom of this place, which, as it
was inhabited chiefly by persons in debt, is not the region of credit.
"My husband, by the singular goodness of the rector, who greatly
compassionated his case, was enabled to continue in his curacy, though
he could only do the duty on Sundays. He was, however, sometimes
obliged to furnish a person to officiate at his expence; so that our
income was very scanty, and the poor little remainder of the legacy
being almost spent, we were reduced to some difficulties, and, what
was worse, saw still a prospect of greater before our eyes.
"Under these circumstances, how agreeable to poor Mr. Bennet must have
been the behaviour of Mrs. Ellison, who, when he carried her her rent
on the usual day, told him, with a benevolent smile, that he needed
not to give himself the trouble of such exact punctuality. She added
that, if it was at any time inconvenient to him, he might pay her when
he pleased. 'To say the truth,' says she, 'I never was so much pleased
with any lodgers in my life; I am convinced, Mr. Bennet, you are a
very worthy man, and you are a very happy one too; for you have the
prettiest wife and the prettiest child I ever saw' These, dear madam,
were the words she was pleased to make use of: and I am sure she
behaved to me with such an appearance of friendship and affection,
that, as I could not perceive any possible views of interest which she
could have in her professions, I easily believed them real.
"There lodged in the same house—O, Mrs. Booth! the blood runs cold to
my heart, and should run cold to yours, when I name him—there lodged
in the same house a lord—the lord, indeed, whom I have since seen in
your company. This lord, Mrs. Ellison told me, had taken a great fancy
to my little Charley. Fool that I was, and blinded by my own passion,
which made me conceive that an infant, not three months old, could be
really the object of affection to any besides a parent, and more
especially to a gay young fellow! But, if I was silly in being
deceived, how wicked was the wretch who deceived me—who used such
art, and employed such pains, such incredible pains, to deceive me! He
acted the part of a nurse to my little infant; he danced it, he lulled
it, he kissed it; declared it was the very picture of a nephew of his
—his favourite sister's child; and said so many kind and fond things
of its beauty, that I myself, though, I believe, one of the tenderest
and fondest of mothers, scarce carried my own ideas of my little
darling's perfection beyond the compliments which he paid it.
"My lord, however, perhaps from modesty, before my face, fell far
short of what Mrs. Ellison reported from him. And now, when she found
the impression which was made on me by these means, she took every
opportunity of insinuating to me his lordship's many virtues, his
great goodness to his sister's children in particular; nor did she
fail to drop some hints which gave me the most simple and groundless
hopes of strange consequences from his fondness to my Charley.
"When, by these means, which, simple as they may appear, were,
perhaps, the most artful, my lord had gained something more, I think,
than my esteem, he took the surest method to confirm himself in my
affection. This was, by professing the highest friendship for my
husband; for, as to myself, I do assure you he never shewed me more
than common respect; and I hope you will believe I should have
immediately startled and flown off if he had. Poor I accounted for all
the friendship which he expressed for my husband, and all the fondness
which he shewed to my boy, from the great prettiness of the one and
the great merit of the other; foolishly conceiving that others saw
with my eyes and felt with my heart. Little did I dream that my own
unfortunate person was the fountain of all this lord's goodness, and
was the intended price of it.
"One evening, as I was drinking tea with Mrs. Ellison by my lord's
fire (a liberty which she never scrupled taking when he was gone out),
my little Charley, now about half a year old, sitting in her lap, my
lord—accidentally, no doubt, indeed I then thought it so—came in. I
was confounded, and offered to go; but my lord declared, if he
disturbed Mrs. Ellison's company, as he phrased it, he would himself
leave the room. When I was thus prevailed on to keep my seat, my lord
immediately took my little baby into his lap, and gave it some tea
there, not a little at the expense of his embroidery; for he was very
richly drest; indeed, he was as fine a figure as perhaps ever was
seen. His behaviour on this occasion gave me many ideas in his favour.
I thought he discovered good sense, good nature, condescension, and
other good qualities, by the fondness he shewed to my child, and the
contempt he seemed to express for his finery, which so greatly became
him; for I cannot deny but that he was the handsomest and genteelest
person in the world, though such considerations advanced him not a
step in my favour.
"My husband now returned from church (for this happened on a Sunday),
and was, by my lord's particular desire, ushered into the room. My
lord received him with the utmost politeness, and with many
professions of esteem, which, he said, he had conceived from Mrs.
Ellison's representations of his merit. He then proceeded to mention
the living which was detained from my husband, of which Mrs. Ellison
had likewise informed him; and said, he thought it would be no
difficult matter to obtain a restoration of it by the authority of the
bishop, who was his particular friend, and to whom he would take an
immediate opportunity of mentioning it. This, at last, he determined
to do the very next day, when he invited us both to dinner, where we
were to be acquainted with his lordship's success.
"My lord now insisted on my husband's staying supper with him, without
taking any notice of me; but Mrs. Ellison declared he should not part
man and wife, and that she herself would stay with me. The motion was
too agreeable to me to be rejected; and, except the little time I
retired to put my child to bed, we spent together the most agreeable
evening imaginable; nor was it, I believe, easy to decide whether Mr.
Bennet or myself were most delighted with his lordship and Mrs.
Ellison; but this, I assure you, the generosity of the one, and the
extreme civility and kindness of the other, were the subjects of our
conversation all the ensuing night, during which we neither of us
closed our eyes.
"The next day at dinner my lord acquainted us that he had prevailed
with the bishop to write to the clergyman in the country; indeed, he
told us that he had engaged the bishop to be very warm in our
interest, and had not the least doubt of success. This threw us both
into a flow of spirits; and in the afternoon Mr. Bennet, at Mrs.
Ellison's request, which was seconded by his lordship, related the
history of our lives from our first acquaintance. My lord seemed much
affected with some tender scenes, which, as no man could better feel,
so none could better describe, than my husband. When he had finished,
my lord begged pardon for mentioning an occurrence which gave him such
a particular concern, as it had disturbed that delicious state of
happiness in which we had lived at our former lodging. 'It would be
ungenerous,' said he, 'to rejoice at an accident which, though it
brought me fortunately acquainted with two of the most agreeable
people in the world, was yet at the expense of your mutual felicity.
The circumstance, I mean, is your debt at Oxford; pray, how doth that
stand? I am resolved it shall never disturb your happiness hereafter.'
At these words the tears burst from my poor husband's eyes; and, in an
ecstasy of gratitude, he cried out, 'Your lordship overcomes me with
generosity. If you go on in this manner, both my wife's gratitude and
mine must be bankrupt' He then acquainted my lord with the exact state
of the case, and received assurances from him that the debt should
never trouble him. My husband was again breaking out into the warmest
expressions of gratitude, but my lord stopt him short, saying, 'If you
have any obligation, it is to my little Charley here, from whose
little innocent smiles I have received more than the value of this
trifling debt in pleasure.' I forgot to tell you that, when I offered
to leave the room after dinner upon my child's account, my lord would
not suffer me, but ordered the child to be brought to me. He now took
it out of my arms, placed it upon his own knee, and fed it with some
fruit from the dessert. In short, it would be more tedious to you than
to myself to relate the thousand little tendernesses he shewed to the
child. He gave it many baubles; amongst the rest was a coral worth at
least three pounds; and, when my husband was confined near a fortnight
to his chamber with a cold, he visited the child every day (for to
this infant's account were all the visits placed), and seldom failed
of accompanying his visit with a present to the little thing.
"Here, Mrs. Booth, I cannot help mentioning a doubt which hath often
arisen in my mind since I have been enough mistress of myself to
reflect on this horrid train which was laid to blow up my innocence.
Wicked and barbarous it was to the highest degree without any
question; but my doubt is, whether the art or folly of it be the more
conspicuous; for, however delicate and refined the art must be allowed
to have been, the folly, I think, must upon a fair examination appear
no less astonishing: for to lay all considerations of cruelty and
crime out of the case, what a foolish bargain doth the man make for
himself who purchases so poor a pleasure at so high a price!
"We had lived near three weeks with as much freedom as if we had been
all of the same family, when, one afternoon, my lord proposed to my
husband to ride down himself to solicit the surrender; for he said the
bishop had received an unsatisfactory answer from the parson, and had
writ a second letter more pressing, which his lordship now promised us
to strengthen by one of his own that my husband was to carry with him.
Mr. Bennet agreed to this proposal with great thankfulness, and the
next day was appointed for his journey. The distance was near seventy
"My husband set out on his journey, and he had scarce left me before
Mrs. Ellison came into my room, and endeavoured to comfort me in his
absence; to say the truth, though he was to be from me but a few days,
and the purpose of his going was to fix our happiness on a sound
foundation for all our future days, I could scarce support my spirits
under this first separation. But though I then thought Mrs. Ellison's
intentions to be most kind and friendly, yet the means she used were
utterly ineffectual, and appeared to me injudicious. Instead of
soothing my uneasiness, which is always the first physic to be given
to grief, she rallied me upon it, and began to talk in a very unusual
stile of gaiety, in which she treated conjugal love with much
"I gave her to understand that she displeased me by this discourse;
but she soon found means to give such a turn to it as made a merit of
all she had said. And now, when she had worked me into a good humour,
she made a proposal to me which I at first rejected—but at last
fatally, too fatally, suffered myself to be over-persuaded. This was
to go to a masquerade at Ranelagh, for which my lord had furnished her
At these words Amelia turned pale as death, and hastily begged her
friend to give her a glass of water, some air, or anything. Mrs.
Bennet, having thrown open the window, and procured the water, which
prevented Amelia from fainting, looked at her with much tenderness,
and cried, "I do not wonder, my dear madam, that you are affected with
my mentioning that fatal masquerade; since I firmly believe the same
ruin was intended for you at the same place; the apprehension of which
occasioned the letter I sent you this morning, and all the trial of
your patience which I have made since."
Amelia gave her a tender embrace, with many expressions of the warmest
gratitude; assured her she had pretty well recovered her spirits, and
begged her to continue her story, which Mrs. Bennet then did. However,
as our readers may likewise be glad to recover their spirits also, we
shall here put an end to this chapter.
The story farther continued.
Mrs. Bennet proceeded thus:
"I was at length prevailed on to accompany Mrs. Ellison to the
masquerade. Here, I must confess, the pleasantness of the place, the
variety of the dresses, and the novelty of the thing, gave me much
delight, and raised my fancy to the highest pitch. As I was entirely
void of all suspicion, my mind threw off all reserve, and pleasure
only filled my thoughts. Innocence, it is true, possessed my heart;
but it was innocence unguarded, intoxicated with foolish desires, and
liable to every temptation. During the first two hours we had many
trifling adventures not worth remembering. At length my lord joined
us, and continued with me all the evening; and we danced several
"I need not, I believe, tell you, madam, how engaging his conversation
is. I wish I could with truth say I was not pleased with it; or, at
least, that I had a right to be pleased with it. But I will disguise
nothing from you. I now began to discover that he had some affection
for me, but he had already too firm a footing in my esteem to make the
discovery shocking. I will—I will own the truth; I was delighted with
perceiving a passion in him, which I was not unwilling to think he had
had from the beginning, and to derive his having concealed it so long
from his awe of my virtue, and his respect to my understanding. I
assure you, madam, at the same time, my intentions were never to
exceed the bounds of innocence. I was charmed with the delicacy of his
passion; and, in the foolish thoughtless turn of mind in which I then
was, I fancied I might give some very distant encouragement to such a
passion in such a man with the utmost safety—that I might indulge my
vanity and interest at once, without being guilty of the least injury.
"I know Mrs. Booth will condemn all these thoughts, and I condemn them
no less myself; for it is now my stedfast opinion that the woman who
gives up the least outwork of her virtue doth, in that very moment,
betray the citadel.
"About two o'clock we returned home, and found a very handsome
collation provided for us. I was asked to partake of it, and I did
not, I could not refuse. I was not, however, entirely void of all
suspicion, and I made many resolutions; one of which was, not to drink
a drop more than my usual stint. This was, at the utmost, little more
than half a pint of small punch.
"I adhered strictly to my quantity; but in the quality I am convinced
I was deceived; for before I left the room I found my head giddy. What
the villain gave me I know not; but, besides being intoxicated, I
perceived effects from it which are not to be described.
"Here, madam, I must draw a curtain over the residue of that fatal
night. Let it suffice that it involved me in the most dreadful ruin; a
ruin to which I can truly say I never consented, and of which I was
scarce conscious when the villanous man avowed it to my face in the
"Thus I have deduced my story to the most horrid period; happy had I
been had this been the period of my life, but I was reserved for
greater miseries; but before I enter on them I will mention something
very remarkable, with which I was now acquainted, and that will shew
there was nothing of accident which had befallen me, but that all was
the effect of a long, regular, premeditated design.
"You may remember, madam, I told you that we were recommended to Mrs.
Ellison by the woman at whose house we had before lodged. This woman,
it seems, was one of my lord's pimps, and had before introduced me to
his lordship's notice.
"You are to know then, madam, that this villain, this lord, now
confest to me that he had first seen me in the gallery at the
oratorio, whither I had gone with tickets with which the woman where I
first lodged had presented me, and which were, it seems, purchased by
my lord. Here I first met the vile betrayer, who was disguised in a
rug coat and a patch upon his face."
At these words Amelia cried, "O, gracious heavens!" and fell back in
her chair. Mrs. Bennet, with proper applications, brought her back to
life; and then Amelia acquainted her that she herself had first seen
the same person in the same place, and in the same disguise. "O, Mrs.
Bennet!" cried she, "how am I indebted to you! what words, what
thanks, what actions can demonstrate the gratitude of my sentiments! I
look upon you, and always shall look upon you, as my preserver from
the brink of a precipice, from which I was falling into the same ruin
which you have so generously, so kindly, and so nobly disclosed for my
Here the two ladies compared notes; and it appeared that his
lordship's behaviour at the oratorio had been alike to both; that he
had made use of the very same words, the very same actions to Amelia,
which he had practised over before on poor unfortunate Mrs. Bennet. It
may, perhaps, be thought strange that neither of them could afterwards
recollect him; but so it was. And, indeed, if we consider the force of
disguise, the very short time that either of them was with him at this
first interview, and the very little curiosity that must have been
supposed in the minds of the ladies, together with the amusement in
which they were then engaged, all wonder will, I apprehend, cease.
Amelia, however, now declared she remembered his voice and features
perfectly well, and was thoroughly satisfied he was the same person.
She then accounted for his not having visited in the afternoon,
according to his promise, from her declared resolutions to Mrs.
Ellison not to see him. She now burst forth into some very satirical
invectives against that lady, and declared she had the art, as well as
the wickedness, of the devil himself.
Many congratulations now past from Mrs. Bennet to Amelia, which were
returned with the most hearty acknowledgments from that lady. But,
instead of filling our paper with these, we shall pursue Mrs. Bennet's
story, which she resumed as we shall find in the next chapter.
"No sooner," said Mrs. Bennet, continuing her story, "was my lord
departed, than Mrs. Ellison came to me. She behaved in such a manner,
when she became acquainted with what had past, that, though I was at
first satisfied of her guilt, she began to stagger my opinion, and at
length prevailed upon me entirely to acquit her. She raved like a mad
woman against my lord, swore he should not stay a moment in her house,
and that she would never speak to him more. In short, had she been the
most innocent woman in the world, she could not have spoke nor acted
any otherwise, nor could she have vented more wrath and indignation
against the betrayer.
"That part of her denunciation of vengeance which concerned my lord's
leaving the house she vowed should be executed immediately; but then,
seeming to recollect herself, she said, 'Consider, my dear child, it
is for your sake alone I speak; will not such a proceeding give some
suspicion to your husband?' I answered, that I valued not that; that I
was resolved to inform my husband of all the moment I saw him; with
many expressions of detestation of myself and an indifference for life
and for everything else.
"Mrs. Ellison, however, found means to soothe me, and to satisfy me
with my own innocence, a point in which, I believe, we are all easily
convinced. In short, I was persuaded to acquit both myself and her, to
lay the whole guilt upon my lord, and to resolve to conceal it from my
"That whole day I confined myself to my chamber and saw no person but
Mrs. Ellison. I was, indeed, ashamed to look any one in the face.
Happily for me, my lord went into the country without attempting to
come near me, for I believe his sight would have driven me to madness.
"The next day I told Mrs. Ellison that I was resolved to leave her
lodgings the moment my lord came to town; not on her account (for I
really inclined to think her innocent), but on my lord's, whose face I
was resolved, if possible, never more to behold. She told me I had no
reason to quit her house on that score, for that my lord himself had
left her lodgings that morning in resentment, she believed, of the
abuses Which she had cast on him the day before.
"This confirmed me in the opinion of her innocence; nor hath she from
that day to this, till my acquaintance with you, madam, done anything
to forfeit my opinion. On the contrary, I owe her many good offices;
amongst the rest, I have an annuity of one hundred and fifty pounds a-
year from my lord, which I know was owing to her solicitations, for
she is not void of generosity or good-nature; though by what I have
lately seen, I am convinced she was the cause of my ruin, and hath
endeavoured to lay the same snares for you.
"But to return to my melancholy story. My husband returned at the
appointed time; and I met him with an agitation of mind not to be
described. Perhaps the fatigue which he had undergone in his journey,
and his dissatisfaction at his ill success, prevented his taking
notice of what I feared was too visible. All his hopes were entirely
frustrated; the clergyman had not received the bishop's letter, and as
to my lord's he treated it with derision and contempt. Tired as he
was, Mr. Bennet would not sit down till he had enquired for my lord,
intending to go and pay his compliments. Poor man! he little suspected
that he had deceived him, as I have since known, concerning the
bishop; much less did he suspect any other injury. But the lord—the
villain was gone out of town, so that he was forced to postpone all
"Mr. Bennet returned to town late on the Saturday night, nevertheless
he performed his duty at church the next day, but I refused to go with
him. This, I think, was the first refusal I was guilty of since our
marriage; but I was become so miserable, that his presence, which had
been the source of all my happiness, was become my bane. I will not
say I hated to see him, but I can say I was ashamed, indeed afraid, to
look him in the face. I was conscious of I knew not what—guilt I hope
it cannot be called."
"I hope not, nay, I think not," cries Amelia.
"My husband," continued Mrs. Bennet, "perceived my dissatisfaction,
and imputed it to his ill-success in the country. I was pleased with
this self-delusion, and yet, when I fairly compute the agonies I
suffered at his endeavours to comfort me on that head, I paid most
severely for it. O, my dear Mrs. Booth! happy is the deceived party
between true lovers, and wretched indeed is the author of the deceit!
"In this wretched condition I passed a whole week, the most miserable
I think of my whole life, endeavouring to humour my husband's delusion
and to conceal my own tortures; but I had reason to fear I could not
succeed long, for on the Saturday night I perceived a visible
alteration in his behaviour to me. He went to bed in an apparent ill-
humour, turned sullenly from me, and if I offered at any endearments
he gave me only peevish answers.
"After a restless turbulent night, he rose early on Sunday morning and
walked down-stairs. I expected his return to breakfast, but was soon
informed by the maid that he was gone forth, and that it was no more
than seven o'clock. All this you may believe, madam, alarmed me. I saw
plainly he had discovered the fatal secret, though by what means I
could not divine. The state of my mind was very little short of
madness. Sometimes I thought of running away from my injured husband,
and sometimes of putting an end to my life.
"In the midst of such perturbations I spent the day. My husband
returned in the evening. O, Heavens! can I describe what followed?—It
is impossible! I shall sink under the relation. He entered the room
with a face as white as a sheet, his lips trembling and his eyes red
as coals of fire starting as it were from his head.—'Molly,' cries
he, throwing himself into his chair, 'are you well?' 'Good Heavens!'
says I, 'what's the matter?—Indeed I can't say I am well.' 'No!' says
he, starting from his chair, 'false monster, you have betrayed me,
destroyed me, you have ruined your husband!' Then looking like a fury,
he snatched off a large book from the table, and, with the malice of a
madman, threw it at my head and knocked me down backwards. He then
caught me up in his arms and kissed me with most extravagant
tenderness; then, looking me stedfastly in the face for several
moments, the tears gushed in a torrent from his eyes, and with his
utmost violence he threw me again on the floor, kicked me, stamped
upon me. I believe, indeed, his intent was to kill me, and I believe
he thought he had accomplished it.
"I lay on the ground for some minutes, I believe, deprived of my
senses. When I recovered myself I found my husband lying by my side on
his face, and the blood running from him. It seems, when he thought he
had despatched me, he ran his head with all his force against a chest
of drawers which stood in the room, and gave himself a dreadful wound
in his head.
"I can truly say I felt not the least resentment for the usage I had
received; I thought I deserved it all; though, indeed, I little
guessed what he had suffered from me. I now used the most earnest
entreaties to him to compose himself; and endeavoured, with my feeble
arms, to raise him from the ground. At length he broke from me, and,
springing from the ground, flung himself into a chair, when, looking
wildly at me, he cried—'Go from me, Molly. I beseech you, leave me. I
would not kill you.'—He then discovered to me—O Mrs. Booth! can you
not guess it?—I was indeed polluted by the villain—I had infected my
husband.—O heavens! why do I live to relate anything so horrid—I
will not, I cannot yet survive it. I cannot forgive myself. Heaven
cannot forgive me!"
Here she became inarticulate with the violence of her grief, and fell
presently into such agonies, that the frighted Amelia began to call
aloud for some assistance. Upon this a maid-servant came up, who,
seeing her mistress in a violent convulsion fit, presently screamed
out she was dead. Upon which one of the other sex made his appearance:
and who should this be but the honest serjeant? whose countenance soon
made it evident that, though a soldier, and a brave one too, he was
not the least concerned of all the company on this occasion.
The reader, if he hath been acquainted with scenes of this kind, very
well knows that Mrs. Bennet, in the usual time, returned again to the
possession of her voice: the first use of which she made was to
express her astonishment at the presence of the serjeant, and, with a
frantic air, to enquire who he was.
The maid, concluding that her mistress was not yet returned to her
senses, answered, "Why, 'tis my master, madam. Heaven preserve your
senses, madam!—Lord, sir, my mistress must be very bad not to know
What Atkinson thought at this instant, I will not say; but certain it
is he looked not over-wise. He attempted twice to take hold of Mrs.
Bennet's hand, but she withdrew it hastily, and presently after,
rising up from her chair, she declared herself pretty well again, and
desired Atkinson and the maid to withdraw. Both of whom presently
obeyed: the serjeant appearing by his countenance to want comfort
almost as much as the lady did to whose assistance he had been
It is a good maxim to trust a person entirely or not at all; for a
secret is often innocently blabbed out by those who know but half of
it. Certain it is that the maid's speech communicated a suspicion to
the mind of Amelia which the behaviour of the serjeant did not tend to
remove: what that is, the sagacious readers may likewise probably
suggest to themselves; if not, they must wait our time for disclosing
it. We shall now resume the history of Mrs. Bennet, who, after many
apologies, proceeded to the matters in the next chapter.
The conclusion of Mrs. Bennet's history.
"When I became sensible," cries Mrs. Bennet, "of the injury I had done
my husband, I threw myself at his feet, and embracing his knees, while
I bathed them with my tears, I begged a patient hearing, declaring, if
he was not satisfied with what I should say, I would become a willing
victim of his resentment, I said, and I said truly, that, if I owed my
death that instant to his hands, I should have no other terrour but of
the fatal consequence which it might produce to himself.
"He seemed a little pacified, and bid me say whatever I pleased.
"I then gave him a faithful relation of all that had happened. He
heard me with great attention, and at the conclusion cried, with a
deep sigh—'O Molly! I believe it all.—You must have been betrayed as
you tell me; you could not be guilty of such baseness, such cruelty,
such ingratitude.' He then—O! it is impossible to describe his
behaviour—he exprest such kindness, such tenderness, such concern for
the manner in which he had used me—I cannot dwell on this scene—I
shall relapse—you must excuse me."
Amelia begged her to omit anything which so affected her; and she
proceeded thus: "My husband, who was more convinced than I was of Mrs.
Ellison's guilt, declared he would not sleep that night in her house.
He then went out to see for a lodging; he gave me all the money he
had, and left me to pay her bill, and put up the cloaths, telling me,
if I had not money enough, I might leave the cloaths as a pledge; but
he vowed he could not answer for himself if he saw the face of Mrs.
"Words cannot scarce express the behaviour of that artful woman, it
was so kind and so generous. She said, she did not blame my husband's
resentment, nor could she expect any other, but that he and all the
world should censure her—that she hated her house almost as much as
we did, and detested her cousin, if possible, more. In fine, she said
I might leave my cloaths there that evening, but that she would send
them to us the next morning; that she scorned the thought of detaining
them; and as for the paultry debt, we might pay her whenever we
pleased; for, to do her justice, with all her vices, she hath some
good in her."
"Some good in her, indeed!" cried Amelia, with great indignation.
"We were scarce settled in our new lodgings," continued Mrs. Bennet,
"when my husband began to complain of a pain in his inside. He told me
he feared he had done himself some injury in his rage, and burst
something within him. As to the odious—I cannot bear the thought, the
great skill of his surgeon soon entirely cured him; but his other
complaint, instead of yielding to any application, grew still worse
and worse, nor ever ended till it brought him to his grave.
"O Mrs. Booth! could I have been certain that I had occasioned this,
however innocently I had occasioned it, I could never have survived
it; but the surgeon who opened him after his death assured me that he
died of what they called a polypus in his heart, and that nothing
which had happened on account of me was in the least the occasion of
"I have, however, related the affair truly to you. The first complaint
I ever heard of the kind was within a day or two after we left Mrs.
Ellison's; and this complaint remained till his death, which might
induce him perhaps to attribute his death to another cause; but the
surgeon, who is a man of the highest eminence, hath always declared
the contrary to me, with the most positive certainty; and this opinion
hath been my only comfort.
"When my husband died, which was about ten weeks after we quitted Mrs.
Ellison's, of whom I had then a different opinion from what I have
now, I was left in the most wretched condition imaginable. I believe,
madam, she shewed you my letter. Indeed, she did everything for me at
that time which I could have expected from the best of friends, She
supplied me with money from her own pocket, by which means I was
preserved from a distress in which I must have otherwise inevitably
"Her kindness to me in this season of distress prevailed on me to
return again to her house. Why, indeed, should I have refused an offer
so very convenient for me to accept, and which seemed so generous in
her to make? Here I lived a very retired life with my little babe,
seeing no company but Mrs. Ellison herself for a full quarter of a
year. At last Mrs. Ellison brought me a parchment from my lord, in
which he had settled upon me, at her instance, as she told me, and as
I believe it was, an annuity of one hundred and fifty pounds a-year.
This was, I think, the very first time she had mentioned his hateful
name to me since my return to her house. And she now prevailed upon
me, though I assure you not without some difficulty, to suffer him to
execute the deed in my presence.
"I will not describe our interview—I am not able to describe it, and
I have often wondered how I found spirits to support it. This I will
say for him, that, if he was not a real penitent, no man alive could
act the part better.
"Beside resentment, I had another motive of my backwardness to agree
to such a meeting; and this was—fear. I apprehended, and surely not
without reason, that the annuity was rather meant as a bribe than a
recompence, and that further designs were laid against my innocence;
but in this I found myself happily deceived; for neither then, nor at
any time since, have I ever had the least solicitation of that kind.
Nor, indeed, have I seen the least occasion to think my lord had any
"Good heavens! what are these men? what is this appetite which must
have novelty and resistance for its provocatives, and which is
delighted with us no longer than while we may be considered in the
light of enemies?"
"I thank you, madam," cries Amelia, "for relieving me from my fears on
your account; I trembled at the consequence of this second
acquaintance with such a man, and in such a situation."
"I assure you, madam, I was in no danger," returned Mrs. Bennet; "for,
besides that I think I could have pretty well relied on my own
resolution, I have heard since, at St Edmundsbury, from an intimate
acquaintance of my lord's, who was an entire stranger to my affairs,
that the highest degree of inconstancy is his character; and that few
of his numberless mistresses have ever received a second visit from
"Well, madam," continued she, "I think I have little more to trouble
you with; unless I should relate to you my long ill state of health,
from which I am lately, I thank Heaven, recovered; or unless I should
mention to you the most grievous accident that ever befel me, the loss
of my poor dear Charley." Here she made a full stop, and the tears ran
down into her bosom.
Amelia was silent a few minutes, while she gave the lady time to vent
her passion; after which she began to pour forth a vast profusion of
acknowledgments for the trouble she had taken in relating her history,
but chiefly for the motive which had induced her to it, and for the
kind warning which she had given her by the little note which Mrs.
Bennet had sent her that morning.
"Yes, madam," cries Mrs. Bennet, "I am convinced, by what I have
lately seen, that you are the destined sacrifice to this wicked lord;
and that Mrs. Ellison, whom I no longer doubt to have been the
instrument of my ruin, intended to betray you in the same manner. The
day I met my lord in your apartment I began to entertain some
suspicions, and I took Mrs. Ellison very roundly to task upon them;
her behaviour, notwithstanding many asseverations to the contrary,
convinced me I was right; and I intended, more than once, to speak to
you, but could not; till last night the mention of the masquerade
determined me to delay it no longer. I therefore sent you that note
this morning, and am glad you so luckily discovered the writer, as it
hath given me this opportunity of easing my mind, and of honestly
shewing you how unworthy I am of your friendship, at the same time
that I so earnestly desire it."
Being the last chapter of the seventh book.
Amelia did not fail to make proper compliments to Mrs. Bennet on the
conclusion of her speech in the last chapter. She told her that, from
the first moment of her acquaintance, she had the strongest
inclination to her friendship, and that her desires of that kind were
much increased by hearing her story. "Indeed, madam," says she, "you
are much too severe a judge on yourself; for they must have very
little candour, in my opinion, who look upon your case with any severe
eye. To me, I assure you, you appear highly the object of compassion;
and I shall always esteem you as an innocent and an unfortunate
Amelia would then have taken her leave, but Mrs. Bennet so strongly
pressed her to stay to breakfast, that at length she complied; indeed,
she had fasted so long, and her gentle spirits had been so agitated
with variety of passions, that nature very strongly seconded Mrs.
Whilst the maid was preparing the tea-equipage, Amelia, with a little
slyness in her countenance, asked Mrs. Bennet if serjeant Atkinson did
not lodge in the same house with her? The other reddened so extremely
at the question, repeated the serjeant's name with such hesitation,
and behaved so aukwardly, that Amelia wanted no further confirmation
of her suspicions. She would not, however, declare them abruptly to
the other, but began a dissertation on the serjeant's virtues; and,
after observing the great concern which he had manifested when Mrs.
Bennet was in her fit, concluded with saying she believed the serjeant
would make the best husband in the world, for that he had great
tenderness of heart and a gentleness of manners not often to be found
in any man, and much seldomer in persons of his rank.
"And why not in his rank?" said Mrs. Bennet. "Indeed, Mrs. Booth, we
rob the lower order of mankind of their due. I do not deny the force
and power of education; but, when we consider how very injudicious is
the education of the better sort in general, how little they are
instructed in the practice of virtue, we shall not expect to find the
heart much improved by it. And even as to the head, how very slightly
do we commonly find it improved by what is called a genteel education!
I have myself, I think, seen instances of as great goodness, and as
great understanding too, among the lower sort of people as among the
higher. Let us compare your serjeant, now, with the lord who hath been
the subject of conversation; on which side would an impartial judge
decide the balance to incline?"
"How monstrous then," cries Amelia, "is the opinion of those who
consider our matching ourselves the least below us in degree as a kind
"A most absurd and preposterous sentiment," answered Mrs. Bennet
warmly; "how abhorrent from justice, from common sense, and from
humanity—but how extremely incongruous with a religion which
professes to know no difference of degree, but ranks all mankind on
the footing of brethren! Of all kinds of pride, there is none so
unchristian as that of station; in reality, there is none so
contemptible. Contempt, indeed, may be said to be its own object; for
my own part, I know none so despicable as those who despise others."
"I do assure you," said Amelia, "you speak my own sentiments. I give
you my word, I should not be ashamed of being the wife of an honest
man in any station.—Nor if I had been much higher than I was, should
I have thought myself degraded by calling our honest serjeant my
"Since you have made this declaration," cries Mrs. Bennet, "I am sure
you will not be offended at a secret I am going to mention to you."
"Indeed, my dear," answered Amelia, smiling, "I wonder rather you have
concealed it so long; especially after the many hints I have given
"Nay, pardon me, madam," replied the other; "I do not remember any
such hints; and, perhaps, you do not even guess what I am going to
say. My secret is this; that no woman ever had so sincere, so
passionate a lover, as you have had in the serjeant."
"I a lover in the serjeant!—I!" cries Amelia, a little surprized.
"Have patience," answered the other;—"I say, you, my dear. As much
surprized as you appear, I tell you no more than the truth; and yet it
is a truth you could hardly expect to hear from me, especially with so
much good-humour; since I will honestly confess to you.—But what need
have I to confess what I know you guess already?—Tell me now
sincerely, don't you guess?"
"I guess, indeed, and hope," said she, "that he is your husband."
"He is, indeed, my husband," cries the other; "and I am most happy in
your approbation. In honest truth, you ought to approve my choice;
since you was every way the occasion of my making it. What you said of
him very greatly recommended him to my opinion; but he endeared
himself to me most by what he said of you. In short, I have discovered
that he hath always loved you with such a faithful, honest, noble,
generous passion, that I was consequently convinced his mind must
possess all the ingredients of such a passion; and what are these but
true honour, goodness, modesty, bravery, tenderness, and, in a word,
every human virtue?—Forgive me, my dear; but I was uneasy till I
became myself the object of such a passion."
"And do you really think," said Amelia, smiling, "that I shall forgive
you robbing me of such a lover? or, supposing what you banter me with
was true, do you really imagine you could change such a passion?"
"No, my dear," answered the other; "I only hope I have changed the
object; for be assured, there is no greater vulgar error than that it
is impossible for a man who loves one woman ever to love another. On
the contrary, it is certain that a man who can love one woman so well
at a distance will love another better that is nearer to him. Indeed,
I have heard one of the best husbands in the world declare, in the
presence of his wife, that he had always loved a princess with
adoration. These passions, which reside only in very amorous and very
delicate minds, feed only on the delicacies there growing; and leave
all the substantial food, and enough of the delicacy too, for the
The tea being now ready, Mrs. Bennet, or, if you please, for the
future, Mrs. Atkinson, proposed to call in her husband; but Amelia
objected. She said she should be glad to see him any other time, but
was then in the utmost hurry, as she had been three hours absent from
all she most loved. However, she had scarce drank a dish of tea before
she changed her mind; and, saying she would not part man and wife,
desired Mr. Atkinson might appear.
The maid answered that her master was not at home; which words she had
scarce spoken, when he knocked hastily at the door, and immediately
came running into the room, all pale and breathless, and, addressing
himself to Amelia, cried out, "I am sorry, my dear lady, to bring you
ill news; but Captain Booth"—"What! what!" cries Amelia, dropping the
tea-cup from her hand, "is anything the matter with him?"—"Don't be
frightened, my dear lady," said the serjeant: "he is in very good
health; but a misfortune hath happened."—" Are my children well?"
said Amelia.—"O, very well," answered the serjeant. "Pray, madam,
don't be frightened; I hope it will signify nothing—he is arrested,
but I hope to get him out of their damned hands immediately." "Where
is he?" cries Amelia; "I will go to him this instant!" "He begs you
will not," answered the serjeant. "I have sent his lawyer to him, and
am going back with Mrs. Ellison this moment; but I beg your ladyship,
for his sake, and for your own sake, not to go." "Mrs. Ellison! what
is Mrs. Ellison to do?" cries Amelia: "I must and will go." Mrs.
Atkinson then interposed, and begged that she would not hurry her
spirits, but compose herself, and go home to her children, whither she
would attend her. She comforted her with the thoughts that the captain
was in no immediate danger; that she could go to him when she would;
and desired her to let the serjeant return with Mrs. Ellison, saying
she might be of service, and that there was much wisdom, and no kind
of shame, in making use of bad people on certain occasions.
"And who," cries Amelia, a little come to herself, "hath done this
"One I am ashamed to name," cries the serjeant; "indeed I had always a
very different opinion of him: I could not have believed anything but
my own ears and eyes; but Dr Harrison is the man who hath done the
"Dr Harrison!" cries Amelia. "Well, then, there is an end of all
goodness in the world. I will never have a good opinion of any human
The serjeant begged that he might not be detained from the captain;
and that, if Amelia pleased to go home, he would wait upon her. But
she did not chuse to see Mrs. Ellison at this time; and, after a
little consideration, she resolved to stay where she was; and Mrs.
Atkinson agreed to go and fetch her children to her, it being not many
The serjeant then departed; Amelia, in her confusion, never having
once thought of wishing him joy on his marriage.
Being the first chapter of the eighth book.
The history must now look a little backwards to those circumstances
which led to the catastrophe mentioned at the end of the last book.
When Amelia went out in the morning she left her children to the care
of her husband. In this amiable office he had been engaged near an
hour, and was at that very time lying along on the floor, and his
little things crawling and playing about him, when a most violent
knock was heard at the door; and immediately a footman, running
upstairs, acquainted him that his lady was taken violently ill, and
carried into Mrs. Chenevix's toy-shop.
Booth no sooner heard this account, which was delivered with great
appearance of haste and earnestness, than he leapt suddenly from the
floor, and, leaving his children, roaring at the news of their
mother's illness, in strict charge with his maid, he ran as fast as
his legs could carry him to the place; or towards the place rather:
for, before he arrived at the shop, a gentleman stopt him full butt,
crying, "Captain, whither so fast?"—Booth answered eagerly, "Whoever
you are, friend, don't ask me any questions now."—"You must pardon
me, captain," answered the gentleman; "but I have a little business
with your honour—In short, captain, I have a small warrant here in my
pocket against your honour, at the suit of one Dr Harrison." "You are
a bailiff then?" says Booth. "I am an officer, sir," answered the
other. "Well, sir, it is in vain to contend," cries Booth; "but let me
beg you will permit me only to step to Mrs. Chenevix's—I will attend
you, upon my honour, wherever you please; but my wife lies violently
ill there." "Oh, for that matter," answered the bailiff, "you may set
your heart at ease. Your lady, I hope, is very well; I assure you she
is not there. You will excuse me, captain, these are only stratagems
of war. Bolus and virtus, quis in a hostess equirit?" "Sir, I
honour your learning," cries Booth, "and could almost kiss you for
what you tell me. I assure you I would forgive you five hundred
arrests for such a piece of news. Well, sir, and whither am I to go
with you?" "O, anywhere: where your honour pleases," cries the
bailiff. "Then suppose we go to Brown's coffee-house," said the
prisoner. "No," answered the bailiff, "that will not do; that's in the
verge of the court." "Why then, to the nearest tavern," said Booth.
"No, not to a tavern," cries the other, "that is not a place of
security; and you know, captain, your honour is a shy cock; I have
been after your honour these three months. Come, sir, you must go to
my house, if you please." "With all my heart," answered Booth, "if it
be anywhere hereabouts." "Oh, it is but a little ways off," replied
the bailiff; "it is only in Gray's-inn-lane, just by almost." He then
called a coach, and desired his prisoner to walk in.
Booth entered the coach without any resistance, which, had he been
inclined to make, he must have plainly perceived would have been
ineffectual, as the bailiff appeared to have several followers at
hand, two of whom, beside the commander in chief, mounted with him
into the coach. As Booth was a sweet-tempered man, as well as somewhat
of a philosopher, he behaved with all the good-humour imaginable, and
indeed, with more than his companions; who, however, shewed him what
they call civility, that is, they neither struck him nor spit in his
Notwithstanding the pleasantry which Booth endeavoured to preserve, he
in reality envied every labourer whom he saw pass by him in his way.
The charms of liberty, against his will, rushed on his mind; and he
could not avoid suggesting to himself how much more happy was the
poorest wretch who, without controul, could repair to his homely
habitation and to his family, compared to him, who was thus violently,
and yet lawfully, torn away from the company of his wife and children.
And their condition, especially that of his Amelia, gave his heart
many a severe and bitter pang.
At length he arrived at the bailiff's mansion, and was ushered into a
room in which were several persons. Booth desired to be alone; upon
which the bailiff waited on him up-stairs into an apartment, the
windows of which were well fortified with iron bars, but the walls had
not the least outwork raised before them; they were, indeed, what is
generally called naked; the bricks having been only covered with a
thin plaster, which in many places was mouldered away.
The first demand made upon Booth was for coach-hire, which amounted to
two shillings, according to the bailiff's account; that being just
double the legal fare. He was then asked if he did not chuse a bowl of
punch? to which he having answered in the negative, the bailiff
replied, "Nay, sir, just as you please. I don't ask you to drink, if
you don't chuse it; but certainly you know the custom; the house is
full of prisoners, and I can't afford gentlemen a room to themselves
Booth presently took this hint—indeed it was a pretty broad one—and
told the bailiff he should not scruple to pay him his price; but in
fact he never drank unless at his meals. "As to that, sir," cries the
bailiff, "it is just as your honour pleases. I scorn to impose upon
any gentleman in misfortunes: I wish you well out of them, for my
part. Your honour can take nothing amiss of me; I only does my duty,
what I am bound to do; and, as you says you don't care to drink
anything, what will you be pleased to have for dinner?"
Booth then complied in bespeaking a dish of meat, and told the bailiff
he would drink a bottle with him after dinner. He then desired the
favour of pen, ink, and paper, and a messenger; all which were
immediately procured him, the bailiff telling him he might send
wherever he pleased, and repeating his concern for Booth's
misfortunes, and a hearty desire to see the end of them.
The messenger was just dispatched with the letter, when who should
arrive but honest Atkinson? A soldier of the guards, belonging to the
same company with the serjeant, and who had known Booth at Gibraltar,
had seen the arrest, and heard the orders given to the coachman. This
fellow, accidentally meeting Atkinson, had acquainted him with the
At the appearance of Atkinson, joy immediately overspread the
countenance of Booth. The ceremonials which past between them are
unnecessary to be repeated. Atkinson was soon dispatched to the
attorney and to Mrs. Ellison, as the reader hath before heard from his
Booth now greatly lamented that he had writ to his wife. He thought
she might have been acquainted with the affair better by the serjeant.
Booth begged him, however, to do everything in his power to comfort
her; to assure her that he was in perfect health and good spirits; and
to lessen as much as possible the concern which he knew she would have
at the reading his letter.
The serjeant, however, as the reader hath seen, brought himself the
first account of the arrest. Indeed, the other messenger did not
arrive till a full hour afterwards. This was not owing to any slowness
of his, but to many previous errands which he was to execute before
the delivery of the letter; for, notwithstanding the earnest desire
which the bailiff had declared to see Booth out of his troubles, he
had ordered the porter, who was his follower, to call upon two or
three other bailiffs, and as many attorneys, to try to load his
prisoner with as many actions as possible.
Here the reader may be apt to conclude that the bailiff, instead of
being a friend, was really an enemy to poor Booth; but, in fact, he
was not so. His desire was no more than to accumulate bail-bonds; for
the bailiff was reckoned an honest and good sort of man in his way,
and had no more malice against the bodies in his custody than a
butcher hath to those in his: and as the latter, when he takes his
knife in hand, hath no idea but of the joints into which he is to cut
the carcase; so the former, when he handles his writ, hath no other
design but to cut out the body into as many bail-bonds as possible. As
to the life of the animal, or the liberty of the man, they are
thoughts which never obtrude themselves on either.
Containing an account of Mr. Booth's fellow-sufferers.
Before we return to Amelia we must detain our reader a little longer
with Mr. Booth, in the custody of Mr. Bondum the bailiff, who now
informed his prisoner that he was welcome to the liberty of the house
with the other gentlemen.
Booth asked who those gentlemen were. "One of them, sir," says Mr.
Bondum, "is a very great writer or author, as they call him; he hath
been here these five weeks at the suit of a bookseller for eleven
pound odd money; but he expects to be discharged in a day or two, for
he hath writ out the debt. He is now writing for five or six
booksellers, and he will get you sometimes, when he sits to it, a
matter of fifteen shillings a-day. For he is a very good pen, they
say, but is apt to be idle. Some days he won't write above five hours;
but at other times I have know him at it above sixteen." "Ay!" cries
Booth; "pray, what are his productions? What does he write?" "Why,
sometimes," answered Bondum, "he writes your history books for your
numbers, and sometimes your verses, your poems, what do you call them?
and then again he writes news for your newspapers." "Ay, indeed! he is
a most extraordinary man, truly!—How doth he get his news here?" "Why
he makes it, as he doth your parliament speeches for your magazines.
He reads them to us sometimes over a bowl of punch. To be sure it is
all one as if one was in the parliament-house—it is about liberty and
freedom, and about the constitution of England. I say nothing for my
part, for I will keep my neck out of a halter; but, faith, he makes it
out plainly to me that all matters are not as they should be. I am all
for liberty, for my part." "Is that so consistent with your calling?"
cries Booth. "I thought, my friend, you had lived by depriving men of
their liberty." "That's another matter," cries the bailiff; "that's
all according to law, and in the way of business. To be sure, men must
be obliged to pay their debts, or else there would be an end of
everything." Booth desired the bailiff to give him his opinion on
liberty. Upon which, he hesitated a moment, and then cried out, "O
'tis a fine thing, 'tis a very fine thing, and the constitution of
England." Booth told him, that by the old constitution of England he
had heard that men could not be arrested for debt; to which the
bailiff answered, that must have been in very bad times; "because as
why," says he, "would it not be the hardest thing in the world if a
man could not arrest another for a just and lawful debt? besides, sir,
you must be mistaken; for how could that ever be? is not liberty the
constitution of England? well, and is not the constitution, as a man
may say—whereby the constitution, that is the law and liberty, and
Booth had a little mercy upon the poor bailiff, when he found him
rounding in this manner, and told him he had made the matter very
clear. Booth then proceeded to enquire after the other gentlemen, his
fellows in affliction; upon which Bondum acquainted him that one of
the prisoners was a poor fellow. "He calls himself a gentleman," said
Bondum; "but I am sure I never saw anything genteel by him. In a week
that he hath been in my house he hath drank only part of one bottle of
wine. I intend to carry him to Newgate within a day or two, if he
can't find bail, which, I suppose, he will not be able to do; for
everybody says he is an undone man. He hath run out all he hath by
losses in business, and one way or other; and he hath a wife and seven
children. Here was the whole family here the other day, all howling
together. I never saw such a beggarly crew; I was almost ashamed to
see them in my house. I thought they seemed fitter for Bridewell than
any other place. To be sure, I do not reckon him as proper company for
such as you, sir; but there is another prisoner in the house that I
dare say you will like very much. He is, indeed, very much of a
gentleman, and spends his money like one. I have had him only three
days, and I am afraid he won't stay much longer. They say, indeed, he
is a gamester; but what is that to me or any one, as long as a man
appears as a gentleman? I always love to speak by people as I find;
and, in my opinion, he is fit company for the greatest lord in the
land; for he hath very good cloaths, and money enough. He is not here
for debt, but upon a judge's warrant for an assault and battery; for
the tipstaff locks up here."
The bailiff was thus haranguing when he was interrupted by the arrival
of the attorney whom the trusty serjeant had, with the utmost
expedition, found out and dispatched to the relief of his distressed
friend. But before we proceed any further with the captain we will
return to poor Amelia, for whom, considering the situation in which we
left her, the good-natured reader may be, perhaps, in no small degree
[Illustration: no caption]
Containing some extraordinary behaviour in Mrs. Ellison.
The serjeant being departed to convey Mrs. Ellison to the captain, his
wife went to fetch Amelia's children to their mother.
Amelia's concern for the distresses of her husband was aggravated at
the sight of her children. "Good Heavens!" she cried, "what will—what
can become of these poor little wretches? why have I produced these
little creatures only to give them a share of poverty and misery?" At
which words she embraced them eagerly in her arms, and bedewed them
both with her tears.
The children's eyes soon overflowed as fast as their mother's, though
neither of them knew the cause of her affliction. The little boy, who
was the elder and much the sharper of the two, imputed the agonies of
his mother to her illness, according to the account brought to his
father in his presence.
When Amelia became acquainted with the child's apprehensions, she soon
satisfied him that she was in a perfect state of health; at which the
little thing expressed great satisfaction, and said he was glad she
was well again. Amelia told him she had not been in the least
disordered. Upon which the innocent cried out, "La! how can people
tell such fibs? a great tall man told my papa you was taken very ill
at Mrs. Somebody's shop, and my poor papa presently ran down-stairs: I
was afraid he would have broke his neck, to come to you."
"O, the villains!" cries Mrs. Atkinson, "what a stratagem was here to
take away your husband!"
"Take away!" answered the child—"What! hath anybody taken away papa?
—Sure that naughty fibbing man hath not taken away papa?"
Amelia begged Mrs. Atkinson to say something to her children, for that
her spirits were overpowered. She then threw herself into a chair, and
gave a full vent to a passion almost too strong for her delicate
The scene that followed, during some minutes, is beyond my power of
description; I must beg the readers' hearts to suggest it to
themselves. The children hung on their mother, whom they endeavoured
in vain to comfort, as Mrs. Atkinson did in vain attempt to pacify
them, telling them all would be well, and they would soon see their
At length, partly by the persuasions of Mrs. Atkinson, partly from
consideration of her little ones, and more, perhaps, from the relief
which she had acquired by her tears, Amelia became a little composed.
Nothing worth notice past in this miserable company from this time
till the return of Mrs. Ellison from the bailiff's house; and to draw
out scenes of wretchedness to too great a length, is a task very
uneasy to the writer, and for which none but readers of a most gloomy
complexion will think themselves ever obliged to his labours.
At length Mrs. Ellison arrived, and entered the room with an air of
gaiety rather misbecoming the occasion. When she had seated herself in
a chair she told Amelia that the captain was very well and in good
spirits, and that he earnestly desired her to keep up hers. "Come,
madam," said she, "don't be disconsolate; I hope we shall soon be able
to get him out of his troubles. The debts, indeed, amount to more than
I expected; however, ways may be found to redeem him. He must own
himself guilty of some rashness in going out of the verge, when he
knew to what he was liable; but that is now not to be remedied. If he
had followed my advice this had not happened; but men will be
"I cannot bear this," cries Amelia; "shall I hear that best of
creatures blamed for his tenderness to me?"
"Well, I will not blame him," answered Mrs. Ellison; "I am sure I
propose nothing but to serve him; and if you will do as much to serve
him yourself, he will not be long a prisoner."
"I do!" cries Amelia: "O Heavens! is there a thing upon earth—"
"Yes, there is a thing upon earth," said Mrs. Ellison, "and a very
easy thing too; and yet I will venture my life you start when I
propose it. And yet, when I consider that you are a woman of
understanding, I know not why I should think so; for sure you must
have too much good sense to imagine that you can cry your husband out
of prison. If this would have done, I see you have almost cried your
eyes out already. And yet you may do the business by a much pleasanter
way than by crying and bawling."
"What do you mean, madam?" cries Amelia.—"For my part, I cannot guess
"Before I tell you then, madam," answered Mrs. Ellison, "I must inform
you, if you do not already know it, that the captain is charged with
actions to the amount of near five hundred pounds. I am sure I would
willingly be his bail; but I know my bail would not be taken for that
sum. You must consider, therefore, madam, what chance you have of
redeeming him; unless you chuse, as perhaps some wives would, that he
should lie all his life in prison."
At these words Amelia discharged a shower of tears, and gave every
mark of the most frantic grief.
"Why, there now," cries Mrs. Ellison, "while you will indulge these
extravagant passions, how can you be capable of listening to the voice
of reason? I know I am a fool in concerning myself thus with the
affairs of others. I know the thankless office I undertake; and yet I
love you so, my dear Mrs. Booth, that I cannot bear to see you
afflicted, and I would comfort you if you would suffer me. Let me beg
you to make your mind easy; and within these two days I will engage to
set your husband at liberty.
"Harkee, child; only behave like a woman of spirit this evening, and
keep your appointment, notwithstanding what hath happened; and I am
convinced there is one who hath the power and the will to serve you."
Mrs. Ellison spoke the latter part of her speech in a whisper, so that
Mrs. Atkinson, who was then engaged with the children, might not hear
her; but Amelia answered aloud, and said, "What appointment would you
have me keep this evening?"
"Nay, nay, if you have forgot," cries Mrs. Ellison, "I will tell you
more another time; but come, will you go home? my dinner is ready by
this time, and you shall dine with me."
"Talk not to me of dinners," cries Amelia; "my stomach is too full
"Nay, but, dear madam," answered Mrs. Ellison, "let me beseech you to
go home with me. I do not care," says she, whispering, "to speak
before some folks." "I have no secret, madam, in the world," replied
Amelia aloud, "which I would not communicate to this lady; for I shall
always acknowledge the highest obligations to her for the secrets she
hath imparted to me."
"Madam," said Mrs. Ellison, "I do not interfere with obligations. I am
glad the lady hath obliged you so much; and I wish all people were
equally mindful of obligations. I hope I have omitted no opportunity
of endeavouring to oblige Mrs. Booth, as well as I have some other
"If by other folks, madam, you mean me," cries Mrs. Atkinson, "I
confess I sincerely believe you intended the same obligation to us
both; and I have the pleasure to think it is owing to me that this
lady is not as much obliged to you as I am."
"I protest, madam, I can hardly guess your meaning," said Mrs.
Ellison.—"Do you really intend to affront me, madam?"
"I intend to preserve innocence and virtue, if it be in my power,
madam," answered the other. "And sure nothing but the most eager
resolution to destroy it could induce you to mention such an
appointment at such a time."
"I did not expect this treatment from you, madam," cries Mrs. Ellison;
"such ingratitude I could not have believed had it been reported to me
by any other."
"Such impudence," answered Mrs. Atkinson, "must exceed, I think, all
belief; but, when women once abandon that modesty which is the
characteristic of their sex, they seldom set any bounds to their
"I could not have believed this to have been in human nature," cries
Mrs. Ellison. "Is this the woman whom I have fed, have cloathed, have
supported; who owes to my charity and my intercessions that she is not
at this day destitute of all the necessaries of life?"
"I own it all," answered Mrs. Atkinson; "and I add the favour of a
masquerade ticket to the number. Could I have thought, madam, that you
would before my face have asked another lady to go to the same place
with the same man?—but I ask your pardon; I impute rather more
assurance to you than you are mistress of.—You have endeavoured to
keep the assignation a secret from me; and it was by mere accident
only that I discovered it; unless there are some guardian angels that
in general protect innocence and virtue; though, I may say, I have not
always found them so watchful."
"Indeed, madam," said Mrs. Ellison, "you are not worth my answer; nor
will I stay a moment longer with such a person.—So, Mrs. Booth, you
have your choice, madam, whether you will go with me, or remain in the
company of this lady."
"If so, madam," answered Mrs. Booth, "I shall not be long in
determining to stay where I am."
Mrs. Ellison then, casting a look of great indignation at both the
ladies, made a short speech full of invectives against Mrs. Atkinson,
and not without oblique hints of ingratitude against poor Amelia;
after which she burst out of the room, and out of the house, and made
haste to her own home, in a condition of mind to which fortune without
guilt cannot, I believe, reduce any one.
Indeed, how much the superiority of misery is on the side of
wickedness may appear to every reader who will compare the present
situation of Amelia with that of Mrs. Ellison. Fortune had attacked
the former with almost the highest degree of her malice. She was
involved in a scene of most exquisite distress, and her husband, her
principal comfort, torn violently from her arms; yet her sorrow,
however exquisite, was all soft and tender, nor was she without many
consolations. Her case, however hard, was not absolutely desperate;
for scarce any condition of fortune can be so. Art and industry,
chance and friends, have often relieved the most distrest
circumstances, and converted them into opulence. In all these she had
hopes on this side the grave, and perfect virtue and innocence gave
her the strongest assurances on the other. Whereas, in the bosom of
Mrs. Ellison, all was storm and tempest; anger, revenge, fear, and
pride, like so many raging furies, possessed her mind, and tortured
her with disappointment and shame. Loss of reputation, which is
generally irreparable, was to be her lot; loss of friends is of this
the certain consequence; all on this side the grave appeared dreary
and comfortless; and endless misery on the other, closed the gloomy
Hence, my worthy reader, console thyself, that however few of the
other good things of life are thy lot, the best of all things, which
is innocence, is always within thy own power; and, though Fortune may
make thee often unhappy, she can never make thee completely and
irreparably miserable without thy own consent.
Containing, among many matters, the exemplary behaviour of Colonel
When Mrs. Ellison was departed, Mrs. Atkinson began to apply all her
art to soothe and comfort Amelia, but was presently prevented by her.
"I am ashamed, dear madam," said Amelia, "of having indulged my
affliction so much at your expense. The suddenness of the occasion is
my only excuse; for, had I had time to summon my resolution to my
assistance, I hope I am mistress of more patience than you have
hitherto seen me exert. I know, madam, in my unwarrantable excesses, I
have been guilty of many transgressions. First, against that Divine
will and pleasure without whose permission, at least, no human
accident can happen; in the next place, madam, if anything can
aggravate such a fault, I have transgressed the laws of friendship as
well as decency, in throwing upon you some part of the load of my
grief; and again, I have sinned against common sense, which should
teach me, instead of weakly and heavily lamenting my misfortunes, to
rouse all my spirits to remove them. In this light I am shocked at my
own folly, and am resolved to leave my children under your care, and
go directly to my husband. I may comfort him. I may assist him. I may
relieve him. There is nothing now too difficult for me to undertake."
Mrs. Atkinson greatly approved and complimented her friend on all the
former part of her speech, except what related to herself, on which
she spoke very civilly, and I believe with great truth; but as to her
determination of going to her husband she endeavoured to dissuade her,
at least she begged her to defer it for the present, and till the
serjeant returned home. She then reminded Amelia that it was now past
five in the afternoon, and that she had not taken any refreshment but
a dish of tea the whole day, and desired she would give her leave to
procure her a chick, or anything she liked better, for her dinner.
Amelia thanked her friend, and said she would sit down with her to
whatever she pleased; "but if I do not eat," said she, "I would not
have you impute it to anything but want of appetite; for I assure you
all things are equally indifferent to me. I am more solicitous about
these poor little things, who have not been used to fast so long.
Heaven knows what may hereafter be their fate!"
Mrs. Atkinson bid her hope the best, and then recommended the children
to the care of her maid.
And now arrived a servant from Mrs. James, with an invitation to
Captain Booth and to his lady to dine with the colonel the day after
the next. This a little perplexed Amelia; but after a short
consideration she despatched an answer to Mrs. James, in which she
concisely informed her of what had happened.
The honest serjeant, who had been on his legs almost the whole day,
now returned, and brought Amelia a short letter from her husband, in
which he gave her the most solemn assurances of his health and
spirits, and begged her with great earnestness to take care to
preserve her own, which if she did, he said, he had no doubt but that
they should shortly be happy. He added something of hopes from my
lord, with which Mrs. Ellison had amused him, and which served only to
destroy the comfort that Amelia received from the rest of his letter.
Whilst Amelia, the serjeant, and his lady, were engaged in a cold
collation, for which purpose a cold chicken was procured from the
tavern for the ladies, and two pound of cold beef for the serjeant, a
violent knocking was heard at the door, and presently afterwards
Colonel James entered the room. After proper compliments had past, the
colonel told Amelia that her letter was brought to Mrs. James while
they were at table, and that on her shewing it him he had immediately
rose up, made an apology to his company, and took a chair to her. He
spoke to her with great tenderness on the occasion, and desired her to
make herself easy; assuring her that he would leave nothing in his
power undone to serve her husband. He then gave her an invitation, in
his wife's name, to his own house, in the most pressing manner.
Amelia returned him very hearty thanks for all his kind offers, but
begged to decline that of an apartment in his house. She said, as she
could not leave her children, so neither could she think of bringing
such a trouble with her into his family; and, though the colonel gave
her many assurances that her children, as well as herself, would be
very welcome to Mrs. James, and even betook himself to entreaties, she
still persisted obstinately in her refusal.
In real truth, Amelia had taken a vast affection for Mrs. Atkinson, of
the comfort of whose company she could not bear to be deprived in her
distress, nor to exchange it for that of Mrs. James, to whom she had
lately conceived no little dislike.
The colonel, when he found he could not prevail with Amelia to accept
his invitation, desisted from any farther solicitations. He then took
a bank-bill of fifty pounds from his pocket-book, and said, "You will
pardon me, dear madam, if I chuse to impute your refusal of my house
rather to a dislike of my wife, who I will not pretend to be the most
agreeable of women (all men," said he, sighing, "have not Captain
Booth's fortune), than to any aversion or anger to me. I must insist
upon it, therefore, to make your present habitation as easy to you as
possible—I hope, madam, you will not deny me this happiness; I beg
you will honour me with the acceptance of this trifle." He then put
the note into her hand, and declared that the honour of touching it
was worth a hundred times that sum.
"I protest, Colonel James," cried Amelia, blushing, "I know not what
to do or say, your goodness so greatly confounds me. Can I, who am so
well acquainted with the many great obligations Mr. Booth already hath
to your generosity, consent that you should add more to a debt we
never can pay?"
The colonel stopt her short, protesting that she misplaced the
obligation; for, that if to confer the highest happiness was to
oblige, he was obliged to her acceptance. "And I do assure you,
madam," said he, "if this trifling sum or a much larger can contribute
to your ease, I shall consider myself as the happiest man upon earth
in being able to supply it, and you, madam, my greatest benefactor in
Amelia then put the note in her pocket, and they entered into a
conversation in which many civil things were said on both sides; but
what was chiefly worth remark was, that Amelia had almost her husband
constantly in her mouth, and the colonel never mentioned him: the
former seemed desirous to lay all obligations, as much as possible, to
the account of her husband; and the latter endeavoured, with the
utmost delicacy, to insinuate that her happiness was the main and
indeed only point which he had in view.
Amelia had made no doubt, at the colonel's first appearance, but that
he intended to go directly to her husband. When he dropt therefore a
hint of his intention to visit him next morning she appeared visibly
shocked at the delay. The colonel, perceiving this, said, "However
inconvenient it may be, yet, madam, if it will oblige you, or if you
desire it, I will even go to-night." Amelia answered, "My husband will
be far from desiring to derive any good from your inconvenience; but,
if you put it to me, I must be excused for saying I desire nothing
more in the world than to send him so great a comfort as I know he
will receive from the presence of such a friend." "Then, to show you,
madam," cries the colonel, "that I desire nothing more in the world
than to give you pleasure, I will go to him immediately."
Amelia then bethought herself of the serjeant, and told the colonel
his old acquaintance Atkinson, whom he had known at Gibraltar, was
then in the house, and would conduct him to the place. The serjeant
was immediately called in, paid his respects to the colonel, and was
acknowledged by him. They both immediately set forward, Amelia to the
utmost of her power pressing their departure.
Mrs. Atkinson now returned to Amelia, and was by her acquainted with
the colonel's late generosity; for her heart so boiled over with
gratitude that she could not conceal the ebullition. Amelia likewise
gave her friend a full narrative of the colonel's former behaviour and
friendship to her husband, as well abroad as in England; and ended
with declaring that she believed him to be the most generous man upon
Mrs. Atkinson agreed with Amelia's conclusion, and said she was glad
to hear there was any such man. They then proceeded with the children
to the tea-table, where panegyric, and not scandal, was the topic of
their conversation; and of this panegyric the colonel was the subject;
both the ladies seeming to vie with each other in celebrating the
praises of his goodness.
Comments upon authors.
Having left Amelia in as comfortable a situation as could possibly be
expected, her immediate distresses relieved, and her heart filled with
great hopes from the friendship of the colonel, we will now return to
Booth, who, when the attorney and serjeant had left him, received a
visit from that great author of whom honourable mention is made in our
Booth, as the reader may be pleased to remember, was a pretty good
master of the classics; for his father, though he designed his son for
the army, did not think it necessary to breed him up a blockhead. He
did not, perhaps, imagine that a competent share of Latin and Greek
would make his son either a pedant or a coward. He considered
likewise, probably, that the life of a soldier is in general a life of
idleness; and might think that the spare hours of an officer in
country quarters would be as well employed with a book as in
sauntering about the streets, loitering in a coffee-house, sotting in
a tavern, or in laying schemes to debauch and ruin a set of harmless
ignorant country girls.
As Booth was therefore what might well be called, in this age at
least, a man of learning, he began to discourse our author on subjects
of literature. "I think, sir," says he, "that Dr Swift hath been
generally allowed, by the critics in this kingdom, to be the greatest
master of humour that ever wrote. Indeed, I allow him to have
possessed most admirable talents of this kind; and, if Rabelais was
his master, I think he proves the truth of the common Greek proverb—
that the scholar is often superior to the master. As to Cervantes, I
do not think we can make any just comparison; for, though Mr. Pope
compliments him with sometimes taking Cervantes' serious air—" "I
remember the passage," cries the author;
"O thou, whatever title please thine ear, Dean, Drapier, Bickerstaff,
or Gulliver; Whether you take Cervantes' serious air, Or laugh and
shake in Rabelais' easy chair—"
"You are right, sir," said Booth; "but though I should agree that the
doctor hath sometimes condescended to imitate Rabelais, I do not
remember to have seen in his works the least attempt in the manner of
Cervantes. But there is one in his own way, and whom I am convinced he
studied above all others—you guess, I believe, I am going to name
Lucian. This author, I say, I am convinced, he followed; but I think
he followed him at a distance: as, to say the truth, every other
writer of this kind hath done in my opinion; for none, I think, hath
yet equalled him. I agree, indeed, entirely with Mr. Moyle, in his
Discourse on the age of the Philopatris, when he gives him the epithet
of the incomparable Lucian; and incomparable, I believe, he will
remain as long as the language in which he wrote shall endure. What an
inimitable piece of humour is his Cock!" "I remember it very well,"
cries the author; "his story of a Cock and a Bull is excellent." Booth
stared at this, and asked the author what he meant by the Bull? "Nay,"
answered he, "I don't know very well, upon my soul. It is a long time
since I read him. I learnt him all over at school; I have not read him
much since. And pray, sir," said he, "how do you like his Pharsalia?
don't you think Mr. Rowe's translation a very fine one?" Booth
replied, "I believe we are talking of different authors. The
Pharsalia, which Mr. Rowe translated, was written by Lucan; but I have
been speaking of Lucian, a Greek writer, and, in my opinion, the
greatest in the humorous way that ever the world produced." "Ay!"
cries the author, "he was indeed so, a very excellent writer indeed! I
fancy a translation of him would sell very well!" "I do not know,
indeed," cries Booth. "A good translation of him would be a valuable
book. I have seen a wretched one published by Mr. Dryden, but
translated by others, who in many places have misunderstood Lucian's
meaning, and have nowhere preserved the spirit of the original." "That
is great pity," says the author. "Pray, sir, is he well translated in
the French?" Booth answered, he could not tell; but that he doubted it
very much, having never seen a good version into that language out of
the Greek." To confess the truth, I believe," said he, "the French
translators have generally consulted the Latin only; which, in some of
the few Greek writers I have read, is intolerably bad. And as the
English translators, for the most part, pursue the French, we may
easily guess what spirit those copies of bad copies must preserve of
"Egad, you are a shrewd guesser," cries the author. "I am glad the
booksellers have not your sagacity. But how should it be otherwise,
considering the price they pay by the sheet? The Greek, you will
allow, is a hard language; and there are few gentlemen that write who
can read it without a good lexicon. Now, sir, if we were to afford
time to find out the true meaning of words, a gentleman would not get
bread and cheese by his work. If one was to be paid, indeed, as Mr.
Pope was for his Homer—Pray, sir, don't you think that the best
translation in the world?"
"Indeed, sir," cries Booth, "I think, though it is certainly a noble
paraphrase, and of itself a fine poem, yet in some places it is no
translation at all. In the very beginning, for instance, he hath not
rendered the true force of the author. Homer invokes his muse in the
five first lines of the Iliad; and, at the end of the fifth, he gives
For all these things," says he, "were brought about by the decree of
Jupiter; and, therefore, he supposes their true sources are known only
to the deities. Now, the translation takes no more notice of the [Greek]
than if no such word had been there."
"Very possibly," answered the author; "it is a long time since I read
the original. Perhaps, then, he followed the French translations. I
observe, indeed, he talks much in the notes of Madam Dacier and
Booth had now received conviction enough of his friend's knowledge of
the Greek language; without attempting, therefore, to set him right,
he made a sudden transition to the Latin. "Pray, sir," said he, "as
you have mentioned Rowe's translation of the Pharsalia, do you
remember how he hath rendered that passage in the character of Cato?—
——Venerisque huic maximus usus
Progenies; urbi Pater est, urbique Maritus.
For I apprehend that passage is generally misunderstood."
"I really do not remember," answered the author. "Pray, sir, what do
you take to be the meaning?"
"I apprehend, sir," replied Booth, "that by these words, Urbi Pater
est, urbique Maritus, Cato is represented as the father and husband
to the city of Rome."
"Very true, sir," cries the author; "very fine, indeed.—Not only the
father of his country, but the husband too; very noble, truly!"
"Pardon me, sir," cries Booth; "I do not conceive that to have been
Lucan's meaning. If you please to observe the context; Lucan, having
commended the temperance of Cato in the instances of diet and cloaths,
proceeds to venereal pleasures; of which, says the poet, his principal
use was procreation: then he adds, Urbi Pater est, urbique Maritus;
that he became a father and a husband for the sake only of the city."
"Upon my word that's true," cries the author; "I did not think of it.
It is much finer than the other.—Urbis Pater est—what is the
other?—ay—Urbis Maritus.—It is certainly as you say, sir."
Booth was by this pretty well satisfied of the author's profound
learning; however, he was willing to try him a little farther. He
asked him, therefore, what was his opinion of Lucan in general, and in
what class of writers he ranked him?
The author stared a little at this question; and, after some
hesitation, answered, "Certainly, sir, I think he is a fine writer and
a very great poet."
"I am very much of the same opinion," cries Booth; "but where do you
class him—next to what poet do you place him?"
"Let me see," cries the author; "where do I class him? next to whom do
I place him?—Ay!—why—why, pray, where do you yourself place him?"
"Why, surely," cries Booth, "if he is not to be placed in the first
rank with Homer, and Virgil, and Milton, I think clearly he is at the
head of the second, before either Statius or Silius Italicus—though I
allow to each of these their merits; but, perhaps, an epic poem was
beyond the genius of either. I own, I have often thought, if Statius
had ventured no farther than Ovid or Claudian, he would have succeeded
better; for his Sylvae are, in my opinion, much better than his
"I believe I was of the same opinion formerly," said the author.
"And for what reason have you altered it?" cries Booth.
"I have not altered it," answered the author; "but, to tell you the
truth, I have not any opinion at all about these matters at present. I
do not trouble my head much with poetry; for there is no encouragement
to such studies in this age. It is true, indeed, I have now and then
wrote a poem or two for the magazines, but I never intend to write any
more; for a gentleman is not paid for his time. A sheet is a sheet
with the booksellers; and, whether it be in prose or verse, they make
no difference; though certainly there is as much difference to a
gentleman in the work as there is to a taylor between making a plain
and a laced suit. Rhimes are difficult things; they are stubborn
things, sir. I have been sometimes longer in tagging a couplet than I
have been in writing a speech on the side of the opposition which hath
been read with great applause all over the kingdom."
"I am glad you are pleased to confirm that," cries Booth; "for I
protest it was an entire secret to me till this day. I was so
perfectly ignorant, that I thought the speeches published in the
magazines were really made by the members themselves."
"Some of them, and I believe I may, without vanity, say the best,"
cries the author, "are all the productions of my own pen! but I
believe I shall leave it off soon, unless a sheet of speech will fetch
more than it does at present. In truth, the romance-writing is the
only branch of our business now that is worth following. Goods of that
sort have had so much success lately in the market, that a bookseller
scarce cares what he bids for them. And it is certainly the easiest
work in the world; you may write it almost as fast as you can set pen
to paper; and if you interlard it with a little scandal, a little
abuse on some living characters of note, you cannot fail of success."
"Upon my word, sir," cries Booth, "you have greatly instructed me. I
could not have imagined there had been so much regularity in the trade
of writing as you are pleased to mention; by what I can perceive, the
pen and ink is likely to become the staple commodity of the kingdom."
"Alas! sir," answered the author, "it is overstocked. The market is
overstocked. There is no encouragement to merit, no patrons. I have
been these five years soliciting a subscription for my new translation
of Ovid's Metamorphoses, with notes explanatory, historical, and
critical; and I have scarce collected five hundred names yet."
The mention of this translation a little surprized Booth; not only as
the author had just declared his intentions to forsake the tuneful
muses; but, for some other reasons which he had collected from his
conversation with our author, he little expected to hear of a proposal
to translate any of the Latin poets. He proceeded, therefore, to
catechise him a little farther; and by his answers was fully satisfied
that he had the very same acquaintance with Ovid that he had appeared
to have with Lucan.
The author then pulled out a bundle of papers containing proposals for
his subscription, and receipts; and, addressing himself to Booth,
said, "Though the place in which we meet, sir, is an improper place to
solicit favours of this kind, yet, perhaps, it may be in your power to
serve me if you will charge your pockets with some of these." Booth
was just offering at an excuse, when the bailiff introduced Colonel
James and the serjeant.
The unexpected visit of a beloved friend to a man in affliction,
especially in Mr. Booth's situation, is a comfort which can scarce be
equalled; not barely from the hopes of relief or redress by his
assistance, but as it is an evidence of sincere friendship which
scarce admits of any doubt or suspicion. Such an instance doth indeed
make a man amends for all ordinary troubles and distresses; and we
ought to think ourselves gainers by having had such an opportunity of
discovering that we are possessed of one of the most valuable of all
Booth was so transported at the sight of the colonel, that he dropt
the proposals which the author had put into his hands, and burst forth
into the highest professions of gratitude to his friend; who behaved
very properly on his side, and said everything which became the mouth
of a friend on the occasion.
It is true, indeed, he seemed not moved equally either with Booth or
the serjeant, both whose eyes watered at the scene. In truth, the
colonel, though a very generous man, had not the least grain of
tenderness in his disposition. His mind was formed of those firm
materials of which nature formerly hammered out the Stoic, and upon
which the sorrows of no man living could make an impression. A man of
this temper, who doth not much value danger, will fight for the person
he calls his friend, and the man that hath but little value for his
money will give it him; but such friendship is never to be absolutely
depended on; for, whenever the favourite passion interposes with it,
it is sure to subside and vanish into air. Whereas the man whose
tender disposition really feels the miseries of another will endeavour
to relieve them for his own sake; and, in such a mind, friendship will
often get the superiority over every other passion.
But, from whatever motive it sprung, the colonel's behaviour to Booth
seemed truly amiable; and so it appeared to the author, who took the
first occasion to applaud it in a very florid oration; which the
reader, when he recollects that he was a speech-maker by profession,
will not be surprized at; nor, perhaps, will be much more surprized
that he soon after took an occasion of clapping a proposal into the
colonel's hands, holding at the same time a receipt very visible in
The colonel received both, and gave the author a guinea in exchange,
which was double the sum mentioned in the receipt; for which the
author made a low bow, and very politely took his leave, saying, "I
suppose, gentlemen, you may have some private business together; I
heartily wish a speedy end to your confinement, and I congratulate you
on the possessing so great, so noble, and so generous a friend."
Which inclines rather to satire than panegyric.
The colonel had the curiosity to ask Booth the name of the gentleman
who, in the vulgar language, had struck, or taken him in for a guinea
with so much ease and dexterity. Booth answered, he did not know his
name; all that he knew of him was, that he was the most impudent and
illiterate fellow he had ever seen, and that, by his own account, he
was the author of most of the wonderful productions of the age.
"Perhaps," said he, "it may look uncharitable in me to blame you for
your generosity; but I am convinced the fellow hath not the least
merit or capacity, and you have subscribed to the most horrid trash
that ever was published."
"I care not a farthing what he publishes," cries the colonel. "Heaven
forbid I should be obliged to read half the nonsense I have subscribed
"But don't you think," said Booth, "that by such indiscriminate
encouragement of authors you do a real mischief to the society? By
propagating the subscriptions of such fellows, people are tired out
and withhold their contributions to men of real merit; and, at the
same time, you are contributing to fill the world, not only with
nonsense, but with all the scurrility, indecency, and profaneness with
which the age abounds, and with which all bad writers supply the
defect of genius."
"Pugh!" cries the colonel, "I never consider these matters. Good or
bad, it is all one to me; but there's an acquaintance of mine, and a
man of great wit too, that thinks the worst the best, as they are the
surest to make him laugh."
"I ask pardon, sir," says the serjeant; "but I wish your honour would
consider your own affairs a little, for it grows late in the evening."
"The serjeant says true," answered the colonel. "What is it you intend
"Faith, colonel, I know not what I shall do. My affairs seem so
irreparable, that I have been driving them as much as possibly I could
from my mind. If I was to suffer alone, I think I could bear them with
some philosophy; but when I consider who are to be the sharers in my
fortune—the dearest of children, and the best, the worthiest, and the
noblest of women—-Pardon me, my dear friend, these sensations are
above me; they convert me into a woman; they drive me to despair, to
The colonel advised him to command himself, and told him this was not
the way to retrieve his fortune. "As to me, my dear Booth," said he,
"you know you may command me as far as is really within my power."
Booth answered eagerly, that he was so far from expecting any more
favours from the colonel, that he had resolved not to let him know
anything of his misfortune. "No, my dear friend," cries he, "I am too
much obliged to you already;" and then burst into many fervent
expressions of gratitude, till the colonel himself stopt him, and
begged him to give an account of the debt or debts for which he was
detained in that horrid place.
Booth answered, he could not be very exact, but he feared it was
upwards of four hundred pounds.
"It is but three hundred pounds, indeed, sir," cries the serjeant; "if
you can raise three hundred pounds, you are a free man this moment."
Booth, who did not apprehend the generous meaning of the serjeant as
well as, I believe, the reader will, answered he was mistaken; that he
had computed his debts, and they amounted to upwards of four hundred
pounds; nay, that the bailiff had shewn him writs for above that sum.
"Whether your debts are three or four hundred," cries the colonel,
"the present business is to give bail only, and then you will have
some time to try your friends: I think you might get a company abroad,
and then I would advance the money on the security of half your pay;
and, in the mean time, I will be one of your bail with all my heart."
Whilst Booth poured forth his gratitude for all this kindness, the
serjeant ran down-stairs for the bailiff, and shortly after returned
with him into the room.
The bailiff, being informed that the colonel offered to be bail for
his prisoner, answered a little surlily, "Well, sir, and who will be
the other? you know, I suppose, there must be two; and I must have
time to enquire after them."
The colonel replied, "I believe, sir, I am well known to be
responsible for a much larger sum than your demand on this gentleman;
but, if your forms require two, I suppose the serjeant here will do
for the other."
"I don't know the serjeant nor you either, sir," cries Bondum; "and,
if you propose yourselves bail for the gentleman, I must have time to
enquire after you."
"You need very little time to enquire after me," says the colonel,
"for I can send for several of the law, whom I suppose you know, to
satisfy you; but consider, it is very late."
"Yes, sir," answered Bondum, "I do consider it is too late for the
captain to be bailed to-night."
"What do you mean by too late?" cries the colonel.
"I mean, sir, that I must search the office, and that is now shut up;
for, if my lord mayor and the court of aldermen would be bound for
him, I would not discharge him till I had searched the office."
"How, sir!" cries the colonel, "hath the law of England no more regard
for the liberty of the subject than to suffer such fellows as you to
detain a man in custody for debt, when he can give undeniable
"Don't fellow me," said the bailiff; "I am as good a fellow as
yourself, I believe, though you have that riband in your hat there."
"Do you know whom you are speaking to?" said the serjeant. "Do you
know you are talking to a colonel of the army?"
"What's a colonel of the army to me?" cries the bailiff. "I have had
as good as he in my custody before now."
"And a member of parliament?" cries the serjeant.
"Is the gentleman a member of parliament?—Well, and what harm have I
said? I am sure I meant no harm; and, if his honour is offended, I ask
his pardon; to be sure his honour must know that the sheriff is
answerable for all the writs in the office, though they were never so
many, and I am answerable to the sheriff. I am sure the captain can't
say that I have shewn him any manner of incivility since he hath been
here.—And I hope, honourable sir," cries he, turning to the colonel,
"you don't take anything amiss that I said, or meant by way of
disrespect, or any such matter. I did not, indeed, as the gentleman
here says, know who I was speaking to; but I did not say anything
uncivil as I know of, and I hope no offence."
The colonel was more easily pacified than might have been expected,
and told the bailiff that, if it was against the rules of law to
discharge Mr. Booth that evening, he must be contented. He then
addressed himself to his friend, and began to prescribe comfort and
patience to him; saying, he must rest satisfied with his confinement
that night; and the next morning he promised to visit him again.
Booth answered, that as for himself, the lying one night in any place
was very little worth his regard. "You and I, my dear friend, have
both spent our evening in a worse situation than I shall in this
house. All my concern is for my poor Amelia, whose sufferings on
account of my absence I know, and I feel with unspeakable tenderness.
Could I be assured she was tolerably easy, I could be contented in
chains or in a dungeon."
"Give yourself no concern on her account," said the colonel; "I will
wait on her myself, though I break an engagement for that purpose, and
will give her such assurances as I am convinced will make her
Booth embraced his friend, and, weeping over him, paid his
acknowledgment with tears for all his goodness. In words, indeed, he
was not able to thank him; for gratitude, joining with his other
passions, almost choaked him, and stopt his utterance.
After a short scene in which nothing past worth recounting, the
colonel bid his friend good night, and leaving the serjeant with him,
made the best of his way back to Amelia.
Worthy a very serious perusal.
The colonel found Amelia sitting very disconsolate with Mrs. Atkinson.
He entered the room with an air of great gaiety, assured Amelia that
her husband was perfectly well, and that he hoped the next day he
would again be with her.
Amelia was a little comforted at this account, and vented many
grateful expressions to the colonel for his unparalleled friendship,
as she was pleased to call it. She could not, however, help giving way
soon after to a sigh at the thoughts of her husband's bondage, and
declared that night would be the longest she had ever known.
"This lady, madam," cries the colonel, "must endeavour to make it
shorter. And, if you will give me leave, I will join in the same
endeavour." Then, after some more consolatory speeches, the colonel
attempted to give a gay turn to the discourse, and said, "I was
engaged to have spent this evening disagreeably at Ranelagh, with a
set of company I did not like. How vastly am I obliged to you, dear
Mrs. Booth, that I pass it so infinitely more to my satisfaction!"
"Indeed, colonel," said Amelia, "I am convinced that to a mind so
rightly turned as yours there must be a much sweeter relish in the
highest offices of friendship than in any pleasures which the gayest
public places can afford."
"Upon my word, madam," said the colonel, "you now do me more than
justice. I have, and always had, the utmost indifference for such
pleasures. Indeed, I hardly allow them worthy of that name, or, if
they are so at all, it is in a very low degree. In my opinion the
highest friendship must always lead us to the highest pleasure."
Here Amelia entered into a long dissertation on friendship, in which
she pointed several times directly at the colonel as the hero of her
The colonel highly applauded all her sentiments; and when he could not
avoid taking the compliment to himself, he received it with a most
respectful bow. He then tried his hand likewise at description, in
which he found means to repay all Amelia's panegyric in kind. This,
though he did with all possible delicacy, yet a curious observer might
have been apt to suspect that it was chiefly on her account that the
colonel had avoided the masquerade.
In discourses of this kind they passed the evening, till it was very
late, the colonel never offering to stir from his chair before the
clock had struck one; when he thought, perhaps, that decency obliged
him to take his leave.
As soon as he was gone Mrs. Atkinson said to Mrs. Booth, "I think,
madam, you told me this afternoon that the colonel was married?"
Amelia answered, she did so.
"I think likewise, madam," said Mrs. Atkinson, "you was acquainted
with the colonel's lady?"
Amelia answered that she had been extremely intimate with her abroad.
"Is she young and handsome?" said Mrs. Atkinson. "In short, pray, was
it a match of love or convenience?"
Amelia answered, entirely of love, she believed, on his side; for that
the lady had little or no fortune.
"I am very glad to hear it," said Mrs. Atkinson; "for I am sure the
colonel is in love with somebody. I think I never saw a more luscious
picture of love drawn than that which he was pleased to give us as the
portraiture of friendship. I have read, indeed, of Pylades and
Orestes, Damon and Pythias, and other great friends of old; nay, I
sometimes flatter myself that I am capable of being a friend myself;
but as for that fine, soft, tender, delicate passion, which he was
pleased to describe, I am convinced there must go a he and a she to
"Upon my word, my dear, you are mistaken," cries Amelia. "If you had
known the friendship which hath always subsisted between the colonel
and my husband, you would not imagine it possible for any description
to exceed it. Nay, I think his behaviour this very day is sufficient
to convince you."
"I own what he hath done to-day hath great merit," said Mrs. Atkinson;
"and yet, from what he hath said to-night—You will pardon me, dear
madam; perhaps I am too quick-sighted in my observations; nay, I am
afraid I am even impertinent."
"Fie upon it!" cries Amelia; "how can you talk in that strain? Do you
imagine I expect ceremony? Pray speak what you think with the utmost
"Did he not then," said Mrs. Atkinson, "repeat the words, the finest
woman in the world, more than once? did he not make use of an
expression which might have become the mouth of Oroondates himself?
If I remember, the words were these—that, had he been Alexander the
Great, he should have thought it more glory to have wiped off a tear
from the bright eyes of Statira than to have conquered fifty worlds."
"Did he say so?" cries Amelia—"I think he did say something like it;
but my thoughts were so full of my husband that I took little notice.
But what would you infer from what he said? I hope you don't think he
is in love with me?"
"I hope he doth not think so himself," answered Mrs. Atkinson;
"though, when he mentioned the bright eyes of Statira, he fixed his
own eyes on yours with the most languishing air I ever beheld."
Amelia was going to answer, when the serjeant arrived, and then she
immediately fell to enquiring after her husband, and received such
satisfactory answers to all her many questions concerning him, that
she expressed great pleasure. These ideas so possessed her mind, that,
without once casting her thoughts on any other matters, she took her
leave of the serjeant and his lady, and repaired to bed to her
children, in a room which Mrs. Atkinson had provided her in the same
house; where we will at present wish her a good night.
Consisting of grave matters.
While innocence and chearful hope, in spite of the malice of fortune,
closed the eyes of the gentle Amelia on her homely bed, and she
enjoyed a sweet and profound sleep, the colonel lay restless all night
on his down; his mind was affected with a kind of ague fit; sometimes
scorched up with flaming desires, and again chilled with the coldest
There is a time, I think, according to one of our poets, when lust
and envy sleep. This, I suppose, is when they are well gorged with
the food they most delight in; but, while either of these are hungry,
Nor poppy, nor mandragora,
Nor all the drousy syrups of the East,
Will ever medicine them to slumber.
The colonel was at present unhappily tormented by both these fiends.
His last evening's conversation with Amelia had done his business
effectually. The many kind words she had spoken to him, the many kind
looks she had given him, as being, she conceived, the friend and
preserver of her husband, had made an entire conquest of his heart.
Thus the very love which she bore him, as the person to whom her
little family were to owe their preservation and happiness, inspired
him with thoughts of sinking them all in the lowest abyss of ruin and
misery; and, while she smiled with all her sweetness on the supposed
friend of her husband, she was converting that friend into his most
Friendship, take heed; if woman interfere,
Be sure the hour of thy destruction's near.
These are the lines of Vanbrugh; and the sentiment is better than the
poetry. To say the truth, as a handsome wife is the cause and cement
of many false friendships, she is often too liable to destroy the real
Thus the object of the colonel's lust very plainly appears, but the
object of his envy may be more difficult to discover. Nature and
Fortune had seemed to strive with a kind of rivalship which should
bestow most on the colonel. The former had given him person, parts,
and constitution, in all which he was superior to almost every other
man. The latter had given him rank in life, and riches, both in a very
eminent degree. Whom then should this happy man envy? Here, lest
ambition should mislead the reader to search the palaces of the great,
we will direct him at once to Gray's-inn-lane; where, in a miserable
bed, in a miserable room, he will see a miserable broken lieutenant,
in a miserable condition, with several heavy debts on his back, and
without a penny in his pocket. This, and no other, was the object of
the colonel's envy. And why? because this wretch was possessed of the
affections of a poor little lamb, which all the vast flocks that were
within the power and reach of the colonel could not prevent that
glutton's longing for. And sure this image of the lamb is not
improperly adduced on this occasion; for what was the colonel's desire
but to lead this poor lamb, as it were, to the slaughter, in order to
purchase a feast of a few days by her final destruction, and to tear
her away from the arms of one where she was sure of being fondled and
caressed all the days of her life.
While the colonel was agitated with these thoughts, his greatest
comfort was, that Amelia and Booth were now separated; and his
greatest terror was of their coming again together. From wishes,
therefore, he began to meditate designs; and so far was he from any
intention of procuring the liberty of his friend, that he began to
form schemes of prolonging his confinement, till he could procure some
means of sending him away far from her; in which case he doubted not
but of succeeding in all he desired.
He was forming this plan in his mind when a servant informed him that
one serjeant Atkinson desired to speak with his honour. The serjeant
was immediately admitted, and acquainted the colonel that, if he
pleased to go and become bail for Mr. Booth, another unexceptionable
housekeeper would be there to join with him. This person the serjeant
had procured that morning, and had, by leave of his wife, given him a
bond of indemnification for the purpose.
The colonel did not seem so elated with this news as Atkinson
expected. On the contrary, instead of making a direct answer to what
Atkinson said, the colonel began thus: "I think, serjeant, Mr. Booth
hath told me that you was foster-brother to his lady. She is really a
charming woman, and it is a thousand pities she should ever have been
placed in the dreadful situation she is now in. There is nothing so
silly as for subaltern officers of the army to marry, unless where
they meet with women of very great fortunes indeed. What can be the
event of their marrying otherwise, but entailing misery and beggary on
their wives and their posterity?"
"Ah! sir," cries the serjeant, "it is too late to think of those
matters now. To be sure, my lady might have married one of the top
gentlemen in the country; for she is certainly one of the best as well
as one of the handsomest women in the kingdom; and, if she had been
fairly dealt by, would have had a very great fortune into the bargain.
Indeed, she is worthy of the greatest prince in the world; and, if I
had been the greatest prince in the world, I should have thought
myself happy with such a wife; but she was pleased to like the
lieutenant, and certainly there can be no happiness in marriage
"Lookee, serjeant," said the colonel; "you know very well that I am
the lieutenant's friend. I think I have shewn myself so."
"Indeed your honour hath," quoth the serjeant, "more than once to my
"But I am angry with him for his imprudence, greatly angry with him
for his imprudence; and the more so, as it affects a lady of so much
"She is, indeed, a lady of the highest worth," cries the serjeant.
"Poor dear lady! I knew her, an 't please your honour, from her
infancy; and the sweetest-tempered, best-natured lady she is that ever
trod on English ground. I have always loved her as if she was my own
sister. Nay, she hath very often called me brother; and I have taken
it to be a greater honour than if I was to be called a general
"What pity it is," said the colonel, "that this worthy creature should
be exposed to so much misery by the thoughtless behaviour of a man
who, though I am his friend, I cannot help saying, hath been guilty of
imprudence at least! Why could he not live upon his half-pay? What had
he to do to run himself into debt in this outrageous manner?"
"I wish, indeed," cries the serjeant, "he had been a little more
considerative; but I hope this will be a warning to him."
"How am I sure of that," answered the colonel; "or what reason is
there to expect it? extravagance is a vice of which men are not so
easily cured. I have thought a great deal of this matter, Mr.
serjeant; and, upon the most mature deliberation, I am of opinion that
it will be better, both for him and his poor lady, that he should
smart a little more."
"Your honour, sir, to be sure is in the right," replied the serjeant;
"but yet, sir, if you will pardon me for speaking, I hope you will be
pleased to consider my poor lady's case. She suffers, all this while,
as much or more than the lieutenant; for I know her so well, that I am
certain she will never have a moment's ease till her husband is out of
"I know women better than you, serjeant," cries the colonel; "they
sometimes place their affections on a husband as children do on their
nurse; but they are both to be weaned. I know you, serjeant, to be a
fellow of sense as well as spirit, or I should not speak so freely to
you; but I took a fancy to you a long time ago, and I intend to serve
you; but first, I ask you this question—Is your attachment to Mr.
Booth or his lady?"
"Certainly, sir," said the serjeant, "I must love my lady best. Not
but I have a great affection for the lieutenant too, because I know my
lady hath the same; and, indeed, he hath been always very good to me
as far as was in his power. A lieutenant, your honour knows, can't do
a great deal; but I have always found him my friend upon all
"You say true," cries the colonel; "a lieutenant can do but little;
but I can do much to serve you, and will too. But let me ask you one
question: Who was the lady whom I saw last night with Mrs. Booth at
Here the serjeant blushed, and repeated, "The lady, sir?"
"Ay, a lady, a woman," cries the colonel, "who supped with us last
night. She looked rather too much like a gentlewoman for the mistress
of a lodging-house."
The serjeant's cheeks glowed at this compliment to his wife; and he
was just going to own her when the colonel proceeded: "I think I never
saw in my life so ill-looking, sly, demure a b—-; I would give
something, methinks, to know who she was."
"I don't know, indeed," cries the serjeant, in great confusion; "I
know nothing about her."
"I wish you would enquire," said the colonel, "and let me know her
name, and likewise what she is: I have a strange curiosity to know,
and let me see you again this evening exactly at seven."
"And will not your honour then go to the lieutenant this morning?"
"It is not in my power," answered the colonel; "I am engaged another
way. Besides, there is no haste in this affair. If men will be
imprudent they must suffer the consequences. Come to me at seven, and
bring me all the particulars you can concerning that ill-looking jade
I mentioned to you, for I am resolved to know who she is. And so good-
morrow to you, serjeant; be assured I will take an opportunity to do
something for you."
Though some readers may, perhaps, think the serjeant not unworthy of
the freedom with which the colonel treated him; yet that haughty
officer would have been very backward to have condescended to such
familiarity with one of his rank had he not proposed some design from
it. In truth, he began to conceive hopes of making the serjeant
instrumental to his design on Amelia; in other words, to convert him
into a pimp; an office in which the colonel had been served by
Atkinson's betters, and which, as he knew it was in his power very
well to reward him, he had no apprehension that the serjeant would
decline—an opinion which the serjeant might have pardoned, though he
had never given the least grounds for it, since the colonel borrowed
it from the knowledge of his own heart. This dictated to him that he,
from a bad motive, was capable of desiring to debauch his friend's
wife; and the same heart inspired him to hope that another, from
another bad motive, might be guilty of the same breach of friendship
in assisting him. Few men, I believe, think better of others than of
themselves; nor do they easily allow the existence of any virtue of
which they perceive no traces in their own minds; for which reason I
have observed, that it is extremely difficult to persuade a rogue that
you are an honest man; nor would you ever succeed in the attempt by
the strongest evidence, was it not for the comfortable conclusion
which the rogue draws, that he who proves himself to be honest proves
himself to be a fool at the same time.
A curious chapter, from which a curious reader may draw sundry
The serjeant retired from the colonel in a very dejected state of
mind: in which, however, we must leave him awhile and return to
Amelia; who, as soon as she was up, had despatched Mrs. Atkinson to
pay off her former lodgings, and to bring off all cloaths and other
The trusty messenger returned without performing her errand, for Mrs.
Ellison had locked up all her rooms, and was gone out very early that
morning, and the servant knew not whither she was gone.
The two ladies now sat down to breakfast, together with Amelia's two
children; after which, Amelia declared she would take a coach and
visit her husband. To this motion Mrs. Atkinson soon agreed, and
offered to be her companion. To say truth, I think it was reasonable
enough; and the great abhorrence which Booth had of seeing his wife in
a bailiff's house was, perhaps, rather too nice and delicate.
When the ladies were both drest, and just going to send for their
vehicle, a great knocking was heard at the door, and presently Mrs.
James was ushered into the room.
This visit was disagreeable enough to Amelia, as it detained her from
the sight of her husband, for which she so eagerly longed. However, as
she had no doubt but that the visit would be reasonably short, she
resolved to receive the lady with all the complaisance in her power.
Mrs. James now behaved herself so very unlike the person that she
lately appeared, that it might have surprized any one who doth not
know that besides that of a fine lady, which is all mere art and
mummery, every such woman hath some real character at the bottom, in
which, whenever nature gets the better of her, she acts. Thus the
finest ladies in the world will sometimes love, and sometimes scratch,
according to their different natural dispositions, with great fury and
violence, though both of these are equally inconsistent with a fine
lady's artificial character.
Mrs. James then was at the bottom a very good-natured woman, and the
moment she heard of Amelia's misfortune was sincerely grieved at it.
She had acquiesced on the very first motion with the colonel's design
of inviting her to her house; and this morning at breakfast, when he
had acquainted her that Amelia made some difficulty in accepting the
offer, very readily undertook to go herself and persuade her friend to
accept the invitation.
She now pressed this matter with such earnestness, that Amelia, who
was not extremely versed in the art of denying, was hardly able to
refuse her importunity; nothing, indeed, but her affection to Mrs.
Atkinson could have prevailed on her to refuse; that point, however,
she would not give up, and Mrs. James, at last, was contented with a
promise that, as soon as their affairs were settled, Amelia, with her
husband and family, would make her a visit, and stay some time with
her in the country, whither she was soon to retire.
Having obtained this promise, Mrs. James, after many very friendly
professions, took her leave, and, stepping into her coach, reassumed
the fine lady, and drove away to join her company at an auction.
The moment she was gone Mrs. Atkinson, who had left the room upon the
approach of Mrs. James, returned into it, and was informed by Amelia
of all that had past.
"Pray, madam," said Mrs. Atkinson, "do this colonel and his lady live,
as it is called, well together?"
"If you mean to ask," cries Amelia, "whether they are a very fond
couple, I must answer that I believe they are not."
"I have been told," says Mrs. Atkinson, "that there have been
instances of women who have become bawds to their own husbands, and
the husbands pimps for them."
"Fie upon it!" cries Amelia. "I hope there are no such people. Indeed,
my dear, this is being a little too censorious."
"Call it what you please," answered Mrs. Atkinson; "it arises from my
love to you and my fears for your danger. You know the proverb of a
burnt child; and, if such a one hath any good-nature, it will dread
the fire on the account of others as well as on its own. And, if I may
speak my sentiments freely, I cannot think you will be in safety at
this colonel's house."
"I cannot but believe your apprehensions to be sincere," replied
Amelia; "and I must think myself obliged to you for them; but I am
convinced you are entirely in an error. I look on Colonel James as the
most generous and best of men. He was a friend, and an excellent
friend too, to my husband, long before I was acquainted with him, and
he hath done him a thousand good offices. What do you say of his
"I wish," cries Mrs. Atkinson, "that this behaviour to-day had been
equal. What I am now going to undertake is the most disagreeable
office of friendship, but it is a necessary one. I must tell you,
therefore, what past this morning between the colonel and Mr.
Atkinson; for, though it will hurt you, you ought, on many accounts,
to know it." Here she related the whole, which we have recorded in the
preceding chapter, and with which the serjeant had acquainted her
while Mrs. James was paying her visit to Amelia. And, as the serjeant
had painted the matter rather in stronger colours than the colonel, so
Mrs. Atkinson again a little improved on the serjeant. Neither of
these good people, perhaps, intended to aggravate any circumstance;
but such is, I believe, the unavoidable consequence of all reports.
Mrs. Atkinson, indeed, may be supposed not to see what related to
James in the most favourable light, as the serjeant, with more honesty
than prudence, had suggested to his wife that the colonel had not the
kindest opinion of her, and had called her a sly and demure—-: it is
true he omitted ill-looking b—-; two words which are, perhaps,
superior to the patience of any Job in petticoats that ever lived. He
made amends, however, by substituting some other phrases in their
stead, not extremely agreeable to a female ear.
It appeared to Amelia, from Mrs. Atkinson's relation, that the colonel
had grossly abused Booth to the serjeant, and had absolutely refused
to become his bail. Poor Amelia became a pale and motionless statue at
this account. At length she cried, "If this be true, I and mine are
all, indeed, undone. We have no comfort, no hope, no friend left. I
cannot disbelieve you. I know you would not deceive me. Why should
you, indeed, deceive me? But what can have caused this alteration
since last night? Did I say or do anything to offend him?"
"You said and did rather, I believe, a great deal too much to please
him," answered Mrs. Atkinson. "Besides, he is not in the least
offended with you. On the contrary, he said many kind things."
"What can my poor love have done?" said Amelia. "He hath not seen the
colonel since last night. Some villain hath set him against my
husband; he was once before suspicious of such a person. Some cruel
monster hath belied his innocence!"
"Pardon me, dear madam," said Mrs. Atkinson; "I believe the person who
hath injured the captain with this friend of his is one of the
worthiest and best of creatures—nay, do not be surprized; the person
I mean is even your fair self: sure you would not be so dull in any
other case; but in this, gratitude, humility, modesty, every virtue,
shuts your eyes.
Mortales hebetant visus,
as Virgil says. What in the world can be more consistent than his
desire to have you at his own house and to keep your husband confined
in another? All that he said and all that he did yesterday, and, what
is more convincing to me than both, all that he looked last night, are
very consistent with both these designs."
"O Heavens!" cries Amelia, "you chill my blood with horror! the idea
freezes me to death; I cannot, must not, will not think it. Nothing
but conviction! Heaven forbid I should ever have more conviction! And
did he abuse my husband? what? did he abuse a poor, unhappy, distrest
creature, opprest, ruined, torn from his children, torn away from his
wretched wife; the honestest, worthiest, noblest, tenderest, fondest,
best—" Here she burst into an agony of grief, which exceeds the power
In this situation Mrs. Atkinson was doing her utmost to support her
when a most violent knocking was heard at the door, and immediately
the serjeant ran hastily into the room, bringing with him a cordial
which presently relieved Amelia. What this cordial was, we shall
inform the reader in due time. In the mean while he must suspend his
curiosity; and the gentlemen at White's may lay wagers whether it was
Ward's pill or Dr James's powder.
But before we close this chapter, and return back to the bailiff's
house, we must do our best to rescue the character of our heroine from
the dulness of apprehension, which several of our quick-sighted
readers may lay more heavily to her charge than was done by her friend
I must inform, therefore, all such readers, that it is not because
innocence is more blind than guilt that the former often overlooks and
tumbles into the pit which the latter foresees and avoids. The truth
is, that it is almost impossible guilt should miss the discovering of
all the snares in its way, as it is constantly prying closely into
every corner in order to lay snares for others. Whereas innocence,
having no such purpose, walks fearlessly and carelessly through life,
and is consequently liable to tread on the gins which cunning hath
laid to entrap it. To speak plainly and without allegory or figure, it
is not want of sense, but want of suspicion, by which innocence is
often betrayed. Again, we often admire at the folly of the dupe, when
we should transfer our whole surprize to the astonishing guilt of the
betrayer. In a word, many an innocent person hath owed his ruin to
this circumstance alone, that the degree of villany was such as must
have exceeded the faith of every man who was not himself a villain.
In which are many profound secrets of philosophy.
Booth, having had enough of the author's company the preceding day,
chose now another companion. Indeed the author was not very solicitous
of a second interview; for, as he could have no hope from Booth's
pocket, so he was not likely to receive much increase to his vanity
from Booth's conversation; for, low as this wretch was in virtue,
sense, learning, birth, and fortune, he was by no means low in his
vanity. This passion, indeed, was so high in him, and at the same time
so blinded him to his own demerits, that he hated every man who did
not either flatter him or give him money. In short, he claimed a
strange kind of right, either to cheat all his acquaintance of their
praise or to pick their pockets of their pence, in which latter case
he himself repaid very liberally with panegyric.
A very little specimen of such a fellow must have satisfied a man of
Mr. Booth's temper. He chose, therefore, now to associate himself with
that gentleman of whom Bondum had given so shabby a character. In
short, Mr. Booth's opinion of the bailiff was such, that he
recommended a man most where he least intended it. Nay, the bailiff in
the present instance, though he had drawn a malicious conclusion,
honestly avowed that this was drawn only from the poverty of the
person, which is never, I believe, any forcible disrecommendation to a
good mind: but he must have had a very bad mind indeed, who, in Mr.
Booth's circumstances, could have disliked or despised another man
because that other man was poor.
Some previous conversation having past between this gentleman and
Booth, in which they had both opened their several situations to each
other, the former, casting an affectionate look on the latter, exprest
great compassion for his circumstances, for which Booth, thanking him,
said, "You must have a great deal of compassion, and be a very good
man, in such a terrible situation as you describe yourself, to have
any pity to spare for other people."
"My affairs, sir," answered the gentleman, "are very bad, it is true,
and yet there is one circumstance which makes you appear to me more
the object of pity than I am to myself; and it is this—that you must
from your years be a novice in affliction, whereas I have served a
long apprenticeship to misery, and ought, by this time, to be a pretty
good master of my trade. To say the truth, I believe habit teaches men
to bear the burthens of the mind, as it inures them to bear heavy
burthens on their shoulders. Without use and experience, the strongest
minds and bodies both will stagger under a weight which habit might
render easy and even contemptible."
"There is great justice," cries Booth, "in the comparison; and I think
I have myself experienced the truth of it; for I am not that tyro in
affliction which you seem to apprehend me. And perhaps it is from the
very habit you mention that I am able to support my present
misfortunes a little like a man."
The gentleman smiled at this, and cried, "Indeed, captain, you are a
"I think," cries Booth, "I have some pretensions to that philosophy
which is taught by misfortunes, and you seem to be of opinion, sir,
that is one of the best schools of philosophy."
"I mean no more, sir," said the gentleman, "than that in the days of
our affliction we are inclined to think more seriously than in those
seasons of life when we are engaged in the hurrying pursuits of
business or pleasure, when we have neither leisure nor inclination to
sift and examine things to the bottom. Now there are two
considerations which, from my having long fixed my thoughts upon them,
have greatly supported me under all my afflictions. The one is the
brevity of life even at its longest duration, which the wisest of men
hath compared to the short dimension of a span. One of the Roman poets
compares it to the duration of a race; and another, to the much
shorter transition of a wave.
"The second consideration is the uncertainty of it. Short as its
utmost limits are, it is far from being assured of reaching those
limits. The next day, the next hour, the next moment, may be the end
of our course. Now of what value is so uncertain, so precarious a
station? This consideration, indeed, however lightly it is passed over
in our conception, doth, in a great measure, level all fortunes and
conditions, and gives no man a right to triumph in the happiest state,
or any reason to repine in the most miserable. Would the most worldly
men see this in the light in which they examine all other matters,
they would soon feel and acknowledge the force of this way of
reasoning; for which of them would give any price for an estate from
which they were liable to be immediately ejected? or, would they not
laugh at him as a madman who accounted himself rich from such an
uncertain possession? This is the fountain, sir, from which I have
drawn my philosophy. Hence it is that I have learnt to look on all
those things which are esteemed the blessings of life, and those which
are dreaded as its evils, with such a degree of indifference that, as
I should not be elated with possessing the former, so neither am I
greatly dejected and depressed by suffering the latter. Is the actor
esteemed happier to whose lot it falls to play the principal part than
he who plays the lowest? and yet the drama may run twenty nights
together, and by consequence may outlast our lives; but, at the best,
life is only a little longer drama, and the business of the great
stage is consequently a little more serious than that which is
performed at the Theatre-royal. But even here, the catastrophes and
calamities which are represented are capable of affecting us. The
wisest men can deceive themselves into feeling the distresses of a
tragedy, though they know them to be merely imaginary; and the
children will often lament them as realities: what wonder then, if
these tragical scenes which I allow to be a little more serious,
should a little more affect us? where then is the remedy but in the
philosophy I have mentioned, which, when once by a long course of
meditation it is reduced to a habit, teaches us to set a just value on
everything, and cures at once all eager wishes and abject fears, all
violent joy and grief concerning objects which cannot endure long, and
may not exist a moment."
"You have exprest yourself extremely well," cries Booth; "and I
entirely agree with the justice of your sentiments; but, however true
all this may be in theory, I still doubt its efficacy in practice. And
the cause of the difference between these two is this; that we reason
from our heads, but act from our hearts:
—-Video meliora, proboque;
Nothing can differ more widely than wise men and fools in their
estimation of things; but, as both act from their uppermost passion,
they both often act like. What comfort then can your philosophy give
to an avaricious man who is deprived of his riches or to an ambitious
man who is stript of his power? to the fond lover who is torn from his
mistress or to the tender husband who is dragged from his wife? Do you
really think that any meditations on the shortness of life will soothe
them in their afflictions? Is not this very shortness itself one of
their afflictions? and if the evil they suffer be a temporary
deprivation of what they love, will they not think their fate the
harder, and lament the more, that they are to lose any part of an
enjoyment to which there is so short and so uncertain a period?"
"I beg leave, sir," said the gentleman, "to distinguish here. By
philosophy, I do not mean the bare knowledge of right and wrong, but
an energy, a habit, as Aristotle calls it; and this I do firmly
believe, with him and with the Stoics, is superior to all the attacks
He was proceeding when the bailiff came in, and in a surly tone bad
them both good-morrow; after which he asked the philosopher if he was
prepared to go to Newgate; for that he must carry him thither that
The poor man seemed very much shocked with this news. "I hope," cries
he, "you will give a little longer time, if not till the return of the
writ. But I beg you particularly not to carry me thither to-day, for I
expect my wife and children here in the evening."
"I have nothing to do with wives and children," cried the bailiff; "I
never desire to see any wives and children here. I like no such
"I intreat you," said the prisoner, "give me another day. I shall take
it as a great obligation; and you will disappoint me in the cruellest
manner in the world if you refuse me."
"I can't help people's disappointments," cries the bailiff; "I must
consider myself and my own family. I know not where I shall be paid
the money that's due already. I can't afford to keep prisoners at my
"I don't intend it shall be at your expense" cries the philosopher;
"my wife is gone to raise money this morning; and I hope to pay you
all I owe you at her arrival. But we intend to sup together to-night
at your house; and, if you should remove me now, it would be the most
barbarous disappointment to us both, and will make me the most
miserable man alive."
"Nay, for my part," said the bailiff, "I don't desire to do anything
barbarous. I know how to treat gentlemen with civility as well as
another. And when people pay as they go, and spend their money like
gentlemen, I am sure nobody can accuse me of any incivility since I
have been in the office. And if you intend to be merry to-night I am
not the man that will prevent it. Though I say it, you may have as
good a supper drest here as at any tavern in town."
"Since Mr. Bondum is so kind, captain," said the philosopher, "I hope
for the favour of your company. I assure you, if it ever be my fortune
to go abroad into the world, I shall be proud of the honour of your
"Indeed, sir," cries Booth, "it is an honour I shall be very ready to
accept; but as for this evening, I cannot help saying I hope to be
engaged in another place."
"I promise you, sir," answered the other, "I shall rejoice at your
liberty, though I am a loser by it."
"Why, as to that matter," cries Bondum with a sneer, "I fancy,
captain, you may engage yourself to the gentleman without any fear of
breaking your word; for I am very much mistaken if we part to-day."
"Pardon me, my good friend," said Booth, "but I expect my bail every
"Lookee, sir," cries Bondum, "I don't love to see gentlemen in an
error. I shall not take the serjeant's bail; and as for the colonel, I
have been with him myself this morning (for to be sure I love to do
all I can for gentlemen), and he told me he could not possibly be here
to-day; besides, why should I mince the matter? there is more stuff in
"What do you mean by stuff?" cries Booth.
"I mean that there is another writ," answered the bailiff, "at the
suit of Mrs. Ellison, the gentlewoman that was here yesterday; and the
attorney that was with her is concerned against you. Some officers
would not tell you all this; but I loves to shew civility to gentlemen
while they behave themselves as such. And I loves the gentlemen of the
army in particular. I had like to have been in the army myself once;
but I liked the commission I have better. Come, captain, let not your
noble courage be cast down; what say you to a glass of white wine, or
a tiff of punch, by way of whet?"
"I have told you, sir, I never drink in the morning," cries Booth a
"No offence I hope, sir," said the bailiff; "I hope I have not treated
you with any incivility. I don't ask any gentleman to call for liquor
in my house if he doth not chuse it; nor I don't desire anybody to
stay here longer than they have a mind to. Newgate, to be sure, is the
place for all debtors that can't find bail. I knows what civility is,
and I scorn to behave myself unbecoming a gentleman: but I'd have you
consider that the twenty-four hours appointed by act of parliament are
almost out; and so it is time to think of removing. As to bail, I
would not have you flatter yourself; for I knows very well there are
other things coming against you. Besides, the sum you are already
charged with is very large, and I must see you in a place of safety.
My house is no prison, though I lock up for a little time in it.
Indeed, when gentlemen are gentlemen, and likely to find bail, I don't
stand for a day or two; but I have a good nose at a bit of carrion,
captain; I have not carried so much carrion to Newgate, without
knowing the smell of it."
"I understand not your cant," cries Booth; "but I did not think to
have offended you so much by refusing to drink in a morning."
"Offended me, sir!" cries the bailiff. "Who told you so? Do you think,
sir, if I want a glass of wine I am under any necessity of asking my
prisoners for it? Damn it, sir, I'll shew you I scorn your words. I
can afford to treat you with a glass of the best wine in England, if
you comes to that." He then pulled out a handful of guineas, saying,
"There, sir, they are all my own; I owe nobody a shilling. I am no
beggar, nor no debtor. I am the king's officer as well as you, and I
will spend guinea for guinea as long as you please."
"Harkee, rascal," cries Booth, laying hold of the bailiff's collar.
"How dare you treat me with this insolence? doth the law give you any
authority to insult me in my misfortunes?" At which words he gave the
bailiff a good shove, and threw him from him.
"Very well, sir," cries the bailiff; "I will swear both an assault and
an attempt to a rescue. If officers are to be used in this manner,
there is an end of all law and justice. But, though I am not a match
for you myself, I have those below that are." He then ran to the door
and called up two ill-looking fellows, his followers, whom, as soon as
they entered the room, he ordered to seize on Booth, declaring he
would immediately carry him to Newgate; at the same time pouring out a
vast quantity of abuse, below the dignity of history to record.
Booth desired the two dirty fellows to stand off, and declared he
would make no resistance; at the same time bidding the bailiff carry
him wherever he durst.
"I'll shew you what I dare," cries the bailiff; and again ordered the
followers to lay hold of their prisoner, saying, "He has assaulted me
already, and endeavoured a rescue. I shan't trust such a fellow to
walk at liberty. A gentleman, indeed! ay, ay, Newgate is the properest
place for such gentry; as arrant carrion as ever was carried thither."
The fellows then both laid violent hands on Booth, and the bailiff
stept to the door to order a coach; when, on a sudden, the whole scene
was changed in an instant; for now the serjeant came running out of
breath into the room; and, seeing his friend the captain roughly
handled by two ill-looking fellows, without asking any questions stept
briskly up to his assistance, and instantly gave one of the assailants
so violent a salute with his fist, that he directly measured his
length on the floor.
Booth, having by this means his right arm at liberty, was unwilling to
be idle, or entirely to owe his rescue from both the ruffians to the
serjeant; he therefore imitated the example which his friend had set
him, and with a lusty blow levelled the other follower with his
companion on the ground.
The bailiff roared out, "A rescue, a rescue!" to which the serjeant
answered there was no rescue intended. "The captain," said he, "wants
no rescue. Here are some friends coming who will deliver him in a
The bailiff swore heartily he would carry him to Newgate in spite of
all the friends in the world.
"You carry him to Newgate!" cried the serjeant, with the highest
indignation. "Offer but to lay your hands on him, and I will knock
your teeth down your ugly jaws." Then, turning to Booth, he cried,
"They will be all here within a minute, sir; we had much ado to keep
my lady from coming herself; but she is at home in good health,
longing to see your honour; and I hope you will be with her within
And now three gentlemen entered the room; these were an attorney, the
person whom the serjeant had procured in the morning to be his bail
with Colonel James, and lastly Doctor Harrison himself.
The bailiff no sooner saw the attorney, with whom he was well
acquainted (for the others he knew not), than he began, as the phrase
is, to pull in his horns, and ordered the two followers, who were now
got again on their legs, to walk down-stairs.
"So, captain," says the doctor, "when last we parted, I believe we
neither of us expected to meet in such a place as this."
"Indeed, doctor," cries Booth, "I did not expect to have been sent
hither by the gentleman who did me that favour."
"How so, sir?" said the doctor; "you was sent hither by some person, I
suppose, to whom you was indebted. This is the usual place, I
apprehend, for creditors to send their debtors to. But you ought to be
more surprized that the gentleman who sent you hither is come to
release you. Mr. Murphy, you will perform all the necessary
The attorney then asked the bailiff with how many actions Booth was
charged, and was informed there were five besides the doctor's, which
was much the heaviest of all. Proper bonds were presently provided,
and the doctor and the serjeant's friend signed them; the bailiff, at
the instance of the attorney, making no objection to the bail.
[Illustration: Lawyer Murphy]
Booth, we may be assured, made a handsome speech to the doctor for
such extraordinary friendship, with which, however, we do not think
proper to trouble the reader; and now everything being ended, and the
company ready to depart, the bailiff stepped up to Booth, and told him
he hoped he would remember civility-money.
"I believe" cries Booth, "you mean incivility-money; if there are any
fees due for rudeness, I must own you have a very just claim."
"I am sure, sir," cries the bailiff, "I have treated your honour with
all the respect in the world; no man, I am sure, can charge me with
using a gentleman rudely. I knows what belongs to a gentleman better;
but you can't deny that two of my men have been knocked down; and I
doubt not but, as you are a gentleman, you will give them something to
Booth was about to answer with some passion, when the attorney
interfered, and whispered in his ear that it was usual to make a
compliment to the officer, and that he had better comply with the
"If the fellow had treated me civilly," answered Booth, "I should have
had no objection to comply with a bad custom in his favour; but I am
resolved I will never reward a man for using me ill; and I will not
agree to give him a single farthing."
"'Tis very well, sir," said the bailiff; "I am rightly served for my
good-nature; but, if it had been to do again, I would have taken care
you should not have been bailed this day."
Doctor Harrison, to whom Booth referred the cause, after giving him a
succinct account of what had passed, declared the captain to be in the
right. He said it was a most horrid imposition that such fellows were
ever suffered to prey on the necessitous; but that the example would
be much worse to reward them where they had behaved themselves ill.
"And I think," says he, "the bailiff is worthy of great rebuke for
what he hath just now said; in which I hope he hath boasted of more
power than is in him. We do, indeed, with great justice and propriety
value ourselves on our freedom if the liberty of the subject depends
on the pleasure of such fellows as these!"
"It is not so neither altogether," cries the lawyer; "but custom hath
established a present or fee to them at the delivery of a prisoner,
which they call civility-money, and expect as in a manner their due,
though in reality they have no right."
"But will any man," cries Doctor Harrison, "after what the captain
hath told us, say that the bailiff hath behaved himself as he ought;
and, if he had, is he to be rewarded for not acting in an unchristian
and inhuman manner? it is pity that, instead of a custom of feeing
them out of the pockets of the poor and wretched, when they do not
behave themselves ill, there was not both a law and a practice to
punish them severely when they do. In the present case, I am so far
from agreeing to give the bailiff a shilling, that, if there be any
method of punishing him for his rudeness, I shall be heartily glad to
see it put in execution; for there are none whose conduct should be so
strictly watched as that of these necessary evils in the society, as
their office concerns for the most part those poor creatures who
cannot do themselves justice, and as they are generally the worst of
men who undertake it."
The bailiff then quitted the room, muttering that he should know
better what to do another time; and shortly after, Booth and his
friends left the house; but, as they were going out, the author took
Doctor Harrison aside, and slipt a receipt into his hand, which the
doctor returned, saying, he never subscribed when he neither knew the
work nor the author; but that, if he would call at his lodgings, he
would be very willing to give all the encouragement to merit which was
in his power.
The author took down the doctor's name and direction, and made him as
many bows as he would have done had he carried off the half-guinea for
which he had been fishing.
Mr. Booth then took his leave of the philosopher, and departed with
the rest of his friends.
END OF VOL. II.