HotFreeBooks.com
The Man of Feeling
by Henry Mackenzie
1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Transcribed by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk, from the 1886 Cassell & Company edition.



THE MAN OF FEELING



EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION



Henry Mackenzie, the son of an Edinburgh physician, was born in August, 1745. After education in the University of Edinburgh he went to London in 1765, at the age of twenty, for law studies, returned to Edinburgh, and became Crown Attorney in the Scottish Court of Exchequer. When Mackenzie was in London, Sterne's "Tristram Shandy" was in course of publication. The first two volumes had appeared in 1759, and the ninth appeared in 1767, followed in 1768, the year of Sterne's death, by "The Sentimental Journey." Young Mackenzie had a strong bent towards literature, and while studying law in London, he read Sterne, and falling in with the tone of sentiment which Sterne himself caught from the spirit of the time and the example of Rousseau, he wrote "The Man of Feeling." This book was published, without author's name, in 1771. It was so popular that a young clergyman made a copy of it popular with imagined passages of erasure and correction, on the strength of which he claimed to be its author, and obliged Henry Mackenzie to declare himself. In 1773 Mackenzie published a second novel, "The Man of the World," and in 1777 a third, "Julia de Roubigne." An essay-reading society in Edinburgh, of which he was a leader, started in January, 1779, a weekly paper called The Mirror, which he edited until May, 1780. Its writers afterwards joined in producing The Lounger, which lasted from February, 1785, to January, 1787. Henry Mackenzie contributed forty-two papers to The Mirror and fifty-seven to The Lounger. When the Royal Society of Edinburgh was founded Henry Mackenzie was active as one of its first members. He was also one of the founders of the Highland Society.

Although his "Man of Feeling" was a serious reflection of the false sentiment of the Revolution, Mackenzie joined afterwards in writing tracts to dissuade the people from faith in the doctrines of the Revolutionists. Mackenzie wrote also a tragedy, "The Prince of Tunis," which was acted with success at Edinburgh, and a comedy, "The White Hypocrite," which was acted once only at Covent garden. He died at the age of eighty-six, on the 13th June, 1831, having for many years been regarded as an elder friend of their own craft by the men of letters who in his days gave dignity to Edinburgh society, and caused the town to be called the Modern Athens.

A man of refined taste, who caught the tone of the French sentiment of his time, has, of course, pleased French critics, and has been translated into French. "The Man of Feeling" begins with imitation of Sterne, and proceeds in due course through so many tears that it is hardly to be called a dry book. As guide to persons of a calculating disposition who may read these pages I append an index to the Tears shed in "The Man of Feeling."



AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTION



My dog had made a point on a piece of fallow-ground, and led the curate and me two or three hundred yards over that and some stubble adjoining, in a breathless state of expectation, on a burning first of September.

It was a false point, and our labour was vain: yet, to do Rover justice (for he's an excellent dog, though I have lost his pedigree), the fault was none of his, the birds were gone: the curate showed me the spot where they had lain basking, at the root of an old hedge.

I stopped and cried Hem! The curate is fatter than I; he wiped the sweat from his brow.

There is no state where one is apter to pause and look round one, than after such a disappointment. It is even so in life. When we have been hurrying on, impelled by some warm wish or other, looking neither to the right hand nor to the left—we find of a sudden that all our gay hopes are flown; and the only slender consolation that some friend can give us, is to point where they were once to be found. And lo! if we are not of that combustible race, who will rather beat their heads in spite, than wipe their brows with the curate, we look round and say, with the nauseated listlessness of the king of Israel, "All is vanity and vexation of spirit."

I looked round with some such grave apophthegm in my mind when I discovered, for the first time, a venerable pile, to which the enclosure belonged. An air of melancholy hung about it. There was a languid stillness in the day, and a single crow, that perched on an old tree by the side of the gate, seemed to delight in the echo of its own croaking.

I leaned on my gun and looked; but I had not breath enough to ask the curate a question. I observed carving on the bark of some of the trees: 'twas indeed the only mark of human art about the place, except that some branches appeared to have been lopped, to give a view of the cascade, which was formed by a little rill at some distance.

Just at that instant I saw pass between the trees a young lady with a book in her hand. I stood upon a stone to observe her; but the curate sat him down on the grass, and leaning his back where I stood, told me, "That was the daughter of a neighbouring gentleman of the name of WALTON, whom he had seen walking there more than once.

"Some time ago," he said, "one HARLEY lived there, a whimsical sort of man I am told, but I was not then in the cure; though, if I had a turn for those things, I might know a good deal of his history, for the greatest part of it is still in my possession."

"His history!" said I. "Nay, you may call it what you please," said the curate; for indeed it is no more a history than it is a sermon. The way I came by it was this: some time ago, a grave, oddish kind of a man boarded at a farmer's in this parish: the country people called him The Ghost; and he was known by the slouch in his gait, and the length of his stride. I was but little acquainted with him, for he never frequented any of the clubs hereabouts. Yet for all he used to walk a-nights, he was as gentle as a lamb at times; for I have seen him playing at teetotum with the children, on the great stone at the door of our churchyard.

"Soon after I was made curate, he left the parish, and went nobody knows whither; and in his room was found a bundle of papers, which was brought to me by his landlord. I began to read them, but I soon grew weary of the task; for, besides that the hand is intolerably bad, I could never find the author in one strain for two chapters together; and I don't believe there's a single syllogism from beginning to end."

"I should be glad to see this medley," said I. "You shall see it now," answered the curate, "for I always take it along with me a- shooting." "How came it so torn?" "'Tis excellent wadding," said the curate.—This was a plea of expediency I was not in a condition to answer; for I had actually in my pocket great part of an edition of one of the German Illustrissimi, for the very same purpose. We exchanged books; and by that means (for the curate was a strenuous logician) we probably saved both.

When I returned to town, I had leisure to peruse the acquisition I had made: I found it a bundle of little episodes, put together without art, and of no importance on the whole, with something of nature, and little else in them. I was a good deal affected with some very trifling passages in it; and had the name of Marmontel, or a Richardson, been on the title-page—'tis odds that I should have wept: But

One is ashamed to be pleased with the works of one knows not whom.



CHAPTER XI {16}—ON BASHFULNESS.—A CHARACTER.—HIS OPINION ON THAT SUBJECT



There is some rust about every man at the beginning; though in some nations (among the French for instance) the ideas of the inhabitants, from climate, or what other cause you will, are so vivacious, so eternally on the wing, that they must, even in small societies, have a frequent collision; the rust therefore will wear off sooner: but in Britain it often goes with a man to his grave; nay, he dares not even pen a hic jacet to speak out for him after his death.

"Let them rub it off by travel," said the baronet's brother, who was a striking instance of excellent metal, shamefully rusted. I had drawn my chair near his. Let me paint the honest old man: 'tis but one passing sentence to preserve his image in my mind.

He sat in his usual attitude, with his elbow rested on his knee, and his fingers pressed on his cheek. His face was shaded by his hand; yet it was a face that might once have been well accounted handsome; its features were manly and striking, a dignity resided on his eyebrows, which were the largest I remember to have seen. His person was tall and well-made; but the indolence of his nature had now inclined it to corpulency.

His remarks were few, and made only to his familiar friends; but they were such as the world might have heard with veneration: and his heart, uncorrupted by its ways, was ever warm in the cause of virtue and his friends.

He is now forgotten and gone! The last time I was at Silton Hall, I saw his chair stand in its corner by the fire-side; there was an additional cushion on it, and it was occupied by my young lady's favourite lap dog. I drew near unperceived, and pinched its ears in the bitterness of my soul; the creature howled, and ran to its mistress. She did not suspect the author of its misfortune, but she bewailed it in the most pathetic terms; and kissing its lips, laid it gently on her lap, and covered it with a cambric handkerchief. I sat in my old friend's seat; I heard the roar of mirth and gaiety around me: poor Ben Silton! I gave thee a tear then: accept of one cordial drop that falls to thy memory now.

"They should wear it off by travel."—Why, it is true, said I, that will go far; but then it will often happen, that in the velocity of a modern tour, and amidst the materials through which it is commonly made, the friction is so violent, that not only the rust, but the metal too, is lost in the progress.

"Give me leave to correct the expression of your metaphor," said Mr. Silton: "that is not always rust which is acquired by the inactivity of the body on which it preys; such, perhaps, is the case with me, though indeed I was never cleared from my youth; but (taking it in its first stage) it is rather an encrustation, which nature has given for purposes of the greatest wisdom."

"You are right," I returned; "and sometimes, like certain precious fossils, there may be hid under it gems of the purest brilliancy."

"Nay, farther," continued Mr. Silton, "there are two distinct sorts of what we call bashfulness; this, the awkwardness of a booby, which a few steps into the world will convert into the pertness of a coxcomb; that, a consciousness, which the most delicate feelings produce, and the most extensive knowledge cannot always remove."

From the incidents I have already related, I imagine it will be concluded that Harley was of the latter species of bashful animals; at least, if Mr. Silton's principle is just, it may be argued on this side; for the gradation of the first mentioned sort, it is certain, he never attained. Some part of his external appearance was modelled from the company of those gentlemen, whom the antiquity of a family, now possessed of bare 250 pounds a year, entitled its representative to approach: these indeed were not many; great part of the property in his neighbourhood being in the hands of merchants, who had got rich by their lawful calling abroad, and the sons of stewards, who had got rich by their lawful calling at home: persons so perfectly versed in the ceremonial of thousands, tens of thousands, and hundreds of thousands (whose degrees of precedency are plainly demonstrable from the first page of the Complete Accomptant, or Young Man's Best Pocket Companion) that a bow at church from them to such a man as Harley would have made the parson look back into his sermon for some precept of Christian humility.



CHAPTER XII—OF WORLDLY INTERESTS



There are certain interests which the world supposes every man to have, and which therefore are properly enough termed worldly; but the world is apt to make an erroneous estimate: ignorant of the dispositions which constitute our happiness or misery, they bring to an undistinguished scale the means of the one, as connected with power, wealth, or grandeur, and of the other with their contraries. Philosophers and poets have often protested against this decision; but their arguments have been despised as declamatory, or ridiculed as romantic.

There are never wanting to a young man some grave and prudent friends to set him right in this particular, if he need it; to watch his ideas as they arise, and point them to those objects which a wise man should never forget.

Harley did not want for some monitors of this sort. He was frequently told of men whose fortunes enabled them to command all the luxuries of life, whose fortunes were of their own acquirement: his envy was invited by a description of their happiness, and his emulation by a recital of the means which had procured it.

Harley was apt to hear those lectures with indifference; nay, sometimes they got the better of his temper; and as the instances were not always amiable, provoked, on his part, some reflections, which I am persuaded his good-nature would else have avoided.

Indeed, I have observed one ingredient, somewhat necessary in a man's composition towards happiness, which people of feeling would do well to acquire; a certain respect for the follies of mankind: for there are so many fools whom the opinion of the world entitles to regard, whom accident has placed in heights of which they are unworthy, that he who cannot restrain his contempt or indignation at the sight will be too often quarrelling with the disposal of things to relish that share which is allotted to himself. I do not mean, however, to insinuate this to have been the case with Harley; on the contrary, if we might rely on his own testimony, the conceptions he had of pomp and grandeur served to endear the state which Providence had assigned him.

He lost his father, the last surviving of his parents, as I have already related, when he was a boy. The good man, from a fear of offending, as well as a regard to his son, had named him a variety of guardians; one consequence of which was, that they seldom met at all to consider the affairs of their ward; and when they did meet, their opinions were so opposite, that the only possible method of conciliation was the mediatory power of a dinner and a bottle, which commonly interrupted, not ended, the dispute; and after that interruption ceased, left the consulting parties in a condition not very proper for adjusting it. His education therefore had been but indifferently attended to; and after being taken from a country school, at which he had been boarded, the young gentleman was suffered to be his own master in the subsequent branches of literature, with some assistance from the parson of the parish in languages and philosophy, and from the exciseman in arithmetic and book-keeping. One of his guardians, indeed, who, in his youth, had been an inhabitant of the Temple, set him to read Coke upon Lyttelton: a book which is very properly put into the hands of beginners in that science, as its simplicity is accommodated to their understandings, and its size to their inclination. He profited but little by the perusal; but it was not without its use in the family: for his maiden aunt applied it commonly to the laudable purpose of pressing her rebellious linens to the folds she had allotted them.

There were particularly two ways of increasing his fortune, which might have occurred to people of less foresight than the counsellors we have mentioned. One of these was, the prospect of his succeeding to an old lady, a distant relation, who was known to be possessed of a very large sum in the stocks: but in this their hopes were disappointed; for the young man was so untoward in his disposition, that, notwithstanding the instructions he daily received, his visits rather tended to alienate than gain the good-will of his kinswoman. He sometimes looked grave when the old lady told the jokes of her youth; he often refused to eat when she pressed him, and was seldom or never provided with sugar-candy or liquorice when she was seized with a fit of coughing: nay, he had once the rudeness to fall asleep while she was describing the composition and virtues of her favourite cholic-water. In short, be accommodated himself so ill to her humour, that she died, and did not leave him a farthing.

The other method pointed out to him was an endeavour to get a lease of some crown-lands, which lay contiguous to his little paternal estate. This, it was imagined, might be easily procured, as the crown did not draw so much rent as Harley could afford to give, with very considerable profit to himself; and the then lessee had rendered himself so obnoxious to the ministry, by the disposal of his vote at an election, that he could not expect a renewal. This, however, needed some interest with the great, which Harley or his father never possessed.

His neighbour, Mr. Walton, having heard of this affair, generously offered his assistance to accomplish it. He told him, that though he had long been a stranger to courtiers, yet he believed there were some of them who might pay regard to his recommendation; and that, if he thought it worth the while to take a London journey upon the business, he would furnish him with a letter of introduction to a baronet of his acquaintance, who had a great deal to say with the first lord of the treasury.

When his friends heard of this offer, they pressed him with the utmost earnestness to accept of it.

They did not fail to enumerate the many advantages which a certain degree of spirit and assurance gives a man who would make a figure in the world: they repeated their instances of good fortune in others, ascribed them all to a happy forwardness of disposition; and made so copious a recital of the disadvantages which attend the opposite weakness, that a stranger, who had heard them, would have been led to imagine, that in the British code there was some disqualifying statute against any citizen who should be convicted of—modesty.

Harley, though he had no great relish for the attempt, yet could not resist the torrent of motives that assaulted him; and as he needed but little preparation for his journey, a day, not very distant, was fixed for his departure.



CHAPTER XIII—THE MAN OF FEELING IN LOVE



The day before that on which he set out, he went to take leave of Mr. Walton.—We would conceal nothing;—there was another person of the family to whom also the visit was intended, on whose account, perhaps, there were some tenderer feelings in the bosom of Harley than his gratitude for the friendly notice of that gentleman (though he was seldom deficient in that virtue) could inspire. Mr. Walton had a daughter; and such a daughter! we will attempt some description of her by and by.

Harley's notions of the ?a???, or beautiful, were not always to be defined, nor indeed such as the world would always assent to, though we could define them. A blush, a phrase of affability to an inferior, a tear at a moving tale, were to him, like the Cestus of Cytherea, unequalled in conferring beauty. For all these Miss Walton was remarkable; but as these, like the above-mentioned Cestus, are perhaps still more powerful when the wearer is possessed of souse degree of beauty, commonly so called, it happened, that, from this cause, they had more than usual power in the person of that young lady.

She was now arrived at that period of life which takes, or is supposed to take, from the flippancy of girlhood those sprightlinesses with which some good-natured old maids oblige the world at three-score. She had been ushered into life (as that word is used in the dialect of St. James's) at seventeen, her father being then in parliament, and living in London: at seventeen, therefore, she had been a universal toast; her health, now she was four-and-twenty, was only drank by those who knew her face at least. Her complexion was mellowed into a paleness, which certainly took from her beauty; but agreed, at least Harley used to say so, with the pensive softness of her mind. Her eyes were of that gentle hazel colour which is rather mild than piercing; and, except when they were lighted up by good-humour, which was frequently the case, were supposed by the fine gentlemen to want fire. Her air and manner were elegant in the highest degree, and were as sure of commanding respect as their mistress was far from demanding it. Her voice was inexpressibly soft; it was, according to that incomparable simile of Otway's,

- "like the shepherd's pipe upon the mountains, When all his little flock's at feed before him."

The effect it had upon Harley, himself used to paint ridiculously enough; and ascribed it to powers, which few believed, and nobody cared for.

Her conversation was always cheerful, but rarely witty; and without the smallest affectation of learning, had as much sentiment in it as would have puzzled a Turk, upon his principles of female materialism, to account for. Her beneficence was unbounded; indeed the natural tenderness of her heart might have been argued, by the frigidity of a casuist, as detracting from her virtue in this respect, for her humanity was a feeling, not a principle: but minds like Harley's are not very apt to make this distinction, and generally give our virtue credit for all that benevolence which is instinctive in our nature.

As her father had some years retired to the country, Harley had frequent opportunities of seeing her. He looked on her for some time merely with that respect and admiration which her appearance seemed to demand, and the opinion of others conferred upon her from this cause, perhaps, and from that extreme sensibility of which we have taken frequent notice, Harley was remarkably silent in her presence. He heard her sentiments with peculiar attention, sometimes with looks very expressive of approbation; but seldom declared his opinion on the subject, much less made compliments to the lady on the justness of her remarks.

From this very reason it was that Miss Walton frequently took more particular notice of him than of other visitors, who, by the laws of precedency, were better entitled to it: it was a mode of politeness she had peculiarly studied, to bring to the line of that equality, which is ever necessary for the ease of our guests, those whose sensibility had placed them below it.

Harley saw this; for though he was a child in the drama of the world, yet was it not altogether owing to a want of knowledge on his part; on the contrary, the most delicate consciousness of propriety often kindled that blush which marred the performance of it: this raised his esteem something above what the most sanguine descriptions of her goodness had been able to do; for certain it is, that notwithstanding the laboured definitions which very wise men have given us of the inherent beauty of virtue, we are always inclined to think her handsomest when she condescends to smile upon ourselves.

It would be trite to observe the easy gradation from esteem to love: in the bosom of Harley there scarce needed a transition; for there were certain seasons when his ideas were flushed to a degree much above their common complexion. In times not credulous of inspiration, we should account for this from some natural cause; but we do not mean to account for it at all; it were sufficient to describe its effects; but they were sometimes so ludicrous, as might derogate from the dignity of the sensations which produced them to describe. They were treated indeed as such by most of Harley's sober friends, who often laughed very heartily at the awkward blunders of the real Harley, when the different faculties, which should have prevented them, were entirely occupied by the ideal. In some of these paroxysms of fancy, Miss Walton did not fail to be introduced; and the picture which had been drawn amidst the surrounding objects of unnoticed levity was now singled out to be viewed through the medium of romantic imagination: it was improved of course, and esteem was a word inexpressive of the feelings which it excited.



CHAPTER XIV—HE SETS OUT ON HIS JOURNEY—THE BEGGAR AND HIS DOG



He had taken leave of his aunt on the eve of his intended departure; but the good lady's affection for her nephew interrupted her sleep, and early as it was next morning when Harley came downstairs to set out, he found her in the parlour with a tear on her cheek, and her caudle-cup in her hand. She knew enough of physic to prescribe against going abroad of a morning with an empty stomach. She gave her blessing with the draught; her instructions she had delivered the night before. They consisted mostly of negatives, for London, in her idea, was so replete with temptations that it needed the whole armour of her friendly cautions to repel their attacks.

Peter stood at the door. We have mentioned this faithful fellow formerly: Harley's father had taken him up an orphan, and saved him from being cast on the parish; and he had ever since remained in the service of him and of his son. Harley shook him by the hand as he passed, smiling, as if he had said, "I will not weep." He sprung hastily into the chaise that waited for him; Peter folded up the step. "My dear master," said he, shaking the solitary lock that hung on either side of his head, "I have been told as how London is a sad place." He was choked with the thought, and his benediction could not be heard: —but it shall be heard, honest Peter! where these tears will add to its energy.

In a few hours Harley reached the inn where he proposed breakfasting, but the fulness of his heart would not suffer him to eat a morsel. He walked out on the road, and gaining a little height, stood gazing on that quarter he had left. He looked for his wonted prospect, his fields, his woods, and his hills: they were lost in the distant clouds! He pencilled them on the clouds, and bade them farewell with a sigh!

He sat down on a large stone to take out a little pebble from his shoe, when he saw, at some distance, a beggar approaching him. He had on a loose sort of coat, mended with different-coloured rags, amongst which the blue and the russet were the predominant. He had a short knotty stick in his hand, and on the top of it was stuck a ram's horn; his knees (though he was no pilgrim) had worn the stuff of his breeches; he wore no shoes, and his stockings had entirely lost that part of them which should have covered his feet and ankles; in his face, however, was the plump appearance of good humour; he walked a good round pace, and a crook-legged dog trotted at his heels.

"Our delicacies," said Harley to himself, "are fantastic; they are not in nature! that beggar walks over the sharpest of these stones barefooted, whilst I have lost the most delightful dream in the world, from the smallest of them happening to get into my shoe." The beggar had by this time come up, and, pulling off a piece of hat, asked charity of Harley; the dog began to beg too: —it was impossible to resist both; and, in truth, the want of shoes and stockings had made both unnecessary, for Harley had destined sixpence for him before. The beggar, on receiving it, poured forth blessings without number; and, with a sort of smile on his countenance, said to Harley "that if he wanted to have his fortune told"—Harley turned his eye briskly on the beggar: it was an unpromising look for the subject of a prediction, and silenced the prophet immediately. "I would much rather learn," said Harley, "what it is in your power to tell me: your trade must be an entertaining one; sit down on this stone, and let me know something of your profession; I have often thought of turning fortune-teller for a week or two myself."

"Master," replied the beggar, "I like your frankness much; God knows I had the humour of plain-dealing in me from a child, but there is no doing with it in this world; we must live as we can, and lying is, as you call it, my profession, but I was in some sort forced to the trade, for I dealt once in telling truth.

"I was a labourer, sir, and gained as much as to make me live: I never laid by indeed: for I was reckoned a piece of a wag, and your wags, I take it, are seldom rich, Mr. Harley."

"So," said Harley, "you seem to know me."

"Ay, there are few folks in the country that I don't know something of: how should I tell fortunes else?"

"True; but to go on with your story: you were a labourer, you say, and a wag; your industry, I suppose, you left with your old trade, but your humour you preserve to be of use to you in your new."

"What signifies sadness, sir? a man grows lean on't: but I was brought to my idleness by degrees; first I could not work, and it went against my stomach to work ever after. I was seized with a jail fever at the time of the assizes being in the county where I lived; for I was always curious to get acquainted with the felons, because they are commonly fellows of much mirth and little thought, qualities I had ever an esteem for. In the height of this fever, Mr. Harley, the house where I lay took fire, and burnt to the ground; I was carried out in that condition, and lay all the rest of my illness in a barn. I got the better of my disease, however, but I was so weak that I spit blood whenever I attempted to work. I had no relation living that I knew of, and I never kept a friend above a week, when I was able to joke; I seldom remained above six months in a parish, so that I might have died before I had found a settlement in any: thus I was forced to beg my bread, and a sorry trade I found it, Mr. Harley. I told all my misfortunes truly, but they were seldom believed; and the few who gave me a halfpenny as they passed did it with a shake of the head, and an injunction not to trouble them with a long story. In short, I found that people don't care to give alms without some security for their money; a wooden leg or a withered arm is a sort of draught upon heaven for those who choose to have their money placed to account there; so I changed my plan, and, instead of telling my own misfortunes, began to prophesy happiness to others. This I found by much the better way: folks will always listen when the tale is their own, and of many who say they do not believe in fortune-telling, I have known few on whom it had not a very sensible effect. I pick up the names of their acquaintance; amours and little squabbles are easily gleaned among servants and neighbours; and indeed people themselves are the best intelligencers in the world for our purpose: they dare not puzzle us for their own sakes, for every one is anxious to hear what they wish to believe, and they who repeat it, to laugh at it when they have done, are generally more serious than their hearers are apt to imagine. With a tolerable good memory, and some share of cunning, with the help of walking a-nights over heaths and church-yards, with this, and showing the tricks of that there dog, whom I stole from the serjeant of a marching regiment (and by the way, he can steal too upon occasion), I make shift to pick up a livelihood. My trade, indeed, is none of the honestest; yet people are not much cheated neither who give a few half-pence for a prospect of happiness, which I have heard some persons say is all a man can arrive at in this world. But I must bid you good day, sir, for I have three miles to walk before noon, to inform some boarding-school young ladies whether their husbands are to be peers of the realm or captains in the army: a question which I promised to answer them by that time."

Harley had drawn a shilling from his pocket; but Virtue bade him consider on whom he was going to bestow it. Virtue held back his arm; but a milder form, a younger sister of Virtue's, not so severe as Virtue, nor so serious as Pity, smiled upon him; his fingers lost their compression, nor did Virtue offer to catch the money as it fell. It had no sooner reached the ground than the watchful cur (a trick he had been taught) snapped it up, and, contrary to the most approved method of stewardship, delivered it immediately into the hands of his master.



CHAPTER XIX—HE MAKES A SECOND EXPEDITION TO THE BARONET'S. THE LAUDABLE AMBITION OF A YOUNG MAN TO BE THOUGHT SOMETHING BY THE WORLD



We have related, in a former chapter, the little success of his first visit to the great man, for whom he had the introductory letter from Mr. Walton. To people of equal sensibility, the influence of those trifles we mentioned on his deportment will not appear surprising, but to his friends in the country they could not be stated, nor would they have allowed them any place in the account. In some of their letters, therefore, which he received soon after, they expressed their surprise at his not having been more urgent in his application, and again recommended the blushless assiduity of successful merit.

He resolved to make another attempt at the baronet's; fortified with higher notions of his own dignity, and with less apprehension of repulse. In his way to Grosvenor Square he began to ruminate on the folly of mankind, who affixed those ideas of superiority to riches, which reduced the minds of men, by nature equal with the more fortunate, to that sort of servility which he felt in his own. By the time he had reached the Square, and was walking along the pavement which led to the baronet's, he had brought his reasoning on the subject to such a point, that the conclusion, by every rule of logic, should have led him to a thorough indifference in his approaches to a fellow-mortal, whether that fellow-mortal was possessed of six or six thousand pounds a year. It is probable, however, that the premises had been improperly formed: for it is certain, that when he approached the great man's door he felt his heart agitated by an unusual pulsation.

He had almost reached it, when he observed among gentleman coming out, dressed in a white frock and a red laced waistcoat, with a small switch in his hand, which he seemed to manage with a particular good grace. As he passed him on the steps, the stranger very politely made him a bow, which Harley returned, though he could not remember ever having seen him before. He asked Harley, in the same civil manner, if he was going to wait on his friend the baronet. "For I was just calling," said he, "and am sorry to find that he is gone for some days into the country."

Harley thanked him for his information, and was turning from the door, when the other observed that it would be proper to leave his name, and very obligingly knocked for that purpose.

"Here is a gentleman, Tom, who meant to have waited on your master."

"Your name, if you please, sir?"

"Harley."

"You'll remember, Tom, Harley."

The door was shut. "Since we are here," said he, "we shall not lose our walk if we add a little to it by a turn or two in Hyde Park."

He accompanied this proposal with a second bow, and Harley accepted of it by another in return.

The conversation, as they walked, was brilliant on the side of his companion. The playhouse, the opera, with every occurrence in high life, he seemed perfectly master of; and talked of some reigning beauties of quality in a manner the most feeling in the world. Harley admired the happiness of his vivacity, and, opposite as it was to the reserve of his own nature, began to be much pleased with its effects.

Though I am not of opinion with some wise men, that the existence of objects depends on idea, yet I am convinced that their appearance is not a little influenced by it. The optics of some minds are in so unlucky a perspective as to throw a certain shade on every picture that is presented to them, while those of others (of which number was Harley), like the mirrors of the ladies, have a wonderful effect in bettering their complexions. Through such a medium perhaps he was looking on his present companion.

When they had finished their walk, and were returning by the corner of the Park, they observed a board hung out of a window signifying, "An excellent ORDINARY on Saturdays and Sundays." It happened to be Saturday, and the table was covered for the purpose.

"What if we should go in and dine here, if you happen not to be engaged, sir?" said the young gentleman. "It is not impossible but we shall meet with some original or other; it is a sort of humour I like hugely."

Harley made no objection, and the stranger showed him the way into the parlour.

He was placed, by the courtesy of his introductor, in an arm-chair that stood at one side of the fire. Over against him was seated a man of a grave considering aspect, with that look of sober prudence which indicates what is commonly called a warm man. He wore a pretty large wig, which had once been white, but was now of a brownish yellow; his coat was one of those modest-coloured drabs which mock the injuries of dust and dirt; two jack-boots concealed, in part, the well-mended knees of an old pair of buckskin breeches; while the spotted handkerchief round his neck preserved at once its owner from catching cold and his neck-cloth from being dirtied. Next him sat another man, with a tankard in his hand and a quid of tobacco in his cheek, whose eye was rather more vivacious, and whose dress was something smarter.

The first-mentioned gentleman took notice that the room had been so lately washed, as not to have had time to dry, and remarked that wet lodging was unwholesome for man or beast. He looked round at the same time for a poker to stir the fire with, which, he at last observed to the company, the people of the house had removed in order to save their coals. This difficulty, however, he overcame by the help of Harley's stick, saying, "that as they should, no doubt, pay for their fire in some shape or other, he saw no reason why they should not have the use of it while they sat."

The door was now opened for the admission of dinner. "I don't know how it is with you, gentlemen," said Harley's new acquaintance, "but I am afraid I shall not be able to get down a morsel at this horrid mechanical hour of dining." He sat down, however, and did not show any want of appetite by his eating. He took upon him the carving of the meat, and criticised on the goodness of the pudding.

When the table-cloth was removed, he proposed calling for some punch, which was readily agreed to; he seemed at first inclined to make it himself, but afterwards changed his mind, and left that province to the waiter, telling him to have it pure West Indian, or he could not taste a drop of it.

When the punch was brought he undertook to fill the glasses and call the toasts. "The King."—The toast naturally produced politics. It is the privilege of Englishmen to drink the king's health, and to talk of his conduct. The man who sat opposite to Harley (and who by this time, partly from himself, and partly from his acquaintance on his left hand, was discovered to be a grazier) observed, "That it was a shame for so many pensioners to be allowed to take the bread out of the mouth of the poor."

"Ay, and provisions," said his friend, "were never so dear in the memory of man; I wish the king and his counsellors would look to that."

"As for the matter of provisions, neighbour Wrightson," he replied, "I am sure the prices of cattle—"

A dispute would have probably ensued, but it was prevented by the spruce toastmaster, who gave a sentiment, and turning to the two politicians, "Pray, gentlemen," said he, "let us have done with these musty politics: I would always leave them to the beer-suckers in Butcher Row. Come, let us have something of the fine arts. That was a damn'd hard match between Joe the Nailor and Tim Bucket. The knowing ones were cursedly taken in there! I lost a cool hundred myself, faith."

At mention of the cool hundred, the grazier threw his eyes aslant, with a mingled look of doubt and surprise; while the man at his elbow looked arch, and gave a short emphatical sort of cough.

Both seemed to be silenced, however, by this intelligence; and while the remainder of the punch lasted the conversation was wholly engrossed by the gentleman with the fine waistcoat, who told a great many "immense comical stories" and "confounded smart things," as he termed them, acted and spoken by lords, ladies, and young bucks of quality, of his acquaintance. At last, the grazier, pulling out a watch, of a very unusual size, and telling the hour, said that he had an appointment.

"Is it so late?" said the young gentleman; "then I am afraid I have missed an appointment already; but the truth is, I am cursedly given to missing of appointments."

When the grazier and he were gone, Harley turned to the remaining personage, and asked him if he knew that young gentleman. "A gentleman!" said he; "ay, he is one of your gentlemen at the top of an affidavit. I knew him, some years ago, in the quality of a footman; and I believe he had some times the honour to be a pimp. At last, some of the great folks, to whom he had been serviceable in both capacities, had him made a gauger; in which station he remains, and has the assurance to pretend an acquaintance with men of quality. The impudent dog! with a few shillings in his pocket, he will talk you three times as much as my friend Mundy there, who is worth nine thousand if he's worth a farthing. But I know the rascal, and despise him, as he deserves."

Harley began to despise him too, and to conceive some indignation at having sat with patience to hear such a fellow speak nonsense. But he corrected himself by reflecting that he was perhaps as well entertained, and instructed too, by this same modest gauger, as he should have been by such a man as he had thought proper to personate. And surely the fault may more properly be imputed to that rank where the futility is real than where it is feigned: to that rank whose opportunities for nobler accomplishments have only served to rear a fabric of folly which the untutored hand of affectation, even among the meanest of mankind, can imitate with success.



CHAPTER XX—HE VISITS BEDLAM.—THE DISTRESSES OF A DAUGHTER



Or those things called Sights in London, which every stranger is supposed desirous to see, Bedlam is one. To that place, therefore, an acquaintance of Harley's, after having accompanied him to several other shows, proposed a visit. Harley objected to it, "because," said he, "I think it an inhuman practice to expose the greatest misery with which our nature is afflicted to every idle visitant who can afford a trifling perquisite to the keeper; especially as it is a distress which the humane must see, with the painful reflection, that it is not in their power to alleviate it." He was overpowered, however, by the solicitations of his friend and the other persons of the party (amongst whom were several ladies); and they went in a body to Moorfields.

Their conductor led them first to the dismal mansions of those who are in the most horrid state of incurable madness. The clanking of chains, the wildness of their cries, and the imprecations which some of them uttered, formed a scene inexpressibly shocking. Harley and his companions, especially the female part of them, begged their guide to return; he seemed surprised at their uneasiness, and was with difficulty prevailed on to leave that part of the house without showing them some others: who, as he expressed it in the phrase of those that keep wild beasts for show, were much better worth seeing than any they had passed, being ten times more fierce and unmanageable.

He led them next to that quarter where those reside who, as they are not dangerous to themselves or others, enjoy a certain degree of freedom, according to the state of their distemper.

Harley had fallen behind his companions, looking at a man who was making pendulums with bits of thread and little balls of clay. He had delineated a segment of a circle on the wall with chalk, and marked their different vibrations by intersecting it with cross lines. A decent-looking man came up, and smiling at the maniac, turned to Harley, and told him that gentleman had once been a very celebrated mathematician. "He fell a sacrifice," said he, "to the theory of comets; for having, with infinite labour, formed a table on the conjectures of Sir Isaac Newton, he was disappointed in the return of one of those luminaries, and was very soon after obliged to be placed here by his friends. If you please to follow me, sir," continued the stranger, "I believe I shall be able to give you a more satisfactory account of the unfortunate people you see here than the man who attends your companions."

Harley bowed, and accepted his offer.

The next person they came up to had scrawled a variety of figures on a piece of slate. Harley had the curiosity to take a nearer view of them. They consisted of different columns, on the top of which were marked South-sea annuities, India-stock, and Three per cent. annuities consol. "This," said Harley's instructor, "was a gentleman well known in Change Alley. He was once worth fifty thousand pounds, and had actually agreed for the purchase of an estate in the West, in order to realise his money; but he quarrelled with the proprietor about the repairs of the garden wall, and so returned to town, to follow his old trade of stock-jobbing a little longer; when an unlucky fluctuation of stock, in which he was engaged to an immense extent, reduced him at once to poverty and to madness. Poor wretch! he told me t'other day that against the next payment of differences he should be some hundreds above a plum."

"It is a spondee, and I will maintain it," interrupted a voice on his left hand. This assertion was followed by a very rapid recital of some verses from Homer. "That figure," said the gentleman, "whose clothes are so bedaubed with snuff, was a schoolmaster of some reputation: he came hither to be resolved of some doubts he entertained concerning the genuine pronunciation of the Greek vowels. In his highest fits, he makes frequent mention of one Mr. Bentley.

"But delusive ideas, sir, are the motives of the greatest part of mankind, and a heated imagination the power by which their actions are incited: the world, in the eye of a philosopher, may be said to be a large madhouse." "It is true," answered Harley, "the passions of men are temporary madnesses; and sometimes very fatal in their effects.

From Macedonia's madman to the Swede."

"It was, indeed," said the stranger, "a very mad thing in Charles to think of adding so vast a country as Russia to his dominions: that would have been fatal indeed; the balance of the North would then have been lost; but the Sultan and I would never have allowed it."— "Sir!" said Harley, with no small surprise on his countenance.— "Why, yes," answered the other, "the Sultan and I; do you know me? I am the Chan of Tartary."

Harley was a good deal struck by this discovery; he had prudence enough, however, to conceal his amazement, and bowing as low to the monarch as his dignity required, left him immediately, and joined his companions.

He found them in a quarter of the house set apart for the insane of the other sex, several of whom had gathered about the female visitors, and were examining, with rather more accuracy than might have been expected, the particulars of their dress.

Separate from the rest stood one whose appearance had something of superior dignity. Her face, though pale and wasted, was less squalid than those of the others, and showed a dejection of that decent kind, which moves our pity unmixed with horror: upon her, therefore, the eyes of all were immediately turned. The keeper who accompanied them observed it: "This," said he, "is a young lady who was born to ride in her coach and six. She was beloved, if the story I have heard is true, by a young gentleman, her equal in birth, though by no means her match in fortune: but love, they say, is blind, and so she fancied him as much as he did her. Her father, it seems, would not hear of their marriage, and threatened to turn her out of doors if ever she saw him again. Upon this the young gentleman took a voyage to the West Indies, in hopes of bettering his fortune, and obtaining his mistress; but he was scarce landed, when he was seized with one of the fevers which are common in those islands, and died in a few days, lamented by every one that knew him. This news soon reached his mistress, who was at the same time pressed by her father to marry a rich miserly fellow, who was old enough to be her grandfather. The death of her lover had no effect on her inhuman parent: he was only the more earnest for her marriage with the man he had provided for her; and what between her despair at the death of the one, and her aversion to the other, the poor young lady was reduced to the condition you see her in. But God would not prosper such cruelty; her father's affairs soon after went to wreck, and he died almost a beggar."

Though this story was told in very plain language, it had particularly attracted Harley's notice; he had given it the tribute of some tears. The unfortunate young lady had till now seemed entranced in thought, with her eyes fixed on a little garnet ring she wore on her finger; she turned them now upon Harley. "My Billy is no more!" said she; "do you weep for my Billy? Blessings on your tears! I would weep too, but my brain is dry; and it burns, it burns, it burns!"—She drew nearer to Harley.—"Be comforted, young lady," said he, "your Billy is in heaven."—"Is he, indeed? and shall we meet again? and shall that frightful man (pointing to the keeper) not be there!—Alas! I am grown naughty of late; I have almost forgotten to think of heaven: yet I pray sometimes; when I can, I pray; and sometimes I sing; when I am saddest, I sing: —You shall hear me—hush!

"Light be the earth on Billy's breast, And green the sod that wraps his grave."

There was a plaintive wildness in the air not to be withstood; and, except the keeper's, there was not an unmoistened eye around her.

"Do you weep again?" said she. "I would not have you weep: you are like my Billy; you are, believe me; just so he looked when he gave me this ring; poor Billy! 'twas the last time ever we met! -

"'Twas when the seas were roaring—I love you for resembling my Billy; but I shall never love any man like him."—She stretched out her hand to Harley; he pressed it between both of his, and bathed it with his tears.—"Nay, that is Billy's ring," said she, "you cannot have it, indeed; but here is another, look here, which I plated to- day of some gold-thread from this bit of stuff; will you keep it for my sake? I am a strange girl; but my heart is harmless: my poor heart; it will burst some day; feel how it beats!" She pressed his hand to her bosom, then holding her head in the attitude of listening—"Hark! one, two, three! be quiet, thou little trembler; my Billy is cold!—but I had forgotten the ring."—She put it on his finger. "Farewell! I must leave you now."—She would have withdrawn her hand; Harley held it to his lips.—"I dare not stay longer; my head throbs sadly: farewell!"—She walked with a hurried step to a little apartment at some distance. Harley stood fixed in astonishment and pity; his friend gave money to the keeper.—Harley looked on his ring.—He put a couple of guineas into the man's hand: "Be kind to that unfortunate."—He burst into tears, and left them.



CHAPTER XXI—THE MISANTHROPE



The friend who had conducted him to Moorfields called upon him again the next evening. After some talk on the adventures of the preceding day: "I carried you yesterday," said he to Harley, "to visit the mad; let me introduce you to-night, at supper, to one of the wise: but you must not look for anything of the Socratic pleasantry about him; on the contrary, I warn you to expect the spirit of a Diogenes. That you may be a little prepared for his extraordinary manner, I will let you into some particulars of his history.

"He is the elder of the two sons of a gentleman of considerable estate in the country. Their father died when they were young: both were remarkable at school for quickness of parts and extent of genius; this had been bred to no profession, because his father's fortune, which descended to him, was thought sufficient to set him above it; the other was put apprentice to an eminent attorney. In this the expectations of his friends were more consulted than his own inclination; for both his brother and he had feelings of that warm kind that could ill brook a study so dry as the law, especially in that department of it which was allotted to him. But the difference of their tempers made the characteristical distinction between them. The younger, from the gentleness of his nature, bore with patience a situation entirely discordant to his genius and disposition. At times, indeed, his pride would suggest of how little importance those talents were which the partiality of his friends had often extolled: they were now incumbrances in a walk of life where the dull and the ignorant passed him at every turn; his fancy and his feeling were invincible obstacles to eminence in a situation where his fancy had no room for exertion, and his feeling experienced perpetual disgust. But these murmurings he never suffered to be heard; and that he might not offend the prudence of those who had been concerned in the choice of his profession, he continued to labour in it several years, till, by the death of a relation, he succeeded to an estate of a little better than 100 pounds a year, with which, and the small patrimony left him, he retired into the country, and made a love-match with a young lady of a similar temper to his own, with whom the sagacious world pitied him for finding happiness.

"But his elder brother, whom you are to see at supper, if you will do us the favour of your company, was naturally impetuous, decisive, and overbearing. He entered into life with those ardent expectations by which young men are commonly deluded: in his friendships, warm to excess; and equally violent in his dislikes. He was on the brink of marriage with a young lady, when one of those friends, for whose honour he would have pawned his life, made an elopement with that very goddess, and left him besides deeply engaged for sums which that good friend's extravagance had squandered.

"The dreams he had formerly enjoyed were now changed for ideas of a very different nature. He abjured all confidence in anything of human form; sold his lands, which still produced him a very large reversion, came to town, and immured himself, with a woman who had been his nurse, in little better than a garret; and has ever since applied his talents to the vilifying of his species. In one thing I must take the liberty to instruct you; however different your sentiments may be (and different they must be), you will suffer him to go on without contradiction; otherwise, he will be silent immediately, and we shall not get a word from him all the night after." Harley promised to remember this injunction, and accepted the invitation of his friend.

When they arrived at the house, they were informed that the gentleman was come, and had been shown into the parlour. They found him sitting with a daughter of his friend's, about three years old, on his knee, whom he was teaching the alphabet from a horn book: at a little distance stood a sister of hers, some years older. "Get you away, miss," said he to this last; "you are a pert gossip, and I will have nothing to do with you."—"Nay," answered she, "Nancy is your favourite; you are quite in love with Nancy."—"Take away that girl," said he to her father, whom he now observed to have entered the room; "she has woman about her already." The children were accordingly dismissed.

Betwixt that and supper-time he did not utter a syllable. When supper came, he quarrelled with every dish at table, but eat of them all; only exempting from his censures a salad, "which you have not spoiled," said he, "because you have not attempted to cook it."

When the wine was set upon the table, he took from his pocket a particular smoking apparatus, and filled his pipe, without taking any more notice of Harley, or his friend, than if no such persons had been in the room.

Harley could not help stealing a look of surprise at him; but his friend, who knew his humour, returned it by annihilating his presence in the like manner, and, leaving him to his own meditations, addressed himself entirely to Harley.

In their discourse some mention happened to be made of an amiable character, and the words HONOUR and POLITENESS were applied to it. Upon this, the gentleman, laying down his pipe, and changing the tone of his countenance, from an ironical grin to something more intently contemptuous: "Honour," said he: "Honour and Politeness! this is the coin of the world, and passes current with the fools of it. You have substituted the shadow Honour, instead of the substance Virtue; and have banished the reality of friendship for the fictitious semblance which you have termed Politeness: politeness, which consists in a certain ceremonious jargon, more ridiculous to the ear of reason than the voice of a puppet. You have invented sounds, which you worship, though they tyrannize over your peace; and are surrounded with empty forms, which take from the honest emotions of joy, and add to the poignancy of misfortune." "Sir!" said Harley—his friend winked to him, to remind him of the caution he had received. He was silenced by the thought. The philosopher turned his eye upon him: he examined him from top to toe, with a sort of triumphant contempt; Harley's coat happened to be a new one; the other's was as shabby as could possibly be supposed to be on the back of a gentleman: there was much significance in his look with regard to this coat; it spoke of the sleekness of folly and the threadbareness of wisdom.

"Truth," continued he, "the most amiable, as well as the most natural of virtues, you are at pains to eradicate. Your very nurseries are seminaries of falsehood; and what is called Fashion in manhood completes the system of avowed insincerity. Mankind, in the gross, is a gaping monster, that loves to be deceived, and has seldom been disappointed: nor is their vanity less fallacious to your philosophers, who adopt modes of truth to follow them through the paths of error, and defend paradoxes merely to be singular in defending them. These are they whom ye term Ingenious; 'tis a phrase of commendation I detest: it implies an attempt to impose on my judgment, by flattering my imagination; yet these are they whose works are read by the old with delight, which the young are taught to look upon as the codes of knowledge and philosophy.

"Indeed, the education of your youth is every way preposterous; you waste at school years in improving talents, without having ever spent an hour in discovering them; one promiscuous line of instruction is followed, without regard to genius, capacity, or probable situation in the commonwealth. From this bear-garden of the pedagogue, a raw, unprincipled boy is turned loose upon the world to travel; without any ideas but those of improving his dress at Paris, or starting into taste by gazing on some paintings at Rome. Ask him of the manners of the people, and he will tell you that the skirt is worn much shorter in France, and that everybody eats macaroni in Italy. When he returns home, he buys a seat in parliament, and studies the constitution at Arthur's.

"Nor are your females trained to any more useful purpose: they are taught, by the very rewards which their nurses propose for good behaviour, by the first thing like a jest which they hear from every male visitor of the family, that a young woman is a creature to be married; and when they are grown somewhat older, are instructed that it is the purpose of marriage to have the enjoyment of pin-money, and the expectation of a jointure."

"These, {61} indeed, are the effects of luxury, which is, perhaps, inseparable from a certain degree of power and grandeur in a nation. But it is not simply of the progress of luxury that we have to complain: did its votaries keep in their own sphere of thoughtless dissipation, we might despise them without emotion; but the frivolous pursuits of pleasure are mingled with the most important concerns of the state; and public enterprise shall sleep till he who should guide its operation has decided his bets at Newmarket, or fulfilled his engagement with a favourite mistress in the country. We want some man of acknowledged eminence to point our counsels with that firmness which the counsels of a great people require. We have hundreds of ministers, who press forward into office without having ever learned that art which is necessary for every business: the art of thinking; and mistake the petulance, which could give inspiration to smart sarcasms on an obnoxious measure in a popular assembly, for the ability which is to balance the interest of kingdoms, and investigate the latent sources of national superiority. With the administration of such men the people can never be satisfied; for besides that their confidence is gained only by the view of superior talents, there needs that depth of knowledge, which is not only acquainted with the just extent of power, but can also trace its connection with the expedient, to preserve its possessors from the contempt which attends irresolution, or the resentment which follows temerity."

* * * * *

[Here a considerable part is wanting.]

* * "In short, man is an animal equally selfish and vain. Vanity, indeed, is but a modification of selfishness. From the latter, there are some who pretend to be free: they are generally such as declaim against the lust of wealth and power, because they have never been able to attain any high degree in either: they boast of generosity and feeling. They tell us (perhaps they tell us in rhyme) that the sensations of an honest heart, of a mind universally benevolent, make up the quiet bliss which they enjoy; but they will not, by this, be exempted from the charge of selfishness. Whence the luxurious happiness they describe in their little family- circles? Whence the pleasure which they feel, when they trim their evening fires, and listen to the howl of winter's wind? Whence, but from the secret reflection of what houseless wretches feel from it? Or do you administer comfort in affliction—the motive is at hand; I have had it preached to me in nineteen out of twenty of your consolatory discourses—the comparative littleness of our own misfortunes.

"With vanity your best virtues are grossly tainted: your benevolence, which ye deduce immediately from the natural impulse of the heart, squints to it for its reward. There are some, indeed, who tell us of the satisfaction which flows from a secret consciousness of good actions: this secret satisfaction is truly excellent—when we have some friend to whom we may discover its excellence."

He now paused a moment to re-light his pipe, when a clock, that stood at his back, struck eleven; he started up at the sound, took his hat and his cane, and nodding good night with his head, walked out of the room. The gentleman of the house called a servant to bring the stranger's surtout. "What sort of a night is it, fellow?" said he.—"It rains, sir," answered the servant, "with an easterly wind."—"Easterly for ever!" He made no other reply; but shrugging up his shoulders till they almost touched his ears, wrapped himself tight in his great coat, and disappeared.

"This is a strange creature," said his friend to Harley. "I cannot say," answered he, "that his remarks are of the pleasant kind: it is curious to observe how the nature of truth may be changed by the garb it wears; softened to the admonition of friendship, or soured into the severity of reproof: yet this severity may be useful to some tempers; it somewhat resembles a file: disagreeable in its operation, but hard metals may be the brighter for it."

* * *



CHAPTER XXV—HIS SKILL IN PHYSIOGNOMY



The company at the baronet's removed to the playhouse accordingly, and Harley took his usual route into the Park. He observed, as he entered, a fresh-looking elderly gentleman in conversation with a beggar, who, leaning on his crutch, was recounting the hardships he had undergone, and explaining the wretchedness of his present condition. This was a very interesting dialogue to Harley; he was rude enough, therefore, to slacken his pace as he approached, and at last to make a full stop at the gentleman's back, who was just then expressing his compassion for the beggar, and regretting that he had not a farthing of change about him. At saying this, he looked piteously on the fellow: there was something in his physiognomy which caught Harley's notice: indeed, physiognomy was one of Harley's foibles, for which he had been often rebuked by his aunt in the country, who used to tell him that when he was come to her years and experience he would know that all's not gold that glitters: and it must be owned that his aunt was a very sensible, harsh-looking maiden lady of threescore and upwards. But he was too apt to forget this caution and now, it seems, it had not occurred to him. Stepping up, therefore, to the gentleman, who was lamenting the want of silver, "Your intentions, sir," said he, "are so good, that I cannot help lending you my assistance to carry them into execution," and gave the beggar a shilling. The other returned a suitable compliment, and extolled the benevolence of Harley. They kept walking together, and benevolence grew the topic of discourse.

The stranger was fluent on the subject. "There is no use of money," said he, "equal to that of beneficence. With the profuse, it is lost; and even with those who lay it out according to the prudence of the world, the objects acquired by it pall on the sense, and have scarce become our own till they lose their value with the power of pleasing; but here the enjoyment grows on reflection, and our money is most truly ours when it ceases being in our possession.

"Yet I agree in some measure," answered Harley, "with those who think that charity to our common beggars is often misplaced; there are objects less obtrusive whose title is a better one."

"We cannot easily distinguish," said the stranger; "and even of the worthless, are there not many whose imprudence, or whose vice, may have been one dreadful consequence of misfortune?"

Harley looked again in his face, and blessed himself for his skill in physiognomy.

By this time they had reached the end of the walk, the old gentleman leaning on the rails to take breath, and in the meantime they were joined by a younger man, whose figure was much above the appearance of his dress, which was poor and shabby. Harley's former companion addressed him as an acquaintance, and they turned on the walk together.

The elder of the strangers complained of the closeness of the evening, and asked the other if he would go with him into a house hard by, and take one draught of excellent cyder. "The man who keeps this house," said he to Harley, "was once a servant of mine. I could not think of turning loose upon the world a faithful old fellow, for no other reason but that his age had incapacitated him; so I gave him an annuity of ten pounds, with the help of which he has set up this little place here, and his daughter goes and sells milk in the city, while her father manages his tap-room, as he calls it, at home. I can't well ask a gentleman of your appearance to accompany me to so paltry a place." "Sir," replied Harley, interrupting him, "I would much rather enter it than the most celebrated tavern in town. To give to the necessitous may sometimes be a weakness in the man; to encourage industry is a duty in the citizen." They entered the house accordingly.

On a table at the corner of the room lay a pack of cards, loosely thrown together. The old gentleman reproved the man of the house for encouraging so idle an amusement. Harley attempted to defend him from the necessity of accommodating himself to the humour of his guests, and taking up the cards, began to shuffle them backwards and forwards in his hand. "Nay, I don't think cards so unpardonable an amusement as some do," replied the other; "and now and then, about this time of the evening, when my eyes begin to fail me for my book, I divert myself with a game at piquet, without finding my morals a bit relaxed by it. Do you play piquet, sir?" (to Harley.) Harley answered in the affirmative; upon which the other proposed playing a pool at a shilling the game, doubling the stakes; adding, that he never played higher with anybody.

Harley's good nature could not refuse the benevolent old man; and the younger stranger, though he at first pleaded prior engagements, yet being earnestly solicited by his friend, at last yielded to solicitation.

When they began to play, the old gentleman, somewhat to the surprise of Harley, produced ten shillings to serve for markers of his score. "He had no change for the beggar," said Harley to himself; "but I can easily account for it; it is curious to observe the affection that inanimate things will create in us by a long acquaintance. If I may judge from my own feelings, the old man would not part with one of these counters for ten times its intrinsic value; it even got the better of his benevolence! I, myself, have a pair of old brass sleeve buttons." Here he was interrupted by being told that the old gentleman had beat the younger, and that it was his turn to take up the conqueror. "Your game has been short," said Harley. "I re- piqued him," answered the old man, with joy sparkling in his countenance. Harley wished to be re-piqued too, but he was disappointed; for he had the same good fortune against his opponent. Indeed, never did fortune, mutable as she is, delight in mutability so much as at that moment. The victory was so quick, and so constantly alternate, that the stake, in a short time, amounted to no less a sum than 12 pounds, Harley's proportion of which was within half-a-guinea of the money he had in his pocket. He had before proposed a division, but the old gentleman opposed it with such a pleasant warmth in his manner, that it was always over-ruled. Now, however, he told them that he had an appointment with some gentlemen, and it was within a few minutes of his hour. The young stranger had gained one game, and was engaged in the second with the other; they agreed, therefore, that the stake should be divided, if the old gentleman won that: which was more than probable, as his score was 90 to 35, and he was elder hand; but a momentous re-pique decided it in favour of his adversary, who seemed to enjoy his victory mingled with regret, for having won too much, while his friend, with great ebullience of passion, many praises of his own good play, and many malediction's on the power of chance, took up the cards, and threw them into the fire.



CHAPTER XXVI—FRUITS OF THE DEAD SEA



The company he was engaged to meet were assembled in Fleet Street. He had walked some time along the Strand, amidst a crowd of those wretches who wait the uncertain wages of prostitution, with ideas of pity suitable to the scene around him and the feelings he possessed, and had got as far as Somerset House, when one of them laid hold of his arm, and, with a voice tremulous and faint, asked him for a pint of wine, in a manner more supplicatory than is usual with those whom the infamy of their profession has deprived of shame. He turned round at the demand, and looked steadfastly on the person who made it.

She was above the common size, and elegantly formed; her face was thin and hollow, and showed the remains of tarnished beauty. Her eyes were black, but had little of their lustre left; her cheeks had some paint laid on without art, and productive of no advantage to her complexion, which exhibited a deadly paleness on the other parts of her face.

Harley stood in the attitude of hesitation; which she, interpreting to her advantage, repeated her request, and endeavoured to force a leer of invitation into her countenance. He took her arm, and they walked on to one of those obsequious taverns in the neighbourhood, where the dearness of the wine is a discharge in full for the character of the house. From what impulse he did this we do not mean to enquire; as it has ever been against our nature to search for motives where bad ones are to be found. They entered, and a waiter showed them a room, and placed a bottle of claret on the table.

Harley filled the lady's glass: which she had no sooner tasted, than dropping it on the floor, and eagerly catching his arm, her eye grew fixed, her lip assumed a clayey whiteness, and she fell back lifeless in her chair.

Harley started from his seat, and, catching her in his arms, supported her from falling to the ground, looking wildly at the door, as if he wanted to run for assistance, but durst not leave the miserable creature. It was not till some minutes after that it occurred to him to ring the bell, which at last, however, he thought of, and rung with repeated violence even after the waiter appeared. Luckily the waiter had his senses somewhat more about him; and snatching up a bottle of water, which stood on a buffet at the end of the room, he sprinkled it over the hands and face of the dying figure before him. She began to revive, and, with the assistance of some hartshorn drops, which Harley now for the first time drew from his pocket, was able to desire the waiter to bring her a crust of bread, of which she swallowed some mouthfuls with the appearance of the keenest hunger. The waiter withdrew: when turning to Harley, sobbing at the same time, and shedding tears, "I am sorry, sir," said she, "that I should have given you so much trouble; but you will pity me when I tell you that till now I have not tasted a morsel these two days past."—He fixed his eyes on hers—every circumstance but the last was forgotten; and he took her hand with as much respect as if she had been a duchess. It was ever the privilege of misfortune to be revered by him.—"Two days!" said he; "and I have fared sumptuously every day!"—He was reaching to the bell; she understood his meaning, and prevented him. "I beg, sir," said she, "that you would give yourself no more trouble about a wretch who does not wish to live; but, at present, I could not eat a bit; my stomach even rose at the last mouthful of that crust."—He offered to call a chair, saying that he hoped a little rest would relieve her.—He had one half-guinea left. "I am sorry," he said, "that at present I should be able to make you an offer of no more than this paltry sum."—She burst into tears: "Your generosity, sir, is abused; to bestow it on me is to take it from the virtuous. I have no title but misery to plead: misery of my own procuring." "No more of that," answered Harley; "there is virtue in these tears; let the fruit of them be virtue."—He rung, and ordered a chair.— "Though I am the vilest of beings," said she, "I have not forgotten every virtue; gratitude, I hope, I shall still have left, did I but know who is my benefactor."—"My name is Harley."—"Could I ever have an opportunity?"—"You shall, and a glorious one too! your future conduct—but I do not mean to reproach you—if, I say—it will be the noblest reward—I will do myself the pleasure of seeing you again."—Here the waiter entered, and told them the chair was at the door; the lady informed Harley of her lodgings, and he promised to wait on her at ten next morning.

He led her to the chair, and returned to clear with the waiter, without ever once reflecting that he had no money in his pocket. He was ashamed to make an excuse; yet an excuse must be made: he was beginning to frame one, when the waiter cut him short by telling him that he could not run scores; but that, if he would leave his watch, or any other pledge, it would be as safe as if it lay in his pocket. Harley jumped at the proposal, and pulling out his watch, delivered it into his hands immediately, and having, for once, had the precaution to take a note of the lodging he intended to visit next morning, sallied forth with a blush of triumph on his face, without taking notice of the sneer of the waiter, who, twirling the watch in his hand, made him a profound bow at the door, and whispered to a girl, who stood in the passage, something, in which the word CULLY was honoured with a particular emphasis.



CHAPTER XXVII—HIS SKILL IN PHYSIOGNOMY IS DOUBTED



After he had been some time with the company he had appointed to meet, and the last bottle was called for, he first recollected that he would be again at a loss how to discharge his share of the reckoning. He applied, therefore, to one of them, with whom he was most intimate, acknowledging that he had not a farthing of money about him; and, upon being jocularly asked the reason, acquainted them with the two adventures we have just now related. One of the company asked him if the old man in Hyde Park did not wear a brownish coat, with a narrow gold edging, and his companion an old green frock, with a buff-coloured waistcoat. Upon Harley's recollecting that they did, "Then," said he, "you may be thankful you have come off so well; they are two as noted sharpers, in their way, as any in town, and but t'other night took me in for a much larger sum. I had some thoughts of applying to a justice, but one does not like to be seen in those matters."

Harley answered, "That he could not but fancy the gentleman was mistaken, as he never saw a face promise more honesty than that of the old man he had met with."—"His face!" said a grave-looking man, when sat opposite to him, squirting the juice of his tobacco obliquely into the grate. There was something very emphatical in the action, for it was followed by a burst of laughter round the table. "Gentlemen," said Harley, "you are disposed to be merry; it may be as you imagine, for I confess myself ignorant of the town; but there is one thing which makes me hear the loss of my money with temper: the young fellow who won it must have been miserably poor; I observed him borrow money for the stake from his friend: he had distress and hunger in his countenance: be his character what it may, his necessities at least plead for him." At this there was a louder laugh than before. "Gentlemen," said the lawyer, one of whose conversations with Harley we have already recorded, "here's a pretty fellow for you! to have heard him talk some nights ago, as I did, you might have sworn he was a saint; yet now he games with sharpers, and loses his money, and is bubbled by a fine tale of the Dead Sea, and pawns his watch; here are sanctified doings with a witness!"

"Young gentleman," said his friend on the other side of the table, "let me advise you to be a little more cautious for the future; and as for faces—you may look into them to know whether a man's nose be a long or a short one."



CHAPTER XXVIII—HE KEEPS HIS APPOINTMENT



The last night's raillery of his companions was recalled to his remembrance when he awoke, and the colder homilies of prudence began to suggest some things which were nowise favourable for a performance of his promise to the unfortunate female he had met with before. He rose, uncertain of his purpose; but the torpor of such considerations was seldom prevalent over the warmth of his nature. He walked some turns backwards and forwards in his room; he recalled the languid form of the fainting wretch to his mind; he wept at the recollection of her tears. "Though I am the vilest of beings, I have not forgotten every virtue; gratitude, I hope, I shall still have left."—He took a larger stride—"Powers of mercy that surround me!" cried he, "do ye not smile upon deeds like these? to calculate the chances of deception is too tedious a business for the life of man!"—The clock struck ten.—When he was got down-stairs, he found that he had forgot the note of her lodgings; he gnawed his lips at the delay: he was fairly on the pavement, when he recollected having left his purse; he did but just prevent himself from articulating an imprecation. He rushed a second time up into his chamber. "What a wretch I am!" said he; "ere this time, perhaps—" 'Twas a perhaps not to be borne;—two vibrations of a pendulum would have served him to lock his bureau; but they could not be spared.

When he reached the house, and inquired for Miss Atkins (for that was the lady's name), he was shown up three pair of stairs, into a small room lighted by one narrow lattice, and patched round with shreds of different-coloured paper. In the darkest corner stood something like a bed, before which a tattered coverlet hung by way of curtain. He had not waited long when she appeared. Her face had the glister of new-washed tears on it. "I am ashamed, sir," said she, "that you should have taken this fresh piece of trouble about one so little worthy of it; but, to the humane, I know there is a pleasure in goodness for its own sake: if you have patience for the recital of my story, it may palliate, though it cannot excuse, my faults." Harley bowed, as a sign of assent; and she began as follows:-

"I am the daughter of an officer, whom a service of forty years had advanced no higher than the rank of captain. I have had hints from himself, and been informed by others, that it was in some measure owing to those principles of rigid honour, which it was his boast to possess, and which he early inculcated on me, that he had been able to arrive at no better station. My mother died when I was a child: old enough to grieve for her death, but incapable of remembering her precepts. Though my father was doatingly fond of her, yet there were some sentiments in which they materially differed: she had been bred from her infancy in the strictest principles of religion, and took the morality of her conduct from the motives which an adherence to those principles suggested. My father, who had been in the army from his youth, affixed an idea of pusillanimity to that virtue, which was formed by the doctrines, excited by the rewards, or guarded by the terrors of revelation; his dashing idol was the honour of a soldier: a term which he held in such reverence, that he used it for his most sacred asseveration. When my mother died, I was some time suffered to continue in those sentiments which her instructions had produced; but soon after, though, from respect to her memory, my father did not absolutely ridicule them, yet he showed, in his discourse to others, so little regard to them, and at times suggested to me motives of action so different, that I was soon weaned from opinions which I began to consider as the dreams of superstition, or the artful inventions of designing hypocrisy. My mother's books were left behind at the different quarters we removed to, and my reading was principally confined to plays, novels, and those poetical descriptions of the beauty of virtue and honour, which the circulating libraries easily afforded.

"As I was generally reckoned handsome, and the quickness of my parts extolled by all our visitors, my father had a pride in allowing me to the world. I was young, giddy, open to adulation, and vain of those talents which acquired it.

"After the last war, my father was reduced to half-pay; with which we retired to a village in the country, which the acquaintance of some genteel families who resided in it, and the cheapness of living, particularly recommended. My father rented a small house, with a piece of ground sufficient to keep a horse for him, and a cow for the benefit of his family. An old man servant managed his ground; while a maid, who had formerly been my mother's, and had since been mine, undertook the care of our little dairy: they were assisted in each of their provinces by my father and me: and we passed our time in a state of tranquillity, which he had always talked of with delight, and my train of reading had taught me to admire.

"Though I had never seen the polite circles of the metropolis, the company my father had introduced me into had given me a degree of good breeding, which soon discovered a superiority over the young ladies of our village. I was quoted as an example of politeness, and my company courted by most of the considerable families in the neighbourhood.

"Amongst the houses where I was frequently invited was Sir George Winbrooke's. He had two daughters nearly of my age, with whom, though they had been bred up in those maxims of vulgar doctrine which my superior understanding could not but despise, yet as their good nature led them to an imitation of my manners in everything else, I cultivated a particular friendship.

"Some months after our first acquaintance, Sir George's eldest son came home from his travels. His figure, his address, and conversation, were not unlike those warm ideas of an accomplished man which my favourite novels had taught me to form; and his sentiments on the article of religion were as liberal as my own: when any of these happened to be the topic of our discourse, I, who before had been silent, from a fear of being single in opposition, now kindled at the fire he raised, and defended our mutual opinions with all the eloquence I was mistress of. He would be respectfully attentive all the while; and when I had ended, would raise his eyes from the ground, look at me with a gaze of admiration, and express his applause in the highest strain of encomium. This was an incense the more pleasing, as I seldom or never had met with it before; for the young gentlemen who visited Sir George were for the most part of that athletic order, the pleasure of whose lives is derived from fox-hunting: these are seldom solicitous to please the women at all; or if they were, would never think of applying their flattery to the mind.

"Mr. Winbrooke observed the weakness of my soul, and took every occasion of improving the esteem he had gained. He asked my opinion of every author, of every sentiment, with that submissive diffidence, which showed an unlimited confidence in my understanding. I saw myself revered, as a superior being, by one whose judgment my vanity told me was not likely to err: preferred by him to all the other visitors of my sex, whose fortunes and rank should have entitled them to a much higher degree of notice: I saw their little jealousies at the distinguished attention he paid me; it was gratitude, it was pride, it was love! Love which had made too fatal a progress in my heart, before any declaration on his part should have warranted a return: but I interpreted every look of attention, every expression of compliment, to the passion I imagined him inspired with, and imputed to his sensibility that silence which was the effect of art and design. At length, however, he took an opportunity of declaring his love: he now expressed himself in such ardent terms, that prudence might have suspected their sincerity: but prudence is rarely found in the situation I had been unguardedly led into; besides, that the course of reading to which I had been accustomed, did not lead me to conclude, that his expressions could be too warm to be sincere: nor was I even alarmed at the manner in which he talked of marriage, a subjection, he often hinted, to which genuine love should scorn to be confined. The woman, he would often say, who had merit like mine to fix his affection, could easily command it for ever. That honour too which I revered, was often called in to enforce his sentiments. I did not, however, absolutely assent to them; but I found my regard for their opposites diminish by degrees. If it is dangerous to be convinced, it is dangerous to listen; for our reason is so much of a machine, that it will not always be able to resist, when the ear is perpetually assailed.

"In short, Mr. Harley (for I tire you with a relation, the catastrophe of which you will already have imagined), I fell a prey to his artifices. He had not been able so thoroughly to convert me, that my conscience was silent on the subject; but he was so assiduous to give repeated proofs of unabated affection, that I hushed its suggestions as they rose. The world, however, I knew, was not to be silenced; and therefore I took occasion to express my uneasiness to my seducer, and entreat him, as he valued the peace of one to whom he professed such attachment, to remove it by a marriage. He made excuse from his dependence on the will of his father, but quieted my fears by the promise of endeavouring to win his assent.

"My father had been some days absent on a visit to a dying relation, from whom he had considerable expectations. I was left at home, with no other company than my books: my books I found were not now such companions as they used to be; I was restless, melancholy, unsatisfied with myself. But judge my situation when I received a billet from Mr. Winbrooke informing me, that he had sounded Sir George on the subject we had talked of, and found him so averse to any match so unequal to his own rank and fortune, that he was obliged, with whatever reluctance, to bid adieu to a place, the remembrance of which should ever be dear to him.

"I read this letter a hundred times over. Alone, helpless, conscious of guilt, and abandoned by every better thought, my mind was one motley scene of terror, confusion, and remorse. A thousand expedients suggested themselves, and a thousand fears told me they would be vain: at last, in an agony of despair, I packed up a few clothes, took what money and trinkets were in the house, and set out for London, whither I understood he was gone; pretending to my maid, that I had received letters from my father requiring my immediate attendance. I had no other companion than a boy, a servant to the man from whom I hired my horses. I arrived in London within an hour of Mr. Winbrooke, and accidentally alighted at the very inn where he was.

"He started and turned pale when he saw me; but recovered himself in time enough to make many new protestations of regard, and beg me to make myself easy under a disappointment which was equally afflicting to him. He procured me lodgings, where I slept, or rather endeavoured to sleep, for that night. Next morning I saw him again, he then mildly observed on the imprudence of my precipitate flight from the country, and proposed my removing to lodgings at another end of the town, to elude the search of my father, till he should fall upon some method of excusing my conduct to him, and reconciling him to my return. We took a hackney-coach, and drove to the house he mentioned.

"It was situated in a dirty lane, furnished with a tawdry affectation of finery, with some old family pictures hanging on walls which their own cobwebs would better have suited. I was struck with a secret dread at entering, nor was it lessened by the appearance of the landlady, who had that look of selfish shrewdness, which, of all others, is the most hateful to those whose feelings are untinctured with the world. A girl, who she told us was her niece, sat by her, playing on a guitar, while herself was at work, with the assistance of spectacles, and had a prayer-book with the leaves folded down in several places, lying on the table before her. Perhaps, sir, I tire you with my minuteness, but the place, and every circumstance about it, is so impressed on my mind, that I shall never forget it.

"I dined that day with Mr. Winbrooke alone. He lost by degrees that restraint which I perceived too well to hang about him before, and, with his former gaiety and good humour, repeated the flattering things which, though they had once been fatal, I durst not now distrust. At last, taking my hand and kissing it, 'It is thus,' said he, 'that love will last, while freedom is preserved; thus let us ever be blessed, without the galling thought that we are tied to a condition where we may cease to be so.'

"I answered, 'That the world thought otherwise: that it had certain ideas of good fame, which it was impossible not to wish to maintain.'

"'The world,' said he, 'is a tyrant, they are slaves who obey it; let us be happy without the pale of the world. To-morrow I shall leave this quarter of it, for one where the talkers of the world shall be foiled, and lose us. Could not my Emily accompany me? my friend, my companion, the mistress of my soul! Nay, do not look so, Emily! Your father may grieve for a while, but your father shall be taken care of; this bank-bill I intend as the comfort for his daughter.'

"I could contain myself no longer: 'Wretch,' I exclaimed, 'dost thou imagine that my father's heart could brook dependence on the destroyer of his child, and tamely accept of a base equivalent for her honour and his own?'

"'Honour, my Emily,' said he, 'is the word of fools, or of those wiser men who cheat them. 'Tis a fantastic bauble that does not suit the gravity of your father's age; but, whatever it is, I am afraid it can never be perfectly restored to you: exchange the word then, and let pleasure be your object now.'

"At these words he clasped me in his arms, and pressed his lips rudely to my bosom. I started from my seat. 'Perfidious villain!' said I, 'who dar'st insult the weakness thou hast undone; were that father here, thy coward soul would shrink from the vengeance of his honour! Cursed be that wretch who has deprived him of it! oh doubly cursed, who has dragged on his hoary head the infamy which should have crushed her own!' I snatched a knife which lay beside me, and would have plunged it in my breast, but the monster prevented my purpose, and smiling with a grin of barbarous insult -

"'Madam,' said he, 'I confess you are rather too much in heroics for me; I am sorry we should differ about trifles; but as I seem somehow to have offended you, I would willingly remedy it by taking my leave. You have been put to some foolish expense in this journey on my account; allow me to reimburse you.'

"So saying he laid a bank-bill, of what amount I had no patience to see, upon the table. Shame, grief, and indignation choked my utterance; unable to speak my wrongs, and unable to bear them in silence, I fell in a swoon at his feet.

"What happened in the interval I cannot tell, but when I came to myself I was in the arms of the landlady, with her niece chafing my temples, and doing all in her power for my recovery. She had much compassion in her countenance; the old woman assumed the softest look she was capable of, and both endeavoured to bring me comfort. They continued to show me many civilities, and even the aunt began to be less disagreeable in my sight. To the wretched, to the forlorn, as I was, small offices of kindness are endearing.

"Meantime my money was far spent, nor did I attempt to conceal my wants from their knowledge. I had frequent thoughts of returning to my father; but the dread of a life of scorn is insurmountable. I avoided, therefore, going abroad when I had a chance of being seen by any former acquaintance, nor indeed did my health for a great while permit it; and suffered the old woman, at her own suggestion, to call me niece at home, where we now and then saw (when they could prevail on me to leave my room) one or two other elderly women, and sometimes a grave business-like man, who showed great compassion for my indisposition, and made me very obligingly an offer of a room at his country-house for the recovery of my health. This offer I did not chose to accept, but told my landlady, 'that I should be glad to be employed in any way of business which my skill in needlework could recommend me to, confessing, at the same time, that I was afraid I should scarce be able to pay her what I already owed for board and lodging, and that for her other good offices, I had nothing but thanks to give her.'

"'My dear child,' said she, 'do not talk of paying; since I lost my own sweet girl' (here she wept), 'your very picture she was, Miss Emily, I have nobody, except my niece, to whom I should leave any little thing I have been able to save; you shall live with me, my dear; and I have sometimes a little millinery work, in which, when you are inclined to it, you may assist us. By the way, here are a pair of ruffles we have just finished for that gentleman you saw here at tea; a distant relation of mine, and a worthy man he is. 'Twas pity you refused the offer of an apartment at his country house; my niece, you know, was to have accompanied you, and you might have fancied yourself at home; a most sweet place it is, and but a short mile beyond Hampstead. Who knows, Miss Emily, what effect such a visit might have had! If I had half your beauty I should not waste it pining after e'er a worthless fellow of them all.'

"I felt my heart swell at her words; I would have been angry if I could, but I was in that stupid state which is not easily awakened to anger: when I would have chid her the reproof stuck in my throat; I could only weep!

"Her want of respect increased, as I had not spirit to assert it. My work was now rather imposed than offered, and I became a drudge for the bread I eat: but my dependence and servility grew in proportion, and I was now in a situation which could not make any extraordinary exertions to disengage itself from either—I found myself with child.

1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse