Page images

sible to conceive what women of condition | had lodged; he therefore strongly insisted are obliged to suffer from the impertinence on coming in, often swearing that he would of fools, in order to keep up the farce of the not be kept from his own bed. Jones, world. I am glad, however, all your lan- however, prevailed over him, and delivered guishing and wishing have done you no him into the hands of Partridge, whom the harm; for you never looked better in your noise on the stairs soon summoned to his life. Upon my faith! Jones, you might at master's assistance. this instant sit for the picture of Adonis.' There are certain words of provocation, which men of honour hold can properly be answered only by a blow. Among lovers, possibly, there may be some expressions which can be answered only by a kiss. This compliment, which Lady Bellaston now made Jones, seems to be of this kind, especially as it was attended with a look, in which the lady conveyed more soft ideas than it was possible to express with her tongue.

And now Jones was unwillingly obliged to return to his own apartment, where, at the very instant of his entrance, he heard Lady Bellaston venting an exclamation, though not a very loud one; and, at the same time, saw her flinging herself into a chair in a vast agitation, which, in a lady of a tender constitution, would have been an hysteric fit.

In reality, the lady, frightened with the struggle between the two men, of which she did not know what would be the issue, as she heard Nightingale swear many oaths he would come to his own bed, attempted to retire to her known place of hiding, which to her great confusion she found already occupied by another.

Is this usage to be borne, Mr. Jones? cries the lady. Basest of men! What wretch is this to whom you have exposed me?'-'Wretch!' cries Honour, bursting in a violent rage from her place of concealment,- Marry come up!-Wretch, forsooth!-as poor a wretch as I am, I am honest; that is more than some folks who are richer can say.'

Jones was certainly at this instant in one of the most disagreeable and distressed situations imaginable; for, to carry on the comparison we made use of before, though the provocation was given by the lady, Jones could not receive satisfaction, nor so much as offer to ask it, in the presence of a third person; seconds in this kind of duels not being according to the law of arms. As this objection did not occur to Lady Bellaston, who was ignorant of any other woman being there but herself, she waited some time in great astonishment for an answer from Jones, who, conscious of the ridiculous figure he made, stood at a distance, and not daring to give the proper answer, gave none at all. Nothing can be imagined more comic, nor yet more tragical, than this scene would have been if it had lasted much longer. The lady had al-nate man in the world; and presently after, ready changed colour two or three times; had got up from the bed, and sat down again, while Jones was wishing the ground to sink under him, or the house to fall on his head, when an odd accident freed him from an embarrassment, out of which neither the eloquence of a Cicero, nor the politics of a Machiavel, could have delivered him, without utter disgrace.

Jones, instead of applying himself directly to take off the edge of Mrs. Honour's resentment, as a more experienced gallant would have done, fell to cursing his stars, and lamenting himself as the most unfortu

addressing himself to Lady Bellaston, he
fell to some very absurd protestations of
innocence. By this time, the lady having
recovered the use of her reason, which she
had as ready as any woman in the world,
especially on such occasions, calmly replied:
'Sir you need make no apologies; I see
now who the person is: I did not at first
know Mrs. Honour; but now I do, I can
suspect nothing wrong between her and
you; and I am sure she is a woman of too
good sense to put any wrong constructions
upon my visit to you; I have been always
her friend, and it may be in my power to
be much more hereafter.'

This was no other than the arrival of young Nightingale, dead drunk; or rather in that state of drunkenness, which deprives men of the use of their reason, without depriving them of the use of their limbs. Mrs. Miller and her daughters were in bed, and Partridge was smoking his pipe Mrs. Honour was altogether as placable by the kitchen-fire; so that he arrived at as she was passionate. Hearing, thereMr. Jones's chamber-door without any in- fore, Lady Bellaston assume the soft tone, terruption. This he burst open, and was she likewise softened hers. 'I'm sure, maentering without any ceremony, when dam,' says she, 'I have been always ready Jones started from his seat, and ran to op- to acknowledge your ladyship's friendships pose him, which he did so effectually, that to me: sure I never had so good a friend Nightingale never came far enough within as your ladyship; and, to be sure, now I the door to see who was sitting on the bed. see it is your ladyship that I spoke to, I Nightingale had, in reality, mistaken could almost bite my tongue off for very Jones's apartment for that in which himself mad. I constructions upon your ladyship

to be sure it doth not become a servant as I am to think about such a great lady-I mean I was a servant: for indeed I am nobody's servant now, the most miserable wretch is me! I have lost the best mistress.' Here Honour thought fit to produce a shower of tears. Don't cry, child,' says the good lady: 'ways perhaps may be found to make you amends. Come to me to-morrow morning.' She then took up her fan, which lay on the ground, and, without even looking at Jones, walked very majestically out of the room; there being a kind of dignity in the impudence of women of quality, which their inferiors vainly aspire to attain to in circumstances of this


Jones followed her down stairs, often offering her his hand, which she absolutely refused him, and got into her chair without taking any notice of him as he stood bowing before her.

But though Mrs. Miller did not refrain from a short expostulation in private at their first meeting; yet the occasion of his being summoned down stairs that morning was of a much more agreeable kind, being indeed to perform the office of a father to Miss Nancy, and to give her in wedlock to Mr. Nightingale, who was now ready dressed, and full as sober as many of my readers will think a man ought to be, who receives a wife in so imprudent a manner.

And here, perhaps, it may be proper to account for the escape which this young gentleman had made from his uncle, and for his appearance in the condition in which we have seen him the night before.

Now, when the uncle had arrived at his lodgings with his nephew, partly to indulge his own inclinations, (for he dearly loved his bottle,) and partly to disqualify his nephew from the immediate execution of his purpose, he ordered wine to be set on the table; with which he so briskly plied the young gentleman, that this latter, who, though not much used to drinking, did not detest it so as to be guilty of disobedience, or want of complaisance, by refusing, was soon completely finished.

At his return up stairs, a long dialogue passed between him and Mrs. Honour, while she was adjusting herself after the discomposure she had undergone. The subject of this was, his infidelity to her young lady; on which she enlarged with great bitterness: but Jones at last found Just as the uncle had obtained this vicmeans to reconcile her; and not only so, tory, and was preparing a bed for his nebut to obtain a promise of most inviolable phew, a messenger arrived with a piece of secrecy, and that she would the next morn-news, which so entirely disconcerted and ing endeavour to find out Sophia, and bring him a further account of the proceedings of the squire.

Thus ended this unfortunate adventure, to the satisfaction only of Mrs. Honour; for a secret, (as some of my readers will perhaps acknowledge from experience,) is often a very valuable possession; and that not only to those who faithfully keep it, but sometimes to such as whisper it about till it comes to the ears of every one, except the ignorant person who pays for the supposed concealing of what is publicly known.


Short and sweet. NOTWITHSTANDING all the obligations she had received from Jones, Mrs. Miller could not forbear in the morning some gentle remonstrances for the hurricane which had happened the preceding night in his chamber. These were, however, so gentle and so friendly; professing, and indeed truly, to aim at nothing more than the real good of Mr. Jones himself; that he, far from being offended, thankfully received the admonition of the good woman, expressed much concern for what had passed, excused it as well as he could, and promised never more to bring the same disturbances into the house.

[blocks in formation]

shocked him, that he in a moment lost all consideration for his nephew, and his whole mind became entirely taken up with his own concerns.

This sudden and afflicting news was no less than that his daughter had taken the opportunity of almost the first moment of his absence, and had gone off with a neighbouring young clergyman; against whom, though her father could have had but one objection, namely, that he was worth nothing, yet she had never thought proper to communicate her amour even to her father; and so artfully had she managed, that it had never been once suspected by any, till now that it was consummated.

Old Mr. Nightingale no sooner received this account, than in the utmost confusion he ordered a post-chaise to be immediately got ready: and having recommended his nephew to the care of a servant, he directly left the house, scarce knowing what he did, nor whither he went.

The uncle being thus departed, when the servant came to attend the nephew to bed, had waked him for that purpose, and had at last made him sensible that his uncle was gone, he, instead of accepting the kind offices tendered him, insisted on a chair being called with this the servant, who had received no strict orders to the contrary, readily complied; and thus being conducted back to the house of Mrs. Miller, he had

staggered up to Mr. Jones's chamber, as | founded. Last night I resolved never to hath been before recounted. see you more; this morning I am willing to This bar of the uncle being now removed, hear if you can, as you say, clear up this (though young Nightingale knew not as yet affair; and yet I know that to be impossiin what manner,) and all parties being quick-ble. I have said every thing to myself ly ready, the mother, Mr. Jones, Mr. Night- which you can invent.-Perhaps not. Peringale and his love, stepped into a hackney-haps your invention is stronger. Come to coach, which conveyed them to Doctors' me, therefore, the moment you receive this. Commons; where Miss Nancy was, in vul- If you can forge an excuse, I almost progar language, soon made an honest woman; mise you to believe it. Betrayed to and the poor mother became, in the purest will think no more. Come to me directly. sense of the word, one of the happiest of all This is the third letter I have written; the human beings. two former are burnt-I am almost inclined to burn this too--I wish I may preserve my senses.-Come to me presently."

And now Mr. Jones, having seen his good offices to that poor woman and her family brought to a happy conclusion, began to apply himself to his own concerns; but here, lest many of my readers should censure his folly for thus troubling himself with the affairs of others, and lest some few should think he acted more disinterestedly than indeed he did, we think proper to assure our reader, that he was so far from being unconcerned in this matter, that he had indeed a very considerable interest in bringing it to that final consummation.

To explain this seeming paradox at once, he was one who could truly say with him in Terence, Homo sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto. He was never an indifferent spectator of the misery or happiness of any one; and he felt either the one or the other in great proportion as he himself contributed to either. He could not therefore be the instrument of raising a whole family from the lowest state of wretchedness to the highest pitch of joy, without conveying great felicity to himself; more perhaps than worldly men often purchase to themselves by undergoing the most severe labour, and often by wading through the deepest iniquity.

Those readers, who are of the same complexion with him, will perhaps think this short chapter contains abundance of matter: while others may probably wish, short as it is, that it had been totally spared, as impertinent to the main design; which I suppose they conclude, is to bring Mr. Jones to the gallows: or, if possible, to a more deplorable catastrophe."

[blocks in formation]


"If you ever expect to be forgiven, or even suffered within my doors, come to me this instant."


my notes came to your lodgings. The mo"I now find you was not at home when ment you receive this, let me see you: I shall not stir out; nor shall any body be let in but yourself. Sure nothing can detain you long."

Jones had just read over these three billets, when Mr. Nightingale came into the room. Well, Tom,' said he, any news from Lady Bellaston, after last night's adventure?" (for it was now no secret to any one in that house who the lady was.) The Lady Bellaston!' answered Jones, very gravely. Nay, dear Tom,' cries Nightingale, don't be so reserved to your friends. Though I was too drunk to see her last night, I saw her at the masquerade. Do you think I am ignorant who the queen of the fairies is? And did you really then know the lady at the masquerade?' said Jones. Yes, upon my soul, did I,' said Nightingale; and have given you twenty hints of it since; though you seemed always so tender on that point, that I would not speak plainly. I fancy, my friend, by your extreme nicety in this matter, you are not so well acquainted with the character of her lady, as with her person. Don't be angry, Tom; but, upon my honour, you are not the first young fellow she hath debauched. Her reputation is in no danger, believe me.'

Though Jones had no reason to imagine the lady to have been of the vestal kind when his amour began; yet, as he was thoroughly ignorant of the town, and had very little acquaintance in it, he had no knowledge of that character which is vulgarly called a demirep; that is to say, a woman who intrigues with every man she likes, under the name and appearance of virtue; and who, though some over-nice ladies will not be seen with her, is visited,

(as they term it,) by the whole town; in | Jones, no more abuse of her; I detest the short, whom every body knows to be what thought of ingratitude.'-'Pugh!' answered nobody calls her. the other, 'you are not the first upon whom she hath conferred obligations of this kind. She is remarkably liberal where she likes; though, let me tell you, her favours are so

When he found, therefore, that Nightingale was perfectly acquainted with his intrigue, and began to suspect that so scrupulous a delicacy as he had hitherto ob-prudently bestowed, that they should rather served was not quite necessary on the occasion, he gave a latitude to his friend's tongue, and desired him to speak plainly what he knew, or had ever heard of the lady.

raise a man's vanity, than his gratitude.' In short, Nightingale proceeded so far on this head, and told his friend so many stories of the lady, which he swore to the truth of, that he entirely removed all esteem for Nightingale, who in many other instan- her from the breast of Jones; and his graces was rather too effeminate in his dispo- titude was lessened in proportion. Indeed, sition, had a pretty strong inclination to he began to look on all the favours he had tittle-tattle. He had no sooner, therefore, received rather as wages than benefits, received a full liberty of speaking from which depreciated not only her, but himself Jones, than he entered upon a long narra- too in his own conceit, and put him quite tive concerning the lady; which, as it con- out of humour with both. From this distained many particulars highly to her dis-gust, his mind, by natural transition, turned honour, we have too great a tenderness for towards Sophia: her virtue, her purity, her all women of condition to repeat. We would love to him, her sufferings on his account, cautiously avoid giving an opportunity to filled all his thoughts, and made his comfuture commentators on our works, of ma-merce with Lady Bellaston appear still king any malicious application; or of forc- more odious. The result of all was, that ing us to be, against our will, the author of though his turning himself out of her serscandal, which never entered into our head. vice, in which light he now saw his affair Jones, having very attentively heard all with her, would be the loss of his bread; that Nightingale had to say, fetched a deep yet he determined to quit her, if he could sigh; which the other observing, cried, but find a handsome pretence; which being Heyday! why thou art not in love, I communicated to his friend, Nightingale hope! Had I imagined my stories would considered a little, and then said, 'I have have affected you, I promise you should it, my boy! I have found out a sure menever have heard them.'- O, my dear thod: propose marriage to her, and I would friend!' cries Jones, 'I am so entangled venture hanging upon the success.'—‘Marwith this woman, that I know not how to riage, cries Jones. Ay, propose marextricate myself. In love, indeed! no, my riage,' answered Nightingale,and she friend; but I am under obligations to her, will declare off in a moment. I knew a and very great ones. Since you know so young fellow whom she kept formerly, who much, I will be very explicit with you. It made the offer to her in earnest, and was is owing, perhaps, solely to her, that I have presently turned off for his pains.' not, before this, wanted a bit of bread. Jones declared he could not venture the How can I possibly desert such a woman? experiment. Perhaps,' said he, she may and yet I must desert her, or be guilty of be less shocked at this proposal from one the blackest treachery to one, who deserves man than from another. And if she should infinitely better of me than she can; a wo- take me at my word, where am I then? man, my Nightingale, for whom I have a Caught in my own trap, and undone for passion which few can have an idea of. I ever.'-' No,' answered Nightingale, 'not am half distracted with doubts how to act.' if I can get you an expedient, by which And is this other, pray, an honourable you may, at any time, get out of the trap.' mistress?' cries Nightingale. Honoura- What expedient can that be?' replied ble!' answered Jones; no breath ever yet durst sully her reputation. The sweetest air is not purer, the limpid stream not clearer, than her honour; she is all over, both in mind and body, consummate perfection. She is the most beautiful creature in the universe; and yet she is mistress of such noble, elevated qualities, that though she is never from my thoughts, I scarce ever think of her beauty, but when I see it.' And can you, my good friend,' cries Nightingale, with such an engagement as this upon your hands, hesitate a moment about quitting such a ——— Hold,' said

Jones. This,' answered Nightingale :The young fellow I mentioned, who is one of the most intimate acquaintances I have in the world, is so angry with her for some ill offices she hath since done him, that I am sure he would, without any difficulty, give you a sight of her letters; upon which you may decently break with her, and declare off before the knot is tied, if she should really be willing to tie it, which I am convinced she will not.'

After some hesitation, Jones, upon the strength of this assurance, consented; but as he swore he wanted the confidence to

propose the matter to her face, he wrote the intercourse which could not possibly escape following letter, which Nightingale dic-long the notice of the world; and which, tated:


"I am extremely concerned, that, by an unfortunate engagement abroad, I should have missed receiving the honour of your ladyship's commands the moment they came; and the delay which I must now suffer of vindicating myself to your ladyship, greatly adds to this misfortune. O Lady Bellaston! what a terror have I been in, for fear your reputation should be exposed by these perverse accidents! There is only one way to secure it. I need not name what that is. Only permit me to say, that as your honour is as dear to me as my own; so my sole ambition is to have the glory of laying my liberty at your feet; and believe me, when I assure you, I can never be made completely happy, without you generously bestow on me a legal right of calling you mine for ever. "I am, Madam,

"with most profound respect,
"Your ladyship's most obliged,
"obedient, humble servant,

To this she presently returned the following answer:


"When I read over your serious epistle, I could, from its coldness and formality, have sworn that you already had the legal right you mention; nay, that we had, for many years, composed that monstrous animal, a husband and wife. Do you really then imagine me a fool? or do you fancy yourself capable of so entirely persuading me out of my senses, that I should deliver my whole fortune into your power, in order to enable you to support your pleasures at my expense? Are these the proofs of love which I expected? Is this the return forscorn to upbraid you, and am in great admiration of your profound respect.

-but I

"P. S. I am prevented from revising: Perhaps I have said more than I meant.Come to me at eight this evening." Jones, by the advice of his privy-council, replied;

[blocks in formation]

when discovered, must prove so fatal to your reputation? If such be your opinion of me, I must pray for a sudden opportuity of returning those pecuniary obligareceive at your hands; and for those of a tions, which I have been so unfortunate to more tender kind, I shall remain, &c.”

And so concluded in the very words with which he had concluded the former letter. The lady answered as follows;

"I see you are a villain; and I despise you from my soul. If you come here, I

shall not be at home."

Though Jones was well satisfied with his deliverance from a thraldom which those who have ever experienced it, will, I apprehend, allow to be none of the lightest, he was not, however, perfectly easy in his mind. There was in this scheme too much of fallacy to satisfy one who utterly detested every species of falsehood or dishonesty; nor would he, indeed, have submitted to put it in practice, had he not been involved in a distressful situation, where he was obliged to be guilty of some dishonour, either to the one lady or the other; and surely the reader will allow, that every good principle, of Sophia. as well as love, pleaded strongly in favour

of his stratagem, upon which he received Nightingale highly exulted in the success many thanks, and much applause, from his friend. He answered, 'Dear Tom, we have conferred very different obligations on each other. To me you owe the reloss of mine. But if you are as happy in gaining of your liberty; to you I owe the the one instance as I am in the other, I promise you we are the two happiest fellows in England.'

down to dinner, where Mrs. Miller, who The two gentlemen were now summoned performed herself the office of cook, had exerted her best talents to celebrate the wedding of her daughter. This joyful circumstance she ascribed principally to the friendly behaviour of Jones; her whole soul was fired with gratitude towards him, and all her looks, words, and actions, were so busied in expressing it, that her daughter, and even her new son-in-law, were very little the objects of her consideration.

Dinner was just ended when Mrs. Miller received a letter; but as we have had letters enow in this chapter, we shall communicate the contents in our next.

« PreviousContinue »