HotFreeBooks.com
Amelia (Complete)
by Henry Fielding
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

"The doctor, who had hitherto used only soothing methods, now talked in a different strain. He confessed the accusation and justified his conduct. He said he was no meddler in the family affairs of others, nor should he have concerned himself with hers, but at her own request; but that, since Mrs. Harris herself had made him an agent in this matter, he would take care to acquit himself with honour, and above all things to preserve a young lady for whom he had the highest esteem; 'for she is,' cries he, and, by heavens, he said true, 'the most worthy, generous, and noble of all human beings. You have yourself, madam,' said he, 'consented to the match. I have, at your request, made the match;' and then he added some particulars relating to his opinion of me, which my modesty forbids me to repeat."—"Nay, but," cries Miss Matthews, "I insist on your conquest of that modesty for once. We women do not love to hear one another's praises, and I will be made amends by hearing the praises of a man, and of a man whom, perhaps," added she with a leer, "I shall not think much the better of upon that account."—"In obedience to your commands, then, madam," continued he, "the doctor was so kind to say he had enquired into my character and found that I had been a dutiful son and an affectionate brother. Relations, said he, in which whoever discharges his duty well, gives us a well-grounded hope that he will behave as properly in all the rest. He concluded with saying that Amelia's happiness, her heart, nay, her very reputation, were all concerned in this matter, to which, as he had been made instrumental, he was resolved to carry her through it; and then, taking the licence from his pocket, declared to Mrs. Harris that he would go that instant and marry her daughter wherever he found her. This speech, the doctor's voice, his look, and his behaviour, all which are sufficiently calculated to inspire awe, and even terror, when he pleases, frightened poor Mrs. Harris, and wrought a more sensible effect than it was in his power to produce by all his arguments and entreaties; and I have already related what followed.

"Thus the strange accident of our wanting pen, ink, and paper, and our not trusting the boy with our secret, occasioned the discovery to Mrs. Harris; that discovery put the doctor upon his metal, and produced that blessed event which I have recounted to you, and which, as my mother hath since confessed, nothing but the spirit which he had exerted after the discovery could have brought about.

"Well, madam, you now see me married to Amelia; in which situation you will, perhaps, think my happiness incapable of addition. Perhaps it was so; and yet I can with truth say that the love which I then bore Amelia was not comparable to what I bear her now." "Happy Amelia!" cried Miss Matthews. "If all men were like you, all women would be blessed; nay, the whole world would be so in a great measure; for, upon my soul, I believe that from the damned inconstancy of your sex to ours proceeds half the miseries of mankind."

That we may give the reader leisure to consider well the foregoing sentiment, we will here put an end to this chapter.



Chapter viii.

In which our readers will probably be divided in their opinion of Mr. Booth's conduct.

Booth proceeded as follows:—

"The first months of our marriage produced nothing remarkable enough to mention. I am sure I need not tell Miss Matthews that I found in my Amelia every perfection of human nature. Mrs. Harris at first gave us some little uneasiness. She had rather yielded to the doctor than given a willing consent to the match; however, by degrees, she became more and more satisfied, and at last seemed perfectly reconciled. This we ascribed a good deal to the kind offices of Miss Betty, who had always appeared to be my friend. She had been greatly assisting to Amelia in making her escape, which I had no opportunity of mentioning to you before, and in all things behaved so well, outwardly at least, to myself as well as her sister, that we regarded her as our sincerest friend.

"About half a year after our marriage two additional companies were added to our regiment, in one of which I was preferred to the command of a lieutenant. Upon this occasion Miss Betty gave the first intimation of a disposition which we have since too severely experienced."

"Your servant, sir," says Miss Matthews; "then I find I was not mistaken in my opinion of the lady.—No, no, shew me any goodness in a censorious prude, and—"

As Miss Matthews hesitated for a simile or an execration, Booth proceeded: "You will please to remember, madam, there was formerly an agreement between myself and Mrs. Harris that I should settle all my Amelia's fortune on her, except a certain sum, which was to be laid out in my advancement in the army; but, as our marriage was carried on in the manner you have heard, no such agreement was ever executed. And since I was become Amelia's husband not a word of this matter was ever mentioned by the old lady; and as for myself, I declare I had not yet awakened from that delicious dream of bliss in which the possession of Amelia had lulled me."

Here Miss Matthews sighed, and cast the tenderest of looks on Booth, who thus continued his story:—

"Soon after my promotion Mrs. Harris one morning took an occasion to speak to me on this affair. She said, that, as I had been promoted gratis to a lieutenancy, she would assist me with money to carry me yet a step higher; and, if more was required than was formerly mentioned, it should not be wanting, since she was so perfectly satisfied with my behaviour to her daughter. Adding that she hoped I had still the same inclination to settle on my wife the remainder of her fortune.

"I answered with very warm acknowledgments of my mother's goodness, and declared, if I had the world, I was ready to lay it at my Amelia's feet.—And so, Heaven knows, I would ten thousand worlds.

"Mrs. Harris seemed pleased with the warmth of my sentiments, and said she would immediately send to her lawyer and give him the necessary orders; and thus ended our conversation on this subject.

"From this time there was a very visible alteration in Miss Betty's behaviour. She grew reserved to her sister as well as to me. She was fretful and captious on the slightest occasion; nay, she affected much to talk on the ill consequences of an imprudent marriage, especially before her mother; and if ever any little tenderness or endearments escaped me in public towards Amelia, she never failed to make some malicious remark on the short duration of violent passions; and, when I have expressed a fond sentiment for my wife, her sister would kindly wish she might hear as much seven years hence.

"All these matters have been since suggested to us by reflection; for, while they actually past, both Amelia and myself had our thoughts too happily engaged to take notice of what discovered itself in the mind of any other person.

"Unfortunately for us, Mrs. Harris's lawyer happened at this time to be at London, where business detained him upwards of a month, and, as Mrs. Harris would on no occasion employ any other, our affair was under an entire suspension till his return.

"Amelia, who was now big with child, had often expressed the deepest concern at her apprehensions of my being some time commanded abroad; a circumstance, which she declared if it should ever happen to her, even though she should not then be in the same situation as at present, would infallibly break her heart. These remonstrances were made with such tenderness, and so much affected me, that, to avoid any probability of such an event, I endeavoured to get an exchange into the horse-guards, a body of troops which very rarely goes abroad, unless where the king himself commands in person. I soon found an officer for my purpose, the terms were agreed on, and Mrs. Harris had ordered the money which I was to pay to be ready, notwithstanding the opposition made by Miss Betty, who openly dissuaded her mother from it; alledging that the exchange was highly to my disadvantage; that I could never hope to rise in the army after it; not forgetting, at the same time, some insinuations very prejudicial to my reputation as a soldier.

"When everything was agreed on, and the two commissions were actually made out, but not signed by the king, one day, at my return from hunting, Amelia flew to me, and eagerly embracing me, cried out, 'O Billy, I have news for you which delights my soul. Nothing sure was ever so fortunate as the exchange you have made. The regiment you was formerly in is ordered for Gibraltar.'

"I received this news with far less transport than it was delivered. I answered coldly, since the case was so, I heartily hoped the commissions might be both signed. 'What do you say?' replied Amelia eagerly; 'sure you told me everything was entirely settled. That look of yours frightens me to death.'—But I am running into too minute particulars. In short, I received a letter by that very post from the officer with whom I had exchanged, insisting that, though his majesty had not signed the commissions, that still the bargain was valid, partly urging it as a right, and partly desiring it as a favour, that he might go to Gibraltar in my room.

"This letter convinced me in every point. I was now informed that the commissions were not signed, and consequently that the exchange was not compleated; of consequence the other could have no right to insist on going; and, as for granting him such a favour, I too clearly saw I must do it at the expense of my honour. I was now reduced to a dilemma, the most dreadful which I think any man can experience; in which, I am not ashamed to own, I found love was not so overmatched by honour as he ought to have been. The thoughts of leaving Amelia in her present condition to misery, perhaps to death or madness, were insupportable; nor could any other consideration but that which now tormented me on the other side have combated them a moment."

"No woman upon earth," cries Miss Matthews, "can despise want of spirit in a man more than myself; and yet I cannot help thinking you was rather too nice on this occasion."

"You will allow, madam," answered Booth, "that whoever offends against the laws of honour in the least instance is treated as the highest delinquent. Here is no excuse, no pardon; and he doth nothing who leaves anything undone. But if the conflict was so terrible with myself alone, what was my situation in the presence of Amelia? how could I support her sighs, her tears, her agonies, her despair? could I bear to think myself the cruel cause of her sufferings? for so I was: could I endure the thought of having it in my power to give her instant relief, for so it was, and refuse it her?

"Miss Betty was now again become my friend. She had scarce been civil to me for a fortnight last past, yet now she commended me to the skies, and as severely blamed her sister, whom she arraigned of the most contemptible weakness in preferring my safety to my honour: she said many ill-natured things on the occasion, which I shall not now repeat.

"In the midst of this hurricane the good doctor came to dine with Mrs. Harris, and at my desire delivered his opinion on the matter."

Here Mr. Booth was interrupted in his narrative by the arrival of a person whom we shall introduce in the next chapter.



Chapter ix.

Containing a scene of a different kind from any of the preceding.

The gentleman who now arrived was the keeper; or, if you please (for so he pleased to call himself), the governor of the prison.

He used so little ceremony at his approach, that the bolt, which was very slight on the inside, gave way, and the door immediately flew open. He had no sooner entered the room than he acquainted Miss Matthews that he had brought her very good news, for which he demanded a bottle of wine as his due.

This demand being complied with, he acquainted Miss Matthews that the wounded gentleman was not dead, nor was his wound thought to be mortal: that loss of blood, and perhaps his fright, had occasioned his fainting away; "but I believe, madam," said he, "if you take the proper measures you may be bailed to-morrow. I expect the lawyer here this evening, and if you put the business into his hands I warrant it will be done. Money to be sure must be parted with, that's to be sure. People to be sure will expect to touch a little in such cases. For my own part, I never desire to keep a prisoner longer than the law allows, not I; I always inform them they can be bailed as soon as I know it; I never make any bargain, not I; I always love to leave those things to the gentlemen and ladies themselves. I never suspect gentlemen and ladies of wanting generosity."

Miss Matthews made a very slight answer to all these friendly professions. She said she had done nothing she repented of, and was indifferent as to the event. "All I can say," cries she, "is, that if the wretch is alive there is no greater villain in life than himself;" and, instead of mentioning anything of the bail, she begged the keeper to leave her again alone with Mr. Booth. The keeper replied, "Nay, madam, perhaps it may be better to stay a little longer here, if you have not bail ready, than to buy them too dear. Besides, a day or two hence, when the gentleman is past all danger of recovery, to be sure some folks that would expect an extraordinary fee now cannot expect to touch anything. And to be sure you shall want nothing here. The best of all things are to be had here for money, both eatable and drinkable: though I say it, I shan't turn my back to any of the taverns for either eatables or wind. The captain there need not have been so shy of owning himself when he first came in; we have had captains and other great gentlemen here before now; and no shame to them, though I say it. Many a great gentleman is sometimes found in places that don't become them half so well, let me tell them that, Captain Booth, let me tell them that."

"I see, sir," answered Booth, a little discomposed, "that you are acquainted with my title as well as my name."

"Ay, sir," cries the keeper, "and I honour you the more for it. I love the gentlemen of the army. I was in the army myself formerly; in the Lord of Oxford's horse. It is true I rode private; but I had money enough to have bought in quarter-master, when I took it into my head to marry, and my wife she did not like that I should continue a soldier, she was all for a private life; and so I came to this business."

"Upon my word, sir," answered Booth, "you consulted your wife's inclinations very notably; but pray will you satisfy my curiosity in telling me how you became acquainted that I was in the army? for my dress I think could not betray me."

"Betray!" replied the keeper; "there is no betraying here, I hope—I am not a person to betray people.—But you are so shy and peery, you would almost make one suspect there was more in the matter. And if there be, I promise you, you need not be afraid of telling it me. You will excuse me giving you a hint; but the sooner the better, that's all. Others may be beforehand with you, and first come first served on these occasions, that's all. Informers are odious, there's no doubt of that, and no one would care to be an informer if he could help it, because of the ill-usage they always receive from the mob: yet it is dangerous to trust too much; and when safety and a good part of the reward too are on one side and the gallows on the other—I know which a wise man would chuse."

"What the devil do you mean by all this?" cries Booth.

"No offence, I hope," answered the keeper: "I speak for your good; and if you have been upon the snaffling lay—you understand me, I am sure."

"Not I," answered Booth, "upon my honour."

"Nay, nay," replied the keeper, with a contemptuous sneer, "if you are so peery as that comes to, you must take the consequence.—But for my part, I know I would not trust Robinson with twopence untold."

"What do you mean?" cries Booth; "who is Robinson?"

"And you don't know Robinson?" answered the keeper with great emotion. To which Booth replying in the negative, the keeper, after some tokens of amazement, cried out, "Well, captain, I must say you are the best at it of all the gentlemen I ever saw. However, I will tell you this: the lawyer and Mr. Robinson have been laying their heads together about you above half an hour this afternoon. I overheard them mention Captain Booth several times, and, for my part, I would not answer that Mr. Murphy is not now gone about the business; but if you will impeach any to me of the road, or anything else, I will step away to his worship Thrasher this instant, and I am sure I have interest enough with him to get you admitted an evidence."

"And so," cries Booth, "you really take me for a highwayman?"

"No offence, captain, I hope," said the keeper; "as times go, there are many worse men in the world than those. Gentlemen may be driven to distress, and when they are, I know no more genteeler way than the road. It hath been many a brave man's case, to my knowledge, and men of as much honour too as any in the world."

"Well, sir," said Booth, "I assure you I am not that gentleman of honour you imagine me."

Miss Matthews, who had long understood the keeper no better than Mr. Booth, no sooner heard his meaning explained than she was fired with greater indignation than the gentleman had expressed. "How dare you, sir," said she to the keeper, "insult a man of fashion, and who hath had the honour to bear his majesty's commission in the army? as you yourself own you know. If his misfortunes have sent him hither, sure we have no laws that will protect such a fellow as you in insulting him." "Fellow!" muttered the keeper—"I would not advise you, madam, to use such language to me."—"Do you dare threaten me?" replied Miss Matthews in a rage. "Venture in the least instance to exceed your authority with regard to me, and I will prosecute you with the utmost vengeance."

A scene of very high altercation now ensued, till Booth interposed and quieted the keeper, who was, perhaps, enough inclined to an accommodation; for, in truth, he waged unequal war. He was besides unwilling to incense Miss Matthews, whom he expected to be bailed out the next day, and who had more money left than he intended she should carry out of the prison with her; and as for any violent or unjustifiable methods, the lady had discovered much too great a spirit to be in danger of them. The governor, therefore, in a very gentle tone, declared that, if he had given any offence to the gentleman, he heartily asked his pardon; that, if he had known him to be really a captain, he should not have entertained any such suspicions; but the captain was a very common title in that place, and belonged to several gentlemen that had never been in the army, or, at most, had rid private like himself. "To be sure, captain," said he, "as you yourself own, your dress is not very military" (for he had on a plain fustian suit); "and besides, as the lawyer says, noscitur a sosir, is a very good rule. And I don't believe there is a greater rascal upon earth than that same Robinson that I was talking of. Nay, I assure you, I wish there may be no mischief hatching against you. But if there is I will do all I can with the lawyer to prevent it. To be sure, Mr. Murphy is one of the cleverest men in the world at the law; that even his enemies must own, and as I recommend him to all the business I can (and it is not a little to be sure that arises in this place), why one good turn deserves another. And I may expect that he will not be concerned in any plot to ruin any friend of mine, at least when I desire him not. I am sure he could not be an honest man if he would."

Booth was then satisfied that Mr. Robinson, whom he did not yet know by name, was the gamester who had won his money at play. And now Miss Matthews, who had very impatiently borne this long interruption, prevailed on the keeper to withdraw. As soon as he was gone Mr. Booth began to felicitate her upon the news of the wounded gentleman being in a fair likelihood of recovery. To which, after a short silence, she answered, "There is something, perhaps, which you will not easily guess, that makes your congratulations more agreeable to me than the first account I heard of the villain's having escaped the fate he deserves; for I do assure you, at first, it did not make me amends for the interruption of my curiosity. Now I hope we shall be disturbed no more till you have finished your whole story.—You left off, I think, somewhere in the struggle about leaving Amelia—the happy Amelia." "And can you call her happy at such a period?" cries Booth. "Happy, ay, happy, in any situation," answered Miss Matthews, "with such a husband. I, at least, may well think so, who have experienced the very reverse of her fortune; but I was not born to be happy. I may say with the poet,

"The blackest ink of fate was sure my lot, And when fate writ my name, it made a blot."

"Nay, nay, dear Miss Matthews," answered Booth, "you must and shall banish such gloomy thoughts. Fate hath, I hope, many happy days in store for you."—"Do you believe it, Mr. Booth?" replied she; "indeed you know the contrary—you must know—for you can't have forgot. No Amelia in the world can have quite obliterated—forgetfulness is not in our own power. If it was, indeed, I have reason to think—but I know not what I am saying.—Pray do proceed in that story."

Booth so immediately complied with this request that it is possible he was pleased with it. To say the truth, if all which unwittingly dropt from Miss Matthews was put together, some conclusions might, it seems, be drawn from the whole, which could not convey a very agreeable idea to a constant husband. Booth, therefore, proceeded to relate what is written in the third book of this history.



BOOK III.

Chapter i.

In which Mr. Booth resumes his story.

"If I am not mistaken, madam," continued Booth, "I was just going to acquaint you with the doctor's opinion when we were interrupted by the keeper.

"The doctor, having heard counsel on both sides, that is to say, Mrs. Harris for my staying, and Miss Betty for my going, at last delivered his own sentiments. As for Amelia, she sat silent, drowned in her tears; nor was I myself in a much better situation.

"'As the commissions are not signed,' said the doctor, 'I think you may be said to remain in your former regiment; and therefore I think you ought to go on this expedition; your duty to your king and country, whose bread you have eaten, requires it; and this is a duty of too high a nature to admit the least deficiency. Regard to your character, likewise, requires you to go; for the world, which might justly blame your staying at home if the case was even fairly stated, will not deal so honestly by you: you must expect to have every circumstance against you heightened, and most of what makes for your defence omitted; and thus you will be stigmatized as a coward without any palliation. As the malicious disposition of mankind is too well known, and the cruel pleasure which they take in destroying the reputations of others, the use we are to make of this knowledge is to afford no handle to reproach; for, bad as the world is, it seldom falls on any man who hath not given some slight cause for censure, though this, perhaps, is often aggravated ten thousand-fold; and, when we blame the malice of the aggravation we ought not to forget our own imprudence in giving the occasion. Remember, my boy, your honour is at stake; and you know how nice the honour of a soldier is in these cases. This is a treasure which he must be your enemy, indeed, who would attempt to rob you of. Therefore, you ought to consider every one as your enemy who, by desiring you to stay, would rob you of your honour.'

"'Do you hear that, sister?' cries Miss Betty.—'Yes, I do hear it' answered Amelia, with more spirit than I ever saw her exert before, and would preserve his honour at the expense of my life. 'I will preserve it if it should be at that expense; and since it is Dr Harrison's opinion that he ought to go, I give my consent. Go, my dear husband,' cried she, falling upon her knees: 'may every angel of heaven guard and preserve you!'—I cannot repeat her words without being affected," said he, wiping his eyes, "the excellence of that woman no words can paint: Miss Matthews, she hath every perfection in human nature.

"I will not tire you with the repetition of any more that past on that occasion, nor with the quarrel that ensued between Mrs. Harris and the doctor; for the old lady could not submit to my leaving her daughter in her present condition. She fell severely on the army, and cursed the day in which her daughter was married to a soldier, not sparing the doctor for having had some share in the match. I will omit, likewise, the tender scene which past between Amelia and myself previous to my departure." "Indeed, I beg you would not," cries Miss Matthews; "nothing delights me more than scenes of tenderness. I should be glad to know, if possible, every syllable which was uttered on both sides."

"I will indulge you then," cries Booth, "as far as is in my power. Indeed, I believe I am able to recollect much the greatest part; for the impression is never to be effaced from my memory."

He then proceeded as Miss Matthews desired; but, lest all our readers should not be of her opinion, we will, according to our usual custom, endeavour to accommodate ourselves to every taste, and shall, therefore, place this scene in a chapter by itself, which we desire all our readers who do not love, or who, perhaps, do not know the pleasure of tenderness, to pass over; since they may do this without any prejudice to the thread of the narrative.



Chapter ii.

Containing a scene of the tender kind.

"The doctor, madam," continued Booth, "spent his evening at Mrs. Harris's house, where I sat with him whilst he smoaked his pillow pipe, as his phrase is. Amelia was retired about half an hour to her chamber before I went to her. At my entrance I found her on her knees, a posture in which I never disturbed her. In a few minutes she arose, came to me, and embracing me, said she had been praying for resolution to support the cruellest moment she had ever undergone or could possibly undergo. I reminded her how much more bitter a farewel would be on a death-bed, when we never could meet, in this world at least, again. I then endeavoured to lessen all those objects which alarmed her most, and particularly the danger I was to encounter, upon which head I seemed a little to comfort her; but the probable length of my absence and the certain length of my voyage were circumstances which no oratory of mine could even palliate. 'O heavens!' said she, bursting into tears, 'can I bear to think that hundreds, thousands for aught I know, of miles or leagues, that lands and seas are between us? What is the prospect from that mount in our garden where I have sat so many happy hours with my Billy? what is the distance between that and the farthest hill which we see from thence compared to the distance which will be between us? You cannot wonder at this idea; you must remember, my Billy, at this place, this very thought came formerly into my foreboding mind. I then begged you to leave the army. Why would you not comply?—did I not tell you then that the smallest cottage we could survey from the mount would be, with you, a paradise to me? it would be so still—why can't my Billy think so? am I so much his superior in love? where is the dishonour, Billy? or, if there be any, will it reach our ears in our little hut? are glory and fame, and not his Amelia, the happiness of my husband? go then, purchase them at my expence. You will pay a few sighs, perhaps a few tears, at parting, and then new scenes will drive away the thoughts of poor Amelia from your bosom; but what assistance shall I have in my affliction? not that any change of scene could drive you one moment from my remembrance; yet here every object I behold will place your loved idea in the liveliest manner before my eyes. This is the bed in which you have reposed; that is the chair on which you sat. Upon these boards you have stood. These books you have read to me. Can I walk among our beds of flowers without viewing your favourites, nay, those which you have planted with your own hands? can I see one beauty from our beloved mount which you have not pointed out to me?'—Thus she went on, the woman, madam, you see, still prevailing."—"Since you mention it," says Miss Matthews, with a smile, "I own the same observation occurred to me. It is too natural to us to consider ourselves only, Mr. Booth."—"You shall hear," he cried. "At last the thoughts of her present condition suggested themselves.—' But if,' said she, 'my situation, even in health, will be so intolerable, how shall I, in the danger and agonies of childbirth, support your absence?'—Here she stopt, and, looking on me with all the tenderness imaginable, cried out, 'And am I then such a wretch to wish for your presence at such a season? ought I not to rejoice that you are out of the hearing of my cries or the knowledge of my pains? if I die, will you not have escaped the horrors of a parting ten thousand times more dreadful than this? Go, go, my Billy; the very circumstance which made me most dread your departure hath perfectly reconciled me to it. I perceive clearly now that I was only wishing to support my own weakness with your strength, and to relieve my own pains at the price of yours. Believe me, my love, I am ashamed of myself.'—I caught her in my arms with raptures not to be exprest in words, called her my heroine; sure none ever better deserved that name; after which we remained for some time speechless, and locked in each other's embraces."—

"I am convinced," said Miss Matthews, with a sigh, "there are moments in life worth purchasing with worlds."

"At length the fatal morning came. I endeavoured to hide every pang of my heart, and to wear the utmost gaiety in my countenance. Amelia acted the same part. In these assumed characters we met the family at breakfast; at their breakfast, I mean, for we were both full already. The doctor had spent above an hour that morning in discourse with Mrs. Harris, and had, in some measure, reconciled her to my departure. He now made use of every art to relieve the poor distressed Amelia; not by inveighing against the folly of grief, or by seriously advising her not to grieve; both of which were sufficiently performed by Miss Betty. The doctor, on the contrary, had recourse to every means which might cast a veil over the idea of grief, and raise comfortable images in my angel's mind. He endeavoured to lessen the supposed length of my absence by discoursing on matters which were more distant in time. He said he intended next year to rebuild a part of his parsonage-house. 'And you, captain,' says he, 'shall lay the corner-stone, I promise you:' with many other instances of the like nature, which produced, I believe, some good effect on us both.

"Amelia spoke but little; indeed, more tears than words dropt from her; however, she seemed resolved to bear her affliction with resignation. But when the dreadful news arrived that the horses were ready, and I, having taken my leave of all the rest, at last approached her, she was unable to support the conflict with nature any longer, and, clinging round my neck, she cried, 'Farewel, farewel for ever; for I shall never, never see you more.' At which words the blood entirely forsook her lovely cheeks, and she became a lifeless corpse in my arms.

"Amelia continued so long motionless, that the doctor, as well as Mrs. Harris, began to be under the most terrible apprehensions; so they informed me afterwards, for at that time I was incapable of making any observation. I had indeed very little more use of my senses than the dear creature whom I supported. At length, however, we were all delivered from our fears; and life again visited the loveliest mansion that human nature ever afforded it.

"I had been, and yet was, so terrified with what had happened, and Amelia continued yet so weak and ill, that I determined, whatever might be the consequence, not to leave her that day; which resolution she was no sooner acquainted with than she fell on her knees, crying, 'Good Heaven! I thank thee for this reprieve at least. Oh! that every hour of my future life could be crammed into this dear day!'

"Our good friend the doctor remained with us. He said he had intended to visit a family in some affliction; 'but I don't know,' says he, 'why I should ride a dozen miles after affliction, when we have enough here.'" Of all mankind the doctor is the best of comforters. As his excessive good-nature makes him take vast delight in the office, so his great penetration into the human mind, joined to his great experience, renders him the most wonderful proficient in it; and he so well knows when to soothe, when to reason, and when to ridicule, that he never applies any of those arts improperly, which is almost universally the case with the physicians of the mind, and which it requires very great judgment and dexterity to avoid.

"The doctor principally applied himself to ridiculing the dangers of the siege, in which he succeeded so well, that he sometimes forced a smile even into the face of Amelia. But what most comforted her were the arguments he used to convince her of the probability of my speedy if not immediate return. He said the general opinion was that the place would be taken before our arrival there; in which case we should have nothing more to do than to make the best of our way home again.

"Amelia was so lulled by these arts that she passed the day much better than I expected. Though the doctor could not make pride strong enough to conquer love, yet he exalted the former to make some stand against the latter; insomuch that my poor Amelia, I believe, more than once flattered herself, to speak the language of the, world, that her reason had gained an entire victory over her passion; till love brought up a reinforcement, if I may use that term, of tender ideas, and bore down all before him.

"In the evening the doctor and I passed another half-hour together, when he proposed to me to endeavour to leave Amelia asleep in the morning, and promised me to be at hand when she awaked, and to support her with all the assistance in his power. He added that nothing was more foolish than for friends to take leave of each other. 'It is true, indeed,' says he, 'in the common acquaintance and friendship of the world, this is a very harmless ceremony; but between two persons who really love each other the church of Rome never invented a penance half so severe as this which we absurdly impose on ourselves'

"I greatly approved the doctor's proposal; thanked him, and promised, if possible, to put it in execution. He then shook me by the hand, and heartily wished me well, saying, in his blunt way, 'Well, boy, I hope to see thee crowned with laurels at thy return; one comfort I have at least, that stone walls and a sea will prevent thee from running away.'

"When I had left the doctor I repaired to my Amelia, whom I found in her chamber, employed in a very different manner from what she had been the preceding night; she was busy in packing up some trinkets in a casket, which she desired me to carry with me. This casket was her own work, and she had just fastened it as I came to her.

"Her eyes very plainly discovered what had passed while she was engaged in her work: however, her countenance was now serene, and she spoke, at least, with some chearfulness. But after some time, 'You must take care of this casket, Billy,' said she. 'You must, indeed, Billy—for—' here passion almost choaked her, till a flood of tears gave her relief, and then she proceeded—'For I shall be the happiest woman that ever was born when I see it again.' I told her, with the blessing of God, that day would soon come. 'Soon!' answered she. 'No, Billy, not soon: a week is an age;—but yet the happy day may come. It shall, it must, it will! Yes, Billy, we shall meet never to part again, even in this world, I hope.' Pardon my weakness, Miss Matthews, but upon my soul I cannot help it," cried he, wiping his eyes. "Well, I wonder at your patience, and I will try it no longer. Amelia, tired out with so long a struggle between variety of passions, and having not closed her eyes during three successive nights, towards the morning fell into a profound sleep. In which sleep I left her, and, having drest myself with all the expedition imaginable, singing, whistling, hurrying, attempting by every method to banish thought, I mounted my horse, which I had over-night ordered to be ready, and galloped away from that house where all my treasure was deposited.

"Thus, madam, I have, in obedience to your commands, run through a scene which, if it hath been tiresome to you, you must yet acquit me of having obtruded upon you. This I am convinced of, that no one is capable of tasting such a scene who hath not a heart full of tenderness, and perhaps not even then, unless he hath been in the same situation."



Chapter iii.

In which Mr. Booth sets forward on his journey.

"Well, madam, we have now taken our leave of Amelia. I rode a full mile before I once suffered myself to look back; but now being come to the top of a little hill, the last spot I knew which could give me a prospect of Mrs. Harris's house, my resolution failed: I stopped and cast my eyes backward. Shall I tell you what I felt at that instant? I do assure you I am not able. So many tender ideas crowded at once into my mind, that, if I may use the expression, they almost dissolved my heart. And now, madam, the most unfortunate accident came first into my head. This was, that I had in the hurry and confusion left the dear casket behind me. The thought of going back at first suggested itself; but the consequences of that were too apparent. I therefore resolved to send my man, and in the meantime to ride on softly on my road. He immediately executed my orders, and after some time, feeding my eyes with that delicious and yet heartfelt prospect, I at last turned my horse to descend the hill, and proceeded about a hundred yards, when, considering with myself that I should lose no time by a second indulgence, I again turned back, and once more feasted my sight with the same painful pleasure till my man returned, bringing me the casket, and an account that Amelia still continued in the sweet sleep I left her. I now suddenly turned my horse for the last time, and with the utmost resolution pursued my journey.

"I perceived my man at his return—But before I mention anything of him it may be proper, madam, to acquaint you who he was. He was the foster-brother of my Amelia. This young fellow had taken it into his head to go into the army; and he was desirous to serve under my command. The doctor consented to discharge him; his mother at last yielded to his importunities, and I was very easily prevailed on to list one of the handsomest young fellows in England.

"You will easily believe I had some little partiality to one whose milk Amelia had sucked; but, as he had never seen the regiment, I had no opportunity to shew him any great mark of favour. Indeed he waited on me as my servant; and I treated him with all the tenderness which can be used to one in that station.

"When I was about to change into the horse-guards the poor fellow began to droop, fearing that he should no longer be in the same corps with me, though certainly that would not have been the case. However, he had never mentioned one word of his dissatisfaction. He is indeed a fellow of a noble spirit; but when he heard that I was to remain where I was, and that we were to go to Gibraltar together, he fell into transports of joy little short of madness. In short, the poor fellow had imbibed a very strong affection for me; though this was what I knew nothing of till long after.

"When he returned to me then, as I was saying, with the casket, I observed his eyes all over blubbered with tears. I rebuked him a little too rashly on this occasion. 'Heyday!' says I, 'what is the meaning of this? I hope I have not a milk-sop with me. If I thought you would shew such a face to the enemy I would leave you behind.'— 'Your honour need not fear that,' answered he; 'I shall find nobody there that I shall love well enough to make me cry.' I was highly pleased with this answer, in which I thought I could discover both sense and spirit. I then asked him what had occasioned those tears since he had left me (for he had no sign of any at that time), and whether he had seen his mother at Mrs. Harris's? He answered in the negative, and begged that I would ask him no more questions; adding that he was not very apt to cry, and he hoped he should never give me such another opportunity of blaming him. I mention this only as an instance of his affection towards me; for I never could account for those tears any otherwise than by placing them to the account of that distress in which he left me at that time. We travelled full forty miles that day without baiting, when, arriving at the inn where I intended to rest that night, I retired immediately to my chamber, with my dear Amelia's casket, the opening of which was the nicest repast, and to which every other hunger gave way.

"It is impossible to mention to you all the little matters with which Amelia had furnished this casket. It contained medicines of all kinds, which her mother, who was the Lady Bountiful of that country, had supplied her with. The most valuable of all to me was a lock of her dear hair, which I have from that time to this worn in my bosom. What would I have then given for a little picture of my dear angel, which she had lost from her chamber about a month before! and which we had the highest reason in the world to imagine her sister had taken away; for the suspicion lay only between her and Amelia's maid, who was of all creatures the honestest, and whom her mistress had often trusted with things of much greater value; for the picture, which was set in gold, and had two or three little diamonds round it, was worth about twelve guineas only; whereas Amelia left jewels in her care of much greater value."

"Sure," cries Miss Matthews, "she could not be such a paultry pilferer."

"Not on account of the gold or the jewels," cries Booth. "We imputed it to mere spite, with which, I assure you, she abounds; and she knew that, next to Amelia herself, there was nothing which I valued so much as this little picture; for such a resemblance did it bear of the original, that Hogarth himself did never, I believe, draw a stronger likeness. Spite, therefore, was the only motive to this cruel depredation; and indeed her behaviour on the occasion sufficiently convinced us both of the justice of our suspicion, though we neither of us durst accuse her; and she herself had the assurance to insist very strongly (though she could not prevail) with Amelia to turn away her innocent maid, saying, she would not live in the house with a thief."

Miss Matthews now discharged some curses on Miss Betty, not much worth repeating, and then Mr. Booth proceeded in his relation.



Chapter iv.

A sea piece.

"The next day we joined the regiment, which was soon after to embark. Nothing but mirth and jollity were in the countenance of every officer and soldier; and as I now met several friends whom I had not seen for above a year before, I passed several happy hours, in which poor Amelia's image seldom obtruded itself to interrupt my pleasure. To confess the truth, dear Miss Matthews, the tenderest of passions is capable of subsiding; nor is absence from our dearest friends so unsupportable as it may at first appear. Distance of time and place do really cure what they seem to aggravate; and taking leave of our friends resembles taking leave of the world; concerning which it hath been often said that it is not death, but dying, which is terrible."— Here Miss Matthews burst into a fit of laughter, and cried, "I sincerely ask your pardon; but I cannot help laughing at the gravity of your philosophy." Booth answered, That the doctrine of the passions had been always his favourite study; that he was convinced every man acted entirely from that passion which was uppermost. "Can I then think," said he, "without entertaining the utmost contempt for myself, that any pleasure upon earth could drive the thoughts of Amelia one instant from my mind?

"At length we embarked aboard a transport, and sailed for Gibraltar; but the wind, which was at first fair, soon chopped about; so that we were obliged, for several days, to beat to windward, as the sea phrase is. During this time the taste which I had of a seafaring life did not appear extremely agreeable. We rolled up and down in a little narrow cabbin, in which were three officers, all of us extremely sea-sick; our sickness being much aggravated by the motion of the ship, by the view of each other, and by the stench of the men. But this was but a little taste indeed of the misery which was to follow; for we were got about six leagues to the westward of Scilly, when a violent storm arose at north-east, which soon raised the waves to the height of mountains. The horror of this is not to be adequately described to those who have never seen the like. The storm began in the evening, and, as the clouds brought on the night apace, it was soon entirely dark; nor had we, during many hours, any other light than what was caused by the jarring elements, which frequently sent forth flashes, or rather streams of fire; and whilst these presented the most dreadful objects to our eyes, the roaring of the winds, the dashing of the waves against the ship and each other, formed a sound altogether as horrible for our ears; while our ship, sometimes lifted up, as it were, to the skies, and sometimes swept away at once as into the lowest abyss, seemed to be the sport of the winds and seas. The captain himself almost gave up all for lost, and exprest his apprehension of being inevitably cast on the rocks of Scilly, and beat to pieces. And now, while some on board were addressing themselves to the Supreme Being, and others applying for comfort to strong liquors, my whole thoughts were entirely engaged by my Amelia. A thousand tender ideas crouded into my mind. I can truly say that I had not a single consideration about myself in which she was not concerned. Dying to me was leaving her; and the fear of never seeing her more was a dagger stuck in my heart. Again, all the terrors with which this storm, if it reached her ears, must fill her gentle mind on my account, and the agonies which she must undergo when she heard of my fate, gave me such intolerable pangs, that I now repented my resolution, and wished, I own I wished, that I had taken her advice, and preferred love and a cottage to all the dazzling charms of honour.

"While I was tormenting myself with those meditations, and had concluded myself as certainly lost, the master came into the cabbin, and with a chearful voice assured us that we had escaped the danger, and that we had certainly past to westward of the rock. This was comfortable news to all present; and my captain, who had been some time on his knees, leapt suddenly up, and testified his joy with a great oath.

"A person unused to the sea would have been astonished at the satisfaction which now discovered itself in the master or in any on board; for the storm still raged with great violence, and the daylight, which now appeared, presented us with sights of horror sufficient to terrify minds which were not absolute slaves to the passion of fear; but so great is the force of habit, that what inspires a landsman with the highest apprehension of danger gives not the least concern to a sailor, to whom rocks and quicksands are almost the only objects of terror.

"The master, however, was a little mistaken in the present instance; for he had not left the cabbin above an hour before my man came running to me, and acquainted me that the ship was half full of water; that the sailors were going to hoist out the boat and save themselves, and begged me to come that moment along with him, as I tendered my preservation. With this account, which was conveyed to me in a whisper, I acquainted both the captain and ensign; and we all together immediately mounted the deck, where we found the master making use of all his oratory to persuade the sailors that the ship was in no danger; and at the same time employing all his authority to set the pumps a-going, which he assured them would keep the water under, and save his dear Lovely Peggy (for that was the name of the ship), which he swore he loved as dearly as his own soul.

"Indeed this sufficiently appeared; for the leak was so great, and the water flowed in so plentifully, that his Lovely Peggy was half filled before he could be brought to think of quitting her; but now the boat was brought alongside the ship, and the master himself, notwithstanding all his love for her, quitted his ship, and leapt into the boat. Every man present attempted to follow his example, when I heard the voice of my servant roaring forth my name in a kind of agony. I made directly to the ship-side, but was too late; for the boat, being already overladen, put directly off. And now, madam, I am going to relate to you an instance of heroic affection in a poor fellow towards his master, to which love itself, even among persons of superior education, can produce but few similar instances. My poor man, being unable to get me with him into the boat, leapt suddenly into the sea, and swam back to the ship; and, when I gently rebuked him for his rashness, he answered, he chose rather to die with me than to live to carry the account of my death to my Amelia: at the same time bursting into a flood of tears, he cried, 'Good Heavens! what will that poor lady feel when she hears of this!' This tender concern for my dear love endeared the poor fellow more to me than the gallant instance which he had just before given of his affection towards myself.

"And now, madam, my eyes were shocked with a sight, the horror of which can scarce be imagined; for the boat had scarce got four hundred yards from the ship when it was swallowed up by the merciless waves, which now ran so high, that out of the number of persons which were in the boat none recovered the ship, though many of them we saw miserably perish before our eyes, some of them very near us, without any possibility of giving them the least assistance.

"But, whatever we felt for them, we felt, I believe, more for ourselves, expecting every minute when we should share the same fate. Amongst the rest, one of our officers appeared quite stupified with fear. I never, indeed, saw a more miserable example of the great power of that passion: I must not, however, omit doing him justice, by saying that I afterwards saw the same man behave well in an engagement, in which he was wounded; though there likewise he was said to have betrayed the same passion of fear in his countenance.

"The other of our officers was no less stupified (if I may so express myself) with fool-hardiness, and seemed almost insensible of his danger. To say the truth, I have, from this and some other instances which I have seen, been almost inclined to think that the courage as well as cowardice of fools proceeds from not knowing what is or what is not the proper object of fear; indeed, we may account for the extreme hardiness of some men in the same manner as for the terrors of children at a bugbear. The child knows not but that the bugbear is the proper object of fear, the blockhead knows not that a cannon-ball is so.

"As to the remaining part of the ship's crew and the soldiery, most of them were dead drunk, and the rest were endeavouring, as fast as they could, to prepare for death in the same manner.

"In this dreadful situation we were taught that no human condition should inspire men with absolute despair; for, as the storm had ceased for some time, the swelling of the sea began considerably to abate; and we now perceived the man of war which convoyed us, at no great distance astern. Those aboard her easily perceived our distress, and made towards us. When they came pretty near they hoisted out two boats to our assistance. These no sooner approached the ship than they were instantaneously filled, and I myself got a place in one of them, chiefly by the aid of my honest servant, of whose fidelity to me on all occasions I cannot speak or think too highly. Indeed, I got into the boat so much the more easily, as a great number on board the ship were rendered, by drink, incapable of taking any care for themselves. There was time, however, for the boat to pass and repass; so that, when we came to call over names, three only, of all that remained in the ship after the loss of her own boat, were missing.

"The captain, ensign, and myself, were received with many congratulations by our officers on board the man of war.—The sea- officers too, all except the captain, paid us their compliments, though these were of the rougher kind, and not without several jokes on our escape. As for the captain himself, we scarce saw him during many hours; and, when he appeared, he presented a view of majesty beyond any that I had ever seen. The dignity which he preserved did indeed give me rather the idea of a Mogul, or a Turkish emperor, than of any of the monarchs of Christendom. To say the truth, I could resemble his walk on the deck to nothing but the image of Captain Gulliver strutting among the Lilliputians; he seemed to think himself a being of an order superior to all around him, and more especially to us of the land service. Nay, such was the behaviour of all the sea- officers and sailors to us and our soldiers, that, instead of appearing to be subjects of the same prince, engaged in one quarrel, and joined to support one cause, we land-men rather seemed to be captives on board an enemy's vessel. This is a grievous misfortune, and often proves so fatal to the service, that it is great pity some means could not be found of curing it."

Here Mr. Booth stopt a while to take breath. We will therefore give the same refreshment to the reader.



Chapter v.

The arrival of Booth at Gibraltar, with what there befel him.

"The adventures," continued Booth, "which I happened to me from this day till my arrival at Gibraltar are not worth recounting to you. After a voyage the remainder of which was tolerably prosperous, we arrived in that garrison, the natural strength of which is so well known to the whole world.

"About a week after my arrival it was my fortune to be ordered on a sally party, in which my left leg was broke with a musket-ball; and I should most certainly have either perished miserably, or must have owed my preservation to some of the enemy, had not my faithful servant carried me off on his shoulders, and afterwards, with the assistance of one of his comrades, brought me back into the garrison.

"The agony of my wound was so great, that it threw me into a fever, from whence my surgeon apprehended much danger. I now began again to feel for my Amelia, and for myself on her account; and the disorder of my mind, occasioned by such melancholy contemplations, very highly aggravated the distemper of my body; insomuch that it would probably have proved fatal, had it not been for the friendship of one Captain James, an officer of our regiment, and an old acquaintance, who is undoubtedly one of the pleasantest companions and one of the best- natured men in the world. This worthy man, who had a head and a heart perfectly adequate to every office of friendship, stayed with me almost day and night during my illness; and by strengthening my hopes, raising my spirits, and cheering my thoughts, preserved me from destruction.

"The behaviour of this man alone is a sufficient proof of the truth of my doctrine, that all men act entirely from their passions; for Bob James can never be supposed to act from any motives of virtue or religion, since he constantly laughs at both; and yet his conduct towards me alone demonstrates a degree of goodness which, perhaps, few of the votaries of either virtue or religion can equal." "You need not take much pains," answered Miss Matthews, with a smile, "to convince me of your doctrine. I have been always an advocate for the same. I look upon the two words you mention to serve only as cloaks, under which hypocrisy may be the better enabled to cheat the world. I have been of that opinion ever since I read that charming fellow Mandevil."

"Pardon me, madam," answered Booth; "I hope you do not agree with Mandevil neither, who hath represented human nature in a picture of the highest deformity. He hath left out of his system the best passion which the mind can possess, and attempts to derive the effects or energies of that passion from the base impulses of pride or fear. Whereas it is as certain that love exists in the mind of man as that its opposite hatred doth; and the same reasons will equally prove the existence of the one as the existence of the other."

"I don't know, indeed," replied the lady, "I never thought much about the matter. This I know, that when I read Mandevil I thought all he said was true; and I have been often told that he proves religion and virtue to be only mere names. However, if he denies there is any such thing as love, that is most certainly wrong.—I am afraid I can give him the lye myself."

"I will join with you, madam, in that," answered Booth, "at any time."

"Will you join with me?" answered she, looking eagerly at him—"O, Mr. Booth! I know not what I was going to say—What—Where did you leave off?—I would not interrupt you—but I am impatient to know something."

"What, madam?" cries Booth; "if I can give you any satisfaction—"

"No, no," said she, "I must hear all; I would not for the world break the thread of your story. Besides, I am afraid to ask—Pray, pray, sir, go on."

"Well, madam," cries Booth, "I think I was mentioning the extraordinary acts of friendship done me by Captain James; nor can I help taking notice of the almost unparalleled fidelity of poor Atkinson (for that was my man's name), who was not only constant in the assiduity of his attendance, but during the time of my danger demonstrated a concern for me which I can hardly account for, as my prevailing on his captain to make him a sergeant was the first favour he ever received at my hands, and this did not happen till I was almost perfectly recovered of my broken leg. Poor fellow! I shall never forget the extravagant joy his halbert gave him; I remember it the more because it was one of the happiest days of my own life; for it was upon this day that I received a letter from my dear Amelia, after a long silence, acquainting me that she was out of all danger from her lying-in.

"I was now once more able to perform my duty; when (so unkind was the fortune of war), the second time I mounted the guard, I received a violent contusion from the bursting of a bomb. I was felled to the ground, where I lay breathless by the blow, till honest Atkinson came to my assistance, and conveyed me to my room, where a surgeon immediately attended me.

"The injury I had now received was much more dangerous in my surgeon's opinion than the former; it caused me to spit blood, and was attended with a fever, and other bad symptoms; so that very fatal consequences were apprehended.

"In this situation, the image of my Amelia haunted me day and night; and the apprehensions of never seeing her more were so intolerable, that I had thoughts of resigning my commission, and returning home, weak as I was, that I might have, at least, the satisfaction of dying in the arms of my love. Captain James, however, persisted in dissuading me from any such resolution. He told me my honour was too much concerned, attempted to raise my hopes of recovery to the utmost of his power; but chiefly he prevailed on me by suggesting that, if the worst which I apprehended should happen, it was much better for Amelia that she should be absent than present in so melancholy an hour. 'I know' cried he, 'the extreme joy which must arise in you from meeting again with Amelia, and the comfort of expiring in her arms; but consider what she herself must endure upon the dreadful occasion, and you would not wish to purchase any happiness at the price of so much pain to her.' This argument at length prevailed on me; and it was after many long debates resolved, that she should not even know my present condition, till my doom either for life or death was absolutely fixed."

"Oh! Heavens! how great! how generous!" cried Miss Matthews. "Booth, thou art a noble fellow; and I scarce think there is a woman upon earth worthy so exalted a passion."

Booth made a modest answer to the compliment which Miss Matthews had paid him. This drew more civilities from the lady, and these again more acknowledgments; all which we shall pass by, and proceed with our history.



Chapter vi.

Containing matters which will please some readers.

"Two months and more had I continued in a state of incertainty, sometimes with more flattering, and sometimes with more alarming symptoms; when one afternoon poor Atkinson came running into my room, all pale and out of breath, and begged me not to be surprized at his news. I asked him eagerly what was the matter, and if it was anything concerning Amelia? I had scarce uttered the dear name when she herself rushed into the room, and ran hastily to me, crying, 'Yes, it is, it is your Amelia herself.'

"There is nothing so difficult to describe, and generally so dull when described, as scenes of excessive tenderness."

"Can you think so?" says Miss Matthews; "surely there is nothing so charming!—Oh! Mr. Booth, our sex is d—ned by the want of tenderness in yours. O, were they all like you—certainly no man was ever your equal."

"Indeed, madam," cries Booth, "you honour me too much. But—well—when the first transports of our meeting were over, Amelia began gently to chide me for having concealed my illness from her; for, in three letters which I had writ her since the accident had happened, there was not the least mention of it, or any hint given by which she could possibly conclude I was otherwise than in perfect health. And when I had excused myself, by assigning the true reason, she cried—'O Mr. Booth! and do you know so little of your Amelia as to think I could or would survive you? Would it not be better for one dreadful sight to break my heart all at once than to break it by degrees?—O Billy! can anything pay me for the loss of this embrace?'—-But I ask your pardon—how ridiculous doth my fondness appear in your eyes!"

"How often," answered she, "shall I assert the contrary? What would you have me say, Mr. Booth? Shall I tell you I envy Mrs. Booth of all the women in the world? would you believe me if I did? I hope you— what am I saying? Pray make no farther apology, but go on."

"After a scene," continued he, "too tender to be conceived by many, Amelia informed me that she had received a letter from an unknown hand, acquainting her with my misfortune, and advising her, if she ever desired to see me more, to come directly to Gibraltar. She said she should not have delayed a moment after receiving this letter, had not the same ship brought her one from me written with rather more than usual gaiety, and in which there was not the least mention of my indisposition. This, she said, greatly puzzled her and her mother, and the worthy divine endeavoured to persuade her to give credit to my letter, and to impute the other to a species of wit with which the world greatly abounds. This consists entirely in doing various kinds of mischief to our fellow-creatures, by belying one, deceiving another, exposing a third, and drawing in a fourth, to expose himself; in short, by making some the objects of laughter, others of contempt; and indeed not seldom by subjecting them to very great inconveniences, perhaps to ruin, for the sake of a jest.

"Mrs. Harris and the doctor derived the letter from this species of wit. Miss Betty, however, was of a different opinion, and advised poor Amelia to apply to an officer whom the governor had sent over in the same ship, by whom the report of my illness was so strongly confirmed, that Amelia immediately resolved on her voyage.

"I had a great curiosity to know the author of this letter, but not the least trace of it could be discovered. The only person with whom I lived in any great intimacy was Captain James, and he, madam, from what I have already told you, you will think to be the last person I could suspect; besides, he declared upon his honour that he knew nothing of the matter, and no man's honour is, I believe, more sacred. There was indeed an ensign of another regiment who knew my wife, and who had sometimes visited me in my illness; but he was a very unlikely man to interest himself much in any affairs which did not concern him; and he too declared he knew nothing of it."

"And did you never discover this secret?" cried Miss Matthews.

"Never to this day," answered Booth.

"I fancy," said she, "I could give a shrewd guess. What so likely as that Mrs. Booth, when you left her, should have given her foster- brother orders to send her word of whatever befel you? Yet stay—that could not be neither; for then she would not have doubted whether she should leave dear England on the receipt of the letter. No, it must have been by some other means;—yet that I own appeared extremely natural to me; for if I had been left by such a husband I think I should have pursued the same method."

"No, madam," cried Booth, "it must have been conveyed by some other channel; for my Amelia, I am certain, was entirely ignorant of the manner; and as for poor Atkinson, I am convinced he would not have ventured to take such a step without acquainting me. Besides, the poor fellow had, I believe, such a regard for my wife, out of gratitude for the favours she hath done his mother, that I make no doubt he was highly rejoiced at her absence from my melancholy scene. Well, whoever writ it is a matter very immaterial; yet, as it seemed so odd and unaccountable an incident, I could not help mentioning it.

"From the time of Amelia's arrival nothing remarkable happened till my perfect recovery, unless I should observe her remarkable behaviour, so full of care and tenderness, that it was perhaps without a parallel."

"O no, Mr. Booth," cries the lady; "it is fully equalled, I am sure, by your gratitude. There is nothing, I believe, so rare as gratitude in your sex, especially in husbands. So kind a remembrance is, indeed, more than a return to such an obligation; for where is the mighty obligation which a woman confers, who being possessed of an inestimable jewel, is so kind to herself as to be careful and tender of it? I do not say this to lessen your opinion of Mrs. Booth. I have no doubt but that she loves you as well as she is capable. But I would not have you think so meanly of our sex as to imagine there are not a thousand women susceptible of true tenderness towards a meritorious man. Believe me, Mr. Booth, if I had received such an account of an accident having happened to such a husband, a mother and a parson would not have held me a moment. I should have leapt into the first fishing-boat I could have found, and bid defiance to the winds and waves.—Oh! there is no true tenderness but in a woman of spirit. I would not be understood all this while to reflect on Mrs. Booth. I am only defending the cause of my sex; for, upon my soul, such compliments to a wife are a satire on all the rest of womankind."

"Sure you jest, Miss Matthews," answered Booth with a smile; "however, if you please, I will proceed in my story."



Chapter vii.

The captain, continuing his story, recounts some particulars which, we doubt not, to many good people, will appear unnatural.

I was scarce sooner recovered from my indisposition than Amelia herself fell ill. This, I am afraid, was occasioned by the fatigues which I could not prevent her from undergoing on my account; for, as my disease went off with violent sweats, during which the surgeon strictly ordered that I should lie by myself, my Amelia could not be prevailed upon to spend many hours in her own bed. During my restless fits she would sometimes read to me several hours together; indeed it was not without difficulty that she ever quitted my bedside. These fatigues, added to the uneasiness of her mind, overpowered her weak spirits, and threw her into one of the worst disorders that can possibly attend a woman; a disorder very common among the ladies, and our physicians have not agreed upon its name. Some call it fever on the spirits, some a nervous fever, some the vapours, and some the hysterics."

"O say no more," cries Miss Matthews; "I pity you, I pity you from my soul. A man had better be plagued with all the curses of Egypt than with a vapourish wife."

"Pity me! madam," answered Booth; "pity rather that dear creature who, from her love and care of my unworthy self, contracted a distemper, the horrors of which are scarce to be imagined. It is, indeed, a sort of complication of all diseases together, with almost madness added to them. In this situation, the siege being at an end, the governor gave me leave to attend my wife to Montpelier, the air of which was judged to be most likely to restore her to health. Upon this occasion she wrote to her mother to desire a remittance, and set forth the melancholy condition of her health, and her necessity for money, in such terms as would have touched any bosom not void of humanity, though a stranger to the unhappy sufferer. Her sister answered it, and I believe I have a copy of the answer in my pocket. I keep it by me as a curiosity, and you would think it more so could I shew you my Amelia's letter." He then searched his pocket-book, and finding the letter among many others, he read it in the following words:

"'DEAR SISTER,—My mamma being much disordered, hath commanded me to tell you she is both shocked and surprized at your extraordinary request, or, as she chuses to call it, order for money. You know, my dear, she says that your marriage with this red-coat man was entirely against her consent and the opinion of all your family (I am sure I may here include myself in that number); and yet, after this fatal act of disobedience, she was prevailed on to receive you as her child; not, however, nor are you so to understand it, as the favourite which you was before. She forgave you; but this was as a Christian and a parent; still preserving in her own mind a just sense of your disobedience, and a just resentment on that account. And yet, notwithstanding this resentment, she desires you to remember that, when you a second time ventured to oppose her authority, and nothing would serve you but taking a ramble (an indecent one, I can't help saying) after your fellow, she thought fit to shew the excess of a mother's tenderness, and furnished you with no less than fifty pounds for your foolish voyage. How can she, then, be otherwise than surprized at your present demand? which, should she be so weak to comply with, she must expect to be every month repeated, in order to supply the extravagance of a young rakish officer. You say she will compassionate your sufferings; yes, surely she doth greatly compassionate them, and so do I too, though you was neither so kind nor so civil as to suppose I should. But I forgive all your slights to me, as well now as formerly. Nay, I not only forgive, but I pray daily for you. But, dear sister, what could you expect less than what hath happened? you should have believed your friends, who were wiser and older than you. I do not here mean myself, though I own I am eleven months and some odd weeks your superior; though, had I been younger, I might, perhaps, have been able to advise you; for wisdom and what some may call beauty do not always go together. You will not be offended at this; for I know in your heart, you have always held your head above some people, whom, perhaps, other people have thought better of; but why do I mention what I scorn so much? No, my dear sister, Heaven forbid it should ever be said of me that I value myself upon my face— not but if I could believe men perhaps—but I hate and despise men— you know I do, my dear, and I wish you had despised them as much; but jacta est jalea, as the doctor says. You are to make the best of your fortune—what fortune, I mean, my mamma may please to give you, for you know all is in her power. Let me advise you, then, to bring your mind to your circumstances, and remember (for I can't help writing it, as it is for your own good) the vapours are a distemper which very ill become a knapsack. Remember, my dear, what you have done; remember what my mamma hath done; remember we have something of yours to keep, and do not consider yourself as an only child; no, nor as a favourite child; but be pleased to remember, Dear sister, Your most affectionate sister, and most obedient humble servant, E. HARRIS.'"

"O brave Miss Betty!" cried Miss Matthews; "I always held her in high esteem; but I protest she exceeds even what I could have expected from her."

"This letter, madam," cries Booth, "you will believe, was an excellent cordial for my poor wife's spirits. So dreadful indeed was the effect it had upon her, that, as she had read it in my absence, I found her, at my return home, in the most violent fits; and so long was it before she recovered her senses, that I despaired of that blest event ever happening; and my own senses very narrowly escaped from being sacrificed to my despair. However, she came at last to herself, and I began to consider of every means of carrying her immediately to Montpelier, which was now become much more necessary than before.

"Though I was greatly shocked at the barbarity of the letter, yet I apprehended no very ill consequence from it; for, as it was believed all over the army that I had married a great fortune, I had received offers of money, if I wanted it, from more than one. Indeed, I might have easily carried my wife to Montpelier at any time; but she was extremely averse to the voyage, being desirous of our returning to England, as I had leave to do; and she grew daily so much better, that, had it not been for the receipt of that cursed—which I have just read to you, I am persuaded she might have been able to return to England in the next ship.

"Among others there was a colonel in the garrison who had not only offered but importuned me to receive money of him; I now, therefore, repaired to him; and, as a reason for altering my resolution, I produced the letter, and, at the same time, acquainted him with the true state of my affairs. The colonel read the letter, shook his head, and, after some silence, said he was sorry I had refused to accept his offer before; but that he had now so ordered matters, and disposed of his money, that he had not a shilling left to spare from his own occasions.

"Answers of the same kind I had from several others, but not one penny could I borrow of any; for I have been since firmly persuaded that the honest colonel was not content with denying me himself, but took effectual means, by spreading the secret I had so foolishly trusted him with, to prevent me from succeeding elsewhere; for such is the nature of men, that whoever denies himself to do you a favour is unwilling that it should be done to you by any other.

"This was the first time I had ever felt that distress which arises from the want of money; a distress very dreadful indeed in a married state; for what can be more miserable than to see anything necessary to the preservation of a beloved creature, and not be able to supply it?

"Perhaps you may wonder, madam, that I have not mentioned Captain James on this occasion; but he was at that time laid up at Algiers (whither he had been sent by the governor) in a fever. However, he returned time enough to supply me, which he did with the utmost readiness on the very first mention of my distress; and the good colonel, notwithstanding his having disposed of his money, discounted the captain's draft. You see, madam, an instance in the generous behaviour of my friend James, how false are all universal satires against humankind. He is indeed one of the worthiest men the world ever produced.

"But, perhaps, you will be more pleased still with the extravagant generosity of my sergeant. The day before the return of Mr. James, the poor fellow came to me with tears in his eyes, and begged I would not be offended at what he was going to mention. He then pulled a purse from his pocket, which contained, he said, the sum of twelve pounds, and which he begged me to accept, crying, he was sorry it was not in his power to lend me whatever I wanted. I was so struck with this instance of generosity and friendship in such a person, that I gave him an opportunity of pressing me a second time before I made him an answer. Indeed, I was greatly surprised how he came to be worth that little sum, and no less at his being acquainted with my own wants. In both which points he presently satisfied me. As to the first, it seems he had plundered a Spanish officer of fifteen pistoles; and as to the second, he confessed he had it from my wife's maid, who had overheard some discourse between her mistress and me. Indeed people, I believe, always deceive themselves, who imagine they can conceal distrest circumstances from their servants; for these are always extremely quicksighted on such occasions."

"Good heavens!" cries Miss Matthews, "how astonishing is such behaviour in so low a fellow!"

"I thought so myself," answered Booth; "and yet I know not, on a more strict examination into the matter, why we should be more surprised to see greatness of mind discover itself in one degree or rank of life than in another. Love, benevolence, or what you will please to call it, may be the reigning passion in a beggar as well as in a prince; and wherever it is, its energies will be the same.

"To confess the truth, I am afraid we often compliment what we call upper life, with too much injustice, at the expense of the lower. As it is no rare thing to see instances which degrade human nature in persons of the highest birth and education, so I apprehend that examples of whatever is really great and good have been sometimes found amongst those who have wanted all such advantages. In reality, palaces, I make no doubt, do sometimes contain nothing but dreariness and darkness, and the sun of righteousness hath shone forth with all its glory in a cottage."



Chapter viii.

The story of Booth continued.

"Mr. Booth thus went on:

"We now took leave of the garrison, and, having landed at Marseilles, arrived at Montpelier, without anything happening to us worth remembrance, except the extreme sea-sickness of poor Amelia; but I was afterwards well repaid for the terrors which it occasioned me by the good consequences which attended it; for I believe it contributed, even more than the air of Montpelier, to the perfect re-establishment of her health."

"I ask your pardon for interrupting you," cries Miss Matthews, "but you never satisfied me whether you took the sergeant's money. You have made me half in love with that charming fellow."

"How can you imagine, madam," answered Booth, "I should have taken from a poor fellow what was of so little consequence to me, and at the same time of so much to him? Perhaps, now, you will derive this from the passion of pride."

"Indeed," says she, "I neither derive it from the passion of pride nor from the passion of folly: but methinks you should have accepted the offer, and I am convinced you hurt him very much when you refused it. But pray proceed in your story." Then Booth went on as follows:

"As Amelia recovered her health and spirits daily, we began to pass our time very pleasantly at Montpelier; for the greatest enemy to the French will acknowledge that they are the best people in the world to live amongst for a little while. In some countries it is almost as easy to get a good estate as a good acquaintance. In England, particularly, acquaintance is of almost as slow growth as an oak; so that the age of man scarce suffices to bring it to any perfection, and families seldom contract any great intimacy till the third, or at least the second generation. So shy indeed are we English of letting a stranger into our houses, that one would imagine we regarded all such as thieves. Now the French are the very reverse. Being a stranger among them entitles you to the better place, and to the greater degree of civility; and if you wear but the appearance of a gentleman, they never suspect you are not one. Their friendship indeed seldom extends as far as their purse; nor is such friendship usual in other countries. To say the truth, politeness carries friendship far enough in the ordinary occasions of life, and those who want this accomplishment rarely make amends for it by their sincerity; for bluntness, or rather rudeness, as it commonly deserves to be called, is not always so much a mark of honesty as it is taken to be.

"The day after our arrival we became acquainted with Mons. Bagillard. He was a Frenchman of great wit and vivacity, with a greater share of learning than gentlemen are usually possessed of. As he lodged in the same house with us, we were immediately acquainted, and I liked his conversation so well that I never thought I had too much of his company. Indeed, I spent so much of my time with him, that Amelia (I know not whether I ought to mention it) grew uneasy at our familiarity, and complained of my being too little with her, from my violent fondness for my new acquaintance; for, our conversation turning chiefly upon books, and principally Latin ones (for we read several of the classics together), she could have but little entertainment by being with us. When my wife had once taken it into her head that she was deprived of my company by M. Bagillard, it was impossible to change her opinion; and, though I now spent more of my time with her than I had ever done before, she still grew more and more dissatisfied, till at last she very earnestly desired me to quit my lodgings, and insisted upon it with more vehemence than I had ever known her express before. To say the truth, if that excellent woman could ever be thought unreasonable, I thought she was so on this occasion.

"But in what light soever her desires appeared to me, as they manifestly arose from an affection of which I had daily the most endearing proofs, I resolved to comply with her, and accordingly removed to a distant part of the town; for it is my opinion that we can have but little love for the person whom we will never indulge in an unreasonable demand. Indeed, I was under a difficulty with regard to Mons. Bagillard; for, as I could not possibly communicate to him the true reason for quitting my lodgings, so I found it as difficult to deceive him by a counterfeit one; besides, I was apprehensive I should have little less of his company than before. I could, indeed, have avoided this dilemma by leaving Montpelier, for Amelia had perfectly recovered her health; but I had faithfully promised Captain James to wait his return from Italy, whither he was gone some time before from Gibraltar; nor was it proper for Amelia to take any long journey, she being now near six months gone with child.

"This difficulty, however, proved to be less than I had imagined it; for my French friend, whether he suspected anything from my wife's behaviour, though she never, as I observed, shewed him the least incivility, became suddenly as cold on his side. After our leaving the lodgings he never made above two or three formal visits; indeed his time was soon after entirely taken up by an intrigue with a certain countess, which blazed all over Montpelier.

"We had not been long in our new apartments before an English officer arrived at Montpelier, and came to lodge in the same house with us. This gentleman, whose name was Bath, was of the rank of a major, and had so much singularity in his character, that, perhaps, you never heard of any like him. He was far from having any of those bookish qualifications which had before caused my Amelia's disquiet. It is true, his discourse generally turned on matters of no feminine kind; war and martial exploits being the ordinary topics of his conversation: however, as he had a sister with whom Amelia was greatly pleased, an intimacy presently grew between us, and we four lived in one family.

"The major was a great dealer in the marvellous, and was constantly the little hero of his own tale. This made him very entertaining to Amelia, who, of all the persons in the world, hath the truest taste and enjoyment of the ridiculous; for, whilst no one sooner discovers it in the character of another, no one so well conceals her knowledge of it from the ridiculous person. I cannot help mentioning a sentiment of hers on this head, as I think it doth her great honour. 'If I had the same neglect,' said she, 'for ridiculous people with the generality of the world, I should rather think them the objects of tears than laughter; but, in reality, I have known several who, in some parts of their characters, have been extremely ridiculous, in others have been altogether as amiable. For instance,' said she, 'here is the major, who tells us of many things which he has never seen, and of others which he hath never done, and both in the most extravagant excess; and yet how amiable is his behaviour to his poor sister, whom he hath not only brought over hither for her health, at his own expence, but is come to bear her company.' I believe, madam, I repeat her very words; for I am very apt to remember what she says.

"You will easily believe, from a circumstance I have just mentioned in the major's favour, especially when I have told you that his sister was one of the best of girls, that it was entirely necessary to hide from her all kind of laughter at any part of her brother's behaviour. To say the truth, this was easy enough to do; for the poor girl was so blinded with love and gratitude, and so highly honoured and reverenced her brother, that she had not the least suspicion that there was a person in the world capable of laughing at him.

"Indeed, I am certain she never made the least discovery of our ridicule; for I am well convinced she would have resented it: for, besides the love she bore her brother, she had a little family pride, which would sometimes appear. To say the truth, if she had any fault, it was that of vanity, but she was a very good girl upon the whole; and none of us are entirely free from faults."

"You are a good-natured fellow, Will," answered Miss Matthews; "but vanity is a fault of the first magnitude in a woman, and often the occasion of many others."

To this Booth made no answer, but continued his story.

"In this company we passed two or three months very agreeably, till the major and I both betook ourselves to our several nurseries; my wife being brought to bed of a girl, and Miss Bath confined to her chamber by a surfeit, which had like to have occasioned her death."

Here Miss Matthews burst into a loud laugh, of which when Booth asked the reason, she said she could not forbear at the thoughts of two such nurses.

"And did you really," says she, "make your wife's caudle yourself?"

"Indeed, madam," said he, "I did; and do you think that so extraordinary?"

"Indeed I do," answered she; "I thought the best husbands had looked on their wives' lying-in as a time of festival and jollity. What! did you not even get drunk in the time of your wife's delivery? tell me honestly how you employed yourself at this time."

"Why, then, honestly," replied he, "and in defiance of your laughter, I lay behind her bolster, and supported her in my arms; and, upon my soul, I believe I felt more pain in my mind than she underwent in her body. And now answer me as honestly: Do you really think it a proper time of mirth, when the creature one loves to distraction is undergoing the most racking torments, as well as in the most imminent danger? and—but I need not express any more tender circumstances."

"I am to answer honestly," cried she. "Yes, and sincerely," cries Booth. "Why, then, honestly and sincerely," says she, "may I never see heaven if I don't think you an angel of a man!"

"Nay, madam," answered Booth—"but, indeed, you do me too much honour; there are many such husbands. Nay, have we not an example of the like tenderness in the major? though as to him, I believe, I shall make you laugh. While my wife lay-in, Miss Bath being extremely ill, I went one day to the door of her apartment, to enquire after her health, as well as for the major, whom I had not seen during a whole week. I knocked softly at the door, and being bid to open it, I found the major in his sister's ante-chamber warming her posset. His dress was certainly whimsical enough, having on a woman's bedgown and a very dirty flannel nightcap, which, being added to a very odd person (for he is a very awkward thin man, near seven feet high), might have formed, in the opinion of most men, a very proper object of laughter. The major started from his seat at my entering into the room, and, with much emotion, and a great oath, cried out, 'Is it you, sir?' I then enquired after his and his sister's health. He answered, that his sister was better, and he was very well, 'though I did not expect, sir,' cried he, with not a little confusion, 'to be seen by you in this situation.' I told him I thought it impossible he could appear in a situation more becoming his character. 'You do not?' answered he. 'By G— I am very much obliged to you for that opinion; but, I believe, sir, however my weakness may prevail on me to descend from it, no man can be more conscious of his own dignity than myself.' His sister then called to him from the inner room; upon which he rang the bell for her servant, and then, after a stride or two across the room, he said, with an elated aspect, 'I would not have you think, Mr. Booth, because you have caught me in this deshabille, by coming upon me a little too abruptly—I cannot help saying a little too abruptly— that I am my sister's nurse. I know better what is due to the dignity of a man, and I have shewn it in a line of battle. I think I have made a figure there, Mr. Booth, and becoming my character; by G— I ought not to be despised too much if my nature is not totally without its weaknesses.' He uttered this, and some more of the same kind, with great majesty, or, as he called it, dignity. Indeed, he used some hard words that I did not understand; for all his words are not to be found in a dictionary. Upon the whole, I could not easily refrain from laughter; however, I conquered myself, and soon after retired from him, astonished that it was possible for a man to possess true goodness, and be at the same time ashamed of it.

"But, if I was surprized at what had past at this visit, how much more was I surprized the next morning, when he came very early to my chamber, and told me he had not been able to sleep one wink at what had past between us! 'There were some words of yours,' says he, 'which must be further explained before we part. You told me, sir, when you found me in that situation, which I cannot bear to recollect, that you thought I could not appear in one more becoming my character; these were the words—I shall never forget them. Do you imagine that there is any of the dignity of a man wanting in my character? do you think that I have, during my sister's illness, behaved with a weakness that savours too much of effeminacy? I know how much it is beneath a man to whine and whimper about a trifling girl as well as you or any man; and, if my sister had died, I should have behaved like a man on the occasion. I would not have you think I confined myself from company merely upon her account. I was very much disordered myself. And when you surprized me in that situation—I repeat again, in that situation —her nurse had not left the room three minutes, and I was blowing the fire for fear it should have gone out.'—In this manner he ran on almost a quarter of an hour before he would suffer me to speak. At last, looking steadfastly in his face, I asked him if I must conclude that he was in earnest? 'In earnest!' says he, repeating my words, 'do you then take my character for a jest?'—Lookee, sir, said I, very gravely, I think we know one another very well; and I have no reason to suspect you should impute it to fear when I tell you I was so far from intending to affront you, that I meant you one of the highest compliments. Tenderness for women is so far from lessening, that it proves a true manly character. The manly Brutus shewed the utmost tenderness to his Portia; and the great king of Sweden, the bravest, and even fiercest of men, shut himself up three whole days in the midst of a campaign, and would see no company, on the death of a favourite sister. At these words I saw his features soften; and he cried out, 'D—n me, I admire the king of Sweden of all the men in the world; and he is a rascal that is ashamed of doing anything which the king of Sweden did.—And yet, if any king of Sweden in France was to tell me that his sister had more merit than mine, by G— I'd knock his brains about his ears. Poor little Betsy! she is the honestest, worthiest girl that ever was born. Heaven be praised, she is recovered; for, if I had lost her, I never should have enjoyed another happy moment.' In this manner he ran on some time, till the tears began to overflow; which when he perceived, he stopt; perhaps he was unable to go on; for he seemed almost choaked: after a short silence, however, having wiped his eyes with his handkerchief, he fetched a deep sigh, and cried, 'I am ashamed you should see this, Mr. Booth; but d—n me, nature will get the better of dignity.' I now comforted him with the example of Xerxes, as I had before done with that of the king of Sweden; and soon after we sat down to breakfast together with much cordial friendship; for I assure you, with all his oddity, there is not a better-natured man in the world than the major."

"Good-natured, indeed!" cries Miss Matthews, with great scorn. "A fool! how can you mention such a fellow with commendation?"

Booth spoke as much as he could in defence of his friend; indeed, he had represented him in as favourable a light as possible, and had particularly left out those hard words with which, as he hath observed a little before, the major interlarded his discourse. Booth then proceeded as in the next chapter.



Chapter ix.

Containing very extraordinary matters.

"Miss Bath," continued Booth, "now recovered so fast, that she was abroad as soon as my wife. Our little partie quarree began to grow agreeable again; and we mixed with the company of the place more than we had done before. Mons. Bagillard now again renewed his intimacy, for the countess, his mistress, was gone to Paris; at which my wife, at first, shewed no dissatisfaction; and I imagined that, as she had a friend and companion of her own sex (for Miss Bath and she had contracted the highest fondness for each other), that she would the less miss my company. However, I was disappointed in this expectation; for she soon began to express her former uneasiness, and her impatience for the arrival of Captain James, that we might entirely quit Montpelier.

"I could not avoid conceiving some little displeasure at this humour of my wife, which I was forced to think a little unreasonable."—"A little, do you call it?" says Miss Matthews: "Good Heavens! what a husband are you!"—"How little worthy," answered he, "as you will say hereafter, of such a wife as my Amelia. One day, as we were sitting together, I heard a violent scream; upon which my wife, starting up, cried out, 'Sure that's Miss Bath's voice;' and immediately ran towards the chamber whence it proceeded. I followed her; and when we arrived, we there beheld the most shocking sight imaginable; Miss Bath lying dead on the floor, and the major all bloody kneeling by her, and roaring out for assistance. Amelia, though she was herself in little better condition than her friend, ran hastily to her, bared her neck, and attempted to loosen her stays, while I ran up and down, scarce knowing what I did, calling for water and cordials, and despatching several servants one after another for doctors and surgeons.

"Water, cordials, and all necessary implements being brought, Miss Bath was at length recovered, and placed in her chair, when the major seated himself by her. And now, the young lady being restored to life, the major, who, till then, had engaged as little of his own as of any other person's attention, became the object of all our considerations, especially his poor sister's, who had no sooner recovered sufficient strength than she began to lament her brother, crying out that he was killed; and bitterly bewailing her fate, in having revived from her swoon to behold so dreadful a spectacle. While Amelia applied herself to soothe the agonies of her friend, I began to enquire into the condition of the major, in which I was assisted by a surgeon, who now arrived. The major declared, with great chearfulness, that he did not apprehend his wound to be in the least dangerous, and therefore begged his sister to be comforted, saying he was convinced the surgeon would soon give her the same assurance; but that good man was not so liberal of assurances as the major had expected; for as soon as he had probed the wound he afforded no more than hopes, declaring that it was a very ugly wound; but added, by way of consolation, that he had cured many much worse.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13     Next Part
Home - Random Browse