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cureans, who held this wisdom to constitute the chief good; nor foolisher than that of their oppo. sites, those modern Epicures, who place all felicity in the abundant gratification of every sensual appetite.
But if by virtue is meant (as I almost think it ought) a certain relative quality, which is always busying itself without doors, and seems as much interested in pursuing the good of others as its own, I cannot so easily agree that this is the surest way to human happiness; because I am afraid we must then include poverty and contempt; with all the mischiefs which backbiting, envy, and ingratitude, can bring on mankind, in our idea of happiness; nay, sometimes, perhaps, we shall be obliged to wait upon the said hap piness to a jail; since many, by the above virtue, have brought themselves thither.
I have not now leisure to enter upon so large a field of speculation, as here seems opening upon me: my design was, to wipe off a doctrine that lay in my way; since, while Mr. Jones was acting the most virtuous part imaginable, in labouring to preserve his fellow creatures from destruction, the devil, or some other evil spirit, one perhaps clothed in human flesh, was hard at work to make him completely miserable, in the ruin of his Sophia.
This, therefore, would seem an exception to the above rule, if indeed it was a rule; but as we have, in our voyage through life, seen so many other exceptions to it, we choose to dispute the doctrine on which it is founded, which we do not apprehend to be Christian, which we are convinced is not true, and which is indeed destructive of one of the noblest ar. guments that reason alone cau furnish for the belief of immortality."
But as the reader's curiosity (if he hath any) must be now awake, and hungry, we shall provide to feed it as fast as we can.
REMEMBER a wise old gentleman, who used to say, When children are doing nothing, they are doing mischief.' I will not enlarge this quaint saying to the most beautiful part of the creation in general; but so far I may be allowed, that when the effects of female jealousy do not appear openly in their proper colours of rage and fury, we may suspect that mischievous passion to be at work privately, and attempting to undermine what it doth not attack above ground.
This was exemplified in the conduct of Lady Bellaston, who, under all the smiles which she wore in her countenance, concealed much indignation against Sophia; and, as she plainly saw that this young lady stood between her and the full indulgence of her desires, she resolved to get rid of her by some means or other; nor was it long before a very favourable opportunity of accomplishing this presented itself to her.
The reader may be pleased to remember, that when Sophia was thrown into that consternation at the playhouse, by the wit and humour of a set of young gentlemen, who call themselves the town, we in-. formed him, that she had put herself under the protection of a young nobleman, who had very safely conducted her to her chair.
This nobleman, who frequently visited Lady Bellaston, had more than once seen Sophia there, since her arrival in town, and had conceived a very great liking to her; which liking, as beauty never looks more ainiable than in distress, Sophia had in this fright so increased, that he might now, without any great impropriety, be said to be actually in love with her.
It may easily be believed, that he would not suffer so handsome an occasion of improving his acquaintance with the beloved object, as now offered itself
to elapse, when even good-breeding alone might have prompted him to pay her a visit.
The next morning, therefore, after this accident, he waited on Sophia, with the usual compliments, and hopes that she had received no harm from her last night's adventure.
As love, like fire, when once thoroughly kindled, is soon blown into a flame, Sophia in a very short time completed her conquest. Time now flew away unperceived; and the noble lord had been two' hours in company with the lady, before it entered into his head that he had made too long a visit. Though this circumstance alone would have alarm. ed Sophia, who was somewhat more a mistress of computation at present; she had indeed much more pregnant evidence from the eyes of her lover of what passed within his bosom; nay, though he did not make any open declaration of his passion, yet many of his expressions were rather too warm, and too tender, to have been imputed to complaisance, even in the age when such complaisance was in fashion; the very reverse of which is well known' to be the reigning mode at present.
Lady Bellaston had been apprised of his lordship's visit at his first arrival; and the length of it very well satisfied her, that things went, as she wished, and as indeed she had suspected the second time she saw this young couple together. This business she rightly, I think, concluded, that she should by no means forward by mixing in the company while they were together; she therefore ordered her servants, that when my lord was going, they should tell him, she desired to speak with him; and employ. ed the intermediate time in meditating how best to accomplish a scheme, which she made no doubt but his lordship would very readily embrace the execution of.
Lord Fellamar (for that was the title of this young nobleman) was no sooner introduced to her lady. ship, than she attacked him in the following strain :
'Bless me, my lord, are you here yet? I thought my servants had made a mistake, and let you go away; and I wanted to see you upon an affair of importance. Indeed, Lady Bellaston,' said he, I don't wonder you are astonished at the length of my visit; for I have staid above two hours, and I did not think I had staid above half a one.' What am I to conclude from thence, my lord?' said she: The company must be very agreeable, which can make. time slide away so very deceitfully. Upon my honour,' said he, the most agreeable I ever saw. Pray tell me, Lady Bellaston, who is this blazing star which you have produced among us all of a sudden? What blazing star, my lord?' said she, affecting a surprise. I mean,' said he, the lady I saw here the other day, whom I had last night in my arms at the play-house, and to whom I have been making that unreasonable visit.' O, my cousin Western!' said she. . Why that blazing star my lord, is the daughter of a country booby 'squire, and hath been in town about a fortnight, for the first time. Upon my soul,' said he, I should swear she had been bred up in a court; for, besides her beauty, I never saw any thing so genteel, so sensible, so polite. O brave!' cries the lady; 'my cousin hath you I find. Upon my honour,' answered he, I wish she had; for I am in love with her to distraction,' Nay, my lord,' said she, it is not wishing yourself very ill neither, for she is a very great fortune: I assure you, she is an only child, and her father's estate is a good 30002, a year.' Then I can assure you, madam,' answered the lord, I think her the best match in England.'Indeed, my lord,' replied she, if you like her, I heartily, wish you bad her.' If you think so kindly of me, madam,' said he, as she is a relation of yours, will you do me the honour to propose it to ber father And are you really then in earnest?" cries the lady, with an affected gravity. I hope, madam,' auswered he, you have a better opinion
of me, than to imagine I would jest with your lady. ship in an affair of this kind.'- Indeed, then,' said the lady, I will most readily propose your lordship to her father; and I can, I believe, assure you of his joyful acceptance of the proposal; but there is a bar, which I am almost ashamed to mention; and yet it is one you will never be able to conquer. You have a rival, my lord; and a rival who, though I blush to name him, neither you, nor all the world, will ever be able to conquer. Upon my word, Lady Bellaston,' cries he, you have struck a damp to my heart, which hath almost deprived me of being.' Fie! my lord,' said she; I should rather hope I had struck fire into you. A lover, and talk of damps in your heart! I rather imagined you would have asked your rival's name, that you might have immediately entered the lists with him.'... I promise you, madam,' answered he, there are very few things I would not undertake for your charming cousin but, pray, who is this happy man? Why he is,' said she, what I am sorry to say most happy men with us are, one of the lowest fellows in the world. He is a beggar, a bastard, a foundling, a fellow in meaner circumstances than one of your lordship's footmen.' And is it possible,' cried he, ⚫ that a young creature with such perfections should think of bestowing herself so unworthily?'' Alas! my lord,' answered she, consider the country --the bane of all young women is the country. There they learn a set of romantic notions of love, and I know not what folly, which this town and good company can scarce eradicate in a whole winter. Indeed, madam,' replied my lord, your cousin is of too immense a value to be thrown away: such ruin as this must be prevented.' "Alas!' cries she, my lord, how can it be pre. vented? The family have already done all in their power; but the girl is, I think, intoxicated, and nothing less than ruin will content her. And, to deal more openly with you, I expect every day to hear