Page images
PDF
EPUB

she was always extremely fond. Very good health, a very warm constitution, and a good deal of religion, made it absolutely necessary for her to marry again; and she resolved to please herself in her second husband, as she had done her friends in the first. From her the following billet was brought to Jones:

'SIR,

From the first day I saw you, I doubt my eyes have told you too plainly, that you were not indif ferent to me; but neither my tongue nor my hand should ever have avowed it, had not the ladies of the family where you are lodged given me such a character of you, and told me such proofs of your virtue and goodness, as convince me you are not only the most agreeable, but the most worthy of men. I have also the satisfaction to hear from them, that neither my person, understanding, nor character, are disagreeable to you. I have a fortune sufficient to make us both happy, but which cannot make me so without you. In thus disposing of my. self, I know I shall incur the censure of the world; but if I did not love you more than I fear the world, I should not be worthy of you. One only difficulty stops me: I am informed you are engaged in a commerce of gallantry with a woman of fashion. If you think it worth while to sacrifice that to the possession of me, I am yours; if not, forget my weakness, and let this remain an eternal secret between you and 'ARABELLA HUNT.'

At the reading of this, Jones was put into a violent flutter. His fortune was then at a very low ebb, the source being stopped from which hitherto he had been supplied. Of all he had received from Lady Bellaston, not above five guineas remained; and that very morning he had been dunned by a tradesman for twice that sum. His honourable mis

tress was in the hands of her father, and he had scarce any hopes ever to get her out of them again. To be subsisted at her expense, from that little fortune she had independent of her father, went much against the delicacy both of his pride and his love. This lady's fortune would have been exceeding convenient to him, and he could have no objection to her in any respect. On the contrary, he liked her as well as he did any woman, except Sophia. But to abandon Sophia, and marry another, that was impossible: he could not think of it upon any account. Yet why should he not, since it was plain she could not be his? Would it not be kinder to her, than to continue her longer engaged in a hopeless passion for him? Ought he not to do so in friendship to her? This notion prevailed some moments, and he had almost determined to be false to her from a high point of honour; but that refinement was not able to stand very long against the voice of nature, which cried in his heart, that such friendship was treason to love. At last he called for pen, ink, and paper, and writ as follows to Mrs. Hunt:

• MADAM,

It would be but a poor return to the favour you have done me, to sacrifice any gallantry to the possession of you; and I would certainly do it, though I were not disengaged, as at present I am, from any affair of that kind. But I should not be the honest man you think me, if I did not tell you, that my affections are engaged to another, who is a woman of virtue, and one that I never can leave, though it is probable I shall never possess her. God forbid that, in return of your kindness to me, I should do you such an injury, as to give you my hand, when I cannot give you my heart. No; I had much rather starve than be guilty of that. Even though my mistress were married to another, I would not marry

you, unless my heart had entirely effaced all impressions of her. Be assured that your secret was not more safe in your own breast, than in that of Your most obliged, and

' grateful humble servant,
'T. JONES.'

When our hero had finished and sent this letter, he went to his scrutoire, took out Miss Western's muff, kissed it several times, and then strutted some turns about his room, with more satisfaction of mind than ever any Irishman felt in carrying off a fortune of fifty thousand pounds.

CHAP. XII.

WHILE Jones was exulting in the consciousness

of his integrity, Partridge came capering into the room, as was his custom when he brought, or fancied he brought, any good tidings. He had been dispatched that morning, by his master, with orders to endeavour, by the servants of Lady Bellaston, or by any other means, to discover whither Sophia had been conveyed; and he now returned, and with a joyful countenance told our hero, that he had found. the lost bird. I have seen, sir,' says he, Black George, the game-keeper, who is one of the servants whom the 'squire hath brought with him to town. I knew him presently, though I have not seen him these several years; but you know, sir, he is a very remarkable man, or, to use a purer phrase, he hath a most remarkable beard, the largest and blackest I ever saw. It was some time, however, before Black George could recollect me.'- Well, but what is your good news? cries Jones: what do you know of my Sophia? You shall know presently, sir,' answered Partridge, I am coming to it as fast as I can. You are so impatient, sir, you would come at the infini

tive mood, before you can get to the imperative. As I was saying, sir, it was some time before he recollected my face. Confound your face!' cries Jones, what of my Sophia? Nay, sir,' answered Partridge, 'I know nothing more of Madam Sophia, than what I am going to tell you; and I should have told you all before this, if you had not interrupted me; but if you look so angry at me, you will frighten all of it out of my head, or, to use a purer phrase, out of my memory. I never saw you look so angry since the day we left Upton, which I shall remember if I was to live a thousand years.' Well, pray go on in your own way,' said Jones; you are resolved to make me mad, I find. Not for the world,' answered Partridge, I have suffered enough for that already; which, as I said, I shall bear in my remembrance the longest day I have to live.'---' Well, but Black George? cries Jones. Well, sir, as I was saying, it was a long time before he could recollect me; for, indeed, I am very much altered since I saw him. Non sum qualis eram. I have had troubles in the world; and nothing alters a man so much as grief. I have heard it will change the colour of a man's hair in a night. However, at last, know me he did, that's sure enough; for we are both of an age, and were at the same charity-school. George was a great dunce; but no matter for that; all men do not thrive in the world according to their learning. I am sure I have reason to say so; but it will be all one a thousand years hence. Well, sir, where was I? Owell, we no sooner knew each other, than, after many hearty shakes by the hand, we agreed to go to an alehouse and take a pot, and by good luck the beer was some of the best I have met with since I have been in town. Now, sir, I am coming to the point; for no sooner did I name you, and told him, that you and I came to town together, and had lived together ever since, than he called for another pot, and swore he would drink to your health; and, indeed, he drank your health so

heartily, that I was overjoyed to see there was se much gratitude left in the world; and after we had emptied that pot, I said I would be my pot too, and so we drank another to your health; and then I made haste home to tell you the news.'

What news?' cries Jones, you have not mentioned a word of my Sophia.'-Bless me! I had like to have forgot that. Indeed, we mentioned a great deal about young Madam Western; and George told me all: that Mr. Blifil is coming to town in order to be married to her. He had best make haste then, says I, or somebody will have her before he comes; and, indeed, says I, Mr. Seagrim, it is a thousand pities somebody should not have her; for he certainly loves her above all the women in the world. I would have both you and she know, that it is not for her fortune he follows her; for I can assure you as to matter of that, there is another lady, one of much greater quality and fortune than she can pretend to, who is so fond of somebody, that she comes after him day and night.'

Here Jones fell into a passion with Partridge, for having, as he said, betrayed him; but the poor fellow answered he had mentioned no name : 'Besides, sir,' said he, I can assure you, George is sincerely your friend, and wished Mr. Blifil at the devil more than once; nay, he said he would do any thing in bis power upon earth to serve you; and so I am convinced he will. Betray you, indeed! why, I question whether you have a better friend than George upon earth, except myself, or one that would go farther to serve you.'

'Well,' says Jones, a little pacified, you say this fellow, who, I believe, indeed, is enough inclined to be my friend, lives in the same house with Sophia?"

In the same house!' answered Partridge; 'why, sir, he is one of the servants of the family, and very well dressed I promise you he is; if it was not for his black beard, you would hardly know. him.'

« PreviousContinue »