Page images

tle, which was his usual method when any thing either pleased or vexed him, did, by drinking plentifully of this medicinal julap, so totally wash away his choler, that his temper was become perfectly placid and serene, when Mrs. Western returned with Sophia into the room. The young lady had on her hat and capuchin; and the aunt acquainted Mr. Western, that she intended to take her niece with her to her own lodgings; for, indeed, brother,' says she, these rooms are not fit to receive a Christian soul in.'

Very well, madam,' quoth Western; whatever you please. The girl can never be in better hands than yours; and the parson here can do me the justice to say, that I have said fifty times behind your back, that you was one of the most sensible women. in the world.'

To this,' cries the parson, I am ready to bear testimony.'

Nay, brother,' says Mrs. Western, I have always, I'm sure, given you as favourable a character. You must own you have a little too much hastiness. in your temper; but when you will allow yourself time to reflect, I never knew a man more reasonable.'

Why then, sister, if you think so,' said the 'squire, here's your good health with all my heart. I am a little passionate sometimes, but I scorn to bear any malice. Sophy, do you be a good girl, and do every thing your aunt orders you.'

I have not the least doubt of her,' answered Mrs. Western. She hath already had an example before her eyes, in the behaviour of that wretch her cousin Harriet, who ruined herself by neglecting my advice. O brother! what think you? You was hardly gone out of hearing, when you set out for London, when who should arrive but that impudent fellow with the odious Irish name--that Fitzpatrick. He broke in abruptly upon me without notice, or I would not have seen him. He ran on a long, unin

telligible story about his wife, to which he forced me to give him a hearing; but I made him very little answer, and delivered him the letter from his wife, which I bid him answer himself. I suppose the wretch will endeavour to find us out: but I beg you will not see her, for I am determined I will not.'

1 zee her,' answered the 'squire; you need not fear me. I'll ge no encouragement to such undutiful wenches. It is well for the fellow, her husband, I was not at huome. Od-rabbit it! he should have taken a dance thru the horse-pond, I promise un. You zee, Sophy, what undutifulness brings volks to. You have an example in your own family.'

Brother,' cries the aunt, you need not shock my niece by such odious repetitions. Why will you not leave every thing entirely to me ? Well, well; I wull, I wull,' said the 'squire.

And now Mrs. Western, luckily for Sophia, put an end to the conversation, by ordering chairs to be called. I say luckily; for had it continued much longer, fresh matter of dissension would, most probably, have arisen between the brother and sister; between whom education and sex made the only difference; for both were equally violent, and equally positive: they had both a vast affection for Sophia, and both a sovereign contempt for each other.


THE arrival of Black George in town, and the good offices which that grateful fellow had promised to do for his old benefactor, greatly comforted Jones in the midst of all the anxiety and uneasiness which he had suffered on the account of Sophia; from whom, by the means of the said George, he received the following answer to his letter; which Sophia, to whom the use of pen, ink, and paper, was restored

with her liberty, wrote the very evening when she departed from her confinement:


As I do not doubt your sincerity in what you write, you will be pleased to hear that some of my afflictions are at an end, by the arrival of my aunt Western, with whom I am at present, and with whom I enjoy all the liberty I can desire. One promise my aunt hath insisted on my making, which is, that I will not see or converse with any person without her knowledge and consent. This promise I have most solemnly given, and shall most inviolably keep; and though she hath not expressly forbidden me writing, yet that must be an omission from forgetfulness; or this, perhaps, is included in the word conversing. However, as I cannot but consider this as a breach of her generous confidence in my honour, you cannot expect that I shall, after this, continue to write myself, or to receive letters, without her knowledge. A promise is with me a very sacred thing, and to be extended to every thing understood from it, as well as to what is expressed by it; and this consideration may, perhaps, on reflection, afford you some comfort. But why should I mention a comfort to you of this kind? For though there is one thing in which I can never comply with the best of fathers, yet am I firmly resolved never to act in defiance of him, or to take any step of consequence without his consent. A firm persuasion of this, must teach you to divert your thoughts from what Fortune hath (perhaps) made impossible. This your own interest persuades you. This may reconcile, I hope, Mr. Allworthy to you; and if it will, you have my injunctions to pursue it. Accidents have laid some obligations on me, and your good intentions probably more. Fortune may, perhaps, be some time kinder to us both than at present. Believe

this, that I shall always think of you as I think you

deserve; and am,


Your obliged servant,


I charge you write to me no more--at present at least; and accept this, which is now of no service to me, which I know you must want, and think you owe the trifle only to that fortune by which you

found it.

A child, who hath just learnt his letters, would have spelled this letter out in less time than Jones took in reading it. The sensations it occasioned were a mixture of joy and grief; somewhat like what divide the mind of a good man, when he peruses the will of his deceased friend, in which a large legacy, which his distresses make the more welcome, is bequeathed to him. Upon the whole, however, he was more pleased than displeased; and, indeed, the reader may probably wonder that he was displeased at all; but the reader is not quite so much. in love as was poor Jones; and love is a disease, which, though it may in some instances resemble a consumption (which it sometimes causes), in others. proceeds in direct opposition to it; and particularly in this, that it never flatters itself, or sees any one symptom in a favourable light.

One thing gave him complete satisfaction, which was, that his mistress had regained her liberty, and was now with a lady where she might at least assure herself of a decent treatment. Another comfortable circumstance was, the reference which she made to her promise of never marrying any other man; for however disinterested he might imagine his passion, and notwithstanding all the generous overtures made in his letter, I very much question whether he could

Meaning, perhaps, the bank-bill for 1007.

have heard a more afflicting piece of news, than that Sophia was married to another, though the match had been never so great, and never so likely to end in making her completely happy. That refined de gree of platonic affection, which is absolutely detached from the flesh, and is, indeed, entirely and purely spiritual, is a gift confined to the female part of the creation; many of whom I have beard declare (and, doubtless, with great truth), that they would, with the utmost readiness, resign a lover to a rival, when such resignation was proved to be necessary for the temporal interest of such lover. Hence, therefore, I conclude, that this affection is in nature, though I cannot pretend to say I have ever seen an instance of it.

Mr. Jones having spent three hours in reading and kissing the aforesaid letter, and being, at last, in a state of good spirits, from the last-mentioned considerations, he agreed to carry an appointment, which he had before made, into execution. This was, to attend Mrs. Miller, and her youngest daughter, into the gallery at the play-house, and to admit Mr. Partridge as one of the company. For as Jones had really that taste for humour which many affect, he expected to enjoy much entertainment in the criticisms of Partridge; from whom he expected the simple dictates of nature, unimproved indeed, but likewise unadulterated by art.

In the first row, then, of the first gallery, did Mr. Jones, Mrs. Miller, her youngest daughter, and Partridge, take their places. Partridge immediately declared, it was the finest place he had ever been in. When the first music was played, he said, it was a wonder how so many fiddlers could play at one time, without putting one another out. While the fellow was lighting the upper candles, he cried out to Mrs. Miller, Look, look, madam! the very pic. ture of the man in the end of the common-prayer book, before the gunpowder-treason service.' Nor could he help observing, with a sigh, when all the

« PreviousContinue »