Page images

prostrated himself on the ground, and kissed his feet; in short, he was now as remarkably mean, as. he had been before remarkably wicked.

Jones could not so far check his disdain, but that it a little discovered itself in his countenance at this extreme servility. He raised his brother the moment he could from the ground, and advised him to bear his afflictions more like a man; repeating, at the same time, his promises, that he would do all in his power to lessen them; for which Blifil, making many professions of his unworthiness, poured forth a profusion of thanks; and then he having declared he would immediately depart to another lodging, Jones returned to bis uncle.

Among other matters, Allworthy now acquainted Jones with the discovery he had made concerning the 500l. bank-notes. I have,' said he already consulted a lawyer, who tells me, to my great asto. vishment, that there is no punishment for a fraud of this kind. Indeed, when I consider the black ingratitude of this fellow toward you I think a highwayman, compared to him, is an innocent person.'

• Good Heaven!' says Jones, . is it possible? I am shocked beyond measure at this news. I thought there was not an honester fellow in the world. The temptation of such a sum was too great for him to withstand; for smaller matters have come safe to me through his hand. Indeed' my dear uncle, you must suffer me to call it weakness rather than ingratitude; for I am convinced the poor fel. low loves me, and hath done me some kindnesses which I can never forget; nay, I believe he hath repented of this very act; for it is not above a day or two ago, when my affairs seemed in the most desperate situation, that he visited me in my confinement, and offered me any money I wanted. Consider, sir, what a templation to a man who hati. tasted such bitter distress, it must be, to have a sum in his possession, which must put him and his

family beyond any future possibility of suffering the like,'

• Child,' cries Allworthy, you carry this forgir. ing temper too far. Such mistaken mercy is not only weakness but borders on injustice, and is very pernicious to society, as it encourages vice. The dishonesty of this fellow, I might, perhaps, have pardoned, but never his ingratitude. And gire me leave to say, when we suffer avy temptation to atone for dishonesty itself, we are as candid and merciful as we ought to be: and so far I confess I have gone; for I have often pitied the fate of a highwayman, when I have been on the grand jury; and have more than once applied to the judge on the behalf of such as have had any mitigating cir. cumstances in their case; but when dishonesty is attended with any blacker crime, such as cruelty, murder, ingratitude, or the like, compassion and forgiveness then become faults. I am convinced the fellow is a villain, and he shall be punished; at least as far as I can punish him.'

This was spoke with so stern a voice, that Jones did not think proper to make any reply ; besides, the hour appointed by Mr. Western now drew so near, that he had barely time left to dress himself. Here therefore ended the present dialogue, and Jones retired to another room, where Partridge attended, according to order, with his clothes.

Partridge had scarce seen his master since the happy discovery. The poor fellow was unable either to contain or express his transports. He behaved like one frantic, and made almost as many mistakes while he was dressing Jones, as I have. seen made by Ilarlequin in dressing himself on the stage.

His memory however was not in the least defi. cient. He recollected now many omens and presages this happy event, some of which he had remarked at the time, but many more he now re

membered; nor did he omit the dreams he had dreamt that evening before his meeting with Jones; ayd concluded with saying, 'I always told your honour something boded in my mind, that you would one time or other have it in your power to make my fortune.' Jones assured him, that this boding should as certaiuly be verified with regard to him, as all the other omens had been to himself; which did not a little add to all the raptures which the poor fellow had already conceived on account of his master.


JONES being now completely dressed, attended

his uncle to Mr. Western's. He was, indeed, one of the finest figures ever beheld, and his person alone would have charmed the greater part of wo. mankiud; but we hope it hath already appeared in this history, that nature, when she formed him, did not totally rely, as she sometimes doth, on this merit only, to recommend her work.

Sophia, who, angry as she was, was likewise set forth to the best advantage, for which I leave my female readers to account, appeared so extremely beautiful, that even. Allworthy, when he saw her, could not forbear whispering Western, that he believed she was the finest creature in the world. To which Western auswered, in a whisper overheard by all present, 'So much the better for Tom ; for do-o me if he shau't ha' the tousling her.' Sophia was all over scarlet at these words, while Tom's, countenance was altogether as pale, and he was almost ready to sink from his chair.

The tea-table was scarce removed, before Western lugged Allworthy out of the room, telling him, be had business of consequence to in part, and must speak to him that instaat in privat before he for. got it.

The lovers were now alone; and it will, I ques tion not, appear strange to many readers, that those who had so much to say to one another wben dan. ger and difficulty attended their conversation, and who seemed so eager to rush into each other's arms when so many bars lay in their way, now that with safety they were at liberty to say or do whatever they pleased, should both remaiu for some time silent and motionless; insomuch thai a stranger of moderate sagacity might have well concluded, they were mutually indifferent; but so it was, however strange it may seem; both sat with their eyes cast downwards on the ground, and for some minutes continued in perfect silence.

Mr. Jones, during tliis interval, attempted opee or twice to speak, but 'was absolutely incapable, muttering only, or rather sighing out some broken words; when Sophia at length, partlý out of pity to him, and partly to turn the discourse from the subject which she knew well enough he was endeavour. ing to open, said:

. Sure, sir, you are the most fortunate man in the world in this discovery.'... And can you really, madam, think' me so fortunate,' said Jones, sighing, • while I have incurred your displeasure?'--Nay, sir,' says she, . as to that, you know best whether you have deserved it. Indeed, madam,' answered he, you yourself are as well apprised of all my demerits. Mrs. Miller hath acquainted you with the whole truth. O, my Sophia! am I never to hope for forgiveness ?. I think, Mr. Jones,' said she, “I may almost depend on your own justice, and leave it to yourself to pass sentence on your own conduct.'---'Alas! madam,' answered he, it is mercy and vot justice, which I implore at your hands. Justice I know must condemn me. Yet pot for the letter I sent to Lady Bellaston. Of that I most solemnly declare you have had a true account.' He then insisted much on the security given him by Nightingale, of a fair preteoce for

breaking off, if, contrary to their expectations, her ladyship should have accepted his offer; but con. fessed that he had been guilty of a great indiscretion, to put such a letter as that in her power, • which,' said he, 'I have dearly paid for, in the effect it has upon you.'--' I do not, I cannot,' says she, believe otherwise of that letter than you would have me. My conduct, I think, shows you clearly I do not believe there is much in that. And yet, Mr. Jones, have I not enough to resent? After what passed at Upton, so soon to engage in a new amour with another woman, while I fancied, and you pretended, your heart was bleeding for me? Indeed, you have acted strangely. Can I believe the passion you have professed to me to be sincere? Or, if I can, what happiness can I assure myself of with a man capable of so much inconstancy?...0! my Sophia,' cries he, do not doubt the sincerity of the purest passion that ever inflamed a human breast. Think, most adorable creature, of my unhappy situation, of my despair. Could I, my So. phia, have fattered myself with the most distant hopes of being ever permitted to throw myself at your feet in the manner I do now, it would not have been in the power of any other woman to have inspired a thought which the severest chastity could have condemned. Inconstancy to you! O Sophia! if you can have goodness enough to pardon what is past, do not let any cruel future apprehensions shut your mercy against me. No repentance was ever more sincere, 0! let it reconcile me to my hea. ven in this dear bosom.'---'Sincere repentance, Mr. Jones,' answered she, will obtain the pardon of a sioner; but it is from one who is a perfect judge of that sincerity. A human mind may be imposed on; nor is there any infallible method to prevent it. You must expect however, that if I can be prevailed on by your repentance to pardon you, I will at least insist on the strongest proof of its sincerity.'... • Name any proof in my power,' answered Jones


« PreviousContinue »