« PreviousContinue »
Besides, I am
rooms are not convenient enough. grown weary of this part of the town. I want to be nearer the places of diversion; so I am going to Pall. Mall.' And do you intend to make a secret of your going away?' said Jones. I promise you,' answered Nightingale, I don't intend to bilk my lodgings; have a private reason for not taking a formal leave. Not so private,' answered Jones; I pro. mise you, I have seen it ever since the second day of my coming to the house. Here will be some wet eyes on your departure. Poor Nancy! I pity her, faith! Indeed, Jack, you have played the fool with that girl. You have given her a longing, which I. am afraid nothing will ever cure her of.' Nightin gale answered, 'What the devil would you have me do? Would you have me marry her, to cure her?"
No,' answered Jones; 'I would not have had you make love to her, as you have often done in my presence. I have been astonished at the blindness of her mother, in never seeing it.' Pugh, see it!' cries Nightingale: 'what the devil should she see?"
Why see,' said Jones, that you have made her daughter distractedly in love with you. The poor girl cannot conceal it a moment: her eyes are never off from you, and she always colours every time you come into the room. Indeed, I pity her heartily; for she seems to be one of the best-natured and honestest of human creatures.' And so,' answered Nightingale, according to your doctrine, one must not amuse one's self by any common gallantries with women, for fear they should fall in love with us.'. Indeed, Jack,' said Jones, you wilfully misunderstand me: I do not fancy women are so apt to fall in love; but you have gone far beyond common gal. lantries. What, do you suppose,' says Nightingale, that we have been a-bed together? No, upon my honour,' answered Jones, very seriously, I do not suppose so ill of you; nay, I will go farther, I do not imagine you have laid a regular premeditated scheme for the destruction of the quiet of a poor lit
tle creature, or have even foreseen the consequence: for I am sure thou art a very good-natured fellow; and such a one can never be guilty of a cruelty of that kind; but, at the same time, you have pleased your own vanity, without considering that this poor girl was made a sacrifice to it; and while you have had no design but of amusing an idle hour, you have actually given her reason to flatter herself, that you had the most serious designs in her favour. Prithee, Jack, answer me honestly to what have tended all those elegant and luscious descriptions of happiness arising from violent and mutual fondness? all those warm professions of tenderness, and generous disinterested love? Did you imagine she would not ap. ply them? Or, speak ingenuously, did not you in. tend she should? Upon my sout, Tom,' cries Nightingale, 'I did not think this was in thee. Thou wilt make an admirable parson. So, I suppose, you would not go to bed to Nancy now, if she would let you? No,' cries Jones; may 1 be d--ned if I would. Tom, Tom,' answered Nightingale, last night; remember last night!"
When ev'ry eye was clos'd, and the pale moon And silent stars shone conscious of the theft."
'Lookee, Mr. Nightingale,' said Jones, I am no canting hypocrite, nor do I pretend to the gift of chastity more than my neighbours. I have been guilty with women, I own it; but am not conscious. that I have ever injured any. Nor would I, to procure pleasure to myself, be knowingly the cause of misery to any human being.'
Well, well,' said Nightingale, I believe you; and I am convinced you acquit me of any such thing.'
I do, from my heart,' answered Jones, of having debauched the girl, but not from having gained her affections.'
If I have,' said Nightingale, I am sorry for it;
but time and absence will soon wear off such impres sions. It is a receipt I must take myself; for, to confess the truth to you, I never liked any girl half so much in my whole life; but I must let you into the whole secret, Tom. My father hath provided match for me, with a woman 1 never saw; and she is now coming to town, in order for me to make my addresses to her.'
At these words, Jones burst into a loud fit of laughter; when Nightingale cried, Nay, prithee, don't turn me into ridicule. The devil take me if I am not half mad about this matter! My poor Nan. cy! Oh! Jones, Jones, I wish I had a fortune in my own possession !'.
I heartily wish you had,' cries Jones; for if this be the case, I sincerely pity you both; but surely you don't intend to go away without taking your leave of her?"
'I would not,' answered Nightingale, 'undergo the pain of taking leave, for ten thousand pounds; besides, I am convinced, instead of any good purpose, it would only serve to inflame my poor Nancy the I beg, therefore, you would not mention a word of it to-day, and, in the evening, or to-morrow morning, I intend to depart.')
Jones promised he would not; and said, upon reflection, he thought, as he had determined and was obliged to leave her, he took the most prudent method. He then told Nightingale, he should be very glad to lodge in the same house with him; and it was accordingly agreed between them, that Night ingale should procure him either the ground-floor, or the two pair of stairs; for the young gentleman himself was to occupy that which was between them.
This Nightingale, of whom we shall be presently. obliged to say a little more, was, in the ordinary transactions of life, a man of strict honour, and, what is more rare among young gentlemen of the town, one of strict honesty too; yet, in affairs of love, he was somewhat loose in his morals; not that
he was even here as void of principle as gentlemen sometimes are, and oftener affect to be; but it is certain he had been guilty of some indefensible treachery to women, and had, in a certain mystery, called Making Love, practised many deceits, which, if he had used in trade, he would have been counted the greatest villain upon earth.
But as the world, I know not well for what rea son, agree to see this treachery in a better light, he was so far from being ashamed of his iniquities of this kind, that he gloried in them, and would often boast of his skill in gaining of women, and his tri umphs over their hearts; for which he had before this time received some rebukes from Jones, who al ways expressed great bitterness against any misbeha viour to the fair part of the species, who, if consider. ed, he said, as they ought to be, in the light of the dearest friends, were to be cultivated, honoured, and caressed with the utmost love and tenderness; but, if regarded as enemies, were a conquest of which a man ought rather to be ashamed than to value himself upon it.
JONES this day eat a pretty good dinner for a sick man, that is to say, the larger half of a shoulder of mutton. In the afternoon, he received an invitation from Mrs. Miller to drink tea; for that good woman having learnt, either by means of Partridge, or by some other means natural or supernatural, that he had a connexion with Mr. Allworthy, could not endure the thoughts of parting with him in an angry manner.
Jones accepted the invitation; and no sooner was the tea-kettle removed, and the girls sent out of the room, than the widow, without much preface, began as follows: Well, there are very surprising things happen in this world; but certainly it is a wonderful
business, that I should have a relation of Mr. Allworthy in my house, and never know any thing of the matter. Alas! sir, you little imagine what a friend that best of gentlemen hath been to me and mine. Yes, sir, I am not ashamed to own it: it is owing to his goodness, that I did not long since perish for want, and leave my poor little wretches, two destitute, helpless, friendless orphans, to the care, or rather to the cruelty, of the world.
You must know, sir, though I am now reduced to get my living by letting lodgings, I was born and bred a gentlewoman. My father was an officer in the army, and died in a considerable rank: but he lived up to his pay; and as that expired with him, his family at his death became beggars. We were three sisters. One of us had the good luck to die soon after of the small-pox: a lady was so kind as to take the second out of charity, as she said, to wait upon her. The mother of this lady had been a servant to my grandmother; and having inherited a vast fortune from her father, which he had got by pawnbroking, was married to a gentleman of great estate and fashion. She used my sister so barbarously, often upbraiding her with her birth and poverty, calling her in derision, a gentlewoman, that I believe she at length broke the heart of the poor girl. In short, she likewise died within a twelvemonth after my father. Fortune thought proper to provide better for me; and within a month from his decease I was married to a clergyman, who had been my lover a long time before, and who had been very ill used by my father on that account: for though my poor father could not give any of us a shilling, yet he bred us up as delicately, considered us, and would have had us consider ourselves as highly, as if we had been the richest heiresses, But my dear husband forgot all this usage; and the moment we became fatherless, he immediately renewed his addresses to me so warmly, that I, who always liked, and now more than ever esteemed