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please. Now you well know how trivial these breaches of contract are thought; even the grossest make but the wonder and conversation of a day. Is there a man, who afterwards will be more backward in giving you his sister or daughter? Or is there any sister or daughter who would be more backward to receive you? Honour is not concerned in these engagements. Pardon me, dear sir,' cries Nightingale, "I can never think so; and not only honour, but conscience and humanity are concerned. I am well satisfied, that, was I now to disappoint the young creature, her death would be the consequence, and I should look upon myself as her murderer; nay, as her murderer by the cruellest of all methods, by breaking her heart,' Break her heart, indeed: no, no, Jack,' cries the uncle, the hearts of women are not so soon broke: they are tough, boy; they are tough.' But, sir,' answered Nightingale, my own affections are engaged; and I never could be happy with any other woman. How often have I heard you say, that children should be always suffered to choose for themselves, and that you would let my cousin Harriet do so!'
Why, ay,' replied the old gentleman, so I would have them ; but then I would have them choose wisely. Indeed, Jack, you must and shall leave this girl. Indeed, uncle,' cries the other, 'I must and will have her.'- You will, young gentleman?" said the uncle; 'I did not expect such a word from you. I should not wonder if you had used such language to your father, who hath always treated you' like a dog, and kept you at a distance which a tyrant preserves over his subjects; but I, who have lived with you upon an equal footing, might surely expect better usage: but I know how to account for it all! It is all owing to your preposterous education, in which I have had too little share. There is my daughter, now, whom I have brought up as my friend, never doth any thing without my advice, nor ever refuses to take it when I give it her.'' You VOL. II. 0
have never yet given her advice in an affair of this kind,' said Nightingale; for I am greatly mistaken in my cousin, if she would be very ready to obey even your most positive commands in abandoning her inclinations.' 'Don't abuse my girl,' answered the old gentleman, with some emotion; don't abuse my Harriet. I have brought her up to have no inclinations contrary to my own. By suffering her to do whatever she pleases, I have inured her to a habit of being pleased to do whatever I like. Pardon me, sir, said Nightingale; 'I have not the least design to reflect on my cousin, for whom I have the greatest esteem; and indeed I am convinced you will never put her to so severe a trial, or lay such hard commands on her as you would do on me. But, dear sir, let us return to the company; for they will begin to be uneasy at our long absence. I must beg one favour of my dear uncle, which is, that he would not say any thing to shock the poor girl or her mother.'---'Oh! you need not fear me,' answered he; I understand myself too well to affront women; so I will readily grant you that favour; and in return I must expect another of you. There are but few of your commands, sir,' said Nightingale, which I shall not very cheerfully obey. Nay, sir, I ask nothing,' said the uncle, but the honour of your company home to my lodging, that I may reason the case a little more fully with you; for I would, if possible, have the satisfaction of preserving my family, notwithstanding the headstrong folly of my brother, who, in his own opinion is the wisest man in the world!'
Nightingale, who well knew his uncle to be as headstrong as his father, submitted to attend him home; and then they both returned back into the room, where the old gentleman promised to carry himself with the same decorum which he had before maintained.
THE long absence of the uncle and nephew had occasioned some disquiet in the minds of all whom they had left behind them; and the more as, during the preceding dialogue, the uncle had more than once elevated his voice, so as to be heard down stairs; which, though they could not distinguish what he said, had caused some evil, foreboding in Nancy and her mother, and indeed even in Jones himself.
When the good company, therefore, again assembled, there was a visible alteration in all their faces; and the good humour which, at their last meeting, universally shone forth in every countenance, was now changed into a much less agreeable aspect. It was a change, indeed, common enough to the wea ther in this climate, from sunshine to clouds, from June to December.
This alteration was not, however, greatly remarked by any present; for as they were all now endeavouring to conceal their own thoughts, and to act a part, they became all too busily engaged in the scene to be spectators of it. Thus neither the uncle nor nephew saw any symptoms of suspicion in the mother or daughter; nor did the mother or daughter remark the overacted complaisance of the old man, uor the counterfeit satisfaction which grinned in the features of the young one.
Something like this, I believe, frequently happens, where the whole attention of two friends being engaged in the part which each is to act, in order to impose on the other, neither sees nor suspects the art practised against himself: and thus the thrust of both (to borrow no improper metaphor on the occasion) alike takes place.
From the same reason, it is no unusual thing for
both parties to be over-reached in a bargain, though the one must be always the greater loser; as was he who sold a blind horse, and received a bad note in payment.
Our company in about half an hour broke up, and the uncle carried off his nephew; but not before the latter had assured Miss Nancy, in a whisper, that he would attend her early in the morning, and fulfil all his engagements.
Jones, who was the least concerned in this scene, saw the most. He did indeed suspect the very fact; for, besidés observing the great alteration in the behaviour of the uncle, the distance he assumed, and his overstrained civility to Miss Nancy, the carrying off a bridegroom from his bride at that time of night, was so extraordinary a proceeding, that it could be accounted for, only by imagining that young Nightingale had revealed the whole truth, which the apparent openness of his temper, and his being flustered with liquor, made too probable.
While he was reasoning with himself, whether he should acquaint these poor people with his suspicion, the maid of the house informed him, that a gentlewoman desired to speak with him. He went im. mediately out, and, taking the candle from the maid, ushered his visitant up stairs, who, in the person of Mrs. Honour, acquainted, him with such dreadful news concerning his Sophia, that he immediately lost all consideration for every other person; and his whole stock of compassion was entirely swallowed up in reflections on his own misery, and on that of his unfortunate angel.
What this dreadful matter was, the reader will be informed, after we have first related the many preceding steps which produced it, and those will be the subject of the following book.
THERE are a set of religious, or rather moral, writers, who teach that virtue is the certain road to happiness, and vice to misery, in this world. A very wholesome and comfortable doctrine, and to which we have but one objection, namely, that it is not true.
Indeed, if by virtue these writers mean the exer cise of those cardinal virtues, which, like good housewives, stay at home, and mind only the business of their own family, I shall very readily concede the point; for so surely do all these contribute and lead to happiness, that I could almost wish, in violation of all the ancient and modern sages, to call them rather by the name of wisdom, than by that of virtue; for, with regard to this life, no system, I con ceive, was ever wiser than that of the ancient Epi.