Part 10 out of 12
"You may laugh, gentlemen, if you please," said Mrs. Atkinson; "but I
thank Heaven I have married a man who is not jealous of my
understanding. I should have been the most miserable woman upon earth
with a starched pedant who was possessed of that nonsensical opinion
that the difference of sexes causes any difference in the mind. Why
don't you honestly avow the Turkish notion that women have no souls?
for you say the same thing in effect."
"Indeed, my dear," cries the serjeant, greatly concerned to see his
wife so angry, "you have mistaken the doctor."
"I beg, my dear," cried she, "_you_ will say nothing upon these
subjects--I hope _you_ at least do not despise my understanding."
"I assure you, I do not," said the serjeant; "and I hope you will
never despise mine; for a man may have some understanding, I hope,
Mrs. Atkinson reddened extremely at these words; and the doctor,
fearing he had gone too far, began to soften matters, in which Amelia
assisted him. By these means, the storm rising in Mrs. Atkinson before
was in some measure laid, at least suspended from bursting at present;
but it fell afterwards upon the poor serjeant's head in a torrent, who
had learned perhaps one maxim from his trade, that a cannon-ball
always doth mischief in proportion to the resistance it meets with,
and that nothing so effectually deadens its force as a woolpack. The
serjeant therefore bore all with patience; and the idea of a woolpack,
perhaps, bringing that of a feather-bed into his head, he at last not
only quieted his wife, but she cried out with great sincerity, "Well,
my dear, I will say one thing for you, that I believe from my soul,
though you have no learning, you have the best understanding of any
man upon earth; and I must own I think the latter far the more
profitable of the two."
Far different was the idea she entertained of the doctor, whom, from
this day, she considered as a conceited pedant; nor could all Amelia's
endeavours ever alter her sentiments.
The doctor now took his leave of Booth and his wife for a week, he
intending to set out within an hour or two with his old friend, with
whom our readers were a little acquainted at the latter end of the
ninth book, and of whom, perhaps, they did not then conceive the most
Nay, I am aware that the esteem which some readers before had for the
doctor may be here lessened; since he may appear to have been too easy
a dupe to the gross flattery of the old gentleman. If there be any
such critics, we are heartily sorry, as well for them as for the
doctor; but it is our business to discharge the part of a faithful
historian, and to describe human nature as it is, not as we would wish
it to be.
_In which Colonel Bath appears in great glory_.
That afternoon, as Booth was walking in the Park, he met with Colonel
Bath, who presently asked him for the letter which he had given him
the night before; upon which Booth immediately returned it.
"Don't you think," cries Bath, "it is writ with great dignity of
expression and emphasis of--of--of judgment?"
"I am surprized, though," cries Booth, "that any one should write such
a letter to you, colonel."
"To me!" said Bath. "What do you mean, sir? I hope you don't imagine
any man durst write such a letter to me? d--n me, if I knew a man who
thought me capable of debauching my friend's wife, I would--d--n me."
"I believe, indeed, sir," cries Booth, "that no man living dares put
his name to such a letter; but you see it is anonymous."
"I don't know what you mean by ominous," cries the colonel; "but,
blast my reputation, if I had received such a letter, if I would not
have searched the world to have found the writer. D--n me, I would
have gone to the East Indies to have pulled off his nose."
"He would, indeed, have deserved it," cries Booth. "But pray, sir, how
came you by it?"
"I took it," said the colonel, "from a sett of idle young rascals, one
of whom was reading it out aloud upon a stool, while the rest were
attempting to make a jest, not only of the letter, but of all decency,
virtue, and religion. A sett of fellows that you must have seen or
heard of about the town, that are, d--n me, a disgrace to the dignity
of manhood; puppies that mistake noise and impudence, rudeness and
profaneness, for wit. If the drummers of my company had not more
understanding than twenty such fellows, I'd have them both whipt out
of the regiment."
"So, then, you do not know the person to whom it was writ?" said
"Lieutenant," cries the colonel, "your question deserves no answer. I
ought to take time to consider whether I ought not to resent the
supposition. Do you think, sir, I am acquainted with a rascal?"
"I do not suppose, colonel," cries Booth, "that you would willingly
cultivate an intimacy with such a person; but a man must have good
luck who hath any acquaintance if there are not some rascals among
"I am not offended with you, child," says the colonel. "I know you did
not intend to offend me."
"No man, I believe, dares intend it," said Booth.
"I believe so too," said the colonel; "d--n me, I know it. But you
know, child, how tender I am on this subject. If I had been ever
married myself, I should have cleft the man's skull who had dared look
wantonly at my wife."
"It is certainly the most cruel of all injuries," said Booth. "How
finely doth Shakespeare express it in his Othello!
'But there, where I had treasured up my soul.'"
"That Shakespeare," cries the colonel, "was a fine fellow. He was a
very pretty poet indeed. Was it not Shakespeare that wrote the play
about Hotspur? You must remember these lines. I got them almost by
heart at the playhouse; for I never missed that play whenever it was
acted, if I was in town:--
By Heav'n it was an easy leap,
To pluck bright honour into the full moon,
Or drive into the bottomless deep.
And--and--faith, I have almost forgot them; but I know it is something
about saving your honour from drowning--O! it is very fine! I say, d--
n me, the man that writ those lines was the greatest poet the world
ever produced. There is dignity of expression and emphasis of
thinking, d--n me."
Booth assented to the colonel's criticism, and then cried, "I wish,
colonel, you would be so kind to give me that letter." The colonel
answered, if he had any particular use for it he would give it him
with all his heart, and presently delivered it; and soon afterwards
Several passages now struck all at once upon Booth's mind, which gave
him great uneasiness. He became confident now that he had mistaken one
colonel for another; and, though he could not account for the letter's
getting into those hands from whom Bath had taken it (indeed James had
dropt it out of his pocket), yet a thousand circumstances left him no
room to doubt the identity of the person, who was a man much more
liable to raise the suspicion of a husband than honest Bath, who would
at any time have rather fought with a man than lain with a woman.
The whole behaviour of Amelia now rushed upon his memory. Her
resolution not to take up her residence at the colonel's house, her
backwardness even to dine there, her unwillingness to go to the
masquerade, many of her unguarded expressions, and some where she had
been more guarded, all joined together to raise such an idea in Mr.
Booth, that he had almost taken a resolution to go and cut the colonel
to pieces in his own house. Cooler thoughts, however, suggested
themselves to him in time. He recollected the promise he had so
solemnly made to the doctor. He considered, moreover, that he was yet
in the dark as to the extent of the colonel's guilt. Having nothing,
therefore, to fear from it, he contented himself to postpone a
resentment which he nevertheless resolved to take of the colonel
hereafter, if he found he was in any degree a delinquent.
The first step he determined to take was, on the first opportunity, to
relate to Colonel James the means by which he became possessed of the
letter, and to read it to him; on which occasion, he thought he should
easily discern by the behaviour of the colonel whether he had been
suspected either by Amelia or the doctor without a cause; but as for
his wife, he fully resolved not to reveal the secret to her till the
While Booth was deeply engaged by himself in these meditations,
Captain Trent came up to him, and familiarly slapped him on the
They were soon joined by a third gentleman, and presently afterwards
by a fourth, both acquaintances of Mr. Trent; and all having walked
twice the length of the Mall together, it being now past nine in the
evening, Trent proposed going to the tavern, to which the strangers
immediately consented; and Booth himself, after some resistance, was
at length persuaded to comply.
To the King's Arms then they went, where the bottle went very briskly
round till after eleven; at which time Trent proposed a game at cards,
to which proposal likewise Booth's consent was obtained, though not
without much difficulty; for, though he had naturally some inclination
to gaming, and had formerly a little indulged it, yet he had entirely
left it off for many years.
Booth and his friend were partners, and had at first some success; but
Fortune, according to her usual conduct, soon shifted about, and
persecuted Booth with such malice, that in about two hours he was
stripped of all the gold in his pocket, which amounted to twelve
guineas, being more than half the cash which he was at that time
How easy it is for a man who is at all tainted with the itch of gaming
to leave off play in such a situation, especially when he is likewise
heated with liquor, I leave to the gamester to determine. Certain it
is that Booth had no inclination to desist; but, on the contrary, was
so eagerly bent on playing on, that he called his friend out of the
room, and asked him for ten pieces, which he promised punctually to
pay the next morning.
Trent chid him for using so much formality on the occasion. "You
know," said he, "dear Booth, you may have what money you please of me.
Here is a twenty-pound note at your service; and, if you want five
times the sum, it is at your service. We will never let these fellows
go away with our money in this manner; for we have so much the
advantage, that if the knowing ones were here they would lay odds of
But if this was really Mr. rent's opinion, he was very much mistaken;
for the other two honourable gentlemen were not only greater masters
of the game, and somewhat soberer than poor Booth, having, with all
the art in their power, evaded the bottle, but they had, moreover,
another small advantage over their adversaries, both of them, by means
of some certain private signs, previously agreed upon between them,
being always acquainted with the principal cards in each other's
hands. It cannot be wondered, therefore, that Fortune was on their
side; for, however she may be reported to favour fools, she never, I
believe, shews them any countenance when they engage in play with
The more Booth lost, the deeper he made his bets; the consequence of
which was, that about two in the morning, besides the loss of his own
money, he was fifty pounds indebted to Trent: a sum, indeed, which he
would not have borrowed, had not the other, like a very generous
friend, pushed it upon him.
Trent's pockets became at last dry by means of these loans. His own
loss, indeed, was trifling; for the stakes of the games were no higher
than crowns, and betting (as it is called) was that to which Booth
owed his ruin. The gentlemen, therefore, pretty well knowing Booth's
circumstances, and being kindly unwilling to win more of a man than he
was worth, declined playing any longer, nor did Booth once ask them to
persist, for he was ashamed of the debt which he had already
contracted to Trent, and very far from desiring to encrease it.
The company then separated. The two victors and Trent went off in
their chairs to their several houses near Grosvenor-square, and poor
Booth, in a melancholy mood, walked home to his lodgings. He was,
indeed, in such a fit of despair, that it more than once came into his
head to put an end to his miserable being.
But before we introduce him to Amelia we must do her the justice to
relate the manner in which she spent this unhappy evening. It was
about seven when Booth left her to walk in the park; from this time
till past eight she was employed with her children, in playing with
them, in giving them their supper, and in putting them to bed.
When these offices were performed she employed herself another hour in
cooking up a little supper for her husband, this being, as we have
already observed, his favourite meal, as indeed it was her's; and, in
a most pleasant and delightful manner, they generally passed their
time at this season, though their fare was very seldom of the
It now grew dark, and her hashed mutton was ready for the table, but
no Booth appeared. Having waited therefore for him a full hour, she
gave him over for that evening; nor was she much alarmed at his
absence, as she knew he was in a night or two to be at the tavern with
some brother-officers; she concluded therefore that they had met in
the park, and had agreed to spend this evening together.
At ten then she sat down to supper by herself, for Mrs. Atkinson was
then abroad. And here we cannot help relating a little incident,
however trivial it may appear to some. Having sat some time alone,
reflecting on their distressed situation, her spirits grew very low;
and she was once or twice going to ring the bell to send her maid for
half-a-pint of white wine, but checked her inclination in order to
save the little sum of sixpence, which she did the more resolutely as
she had before refused to gratify her children with tarts for their
supper from the same motive. And this self-denial she was very
probably practising to save sixpence, while her husband was paying a
debt of several guineas incurred by the ace of trumps being in the
hands of his adversary.
Instead therefore of this cordial she took up one of the excellent
Farquhar's comedies, and read it half through; when, the clock
striking twelve, she retired to bed, leaving the maid to sit up for
her master. She would, indeed, have much more willingly sat up
herself, but the delicacy of her own mind assured her that Booth would
not thank her for the compliment. This is, indeed, a method which some
wives take of upbraiding their husbands for staying abroad till too
late an hour, and of engaging them, through tenderness and good
nature, never to enjoy the company of their friends too long when they
must do this at the expence of their wives' rest.
To bed then she went, but not to sleep. Thrice indeed she told the
dismal clock, and as often heard the more dismal watchman, till her
miserable husband found his way home, and stole silently like a thief
to bed to her; at which time, pretending then first to awake, she
threw her snowy arms around him; though, perhaps, the more witty
property of snow, according to Addison, that is to say its coldness,
rather belonged to the poor captain.
_Read, gamester, and observe_.
Booth could not so well disguise the agitations of his mind from
Amelia, but that she perceived sufficient symptoms to assure her that
some misfortune had befallen him. This made her in her turn so uneasy
that Booth took notice of it, and after breakfast said, "Sure, my dear
Emily, something hath fallen out to vex you."
Amelia, looking tenderly at him, answered, "Indeed, my dear, you are
in the right; I am indeed extremely vexed." "For Heaven's sake," said
he, "what is it?" "Nay, my love," cried she, "that you must answer
yourself. Whatever it is which hath given you all that disturbance
that you in vain endeavour to conceal from me, this it is which causes
all my affliction."
"You guess truly, my sweet," replied Booth; "I am indeed afflicted,
and I will not, nay I cannot, conceal the truth from you. I have
undone myself, Amelia."
"What have you done, child?" said she, in some consternation; "pray,
"I have lost my money at play," answered he.
"Pugh!" said she, recovering herself--"what signifies the trifle you
had in your pocket? Resolve never to play again, and let it give you
no further vexation; I warrant you, we will contrive some method to
repair such a loss."
"Thou heavenly angel! thou comfort of my soul!" cried Booth, tenderly
embracing her; then starting a little from her arms, and looking with
eager fondness in her eyes, he said, "Let me survey thee; art thou
really human, or art thou not rather an angel in a human form? O, no,"
cried he, flying again into her arms, "thou art my dearest woman, my
best, my beloved wife!"
Amelia, having returned all his caresses with equal kindness, told him
she had near eleven guineas in her purse, and asked how much she
should fetch him. "I would not advise you, Billy, to carry too much in
your pocket, for fear it should be a temptation to you to return to
gaming, in order to retrieve your past losses. Let me beg you, on all
accounts, never to think more, if possible, on the trifle you have
lost, anymore than if you had never possessed it."
Booth promised her faithfully he never would, and refused to take any
of the money. He then hesitated a moment, and cried--"You say, my
dear, you have eleven guineas; you have a diamond ring, likewise,
which was your grandmother's--I believe that is worth twenty pounds;
and your own and the child's watch are worth as much more."
"I believe they would sell for as much," cried Amelia; "for a
pawnbroker of Mrs. Atkinson's acquaintance offered to lend me thirty-
five pounds upon them when you was in your last distress. But why are
you computing their value now?"
"I was only considering," answered he, "how much we could raise in any
case of exigency."
"I have computed it myself," said she; "and I believe all we have in
the world, besides our bare necessary apparel, would produce about
sixty pounds: and suppose, my dear," said she, "while we have that
little sum, we should think of employing it some way or other, to
procure some small subsistence for ourselves and our family. As for
your dependence on the colonel's friendship, it is all vain, I am
afraid, and fallacious. Nor do I see any hopes you have from any other
quarter, of providing for yourself again in the army. And though the
sum which is now in our power is very small, yet we may possibly
contrive with it to put ourselves into some mean way of livelihood. I
have a heart, my Billy, which is capable of undergoing anything for
your sake; and I hope my hands are as able to work as those which have
been more inured to it. But think, my dear, think what must be our
wretched condition, when the very little we now have is all mouldered
away, as it will soon be in this town."
When poor Booth heard this, and reflected that the time which Amelia
foresaw was already arrived (for that he had already lost every
farthing they were worth), it touched him to the quick; he turned
pale, gnashed his teeth, and cried out, "Damnation! this is too much
Amelia was thrown into the utmost consternation by this behaviour;
and, with great terror in her countenance, cried out, "Good Heavens!
my dear love, what is the reason of this agony?"
"Ask me no questions," cried he, "unless you would drive me to
"My Billy! my love!" said she, "what can be the meaning of this?--I
beg you will deal openly with me, and tell me all your griefs."
"Have you dealt fairly with me, Amelia?" said he.
"Yes, surely," said she; "Heaven is my witness how fairly."
"Nay, do not call Heaven," cried he, "to witness a falsehood. You have
not dealt openly with me, Amelia. You have concealed secrets from me;
secrets which I ought to have known, and which, if I had known, it had
been better for us both."
"You astonish me as much as you shock me," cried she. "What falsehood,
what treachery have I been guilty of?"
"You tell me," said he, "that I can have no reliance on James; why did
not you tell me so before?"
"I call Heaven again," said she, "to witness; nay, I appeal to
yourself for the truth of it; I have often told you so. I have told
you I disliked the man, notwithstanding the many favours he had done
you. I desired you not to have too absolute a reliance upon him. I own
I had once an extreme good opinion of him, but I changed it, and I
acquainted you that I had so--"
"But not," cries he, "with the reasons why you had changed it."
"I was really afraid, my dear," said she, "of going too far. I knew
the obligations you had to him; and if I suspected that he acted
rather from vanity than true friendship--"
"Vanity!" cries he; "take care, Amelia: you know his motive to be much
worse than vanity--a motive which, if he had piled obligations on me
till they had reached the skies, would tumble all down to hell. It is
vain to conceal it longer--I know all--your confidant hath told me
"Nay, then," cries she, "on my knees I entreat you to be pacified, and
hear me out. It was, my dear, for you, my dread of your jealous
honour, and the fatal consequences."
"Is not Amelia, then," cried he, "equally jealous of my honour? Would
she, from a weak tenderness for my person, go privately about to
betray, to undermine the most invaluable treasure of my soul? Would
she have me pointed at as the credulous dupe, the easy fool, the tame,
the kind cuckold, of a rascal with whom I conversed as a friend?"
"Indeed you injure me," said Amelia. "Heaven forbid I should have the
trial! but I think I could sacrifice all I hold most dear to preserve
your honour. I think I have shewn I can. But I will--when you are
cool, I will--satisfy you I have done nothing you ought to blame."
"I am cool then," cries he; "I will with the greatest coolness hear
you.--But do not think, Amelia, I have the least jealousy, the least
suspicion, the least doubt of your honour. It is your want of
confidence in me alone which I blame."
"When you are calm," cried she, "I will speak, and not before."
He assured her he was calm; and then she said, "You have justified my
conduct by your present passion, in concealing from you my suspicions;
for they were no more, nay, it is possible they were unjust; for since
the doctor, in betraying the secret to you, hath so far falsified my
opinion of him, why may I not be as well deceived in my opinion of the
colonel, since it was only formed on some particulars in his behaviour
which I disliked? for, upon my honour, he never spoke a word to me,
nor hath been ever guilty of any direct action, which I could blame."
She then went on, and related most of the circumstances which she had
mentioned to the doctor, omitting one or two of the strongest, and
giving such a turn to the rest, that, if Booth had not had some of
Othello's blood in him, his wife would have almost appeared a prude in
his eyes. Even he, however, was pretty well pacified by this
narrative, and said he was glad to find a possibility of the colonel's
innocence; but that he greatly commended the prudence of his wife, and
only wished she would for the future make him her only confidant.
Amelia, upon that, expressed some bitterness against the doctor for
breaking his trust; when Booth, in his excuse, related all the
circumstances of the letter, and plainly convinced her that the secret
had dropt by mere accident from the mouth of the doctor.
Thus the husband and wife became again reconciled, and poor Amelia
generously forgave a passion of which the sagacious reader is better
acquainted with the real cause than was that unhappy lady.
_In which Booth receives a visit from Captain Trent_.
When Booth grew perfectly cool, and began to reflect that he had
broken his word to the doctor, in having made the discovery to his
wife which we have seen in the last chapter, that thought gave him
great uneasiness; and now, to comfort him, Captain Trent came to make
him a visit.
This was, indeed, almost the last man in the world whose company he
wished for; for he was the only man he was ashamed to see, for a
reason well known to gamesters; among whom, the most dishonourable of
all things is not to pay a debt, contracted at the gaming-table, the
next day, or the next time at least that you see the party.
Booth made no doubt but that Trent was come on purpose to receive this
debt; the latter had been therefore scarce a minute in the room before
Booth began, in an aukward manner, to apologise; but Trent immediately
stopt his mouth, and said, "I do not want the money, Mr. Booth, and
you may pay it me whenever you are able; and, if you are never able, I
assure you I will never ask you for it."
This generosity raised such a tempest of gratitude in Booth (if I may
be allowed the expression), that the tears burst from his eyes, and it
was some time before he could find any utterance for those sentiments
with which his mind overflowed; but, when he began to express his
thankfulness, Trent immediately stopt him, and gave a sudden turn to
Mrs. Trent had been to visit Mrs. Booth on the masquerade evening,
which visit Mrs. Booth had not yet returned. Indeed, this was only the
second day since she had received it. Trent therefore now told his
friend that he should take it extremely kind if he and his lady would
waive all ceremony, and sup at their house the next evening. Booth
hesitated a moment, but presently said, "I am pretty certain my wife
is not engaged, and I will undertake for her. I am sure she will not
refuse anything Mr. Trent can ask." And soon after Trent took Booth
with him to walk in the Park.
There were few greater lovers of a bottle than Trent; he soon proposed
therefore to adjourn to the King's Arms tavern, where Booth, though
much against his inclination, accompanied him. But Trent was very
importunate, and Booth did not think himself at liberty to refuse such
a request to a man from whom he had so lately received such
When they came to the tavern, however, Booth recollected the omission
he had been guilty of the night before. He wrote a short note
therefore to his wife, acquainting her that he should not come home to
supper; but comforted her with a faithful promise that he would on no
account engage himself in gaming.
The first bottle passed in ordinary conversation; but, when they had
tapped the second, Booth, on some hints which Trent gave him, very
fairly laid open to him his whole circumstances, and declared he
almost despaired of mending them. "My chief relief," said he, "was in
the interest of Colonel James; but I have given up those hopes."
"And very wisely too," said Trent "I say nothing of the colonel's good
will. Very likely he may be your sincere friend; but I do not believe
he hath the interest he pretends to. He hath had too many favours in
his own family to ask any more yet a while. But I am mistaken if you
have not a much more powerful friend than the colonel; one who is both
able and willing to serve you. I dined at his table within these two
days, and I never heard kinder nor warmer expressions from the mouth
of man than he made use of towards you. I make no doubt you know whom
"Upon my honour I do not," answered Booth; "nor did I guess that I had
such a friend in the world as you mention."
"I am glad then," cries Trent, "that I have the pleasure of informing
you of it." He then named the noble peer who hath been already so
often mentioned in this history.
Booth turned pale and started at his name. "I forgive you, my dear
Trent," cries Booth, "for mentioning his name to me, as you are a
stranger to what hath passed between us."
"Nay, I know nothing that hath passed between you," answered Trent. "I
am sure, if there is any quarrel between you of two days' standing,
all is forgiven on his part."
"D--n his forgiveness!" said Booth. "Perhaps I ought to blush at what
I have forgiven."
"You surprize me!" cries Trent. "Pray what can be the matter?"
"Indeed, my dear Trent," cries Booth, very gravely, "he would have
injured me in the tenderest part. I know not how to tell it you; but
he would have dishonoured me with my wife."
"Sure, you are not in earnest!" answered Trent; "but, if you are, you
will pardon me for thinking that impossible."
"Indeed," cries Booth, "I have so good an opinion of my wife as to
believe it impossible for him to succeed; but that he should intend me
the favour you will not, I believe, think an impossibility."
"Faith! not in the least," said Trent. "Mrs. Booth is a very fine
woman; and, if I had the honour to be her husband, I should not be
angry with any man for liking her."
"But you would be angry," said Booth, "with a man, who should make use
of stratagems and contrivances to seduce her virtue; especially if he
did this under the colour of entertaining the highest friendship for
"Not at all," cries Trent. "It is human nature."
"Perhaps it is," cries Booth; "but it is human nature depraved, stript
of all its worth, and loveliness, and dignity, and degraded down to a
level with the vilest brutes."
"Look ye, Booth," cries Trent, "I would not be misunderstood. I think,
when I am talking to you, I talk to a man of sense and to an
inhabitant of this country, not to one who dwells in a land of saints.
If you have really such an opinion as you express of this noble lord,
you have the finest opportunity of making a complete fool and bubble
of him that any man can desire, and of making your own fortune at the
same time. I do not say that your suspicions are groundless; for, of
all men upon earth I know, my lord is the greatest bubble to women,
though I believe he hath had very few. And this I am confident of,
that he hath not the least jealousy of these suspicions. Now,
therefore, if you will act the part of a wise man, I will undertake
that you shall make your fortune without the least injury to the
chastity of Mrs. Booth."
"I do not understand you, sir," said Booth.
"Nay," cries Trent, "if you will not understand me, I have done. I
meant only your service; and I thought I had known you better."
Booth begged him to explain himself. "If you can," said he, "shew me
any way to improve such circumstances as I have opened to you, you may
depend on it I shall readily embrace it, and own my obligations to
"That is spoken like a man," cries Trent. "Why, what is it more than
this? Carry your suspicions in your own bosom. Let Mrs. Booth, in
whose virtue I am sure you may be justly confident, go to the public
places; there let her treat my lord with common civility only; I am
sure he will bite. And thus, without suffering him to gain his
purpose, you will gain yours. I know several who have succeeded with
him in this manner."
"I am very sorry, sir," cries Booth, "that you are acquainted with any
such rascals. I do assure you, rather than I would act such a part, I
would submit to the hardest sentence that fortune could pronounce
"Do as you please, sir," said Trent; "I have only ventured to advise
you as a friend. But do you not think your nicety is a little over-
"You will excuse me, sir," said Booth; "but I think no man can be too
scrupulous in points which concern his honour."
"I know many men of very nice honour," answered Trent, "who have gone
much farther; and no man, I am sure, had ever a better excuse for it
than yourself. You will forgive me, Booth, since what I speak proceeds
from my love to you; nay, indeed, by mentioning your affairs to me,
which I am heartily sorry for, you have given me a right to speak. You
know best what friends you have to depend upon; but, if you have no
other pretensions than your merit, I can assure you you would fail, if
it was possible you could have ten times more merit than you have.
And, if you love your wife, as I am convinced you do, what must be
your condition in seeing her want the necessaries of life?"
"I know my condition is very hard," cries Booth; "but I have one
comfort in it, which I will never part with, and that is innocence. As
to the mere necessaries of life, however, it is pretty difficult to
deprive us of them; this I am sure of, no one can want them long."
"Upon my word, sir," cries Trent, "I did not know you had been so
great a philosopher. But, believe me, these matters look much less
terrible at a distance than when they are actually present. You will
then find, I am afraid, that honour hath no more skill in cookery than
Shakspear tells us it hath in surgery. D--n me if I don't wish his
lordship loved my wife as well as he doth yours, I promise you I would
trust her virtue; and, if he should get the better of it, I should
have people of fashion enough to keep me in countenance."
Their second bottle being now almost out, Booth, without making any
answer, called for a bill. Trent pressed very much the drinking
another bottle, but Booth absolutely refused, and presently afterwards
they parted, not extremely well satisfied with each other. They
appeared, indeed, one to the other, in disadvantageous lights of a
very different kind. Trent concluded Booth to be a very silly fellow,
and Booth began to suspect that Trent was very little better than a
_Contains a letter and other matters_.
We will now return to Amelia; to whom, immediately upon her husband's
departure to walk with Mr. Trent, a porter brought the following
letter, which she immediately opened and read:
"MADAM,--The quick despatch which I have given to your first commands
will I hope assure you of the diligence with which I shall always obey
every command that you are pleased to honour me with. I have, indeed,
in this trifling affair, acted as if my life itself had been at stake;
nay, I know not but it may be so; for this insignificant matter, you
was pleased to tell me, would oblige the charming person in whose
power is not only my happiness, but, as I am well persuaded, my life
too. Let me reap therefore some little advantage in your eyes, as you
have in mine, from this trifling occasion; for, if anything could add
to the charms of which you are mistress, it would be perhaps that
amiable zeal with which you maintain the cause of your friend. I hope,
indeed, she will be my friend and advocate with the most lovely of her
sex, as I think she hath reason, and as you was pleased to insinuate
she had been. Let me beseech you, madam, let not that dear heart,
whose tenderness is so inclined to compassionate the miseries of
others, be hardened only against the sufferings which itself
occasions. Let not that man alone have reason to think you cruel, who,
of all others, would do the most to procure your kindness. How often
have I lived over in my reflections, in my dreams, those two short
minutes we were together! But, alas! how faint are these mimicries of
the imagination! What would I not give to purchase the reality of such
another blessing! This, madam, is in your power to bestow on the man
who hath no wish, no will, no fortune, no heart, no life, but what are
at your disposal. Grant me only the favour to be at Lady----'s
assembly. You can have nothing to fear from indulging me with a
moment's sight, a moment's conversation; I will ask no more. I know
your delicacy, and had rather die than offend it. Could I have seen
you sometimes, I believe the fear of offending you would have kept my
love for ever buried in my own bosom; but, to be totally excluded even
from the sight of what my soul doats on is what I cannot bear. It is
that alone which hath extorted the fatal secret from me. Let that
obtain your forgiveness for me. I need not sign this letter otherwise
than with that impression of my heart which I hope it bears; and, to
conclude it in any form, no language hath words of devotion strong
enough to tell you with what truth, what anguish, what zeal, what
adoration I love you."
Amelia had just strength to hold out to the end, when her trembling
grew so violent that she dropt the letter, and had probably dropt
herself, had not Mrs. Atkinson come timely in to support her.
"Good Heavens!" cries Mrs. Atkinson, "what is the matter with you,
"I know not what is the matter," cries Amelia; "but I have received a
letter at last from that infamous colonel."
"You will take my opinion again then, I hope, madam," cries Mrs.
Atkinson. "But don't be so affected; the letter cannot eat you or run
away with you. Here it lies, I see; will you give me leave to read
"Read it with all my heart," cries Amelia; "and give me your advice
how to act, for I am almost distracted."
"Heydey!" says Mrs. Atkinson, "here is a piece of parchment too--what
is that?" In truth, this parchment had dropt from the letter when
Amelia first opened it; but her attention was so fixed by the contents
of the letter itself that she had never read the other. Mrs. Atkinson
had now opened the parchment first; and, after a moment's perusal, the
fire flashed from her eyes, and the blood flushed into her cheeks, and
she cried out, in a rapture, "It is a commission for my husband! upon
my soul, it is a commission for my husband:" and, at the same time,
began to jump about the room in a kind of frantic fit of joy.
"What can be the meaning of all this?" cries Amelia, under the highest
degree of astonishment.
"Do not I tell you, my dear madam," cries she, "that it is a
commission for my husband? and can you wonder at my being overjoyed at
what I know will make him so happy? And now it is all out. The letter
is not from the colonel, but from that noble lord of whom I have told
you so much. But, indeed, madam, I have some pardons to ask of you.
However, I know your goodness, and I will tell you all.
"You are to know then, madam, that I had not been in the Opera-house
six minutes before a masque came up, and, taking me by the hand, led
me aside. I gave the masque my hand; and, seeing a lady at that time
lay hold on Captain Booth, I took that opportunity of slipping away
from him; for though, by the help of the squeaking voice, and by
attempting to mimic yours, I had pretty well disguised my own, I was
still afraid, if I had much conversation with your husband, he would
discover me. I walked therefore away with this masque to the upper end
of the farthest room, where we sat down in a corner together. He
presently discovered to me that he took me for you, and I soon after
found out who he was; indeed, so far from attempting to disguise
himself, he spoke in his own voice and in his own person. He now began
to make very violent love to me, but it was rather in the stile of a
great man of the present age than of an Arcadian swain. In short, he
laid his whole fortune at my feet, and bade me make whatever terms I
pleased, either for myself or for others. By others, I suppose he
meant your husband. This, however, put a thought into my head of
turning the present occasion to advantage. I told him there were two
kinds of persons, the fallaciousness of whose promises had become
proverbial in the world. These were lovers, and great men. What
reliance, then, could I have on the promise of one who united in
himself both those characters? That I had seen a melancholy instance,
in a very worthy woman of my acquaintance (meaning myself, madam), of
his want of generosity. I said I knew the obligations that he had to
this woman, and the injuries he had done her, all which I was
convinced she forgave, for that she had said the handsomest things in
the world of him to me. He answered that he thought he had not been
deficient in generosity to this lady (for I explained to him whom I
meant); but that indeed, if she had spoke well of him to me (meaning
yourself, madam), he would not fail to reward her for such an
obligation. I then told him she had married a very deserving man, who
had served long in the army abroad as a private man, and who was a
serjeant in the guards; that I knew it was so very easy for him to get
him a commission, that I should not think he had any honour or
goodness in the world if he neglected it. I declared this step must be
a preliminary to any good opinion he must ever hope for of mine. I
then professed the greatest friendship to that lady (in which I am
convinced you will think me serious), and assured him he would give me
one of the highest pleasures in letting me be the instrument of doing
her such a service. He promised me in a moment to do what you see,
madam, he hath since done. And to you I shall always think myself
indebted for it."
"I know not how you are indebted to me," cries Amelia. "Indeed, I am
very glad of any good fortune that can attend poor Atkinson, but I
wish it had been obtained some other way. Good Heavens! what must be
the consequence of this? What must this lord think of me for listening
to his mention of love? nay, for making any terms with him? for what
must he suppose those terms mean? Indeed, Mrs. Atkinson, you carried
it a great deal too far. No wonder he had the assurance to write to me
in the manner he hath done. It is too plain what he conceives of me,
and who knows what he may say to others? You may have blown up my
reputation by your behaviour."
"How is that possible?" answered Mrs. Atkinson. "Is it not in my power
to clear up all matters? If you will but give me leave to make an
appointment in your name I will meet him myself, and declare the whole
secret to him."
"I will consent to no such appointment," cries Amelia. "I am heartily
sorry I ever consented to practise any deceit. I plainly see the truth
of what Dr Harrison hath often told me, that, if one steps ever so
little out of the ways of virtue and innocence, we know not how we may
slide, for all the ways of vice are a slippery descent."
"That sentiment," cries Mrs. Atkinson, "is much older than Dr
Harrison. _Omne vitium in proclivi est._"
"However new or old it is, I find it is true," cries Amelia--"But,
pray, tell me all, though I tremble to hear it."
"Indeed, my dear friend," said Mrs. Atkinson, "you are terrified at
nothing--indeed, indeed, you are too great a prude."
"I do not know what you mean by prudery," answered Amelia. "I shall
never be ashamed of the strictest regard to decency, to reputation,
and to that honour in which the dearest of all human creatures hath
his share. But, pray, give me the letter, there is an expression in it
which alarmed me when I read it. Pray, what doth he mean by his two
short minutes, and by purchasing the reality of such another
"Indeed, I know not what he means by two minutes," cries Mrs.
Atkinson, "unless he calls two hours so; for we were not together much
less. And as for any blessing he had, I am a stranger to it. Sure, I
hope you have a better opinion of me than to think I granted him the
"I don't know what favours you granted him, madam," answered Amelia
peevishly, "but I am sorry you granted him any in my name."
"Upon my word," cries Mrs. Atkinson, "you use me unkindly, and it is
an usage I did not expect at your hands, nor do I know that I have
deserved it. I am sure I went to the masquerade with no other view
than to oblige you, nor did I say or do anything there which any woman
who is not the most confounded prude upon earth would have started at
on a much less occasion than what induced me. Well, I declare upon my
soul then, that, if I was a man, rather than be married to a woman who
makes such a fuss with her virtue, I would wish my wife was without
such a troublesome companion."
"Very possibly, madam, these may be your sentiments," cries Amelia,
"and I hope they are the sentiments of your husband."
"I desire, madam," cries Mrs. Atkinson, "you would not reflect on my
husband. He is a worthy man and as brave a man as yours; yes, madam,
and he is now as much a captain."
She spoke those words with so loud a voice, that Atkinson, who was
accidentally going up-stairs, heard them; and, being surprized at the
angry tone of his wife's voice, he entered the room, and, with a look
of much astonishment, begged to know what was the matter.
"The matter, my dear," cries Mrs. Atkinson, "is that I have got a
commission for you, and your good old friend here is angry with me for
"I have not spirits enow," cries Amelia, "to answer you as you
deserve; and, if I had, you are below my anger."
"I do not know, Mrs. Booth," answered the other, "whence this great
superiority over me is derived; but, if your virtue gives it you, I
would have you to know, madam, that I despise a prude as much as you
can do a----."
"Though you have several times," cries Amelia, "insulted me with that
word, I scorn to give you any ill language in return. If you deserve
any bad appellation, you know it, without my telling it you."
Poor Atkinson, who was more frightened than he had ever been in his
life, did all he could to procure peace. He fell upon his knees to his
wife, and begged her to compose herself; for indeed she seemed to be
in a most furious rage.
While he was in this posture Booth, who had knocked so gently at the
door, for fear of disturbing his wife, that he had not been heard in
the tempest, came into the room. The moment Amelia saw him, the tears
which had been gathering for some time, burst in a torrent from her
eyes, which, however, she endeavoured to conceal with her
handkerchief. The entry of Booth turned all in an instant into a
silent picture, in which the first figure which struck the eyes of the
captain was the serjeant on his knees to his wife.
Booth immediately cried, "What's the meaning of this?" but received no
answer. He then cast his eyes towards Amelia, and, plainly discerning
her condition, he ran to her, and in a very tender phrase begged to
know what was the matter. To which she answered, "Nothing, my dear,
nothing of any consequence." He replied that he would know, and then
turned to Atkinson, and asked the same question.
Atkinson answered, "Upon my honour, sir, I know nothing of it.
Something hath passed between madam and my wife; but what it is I know
no more than your honour."
"Your wife," said Mrs. Atkinson, "hath used me cruelly ill, Mr. Booth.
If you must be satisfied, that is the whole matter."
Booth rapt out a great oath, and cried, "It is impossible; my wife is
not capable of using any one ill."
Amelia then cast herself upon her knees to her husband, and cried,
"For Heaven's sake do not throw yourself into a passion--some few
words have past--perhaps I may be in the wrong."
"Damnation seize me if I think so!" cries Booth. "And I wish whoever
hath drawn these tears from your eyes may pay it with as many drops of
their heart's blood."
"You see, madam," cries Mrs. Atkinson, "you have your bully to take
your part; so I suppose you will use your triumph."
Amelia made no answer, but still kept hold of Booth, who, in a violent
rage, cried out, "My Amelia triumph over such a wretch as thee!--What
can lead thy insolence to such presumption! Serjeant, I desire you'll
take that monster out of the room, or I cannot answer for myself."
The serjeant was beginning to beg his wife to retire (for he perceived
very plainly that she had, as the phrase is, taken a sip too much that
evening) when, with a rage little short of madness, she cried out,
"And do you tamely see me insulted in such a manner, now that you are
a gentleman, and upon a footing with him?"
"It is lucky for us all, perhaps," answered Booth, "that he is not my
"You lie, sirrah," said Mrs. Atkinson; "he is every way your equal; he
is as good a gentleman as yourself, and as much an officer. No, I
retract what I say; he hath not the spirit of a gentleman, nor of a
man neither, or he would not bear to see his wife insulted."
"Let me beg of you, my dear," cries the serjeant, "to go with me and
"Go with thee, thou wretch!" cries she, looking with the utmost
disdain upon him; "no, nor ever speak to thee more." At which words
she burst out of the room, and the serjeant, without saying a word,
A very tender and pathetic scene now passed between Booth and his
wife, in which, when she was a little composed, she related to him the
whole story. For, besides that it was not possible for her otherwise
to account for the quarrel which he had seen, Booth was now possessed
of the letter that lay on the floor.
Amelia, having emptied her mind to her husband, and obtained his
faithful promise that he would not resent the affair to my lord, was
pretty well composed, and began to relent a little towards Mrs.
Atkinson; but Booth was so highly incensed with her, that he declared
he would leave her house the next morning; which they both accordingly
did, and immediately accommodated themselves with convenient
apartments within a few doors of their friend the doctor.
_Containing some things worthy observation._
Notwithstanding the exchange of his lodgings, Booth did not forget to
send an excuse to Mr. Trent, of whose conversation he had taken a full
surfeit the preceding evening.
That day in his walks Booth met with an old brother-officer, who had
served with him at Gibraltar, and was on half-pay as well as himself.
He had not, indeed, had the fortune of being broke with his regiment,
as was Booth, but had gone out, as they call it, on half-pay as a
lieutenant, a rank to which he had risen in five-and-thirty years.
This honest gentleman, after some discourse with Booth, desired him to
lend him half-a-crown, which he assured him he would faithfully pay
the next day, when he was to receive some money for his sister. The
sister was the widow of an officer that had been killed in the sea-
service; and she and her brother lived together, on their joint stock,
out of which they maintained likewise an old mother and two of the
sister's children, the eldest of which was about nine years old. "You
must know," said the old lieutenant, "I have been disappointed this
morning by an old scoundrel, who wanted fifteen per cent, for
advancing my sister's pension; but I have now got an honest fellow who
hath promised it me to-morrow at ten per cent."
"And enough too, of all conscience," cries Booth.
"Why, indeed, I think so too," answered the other; "considering it is
sure to be paid one time or other. To say the truth, it is a little
hard the government doth not pay those pensions better; for my
sister's hath been due almost these two years; that is my way of
Booth answered he was ashamed to refuse him such a sum; but, "Upon my
soul," said he, "I have not a single halfpenny in my pocket; for I am
in a worse condition, if possible, than yourself; for I have lost all
my money, and, what is worse, I owe Mr. Trent, whom you remember at
Gibraltar, fifty pounds."
"Remember him! yes, d--n him! I remember him very well," cries the old
gentleman, "though he will not remember me. He is grown so great now
that he will not speak to his old acquaintance; and yet I should be
ashamed of myself to be great in such a manner."
"What manner do you mean?" cries Booth, a little eagerly.
"Why, by pimping," answered the other; "he is pimp in ordinary to my
Lord----, who keeps his family; or how the devil he lives else I don't
know, for his place is not worth three hundred pounds a year, and he
and his wife spend a thousand at least. But she keeps an assembly,
which, I believe, if you was to call a bawdy-house, you would not
misname it. But d--n me if I had not rather be an honest man, and walk
on foot, with holes in my shoes, as I do now, or go without a dinner,
as I and all my family will today, than ride in a chariot and feast by
such means. I am honest Bob Bound, and always will be; that's my way
of thinking; and there's no man shall call me otherwise; for if he
doth, I will knock him down for a lying rascal; that is my way of
"And a very good way of thinking too," cries Booth. "However, you
shall not want a dinner to-day; for if you will go home with me, I
will lend you a crown with all my heart."
"Lookee," said the old man, "if it be anywise inconvenient to you I
will not have it; for I will never rob another man of his dinner to
eat myself--that is my way of thinking."
"Pooh!" said Booth; "never mention such a trifle twice between you and
me. Besides, you say you can pay it me to-morrow; and I promise you
that will be the same thing."
They then walked together to Booth's lodgings, where Booth, from
Amelia's pocket, gave his friend double the little sum he had asked.
Upon which the old gentleman shook him heartily by the hand, and,
repeating his intention of paying him the next day, made the best of
his way to a butcher's, whence he carried off a leg of mutton to a
family that had lately kept Lent without any religious merit.
When he was gone Amelia asked her husband who that old gentleman was?
Booth answered he was one of the scandals of his country; that the
Duke of Marlborough had about thirty years before made him an ensign
from a private man for very particular merit; and that he had not long
since gone out of the army with a broken heart, upon having several
boys put over his head. He then gave her an account of his family,
which he had heard from the old gentleman in their way to his house,
and with which we have already in a concise manner acquainted the
"Good Heavens!" cries Amelia; "what are our great men made of? are
they in reality a distinct species from the rest of mankind? are they
born without hearts?"
"One would, indeed, sometimes," cries Booth, "be inclined to think so.
In truth, they have no perfect idea of those common distresses of
mankind which are far removed from their own sphere. Compassion, if
thoroughly examined, will, I believe, appear to be the fellow-feeling
only of men of the same rank and degree of life for one another, on
account of the evils to which they themselves are liable. Our
sensations are, I am afraid, very cold towards those who are at a
great distance from us, and whose calamities can consequently never
"I remember," cries Amelia, "a sentiment of Dr Harrison's, which he
told me was in some Latin book; _I am a man myself, and my heart is
interested in whatever can befal the rest of mankind_. That is the
sentiment of a good man, and whoever thinks otherwise is a bad one."
"I have often told you, my dear Emily," cries Booth, "that all men, as
well the best as the worst, act alike from the principle of self-love.
Where benevolence therefore is the uppermost passion, self-love
directs you to gratify it by doing good, and by relieving the
distresses of others; for they are then in reality your own. But where
ambition, avarice, pride, or any other passion, governs the man and
keeps his benevolence down, the miseries of all other men affect him
no more than they would a stock or a stone. And thus the man and his
statue have often the same degree of feeling or compassion."
"I have often wished, my dear," cries Amelia, "to hear you converse
with Dr Harrison on this subject; for I am sure he would convince you,
though I can't, that there are really such things as religion and
This was not the first hint of this kind which Amelia had given; for
she sometimes apprehended from his discourse that he was little better
than an atheist: a consideration which did not diminish her affection
for him, but gave her great uneasiness. On all such occasions Booth
immediately turned the discourse to some other subject; for, though he
had in other points a great opinion of his wife's capacity, yet as a
divine or a philosopher he did not hold her in a very respectable
light, nor did he lay any great stress on her sentiments in such
matters. He now, therefore, gave a speedy turn to the conversation,
and began to talk of affairs below the dignity of this history.
_Containing a very polite scene._
We will now look back to some personages who, though not the principal
characters in this history, have yet made too considerable a figure in
it to be abruptly dropt: and these are Colonel James and his lady.
This fond couple never met till dinner the day after the masquerade,
when they happened to be alone together in an antechamber before the
arrival of the rest of the company.
The conversation began with the colonel's saying, "I hope, madam, you
got no cold last night at the masquerade." To which the lady answered
by much the same kind of question.
They then sat together near five minutes without opening their mouths
to each other. At last Mrs. James said, "Pray, sir, who was that
masque with you in the dress of a shepherdess? How could you expose
yourself by walking with such a trollop in public; for certainly no
woman of any figure would appear there in such a dress? You know, Mr.
James, I never interfere with your affairs; but I would, methinks, for
my own sake, if I was you, preserve a little decency in the face of
"Upon my word," said James, "I do not know whom you mean. A woman in
such a dress might speak to me for aught I know. A thousand people
speak to me at a masquerade. But, I promise you, I spoke to no woman
acquaintance there that I know of. Indeed, I now recollect there was a
woman in a dress of a shepherdess; and there was another aukward thing
in a blue domino that plagued me a little, but I soon got rid of
"And I suppose you do not know the lady in the blue domino neither?"
"Not I, I assure you," said James. "But pray, why do you ask me these
questions? it looks so like jealousy."
"Jealousy!" cries she; "I jealous! no, Mr. James, I shall never be
jealous, I promise you, especially of the lady in the blue domino;
for, to my knowledge, she despises you of all human race."
"I am heartily glad of it," said James; "for I never saw such a tall
aukward monster in my life."
"That is a very cruel way of telling me you knew me."
"You, madam!" said James; "you was in a black domino."
"It is not so unusual a thing, I believe, you yourself know, to change
dresses. I own I did it to discover some of your tricks. I did not
think you could have distinguished the tall aukward monster so well."
"Upon my soul," said James, "if it was you I did not even suspect it;
so you ought not to be offended at what I have said ignorantly."
"Indeed, sir," cries she, "you cannot offend me by anything you can
say to my face; no, by my soul, I despise you too much. But I wish,
Mr. James, you would not make me the subject of your conversation
amongst your wenches. I desire I may not be afraid of meeting them for
fear of their insults; that I may not be told by a dirty trollop you
make me the subject of your wit amongst them, of which, it seems, I am
the favourite topic. Though you have married a tall aukward monster,
Mr. James, I think she hath a right to be treated, as your wife, with
respect at least: indeed, I shall never require any more; indeed, Mr.
James, I never shall. I think a wife hath a title to that."
"Who told you this, madam?" said James.
"Your slut," said she; "your wench, your shepherdess."
"By all that's sacred!" cries James, "I do not know who the
"By all that's sacred then," says she, "she told me so, and I am
convinced she told me truth. But I do not wonder at you denying it;
for that is equally consistent with honour as to behave in such a
manner to a wife who is a gentlewoman. I hope you will allow me that,
sir. Because I had not quite so great a fortune I hope you do not
think me beneath you, or that you did me any honour in marrying me. I
am come of as good a family as yourself, Mr. James; and if my brother
knew how you treated me he would not bear it."
"Do you threaten me with your brother, madam?" said James.
"I will not be ill-treated, sir," answered she.
"Nor I neither, madam," cries he; "and therefore I desire you will
prepare to go into the country to-morrow morning."
"Indeed, sir," said she, "I shall not."
"By heavens! madam, but you shall," answered he: "I will have my coach
at the door to-morrow morning by seven; and you shall either go into
it or be carried."
"I hope, sir, you are not in earnest," said she.
"Indeed, madam," answered he, "but I am in earnest, and resolved; and
into the country you go to-morrow."
"But why into the country," said she, "Mr. James? Why will you be so
barbarous to deny me the pleasures of the town?"
"Because you interfere with my pleasures," cried James, "which I have
told you long ago I would not submit to. It is enough for fond couples
to have these scenes together. I thought we had been upon a better
footing, and had cared too little for each other to become mutual
plagues. I thought you had been satisfied with the full liberty of
doing what you pleased."
"So I am; I defy you to say I have ever given you any uneasiness."
"How!" cries he; "have you not just now upbraided me with what you
heard at the masquerade?"
"I own," said she, "to be insulted by such a creature to my face stung
me to the soul. I must have had no spirit to bear the insults of such
an animal. Nay, she spoke of you with equal contempt. Whoever she is,
I promise you Mr. Booth is her favourite. But, indeed, she is unworthy
any one's regard, for she behaved like an arrant dragoon."
"Hang her!" cries the colonel, "I know nothing of her."
"Well, but, Mr. James, I am sure you will not send me into the
country. Indeed I will not go into the country."
"If you was a reasonable woman," cries James, "perhaps I should not
desire it. And on one consideration--"
"Come, name your consideration," said she.
"Let me first experience your discernment," said he. "Come, Molly, let
me try your judgment. Can you guess at any woman of your acquaintance
that I like?"
"Sure," said she, "it cannot be Mrs. Booth!"
"And why not Mrs. Booth?" answered he. "Is she not the finest woman in
"Very far from it," replied she, "in my opinion."
"Pray what faults," said he, "can you find in her?"
"In the first place," cries Mrs. James, "her eyes are too large; and
she hath a look with them that I don't know how to describe; but I
know I don't like it. Then her eyebrows are too large; therefore,
indeed, she doth all in her power to remedy this with her pincers; for
if it was not for those her eyebrows would be preposterous. Then her
nose, as well proportioned as it is, has a visible scar on one side.
Her neck, likewise, is too protuberant for the genteel size,
especially as she laces herself; for no woman, in my opinion, can be
genteel who is not entirely flat before. And, lastly, she is both too
short and too tall. Well, you may laugh, Mr. James, I know what I
mean, though I cannot well express it: I mean that she is too tall for
a pretty woman and too short for a fine woman. There is such a thing
as a kind of insipid medium--a kind of something that is neither one
thing nor another. I know not how to express it more clearly; but when
I say such a one is a pretty woman, a pretty thing, a pretty creature,
you know very well I mean a little woman; and when I say such a one is
a very fine woman, a very fine person of a woman, to be sure I must
mean a tall woman. Now a woman that is between both is certainly
neither the one nor the other."
"Well, I own," said he, "you have explained yourself with great
dexterity; but, with all these imperfections, I cannot help liking
"That you need not tell me, Mr. James," answered the lady, "for that I
knew before you desired me to invite her to your house. And
nevertheless, did not I, like an obedient wife, comply with your
desires? did I make any objection to the party you proposed for the
masquerade, though I knew very well your motive? what can the best of
wives do more? to procure you success is not in my power; and, if I
may give you my opinion, I believe you will never succeed with her."
"Is her virtue so very impregnable?" said he, with a sneer.
"Her virtue," answered Mrs. James, "hath the best guard in the world,
which is a most violent love for her husband."
"All pretence and affectation," cries the colonel. "It is impossible
she should have so little taste, or indeed so little delicacy, as to
like such a fellow."
"Nay, I do not much like him myself," said she. "He is not indeed at
all such a sort of man as I should like; but I thought he had been
generally allowed to be handsome."
"He handsome!" cries James. "What, with a nose like the proboscis of
an elephant, with the shoulders of a porter, and the legs of a
chairman? The fellow hath not in the least the look of a gentleman,
and one would rather think he had followed the plough than the camp
all his life."
"Nay, now I protest," said she, "I think you do him injustice. He is
genteel enough in my opinion. It is true, indeed, he is not quite of
the most delicate make; but, whatever he is, I am convinced she thinks
him the finest man in the world."
"I cannot believe it," answered he peevishly; "but will you invite her
to dinner here to-morrow?"
"With all my heart, and as often as you please," answered she. "But I
have some favours to ask of you. First, I must hear no more of going
out of town till I please."
"Very well," cries he.
"In the next place," said she, "I must have two hundred guineas within
these two or three days."
"Well, I agree to that too," answered he.
"And when I do go out of town, I go to Tunbridge--I insist upon that;
and from Tunbridge I go to Bath--positively to Bath. And I promise you
faithfully I will do all in my power to carry Mrs. Booth with me."
"On that condition," answered he, "I promise you you shall go wherever
you please. And, to shew you, I will even prevent your wishes by my
generosity; as soon as I receive the five thousand pounds which I am
going to take up on one of my estates, you shall have two hundred
She thanked him with a low curtesie; and he was in such good humour
that he offered to kiss her. To this kiss she coldly turned her cheek,
and then, flirting her fan, said, "Mr. James, there is one thing I
forgot to mention to you--I think you intended to get a commission in
some regiment abroad for this young man. Now if you would take my
advice, I know this will not oblige his wife; and, besides, I am
positive she resolves to go with him. But, if you can provide for him
in some regiment at home, I know she will dearly love you for it, and
when he is ordered to quarters she will be left behind; and Yorkshire
or Scotland, I think, is as good a distance as either of the Indies."
"Well, I will do what I can," answered James; "but I cannot ask
anything yet; for I got two places of a hundred a year each for two of
my footmen, within this fortnight."
At this instant a violent knock at the door signified the arrival of
their company, upon which both husband and wife put on their best
looks to receive their guests; and, from their behaviour to each other
during the rest of the day, a stranger might have concluded he had
been in company with the fondest couple in the universe.
Before we return to Booth we will relate a scene in which Dr Harrison
This good man, whilst in the country, happened to be in the
neighbourhood of a nobleman of his acquaintance, and whom he knew to
have very considerable interest with the ministers at that time.
The doctor, who was very well known to this nobleman, took this
opportunity of paying him a visit in order to recommend poor Booth to
his favour. Nor did he much doubt of his success, the favour he was to
ask being a very small one, and to which he thought the service of
Booth gave him so just a title.
The doctor's name soon gained him an admission to the presence of this
great man, who, indeed, received him with much courtesy and
politeness; not so much, perhaps, from any particular regard to the
sacred function, nor from any respect to the doctor's personal merit,
as from some considerations which the reader will perhaps guess anon.
After many ceremonials, and some previous discourse on different
subjects, the doctor opened the business, and told the great man that
he was come to him to solicit a favour for a young gentleman who had
been an officer in the army and was now on half-pay. "All the favour I
ask, my lord," said he, "is, that this gentleman may be again admitted
_ad_ _eundem_. I am convinced your lordship will do me the justice to
think I would not ask for a worthless person; but, indeed, the young
man I mean hath very extraordinary merit. He was at the siege of
Gibraltar, in which he behaved with distinguished bravery, and was
dangerously wounded at two several times in the service of his
country. I will add that he is at present in great necessity, and hath
a wife and several children, for whom he hath no other means of
providing; and, if it will recommend him farther to your lordship's
favour, his wife, I believe, is one of the best and worthiest of all
"As to that, my dear doctor," cries the nobleman, "I shall make no
doubt. Indeed any service I shall do the gentleman will be upon your
account. As to necessity, it is the plea of so many that it is
impossible to serve them all. And with regard to the personal merit of
these inferior officers, I believe I need not tell you that it is very
little regarded. But if you recommend him, let the person be what he
will, I am convinced it will be done; for I know it is in your power
at present to ask for a greater matter than this."
"I depend entirely upon your lordship," answered the doctor.
"Indeed, my worthy friend," replied the lord, "I will not take a merit
to myself which will so little belong to me. You are to depend on
yourself. It falls out very luckily too at this time, when you have it
in your power so greatly to oblige us."
"What, my lord, is in my power?" cries the doctor.
"You certainly know," answered his lordship, "how hard Colonel
Trompington is run at your town in the election of a mayor; they tell
me it will be a very near thing unless you join us. But we know it is
in your power to do the business, and turn the scale. I heard your
name mentioned the other day on that account, and I know you may have
anything in reason if you will give us your interest."
"Sure, my lord," cries the doctor, "you are not in earnest in asking
my interest for the colonel?"
"Indeed I am," answered the peer; "why should you doubt it?"
"For many reasons," answered the doctor. "First, I am an old friend
and acquaintance of Mr. Fairfield, as your lordship, I believe, very
well knows. The little interest, therefore, that I have, you may be
assured, will go in his favour. Indeed, I do not concern myself deeply
in these affairs, for I do not think it becomes my cloth so to do.
But, as far as I think it decent to interest myself, it will certainly
be on the side of Mr. Fairfield. Indeed, I should do so if I was
acquainted with both the gentlemen only by reputation; the one being a
neighbouring gentleman of a very large estate, a very sober and
sensible man, of known probity and attachment to the true interest of
his country; the other is a mere stranger, a boy, a soldier of
fortune, and, as far as I can discern from the little conversation I
have had with him, of a very shallow capacity, and no education."
"No education, my dear friend!" cries the nobleman. "Why, he hath been
educated in half the courts of Europe."
"Perhaps so, my lord," answered the doctor; "but I shall always be so
great a pedant as to call a man of no learning a man of no education.
And, from my own knowledge, I can aver that I am persuaded there is
scarce a foot-soldier in the army who is more illiterate than the
"Why, as to Latin and Greek, you know," replied the lord, "they are
not much required in the army."
"It may be so," said the doctor. "Then let such persons keep to their
own profession. It is a very low civil capacity indeed for which an
illiterate man can be qualified. And, to speak a plain truth, if your
lordship is a friend to the colonel, you would do well to advise him
to decline an attempt in which I am certain he hath no probability of
"Well, sir," said the lord, "if you are resolved against us, I must
deal as freely with you, and tell you plainly I cannot serve you in
your affair. Nay, it will be the best thing I can do to hold my
tongue; for, if I should mention his name with your recommendation
after what you have said, he would perhaps never get provided for as
long as he lives."
"Is his own merit, then, my lord, no recommendation?" cries the
"My dear, dear sir," cries the other, "what is the merit of a
"Surely, my lord," cries the doctor, "it is the merit which should
recommend him to the post of a subaltern officer. And it is a merit
which will hereafter qualify him to serve his country in a higher
capacity. And I do assure of this young man, that he hath not only a
good heart but a good head too. And I have been told by those who are
judges that he is, for his age, an excellent officer."
"Very probably!" cries my lord. "And there are abundance with the same
merit and the same qualifications who want a morsel of bread for
themselves and their families."
"It is an infamous scandal on the nation," cries the doctor; "and I am
heartily sorry it can be said even with a colour of truth."
"How can it be otherwise?" says the peer. "Do you think it is possible
to provide for all men of merit?"
"Yes, surely do I," said the doctor; "and very easily too."
"How, pray?" cries the lord. "Upon my word, I shall be glad to know."
"Only by not providing for those who have none. The men of merit in
any capacity are not, I am afraid, so extremely numerous that we need
starve any of them, unless we wickedly suffer a set of worthless
fellows to eat their bread."
"This is all mere Utopia," cries his lordship; "the chimerical system
of Plato's commonwealth, with which we amused ourselves at the
university; politics which are inconsistent with the state of human
"Sure, my lord," cries the doctor, "we have read of states where such
doctrines have been put in practice. What is your lordship's opinion
of Rome in the earlier ages of the commonwealth, of Sparta, and even
of Athens itself in some periods of its history?"
"Indeed, doctor," cries the lord, "all these notions are obsolete and
long since exploded. To apply maxims of government drawn from the
Greek and Roman histories to this nation is absurd and impossible.
But, if you will have Roman examples, fetch them from those times of
the republic that were most like our own. Do you not know, doctor,
that this is as corrupt a nation as ever existed under the sun? And
would you think of governing such a people by the strict principles of
honesty and morality?"
"If it be so corrupt," said the doctor, "I think it is high time to
amend it: or else it is easy to foresee that Roman and British liberty
will have the same fate; for corruption in the body politic as
naturally tends to dissolution as in the natural body."
"I thank you for your simile," cries my lord; "for, in the natural
body, I believe, you will allow there is the season of youth, the
season of manhood, and the season of old age; and that, when the last
of these arrives, it will be an impossible attempt by all the means of
art to restore the body again to its youth, or to the vigour of its
middle age. The same periods happen to every great kingdom. In its
youth it rises by arts and arms to power and prosperity. This it
enjoys and flourishes with a while; and then it may be said to be in
the vigour of its age, enriched at home with all the emoluments and
blessings of peace, and formidable abroad with all the terrors of war.
At length this very prosperity introduces corruption, and then comes
on its old age. Virtue and learning, art and industry, decay by
degrees. The people sink into sloth and luxury and prostitution. It is
enervated at home--becomes contemptible abroad; and such indeed is its
misery and wretchedness, that it resembles a man in the last decrepit
stage of life, who looks with unconcern at his approaching
"This is a melancholy picture indeed," cries the doctor; "and, if the
latter part of it can be applied to our case, I see nothing but
religion, which would have prevented this decrepit state of the
constitution, should prevent a man of spirit from hanging himself out
of the way of so wretched a contemplation."
"Why so?" said the peer; "why hang myself, doctor? Would it not be
wiser, think you, to make the best of your time, and the most you can,
in such a nation?"
"And is religion, then, to be really laid out of the question?" cries
"If I am to speak my own opinion, sir," answered the peer, "you know I
shall answer in the negative. But you are too well acquainted with the
world to be told that the conduct of politicians is not formed upon
the principles of religion."
"I am very sorry for it," cries the doctor; "but I will talk to them
then of honour and honesty; this is a language which I hope they will
at least pretend to understand. Now to deny a man the preferment which
he merits, and to give it to another man who doth not merit it, is a
manifest act of injustice, and is consequently inconsistent with both
honour and honesty. Nor is it only an act of injustice to the man
himself, but to the public, for whose good principally all public
offices are, or ought to be, instituted. Now this good can never be
completed nor obtained but by employing all persons according to their
capacities. Wherever true merit is liable to be superseded by favour
and partiality, and men are intrusted with offices without any regard
to capacity or integrity, the affairs of that state will always be in
a deplorable situation. Such, as Livy tells us, was the state of Capua
a little before its final destruction, and the consequence your
lordship well knows. But, my lord, there is another mischief which
attends this kind of injustice, and that is, it hath a manifest
tendency to destroy all virtue and all ability among the people, by
taking away all that encouragement and incentive which should promote
emulation and raise men to aim at excelling in any art, science, or
profession. Nor can anything, my lord, contribute more to render a
nation contemptible among its neighbours; for what opinion can other
countries have of the councils, or what terror can they conceive of
the arms, of such a people? and it was chiefly owing to the avoiding
this error that Oliver Cromwell carried the reputation of England
higher than it ever was at any other time. I will add only one
argument more, and that is founded on the most narrow and selfish
system of politics; and this is, that such a conduct is sure to create
universal discontent and grumbling at home; for nothing can bring men
to rest satisfied, when they see others preferred to them, but an
opinion that they deserved that elevation; for, as one of the greatest
men this country ever produced observes,
One worthless man that gains what he pretends
Disgusts a thousand unpretending friends.
With what heart-burnings then must any nation see themselves obliged
to contribute to the support of a set of men of whose incapacity to
serve them they are well apprized, and who do their country a double
diskindness, by being themselves employed in posts to which they are
unequal, and by keeping others out of those employments for which they
"And do you really think, doctor," cries the nobleman, "that any
minister could support himself in this country upon such principles as
you recommend? Do you think he would be able to baffle an opposition
unless he should oblige his friends by conferring places often
contrary to his own inclinations and his own opinion?"
"Yes, really do I," cries the doctor. "Indeed, if a minister is
resolved to make good his confession in the liturgy, _by leaving
undone all those things which he ought to have done, and by doing all
those things which he ought not to have done,_ such a minister, I
grant, will be obliged to baffle opposition, as you are pleased to
term it, by these arts; for, as Shakespeare somewhere says,
Things ill begun strengthen themselves by ill.
But if, on the contrary, he will please to consider the true interest
of his country, and that only in great and national points; if he will
engage his country in neither alliances nor quarrels but where it is
really interested; if he will raise no money but what is wanted, nor
employ any civil or military officers but what are useful, and place
in these employments men of the highest integrity, and of the greatest
abilities; if he will employ some few of his hours to advance our
trade, and some few more to regulate our domestic government; if he
would do this, my lord, I will answer for it, he shall either have no
opposition to baffle, or he shall baffle it by a fair appeal to his
conduct. Such a minister may, in the language of the law, put himself
on his country when he pleases, and he shall come off with honour and
"And do you really believe, doctor," cries the peer, "there ever was
such a minister, or ever will be?"
"Why not, my lord?" answered the doctor. "It requires no very
extraordinary parts, nor any extraordinary degree of virtue. He need
practise no great instances of self-denial. He shall have power, and
honour, and riches, and, perhaps, all in a much greater degree than he
can ever acquire by pursuing a contrary system. He shall have more of
each and much more of safety."
"Pray, doctor," said my lord," let me ask you one simple question. Do
you really believe any man upon earth was ever a rogue out of choice?"
"Really, my lord," says the doctor, "I am ashamed to answer in the
affirmative; and yet I am afraid experience would almost justify me if
I should. Perhaps the opinion of the world may sometimes mislead men
to think those measures necessary which in reality are not so. Or the
truth may be, that a man of good inclinations finds his office filled
with such corruption by the iniquity of his predecessors, that he may
despair of being capable of purging it; and so sits down contented, as
Augeas did with the filth of his stables, not because he thought them
the better, or that such filth was really necessary to a stable, but
that he despaired of sufficient force to cleanse them."
"I will ask you one question more, and I have done," said the
nobleman. "Do you imagine that if any minister was really as good as
you would have him, that the people in general would believe that he
"Truly, my lord," said the doctor, "I think they may be justified in
not believing too hastily. But I beg leave to answer your lordship's
question by another. Doth your lordship believe that the people of
Greenland, when they see the light of the sun and feel his warmth,
after so long a season of cold and darkness, will really be persuaded
that he shines upon them?"
My lord smiled at the conceit; and then the doctor took an opportunity
to renew his suit, to which his lordship answered, "He would promise
nothing, and could give him no hopes of success; but you may be
assured," said he, with a leering countenance, "I shall do him all the
service in my power." A language which the doctor well understood; and
soon after took a civil, but not a very ceremonious leave.
_The history of Mr. Trent._
We will now return to Mr. Booth and his wife. The former had spent his
time very uneasily ever since he had discovered what sort of man he
was indebted to; but, lest he should forget it, Mr. Trent thought now
proper to remind him in the following letter, which he read the next
morning after he had put off the appointment.
"SIR,--I am sorry the necessity of my affairs obliges me to mention
that small sum which I had the honour to lend you the other night at
play; and which I shall be much obliged to you if you will let me have
some time either to-day or to-morrow. I am, sir, Your most obedient,
most humble servant, GEORGE TRENT."
This letter a little surprized Booth, after the genteel, and, indeed,
as it appeared, generous behaviour of Trent. But lest it should have
the same effect upon the reader, we will now proceed to account for
this, as well as for some other phenomena that have appeared in this
history, and which, perhaps, we shall be forgiven for not having
opened more largely before.
Mr. Trent then was a gentleman possibly of a good family, for it was
not certain whence he sprung on the father's side. His mother, who was
the only parent he ever knew or heard of, was a single gentlewoman,
and for some time carried on the trade of a milliner in Covent-garden.
She sent her son, at the age of eight years old, to a charity-school,
where he remained till he was of the age of fourteen, without making
any great proficiency in learning. Indeed it is not very probable he
should; for the master, who, in preference to a very learned and
proper man, was chosen by a party into this school, the salary of
which was upwards of a hundred pounds a-year, had himself never
travelled through the Latin Grammar, and was, in truth, a most
At the age of fifteen Mr. Trent was put clerk to an attorney, where he
remained a very short time before he took leave of his master; rather,
indeed, departed without taking leave; and, having broke open his
mother's escritore, and carried off with him all the valuable effects
he there found, to the amount of about fifty pounds, he marched off to
sea, and went on board a merchantman, whence he was afterwards pressed
into a man of war.
In this service he continued above three years; during which time he
behaved so ill in his moral character that he twice underwent a very
severe discipline for thefts in which he was detected; but at the same
time, he behaved so well as a sailor in an engagement with some
pirates, that he wiped off all former scores, and greatly recommended
himself to his captain.
At his return home, he being then about twenty years of age, he found
that the attorney had in his absence married his mother, had buried
her, and secured all her effects, to the amount, as he was informed,
of about fifteen hundred pound. Trent applied to his stepfather, but
to no purpose; the attorney utterly disowned him, nor would he suffer
him to come a second time within his doors.
It happened that the attorney had, by a former wife, an only daughter,
a great favourite, who was about the same age with Trent himself, and
had, during his residence at her father's house, taken a very great
liking to this young fellow, who was extremely handsome and perfectly
well made. This her liking was not, during his absence, so far
extinguished but that it immediately revived on his return. Of this
she took care to give Mr. Trent proper intimation; for she was not one
of those backward and delicate ladies who can die rather than make the
first overture. Trent was overjoyed at this, and with reason, for she
was a very lovely girl in her person, the only child of a rich father;
and the prospect of so complete a revenge on the attorney charmed him
above all the rest. To be as short in the matter as the parties, a
marriage was soon consummated between them.
The attorney at first raged and was implacable; but at last fondness
for his daughter so far overcame resentment that he advanced a sum of
money to buy his son-in-law (for now he acknowledged him as such) an
ensign's commission in a marching regiment then ordered to Gibraltar;
at which place the attorney heartily hoped that Trent might be knocked
on the head; for in that case he thought he might marry his daughter
more agreeably to his own ambition and to her advantage.
The regiment into which Trent purchased was the same with that in
which Booth likewise served; the one being an ensign, and the other a
lieutenant, in the two additional companies.
Trent had no blemish in his military capacity. Though he had had but
an indifferent education, he was naturally sensible and genteel, and
Nature, as we have said, had given him a very agreeable person. He was
likewise a very bold fellow, and, as he really behaved himself every
way well enough while he was at Gibraltar, there was some degree of
intimacy between him and Booth.
When the siege was over, and the additional companies were again
reduced, Trent returned to his wife, who received him with great joy
and affection. Soon after this an accident happened which proved the
utter ruin of his father-in-law, and ended in breaking his heart. This
was nothing but making a mistake pretty common at this day, of writing
another man's name to a deed instead of his own. In truth this matter
was no less than what the law calls forgery, and was just then made
capital by an act of parliament. From this offence, indeed, the
attorney was acquitted, by not admitting the proof of the party, who
was to avoid his own deed by his evidence, and therefore no witness,
according to those excellent rules called the law of evidence; a law
very excellently calculated for the preservation of the lives of his
majesty's roguish subjects, and most notably used for that purpose.
But though by common law the attorney was honourably acquitted, yet,
as common sense manifested to every one that he was guilty, he
unhappily lost his reputation, and of consequence his business; the
chagrin of which latter soon put an end to his life.
This prosecution had been attended with a very great expence; for,
besides the ordinary costs of avoiding the gallows by the help of the
law, there was a very high article, of no less than a thousand pounds,
paid down to remove out of the way a witness against whom there was no
legal exception. The poor gentleman had besides suffered some losses
in business; so that, to the surprize of all his acquaintance, when
his debts were paid there remained no more than a small estate of
fourscore pounds a-year, which he settled upon his daughter, far out
of the reach of her husband, and about two hundred pounds in money.
The old gentleman had not long been in his grave before Trent set
himself to consider seriously of the state of his affairs. He had
lately begun to look on his wife with a much less degree of liking and
desire than formerly; for he was one of those who think too much of
one thing is good for nothing. Indeed, he had indulged these
speculations so far, that I believe his wife, though one of the
prettiest women in town, was the last subject that he would have chose
for any amorous dalliance.
Many other persons, however, greatly differed from him in his opinion.
Amongst the rest was the illustrious peer of amorous memory. This
noble peer, having therefore got a view of Mrs. Trent one day in the
street, did, by means of an emissary then with him, make himself
acquainted with her lodging, to which he immediately laid siege in
form, setting himself down in a lodging directly opposite to her, from
whence the battery of ogles began to play the very next morning.
This siege had not continued long before the governor of the garrison
became sufficiently apprized of all the works which were carrying on,
and, having well reconnoitered the enemy, and discovered who he was,
notwithstanding a false name and some disguise of his person, he
called a council of war within his own breast. In fact, to drop all
allegory, he began to consider whether his wife was not really a more
valuable possession than he had lately thought her. In short, as he
had been disappointed in her fortune, he now conceived some hopes of
turning her beauty itself into a fortune.
Without communicating these views to her, he soon scraped an
acquaintance with his opposite neighbour by the name which he there
usurped, and counterfeited an entire ignorance of his real name and
title. On this occasion Trent had his disguise likewise, for he
affected the utmost simplicity; of which affectation, as he was a very
artful fellow, he was extremely capable.
The peer fell plumb into this snare; and when, by the simplicity, as
he imagined, of the husband, he became acquainted with the wife, he
was so extravagantly charmed with her person, that he resolved,
whatever was the cost or the consequence, he would possess her.
His lordship, however, preserved some caution in his management of
this affair; more, perhaps, than was necessary. As for the husband,
none was requisite, for he knew all he could; and, with regard to the
wife herself, as she had for some time perceived the decrease of her
husband's affection (for few women are, I believe, to be imposed upon
in that matter), she was not displeased to find the return of all that
complaisance and endearment, of those looks and languishments, from
another agreeable person, which she had formerly received from Trent,
and which she now found she should receive from him no longer.
My lord, therefore, having been indulged with as much opportunity as
he could wish from Trent, and having received rather more
encouragement than he could well have hoped from the lady, began to
prepare all matters for a storm, when luckily, Mr. Trent declaring he
must go out of town for two days, he fixed on the first day of his
departure as the time of carrying his design into execution.
And now, after some debate with himself in what manner he should
approach his love, he at last determined to do it in his own person;
for he conceived, and perhaps very rightly, that the lady, like
Semele, was not void of ambition, and would have preferred Jupiter in
all his glory to the same deity in the disguise of an humble shepherd.
He dressed himself, therefore, in the richest embroidery of which he
was master, and appeared before his mistress arrayed in all the
brightness of peerage; a sight whose charms she had not the power to
resist, and the consequences are only to be imagined. In short, the
same scene which Jupiter acted with his above-mentioned mistress of
old was more than beginning, when Trent burst from the closet into
which he had conveyed himself, and unkindly interrupted the action.
His lordship presently run to his sword; but Trent, with great
calmness, answered, "That, as it was very well known he durst fight,
he should not draw his sword on this occasion; for sure," says he, "my
lord, it would be the highest imprudence in me to kill a man who is
now become so considerably my debtor." At which words he fetched a
person from the closet, who had been confined with him, telling him he
had done his business, and might now, if he pleased, retire.
It would be tedious here to amuse the reader with all that passed on
the present occasion; the rage and confusion of the wife, or the
perplexity in which my lord was involved. We will omit therefore all
such matters, and proceed directly to business, as Trent and his
lordship did soon after. And in the conclusion my lord stipulated to
pay a good round sum, and to provide Mr. Trent with a good place on
the first opportunity.
On the side of Mr. Trent were stipulated absolute remission of all
past, and full indulgence for the time to come.
Trent now immediately took a house at the polite end of the town,
furnished it elegantly, and set up his equipage, rigged out both
himself and his wife with very handsome cloaths, frequented all public
places where he could get admission, pushed himself into acquaintance,
and his wife soon afterwards began to keep an assembly, or, in the
fashionable phrase, to be at home once a-week; when, by my lord's
assistance, she was presently visited by most men of the first rank,
and by all such women of fashion as are not very nice in their
My lord's amour with this lady lasted not long; for, as we have before
observed, he was the most inconstant of all human race. Mrs. Trent's
passion was not however of that kind which leads to any very deep
resentment of such fickleness. Her passion, indeed, was principally
founded upon interest; so that foundation served to support another
superstructure; and she was easily prevailed upon, as well as her
husband, to be useful to my lord in a capacity which, though very
often exerted in the polite world, hath not as yet, to my great
surprize, acquired any polite name, or, indeed, any which is not too
coarse to be admitted in this history.
After this preface, which we thought necessary to account for a
character of which some of my country and collegiate readers might
possibly doubt the existence, I shall proceed to what more immediately
regards Mrs. Booth. The reader may be pleased to remember that Mr.
Trent was present at the assembly to which Booth and his wife were
carried by Mrs. James, and where Amelia was met by the noble peer.
His lordship, seeing there that Booth and Trent were old acquaintance,
failed not, to use the language of sportsmen, to put Trent upon the
scent of Amelia. For this purpose that gentleman visited Booth the
very next day, and had pursued him close ever since. By his means,
therefore, my lord learned that Amelia was to be at the masquerade, to
which place she was dogged by Trent in a sailor's jacket, who, meeting
my lord, according to agreement, at the entrance of the opera-house,
like the four-legged gentleman of the same vocation, made a dead
point, as it is called, at the game.
My lord was so satisfied and delighted with his conversation at the
masquerade with the supposed Amelia, and the encouragement which in
reality she had given him, that, when he saw Trent the next morning,
he embraced him with great fondness, gave him a bank note of a hundred
pound, and promised him both the Indies on his success, of which he
began now to have no manner of doubt.
The affair that happened at the gaming-table was likewise a scheme of
Trent's, on a hint given by my lord to him to endeavour to lead Booth
into some scrape or distress; his lordship promising to pay whatever
expense Trent might be led into by such means. Upon his lordship's
credit, therefore, the money lent to Booth was really advanced. And
hence arose all that seeming generosity and indifference as to the
payment; Trent being satisfied with the obligation conferred on Booth,
by means of which he hoped to effect his purpose.
But now the scene was totally changed; for Mrs. Atkinson, the morning
after the quarrel, beginning seriously to recollect that she had
carried the matter rather too far, and might really injure Amelia's
reputation, a thought to which the warm pursuit of her own interest
had a good deal blinded her at the time, resolved to visit my lord
himself, and to let him into the whole story; for, as she had
succeeded already in her favourite point, she thought she had no
reason to fear any consequence of the discovery. This resolution she
Trent came to attend his lordship, just after Mrs. Atkinson had left
him. He found the peer in a very ill humour, and brought no news to
comfort or recruit his spirits; for he had himself just received a
billet from Booth, with an excuse for himself and his wife from
accepting the invitation at Trent's house that evening, where matters
had been previously concerted for their entertainment, and when his
lordship was by accident to drop into the room where Amelia was, while
Booth was to be engaged at play in another.
And now after much debate, and after Trent had acquainted my lord with
the wretched situation of Booth's circumstances, it was resolved that
Trent should immediately demand his money of Booth, and upon his not
paying it, for they both concluded it impossible he should pay it, to
put the note which Trent had for the money in suit against him by the
genteel means of paying it away to a nominal third person; and this
they both conceived must end immediately in the ruin of Booth, and,
consequently, in the conquest of Amelia.
In this project, and with this hope, both my lord and his setter, or
(if the sportsmen please) setting-dog, both greatly exulted; and it
was next morning executed, as we have already seen.
_Containing some distress._
Trent's letter drove Booth almost to madness. To be indebted to such a
fellow at any rate had stuck much in his stomach, and had given him
very great uneasiness; but to answer this demand in any other manner
than by paying the money was absolutely what he could not bear. Again,
to pay this money, he very plainly saw there was but one way, and this
was, by stripping his wife, not only of every farthing, but almost of
every rag she had in the world; a thought so dreadful that it chilled
his very soul with horror: and yet pride, at last, seemed to represent
this as the lesser evil of the two.
But how to do this was still a question. It was not sure, at least he
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