Amelia Volume III
Part 2 out of 5
"Come, come," says Trent, "there is nothing in the matter, I assure
you. I will tell you the whole another time."
"Very well; since you say so," cries Booth, "I am contented." So ended
the affair, and the two sparks made their congee, and sneaked off.
"Now they are gone," said the young gentleman, "I must say I never saw
two worse-bred jackanapes, nor fellows that deserved to be kicked
more. If I had had them in another place I would have taught them a
little more respect to the church."
"You took rather a better way," answered the doctor, "to teach them
Booth now desired his friend Trent to sit down with them, and proposed
to call for a fresh bottle of wine; but Amelia's spirits were too much
disconcerted to give her any prospect of pleasure that evening. She
therefore laid hold of the pretence of her children, for whom she said
the hour was already too late; with which the doctor agreed. So they
paid their reckoning and departed, leaving to the two rakes the
triumph of having totally dissipated the mirth of this little innocent
company, who were before enjoying complete satisfaction.
_A curious conversation between the doctor, the young clergyman, and
the young clergyman's father_.
The next morning, when the doctor and his two friends were at
breakfast, the young clergyman, in whose mind the injurious treatment
he had received the evening before was very deeply impressed, renewed
the conversation on that subject.
"It is a scandal," said he, "to the government, that they do not
preserve more respect to the clergy, by punishing all rudeness to them
with the utmost severity. It was very justly observed of you, sir,"
said he to the doctor," that the lowest clergyman in England is in
real dignity superior to the highest nobleman. What then can be so
shocking as to see that gown, which ought to entitle us to the
veneration of all we meet, treated with contempt and ridicule? Are we
not, in fact, ambassadors from heaven to the world? and do they not,
therefore, in denying us our due respect, deny it in reality to Him
that sent us?"
"If that be the case," says the doctor, "it behoves them to look to
themselves; for He who sent us is able to exact most severe vengeance
for the ill treatment of His ministers."
"Very true, sir," cries the young one; "and I heartily hope He will;
but those punishments are at too great a distance to infuse terror
into wicked minds. The government ought to interfere with its
immediate censures. Fines and imprisonments and corporal punishments
operate more forcibly on the human mind than all the fears of
"Do you think so?" cries the doctor; "then I am afraid men are very
little in earnest in those fears."
"Most justly observed," says the old gentleman. "Indeed, I am afraid
that is too much the case."
"In that," said the son, "the government is to blame. Are not books of
infidelity, treating our holy religion as a mere imposture, nay,
sometimes as a mere jest, published daily, and spread abroad amongst
the people with perfect impunity?"
"You are certainly in the right," says the doctor; "there is a most
blameable remissness with regard to these matters; but the whole blame
doth not lie there; some little share of the fault is, I am afraid, to
be imputed to the clergy themselves."
"Indeed, sir," cries the young one, "I did not expect that charge from
a gentleman of your cloth. Do the clergy give any encouragement to
such books? Do they not, on the contrary, cry loudly out against the
suffering them? This is the invidious aspersion of the laity; and I
did not expect to hear it confirmed by one of our own cloth."
"Be not too impatient, young gentleman," said the doctor." I do not
absolutely confirm the charge of the laity; it is much too general and
too severe; but even the laity themselves do not attack them in that
part to which you have applied your defence. They are not supposed
such fools as to attack that religion to which they owe their temporal
welfare. They are not taxed with giving any other support to
infidelity than what it draws from the ill examples of their lives; I
mean of the lives of some of them. Here too the laity carry their
censures too far; for there are very few or none of the clergy whose
lives, if compared with those of the laity, can be called profligate;
but such, indeed, is the perfect purity of our religion, such is the
innocence and virtue which it exacts to entitle us to its glorious
rewards and to screen us from its dreadful punishments, that he must
be a very good man indeed who lives up to it. Thus then these persons
argue. This man is educated in a perfect knowledge of religion, is
learned in its laws, and is by his profession obliged, in a manner, to
have them always before his eyes. The rewards which it promises to the
obedience of these laws are so great, and the punishments threatened
on disobedience so dreadful, that it is impossible but all men must
fearfully fly from the one, and as eagerly pursue the other. If,
therefore, such a person lives in direct opposition to, and in a
constant breach of, these laws, the inference is obvious. There is a
pleasant story in Matthew Paris, which I will tell you as well as I
can remember it. Two young gentlemen, I think they were priests,
agreed together that whosoever died first should return and acquaint
his friend with the secrets of the other world. One of them died soon
after, and fulfilled his promise. The whole relation he gave is not
very material; but, among other things, he produced one of his hands,
which Satan had made use of to write upon, as the moderns do on a
card, and had sent his compliments to the priests for the number of
souls which the wicked examples of their lives daily sent to hell.
This story is the more remarkable as it was written by a priest, and a
great favourer of his order."
"Excellent!" cried the old gentleman; "what a memory you have."
"But, sir," cries the young one, "a clergyman is a man as well as
another; and, if such perfect purity be expected--"
"I do not expect it," cries the doctor; "and I hope it will not be
expected of us. The Scripture itself gives us this hope, where the
best of us are said to fall twenty times a-day. But sure we may not
allow the practice of any of those grosser crimes which contaminate
the whole mind. We may expect an obedience to the ten commandments,
and an abstinence from such notorious vices as, in the first place,
Avarice, which, indeed, can hardly subsist without the breach of more
commandments than one. Indeed, it would be excessive candour to
imagine that a man who so visibly sets his whole heart, not only on
this world, but on one of the most worthless things in it (for so is
money, without regard to its uses), should be, at the same time,
laying up his treasure in heaven. Ambition is a second vice of this
sort: we are told we cannot serve God and Mammon. I might have applied
this to avarice; but I chose rather to mention it here. When we see a
man sneaking about in courts and levees, and doing the dirty work of
great men, from the hopes of preferment, can we believe that a fellow
whom we see to have so many hard task-masters upon earth ever thinks
of his Master which is in heaven? Must he not himself think, if ever
he reflects at all, that so glorious a Master will disdain and disown
a servant who is the dutiful tool of a court-favourite, and employed
either as the pimp of his pleasure, or sometimes, perhaps, made a
dirty channel to assist in the conveyance of that corruption which is
clogging up and destroying the very vitals of his country?
"The last vice which I shall mention is Pride. There is not in the
universe a more ridiculous nor a more contemptible animal than a proud
clergyman; a turkey-cock or a jackdaw are objects of veneration when
compared with him. I don't mean, by Pride, that noble dignity of mind
to which goodness can only administer an adequate object, which
delights in the testimony of its own conscience, and could not,
without the highest agonies, bear its condemnation. By Pride I mean
that saucy passion which exults in every little eventual pre-eminence
over other men: such are the ordinary gifts of nature, and the paultry
presents of fortune, wit, knowledge, birth, strength, beauty, riches,
titles, and rank. That passion which is ever aspiring, like a silly
child, to look over the heads of all about them; which, while it
servilely adheres to the great, flies from the poor, as if afraid of
contamination; devouring greedily every murmur of applause and every
look of admiration; pleased and elated with all kind of respect; and
hurt and enflamed with the contempt of the lowest and most despicable
of fools, even with such as treated you last night disrespectfully at
Vauxhall. Can such a mind as this be fixed on things above? Can such a
man reflect that he hath the ineffable honour to be employed in the
immediate service of his great Creator? or can he please himself with
the heart-warming hope that his ways are acceptable in the sight of
that glorious, that incomprehensible Being?"
"Hear, child, hear," cries the old gentleman; "hear, and improve your
understanding. Indeed, my good friend, no one retires from you without
carrying away some good instructions with him. Learn of the doctor,
Tom, and you will be the better man as long as you live."
"Undoubtedly, sir," answered Tom, "the doctor hath spoken a great deal
of excellent truth; and, without a compliment to him, I was always a
great admirer of his sermons, particularly of their oratory. But,
_Nee tamen hoc tribuens dederim quoque caetera_.
I cannot agree that a clergyman is obliged to put up with an affront
any more than another man, and more especially when it is paid to the
"I am very sorry, young gentleman," cries the doctor, "that you should
be ever liable to be affronted as a clergyman; and I do assure you, if
I had known your disposition formerly, the order should never have
been affronted through you."
The old gentleman now began to check his son for his opposition to the
doctor, when a servant delivered the latter a note from Amelia, which
he read immediately to himself, and it contained the following words:
"MY DEAR SIR,--Something hath happened since I saw you which gives me
great uneasiness, and I beg the favour of seeing you as soon as
possible to advise with you upon it.
Your most obliged and dutiful daughter,
The doctor's answer was, that he would wait on the lady directly; and
then, turning to his friend, he asked him if he would not take a walk
in the Park before dinner. "I must go," says he, "to the lady who was
with us last night; for I am afraid, by her letter, some bad accident
hath happened to her. Come, young gentleman, I spoke a little too
hastily to you just now; but I ask your pardon. Some allowance must be
made to the warmth of your blood. I hope we shall, in time, both think
The old gentleman made his friend another compliment; and the young
one declared he hoped he should always think, and act too, with the
dignity becoming his cloth. After which the doctor took his leave for
a while, and went to Amelia's lodgings.
As soon as he was gone the old gentleman fell very severely on his
son. "Tom," says he, "how can you be such a fool to undo, by your
perverseness, all that I have been doing? Why will you not learn to
study mankind with the attention which I have employed to that
purpose? Do you think, if I had affronted this obstinate old fellow as
you do, I should ever have engaged his friendship?"
"I cannot help it, sir," said Tom: "I have not studied six years at
the university to give up my sentiments to every one. It is true,
indeed, he put together a set of sounding words; but, in the main, I
never heard any one talk more foolishly."
"What of that?" cries the father; "I never told you he was a wise man,
nor did I ever think him so. If he had any understanding, he would
have been a bishop long ago, to my certain knowledge. But, indeed, he
hath been always a fool in private life; for I question whether he is
worth L100 in the world, more than his annual income. He hath given
away above half his fortune to the Lord knows who. I believe I have
had above L200 of him, first and last; and would you lose such a
milch-cow as this for want of a few compliments? Indeed, Tom, thou art
as great a simpleton as himself. How do you expect to rise in the
church if you cannot temporise and give in to the opinions of your
"I don't know, sir," cries Tom, "what you mean by my superiors. In one
sense, I own, a doctor of divinity is superior to a bachelor of arts,
and so far I am ready to allow his superiority; but I understand Greek
and Hebrew as well as he, and will maintain my opinion against him, or
any other in the schools."
"Tom," cries the old gentleman, "till thou gettest the better of thy
conceit I shall never have any hopes of thee. If thou art wise, thou
wilt think every man thy superior of whom thou canst get anything; at
least thou wilt persuade him that thou thinkest so, and that is
sufficient. Tom, Tom, thou hast no policy in thee."
"What have I been learning these seven years," answered he, "in the
university? However, father, I can account for your opinion. It is the
common failing of old men to attribute all wisdom to themselves.
Nestor did it long ago: but, if you will inquire my character at
college, I fancy you will not think I want to go to school again."
The father and son then went to take their walk, during which the
former repeated many good lessons of policy to his son, not greatly
perhaps to his edification. In truth, if the old gentleman's fondness
had not in a great measure blinded him to the imperfections of his
son, he would have soon perceived that he was sowing all his
instructions in a soil so choaked with self-conceit that it was
utterly impossible they should ever bear any fruit.
_To which we will prefix no preface_.
The doctor found Amelia alone, for Booth was gone to walk with his
new-revived acquaintance, Captain Trent, who seemed so pleased with
the renewal of his intercourse with his old brother-officer, that he
had been almost continually with him from the time of their meeting at
Amelia acquainted the doctor with the purport of her message, as
follows: "I ask your pardon, my dear sir, for troubling you so often
with my affairs; but I know your extreme readiness, as well as
ability, to assist any one with your advice. The fact is, that my
husband hath been presented by Colonel James with two tickets for a
masquerade, which is to be in a day or two, and he insists so strongly
on my going with him, that I really do not know how to refuse without
giving him some reason; and I am not able to invent any other than the
true one, which you would not, I am sure, advise me to communicate to
him. Indeed I had a most narrow escape the other day; for I was almost
drawn in inadvertently by a very strange accident, to acquaint him
with the whole matter." She then related the serjeant's dream, with
all the consequences that attended it.
The doctor considered a little with himself, and then said, "I am
really, child, puzzled as well as you about this matter. I would by no
means have you go to the masquerade; I do not indeed like the
diversion itself, as I have heard it described to me; not that I am
such a prude to suspect every woman who goes there of any evil
intentions; but it is a pleasure of too loose and disorderly a kind
for the recreation of a sober mind. Indeed, you have still a stronger
and more particular objection. I will try myself to reason him out of
"Indeed it is impossible," answered she; "and therefore I would not
set you about it. I never saw him more set on anything. There is a
party, as they call it, made on the occasion; and he tells me my
refusal will disappoint all."
"I really do not know what to advise you," cries the doctor; "I have
told you I do not approve of these diversions; but yet, as your
husband is so very desirous, I cannot think there will be any harm in
going with him. However, I will consider of it, and do all in my power
Here Mrs. Atkinson came in, and the discourse on this subject ceased;
but soon after Amelia renewed it, saying there was no occasion to keep
anything a secret from her friend. They then fell to debating on the
subject, but could not come to any resolution. But Mrs. Atkinson, who
was in an unusual flow of spirits, cried out, "Fear nothing, my dear
Amelia, two women surely will be too hard for one man. I think,
doctor, it exceeds Virgil:
_Una dolo divum si faemina victa duorum est_."
"Very well repeated, indeed!" cries the doctor. "Do you understand all
Virgil as well as you seem to do that line?"
"I hope I do, sir," said she, "and Horace too; or else my father threw
away his time to very little purpose in teaching me."
"I ask your pardon, madam," cries the doctor. "I own it was an
"Not at all, sir," says she; "and if you are one of those who imagine
women incapable of learning, I shall not be offended at it. I know the
common opinion; but
_Interdum vulgus rectum videt, est ubi peccat_."
"If I was to profess such an opinion, madam," said the doctor, "Madam
Dacier and yourself would bear testimony against me. The utmost indeed
that I should venture would be to question the utility of learning in
a young lady's education."
"I own," said Mrs. Atkinson, "as the world is constituted, it cannot
be as serviceable to her fortune as it will be to that of a man; but
you will allow, doctor, that learning may afford a woman, at least, a
reasonable and an innocent entertainment."
"But I will suppose," cried the doctor, "it may have its
inconveniences. As, for instance, if a learned lady should meet with
an unlearned husband, might she not be apt to despise him?"
"I think not," cries Mrs. Atkinson--"and, if I may be allowed the
instance, I think I have shewn, myself, that women who have learning
themselves can be contented without that qualification in a man."
"To be sure," cries the doctor, "there may be other qualifications
which may have their weight in the balance. But let us take the other
side of the question, and suppose the learned of both sexes to meet in
the matrimonial union, may it not afford one excellent subject of
disputation, which is the most learned?"
"Not at all," cries Mrs. Atkinson; "for, if they had both learning and
good sense, they would soon see on which side the superiority lay."
"But if the learned man," said the doctor, "should be a little
unreasonable in his opinion, are you sure that the learned woman would
preserve her duty to her husband, and submit?"
"But why," cries Mrs. Atkinson, "must we necessarily suppose that a
learned man would be unreasonable?"
"Nay, madam," said the doctor, "I am not your husband; and you shall
not hinder me from supposing what I please. Surely it is not such a
paradox to conceive that a man of learning should be unreasonable. Are
there no unreasonable opinions in very learned authors, even among the
critics themselves? For instance, what can be a more strange, and
indeed unreasonable opinion, than to prefer the Metamorphoses of Ovid
to the AEneid of Virgil?"
"It would be indeed so strange," cries the lady, "that you shall not
persuade me it was ever the opinion of any man."
"Perhaps not," cries the doctor; "and I believe you and I should not
differ in our judgments of any person who maintained such an opinion--
What a taste must he have!"
"A most contemptible one indeed," cries Mrs. Atkinson.
"I am satisfied," cries the doctor. "And in the words of your own
Horace, _Verbum non amplius addam_."
"But how provoking is this," cries Mrs. Atkinson, "to draw one in such
a manner! I protest I was so warm in the defence of my favourite
Virgil, that I was not aware of your design; but all your triumph
depends on a supposition that one should be so unfortunate as to meet
with the silliest fellow in the world."
"Not in the least," cries the doctor. "Doctor Bentley was not such a
person; and yet he would have quarrelled, I am convinced, with any
wife in the world, in behalf of one of his corrections. I don't
suppose he would have given up his _Ingentia Fata_ to an angel."
"But do you think," said she, "if I had loved him, I would have
contended with him?"
"Perhaps you might sometimes," said the doctor, "be of these
sentiments; but you remember your own Virgil--_Varium et mutabile
"Nay, Amelia," said Mrs. Atkinson, "you are now concerned as well as I
am; for he hath now abused the whole sex, and quoted the severest
thing that ever was said against us, though I allow it is one of the
"With all my heart, my dear," cries Amelia. "I have the advantage of
you, however, for I don't understand him."
"Nor doth she understand much better than yourself," cries the doctor;
"or she would not admire nonsense, even though in Virgil."
"Pardon me, sir," said she.
"And pardon me, madam," cries the doctor, with a feigned seriousness;
"I say, a boy in the fourth form at Eton would be whipt, or would
deserve to be whipt at least, who made the neuter gender agree with
the feminine. You have heard, however, that Virgil left his AEneid
incorrect; and, perhaps, had he lived to correct it, we should not
have seen the faults we now see in it."
"Why, it is very true as you say, doctor," cries Mrs. Atkinson; "there
seems to be a false concord. I protest I never thought of it before."
"And yet this is the Virgil," answered the doctor, "that you are so
fond of, who hath made you all of the neuter gender; or, as we say in
English, he hath made mere animals of you; for, if we translate it
"Woman is a various and changeable animal,
"there will be no fault, I believe, unless in point of civility to the
Mrs. Atkinson had just time to tell the doctor he was a provoking
creature, before the arrival of Booth and his friend put an end to
that learned discourse, in which neither of the parties had greatly
recommended themselves to each other; the doctor's opinion of the lady
being not at all heightened by her progress in the classics, and she,
on the other hand, having conceived a great dislike in her heart
towards the doctor, which would have raged, perhaps, with no less fury
from the consideration that he had been her husband.
_What happened at the masquerade_.
From this time to the day of the masquerade nothing happened of
consequence enough to have a place in this history.
On that day Colonel James came to Booth's about nine in the evening,
where he stayed for Mrs. James, who did not come till near eleven. The
four masques then set out together in several chairs, and all
proceeded to the Haymarket.
When they arrived at the Opera-house the colonel and Mrs. James
presently left them; nor did Booth and his lady remain long together,
but were soon divided from each other by different masques.
A domino soon accosted the lady, and had her away to the upper end of
the farthest room on the right hand, where both the masques sat down;
nor was it long before the he domino began to make very fervent love
to the she. It would, perhaps, be tedious to the reader to run through
the whole process, which was not indeed in the most romantick stile.
The lover seemed to consider his mistress as a mere woman of this
world, and seemed rather to apply to her avarice and ambition than to
her softer passions.
As he was not so careful to conceal his true voice as the lady was,
she soon discovered that this lover of her's was no other than her old
friend the peer, and presently a thought suggested itself to her of
making an advantage of this accident. She gave him therefore an
intimation that she knew him, and expressed some astonishment at his
having found her out. "I suspect," says she, "my lord, that you have a
friend in the woman where I now lodge, as well as you had in Mrs.
Ellison." My lord protested the contrary. To which she answered, "Nay,
my lord, do not defend her so earnestly till you are sure I should
have been angry with her."
At these words, which were accompanied with a very bewitching
softness, my lord flew into raptures rather too strong for the place
he was in. These the lady gently checked, and begged him to take care
they were not observed; for that her husband, for aught she knew, was
then in the room.
Colonel James came now up, and said, "So, madam, I have the good
fortune to find you again; I have been extremely miserable since I
lost you." The lady answered in her masquerade voice that she did not
know him. "I am Colonel James," said he, in a whisper. "Indeed, sir,"
answered she, "you are mistaken; I have no acquaintance with any
Colonel James." "Madam," answered he, in a whisper likewise, "I am
positive I am not mistaken, you are certainly Mrs. Booth." "Indeed,
sir," said she, "you are very impertinent, and I beg you will leave
me." My lord then interposed, and, speaking in his own voice, assured
the colonel that the lady was a woman of quality, and that they were
engaged in a conversation together; upon which the colonel asked the
lady's pardon; for, as there was nothing remarkable in her dress, he
really believed he had been mistaken.
He then went again a hunting through the rooms, and soon after found
Booth walking without his mask between two ladies, one of whom was in
a blue domino, and the other in the dress of a shepherdess. "Will,"
cries the colonel, "do you know what is become of our wives; for I
have seen neither of them since we have been in the room?" Booth
answered, "That he supposed they were both together, and they should
find them by and by." "What!" cries the lady in the blue domino, "are
you both come upon duty then with your wives? as for yours, Mr.
Alderman," said she to the colonel, "I make no question but she is got
into much better company than her husband's." "How can you be so
cruel, madam?" said the shepherdess; "you will make him beat his wife
by and by, for he is a military man I assure you." "In the trained
bands, I presume," cries the domino, "for he is plainly dated from the
city." "I own, indeed," cries the other, "the gentleman smells
strongly of Thames-street, and, if I may venture to guess, of the
honourable calling of a taylor."
"Why, what the devil hast thou picked up here?" cries James.
"Upon my soul, I don't know," answered Booth; "I wish you would take
one of them at least."
"What say you, madam?" cries the domino, "will you go with the
colonel? I assure you, you have mistaken your man, for he is no less a
person than the great Colonel James himself."
[Illustration: Booth between the blue domino and a Shepherdess.]
"No wonder, then, that Mr. Booth gives him his choice of us; it is the
proper office of a caterer, in which capacity Mr. Booth hath, I am
told, the honour to serve the noble colonel."
"Much good may it do you with your ladies!" said James; "I will go in
pursuit of better game." At which words he walked off.
"You are a true sportsman," cries the shepherdess; "for your only
pleasure, I believe, lies in the pursuit."
"Do you know the gentleman, madam?" cries the domino.
"Who doth not know him?" answered the shepherdess.
"What is his character?" cries the domino; "for, though I have jested
with him, I only know him by sight."
"I know nothing very particular in his character," cries the
shepherdess. "He gets every handsome woman he can, and so they do
"I suppose then he is not married?" said the domino.
"O yes! and married for love too," answered the other; "but he hath
loved away all his love for her long ago, and now, he says, she makes
as fine an object of hatred. I think, if the fellow ever appears to
have any wit, it is when he abuses his wife; and, luckily for him,
that is his favourite topic. I don't know the poor wretch, but, as he
describes her, it is a miserable animal."
"I know her very well," cries the other; "and I am much mistaken if
she is not even with him; but hang him! what is become of Booth?"
At this instant a great noise arose near that part where the two
ladies were. This was occasioned by a large assembly of young fellows
whom they call bucks, who were got together, and were enjoying, as the
phrase is, a letter, which one of them had found in the room.
Curiosity hath its votaries among all ranks of people; whenever
therefore an object of this appears it is as sure of attracting a
croud in the assemblies of the polite as in those of their inferiors.
When this croud was gathered together, one of the bucks, at the desire
of his companions, as well as of all present, performed the part of a
public orator, and read out the following letter, which we shall give
the reader, together with the comments of the orator himself, and of
all his audience.
The orator then, being mounted on a bench, began as follows:
"Here beginneth the first chapter of--saint--Pox on't, Jack, what is
the saint's name? I have forgot."
"Timothy, you blockhead," answered another; "--Timothy."
"Well, then," cries the orator, "of Saint Timothy.
"'SIR,--I am very sorry to have any occasion of writing on the
following subject in a country that is honoured with the name of
Christian; much more am I concerned to address myself to a man whose
many advantages, derived both from nature and fortune, should demand
the highest return of gratitude to the great Giver of all those good
things. Is not such a man guilty of the highest ingratitude to that
most beneficent Being, by a direct and avowed disobedience of his most
positive laws and commands?
"'I need not tell you that adultery is forbid in the laws of the
decalogue; nor need I, I hope, mention that it is expressly forbid in
the New Testament.'
"You see, therefore," said the orator, "what the law is, and therefore
none of you will be able to plead ignorance when you come to the Old
Bailey in the other world. But here goes again:--
"'If it had not been so expressly forbidden in Scripture, still the
law of Nature would have yielded light enough for us to have
discovered the great horror and atrociousness of this crime.
"'And accordingly we find that nations, where the Sun of righteousness
hath yet never shined, have punished the adulterer with the most
exemplary pains and penalties; not only the polite heathens, but the
most barbarous nations, have concurred in these; in many places the
most severe and shameful corporal punishments, and in some, and those
not a few, death itself hath been inflicted on this crime.
"'And sure in a human sense there is scarce any guilt which deserves
to be more severely punished. It includes in it almost every injury
and every mischief which one man can do to, or can bring on, another.
It is robbing him of his property--'
"Mind that, ladies," said the orator;" you are all the property of
your husbands.--'And of that property which, if he is a good man, he
values above all others. It is poisoning that fountain whence he hath
a right to derive the sweetest and most innocent pleasure, the most
cordial comfort, the most solid friendship, and most faithful
assistance in all his affairs, wants, and distresses. It is the
destruction of his peace of mind, and even of his reputation. The ruin
of both wife and husband, and sometimes of the whole family, are the
probable consequence of this fatal injury. Domestic happiness is the
end of almost all our pursuits, and the common reward of all our
pains. When men find themselves for ever barred from this delightful
fruition, they are lost to all industry, and grow careless of all
their worldly affairs. Thus they become bad subjects, bad relations,
bad friends, and bad men. Hatred and revenge are the wretched passions
which boil in their minds. Despair and madness very commonly ensue,
and murder and suicide often close the dreadful scene.'
"Thus, gentlemen and ladies, you see the scene is closed. So here ends
the first act--and thus begins the second:--
"'I have here attempted to lay before you a picture of this vice, the
horror of which no colours of mine can exaggerate. But what pencil can
delineate the horrors of that punishment which the Scripture denounces
"'And for what will you subject yourself to this punishment? or for
what reward will you inflict all this misery on another? I will add,
on your friend? for the possession of a woman; for the pleasure of a
moment? But, if neither virtue nor religion can restrain your
inordinate appetites, are there not many women as handsome as your
friend's wife, whom, though not with innocence, you may possess with a
much less degree of guilt? What motive then can thus hurry you on to
the destruction of yourself and your friend? doth the peculiar
rankness of the guilt add any zest to the sin? doth it enhance the
pleasure as much as we may be assured it will the punishment?
"'But if you can be so lost to all sense of fear, and of shame, and of
goodness, as not to be debarred by the evil which you are to bring on
yourself, by the extreme baseness of the action, nor by the ruin in
which you are to involve others, let me still urge the difficulty, I
may say, the impossibility of the success. You are attacking a
fortress on a rock; a chastity so strongly defended, as well by a
happy natural disposition of mind as by the strongest principles of
religion and virtue, implanted by education and nourished and improved
by habit, that the woman must be invincible even without that firm and
constant affection of her husband which would guard a much looser and
worse-disposed heart. What therefore are you attempting but to
introduce distrust, and perhaps disunion, between an innocent and a
happy couple, in which too you cannot succeed without bringing, I am
convinced, certain destruction on your own head?
"'Desist, therefore, let me advise you, from this enormous crime;
retreat from the vain attempt of climbing a precipice which it is
impossible you should ever ascend, where you must probably soon fall
into utter perdition, and can have no other hope but of dragging down
your best friend into perdition with you.
"'I can think of but one argument more, and that, indeed, a very bad
one; you throw away that time in an impossible attempt, which might,
in other places, crown your sinful endeavours with success.'
"And so ends the dismal ditty."
"D--n me," cries one, "did ever mortal hear such d--ned stuff?"
"Upon my soul," said another, "I like the last argument well enough.
There is some sense in that; for d--n me if I had not rather go to D--
g--ss at any time than follow a virtuous b---- for a fortnight."
"Tom," says one of them, "let us set the ditty to music; let us
subscribe to have it set by Handel; it will make an excellent
"D--n me, Jack," says another, "we'll have it set to a psalm-tune, and
we'll sing it next Sunday at St James's church, and I'll bear a bob,
"Fie upon it! gentlemen, fie upon it!" said a frier, who came up; "do
you think there is any wit and humour in this ribaldry; or, if there
were, would it make any atonement for abusing religion and virtue?"
"Heyday!" cries one, "this is a frier in good earnest."
"Whatever I am," said the frier, "I hope at least you are what you
appear to be. Heaven forbid, for the sake of our posterity, that you
should be gentlemen."
"Jack," cries one, "let us toss the frier in a blanket."
"Me in a blanket?" said the frier: "by the dignity of man, I will
twist the neck of every one of you as sure as ever the neck of a
dunghill-cock was twisted." At which words he pulled off his mask, and
the tremendous majesty of Colonel Bath appeared, from which the bucks
fled away as fast as the Trojans heretofore from the face of Achilles.
The colonel did not think it worth while to pursue any other of them
except him who had the letter in his hand, which the colonel desired
to see, and the other delivered, saying it was very much at his
The colonel being possessed of the letter, retired as privately as he
could, in order to give it a careful perusal; for, badly as it had
been read by the orator, there were some passages in it which had
pleased the colonel. He had just gone through it when Booth passed by
him; upon which the colonel called to him, and, delivering him the
letter, bid him put it in his pocket and read it at his leisure. He
made many encomiums upon it, and told Booth it would be of service to
him, and was proper for all young men to read.
Booth had not yet seen his wife; but, as he concluded she was safe
with Mrs. James, he was not uneasy. He had been prevented searching
farther after her by the lady in the blue domino, who had joined him
again. Booth had now made these discoveries: that the lady was pretty
well acquainted with him, that she was a woman of fashion, and that
she had a particular regard for him. But, though he was a gay man, he
was in reality so fond of his Amelia, that he thought of no other
woman; wherefore, though not absolutely a Joseph, as we have already
seen, yet could he not be guilty of premeditated inconstancy. He was
indeed so very cold and insensible to the hints which were given him,
that the lady began to complain of his dullness. When the shepherdess
again came up and heard this accusation against him, she confirmed it,
saying, "I do assure you, madam, he is the dullest fellow in the
world. Indeed, I should almost take you for his wife, by finding you a
second time with him; for I do assure you the gentleman very seldom
keeps any other company." "Are you so well acquainted with him,
madam?" said the domino. "I have had that honour longer than your
ladyship, I believe," answered the shepherdess. "Possibly you may,
madam," cries the domino; "but I wish you would not interrupt us at
present, for we have some business together." "I believe, madam,"
answered the shepherdess, "my business with the gentleman is
altogether as important as yours; and therefore your ladyship may
withdraw if you please." "My dear ladies," cries Booth, "I beg you
will not quarrel about me." "Not at all," answered the domino; "since
you are so indifferent, I resign my pretensions with all my heart. If
you had not been the dullest fellow upon earth, I am convinced you
must have discovered me." She then went off, muttering to herself that
she was satisfied the shepherdess was some wretched creature whom
The shepherdess overheard the sarcasm, and answered it by asking Booth
what contemptible wretch he had picked up? "Indeed, madam," said he,
"you know as much of her as I do; she is a masquerade acquaintance
like yourself." "Like me!" repeated she. "Do you think if this had
been our first acquaintance I should have wasted so much time with you
as I have? for your part, indeed, I believe a woman will get very
little advantage by her having been formerly intimate with you." "I do
not know, madam," said Booth, "that I deserve that character any more
than I know the person that now gives it me." "And you have the
assurance then," said she, in her own voice, "to affect not to
remember me?" "I think," cries Booth, "I have heard that voice before;
but, upon my soul, I do not recollect it." "Do you recollect," said
she, "no woman that you have used with the highest barbarity--I will
not say ingratitude?" "No, upon my honour," answered Booth. "Mention
not honour," said she, "thou wretch! for, hardened as thou art, I
could shew thee a face that, in spite of thy consummate impudence,
would confound thee with shame and horrour. Dost thou not yet know
me?" "I do, madam, indeed," answered Booth, "and I confess that of all
women in the world you have the most reason for what you said."
Here a long dialogue ensued between the gentleman and the lady, whom,
I suppose, I need not mention to have been Miss Matthews; but, as it
consisted chiefly of violent upbraidings on her side, and excuses on
his, I despair of making it entertaining to the reader, and shall
therefore return to the colonel, who, having searched all the rooms
with the utmost diligence, without finding the woman he looked for,
began to suspect that he had before fixed on the right person, and
that Amelia had denied herself to him, being pleased with her
paramour, whom he had discovered to be the noble peer.
He resolved, therefore, as he could have no sport himself, to spoil
that of others; accordingly he found out Booth, and asked him again
what was become of both their wives; for that he had searched all over
the rooms, and could find neither of them.
Booth was now a little alarmed at this account, and, parting with Miss
Matthews, went along with the colonel in search of his wife. As for
Miss Matthews, he had at length pacified her with a promise to make
her a visit; which promise she extorted from him, swearing bitterly,
in the most solemn manner, unless he made it to her, she would expose
both him and herself at the masquerade.
As he knew the violence of the lady's passions, and to what heights
they were capable of rising, he was obliged to come in to these terms:
for he had, I am convinced, no fear upon earth equal to that of
Amelia's knowing what it was in the power of Miss Matthews to
communicate to her, and which to conceal from her, he had already
undergone so much uneasiness.
The colonel led Booth directly to the place where he had seen the peer
and Amelia (such he was now well convinced she was) sitting together.
Booth no sooner saw her than he said to the colonel, "Sure that is my
wife in conversation with that masque?" "I took her for your lady
myself," said the colonel; "but I found I was mistaken. Hark ye, that
is my Lord----, and I have seen that very lady with him all this
This conversation past at a little distance, and out of the hearing of
the supposed Amelia; when Booth, looking stedfastly at the lady,
declared with an oath that he was positive the colonel was in the
right. She then beckoned to him with her fan; upon which he went
directly to her, and she asked him to go home, which he very readily
consented to. The peer then walked off: the colonel went in pursuit of
his wife, or of some other woman; and Booth and his lady returned in
two chairs to their lodgings.
_Consequences of the masquerade, not uncommon nor surprizing_.
The lady, getting first out of her chair, ran hastily up into the
nursery to the children; for such was Amelia's constant method at her
return home, at whatever hour. Booth then walked into the dining-room,
where he had not been long before Amelia came down to him, and, with a
most chearful countenance, said, "My dear, I fancy we have neither of
us supped; shall I go down and see whether there is any cold meat in
"For yourself, if you please," answered Booth; "but I shall eat
"How, my dear!" said Amelia; "I hope you have not lost your appetite
at the masquerade!" for supper was a meal at which he generally eat
"I know not well what I have lost," said Booth; "I find myself
disordered.--My head aches. I know not what is the matter with me."
"Indeed, my dear, you frighten me," said Amelia; "you look, indeed,
disordered. I wish the masquerade had been far enough before you had
"Would to Heaven it had!" cries Booth; "but that is over now. But
pray, Amelia, answer me one question--Who was that gentleman with you
when I came up to you?"
"The gentleman! my dear," said Amelia; "what gentleman?"
"The gentleman--the nobleman--when I came up; sure I speak plain."
"Upon my word, my dear, I don't understand you," answered she; "I did
not know one person at the masquerade."
"How!" said he; "what! spend the whole evening with a masque without
"Why, my dear," said she, "you know we were not together."
"I know we were not," said he, "but what is that to the purpose? Sure
you answer me strangely. I know we were not together; and therefore I
ask you whom you were with?"
"Nay, but, my dear," said she, "can I tell people in masques?"
"I say again, madam," said he, "would you converse two hours or more
with a masque whom you did not know?"
"Indeed, child," says she, "I know nothing of the methods of a
masquerade; for I never was at one in my life."
"I wish to Heaven you had not been at this!" cries Booth. "Nay, you
will wish so yourself if you tell me truth.--What have I said? do I--
can I suspect you of not speaking truth? Since you are ignorant then I
will inform you: the man you have conversed with was no other than
"And is that the reason," said she, "you wish I had not been there?"
"And is not that reason," answered he, "sufficient? Is he not the last
man upon earth with whom I would have you converse?"
"So you really wish then that I had not been at the masquerade?"
"I do," cried he, "from my soul."
"So may I ever be able," cried she, "to indulge you in every wish as
in this.--I was not there."
"Do not trifle, Amelia," cried he; "you would not jest with me if you
knew the situation of my mind."
"Indeed I do not jest with you," said she. "Upon my honour I was not
there. Forgive me this first deceit I ever practised, and indeed it
shall be the last; for I have paid severely for this by the uneasiness
it hath given me." She then revealed to him the whole secret, which
I think it hath been already mentioned in some part of this history
that Amelia and Mrs. Atkinson were exactly of the same make and
stature, and that there was likewise a very near resemblance between
their voices. When Mrs. Atkinson, therefore, found that Amelia was so
extremely averse to the masquerade, she proposed to go thither in her
stead, and to pass upon Booth for his own wife.
This was afterwards very easily executed; for, when they left Booth's
lodgings, Amelia, who went last to her chair, ran back to fetch her
masque, as she pretended, which she had purposely left behind. She
then whipt off her domino, and threw it over Mrs. Atkinson, who stood
ready to receive it, and ran immediately downstairs, and, stepping
into Amelia's chair, proceeded with the rest to the masquerade.
As her stature exactly suited that of Amelia, she had very little
difficulty to carry on the imposition; for, besides the natural
resemblance of their voices, and the opportunity of speaking in a
feigned one, she had scarce an intercourse of six words with Booth
during the whole time; for the moment they got into the croud she took
the first opportunity of slipping from him. And he, as the reader may
remember, being seized by other women, and concluding his wife to be
safe with Mrs. James, was very well satisfied, till the colonel set
him upon the search, as we have seen before.
Mrs. Atkinson, the moment she came home, ran upstairs to the nursery,
where she found Amelia, and told her in haste that she might very
easily carry on the deceit with her husband; for that she might tell
him what she pleased to invent, as they had not been a minute together
during the whole evening.
Booth was no sooner satisfied that his wife had not been from home
that evening than he fell into raptures with her, gave her a thousand
tender caresses, blamed his own judgment, acknowledged the goodness of
hers, and vowed never to oppose her will more in any one instance
during his life.
Mrs. Atkinson, who was still in the nursery with her masquerade dress,
was then summoned down-stairs, and, when Booth saw her and heard her
speak in her mimic tone, he declared he was not surprized at his
having been imposed upon, for that, if they were both in the same
disguise, he should scarce be able to discover the difference between
They then sat down to half an hour's chearful conversation, after
which they retired all in the most perfect good humour.
_Consequences of the masquerade_.
When Booth rose in the morning he found in his pocket that letter
which had been delivered to him by Colonel Bath, which, had not chance
brought to his remembrance, he might possibly have never recollected.
He had now, however, the curiosity to open the letter, and beginning
to read it, the matter of it drew him on till he perused the whole;
for, notwithstanding the contempt cast upon it by those learned
critics the bucks, neither the subject nor the manner in which it was
treated was altogether contemptible.
But there was still another motive which induced Booth to read the
whole letter, and this was, that he presently thought he knew the
hand. He did, indeed, immediately conclude it was Dr Harrison; for the
doctor wrote a very remarkable one, and this letter contained all the
particularities of the doctor's character.
He had just finished a second reading of this letter when the doctor
himself entered the room. The good man was impatient to know the
success of Amelia's stratagem, for he bore towards her all that love
which esteem can create in a good mind, without the assistance of
those selfish considerations from which the love of wives and children
may be ordinarily deduced. The latter of which, Nature, by very subtle
and refined reasoning, suggests to us to be part of our dear selves;
and the former, as long as they remain the objects of our liking, that
same Nature is furnished with very plain and fertile arguments to
recommend to our affections. But to raise that affection in the human
breast which the doctor had for Amelia, Nature is forced to use a kind
of logic which is no more understood by a bad man than Sir Isaac
Newton's doctrine of colours is by one born blind. And yet in reality
it contains nothing more abstruse than this, that an injury is the
object of anger, danger of fear, and praise of vanity; for in the same
simple manner it may be asserted that goodness is the object of love.
The doctor enquired immediately for his child (for so he often called
Amelia); Booth answered that he had left her asleep, for that she had
had but a restless night. "I hope she is not disordered by the
masquerade," cries the doctor. Booth answered he believed she would be
very well when she waked. "I fancy," said he, "her gentle spirits were
a little too much fluttered last night; that is all."
"I hope, then," said the doctor, "you will never more insist on her
going to such places, but know your own happiness in having a wife
that hath the discretion to avoid those places; which, though perhaps
they may not be as some represent them, such brothels of vice and
debauchery as would impeach the character of every virtuous woman who
was seen at them, are certainly, however, scenes of riot, disorder,
and intemperance, very improper to be frequented by a chaste and sober
Booth declared that he was very sensible of his error, and that, so
far from soliciting his wife to go to another masquerade, he did not
intend ever to go thither any more himself.
The doctor highly approved the resolution; and then Booth said, "And I
thank you, my dear friend, as well as my wife's discretion, that she
was not at the masquerade last night." He then related to the doctor
the discovery of the plot; and the good man was greatly pleased with
the success of the stratagem, and that Booth took it in such good
"But, sir," says Booth, "I had a letter given me by a noble colonel
there, which is written in a hand so very like yours, that I could
almost swear to it. Nor is the stile, as far as I can guess, unlike
your own. Here it is, sir. Do you own the letter, doctor, or do you
The doctor took the letter, and, having looked at it a moment, said,
"And did the colonel himself give you this letter?"
"The colonel himself," answered Booth.
"Why then," cries the doctor, "he is surely the most impudent fellow
that the world ever produced. What! did he deliver it with an air of
"He delivered it me with air enough," cries Booth, "after his own
manner, and bid me read it for my edification. To say the truth, I am
a little surprized that he should single me out of all mankind to
deliver the letter to; I do not think I deserve the character of such
a husband. It is well I am not so very forward to take an affront as
"I am glad to see you are not," said the doctor; "and your behaviour
in this affair becomes both the man of sense and the Christian; for it
would be surely the greatest folly, as well as the most daring
impiety, to risque your own life for the impertinence of a fool. As
long as you are assured of the virtue of your own wife, it is wisdom
in you to despise the efforts of such a wretch. Not, indeed, that your
wife accuses him of any downright attack, though she hath observed
enough in his behaviour to give offence to her delicacy."
"You astonish me, doctor," said Booth. "What can you mean? my wife
dislike his behaviour! hath the colonel ever offended her?"
"I do not say he hath ever offended her by any open declarations; nor
hath he done anything which, according to the most romantic notion of
honour, you can or ought to resent; but there is something extremely
nice in the chastity of a truly virtuous woman."
"And hath my wife really complained of anything of that kind in the
"Look ye, young gentleman," cries the doctor; "I will have no
quarrelling or challenging; I find I have made some mistake, and
therefore I insist upon it by all the rights of friendship, that you
give me your word of honour you will not quarrel with the colonel on
"I do, with all my heart," said Booth; "for, if I did not know your
character, I should absolutely think you was jesting with me. I do not
think you have mistaken my wife, but I am sure she hath mistaken the
colonel, and hath misconstrued some over-strained point of gallantry,
something of the Quixote kind, into a design against her chastity; but
I have that opinion of the colonel, that I hope you will not be
offended when I declare I know not which of you two I should be the
sooner jealous of."
"I would by no means have you jealous of any one," cries the doctor;
"for I think my child's virtue may be firmly relied on; but I am
convinced she would not have said what she did to me without a cause;
nor should I, without such a conviction, have written that letter to
the colonel, as I own to you I did. However, nothing I say hath yet
past which, even in the opinion of false honour, you are at liberty to
resent! but as to declining any great intimacy, if you will take my
advice, I think that would be prudent."
"You will pardon me, my dearest friend," said Booth, "but I have
really such an opinion of the colonel that I would pawn my life upon
his honour; and as for women, I do not believe he ever had an
attachment to any."
"Be it so," said the doctor: "I have only two things to insist on. The
first is, that, if ever you change your opinion, this letter may not
be the subject of any quarrelling or fighting: the other is, that you
never mention a word of this to your wife. By the latter I shall see
whether you can keep a secret; and, if it is no otherwise material, it
will be a wholesome exercise to your mind; for the practice of any
virtue is a kind of mental exercise, and serves to maintain the health
and vigour of the soul."
"I faithfully promise both," cries Booth. And now the breakfast
entered the room, as did soon after Amelia and Mrs. Atkinson.
The conversation ran chiefly on the masquerade; and Mrs. Atkinson gave
an account of several adventures there; but whether she told the whole
truth with regard to herself I will not determine, for, certain it is,
she never once mentioned the name of the noble peer. Amongst the rest,
she said there was a young fellow that had preached a sermon there
upon a stool, in praise of adultery, she believed; for she could not
get near enough to hear the particulars.
During that transaction Booth had been engaged with the blue domino in
another room, so that he knew nothing of it; so that what Mrs.
Atkinson had now said only brought to his mind the doctor's letter to
Colonel Bath, for to him he supposed it was written; and the idea of
the colonel being a lover to Amelia struck him in so ridiculous a
light, that it threw him into a violent fit of laughter.
The doctor, who, from the natural jealousy of an author, imputed the
agitation of Booth's muscles to his own sermon or letter on that
subject, was a little offended, and said gravely, "I should be glad to
know the reason of this immoderate mirth. Is adultery a matter of jest
in your opinion?"
"Far otherwise," answered Booth. "But how is it possible to refrain
from laughter at the idea of a fellow preaching a sermon in favour of
it at such a place?"
"I am very sorry," cries the doctor, "to find the age is grown to so
scandalous a degree of licentiousness, that we have thrown off not
only virtue, but decency. How abandoned must be the manners of any
nation where such insults upon religion and morality can be committed
with impunity! No man is fonder of true wit and humour than myself;
but to profane sacred things with jest and scoffing is a sure sign of
a weak and a wicked mind. It is the very vice which Homer attacks in
the odious character of Thersites. The ladies must excuse my repeating
the passage to you, as I know you have Greek enough to understand
Os rh' epea phresin esin akosma te, polla te ede
Maps, atar ou kata kosmon epizemenai basileusin,
All'o, ti oi eisaito geloiton Argeiosin
[Footnote: Thus paraphrased by Mr. Pope:
"Awed by no shame, by no respect controll'd,
In scandal busy, in reproaches bold,
With witty malice, studious to defame,
Scorn all his joy, and laughter all his aim."]
And immediately adds,
----aiskistos de aner ypo Ilion elthe
[Footnote: "He was the greatest scoundrel in the whole army."]
"Horace, again, describes such a rascal:
Qui captat risus hominum famamque dicacis,
[Footnote: "Who trivial bursts of laughter strives to raise,
And courts of prating petulance the praise."--FRANCIS.]
and says of him,
Hic niger est, hunc tu, Romane, caveto."
[Footnote: "This man is black; do thou, O Roman! shun this man."]
"O charming Homer!" said Mrs. Atkinson, "how much above all other
"I ask your pardon, madam," said the doctor; "I forgot you was a
scholar; but, indeed, I did not know you understood Greek as well as
"I do not pretend," said she, "to be a critic in the Greek; but I
think I am able to read a little of Homer, at least with the help of
looking now and then into the Latin."
"Pray, madam," said the doctor, "how do you like this passage in the
speech of Hector to Andromache:
----Eis oikon iousa ta sautes erga komize,
Iston t elakaten te, kai amphipoloisi keleue
[Footnote: "Go home and mind your own business. Follow your
spinning, and keep your maids to their work."]
"Or how do you like the character of Hippodamia, who, by being the
prettiest girl and best workwoman of her age, got one of the best
husbands in all Troy?--I think, indeed, Homer enumerates her
discretion with her other qualifications; but I do not remember he
gives us one character of a woman of learning.--Don't you conceive
this to be a great omission in that who, by being the prettiest girl
and best workwoman of her age, got one of the best husbands in all
Troy?---I think, indeed, Homer enumerates her discretion with her
other qualifications; but I do not remember Don't you conceive this to
be a great omission in that charming poet? However, Juvenal makes you
amends, for he talks very abundantly of the learning of the Roman
ladies in his time."
"You are a provoking man, doctor," said Mrs. Atkinson; "where is the
harm in a woman's having learning as well as a man?"
"Let me ask you another question," said the doctor. "Where is the harm
in a man's being a fine performer with a needle as well as a woman?
And yet, answer me honestly; would you greatly chuse to marry a man
with a thimble upon his finger? Would you in earnest think a needle
became the hand of your husband as well as a halberd?"
"As to war, I am with you," said she. "Homer himself, I well remember,
makes Hector tell his wife that warlike works--what is the Greek word
--Pollemy--something--belonged to men only; and I readily agree to it.
I hate a masculine woman, an Amazon, as much as you can do; but what
is there masculine in learning?"
"Nothing so masculine, take my word for it. As for your Pollemy, I
look upon it to be the true characteristic of a devil. So Homer
everywhere characterizes Mars."
"Indeed, my dear," cries the serjeant, "you had better not dispute
with the doctor; for, upon my word, he will be too hard for you."
"Nay, I beg _you_ will not interfere," cries Mrs. Atkinson; "I am sure
_you_ can be no judge in these matters."
At which the doctor and Booth burst into a loud laugh; and Amelia,
though fearful of giving her friend offence, could not forbear a
"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.
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