Amelia Volume III
Part 3 out of 5
"What can be the meaning of all this?" cries Amelia, under the highest
degree of astonishment.
"Do not I tell you, my dear madam," cries she, "that it is a
commission for my husband? and can you wonder at my being overjoyed at
what I know will make him so happy? And now it is all out. The letter
is not from the colonel, but from that noble lord of whom I have told
you so much. But, indeed, madam, I have some pardons to ask of you.
However, I know your goodness, and I will tell you all.
"You are to know then, madam, that I had not been in the Opera-house
six minutes before a masque came up, and, taking me by the hand, led
me aside. I gave the masque my hand; and, seeing a lady at that time
lay hold on Captain Booth, I took that opportunity of slipping away
from him; for though, by the help of the squeaking voice, and by
attempting to mimic yours, I had pretty well disguised my own, I was
still afraid, if I had much conversation with your husband, he would
discover me. I walked therefore away with this masque to the upper end
of the farthest room, where we sat down in a corner together. He
presently discovered to me that he took me for you, and I soon after
found out who he was; indeed, so far from attempting to disguise
himself, he spoke in his own voice and in his own person. He now began
to make very violent love to me, but it was rather in the stile of a
great man of the present age than of an Arcadian swain. In short, he
laid his whole fortune at my feet, and bade me make whatever terms I
pleased, either for myself or for others. By others, I suppose he
meant your husband. This, however, put a thought into my head of
turning the present occasion to advantage. I told him there were two
kinds of persons, the fallaciousness of whose promises had become
proverbial in the world. These were lovers, and great men. What
reliance, then, could I have on the promise of one who united in
himself both those characters? That I had seen a melancholy instance,
in a very worthy woman of my acquaintance (meaning myself, madam), of
his want of generosity. I said I knew the obligations that he had to
this woman, and the injuries he had done her, all which I was
convinced she forgave, for that she had said the handsomest things in
the world of him to me. He answered that he thought he had not been
deficient in generosity to this lady (for I explained to him whom I
meant); but that indeed, if she had spoke well of him to me (meaning
yourself, madam), he would not fail to reward her for such an
obligation. I then told him she had married a very deserving man, who
had served long in the army abroad as a private man, and who was a
serjeant in the guards; that I knew it was so very easy for him to get
him a commission, that I should not think he had any honour or
goodness in the world if he neglected it. I declared this step must be
a preliminary to any good opinion he must ever hope for of mine. I
then professed the greatest friendship to that lady (in which I am
convinced you will think me serious), and assured him he would give me
one of the highest pleasures in letting me be the instrument of doing
her such a service. He promised me in a moment to do what you see,
madam, he hath since done. And to you I shall always think myself
indebted for it."
"I know not how you are indebted to me," cries Amelia. "Indeed, I am
very glad of any good fortune that can attend poor Atkinson, but I
wish it had been obtained some other way. Good Heavens! what must be
the consequence of this? What must this lord think of me for listening
to his mention of love? nay, for making any terms with him? for what
must he suppose those terms mean? Indeed, Mrs. Atkinson, you carried
it a great deal too far. No wonder he had the assurance to write to me
in the manner he hath done. It is too plain what he conceives of me,
and who knows what he may say to others? You may have blown up my
reputation by your behaviour."
"How is that possible?" answered Mrs. Atkinson. "Is it not in my power
to clear up all matters? If you will but give me leave to make an
appointment in your name I will meet him myself, and declare the whole
secret to him."
"I will consent to no such appointment," cries Amelia. "I am heartily
sorry I ever consented to practise any deceit. I plainly see the truth
of what Dr Harrison hath often told me, that, if one steps ever so
little out of the ways of virtue and innocence, we know not how we may
slide, for all the ways of vice are a slippery descent."
"That sentiment," cries Mrs. Atkinson, "is much older than Dr
Harrison. _Omne vitium in proclivi est._"
"However new or old it is, I find it is true," cries Amelia--"But,
pray, tell me all, though I tremble to hear it."
"Indeed, my dear friend," said Mrs. Atkinson, "you are terrified at
nothing--indeed, indeed, you are too great a prude."
"I do not know what you mean by prudery," answered Amelia. "I shall
never be ashamed of the strictest regard to decency, to reputation,
and to that honour in which the dearest of all human creatures hath
his share. But, pray, give me the letter, there is an expression in it
which alarmed me when I read it. Pray, what doth he mean by his two
short minutes, and by purchasing the reality of such another
"Indeed, I know not what he means by two minutes," cries Mrs.
Atkinson, "unless he calls two hours so; for we were not together much
less. And as for any blessing he had, I am a stranger to it. Sure, I
hope you have a better opinion of me than to think I granted him the
"I don't know what favours you granted him, madam," answered Amelia
peevishly, "but I am sorry you granted him any in my name."
"Upon my word," cries Mrs. Atkinson, "you use me unkindly, and it is
an usage I did not expect at your hands, nor do I know that I have
deserved it. I am sure I went to the masquerade with no other view
than to oblige you, nor did I say or do anything there which any woman
who is not the most confounded prude upon earth would have started at
on a much less occasion than what induced me. Well, I declare upon my
soul then, that, if I was a man, rather than be married to a woman who
makes such a fuss with her virtue, I would wish my wife was without
such a troublesome companion."
"Very possibly, madam, these may be your sentiments," cries Amelia,
"and I hope they are the sentiments of your husband."
"I desire, madam," cries Mrs. Atkinson, "you would not reflect on my
husband. He is a worthy man and as brave a man as yours; yes, madam,
and he is now as much a captain."
She spoke those words with so loud a voice, that Atkinson, who was
accidentally going up-stairs, heard them; and, being surprized at the
angry tone of his wife's voice, he entered the room, and, with a look
of much astonishment, begged to know what was the matter.
"The matter, my dear," cries Mrs. Atkinson, "is that I have got a
commission for you, and your good old friend here is angry with me for
"I have not spirits enow," cries Amelia, "to answer you as you
deserve; and, if I had, you are below my anger."
"I do not know, Mrs. Booth," answered the other, "whence this great
superiority over me is derived; but, if your virtue gives it you, I
would have you to know, madam, that I despise a prude as much as you
can do a----."
"Though you have several times," cries Amelia, "insulted me with that
word, I scorn to give you any ill language in return. If you deserve
any bad appellation, you know it, without my telling it you."
Poor Atkinson, who was more frightened than he had ever been in his
life, did all he could to procure peace. He fell upon his knees to his
wife, and begged her to compose herself; for indeed she seemed to be
in a most furious rage.
While he was in this posture Booth, who had knocked so gently at the
door, for fear of disturbing his wife, that he had not been heard in
the tempest, came into the room. The moment Amelia saw him, the tears
which had been gathering for some time, burst in a torrent from her
eyes, which, however, she endeavoured to conceal with her
handkerchief. The entry of Booth turned all in an instant into a
silent picture, in which the first figure which struck the eyes of the
captain was the serjeant on his knees to his wife.
Booth immediately cried, "What's the meaning of this?" but received no
answer. He then cast his eyes towards Amelia, and, plainly discerning
her condition, he ran to her, and in a very tender phrase begged to
know what was the matter. To which she answered, "Nothing, my dear,
nothing of any consequence." He replied that he would know, and then
turned to Atkinson, and asked the same question.
Atkinson answered, "Upon my honour, sir, I know nothing of it.
Something hath passed between madam and my wife; but what it is I know
no more than your honour."
"Your wife," said Mrs. Atkinson, "hath used me cruelly ill, Mr. Booth.
If you must be satisfied, that is the whole matter."
Booth rapt out a great oath, and cried, "It is impossible; my wife is
not capable of using any one ill."
Amelia then cast herself upon her knees to her husband, and cried,
"For Heaven's sake do not throw yourself into a passion--some few
words have past--perhaps I may be in the wrong."
"Damnation seize me if I think so!" cries Booth. "And I wish whoever
hath drawn these tears from your eyes may pay it with as many drops of
their heart's blood."
"You see, madam," cries Mrs. Atkinson, "you have your bully to take
your part; so I suppose you will use your triumph."
Amelia made no answer, but still kept hold of Booth, who, in a violent
rage, cried out, "My Amelia triumph over such a wretch as thee!--What
can lead thy insolence to such presumption! Serjeant, I desire you'll
take that monster out of the room, or I cannot answer for myself."
The serjeant was beginning to beg his wife to retire (for he perceived
very plainly that she had, as the phrase is, taken a sip too much that
evening) when, with a rage little short of madness, she cried out,
"And do you tamely see me insulted in such a manner, now that you are
a gentleman, and upon a footing with him?"
"It is lucky for us all, perhaps," answered Booth, "that he is not my
"You lie, sirrah," said Mrs. Atkinson; "he is every way your equal; he
is as good a gentleman as yourself, and as much an officer. No, I
retract what I say; he hath not the spirit of a gentleman, nor of a
man neither, or he would not bear to see his wife insulted."
"Let me beg of you, my dear," cries the serjeant, "to go with me and
"Go with thee, thou wretch!" cries she, looking with the utmost
disdain upon him; "no, nor ever speak to thee more." At which words
she burst out of the room, and the serjeant, without saying a word,
A very tender and pathetic scene now passed between Booth and his
wife, in which, when she was a little composed, she related to him the
whole story. For, besides that it was not possible for her otherwise
to account for the quarrel which he had seen, Booth was now possessed
of the letter that lay on the floor.
Amelia, having emptied her mind to her husband, and obtained his
faithful promise that he would not resent the affair to my lord, was
pretty well composed, and began to relent a little towards Mrs.
Atkinson; but Booth was so highly incensed with her, that he declared
he would leave her house the next morning; which they both accordingly
did, and immediately accommodated themselves with convenient
apartments within a few doors of their friend the doctor.
_Containing some things worthy observation._
Notwithstanding the exchange of his lodgings, Booth did not forget to
send an excuse to Mr. Trent, of whose conversation he had taken a full
surfeit the preceding evening.
That day in his walks Booth met with an old brother-officer, who had
served with him at Gibraltar, and was on half-pay as well as himself.
He had not, indeed, had the fortune of being broke with his regiment,
as was Booth, but had gone out, as they call it, on half-pay as a
lieutenant, a rank to which he had risen in five-and-thirty years.
This honest gentleman, after some discourse with Booth, desired him to
lend him half-a-crown, which he assured him he would faithfully pay
the next day, when he was to receive some money for his sister. The
sister was the widow of an officer that had been killed in the sea-
service; and she and her brother lived together, on their joint stock,
out of which they maintained likewise an old mother and two of the
sister's children, the eldest of which was about nine years old. "You
must know," said the old lieutenant, "I have been disappointed this
morning by an old scoundrel, who wanted fifteen per cent, for
advancing my sister's pension; but I have now got an honest fellow who
hath promised it me to-morrow at ten per cent."
"And enough too, of all conscience," cries Booth.
"Why, indeed, I think so too," answered the other; "considering it is
sure to be paid one time or other. To say the truth, it is a little
hard the government doth not pay those pensions better; for my
sister's hath been due almost these two years; that is my way of
Booth answered he was ashamed to refuse him such a sum; but, "Upon my
soul," said he, "I have not a single halfpenny in my pocket; for I am
in a worse condition, if possible, than yourself; for I have lost all
my money, and, what is worse, I owe Mr. Trent, whom you remember at
Gibraltar, fifty pounds."
"Remember him! yes, d--n him! I remember him very well," cries the old
gentleman, "though he will not remember me. He is grown so great now
that he will not speak to his old acquaintance; and yet I should be
ashamed of myself to be great in such a manner."
"What manner do you mean?" cries Booth, a little eagerly.
"Why, by pimping," answered the other; "he is pimp in ordinary to my
Lord----, who keeps his family; or how the devil he lives else I don't
know, for his place is not worth three hundred pounds a year, and he
and his wife spend a thousand at least. But she keeps an assembly,
which, I believe, if you was to call a bawdy-house, you would not
misname it. But d--n me if I had not rather be an honest man, and walk
on foot, with holes in my shoes, as I do now, or go without a dinner,
as I and all my family will today, than ride in a chariot and feast by
such means. I am honest Bob Bound, and always will be; that's my way
of thinking; and there's no man shall call me otherwise; for if he
doth, I will knock him down for a lying rascal; that is my way of
"And a very good way of thinking too," cries Booth. "However, you
shall not want a dinner to-day; for if you will go home with me, I
will lend you a crown with all my heart."
"Lookee," said the old man, "if it be anywise inconvenient to you I
will not have it; for I will never rob another man of his dinner to
eat myself--that is my way of thinking."
"Pooh!" said Booth; "never mention such a trifle twice between you and
me. Besides, you say you can pay it me to-morrow; and I promise you
that will be the same thing."
They then walked together to Booth's lodgings, where Booth, from
Amelia's pocket, gave his friend double the little sum he had asked.
Upon which the old gentleman shook him heartily by the hand, and,
repeating his intention of paying him the next day, made the best of
his way to a butcher's, whence he carried off a leg of mutton to a
family that had lately kept Lent without any religious merit.
When he was gone Amelia asked her husband who that old gentleman was?
Booth answered he was one of the scandals of his country; that the
Duke of Marlborough had about thirty years before made him an ensign
from a private man for very particular merit; and that he had not long
since gone out of the army with a broken heart, upon having several
boys put over his head. He then gave her an account of his family,
which he had heard from the old gentleman in their way to his house,
and with which we have already in a concise manner acquainted the
"Good Heavens!" cries Amelia; "what are our great men made of? are
they in reality a distinct species from the rest of mankind? are they
born without hearts?"
"One would, indeed, sometimes," cries Booth, "be inclined to think so.
In truth, they have no perfect idea of those common distresses of
mankind which are far removed from their own sphere. Compassion, if
thoroughly examined, will, I believe, appear to be the fellow-feeling
only of men of the same rank and degree of life for one another, on
account of the evils to which they themselves are liable. Our
sensations are, I am afraid, very cold towards those who are at a
great distance from us, and whose calamities can consequently never
"I remember," cries Amelia, "a sentiment of Dr Harrison's, which he
told me was in some Latin book; _I am a man myself, and my heart is
interested in whatever can befal the rest of mankind_. That is the
sentiment of a good man, and whoever thinks otherwise is a bad one."
"I have often told you, my dear Emily," cries Booth, "that all men, as
well the best as the worst, act alike from the principle of self-love.
Where benevolence therefore is the uppermost passion, self-love
directs you to gratify it by doing good, and by relieving the
distresses of others; for they are then in reality your own. But where
ambition, avarice, pride, or any other passion, governs the man and
keeps his benevolence down, the miseries of all other men affect him
no more than they would a stock or a stone. And thus the man and his
statue have often the same degree of feeling or compassion."
"I have often wished, my dear," cries Amelia, "to hear you converse
with Dr Harrison on this subject; for I am sure he would convince you,
though I can't, that there are really such things as religion and
This was not the first hint of this kind which Amelia had given; for
she sometimes apprehended from his discourse that he was little better
than an atheist: a consideration which did not diminish her affection
for him, but gave her great uneasiness. On all such occasions Booth
immediately turned the discourse to some other subject; for, though he
had in other points a great opinion of his wife's capacity, yet as a
divine or a philosopher he did not hold her in a very respectable
light, nor did he lay any great stress on her sentiments in such
matters. He now, therefore, gave a speedy turn to the conversation,
and began to talk of affairs below the dignity of this history.
_Containing a very polite scene._
We will now look back to some personages who, though not the principal
characters in this history, have yet made too considerable a figure in
it to be abruptly dropt: and these are Colonel James and his lady.
This fond couple never met till dinner the day after the masquerade,
when they happened to be alone together in an antechamber before the
arrival of the rest of the company.
The conversation began with the colonel's saying, "I hope, madam, you
got no cold last night at the masquerade." To which the lady answered
by much the same kind of question.
They then sat together near five minutes without opening their mouths
to each other. At last Mrs. James said, "Pray, sir, who was that
masque with you in the dress of a shepherdess? How could you expose
yourself by walking with such a trollop in public; for certainly no
woman of any figure would appear there in such a dress? You know, Mr.
James, I never interfere with your affairs; but I would, methinks, for
my own sake, if I was you, preserve a little decency in the face of
"Upon my word," said James, "I do not know whom you mean. A woman in
such a dress might speak to me for aught I know. A thousand people
speak to me at a masquerade. But, I promise you, I spoke to no woman
acquaintance there that I know of. Indeed, I now recollect there was a
woman in a dress of a shepherdess; and there was another aukward thing
in a blue domino that plagued me a little, but I soon got rid of
"And I suppose you do not know the lady in the blue domino neither?"
"Not I, I assure you," said James. "But pray, why do you ask me these
questions? it looks so like jealousy."
"Jealousy!" cries she; "I jealous! no, Mr. James, I shall never be
jealous, I promise you, especially of the lady in the blue domino;
for, to my knowledge, she despises you of all human race."
"I am heartily glad of it," said James; "for I never saw such a tall
aukward monster in my life."
"That is a very cruel way of telling me you knew me."
"You, madam!" said James; "you was in a black domino."
"It is not so unusual a thing, I believe, you yourself know, to change
dresses. I own I did it to discover some of your tricks. I did not
think you could have distinguished the tall aukward monster so well."
"Upon my soul," said James, "if it was you I did not even suspect it;
so you ought not to be offended at what I have said ignorantly."
"Indeed, sir," cries she, "you cannot offend me by anything you can
say to my face; no, by my soul, I despise you too much. But I wish,
Mr. James, you would not make me the subject of your conversation
amongst your wenches. I desire I may not be afraid of meeting them for
fear of their insults; that I may not be told by a dirty trollop you
make me the subject of your wit amongst them, of which, it seems, I am
the favourite topic. Though you have married a tall aukward monster,
Mr. James, I think she hath a right to be treated, as your wife, with
respect at least: indeed, I shall never require any more; indeed, Mr.
James, I never shall. I think a wife hath a title to that."
"Who told you this, madam?" said James.
"Your slut," said she; "your wench, your shepherdess."
"By all that's sacred!" cries James, "I do not know who the
"By all that's sacred then," says she, "she told me so, and I am
convinced she told me truth. But I do not wonder at you denying it;
for that is equally consistent with honour as to behave in such a
manner to a wife who is a gentlewoman. I hope you will allow me that,
sir. Because I had not quite so great a fortune I hope you do not
think me beneath you, or that you did me any honour in marrying me. I
am come of as good a family as yourself, Mr. James; and if my brother
knew how you treated me he would not bear it."
"Do you threaten me with your brother, madam?" said James.
"I will not be ill-treated, sir," answered she.
"Nor I neither, madam," cries he; "and therefore I desire you will
prepare to go into the country to-morrow morning."
"Indeed, sir," said she, "I shall not."
"By heavens! madam, but you shall," answered he: "I will have my coach
at the door to-morrow morning by seven; and you shall either go into
it or be carried."
"I hope, sir, you are not in earnest," said she.
"Indeed, madam," answered he, "but I am in earnest, and resolved; and
into the country you go to-morrow."
"But why into the country," said she, "Mr. James? Why will you be so
barbarous to deny me the pleasures of the town?"
"Because you interfere with my pleasures," cried James, "which I have
told you long ago I would not submit to. It is enough for fond couples
to have these scenes together. I thought we had been upon a better
footing, and had cared too little for each other to become mutual
plagues. I thought you had been satisfied with the full liberty of
doing what you pleased."
"So I am; I defy you to say I have ever given you any uneasiness."
"How!" cries he; "have you not just now upbraided me with what you
heard at the masquerade?"
"I own," said she, "to be insulted by such a creature to my face stung
me to the soul. I must have had no spirit to bear the insults of such
an animal. Nay, she spoke of you with equal contempt. Whoever she is,
I promise you Mr. Booth is her favourite. But, indeed, she is unworthy
any one's regard, for she behaved like an arrant dragoon."
"Hang her!" cries the colonel, "I know nothing of her."
"Well, but, Mr. James, I am sure you will not send me into the
country. Indeed I will not go into the country."
"If you was a reasonable woman," cries James, "perhaps I should not
desire it. And on one consideration--"
"Come, name your consideration," said she.
"Let me first experience your discernment," said he. "Come, Molly, let
me try your judgment. Can you guess at any woman of your acquaintance
that I like?"
"Sure," said she, "it cannot be Mrs. Booth!"
"And why not Mrs. Booth?" answered he. "Is she not the finest woman in
"Very far from it," replied she, "in my opinion."
"Pray what faults," said he, "can you find in her?"
"In the first place," cries Mrs. James, "her eyes are too large; and
she hath a look with them that I don't know how to describe; but I
know I don't like it. Then her eyebrows are too large; therefore,
indeed, she doth all in her power to remedy this with her pincers; for
if it was not for those her eyebrows would be preposterous. Then her
nose, as well proportioned as it is, has a visible scar on one side.
Her neck, likewise, is too protuberant for the genteel size,
especially as she laces herself; for no woman, in my opinion, can be
genteel who is not entirely flat before. And, lastly, she is both too
short and too tall. Well, you may laugh, Mr. James, I know what I
mean, though I cannot well express it: I mean that she is too tall for
a pretty woman and too short for a fine woman. There is such a thing
as a kind of insipid medium--a kind of something that is neither one
thing nor another. I know not how to express it more clearly; but when
I say such a one is a pretty woman, a pretty thing, a pretty creature,
you know very well I mean a little woman; and when I say such a one is
a very fine woman, a very fine person of a woman, to be sure I must
mean a tall woman. Now a woman that is between both is certainly
neither the one nor the other."
"Well, I own," said he, "you have explained yourself with great
dexterity; but, with all these imperfections, I cannot help liking
"That you need not tell me, Mr. James," answered the lady, "for that I
knew before you desired me to invite her to your house. And
nevertheless, did not I, like an obedient wife, comply with your
desires? did I make any objection to the party you proposed for the
masquerade, though I knew very well your motive? what can the best of
wives do more? to procure you success is not in my power; and, if I
may give you my opinion, I believe you will never succeed with her."
"Is her virtue so very impregnable?" said he, with a sneer.
"Her virtue," answered Mrs. James, "hath the best guard in the world,
which is a most violent love for her husband."
"All pretence and affectation," cries the colonel. "It is impossible
she should have so little taste, or indeed so little delicacy, as to
like such a fellow."
"Nay, I do not much like him myself," said she. "He is not indeed at
all such a sort of man as I should like; but I thought he had been
generally allowed to be handsome."
"He handsome!" cries James. "What, with a nose like the proboscis of
an elephant, with the shoulders of a porter, and the legs of a
chairman? The fellow hath not in the least the look of a gentleman,
and one would rather think he had followed the plough than the camp
all his life."
"Nay, now I protest," said she, "I think you do him injustice. He is
genteel enough in my opinion. It is true, indeed, he is not quite of
the most delicate make; but, whatever he is, I am convinced she thinks
him the finest man in the world."
"I cannot believe it," answered he peevishly; "but will you invite her
to dinner here to-morrow?"
"With all my heart, and as often as you please," answered she. "But I
have some favours to ask of you. First, I must hear no more of going
out of town till I please."
"Very well," cries he.
"In the next place," said she, "I must have two hundred guineas within
these two or three days."
"Well, I agree to that too," answered he.
"And when I do go out of town, I go to Tunbridge--I insist upon that;
and from Tunbridge I go to Bath--positively to Bath. And I promise you
faithfully I will do all in my power to carry Mrs. Booth with me."
"On that condition," answered he, "I promise you you shall go wherever
you please. And, to shew you, I will even prevent your wishes by my
generosity; as soon as I receive the five thousand pounds which I am
going to take up on one of my estates, you shall have two hundred
She thanked him with a low curtesie; and he was in such good humour
that he offered to kiss her. To this kiss she coldly turned her cheek,
and then, flirting her fan, said, "Mr. James, there is one thing I
forgot to mention to you--I think you intended to get a commission in
some regiment abroad for this young man. Now if you would take my
advice, I know this will not oblige his wife; and, besides, I am
positive she resolves to go with him. But, if you can provide for him
in some regiment at home, I know she will dearly love you for it, and
when he is ordered to quarters she will be left behind; and Yorkshire
or Scotland, I think, is as good a distance as either of the Indies."
"Well, I will do what I can," answered James; "but I cannot ask
anything yet; for I got two places of a hundred a year each for two of
my footmen, within this fortnight."
At this instant a violent knock at the door signified the arrival of
their company, upon which both husband and wife put on their best
looks to receive their guests; and, from their behaviour to each other
during the rest of the day, a stranger might have concluded he had
been in company with the fondest couple in the universe.
Before we return to Booth we will relate a scene in which Dr Harrison
This good man, whilst in the country, happened to be in the
neighbourhood of a nobleman of his acquaintance, and whom he knew to
have very considerable interest with the ministers at that time.
The doctor, who was very well known to this nobleman, took this
opportunity of paying him a visit in order to recommend poor Booth to
his favour. Nor did he much doubt of his success, the favour he was to
ask being a very small one, and to which he thought the service of
Booth gave him so just a title.
The doctor's name soon gained him an admission to the presence of this
great man, who, indeed, received him with much courtesy and
politeness; not so much, perhaps, from any particular regard to the
sacred function, nor from any respect to the doctor's personal merit,
as from some considerations which the reader will perhaps guess anon.
After many ceremonials, and some previous discourse on different
subjects, the doctor opened the business, and told the great man that
he was come to him to solicit a favour for a young gentleman who had
been an officer in the army and was now on half-pay. "All the favour I
ask, my lord," said he, "is, that this gentleman may be again admitted
_ad_ _eundem_. I am convinced your lordship will do me the justice to
think I would not ask for a worthless person; but, indeed, the young
man I mean hath very extraordinary merit. He was at the siege of
Gibraltar, in which he behaved with distinguished bravery, and was
dangerously wounded at two several times in the service of his
country. I will add that he is at present in great necessity, and hath
a wife and several children, for whom he hath no other means of
providing; and, if it will recommend him farther to your lordship's
favour, his wife, I believe, is one of the best and worthiest of all
"As to that, my dear doctor," cries the nobleman, "I shall make no
doubt. Indeed any service I shall do the gentleman will be upon your
account. As to necessity, it is the plea of so many that it is
impossible to serve them all. And with regard to the personal merit of
these inferior officers, I believe I need not tell you that it is very
little regarded. But if you recommend him, let the person be what he
will, I am convinced it will be done; for I know it is in your power
at present to ask for a greater matter than this."
"I depend entirely upon your lordship," answered the doctor.
"Indeed, my worthy friend," replied the lord, "I will not take a merit
to myself which will so little belong to me. You are to depend on
yourself. It falls out very luckily too at this time, when you have it
in your power so greatly to oblige us."
"What, my lord, is in my power?" cries the doctor.
"You certainly know," answered his lordship, "how hard Colonel
Trompington is run at your town in the election of a mayor; they tell
me it will be a very near thing unless you join us. But we know it is
in your power to do the business, and turn the scale. I heard your
name mentioned the other day on that account, and I know you may have
anything in reason if you will give us your interest."
"Sure, my lord," cries the doctor, "you are not in earnest in asking
my interest for the colonel?"
"Indeed I am," answered the peer; "why should you doubt it?"
"For many reasons," answered the doctor. "First, I am an old friend
and acquaintance of Mr. Fairfield, as your lordship, I believe, very
well knows. The little interest, therefore, that I have, you may be
assured, will go in his favour. Indeed, I do not concern myself deeply
in these affairs, for I do not think it becomes my cloth so to do.
But, as far as I think it decent to interest myself, it will certainly
be on the side of Mr. Fairfield. Indeed, I should do so if I was
acquainted with both the gentlemen only by reputation; the one being a
neighbouring gentleman of a very large estate, a very sober and
sensible man, of known probity and attachment to the true interest of
his country; the other is a mere stranger, a boy, a soldier of
fortune, and, as far as I can discern from the little conversation I
have had with him, of a very shallow capacity, and no education."
"No education, my dear friend!" cries the nobleman. "Why, he hath been
educated in half the courts of Europe."
"Perhaps so, my lord," answered the doctor; "but I shall always be so
great a pedant as to call a man of no learning a man of no education.
And, from my own knowledge, I can aver that I am persuaded there is
scarce a foot-soldier in the army who is more illiterate than the
"Why, as to Latin and Greek, you know," replied the lord, "they are
not much required in the army."
"It may be so," said the doctor. "Then let such persons keep to their
own profession. It is a very low civil capacity indeed for which an
illiterate man can be qualified. And, to speak a plain truth, if your
lordship is a friend to the colonel, you would do well to advise him
to decline an attempt in which I am certain he hath no probability of
"Well, sir," said the lord, "if you are resolved against us, I must
deal as freely with you, and tell you plainly I cannot serve you in
your affair. Nay, it will be the best thing I can do to hold my
tongue; for, if I should mention his name with your recommendation
after what you have said, he would perhaps never get provided for as
long as he lives."
"Is his own merit, then, my lord, no recommendation?" cries the
"My dear, dear sir," cries the other, "what is the merit of a
"Surely, my lord," cries the doctor, "it is the merit which should
recommend him to the post of a subaltern officer. And it is a merit
which will hereafter qualify him to serve his country in a higher
capacity. And I do assure of this young man, that he hath not only a
good heart but a good head too. And I have been told by those who are
judges that he is, for his age, an excellent officer."
"Very probably!" cries my lord. "And there are abundance with the same
merit and the same qualifications who want a morsel of bread for
themselves and their families."
"It is an infamous scandal on the nation," cries the doctor; "and I am
heartily sorry it can be said even with a colour of truth."
"How can it be otherwise?" says the peer. "Do you think it is possible
to provide for all men of merit?"
"Yes, surely do I," said the doctor; "and very easily too."
"How, pray?" cries the lord. "Upon my word, I shall be glad to know."
"Only by not providing for those who have none. The men of merit in
any capacity are not, I am afraid, so extremely numerous that we need
starve any of them, unless we wickedly suffer a set of worthless
fellows to eat their bread."
"This is all mere Utopia," cries his lordship; "the chimerical system
of Plato's commonwealth, with which we amused ourselves at the
university; politics which are inconsistent with the state of human
"Sure, my lord," cries the doctor, "we have read of states where such
doctrines have been put in practice. What is your lordship's opinion
of Rome in the earlier ages of the commonwealth, of Sparta, and even
of Athens itself in some periods of its history?"
"Indeed, doctor," cries the lord, "all these notions are obsolete and
long since exploded. To apply maxims of government drawn from the
Greek and Roman histories to this nation is absurd and impossible.
But, if you will have Roman examples, fetch them from those times of
the republic that were most like our own. Do you not know, doctor,
that this is as corrupt a nation as ever existed under the sun? And
would you think of governing such a people by the strict principles of
honesty and morality?"
"If it be so corrupt," said the doctor, "I think it is high time to
amend it: or else it is easy to foresee that Roman and British liberty
will have the same fate; for corruption in the body politic as
naturally tends to dissolution as in the natural body."
"I thank you for your simile," cries my lord; "for, in the natural
body, I believe, you will allow there is the season of youth, the
season of manhood, and the season of old age; and that, when the last
of these arrives, it will be an impossible attempt by all the means of
art to restore the body again to its youth, or to the vigour of its
middle age. The same periods happen to every great kingdom. In its
youth it rises by arts and arms to power and prosperity. This it
enjoys and flourishes with a while; and then it may be said to be in
the vigour of its age, enriched at home with all the emoluments and
blessings of peace, and formidable abroad with all the terrors of war.
At length this very prosperity introduces corruption, and then comes
on its old age. Virtue and learning, art and industry, decay by
degrees. The people sink into sloth and luxury and prostitution. It is
enervated at home--becomes contemptible abroad; and such indeed is its
misery and wretchedness, that it resembles a man in the last decrepit
stage of life, who looks with unconcern at his approaching
"This is a melancholy picture indeed," cries the doctor; "and, if the
latter part of it can be applied to our case, I see nothing but
religion, which would have prevented this decrepit state of the
constitution, should prevent a man of spirit from hanging himself out
of the way of so wretched a contemplation."
"Why so?" said the peer; "why hang myself, doctor? Would it not be
wiser, think you, to make the best of your time, and the most you can,
in such a nation?"
"And is religion, then, to be really laid out of the question?" cries
"If I am to speak my own opinion, sir," answered the peer, "you know I
shall answer in the negative. But you are too well acquainted with the
world to be told that the conduct of politicians is not formed upon
the principles of religion."
"I am very sorry for it," cries the doctor; "but I will talk to them
then of honour and honesty; this is a language which I hope they will
at least pretend to understand. Now to deny a man the preferment which
he merits, and to give it to another man who doth not merit it, is a
manifest act of injustice, and is consequently inconsistent with both
honour and honesty. Nor is it only an act of injustice to the man
himself, but to the public, for whose good principally all public
offices are, or ought to be, instituted. Now this good can never be
completed nor obtained but by employing all persons according to their
capacities. Wherever true merit is liable to be superseded by favour
and partiality, and men are intrusted with offices without any regard
to capacity or integrity, the affairs of that state will always be in
a deplorable situation. Such, as Livy tells us, was the state of Capua
a little before its final destruction, and the consequence your
lordship well knows. But, my lord, there is another mischief which
attends this kind of injustice, and that is, it hath a manifest
tendency to destroy all virtue and all ability among the people, by
taking away all that encouragement and incentive which should promote
emulation and raise men to aim at excelling in any art, science, or
profession. Nor can anything, my lord, contribute more to render a
nation contemptible among its neighbours; for what opinion can other
countries have of the councils, or what terror can they conceive of
the arms, of such a people? and it was chiefly owing to the avoiding
this error that Oliver Cromwell carried the reputation of England
higher than it ever was at any other time. I will add only one
argument more, and that is founded on the most narrow and selfish
system of politics; and this is, that such a conduct is sure to create
universal discontent and grumbling at home; for nothing can bring men
to rest satisfied, when they see others preferred to them, but an
opinion that they deserved that elevation; for, as one of the greatest
men this country ever produced observes,
One worthless man that gains what he pretends
Disgusts a thousand unpretending friends.
With what heart-burnings then must any nation see themselves obliged
to contribute to the support of a set of men of whose incapacity to
serve them they are well apprized, and who do their country a double
diskindness, by being themselves employed in posts to which they are
unequal, and by keeping others out of those employments for which they
"And do you really think, doctor," cries the nobleman, "that any
minister could support himself in this country upon such principles as
you recommend? Do you think he would be able to baffle an opposition
unless he should oblige his friends by conferring places often
contrary to his own inclinations and his own opinion?"
"Yes, really do I," cries the doctor. "Indeed, if a minister is
resolved to make good his confession in the liturgy, _by leaving
undone all those things which he ought to have done, and by doing all
those things which he ought not to have done,_ such a minister, I
grant, will be obliged to baffle opposition, as you are pleased to
term it, by these arts; for, as Shakespeare somewhere says,
Things ill begun strengthen themselves by ill.
But if, on the contrary, he will please to consider the true interest
of his country, and that only in great and national points; if he will
engage his country in neither alliances nor quarrels but where it is
really interested; if he will raise no money but what is wanted, nor
employ any civil or military officers but what are useful, and place
in these employments men of the highest integrity, and of the greatest
abilities; if he will employ some few of his hours to advance our
trade, and some few more to regulate our domestic government; if he
would do this, my lord, I will answer for it, he shall either have no
opposition to baffle, or he shall baffle it by a fair appeal to his
conduct. Such a minister may, in the language of the law, put himself
on his country when he pleases, and he shall come off with honour and
"And do you really believe, doctor," cries the peer, "there ever was
such a minister, or ever will be?"
"Why not, my lord?" answered the doctor. "It requires no very
extraordinary parts, nor any extraordinary degree of virtue. He need
practise no great instances of self-denial. He shall have power, and
honour, and riches, and, perhaps, all in a much greater degree than he
can ever acquire by pursuing a contrary system. He shall have more of
each and much more of safety."
"Pray, doctor," said my lord," let me ask you one simple question. Do
you really believe any man upon earth was ever a rogue out of choice?"
"Really, my lord," says the doctor, "I am ashamed to answer in the
affirmative; and yet I am afraid experience would almost justify me if
I should. Perhaps the opinion of the world may sometimes mislead men
to think those measures necessary which in reality are not so. Or the
truth may be, that a man of good inclinations finds his office filled
with such corruption by the iniquity of his predecessors, that he may
despair of being capable of purging it; and so sits down contented, as
Augeas did with the filth of his stables, not because he thought them
the better, or that such filth was really necessary to a stable, but
that he despaired of sufficient force to cleanse them."
"I will ask you one question more, and I have done," said the
nobleman. "Do you imagine that if any minister was really as good as
you would have him, that the people in general would believe that he
"Truly, my lord," said the doctor, "I think they may be justified in
not believing too hastily. But I beg leave to answer your lordship's
question by another. Doth your lordship believe that the people of
Greenland, when they see the light of the sun and feel his warmth,
after so long a season of cold and darkness, will really be persuaded
that he shines upon them?"
My lord smiled at the conceit; and then the doctor took an opportunity
to renew his suit, to which his lordship answered, "He would promise
nothing, and could give him no hopes of success; but you may be
assured," said he, with a leering countenance, "I shall do him all the
service in my power." A language which the doctor well understood; and
soon after took a civil, but not a very ceremonious leave.
_The history of Mr. Trent._
We will now return to Mr. Booth and his wife. The former had spent his
time very uneasily ever since he had discovered what sort of man he
was indebted to; but, lest he should forget it, Mr. Trent thought now
proper to remind him in the following letter, which he read the next
morning after he had put off the appointment.
"SIR,--I am sorry the necessity of my affairs obliges me to mention
that small sum which I had the honour to lend you the other night at
play; and which I shall be much obliged to you if you will let me have
some time either to-day or to-morrow. I am, sir, Your most obedient,
most humble servant, GEORGE TRENT."
This letter a little surprized Booth, after the genteel, and, indeed,
as it appeared, generous behaviour of Trent. But lest it should have
the same effect upon the reader, we will now proceed to account for
this, as well as for some other phenomena that have appeared in this
history, and which, perhaps, we shall be forgiven for not having
opened more largely before.
Mr. Trent then was a gentleman possibly of a good family, for it was
not certain whence he sprung on the father's side. His mother, who was
the only parent he ever knew or heard of, was a single gentlewoman,
and for some time carried on the trade of a milliner in Covent-garden.
She sent her son, at the age of eight years old, to a charity-school,
where he remained till he was of the age of fourteen, without making
any great proficiency in learning. Indeed it is not very probable he
should; for the master, who, in preference to a very learned and
proper man, was chosen by a party into this school, the salary of
which was upwards of a hundred pounds a-year, had himself never
travelled through the Latin Grammar, and was, in truth, a most
At the age of fifteen Mr. Trent was put clerk to an attorney, where he
remained a very short time before he took leave of his master; rather,
indeed, departed without taking leave; and, having broke open his
mother's escritore, and carried off with him all the valuable effects
he there found, to the amount of about fifty pounds, he marched off to
sea, and went on board a merchantman, whence he was afterwards pressed
into a man of war.
In this service he continued above three years; during which time he
behaved so ill in his moral character that he twice underwent a very
severe discipline for thefts in which he was detected; but at the same
time, he behaved so well as a sailor in an engagement with some
pirates, that he wiped off all former scores, and greatly recommended
himself to his captain.
At his return home, he being then about twenty years of age, he found
that the attorney had in his absence married his mother, had buried
her, and secured all her effects, to the amount, as he was informed,
of about fifteen hundred pound. Trent applied to his stepfather, but
to no purpose; the attorney utterly disowned him, nor would he suffer
him to come a second time within his doors.
It happened that the attorney had, by a former wife, an only daughter,
a great favourite, who was about the same age with Trent himself, and
had, during his residence at her father's house, taken a very great
liking to this young fellow, who was extremely handsome and perfectly
well made. This her liking was not, during his absence, so far
extinguished but that it immediately revived on his return. Of this
she took care to give Mr. Trent proper intimation; for she was not one
of those backward and delicate ladies who can die rather than make the
first overture. Trent was overjoyed at this, and with reason, for she
was a very lovely girl in her person, the only child of a rich father;
and the prospect of so complete a revenge on the attorney charmed him
above all the rest. To be as short in the matter as the parties, a
marriage was soon consummated between them.
The attorney at first raged and was implacable; but at last fondness
for his daughter so far overcame resentment that he advanced a sum of
money to buy his son-in-law (for now he acknowledged him as such) an
ensign's commission in a marching regiment then ordered to Gibraltar;
at which place the attorney heartily hoped that Trent might be knocked
on the head; for in that case he thought he might marry his daughter
more agreeably to his own ambition and to her advantage.
The regiment into which Trent purchased was the same with that in
which Booth likewise served; the one being an ensign, and the other a
lieutenant, in the two additional companies.
Trent had no blemish in his military capacity. Though he had had but
an indifferent education, he was naturally sensible and genteel, and
Nature, as we have said, had given him a very agreeable person. He was
likewise a very bold fellow, and, as he really behaved himself every
way well enough while he was at Gibraltar, there was some degree of
intimacy between him and Booth.
When the siege was over, and the additional companies were again
reduced, Trent returned to his wife, who received him with great joy
and affection. Soon after this an accident happened which proved the
utter ruin of his father-in-law, and ended in breaking his heart. This
was nothing but making a mistake pretty common at this day, of writing
another man's name to a deed instead of his own. In truth this matter
was no less than what the law calls forgery, and was just then made
capital by an act of parliament. From this offence, indeed, the
attorney was acquitted, by not admitting the proof of the party, who
was to avoid his own deed by his evidence, and therefore no witness,
according to those excellent rules called the law of evidence; a law
very excellently calculated for the preservation of the lives of his
majesty's roguish subjects, and most notably used for that purpose.
But though by common law the attorney was honourably acquitted, yet,
as common sense manifested to every one that he was guilty, he
unhappily lost his reputation, and of consequence his business; the
chagrin of which latter soon put an end to his life.
This prosecution had been attended with a very great expence; for,
besides the ordinary costs of avoiding the gallows by the help of the
law, there was a very high article, of no less than a thousand pounds,
paid down to remove out of the way a witness against whom there was no
legal exception. The poor gentleman had besides suffered some losses
in business; so that, to the surprize of all his acquaintance, when
his debts were paid there remained no more than a small estate of
fourscore pounds a-year, which he settled upon his daughter, far out
of the reach of her husband, and about two hundred pounds in money.
The old gentleman had not long been in his grave before Trent set
himself to consider seriously of the state of his affairs. He had
lately begun to look on his wife with a much less degree of liking and
desire than formerly; for he was one of those who think too much of
one thing is good for nothing. Indeed, he had indulged these
speculations so far, that I believe his wife, though one of the
prettiest women in town, was the last subject that he would have chose
for any amorous dalliance.
Many other persons, however, greatly differed from him in his opinion.
Amongst the rest was the illustrious peer of amorous memory. This
noble peer, having therefore got a view of Mrs. Trent one day in the
street, did, by means of an emissary then with him, make himself
acquainted with her lodging, to which he immediately laid siege in
form, setting himself down in a lodging directly opposite to her, from
whence the battery of ogles began to play the very next morning.
This siege had not continued long before the governor of the garrison
became sufficiently apprized of all the works which were carrying on,
and, having well reconnoitered the enemy, and discovered who he was,
notwithstanding a false name and some disguise of his person, he
called a council of war within his own breast. In fact, to drop all
allegory, he began to consider whether his wife was not really a more
valuable possession than he had lately thought her. In short, as he
had been disappointed in her fortune, he now conceived some hopes of
turning her beauty itself into a fortune.
Without communicating these views to her, he soon scraped an
acquaintance with his opposite neighbour by the name which he there
usurped, and counterfeited an entire ignorance of his real name and
title. On this occasion Trent had his disguise likewise, for he
affected the utmost simplicity; of which affectation, as he was a very
artful fellow, he was extremely capable.
The peer fell plumb into this snare; and when, by the simplicity, as
he imagined, of the husband, he became acquainted with the wife, he
was so extravagantly charmed with her person, that he resolved,
whatever was the cost or the consequence, he would possess her.
His lordship, however, preserved some caution in his management of
this affair; more, perhaps, than was necessary. As for the husband,
none was requisite, for he knew all he could; and, with regard to the
wife herself, as she had for some time perceived the decrease of her
husband's affection (for few women are, I believe, to be imposed upon
in that matter), she was not displeased to find the return of all that
complaisance and endearment, of those looks and languishments, from
another agreeable person, which she had formerly received from Trent,
and which she now found she should receive from him no longer.
My lord, therefore, having been indulged with as much opportunity as
he could wish from Trent, and having received rather more
encouragement than he could well have hoped from the lady, began to
prepare all matters for a storm, when luckily, Mr. Trent declaring he
must go out of town for two days, he fixed on the first day of his
departure as the time of carrying his design into execution.
And now, after some debate with himself in what manner he should
approach his love, he at last determined to do it in his own person;
for he conceived, and perhaps very rightly, that the lady, like
Semele, was not void of ambition, and would have preferred Jupiter in
all his glory to the same deity in the disguise of an humble shepherd.
He dressed himself, therefore, in the richest embroidery of which he
was master, and appeared before his mistress arrayed in all the
brightness of peerage; a sight whose charms she had not the power to
resist, and the consequences are only to be imagined. In short, the
same scene which Jupiter acted with his above-mentioned mistress of
old was more than beginning, when Trent burst from the closet into
which he had conveyed himself, and unkindly interrupted the action.
His lordship presently run to his sword; but Trent, with great
calmness, answered, "That, as it was very well known he durst fight,
he should not draw his sword on this occasion; for sure," says he, "my
lord, it would be the highest imprudence in me to kill a man who is
now become so considerably my debtor." At which words he fetched a
person from the closet, who had been confined with him, telling him he
had done his business, and might now, if he pleased, retire.
It would be tedious here to amuse the reader with all that passed on
the present occasion; the rage and confusion of the wife, or the
perplexity in which my lord was involved. We will omit therefore all
such matters, and proceed directly to business, as Trent and his
lordship did soon after. And in the conclusion my lord stipulated to
pay a good round sum, and to provide Mr. Trent with a good place on
the first opportunity.
On the side of Mr. Trent were stipulated absolute remission of all
past, and full indulgence for the time to come.
Trent now immediately took a house at the polite end of the town,
furnished it elegantly, and set up his equipage, rigged out both
himself and his wife with very handsome cloaths, frequented all public
places where he could get admission, pushed himself into acquaintance,
and his wife soon afterwards began to keep an assembly, or, in the
fashionable phrase, to be at home once a-week; when, by my lord's
assistance, she was presently visited by most men of the first rank,
and by all such women of fashion as are not very nice in their
My lord's amour with this lady lasted not long; for, as we have before
observed, he was the most inconstant of all human race. Mrs. Trent's
passion was not however of that kind which leads to any very deep
resentment of such fickleness. Her passion, indeed, was principally
founded upon interest; so that foundation served to support another
superstructure; and she was easily prevailed upon, as well as her
husband, to be useful to my lord in a capacity which, though very
often exerted in the polite world, hath not as yet, to my great
surprize, acquired any polite name, or, indeed, any which is not too
coarse to be admitted in this history.
After this preface, which we thought necessary to account for a
character of which some of my country and collegiate readers might
possibly doubt the existence, I shall proceed to what more immediately
regards Mrs. Booth. The reader may be pleased to remember that Mr.
Trent was present at the assembly to which Booth and his wife were
carried by Mrs. James, and where Amelia was met by the noble peer.
His lordship, seeing there that Booth and Trent were old acquaintance,
failed not, to use the language of sportsmen, to put Trent upon the
scent of Amelia. For this purpose that gentleman visited Booth the
very next day, and had pursued him close ever since. By his means,
therefore, my lord learned that Amelia was to be at the masquerade, to
which place she was dogged by Trent in a sailor's jacket, who, meeting
my lord, according to agreement, at the entrance of the opera-house,
like the four-legged gentleman of the same vocation, made a dead
point, as it is called, at the game.
My lord was so satisfied and delighted with his conversation at the
masquerade with the supposed Amelia, and the encouragement which in
reality she had given him, that, when he saw Trent the next morning,
he embraced him with great fondness, gave him a bank note of a hundred
pound, and promised him both the Indies on his success, of which he
began now to have no manner of doubt.
The affair that happened at the gaming-table was likewise a scheme of
Trent's, on a hint given by my lord to him to endeavour to lead Booth
into some scrape or distress; his lordship promising to pay whatever
expense Trent might be led into by such means. Upon his lordship's
credit, therefore, the money lent to Booth was really advanced. And
hence arose all that seeming generosity and indifference as to the
payment; Trent being satisfied with the obligation conferred on Booth,
by means of which he hoped to effect his purpose.
But now the scene was totally changed; for Mrs. Atkinson, the morning
after the quarrel, beginning seriously to recollect that she had
carried the matter rather too far, and might really injure Amelia's
reputation, a thought to which the warm pursuit of her own interest
had a good deal blinded her at the time, resolved to visit my lord
himself, and to let him into the whole story; for, as she had
succeeded already in her favourite point, she thought she had no
reason to fear any consequence of the discovery. This resolution she
Trent came to attend his lordship, just after Mrs. Atkinson had left
him. He found the peer in a very ill humour, and brought no news to
comfort or recruit his spirits; for he had himself just received a
billet from Booth, with an excuse for himself and his wife from
accepting the invitation at Trent's house that evening, where matters
had been previously concerted for their entertainment, and when his
lordship was by accident to drop into the room where Amelia was, while
Booth was to be engaged at play in another.
And now after much debate, and after Trent had acquainted my lord with
the wretched situation of Booth's circumstances, it was resolved that
Trent should immediately demand his money of Booth, and upon his not
paying it, for they both concluded it impossible he should pay it, to
put the note which Trent had for the money in suit against him by the
genteel means of paying it away to a nominal third person; and this
they both conceived must end immediately in the ruin of Booth, and,
consequently, in the conquest of Amelia.
In this project, and with this hope, both my lord and his setter, or
(if the sportsmen please) setting-dog, both greatly exulted; and it
was next morning executed, as we have already seen.
_Containing some distress._
Trent's letter drove Booth almost to madness. To be indebted to such a
fellow at any rate had stuck much in his stomach, and had given him
very great uneasiness; but to answer this demand in any other manner
than by paying the money was absolutely what he could not bear. Again,
to pay this money, he very plainly saw there was but one way, and this
was, by stripping his wife, not only of every farthing, but almost of
every rag she had in the world; a thought so dreadful that it chilled
his very soul with horror: and yet pride, at last, seemed to represent
this as the lesser evil of the two.
But how to do this was still a question. It was not sure, at least he
feared it was not, that Amelia herself would readily consent to this;
and so far from persuading her to such a measure, he could not bear
even to propose it. At length his determination was to acquaint his
wife with the whole affair, and to ask her consent, by way of asking
her advice; for he was well assured she could find no other means of
extricating him out of his dilemma. This he accordingly did,
representing the affair as bad as he could; though, indeed, it was
impossible for him to aggravate the real truth.
Amelia heard him patiently, without once interrupting him. When he had
finished, she remained silent some time: indeed, the shock she
received from this story almost deprived her of the power of speaking.
At last she answered, "Well, my dear, you ask my advice; I certainly
can give you no other than that the money must be paid."
"But how must it be paid?" cries he. "O, heavens! thou sweetest
creature! what, not once upbraid me for bringing this ruin on thee?"
"Upbraid you, my dear!" says she; "would to heaven I could prevent
your upbraiding yourself. But do not despair. I will endeavour by some
means or other to get you the money."
"Alas! my dear love," cries Booth, "I know the only way by which you
can raise it. How can I consent to that? do you forget the fears you
so lately expressed of what would be our wretched condition when our
little all was mouldered away? O my Amelia! they cut my very heart-
strings when you spoke then; for I had then lost this little all.
Indeed, I assure you, I have not played since, nor ever will more."
"Keep that resolution," said she, "my dear, and I hope we shall yet
recover the past."--At which words, casting her eyes on the children,
the tears burst from her eyes, and she cried--"Heaven will, I hope,
provide for us."
A pathetic scene now ensued between the husband and wife, which would
not, perhaps, please many readers to see drawn at too full a length.
It is sufficient to say that this excellent woman not only used her
utmost endeavours to stifle and conceal her own concern, but said and
did everything in her power to allay that of her husband.
Booth was, at this time, to meet a person whom we have formerly
mentioned in the course of our history. This gentleman had a place in
the War-office, and pretended to be a man of great interest and
consequence; by which means he did not only receive great respect and
court from the inferiour officers, but actually bubbled several of
their money, by undertaking to do them services which, in reality,
were not within his power. In truth, I have known few great men who
have not been beset with one or more such fellows as these, through
whom the inferior part of mankind are obliged to make their court to
the great men themselves; by which means, I believe, principally,
persons of real merit have often been deterred from the attempt; for
these subaltern coxcombs ever assume an equal state with their
masters, and look for an equal degree of respect to be paid to them;
to which men of spirit, who are in every light their betters, are not
easily brought to submit. These fellows, indeed, themselves have a
jealous eye towards all great abilities, and are sure, to the utmost
of their power, to keep all who are so endowed from the presence of
their masters. They use their masters as bad ministers have sometimes
used a prince--they keep all men of merit from his ears, and daily
sacrifice his true honour and interest to their own profit and their
As soon as Booth was gone to his appointment with this man, Amelia
immediately betook herself to her business with the highest
resolution. She packed up, not only her own little trinkets, and those
of the children, but the greatest part of her own poor cloathes (for
she was but barely provided), and then drove in a hackney-coach to the
same pawnbroker's who had before been recommended to her by Mrs.
Atkinson, who advanced her the money she desired.
Being now provided with her sum, she returned well pleased home, and
her husband coming in soon after, she with much chearfulness delivered
him all the money.
Booth was so overjoyed with the prospect of discharging his debt to
Trent, that he did not perfectly reflect on the distress to which his
family was now reduced. The good-humour which appeared in the
countenance of Amelia was, perhaps, another help to stifle those
reflexions; but above all, were the assurances he had received from
the great man, whom he had met at a coffee-house, and who had promised
to do him all the service in his power; which several half-pay
subaltern officers assured him was very considerable.
With this comfortable news he acquainted his wife, who either was, or
seemed to be, extremely well pleased with it. And now he set out with
the money in his pocket to pay his friend Trent, who unluckily for him
happened not to be at home.
On his return home he met his old friend the lieutenant, who
thankfully paid him his crown, and insisted on his going with him and
taking part of a bottle. This invitation was so eager and pressing,
that poor Booth, who could not resist much importunity, complied.
While they were over this bottle Booth acquainted his friend with the
promises he had received that afternoon at the coffee-house, with
which the old gentleman was very well pleased: "For I have heard,"
says he, "that gentleman hath very powerful interest;" but he informed
him likewise that he had heard that the great man must be touched, for
that he never did anything without touching. Of this, indeed, the
great man himself had given some oblique hints, by saying, with great
sagacity and slyness, that he knew where fifty pound might be
deposited to much advantage.
Booth answered that he would very readily advance a small sum if he
had it in his power, but that at present it was not so, for that he
had no more in the world than the sum of fifty pounds, which he owed
Trent, and which he intended to pay him the next morning.
"It is very right, undoubtedly, to pay your debts," says the old
gentleman;" but sure, on such an occasion, any man but the rankest
usurer would be contented to stay a little while for his money; and it
will be only a little while I am convinced; for, if you deposit this
sum in the great man's hands, I make no doubt but you will succeed
immediately in getting your commission; and then I will help you to a
method of taking up such a sum as this." The old gentleman persisted
in this advice, and backed it with every argument he could invent,
declaring, as was indeed true, that he gave the same advice which he
would pursue was the case his own.
Booth long rejected the opinion of his friend, till, as they had not
argued with dry lips, he became heated with wine, and then at last the
old gentleman succeeded. Indeed, such was his love, either for Booth
or for his own opinion, and perhaps for both, that he omitted nothing
in his power. He even endeavoured to palliate the character of Trent,
and unsaid half what he had before said of that gentleman. In the end,
he undertook to make Trent easy, and to go to him the very next
morning for that purpose.
Poor Booth at last yielded, though with the utmost difficulty. Indeed,
had he known quite as much of Trent as the reader doth, no motive
whatsoever would have prevailed on him to have taken the old
_Containing more wormwood and other ingredients._
In the morning Booth communicated the matter to Amelia, who told him
she would not presume to advise him in an affair of which he was so
much the better judge.
While Booth remained in a doubtful state what conduct to pursue Bound
came to make him a visit, and informed him that he had been at Trent's
house, but found him not at home, adding that he would pay him a
second visit that very day, and would not rest till he found him.
Booth was ashamed to confess his wavering resolution in an affair in
which he had been so troublesome to his friend; he therefore dressed
himself immediately, and together they both went to wait on the little
great man, to whom Booth now hoped to pay his court in the most
Bound had been longer acquainted with the modern methods of business
than Booth; he advised his friend, therefore, to begin with tipping
(as it is called) the great man's servant. He did so, and by that
means got speedy access to the master.
The great man received the money, not as a gudgeon doth a bait, but as
a pike receives a poor gudgeon into his maw. To say the truth, such
fellows as these may well be likened to that voracious fish, who
fattens himself by devouring all the little inhabitants of the river.
As soon as the great man had pocketed the cash, he shook Booth by the
hand, and told him he would be sure to slip no opportunity of serving
him, and would send him word as soon as any offered.
Here I shall stop one moment, and so, perhaps, will my good-natured
reader; for surely it must be a hard heart which is not affected with
reflecting on the manner in which this poor little sum was raised, and
on the manner in which it was bestowed. A worthy family, the wife and
children of a man who had lost his blood abroad in the service of his
country, parting with their little all, and exposed to cold and
hunger, to pamper such a fellow as this!
And if any such reader as I mention should happen to be in reality a
great man, and in power, perhaps the horrour of this picture may
induce him to put a final end to this abominable practice of touching,
as it is called; by which, indeed, a set of leeches are permitted to
suck the blood of the brave and the indigent, of the widow and the
Booth now returned home, where he found his wife with Mrs. James.
Amelia had, before the arrival of her husband, absolutely refused Mrs.
James's invitation to dinner the next day; but when Booth came in the
lady renewed her application, and that in so pressing a manner, that
Booth seconded her; for, though he had enough of jealousy in his
temper, yet such was his friendship to the colonel, and such his
gratitude to the obligations which he had received from him, that his
own unwillingness to believe anything of him, co-operating with
Amelia's endeavours to put everything in the fairest light, had
brought him to acquit his friend of any ill design. To this, perhaps,
the late affair concerning my lord had moreover contributed; for it
seems to me that the same passion cannot much energize on two
different objects at one and the same time: an observation which, I
believe, will hold as true with regard to the cruel passions of
jealousy and anger as to the gentle passion of love, in which one
great and mighty object is sure to engage the whole passion.
When Booth grew importunate, Amelia answered, "My dear, I should not
refuse you whatever was in my power; but this is absolutely out of my
power; for since I must declare the truth, I cannot dress myself."
"Why so?" said Mrs. James." I am sure you are in good health."
"Is there no other impediment to dressing but want of health, madam?"
"Upon my word, none that I know of," replied Mrs. James.
"What do you think of want of cloathes, madam?" said Amelia.
"Ridiculous!" cries Mrs. James. "What need have you to dress yourself
out? You will see nobody but our own family, and I promise you I don't
expect it. A plain night-gown will do very well."
"But if I must be plain with you, madam," said Amelia, "I have no
other cloathes but what I have now on my back. I have not even a clean
shift in the world; for you must know, my dear," said she to Booth,
"that little Betty is walked off this morning, and hath carried all my
linen with her."
"How, my dear?" cries Booth; "little Betty robbed you?"
"It is even so," answered Amelia. Indeed, she spoke truth; for little
Betty, having perceived the evening before that her mistress was
moving her goods, was willing to lend all the assistance in her power,
and had accordingly moved off early that morning, taking with her
whatever she could lay her hands on.
Booth expressed himself with some passion on the occasion, and swore
he would make an example of the girl. "If the little slut be above
ground," cried he, "I will find her out, and bring her to justice."
"I am really sorry for this accident," said Mrs. James, "and (though I
know not how to mention it) I beg you'll give me leave to offer you
any linen of mine till you can make new of your own."
Amelia thanked Mrs. James, but declined the favour, saying, she should
do well enough at home; and that, as she had no servant now to take
care of her children, she could not, nor would not, leave them on any
"Then bring master and miss with you," said Mrs. James. "You shall
positively dine with us tomorrow."
"I beg, madam, you will mention it no more," said Amelia; "for,
besides the substantial reasons I have already given, I have some
things on my mind at present which make me unfit for company; and I am
resolved nothing shall prevail on me to stir from home." Mrs. James
had carried her invitation already to the very utmost limits of good
breeding, if not beyond them. She desisted therefore from going any
further, and, after some short stay longer, took her leave, with many
expressions of concern, which, however, great as it was, left her
heart and her mouth together before she was out of the house.
Booth now declared that he would go in pursuit of little Betty,
against whom he vowed so much vengeance, that Amelia endeavoured to
moderate his anger by representing to him the girl's youth, and that
this was the first fault she had ever been guilty of. "Indeed," says
she, "I should be very glad to have my things again, and I would have
the girl too punished in some degree, which might possibly be for her
own good; but I tremble to think of taking away her life;" for Booth
in his rage had sworn he would hang her.
"I know the tenderness of your heart, my dear," said Booth, "and I
love you for it; but I must beg leave to dissent from your opinion. I
do not think the girl in any light an object of mercy. She is not only
guilty of dishonesty but of cruelty; for she must know our situation
and the very little we had left. She is besides guilty of ingratitude
to you, who have treated her with so much kindness, that you have
rather acted the part of a mother than of a mistress. And, so far from
thinking her youth an excuse, I think it rather an aggravation. It is
true, indeed, there are faults which the youth of the party very
strongly recommends to our pardon. Such are all those which proceed
from carelessness and want of thought; but crimes of this black dye,
which are committed with deliberation, and imply a bad mind, deserve a
more severe punishment in a young person than in one of riper years;
for what must the mind be in old age which hath acquired such a degree
of perfection in villany so very early? Such persons as these it is
really a charity to the public to put out of the society; and, indeed,
a religious man would put them out of the world for the sake of
themselves; for whoever understands anything of human nature must know
that such people, the longer they live, the more they will accumulate
vice and wickedness."
"Well, my dear," cries Amelia, "I cannot argue with you on these
subjects. I shall always submit to your superior judgment, and I know
you too well to think that you will ever do anything cruel."
Booth then left Amelia to take care of her children, and went in
pursuit of the thief.
_A scene of the tragic kind._
He had not been long gone before a thundering knock was heard at the
door of the house where Amelia lodged, and presently after a figure
all pale, ghastly, and almost breathless, rushed into the room where
she then was with her children.
This figure Amelia soon recognised to be Mrs. Atkinson, though indeed
she was so disguised that at her first entrance Amelia scarce knew
her. Her eyes were sunk in her head, her hair dishevelled, and not
only her dress but every feature in her face was in the utmost
Amelia was greatly shocked at this sight, and the little girl was much
frightened; as for the boy, he immediately knew her, and, running to
Amelia, he cried, "La! mamma, what is the matter with poor Mrs.
As soon as Mrs. Atkinson recovered her breath she cried out, "O, Mrs.
Booth! I am the most miserable of women--I have lost the best of
Amelia, looking at her with all the tenderness imaginable, forgetting,
I believe, that there had ever been any quarrel between them, said--
"Good Heavens, madam, what's the matter?"
"O, Mrs. Booth!" answered she, "I fear I have lost my husband: the
doctor says there is but little hope of his life. O, madam! however I
have been in the wrong, I am sure you will forgive me and pity me. I
am sure I am severely punished; for to that cursed affair I owe all my
"Indeed, madam," cries Amelia, "I am extremely concerned for your
misfortune. But pray tell me, hath anything happened to the serjeant?"
"O, madam!" cries she, "I have the greatest reason to fear I shall
lose him. The doctor hath almost given him over--he says he hath
scarce any hopes. O, madam! that evening that the fatal quarrel
happened between us my dear captain took it so to heart that he sat up
all night and drank a whole bottle of brandy. Indeed, he said he
wished to kill himself; for nothing could have hurt him so much in the
world, he said, as to have any quarrel between you and me. His
concern, and what he drank together, threw him into a high fever. So
that, when I came home from my lord's--(for indeed, madam, I have
been, and set all to rights--your reputation is now in no danger)--
when I came home, I say, I found the poor man in a raving delirious
fit, and in that he hath continued ever since till about an hour ago,
when he came perfectly to his senses; but now he says he is sure he
shall die, and begs for Heaven's sake to see you first. Would you,
madam, would you have the goodness to grant my poor captain's desire?
consider he is a dying man, and neither he nor I shall ever ask you a
second favour. He says he hath something to say to you that he can
mention to no other person, and that he cannot die in peace unless he
"Upon my word, madam," cries Amelia, "I am extremely concerned at what
you tell me. I knew the poor serjeant from his infancy, and always had
an affection for him, as I think him to be one of the best-natured and
honestest creatures upon earth. I am sure if I could do him any
service--but of what use can my going be?"
"Of the highest in the world," answered Mrs. Atkinson. "If you knew
how earnestly he entreated it, how his poor breaking heart begged to
see you, you would not refuse."
"Nay, I do not absolutely refuse," cries Amelia. "Something to say to
me of consequence, and that he could not die in peace unless he said
it! did he say that, Mrs. Atkinson?"
"Upon my honour he did," answered she, "and much more than I have
"Well, I will go with you," cries Amelia. "I cannot guess what this
should be; but I will go."
Mrs. Atkinson then poured out a thousand blessings and thanksgivings;
and, taking hold of Amelia's hand, and eagerly kissing it, cried out,
"How could that fury passion drive me to quarrel with such a
Amelia told her she had forgiven and forgot it; and then, calling up
the mistress of the house, and committing to her the care of the
children, she cloaked herself up as well as she could and set out with
When they arrived at the house, Mrs. Atkinson said she would go first
and give the captain some notice; for that, if Amelia entered the room
unexpectedly, the surprize might have an ill effect. She left
therefore Amelia in the parlour, and proceeded directly upstairs.
Poor Atkinson, weak and bad as was his condition, no sooner heard that
Amelia was come than he discovered great joy in his countenance, and
presently afterwards she was introduced to him.
Atkinson exerted his utmost strength to thank her for this goodness to
a dying man (for so he called himself). He said he should not have
presumed to give her this trouble, had he not had something which he
thought of consequence to say to her, and which he could not mention
to any other person. He then desired his wife to give him a little
box, of which he always kept the key himself, and afterwards begged
her to leave the room for a few minutes; at which neither she nor
Amelia expressed any dissatisfaction.
When he was alone with Amelia, he spoke as follows: "This, madam, is
the last time my eyes will ever behold what--do pardon me, madam, I
will never offend you more." Here he sunk down in his bed, and the
tears gushed from his eyes.
"Why should you fear to offend me, Joe?" said Amelia. "I am sure you
never did anything willingly to offend me."
"No, madam," answered he, "I would die a thousand times before I would
have ventured it in the smallest matter. But--I cannot speak--and yet
I must. You cannot pardon me, and yet, perhaps, as I am a dying man,
and never shall see you more--indeed, if I was to live after this
discovery, I should never dare to look you in the face again; and yet,
madam, to think I shall never see you more is worse than ten thousand
"Indeed, Mr. Atkinson," cries Amelia, blushing, and looking down on
the floor, "I must not hear you talk in this manner. If you have
anything to say, tell it me, and do not be afraid of my anger; for I
think I may promise to forgive whatever it was possible you should
"Here then, madam," said he, "is your picture; I stole it when I was
eighteen years of age, and have kept it ever since. It is set in gold,
with three little diamonds; and yet I can truly say it was not the
gold nor the diamonds which I stole--it was the face, which, if I had
been the emperor of the world--"
"I must not hear any more of this," said she. "Comfort yourself, Joe,
and think no more of this matter. Be assured, I freely and heartily
forgive you--But pray compose yourself; come, let me call in your
"First, madam, let me beg one favour," cried he: "consider it is the
last, and then I shall die in peace--let me kiss that hand before I
"Well, nay," says she, "I don't know what I am doing--well--there."
She then carelessly gave him her hand, which he put gently to his
lips, and then presently let it drop, and fell back in the bed.
Amelia now summoned Mrs. Atkinson, who was indeed no further off than
just without the door. She then hastened down-stairs, and called for a
great glass of water, which having drank off, she threw herself into a
chair, and the tears ran plentifully from her eyes with compassion for
the poor wretch she had just left in his bed.
To say the truth, without any injury to her chastity, that heart,
which had stood firm as a rock to all the attacks of title and
equipage, of finery and flattery, and which all the treasures of the
universe could not have purchased, was yet a little softened by the
plain, honest, modest, involuntary, delicate, heroic passion of this
poor and humble swain; for whom, in spite of herself, she felt a
momentary tenderness and complacence, at which Booth, if he had known
it, would perhaps have been displeased.
Having staid some time in the parlour, and not finding Mrs. Atkinson
come down (for indeed her husband was then so bad she could not quit
him), Amelia left a message with the maid of the house for her
mistress, purporting that she should be ready to do anything in her
power to serve her, and then left the house with a confusion on her
mind that she had never felt before, and which any chastity that is
not hewn out of marble must feel on so tender and delicate an
_In which Mr. Booth meets with more than one adventure._
Booth, having hunted for about two hours, at last saw a young lady in
a tattered silk gown stepping out of a shop in Monmouth--street into a
hackney-coach. This lady, notwithstanding the disguise of her dress,
he presently discovered to be no other than little Betty.
He instantly gave the alarm of stop thief, stop coach! upon which Mrs.
Betty was immediately stopt in her vehicle, and Booth and his
myrmidons laid hold of her.
The girl no sooner found that she was seised by her master than the
consciousness of her guilt overpowered her; for she was not yet an
experienced offender, and she immediately confessed her crime.
She was then carried before a justice of peace, where she was
searched, and there was found in her possession four shillings and
sixpence in money, besides the silk gown, which was indeed proper
furniture for rag-fair, and scarce worth a single farthing, though the
honest shopkeeper in Monmouth-street had sold it for a crown to the
The girl, being examined by the magistrate, spoke as follows:--
"Indeed, sir, an't please your worship, I am very sorry for what I
have done; and to be sure, an't please your honour, my lord, it must
have been the devil that put me upon it; for to be sure, please your
majesty, I never thought upon such a thing in my whole life before,
any more than I did of my dying-day; but, indeed, sir, an't please
She was running on in this manner when the justice interrupted her,
and desired her to give an account of what she had taken from her
master, and what she had done with it.
"Indeed, an't please your majesty," said she, "I took no more than two
shifts of madam's, and I pawned them for five shillings, which I gave
for the gown that's upon my back; and as for the money in my pocket,
it is every farthing of it my own. I am sure I intended to carry back
the shifts too as soon as ever I could get money to take them out."
The girl having told them where the pawnbroker lived, the justice sent
to him, to produce the shifts, which he presently did; for he expected
that a warrant to search his house would be the consequence of his
The shifts being produced, on which the honest pawnbroker had lent
five shillings, appeared plainly to be worth above thirty; indeed,
when new they had cost much more: so that, by their goodness as well
as by their size, it was certain they could not have belonged to the
girl. Booth grew very warm against the pawnbroker. "I hope, sir," said
he to the justice, "there is some punishment for this fellow likewise,
who so plainly appears to have known that these goods were stolen. The
shops of these fellows may indeed be called the fountains of theft;
for it is in reality the encouragement which they meet with from these
receivers of their goods that induces men very often to become
thieves, so that these deserve equal if not severer punishment than
the thieves themselves."
The pawnbroker protested his innocence, and denied the taking in the
shifts. Indeed, in this he spoke truth, for he had slipt into an inner
room, as was always his custom on these occasions, and left a little
boy to do the business; by which means he had carried on the trade of
receiving stolen goods for many years with impunity, and had been
twice acquitted at the Old Bailey, though the juggle appeared upon the
most manifest evidence.
As the justice was going to speak he was interrupted by the girl, who,
falling upon her knees to Booth, with many tears begged his
"Indeed, Betty," cries Booth, "you do not deserve forgiveness; for you
know very good reasons why you should not have thought of robbing your
mistress, particularly at this time. And what further aggravates your
crime is, that you robbed the best and kindest mistress in the world.
Nay, you are not only guilty of felony, but of a felonious breach of
trust, for you know very well everything your mistress had was
intrusted to your care."
Now it happened, by very great accident, that the justice before whom
the girl was brought understood the law. Turning therefore to Booth,
he said, "Do you say, sir, that this girl was intrusted with the
"Yes, sir," said Booth, "she was intrusted with everything."
"And will you swear that the goods stolen," said the justice, "are
worth forty shillings?"
"No, indeed, sir," answered Booth, "nor that they are worthy thirty
"Then, sir," cries the justice, "the girl cannot be guilty of felony."
"How, sir," said Booth, "is it not a breach of trust? and is not a
breach of trust felony, and the worst felony too?"
"No, sir," answered the justice; "a breach of trust is no crime in our
law, unless it be in a servant; and then the act of parliament
requires the goods taken to be of the value of forty shillings."
"So then a servant," cries Booth, "may rob his master of thirty-nine
shillings whenever he pleases, and he can't be punished."
"If the goods are under his care, he can't," cries the justice.
"I ask your pardon, sir," says Booth. "I do not doubt what you say;
but sure this is a very extraordinary law."
"Perhaps I think so too," said the justice; "but it belongs not to my
office to make or to mend laws. My business is only to execute them.
If therefore the case be as you say, I must discharge the girl."
"I hope, however, you will punish the pawnbroker," cries Booth.
"If the girl is discharged," cries the justice, "so must be the
pawnbroker; for, if the goods are not stolen, he cannot be guilty of
receiving them knowing them to be stolen. And, besides, as to his
offence, to say the truth, I am almost weary of prosecuting it; for
such are the difficulties laid in the way of this prosecution, that it
is almost impossible to convict any one on it. And, to speak my
opinion plainly, such are the laws, and such the method of proceeding,
that one would almost think our laws were rather made for the
protection of rogues than for the punishment of them."
Thus ended this examination: the thief and the receiver went about
their business, and Booth departed in order to go home to his wife.
In his way home Booth was met by a lady in a chair, who, immediately
upon seeing him, stopt her chair, bolted out of it, and, going
directly up to him, said, "So, Mr. Booth, you have kept your word with
The lady was no other than Miss Matthews, and the speech she meant was
of a promise made to her at the masquerade of visiting her within a
day or two; which, whether he ever intended to keep I cannot say, but,
in truth, the several accidents that had since happened to him had so
discomposed his mind that he had absolutely forgot it.
Booth, however, was too sensible and too well-bred to make the excuse
of forgetfulness to a lady; nor could he readily find any other. While
he stood therefore hesitating, and looking not over-wise, Miss
Matthews said, "Well, sir, since by your confusion I see you have some
grace left, I will pardon you on one condition, and that is that you
will sup with me this night. But, if you fail me now, expect all the
revenge of an injured woman." She then bound herself by a most
outrageous oath that she would complain to his wife--" And I am sure,"
says she, "she is so much a woman of honour as to do me justice. And,
though I miscarried in my first attempt, be assured I will take care
of my second."
Booth asked what she meant by her first attempt; to which she answered
that she had already writ his wife an account of his ill-usage of her,
but that she was pleased it had miscarried. She then repeated her
asseveration that she would now do it effectually if he disappointed
This threat she reckoned would most certainly terrify poor Booth; and,
indeed, she was not mistaken; for I believe it would have been
impossible, by any other menace or by any other means, to have brought
him once even to balance in his mind on this question. But by this
threat she prevailed; and Booth promised, upon his word and honour, to
come to her at the hour she appointed. After which she took leave of
him with a squeeze by the hand, and a smiling countenance, and walked
back to her chair.
But, however she might be pleased with having obtained this promise,
Booth was far from being delighted with the thoughts of having given
it. He looked, indeed, upon the consequences of this meeting with
horrour; but as to the consequence which was so apparently intended by
the lady, he resolved against it. At length he came to this
determination, to go according to his appointment, to argue the matter
with the lady, and to convince her, if possible, that, from a regard
to his honour only, he must discontinue her acquaintance. If this
failed to satisfy her, and she still persisted in her threats to
acquaint his wife with the affair, he then resolved, whatever pains it
cost him, to communicate the whole truth himself to Amelia, from whose
goodness he doubted not but to obtain an absolute remission.
_In which Amelia appears in a light more amiable than gay._
We will now return to Amelia, whom we left in some perturbation of
mind departing from Mrs. Atkinson.
Though she had before walked through the streets in a very improper
dress with Mrs. Atkinson, she was unwilling, especially as she was
alone, to return in the same manner. Indeed, she was scarce able to
walk in her present condition; for the case of poor Atkinson had much
affected her tender heart, and her eyes had overflown with many tears.
It occurred likewise to her at present that she had not a single
shilling in her pocket or at home to provide food for herself and her
family. In this situation she resolved to go immediately to the
pawnbroker whither she had gone before, and to deposit her picture for
what she could raise upon it. She then immediately took a chair and
put her design in execution.
The intrinsic value of the gold in which this picture was set, and of
the little diamonds which surrounded it, amounted to nine guineas.
This therefore was advanced to her, and the prettiest face in the
world (such is often the fate of beauty) was deposited, as of no
value, into the bargain.
When she came home she found the following letter from Mrs. Atkinson:-
"MY DEAREST MADAM,--As I know your goodness, I could not delay a
moment acquainting you with the happy turn of my affairs since you
went. The doctor, on his return to visit my husband, has assured me
that the captain was on the recovery, and in very little danger; and I
really think he is since mended. I hope to wait on you soon with
better news. Heaven bless you, dear madam! and believe me to be, with
the utmost sincerity,
Your most obliged, obedient, humble servant,
Amelia was really pleased with this letter; and now, it being past
four o'clock, she despaired of seeing her husband till the evening.
She therefore provided some tarts for her children, and then, eating
nothing but a slice of bread and butter herself, she began to prepare
for the captain's supper.
There were two things of which her husband was particularly fond,
which, though it may bring the simplicity of his taste into great
contempt with some of my readers, I will venture to name. These were a
fowl and egg sauce and mutton broth; both which Amelia immediately
As soon as the clock struck seven the good creature went down into the
kitchen, and began to exercise her talents of cookery, of which she
was a great mistress, as she was of every economical office from the
highest to the lowest: and, as no woman could outshine her in a
drawing-room, so none could make the drawing-room itself shine
brighter than Amelia. And, if I may speak a bold truth, I question
whether it be possible to view this fine creature in a more amiable
light than while she was dressing her husband's supper, with her
little children playing round her.
It was now half an hour past eight, and the meat almost ready, the
table likewise neatly spread with materials borrowed from her
landlady, and she began to grow a little uneasy at Booth's not
returning when a sudden knock at the door roused her spirits, and she
cried, "There, my dear, there is your good papa;" at which words she
darted swiftly upstairs and opened the door to her husband.
She desired her husband to walk up into the dining-room, and she would
come to him in an instant; for she was desirous to encrease his
pleasure by surprising him with his two favourite dishes. She then
went down again to the kitchen, where the maid of the house undertook
to send up the supper, and she with her children returned to Booth.
He then told her concisely what had happened with relation to the
girl--to which she scarce made any answer, but asked him if he had not
dined? He assured her he had not eat a morsel the whole day.
"Well," says she, "my dear, I am a fellow-sufferer; but we shall both
enjoy our supper the more; for I have made a little provision for you,
as I guessed what might be the case. I have got you a bottle of wine
too. And here is a clean cloth and a smiling countenance, my dear
Will. Indeed, I am in unusual good spirits to-night, and I have made a
promise to the children, which you must confirm; I have promised to
let them sit up this one night to supper with us.--Nay, don't look so
serious: cast off all uneasy thoughts, I have a present for you here--
no matter how I came by it."--At which words she put eight guineas
into his hand, crying, "Come, my dear Bill, be gay--Fortune will yet
be kind to us--at least let us be happy this night. Indeed, the
pleasures of many women during their whole lives will not amount to my
happiness this night if you will be in good humour."
Booth fetched a deep sigh, and cried, "How unhappy am I, my dear,
that I can't sup with you to-night!"
As in the delightful month of June, when the sky is all serene, and
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