« PreviousContinue »
within a month from his decease I was married to . a clergyman, who had been my lover a long time
before, and who had been very ill used by my · father on that account: for though my poor fa'ther could not give any of us a shilling, yet he
bred us up as delicately, considered us, and would have had us consider ourselves as highly, as if we had been the richest heiresses. But my dear ' husband forgot all this usage, and the moment
we becaine fatherless, he immediately renewed his addresses to me so warmly, that I, who always liked, and now more than ever esteemed ' him, soon complied. Five years did I live in a
state of perfect happiness with that best of men, 'till at last-Oh! cruel! cruel fortune, that ever separated us, that deprived me of the kindest of husbands, and my poor girls of the tenderest pa'rent.---O my poor girls! you never knew the
blessing which ye lost. -I am ashamed, Mr Jones, of this womanish weakness; but I shall never * mention him without tears.'—'I ought rather,
'Madam,' said Jones, “to be ashamed that I do not accompany you.'--'Well, Sir,' continued she, I was now left a second time in a much worse 'condition than before; besides the terrible afilic'tion I was to encounter, I had two children to ‘provide for; and was, it possible, more pennyless
than ever, when that great, that good, that glocrious man, Mr. Allworthy, who had some little acquaintance with
my husband, accidently heard ‘of my distress, and immediately writ this letter Here, Sir, --here it is; I put it into my
I pocket to shew it to you. This is the letter, Sir; • I must and will read it to you.
I to me.
“MADAM, “I HEARTILY condole with you on your late “ grievous loss, which your own good sense, and “ the excellent lessons you must have learnt from “ the worthiest of men, will better enable you to “bear, than any advice which I am capable of giv* ing. Nor have I any doubt that you, whom I “have heard to be the tenderest of mothers, will “suffer any immoderate indulgence of grief to
prevent you from discharging your duty to those poor infants, who now alone stand in need of your tenderness.
" However, as you must be supposed at present ** to be incapable of much worldly consideration,
you will pardon my having ordered a person to
wait on you, and to pay you twenty guineas, “which I beg you will accept till I have the plea
sure of seeing you, and believe me to be, Ma. dam, &c."
• This letter, Sir, I received within a fortnight • after the irreparable loss I have mentioned ; and * within a fortnight afterwards, Mr. Allworthy,* the blessed Mr. Allworthy, came to pay me a visit, when he placed me in the house where
you now see me, gave me a large sum of money to * furnish it, and settled an annuity of 501. a year upon me, which I have constantly received ever since. Judge, then, Mr. Jones, in what regard I * must hold a benefactor, to whom I owe the pre'servation of my life, and of those dear children, for whose sake alone my life is valuable.--Do not, therefore, think me impertinent, Mr. Jones (since I must esteem one for whom I know Mr. * Allworthy hath so much value), if I beg you not 'to converse with these wicked women. You are
a young gentleman, and do not know half their * artful wiles. Do not be angry with me, Sir, for • what I said upon account of my house ; you * must be sensible it would be the ruin of my poor * dear girls. Besides, Şir, you cannot but be acquainted, that Mr. Allworthy himself would never forgive my conniving at such matters, and par* ticularly with you.'
* Upon my word, Madam,' said Jones, you
' need make no farther apology ; nor do I in the ' least take any thing ill you have said; but give
me leave as no one can have more value than 'myself for Mr. Allworthy, to deliver you from 'one mistake, which, perhaps, would not be altogether for his honour; I do assure you, I am no relation of his.'
* Alas! Sir,' answered she, 'I know you are not. 'I know very well who you are ; for Mr. Allworthy • hath told me all: but I do assure you, had you 'been twenty times his son, he could not have 'expressed more regard for you, than he hath
often expressed in my presence. You need not ' be ashamed, Sir, of what you are; I promise you ‘no good person will esteem you the less on that ' account. ' No, Mr. Jones, ; the words, “dis' honourable birth,” are nonsense, as my dear dear • husband used to say, unless the word “disho'nourable" be applied to the parents; for the chil
dren can derive no real dishonour from an act of ' which they are entirely innocent.'
Here Jones heaved a deep sigh, and then said, 'Since I perceive, Madam, you really do know me, ' and Mr. Allworthy hath thought proper to men* tion my name to you; and since you have been so explicit with me as to your own affairs, I will acquaint you with some more circumstances concerning myself.' And these Mrs. Miller having expressed great desire and curiosity to hear, he began and related to her his whole history, without once mentioning the name of Sophia.
There is a kind of sympathy in honest minds, by mcans of which they give an easy credit to each other. Mrs Miller believed all which Jones told her to be true, and exprest much pity and concern for him. She was beginning to comment on the story, but Jones interrupted her ; for as the hour of assignation now drew nigh, he began to stipulate for a second interview with the lady that evening, which he promised should be the last at
her house; swearing, at the same time, that she was one of great distinction, and that nothing but what was entirely innocent was to pass between them; and I do firmly believe he intended to keep his word.
Mrs. Miller was at length prevailed on, and Jones departed to his chamber, where he sat alone till twelve o'clock, but no lady Bellaston appeared. · As we have said that this lady had a great affection for Jones, and as it must have appeared that she really had so, the reader may perhaps wonder at the first failure of her appointment, as she apprehended him to be confined by sickness, a season when friendship seems most to require such visits. This behaviour, therefore, in the lady, may, by some, be condemned as unnatural; but that is not our fault; for our business is only to record truth.
CHAP. VI. Containing a Scene which we doubt not will affect
all our Readers. MR. Jones closed not his eyes during all the former part of the night; not owing it to any uneasiness which he conceived at being disappointed by lady Bellaston; nor was Sophia herself, though most of his waking hours were justly to be charged to her account, the present cause of dispelling his slumbers. In fact, poor Jones was one of the bestnatured fellows alive, and had all that weakness which is called compassion, and which distinguishes this imperfect character from that noble firmness of mind, which rolls a man, as it were, within himself, and, like a polished bowl, enables him to run through the world without being once stopped by the calamities which happen to others, He could not help, therefore, compassionating the situation of poor Nancy, whose love for Mr. Nightingale seemed to him so apparent, that he
was astonished at the blindness of her mother, who had more than once, the preceding evening, remarked to him the great change in the temper of her daughter, who from being,' she said, 'one of * the liveliest, merriest girls in the world, was, on a sudden, become all gloom and melancholy.'
Sleep, however, at length got the better of all resistance; and now, as if he had already been a deity, as the ancients imagined, and an offended one too, he seemed to enjoy his dear-bought conquest.---To speak simply, and without any metaphor, Mr. Jones slept till eleven the next morning, and would, perhaps, have continued in the same quiet situation much longer, had not a violent uproar awakened him.
Partridge was now summoned, who, being asked what was the matter, answered, “That there was a • dreadful hurricane below stairs; that Miss Nancy
was in fits; and that the other sister, and the 'mother, were both crying and lamenting over 'her.' Jones expressed much concern at this news; which Partridge endeavoured to relieve, by saying, with a smile, he fancied the young lady was in ‘no danger of death ; for that Susan' (which was the name of the maid) had given him to under* stand, it was nothing more than a common affair. ' In short,' said he, Miss Nancy hath had a mind 'to be as wise as her mother; that's all, she was • a little hungry, it seems, and so sat down to ' dinner before grace was said; and so there is a * child coming for the Foundling Hospital.?
Prithee, leave thy stupid jesting,' cries Jones. * Is the misery of these poor wretches a subject
of mirth? Go inmediately to Mrs. Miller, and ' tell her I beg leave--Stay, you will make some · blunder; I will go myself; for she desired me to 'breakfast with her. He then rose, and dressed himself as fast as he could: and while he was dressing, Partridge, notwithstanding many severe rebukes, could not avoid throwing forth certain