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drunk, began to be somewhat flustered ; and now Mr. Nightingale, taking the old gentleman with him up stairs into the apartment he had lately occupiec, unbosomed himself as follows:
As you have been always the best and kindest of uncles to me, and as you have shewn such
unparalleled goodness in forgiving this match, ' which to be sure may be thought a little impro'vident; I should never forgive myself if I at
tempted to deceive you in any thing. He then confessed the truth, and opened the whole affair.
• How, Jack !' said the old gentleman, and are you really then not married to this young wo'man?' 'No, upon my honour,' answered Nightingale, “I have told you the simple truth. My ' dear boy,' cries the uncle, kissing him, 'I am
heartily glad to hear it. I was never better ' pleased in my life. If you had been married I * should have assisted you as much as was in my power to have made the best of a bad matter; but there is a great difference between consider' ing a thing which is already done and irrecoverable, and that which is yet to do. Let your reason have fair play, Jack, and you will see this ' match in so foolish and preposterous a light, that there will be no need of
dissuasive arguments.' 'How, Sir!' replies young Nightingale, is there this difference between having already 'done an act, and being in honour engaged to ' do it?''Pugh,' said the uncle, “honour is a crea'ture of the world's making, and the world hath 'the power of a creator over it, and may govern " and direct it as they please. Now you well
know how trivial these breaches of contract are thought; even the grossest make but the wonder ' and conversation of a day, Is there a man who ' afterwards will be more backward in giving you . bis sister, or daughter? or is there any sister or • daughter who would be more backward to receive you ? Honour is not concerned in these
engagements.’ ‘Pardon me, dear Sir,'cries Vightingale, 'I can never think so; and not only ho
nour, but conscience and humanity are con. cerned. I am well satistied, that, was I now to disappoint the young creature, her death would • be the consequence, and I should look upon my
self as her murderer; nay, as her murderer by the 'cruellest of all methods, by breaking her heart.' • Break her heart, indeed! no, no, Jack,' cries the uncle, “the hearts of women are not so soon broke; ' they are tough, boy, they are tough.' • But, * Sir,' answered Nightingale, my own affections are engaged, and I never could be happy with any other woman. How often have I heard you say, that children should be always suffered to 'chuse for themselves, and that you would let my 'cousin Harriet do so!'“Why, ay,' replied the old gentleman, ‘so I would have them; but then I
would have them chuse wisely.-Indeed, Jack, you must and shall leave this girl.'--'Indeed, uncle,' cries the other, “I must and will have her. • You will, young gentleman?' said the uncle; I did not expect such a word from you. I should not wonder if you had used such language to 'your father, who hath always treated you like 'a dog, and kept you at the distance which a ty
rant preserves over his subjects; but I, who have “ lived with you upon an equal footing, might surely expect better usage: but I know how to account for it all! it is all owing to your preposterous education, in which I have had too • little share. There is my daughter, now, whom • I have brought up as my friend, never dotlı any
thing without my advice, nor ever refuses to take ' it when I give it her.'
• You have never yet 'given her advice in an affair of this kind,' said Nightingale ; for I am greatly mistaken in my
' cousin, if she would be very ready to obey even your most positive commands in abandoning her * inclinations.' Don't abuse my girl,' answered the
old gentleman with some emotion; 'don't abuse
my Harriet. I have brought her up to have no 'inclinations contrary to my own. "By suffering 'her to do whatever she pleases, I have enured ' her to a habit of being pleased to do whatever I
like.' * Pardon me, Sir,' said Nightingale, 'I ' have not the least design to reflect on my cousin, ' for whom I have the greatest esteem; and indeed 'I am convinced you will never put her to so se
vere a trial, or lay such hard commands on her ! as you would do on me. But, dear Sir, let us return to the company; for they will begin to be uneasy at our long absence. I must beg one fa
my dear uncle, which is, that he would not say any thing to shock the poor girl or her 'mother.' 'Oh! you need not fear me,' answered he, 'I understand myself too well to affront wo
men; so I will readily grant you that favour; ' and in return I must expect another of you. * There are but few of your commands, Sir,' said Nightingale, which I shall not very cheerfully ' obey.? Nay, Sir, I ask nothing,' said the uncle, but the honour of your company home to my lodging, that I may reason the case a little more
I fully with you; for I would, if possible, have 'the satisfaction of preserving my family, notwithstanding the headstrong folly of my brother, who, in his own opinion, is the wisest man in • the world.'
Nightingale, who well knew his uncle to be as headstrong as his father, submitted to attend him home, and then they both returned back into the room, where the old gentleman promised to carry himself with the same decorum which he had before maintained.
A short Chapter, which concludes the Book. The long absence of the uncle and nephew had occasioned some disquiet in the minds of all whoni they had left behind them; and the more, as during the preceding dialogue, the uncle had more than once elevated his voice, so as to be heard dewa stairs; which, though they could not distinguisha wliat he said, had caused some evil forboding in Nancy and her mother, and indeed even in Jones bimself.
When the good company therefore again assembled, there was a visible alteration in all their faces; and the good humour which, at their last meeting, universally shone forth in every countenance, was now changed into a much less agreeable aspect. It was a change indeed common enough to the weather in this climate, from sunshine to clouds, from June to December.
This alteration was not however greatly remarked by any present; for as they were all now endeavouring to conceal their own thoughts, and to act a part, they became all too busily engaged in the scene to be spectators of it. Thus neither the uncle nor nephew saw any symptoms of suspicion in the mother or daughter; nor did the mother or daughter remark the overacted complaisance of the old man, nor the counterfeit satisfaction which grived in the features of the young
Something like this, I believe, frequently happens, where the whole attention of two friends being engaged in the part which each is to act, in order to impose on the other, neither sees nor suspects the art practised against himself; and thus the thrust of both (to borrow no improper metaphor on the occasion) alike takes place,
From the same reason it is no unusual thing for both parties to be over-reached in a bargain, though the one must be always the greater loser; as was he who sold a blind horse, and received a bad note in payment.
Our company in about half an hour broke up, and the uncle carried off his nephew; but not before the latter had assured Miss Nancy, in a whisper, that he would attend her early in the morning, and fulfil all his engagements.
Jones, who was the least concerned in this scene, saw the most. He did indeed suspect the very fact; for, besides observing the great alteration in the behaviour of the uncle, the distance he assumed, and his overstrained civility to Miss Nancy; the carrying off a bridegroom from his bride at that time of night, was so extraordinary a proceeding, that it could be accounted for, only by imagining that young Nightingale had revealed the whole truth, which the apparent openness of his temper, and his being flustered with liquor, made too probable.
While he was reasoning with himself, whether he shoukl acquaint these poor people with his suspicion, the maid of the house informed him, that a gentlewoman desired to speak with him. He went immediately out, and taking the candle from the maid, ushered his visitant up stairs, who, in the person of Mrs. Honour, acquainted him with such dreadful news concerning his Sophia, that he immediately lost all consideration for every other person; and his whole stock of compassion was entirely swallowed up in reflections on his own misery, and on that of his unfortunate angel.
What this dreadful matter was, the reader will be informed, after we have first related the many preceding steps which produced it, and those will be the subject of the following book.