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In which the History advances about Two Days.
Too short to need a Preface. THERE are a set of religious, or rather moral
, writers, who teach that virtue is the certain road to happiness, and vice to misery, in this world. A very wholesome and comfortable doctrine, and to which we have but one objection, namely, that it is not true.
Indeed, if by virtue these writers mean the exercise of those cardinal virtues, which like good housewives stay at home, and mind only the business of their own family, I shall very readily concede the point; for so surely do all these contribute and lead to happiness, that I could almost wish, in violation of all the ancient and modern sages, to call them rather by the name of wisdom, than by that of virtue; for with regard to this life, no system, I conceive, was ever wiser than that of
the ancient Epicureans, who held this wisdom to constitute the chief good; nor foolisher than that of their opposites, those modern epicures, who place all felicity in the abundant gratification of every sensual appetite.
But if by virtue is meant (as I almost think it ought) a certain relative quality, which is always busying itself without doors, and seems as much interested in pursuing the good of others as its own; I cannot so easily agree that this is the surest way to human happiness; because I am afraid we must then include poverty and contempt, with all the mischief; which backbiting, envy, and ingratitude, can bring on mankind, in our idea of happiness; nay, sometimes perhaps we shall be obliged to wait upon the said happiness to a jail; since many by the above virtue have brought themselves thither.
I have not now leisure to enter upon so large a field of speculation, as here seems opening upon me; my design was to wipe off a doctrine that'lay in my way; since, while Str. Jones was acting the most virtuous part imaginable in labouring to preserve his fellow-creatures from destruction, the devil, or some other evil spirit, one perhaps clothed in human flesh, was hard at work to make hiin completely miserable in the ruin of his Sophia.
This therefore would seem an exception to the above rule, if indeed it was a rule; but as we have in our voyage through lite seen so many other exceptions to it, we chuse to dispute the doctrine on which it is founded, which we don't apprehend to be Christian, which we are convinced is not true, and which is indeed destructive of one of the noblest arguments that reason alone can furnish for the belief of immortality.
But as the reader's curiosity (if he hath any) must be now awake, and hungry, we shall provide to feed it as fast as we can.
In which is opened a very black Design against
Sophia. I Remember a vise old gentleman, who used to say, When children are doing nothing, they are • doing mischief.' I will not enlarge this quaint saying to the most beautiful part of the creation in general; but so far I may be allowed, that when the efiects of female jealousy do not appear openly in their proper colours of rage and fury, we may suspect that mischievous passion to be at work privately, and attempting to undermine, what it doth not attack above ground.
This was exeniplified in the conduct of lady Bellaston, who, under all the smiles which she wore in lier countenance, concealed much indignation against Sophia; and as she plainly saw, that this young lady stood between her and the full indulgenre of her desires, she resolved to get rid of her by some means or other; nor was it long before a very favourabie opportunity of accomplishing this presented itself to her.
The reader may be pleased to remember, that when Sophia was thrown into i hat consternation at the playhouse, by the wit and humour of a set of young gentlemen who call themselves the town, we informed him, that she had put herself under the protection of a young nobleman, who had very safely conducted her to her chair.
This nobleman, who frequently visited lady Bellaston, had more than once seen Sophia there, since her arrival in town, and had conceived a very great kking to her; which liking, as beauty never looks more amiable than in distress, Sophia had in this fright so increased, that he might now, without any great impropriety, be said to be actually in love with her.
It may easily be believed, that he would not suffer so landsome an occasion of improving his acquaintance with the beloved object as now offered itself, to elapse, when even good-breeding alone might have prompted him to pay her a visit.
The next morning therefore, after this accident, he waited on Sophia, with the usual compliments, and hopes that she had received no liarm from her last night's adventure.
As love, like fire, when once thoroughly kindled, is soon blown into a flame ; Sophia in a very short time completed her conquest. Time now flew away unperceived, and the noble lord had been two hours in company with the lady, before it entered into his head that he had made too long a visit. Though this circumstance alone would have alarmed Sophia, who was somewhat more a mistress of computation at present; shie had indeed much more pregnant evidence from the eyes of her lover of what past within his bosom; nay, though he did not make any openi declaration of his passion, yet many of his expressions were rather too warm, and too tender, to have been imputed to complaisance, even in the age when such complaisance was in fashion; the very reverse of which is well known to be the reigning mode at present.
Lady Bellaston had been apprised of his lordship's visit at his first arrival; and the length of it very well satisfied her, that things went, as she wished, and as indeed she had suspected the second time she saw this young couple together. This business she rightly, I think, concluded, that she should by no means forward by mixing in the company while they were together; she therefore ordered her servants, that when my lord was going, they should tell him, she desired to speak with him; and employed the intermediate time in meditating how best to accomplish a scheme, which she made no doubt but his lordship would very readily embrace the execution of.
Lord Fellamar (for that was the title of this young nobleman) was no sooner introduced to her ladyship, than she attacked him in the following strain: Bless me, my lord, are you here yet? I 'thought my servants had made a mistake, and let
you go away; and I wanted to see you about an affair of some importance. Indeed, lady Bel
laston,' said he, 'I don't wonder you are asto'nished at the length of my visit: for I have staid
above two hours, and I did not think I had staid 'above half a one.'—What am I to conclude ' from thence, ny lord ?' said she. “The company 'must be very agreeable which can make time slide • away so very deceitfully. Upon my honour,' said he, the most agreeable I crer saw. Pray tell 'me, lady Bellaston, who is this blazing star which you have produced among us all of a sudden?'
What blazing star, my lord?' said she, affecting a surprise. “I mean,' said he, 'the lady I saw here • the other day, whom I had last night in my arms ' at the playhouse, and to whom I have been mak‘ing that unreasonable visit.'--'O my cousin 'Western!' said she; 'why that blazing star, my ' lord, is the daughter of a country booby 'squire, ' and hath been in town about a fortnight, for the ' first tiine.'
- Upon my soul,' said he, 'I should swear she had been bred up in a court; for besides her beauty, I never saw any thing so gen
teel, so sensible, so polite.'- "O brave! cries the lady, ' my cousin hath you, I find.'--'Upon my
honour,' answered he, 'I wish she had; for I am in love with her to distraction.'
Nay, my lord,' said she, “it is not wishing yourself very ill neither, for she is a very great fortune: I assure you she is an only child, and her father's ' estate is a good 30001. a year.' Then I can assure ' you, Madam,' answered the lord, “I think her the • best match in England.' 'Indeed, my lord,' replied she, “if you like her, I heartily wish you had
her.' 'If you think so kindly of me, vladam, '