Page images
PDF
EPUB

vince lord Fellamar how justly the case had been represented to him by lady Bellaston; and now, at her return into the room, a scheme was laid between these two noble persons, which, though it appeared in no very heinous light to his lordship (as he faithfully promised, and faithfully resolved too, to make the lady all the subsequent amends in his power by marriage); yet many of our readers, we doubt not, will see with just detestation.

The next evening at seven was appointed for the fatal purpose, when lady Bellaston undertook that Sophia should be alone, and his lordship should be introduced to her. The whole family were to be regulated for the purpose, most of the servants dispatched out of the house; and for Mrs. Honour, who, to prevent suspicion, was to be left with her mistress till his lordship's arrival, lady Bellaston herself was to engage her in an apartment as distant as possible from the scene of the intended mischief, and out of the hearing of Sophia.

Matters being thus agreed on, his lordship took his leave, and her ladyship retired to rest, highly pleased with a project, of which she had no reason to doubt the success, and which promised so effectually to remove Sophia from being any future obstruction to her amour with Jones, by a means of which she should never appear to be guilty, even if the fact appeared to the world; but this she made no doubt of preventing by huddling up a marriage, to which she thought the ravished Sophia would easily be brought to consent, and at which all the rest of her family would rejoice.

But affairs were not in so quiet a situation in the bosom of the other conspirator; his mind was tost in all the distracting anxiety so nobly described by Shakespeare

Between the acting of a dreadful thing,
And the first motion, all the interim is

Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream :
The genius and the mortal instruments
Are then in council ; and the state of man,
Like to a little kingdom, suffers then
The nature of an insurrection.

a

Though the violence of his passion had made him eagerly embrace the first hint of this design, especially as it came from a relation of the lady, yet when that friend to reflection, a pillow, had placed the action itself in all its natural black colours before his eyes, with all the consequences which must, and those which might, probably attend it; his resolution began to abate, or rather indeed to go over to the other side; and after a long conflict, which lasted a whole night between honour and appetite, the former at length prevailed, and he determined to wait on lady Bellaston, and to relinquish the design.

Lady Bellaston was in bed, though very late in the morning, and Sophia sitting by her bedside, when the servant acquainted her that lord Fellamar was below in the parlour; upon which her ladyship desired him to stay, and that she would see him presently; but the servant was no sooner departed than poor Sophia began to intreat her cousin not to encourage the visits of that odious lord (so she called him, though a little unjustly) upon her account. 'I see his design,' said she ; for ' he made downright love to me yesterday morn‘ing; but as I am resolved never to admit it, I beg your ladyship not to leave us alone together any more, and to order the servants that, if he inquires for me, I may be always denied to him.'

• La! child,' says lady Bellaston, 'you country girls have nothing but sweethearts in your head; you fancy every man who is civil to you is mak

He is one of the most gallant young · fellows about town, and I am convinced means 'no more than a little gallantry. Make love to

6

6

ing love.

a

you indeed! I wish with all my heart he would, ' and you must be an arrant mad woman to refuse • him.

' But as I shall certainly be that mad woman,' cries Sophia, “I hope his visits shall not be intruded upon me.'

'O child !' said lady Bellaston, 'you need not be ' so fearful; if you resolve to run away with that • Jones, I know no person who can hinder you.'

"Upon my honour, Madam,' cries Sophia, 'your ladyship injures me. I will never run away with 'any man; nor will I every marry contrary to my · father's inclinations.'

! Well, Miss Western,' said the lady, 'if you are ‘not in a humour to see company this morning, you may retire to your own apartment; for I am not frightened at his lordship, and must send for ' him up into my dressing-room,'

Sophia thanked her ladyship, and withdrew; and presently afterwards Fellainar was admitted

[ocr errors]

up stairs.

CHAP. IV.

By which it will appear how dangerous an Adcocate

a Lady is, when she applies her Eloquence to air

ill Purpose.

WHEN lacly Bellaston heard the young lord's scruples, she treated them with the same disdain with which one of those sages of the law, called Newgate solicitors, treats the qualms of conscience in a young witness.

My dear lord,' said she, you certainly want a cordial. I must send to • lady Edgely for one of her best drams. Fie upon • it! have more resolution. Are you frightened

by the word rape? Or are you apprehensive- -? Well! if the story of Helen was modern, I should think it unnatural. I mean the behaviour of Paris, ' not the fondness of the lady; for all women love

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

' a man of spirit. There is another story of the 'Sabine ladies, -and that too, I thank heaven, is

very ancient. Your lordship, perhaps, will admire 'my reading; but I think Mr. Ilook tells us, they 'made tolerable good wives afterwards. I fancy ' few of my married acquaintance were ravished

by their husbands. Nay, dear lady Bellaston,' cried he, don't ridicule me in this manner. Why, my good lord,' answered she, do

you
think

any woman in England would not laugh at you in

her heart, whatever prudery she might wear in 'her countenance ? You force me to use a

strange kind of language, and to betray my sex ' most abominably; but I am contented with knowing my intentions are good, and that I am endeavouring to serve my cousin; for I think you will make her a husband notwithstanding this;

а or, upon my soul, I would not even persuade her to fling herself away upon an empty title. She should not upbraid nie hereafter with having lost

a man of spirit; for that his enemies allow * this poor young

fellow to be.' Let those who have had the satisfaction of hearing reflections of this kind from a wife or a mistress, declare whether they are at all sweetened by coming from a female tongue. Certain it is, they sunk deeper into his lordship than any thing which Demosthenes or Cicero could have said on the occasion.

Lady Bellaston perceiving she had fired the young lord's pride, began now, like a true orator, to rouse other passions to its assistance. 'My lord,' says she, in a grave voice, you will be pleased to remem

ber, you mentioned this matter to me first; for I I would not appear to you in the light of one who • is endeavouring to put off my cousin upon you, · Fourscore thousand pounds do not stand in need of an advocate to recommend them.' Nor doth Miss Western,' said he, 'require any recommendation from her fortune ; for, in my opinion, no

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

woman ever had half her charms.' 'Yes, yes, my

lord,' replied the lady, looking in the glass, there * have been women with more than half her charms, 'I assure you; not that I need lessen her on that ' account: she is a most delicious girl, that's cer"tain; and within these few hours she will be in 'the arms of one, who surely doth not deserve her,

though I will give him his due, I believe he is 'truly a man of spirit.'

' I hope so, Madam,' said my lord; though I must own he doth not deserve her; for unless heaven, or your ladyship disappoint me, she shall ' within that time be in mine.'

'Well spoken, my lord,' answered the lady; 'I promise you no disappointment shall happen from my side; and within this week I am convinced I shall call your lordship my cousin in public.'

The remainder of this scene consisted entirely of raptures, excuses, and compliments, very pleasant to have heard from the parties; but rather dull when related at second hand. Here, therefore, we shall put an end to this dialogue, and hasten to the fatal hour, when every thing was prepared for the destruction of

poor Sophia. But this being the most tragical matter in our whole history, we shall treat it in a chapter by itself.

CHAP. V. Containing some Matters which may affect, and

others which may surprise, the Reader. The clock had now struck seven, and poor Sophia, alone and melancholy, sat reading a tragedy. It was the Fatal Marriage; and she was now come to that part where the poor distressed Isabella disposes of her wedding-ring. Here the book dropt from her hand, and a shower

a of tears ran down into her bosom. In this situation

« PreviousContinue »