Page images
PDF
EPUB

* and am in great admiration of your profound

respect. 'P. S. I am prevented from revising:- - Perhaps

I have said more than I meant.- Come to 'me at eight this evening.'

Jones, by the advice of his privy-council, replied:

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

6

6

6

MADAM, 'It is impossible to express how much I am shocked at the suspicion you 'entertain of me. Can lady Bellaston have conferred favours on a man whom she could believe capable of so base ' a design? or can she treat the most solemn tie

of love with contempt? Can you imagine, Ma* dam, that if the violence of my passion, in an un

guarded moment, overcame the tenderness which • I have for your honour, I would think of indulging myself in the continuance of an intercourse which could not possibly escape long the notice of the world; and which, when discovered, must prove so fatal to your reputation ? If such be your opinion of me, I must pray for a sudden opportunity of returning those pecuniary obligations, which I have been so unfortunate to receive at your hands; and for those of a more tender kind, I shall ever remain, &c.' And so concluded in the very words with which he had concluded the former letter.

[ocr errors]

6

The lady answered as follows:

"I see you are a villain; and I despise you from my soul. If you come here, I shall not be at home.'

Though Jones was well satisfied with his deliverance from a thraldom which those who have ever experienced it, will, I apprehend, allow to be none of the lightest, he was not, however, perfectly easy in his mind. There was in this scheme too much of fallacy to satisfy one who utterly detested every species of falsehood or dishonesty; nor would he, indeed, have submitted to put it in practice, had he not been involved in a distressful situation, where he was obliged to be guilty of some dishonour, either to the one lady or the other; and surely the reader will allow, that every good principle, as well as love, pleaded strongly in favour of Sophia

Nightingale highly exulted in the success of his stratagem, upon which he received many thanks, and much applause from his friend. He answered,

Dear Tom, we have conferred very different 'obligations on each other. To me you owe the ‘ regaining your liberty; to you I owe the loss

of mine. But if you are as happy in the one instance as I am in the other, I promise you, we are the two happiest fellows in England.'

The two gentlemen were now summoned down to dinner, where Mrs. Miller, who performed herself the office of cook, had exerted her best talents, to celebrate the wedding of her daughter. This joyful circumstance she ascribed principally to the friendly behaviour of Jones, her whole soul was fired with gratitude towards him, and all her looks, words, and actions, were so busied in expressing it, that her daughter, and even her new son-in-law, were very little the objects of her consideration.

Dinner was just ended when Mrs. Miller received a letter; but as we have had letters enow in this chapter, we shall communicate the contents in our

next.

CHAP. X.

a

Consisting partly of Facts, and partly of Obser

vations upon them. The letter then which arrived at the end of the preceding chapter, was from Mr. Allworthy, and the purport-of it was, his intention to come immediately to town, with his nephew Blifil, and a desire to be accommodated with his usual lodgings, which were the first floor for himself, and the second for his nephew.

The cheerfulness which had before displayed itself in the countenance of the poor woman, was a little clouded on this occasion. This news did indeed a good deal disconcert her. To requite so disinterested a match with her daughter, by presently turning her new son-in-law out of doors, appeared to her very unjustifiable on the one hand; and on the other, she could scarce bear the thoughts of inaking any excuse to Mr. Allworthy, after all the obligations received from him, for depriving him of lodgings which were indeed strictly his due; for that gentleman, in conferring all his numberless benefits on others, acted by a rule diametrically opposite to what is practised by most generous people. He contrived, on all occasions, to hide his beneficence, not only from the world, but even from the object of it. He constantly used the words Lend and Pay, instead of Give; and by every other method he could invent, always lessened with his tongue the favours he conferred, while he was heaping them with both his hands. When he settled the annuity of 50 l. a year therefore on Mrs. Miller, he told her, “it was in consideration of al

ways having her first-floor when he was in town (which he scarce ever intended to be), but that • she might let it at any other time, for that he * would always send her a month's warning: 'He was now, however, hurried to town so suddenly, that he had no opportunity of giving such notice ; and this hurry probably prevented him, when he wrote for his lodgings, adding, if they were then empty; for he would most certainly have been well satisfied to have relinquished them, on a less sufficient excuse than what Mrs. Miller could now have made.

But there are a sort of persons, who, as Prior excellently well remarks, direct their conduct by something

Beyond the fix'd and settled rules
Of vice and .virtue in the schools,
Beyond the letter of the law.

To these it is so far from being sufficient that their defence would acquit them at the Old-Bailey, that they are not even contented, though conscience, the severest of all judges, should discharge them. Nothing short of the fair and honourable will satisfy the delicacy of their minds; and if any of their actions fall short of this mark, they mope and pine, are as uneasy and restless as a murderer, who is afraid of a ghost, or of the hangman.

Mrs. Miller was one of these. She could not conceal her uneasiness at this letter; with the contents of which she had no sooner acquainted the company, and given some hints of her distress, ihan Jones, hier good angel, presently relieved her anxiety. As for myself

, Madam,' said he, .my I lodging is at your service at a moment's warning; ' and Mr. Nightingale, I am sure, as he cannot yet ! prepare a house fit to receive his lady, will con

sent to return to his new lodging, whither Mrs. · Nightingale will certainly consent to go.' With which proposal both husband and wife instantly agreed.

The reader will easily believe, that the cheeks of Dirs. Miller began again to glow with additional gratitude to Jones; but, perhaps, it may be more

[ocr errors]

difficult to persuade him, that Mr. Jones having, in his last speech, called her daughter Mrs. Nightingale (it being the first time that agreeable sound had ever reached her ears), gave the fond mother more satisfaction, and warmed her heart more towards Jones, than his having dissipated her present anxiety.

The next day was then appointed for the removal of the new-married couple, and of Mr. Jones, who was likewise to be provided for in the same house with his friend. And now the serenity of the company was again restored, and they past the day in the utmost cheerfulness, all except Jones, who, though he outwardly accompanied the rest in their mirth, felt many a bitter pang on the account of his Sophia; which were not a little heightened by the news of Mr. Blifil's coming to town (for he clearly saw the intention of his journey), and what greatly aggravated his concern was, that Mrs. Honour, who had promised to inquire after Sophia, and to make her report to him early the next evening, had disappointed him.

In the situation that he and his mistress were in at this time, there were scarce any grounds for him to hope, that he should hear any good news; yet he was as impatient to see Mrs. Honour, as if he had expected she would bring him a letter with an assignation in it from Sophia, and bore the disappointment as ill. Whether this impatience arose from that natural weakness of the human mind, which makes it desirous to know the worst, and renders uncertainty the most intolerable of pains; or whether he still flattered himself with some secret hopes, we will not determine. But that it might be the last, whoever has loved cannot buť know. For of all the powers exercised by this passion over our minds, one of the most wonderful is that of supporting hope in the midst of despair. Difficulties, improbabilities, nay, impossibilities are quite overlooked by it; so that to any man ex

« PreviousContinue »