Part 11 out of 12
feared it was not, that Amelia herself would readily consent to this;
and so far from persuading her to such a measure, he could not bear
even to propose it. At length his determination was to acquaint his
wife with the whole affair, and to ask her consent, by way of asking
her advice; for he was well assured she could find no other means of
extricating him out of his dilemma. This he accordingly did,
representing the affair as bad as he could; though, indeed, it was
impossible for him to aggravate the real truth.
Amelia heard him patiently, without once interrupting him. When he had
finished, she remained silent some time: indeed, the shock she
received from this story almost deprived her of the power of speaking.
At last she answered, "Well, my dear, you ask my advice; I certainly
can give you no other than that the money must be paid."
"But how must it be paid?" cries he. "O, heavens! thou sweetest
creature! what, not once upbraid me for bringing this ruin on thee?"
"Upbraid you, my dear!" says she; "would to heaven I could prevent
your upbraiding yourself. But do not despair. I will endeavour by some
means or other to get you the money."
"Alas! my dear love," cries Booth, "I know the only way by which you
can raise it. How can I consent to that? do you forget the fears you
so lately expressed of what would be our wretched condition when our
little all was mouldered away? O my Amelia! they cut my very heart-
strings when you spoke then; for I had then lost this little all.
Indeed, I assure you, I have not played since, nor ever will more."
"Keep that resolution," said she, "my dear, and I hope we shall yet
recover the past."--At which words, casting her eyes on the children,
the tears burst from her eyes, and she cried--"Heaven will, I hope,
provide for us."
A pathetic scene now ensued between the husband and wife, which would
not, perhaps, please many readers to see drawn at too full a length.
It is sufficient to say that this excellent woman not only used her
utmost endeavours to stifle and conceal her own concern, but said and
did everything in her power to allay that of her husband.
Booth was, at this time, to meet a person whom we have formerly
mentioned in the course of our history. This gentleman had a place in
the War-office, and pretended to be a man of great interest and
consequence; by which means he did not only receive great respect and
court from the inferiour officers, but actually bubbled several of
their money, by undertaking to do them services which, in reality,
were not within his power. In truth, I have known few great men who
have not been beset with one or more such fellows as these, through
whom the inferior part of mankind are obliged to make their court to
the great men themselves; by which means, I believe, principally,
persons of real merit have often been deterred from the attempt; for
these subaltern coxcombs ever assume an equal state with their
masters, and look for an equal degree of respect to be paid to them;
to which men of spirit, who are in every light their betters, are not
easily brought to submit. These fellows, indeed, themselves have a
jealous eye towards all great abilities, and are sure, to the utmost
of their power, to keep all who are so endowed from the presence of
their masters. They use their masters as bad ministers have sometimes
used a prince--they keep all men of merit from his ears, and daily
sacrifice his true honour and interest to their own profit and their
As soon as Booth was gone to his appointment with this man, Amelia
immediately betook herself to her business with the highest
resolution. She packed up, not only her own little trinkets, and those
of the children, but the greatest part of her own poor cloathes (for
she was but barely provided), and then drove in a hackney-coach to the
same pawnbroker's who had before been recommended to her by Mrs.
Atkinson, who advanced her the money she desired.
Being now provided with her sum, she returned well pleased home, and
her husband coming in soon after, she with much chearfulness delivered
him all the money.
Booth was so overjoyed with the prospect of discharging his debt to
Trent, that he did not perfectly reflect on the distress to which his
family was now reduced. The good-humour which appeared in the
countenance of Amelia was, perhaps, another help to stifle those
reflexions; but above all, were the assurances he had received from
the great man, whom he had met at a coffee-house, and who had promised
to do him all the service in his power; which several half-pay
subaltern officers assured him was very considerable.
With this comfortable news he acquainted his wife, who either was, or
seemed to be, extremely well pleased with it. And now he set out with
the money in his pocket to pay his friend Trent, who unluckily for him
happened not to be at home.
On his return home he met his old friend the lieutenant, who
thankfully paid him his crown, and insisted on his going with him and
taking part of a bottle. This invitation was so eager and pressing,
that poor Booth, who could not resist much importunity, complied.
While they were over this bottle Booth acquainted his friend with the
promises he had received that afternoon at the coffee-house, with
which the old gentleman was very well pleased: "For I have heard,"
says he, "that gentleman hath very powerful interest;" but he informed
him likewise that he had heard that the great man must be touched, for
that he never did anything without touching. Of this, indeed, the
great man himself had given some oblique hints, by saying, with great
sagacity and slyness, that he knew where fifty pound might be
deposited to much advantage.
Booth answered that he would very readily advance a small sum if he
had it in his power, but that at present it was not so, for that he
had no more in the world than the sum of fifty pounds, which he owed
Trent, and which he intended to pay him the next morning.
"It is very right, undoubtedly, to pay your debts," says the old
gentleman;" but sure, on such an occasion, any man but the rankest
usurer would be contented to stay a little while for his money; and it
will be only a little while I am convinced; for, if you deposit this
sum in the great man's hands, I make no doubt but you will succeed
immediately in getting your commission; and then I will help you to a
method of taking up such a sum as this." The old gentleman persisted
in this advice, and backed it with every argument he could invent,
declaring, as was indeed true, that he gave the same advice which he
would pursue was the case his own.
Booth long rejected the opinion of his friend, till, as they had not
argued with dry lips, he became heated with wine, and then at last the
old gentleman succeeded. Indeed, such was his love, either for Booth
or for his own opinion, and perhaps for both, that he omitted nothing
in his power. He even endeavoured to palliate the character of Trent,
and unsaid half what he had before said of that gentleman. In the end,
he undertook to make Trent easy, and to go to him the very next
morning for that purpose.
Poor Booth at last yielded, though with the utmost difficulty. Indeed,
had he known quite as much of Trent as the reader doth, no motive
whatsoever would have prevailed on him to have taken the old
_Containing more wormwood and other ingredients._
In the morning Booth communicated the matter to Amelia, who told him
she would not presume to advise him in an affair of which he was so
much the better judge.
While Booth remained in a doubtful state what conduct to pursue Bound
came to make him a visit, and informed him that he had been at Trent's
house, but found him not at home, adding that he would pay him a
second visit that very day, and would not rest till he found him.
Booth was ashamed to confess his wavering resolution in an affair in
which he had been so troublesome to his friend; he therefore dressed
himself immediately, and together they both went to wait on the little
great man, to whom Booth now hoped to pay his court in the most
Bound had been longer acquainted with the modern methods of business
than Booth; he advised his friend, therefore, to begin with tipping
(as it is called) the great man's servant. He did so, and by that
means got speedy access to the master.
The great man received the money, not as a gudgeon doth a bait, but as
a pike receives a poor gudgeon into his maw. To say the truth, such
fellows as these may well be likened to that voracious fish, who
fattens himself by devouring all the little inhabitants of the river.
As soon as the great man had pocketed the cash, he shook Booth by the
hand, and told him he would be sure to slip no opportunity of serving
him, and would send him word as soon as any offered.
Here I shall stop one moment, and so, perhaps, will my good-natured
reader; for surely it must be a hard heart which is not affected with
reflecting on the manner in which this poor little sum was raised, and
on the manner in which it was bestowed. A worthy family, the wife and
children of a man who had lost his blood abroad in the service of his
country, parting with their little all, and exposed to cold and
hunger, to pamper such a fellow as this!
And if any such reader as I mention should happen to be in reality a
great man, and in power, perhaps the horrour of this picture may
induce him to put a final end to this abominable practice of touching,
as it is called; by which, indeed, a set of leeches are permitted to
suck the blood of the brave and the indigent, of the widow and the
Booth now returned home, where he found his wife with Mrs. James.
Amelia had, before the arrival of her husband, absolutely refused Mrs.
James's invitation to dinner the next day; but when Booth came in the
lady renewed her application, and that in so pressing a manner, that
Booth seconded her; for, though he had enough of jealousy in his
temper, yet such was his friendship to the colonel, and such his
gratitude to the obligations which he had received from him, that his
own unwillingness to believe anything of him, co-operating with
Amelia's endeavours to put everything in the fairest light, had
brought him to acquit his friend of any ill design. To this, perhaps,
the late affair concerning my lord had moreover contributed; for it
seems to me that the same passion cannot much energize on two
different objects at one and the same time: an observation which, I
believe, will hold as true with regard to the cruel passions of
jealousy and anger as to the gentle passion of love, in which one
great and mighty object is sure to engage the whole passion.
When Booth grew importunate, Amelia answered, "My dear, I should not
refuse you whatever was in my power; but this is absolutely out of my
power; for since I must declare the truth, I cannot dress myself."
"Why so?" said Mrs. James." I am sure you are in good health."
"Is there no other impediment to dressing but want of health, madam?"
"Upon my word, none that I know of," replied Mrs. James.
"What do you think of want of cloathes, madam?" said Amelia.
"Ridiculous!" cries Mrs. James. "What need have you to dress yourself
out? You will see nobody but our own family, and I promise you I don't
expect it. A plain night-gown will do very well."
"But if I must be plain with you, madam," said Amelia, "I have no
other cloathes but what I have now on my back. I have not even a clean
shift in the world; for you must know, my dear," said she to Booth,
"that little Betty is walked off this morning, and hath carried all my
linen with her."
"How, my dear?" cries Booth; "little Betty robbed you?"
"It is even so," answered Amelia. Indeed, she spoke truth; for little
Betty, having perceived the evening before that her mistress was
moving her goods, was willing to lend all the assistance in her power,
and had accordingly moved off early that morning, taking with her
whatever she could lay her hands on.
Booth expressed himself with some passion on the occasion, and swore
he would make an example of the girl. "If the little slut be above
ground," cried he, "I will find her out, and bring her to justice."
"I am really sorry for this accident," said Mrs. James, "and (though I
know not how to mention it) I beg you'll give me leave to offer you
any linen of mine till you can make new of your own."
Amelia thanked Mrs. James, but declined the favour, saying, she should
do well enough at home; and that, as she had no servant now to take
care of her children, she could not, nor would not, leave them on any
"Then bring master and miss with you," said Mrs. James. "You shall
positively dine with us tomorrow."
"I beg, madam, you will mention it no more," said Amelia; "for,
besides the substantial reasons I have already given, I have some
things on my mind at present which make me unfit for company; and I am
resolved nothing shall prevail on me to stir from home." Mrs. James
had carried her invitation already to the very utmost limits of good
breeding, if not beyond them. She desisted therefore from going any
further, and, after some short stay longer, took her leave, with many
expressions of concern, which, however, great as it was, left her
heart and her mouth together before she was out of the house.
Booth now declared that he would go in pursuit of little Betty,
against whom he vowed so much vengeance, that Amelia endeavoured to
moderate his anger by representing to him the girl's youth, and that
this was the first fault she had ever been guilty of. "Indeed," says
she, "I should be very glad to have my things again, and I would have
the girl too punished in some degree, which might possibly be for her
own good; but I tremble to think of taking away her life;" for Booth
in his rage had sworn he would hang her.
"I know the tenderness of your heart, my dear," said Booth, "and I
love you for it; but I must beg leave to dissent from your opinion. I
do not think the girl in any light an object of mercy. She is not only
guilty of dishonesty but of cruelty; for she must know our situation
and the very little we had left. She is besides guilty of ingratitude
to you, who have treated her with so much kindness, that you have
rather acted the part of a mother than of a mistress. And, so far from
thinking her youth an excuse, I think it rather an aggravation. It is
true, indeed, there are faults which the youth of the party very
strongly recommends to our pardon. Such are all those which proceed
from carelessness and want of thought; but crimes of this black dye,
which are committed with deliberation, and imply a bad mind, deserve a
more severe punishment in a young person than in one of riper years;
for what must the mind be in old age which hath acquired such a degree
of perfection in villany so very early? Such persons as these it is
really a charity to the public to put out of the society; and, indeed,
a religious man would put them out of the world for the sake of
themselves; for whoever understands anything of human nature must know
that such people, the longer they live, the more they will accumulate
vice and wickedness."
"Well, my dear," cries Amelia, "I cannot argue with you on these
subjects. I shall always submit to your superior judgment, and I know
you too well to think that you will ever do anything cruel."
Booth then left Amelia to take care of her children, and went in
pursuit of the thief.
_A scene of the tragic kind._
He had not been long gone before a thundering knock was heard at the
door of the house where Amelia lodged, and presently after a figure
all pale, ghastly, and almost breathless, rushed into the room where
she then was with her children.
This figure Amelia soon recognised to be Mrs. Atkinson, though indeed
she was so disguised that at her first entrance Amelia scarce knew
her. Her eyes were sunk in her head, her hair dishevelled, and not
only her dress but every feature in her face was in the utmost
Amelia was greatly shocked at this sight, and the little girl was much
frightened; as for the boy, he immediately knew her, and, running to
Amelia, he cried, "La! mamma, what is the matter with poor Mrs.
As soon as Mrs. Atkinson recovered her breath she cried out, "O, Mrs.
Booth! I am the most miserable of women--I have lost the best of
Amelia, looking at her with all the tenderness imaginable, forgetting,
I believe, that there had ever been any quarrel between them, said--
"Good Heavens, madam, what's the matter?"
"O, Mrs. Booth!" answered she, "I fear I have lost my husband: the
doctor says there is but little hope of his life. O, madam! however I
have been in the wrong, I am sure you will forgive me and pity me. I
am sure I am severely punished; for to that cursed affair I owe all my
"Indeed, madam," cries Amelia, "I am extremely concerned for your
misfortune. But pray tell me, hath anything happened to the serjeant?"
"O, madam!" cries she, "I have the greatest reason to fear I shall
lose him. The doctor hath almost given him over--he says he hath
scarce any hopes. O, madam! that evening that the fatal quarrel
happened between us my dear captain took it so to heart that he sat up
all night and drank a whole bottle of brandy. Indeed, he said he
wished to kill himself; for nothing could have hurt him so much in the
world, he said, as to have any quarrel between you and me. His
concern, and what he drank together, threw him into a high fever. So
that, when I came home from my lord's--(for indeed, madam, I have
been, and set all to rights--your reputation is now in no danger)--
when I came home, I say, I found the poor man in a raving delirious
fit, and in that he hath continued ever since till about an hour ago,
when he came perfectly to his senses; but now he says he is sure he
shall die, and begs for Heaven's sake to see you first. Would you,
madam, would you have the goodness to grant my poor captain's desire?
consider he is a dying man, and neither he nor I shall ever ask you a
second favour. He says he hath something to say to you that he can
mention to no other person, and that he cannot die in peace unless he
"Upon my word, madam," cries Amelia, "I am extremely concerned at what
you tell me. I knew the poor serjeant from his infancy, and always had
an affection for him, as I think him to be one of the best-natured and
honestest creatures upon earth. I am sure if I could do him any
service--but of what use can my going be?"
"Of the highest in the world," answered Mrs. Atkinson. "If you knew
how earnestly he entreated it, how his poor breaking heart begged to
see you, you would not refuse."
"Nay, I do not absolutely refuse," cries Amelia. "Something to say to
me of consequence, and that he could not die in peace unless he said
it! did he say that, Mrs. Atkinson?"
"Upon my honour he did," answered she, "and much more than I have
"Well, I will go with you," cries Amelia. "I cannot guess what this
should be; but I will go."
Mrs. Atkinson then poured out a thousand blessings and thanksgivings;
and, taking hold of Amelia's hand, and eagerly kissing it, cried out,
"How could that fury passion drive me to quarrel with such a
Amelia told her she had forgiven and forgot it; and then, calling up
the mistress of the house, and committing to her the care of the
children, she cloaked herself up as well as she could and set out with
When they arrived at the house, Mrs. Atkinson said she would go first
and give the captain some notice; for that, if Amelia entered the room
unexpectedly, the surprize might have an ill effect. She left
therefore Amelia in the parlour, and proceeded directly upstairs.
Poor Atkinson, weak and bad as was his condition, no sooner heard that
Amelia was come than he discovered great joy in his countenance, and
presently afterwards she was introduced to him.
Atkinson exerted his utmost strength to thank her for this goodness to
a dying man (for so he called himself). He said he should not have
presumed to give her this trouble, had he not had something which he
thought of consequence to say to her, and which he could not mention
to any other person. He then desired his wife to give him a little
box, of which he always kept the key himself, and afterwards begged
her to leave the room for a few minutes; at which neither she nor
Amelia expressed any dissatisfaction.
When he was alone with Amelia, he spoke as follows: "This, madam, is
the last time my eyes will ever behold what--do pardon me, madam, I
will never offend you more." Here he sunk down in his bed, and the
tears gushed from his eyes.
"Why should you fear to offend me, Joe?" said Amelia. "I am sure you
never did anything willingly to offend me."
"No, madam," answered he, "I would die a thousand times before I would
have ventured it in the smallest matter. But--I cannot speak--and yet
I must. You cannot pardon me, and yet, perhaps, as I am a dying man,
and never shall see you more--indeed, if I was to live after this
discovery, I should never dare to look you in the face again; and yet,
madam, to think I shall never see you more is worse than ten thousand
"Indeed, Mr. Atkinson," cries Amelia, blushing, and looking down on
the floor, "I must not hear you talk in this manner. If you have
anything to say, tell it me, and do not be afraid of my anger; for I
think I may promise to forgive whatever it was possible you should
"Here then, madam," said he, "is your picture; I stole it when I was
eighteen years of age, and have kept it ever since. It is set in gold,
with three little diamonds; and yet I can truly say it was not the
gold nor the diamonds which I stole--it was the face, which, if I had
been the emperor of the world--"
"I must not hear any more of this," said she. "Comfort yourself, Joe,
and think no more of this matter. Be assured, I freely and heartily
forgive you--But pray compose yourself; come, let me call in your
"First, madam, let me beg one favour," cried he: "consider it is the
last, and then I shall die in peace--let me kiss that hand before I
"Well, nay," says she, "I don't know what I am doing--well--there."
She then carelessly gave him her hand, which he put gently to his
lips, and then presently let it drop, and fell back in the bed.
Amelia now summoned Mrs. Atkinson, who was indeed no further off than
just without the door. She then hastened down-stairs, and called for a
great glass of water, which having drank off, she threw herself into a
chair, and the tears ran plentifully from her eyes with compassion for
the poor wretch she had just left in his bed.
To say the truth, without any injury to her chastity, that heart,
which had stood firm as a rock to all the attacks of title and
equipage, of finery and flattery, and which all the treasures of the
universe could not have purchased, was yet a little softened by the
plain, honest, modest, involuntary, delicate, heroic passion of this
poor and humble swain; for whom, in spite of herself, she felt a
momentary tenderness and complacence, at which Booth, if he had known
it, would perhaps have been displeased.
Having staid some time in the parlour, and not finding Mrs. Atkinson
come down (for indeed her husband was then so bad she could not quit
him), Amelia left a message with the maid of the house for her
mistress, purporting that she should be ready to do anything in her
power to serve her, and then left the house with a confusion on her
mind that she had never felt before, and which any chastity that is
not hewn out of marble must feel on so tender and delicate an
_In which Mr. Booth meets with more than one adventure._
Booth, having hunted for about two hours, at last saw a young lady in
a tattered silk gown stepping out of a shop in Monmouth--street into a
hackney-coach. This lady, notwithstanding the disguise of her dress,
he presently discovered to be no other than little Betty.
He instantly gave the alarm of stop thief, stop coach! upon which Mrs.
Betty was immediately stopt in her vehicle, and Booth and his
myrmidons laid hold of her.
The girl no sooner found that she was seised by her master than the
consciousness of her guilt overpowered her; for she was not yet an
experienced offender, and she immediately confessed her crime.
She was then carried before a justice of peace, where she was
searched, and there was found in her possession four shillings and
sixpence in money, besides the silk gown, which was indeed proper
furniture for rag-fair, and scarce worth a single farthing, though the
honest shopkeeper in Monmouth-street had sold it for a crown to the
The girl, being examined by the magistrate, spoke as follows:--
"Indeed, sir, an't please your worship, I am very sorry for what I
have done; and to be sure, an't please your honour, my lord, it must
have been the devil that put me upon it; for to be sure, please your
majesty, I never thought upon such a thing in my whole life before,
any more than I did of my dying-day; but, indeed, sir, an't please
She was running on in this manner when the justice interrupted her,
and desired her to give an account of what she had taken from her
master, and what she had done with it.
"Indeed, an't please your majesty," said she, "I took no more than two
shifts of madam's, and I pawned them for five shillings, which I gave
for the gown that's upon my back; and as for the money in my pocket,
it is every farthing of it my own. I am sure I intended to carry back
the shifts too as soon as ever I could get money to take them out."
The girl having told them where the pawnbroker lived, the justice sent
to him, to produce the shifts, which he presently did; for he expected
that a warrant to search his house would be the consequence of his
The shifts being produced, on which the honest pawnbroker had lent
five shillings, appeared plainly to be worth above thirty; indeed,
when new they had cost much more: so that, by their goodness as well
as by their size, it was certain they could not have belonged to the
girl. Booth grew very warm against the pawnbroker. "I hope, sir," said
he to the justice, "there is some punishment for this fellow likewise,
who so plainly appears to have known that these goods were stolen. The
shops of these fellows may indeed be called the fountains of theft;
for it is in reality the encouragement which they meet with from these
receivers of their goods that induces men very often to become
thieves, so that these deserve equal if not severer punishment than
the thieves themselves."
The pawnbroker protested his innocence, and denied the taking in the
shifts. Indeed, in this he spoke truth, for he had slipt into an inner
room, as was always his custom on these occasions, and left a little
boy to do the business; by which means he had carried on the trade of
receiving stolen goods for many years with impunity, and had been
twice acquitted at the Old Bailey, though the juggle appeared upon the
most manifest evidence.
As the justice was going to speak he was interrupted by the girl, who,
falling upon her knees to Booth, with many tears begged his
"Indeed, Betty," cries Booth, "you do not deserve forgiveness; for you
know very good reasons why you should not have thought of robbing your
mistress, particularly at this time. And what further aggravates your
crime is, that you robbed the best and kindest mistress in the world.
Nay, you are not only guilty of felony, but of a felonious breach of
trust, for you know very well everything your mistress had was
intrusted to your care."
Now it happened, by very great accident, that the justice before whom
the girl was brought understood the law. Turning therefore to Booth,
he said, "Do you say, sir, that this girl was intrusted with the
"Yes, sir," said Booth, "she was intrusted with everything."
"And will you swear that the goods stolen," said the justice, "are
worth forty shillings?"
"No, indeed, sir," answered Booth, "nor that they are worthy thirty
"Then, sir," cries the justice, "the girl cannot be guilty of felony."
"How, sir," said Booth, "is it not a breach of trust? and is not a
breach of trust felony, and the worst felony too?"
"No, sir," answered the justice; "a breach of trust is no crime in our
law, unless it be in a servant; and then the act of parliament
requires the goods taken to be of the value of forty shillings."
"So then a servant," cries Booth, "may rob his master of thirty-nine
shillings whenever he pleases, and he can't be punished."
"If the goods are under his care, he can't," cries the justice.
"I ask your pardon, sir," says Booth. "I do not doubt what you say;
but sure this is a very extraordinary law."
"Perhaps I think so too," said the justice; "but it belongs not to my
office to make or to mend laws. My business is only to execute them.
If therefore the case be as you say, I must discharge the girl."
"I hope, however, you will punish the pawnbroker," cries Booth.
"If the girl is discharged," cries the justice, "so must be the
pawnbroker; for, if the goods are not stolen, he cannot be guilty of
receiving them knowing them to be stolen. And, besides, as to his
offence, to say the truth, I am almost weary of prosecuting it; for
such are the difficulties laid in the way of this prosecution, that it
is almost impossible to convict any one on it. And, to speak my
opinion plainly, such are the laws, and such the method of proceeding,
that one would almost think our laws were rather made for the
protection of rogues than for the punishment of them."
Thus ended this examination: the thief and the receiver went about
their business, and Booth departed in order to go home to his wife.
In his way home Booth was met by a lady in a chair, who, immediately
upon seeing him, stopt her chair, bolted out of it, and, going
directly up to him, said, "So, Mr. Booth, you have kept your word with
The lady was no other than Miss Matthews, and the speech she meant was
of a promise made to her at the masquerade of visiting her within a
day or two; which, whether he ever intended to keep I cannot say, but,
in truth, the several accidents that had since happened to him had so
discomposed his mind that he had absolutely forgot it.
Booth, however, was too sensible and too well-bred to make the excuse
of forgetfulness to a lady; nor could he readily find any other. While
he stood therefore hesitating, and looking not over-wise, Miss
Matthews said, "Well, sir, since by your confusion I see you have some
grace left, I will pardon you on one condition, and that is that you
will sup with me this night. But, if you fail me now, expect all the
revenge of an injured woman." She then bound herself by a most
outrageous oath that she would complain to his wife--" And I am sure,"
says she, "she is so much a woman of honour as to do me justice. And,
though I miscarried in my first attempt, be assured I will take care
of my second."
Booth asked what she meant by her first attempt; to which she answered
that she had already writ his wife an account of his ill-usage of her,
but that she was pleased it had miscarried. She then repeated her
asseveration that she would now do it effectually if he disappointed
This threat she reckoned would most certainly terrify poor Booth; and,
indeed, she was not mistaken; for I believe it would have been
impossible, by any other menace or by any other means, to have brought
him once even to balance in his mind on this question. But by this
threat she prevailed; and Booth promised, upon his word and honour, to
come to her at the hour she appointed. After which she took leave of
him with a squeeze by the hand, and a smiling countenance, and walked
back to her chair.
But, however she might be pleased with having obtained this promise,
Booth was far from being delighted with the thoughts of having given
it. He looked, indeed, upon the consequences of this meeting with
horrour; but as to the consequence which was so apparently intended by
the lady, he resolved against it. At length he came to this
determination, to go according to his appointment, to argue the matter
with the lady, and to convince her, if possible, that, from a regard
to his honour only, he must discontinue her acquaintance. If this
failed to satisfy her, and she still persisted in her threats to
acquaint his wife with the affair, he then resolved, whatever pains it
cost him, to communicate the whole truth himself to Amelia, from whose
goodness he doubted not but to obtain an absolute remission.
_In which Amelia appears in a light more amiable than gay._
We will now return to Amelia, whom we left in some perturbation of
mind departing from Mrs. Atkinson.
Though she had before walked through the streets in a very improper
dress with Mrs. Atkinson, she was unwilling, especially as she was
alone, to return in the same manner. Indeed, she was scarce able to
walk in her present condition; for the case of poor Atkinson had much
affected her tender heart, and her eyes had overflown with many tears.
It occurred likewise to her at present that she had not a single
shilling in her pocket or at home to provide food for herself and her
family. In this situation she resolved to go immediately to the
pawnbroker whither she had gone before, and to deposit her picture for
what she could raise upon it. She then immediately took a chair and
put her design in execution.
The intrinsic value of the gold in which this picture was set, and of
the little diamonds which surrounded it, amounted to nine guineas.
This therefore was advanced to her, and the prettiest face in the
world (such is often the fate of beauty) was deposited, as of no
value, into the bargain.
When she came home she found the following letter from Mrs. Atkinson:-
"MY DEAREST MADAM,--As I know your goodness, I could not delay a
moment acquainting you with the happy turn of my affairs since you
went. The doctor, on his return to visit my husband, has assured me
that the captain was on the recovery, and in very little danger; and I
really think he is since mended. I hope to wait on you soon with
better news. Heaven bless you, dear madam! and believe me to be, with
the utmost sincerity,
Your most obliged, obedient, humble servant,
Amelia was really pleased with this letter; and now, it being past
four o'clock, she despaired of seeing her husband till the evening.
She therefore provided some tarts for her children, and then, eating
nothing but a slice of bread and butter herself, she began to prepare
for the captain's supper.
There were two things of which her husband was particularly fond,
which, though it may bring the simplicity of his taste into great
contempt with some of my readers, I will venture to name. These were a
fowl and egg sauce and mutton broth; both which Amelia immediately
As soon as the clock struck seven the good creature went down into the
kitchen, and began to exercise her talents of cookery, of which she
was a great mistress, as she was of every economical office from the
highest to the lowest: and, as no woman could outshine her in a
drawing-room, so none could make the drawing-room itself shine
brighter than Amelia. And, if I may speak a bold truth, I question
whether it be possible to view this fine creature in a more amiable
light than while she was dressing her husband's supper, with her
little children playing round her.
It was now half an hour past eight, and the meat almost ready, the
table likewise neatly spread with materials borrowed from her
landlady, and she began to grow a little uneasy at Booth's not
returning when a sudden knock at the door roused her spirits, and she
cried, "There, my dear, there is your good papa;" at which words she
darted swiftly upstairs and opened the door to her husband.
She desired her husband to walk up into the dining-room, and she would
come to him in an instant; for she was desirous to encrease his
pleasure by surprising him with his two favourite dishes. She then
went down again to the kitchen, where the maid of the house undertook
to send up the supper, and she with her children returned to Booth.
He then told her concisely what had happened with relation to the
girl--to which she scarce made any answer, but asked him if he had not
dined? He assured her he had not eat a morsel the whole day.
"Well," says she, "my dear, I am a fellow-sufferer; but we shall both
enjoy our supper the more; for I have made a little provision for you,
as I guessed what might be the case. I have got you a bottle of wine
too. And here is a clean cloth and a smiling countenance, my dear
Will. Indeed, I am in unusual good spirits to-night, and I have made a
promise to the children, which you must confirm; I have promised to
let them sit up this one night to supper with us.--Nay, don't look so
serious: cast off all uneasy thoughts, I have a present for you here--
no matter how I came by it."--At which words she put eight guineas
into his hand, crying, "Come, my dear Bill, be gay--Fortune will yet
be kind to us--at least let us be happy this night. Indeed, the
pleasures of many women during their whole lives will not amount to my
happiness this night if you will be in good humour."
Booth fetched a deep sigh, and cried, "How unhappy am I, my dear,
that I can't sup with you to-night!"
As in the delightful month of June, when the sky is all serene, and
the whole face of nature looks with a pleasing and smiling aspect,
suddenly a dark cloud spreads itself over the hemisphere, the sun
vanishes from our sight, and every object is obscured by a dark and
horrid gloom; so happened it to Amelia: the joy that had enlightened
every feature disappeared in a moment; the lustre forsook her shining
eyes, and all the little loves that played and wantoned in her cheeks
hung their drooping heads, and with a faint trembling voice she
repeated her husband's words, "Not sup with me to-night, my dear!"
"Indeed, my dear," answered he, "I cannot. I need not tell you how
uneasy it makes me, or that I am as much disappointed as yourself; but
I am engaged to sup abroad. I have absolutely given my honour; and
besides, it is on business of importance."
"My dear," said she, "I say no more. I am convinced you would not
willingly sup from me. I own it is a very particular disappointment to
me to-night, when I had proposed unusual pleasure; but the same reason
which is sufficient to you ought to be so to me."
Booth made his wife a compliment on her ready compliance, and then
asked her what she intended by giving him that money, or how she came
"I intend, my dear," said she, "to give it you; that is all. As to the
manner in which I came by it, you know, Billy, that is not very
material. You are well assured I got it by no means which would
displease you; and, perhaps, another time I may tell you."
Booth asked no farther questions; but he returned her, and insisted on
her taking, all but one guinea, saying she was the safest treasurer.
He then promised her to make all the haste home in his power, and he
hoped, he said, to be with her in an hour and half at farthest, and
then took his leave.
When he was gone the poor disappointed Amelia sat down to supper with
her children, with whose company she was forced to console herself for
the absence of her husband.
_A very tragic scene._
The clock had struck eleven, and Amelia was just proceeding to put her
children to bed, when she heard a knock at the street-door; upon which
the boy cried out, "There's papa, mamma; pray let me stay and see him
before I go to bed." This was a favour very easily obtained; for
Amelia instantly ran down-stairs, exulting in the goodness of her
husband for returning so soon, though half an hour was already elapsed
beyond the time in which he promised to return.
Poor Amelia was now again disappointed; for it was not her husband at
the door, but a servant with a letter for him, which he delivered into
her hands. She immediately returned up-stairs, and said--"It was not
your papa, my dear; but I hope it is one who hath brought us some good
news." For Booth had told her that he hourly expected to receive such
from the great man, and had desired her to open any letter which came
to him in his absence.
Amelia therefore broke open the letter, and read as follows:
"SIR,--After what hath passed between us, I need only tell you that I
know you supped this very night alone with Miss Matthews: a fact which
will upbraid you sufficiently, without putting me to that trouble, and
will very well account for my desiring the favour of seeing you to-
morrow in Hyde-park at six in the morning. You will forgive me
reminding you once more how inexcusable this behaviour is in you, who
are possessed in your own wife of the most inestimable jewel.
I shall bring pistols with me."
It is not easy to describe the agitation of Amelia's mind when she
read this letter. She threw herself into her chair, turned as pale as
death, began to tremble all over, and had just power enough left to
tap the bottle of wine, which she had hitherto preserved entire for
her husband, and to drink off a large bumper.
The little boy perceived the strange symptoms which appeared in his
mother; and running to her, he cried, "What's the matter, my dear
mamma? you don't look well!--No harm hath happened to poor papa, I
hope--Sure that bad man hath not carried him away again?"
Amelia answered, "No, child, nothing--nothing at all." And then a
large shower of tears came to her assistance, which presently after
produced the same in the eyes of both the children.
Amelia, after a short silence, looking tenderly at her children, cried
out, "It is too much, too much to bear. Why did I bring these little
wretches into the world? why were these innocents born to such a
fate?" She then threw her arms round them both (for they were before
embracing her knees), and cried, "O my children! my children! forgive
me, my babes! Forgive me that I have brought you into such a world as
this! You are undone--my children are undone!"
The little boy answered with great spirit, "How undone, mamma? my
sister and I don't care a farthing for being undone. Don't cry so upon
our accounts--we are both very well; indeed we are. But do pray tell
us. I am sure some accident hath happened to poor papa."
"Mention him no more," cries Amelia; "your papa is--indeed he is a
wicked man--he cares not for any of us. O Heavens! is this the
happiness I promised myself this evening?" At which words she fell
into an agony, holding both her children in her arms.
The maid of the house now entered the room, with a letter in her hand
which she had received from a porter, whose arrival the reader will
not wonder to have been unheard by Amelia in her present condition.
The maid, upon her entrance into the room, perceiving the situation of
Amelia, cried out, "Good Heavens! madam, what's the matter?" Upon
which Amelia, who had a little recovered herself after the last
violent vent of her passion, started up and cried, "Nothing, Mrs.
Susan--nothing extraordinary. I am subject to these fits sometimes;
but I am very well now. Come, my dear children, I am very well again;
indeed I am. You must now go to bed; Mrs. Susan will be so good as to
put you to bed."
"But why doth not papa love us?" cries the little boy. "I am sure we
have none of us done anything to disoblige him."
This innocent question of the child so stung Amelia that she had the
utmost difficulty to prevent a relapse. However, she took another dram
of wine; for so it might be called to her, who was the most temperate
of women, and never exceeded three glasses on any occasion. In this
glass she drank her children's health, and soon after so well soothed
and composed them that they went quietly away with Mrs. Susan.
The maid, in the shock she had conceived at the melancholy, indeed
frightful scene, which had presented itself to her at her first coming
into the room, had quite forgot the letter which she held in her hand.
However, just at her departure she recollected it, and delivered it to
Amelia, who was no sooner alone than she opened it, and read as
"MY DEAREST, SWEETEST LOVE,--I write this from the bailiff's house
where I was formerly, and to which I am again brought at the suit of
that villain Trent. I have the misfortune to think I owe this accident
(I mean that it happened to-night) to my own folly in endeavouring to
keep a secret from you. O my dear! had I had resolution to confess my
crime to you, your forgiveness would, I am convinced, have cost me
only a few blushes, and I had now been happy in your arms. Fool that I
was, to leave you on such an account, and to add to a former
transgression a new one!--Yet, by Heavens! I mean not a transgression
of the like kind; for of that I am not nor ever will be guilty; and
when you know the true reason of my leaving you to-night I think you
will pity rather than upbraid me. I am sure you would if you knew the
compunction with which I left you to go to the most worthless, the
most infamous. Do guess the rest--guess that crime with which I cannot
stain my paper--but still believe me no more guilty than I am, or, if
it will lessen your vexation at what hath befallen me, believe me as
guilty as you please, and think me, for a while at least, as
undeserving of you as I think myself. This paper and pen are so bad, I
question whether you can read what I write: I almost doubt whether I
wish you should. Yet this I will endeavour to make as legible as I
can. Be comforted, my dear love, and still keep up your spirits with
the hopes of better days. The doctor will be in town to-morrow, and I
trust on his goodness for my delivery once more from this place, and
that I shall soon be able to repay him. That Heaven may bless and
preserve you is the prayer of, my dearest love,
Your ever fond, affectionate,
and hereafter, faithful husband,
Amelia pretty well guessed the obscure meaning of this letter, which,
though at another time it might have given her unspeakable torment,
was at present rather of the medicinal kind, and served to allay her
anguish. Her anger to Booth too began a little to abate, and was
softened by her concern for his misfortune. Upon the whole, however,
she passed a miserable and sleepless night, her gentle mind torn and
distracted with various and contending passions, distressed with
doubts, and wandering in a kind of twilight which presented her only
objects of different degrees of horror, and where black despair closed
at a small distance the gloomy prospect.
_The book begins with polite history._
Before we return to the miserable couple, whom we left at the end of
the last book, we will give our reader the more chearful view of the
gay and happy family of Colonel James.
Mrs. James, when she could not, as we have seen, prevail with Amelia
to accept that invitation which, at the desire of the colonel, she had
so kindly and obediently carried her, returned to her husband and
acquainted him with the ill success of her embassy; at which, to say
the truth, she was almost as much disappointed as the colonel himself;
for he had not taken a much stronger liking to Amelia than she herself
had conceived for Booth. This will account for some passages which may
have a little surprized the reader in the former chapters of this
history, as we were not then at leisure to communicate to them a hint
of this kind; it was, indeed, on Mr. Booth's account that she had been
at the trouble of changing her dress at the masquerade.
But her passions of this sort, happily for her, were not extremely
strong; she was therefore easily baulked; and, as she met with no
encouragement from Booth, she soon gave way to the impetuosity of Miss
Matthews, and from that time scarce thought more of the affair till
her husband's design against the wife revived her's likewise; insomuch
that her passion was at this time certainly strong enough for Booth,
to produce a good hearty hatred for Amelia, whom she now abused to the
colonel in very gross terms, both on the account of her poverty and
her insolence, for so she termed the refusal of all her offers.
The colonel, seeing no hopes of soon possessing his new mistress,
began, like a prudent and wise man, to turn his thoughts towards the
securing his old one. From what his wife had mentioned concerning the
behaviour of the shepherdess, and particularly her preference of
Booth, he had little doubt but that this was the identical Miss
Matthews. He resolved therefore to watch her closely, in hopes of
discovering Booth's intrigue with her. In this, besides the remainder
of affection which he yet preserved for that lady, he had another
view, as it would give him a fair pretence to quarrel with Booth; who,
by carrying on this intrigue, would have broke his word and honour
given to him. And he began now to hate poor Booth heartily, from the
same reason from which Mrs. James had contracted her aversion to
The colonel therefore employed an inferior kind of pimp to watch the
lodgings of Miss Matthews, and to acquaint him if Booth, whose person
was known to the pimp, made any visit there.
The pimp faithfully performed his office, and, having last night made
the wished-for discovery, immediately acquainted his master with it.
Upon this news the colonel presently despatched to Booth the short
note which we have before seen. He sent it to his own house instead of
Miss Matthews's, with hopes of that very accident which actually did
happen. Not that he had any ingredient of the bully in him, and
desired to be prevented from fighting, but with a prospect of injuring
Booth in the affection and esteem of Amelia, and of recommending
himself somewhat to her by appearing in the light of her champion; for
which purpose he added that compliment to Amelia in his letter. He
concluded upon the whole that, if Booth himself opened the letter, he
would certainly meet him the next morning; but if his wife should open
it before he came home it might have the effects before mentioned;
and, for his future expostulation with Booth, it would not be in
Amelia's power to prevent it.
Now it happened that this pimp had more masters than one. Amongst
these was the worthy Mr. Trent, for whom he had often done business of
the pimping vocation. He had been employed indeed in the service of
the great peer himself, under the direction of the said Trent, and was
the very person who had assisted the said Trent in dogging Booth and
his wife to the opera-house on the masquerade night.
This subaltern pimp was with his superior Trent yesterday morning,
when he found a bailiff with him in order to receive his instructions
for the arresting Booth, when the bailiff said it would be a very
difficult matter to take him, for that to his knowledge he was as shy
a cock as any in England. The subaltern immediately acquainted Trent
with the business in which he was employed by the colonel; upon which
Trent enjoined him the moment he had set him to give immediate notice
to the bailiff, which he agreed to, and performed accordingly.
The bailiff, on receiving the notice, immediately set out for his
stand at an alehouse within three doors of Miss Matthews's lodgings;
at which, unfortunately for poor Booth, he arrived a very few minutes
before Booth left that lady in order to return to Amelia.
These were several matters of which we thought necessary our reader
should be informed; for, besides that it conduces greatly to a perfect
understanding of all history, there is no exercise of the mind of a
sensible reader more pleasant than the tracing the several small and
almost imperceptible links in every chain of events by which all the
great actions of the world are produced. We will now in the next
chapter proceed with our history.
_In which Amelia visits her husband._
Amelia, after much anxious thinking, in which she sometimes flattered
herself that her husband was less guilty than she had at first
imagined him, and that he had some good excuse to make for himself
(for, indeed, she was not so able as willing to make one for him), at
length resolved to set out for the bailiff's castle. Having therefore
strictly recommended the care of her children to her good landlady,
she sent for a hackney coach, and ordered the coachman to drive to
When she came to the house, and asked for the captain, the bailiff's
wife, who came to the door, guessing, by the greatness of her beauty
and the disorder of her dress, that she was a young lady of pleasure,
answered surlily, "Captain! I do not know of any captain that is here,
not I!" For this good woman was, as well as dame Purgante in Prior, a
bitter enemy to all whores, especially to those of the handsome kind;
for some such she suspected to go shares with her in a certain
property to which the law gave her the sole right.
Amelia replied she was certain that Captain Booth was there. "Well, if
he is so," cries the bailiff's wife, "you may come into the kitchen if
you will, and he shall be called down to you if you have any business
with him." At the same time she muttered something to herself, and
concluded a little more intelligibly, though still in a muttering
voice, that she kept no such house.
Amelia, whose innocence gave her no suspicion of the true cause of
this good woman's sullenness, was frightened, and began to fear she
knew not what. At last she made a shift to totter into the kitchen,
when the mistress of the house asked her, "Well, madam, who shall I
tell the captain wants to speak with him?"
"I ask your pardon, madam," cries Amelia; "in my confusion I really
forgot you did not know me--tell him, if you please, that I am his
"And you are indeed his wife, madam?" cries Mrs. Bailiff, a little
"Yes, indeed, and upon my honour," answers Amelia.
"If this be the case," cries the other, "you may walk up-stairs if you
please. Heaven forbid I should part man and wife! Indeed, I think they
can never be too much together. But I never will suffer any bad doings
in my house, nor any of the town ladies to come to gentlemen here."
Amelia answered that she liked her the better: for, indeed, in her
present disposition, Amelia was as much exasperated against wicked
women as the virtuous mistress of the house, or any other virtuous
woman could be.
The bailiff's wife then ushered Amelia up-stairs, and, having unlocked
the prisoner's doors, cried, "Captain, here is your lady, sir, come to
see you." At which words Booth started up from his chair, and caught
Amelia in his arms, embracing her for a considerable time with so much
rapture, that the bailiff's wife, who was an eyewitness of this
violent fondness, began to suspect whether Amelia had really told her
truth. However, she had some little awe of the captain; and for fear
of being in the wrong did not interfere, but shut the door and turned
When Booth found himself alone with his wife, and had vented the first
violence of his rapture in kisses and embraces, he looked tenderly at
her and cried, "Is it possible, Amelia, is it possible you can have
this goodness to follow such a wretch as me to such a place as this--
or do you come to upbraid me with my guilt, and to sink me down to
that perdition I so justly deserve?"
"Am I so given to upbraiding then?" says she, in a gentle voice; "have
I ever given you occasion to think I would sink you to perdition?"
"Far be it from me, my love, to think so," answered he. "And yet you
may forgive the utmost fears of an offending, penitent sinner. I know,
indeed, the extent of your goodness, and yet I know my guilt so
"Alas! Mr. Booth," said she, "what guilt is this which you mention,
and which you writ to me of last night?--Sure, by your mentioning to
me so much, you intend to tell me more--nay, indeed, to tell me all;
and not leave my mind open to suspicions perhaps ten times worse than
"Will you give me a patient hearing?" said he.
"I will indeed," answered she, "nay, I am prepared to hear the worst
you can unfold; nay, perhaps, the worst is short of my apprehensions."
Booth then, after a little further apology, began and related to her
the whole that had passed between him and Miss Matthews, from their
first meeting in the prison to their separation the preceding evening.
All which, as the reader knows it already, it would be tedious and
unpardonable to transcribe from his mouth. He told her likewise all
that he had done and suffered to conceal his transgression from her
knowledge. This he assured her was the business of his visit last
night, the consequence of which was, he declared in the most solemn
manner, no other than an absolute quarrel with Miss Matthews, of whom
he had taken a final leave.
When he had ended his narration, Amelia, after a short silence,
answered, "Indeed, I firmly believe every word you have said, but I
cannot now forgive you the fault you have confessed; and my reason is
--because I have forgiven it long ago. Here, my dear," said she, "is
instance that I am likewise capable of keeping a secret."--She then
delivered her husband a letter which she had some time ago received
from Miss Matthews, and which was the same which that lady had
mentioned, and supposed, as Booth had never heard of it, that it had
miscarried; for she sent it by the penny post. In this letter, which
was signed by a feigned name, she had acquainted Amelia with the
infidelity of her husband, and had besides very greatly abused him;
taxing him with many falsehoods, and, among the rest, with having
spoken very slightingly and disrespectfully of his wife.
Amelia never shined forth to Booth in so amiable and great a light;
nor did his own unworthiness ever appear to him so mean and
contemptible as at this instant. However, when he had read the letter,
he uttered many violent protestations to her, that all which related
to herself was absolutely false.
"I am convinced it is," said she. "I would not have a suspicion of the
contrary for the world. I assure you I had, till last night revived it
in my memory, almost forgot the letter; for, as I well knew from whom
it came, by her mentioning obligations which she had conferred on you,
and which you had more than once spoken to me of, I made large
allowances for the situation you was then in; and I was the more
satisfied, as the letter itself, as well as many other circumstances,
convinced me the affair was at an end."
Booth now uttered the most extravagant expressions of admiration and
fondness that his heart could dictate, and accompanied them with the
warmest embraces. All which warmth and tenderness she returned; and
tears of love and joy gushed from both their eyes. So ravished indeed
were their hearts, that for some time they both forgot the dreadful
situation of their affairs.
This, however, was but a short reverie. It soon recurred to Amelia,
that, though she had the liberty of leaving that house when she
pleased, she could not take her beloved husband with her. This thought
stung her tender bosom to the quick, and she could not so far command
herself as to refrain from many sorrowful exclamations against the
hardship of their destiny; but when she saw the effect they had upon
Booth she stifled her rising grief, forced a little chearfulness into
her countenance, and, exerting all the spirits she could raise within
herself, expressed her hopes of seeing a speedy end to their
sufferings. She then asked her husband what she should do for him, and
to whom she should apply for his deliverance?
"You know, my dear," cries Booth, "that the doctor is to be in town
some time to-day. My hopes of immediate redemption are only in him;
and, if that can be obtained, I make no doubt but of the success of
that affair which is in the hands of a gentleman who hath faithfully
promised, and in whose power I am so well assured it is to serve me."
Thus did this poor man support his hopes by a dependence on that
ticket which he had so dearly purchased of one who pretended to manage
the wheels in the great state lottery of preferment. A lottery,
indeed, which hath this to recommend it--that many poor wretches feed
their imaginations with the prospect of a prize during their whole
lives, and never discover they have drawn a blank.
Amelia, who was of a pretty sanguine temper, and was entirely ignorant
of these matters, was full as easy to be deceived into hopes as her
husband; but in reality at present she turned her eyes to no distant
prospect, the desire of regaining her husband's liberty having
engrossed her whole mind.
While they were discoursing on these matters they heard a violent
noise in the house, and immediately after several persons passed by
their door up-stairs to the apartment over their head. This greatly
terrified the gentle spirit of Amelia, and she cried--"Good Heavens,
my dear, must I leave you in this horrid place? I am terrified with a
thousand fears concerning you."
Booth endeavoured to comfort her, saying that he was in no manner of
danger, and that he doubted not but that the doctor would soon be with
him--"And stay, my dear," cries he; "now I recollect, suppose you
should apply to my old friend James; for I believe you are pretty well
satisfied that your apprehensions of him were groundless. I have no
reason to think but that he would be as ready to serve me as
Amelia turned pale as ashes at the name of James, and, instead of
making a direct answer to her husband, she laid hold of him, and
cried, "My dear, I have one favour to beg of you, and I insist on your
granting it me."
Booth readily swore he would deny her nothing.
"It is only this, my dear," said she, "that, if that detested colonel
comes, you will not see him. Let the people of the house tell him you
are not here."
"He knows nothing of my being here," answered Booth; "but why should I
refuse to see him if he should be kind enough to come hither to me?
Indeed, my Amelia, you have taken a dislike to that man without
"I speak not upon that account," cries Amelia; "but I have had dreams
last night about you two. Perhaps you will laugh at my folly, but pray
indulge it. Nay, I insist on your promise of not denying me."
"Dreams! my dear creature," answered he. "What dream can you have had
"One too horrible to be mentioned," replied she.--"I cannot think of
it without horrour; and, unless you will promise me not to see the
colonel till I return, I positively will never leave you."
"Indeed, my Amelia," said Booth, "I never knew you unreasonable
before. How can a woman of your sense talk of dreams?"
"Suffer me to be once at least unreasonable," said Amelia, "as you are
so good-natured to say I am not often so. Consider what I have lately
suffered, and how weak my spirits must be at this time."
As Booth was going to speak, the bailiff, without any ceremony,
entered the room, and cried, "No offence, I hope, madam; my wife, it
seems, did not know you. She thought the captain had a mind for a bit
of flesh by the bye. But I have quieted all matters; for I know you
very well: I have seen that handsome face many a time when I have been
waiting upon the captain formerly. No offence, I hope, madam; but if
my wife was as handsome as you are I should not look for worse goods
Booth conceived some displeasure at this speech, but he did not think
proper to express more than a pish; and then asked the bailiff what
was the meaning of the noise they heard just now?
"I know of no noise," answered the bailiff. "Some of my men have been
carrying a piece of bad luggage up-stairs; a poor rascal that resisted
the law and justice; so I gave him a cut or two with a hanger. If they
should prove mortal, he must thank himself for it. If a man will not
behave like a gentleman to an officer, he must take the consequence;
but I must say that for you, captain, you behave yourself like a
gentleman, and therefore I shall always use you as such; and I hope
you will find bail soon with all my heart. This is but a paultry sum
to what the last was; and I do assure you there is nothing else
against you in the office."
The latter part of the bailiff's speech somewhat comforted Amelia, who
had been a little frightened by the former; and she soon after took
leave of her husband to go in quest of the doctor, who, as Amelia had
heard that morning, was expected in town that very day, which was
somewhat sooner than he had intended at his departure.
Before she went, however, she left a strict charge with the bailiff,
who ushered her very civilly downstairs, that if one Colonel James
came there to enquire for her husband he should deny that he was
She then departed; and the bailiff immediately gave a very strict
charge to his wife, his maid, and his followers, that if one Colonel
James, or any one from him, should enquire after the captain, that
they should let him know he had the captain above-stairs; for he
doubted not but that the colonel was one of Booth's creditors, and he
hoped for a second bail-bond by his means.
_Containing matter pertinent to the history._
Amelia, in her way to the doctor's, determined just to stop at her own
lodgings, which lay a little out of the road, and to pay a momentary
visit to her children.
This was fortunate enough; for, had she called at the doctor's house,
she would have heard nothing of him, which would have caused in her
some alarm and disappointment; for the doctor was set down at Mrs.
Atkinson's, where he was directed to Amelia's lodgings, to which he
went before he called at his own; and here Amelia now found him
playing with her two children.
The doctor had been a little surprized at not finding Amelia at home,
or any one that could give an account of her. He was now more
surprized to see her come in such a dress, and at the disorder which
he very plainly perceived in her pale and melancholy countenance. He
addressed her first (for indeed she was in no great haste to speak),
and cried, "My dear child, what is the matter? where is your husband?
some mischief I am afraid hath happened to him in my absence."
"O my dear doctor!" answered Amelia, "sure some good angel hath sent
you hither. My poor Will is arrested again. I left him in the most
miserable condition in the very house whence your goodness formerly
"Arrested!" cries the doctor. "Then it must be for some very
"I wish it was," said Amelia; "but it is for no less than fifty
"Then," cries the doctor, "he hath been disingenuous with me. He told
me he did not owe ten pounds in the world for which he was liable to
"I know not what to say," cries Amelia. "Indeed, I am afraid to tell
you the truth."
"How, child?" said the doctor--"I hope you will never disguise it to
any one, especially to me. Any prevarication, I promise you, will
forfeit my friendship for ever."
"I will tell you the whole," cries Amelia, "and rely entirely on your
goodness." She then related the gaming story, not forgetting to set in
the fullest light, and to lay the strongest emphasis on, his promise
never to play again.
The doctor fetched a deep sigh when he had heard Amelia's relation,
and cried, "I am sorry, child, for the share you are to partake in
your husband's sufferings; but as for him, I really think he deserves
no compassion. You say he hath promised never to play again, but I
must tell you he hath broke his promise to me already; for I had heard
he was formerly addicted to this vice, and had given him sufficient
caution against it. You will consider, child, I am already pretty
largely engaged for him, every farthing of which I am sensible I must
pay. You know I would go to the utmost verge of prudence to serve you;
but I must not exceed my ability, which is not very great; and I have
several families on my hands who are by misfortune alone brought to
want. I do assure you I cannot at present answer for such a sum as
this without distressing my own circumstances."
"Then Heaven have mercy upon us all!" cries Amelia, "for we have no
other friend on earth: my husband is undone, and these poor little
wretches must be starved."
The doctor cast his eyes on the children, and then cried, "I hope not
so. I told you I must distress my circumstances, and I will distress
them this once on your account, and on the account of these poor
little babes. But things must not go on any longer in this way. You
must take an heroic resolution. I will hire a coach for you to-morrow
morning which shall carry you all down to my parsonage-house. There
you shall have my protection till something can be done for your
husband; of which, to be plain with you, I at present see no
Amelia fell upon her knees in an ecstasy of thanksgiving to the
doctor, who immediately raised her up, and placed her in her chair.
She then recollected herself, and said, "O my worthy friend, I have
still another matter to mention to you, in which I must have both your
advice and assistance. My soul blushes to give you all this trouble;
but what other friend have I?--indeed, what other friend could I apply
to so properly on such an occasion?"
The doctor, with a very kind voice and countenance, desired her to
speak. She then said, "O sir! that wicked colonel whom I have
mentioned to you formerly hath picked some quarrel with my husband
(for she did not think proper to mention the cause), and hath sent him
a challenge. It came to my hand last night after he was arrested: I
opened and read it."
"Give it me, child," said the doctor.
She answered she had burnt it, as was indeed true. "But I remember it
was an appointment to meet with sword and pistol this morning at Hyde-
"Make yourself easy, my dear child," cries the doctor; "I will take
care to prevent any mischief."
"But consider, my dear sir," said she, "this is a tender matter. My
husband's honour is to be preserved as well as his life."
"And so is his soul, which ought to be the dearest of all things,"
cries the doctor. "Honour! nonsense! Can honour dictate to him to
disobey the express commands of his Maker, in compliance with a custom
established by a set of blockheads, founded on false principles of
virtue, in direct opposition to the plain and positive precepts of
religion, and tending manifestly to give a sanction to ruffians, and
to protect them in all the ways of impudence and villany?"
"All this, I believe, is very true," cries Amelia; "but yet you know,
doctor, the opinion of the world."
"You talk simply, child," cries the doctor. "What is the opinion of
the world opposed to religion and virtue? but you are in the wrong. It
is not the opinion of the world; it is the opinion of the idle,
ignorant, and profligate. It is impossible it should be the opinion of
one man of sense, who is in earnest in his belief of our religion.
Chiefly, indeed, it hath been upheld by the nonsense of women, who,
either from their extreme cowardice and desire of protection, or, as
Mr. Bayle thinks, from their excessive vanity, have been always
forward to countenance a set of hectors and bravoes, and to despise
all men of modesty and sobriety; though these are often, at the
bottom, not only the better but the braver men."
"You know, doctor," cries Amelia, "I have never presumed to argue with
you; your opinion is to me always instruction, and your word a law."
"Indeed, child," cries the doctor, "I know you are a good woman; and
yet I must observe to you, that this very desire of feeding the
passion of female vanity with the heroism of her man, old Homer seems
to make the characteristic of a bad and loose woman. He introduces
Helen upbraiding her gallant with having quitted the fight, and left
the victory to Menelaus, and seeming to be sorry that she had left her
husband only because he was the better duellist of the two: but in how
different a light doth he represent the tender and chaste love of
Andromache to her worthy Hector! she dissuades him from exposing
himself to danger, even in a just cause. This is indeed a weakness,
but it is an amiable one, and becoming the true feminine character;
but a woman who, out of heroic vanity (for so it is), would hazard not
only the life but the soul too of her husband in a duel, is a monster,
and ought to be painted in no other character but that of a Fury."
"I assure you, doctor," cries Amelia, "I never saw this matter in the
odious light in which you have truly represented it, before. I am
ashamed to recollect what I have formerly said on this subject. And
yet, whilst the opinion of the world is as it is, one would wish to
comply as far as possible, especially as my husband is an officer of
the army. If it can be done, therefore, with safety to his honour--"
"Again honour!" cries the doctor; "indeed I will not suffer that noble
word to be so basely and barbarously prostituted. I have known some of
these men of honour, as they call themselves, to be the most arrant
rascals in the universe."
"Well, I ask your pardon," said she; "reputation then, if you please,
or any other word you like better; you know my meaning very well."
"I do know your meaning," cries the doctor, "and Virgil knew it a
great while ago. The next time you see your friend Mrs. Atkinson, ask
her what it was made Dido fall in love with AEneas?"
"Nay, dear sir," said Amelia, "do not rally me so unmercifully; think
where my poor husband is now."
"He is," answered the doctor, "where I will presently be with him. In
the mean time, do you pack up everything in order for your journey to-
morrow; for if you are wise, you will not trust your husband a day
longer in this town--therefore to packing."
Amelia promised she would, though indeed she wanted not any warning
for her journey on this account; for when she packed up herself in the
coach, she packed up her all. However, she did not think proper to
mention this to the doctor; for, as he was now in pretty good humour,
she did not care to venture again discomposing his temper.
The doctor then set out for Gray's-inn-lane, and, as soon as he was
gone, Amelia began to consider of her incapacity to take a journey in
her present situation without even a clean shift. At last she
resolved, as she was possessed of seven guineas and a half, to go to
her friend and redeem some of her own and her husband's linen out of
captivity; indeed just so much as would render it barely possible for
them to go out of town with any kind of decency. And this resolution
she immediately executed.
As soon as she had finished her business with the pawnbroker (if a man
who lends under thirty _per cent._ deserves that name), he said
to her, "Pray, madam, did you know that man who was here yesterday
when you brought the picture?" Amelia answered in the negative.
"Indeed, madam," said the broker, "he knows you, though he did not
recollect you while you was here, as your hood was drawn over your
face; but the moment you was gone he begged to look at the picture,
which I, thinking no harm, permitted. He had scarce looked upon it
when he cried out, 'By heaven and earth it is her picture!' He then
asked me if I knew you." "Indeed," says I, "I never saw the lady
In this last particular, however, the pawnbroker a little savoured of
his profession, and made a small deviation from the truth, for, when
the man had asked him if he knew the lady, he answered she was some
poor undone woman who had pawned all her cloathes to him the day
before; and I suppose, says he, this picture is the last of her goods
and chattels. This hint we thought proper to give the reader, as it
may chance to be material.
Amelia answered coldly that she had taken so very little notice of the
man that she scarce remembered he was there.
"I assure you, madam," says the pawnbroker, "he hath taken very great
notice of you; for the man changed countenance upon what I said, and
presently after begged me to give him a dram. Oho! thinks I to myself,
are you thereabouts? I would not be so much in love with some folks as
some people are for more interest than I shall ever make of a thousand
Amelia blushed, and said, with some peevishness, "That she knew
nothing of the man, but supposed he was some impertinent fellow or
"Nay, madam," answered the pawnbroker, "I assure you he is not worthy
your regard. He is a poor wretch, and I believe I am possessed of most
of his moveables. However, I hope you are not offended, for indeed he
said no harm; but he was very strangely disordered, that is the truth
Amelia was very desirous of putting an end to this conversation, and
altogether as eager to return to her children; she therefore bundled
up her things as fast as she could, and, calling for a hackney-coach,
directed the coachman to her lodgings, and bid him drive her home with
all the haste he could.
_In which Dr Harrison visits Colonel James._
The doctor, when he left Amelia, intended to go directly to Booth, but
he presently changed his mind, and determined first to call on the
colonel, as he thought it was proper to put an end to that matter
before he gave Booth his liberty.
The doctor found the two colonels, James and Bath, together. They both
received him very civilly, for James was a very well-bred man, and
Bath always shewed a particular respect to the clergy, he being indeed
a perfect good Christian, except in the articles of fighting and
Our divine sat some time without mentioning the subject of his errand,
in hopes that Bath would go away, but when he found no likelihood of
that (for indeed Bath was of the two much the most pleased with his
company), he told James that he had something to say to him relating
to Mr. Booth, which he believed he might speak before his brother.
"Undoubtedly, sir," said James; "for there can be no secrets between
us which my brother may not hear."
"I come then to you, sir," said the doctor, "from the most unhappy
woman in the world, to whose afflictions you have very greatly and
very cruelly added by sending a challenge to her husband, which hath
very luckily fallen into her hands; for, had the man for whom you
designed it received it, I am afraid you would not have seen me upon
"If I writ such a letter to Mr. Booth, sir," said James, "you may be
assured I did not expect this visit in answer to it."
[Illustration: Dr. Harrison.]
"I do not think you did," cries the doctor; "but you have great reason
to thank Heaven for ordering this matter contrary to your
expectations. I know not what trifle may have drawn this challenge
from you, but, after what I have some reason to know of you, sir, I
must plainly tell you that, if you had added to your guilt already
committed against this man, that of having his blood upon your hands,
your soul would have become as black as hell itself."
"Give me leave to say," cries the colonel, "this is a language which I
am not used to hear; and if your cloth was not your protection you
should not give it me with impunity. After what you know of me, sir!
What do you presume to know of me to my disadvantage?"
"You say my cloth is my protection, colonel," answered the doctor;
"therefore pray lay aside your anger: I do not come with any design of
affronting or offending you."
"Very well," cries Bath; "that declaration is sufficient from a
clergyman, let him say what he pleases."
"Indeed, sir," says the doctor very mildly, "I consult equally the
good of you both, and, in a spiritual sense, more especially yours;
for you know you have injured this poor man."
"So far on the contrary," cries James, "that I have been his greatest
benefactor. I scorn to upbraid him, but you force me to it. Nor have I
ever done him the least injury."
"Perhaps not," said the doctor; "I will alter what I have said. But
for this I apply to your honour--Have you not intended him an injury,
the very intention of which cancels every obligation?"
"How, sir?" answered the colonel; "what do you mean?"
"My meaning," replied the doctor, "is almost too tender to mention.
Come, colonel, examine your own heart, and then answer me, on your
honour, if you have not intended to do him the highest wrong which one
man can do another?"
"I do not know what you mean by the question," answered the colonel.
"D--n me, the question is very transparent! "cries Bath." From any
other man it would be an affront with the strongest emphasis, but from
one of the doctor's cloth it demands a categorical answer."
"I am not a papist, sir," answered Colonel James, "nor am I obliged to
confess to my priest. But if you have anything to say speak openly,
for I do not understand your meaning."
"I have explained my meaning to you already," said the doctor, "in a
letter I wrote to you on the subject--a subject which I am sorry I
should have any occasion to write upon to a Christian."
"I do remember now," cries the colonel, "that I received a very
impertinent letter, something like a sermon, against adultery; but I
did not expect to hear the author own it to my face."
"That brave man then, sir," answered the doctor, "stands before you
who dares own he wrote that letter, and dares affirm too that it was
writ on a just and strong foundation. But if the hardness of your
heart could prevail on you to treat my good intention with contempt
and scorn, what, pray, could induce you to shew it, nay, to give it
Mr. Booth? What motive could you have for that, unless you meant to
insult him, and provoke your rival to give you that opportunity of
putting him out of the world, which you have since wickedly sought by
"I give him the letter!" said the colonel.
"Yes, sir," answered the doctor, "he shewed me the letter, and
affirmed that you gave it him at the masquerade."
"He is a lying rascal, then!" said the colonel very passionately. "I
scarce took the trouble of reading the letter, and lost it out of my
Here Bath interfered, and explained this affair in the manner in which
it happened, and with which the reader is already acquainted. He
concluded by great eulogiums on the performance, and declared it was
one of the most enthusiastic (meaning, perhaps, ecclesiastic) letters
that ever was written. "And d--n me," says he, "if I do not respect
the author with the utmost emphasis of thinking."
The doctor now recollected what had passed with Booth, and perceived
he had made a mistake of one colonel for another. This he presently
acknowledged to Colonel James, and said that the mistake had been his,
and not Booth's.
Bath now collected all his gravity and dignity, as he called it, into
his countenance, and, addressing himself to James, said, "And was that
letter writ to you, brother?--I hope you never deserved any suspicion
of this kind."
"Brother," cries James, "I am accountable to myself for my actions,
and shall not render an account either to you or to that gentleman."
"As to me, brother," answered Bath, "you say right; but I think this
gentleman may call you to an account; nay, I think it is his duty so
to do. And let me tell you, brother, there is one much greater than he
to whom you must give an account. Mrs. Booth is really a fine woman, a
lady of most imperious and majestic presence. I have heard you often
say that you liked her; and, if you have quarrelled with her husband
upon this account, by all the dignity of man I think you ought to ask
"Indeed, brother," cries James, "I can bear this no longer--you will
make me angry presently."
"Angry! brother James," cries Bath; "angry!--I love you, brother, and
have obligations to you. I will say no more, but I hope you know I do
not fear making any man angry."
James answered he knew it well; and then the doctor, apprehending that
while he was stopping up one breach he should make another, presently
interfered, and turned the discourse back to Booth. "You tell me,
sir," said he to James, "that my gown is my protection; let it then at
least protect me where I have had no design in offending--where I have
consulted your highest welfare, as in truth I did in writing this
letter. And if you did not in the least deserve any such suspicion,
still you have no cause for resentment. Caution against sin, even to
the innocent, can never be unwholesome. But this I assure you,
whatever anger you have to me, you can have none to poor Booth, who
was entirely ignorant of my writing to you, and who, I am certain,
never entertained the least suspicion of you; on the contrary, reveres
you with the highest esteem, and love, and gratitude. Let me therefore
reconcile all matters between you, and bring you together before he
hath even heard of this challenge."
"Brother," cries Bath, "I hope I shall not make you angry--I lie when
I say so; for I am indifferent to any man's anger. Let me be an
accessory to what the doctor hath said. I think I may be trusted with
matters of this nature, and it is a little unkind that, if you
intended to send a challenge, you did not make me the bearer. But,
indeed, as to what appears to me, this matter may be very well made
up; and, as Mr. Booth doth not know of the challenge, I don't see why
he ever should, any more than your giving him the lie just now; but
that he shall never have from me, nor, I believe, from this gentleman;
for, indeed, if he should, it would be incumbent upon him to cut your
"Lookee, doctor," said James, "I do not deserve the unkind suspicion
you just now threw out against me. I never thirsted after any man's
blood; and, as for what hath passed, since this discovery hath
happened, I may, perhaps, not think it worth my while to trouble
myself any more about it."
The doctor was not contented with perhaps, he insisted on a firm
promise, to be bound with the colonel's honour. This at length he
obtained, and then departed well satisfied.
In fact, the colonel was ashamed to avow the real cause of the quarrel
to this good man, or, indeed, to his brother Bath, who would not only
have condemned him equally with the doctor, but would possibly have
quarrelled with him on his sister's account, whom, as the reader must
have observed, he loved above all things; and, in plain truth, though
the colonel was a brave man, and dared to fight, yet he was altogether
as willing to let it alone; and this made him now and then give a
little way to the wrongheadedness of Colonel Bath, who, with all the
other principles of honour and humanity, made no more of cutting the
throat of a man upon any of his punctilios than a butcher doth of
_What passed at the bailiff's house._
The doctor now set forwards to his friend Booth, and, as he past by
the door of his attorney in the way, he called upon him and took him
The meeting between him and Booth need not be expatiated on. The
doctor was really angry, and, though he deferred his lecture to a more
proper opportunity, yet, as he was no dissembler (indeed, he was
incapable of any disguise), he could not put on a show of that
heartiness with which he had formerly used to receive his friend.
Booth at last began himself in the following manner: "Doctor, I am
really ashamed to see you; and, if you knew the confusion of my soul
on this occasion, I am sure you would pity rather than upbraid me; and
yet I can say with great sincerity I rejoice in this last instance of
my shame, since I am like to reap the most solid advantage from it."
The doctor stared at this, and Booth thus proceeded: "Since I have
been in this wretched place I have employed my time almost entirely in
reading over a series of sermons which are contained in that book
(meaning Dr Barrow's works, which then lay on the table before him) in
proof of the Christian religion; and so good an effect have they had
upon me, that I shall, I believe, be the better man for them as long
as I live. I have not a doubt (for I own I have had such) which
remains now unsatisfied. If ever an angel might be thought to guide
the pen of a writer, surely the pen of that great and good man had
such an assistant." The doctor readily concurred in the praises of Dr
Barrow, and added, "You say you have had your doubts, young gentleman;
indeed, I did not know that--and, pray, what were your doubts?"
"Whatever they were, sir," said Booth, "they are now satisfied, as I
believe those of every impartial and sensible reader will be if he
will, with due attention, read over these excellent sermons." "Very
well," answered the doctor, "though I have conversed, I find, with a
false brother hitherto, I am glad you are reconciled to truth at last,
and I hope your future faith will have some influence on your future
life." "I need not tell you, sir," replied Booth, "that will always be
the case where faith is sincere, as I assure you mine is. Indeed, I
never was a rash disbeliever; my chief doubt was founded on this--
that, as men appeared to me to act entirely from their passions, their
actions could have neither merit nor demerit." "A very worthy
conclusion truly!" cries the doctor; "but if men act, as I believe
they do, from their passions, it would be fair to conclude that
religion to be true which applies immediately to the strongest of
these passions, hope and fear; chusing rather to rely on its rewards
and punishments than on that native beauty of virtue which some of the
antient philosophers thought proper to recommend to their disciples.
But we will defer this discourse till another opportunity; at present,
as the devil hath thought proper to set you free, I will try if I can
prevail on the bailiff to do the same."
The doctor had really not so much money in town as Booth's debt
amounted to, and therefore, though he would otherwise very willingly
have paid it, he was forced to give bail to the action. For which
purpose, as the bailiff was a man of great form, he was obliged to get
another person to be bound with him. This person, however, the
attorney undertook to procure, and immediately set out in quest of
During his absence the bailiff came into the room, and, addressing
himself to the doctor, said, "I think, sir, your name is Doctor
Harrison?" The doctor immediately acknowledged his name. Indeed, the
bailiff had seen it to a bail-bond before. "Why then, sir," said the
bailiff, "there is a man above in a dying condition that desires the
favour of speaking to you; I believe he wants you to pray by him."
The bailiff himself was not more ready to execute his office on all
occasions for his fee than the doctor was to execute his for nothing.
Without making any further enquiry therefore into the condition of the
man, he immediately went up-stairs.
As soon as the bailiff returned down-stairs, which was immediately
after he had lodged the doctor in the room, Booth had the curiosity to
ask him who this man was. "Why, I don't know much of him," said the
bailiff; "I had him once in custody before now: I remember it was when
your honour was here last; and now I remember, too, he said that he
knew your honour very well. Indeed, I had some opinion of him at that
time, for he spent his money very much like a gentleman; but I have
discovered since that he is a poor fellow, and worth nothing. He is a
mere shy cock; I have had the stuff about me this week, and could
never get at him till this morning; nay, I don't believe we should
ever have found out his lodgings had it not been for the attorney that
was here just now, who gave us information. And so we took him this
morning by a comical way enough; for we dressed up one of my men in
women's cloathes, who told the people of the house that he was his
sister, just come to town--for we were told by the attorney that he
had such a sister, upon which he was let up-stairs--and so kept the
door ajar till I and another rushed in. Let me tell you, captain,
there are as good stratagems made use of in our business as any in the
"But pray, sir," said Booth, "did not you tell me this morning that
the poor fellow was desperately wounded; nay, I think you told the
doctor that he was a dying man?" "I had like to have forgot that,"
cries the bailiff. "Nothing would serve the gentleman but that he must
make resistance, and he gave my man a blow with a stick; but I soon
quieted him by giving him a wipe or two with a hanger. Not that, I
believe, I have done his business neither; but the fellow is faint-
hearted, and the surgeon, I fancy, frightens him more than he need.
But, however, let the worst come to the worst, the law is all on my
side, and it is only _se fendendo_. The attorney that was here just
now told me so, and bid me fear nothing; for that he would stand my
friend, and undertake the cause; and he is a devilish good one at a
defence at the Old Bailey, I promise you. I have known him bring off
several that everybody thought would have been hanged."
"But suppose you should be acquitted," said Booth, "would not the
blood of this poor wretch lie a little heavy at your heart?"
"Why should it, captain?" said the bailiff. "Is not all done in a
lawful way? Why will people resist the law when they know the
consequence? To be sure, if a man was to kill another in an unlawful
manner as it were, and what the law calls murder, that is quite and
clear another thing. I should not care to be convicted of murder any
more than another man. Why now, captain, you have been abroad in the
wars they tell me, and to be sure must have killed men in your time.
Pray, was you ever afraid afterwards of seeing their ghosts?"
"That is a different affair," cries Booth; "but I would not kill a man
in cold blood for all the world."
"There is no difference at all, as I can see," cries the bailiff. "One
is as much in the way of business as the other. When gentlemen behave
themselves like unto gentlemen I know how to treat them as such as
well as any officer the king hath; and when they do not, why they must
take what follows, and the law doth not call it murder."
Booth very plainly saw that the bailiff had squared his conscience
exactly according to law, and that he could not easily subvert his way
of thinking. He therefore gave up the cause, and desired the bailiff
to expedite the bonds, which he promised to do; saying, he hoped he
had used him with proper civility this time, if he had not the last,
and that he should be remembered for it.
But before we close this chapter we shall endeavour to satisfy an
enquiry, which may arise in our most favourite readers (for so are the
most curious), how it came to pass that such a person as was Doctor
Harrison should employ such a fellow as this Murphy?
The case then was thus: this Murphy had been clerk to an attorney in
the very same town in which the doctor lived, and, when he was out of
his time, had set up with a character fair enough, and had married a
maid-servant of Mrs. Harris, by which means he had all the business to
which that lady and her friends, in which number was the doctor, could
Murphy went on with his business, and thrived very well, till he
happened to make an unfortunate slip, in which he was detected by a
brother of the same calling. But, though we call this by the gentle
name of a slip, in respect to its being so extremely common, it was a
matter in which the law, if it had ever come to its ears, would have
passed a very severe censure, being, indeed, no less than perjury and
subornation of perjury.
This brother attorney, being a very good-natured man, and unwilling to
bespatter his own profession, and considering, perhaps, that the
consequence did in no wise affect the public, who had no manner of
interest in the alternative whether A., in whom the right was, or B.,
to whom Mr. Murphy, by the means aforesaid, had transferred it,
succeeded in an action; we mention this particular, because, as this
brother attorney was a very violent party man, and a professed
stickler for the public, to suffer any injury to have been done to
that, would have been highly inconsistent with his principles.
This gentleman, therefore, came to Mr. Murphy, and, after shewing him
that he had it in his power to convict him of the aforesaid crime,
very generously told him that he had not the least delight in bringing
any man to destruction, nor the least animosity against him. All that
he insisted upon was, that he would not live in the same town or
county with one who had been guilty of such an action. He then told
Mr. Murphy that he would keep the secret on two conditions; the one
was, that he immediately quitted that country; the other was, that he
should convince him he deserved this kindness by his gratitude, and
that Murphy should transfer to the other all the business which he
then had in those parts, and to which he could possibly recommend him.
It is the observation of a very wise man, that it is a very common
exercise of wisdom in this world, of two evils to chuse the least. The
reader, therefore, cannot doubt but that Mr. Murphy complied with the
alternative proposed by his kind brother, and accepted the terms on
which secrecy was to be obtained.
This happened while the doctor was abroad, and with all this, except
the departure of Murphy, not only the doctor, but the whole town (save
his aforesaid brother alone), were to this day unacquainted.
The doctor, at his return, hearing that Mr. Murphy was gone, applied
to the other attorney in his affairs, who still employed this Murphy
as his agent in town, partly, perhaps, out of good will to him, and
partly from the recommendation of Miss Harris; for, as he had married
a servant of the family, and a particular favourite of hers, there can
be no wonder that she, who was entirely ignorant of the affair above
related, as well as of his conduct in town, should continue her favour
to him. It will appear, therefore, I apprehend, no longer strange that
the doctor, who had seen this man but three times since his removal to
town, and then conversed with him only on business, should remain as
ignorant of his life and character, as a man generally is of the
character of the hackney-coachman who drives him. Nor doth it reflect
more on the honour or understanding of the doctor, under these
circumstances, to employ Murphy, than it would if he had been driven
about the town by a thief or a murderer.
_What passed between the doctor and the sick man._
We left the doctor in the last chapter with the wounded man, to whom
the doctor, in a very gentle voice, spoke as follows:--
"I am sorry, friend, to see you in this situation, and am very ready
to give you any comfort or assistance within my power."
"I thank you kindly, doctor," said the man. "Indeed I should not have
presumed to have sent to you had I not known your character; for,
though I believe I am not at all known to you, I have lived many years
in that town where you yourself had a house; my name is Robinson. I
used to write for the attorneys in those parts, and I have been
employed on your business in my time."
"I do not recollect you nor your name," said the doctor; "but
consider, friend, your moments are precious, and your business, as I
am informed, is to offer up your prayers to that great Being before
whom you are shortly to appear. But first let me exhort you earnestly
to a most serious repentance of all your sins."
"O doctor!" said the man; "pray; what is your opinion of a death-bed
"If repentance is sincere," cries the doctor, "I hope, through the
mercies and merits of our most powerful and benign Intercessor, it
will never come too late."
"But do not you think, sir," cries the man, "that, in order to obtain
forgiveness of any great sin we have committed, by an injury done to
our neighbours, it is necessary, as far as in us lies, to make all the
amends we can to the party injured, and to undo, if possible, the
injury we have done?"
"Most undoubtedly," cries the doctor; "our pretence to repentance
would otherwise be gross hypocrisy, and an impudent attempt to deceive
and impose upon our Creator himself."
"Indeed, I am of the same opinion," cries the penitent; "and I think
further, that this is thrown in my way, and hinted to me by that great
Being; for an accident happened to me yesterday, by which, as things
have fallen out since, I think I plainly discern the hand of
Providence. I went yesterday, sir, you must know, to a pawnbroker's,
to pawn the last moveable, which, except the poor cloathes you see on
my back, I am worth in the world. While I was there a young lady came
in to pawn her picture. She had disguised herself so much, and pulled
her hood so over her face, that I did not know her while she stayed,
which was scarce three minutes. As soon as she was gone the
pawnbroker, taking the picture in his hand, cried out, _Upon my
word, this is the handsomest face I ever saw in my life!_ I desired
him to let me look on the picture, which he readily did--and I no
sooner cast my eyes upon it, than the strong resemblance struck me,