Part 2 out of 12
opportunity of improving the occasion. In short, the dreadful evening
came. My father, though it was a very unusual thing with him, grew
intoxicated with liquor; most of the men were in the same condition;
nay, I myself drank more than I was accustomed to, enough to inflame,
though not to disorder. I lost my former bed-fellow, my sister, and--
you may, I think, guess the rest--the villain found means to steal to
my chamber, and I was undone.
"Two months I passed in this detested commerce, buying, even then, my
guilty, half-tasted pleasures at too dear a rate, with continual
horror and apprehension; but what have I paid since--what do I pay
now, Mr. Booth? O may my fate be a warning to every woman to keep her
innocence, to resist every temptation, since she is certain to repent
of the foolish bargain. May it be a warning to her to deal with
mankind with care and caution; to shun the least approaches of
dishonour, and never to confide too much in the honesty of a man, nor
in her own strength, where she has so much at stake; let her remember
she walks on a precipice, and the bottomless pit is to receive her if
she slips; nay, if she makes but one false step.
"I ask your pardon, Mr. Booth; I might have spared these exhortations,
since no woman hears me; but you will not wonder at seeing me affected
on this occasion."
Booth declared he was much more surprised at her being able so well to
preserve her temper in recounting her story.
"O sir," answered she, "I am at length reconciled to my fate; and I
can now die with pleasure, since I die revenged. I am not one of those
mean wretches who can sit down and lament their misfortunes. If I ever
shed tears, they are the tears of indignation.--But I will proceed.
"It was my fate now to solicit marriage; and I failed not to do it in
the most earnest manner. He answered me at first with
procrastinations, declaring, from time to time, he would mention it to
my father; and still excusing himself for not doing it. At last he
thought on an expedient to obtain a longer reprieve. This was by
pretending that he should, in a very few weeks, be preferred to the
command of a troop; and then, he said, he could with some confidence
propose the match.
"In this delay I was persuaded to acquiesce, and was indeed pretty
easy, for I had not yet the least mistrust of his honour; but what
words can paint my sensations, when one morning he came into my room,
with all the marks of dejection in his countenance, and, throwing an
open letter on the table, said, 'There is news, madam, in that letter
which I am unable to tell you; nor can it give you more concern than
it hath given me.'
"This letter was from his captain, to acquaint him that the rout, as
they call it, was arrived, and that they were to march within two
days. And this, I am since convinced, was what he expected, instead of
the preferment which had been made the pretence of delaying our
"The shock which I felt at reading this was inexpressible, occasioned
indeed principally by the departure of a villain whom I loved.
However, I soon acquired sufficient presence of mind to remember the
main point; and I now insisted peremptorily on his making me
immediately his wife, whatever might be the consequence.
"He seemed thunderstruck at this proposal, being, I suppose, destitute
of any excuse: but I was too impatient to wait for an answer, and
cried out with much eagerness, Sure you cannot hesitate a moment upon
this matter--'Hesitate! madam!' replied he--'what you ask is
impossible. Is this a time for me to mention a thing of this kind to
your father?'--My eyes were now opened all at once--I fell into a rage
little short of madness. Tell not me, I cried, of impossibilities, nor
times, nor of my father---my honour, my reputation, my all are at
stake.--I will have no excuse, no delay--make me your wife this
instant, or I will proclaim you over the face of the whole earth for
the greatest of villains. He answered, with a kind of sneer, 'What
will you proclaim, madam?--whose honour will you injure?' My tongue
faltered when I offered to reply, and I fell into a violent agony,
which ended in a fit; nor do I remember anything more that past till I
found myself in the arms of my poor affrighted father.
"O, Mr. Booth, what was then my situation! I tremble even now from the
reflection.--I must stop a moment. I can go no farther." Booth
attempted all in his power to soothe her; and she soon recovered her
powers, and proceeded in her story.
_In which Miss Matthews concludes her relation_.
Before I had recovered my senses I had sufficiently betrayed myself to
the best of men, who, instead of upbraiding me, or exerting any anger,
endeavoured to comfort me all he could with assurances that all should
yet be well. This goodness of his affected me with inexpressible
sensations; I prostrated myself before him, embraced and kissed his
knees, and almost dissolved in tears, and a degree of tenderness
hardly to be conceived---But I am running into too minute
"Hebbers, seeing me in a fit, had left me, and sent one of the
servants to take care of me. He then ran away like a thief from the
house, without taking his leave of my father, or once thanking him for
all his civilities. He did not stop at his quarters, but made directly
to London, apprehensive, I believe, either of my father or brother's
resentment; for I am convinced he is a coward. Indeed his fear of my
brother was utterly groundless; for I believe he would rather have
thanked any man who had destroyed me; and I am sure I am not in the
least behindhand with him in good wishes.
"All his inveteracy to me had, however, no effect on my father, at
least at that time; for, though the good man took sufficient occasions
to reprimand me for my past offence, he could not be brought to
abandon me. A treaty of marriage was now set on foot, in which my
father himself offered me to Hebbers, with a fortune superior to that
which had been given with my sister; nor could all my brother's
remonstrances against it, as an act of the highest injustice, avail.
"Hebbers entered into the treaty, though not with much warmth. He had
even the assurance to make additional demands on my father, which
being complied with, everything was concluded, and the villain once
more received into the house. He soon found means to obtain my
forgiveness of his former behaviour; indeed, he convinced me, so
foolishly blind is female love, that he had never been to blame.
"When everything was ready for our nuptials, and the day of the
ceremony was to be appointed, in the midst of my happiness I received
a letter from an unknown hand, acquainting me (guess, Mr. Booth, how I
was shocked at receiving it) that Mr. Hebbers was already married to a
woman in a distant part of the kingdom.
"I will not tire you with all that past at our next interview. I
communicated the letter to Hebbers, who, after some little hesitation,
owned the fact, and not only owned it, but had the address to improve
it to his own advantage, to make it the means of satisfying me
concerning all his former delays; which, to say the truth, I was not
so much displeased at imputing to any degree of villany, as I should
have been to impute it to the want of a sufficient warmth of
affection, and though the disappointment of all my hopes, at the very
instant of their expected fruition, threw me into the most violent
disorders; yet, when I came a little to myself, he had no great
difficulty to persuade me that in every instance, with regard to me,
Hebbers had acted from no other motive than from the most ardent and
ungovernable love. And there is, I believe, no crime which a woman
will not forgive, when she can derive it from that fountain. In short,
I forgave him all, and am willing to persuade myself I am not weaker
than the rest of my sex. Indeed, Mr. Booth, he hath a bewitching
tongue, and is master of an address that no woman could resist. I do
assure you the charms of his person are his least perfection, at least
in my eye."
Here Booth smiled, but happily without her perceiving it.
"A fresh difficulty (continued she) now arose. This was to excuse the
delay of the ceremony to my father, who every day very earnestly urged
it. This made me so very uneasy, that I at last listened to a
proposal, which, if any one in the days of my innocence, or even a few
days before, had assured me I could have submitted to have thought of,
I should have treated the supposition with the highest contempt and
indignation; nay, I scarce reflect on it now with more horror than
astonishment. In short, I agreed to run away with him--to leave my
father, my reputation, everything which was or ought to have been dear
to me, and to live with this villain as a mistress, since I could not
be his wife.
"Was not this an obligation of the highest and tenderest kind, and had
I not reason to expect every return in the man's power on whom I had
conferred it? "I will make short of the remainder of my story, for
what is there of a woman worth relating, after what I have told you?
"Above a year I lived with this man in an obscure court in London,
during which time I had a child by him, whom Heaven, I thank it, hath
been pleased to take to itself.
"During many months he behaved to me with all the apparent tenderness
and even fondness imaginable; but, alas! how poor was my enjoyment of
this compared to what it would have been in another situation? When he
was present, life was barely tolerable: but, when he was absent,
nothing could equal the misery I endured. I past my hours almost
entirely alone; for no company but what I despised, would consort with
me. Abroad I scarce ever went, lest I should meet any of my former
acquaintance; for their sight would have plunged a thousand daggers in
my soul. My only diversion was going very seldom to a play, where I
hid myself in the gallery, with a daughter of the woman of the house.
A girl, indeed, of good sense and many good qualities; but how much
beneath me was it to be the companion of a creature so low! O heavens!
when I have seen my equals glittering in a side-box, how have the
thoughts of my lost honour torn my soul!"
"Pardon me, dear madam," cries Booth, "for interrupting you; but I am
under the utmost anxiety to know what became of your poor father, for
whom I have so great a respect, and who, I am convinced, must so
bitterly feel your loss."
"O Mr. Booth," answered she, "he was scarce ever out of my thoughts.
His dear image still obtruded itself in my mind, and I believe would
have broken my heart, had I not taken a very preposterous way to ease
myself. I am, indeed, almost ashamed to tell you; but necessity put it
in my head.--You will think the matter too trifling to have been
remembered, and so it surely was; nor should I have remembered it on
any other occasion. You must know then, sir, that my brother was
always my inveterate enemy and altogether as fond of my sister.--He
once prevailed with my father to let him take my sister with him in
the chariot, and by that means I was disappointed of going to a ball
which I had set my heart on. The disappointment, I assure you, was
great at the time; but I had long since forgotten it. I must have been
a very bad woman if I had not, for it was the only thing in which I
can remember that my father ever disobliged me. However, I now revived
this in my mind, which I artificially worked up into so high an
injury, that I assure you it afforded me no little comfort. When any
tender idea intruded into my bosom, I immediately raised this fantom
of an injury in my imagination, and it considerably lessened the fury
of that sorrow which I should have otherwise felt for the loss of so
good a father, who died within a few months of my departure from him.
"And now, sir, to draw to a conclusion. One night, as I was in the
gallery at Drury-lane playhouse, I saw below me in a side-box (she was
once below me in every place), that widow whom I mentioned to you
before. I had scarce cast my eyes on this woman before I was so
shocked with the sight that it almost deprived me of my senses; for
the villain Hebbers came presently in and seated himself behind her.
"He had been almost a month from me, and I believed him to be at his
quarters in Yorkshire. Guess what were my sensations when I beheld him
sitting by that base woman, and talking to her with the utmost
familiarity. I could not long endure this sight, and having acquainted
my companion that I was taken suddenly ill, I forced her to go home
with me at the end of the second act.
"After a restless and sleepless night, when I rose the next morning I
had the comfort to receive a visit from the woman of the house, who,
after a very short introduction, asked me when I had heard from the
captain, and when I expected to see him? I had not strength or spirits
to make her any answer, and she proceeded thus:--'Indeed I did not
think the captain would have used me so. My husband was an officer of
the army as well as himself; and if a body is a little low in the
world, I am sure that is no reason for folks to trample on a body. I
defy the world to say as I ever was guilty of an ill thing.' For
heaven's sake, madam, says I, what do you mean? 'Mean?' cries she; 'I
am sure, if I had not thought you had been Captain Hebbers' lady, his
lawful lady too, you should never have set footing in my house. I
would have Captain Hebbers know, that though I am reduced to let
lodgings, I never have entertained any but persons of character.'--In
this manner, sir, she ran on, saying many shocking things not worth
repeating, till my anger at last got the better of my patience as well
as my sorrow, and I pushed her out of the room.
"She had not been long gone before her daughter came to me, and, after
many expressions of tenderness and pity, acquainted me that her mother
had just found out, by means of the captain's servant, that the
captain was married to another lady; 'which, if you did not know
before, madam,' said she, 'I am sorry to be the messenger of such ill
"Think, Mr. Booth, what I must have endured to see myself humbled
before such a creature as this, the daughter of a woman who lets
lodgings! However, having recollected myself a little, I thought it
would be in vain to deny anything; so, knowing this to be one of the
best-natured and most sensible girls in the world, I resolved to tell
her my whole story, and for the future to make her my confidante. I
answered her, therefore, with a good deal of assurance, that she need
not regret telling me this piece of ill news, for I had known it
before I came to her house.
"'Pardon me, madam,' replied the girl, 'you cannot possibly have known
it so long, for he hath not been married above a week; last night was
the first time of his appearing in public with his wife at the play.
Indeed, I knew very well the cause of your uneasiness there; but would
"His wife at the play? answered I eagerly. What wife? whom do you
"'I mean the widow Carey, madam,' replied she, 'to whom the captain
was married a few days since. His servant was here last night to pay
for your lodging, and he told it my mother.'
"I know not what answer I made, or whether I made any. I presently
fell dead on the floor, and it was with great difficulty I was brought
back to life by the poor girl, for neither the mother nor the maid of
the house would lend me any assistance, both seeming to regard me
rather as a monster than a woman.
"Scarce had I recovered the use of my senses when I received a letter
from the villain, declaring he had not assurance to see my face, and
very kindly advising me to endeavour to reconcile myself to my family,
concluding with an offer, in case I did not succeed, to allow me
twenty pounds a-year to support me in some remote part of the kingdom.
"I need not mention my indignation at these proposals. In the highest
agony of rage, I went in a chair to the detested house, where I easily
got access to the wretch I had devoted to destruction, whom I no
sooner found within my reach than I plunged a drawn penknife, which I
had prepared in my pocket for the purpose, into his accursed heart.
For this fact I was immediately seized and soon after committed
hither; and for this fact I am ready to die, and shall with pleasure
receive the sentence of the law.
"Thus, sir," said she, "I have related to you my unhappy story, and if
I have tired your patience, by dwelling too long on those parts which
affected me the most, I ask your pardon."
Booth made a proper speech on this occasion, and, having exprest much
concern at her present situation, concluded that he hoped her sentence
would be milder than she seemed to expect.
Her reply to this was full of so much bitterness and indignation, that
we do not think proper to record the speech at length, in which having
vented her passion, she all at once put on a serene countenance, and
with an air of great complacency said, "Well, Mr. Booth, I think I
have now a right to satisfy my curiosity at the expense of your
breath. I may say it is not altogether a vain curiosity, for perhaps I
have had inclination enough to interest myself in whatever concerns
you; but no matter for that: those days (added she with a sigh) are
Booth, who was extremely good-natured and well-bred, told her that she
should not command him twice whatever was in his power; and then,
after the usual apology, was going to begin his history, when the
keeper arrived, and acquainted the lady that dinner was ready, at the
same time saying, "I suppose, madam, as the gentleman is an
acquaintance of yours, he must dine with us too."
Miss Matthews told the keeper that she had only one word to mention in
private to the gentleman, and that then they would both attend him.
She then pulled her purse from her pocket, in which were upwards of
twenty guineas, being the remainder of the money for which she had
sold a gold repeating watch, her father's present, with some other
trinkets, and desired Mr. Booth to take what he should have occasion
for, saying, "You know, I believe, dear Will, I never valued money;
and now I am sure I shall have very little use for it." Booth, with
much difficulty, accepted of two guineas, and then they both together
attended the keeper.
_Table-talk, consisting of a facetious discourse that passed in the
There were assembled at the table the governor of these (not
improperly called infernal) regions; the lieutenant-governor, vulgarly
named the first turnkey; Miss Matthews, Mr. Booth, Mr. Robinson the
gambler, several other prisoners of both sexes, and one Murphy, an
The governor took the first opportunity to bring the affair of Miss
Matthews upon the carpet, and then, turning to Murphy, he said, "It is
very lucky this gentleman happens to be present; I do assure you,
madam, your cause cannot be in abler hands. He is, I believe, the best
man in England at a defence; I have known him often succeed against
the most positive evidence."
"Fy, sir," answered Murphy; "you know I hate all this; but, if the
lady will trust me with her cause, I will do the best in my power.
Come, madam, do not be discouraged; a bit of manslaughter and cold
iron, I hope, will be the worst: or perhaps we may come off better
with a slice of chance-medley, or _se defendendo_"
"I am very ignorant of the law, sir," cries the lady.
"Yes, madam," answered Murphy; "it can't be expected you should
understand it. There are very few of us who profess it that understand
the whole, nor is it necessary we should. There is a great deal of
rubbish of little use, about indictments, and abatements, and bars,
and ejectments, and trovers, and such stuff, with which people cram
their heads to little purpose. The chapter of evidence is the main
business; that is the sheet-anchor; that is the rudder, which brings
the vessel safe _in portum_. Evidence is, indeed, the whole, the
_summa totidis_, for _de non apparentibus et non insistentibus eandem
"If you address yourself to me, sir," said the lady, "you are much too
learned, I assure you, for my understanding."
"_Tace_, madam," answered Murphy, "is Latin for a candle: I commend
your prudence. I shall know the particulars of your case when we are
"I hope the lady," said Robinson, "hath no suspicion of any person
here. I hope we are all persons of honour at this table."
"D--n my eyes!" answered a well-dressed woman, "I can answer for
myself and the other ladies; though I never saw the lady in my life,
she need not be shy of us, d--n my eyes! I scorn to rap [Footnote: A
cant word, meaning to swear, or rather to perjure yourself] against
"D--n me, madam!" cried another female, "I honour what you have done.
I once put a knife into a cull myself--so my service to you, madam,
and I wish you may come off with _se diffidendo_ with all my heart."
"I beg, good woman," said Miss Matthews, "you would talk on some other
subject, and give yourself no concern about my affairs."
"You see, ladies," cried Murphy, "the gentle-woman doth not care to
talk on this matter before company; so pray do not press her."
"Nay, I value the lady's acquaintance no more than she values mine,"
cries the first woman who spoke. "I have kept as good company as the
lady, I believe, every day in the week. Good woman! I don't use to be
so treated. If the lady says such another word to me, d--n me, I will
darken her daylights. Marry, come up! Good woman!--the lady's a whore
as well as myself! and, though I am sent hither to mill doll, d--n my
eyes, I have money enough to buy it off as well as the lady herself."
Action might perhaps soon have ensued this speech, had not the keeper
interposed his authority, and put an end to any further dispute. Soon
after which, the company broke up, and none but himself, Mr. Murphy,
Captain Booth, and Miss Matthews, remained together.
Miss Matthews then, at the entreaty of the keeper, began to open her
case to Mr. Murphy, whom she admitted to be her solicitor, though she
still declared she was indifferent as to the event of the trial.
Mr. Murphy, having heard all the particulars with which the reader is
already acquainted (as far as related to the murder), shook his head
and said, "There is but one circumstance, madam, which I wish was out
of the case; and that we must put out of it; I mean the carrying the
penknife drawn into the room with you; for that seems to imply malice
prepensive, as we call it in the law: this circumstance, therefore,
must not appear against you; and, if the servant who was in the room
observed this, he must be bought off at all hazards. All here you say
are friends; therefore I tell you openly, you must furnish me with
money sufficient for this purpose. Malice is all we have to guard
"I would not presume, sir," cries Booth, "to inform you in the law;
but I have heard, in case of stabbing, a man may be indicted upon the
statute; and it is capital, though no malice appears."
"You say true, sir," answered Murphy; "a man may be indicted _contra
formam statutis;_ and that method, I allow you, requires no malice. I
presume you are a lawyer, sir?"
"No, indeed, sir," answered Booth, "I know nothing of the law."
"Then, sir, I will tell you--If a man be indicted _contra formam
tatutis_, as we say, no malice is necessary, because the form of the
statute makes malice; and then what we have to guard against is having
struck the first blow. Pox on't, it is unlucky this was done in a
room: if it had been in the street we could have had five or six
witnesses to have proved the first blow, cheaper than, I am afraid, we
shall get this one; for when a man knows, from the unhappy
circumstances of the case, that you can procure no other witness but
himself, he is always dear. It is so in all other ways of business. I
am very implicit, you see; but we are all among friends. The safest
way is to furnish me with money enough to offer him a good round sum
at once; and I think (it is for your good I speak) fifty pounds is the
least than can be offered him. I do assure you I would offer him no
less was it my own case."
"And do you think, sir," said she, "that I would save my life at the
expense of hiring another to perjure himself?"
"Ay, surely do I," cries Murphy; "for where is the fault, admitting
there is some fault in perjury, as you call it? and, to be sure, it is
such a matter as every man would rather wish to avoid than not: and
yet, as it may be managed, there is not so much as some people are apt
to imagine in it; for he need not kiss the book, and then pray where's
the perjury? but if the crier is sharper than ordinary, what is it he
kisses? is it anything but a bit of calf's-skin? I am sure a man must
be a very bad Christian himself who would not do so much as that to
save the life of any Christian whatever, much more of so pretty a
lady. Indeed, madam, if we can make out but a tolerable case, so much
beauty will go a great way with the judge and the jury too."
The latter part of this speech, notwithstanding the mouth it came
from, caused Miss Matthews to suppress much of the indignation which
began to arise at the former; and she answered with a smile, "Sir, you
are a great casuist in these matters; but we need argue no longer
concerning them; for, if fifty pounds would save my life, I assure you
I could not command that sum. The little money I have in my pocket is
all I can call my own; and I apprehend, in the situation I am in, I
shall have very little of that to spare."
"Come, come, madam," cries Murphy, "life is sweet, let me tell you,
and never sweeter than when we are near losing it. I have known many a
man very brave and undaunted at his first commitment, who, when
business began to thicken a little upon him, hath changed his note. It
is no time to be saving in your condition."
The keeper, who, after the liberality of Miss Matthews, and on seeing
a purse of guineas in her hand, had conceived a great opinion of her
wealth, no sooner heard that the sum which he had in intention
intirely confiscated for his own use was attempted to be broke in
upon, thought it high time to be upon his guard. "To be sure," cries
he, "Mr. Murphy, life is sweet, as you say, that must be acknowledged;
to be sure, life is sweet; but, sweet as it is, no persons can advance
more than they are worth to save it. And indeed, if the lady can
command no more money than that little she mentions, she is to be
commended for her unwillingness to part with any of it; for, to be
sure, as she says, she will want every farthing of that to live like a
gentlewoman till she comes to her trial. And, to be sure, as sweet as
life is, people ought to take care to be able to live sweetly while
they do live; besides, I cannot help saying the lady shews herself to
be what she is, by her abhorrence of perjury, which is certainly a
very dreadful crime. And, though the not kissing the book doth, as you
say, make a great deal of difference; and, if a man had a great while
to live and repent, perhaps he might swallow it well enough; yet, when
people comes to be near their end (as who can venture to foretel what
will be the lady's case?) they ought to take care not to overburthen
their conscience. I hope the lady's case will not be found murder; for
I am sure I always wish well to all my prisoners who shew themselves
to be gentlemen or gentlewomen; yet one should always fear the worst"
"Indeed, sir, you speak like an oracle," answered the lady; "and one
subornation of perjury would sit heavier on my conscience than twenty
such murders as I am guilty of."
"Nay, to be sure, madam," answered the keeper, "nobody can pretend to
tell what provocation you must have had; and certainly it can never be
imagined that a lady who behaves herself so handsomely as you have
done ever since you have been under my keys should be guilty of
killing a man without being very highly provoked to do it."
Mr. Murphy was, I believe, going to answer when he was called out of
the room; after which nothing passed between the remaining persons
worth relating, till Booth and the lady retired back again into the
Here they fell immediately to commenting on the foregoing discourse;
but, as their comments were, I believe, the same with what most
readers have made on the same occasion, we shall omit them. At last,
Miss Matthews reminding her companion of his promise of relating to
her what had befallen him since the interruption of their former
acquaintance, he began as is written in the next book of this history.
_In which Captain Booth begins to relate his history._
The tea-table being removed, and Mr. Booth and the lady left alone, he
proceeded as follows:
"Since you desire, madam, to know the particulars of my courtship to
that best and dearest of women whom I afterwards married, I will
endeavour to recollect them as well as I can, at least all those
incidents which are most worth relating to you.
"If the vulgar opinion of the fatality in marriage had ever any
foundation, it surely appeared in my marriage with my Amelia. I knew
her in the first dawn of her beauty; and, I believe, madam, she had as
much as ever fell to the share of a woman; but, though I always
admired her, it was long without any spark of love. Perhaps the
general admiration which at that time pursued her, the respect paid
her by persons of the highest rank, and the numberless addresses which
were made her by men of great fortune, prevented my aspiring at the
possession of those charms which seemed so absolutely out of my reach.
However it was, I assure you the accident which deprived her of the
admiration of others made the first great impression on my heart in
her favour. The injury done to her beauty by the overturning of a
chaise, by which, as you may well remember, her lovely nose was beat
all to pieces, gave me an assurance that the woman who had been so
much adored for the charms of her person deserved a much higher
adoration to be paid to her mind; for that she was in the latter
respect infinitely more superior to the rest of her sex than she had
ever been in the former."
"I admire your taste extremely," cried the lady; "I remember perfectly
well the great heroism with which your Amelia bore that misfortune."
"Good heavens! madam," answered he; "what a magnanimity of mind did
her behaviour demonstrate! If the world have extolled the firmness of
soul in a man who can support the loss of fortune; of a general who
can be composed after the loss of a victory; or of a king who can be
contented with the loss of a crown; with what astonishment ought we to
behold, with what praises to honour, a young lady, who can with
patience and resignation submit to the loss of exquisite beauty, in
other words to the loss of fortune, power, glory, everything which
human nature is apt to court and rejoice in! what must be the mind
which can bear to be deprived of all these in a moment, and by an
unfortunate trifling accident; which could support all this, together
with the most exquisite torments of body, and with dignity, with
resignation, without complaining, almost without a tear, undergo the
most painful and dreadful operations of surgery in such a situation!"
Here he stopt, and a torrent of tears gushed from his eyes; such tears
are apt to flow from a truly noble heart at the hearing of anything
surprisingly great and glorious. As soon as he was able he again
"Would you think, Miss Matthews, that the misfortune of my Amelia was
capable of any aggravation? I assure you, she hath often told me it
was aggravated with a circumstance which outweighed all the other
ingredients. This was the cruel insults she received from some of her
most intimate acquaintance, several of whom, after many distortions
and grimaces, have turned their heads aside, unable to support their
secret triumph, and burst into a loud laugh in her hearing."
"Good heavens!" cried Miss Matthews; "what detestable actions will
this contemptible passion of envy prevail on our sex to commit!"
"An occasion of this kind, as she hath since told me, made the first
impression on her gentle heart in my favour. I was one day in company
with several young ladies, or rather young devils, where poor Amelia's
accident was the subject of much mirth and pleasantry. One of these
said she hoped miss would not hold her head so high for the future.
Another answered, 'I do not know, madam, what she may do with her
head, but I am convinced she will never more turn up her nose at her
betters.' Another cried, 'What a very proper match might now be made
between Amelia and a certain captain,' who had unfortunately received
an injury in the same part, though from no shameful cause. Many other
sarcasms were thrown out, very unworthy to be repeated. I was hurt
with perceiving so much malice in human shape, and cried out very
bluntly, Indeed, ladies, you need not express such satisfaction at
poor Miss Emily's accident; for she will still be the handsomest woman
in England. This speech of mine was afterwards variously repeated, by
some to my honour, and by others represented in a contrary light;
indeed, it was often reported to be much ruder than it was. However,
it at length reached Amelia's ears. She said she was very much obliged
to me, since I could have so much compassion for her as to be rude to
a lady on her account.
"About a month after the accident, when Amelia began to see company in
a mask, I had the honour to drink tea with her. We were alone
together, and I begged her to indulge my curiosity by showing me her
face. She answered in a most obliging manner, 'Perhaps, Mr. Booth, you
will as little know me when my mask is off as when it is on;' and at
the same instant unmasked.--The surgeon's skill was the least I
considered. A thousand tender ideas rushed all at once on my mind. I
was unable to contain myself, and, eagerly kissing her hand, I cried--
Upon my soul, madam, you never appeared to me so lovely as at this
instant. Nothing more remarkable passed at this visit; but I sincerely
believe we were neither of us hereafter indifferent to each other.
"Many months, however, passed after this, before I ever thought
seriously of making her my wife. Not that I wanted sufficient love for
Amelia. Indeed it arose from the vast affection I bore her. I
considered my own as a desperate fortune, hers as entirely dependent
on her mother, who was a woman, you know, of violent passions, and
very unlikely to consent to a match so highly contrary to the interest
of her daughter. The more I loved Amelia, the more firmly I resolved
within myself never to propose love to her seriously. Such a dupe was
my understanding to my heart, and so foolishly did I imagine I could
be master of a flame to which I was every day adding fuel.
"O, Miss Matthews! we have heard of men entirely masters of their
passions, and of hearts which can carry this fire in them, and conceal
it at their pleasure. Perhaps there may be such: but, if there are,
those hearts may be compared, I believe, to damps, in which it is more
difficult to keep fire alive than to prevent its blazing: in mine it
was placed in the midst of combustible matter.
"After several visits, in which looks and sighs had been interchanged
on both sides, but without the least mention of passion in private,
one day the discourse between us when alone happened to turn on love;
I say happened, for I protest it was not designed on my side, and I am
as firmly convinced not on hers. I was now no longer master of myself;
I declared myself the most wretched of all martyrs to this tender
passion; that I had long concealed it from its object. At length,
after mentioning many particulars, suppressing, however, those which
must have necessarily brought it home to Amelia, I concluded with
begging her to be the confidante of my amour, and to give me her
advice on that occasion.
"Amelia (O, I shall never forget the dear perturbation!) appeared all
confusion at this instant. She trembled, turned pale, and discovered
how well she understood me, by a thousand more symptoms than I could
take notice of, in a state of mind so very little different from her
own. At last, with faltering accents, she said I had made a very ill
choice of a counsellor in a matter in which she was so ignorant.--
Adding, at last, 'I believe, Mr. Booth, you gentlemen want very little
advice in these affairs, which you all understand better than we do.'
"I will relate no more of our conversation at present; indeed I am
afraid I tire you with too many particulars."
"O, no!" answered she; "I should be glad to hear every step of an
amour which had so tender a beginning. Tell me everything you said or
did, if you can remember it."
He then proceeded, and so will we in the next chapter.
_Mr. Booth continues his story. In this chapter there are some
passages that may serve as a kind of touchstone by which a young lady
may examine the heart of her lover. I would advise, therefore, that
every lover be obliged to read it over in the presence of his
mistress, and that she carefully watch his emotions while he is
"I was under the utmost concern," cries Booth, "when I retired from my
visit, and had reflected coolly on what I had said. I now saw plainly
that I had made downright love to Amelia; and I feared, such was my
vanity, that I had already gone too far, and been too successful.
Feared! do I say? could I fear what I hoped? how shall I describe the
anxiety of my mind?"
"You need give yourself no great pain," cried Miss Matthews, "to
describe what I can so easily guess. To be honest with you, Mr. Booth,
I do not agree with your lady's opinion that the men have a superior
understanding in the matters of love. Men are often blind to the
passions of women: but every woman is as quick-sighted as a hawk on
these occasions; nor is there one article in the whole science which
is not understood by all our sex."
"However, madam," said Mr. Booth, "I now undertook to deceive Amelia.
I abstained three days from seeing her; to say the truth, I
endeavoured to work myself up to a resolution of leaving her for ever:
but when I could not so far subdue my passion---But why do I talk
nonsense of subduing passion?--I should say, when no other passion
could surmount my love, I returned to visit her; and now I attempted
the strangest project which ever entered into the silly head of a
lover. This was to persuade Amelia that I was really in love in
another place, and had literally expressed my meaning when I asked her
advice and desired her to be my confidante.
"I therefore forged a meeting to have been between me and my imaginary
mistress since I had last seen Amelia, and related the particulars, as
well as I could invent them, which had passed at our conversation.
"Poor Amelia presently swallowed this bait; and, as she hath told me
since, absolutely believed me to be in earnest. Poor dear love! how
should the sincerest of hearts have any idea of deceit? for, with all
her simplicity, I assure you she is the most sensible woman in the
"It is highly generous and good in you," said Miss Matthews, with a
sly sneer, "to impute to honesty what others would, perhaps, call
"I protest, madam," answered he, "I do her no more than justice. A
good heart will at all times betray the best head in the world.---
Well, madam, my angel was now, if possible, more confused than before.
She looked so silly, you can hardly believe it."
"Yes, yes, I can," answered the lady, with a laugh, "I can believe
it.--Well, well, go on."--"After some hesitation," cried he, "my
Amelia said faintly to me, 'Mr. Booth, you use me very ill; you desire
me to be your confidante, and conceal from me the name of your
"Is it possible then, madam," answered I, "that you cannot guess her,
when I tell you she is one of your acquaintance, and lives in this
"'My acquaintance!' said she: 'La! Mr. Booth--In this town! I--I--I
thought I could have guessed for once; but I have an ill talent that
way--I will never attempt to guess anything again.' Indeed I do her an
injury when I pretend to represent her manner. Her manner, look,
voice, everything was inimitable; such sweetness, softness, innocence,
modesty!--Upon my soul, if ever man could boast of his resolution, I
think I might now, that I abstained from falling prostrate at her
feet, and adoring her. However, I triumphed; pride, I believe,
triumphed, or perhaps love got the better of love. We once more
parted, and I promised, the next time I saw her, to reveal the name of
"I now had, I thought, gained a complete victory over myself; and no
small compliments did I pay to my own resolution. In short, I
triumphed as cowards and niggards do when they flatter themselves with
having given some supposed instance of courage or generosity; and my
triumph lasted as long; that is to say, till my ascendant passion had
a proper opportunity of displaying itself in its true and natural
"Having hitherto succeeded so well in my own opinion, and obtained
this mighty self-conquest, I now entertained a design of exerting the
most romantic generosity, and of curing that unhappy passion which I
perceived I had raised in Amelia.
"Among the ladies who had expressed the greatest satisfaction at my
Amelia's misfortune, Miss Osborne had distinguished herself in a very
eminent degree; she was, indeed, the next in beauty to my angel, nay,
she had disputed the preference, and had some among her admirers who
were blind enough to give it in her favour."
"Well," cries the lady, "I will allow you to call them blind; but Miss
Osborne was a charming girl."
"She certainly was handsome," answered he, "and a very considerable
fortune; so I thought my Amelia would have little difficulty in
believing me when I fixed on her as my mistress. And I concluded that
my thus placing my affections on her known enemy would be the surest
method of eradicating every tender idea with which I had been ever
honoured by Amelia.
"Well, then, to Amelia I went; she received me with more than usual
coldness and reserve; in which, to confess the truth, there appeared
to me more of anger than indifference, and more of dejection than of
either. After some short introduction, I revived the discourse of my
amour, and presently mentioned Miss Osborne as the lady whose name I
had concealed; adding, that the true reason why I did not mention her
before was, that I apprehended there was some little distance between
them, which I hoped to have the happiness of accommodating.
"Amelia answered with much gravity, 'If you know, sir, that there is
any distance between us, I suppose you know the reason of that
distance; and then, I think, I could not have expected to be affronted
by her name. I would not have you think, Mr. Booth, that I hate Miss
Osborne. No! Heaven is my witness, I despise her too much.--Indeed,
when I reflect how much I loved the woman who hath treated me so
cruelly, I own it gives me pain--when I lay, as I then imagined, and
as all about me believed, on my deathbed, in all the agonies of pain
and misery, to become the object of laughter to my dearest friend.--O,
Mr. Booth, it is a cruel reflection! and could I after this have
expected from you--but why not from you, to whom I am a person
entirely indifferent, if such a friend could treat me so barbarously?'
"During the greatest part of this speech the tears streamed from her
bright eyes. I could endure it no longer. I caught up the word
indifferent, and repeated it, saying, Do you think then, madam, that
Miss Emily is indifferent to me?
"'Yes, surely, I do,' answered she: 'I know I am; indeed, why should I
not be indifferent to you?'
"Have my eyes," said I, "then declared nothing?"
"'O! there is no need of your eyes' answered she; 'your tongue hath
declared that you have singled out of all womankind my greatest, I
will say, my basest enemy. I own I once thought that character would
have been no recommendation to you;--but why did I think so? I was
born to deceive myself.'
"I then fell on my knees before her; and, forcing her hand, cried out,
O, my Amelia! I can bear no longer. You are the only mistress of my
affections; you are the deity I adore. In this stile I ran on for
above two or three minutes, what it is impossible to repeat, till a
torrent of contending passions, together with the surprize,
overpowered her gentle spirits, and she fainted away in my arms.
"To describe my sensation till she returned to herself is not in my
power."--"You need not," cried Miss Matthews.--"Oh, happy Amelia! why
had I not been blest with such a passion?"--"I am convinced, madam,"
continued he, "you cannot expect all the particulars of the tender
scene which ensued. I was not enough in my senses to remember it all.
Let it suffice to say, that that behaviour with which Amelia, while
ignorant of its motive, had been so much displeased, when she became
sensible of that motive, proved the strongest recommendation to her
favour, and she was pleased to call it generous."
"Generous!" repeated the lady, "and so it was, almost beyond the reach
of humanity. I question whether you ever had an equal."
Perhaps the critical reader may have the same doubt with Miss
Matthews; and lest he should, we will here make a gap in our history,
to give him an opportunity of accurately considering whether this
conduct of Mr. Booth was natural or no; and consequently, whether we
have, in this place, maintained or deviated from that strict adherence
to universal truth which we profess above all other historians.
_The narrative continued. More of the touchstone._
Booth made a proper acknowledgment of Miss Matthew's civility, and
then renewed his story. "We were upon the footing of lovers; and
Amelia threw off her reserve more and more, till at length I found all
that return of my affection which the tenderest lover can require.
"My situation would now have been a paradise, had not my happiness
been interrupted with the same reflections I have already mentioned;
had I not, in short, concluded, that I must derive all my joys from
the almost certain ruin of that dear creature to whom I should owe
"This thought haunted me night and day, till I at last grew unable to
support it: I therefore resolved in the strongest manner, to lay it
"One evening then, after the highest professions of the most
disinterested love, in which Heaven knows my sincerity, I took an
occasion to speak to Amelia in the following manner:--
"Too true it is, I am afraid, my dearest creature, that the highest
human happiness is imperfect. How rich would be my cup, was it not for
one poisonous drop which embitters the whole! O, Amelia! what must be
the consequence of my ever having the honour to call you mine!--You
know my situation in life, and you know your own: I have nothing more
than the poor provision of an ensign's commission to depend on; your
sole dependence is on your mother; should any act of disobedience
defeat your expectations, how wretched must your lot be with me! O,
Amelia! how ghastly an object to my mind is the apprehension of your
distress! Can I bear to reflect a moment on the certainty of your
foregoing all the conveniences of life? on the possibility of your
suffering all its most dreadful inconveniencies? what must be my
misery, then, to see you in such a situation, and to upbraid myself
with being the accursed cause of bringing you to it? Suppose too in
such a season I should be summoned from you. Could I submit to see you
encounter all the hazards, the fatigues of war, with me? you could not
yourself, however willing, support them a single campaign. What then;
must I leave you to starve alone, deprived of the tenderness of a
husband, deprived too of the tenderness of the best of mothers,
through my means? a woman most dear to me, for being the parent, the
nurse, and the friend of my Amelia.---But oh! my sweet creature, carry
your thoughts a little further. Think of the tenderest consequences,
the dearest pledges of our love. Can I bear to think of entailing
beggary on the posterity of my Amelia? on our---Oh, Heavens!--on our
children!--On the other side, is it possible even to mention the word
--I will not, must not, cannot, cannot part with you.---What must we
do, Amelia? It is now I sincerely ask your advice."
"'What advice can I give you,' said she, 'in such an alternative?
Would to Heaven we had never met!'
"These words were accompanied with a sigh, and a look inexpressibly
tender, the tears at the same time overflowing all her lovely cheeks.
I was endeavouring to reply when I was interrupted by what soon put an
end to the scene.
"Our amour had already been buzzed all over the town; and it came at
last to the ears of Mrs. Harris: I had, indeed, observed of late a
great alteration in that lady's behaviour towards me whenever I
visited at the house; nor could I, for a long time before this
evening, ever obtain a private interview with Amelia; and now, it
seems, I owed it to her mother's intention of overhearing all that
passed between us.
"At the period then above mentioned, Mrs. Harris burst from the closet
where she had hid herself, and surprised her daughter, reclining on my
bosom in all that tender sorrow I have just described. I will not
attempt to paint the rage of the mother, or the daughter's confusion,
or my own. 'Here are very fine doings, indeed,' cries Mrs. Harris:
'you have made a noble use, Amelia, of my indulgence, and the trust I
reposed in you.--As for you, Mr. Booth, I will not accuse you; you
have used my child as I ought to have expected; I may thank myself for
what hath happened;' with much more of the same kind, before she would
suffer me to speak; but at last I obtained a hearing, and offered to
excuse my poor Amelia, who was ready to sink into the earth under the
oppression of grief, by taking as much blame as I could on myself.
Mrs. Harris answered, 'No, sir, I must say you are innocent in
comparison of her; nay, I can say I have heard you use dissuasive
arguments; and I promise you they are of weight. I have, I thank
Heaven, one dutiful child, and I shall henceforth think her my only
one.'--She then forced the poor, trembling, fainting Amelia out of the
room; which when she had done, she began very coolly to reason with me
on the folly, as well as iniquity, which I had been guilty of; and
repeated to me almost every word I had before urged to her daughter.
In fine, she at last obtained of me a promise that I would soon go to
my regiment, and submit to any misery rather than that of being the
ruin of Amelia.
"I now, for many days, endured the greatest torments which the human
mind is, I believe, capable of feeling; and I can honestly say I tried
all the means, and applied every argument which I could raise, to cure
me of my love. And to make these the more effectual, I spent every
night in walking backwards and forwards in the sight of Mrs. Harris's
house, where I never failed to find some object or other which raised
some tender idea of my lovely Amelia, and almost drove me to
"And don't you think, sir," said Miss Matthews, "you took a most
preposterous method to cure yourself?"
"Alas, madam," answered he, "you cannot see it in a more absurd light
than I do; but those know little of real love or grief who do not know
how much we deceive ourselves when we pretend to aim at the cure of
either. It is with these, as it is with some distempers of the body,
nothing is in the least agreeable to us but what serves to heighten
"At the end of a fortnight, when I was driven almost to the highest
degree of despair, and could contrive no method of conveying a letter
to Amelia, how was I surprised when Mrs. Harris's servant brought me a
card, with an invitation from the mother herself to drink tea that
evening at her house!
"You will easily believe, madam, that I did not fail so agreeable an
appointment: on my arrival I was introduced into a large company of
men and women, Mrs. Harris and my Amelia being part of the company.
"Amelia seemed in my eyes to look more beautiful than ever, and
behaved with all the gaiety imaginable. The old lady treated me with
much civility, but the young lady took little notice of me, and
addressed most of her discourse to another gentleman present. Indeed,
she now and then gave me a look of no discouraging kind, and I
observed her colour change more than once when her eyes met mine;
circumstances, which, perhaps, ought to have afforded me sufficient
comfort, but they could not allay the thousand doubts and fears with
which I was alarmed, for my anxious thoughts suggested no less to me
than that Amelia had made her peace with her mother at the price of
abandoning me forever, and of giving her ear to some other lover. All
my prudence now vanished at once; and I would that instant have gladly
run away with Amelia, and have married her without the least
consideration of any consequences.
"With such thoughts I had tormented myself for near two hours, till
most of the company had taken their leave. This I was myself incapable
of doing, nor do I know when I should have put an end to my visit, had
not Dr Harrison taken me away almost by force, telling me in a whisper
that he had something to say to me of great consequence.--You know the
"Very well, sir," answered Miss Matthews, "and one of the best men in
the world he is, and an honour to the sacred order to which he
"You will judge," replied Booth, "by the sequel, whether I have reason
to think him so."--He then proceeded as in the next chapter.
_The story of Mr. Booth continued. In this chapter the reader will
perceive a glimpse of the character of a very good divine, with some
matters of a very tender kind._
"The doctor conducted me into his study, and I then, desiring me to
sit down, began, as near as I can remember, in these words, or at
least to this purpose:
"'You cannot imagine, young gentleman, that your love for Miss Emily
is any secret in this place; I have known it some time, and have been,
I assure you, very much your enemy in this affair.'
"I answered, that I was very much obliged to him.
"'Why, so you are,' replied he; 'and so, perhaps, you will think
yourself when you know all.--I went about a fortnight ago to Mrs.
Harris, to acquaint her with my apprehensions on her daughter's
account; for, though the matter was much talked of, I thought it might
possibly not have reached her ears. I will be very plain with you. I
advised her to take all possible care of the young lady, and even to
send her to some place, where she might be effectually kept out of
your reach while you remained in the town.'
"And do you think, sir, said I, that this was acting a kind part by
me? or do you expect that I should thank you on this occasion?
"'Young man,' answered he, 'I did not intend you any kindness, nor do
I desire any of your thanks. My intention was to preserve a worthy
lady from a young fellow of whom I had heard no good character, and
whom I imagined to have a design of stealing a human creature for the
sake of her fortune.'
"It was very kind of you, indeed, answered I, to entertain such an
opinion of me.
"'Why, sir,' replied the doctor, 'it is the opinion which, I believe,
most of you young gentlemen of the order of the rag deserve. I have
known some instances, and have heard of more, where such young fellows
have committed robbery under the name of marriage.'
"I was going to interrupt him with some anger when he desired me to
have a little patience, and then informed me that he had visited Mrs.
Harris with the above-mentioned design the evening after the discovery
I have related; that Mrs. Harris, without waiting for his information,
had recounted to him all which had happened the evening before; and,
indeed, she must have an excellent memory, for I think she repeated
every word I said, and added, that she had confined her daughter to
her chamber, where she kept her a close prisoner, and had not seen her
"I cannot express, nor would modesty suffer me if I could, all that
now past. The doctor took me by the hand and burst forth into the
warmest commendations of the sense and generosity which he was pleased
to say discovered themselves in my speech. You know, madam, his strong
and singular way of expressing himself on all occasions, especially
when he is affected with anything. 'Sir,' said he, 'if I knew half a
dozen such instances in the army, the painter should put red liveries
upon all the saints in my closet.'
"From this instant, the doctor told me, he had become my friend and
zealous advocate with Mrs. Harris, on whom he had at last prevailed,
though not without the greatest difficulty, to consent to my marrying
Amelia, upon condition that I settled every penny which the mother
should lay down, and that she would retain a certain sum in her hands
which she would at any time deposit for my advancement in the army.
"You will, I hope, madam, conceive that I made no hesitation at these
conditions, nor need I mention the joy which I felt on this occasion,
or the acknowledgment I paid the doctor, who is, indeed, as you say,
one of the best of men.
"The next morning I had permission to visit Amelia, who received me in
such a manner, that I now concluded my happiness to be complete.
"Everything was now agreed on all sides, and lawyers employed to
prepare the writings, when an unexpected cloud arose suddenly in our
serene sky, and all our joys were obscured in a moment.
"When matters were, as I apprehended, drawing near a conclusion, I
received an express, that a sister whom I tenderly loved was seized
with a violent fever, and earnestly desired me to come to her. I
immediately obeyed the summons, and, as it was then about two in the
morning, without staying even to take leave of Amelia, for whom I left
a short billet, acquainting her with the reason of my absence.
"The gentleman's house where my sister then was stood at fifty miles'
distance, and, though I used the utmost expedition, the unmerciful
distemper had, before my arrival, entirely deprived the poor girl of
her senses, as it soon after did of her life.
"Not all the love I bore Amelia, nor the tumultuous delight with which
the approaching hour of possessing her filled my heart, could, for a
while, allay my grief at the loss of my beloved Nancy. Upon my soul, I
cannot yet mention her name without tears. Never brother and sister
had, I believe, a higher friendship for each other. Poor dear girl!
whilst I sat by her in her light-head fits, she repeated scarce any
other name but mine; and it plainly appeared that, when her dear
reason was ravished away from her, it had left my image on her fancy,
and that the last use she made of it was to think on me. 'Send for my
dear Billy immediately,' she cried; 'I know he will come to me in a
moment. Will nobody fetch him to me? pray don't kill me before I see
him once more. You durst not use me so if he was here.'--Every accent
still rings in my ears. Oh, heavens! to hear this, and at the same
time to see the poor delirious creature deriving the greatest horrors
from my sight, and mistaking me for a highwayman who had a little
before robbed her. But I ask your pardon; the sensations I felt are to
be known only from experience, and to you must appear dull and
insipid. At last, she seemed for a moment to know me, and cried, 'O
heavens! my dearest brother!' upon which she fell into immediate
convulsions, and died away in my arms."
Here Mr. Booth stopped a moment, and wiped his eyes; and Miss
Matthews, perhaps out of complaisance, wiped hers.
_Containing strange revolutions of fortune_
Booth proceeded thus:
"This loss, perhaps, madam, you will think had made me miserable
enough; but Fortune did not think so; for, on the day when my Nancy
was to be buried, a courier arrived from Dr Harrison, with a letter,
in which the doctor acquainted me that he was just come from Mrs.
Harris when he despatched the express, and earnestly desired me to
return the very instant I received his letter, as I valued my Amelia.
'Though if the daughter,' added he, 'should take after her mother (as
most of them do) it will be, perhaps, wiser in you to stay away.'
"I presently sent for the messenger into my room, and with much
difficulty extorted from him that a great squire in his coach and six
was come to Mrs. Harris's, and that the whole town said he was shortly
to be married to Amelia.
"I now soon perceived how much superior my love for Amelia was to
every other passion; poor Nancy's idea disappeared in a moment; I
quitted the dear lifeless corpse, over which I had shed a thousand
tears, left the care of her funeral to others, and posted, I may
almost say flew, back to Amelia, and alighted at the doctor's house,
as he had desired me in his letter.
"The good man presently acquainted me with what had happened in my
absence. Mr. Winckworth had, it seems, arrived the very day of my
departure, with a grand equipage, and, without delay, had made formal
proposals to Mrs. Harris, offering to settle any part of his vast
estate, in whatever manner she pleased, on Amelia. These proposals the
old lady had, without any deliberation, accepted, and had insisted, in
the most violent manner, on her daughter's compliance, which Amelia
had as peremptorily refused to give; insisting, on her part, on the
consent which her mother had before given to our marriage, in which
she was heartily seconded by the doctor, who declared to her, as he
now did to me, 'that we ought as much to be esteemed man and wife as
if the ceremony had already past between us.'
"These remonstrances, the doctor told me, had worked no effect on Mrs.
Harris, who still persisted in her avowed resolution of marrying her
daughter to Winckworth, whom the doctor had likewise attacked, telling
him that he was paying his addresses to another man's wife; but all to
no purpose; the young gentleman was too much in love to hearken to any
"We now entered into a consultation what means to employ. The doctor
earnestly protested against any violence to be offered to the person
of Winckworth, which, I believe, I had rashly threatened; declaring
that, if I made any attempt of that kind, he would for ever abandon my
cause. I made him a solemn promise of forbearance. At last he
determined to pay another visit to Mrs. Harris, and, if he found her
obdurate, he said he thought himself at liberty to join us together
without any further consent of the mother, which every parent, he
said, had a right to refuse, but not retract when given, unless the
party himself, by some conduct of his, gave a reason.
"The doctor having made his visit with no better success than before,
the matter now debated was, how to get possession of Amelia by
stratagem, for she was now a closer prisoner than ever; was her
mother's bedfellow by night, and never out of her sight by day.
"While we were deliberating on this point a wine-merchant of the town
came to visit the doctor, to inform him that he had just bottled off a
hogshead of excellent old port, of which he offered to spare him a
hamper, saying that he was that day to send in twelve dozen to Mrs.
"The doctor now smiled at a conceit which came into his head; and,
taking me aside, asked me if I had love enough for the young lady to
venture into the house in a hamper. I joyfully leapt at the proposal,
to which the merchant, at the doctor's intercession, consented; for I
believe, madam, you know the great authority which that worthy mart
had over the whole town. The doctor, moreover, promised to procure a
license, and to perform the office for us at his house, if I could
find any means of conveying Amelia thither.
"In this hamper, then, I was carried to the house, and deposited in
the entry, where I had not lain long before I was again removed and
packed up in a cart in order to be sent five miles into the country;
for I heard the orders given as I lay in the entry; and there I
likewise heard that Amelia and her mother were to follow me the next
"I was unloaded from my cart, and set down with the rest of the lumber
in a great hall. Here I remained above three hours, impatiently
waiting for the evening, when I determined to quit a posture which was
become very uneasy, and break my prison; but Fortune contrived to
release me sooner, by the following means: The house where I now was
had been left in the care of one maid-servant. This faithful creature
came into the hall with the footman who had driven the cart. A scene
of the highest fondness having past between them, the fellow proposed,
and the maid consented, to open the hamper and drink a bottle
together, which, they agreed, their mistress would hardly miss in such
a quantity. They presently began to execute their purpose. They opened
the hamper, and, to their great surprise, discovered the contents.
"I took an immediate advantage of the consternation which appeared in
the countenances of both the servants, and had sufficient presence of
mind to improve the knowledge of those secrets to which I was privy. I
told them that it entirely depended on their behaviour to me whether
their mistress should ever be acquainted, either with what they had
done or with what they had intended to do; for that if they would keep
my secret I would reciprocally keep theirs. I then acquainted them
with my purpose of lying concealed in the house, in order to watch an
opportunity of obtaining a private interview with Amelia.
[Illustration: They opened The Hamper]
"In the situation in which these two delinquents stood, you may be
assured it was not difficult for me to seal up their lips. In short,
they agreed to whatever I proposed. I lay that evening in my dear
Amelia's bedchamber, and was in the morning conveyed into an old
lumber-garret, where I was to wait till Amelia (whom the maid
promised, on her arrival, to inform of my place of concealment) could
find some opportunity of seeing me."
"I ask pardon for interrupting you," cries Miss Matthews, "but you
bring to my remembrance a foolish story which I heard at that time,
though at a great distance from you: That an officer had, in
confederacy with Miss Harris, broke open her mother's cellar and stole
away a great quantity of her wine. I mention it only to shew you what
sort of foundations most stories have."
Booth told her he had heard some such thing himself, and then
continued his story as in the next chapter.
_Containing many surprising adventures._
"There," continued he, "I remained the whole day in hopes of a
happiness, the expected approach of which gave me such a delight that
I would not have exchanged my poor lodgings for the finest palace in
"A little after it was dark Mrs. Harris arrived, together with Amelia
and her sister. I cannot express how much my heart now began to
flutter; for, as my hopes every moment encreased, strange fears, which
I had not felt before, began now to intermingle with them.
"When I had continued full two hours in these circumstances, I heard a
woman's step tripping upstairs, which I fondly hoped was my Amelia;
but all on a sudden the door flew open, and Mrs. Harris herself
appeared at it, with a countenance pale as death, her whole body
trembling, I suppose with anger; she fell upon me in the most bitter
language. It is not necessary to repeat what she said, nor indeed can
I, I was so shocked and confounded on this occasion. In a word, the
scene ended with my departure without seeing Amelia."
"And pray," cries Miss Matthews, "how happened this unfortunate
Booth answered, That the lady at supper ordered a bottle of wine,
"which neither myself," says he, "nor the servants had presence of
mind to provide. Being told there was none in the house, though she
had been before informed that the things came all safe, she had sent
for the maid, who, being unable to devise any excuse, had fallen on
her knees, and, after confessing her design of opening a bottle, which
she imputed to the fellow, betrayed poor me to her mistress.
"Well, madam, after a lecture of about a quarter of an hour's duration
from Mrs. Harris, I suffered her to conduct me to the outward gate of
her court-yard, whence I set forward in a disconsolate condition of
mind towards my lodgings. I had five miles to walkin a dark and rainy
night: but how can I mention these trifling circumstances as any
aggravation of my disappointment!"
"How was it possible," cried Miss Matthews, "that you could be got out
of the house without seeing Miss Harris?"
"I assure you, madam," answered Booth, "I have often wondered at it
myself; but my spirits were so much sunk at the sight of her mother,
that no man was ever a greater coward than I was at that instant.
Indeed, I believe my tender concern for the terrors of Amelia were the
principal cause of my submission. However it was, I left the house,
and walked about a hundred yards, when, at the corner of the garden-
wall, a female voice, in a whisper, cried out, 'Mr. Booth.' The person
was extremely near me, but it was so dark I could scarce see her; nor
did I, in the confusion I was in, immediately recognize the voice. I
answered in a line of Congreve's, which burst from my lips
spontaneously; for I am sure I had no intention to quote plays at that
"'Who calls the wretched thing that was Alphonso?'
"Upon which a woman leapt into my arms, crying out--'O! it is indeed
my Alphonso, my only Alphonso!'--O Miss Matthews! guess what I felt
when I found I had my Amelia in my arms. I embraced her with an
ecstasy not to be described, at the same instant pouring a thousand
tendernesses into her ears; at least, if I could express so many to
her in a minute, for in that time the alarm began at the house; Mrs.
Harris had mist her daughter, and the court was presently full of
lights and noises of all kinds.
"I now lifted Amelia over a gate, and, jumping after, we crept along
together by the side of a hedge, a different way from what led to the
town, as I imagined that would be the road through which they would
pursue us. In this opinion I was right; for we heard them pass along
that road, and the voice of Mrs. Harris herself, who ran with the
rest, notwithstanding the darkness and the rain. By these means we
luckily made our escape, and clambring over hedge and ditch, my Amelia
performing the part of a heroine all the way, we at length arrived at
a little green lane, where stood a vast spreading oak, under which we
sheltered ourselves from a violent storm.
"When this was over and the moon began to appear, Amelia declared she
knew very well where she was; and, a little farther striking into
another lane to the right, she said that would lead us to a house
where we should be both safe and unsuspected. I followed her
directions, and we at length came to a little cottage about three
miles distant from Mrs. Harris's house.
"As it now rained very violently, we entered this cottage, in which we
espied a light, without any ceremony. Here we found an elderly woman
sitting by herself at a little fire, who had no sooner viewed us than
she instantly sprung from her seat, and starting back gave the
strongest tokens of amazement; upon which Amelia said, 'Be not
surprised, nurse, though you see me in a strange pickle, I own.' The
old woman, after having several times blessed herself, and expressed
the most tender concern for the lady who stood dripping before her,
began to bestir herself in making up the fire; at the same time
entreating Amelia that she might be permitted to furnish her with some
cloaths, which, she said, though not fine, were clean and wholesome
and much dryer than her own. I seconded this motion so vehemently,
that Amelia, though she declared herself under no apprehension of
catching cold (she hath indeed the best constitution in the world), at
last consented, and I retired without doors under a shed, to give my
angel an opportunity of dressing herself in the only room which the
cottage afforded belowstairs.
"At my return into the room, Amelia insisted on my exchanging my coat
for one which belonged to the old woman's son." "I am very glad,"
cried Miss Matthews, "to find she did not forget you. I own I thought
it somewhat cruel to turn you out into the rain."--"O, Miss Matthews!"
continued he, taking no notice of her observation, "I had now an
opportunity of contemplating the vast power of exquisite beauty, which
nothing almost can add to or diminish. Amelia, in the poor rags of her
old nurse, looked scarce less beautiful than I have seen her appear at
a ball or an assembly." "Well, well," cries Miss Matthews, "to be sure
she did; but pray go on with your story."
"The old woman," continued he, "after having equipped us as well as
she could, and placed our wet cloaths before the fire, began to grow
inquisitive; and, after some ejaculations, she cried--'O, my dear
young madam! my mind misgives me hugeously; and pray who is this fine
young gentleman? Oh! Miss Emmy, Miss Emmy, I am afraid madam knows
nothing of all this matter.' 'Suppose he should be my husband, nurse,'
answered Amelia. 'Oh! good! and if he be,' replies the nurse, 'I hope
he is some great gentleman or other, with a vast estate and a coach
and six: for to be sure, if an he was the greatest lord in the land,
you would deserve it all.' But why do I attempt to mimic the honest
creature? In short, she discovered the greatest affection for my
Amelia; with which I was much more delighted than I was offended at
the suspicions she shewed of me, or the many bitter curses which she
denounced against me, if I ever proved a bad husband to so sweet a
"I so well improved the hint given me by Amelia, that the old woman
had no doubt of our being really married; and, comforting herself
that, if it was not as well as it might have been, yet madam had
enough for us both, and that happiness did not always depend on great
riches, she began to rail at the old lady for having turned us out of
doors, which I scarce told an untruth in asserting. And when Amelia
said, 'She hoped her nurse would not betray her,' the good woman
answered with much warmth--'Betray you, my dear young madam! no, that
I would not, if the king would give me all that he is worth: no, not
if madam herself would give me the great house, and the whole farm
belonging to it.'
"The good woman then went out and fetched a chicken from the roost,
which she killed, and began to pick, without asking any questions.
Then, summoning her son, who was in bed, to her assistance, she began
to prepare this chicken for our supper. This she afterwards set before
us in so neat, I may almost say elegant, a manner, that whoever would
have disdained it either doth not know the sensation of hunger, or
doth not deserve to have it gratified. Our food was attended with some
ale, which our kind hostess said she intended not to have tapped till
Christmas; 'but,' added she, 'I little thought ever to have the honour
of seeing my dear honoured lady in this poor place.'
"For my own part, no human being was then an object of envy to me, and
even Amelia seemed to be in pretty good spirits; she softly whispered
to me that she perceived there might be happiness in a cottage."
"A cottage!" cries Miss Matthews, sighing, "a cottage, with the man
one loves, is a palace."
"When supper was ended," continued Booth, "the good woman began to
think of our further wants, and very earnestly recommended her bed to
us, saying, it was a very neat, though homely one, and that she could
furnish us with a pair of clean sheets. She added some persuasives
which painted my angel all over with vermilion. As for myself, I
behaved so awkwardly and foolishly, and so readily agreed to Amelia's
resolution of sitting up all night, that, if it did not give the nurse
any suspicion of our marriage, it ought to have inspired her with the
utmost contempt for me.
"We both endeavoured to prevail with nurse to retire to her own bed,
but found it utterly impossible to succeed; she thanked Heaven she
understood breeding better than that. And so well bred was the good
woman, that we could scarce get her out of the room the whole night.
Luckily for us, we both understood French, by means of which we
consulted together, even in her presence, upon the measures we were to
take in our present exigency. At length it was resolved that I should
send a letter by this young lad, whom I have just before mentioned, to
our worthy friend the doctor, desiring his company at our hut, since
we thought it utterly unsafe to venture to the town, which we knew
would be in an uproar on our account before the morning."
Here Booth made a full stop, smiled, and then said he was going to
mention so ridiculous a distress, that he could scarce think of it
without laughing. What this was the reader shall know in the next
_The story of Booth continued.--More surprising adventures._
From what trifles, dear Miss Matthews," cried Booth, "may some of our
greatest distresses arise! Do you not perceive I am going to tell you
we had neither pen, ink, nor paper, in our present exigency?
"A verbal message was now our only resource; however, we contrived to
deliver it in such terms, that neither nurse nor her son could
possibly conceive any suspicion from it of the present situation of
our affairs. Indeed, Amelia whispered me, I might safely place any
degree of confidence in the lad; for he had been her foster-brother,
and she had a great opinion of his integrity. He was in truth a boy of
very good natural parts; and Dr Harrison, who had received him into
his family, at Amelia's recommendation, had bred him up to write and
read very well, and had taken some pains to infuse into him the
principles of honesty and religion. He was not, indeed, even now
discharged from the doctor's service, but had been at home with his
mother for some time, on account of the small-pox, from which he was
"I have said so much," continued Booth, "of the boy's character, that
you may not be surprised at some stories which I shall tell you of him
"I am going now, madam, to relate to you one of those strange
accidents which are produced by such a train of circumstances, that
mere chance hath been thought incapable of bringing them together; and
which have therefore given birth, in superstitious minds, to Fortune,
and to several other imaginary beings.
"We were now impatiently expecting the arrival of the doctor; our
messenger had been gone much more than a sufficient time, which to us,
you may be assured, appeared not at all shorter than it was, when
nurse, who had gone out of doors on some errand, came running hastily
to us, crying out, 'O my dear young madam, her ladyship's coach is
just at the door!' Amelia turned pale as death at these words; indeed,
I feared she would have fainted, if I could be said to fear, who had
scarce any of my senses left, and was in a condition little better
than my angel's.
"While we were both in this dreadful situation, Amelia fallen back in
her chair with the countenance in which ghosts are painted, myself at
her feet, with a complexion of no very different colour, and nurse
screaming out and throwing water in Amelia's face, Mrs. Harris entered
the room. At the sight of this scene she threw herself likewise into a
chair, and called immediately for a glass of water, which Miss Betty
her daughter supplied her with; for, as to nurse, nothing was capable
of making any impression on her whilst she apprehended her young
mistress to be in danger.
"The doctor had now entered the room, and, coming immediately up to
Amelia, after some expressions of surprize, he took her by the hand,
called her his little sugar-plum, and assured her there were none but
friends present. He then led her tottering across the room to Mrs.
Harris. Amelia then fell upon her knees before her mother; but the
doctor caught her up, saying, 'Use that posture, child, only to the
Almighty!' but I need not mention this singularity of his to you who
know him so well, and must have heard him often dispute against
addressing ourselves to man in the humblest posture which we use
towards the Supreme Being.
"I will tire you with no more particulars: we were soon satisfied that
the doctor had reconciled us and our affairs to Mrs. Harris; and we
now proceeded directly to church, the doctor having before provided a
licence for us."
"But where is the strange accident?" cries Miss Matthews; "sure you
have raised more curiosity than you have satisfied."
"Indeed, madam," answered he, "your reproof is just; I had like to
have forgotten it; but you cannot wonder at me when you reflect on
that interesting part of my story which I am now relating.--But before
I mention this accident I must tell you what happened after Amelia's
escape from her mother's house. Mrs. Harris at first ran out into the
lane among her servants, and pursued us (so she imagined) along the
road leading to the town; but that being very dirty, and a violent
storm of rain coming, she took shelter in an alehouse about half a
mile from her own house, whither she sent for her coach; she then
drove, together with her daughter, to town, where, soon after her
arrival, she sent for the doctor, her usual privy counsellor in all
her affairs. They sat up all night together, the doctor endeavouring,
by arguments and persuasions, to bring Mrs. Harris to reason; but all
to no purpose, though, as he hath informed me, Miss Betty seconded him
with the warmest entreaties."
Here Miss Matthews laughed; of which Booth begged to know the reason:
she, at last, after many apologies, said, "It was the first good thing
she ever heard of Miss Betty; nay," said she, "and asking your pardon
for my opinion of your sister, since you will have it, I always
conceived her to be the deepest of hypocrites."
Booth fetched a sigh, and said he was afraid she had not always acted
so kindly;--and then, after a little hesitation, proceeded:
"You will be pleased, madam, to remember the lad was sent with a
verbal message to the doctor: which message was no more than to
acquaint him where we were, and to desire the favour of his company,
or that he would send a coach to bring us to whatever place he would
please to meet us at. This message was to be delivered to the doctor
himself, and the messenger was ordered, if he found him not at home,
to go to him wherever he was. He fulfilled his orders and told it to
the doctor in the presence of Mrs. Harris."
"Oh, the idiot!" cries Miss Matthews. "Not at all," answered Booth:
"he is a very sensible fellow, as you will, perhaps, say hereafter. He
had not the least reason to suspect that any secrecy was necessary;
for we took the utmost care he should not suspect it.--Well, madam,
this accident, which appeared so unfortunate, turned in the highest
degree to our advantage. Mrs. Harris no sooner heard the message
delivered than she fell into the most violent passion imaginable, and
accused the doctor of being in the plot, and of having confederated
with me in the design of carrying off her daughter.
"The doctor, who had hitherto used only soothing methods, now talked
in a different strain. He confessed the accusation and justified his
conduct. He said he was no meddler in the family affairs of others,
nor should he have concerned himself with hers, but at her own
request; but that, since Mrs. Harris herself had made him an agent in
this matter, he would take care to acquit himself with honour, and
above all things to preserve a young lady for whom he had the highest
esteem; 'for she is,' cries he, and, by heavens, he said true, 'the
most worthy, generous, and noble of all human beings. You have
yourself, madam,' said he, 'consented to the match. I have, at your
request, made the match;' and then he added some particulars relating
to his opinion of me, which my modesty forbids me to repeat."--"Nay,
but," cries Miss Matthews, "I insist on your conquest of that modesty
for once. We women do not love to hear one another's praises, and I
will be made amends by hearing the praises of a man, and of a man
whom, perhaps," added she with a leer, "I shall not think much the
better of upon that account."--"In obedience to your commands, then,
madam," continued he, "the doctor was so kind to say he had enquired
into my character and found that I had been a dutiful son and an
affectionate brother. Relations, said he, in which whoever discharges
his duty well, gives us a well-grounded hope that he will behave as
properly in all the rest. He concluded with saying that Amelia's
happiness, her heart, nay, her very reputation, were all concerned in
this matter, to which, as he had been made instrumental, he was
resolved to carry her through it; and then, taking the licence from
his pocket, declared to Mrs. Harris that he would go that instant and
marry her daughter wherever he found her. This speech, the doctor's
voice, his look, and his behaviour, all which are sufficiently
calculated to inspire awe, and even terror, when he pleases,
frightened poor Mrs. Harris, and wrought a more sensible effect than
it was in his power to produce by all his arguments and entreaties;
and I have already related what followed.
"Thus the strange accident of our wanting pen, ink, and paper, and our
not trusting the boy with our secret, occasioned the discovery to Mrs.
Harris; that discovery put the doctor upon his metal, and produced
that blessed event which I have recounted to you, and which, as my
mother hath since confessed, nothing but the spirit which he had
exerted after the discovery could have brought about.
"Well, madam, you now see me married to Amelia; in which situation you
will, perhaps, think my happiness incapable of addition. Perhaps it
was so; and yet I can with truth say that the love which I then bore
Amelia was not comparable to what I bear her now." "Happy Amelia!"
cried Miss Matthews. "If all men were like you, all women would be
blessed; nay, the whole world would be so in a great measure; for,
upon my soul, I believe that from the damned inconstancy of your sex
to ours proceeds half the miseries of mankind."
That we may give the reader leisure to consider well the foregoing
sentiment, we will here put an end to this chapter.
_In which our readers will probably be divided in their opinion of
Mr. Booth's conduct._
Booth proceeded as follows:--
"The first months of our marriage produced nothing remarkable enough
to mention. I am sure I need not tell Miss Matthews that I found in my
Amelia every perfection of human nature. Mrs. Harris at first gave us
some little uneasiness. She had rather yielded to the doctor than
given a willing consent to the match; however, by degrees, she became
more and more satisfied, and at last seemed perfectly reconciled. This
we ascribed a good deal to the kind offices of Miss Betty, who had
always appeared to be my friend. She had been greatly assisting to
Amelia in making her escape, which I had no opportunity of mentioning
to you before, and in all things behaved so well, outwardly at least,
to myself as well as her sister, that we regarded her as our sincerest
"About half a year after our marriage two additional companies were
added to our regiment, in one of which I was preferred to the command
of a lieutenant. Upon this occasion Miss Betty gave the first
intimation of a disposition which we have since too severely
"Your servant, sir," says Miss Matthews; "then I find I was not
mistaken in my opinion of the lady.--No, no, shew me any goodness in a
censorious prude, and--"
As Miss Matthews hesitated for a simile or an execration, Booth
proceeded: "You will please to remember, madam, there was formerly an
agreement between myself and Mrs. Harris that I should settle all my
Amelia's fortune on her, except a certain sum, which was to be laid
out in my advancement in the army; but, as our marriage was carried on
in the manner you have heard, no such agreement was ever executed. And
since I was become Amelia's husband not a word of this matter was ever
mentioned by the old lady; and as for myself, I declare I had not yet
awakened from that delicious dream of bliss in which the possession of
Amelia had lulled me."
Here Miss Matthews sighed, and cast the tenderest of looks on Booth,
who thus continued his story:--
"Soon after my promotion Mrs. Harris one morning took an occasion to
speak to me on this affair. She said, that, as I had been promoted
gratis to a lieutenancy, she would assist me with money to carry me
yet a step higher; and, if more was required than was formerly
mentioned, it should not be wanting, since she was so perfectly
satisfied with my behaviour to her daughter. Adding that she hoped I
had still the same inclination to settle on my wife the remainder of
"I answered with very warm acknowledgments of my mother's goodness,
and declared, if I had the world, I was ready to lay it at my Amelia's
feet.--And so, Heaven knows, I would ten thousand worlds.
"Mrs. Harris seemed pleased with the warmth of my sentiments, and said
she would immediately send to her lawyer and give him the necessary
orders; and thus ended our conversation on this subject.
"From this time there was a very visible alteration in Miss Betty's
behaviour. She grew reserved to her sister as well as to me. She was
fretful and captious on the slightest occasion; nay, she affected much
to talk on the ill consequences of an imprudent marriage, especially
before her mother; and if ever any little tenderness or endearments
escaped me in public towards Amelia, she never failed to make some
malicious remark on the short duration of violent passions; and, when
I have expressed a fond sentiment for my wife, her sister would kindly
wish she might hear as much seven years hence.
"All these matters have been since suggested to us by reflection; for,
while they actually past, both Amelia and myself had our thoughts too
happily engaged to take notice of what discovered itself in the mind
of any other person.
"Unfortunately for us, Mrs. Harris's lawyer happened at this time to
be at London, where business detained him upwards of a month, and, as
Mrs. Harris would on no occasion employ any other, our affair was
under an entire suspension till his return.
"Amelia, who was now big with child, had often expressed the deepest
concern at her apprehensions of my being some time commanded abroad; a
circumstance, which she declared if it should ever happen to her, even
though she should not then be in the same situation as at present,
would infallibly break her heart. These remonstrances were made with
such tenderness, and so much affected me, that, to avoid any
probability of such an event, I endeavoured to get an exchange into
the horse-guards, a body of troops which very rarely goes abroad,
unless where the king himself commands in person. I soon found an
officer for my purpose, the terms were agreed on, and Mrs. Harris had
ordered the money which I was to pay to be ready, notwithstanding the
opposition made by Miss Betty, who openly dissuaded her mother from
it; alledging that the exchange was highly to my disadvantage; that I
could never hope to rise in the army after it; not forgetting, at the
same time, some insinuations very prejudicial to my reputation as a
"When everything was agreed on, and the two commissions were actually
made out, but not signed by the king, one day, at my return from
hunting, Amelia flew to me, and eagerly embracing me, cried out, 'O
Billy, I have news for you which delights my soul. Nothing sure was
ever so fortunate as the exchange you have made. The regiment you was
formerly in is ordered for Gibraltar.'
"I received this news with far less transport than it was delivered. I
answered coldly, since the case was so, I heartily hoped the
commissions might be both signed. 'What do you say?' replied Amelia
eagerly; 'sure you told me everything was entirely settled. That look
of yours frightens me to death.'--But I am running into too minute
particulars. In short, I received a letter by that very post from the
officer with whom I had exchanged, insisting that, though his majesty
had not signed the commissions, that still the bargain was valid,
partly urging it as a right, and partly desiring it as a favour, that
he might go to Gibraltar in my room.
"This letter convinced me in every point. I was now informed that the
commissions were not signed, and consequently that the exchange was
not compleated; of consequence the other could have no right to insist
on going; and, as for granting him such a favour, I too clearly saw I
must do it at the expense of my honour. I was now reduced to a
dilemma, the most dreadful which I think any man can experience; in
which, I am not ashamed to own, I found love was not so overmatched by
honour as he ought to have been. The thoughts of leaving Amelia in her
present condition to misery, perhaps to death or madness, were
insupportable; nor could any other consideration but that which now
tormented me on the other side have combated them a moment."
"No woman upon earth," cries Miss Matthews, "can despise want of
spirit in a man more than myself; and yet I cannot help thinking you
was rather too nice on this occasion."
"You will allow, madam," answered Booth, "that whoever offends against
the laws of honour in the least instance is treated as the highest
delinquent. Here is no excuse, no pardon; and he doth nothing who
leaves anything undone. But if the conflict was so terrible with
myself alone, what was my situation in the presence of Amelia? how
could I support her sighs, her tears, her agonies, her despair? could
I bear to think myself the cruel cause of her sufferings? for so I
was: could I endure the thought of having it in my power to give her
instant relief, for so it was, and refuse it her?
"Miss Betty was now again become my friend. She had scarce been civil
to me for a fortnight last past, yet now she commended me to the
skies, and as severely blamed her sister, whom she arraigned of the
most contemptible weakness in preferring my safety to my honour: she
said many ill-natured things on the occasion, which I shall not now
"In the midst of this hurricane the good doctor came to dine with Mrs.
Harris, and at my desire delivered his opinion on the matter."
Here Mr. Booth was interrupted in his narrative by the arrival of a
person whom we shall introduce in the next chapter.
_Containing a scene of a different kind from any of the preceding._
The gentleman who now arrived was the keeper; or, if you please (for
so he pleased to call himself), the governor of the prison.
He used so little ceremony at his approach, that the bolt, which was
very slight on the inside, gave way, and the door immediately flew
open. He had no sooner entered the room than he acquainted Miss
Matthews that he had brought her very good news, for which he demanded
a bottle of wine as his due.
This demand being complied with, he acquainted Miss Matthews that the
wounded gentleman was not dead, nor was his wound thought to be
mortal: that loss of blood, and perhaps his fright, had occasioned his
fainting away; "but I believe, madam," said he, "if you take the
proper measures you may be bailed to-morrow. I expect the lawyer here
this evening, and if you put the business into his hands I warrant it
will be done. Money to be sure must be parted with, that's to be sure.
People to be sure will expect to touch a little in such cases. For my
own part, I never desire to keep a prisoner longer than the law
allows, not I; I always inform them they can be bailed as soon as I
know it; I never make any bargain, not I; I always love to leave those
things to the gentlemen and ladies themselves. I never suspect
gentlemen and ladies of wanting generosity."
Miss Matthews made a very slight answer to all these friendly
professions. She said she had done nothing she repented of, and was
indifferent as to the event. "All I can say," cries she, "is, that if
the wretch is alive there is no greater villain in life than himself;"
and, instead of mentioning anything of the bail, she begged the keeper
to leave her again alone with Mr. Booth. The keeper replied, "Nay,
madam, perhaps it may be better to stay a little longer here, if you
have not bail ready, than to buy them too dear. Besides, a day or two
hence, when the gentleman is past all danger of recovery, to be sure
some folks that would expect an extraordinary fee now cannot expect to
touch anything. And to be sure you shall want nothing here. The best
of all things are to be had here for money, both eatable and
drinkable: though I say it, I shan't turn my back to any of the
taverns for either eatables or wind. The captain there need not have
been so shy of owning himself when he first came in; we have had
captains and other great gentlemen here before now; and no shame to
them, though I say it. Many a great gentleman is sometimes found in
places that don't become them half so well, let me tell them that,
Captain Booth, let me tell them that."
"I see, sir," answered Booth, a little discomposed, "that you are
acquainted with my title as well as my name."
"Ay, sir," cries the keeper, "and I honour you the more for it. I love
the gentlemen of the army. I was in the army myself formerly; in the
Lord of Oxford's horse. It is true I rode private; but I had money
enough to have bought in quarter-master, when I took it into my head
to marry, and my wife she did not like that I should continue a
soldier, she was all for a private life; and so I came to this
"Upon my word, sir," answered Booth, "you consulted your wife's
inclinations very notably; but pray will you satisfy my curiosity in
telling me how you became acquainted that I was in the army? for my
dress I think could not betray me."
"Betray!" replied the keeper; "there is no betraying here, I hope--I
am not a person to betray people.--But you are so shy and peery, you
would almost make one suspect there was more in the matter. And if
there be, I promise you, you need not be afraid of telling it me. You
will excuse me giving you a hint; but the sooner the better, that's
all. Others may be beforehand with you, and first come first served on
these occasions, that's all. Informers are odious, there's no doubt of
that, and no one would care to be an informer if he could help it,
because of the ill-usage they always receive from the mob: yet it is
dangerous to trust too much; and when safety and a good part of the
reward too are on one side and the gallows on the other--I know which
a wise man would chuse."
"What the devil do you mean by all this?" cries Booth.
"No offence, I hope," answered the keeper: "I speak for your good; and
if you have been upon the snaffling lay--you understand me, I am
"Not I," answered Booth, "upon my honour."
"Nay, nay," replied the keeper, with a contemptuous sneer, "if you are
so peery as that comes to, you must take the consequence.--But for my
part, I know I would not trust Robinson with twopence untold."
"What do you mean?" cries Booth; "who is Robinson?"
"And you don't know Robinson?" answered the keeper with great emotion.
To which Booth replying in the negative, the keeper, after some tokens
of amazement, cried out, "Well, captain, I must say you are the best
at it of all the gentlemen I ever saw. However, I will tell you this:
the lawyer and Mr. Robinson have been laying their heads together
about you above half an hour this afternoon. I overheard them mention
Captain Booth several times, and, for my part, I would not answer that
Mr. Murphy is not now gone about the business; but if you will impeach
any to me of the road, or anything else, I will step away to his
worship Thrasher this instant, and I am sure I have interest enough
with him to get you admitted an evidence."
"And so," cries Booth, "you really take me for a highwayman?"
"No offence, captain, I hope," said the keeper; "as times go, there
are many worse men in the world than those. Gentlemen may be driven to
distress, and when they are, I know no more genteeler way than the
road. It hath been many a brave man's case, to my knowledge, and men
of as much honour too as any in the world."
"Well, sir," said Booth, "I assure you I am not that gentleman of
honour you imagine me."
Miss Matthews, who had long understood the keeper no better than Mr.
Booth, no sooner heard his meaning explained than she was fired with
greater indignation than the gentleman had expressed. "How dare you,
sir," said she to the keeper, "insult a man of fashion, and who hath
had the honour to bear his majesty's commission in the army? as you
yourself own you know. If his misfortunes have sent him hither, sure
we have no laws that will protect such a fellow as you in insulting
him." "Fellow!" muttered the keeper--"I would not advise you, madam,
to use such language to me."--"Do you dare threaten me?" replied Miss
Matthews in a rage. "Venture in the least instance to exceed your
authority with regard to me, and I will prosecute you with the utmost
A scene of very high altercation now ensued, till Booth interposed and
quieted the keeper, who was, perhaps, enough inclined to an
accommodation; for, in truth, he waged unequal war. He was besides
unwilling to incense Miss Matthews, whom he expected to be bailed out
the next day, and who had more money left than he intended she should
carry out of the prison with her; and as for any violent or
unjustifiable methods, the lady had discovered much too great a spirit
to be in danger of them. The governor, therefore, in a very gentle
tone, declared that, if he had given any offence to the gentleman, he
heartily asked his pardon; that, if he had known him to be really a
captain, he should not have entertained any such suspicions; but the
captain was a very common title in that place, and belonged to several
gentlemen that had never been in the army, or, at most, had rid
private like himself. "To be sure, captain," said he, "as you yourself
own, your dress is not very military" (for he had on a plain fustian
suit); "and besides, as the lawyer says, _noscitur a sosir_, is a very
good rule. And I don't believe there is a greater rascal upon earth
than that same Robinson that I was talking of. Nay, I assure you, I
wish there may be no mischief hatching against you. But if there is I
will do all I can with the lawyer to prevent it. To be sure, Mr.
Murphy is one of the cleverest men in the world at the law; that even
his enemies must own, and as I recommend him to all the business I can
(and it is not a little to be sure that arises in this place), why one
good turn deserves another. And I may expect that he will not be
concerned in any plot to ruin any friend of mine, at least when I
desire him not. I am sure he could not be an honest man if he would."
Booth was then satisfied that Mr. Robinson, whom he did not yet know
by name, was the gamester who had won his money at play. And now Miss
Matthews, who had very impatiently borne this long interruption,
prevailed on the keeper to withdraw. As soon as he was gone Mr. Booth
began to felicitate her upon the news of the wounded gentleman being
in a fair likelihood of recovery. To which, after a short silence, she
answered, "There is something, perhaps, which you will not easily
guess, that makes your congratulations more agreeable to me than the
first account I heard of the villain's having escaped the fate he
deserves; for I do assure you, at first, it did not make me amends for
the interruption of my curiosity. Now I hope we shall be disturbed no
more till you have finished your whole story.--You left off, I think,
somewhere in the struggle about leaving Amelia--the happy Amelia."
"And can you call her happy at such a period?" cries Booth. "Happy,
ay, happy, in any situation," answered Miss Matthews, "with such a
husband. I, at least, may well think so, who have experienced the very
reverse of her fortune; but I was not born to be happy. I may say with
"The blackest ink of fate was sure my lot,
And when fate writ my name, it made a blot."
"Nay, nay, dear Miss Matthews," answered Booth, "you must and shall
banish such gloomy thoughts. Fate hath, I hope, many happy days in
store for you."--"Do you believe it, Mr. Booth?" replied she; "indeed
you know the contrary--you must know--for you can't have forgot. No
Amelia in the world can have quite obliterated--forgetfulness is not
in our own power. If it was, indeed, I have reason to think--but I
know not what I am saying.--Pray do proceed in that story."
Booth so immediately complied with this request that it is possible he
was pleased with it. To say the truth, if all which unwittingly dropt
from Miss Matthews was put together, some conclusions might, it seems,
be drawn from the whole, which could not convey a very agreeable idea
to a constant husband. Booth, therefore, proceeded to relate what is
written in the third book of this history.
_In which Mr. Booth resumes his story._
"If I am not mistaken, madam," continued Booth, "I was just going to
acquaint you with the doctor's opinion when we were interrupted by the
"The doctor, having heard counsel on both sides, that is to say, Mrs.
Harris for my staying, and Miss Betty for my going, at last delivered
his own sentiments. As for Amelia, she sat silent, drowned in her
tears; nor was I myself in a much better situation.
"'As the commissions are not signed,' said the doctor, 'I think you
may be said to remain in your former regiment; and therefore I think
you ought to go on this expedition; your duty to your king and
country, whose bread you have eaten, requires it; and this is a duty
of too high a nature to admit the least deficiency. Regard to your