Part 5 out of 12
former operator, with his zany, the apothecary, quitted the field, and
left the other in full possession of the sick.
The first thing the new doctor did was (to use his own phrase) to blow
up the physical magazine. All the powders and potions instantly
disappeared at his command; for he said there was a much readier and
nearer way to convey such stuff to the vault, than by first sending it
through the human body. He then ordered the child to be blooded, gave
it a clyster and some cooling physic, and, in short (that I may not
dwell too long on so unpleasing a part of history), within three days
cured the little patient of her distemper, to the great satisfaction
of Mrs. Ellison, and to the vast joy of Amelia.
Some readers will, perhaps, think this whole chapter might have been
omitted; but though it contains no great matter of amusement, it may
at least serve to inform posterity concerning the present state of
_In which Booth pays a visit to the noble lord._
When that day of the week returned in which Mr. Booth chose to walk
abroad, he went to wait on the noble peer, according to his kind
Booth now found a very different reception with this great man's
porter from what he had met with at his friend the colonel's. He no
sooner told his name than the porter with a bow told him his lordship
was at home: the door immediately flew wide open, and he was conducted
to an ante-chamber, where a servant told him he would acquaint his
lordship with his arrival. Nor did he wait many minutes before the
same servant returned and ushered him to his lordship's apartment.
He found my lord alone, and was received by him in the most courteous
manner imaginable. After the first ceremonials were over, his lordship
began in the following words: "Mr. Booth, I do assure you, you are
very much obliged to my cousin Ellison. She hath given you such a
character, that I shall have a pleasure in doing anything in my power
to serve you.--But it will be very difficult, I am afraid, to get you
a rank at home. In the West Indies, perhaps, or in some regiment
abroad, it may be more easy; and, when I consider your reputation as a
soldier, I make no doubt of your readiness to go to any place where
the service of your country shall call you." Booth answered, "That he
was highly obliged to his lordship, and assured him he would with
great chearfulness attend his duty in any part of the world. The only
thing grievous in the exchange of countries," said he, "in my opinion,
is to leave those I love behind me, and I am sure I shall never have a
second trial equal to my first. It was very hard, my lord, to leave a
young wife big with her first child, and so affected with my absence,
that I had the utmost reason to despair of ever seeing her more. After
such a demonstration of my resolution to sacrifice every other
consideration to my duty, I hope your lordship will honour me with
some confidence that I shall make no objection to serve in any
country."--"My dear Mr. Booth," answered the lord, "you speak like a
soldier, and I greatly honour your sentiments. Indeed, I own the
justice of your inference from the example you have given; for to quit
a wife, as you say, in the very infancy of marriage, is, I
acknowledge, some trial of resolution." Booth answered with a low bow;
and then, after some immaterial conversation, his lordship promised to
speak immediately to the minister, and appointed Mr. Booth to come to
him again on the Wednesday morning, that he might be acquainted with
his patron's success. The poor man now blushed and looked silly, till,
after some time, he summoned up all his courage to his assistance, and
relying on the other's friendship, he opened the whole affair of his
circumstances, and confessed that he did not dare stir from his
lodgings above one day in seven. His lordship expressed great concern
at this account, and very kindly promised to take some opportunity of
calling on him at his cousin Ellison's, when he hoped, he said, to
bring him comfortable tidings.
Booth soon afterwards took his leave with the most profuse
acknowledgments for so much goodness, and hastened home to acquaint
his Amelia with what had so greatly overjoyed him. She highly
congratulated him on his having found so generous and powerful a
friend, towards whom both their bosoms burnt with the warmest
sentiments of gratitude. She was not, however, contented till she had
made Booth renew his promise, in the most solemn manner, of taking her
with him. After which they sat down with their little children to a
scrag of mutton and broth, with the highest satisfaction, and very
heartily drank his lordship's health in a pot of porter.
In the afternoon this happy couple, if the reader will allow me to
call poor people happy, drank tea with Mrs. Ellison, where his
lordship's praises, being again repeated by both the husband and wife,
were very loudly echoed by Mrs. Ellison. While they were here, the
young lady whom we have mentioned at the end of the last book to have
made a fourth at whist, and with whom Amelia seemed so much pleased,
came in; she was just returned to town from a short visit in the
country, and her present visit was unexpected. It was, however, very
agreeable to Amelia, who liked her still better upon a second
interview, and was resolved to solicit her further acquaintance.
Mrs. Bennet still maintained some little reserve, but was much more
familiar and communicative than before. She appeared, moreover, to be
as little ceremonious as Mrs. Ellison had reported her, and very
readily accepted Amelia's apology for not paying her the first visit,
and agreed to drink tea with her the very next afternoon.
Whilst the above-mentioned company were sitting in Mrs. Ellison's
parlour, serjeant Atkinson passed by the window and knocked at the
door. Mrs. Ellison no sooner saw him than she said, "Pray, Mr. Booth,
who is that genteel young serjeant? he was here every day last week to
enquire after you." This was indeed a fact; the serjeant was
apprehensive of the design of Murphy; but, as the poor fellow had
received all his answers from the maid of Mrs. Ellison, Booth had
never heard a word of the matter. He was, however, greatly pleased
with what he was now told, and burst forth into great praises of the
serjeant, which were seconded by Amelia, who added that he was her
foster-brother, and, she believed, one of the honestest fellows in the
"And I'll swear," cries Mrs. Ellison, "he is one of the prettiest. Do,
Mr. Booth, desire him to walk in. A serjeant of the guards is a
gentleman; and I had rather give such a man as you describe a dish of
tea than any Beau Fribble of them all."
Booth wanted no great solicitation to shew any kind of regard to
Atkinson; and, accordingly, the serjeant was ushered in, though not
without some reluctance on his side. There is, perhaps, nothing more
uneasy than those sensations which the French call the _mauvaise
honte,_ nor any more difficult to conquer; and poor Atkinson would,
I am persuaded, have mounted a breach with less concern than he shewed
in walking across a room before three ladies, two of whom were his
Though I do not entirely agree with the late learned Mr. Essex, the
celebrated dancing-master's opinion, that dancing is the rudiment of
polite education, as he would, I apprehend, exclude every other art
and science, yet it is certain that persons whose feet have never been
under the hands of the professors of that art are apt to discover this
want in their education in every motion, nay, even when they stand or
sit still. They seem, indeed, to be overburthened with limbs which
they know not how to use, as if, when Nature hath finished her work,
the dancing-master still is necessary to put it in motion.
Atkinson was, at present, an example of this observation which doth so
much honour to a profession for which I have a very high regard. He
was handsome, and exquisitely well made; and yet, as he had never
learnt to dance, he made so awkward an appearance in Mrs. Ellison's
parlour, that the good lady herself, who had invited him in, could at
first scarce refrain from laughter at his behaviour. He had not,
however, been long in the room before admiration of his person got the
better of such risible ideas. So great is the advantage of beauty in
men as well as women, and so sure is this quality in either sex of
procuring some regard from the beholder.
The exceeding courteous behaviour of Mrs. Ellison, joined to that of
Amelia and Booth, at length dissipated the uneasiness of Atkinson; and
he gained sufficient confidence to tell the company some entertaining
stories of accidents that had happened in the army within his
knowledge, which, though they greatly pleased all present, are not,
however, of consequence enough to have a place in this history.
Mrs. Ellison was so very importunate with her company to stay supper
that they all consented. As for the serjeant, he seemed to be none of
the least welcome guests. She was, indeed, so pleased with what she
had heard of him, and what she saw of him, that, when a little warmed
with wine, for she was no flincher at the bottle, she began to indulge
some freedoms in her discourse towards him that a little offended
Amelia's delicacy, nay, they did not seem to be highly relished by the
other lady; though I am far from insinuating that these exceeded the
bounds of decorum, or were, indeed, greater liberties than ladies of
the middle age, and especially widows, do frequently allow to
_Relating principally to the affairs of serjeant Atkinson._
The next day, when all the same company, Atkinson only excepted,
assembled in Amelia's apartment, Mrs. Ellison presently began to
discourse of him, and that in terms not only of approbation but even
of affection. She called him her clever serjeant, and her dear
serjeant, repeated often that he was the prettiest fellow in the army,
and said it was a thousand pities he had not a commission; for that,
if he had, she was sure he would become a general.
"I am of your opinion, madam," answered Booth; "and he hath got one
hundred pounds of his own already, if he could find a wife now to help
him to two or three hundred more, I think he might easily get a
commission in a marching regiment; for I am convinced there is no
colonel in the army would refuse him."
"Refuse him, indeed!" said Mrs. Ellison; "no; he would be a very
pretty colonel that did. And, upon my honour, I believe there are very
few ladies who would refuse him, if he had but a proper opportunity of
soliciting them. The colonel and the lady both would be better off
than with one of those pretty masters that I see walking about, and
dragging their long swords after them, when they should rather drag
"Well said," cries Booth, "and spoken like a woman of spirit.--Indeed,
I believe they would be both better served."
"True, captain," answered Mrs. Ellison; "I would rather leave the two
first syllables out of the word gentleman than the last."
"Nay, I assure you," replied Booth, "there is not a quieter creature
in the world. Though the fellow hath the bravery of a lion, he hath
the meekness of a lamb. I can tell you stories enow of that kind, and
so can my dear Amelia, when he was a boy."
"O! if the match sticks there," cries Amelia, "I positively will not
spoil his fortune by my silence. I can answer for him from his
infancy, that he was one of the best-natured lads in the world. I will
tell you a story or two of him, the truth of which I can testify from
my own knowledge. When he was but six years old he was at play with me
at my mother's house, and a great pointer-dog bit him through the leg.
The poor lad, in the midst of the anguish of his wound, declared he
was overjoyed it had not happened to miss (for the same dog had just
before snapt at me, and my petticoats had been my defence).--Another
instance of his goodness, which greatly recommended him to my father,
and which I have loved him for ever since, was this: my father was a
great lover of birds, and strictly forbad the spoiling of their nests.
Poor Joe was one day caught upon a tree, and, being concluded guilty,
was severely lashed for it; but it was afterwards discovered that
another boy, a friend of Joe's, had robbed the nest of its young ones,
and poor Joe had climbed the tree in order to restore them,
notwithstanding which, he submitted to the punishment rather than he
would impeach his companion. But, if these stories appear childish and
trifling, the duty and kindness he hath shewn to his mother must
recommend him to every one. Ever since he hath been fifteen years old
he hath more than half supported her: and when my brother died, I
remember particularly, Joe, at his desire, for he was much his
favourite, had one of his suits given him; but, instead of his
becoming finer on that occasion, another young fellow came to church
in my brother's cloaths, and my old nurse appeared the same Sunday in
a new gown, which her son had purchased for her with the sale of his
"Well, I protest, he is a very worthy creature," said Mrs. Bennet.
"He is a charming fellow," cries Mrs. Ellison--"but then the name of
serjeant, Captain Booth; there, as the play says, my pride brings me
And whatsoever the sages charge on pride,
The angels' fall, and twenty other good faults beside;
On earth I'm sure--I'm sure--something--calling
Pride saves man, and our sex too, from falling.--
Here a footman's rap at the door shook the room. Upon which Mrs.
Ellison, running to the window, cried out, "Let me die if it is not my
lord! what shall I do? I must be at home to him; but suppose he should
enquire for you, captain, what shall I say? or will you go down with
The company were in some confusion at this instant, and before they
had agreed on anything, Booth's little girl came running into the
room, and said, "There was a prodigious great gentleman coming up-
stairs." She was immediately followed by his lordship, who, as he knew
Booth must be at home, made very little or no enquiry at the door.
Amelia was taken somewhat at a surprize, but she was too polite to
shew much confusion; for, though she knew nothing of the town, she had
had a genteel education, and kept the best company the country
afforded. The ceremonies therefore past as usual, and they all sat
His lordship soon addressed himself to Booth, saying, "As I have what
I think good news for you, sir, I could not delay giving myself the
pleasure of communicating it to you. I have mentioned your affair
where I promised you, and I have no doubt of my success. One may
easily perceive, you know, from the manner of people's behaving upon
such occasions; and, indeed, when I related your case, I found there
was much inclination to serve you. Great men, Mr. Booth, must do
things in their own time; but I think you may depend on having
something done very soon."
Booth made many acknowledgments for his lordship's goodness, and now a
second time paid all the thanks which would have been due, even had
the favour been obtained. This art of promising is the economy of a
great man's pride, a sort of good husbandry in conferring favours, by
which they receive tenfold in acknowledgments for every obligation, I
mean among those who really intend the service; for there are others
who cheat poor men of their thanks, without ever designing to deserve
them at all.
This matter being sufficiently discussed, the conversation took a
gayer turn; and my lord began to entertain the ladies with some of
that elegant discourse which, though most delightful to hear, it is
impossible should ever be read.
His lordship was so highly pleased with Amelia, that he could not help
being somewhat particular to her; but this particularity distinguished
itself only in a higher degree of respect, and was so very polite, and
so very distant, that she herself was pleased, and at his departure,
which was not till he had far exceeded the length of a common visit,
declared he was the finest gentleman she had ever seen; with which
sentiment her husband and Mrs. Ellison both entirely concurred.
Mrs. Bennet, on the contrary, exprest some little dislike to my lord's
complaisance, which she called excessive. "For my own part," said she,
"I have not the least relish for those very fine gentlemen; what the
world generally calls politeness, I term insincerity; and I am more
charmed with the stories which Mrs. Booth told us of the honest
serjeant than with all that the finest gentlemen in the world ever
said in their lives!"
"O! to be sure," cries Mrs. Ellison; "_All for Love, or the World
well Lost,_ is a motto very proper for some folks to wear in their
coat of arms; but the generality of the world will, I believe, agree
with that lady's opinion of my cousin, rather than with Mrs. Bennet."
Mrs. Bennet, seeing Mrs. Ellison took offence at what she said,
thought proper to make some apology, which was very readily accepted,
and so ended the visit.
We cannot however put an end to the chapter without observing that
such is the ambitious temper of beauty, that it may always apply to
itself that celebrated passage in Lucan,
_Nec quenquam jam ferre potest Caesarve priorem, Pompeiusve
Indeed, I believe, it may be laid down as a general rule, that no
woman who hath any great pretensions to admiration is ever well
pleased in a company where she perceives herself to fill only the
second place. This observation, however, I humbly submit to the
judgment of the ladies, and hope it will be considered as retracted by
me if they shall dissent from my opinion.
_Containing matters that require no preface._
When Booth and his wife were left alone together they both extremely
exulted in their good fortune in having found so good a friend as his
lordship; nor were they wanting in very warm expressions of gratitude
towards Mrs. Ellison. After which they began to lay down schemes of
living when Booth should have his commission of captain; and, after
the exactest computation, concluded that, with economy, they should be
able to save at least fifty pounds a-year out of their income in order
to pay their debts.
These matters being well settled, Amelia asked Booth what he thought
of Mrs. Bennet? "I think, my dear," answered Booth, "that she hath
been formerly a very pretty woman." "I am mistaken," replied she, "if
she be not a very good creature. I don't know I ever took such a
liking to any one on so short an acquaintance. I fancy she hath been a
very spritely woman; for, if you observe, she discovers by starts a
great vivacity in her countenance." "I made the same observation,"
cries Booth: "sure some strange misfortune hath befallen her." "A
misfortune, indeed!" answered Amelia; "sure, child, you forget what
Mrs. Ellison told us, that she had lost a beloved husband. A
misfortune which I have often wondered at any woman's surviving." At
which words she cast a tender look at Booth, and presently afterwards,
throwing herself upon his neck, cried, "O, Heavens! what a happy
creature am I! when I consider the dangers you have gone through, how
I exult in my bliss!" The good-natured reader will suppose that Booth
was not deficient in returning such tenderness, after which the
conversation became too fond to be here related.
The next morning Mrs. Ellison addressed herself to Booth as follows:
"I shall make no apology, sir, for what I am going to say, as it
proceeds from my friendship to yourself and your dear lady. I am
convinced then, sir, there is a something more than accident in your
going abroad only one day in the week. Now, sir, if, as I am afraid,
matters are not altogether as well as I wish them, I beg, since I do
not believe you are provided with a lawyer, that you will suffer me to
recommend one to you. The person I shall mention is, I assure you, of
much ability in his profession, and I have known him do great services
to gentlemen under a cloud. Do not be ashamed of your circumstances,
my dear friend: they are a much greater scandal to those who have left
so much merit unprovided for."
Booth gave Mrs. Ellison abundance of thanks for her kindness, and
explicitly confessed to her that her conjectures were right, and,
without hesitation, accepted the offer of her friend's assistance.
Mrs. Ellison then acquainted him with her apprehensions on his
account. She said she had both yesterday and this morning seen two or
three very ugly suspicious fellows pass several times by her window.
"Upon all accounts," said she, "my dear sir, I advise you to keep
yourself close confined till the lawyer hath been with you. I am sure
he will get you your liberty, at least of walking about within the
verge. There's something to be done with the board of green-cloth; I
don't know what; but this I know, that several gentlemen have lived
here a long time very comfortably, and have defied all the vengeance
of their creditors. However, in the mean time, you must be a close
prisoner with your lady; and I believe there is no man in England but
would exchange his liberty for the same gaol."
She then departed in order to send for the attorney, and presently
afterwards the serjeant arrived with news of the like kind. He said he
had scraped an acquaintance with Murphy. "I hope your honour will
pardon me," cries Atkinson, "but I pretended to have a small demand
upon your honour myself, and offered to employ him in the business.
Upon which he told me that, if I would go with him to the Marshal's
court, and make affidavit of my debt, he should be able very shortly
to get it me; for I shall have the captain in hold," cries he,
"within a day or two." "I wish," said the serjeant, "I could do your
honour any service. Shall I walk about all day before the door? or
shall I be porter, and watch it in the inside till your honour can
find some means of securing yourself? I hope you will not be offended
at me, but I beg you would take care of falling into Murphy's hands;
for he hath the character of the greatest villain upon earth. I am
afraid you will think me too bold, sir; but I have a little money; if
it can be of any service, do, pray your honour, command it. It can
never do me so much good any other way. Consider, sir, I owe all I
have to yourself and my dear mistress."
Booth stood a moment, as if he had been thunderstruck, and then, the
tears bursting from his eyes, he said, "Upon my soul, Atkinson, you
overcome me. I scarce ever heard of so--much goodness, nor do I know
how to express my sentiments of it. But, be assured, as for your
money, I will not accept it; and let it satisfy you, that in my
present circumstances it would do me no essential service; but this be
assured of likewise, that whilst I live I shall never forget the
kindness of the offer. However, as I apprehend I may be in some danger
of fellows getting into the house, for a day or two, as I have no
guard but a poor little girl, I will not refuse the goodness you offer
to shew in my protection. And I make no doubt but Mrs. Ellison will
let you sit in her parlour for that purpose."
Atkinson, with the utmost readiness, undertook the office of porter;
and Mrs. Ellison as readily allotted him a place in her back-parlour,
where he continued three days together, from eight in the morning till
twelve at night; during which time, he had sometimes the company of
Mrs. Ellison, and sometimes of Booth, Amelia, and Mrs. Bennet too; for
this last had taken as great a fancy to Amelia as Amelia had to her,
and, therefore, as Mr. Booth's affairs were now no secret in the
neighbourhood, made her frequent visits during the confinement of her
husband, and consequently her own.
Nothing, as I remember, happened in this interval of time, more worthy
notice than the following card which Amelia received from her old
acquaintance Mrs. James:--"Mrs. James sends her compliments to Mrs.
Booth, and desires to know how she does; for, as she hath not had the
favour of seeing her at her own house, or of meeting her in any public
place, in so long time, fears it may be owing to ill health."
Amelia had long given over all thoughts of her friend, and doubted not
but that she was as entirely given over by her; she was very much
surprized at this message, and under some doubt whether it was not
meant as an insult, especially from the mention of public places,
which she thought so inconsistent with her present circumstances, of
which she supposed Mrs. James was well apprized. However, at the
entreaty of her husband, who languished for nothing more than to be
again reconciled to his friend James, Amelia undertook to pay the lady
a visit, and to examine into the mystery of this conduct, which
appeared to her so unaccountable.
Mrs. James received her with a degree of civility that amazed Amelia
no less than her coldness had done before. She resolved to come to an
eclaircissement, and, having sat out some company that came in, when
they were alone together Amelia, after some silence and many offers to
speak, at last said, "My dear Jenny (if you will now suffer me to call
you by so familiar a name), have you entirely forgot a certain young
lady who had the pleasure of being your intimate acquaintance at
Montpelier?" "Whom do you mean, dear madam?" cries Mrs. James with
great concern. "I mean myself," answered Amelia. "You surprize me,
madam," replied Mrs. James: "how can you ask me that question?" "Nay,
my dear, I do not intend to offend you," cries Amelia, "but I am
really desirous to solve to myself the reason of that coldness which
you shewed me when you did me the favour of a visit. Can you think, my
dear, I was not disappointed, when I expected to meet an intimate
friend, to receive a cold formal visitant? I desire you to examine
your own heart and answer me honestly if you do not think I had some
little reason to be dissatisfied with your behaviour?" "Indeed, Mrs.
Booth," answered the other lady, "you surprize me very much; if there
was anything displeasing to you in my behaviour I am extremely
concerned at it. I did not know I had been defective in any of the
rules of civility, but if I was, madam, I ask your pardon." "Is
civility, then, my dear," replied Amelia, "a synonymous term with
friendship? Could I have expected, when I parted the last time with
Miss Jenny Bath, to have met her the next time in the shape of a fine
lady, complaining of the hardship of climbing up two pair of stairs to
visit me, and then approaching me with the distant air of a new or a
slight acquaintance? Do you think, my dear Mrs. James, if the tables
had been turned, if my fortune had been as high in the world as yours,
and you in my distress and abject condition, that I would not have
climbed as high as the monument to visit you?" "Sure, madam," cried
Mrs. James, "I mistake you, or you have greatly mistaken me. Can you
complain of my not visiting you, who have owed me a visit almost these
three weeks? Nay, did I not even then send you a card, which sure was
doing more than all the friendship and good-breeding in the world
required; but, indeed, as I had met you in no public place, I really
thought you was ill."
"How can you mention public places to me," said Amelia, "when you can
hardly be a stranger to my present situation? Did you not know, madam,
that I was ruined?" "No, indeed, madam, did I not," replied Mrs.
James; "I am sure I should have been highly concerned if! had." "Why,
sure, my dear," cries Amelia, "you could not imagine that we were in
affluent circumstances, when you found us in such a place, and in such
a condition." "Nay, my dear," answered Mrs. James, "since you are
pleased to mention it first yourself, I own I was a little surprized
to see you in no better lodgings; but I concluded you had your own
reasons for liking them; and, for my own part, I have laid it down as
a positive rule never to enquire into the private affairs of any one,
especially of my friends. I am not of the humour of some ladies, who
confine the circle of their acquaintance to one part of the town, and
would not be known to visit in the city for the world. For my part, I
never dropt an acquaintance with any one while it was reputable to
keep it up; and I can solemnly declare I have not a friend in the
world for whom I have a greater esteem than I have for Mrs. Booth."
At this instant the arrival of a new visitant put an end to the
discourse; and Amelia soon after took her leave without the least
anger, but with some little unavoidable contempt for a lady, in whose
opinion, as we have hinted before, outward form and ceremony
constituted the whole essence of friendship; who valued all her
acquaintance alike, as each individual served equally to fill up a
place in her visiting roll; and who, in reality, had not the least
concern for the good qualities or well-being of any of them.
_Containing much heroic matter._
At the end of three days Mrs. Ellison's friend had so far purchased
Mr. Booth's liberty that he could walk again abroad within the verge
without any danger of having a warrant backed against him by the board
before he had notice. As for the ill-looked persons that had given the
alarm, it was now discovered that another unhappy gentleman, and not
Booth, was the object of their pursuit.
Mr. Booth, now being delivered from his fears, went, as he had
formerly done, to take his morning walk in the Park. Here he met
Colonel Bath in company with some other officers, and very civilly
paid his respects to him. But, instead of returning the salute, the
colonel looked him full in the face with a very stern countenance;
and, if he could be said to take any notice of him, it was in such a
manner as to inform him he would take no notice of him.
Booth was not more hurt than surprized at this behaviour, and resolved
to know the reason of it. He therefore watched an opportunity till the
colonel was alone, and then walked boldly up to him, and desired to
know if he had given him any offence? The colonel answered hastily,
"Sir, I am above being offended with you, nor do I think it consistent
with my dignity to make you any answer." Booth replied, "I don't know,
sir, that I have done anything to deserve this treatment." "Look'ee,
sir," cries the colonel, "if I had not formerly had some respect for
you, I should not think you worth my resentment. However, as you are a
gentleman born, and an officer, and as I have had an esteem for you, I
will give you some marks of it by putting it in your power to do
yourself justice. I will tell you therefore, sir, that you have acted
like a scoundrel." "If we were not in the Park," answered Booth
warmly, "I would thank you very properly for that compliment." "O,
sir," cries the colonel, "we can be soon in a convenient place." Upon
which Booth answered, he would attend him wherever he pleased. The
colonel then bid him come along, and strutted forward directly up
Constitution-hill to Hyde-park, Booth following him at first, and
afterwards walking before him, till they came to that place which may
be properly called the field of blood, being that part, a little to
the left of the ring, which heroes have chosen for the scene of their
exit out of this world.
Booth reached the ring some time before the colonel; for he mended not
his pace any more than a Spaniard. To say truth, I believe it was not
in his power: for he had so long accustomed himself to one and the
same strut, that as a horse, used always to trotting, can scarce be
forced into a gallop, so could no passion force the colonel to alter
[Illustration with caption: _Colonel Bath._]
At length, however, both parties arrived at the lists, where the
colonel very deliberately took off his wig and coat, and laid them on
the grass, and then, drawing his sword, advanced to Booth, who had
likewise his drawn weapon in his hand, but had made no other
preparation for the combat.
The combatants now engaged with great fury, and, after two or three
passes, Booth run the colonel through the body and threw him on the
ground, at the same time possessing himself of the colonel's sword.
As soon as the colonel was become master of his speech, he called out
to Booth in a very kind voice, and said, "You have done my business,
and satisfied me that you are a man of honour, and that my brother
James must have been mistaken; for I am convinced that no man who will
draw his sword in so gallant a manner is capable of being a rascal.
D--n me, give me a buss, my dear boy; I ask your pardon for that
infamous appellation I dishonoured your dignity with; but d--n me if
it was not purely out of love, and to give you an opportunity of doing
yourself justice, which I own you have done like a man of honour. What
may be the consequence I know not, but I hope, at least, I shall live
to reconcile you with my brother."
Booth shewed great concern, and even horror in his countenance. "Why,
my dear colonel," said he, "would you force me to this? for Heaven's
sake tell me what I have ever done to offend you."
"Me!" cried the colonel. "Indeed, my dear child, you never did
anything to offend me.--Nay, I have acted the part of a friend to you
in the whole affair. I maintained your cause with my brother as long
as decency would permit; I could not flatly contradict him, though,
indeed, I scarce believed him. But what could I do? If I had not
fought with you, I must have been obliged to have fought with him;
however, I hope what is done will be sufficient, and that matters may
be discomodated without your being put to the necessity of fighting
any more on this occasion."
"Never regard me," cried Booth eagerly; "for Heaven's sake, think of
your own preservation. Let me put you into a chair, and get you a
"Thou art a noble lad," cries the colonel, who was now got on his
legs, "and I am glad the business is so well over; for, though your
sword went quite through, it slanted so that I apprehend there is
little danger of life: however, I think there is enough done to put an
honourable end to the affair, especially as you was so hasty to disarm
me. I bleed a little, but I can walk to the house by the water; and,
if you will send me a chair thither, I shall be obliged to you."
As the colonel refused any assistance (indeed he was very able to walk
without it, though with somewhat less dignity than usual), Booth set
forward to Grosvenor-gate, in order to procure the chair, and soon
after returned with one to his friend; whom having conveyed into it,
he attended himself on foot into Bond-street, where then lived a very
The surgeon having probed the wound, turned towards Booth, who was
apparently the guilty person, and said, with a smile, "Upon my word,
sir, you have performed the business with great dexterity."
"Sir," cries the colonel to the surgeon, "I would not have you imagine
I am afraid to die. I think I know more what belongs to the dignity of
a man; and, I believe, I have shewn it at the head of a line of
battle. Do not impute my concern to that fear, when I ask you whether
there is or is not any danger?"
"Really, colonel," answered the surgeon, who well knew the complexion
of the gentleman then under his hands, "it would appear like
presumption to say that a man who hath been just run through the body
is in no manner of danger. But this I think I may assure you, that I
yet perceive no very bad symptoms, and, unless something worse should
appear, or a fever be the consequence, I hope you may live to be
again, with all your dignity, at the head of a line of battle."
"I am glad to hear that is your opinion," quoth the colonel, "for I am
not desirous of dying, though I am not afraid of it. But, if anything
worse than you apprehend should happen, I desire you will be a witness
of my declaration that this young gentleman is entirely innocent. I
forced him to do what he did. My dear Booth, I am pleased matters are
as they are. You are the first man that ever gained an advantage over
me; but it was very lucky for you that you disarmed me, and I doubt
not but you have the equananimity to think so. If the business,
therefore, hath ended without doing anything to the purpose, it was
Fortune's pleasure, and neither of our faults."
Booth heartily embraced the colonel, and assured him of the great
satisfaction he had received from the surgeon's opinion; and soon
after the two combatants took their leave of each other. The colonel,
after he was drest, went in a chair to his lodgings, and Booth walked
on foot to his; where he luckily arrived without meeting any of Mr.
Murphy's gang; a danger which never once occurred to his imagination
till he was out of it.
The affair he had been about had indeed so entirely occupied his mind,
that it had obliterated every other idea; among the rest, it caused
him so absolutely to forget the time of the day, that, though he had
exceeded the time of dining above two hours, he had not the least
suspicion of being at home later than usual.
_In which the reader will find matter worthy his consideration._
Amelia, having waited above an hour for her husband, concluded, as he
was the most punctual man alive, that he had met with some engagement
abroad, and sat down to her meal with her children; which, as it was
always uncomfortable in the absence of her husband, was very short; so
that, before his return, all the apparatus of dining was entirely
Booth sat some time with his wife, expecting every minute when the
little maid would make her appearance; at last, curiosity, I believe,
rather than appetite, made him ask how long it was to dinner? "To
dinner, my dear!" answered Amelia; "sure you have dined, I hope?"
Booth replied in the negative; upon which his wife started from her
chair, and bestirred herself as nimbly to provide him a repast as the
most industrious hostess in the kingdom doth when some unexpected
guest of extraordinary quality arrives at her house.
The reader hath not, I think, from any passages hitherto recorded in
this history, had much reason to accuse Amelia of a blameable
curiosity; he will not, I hope, conclude that she gave an instance of
any such fault when, upon Booth's having so long overstayed his time,
and so greatly mistaken the hour of the day, and upon some other
circumstances of his behaviour (for he was too honest to be good at
concealing any of his thoughts), she said to him after he had done
eating, "My dear, I am sure something more than ordinary hath happened
to-day, and I beg you will tell me what is."
Booth answered that nothing of any consequence had happened; that he
had been detained by a friend, whom he met accidently, longer than he
expected. In short, he made many shuffling and evasive answers, not
boldly lying out, which, perhaps, would have succeeded, but poorly and
vainly endeavouring to reconcile falsehood with truth; an attempt
which seldom fails to betray the most practised deceiver.
How impossible was it therefore for poor Booth to succeed in an art
for which nature had so entirely disqualified him. His countenance,
indeed, confessed faster than his tongue denied, and the whole of his
behaviour gave Amelia an alarm, and made her suspect something very
bad had happened; and, as her thoughts turned presently on the badness
of their circumstances, she feared some mischief from his creditors
had befallen him; for she was too ignorant of such matters to know
that, if he had fallen into the hands of the Philistines (which is the
name given by the faithful to bailiffs), he would hardly have been
able so soon to recover his liberty. Booth at last perceived her to be
so uneasy, that, as he saw no hopes of contriving any fiction to
satisfy her, he thought himself obliged to tell her the truth, or at
least part of the truth, and confessed that he had had a little
skirmish with Colonel Bath, in which, he said, the colonel had
received a slight wound, not at all dangerous; "and this," says he,
"is all the whole matter." "If it be so," cries Amelia, "I thank
Heaven no worse hath happened; but why, my dear, will you ever
converse with that madman, who can embrace a friend one moment, and
fight with him the next?" "Nay, my dear," answered Booth, "you
yourself must confess, though he be a little too much on the _qui
vive,_ he is a man of great honour and good-nature." "Tell me not,"
replied she, "of such good-nature and honour as would sacrifice a
friend and a whole family to a ridiculous whim. Oh, Heavens!" cried
she, falling upon her knees, "from what misery have I escaped, from
what have these poor babes escaped, through your gracious providence
this day!" Then turning to her husband, she cried, "But are you sure
the monster's wound is no more dangerous than you say? a monster
surely I may call him, who can quarrel with a man that could not, that
I am convinced would not, offend him."
Upon this question, Booth repeated the assurances which the surgeon
had given them, perhaps with a little enlargement, which pretty well
satisfied Amelia; and instead of blaming her husband for what he had
done, she tenderly embraced him, and again returned thanks to Heaven
for his safety.
In the evening Booth insisted on paying a short visit to the colonel,
highly against the inclination of Amelia, who, by many arguments and
entreaties, endeavoured to dissuade her husband from continuing an
acquaintance in which, she said, she should always foresee much danger
for the future. However, she was at last prevailed upon to acquiesce;
and Booth went to the colonel, whose lodgings happened to be in the
verge as well as his own.
He found the colonel in his night-gown, and his great chair, engaged
with another officer at a game of chess. He rose immediately, and,
having heartily embraced Booth, presented him to his friend, saying,
he had the honour to introduce to him as brave and as _fortitudinous_
a man as any in the king's dominions. He then took Booth with him into
the next room, and desired him not to mention a word of what had
happened in the morning; saying, "I am very well satisfied that no
more hath happened; however, as it ended in nothing, I could wish it
might remain a secret." Booth told him he was heartily glad to find
him so well, and promised never to mention it more to any one.
The game at chess being but just begun, and neither of the parties
having gained any considerable advantage, they neither of them
insisted on continuing it; and now the colonel's antagonist took his
leave and left the colonel and Booth together.
As soon as they were alone, the latter earnestly entreated the former
to acquaint him with the real cause of his anger; "for may I perish,"
cries Booth, "if I can even guess what I have ever done to offend
either you, or your brother. Colonel James."
"Look'ee, child," cries the colonel; "I tell you I am for my own part
satisfied; for I am convinced that a man who will fight can never be a
rascal; and, therefore, why should you enquire any more of me at
present? when I see my brother James, I hope to reconcile all matters,
and perhaps no more swords need be drawn on this occasion." But Booth
still persisting in his desire, the colonel, after some hesitation,
with a tremendous oath, cried out, "I do not think myself at liberty
to refuse you after the indignity I offered you; so, since you demand
it of me, I will inform you. My brother told me you had used him
dishonourably, and had divellicated his character behind his back. He
gave me his word, too, that he was well assured of what he said. What
could I have done? though I own to you I did not believe him, and your
behaviour since hath convinced me I was in the right; I must either
have given him the lye, and fought with him, or else I was obliged to
behave as I did, and fight with you. And now, my lad, I leave it to
you to do as you please; but, if you are laid under any necessity to
do yourself further justice, it is your own fault."
"Alas! colonel," answered Booth, "besides the obligations I have to
the colonel, I have really so much love for him, that I think of
nothing less than resentment. All I wish is to have this affair
brought to an eclaircissement, and to satisfy him that he is in an
error; for, though his assertions are cruelly injurious, and I have
never deserved them, yet I am convinced he would not say what he did
not himself think. Some rascal, envious of his friendship for me, hath
belyed me to him; and the only resentment I desire is, to convince him
of his mistake."
At these words the colonel grinned horribly a ghastly smile, or rather
sneer, and answered, "Young gentleman, you may do as you please; but,
by the eternal dignity of man, if any man breathing had taken a
liberty with my character--Here, here--Mr. Booth (shewing his
fingers), here d--n me, should be his nostrils; he should breathe
through my hands, and breathe his last, d--n me."
Booth answered, "I think, colonel, I may appeal to your testimony that
I dare do myself justice; since he who dare draw his sword against you
can hardly be supposed to fear any other person; but I repeat to you
again that I love Colonel James so well, and am so greatly obliged to
him, that it would be almost indifferent to me whether I directed my
sword against his breast or my own."
The colonel's muscles were considerably softened by Booth's last
speech; but he again contracted them into a vast degree of fierceness
before he cried out--"Boy, thou hast reason enough to be vain; for
thou art the first person that ever could proudly say he gained an
advantage over me in combat. I believe, indeed, thou art not afraid of
any man breathing, and, as I know thou hast some obligations to my
brother, I do not discommend thee; for nothing more becomes the
dignity of a man than gratitude. Besides, as I am satisfied my brother
can produce the author of the slander--I say, I am satisfied of that--
d--n me, if any man alive dares assert the contrary; for that would be
to make my brother himself a liar--I will make him produce his author;
and then, my dear boy, your doing yourself proper justice there will
bring you finely out of the whole affair. As soon as my surgeon gives
me leave to go abroad, which, I hope, will be in a few days, I will
bring my brother James to a tavern where you shall meet us; and I will
engage my honour, my whole dignity to you, to make you friends."
The assurance of the colonel gave Booth great pleasure; for few
persons ever loved a friend better than he did James; and as for doing
military justice on the author of that scandalous report which had
incensed his friend against him, not Bath himself was ever more ready,
on such an occasion, than Booth to execute it. He soon after took his
leave, and returned home in high spirits to his Amelia, whom he found
in Mrs. Ellison's apartment, engaged in a party at ombre with that
lady and her right honourable cousin.
His lordship had, it seems, had a second interview with the great man,
and, having obtained further hopes (for I think there was not yet an
absolute promise) of success in Mr. Booth's affairs, his usual good-
nature brought him immediately to acquaint Mr. Booth with it. As he
did not therefore find him at home, and as he met with the two ladies
together, he resolved to stay till his friend's return, which he was
assured would not be long, especially as he was so lucky, he said, to
have no particular engagement that whole evening.
We remarked before that his lordship, at the first interview with
Amelia, had distinguished her by a more particular address from the
other ladies; but that now appeared to be rather owing to his perfect
good-breeding, as she was then to be considered as the mistress of the
house, than from any other preference. His present behaviour made this
still more manifest; for, as he was now in Mrs. Ellison's apartment,
though she was his relation and an old acquaintance, he applied his
conversation rather more to her than to Amelia. His eyes, indeed, were
now and then guilty of the contrary distinction, but this was only by
stealth; for they constantly withdrew the moment they were discovered.
In short, he treated Amelia with the greatest distance, and at the
same time with the most profound and awful respect; his conversation
was so general, so lively, and so obliging, that Amelia, when she
added to his agreeableness the obligations she had to him for his
friendship to Booth, was certainly as much pleased with his lordship
as any virtuous woman can possibly be with any man, besides her own
_Containing various matters._
We have already mentioned the good-humour in which Booth returned
home; and the reader will easily believe it was not a little encreased
by the good-humour in which he found his company. My lord received him
with the utmost marks of friendship and affection, and told him that
his affairs went on as well almost as he himself could desire, and
that he doubted not very soon to wish him joy of a company.
When Booth had made a proper return to all his lordship's unparalleled
goodness, he whispered Amelia that the colonel was entirely out of
danger, and almost as well as himself. This made her satisfaction
complete, threw her into such spirits, and gave such a lustre to her
eyes, that her face, as Horace says, was too dazzling to be looked at;
it was certainly too handsome to be looked at without the highest
His lordship departed about ten o'clock, and left the company in
raptures with him, especially the two ladies, of whom it is difficult
to say which exceeded the other in his commendations. Mrs. Ellison
swore she believed he was the best of all humankind; and Amelia,
without making any exception, declared he was the finest gentleman and
most agreeable man she had ever seen in her life; adding, it was great
pity he should remain single. "That's true, indeed," cries Mrs.
Ellison, "and I have often lamented it; nay, I am astonished at it,
considering the great liking he always shews for our sex, and he may
certainly have the choice of all. The real reason, I believe, is, his
fondness for his sister's children. I declare, madam, if you was to
see his behaviour to them, you would think they were his own. Indeed
he is vastly fond of all manner of children." "Good creature!" cries
Amelia; "if ever he doth me the honour of another visit I am resolved
I will shew him my little things. I think, Mrs. Ellison, as you say my
lord loves children, I may say, without vanity, he will not see many
such." "No, indeed, will he not," answered Mrs. Ellison: "and now I
think on't, madam, I wonder at my own stupidity in never making the
offer before; but since you put it into my head, if you will give me
leave, I'll take master and miss to wait on my lord's nephew and
niece. They are very pretty behaved children; and little master and
miss will be, I dare swear, very happy in their acquaintance; besides,
if my lord himself should see them, I know what will happen; for he is
the most generous of all human beings."
Amelia very readily accepted the favour which Mrs. Ellison offered
her; but Booth exprest some reluctance. "Upon my word, my dear," said
he, with a smile, "this behaviour of ours puts me in mind of the
common conduct of beggars; who, whenever they receive a favour, are
sure to send other objects to the same fountain of charity. Don't we,
my dear, repay our obligations to my lord in the same manner, by
sending our children a begging to him?"
"O beastly!" cries Mrs. Ellison; "how could such a thought enter your
brains? I protest, madam, I begin to grow ashamed of this husband of
yours. How can you have so vulgar a way of thinking? Begging, indeed!
the poor little dear things a begging! If my lord was capable of such
a thought, though he was my own brother instead of my cousin, I should
scorn him too much ever to enter his doors." "O dear madam!" answered
Amelia, "you take Mr. Booth too seriously, when he was only in jest;
and the children shall wait upon you whenever you please."
Though Booth had been a little more in earnest than Amelia had
represented him, and was not, perhaps, quite so much in the wrong as
he was considered by Mrs. Ellison, yet, seeing there were two to one
against him, he wisely thought proper to recede, and let his simile go
off with that air of a jest which his wife had given it.
Mrs. Ellison, however, could not let it pass without paying some
compliments to Amelia's understanding, nor without some obscure
reflexions upon Booth, with whom she was more offended than the matter
required. She was indeed a woman of most profuse generosity, and could
not bear a thought which she deemed vulgar or sneaking. She afterwards
launched forth the most profuse encomiums of his lordship's
liberality, and concluded the evening with some instances which he had
given of that virtue which, if not the noblest, is, perhaps, one of
the most useful to society with which great and rich men can be
The next morning early, serjeant Atkinson came to wait on lieutenant
Booth, and desired to speak with his honour in private. Upon which the
lieutenant and serjeant took a walk together in the Park. Booth
expected every minute when the serjeant would open his mouth; under
which expectation he continued till he came to the end of the mall,
and so he might have continued till he came to the end of the world;
for, though several words stood at the end of the serjeant's lips,
there they were likely to remain for ever. He was, indeed, in the
condition of a miser, whom a charitable impulse hath impelled to draw
a few pence to the edge of his pocket, where they are altogether as
secure as if they were in the bottom; for, as the one hath not the
heart to part with a farthing, so neither had the other the heart to
speak a word.
Booth at length, wondering that the serjeant did not speak, asked him,
What his business was? when the latter with a stammering voice began
the following apology: "I hope, sir, your honour will not be angry,
nor take anything amiss of me. I do assure you, it was not of my
seeking, nay, I dare not proceed in the matter without first asking
your leave. Indeed, if I had taken any liberties from the goodness you
have been pleased to shew me, I should look upon myself as one of the
most worthless and despicable of wretches; but nothing is farther from
my thoughts. I know the distance which is between us; and, because
your honour hath been so kind and good as to treat me with more
familiarity than any other officer ever did, if I had been base enough
to take any freedoms, or to encroach upon your honour's goodness, I
should deserve to be whipt through the regiment. I hope, therefore,
sir, you will not suspect me of any such attempt."
"What can all this mean, Atkinson?" cries Booth; "what mighty matter
would you introduce with all this previous apology?"
"I am almost ashamed and afraid to mention it," answered the serjeant;
"and yet I am sure your honour will believe what I have said, and not
think anything owing to my own presumption; and, at the same time, I
have no reason to think you would do anything to spoil my fortune in
an honest way, when it is dropt into my lap without my own seeking.
For may I perish if it is not all the lady's own goodness, and I hope
in Heaven, with your honour's leave, I shall live to make her amends
for it." In a word, that we may not detain the reader's curiosity
quite so long as he did Booth's, he acquainted that gentleman that he
had had an offer of marriage from a lady of his acquaintance, to whose
company he had introduced him, and desired his permission to accept of
Booth must have been very dull indeed if, after what the serjeant had
said, and after what he had heard Mrs. Ellison say, he had wanted any
information concerning the lady. He answered him briskly and
chearfully, that he had his free consent to marry any woman whatever;
"and the greater and richer she is," added he, "the more I shall be
pleased with the match. I don't enquire who the lady is," said he,
smiling, "but I hope she will make as good a wife as, I am convinced,
her husband will deserve."
"Your honour hath been always too good to me," cries Atkinson; "but
this I promise you, I will do all in my power to merit the kindness
she is pleased to shew me. I will be bold to say she will marry an
honest man, though he is but a poor one; and she shall never want
anything which I can give her or do for her, while my name is Joseph
"And so her name is a secret, Joe, is it?" cries Booth.
"Why, sir," answered the serjeant, "I hope your honour will not insist
upon knowing that, as I think it would be dishonourable in me to
"Not at all," replied Booth; "I am the farthest in the world from any
such desire. I know thee better than to imagine thou wouldst disclose
the name of a fair lady." Booth then shook Atkinson heartily by the
hand, and assured him earnestly of the joy he had in his good fortune;
for which the good serjeant failed not of making all proper
acknowledgments. After which they parted, and Booth returned home.
As Mrs. Ellison opened the door, Booth hastily rushed by; for he had
the utmost difficulty to prevent laughing in her face. He ran directly
up-stairs, and, throwing himself into a chair, discharged such a fit
of laughter as greatly surprized, and at first almost frightened, his
Amelia, it will be supposed, presently enquired into the cause of this
phenomenon, with which Booth, as soon as he was able (for that was not
within a few minutes), acquainted her. The news did not affect her in
the same manner it had affected her husband. On the contrary, she
cried, "I protest I cannot guess what makes you see it in so
ridiculous a light. I really think Mrs. Ellison hath chosen very well.
I am convinced Joe will make her one of the best of husbands; and, in
my opinion, that is the greatest blessing a woman can be possessed
However, when Mrs. Ellison came into her room a little while
afterwards to fetch the children, Amelia became of a more risible
disposition, especially when the former, turning to Booth, who was
then present, said, "So, captain, my jantee-serjeant was very early
here this morning. I scolded my maid heartily for letting him wait so
long in the entry like a lacquais, when she might have shewn him into
my inner apartment." At which words Booth burst out into a very loud
laugh; and Amelia herself could no more prevent laughing than she
"Heyday!" cries Mrs. Ellison; "what have I said to cause all this
mirth?" and at the same time blushed, and looked very silly, as is
always the case with persons who suspect themselves to be the objects
of laughter, without absolutely taking what it is which makes them
Booth still continued laughing; but Amelia, composing her muscles,
said, "I ask your pardon, dear Mrs. Ellison; but Mr. Booth hath been
in a strange giggling humour all this morning; and I really think it
"I ask your pardon, too, madam," cries Booth, "but one is sometimes
"Nay, but seriously," said she, "what is the matter?--something I said
about the serjeant, I believe; but you may laugh as much as you
please; I am not ashamed of owning I think him one of the prettiest
fellows I ever saw in my life; and, I own, I scolded my maid at
suffering him to wait in my entry; and where is the mighty ridiculous
"None at all," answered Booth; "and I hope the next time he will be
ushered into your inner apartment."
"Why should he not, sir?" replied she, "for, wherever he is ushered, I
am convinced he will behave himself as a gentleman should."
Here Amelia put an end to the discourse, or it might have proceeded to
very great lengths; for Booth was of a waggish inclination, and Mrs.
Ellison was not a lady of the nicest delicacy.
_The heroic behaviour of Colonel Bath._
Booth went this morning to pay a second visit to the colonel, where he
found Colonel James. Both the colonel and the lieutenant appeared a
little shocked at their first meeting, but matters were soon cleared
up; for the former presently advanced to the latter, shook him
heartily by the hand, and said, "Mr. Booth, I am ashamed to see you;
for I have injured you, and I heartily ask your pardon. I am now
perfectly convinced that what I hinted to my brother, and which I find
had like to have produced such fatal consequences, was entirely
groundless. If you will be contented with my asking your pardon, and
spare me the disagreeable remembrance of what led me into my error, I
shall esteem it as the highest obligation."
Booth answered, "As to what regards yourself, my dear colonel, I am
abundantly satisfied; but, as I am convinced some rascal hath been my
enemy with you in the cruellest manner, I hope you will not deny me
the opportunity of kicking him through the world."
"By all the dignity of man," cries Colonel Bath, "the boy speaks with
spirit, and his request is reasonable."
Colonel James hesitated a moment, and then whispered Booth that he
would give him all the satisfaction imaginable concerning the whole
affair when they were alone together; upon which, Booth addressing
himself to Colonel Bath, the discourse turned on other matters during
the remainder of the visit, which was but short, and then both went
away together, leaving Colonel Bath as well as it was possible to
expect, more to the satisfaction of Booth than of Colonel James, who
would not have been displeased if his wound had been more dangerous;
for he was grown somewhat weary of a disposition that he rather called
captious than heroic, and which, as he every day more and more hated
his wife, he apprehended might some time or other give him some
trouble; for Bath was the most affectionate of brothers, and had often
swore, in the presence of James, that he would eat any man alive who
should use his sister ill.
Colonel Bath was well satisfied that his brother and the lieutenant
were gone out with a design of tilting, from which he offered not a
syllable to dissuade them, as he was convinced it was right, and that
Booth could not in honour take, nor the colonel give, any less
satisfaction. When they had been gone therefore about half an hour, he
rang his bell to enquire if there was any news of his brother; a
question which he repeated every ten minutes for the space of two
hours, when, having heard nothing of him, he began to conclude that
both were killed on the spot.
While he was in this state of anxiety his sister came to see him; for,
notwithstanding his desire of keeping it a secret, the duel had blazed
all over the town. After receiving some kind congratulations on his
safety, and some unkind hints concerning the warmth of his temper, the
colonel asked her when she had seen her husband? she answered not that
morning. He then communicated to her his suspicion, told her he was
convinced his brother had drawn his sword that day, and that, as
neither of them had heard anything from him, he began to apprehend the
worst that could happen.
Neither Miss Bellamy nor Mrs. Gibber were ever in a greater
consternation on the stage than now appeared in the countenance of
Mrs. James. "Good Heavens! brother," cries she; "what do you tell me?
you have frightened me to death. Let your man get me a glass of water
immediately, if you have not a mind to see me die before your face.
When, where, how was this quarrel? why did you not prevent it if you
knew of it? is it not enough to be every day tormenting me with
hazarding your own life, but must you bring the life of one who you
know must be, and ought to be, so much the dearest of all to me, into
danger? take your sword, brother, take your sword, and plunge it into
my bosom; it would be kinder of you than to fill it with such dreads
and terrors." Here she swallowed the glass of water, and then threw
herself back in her chair, as if she had intended to faint away.
Perhaps, if she had so, the colonel would have lent her no assistance,
for she had hurt him more than by ten thousand stabs. He sat erect in
his chair, with his eyebrows knit, his forehead wrinkled, his eyes
flashing fire, his teeth grating against each other, and breathing
horrour all round him. In this posture he sat for some time silent,
casting disdainful looks at his sister. At last his voice found its
way through a passion which had almost choaked him, and he cried out,
"Sister, what have I done to deserve the opinion you express of me?
which of my actions hath made you conclude that I am a rascal and a
coward? look at that poor sword, which never woman yet saw but in its
sheath; what hath that done to merit your desire that it should be
contaminated with the blood of a woman?"
"Alas! brother," cried she, "I know not what you say; you are
desirous, I believe, to terrify me out of the little senses I have
left. What can I have said, in the agonies of grief into which you
threw me, to deserve this passion?"
"What have you said?" answered the colonel: "you have said that which,
if a man had spoken, nay, d--n me, if he had but hinted that he durst
even think, I would have made him eat my sword; by all the dignity of
man, I would have crumbled his soul into powder. But I consider that
the words were spoken by a woman, and I am calm again. Consider, my
dear, that you are my sister, and behave yourself with more spirit. I
have only mentioned to you my surmise. It may not have happened as I
suspect; but, let what will have happened, you will have the comfort
that your husband hath behaved himself with becoming dignity, and lies
in the bed of honour."
"Talk not to me of such comfort," replied the lady; "it is a loss I
cannot survive. But why do I sit here lamenting myself? I will go this
instant and know the worst of my fate, if my trembling limbs will
carry me to my coach. Good morrow, dear brother; whatever becomes of
me, I am glad to find you out of danger." The colonel paid her his
proper compliments, and she then left the room, but returned instantly
back, saying, "Brother, I must beg the favour of you to let your
footman step to my mantua-maker; I am sure it is a miracle, in my
present distracted condition, how it came into my head." The footman
was presently summoned, and Mrs. James delivered him his message,
which was to countermand the orders which she had given that very
morning to make her up a new suit of brocade. "Heaven knows," says
she, "now when I can wear brocade, or whether ever I shall wear it."
And now, having repeated her message with great exactness, lest there
should be any mistake, she again lamented her wretched situation, and
then departed, leaving the colonel in full expectation of hearing
speedy news of the fatal issue of the battle.
But, though the reader should entertain the same curiosity, we must be
excused from satisfying it till we have first accounted for an
incident which we have related in this very chapter, and which, we
think, deserves some solution. The critic, I am convinced, already is
apprized that I mean the friendly behaviour of James to Booth, which,
from what we had before recorded, seemed so little to be expected.
It must be remembered that the anger which the former of these
gentlemen had conceived against the latter arose entirely from the
false account given by Miss Matthews of Booth, whom that lady had
accused to Colonel James of having as basely as wickedly traduced his
Now, of all the ministers of vengeance, there are none with whom the
devil deals so treacherously as with those whom he employs in
executing the mischievous purposes of an angry mistress; for no sooner
is revenge executed on an offending lover that it is sure to be
repented; and all the anger which before raged against the beloved
object, returns with double fury on the head of his assassin.
Miss Matthews, therefore, no, sooner heard that Booth was killed (for
so was the report at first, and by a colonel of the army) than she
immediately concluded it to be James. She was extremely shocked with
the news, and her heart instantly began to relent. All the reasons on
which she had founded her love recurred, in the strongest and
liveliest colours, to her mind, and all the causes of her hatred sunk
down and disappeared; or, if the least remembrance of anything which
had disobliged her remained, her heart became his zealous advocate,
and soon satisfied her that her own fates were more to be blamed than
he, and that, without being a villain, he could have acted no
otherwise than he had done.
In this temper of mind she looked on herself as the murderer of an
innocent man, and, what to her was much worse, of the man she had
loved, and still did love, with all the violence imaginable. She
looked on James as the tool with which she had done this murder; and,
as it is usual for people who have rashly or inadvertently made any
animate or inanimate thing the instrument of mischief to hate the
innocent means by which the mischief was effected (for this is a
subtle method which the mind invents to excuse ourselves, the last
objects on whom we would willingly wreak our vengeance), so Miss
Matthews now hated and cursed James as the efficient cause of that act
which she herself had contrived and laboured to carry into execution.
She sat down therefore in a furious agitation, little short of
madness, and wrote the following letter:
"I Hope this will find you in the hands of justice, for the murder of
one of the best friends that ever man was blest with. In one sense,
indeed, he may seem to have deserved his fate, by chusing a fool for a
friend; for who but a fool would have believed what the anger and rage
of an injured woman suggested; a story so improbable, that I could
scarce be thought in earnest when I mentioned it?
"Know, then, cruel wretch, that poor Booth loved you of all men
breathing, and was, I believe, in your commendation guilty of as much
falsehood as I was in what I told you concerning him.
"If this knowledge makes you miserable, it is no more than you have
made the unhappy
_Being the last chapter of the fifth book._
We shall now return to Colonel James and Mr. Booth, who walked
together from Colonel Bath's lodging with much more peaceable
intention than that gentleman had conjectured, who dreamt of nothing
but swords and guns and implements of wars.
The Birdcage-walk in the Park was the scene appointed by James for
unburthening his mind.--Thither they came, and there James acquainted
Booth with all that which the reader knows already, and gave him the
letter which we have inserted at the end of the last chapter.
Booth exprest great astonishment at this relation, not without venting
some detestation of the wickedness of Miss Matthews; upon which James
took him up, saying, he ought not to speak with such abhorrence of
faults which love for him had occasioned.
"Can you mention love, my dear colonel," cried Booth, "and such a
woman in the same breath?"
"Yes, faith! can I," says James; "for the devil take me if I know a
more lovely woman in the world." Here he began to describe her whole
person; but, as we cannot insert all the description, so we shall omit
it all; and concluded with saying, "Curse me if I don't think her the
finest creature in the universe. I would give half my estate, Booth,
she loved me as well as she doth you. Though, on second consideration,
I believe I should repent that bargain; for then, very possibly, I
should not care a farthing for her."
"You will pardon me, dear colonel," answered Booth; "but to me there
appears somewhat very singular in your way of thinking. Beauty is
indeed the object of liking, great qualities of admiration, good ones
of esteem; but the devil take me if I think anything but love to be
the object of love."
"Is there not something too selfish," replied James, "in that opinion?
but, without considering it in that light, is it not of all things the
most insipid? all oil! all sugar! zounds! it is enough to cloy the
sharp-set appetite of a parson. Acids surely are the most likely to
"I do not love reasoning in allegories," cries Booth; "but with regard
to love, I declare I never found anything cloying in it. I have lived
almost alone with my wife near three years together, was never tired
with her company, nor ever wished for any other; and I am sure I never
tasted any of the acid you mention to quicken my appetite."
"This is all very extraordinary and romantic to me," answered the
colonel. "If I was to be shut up three years with the same woman,
which Heaven forbid! nothing, I think, could keep me alive but a
temper as violent as that of Miss Matthews. As to love, it would make
me sick to death in the twentieth part of that time. If I was so
condemned, let me see, what would I wish the woman to be? I think no
one virtue would be sufficient. With the spirit of a tigress I would
have her be a prude, a scold, a scholar, a critic, a wit, a
politician, and a Jacobite; and then, perhaps, eternal opposition
would keep up our spirits; and, wishing one another daily at the
devil, we should make a shift to drag on a damnable state of life,
without much spleen or vapours."
"And so you do not intend," cries Booth, "to break with this woman?"
"Not more than I have already, if I can help it," answered the
"And you will be reconciled to her?" said Booth.
"Yes, faith! will I, if I can," answered the colonel; "I hope you have
"None, my dear friend," said Booth, "unless on your account."
"I do believe you," said the colonel: "and yet, let me tell you, you
are a very extraordinary man, not to desire me to quit her on your own
account. Upon my soul, I begin to pity the woman, who hath placed her
affection, perhaps, on the only man in England of your age who would
not return it. But for my part, I promise you, I like her beyond all
other women; and, whilst that is the case, my boy, if her mind was as
full of iniquity as Pandora's box was of diseases, I'd hug her close
in my arms, and only take as much care as possible to keep the lid
down for fear of mischief. But come, dear Booth," said he, "let us
consider your affairs; for I am ashamed of having neglected them so
long; and the only anger I have against this wench is, that she was
the occasion of it."
Booth then acquainted the colonel with the promises he had received
from the noble lord, upon which James shook him by the hand, and
heartily wished him joy, crying, "I do assure you, if you have his
interest, you will need no other; I did not know you was acquainted
To which Mr. Booth answered, "That he was but a new acquaintance, and
that he was recommended to him by a lady."
"A lady!" cries the colonel; "well, I don't ask her name. You are a
happy man, Booth, amongst the women; and, I assure you, you could have
no stronger recommendation. The peer loves the ladies, I believe, as
well as ever Mark Antony did; and it is not his fault if he hath not
spent as much upon them. If he once fixes his eye upon a woman, he
will stick at nothing to get her."
"Ay, indeed!" cries Booth. "Is that his character?"
"Ay, faith," answered the colonel, "and the character of most men
besides him. Few of them, I mean, will stick at anything beside their
money. Jusque a la Bourse is sometimes the boundary of love as well as
friendship. And, indeed, I never knew any other man part with his
money so very freely on these occasions. You see, dear Booth, the
confidence I have in your honour."
"I hope, indeed, you have," cries Booth, "but I don't see what
instance you now give me of that confidence."
"Have not I shewn you," answered James, "where you may carry your
goods to market? I can assure you, my friend, that is a secret I would
not impart to every man in your situation, and all circumstances
"I am very sorry, sir," cries Booth very gravely, and turning as pale
as death, "you should entertain a thought of this kind; a thought
which hath almost frozen up my blood. I am unwilling to believe there
are such villains in the world; but there is none of them whom I
should detest half so much as myself, if my own mind had ever
suggested to me a hint of that kind. I have tasted of some distresses
of life, and I know not to what greater I may be driven, but my
honour, I thank Heaven, is in my own power, and I can boldly say to
Fortune she shall not rob me of it."
"Have I not exprest that confidence, my dear Booth?" answered the
colonel. "And what you say now well justifies my opinion; for I do
agree with you that, considering all things, it would be the highest
instance of dishonour."
"Dishonour, indeed!" returned Booth. "What! to prostitute my wife! Can
I think there is such a wretch breathing?"
"I don't know that," said the colonel, "but I am sure it was very far
from my intention to insinuate the least hint of any such matter to
you. Nor can I imagine how you yourself could conceive such a thought.
The goods I meant were no other than the charming person of Miss
Matthews, for whom I am convinced my lord would bid a swinging price
Booth's countenance greatly cleared up at this declaration, and he
answered with a smile, that he hoped he need not give the colonel any
assurances on that head. However, though he was satisfied with regard
to the colonel's suspicions, yet some chimeras now arose in his brain
which gave him no very agreeable sensations. What these were, the
sagacious reader may probably suspect; but, if he should not, we may
perhaps have occasion to open them in the sequel. Here we will put an
end to this dialogue, and to the fifth book of this history.
_Panegyrics on beauty, with other grave matters._
The colonel and Booth walked together to the latter's lodging, for as
it was not that day in the week in which all parts of the town are
indifferent, Booth could not wait on the colonel.
When they arrived in Spring-garden, Booth, to his great surprize,
found no one at home but the maid. In truth, Amelia had accompanied
Mrs. Ellison and her children to his lordship's; for, as her little
girl showed a great unwillingness to go without her, the fond mother
was easily persuaded to make one of the company.
Booth had scarce ushered the colonel up to his apartment when a
servant from Mrs. James knocked hastily at the door. The lady, not
meeting with her husband at her return home, began to despair of him,
and performed everything which was decent on the occasion. An
apothecary was presently called with hartshorn and sal volatile, a
doctor was sent for, and messengers were despatched every way; amongst
the rest, one was sent to enquire at the lodgings of his supposed
The servant hearing that his master was alive and well above-stairs,
ran up eagerly to acquaint him with the dreadful situation in which he
left his miserable lady at home, and likewise with the occasion of all
her distress, saying, that his lady had been at her brother's, and had
there heard that his honour was killed in a duel by Captain Booth.
The colonel smiled at this account, and bid the servant make haste
back to contradict it. And then turning to Booth, he said, "Was there
ever such another fellow as this brother of mine? I thought indeed,
his behaviour was somewhat odd at the time. I suppose he overheard me
whisper that I would give you satisfaction, and thence concluded we
went together with a design of tilting. D--n the fellow, I begin to
grow heartily sick of him, and wish I could get well rid of him
without cutting his throat, which I sometimes apprehend he will insist
on my doing, as a return for my getting him made a lieutenant-
Whilst these two gentlemen were commenting on the character of the
third, Amelia and her company returned, and all presently came up-
stairs, not only the children, but the two ladies, laden with trinkets
as if they had been come from a fair. Amelia, who had been highly
delighted all the morning with the excessive pleasure which her
children enjoyed, when she saw Colonel James with her husband, and
perceived the most manifest marks of that reconciliation which she
knew had been so long and so earnestly wished by Booth, became so
transported with joy, that her happiness was scarce capable of
addition. Exercise had painted her face with vermilion; and the
highest good-humour had so sweetened every feature, and a vast flow of
spirits had so lightened up her bright eyes, that she was all a blaze
of beauty. She seemed, indeed, as Milton sublimely describes Eve,
With what all Earth or Heaven could bestow
To make her amiable.
Grace was in all her steps, Heaven in her eye,
In every gesture, dignity and love.
Or, as Waller sweetly, though less sublimely sings:--
Sweetness, truth, and every grace
Which time and use are wont to teach,
The eye may in a moment reach,
And read distinctly in her face.
Or, to mention one poet more, and him of all the sweetest, she seemed
to be the very person of whom Suckling wrote the following lines,
where, speaking of Cupid, he says,
All his lovely looks, his pleasing fires,
All his sweet motions, all his taking smiles;
All that awakes, all that inflames desires,
All that sweetly commands, all that beguiles,
He does into one pair of eyes convey,
And there begs leave that he himself may stay.
Such was Amelia at this time when she entered the room; and, having
paid her respects to the colonel, she went up to her husband, and
cried, "O, my dear! never were any creatures so happy as your little
things have been this whole morning; and all owing to my lord's
goodness; sure never was anything so good-natured and so generous!"
She then made the children produce their presents, the value of which
amounted to a pretty large sum; for there was a gold watch, amongst
the trinkets, that cost above twenty guineas.
Instead of discovering so much satisfaction on this occasion as Amelia
expected, Booth very gravely answered, "And pray, my dear, how are we
to repay all these obligations to his lordship?" "How can you ask so
strange a question?" cries Mrs. Ellison: "how little do you know of
the soul of generosity (for sure my cousin deserves that name) when
you call a few little trinkets given to children an obligation!"
"Indeed, my dear," cries Amelia, "I would have stopped his hand if it
had been possible; nay, I was forced at last absolutely to refuse, or
I believe he would have laid a hundred pound out on the children; for
I never saw any one so fond of children, which convinces me he is one
of the best of men; but I ask your pardon, colonel, "said she, turning
to him; "I should not entertain you with these subjects; yet I know
you have goodness enough to excuse the folly of a mother."
The colonel made a very low assenting bow, and soon after they all sat
down to a small repast; for the colonel had promised Booth to dine
with him when they first came home together, and what he had since
heard from his own house gave him still less inclination than ever to
But, besides both these, there was a third and stronger inducement to
him to pass the day with his friend, and this was the desire of
passing it with his friend's wife. When the colonel had first seen
Amelia in France, she was but just recovered from a consumptive habit,
and looked pale and thin; besides, his engagements with Miss Bath at
that time took total possession of him, and guarded his heart from the
impressions of another woman; and, when he had dined with her in town,
the vexations through which she had lately passed had somewhat
deadened her beauty; besides, he was then engaged, as we have seen, in
a very warm pursuit of a new mistress, but now he had no such
impediment; for, though the reader hath just before seen his warm
declarations of a passion for Miss Matthews, yet it may be remembered
that he had been in possession of her for above a fortnight; and one
of the happy properties of this kind of passion is, that it can with
equal violence love half a dozen or half a score different objects at
one and the same time.
But indeed such were the charms now displayed by Amelia, of which we
endeavoured above to draw some faint resemblance, that perhaps no
other beauty could have secured him from their influence; and here, to
confess a truth in his favour, however the grave or rather the
hypocritical part of mankind may censure it, I am firmly persuaded
that to withdraw admiration from exquisite beauty, or to feel no
delight in gazing at it, is as impossible as to feel no warmth from
the most scorching rays of the sun. To run away is all that is in our
power; and in the former case, if it must be allowed we have the power
of running away, it must be allowed also that it requires the
strongest resolution to execute it; for when, as Dryden says,
All paradise is open'd in a face,
how natural is the desire of going thither! and how difficult to quit
the lovely prospect!
And yet, however difficult this may be, my young readers, it is
absolutely necessary, and that immediately too: flatter not yourselves
that fire will not scorch as well as warm, and the longer we stay
within its reach the more we shall burn. The admiration of a beautiful
woman, though the wife of our dearest friend, may at first perhaps be
innocent, but let us not flatter ourselves it will always remain so;
desire is sure to succeed; and wishes, hopes, designs, with a long
train of mischiefs, tread close at our heels. In affairs of this kind
we may most properly apply the well-known remark of _nemo repente
fuit turpissimus._ It fares, indeed, with us on this occasion as
with the unwary traveller in some parts of Arabia the desert, whom the
treacherous sands imperceptibly betray till he is overwhelmed and
lost. In both cases the only safety is by withdrawing our feet the
very first moment we perceive them sliding.
This digression may appear impertinent to some readers; we could not,
however, avoid the opportunity of offering the above hints; since of
all passions there is none against which we should so strongly fortify
ourselves as this, which is generally called love; for no other lays
before us, especially in the tumultuous days of youth, such sweet,
such strong and almost irresistible temptations; none hath produced in
private life such fatal and lamentable tragedies; and what is worst of
all, there is none to whose poison and infatuation the best of minds
are so liable. Ambition scarce ever produces any evil but when it
reigns in cruel and savage bosoms; and avarice seldom flourishes at
all but in the basest and poorest soil. Love, on the contrary, sprouts
usually up in the richest and noblest minds; but there, unless nicely
watched, pruned, and cultivated, and carefully kept clear of those
vicious weeds which are too apt to surround it, it branches forth into
wildness and disorder, produces nothing desirable, but choaks up and
kills whatever is good and noble in the mind where it so abounds. In
short, to drop the allegory, not only tenderness and good nature, but
bravery, generosity, and every virtue are often made the instruments
of effecting the most atrocious purposes of this all-subduing tyrant.
_Which will not appear, we presume, unnatural to all married
If the table of poor Booth afforded but an indifferent repast to the
colonel's hunger, here was most excellent entertainment of a much
higher kind. The colonel began now to wonder within himself at his not
having before discovered such incomparable beauty and excellence. This
wonder was indeed so natural that, lest it should arise likewise in
the reader, we thought proper to give the solution of it in the
During the first two hours the colonel scarce ever had his eyes off
from Amelia; for he was taken by surprize, and his heart was gone
before he suspected himself to be in any danger. His mind, however, no
sooner suggested a certain secret to him than it suggested some degree
of prudence to him at the same time; and the knowledge that he had
thoughts to conceal, and the care of concealing them, had birth at one
and the same instant. During the residue of the day, therefore, he
grew more circumspect, and contented himself with now and then
stealing a look by chance, especially as the more than ordinary
gravity of Booth made him fear that his former behaviour had betrayed
to Booth's observation the great and sudden liking he had conceived
for his wife, even before he had observed it in himself.
Amelia continued the whole day in the highest spirits and highest good
humour imaginable, never once remarking that appearance of discontent
in her husband of which the colonel had taken notice; so much more
quick-sighted, as we have somewhere else hinted, is guilt than
innocence. Whether Booth had in reality made any such observations on
the colonel's behaviour as he had suspected, we will not undertake to
determine; yet so far may be material to say, as we can with
sufficient certainty, that the change in Booth's behaviour that day,
from what was usual with him, was remarkable enough. None of his
former vivacity appeared in his conversation; and his countenance was
altered from being the picture of sweetness and good humour, not
indeed to sourness or moroseness, but to gravity and melancholy.
Though the colonel's suspicion had the effect which we have mentioned
on his behaviour, yet it could not persuade him to depart. In short,
he sat in his chair as if confined to it by enchantment, stealing
looks now and then, and humouring his growing passion, without having
command enough over his limbs to carry him out of the room, till
decency at last forced him to put an end to his preposterous visit.
When the husband and wife were left alone together, the latter resumed
the subject of her children, and gave Booth a particular narrative of
all that had passed at his lordship's, which he, though something had
certainly disconcerted him, affected to receive with all the pleasure
he could; and this affectation, however aukwardly he acted his part,
passed very well on Amelia; for she could not well conceive a
displeasure of which she had not the least hint of any cause, and
indeed at a time when, from his reconciliation with James, she
imagined her husband to be entirely and perfectly happy.
The greatest part of that night Booth past awake; and, if during the
residue he might be said to sleep, he could scarce be said to enjoy
repose; his eyes were no sooner closed, that he was pursued and
haunted by the most frightful and terrifying dreams, which threw him
into so restless a condition, that he soon disturbed his Amelia, and
greatly alarmed her with apprehensions that he had been seized by some
dreadful disease, though he had not the least symptoms of a fever by
any extraordinary heat, or any other indication, but was rather colder
As Booth assured his wife that he was very well, but found no
inclination to sleep, she likewise bid adieu to her slumbers, and
attempted to entertain him with her conversation. Upon which his
lordship occurred as the first topic; and she repeated to him all the
stories which she had heard from Mrs. Ellison, of the peer's goodness
to his sister and his nephew and niece. "It is impossible, my dear,"
says she, "to describe their fondness for their uncle, which is to me
an incontestible sign of a parent's goodness." In this manner she ran
on for several minutes, concluding at last, that it was pity so very
few had such generous minds joined to immense fortunes.
Booth, instead of making a direct answer to what Amelia had said,
cried coldly, "But do you think, my dear, it was right to accept all
those expensive toys which the children brought home? And I ask you
again, what return we are to make for these obligations?"
"Indeed, my dear," cries Amelia, "you see this matter in too serious a
light. Though I am the last person in the world who would lessen his
lordship's goodness (indeed I shall always think we are both
infinitely obliged to him), yet sure you must allow the expense to be
a mere trifle to such a vast fortune. As for return, his own
benevolence, in the satisfaction it receives, more than repays itself,
and I am convinced he expects no other."
"Very well, my dear," cries Booth, "you shall have it your way; I must
confess I never yet found any reason to blame your discernment; and
perhaps I have been in the wrong to give myself so much uneasiness on
"Uneasiness, child!" said Amelia eagerly; "Good Heavens! hath this
made you uneasy?"
"I do own it hath," answered Booth, "and it hath been the only cause
of breaking my repose."
"Why then I wish," cries Amelia, "all the things had been at the devil
before ever the children had seen them; and, whatever I may think
myself, I promise you they shall never more accept the value of a
farthing:--if upon this occasion I have been the cause of your
uneasiness, you will do me the justice to believe that I was totally
At those words Booth caught her in his arms, and with the tenderest
embrace, emphatically repeating the word innocent, cried, "Heaven
forbid I should think otherwise! Oh, thou art the best of creatures
that ever blessed a man!"
"Well, but," said she, smiling, "do confess, my dear, the truth; I
promise you I won't blame you nor disesteem you for it; but is not
pride really at the bottom of this fear of an obligation?"
"Perhaps it may," answered he; "or, if you will, you may call it fear.
I own I am afraid of obligations, as the worst kind of debts; for I
have generally observed those who confer them expect to be repaid ten
Here ended all that is material of their discourse; and a little time
afterwards, they both fell fast asleep in one another's arms; from
which time Booth had no more restlessness, nor any further
perturbation in his dreams.
Their repose, however, had been so much disturbed in the former part
of the night, that, as it was very late before they enjoyed that sweet
sleep I have just mentioned, they lay abed the next day till noon,
when they both rose with the utmost chearfulness; and, while Amelia
bestirred herself in the affairs of her family, Booth went to visit
the wounded colonel.
He found that gentleman still proceeding very fast in his recovery,
with which he was more pleased than he had reason to be with his
reception; for the colonel received him very coldly indeed, and, when
Booth told him he had received perfect satisfaction from his brother,
Bath erected his head and answered with a sneer, "Very well, sir, if
you think these matters can be so made up, d--n me if it is any
business of mine. My dignity hath not been injured."
"No one, I believe," cries Booth, "dare injure it."
"You believe so!" said the colonel: "I think, sir, you might be
assured of it; but this, at least, you may be assured of, that if any
man did, I would tumble him down the precipice of hell, d--n me, that
you may be assured of."
As Booth found the colonel in this disposition, he had no great
inclination to lengthen out his visit, nor did the colonel himself
seem to desire it: so he soon returned back to his Amelia, whom he
found performing the office of a cook, with as much pleasure as a fine
lady generally enjoys in dressing herself out for a ball.
_In which the history looks a little backwards._
Before we proceed farther in our history we shall recount a short
scene to our reader which passed between Amelia and Mrs. Ellison
whilst Booth was on his visit to Colonel Bath. We have already
observed that Amelia had conceived an extraordinary affection for Mrs.
Bennet, which had still encreased every time she saw her; she thought
she discovered something wonderfully good and gentle in her
countenance and disposition, and was very desirous of knowing her
She had a very short interview with that lady this morning in Mrs.
Ellison's apartment. As soon, therefore, as Mrs. Bennet was gone,
Amelia acquainted Mrs. Ellison with the good opinion she had conceived
of her friend, and likewise with her curiosity to know her story: "For
there must be something uncommonly good," said she, "in one who can so
truly mourn for a husband above three years after his death."
"O!" cries Mrs. Ellison, "to be sure the world must allow her to have
been one of the best of wives. And, indeed, upon the whole, she is a
good sort of woman; and what I like her the best for is a strong
resemblance that she bears to yourself in the form of her person, and
still more in her voice. But for my own part, I know nothing
remarkable in her fortune, unless what I have told you, that she was
the daughter of a clergyman, had little or no fortune, and married a
poor parson for love, who left her in the utmost distress. If you
please, I will shew you a letter which she writ to me at that time,
though I insist upon your promise never to mention it to her; indeed,
you will be the first person I ever shewed it to." She then opened her
scrutore, and, taking out the letter, delivered it to Amelia, saying,
"There, madam, is, I believe, as fine a picture of distress as can
well be drawn."
"As I have no other friend on earth but yourself, I hope you will
pardon my writing to you at this season; though I do not know that you
can relieve my distresses, or, if you can, have I any pretence to
expect that you should. My poor dear, O Heavens--my---lies dead in the
house; and, after I had procured sufficient to bury him, a set of
ruffians have entered my house, seized all I have, have seized his
dear, dear corpse, and threaten to deny it burial. For Heaven's sake,
send me, at least, some advice; little Tommy stands now by me crying
for bread, which I have not to give him. I can say no more than that I
Your most distressed humble servant,
Amelia read the letter over twice, and then returning it with tears in
her eyes, asked how the poor creature could possibly get through such
"You may depend upon it, madam," said Mrs. Ellison, "the moment I read
this account I posted away immediately to the lady. As to the seizing
the body, that I found was a mere bugbear; but all the rest was
literally true. I sent immediately for the same gentleman that I
recommended to Mr. Booth, left the care of burying the corpse to him,
and brought my friend and her little boy immediately away to my own
house, where she remained some months in the most miserable condition.
I then prevailed with her to retire into the country, and procured her
a lodging with a friend at St Edmundsbury, the air and gaiety of which
place by degrees recovered her; and she returned in about a twelve-
month to town, as well, I think, as she is at present."
"I am almost afraid to ask," cries Amelia, "and yet I long methinks to
know what is become of the poor little boy."
"He hath been dead," said Mrs. Ellison, "a little more than half a
year; and the mother lamented him at first almost as much as she did
her husband, but I found it indeed rather an easier matter to comfort
her, though I sat up with her near a fortnight upon the latter
"You are a good creature," said Amelia, "and I love you dearly."
"Alas! madam," cries she, "what could I have done if it had not been
for the goodness of that best of men, my noble cousin! His lordship no
sooner heard of the widow's distress from me than he immediately
settled one hundred and fifty pounds a year upon her during her life."
"Well! how noble, how generous was that!" said Amelia. "I declare I
begin to love your cousin, Mrs. Ellison."
"And I declare if you do," answered she, "there is no love lost, I
verily believe; if you had heard what I heard him say yesterday behind
"Why, what did he say, Mrs. Ellison?" cries Amelia.
"He said," answered the other, "that you was the finest woman his eyes
ever beheld.--Ah! it is in vain to wish, and yet I cannot help wishing
too.--O, Mrs. Booth! if you had been a single woman, I firmly believe
I could have made you the happiest in the world. And I sincerely think
I never saw a woman who deserved it more."
"I am obliged to you, madam," cries Amelia, "for your good opinion;
but I really look on myself already as the happiest woman in the
world. Our circumstances, it is true, might have been a little more
fortunate; but O, my dear Mrs. Ellison! what fortune can be put in the
balance with such a husband as mine?"
"I am afraid, dear madam," answered Mrs. Ellison, "you would not hold
the scale fairly.--I acknowledge, indeed, Mr. Booth is a very pretty
gentleman; Heaven forbid I should endeavour to lessen him in your
opinion; yet, if I was to be brought to confession, I could not help
saying I see where the superiority lies, and that the men have more
reason to envy Mr. Booth than the women have to envy his lady."
"Nay, I will not bear this," replied Amelia. "You will forfeit all my
love if you have the least disrespectful opinion of my husband. You do
not know him, Mrs. Ellison; he is the best, the kindest, the worthiest
of all his sex. I have observed, indeed, once or twice before, that
you have taken some dislike to him. I cannot conceive for what reason.
If he hath said or done anything to disoblige you, I am sure I can
justly acquit him of design. His extreme vivacity makes him sometimes
a little too heedless; but, I am convinced, a more innocent heart, or
one more void of offence, was never in a human bosom."
"Nay, if you grow serious," cries Mrs. Ellison, "I have done. How is
it possible you should suspect I had taken any dislike to a man to
whom I have always shewn so perfect a regard; but to say I think him,
or almost any other man in the world, worthy of yourself, is not
within my power with truth. And since you force the confession from
me, I declare, I think such beauty, such sense, and such goodness
united, might aspire without vanity to the arms of any monarch in
"Alas! my dear Mrs. Ellison," answered Amelia, "do you think happiness
and a crown so closely united? how many miserable women have lain in
the arms of kings?--Indeed, Mrs. Ellison, if I had all the merit you
compliment me with, I should think it all fully rewarded with such a
man as, I thank Heaven, hath fallen to my lot; nor would I, upon my
soul, exchange that lot with any queen in the universe."
"Well, there are enow of our sex," said Mrs. Ellison, "to keep you in
countenance; but I shall never forget the beginning of a song of Mr.
Congreve's, that my husband was so fond of that he was always singing
Love's but a frailty of the mind,
When 'tis not with ambition join'd.
Love without interest makes but an unsavoury dish, in my opinion."
"And pray how long hath this been your opinion?" said Amelia, smiling.
"Ever since I was born," answered Mrs. Ellison; "at least, ever since
I can remember."
"And have you never," said Amelia, "deviated from this generous way of
"Never once," answered the other, "in the whole course of my life."
"O, Mrs. Ellison! Mrs. Ellison!" cries Amelia; "why do we ever blame
those who are disingenuous in confessing their faults, when we are so
often ashamed to own ourselves in the right? Some women now, in my
situation, would be angry that you had not made confidantes of them;
but I never desire to know more of the secrets of others than they are
pleased to intrust me with. You must believe, however, that I should
not have given you these hints of my knowing all if I had disapproved
your choice. On the contrary, I assure you I highly approve it. The
gentility he wants, it will be easily in your power to procure for
him; and as for his good qualities, I will myself be bound for them;
and I make not the least doubt, as you have owned to me yourself that
you have placed your affections on him, you will be one of the
happiest women in the world."
"Upon my honour," cries Mrs. Ellison very gravely, "I do not
understand one word of what you mean."
"Upon my honour, you astonish me," said Amelia; "but I have done."
"Nay then," said the other, "I insist upon knowing what you mean."
"Why, what can I mean," answered Amelia, "but your marriage with
"With serjeant Atkinson!" cries Mrs. Ellison eagerly, "my marriage
with a serjeant!"
"Well, with Mr. Atkinson, then, Captain Atkinson, if you please; for
so I hope to see him."
"And have you really no better opinion of me," said Mrs. Ellison,
"than to imagine me capable of such condescension? What have I done,
dear Mrs. Booth, to deserve so low a place in your esteem? I find
indeed, as Solomon says, _Women ought to watch the door of their
lips._ How little did I imagine that a little harmless freedom in
discourse could persuade any one that I could entertain a serious
intention of disgracing my family! for of a very good family am I
come, I assure you, madam, though I now let lodgings. Few of my
lodgers, I believe, ever came of a better."
"If I have offended you, madam," said Amelia, "I am very sorry, and
ask your pardon; but, besides what I heard from yourself, Mr. Booth
"O yes!" answered Mrs. Ellison, "Mr. Booth, I know, is a very good
friend of mine. Indeed, I know you better than to think it could be
your own suspicion. I am very much obliged to Mr. Booth truly."
"Nay," cries Amelia, "the serjeant himself is in fault; for Mr. Booth,
I am positive, only repeated what he had from him."
"Impudent coxcomb!" cries Mrs. Ellison. "I shall know how to keep such
fellows at a proper distance for the future--I will tell you, dear
madam, all that happened. When I rose in the morning I found the
fellow waiting in the entry; and, as you had exprest some regard for
him as your foster-brother--nay, he is a very genteel fellow, that I
must own--I scolded my maid for not shewing him into my little back-
room; and I then asked him to walk into the parlour. Could I have
imagined he would have construed such little civility into an
"Nay, I will have justice done to my poor brother too," said Amelia.
"I myself have seen you give him much greater encouragement than
"Well, perhaps I have," said Mrs. Ellison. "I have been always too