Part 8 out of 12
made the best of his way back to Amelia.
_Worthy a very serious perusal._
The colonel found Amelia sitting very disconsolate with Mrs. Atkinson.
He entered the room with an air of great gaiety, assured Amelia that
her husband was perfectly well, and that he hoped the next day he
would again be with her.
Amelia was a little comforted at this account, and vented many
grateful expressions to the colonel for his unparalleled friendship,
as she was pleased to call it. She could not, however, help giving way
soon after to a sigh at the thoughts of her husband's bondage, and
declared that night would be the longest she had ever known.
"This lady, madam," cries the colonel, "must endeavour to make it
shorter. And, if you will give me leave, I will join in the same
endeavour." Then, after some more consolatory speeches, the colonel
attempted to give a gay turn to the discourse, and said, "I was
engaged to have spent this evening disagreeably at Ranelagh, with a
set of company I did not like. How vastly am I obliged to you, dear
Mrs. Booth, that I pass it so infinitely more to my satisfaction!"
"Indeed, colonel," said Amelia, "I am convinced that to a mind so
rightly turned as yours there must be a much sweeter relish in the
highest offices of friendship than in any pleasures which the gayest
public places can afford."
"Upon my word, madam," said the colonel, "you now do me more than
justice. I have, and always had, the utmost indifference for such
pleasures. Indeed, I hardly allow them worthy of that name, or, if
they are so at all, it is in a very low degree. In my opinion the
highest friendship must always lead us to the highest pleasure."
Here Amelia entered into a long dissertation on friendship, in which
she pointed several times directly at the colonel as the hero of her
The colonel highly applauded all her sentiments; and when he could not
avoid taking the compliment to himself, he received it with a most
respectful bow. He then tried his hand likewise at description, in
which he found means to repay all Amelia's panegyric in kind. This,
though he did with all possible delicacy, yet a curious observer might
have been apt to suspect that it was chiefly on her account that the
colonel had avoided the masquerade.
In discourses of this kind they passed the evening, till it was very
late, the colonel never offering to stir from his chair before the
clock had struck one; when he thought, perhaps, that decency obliged
him to take his leave.
As soon as he was gone Mrs. Atkinson said to Mrs. Booth, "I think,
madam, you told me this afternoon that the colonel was married?"
Amelia answered, she did so.
"I think likewise, madam," said Mrs. Atkinson, "you was acquainted
with the colonel's lady?"
Amelia answered that she had been extremely intimate with her abroad.
"Is she young and handsome?" said Mrs. Atkinson. "In short, pray, was
it a match of love or convenience?"
Amelia answered, entirely of love, she believed, on his side; for that
the lady had little or no fortune.
"I am very glad to hear it," said Mrs. Atkinson; "for I am sure the
colonel is in love with somebody. I think I never saw a more luscious
picture of love drawn than that which he was pleased to give us as the
portraiture of friendship. I have read, indeed, of Pylades and
Orestes, Damon and Pythias, and other great friends of old; nay, I
sometimes flatter myself that I am capable of being a friend myself;
but as for that fine, soft, tender, delicate passion, which he was
pleased to describe, I am convinced there must go a he and a she to
"Upon my word, my dear, you are mistaken," cries Amelia. "If you had
known the friendship which hath always subsisted between the colonel
and my husband, you would not imagine it possible for any description
to exceed it. Nay, I think his behaviour this very day is sufficient
to convince you."
"I own what he hath done to-day hath great merit," said Mrs. Atkinson;
"and yet, from what he hath said to-night--You will pardon me, dear
madam; perhaps I am too quick-sighted in my observations; nay, I am
afraid I am even impertinent."
"Fie upon it!" cries Amelia; "how can you talk in that strain? Do you
imagine I expect ceremony? Pray speak what you think with the utmost
"Did he not then," said Mrs. Atkinson, "repeat the words, _the finest
woman in the world_, more than once? did he not make use of an
expression which might have become the mouth of Oroondates himself?
If I remember, the words were these--that, had he been Alexander the
Great, he should have thought it more glory to have wiped off a tear
from the bright eyes of Statira than to have conquered fifty worlds."
"Did he say so?" cries Amelia--"I think he did say something like it;
but my thoughts were so full of my husband that I took little notice.
But what would you infer from what he said? I hope you don't think he
is in love with me?"
"I hope he doth not think so himself," answered Mrs. Atkinson;
"though, when he mentioned the bright eyes of Statira, he fixed his
own eyes on yours with the most languishing air I ever beheld."
Amelia was going to answer, when the serjeant arrived, and then she
immediately fell to enquiring after her husband, and received such
satisfactory answers to all her many questions concerning him, that
she expressed great pleasure. These ideas so possessed her mind, that,
without once casting her thoughts on any other matters, she took her
leave of the serjeant and his lady, and repaired to bed to her
children, in a room which Mrs. Atkinson had provided her in the same
house; where we will at present wish her a good night.
_Consisting of grave matters._
While innocence and chearful hope, in spite of the malice of fortune,
closed the eyes of the gentle Amelia on her homely bed, and she
enjoyed a sweet and profound sleep, the colonel lay restless all night
on his down; his mind was affected with a kind of ague fit; sometimes
scorched up with flaming desires, and again chilled with the coldest
There is a time, I think, according to one of our poets, _when lust
and envy sleep_. This, I suppose, is when they are well gorged with
the food they most delight in; but, while either of these are hungry,
Nor poppy, nor mandragora,
Nor all the drousy syrups of the East,
Will ever medicine them to slumber.
The colonel was at present unhappily tormented by both these fiends.
His last evening's conversation with Amelia had done his business
effectually. The many kind words she had spoken to him, the many kind
looks she had given him, as being, she conceived, the friend and
preserver of her husband, had made an entire conquest of his heart.
Thus the very love which she bore him, as the person to whom her
little family were to owe their preservation and happiness, inspired
him with thoughts of sinking them all in the lowest abyss of ruin and
misery; and, while she smiled with all her sweetness on the supposed
friend of her husband, she was converting that friend into his most
Friendship, take heed; if woman interfere,
Be sure the hour of thy destruction's near.
These are the lines of Vanbrugh; and the sentiment is better than the
poetry. To say the truth, as a handsome wife is the cause and cement
of many false friendships, she is often too liable to destroy the real
Thus the object of the colonel's lust very plainly appears, but the
object of his envy may be more difficult to discover. Nature and
Fortune had seemed to strive with a kind of rivalship which should
bestow most on the colonel. The former had given him person, parts,
and constitution, in all which he was superior to almost every other
man. The latter had given him rank in life, and riches, both in a very
eminent degree. Whom then should this happy man envy? Here, lest
ambition should mislead the reader to search the palaces of the great,
we will direct him at once to Gray's-inn-lane; where, in a miserable
bed, in a miserable room, he will see a miserable broken lieutenant,
in a miserable condition, with several heavy debts on his back, and
without a penny in his pocket. This, and no other, was the object of
the colonel's envy. And why? because this wretch was possessed of the
affections of a poor little lamb, which all the vast flocks that were
within the power and reach of the colonel could not prevent that
glutton's longing for. And sure this image of the lamb is not
improperly adduced on this occasion; for what was the colonel's desire
but to lead this poor lamb, as it were, to the slaughter, in order to
purchase a feast of a few days by her final destruction, and to tear
her away from the arms of one where she was sure of being fondled and
caressed all the days of her life.
While the colonel was agitated with these thoughts, his greatest
comfort was, that Amelia and Booth were now separated; and his
greatest terror was of their coming again together. From wishes,
therefore, he began to meditate designs; and so far was he from any
intention of procuring the liberty of his friend, that he began to
form schemes of prolonging his confinement, till he could procure some
means of sending him away far from her; in which case he doubted not
but of succeeding in all he desired.
He was forming this plan in his mind when a servant informed him that
one serjeant Atkinson desired to speak with his honour. The serjeant
was immediately admitted, and acquainted the colonel that, if he
pleased to go and become bail for Mr. Booth, another unexceptionable
housekeeper would be there to join with him. This person the serjeant
had procured that morning, and had, by leave of his wife, given him a
bond of indemnification for the purpose.
The colonel did not seem so elated with this news as Atkinson
expected. On the contrary, instead of making a direct answer to what
Atkinson said, the colonel began thus: "I think, serjeant, Mr. Booth
hath told me that you was foster-brother to his lady. She is really a
charming woman, and it is a thousand pities she should ever have been
placed in the dreadful situation she is now in. There is nothing so
silly as for subaltern officers of the army to marry, unless where
they meet with women of very great fortunes indeed. What can be the
event of their marrying otherwise, but entailing misery and beggary on
their wives and their posterity?"
"Ah! sir," cries the serjeant, "it is too late to think of those
matters now. To be sure, my lady might have married one of the top
gentlemen in the country; for she is certainly one of the best as well
as one of the handsomest women in the kingdom; and, if she had been
fairly dealt by, would have had a very great fortune into the bargain.
Indeed, she is worthy of the greatest prince in the world; and, if I
had been the greatest prince in the world, I should have thought
myself happy with such a wife; but she was pleased to like the
lieutenant, and certainly there can be no happiness in marriage
"Lookee, serjeant," said the colonel; "you know very well that I am
the lieutenant's friend. I think I have shewn myself so."
"Indeed your honour hath," quoth the serjeant, "more than once to my
"But I am angry with him for his imprudence, greatly angry with him
for his imprudence; and the more so, as it affects a lady of so much
"She is, indeed, a lady of the highest worth," cries the serjeant.
"Poor dear lady! I knew her, an 't please your honour, from her
infancy; and the sweetest-tempered, best-natured lady she is that ever
trod on English ground. I have always loved her as if she was my own
sister. Nay, she hath very often called me brother; and I have taken
it to be a greater honour than if I was to be called a general
"What pity it is," said the colonel, "that this worthy creature should
be exposed to so much misery by the thoughtless behaviour of a man
who, though I am his friend, I cannot help saying, hath been guilty of
imprudence at least! Why could he not live upon his half-pay? What had
he to do to run himself into debt in this outrageous manner?"
"I wish, indeed," cries the serjeant, "he had been a little more
considerative; but I hope this will be a warning to him."
"How am I sure of that," answered the colonel; "or what reason is
there to expect it? extravagance is a vice of which men are not so
easily cured. I have thought a great deal of this matter, Mr.
serjeant; and, upon the most mature deliberation, I am of opinion that
it will be better, both for him and his poor lady, that he should
smart a little more."
"Your honour, sir, to be sure is in the right," replied the serjeant;
"but yet, sir, if you will pardon me for speaking, I hope you will be
pleased to consider my poor lady's case. She suffers, all this while,
as much or more than the lieutenant; for I know her so well, that I am
certain she will never have a moment's ease till her husband is out of
"I know women better than you, serjeant," cries the colonel; "they
sometimes place their affections on a husband as children do on their
nurse; but they are both to be weaned. I know you, serjeant, to be a
fellow of sense as well as spirit, or I should not speak so freely to
you; but I took a fancy to you a long time ago, and I intend to serve
you; but first, I ask you this question--Is your attachment to Mr.
Booth or his lady?"
"Certainly, sir," said the serjeant, "I must love my lady best. Not
but I have a great affection for the lieutenant too, because I know my
lady hath the same; and, indeed, he hath been always very good to me
as far as was in his power. A lieutenant, your honour knows, can't do
a great deal; but I have always found him my friend upon all
"You say true," cries the colonel; "a lieutenant can do but little;
but I can do much to serve you, and will too. But let me ask you one
question: Who was the lady whom I saw last night with Mrs. Booth at
Here the serjeant blushed, and repeated, "The lady, sir?"
"Ay, a lady, a woman," cries the colonel, "who supped with us last
night. She looked rather too much like a gentlewoman for the mistress
of a lodging-house."
The serjeant's cheeks glowed at this compliment to his wife; and he
was just going to own her when the colonel proceeded: "I think I never
saw in my life so ill-looking, sly, demure a b---; I would give
something, methinks, to know who she was."
"I don't know, indeed," cries the serjeant, in great confusion; "I
know nothing about her."
"I wish you would enquire," said the colonel, "and let me know her
name, and likewise what she is: I have a strange curiosity to know,
and let me see you again this evening exactly at seven."
"And will not your honour then go to the lieutenant this morning?"
"It is not in my power," answered the colonel; "I am engaged another
way. Besides, there is no haste in this affair. If men will be
imprudent they must suffer the consequences. Come to me at seven, and
bring me all the particulars you can concerning that ill-looking jade
I mentioned to you, for I am resolved to know who she is. And so good-
morrow to you, serjeant; be assured I will take an opportunity to do
something for you."
Though some readers may, perhaps, think the serjeant not unworthy of
the freedom with which the colonel treated him; yet that haughty
officer would have been very backward to have condescended to such
familiarity with one of his rank had he not proposed some design from
it. In truth, he began to conceive hopes of making the serjeant
instrumental to his design on Amelia; in other words, to convert him
into a pimp; an office in which the colonel had been served by
Atkinson's betters, and which, as he knew it was in his power very
well to reward him, he had no apprehension that the serjeant would
decline--an opinion which the serjeant might have pardoned, though he
had never given the least grounds for it, since the colonel borrowed
it from the knowledge of his own heart. This dictated to him that he,
from a bad motive, was capable of desiring to debauch his friend's
wife; and the same heart inspired him to hope that another, from
another bad motive, might be guilty of the same breach of friendship
in assisting him. Few men, I believe, think better of others than of
themselves; nor do they easily allow the existence of any virtue of
which they perceive no traces in their own minds; for which reason I
have observed, that it is extremely difficult to persuade a rogue that
you are an honest man; nor would you ever succeed in the attempt by
the strongest evidence, was it not for the comfortable conclusion
which the rogue draws, that he who proves himself to be honest proves
himself to be a fool at the same time.
_A curious chapter, from which a curious reader may draw sundry
The serjeant retired from the colonel in a very dejected state of
mind: in which, however, we must leave him awhile and return to
Amelia; who, as soon as she was up, had despatched Mrs. Atkinson to
pay off her former lodgings, and to bring off all cloaths and other
The trusty messenger returned without performing her errand, for Mrs.
Ellison had locked up all her rooms, and was gone out very early that
morning, and the servant knew not whither she was gone.
The two ladies now sat down to breakfast, together with Amelia's two
children; after which, Amelia declared she would take a coach and
visit her husband. To this motion Mrs. Atkinson soon agreed, and
offered to be her companion. To say truth, I think it was reasonable
enough; and the great abhorrence which Booth had of seeing his wife in
a bailiff's house was, perhaps, rather too nice and delicate.
When the ladies were both drest, and just going to send for their
vehicle, a great knocking was heard at the door, and presently Mrs.
James was ushered into the room.
This visit was disagreeable enough to Amelia, as it detained her from
the sight of her husband, for which she so eagerly longed. However, as
she had no doubt but that the visit would be reasonably short, she
resolved to receive the lady with all the complaisance in her power.
Mrs. James now behaved herself so very unlike the person that she
lately appeared, that it might have surprized any one who doth not
know that besides that of a fine lady, which is all mere art and
mummery, every such woman hath some real character at the bottom, in
which, whenever nature gets the better of her, she acts. Thus the
finest ladies in the world will sometimes love, and sometimes scratch,
according to their different natural dispositions, with great fury and
violence, though both of these are equally inconsistent with a fine
lady's artificial character.
Mrs. James then was at the bottom a very good-natured woman, and the
moment she heard of Amelia's misfortune was sincerely grieved at it.
She had acquiesced on the very first motion with the colonel's design
of inviting her to her house; and this morning at breakfast, when he
had acquainted her that Amelia made some difficulty in accepting the
offer, very readily undertook to go herself and persuade her friend to
accept the invitation.
She now pressed this matter with such earnestness, that Amelia, who
was not extremely versed in the art of denying, was hardly able to
refuse her importunity; nothing, indeed, but her affection to Mrs.
Atkinson could have prevailed on her to refuse; that point, however,
she would not give up, and Mrs. James, at last, was contented with a
promise that, as soon as their affairs were settled, Amelia, with her
husband and family, would make her a visit, and stay some time with
her in the country, whither she was soon to retire.
Having obtained this promise, Mrs. James, after many very friendly
professions, took her leave, and, stepping into her coach, reassumed
the fine lady, and drove away to join her company at an auction.
The moment she was gone Mrs. Atkinson, who had left the room upon the
approach of Mrs. James, returned into it, and was informed by Amelia
of all that had past.
"Pray, madam," said Mrs. Atkinson, "do this colonel and his lady live,
as it is called, well together?"
"If you mean to ask," cries Amelia, "whether they are a very fond
couple, I must answer that I believe they are not."
"I have been told," says Mrs. Atkinson, "that there have been
instances of women who have become bawds to their own husbands, and
the husbands pimps for them."
"Fie upon it!" cries Amelia. "I hope there are no such people. Indeed,
my dear, this is being a little too censorious."
"Call it what you please," answered Mrs. Atkinson; "it arises from my
love to you and my fears for your danger. You know the proverb of a
burnt child; and, if such a one hath any good-nature, it will dread
the fire on the account of others as well as on its own. And, if I may
speak my sentiments freely, I cannot think you will be in safety at
this colonel's house."
"I cannot but believe your apprehensions to be sincere," replied
Amelia; "and I must think myself obliged to you for them; but I am
convinced you are entirely in an error. I look on Colonel James as the
most generous and best of men. He was a friend, and an excellent
friend too, to my husband, long before I was acquainted with him, and
he hath done him a thousand good offices. What do you say of his
"I wish," cries Mrs. Atkinson, "that this behaviour to-day had been
equal. What I am now going to undertake is the most disagreeable
office of friendship, but it is a necessary one. I must tell you,
therefore, what past this morning between the colonel and Mr.
Atkinson; for, though it will hurt you, you ought, on many accounts,
to know it." Here she related the whole, which we have recorded in the
preceding chapter, and with which the serjeant had acquainted her
while Mrs. James was paying her visit to Amelia. And, as the serjeant
had painted the matter rather in stronger colours than the colonel, so
Mrs. Atkinson again a little improved on the serjeant. Neither of
these good people, perhaps, intended to aggravate any circumstance;
but such is, I believe, the unavoidable consequence of all reports.
Mrs. Atkinson, indeed, may be supposed not to see what related to
James in the most favourable light, as the serjeant, with more honesty
than prudence, had suggested to his wife that the colonel had not the
kindest opinion of her, and had called her a sly and demure---: it is
true he omitted ill-looking b---; two words which are, perhaps,
superior to the patience of any Job in petticoats that ever lived. He
made amends, however, by substituting some other phrases in their
stead, not extremely agreeable to a female ear.
It appeared to Amelia, from Mrs. Atkinson's relation, that the colonel
had grossly abused Booth to the serjeant, and had absolutely refused
to become his bail. Poor Amelia became a pale and motionless statue at
this account. At length she cried, "If this be true, I and mine are
all, indeed, undone. We have no comfort, no hope, no friend left. I
cannot disbelieve you. I know you would not deceive me. Why should
you, indeed, deceive me? But what can have caused this alteration
since last night? Did I say or do anything to offend him?"
"You said and did rather, I believe, a great deal too much to please
him," answered Mrs. Atkinson. "Besides, he is not in the least
offended with you. On the contrary, he said many kind things."
"What can my poor love have done?" said Amelia. "He hath not seen the
colonel since last night. Some villain hath set him against my
husband; he was once before suspicious of such a person. Some cruel
monster hath belied his innocence!"
"Pardon me, dear madam," said Mrs. Atkinson; "I believe the person who
hath injured the captain with this friend of his is one of the
worthiest and best of creatures--nay, do not be surprized; the person
I mean is even your fair self: sure you would not be so dull in any
other case; but in this, gratitude, humility, modesty, every virtue,
shuts your eyes.
_Mortales hebetant visus,_
as Virgil says. What in the world can be more consistent than his
desire to have you at his own house and to keep your husband confined
in another? All that he said and all that he did yesterday, and, what
is more convincing to me than both, all that he looked last night, are
very consistent with both these designs."
"O Heavens!" cries Amelia, "you chill my blood with horror! the idea
freezes me to death; I cannot, must not, will not think it. Nothing
but conviction! Heaven forbid I should ever have more conviction! And
did he abuse my husband? what? did he abuse a poor, unhappy, distrest
creature, opprest, ruined, torn from his children, torn away from his
wretched wife; the honestest, worthiest, noblest, tenderest, fondest,
best--" Here she burst into an agony of grief, which exceeds the power
In this situation Mrs. Atkinson was doing her utmost to support her
when a most violent knocking was heard at the door, and immediately
the serjeant ran hastily into the room, bringing with him a cordial
which presently relieved Amelia. What this cordial was, we shall
inform the reader in due time. In the mean while he must suspend his
curiosity; and the gentlemen at White's may lay wagers whether it was
Ward's pill or Dr James's powder.
But before we close this chapter, and return back to the bailiff's
house, we must do our best to rescue the character of our heroine from
the dulness of apprehension, which several of our quick-sighted
readers may lay more heavily to her charge than was done by her friend
I must inform, therefore, all such readers, that it is not because
innocence is more blind than guilt that the former often overlooks and
tumbles into the pit which the latter foresees and avoids. The truth
is, that it is almost impossible guilt should miss the discovering of
all the snares in its way, as it is constantly prying closely into
every corner in order to lay snares for others. Whereas innocence,
having no such purpose, walks fearlessly and carelessly through life,
and is consequently liable to tread on the gins which cunning hath
laid to entrap it. To speak plainly and without allegory or figure, it
is not want of sense, but want of suspicion, by which innocence is
often betrayed. Again, we often admire at the folly of the dupe, when
we should transfer our whole surprize to the astonishing guilt of the
betrayer. In a word, many an innocent person hath owed his ruin to
this circumstance alone, that the degree of villany was such as must
have exceeded the faith of every man who was not himself a villain.
_In which are many profound secrets of philosophy._
Booth, having had enough of the author's company the preceding day,
chose now another companion. Indeed the author was not very solicitous
of a second interview; for, as he could have no hope from Booth's
pocket, so he was not likely to receive much increase to his vanity
from Booth's conversation; for, low as this wretch was in virtue,
sense, learning, birth, and fortune, he was by no means low in his
vanity. This passion, indeed, was so high in him, and at the same time
so blinded him to his own demerits, that he hated every man who did
not either flatter him or give him money. In short, he claimed a
strange kind of right, either to cheat all his acquaintance of their
praise or to pick their pockets of their pence, in which latter case
he himself repaid very liberally with panegyric.
A very little specimen of such a fellow must have satisfied a man of
Mr. Booth's temper. He chose, therefore, now to associate himself with
that gentleman of whom Bondum had given so shabby a character. In
short, Mr. Booth's opinion of the bailiff was such, that he
recommended a man most where he least intended it. Nay, the bailiff in
the present instance, though he had drawn a malicious conclusion,
honestly avowed that this was drawn only from the poverty of the
person, which is never, I believe, any forcible disrecommendation to a
good mind: but he must have had a very bad mind indeed, who, in Mr.
Booth's circumstances, could have disliked or despised another man
because that other man was poor.
Some previous conversation having past between this gentleman and
Booth, in which they had both opened their several situations to each
other, the former, casting an affectionate look on the latter, exprest
great compassion for his circumstances, for which Booth, thanking him,
said, "You must have a great deal of compassion, and be a very good
man, in such a terrible situation as you describe yourself, to have
any pity to spare for other people."
"My affairs, sir," answered the gentleman, "are very bad, it is true,
and yet there is one circumstance which makes you appear to me more
the object of pity than I am to myself; and it is this--that you must
from your years be a novice in affliction, whereas I have served a
long apprenticeship to misery, and ought, by this time, to be a pretty
good master of my trade. To say the truth, I believe habit teaches men
to bear the burthens of the mind, as it inures them to bear heavy
burthens on their shoulders. Without use and experience, the strongest
minds and bodies both will stagger under a weight which habit might
render easy and even contemptible."
"There is great justice," cries Booth, "in the comparison; and I think
I have myself experienced the truth of it; for I am not that tyro in
affliction which you seem to apprehend me. And perhaps it is from the
very habit you mention that I am able to support my present
misfortunes a little like a man."
The gentleman smiled at this, and cried, "Indeed, captain, you are a
"I think," cries Booth, "I have some pretensions to that philosophy
which is taught by misfortunes, and you seem to be of opinion, sir,
that is one of the best schools of philosophy."
"I mean no more, sir," said the gentleman, "than that in the days of
our affliction we are inclined to think more seriously than in those
seasons of life when we are engaged in the hurrying pursuits of
business or pleasure, when we have neither leisure nor inclination to
sift and examine things to the bottom. Now there are two
considerations which, from my having long fixed my thoughts upon them,
have greatly supported me under all my afflictions. The one is the
brevity of life even at its longest duration, which the wisest of men
hath compared to the short dimension of a span. One of the Roman poets
compares it to the duration of a race; and another, to the much
shorter transition of a wave.
"The second consideration is the uncertainty of it. Short as its
utmost limits are, it is far from being assured of reaching those
limits. The next day, the next hour, the next moment, may be the end
of our course. Now of what value is so uncertain, so precarious a
station? This consideration, indeed, however lightly it is passed over
in our conception, doth, in a great measure, level all fortunes and
conditions, and gives no man a right to triumph in the happiest state,
or any reason to repine in the most miserable. Would the most worldly
men see this in the light in which they examine all other matters,
they would soon feel and acknowledge the force of this way of
reasoning; for which of them would give any price for an estate from
which they were liable to be immediately ejected? or, would they not
laugh at him as a madman who accounted himself rich from such an
uncertain possession? This is the fountain, sir, from which I have
drawn my philosophy. Hence it is that I have learnt to look on all
those things which are esteemed the blessings of life, and those which
are dreaded as its evils, with such a degree of indifference that, as
I should not be elated with possessing the former, so neither am I
greatly dejected and depressed by suffering the latter. Is the actor
esteemed happier to whose lot it falls to play the principal part than
he who plays the lowest? and yet the drama may run twenty nights
together, and by consequence may outlast our lives; but, at the best,
life is only a little longer drama, and the business of the great
stage is consequently a little more serious than that which is
performed at the Theatre-royal. But even here, the catastrophes and
calamities which are represented are capable of affecting us. The
wisest men can deceive themselves into feeling the distresses of a
tragedy, though they know them to be merely imaginary; and the
children will often lament them as realities: what wonder then, if
these tragical scenes which I allow to be a little more serious,
should a little more affect us? where then is the remedy but in the
philosophy I have mentioned, which, when once by a long course of
meditation it is reduced to a habit, teaches us to set a just value on
everything, and cures at once all eager wishes and abject fears, all
violent joy and grief concerning objects which cannot endure long, and
may not exist a moment."
"You have exprest yourself extremely well," cries Booth; "and I
entirely agree with the justice of your sentiments; but, however true
all this may be in theory, I still doubt its efficacy in practice. And
the cause of the difference between these two is this; that we reason
from our heads, but act from our hearts:
_---Video meliora, proboque;
Nothing can differ more widely than wise men and fools in their
estimation of things; but, as both act from their uppermost passion,
they both often act like. What comfort then can your philosophy give
to an avaricious man who is deprived of his riches or to an ambitious
man who is stript of his power? to the fond lover who is torn from his
mistress or to the tender husband who is dragged from his wife? Do you
really think that any meditations on the shortness of life will soothe
them in their afflictions? Is not this very shortness itself one of
their afflictions? and if the evil they suffer be a temporary
deprivation of what they love, will they not think their fate the
harder, and lament the more, that they are to lose any part of an
enjoyment to which there is so short and so uncertain a period?"
"I beg leave, sir," said the gentleman, "to distinguish here. By
philosophy, I do not mean the bare knowledge of right and wrong, but
an energy, a habit, as Aristotle calls it; and this I do firmly
believe, with him and with the Stoics, is superior to all the attacks
He was proceeding when the bailiff came in, and in a surly tone bad
them both good-morrow; after which he asked the philosopher if he was
prepared to go to Newgate; for that he must carry him thither that
The poor man seemed very much shocked with this news. "I hope," cries
he, "you will give a little longer time, if not till the return of the
writ. But I beg you particularly not to carry me thither to-day, for I
expect my wife and children here in the evening."
"I have nothing to do with wives and children," cried the bailiff; "I
never desire to see any wives and children here. I like no such
"I intreat you," said the prisoner, "give me another day. I shall take
it as a great obligation; and you will disappoint me in the cruellest
manner in the world if you refuse me."
"I can't help people's disappointments," cries the bailiff; "I must
consider myself and my own family. I know not where I shall be paid
the money that's due already. I can't afford to keep prisoners at my
"I don't intend it shall be at your expense" cries the philosopher;
"my wife is gone to raise money this morning; and I hope to pay you
all I owe you at her arrival. But we intend to sup together to-night
at your house; and, if you should remove me now, it would be the most
barbarous disappointment to us both, and will make me the most
miserable man alive."
"Nay, for my part," said the bailiff, "I don't desire to do anything
barbarous. I know how to treat gentlemen with civility as well as
another. And when people pay as they go, and spend their money like
gentlemen, I am sure nobody can accuse me of any incivility since I
have been in the office. And if you intend to be merry to-night I am
not the man that will prevent it. Though I say it, you may have as
good a supper drest here as at any tavern in town."
"Since Mr. Bondum is so kind, captain," said the philosopher, "I hope
for the favour of your company. I assure you, if it ever be my fortune
to go abroad into the world, I shall be proud of the honour of your
"Indeed, sir," cries Booth, "it is an honour I shall be very ready to
accept; but as for this evening, I cannot help saying I hope to be
engaged in another place."
"I promise you, sir," answered the other, "I shall rejoice at your
liberty, though I am a loser by it."
"Why, as to that matter," cries Bondum with a sneer, "I fancy,
captain, you may engage yourself to the gentleman without any fear of
breaking your word; for I am very much mistaken if we part to-day."
"Pardon me, my good friend," said Booth, "but I expect my bail every
"Lookee, sir," cries Bondum, "I don't love to see gentlemen in an
error. I shall not take the serjeant's bail; and as for the colonel, I
have been with him myself this morning (for to be sure I love to do
all I can for gentlemen), and he told me he could not possibly be here
to-day; besides, why should I mince the matter? there is more stuff in
"What do you mean by stuff?" cries Booth.
"I mean that there is another writ," answered the bailiff, "at the
suit of Mrs. Ellison, the gentlewoman that was here yesterday; and the
attorney that was with her is concerned against you. Some officers
would not tell you all this; but I loves to shew civility to gentlemen
while they behave themselves as such. And I loves the gentlemen of the
army in particular. I had like to have been in the army myself once;
but I liked the commission I have better. Come, captain, let not your
noble courage be cast down; what say you to a glass of white wine, or
a tiff of punch, by way of whet?"
"I have told you, sir, I never drink in the morning," cries Booth a
"No offence I hope, sir," said the bailiff; "I hope I have not treated
you with any incivility. I don't ask any gentleman to call for liquor
in my house if he doth not chuse it; nor I don't desire anybody to
stay here longer than they have a mind to. Newgate, to be sure, is the
place for all debtors that can't find bail. I knows what civility is,
and I scorn to behave myself unbecoming a gentleman: but I'd have you
consider that the twenty-four hours appointed by act of parliament are
almost out; and so it is time to think of removing. As to bail, I
would not have you flatter yourself; for I knows very well there are
other things coming against you. Besides, the sum you are already
charged with is very large, and I must see you in a place of safety.
My house is no prison, though I lock up for a little time in it.
Indeed, when gentlemen are gentlemen, and likely to find bail, I don't
stand for a day or two; but I have a good nose at a bit of carrion,
captain; I have not carried so much carrion to Newgate, without
knowing the smell of it."
"I understand not your cant," cries Booth; "but I did not think to
have offended you so much by refusing to drink in a morning."
"Offended me, sir!" cries the bailiff. "Who told you so? Do you think,
sir, if I want a glass of wine I am under any necessity of asking my
prisoners for it? Damn it, sir, I'll shew you I scorn your words. I
can afford to treat you with a glass of the best wine in England, if
you comes to that." He then pulled out a handful of guineas, saying,
"There, sir, they are all my own; I owe nobody a shilling. I am no
beggar, nor no debtor. I am the king's officer as well as you, and I
will spend guinea for guinea as long as you please."
"Harkee, rascal," cries Booth, laying hold of the bailiff's collar.
"How dare you treat me with this insolence? doth the law give you any
authority to insult me in my misfortunes?" At which words he gave the
bailiff a good shove, and threw him from him.
"Very well, sir," cries the bailiff; "I will swear both an assault and
an attempt to a rescue. If officers are to be used in this manner,
there is an end of all law and justice. But, though I am not a match
for you myself, I have those below that are." He then ran to the door
and called up two ill-looking fellows, his followers, whom, as soon as
they entered the room, he ordered to seize on Booth, declaring he
would immediately carry him to Newgate; at the same time pouring out a
vast quantity of abuse, below the dignity of history to record.
Booth desired the two dirty fellows to stand off, and declared he
would make no resistance; at the same time bidding the bailiff carry
him wherever he durst.
"I'll shew you what I dare," cries the bailiff; and again ordered the
followers to lay hold of their prisoner, saying, "He has assaulted me
already, and endeavoured a rescue. I shan't trust such a fellow to
walk at liberty. A gentleman, indeed! ay, ay, Newgate is the properest
place for such gentry; as arrant carrion as ever was carried thither."
The fellows then both laid violent hands on Booth, and the bailiff
stept to the door to order a coach; when, on a sudden, the whole scene
was changed in an instant; for now the serjeant came running out of
breath into the room; and, seeing his friend the captain roughly
handled by two ill-looking fellows, without asking any questions stept
briskly up to his assistance, and instantly gave one of the assailants
so violent a salute with his fist, that he directly measured his
length on the floor.
Booth, having by this means his right arm at liberty, was unwilling to
be idle, or entirely to owe his rescue from both the ruffians to the
serjeant; he therefore imitated the example which his friend had set
him, and with a lusty blow levelled the other follower with his
companion on the ground.
The bailiff roared out, "A rescue, a rescue!" to which the serjeant
answered there was no rescue intended. "The captain," said he, "wants
no rescue. Here are some friends coming who will deliver him in a
The bailiff swore heartily he would carry him to Newgate in spite of
all the friends in the world.
"You carry him to Newgate!" cried the serjeant, with the highest
indignation. "Offer but to lay your hands on him, and I will knock
your teeth down your ugly jaws." Then, turning to Booth, he cried,
"They will be all here within a minute, sir; we had much ado to keep
my lady from coming herself; but she is at home in good health,
longing to see your honour; and I hope you will be with her within
And now three gentlemen entered the room; these were an attorney, the
person whom the serjeant had procured in the morning to be his bail
with Colonel James, and lastly Doctor Harrison himself.
The bailiff no sooner saw the attorney, with whom he was well
acquainted (for the others he knew not), than he began, as the phrase
is, to pull in his horns, and ordered the two followers, who were now
got again on their legs, to walk down-stairs.
"So, captain," says the doctor, "when last we parted, I believe we
neither of us expected to meet in such a place as this."
"Indeed, doctor," cries Booth, "I did not expect to have been sent
hither by the gentleman who did me that favour."
"How so, sir?" said the doctor; "you was sent hither by some person, I
suppose, to whom you was indebted. This is the usual place, I
apprehend, for creditors to send their debtors to. But you ought to be
more surprized that the gentleman who sent you hither is come to
release you. Mr. Murphy, you will perform all the necessary
The attorney then asked the bailiff with how many actions Booth was
charged, and was informed there were five besides the doctor's, which
was much the heaviest of all. Proper bonds were presently provided,
and the doctor and the serjeant's friend signed them; the bailiff, at
the instance of the attorney, making no objection to the bail.
[Illustration: _Lawyer Murphy_]
Booth, we may be assured, made a handsome speech to the doctor for
such extraordinary friendship, with which, however, we do not think
proper to trouble the reader; and now everything being ended, and the
company ready to depart, the bailiff stepped up to Booth, and told him
he hoped he would remember civility-money.
"I believe" cries Booth, "you mean incivility-money; if there are any
fees due for rudeness, I must own you have a very just claim."
"I am sure, sir," cries the bailiff, "I have treated your honour with
all the respect in the world; no man, I am sure, can charge me with
using a gentleman rudely. I knows what belongs to a gentleman better;
but you can't deny that two of my men have been knocked down; and I
doubt not but, as you are a gentleman, you will give them something to
Booth was about to answer with some passion, when the attorney
interfered, and whispered in his ear that it was usual to make a
compliment to the officer, and that he had better comply with the
"If the fellow had treated me civilly," answered Booth, "I should have
had no objection to comply with a bad custom in his favour; but I am
resolved I will never reward a man for using me ill; and I will not
agree to give him a single farthing."
"'Tis very well, sir," said the bailiff; "I am rightly served for my
good-nature; but, if it had been to do again, I would have taken care
you should not have been bailed this day."
Doctor Harrison, to whom Booth referred the cause, after giving him a
succinct account of what had passed, declared the captain to be in the
right. He said it was a most horrid imposition that such fellows were
ever suffered to prey on the necessitous; but that the example would
be much worse to reward them where they had behaved themselves ill.
"And I think," says he, "the bailiff is worthy of great rebuke for
what he hath just now said; in which I hope he hath boasted of more
power than is in him. We do, indeed, with great justice and propriety
value ourselves on our freedom if the liberty of the subject depends
on the pleasure of such fellows as these!"
"It is not so neither altogether," cries the lawyer; "but custom hath
established a present or fee to them at the delivery of a prisoner,
which they call civility-money, and expect as in a manner their due,
though in reality they have no right."
"But will any man," cries Doctor Harrison, "after what the captain
hath told us, say that the bailiff hath behaved himself as he ought;
and, if he had, is he to be rewarded for not acting in an unchristian
and inhuman manner? it is pity that, instead of a custom of feeing
them out of the pockets of the poor and wretched, when they do not
behave themselves ill, there was not both a law and a practice to
punish them severely when they do. In the present case, I am so far
from agreeing to give the bailiff a shilling, that, if there be any
method of punishing him for his rudeness, I shall be heartily glad to
see it put in execution; for there are none whose conduct should be so
strictly watched as that of these necessary evils in the society, as
their office concerns for the most part those poor creatures who
cannot do themselves justice, and as they are generally the worst of
men who undertake it."
The bailiff then quitted the room, muttering that he should know
better what to do another time; and shortly after, Booth and his
friends left the house; but, as they were going out, the author took
Doctor Harrison aside, and slipt a receipt into his hand, which the
doctor returned, saying, he never subscribed when he neither knew the
work nor the author; but that, if he would call at his lodgings, he
would be very willing to give all the encouragement to merit which was
in his power.
The author took down the doctor's name and direction, and made him as
many bows as he would have done had he carried off the half-guinea for
which he had been fishing.
Mr. Booth then took his leave of the philosopher, and departed with
the rest of his friends.
END OF VOL. II.
_In which the history looks backwards._
Before we proceed farther with our history it may be proper to look
back a little, in order to account for the late conduct of Doctor
Harrison; which, however inconsistent it may have hitherto appeared,
when examined to the bottom will be found, I apprehend, to be truly
congruous with all the rules of the most perfect prudence as well as
with the most consummate goodness.
We have already partly seen in what light Booth had been represented
to the doctor abroad. Indeed, the accounts which were sent of the
captain, as well by the curate as by a gentleman of the neighbourhood,
were much grosser and more to his disadvantage than the doctor was
pleased to set them forth in his letter to the person accused. What
sense he had of Booth's conduct was, however, manifest by that letter.
Nevertheless, he resolved to suspend his final judgment till his
return; and, though he censured him, would not absolutely condemn him
without ocular demonstration.
The doctor, on his return to his parish, found all the accusations
which had been transmitted to him confirmed by many witnesses, of
which the curate's wife, who had been formerly a friend to Amelia, and
still preserved the outward appearance of friendship, was the
strongest. She introduced all with--"I am sorry to say it; and it is
friendship which bids me speak; and it is for their good it should be
told you." After which beginnings she never concluded a single speech
without some horrid slander and bitter invective.
Besides the malicious turn which was given to these affairs in the
country, which were owing a good deal to misfortune, and some little
perhaps to imprudence, the whole neighbourhood rung with several gross
and scandalous lies, which were merely the inventions of his enemies,
and of which the scene was laid in London since his absence.
Poisoned with all this malice, the doctor came to town; and, learning
where Booth lodged, went to make him a visit. Indeed, it was the
doctor, and no other, who had been at his lodgings that evening when
Booth and Amelia were walking in the Park, and concerning which the
reader may be pleased to remember so many strange and odd conjectures.
Here the doctor saw the little gold watch and all those fine trinkets
with which the noble lord had presented the children, and which, from
the answers given him by the poor ignorant, innocent girl, he could
have no doubt had been purchased within a few days by Amelia.
This account tallied so well with the ideas he had imbibed of Booth's
extravagance in the country, that he firmly believed both the husband
and wife to be the vainest, silliest, and most unjust people alive. It
was, indeed, almost incredible that two rational beings should be
guilty of such absurdity; but, monstrous and absurd as it was, ocular
demonstration appeared to be the evidence against them.
The doctor departed from their lodgings enraged at this supposed
discovery, and, unhappily for Booth, was engaged to supper that very
evening with the country gentleman of whom Booth had rented a farm. As
the poor captain happened to be the subject of conversation, and
occasioned their comparing notes, the account which the doctor gave of
what he had seen that evening so incensed the gentleman, to whom Booth
was likewise a debtor, that he vowed he would take a writ out against
him the next morning, and have his body alive or dead; and the doctor
was at last persuaded to do the same. Mr. Murphy was thereupon
immediately sent for; and the doctor in his presence repeated again
what he had seen at his lodgings as the foundation of his suing him,
which the attorney, as we have before seen, had blabbed to Atkinson.
But no sooner did the doctor hear that Booth was arrested than the
wretched condition of his wife and family began to affect his mind.
The children, who were to be utterly undone with their father, were
intirely innocent; and as for Amelia herself, though he thought he had
most convincing proofs of very blameable levity, yet his former
friendship and affection to her were busy to invent every excuse,
till, by very heavily loading the husband, they lightened the
suspicion against the wife.
In this temper of mind he resolved to pay Amelia a second visit, and
was on his way to Mrs. Ellison when the serjeant met him and made
himself known to him. The doctor took his old servant into a coffee-
house, where he received from him such an account of Booth and his
family, that he desired the serjeant to shew him presently to Amelia;
and this was the cordial which we mentioned at the end of the ninth
chapter of the preceding book.
The doctor became soon satisfied concerning the trinkets which had
given him so much uneasiness, and which had brought so much mischief
on the head of poor Booth. Amelia likewise gave the doctor some
satisfaction as to what he had heard of her husband's behaviour in the
country; and assured him, upon her honour, that Booth could so well
answer every complaint against his conduct, that she had no doubt but
that a man of the doctor's justice and candour would entirely acquit
him, and would consider him as an innocent unfortunate man, who was
the object of a good man's compassion, not of his anger or resentment.
This worthy clergyman, who was not desirous of finding proofs to
condemn the captain or to justify his own vindictive proceedings, but,
on the contrary, rejoiced heartily in every piece of evidence which
tended to clear up the character of his friend, gave a ready ear to
all which Amelia said. To this, indeed, he was induced by the love he
always had for that lady, by the good opinion he entertained of her,
as well as by pity for her present condition, than which nothing
appeared more miserable; for he found her in the highest agonies of
grief and despair, with her two little children crying over their
wretched mother. These are, indeed, to a well-disposed mind, the most
tragical sights that human nature can furnish, and afford a juster
motive to grief and tears in the beholder than it would be to see all
the heroes who have ever infested the earth hanged all together in a
The doctor felt this sight as he ought. He immediately endeavoured to
comfort the afflicted; in which he so well succeeded, that he restored
to Amelia sufficient spirits to give him the satisfaction we have
mentioned: after which he declared he would go and release her
husband, which he accordingly did in the manner we have above related.
_In which the history goes forward._
We now return to that period of our history to which we had brought it
at the end of our last book.
Booth and his friends arrived from the bailiff's, at the serjeant's
lodgings, where Booth immediately ran up-stairs to his Amelia; between
whom I shall not attempt to describe the meeting. Nothing certainly
was ever more tender or more joyful. This, however, I will observe,
that a very few of these exquisite moments, of which the best minds
only are capable, do in reality over-balance the longest enjoyments
which can ever fall to the lot of the worst.
Whilst Booth and his wife were feasting their souls with the most
delicious mutual endearments, the doctor was fallen to play with the
two little children below-stairs. While he was thus engaged the little
boy did somewhat amiss; upon which the doctor said, "If you do so any
more I will take your papa away from you again."--"Again! sir," said
the child; "why, was it you then that took away my papa before?"
"Suppose it was," said the doctor; "would not you forgive me?" "Yes,"
cries the child, "I would forgive you; because a Christian must
forgive everybody; but I should hate you as long as I live."
The doctor was so pleased with the boy's answer, that he caught him in
his arms and kissed him; at which time Booth and his wife returned.
The doctor asked which of them was their son's instructor in his
religion; Booth answered that he must confess Amelia had all the merit
of that kind. "I should have rather thought he had learnt of his
father," cries the doctor; "for he seems a good soldier-like
Christian, and professes to hate his enemies with a very good grace."
"How, Billy!" cries Amelia. "I am sure I did not teach you so."
"I did not say I would hate my enemies, madam," cries the boy; "I only
said I would hate papa's enemies. Sure, mamma, there is no harm in
that; nay, I am sure there is no harm in it, for I have heard you say
the same thing a thousand times."
The doctor smiled on the child, and, chucking him under the chin, told
him he must hate nobody 5 and now Mrs. Atkinson, who had provided a
dinner for them all, desired them to walk up and partake of it.
And now it was that Booth was first made acquainted with the
serjeant's marriage, as was Dr Harrison; both of whom greatly
felicitated him upon it.
Mrs. Atkinson, who was, perhaps, a little more confounded than she
would have been had she married a colonel, said, "If I have done
wrong, Mrs. Booth is to answer for it, for she made the match; indeed,
Mr. Atkinson, you are greatly obliged to the character which this lady
gives of you." "I hope he will deserve it," said the doctor; "and, if
the army hath not corrupted a good boy, I believe I may answer for
While our little company were enjoying that happiness which never
fails to attend conversation where all present are pleased with each
other, a visitant arrived who was, perhaps, not very welcome to any of
them. This was no other than Colonel James, who, entering the room
with much gaiety, went directly up to Booth, embraced him, and
expressed great satisfaction at finding him there; he then made an
apology for not attending him in the morning, which he said had been
impossible; and that he had, with the utmost difficulty, put off some
business of great consequence in order to serve him this afternoon;
"but I am glad on your account," cried he to Booth, "that my presence
was not necessary."
Booth himself was extremely satisfied with this declaration, and
failed not to return him as many thanks as he would have deserved had
he performed his promise; but the two ladies were not quite so well
satisfied. As for the serjeant, he had slipt out of the room when the
colonel entered, not entirely out of that bashfulness which we have
remarked him to be tainted with, but indeed, from what had past in the
morning, he hated the sight of the colonel as well on the account of
his wife as on that of his friend.
The doctor, on the contrary, on what he had formerly heard from both
Amelia and her husband of the colonel's generosity and friendship, had
built so good an opinion of him, that he was very much pleased with
seeing him, and took the first opportunity of telling him so.
"Colonel," said the doctor, "I have not the happiness of being known
to you; but I have long been desirous of an acquaintance with a
gentleman in whose commendation I have heard so much from some
present." The colonel made a proper answer to this compliment, and
they soon entered into a familiar conversation together; for the
doctor was not difficult of access; indeed, he held the strange
reserve which is usually practised in this nation between people who
are in any degree strangers to each other to be very unbecoming the
The two ladies soon left the room; and the remainder of the visit,
which was not very long, past in discourse on various common subjects,
not worth recording. In the conclusion, the colonel invited Booth and
his lady, and the doctor, to dine with him the next day.
To give Colonel James his due commendation, he had shewn a great
command of himself and great presence of mind on this occasion; for,
to speak the plain truth, the visit was intended to Amelia alone; nor
did he expect, or perhaps desire, anything less than to find the
captain at home. The great joy which he suddenly conveyed into his
countenance at the unexpected sight of his friend is to be attributed
to that noble art which is taught in those excellent schools called
the several courts of Europe. By this, men are enabled to dress out
their countenances as much at their own pleasure as they do their
bodies, and to put on friendship with as much ease as they can a laced
When the colonel and doctor were gone, Booth acquainted Amelia with
the invitation he had received. She was so struck with the news, and
betrayed such visible marks of confusion and uneasiness, that they
could not have escaped Booth's observation had suspicion given him the
least hint to remark; but this, indeed, is the great optic-glass
helping us to discern plainly almost all that passes in the minds of
others, without some use of which nothing is more purblind than human
Amelia, having recovered from her first perturbation, answered, "My
dear, I will dine with you wherever you please to lay your commands on
me." "I am obliged to you, my dear soul," cries Booth; "your obedience
shall be very easy, for my command will be that you shall always
follow your own inclinations." "My inclinations," answered she,
"would, I am afraid, be too unreasonable a confinement to you; for
they would always lead me to be with you and your children, with at
most a single friend or two now and then." "O my dear!" replied he,
"large companies give us a greater relish for our own society when we
return to it; and we shall be extremely merry, for Doctor Harrison
dines with us." "I hope you will, my dear," cries she;" but I own I
should have been better pleased to have enjoyed a few days with
yourself and the children, with no other person but Mrs. Atkinson, for
whom I have conceived a violent affection, and who would have given us
but little interruption. However, if you have promised, I must undergo
the penance." "Nay, child," cried he, "I am sure I would have refused,
could I have guessed it had been in the least disagreeable to you
though I know your objection." "Objection!" cries Amelia eagerly "I
have no objection." "Nay, nay," said he, "come, be honest, I know your
objection, though you are unwilling to own it." "Good Heavens!" cryed
Amelia, frightened, "what do you mean? what objection?" "Why,"
answered he, "to the company of Mrs. James; and I must confess she
hath not behaved to you lately as you might have expected; but you
ought to pass all that by for the sake of her husband, to whom we have
both so many obligations, who is the worthiest, honestest, and most
generous fellow in the universe, and the best friend to me that ever
Amelia, who had far other suspicions, and began to fear that her
husband had discovered them, was highly pleased when she saw him
taking a wrong scent. She gave, therefore, a little in to the deceit,
and acknowledged the truth of what he had mentioned; but said that the
pleasure she should have in complying with his desires would highly
recompense any dissatisfaction which might arise on any other account;
and shortly after ended the conversation on this subject with her
chearfully promising to fulfil his promise.
In reality, poor Amelia had now a most unpleasant task to undertake;
for she thought it absolutely necessary to conceal from her husband
the opinion she had conceived of the colonel. For, as she knew the
characters, as well of her husband as of his friend, or rather enemy
(both being often synonymous in the language of the world), she had
the utmost reason to apprehend something very fatal might attend her
husband's entertaining the same thought of James which filled and
tormented her own breast.
And, as she knew that nothing but these thoughts could justify the
least unkind, or, indeed, the least reserved behaviour to James, who
had, in all appearance, conferred the greatest obligations upon Booth
and herself, she was reduced to a dilemma the most dreadful that can
attend a virtuous woman, as it often gives the highest triumph, and
sometimes no little advantage, to the men of professed gallantry.
In short, to avoid giving any umbrage to her husband, Amelia was
forced to act in a manner which she was conscious must give
encouragement to the colonel; a situation which perhaps requires as
great prudence and delicacy as any in which the heroic part of the
female character can be exerted.
_A conversation between Dr Harrison and others_.
The next day Booth and his lady, with the doctor, met at Colonel
James's, where Colonel Bath likewise made one of the company.
Nothing very remarkable passed at dinner, or till the ladies withdrew.
During this time, however, the behaviour of Colonel James was such as
gave some uneasiness to Amelia, who well understood his meaning,
though the particulars were too refined and subtle to be observed by
any other present.
When the ladies were gone, which was as soon as Amelia could prevail
on Mrs. James to depart, Colonel Bath, who had been pretty brisk with
champagne at dinner, soon began to display his magnanimity. "My
brother tells me, young gentleman," said he to Booth, "that you have
been used very ill lately by some rascals, and I have no doubt but you
will do yourself justice."
Booth answered that he did not know what he meant. "Since I must
mention it then," cries the colonel, "I hear you have been arrested;
and I think you know what satisfaction is to be required by a man of
"I beg, sir," says the doctor, "no more may be mentioned of that
matter. I am convinced no satisfaction will be required of the captain
till he is able to give it."
"I do not understand what you mean by able," cries the colonel. To
which the doctor answered, "That it was of too tender a nature to
speak more of."
"Give me your hand, doctor," cries the colonel; "I see you are a man
of honour, though you wear a gown. It is, as you say, a matter of a
tender nature. Nothing, indeed, is so tender as a man's honour. Curse
my liver, if any man--I mean, that is, if any gentleman, was to arrest
me, I would as surely cut his throat as--"
"How, sir!" said the doctor, "would you compensate one breach of the
law by a much greater, and pay your debts by committing murder?"
"Why do you mention law between gentlemen?" says the colonel. "A man
of honour wears his law by his side; and can the resentment of an
affront make a gentleman guilty of murder? and what greater affront
can one man cast upon another than by arresting him? I am convinced
that he who would put up an arrest would put up a slap in the face."
Here the colonel looked extremely fierce, and the divine stared with
astonishment at this doctrine; when Booth, who well knew the
impossibility of opposing the colonel's humour with success, began to
play with it; and, having first conveyed a private wink to the doctor,
he said there might be cases undoubtedly where such an affront ought
to be resented; but that there were others where any resentment was
impracticable: "As, for instance," said he, "where the man is arrested
by a woman."
"I could not be supposed to mean that case," cries the colonel; "and
you are convinced I did not mean it."
"To put an end to this discourse at once, sir," said the doctor, "I
was the plaintiff at whose suit this gentleman was arrested."
"Was you so, sir?" cries the colonel; "then I have no more to say.
Women and the clergy are upon the same footing. The long-robed gentry
are exempted from the laws of honour."
"I do not thank you for that exemption, sir," cries the doctor; "and,
if honour and fighting are, as they seem to be, synonymous words with
you, I believe there are some clergymen, who in defence of their
religion, or their country, or their friend, the only justifiable
causes of fighting, except bare self-defence, would fight as bravely
as yourself, colonel! and that without being paid for it."
"Sir, you are privileged," says the colonel, with great dignity; "and
you have my leave to say what you please. I respect your order, and
you cannot offend me."
"I will not offend you, colonel, "cries the doctor; "and our order is
very much obliged to you, since you profess so much respect to us, and
pay none to our Master."
"What Master, sir?" said the colonel.
"That Master," answered the doctor, "who hath expressly forbidden all
that cutting of throats to which you discover so much inclination."
"O! your servant, sir," said the colonel; "I see what you are driving
at; but you shall not persuade me to think that religion forces me to
be a coward."
"I detest and despise the name as much as you can," cries the doctor;
"but you have a wrong idea of the word, colonel. What were all the
Greeks and Romans? were these cowards? and yet, did you ever hear of
this butchery, which we call duelling, among them?"
"Yes, indeed, have I," cries the colonel. "What else is all Mr. Pope's
Homer full of but duels? Did not what's his name, one of the
Agamemnons, fight with that paultry rascal Paris? and Diomede with
what d'ye call him there? and Hector with I forget his name, he that
was Achilles's bosom-friend; and afterwards with Achilles himself?
Nay, and in Dryden's Virgil, is there anything almost besides
"You are a man of learning, colonel," cries the doctor; "but--"
"I thank you for that compliment," said the colonel.--"No, sir, I do
not pretend to learning; but I have some little reading, and I am not
ashamed to own it."
"But are you sure, colonel," cries the doctor, "that you have not made
a small mistake? for I am apt to believe both Mr. Pope and Mr. Dryden
(though I cannot say I ever read a word of either of them) speak of
wars between nations, and not of private duels; for of the latter I do
not remember one single instance in all the Greek and Roman story. In
short, it is a modern custom, introduced by barbarous nations since
the times of Christianity; though it is a direct and audacious
defiance of the Christian law, and is consequently much more sinful in
us than it would have been in the heathens."
"Drink about, doctor," cries the colonel; "and let us call a new
cause; for I perceive we shall never agree on this. You are a
Churchman, and I don't expect you to speak your mind."
"We are both of the same Church, I hope," cries the doctor.
"I am of the Church of England, sir," answered the colonel, "and will
fight for it to the last drop of my blood."
"It is very generous in you, colonel," cries the doctor, "to fight so
zealously for a religion by which you are to be damned."
"It is well for you, doctor," cries the colonel, "that you wear a
gown; for, by all the dignity of a man, if any other person had said
the words you have just uttered, I would have made him eat them; ay,
d--n me, and my sword into the bargain."
Booth began to be apprehensive that this dispute might grow too warm;
in which case he feared that the colonel's honour, together with the
champagne, might hurry him so far as to forget the respect due, and
which he professed to pay, to the sacerdotal robe. Booth therefore
interposed between the disputants, and said that the colonel had very
rightly proposed to call a new subject; for that it was impossible to
reconcile accepting a challenge with the Christian religion, or
refusing it with the modern notion of honour. "And you must allow it,
doctor," said he, "to be a very hard injunction for a man to become
infamous; and more especially for a soldier, who is to lose his bread
into the bargain."
"Ay, sir," says the colonel, with an air of triumph, "what say you to
"Why, I say," cries the doctor, "that it is much harder to be damned
on the other side."
"That may be," said the colonel; "but damn me, if I would take an
affront of any man breathing, for all that. And yet I believe myself
to be as good a Christian as wears a head. My maxim is, never to give
an affront, nor ever to take one; and I say that it is the maxim of a
good Christian, and no man shall ever persuade me to the contrary."
"Well, sir," said the doctor, "since that is your resolution, I hope
no man will ever give you an affront."
"I am obliged to you for your hope, doctor," cries the colonel, with a
sneer; "and he that doth will be obliged to you for lending him your
gown; for, by the dignity of a man, nothing out of petticoats, I
believe, dares affront me."
Colonel James had not hitherto joined in the discourse. In truth, his
thoughts had been otherwise employed; nor is it very difficult for the
reader to guess what had been the subject of them. Being waked,
however, from his reverie, and having heard the two or three last
speeches, he turned to his brother, and asked him, why he would
introduce such a topic of conversation before a gentleman of Doctor
"Brother," cried Bath, "I own it was wrong, and I ask the doctor's
pardon: I know not how it happened to arise; for you know, brother, I
am not used to talk of these matters. They are generally poltroons
that do. I think I need not be beholden to my tongue to declare I am
none. I have shown myself in a line of battle. I believe there is no
man will deny that; I believe I may say no man dares deny that I have
done my duty."
The colonel was thus proceeding to prove that his prowess was neither
the subject of his discourse nor the object of his vanity, when a
servant entered and summoned the company to tea with the ladies; a
summons which Colonel James instantly obeyed, and was followed by all
But as the tea-table conversation, though extremely delightful to
those who are engaged in it, may probably appear somewhat dull to the
reader, we will here put an end to the chapter.
_A dialogue between Booth and Amelia_.
The next morning early, Booth went by appointment and waited on
Colonel James; whence he returned to Amelia in that kind of
disposition which the great master of human passion would describe in
Andromache, when he tells us she cried and smiled at the same instant.
Amelia plainly perceived the discomposure of his mind, in which the
opposite affections of joy and grief were struggling for the
superiority, and begged to know the occasion; upon which Booth spoke
"My dear," said he, "I had no intention to conceal from you what hath
past this morning between me and the colonel, who hath oppressed me,
if I may use that expression, with obligations. Sure never man had
such a friend; for never was there so noble, so generous a heart--I
cannot help this ebullition of gratitude, I really cannot." Here he
paused a moment, and wiped his eyes, and then proceeded: "You know, my
dear, how gloomy the prospect was yesterday before our eyes, how
inevitable ruin stared me in the face; and the dreadful idea of having
entailed beggary on my Amelia and her posterity racked my mind; for
though, by the goodness of the doctor, I had regained my liberty, the
debt yet remained; and, if that worthy man had a design of forgiving
me his share, this must have been my utmost hope, and the condition in
which I must still have found myself need not to be expatiated on. In
what light, then, shall I see, in what words shall I relate, the
colonel's kindness? O my dear Amelia! he hath removed the whole gloom
at once, hath driven all despair out of my mind, and hath filled it
with the most sanguine, and, at the same time, the most reasonable
hopes of making a comfortable provision for yourself and my dear
children. In the first place, then, he will advance me a sum of money
to pay off all my debts; and this on a bond to be repaid only when I
shall become colonel of a regiment, and not before. In the next place,
he is gone this very morning to ask a company for me, which is now
vacant in the West Indies; and, as he intends to push this with all
his interest, neither he nor I have any doubt of his success. Now, my
dear, comes the third, which, though perhaps it ought to give me the
greatest joy, such is, I own, the weakness of my nature, it rends my
very heartstrings asunder. I cannot mention it, for I know it will
give you equal pain; though I know, on all proper occasions, you can
exert a manly resolution. You will not, I am convinced, oppose it,
whatever you must suffer in complying. O my dear Amelia! I must suffer
likewise; yet I have resolved to bear it. You know not what my poor
heart hath suffered since he made the proposal. It is love for you
alone which could persuade me to submit to it. Consider our situation;
consider that of our children; reflect but on those poor babes, whose
future happiness is at stake, and it must arm your resolution. It is
your interest and theirs that reconciled me to a proposal which, when
the colonel first made it, struck me with the utmost horror; he hath,
indeed, from these motives, persuaded me into a resolution which I
thought impossible for any one to have persuaded me into. O my dear
Amelia! let me entreat you to give me up to the good of your children,
as I have promised the colonel to give you up to their interest and
your own. If you refuse these terms we are still undone, for he
insists absolutely upon them. Think, then, my love, however hard they
may be, necessity compels us to submit to them. I know in what light a
woman, who loves like you, must consider such a proposal; and yet how
many instances have you of women who, from the same motives, have
submitted to the same!"
"What can you mean, Mr. Booth?" cries Amelia, trembling.
"Need I explain my meaning to you more?" answered Booth.--"Did I not
say I must give up my Amelia?"
"Give me up!" said she.
"For a time only, I mean," answered he: "for a short time perhaps. The
colonel himself will take care it shall not be long--for I know his
heart; I shall scarce have more joy in receiving you back than he will
have in restoring you to my arms. In the mean time, he will not only
be a father to my children, but a husband to you."
"A husband to me!" said Amelia.
"Yes, my dear; a kind, a fond, a tender, an affectionate husband. If I
had not the most certain assurances of this, doth my Amelia think I
could be prevailed on to leave her? No, my Amelia, he is the only man
on earth who could have prevailed on me; but I know his house, his
purse, his protection, will be all at your command. And as for any
dislike you have conceived to his wife, let not that be any objection;
for I am convinced he will not suffer her to insult you; besides, she
is extremely well bred, and, how much soever she may hate you in her
heart, she will at least treat you with civility.
"Nay, the invitation is not his, but hers; and I am convinced they
will both behave to you with the greatest friendship; his I am sure
will be sincere, as to the wife of a friend entrusted to his care; and
hers will, from good-breeding, have not only the appearances but the
effects of the truest friendship."
"I understand you, my dear, at last," said she (indeed she had rambled
into very strange conceits from some parts of his discourse); "and I
will give you my resolution in a word--I will do the duty of a wife,
and that is, to attend her husband wherever he goes."
Booth attempted to reason with her, but all to no purpose. She gave,
indeed, a quiet hearing to all he said, and even to those parts which
most displeased her ears; I mean those in which he exaggerated the
great goodness and disinterested generosity of his friend; but her
resolution remained inflexible, and resisted the force of all his
arguments with a steadiness of opposition, which it would have been
almost excusable in him to have construed into stubbornness.
The doctor arrived in the midst of the dispute; and, having heard the
merits of the cause on both sides, delivered his opinion in the
"I have always thought it, my dear children, a matter of the utmost
nicety to interfere in any differences between husband and wife; but,
since you both desire me with such earnestness to give you my
sentiments on the present contest between you, I will give you my
thoughts as well as I am able. In the first place then, can anything
be more reasonable than for a wife to desire to attend her husband? It
is, as my favourite child observes, no more than a desire to do her
duty; and I make no doubt but that is one great reason of her
insisting on it. And how can you yourself oppose it? Can love be its
own enemy? or can a husband who is fond of his wife, content himself
almost on any account with a long absence from her?"
"You speak like an angel, my dear Doctor Harrison," answered Amelia:
"I am sure, if he loved as tenderly as I do, he could on no account
submit to it."
"Pardon me, child," cries the doctor; "there are some reasons which
would not only justify his leaving you, but which must force him, if
he hath any real love for you, joined with common sense, to make that
election. If it was necessary, for instance, either to your good or to
the good of your children, he would not deserve the name of a man, I
am sure not that of a husband, if he hesitated a moment. Nay, in that
case, I am convinced you yourself would be an advocate for what you
now oppose. I fancy therefore I mistook him when I apprehended he said
that the colonel made his leaving you behind as the condition of
getting him the commission; for I know my dear child hath too much
goodness, and too much sense, and too much resolution, to prefer any
temporary indulgence of her own passions to the solid advantages of
her whole family."
"There, my dear!" cries Booth; "I knew what opinion the doctor would
be of. Nay, I am certain there is not a wise man in the kingdom who
would say otherwise."
"Don't abuse me, young gentleman," said the doctor, "with appellations
I don't deserve."
"I abuse you, my dear doctor!" cries Booth.
"Yes, my dear sir," answered the doctor; "you insinuated slily that I
was wise, which, as the world understands the phrase, I should be
ashamed of; and my comfort is that no one can accuse me justly of it.
I have just given an instance of the contrary by throwing away my
"I hope, sir," cries Booth, "that will not be the case."
"Yes, sir," answered the doctor. "I know it will be the case in the
present instance, for either you will not go at all, or my little
turtle here will go with you."
"You are in the right, doctor," cries Amelia.
"I am sorry for it," said the doctor, "for then I assure you you are
in the wrong."
"Indeed," cries Amelia, "if you knew all my reasons you would say they
were very strong ones."
"Very probably," cries the doctor. "The knowledge that they are in the
wrong is a very strong reason to some women to continue so."
"Nay, doctor," cries Amelia, "you shall never persuade me of that. I
will not believe that any human being ever did an action merely
because they knew it to be wrong."
"I am obliged to you, my dear child," said the doctor, "for declaring
your resolution of not being persuaded. Your husband would never call
me a wise man again if, after that declaration, I should attempt to
"Well, I must be content," cries Amelia, "to let you think as you
"That is very gracious, indeed," said the doctor. "Surely, in a
country where the church suffers others to think as they please, it
would be very hard if they had not themselves the same liberty. And
yet, as unreasonable as the power of controuling men's thoughts is
represented, I will shew you how you shall controul mine whenever you
"How, pray?" cries Amelia. "I should greatly esteem that power."
"Why, whenever you act like a wise woman," cries the doctor, "you will
force me to think you so: and, whenever you are pleased to act as you
do now, I shall be obliged, whether I will or no, to think as I do
"Nay, dear doctor," cries Booth, "I am convinced my Amelia will never
do anything to forfeit your good opinion. Consider but the cruel
hardship of what she is to undergo, and you will make allowances for
the difficulty she makes in complying. To say the truth, when I
examine my own heart, I have more obligations to her than appear at
first sight; for, by obliging me to find arguments to persuade her,
she hath assisted me in conquering myself. Indeed, if she had shewn
more resolution, I should have shewn less."
"So you think it necessary, then," said the doctor, "that there should
be one fool at least in every married couple. A mighty resolution,
truly! and well worth your valuing yourself upon, to part with your
wife for a few months in order to make the fortune of her and your
children; when you are to leave her, too, in the care and protection
of a friend that gives credit to the old stories of friendship, and
doth an honour to human nature. What, in the name of goodness! do
either of you think that you have made an union to endure for ever?
How will either of you bear that separation which must, some time or
other, and perhaps very soon, be the lot of one of you? Have you
forgot that you are both mortal? As for Christianity, I see you have
resigned all pretensions to it; for I make no doubt but that you have
so set your hearts on the happiness you enjoy here together, that
neither of you ever think a word of hereafter."
Amelia now burst into tears; upon which Booth begged the doctor to
proceed no farther. Indeed, he would not have wanted the caution; for,
however blunt he appeared in his discourse, he had a tenderness of
heart which is rarely found among men; for which I know no other
reason than that true goodness is rarely found among them; for I am
firmly persuaded that the latter never possessed any human mind in any
degree, without being attended by as large a portion of the former.
Thus ended the conversation on this subject; what followed is not
worth relating, till the doctor carried off Booth with him to take a
walk in the Park.
_A conversation between Amelia and Dr Harrison, with the result_.
Amelia, being left alone, began to consider seriously of her
condition; she saw it would be very difficult to resist the
importunities of her husband, backed by the authority of the doctor,
especially as she well knew how unreasonable her declarations must
appear to every one who was ignorant of her real motives to persevere
in it. On the other hand, she was fully determined, whatever might be
the consequence, to adhere firmly to her resolution of not accepting
the colonel's invitation.
When she had turned the matter every way in her mind, and vexed and
tormented herself with much uneasy reflexion upon it, a thought at
last occurred to her which immediately brought her some comfort. This
was, to make a confidant of the doctor, and to impart to him the whole
truth. This method, indeed, appeared to her now to be so adviseable,
that she wondered she had not hit upon it sooner; but it is the nature
of despair to blind us to all the means of safety, however easy and
apparent they may be.
Having fixed her purpose in her mind, she wrote a short note to the
doctor, in which she acquainted him that she had something of great
moment to impart to him, which must be an entire secret from her
husband, and begged that she might have an opportunity of
communicating it as soon as possible.
Doctor Harrison received the letter that afternoon, and immediately
complied with Amelia's request in visiting her. He found her drinking
tea with her husband and Mrs. Atkinson, and sat down and joined the
Soon after the removal of the tea-table Mrs. Atkinson left the room.
The doctor then, turning to Booth, said, "I hope, captain, you have a
true sense of the obedience due to the church, though our clergy do
not often exact it. However, it is proper to exercise our power
sometimes, in order to remind the laity of their duty. I must tell
you, therefore, that I have some private business with your wife; and
I expect your immediate absence."
"Upon my word, doctor," answered Booth, "no Popish confessor, I firmly
believe, ever pronounced his will and pleasure with more gravity and
dignity; none therefore was ever more immediately obeyed than you
shall be." Booth then quitted the room, and desired the doctor to
recall him when his business with the lady was over.
Doctor Harrison promised he would; and then turning to Amelia he said,
"Thus far, madam, I have obeyed your commands, and am now ready to
receive the important secret which you mention in your note." Amelia
now informed her friend of all she knew, all she had seen and heard,
and all that she suspected, of the colonel. The good man seemed
greatly shocked at the relation, and remained in a silent
astonishment. Upon which Amelia said, "Is villany so rare a thing,
sir, that it should so much surprize you?" "No, child," cries he; "but
I am shocked at seeing it so artfully disguised under the appearance
of so much virtue; and, to confess the truth, I believe my own vanity
is a little hurt in having been so grossly imposed upon. Indeed, I had
a very high regard for this man; for, besides the great character
given him by your husband, and the many facts I have heard so much
redounding to his honour, he hath the fairest and most promising
appearance I have ever yet beheld. A good face, they say, is a letter
of recommendation. O Nature, Nature, why art thou so dishonest as ever
to send men with these false recommendations into the world?"
"Indeed, my dear sir, I begin to grow entirely sick of it," cries
Amelia, "for sure all mankind almost are villains in their hearts."
"Fie, child!" cries the doctor. "Do not make a conclusion so much to
the dishonour of the great Creator. The nature of man is far from
being in itself evil: it abounds with benevolence, charity, and pity,
coveting praise and honour, and shunning shame and disgrace. Bad
education, bad habits, and bad customs, debauch our nature, and drive
it headlong as it were into vice. The governors of the world, and I am
afraid the priesthood, are answerable for the badness of it. Instead
of discouraging wickedness to the utmost of their power, both are too
apt to connive at it. In the great sin of adultery, for instance; hath
the government provided any law to punish it? or doth the priest take
any care to correct it? on the contrary, is the most notorious
practice of it any detriment to a man's fortune or to his reputation
in the world? doth it exclude him from any preferment in the state, I
had almost said in the church? is it any blot in his escutcheon? any
bar to his honour? is he not to be found every day in the assemblies
of women of the highest quality? in the closets of the greatest men,
and even at the tables of bishops? What wonder then if the community
in general treat this monstrous crime as a matter of jest, and that
men give way to the temptations of a violent appetite, when the
indulgence of it is protected by law and countenanced by custom? I am
convinced there are good stamina in the nature of this very man; for
he hath done acts of friendship and generosity to your husband before
he could have any evil design on your chastity; and in a Christian
society, which I no more esteem this nation to be than I do any part
of Turkey, I doubt not but this very colonel would have made a worthy
and valuable member."
"Indeed, my dear sir," cries Amelia, "you are the wisest as well as
best man in the world--"
"Not a word of my wisdom," cries the doctor. "I have not a grain--I am
not the least versed in the Chrematistic [Footnote: The art of getting
wealth is so called by Aristotle in his Politics.] art, as an old
friend of mine calls it. I know not how to get a shilling, nor how to
keep it in my pocket if I had it."
"But you understand human nature to the bottom," answered Amelia; "and
your mind is the treasury of all ancient and modern learning."
"You are a little flatterer," cries the doctor; "but I dislike you not
for it. And, to shew you I don't, I will return your flattery, and
tell you you have acted with great prudence in concealing this affair
from your husband; but you have drawn me into a scrape; for I have
promised to dine with this fellow again to-morrow, and you have made
it impossible for me to keep my word."
"Nay, but, dear sir," cries Amelia, "for Heaven's sake take care! If
you shew any kind of disrespect to the colonel, my husband may be led
into some suspicion--especially after our conference."
"Fear nothing, child. I will give him no hint; and, that I may be
certain of not doing it, I will stay away. You do not think, I hope,
that I will join in a chearful conversation with such a man; that I
will so far betray my character as to give any countenance to such
flagitious proceedings. Besides, my promise was only conditional; and
I do not know whether I could otherwise have kept it; for I expect an
old friend every day who comes to town twenty miles on foot to see me,
whom I shall not part with on any account; for, as he is very poor, he
may imagine I treat him with disrespect."
"Well, sir," cries Amelia, "I must admire you and love you for your
"Must you love me?" cries the doctor. "I could cure you now in a
minute if I pleased."
"Indeed, I defy you, sir," said Amelia.
"If I could but persuade you," answered he, "that I thought you not
handsome, away would vanish all ideas of goodness in an instant.
Confess honestly, would they not?"
"Perhaps I might blame the goodness of your eyes," replied Amelia;
"and that is perhaps an honester confession than you expected. But do,
pray, sir, be serious, and give me your advice what to do. Consider
the difficult game I have to play; for I am sure, after what I have
told you, you would not even suffer me to remain under the roof of
"No, indeed, would I not," said the doctor, "whilst I have a house of
my own to entertain you."
"But how to dissuade my husband," continued she, "without giving him
any suspicion of the real cause, the consequences of his guessing at
which I tremble to think upon."
"I will consult my pillow upon it," said the doctor; "and in the
morning you shall see me again. In the mean time be comforted, and
compose the perturbations of your mind."
"Well, sir," said she, "I put my whole trust in you."
"I am sorry to hear it," cries the doctor. "Your innocence may give
you a very confident trust in a much more powerful assistance.
However, I will do all I can to serve you: and now, if you please, we
will call back your husband; for, upon my word, he hath shewn a good
catholic patience. And where is the honest serjeant and his wife? I am
pleased with the behaviour of you both to that worthy fellow, in
opposition to the custom of the world; which, instead of being formed
on the precepts of our religion to consider each other as brethren,
teaches us to regard those who are a degree below us, either in rank
or fortune, as a species of beings of an inferior order in the
The captain now returned into the room, as did the serjeant and Mrs.
Atkinson; and the two couple, with the doctor, spent the evening
together in great mirth and festivity; for the doctor was one of the
best companions in the world, and a vein of chearfulness, good humour,
and pleasantry, ran through his conversation, with which it was
impossible to resist being pleased.
_Containing as surprizing an accident as is perhaps recorded in
Booth had acquainted the serjeant with the great goodness of Colonel
James, and with the chearful prospects which he entertained from it.
This Atkinson, behind the curtain, communicated to his wife. The
conclusion which she drew from it need scarce be hinted to the reader.
She made, indeed, no scruple of plainly and bluntly telling her
husband that the colonel had a most manifest intention to attack the
chastity of Amelia.
This thought gave the poor serjeant great uneasiness, and, after
having kept him long awake, tormented him in his sleep with a most
horrid dream, in which he imagined that he saw the colonel standing by
the bedside of Amelia, with a naked sword in his hand, and threatening
to stab her instantly unless she complied with his desires. Upon this
the serjeant started up in his bed, and, catching his wife by the
throat, cried out, "D--n you, put up your sword this instant, and
leave the room, or by Heaven I'll drive mine to your heart's blood!"
This rough treatment immediately roused Mrs. Atkinson from her sleep,
who no sooner perceived the position of her husband, and felt his hand
grasping her throat, than she gave a violent shriek and presently fell
into a fit.
Atkinson now waked likewise, and soon became sensible of the violent
agitations of his wife. He immediately leapt out of bed, and running
for a bottle of water, began to sprinkle her very plentifully; but all
to no purpose: she neither spoke nor gave any symptoms of recovery
Atkinson then began to roar aloud; upon which Booth, who lay under
him, jumped from his bed, and ran up with the lighted candle in his
hand. The serjeant had no sooner taken the candle than he ran with it
to the bed-side. Here he beheld a sight which almost deprived him of
his senses. The bed appeared to be all over blood, and his wife
weltering in the midst of it. Upon this the serjeant, almost in a
frenzy, cried out, "O Heavens! I have killed my wife. I have stabbed
her! I have stabbed her!" "What can be the meaning of all this?" said
Booth. "O, sir!" cries the serjeant, "I dreamt I was rescuing your
lady from the hands of Colonel James, and I have killed my poor
wife."--Here he threw himself upon the bed by her, caught her in his
arms, and behaved like one frantic with despair.
By this time Amelia had thrown on a wrapping-gown, and was come up
into the room, where the serjeant and his wife were lying on the bed
and Booth standing like a motionless statue by the bed-side. Amelia
had some difficulty to conquer the effects of her own surprize on this
occasion; for a more ghastly and horrible sight than the bed presented
could not be conceived.
Amelia sent Booth to call up the maid of the house, in order to lend
her assistance; but before his return Mrs. Atkinson began to come to
herself; and soon after, to the inexpressible joy of the serjeant, it
was discovered she had no wound. Indeed, the delicate nose of Amelia
soon made that discovery, which the grosser smell of the serjeant, and
perhaps his fright, had prevented him from making; for now it appeared
that the red liquor with which the bed was stained, though it may,
perhaps, sometimes run through the veins of a fine lady, was not what
is properly called blood, but was, indeed, no other than cherry-
brandy, a bottle of which Mrs. Atkinson always kept in her room to be
ready for immediate use, and to which she used to apply for comfort in
all her afflictions. This the poor serjeant, in his extreme hurry, had
mistaken for a bottle of water. Matters were now soon accommodated,
and no other mischief appeared to be done, unless to the bed-cloaths.
Amelia and Booth returned back to their room, and Mrs. Atkinson rose
from her bed in order to equip it with a pair of clean sheets.
And thus this adventure would have ended without producing any kind of
consequence, had not the words which the serjeant uttered in his
frenzy made some slight impression on Booth; so much, at least, as to
awaken his curiosity; so that in the morning when he arose he sent for
the serjeant, and desired to hear the particulars of this dream, since
Amelia was concerned in it.
The serjeant at first seemed unwilling to comply, and endeavoured to
make excuses. This, perhaps, encreased Booth's curiosity, and he said,
"Nay, I am resolved to hear it. Why, you simpleton, do you imagine me
weak enough to be affected by a dream, however terrible it may be?"
"Nay, sir," cries the serjeant, "as for that matter, dreams have
sometimes fallen out to be true. One of my own, I know, did so,
concerning your honour; for, when you courted my young lady, I dreamt
you was married to her; and yet it was at a time when neither I
myself, nor any of the country, thought you would ever obtain her. But
Heaven forbid this dream should ever come to pass!" "Why, what was
this dream?" cries Booth. "I insist on knowing."
"To be sure, sir," cries the serjeant, "I must not refuse you; but I
hope you will never think any more of it. Why then, sir, I dreamt that
your honour was gone to the West Indies, and had left my lady in the
care of Colonel James; and last night I dreamt the colonel came to my
lady's bed-side, offering to ravish her, and with a drawn sword in his
hand, threatening to stab her that moment unless she would comply with
his desires. How I came to be by I know not; but I dreamt I rushed
upon him, caught him by the throat, and swore I would put him to death
unless he instantly left the room. Here I waked, and this was my
dream. I never paid any regard to a dream in my life--but, indeed, I
never dreamt anything so very plain as this. It appeared downright
reality. I am sure I have left the marks of my fingers in my wife's
throat. I would riot have taken a hundred pound to have used her so."
"Faith," cries Booth, "it was an odd dream, and not so easily to be
accounted for as that you had formerly of my marriage; for, as
Shakespear says, dreams denote a foregone conclusion. Now it is
impossible you should ever have thought of any such matter as this."
"However, sir," cries the serjeant, "it is in your honour's power to
prevent any possibility of this dream's coming to pass, by not leaving
my lady to the care of the colonel; if you must go from her, certainly
there are other places where she may be with great safety; and, since
my wife tells me that my lady is so very unwilling, whatever reasons
she may have, I hope your honour will oblige her."
"Now I recollect it," cries Booth, "Mrs. Atkinson hath once or twice
dropt some disrespectful words of the colonel. He hath done something
to disoblige her."
"He hath indeed, sir," replied the serjeant: "he hath said that of her
which she doth not deserve, and for which, if he had not been my
superior officer, I would have cut both his ears off. Nay, for that
matter, he can speak ill of other people besides her."
"Do you know, Atkinson," cries Booth, very gravely, "that you are
talking of the dearest friend I have?"