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kled brows, and foaming lips, roars forth treason and nonsense in a political argument with some fair one, of a different principle.
Or, if the critic be a whig, and consequently dislikes such kind of similes, as being too favourable to Jacobitism, let him be contented with the following story:
I happened in my youth to sit behind two ladies in a side-box at a play, where, in the balcony on the opposite side was placed the inimitable B C—s, in company with a young fellow of no very formal, or indeed sober, appearance. One of the ladies, I remember, said to the other—‘Did you ever see any thing look so modest and so innocent as that girl over the way? what pity it is such a creature should be in the way of ruin, as I am afraid she is, by her being alone with that young fellow!” Now this lady was no bad physiognomist; for it was impossible to conceive a greater appearance of modesty, innocence, and simplicity, than what nature had displayed in the countenance of that girl; and yet, all appearances notwithstanding, I o (remember critic, it was in my youth,) had a few mornings before seen that very identical picture of all those engaging qualities, in bed with a rake at a bagnio, smoking tobacco, drinking punch, talking obscenity, and swearing and cursing with all the impudence and impiety of the lowest and most abandoned trull of a soldier.
CHAPTER VII. In which Miss JMatthews begins her history.
Miss Matthews having barred the door on the inside as securely as it was before barred on the outside, proceeded as follows:
‘You may imagine, I am going to begin my history at the time when you left the country; but I cannot help reminding you of something which happened before. You will soon recollect the incident; but I believe you little know the consequence either at that time or since. Alas! I could keep a secret then now I have no secrets; the world knows all ; and it is not worth my while to conceal anything. Well!—You will not wonder, I believe.—I protest I can hardly tell it you, even now.—But I am convinced you have too good an opinion of yourself to be surprised at any conquest you may have made. Few men want that good opinion—and perhaps very few had ever more reason for it. Indeed, Will, you was a charming fellow in those days; nay, you are not much altered for the worse now, at least in the opinion of some women: for your complexion and features are grown much more masculine than they were: Here Booth made her a low bow, most probably with a compliment; and after a
little hesitation, she again proceeded— “Do you remember, a contest which happened at an assembly, betwixt myself and Miss Johnson, about standing uppermost? you was then my partner; and young Williams danced with the other lady. The particulars are not now worth mentioning, though I suppose you have long since forgot them. Let it suffice that you supported my claim, and Williams very sneaking gave up that of his partner, who was, wi much difficulty, afterwards prevailed to dance with him. You said—I am sure I repeat the words exactly, that “you would not for the world affront any lady there; but that you thought you might, without any such danger declare that there was no assembly in wilich that lady, meaning your humble servant, was not worthy of the u permost place, nor will I, said you, suffer the first duke in England, when she is at the uprmost end of the room, and hath called er dance, to lead his partner above her.’ ‘What made this the more pleasing to me was, that I secretly hated Miss Johnson. Will you have the reason? why, then, I will tell you honestly, she was my rival;-that word perhaps astonishes you, as you never, I believe, heard of any one who made his addresses to me; and indeed my heart was, till that night, entirely indifferent to all mankind. I mean, then, that she was my rival for praise, for beauty, for dress, for fortune, and consequently for admiration. My triumph on this conquest is not to be expressed, any more than my delight in the person to whom I chiefly owed it. The former, I fancy, was visible to the whole company; and I desired it should be so; but the latter was so well concealed, that no one, I am confident, took any notice of it. And yet you appeared to me that night to be an angel. You looked, you danced, you spoke —every thing charmed me.” ‘Good heavens!' cries Booth, “is it possible you should do me so much unmerited honour, and I should be dunce, enough not to perceive the least symptom ' “I assure you,” answered she, “I did all I could to prevent you; and yet I almost hated you for not seeing through what I strove to hide. Why, Mr. Booth, was you not more quick-sighted —I will answer for you—your affections were more happily disposed of to a much better woman than myself, whom you married soon afterwards. I should ask you for her, Mr. Booth; I should have asked you for her before; but I am unworthy of asking for her, or of calling her my acquaintance.” ooth stopt her short, as she was running into another fit of passion, and begged her to omit all former matters, and acquaint him with that part of her history to which he was an entire stranger.
She then renewed her discourse, as follows: “You know, Mr. Booth, I soon afterwards left that town, upon the death of my
ndmother, and returned home to my
father's house; where I had not been long arrived, before some troops of dragoons came to quarter in our neighbourhood. Among the officers, there was a cornet, whose detested name was Hebbers, a name I could scarce repeat, had I not, at the same time, the pleasure to reflect that he is now no more. My father, you know, who is a hearty well-wisher to the present government, used always to invite the officers to his house; so did he these. Nor was it long before this cornet, in so particular a manner, recommended himself to the poor old gentleman, (I cannot think of him without tears,) that our house became his principal habitation ; and he was rarely at his quarters, unless when his superior officers obliged him to be there. I shall say nothing of his person, nor could that be any recommendation to a man; it was such, however, as no woman could have made an objection to. Nature had certainly wrapt up her odious work in a most beautiful covering. To say the truth, he was the handsomest man, except one only, that I ever saw—I assure you, I have seen a handsomer— but—well—He had, besides, all the qualifications of a gentleman: was genteel, and extremely polite: spoke F rench well, and danced to a miracle; but what chiefly recommended him to my father, was his skill in music, of which, you know, that dear man was the most violent lover. I wish he was not too susceptible of flattery on that head; for I have heard Hebbers .. greatly commend my father's performance, and have observed that the good man was wonderfully pleased with such commendations. To say the truth, it is the only way I can account for the extraordinary friendship which my father conceived for Jais person; such a friendship, that he at last became a part of our family.
‘This very circumstance, which, as I am convinced, strongly recommended him to my father, had the very contrary effect with me; I had never any delight in music, and it was not without much difficulty I was prevailed on to learn to play on the harpsichord, in which I had made a very slender progress. As this man, therefore, was frequently the occasion of my being importuned to play against my will, I began to entertain some dislike for him on that account; and as to his person, I assure you, I long continued to look on it with great indifference.
‘How strange will the art of this man appear to you presently, who had sufficient address to convert that very circumstance, which had at first occasioned my dislike, into the first seeds of affection for him.
‘You have often, I believe, heard my sister Betty play on the harpsichord; she was, indeed, reputed the best performer in the whole country. “I was the farthest in the world from regarding this persection of her’s with envy. In reality, perhaps, I despised all perfection of this kind; at least, as I had neither skill nor ambition to excel this way, I looked upon it as a matter of mere indifference. “Hebbers first put this emulation in my head. He took great pains to persuade me that I had much greater abilities of the musical kind than my sister; and that I might, with the greatest ease, if I pleased, excel her; offering me, at the same time, his assistance, if I would resolve to undertake it. “When he had sufficiently inflamed my ambition, in which, perhaps, he found too little difficulty, the continual praises of my sister, which before I had disregarded, became more and more nauseous in my ears; and the rather, as music being the favourite passion of my father, I became apprehensive, (not without frequent hints from Hebbers, of that nature,) that she might gain too great a preference in his favour. * #. my harpsichord, then, I applied myself, night and day, with such industry and attention, that I soon began to perform in a tolerable manner. I do not absolutely say I excelled my sister; for many were of a disferent opinion; but, indeed, there might be some partiality in all that. “Hebbers, at least, declared himself on my side, and nobody could doubt his judgment. He asserted openly, that I|'. lil the better manner of the two; and one day when I was playing to him alone, he affected to burst into a rapture of admiration, and squeezing me gently by the hand, said, There, madam, I now declare you excel our sister as much in music, as, added he, in a whispering sigh, you do her, and all the world, in every other charm. “No woman can bear any superiority in whatever thing she desires to excel in. now began to hate all the admirers of my sister, to be uneasy at every commendation bestowed on her skill in music, and consequently to love Hebbers for the preference which he gave to mine. “It was now that I began to survey the handsome person of Hebbers with pleasure. And here, Mr. Booth, I will betray to you the grand secret of our sex.-Many women, I believe, do, with great innocence, and even with great indifference, converse with men of the finest persons: but this I am confident may be affirmed with truth, that, when once a woman comes to ask this question of herself; Is the man whom I like for some other reason, handsome her fate, and his too, very strongly depend on her answering in the affirmative. a
“Hebbers no sooner perceived that he had made an impression on my heart, of which, I am satisfied I gave him too undeniable tokens, than he affected, on a sudden, to shun me in the most apparent manner. He wore the most melancholy air in my presence, and, by his dejected looks and sighs, firmly persuaded me, that there was some secret sorrow labouring in his bosom; nor will it be difficult for you to imagine to what cause I imputed it.
“Whilst I was wishing for his declaration of a passion in which I thought I could not be mistaken, and, at the same time trembling, whenever we met, with the apprehension of this very declaration, the widow Carey came from London to make us a visit, intending to stay the whole summer at our house.
“Those who know Mrs. Carey, will
scarce think I do her an injury, in saying, she is far from being handsome; and yet she is as finished a coquette as if she had the highest beauty to support that character. But, perhaps, you have seen her; and, if you have, I am convinced you will readily subscribe to my opinion.’
Booth answered, he had not; and then she proceeded as in the following chapter.
CHAPTER VIII. The history of Miss Matthews continued.
‘This young lady had not been three days with us, before Hebbers grew so particular with her, that it was generally observed; and my poor father, who, I believe, loved the cornet as if he had been his son, began to jest on the occasion, as one who would not be displeased at throwing a good jointure into the arms of his friend.
‘You will easily guess, sir, the disposition of my mind on this occasion ; but I was not permitted to suffer long under it; for one day, when Hebbers was alone with me, he took an opportunity of expressing his abhorrence at the thoughts of marrying for interest, contrary to his inclinations. I was warm on the subject, and, I believe, went so far as to say, that none but fools and villains did so. He replied with a sigh, Yes, madam, but what would you think of a man whose heart is all the while bleeding for another woman, to whom he would willingly sacrifice the world; but, because he must sacrifice her interest as well as his own, never durst even give her a hint of that passion which was preving on his very vitals: Do you believe, Miss Fanny, there is such a wretch on earth 2 I answered with an assumed coldness, I did not believe there was. He then took me gently by the hand, and, with a look so tender, that I cannot describe it, he vowed he was himself that wretch.
Then starting, as if conscious of an error committed, he cried with a faltering voice, What am I saying? pardon me, Miss Fanny, since I only beg your pity; I never will ask for more.—At these words, hearing my father coming up, I betrayed myself entirely, is, indeed, I had not done it before. I hastily withdrew my hand, crying, Hush' for heaven's sake, my father is just coming in ; my blushes, my look. and my accent telling him, I suppose, all which he wished to know. ‘A few days now brought matters to an eclaircissement between us; the being undeceived in what had given me so much uneasiness now gave me a pleasure too sweet to be resisted. To triumph over the widow, for whom I had, in a very short time, contracted a most inveterate hatred, was a pride not to be described. Hebbers appeared to me to be the cause of all this happiness. I doubted not but that he had the most disinterested passion for me, and thought him every way worthy of its return. I did return it, and accepted him as my lover. ‘He declared the greatest apprehensions of my father's suspicion, though I am convinced these were causeless, had his designs been honourable. To blind these, I consented that he should carry on sham addresses to the widow, who was now a constant jest between us, and he pretended, from time to time, to acquaint me faithfully with every thing that passed at his interviews with her; nor was this faithless woman wanting in her part of the deceit. She carried herself to me all the while with a show of affection, and pretended to have the utmost friendship for me. But such are the friendships of women' At this remark, Booth, though enough affected at some parts of the story, had great difficulty to refrain from laughter; but, by good luck, he escaped being perceived ; and the lady went on without interruption. ‘ I am come now to a part of my narrative in which it is impossible to be particular, without being tedious; sor as to the commerce between lovers, it is, I believe, much the same in all cases; and there is, perhaps, scarce a single phrase that hath not been repeated ten millions of times. ‘One thinor, however, as I strongly remarked it then, so I will repeat it to you now. In all our conversations, in moments when he fell into the warmest raptures and expressed the greatest uneasiness at the delay of his joys, he seldom mentioned the word marriagre; and never once solicited a day for that purpose. Indeed, women cannot be cautioned too much against such lovers;
for though I have heard, and perhaps truly,
of some of our sex, of a virtue so exalted that it is proof against every, temptation; yet the generality, I am afraid, are too much in the power of a man to whom they have owned an affection. What is called being upon a i. footing, is, perhaps, being upon a very dangerous one; and a woman who hath given her consent to marry, can hardly be said to be safe till she is married. “And now, sir, I hasten to the period of my ruin. We had a wedding in our family; my musical sister was married to a young fellow as musical as herself. Such a match, you may be sure, amongst other festivities, must have a ball. Oh! Mr. Booth, shall modesty forbid me to remark to you what passed on that occasion? But why do I mention modesty, who have no pretensions to it? Every thing was said and practised, on that occasion, as if the purpose had been to inflame the mind of every woman present. That effect, I freely own to you, it had with me. Music, dancing, wine, and the most luscious conversation, in which my poor dear father innocently joined, raised ideas in me of which I shall for ever repent; and I wished, (why should I deny it?) that it had been my wedding instead of my sister's. “The villain Hebbers danced with me that night, and he lost no opportunity of improving the occasion. In short, the dreadful evening came. My father, though it was a very unusual thing with him, grew intoxicated with liquor; most of the men were in the same condition, nay, I myself drank more than I was accustomed to, enough to inflame, though not to disorder. I lost my former bed-sellow, mysister, and,-you may, I think, guess the rest,-the villain found means to steal to my chamber, and I was undone. ‘Two months I passed in this detested commerce, buying, even then, my guilty, half-tasted pleasures at too dear a rate, with continual horror and apprehension; but what have I paid since, what do I pay now, Mr. Booth 2 O, may my fate be a warning to every woman to keep her innocence, to resist every temptation, since she is certain to repent of the foolish bargain. May it be a waruing to her to deal with mankind with care and caution; to shun the least approaches of dishonour, and never to confide too much in the honesty of a man, nor in her own strength, where she has so much at stake ; let her remember she walks on a precipice, and the bottomless pit is to receive her, if she slips; nay, if she makes but one false step. ‘I ask your pardon, Mr. Booth, I might have spared these exhortations, since no woman hears me; but you will not wonder at seeing me affected on this occasion.” Booth declared he was much more surp. at her being able so well to preserve er temper in recounting her story.
‘O, sir,' answered she, “I am at length reconciled to my fate; and I can now die with pleasure, since I die revenged. I am not one of those mean wretches who can sit down and lament their misfortunes. If I ever shed tears, they are the tears of indignation—but I will proceed. “It was my sate now to solicit marriage; and I failed not to do it in the most earnest manner. He answered me at first with procrastinations, declaring, from time to time, he would mention it to my father; and still excusing himself for not doing it. At last, he thought on an expedient to obtain a longer reprieve. This was by pretending, that he should, in a very few weeks, be preferred to the command of a troop ; and then, he said, he could, with some confidence, P. the match. “In this delay, I was persuaded to acquiesce; and was indeed pretty easy; for I had not yet the least mistrust of his honour; but what words can paint my sensations, when one morning he came into my room, with all the marks of dejection in his countenance, and throwing an open letter on the table, said, There is news, madam, in that letter, which I am unable to tell you; nor can it give you more concern than it hath given me. ‘This letter was srom his captain, to acquaint him, that the rout, as they call it, was arrived, and that they were to march within two days. And this, I am since convinced, was what he expected, instead of the preferment which had been made the pretence of delaying our marriage. “The shock which I felt at reading this was inexpressible, occasioned indeed principally by the departure of a villain whom i. However, I soon acquired sufficient presence of mind to remember the main point; and I now insisted peremptorily on his making me immediately his wife, whatever might be the consequence. ‘He seemed thunderstruck at this proposal, being, I suppose, destitute of any excuse: but I was too impatient to wait for an answer, and cried out with much eagerness, sure you cannot hesitate a moment upon this matter—Hesitate! madam replied he—what you ask is impossible—is this a time for me to mention a thing of this kind to your father?—My eyes were now opened all at once—I fell into a rage little short of madness. Tell not me, I cried, of impossibilities, nor times, nor of my father, my honour, my reputation, my all are at stake.—I will have no excuse, no delay—make me your wife this instant, or I will proclaim you over the face of the whole earth for the greatest of villains.—He answered, with a kind of sneer, what will you proclaim, madam?—whose honour will you injure ? My tongue faltered when I offered to reply, and I fell into a violent agony, which ended in a fit; nor dol ... any thing more that passed, till I found myself in the arms of my poor affrighted father. ‘0, Mr. Booth ! what was then my situation, I tremble even now from the reflection.—I must stop a moment. I can go no farther.” Booth attempted all in his power to soothe her; and she soon recovered her powers, and proceeded in her story.
CHAPTER IX. In which JMiss Matthews concludes her relation.
“Before I had recovered my senses, I had sufficiently betrayed myself to the best of men, who, instead of upbraiding me, or exerting any anger, endeavored to comfort me all he could, with assurances that all should yet be well. This goodness of his affected me with inexpressible sensations; I prostrated myself before him, embraced and kissed his knees, and almost dissolved in tears, and in a degree of tenderness hardly to be conceived But I am running into too minute descriptions. “Hebbers, seeing me in a fit, had left me, and sent one of the servants to take care of me. He then ran away like a thief from the house, without taking his leave of my father, or once thanking him for all his civilities. He did not stop at his quarters, but made directly to London, apprehensive, I believe, either of my father's or brother's resentment; for I am convinced he is a coward. Indeed his fear of my brother was utterly groundless; for I believe he would rather have thanked any man who had destroyed me ; and I am sure I am not in the least behindhand with him in good wishes. “All his inveteracy to me, had, however, no effect on my father, at least at that time; for though the good man took sufficient occasions to reprimand me for my past offence, he could not be brought to abandon me. A treaty of marriage was now set on foot, in which my father himself offered me to Hebbers, with a fortune superior to that which had been given with my sister: nor could all my brother's remonstrances against it, as an act of the highest injustice, avail. “Hebbers entered into the treaty, though not with much warmth. He had even the assurance to make additional demands on my father, which being complied with, every thing was concluded, and the villain once more received into the house. He soon found means to obtain my forgiveness of his former behaviour; indeed, he convinced me, so foolishly blind is female love, that he had never been to blame. “When every thing was ready for our nuptials and the day of the ceremony was
to be appointed, in the midst of my happiness, I received a letter from an unknown hand, acquainting me, (guess, Mr. Booth, how I was shocked at receiving it,) that Mr. Hebbers was already married to a wo– man in a distant part of the kingdom. ‘I will not tire you with all that passed at our next interview. I communicated the letter to Hebbers, who, after some little hesitation, owned the fact, and not only owned it, but had the address to improve it to his own advantage, to make it the means of satisfying me concerning all his former delays; which, to say the truth, I was not so much displeased at imputing to any degree of villany, as I should have been to impute it to the want of a sufficient warmth of affection; and though the disappointment of all my hopes, at the very instant of their expected fruition, threw me into the most violent disorders; yet, when I came a little to myself, he had no great difficulty to persuade me that in every instance, with regard to me, Hebbers had acted from no other motive than from the most ardent and ungovernable love. And there is, I believe, no crime which a woman will not forgive when she can derive it from that fountain. In short, I forgave him all, and am willing to persuade myself I am not weaker than the rest of my sex. Indeed, Mr. Booth, he hath a bewitching tongue, and is master of an address that no woman could resist. I do assure you, the charms of his person are his least perfection, at least in my eye.” Here i.smiled, but happily without her perceiving it. ‘A fresh difficulty, (continued she,) now arose. This was to excuse the delay of the ceremony to my father, who every day very earnestly urged it. This made me so very uneasy, that I at last listened to a proposal, which, if any one, in the days of my innocence, or even a few days before, had assured me I could have submitted to have thought of, I should have treated the supposition with the highest contempt and indignation; nay, I scarce reflect on it now with more horror than astonishment. In short, I agreed to run away with him. . To leave my father, my reputation, every thing which was or ought to have been dear to me, and to live with this villain as a mistress, since I could not be his wife. “Was not this an obligation of the highest and tenderest kind, and had I not reason to expect every return in the man's power on whom I had conferred it? “I will make short of the remainder of my story, for what is there of a woman worth relating, after what I have told you? “Above a year I lived with this man in an obscure court in London, during which time I had a child by him, whom Heaven, I thank it, hath been pleased to take to itself.