Infomotions, Inc.Life's Progress Through The Passions Or, The Adventures of Natura / Haywood, Eliza Fowler, 1693-1756



Author: Haywood, Eliza Fowler, 1693-1756
Title: Life's Progress Through The Passions Or, The Adventures of Natura
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
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Title: Life's Progress Through The Passions
       Or, The Adventures of Natura

Author: Eliza Fowler Haywood

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Language: English

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April 2, 1748.

The late great Demand for the FORTUNATE FOUNDLINGS, occasioning it to
be out of Print sooner than was expected; this is to advertise the
Public, that a new Edition of that Book is now in the Press, and will
be published the Beginning of next Month.

       *       *       *       *       *

LIFE's
PROGRESS
THROUGH THE
PASSIONS:

OR, THE
ADVENTURES
OF
NATURA.


By the Author of
The FORTUNATE FOUNDLINGS.

[Illustration: Portrait of the printer]

LONDON:
Printed by T. Gardner, and Sold at his Printing-Office, at Cowley's
Head, opposite St. Clement's Church, in the Strand.
M,DCC,XLVIII.

       *       *       *       *       *

Just Published by T. Gardner,

In Four Beautiful Pocket Volumes,
(Price Twelve Shillings bound.)
Correctly printed from the Octavo Edition,
(With New Engraved Frontispieces,)

The FEMALE SPECTATOR,
COMPLEAT.

  'The great Encomiums bestowed on this Work by some of the most
  distinguished Judges, have been so frequently inserted in all the
  public Papers, that it is presumed no one can be unacquainted with
  them, and therefore are thought needless here to be
  particularized: But that so useful a Work may be more universally
  read, (especially by the younger and politer Sort of Ladies, for
  whom it is more peculiarly adapted,) it is now printed in the
  above-mentioned Size, which will be less cumbersome to them, and
  the Expence being reduced to one half of what the Octavo Edition
  sells at, it may be more easily purchased The great Encomiums
  bestowed on this Work by some of the most distinguished Judges,
  have been so frequently inserted in all the public Papers, that it
  is presumed no one can be unacquainted with them, and therefore
  are thought needless here to be particularized: But that so useful
  a Work may be more universally read, (especially by the younger
  and politer Sort of Ladies, for whom it is more peculiarly
  adapted,) it is now printed in the above-mentioned Size, which
  will be less cumbersome to them, and the Expence being reduced to
  one half of what the Octavo Edition sells at, it may be more
  easily purchased'

The above Work is printed in a larger Letter, in Octavo, Price 1l. 4s.
bound.




CONTENTS.


INTRODUCTION, Page 1.


BOOK the First.


CHAP. I.

Shews, in the example of Natura, how from our very birth, the
passions, to which the human soul is incident, are discoverable in us;
and how far the organs of sense, or what is called the constitution,
has an effect over us, Page 4.


CHAP. II.

Contains some proofs by what swift degrees the passions gain an
ascendant over the mind, and grow up in proportion with our reason,
Page 7.


CHAP. III.

The early influence which the difference of sex excites, is here
exemplified, in the fond, but innocent affection of Natura and Delia,
Page 21.


CHAP. IV.

Shews, that till we arrive at a certain age, the impressions made on
us are easily erased; and also that when those which bear the name of
love are once rooted in the mind, there are no lengths to which we may
not be transported by that passion, if great care is not taken to
prevent its getting the ascendant over reason, Page 27.


CHAP. V.

That to indulge any one fault, brings with it the temptation of
committing others, is demonstrated by the behaviour of Natura, and the
misfortunes and disgrace, which an ill-judged shame had like to have
involved him in, Page 39.


CHAP. VI.

Shews the great force of natural affection, and the good effects it
has over a grateful mind, Page 51.


BOOK the Second.


CHAP. I.

The inconsideration and instability of youth, when unrestrained by
authority, is here exemplified, in an odd adventure Natura embarked in
with two nuns, after the death of his governor, Page 63.


CHAP. II.

The pleasures of travelling described, and the improvement a sensible
mind may receive from it: with some hints to the censorious, not to be
too severe on errors, the circumstances of which they are ignorant of,
occasioned by a remarkable instance of an involuntary slip of nature,
Page 99.


CHAP. III.

The uncertainty of human events displayed in many surprizing turns of
fortune, which befel Natura, on his endeavouring to settle himself in
the world: with some proofs of the necessity of fortitude, as it may
happen that actions, excited by the greatest virtue, may prove the
source of evil, both to ourselves and others, Page 108.


CHAP. IV.

The power of fear over a mind, weak either by nature, or infirmities
of body: The danger of its leading to despair, is shewn by the
condition Natura was reduced to by the importunities of priests of
different perswasions. This chapter also demonstrates, the little
power people have of judging what is really best for them, and that
what has the appearance of the severest disappointment, is frequently
the greatest good, Page 135.


CHAP. V.

Shews that there is no one human advantage to which all others should
be sacrificed:--the force of ambition, and the folly of suffering it
to gain too great an ascendant over us:--public grandeur little
capable of atoning for private discontent; among which jealousy,
whether of love or honour, is the most tormenting, Page 154.


BOOK the Third.


CHAP. I.

Shews in what manner anger and revenge operate in the mind, and how
ambition is capable of stifling both, in a remarkable instance, that
_private injuries_, how great soever, may seem of no weight, when
_public grandeur_ requires they should be looked over, Page 168.


CHAP. II.

Shews at what age men are most liable to the passion of grief: the
impatience of human nature under affliction, and the necessity there
is of exerting reason, to restrain the excesses it would otherwise
occasion, Page 178.


CHAP. III.

The struggles which different passions occasion in the human breast,
are here exemplified; and that there is no one among them so strong,
but may be extirpated by another, excepting _revenge_, which knows no
period, but by gratification, Page 185.


CHAP. IV.

Contains a further definition of _revenge_, its force, effects, and
the chasm it leaves on the mind when once it ceases. The tranquility
of being entirely devoid of all passions; and the impossibility for
the soul to remain in that state of inactivity is also shewn; with
some remarks on human nature in general, when left to itself, Page
190.


CHAP. V.

Contains a remarkable proof, that tho' the passions may operate with
greater velocity and vehemence in youth, yet they are infinitely more
strong and permanent, when the person is arrived at maturity, and are
then scarce ever eradicated. Love and friendship are then, and not
till then, truly worthy of the names they bear; and that the _one_
between those of different sexes, is always the consequence of the
_other_, Page 206.


CHAP. VI.

How the most powerful emotions of the _mind_ subside, and grow weaker
in proportion as the strength of the _body_ decays, is here
exemplified; and that such passions as remain after a certain age, are
not properly the incentives of nature but of example, long habitude,
or ill humour, Page 224.




LIFE's
PROGRESS
THROUGH THE
PASSIONS.


INTRODUCTION.

I have often heard it observed by the readers of biography, that the
characters are generally too high painted; and that the _good_ or
_bad_ qualities of the person pretended to be faithfully represented,
are displayed in stronger colours than are to be found in nature. To
this the lovers of hyperbole reply, that _virtue_ cannot be drawn too
beautiful, nor _vice_ too deformed, in order to excite in us an
ambition of imitating the _one_, and a horror at the thoughts of
becoming any way like the _other_.--The argument at first, indeed,
seems to have some weight, as there is nothing, not even precept
itself, which so greatly contributes whether to rectify or improve the
mind, as the prevalence of example: but then it ought to be
considered, that if the pattern laid down before us, is so altogether
angelic, as to render it impossible to be copied, emulation will be in
danger of being swallowed up in an unprofitable admiration; and, on
the other hand, if it appears so monstrously hideous as to take away
all apprehensions of ever resembling it, we might be too apt to
indulge ourselves in errors which would seem small in comparison with
those presented to us.--There never yet was any one man, in whom all
the _virtues_, or all the _vices_, were summed up; for, though reason
and education may go a great way toward curbing the passions, yet I
believe experience will inform, even the _best_ of men, that they will
sometimes launch out beyond their due bounds, in spite of all the care
can be taken to restrain them; nor do I think the very _worst_, and
most wicked, does not feel in himself, at some moments, a propensity
to good, though it may be possible he never brings it into practice;
at least, this was the opinion of the antients, as witness the poet's
words:

  All men are born with seeds of _good_ and _ill_;
    And each shoot forth, in more or less degree:
  _One_ you may cultivate with care and skill,
    But from the _other_ ne'er be wholly free.

The human mind may, I think, be compared to a chequer-work, where
light and shade appear by turns; and in proportion as either of these
is most conspicuous, the man is alone worthy of praise or censure; for
none there are can boast of being wholly bright.

I believe by this the reader will be convinced he must not expect to
see a faultless figure in the hero of the following pages; but to
remove all possibility of a disappointment on that score, I shall
farther declare, that I am an enemy to all _romances_, _novels_, and
whatever carries the air of them, tho' disguised under different
appellations; and as it is a _real_, not _fictitious_ character I am
about to present, I think myself obliged, for the reasons I have
already given, as well as to gratify my own inclinations, to draw him
such as he was, not such as some sanguine imaginations might with him
to have been.

I flatter myself, however, that _truth_ will appear not altogether
void of charms, and the adventures I take upon me to relate, not be
less pleasing for being within the reach of probability, and such as
might have happened to any other as well as the person they did.--Few
there are, I am pretty certain, who will not find some resemblance of
himself in one part or other of his life, among the many various and
surprizing turns of fortune, which the subject of this little history
experienced, as also be reminded in what manner the passions operate
in every stage of life, and how far the constitution of the _outward
frame_ is concerned in the emotions of the _internal faculties_.

These are things surely very necessary to be considered, and when they
are so, will, in a great measure, abate that unbecoming vehemence,
with which people are apt to testify their admiration, or abhorrence
of actions, which it very often happens would lose much of their
_eclat_ either way, were the secret springs that give them motion,
seen into with the eyes of philosophy and reflection.

But this will be more clearly understood by a perusal of the facts
herein contained, from which I will no longer detain in the attention
of my reader.






BOOK the First.




CHAP. I.

  Shews, in the example of Natura, how from our very birth, the
  passions, to which the human soul is incident, are discoverable in
  us; and how far the organs of sense, or what is called the
  constitution, has an effect over us.


The origin of Natura would perhaps require more time to trace than the
benefit of the discovery would attone for: it shall therefore suffice
to say, that his ancestors were neither of the highest rank:--that if
no extraordinary action had signalized the names of any of them, so
none of them had been guilty of crimes to entail infamy on their
posterity: and that a moderate estate in the family had descended from
father to son for many generations, without being either remarkably
improved or embezzled.--His immediate parents were in very easy
circumstances, and he being their first son, was welcomed into the
world with a joy usual on such occasions.--I never heard that any
prodigies preceded or accompanied his nativity; or that the planets,
or his mother's cravings during her pregnancy, had sealed him with any
particular mark or badge of distinction: but have been well assured he
was a fine boy, sucked heartily of his mother's milk, and what they
call a thriving child. His weaning, I am told, was attended by some
little ailments, occasioned by his pining after the food to which he
had been accustomed; but proper means being found to make him lose the
memory of the breast, he soon recovered his flesh, increased in
strength, and could go about the room at a year and some few months
old, without the help of a leading-string.

Hitherto the passions, those powerful abettors, I had almost said sole
authors of all human actions, operated but faintly, and could shew
themselves only in proportion to the vigour of the animal frame. Yet
latent as they are, an observing eye may easily discover them in each
of their different propensities, even from the most early infancy. The
eyes of Natura on any new and pleasing object, would denote by their
sparkling a sensation of joy:--_Fear_ was visible in him by clinging to
his nurse, and endeavouring to bury himself as it were in her bosom, at
the sound of menaces he was not capable of understanding:--That
_sorrow_ has a place among the first emotions of the soul, was
demonstrable by the sighs which frequently would heave his little
heart, long before it was possible for him either to know or to imagine
any motives for them:--That the seeds of _avarice_ are born with us, by
the eagerness with which he catched at money when presented to him,
his clinching it fast in his hand, and the reluctance he expressed on
being deprived of it:--That _anger_, and impatience of controul, are
inherent to our nature, might be seen in his throwing down with
vehemence any favourite toy, rather than yield to resign it; and that
spite and revenge are also but too much so, by his putting in practice
all such tricks as his young invention could furnish, to vex any of the
family who had happened to cross him:--Even those tender inclinations,
which afterwards bear the name of _amorous_, begin to peep out long
before the difference of sex is thought on; as Natura proved by the
preference he gave the girls over the boys who came to play with him,
and his readiness to part with any thing to them.

In a word, there is not one of all the various emotions which agitate
the breast in maturity, that may not be discerned almost from the
birth, _hope_, _jealousy_, and _despair_ excepted, which, tho' they
bear the name in common with those other more natural dispositions of
the mind, I look upon rather as consequentials of the passions, and
arising from them, than properly passions themselves: but however that
be, it is certain, that they are altogether dependant on a fixation of
ideas, reflection, and comparison, and therefore can have no entrance
in the soul, or at least cannot be awakened in it, till some degree of
knowledge is attained.

Thus do the dispositions of the _infant_ indicate the future _man_;
and though we see, in the behaviour of persons when grown up, so vast
a difference, yet as all children at first act alike, I think it may
be reasonably supposed, that were it not for some change in the
constitution, an equal similitude of will, desires, and sentiments,
would continue among us through maturity and old age; at least I am
perfectly perswaded it would do so, among all those who are born in
the same climate, and educated in the same principles: for whatever
may be said of a great genius, and natural endowments, there is
certainly no real distinction between the _soul_ of the man of _wit_
and the _ideot_; and that disproportion, which we are apt to behold
with so much wonder, is only in fact occasioned by some or other of
those innumerable and hidden accidents, which from our first coming
into the world, in a more or less degree, have, an effect upon the
organs of sense; and they being the sole canals through which the
spirit shews itself, according as they happen to be extended,
contracted, or obstructed, the man must infallibly appear.




CHAP. II.

  Contains some proofs by what swift degrees the passions gain an
  ascendant over the mind, and grow up in proportion with our reason.


Natura had no sooner quitted the nursery, than he was put under the
direction of the school, to which at first he was every day conducted
either by a man or maid-servant; but when thought big enough to be
trusted alone, would frequently play the truant, for which he
generally received the discipline necessary on such occasions.--He
took his learning notwithstanding as well as could be expected;--he
had read the testament through at five years old, about seven was put
into Latin, and began the rudiments of Greek before he had attained
the age of nine.

As his understanding increased, the passions became stronger in
proportion: and here is to be observed the wonderful wisdom of nature,
or rather of the Great Author of nature, in the formation of the human
system, that the passions given to us, especially those of the worst
sort, are, for the most part, such opposites, that the one is a
sufficient check upon the other.--The _pride_ of treating those
beneath us with contempt, is restrained by the _fear_ of meeting the
same usage from those above us.--A _sordid covetousness_ is controlled
by _ostentation_.--_Sloth_ is roused by _ambition_, and so of the
rest.--I have been told that when Natura, by the enticements of his
companions, and his own eagerness to pursue the sports suitable to his
years, had been drawn in to neglect his studies, he had often ran home
on a sudden, and denied himself both food and sleep, till he had not
only finished the task assigned him by his school-master, but also
exceeded what was expected from him, instigated by the ambition of
praise, and hope of being removed to a higher form.--But at other
times again his love of play has rendered him totally forgetful of
every thing besides, and all emulation in him absorbed in
pleasure.--Thus hurried, as the different propensities prevailed, from
one extreme to the other;--never in a medium, but always doing either
more or less than was required of him.

In like manner was his _avarice_ moderated by his _pity_;--an instance
of which was this;--One morning having won at chuck-farthing, or some
such game, all the money a poor boy was master of, and which he said
had been given him to buy his breakfast, Natura was so much melted at
his tears and complaints, that he generously returned to him the whole
of what he had lost.--Greatly is it to be wished, the same sentiments
of compassion would influence some of riper years, and make them scorn
to take the advantage chance sometimes affords of ruining their
fellow-creatures; but the misfortune is, that when we arrive at the
state of perfect manhood, the _worst_ passions are apt to get the
better of the more _noble_, as the prospect they present is more
alluring to the eye of sense: all men (as I said before) being born
with the same propensities, it is _virtue_ alone, or in other words, a
strict _morality_, which prevents them from actuating alike in
all.--But to return to the young Natura.

He was scarce ten years old when his mother died; but was not sensible
of the misfortune he sustained by the loss of her, though, as it
afterwards proved, was the greatest could have happened to him: the
remembrance of the tenderness with which she had used him, joined to
the sight of all the family in tears, made him at first indeed utter
some bitter lamentations; but the thoughts of a new suit of mourning,
a dress he had never yet been in, soon dissipated his grief, and the
sight of himself before the great glass, in a habit so altogether
strange, and therefore pleasing to him, took off all anguish for the
sad occasion.--So early do we begin to be sensible of a satisfaction
in any thing that we imagine is an advantage to our persons, or will
make us be taken notice of.--How it grows up with us, and how
difficult it is to be eradicated, I appeal even to those of the most
sour and cynical disposition.

Mr. Dryden admirably describes this propensity in human nature in
these lines:

  Men are but children of a larger growth,
  Our appetites as prone to change as theirs,
  And full as craving too, and full as vain.

A fondness for trifles is certainly no less conspicuous in age than
youth; and we daily see it among persons of the best understanding,
who wholly neglect every essential to real happiness in the pursuit of
those very toys which children cry to be indulged in; even such as a
bit of ribband, or the sound of a monosyllable tacked to the name;
without considering that those badges of distinction, like bells about
an ideot's neck, frequently serve only to render their folly more
remarkable, and expose them to the contempt of the lookers on, who
perhaps too, as nature is the same in all, want but the same
opportunity to catch no less eagerly at the tawdry gewgaw.

Natura felt not the loss of his dear mother, till he beheld another in
her place. His father entered into a second marriage before much more
than half his year of widowhood was expired, with a lady, who, though
pretty near his equal in years, had yet remains enough of beauty to
render her extremely vain and affected, and fortune enough to make her
no less proud.--These two qualities occasioned Natura many rebuffs, to
which he had not been acoustomed, and he felt them the more severely,
as the name of mother had made him expect the same proofs of
tenderness from this, who had the title, as he had remembered to have
received from her who had been really so.

He endeavoured at first to insinuate himself into her favour by all
those little flattering artifices which are so becoming in persons of
his tender years, and which never fail to make an impression on a
gentle and affable disposition; but finding his services not only
rejected, but also rejected with scorn and moroseness, his spirit was
too great to continue them for any long time; and all the assiduity he
had shewn to gain her good-will, was on a sudden converted into a
behaviour altogether the reverse: he was sure to turn the deaf ear to
all the commands she laid upon him, and so far from doing any thing to
please her, he seemed to take a delight in vexing her. This
occasioning many complaints to his father, drew on him very severe
chastisements both at home and abroad; but though while the smart
remained, he made many promises of amendment in this point, the hatred
he had now conceived against her, would not suffer him to keep them.

His sister, who was five years older than himself, and a girl of great
prudence, took a good deal of pains to convince him how much it was
both his interest and his duty to pay all manner of respect to a lady
whom their father had thought fit to set over them; but all she could
say on that head was thrown away, and he still replied, that since he
could not make her love him, he should always hate her.

This young lady had perhaps no less reason than her brother to be
dissatisfied with the humour of their stepmother; and it was only the
tender affection she had for him which made her feign a contentment at
the treatment both of them received, in order to keep him within any
manner of bounds.

It may be reckoned among the misfortunes of Natura, that he so soon
lost the benefit of these kind remonstrances: his fair adviser having
a considerable fortune, independent on her father, left her by a
grandmother, who had also answered for her at the _font_, was courted
by a gentleman, to whom neither herself nor family having any thing to
object, she became a bride in a very few months, and went with her
husband to a seat he had at a considerable distance in the country.

This poor youth was now without any one, either to prevent him from
doing a fault, or to conceal it when committed; on the contrary, his
mother-in-law, having new-modelled all the family, and retained only
such servants as thought it their duty to study nothing but to humour
her, every little error in him was exaggerated, and he was represented
to his father as incorrigible, perverse, and all that is disagreeable
in nature.

I will not take upon me to determine whether, or not, the old
gentleman had altogether so ill an opinion of his son, as they
endeavoured to inspire him with; but it is certain, that whatever his
thoughts were on the matter, he found himself obliged for a quiet life
to use him with a good deal of severity, which, either because he
believed it unjust, or that it was disagreeable to his own
disposition, he grew very weary of in a short time, and to put an end
to it, resolved to send the child to a boarding-school, tho' he had
always declared against that sort of education, and frequently said,
that though these great schools might improve the learning, they were
apt to corrupt the morals of youth.

Finding himself, however, under a kind of necessity for so doing,
nothing remained but the choice of a convenient place. The wife
proposed some part of Yorkshire, not only as the cheapest, but also
that by reason of the distance, she should not have the trouble of him
at home in the holidays; but to this it was not in her power to
prevail on his father to consent, and after many disputes between them
on it, Eton was at length pitched upon.

Natura heard of his intended removal with a perfect indifference:--if
the thoughts of parting from his father gave him any pain, it was
balanced by those of being eased of the persecuting of his stepmother;
but when all things were prepared for his journey, in which he was to
be accompanied by an old relation, who was to give the necessary
charge with him to those into whose care he should be committed, he
was taken suddenly ill on the very day he had been to take leave of
his kindred, and other friends in town.

His distemper proved to be the small-pox, but being of a very
favourable sort, he recovered in a short time, and lost nothing of his
handsomeness by that so-much-dreaded enemy to the face: there
remained, however, a little redness, which, till intirely worn off, it
was judged improper he should be sent where it was likely there might
be many young gentlemen, who having never experienced the same, would
take umbrage at the sight.

During the time of his indisposition he had been attended by an old
nurse, who had served in the same quality to his mother, and several
others of her family.--The tenderness this good creature shewed to
him, and the care she took to humour him in every thing, not only
while he continued in a condition, in which it might have been
dangerous to have put his spirits into the least agitation, but after
he was grown well enough to walk abroad, had made him become extremely
pettish and self-willed; which shews, that an over-indulgence to
youth, is no less prejudicial, than too much austerity.--Happy is it
for those who are brought up in a due proportion between these two
extremes; for as nature will be apt to fall into a dejection, if
pressed down with a constant, and uninterrupted severity, so it will
infallibly become arrogant and assuming, if suffered always to pursue
its own dictates.--Nothing is more evident, than that most of the
irregularities we see practised in the world, are owing originally to
a want of the medium I have been speaking of, in forming the mind
while it is pliable to impression.

This was not, however, the case of Natura; and though he would
doubtless have been what we call a spoiled child, had he been for any
length of time permitted to do just what he pleased, yet the nurse
being discharged, he fell again under the jurisdiction of his
mother-in-law, who had now more excuse than ever for treating him with
severity.

His father did not want understanding, but was a good deal more
indolent than befits a parent.--He had always been accustomed to live
at ease, and his natural aversion to all kinds of trouble, made him
not inspect into the manners or temperament of his son, with that care
he ought to have done. Whenever any complaints were made concerning
his behaviour, he would chide, and sometimes beat him, but seldom
examined how far he really merited those effects rather of others
resentment than his own. Sometimes he would ask him questions on his
progress in learning, and praise or dispraise, as he found occasion;
but he never discoursed with him on any other topics, nor took any
pleasure in instructing him in such things as are not to be taught in
schools, but which much more contribute to enlarge the mind; so that
had not Natura's own curiosity led him to examine into the sources,
first causes, and motives of what he was obliged to read, he would
have reaped no other benefit from his Greek and Latin authors, than
meerly the knowledge of their language.

Here I cannot help taking notice, that whatever inconveniences it may
occasion, curiosity is one of the greatest advantages we receive from
nature; it is that indeed from which all our knowledge is
derived.--Were it not for this propensity in ourselves, the sun, the
moon, and all the darling constellations which adorn the hemisphere,
would roll above our heads in vain: contented to behold their shine,
and feel their warmth, but ignorant of their motion and influence on
all beneath, half that admiration due to the Divine Architect, would
lye dormant in us.--Did not curiosity excite us to examine into the
nature of vegetables, their amazing rise, their progress, their deaths
and resurrections in the seasons allotted for these alternatives, we
should enjoy the fruits of the earth indeed, but enjoy them only in
common with the animals that feed upon it, or perhaps with less relish
than they do, as it is agreed their organs of sensation have a greater
share of poignancy than ours.--What is it but _curiosity_ which
renders study either pleasing or profitable to us?--The facts we read
of would soon slip through the memory, or if they retained any place
in it, could be of little advantage, without being acquainted with the
motives which occasioned them. By _curiosity_ we _examine_, by
_examining_ we _compare_, and by _comparing_ we are alone enabled to
form a right _judgment_, whether of things or persons.

We are told indeed of many jealousies, discontents, and quarrels,
which have been occasioned by this passion, among those who might
otherwise have lived in perfect harmony; and a man or woman, who has
the character of being too inquisitive, is shunned as dangerous to
society.--But what commendable quality is there that may not be
perverted, or what _virtue_ whose extreme does not border on a
_vice_?--Even _devotion_ itself should have its bounds, or it will
launch into _bigotry_ and _enthusiasm_;--_love_, the most _generous_
and _gentle_ of all the passions, when ill-placed, or unprescribed,
degenerates into the very _worst_;--_justice_ may be pursued till it
becomes _cruelty_;--_emulation_ indulged till it grows up to
_envy_;--_frugality_ to the most sordid _avarice_; and _courage_ to a
brutal _rashness_;--and so I am ready to allow that _curiosity_, from
whence all the _good_ in us originally arises, may also be productive
of the _greatest mischiefs_, when not, like every other emotion of the
soul, kept within its due limits, and suffered to exert itself only on
warrantable objects.

It should therefore be the first care of every one to regulate this
propensity in himself, as well as of those under whose tuition he may
happen to be, whether parents or governors.--Nature, and the writings
of learned men, who from time to time have commented on all that has
happened in nature, certainly afford sufficient matter to gratify the
most enquiring mind, without descending to such mean trifling
inquisitions, as can no way improve itself, and may be of prejudice to
others.

I have dwelt the longer on this head, because it seems to me, that on
the _well_, or _ill direction_ of that curiosity, which is inherent to
us all, depends, in a great measure, the peace and happiness of
society.

Natura, like all children, uncircumscribed by precept, had not only a
desire of prying into those things which it was his advantage to know,
but also into those which he had much better have been totally
ignorant of, and which the discovery of his being too well skilled in,
frequently occasioned him much ill will, especially when he was found
to have too far dived into those little secrets which will ever be
among servants in large families. But reason was not ripe enough in
him to enable him to distinguish between what were proper subjects for
the exercise of this passion, and what were not so.

That impediment, however, which had hitherto retarded his departure
being removed, he now set out for Eton, under the conduct of the
abovementioned kinsman, who placed him in a boarding-house very near
the school, and took his leave, after having given him such
admonitions as he thought necessary for a person of his years, when
more intrusted to himself than he before had been.

But Natura was not yet arrived at an age wherein it could be expected
he should reap much benefit from advice. A settled resolution, and the
power of judging what is our real interest to do, are the perfections
of maturity, and happy is it for the few who even then attain
them.--_Precept_ must be constantly and artfully instilled to make any
impression on the mind, and is rarely fixed there, till experience
confirms it; therefore, as both these were wanting to form his
behaviour, what could be hoped from it, but such a one as was
conformable to the various passions which agitate human nature, and
which every day grow stronger in us, at least till they have attained
a certain crisis, after which they decay, in proportion as they
increased.

As _wrath_ is one of the most violent emotions of the soul, so I think
it is one of the first that breaks out into effects: it owes its birth
indeed to _pride_; for we are never angry, unless touched by a real,
or imaginary insult; but, by the offspring chiefly is the parent seen.
_Pride_ seldom, I believe it may be said, _never_, wholly dies in us,
tho' it may be concealed; whereas _wrath_ diminishes as our _reason_
increases, and seems intirely evaporated after the heat of youth is
over: when a man therefore has divested himself of the _one_, no
tokens are left to distinguish the _other_.--Sometimes, indeed, we
shall see an extreme impetuosity, even to old age, but then, it is out
of the ordinary course of nature, and besides, the person possessed of
it must be endued with a small share of sound understanding, to give
any marks of such a propensity remaining in him.

It is with the utmost justice, that by the system of the _christian_
religion, _pride_ is intitled the original sin, not only as it was
that of the fallen angels, but also as it is certainly the
fountain-head from which all our other vices are derived.--It is by
the dictates of this pernicious passion we are inflamed with _wrath_,
and wild ambition,--instigated to covetousness,--to envy,--to revenge,
and in fine, to stop at nothing which tends to self-gratification, be
our desires of what kind soever.

During the school hours, Natura, as well as the other young gentlemen,
was under too much awe of the master to give any loose to his temper;
but when these were over, and they went together into the fields, or
any other place to divert themselves, frequent quarrels among them
ensued; but above all between those who boarded in the same house;
little jealousies concerning some imaginary preference given to the
one more than the other, occasioned many bitter taunts and fleers,
which sometimes rose to blows and bloody noses; so that the good
people with whom they were, had enough to do, to keep them in any
tolerable decorum.

There is also another branch of _pride_ which is visible in all youth,
before consideration takes place, and that is, treating with contempt
whoever seems our inferior.--A boy who was allowed less money, or wore
plainer cloaths, was sure to be the jest of all the rest. Natura was
equally guilty of this fault with his companions; but when the
sarcasms became too severe, and the object of them appeared any way
dejected, his generosity often got the better of his arrogance, and he
would take part with the weakest side, even till he drew on himself
part of those reflections he averted from the other; but this never
happened without his resenting it with the utmost violence; for
patience and forbearance were virtues not to be expected in this stage
of life.

He was a great lover of gaming, whether of chucking, tossing up for
money, or cards, and extremely ill-humoured and quarrelsome whenever
luck was not on his side; which shews, that whatever people may
pretend, avarice is at the bottom, and occasions all the fondness so
many testify for play.

As for the other ordinary diversions of youth, none could pursue them
with more eagerness, nor was less deterred by any ill accident which
befel either himself, or any of his companions; one of whom having
been near drowning before his face, as they were swimming together,
the sight did not hinder him from plunging into the same stream every
day; nor could he be prevailed upon from ringing, as often as he had
an opportunity, though he had been thrown one day by the breaking of
the bell-rope, a great height from the ground, and in the fall
dislocated his shoulder, and bruised his body all over.--But it is not
to be wondered at, that boys should remember the misfortunes their
pleasures have brought on them no longer than the smart continues,
when men of the ripest, and sometimes most advanced years, are not to
be warned from the gratification of their passions, by the worst, and
most frequently repeated ills.

He, notwithstanding, made a very good progress in those things in
which he was instructed, which as yet were only Latin and Greek; and
when the time of breaking up arrived, and he returned to his father's
house, none who examined him concerning his learning, could suspect
there was either any want of application in himself, or care in his
master.

His three months of absence having rendered him a kind of stranger at
home, his mother-in-law used him with somewhat more civility, and his
father seemed highly satisfied with him; all his kindred and friends
caressed him, and made him many little presents of such things as
befitted his years; but that which crowned his felicity, was the
company of a young girl, a near relation of his stepmother's, who was
come to pass some time with her, and see London, which she had never
been in before.




CHAP. III.

  The early influence which the difference of sex excites, is here
  exemplified in the fond but innocent affection of Natura and Delia.


Natura being much of the same age with Delia (for so I shall call her)
and both equally playful, spirituous, and good-natured, it is hard to
say which of them took the greatest delight in the society of the
other. Natura was never well out of the presence of Delia, nor Delia
contented but when Natura was with her.

In walking, dancing, playing at cards, these amiable children were
always partners; and it was remarkable, that in the latter of these
diversions, Natura was never uneasy at losing his money to Delia, nor
resented any little railleries she treated him with on account of his
ill luck, or want of skill in the game, as he had been accustomed to
do whenever he received the like from any of his companions.--So
forcibly does the difference of sex operate, even before that
difference is considered.

Natura was yet too young by much, to know wherefore he found in
himself this complaisance, or how it came to pass, that he so much
preferred a beautiful and good-humoured girl, to a boy possessed of
the same qualifications; but he was not ignorant that he did so, and
has often wondered (as he afterwards confessed) what it was that made
him feel so much pleasure, whenever, in innocently romping together,
he happened to catch hold of her in his arms; and what strange impulse
it was, that rendered him so reluctant to part with her out of that
posture, that she was obliged to struggle with all her strength to
disengage herself.

Hence it is plain, that the passion of love is part of our
composition, implanted in the soul for the propagation of the world;
and we ought not, in my opinion, to be too severe on the errors which,
meerly and abstracted from any other motive than itself, it sometimes
influences us to be guilty of.--The laws, indeed, which prohibit any
amorous intercourse between the sexes, unless authored by the
solemnities of marriage, are without all question, excellently well
calculated for the good of society, because without such a
restriction, there would be no such thing as order in the world. I am
therefore far from thinking lightly of that truly sacred institution,
when I say, that there are some cases, in which the pair so offending,
merit rather our pity, than that abhorrence which those of a more
rigid virtue, colder constitution, or less under the power of
temptation, are apt to testify on such occasion.

Rarely, however, it happens, that love is guilty of any thing capable
of being condemned, even by the most austere; most of the faults
committed under that sanction, being in reality instigated by some
other passion, such as avarice and ambition in the one sex, and a
flame which is too often confounded and mistaken for a pure affection
in the other.--Yet such is the ill-judging, or careless determination
of the world, that without making any allowances for circumstances, it
censures all indiscriminately alike.

The time prefixed for Natura's remaining with his father being but
fourteen days, as they grew near expired, the family began to talk of
his going, and orders were given to bespeak a place for him in the
stage-coach: he had been extremely pleased with Eton, nor had he met
with any cause of disgust, either at the school or house where he was
boarded, yet did the thoughts of returning thither give him as much
disquiet as his young heart was capable of conceiving.--The parting
from Delia was terrible to him, and the nearer the cruel moment
approached, the more his anxiety increased.--She seemed also grieved
to lose so agreeable a companion, and would often tell him she wished
he was to stay as long as she did.

Though nothing could be more innocent than these declarations on both
sides, yet what she said had such an effect on Natura, that he
resolved to delay his return to Eton as long as possible; and that
passion which he already felt the symptoms of, though equally ignorant
of their nature or end, being always fertile in invention, put a
stratagem into his head, which he flattered himself would succeed for
a somewhat farther continuance of his present happiness.

The day before that prefixed for his going, he pretended a violent
pain in his head and stomach, and to give the greater credit to his
pretended indisposition, would eat nothing; and as it drew toward
evening, cried out he was very sick, and must go to bed.--His father,
who had the most tender affection for him, could not think of sending
him away in that condition.--He went in the morning to his bedside,
and finding him, as he imagined, a little feverish, presently ordered
a physician, who did not fail to countenance the young gentleman's
contrivance, either that he really thought him out of order, or that
he had rendered himself so in good earnest, through abstaining from
food, a thing very uncommon with him. A prescription was sent to the
apothecary for him, and a certain regimen directed.

But poor Natura soon found this did not answer his purpose:--he was in
the same house indeed with his beloved Delia, but had not the pleasure
of her company, nor even that of barely seeing her, she being forbid
going near his chamber, on account of the apprehensions they had that
his complaint might terminate in a fever, and endanger her health.

This, however, was more than he knew, and resentment for her supposed
indifference, joined with the weariness of living in the manner he
did, made him resolve to grow well again, and chuse to go to Eton,
rather than suffer so much for one who seemed so little to regard him.

Accordingly, when they brought him something had been ordered for him
to take, he refused it, saying, he had not occasion for any more
physic, and immediately got up, and dressed himself, in spite of all
the servant that attended him could do to prevent it.--Word being
carried to his father of what he was doing, he imagined him delirious,
and immediately got up, and went into his room, nor though he found
him intirely cool, could be perswaded from his first opinion.--The
doctor was again sent for, who unwilling to lose his perquisite, made
a long harangue on the nature of internal fevers, and very learnedly
proved, or seemed to prove, that they might operate so far as to
affect the brain, without the least outward symptom.

Natura could not forbear laughing within himself, to hear this great
man so much mistaken; but when they told him he must take his physic,
and go to bed, or at least be confined to his chamber, he absolutely
refused both, and said he was as well as ever he was in his life.--All
he said, however, availed nothing, and his father was about to make
use of his authority to force him to obedience to the doctor's
prescription, when finding no other way to avoid it, he fell on his
knees, and with tears in his eyes, confessed he had only counterfeited
sickness, to delay being sent to Eton again; begged his father to
forgive him; said he was sorry for having attempted to deceive him,
but was ready to go whenever he pleased.

The father was strangely amazed at the trick had been put upon him;
and after some severe reprimands on the occasion, asked what he had to
complain of at Eton, that had rendered him so unwilling to return.
Natura hesitated at this demand, but could not find in his heart to
forge any unjust accusation concerning his usage at that place, and at
last said, that indeed it was only because he had a mind to stay a
little longer at home with him. On which he told him he was an idle
boy, but he must not expect that wheedle would serve his turn; for
since he was not sick, he must go to school the next day: Natura
renewed his intreaties for pardon, and assured him he now desired
nothing more than to do as he commanded.

This story made a great noise in the family, and the mother-in-law did
not fail to represent it in its worst colours to every one that came
to the house; but Natura having obtained forgiveness from his father,
did not give himself much trouble as to the rest.--Delia seemed
rejoiced to see him come down stairs again, but he looked shy upon
her, and told her he could not have thought she would have been so
unkind as not to have come to see him; but on her acquainting him with
the reason of her absence, and protesting it was not her fault, he
grew as fond of her as ever; and among a great many other tender
expressions, 'I wish,' said he, 'I were a man, and you a
woman.'--'Why?' returned she; 'because,' cried he, 'we would be
married.'--'O fye,' answered the little coquet, 'I should hate you, if
you thought of any such thing; for I will never be married.' Then
turned away with an affected scornfulness, and yet looked kindly
enough upon him from the corner of one eye.--'I am sure,' resumed he,
'if you loved me as well as I do you, you would like to be married to
me, for then we should be always together.'--He was going on with
something farther in this innocent courtship, when some one or other
of the family, coming into the room, broke it off; and whether it was
resumed afterwards, or not, I cannot pretend to determine, nor whether
he had opportunity to take any particular leave of her before his
departure, which happened, as his father had threatened, the
succeeding day.




CHAP. IV.

  Shews, that till we arrive at a certain age, the impressions made on
  us are easily erased; and also that when those which bear the name
  of love are once rooted in the mind, there are no lengths to which
  we may not be transported by that passion, if great care is not
  taken to prevent its getting the ascendant over reason.


The change of scene did not make any change in the sentiments of our
young lover: Delia was always in his head, and none of the diversions
he took with his companions could banish her from his thoughts; yet
did she not so wholly engross his attention, as to render him remiss
in his studies; his ambition, as I said before, would not suffer him
to neglect the means of acquiring praise, and nothing was so
insupportable to him as to find at any time another boy had merited a
greater share of it: by which we may perceive that this very passion,
unruly as it is, and in spite of the mischiefs it sometimes occasions,
is also bestowed upon us for our emolument; and when properly
directed, is the greatest excitement to all that is noble and
generous, Natura seldom had the mortification of seeing any of the
same standing with himself placed above him; and whenever such an
accident happened, he was sure to retrieve it by an extraordinary
assiduity.

But to shew that love and business are not wholly incompatible, his
attachment to Delia did not take him off his learning, nor did his
application to learning make him forgetful of Delia. He frequently
thought of her, wished to see her, and longed for the next
breaking-up, that he might re-enjoy that satisfaction, as he knew she
intended to stay the whole winter at his father's; but now arrived the
time to prove the inconstancy of human nature: he became acquainted
with some other little misses, and by degrees found charms in them,
which made those he had observed in Delia appear less admirable in his
eyes; the fondness he had felt for her being in reality instigated
chiefly by being the only one of his own age he had conversed with, a
more general acquaintance with others not only wore off the impression
she had made, but also kept him from receiving too deep a one from the
particular perfections of any of those he now was pleased with:--it is
likely, however, that the sight of her might have revived in him some
part of his former tenderness, had he found her, as he expected he
should, on his next coming to London: but an elder sister she had in
the country, happening to die, she was sent for home, in order to
console their mother for that loss; so that he had not any trial on
that account; and tho' he thought he should have been glad of her
society, during his stay in town, yet her absence gave him small
anxiety; and the variety of company which came to the house on account
of the baptism of a little son his mother-in-law had lately brought
into the world, very well atoned for the want of Delia.

Nothing material happening to him during his stay in town at this
time, nor in any other of the many visits he made his father while he
continued at Eton, I shall pass over those years, and only say, that
as he grew nearer to manhood, his passions gathered strength in
proportion; and tho' he increased in knowledge, yet it was not that
sort of knowledge which enables us to judge of the emotions we feel
within ourselves, or to set curbs on those, which to indulge renders
us liable to inconveniences.

All those propensities, of which he gave such early indications, and
which I attempted to describe in the beginning of this book, now
displayed themselves with greater vigour, and according as exterior
objects presented, or circumstances excited, ruled with alternate
sway: sparing sometimes to niggardliness, at others profusely
liberal;--now pleased, now angry;--submissive this moment, arrogant
and assuming the next;--seldom in a perfect calm, and frequently
agitated to excess.--Hence arose contests and quarrels, even with
those whose company in some humours he was most delighted
with;--insolence to such whose way of thinking did not happen to tally
with his own, and as partial an attachment to those who either did, or
pretended to enter into his sentiments.

But as it was only in trivial matters, and such as were meerly boyish,
he yet had opportunity of exercising the passions, his behaviour only
served to shew what man would be, when arrived at maturity, if not
restrained by precept.

He had attained to little more than sixteen years of age, when he had
gone through all the learning of the school, and was what they call
fit for the university, to which his father not intending him for the
study of any particular science, did not think it necessary to send
him, but rather to bestow on him those other accomplishments, which
are immediately expected from a gentleman of an estate; such as
fencing, dancing, and music, and accordingly provided masters to
instruct him in each, as soon as he came home, which was about the
time of life I mentioned.

As he was now past the age of being treated as a meer child, and also
knew better how it would become him to behave to the wife of his
father, his mother-in-law seemed to live with him in harmony enough,
and the family at least was not divided into parties as it had been,
and eighteen or nineteen months past over, without any rub in our
young gentleman's tranquility.

Since his childish affection for Delia, he had not been possessed of
what could be called a strong inclination for any particular female;
though, as many incidents in his life afterwards proved, he had a no
less amorous propensity than any of his sex, and was equally capable
of going the greatest lengths for its gratification.

He was but just turned of nineteen, when happening to pass by the
playhouse one evening, he took it into his head to go in, and see the
last act of a very celebrated tragedy acted that night.--But it was
not the poet's or the player's art which so much engaged his
attention, as the numerous and gay assembly which filled every part of
the house.--He was in the back bench of one of the front boxes, from
which he had a full prospect of all who sat below:--but in throwing
his eyes around on every dazzling belle, he found none so agreeable to
him as a young lady who was placed in the next division of the
box:--her age did not seem to exceed his own, and tho' less splendid
in garb and jewels than several who sat near her, had something in her
eyes and air, that, in his opinion, at least, infinitely exceeded them
all.

When the curtain dropt, and every one was crowding out as fast they
could, he lost not sight of her; and finding when they came out to the
door, that she, and a companion she had with her, somewhat older than
herself, seemed distressed for chairs, which by reason of the great
concourse, seemed difficult to be got, he took the opportunity, in a
very polite manner, to offer himself for their protector, as he
perceived they had neither friend nor servant with them. They accepted
it with a great deal of seeming modesty, and he conducted them through
a passage belonging to the house which he knew was less thronged, and
thence put them into a hackney coach, having first obtained their
permission to attend them to their lodgings, or wherever else they
pleased to be set down.

When they arrived at the place to which they gave the coachman a
direction, he would have taken leave of them at the door; but they
joined in entreating him, that since he had been at the pains of
bringing them safe home, he would come in and refresh himself with
such as their apartment could supply: there required little invitation
to a thing his heart so sincerely wished, tho' his fears of being
thought too presuming, would not suffer him to ask it.

He went up stairs, and found rooms decently furnished, and a
maid-servant immediately spread the table with a genteel cold
collation; but what he looked upon as the most elegant part of the
entertainment, was the agreeable chit-chat during the time of supper,
and a song the lady who had so much attracted him, gave him, at her
friend's request, after the cloth was taken away.

It growing late, his fears of offending where he already had such an
inclination to oblige, made him about to take his leave; but could not
do it without intreating permission to wait on them the next day, to
receive pardon, as he said, for having by his long stay, broke in upon
the hours should have been devoted to repose. Tho' this compliment,
and indeed all the others he had made, were directed to both, the
regard his eyes paid to the youngest, easily shewed the preference he
secretly gave to her; and as neither of these women wanted experience
in such affairs, knew very well how to make the most of any advantage.
'If this lodging were mine,' replied the eldest briskly, 'I should
have anticipated the request you make; but as I am only a guest, and
take part of my friend's bed to-night on account of the hour, will
take upon me to say, she ought not to refuse greater favours to so
accomplished a gentleman, and from whom we have received so much
civility.'

Natura did not fail to answer this gallantry in a proper manner, and
departed highly satisfied with his adventure; tho' probably could find
less reasons for being so, than those with whom he thought it the
greatest happiness of his life to have become acquainted.

Wonderful are the workings of love on a young heart: pleasure has the
same effect as pain, and permits as little rest: it was not in the
power of Natura to close his eyes for a long time after he went to
bed.--He recollected every thing the dear creature had said;--in what
manner she looked, when speaking such or such a thing;--how inchanting
she sang, and what a genteelness accompanied all she did:--when he
fell into a slumber, it was only to bring her more perfectly into his
mind; whatever had past in the few hours he had been with her,
returned, with additional graces on her part, and her idea had in
sleep all the effect her real presence could have had in waking.

With what care did he dress himself the next day:--what fears was he
not possessed of, lest all about him should not be exact:--never yet
had he consulted the great glass with such assiduity;--never till now
examined how far he had been indebted to nature for personal
endowments.

His impatience would have carried him to pay a morning visit, but he
feared that would be too great a freedom, and therefore restrained
himself till after dinner, though what he eat could scarce be called
so; the food his _mind_ languished for, being wanting, the body was
too complaisant to indulge itself.--After rising from table, not a
minute passed without looking on his watch, and at the same time
cursing the tedious seconds, which seemed to him increased from sixty
to six hundred.--The hour of five at length put an end to his
suspence, and he took his way to the dear, well-remembered mansion of
his adorable.

He found her at home, and in a careless, but most becoming
dishabillee; the other lady was still with her; and told him she had
tarried thus long with Miss Harriot, for so she called her, meerly to
participate of the pleasure of his good company. Harriot, in a gay
manner, accused her of envy, and both having a good share of wit, the
conversation might have been pleasing enough to a man less
prepossessed than Natura.

The tea equipage was set, and the ceremony of that being over, cards
were proposed; as they were three, Ombre was the game, at which they
played some hours, and Natura was asked to sup.--After what I have
said, I believe the reader has no occasion to be told that he complied
with a pleasure which was but too visible in his eyes.--The time
passed insensibly on, or at least seemed to do so to the friend of
Harriot, till the watchman reminding her it was past eleven, she
started up, and pretending a surprize, that the night was so far
advanced, told Natura that she must exact a second proof of that
gallantry he had shewn the night before, for she had not courage to go
either in a chair or a coach alone at that late hour:--this doubtless
was what he would have offered, had she been silent on the occasion;
and a coach being ordered to the door, he took leave of miss Harriot,
though not till he had obtained leave to testify his respects in some
future visits.

Had Natura appeared to have more experience of the town, the lady he
gallanted home would certainly not have entertained him with the
discourse she did; but his extreme youth, and the modest manner of his
behaviour on the first sight of him, convinced them he was a person
such as they wished to have in their power, and to that end had
concerted measures between themselves, to perfect the conquest which,
it was easy to perceive, one of them had begun to make over him.

Harriot being the person with whom they found he was enamoured, it was
the business of the other to do for her what, it may be supposed, she
would have done for her on the like occasion.--Natura was no sooner in
the coach with her, than she began to magnify the charms of her fair
friend, but above all extolled her virtue, her prudence, and good
humour:--then, as if only to give a proof of her patience and
fortitude, that her parents dying when she was an infant, had left her
with a vast fortune in the hands of a guardian, who attempting to
defraud her of the greatest part, she was now at law with him, 'and is
obliged to live, till the affair is decided,' said this artful woman,
'in the narrow manner you see,--without a coach,--without any
equipage; and yet she bears it all with chearfulness:--she has a
multiplicity of admirers,' added she, 'but she assures all of them,
that she will never marry, till she knows what present she shall be
able to give with herself to the man she shall make choice of.'

Till now Natura had never asked himself the question how far his
passion for Harriot extended, or with what view he should address her;
but when he heard she was a woman of condition, and would have a
fortune answerable to her birth, he began to think it would be happy
for him if he could obtain her love on the most honourable terms.

It would be too tedious to relate all the particulars of his
courtship; so I shall only say, that humble and timid as the first
emotions of a sincere passion are, he was emboldened, by the
extraordinary complaisance of Harriot, to declare it to her in a few
days.--The art with which she managed on this occasion, might have
deceived the most knowing in the sex; it is not, therefore,
surprizing, that he should be caught in a snare, which, though ruinous
as it had like to have been, had in it allurements scarce possible to
be withstood at his time of life.

It was by such degrees as the most modest virgin need not blush to
own, that she confessed herself sensible of an equal tenderness for
him; and nothing is more strange, than that in the transport he was
in, at the condescensions she made him, that he did not immediately
press for the consummation of his happiness by marriage; but tho' he
wished for nothing so much, yet he was with-held by the fears of his
father, who he thought would not approve of such a step, as the
fortune he imagined she had a right to, was yet undetermined, and
himself, tho' an elder son, and the undoubted heir of a very good
estate, at present wholly dependant on him.--He communicated his
sentiments to Harriot on this head with the utmost sincerity,
protesting at the same time that he should never enjoy a moment's
tranquility till he could call her his own.

She seemed to approve of the caution he testified;--said it was such
as she had always resolved religiously to observe herself; 'tho' I
know not,' cried she, looking on him with the most passionate air,
'how far I might have been tempted to break thro' all for your sake;
but it is well one of us is wise enough to foresee and tremble at the
consequences of a marriage between two persons whose fortunes are
unestablished.'--Then, finding he made her no other answer than some
kisses, accompanied with a strenuous embrace, she went on; 'there is a
way,' resumed she, 'to secure us to each other, without danger of
disobliging any body; and that is by a contract: I never can be easy,
while I think there is a possibility of your transferring your
affection to some other, and if you love me with half that degree of
tenderness you pretend, you cannot but feel the same anxiety.'

Natura was charmed with this proposition, and it was agreed between
them, that her lawyer should draw up double contracts in form, which
should be signed and delivered interchangeably by both parties.
Accordingly, the very next day, the fatal papers were prepared, and he
subscribed his name to that which was to remain in her custody, as she
did her's to that given to him. Each being witnessed by the woman with
whom he first became acquainted with her, and another person called
into the room for that purpose.

Natura now considering her as his wife, thought himself intitled to
take greater liberties than he had ever presumed to do before, and she
had also a kind of a pretence for permitting them, till at last there
remained nothing more for him to ask, or her to grant.

Enjoyment made no abatement in his passion; his fondness was rather
increased by it, and he never thought himself happy, but when with
her; he went to her almost every night, and sometimes passed all night
with her, having made an interest with one of the servants, who let
him in at whatever hour he came:--so totally did she engross his mind,
that he seemed to have not the least attention for any thing beside:
nor was the time he wasted with her all the prejudice she did
him:--all the allowance made him by his father for cloaths and other
expences, he dissipated in treats and presents to her, running in debt
for every thing he had occasion for.

But this was insufficient for her expectations; she wanted a sum of
money, and pretending that her law-suit required a hundred guineas
immediately, and that some remittances she was to have from the
country would come too late, told him he must raise it for her some
way or other.

This demand was a kind of thunder-stroke to Natura; not but he doated
on her enough to have sacrificed infinitely more to her desires, if in
his power; but what she asked seemed so wholly out of reach, that he
knew not any way by which there was the least probability of attaining
it. The embarrassment that appeared in his countenance made her see it
was not so easy for him to grant, as it was for her to ask. 'I should
have wanted courage,' said she, 'to have made you this request, had I
not considered that what is mine must one day be yours, and it will be
your own unhappiness as well as mine, should my cause miscarry for
want of means to carry it on.'--'Severe necessity!' added she, letting
fall some tears, 'that reduces me to intreat favours where I could
wish only to bestow them.'

These words destroyed all the remains of prudence his love had left in
him; he embraced her, kissed away her tears, and assured her that
though, as he was under age, and had but a small allowance from his
father, it was not at this time very easy for him to comply with her
demand, yet she might depend upon him for the money the next day, let
it cost what it would, or whatever should be the consequence.

He left her that night much sooner than was his custom, in order to
consult within himself on the means of fulfilling his promise to her,
which, to have failed in, would have been more terrible to him than
death.




CHAP. V.

  That to indulge any one fault, brings with it the temptation of
  committing others, is demonstrated by the behaviour of Natura, and
  the misfortunes and disgrace which an ill-judged shame had like to
  have involved him in.


Never had Natura experienced so cruel a night; a thousand stratagems
came into his head, but for some reason or other all seemed alike
impracticable, and the morning found him in no more easy a
situation.--He put on his cloaths hastily, and resolved to go to all
the acquaintance he had in the world, and try the friendship of each,
by borrowing what sums he thought they might be able to spare: but
first, going into his father's closet, as was his custom every morning
to pay his duty to him, he found a person with him who was paying him
a large sum of money: the sight of what he so much wanted filled him
with inexpressible agitations:--he would have given almost a limb to
have had in his possession so much of that shining ore as Harriot
expected from him; and wished that some sudden accident, even to the
falling of the house, would happen, that in the confusion he might
seize on some part of the treasure he saw before him.

The person, after the affair which brought him there was over, took
leave of the father of Natura, who having thrown the money into his
bureau, to a large heap was there before, waited on him down stairs,
without staying to lock the drawer.

Often had Natura been present when his father received larger sums
than this, and doubtless had the same opportunity as now to make
himself master of some part, or all of it; but never till this unhappy
exigence had the least temptation to do so.--It came into his head
that the accident was perfectly providential, and that he ought not to
neglect the only means by which he could perform his promise;--that
his father could very well spare the sum he wanted, and that it was
only taking before the time what by inheritance must be his own
hereafter.--In this imagination he opened the drawer, and was about to
pursue his intention, when he recollected that the money would
certainly be missed, and either the fault be laid upon some innocent
person, who might suffer for his crime; or he himself would be
suspected of a thing, which, in this second thought, he found so mean
and wicked, that he was shocked almost to death, for having been
capable of even a wish to be guilty of it.--He shut the drawer
again,--turned himself away, and was in the utmost confusion of mind,
when his father returned into the room; which shews that there is a
native honesty in the human nature, which nothing but a long practice
of base actions can wholly eradicate: and I dare believe that even
those we see most hardened in vice, have felt severe struggles within
themselves at first, and have often looked back upon the paths of
virtue, wishing, tho' fruitlesly, to return.

Natura, however, did not give over his pursuit of the means of
performing his promise: on the contrary, he thought himself obliged by
all the ties of love, honour, and even self-interest, to do it; but
difficult as he believed the task would be, he found it much more so
than he could even have imagined: his intimacy being only with such,
as being much of his own age, and like him were at an allowance from
their parents or guardians, it was not in the power of any of them to
contribute a large sum toward making up that he wanted; the most he
got from any one being no more than five guineas, and all he raised
among the whole amounted to no more than twenty, and some odd pounds.

Distracted with his ill fortune, he ventured to go to an uncle he had
by the mother's side, and after many complaints of his father's
parsimony, told him, that having been drawn into some expences, which,
though not extravagant, were more than his little purse could supply,
he had broke into some money given him to pay his taylor, whom he
feared would demand it of his father, and he knew not how far the
ill-will of his mother-in-law might exaggerate the matter; concluding
with an humble petition for twenty guineas, which he told him he would
faithfully return by degrees.

As Natura had the character of a sober youth, the good old gentleman
was moved by the distress he saw him in, and readily granted his
request, tho' not without some admonitions to confine for the future
his expences to his allowance, be it ever so small.

Thus Natura having with all his diligence not been able to raise quite
half of the sum in question, was quite distracted what to do, and as
he afterwards owned, more than once repented him of those scruples
which had prevented him from serving himself at once out of his
father's purse; tho' had the same opportunity again presented itself,
it is scarce possible to believe by the rest of his behaviour, that he
would have made use of it, or if he had, that he could have survived
the shame and remorse it would have caused in him.

In his desperation he ran at last to the house of a noted
money-scrivener, a great acquaintance of the family, and in his whose
hands his father frequently reposed his ready cash: to this man he
communicates his distress, and easily prevails with him to let him
have fifty pounds, on giving him a note to pay him an hundred for it
when he should come of age, his father having said he would then make
a settlement on him.

This, however, was still somewhat short of what Harriot had demanded;
but he left his watch at a pawn-broker's for the rest; and having
compleated the sum, went transported with joy, and threw it into the
lap of that idol of his soul; after which, he was for some days
perfectly at ease, indulging himself with all he at present wished
for, and losing no time in thought of what might happen to interrupt
his happiness.

But while he battened in the sun-shine of his pleasures, storms of
vexation were gathering over his head, which, when he least expected
such a shock, poured all their force upon him.

The first time his uncle happened to see his father, he fell on the
topic of the necessity there was for young gentlemen born to estates,
and educated in a liberal manner, to be enabled to keep his equals
company; adding, that if the parsimony of a parent, denied them an
allowance, agreeable to their rank, it might either drive them to ill
courses, or force them to associate themselves only with mean,
low-bred people, among whom they might lose all the politeness had
been inculcated into them. The father of Natura, well knowing he had
nothing to answer for on this account, never suspected this discourse
was directed to him in particular, and joined in his brother-in-law's
opinion, heartily blaming those parents, who, by being too sparing to
their children, destroyed all natural affection in them, and gave them
some sort of an excuse for wishing for their death:--he thanked God he
was not of that disposition, and then told him what he allowed per
quarter to Natura, 'with which,' added he, 'I believe he is intirely
satisfied.' The other replying, that indeed he thought it more than
sufficient, the conversation dropped; but what sentiments he now began
to conceive of his nephew it is easy to conceive; the father however
thought no farther of this, till soon after the scrivener came to wait
on him:--he was a perfect honest man, and had lent Natura the money
meerly to prevent his applying to some other person, who possibly
might have taken advantage of his thoughtlessness, so far as even to
have brought on his utter ruin, too many such examples daily happening
in the world: to deter him also from going on in this course, he
demanded that exorbitant interest for his money abovementioned, which,
notwithstanding, as he assured his father, in relating to him the
whole transaction, he was far from any intention to make him pay.

Never was astonishment greater than that in which the father of Natura
was now involved;--the discourse of his brother-in-law now came fresh
into his mind, and he recollected some words which, tho' he did not
observe at the time they were spoken, now convinced him had a meaning
which he could not have imagined there was any room for.--He had no
sooner parted from the scrivener, than he flew to that gentleman, and
having related to him what had passed between him and the scrivener,
conjured him, if he could give him any farther lights into the affair,
not to keep him in ignorance: on which the other thought it his duty
to conceal nothing, either of the complaints, or request had been made
him by his nephew:--after some exclamations on the extravagance and
thoughtlessness of youth, the afflicted father went in search of more
discoveries, which he found it but too easy to make among the
tradesmen, all of whom he found had been unpaid for some time.

It would be needless to go about to make any description of the
confusion of mind he was in:--he shut himself in his closet, uncertain
for some time how he should proceed; at last, as he considered there
was not a possibility of reclaiming his son from whatever vice had led
him thus all at once into such extravagancies, without first knowing
what kind of vice it was; he resolved to talk to him, and penetrate,
if possible, into the source of this evil.

Accordingly the next morning he went into the chamber where Natura was
yet in bed; and began to entertain him in the manner he had proposed
to himself:--first, he let him know, that he was not unacquainted with
every step he had taken for raising a sum, which he could not conceive
he had any occasion for, as well as his having with-held the money he
had given him to discharge his tradesmen's bills:--then proceeded to
set before his eyes the folly and danger of having hid, at his years,
any secrets from a parent; concluding with telling him, he had yet a
heart capable or forgiving what was past, provided he would behave in
a different manner for the future.

What Natura felt at finding so much of what he had done revealed to
his father, was greatly alleviated, by perceiving that the main thing,
his engagement with Harriot, was a secret to him:--he did not fail to
make large promises of being a better oeconomist, nor to express the
most dutiful gratitude for the pardon the good old gentleman so
readily offered; but this he told him was not sufficient to deserve a
re-establishment in his favour, he must also give him a faithful
account by what company, and for what purposes he had been induced to
such ill husbandry; 'for,' added he, 'without a sincere confession of
the motives of our past transactions, there can be little assurances
of future amendment.'

Natura to this only answered, that it was impossible to recount the
particulars of his expences, and made so many evasions, on his
father's still continuing to press his being more explicit, that he
easily perceived there would be no coming at the truth by gentle
means; and therefore, throwing off at once a tenderness so
ineffectual, he assumed all the authority of an offended parent, and
told the trembling Natura, that since he knew not how to behave as a
_son_, he should cease to be a _father_, in every thing but in his
authority:--'be assured,' said be, 'I shall take sure measures to
prevent you from bringing either ruin or disgrace upon a family of
which you are the first profligate:--this chamber must be your prison,
till I have considered in what fashion I shall dispose of you.'

With these words he flung out of the room, locking the door after him;
so that when Natura rose, as he immediately did, he found himself
indeed under confinement, which seemed so shameful a thing to him, that
he was ready to tear himself in pieces:--it was not the grief of having
offended so good a father, but the disgrace of the punishment inflicted
on him, which gave him the most poignant anguish, and far from feeling
any true contrition, he was all rage and madness, which having no means
to vent in words, discovered itself in sullenness:--when the servant to
whom he intrusted the key came in to bring him food, he refused to eat,
and could scarce restrain himself from throwing in the man's face what
he had brought.

It is certain, that while under this circumstance, he was agitated at
once by every different unruly passion:--pride, anger, spleen,
thinking himself a man, at finding the treatment of a _boy_, made him
almost hate the person from whom he received it.--The apprehensions
what farther meaning might be couched in the menace with which his
father left him, threw him sometimes into a terror little different
from convulsive;--but above all, his impatience for seeing his dear
Harriot, and the surprize, the grief, and perhaps the resentment, he
imagined she must feel on his absenting himself, drove him into a kind
of despair.

In fine, unable to sustain the violence of his agitations, on the
third night, regardless of what consequences might ensue from giving
this additional cause of displeasure to his father, he found means to
push back the lock of his chamber, and flew down stairs, and out at
the street-door with so much speed, that it would have been impossible
to have stopped him, had any one heard him, which none happened to do,
it being midnight, and all the family in a sound sleep.

That he went directly to the lodgings of Harriot, I believe my reader
will make no doubt; but perhaps her character does not yet enough
appear, to give any suspicion of the reception he found there.

In effect, she was no other than one of those common creatures, who
procure a miserable subsistance by the prostitution of their charms;
and as nature had not been sparing to her on that score, and she was
yet young, though less so than she appeared thro' art, she wanted not
a number of gallants, who all contributed, more or less, to her living
in the manner she did: several of these had happened to come when
Natura was with her; but she having had the precaution to acquaint
them with her design of drawing in this young spark for a husband,
they took the cue she gave them, each passing before him either for a
cousin, or one of the lawyers employed in her pretended suit.

It was with one of these equally happy, tho' less deluded rivals of
Natura, that finding he did not come, she had agreed to pass this
night; and her maid, as the servants of such women, for the most part,
imitate their mistresses, happened to be at the door, either about to
introduce, or let out a lover of her own;--the sight of a man at that
time of night, with one who belonged to his beloved, immediately fired
Natura with jealousy:--he seized the fellow by the collar, and in a
voice hoarse with rage, asked him what business he had there? To which
the other replied only with a blow on the face, the wench shrieked out,
but Natura was either stronger or more nimble than his competitor; he
presently tripped up his heels, and ran up stairs.--Harriot and her
lover hearing somewhat of a scuffle, the latter started out of bed, and
opened the chamber-door, in order to listen what had occasioned it,
just as Natura had reached the stair-case.--If his soul was inflamed
before, what must it now have been, to see a man in his shirt, and just
risen from the arms of Harriot, who still lay trembling in bed:--he
flew upon him like an incensed lion; but the other being more robust,
soon disengaged himself and snatching his sword, which lay on a table
near the door, was going to put an end to the life of his disturber;
when Harriot cried out, 'Hold! hold!--for heaven's sake!--It is my
husband!'--Natura having no weapon wherewith he might defend himself,
or hurt his adversary, revenge gave way to self-preservation; and only
saying, 'husband, no;--I will die rather than be the husband of so vile
a woman,' run down with the same precipitation he had come up.

Impossible it is to describe the condition of his mind when got into
the street:--his once violent affection was now converted into the
extremest hatred and contempt;--he detested not only Harriot, and the
whole sex, but even himself, for having been made the dupe of so
unworthy a creature, and could have tore out his own heart, for having
joined with her in deceiving him.--Having wandered about some time,
giving a loose to his fury, the considerations of what he should do,
at last took their turn:--home he could not go, the servant who used
to admit him knew nothing of his being out, and he durst not alarm the
family by knocking at the door, having passed by several times, and
found all fast.

In this perplexity, as he went through a street he had not been used
to frequent, he saw a door open, and a great light in a kind of hall,
with servants attending:--he asked one of them to whom it belonged,
and was told it was a gaming-house, on which he went in, not with any
desire of playing, but to pass away some time; finding a great deal of
company there, he notwithstanding engaged himself at one of the
tables, and tho' he was not in a humour which would permit him to
exert much skill, he won considerably.

The company did not break up till five in the morning, and he then
growing drowsy, and yet unable to find any excuse to make to his
father, he could not think of seeing his face, so went to a bagnio to
take that repose he had sufficient need of, the fatigues of his mind
having never suffered him to enjoy any sound sleep, since his father's
discovery of the extravagance he had been guilty of.

On his awaking, the transaction of the preceding night returned to his
remembrance with all its galling circumstances, and the more he
reflected on his disobedience to his father, the less he could endure
the thoughts of coming into his presence:--in fine, that shame which
so often prevents people from doing amiss, was now the motive which
restrained him from doing what he ought to have done.--Had he
immediately gone home, thrown himself at his father's feet, and
confessed the truth, his youthful errors had doubtless merited
forgiveness; but this, though he knew it was both his duty, and his
interest, he could not prevail on himself to do; and to avoid the
rebukes he was sensible were due to his transgressions, he resolved to
hide himself as long as he could from the faces of all those who had a
right to make them.

In fine, he led the life of a perfect vagabond, sculking from one
place to another, and keeping company with none but gamesters, rakes,
and sharpers, falling into all manner of dissolution; and whenever his
reason remonstrated any thing to him on these vicious courses, he
would then, to banish remorse for one fault, fly to others, yet worse,
and more destructive.

It is true, he often looked back upon his _former_ behaviour, and was
struck with horror at comparing it with the _present_;--the reflection
too how much his mother-in-law might take advantage of the just
displeasure of his father against him, to prejudice him in his future
fortune, even to cause him to be disinherited, sometimes most cruelly
alarmed him; yet, not all this, nor the wants he was plunged in on an
ill run at play, (which was the sole means by which he subsisted) were
sufficient to bring him to do that which he now even wished to do,
tired with the conversation of those profligates, and secretly shocked
at the scenes of libertinism he was a daily witness of.

His thoughts thus divided and perplexed, he at length fell into a kind
of despair; and not caring what became of himself, he resolved to
enter on board some ship, and never see England again, unless fortune
should do more than he had reason to hope for in his favour.




CHAP. VI.

  Shews the great force of natural affection and the good effects it
  has over a grateful mind.


If children could be sensible of parental tenderness, or knew what
racking cares attend every misdoing of an offending offspring, the
heart of Natura would have been so much touched with what his father
endured on his account, as to have enabled him to have got the better
of that guilty shame, which alone hindered him from submitting to him;
but conscious of deferring only the severest reproofs, he could not
flatter himself there was a hope of ever being reinstated in that
affection he had once possessed, and was too proud to content himself
with less.

That afflicted parent being informed of his son's flight, spared no
cost or pains to find out the place of his retreat; but all his
enquiries were in vain, and he was wholly in the dark, till it came
into his head to search a little escritore which stood in his chamber,
and of which he had taken away the key: on breaking it open, he found
the counterpart of his contract with Harriot, and by that discovery
was no longer at a loss for the motives which had obliged his son to
raise money, not doubting but the woman was either extremely indigent;
or a jilt: but to think the heir of his estate had been so weak as to
enter into so solemn and irretrievable an engagement, with a person of
either of these characters, gave him an inexpressible disquiet. All
his endeavours were now bent on finding her out, not in the least
questioning but his son was with her: the task was pretty difficult,
the contract discovering no more of her than her name, and the parish
in which she lived; yet did the emissaries he employed at last
surmount it: they brought him word not only of the exact place where
she lodged, but also of her character, as they learned it from the
neighbours; they heard also that a young gentleman, whose description
answered that of Natura, had been often seen with her, and that she
had given out she was married to him.

The father having received this information, consulted with his
brother-in-law what course was to be taken, and both being of opinion,
that should any enquiry be made concerning Natura, it would only
oblige them to quit their lodgings, and fly to some place where,
perhaps, it would be more difficult to trace them; it was agreed to
get a lord chief justice's warrant, and search her lodgings, without
giving any previous alarm.

This was no sooner resolved than put in execution: the father and
uncle, attended by proper officers, burst into the house, and examined
carefully every part of it; but not finding him, they sought, and
perfectly perswaded Harriot could give intelligence of him, they
threatened her severely, and here she displayed herself in her proper
colours;--nothing ever behaved with greater impudence:--she told them,
that she knew nothing of the fool they wanted; but if she could find
him, would make him know what the obligations between them exacted
from him: in fine, it was easy for them to perceive, there was nothing
satisfactory to be obtained from her, and they departed with akeing
hearts, but left not the street without securing to their interest a
person in the neighbourhood, who promised to keep a continual eye upon
her door, and if they ever saw the young gentleman go in, to send them
immediate notice.

It is needless to acquaint the reader how fruitless this precaution
was: Natura was far from any inclination ever more to enter that
detested house, and in that desponding humour, already mentioned, had
certainly left the kingdom, and compleated his utter undoing, if
Providence had not averted his design, by the most unexpected means.

He was at Wapping, in the company of some persons who used the sea, in
order to get into some ship, he cared not in what station, when a
young man, clerk to an eminent merchant of his father's acquaintance,
happened to come in, to enquire after the master of a vessel, by whom
some goods belonging to his master were to be shipped: he had often
seen Natura, and though much altered by his late way of living, knew
him to be the person whom he had heard so great a search had been made
after: he took no notice of him however, as he found the other bent
earnestly in discourse did not observe him, but privately informed
himself of all he could relating to his business there, and as soon as
he came home acquainted his master with the discovery he had made, who
did not fail to let his father know it directly.

It is hard to say, whether joy at hearing of his son, or grief at
hearing he was in so miserable a condition, was most predominant in
him; but the first emotions of both being a little moderated, the
consideration of what was to be done, took place:--the clerk having
found out that he was lodged in an obscure house at that place, in
order to get on board the first ship that sailed, the father would
needs go himself, and the merchant offering to accompany him in their
little journey, a plan of proceeding was formed between them, which
was executed in the following manner.

They went together into a tavern, and sent to the house the clerk had
directed, under pretence, that hearing a young man was there who had
an inclination for the sea, a master of a ship would be glad to treat
with him on that affair.--Natura, happily for him, not having yet an
opportunity of engaging himself, obeyed the summons, and followed the
messenger:--his father withdrew into another room, but so near as to
hear what passed, and there was only the merchant to receive him; but
the sight of one he so little expected in that place, and whom he knew
was so intimate in their family, threw him into a most terrible
consternation. He started back, and had certainly quitted the house,
if the merchant, aware of his intention, had not catched hold of him,
and getting between him and the door, compelled him to sit down while
he talked to him.

He began with asking what had induced him to think of leaving England
in the manner he was going to do;--reminded him of the estate to which
he was born, the family from which he was descended, and the education
which he had received; and then set before his eyes the tenderness
with which his father had used him, the grief to which he had exposed
him, and above all the madness of his present intentions:--Natura knew
all this as well as he that remonstrated to him; but as he had not
been capable of listening to his own reflections on that head, all
that was said had not the least effect upon him, and the merchant
could get no other answer from him, than that as things had happened,
he had no other course to take.

The truth was, that as he could not imagine by what means the merchant
was apprized of his design, he thought his father was also not
ignorant of it; and as he did not vouchsafe either to come in person,
or send any message to him from himself, and perhaps was even ignorant
that the merchant had any intention of reclaiming him, he looked upon
it as a confirmation of his having intirely thrown off all care of
him, and in this supposition he became more resolute than ever in his
mind, to go where he never might be heard of more.

'What though,' said the merchant, 'you have been guilty of some
youthful extravagancies, I am perfectly assured there requires no more
than your submitting to intreat forgiveness, to receive: come,'
continued he, 'I will undertake to be your mediator, and dare answer I
shall prevail.'--'No, sir,' replied Natura, 'I am conscious of having
offended beyond all possibility of a pardon;--nor can I ever bear to
see my father again.'

The merchant laboured all he could to overcome this mingled pride and
shame, which he perceived was the only obstacle to his return to duty;
but to no purpose, Natura continued obstinate and inflexible, till his
father, having no longer patience to keep himself concealed, rushed
into the room, and looking on his son with a countenance which, in
spite of all the severity he had endeavoured to assume, betrayed only
tenderness and grief.--'So, young man,' said he, 'you think it then my
place to seek a reconciliation, and are perhaps too stubborn to accept
forgiveness, even though I should condescend to offer it.'

Natura was so thunderstruck at the appearance of his father, and the
manner in which he accosted him, that he was far from being able to
speak one word, but threw himself at his feet, with a look which
testified nothing but confusion: that action, however, denoting that
he had not altogether forgot himself, melted the father's heart; he
raised him, and forcing him to sit down in a chair close by him;
'Well, Natura,' said he, 'you have been disobedient to an excess; I
wish it were possible for your distresses to have given you a remorse
in proportion;--I am still a _father_, if you can be a _son._'--He
would have proceeded, but was not able:--the meagre aspect, dejected
air, and wretched appearance of a son so dear to him, threw him into a
condition which destroyed all the power of maintaining that reserve
which he thought necessary to his character.

Natura, on the other hand, was so overcome with the unhoped-for
gentleness of his behaviour, that he burst into a flood of
tears.--Filial gratitude and love, joined with the thoughts of what he
had done to deserve a far different treatment, so overwhelmed his
heart, that he could express himself no other way than by falling on
his knees a second time, and embracing the legs of his father, with a
transport, I know not whether to say of grief or joy; continued in
that posture for a considerable time, overwhelmed at once with shame,
with gratitude, and love:--at length, gaining the power of
utterance,--'O sir,' cried he, 'how unworthy am I of your
goodness!'--but then recollecting as it were somewhat more; 'yet
sure,' pursued he, 'it is not possible you can forgive me all.--I have
been guilty of worse than, perhaps, you yet have been informed of:--I
am a wretch who have devoted myself to infamy and destruction, and you
cannot, nay ought not to forgive me.'

The father was indeed very much alarmed at this expression, as fearing
it imported his distresses had drove him to be guilty of some crime of
which the law takes cognizance.--'I hope,' said he, 'your having
signed a contract with an abandoned prostitute, is the worst action of
your life?'

It is impossible to describe the pleasure with which Natura found his
father was apprized of this affair, without being obliged to relate it
himself, as he was now determined to have done:--all his obduracy
being now intirely vanquished, and converted into the most tender,
affectionate, and dutiful submission.

'Can there be a worse?' replied he, renewing his embraces, 'and can
you know it, and yet vouchsafe to look on me as your son!'--'If your
penitence be sincere,' said the good old gentleman, 'I neither can,
nor ought refuse to pardon all:--but rise,' continued he, 'and freely
give this worthy friend and myself, the satisfaction we require;--a
full confession of all your misbehaviour, is the only attonement you
can make, and that I can expect from you:--remember I have signed your
pardon for all that is past, but shall not include in it any future
acts of disobedience, among which, dissimulation, evasion or
concealment, in what I demand to be laid open, I shall look upon as of
the worst and most incorrigible kind.'

He needed not have laid so strong an injunction on the now truly
contrite Natura;--he disguised nothing of what he had done, even to
the mean arts of gaming, to which he had been obliged to have recourse
after his voluntary banishment from all his friends; and then painted
the horrors he conceived at the things he daily saw, and the despair
which had induced him to leave England, in such lively colours, that
not only his father, but the merchant, were affected by it, even to
the letting fall some tears.

But not to be too tedious in this part of my narration, never was
there a more perfect reconciliation:--the father till now knew not how
much he loved his son, nor the son before felt half that dutiful
affection and esteem for his father.

It now remained to conclude how the forgiven youth was to be
disposed:--there were two reasons which rendered it imprudent for him
to go home; first, on the score of his mother-in-law, who being better
informed than her husband could have wished, of the errors of his son,
he feared would have behaved to him in a fashion which, he easily
foresaw, would be attended with many inconveniences; even perhaps to
the driving him back into his late vicious courses; and secondly, on
that of the contract, which it would be more difficult to get Harriot
to relinquish, if Natura were known to be re-established in his
father's favour, than if concealed and supposed still in disgrace with
him.--The generous merchant made an offer of an apartment in his
house; but Natura, who had not seen his sister of a long time,
proposed a visit to her; as thinking the society of that dear and
prudent relation, would not only console, but establish him in virtue.

The father listened to both, and after some little deliberation, told
his son, that he approved of his going to his sister for a month or
two, or three, at his own option; 'but,' said he, 'it is not fit a
young man like you should bury yourself for any long time in the
country;--you are now of a right age to travel, and I would have you
enlarge your understanding by the sight of foreign manners and
customs:--I would, therefore, have you make a short visit to my
daughter, after which, accept of my friend's invitation, and in the
mean time I shall prepare things proper for your making the tour of
Europe, under a governor who may keep you in due limits.'

Had Natura never offended his father, the utmost he could have wished
from his indulgence, was a proposal of this kind:--he was in a perfect
extasy, and knew not how sufficiently to express his gratitude and
satisfaction; on talking, however, more particularly on the affair, it
was agreed he should go first to the merchant's, in order to be new
cloathed, and recover some part of those good looks his late dissolute
way of life had so much impaired.

Every thing being settled so much to the advantage of Natura, even a
few hours made some alteration in his countenance; so greatly does the
ease of the mind contribute to the welfare of the body!--he parted not
till night from this indulgent parent, when he went home with the
merchant, and had the next day tradesmen of all kinds sent for, who
had orders to provide, in their several ways, every thing necessary
for a young gentleman born to the estate he was.--As youth is little
regardless of futurity, he forgot, for a time, what consequences might
possibly attend his contract with Harriot, and was as perfectly at
ease, as if no such thing had ever happened. When fully equipped, he
went down into that country where his sister lived, and if the least
thought of his former transactions remained in him, they were now
intirely dissipated, by the kind reception he there met with, and the
entertainments made for him by the neighbouring gentry.

But his heart being bent on his travels, and receiving a letter from
his father, wherein he acquainted him that all things were ready for
his departure, he took leave of the country, after a stay of about
nine weeks, and returned to the merchant's, where his father soon came
to see him, and told him, he had provided a governor for him, who had
served several of the sons of the nobility in that capacity, and was
perfectly acquainted with the languages and manners of the countries
through which they were to pass.

This tender parent moreover acquainted him, that having consulted the
lawyers, on the score of that unhappy obligation he had laid himself
under to Harriot, and finding they had given it as their assured
opinion, that it was drawn up in the most binding and authentic
manner, he had offered that creature a hundred guineas to give up her
claim; but she had obstinately rejected his proposal, and seemed
determined to compel him to the performance of his contract; or in
case he married any other woman, to prosecute him for the moiety of
whatever portion he should receive with her.

The mention of this woman, who had given Natura so much disquiet, and
who indeed had been the primary cause of all his follies and
misfortunes, together with the thoughts of what future inconveniencies
she might involve him in, both on the account of his fortune and
reputation, made him relapse into his former agitations, and
afterwards rendered him extremely pensive, and he could not forbear
crying out, that he would chuse rather to abandon England for ever,
and, pass the whole remainder of his days in foreign climates, than
yield to become the prey any way of so wicked, so infamous a wretch,
'whom,' said he, 'I shall never think on, without hating myself for
having ever loved.'

The good-natured merchant, as well as his father, perceiving these
reflections began to take too much root in him, joined in endeavouring
to alleviate the asperity of them, by telling him, that it was their
opinion, as indeed it seemed highly probable, that when he was once
gone, she would be more easily prevailed upon; especially as the
reconciliation between him and his father was to be kept an inviolable
secret. The old gentleman also added, in order to make him easy, that
how exorbitant soever she might be in her demands, and whatever it
should cost, though it were the half of his estate, he would rid him
of the contract; which second proof of paternal affection, renewed in
Natura, as well it might, fresh sentiments of love, joy, and duty; and
the same promise being again and again reiterated, he soon resumed his
former chearfulness, and thought of nothing but the new scenes he was
going to pass through.

In fine, not many days elapsed before he departed, with his governor
and one footman, who had been an antient servant in the family.--As
their first route was to France, they went in the Dover stage, and
thence embarked for Calais, without any thing material happening,
except it were, that on sight of the ocean, Natura was fired with a
devout rhapsody at the thoughts of finding himself upon it, in a
manner so vastly different from that in which, but a few months since,
his despair had led him to project; and the resolution he made within
himself never to be guilty of any thing hereafter, which should
occasion a blush on his own face, or incur the displeasure of a
father, to whom he looked upon himself as much more indebted, for the
forgiveness he had received, than for being the author of his
existence.

So great an effect has mercy and benevolence over a heart not hardened
by a long practice of vice! How far Natura persevered in these good
intentions, we shall hereafter see; but the very ability of forming
them, shews that there is a native gratitude and generosity in the
human mind, which, in spite of the prevalence of unruly passions,
will, at sometimes, shine forth, even in the most thoughtless and
inconsiderate.






BOOK the Second.




CHAP. I.

  The inconsideration and instability of youth; when unrestrained by
  authority, is here exemplified, in an odd adventure Natura embarked
  in with two nuns, after the death of his governor.


Novelty has charms for persons of all ages, but more especially in
youth, when manhood is unripened by maturity, when all the passions
are afloat, and reason not sufficiently established in her throne by
experience and reflection, the mind is fluctuating, easily carried
down the stream of every different inclination that invites, and
seldom or never has a constant bent.

From seventeen or eighteen to one or two and twenty, I look upon to be
that season of life in which all the errors we commit, will admit of
most excuse, because we are then at an age to think ourselves men,
without the power of acting as becomes reasonable men. It was in the
midst of this dangerous time, that Natura set out in order to make the
tour of Europe, and his governor dying soon after their arrival in
Paris, our young traveller was left to himself, and at liberty to
pursue whatever he had a fancy for.

The death of this gentleman was in effect a very great misfortune to
Natura; but as at his time of life we are all too apt to be impatient
under any restraint, tho' never so mild and reasonable, he did not
consider it in that light; and therefore less lamented his loss, than
his good nature would have made him do, had he been the companion of
his travels in any other station than that of governor, the very name
of which implied a right of direction over his behaviour, and a power
delegated by his father of circumscribing every thing he did. I
believe, whoever looks back upon himself at that age, will be
convinced by the retrospect, that there was nothing wonderful in
Natura's imagining he had now discretion enough to regulate his
conduct, without being under the controul of any person whatever; and
could not, for that reason, be much afflicted at being eased of a
subordination not at all agreeable to his humour, and which he thought
he had not the least occasion for.

The baron d' Eyrac had often invited him to pass some days with him,
at a fine villa he had about some ten leagues from Paris; but his
governor not having approved that visit, he had hitherto declined
it.--He now, however, took it into his head to go, and as the distance
was so short, went on horseback, attended by his footman, with a
portmanteau containing some linnen and cloaths, his intention being to
remain there while the baron stayed, which, as he was informed, would
be three weeks, or a month;--it being then the season for hunting, and
that part of the country well suited for the diversion.

He had been on a party of pleasure a considerable way on this road
before, so thought he had no occasion for a guide, and that he should
easily be directed to the house; but it so happened that being got
about twenty miles from Paris he missed his route, and took one the
direct contrary, and which at last brought him to the entrance of a
very thick wood:--there was not the least appearance of any human
creature, nor the habitation of one, and he was beginning to consult
with his servant whether to go back, or proceed till they should
arrive at some town or village for refreshment, when all at once there
fell the most terrible shower of hail and rain, accompanied with
thunder, that ever was heard;--this determined them to go into the
wood for shelter:--the storm continued till night, and it was then so
dark, that they could distinguish nothing:--they wandered, however,
leading their horses in their hands, for it was impossible to ride,
hoping to find some path, by which they might extricate themselves out
of that horrid labyrinth.

Some hours were passed in this perplexed situation, and Natura
expected no better than to remain there till morning, when he heard a
voice at a little distance, cry, 'Who goes there?' Never had any music
been half so pleasing to the ears of Natura. 'Friends,' replied he,
'and travellers, that have lost their way.' On this the person who had
spoke, drew nearer, and asked whither they were bent. Natura told him
to the villa of the baron d' Eyrac. 'The baron d' Eyrac,' said the
other, 'he lives twelve miles on the other side the wood, and that is
five miles over.'--He then asked if there were no town near, to which
he could direct them.--'No,' replied the other, 'but there is a little
village where is one inn, and that is above half a league off:--you
will never find your way to it; but if you will pay me, I will guide
you.' Natura wished no more, and having agreed with him for his hire,
followed where he led.

Nothing that was ever called an inn, had so much the shew of
wretchedness; nor could it be expected otherwise, for being far from
any great road, it was frequented only by shepherds, and others the
meanest sort of peasants, who worked in the adjacent grounds, or
tended the cattle.

In this miserable place was Natura obliged to take up his lodging:--he
lay down, indeed, on the ragged dirty mattress, but durst not take off
his cloaths, so noisome was every thing about him:--fatigued as he
was, he could not close his eyes till towards day, but had not slept
above two hours before the peasant who had served him as a guide, and
had also stayed at the inn, came into his room, and waked him
abruptly, telling him the lady abbess desired to speak with
him.--Natura was much vexed at this disturbance, and not sufficiently
awaked to recollect himself, only cried peevishly, 'What have I to do
with abbesses,' and then turned to sleep again.

On his second waking, his footman acquainted him, that a priest waited
to see him:--Natura then remembered what the peasant had said, but
could not conceive what business these holy people had with him; he
went down however immediately, and was saluted by a reverend
gentleman, who told him, that the lady abbess of a neighbouring
monastery (whose almoner he was) hearing from one of her shepherds the
distress he had been in, had sent to intreat he would come, and
refresh himself with what her convent afforded.

Natura was now ashamed of having been so rough with the peasant, but
well atoned for it by the handsome apology he now made; after which he
told the almoner, that he would receive the abbess's commands as soon
as he was in a condition to be seen by her.--This was what good
manners exacted from him, tho' in truth he had no inclination for a
visit, in which he proposed so little satisfaction.

He then made his servant open the portmanteau, and give him such
things as were proper to equip him for this visit; and while he was
dressing, was informed by his host, that this abbess was a woman of
quality, very rich, and owned the village they were in, and several
others, which brought her in more rent.

If the vanity so natural to a young heart, made Natura, on this
information, pleased and proud of the consideration such a lady had
for him while unknown, how much more cause had he to be so, when being
shewn by the same peasant into the monastery, he was brought into a
parlour, magnificently furnished, and no sooner had sat down, than a
very beautiful woman, whom he soon found was the lady abbess, appeared
behind the grate, and welcomed him with the most elegant compliments.

He had never been in a monastery before, and had a notion that all the
nuns, especially the abbesses, were ill-natured old women: he was
therefore so much surprized at the sight of this lady, that he had
scarce power to return the politeness she treated him with.--Her age
exceeded not twenty-four; she was fair to an excess, had fine-turned
features, and an air which her ecclesiastic habit could not deprive of
its freedom; but the enchanting manner of her conversation, her wit,
and the gaiety that accompanied all she said, so much astonished and
transported him, that he cried out, without knowing that he did so,
'Good God!--is it possible a monastery can contain such charms!'--She
affected to treat the admiration he expressed, as no other than meer
bagatelle; but how serious a satisfaction she took in it, a very
little time discovered.

'A monastery,' said she, 'is not so frightful a solitude as you, being
a stranger to the manners of this country, have perhaps painted to
yourself:--I have companions in whom I believe you will find some
agreements.'--She then rung a bell, and ordered an attending nun, or
what they call a lay-sister, to call some of the sisterhood, whose
names she mentioned; and presently came two nuns, with a third lady in
a different habit; the least handsome of these might have passed for a
beauty, but she that was the most so I shall call Elgidia; she was
sister to the abbess, but wanted a good many of her years, and being
intended for a monastic life by their parents, had been sent there as
a pensioner, till she should be prevailed upon to take the veil.

The abbess, having learned from Natura that he was from England, told
them, in a few words, what she knew of him, and the motive of the
invitation she had made him; then desired they would entertain him
till her return, having some affair, which called her thence for a
small time.

As Elgidia appeared by her dress to be more a woman of this world than
her companions, he directed his discourse chiefly to her; but whether
it were that she had less gaiety in her temper, or that she was that
moment taken up with some very serious thought, Natura could not be
certain, but he found her much less communicative, than either of
those, whose profession seemed to exact greater reserve.

As Natura spoke French perfectly well, and delivered all he said with
a great deal of ease, they were very much pleased with his
conversation; and yet more so, when, at the return of the abbess, that
wit and spirit they before found in him, seemed to have gained an
additional vigour.

The truth is, the first sight of this beautiful abbess had very much
struck him; and a certain prepossession in her favour, had rendered
him not so quick-sighted as he might otherwise have been to the charms
of her sister:--not that he was absolutely in love with her, nor
entertained the least wish in prejudice to the sanctity of her order;
it was rather an _admiration_ he was possessed with on her account,
which the surprize, at finding her person and manner so widely
different from what he had expected, contributed very much to excite
in him.

The breakfast, which consisted of chocolate, tea, coffee, rich cakes,
and sweetmeats, was served upon the Turnabout; but the abbess told
him, that their monastery had greater privileges than any other in
France; for they were not restrained from entertaining their kindred
and friends, tho' of a different sex, within the grate; 'as you shall
experience,' said she, with the most obliging air, 'if you will favour
us with your company at dinner.'

Nothing could be more pleasing to Natura than this invitation, and it
cannot, therefore, be supposed he hesitated much to comply with it;
however, as the hour of their devotion drew nigh, and forms must be
observed, he was desired to take a tour round about the village till
twelve, at which time they told him dinner would be on the table.

He was still in so much amazement at what he had seen and heard, that
he was not sorry at having an opportunity of being alone, to reflect
on all had passed; but the deeper he entered into thought, the more
strange it still seemed to him; till happening accidentally to fall
into some discourse with a gentleman in the village, he was told by
him, that the nunnery they were in sight of, was called, Le Convent de
Riche Dames; that none but women of condition entered themselves into
it, and that they enjoyed liberties little different from those that
live in the world:--'It is true,' said this person, 'the gay manner in
which they behave, has drawn many reflections on their order, yet I
know not but they may be equally innocent with those of the most
rigid.'

This was enough to shew Natura, that the civilities he received, were
only such as any stranger, who appeared of some rank, might be treated
with, as well as himself; and served to abate that little vanity
which, without this information, might have gained ground in his
heart; at least it did so for the present: what reasons he founds
afterwards for the indulging it, the reader will anon be enabled to
judge.

He was not, however, without a good deal of impatience for the hour
appointed for his return, which being arrived, the portress admitted
him into a fine room behind the grate, where he found the abbess,
Elgidia, the two nuns he had seen in the morning, and another, which,
it seems, were all the abbess thought proper should be present.

The table was elegantly served, and the richness of the wines, helped
very much to exhilerate the spirits of the company.--Elgidia alone
spoke little, tho' what she said was greatly to the purpose, and
discovered that it was not for want either of sentiment or words she
retained so great a taciturnity.--Natura saying somewhat, that shewed
he took notice how singular she was in this point, the abbess replied,
that her sister did not like a convent, that the comedy, the opera,
and ball, had more charms for her than devotion. On which Natura made
some feint attempts to justify a goute for those public diversions,
but was silenced by the abbess, who maintained the only true
felicities of life were religion and friendship. 'What then do you
make of love, madam?' cried he briskly: 'love, the first command of
Heaven, and the support of this great universe:--love, which gives a
relish to every other joy, and'--he was going on, but the abbess
interrupted him, 'Hold!--Hold!' said she, 'this is not a discourse fit
for these sacred precincts.'--But these words were uttered in a sound,
and accompanied with a look, which wholly took away their austerity,
and it was easy for Natura to perceive by the manner in which they
were spoke, as well as by a sigh, which escaped Elgidia at the same
time, that neither of these ladies were in reality enemies to the
passion he was defending.

Some little time after dinner was over, Natura was about to take his
leave; but the abbess told him, that she had formed a design to punish
him for pretending to espouse the cause of love; 'and that is,' said
she, 'by detaining you in a place, where you must never speak, nor
hear a word, in favour of it':--'we have,' continued she, 'a little
apartment adjoining to the monastery, tho' not in it, which serves to
accommodate such friends as visit us, and are too far from home to
return the same day:--you must not refuse to pass at least one night
in it; and I dare promise you, that you will not find yourself worse
lodged, than the preceding one:--your servant may also lie in the same
house, and I will send your horses to a neighbouring farmer; who will
take care of them.'

The manner in which this request was urged, had somewhat in it too
obliging, for Natura to have denied, in good manners, even if his
inclinations had been opposite; but indeed he was too much charmed
with the conversation of the lovely abbess, and her fair associates,
to be desirous of quitting it.--He not only stayed that night, but
also, on their continuing to ask it, many succeeding ones.--He lay in
the apartment above-mentioned, breakfasted, dined, and supped in the
convent, as if a pensioner in the place, always in the same company,
and ambitious of no other.

The gallantries with which he treated the abbess, were as tender as
innocence would permit; nor did he presume to harbour any views of
being happier with her than he was at present.

But see! the strange caprice of love! It was not through a coldness of
constitution, nor any confederations of her quality and function,
which rendered him so content with enjoying no more of her than her
conversation; nor that hindered him from taking advantage of many
advances she made him, whenever they were alone, of becoming more
particular; but it was the progress Elgidia every day made in his
esteem:--the more he saw that beautiful young lady, the more he
thought her charming; and every time she spoke discovered to him a new
fund of wit, and sweetness of disposition:--it was not in her power to
erase the first impression her sister had made on him, but it was to
stop the admiration he had for her from growing up into a
passion:--whenever he saw either of them alone, he thought her most
amiable he was with; and when they were together, he was divided
between both.

For upwards of a month did he continue in the same place, and in the
same situation of mind; but then either the abbess's own good sense,
or the advice of some friend, remonstrating to her, that so long a
stay of a young gentleman, who was known to be not of her kindred,
might occasion discourses to her disreputation, and that of the
monastery in general; she took the opportunity one day, when he was
making an offer of going, as he frequently did, to speak to him in
this manner:

'I know not how,' said she, 'to part with you, and I flatter myself
you think of going, rather because you imagine your tarrying here for
any length of time, might be inconvenient for us, than because you are
tired of the reception you have found here.'

'Ah madam!' cried he, 'be assured I could live for ever here;--and
that I only grieve that such a hope is impossible.--If what you now
say is sincere,' answered she, 'you may at least prolong the happiness
we at present enjoy:--but I shall put you to the proof,' continued
she, looking on him with eyes in which the most eager passion was
visibly painted,--'to hush the tongue of censure, you shall remove to
a town about seven miles distant, where there are many good houses, in
one of which you may lodge, under pretence of liking the air of this
country, and visit us, as other of our friends do, as frequently as
you please, without endangering any remarks, even though you should
stay with us three or four nights at a time.'

Natura was so ravished at this proposal, and the kind, almost fond
manner, in which it was made, that he catched hold of her hand, and
kissed it, with a vehemence not conformable to a Platonic
affection:--she seemed, however, far from being offended at his
boldness, which had perhaps proceeded to greater lengths, had not
Elgidia at that instant come into the room.--The abbess was a little
disconcerted, but to conceal it as well as she could, 'sister,' said
she, 'I have made our guest the proposal I mentioned to you this
morning, and leave you to second it': with these words she withdrew.

Elgidia appeared in little less confusion than her sister had done;
but Natura was in infinitely more than either of them.--The sudden
sight of her who possessed at least half of his affections, just in
the moment he was in a kind of rapture with another, struck him like
the ghost of a departed mistress; and tho' he had never made any
declaration of love either to the one or the other, yet his heart
reproached him with a secret perfidy, and he durst scarce lift his
eyes to her face, when with a timid voice he at last said, 'Madam, may
I hope you take any interest in what your sister has been speaking
of?'--'You may be sure I do,' replied she, 'in all that concerns the
abbess; as to my farther sentiments on your staying or going, they can
be of no consequence to you.'--'How, madam!' resumed he, by this time
a little re-assured, 'of no consequence! You know nothing of my heart,
if you know it not incapable of forming the least wish but to please
you.'

He said many other tender and gallant things to her, in order to
engage her to add her commands to those of the abbess; but, either the
belief that he was wholly devoted to that lady, or the natural reserve
of her temper, would suffer her to let him draw no more from her, than
that she should share in the happiness her sister proposed to herself,
in his continuing so near them.

But tho' Elgidia could command her words, she could not have so much
power over her eyes as to keep them from betraying a tenderness not
inferior to that of her sister; and Natura had the satisfaction of
finding he was beloved by both these amiable women, without thinking
himself so far attached to either, as not to be able to break off
whenever he pleased.

But to what end tended all this gallantry! to what purpose was all
this waste of time, in an amour, which either had no aim in view, or
if it had, must be such a one, as must turn to the confusion of the
persons concerned in it!--These indeed are questions any one might
naturally ask, but could not have been resolved by Natura, who took a
pleasure in prosecuting the adventure, and neither examined what he
proposed by it himself, or considered what consequences might ensue;
and herein he but acted as most others do of his age, who rarely give
themselves the pains of consulting what _may_, or _will be_, when
pleased with what _is_.

He went to the place the abbess had directed, but imagined he should
be very much at a loss for amusement, being wholly a stranger to every
body. He would doubtless have been so, had his retreat been in any
other country than France; but as it is the peculiar characteristic of
that nation to entertain at first sight with the same freedom and
communicativeness of a long acquaintance, he soon found himself
neither without company nor diversion:--whether he had an inclination
to hunt, or dance, or play, he always met with persons ready to join
in the party, so that the intervals he passed there, between his
visits to the monastery, seemed not at all tedious to him.

The ladies, however, were far from being forgotten by him; ten days
had not elapsed, before he returned to renew, or rather to improve,
the impression he had both given and received.--The abbess appeared
all life and spirit at his return, but Elgidia was more melancholly
than when he left her; but it was a melancholly which had in it
somewhat of a soft languor, which was very engaging to Natura,
especially as he had reason to believe, by several looks and
expressions, which in some unguarded moments fell from her, that he
had the greatest interest in it.

The oftener he saw her, the more he was confirmed in this conjecture;
but as he could not be assured of it, never treated her in a manner
which should give her room to guess what his thoughts were, for fear
of meeting with a rebuff, which would have been too mortifying to his
vanity:--but as the belief of being beloved by her, rendered her
insensibly more dear to him; the regards he paid her, and the sighs
which frequently issued from his breast when he approached her, did
not escape the notice of the quick-sighted abbess; and disdaining a
competitorship in a heart she thought she had wholly engrossed,
resolved to be more plain than hitherto she had been, in order to
bring him to declare himself.

With this view she led him one day into the garden, and being seated in
a close arbour, where there was no danger of being overheard,--'Natura,'
said she, 'I doubt not but you may perceive, by the civilities I have
treated you with, that you are not indifferent to me; but as you cannot
be sensible to how great a degree my regard for you extends, it remains
that I confess to you there is but one thing wanting to compleat the
intire conquest of my heart'; 'and that is,' continued she, fixing her
eyes intently on his face, 'that you will cease for the future to pay
those extraordinary assiduities to Elgidia you have lately done.'

How much soever Natura was transported at the beginning of this
discourse, the closure of it gave him an inexpressible shock, insomuch
that he was wholly unable to make any reply, to testify the sense he
had of the obligation she conferred on him. 'I see,' said she, 'the
too great influence my sister has over you leaves me no room to hope
any thing from you:--I did not think the sacrifice I exacted from you
so great, that the purchase of my heart would not have atoned for it;
but since I find it is otherwise, I repent I put you to the trial.'

In speaking these words she rose up, and flew out of the arbour: the
confusion Natura was in, prevented him from endeavouring to detain
her; and before he could resolve with himself how to behave in so
critical a conjuncture, she was out of sight.--Whatever tenderness he
had for the other, he could not bear the thoughts of having offended
this lady: the confession she had just made him, seemed to deserve all
his gratitude; and tho' the price she demanded for her heart was too
excessive for him to comply with, yet he resolved to make his peace
with her the first time he found her alone, on the best terms he
could.

This was an opportunity, however, not so easily attained as he had
imagined:--the abbess conceived so much spite at the little
inclination he had testified to comply with her demand, that she kept
one or other of the nuns with her the whole remainder of that day, and
he could only tell her by his eyes how desirous he was of coming to an
eclaircisement.

But as if this was a day destined to produce nothing but extraordinary
events, perceiving the abbess industriously avoided speaking to him,
he had retired into the parlour to ruminate on the affair, when
Elgidia came in to him, and with somewhat more gaiety than she was
accustomed to, cried, 'What, alone, Natura! but I suppose you attend
my sister, and I will not be any interruption'; and then turned to go
out of the room. All the discontent he was in for the displeasure he
found he had given the abbess, could not keep him from getting between
her and the door:--'I have no other way to convince you of the
injustice of your suspicion,' said he, 'than to detain you here; tho'
perhaps,' added he, looking on her with an unfeigned tenderness,
'while I am clearing myself in one article, it may not be in my power
to prevent betraying my guilt in another, which it may be you will
find yet less worthy of forgiveness.'

'I know not,' replied she, with a smile too enchanting to be resisted,
'that I ever gave you any tokens of a rigid disposition; and besides,
I am inclined to have so good an opinion of you, that I look on your
giving me any cause of offence, as one of the things out of your
power.'

Emboldened by these words, 'Suppose, madam,' returned he, 'I should
confess to you that I was indulging the most passionate tenderness for
the beautiful Elgidia!--that her sweet idea is always present with me,
and that I sometimes am presuming enough to cherish the hopes of not
being hated by her':--'tell me,' continued he, 'what punishment does
this criminal deserve?'

'To be treated in the same manner,' answered she blushing, 'if he is
sincere; and to be made know that he cannot have formed any designs
upon the heart of Elgidia, which Elgidia has not equally harboured
upon that of Natura.'--A declaration so unexpected might very well
transport a young man, even beyond himself, and all considerations
whatever:--forgetful of the respect due to her quality and virtue, and
regardless of the place they were in, he seized her in his arms, and
almost smothered her with kisses, before she could disengage herself;
at length, breaking from him, 'It is not by such testimonies as
these,' said she, 'that I expected you should repay the acknowledgment
I have made; but by a full laying open your bosom, as to what passes
in it, in regard to my sister:--I know very well she loves you, and am
apt to believe she has not been more discreet than myself in
concealing it from you; but am altogether at a loss as to the returns
you may have made her passion.'

Natura now really loving her, hesitated not to do as she desired;
neither making any secret of the admiration which the abbess had
raised in him at first sight, nor the discourse she had lately
entertained him with, and the injunction she had laid upon him.
Elgidia took this as so great a proof of his affection, that she made
no scruple to ratify the confession she had made him by all the
endearments that innocence would permit:--after which, they consulted
together how he should behave to the abbess, whose temper being
violent, it was not proper to drive to extremes; and it was therefore
agreed between them, that he should continue to treat her with a shew
of tenderness: Elgidia even proposed, that he should renounce her, in
case the other continue to insist upon it; but Natura could not
consent his insincerity should go so far.

They parted, mutually content with each other; and Natura himself
believed his inclinations were now fixed, by the assurance Elgidia had
given him of the most true and perfect passion that ever was: but how
little do we know of our own hearts at his years! the next time he saw
the abbess alone, he relapsed into the same fluctuating state as
before, and found too much charms in the kindness she expressed for
him, to be able to withdraw himself intirely from her.

That lady, who loved to an excess, could not be any long time without
affording him the means of reconciliation; and the next morning, as
soon as breakfast was over, descended alone into the garden, giving
him a look at the same time, which commanded him to follow:--he did
so, and perceiving she took her way to the same arbour they had been
in before, he went in soon after her, affecting, rather than feeling,
a timidity in approaching her. 'Well, Natura,' said she, 'have you yet
examined your heart sufficiently, to know whether the full possession
of mine, can atone for your breaking with my sister';--to which he
replied, that as he had no engagements with Elgidia, nor had ever any
other thoughts of her, than such as were excited by that respect due
to her sex and rank, he was wholly ignorant in what manner it was
exacted from him to behave:--'but,' added he, 'if vowing that from the
first moment I beheld your charms, I became absolutely devoted to you,
may deserve any part of that affection you are pleased to flatter me
with, I am ready to give you all the assurances in the power of
words.'

This asseveration could not be called altogether false, because he had
really a latent inclination in him towards her, which all the
tenderness he had for Elgidia could not eradicate; and this it was
that gave all he said such an air of sincerity as won upon the abbess,
to believe her jealousy had misinterpreted the looks she had sometimes
seen him give her sister, and at length made her desist from
reproaching him on that score.

The tranquility of her mind being restored, she gave a loose to the
violence of her passion, in such caresses as might well make the
person who received them forgetful of all other obligations:--in these
transporting moments the lovely abbess had his whole soul:--he now,
unasked, abjured not only Elgidia, but all the sex beside, and even
wondered at himself for having ever entertained a wish beyond the
happiness he enjoyed at present.

The abbess was too well versed in the affairs of love, not to be
highly satisfied with the proofs he gave of his, than which, it is
certain, nothing for the time could be more sincere or ardent; death
was it to them both to put an end to this inchanting scene, but as
they were seen to go into the garden soon after one another, and too
long a stay together might occasion a suspicion of the cause, they
were obliged to separate, though not without a promise of meeting in
the same place at night, after the nuns were all retired to their
respective chambers.

The abbess passed through a back-way into the chapel, it being near
the time of prayers, and Natura returned by the great walk into the
outward cloister, where Elgidia seeing him at a distance, and alone,
waited his coming, to know of him how he had proceeded with her
sister.--Natura, yet full of the abbess and the favours he had
received from her, would have gladly dispenced with this interview;
but she was too near, before he perceived her, for him to draw back
with decency.

Far from suspecting any change in him, and judging of his integrity by
her own, 'I was impatient,' said she, 'to hear the event of your
conversation with the abbess; tell me therefore in a few words, for
the bell rings to chapel, whether you have succeeded so far as to
stifle all jealousies of me?' 'Yes, madam,' replied he, recovering
himself as well as he could from his confusion, 'we may be easy for
the future, as to that particular.'--'I long for the particulars of
your discourse' resumed she, 'but cannot now stay to be informed; meet
me in the garden after the sisterhood are in bed'; 'this,' continued
she, putting a key into his hand, 'will admit you by the gate that
leads to the road:--do not fail to be there at nine.'--The haste she
was in to be gone, would not have permitted him time to make any
answer, if he had been provided with one, and he could only just kiss
her hand as she turned from him.

But what was the dilemma he was now involved in! the hour, and place
she appointed, were the very same in which he was to meet the abbess!
impossible was it for him to gratify both, and not very easy to
deceive either:--he went back into the garden, ruminating what course
he should take in so intricate an affair; at first he thought of
writing a little billet, and slipping it into Elgidia's hand,
acquainting her that the abbess had commanded him to attend her in the
garden at the time she mentioned, and telling her that he thought it
necessary to obey, to prevent all future suspicion:--but he rejected
this design, not only as that young lady might possibly have the
curiosity to conceal herself behind the arbour, and would then be a
witness of things it was no way proper she should be informed of, but
also because his heart reproached him for having already done more
than he could answer, and forbad him to deceive her any farther; in
fine, that he might be guilty of perfidy to neither, he resolved to
quit both, at least for that night, but knew not yet on what he should
determine for the future.

Divine service being over, he repaired to the parlour, where, after
they were sat down to dinner, he said, addressing himself to the
abbess, that having sent his servant that morning to his lodgings, he
had received letters of the utmost importance, which required
immediate answers; and that he must be obliged for that reason to take
his leave; 'though with what regret,' added he, 'it is easy to
perceive, by the long stay I always make here.'

The abbess insisted upon it, that he should not go;--told him he might
write what he pleased there without interruption; and that his man
might carry his dispatches to the post: but all she urged could not
prevail, and both that lady and her sister had the mortification to
hear him give orders that his own horse should be got ready with all
expedition; as for his servant he was left behind for a few hours, on
the account of packing up some things he had brought him in the design
of staying a longer time.

In fine, he went away, with a promise of returning in a short time.
The abbess was inwardly fretted at the disappointment, but imagined it
was only occasioned by the motive he pretended, till a young nun who
was her confidante in all things, and had happened to cross the
cloyster when Natura and Elgidia were talking together before prayers,
and had seen him kiss her hand, informed her of this passage, and
added, of her own conjecture, that the abrupt departure of Natura was
owing to somewhat that lady had said to him:--there needed no more to
inflame the passionate and jealous abbess; she doubted not of being
betrayed, and flew directly to her sister's chamber, accused her of
being guilty of the most criminal intercourse with a stranger, and
threatened if she did not confess the whole truth to her, and swear
never to see him more, she would send an account of her behaviour to
their parents, who would not fail to thrust her into a less commodious
convent, and compel her to take the veil directly.

The mild and timid disposition of Elgidia, could not sustain this
shock; she immediately fainted away, and help being called to bring
her to herself, in opening her bosom a paper fell out of it, which the
abbess snatching up, ran to her chamber to examine, and found it
contained these words:

  'To prevent my dear angel from being surprized at my sudden
  departure, know that it is to avoid the abbess, who obliged me to
  give her a promise of meeting her this night in the garden:--at my
  next visit you shall be informed at full of all that passed
  between us in the morning. Adieu.

                                                             Natura.

As Natura had no opportunity to make an excuse to Elgidia, he had
slipt this billet into her hand on taking leave; and though no more
was meant by it than to make her easy till his return, there was
sufficient in the expression not only to convince the abbess that her
sister was indeed her rival, but also to make her think herself had
been the dupe to their amour.--Impossible would it be to describe the
force of those passions, which, in this dreadful instant, overwhelmed
her soul; so I shall only say, it was as great as woman could sustain,
and which the impatience of venting on their proper object, put it
into her head to go to him in a disguise, and upbraid his perfidy. As
she seldom listened to any dictates, but those of her passion, this
design was no sooner formed than preparations were made for the
execution, nor could all her confidante urged, on the danger and
scandal of the attempt, deter her from it.

There was a fellow who was frequently employed about the monastery, in
whom she could confide:--him she sent to a farmer, with orders to hire
three horses, one for herself, another for her confidante, who, in
spite of all her apprehensions on that account, she would needs make
accompany her, and the third for the man, who was to attend them as a
valet, the little road they had to travel. This fellow was directed to
bring the horses about ten o'clock at night, at which time it would be
dark, to the corner of a wall at the farther end of the garden, when
she and her companion were to mount, and away on this wild expedition.

But while the abbess was busy on her project, Elgidia had also
another, though of somewhat a less desperate kind; her sister's temper
gave her but too much reason to believe she would revenge herself on
her by all the ways in her power; and trembling at the thoughts of
being exposed to her parents, and the censure of the world, as the
other had threatened, which she knew no way to avoid, but by Natura
making up this quarrel; and tho' she knew it could only be done by his
renouncing all pretensions to herself, yet she rather chose to lose
the man she loved, than her reputation. As she knew not whether the
abbess would delay the gratification of her malice any longer than the
next morning, she resolved to send for Natura that same night, in
order to engage him to a second reconciliation with her sister, let
the terms be never so cruel to herself.

She had no sooner laid this plot, than she ran to see if the servant
he had left behind was yet gone, and finding he was not, bad him wait
a little, that she might send a letter by him to his master. The
contents of her epistle were as follow:

  'Something has happened, which lays me under a necessity of
  speaking to you this night:--the only consolation I have under the
  severest of all afflictions, is, that I did not take back the key
  I gave you in the morning: I beg you will make use of it, and let
  me find you in the close arbour as soon as the darkness will
  permit your entrance unobserved:--fail not, if you have any regard
  for the honour, the peace, and even the life of the unfortunate

                                                            Elgidia.

Natura had no sooner received this billet from the hands of his
servant, than all his tenderness for the fair authoress of it revived
in him, which, joined to his impatient curiosity for the knowledge of
the accident she mentioned, easily determined him to do as she
desired.

He set out at the close of day; but the moon rising immediately after,
shone so extremely bright as proved her, no less than the sun, an
enemy to the design he was at present engaged in; he was therefore
obliged to wait till that planet had withdrawn her light, before he
durst approach the convent.

The abbess and her companion having dressed themselves in riding
habits, went at the above-mentioned hour to the gate where they
expected the man and horses were attending their coming; but there was
not the least appearance of any.--the abbess, emboldened by her
impatience and despair, would needs venture out some paces beyond the
gate, to listen if she could hear any sound of what she wanted, but
had not long continued in that posture, before she discovered by the
twinkling light of the stars, two men on horseback, galloping directly
to the place where she stood:--impossible was it for her to discern
what sort of persons they were, but easy to know, as there were two
men, and no more than two horses, that they were not those she looked
for; on which she ran with all the haste she could back into the
garden, and clapping the gate after her, in her fright stopped not
till she was almost at the entrance of the cloyster:--both she and her
companion were out of breath; but when they had a little recovered it,
the latter took the liberty of railying her on the terror she had been
in, at the sight of two persons, who were, doubtless, only pursuing
their own affairs, without any thought or notice of them:--the abbess
acknowledged the pleasantry was just, and returned again to the gate,
which having opened, they found two horses tied to a tree, at a little
distance from it, without any person to look after them. She imagined
they belonged to the farmer, but could not guess wherefore there was
not a third, or how it happened that the man was not with them.--The
two lady-adventurers waited in hopes of seeing their attendant with
another horse, till the abbess, fearing the night would be too far
spent for the execution of her design, and grown quite wild with rage
and vexation, resolved to go without a guide; and accordingly she, and
the young nun that was with her, mounted the horses they found there,
and rode away.

Little did this distracted woman imagine to whom she was indebted for
the means of conveying herself where she wished to be; for in effect
these horses were Natura's, and it was no other than himself, attended
by his man, who had put her into that fright, which occasioned her
running so far back into the garden, as gave him time to enter,
without being either seen or heard by her:--he was no sooner within
the gate, than his servant tied the horses to a tree, as has been
related, and retired to a more convenient place, either to lye down to
sleep, or on some other occasion.--Thus did an accident which had like
to have broken all Elgidia's measures, turn wholly to the advantage of
them, and she found as much satisfaction, as a person in her situation
could possibly take, in finding Natura so punctual to the summons she
had sent:

It was with a flood of tears she related to him all that had passed
between the furious abbess and herself after his departure, and
concluded her discourse with beseeching him to see her in the morning,
and omit nothing that might pacify her, 'even,' said she, 'to forswear
ever speaking to me more.'

Natura was touched to the very soul at the grief he saw her in, and
equally with the tender consideration she had for him; and now more
devoted to her than ever, would have done any thing to prove the
sincerity of his passion, but that which she demanded of him:--it was
in vain she urged the impossibility of keeping a correspondence
together under the same roof with a rival who had all the power in her
own hands; or that she represented how much better it would be for
both to break off so dangerous an intercourse of themselves, before
the rage of the abbess should put her upon doing it, in a manner which
might involve them all in destruction:--all the arguments she made use
of, only served to render him more amorous, and consequently less able
to part with her.--The difference he found between these two sisters;
the outrageous temper of the one, compared with the prudence,
sweetness, and gentleness of the other, rendered the comparison almost
odious to him; and as he could not but acknowledge the impractibility
of maintaining a conversation with the latter, without the
participation of the former; nor though he should even consent to
divide himself between them, would either of them be content, he told
Elgidia, that the only way to solve these difficulties, was, for her
to fly from the monastery, and be the partner of his fortune, as she
was the mistress of his heart.

Such a proposition made her start!--to abandon all her friends, and
put herself wholly in the power of a stranger, of whose fortune,
family, or fidelity, she could not be assured, gave her very just
alarms; but whatever was her reluctance at the first mention of such
an enterprize, the extreme passion she had for him, rendered all her
apprehensions, by degrees, less formidable:--he told her he had no
other wishes, than such as were dictated by honour;--that he would
marry her as soon as they should arrive at a place where the ceremony
could be performed with safety:--that he was heir to a considerable
estate after his father's death, that on his return to England he
should have a handsome settlement out of it, and that his present
allowance was sufficient to keep them above want.--People easily
believe what they wish, especially from the mouth of a beloved
person.--Natura indeed had uttered no untruths as to his
circumstances, but as to the main point, his marrying her, it is
impossible to judge whether in that he was sincere, because he knew
not himself whether he was so, tho' in the vehemence of his present
inclinations he might imagine he did so, and at that time really meant
as he said.

Be that as it may, Elgidia suffered herself to be won by his
perswasions; and being so, the present opportunity was not to be
lost.--He had horses at the gate, could conduct her, he said, where
she might be concealed till they got quite out of the reach of her
kindred, and failed not to remonstrate, that if she delayed, but even
till the next morning, not only the jealousy of the abbess, but a
thousand other accidents, might separate them for ever.

As the lovers past their time in this manner, the distracted abbess
was prosecuting her journey, in quest of him she had left behind: as
the way she had to go was so short, there was no great danger of any
mischief attending it, neither did any happen; but how great was her
confusion! when arriving at the house where Natura lodged, she was
told he went out in the evening, on the receipt of a billet brought
him by his servant.--This disappointment destroyed all the remains of
temperance had been left in her; she presently guessed the billet came
from no other than Elgidia, doubted not but they were together, and
figured in her mind a scene of tenderness between them so cruel to her
imagination, that frenzy itself scarce exceeded what she endured:--she
rode back with even more precipitation than she had set out, and being
alighted at the gate thro' the great walk, supposing Elgidia had
brought him into her chamber, where, if she found them, thought of
nothing, but sacrificing one or both of them to her resentment.

In this situation of mind, it cannot be imagined she had any thought
about the horses; but her companion having more the power of
reflection, and judging them to be the farmer's, thought it best to
tye them to a tree within the garden, that so they might be secured,
and sent to him in the morning; which having done, and shut the gate,
she was going to follow the abbess, when she met her coming back:--'I
have considered,' said she, 'that my perfidious sister would rather
chuse the close arbour for her rendezvous, than her own chamber, where
there would be more danger of being overheard by the nuns who lie near
her;--go you therefore,' continued she, 'and wait me in my apartment,
while I search the garden.'

The nun obeyed, glad to be eased of this nocturnal attendance, and the
abbess drew near, as softly as she could, to the arbour; and standing
behind the covert of the greens of which it was composed, heard the
consent Elgidia gave to accompany Natura, and saw her quit him, with a
promise of returning, as soon as she had put on a habit somewhat more
proper for travelling.

Had she followed the first dictates of her passion in this stabbing
circumstance, she had either pursued her sister, and inflicted on her
all that vindictive malice could suggest, or run into the arbour, and
discharged some part of her fury on Natura:--each alike shared her
resentment, but divided between both, lost its effects on either:--a
revenge more pleasing, and less unbecoming of a female mind, at length
got the better of those furious resolves;--she thought, that as every
thing favoured such a design, and she was equipped for the purpose, to
take the place of her sister, would afford her an exquisite triumph
over the disappointment she should occasion them: accordingly, after
staying long enough to encourage the deception, she came round the
arbour, and entered at the passage by which Elgidia had gone
out:--Natura, not doubting but it was his beloved, took her in his
arms, saying, 'How transporting is the expedition you have made in
your return; and indeed we had need of it, for the night is far
exhausted, and it is necessary you should be out of this part of the
country before day-break.'

The abbess answered not to what he said, but gave him her hand; on
which he led her towards the gate, entertaining her with the most
endearing expressions as they walked, to all which she was still dumb.
Natura was not surprized at it, as imagining she was too much
engrossed by the thoughts of what she was about to do, to be able to
speak:--but how great was his mortification, when having opened the
gate, he found his servant, who having missed the horses, was just
come back from a fruitless search of them.--He drew his sword, and had
not the fellow stept nimbly aside, had certainly killed him:--while he
was venting his passion in the severest terms, the abbess shut the
gate upon him, and locked it with her own key, which, leaving in the
lock, the one he had made use of, could now be of no service.--A
caprice he had so little reason to expect in Elgidia, might very well
surprize him, especially at a time when both had so much cause to be
more grave!--he called to her, he complained, he even reproached the
unkindness, and ill-manners of this treatment, while the abbess
indulged on the other side the most spiteful pleasure in his vexation.

She left him railing at fate and womankind, without convincing him of
his error, when as she was going to the monastery, she met Elgidia
just coming out, and directing her steps towards the arbour:--they
were in the same path, and facing each other:--Elgidia, full of the
fears which usually attend actions of the nature she was about to do,
no sooner perceived the form of a woman, and habited in the same
manner as herself, than she took it for a spirit; and terrified almost
to death, cried out, 'a ghost! a ghost!' and ran, shrieking, with all
her force to the cloyster, resolved, as much as it then was in her
power to resolve on any thing, to desist from her enterprise.--She
made no stop, till she got into her chamber, where she threw herself
on the bed, in a condition not to be described.

The abbess was so well satisfied with the success of this last
stratagem, that it greatly abated the thoughts of taking any further
revenge:--she went laughing to her confidante, and told her the whole
story, who congratulated her upon it, and said, that in her opinion,
she might take it as a peculiar providence of Heaven, that had
disappointed her first design, which could only have increased her
confusion, and probably brought a lasting scandal on the order. The
abbess wanted not reason, when her passion would permit her to exert
it, and could not help confessing the truth of what the other
remonstrated:--she now easily saw they were Natura's horses they had
made use of, but how it came to pass that those she had bespoke, or
the man she had ordered to bring them, happened to fail, remained a
point yet to be discussed:--the morning, however, cleared it up;--the
fellow acquainted her, that the farmer had no horses at home, and that
as he was coming to let her know it, he saw two men at the gate, one
of whom entered, so that he imagined she had provided herself
elsewhere:--she then bad him turn out Natura's horses, which the nun
having said how she had disposed of them, not thinking herself obliged
to take any care of what belonged to a man, who had treated her with
so much ingratitude.

Natura was all this time in the utmost perplexity, not only at the
usage he imagined had been given him by Elgidia, but also for the loss
of his horses; and at being told when he came home, that two women, in
riding habits, well mounted, but without any attendants, had been to
enquire for him:--all these things, the meaning of any one of which he
was not able to fathom, so filled his head, that he could not take any
repose:--pretty early in the morning, a letter was brought him from
Elgidia, which he hastily opened, but found nothing in it, but what
served to heighten his amazement and discontent.

She told him that she could not dispense with letting him know the
occasion of her breach of promise; that intending nothing more than to
perform it, she was hastening to the arbour, when, in the middle of
the garden, she was met by an apparition, which, as near as she could
discern, had the resemblance of herself;--that the terror she was in
had obliged her to retire; and that as she could look on what she had
seen, as no other than a warning from Heaven, she had determined to
use her utmost endeavours for extinguishing a passion obnoxious to its
will; to which end she desired he would make no farther attempts to
engage her to an act so contrary to her duty, or even ever to see her
more.

Natura had so little notion of spirits and ghosts, that at first he
took this story only as a pretence, to cover a levity he had not
suspected her to be guilty of; but when he reflected on the silence of
the person he had taken for her, and the description of those who had
been to enquire for him, he began to imagine, as he had not the least
thought of the abbess, that something supernatural had indeed walked
the garden that night, and had also been at his own lodgings in order
to perplex him more:--a thousand little tales he had been told in his
infancy, concerning the tricks played on mortals by those shadowy
beings, now came fresh into his mind; and as the belief of what
Elgidia had wrote gained ground in him, was not far from being of her
opinion, that it was a warning from Providence, and to repent of
having attempted to snatch from the altar a woman devoted to it.

It is doubtless accidents such as this, that have given rise to so
many stories of apparitions, as have been propagated in the world; and
had not Natura been afterwards informed of the whole truth, it is
likely he would have been as great a defender of these ideas, as any
who are accounted superstitious:--but however that might have been, it
wrought so strongly on his mind at present, that joined with the
considerations of those perpetual perplexities which must infallibly
attend an ecclesiastical intrigue; besides, those which the abbess
would involve him in, made him resolve to obey Elgidia's commands, and
pursue the matter no farther, but go directly to the baron d' Eyrac's,
who he heard was still at his country-house.

The loss of his horses, however, very much vexed him; he bought them,
because he preferred that way of travelling to a post-chaise: they had
cost him forty louis d'ores in Paris, and knew not whether the country
he was in would afford him any so fit for his purpose:--he was just
sending his man to enquire where others were to be had, when his own
were at the door, without the least damage done either to themselves
or saddles:--the farmer who had the care of them while he was at the
monastery, found them wandering in the field, and easily knowing to
whom they belonged, brought them home.

This was some consolation to him for the loss of his mistresses; and
he began to resolve seriously on his departure; but thinking it would
be the highest ungenerosity to quit the convent, without acknowledging
the favours he had received there, he wrote a letter to the abbess,
full of gratitude and civility, telling her, that tho' the necessity
of his affairs required he should take an eternal leave of that place,
he should always preserve the memory of those honours he had received
in it.--To Elgidia he wrote in much the same strain she had done to
him, and concluded with desiring her to believe it was to Heaven alone
he could resign her. Those letters he sent by his man, and ordered him
to leave them with the portress, to avoid any answers which might have
drawn him into a longer correspondence than he desired, or perhaps
even have occasioned a revival of those inclinations in him, which he
was now convinced of the folly and danger of.

This was the first proof he gave of a firmness of resolution, and was
indeed as great a one as could have been expected from a man of the
age he was:--it must be owned, that at that time love is the strongest
passion of the soul, and as neither Elgidia nor the abbess wanted
charms to inspire it, and he had been but too sensible of the force of
both, to be able, I say, to tear himself away in the manner he now
did, was a piece of heroism, which I with every one in the like
circumstance may have power to imitate.

He hired another horse and guide, that he might not lose his way a
second time, and departed the same day for the baron's, where he was
received by that young nobleman with the utmost kindness as well as
politeness, and found so much in his conversation, and those who came
to visit him, and the continual amusements of that place, as made him
soon forget all he had partook in the monastery:--he remained there
while the baron stayed, and then came with him to Paris.

On his return he frequented the same company, and pursued the same
pleasures he had done before; but as nothing extraordinary befel him,
I shall not enter into particulars, my design being only to relate
such adventures as gave an opportunity for the passions to exert
themselves in influencing the conduct of his life.




CHAP. II.

  The pleasures of travelling described, and the improvement a
  sensible mind may receive from it: with some hints to the
  censorious, not to be too severe on errors, the circumstances of
  which they are ignorant of, occasioned by a remarkable instance of
  an involuntary slip of nature.


Of all the countries Natura intended to see, Italy was that of which
he had entertained the most favourable idea:--his curiosity led him to
convince himself whether it really deserved to be intitled _the garden
of the world_; and therefore it was thither he resolved to make his
next progress.--Being told that in so long a journey he would find an
excessive expence, as well as incommodity, in travelling on horseback,
by reason he must be obliged to hire a guide from one place to
another, he sold his horses, and after having hired a post-chaise,
took leave of his acquaintance, and of a place where he had enjoyed
all the pleasures agreeable to a youthful taste.

He went by the way of Burgundy, and passing through Dijon proceeded to
Lyons, where the sight of the ruins of some Roman palaces yet
remaining there, the fine churches, and beautiful prospect that city
affords, being situated at the confluence of the rivers Rhone and
Soane, tempted him to stay some days.--He was one evening sitting with
his landlord in the inn-yard, when a post-chaise came in, out of which
alighted a gentleman and a lady, just by the place where they
were.--The man got up with all the obsequiousness of persons of his
calling, to bid them welcome, and shew them into a room:--the lady, in
passing, looked earnestly at Natura, and his eyes were no less
attached on her: he thought he saw in her face features he was
perfectly acquainted with, but could not, at that instant, recollect
where he had been so. Not so with her, she easily remembered him, and
in less than half an hour he received an invitation by his name from
these new guests to sup with them, which he accepted of with great
politeness, but said at the same time, he could not imagine to whom he
was obliged for that honour.--On his coming into the room, 'Difference
of habit,' said the lady, smiling, 'joined with the little probability
there was of meeting me in this place, may well disguise me from your
knowledge; but these impediments to remembrance, are not on your
account; monsieur Natura is the same in person at Lyons, as at the
convent of Riche Dames, though perhaps,' added she, 'somewhat changed
in mind.' There needed no more to make him know she was one of the two
nuns who always dined, when he was there, with the abbess, and was her
particular confidante.--'By what miracle, madam, are you here?' cried
he: 'by such another,' answered she, 'as might have brought Elgidia
here, had not an unlucky spirit put other thoughts into her head.'

She then proceeded to inform him, that loving, and being equally
beloved by the gentleman who was with her, she had made her escape
with him from the monastery, and was going with him into one of the
Protestant cantons of Switzerland, of which he was a native, and where
they were certain of being safe from any prosecutions, either from her
kindred, or the church.

Natura, after having made his compliments to the gentleman on the
occasion, enquired of her concerning the abbess and Elgidia; on which
she informed him of all the particulars related in the preceding
chapter; adding, that after the receipt of the two letters he had
sent, the sisters came to a mutual understanding, each confessed her
foible to the other, and the cause of their quarrel being for ever
removed, a sincere reconciliation between them ensued.

As gratitude is natural to the soul, and never is erased but by the
worst passions that can obtrude upon the human mind, Natura had enough
for these ladies to make him extremely glad no worse consequences had
attended their acquaintance with him, but was extremely merry, as they
were all indeed, at the story of the supposed spirit:--they passed the
best part of the night together in very entertaining discourses, and
the next day the two lovers proceeded on their journey to Switzerland,
as Natura the following one did his to Avignon.

Here again he halted for some time, to feast his eyes, and give
subject for future contemplation, on the magnificent buildings, fine
gardens, churches, and other curiosities, which he was told of, gave
him a sample, tho' infinitely short, of what he would find in
Rome;--the grandeur in which the nobility lived, the elegance and
politeness in the houses of even the lowest rank of gentry, and the
masquerades, balls, and other public diversions, which every night
afforded, made him already see that neither the pleasures, nor the
delicacies of life were confined to Paris.

The desire of novelty is inherent to a youthful heart, and nothing so
much gratifies that passion as travelling:--variety succeeds
variety;--whether you climb the craggy mountains, or traverse the
flowery vale;--whether thick woods set limits to the light, or the
wide common yields unbounded prospect;--whether the ocean rolls in
solemn state before you, or gentle streams run purling by your side,
nature in all her different shapes delights; each progressive day
brings with it fresh matter to admire, and every stage you come to
presents at night customs and manners new and unknown before.

The stupendous mountains of the Alps, after the plains and soft
embowered recesses of Avignon, gave perhaps a no less grateful
sensation to the mind of Natura: he wanted indeed such a companion as
death had deprived him of in his good governor, to instruct him how to
improve contemplation, and to moralize on the amazing and different
objects he beheld; yet as his thoughts were now wholly at liberty, and
his reason unclouded by any passions of what kind soever, he did not
fail to make reflections suitable to the different occasions.

Whoever has seen Rome will acknowledge he must find sufficient there
to exercise all his faculties; but though the architecture, and the
paintings which ornament that august city might have engrossed his
whole attention, the many venerable reliques which were shewn him of
old Rome, appeared yet more lovely in his eyes; which shews the charms
antiquity has for persons even of the most gay dispositions: but this,
according to my opinion, is greatly owing to the prejudice of
education, which forces us as it were to an admiration of the
antients, meerly because they are so, and not that they are in any
essential respect always deserving that vast preference given them
over the moderns:--this may be easily proved by the exorbitant prices
some of our virtuoso's give for pieces of old copper, which are
reckoned the most valuable, as the inscriptions or figures on them are
least legible.

Natura, however, was not so absorbed in his admiration of the ruined
corner of a bath, or the half-demolished portico of an amphitheatre,
as to neglect those entertainments which more affect the senses, and
consequently give the most natural delight;--the exquisite music
performed at the churches, carried him there much oftener than
devotion would have done, and rarely did he fail the opera at night.

As the Romans are allowed to be the best bred people upon earth,
especially to strangers, be they of what country or perswasion soever,
neither the being an Englishman or a Protestant hindered him from
making very good acquaintance, and receiving the greatest civilities
from them; but the person to whom he was most obliged, and who indeed
had taken a particular fancy to him, was the younger son of the family
of Caranna: this nobleman, knowing his taste for music, would
frequently take him with him to his box at the opera-house, most
persons of condition having little closets or boxes to themselves, of
which every one keeps his own key, and none can be admitted but by
it:--nothing can be more indulging, as there are curtains to draw
before them, and the seats are made in such a manner that the person
may lie down at his ease.

The signior of Caranna being otherwise engaged one night, when a
celebrated piece was to be performed, he lent his key to Natura,
unknowing that his wife, who had also one, had made a compliment of
her's to a young lady of her acquaintance.

Natura by some accident being delayed from going till after the opera
began, on entering was surprized to find a very beautiful young person
there, stretched on the sopha:--as he had been told the box would be
intirely empty, he knew not whether he ought to retire or go forward
and seat himself by her:--this consideration kept him some minutes in
the posture he was in, and perceiving she was too much taken up with
the music, either to have heard him open the door, or see him after he
came in, he had the opportunity of feasting his eyes, with gazing on
the thousand charms she was mistress of; all which were displayed to a
great advantage by the shadowy light which gleamed from the stage
thro' a thin crimson taffety curtain, which she had drawn before her,
to the end she might neither be seen by others, nor see any thing
herself which might take off her attention from the music.

In fine, he drew near, and had placed himself close by her before she
observed him; but no sooner did so, than she started, and appeared in
some confusion: he made a handsome apology for the intrusion, which he
assured her, with a great deal of truth, was wholly owing to chance,
and said he would withdraw, if his presence would be any interruption
to the pleasure she proposed:--she seemed obliged to him for the
offer, but told him she would not abuse the proof he gave of his
complaisance by accepting it; on which he bowed, and continued in his
place.

Both the music, and the words, seemed intended to lull the soul into a
forgetfulness of all beside, and fill it only with soft ideas:--it had
at least this effect upon the lady, who had closed her eyes, and was
in reality lost to every other sense than that of hearing.--Natura,
either was, or pretended to be, equally transported, and sunk
insensibly upon her bosom, without any opposition on her part:--she
had possibly even forgot she was not alone, and when an air full of
the most inchanting tenderness was singing, was so much dissolved in
extasy, that crying out, 'O God, 'tis insupportable!' she threw her
arms over Natura's neck, who was still in the same posture I just
mentioned;--he spoke not a word, but was not so absorbed in the
gratification of one faculty, as to let slip the gratification of the
others:--he seized the lucky moment;--he pressed her close, and in
this trance of thought, this total absence of mind, stole himself, as
it were, into the possession of a bliss, which the assiduity of whole
years would perhaps never have been able to obtain.

Reason and thought at last returned; she opened her eyes, she knew to
what the rapture she had been in had exposed her, and was struck with
the most poignant shame and horror:--she broke with all her force from
that strict embrace in which he had continued to hold her; and being
withdrawn to the farther corner of the closet,--'What have I done,'
cried she, 'What have I done!'--these words she repeated several
times, and accompanied them with tears, wringing her hands, and every
testimony of remorse.--It was in vain for him to attempt to pacify
her, much less to prevail on her to suffer any second proofs of his
tenderness;--she would not even give him leave to touch her hand, and
on his offering it, pushed him back, saying, 'No, stranger! you have
taken the advantage of my _insensibility_ but shall never triumph over
my _reason_, which enables me to hate you,--to fly from you for ever,
as from a serpent.'

Natura said every thing that love and wit could inspire, to reconcile
her to what had past; but she remained inflexible, and only
condescended to request him to leave the place before the opera was
ended, that they might not be seen coming out together, and that he
would tell signior Carrana, that having unexpectedly found a lady in
the box, he had withdrawn without entering.--He then begged she would
entertain a more favourable opinion of an action, which her beauty,
the bewitching softness of the entertainment, and the place they were
in, had all concurred to make him guilty of; but she would listen to
nothing on that head, insisted on his never taking the least notice of
her, wherever they might chance to meet; and only told him, that tho'
she was unalterably fixed in this resolution, yet he might depend upon
it she hated him less than she did herself.

Finding she was not to be moved, he obeyed her commands, and straight
went out of the box, more amazed at the oddness of the adventure, than
can be well expressed; and yet more so, when he afterwards heard she
was the wife of a person of great condition, was in the first month of
her marriage with him, and had the reputation of a woman of strict
virtue.

As this false step was meerly accidental, wholly unpremeditated on
either side, and by what can be judged by the character of the lady,
and her behaviour afterwards, was no more on her part than a surprize
on the senses, in which the mind was not consulted, and had not the
least share, I know not whether it may not more justly be called a
slip of unguarded nature, than a real crime in her; and as for Natura,
though certainly the most guilty of the two, whoever considers his
youth, his constitution, and above all the greatness of the
temptation, which presented itself before him, will allow, that he
must either have been _more_, or _less_, than _man_, to have behaved
otherwise than he did.

Let the most severely virtuous, who happily have never fallen into the
same error, but figure to themselves the circumstances of this
transgressing pair, and well consider in what manner nature must
operate, when thus powerfully excited, and if they are not rendered
totally incapable of any soft sensations, by an uncommon frigidity of
constitution, they will cease either to wonder at, or too cruelly
condemn, the effects of so irresistible an impulse.

Were it not for the precepts of religion and morality, the fears of
scandal, and shame of offending against law and custom, man would
undoubtedly think himself intitled to the same privileges which the
brute creation in this point enjoy above him; and it is not therefore
strange, that whenever reason nods, as it sometimes will do, even in
those who are most careful to preserve themselves under its
subjection, that the senses ever craving, ever impatient for
gratification, should readily snatch the opportunity of indulging
themselves, and which it is observable they ordinarily do to the
greater excess, by so much the longer, and the more strictly they have
been kept under restraint.




CHAP. III.

  The uncertainty of human events displayed in many surprizing turns
  of fortune, which befel Natura, on his endeavouring to settle
  himself in the world: with some proofs of the necessity of
  fortitude, as it may happen that actions, excited by the greatest
  virtue, may prove the source of evil, both to ourselves and others.


Natura stayed but six months in Rome, and then passed on to Florence,
where having seen all the curiosities that place afforded, he only
waited to receive some remittances from his father, after which he
intended to cross the Appenines to Bolognio, then proceed to Venice,
and so through the Tirolose to Vienna, and flattered himself with
having time enough to visit all the different courts which compose the
mighty empire of Germany.

These remittances were delayed much longer than he had expected, and
when they arrived, were accompanied by a positive command from his
father to put an end to his travels, and return to England with all
the expedition he could.--His surprize at so unlooked for an order,
would have been equal to the mortification it gave him, if he had not
received a letter from his sister at the same time, which informed
him, that his being so suddenly recalled was wholly owing to the
misfortunes in which their family was at present involved:--that soon
after his departure, their father had discovered an intercourse
between his wife and a person who pretended to be a relation, no way
to the honour of either of them;--that frequent quarrels had at length
separated them;--that he was engaged in a law-suit with her, and also
in several others, with people to whom she, in revenge, as it was
supposed, had given bonds, dated before marriage, for very great sums
of money, pretended to have been borrowed of them by her;--that tho'
the imposition was too gross not to be easily seen through, yet the
forms of the courts of judicature could not be dispensed with, and the
continual demands made upon him had laid him under such
inconveniencies as obliged him even to lessen the number of his
servants, and retrench his table:--she added, that he spoke of his
dear Natura with the utmost tenderness, and was under a very great
concern that the necessity of his affairs would not permit to send him
any more such supplies as were requisite for the prosecution of his
travels.

Natura at first felt a very great shock at this account; but it is the
peculiar blessing of youth, not to be for any length of time affected
with misfortunes; his melancholly soon dissipated, and he thought of
nothing more than compliance with the command he had received, and
also to perform it in the cheapest manner he could.--On speaking of
his intentions of returning home, he was advised to go to Leghorn,
which being a very great port, it would be no difficulty to find a
ship bound for Holland or England, in which he might take his passage
at an easy rate. He had certainly taken this method, but meeting with
an English gentleman, who was on his travels, and had not yet been at
Rome, was perswaded by him to go back, on his offering to bear the
whole expences of that route, for the pleasure of his company.--After
a stay of two or three months there, they pursued their journey to
Paris, where Natura renewed all the former acquaintance he had
there:--the baron d' Eyrac, with whom he had contracted an intimate
friendship, and from whom he concealed nothing of his affairs, was
extremely concerned to hear the occasion of his being recalled so much
sooner than he had expected, and made him an offer which suited very
well with Natura's inclination to accept: it was this.

That an old officer in the army having obtained leave to dispose of
his commission, Natura should become the purchaser; and to enable him
to do so, the baron would advance a sum of money, to be returned at
several easy payments, as he received the profits arising from his
troop.

Love and gallantry had already had their turns with Natura; ambition,
and the pride of being in an independent state, began now to work in
him:--as France was in alliance with England, there was neither shame
nor danger in entering into her service:--besides, he considered, that
as his father was no longer in a condition to supply him with money
abroad, he could not expect any settlement to be made on him at home
that would be answerable to his former expectations;--and that by a
captain's pay, joined to some assistance he might hope to receive
sometimes from England, he should be enabled to make a very good
figure in the world, till the misfortunes of his family should be
retrieved, and if they never were so, he should at least have a
provision for life, in a country he was not weary of.

He therefore made no hesitation of accepting this proof of the baron's
friendship, who immediately went about making good his promise; and
what with his money, and the great interest he had, both with the
court and army, Natura was dispensed with, for not having been in the
service before; and in a very few days saw himself at the head of a
troop of horse.

His father, to whom he wrote an account of the step he had taken, with
his motives for it, was far from being offended at it; tho' he told
him it added to his trouble, to think his eldest son should be
compelled, by his having entered into a second marriage, to have
recourse to any avocation whatever for bread; but concluded with
telling him, that in the severe necessity of their present
circumstances, he could not have pitched on any thing more agreeable
to his inclinations, or more honourable in itself.

This letter served to compose all the disquiets Natura had of
disobliging a parent, for whom he retained the most tender, as well as
dutiful regard, ever since the kind forgiveness be received from him
at Wapping, which shews the great effect of lenity over a mind, where
gratitude and generosity are not wholly extinguished; which, as I
before observed, they never are, but by a long habitude of vice.

He was now as happy as he had any need to wish to be, enjoying all the
pleasures of life in a reasonable way, and rarely transgressing the
bounds of moderation; and when at any time, through the prevalence of
example, or the force of his own passions, he was hurried to some
little excesses, they were never such as could incur the censure of
dishonourable or mean. He was punctual to his payments with the baron,
and had the satisfaction of seeing himself intirely out of debt at
three years end; which manner of behaviour so endeared him to that
gentleman, that few friendships are to be found more sincere, than
that which subsisted between them.

But as good sometimes arises out of evil, so what is in itself a real
happiness, is not always without consequences altogether the reverse;
as it proved to Natura, who from the most contented situation, all
owing to the baron's friendship, was, on a sudden, by that very
friendship, thrown into one of the greatest trouble and danger.

One morning, as he was dressing, the baron entered his chamber, with a
countenance which before he spoke, denoted he had somewhat of
importance to communicate:--Natura easily perceived it, and to put him
out of pain, ordered his valet to leave the room; on which the other
immediately told him, he was come to desire a proof of that sincere
good-will he had professed for him.--'I should,' replied he, 'be the
most unworthy of mankind, if I had not in reality much more than is in
the power of words to express, and not look on an opportunity given by
you of testifying it, equal to any favour you have bestowed on me.'

The baron was at present in too much agitation of spirit to answer
this compliment as he would have done at another time; and made haste
to inform him, that the countess d' Ermand, who on some
misunderstanding with her husband, had been confined in a monastery
for several months, without any hopes of obtaining her release, had
found means to convey a letter to him, earnestly requesting he would
assist her in her escape:--'she has acquainted me,' continued he,
'with the plot she has laid;--there is nothing impracticable in it;
but I cannot do what she desires without the help of some trusty
friend, and it is you alone I dare rely upon, in a business, which, if
not carefully concealed, as well as resolutely acted, may be of very
ill consequence.'

Natura did not greatly relish this piece of knight-errantry; but as he
thought he ought to refuse nothing to the baron, hesitated not to
assure him of the most ready compliance; on which the other told him,
he must get two or three of his soldiers, who, disguised like
peasants, but well mounted, and their swords concealed under their
cloaths, must attend the expedition, and be at hand in case they
should meet with any resistance, which, however, he said he did not
apprehend, it being but ten small miles to the monastery, the road but
little frequented, and the time agreed upon for the execution of the
project twelve at night; so there was no great danger of any
interruption, unless some unfortunate accident should happen.--'The
lady,' continued he, 'informs me she has observed the place where the
portress constantly hangs up the key of the outer gate every night,
and when the nuns are gone into the chapel to their midnight
devotions, can easily slip out:--we have only therefore to be there
exactly at the time, and be ready to receive her; and as for the rest,
I have already provided a place where she may remain undiscovered,
till something can be done for her.'

The baron added many things concerning the ill treatment she had
received; but Natura did not give himself any trouble to examine into
the merits of the cause, it was sufficient for him to do what he
requested of him; and that night being the same had been appointed by
the lady for the business to be done, he went immediately about
preparing for it.

Accordingly, he selected from out of his troop three who seemed most
proper to be employed in such an enterprize, and after having sworn
them to secrecy in whatever they saw, or should happen, though without
acquainting them with the main of the affair, or mentioning the baron
d' Eyrac, told them in what manner they were to disguise themselves,
and ordered they should attend him at the Fauxbourg, a little after
ten o'clock the same night.

Rejoiced at an opportunity of obliging their officer, especially as
they doubted not of being well gratified, each gave a thousand oaths
instead of the one required of him, to be both punctual and faithful
in the discharge of the trust reposed in him.

In fine, all was conducted with a care and caution becoming of the
gratitude and esteem Natura had for the baron, and as if he had
himself approved of this undertaking, which, as I before observed, he
could not do in his heart.

The two gentlemen, muffled up in their cloaks and vizarded, repaired
to the Fauxbourg, at the appointed time, where they found the soldiers
on the post allotted for them by their officer; on which they all rode
off together, and arrived before the walls of the monastery some few
minutes before twelve, at which hour precisely the gate was opened,
and a woman appeared at it.--To prevent the loss of time, it had been
concluded, that the baron should not dismount, but Natura perform the
office of an equerry, in placing her behind him: just as he had
alighted, and taken her in his arms, in order to perform that office,
a great noise was heard; and in an instant, our adventurers found
themselves surrounded by more than a dozen armed men, who rushed upon
them from the covert of a wood:--the lady shrieked, and ran back into
the convent, on Natura's letting her go, in order to draw his sword
against these antagonists, who seemed resolute, either to kill or take
him and his associates prisoners:--the fight was obstinate on both
sides, tho' the baron finding his design defeated, had not entered
into it at first, but trusted to the goodness of his horse for his
escape, if his consideration for Natura, who being on foot, must have
been immediately seized, had not prevented him.--At length, however,
having received two or three wounds, and convinced of the
impossibility of maintaining their ground against such an inequality
of numbers, self-preservation prevailed; he broke thro' those that
encompassed him, and setting spurs to his horse, had the good fortune
to avoid the mischief which he knew must inevitably befal those he
left behind.

The three troopers gallantly defended their captain for some time, nor
was he idle in making those who approached him too near, feel the
sharpness of his sword; but not being able to get on horseback, all
his courage, or that of his men, could not prevent him, and them, from
being made prisoners. Several of the conquering party being officers
of justice, they conducted them to Paris, where the soldiers were
disposed of in the common goal, but Natura who was known, was
committed to the care of an exempt, who treated him with the good
manners his station demanded; he had received a pretty deep wound in
the shoulder, and a surgeon was presently sent for; but no artery nor
sinew being touched, no ill consequence was like to attend it.

It may be imagined he passed the remainder of this night in a good
deal of disquiet, as having lived long enough in France to know that
an attempt of the nature he had been engaged in would find little
mercy from the law.--A good part of the next day was passed, before
they carried him to the magistrate, whose office it was to examine
into such causes, his adversaries not having prepared their
accusation; the heads of which were, that he had attempted a rape upon
a married woman of quality; that he had contrived, with other persons,
to take her out of the monastery, and had come with an armed force for
that purpose. These articles having been deposed upon oath, the
magistrate told him his crime was of a double nature, that he had
violated both the civil and ecclesiastic laws; but as his office
extended no farther than the former, he had only to demand of him what
defence he had to make for himself in that part.

Natura had no other remedy than to deny all that was laid to his
charge:--he protested, as he might truly do, that he was so far from
entertaining any criminal designs on any lady in that monastery, that
he did not so much as know the face of any one of them; and pretended,
that being only riding out for the benefit of the air, he found
himself attacked by persons unknown, with whom he confessed he had
fought in his own defence.

But this availed not at all to his justification:--his own soldiers,
who had been examined before himself, had confessed, that they were
commanded by their officer to attend him on a certain enterprize, in
which they were to behave with secresy and resolution; but said, they
did not know of what sort it was, till they saw a woman come to the
gate of the monastery, whom their captain presently took in his arms,
but with what intent they could not pretend to say.

A letter also was produced, which madame d' Ermand had dropt, and
which had occasioned this discovery of the intrigue, as it contained
the whole method by which she was to be taken away; and tho' there was
no name subscribed, appearances were strong against Natura as the
author, and tho' he offered to bring many witnesses to prove it was a
hand very different from what he wrote, yet it served at least to
prove that it was sent by some one person in the company, and that if
he were not the principal in this conspiracy, yet being the agent and
abettor, as it was plain he was, by his bringing his own soldiers, he
could not be judged less guilty.

After a long examination he was remanded to the exempt's house, till
the sitting of the judges, which they told him would be in eight days;
in which interval he was allowed to prepare what defence he had to
make, and for that purpose advocates were allowed to come to him, but
no other person whatever, not even his own servant, and he received
attendance from those belonging to the exempt, who also fetched from
his lodgings change of apparel, and all such necessaries as he had
occasion for; care being taken to search every thing before it came to
his hands, in order to prevent any letters being conveyed to him that
way.

In this melancholly situation did he pass his time; but that was
little in regard to his apprehensions of the future:--as his case
stood there was little expectation of any thing less than a shameful
death, perhaps ushered in by tortures worse than even that:--his
advocates, however, and it is likely his accusers too, were of opinion
that he had been in reality no more than an agent in this business,
and therefore gave him to understand, that if he laid open the whole
truth, and declared the name of the person chiefly concerned, it would
greatly mitigate the severity of the laws in such cases; but this he
would by no means be prevailed upon to do, resolving rather to suffer
every thing they could inflict upon him, than be guilty of so mean and
dishonourable an action as breach of trust, even to a person
indifferent, but to a friend villainous in the most superlative
degree: alike unmoved by arguments, as inflexible to menaces or
perswasions, he persisted in answering, that he was ignorant of what
they aimed at:--that he knew nothing of madame d' Ermand himself, was
an intire stranger to her, and equally so to the ill designs on her
they mentioned, either on his own account, of that of any other
person.

He was neither so weak nor vain as to flatter himself his positiveness
in denying what could be proved by so many witnesses, would be of any
service at his trial; but as it was expected he should say something
in his defence, and could say nothing else, without giving up his
friend, he was determined not to depart from what he had alledged at
first.

The count d' Ermand, who possibly had a suspicion of the truth, as it
seems he long had entertained some jealous thoughts of the baron d'
Eyrac, who had taken all opportunities of testifying an uncommon
gallantry to his wife, would have given almost a limb to satiate his
revenge against that gentleman:--the soldiers had been re-examined
several times concerning that other person who was with them at the
monastery, and had made his escape; but as they had neither seen his
face, nor heard his name, it was impossible for them to make any
discoveries:--these poor wretches were afterwards put to the torture,
but that had, nor indeed could have, any other effect, than to make
them curse their officer, who had been the cause of their sufferings.

In fine, monsieur d' Ermand, and the kindred of his wife, joined with
the instigations of the clergy, who thought they had an equal right
for revenge in this point, prevailed so far upon the civil
magistrates, as to procure an order, that Natura should himself
undergo the same tortures his soldiers had done, thereby to extort
that confession from him they could no otherwise procure:--this,
notwithstanding, they had the lenity to inform him of, the day before
that which was prefixed for the execution, thinking perhaps, that the
menace of what he was condemned to endure, would be sufficient: but
tho' human nature could not but shrink under such apprehensions, yet
did his fortitude remain unshaken, and he thought of nothing but how
to arm himself, so as to bear all should be inflicted on him with
courage.

But there were no more than a few hours in which he had to meditate on
what he had to do, when his affairs took a very different turn, and by
the most unthought-of means imaginable: It was towards the close of
day, when the wife of the exempt came into his chamber, and having
locked the door, 'I am come, captain,' said she, 'to offer you life,
liberty, and what is yet more, to put it in your power to avoid those
dreadful tortures, which are preparing for you!--what would you do to
gratify your preserver?'--The surprize Natura was in, did not hinder
him from replying, that there was nothing with which he would not
purchase such a deliverance, provided the terms were not inconsistent
with his honour:--'No,' resumed she, 'I know by your behaviour since
in custody, and the resolution with which you have withstood all the
temptations laid before you, for the unravelling an affair, you have,
it is the opinion of every one, been led into only by your friendship
to some person, that you regard nothing so much as honour; what I have
to propose will be no breach of it';--'but,' continued she, 'time is
precious, and opportunities of speaking to you are scarce; therefore
know, in a few words, that I am weary of my husband's ill usage,
desire nothing so much as to go where I may never see him more; and if
you will make me the companion of your flight, and swear to take care
of me till I shall otherwise dispose of myself; I have disguises for
both of us prepared, and this night you shall be free.'

Natura had little need to hesitate if he should accept this
proposal:--he saw there was at least a chance for escaping the dangers
to which he was exposed; and should the woman's plot miscarry, and he
detected of being an accomplice in it, his condition could not, even
then, be worse than it was at present; he therefore embraced her with
a fervor which she seemed very well pleased with, and assured her in
the most solemn manner he would return all the obligations she
conferred on him, by such ways as should be most agreeable to her. She
then told him she had not slept for some time in the same bed with her
husband, and therefore might easily come to him again as soon as the
family were gone to their respective apartments; and having said this,
went out of the room hastily, tho' not without returning his salute,
and telling him he was worthy of greater risques than those she was
about to run.

He was no sooner left alone, than he began to reflect: on the
capriciousness of his destiny, which to preserve him from suffering
for a crime he was innocent of, was about to make him in reality
guilty of one of the very same nature: it is likely, however, he was
not troubled with many scruples on this head; or if any arose in his
mind, they were soon dissipated in the consideration of what he owed
to his own safety, which he yet could not greatly flatter himself with
the hope of, as he was not ignorant how difficult it was for a
delinquent to elude the diligence of those sent in search of him. The
chance of such a thing notwithstanding was not to be neglected; and he
waited with an impatience adequate to the occasion, for the hour in
which he expected his deliverance.

It was little more than eleven o'clock, when she came into the chamber
in the habit of a country fellow, which so intirely disguised her,
that till she spoke, he took her for one of those who attend the
prisoners in the circumstances he then was, and imagined some accident
had prevented the execution of her plot; but he was soon convinced of
his error, by her speaking, and at the same time presenting him with a
coat, wig, and every thing proper to make him pass for such as she
appeared herself:--the reader may suppose he wasted not much time in
equipping himself, or in making any idle compliments; it was scarce
midnight, when they both got safely out of the house, the door of
which she shut softly after her.

She then proposed to him to go to the Fauxbourg, whence they might,
without any suspicion, as passing for poor countrymen, get into the
open road before day-break; but he would needs stop at the baron d'
Eyrac's, judging with good reason that they might be more securely
concealed in his house, till the search should be over, than to
pretend to travel in any shape whatever. She, who knew not what
obligations the baron had to be faithful to him in this point, at
first opposed it; but he at length prevailed, and they went boldly to
the door; the family not being all in bed, it was immediately opened,
but in the dress they were, found some difficulty to be admitted to
the baron, who, the servant told them, was asleep; but Natura, with an
admirable presence of mind, replied, that he had brought a letter from
a friend in the country of the utmost importance, and must be
delivered into the baron's own hands directly; on which he was at last
won to let them come into the hall, while he sent to let his lord
know.

Whether the baron had any suspicion of the truth, or not, is
uncertain, but he ordered the men should be brought up; Natura,
however, thought it most proper to speak to him alone, therefore left
his companion below:--never was surprize greater than that of this
nobleman, when the other discovered himself to him, and the means by
which he had been set free. After the first demonstrations of joy and
gratitude for the integrity he had shewn in resolving to endure every
thing, rather than betray the trust reposed in him, it was judged
necessary to send for his deliverer, to whom on her coming up, the
baron made many compliments.

On discoursing on what method was best for them to take, in order to
prevent discovery, the baron would by no means suffer them to pursue
that of endeavouring to quit France till the search would be made
should be entirely over; he told them, he had a place where he could
answer with his life for their concealment, which indeed was that he
had provided for the countess d' Ermand, in case they had not been
disappointed in their designs.--'There,' said he, 'you may remain, and
be furnished with all things necessary;--I can come frequently to you,
and inform you what passes, and when you may depart with safety, after
we have contrived the means.'

The exempt's wife, as well as Natura, highly approved of this offer;
and the baron knowing any stay in his house might be dangerous both to
himself and them, presently dressed himself, and went with them to the
house he mentioned, where having seen them safe lodged, took his leave
for that night, but seldom let a day pass without seeing them.

This was doubtless the only asylum which could have protected them
from the strict search was made the next day, the house of every
person, with whom either Natura or the woman had the least
acquaintance, was carefully examined; but this scrutiny was soon over
in that part, they supposed them to have left the city, and officers
were sent in pursuit of them every road they could be imagined to
take; so that had they fled, they must unavoidably have been taken.
But not to be too tedious, it was five weeks before the baron could
think it safe for them to leave Paris; and then hearing their enemies
had lost all hope of finding them, and that the general opinion was,
that they were quite got off, he told Natura that he believed they now
might venture to go, taking proper precautions. On taking leave, he
compelled Natura to accept of bills to the value of his commission,
which, as he said, being lost meerly on his account, it was his duty
to re-imburse:--nothing could be more tender than the parting of these
two faithful friends;--necessity, however, must be obeyed;--they
separated, after having settled every thing between them, and mutually
promised to keep a correspondence by letters.

It was judged best, and safest for them, to keep still in the same
disguise till they should be entirely out of the French dominions,
which happily at length they were, without the least ill accident
befalling them, none suspecting them for other than they appeared,
though the search after them was very strict, and a great reward
offered for apprehending them.--As soon as they arrived at Dover, both
threw off their borrowed shapes; Natura was again the fine gentleman,
and his companion a very agreeable woman, who was so well satisfied
with what she had done, and the behaviour of Natura towards her, that
she had lost nothing of her good looks by the fatigue of her journey.

Here they waited some time for the arrival of his servant, who knew
nothing what was become of his master, since he had made his escape
from the exempt, till he was entirely out of the kingdom, but had, all
this while, been kept in good heart by the baron, who still had told
him he was safe and well, and that he should soon hear news of him to
his satisfaction; this faithful domestic, whom they had no pretensions
to detain, now came with all his baggage, and Natura returned to
London, in an equipage, not at all inferior to that in which he had
left it.

The first thing he did was to place the exempt's wife in a handsome
lodging, and then went to wait upon his father, who had been much
alarmed at not having received any letter from him for a much longer
time than he had been accustomed to be silent. The old gentleman was
rejoiced to see him, after an absence of near six years, but sorry for
the occasion, as his affairs were greatly perplexed, on account of the
law-suits before mentioned, which being most of them in chancery, were
like to be spun out to a tedious length; but Natura soon informed him
that he was in a condition, which at present did not stand in need of
any assistance from him, and that he was determined to enter into some
business for his future support.

But in the midst of these determinations, the remembrance of his
unhappy contract with Harriot came into his mind; he thought he had
reason to fear some interruption in his designs from the malice and
wickedness of that woman: but being loth to renew the memory of his
former follies, he forbore making any mention of it to his father,
till that tender parent, not doubting but it would be a great
satisfaction to him, to know himself entirely freed from all claims of
the nature she had pretended to have on him, acquainted him, that
after he was sent away, the first step he had taken, was to get the
contract out of her hands.

The transported Natura no sooner heard he had done so, than he cried
out, 'By what means, dear sir, was she prevailed upon to relinquish a
title, by which she certainly hoped to make one day a very great
advantage?'

'Indeed,' said the father, 'I know not whether all the efforts I made
for that purpose, would have been effectual, if fortune had not
seconded my design:--she withstood all the temptations I laid in her
way, rejected the sum I offered, and only laughed at the menaces I
made, when I found she was not to be won by gentle means; and I began
to despair of success, so much as to give over all attempts that way,
when I was told she was in custody of an officer of the _compter_, on
account of some debts she had contracted:--on this your uncle put it
into my head to charge her with several actions in fictitious names;
so that being incapable of procuring bail, and going to be carried to
prison, when I sent a person to her with an offer to discharge her
from all her present incumbrances, on condition she gave up the
contract, which I assured her, at the same time, she would not be the
better for, it being my intention you should settle abroad for life.'

'This,' continued he, 'in the exigence she then was, she thought it
best to accept of, and I got clear of the matter, with much less
expence than I had expected; her real debts not amounting to above
half what I had once proposed to give her.'

Natura was charmed to find himself delivered from all the scandal, and
other vexations, with which he might otherwise have been persecuted
his whole life long, both by herself and the emissaries she had always
at hand, might have employed against him: nor was he much less
delighted to hear that she had also received some part of the
punishment her crimes deserved, in the disappointment of all her
impudent and high-raised expectations.

Having nothing now to disturb him in the prosecution of his purpose,
he set about it with the utmost diligence; and as he had a
considerable quantity of ready money by him to offer either by way of
praemium, or purchase, there was not, indeed, any great danger of his
continuing long without employment, nor that, so qualified, he might
not also be able to chuse out of many, one which should be most
agreeable to his inclinations.

Accordingly he in a little time hearing of a genteel post under the
government that was to be disposed on, he laid out part of his money
in the purchase of it, and with the remainder set up the exempt's wife
in a milliner's shop, in which, being a woman of a gay polite
behaviour, she soon acquired great business, especially as she
pretended to have left France on the score of religion, and went
constantly every day to prayers, after having formally renounced the
errors of the church of Rome: Natura visited her very often out of
gratitude, and perhaps some sparks of a more warm passion; and they
had many happy hours together, which the talk of their past adventures
contributed to heighten, as afflictions once overcome, serve to
enhance present happiness.

Several matches were now proposed to Natura, but he rejected them all;
whether it were that he had not seen the face capable of fixing his
heart, or whether he was willing to wait the determination of his
father's affairs, in order to marry to greater advantage, it is hard
to say; tho' probably the latter was the true reason; for ambition now
began to display itself in his bosom, and by much got the better of
those fond emotions which a few years past had engrossed him: he now
began to think that grandeur had charms beyond beauty, though far from
being insensible of that too, he was not without other amours than
that he still continued with the French woman: the raising his fortune
was, however, his principal view, and for that purpose he neglected
nothing tending to promote it; he made his court to those of the great
men, who he knew could be serviceable to him with so much success,
that he had many promises of their interest for a better post, as soon
as opportunity presented.

Fortune for a while seemed inclined to favour him in a lavish manner;
his mother-in-law died, and with her many of the vexatious suits
dropped, and others were compromised at an easy rate, so that his
father was soon in a condition to make a settlement upon him
sufficient to qualify him for a seat in parliament, which, on the
first vacancy, thro' favour, he got into, though at that time the
house was not crowded with placemen, as it since has been: in fine, he
was beloved and caressed by persons of the highest rank, and every one
looked upon him as a man who, in time, would make a very considerable
figure in the world.

His friends remonstrating that as he was twenty-nine, it was time for
him to think of marriage, and a proposal being made on that account
with a young lady, of an ancient and honourable family, who, besides a
large fortune in her own hands, had the reputation of every other
requisite to render that state agreeable, he hesitated not to embrace
it:--he made his addresses to her, she accepted of them, and in as
short a time as could be expected, consented to give him her
hand;--the kindred on both sides were very well pleased, and tho' her
family had some advantages in point of birth over his, yet as he
seemed in a fair way of doing honour to it, there was not the least
objection made; but articles were drawn, and a day appointed for the
wedding.

But how little dependance is to be placed on fortune! how precarious
are the smiles of that uncertain goddess, when most secure of her
promised favours, and just upon the point, as we imagine, of receiving
all we have to wish from her, she often snatches away the expected
good, and showers upon us the worst of mischiefs treasured in her
store-house!--Some few days before that which was to crown his hopes,
he happened in company to be discoursing of his travels, and
mentioning some things he had seen in France, a gentleman who imagined
he spoke too favourably of the chevalier St. George, and pretended he
had also been there, took upon him to contradict almost all he said
concerning that place and person: Natura knowing himself in the right,
and being a little heated with wine, maintained the truth of what he
alledged, with more impetuosity than policy perhaps would have
suffered him to have done at another time; and the other no less
warmly opposing, passion grew high on both sides;--the lie was given
and returned;--each was no less quick with his sword than his
repartee, several passes were made, but the company parted them: and
though they stayed together, neither of them was reconciled, nor in
good humour for what was past.

In going home Natura and one gentleman kept together, as their way
happened to be the same, when, see the wild effects of party-rage! all
on a sudden, the person who had been his antagonist, and, it seems,
had followed, came up to them, with his sword drawn, and told Natura
he was a scoundrel, and a fool, for what he had said; his words, and
the sight of his weapon, made him put himself immediately in a posture
of defence, which indeed he had need of; for had he been less nimble,
he had received the sword of the other in his body, before the
gentleman who was with him could do any thing to separate them; nor
were his efforts for that purpose sufficient to prevent them from
engaging with a vehemence, which permitted neither of making use of
much skill: it was however the chance of Natura to give his adversary
a wound, which made him fall, as he imagined, dead; on which the
disinterested person made the best of his way, as being afraid of
being taken up by the watch, who were then just coming by:--Natura did
the same, and thinking it improper to go home, went to the house of a
friend, in whom he could confide, and who, on enquiry the next day,
brought him an account, that the person with whom he had fought was
dead, but had lived long enough to acquaint those who took him up, by
whom he had received his hurt; and that warrants were already out for
apprehending the murderer, as he was now called.

What now was to be done! Natura found himself under the necessity of
going directly out of the way, and by that means endanger the loss of
his employment, and also of his intended bride; or by staying expose
himself to a shameful trial at the Old Bailey, which, he had reason to
fear, would not end in his favour, the deceased having many friends
and relations at the bar; and the very person who had been witness of
their combat, somewhat a-kin to him:--it was therefore his own
inclination, as well as the advice of his friends, that prevailed on
him to make his escape into some foreign part, while they were looking
for him at home; which he accordingly did that same hour, taking post
for Harwich, where, through the goodness of his horse, he arrived that
night, and immediately embarked in a fishing-smack, which carried him
into Holland.

He had leisure now to reflect on his late adventure, which afforded
the most melancholly retrospect; the happy situation he had been in,
and the almost assured hopes of being continued in for life, made his
present one appear yet worse, than in reality it was: he now looked on
himself as doomed to be a vagrant all his days, driven from his native
country for ever, and the society of all his friends, and torn beyond
even a possibility of recovering, from a lady, to whom he was so near
being united for ever, whom he loved, and whose fortune and kindred
had given him just expectation of advancement in the world.

These gloomy thoughts took him wholly up for some days, but he was not
yet arrived at those years, in which misfortunes sink too deeply on
the soul; these vexatious accidents by degrees lost much of their
ferocity, and he began to consider how much beneath a man of courage
it was to give way to despair at any event whatever, and that he ought
to look forward, and endeavour to _retrieve_, not _lament_, the
mischief that was past. He wrote to his father an exact account of
every thing, and intreated his advice: he sent also a letter to the
young lady, full of the most tender expressions, and pressures for the
continuance of her affection; though this latter was more for the sake
of form than any hope he had of being granted what he asked, or as he
was circumstanced, any benefit he could have received from it, if
obtained.

The answer his father sent, gave him both pain and pleasure; it
informed him, that the wounds he had given the person with whom he
fought, were not mortal; that it was only the vast effusion of blood
which had thrown him into a fainting, which occasioned the report of
his death, and that he was now in a fair way of recovery; so that he,
Natura, might return as soon as he pleased, there being no danger on
account of the rencounter; but that the occasion of that quarrel being
a party-affair, and represented in its worst colours by some private
enemies, it had reached the ears of the ministry, who, looking on him
as a disaffected person, had already disposed of his employment; he
also informed him, that he must not flatter himself with being able
ever hereafter to be thought qualified to hold any place or office
under the government:--he also added, that the friends of his intended
bride were so incensed against him, that they protested, they would
sooner see her in her coffin, than in the arms of a man who had
incurred the odious appellation of a _Jacobite_; and that she herself
expressed her detestation of the principles he was now accused of,
with no less virulence and contempt;--had torn the letter he had sent
to her in a thousand pieces; and to shew how much she was in earnest,
had accepted the addresses of a gentleman, who had been long his
rival, and to whom it was expected she would soon be married.

If Natura rejoiced to find himself cleared of having been the death of
a fellow-creature, he was equally mortified at having rendered himself
obnoxious to those who alone were capable of gratifying his ambition:
as for the change in the lady's sentiments concerning him, he was
under much less concern; he thought the affection she professed for
him must have been very small, when a difference of opinion in
state-affairs, and that too but supposed, could all at once erace it,
and rather despised, than lamented, the bigotry of party-zeal, which
had occasioned it:--his good sense made him know, that to deny all the
good qualities of a person, meerly because those good qualities were
not ornamented with the favours of fortune, was both unjust and mean;
and the proof she gave of her weakness and ungenerosity in this point,
intirely destroyed all the passion he once had for her, and
consequently all regret for the loss of her.

He could not, however, think of returning to England yet a while; his
father's letter had given some hints, as if there was a design on
foot, and he was confirmed soon after of the truth of it, for
expelling him the house; and he thought it was best to spare his
enemies that labour, and quit it of his own accord: and in this he
found himself intirely right, when on writing to some persons of
condition, with whom he had been most intimate, he found by their
answers, that it was now known he had been in the French service,
which both himself and his father had kept a secret, even from their
nearest kindred; not there was any thing in it which could be
construed into a crime, as the nations were then in alliance, but
because as he could not possibly enjoy a commission there, without
conforming to the ceremonies of the Romish church, it must infallibly
be a hindrance to his advancement in a Protestant country. It is
certain, Natura was of a temper to make good the proverb, _That when
one is at Rome, one must do as they do at Rome_:--and though he had
gone to hear _mass_, because it was his interest, and the necessity of
his affairs obliging him in a manner to seek his bread at that time,
yet was he far from approving the superstitions of that church; all
that he could write, however, or his friends urge for him on this
head, was ineffectual; he passed for a _papist_ and _jacobite_ with
every body: pursuant therefore to his resolution of continuing abroad,
till these discourses should be a little worn out, he wrote again to
his father, and settled his affairs so as to receive remittances of
money, at the several places to which he intended to go.




CHAP. IV.

  The power of fear over a mind, weak either by nature, or infirmities
  of body: The danger of its leading to despair, is shewn by the
  condition Natura was reduced to by the importunities of priests of
  different perswasions. This chapter also demonstrates, the little
  power people have of judging what is really best for them, and that
  what has the appearance of the severest disappointment, is
  frequently the greatest good.


As to lose the memory of his disgrace, or at least all those gloomy
reflections it had occasioned, was the chief motive which had made
Natura resolve to travel a second time, it was a matter of
indifference to him which way he went. He first took care to make
himself master of all that was worth observation in Holland, where he
found little to admire, except the Stadthouse, and the magnificence
with which king William, after his accession to the crown of these
kingdoms, had ornamented his palace at Loo; but the rough, unpolite
behaviour of the people, disgusted him so much, that he stayed no
longer among them than was necessary to see what the place afforded,
and then passed on to Brussels, Antwerp, and, in fine, left no great
city, either in Dutch or French Flanders unvisited; thence went into
Germany, where his first route was to Hanover, having, it seems, a
curiosity of seeing a prince, whose brows were one day to be incircled
with the crown of England; but this country was, at that time, in so
low and wretched a condition, that whether he looked on the buildings,
the lands, or the appearance of the inhabitants, all equally presented
a scene of poverty to his eyes; he therefore made what haste he could
out of it, having found nothing, except the Elector himself, that gave
him the least satisfaction. He was also at several other petty courts,
all which served to inspire in him not the most favourable idea of
Germany.

At length he arrived at Vienna, a city pompous enough to those who had
never seen Rome and Paris; but however it may yield to them in
elegance of buildings, gardening, and other delicacies of life, it was
yet more inferior in the manners of the people;--he perceived among
the persons of quality, an affectation of grandeur, a state without
greatness, and in the lower rank of gentry, a certain stiffness, even
to the meanest, and an insufferable pride, which came pretty near
ferocity:--the costly, but ill-contrived parades frequently made,
discovered less their riches than their bad taste, and appeared the
more ridiculous to Natura, as they were extolled for their
magnificence and elegance; but, even here, as indeed all over Germany,
the courts of Berlin and Dresden excepted, you see rather an _aim_ of
attracting admiration and respect, than the _power_ of it. These,
however, were the sentiments of Natura, others perhaps may judge
differently.

But whatever may be the deficiencies of Germany in matters of genius,
wit, judgment, and manners, there is none in good eating, and good
wine; and though their fashion of cookery is not altogether so polite,
nor so agreeable to the palates of others as their own, yet it must be
confessed, that in their way, they are very great epicures; but though
they generally eat voraciously, they drink yet more; and so nimbly do
they send the glass about, that a stranger finds it no small
difficulty to maintain his sobriety among them.

Natura's too great compliance with their intreaties in this point, had
like to have proved fatal to him:--the strength of the wines, and
drinking them in a much larger quantity than he had been accustomed
to, so inflamed his blood, that he soon fell into a violent fever,
which for some days gave those that attended him, little hopes of his
recovery; but by the skill of his physician, joined to his youth, and
the goodness of his constitution, the force of the distemper at last
abated, yet could not be so intirely eradicated, as not to leave a
certain pressure and debility upon the nerves, by some called a fever
on the spirits, which seemed to threaten either an atrophy or
consumption; his complexion grew pale and livid, and his strength and
flesh visibly wasted; and what was yet worse, the vigour of his mind
decayed, in proportion with that of his external frame, insomuch that,
falling into a deep melancholy, he considered himself as on the brink
of the grave, and expected nothing but dissolution every hour.

While he continued in this languishing condition, he was frequently
visited by the priests, who in some parts of Germany, particularly at
Vienna, are infinitely more inveterate against Protestantism than at
Paris, or even at Rome, though the _papal_ seat; as indeed any one may
judge, who has heard of the many and cruel persecutions practised upon
the poor Protestants by the emperors, in spite of the repeated
obligations they have had to those powers who profess the doctrines of
Calvin and Luther; but gratitude is no part of the characteristic of a
German.

These venerable distracters of the human mind, were perpetually
ringing hell and damnation in his ears, in case he abjured not, before
his death, the errors in which he had been educated, and continued in
so many years, and by acts of penance and devotion, reconcile himself
to the mother church; they pleaded the antiquity of their faith,
brought all the fathers they could muster up, to prove that alone was
truly orthodox, and that all dissenting from it was a sin not to be
forgiven.

On the other hand, the English ambassador's chaplain, who knew well
enough what they were about, omitted nothing that might confirm him in
the principles of the reformation, and convince him that the church of
England, as by law established, had departed only from the errors
which had crept into the primitive church, not from the church itself,
and that all the superstitious doctrines now preached up by the Romish
priests, were only so many impositions of their own, calculated to
inrich themselves, and keep weak minds in awe.

Natura, who had till now contented himself with understanding moral
duties, and had never examined into matters of controversy between the
two religions, now found both had so much to say in defence of their
different modes of worship, that he became very much divided in his
sentiments; and each remonstrating to him by turns, the danger of
dying in a wrong belief, wrought so far upon the present weakness of
his intellects, as to bring him into a fluctation of ideas, which
might, in time, either have driven him into despair, or made him
question the very fundamentals of a religion, the merits of which its
professors seemed to place so much in things of meer form and
ceremony.

By this may be seen how greatly _christianity_ suffers by the unhappy
divisions among the professors of it:--much it is to be wished, though
little to be hoped, that both sides would be prevailed upon to recede
a little from their present stiffness in opinion, or be at least less
virulent in maintaining it; since each, by endeavouring to expose and
confute what they look upon as an absurdity in the other, join in
contributing to render the truth of the whole suspected, and not only
give a handle to the avowed enemies, of depreciating and ridiculing
all the sacred mysteries of religion, but also stagger the faith of a
great many well-meaning people, and afford but a too plausible
pretence for that sceptism which goes by the name of _free-thinking_,
and is of late so much the fashion.

In another situation, perhaps, Natura would have been little affected
with any thing could have been said on this score; but health and
sickness make a wide difference in our way of thinking:--when
surrounded by the gay pleasures of life, and in the full vigour and
capacity of enjoying them, we either do not reflect at all, or but
cursorily on the evil day; but when cold imbecility steals upon us,
either through age or accidents, and death and eternity stare us in
the face, we have quite other sentiments, other wishes:--whoever
firmly believes, that in leaving this life, we but step into another,
either of happiness or misery, and that which ever it proves, will be
without end, or possibility of change, and that the whole of future
welfare depends on the road we take in going out of this world, will
be very fearful lest he should chuse the wrong; and it is not
therefore strange, that while, with equal force, the _papist_ pulled
one way, and the _protestant_ another, the poor penitent should be
involved in the most terrible uncertainty.

Happy, therefore, was it, both for the recovery of his mind and body,
that his physicians finding all their recipes had little effect,
advised him to seek relief from the waters of the Spa, and as it was
their opinion, they would be of more efficacy, when drank upon the
spot, he accordingly took his journey thither, but by reason of his
weakness, was obliged to be carried the whole way in a litter.

It is very probable, that being eased of the perplexities the
incessant admonitions of the priests of different opinions had given
him, contributed as much as the waters to his amendment; but to which
ever of these causes it may be imputed, it is certain that he every
day became better, and as his strength of body returned, so did that
of his mind, in proportion; with his apprehensions of death, his
disquiets about matters of religion subsided also, and whenever any
thing of that kind came cross his thoughts, it was but by starts, and
was soon dissipated with other ideas, which many objects at this place
presented him with.

But that to which he was chiefly indebted for the recovery of his
former gaiety of temper, was meeting with an English family, with whom
he had been extremely intimate; the lady had come thither for the same
purpose he had done, her husband being very tender of her, would needs
accompany her, and they brought with them their only daughter, a young
lady of great beauty, and not above eighteen, in hopes, as they said,
of alleviating a certain melancholly, to which she was addicted,
without any cause, at least any that was visible, for it.

Natura had often seen the amiable Maria (for so she was called) but
had never felt for her any of those pleasing, and equally painful,
emotions, which a nearer conversation with her now inspired him
with:--he had always thought her very handsome, but she now appeared
perfectly adorable in his eyes:--the manner of her behaviour, that
modest sweetness which appeared through her whole deportment, and
seemed, as it were, a part of her soul, had for him irresistible
charms; and as he very well knew the circumstances of her family, such
as his friends could make no reasonable objections against, nor his
own such as could be thought contemptible by those of her kindred, he
attempted not to repel the satisfaction which he felt, in the hopes of
being one day able to make an equal impression on her heart.

The very first use he made of his intire recovery from his late
indisposition, was an endeavour to convince her how much her presence
had contributed to it, and that the supremest wish his soul could
form, was to enjoy it with her in the nearest, and most tender union,
as long as life continued.--She received the declarations he made her
of his passion with great reserve, and yet more coldness; and affected
to take them only for the effects of a gallantry, which she told him
was far from being agreeable to a person of her humour: but he
imputing her behaviour only to an excess of that extreme modesty which
accompanied all her words and actions, was so far from being rebuffed
at it, that he acquainted her parents with his inclination, and, at
the same time, intreated their permission for prosecuting his
addresses to her.

Both of them heard his proposals with a joy which it was impossible
for either, especially the mother of that lady, to conceal:--each
cried out, almost at the same time, that the sentiments he expressed
for their daughter, was an honour they hoped she had too much good
sense not to accept with the utmost satisfaction, and added, that they
would immediately lay their commands upon her, to receive him in the
manner she ought to do.

As their families and fortunes were pretty equivalent, and Maria,
besides her being an heiress, had beauty enough to expect to marry,
even above her rank, Natura could not keep himself from being a little
astonished at the extravagance of pleasure they testified at the offer
he had made: parents generally take some time to consider, before they
give their assent to a proposal of this sort; and as he knew they were
very well acquainted with the occasion of his leaving England this
second time, and were of a party the most opposite that could be to
that he was suspected to have favoured, their extreme readiness to
dispose of their only daughter, and with her their whole estate, to
him seemed the more strange, as he had been, ever since he conceived a
passion for Maria, in the most terrible apprehension of meeting with a
different reception from them, meerly on the account of his supposed
principles.

The transport, however, that so unexpected a condescension gave him,
prevented him from examining too deeply what might be the motives that
induced them to it, and he gave himself wholly up to love, gratitude,
and the delightful thoughts of being in a short time possessed of all
he at present wished, or imagined he ever should ask of Heaven.

But how were all these rapturous expectations dashed, when soon after
going to visit Maria, he found her lovely eyes half drowned in tears,
and her whole frame in the utmost disorder:--'What, madam,' cried he,
with a voice which denoted both grief and surprize, 'can have
happened, to give you any cause of the disquiet I see in you!'--'You,'
replied she, snatching away her hand, which he had taken, 'you alone
are the cause;--what encouragement did I ever give you,' continued
she, 'that should make you imagine the offers you have made my parents
would be agreeable to me?--Did I ever authorize you to ask a consent
from them, which I was determined never to grant myself, and which, I
will suffer a thousand deaths rather than ratify.'

The confusion Natura was in at these words was so great, that it
prevented him from making any answer; but he looked on her in such a
manner as made her ashamed of what she had said, and perhaps too of
the passion that had so far transported her; and perceiving he still
continued silent, 'I own myself obliged for the affection you express
for me,' resumed she, with more mildness, 'though it is at present the
greatest misfortune could have happened to me. Could I have thought
you would have declared yourself in the manner you have done to my
father and mother, I would have convinced you how impossible it would
be for you to reap any advantage from it, and that by so doing you
would only make me the most wretched creature in the world; but all is
now too late, and I foresee the cruel consequence.'--Here her tears
interrupted the passage of her words, and Natura having recollected
himself, began to complain of the severity of his destiny, which
compelled him to _love_ with the most violent passion a person who
could only return it with an equal degree of hate.--'Love,' replied
she, with a deep sigh, 'is not in our power;--let me therefore conjure
you, by all that which you pretend to have for me, to proceed no
farther in this business, nor endeavour to prevail on my parents to
force an inclination, which no obligations to them, services from you,
or length of time can ever influence in your favour; for be assured,
that if you do, you will only see the hand should be given you at the
altar, employed in cutting my own throat, or plunging a dagger in my
breast.'

With these words, and an air that had somewhat of wildness in it, she
flung out of the room, leaving him in a consternation impossible to
describe, almost to conceive; her mother came in immediately after,
and judging by his countenance how her daughter had behaved, told him
he must not regard the coyness of a young girl; that she doubted not
but Maria would soon be convinced what was her true happiness; and
that a little perseverance and assiduity on his side, and authority on
theirs, would remove all the scruples, bashfulness alone had created
in her: 'No, madam,' answered he, with some impatience, 'there is
somewhat more than all this you have mentioned, against me;--there is
a rooted detestation to me in the very soul of Maria, which as I
cannot but despair of being ever able to remove, common reason bids me
attempt no farther.'

The mother of Maria appeared very much perplexed, and said a great
deal to perswade him that his apprehensions were without foundation;
but the young lady had expressed herself in terms too strong for him
not to be perfectly assured she was in earnest; and being willing to
ruminate a little on the affair, he took leave, though not without the
other extorting a promise from him, of coming again the next day.

Natura had not given himself much time to reflect, before he conceived
great part of the truth:--he could not think either his person or
qualifications so contemptible, as to inspire a heart unprepossessed
by some other object, with an aversion such as Maria had expressed: he
therefore concluded, she had disposed of her affections before she
knew of his: it also seemed plain to him that her parents were not
ignorant of her attachment, and being such as they could not approve
of, it was that which had rendered them both so ready to snatch at his
proposal, without any mention of those considerations they would
otherwise naturally have had of jointure, settlements, and all those
things, previous to marriage, between persons of condition.

He was the more confirmed in this belief, when the father came to his
lodgings the next morning; and without seeming to know any thing of
what had passed between him, either with his wife, or Maria, asked, in
a gay manner, how the latter had received his addresses? To which
Natura answered in the same manner as he had done to her mother;
adding only, that he could not avoid believing her heart was already
engaged to some more worthy man, and was sorry his own unhappy passion
had occasioned any interruption. The father left nothing unsaid that
might dissipate such a conjecture, and affected to railly him on a
jealousy which, he said, was common to lovers; and then told him a
long story how himself had formerly suffered much by the same vain
imagination. But all this was so far from making Natura doubt the
truth of his conjectures, that, seeing through the artifice, he was
the more convinced they were intirely right.

He went, notwithstanding, in the afternoon, either because he had
promised to do so, or because he could not all at once resolve to
banish himself from a person he took so much pleasure in beholding,
though now without hopes of ever being able to obtain:--being left
alone with Maria, both of them remained in a kind of sullen silence
for some minutes, till at last the force of his passion in spite of
himself made him utter some complaints on the cruelty of fortune, and
his own insensibility, which had denied him the opportunity of
discovering the thousand charms he now found in her, till too late to
have his adoration of them acceptable to her. 'I have not less
reason,' said she, 'to accuse the chance which at this time brought us
together, than you can possibly have; since the love you profess for
me, and which I once more assure you I can never return, has laid me
under the severest displeasure of my parents';--'but I had hopes,'
continued she, 'after the declaration I made you yesterday, that you
would have renounced all pretensions to me, and had generosity enough
in your nature, not to have taken the advantage of my father and
mother's power over me, to force me into a compliance, which must be
fatal to one or both of us.'

'No, madam,' answered he, much surprized, 'I am far from even a wish
of becoming guilty of what you accuse me with;--dear as I prize your
person, I would not attempt to purchase it at the expence of your
peace of mind; nor could I be truly blessed in the enjoyment of the
_one_, without the _other_;--it is only to Maria herself I would have
been obliged, not to the authority of her parents.'

'Will you then quit me,' cried she hastily, 'and let the act appear
wholly your own?'--'I will,' replied he, after a pause, 'difficult as
it is to do so, and irresolute and inconstant as it will make me
seem.' 'That,' said she, 'will be an action truly deserving my esteem;
and in return, know I am much more your friend in refusing your
addresses, than either my parents in encouraging, or your own mistaken
wishes in offering them':--'but,' pursued she, 'I beg you will enquire
no farther, but leave me, and break off with my parents in the best
manner you can.'

Fain would he have obtained a farther explanation of words, which
seemed to him to contain some mystery, as indeed they did; but she was
no less inflexible to his intreaties on that score, than she had been
to those of his love; and perceiving his presence gave her only pain,
he went out of the house with an aking and agitated heart, but
resolved to do as she desired and he had promised, whatever pangs it
cost him.

He had not gone above an hundred paces on his way home, before he was
accosted by a man who seemed like an upper-servant in a gentleman's
family, and who, with a low bow, delivered him a letter, which, on
seeing directed to himself, he hastily opened, and found contained
these lines:

  Sir,

  "If you have any thing in you of the gallantry, generosity, or
  gratitude, for which your country is famed, come where the bearer
  will conduct you, to a woman, who has suffered much on your
  account, and can be extricated from an unhappy affair only by your
  advice."

Natura was little in a humour to pursue an adventure of the kind this
seemed to be; but curiosity got the better of his spleen, and he bad
the fellow lead the way, and he would follow; which he accordingly
did, till they were out of the town, and from the sight of all the
houses.

Being come into a field which was a kind of an inclosure, and a
theatre proper enough for the tragedy intended to be acted on it, the
fellow turned back, and drew a pistol, which he instantly discharged
at the head of Natura, crying at the same time, 'Maria sends you
this.'--Heaven so directed the bullets, that the one passed by his
ear, and the other only grazed upon his shoulder, without doing any
farther damage, than taking away a small piece of his sleeve. It is
easy to judge of his surprize, yet was it not so great as to disable
him from drawing his sword in order to revenge himself on the
assassin; but the wretch, in case his fire-arms should miscarry, had
provided a falchion concealed under his coat, with which, the same
instant, he ran furiously on Natura, and had certainly cleft him down,
tho' perhaps in doing so, he might have received his own death's wound
at the same time from the sword of his antagonist; but both these
events were happily prevented by the peculiar interposition of Divine
Providence: some reapers, who had lain asleep under an adjacent hedge,
being roused with the noise of the pistol, ran to the combatants, and
with their hooks beat down both their weapons; while at the same
fortunate crisis, two gentlemen attended by three servants, who
happening to cross a road which had a full prospect over the field,
had seen, at a distance, all that had passed, and came galloping up to
the assistance of Natura, who was then beginning to interrogate the
villain on the occasion of this attempt; but he refused to give any
satisfactory answer to what he said, so was dragged by the countrymen,
and others, who by this time were gathered together, back into the
town, and carried immediately before a magistrate, who, on his
obstinately refusing to make any confession, committed him to prison.

Natura, who imagined nothing more certain, than that Maria had set
this fellow on to murder him, as the surest way to get rid of his
addresses, went directly to the house where she lodged, full of a
resentment equal to the detestable crime of which he thought her
guilty;--he found her in the room with her father and mother, of whom
he took little notice, but stepped forwards to the place where she was
sitting; and seeing her a little surprized, which indeed was
occasioned only by his sudden return, and the abrupt manner in which
he entered:--'You find, madam,' said he, with a voice broke with rage,
'your plot has miscarried;--Natura still lives, though it must be
owned your emissary did all could be expected to obey your commands,
for my destruction.'

It is hard to say, whether Maria, or her parents, were in the greatest
consternation at these words; but he soon unravelled the mystery, by
relating the whole story, not omitting what the assassin said in
presenting the pistol, and then as a confirmation throwed the letter
he had received into Maria's lap, and at the same time shewed the
passage one of the bullets had made through the sleeve of his
coat:--the young lady no sooner cast her eyes upon the letter, than
she gave a great shriek, and crying out, 'O Humphry, Humphry! every
way my ruin!' immediately fell fainting on the floor; her father,
without regarding the condition she was in, snatched up the paper, the
hand-writing of which he presently recollected, as having, it seems,
intercepted several wrote by the same person;--'Abandoned, infamous
creature,' cried he;--'shame of thy sex and family,' added the mother,
striking her breast in the utmost agony:--in fine, never was such a
scene of distraction and despair!--Natura, injured as he had been,
could not behold it without compassion;--he ran by turns to Maria,
endeavouring to raise her,--then to her parents, beseeching them to
moderate their passion,--then to her again:--'You are too generous,'
said the father, 'let her die, happy had it been if she had perished
in the cradle':--Just as he spoke these words she revived, and lifting
up her eyes, 'O, I am no murd'ress,' cried she, 'guilty as I am, in
this Heaven knows my innocence.'--'It is false, it is false,' said the
father; 'but were it true, canst thou deny, thou most abandoned
wretch, that thou wert also ignorant that the villain who wrote this
letter had followed us to Spaw, and bring a second shame upon
us?'--She answered to this only with her tears, which assuring him she
had no defence to make on this article, his rage grew more inflamed;
he loaded her with curses, and could not keep himself from spurning
her with his feet, as she still lay groveling on the ground, and might
perhaps have proceeded to greater violences, had not Natura, by main
force, with-held him, while her mother, tho' little less incensed
against her, dragged her in a manner out of the room, more dead than
alive.

The unhappy object removed from his sight, the provoked father grew
somewhat more calm, and turning to Natura, 'You see now, sir,' said
he, 'how unworthy this wretched girl is of that affection with which
you once honoured her; but how shall I obtain your pardon for what the
too great tenderness for an only child has made me guilty of to
you;--all I can say is, that I hoped she had been reclaimed, and so
far from even a wish to repeat her crimes, that she had only an utter
detestation for the villain that had seduced her.'

Natura knew very well how he ought to judge of this affair; but as he
had an aversion to dissimulation, and was unwilling to add any thing
to the affliction he was witness to, he said little in answer to the
other's apology, but that he was extremely sorry for Maria, and the
misfortunes she had brought on the family; and then took his leave as
soon as decency would permit; but with a firm resolution to hold no
farther conversation, wherever they should hereafter happen to meet,
with persons who had all of them, in their several capacities, used
him so ill.

The assassin was soon after brought to a public trial, where tortures
making him confess the truth, he acknowledged, that having been a
servant in the family, the beauty of Maria had inspired him with
desires, unbefitting the disparity between them;--that emboldened by
an extraordinary goodness she shewed to him, he had declared his
passion, and met with all the returns he wished;--that she became
pregnant by him, and had made a vow to keep herself single, till the
death of her father should leave her at liberty to marry him; but that
an unlucky accident having discovered their amour, he was turned out
of the house, and the grief Maria conceived at it occasioned an
abortion; but that after her recovery she contrived means to meet him
privately, and to support him with money, that he might not be obliged
to go to service any more; that she had acquainted him with their
coming to the Spa, and not only knew of his following them in disguise
to that place, but contrived a rendezvous where they saw each other
often, and he learned from her the addresses of Natura, and the
positive commands laid on her by her parents of marrying him, in order
to retrieve her honour and reputation; that as besides the extreme
love he had for her, his own interest obliged him to hinder the match,
if by any means he could; and finding no other than the death of his
rival, he had attempted it by the way already mentioned: but cleared
Maria, however, of all guilt on this score, who, he assured the court,
knew nothing of his intentions of murder.

The sentence passed on him was, to be hanged in chains, which was
accordingly executed in a few days; though Natura, pitying his case,
in consideration of the greatness of the temptation, laboured for a
mitigation of his doom.--He never saw the unfortunate Maria
afterwards, but heard she was in a condition little different from
madness, which making her parents think it improper she should return
to England, they conveyed her to Liege, where they placed her as a
pensioner in the convent of English nuns, there to remain till time
and reflection should make a change in her, fit to appear again in the
world; which proceeding in them shewed, that whatever aversion some
people have to _this_, or _that_ form of religion, they can
countenance, nay, pretend to approve it, when it happens to prove for
their convenience to do so.

Natura was now intirely cured of his passion, but could not avoid
feeling a very tender commiseration for her, who had been the unhappy
object of it; he found also, on meditating on every passage of this
adventure, that she was infinitely less to blame, in regard to him,
than her parents had been; and that what he had accused, as cruel in
her, was much more kind than the favour they had pretended for
him.--When he reflected on the gulph of misery he had so narrowly
escaped, he was filled with the most grateful sentiments to that
Providence which had protected him; and also made sensible, that what
we often pray for, as the greatest of blessings, would, if obtained,
prove the severest curse:--a reflection highly necessary for all who
desire any thing with too much ardency.




CHAP. V.

  Shews that there is no one human advantage to which all others
  should be sacrificed:--the force of ambition, and the folly of
  suffering it to gain too great an ascendant over us;--public
  grandeur little capable of atoning for private discontent; among
  which jealousy, whether of love or honour, is the most tormenting.


The desire of being well settled in the world is both natural and
laudable; but then great care ought to be taken to moderate this
passion, in order to prevent it from engrossing the mind too much; for
it is the nature of ambition, not only to stop at nothing that tends
to its gratification, but also to be ever craving new acquisitions,
ever unsatisfied with the former.--One favourite point is no sooner
gained, than another appears in view, and is pursued with the same
eagerness:--what we once thought the _summum bonum_ of our happiness,
seems nothing when we have attained to the possession of it, while
that which is unaccomplished, fires us with impatience, and robs us of
every enjoyment we might take in life.

Natura having now been absent two years, thought the idle rumours
concerning him, as to his principles in party-matters, would be pretty
much silenced, so began to think of returning to England; he was the
more encouraged to do so, as he found by his letters, that those in
the ministry, who had appeared with most virulence against him, had
been removed themselves, and that a considerable change in public
affairs had happened. Accordingly, he set forward with all the
expedition he could, feeling not the least regret for leaving a
country he had never liked, nor where he had ever enjoyed any real
satisfaction, and had been so near being plunged into the worst of
misfortunes, that of an unhappy marriage:--no ill accident
intervening, he arrived in England, and proceeded directly to London,
where he was received with an infinity of joy by his father and
sister, who happened at that time to come to town with her spouse, in
order to place a young son they had at Westminster school.

The better genius of Natura now took its turn, and prevailed over his
ill one: the person whose turbulent zeal had occasioned his late
misfortune, had since, being detected in some mal practice in other
affairs, been cashiered from an office he held under the government,
and was in the utmost disgrace himself: every body was now assured,
that Natura had done no more than what became any man of spirit and
honour; and those who before had condemned, now applauded his
behaviour: in fine, every thing happened according to his wishes, and,
to crown his happiness, he married about ten months after his arrival,
a young beautiful lady, of his father's recommendation, and who had
indeed all the qualifications that can render the conjugal state
desirable.

The promotion of a member of parliament to the house of peers for that
county in which their estate lay, happening soon after, he stood for
the vacant seat, and easily obtained it:--nothing now seemed wanting
to compleat his perfect happiness, yet so restless is the heart of
man, that gaining much, it yet craves for more; Natura had always a
great passion for the court, meerly because it was a court, and gave
an air of dignity to all belonging to it; he longed to make one among
the shining throng; he was continually solliciting it, with an anxiety
which deprived him of any true enjoyment of the blessings of his life;
nor could all the arguments his father used to convince him of the
vanity of his desires, nor the soft society of a most endearing and
accomplished wife, render him easy under the many disappointments he
received in the prosecution of this favourite aim.

The death of his father soon after, however, filled his bosom with
emotions which he had never felt before in any painful degree; he was
for some time scarce able to support the thoughts of having lost so
tender and affectionate a parent: but as nothing is so soon forgot as
death, especially when alleviated by the enjoyment of a greater
affluence of fortune, his grief wore off by pretty swift degrees, and
he was beginning to renew his pursuits after preferment, with the same
assiduity and ardency as ever, when his wife died in bringing into the
world a son. This second subject of sorrow struck indeed much more to
his heart than the former had done, as he now wanted that comforter he
had found in her.--All the consolation he had was in that little
pledge of their mutual affection she had left behind; and it was for
the sake of that dear boy, at least he imagined it so, that his
ambition of making a great figure in the world again, revived in him,
if possible, with greater energy than ever.

As he was now in possession of a very fine estate, had an agreeable
person, rendered yet more so by all the advantages of education and
travel, and not quite six-and-thirty, when he became a widower, his
year of mourning was scarce expired, before all his friends and
acquaintance began to talk to him of another wife, and few days past
without proposals of that nature being made; but either the memory of
the former amiable partner of his bed, or the experience he had in his
own family of the ill effects that second marriages sometimes produce,
made him deaf, for a long time, to any discourses on that head, though
urged by those who, in other matters, had the greatest ascendant over
him.

Though he was far from being arrived at those years which render a man
insensible of beauty, yet he was past those which had made him look on
the enjoyment of it as the supremest bliss:--the fond desires that
once engrossed him, had for some time given way to the more potent
ardors of ambition;--he now made not love his _business_ but
_amusement_; the amours he had were only transient, and merely to fill
the vacancy of an idle hour: his thoughts were so wholly taken up with
advancing himself, and becoming a man of consequence in the world,
that it may be reasonably supposed, by his behaviour, and the manner
in which he rejected all the offers made to him, that had he met with
a woman, in whom all the perfections of the sex were centered, she
would not have been able either to engage him to a serious attachment,
or to have quitted those more darling pursuits, which the desire of
greatness fired him with.

Thus fortified by his present inclinations against all the charms of
youth, of wit, of beauty, there was but one temptation he had not the
power of withstanding, and that one his ill fate at length presented
to him. A certain great person, who at that time was at the head of
public affairs, had a neice, who for many private reasons, he found it
necessary to dispose of in marriage: Natura was the man he happened to
pitch upon, as one who seemed to him a very proper person, and
accordingly made him the offer, accompanied with a promise of getting
him into a great post, which he knew he had been for a long time, and
was still, solliciting, though without any prospect of success,
without his assistance.

The young lady was not ugly, yet far from being mistress of charms
capable of captivating a heart which had been filled with so many
images of different beauties; but, as I have already said, love was
not now the reigning passion of Natura's soul, and had she been much
less amiable, the dowery she was to bring, sufficiently compensated
for all other deficiencies, according to his present way of judging.

He hesitated not a moment to accept the minister's proposal; and a
long courtship, as things were ordered between them, being needless,
he became again a husband, in a very few days, after the first mention
had been made of it, and at the same time was put in possession of
what was much more welcome to him than his bride, even tho' she had
been endowed with every virtue, every grace.

All for a time went smoothly on:--he saw himself in a rank and
precedence, his birth could never have expected:--his wife's uncle
loaded him with favours; he procured a commission of lieutenant in the
guards for his younger brother by his mother-in-law, whom, in spite of
the ill usage, with which both himself and his father had been treated
by her, he had a very great affection for;--he also got employments
for several others of his kindred;--his house was the rendezvous of
the gay and titled world;--his friendship was courted by all his
acquaintance, and his interest at court created him so many
dependants, that his levee was little inferior to that of the minister
himself.

This full attainment of all he wished, and even more than he had ever
dared to indulge the hope of, might well render him extremely
contented;--he was indeed pleased to excess, but the gladness of his
heart was so far a virtue in him, as it prevented him at first from
shewing any tokens of that pride, which a sudden variation of fortune
frequently excites.

It is certain, his behaviour was such as gained him an equal share of
love and respect; and he had this addition to his other blessings, of
not having his advancement envied; a thing pretty rare about a court,
where there are so many gaping after every office that falls.

They say ambition is a lust that is never quenched; and that the
enjoyment of much brings with it only an impatience for more; that
fresh objects, and new acquisitions, still presenting themselves, the
mind is ever restless, ever anxious in the endless pursuit.--It is
very likely this maxim might indeed have been verified in the mind of
Natura, after the hurry of transport for what he had already obtained
had been a little worn off, and made way for other aims; but he had
scarce given over congratulating himself on his success, before a
strange alteration, and such as he had least dreaded of, happened in
his humour, and rendered him wholly incapable of retaining the least
relish for all the blessings he possessed, and in which he so lately
placed the ultimate of his wishes.

The compliments paid to him on his promotion and marriage, the giving
and receiving visits from all his kindred and friends, together with
the duties of his post, so much engrossed him for the first two or
three months, that he had not time to give any attention to his
domestic affairs, and happy would it have been for his peace if he had
always continued in a total negligence in this point, as the fatal
inspection plunged him into such distractions, as required many long
years to compose.

In fine, he now discovered such dispositions to gallantry in his wife,
as inflamed him with jealousy, to such a degree as it would be
impossible to describe;--not that he had ever been possessed of any
extraordinary love or fondness on her account; but the injury which he
imagined was offered to his honour, by the freedoms with which she
entertained several of those young courtiers which frequented his
house, made him in a short time become the most discontented man
alive.

Utterly impossible was it for him to conceal his disquiets; though the
fears he had of displeasing the minister made him attempt it, as much
as possible, and conscious of his ill dissimulation that way, the
little notice she took of a chagrin he knew she could not but observe,
very much added to it, as it seemed a certain proof of her
indifference for him; a behaviour so widely different from the amiable
tenderness of his former wife, dissipated all the little affection he
had for her, and it was not long before she became even hateful to
him; his jealousy however abated not with his love, her dishonour was
his own, her person was his property by marriage, and the thoughts of
any encroachment on his right were insupportable to him.

Whether she was in fact as yet guilty of those violations of her duty,
which his imagination incessantly suggested to him she was, neither
himself, nor the world, were ever able to prove; but it is certain her
conduct was such, in every shape towards him, as gave but too much
room for suspicion in the least censorious, and which growing every
day more disagreeable to him, he at length had not the power of
feigning an inattention to it.--He remonstrated to her the value every
woman, especially those in high life, ought to set on her
reputation;--told her plainly, that the severest censures had been
past upon her, and without seeming to believe them just himself,
intreated her to act with more reserve for the future.

All this, though delivered in the most gentle terms he could invent,
had no other effect than to set her into an immoderate laughter:
nothing could be more provoking, than the contempt with which she
treated his advice; and on his insisting at last, in terms which she
might think were somewhat too strong, on her being less frequently
seen with some persons he mentioned to her, she answered in the most
disdainful tone, that when she came to his years, she might, perhaps,
look on the pleasures of life with the same eyes he did; but while
youth and good humour lasted, she should deny herself no innocent
indulgencies, and was resolved, let him and the world say what they
would, not to anticipate old age and wrinkles.

As Natura was not yet forty, in perfect health, and consequently not
past the prime of manhood, this reflection cast upon his years, could
not but add to his disgust of her that made it, and he replied with a
spite which was very visible in his countenance, that whatever
disparity there was between their ages, it would soon diminish by the
course of life she followed, and which, if she persisted in, would, in
a very little time, make her become an object below the voice of
censure.

They must know little of the sex, that do not know no affront can be
so stinging as one offered to their beauty, even tho' conscious of
having no great share of it; but the wife of Natura had heard too many
flatteries, not to inspire her with the highest idea of her charms,
which the little respect he now testified to have for them, did not at
all abate, and only served to make her despise his stupidity, as she
termed it.

No measures after this were kept between them; she seemed to take a
pleasure in every thing that gave him pain; she coquetted before his
face with every handsome man that came in her way, and in fine gave
herself such airs as the most patient husband could not have permitted
her long to persist in. Making use of the authority the laws had given
him, he, in a manner, forced her into the country, upwards of an
hundred miles from London, though it was then in the depth of winter,
and placed persons about her, with orders to prevent her from all
means of returning, till he should judge it proper for her so to do.

On this she wrote to her uncle, complaining of the hard treatment she
received, and beseeching him to take some measures to oblige her
husband to restore her liberty. The minister, who had at that time
much greater concerns upon his hands on his own account, did not care
to give himself any trouble about private family affairs; he only just
mentioned to Natura the letter she had sent to him, and the purport of
it; and on his relating to him the reasons that had compelled him to
put this restraint on her behaviour, told him, he should not interfere
between them; so that Natura found he had nothing to apprehend for
what he had done.

Finding this step had produced nothing for her purpose, she at last
condescended to submit to her justly offended husband; and on her
solemn and repeated promises of regulating her conduct for the future
in such a manner as he should approve, he was prevailed upon by her
seeming contrition, to consent to make trial how far her heart
corresponded with her professions:--it was agreed, to prevent the town
from inspecting too deeply on what had passed, that she should pretend
her absence from town had been the effect of her own choice, and for
giving the better colour, he went down himself, and brought her
up.--They lived together, after this, much better than they had done
for some months before their quarrel, and were now, in appearance,
perfectly reconciled; I say, in appearance, for all was outward shew,
neither of them had in their hearts the least true affection, nor
could forgive the other for what had passed between them.

The excessive constraint which both put upon themselves, in order to
conceal the real sentiments of their hearts from each other, as well
as from the world, could not but be extremely painful:--Natura
suffered her as little as possible out of his sight, though he could
have wished a possibility of avoiding her for ever, and was obliged to
do all he could, to make that pass for a fondness of her presence,
which was indeed only the effect of his jealousy of her behaviour in
absence:--she affected to think herself happy in his company, for no
other reason, than to win him to an assurance of her reformation, as
might render him less observant than he had been of what she did, even
at the time (as was afterwards discovered) when she seemed most sorry
and angry with herself for having given him any cause of suspicion
since their marriage.

Both, in fine, endured all that could make marriage dreadful,
especially Natura, who having with his former wife experienced all the
felicity of that state, was the more wretched by the sad alternative;
and as he could not sometimes forbear comparing the present with the
past, fell frequently into perfect convulsions of grief and remorse,
for having plunged himself into it.

A perpetual dissimulation is what human nature finds among the things
which are impossible to perform;--and I am pretty certain, that the
most artful person that ever breathed, could not, at all times, and in
all circumstances, restrain so far his real inclinations, as to give
no indications of them to an observing eye; and it is scarce probable,
but that the very attempt in Natura and his wife, gave rise to as many
reflections on their conduct in this point, as there was too much room
to make on others.

It was indeed a kind of farce acted by this unhappy pair, in which
both played their parts so aukwardly, that the real character would
frequently peep out, and though each dissembled, yet neither was
deceived; but as I said before, this could not last for ever; and the
ice being once broke in some unguarded humour either on the one or the
other side, I cannot pretend to affirm on which, the torrent of their
mutual disgust burst out with the greater force, for having been so
long pent up: it is hard to tell which testified the most virulence,
or expressed themselves in the most bitter terms:--all that can be
determined is, that those of Natura shewed most of _rage_, and those
his wife made use of, most of _hatred_.

After having fully vented all that was in their souls against each
other, both became more calm; and agreed in this, as the only resource
for ease in their present unhappy situation, to banish for the future
all deceit between them, and never more pretend the least kindness or
good-will to each other when in private, to lie in separate beds, and
to be as seldom as possible alone together; but for the sake of both
their reputations to continue in the same house, and before company to
behave with reciprocal politeness.

These terms rid Natura of a great part of that insupportable
constraint he had been under, but gave not the least satisfaction, as
to his jealousy of honour; he doubted not but she would be guilty of
many things, injurious in the highest degree to their public
character, and which yet it would not so well become him to exert his
authority in opposing, and these reflections gave him the most
terrible inquietude; which shews, that though _jealousy_ is called the
child of _love_, it is very possible to feel all the tortures of the
_one_, without being sensible of any of the douceurs of the _other_
passion.

How dearly now did Natura pay for the gratification of his
ambition!--What availed his grandeur, the respect paid him by his
equals, and the homage of the inferior world!--What the pride of
having it in his power to confer favours, when he had himself a heart
torn with the most fierce convulsions, and less capable of enjoying
the goods of fortune, than the most abject of those indigent
creatures, who petitioned for relief from him!--By day, by night,
alone, or in company, he was haunted with ideas the most distracting
to his peace.--A smile on the face of his wife, seemed to him to
proceed from the joy of having made some new conquest; a grave or
melancholly look, from a disappointment on the account of a favourite
gallant: yet as her person was the least thing he was tenacious of,
the behaviour of others gave him greater pain than any thing she could
do herself;--whoever spoke handsomely of her, he imagined insulted
him; and those who mentioned her not at all, he thought were sensible
of her levity, and his misfortune:--every thing he saw or heard,
seemed to him a sad memento of his dishonour; and though he could not
assure himself she had in fact been guilty of a breach of her virtue,
he was very certain she had been so of that reserve and modesty which
is the most distinguishable characteristic of it, and took from him
the power of vindicating her innocence, or his own honour even though
he had believed them safe, as becomes a husband, whose wife is more
cautious of her conduct in this point.

Too delicate of the censure of the world, it gave him the utmost
anxiety how to carry himself, so as not to afford any room to have it
said he was either a jealous, or a too credulous husband; yet in spite
of all his care, he incurred both these characters:--those who had
heard of his sending her into the country, without being acquainted
with the motives for his so doing, looked on him as the former; and
those who saw her manner of behaviour, and the seeming politeness of
his treatment of her, imagined him the latter:--so difficult is it for
any one, who only sees the outside of things, to judge what they are
in reality; yet the vanity of having it believed they are let into
secrets, makes a great many people invent circumstances, and then
relate for matters of fact, what are indeed no more than the
suggestions of imagination, or, what is yet worse, the coinage of
their own brain, without believing themselves what they take upon them
to report to others.

This undoubtedly happened on the score of Natura and his wife, and
occasioned not only many idle stories at tea-table conversation, but
also many oblique hints to be sometimes given to himself, which,
perhaps, there was not the least grounds for, but which greatly added
to his disquiets; as when we think we have reason to believe part, we
are ready to give credit to all we hear, especially in cases of this
nature; it being the peculiar property of jealousy, to force the mind
to grasp with eagerness, at every thing that tends to render it more
afflicted and perplexed.






BOOK the Third.




CHAP. I.

  Shews in what manner anger and revenge operate on the mind, and how
  ambition is capable of stifling both, in a remarkable instance, that
  _private injuries_, how great soever, may seem of no weight, when
  _public grandeur_ requires they should be looked over.


Nothing is so violent as anger in its first emotions, it takes the
faculties by surprize, and rushes upon the soul like an impetuous
torrent, bearing down all before it: its strength, however, is owing
to its suddenness; for being raised by some new and unexpected
accident or provocation, reason has no warning of its approach, and
consequently is off her guard, and without any immediate power of
acting: the sweetest, and most gentle disposition, is not always a
sufficient defence for the mind, against the attacks of this furious
passion, and may be hurried by it to deeds the most opposite to its
own nature; but then as it is fierce, it is transient also; should its
force continue, it would lose its name, and be no longer anger, but
revenge; which, though the worst and most fiend-like propensity of a
vicious inclination, is sometimes excited by circumstances, that seem
in a great measure to alleviate the blackness of it:--repeated and
unprovoked insults, friendship and love abused, injuries in our
person, our fortune, or reputation, will sour the softest temper, and
are apt to make us imagine it is an injustice to our selves, not to
retaliate in kind, the ill treatment we receive. Religion, indeed,
forbids us to take our own parts thus far, and philosophy teaches,
that it is nobler to forgive, than punish wrongs; but every one is not
so happy as to have either of these helps; and I do not find but those
who boast both of them in the most superlative degree, stand in need
of something more, to enable them to restrain this prevailing impulse;
and that it is not so much to the precepts they receive from others,
as to some dictates from within, that many people are indebted for the
reputation of patience and forbearance.

It is the peculiar providence of Heaven, as I took notice in the
beginning of this work, that the more ignoble passions of human
nature, are, generally speaking, opposites, and by that means serve as
a curb to bridle the inordinancy of each other; so that, though _one
alone_ would be pernicious to society, and render the person possessed
of it obnoxious to the world, _many_ will prevent the hurt, and make
the man himself tolerable.

The adventure I am now going to relate, will prove that Natura had the
greatest excitements, and the greatest justification both for wrath
and revenge that could possibly be offered to any one man: yet did
another passion, not more excusable than either of these, suppress all
the turbulent emotions of both, and quench the boiling flames within
his soul, insomuch as to make him appear all calmness and
contentedness.

But though I made use of the word passion to express the now
prevailing propensity of Natura's soul, I do not think that ambition,
strictly speaking, can come under that denomination:--to me it rather
seems the effect of an assemblage of other passions, than a passion
simple of itself, and natural to the mind of man; and I believe,
whoever examines it to the fountain head, will find it takes its
origin from pride and envy, and is nourished by self-love, nor ever
appears in any great degree, where these do not abound.--Were it born
with us, there would doubtless be some indications of it in
childhood, but it is observable, that not till man arrives at
maturity, and even not then, unless the sight of objects above himself
excites it, he discovers the least sensation of any such emotion.--In
fine, it is an inclination rarely known in youth, ordinarily declines
in age, and never exerts itself with vigour, as in the middle stage of
life, which I reckon to be from about five-and-twenty to fifty, or
somewhat more, according to the strength of the natural stamina, or
constitution.--But to go on with my history.

Since Natura had been in what they call a settled state in the world,
it had always been his custom to distinguish the anniversary of that
day which gave him birth, by providing a polite entertainment for his
friends and kindred: he had now attained to his fortieth year, and
though it had been that in which he had known more poignant disquiets,
than in any one of his whole life before; yet thinking that to neglect
the observation of it now, would give occasion for remarks on his
reasons for so doing, he resolved to treat it with the usual ceremony.

It was in that delightful season of the year, when nature, adorned
with all her charms, invites the senses to taste that regale in the
open air, which the most elegant and best concerted entertainments
within doors cannot atone for the want of. After dinner was over, the
whole company which was pretty numerous, adjourned from the table to
the garden, a small, but well ordered spot of ground, at the lower end
of which was a green-house, furnished with many curious exotic plants.
While Natura was shewing this collection to those of his guests, who
had a taste that way, others were diverting themselves with walking in
the alleys, or set down in arbors, according as their different
fancies inclined, as it is common for people to divide themselves into
little parties, when there are too many for all to share in a general
conversation.

As they were thus employed, the minister, who though he had not
thought it beneath the dignity of his character to do honour to the
birth-day of the husband of his neice, yet had his mind taken up with
other things than the amusements of the place, took Natura aside on a
sudden, and asked him if he had not a paper in his custody, which he
had some time before put into his hands; to which the other answering
in the affirmative, 'There are some things in it I do not well
remember,' said the great man; 'and a thought just now occurs to me,
in which they may be of use':--Natura then offered to fetch it; 'No,'
replied the other, 'I will go with you, and we will examine it
together.'

There was no need of making any apology to the company, they being, as
I have already said, dispersed in several parts of the garden; but had
they not been so, the statesman was absolute master wherever he came,
and no one would have taken umbrage at Natura's following him.

They went hastily up stairs together, and the door of a room, thro'
which they were to pass to Natura's study, being shut, he gave a push
against it with his foot, and it being but slightly fastened,
immediately flew open, and discovered a sight no less unexpected than
shocking to both;--the wife, and own brother of Natura, on a couch,
and in a posture which could leave no room to doubt of the motive
which had induced them to take the opportunity of the company
separating themselves, to retire, without being missed, which, but for
this accident, they probably would not have been.

It is easy to conceive what a husband must feel in so alarming a
circumstance, nor will any one wonder that Natura behaved in the
manner he did, in the first emotions of a rage, which might very well
be justified by the cause that excited it.--Not having a sword on, he
flew to the chimney, on each side of which hung a pistol; he snatched
one off the hook, and was going to revenge the injury he had received
on one or both the guilty persons, when the minister, stepping
between, beat down that arm which held the instrument of death, crying
at the same time, 'What, are you a madman!--would you to punish them
expose yourself!'--The passion with which Natura was overwhelmed was
too mighty for his breast; it stopped the passage of his words, and
all he could bring out was 'villain!'--'whore'--while those he called
so, made their escape from his fury, by running out of the room. In
attempting to follow them he was still with-held; and the minister
having with much ado got the pistol from him, began to expostulate
with him, in order to disarm his mind from pursuing any future
revenge, as he had done his hand from executing the present.

'Consider,' said the statesman, 'that these are but slips of nature,
that there are in this town a thousand husbands in the same
situation:--indeed the affair happening with your own brother, very
much enhances the crime and the provocation; but as the thing is done,
and there is no remedy, it will but add to your disgrace to make it
public.'

Little would it have been in the power of all the arguments in the
world, if made use of by any other person, to have given a check to
that just indignation Natura was inflamed with: but as patience and
moderation were prescribed him by one to whom he was indebted for all
the grandeur he enjoyed, and by whose favour alone he could hope for
the continuance, of it, he submitted to the task, difficult as it was,
and consented to make no noise of the affair. The minister assured him
he would oblige his brother to exchange the commission he was at
present possessed of, for one in a regiment that was going to
Gibraltar, 'which,' said he, 'will be a sufficient punishment for his
crime, and at the same time rid you of the sight of a person who
cannot but be now detestable to you;--as to your wife, I expect you
will permit her to continue in your house, in consideration of her
relation to me, but shall not interfere with the manner of your living
together;--that shall be at your own discretion.'

As neither of them imagined the lady, after what had happened, would
have courage enough to go down to the company, it was agreed between
them to make her excuse, by saying, a sudden disorder in her head had
obliged her to absent herself.

Natura cleared up his brow as much as it was possible for him to do in
such a circumstance, and returned with the minister to his guests,
among whom, as he supposed, he found neither his wife nor brother; as
for the latter, much notice was not taken of his absence, but the
ladies, by this time, were full of enquiries after her; on which he
immediately made the pretence above-mentioned; but unluckily, one of
the company having been bred to physic, urged permission to see her,
in order to prescribe some recipe for her ailment.--Natura was now
extremely at a loss what to do, till the minister, who never wanted an
expedient, relieved him, by telling the doctor, that his neice had
been accustomed to these kind of fits from her infancy, that it was
only silence and repose which recovered her, which being now gone to
take, any interruption would be of more prejudice than benefit.

This passed very well, and no farther mention was made of her; but the
accident occasioned the company to take leave much sooner than
otherwise they would have done, very much to the ease of Natura, who
had been in the most intolerable constraint, to behave so as to
conceal the truth, and longed to be alone, to give a loose to the
distracting passions of his soul.

The more he ruminated on the wrongs he had sustained, the more
difficult he found it to preserve that moderation the minister had
enjoined, and he had promised: he had long but too much reason to
believe his wife was false; but the thought that she had entered into
a criminal conversation with his own brother, rendered the guilt
doubly odious in them both.--Had not his own eyes convinced him of the
horrid truth, he could have given credit to no other testimony, that a
brother, whom he had always treated with the utmost affection, and
whose fortune it had been his care to promote, should have dared to
harbour even the most distant wish of dishonouring his wife. He
seemed, in his eyes, the most culpable of the two, and thought the
banishment intended for him much too small a punishment for so
atrocious a crime. It is certain that this young gentleman had not
only broke through the bands of duty, honour, gratitude, and every
social obligation, but had also sinned against nature itself, by
adding incest to adultery.--Natura could not indeed consider him as
any thing but a monster, and that as such he ought to be cut off from
the face of the earth; and neither reason nor humanity, could alledge
any thing against the dictates of a revenge, which by the most
unconcerned and disinterested person could not be called
unjust.--Strongly did its emotions work within his soul, and he was
more than once on the point of going in search of him, in order to
satiate its most impatient thirst, but was as often restrained, by
reflecting on the consequences.--'Suppose,' said he to himself, 'I
should escape that death the law inflicts for murder, in consideration
of the provocation, I cannot hope to preserve my employments.--I must
retire from the world, live an obscure life the whole remainder of my
days, and the whole shameful adventure being divulged, will render me
the common topic of table conversation, and entail dishonour and
contempt upon my son.'

Thus did ambition get the better of resentment;--thus did the love of
grandeur extirpate all regard of true honour, and the shame of private
contempt from the world lie stifled in the pride of public homage.

The minister in the mean time kept his word; he let the offending
brother know it was his pleasure he should dispose of his commission
in the guards, and purchase one in a regiment he named to him, which
was very speedily to embark for Gibraltar: the young gentleman obeyed
the injunction, and doubtless was not sorry to quit a place, where
some accident or other, in spite of all the care he had resolved to
take, might possibly bring him to the sight of a brother he had so
greatly injured, the thoughts of whose just reproaches were more
terrible to him, than any thing else that could befal him.

The wife of Natura being also privately admonished by her uncle how to
behave, kept her chamber for some days, not only to give the better
colour to the pretence had been made of her indisposition, but also to
avoid the presence of her husband, till the first emotions of his fury
should be a little abated;--he, on the other hand, profited by this
absence, to bring himself to a resolution how to behave, when the
shock of seeing her should arrive:--as her crime was past recal,
reproaches and remonstrances would be in vain to retrieve her honour,
or his peace; and if they even should work her into penitence, what
would it avail? unless to soften him into a pity, which would only
serve to render him more uneasy, as there was now no possibility of
living with her as a wife.--Having, therefore, well weighed and
considered all these things, it seemed best to him to say nothing to
her of what had happened, and indeed to avoid speaking to her at all,
except in public.

What she thought of a behaviour she had so little reason to expect,
and what effect it produced on her future conduct, shall hereafter be
related: I shall only say at present, that Natura gave himself no pain
to consider what might be her sentiments on the occasion, as long as
he found her uncle was perfectly satisfied with his manner of acting
in this point, which he had no reason to doubt of, not only by the
assurances he gave him in words of his being so, but by a more
convincing and substantial proof, which was this; an envoy
extraordinary being about to be sent to a foreign court, on a very
important negociation, he had the honour of being recommended, as a
gentleman every way qualified for the duties of that post.--The
minister's choice of him was approved by the king and council, and he
set out on his embassy, with an equipage and state, which, joined to
the attention he gave to what he was employed in, greatly dissipated
the chagrin of his private affairs, and he seemed to have forgot, for
a time, not only the injuries he had received, but also even the
persons from whom he had received them.




CHAP. II.

  Shews at what age men are most liable to the passion of grief: the
  impatience of human nature under affliction, and the necessity there
  is of exerting reason, to restrain the excesses it would otherwise
  occasion.


There are certain periods of time, in which the passions take the
deepest root within us; what at one age makes but a slight impression,
and is easily dissipated by different ideas, at another engrosses all
the faculties, and becomes so much a part of the soul, as to require
the utmost exertion of reason, and all the aids of philosophy and
religion to eradicate.--Grief, for example, is one of those passions
which, in extreme youth, we know little of, and even when we grow
nearer to maturity, has rarely any great dominion, let the cause which
excites it be never so interesting, or justifiable: it may indeed be
poignant for a time, and drive us to all the excesses imputed to that
passion; but then it is of short continuance, it dwells not on the
mind, and the least appearance of a new object of satisfaction,
banishes it entirely; we dry our tears, and remember no more what so
lately we lamented, perhaps with the most noisy exclamations:--but it
is not so when riper years give a solidity and firmness to the
judgment;--then as we are less apt to grieve without a cause, so we
are less able to refrain from grieving, when we have a real
cause.--Grief may therefore be called a reasonable passion, tho' it
becomes not a reasonable man to give way to it;--this, at first sight,
may seem a paradox to many people, but may easily be solved, in my
opinion, on a very little consideration;--as thus,--because to be
sensible of our loss in the value of the thing for which we mourn, is
a proof of our judgment, as to refrain that mourning for what is past
retrieving, within the bounds of moderation, is the greatest proof we
can give of our reason:--a dull insensibility is not a testimony,
either of wisdom or virtue; we are not to bear afflictions like
_statues_, but like men; that is, we are allowed to _feel_, but not to
_repine_, or be _impatient_ under them:--few there are, however, who
have the power of preserving this happy medium, as I before observed,
tho' they are such as have the assistance both of precept and
experience.

In a word, all that can be expected from the best of men, when pressed
with any heavy calamity, is to struggle with all his might to bear up
beneath the weight with decency and resignation; and as grief never
seizes strongly on the mind, till a sufficient number of years gives
reason strength to combat with it, that consideration furnishes matter
for praise and adoration of the all-wise and all-beneficent Author of
our being, who has bestowed on us a certain comfort for all ills, if
we neglect not to make use of it; so that no man can be unhappy,
unless he will be so.

Motives for grief which happen on a sudden merit excuse for the
extravagancies they sometimes occasion, because they surprize us
unawares, reason is off her guard, and it cannot be expected we should
be armed against what we had no apprehensions of;--presence of mind is
an excellent, but rare quality, and we shall see very few, even among
the wisest men, who are such examples of it, as to behave in the first
shock of some unforeseen misfortune, with the same moderation and
calmness of temper, as they would have done, had they had previous
warning of what was to befal them.

Much, however, are the effects of this, as of all other passions,
owing to constitution:--the robust and sanguine nature soon kindles,
and is soon extinguished; whereas the phlegmatic is slow to be moved,
and when so not easily settled into a calm: and tho' the difference of
age makes a wide difference in our way of thinking, yet as there are
old men at twenty, and boys at three-score, that rule is not without
some exceptions. But to take nature in the general, and allowing for
the different habits of body and complexion, we may be truly said to
be most prone to particular passions at particular ages:--as in youth,
love, hope, and joy;--in maturity, ambition, pride, and its attendant
ostentation;--when more advanced in years, grief, fear, and
despair;--and in old age, avarice, and a kind of very churlish dislike
of every thing presented to us.

But to return to Natura, from whose adventures I have digressed; but I
hope forgiveness for it, as it was not only the history of the man I
took upon me to relate, but also to point out, in his example, the
various progress of the passions in a human mind.

He acquitted himself of the important trust had been reposed in him,
with all the diligence and discretion could be expected from him; and
returned honoured with many rich presents from the prince to whom he
had been sent, as a testimony of the sense he had of his abilities.

But scarce had he time to receive the felicitations of his friends on
this score, before an accident happened to him, which demanded a much
more than equal share of condolance from them.--His son, his only son,
the darling of his heart, was seized with a distemper in his head,
which in a very few days baffled the art of medicine, and snatched
him from the world.--What now availed his honours, his wealth, his
every requisite for grandeur, or for pleasure?--He, for whose sake
chiefly he had laboured to acquire them, was no more!--no second self
remained to enjoy what he must one day leave behind him.--All of him
was now collected in his own being, and with _that_ being must
end.--Melancholly reflection!--yet not the worst that this unhappy
incident inflicted:--his estate, all at least that had descended to
him by inheritance, with the vast improvements he had made on it, must
now devolve on a brother he had so much cause to hate, and whose very
name but mentioned struck horror to his heart.

The motives for his grief were great, it must be allowed, and such as
demanded the utmost fortitude to sustain;--he certainly exerted all he
was master of on this occasion; but, in spite of his efforts, nature
got the upper hand, and rendered him inconsolable:--he burst not into
any violent exclamations, but the silent sorrow preyed on his vitals,
and reduced him, in a short time, almost to the shadow of what he had
been.

One of the most dangerous effects of melancholy is, the gloomy
pleasure it gives to every thing that serves to indulge it:--darkness
and solitude are its delight and nourishment, and the person possessed
of it, naturally shuns and hates whatever might alleviate it;--the
sight of his best friends now became irksome to him;--he not only
loathed, but grew incapable of all business;--he shut himself in his
closet, shunned conversation, was scarce prevailed on to take the
necessary supports of nature, and seemed as if his soul was buried in
the tomb of his son, and only a kind of vegetative life remained
within him.

His sister, who loved him very affectionately, and for whom he had
always preserved the tenderest amity, being informed of his
disconsolate condition, came to town, flattering herself with being
able to dissipate, at least some part of his chagrin. To this end she
brought with her all her children, some of whom he had never seen, and
had frequently expressed by letter, the desire he had of embracing
them, and the regret he had that the great affairs he was always
constantly engaged in, would not permit him time to take a journey
into the country where she lived.

But how greatly did she deceive herself;--he was too far sunk in the
lethargy of grief, to be roused out of it by all her kind
endeavours;--on the contrary, the sight of those near and dear
relatives she presented to him only added to his affliction, by
reminding him in a more lively manner of his own loss; and the sad
effect she found their presence had on him, obliged her to remove them
immediately from his eyes.

She could not, however, think of quitting him in a state so truly
deplorable, and so unbecoming of his circumstances and character:--she
remained in his house, would pursue him wherever he retired, and as
she was a woman of excellent sense, as well as good-nature, invented a
thousand little stratagems to divert his thoughts from the melancholly
theme which had too much engrossed them, but had not the satisfaction
to perceive that any thing she could say or do, occasioned the least
movement of that fixed sullenness, which, by a long habit, appeared
like a second nature in him.

This poor lady found also other matters of surprize and discontent, on
her staying in town, besides the sad situation of her brother's
health:--as she had never been informed of the disunion between him
and his wife, much less of the occasion of it, the behaviour of that
lady filled her with the utmost astonishment:--to perceive she took no
pains to alleviate his sorrows, never came into the room where he was,
or even sent her woman with those common compliments, which he
received from all who had the least acquaintance with him, would have
afforded sufficient occasion for the speculation of a sister; yet was
this manifest disregard, this failure in all the duties of a wife, a
friend, a neighbour, little worthy of consideration, when put in
comparison with her conduct in other points.

After the adventure of her detection, finding the minister was
resolved to support her, and that her husband durst not come to any
open breach with her, she immediately began to throw aside all regard
for decorum;--she seemed utterly to despise all sense of shame, and
even to glory in a life of continual dissolution;--the company she
kept of both sexes, were, for the most part, persons of abandoned
characters: whether she indulged herself in a plurality of amours, is
uncertain, though it was said she did so; but there was one man to
whom she was most particularly attached;--this was a person who had
formerly enjoyed a post under the government, but was turned out on
the score of misbehaviour, and had now no other support than what he
received from her:--with him she frequently passed whole nights, and
took so little care in concealing the place of their meeting, that the
sister of Natura easily found it out.

On relating the discovery she had made to some of their relations,
they advised her to tell her brother, imagining this glaring insult on
his honour would effectually rouse him out of the stupidity he
languished under:--she was of the same opinion, and took the first
opportunity of letting Natura into the whole infamous affair, not
without some apprehensions, that an excess of rage on hearing it,
might hurry him into a contrary extreme; but her terrors on this head
were presently dissipated, when having repeated many circumstances to
corroborate the truth of what she said, there appeared not the least
emotion in his countenance; and on her urging him to take some
measures to do himself justice, or at least to put a stop to this
licentiousness of a person whose dishonour was his own; all she could
get from him was, that he had neither regard enough for her to take
any pains for the reclaiming her, nor for the censure of the world on
himself, and desired she would not trouble him any farther on this
point.

This strange insensibility afforded cause to fear his faculties were
all too deeply absorbed in melancholy, for him ever to become a man of
the world again, and as she truly loved him, gave both her, and all
his other friends, an infinite concern.




CHAP. III.

  The struggles which different passions occasion in the human breast,
  are here exemplified; and that there is no one among them so strong,
  but may be extirpated by another, excepting _revenge_, which knows
  no period, but by gratification.


Though it must be acknowledged, that the passions, generally speaking,
operate according to the constitution, and seem, in a manner, wholly
directed by it, yet there is one, above all, which actuates alike in
all, and when once entertained, is scarce ever extinguished:--it may
indeed lie dormant, for a time, but then it easily revives on the
least occasion, and blazes out with greater violence than ever. I
believe every one will understand I mean _revenge_, since there is no
other emotion of the soul, but has its antedote: _grief_ and _joy_
alternately succeed each other;--_hope_ has its period in
possession;--_fear_ ceases, either by the cause being removed, or by a
fatal certainty of some dreaded evil;--_ambition_ dies within us, on a
just sense of the folly of pursuing it;--_hate_ is often vanquished by
good offices;--even greedy _avarice_ may be glutted; and _love_ is,
for the most part, fluctuating, and may be terminated by a thousand
accidents.--_Revenge_ alone is implacable and eternal, not to be
banished by any other passion whatsoever;--the effects of it are the
same, invariable in every constitution; and whether the man be
phlegmatic or sanguine, there will be no difference in his way of
thinking in this point. The principles of religion and morality indeed
may, and frequently do, hinder a man from putting into action what
this cruel passion suggests, but neither of them can restrain him who
has revenge in his heart, from wishing it were lawful for him to
indulge it.

This being so fixed a passion, it hardly ever gains entrance on the
mind, till a sufficient number of years have given a solidity to the
thoughts, and made us know for what we wish, and why we wish.--Every
one, however, does not experience its force, and happy may those be
accounted who are free from it, since it is not only the most
unjustifiable and dangerous, but also the most restless and
self-tormenting emotion of the soul.

There are, notwithstanding, some kind of provocations, which it is
scarce possible, nor indeed consistent with the justice we owe to
ourselves, to bury wholly in oblivion; and likewise there are some
kinds of revenge, which may deserve to be excused; of these, that
which Natura put in practice, as shall presently be shewn, may be
reckoned of the number.

I doubt not, but my readers, as well as all those who were acquainted
with him at that time, will believe, that in the situation I have
described, he was for ever lost to the sense of any other passion,
than that which so powerfully engrossed him, and from which all the
endeavours hitherto made use of, had been ineffectual to rouse him.
But it often happens, that what we least expect, comes most suddenly
upon us, and proves that all human efforts are in vain, without the
interposition of some supernatural power.

I have already said, that the bad conduct of his wife had been
repeated over and over to him without his discovering the least
emotion at it; yet would not his sister cease urging him to resent it
as became a man sensible of his dishonour, that is, to rid himself, by
such ways as the law puts it in the power of a husband so injured, to
get rid of her; and imagining that an ocular demonstration of her
crime, would make a greater impression on him, than any report could
do, she set about contriving some way to bring him where his own eyes
might convince him of the truth of what he had been so often
told:--but how to prevail on him to go out of his house, which he had
not now seen the outside of for some months, was a difficulty not
easily surmounted:--the obstinacy of grief disappointed all the little
plots they laid for their purpose, and they were beginning to give
over all thoughts of any future attempts, when chance accomplished the
so-much desired work.

He had ordered a monument to be erected over the grave of his beloved
son; which, being finished, and he told that it was so, 'I will see,'
said he, 'if it be done according to my directions.' Two or three of
his kindred were present when he took this resolution, and one of them
immediately recollecting, how they might make it of advantage to their
design, said many things in praise of the structure; but added, that
the scaffolding and rubbish the workmen had left, not being yet
removed, he would have him defer seeing it, till it was cleaned. To
this he having readily agreed, spies were placed, to observe the time
and place, where the lady and her favourite lover had the next
rendezvous. As neither of them had any great caution in their amour, a
full account was soon brought to the sister of Natura, who, with
several of their relations, came into his chamber, and told him that
the tomb was now fit to be seen in all its beauty.

On this he presently suffered himself to be dressed, and went with
them; but they managed so well that, under pretence of calling on
another friend, who, they said, had desired to be of their company in
this melancholly entertainment, they led him to the house where his
wife and enamorato were yet in bed. The sister of Natura having, by a
large bribe, secured the woman of the house to her interest, they were
all conducted to the very scene of guilt, and this much injured
husband had a second testimony of the perfidy of his wife; but alas!
the first had made too deep an impression on him to leave room for any
great surprize; he only cooly turned away, and said to those who had
brought him there, that they needed not have taken all this pains to
make him a witness of what he was convinced of long before.

His wife, however, was frighted, if not ashamed, and hid herself under
the bedcloaths, while her gallant jumped, naked as he was, out of the
window; but though Natura discovered very little emotion at all this,
yet whether it was owing to the arguments of his friends, or that the
air, after having been so long shut up from it, had an effect on him,
they could not determine, but had the satisfaction to find that he
consented an action in his name should be awarded against the lover,
and proper means used for obtaining a bill of divorce from his wife.

The real motive of this change in him none of them, however, could
penetrate:--grief had for a while obliterated the thoughts of the
injustice and ingratitude of his brother, but what he had now beheld
reminding him of that shocking scene related in the first chapter of
this book, all his long stifled wishes for revenge returned with
greater force than ever; and thinking he could no way so fully gratify
them, as by disappointing him of the estate he must enjoy at his
decease, in case he died without issue, a divorce therefore would give
him liberty to marry again; and as he was no more than three-and-forty
years of age, had no reason to despair of having an heir, to cut
entirely off the claim of so wicked a brother. Having once began to
stir in the affair, it was soon brought to a conclusion.--The fact was
incontestable, and proved by witnesses, whose credit left no room for
cavil; a bill of divorce was granted on very easy terms, and the
gallant fined in so large a penalty, that he was obliged to quit the
kingdom, to avoid imprisonment for life.

Thus did revenge produce an effect, which neither the precepts of
religion, philosophy, or morality, joined with the most tender and
pressing remonstrances of his nearest and dearest friends, could ever
have brought about;--and this instance, in my judgment, proves to a
demonstration, that it is so ordered by the all-wise Creator, that all
the pernicious passions are at continual enmity, and, like
counter-poisons, destroy the force of each other: and tho' it is
certain, a man may be possessed of many passions at once, and those
also may be of different natures, and tend to different aims, yet will
there be a struggle, as it were, between them in the breast, and which
ever happens to get predominance, will drive out the others in time,
and reign alone sole master of the mind.




CHAP. IV.

  Contains a further definition of _revenge_, its force, effects, and
  the chasm it leaves on the mind when once it ceases. The tranquility
  of being entirely devoid of all passions; and the impossibility for
  the soul to remain in that state of inactivity is also shewn; with
  some remarks on human nature in general, when left to itself.


I have already shewn, in the example of Natura, how not only
resentment for injuries, but even the extremest and most justifiable
_rage_, may be subjected to _ambition_, and afterwards how that
_ambition_ may be quelled and totally extinguished by _grief_; and
also that _grief_ itself, how violent soever it appears, may subside
at the emotions of _revenge_.--This last and worst passion alone finds
nothing capable of overcoming it, while the object remains in being.
It is true, that we frequently in the hurry of resentment, threaten,
and sometimes act every thing in our power, against the person who has
offended us, yet on his submission and appearing sorry for what he has
done, we not only forgive, but also forget all has past, and no longer
bear him the least ill will; but then, this passion, by which we have
been actuated, is not properly _revenge_, but _anger_, of which I have
already sufficiently spoke, and, I flatter myself, proved how wide the
difference is between these two emotions.

Natura had no sooner taken it into his head to revenge himself in the
manner above related, on his transgressing brother, than he resumed
great part of his former chearfulness, conversed again in the world as
he had been accustomed; nor, though he perceived his interest with the
minister fall off ever since he had been divorced from his neice, and
easily foresaw, that he would, from his friend, become in time his
greatest enemy, yet it gave him little or no concern, so wholly were
his thoughts and desires taken up with accomplishing what he had
resolved.

He was, however, for some time deliberating within himself to whom he
should direct his addresses on this score; the general acquaintance he
had in the world, brought many ladies into his mind, who seemed
suitable matches for him; but then, as they were of equal birth and
fortunes with himself, he reflected, that a long formal courtship
would be expected, and he was now grown too indolent to take that
trouble, as he was not excited by inclination to any of them, and had
determined to enter a third time into the bonds of matrimony, meerly
through the hope of depriving his brother of the estate.

Besides, the accidents which had lately happened to him, had very much
altered his way of thinking, and though he had shaken off great part
of the chagrin they had occasioned, yet there still remained a certain
languor and inactivity of mind, which destroyed all the relish he
formerly had of the noisy pleasures of life:--he began now to despise
that farce of grandeur he once testified so high a value for, and to
look on things as they really deserved;--he found his interest with
those at the helm of public affairs, was very much sunk, and he was so
far from taking any steps to retrieve it, that he seldom went even to
pay that court to them, which his station demanded from him;--he grew
so weary of the post which he had, with the utmost eagerness, sought
after, and thought himself happy in enjoying, that he never rested
till he had disposed of it, which he did for a much less consideration
than it was really worth, meerly because he would be in a state of
perfect independency, and at full liberty to speak and act, according
to the dictates of his conscience, or his inclination.

He was no sooner eased of his attendance at court by this means, than
he retired to his country seat, in which he now thought he found more
satisfaction, than the town, with all its hurrying pleasures could
afford; there he intended to pass the greatest part of the remainder
of his days, with some woman of prudence and good nature, which were
the two chief requisites he now wished to find in a wife.--There were
several well-jointured widows in the county where he resided, and also
young ladies of family and fortune, but he never made the least
overtures to any of them, and behaved with that indifference to the
sex, that it was the opinion of all who conversed with him, that he
never designed to marry again, when at the same time, he thought of
nothing more than to find a partner in that state, such as promised to
prove what he desired.

To this end he watched attentively the behaviour of all those he came
in company with, and as he was master of a good deal of penetration,
and also no small experience in the sex, and besides was not suspected
to have any views that way, it is certain he had a good chance not to
be deceived.

It was not among the fine ladies, the celebrated beauties, nor the
great fortunes, he sought himself a wife; but among those of a
middling rank; he only wished to have one who might bring him
children, and be addicted to no vice, or caprice, that should either
scandalize him abroad, or render him uneasy at home, and in all his
inspection, he found none who seemed so likely to answer his desires
in every respect as a young maid called Laetitia; she was the daughter
of a neighbouring yeoman, not disagreeable in her person, or
behaviour, yet possessed of no accomplishments, but those which nature
had bestowed: her father was an honest plain man, he had four sons and
two daughters, who had been married some time, and had several
children; Laetitia was his youngest, and promised to be no less
fruitful than her sisters; and this last was the chief inducement
which made Natura fix his choice upon her.

Having resolved to seek no farther, he frequently went to the old
man's house, pretending he took delight in country affairs, would walk
with him about his grounds, and into his barns, and see the men who
were at work in them. One day he took an opportunity of going when he
knew he was abroad, designing to break his mind to the young Laetitia,
who, being her father's housekeeper, he did not doubt finding at home:
accordingly she was so; and, after some previous discourse, a little
boy of one of her sisters, being playing about the room, 'This it a
fine child,' said he; 'when do you design to marry, pretty Mrs.
Laetitia?'--'Should you not like to be a mother of such diverting
little pratlers?'--'It is time enough, sir,' replied she modestly,
'for me to think of any such thing.'--'If you get a good husband,'
resumed he, 'it cannot be too soon':--'Nor, if a bad one, too late,'
cried she, 'as there are great odds on that side.'--'That is true,'
said he, 'but I believe there are many ill husbands, who owe their
being such, to the ill conduct of their wives':--'now I fancy,'
continued he, 'whoever is so happy as to have you, will have no such
excuse; for I firmly believe you have in you all the requisites to
make the marriage state agreeable.' To this she only made a curtesy,
and thanked him for his good opinion: 'I do assure you,' resumed he,
'it is so sincere, that I should be glad to prove it, by making you my
wife. What say you,' pursued he, 'could you be willing to accept of my
addresses on that score?' With these words he took hold of her hand,
and pressing it with a great deal of warmth, occasioned her to blush
excessively.--The inability she was in of speaking, through the shame
this question had excited in her, gave him an opportunity of
prosecuting what he had begun, and saying many tender things, to
convince her he was in earnest; but when at last she gave him an
answer, it was only such as made him see she gave little credit to his
professions.--Some people coming in on business to her father, and
saying they would wait till he came home, obliged Natura to take his
leave for that time, well satisfied in his mind, that he had declared
himself, and not much doubting, but that in spite of this first
shyness, she would easily be prevailed upon to correspond with his
desires, when his perseverance in them, should have assured her of
their sincerity.

He was, notwithstanding, a good deal surprized, when, going several
times after to the house, he could scarce see her, and never be able
to exchange a word with her in private, so industriously did she avoid
coming into his presence.--Such a behaviour, he thought, could proceed
only from one of these two motives, either thro' an extraordinary
dislike to his person, or through the fears of giving any indulgence
to an inclination, which the disparity between them might make her
mistake for a dishonourable one. Sometimes he was tempted to think the
one, sometimes the other; but not being of a humour to endure
suspense, he resolved to take effectual measures for coming at the
certainty.

He went one day about noon, and told the yeoman he was come to take a
dinner with him, on which the other replied, that he did him a great
deal of honour; but should have been glad to have been previously
acquainted with it, in order to have been prepared to receive a
gentleman of his condition.--'No,' said Natura, 'I chose to come upon
you unawares, not only to prevent you from giving yourself any
superfluous trouble on my account, but also because I would use a
freedom, which should authorize you to treat me with the same;--we are
neighbours,' continued he, 'and neighbours should be friends, and love
one another.'

Some other little chat on trivial affairs passed away the short time
between the coming of Natura, and dinner being brought in; on which,
the yeoman intreated him to sit down, and partake of such homely food
as he found there.--'That I shall gladly do,' answered Natura, 'but I
waited for your fair daughter; I hope we shall have her company. I do
not know,' said the yeoman, 'I think they told me she was not very
well, had got the head-ach, or some such ailment;--go, however,'
pursued he, to a servant, 'and see if Laetitia can come down.'--'But,
sir,' cried he, perceiving his guest discovered no inclination to
place himself at the table, 'do not let us wait for her.'

Natura on this sat down, and they both began to eat, when the person
who had been sent to call Laetitia returned, and said, she begged to be
excused, being very much indisposed, and unfit to be seen.--The old
man seemed to take no notice, but pressed Natura to eat, and somewhat
embarrassed him with the many apologies he made for the coarseness of
his entertainment; to all which he gave but short answers, till the
cloth was taken away, and they were alone.--Then, 'I could not wish to
dine more to my satisfaction,' said he, 'if the sweetness of your meat
had not been imbittered by your daughter's absence';--'to be plain,'
continued he, 'I fear I am the disease which occasions her
retirement.'--'You, sir!' cried the father, affecting a surprize,
which he was not so well skilled in the art of dissimulation, to make
appear so natural, but that Natura easily saw into the feint, and told
him with a smile, that he found the _country_ had its arts as well as
the _court:_--'but let us deal sincerely with each other,' pursued he,
'I am very certain, it is from no other motive, than my being here,
that your daughter refused to come to table; and I also faithfully
believe you are no stranger to that motive:--be therefore free with
me; and to encourage you to be so, I shall acquaint you, that I have
made some overtures to Mrs. Laetitia,--that I like her, and that my
frequent visits to you have been entirely on her account:--now, be as
sincere with me, and let me know, whether the offers I made her will
be approved.'

The yeoman was a little dashed on Natura's speaking in this manner,
and was some moments before he could recollect himself sufficiently to
make any reply; and, when at last he had, all he could bring out was,
'Sir, my girl is honest, and I hope will always continue so.'

'I am far from doubting her virtue in the least,' answered Natura
hastily, 'but I think I cannot give a greater testimony of the good
opinion I have of her, than by offering to make her my wife.'--'Ah,
sir,' cried the yeoman, interrupting him, 'you must excuse me, if I
cannot flatter myself you have any thoughts of doing us that
honour.--I am a mean man, of no parentage, and it is well known have
brought up a large family by the sweat of my brow.'--'Laetitia is a
poor country maid;--it is true, the girl is well enough, but has
nothing,--nothing at all, alas! in her to balance for that vast
disparity of birth and fortune between you.'

'Talk no more of that,' said Natura, taking him by the hand, 'such as
she is, I like her; and I once more assure you, that I never had any
dishonourable intentions on her, but am ready to prove the contrary,
by marrying her, as soon as she approves of me, and you agree to it.'

The old man looked very earnestly on him all the while he was
speaking, and knew not well whether he ought to give credit to what he
said, or not,--Natura, perceiving his diffidence, continued, by
sparing neither arguments, nor the most solemn imprecations, to remove
it, till he was at last assured of a good fortune, which, as he said,
he had thought too extraordinary to happen in his family. He then told
Natura he would acquaint his daughter with the happiness he intended
for her, and dispose her to receive it with that respect and gratitude
that became her. On which Natura took his leave till the next day,
when he found Laetitia did not make any excuse to avoid his presence,
as she had lately done.--He addressed himself to her not in the same
manner he would have done to a woman of condition, but yet in very
tender and affectionate terms:--her behaviour to him was humble,
modest, and obliging; and though she was not mistress of the politest
expressions, yet what she said discovered she wanted not a fund of
good sense and understanding, which, if cultivated by education, would
have appeared very bright. He easily perceived, she took a great deal
of pains to disguise the joy she conceived at this prospect of raising
her fortune, but was too little accustomed to dissimulation, to do it
effectually, and both the one and the other gave him much
satisfaction.

Circumstances being in the manner I related, it is not natural to
suppose any long sollicitation was required.--Laetitia affected not an
indifference she was free from, and Natura pressing for the speedy
consummation of his wishes, a day was appointed for the celebration of
the nuptials, and both the intended bride and bridegroom set
themselves about making the necessary preparations usual in such
cases.

But see, how capable are our finest resolutions of being shaken by
accidents!--the most assured of men may be compared to the leaf of a
tree, which veers with every blast of wind, and is never long in one
position.--Had any one told Natura he had taken all this pains for
nothing, and that he would be more anxious to get off his promise of
marrying Laetitia, than ever he had been to engage one from her for
that purpose; he would have thought himself highly injured, and that
the person who said this of him was utterly a stranger to his
sentiments or character; yet so it happened, and the poor Letitia
found all her hopes of grandeur vanish into air, when they seemed just
on the point of being accomplished.--The occasion of this strange and
sudden transition was as follows:

Two days before that prefixed for his marriage, Natura received a
packet from Gibralter, which brought him an account of the death of
his brother.--That unfortunate young gentleman, being convinced by his
sufferings, and perhaps too by his own remorse, and stings of
conscience of the foulness of the crime he had been guilty of, fell
into a languishing disorder, soon after his arrival in that country,
which left those about him no expectations of his ever getting the
better of.--Finding his dissolution near, he wrote a letter to Natura,
full of contrition, and intreaties for forgiveness. This epistle
accompanied that which related his death, and both together plunged
Natura into very melancholly thoughts.--The offence his brother had
been guilty of, was indeed great; but, when he remembered that he had
repented, and was now no more, all resentment, all revenge, against
him ceased with his existence, and a tender pity supplied their
place:--what, while _living_, he never would have forgave, when _dead_
lost great part of its atrocity, and he bewailed the fate of the
transgressor, with unfeigned tears and lamentations.

This event putting an end to the motive which had induced Natura to
think of marriage, put an end also to his desires that way;--he was
sorry he had gone so far with Laetitia, was loth to appear a deceiver
in her eyes, or in those of her father; but thought it would be the
extremest madness in him to prosecute his intent, as his beloved
sister had a son, who would now be his heir, and only had desired to
be the father of one himself to hinder _him_ from being so, whose
crimes had rendered him unworthy of it.

The emotions of this revenge having entirely subsided, he now had
leisure to consider how oddly the world would think and talk of him,
if he perpetrated a marriage with a girl such as Laetitia;--he almost
wondered at himself, that the just displeasure he had conceived
against his brother, should have transported him so far as to make him
forgetful of what was owing to his own character; and when he
reflected on the miseries, vexations, and infamy, his last marriage
had involved him in, he trembled to think how near he had been to
entering into a state, which tho' he had a very good opinion of
Laetitia's virtue, might yet possibly, some way or other, have given
him many uneasinesses.

He was, however, very much embarrassed how to break with her
handsomely; and it must be confessed, that after what had passed, this
was no very easy matter to accomplish.--Make what pretence he would,
he could not expect to escape the censure of an unstable fluctuating
man.--This is indeed a character, which all men are willing, nay
industrious, to avoid, yet what there are few men, but some time or
other in their lives, give just reason to incur.--Natura very well
knew, that to court a woman for marriage, and afterwards break his
engagements with her, was a thing pretty common in the world; but
then, it was thing he had always condemned in his own mind, and looked
upon as most ungenerous and base:--besides, though he had made his
addresses to Laetitia, meerly because he imagined she would prove a
virtuous, obedient, and fruitful wife, and was not inflamed with any
of those sentiments for her which are called love; yet, designing to
marry her, he had set himself as much as possible to love her, and had
really excited in his heart a kind of a tenderness, which made him
unable to resolve on giving her the mortification of being forsaken,
without feeling great part of the pain he was about to inflict on her.

All he now wished was, that she might be possessed of as little warmth
of inclination for him as he had known for her, and that the disparity
of years between them, might have made her consent to the proposed
marriage, intirely on the motive of interest, without any mixture of
love, in order that the disappointment she was going to receive, might
seem the less severe: as the regard he had for her made him earnestly
wish this might be the case, he carefully recollected all the passages
of her behaviour, her looks, her words, nay, the very accents of her
voice, were re-examined, in hope to find some tokens of that happy
indifference, which alone could make him easy in this affair; but all
this retrospect afforded him no more than uncertain conjectures, and
imaginations which frequently contradicted each other, and indeed
served only to increase his doubts, and add to his disquiets.

The mourning for his brother was, however, a very plausible pretence
for delaying the marriage; and as he was willing the disappointment
should come on by degrees, thinking by that means to soften the
asperity of it, he contrived to let both father and daughter have room
to guess the event before hand.--He seldom went to their house, and
when he did, made very short visits, talked as if the necessity of his
affairs would oblige him to leave the country, and settle again
entirely in town:--rather avoided, than sought any opportunity of
speaking to Laetitia in private, and in all his words and actions,
discovered a coldness which could not but be very surprizing to them
both, though they took not the least notice that they were so before
him, but behaved towards him in the same manner, as when he appeared
the most full of affection.

This was a piece of prudence Natura had not expected from persons of
their low education and way of life:--he had imagined, that either the
one or the other of them would have upbraided this change in him, and
by avowing a suspicion, that he had repented him of his promises,
given him an opportunity either of seeming to resent it, or by some
other method, of breaking off: but this way of proceeding frustrated
his measures in that point, and he found himself under a necessity of
speaking first, on a subject no less disagreeable to himself, than he
knew it would be to those to whom his discourse should be directed.

However, as there was no remedy, and he considered, that the longer to
keep them in suspense, would only be adding to the cruelty of the
disappointment; he sent one morning for the yeoman to come to his
house, and after ushering in what he was about to say, with some
reflections on the instability of human affairs, told him that some
accidents had happened, which rendered it highly inconvenient for him
to think of marrying;--that he had the utmost respect and good will
for Laetitia, and that if there were not indissoluble impediments to
hinder him from taking a wife, she should be still his choice, above
any woman he knew in the world;--that he wished her happy with any
other man, and to contribute to making her so, as also by way of
atonement for his enforced leaving her, he would give her five hundred
pounds, as an addition to her fortune.

This was the substance of what he said; but though he delivered it in
the softest terms he could possibly make use of, he could find it was
not well received by the old man; his countenance, however, a little
cleared up at the closure of it:--the five hundred pounds was somewhat
of a sweetener to the bitter pill; and after expatiating, according to
his way, on the ungenerosity of engaging a young maid's affection, and
afterwards forsaking her, he threw in some shrewd hints, that as
accidents had happened to change his mind as to marriage, others might
also happen, which would have the same effect, in relation to the
present he now seemed to intend for her.

'To prevent that,' cried Natura hastily, 'you shall take it home with
you'; and with these words turned to a cabinet, and took out the sum
he had mentioned; after counting it over, he put it into a bag, and
delivered it to the yeoman, saying at the same time, that though it
might not be so proper to come to his house, yet if he would send to
him in any exigence, he should find him ready to assist him; 'for you
may depend,' added he, 'that though I cannot be your son, I shall
always be your friend.'

These words, and the money together, rendered the yeoman more content
than Natura had expected he would be; and by that he hoped he knew his
daughter had not imbibed any passion for him, which she would find
much difficulty in getting rid of, and that this augmentation to her
portion, would very well compensate for the loss of a husband, of more
than twice her years.

A small time evinced, that Natura had not been altogether mistaken in
his conjectures.--Laetitia became the bride of a young wealthy grazier
in a neighbouring town, with whom she removed soon after her marriage;
and this event, so much desired by Natura, destroyed all the remains
of disquiet, his nicety of honour, and love of justice, had occasioned
in him.

Being now wholly extricated from an adventure, which had given him
much pain, and no less free from the emotions of any turbulent
passion, he passed his days and nights in a most perfect and
undisturbed tranquility; a situation of mind to which, for a long
series of years, he had been an utter stranger.

To desire, or pursue any thing with too much eagerness, is undoubtedly
the greatest cruelty we can practise on ourselves; yet how impossible
is it to avoid doing so, while the passions have any kind of dominion
over us:--to _acquire_, and to _preserve_, make the sole business of
our lives, and leave no leisure to _enjoy_ the goods of
fortune:--still tost on the billows of passion, hurried from care to
care the whole time of our existence here, is one continued scene of
restlessness and variated disquiet.--Strange propensity in man!--even
nature in us seems contradictory to herself!--we wish _long life_, yet
shorten it by our own anxieties;--nothing is so dreadful as _death_,
yet we hasten his approach by our intemperance and irregularity, and,
what is more, we know all this, yet still run on in the same heady
course.

Natura had now, however, an interval, a happy chasm, between the
extremes of pleasure and of pain;--contented with his lot, and neither
aiming at more than he possessed, nor fearful of being deprived of
what he had. He, for a time, seemed in a condition such as all wise
men would wish to attain, tho' so few take proper methods for that
purpose, that those who we see in it, may be said to owe their
felicity rather to chance, than to any right endeavours of their own.




CHAP. V.

  Contains a remarkable proof, that tho' the passions may operate with
  greater velocity and vehemence in youth, yet they are infinitely
  more strong and permanent, when the person is arrived at maturity,
  and are then scarce ever eradicated. Love and friendship are then,
  and not till then, truly worthy of the names they bear; and that the
  _one_ between those of different sexes, is always the consequence of
  the _other_.


The inclination we have, and the pleasure it gives us to think well of
our abilities, leads us frequently into the most gross mistakes,
concerning the springs of action in our breasts. We are apt to ascribe
to the strength of our reason, what is in reality the effect of one or
other of the passions, sometimes even those of the worst kind, and
which a sound judgment would most condemn, and endeavour to
extirpate.--Man is a stranger to nothing, more than to himself;--the
recesses of his own heart, are no less impenetrable to him, than the
worlds beyond the moon;--he is blinded by vanity, and agitated by
desires he knows not he is possessed of.

It was not _reason_ but _revenge_, which dissipated the immoderate
grief of Natura on the death of his son;--it was not _reason_ but
_pride_, which made him see the inconveniences of marrying with
Laetitia;--and yet doubtless he gave the praise of these events to the
strength of his prudence: to that too he also ascribed the resolution
he now took of living single during the remainder of his life; whereas
it was in truth only owing to his being at present acquainted with no
object capable of inspiring him with the tender passion.

As he was now entirely free from all business, or avocation of any
kind whatsoever, it came into his head to go and pass some part of the
summer season with his sister:--he accordingly crossed the country to
her seat, and was received with all imaginable demonstrations of joy,
both by herself and husband.

He found their family increased by the addition of a lady, who
preferring a country to a town life, had desired to board with them,
which was readily granted by the sister of Natura, not only as she was
a relation of her husband, but also for the sake of having a companion
so perfectly agreeable as this lady was in every respect.

Charlotte, for so she was called, had been left a widow within three
months after her marriage, and had never entertained any thoughts of
entering into a second engagement, though her person, jointure, and
accomplishments, had attracted many sollicitations on that score. She
was about thirty years of age when Natura found her at his sister's;
and through the chearfulness of her temper, and the goodness of her
constitution, had preserved in her countenance all the bloom of
fifteen.--The charms of her person, however, made no impression on
Natura at his first acquaintance with her; he thought her a fine
woman, as every one did who saw her, but her charms reached not his
heart, nor gave him any emotions, either of pain or pleasure.

But it was not for any longtime he remained in this state of
insensibility.--Charlotte had graces which could not fail of conquest,
sooner or later:--where those of her eyes wanted the power to move,
her tongue came in to their assistance, and was sure of gaining the
day:--there was something so resistless in her wit, and manner of
conversation, that none but those by nature, or want of proper
education, were too dull and stupid to understand, but must have felt
an infinity of satisfaction in it.

Besides all this, there was a sympathy of humour between this lady and
Natura, which greatly contributed to make them pleased with each
other:--both were virtuous by nature, by disposition gay and
chearful:--both were equally lovers of reading; had a smattering of
philosophy, were perfectly acquainted with the world, and knew what in
it was truly worthy of being praised or contemned; and what rendered
them still more conformable, was the aversion which each testified to
marriage.--Natura's treatment from his wife, had made him speak with
some bitterness against a state, which had involved him in so many
perplexities; and Charlotte, though so short a time a wife, having
been married against her inclination, and to a man who, it seems, knew
not her real value, had found in it the beginning of disquiets, which
prognosticated worse mischiefs, had not his death relieved her from
them, and made her too thankful for the deliverance, to endure the
thoughts of venturing a second time to give up her freedom.

This parity of sentiments, inclinations, and dispositions, it was
which, by degrees, endeared them to each other, without knowing they
were so.

Natura became at last impatient out of the company of Charlotte, and
Charlotte found a restlessness in herself whenever Natura was absent;
but this indeed happened but seldom:--the mutual desire they had of
being together, made each of them industriously avoid all those
parties of pleasure, in which both could not have a share:--Natura
excused himself from accompanying his brother-in-law in any of those
diversions where women were not admitted; and Charlotte always had
some pretence for staying at home when the sister of Natura made her
visits to the ladies of the country;--yet was this managed on both
sides with such great decency and precaution, that neither the one nor
the other perceived the motive which occasioned their being so rarely
separated; much less had the family any notion of it.

It is certain, that never any two persons were possessed of a more
true and delicate passion for each other:--the flame which warmed
their breasts, was meerly spiritual, and platonic;--the difference of
sex was never considered:--Natura adored Charlotte, not because she
was a lovely woman, but because he imagined somewhat angelic in her
mind; and Charlotte loved Natura not because he had an agreeable
person, but because she thought she discovered more charms in his
soul, than in that of any other man or woman.

The acquaintance between them soon grew into an intimacy, and that
intimacy, by degrees, ripened into a friendship, which is the height
and very essence of love, though neither of them would allow
themselves to think it so: they made no scruple, however, of assuring
each other, of their mutual esteem, and promised all the good offices
in the power of either, with a freedom which they would not have done
(especially Charlotte, who was naturally very reserved) had they been
sensible to what lengths their present attachment might in time
proceed.

Winter now drew on, but Natura was too much rivetted to think of
departing, and would doubtless have made some pretext for living
altogether with his sister, had not an accident happened, which made
his going a greater proof of the regard he had for Charlotte, than his
staying could have done, and perhaps made him know the real sentiments
he was possessed of on her account, much sooner than he should without
it.

That lady had some law-affairs, which required either herself, or some
very faithful and diligent friend to attend. Term was approaching, and
the brother-in-law of Natura had promised to take a journey to London
for that purpose; but he unfortunately had been thrown from his horse
in a hunting match, and broke his leg, and Charlotte seemed in a good
deal of anxiety, who she should write to, in order to entrust with the
care of her business, which she justly feared would suffer much, if
left wholly to the lawyer's own management.

Natura on this offered his service, and told her, if she would favour
him with her confidence in this point, he would go directly to London,
where she might depend on his diligence and fidelity in the forwarding
her business:--as she had not the least doubt of either, she accepted
this testimony of his friendship, with no other reluctance, than what
the being long deprived of his conversation occasioned.--Her good
sense, notwithstanding, got the better of that consideration, which
she looked upon only at an indulgence to herself, and committed to his
care all the papers necessary to be produced, in case he succeeded so
well for her, as to bring the suit to a trial.

The manner of their taking leave was only such as might be expected
between two persons, who professed a friendly regard for each other;
but Natura had no sooner set out on his journey, than he felt a
heaviness at his heart, for having left the adorable Charlotte, which
nothing but the consideration that he was employed on her business,
and going to serve her could have asswaged.

This was, indeed, a sweet consolation to him, and on his arrival in
town, set himself to enquire into the causes of that delay she had
complained of, with so much assiduity, that he easily found out she
had not been well treated by her lawyers, and that one of them had
even gone so far as to take fees from her adversary;--he therefore put
the affair into other hands, and ordered matters so, that the trial
could not, by any means, be put off till another time.

Yet, in spite of all this diligence, it was the opinion of the
council, that there was an absolute necessity for the lady to appear
herself:--it is hard to say, whether Natura was more vexed or pleased
at this intelligence; he was sorry that he could not, of himself,
accomplish what he came about, and spare her the trouble of a journey
he had found was very disagreeable to her, not only on account of her
aversion to the town, and the ill season of the year for travelling,
but also because the person she contended with was a near relation,
and she was very sensible would engage many of their kindred to
disswade her from doing herself that justice she was resolute to
persist in her attempts for procuring.--The thoughts of the perplexity
this would give her, it was that filled him with a good deal of
trouble; but then the reflection, that he should have the happiness of
seeing her again, on this account, much sooner than he could otherwise
have done, gave him at least an equal share of satisfaction.

The gentlemen of the long robe employed in her cause, and whose
veracity and judgment he was well assured of, insisting she must come,
put an end to his suspense, and he wrote to her for that purpose: the
next post brought him an answer which, to his great surprize,
expressed not the least uneasiness on the score of this journey, only
acquainted him, that she had taken a place in the stage, should set
out next morning, and in three days be in London; against which time,
she begged he would be so good to provide her a commodious lodging,
she being determined to go to none of her kindred, for the reason
abovementioned.

Being animated with exactly the same sentiments Natura was, that
inclination which led him to wish her coming, influenced her also to
be pleased with it, and rendered the fatigue of the journey, and those
others she expected to find on her arrival, of no consequence, when
balanced against the happiness she proposed, in re-enjoying the
conversation of her aimable and worthy friend.

But all this Natura was ignorant of; nor did his vanity suggest to him
the least part of what passed in his favour in the bosom of his lovely
Charlotte; but he needed no more than the knowledge she was coming to
a place where he should have her company, with less interruption than
he had hitherto the opportunity of, to make him the most transported
man alive. As he had no house of his own in town to accommodate her
with, he provided lodgings, and every thing necessary for her
reception, with an alacrity worthy of his love, and the confidence she
reposed in him; and went in his own coach to take her from the stage
some miles on the road. She testified her gratitude for the care he
took of her affairs, in the most obliging and polite acknowledgments;
and he returned the thanks she gave him, with the sincerest
assurances, that the thoughts of having it in his power to do her any
little service, afforded him the most elevated pleasure he had ever
known in his whole life.

What they said to each other, however, on this score, was taken by
each, more as the effects of gallantry and good breeding, than the
real motives from which the expressions they both made use of, had
their source:--equal was their tenderness, equal also was their
diffidence, it being the peculiar property of a true and perfect love,
always to fear, and never to hope too much.

Natura had taken care to chuse her an apartment very near the place
where he lodged himself, which luckily happened to be in an extreme
airy and genteel part of the town; so that he had the pleasure of
seeing her, not only every day, but almost every hour in the day, on
one pretext or other, which his industrious passion dictated; and this
almost continual being together, and, for the most part, without any
other company, very much increased the freedom between them, though
that freedom never went farther, even in a wish, on either side, for a
long time at least, than that of a brother and sister.

Though all imaginable diligence was used to bring the law-suit to an
issue, those with whom Charlotte contested, found means to put it off
for yet one more term, she was obliged to stay that time; but neither
felt in herself, nor pretended to do so, any repugnance at it:--Natura
had enough to do to conceal his joy on this occasion; and when he
affected a concern for her being detained in a place she had so often
declared an aversion for, he did it so awkwardly, that had she not
been too much taken up with endeavouring to disguise her own
sentiments on this account, she could not but have seen into his.

As neither of them seemed now to take any delight in balls, plays,
operas, masquerades, cards, or any of the town diversions, they passed
all their evenings together, and, for the most part, alone, as I
before observed;--their conversation was chiefly on serious topics,
and such as might have been improving to the hearers, had any been
permitted; and when they fell on matters which required a more gay and
sprightly turn, their good humour never went beyond an innocent
chearfulness, nor in the least transgressed the bounds of the
strictest morality and modesty.

How long this platonic intercourse would have continued, is uncertain;
but the second term was near elapsed, the suit determined in favour of
Charlotte, and her stay in town necessary but a very days before
either of them entertained any other ideas, than such as I have
mentioned. Natura then began to regret the diminution of the happiness
he now enjoyed, and indeed of the total loss of it; for though he knew
it would not be wondered at, that his complaisance should induce him
to attend Charlotte in her journey to his sister's, yet he was at a
loss for a pretence to remain there for any long time.--Charlotte, on
the other hand, considered on the separation which, in all appearance,
must shortly be between them, with a great deal of anxiety, and was
even sorry the completion of her business had left her no excuse for
staying in town, since she could not expect it either suited with his
inclinations, or situation of affairs, to live always in the country.

These cogitations rendered both very uneasy in their minds, yet
neither of them took any steps to remedy a misfortune equally terrible
to each; and the event had doubtless proved as they imagined, had not
the latent fires which glowed in both their breasts, been kindled into
a flame by foreign means, and not the least owing to themselves.

One of those gentlemen who had been council for Charlotte, and had
behaved with extraordinary zeal in her behalf, had been instigated
thereto, more by the charms of her person, than the fees he received
from her;--in fine, he was in love with her; but his passion was not
of that delicate nature, which fills the mind with a thousand timid
apprehensions, and chuses rather to endure the pains of a long
smothered flame, than run the hazard of offending the adored object,
by disclosing it.

He had enquired into her family and fortune, and finding there was
nothing of disparity between them, he declared his passion to her, and
declared it in terms which seemed not to savour of any great fears of
being rejected.--He was in his prime of life, had an agreeable person,
and a good estate, the consciousness of which, together with his being
accustomed to plead with success at the bar, made him not much doubt,
but his eloquence and assurance would have the same effect on his
mistress, as it frequently had on the judges: but the good opinion he
had of himself, greatly deceived him in this point; he met with a
rebuff from Charlotte, which might have deterred some men from
prosecuting a courtship she seemed determined never to encourage: but
though he was a little alarmed at it, he could not bring himself to
think she was enough in earnest to make him desist: in every visit he
paid her, he interlarded his discourse on business with professions of
love, which at length so much teized her, that she told him plainly,
she would sooner suffer her cause to be lost, than suffer herself to
be continually persecuted with sollicitations, which she had ever
avoided since her widowhood, and ever should do so.

Natura came in one day just as the counsellor was going out of her
apartment; he observed a great confusion in his face, and some
emotions in her's, which shewed her mind a little ruffled from that
happy composure he was accustomed to find it in. On his testifying the
notice he took of this change in her countenance, 'It is strange
thing,' said she, 'that people will believe nothing in their own
disfavour!--I have told this man twenty times, that if I were disposed
to think of a second marriage, which I do not believe I ever shall,
the present sentiments I am possessed of, would never be reversed by
any offer he could make me; yet will he still persist in his
impertinent declarations.'

There needed no more to convince Natura he had a rival; nor, as he
knew Charlotte had nothing of coquetry in her humour, to make him also
know she was not pleased with having attracted the affections of this
new admirer: this gave him an inexpressible satisfaction; for tho', as
yet, he had never once thought of making any addresses to her on the
score of love, death was not half so terrible to him, as the idea of
her encouraging them from any other man.

'Then, madam,' cried he, looking on her in a manner she had never seen
him do before, 'the councellor has declared a passion for you, and
you have rejected him?'--'is it possible?'--'Possible!' interrupted
she, 'can you believe it possible I should not do so, knowing, as you
do, the fixed aversion I have to entering into any second
engagement!'--'but were it less so,' continued she, after a pause, 'his
sollicitations would be never the more agreeable to me.'

Natura asked pardon for testifying any surprize, which he assured her
was totally owing, either to this proof of the effect of her charms,
'which,' said he, 'are capable of far greater conquests; or to your
refusal of the councellor's offer, after the declarations you have
made against a second marriage, but was excited in me meerly by the
novelty of the thing, having heard nothing of it before.'

'This had not been among the number of the few things I conceal from
you,' answered she, 'if I had thought the repetition worthy of taking
up any part of that time which I always pass with you on subjects more
agreeable';--'besides,' continued she, 'it was always my opinion, that
those women, who talk of the addresses made to them, are secretly
pleased with them in their hearts, and like the love, tho' they may
even despise the lover. For my part, I can feel no manner of
satisfaction in relating to others, what I had rather be totally
ignorant of myself.'

Natura had here a very good opportunity of complimenting her on the
excellency of her understanding, which set her above the vanities of
the generality of her sex; and indeed he expressed himself with so
much warmth on this occasion, that it even shocked her modesty, and
she was obliged to desire him to change the conversation, and speak no
more of a behaviour, which was not to be imputed to her good sense,
but to her disposition.

Never had Natura found it more difficult to obey her than now;--he
could have expatiated for ever on the many and peculiar perfections
both of her mind and person; but he perceived, that to indulge the
darling theme, would be displeasing to her, and therefore forced
himself to put a stop to the utterance of those dictates, with which
his heart was now charged, even to an overflowing.

Such was the effect of this incident on both: Natura, who till now had
thought he loved only the _soul_ of his mistress, found how dear her
lovely _person_ was also to him, by the knowledge that another was
endeavouring to get possession of it; and Charlotte, by the secret
satisfaction she felt on those indications Natura, in spite of his
efforts to the contrary, had given of a more than ordinary admiration
of her, discovered, for the first time, that he was indeed the only
man whose love would not be displeasing to her.

After Natura came home, and had leisure to meditate on this affair, he
began with thinking how terrible it would be to him, to see Charlotte
in the arms of a husband; and when he reflected, that such a thing
might be possible, even though he doubted not the sincerity of her
present aversion, the idea was scarce to be borne:--from this he
naturally fell on figuring to himself how great a blessing that man
would enjoy, who should always have the sweet society of so amiable a
companion;--and this made him cry out, 'Why then, what hinders me from
endeavouring to become that happy man?--If I resolved against any
future marriage, it was when I knew not the adorable Charlotte, nor
believed there was so excellent a woman in the world.'--In this
rapturous imagination did he continue for a moment, but then the
improbability of succeeding in any such attempt, struck him with an
adequate despair.--'Though the uncommon merit of the woman I adore,'
said he, 'compels me to change the resolution I had taken, there is
not the same reason to prevail on her to recede from her's.--Past the
bloom of life, and already twice a husband, can I flatter myself with
the fond hope she will not reject the proposals I should make with the
same scorn she did those of the councillor?'

Charlotte, on the other hand, was engrossed by reflections vastly
different from those she was accustomed to entertain:--never woman was
more free from vanity, or thought less of the power of her charms, yet
she could not hinder herself from thinking there was somewhat in the
behaviour of Natura, in his last visit, that denoted a regard beyond
an ordinary friendship for her.--This apprehension, at first, a little
startled her, or at least she imagined it did so, and she said to
herself, 'If he should really harbour any inclinations for me of that
sort, how unhappy should I be in being obliged to break off my
acquaintance with a person so every way agreeable to me; and to
continue it, would be to countenance a passion I have determined never
to give the least attention to.'--'Yet wherefore did I determine?'
pursued she, with a sigh, 'but because I found the generality of men
mere wandering, vague, inconstant creatures;--were guided only by
fancy;--never consulted their judgment, whether the object they
pretended to admire, had any real merit or not, and often too treated
those worst who had the best claim to their esteem;--besides, one
seldom finds a man whose person and qualifications are every way
suited to one's liking:--Natura is certainly such as I should wish a
husband to be, if I were inclined to marry again;--I have not taken a
vow of celibacy, and have nobody to controul my actions':--'then,'
said she again, 'what foolish imaginations comes into my head; perhaps
he has not the least thought of me in the way I am dreaming of;--no,
no, he has suffered too much by the imprudence of one woman, to put it
in the power of another to treat him in the same manner;--be trembles
at marriage;--I have heard him declare it, and I am deviating into a
vanity I never before was guilty of.'

She was debating in this fashion within herself, when Natura came to
pay his morning visit: she blushed at his approach, conscious of the
meditations she had been in on his account.--He, full of the
sentiments I have described, saluted her with an air more grave and
timid than he had been accustomed, and which all who are judges of the
tender passion, know to be the surest symptom of it.--They sat down,
and on his beginning to renew some discourse concerning the
counsellor's pretensions, she desired him to forbear so disagreeable a
topic, telling him at the same time, he could say nothing else she
would not listen to with satisfaction.--'How, madam,' cried he, 'are
you sure of that?--Alas, you little know what passes in my heart, or
you would not permit me this toleration.' This might have been
sufficient to make some women convinced of the truth; but Charlotte
either fearful of being deceived by her own vanity, or willing he
should be more explicit, answered, 'I have too high an opinion of your
good sense, and too flattering an idea of your friendship to me, to
imagine your heart will ever suggest any thing which would be
offensive to me from your tongue.'

'Suppose, madam,' said he, 'it should not be in my power to restrain
my wishes in those bounds prescribed by you, to all who have the
happiness of conversing with you; and that I were encroaching enough
not to be content with the marks of friendship you are pleased to
honour me':--'in fine,' continued he, 'suppose I were guilty of the
very same presumption, you have so severely censured in the
councellor!'

'That is impossible,' replied she, 'since you are a foe professed to
marriage, as well as myself';--she was about to add something more,
but was prevented by emotions, which she attempted, but in vain, to
conceal; and Natura saw enough to keep him from despairing he had
forfeited her _esteem_ by aiming at her _love_.

Having thus made a beginning, it was easy for him to prosecute a suit,
which he soon discovered he had a friend in her bosom to plead in
favour of:--in a word, he left her not, till he had obtained her
permission to entertain her on the same theme, and to use his
endeavours to prevail on her to exchange the friendship she confessed
for him into a warmer passion.

It would be altogether needless to make any repetition of the
particulars of this courtship; the reader will easily believe, that
both parties being animated with the same sentiments I have described,
it could not be very tedious;--love had already done his work in their
hearts, and required little the labour of the tongue. Charlotte had
entirely compleated every thing appertaining to her law-suit, yet she
seemed not in a hurry to quit the town; a business of a more tender
nature now detained her;--she had resolved, or rather she could not
help resolving, to give herself to Natura, and the shame of doing what
she had so often, and so strenuously declared against, rendered the
thoughts of returning into the country in a different state, from that
with which she had left it, insupportable to her.

After having agreed to the sollicitations of her importunate lover,
she expressed her sentiments to him on this head; on which it was
concluded, that their nuptials should be solemnized as privately as
possible in London, and that they should set out immediately after for
his country seat, where Charlotte, being utterly a stranger, would not
be subjected to any of those little railleries, she must have
expected, in a place where every one knew of the aversion she had
testified for a second marriage.

No cross accident intervening, what they designed was, in a short
time, carried into execution;--never were any pair united by more
indelible bonds; those of friendship sublimed into the most pure and
virtuous tenderness, and a parity of principles, humours, and
inclinations.

Thus does passion triumph over the most seemingly fixed and determined
resolution; and though it must be confessed, that in this instance,
both had reason, from the real merits of the beloved object, to
justify their choice, yet nature would certainly have had the same
force, and worked the same effect, if excited only by meer fancy, and
imaginary perfections.

A Platonic and spiritual love, therefore, between persons of different
sexes, can never continue for any length of time. Whatever ideas the
_mind_ may conceive, they will at last conform to the craving of the
_senses_; and the _soul_, though never so elevated, find itself
incapable of enjoying a perfect satisfaction, without the
participation of the _body_.--As inclination then is not always guided
by a right judgment, nor circumstances always concur to render the
indulging an amorous propensity either convenient, or lawful, how
careful ought every one be, not to be deceived by a romantic
imagination, so far as to engage in an affection which, sooner or
later, will bring them to the same point that Natura and Charlotte
experienced.




CHAP. VI.

  How the most powerful emotions of the _mind_ subside and grow weaker
  in proportion, as the strength of the _body_ decays, is here
  exemplified; and that such passions as remain after a certain age,
  are not properly the incentives of nature, but of example, long
  habitude or ill humour.


The bride and bridegroom were received by all the friends, tenants,
and dependants of Natura, with the greatest demonstrations of joy; and
the behaviour of the amiable Charlotte was such as made every one
cease to wonder that he had ventured again on marriage, after the
disquiets he had experienced in that state.

The kindred on neither side had nothing to condemn in the choice which
each had made of the other; and though perhaps a motive of
self-interest might make those nearest in blood, and consequently to
the estates they should leave at their decease, wish such an union had
not happened, yet none took the liberty to complain, or betray, by any
part of their behaviour, the least dissatisfaction at it.--The sister
and brother-in-law of Natura, it must be allowed, had the most cause,
as they had a large family of children, who had a claim equally to the
effects of both, in case they had died without issue; yet did not even
they express any discontent, though Charlotte, within the first year
of her marriage, brought two sons into the world, and a third in the
next ensuing one, all which seemed likely to live, and enjoy their
parents patrimony.

What now was wanting to compleat the happiness of this worthy pair,
equally loving and beloved by each other, respected by all who knew
them, in need of no favours from any one, and blessed with the power
of conferring them on as many as they found wanted, or merited their
assistance.--Charlotte lost no part of her beauty, nor vivacity, by
becoming a mother, nor did Natura find any decrease in the strength,
or vigour, either of his mind or body, till he was past fifty-six
years of age.--The same happy constitution had doubtless continued a
much longer time in him, as nature had not been worn out by any
excesses, or intemperance, if by unthinkingly drinking some cold
water, when he was extremely hot, he had not thrown himself into a
surfeit, which surfeit afterward terminated in an ague and fever,
which remained on him a long time, and so greatly impaired all his
faculties, as well as person, that he was scarce to be known, either
by behaviour, or looks, for the man who, before that accident, had
been infinitely regarded and esteemed for the politeness of the _one_,
and the agreeableness of the _other_.

His limbs grew feeble, his body thin, and his face pale and wan, his
temper sour and sullen, seldom caring to speak, and when he did it was
with peevishness and ill-nature;--every thing was to him an object of
disquiet; nothing of delight; and he seemed, in all respects, like one
who was weary of the world, and knew he was to leave it in a short
time.

It is so natural to feel repugnance at the thoughts of being what they
call _no more_; that is, no more as to the knowledge and affections of
this world; that even those persons who labour under the severest
afflictions, wish rather to continue in them, than be eased by
death:--they are pleased at any flattering hopes given of a
prolongation of their present misery, and are struck with horror at
the least mention of their life and pains being drawing to a
period.--More irksome, doubtless, it must still be to those, who
having every thing they could wish for here, find they must soon be
torn from all the blessings they enjoy.--This is indeed a weakness;
but it is a weakness of nature, and which neither religion nor
philosophy are sufficient to arm us against; and the very endeavours
we make to banish, or at least to conceal our disquiets on this score,
occasion a certain peevishness in the sweetest temper, and make us
behave with a kind of churlishness, even to those most dear to us.

Few, indeed, care to confess this truth, tho' there are scarce any,
who do not shew it in their behaviour, even at the very time they are
forcing themselves to an affectation of indifference for life, and a
resignation to the will of Heaven.

The great skill of his physicians, however, and the yet greater care
his tender consort took to see their prescriptions obeyed with the
utmost exactitude, at length recovered Natura from the brink of the
grave.--He was out of danger from the disease which had so long
afflicted him; but though it had entirely left him, the attack had
been too severe for a person at the age to which he was now arrived,
to regain altogether the former man.--He had, in his sickness,
contracted habits, which he was unable to throw off in health, and he
could no more behave, than look, as he had done before.

The mind would certainly be unalterable, and retain the same vigour it
ever had in youth, even to extreme old age, could the constitution
preserve itself entire.--It is that perishable part of us, which every
little accident impairs, and wears away, preparing, as it were, by
degrees, for a total dissolution, which hinders the nobler moiety of
the human species from actuating in a proper manner:--those organs,
which are the vehicles, through which its meanings shoot forth into
action, being either shrivelled, abraded by long use, or clogged up
with humours, shew the soul but in an imperfect manner, often disguise
it wholly, and it is for want of a due consideration only, that we are
so apt to condemn the _mind_, for what, in reality, is nothing but the
incumbrances laid on it by the infirmities of the _body_.

It is true, that as we grow older, the passions naturally subside; yet
that they do so, is not owing to themselves, as I think may be easily
proved by this argument.

Every one will acknowledge, because he knows it by experience, that
while he is possessed of _passions_, his _reason_ alone has the power
of keeping them within the bounds of moderation; if then we have less
of the _passions_ in old age, or rather, if they seem wholly
extinguished in us, we ought to have a greater share of _reason_ than
before; whereas, on the contrary, _reason_ itself becomes languid in
the length of years, as well as the _passions_, it is supposed to have
subdued: it is therefore meerly the imbecility of the organical
faculties, and from no other cause, that we see the aged and infirm
dead, in appearance, to those sensations, by which their youth was so
strongly influenced.

_Avarice_ is, indeed, frequently distinguishable in old men; but this
I do not look upon as a _passion_ but a _propensity_, arising from
ill-nature and self-love.--Gain, and the sordid pleasure of counting
over money, and reckoning up rents and revenues, is the only lust of
age; and since we cannot be so handsome, so vigorous, cannot indulge
our appetites, like those who are younger, we take all manner of ways
to be richer, and pride ourselves in the length of our bags, and the
number of our tenants.

I know it may be objected, that this vice is not confined to age, that
youth is frequently very avaritious, and grasps at money with a very
unbecoming eagerness:--this, I grant, is true; but, if we look into
the conduct of such men in other respects, I believe we shall
generally find their avarice proceeds from their prodigality;--they
are lavish in the purchase of pleasures, and must therefore be
parsimonious in acts of generosity and justice:--they are guilty of
meanness in some things, only for the sake of making a great figure in
others; and are not ashamed to be accounted niggards, where they ought
to be liberal, in order to acquire the reputation of open-handedness,
where it would better become them to be sparing.

Natura, however, had never discovered any tendency to this vice,
either in youth or age; yet did that peevishness, which the
infirmities of his body had occasioned, make him behave sometimes, as
if he were tainted with it.

Charlotte observed this alteration in her husband's temper with an
infinite concern; yet bore it with an equal patience;--making it her
whole study to divert and sooth his ill humour:--he was not so lost to
love and gratitude, and even reason too, as not to acknowledge the
tender proofs he continually received of her unshaken affections, and
would sometimes confess the errors he was guilty of, in point of
behaviour towards her, and intreat her pardon; but then the least
trifle would render him again forgetful of all he had said, and make
him relapse into his former frowardness.

It is certain, notwithstanding, that his love for her was the same as
ever, though he could not shew it in the same manner; and to what can
this be imputed, but to the effect which the ailments of his external
frame had on his internal faculties.

Though, as well as those about him, he found a decay within himself,
which made him think he had not long to live; yet could he not be
prevailed upon, for a great while, to settle his affairs after his
decease, by making any will; and whenever it was mentioned to him,
discovered a dissatisfaction, which at last made every one desist from
urging any thing on that score.

It was in vain that they had remonstrated to him, that the estate
being to descend entire to his eldest son, the two youngest would be
left without any provision, and consequently must be dependants on
their brother, by his dying intestate:--in vain they pleaded, that
taking so necessary a precaution for preserving the future peace of
his family, would no way hasten his death, but, on the contrary,
render the fatal hour, whenever it should arrive, less dreadful, he
had only either answered not at all, or replied in such a fashion, as
could give them no room to hope for his compliance.

In this unhappy disposition did he continue between two and three
years; but as his latter days came on, he grew much more calm and
resigned, _reason_ began to recover its former dominion over him; and,
when every one had left off all importunities on the account of his
making a _will_, he, of himself, mentioned the necessity of it, and
ordered a lawyer to be sent for to that end.

Having settled all his affairs, relating to this world, in the most
prudent manner, he began to prepare for another, with a zeal which
shewed, that whatever notions people may have in health, concerning
futurity, they become more convinced, in proportion as they grow
nearer their dissolution.

He finished his course in the sixty-third, or what is called the grand
climacteric year of life;--had the blessing to retain the use of all
his senses to the last; and as death had long before assailed, though
not totally vanquished him, he was too much decayed by continual
wastings, to feel any of those pangs, which persons who die in their
full vigour must unavoidably go through, when the vital springs burst
at once.

He took leave of his dear wife and children with great serenity and
composure of mind; and afterwards turned himself from them, and passed
into eternity, as if falling into a gentle slumber.

Thus have I attempted to trace nature in all her mazy windings, and
shew life's progress thro' the passions, from the cradle to the
grave.--The various adventures which happened to Natura, I thought,
afforded a more ample field, than those of any one man I ever heard,
or read of; and flatter myself, that the reader will find many
instances, that may contribute to rectify his own conduct, by pointing
out those things which ought to be avoided, or at least most carefully
guarded against, and those which are worthy to be improved and
imitated.



FINIS.







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