READ STUDY GUIDE: Book IX
CONTAINING TWELVE HOURS.
Of those who lawfully may, and of those who may not, write such histories as this.
Among other good uses for which I have thought proper to institute these several introductory chapters, I have considered them as a kind of mark or stamp, which may hereafter enable a very indifferent reader to distinguish what is true and genuine in this historic kind of writing, from what is false and counterfeit. Indeed, it seems likely that some such mark may shortly become necessary, since the favourable reception which two or three authors have lately procured for their works of this nature from the public, will probably serve as an encouragement to many others to undertake the like. Thus a swarm of foolish novels and monstrous romances will be produced, either to the great impoverishing of booksellers, or to the great loss of time and depravation of morals in the reader; nay, often to the spreading of scandal and calumny, and to the prejudice of the characters of many worthy and honest people.
I question not but the ingenious author of the Spectator was principally induced to prefix Greek and Latin mottos to every paper, from the same consideration of guarding against the pursuit of those scribblers, who having no talents of a writer but what is taught by the writing-master, are yet nowise afraid nor ashamed to assume the same titles with the greatest genius, than their good brother in the fable was of braying in the lion's skin.
By the device therefore of his motto, it became impracticable for any man to presume to imitate the Spectators, without understanding at least one sentence in the learned languages. In the same manner I have now secured myself from the imitation of those who are utterly incapable of any degree of reflection, and whose learning is not equal to an essay.
I would not be here understood to insinuate, that the greatest merit of such historical productions can ever lie in these introductory chapters; but, in fact, those parts which contain mere narrative only, afford much more encouragement to the pen of an imitator, than those which are composed of observation and reflection. Here I mean such imitators as Rowe was of Shakespear, or as Horace hints some of the Romans were of Cato, by bare feet and sour faces.
To invent good stories, and to tell them well, are possibly very rare talents, and yet I have observed few persons who have scrupled to aim at both: and if we examine the romances and novels with which the world abounds, I think we may fairly conclude, that most of the authors would not have attempted to show their teeth (if the expression may be allowed me) in any other way of writing; nor could indeed have strung together a dozen sentences on any other subject whatever.
_Scribimus indocti doctique passim_,[*]
|[*]—Each desperate blockhead dares to write:|
|Verse is the trade of every living wight.—FRANCIS.|
may be more truly said of the historian and biographer, than of any other species of writing; for all the arts and sciences (even criticism itself) require some little degree of learning and knowledge. Poetry, indeed, may perhaps be thought an exception; but then it demands numbers, or something like numbers: whereas, to the composition of novels and romances, nothing is necessary but paper, pens, and ink, with the manual capacity of using them. This, I conceive, their productions show to be the opinion of the authors themselves: and this must be the opinion of their readers, if indeed there be any such.
Hence we are to derive that universal contempt which the world, who always denominate the whole from the majority, have cast on all historical writers who do not draw their materials from records. And it is the apprehension of this contempt that hath made us so cautiously avoid the term romance, a name with which we might otherwise have been well enough contented. Though, as we have good authority for all our characters, no less indeed than the vast authentic doomsday-book of nature, as is elsewhere hinted, our labours have sufficient title to the name of history. Certainly they deserve some distinction from those works, which one of the wittiest of men regarded only as proceeding from a _pruritus_, or indeed rather from a looseness of the brain.
But besides the dishonour which is thus cast on one of the most useful as well as entertaining of all kinds of writing, there is just reason to apprehend, that by encouraging such authors we shall propagate much dishonour of another kind; I mean to the characters of many good and valuable members of society; for the dullest writers, no more than the dullest companions, are always inoffensive. They have both enough of language to be indecent and abusive. And surely if the opinion just above cited be true, we cannot wonder that works so nastily derived should be nasty themselves, or have a tendency to make others so.
To prevent therefore, for the future, such intemperate abuses of leisure, of letters, and of the liberty of the press, especially as the world seems at present to be more than usually threatened with them, I shall here venture to mention some qualifications, every one of which are in a pretty high degree necessary to this order of historians.
The first is, genius, without a full vein of which no study, says Horace, can avail us. By genius I would understand that power or rather those powers of the mind, which are capable of penetrating into all things within our reach and knowledge, and of distinguishing their essential differences. These are no other than invention and judgment; and they are both called by the collective name of genius, as they are of those gifts of nature which we bring with us into the world. Concerning each of which many seem to have fallen into very great errors; for by invention, I believe, is generally understood a creative faculty, which would indeed prove most romance writers to have the highest pretensions to it; whereas by invention is really meant no more (and so the word signifies) than discovery, or finding out; or to explain it at large, a quick and sagacious penetration into the true essence of all the objects of our contemplation. This, I think, can rarely exist without the concomitancy of judgment; for how we can be said to have discovered the true essence of two things, without discerning their difference, seems to me hard to conceive. Now this last is the undisputed province of judgment, and yet some few men of wit have agreed with all the dull fellows in the world in representing these two to have been seldom or never the property of one and the same person.
But though they should be so, they are not sufficient for our purpose, without a good share of learning; for which I could again cite the authority of Horace, and of many others, if any was necessary to prove that tools are of no service to a workman, when they are not sharpened by art, or when he wants rules to direct him in his work, or hath no matter to work upon. All these uses are supplied by learning; for nature can only furnish us with capacity; or, as I have chose to illustrate it, with the tools of our profession; learning must fit them for use, must direct them in it, and, lastly, must contribute part at least of the materials. A competent knowledge of history and of the belles-lettres is here absolutely necessary; and without this share of knowledge at least, to affect the character of an historian, is as vain as to endeavour at building a house without timber or mortar, or brick or stone. Homer and Milton, who, though they added the ornament of numbers to their works, were both historians of our order, were masters of all the learning of their times.
Again, there is another sort of knowledge, beyond the power of learning to bestow, and this is to be had by conversation. So necessary is this to the understanding the characters of men, that none are more ignorant of them than those learned pedants whose lives have been entirely consumed in colleges, and among books; for however exquisitely human nature may have been described by writers, the true practical system can be learnt only in the world. Indeed the like happens in every other kind of knowledge. Neither physic nor law are to be practically known from books. Nay, the farmer, the planter, the gardener, must perfect by experience what he hath acquired the rudiments of by reading. How accurately soever the ingenious Mr Miller may have described the plant, he himself would advise his disciple to see it in the garden. As we must perceive, that after the nicest strokes of a Shakespear or a Jonson, of a Wycherly or an Otway, some touches of nature will escape the reader, which the judicious action of a Garrick, of a Cibber, or a Clive,[*] can convey to him; so, on the real stage, the character shows himself in a stronger and bolder light than he can be described. And if this be the case in those fine and nervous descriptions which great authors themselves have taken from life, how much more strongly will it hold when the writer himself takes his lines not from nature, but from books? Such characters are only the faint copy of a copy, and can have neither the justness nor spirit of an original.
|[*] There is a peculiar propriety in mentioning this great actor,|
|and these two most justly celebrated actresses, in this place, as|
|they have all formed themselves on the study of nature only, and not|
|on the imitation of their predecessors. Hence they have been able to|
|excel all who have gone before them; a degree of merit which the|
|servile herd of imitators can never possibly arrive at.|
Now this conversation in our historian must be universal, that is, with all ranks and degrees of men; for the knowledge of what is called high life will not instruct him in low; nor, _e converso_, will his being acquainted with the inferior part of mankind teach him the manners of the superior. And though it may be thought that the knowledge of either may sufficiently enable him to describe at least that in which he hath been conversant, yet he will even here fall greatly short of perfection; for the follies of either rank do in reality illustrate each other. For instance, the affectation of high life appears more glaring and ridiculous from the simplicity of the low; and again, the rudeness and barbarity of this latter, strikes with much stronger ideas of absurdity, when contrasted with, and opposed to, the politeness which controuls the former. Besides, to say the truth, the manners of our historian will be improved by both these conversations; for in the one he will easily find examples of plainness, honesty, and sincerity; in the other of refinement, elegance, and a liberality of spirit; which last quality I myself have scarce ever seen in men of low birth and education.
Nor will all the qualities I have hitherto given my historian avail him, unless he have what is generally meant by a good heart, and be capable of feeling. The author who will make me weep, says Horace, must first weep himself. In reality, no man can paint a distress well which he doth not feel while he is painting it; nor do I doubt, but that the most pathetic and affecting scenes have been writ with tears. In the same manner it is with the ridiculous. I am convinced I never make my reader laugh heartily but where I have laughed before him; unless it should happen at any time, that instead of laughing with me he should be inclined to laugh at me. Perhaps this may have been the case at some passages in this chapter, from which apprehension I will here put an end to it.
Containing a very surprizing adventure indeed, which Mr Jones met with in his walk with the Man of the Hill.
Aurora now first opened her casement, _Anglice_ the day began to break, when Jones walked forth in company with the stranger, and mounted Mazard Hill; of which they had no sooner gained the summit than one of the most noble prospects in the world presented itself to their view, and which we would likewise present to the reader, but for two reasons: first, we despair of making those who have seen this prospect admire our description; secondly, we very much doubt whether those who have not seen it would understand it.
Jones stood for some minutes fixed in one posture, and directing his eyes towards the south; upon which the old gentleman asked, What he was looking at with so much attention? "Alas! sir," answered he with a sigh, "I was endeavouring to trace out my own journey hither. Good heavens! what a distance is Gloucester from us! What a vast track of land must be between me and my own home!"—"Ay, ay, young gentleman," cries the other, "and by your sighing, from what you love better than your own home, or I am mistaken. I perceive now the object of your contemplation is not within your sight, and yet I fancy you have a pleasure in looking that way." Jones answered with a smile, "I find, old friend, you have not yet forgot the sensations of your youth. I own my thoughts were employed as you have guessed."
They now walked to that part of the hill which looks to the north-west, and which hangs over a vast and extensive wood. Here they were no sooner arrived than they heard at a distance the most violent screams of a woman, proceeding from the wood below them. Jones listened a moment, and then, without saying a word to his companion (for indeed the occasion seemed sufficiently pressing), ran, or rather slid, down the hill, and, without the least apprehension or concern for his own safety, made directly to the thicket, whence the sound had issued.
He had not entered far into the wood before he beheld a most shocking sight indeed, a woman stript half naked, under the hands of a ruffian, who had put his garter round her neck, and was endeavouring to draw her up to a tree. Jones asked no questions at this interval, but fell instantly upon the villain, and made such good use of his trusty oaken stick that he laid him sprawling on the ground before he could defend himself, indeed almost before he knew he was attacked; nor did he cease the prosecution of his blows till the woman herself begged him to forbear, saying, she believed he had sufficiently done his business.
The poor wretch then fell upon her knees to Jones, and gave him a thousand thanks for her deliverance. He presently lifted her up, and told her he was highly pleased with the extraordinary accident which had sent him thither for her relief, where it was so improbable she should find any; adding, that Heaven seemed to have designed him as the happy instrument of her protection. "Nay," answered she, "I could almost conceive you to be some good angel; and, to say the truth, you look more like an angel than a man in my eye." Indeed he was a charming figure; and if a very fine person, and a most comely set of features, adorned with youth, health, strength, freshness, spirit, and good-nature, can make a man resemble an angel, he certainly had that resemblance.
The redeemed captive had not altogether so much of the human-angelic species: she seemed to be at least of the middle age, nor had her face much appearance of beauty; but her cloaths being torn from all the upper part of her body, her breasts, which were well formed and extremely white, attracted the eyes of her deliverer, and for a few moments they stood silent, and gazing at each other; till the ruffian on the ground beginning to move, Jones took the garter which had been intended for another purpose, and bound both his hands behind him. And now, on contemplating his face, he discovered, greatly to his surprize, and perhaps not a little to his satisfaction, this very person to be no other than ensign Northerton. Nor had the ensign forgotten his former antagonist, whom he knew the moment he came to himself. His surprize was equal to that of Jones; but I conceive his pleasure was rather less on this occasion.
Jones helped Northerton upon his legs, and then looking him stedfastly in the face, "I fancy, sir," said he, "you did not expect to meet me any more in this world, and I confess I had as little expectation to find you here. However, fortune, I see, hath brought us once more together, and hath given me satisfaction for the injury I have received, even without my own knowledge."
"It is very much like a man of honour, indeed," answered Northerton, "to take satisfaction by knocking a man down behind his back. Neither am I capable of giving you satisfaction here, as I have no sword; but if you dare behave like a gentleman, let us go where I can furnish myself with one, and I will do by you as a man of honour ought."
"Doth it become such a villain as you are," cries Jones, "to contaminate the name of honour by assuming it? But I shall waste no time in discourse with you. Justice requires satisfaction of you now, and shall have it." Then turning to the woman, he asked her, if she was near her home; or if not, whether she was acquainted with any house in the neighbourhood, where she might procure herself some decent cloaths, in order to proceed to a justice of the peace.
She answered she was an entire stranger in that part of the world. Jones then recollecting himself, said, he had a friend near who would direct them; indeed, he wondered at his not following; but, in fact, the good Man of the Hill, when our heroe departed, sat himself down on the brow, where, though he had a gun in his hand, he with great patience and unconcern had attended the issue.
Jones then stepping without the wood, perceived the old man sitting as we have just described him; he presently exerted his utmost agility, and with surprizing expedition ascended the hill.
The old man advised him to carry the woman to Upton, which, he said, was the nearest town, and there he would be sure of furnishing her with all manner of conveniencies. Jones having received his direction to the place, took his leave of the Man of the Hill, and, desiring him to direct Partridge the same way, returned hastily to the wood.
Our heroe, at his departure to make this enquiry of his friend, had considered, that as the ruffian's hands were tied behind him, he was incapable of executing any wicked purposes on the poor woman. Besides, he knew he should not be beyond the reach of her voice, and could return soon enough to prevent any mischief. He had moreover declared to the villain, that if he attempted the least insult, he would be himself immediately the executioner of vengeance on him. But Jones unluckily forgot, that though the hands of Northerton were tied, his legs were at liberty; nor did he lay the least injunction on the prisoner that he should not make what use of these he pleased. Northerton therefore having given no parole of that kind, thought he might without any breach of honour depart; not being obliged, as he imagined, by any rules, to wait for a formal discharge. He therefore took up his legs, which were at liberty, and walked off through the wood, which favoured his retreat; nor did the woman, whose eyes were perhaps rather turned toward her deliverer, once think of his escape, or give herself any concern or trouble to prevent it.
Jones therefore, at his return, found the woman alone. He would have spent some time in searching for Northerton, but she would not permit him; earnestly entreating that he would accompany her to the town whither they had been directed. "As to the fellow's escape," said she, "it gives me no uneasiness; for philosophy and Christianity both preach up forgiveness of injuries. But for you, sir, I am concerned at the trouble I give you; nay, indeed, my nakedness may well make me ashamed to look you in the face; and if it was not for the sake of your protection, I should wish to go alone."
Jones offered her his coat; but, I know not for what reason, she absolutely refused the most earnest solicitations to accept it. He then begged her to forget both the causes of her confusion. "With regard to the former," says he, "I have done no more than my duty in protecting you; and as for the latter, I will entirely remove it, by walking before you all the way; for I would not have my eyes offend you, and I could not answer for my power of resisting the attractive charms of so much beauty."
Thus our heroe and the redeemed lady walked in the same manner as Orpheus and Eurydice marched heretofore; but though I cannot believe that Jones was designedly tempted by his fair one to look behind him, yet as she frequently wanted his assistance to help her over stiles, and had besides many trips and other accidents, he was often obliged to turn about. However, he had better fortune than what attended poor Orpheus, for he brought his companion, or rather follower, safe into the famous town of Upton.
The arrival of Mr Jones with his lady at the inn; with a very full description of the battle of Upton.
Though the reader, we doubt not, is very eager to know who this lady was, and how she fell into the hands of Mr Northerton, we must beg him to suspend his curiosity for a short time, as we are obliged, for some very good reasons which hereafter perhaps he may guess, to delay his satisfaction a little longer.
Mr Jones and his fair companion no sooner entered the town, than they went directly to that inn which in their eyes presented the fairest appearance to the street. Here Jones, having ordered a servant to show a room above stairs, was ascending, when the dishevelled fair, hastily following, was laid hold on by the master of the house, who cried, "Heyday, where is that beggar wench going? Stay below stairs, I desire you." But Jones at that instant thundered from above, "Let the lady come up," in so authoritative a voice, that the good man instantly withdrew his hands, and the lady made the best of her way to the chamber.
Here Jones wished her joy of her safe arrival, and then departed, in order, as he promised, to send the landlady up with some cloaths. The poor woman thanked him heartily for all his kindness, and said, she hoped she should see him again soon, to thank him a thousand times more. During this short conversation, she covered her white bosom as well as she could possibly with her arms; for Jones could not avoid stealing a sly peep or two, though he took all imaginable care to avoid giving any offence.
Our travellers had happened to take up their residence at a house of exceeding good repute, whither Irish ladies of strict virtue, and many northern lasses of the same predicament, were accustomed to resort in their way to Bath. The landlady therefore would by no means have admitted any conversation of a disreputable kind to pass under her roof. Indeed, so foul and contagious are all such proceedings, that they contaminate the very innocent scenes where they are committed, and give the name of a bad house, or of a house of ill repute, to all those where they are suffered to be carried on.
Not that I would intimate that such strict chastity as was preserved in the temple of Vesta can possibly be maintained at a public inn. My good landlady did not hope for such a blessing, nor would any of the ladies I have spoken of, or indeed any others of the most rigid note, have expected or insisted on any such thing. But to exclude all vulgar concubinage, and to drive all whores in rags from within the walls, is within the power of every one. This my landlady very strictly adhered to, and this her virtuous guests, who did not travel in rags, would very reasonably have expected of her.
Now it required no very blameable degree of suspicion to imagine that Mr Jones and his ragged companion had certain purposes in their intention, which, though tolerated in some Christian countries, connived at in others, and practised in all, are however as expressly forbidden as murder, or any other horrid vice, by that religion which is universally believed in those countries. The landlady, therefore, had no sooner received an intimation of the entrance of the above-said persons than she began to meditate the most expeditious means for their expulsion. In order to this, she had provided herself with a long and deadly instrument, with which, in times of peace, the chambermaid was wont to demolish the labours of the industrious spider. In vulgar phrase, she had taken up the broomstick, and was just about to sally from the kitchen, when Jones accosted her with a demand of a gown and other vestments, to cover the half-naked woman upstairs.
Nothing can be more provoking to the human temper, nor more dangerous to that cardinal virtue, patience, than solicitations of extraordinary offices of kindness on behalf of those very persons with whom we are highly incensed. For this reason Shakespear hath artfully introduced his Desdemona soliciting favours for Cassio of her husband, as the means of inflaming, not only his jealousy, but his rage, to the highest pitch of madness; and we find the unfortunate Moor less able to command his passion on this occasion, than even when he beheld his valued present to his wife in the hands of his supposed rival. In fact, we regard these efforts as insults on our understanding, and to such the pride of man is very difficultly brought to submit.
My landlady, though a very good-tempered woman, had, I suppose, some of this pride in her composition, for Jones had scarce ended his request, when she fell upon him with a certain weapon, which, though it be neither long, nor sharp, nor hard, nor indeed threatens from its appearance with either death or wound, hath been however held in great dread and abhorrence by many wise men—nay, by many brave ones; insomuch, that some who have dared to look into the mouth of a loaded cannon, have not dared to look into a mouth where this weapon was brandished; and rather than run the hazard of its execution, have contented themselves with making a most pitiful and sneaking figure in the eyes of all their acquaintance.
To confess the truth, I am afraid Mr Jones was one of these; for though he was attacked and violently belaboured with the aforesaid weapon, he could not be provoked to make any resistance; but in a most cowardly manner applied, with many entreaties, to his antagonist to desist from pursuing her blows; in plain English, he only begged her with the utmost earnestness to hear him; but before he could obtain his request, my landlord himself entered into the fray, and embraced that side of the cause which seemed to stand very little in need of assistance.
There are a sort of heroes who are supposed to be determined in their chusing or avoiding a conflict by the character and behaviour of the person whom they are to engage. These are said to know their men, and Jones, I believe, knew his woman; for though he had been so submissive to her, he was no sooner attacked by her husband, than he demonstrated an immediate spirit of resentment, and enjoined him silence under a very severe penalty; no less than that, I think, of being converted into fuel for his own fire.
The husband, with great indignation, but with a mixture of pity, answered, "You must pray first to be made able. I believe I am a better man than yourself; ay, every way, that I am;" and presently proceeded to discharge half-a-dozen whores at the lady above stairs, the last of which had scarce issued from his lips, when a swinging blow from the cudgel that Jones carried in his hand assaulted him over the shoulders.
It is a question whether the landlord or the landlady was the most expeditious in returning this blow. My landlord, whose hands were empty, fell to with his fist, and the good wife, uplifting her broom and aiming at the head of Jones, had probably put an immediate end to the fray, and to Jones likewise, had not the descent of this broom been prevented—not by the miraculous intervention of any heathen deity, but by a very natural though fortunate accident, viz., by the arrival of Partridge; who entered the house at that instant (for fear had caused him to run every step from the hill), and who, seeing the danger which threatened his master or companion (which you chuse to call him), prevented so sad a catastrophe, by catching hold of the landlady's arm, as it was brandished aloft in the air.
The landlady soon perceived the impediment which prevented her blow; and being unable to rescue her arm from the hands of Partridge, she let fall the broom; and then leaving Jones to the discipline of her husband, she fell with the utmost fury on that poor fellow, who had already given some intimation of himself, by crying, "Zounds! do you intend to kill my friend?"
Partridge, though not much addicted to battle, would not however stand still when his friend was attacked; nor was he much displeased with that part of the combat which fell to his share; he therefore returned my landlady's blows as soon as he received them: and now the fight was obstinately maintained on all parts, and it seemed doubtful to which side Fortune would incline, when the naked lady, who had listened at the top of the stairs to the dialogue which preceded the engagement, descended suddenly from above, and without weighing the unfair inequality of two to one, fell upon the poor woman who was boxing with Partridge; nor did that great champion desist, but rather redoubled his fury, when he found fresh succours were arrived to his assistance.
Victory must now have fallen to the side of the travellers (for the bravest troops must yield to numbers) had not Susan the chambermaid come luckily to support her mistress. This Susan was as two-handed a wench (according to the phrase) as any in the country, and would, I believe, have beat the famed Thalestris herself, or any of her subject Amazons; for her form was robust and man-like, and every way made for such encounters. As her hands and arms were formed to give blows with great mischief to an enemy, so was her face as well contrived to receive blows without any great injury to herself, her nose being already flat to her face; her lips were so large, that no swelling could be perceived in them, and moreover they were so hard, that a fist could hardly make any impression on them. Lastly, her cheek-bones stood out, as if nature had intended them for two bastions to defend her eyes in those encounters for which she seemed so well calculated, and to which she was most wonderfully well inclined.
This fair creature entering the field of battle, immediately filed to that wing where her mistress maintained so unequal a fight with one of either sex. Here she presently challenged Partridge to single combat. He accepted the challenge, and a most desperate fight began between them.
Now the dogs of war being let loose, began to lick their bloody lips; now Victory, with golden wings, hung hovering in the air; now Fortune, taking her scales from her shelf, began to weigh the fates of Tom Jones, his female companion, and Partridge, against the landlord, his wife, and maid; all which hung in exact balance before her; when a good-natured accident put suddenly an end to the bloody fray, with which half of the combatants had already sufficiently feasted. This accident was the arrival of a coach and four; upon which my landlord and landlady immediately desisted from fighting, and at their entreaty obtained the same favour of their antagonists: but Susan was not so kind to Partridge; for that Amazonian fair having overthrown and bestrid her enemy, was now cuffing him lustily with both her hands, without any regard to his request of a cessation of arms, or to those loud exclamations of murder which he roared forth.
No sooner, however, had Jones quitted the landlord, than he flew to the rescue of his defeated companion, from whom he with much difficulty drew off the enraged chambermaid: but Partridge was not immediately sensible of his deliverance, for he still lay flat on the floor, guarding his face with his hands; nor did he cease roaring till Jones had forced him to look up, and to perceive that the battle was at an end.
The landlord, who had no visible hurt, and the landlady, hiding her well-scratched face with her handkerchief, ran both hastily to the door to attend the coach, from which a young lady and her maid now alighted. These the landlady presently ushered into that room where Mr Jones had at first deposited his fair prize, as it was the best apartment in the house. Hither they were obliged to pass through the field of battle, which they did with the utmost haste, covering their faces with their handkerchiefs, as desirous to avoid the notice of any one. Indeed their caution was quite unnecessary; for the poor unfortunate Helen, the fatal cause of all the bloodshed, was entirely taken up in endeavouring to conceal her own face, and Jones was no less occupied in rescuing Partridge from the fury of Susan; which being happily effected, the poor fellow immediately departed to the pump to wash his face, and to stop that bloody torrent which Susan had plentifully set a-flowing from his nostrils.
In which the arrival of a man of war puts a final end to hostilities, and causes the conclusion of a firm and lasting peace between all parties.
A serjeant and a file of musqueteers, with a deserter in their custody, arrived about this time. The serjeant presently enquired for the principal magistrate of the town, and was informed by my landlord, that he himself was vested in that office. He then demanded his billets, together with a mug of beer, and complaining it was cold, spread himself before the kitchen fire.
Mr Jones was at this time comforting the poor distressed lady, who sat down at a table in the kitchen, and leaning her head upon her arm, was bemoaning her misfortunes; but lest my fair readers should be in pain concerning a particular circumstance, I think proper here to acquaint them, that before she had quitted the room above stairs, she had so well covered herself with a pillowbeer which she there found, that her regard to decency was not in the least violated by the presence of so many men as were now in the room.
One of the soldiers now went up to the serjeant, and whispered something in his ear; upon which he stedfastly fixed his eyes on the lady, and having looked at her for near a minute, he came up to her, saying, "I ask pardon, madam; but I am certain I am not deceived; you can be no other person than Captain Waters's lady?"
The poor woman, who in her present distress had very little regarded the face of any person present, no sooner looked at the serjeant than she presently recollected him, and calling him by his name, answered, "That she was indeed the unhappy person he imagined her to be;" but added, "I wonder any one should know me in this disguise." To which the serjeant replied, "He was very much surprized to see her ladyship in such a dress, and was afraid some accident had happened to her."—"An accident hath happened to me, indeed," says she, "and I am highly obliged to this gentleman" (pointing to Jones) "that it was not a fatal one, or that I am now living to mention it."—"Whatever the gentleman hath done," cries the serjeant, "I am sure the captain will make him amends for it; and if I can be of any service, your ladyship may command me, and I shall think myself very happy to have it in my power to serve your ladyship; and so indeed may any one, for I know the captain will well reward them for it."
The landlady, who heard from the stairs all that past between the serjeant and Mrs Waters, came hastily down, and running directly up to her, began to ask pardon for the offences she had committed, begging that all might be imputed to ignorance of her quality: for, "Lud! madam," says she, "how should I have imagined that a lady of your fashion would appear in such a dress? I am sure, madam, if I had once suspected that your ladyship was your ladyship, I would sooner have burnt my tongue out, than have said what I have said; and I hope your ladyship will accept of a gown, till you can get your own cloaths."
"Prithee, woman," says Mrs Waters, "cease your impertinence: how can you imagine I should concern myself about anything which comes from the lips of such low creatures as yourself? But I am surprized at your assurance in thinking, after what is past, that I will condescend to put on any of your dirty things. I would have you know, creature, I have a spirit above that."
Here Jones interfered, and begged Mrs Waters to forgive the landlady, and to accept her gown: "for I must confess," cries he, "our appearance was a little suspicious when first we came in; and I am well assured all this good woman did was, as she professed, out of regard to the reputation of her house."
"Yes, upon my truly was it," says she: "the gentleman speaks very much like a gentleman, and I see very plainly is so; and to be certain the house is well known to be a house of as good reputation as any on the road, and though I say it, is frequented by gentry of the best quality, both Irish and English. I defy anybody to say black is my eye, for that matter. And, as I was saying, if I had known your ladyship to be your ladyship, I would as soon have burnt my fingers as have affronted your ladyship; but truly where gentry come and spend their money, I am not willing that they should be scandalized by a set of poor shabby vermin, that, wherever they go, leave more lice than money behind them; such folks never raise my compassion, for to be certain it is foolish to have any for them; and if our justices did as they ought, they would be all whipt out of the kingdom, for to be certain it is what is most fitting for them. But as for your ladyship, I am heartily sorry your ladyship hath had a misfortune, and if your ladyship will do me the honour to wear my cloaths till you can get some of your ladyship's own, to be certain the best I have is at your ladyship's service."
Whether cold, shame, or the persuasions of Mr Jones prevailed most on Mrs Waters, I will not determine, but she suffered herself to be pacified by this speech of my landlady, and retired with that good woman, in order to apparel herself in a decent manner.
My landlord was likewise beginning his oration to Jones, but was presently interrupted by that generous youth, who shook him heartily by the hand, and assured him of entire forgiveness, saying, "If you are satisfied, my worthy friend, I promise you I am;" and indeed, in one sense, the landlord had the better reason to be satisfied; for he had received a bellyfull of drubbing, whereas Jones had scarce felt a single blow.
Partridge, who had been all this time washing his bloody nose at the pump, returned into the kitchen at the instant when his master and the landlord were shaking hands with each other. As he was of a peaceable disposition, he was pleased with those symptoms of reconciliation; and though his face bore some marks of Susan's fist, and many more of her nails, he rather chose to be contented with his fortune in the last battle than to endeavour at bettering it in another.
The heroic Susan was likewise well contented with her victory, though it had cost her a black eye, which Partridge had given her at the first onset. Between these two, therefore, a league was struck, and those hands which had been the instruments of war became now the mediators of peace.
Matters were thus restored to a perfect calm; at which the serjeant, though it may seem so contrary to the principles of his profession, testified his approbation. "Why now, that's friendly," said he; "d—n me, I hate to see two people bear ill-will to one another after they have had a tussel. The only way when friends quarrel is to see it out fairly in a friendly manner, as a man may call it, either with a fist, or sword, or pistol, according as they like, and then let it be all over; for my own part, d—n me if ever I love my friend better than when I am fighting with him! To bear malice is more like a Frenchman than an Englishman."
He then proposed a libation as a necessary part of the ceremony at all treaties of this kind. Perhaps the reader may here conclude that he was well versed in antient history; but this, though highly probable, as he cited no authority to support the custom, I will not affirm with any confidence. Most likely indeed it is, that he founded his opinion on very good authority, since he confirmed it with many violent oaths.
Jones no sooner heard the proposal than, immediately agreeing with the learned serjeant, he ordered a bowl, or rather a large mug, filled with the liquor used on these occasions, to be brought in, and then began the ceremony himself. He placed his right hand in that of the landlord, and, seizing the bowl with his left, uttered the usual words, and then made his libation. After which, the same was observed by all present. Indeed, there is very little need of being particular in describing the whole form, as it differed so little from those libations of which so much is recorded in antient authors and their modern transcribers. The principal difference lay in two instances; for, first, the present company poured the liquor only down their throats; and, secondly, the serjeant, who officiated as priest, drank the last; but he preserved, I believe, the antient form, in swallowing much the largest draught of the whole company, and in being the only person present who contributed nothing towards the libation besides his good offices in assisting at the performance.
The good people now ranged themselves round the kitchen fire, where good humour seemed to maintain an absolute dominion; and Partridge not only forgot his shameful defeat, but converted hunger into thirst, and soon became extremely facetious. We must however quit this agreeable assembly for a while, and attend Mr Jones to Mrs Waters's apartment, where the dinner which he had bespoke was now on the table. Indeed, it took no long time in preparing, having been all drest three days before, and required nothing more from the cook than to warm it over again.
An apology for all heroes who have good stomachs, with a description of a battle of the amorous kind.
Heroes, notwithstanding the high ideas which, by the means of flatterers, they may entertain of themselves, or the world may conceive of them, have certainly more of mortal than divine about them. However elevated their minds may be, their bodies at least (which is much the major part of most) are liable to the worst infirmities, and subject to the vilest offices of human nature. Among these latter, the act of eating, which hath by several wise men been considered as extremely mean and derogatory from the philosophic dignity, must be in some measure performed by the greatest prince, heroe, or philosopher upon earth; nay, sometimes Nature hath been so frolicsome as to exact of these dignified characters a much more exorbitant share of this office than she hath obliged those of the lowest order to perform.
To say the truth, as no known inhabitant of this globe is really more than man, so none need be ashamed of submitting to what the necessities of man demand; but when those great personages I have just mentioned condescend to aim at confining such low offices to themselves—as when, by hoarding or destroying, they seem desirous to prevent any others from eating—then they surely become very low and despicable.
Now, after this short preface, we think it no disparagement to our heroe to mention the immoderate ardour with which he laid about him at this season. Indeed, it may be doubted whether Ulysses, who by the way seems to have had the best stomach of all the heroes in that eating poem of the Odyssey, ever made a better meal. Three pounds at least of that flesh which formerly had contributed to the composition of an ox was now honoured with becoming part of the individual Mr Jones.
This particular we thought ourselves obliged to mention, as it may account for our heroe's temporary neglect of his fair companion, who eat but very little, and was indeed employed in considerations of a very different nature, which passed unobserved by Jones, till he had entirely satisfied that appetite which a fast of twenty-four hours had procured him; but his dinner was no sooner ended than his attention to other matters revived; with these matters therefore we shall now proceed to acquaint the reader.
Mr Jones, of whose personal accomplishments we have hitherto said very little, was, in reality, one of the handsomest young fellows in the world. His face, besides being the picture of health, had in it the most apparent marks of sweetness and good-nature. These qualities were indeed so characteristical in his countenance, that, while the spirit and sensibility in his eyes, though they must have been perceived by an accurate observer, might have escaped the notice of the less discerning, so strongly was this good-nature painted in his look, that it was remarked by almost every one who saw him.
It was, perhaps, as much owing to this as to a very fine complexion that his face had a delicacy in it almost inexpressible, and which might have given him an air rather too effeminate, had it not been joined to a most masculine person and mien: which latter had as much in them of the Hercules as the former had of the Adonis. He was besides active, genteel, gay, and good-humoured; and had a flow of animal spirits which enlivened every conversation where he was present.
When the reader hath duly reflected on these many charms which all centered in our heroe, and considers at the same time the fresh obligations which Mrs Waters had to him, it will be a mark more of prudery than candour to entertain a bad opinion of her because she conceived a very good opinion of him.
But, whatever censures may be passed upon her, it is my business to relate matters of fact with veracity. Mrs Waters had, in truth, not only a good opinion of our heroe, but a very great affection for him. To speak out boldly at once, she was in love, according to the present universally-received sense of that phrase, by which love is applied indiscriminately to the desirable objects of all our passions, appetites, and senses, and is understood to be that preference which we give to one kind of food rather than to another.
But though the love to these several objects may possibly be one and the same in all cases, its operations however must be allowed to be different; for, how much soever we may be in love with an excellent surloin of beef, or bottle of Burgundy; with a damask rose, or Cremona fiddle; yet do we never smile, nor ogle, nor dress, nor flatter, nor endeavour by any other arts or tricks to gain the affection of the said beef, &c. Sigh indeed we sometimes may; but it is generally in the absence, not in the presence, of the beloved object. For otherwise we might possibly complain of their ingratitude and deafness, with the same reason as Pasiphae doth of her bull, whom she endeavoured to engage by all the coquetry practised with good success in the drawing-room on the much more sensible as well as tender hearts of the fine gentlemen there.
The contrary happens in that love which operates between persons of the same species, but of different sexes. Here we are no sooner in love than it becomes our principal care to engage the affection of the object beloved. For what other purpose indeed are our youth instructed in all the arts of rendering themselves agreeable? If it was not with a view to this love, I question whether any of those trades which deal in setting off and adorning the human person would procure a livelihood. Nay, those great polishers of our manners, who are by some thought to teach what principally distinguishes us from the brute creation, even dancing-masters themselves, might possibly find no place in society. In short, all the graces which young ladies and young gentlemen too learn from others, and the many improvements which, by the help of a looking-glass, they add of their own, are in reality those very _spicula et faces amoris_ so often mentioned by Ovid; or, as they are sometimes called in our own language, the whole artillery of love.
Now Mrs Waters and our heroe had no sooner sat down together than the former began to play this artillery upon the latter. But here, as we are about to attempt a description hitherto unassayed either in prose or verse, we think proper to invoke the assistance of certain aerial beings, who will, we doubt not, come kindly to our aid on this occasion.
"Say then, ye Graces! you that inhabit the heavenly mansions of Seraphina's countenance; for you are truly divine, are always in her presence, and well know all the arts of charming; say, what were the weapons now used to captivate the heart of Mr Jones."
"First, from two lovely blue eyes, whose bright orbs flashed lightning at their discharge, flew forth two pointed ogles; but, happily for our heroe, hit only a vast piece of beef which he was then conveying into his plate, and harmless spent their force. The fair warrior perceived their miscarriage, and immediately from her fair bosom drew forth a deadly sigh. A sigh which none could have heard unmoved, and which was sufficient at once to have swept off a dozen beaus; so soft, so sweet, so tender, that the insinuating air must have found its subtle way to the heart of our heroe, had it not luckily been driven from his ears by the coarse bubbling of some bottled ale, which at that time he was pouring forth. Many other weapons did she assay; but the god of eating (if there be any such deity, for I do not confidently assert it) preserved his votary; or perhaps it may not be _dignus vindice nodus_, and the present security of Jones may be accounted for by natural means; for as love frequently preserves from the attacks of hunger, so may hunger possibly, in some cases, defend us against love.
"The fair one, enraged at her frequent disappointments, determined on a short cessation of arms. Which interval she employed in making ready every engine of amorous warfare for the renewing of the attack when dinner should be over.
"No sooner then was the cloth removed than she again began her operations. First, having planted her right eye sidewise against Mr Jones, she shot from its corner a most penetrating glance; which, though great part of its force was spent before it reached our heroe, did not vent itself absolutely without effect. This the fair one perceiving, hastily withdrew her eyes, and levelled them downwards, as if she was concerned for what she had done; though by this means she designed only to draw him from his guard, and indeed to open his eyes, through which she intended to surprize his heart. And now, gently lifting up those two bright orbs which had already begun to make an impression on poor Jones, she discharged a volley of small charms at once from her whole countenance in a smile. Not a smile of mirth, nor of joy; but a smile of affection, which most ladies have always ready at their command, and which serves them to show at once their good-humour, their pretty dimples, and their white teeth.
"This smile our heroe received full in his eyes, and was immediately staggered with its force. He then began to see the designs of the enemy, and indeed to feel their success. A parley now was set on foot between the parties; during which the artful fair so slily and imperceptibly carried on her attack, that she had almost subdued the heart of our heroe before she again repaired to acts of hostility. To confess the truth, I am afraid Mr Jones maintained a kind of Dutch defence, and treacherously delivered up the garrison, without duly weighing his allegiance to the fair Sophia. In short, no sooner had the amorous parley ended and the lady had unmasked the royal battery, by carelessly letting her handkerchief drop from her neck, than the heart of Mr Jones was entirely taken, and the fair conqueror enjoyed the usual fruits of her victory."
Here the Graces think proper to end their description, and here we think proper to end the chapter.
A friendly conversation in the kitchen, which had a very common, though not very friendly, conclusion.
While our lovers were entertaining themselves in the manner which is partly described in the foregoing chapter, they were likewise furnishing out an entertainment for their good friends in the kitchen. And this in a double sense, by affording them matter for their conversation, and, at the same time, drink to enliven their spirits.
There were now assembled round the kitchen fire, besides my landlord and landlady, who occasionally went backward and forward, Mr Partridge, the serjeant, and the coachman who drove the young lady and her maid.
Partridge having acquainted the company with what he had learnt from the Man of the Hill concerning the situation in which Mrs Waters had been found by Jones, the serjeant proceeded to that part of her history which was known to him. He said she was the wife of Mr Waters, who was a captain in their regiment, and had often been with him at quarters. "Some folks," says he, "used indeed to doubt whether they were lawfully married in a church or no. But, for my part, that's no business of mine: I must own, if I was put to my corporal oath, I believe she is little better than one of us; and I fancy the captain may go to heaven when the sun shines upon a rainy day. But if he does, that is neither here nor there; for he won't want company. And the lady, to give the devil his due, is a very good sort of lady, and loves the cloth, and is always desirous to do strict justice to it; for she hath begged off many a poor soldier, and, by her good-will, would never have any of them punished. But yet, to be sure, Ensign Northerton and she were very well acquainted together at our last quarters; that is the very right and truth of the matter. But the captain he knows nothing about it; and as long as there is enough for him too, what does it signify? He loves her not a bit the worse, and I am certain would run any man through the body that was to abuse her; therefore I won't abuse her, for my part. I only repeat what other folks say; and, to be certain, what everybody says, there must be some truth in."—"Ay, ay, a great deal of truth, I warrant you," cries Partridge; "_Veritas odium parit_"—"All a parcel of scandalous stuff," answered the mistress of the house. "I am sure, now she is drest, she looks like a very good sort of lady, and she behaves herself like one; for she gave me a guinea for the use of my cloaths."—"A very good lady indeed!" cries the landlord; "and if you had not been a little too hasty, you would not have quarrelled with her as you did at first."—"You need mention that with my truly!" answered she: "if it had not been for your nonsense, nothing had happened. You must be meddling with what did not belong to you, and throw in your fool's discourse."—"Well, well," answered he; "what's past cannot be mended, so there's an end of the matter."—"Yes," cries she, "for this once; but will it be mended ever the more hereafter? This is not the first time I have suffered for your numscull's pate. I wish you would always hold your tongue in the house, and meddle only in matters without doors, which concern you. Don't you remember what happened about seven years ago?"—"Nay, my dear," returned he, "don't rip up old stories. Come, come, all's well, and I am sorry for what I have done." The landlady was going to reply, but was prevented by the peace-making serjeant, sorely to the displeasure of Partridge, who was a great lover of what is called fun, and a great promoter of those harmless quarrels which tend rather to the production of comical than tragical incidents.
The serjeant asked Partridge whither he and his master were travelling? "None of your magisters," answered Partridge; "I am no man's servant, I assure you; for, though I have had misfortunes in the world, I write gentleman after my name; and, as poor and simple as I may appear now, I have taught grammar-school in my time; _sed hei mihi! non sum quod fui_."—"No offence, I hope, sir," said the serjeant; "where, then, if I may venture to be so bold, may you and your friend be travelling?"—"You have now denominated us right," says Partridge. "_Amici sumus._ And I promise you my friend is one of the greatest gentlemen in the kingdom" (at which words both landlord and landlady pricked up their ears). "He is the heir of Squire Allworthy."—"What, the squire who doth so much good all over the country?" cries my landlady. "Even he," answered Partridge.—"Then I warrant," says she, "he'll have a swinging great estate hereafter."—"Most certainly," answered Partridge.—"Well," replied the landlady, "I thought the first moment I saw him he looked like a good sort of gentleman; but my husband here, to be sure, is wiser than anybody."—"I own, my dear," cries he, "it was a mistake."—"A mistake, indeed!" answered she; "but when did you ever know me to make such mistakes?"—"But how comes it, sir," cries the landlord, "that such a great gentleman walks about the country afoot?"—"I don't know," returned Partridge; "great gentlemen have humours sometimes. He hath now a dozen horses and servants at Gloucester; and nothing would serve him, but last night, it being very hot weather, he must cool himself with a walk to yon high hill, whither I likewise walked with him to bear him company; but if ever you catch me there again: for I was never so frightened in all my life. We met with the strangest man there."—"I'll be hanged," cries the landlord, "if it was not the Man of the Hill, as they call him; if indeed he be a man; but I know several people who believe it is the devil that lives there."—"Nay, nay, like enough," says Partridge; "and now you put me in the head of it, I verily and sincerely believe it was the devil, though I could not perceive his cloven foot: but perhaps he might have the power given him to hide that, since evil spirits can appear in what shapes they please."—"And pray, sir," says the serjeant, "no offence, I hope; but pray what sort of a gentleman is the devil? For I have heard some of our officers say there is no such person; and that it is only a trick of the parsons, to prevent their being broke; for, if it was publickly known that there was no devil, the parsons would be of no more use than we are in time of peace."—"Those officers," says Partridge, "are very great scholars, I suppose."—"Not much of schollards neither," answered the serjeant; "they have not half your learning, sir, I believe; and, to be sure, I thought there must be a devil, notwithstanding what they said, though one of them was a captain; for methought, thinks I to myself, if there be no devil, how can wicked people be sent to him? and I have read all that upon a book."—"Some of your officers," quoth the landlord, "will find there is a devil, to their shame, I believe. I don't question but he'll pay off some old scores upon my account. Here was one quartered upon me half a year, who had the conscience to take up one of my best beds, though he hardly spent a shilling a day in the house, and suffered his men to roast cabbages at the kitchen fire, because I would not give them a dinner on a Sunday. Every good Christian must desire there should be a devil for the punishment of such wretches."—"Harkee, landlord," said the serjeant, "don't abuse the cloth, for I won't take it."—"D—n the cloth!" answered the landlord, "I have suffered enough by them."—"Bear witness, gentlemen," says the serjeant, "he curses the king, and that's high treason."—"I curse the king! you villain," said the landlord. "Yes, you did," cries the serjeant; "you cursed the cloth, and that's cursing the king. It's all one and the same; for every man who curses the cloth would curse the king if he durst; so for matter o' that, it's all one and the same thing."—"Excuse me there, Mr Serjeant," quoth Partridge, "that's a _non sequitur_."—"None of your outlandish linguo," answered the serjeant, leaping from his seat; "I will not sit still and hear the cloth abused."—"You mistake me, friend," cries Partridge. "I did not mean to abuse the cloth; I only said your conclusion was a _non sequitur_.[*]"—"You are another," cries the serjeant," an you come to that. No more a _sequitur_ than yourself. You are a pack of rascals, and I'll prove it; for I will fight the best man of you all for twenty pound." This challenge effectually silenced Partridge, whose stomach for drubbing did not so soon return after the hearty meal which he had lately been treated with; but the coachman, whose bones were less sore, and whose appetite for fighting was somewhat sharper, did not so easily brook the affront, of which he conceived some part at least fell to his share. He started therefore from his seat, and, advancing to the serjeant, swore he looked on himself to be as good a man as any in the army, and offered to box for a guinea. The military man accepted the combat, but refused the wager; upon which both immediately stript and engaged, till the driver of horses was so well mauled by the leader of men, that he was obliged to exhaust his small remainder of breath in begging for quarter.
|[*] This word, which the serjeant unhappily mistook for an affront,|
|is a term in logic, and means that the conclusion does not follow|
|from the premises.|
The young lady was now desirous to depart, and had given orders for her coach to be prepared; but all in vain, for the coachman was disabled from performing his office for that evening. An antient heathen would perhaps have imputed this disability to the god of drink, no less than to the god of war; for, in reality, both the combatants had sacrificed as well to the former deity as to the latter. To speak plainly, they were both dead drunk, nor was Partridge in a much better situation. As for my landlord, drinking was his trade; and the liquor had no more effect on him than it had on any other vessel in his house.
The mistress of the inn, being summoned to attend Mr Jones and his companion at their tea, gave a full relation of the latter part of the foregoing scene; and at the same time expressed great concern for the young lady, "who," she said, "was under the utmost uneasiness at being prevented from pursuing her journey. She is a sweet pretty creature," added she, "and I am certain I have seen her face before. I fancy she is in love, and running away from her friends. Who knows but some young gentleman or other may be expecting her, with a heart as heavy as her own?"
Jones fetched a heavy sigh at those words; of which, though Mrs Waters observed it, she took no notice while the landlady continued in the room; but, after the departure of that good woman, she could not forbear giving our heroe certain hints on her suspecting some very dangerous rival in his affections. The aukward behaviour of Mr Jones on this occasion convinced her of the truth, without his giving her a direct answer to any of her questions; but she was not nice enough in her amours to be greatly concerned at the discovery. The beauty of Jones highly charmed her eye; but as she could not see his heart, she gave herself no concern about it. She could feast heartily at the table of love, without reflecting that some other already had been, or hereafter might be, feasted with the same repast. A sentiment which, if it deals but little in refinement, deals, however, much in substance; and is less capricious, and perhaps less ill-natured and selfish, than the desires of those females who can be contented enough to abstain from the possession of their lovers, provided they are sufficiently satisfied that no one else possesses them.
Containing a fuller account of Mrs Waters, and by what means she came into that distressful situation from which she was rescued by Jones.
Though Nature hath by no means mixed up an equal share either of curiosity or vanity in every human composition, there is perhaps no individual to whom she hath not allotted such a proportion of both as requires much arts, and pains too, to subdue and keep under;—a conquest, however, absolutely necessary to every one who would in any degree deserve the characters of wisdom or good breeding.
As Jones, therefore, might very justly be called a well-bred man, he had stifled all that curiosity which the extraordinary manner in which he had found Mrs Waters must be supposed to have occasioned. He had, indeed, at first thrown out some few hints to the lady; but, when he perceived her industriously avoiding any explanation, he was contented to remain in ignorance, the rather as he was not without suspicion that there were some circumstances which must have raised her blushes, had she related the whole truth.
Now since it is possible that some of our readers may not so easily acquiesce under the same ignorance, and as we are very desirous to satisfy them all, we have taken uncommon pains to inform ourselves of the real fact, with the relation of which we shall conclude this book.
This lady, then, had lived some years with one Captain Waters, who was a captain in the same regiment to which Mr Northerton belonged. She past for that gentleman's wife, and went by his name; and yet, as the serjeant said, there were some doubts concerning the reality of their marriage, which we shall not at present take upon us to resolve.
Mrs Waters, I am sorry to say it, had for some time contracted an intimacy with the above-mentioned ensign, which did no great credit to her reputation. That she had a remarkable fondness for that young fellow is most certain; but whether she indulged this to any very criminal lengths is not so extremely clear, unless we will suppose that women never grant every favour to a man but one, without granting him that one also.
The division of the regiment to which Captain Waters belonged had two days preceded the march of that company to which Mr Northerton was the ensign; so that the former had reached Worcester the very day after the unfortunate re-encounter between Jones and Northerton which we have before recorded.
Now, it had been agreed between Mrs Waters and the captain that she would accompany him in his march as far as Worcester, where they were to take their leave of each other, and she was thence to return to Bath, where she was to stay till the end of the winter's campaign against the rebels.
With this agreement Mr Northerton was made acquainted. To say the truth, the lady had made him an assignation at this very place, and promised to stay at Worcester till his division came thither; with what view, and for what purpose, must be left to the reader's divination; for, though we are obliged to relate facts, we are not obliged to do a violence to our nature by any comments to the disadvantage of the loveliest part of the creation.
Northerton no sooner obtained a release from his captivity, as we have seen, than he hasted away to overtake Mrs Waters; which, as he was a very active nimble fellow, he did at the last-mentioned city, some few hours after Captain Waters had left her. At his first arrival he made no scruple of acquainting her with the unfortunate accident; which he made appear very unfortunate indeed, for he totally extracted every particle of what could be called fault, at least in a court of honour, though he left some circumstances which might be questionable in a court of law.
Women, to their glory be it spoken, are more generally capable of that violent and apparently disinterested passion of love, which seeks only the good of its object, than men. Mrs Waters, therefore, was no sooner apprized of the danger to which her lover was exposed, than she lost every consideration besides that of his safety; and this being a matter equally agreeable to the gentleman, it became the immediate subject of debate between them.
After much consultation on this matter, it was at length agreed that the ensign should go across the country to Hereford, whence he might find some conveyance to one of the sea-ports in Wales, and thence might make his escape abroad. In all which expedition Mrs Waters declared she would bear him company; and for which she was able to furnish him with money, a very material article to Mr Northerton, she having then in her pocket three bank-notes to the amount of L90, besides some cash, and a diamond ring of pretty considerable value on her finger. All which she, with the utmost confidence, revealed to this wicked man, little suspecting she should by these means inspire him with a design of robbing her. Now, as they must, by taking horses from Worcester, have furnished any pursuers with the means of hereafter discovering their route, the ensign proposed, and the lady presently agreed, to make their first stage on foot; for which purpose the hardness of the frost was very seasonable.
The main part of the lady's baggage was already at Bath, and she had nothing with her at present besides a very small quantity of linen, which the gallant undertook to carry in his own pockets. All things, therefore, being settled in the evening, they arose early the next morning, and at five o'clock departed from Worcester, it being then above two hours before day, but the moon, which was then at the full, gave them all the light she was capable of affording.
Mrs Waters was not of that delicate race of women who are obliged to the invention of vehicles for the capacity of removing themselves from one place to another, and with whom consequently a coach is reckoned among the necessaries of life. Her limbs were indeed full of strength and agility, and, as her mind was no less animated with spirit, she was perfectly able to keep pace with her nimble lover.
Having travelled on for some miles in a high road, which Northerton said he was informed led to Hereford, they came at the break of day to the side of a large wood, where he suddenly stopped, and, affecting to meditate a moment with himself, expressed some apprehensions from travelling any longer in so public a way. Upon which he easily persuaded his fair companion to strike with him into a path which seemed to lead directly through the wood, and which at length brought them both to the bottom of Mazard Hill.
Whether the execrable scheme which he now attempted to execute was the effect of previous deliberation, or whether it now first came into his head, I cannot determine. But being arrived in this lonely place, where it was very improbable he should meet with any interruption, he suddenly slipped his garter from his leg, and, laying violent hands on the poor woman, endeavoured to perpetrate that dreadful and detestable fact which we have before commemorated, and which the providential appearance of Jones did so fortunately prevent.
Happy was it for Mrs Waters that she was not of the weakest order of females; for no sooner did she perceive, by his tying a knot in his garter, and by his declarations, what his hellish intentions were, than she stood stoutly to her defence, and so strongly struggled with her enemy, screaming all the while for assistance, that she delayed the execution of the villain's purpose several minutes, by which means Mr Jones came to her relief at that very instant when her strength failed and she was totally overpowered, and delivered her from the ruffian's hands, with no other loss than that of her cloaths, which were torn from her back, and of the diamond ring, which during the contention either dropped from her finger, or was wrenched from it by Northerton.
Thus, reader, we have given thee the fruits of a very painful enquiry which for thy satisfaction we have made into this matter. And here we have opened to thee a scene of folly as well as villany, which we could scarce have believed a human creature capable of being guilty of, had we not remembered that this fellow was at that time firmly persuaded that he had already committed a murder, and had forfeited his life to the law. As he concluded therefore that his only safety lay in flight, he thought the possessing himself of this poor woman's money and ring would make him amends for the additional burthen he was to lay on his conscience.
And here, reader, we must strictly caution thee that thou dost not take any occasion, from the misbehaviour of such a wretch as this, to reflect on so worthy and honourable a body of men as are the officers of our army in general. Thou wilt be pleased to consider that this fellow, as we have already informed thee, had neither the birth nor education of a gentleman, nor was a proper person to be enrolled among the number of such. If, therefore, his baseness can justly reflect on any besides himself, it must be only on those who gave him his commission.