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down, my resolutions were changed by meeting an old acquaintance, who I found belonged to a company of comedians that were going to make a summer campaign in the country. The company seemed not much to disapprove of me for an associate. They all, however, apprised me of the importance of the task at which I aimed; that the public was a many-headed monster, and that only such as had very good heads could please it: that acting was not to be learned in a day; and that without some traditional shrugs, which had been on the stage, and only on the stage, these hundred years, I could never pretend to please. The next difficulty was in fitting me with parts, as almost every character was in keeping. I was driven for some time from one character to another, till at last Horatio was fixed upon, which the presence of the present company has happily hindered me from acting.”
THE SHORT CONTINUANCE OF FRIENDSHIP AMONGST THE VICIOUS,
WHICH IS COEVAL ONLY WITH MUTUAL SATISFACTION.
My son's account was too long to be delivered at once ; the first part of it was begun that night, and he was concluding the rest after dinner the next day, when the appearance of Mr Thornhill's equipage at the door seemed to make a pause in the general satisfaction. The butler, who was now become my friend in the family, informed me, with a whisper, that the Squire had already made some overtures to Miss Wilmot, and that her aunt and uncle seemed highly to approve the match. Upon Mr Thornhill's entering, he seemed, at seeing my son and me, to start back ; but I readily imputed that to surprise, and not displeasure. However, upon our advancing to salute him, he returned our greeting with the most apparent candour; and after a short time his presence served only to increase the general good humour.
After tea he called me aside to inquire after my daughter: but upon my informing him that my inquiry was unsuccessful, he seemed greatly surprised ; adding that he had been since frequently at my house in order to comfort the rest of my family, whom he left perfectly well. He then asked if I communicated her misfortune to Miss Wilmot or my son; and upon my replying that I had not told them as yet, he greatly approved my prudence and precaution, desiring me by all means to keep it a secret : “ For at best,” cried he, “ it is but divulging one's own infamy; and perhaps Miss Livy may not be so guilty as we all imagine.” We were here interrupted by a servant who came to ask the Squire in, to stand up at country-dances : so that he left me quite pleased with the interest he seemed to take in my concerns. His addresses, however, to Miss Wilmot, were too obvious to be mistaken : and yet, she seemed not perfectly pleased, but bore them rather in compliance to the will of her aunt than real inclination. I had even the satisfaction to see her lavish some kind looks upon my unfortunate son, which the other could neither extort by his fortune nor assiduity. Mr Thornhill's seeming composure, however, not a little surprised me: we had now continued here a week at the pressing instances of Mr Arnold ; but each day the more tenderness Miss Wilmot shewed my son, Mr Thornhill's friendship seemed proportionably to increase for him.
He had formerly made us the most kind assurances of using his interest to serve the family ; but now his generosity was not confined to promises alone. The morning I designed for my departure, Mr Thornhill came to me with looks of real pleasure, to inform me of a piece of service he had done for his friend George. This was nothing less than his having procured him an ensign's commission in one of the regiments that was going to the West Indies, for which he had promised but one hundred pounds, his interest having been sufficient to get an abatement of the other two. “ As for this trifling piece of service,” continued the young gentleman, “ I desire no other reward but the pleasure of having served my friend ; and as for the hundred pounds to be paid, if you are unable to raise it yourselves, I will advance it, and you shall repay me at your leisure.” This was a favour we wanted words to express our sense of : I readily, therefore, gave my bond for the money, and testified as much gratitude as if I never intended to pay. : George was to depart for town the next day, to secure his commission, in pursuance of his generous patron's directions, who judged it highly expedient to use despatch, lest, in the meantime, another should step in with more advantageous proposals. The next morning, therefore, our young soldier was early prepared for his departure, and seemed the only person among us that was not affected by it. Neither the fatigues and dangers he was going to encounter, nor the friends and mistress— for Miss Wilmot actually loved him
- he was leaving behind, any way damped his spirits. After he had taken leave of the rest of the company, I gave him all I had, - my blessing. “And now, my boy,” cried I, “ thou art going to fight for thy country: remember how thy brave grandfather fought for his sacred king, when loyalty among Britons was a virtue. Go, my boy, and imitate him in all but his misfortunes, if it was a misfortune to die with Lord Falkland. Go, my boy, and if you fall, though distant, exposed, and unwept by those that love you, the most precious tears are those with which heaven bedews the unburied head of a soldier."
The next morning I took leave of the good family, that had been kind enough to entertain me so long, not without several expressions of gratitude to Mr Thornhill for his late bounty. I left them in the enjoyment of all that hap, piness which affluence and good breeding procure, and returned towards home, despairing of ever finding my daughter more, but sending a sigh to Heaven to spare and to forgive her. I was now come within about twenty miles of home, having hired a horse to carry me, as I was yet but weak, and comforted myself with the hopes of soon seeing all I held dearest upon earth. But the night coming on, I put up at a little public house by the road side, and asked for the landlord's company over a pint of wine. We sat beside his kitchen fire, which was the best room in the house, and chatted on politics and the news of the country. We happened, among other topics, to talk of young Squire Thornhill, who, the host assured me, was hated as much as his uncle Sir William, who sometimes came down to the country, was loved. He went on to observe, that he made it his whole study to betray the daughters of such as received him to their houses, and, after a fortnight or three weeks' possession, turned them out unrewarded and abandoned to the world. As we continued our discourse in this manner, his wife, who had been out to get change, returned, and perceiving that her husband was enjoying a pleasure in which she was not a sharer, she asked him, in an angry tone, what he did there? to which he only replied, in an ironical
way, by drinking her health. “ Mr Symmonds,” cried she, " you use me very ill, and I'll bear it no longer. Here three parts of the business is left for me to do, and the fourth left unfinished, while you do nothing bat soak with the guests all day long; whereas, if a spoonful of liquor were to cure me of a fever, I never touch
a drop.” I now found what she would be at, and immediately poured her out a glass, which she received with a curtsy, and, drinking towards my good health, “ Sir," resumed she, “ it is not so much for the value of the liquor I am angry, but one cannot help it when the house is going out of the windows. If the customers or guests are to be dunned, all the burden lies upon my back : he'd as lief eat that glass as budge after them himself. There, now, above stairs, we have a young woman who has come to take up her lodgings bere, and I don't believe she has got any money, by her over civility. I am certain she is very slow of payment, and I wish she were put in mind of it.' -“ What signifies minding her ?” cried the host ; “ if she be slow, she is sure.”—“ I don't know that,” replied the wife ; “ but I know that I am sure she has been here a fortnight, and we have not yet seen the cross of her money." --" I suppose, my dear,” cried he “ we shall have it all in a lump.' "In a lump !” cried the other :
“ I hope we may get it any way ; and that I am resolved we will this very night, or out she tramps, bag and baggage.” -“Consider, my dear,” cried the husband, “ she is a gentlewoman, and deserves more respect.”. -“ As for the matter of that,” returned the hostess, “gentle or simple, out she shall pack with a sassarara. Gentry may be good things where they take ; but, for my part, I never saw much good of them at the sign of the Harrow." Thus saying, she ran up a narrow fight of stairs that went from the kitchen to a room over-head ; and I soon perceived, by the loudness of her voice, and the bitterness of her reproaches, that no money was to be had from her lodger. I could hear her remonstrances very distinctly : “ Out, I say ; pack out this moment! tramp, thou infamous strumpet, or I'll give thee a mark thou won't be the better for this three months. What ! you trumpery, to come and take up an honest house without cross or coin to bless yourself with ; come along, I say!”—“Oh, dear madam," cried the stranger,
pity me-- pity a poor abandoned creature, for one night, and death will soon do the rest!” I instantly knew the
voice of my poor ruined child Olivia. I flew to her rescue, while the woman was dragging her along by the hair, and I caught the dear forlorn wretch in my arms. “ Welcome, any way welcome, my dearest lost one--my treasure to your poor old father's bosom! Though the vicious forsake thee, there is yet one in the world that will never forsake thee; though thou hadst ten thousand crimes to answer for, he will forget them all!”. "Oh, my own dear-” for minutes she could say no more my own dearest good papa! Could angels be kinder? How do I deserve so much ? The villain, I hate him and myself
, to be a reproach to so much goodness! You can't forgive me, I know you cannot.” “ Yes, my child, from my heart I do forgive thee; only repent, and we both shall yet be happy. We shall see many pleasant days yet, my Olivia.”* Ah! never, sir,
The rest of my wretched life must be infamy abroad, and shame at home. But, alas! papa, you look much paler than you used to do. Could such a thing as I am give you so much uneasiness ? Surely you have too much wisdom to take the miseries of my guilt upon yourself." — -“ Our wisdom, young woman," replied I.~“ Ab, why so cold a name, papa ?” cried she.
« This is the first time you ever called me by so cold a name.”- I ask pardon, my darling,” returned I; “ but I was going to observe, that wisdom makes but a slow defence against trouble, though at last a sure one.” The landlady now returned to know if we did not choose a more genteel apartment ; to which assenting; we were shewn a room where we could converse more freely. After we had talked ourselves into some degree of tranquillity,
could not avoid desiring some account of the gradations that led her to her present wretched situation. “ That villain, sir," said she," from the first day of our meeting, made me honourable, though private proposals."
“ Villain, indeed!” cried I : “ and yet it in some measure surprises me, how a person of Mr Burchell's good sense and seeming honour could be guilty of such deliberate baseness, and thus step into a family to undo it."
My dear papa,” returned my daughter, “ you labour under a strange mistake. Mr Burchell never attempted to deceive me : instead of that, be took every opportunity of privately admonishing me against the artifices of Mr Thornhill, who, 1 now find, was even worse than he represented him." Mr Thornhill !” interrupted I;
can it be?”.