« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
ments: At length, It does not signify, James, says the, it may as well be done at first as at lait, and I will break my mind to you. Have you any mind to be married,
James? If you have, why come along, and don't be affraid of nothing.'
'James had not lived in our part of the town; if he had, the good intentions of the lady would have met with a more favourable reception. He was not without inclina-. tion either to his mistress, or what he might expect to get by her; but the fear of the gallows supplied the place of honesty, as it has done on many a similar occasion with greater men than James; and under pretence of going to get a hackney coach to carry them off, he found means to disclose the whole matter to the father. James had a crown given him by way of reward for his honesty ; the lady was locked up for a quarter of a year, and somebody else was always fent of his master's errands to this family for the future.
· Caution was never among the number of our young lady's good qualities. She had given no great proof of her reserve in declaring me at first fight very like this faith. less youth; but as the parents knew I could have had no intimation of that affair, and as between their own good lessons and those of the governess, they took it for granted that the lady was now thoroughly cured of such mean noticns as liking servants, they were in no sort of care about it. This however, though I then knew nothing of the matter, the reader will find was a circumstance not a little in my favour; and there was another thing which added to the security of the parents on this head. When my master had enquired after my character of lady Calm, he had not contented himself with what the lady told him, but like a prudent man, who knew the kitchen was the part of the house where the family-secrets were most known, he had descended thither, and lifted the inhabitants as to my behaviour, and the reasons of my leaving my place. The accounts he received from these people perfe&tly confirmed the good character the lady had given me, and on pushing his enquiries farther, he was told by an upper fervant, by way of a profound fecret, that I was always a vast favourite of my lady's, that my going away was what nobody ever thought of; that it was owing to some difpute which nobody knew any thing of but ourselves; and in fine, that notwithstanding I chose to be disguised like a.
fervant at present, I was a great gentleman, and so the world would fee one day or other.
My master had looked upon this last circumstance as a paltry trick at the time when he heard it, otherwise, in all probability, he would have made some farther enquiries into it, before he admitted me into his family. Though he had laughed at it then, he took it into his head afterwards to believe it was not without foundation; and on the strength of that opinion he took occafion, one morning when we were in the compting house, to address me in this manner: 461 have all the reason in the world to be satisfied with your behaviour, fir, says he; but I have something to name to you, that will give you a better sense of the opinion I have of you than a dry compliment: My daughter likes you, she has told me fo, and she says she believes you do not dislike her. You see I have a son who has a title to a considerable share of what I shall be worth, but I shall not turn out the girl-empty: I can at present command forty thousand pounds: I employ it in trade that I may get it to fixty, and I can't take much of it out at this time with convenience. I can give her four thousand down, and I will give four more when I die or retire from business: I know you are a gentleman, though you have chose to be in this disguise ; if it suits you to make a fair settlement in proportion, and you like the girl, why take her; if not, why be upon honour that you will not take any advantage of what I have told you, and continue with me as you are as long as you find it convenient to yourself.”
I was startled at the honest frankness and generosity of the propofal: I assured my master he had been misinformed as-to my affairs, and after thanking him for the favour he had intended me, I told him that as it was not in my power to accept of it on the equal terms under which he offered it, I never would presume to think of it at all: but that if he could confide in my conduct, I should be happy to continue with him in the station I at present held. He shook me by the hand with great heartinefs and friendship, told me I was an honest young man, and he would trust his whole fortune with me : and adding that he wished things would have answered for me to be a match for his daughter; and that he knew I should have more honour than to think any thing about it, as they did not; he left me with orders for the business of the remainder of the day, and went to the exchange with a heart as easy as if he had never thought of the disappointment he had met with.
• To do justice to this plain honest man, I am to confess that his behaviour did not from this time alter toward me: but with my lady and mistress it was otherwise. She could not bear to have a servant in the house that knew her, daughter was in love with him, and the found an easy way to rid herself of the incumbrance, by making my post ve. ry disagreeable to me. I had fallen into a sober turn: I grew not only satisfied but pleased with the quiet and retired life I lived among the people of business, and but for the consequences of this incident, I believe I should never have quitted it. How little do we see into futurity, and on how trivial accidents do the most important things of our lives turn!
"I found the intention of my lady and mistress; and I found it would be necessary to obey it. I told my
master of it with all that frankness and tranquility I had learnt from him on the former occasion: he said he was heartily forry, but he could not deny but I was in the right: and promised to enquire after a better place for me among his acquaintance. He was as good as his word : I was engaged by a man of vast dealings and fortune as the second in his compting-house, and only waited my present master's providing himself with another to go to my new place. In this interval I had been late on a message of civility into the farther part of Bishop/gate-street, and was returning with an appointment for a country expedition for the next day, when a great noise called me across the way to a confiderable cluster of people who were surrounding an old gen tleman and two young fellows in naval uniforms. The old man was bleeding from a wound on his head; one of the young fellows was threatening him with farther resentment, and the other, whose back was towards these two faced the mob, and with his sword drawn in his hand kept them all at bay. On enquiry into the cause of the disturbance, I found it arose from the old gentleman's not getting out of their way as they were rccling along, which a lameness from the gout had rendered impossible for him to do with sufficient expedition, and which they were pleased to call taking the wall of gentlemen who bore the king's commiffion.
« The mob were instant with the constable to knock them down: the hero who stood on the defensive threatened immediate death to any that offered to lift up a staff, or but to ftir one step nearer them, and the unhappy victim to their relentment was at once receiving more blows and in
'treating pardon. I flipped between the wall and the back of the hero who was insulting the weak and inoffensive perfon, and snatching at the hilt of his sword, got it out of the scabbard before he was aware of the attempt, the mob huzza'd and drew back: I placed myself in a posture bem fore the hero who had the other sword, and told him if he did not instantly surrender to the officer of justice I would kill him. His answer was, thruft at me, I parried it, and seeing there was nothing else for it, 'ran him through just below the shoulder. He fell with the wound, which was a very painful, though not a dangerous one; his companion in the confusion escaped; the old gentleman was conducted home, and the wounded person to the round-house.
• Incidents of this kind are so uncommon in the city that every part of the neighbourhood was in the morning full of the praises of the person who had occasioned the taking the villain: I had no ambition to be known about it; but a servant of my master's banker having been one of the mob, told every body who it was that had done it. I had even had the moderation to say nothing of this at home, so that the surprise of my master on feeing me receive a handsome present in a bank-note from the gentleman whose life I had probably saved, was what it would not be easy to express. I received the congratulations of all the people about us on the occasion; and my master, who loved me heartily and honestly, charmed with the fine things that were said of my courage and generosity on this occafion, shrugged up his shoulders, and told them he did not at all wonder at it,
be would they, if they knew all: that I was a gentleman, a lord for any thing he knew, in disguise : that every body knew it very well where I came from, and that he had offered me his daughter for a wife, and I had refused her.
! I dare believe this worthy and generous man intended nothing but my service in all that he had faid; and the reader will probably be of opinion that the incident, and all its circumstances, ought to have recommended me to the people among whom I was: but different persons see the same object under different lights : my new master fent me an excuse about the place, and a small present by way of making me amends for the disappointment: and I found it was universally whispered about, that I had better go
back to the part' of the town I came from, for they did not want any disguised gentleman or fighting clerks in the city.
• I have often, on the recollecting the several passages of my life, thought that I have a right to complain; as many of the most distressful scenes of it have been such as I neither had expected nor could be fairly said to deserve. The confequence of my libertinism in the service of lady Revell I do not rank among that number of unmerited misfortunes, but this new one surely I have a right to class with them At a time when I had reduced my expectations to what I saw before me; when I had found the way, by my honest industry, to support myfelf in a manner that I was satisfied with, to have then, while under engagements that seemed to secure it to me, an accident which it would have been base to have avoided, under which it was virtuous to act as I did, and from which I had a right to expect favour and advantages, misunderstood and misrepresented in such a manner as to turn me once more again a drift in the world, exposed to ruin, and divested of every hope of what appeared just before a certainty of happiness to me; all this surely is a just reason of complaint. I had learned the art of fubmitting to what it was impoflible to avoid. I tried to reconcile my intended master_to my conduct and character, but in vain: my present one was much my friend, he told me I deceived myself if I imagined I should ever be able to set myself upon any footing again in the city; and adding, that he thought me excellently qualified for making my fortune at the other end of the town, by obtaining a post iți some of the offices, as a reward to my service in a nobleman's family, he recommended it to me to throw myself into the way of it.
"I used all the necessary means to find a place at the polite end of the town, but long in vain. It was an ill time of the year, most of the families worth serving were in the country, and the rest had no changes in them, as the fervants did not think it worth while to leave even bad places, till the time of getting into good ones should come. My master had a new servant in my post, but he generously gave me the protection of his house till I should be provided for.
i One day as the family were at dinner, a violent ring. ing of the bell fummoned me, who was the only idle person in the house, to the gate. I had no sooner opened it than a very elegant female figure appeared rising out of a chair ; but in an instant the mixed smell of the shoe-cleaner's implements, and the occafional deluges at the doorposts struck her down again. She held her nose as she funk