Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 17 Scarcely Any Virtue Found to Resist the Power of Long an_leasing Temptation.

  • As I only studied my child's real happiness, the assiduity of Mr. William_leased me, as he was in easy circumstance, prudent, and sincere. It require_ut very little encouragement to revive his former passion; so that in a_vening or two he and Mr. Thornhill met at our house and surveyed each othe_or some time with looks of anger; but Williams owed his landlord no rent, an_ittle regarded his indignation. Olivia, on her side, acted the coquette t_erfection, if that might be called acting which was her real character, pretending to lavish all her tenderness on her new lover. Mr. Thornhil_ppeared quite dejected at this preference, and with a pensive air took leave; though I own it puzzled me to find him in so much pain as he appeared to be, when he had it in his power so easily to remove the cause by declaring a_onorable passion. But whatever uneasiness he seemed to endure, it coul_asily be perceived that Olivia's anguish was still greater. After any o_hese interviews between her lovers, of which there were several, she usuall_etired to solitude, and there indulged her grief. It was in such a situatio_ found her one evening, after she had been for some time supporting _ictitious gayety. "You now see, my child," said I, "that your confidence i_r. Thornhill's passion was all a dream; he permits the rivalry of another, every way his inferior, though he knows it lies in his power to secure you t_imself by a candid declaration."-"Yes, papa," returned she "but he has his
  • 'reasons for this delay: I know he has. The sincerity of his looks and word_onvinces me of his real esteem. A short time, I hope, will discover th_enerosity of his sentiments, and convince you that my opinion of him has bee_ore just than yours."-"Olivia, my darling," returned I, "every scheme tha_as been hitherto pursued to compel him to a declaration, has been propose_nd planned by yourself; nor can you in the least say that I have constraine_ou. But you must not suppose, my dear, that I will ever be instrumental i_uffering his honest rival to be the dupe of your ill-placed passion. Whateve_ime you require to bring your fancied admirer to an explanation shall b_ranted; but at the expiration of that term, if he is still regardless, I mus_bsolutely insist that honest Mr. Williams shall be rewarded for his fidelity.
  • The character which I have hitherto supported in life demands this from me, and my tenderness as a parent shall never influence my integrity as a man.
  • Name, then, your day; let it be as distant as you think proper, and in th_eantime take care to let Mr. Thornhill know the exact time on which I desig_elivering you up to another. If he really loves you, his own good sense wil_eadily suggest that there is but one method alone to prevent his losing yo_orever." This proposal, which she could not avoid considering as perfectl_ust, was readily agreed to. She again renewed her most positive promise o_arrying Mr. Williams in case of the other's insensibility; and at the nex_pportunity, in Mr. Thornhill's presence, that day month was fixed upon fo_er nuptials with his rival.
  • Such vigorous proceedings seemed to redouble Mr. Thornhill's anxiety; but wha_livia really felt gave me some uneasiness. In this struggle between prudenc_nd passion, her vivacity quite forsook her, and every opportunity of solitud_as sought, and spent in tears. One week passed away; but Mr. Thornhill mad_o efforts to restrain her nuptials. The succeeding week he was stil_ssiduous; but not more open. On the third he discontinued his visit_ntirely; and instead of my daughter testifying any impatience, as I expected, she seemed to retain a pensive tranquillity, which I looked upon a_esignation. For my own part, I was now sincerely pleased with thinking tha_y child was going to be secured in a continuance of competence and peace, an_requently applauded her resolution, in preferring happiness to ostentation.
  • It was within about four days of her intended nuptials, that my little famil_t night were gathered round a charming fire, telling stories of the past, an_aying schemes for the future. Busied in forming a thousand projects, an_aughing at whatever folly came uppermost, "Well, Moses," cried I, "we shal_oon, my boy, have a wedding in the family; what is your opinion of matter_nd things in general?"-"My opinion, father, is that all things go on ver_ell; and I was just now thinking, that when sister Livy is married to Farme_illiams, we shall then have the loan of his cider-press and brewing tubs fo_othing.""That we shall, Moses," cried I, "and he will sing us 'Death and th_ady' to raise our spirits, into the bargain."-"He has taught that song to ou_ick," cried Moses; "and I think he goes through it very prettily."-"Does h_o?" cried I; "then let us have it: where is little Dick? let him up with i_oldly."-"My brother Dick," cried Bill, my youngest, "is just gone out wit_ister Livy; but Mr. Williams has taught me two songs, and I'll sing them fo_ou, papa. Which song do you choose, 'The Dying Swan' or 'The Elegy on th_eath of a Mad Dog'?"-"The elegy, child, by all means," said I; "I never hear_hat yet; and Deborah, my life, grief you know is dry, let us have a bottle o_he best gooseberry-wine, to keep up our spirits. I have wept so much at al_orts of elegies of late, that without an enlivening glass I am sure this wil_vercome me: and Sophy, love, take your guitar, and trum in with the boy _ittle."
  • AN ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF A MAD DOG
  • Good people all, of every sort,
  • Give ear unto my song,
  • And if you find it wondrous short,
  • It cannot hold you long.
  • In Islington there was a man,
  • Of whom the world might say,
  • That still a godly race he ran,
  • Whene'er he went to pray.
  • A kind and gentle heart he had,
  • To comfort friends and foes;
  • The naked every day he clad
  • When he put on his clothes.
  • And in that town a dog was found,
  • As many dogs there be,
  • Both mongrel, puppy, whelp, and hound,
  • And curs of low degree.
  • This dog and man at first were friends;
  • But when a pique began,
  • The dog, to gain some private ends,
  • Went mad and bit the man.
  • Around from all the neighboring streets,
  • The wondering neighbors ran,
  • And swore the dog had lost his wits,
  • To bite so good a man.
  • The wound it seem'd both sore and sad
  • To every Christian eye;
  • And while they swore the dog was mad,
  • They swore the man would die.
  • But soon a wonder came to light,
  • That showed the rogues they lied;
  • The man recovered of the bite,
  • The dog it was that died.
  • "A very good boy, Bill, upon my word; and an elegy that may truly be calle_ragical. Come, my children, here's Bill's health, and may he one day be _ishop!"
  • "With all my heart," cried my wife; "and if he but preaches as well as h_ings, I make no doubt of him. The most of his family, by the mother's side, could sing a good song; it was a common saying in our country that the famil_f the Blenkinsops could never look straight before them, nor the Hugginson_low out a candle; that there were none of the Grograms but could sing a song, or of the Marjorams but could tell a story."-"However that be," cried I, "th_ost vulgar ballad of them all generally pleases me better than the fin_odern odes, and things that petrify us in a single stanza; productions tha_e at once detest and praise. Put the glass to your brother, Moses. The grea_ault of these elegiasts is, that they are in despair for griefs that give th_ensible part of mankind very little pain. A lady loses her muff, her fan, he_apdog, and so the silly poet runs home to versify the disaster."
  • "That may be the mode," cried Moses, "in sublimer compositions; but th_anelagh songs that come down to us are perfectly familiar, and all cast i_he same mould: Colin meets Dolly, and they hold a dialogue together; he give_er a fairing to put in her hair, and she presents him with a nosegay; an_hen they go together to church, where they give good advice to young nymph_nd swains to get married as fast as they can."
  • "And very good advice, too," cried I; "and I am told there is not a place i_he world where advice can be given with so much propriety as there; for, a_t persuades us to marry, it also furnishes us with a wife; and surely tha_ust be an excellent market, my boy, where we are told what we want, an_upplied with it when wanting." "Yes, sir," returned Moses, "and I know but o_wo such markets for wives in Europe Ranelagh in England, and Fontarabia i_pain. The Spanish market is open once a year, but our English wives ar_alable every night."
  • "You are right, my boy," cried his mother. "Old England is the only place i_he world for husbands to get wives."-"And for wives to manage thei_usbands," interrupted I. "It is a proverb abroad, that if a bridge were buil_cross the sea, all the ladies of the Continent would come over and tak_attern from ours; for there are no such wives in Europe as our own. But le_s have one bottle more, Deborah, my life, and Moses, give us a good song.
  • What thanks do we not owe to Heaven for thus bestowing tranquillity, health, and competence. I think myself happier now than the greatest monarch upo_arth. He has no such fireside, nor such pleasant faces about it. Yes, Debborah, we are now growing old; but the evening of our life is likely to b_appy. We are descended from ancestors that knew no stain, and we shall leav_ good and virtuous race of children behind us. While we live they will be ou_upport and our pleasure here, and when we die they will transmit our hono_ntainted to posterity. Come, my son, we wait for a song; let us have _horus. But where is my darling Olivia? That little cherub's voice is alway_weetest in the concert."
  • Just as I spoke Dick came running in: "O papa, papa, she is gone from us, sh_s gone from us! my sister Livy is gone from us for ever!"-"Gone, child!"-"Yes, she is gone off with two gentlemen in a postchaise, and one o_hem kissed her, and said he would die for her; and she cried very much, an_as for coming back; but he persuaded her again, and she went into the chaise, and said: 'O what will my poor papa do when he knows I am undone!' "-"Now, then," cried I, "my children, go and be miserable; for we shall never enjo_ne hour more. And 0 may Heaven's everlasting fury light upon him and his!
  • Thus to rob me of my child! And sure it will, for taking back my swee_nnocent that I was leading up to Heaven. Such sincerity as my child wa_ossessed of! But all our earthly happiness is now over! Go, my children, g_nd be miserable and infamous; for my heart is broken within me!"-"Father,"
  • cried my son, "is this your fortitude?"-"Fortitude, child! Yes, he shall see _ave fortitude! Bring me my pistols. I'll pursue the traitor. While he is o_arth, I'll pursue him. Old as I am, he shall find I can sting him yet. Th_illain! the perfidious villain!" I had by this time reached down my pistols, when my poor wife, whose passions were not so strong as mine, caught me in he_rms. "My dearest, dearest husband," cried she, "the Bible is the only weapo_hat is fit for your old hands now. Open that, my love, and read our anguis_nto patience, for she has vilely deceived us."-"Indeed, sir," resumed my son, after a pause, "your rage is too violent and unbecoming. You should be m_other's comforter; and you increase her pain. It ill-suited you and you_everend character, thus to curse your greatest enemy; you should not hav_ursed him, villain as he is."-"I did not curse him, child, did I?"-"Indeed, sir, you did; you cursed him twice."-"Then may Heaven forgive me and him if _id. And now, my son, I see it was more than human benevolence that firs_aught us to bless our enemies, Blessed be His holy name for all the good H_ath given, and for all that He hath taken away. But it is not, it is not _mall distress that can wring tears from these old eyes, that have not wep_or so many years. My child! To undo my darling!-May confusion seize Heave_orgive me, what I am about to say! You may remember, my love, how good sh_as, and how charming; till this vile moment all her care was to make u_appy. Had she but died! But she is gone, the honor of our famil_ontaminated, and I must look out for happiness in other worlds tha_ere.-But, my child, you saw them go off; perhaps he forced her away? If h_orced her, she may yet be innocent."-"Ah, no, sir," cried the child; "he onl_issed her and called her his angel; and she wept very much, and leaned upo_is arm, and they drove off very fast."-"She's an ungrateful creature," crie_y wife, who could scarcely speak for weeping, "to use us thus; she never ha_he least constraint put upon her affections. The vile strumpet has basel_eserted her parents without any provocation, thus to bring your gray hairs t_he grave, and I must shortly follow."
  • In this manner that night, the first of our real misfortunes, was spent in th_itterness of complaint, and ill-supported sallies of enthusiasm. _etermined, however, to find out her betrayer, wherever he was, and reproac_is baseness. The next morning we missed our wretched child at breakfast, where she used to give life and cheerfulness to us all. My wife, as befor_ttempted to ease her heart by reproaches. "Never," cried she, "shall tha_ilest stain of our family again darken these harmless doors. I will neve_all her daughter more. No, let the strumpet live with her vile seducer; sh_ay bring us to shame, but she shall never more deceive us."
  • "Wife," said I, "do not talk thus hardly; my detestation of her guilt is a_reat as yours; but ever shall this house and this heart be open to a poo_eturning repentant sinner. The sooner she returns from her transgression, th_ore welcome shall she be to me. For the first time the very best may err; ar_ay persuade, and novelty spread out its charm. The first fault is the chil_f simplicity; but every other the offspring of guilt. Yes, the wretche_reature shall be welcome to this heart and this house, though stained wit_en thousand vices. I will again hearken to the music of her voice, again wil_ hang fondly on her bosom, if I find but repentance there. My son, brin_ither my Bible and my staff; I will pursue her wherever she is; and though _annot save her from shame, I may prevent the continuance of iniquity."