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ing all I held dearest upon earth. night coming on, I put up at a little publichouse 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. Symonds," 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 but 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 courtesy; 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 lodging here, 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 sussarara. 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 flight of stairs that went from the kitchen to a room overhead; 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 mo. ment! 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 her 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, never. 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.-" Ah, 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 shown a room where we could converse more freely. After we had talked ourselves into some degree of tranquillity, I 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, he took every oppor tunity of privately admonishing me against the artifices of Mr. Thornhill, who, I now find, was even worse than he represented him."-" Mr. Thornhill!" interrupted I; 'can it be?"-"Yes, sir," returned she, "it was Mr. Thornhill who seduced me; who employed the two ladies, as he called them, but who in fact were abandoned women of the town, without breeding or pity, to decoy us up to London. Their artifices, you may remember, would have certainly succeeded, but for Mr. Burchell's letter, who directed those reproaches at them which we all applied to ourselves. How he came to have so much influence as to defeat their intentions still remains a secret to me; but I am convinced he was ever our warmest, sincerest friend."
"You amaze me, my dear,” cried I ;"but now I find my first suspicions of Mr.Thornhill's baseness were too well grounded:
but he can triumph in security; for he is rich, and we are poor. But tell me, my
child, sure it was no small temptation that could thus obliterate all the impressions of such an education and so virtuous a disposition as thine?"
"Indeed, sir," replied she," he owes all his triumph to the desire I had of making him, and not myself, happy. I knew that the ceremony of our marriage, which was privately performed by a popish priest, was no way binding, and that I had nothing to trust to but his honour."- "What!" interrupted I, "and were you indeed married by a priest in orders?"-"Indeed, sir, we were," replied she, "though we were both sworn to conceal his name."—"Why then, my child, come to my arms again; and now you are a thousand 'times more welcome than before; for you are now his wife to all intents and purposes; nor can all the laws of man, though written upon tables of adamant, lessen the force of that sacred connexion."
Alas, papa!" replied she, "you are but little acquainted with his villanies: he has been married already by the same priest to six or eight wives more, whom, like me, he has deceived and abandoned."
"Has he so?" cried 1; "then we must hang the priest, and you shall inform against him to-morrow.' But, sir," returned she, "will that be right, when I am sworn to secresy?"-"My dear," I replied, "if you have made such a promise, I cannot, nor will I tempt you to break it. Even though it may benefit the public, you must not inform against him. In all human institutions a smaller evil is allowed to procure a greater good; as, in politics, a province may be given away to secure a king. dom; in medicine, a limb may be lopped off to preserve the body: but in religion, the law is written, and inflexible, never to do evil. And this law, my child, is right; for otherwise, if we commit a smaller evil to procure a greater good, certain guilt would be thus incurred, in expectation of contingent advantage. And though the advantage should certainly follow, yet the interval between commission and advan tage, which is allowed to be guilty, may be that in which we are called away to answer for the things we have done, and
the volume of human actions is closed for
ever. But I interrupt you, my dear; go
"The very next morning," continued she, "I found what little expectation I was to have from his sincerity. That very morning he introduced me to two unhappy women more, whom, like me, he had deceived, but who lived in contented prostitution. I loved him too tenderly to bear such rivals in his affections, and strove to forget my infamy in a tumult of pleasures. With this view I danced, dressed, and talked; but still was unhappy. The gentlemen who visited there told me every moment of the power of my charms, and this only contributed to increase my melancholy, as I had thrown all their power quite away. Thus each day I grew more pensive, and he more insolent, till at last the monster had the assurance to offer me to a young baronet of his acquaintance. Need I describe, sir, how his ingratitude stung me? My answer to this proposal was almost madness. I desired to part. As I was going, he offered me a purse; but I flung it at him with indignation, and burst from him in a rage, that for a while kept me insensible of the miseries of my situation. But I soon looked round me, and saw myself a vile, abject, guilty thing, without one friend in the world to apply to. Just in that interval, a stage coach happening to pass by, I took a place, it being my only aim to be driven at a distance from a wretch I despised and detested. I was set down here, where, since my arrival, my own anxiety and this woman's unkindness have been my only companions. The hours of pleasure that I have passed with my mamma and sister now grow painful to me. Their sorrows are much; but mine are greater than theirs, for mine are mixed with guilt and infamy."
"Have patience, my child," cried I," and I hope things will yet be better. Take some repose to-night, and to-morrow I'll carry you home to your mother and the rest of the family, from whom you will receive a kind reception. Poor woman! this has gone to her heart; but she loves you still, Olivia, and will forget it."
Offences are easily pardoned, where there is Love at bottom.
THE next morning I took my daughter behind me, and set out on my return home. As we travelled along, I strove, by every persuasion, to calm her sorrows and fears, and to arm her with resolution to bear the presence of her offended mother. I took every opportunity, from the prospect of a fine country, through which we passed, to observe how much kinder Heaven was to us than we to each other; and that the misfortunes of Nature's making were very few. I assured her, that she should never perceive any change in my affections, and that, during my life, which yet might be long, she might depend upon a guardian and an instructor. Î armed her against the censure of the world, showed her that books were sweet unreproaching companions to the miserable, and that, if they could not bring us to enjoy life, they would at least teach us to endure it.
The hired horse that we rode was to be put up that night at an inn by the way, within about five miles from my house; and as I was willing to prepare my family for my daughter's reception, I determined to leave her that night at the inn, and to return for her, accompanied by my daughter Sophia, early the next morning. It was night before we reached our appointed stage; however, after seeing her provided with a decent apartment, and having ordered the hostess to prepare proper refreshments, I kissed her, and proceeded towards home. And now my heart caught new sensations of pleasure, the nearer I approached that peaceful mansion. As a bird that had been frighted from its nest, my affections outwent my haste, and hovered round my little fireside with all the rapture of expectation. I called up the many fond things I had to say, and anticipated the welcome I was to receive. I already felt my wife's tender embrace, and smiled at the joy of my little ones. As I walked but slowly, the night waned apace. The labourers of the day were all retired to rest; the lights were out in every cottage; no sounds were heard but of the shrilling cock, and the deep-mouthed
watch-dog, at hollow distance. I approached my little abode of pleasure, and, before I was within a furlong of the place, our honest mastiff came running to wel
It was now near midnight that I came to knock at my door: all was still and silent my heart dilated with unutterable happiness, when, to my amazement, I saw the house bursting out in a blaze of fire, and every aperture red with conflagration. I gave a loud convulsive outcry, and fell: upon the pavement, insensible. This alarmed my son, who had, till this, been asleep; and he, perceiving the flames, instantly waked my wife and daughter; and all running out, naked, and wild with apprehension, recalled me to life with their anguish. But it was only to objects of new terror; for the flames had, by this time, caught the roof of our dwelling, part after part continuing to fall in, while the family stood, with silent agony, looking on, as if they enjoyed the blaze. I gazed upon them and upon it by turns, and then looked round me for my two little ones; but they were not to be seen. O misery! "Where," cried I, "where are my little ones?"-"They are burnt to death in the flames," said my wife, calmly, " and I will die with them." That moment I heard the cry of the babes within, who were just awaked by the fire, and nothing could have stopped me. "Where, where are my children?" cried I, rushing through the flames, and bursting the door of the chamber in which they were confined!— "Where are my little ones?"-"Here, dear papa, here we are," cried they together, while the flames were just catching the bed where they lay. I caught them both in my arms, and snatched them through the fire as fast as possible, while, just as I was got out, the roof sunk in. "Now," cried I, holding up my children, now let the flames burn on, and all my possessions perish. Here they are; I have saved my treasure. Here, my dearest, here are our treasures, and we shall yet be happy." We kissed our little darlings a thousand times; they clasped us round the neck, and seemed to share our transports, while their mother laughed and wept by turns.
I now stood a calm spectator of the
flames; and, after some time, began to perceive that my arm to the shoulder was scorched in a terrible manner. It was, therefore, out of my power to give my son any assistance, either in attempting to save our goods, or preventing the flames spreading to our corn. By this time the neighbours were alarmed, and came running to our assistance; but all they could do was to stand, like us-spectators of the calamity.
My goods, among which were the notes I had reserved for my daughters' fortunes, were entirely consumed, except a box with some papers that stood in the kitchen, and two or three things more of little consequence, which my son brought away in the beginning. The neighbours contributed, however, what they could to lighten our distress. They brought us clothes, and furnished one of our outhouses with kitchen utensils; so that by daylight we had another, though a wretched dwelling to retire to. My honest next neighbour and his children were not the least assiduous in providing us with everything necessary, and offering whatever consolation untutored benevolence could suggest.
When the fears of my family had subsided, curiosity to know the cause of my long stay began to take place: having therefore informed them of every particular, I proceeded to prepare them for the reception of our lost one; and though we had nothing but wretchedness now to impart, I was willing to procure her a welcome to what we had. This task would have been more difficult but for our recent calamity, which had humbled my wife's pride, and blunted it by more poignant afflictions. Being unable to go for my poor child myself, as my arm grew very painful, I sent my son and daughter, who soon returned, supporting the wretched delinquent, who had not the courage to look up at her mother, whom no instructions of mine could persuade to a perfect reconciliation; for women have a much stronger sense of female error than men.
Ah, madam," cried her mother, "this is but a poor place you are come to after so much finery. My daughter Sophy and I can afford but little entertainment to persons who have kept company only with people of distinction, Yes, Miss Livy,
your poor father and I have suffered very much of late; but I hope Heaven will forgive you." During this reception, the unhappy victim stood pale and trembling, unable to weep or to reply: but I could not continue a silent spectator of her distress; wherefore, assuming a degree of severity in my voice and manner, which was ever followed with instant submission, "I entreat, woman, that my words may be now marked once for all: I have here brought you back a poor deluded wanderer; her return to duty demands the revival of our tenderness. ships of life are now coming fast upon us; The real hardlet us not, therefore, increase them by dissension among each other. harmoniously together, we may yet be conIf we live tented, as there are enough of us to shut out the censuring world, and keep each other in countenance. The kindness of Heaven is promised to the penitent, and let ours be directed by the example. Heaven, we are assured, is much more pleased to view a repentant sinner, than ninety-nine persons who have supported a course of undeviating rectitude. is right; for that single effort by which And this we stop short in the down-hill path to perdition, is itself a greater exertion of virtue than a hundred acts of justice."
None but the Guilty can be long and completely miserable. SOME assiduity was now required to make our present abode as convenient as possible, and we were soon again qualified to enjoy our former serenity. Being disabled myself from assisting my son in our usual occupations, I read to my family from the few books that were saved, and particularly from such as, by amusing the imagination, contributed to ease the heart. Our good neighbours, too, came every day, with the kindest condolence, and fixed a time in which they were all to assist at repairing my former dwelling. Farmer Williams was not last among these Honest visitors; but heartily offered his friendship. He would even have renewed his addresses to my daughter; but she rejected him in such a manner, as totally repressed his future solicitations. Her grief seemed
formed for continuing, and she was the 55 only person of our little society that a week did not restore to cheerfulness. She now lost that unblushing innocence which once taught her to respect herself, and to seek pleasure by pleasing. Anxiety now had beauty began to be impaired with her contaken strong possession of her mind; her stitution, and neglect still more contributed to diminish it. Every tender epithet bestowed on her sister brought a pang to her heart, and a tear to her eye; and as one vice, though cured, ever plants others though driven out by repentance, left jeawhere it has been, so her former guilt, lousy and envy behind. forgot my own pain in a concern for hers, sand ways to lessen her care, and even I strove a thoucollecting such amusing passages of history as a strong memory and some reading could suggest. "Our happiness, my dear,' I would say, "is in the power of One who can bring it about a thousand unforeseen ways, that mock our foresight. If example be necessary to prove this, I'll give you a story, my child, told us by a grave though sometimes a romancing historian.
Neapolitan nobleman of the first quality, "Matilda was married very young to a and found herself a widow and a mother at the age of fifteen. As she stood one day caressing her infant son in the open the river Volturna, the child with a sudwindow of an apartment which hung over den spring leaped from her arms into the flood below, and disappeared in a mosurprise, and making an effort to save him, ment. The mother, struck with instant plunged in after; but far from being able difficulty escaped to the opposite shore, just to assist the infant, she herself with great when some French soldiers were plundering the country on that side, who immediately made her their prisoner.
the French and Italians with the utmost "As the war was then carried on between inhumanity, they were going at once to by appetite and cruelty. This base resoperpetrate those two extremes suggested lution, however, was opposed by a young officer, who, though their retreat required the utmost expedition, placed her behind him, and brought her in safety to his native city. Her beauty at first caught his eye;