[ocr errors]

by reflecting, that he incurred it by obedience to his father; and though it precluded hopes that were dearer than life, yet he never expressed his displeasure either by invective or complaint. Orgilio had very early in life contracted an intimacy with Agrestis, a gentleman whose character and principles were very different from his own. Agrestis had very just notions of right and wrong, by which he regulated his conduct, without any regard to the opinion of others: his integrity was universal and inflexible, and his temper ardent and open; he abhorred whatever had the appearance of disingenuity, he was extremely jealous of his authority, and there was a rough simplicity in his manner which many circumstances of his life had contributed to produce. His father left him a fortune of two hundred thousand pounds; but as the parsimony which enabled him to amass it, extended to the education of his son by whom it was to be possessed, he had been taught neither politeness nor literature. He married Amelia, a lady whose influence would, by degrees, have polished the rough diamond: but she died within the first year of her marriage, leaving him a daughter to whom he gave her name, and transfered all his affection: he therefore, continued to live in great privacy; and being used to have only servants and dependants about him, he indulged the peculiarities of his humour without that complaisance which becomes insensibly habitual to those, who mix in the company of persons whom it is their apparent interest to please, and whose presence is a perpetual restraint upon such irregular starts of temper as would incur contempt by arrogating a superiority which none would acknowledge. To this disposition his daughter accomodated herself as she grew up, from motives both of affection and duty: as he knew and regretted the defect of his own education, he spared no cost to complete her's; and she is indeed the most accomplished character I ever knew: her obedience is cheer

not, however faulter in his resolution, nor did Amelia change her conduct. It happened that about this time she was addressed by Ventosus, the eldest son of a noble family; who, besides a large estate, had great expectations from his father's influence at court. Ventosus, though he was strongly recommended by Agrestis, and was remarkable for personal accomplishments, was yet received with great coldness by Amelia: he was surprised, mortified, and disappointed; yet he continued his visits and was very diligent to discover what had prevented his success. One evening, just as he was about to take his leave, after much ineffectual entreaty and complaint, Eugenio unexpectedly entered the room. Ventosus instantly remarked the embarrassment both of his mistress and the stranger, whom he therefore supposed to be a rival, and no longer wondered at his own disappointment: these suspicions were every moment confirmed and increased; for his presence produced emotions which could neither be concealed nor mistaken; though by a less penetrating eye than that of jealousy, they might have been overlooked. He was now fired with resentment and indignation; and having left the room somewhat abruptly, he was met upon the stairs by Agrestis, with whom he desired to speak a few words in private. Agrestis turned back into another apartment, and Ventosus told him, with some warmth, that he did not expect to have found his daughter pre-engaged; and that he could not help thinking himself ill treated. Agrestis, with equal warmth, required him to explain his meaning; and after some time had been spent in eager altercation, they parted in better temper; Agrestis persuaded that a clandestine love had been carried on between his daughter and Eugenio, and Ventosus convinced that Agrestis had never encouraged the pretensions of his rival. Agrestis immediately sent for Amelia, and sternly urged her with many questions, which she could only answer with

blushes and tears: her silence and confusion convinced him that Ventosus was not mistaken; and, therefore, desisting from enquiry, he severely reprehended her for the past, and enjoined her never to converse with Eugenio again; to whom he also signified his displeasure, and requested that to prevent farther uneasiness he would come no more to his house till Amelia should be married. Eugenio, though his love was almost hopeless before, was yet greatly afflicted by this message; because he feared that Amelia had fallen under her father's displeasure, and that now he was become jealous of his authority, he might be tempted to abuse it. As to secure her peace was the principal object of his wish, he concealed what had happened from his father, lest a quarrel should be produced between him and Agrestis, in which Amelia's delicacy and tenderness would be yet more deeply wounded. When a visit was intended to Agrestis, he always took care to have some engagement at another place: Agrestis, however, as he had no conception of the principles upon which Eugenio acted, did not doubt but that he had communicated the reason of his absence to his father, and that his father was secretly offended; but as he expressed no resentment, he believed that his ambition had for once restrained the petulance of his pride, that he dissembled to prevent an open rupture, and had still hopes of effecting the purpose which he had concerted with his son.

A suspicion of ill-will always produces it; but besides this cause of alienation, Agrestis had unjustly imputed a conduct to his friend, which rendered him the object of his contempt and aversion; he therefore, treated him with coldness and reserve, supposing that he well knew the cause, and neglected to return his visits without thinking it necessary to assign any reason. This conduct was at length remarked by Orgilio, who considered it as the caprice of a character which he always despised; he, therefore, retorted the


neglect without expostulation: and thus all intercourse between the families was at an end. Eugenio in the mean time was inflexible in his purpose; and Amelia, in her next interview with Ventosus, acquainted him that she would see him no more. Ventosus again appealed to her father; but the old gentleman was steady in his principles, notwithstanding his resentment; and told him, that he had exerted all the authority which God and nature had given him in his favour; and that, however provoked, he would never prostitute his child, by compelling her to marry a person who was not the object of her choice.

Ventosus, who was extremely mortified at this disappointment, was very inquisitive about Eugenio, for whom he still supposed he had been rejected: he soon learned his situation and circumstances, and his long intimacy with Amelia; he reflected upon the confusion which both had expressed in the accidental interview at which he was present; and was willing to believe, that his rival, however contemptible, had been too successful to be supplanted with honour by a hus band: this, however, if he did not believe, he was very diligent to propagate; and to remove the disgrace of a refusal, hinted that for this reason he had abruptly discontinued his addresses, and congratu lated himself upon his escape. It happened

that about six weeks ago, Ventosus, as he was walking in the Mall, with a young officer of distinction, met Amelia in company of several ladies and a gentleman. He thought fit to bow to Amelia with a supercilious respect, which had greatly the air of an insult; of this compliment Amelia, though she looked him in the face, took no notice: by this calm disdain he was at once disappointed and confounded; he was stung by an effort of his own malignity, and his breast swelled with passion which he could not vent. In this agitation of mind he hastily turned back, and determined, for whatever reason, to follow her. After he

had advanced about fifty paces, he saw Eugenio com1ing forward, who the moment he perceived Amelia, turned into another walk. This was observed by Ventosus, whose contempt and indignation had now another object, upon which they might without violence to the laws of honour be gratified; he communicated his purpose to his companion, and hastily followed Eugenio. When they had overtaken him, they burst into a horse laugh, and pushed so rudely by him, that he could scarce recover his step: they did not, however go on; but stopping suddenly, turned about, as if to apologize for the accident, and affected great surprise at discovering to whom it had happened. Ventosus bowed very low, and with much contemptuous ceremony begged his pardon; telling him at the same time, that there was a lady in the next walk who would be very glad of his company. To this insult Eugenio answered, 'That he was not willing to suppose that an affront was intended, and that if the lady he meant was a woman of honour, she ought always to be mentioned with respect.' Ventosus replied, That whether the lady he meant was a woman of honour, he would not determine; but he believed she had been very kind; and was pleased to see that her favours were not forgotten, though they 'were no longer accepted.' Eugenio was not now master of his temper, but turning suddenly upon Ventosus, struck him with such violence that he fell at his feet: he rose, however in an instant, and laid his hand upon his sword, but was prevented from drawing it by his companion; and the crowd beginning to gather about them, they parted with mutual expressions of contempt and rage.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

In the morning the officer who had been in company with Ventosus at the quarrel, delivered a challenge to Eugenio, which he answered by the following billet. 'Sir, Your behaviour last night has convinced me that you are a scoundrel; and your letter this

« VorigeDoorgaan »