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he, perceiving the flames, instantly awaked my
wife and daughter, and all running out, naked, CHAP. XXII.
and wild with apprehension, recalled me to life
with their anguish. But it was only to objects Offences are easily pardoned where there is love at of new terror, for the flames had by this time bottom.
caught the roof of our dwelling, part after part
continuing to fall in, while the family stood with The next morning I took my daughter behind silent agony looking on, as if they enjoyed the me, and set out on my return home. As we blaze. I gazed upon them and upon it by turns, travelled along, I strove by every persuasion to and then looked round me for my two little ones; calm her sorrows and fears, and to arm her with but they were not to be seen. “Omisery! where,” resolution to bear the presence of her offended cried I, “ where are my little ones?"_" They mother. I took every opportunity, from the pros- are burnt to death in the flames," said my wife pect of a fine country, through which we pass- calmly," and I will die with them.” That moed, to observe how much kinder Heaven was to ment I heard the cry of the babes within, who us than we to each other; and that the misfor- were just awakened by the fire, and nothing tunes of nature's making were but very few. I could have stopped me. “Where, where are my assured her, that she should never perceive any children?” cried I, rushing through the flames, change in my affections; and that during my life, and bursting the door of the chamber in which which yet might be long, she might depend up- they were confined.-"Where are my little on a guardian and an instructor. I armed her ones?"_“Here, dear papa, here we are !" cried against the censure of the world, shewed her that they together, while the flames were just catchbooks were sweet unreproaching companions to ing the bed where they lay. I caught them both the miserable ; and that if they could not bring in my arms, and conveyed them through the us to enjoy life, they would at least teach us to fire as fast as possible, while, just as I was got endure it.
out, the roof sunk in. “Now,” cried I, holdThe hired horse that we rode was to be put ing up iny children,“ now let the flames burn up that night at an inn by the way, within about on, and all my possessions perish ; here they are five miles from my house; and as I was willing -I have saved my treasure: here, my dearest, to prepare my family for my daughter's reception, here are our treasures, and we shall be happy." I determined to leave her that night at the inn, We kissed our little darlings a thousand times; and to return for her, accompanied by my daugh- they clasped us round the neck, and seemed to ter Sophia, early the next morning. It was share our transports, while their mother laughnight before we reached our appointed stage: ed and wept by turns. however, after seeing her provided with a decent I now stood a calm spectator of the flames, and apartment, and having ordered the hostess to after some time began to perceive that my arm prepare proper refreshments, I kissed her, and to the shoulder was scorched in a terrible manproceeded towards home. And now my heart ner. It was, therefore, out of my power to give caught new sensations of pleasure, the nearer ! my son any assistance, either in attempting to approached that peaceful mansion. As a bird save our goods, or preventing the flames spreadthat had been frightened from its nest, my affec- ing to our corn. By this time the neighbours tions outwent my haste, and hovered round my were alarmed, and came running to our assistlittle fire-side with all the rapture of expectation. ance; but all they could do was to stand, like us, I called up the many fond things I had to say, spectators of the calamity. My goods, among and anticipated the welcome I was to receive. I which were the notes I had reserved for my already felt my wife's tender embrace, and smiled daughters' fortunes, were entirely consumed, exa at the joy of my littlc ones. As I walked but cept a box with some papers, that stood in the slowly, the night waned apace; the labourers of kitchen, and two or three things more, of little the day were all retired to rest—the lights were consequence, which my son brought away in out in every cottage; no sounds were heard but the beginning. The neighbours contributed, of the shrilling cock, and the deep-mouthed however, what they could to lighten our distress. watch-dog, at hollow distance.--I approached They brought us clothes, and furnished one of my little abode of pleasure, and before I was our out-houses with kitchen utensils ; so that by within a furlong of the place, our honest mastiff day-light we had another, though a wretched, came running to welcome me.
dwelling, to retire to. My honest next neighIt was now near midnight that I came to knock bour and his children, were not the least assiat my door: all was still and silent—my heart duous in providing us with every thing necessary, dilated with unutterable happiness, when, to my and offering whatever consolation untutored beamazement, I saw the house bursting out into a nevolence could suggest. blaze of fire, and every aperture red with confla- When the fears of my family had subsided, gration! I gave a loud convulsive ontcry, and curiosity to know the cause of my long stay befell upon the pavement insensible. This alarm- gan to take place. Having, therefore, informed ed my son, who had, till this, been asleep, and them of every particular, I proceeded to pre
pare them for the reception of our lost one; kindest condolence, and fixed a time in which and though we had nothing but wretchedness they were all to assist in repairing my former now to impart, I was willing to procure her a dwelling: Honest farmer Williams was not last welcome to what we had. This task would have among these visitors, but heartily offered his been more difficult but for our own recent cala- friendship. He would even have renewed his mity, which had humbled my wife's pride, and addresses to my daughter; but she rejected them blunted it by more poignant afflictions. Being in such a manner as totally repressed his ire unable to go for my poor child myself, as my solicitations. Her grief seemed formed for conarm grew very painful, I sent my son and daugh- tinuing, and she was the only person in our ter, who soon returned, supporting the wretch- little society that a week did not restore to cheered delinquent, who had not the courage to look fulness. She had now lost that unblushing innoup at her mother, whom no instructions of cence which once taught her to respect herself, mine could persuade to a perfect reconciliation ; and to seek pleasure by pleasing. Anxiety had for women have a inuch stronger sense of female now taken strong possession of her mind; her error than men. “Ah, madam !” cried her mo- beauty began to be impaired with her constituther, “ this is but a poor place you are come to tion, and neglect still more contributed to dimiafter so much finery. My daughter Sophy and nish it. Every tender epithet bestowed on her I can afford but little entertainment to persons sister, brought a pang to her heart and a tear to who have kept company only with people of her eye; and as one vice, though cured, ever distinction ; yes, Miss Livy, your poor father plants others where it has been, so her former and I have suffered very much of late ; but I guilt, though driven out by repentance, left hope Heaven will forgive you.” During this jealousy and envy behind. I strove a thousand reception, the unhappy victim stood pale and ways to lessen her care, and even forgot my own trembling, unable to weep or reply; but I could pain in a concern for her's, collecting such amunot continue a silent spectator of her distress; sing passages of history as a strong memory and wherefore, assuming a degree of severity in my some reading could suggest. “Our happiness, voice and manner, which was ever followed with my dear," I would say,
“ is in the power of instant submission, “ I entreat, woman, that One, who can bring it about a thousand unforemy words may be now marked once for all ; I seen ways, that mock our foresight. If example have here brought you back a poor deluded wan- be necessary to prove this, I'll give you a story, derer—her return to duty demands the revival my child, told us by a grave, though sometimes of our tenderness; the real hardships of life are a romancing, historian. now coming fast upon us; let us not, therefore, “ Matilda was married very young to a Neaincrease them by dissensions among each other; politan nobleman of the first quality, and found if we live harmoniously together, we may yet herself a widow and a mother at the age of fifbe contented, as there are enough of us to shut teen. As she stood one day caressing her infant out the censuring world, and keep each other son in the open window of an apartment, which in countenance. The kindness of Heaven is pro- hung over the river Volturna, the child, with a mised to the penitent, and let ours be directed sudden spring, leaped from her arms into the by the example. Heaven, we are assured, is flood below, and disappeared in a moment. The much more pleased to view a repentant sinner, mother, struck with instant surprise, and mathan ninety-nine persons who have supported a king an effort to save him, plunged in after ; course of undeviating rectitude ; and this is but, far from being able to assist the infant, she right; for that single effort by which we stop herself with great difficulty escaped to the opshort in the downlıill path to perdition, is of its posite shore, just when some French soldiers self a greater exertion of virtue, than a hundred were plundering the country on that side, who acts of justice.”
immediately made her their prisoner.
“ As the war was then carried on between the
French and the Italians with the utmost inhuCHAP. XXIII.
manity, they were going at once to perpetrate
those two extremes suggested by appetite and None but the Guilty can be long and completely cruelty. This base resolution, however, was opmiserable.
posed by a young officer, who, though their re
treat required the utmost expedition, placed her SOME assiduity was now required to make our behind him, and brought her in safety to his present abode as convenient as possible, and we native city. Her beauty at first caught his eye; were soon again qualified to enjoy our former her merit, soon after, his heart. They were serenity. Being disabled myself from assist- married ; he rose to the highest posts; they ing my son in our usual occupations, I read to lived long together, and were happy: But thc my fainily from the few books that were saved, felicity of a soldier can never be called permaand particularly from such as, by amusing thé nent; after an interval of several years, the imagination, contributed to ease the heart. Our troops which he commanded having met with a good neiglıbours, too, came every day with the repulse, he was obliged to take shelter in thic city where he had lived with his wife. Here splendour, the bride attended by six young ladies, they suffered a siege, and the city at length was and he by as many gentlemen. Their approachtaken. Few histories can produce more various ing nuptials filled the whole country with rejoiinstances of cruelty, than those which the French cing, and they usually rode out together in the and Italians at that time exercised upon each grandest equipage that had been seen in the counother. It was resolved by the victors, upon this try for many years. All the friends of both famioccasion, to put all the French prisoners to death; lies, he said, were there, particularly the squire's but particularly the husband of the unfortunate uncle, Sir William Thornhill, who bore so good Matilda, as he was principally instrumental in a character. He added, that nothing but mirth protracting the siege. Their determinations were, and feasting were going forward; that all the in general, executed almost as soon as resolved country praised the young bride's beauty, and upon. The captive soldier was led forth, and the bridegroom's fine person, and that they the executioner, with his sword, stood ready, were immensely fond of each other ; concluding while the spectators, in gloomy silence, awaited that he could not help thinking Mr Thorvhill the fatal blow, which was only suspended till one of the most happy men in the world. the general, who presided as judge, should give “Why, let him if he can,” returned I;“ but, the signal. It was in this interval of anguish my son, observe this bed of straw and unshieland expectation, that Matilda came to take her tering roof; those mouldering walls and humid last farewell of her husband and deliverer, den floor; my wretched body, thus disabled by fire, ploring her wretched situation, and the cruelty and my children weeping round me for bread : of her fate that had saved her from perishing bý you have come home, my child, to all this ; yet a premature death in the river Volturna, to be here, even here, you see a man that would not the spectator of still greater calamities. The ge- for a thousand worlds exchange situations. 0, neral, who was a young man, was struck with my children, if you could but learn to comsurprise at her beauty, and pity at her distress ; mune with your own hearts, and know what but with still stronger emotions when he heard noble company you can make them, you would her mention her former dangers. He was her little regard the elegance and splendour of the son, the infant for whom she had encountered worthless. Almost all men have been taught so much danger; he acknowledged her at once to call life a passage, and themselves the travelas his mother, and fell at her feet. The restlers. The similitude still may be improved, may be easily supposed; the captive was set when we observe that the good are joyful and free, and all the happiness that love, friendship, serene, like travellers that are going towards and duty, could confer on earth, were united. home; the wicked but by intervals happy, like
In this manner I would attempt to amuse my travellers that are going into exile." daughter; but she listened with divided atten- My compassion for my poor daughter, overtion ; for her own misfortunes engrossed all the powered by this new disaster, interrupted what pity she once had for those of another, and no- I had farther to observe. I bade her mother ihing gave her ease. In company she dreaded con- support her, and after a short time she recovertempt; and in solitude she only found anxiety. ed. She appeared from that time more calm, Such was the colour of her wretchedness, when and I imagined had gained a new degree of rewe received certain information that Mr Thorn- solution ; but appearances deceived me ; for her hill was going to be married to Miss Wilmot, tranquillity was the languor of over-wrought refor whom I always suspected he had a real pas- sentment. A supply of provisions, charitably sion, though he took every opportunity before me sent us by my kind parishioners, seemed to difto express his contempt both of her person and fuse new cheerfulness among the rest of my fafortune. This news only served to increase mily, nor was I displeased at seeing them once peor Olivia's affliction ; such a flagrant breach of more sprightly and at ease. It would have been fidelity was more than her courage could sur- unjust to damp their satisfactions, merely to port. I was resolved, however, to get more cer- condole with resolute melancholy, or to burden tain information ; and to defeat, if possible, the them with a sadness they did not feel. Thus, completion of his designs, by sending my son to once more, the tale went round, and the song old Nr Wilmot's, with instructions to know the was demanded, and cheerfulness condescended truth of the report, and to deliver Miss Wilmot to hover round our little habitation. a letter, intimating Mr Thornhill's conduct in my family. My son went, in pursuance of my directions, and in three days returned, assuring
CHAP. XXIV. us of tie truth of the account; but that he had found it impossible to deliver the letter, which
Fresh Calumities. he was therefore obliged to leave, as Mr Thornhill and Miss Wilmot were visiting round the The next morning the sun arose with pecucountry. They were to be married, he said, liar warmth for the season, so that we agreed to in a few days, having appeared together at breakfast together on the honeysuckle bank; church, the Sunday before he was there, in great where, while we sat, my youngest daughter, at my request, joined her voice to the concert on she may keep her lover beside ; for I protest, I the trees about us. It was in this place my poor shall ever continue to have a true regard for Olivia first met her seducer, and every object her.” served to recal her sadness. But that melan- I found all my passions alarmed at this new choly, which is excited by objects of pleasure, degrading proposal ; for though the mind may or inspired by sounds of harmony, sooths the often be calm under great injuries, little villainy heart instead of corroding it. Her mother, too, can at any time get within the soul, and sting it upon this occasion, felt a pleasing distress, and intorage.—"Avoid my sight, thou reptile,” cried wept, and loved her daughter as before. “Do, I, “nor continue to insult me with thy premy pretty Olivia,” cried she, “ let us have that sence! Were my brave son at home, he would little melancholy air your papa was so fond of; not suffer this; but I am old and disabled, and your sister Sophy has already obliged us. Do, every way undone.” child, it will please your old father.” She com- “ I find,” cried he, “ you are bent upon obliplied in a manner so exquisitely pathetic, as ging me to talk in a harsher manner than I inmoved me.
tended. But, as I have shewn you what may
be hoped from my friendship, it may not be imWhen lovely woman stoops to folly, And finds, too late, that men betray,
proper to represent what may be the conseWhat charm can sooth her melancholy ?
quence of my resentment. My attorney, to What art can wash her guilt away?
whom your late bond has been transferred, threat
ens hard ; nor do I know how to prevent the The only art her guilt to cover,
course of justice, except by paying the money To hide her shame from ev'ry eye,
myself; which, as I have been at some expences To give repentance to her lover,
lately, previous to my intended marriage, is not And wring his bosom, is to die.
so easy to be done. And then my steward talks
of driving for the rent; it is certain he knows As she was concluding the last stanza, to his duty; for I never trouble myself with affiirs which an interruption in her voice, from sor- of that nature. Yet still I could wish to serve row, gave peculiar softness, the appearance of you, and even to have you and your daughter Mr Thornbill's equipage at a distance alarmed present at my marriage, which is shortly to be us all, but particularly increased the uneasiness solemnized with Miss Wilmot; it is even the of my eldest daughter, who, desirous of' shun. request of my charming Arabella herself, whom ning her betrayer, returned to the house with I hope you will not refuse.” her sister. In a few minutes he was alighted “ Mr Thornbill,” replied I, “ hear me once from his chariot, and, making up to the place for all; as to your marriage with any but my where I was still sitting, inquired after my health daughter, that I will never consent to; and though with his usual air of familiarity. “ Sir," re- your friendship could raise me to a throne, or plied I, “ your present assurance only serves to your resentment sink me to the grave, yet would aggravate the baseness of your character; and I despise both. Thou hast once woefully, irthere was a time when I would have chastised reparably, deceived me. I reposed my heart your insolence, for presuming thus to appear be- upon thine honour, and have found its baseness. fore me.
But now you are safe ; for age has Never more, therefore, expect friendship from cooled my passions, and my calling restrains Go, and possess what fortune has given them.”
thee-beauty, riches, health, and pleasure. Go, “ I vow, my dear sir," returned he, “ I am and leave me to want, infamy, disease, and soramazed at all this; nor can I understand what row. Yet, humbled as I am, shall my heart it means! I hope you do not think your daugh- still vindicate its dignity; and though thou hast ter's late excursion with me had any thing cri- my forgiveness, thou shalt ever have iny conminal in it."
tempt. Go,” cried I, “ thou art a wretch, a poor, If so," returned he,“ depend upon it, you pitiful wretch, and every way a liar; but your shall feel the effects of this insolence, and we manness secures you from my anger! Yet, sir, shall shortly see which is the fittest object of I am descended from a fanily that would not scorn, you or me." Upon which he departed have borne this !-And so, thou vile thing, to abruptly, gratify a momentary passion, thou hast made My wife and son, who were present at this one poor creature wretched for life, and pollu- interview, seemed terrified with apprehension. ted a family that had nothing but honour for My daughters also, finding that he was gone, their portion.”
came out to be informed of the result of our “ If she or you,” returned he, " are resolved conference ; which, when known, alarmed them to be miserable, I cannot help it. But you not less than the rest. But as to myself, I dismay still be happy; and whatever opinion you regarded the utmost stretch of his malevolence may have formed of me, you shall ever find -he had already struck the blow, and I now me ready to contribute to it. We can marry her stood prepared to repel every new effort-like to another in a short time; and what is more, one of those instruments used in the art of war,
which, however thrown, still presents a point to cldest sister; who, from a consciousness that she receive the enemy.
was the cause of all our calamities, was fallen, We soon, however, found that he had not and had lost anguish in insensibility. I enthreatened in vain ; for the very next morning couraged my wife, who, pale and trembling, his steward came to demand my annual rent, clasped our affrighted little ones in her arms, which, by the train of accidents already related, that clung to her bosom in silence, dreading to I was unable to pay. The consequence of my look round at the strangers. In the mean time incapacity was, his driving my cattle that even- my youngest daughter prepared for our deparing, and their being appraised and sold the ture, and as she received several hints to use next day for less than half their value. My dispatch, in about an hour we were ready to wife and children now, therefore, entreated me depart. to comply upon any terms, rather than incur certain destruction. They even begged of me to admit his visits once more, and used all their
CHAP. XXV. little eloquence to paint the calamities I was going to endure—the terrors of a prison in so No situation, however wretched it seems, but has rigorous a season as the present, with the dan
some sort of comfort attending it. ger that threatened my health from the late accident that happened by the fire.-But I con- We set forward from this peaceful neightinued inflexible.
bourhood, and walked on slowly. My eldest “ Why, my treasures,” cried I, “ why will daughter being enfeebled by a slow fever, which you thus attempt to persuade me to the thing had begun for some days to undermine her conthat is not right :-My duty has taught me to stitution, one of the officers, who had a horse, forgive him, but my conscience will not permit kindly took her behind him ; for even these me to approve. Would you have me applaud men cannot entirely divest themselves of humato the world what my heart must internally nity. My son led one of the little ones by the condemn ? Would you have me tamely sit down hand, and my wife the other ; while I leaned and flatter our infamous betrayer ; and, to avoid upon my youngest girl, whose tears fell, not for a prison, continually suffer the more galling her own, but my distresses. bonds of mental confinement ? No, never. If We were now got from my late dwelling we are to be taken from this abode, only let us about two miles, when we saw a crowd running hold to the right, and wherever we are thrown, and shouting behind us, consisting of about fifty we can still retire to a charming apartment, of my poorest parishioners. These, with dreadwhere we can look round our own hearts with ful imprecations, soon seized upon the two offiintrepidity and with pleasure."
cers of justice, and, swearing they would never In this manner we spent that evening. Early see their minister go to a jail, while they had a the next morning, as the snow had fallen in drop of blood to shed in his defence, were going great abundance in the night, my son was em- to use them with great severity. The conseployed in clearing it away, and opening a pas- quence might have been fatal, had I not immesage before the door. He had not been thus diately interposed, and with some difficulty resengaged long, when he came running in, with cued the officers from the hands of the euraged looks all pale, to tell us that two strangers, whom multitude. My children, who looked upon my he knew to be officers of justice, were making delivery now as certain, appeared transported towards the house.
with joy, and were incapable of containing their Just as he spoke they came in, and, approach- raptures. But they were soon undeceived, upon ing the bed where I lay, after previously in- hearing me address the poor deluded people, forming me of their employment and business, who came, as they imagined, to do me service. made me their prisoner, bidding me prepare to “ What! my friends," cried I, “and is this go with them to the county jail, which was the way you love me? Is this the manner you eleven miles off.
obey the instructions I have given you from the “ My friends," said I, “ this is severe weae pulpit ? thus to fly in the face of justice, and ther in which you are come to take me to a bring down ruin on yourselves and me? Which prison ; and it is particularly unfortunate at this is your ringleader? Shew me the man that has time, as one of my arms has lately been burnt thus seduced you. As sure as he lives, he shall in a terrible manner, and it has thrown me in- feel my resentment. Alas ! my dear deluded to a slight fever, and I want clothes to cover fock, return back to the duty you owe to God, me, and I am now too weak and old to walk to your country, and to me. I shall yet, perfar in such deep snow ; but if it must be so—" haps, one day see you in greater felicity here,
I then turned to my wife and children, and and contribute to make your lives more happy. directed them to get together what few things But let it at least be my comfort, when I pen were left us, and to prepare immediately for my fold for immortality, that not one here shall leaving this place. I entreated them to be ex- be wanting.” peditious; and desired my son to assist his They now seemed all repentance, and melting