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THE ADVENTURES OF David Simple. VOLUME THE LAST, IN WHICH His History is concluded.
Sequels to Histories of this kind are so generally decried, and often with such good Reason, that a few Words seem necessary towards an Explanation of the following Design.
The Author of David Simple has, in the two first Volumes, carried him thro' many Disappointments to his desired Port. He sought a faithful Friend and a most amiable and faithful Companion; he found both: the History of his Search therefore was naturally at an end. But our Author was willing to exemplify the Behaviour of a Man endowed with such a Turn of Mind as David Simple, in the natural and common Distresses of this World, to illustrate that well known Observation, that "The Attainment of our Wishes is but too often the Beginning of our Sorrows." And farther to shew, that in a Society united by well directed Affections, and a Similitude of Mind, in which not one Individual has a selfish View, or a single Wish that is not conducive to the Good and Happiness of the Whole, every Evil may be lessened and alleviated, so that chearful Poverty may become almost the Envy of many that are called the Rich and Great.
This Design, it must be confessed, might have been as well executed by raising up a new set of Company of the same Turn of Mind, and giving them new Names; and by this pretended Appearance of Novelty the Readers who seek for such Food only, would have been more gratified: but our Author, who, no less than her own David, would on all Occasions chuse to pursue the unaffected Simplicity she has a Desire to recommend, and who detests all Fallacy and Imposture, is willing to introduce to her Readers their old Friends, with whom if they were once pleased by them, they will undoubtedly not be displeased to renew their former Acquaintance.
It is not the bringing known Characters again upon the Stage that is, or can be decried, if it is done with equal Humour and Spirit, as in their first Appearance; but it is building so much on public Approbation as to endeavour to put off a second-rate insipid Piece, void of the Spirit of the first, that ought to meet with universal Censure. A Character that once pleased, must always please, if thrown into new and interesting Situations; for would any one complain of seeing Sir John Falstaff ever so often repeated, if he always appeared with the same Humour as in the First Part of King Henry IV?
To those People who, from an earnest Thirst after Novelty, shall not be satisfied with the above Reasons, I would beg Leave to address this Question, In what does the Novelty so much required in these kind of Writings consist? Not in Characters so entirely new, as never to have been met with or heard of! For such must be what the French call Outré, or what we may say are either faultless, or hideous Monsters that the World ne'er saw. Not in Circumstances or Situations entirely new, such being equally impossible to find. To suppose it consisted in new names is both childish and trifling. Must it not therefore be said to consist in putting known and remarkable Characters into new Situations?
Why shou'd we not expect, by the Management of a skilful Hand, as great and agreeable a Variety from the Changes upon known Characters and Situations, as in Music from the Changes on twelve half-Notes? The beautiful Novelty of a musical Passage arises not from new simple Sounds, which it is impossible to make, but from a melodious Variation on the same Notes.
To carry on the Allusion still farther between Music and this characteristic sort of Writing, give me Leave to say, that this Novelty of Variation is required only amongst the principal Characters of a Story, in the same Manner as in the leading Notes of a Song or Piece of Music: for it is needless to vary the Under-Characters of the one, any more that the passing Notes of the other. Or, take it in the Light of a Piece of painted History; The Artist has little more to consider, I believe, in his Under-Characters or distant Groupes, than to contrive that they may not be glaring or unnatural, so as to draw your Eyes from the capital Figures, or to confuse the Design.
Suppose in real Life (which these kind of Writings intend to represent) you knew a Man of an uncommon Turn of Mind, who had gone through Difficulties with Resolution, or had in Prosperity shewn such a noble Spirit of Generosity and Beneficence, as had highly raised your Admiration, would it not more awaken your Curiosity, to know how that same Man behaved in a Reverse of Fortune, than to hear any thing of a new Acquaintance?
It is on this Supposition that our Author has ventured once more to bring her David Simple into Public. Her Intention is not to shew how many Man, but how such a Man would support himself under the worldly Misfortunes and Afflictions to which human-kind is liable. And if any of her Readers approve not of her Manner of releasing him from his Difficulties, nothing that can be said by me has any Chance for altering such their Opinion.
Containing a brief Account of the Transaction of eleven Years.
That David Simple, having been for some Years retired from the World, and when all his Transactions had been so long buried in Oblivion, should again appear on the Stage, is owing to his having undergone a Variety of Accidents; and some as remarkable as any in his former Story. I therefore doubt not, but those Persons who were then pleased with his Character, will be no less pleased with knowing the Remainder of so very uncommon a Life: and for those who are yet unacquainted with our Hero, we hope his Character will in the following Pages appear strong enough to need no formal Description, in the Beginning of this Book.
A Man, actuated by neither Avarice nor Ambition, his Mind moving on no other Axis but that of Love, having obtained a Wife his Judgment approves, and his Inclination delights in; seeing, at the same time, all his Friends chearful and pleased around him, seems to be in a State of Happiness, in comparison of which, every thing in this World is trifling. And in this agreeable Situation did David Simple and his Friends continue (with the Exception only of some pecuniary Losses, which could not destroy Felicity so founded) for the space of eleven Years: which Time I shall pass over with as much Brevity as possible, so as to lead my Reader to the Beginning of that Year, in which David Simple began to be convinced that although no Scheme for Happiness could be built on a better Foundation than his; although the Union of Hearts, which subsisted in that happy Family, was sufficient to compensate every common outward Evil; yet there may be such a Concurrence of Events, such heart-rending Scenes, arising from this very friendly Connection, as must undeniably prove the Truth of that Observation, so common both in the Writings and Conversations of Mankind, namely, "That solid and lasting Happiness is not to be attained in this World."
That a frequent Repetition of this Observation is necessary, in order to remind People of its Truth, appears but too plainly, when we see, that notwithstanding the universal Concurrence of Mankind, in all Ages, in its favour, yet their Forgetfulness of it may fairly be concluded from the various and anxious Pursuits, in which they are so universally employed.
David Simple's Family, as we left them in the second Volume, after the double Marriage, consisted of himself and his Camilla, Valentine and his Cynthia, and old Mr. C—, the Father to Valentine and Camilla, who had divided his Fortune equally between them.
This old Gentleman, naturally, was extremely fond of both his Children, although he had been wrought on by Livia, his Wife, to treat them in a most cruel manner: yet, as he had not that stubborn Pride of Mind, which scorns to be forgiven, he was most truly blessed by that affectionate Duty and Regard, which they now exerted towards him. So far, also, was he from being a Burthen or Restraint upon them, that it gave them the highest Pleasure, to find how much it was in their Power to contribute towards their Father's Hppiness. Their united Endeavours were, how to make the Remainder of their Father's Days flow with that Ease and Tranquillity, as might, in some measure, obliterate the Remembrance of those turbulent and uneasy Years, which he had spent with an artful and wicked Woman. A Woman, who was, in reality (whilst he imagined her his greatest Pleasure) the greatest Torment of his Life.
This our happy Family, soon after their Marriage, agreed to leave London, and, together with the old Gentleman, to settle themselves in some pleasant country Village, out of the Reach of that Hurry and Bustle, so very contrary to the Taste of our whole Society. But they could not execute their Purpose so soon as they intended, being kept in Town on Business: for the Ten thousand Pounds, which the old Gentleman had given between his Son Valentine and his Daughter Camilla (whether by the Roguery of his Agent, or the Roguery of any other Person, we think it little material to enquire) was laid out on a bad Mortgage; and, after spending about Five hundred Pounds, and being detained in London a whole Year, they were convinced that the whole Money was irretrievably lost. But this Misfortune broke very little into the Tranquility of our happy Society. It only obliged them to change their Intentions of purchasing an Estate; and they were contented to hire a House, with a pretty Garden and all Conveniences round it, in the pleasantest part of Lincolnshire.
During their Stay in London, Camilla was brought to bed of a Daughter; and, as soon as she was able to undertake the Journey, the whole Society, together with the newborn Camilla, set out for their House in the Country, where they were soon settled, perfectly to their Satisfaction. They passed their Time in a Manner to be imitated by those, who have any Relish for real Pleasure; and to be laughed at and scorned by such as know not how to enjoy any Happiness themselves, and are sure to make every thing around them miserable. But was I to attempt fully to describe the Happiness which subsisted in this Society, where Chearfulness and Good Humour were looked on as the chief Ingredients for Conversation, I am sensible how very short I should fall of my intended Purpose. Those, therefore, of my Readers, who have a Relish for the same kind of Conversation, will, I doubt not, make use of their own Imaginations, in drawing the Picture to the life: but to those, who mistake bon-mots, insulting Raillery, malicious Ridicule, and murtherous Slander for the Attic Salt of Society, I write not. Indeed, to such I cannot write, concerning David, and his Company; as no Words are equal to the raising in such Minds, any true Image of the Pleasures of our happy Society: for to them, Cynthia's Spriteliness (wanting the Relish of biting Jokes and tart Repartees) would appear trifling Insipidity; and the chearful Softness of the gentle Camilla, would, by such, be termed Dullness and Want of Sensibility.
Cynthia and Camilla embraced every Opportunity of directing their Family Affairs when they could not have the Pleasure of conversing with their Husbands. By the Order and Regularity of their Table, of their Servants, and every other domestic Concern, it might easily have been imagined, that their whole Time had been taken up in what is called the Business of Housewifry: yet David, Valentine, and the old Gentleman, enjoyed so much of their amiable Conversation, that they could have almost imagined every thing to have been done by Enchantment, and that Houshold Management had never employed their Thoughts; for no Noise or Bustle was ever heard, but Peace, Calmness, Concord, and Harmony reigned throughout the House.
With so many Blessings as our Society enjoyed, they could not deeply regret the Loss of Fortune, as they were not reduced by it to what they called Straitness of Circumstances: for they were still possessed of enough to gratify every innocent Desire, and no extravagant Wishes did they ever entertain. Nay, David had yet the Power of pursuing, in some degree, his favourite Pleasure, of relieving his distressed Fellow-creatures, and of preventing any of his Neighbourhood from suffering extreme Indigence.
But they had not been settled in this agreeable Tranquility quite a Twelvemonth, before their united Happiness was interrupted by Cynthia's falling into a State of ill Health; for which, a Physician, in the Neighbourhood, advised her to go directly to the Bath, and drink the Waters for one whole Season.
As soon as this was determined, the whole Family intended to remove to the Bath, and to leave only the little Camilla with a careful Servant, in the Country. But the Morning before they undertook their Journey, David received a Letter from London, informing him of an Affair, which was of too much Consequence for him to neglect; that a Person had put in his Claim to the Fortune, which, some Years ago, was left him by his Uncle; and David, on his Arrival in Town, found this Business of so troublesome and intricate a Nature, that his Attendance on it was, for some time, absolutely necessary. Valentine and Cynthia, therefore, pursued their Journey to the Bath. The old Gentleman, their Father, stayed in London, with David and Camilla; for, besides his Age and Infirmities, which made him willingly decline a Journey, he was so doatingly fond of his Daughter Camilla, and her Care and Tenderness towards him was so great, that he could not consent to be separated from her.
The Day after their Arrival in Town, David Simple happened to meet a Gentleman, whose Name was Ratcliff, with whom he had some small Acquaintance before he went into the Country. Mr. Ratcliff seemed overjoyed to meet him; and, on hearing that Business was likely to detain him in Town, insisted, that David, and his Wife, and the old Gentleman, should quit their Lodgings, and make his House their Home, while they remained in London: and in this Invitation Mrs. Ratcliff also politely concurred with her Husband.
As Mr. Ratcliff was a Man of Fortune, and could easily admit of such an occasional Addition to his Family, David, without Hesitation, accepted his Offer: for a Mind so ready as his was, to give Assistance or Pleasure to his Friends, must be conscious, that in the like Circumstances, he should have rejoiced in the same Opportunity. And, therefore, instead of being alarmed at the Thought of receiving an Obligation, he found some Satisfaction in the Thought, that, by accepting this Invitation, he should give his Friend the Opportunity of enjoying what was his own favourite Pleasure.
Camilla was, at this time, so big with Child, that they had, on that account, hastened their intended Journey, in order that she might have lain-in at Bath: this Circumstance made Mr. Ratcliff and his Wife the more pressing for their immediate coming to their House. And Mr. Ratcliff said, that should the Child prove a Boy, he would be his God-father, and adopt him for his own Son; and Mrs. Ratcliff made the same Offer, should the Child prove a Girl.
In about three Weeks, Camilla was brought to-bed of a Boy, and he was christened by the name of Peter, after his God-father; for Camilla, although it would have been her Choice, that her first Son should have borne the Name of her much-loved Husband, would not oppose Mr. Ratcliff's Request, or even mention her own Choice, whilst there was the least Probability, that her Son's Interest might be forwarded by complying with whatever Mr. Ratcliff should in reason desire.
David now began to find that the Business, which called him to Town, was of a more perplexing and troublesome Nature than he at first imagined; and that he was likely to be involved in a tedious and expensive Law Suit: for the Person who had made this pretended Claim to the Estate, left to David by his Uncle, was a young Fellow of a very large Fortune, but who had, by his Father, been put Clerk to an Attorney, and, by that means, was very learned in all the Tricks of the Law. David Simple, therefore, when he considered the superior Fortune of his Antagonist, and that he must contend with one, who could not, indeed, so properly be styled learned in the Laws, as versed in the Knowledge of every shuffling Art to evade their Force, and to make them subservient to his own Purposes, was convinced in his own Mind, that he shou'd be much the least out of pocket, by giving up at once the whole Money: but this Purpose not one of his Friends would suffer him to execute; and Mr. Ratcliff pronounced him a Madman for the Thought; but told him, if he would put his Affairs into the hands of Mr. Parker, his Attorney, his Cause would be carried on with all due Expedition and Integrity: and Mr. Ratcliff likewise hinted (but made no absolute Promise) that he himself would give him any Support that might be wanting, to enable him to maintain his Right.
After two Months Stay in London, David began to find, that his personal Attendance was not necessary towards carrying on this Law Suit, in which, much against his own Judgment, he was now engaged. Giving, therefore, all proper Instructions to his Attorney, he determined to go, as soon as possible, into the Country. And what confirmed him in this Resolution, was the Hope of meeting his Brother Valentine, from whom he had just received the agreeable News, that Cynthia had found from the Bath Waters all the Benefit that could have been expected.
David acquainted Valentine with the Difficulties he had found, and which he was still likely to encounter, from the Embarrassment of a Chancery Suit, and they agreed to part with their House in Lincolnshire, and to take a small neat Tenement, which Valentine had heard of, in a pleasant Village called Heddington, about twenty Miles from the Bath, and only a Mile out of the great London Road. David himself took a Journey to Lincolnshire, and brought back with him his little Camilla, now near two Years old; and, taking leave of Mr. Ratcliff's Family, with a Heart really overflowing with Gratitude for their Civility and Kindness, he, and his Camilla, the old Gentleman, and the two Children, set out for their House at Heddington, where they were met by Valentine and Cynthia from the Bath.
The Meeting of our Society might properly be called a Meeting of Joy. It was a Reward for their Separation, and fully compensated to them all the anxious Thoughts they had suffered for each other, in Absence. Cynthia, whose Temper and Understanding not even ill Health could impair or disturb (and who, in the weakly State of her Body, could never properly be called peevish, even by her Enemies, and by her Friends could only be perceived to be languid) had now recovered her usual Vivacity, and enjoyed to the utmost, her chief Delight, that of being able to communicate Pleasure. The meeting of these Friends was very unlike the common meeting of Persons long absent. It was not a Relation of trifling matters of Fact, collected only to give the Relator the Pleasure of talking; but it was a general Communication of such things only as were of consequence in their own Nature, or which were made so by the Interest each Individual had in whatever related to the whole, and by the Power our Society possessed and exerted, of rendering every Image agreeable. Nor did they, this Evening, interrupt their chearful Conversation by introducing the disagreeable State of their Affairs by their Law Suit, nor was any kind of what is generally called Business once mentioned amongst them.
Some little time before David and his Family last left London, he began to find some small Alteration in Mr. Ratcliff's Behaviour towards him; yet, in proportion as friendly Actions decreased, friendly Professions flowed the more largely; and his absolute Promise to provide for his Godson little Peter, and to adopt him as Heir to his large Fortune, made both David and his Camilla overlook many Slights, and submit also to his authoritative manner of directing them in all their Proceedings.
When our happy Society had been settled about a Week at Heddington, they received a Message from Mr. Orgueil, and his Wife, "That, if they saw Company, they would wait on them."
David was greatly astonished at the Message, and, indeed, not a little averse to the Thought of renewing an Acquaintance with a Man, of whose Principles he had so just an Abhorrence. Yet, on the other hand, when he reflected, that the only Account he had received of Mr. Orgueil came from Spatter, who never gave any one a good Character (and whom, on further Acquaintance, he could not think an Object of his Esteem) he hoped Orgueil might not be so bad a Man as he had been represented. Besides, as the being guilty of even the Appearance of Rudeness or Ill-manners, was repugnant to the Nature of any of this Society, they could not but agree to return a civil Message; but, although they would not shun an offered Acquaintance, they intended, as they saw Occasion, to avoid an Intimacy.
Mr. Orgueil had been settled in that Village about a Year, having bought a large Estate, with a very fine House on it: for Mrs. Orgueil brought him a Fortune of above Thirty thousand Pounds. In this Visit they were both excessively civil to David and his whole Family. Mr. Orgueil seemed very assiduous to renew their former Friendship; and, by his particular Civility and obliging Behaviour to the old Gentleman, who was greatly pleased with his polite Address, he, in a manner, before they were aware, drew them into a much greater Intimacy than they at first intended.
This Intimacy was now almost unavoidably encreased by Mrs. Orgueil's being brought to-bed of a Daughter, whom she called Henrietta-Cassandra; and, during her lying-in, she affected such a Fondness for Cynthia and Camilla, that she would hardly ever be without the Company of one, if not of both; and, as it was the Characteristic of this Society, to suffer an Inconvenience themselves, rather than to decline giving Pleasure to those, for whom they professed an Esteem, they could not refuse staying with Mrs. Orgueil, at all such times as their Convenience would possibly admit, till she was again able to go abroad.
Cynthia and Camilla had also each of them a Daughter born, about three Months after the Birth of Mrs. Orgueil's Henrietta-Cassandra. David called his Child Fanny, and Valentine gave his Daughter the Name of his beloved Wife. Cynthia's Constitution being but weakly, her Husband would not suffer her to attempt being a Nurse: and Mrs. Dunster, Wife to the Farmer who rented most part of Mr. Orgueil's Estate, having just lost a fine Child, of two Months old, (and being a very healthy, neat, honest, good-humoured Woman) the little Cynthia was committed to her Care.
Farmer Dunster and his Wife were plain well-meaning People, and, although they rented a very large Farm, yet they did not affect to live above their Station. The Farmer industriously and constantly attended his Business: and his Wife, instead of dressing, and imitating the Manners of a Lady, was contented to be called Dame, and valued herself upon the Goodness of her Butter and the Beauty of her Poultry. Out of nine Children, they had only one Girl left, who was now ten Years old, and who, even at that Age, was a Help and Assistant to her Mother. This good Girl was so handy and careful about the little Cynthia, that she seemed to have almost as good a Claim as Mrs. Dunster, to be called her Foster-mother.
David and all his Family were exceedingly fond of the Farmer and his Wife. The Simplicity of their Manners was so effectual a Recommendation to our Society, that it gave a weight to whatever they said: and as they related many humane Actions of Mr. Orgueil, both towards themselves and others of the Neighbourhood, David Simple was induced once more to consider him as his Friend.
I would not be understood to mean, by the Word Friend, a Person answering the Idea of what David Simple, in the former part of his Life, made the Object of his Pursuit. His Search in that respect was happily ended; for in his Brother Valentine and the amiable Cynthia, he enjoyed the highest Happiness that Warmth of Friendship, unassisted by any more tender or interesting Connection, could give; and in his Camilla he enjoyed the highest Pleasure that even his Imagination could ever have formed from the Union of two Hearts, capable of receiving, and disposed to give, reciprocal Delight. But this Friendship with Mr. Orgueil was no more than what is generally called by that Name; that is to say, a greater Intimacy than subsists among common Acquaintance. And whilst Mr. Orgueil was civil to our whole Society; ready, on all Occasions, to do obliging things; nay while they even promised David, on understanding tha this Circumstances were greatly reduced, to assist him with his Fortune; they could not avoid giving, to the great Importunity of both Mr. Orgueil and his Wife, much more of their Time and Conversation than was agreeable to their Inclinations. Nevertheless, if Cynthia had strenuously urged them to have been guided by her Judgment, an Intimacy between Persons whose Minds were so utterly incapable of having the least Sympathy with each other, would soon have been dropped, whatever might have been the Consequence.
It was now two Years since the happy meeting of our Society at Heddington, when Camilla was brought to-bed of her fourth Child, which being a Girl, Mrs. Orgueil desired to stand God-mother. This Request was not likely to be refused, and they also civilly paid her the Compliment of begging her to give the Child a Name; and, according to her Desire, the Child was christened Joan . This Circumstance may appear trifling, but yet was it of consequence enough to give Mrs. Orgueil great Pleasure, for she delighted as much in opposing the Sound of Joan to Henrietta-Cassandra, as if she could by that means have heightened or lowered the real Value of the two Children: but, could she have seen the Hearts of David and his Camilla, she would have been greatly disappointed, for they were much better pleased than if she had given the Child the romantic Name of her own Daughter; Cynthia too, often smiled, on observing the Delight Mrs. Orgueil took, in immediately introducing at full length, after asking for little Joan, the Words,—my Henrietta-Cassandra.
In two Years more, Camilla had another Boy; and, as there was now no Objection to her indulging herself in calling him by the Name of her beloved Husband, he was christened David.
Just at this time, David Simple received a Letter from Mr. Parker, his Lawyer, informing him, that there was no likelyhood of his Law Suit's being yet ended; but, at the same time, desiring more Money, and enpressing great Confidence of carrying the Point at last.
David was, indeed, satisfied of the Justice of his Cause, and, on that account, would naturally have been as little doubtful of Success as Mr. Parker: but when he considered that he had been above five Years already kept in suspense, and when he reflected on all the litigious Arts made use of by his Antagonist, he durst not build his Hopes on any such Foundation. He, therefore, once more wrote to Mr. Ratcliff, declaring his Resolution to give up the Affair, and to pay off Mr. Parker's Bill, which was upwards of Fourteen hundred Pounds, whilst yet it was in his Power; lest he should not only be deprived of the means of supporting his Family, but should be torn from them, by having contracted a heavy Load of Debts, which he could not answer. To this Mr. Ratcliff answered, that now it was more Madness than ever, to admit such a Thought; for the Case was so clear on his side, that dropping his Suit, was the same thing as giving away so much Money, already indisputably in his own Possession. He then again repeated his Promise of providing for his Godson Peter; but added, that he should not be pleased to have his adopted Son and Heir the Brother to Beggars: and concluded with observing, that he should be justified, not only to himself, but to all the World, in deserting a Man who wilfully deserted himself, and the Interest of his whole Family.
Now first was David Simple seized with some Degree of that Timidity of Mind, which he afterwards more fully experienced; and though in his own Opinion (and in that of the whole Society) it appeared most prudent to keep his Resolution, and drop his Chancery Suit; yet he feared to lose the Favour of a Man, who was so able, and who declared himself so willing to provide amply for his Son: he, therefore, after much perplexing Deliberation, acquainted Mr. Ratcliff, that he would submit to his Judgment, and leave his Cause to the Decision of the Law. Mr. Orgueil also highly approved Mr. Ratcliff's Advice in this Case, and strenuously urged David's Acquiescence with it; telling him that a Man of his peculiar way of thinking, ought always, in worldly Affairs, to be directed by Men of Prudence and Experience; hinting, at the same time, how liable he had been, in the former art of his Life, to be imposed on and deceived.
And here, if I might be permitted a little to depart from the Brevity I promised in this first part of our History, I would detain my Reader by some Observations on the capricious Judgments that are shewn in passing Sentence on the Words and Actions of a Man, who is actuated by no other Motives than the simple Dictates of an honest Heart.
If, from judging of others by himself, such a Man is imposed on, by the false Colours hung out to deceive him, and thereby becomes the Sacrifice of his own Simplicity, he is thought the proper Object for Ridicule, and the Words simple and silly are immediately made synonimous: but if, after some Experience of the World, he should, in his future Transactions, be guided by that Experience, to act consistently with it, and should thereby avoid those Evils to which his Inexperience rendered him liable, he is suddenly metamorphosed into a cunning Fellow; and those very Persons, who had before laughed at his Folly, can now clearly enough distinguish the Meaning of the Word Simplicity, to blame him for his Want of it; without considering the essential Difference there is between the proper Caution built on Experience, and that unjust Suspicion of all Mankind, which often, if not always, arises from the Knowledge of harbouring in our own Bosoms a false and malignant Heart.
David's Situation, in point worldly Affairs, was now made more untoward and perplexing, from the Uncertainty of his impending Suit, than it could have been from the narrowest Circumstances: since the latter could not so much have affected the Minds of Persons, who practised, as far as possible, the Lesson of being contented in any Situation, and of submitting to every outward Accident with Patience: for by this Uncertainty he knew not what he was worth, or whether he was not buying daily Bread with Money that he should hereafter be called on to refund.
Those who are blessed with Prosperity and Affluence, and who have never experienced a Perplexity of this kind, may, perhaps, absolutely condemn David Simple, for not instantly reducing his Expences to the very Standard he must have done, had he already lost his Cause. But from the Sentence of such, I must beg leave to appeal to the Judgment of others, who, with the like beneficent Hearts, have been in the like Circumstances: and if by them David Simple be condemned for driving far off from his Mind Despondency and absolute Despair of Success; for still continuing (without an exact provident Calculation) to afford his Family and Friends the Comforts of Life, without one of the Extravagancies; and for still persisting to relieve any real Objects of Distress, without clinching his Hand by thinking on his Law Suit; I must submit; and will allow them to join with Orgueil and Ratcliff in all the Reproaches they hereafter bestow on David Simple, for his Imprudence.
Two Years more passed, and still there was no Determination of the Law Suit: but in the mean time Mr. Ratcliff continued to write what are called friendly Letters (though interpersed with that imperious Advice which generally flows from Superiority in point of Fortune) and desired, that his God-son Peter, now near seven Years old, might, at his Expence, be sent to School; and he paid that Deference to David's Judgment, as to leave the Choice of a Master to him.
Camilla was very desirous that the Boy might be sent to some private School, as dreading the Vices that are too frequently contracted at public ones: and accordingly little Peter was put under the Care of a Gentleman, who never increased his Number of Boys beyond the Power of his own careful Eye.
As sending the Child to School was Mr. Ratcliff's Desire (or rather Command) they did not care to dispute it; otherwise, it was very evident, that in going from Home, he quitted a Place of certain Improvement, for the Chance only of being where he barely might not learn less—more he could not learn; for the chief Study and Employment of our Society, was to improve the Understandings, and meliorate the Dispositions of their Children; and never was Labour (if such it might be styled) better rewarded.
Little Camilla, now eight Years old, was a most amiable Child. In her Person she was a complete Pattern of Elegance and Beauty. She had that Lustre and Sweetness in her Countenance, which must always proceed from the strongest Understanding, and the mildest Disposition. She already shewed an uncommon Genius to Music and Drawing, in the Improvement of which she was indulged as far as was necessary to enable her to make a Progress in both, by her own Industry and Application.
Young Peter was in his Person so like his Father, that no one could see him without crying out, "O! here comes little David." And this Circumstance, trifling as it may appear, often put the whole Family in Tears. For the sweet little Boy's Sensibility of Look, on the Mistake of his Name, with a gentle Sigh, which seemed to shew a Regret, that he was, by a strange Adoption, in a Manner excluded from his Birth-right, gave his Parents such a peculiar kind of tender Sensation, as I cannot pretend to give my Readers any Idea of, unless they will again assist me, by the Help of their own Imaginations.
Fanny and her Cousin Cynthia, born within two Days of each other, now six Years old, and both of them beautiful Girls, were so exactly alike, that they were continually mistaken for Twin Sisters: and it was a frequent Diversion among them to see Dame Dunster kiss and hug the little Fanny, as thinking her to be her Nursing Cynthia.
Mrs. Orgueil's God-daughter Joany, now five Years old, was, to the great Joy of her God-mother, not so completely beautiful as her Sister's, and in Fairness of Skin, was much inferior to her own Daughter Henrietta-Cassandra; for which Reason she grew extremely fond of the Child, and seemed as much pleased with contrasting their Complexions as their Names. Though, in truth, little Joan was a fine fresh coloured Girl, the very Picture of Health and Good-humour, and was so tall of her Age, that is occasioned Mrs. Orgueil to be once asked, if Miss Joan was not older than Miss Cassy; on which Mrs. Orgueil took such Offence at the Child, for having, although a Year younger, outstripped her Daughter in Growth, that she would never more suffer her to come within her Doors. Nay, the very Name that she herself had given her, sounded (she said) so very vulgar, that it increased her Aversion to her; and frequently did Miss Cassy upbraid the poor Child, that Joan was not the Name of a Gentlewoman.
Of little David, now only three Years old, no more can be said, but that his pleasing Smiles, and honest open Countenance, promised every thing that it is possible for an affectionate Parent to wish.
Notwithstanding the untoward Situation of Affairs before mentioned, still might our Society be styled the happy Family. Such a Union of Hearts, such a Harmony of Disposition; a Society, where the meaning of the bad Passions of Malice and Envy could not have been understood, had they never conversed out of their own House, could not be ruffled or discomposed, but by a Separation, or seeing any one amongst them afflicted with Sickness, or any other real Calamity. And, indeed, little Peter's leaving them, to be sent to School, caused, for the present, a Scene of Grief amongst his young Companions, that even a Command to them from David and Valentine, not any longer to indulge that Grief, was necessary towards restoring the Tranquility of the Nursery.
Such an increasing Family and decreasing Fortune, would have been enough of itself to have rendered some Minds miserable; but David and his Camilla (as they confined not Happiness to any particular Station) were fully convinced, that if they rooted from their Children's Breasts all kind of Malevolence, and instilled into their Minds the Principles of true Religion, they should give them the best Foundation for Felicity this World can afford. And they likewise considered a large Number of Children as a larger Number of Chances for even worldly Prosperity; since (as they observed) it seldom happens, but out of so many, ONE will be successful; and little indeed must their Children have profited by the Precepts and Example of such Parents, if the Prosperity of ONE should not be the Prosperity of ALL.
Betty Dunster, from the time little Cynthia was taken home from Nurse, had been so frequently amongst the Children, and was of so docile a Disposition, that she learned many things, by attending to the Instructions given them by Camilla. And Cynthia herself, seeing the Girl had a Capacity and Understanding capable of Improvement, had taught her to write and read. Little Camilla had also learned from Betty Dunster to knit and to spin Flax, and was so perfect in both, that, before it was known she could do either, she presented her Mother with a pair of Stockings, spun and knit by herself.
Mrs. Orgueil began to be very uneasy at Betty Dunster's being so much in David's Family and therefore told her Mother, that she wondered a Woman of her Prudence would suffer her Daughter to be ruined by being accustomed to nothing but Sloth and Idleness, as must be the case while she threw away all her Time amongst such a Set of lazy extravagant People.
"Indeed, Madam (says Mrs. Dunster) I never upon going into the House found them lazy or idle, since I have known them; and I hope my Child won't be ruined, for she tells me they be all very kind to her; and Madam Cynthia herself has taught her to write and read."
"Ay, Romances, I suppose (says Mrs. Orgueil) fine reading, indeed, for a Country Wench! and you will find what a pretty Figure she will make, when, after she is married to some honest Farmer, she is caught, instead of minding her Dairy, poring over a Romance."
"I never heard her talk, Madam, of such Books (says Mrs. Dunster ) but she tells me, that she often reads History and the Bible to the Children."
"I tell you (says Mrs. Orgueil) that Reading is not a proper Employment for a Farmer's Daughter; and although you are so infatuated, as not to see what will be the Ruin of your own Child, I myself have such a Love for the Girl, that I am resolved to save her from Destruction, by taking her into my own Family: and, if she can be made to forget all the Stuff Cynthia has taught her, and behaves well, I will keep her as my Woman. Or, if Miss Cassy should like her, she may be her Maid. And she will find some Difference between living in my House in any Station, and herding with a Parcel of beggarly Wits."
Mrs. Dunster, though she had but a moderate Share of Understanding, yet from a good honest Heart, easily perceived the Difference there would, indeed, be to her poor Girl; but she durst not, by a Refusal, disoblige Mrs. Orgueil, or seem displeased with her Offer; and yet so little Joy did she express for this Prospect of her Daughter's Advancement, that Mrs. Orgueil bid her be gone, for an ignorant ungrateful Fool, and send her Husband thither directly.
As soon as the Farmer arrived, Mrs. Orgueil complained of the Insensibility of his Wife, and repeated to him the Honour she intended his Daughter.
The Farmer, from a late Misfortune of a Person's dying insolvent, who owed him a large Sum of Money, was, at this time, so far behind-hand in his Rent, that he lay too much at Mr. Orgueil's Mercy to deny any thing to him or his Lady; he therefore said, he would immediately send the Girl thither; who, as soon as she entered the House, was strictly ordered by Mrs. Orgueil never again to set her foot within David Simple's Doors.
Mrs. Orgueil did not want what is commonly called Parts, or Understanding; but, from the Malignity of her Heart, was always acting what should be the Characteristic of a Fool, namely, destroying her own Purposes. She set a high Value on her own Understanding, and therefore Cynthia, who, from a Spriteliness and Vivacity of Temper, generally carried the Lead in Conversation, soon became the Object of her Envy, and from thence a most inveterate Hatred of Cynthia took root in her Mind. She loved not Camilla, but would sometimes pretend towards her (out of Opposition to Cynthia) the highest degree of Affection. Although she had not Goodness or Simplicity of Heart enough to really value the amiable Qualities of Camilla, yet in the vain hope of supplanting Cynthia in her Favour, she was generally very assiduous and obliging to her, and also to Cynthia ; for she had Cunning enough to know, that upon her Civility to Cynthia depended her Acquaintance with Camilla. Numberless were her Arts to ingratiate herself by Flattery with Camilla, but fruitless were all such Endeavours; for so uncommon were the Characters of Cynthia and Camilla, and so very extraordinary their Friendship, that they had often talked over the Difference of their Capacities and Dispositions with the same Freedom as if they had been mentioning the Difference of their Height or Size.
The true Source of all those Heart-burnings and Uneasinesses, that Mankind are so good as to bestow upon themselves, when no outward Shocks attack them, seems to be setting too high a Value on any Faculties whatever of the Mind, or any Beauty of the Person. Hence arises that Malice and Envy, from which Families and Friends often cause each others Misery, when they might have it in their Power to be Blessings to each other, would every one, like our little Family, sit down contented with their own Share of either mental or outward Qualifications.
Cynthia did not put on a silly Affectation of not knowing the Strength of her own Understanding; but, on the other hand, she knew its Value; she was sensible she did not give it herself, nor was she ignorant that it was according to the Use it was made of, whether it was of any Value at all; nay, she pursued this sort of Knowledge so far, as to discover, that, by being made an ill Use of, it would turn to her Disadvantage.
She could not but know that she was possessed of something a larger Share of what is generally called Genius, or Parts, than Camilla was; but the Comparison would never once have come into her Thoughts, if such Persons as Mrs. Orgueil had not made it a Subject of their own Conversation. Insult to any one breathing never flowed from Cynthia's Bosom; then where could one Notion of insult to her Camilla find a Place for Entrance? Goodness alone was the Object of her Esteem; she sought a Companion fraught with Innocence, and a Mind free from Malice, the least Degree of which venomous Quality peeping forth from behind the most dazzling Wit and entertaining Humour, had, in her Opinion, destroyed the whole Pleasure.
If Cynthia knew her Understanding, without being proud of it, Camilla could acknowledge it without Envy, and David was sensible of it without abating one Tittle of his Love for his Wife; or in the Person of his Wife, desiring to pull down Cynthia. And every Advantage and Pleasure arising from any Faculty of the Mind, was as much shared in this Society, as any other Property whatever.
It is very strange that Mrs. Orgueil, with an ample Fortune, without any real Misfortunes to afflict her, enjoying Plenty, Health, and every Blessing that can be thought on, in this World, made herself a most miserable Woman, and perplexed and tormented her own Mind about nothing; forgetting the Abundance she possessed, and straining after an imaginary Good, she could never possibly reach; whilst the Person, concerning whom she thought proper thus to torment herself (when any very shocking Strokes did not attend her) possessed her own Mind in quiet, and gave herself no Trouble about the Schemes or Inventions of any other Persons.
And yet Mrs. Orgueil was forever throwing out the Word Contempt; but with a little serious Examination, she might have made a Discovery of much more Benefit to herself, than any of those she ever made of Cynthia's Cunning, namely, that she despised nobody but herself. For can any Contempt in the World be so high, as to put it in the Power of every Person you come near to rack and torment your Mind? Even Betty Dunster, if she but dropped a Word accidentally, in Commendation of Cynthia's Good Humour or Affability, or but shewed a Remembrance of any thing she had ever told her, could teaze Mrs. Orgueil as much as if she had fallen under any real Misfortune, of which the following Instance is a pretty strong Proof.
One Morning Mrs. Orgueil came into the Nursery, and found Betty Dunster telling Henrietta-Cassandra a Story, to which the Child seemed to hearken with more Attention than she usually gave to any thing. Mrs. Orgueil, recollecting she had heard Cynthia tell this Story, and having some Suspicion that it was of her own Invention, grew so out of Humour, that had any Person been present, who had not been thoroughly acquainted with Mrs. Orgueil, the poor Girl must have appeared to have been guilty of some great Crime; and yet her Crossness only broke forth in Hints; for she was so unhappy as to harbour in her Breast what she did not chuse her Servant should find out. But she desired, her Child might not be poisoned with a parcel of nonsensical Stories; for she had much rather, she said, have found her diverting the Child with some of her new Play-things. Then she threw about all the stigmatizing Words she could think on, such as Creatures, Trollops, &c. till poor Betty Dunster was put to flight, and durst not, for a long time, approach her enraged Presence.
But I shall not here any longer dwell on the Behaviour of Mrs. Orgueil to our Society, which was sometimes extremely civil, and at other times over-bearing and insolent; and I shall also pass over the various ways she practised to sow Dissention where there was no Soil for it to grow: nor will I relate the innumerable perverse and sly Tricks of her Daughter Henrietta-Cassandra, or the Patience and obliging Behaviour of all the Children, to please and divert the wayward Mind of a Girl, bred up in the very School of Insolence; but will pass on to that Period of Time (which was nine Years after our Society left London) in which David received a Letter from Mr. Parker, his Attorney, acquainting him, that the Cause was given against him; but that Mr. Ratcliff advised him to appeal it to the House of Lords. Of this Advice, as it came not from Mr. Ratcliff himself, David Simple took no Notice, but ordered Mr. Parker to bring in his Account; and after settling that, and all his other Expences, he found himself worth to the Value of One hundred Pounds, and no more.
David wrote directly to Mr. Ratcliff, acquainting him with his Resolution of taking a very small House in the same Village where they now lived; and that, in Conformity to their reduced Circumstances, they all intended to help towards the Support of their Family by the Work of their Hands. To this Mr. Ratcliff returned an Answer, full of the warmest Professions of Friendship; expressive of the most poignant Grief for his Misfortunes; adding the strongest Assurances of future Favour to his God-son little Peter, and the most hearty Wishes for his Success and Prosperity. But not any Mention or Hint was there to be found in this Letter, of the least Intention to give any present Assistance to the Distress of his dear Friend, which (by his own Confession) he imagined to be so very great, that he declared, "It pierced his very Soul."
About a Week before David received Mr. Parker's Letter, Mr. Orgueil and his Wife were gone into Yorkshire, intending to stay three Months; and in their Absence David fixed the before-mentioned Resolution; and no sooner was it fixed, than put in Execution. The small House was taken. The other was quitted. All the unnecessary Furniture was sold, to pay off the Rent; and every Servant was discharged, but one honest Girl, who had lived with them ever since their Marriage, and now begged to remain, in order to assist in the most laborious Part of their Houshold Work.
Thus settled in their humble Cottage, still might our Society retain the Name of The happy Family. Little Camilla, now eleven Years old, was more serviceable both to her Parents and her Brothers and Sisters, than many Girls of sixteen are either capable or willing to be: and the old Gentleman used to say, he would not change his two little Handmaids, Fanny and little Cynthia, for the best Waiting-maids in the King's Dominions. Little David, by his Spriteliness and engaging childish Play, gave them continual Entertainment: and could any of those People (if any such there are) who cannot believe that Happiness can subsist without Riches, have been Witnesses to the Mirth and Chearfulness that every Day passed in the thatched House of David Simple, they would not have believed but our Society were secretly possessed of some locked-up hidden Treasure. A Treasure, indeed they had; but locked up no-where, but in their own clear Breasts. As they knew not Guilt, they knew not gloomy Anguish of Mind: and as they had suffered, as yet, no material Separation, so they had not tasted of that temporary Sorrow, which, though enough to embitter our Cup, is not sufficient to subdue a Christian Mind, whose Reliance on a future State is its only Foundation for Happiness.
Yet here must I pause. —And to those People who can have any Idea of the Happiness that still subsisted amongst our Society, and can conceive, that, exclusive of worldly Prosperity, they enjoyed the most perfect Harmony, will I venture to say, with Milton,"I now must change
yet no"foul Distrust and Breach
For, like Job, David Simple patiently submitted to the temporary Sufferings allotted him: and, from a Dependance on his Maker, acquired that Chearfulness and Calmness of Mind, which is not in the Power of the highest worldly Prosperity, without such a Dependance, to bestow.
A Distress arising from the Prospect of an Advancement in Fortune.
David and his Family were, to their great Comfort, quite settled in their new Habitation before the Return of Mr. and Mrs. Orgueil; for their Presence would, in all Probability, only have embarrassed them, and prevented their following their own Schemes with proper Alacrity: and, if any Judgment can be formed by their general Method of acting, this Couple would have been very generous of such Advice as David's Circumstances would not admit him to follow; which Advice, nevertheless, they would not have given him the least Assistance to pursue. But, very unexpectedly, on their Return Mr. Orgueil expressed his Concern for David's broken Fortune, in Terms as strong as his Philosophy would suffer him; and kindly made a Proposal for Valentine and Cynthia, which appeared highly to their Advantage. For he shewed them a Letter he had received from the Governor of Jamaica (with whom he had lived in a State of Intimacy from his Youth) acquainting him, that there was at present such an Opening in the Law, that if any Friend of his, whom he would recommend, knowing something of that Profession, would come over thither, he might easily make his Fortune. And he also added, that if the Person recommended was a married Man, he would give him a Plantation, as another Chance of providing for his Wife and Family.
Valentine, although he had been bred to no Profession, had acquired such a general Knowledge of the Laws of his Country, that, with a very little Application, he was capable of attaining a sufficient Knowledge therein; and therefore Mr. Orgueil proposed to recommend him to his Friend, the Governor, if he would undertake the Voyage. They were all filled with Gratitude for Mr. Orgueil's Kindness, and Valentine accepted the Offer with a thankful Heart.
But now first did our Society find a Difficulty in determining their future Proceedings: for although any Prospect of Success in worldly Affairs, must, at this Time, be very pleasing to them all, yet a Separation from each other, could not but be a great Abatement to that Pleasure.
David and Camilla would not one Moment have deliberated on accompanying Valentine and Cynthia, and taking with them their whole Family, had not the old Gentleman's Age and Infirmities rendered such a Voyage dangerous, and almost impracticable for him: yet his Unwillingness to part with his Son Valentine, would have tempted him to have undertaken any thing ever so hazardous. But what rendered this being torn, I may say, from each other quite unavoidable, was another Letter that David just at this time received from Mr. Ratcliff, acquainting him, that he could now give him the Pleasure of knowing an Affair he had hitherto concealed, from Fear of its Success; which was, that he had been, for some time (he said) soliciting, in his Behalf, a very great Man, for a Place, worth Six hundred Pounds a Year, requiring no Attendance; for, by paying a Deputy Two hundred, he might live entirely in the Country. Mr. Ratcliff also added, that he now found his Friend, the great Man, strongly disposed to serve him, and had got from him an absolute Promise of the Place, on the Death of the present Possessor, who was so very old and infirm, that it was thought he could not hold it above a Month. And he concluded his Letter with desiring David not to have a Thought of accompanying Valentine to Jamaica, whom he congratulated very highly on his present good Fortune.
Thus did all Circumstances at present combine to force our Society to a Separation. This Letter of Mr. Ratcliff's joined to the old Gentleman's weak State of Body before mentioned, determined David and Camilla to remain in England. But Mr. Ratcliff's total Failure of all his Promises of assisting David Simple in his Law Suit, had made too deep an Impression on his Mind, to suffer him to persuade his Brother Valentine, on the Strength of his Letter, to lay aside his Voyage, and to give up what appeared to him much the most probable Prospect of Success. They, therefore, at once determined to submit to a Parting, which they hoped might, in a few Years, be the Means of a happy Meeting to the whole Society.
Mr. Orgueil highly approved their Resolution; and his Wife, in a very particular Manner, seemed to rejoice in the good Fortune of Valentine and Cynthia; but (mixed with her Congratulations) she could not forbear advising Camilla to intreat her Friend Cynthia not to baffle her Husband's Success, and make Enemies in the Island, by her Pride; and, above all things, to be careful not to display her Wit at the Expence of her Judgment. And she also farther hinted what a Blessing it would be to Camilla, to be no longer under the Influence of Cynthia's governing Spirit.
But what made the going out of England still more irksome to Valentine and Cynthia, was that their little Daughter was in such an ill State of Health, that they dared not carry her with them; and drinking the Bath Waters was, by every one, thought the only Chance she had of being cured. The present untoward Circumstances of our Society, made it almost impossible for the Child to come at this Means of Recovery. But this Difficulty also seemed to be removed by Mrs. Orgueil; for her Henrietta-Cassandra had just now taken such a Fit of Fondness for little Cynthia, that her Mother, in order to please her own Daughter, offered, in very obliging Terms, to carry the Child with her to the Bath, whither she was going for the next Season.
This Offer carried with it the outward Appearance of every thing that could, at this Time, be pleasing; yet Cynthia, in her Heart, was more perplexed than rejoiced at it. Not from that misplaced Fondness of desiring, for her own Pleasure, to keep her Child with her, at the Expence of that Child's Health or Welfare, for she had before intended to leave her behind with Camilla, in order, if possible, for her to be sent to the Bath; but she dreaded nothing so much for her dear little Cynthia, as being subjected to the Power of Mrs. Orgueil. Yet here again she was prevailed on to give up her own Judgment: for Camilla, from knowing the Softness of her own Heart, was led into that grand Mistake, of imagining there are some Circumstances that render it impossible for any Creature, wearing a human Form, to exercise Cruelty; and she thought, that a helpless, poor, sick Infant was too strongly the Object of Compassion for any human Creature to resist its Force. Being actuated, therefore, by this Mistake, and strongly desiring that the Child might have the Benefit of the Bath Waters, she urged many Reasons to prevail on Cynthia to accept Mrs. Orgueil's Offer. She dwelt particularly on the Impossibility of her Daughter's being neglected, as honest good-natured Betty Dunster was to go with Mrs. Orgueil, and the Child would be in a manner under her Care. Cynthia, therefore, although not without great Reluctance, yielded at last to the Persuasions of Camilla, and gave an unwilling Consent.
A Letter now came to Mr. Orgueil, from the Master of a West-India Vessel, who said, that, to oblige him, he would give the Gentleman and Lady, whom he had mentioned, their Passage to Jamaica ; but that they must set out in a Day or two, at furthest, for he could not any longer delay his Voyage.
The small Stock of Money David was now possessed of, he divided with his Friends, to enable them to defray any unlooked-for Expences; and this was the first time the Word DIVIDED could, with any Propriety, have been used, in relating the Transactions of our Society; for SHARING in common, without any Thought of separate Property, had ever been their friendly Practice, from their first Connection.
It was just three Days before Mrs. Orgueil's intended Journey to the Bath, that Valentine and Cynthia, by being forced to part from their Father—their Children— (for in Affection all the little ones of this united Family, were equally theirs)—their other selves, I may say, in David and his Wife, now felt the first Stroke that had Power to reach their Hearts since their happy Union. And although they had ever made it their principal Study to fortify their Minds against ever Accident, and their chief Lesson to themselves, as well as their Children, had ever been, a patient Resignation to temporary Evils; yet Cynthia (as no ill Consequence could attend such Omission) would not, by a tender Farewel, encounter the Children's streaming Eyes, lest it should dissolve all her Resolution, and soften her too much to have any Command of herself. Therefore, going into their Room, when the Innocents were asleep, she killed the little Wretches, who were insensible of the Loss they were to suffer of so indulgent an Aunt. The next Morning Valentine and Cynthia, accompanied by David and Camilla, walked to Mr. Orgueil's House, who lent them his Chariot, to convey them to the Inn, where the Stage Coach was to take them up.
Mrs. Orgueil declared, that she never, in her whole Life, beheld so contemptible a Scene, as the parting of these four Friends —she should have been more affected (she said) than any one of them, if she had been to lose her favourite Cat; and she was now convinced, that the Friendship of our Society (and of all Societies of Wits) was mere Pretence; and that there was not one amongst them, whose Heart did not greatly resemble Marble in Hardness and Incapacity of Feeling. And this Incapacity of Feeling did Mrs. Orgueil infer from observing, that neither Valentine or Cynthia, David, or his Camilla, accompanied the Word FAREWEL, with either Tears or Complaints: for, instead of putting on sorrowful or gloomy Countenances, they rather endeavoured, by an apparent Chearfulness, to lessen each other's Grief. But as Mrs. Orgueil understood not real Tenderness, it was no Wonder she should misinterpret such Behaviour; and that for Resolution she should read Insensibility.
Such as are acquainted with this Society, or have themselves experienced a Separation from those they love, can, without my Help, inform Mrs. Orgueil, that Valentine and Cynthia, the Moment the Chariot drove from the Door, could no longer contain their Grief. Soft Tears of Sorrow flowed from their Eyes, which could only be restrained and wiped away by their Regard to each other's Peace of Mind.
Mrs. Orgueil, although she delighted to relate what she called the insensible Behaviour of our Society, on their Separation, yet wilfully omitted publishing the Sorrow which David and his Camilla could not forbear expressing as soon as they knew their Friends were out of the Reach of being hurt by their Tears. But their Behaviour I also shall omit relating, as it bore so near a Resemblance to that of Valentine and Cynthia, that it might justly be called a Repetition. But yet, as Mrs. Orgueil's grand Point was to prove Cynthia's Insensibility, and Want of Friendship for Camilla, she would readily have granted that Camilla had some Degree of Friendship for Cynthia; and would herself, on that Account have published Camilla's Grief, when the Chariot drove from the Door, had she not been aware of the Conclusion that might naturally have been drawn from thence; namely, that as the four Friends behaved with equal Strength of Mind, when together, it was very probable, they might be equally overcome with Sorrow, when parted.
David and his Camilla, on arriving at their own Cottage, were surprised that not their own Maid, but Mrs. Dunster, should open the Door to them; she soon began to beg them not to be offended with the Maid and Miss Camilla, who (she said) had set out on foot, accompanied by her Husband and Daughter, in order to meet Valentine and Cynthia at the Inn, where they were to meet the Stage Coach. "And, indeed, Madam (adds the good Woman) I believe your sweet Daughter would have broke her Heart, had she not seen the last of her dear Uncle and Aunt." She had scarce finished her Tale before the Maid arrived, leading in the little Camilla, whose usual Joy on the Sight of her indulgent Parents was something abated, by the Fear of having offended, because she was ordered not to rise that Morning. Yet this Fear did not induce this amiable Girl to run from, but towards her Mother's Arms, and, falling on her Knees, she, by her streaming Eyes, implored Pardon for her Fault, and expressed that Affliction for their general Loss, which, from the Fullness of her tender Heart, she was unable to utter.
In which is seen the anxious Concern of David for his Brother's Child.
David and Camilla very sensibly felt the Loss of their much valued Friends. Their Minds, capable of the highest Enjoyment that innocent and spritely Conversation can give, must necessarily have some Reluctance at parting with Valentine and Cynthia; and the old Gentleman's truly paternal Heart was filled with anxious Cares for his Children's Welfare. It was, indeed, impossible for any the least Link of this Society to be loosed without being strongly perceived by all the rest.
As the modest Mind of Camilla ever fled for Protection and Refuge to David's Understanding, so under his kind Directions she walked securely free from Fear or Guilt; and as David's Understanding never suffered him to go astray from the Path that led to his real Happiness, he chearfully turned the brightest Side of every Accident to his View. He knew not Despondency; and, as his own Pleasure was heightened by communicating Delight to others, he contrived every Method in his Power, of raising in his own Mind, and in those of all his Family, the most agreeable Images. He often said, that Mankind in general, notwithstanding all their pretended Search after Happiness, seemed to him to be so totally ignorant of any rational Method to pursue it, that they acted as absurdly as a Refiner would do, who should carefully preserve all the Dross he extracts from Gold, and cast the Gold, as worthless Dross, into the Sea. Now, therefore, if by any the smallest Mark of Dejection in Camilla's Conntenance her indulgent Husband thought she felt this Separation from her Brother and Friend too sharply, he kindly led her Mind to consider, that she was most probably grieving at the very Means of their Friends Prosperity; till, by that pleasing Prospect, the Image of her own Loss slid from her Thoughts, and dissolved in her Husband's Kindness.
Yet David and his gentle Wife enjoyed but a small Respite before they were attacked by an unforeseen Stroke; which they could not avoid lamenting, although they endeavoured, as much as possible, to resign their Minds, and to submit to their Creator without repining.
One Morning old Mrs. Dunster, the Mother of Betty Dunster, before mentioned, came to see Camilla. The good Woman was the Picture which Hamlet describes: her Arms were folded a-cross; she hum'd and ha'd—hinted, that she could—and, if she would—and threw out many dark Hints about People and Folks; such as, "That People, when they took other Folks Children, should take Care of them, and not pretend to do them a Kindness, and make them Slaves to their own Children. To be sure, nothing was too good for their own. —If they were never so cross, they were sure not to lack. —It is a true Saying, that Money do make the Mare to go. —But other Folks Children be made of Flesh and Blood too, thoff they ben't so rich; and may catch Cold, and be ill, and die too, as well as Quality Folks. —For we be all God Almighty's Creatures, and he gives his Blessing to all alike. —I warrant, poor Children must not catch cold, thoff they do lie in a wet Room—to be sure, they must be well, whether they be well or no— they must have no Privilege of being ill as the rich have." All this the poor old Woman run on, intending very well, though her Expressions were something odd; for by the Privilege of being sick, she meant, of being taken care of, when sick; and the Reason of her broken Sentences, was, that she did not dare to speak out, because her Intelligence must come from her Daughter, who lived with Mrs. Orgueil.
Camilla, who was naturally endued with a great deal of Sagacity, and who always employed that Sagacity in watching over the Welfare of whatever belonged to Cynthia, easily perceived, by the old Woman's broken Sentences, that there was no Safety for little Cynthia, but her being relieved from the Power of Mrs. Orgueil ; and (according to her Custom) was hastening to open her Heart to her Husband, when she received the following Letter.
"WE had a pleasant Journey to the Bath; and should have had a much pleasanter, if it had not been for Cynthia's Daughter, whose Humours, indeed, are intolerably troublesome. I wonder she should have been bred up, to give herself such Airs, as she can have no Prospect of any Fortune; but these Wits —Well, I'll put it into my Litany, that my Child mayn't be a Wit. The little Hussey sets up for such Delicacy! she pretends she has got a Cold, and fancies she lay in a wet Room the first Night of our Arrival; but I know it is all Humour, because she was contradicted. Nothing would serve her, truly, but to lye with my Miss Cassy, though she knows the poor Child hates to lye with any one, but her own Maid, whom she is very fond of; for it is a gentle, loving, little thing; and I will not suffer her to be vexed, and spoil her Eyes with Crying, to please any humoursome Brat in England. I wish the delicate Puss Cynthia mayn't be glad to have any Place to lie in, before she dies. I love to confer Favours; but the Ingratitude of this World is enough to make one forswear the Thoughts of laying an Obligation on any Person. —I know, Camilla, you have too much Good Sense, to be offended at my free Manner of speaking; for I intend to be a Friend to the Girl, and break her of her perverse obstinate Humours. I am glad, for her sake, she fell into my Hands, and will have the Example of my sweet-tempered Puppet continually before her Eyes."
"I am, Madam, &c.
"Mr. Orgueil desires his Compliments."
The Matter of Fact, which, at present, must appear confused, between the Account in Mrs. Orgueil's Letter, and the dark Hints thrown out by Mrs. Dunster, was thus.
When Mrs. Orgueil set out, with her own Family and little Cynthia, to the Bath, Mrs. Orgueil, for fear of crowding her Henrietta, would not suffer Cynthia to have any other Place in her Coach, than a Box placed at the Bottom for that Purpose, which, being corded, and Cynthia very weak, made her so uneasy that she modestly mentioned it: poor Infant, she had never lived in any other Family but David's, and ignorantly thought that Redress (epecially if easily come at) was the natural Consequence of every reasonable Complaint! but being told, that it was impossible she could be hurt; and being ordered, with an insolent Tone of Voice, not to be humoursome; she practised the Lesson of Patience, her Mother had taught her, from the time she was capable of profiting by any Instructions; and, whatever Pain she might suffer, complained no more.
When they arrived at the Lodgings taken for them at the Bath, the House was so full, that they could not covneniently be accommodated, but by little Cynthia's lying with Henrietta, who, on this Occasion, fell into such a Passion of Rage and Tears, for fear her Maid (whom she took all Opportunities of scratching and fighting with) should be separated from her, as frightened her Mother out of her Wits, and made her fall on little Cynthia in all the Terms of Reproach she could invent, or think of; although not so much as one Word fell from the innocent Child's Lips, to give her any the least Provocation.
At last the Mistress of the House said, there was one little spare Bed, up in the Garret, in which the Child might lie, after this one Night; but, as it had been washed that very Morning, she was afraid Miss would take cold. On this Mrs. Orgueil mustered her whole Stock of Insolence into her Countenance, repeated the Word Miss half a dozen Times; and then desired Miss to go to-bed, without any Whims or Airs. The Child, fatigued with her tiresome Journey, with a pale and wan Countenance, obeyed, wondering what was the matter; for, hitherto, she had been too happy to fear feeling the Effects of Anger, without, even in Thought, giving the least Offence.
When Mrs. Orgueil was, for the present, rid of this most dreadful Enemy, she began to fondle her Henrietta, for being so loving. Poor little thing! She loved her Maid. She was the most gentle loving Child! Indeed, all her Acquaintance said, she took after her Mamma, in every thing. Miss, indeed! She should be sick of the Word as long as she lived; she supposed Miss wou'd be just such another Wit as her Mother. Then she began to sigh and lament over little Henny ; no body pitied her, though she looked so pale, and was so tender in her Constitution; she had lost her Appetite too, lately, and would certainly, poor little dear Creature, go into a Consumption.
It may appear something odd, but at this very time, when Henrietta, in the Eyes of her Mother, was this weakly, sickly Child, every impartial Person plainly saw that she was a fresh-coloured healthy looking Girl, and had no Distemper, but a little Weakness in her Eyes (those Eyes Mrs. Orgueil was so afraid should be spoiled) arising from her continual crying, because she could not discover her own Inclinations.
At the Time Mrs. Orgueil wrote the foregoing Letter to Camilla, little Cynthia was afflicted with a fixed Pain in her Head, occasioned by a violent Cold given her in that wet Room she lay in the first Night of her Arrival at the Bath. It might reasonably have been hoped that the seeing the poor Child's Pain would have mollified Mrs. Orgueil; but so far from it, that it seemed rather to irritate her Passions, to find that a Consequence should attend her Commands, which she had declared could not attend them: nor could she suffer little Cynthia to have a Moment's Peace; for Henrietta now took a Fancy to play and make all manner of Noises in her Room; and if Good Nature prompted any of the Family, in Compassion, to try to prevent this which was Play to her, but Death to Cynthia, Henrietta had nothing to do, but to fall a blubbering in Mrs. Orgueil's Sight, who always immediately gave Orders that Cynthia should not dare to pretend to be disturbed by only a little innocent Play; and should know her Station enough to humour the poor Child. And yet so strange was Mrs. Orgueil in her Humour, that one Evening (although that very Day she had sent Cynthia one of the above practicable Orders) having a Pain her own Head, and Henrietta making a Noise with drawing about the Chair, as she used to do in little Cynthia's Room (and not making the proper Distinction, who she was at Liberty to disturb, would not desist) this fond Mother, in a violent Rage, beat her with an uncommon Severity.
This Behaviour of Mrs. Orgueil can no otherwise be accounted for, than that on the one hand she opposed Cynthia's Daughter to something she could call her own; and, on the other, Henrietta-Cassandra was forced to yield the Pre-eminence to a yet dearer Friend, namely, herself.
In short, Mrs. Orgueil, from their first Acquaintance, had suffered an inveterate Hatred to Cynthia to take Possession of her Mind, arising from a Suspicion, fatal to her Peace, that, notwithstanding her great Superiority in Equipage, Dress, and Riches, some few of her Acquaintance were foolish or mad enough eo prefer Cynthia's Company to hers. Now this same uneasy Suspicion (which, without any great Harshness, may be said to be nearly related to Envy) again haunted her on Account of little Cynthia and her own Henrietta-Cassandra; every kind Word that was said to the former, she imagined was a Robbery from the latter; and it would certainly be very unreasonable to demand any other Account of her Cruelty.
David and Camilla, on the Receipt of Mrs. Orgueil's Letter, immediately resolved to have the Child Home; but some Difficulty arose concerning the Method. They feared she was too weak to bear any manner of travelling which their Purse could reach; but David, who was always ready to expose himself to Difficulties for the sake of his Friends, and driven on by the Thought of Valentine and his Wife's Grief, in case they should lose their Child, immediately set out on foot for the Bath, that he might preserve the little Cash in his Possession, in order to convey little Cynthia home, as he should find it necessary.
David, when he saw little Cynthia, was shocked at the Alteration of her Countenance. Her pale and languid Looks sufficiently expressed her Condition. And now all Consequences vanished from his Mind, and no Thoughts remained, but that of saving his Friend's Child.
Mrs. Orgueil would not assist him with any Vehicle or Horses, for she was angry at losing the Object of her Power: but had she thought her in any Danger, she would have been the first to have sent her away; for, although she could wilfully and unprovokedly cause the Misery of her Fellow-creatures, yet the Thought of Death, especially in her House, would have filled her with the utmost Horror.
David immediately hired a Chariot, and, in his Arms, conveyed little Cynthia to his Camilla, who employed her most diligent Care to make the Burthen of her Distemper as light as possible; but all Care came too late, for the Child was too far gone. Her Fever daily encreased, and she did not outlive her Change of Situation, from the dreadful Tyranny of Mrs. Orgueil to the tender Care of Camilla, above a Week.
David's little Family much lamented their Cousin, for she was a pratling spritely Child, and innocent of one Thought of Offence towards any Mortal.
Camilla reflected with the most poignant Affliction, that she had suffered her dear Brother's Child to go to Mrs. Orgueil; and, in the first Attack of her Grief, her Mind was so weakened, that she accused herself of being her Destroyer. But David, altho' the Picture of what Valentine and Cynthia must feel, on hearing such News, was deeply imprinted in his Imagination, and made a strong Effort to subdue his Mind; yet did he preserve Steadiness enough to conquer his own Passions, to comfort his Camilla, and again to restore his little Family to Harmony and Peace.
In which is a Letter from a Friend.
The first thing David now did, was to write to Valentine and Cynthia. It was the most difficult Task he had ever undertaken; yet he so executed it, that he omitted no one Alleviation to that Sorrow, which the chief Purport of his Letter must occasion: the Sympathy of his own Mind with the Persons he was writing to, enabled him to raise such Images, and use such Expressions, as were best suited to give Comfort.
And now our Hero and his little Family were again resuming their former Serenity, when David received the following Letter from Mr. Ratcliff.
"I am truly concerned to find by your Letter, that you have built so strongly on my Intentions to serve you; that those, who will not look on your Actions through that partial Medium of Friendship, which I have ever done, will find too much Reason for taxing you with Imprudence. How many Men have deprived themselves of the Means of living comfortably, whilst they have grasped after the Power of living luxuriously. The Fable of the Dog, who lost the Substance by catching at the Shadow, though learnt in our Youth, seldom is remembered when it will be of Service to us. After what I have said, it is almost unnecessary to tell you, that all Hopes from the Quarter you so much depended on, are at an End; and I have received a positive Refusal; not that my Friend, the great Man, would deny me any thing for myself, for he has often urged me to accept of Places of great Importance, which I have hitherto declined; nor do I believe I shall ever bring myself to undergo the Fatigue of a public Employment. —An earnest Desire to serve and assist my Friends, sometimes makes me stagger in my Resolution. And should I ere long have it in my own Power, I need not repeat my Promises, to use that Power for the Service of my dear Friend. But I desire to raise no Expectations: Good Fortune will not be the less welcome for coming unlooked for. It is every one's Duty, to conform to their Circumstances. How many melancholy Examples have we before our Eyes, of whole Families falling to Decay through Negligence and Extravagance; and then expecting to be supported in Idleness by the Prudent and Industrious! I mean this as no Reflection on you, my dear Friend; for I know your Intentions are, to breed up your Family in a Way suitable to their Circumstances. Mrs. Ratcliff desires me to tell you, she hopes Miss Camilla does not neglect her Needle: she read, with friendly Concern, the Pleasure your Wife expressed on Miss's Genius for Music and Painting; such things may be encouraged in young Ladies born to a Fortune; but —no longer ago than last Week, a Person was recommended to wait on Mrs. Ratcliff—she was a younger Daughter to a Baronet, who, dying abroad, left a Family of eleven Children, all unprovided for. The young Creature was just nineteen; not handsome, but very genteel in her Person. She spoke French extremely well, wrote an exceeding good hand, and was a perfect Mistress of Accounts; had profited also so much by the Instructions of her Mother's Housekeeper (while she kept one) that there was no kind of Sweetmeats, Jellies, &c. that she was not qualified to make: her own natural Genius for Music had made her, without any Master, a great Proficient that Way; and her Sketches in Drawing shewed, that, had she applied herself to that Science, she might have equalled, if not excelled, the greatest Masters in that Art: but when my Wife came to ask her about working at her Needle (the chief Employment Mrs. Ratcliff delights in, or confines her Women to) the Girl answered, that she knew, indeed, all sorts of Work, and believed no body could find Fault with the Neatness of her Performance; but, for want of Use of her Needle (as she confessed she never much delighted in it) she had so slow a Hand at Work, that she could not promise to make a fine Holland Shirt under a Week, or five Days at the least: upon which Mrs. Ratcliff, having heard enough, soon dismissed her; and advised her to stick more to her Needle, and leave off her Pen and her Pencil; and she might then not have the Misfortune to lose so good a Place as her's would have been to her. I know you and your Wife have Sense enough to make the proper Use of this Story, and, if you do, I doubt not but it may be in Mrs. Ratcliff's Power hereafter to recommend Miss Camilla, if she herself should be so engaged as not to be able to take her to be about her own Person.
"I should have been glad (without my asking it) to have had a Specimen from my Godson, how he improves in his Writing, and what Progress he makes in his Latin. I would not have him neglect his Book on any Account; but, as I design him for the University, he need not apply himself to Numbers, for which, I find, his Master boasts of him, as if he was to be bred a Mechanic. I should be very sorry that the Expence I have already been at, should be all thrown away; which I shall think, if he does not make a great Figure in the literary World. As I have no Child of my own, I always consider him as my adopted Son; and, as he is likely to be in so different a Station of Life from the rest of his Family, I should be glad you would be as sparing as possible of sending for him from School, lest, seeing the low way of Life of his Brothers and Sisters, he might get into a mean way of thinking; which is what, in an Heir of mine, I could not endure.
"As I have given you a positive Answer about the Place you hoped for, I should take it well not to receive any farther Importunities from you, on that Head. I cannot answer for the Promises or Expectations given by another; but for my own—think of my Behaviour to your Son, and you cannot doubt my good Intentions towards him; nor, I hope, you will never have Cause towards yourself to doubt the real good Wishes and Affection of
"Your very sincere, and
"P.S. I have sent, by the Carrier, a new Suit of Clothes, Hat, Stockings, Shoes, &c. for my God-son; and in the same Box my Wife has put up a green Damask Sack, dirted but on one Side, which, turned, will make a Nightgown for Miss Camilla, and a Coat for little Fanny."
However disagreeable the Purport of this Letter must be to David, yet it was so worded, that a Mind so much the Reverse of all Despondency as his was, could not admit absolute Despair. He considered, that this Letter was in answer to one, in which he had set forth his own Circumstances in much stronger Terms than he would have done, had he not been frightened by the Consideration, that if little Cynthia should linger long in her Illness, he was totally incapable of supporting her: he therefore endeavoured, as much as possible, to cherish the Image, that Mr. Ratcliff's chief View was to prevent his being too sanguine in his Hopes; and, consequently, feeling more sharply any Disappointment. David would not doubt the Friendship of a Man, who gave him the Pleasure of thinking, that, whatever Misfortune befel him, his eldest Son would, however, have an Education, and a good Prospect of being provided for. The Expression, he would not doubt, may, at first Sight appear strange; but, I believe, the Man, who has, with any moderate Degree of Carefulness, examined his own Mind, will not think the Discovery very new, that our Inclinations often stifle and render abortive Images beginning to arise in our Minds, and place others in their room.
The suspicious Man may often thank his Inclination for Discoveries, which he chuses to place to the Account of his sagacious Penetration; and to the same Inclination also he may frequently return Thanks, for many fancied Discoveries, whose Objects have no Existence, but in his own Brain.
But the most sanguine Hopes of David Simple only served to keep up a Chearfulness in his own Mind, and enable him to communicate that Chearfulness to others; for they never actuated him to be imprudent: he, therefore, on the Receipt of this Letter, changed his small House for a Habitation yet less, redoubled his Diligence, and if ever Poverty and Oeconomy subsisted together, it was in this Family.
By Poverty I mean distressed, not narrow Circumstances; and being, with a large dependent Family, in a Situation in Life, that you know not how to go out of, and yet are not able to support; and when you pay Cent. per Cent. for every Necessary of Life, by being obliged to buy every thing by retail: when, if you endeavour to keep up a fair Out-side, and paint not your Poverty in the most ghastly Shape, your nominal Friends will call you extravagant: whilst, on the other hand, if you set your Poverty in full View, such Friends will generously think you too low for their Regard; and comfort themselves, that you are too impotent to hurt them, even in the Eyes of the World. Then it is but watching over every minute Circumstance of your Life, exaggerating every human Failing, and it will be easily believed, you deserve your Fate, and they do right in abandoning you to it. Nay farther, it is very easy, in this Case, to deduce, by a malicious Representation of true Matters of Fact, every Action of your unhappy Life, from Motives you never once dreamed of. And this Advantage is generally taken when your Mind is in a State of the utmost Timidity, when the warm Affections of your Heart make you look with Dread and Horror on every Step you take, lest the Consequence of it should be any ways prejudicial to the chief Object of your Love. —This is Poverty! this is true Distress! But to eat the Bread earned by honest Labour, which Custom has made light, is Riches, and the Height of Luxury, in the Comparison. This, indeed, is the only Situation I can imagine dreadful enough to conquer a Mind endued with true Principles, or armed with any moderate Degree of Fortitude and Patience.
In such a Situation, at present, was David Simple; and, slight as was his Support by the Hopes of Mr. Ratcliff's Friendship, yet he dared not let go his Hold, being then sure of falling to the Ground, and pulling with him his beloved Camilla, and their common Care, their tender Infants.
By the Help of this Timidity both Mr. Ratcliff and Mr. Orgueil got an Ascendancy over the Mind of David Simple, that no Creature on Earth could ever have obtained, had SELF alone been his Consideration. Not even if they had found him in a sick Bed, loaded with Poverty and Pain, no human Arm extended for his Assistance, his only Support a Conscience void of Offence, and Hope in another Life. But he was entangled in the Snare of his Love for others, and his Inclination blinded his Judgment, till he in a manner forced himself to fancy he believed that Ratcliff and Orgueil would be his Friends, against that almost infallible Proof to the contrary, that the true Words of Kindness never fell from their Lips.
But such is human Frailty, that the Timidity of Mind which generally attends ardent Wishes, often destroys all our Purposes, and our Fate precipitates us into Over-sights, which bar us of that Success we might possibly obtain, were our Minds more indifferent, and consequently more at Liberty to exert themselves.
Poets feign, that Bodies have by Fear been turned into Stone; and Experience teaches us what surprising Effects Fear will have on the Mind.
Persons who sit round a warm Fire-side, their Minds unshaken by any Accident from Fortune, and free from Affliction, are very little qualified to judge of the Actions of a Man, whose Affairs are in such tempestuous Storms, that they require a Pilot, endued with more than human Skill, to guide their Course.
But here I would not be understood, as if David Simple, overcome by Timidity and Despair, raged or raved at his Misfortunes; or as if he did not exert the utmost human Patience, in submitting to them: only that his Mind was so far weakened and conquered by the Distress of his Family, that he could in some Measure be imposed on by the Appearance of friendly Colours, although the most certain Knowledge, Experience itself, had given him great Reason to believe those Colours hid beneath them what is most shocking to a distressed Mind, namely, Hardness of Heart.
A Visit, in which David receives much friendly Advice.
About this Time Mr. and Mrs. Orgueil returned from the Bath . And here I must exculpate Mr. Orgueil from having any Hand in the ill Usage of little Cynthia. He was generally in his Study, contemplating on his Rule of Rectitude, and exulting in the Beauties of Human Reason; that if any Man should be so mad as to blaspheme this his much reverenced Idol, he might be ready to do his Duty, and write an elaborate Rhapsody in its Justification.
Mrs. Orgueil, a little mollified, or a little frightened, by the Sound of Death, and finding (in the Phrase of old Mrs. Dunster ) that in that one Circumstance, at least, the Poor have an equal Privilege with the Rich, joined with her Husband in sending a very civil Message to David and his Wife, desiring to see them and their little Daughter Fanny, who was about the Age of Henrietta-Cassandra. Camilla sighed, and let fall the Words, "Can I visit that cruel Woman!" David was unwilling to desire any thing irksome to Camilla, but knowing Mr. Orgueil's Innocence concerning the Treatment of his dear Niece, and that if the Correspondence between Mrs. Orgueil and Camilla was dropped, the inveterate Spirit of the former would not suffer him to have the Shadow of a Friend in her Husband, he was inclined that his Wife should accept the Invitation. But, whilst he was deliberating, an Accident happened, that suddenly determined him, and consequently Camilla, to accept the Invitation of Mrs. Orgueil. For the old Gentleman, her Father, complained that he felt an unusual Weakness, and a very uncommon Pain in his Head; on which David, with a Countenance that denoted a Terror arising from Compassion, said, "My dear Camilla, we must not, at present, cease to grasp every the least glimmering Hope of Friendship."
Camilla answered by an immediate Compliance. She dressed herself and her Child, although only in Stuff, as neat as any Fortune could have made them, and attended her Husband to Mr. Orgueil's.
When they were arrived, David was carried into the Study, and Camilla, with her Child, was ushered into the Drawing room, where they were received by Mrs. Orgueil, Miss Henrietta, and Lady Mary B—, a young Lady of about sixteen, that Mrs. Orgueil had brought with her from the Bath.
Camilla, at her first Entrance (all little Cynthia's Sufferings rushing at once on her Imagination) was greatly shocked; but Mrs. Orgueil received her with such uncommon Civility and Good-humour, that her Mind, naturally more bent to be pleased than displeased, by Degrees grew tolerably chearful and serene.
In this History Mrs. Orgueil, in her Transactions with our favourite Characters, does not often appear in a very favourable Light; but let it not, therefore, be imagined she could never practise the amiable, for nothing could be more so than she was at this Time, till an accidental Mention of Valentine's Wife wrought in her an almost incredible Change; her Countenance, which was before placid, now grew fierce; her Voice was raised into a disagreeable Loudness; and the small Degree of Softness with which the Death of little Cynthia had supplied her Mind, vanished, and gave Place to the rougher Passion, inspired by the hated Idea of her Mother; and she let her Rage work itself up to such a Height, that she spoke with so much Harshness even of the dead Infant, that little Fanny, who was playing at the other End of the Room with Henrietta, bursted into Tears.
Mrs. Orgueil began to be outrageous at poor little Fanny's Tears. She could not bear, she said, that Children should be suffered to be so troublesome: she would not have Miss Henny so, for the World. Indeed, now the poor Child's Good-nature made her weep, to see her Companion cry, but Fanny's Roaring was nothing but Humour and Perverseness.
As the Sum and Substance of Lady Mary B—'s Education consisted of repeated Instructions to keep up the Dignity of her Station; and that the Consideration of her own Superiority should always be uppermost in her Thoughts; Camilla's first Appearance had inspired her with Contempt: for a Stuff Gown, and an unaffected Behaviour, did not agree with the Idea she had formed of a Gentlewoman. Yet having an implicit Faith in Mrs. Orgueil's Knowledge of the World, whilst she chose to be polite, Lady Mary also thought Civility was due to Camilla; but as soon as Mrs. Orgueil chose to display herself in a different Character, Lady Mary, although without uttering a Word, added her Insolence to Mrs. Orgueil's, by looking askance at Camilla and her Child, as if they were unworthy the Honour of her Presence.
It was, indeed, an odd Scene; Mrs. Orgueil's raised Voice, Lady Mary's Looks of Disdain, Henrietta roaring because her Companion had for that Moment ceased playing with her, poor Fanny weeping, and Camilla —could not immediately take her leave, because David had desired her to stay with Mrs. Orgueil till he sent to her, having some Business with Mr. Orgueil, which he might not presently have an Opportunity of opening. But joyful was Camilla's Heart when a Message from her dear Husband released her from this her disagreeable Confinement.
David, whilst with Orgueil in his Study, spent his Time full as pleasantly as did Camilla with the entertaining Company in the Drawing room. He, in a few Words, made known to Orgueil the utmost Distress of his Circumstances, without the Use of either Rhetoric or Complaint; for his own Heart was so rent by any mournful Pictures of a Friend's Misfortune, that he could not prevail on himself to draw them. In Theory no Man breathing knew better than David that the painting your Misery in the strongest Colours, is necessary to raise what is called Compassion in a proud Mind; as a proud Mind is piqued till you are quite subdued, and the more Weakness and Pusillanimity you shew, the more will you move such Compassion: for a Man of this Turn must be reminded, that he is as much your Superior in Constancy of Mind, as in Fortune, before he can bring himself to think you are a fit Object of his Pity. I say, that although David, in Theory, knew all this, yet as he at the same time felt his own Heart so fraught with Kindness, that the very Glimpse of a Friend's Distress, was enough to make him exert every Faculty and every Power for his Relief, he could not, when he wanted the Assistance of a Friend, bring himself to treat him like one that would delight in the Image of his Miseries: in short, David's Behaviour had such an Effect on Orgueil, that he shewed great Liberality towards him, in a Commodity, which it was impossible for his Family to feed on, namely, in Advice to practise what either his Disposition, or his Situation, rendered impracticable; —to buy every thing at the best Hand, when his Circumstances forced him to pay a Hundred per Cent . for every Necessary that was expended in his House:—to manage his Family as if they all enjoyed a continued State of good Health, whether they did so or no, and whilst the Infirmities of his Father's Age made many Things necessary, that might otherwise have been spared. Nay, he advised him to lead his Life back again,—to unlend every Sum of Money he had lost by assisting the Unfortunate,—to ungive every Benefaction his happier Days had enabled him to bestow,—to unbuy every Comfort and Convenience with which he had pleased and delighted his own Family;—and to unhire that Chariot, in which he had brought little Cynthia Home from the Bath: or if I may not be permitted to give to this Part of his Conversation the Name of Advice, I cannot, with any Propriety, think of a softer Appellation for it than Reproach.
David and Camilla walked Home, each of them endeavouring to be as chearful as possible, although Mrs. Orgueil's Behaviour had revived in Camilla's Mind the strongest Sensibility of poor little Cynthia's Sufferings; and David returned to his little Habitation loaded with the additional Misery of the Arrows of Unkindness, which Mr. Orgueil had stuck in his Heart. Not but Mr. Orgueil earnestly assured him, the whole time, of the Height of his Friendship, and that he only advised him for his own Good and future Prosperity. But David now, from Despair itself, gaining some small Degree of Resolution, settled it firmly in his Mind, that he would no longer give Faith to such cruel Promises of Friendship.
In which Mrs. Orgueil feels some Compassion, and Orgueil does a generous Action.
Orgueil, as soon as David had taken his Leave, fell into a long and serious Debate with himself, whether or no his Rule of Rectitude would give him leave to send his Friend any Relief. He was sure it was reasonable to avoid all rash Proceedings, and that his Friend ought to be driven to suffer great Distress, in order to cure him of his Imprudence; for it was one of Mr. Orgueil's most settled Maxims, that Man, by the Use of his own Reason alone, has a Power to prevent or heal any Misfortune. He so implicitly worshiped Human Reason, that it appeared to him no less than Idolatry to dispute its Omnipotence; he, therefore, must necessarily condemn every Man, who is unfortunate whilst this powerful God is Part of him. To have a Deity at his Command, and yet be miserable, how absurd! for, according to Mr. Orgueil's Way of thinking, this all-powerful God, Human Reason, is yet subject to the Will of Man, and he may use it or not, worship it, abuse it, or do whatever he please with it. But in the Veneration of this his darling Idol, all Thoughts of relieving David Simple fell to the Ground. David was voluntarily miserable, for he could not be unavoidably so whilst he had a God at his Command.
Sometimes, indeed, the Consideration of the old Gentleman's Age and Infirmities a little staggered Orgueil; but then the Thought of the Chariot immediately succeeded, and the immense Imprudence of riding about in a Chariot, in such Circumstances, glared full in his View. He concealed, as much as possible, from himself, David's true Motive to it, and cherished no other Idea but that of the very Action itself; or if ever any Notion intruded, that it was done in order to save little Cynthia, it was always accompanied with the Reflection, that she was not his own Child; and it was a Shame for a Man, in David's Circumstances, to spend his Substance on Strangers.
St. Paul says, that a Man who does not provide for his own Family, is worse than an Infidel; and Orgueil allowed St. Paul to be a very fine Writer; for he, indeed, had human Learning before he became a Teacher of the Christian Doctrines: and beside, when any Text suited Mr. Orgueil's Purpose or Inclinations, no one was more ready to quote the sacred Writings, provided he might be admitted to judge them by his own Rule of Rectitude. That Paul at such a Time became a Teacher of the Christian Doctrine, was a favourite Phrase with Mr. Orgueil; nor could he endure the Expression of St. Paul's being called to the Apostleship. And, as he believed not the Miracle of his Conversion (or, indeed, any Miracle at all) he made such Conversion the common Subject of his Ridicule.
But whilst Mr. Orgueil was in this Debate with himself, his Wife entered the Room: the Conversation naturally turned on the Subject Mr. Orgueil was before meditating on. The Chariot had always been a most boiling Grief in the Heart of Mrs. Orgueil, more especially as it was for the Service of the hated Cynthia's Child. Mr. Orgueil blamed David for his Imprudence, and acting contrary to the Rule of Rectitude. Mrs. Orgueil condemned him for his Pride and Insolence; for she insisted on it, that he only made a Pretence of little Cynthia's Illness, in order to keep Equipages, and put himself on a Footing with Persons of Fortune. "What could you have done more, Mr. Orgueil (said she) if my poor little Babe had been ill?" And then she sighed as if her Heart would break, at the very Idea, that it was possible for Miss Cassy to be seized with any Distemper; for she thought it was very hard, that any thing so dignified as to belong to her, should be subject to human Infirmities.
But when Mrs. Orgueil entered on the Topic, how much it is a Man's Duty to provide for his own Family, she was never tired of the Repetition of the Word own; and her Eloquence burst forth in an almost inexhaustible Torrent of Words. She too, perfectly remembered St. Paul on this Head; as I believe she did every Word on the Side of this Question, from the Time she became a Wife; and although she never had any other Child but Henrietta, yet she was always fancying herself with-child, to keep up the Idea in Orgueil's Mind, of a growing Family.
It is almost incredible into what a Perplexity of Mind Mrs. Orgueil was continually throwing herself, to prevent her Husband's ruining himself by Generosity to David and his Family. She had, indeed, the Curse of the Psalmist, of being afraid where no Fear was; but she would not have been so extremely anxious to have prevented Mr. Orgueil from relieving David and Camilla in some very small Degree, had she not known it impossible for any Part of that Family to have any Enjoyment, without the hated Cynthia's having an equal Share at least in the Pleasure.
But Mr. Orgueil's Rule of Rectitude would by no Means suffer him to take his Wife's Advice; therefore Mrs. Orgueil never gave him any Advice at all, but by an artful Method of making him fancy he acted by the Dictates of his own idolized Reason, she prevailed on him to gratify her Inclinations: and in this Conversation concerning a Man's providing for his own Family, Hints were strowed about very thick, that Mr. Orgueil was very much in the right; as if all this Eloquence first took its Rise from his own much valued, reverenced Wisdom.
But now the old Gentleman, Camilla's Father, weakened with Age, and bowing downward to his native Earth with Infirmities, took to his Bed, in which he languished three Weeks, every Day lessening a small Degree of his yet remaining Strength. He did not appear to labour under any violent Pains, which the better enabled his Children to struggle through his Illness; but the necessary additional Expence of his Sickness they knew not how to support. Saleable Things, all but Camilla's Wedding Ring, had long been disposed of; for David and his Camilla could look down on the Distress of parting with any Thing administering only to Shew or Luxury, as unworthy their least Regard. This Ring, indeed, had a Circumstance annexed to it, which made the keeping it some Indulgence to Camilla, but no Indulgence to herself had any the least Chance of withstanding her Father's Wants, and therefore, on this Occasion, she parted with it without Hesitation.
Suspicion of any Alteration in David's Love, or that she preserved it by any Charm, was far from her Thoughts: she knew his Love was built on too strong a Foundation to be shaken by any accidental Occurrences; and when she attended her Father with this her only remaining Treasure, her filial Piety rendered her more lovely in her dear Husband's Eyes, than did even her blooming Youth and beautiful Person, adorned with all the Elegance of Neatness, when first she received that much-valued Gift from his Hands.
Camilla knelt at her Father's Bed-side, David on the opposite Side, a Witness to her tender Behaviour. She concealed her Tears, and stifled, as much as possible, every Emotion of Grief, till she could make some Pretence for retiring by herself, and, by giving a little Vent to her Sorrow, enable herself to appear again more chearful; for on such Occasions alone did she ever chuse to be absent from her Husband.
The old Gentleman, as if he was only falling into a refreshing Slumber, felt so little Pain at his Departure from this Life, that his Children were saved that most shocking of all Circumstances, beholding him in Agonies; the Course of his Years made it no unexpected Event, and the Consideration that they were disabled by their Circumstances tolerably to support his drooping Remains of Life, had he held it longer, enforced by David's Understanding, in a small Time revived the usual Chearfulness in Camilla's Countenance. And now every Distress that could possibly befal her, must bring some Alleviation with it, by raising in her Mind a secret Joy, that her Father was escaped from the Possibility of partaking in her Misfortune.
But on the old Gentleman's Death, both Mr. and Mrs. Orgueil joined in the Opinion, that they might allow themselves in the Expence of his Burial. Many were Mrs. Orgueil's Reasons for this Opinion; first, Cynthia could not possibly have any Share in what was spent on the Dead; secondly, the Word Death itself struck her with a kind of Horror, which a little damped and broke the Chain of those grand Points she was always forming to bring about; such as that her poor little Thing should not, during her whole Life, have one Jewel less for Mr. Orgueil's Generosity; or that Cynthia should be made to feel some poignant Grief, in Revenge for her daring to have an Understanding superior to her own.
And lastly, Mrs. Orgueil had one Grain of what is commonly called Compassion for the Dead: for although the Impossibility of her ever falling into Poverty was strongly fixed in her Mind, as if she had never seen or heard of any of the Vicissitudes or Chances of this mortal Life, yet sometimes she could not help being struck with the Image, that both herself and her Miss Cassy must, one time or other, share the common Fate, and fall a Sacrifice to Death.
Mr. Orgueil's Rule of Rectitude not only gave him Leave, but absolutely commanded him to bury the Dead with Decency, in order to pay all due Respect even to the Clay that had been once animated by his Idol, Human Reason. But this Agreement of Orgueil and his Wife, to bury Camilla's Father with Decency, by the Pleasure it gave her, renewed David's former Blindness, again enslaved his Mind to Orgueil, and fixed his Chain as strong as ever.
To inform my Reader, that a proud Man was blinded by Flattery, or an ambitious Man by the most distant Prospect of Favour from the Great, would be rehearsing a Matter of Fact very little worth relating: but that the same Blindness may be caused from Fears and Apprehensions of our Friends Miseries, and ardent Wishes for their Happiness, is, perhaps, not so generally known; and the Reason I leave to be discovered by the judicious Reader.
In which is some very good News.
And now a Gleam of Comfort opened itself to the View of David Simple; for he received a Letter from Valentine, that his present Prospect of Success was much beyond his warmest Expectations; and he doubted not but that in a short Time they should all be as happy as they could be made by a plentiful Fortune.
This Letter, though wrote very soon after Valentine received the News of the Death of his only and greatly beloved Child, dwelt not on that melancholy Subject, but was rather calculated to inspire the Minds of those to whom it was sent, with a chearful Hope of future Success. In it there were no Professions of Friendship, no Promises of lending or giving, but it was all writ in the plural Number, "if WE succeed," and "WE shall be happy,"— considering them all as one united Family. This, perhaps, would have been very marvellous in the Eyes of many Persons; but when David and Camilla looked within it, it did not in the least appear to them in the Light of a Miracle.
As extreme Poverty had been one of the principal Comforts to Camilla on the Death of her Father, since by that alone she could be secured from the agonizing Grief or seeing him want; so, on the least glimmering Ray of good Fortune, the Thought that her Father could not share it, was an additional Sting to his Death: but her Husband, as usual, kindly exerted his Understanding to comfort her, by shewing her how absurd it was to imagine that any Success or Prosperity in this World could make her Father amends for being again loaded with Age and Infirmities; and especially as she had Hopes in another Life, and believed that he was now in a State of Happiness. And as by this Conversation it plainly appeared to Camilla, it was not her Father's Loss, but that of her own Pleasure, she was deploring, she had such a Sense of her indulgent Husband's Kindness, that her Mind yielded to the Strength of his Reasoning, and she was comforted.
It is, perhaps; not very common to meet with Persons really desirous to perform that friendly Office of bestowing Comfort; but to find Persons with Minds gentle enough to receive it, is, perhaps, yet more uncommon. At first Sight there does not appear any thing extraordinary in what Milton affirms of Eve,So chear'd he his fair Spouse, and she was CHEAR'D.
And yet, with a very little Consideration, built on Experience, I believe no very judicious Person could imagine Milton would have said so of our common Mother after the Fall; undoubtedly he would rather have said,So chear'd he his fair Spouse, and she was CLUMM.
Had Camilla's Grief been vented in Clamour, or stamped with any visible Mark of Affectation, David would not have attempted the impossible Task of curing it; but as he was satisfied of her Innocence and Simplicity, and as he never despised any little Weakness which had unguardedly crept into her Mind, he consequently always generously removed any such Weakness.
But now as Mr. Orgueil, by his late Act of Kindness, had again fixed David's Chains, and as David's chief Pleasure was to communicate good News, he shewed, to this his new-revived Friend, Valentine's Letter; for as he considered Orgueil as the Means of his Brother's good Fortune, he thought he had a Right to the first Information of it; and he also asked his Opinion, whether it was not possible for him to raise some Money on this Prospect of Success. Orgueil looked first exceeding pleased, as thinking he was the Author of this Success—and then exceeding thoughtful. Immediately he began to consult his Rule of Rectitude, and at last, as if he had just received an Answer from his Oracle, delivered to David this formal Opinion, That if by this Prospect he could raise any little Money, great Interest would certainly be extorted for it; and therefore the Acceptance of it would be very injudicious; and added his Advice, that he should by no Means think of so indiscreet a Proceeding. David was going to reply, by putting him in Mind of a Circumstance, which he seemed to have forgot, namely, that his Family wanted Money, not for any thing that would do as well half a Year afterwards, but for the very Staff of Life, even Bread itself, daily Bread. But before he could utter his Words, Mr. Orgueil recollecting some Business of great Consequence, which demanded his immediate Attendance, begged David's Excuse, and retired to his Study.
Perhaps this Business of Consequence might be a kind Pretence, in order to leave his Advice the deeper impressed on David's Mind; for Mr. Orgueil mistook his own Meaning, when he called it Advice, for he in Reality designed it as a Command; and, whether or no his Commands were practicable, yet he expected the strictest Obedience to them.
This Manner of Orgueil's was no small Addition to David's other Burthens; for he never proposed any one Scheme for his own Advantage, without meeting with Orgueil's Disapprobation: and yet, if, finding himself thus in Chains, he pretended to exert any Freedom, or take any one Step without consulting Mr. Orgueil's inward Oracle, that too was Matter of the highest Offence.
Perhaps the essential Difference between Mr. Orgueil and David did not so much arise from their differing in Judgments, as from the Disagreement of their Inclinations; for whenever David thought of worldly Affairs, or talked to Mr. Orgueil of them, his Childrens and his Camilla's Wants, were present to his Mind; his Wishes were all centered in their Relief, and his Thoughts fixed on the most probable Method for that Purpose: whilst, on the contrary, Mr. Orgueil's Wishes were all centered in keeping up to his Rule of Rectitude, in giving such Advice as might preserve and increase his Admiration of his own Wisdom, and still retain the Man he called his Friend in Slavery and Dependance. No Wonder, then, that two Men, setting out with such opposite Views, should never join in their Opinions.
Such Conversations always left David in the highest Perplexity; for he found all Orgueil's Discourse led to something of which he had no Image, and tended not in the least to promote the strongest Wishes of his Heart: yet he could not forget that it was through Orgueil's Means his dear Valentine had now that Prospect of Success, which gave him the pleasing Hopes of once more renewing their former happy Union. Orgueil also continually professed himself so much his Friend, that David found it very difficult, whilst that Word (the utmost Force of which he so well knew) was sounding in his Ears, to believe, that whilst Orgueil's Power to relieve him was unbounded, nothing could well be further from his Inclinations.
Orgueil immediately informed his Wife of Valentine's Letter. She smiled, or rather sneered; for, indeed, the Image of Cynthia's Success did not much incline her to a Smile of Pleasure. Mr. Orgueil also told her the Advice he had given David; and in relating the Conversation that had passed between them, he often let drop the Words IF Valentine should have this Success, and IF he should generously bestow some Part of his Fortune on David; which Mrs. Orgueil greedily catched at, and said, "Indeed, Mr. Orgueil, you are in the right to make that IF. I don't know how David and Camilla may be imposed on; but I know the Art of Cynthia too well to imagine she will suffer her Husband to ruin himself on their Account. Hitherto Cynthia was well pleased to live with them as one common Family, because it was for her own Interest, I don't believe the World contains so cunning, so artful a Woman. I always had some Compassion for poor Camilla, because I saw she was so egregiously imposed on. Now I doubt not but her own Prosperity and her Friends Distress will unfold all the Treachery of Cynthia's Heart, though perhaps she will still find some Evasions to impose on poor Camilla; for Camilla is very harmless, but, poor Thing, she is very silly. I thank my Stars, Cynthia could never impose on me with all her Art; and I doubt not but that is the true Reason of the inveterate Hatred she has taken to me, and all my Family. Heaven forbid! any thing belonging to me should ever be in her Power! but I despise her—I think Contempt is the only Treatment she deserves."
Mrs. Orgueil ran on a great deal more to the same Purpose, often endeavouring with all her Might to force a Laugh against Nature, and at last concluded with a Supposition, that David was too wise in his own Conceit, to follow the Advice of his Friends.
Mrs. Orgueil (as has been observed in the Introduction) was the first Proposer of Mr. Orgueil's providing, as it was thought, for Valentine and Cynthia; nay, she even pursued it with a very remarkable Eagerness. She had, no doubt, her Reasons for it; but it would be an over-strained Complaisance to impute it to Kindness: it is rather more probable, that to separate Cynthia and Camilla was one of her Motives: for she knew, that though they might have Resolution enough to bear such a Separation for each other's Interest, yet nothing but absolute Necessity could prevail on them to consent to undergo so very irksome a Task. Then she imagined that; Cynthia being absent, she could impose whatever she pleased on Camilla. It is with Reluctance I must relate her strongest Motive, but certain it it is that her chief Eagerness for Valentine and Cynthia's going to Jamaica displayed itself, when a Gentleman, just come from thence, had related that the Place was very unhealthy, and that many of the English had lately died there, from the extreme Heat of the Climate. But this Motive lay too deep in Mrs. Orgueil's Breast even for her own Discovery of it; and she would have started as strongly at the most distant Step towards Murder, as the most tender-hearted Creature upon Earth; yet had she asked her own Heart the Question, she could not deny but she really thought it not very probable that Cynthia should be able to struggle against the violent Heat of that Climate, as nothing was more apt to weaken her Constitution.
But Mrs. Orgueil always concealed from her Husband her inveterate, inexorable Hatred to Cynthia. She confessed a Dislike to her; but he was to believe that Dislike proceeded from Judgment, and not from Envy; and therefore, in his Presence, she only vented sly Invectives against Cynthia; and Mr. Orgueil being continually employed on Subjects of a higher Nature than finding out Women's Characters, implicitly assented to her Opinion. But when Mr. Orgueil left her, and she was at Liberty to enjoy, or rather deplore, her own Thoughts, it would be very difficult to find a much stronger Picture of that Misery which constantly attends an envious Mind.
That Cynthia was in Prosperity, perhaps at that very Instant rejoicing with her dear Husband, on the Prospect of again seeing David and his Family in Plenty, was an Image but too fatal to Mrs. Orgueil's Peace; for notwithstanding what she had said to her Husband, yet she very well knew that no Pleasure on Earth could be equal, in Cynthia's Mind, to the Power of serving her Friends: for so far, in Justice to Mrs. Orgueil, must be confessed, that her private Judgment came nearer the Truth than she would confess even to her most intimate Acquaintance. But there was one Circumstance in her present Sorrow, or rather Rage of Mind, which rendered it almost insupportable, namely, that she herself had been the principal Instrument in giving Cynthia this Happiness; and, at the same time, she had some Suspicion that Cynthia (although she never dropt the least Hint of it) was not totally ignorant of the true Motives of this apparent Kindness. Poor Woman! all her Purposes were disappointed! all the pleasing Scenes her Imagination had formed, were perfectly reversed! and in this Affliction Mrs. Orgueil was peculiarly unfortunate; for she could not, as in others, dispatch hasty Messengers to all her Friends to partake it; neither could she vent it in Clamour, and then flatter herself that she had a more delicate Sensibility than all the rest of Mankind: but, on the contrary, however great the Pain might be, she was absolutely under the Necessity of endeavouring to conceal it within her own Bosom.
If Mr. Orgueil, or Henrietta, at this time had but been seized with some violent Distemper in what Abundance would Mrs. Orgueil's Tears (a lawful Plea being found) have flowed, and surely nothing but the Height of Ill-nature could have imputed them to any other but the most visible Cause.
In which is a very uncommon Dialogue.
David, on Enquiry, discovered that there lived in his Neighbourhood one Mr. Nichols, who was Steward to most of the Men of Fashion in that County, and who lent out Money on Interest, provided he had proper Security. This Mr. Nichols had taken an exact Measure of all the Lands, and knew, within twenty Shillings, what every Man was worth in all the Country round him. But when David applied to him for the Loan of Money, he at first was very shy, thinking, by his Appearance and his known Poverty, that sufficient Security might not be easily forth-coming: but when, on his Enquiries, David produced Valentine's Letter, a Conversation followed, in which neither Party could well comprehend the other, and which I will give my Reader in the Words of the Speakers.
Mr. Nichols. "And pray, Sir, please to shew me the Bond, or Note, or what kind of Security you are possessed of, by which, if Mr. Valentine should have the Success he mentions, you may legally recover any Monies of him."
David. "I have no Bond, or Note, Sir; Valentine is my Brother, my Wife's Brother, and that's the same thing."
Nichols. "All's one for that, Sir, as you observe, whether he is your Wife's Brother, or your own; but if you have no Security, no Monies will be forthcoming. A Brother, indeed! I have sent Officers with Executions into may a Man's House, whose Brothers might have prevented it, and even with very inconsiderable Loss to themselves."
David. "If there are any such Wretches, Sir, that's nothing to my Valentine. We have always lived as one Family, and considered no separate Property."
Nichols. "But you don't live together now; and if this Mr. Valentine is a wise Man, he may think it most prudent to keep separately what he hath separately gotten."
David. "If you knew my Valentine, Sir, you would not suspect him of harbouring the Thought, that he could have any Enjoyment in which I should not have an equal Share."
Nichols. "If I knew him ever so well, Sir, I should proceed on no Grounds but good Security. But, for Curiosity sake, pray, Sir, answer me one Question, in this sharing and living as one Family, that you talk so much about, has it been most in Mr. Valentine's Power to serve you, or your's to serve him? in short, which has conferred the most Obligations?"
David. "In all our Transactions with each other, I believe the Word Obligations was never once thought of by either of us, from our first Acquaintance."
Nichols. "But which of you two had the most Substance? which was the best Man?"
Here David Simple remembering the Explanation once given him of the Phrase, A good Man upon 'Change, luckily understood Mr. Nichols's last Question, and thus answered.
David. "'Till very lately, indeed, that I have been impoverished by an uncommon Train of unfortunate Events, the Balance of Fortune has been mostly in my Hands, and I have enjoyed the immense Pleasure of being able to serve my Brother."
Nichols, shaking his Head. "Ho, ho! have you so? that's so much the worse; a very bad Sign, indeed, if you have conferred Obligations on him. I have sometimes known a Man serve his Friends when he has had no Obligations to them; but many a Man has come to me, to mortgage his last Foot of Land, and all his Complaint has been of Ingratitude from those he had obliged."
David. "You don't talk our Language, Sir."
Nichols. "Not your Language, Sir? I think I talk plain English; and only want to know what Security I should have, should I advance any Monies?"
David. "If you will lend me only so small a Sum as ten Pounds, I am very willing to give you my Note, or Bond, for treble that Money; and will thankfully repay it, if it pleases God to bless Valentine: but I have no other means of so doing."
Nichols. "Treble the Sum, you say. — Hum!—but so many Contingencies— first, this Mr. Valentine may flatter himself too much;—secondly, he may die."
David. "God forbid!"
Nichols. "But we are all mortal, you know, Sir; the Life of Man is but short, and so many Accidents intervene, that a wise Man must think of all Contingencies: and if your Friend should change his Mind?"
David. "That's impossible."
Nichols. "Let me see, ten Pound— but if I should lose it all, the Interest that might be made of it in five hundred Years, with proper Management (and no one can accuse me of Imprudence) will be a prodigious Loss. However, I am so willing to serve you, that I will consider of it. I shall come your Way To-morrow, and will call on you."
David was so delighted with the Thoughts of carrying his Camilla any the least Hopes of Relief, that he took his Leave, thanking Mr. Nichols for his Promise of even considering his Request; and earnestly entreated him not to fail the next Morning: for, be it deemed ever so imprudent, such was the Matter of Fact, that he would have given a Bond for an Hundred Pounds, for that present though small Relief to his Family. But how great was the Astonishment of David Simple, at the vast Absurdity of the Man, who could calculate what the Interest of Ten Pounds would amount to, in the Space of Five hundred Years, in the very same Breath in which he was talking of the Shortness of Man's Life!
If David was astonished at this Absurdity, Mr. Nichols was no less so, at his Conversation. The Trust and Confidence David expressed in Valentine's Friendship, sounded as nonsensical in his Ears, as if he had affirmed he could safely trust a Fox with the Care of his Poultry. For Mr. Nichols was fully satisfied that Valentine's Friendship was mere Pretence, and had been hitherto counterfeited, in order to make an Advantage of David's Credulity; and he doubted not but that as soon as Valentine found the desperate State of his Circumstances, he would wisely cast him off, and avoid the Expence of endeavouring to prove himself what such a Fool as David would call a real Friend. Besides, from some Expressions dropped in the foregoing Conversation, such as—the Pleasure of serving Friends—sharing Fortunes, &c.to which Mr. Nichols gave the Name of unintelligible Gibberish, he at once had conceived a high Contempt for David, and a great Opinion of Valentine's Prudence, in that he had chose so proper a Person for a Dupe. But Mr. Nichols never once considered that David himself was a Proof, and a pretty strong one, that this Gibberish might enter into the Heads and Hearts of some at least, amongst the Race of Mankind.
However, a Bond for treble the Sum had staggered Mr. Nichols in his Resolution. He could not suspect David of a Design to cheat him; his Contempt for his Folly would not suffer him to entertain such a Suspicion; and he thought it was gaming at least with Advantage. He gave up all Thoughts of Valentine (from a Conviction in his own Mind, that he would do nothing) but resolved to keep his Appointment with David the next Morning, and watch with a careful Eye, whether the whole of what his little House and Garden contained, might, sold to a Disadvantage, amount to Thirty Pounds; and if so, he would advance him Five, on a Bond for fifteen.
Mr. Nichols would have chose David's Bond before a Security from Mr. Orgueil, if he would have given it (of which, indeed, there was no Danger) for Nichols very well knew Orgueil's Manner of acting in all Concerns about Money, for he was his Steward: and although Orgueil would not lay down the Money for David, yet had he been once Security for him, he would never have suffered his Friend to have been torn to Pieces for his Honour's sake; and Mr. Nichols would not have dared to have seized David's Goods, for fear of disobliging Mr. Orgueil; which he, on Calculation, thought was hazarding more than their Value. For Mr. Nichols had a Pair of Compasses, by which he could take as true a Measure of every Man's Disposition concerning Monies, as of his Lands. And when he did not meet with such Men as David (an Accident that did not often occur) he was generally right in his Judgment: for as his whole Mind was bent on one Point, and as the Knowledge of Characters relating to that Point was the grand Instrument of his Trade, he as mechanically acquired it as a Fisherman does the Knowledge of the proper Baits to catch the several Sorts of Fish.
It is Idleness of Mind oftener than Incapacity that bars Men from worldly Knowledge: and this Idleness never accompanies a strong Desire and Bent to any one Purpose. Nay, Mr. Nichols had even Humour upon Occasion, and found a Method of rendering his Conversation acceptable to those on whom he had any interested View; and as all his Ridicule was levelled at Poverty, he made himself an agreeable Companion at the rich Man's Table.
The next Morning, when Mr. Nichols called on David, he easily found, by observing the necessary Furniture of his little Habitation, that he might safely venture Five Pounds on a Bond of Fifteen; but he insisted on Judgment being confessed on the Bond, in order to have David immediately in his Power, whenever he pleased; but yet would not advance one Farthing more than the Five Pounds; and as small as this Sum was, it brought a present Relief that was greatly pleasing to David.
Mr. Nichols might have laid down the Ten Pounds without any great Hazard, had it not been his constant Custom, like Macbeth,"To make Assurance doubly sure."
For every thing in this small Cottage, tho' poor and plain, yet was preserved in so neat a Manner, as visibly proved that the Owners of it could not think themselves debarred of every Comfort, whilst they enjoyed each other's Company. Those People, whose Love of Property arises from the vain Desire of making a Figure in the Eyes of others, generally degenerate into Filth and Nastiness, when they can no longer gratify that Desire: whereas the Desire of Property only as far as may contribute to comfort in a Family, truly united by Love, always actuates every Individual to contribute by Labour and Industry to one another's Comforts.
Therefore in our little Family of Love, each Day was employed in Endeavours to promote its common Welfare. Camilla and her eldest Daughter were industrious in their pursuit of Houshold Business; not groaning or repining under their Labour, but looking chearfully forward to their principal Aim. The Sister and the Daughter preserving in her Mind the Thought that her little Brothers and Sisters, and her kind Father, would, by her Industry, better enjoy the Conveniencies of Life; whilst the Mother and the Wife turned every domestic Labour into a pleasing Enjoyment, by the Consideration that every Work of her Hands was for the Benefit of her indulgent Husband and his dear Infants. And David every Morning employed himself in cultivating his little Garden, the better to support his beloved Family: not one Spot of waste Ground was to be seen; Labour and Contrivance produced Plenty and Variety, in a Space so small, it barely appeared at first View sufficient for the producing any one kind of Vegetable to support a moderate Family. And this little Piece of Ground had been long neglected, as barren and not worth improving: but the Industry of David could surmount Difficulties, which to others appeared insurmountable, when attended with the Reward of seeing his Wife, his Children, or his Friends enjoy the Fruits of his Labour. He could walk, or rather turn about in his little Garden, and feel more solid Happiness from the flourishing of a Cabbage, or the growing of a Turnip, than was ever received from the most ostentatious Shew the Vanity of Man could possibly invent. He could delight himself with thinking, Here will I set such a Root, because my Camilla likes it; here, such another, because it is my little David's Favourite. And in like Manner did he study something peculiarly to please each Individual in his whole Family.
Some little Flowers too, such as Roses, Honeysuckle, and Jessamin, which required no Cost in raising, but which pleasingly revive and refresh the Senses, did David contrive his Camilla should gather; and his Look, when he saw her smile with Pleasure on the Produce of his Labour, and express by her Countenance, her joyful Thanks for his Kindness, was, to a benignent Heart, a Sight better worth beholding, than any other this World can afford; and this Reward of his Labours David was always sure to meet with, for his Camilla fully possessed that very uncommon Gift of gratefully and with Chearfulness receiving true Indulgence.
All their Children too, to the very youngest, by their innocent Prattle even over a Flower, were capable of filling their Parent's Hearts with the Height of Rapture: and one Day, at Table, little Fanny eyeing a Rose in her own Bosom (the Bush of which she had seen her Father prune) said to little David, "See, my dear Brother, what a pretty Flower this is; and how kind my Papa is, to make these pretty Flowers for us to play with and smell to." The Eyes of David and Camilla at that Instant mutually expressed an unbounded Rapture at observing this opening Blossom of Gratitude in their tender Infant.
It would be endless to enumerate the many Instances of this kind of Pleasure, which our little united Family daily enjoyed: a Pleasure that the Great, at their luxurious Tables, might reflect on with Envy, and which all the Kingdoms of the Earth could not give to Minds unqualified for it, nor by such Minds can it be even understood.
A melancholy Stroke, and a very unexpected present Relief to David and his Family.
The agreeable Scenes attempted to be described in our last Chapter, in this Part of David Simple's Life, was but too often interrupted by Distresses, ill Usage, Sickness, and Losses.
For now little Fanny, just opening to her Parents a Disposition to their Hearts Desire, was taken from them by a violent Fever, occasioned by her over heating herself in Play. She struggled with the Distemper but six Days, and then escaped from her Portion of Sorrow in this World.
How sensibly were the Hearts of the young Companions of poor little Fanny affected by her Loss! They again in her renewed their Grief for their engaging little Cousin Cynthia; nor was it easy to say which most tenderly affected the Heart of Camilla, the Loss of her Fanny, or the Tears of her other Children; yet she grieved without raging, and David bore it like a Man.
On the first View Camilla imagined that her Child's being so suddenly snatched from her, was an Addition to her Loss. But David kindly convinced her, that had she beheld her Infant long lingering in the Pains of Sickness, while she found her own Incapacity to give her the least Assistance, she would have thought the losing her in a Fever, and being but a few Days a sorrowful Witness of her Sufferings, was a Blessing in the Comparison.
David's Understanding did not follow the Example of his Friends, by abandoning him on his most pressing Occasions; but, on the contrary, was always ready to assist him, when he most wanted Assistance: and now, even by the Loss of his Child, he derived a Gleam of Comfort (and communicated it to his Camilla) from the extreme Poverty of his Circumstances, and the Indigence of his yet remaining Family.
David now wrote a Letter to Valentine, which contained only a plain Narrative of his present Circumstances, with no Exaggeration of their Badness, no deploring of his own Misfortunes; and requesting him, if he went on prosperously, immediately to remit him a Bill for as much Money as he could spare.
As Valentine wrote in the Plural Number when the Prospect of Success attended him, and in the very Letter giving an Account of this Success; so also did David dare to write, even when he was enumerating his own Difficulties.
A strange and unexpected change of Fortune had, indeed, befallen our Society since their first Acquaintance; but in themselves there was no Alteration. A Letter wrote by either, at whatever Period of Time, or in whatever Situation, had always a distinguishing Mark by which the Writer might be known, without reading the Name at the Bottom: and as Valentine's Letter contained no Professions of Friendship, no unnecessary Assurances of his own steady Affection; so neither did David's contain one Hint of Flattery, or one Expression that had even the Appearance of Solicitation.
But in the mean Time, before any Answer could come from Valentine, David's Distress was, indeed, very great; he dared not apply to Mr. Ratcliff, for fear of hurting his Son's Interest; and he knew that Mr. Orgueil's Rule of Rectitude had now strictly, I may say rigidly, commanded him not to be moved by any Compassion towards a Man, who had so imprudently neglected his Advice, although to follow that Advice was utterly impossible.
But in the midst of their Distress they received some Relief from almost the last Person in the World from whom they could have any Expectation: for Mrs. Orgueil, notwithstanding her Certainty of Cynthia's Art and Cunning, had yet conceived so horrible a Dread, lest Camilla's first Relief should come from her Hand, that rather than such a dreadful Event should come to pass, she was resolved to be before-hand with Cynthia in an Act of Kindness.
Mrs. Orgueil therefore paid Camilla a friendly Visit, made her a Present in the handsomest Manner, and behaved with so apparent a Desire of comforting her for the Loss of her little Fanny, that could she have restrained herself from throwing forth some few Hints of Wits imagining they could impose on all the World, Camilla might have been perplexed to find the Cause of this sudden Metamorphosis.
It has been before observed, that Mrs. Orgueil had the Power of being very amiable when she pleased, and when she had really an Inclination to oblige; for she had all the Advantages arising from Beauty and Address to set off her Actions in the brightest Colours. Nay, she had a lively turn to Humour, and Capacity enough to be very entertaining, whenever that Capacity was not smothered by Envy, and blunted by fixing her Mind on bringing about some Purpose she imagined necessary to her own Peace: such as that Cynthia should be disesteemed, or distressed and afflicted in such a Manner, as to disable her from exerting her Understanding. But her Capacity, poor Woman, never reached so far as the Discovery of that one simple Truth, namely, that the only Means by which she could possibly obtain her own Peace, was to conquer the Desire of bringing about any such Purpose.
All the Comfort Mrs. Orgueil now had, to make her any the least Amends for hearing of Cynthia's Success, was the entertaining and cherishing some Hopes that Cynthia in Prosperity, would, by her own Behaviour, lose the Esteem of her Friends. But the Foundation of these Hopes was so very weak, that she supported them with great Difficulty. She now therefore so behaved to Camilla, as to prepare her, on the very first Opportunity, to open her Eyes all at once, and be convinced how much she had always proved her Judgment in Relation to Cynthia, and how greatly she was her Superior, as well in Goodness as Understanding. Happy Camilla! Mrs. Orgueil stood ready to take Cynthia's Place in her Esteem.
Mrs. Orgueil had always pretended, nay, she herself fancied, that she had a little Love for Camilla: for so intricate is the human Mind, that, if not carefully watched, we often impose on ourselves as much as we endeavour to impose on others. Mrs. Orgueil, indeed, felt in her Heart a different Sensation towards Camilla, from that which she felt towards Cynthia; and to this she chose to give the Name of Friendship: but, in reality, she had not one Grain of Affection towards Camilla; only, as she envied her less, she endeavoured to set up her Understanding in Opposition to Cynthia's, for she often insisted on Camilla's Superiority in that Point.
I am well aware, that in the Course of this History, Mrs. Orgueil has declared it as her Opinion, that poor Camilla was very silly; and went so far as to compassionate her on that Account: but I believe this apparent Contradiction may be easily reconciled, by considering, that at the Time Mrs. Orgueil found Camilla's Folly, she was admiring her own Understanding in the Comparison; whereas whenever she found Camilla's Understanding, she was opposing her to the hated Cynthia.
Vain were all Endeavours to seduce any of this Society from the Friendship of the rest, by the flattering Pretence of giving them the Preference. Camilla always saw Mrs. Orgueil's insidious Design, and had laughed over it with Cynthia, who had often expressed the greatest Desire, that Mrs. Orgueil would exert the utmost of her Hatred towards her, in Love and Kindness to her Camilla . And her present Kindness to Camilla (although her Motive was not hid) was so seasonable, so useful to the promoting the great and only Comfort of her Life, the Support of her dear Husband and Children, that the Pleasure Camilla shewed in it, and the Thanks she expressed for it, undesignedly deceived Mrs. Orgueil, and made her imagine, or at least hope, that she had, for once, carried that grand Point of her Life, the gaining a Preference before Cynthia, in the Esteem of any one Person whatsoever.
In which is an Event, that the compassionate Reader would rather delay than anticipate.
But now one Stroke pursued the other so fast, that it appeared as if David and his Camilla had already enjoyed to the full, the Share of Blessings that was allotted them in this Life, and were now receiving their Portion of Sorrow: for an unforeseen Accident now happened, at which Mr. Orgueil, on his first hearing it, felt some small Concern; and Mrs. Orgueil shrugged up her Shoulders, and said, she was very sorry; but, indeed, she was never better pleased in her Life; and this was no other than David's receiving the following Letter.
"My dear Friends,
"IT is grievous to me, that it falls to my Lot to write the Words that must pierce your Hearts. My present Portion, as it is an Affliction of the deepest kind, I would wish to confine within my own Bosom; but it is impossible to conceal it—your Brother, my dearest Husband, died last Saturday, of a raging Fever, frequent in this Country, and has left me—but I will say nothing of myself. God comfort and preserve you to each other."
"Ever yours sincerely,
David and Camilla stood, for the Space of a Minute, looking at each other in silent Astonishment. The Power of Speech was lost. The Blow was unexpected, and consequently could not find them much guarded against its Stroke. Their Horror was too great to find a Vent in Tears. At last they both, in one Instant, uttered the Words, "Poor Cynthia! what must be her "present Situation!" even in that Moment considering that all Feeling was not confined to themselves. But lest this should be thought impossible by the Discoverers of the utmost Boundaries the human Mind can reach, it is confessed, that it was very legible in the very Looks of both David and Camilla, that the Image of their own deplorable Fate, should they lose each other, was not banished from their Thoughts.
But though their Grief was too big to find a Passage, yet there was a Consideration, which, when it could find Room for Entrance into the gentle Mind of Camilla, brought Tears into her Eyes: for it was attended with soft Compunction. It was one of Camilla's strongest Characteristics, that she was ready to blame herself, and not prepared with an Eagerness to justify Errors because they were her own.
And now her Folly strongly glared before her Eyes, and she condemned herself in that she had dared to imagine that she knew better than Providence, what was most for her good; when on the least Prospect of worldly Success, she added a Sting to her Father's Loss: for at the present Instant the very Image of his being again alive, was most dreadful to her Imagination.
From this Compunction Tears stole trickling from her Eyes in soft Drops; and it is impossible for any Words so strongly to represent the Picture of David and his Camilla at that Time, as these of Milton:"She silently a gentle Tear let fall
Camilla, though ready to blame herself, yet let her Forgiveness reach Home as well as to all the rest of the World. Mr. Orgueil, indeed, if he acted strictly up to his Character, would never have forgiven himself, had he been guilty of any Crime against his Rule of Rectitude; because that was offending the most rigid and inexorable of all the Deities or Idols that ever Man, in his heated Imagination, worshipped; namely, human Reason. But Camilla's Mind was modestly fearful of offending, at the same time that she placed her whole Confidence in the Mercies of that great Being, whose Laws she feared to transgress; and as soon as any Gleam of Comfort arose in her Mind, she turned her Eyes on her beloved Husband, who was her Guide and Protector, and acknowledged his kind Indulgence of not upbraiding, but endeavouring to remove her Weakness, not by studied flattering Speeches, but by chearful Looks and soft Compliance with his friendly Instructions.
The Death of Valentine was lamented throughout the Family. All the Children loved and reverenced their Uncle, and expressed their Grief in Terms suitable to their several Ages. But young Camilla was old enough to have conversed with Cynthia, who had assisted to instruct her, and ever loved and delighted in her; and therefore, her tender Mind, not yet hardened to Misfortunes, on her Aunt's as well as her Uncle's Account, felt this Stroke, if possible, more strongly than did her Parents. And as soon as she heard the fatal News, she retired by herself, and gave Way to the flowing of her Tears, till those Tears had in some Measure softened her Grief.
Mrs. Orgueil, when first she heard this News, felt something within, which she had a great Inclination to call Compassion; for, as Death was in the Case, her Mind had received some disagreeable Impressions, which she expressed in a kind of Lamentation for Valentine: but as to Cynthia, she was filled with a secret Joy, that her air built Dreams of Wealth (Mrs. Orgueil's own Words) were vanished. But when she had read Cynthia's Letter, all the highest Expressions of Contempt seemed to contend for the Passage through her Lips. She was weary, she said, of living in so ill-judging a World, as could find out any Understanding in so unfeeling a Creature: for her part, she should not have wrote such a cold insensible Letter, even if she had lost her Monkey— It was plain now, that Cynthia's Love for her Husband was all Pretence, otherwise she could not have been so unconcerned at his Death.
Mrs. Orgueil had taken it into her Head to be ashamed of shewing any Signs of Pleasure, or of suffering her Friends to give her any: but if the least cross Accident befel her, or if she was afflicted with the most trifling Disorder in her Body, she immediately sent for all her Friends, and, in Clamour and Complaints, was resolved to bestow on them their full Share even of imaginary Griefs, whilst she retained for herself nothing but the Appearance of them.
Mrs. Orgueil, indeed, on such an Occasion, could have filled a Quire of Paper with reiterated Complaints and pitiful Bemoanings of her own Misfortunes; and would have been glad if she could have sent her Friends her very Tears, that she might keep back nothing from them.
But now Mrs. Orgueil had the Pleasure of being more strongly convinced than ever, that she had always been in the right in the Judgment she had formed, and that Cynthia was capable of no Affection or Love for any other Person but herself. If she was insensible to Valentine's Goodness, it was impossible for any thing to touch her Heart; for no Man living could possibly stand so high in Mrs. Orgueil's Esteem, or be possessed of so many Virtues, as the dead Valentine; though she unfortunately never made the Discovery before she heard of his Death: for the kind Husband of Cynthia was before rather the Object of her Aversion.
It must be confessed, that Mrs. Orgueil argued very rightly, in saying, that if Cynthia was insensible to Valentine's Goodness, she must have a very impenetrable Heart: but there was one Circumstance, which, in the Height of her Contempt she forgot, namely, that this Assertion or Insinuation of hers was only attended with this Misfortune, that it was positively wanting in any kind of Proof whatever.
Mrs. Orgueil also drew a very true and very natural Picture in every Word she uttered of Cynthia: she was only again mistaken in one trifling Circumstance, for if she had but left out the Name of Cynthia, and placed her own in its Stead, it would have been an exact Copy from the Original.
Mr. Orgueil, in his Comments on Cynthia's Letter, was of Opinion, that it was, indeed, pardonable in a Woman, to talk of piercing of Hearts, and such romantic Stuff; but that he should think very meanly of a Man, who so little understood the Beauty of human Reason, as to let any outward Accident baffle its Force, and disable him from following the Rule of Rectitude: for he was immoveable fixed in his Opinion, that any Man who depends on this infallible Rule for his Guide and Support, might stand securely, and defy every outward Event, every Distress or Misfortune to which human Nature is liable.
Some Lights into the Character of Mr. Ratcliff.
This unexpected Blow of the Death of Valentine was enough to have driven most Men to Despair; but David, when he viewed his Camilla surrounded with his tender Offspring, suffered not his Thoughts to wander one Step that Way, but searched every Corner of his Heart for some Gleam of Comfort to communicate to his Camilla.
Mrs. Orgueil's Generosity was now no more. All Fear that Cynthia could have the Power of serving her Friend was at an End; and with that Fear all Mrs. Orgueil's good-natured Concern for the distressed Wife of David, vanished into nothing: and as soon as the Image of Death was a little subsided, her whole Heart exulted in the Thoughts of Cynthia's Mortification. For her fancied Love, her Compassion, her Indignation, in short, her every Turn of Mind towards Camilla, depended on some Imagination she had formed concerning the innocent though hated Cynthia.
David was prohibited from making any Application to Mr. Ratcliff by his last Letter; and whilst he had the least Hope, that his dear Son might, by his means, enjoy any future Prosperity in the World, he dared not disoblige him. But now Mr. Orgueil discovered to him a Secret, which even then greatly astonished him, though not quite so much as it would have done at his first setting out in the World; which Secret was no other than that Mr. Ratcliff was himself in Possession of that very Place of Six hundred a Year, which he had, with great Professions of Kindness, pretended he would solicit for him. David could never conquer his own natural Bent to such a Degree, as unmoved and with perfect Indifference to hear that he was treacherously dealt with by any Person from whom he hoped the least Shadow of Friendship; and this Discovery was attended with many Aggravations; for it now banished all Prospect of his eldest Son's future Welfare, which was almost the last remaining Comfort he had harboured and cherished in his distressed Bosom.
Mr. Orgueil took Care also to accompany this Information with insulting Insinuations and sly Reproaches, for his having been so foolishly imposed on, as to have any Dependance on Ratcliff's Friendship; shewing a kind of Indignation that David did not think it sufficient to have such a Patron as himself.
One of the many Blessings such sort of Friends as Orgueil generously bestow on a distressed Mind, is the insisting that when they condescend to honour with their Notice a Man inferior in Fortune (especially if so much inferior as to be in a kind of Distress) he should rest perfectly contented with whatever little they think proper to do for him, although it should not prove half enough to keep his Family from starving: for Men of this turn of Mind, look on it as a Reproof, that a Man whom they deign to call Friend, should in any Extremity whatever apply to another Patron, although they are conscious that they themselves will go but a very little way in relieving him from that Extremity.
Such Dependance is Slavery, worse than working in the Gallies: all Endeavours to please are vain: if you exert yourself, and take any one Step without previously consulting these Patrons, this they condemn as throwing them off, and seeking other Protection: and if you entirely depend upon them, they accuse you of Imprudence, in that you seem to think them bound to provide for you. And the true Source of all this odd Behaviour seems to be, that such Friends do not desire that a Man they chuse for a Slave, should be provided for; but that he should be kept on in a dependent State, with only barely enough to prevent his being starved, and by that means escaping their Power. The gaining such nominal FriendsIs a Consummation devoutly to be shun'd
by all Men who are not in Love with Slavery; and so very moderate a Proportion of Fortune would have been sufficient for David, that Orgueil's Rule of Rectitude forbid him doing half so much for him, as it would have suffered him to have done for a Man who would have thought himself miserable with treble the Sum that would have rendered David and his Family content and happy.
But from this Instant David Simple determined never more to have any Converse with Mr. Ratcliff; for he was perfectly convinced, that no good could ever come from the Man who harboured Treachery in his Bosom. But just as David had formed this Resolution, Mr. Ratcliff sent a handsome Present for his God-son, at the same Time writing to David, desiring he might be immediately sent to London.
Notwithstanding the Timidity that had seized David's Mind on the Account of his distressed Family; yet was he not so totally conquered as to suffer his Son to be educated under the Tuition of such a Man as Mr. Ratcliff. He knew temporary Misfortunes were never irrecoverable; but that the young Mind of his Son should be warped and byassed by wrong Principles, and his Heart should be corrupted by Treachery, was much more dreaded by him than any Distress whatever; even although the Weight of that Distress lay at that Instant heavy on him, and was not philosophically descanted on in the midst of a comfortable Plenty; and with all his fatherly Affection he would have made it his Choice to have beheld his Son in Job's Condition, whilst he preserved his Integrity, rather than have seen him revelling in all the Luxuries of the Earth, by treacherous and dishonest Means.
Camilla, softened for her Child's Distress, wavered in her Thoughts, and was somewhat inclined to comply with his Godfather's Request (no Wonder that she unwillingly parted with this only, the least probable Prospect of his future Prosperity): but there was no Danger she should long preserve this Inclination, when she found her Husband was firmly bent against giving up his Son into such Hands.
But in the mean time young Peter fell ill of the Small-pox; so that if his Father had not made a Resolution (which nothing could have prevailed with him to alter) against his going, it would, for the present at least, have been impossible.
David did not design even to take Notice of Mr. Ratcliff's Letter: it was a Correspondence his Soul abhorred, and which had not subsisted so long, had not the State of Timidity before-mentioned, taken from him the Power of acting what, in his own Judgment, he thought best. But Camilla prevailed on him to suffer her to write a civil Answer to Mr. Ratcliff, and to inform him that the Boy was at present too ill to take such a Journey, and they were apprehensive was breeding the Small-pox. To which Letter, by the very Return of the Post, Camilla received from Mr. Ratcliff the following Answer.
"INGRATITUDE is so common a Vice in this World, that no Man, who has any Experience, can be surprised at it, otherwise I should have been greatly astonished at the Contents of your Letter. I did not expect, after my repeated Marks of Kindness to your Boy, and some Benefactions to yourself and Husband, since your reduced Circumstances (which are too much the Effects of your own Imprudence, to deserve any Compassion; nor would meet with it, but from such tender-hearted Fools as myself.) I did not expect, I say, to have been insulted by a Refusal of the Boy's Company, when I did him the Honour to desire it. I do not pretend to guess what your Schemes are (wise ones, no doubt!) or how you intend to educate your Son and Heir: but I plainly see, by your Letter, that this Illness is trumpt up as a Pretence to keep the Boy from me—and much Good may you reap from your Wisdom—but remember, I am not to be imposed on, or (whenever you please to change your Mind) to be wheedled into looking on the worthless Brat any more; for from this Hour I renounce him.
"The Son of such Parents must have been no other than a Plague to me, had you not, by your own wise Behaviour, acquitted me from the Promise my Compassion and mistaken Opinion of you induced me to make, of providing for him; which I never would have refused doing, had you not ungratefully taken him out of my Hands.
"I know you are both too wise to take Advice, or I would still endeavour to be of some Service to you: but I can only once more repeat, that you must remember, it is your own Fault that you have no longer a Friend in"
Notwithstanding the Insults and ill-natured Insinuations in this Letter, yet so very fearful was Camilla of doing an Injury, that she would really have been concerned at the Postscript, could she have had but the most distant Thought that by her Means any fatal Consequence could possibly have happened. And she had heard so many Stories, well attested, of Persons being seized with the Small-pox by the Force of their Imaginations, that she would have had some Fears, lest that should have been Mrs. Ratcliff's Case, had it not been for one Circumstance, namely, that she knew Mrs. Ratcliff had long ago had that Distemper, and had visible Marks of it in her Face; though, in order to have an Opportunity of making herself of Consequence by her affected Frights and Fears, she insisted on it, that they were only Marks of the Chickenpox.
Mr. Ratcliff was rather a luxurious than an avaricious Man; and as by the Death of his Father he became possessed of his Estate as soon as he was of Age, in all Probability he would have ruined himself by the Profuseness of his Expences, had he not married a young Woman, whose great Beauty had inspired him with the Height of a Passion called Love. The Match, on her Side, was consented to entirely for Interest; and she had no more Love for him than for any other Man possessed of an equal Estate. But as her Disposition did not much lead her to Love, and she gave him no kind of Cause for Jealousy, Mr. Ratcliff was perfectly contented, and she gained an unlimited Influence over him; and as Mrs. Ratcliff called all Expences unnecessary, but such as tended to adorn her own Person, she restrained both her own and her Husband's Hands from any other sort of Extravagance.
When Mr. Ratcliff became first acquainted with David, he liked his Company enough to fancy he had an Affection for him. During David's Law-Suit, Mr. Ratcliff, spirited up by his Passion, was really eager for his carrying it on, and talked himself into an Indignation, that his Friend should be imposed on. Nay, when first David's Distress began to oppress him, he felt some little Compassion for him, assisted him in some Degree, and comforted him greatly by giving him the pleasing Prospect that he would provide for his eldest Son.
Mrs. Ratcliff greatly encouraged the Notice Mr. Ratcliff took of his God-son; for as she had no Children of her own, the great Perplexity and Fear of her Life was, lest he should make his Sister's Son his Heir: for, by various artful Contrivances and Inventions she had made him quarrel with all his Family. But as she was conscious that her own Contrivances, and not any Offence on their Part, had blown up all these Quarrels, she lived in continual Dread lest any Ancident should open her Husband's Eyes, and, by the breaking out of the Truth, a general Reconciliation should be effected. Mrs. Ratcliff plainly perceived by Camilla's Letter, though it was written with the utmost Civility, that she had no Intention of sending up her Son; and she was afraid, if Mr. Ratcliff should take this Denial, and send no more for his God-son, that he would be more forward to be reconciled to the Mother of his natural Heir. And it was Fear of this (and not of the Small-pox, which she knew she had already had) that had thrown her into the Agonies in which her Husband found her on his Return home.
When Mr. Ratcliff first promised David to solicit that Place for him (as the Person possessing it, although old and sickly, was yet living) he really had a faint Image of keeping that Promise: but when it became vacant, and the Friend whom he solicited gave him an immediate Hope of succeeding, a sudden Thought arose in his Mind, that as it was a Sine-Cure, and would cost him no Trouble, he might full as well accept it himself. Many Accidents concured toward strengthening this Thought. David was absent—and although it was impossible such an Action could be always concealed, yet that the Danger of the Discovery was at a Distance, made a very essential Difference. Then Mrs. Ratcliff's best Friend and most intimate Acquaintance was just married to a Gentleman of a much larger Fortune than Mr. Ratcliff's, and was preparing to be introduced at Court as highly adorned as her Husband's Fortune could admit.
Mrs. Ratcliff, from this Accident, found out that she was in great Necessity of a larger Fortune; which Discovery she had no sooner made, than she contrived, in his Fits of Fondness, to convey to her Husband: for had he been Samson, his Wife might easily have acted the Part of Dalilah.
Mr. Ratcliff having entertained a strong Inclination to let his Goddess out shine her Friend in Brightness, the Arguments that it would not be at all wrong in him to accept that Place himself, which he had at first solicited for David, all with redoubled Strength occurred to his Memory. He began to think it was too much for his Friend to have the whole Place; and he made himself believe, that he would allow him enough out of it, to make him and his little Family happy; and that by the having it in his own Possession, he should be enabled to do a more general Good.
Then a perplexed Heap of Notions crowded into his Mind, about Justice, Injustice, Prudence, Imprudence, Friendship, and Benevolence; till at last these confused Notions produced a fixed Opinion, that Partiality should not make a Man lay out his whole Stock of Generosity on one Family; but that his Benevolence should flow more universally. These and more such like Arguments had almost conquered, when they were reinforced by another, which proved so strong, it was irresistible.
When Mr. Ratcliff first solicited this Favour of the great Man, he had not positively said, whether it was for himself or another: yet he at that Time very well knew, that his Friend did not in the least understand that he was soliciting for himself. But now Mr. Ratcliff found a Method of making himself believe that his Friend the great Man positively thought he intended this Place for himself; and therefore that he was bound in Duty and Justice to accept it. And the Treachery that had a little before clearly appeared to be on the Side of his breaking his Word with David Simple, he now suddenly, by some hocus-pocus Trick, conveyed quite to the other Side of the Question; and by that Means put a total Stop to all farther Deliberations.
Mr. Ratcliff had just been practising this Legerdemain, when he received that Letter of David's, setting forth his own Circumstances, which has been already mentioned. The very Sight of David's Hand was odious to his Eyes, which will clearly account for the kind of Letter he wrote in Answer; and from that Day forward the Image of what David would think of him, when the whole Truth came out, joined to the Reflection, that David Simple partly owed his Ruin to his repeatedly advising, and almost forcing him to carry on his Law-Suit, created in his Mind something so like an inveterate Hatred, that it had all the Effects of it, and entirely blotted from his Memory his fancied Intention of allowing, out of the Profits of the Place, any thing at all to David.
But yet Mr. Ratcliff knew not very well which Way to get rid of his Promise about his God-son. It may, perhaps, at first appear very absurd, that for this Purpose alone he sent for him to Town. But it is certainly true, that when a Man has a Mind to act harshly or treacherously by another, he will endeavour, for his own Justification, to find some Method of making that Person appear at least to have offended him. Now this Method is much easier to be found when the Person destined to be thus treated, is present, than when he is absent; and I can venture to assure my Reader, that if David Simple had sent his Son to Mr. Ratcliff, the Boy would soon have returned to his Father, stigmatized with an Accusation of the highest and blackest Ingratitude.
But poor little Peter escaped all future Misfortunes, for the Small-pox proved fatal to him, and the very Day after his Death Camilla received Mr. Ratcliff's last Letter, filled with Reproaches, and wrote with an Intention to strike Daggers into their Hearts. It seems as if at such a time this should have afforded them but small Comfort; yet so it happened, that this was one of the greatest Comforts they could have received; for it was so strong a Picture of Mr. Ratcliff's Heart, that David, in the Joy that his Son had escaped all Possibility of having his young Mind corrupted by being formed under such a Hand, smothered his Grief for his Loss.
From this Time David Simple buried Mr. Ratcliff in his Thoughts as much as possible. Hatred and Indignation found in David's Breast a barren Soil, in which they could take no Root; and whenever Mention was made of any Friend, by whom he had been deceived, his constant Answer was, "That they had been long buried to him:" though he confessed he was best pleased with Absence from his dead Friends, and did not chuse to be haunted by the Ghosts of what he once thought them.
Genuine Love can never be so entirely extinguished, but that some Sparks of it will remain, and the Idea of Mr. Ratcliff's treacherous Behaviour would sometimes force its Way into David's Mind; when he could not help admitting a transitory melancholy Reflection at such an additional Instance of Deceit.
But on the contrary, whenever the least Image of David, or his Misfortunes, arose in the Mind of Mr. Ratcliff, it constantly produced the highest Indignation; an Indignation that encreased on every Consideration: for Hatred formed in the manner Mr. Ratcliff's was, is more unconquerable than all the Monsters the Poets feign to have been overcome by Hercules.
In which is a Letter from Cynthia.
David and Camilla were conversing on the Subject of the last Chapter of our last Book, and could not help (even with all their Experience of the World) being something astonished at such an Instance of Perfidy as they found in Mr. Ratcliff, when their Thoughts were driven into another Channel by the Receipt of the following Letter from Cynthia.
"My dear Friends,
"AS I am sensible of your Anxiety on my Account, I cannot resist any Opportunity of conversing with you, although my favourite Inducement of writing, namely, the having it in my Power to communicate Chearfulness and Joy to my Friends, is wanting: but although I cannot acquaint you with any News, at present, capable of giving you Pleasure, yet I will impart some Comfort to you, by assuring you, that I struggle as much as possible against my being sunk by my Misfortunes, and still find one Allay to them, in that I am not an additional Burthen to those who are already overloaded.
"Although this Island is reputed famous for Hospitality to Strangers, yet I have experienced more Inhumanity and Insult than I could have expected from the different Reception we at first met with. At the Time when I lost my Valentine, you may easily imagine that the Behaviour of the Acquaintance I had contracted since my Arrival here, had very little Power to move a Mind so full already as mine was. But I presently found every Countenance was so perfectly changed towards me, that I seemed as much a Stranger here as at first. I could not well account for it; and indeed my Thoughts were too much fixed, and my Heart too much rent to suffer me to reflect much about it.
"But at the Time when I was most incapable of looking into worldly Affairs, a Lawyer, who had professed himself a great Friend to my Valentine, and who had undertaken the Management of our Plantation, on my desiring him to make up our Accounts (by which Means I hoped to have set out in the Ship which brings this Letter, with three hundred Pounds in my Pocket) brought me in Debtor to him Seventy Pounds. The very Night before my dear Husband was taken ill, he had told me that he intended to settle with his Lawyer the next Day, in order to remit you a Bill for whatever Sum in his Power you wanted.
"It was impossible for me to contend with this Man; for, besides his being one of the richest, he bears the Character of being one of the honestest Men in his Profession; and on the Dependance of his fair Character (most foully and hypocritically acquired) he had the Assurance to tell me, that he owned (but he took Care no Witness should be by) that he had formed that Account with an Intent of getting me into his Power; and that he would never insist on my paying him the Balance, if I would comply with his Conditions. Nay, he went so far as to confess that all his Friendship to Valentine was a Pretence on my Account; and this the Monster expected I should look on as a great Favour.
"When I consider to whom I am writing, I know I need not say what was my Indignation and Astonishment at the audacious Wickedness of this Angelo; nor how I behaved; but outraged by being totally disappointed in his Hopes, he dared me to a Discovery; said, he doubted not but his Character would support him against any thing I should say; and that I might think myself highly obliged to him, after the Contempt I treated him with, if he did not sue me for the Balance of the Account; but as to that, I might rest easy, for it would pay him better to have it known (and he should take Care to publish it) that he had presented the poor Widow with seventy Pounds.
"Now the Mystery was all cleared up. I could trace the Alteration in all my Acquaintance; for I made no doubt but this Man of a fair Character had already spread the News of my extreme Poverty through the Island. Oh! my Friends! how did I at that Instant rejoice, that my dear little Infant Cynthia could never be insulted! that she was fallen into the Hands of God, and could never fall into the Hands of Men!
"But as the Master of the Vessel kindly offered to give me my Passage home, this Disappointment in my Affairs should not have changed my Resolution in setting out for England, for I could think with Pleasure of assisting my dear Camilla, and contributing by my Labour to our general Support; but was seized with such a Weakness in all my Limbs, that I am told I have little Reason to hope for the Recovery of them; which has determined me to accept of an Invitation Mrs. Darkling (the richest Widow in this Place) has given me, of being, at least for the present, with her.
"Mrs. Darkling expressed herself so kindly, and seemed to have such a Feeling of my present Circumstances, that I flattered myself I had found something like a Friend; and could not help acquainting her with the treacherous and cruel Usage of Mr. Drayton (for that was the Name of my Lawyer). On which she drew up herself into a contemptuous Posture, and, with an Air of Disdain, advised me, as a Friend, not to let my Vanity tempt me to expose myself, by telling such an incredible Story to any other, lest it should meet with a more severe Censure than that she would pass on it, considering how kind Mr. Drayton had been in forgiving me the seventy Pounds: but added, that she had always accustomed herself to look on the most favourable Side of any one's Actions, would impute it to Vanity, which was a Failing she knew how to forgive; and being above it herself, she pitied those who were possessed of it, provided it did not rise to any very high Degree.
"I could almost have imagined I heard Mrs. Orgueil speaking; but such kind of Women are the Growth of every Climate; and I believe it is my Fate eternally to meet with them. But don't, my Friends, let your kind Affection towards me, give you unnecessary Anxieties on my Account; the strongest Stroke my Heart is capable of feeling, is already struck in the Loss of my dear and ever kind Husband; and all other Things, but the Welfare of your Family, are become almost indifferent in my Eyes; and in every kind of Misfortune, in every inhuman Insult I can possibly meet with, it is not in the Power of any Cruelty to take from me the Consolation I feel by the Consideration that my Valentine knows not my Distresses, and therefore cannot be hurt by them: and I cherish yet some Hope, that we shall meet again in Peace and Plenty. All my sweet little Cousins are strongly in my Remembrance, and particularly my innocent Companion, my young Camilla : and, with a Heart as little daunted as possible,
"I am sincerely your's, Cynthia."
On the Receipt of Cynthia's Letter, although she endeavoured, even in that Situation, to throw some kind of Chearfulness into it, and avoided, as much as possible, drawing any frightful Pictures of Distress, David and Camilla were both highly sensible of her Situation; and David wrote to her in such Terms to come home, as he thought she could not resist. He told her, that although he could not have the Pleasure of promising her a Protection from Poverty, yet from Insult he could and would protect her. But the chief Inducement he made Use of, was the strongest Assurance, that now her Absence would produce no Advantage to herself, neither he nor Camilla could have a Moment's Peace unless she returned to them.
David and Camilla knew enough of such Characters as that of the Lady mentioned in Cynthia's Letter, not to have one Grain of Trust in them. And although their own Distress was great, yet was their Consideration and Feeling for Cynthia full as great as if they had been in any other Situation.
It is impossible to express the Joy that was diffused through all the younger Part of the Family, on hearing that Cynthia would return; for little Camilla loved her Aunt with a most warm Affection.
David again enjoys his favourite Pleasure of relieving one of his Fellow Creatures in Distress, with the Consequences that attended it.
One Evening, after David and Camilla had separately performed even a hard Day's Labour, they were sitting before their little Gate, or rather Wicket; their Children too enjoying themselves with chearful Hearts, although with homely Fare, when they were accosted by a wretched Beggar. Tattered Raggs were his Cloathing, and pale Indigence peeped through his Eyes; he intreated them, for the Love of Christ, to relieve him, and, with a faint Voice, told the following Story.
"How wretchedly have I been deceived by Fortune! I was bred up in Affluence, with a Prospect of a good Estate; but, when I was very young, placed my Affections on a young Woman, in whom Envy would have been puzzled to have found a Fault. She returned my Affection, and we were married; but my Father, inexorable to all Intreaties, both disinherited and banished us for ever from his Sight. Yet I was far from being miserable; my Wife's Merit more than answered my Expectation; we joined in mutual Labours; reciprocal Love made us Amends for the Want of Fortune: we forgot our former Station, and were happy.
"We had four beautiful Children, whom we intended to preserve from Want, by teaching them to earn their Bread by Labour. But about a Twelve-month ago, an Uncle of my Wife's, who had acquired a great Fortune in Scotland, sent for us, with a Promise of making an ample Provision for us and our Children. We immediately sold all the little we had, to enable us to bear the Expences of the Journey, and set forwards toward Scotland: but before we reached thither, the old Gentleman died. By all the Circumstances we could gather, I believe he left my Wife all he was worth, for he was very fond of her from an Infant. But a profligate Nephew, whom he had not admitted to his House for half a Year past, produced a Will in his own Favour; and although by all the Circumstances we could put together, we had great Reason to think this Will a vile Forgery; yet being destitute of both Money and Friends, we had no Means of bringing it to a legal Proof; and from him we met with nothing but Insult. Therefore, as soon as it was possible, we set out on our Return: but, between Distress and Fatigue, my Wife was over-powered, and I lost her: all my Children too failed in the Way; my last Support, my youngest Girl, my dearest Peggy, the Image of her Mother, the Darling of my Soul, perished for Want, not ten Miles from this Place. I am now helpless, destitute of every Comfort, lost to every Hope, and yet there still remains in me natural Appetite enough to wish to be relieved from this uneasy Pain of Hunger."
This poor Man's Language proved, that he had not had a vulgar Education, and his meagre Looks moved the Hearts of our little Society to give him Credit. They were all at that Instant as much actuated by Compassion as ever a Miser was by Avarice, or an ambitious Man by his Pursuit of Grandeur. And, uncommon as is the Example, they even forgot their own Distresses, or for the present found them light in the Comparison. Scanty as their own Portion was, they could not forbear letting this wretched Object of Misery partake of it: and young Camilla, who had just soaked some stale Bread in skim'd Milk, for her own and her Brother's Supper, forgot her Hunger, and gave her own Portion to the Beggar; and little David, who was but five Years old, on the poor Man's Description of his youngest Girl, was warmed with the Remembrance of his chief Companion in innocent Play, his dear little Sister Fanny, and cried out, "Pray, poor Man, take my Mess too." But even Hunger could not make the Father (though now only so in Remembrance) take the Food from the Infants Mouths; which so strongly convinced David of his Honesty, and the Truth of his Story, that his whole Heart was open towards him.
The poor Man, refreshed with Food, begged of David one Favour further, namely, that, if he had any Barn or Out-house, he would suffer him there to rest his weary Limbs. On which little David, holding up both his Hands, again cried out, "Do, pray, Papa, let the poor Man lay within Doors, and be kept warm; I'll spare him any thing, and lay more cold myself." David, in the Warmth of his Heart, was going to comply, but suddenly recollecting, that, whilst he lived in this World, some Caution in his Dealings with his Fellow Creatures was absolutely necessary, he put a Stop to the gratifying his own Inclinations, and dared not so far trust a Stranger; but could not refuse the poor fatigued Creature the hospital Harbour of a little thatched Place without Doors, where, in warm Straw, he might shelter himself from any Inclemencies of the Sky.
A peculiar Chearfulness animated David and his Camilla that Evening, from the Consideration, that all their Distress and Poverty had not utterly robbed them of the Power of affording some friendly Protection to one of their Species. And this Accident awakened the Remembrance of the many Pleasures of this kind they had once enjoyed.
The next Morning the poor Man intended to return his Thanks, and take Leave of his kind Benefactor; but by the Refreshment he had received, and the quiet Night's Repose he had enjoyed, he found himself revived to such a Degree, that he was capable of labouring with his Hands, and intreated David, that he would, for that one Day at least, give him Leave to exert the Strength he had by his means acquired, in his Service; and he would shew him some Methods of Gardening, which would hereafter save both Expence and Trouble, and make every Foot of his small Portion of Land much more profitable.
David, from strictly observing this poor Man's every Word and Look, was convinced that he was possessed of an honest and a grateful Heart, and therefore made no Scruple of granting his Request; and he that Day, and the two following, joined both in his Labour and homely Repast, which he more than fully earned by the Assistance and Instruction he gave David; and in the Evening he again retired to his Straw Habitation.
But now that tall Lady with the hundred Eyes and Ears, mentioned by Virgil, who is well known to be the Publisher of the Transactions of Kings and Heroes, condescended to look into David's humble Garden, and swiftly bore the Tale to Mr. Orgueil and Mr. Nichols, that David had hired a Servant: and I will not positively affirm, but I verily believe, that the aforesaid Lady, not clearly distinguishing the Beggar's tattered Rags, said that David had cloathed him in a Livery; nay, it would not have been very unlike her usual Custom, if she had added a good Quantity of Lace to it.
This Report had no other Effect on Mr. Orgueil, but to make him shake his Head, aad say, "There could be no End to David Simple's imprudent Actions, whilst he entertained his own romantic Notions, and would take no Advice." But Mr. Nichols took a Step, on hearing this Report, which affected David's Family more sensibly than could Mr. Orgueil's bare Opinion. For on the third Day after this poor Man had worked in David's Garden (and had taken his Leave, in order the next Morning to have pursued his Journey) as soon as it was dark Night, and David and his Family were retiring to Bed, he heard a gentle Tap at the Door, and David thinking it was the poor Man, who might have something farther to say, opened it, when a strange Man pushed himself into the House, and bid him not be alarmed, but he had, from Mr. Nichols, an Execution on his Goods; but as Mr. Nichols scorned to do an ill-natured Action, he had ordered him, if he could get a Bed there, on no Account to turn them out of their House that Night.
Camilla was at this Time putting her Children to bed; and David fearing her Surprize from so rough a Visitant, begged the Man to speak in a lower Voice; and asked him, if there was any Thing within his Power to give, that would bribe him not to turn them that Night out of their Bed; that he might, for some Hours, conceal this cruel Stroke from his dear Wife. The Fellowed answered, that he was very ready to fit all Night by the Kitchen Fire, and would leave it to his own Generosity to pay him as he deserved. David felt some Comfort even in this Misfortune, to find he had fallen into the Hands of a Fellow who seemed to have more Civility and Humanity than, by Report, he expected to have met with, in Men of his Office; and, having expressed his Thanks for this Piece of Kindness, he was hastening up Stairs to his Camilla, when she came to the Kitchen Door, and, seeing a strange Man, started back with some Emotion. David was now forced to inform her of the true Cause of the Man's being there: but as they knew Mr. Nichols's Power of over them, they knew also the Possibility of his exerting that Power, and had therefore before armed themselves against such a Blow too much to be overwhelmed with it; and stealing gently by their Childrens Room, for fear of waking them, retired to their own Chamber.
The Reader must be very little acquainted with the Disposition of David Simple and his Wife, if he thinks it unnatural or impossible that in their Situation they were fallen into a sound Sleep. But so it really was; and they had not been long in that sweet Repose which Labour and Innocence of Mind ever, in spite of outward Accidents, will procure, when they were alarmed by a Cry of Fire. As soon as the Sound reached their Ears, did the Image of their Childrens Danger touch their Hearts: they were flying to save them; but had no sooner opened their own Door, than they saw the Fire bursting from the very Door of the Chamber where their Children lay. They were just on the Brink of plunging into the Flames to seek them (for their present Agony gave them no Time for Reflection) but running out of the House, they hastened to the out-side of the Window, in order to get in to their Assistance. What Words can now describe the present Agonies of their Minds, on seeing the Fire blazing with the utmost Violence from the Window of the Closet and Chamber where all their Care was placed! This was too much for the gentle Spirits of Camilla, and she fell lifeless on the Ground. Her Husband catched her in his Arms, and bore her out of the Reach of the Flames, which were so violent that he felt himself scorched by their Heat. David found no returning Life in his Camilla, and the Hurry and Desperation of his Mind in a Situation so devoid of Hope or Comfort, almost drove him to rush back into the Flames, when he heard a Voice cry out, "Where are you, Sir? O save yourself, your Children are all in Safety." This heavenly Sound reached also the Ears of the fainting Camilla. She revived; she flew with her Husband after the Guide, who was no other than the poor old Man, and he conducted them safely to Farmer Dunster's, where their Transport, on the Sight of their Children, was as inexpressible as was their Agony when they imagined them destroyed by the merciless, devouring Flames.
This poor Man, who lay in the Out-house, as soon as he heard the dismal Sound of Fire, had flown to David's House, and getting into the Window of a small Closet, in which his little Friend David lay, had caught him in his Arms, and awakened the other two Children; but could not pass from their Room to David's without going through the Flames; he therefore raised his Voice as loud as he could in the Cry of Fire, and hurried the three Children out at that very Window, through which he got in to their Assistance. Young Camilla hung back, to look after her Mother; on which the poor Man took her by Force under his Arm, and, with the other Girl running before, conveyed them all to Farmer Dunster's: as soon as he had delivered the Children into a Place of Safety, he hastened back, to see after their Parents, and gave out that Sound which revived Camilla, and made David for a Moment blessed; namely, that their Children were all in Safety.
Having now lost their small House, and every Thing in it, David Simple might be said"To be steeped in Poverty even to the very Lips."
And I am afraid I shall be thought to relate a Thing incredible, when I say that Farmer Dunster's House, at this Time, was a Scene of the highest Joy imaginable. David and his Camilla embraced each other, snatched their Children by Turns to their Bosoms, lifted up their Hands and Eyes in Thanksgivings for their Deliverance; and were so overwhelmed with Happiness in the general Safety, that for the present their Hearts were too full of Delight to admit the Entrance of any Regret for their Loss.
As David's House stood by itself, no other Damage was done, but burning that with all the Furniture, down to the Ground. And this Circumstance of the Fire, though dreadfully shocking for the Time, was in some Degree a lucky one for David and his Family. For the Report of such a Calamity induced many People round the Country to send them in various kinds of Necessaries; and they received at different Times (even from unknown Hands) Cloaths of all kinds. I say, this Fire was a lucky Circumstance, as being a striking one: for, I fear, had the same Distress arisen (which would really have been the Case) from Mr. Nichols's having seized on his legal Right, the same Relief would not have followed; and his Imprudence would have been more talked of than his Misfortune.
Neither the Cry of Fire nor the News of it reached Mr. Orgueil's House till the next Morning, when Mrs. Dunster hastened to let him know the Disaster, and that David's Family were all at her House. Mr. Orgueil first enquired by what Means the Accident happened; and being told that it was supposed to arise from the poor Man's Pipe of Tobacco firing the Straw where he lay, he could not restrain his Indignation and Anger within Bounds: he, in the severest and harshest Terms, told Mrs. Dunster, that she and her Husband should for ever lose his Favour, if they did not immediately dismiss from their House a Man who by his Pride and Obstinacy would ruin himself and all who were connected with him.
Now the Reason that Mrs. Dunster gave this Account of the Fire, was that the poor Man, from his not knowing any other Cause, accused himself of being the innocent Incendiary. For at the same time he was waked by the Cry of Fire, he was almost suffocated with the Smoke that filled his own little resting Place, which joined to the Back of the Kitchen Chimney. And remembering that he carried in with him a Pipe not quite smoaked out, he feared this, by falling on the Straw, might have been the unhappy Cause of the Accident. But the Matter of Fact really was, that the Officer Mr. Nichols had sent into the House, drinking very plentifully of a Bottle of Surfeit Water he had found in a Cupboard, was so intoxicated with the Strength and drowsy Quality of that Liquor, that he fell fast asleep, and his Candle falling off the Table, set fire to a Rush-bottomed Chair, and from one thing to another the Fire increased till the whole Kitchen was in a Blaze, when the drunken Fellow ran out of the House, crying Fire! which gave the first Alarm; and, without staying to give any Assistance, made the best of his Way to the first Alehouse, and troubled not his Head any more about the Matter.
David, in his Confusion over Night, and his Anxiety for his Children's Safety, had even forgot the Execution from Nichols; but in the Morning (whilst Mrs. Dunster was gone to Mr. Orgueil's) he called up the Farmer, told him the Fact, and expressed great Concern on Account of the poor Fellow that sat up in his Kitchen, and who he feared (not seeing any thing of him) might have perished in the Flames.
The Farmer immediately went in search of the Man, and returned with the Account before-mentioned; and hearing privately from Dame Dunster the Anger of Mr. Orgueil, he went directly to his House, and told him the Mistake of his Wife.
Mr. Orgueil, on hearing the true State of the Case (for he valued himself on his Candour and hearkening to Reason) and being convinced of the Falsehood of the Report concerning David's keeping a Servant, ordered the Farmer, at his Expence, to supply David and his Family with what was just necessary to support them. This, at such a Time, filled the Mind of David with Gratitude, and he returned him such Acknowledgments as must be dictated by a grateful Heart. Yet could not Mr. Orgueil refrain from loading David with Reproaches for Pride, in his Situation to pretend to give to Beggars, and support them for several Days. Although, when he heard the poor old Man tell his own Story, he relieved him himself much more plentifully in Proportion than he had before relieved David ; accompanying his Benefaction with a strict Command that he should immediately leave that Country, and get Home to work. Nay, he even sent one of his own Workmen to shew him the Road, and commanded him not to loiter away his Time in going back to the Farmer's.
A friendly Visit, in order to comfort the Afflicted.
Mrs. Orgueil fancied, at first, she was very sorry for this Misfortune of the Fire, and that she greatly pitied poor Camilla ; and therefore went herself, attended by Miss Cassy, to comfort her.
Camilla received her with chearful Civility, at which she was greatly disappointed; for she expected to have found her overwhelmed with Tears. However, she pursued her Intention of comforting her, by painting her Misfortunes in their worst Colours, at the same time seeming to pity them. Still she was disappointed; for Camilla answered, "That, dreadful as her Misfortunes were, she had Cause to be thankful to God that her Children had escaped the Fire." Mrs. Orgueil then began to repeat all the fancied Misfortunes of her own Life, and to lament over them in such a Manner, that if any Strangers had entered the Room, they would have imagined Camilla in the Height of Prosperity, and would have pitied poor Mrs. Orgueil, as supposing some terrible Accident had befallen her. Camilla knew not what to say, for in Truth she was in a perfect Amazement; at last she mustered up some general Observations, such as, "That every one had their Share of Sorrow in this Life:" and, "That no Station was exempt from human Evils:" when Mrs. Orgueil began to feel herself extremely angry, and begged Camilla, with all her natural Good Sense, not to learn of that affected, insipid Thing, Cynthia, to pretend to be without feeling. Camilla said, "Poor Cynthia!" and was going to add, "she has enough to feel at present:" but the latter Part was stifled by the raising of Mrs. Orgueil's Voice, who eloquently set forth the Falsehood of every Thing she fancied Cynthia could say or think; and reiterated her Desire that Camilla would not learn of her. But when she found that Camilla did not join in abusing Cynthia (calling her poor little Thing from the other Room, where she had been playing with David's Children) she took her Leave, tossing her Head, and flouncing her Hoop; her constant Custom when she was angry, but fancied she despised any one. For this imaginary Contempt, when once it has seized the Mind, generally breaks out in such Convulsions of the Person, as seems to carry with it its own Proof, that this Indifference is nothing but Pretence.
Mrs. Orgueil returned home, accusing herself of having too much Good-nature, in that she had at first pitied Camilla. She was sorry she had been so extravagant of her Pity, as to throw it away on such a senseless, unfeeling Creature; spoilt by the affected Nonsense she had picked up from Cynthia.
As soon as Mrs. Orgueil left Camilla, honest Mrs. Dunster came to her, and really talked the Words of Comfort. Her Language was, indeed, somewhat odd, and her Expressions savoured of Rusticity; but as her Meaning was good, she failed not of giving more Comfort to Camilla than could all the Flowers of Rhetoric, hiding beneath them the lurking Snake of Ill-design.
The Story of Mrs. Tilson.
About three Days after David's Family had been at Farmer Dunster's, Mrs. Dunster was sent for by Mrs. Orgueil, as she said, to settle some oeconomical Accounts; but in reality to sift into every Particular of the Behaviour of all her present Guests, in order to find out some Fault in their Conduct, to prevent her Husband's Generosity; thinking that now indeed the Time was come, in which his Rule of Rectitude would suffer him to do something for David.
Mrs. Dunster, with all the Eloquence she was Mistress of, displayed David's Situation; said how much she pitied them, when they fled to her House from the Fire, having no Time, in their Hurry and Confusion, to save any thing more than would just cover them: and concluded her whole Speech with a sudden Turn of Joy, that some good Christian had that Morning sent them some necessary Cloathing. On which Mr. Orgueil declared it to be very fit and right, that in such Distress one human Creature should assist another, as an Acknowledgment that they were all dignified and exalted above the brute Creation, by the Possession of Reason.
But now Mrs. Orgueil began to be seized with her usual unnecessary Fear of her Husband's Generosity; and in order to prevent his exerting it, addressed herself to him thus.
"I know very well, my Dear, your generous Way of thinking and acting, nor is Mrs. Dunster, I believe, unacquainted with your humane Manner of treating your Tenants; and her Husband also has distributed no small Share of your Bounty to real Objects of Compassion: but you always judiciously remember that Charity begins at Home, and that it is incumbent on every Man to take Care of his own, and not ruin himself and his Family for the sake of a romantic Friendship, as Mr. Tilson did; which Story all the Country knows."
"How was that pray, Madam (says my Dame;) for thof Mr. Tilson lived in the next Parish to us, we never heard a Word of the Matter. And if he was ruin'd, he must have met with some good Friend who made up his Loss: For besides what he gave his Daughter Madam Bromly, at her Marriage, Folks do say, that he left his Lady a good Jointure, and his other Daughter, Miss Nanny, a very pretty Fortune."
"I don't know (replied Mrs Orgueil) what low People call a good Jointure, and a pretty Fortune; but I know when Mr. Tilson married his Wife, he had an Estate of two thousand Pounds a Year; and no People in the Country made a genteeler Figure. Their House was a Palace; and they drove their Coach and six. Mrs. Tilson, when she went to London, appeared at Court as well dressed, and in as fine Jewels, as any Body; it was thought by every one, that his Daughters have been Coheiresses, and that Miss Harriet, now Mrs. Bromly, would have been married to my Lord —; but to the Astonishment of every one, Mr. Tilson rejected every Proposal; and at length it was discovered, that he had for some Years been mortgaging his Estate, to supply a young Fellow, whom he call'd his Friend, with Money to recover a Fortune, of which he pretended his Guardian had cheated him. But just as the Affair was like to come to a Tryal, the young Fellow died; and Mr. Tilson had nothing to do, but to regret his own Folly. He directly sold his Estate, was reduced to the poor Sum of six thousand Pounds, and retired into this Country, ashamed to see any of his former Acquaintance, who had known him in his Prosperity. He then bought that little Farm in which he lately lived, and which he settled on his Wife for the good Jointure you was mentioning. Poor Woman! a sad Reducement from what she had reason to expect! and Miss Harriet his youngest Daughter, who had such great Offers in Warwickshire was forced to take up with Mr. Bromly, who has not above four hundred Pounds a Year Estate; and the pretty Fortune that he gave her, and left to Miss Nanny, is two thousand Pounds. I am sure I should not think that a pretty Fortune for my poor dear little Creature. I should break my Heart, if I thought it possible for her to be reduced to such Necessity; but there is no Danger. She has too good a Father. And what was yet an Addition to Mr. Tilson's Imprudence, was suffering Miss Nanny to encourage the Addresses of the young Fellow that ruin'd him; and she instead of abhorring, still cherished his Memory too much to admit any new Lover."
"Why so indeed, I have heard Folks say, (cries my Dame;) and for that Reason, 'tis thought as thof Madam Tilson's Jointure, and Miss Nanny's Fortune, will all come among Madam Bromly's Children."
"And suppose it should, (answered Mrs. Orgueil) what great matter will that be for such a growing Family? Madam Bromly, as you call her, has three Children already, and may have a Dozen more; and this good Jointure, and pretty Fortune, and all they can scrape together, will make no great Figure amongst ten or a dozen Children. But for my part, when I consider the great Fortune her Father by his Imprudence lost, the very advantageous Match with Lord—, lost also by that Means, and her present reduced Circumstances, I don't know a Person, I pity more than poor Mrs. Bromly. She remembring the Prospect she had in her Youth, must certainly be the most miserable Woman in the World."
"Well, to be sure, Madam, (says Mrs. Dunster) your Ladyship must know better than we poor Folks do, who is to be pitied, and who is not; thof all my Neighbours be forever a talking of Mrs. Bromly's Happiness; and by a Story I heard t'other Day she was as lucky in missing my Lord—, as in meeting with her present Spouse; for they do say, that he uses his Lady, who is as good a Lady as ever lived, in a most cruel and inhuman Manner, and is so ill-natured and tyrannical to all his Servants and Tenants that he is hated all the Country round. But I am told that there is not a better natured Man upon Earth than Mr. Bromly; and as to old Madam Tilson, and Miss Nanny, they be the goodest natured People in all the Country, and by the kind and charitable Actions they be always doing to relieve their poor Neighbours, one should think en so far, from ruined, that they must be worth a Mint of Money; nay, I have reason to fancy by the Messenger that brought it, that the Present, which came to our House today, came from Madam Tilson; and they do seem so happy and contented in their neat little Box of a House, and Madam do seem so pleased with managing her Dairy and feeding her Poultry, that one should never have thought she had ever lived in a House like a Palace, or rode in her Coach and six."
"However you may fancy (says Mrs. Orgueil) that you can find out People by their Messengers, you may be mistaken, Gammer; for there are more generous People in the World than your Madam Tilson. And however you may fancy too, that from Report you can know People's Characters and Affairs, you may in that also be mistaken. For I tell you, Dame Dunster, being reduced from Forty thousand Pounds to Six, is certainly being utterly ruined; and when Mr. Tilson was living, notwithstanding he appeared happy and chearful, yet I doubt not (although he was too proud to own it) but he had many miserable Hours of Reflection, when he thought of his own Imprudence, or he must have been an insensible Brute." Mrs. Dunster could not here forbear saying, that "By Madam Tilson's Sorrow for his Loss, it did not appear that she thought he had ruined her."
"I know (said Mr. Orgueil) that Mrs. Tilson was, for a long time, inconsolable for his Loss; and I believe she was sincere; for the Man was good-natured; and being dead, you know none of his Faults could rise up to her Remembrance: but I doubt not, but when he was living, she must, if she had any Spirit, look on him with Horror and Indignation, as being the Cause of her Ruin and that of her poor dear Girls; for it is a sad thing, Mrs. Dunster, for a Man, under the Pretence of Friendship and Generosity, to ruin his Wife and Family."
"It is very true, Madam;" answered my Dame, making a low Curtsy, and taking her Leave; for she had Sagacity enough to perceive that this was not a proper Season to urge any further the Distress of David or his Family. But on Mrs. Dunster's going away, Mrs. Orgueil called her back, and desired young Camilla might be sent the next Day (as it was Miss Cassy's Birth-day) to play with her; but charged her not to mistake, and send little Joan; for that her Daughter, by the great Advantage of her Education, was got above being pleased with childish Company.
Mrs. Orgueil's Reason for telling this Story is pretty plain. And she had in store a dozen of the same Kind; with some one of which she always entertained her Husband, whenever she had any extraordinary Fears of his Generosity. Mr. Orgueil, to speak the Truth, seldom heard much of them, for his Thoughts were otherwise employed; and he now sat as if in some deep Debate with himself; whilst Mrs. Dunster, who was a great Lover of Stories, greedily hearkened after every Word.
Mrs. Orgueil had an Art, by dropping some Circumstances, and altering and adding others, of turning any Story to whatever Purpose she pleased. For the Truth was, that Mr. Tilson originally had but Five hundred a Year—that his Grand-father owed this very Estate to the Family of the young Gentleman whom he had supported in his Law-suit—that his Daughter Nanny was contracted to him; and although she really had a very great Affection for him, yet the Match, on the Success of the Law-Suit would have been very advantageous of her Side—Mrs. Tilson never was at Court in her Life—Mrs. Bromley had really a great Escape by not marrying the Nobleman, so much regretted by Mrs. Orgueil—and was at that Time one of the happiest Women in the World.
Perhaps it may be wondered, that a Woman of Mrs. Orgueil's Pride, should be so familiar with Dame Dunster; but she piqued herself greatly on her Affability with her Neighbours; and where the Difference of Station was incontestably great, she diverted herself with the Thoughts of her own Condescension. But Mrs. Dunster felt a very essential Difference between the stately Condescension of Mrs. Orgueil, and the pleasing, unaffected Affability of either Camilla or Cynthia.
In which David and his Camilla suffer a farther Tryal of their Patience and Resignation.
Nothing could be more irksome to young Camilla, than the Thoughts of spending a Day at Mrs. Orgueil's: she made it her constant Endeavour to please, and avoid all manner of Offence; and therefore knew not what it was, when at home, to be treated with any Harshness or Unkindness, nor knew what to make of finding the Effect of Anger undeserved and unprovoked. Besides, her little Brother David had not been well for two or three Days, and she did not chuse to leave him. But her Father and Mother thinking at this Time that it would be highly improper to refuse Mrs. Orgueil's Request, especially as it was Miss Henrietta's Birth-day, Camilla submitted with no apparent Reluctance. And indeed a most disagreeable Day she spent; for Mrs. Orgueil could not prevail with herself to be pleased with any thing the obliging Girl did. The Remembrance that Cynthia, whilst at home, had taken a particular Delight in playing with, and instructing her Niece Camilla raised in Mrs. Orgueil's Mind as great an Aversion towards her, as she had before taken to her God-daughter Joan, for daring to out-grow her Henrietta-Cassandra.
Young Camilla did every thing she could think of, to humour Miss Henrietta; but she might as well have spared her Pains, for it was impossible to please her. If she ceased playing with her but one Moment, she cried, and told her Mamma she was above it; and, on the contrary, if she proposed any thing to divert her, Henrietta called it childish, and lamented that she despised and treated her like an Infant.
Mrs. Orgueil, when she talked with little Camilla, endeavoured to intrap her, and drew such Conclusions from her Words as the poor Girl never thought of; and from her innocent Answers to Mrs. Orgueil's Questions concerning Cynthia's manner of instructing her, she insisted on it, that from Camilla's own Mouth she had discovered what a domineering, insulting, governing Creature Cynthia was; and that she endeavoured to teach the Children to be as artful and hypocritical as herself. For Mrs. Orgueil called governing the Passions, cunningly concealing them, in order to impose on those good-natured, passionate People, who were too sincere to have the like Command of theirs.
But this Fallacy of Mrs. Orgueil was as plainly perceived by little Camilla, as it would have been by any grown Person whatever; for there is no Difficulty in discovering such kind of Fallacies, unless the Indulgence of violent Passions blinds and perverts the Judgment: and so well did young Camilla remember the Instructions she had received from her Infancy, that notwithstanding this Observation of Mrs. Orgueil, yet as she knew with what Behaviour her Parents would be best pleased, she in Silence heard all the sly Invectives thrown out against her dear and kind Aunt, and murmured not: for David and Camilla would always have their Children so behave as never to give even the least Appearance of an Offence. The Reception the innocent Camilla met with, on her Return to her kind Parents, always for the present dissipated any Uneasiness she might have contracted in her Absence from them; but greatly was her tender Heart affected by finding her poor little Brother David much worse than when she left him in the Morning.
Mrs. Orgueil's Daughter Henrietta was but very lately recovered from the Meazles when Mrs. Orgueil carried her with her to see Camilla. But whether it had been over long enough for the Infection to be gone, or not, was a Point Mrs. Orgueil never gave herself the least Trouble about; for she was fully convinced that it was utterly impossible any Mischief could ever come from her poor little Thing.
Camilla would have been heartily glad if Mrs. Orgueil could in this Opinion have been proved in the right. But, to her great Grief, she experienced what fatal Accidents might be caused by Miss Henrietta; for the next Day after Mrs. Orgueil's friendly Visit, little David sickened of the Measles, and it proved fatal to him, for in three Days he was no more. David, his Wife, and eldest Daughter had before had that Distemper, but little Joan, Mrs. Orgueil's God-daughter, caught the Meazles of her Brother; and although she in a manner recovered, yet she never had a Day's Health afterwards, for it fell on her Lungs, and all the most assiduous Care that could be taken of her, could not prevent her dying of a galloping Consumption. But just as little David died, some unknown Friend to the Distressed, having heard of the Fire, sent David a Bank Note of Twenty Pounds, so that they had not, during Joan's Illness, the additional Burden of not knowing by what Means to supply her with Necessaries. And although their generous Benefactor was concealed from them, yet they had the Pleasure of gratefully enjoying his Kindness. Another Circumstance was added, which gave no small Comfort to David and his Camilla; for there happened to be just settled, within a Mile of them, a very skilful and good-natured Physician, who, on Farmer Dunster's relating David's Situation, attended the Children without desiring any Reward. But notwithstanding these Alleviations of her Affliction, Camilla now experienced and acknowledged the Truth of David's former Observation, that if it were left to our own Choice, it would be infinitely preferable and more eligible for us to lose our Friends by the violent Seizures of mortal Distempers, than to see them decay in lingering Diseases.
It is commonly said, that by seeing our Friends labour a long Time under the Weight of Sickness, we are more prepared for, and consequently more reconciled to their Loss; and this in the very Instant of losing them, I believe is true: but small is the Recompence of this Alleviation of our Sorrow at that Time, for those Rents and Tearings of our Hearts, our Friends Sufferings, and our own Incapacity of relieving them, must make.
To reverse the whole Face of Things— Day after Day with Fear and Trembling to enter those very Chambers we used to fly to for Comfort, and to fly from them with bleeding Hearts that can contain no longer without the Vent of Sighs and Tears—to wake from every short Sleep (obtained only by long watching) dreading even to ask for our Friends, and to receive the continual Answer, that they spent the Night in Pain —to have each Day bring the same mournful Prospect of being again Witness of that Pain—to have our Minds so weakened by the continual Daggers that pierce it, that our Judgment is lost, and we hourly accuse ourselves for something we have done, or something we have omitted, condemning ourselves for what we cannot account for— this is a Scene of Misery, that, I believe, whoever has experienced, will think nothing in this World can equal; and a Scene I purposely chuse to mention in general Terms, lest if any gentle Reader has conceived an Affection for David and his Camilla, should I say, thus David, and thus Camilla felt, it might too much wring and grieve the tender Heart. But by passing quickly over all the Sorrows that affected David and his Camilla, I would not be understood as if they felt not the paternal Concern for such Children being torn from them. The true Reason why I dwell not on that Concern, is, that Words cannot reach it—the sympathizing Heart must imagine it—and the Heart that has no Sympathy, is not capable of receiving it. David was, on every tender Occasion, motionless with Grief; and Camilla, although her Mind was too humble to distort her Countenance, yet did the Tears flow in Streams from her Eyes, and she was at once a Picture of the highest Sorrow and the highest Resignation; for Clamour is rather a Proof of Affectation than of a Mind truly afflicted; and tender Sorrow neither seeks nor wants Language to express itself.
In which David alone, and not his Camilla, is the Sufferer.
But whatever were the Pains of Mind or Labour of Body that Camilla underwent, they were too much for her Strength, and she survived her Child but two Months. During which Time, David and his Daughter Camilla (now his only remaining Child) felt for her Sufferings what she had before experienced for her Children. Although in all her Weakness, and all her Pains, she lightened their Burdens as much as possible by stifling her Complaints, by catching every Moment to appear chearful; and in thus concealing what she really felt, she practised the only kind of Deceit her Mind would ever suffer her to be guilty of. In short, Camilla's Death was an uniform Conclusion to her Life. She was all Resignation and Submission to the Will of her God. She dropped not one Word of Pity for herself, and endeavoured to soften her Husband's Sorrow, by shewing as little Reluctance as possible at knowing she was going to be separated even from him. She denied herself the Pleasure of uttering many little tender Expressions that often arose in her Mind, for fear they should impress too deeply in his Heart, and add Stings to her Loss. For her Consideration for her Husband's Peace could not cease whilst yet she preserved any remaining Breath.
David led his Daughter weeping from the Bed-side—he could not weep—he sat as one stupified. —But as soon as he heard that his Camilla was out of the Reach of Pain or Sorrow, he thanked God, and felt a Peace and Calm that his Mind had been long a Stranger to. The Dread of her Distress, the Sight or Hearing of her Pains were now at an End, and for the present his own Loss did not even occur to his Mind; he in a manner forgot himself, all his Thoughts were fixed on his beloved Wife; and as he knew her Innocence, he was filled with the highest Hopes of her Happiness. He endeavoured to lead the Mind of his Daughter Camilla, young as she was, to distinguish between her own Loss, and the insufferable Pain of seeing her Mother's Anguish. Nor was it difficult to her to perceive the Truth of what her Father told her, namely, that whoever can stand their Friends painful Passage through this World, may easily stand their being delivered from it. For how much more insupportable to a tender Mind are their Friends Miseries than their Loss!
But lest this Friendship should appear too disinterested to be practicable, I pretend nor wish not to conceal from my Reader, nor did David endeavour to conceal from himself, that it was the superior Torments of his own Mind in seeing Camilla's Sufferings, that rendered him more calm at hearing of her Death. The Time she had lain in her Sickness had raised such Images in his Breast, that it was impossible any Change could be for the worse. For Time after Time did he quit her Room, when, like Job, he could almost have contended with the Almighty. And one might say with no great Impropriety, that a temporary Madness had seized his Mind. But, like his royal Example in the Scripture, though he fasted and prayed whilst his Petition could be granted, yet as soon as it was rejected, he humbly acquiesced, satisfied in the Wisdom as well as the Goodness of the great Disposer of Events. Nay he even began, in his own Fancy, to imagine himself possessed of great Riches, in Comparison of what he had been from the Time he dreaded his Camilla's Distress. Mr. Orgueil now, would he have given his whole Estate, had it not in his Power to make him amends for sending him home with empty Advice to do Impossibilities, and with the Stings of Unkindness in his Heart, when his House was a House of Distress and Sorrow. But as Mr. Orgueil had not, with his whole Fortune, the Power of giving him equal Pleasure, so neither had he the Power of tormenting him, as when he cruelly refused to relieve his beloved Camilla. She was out of the Reach of feeling the Effects of Hardness of Heart, and consequently David could never again feel the same Strokes. His own Pains, indeed, might force from him a Groan; but it must be the Sufferings of another that could quite dissolve and overcome all his Resolutions.
But David's Weight of Grief, though at first borne up by the pleasing Reflection, that his Camilla had escaped all earthly Troubles, grew almost too heavy for his Strength to support; and his Thoughts still fixed on his Camilla, took another Turn, The last Twelvemonth of Distress could not obliterate the many Years of the highest human Happiness he had enjoyed with his Wife. There was a Rent in his Heart, which he vainly endeavoured to heal: there was no Place, no Minute in the twenty-four Hours, that did not bring to his Remembrance his faithful, his tender Companion. And in Proportion as the Image of her Sufferings decreased, the Sense of his own Loss was strengthened. The Velocity of his Thoughts in one Minute could trace back Years. The chearful Looks, the soft Compliances of his Camilla were continually present to his Imagination, with the sharp and poignant Reflection, that he should behold them no more. He attempted not, by flying from Place to Place, to hide from his own Mind the Death of Camilla. He knew, unless he could fly from himself, the Picture could not be rooted from his Heart. Human Philosophy had little Chance of bringing him Comfort. It was vain to tell him, that he could not help himself, and therefore he must not feel; and that other Men had lost their Wives, and therefore he must look on his Loss as nothing. This, and much more of this kind, was all answered in one Word, "I loved Camilla, and she is no more." Had David been an Infidel, not all the Books composed by the wisest Philosophers, would have taken one Arrow from a Heart so sensible as his of every tender Connection. He would have raved to Madness, or wept himself to Death: but when the Christian Hope came over his Mind, that his Camilla was really happy, —that the Loss was all his own—and that a short Time longer struggling through Life would put an End to all his Sorrows also, and render him happy, his Grief would subside, and patient Resignation take its Place. Nay, his Consideration for his Daughter made him even wish for Life, till he could place her in some Situation where her Youth and Innocence might meet a kind of Protection.
David Simple refuses to accept a friendly Offer from Mrs. Orgueil.
Mr. and Mrs. Orgueil both agreed in the Resolution of laying Camilla decently in the Grave. Mr. Orgueil, from the Rightness and Fitness of it; and his Wife, from Compassion (as she thought and termed it) nay she even shed Tears; for a Shower of Tears was always ready to gush from her Eyes at the Sound of Death. She in reality led her whole Life in bemoaning the Certainty of her own Mortality, and in the Height of her Sorrow she could not forbear sighing that Camilla could not be changed for Cynthia; throwing out many Hints how very insensibly Cynthia would behave on the News of Camilla's Death; for as she was so stupidly insensible for the Loss of such a Husband as Valentine, it could not be expected she should have the least Feeling for any other Misfortune.
It has been already observed, that one of Mrs. Orgueil's chief Employments and Pursuits from the Time she became acquainted in David's Family, had been to lessen Cynthia in the Eyes of Camilla; and whenever she could possibly impose on herself so far as to imagine she had the least Hopes of Success, she admired Camilla's Understanding, and thought she was her Bosom Friend; but whenever all her Endeavours to impose this Fallacy on herself, failed, Camilla's Understanding in a Moment vanished from her Thoughts, and she suddenly became the silliest as well as the most hateful of Women.
One Morning as Mrs. Orgueil was revolving over many Schemes of great Consequence, a Thought arose in her Mind, that although the long Friendship which had subsisted between Cynthia and Camilla had always baffled all her Designs, yet that the young Mind of David's Daughter would certainly bend under her Artifices, and yield to whatever Impressions she chose to give it. The Consequence of this Thought was her immediately writing a Note to David, in which she offered, as a great Favour, that if he would place Camilla under her Care, she would finish her Education.
It has already been related with what Timidity of Mind David had long been seized. But the Death of his Camilla, as it almost annihilated all his Hopes and Fears, so also did it in a great measure cure this Timidity: but still some Anxiety remained; for his Daughter's Welfare must be the Object of his Regard, and therefore he was perplexed at this Offer of Mrs. Orgueil. Not that he deliberated one Moment whether or no he should throw the only Remains of his beloved Family into the Power of Mrs. Orgueil; for his Resolution was firmly fixed against it: but he was willing to find a civil Pretence for the Refusal, as he was fearful of irritating Mrs. Orgueil to an inveterate Hatred against his Daughter; for David was perfectly sensible of the Strength of her Hatred, and how inexorable was her Anger.
Camilla would not have been guilty of Disobedience to any of her Father's Commands; but he could have done nothing so irksome to her, as to have accepted of Mrs. Orgueil's Invitation; for she knew enough of her Behaviour to look with the greatest Dread on being in her Power.
David answered Mrs. Orgueil with Thanks and Civility; but said that he could not prevail on himself, unsettled as his Mind was at that Time, to part with his Daughter, his only remaining Comfort. Mrs. Orgueil was inwardly fired with Indignation at the Refusal; but thought proper to conceal her Rage, still flattering herself with Hopes that by the Shew of Friendship, she might perhaps in Time gain her Point of preserving Camilla from the Possibility of being educated by Cynthia. As this was a Point she had no Chance of carrying, it cannot therefore be said how she did behave to the young Camilla; but I think it may with pretty great Certainty be affirmed how she would have behaved, could she have staggered David's Resolutions.
At first she would have put on all the Charms of Good-humour (which she was capable, when she pleased, of doing in the highest Degree) till the tender Mind of young Camilla, capable of strong Affections, had been wrought to give Credit to her Pretence of Friendship. Then, if by Cynthia's Death, or any other Accident, her Fears of her falling into her Hands, had been once removed, she would have proved a Tyrant.
But if she had found that Camilla, still inflexible, retained the first Impression she had received of her Aunt, then would all her Indignation have been let loose on her innocent Head, and she would have proved the worst of Tyrants; and the poor Girl, hitherto unaccustomed to any thing but gentle Treatment, would have been an eternal Mark of her ill Nature. If she had endeavoured to gain any Instruction, she would have been continually told that it was impertinent in her to grasp at Knowledge; and she ought to content herself with learning to perform menial Offices. And if she employed herself ever so industriously to finish what she was set about, yet would she not have been the least the forwarder; for Mrs. Orgueil, being versed in the Art of keeping back a docile Capacity, would have given her an additional Task every Day, rather than she should have got any Opportunity of improving her Mind; being firmly of Opinion, that Improvements of such a kind were only fit for young Ladies, who, like Miss Henrietta, were born to Fortunes. Joyfully I write thus that Mrs. Orgueil would have acted, for it was not Camilla's miserable Fate.
The Behaviour of a very fond Wife on the Sickness of her Husband, with her Letter to a dear Friend on that Subject.
Mr. Orgueil was very subject to the Stone, and was now seized with so violent a Fit of it, that it was even thought he could not recover: but in the Intermission of his Pains, when his Body would give his Mind leave to exert his Reason (for this God whilst cloathed in Flesh, must ask that Leave) he called for all his Books of Philosophy, and supported himself by the Sayings of the Ancients; and when he read that Saying, "That a great Man in Distress was a Sight worthy of the Gods' Delight;" he laid down the Book with Rapture, and put on a Smile of Self-approbation. And his Intrepidity was so great in facing Death, that it never once entered into his Thoughts. For although he fancied himself constant of Mind, and admired his own Firmness, yet the Truth was, that instead of thinking on Death, he was diverting himself with being the Admiration of the Gods; and in the Warmth of his Enthusiasm, he could fix his Mind on no other Image but that of his Self-adoration: it was amazing with what dextrous Art Orgueil mixed the Bible with the Sentiments of the ancient Heathens, till he proved that this World was made for Man; then dropped the Idea, that it was the Gift of God, and his Imagination strutted, as it were, in his own World.
The Heathens who made their own Gods, and generally from Flattery composed them of the Vices of their Heroes, might very well think that a Man loaded with all the Weight of human Infirmities, pretending, from his own Strength, to cast out every Glimpse of Fear, and then worshiping himself for that Pretence, was a Sight very capable of giving Pleasure to such Gods; for, no doubt, a Love of Ridicule was one of their principal Characteristics: and if they are possessed of all the Attributes generally given to them, it is very possible they might all be very merry over so absurd a Picture.
Mr. Orgueil, during his Illness, often desired David's Company, in Hopes of having an additional Admirer of his Magnanimity and intrepid Behaviour. David had too much Humanity to refuse his Request, as to bearing him Company; but could not comply with his Desire of admiring all those Fallacies he imposed on his own Understanding. Mr. Orgueil was above being pitied himself, but was rather advising David how to bear the Loss of his Camilla . He would have thought it very absurd, if, in the midst of his Tortures, he had been told that he must not feel them, because he could not help himself; or because others also have been afflicted with the Stone. And yet these were the kind of Comforts he bestowed on David, for the Loss of such a Companion as Camilla, in whom he enjoyed every Picture his Heart had ever formed of Happiness; for she was the Friend he had long vainly sought, and at last with Difficulty obtained. Mr. Orgueil also constantly entertained him with a Discourse on the Beauty of human Reason, and the Infallibility of the Rule of Rectitude, to support a Man through all Misfortunes: adding, that it was below the Dignity of human Nature, and a Shame for a Man to be conquered by any Affliction whatever. But David told him, that if he had no other Comfort in his Heart, but what could arise from the admiring the Beauties of human Reason, exulting in the Dignity of his Nature, and worshipping the Strength of his own Wisdom, he would weep at the Grave of his Camilla, till, like Niobe, he was dissolved into Tears.
Almost their whole Conversation consisted in an Endeavour on David's Side to prove that human Wisdom can soar no higher than the Knowledge of our Dependance on God, and acting in Conformity to that Knowledge; whilst Mr. Orgueil laboured hard to prove his own Self-dependance, and the Justness of worshipping his Idol, human Reason. He indeed admired Christ's Sermon on the Mount, for the Beauty of its Morality; then thought himself a Christian, and could be highly offended at any one making a Doubt of it; although the Drift of every Word he uttered, plainly proved that his every Notion of Religion was confined to Self-adoration.
Mr. Orgueil and David, whenever they used to meet, had something besides Conversation in both their Minds; David, in the Timidity of his Heart, fixed his Thoughts on considering by what Means he could prevail on Orgueil to exert any Kindness towards his Camilla; and he, on the other hand, was employed in giving such Advice, or Commands, as have been before mentioned. But now the Scene was altered; Mr. Orgueil thinking himself near his End, was chusing a proper Behaviour for a uniform Conclusion of his Life: and David, his Camilla being past the Reach of any farther Sufferings, was again restored to his natural Firmness of Mind; and the Irresolution which had been for some time his Torment, now (the Cause being removed) no longer remained. And when Mr. Orgueil expected to see him most distressed and dejected, he was astonished to find with what Steadiness and Constancy he behaved. But when he perceived he could not convert him, and make him a Proselyte to the Sect of Self-worshippers, he grew angry, and at different Times introduced the Words, an Enthusiast, a Methodist, a mad Man; and at last, as an unconquerable Argument, told him, that he held Principles which were fit for nothing but old Women. But David Simple was not to be terrified by such paultry Ridicule, nor were his Principles to be baffled by calling of opprobrious Names.
But I cannot quit the Subject of Mr. Orgueil's Illness, without acquainting my Reader with Mrs. Orgueil's Behaviour on that Account. She frequently brought Henrietta into her Husband's Room, and studied every Expression her Invention could supply her with, to raise tender Grief in his Mind; that he was to be separated from her and his Child. It happened, indeed, that such Attempts were fruitless; for Mr. Orgueil was too much attached to the Thoughts of his own Dignity, and too full of Self-admiration, to pay much Regard to any other Attachment whatever; but when she found her Words had little or no Effect, and could not penetrate the Marble of his Heart, Miss Henrietta, on one Side, and Mrs. Orgueil, on the other, made such loud Lamentations, that David, who happened to be there at that Time, half by Intreaties and half by Force, had them conveyed out of the Chamber: and as soon as Mrs. Orgueil was alone, she sat down, and wrote the following Letter to the Countess of —, her most intimate Friend and Acquaintance.
"HOW shall I express my Grief, or what Words can I find to give your Ladyship a complete Idea of it! O wretched, wretched Woman that I am! That I should live to see this fatal Day! By the Time this Epistle reaches your Hands, the distracted Expressions of which your Ladyship, when you know the Cause, will excuse, you must consider your poor Friend as a disconsolate Widow, and her tender Babe as a poor helpless Orphan. The Physicians have declared their Despair of my dear, my ever to be lamented Mr. Orgueil's Life: and I have been forced, raving, screaming, fainting, from his Bed-side: and I verily believe my Heart would at this Instant burst, did not I give this Vent to my Sorrows; for true is that beautiful Line,
"The Thought that I shall enjoy a large Jointure, or that my dear Child will have an ample Fortune, are no Alleviations to my Woes. Your Ladyship must be sensible that only moderate or vulgar Grief can be assuaged by such Considerations. The real Distraction of my Soul admits no Consolations: and I snatch, as it were by Force, this short Respite from Misery, to impart my Torments to my dearest Friend, and beg your Ladyship will immediately honour me with your Company, to comfort, if possible, my afflicted Heart. I say, I snatch this short Respite, in order to write to your Ladyship; for as soon as I hear the dreadful Sound, Your Husband is no more! I know I shall be incapable of any Thought or Reflection. No Tongue can express my Distractions. I am as mad as Alicia in Jane Shore; could rave like Oedipus, and wish all the Stars would lose their Light; for so great are my present Torments, that universal Nature seems in one Confusion hurled.
"I am, dear Madam,
Your Ladyship's despairing,
afflicted, most obedient,
most humble Servant,
Mrs. Orgueil was just going to fold this Letter, when Betty Dunster entered the Room: she had before given Orders, that no one should directly tell her of her Husband's Death; for, she said, she could not bear the Sound, but that some Invention should be found to let her know it, without uttering the fatal Words; and therefore as soon as Betty had opened the Door, and said, "Now, Madam, I bring you News, that" Mrs. Orgueil took her Husband's Death for granted, and, interrupting her, fell a raving like an Inhabitant of Bedlam, and for some time would not give the Girl Liberty to explain herself: but at last Betty Dunster found an Opportunity of informing her that she had no Cause for this Violence of Grief, for that her Husband was greatly revived, and the Physicians said that this unexpected Turn in his Favour gave them Hopes of his Recovery. Mrs. Orgueil's Joy now appeared as violent as her Sorrow had before, and she began to repeat all the Poetry she could remember, that imported Joy and Rapture. But instead of having an Inclination to send her Friend a Letter of the good News, she had a great Mind to send her that already writ, as thinking it was great Pity she should have taken so much Pains for nothing.
But Mrs. Orgueil's Joy lasted not long, for although her Husband continued to mend, insomuch that he recovered a little longer to contemplate his own Wisdom, yet a most fatal Catastrophe befel her; and this Catastrophe was no other than the Loss of a little Lap-dog, which had reigned long in her Favour, for it bit and snarled at every one it came near, except herself and her poor little Thing, and on them it was as remarkable for fawning: nay, it was reported that Cynthia once attempting to play with it, met with the Reward of having her Hand bit; and this Lap-dog Mrs. Orgueil lamented in full as pathetic Terms as she had before done the imagined Death of her Husband.
The Arrival of a Person that will give the Readers some Pleasure, if they can partake in the Joy of our small remaining Family.
David Simple, during his Camilla's Illness, and indeed for some Time after her Death, had so totally neglected all Thoughts of himself, that he in a manner forgot every necessary Care, except swallowing the Food that Hunger prompted, just enough to keep him from starving; and his Body now seemed resolved to be revenged on him for the Neglect: for he fell into a Complication of Disorders, and his Strength decayed so fast, that he was soon obliged to take to his Room. He asked his Physician (the same who had visited his Wife and Children, and now kindly continued his Attendance on him) whether he thought his Disorder mortal: and the Physician knowing David was sincerely desirous of hearing the Truth, answered, that there was small Probability of his holding it above a Month longer.
Now did David Simple indeed taste the highest Pleasure from knowing that his Camilla could not feel for him what he had suffered for her. Now might he be truly said to rejoice in her Death; for he would not, for all the Kingdoms of the Earth, have beheld her striving in vain to hide the Sorrow that his Pains would have given her. One Witness of them, his gentle, his amiable Daughter, redoubled every Stroke, and gave him the additional Fatigue of endeavouring to hide them.
David, not many Days before he took to his Chamber, received from Cynthia the pleasing Account of her being perfectly recovered, and that she should set out for England in the next Ship that sailed, and hoped to be with them in a very short Time after her Letter. For little Camilla's sake did David hourly wish for the Arrival of Cynthia. He could willingly on his own Account have spared her a Scene that must too sensibly affect her. Nor did he want to give her tender Charges of his Daughter till her whole Frame was shaken beyond her Strength to support: for the Confidence he had in her Friendship remained to the last; and he knew that without his Request, she would exert her utmost Power to cherish and protect the young Camilla. But in ten Days after his Confinement to his Chamber, Cynthia arrived.
David was then asleep, a Relief from Pain he had not for some Time enjoyed; and young Camilla seeing Cynthia through the Window, slipped softly down Stairs, and met her some little Space from the House. She begged her not to enter that Moment, threw her Arms about her Neck, and, in faltering Accents, in a few Words told her the whole State of their Family. Cynthia knew not of Camilla's Death; for David, thinking she might be in her Passage home, did not write, especially as such Sort of News he was not most eager to relate. She listened to little Camilla with an Attention that almost turned her into Stone. The only Motion perceivable in her, was a Tear dropping from each Eye—she wept—she could not speak—and in this Posture she remained some Minutes. Then taking her loved Niece by the Hand, she went with her to the House, and was met by Mrs. Dunster, who begged her not immediately to go up Stairs; but, if she pleased, she might first speak to the Physician, who was now coming down from David. Cynthia hastened to meet him, and earnestly intreated him to inform her truly of what he thought concerning her Brother. The Physician, though he had never seen her, knew by her Questions who she was; and having told her the weak State of Body he was in, gave it as his Opinion, that the Sight of a Person so dear to David as he knew Cynthia to be, would too much flutter, and might immediately prove fatal to him; and therefore begged her, as she had any Regard for her Friend, not to appear before David, till he should give her Leave. Cynthia (though in her own Judgment she thought the Pleasure of seeing her would do David more Good than Harm) terrified with the Possibility of hurting him, consented to follow the Physician's Commands, and lived three Days under the same Roof, banished as it were from the only Spot her Feet were naturally inclined to tread. But during this Time she was not once heard to complain, nor was she once seen in Tears, except one Evening, when going up to her Bed, as she passed by David's Chamber, her Niece (who had been paying her Attendance on her Father) opened the Door to come out, and Cynthia standing still, for fear her Footsteps should disturb the Sick, heard David mention her own Name—yet she forbore to enter—but could not refrain from letting fall a Shower of Tears, and with some Difficulty prevented her Sobs from being heard.
Mrs. Orgueil, notwithstanding her inexorable Hatred to Cynthia, pretended the greatest liking in the World for her Company, and was outwardly very civil to her: and on hearing of her Arrival, and being told that she was not suffered as yet to go into David's Room, sent her a very polite Message, to desire the Favour of seeing her.
Nothing could be more reluctant than was Cynthia towards making such a Visit. She had an Antipathy to all Deceit; she liked not Mrs. Orgueil; but yet as she was ignorant of all that had passed in her Absence, she knew not how far, on David's Account, Mrs. Orgueil might have a Claim to her Compliance; besides, having asked her Niece some Questions, she innocently gave such Answers as made Cynthia imagine it incumbent on her to accept the Invitation. For as young Camilla had been ever instructed gratefully to retain in her Memory all Favours, and to forget Injuries, she, in a brief Manner, recounted to her Aunt the several apparent generous Actions of Orgueil towards their Family, and particularly his having buried her dear Mother. Cynthia knew nothing of the Behaviour of Mrs. Orgueil to her own Child at the Bath; but if she had, no Resentment for the Usage of the Dead would have influenced her to have taken any Step prejudicial to the Living.
Mrs. Orgueil received Cynthia with great Civility, for she always treated her with more outward Respect than she ever shewed to Camilla; but entertained her most Part of the Time with a long Account of Mr. Orgueil's late Illness and Recovery; and the dreadful Anxiety of Mind she had undergone.
Cynthia bore the Visit with all the Patience she was able; but indeed at present her Thoughts were so fixed at home, that had any of her most agreeable Acquaintance desired her Company, the Visit would have been almost equally irksome; and she would have wished to have been excused.
As David was still at Farmer Dunster's, Cynthia was satisfied he had, from the honest Assiduity of Dame Dunster, all the Care and proper Attendance he could wish: but this Situation of passing his Door twice a Day, and not daring to enter his Room, she would not endure longer than three Days, when (having forced from the Physician his Leave) she bid little Camilla by Degrees tell her Father she was in the House; and on the first Information, he begged instantly to see her.
David, even in the midst of Sorrow or Sickness, had a Benignity in his Countenance, which would baffle a Painter's Art to imitate, much less can Description pretend to reach it. But on the Sight of Cynthia, loaded with Pains and bent down with Weakness as he was, Joy beamed from his Eyes, which his Voice could but weakly express. Great was Cynthia's Pleasure to be admitted into his Room, and to have the Sentence of Banishment, if I may so call it, taken off: but yet his visible Decay, even chearful as he was, gave such Wounds to her Heart, as, following her Example, I am willing to pass over, and bury in Oblivion. Neither shall their Conversation be repeated by me. It is sufficient to say, that they spoke the Words dictated by the Hearts of Cynthia and David Simple.
David told Cynthia he had no Doubt of her Care of his Daughter. Then mentioning Mrs. Orgueil's Offer, he desired she might never fall into her Hands. Whatever anxious Thoughts he had on her Account he suppressed, and indeed some he could not but have: for although he knew Cynthia's Inclination, yet he knew also her Inability to provide for her Niece. But Cynthia knew the true State of his Mind without being told it; and revolved in her Thoughts ten thousand Schemes how she might be able, whilst he was yet alive, to give him the pleasing Prospect that his Daughter should be provided for, and protected from any Insult to which Youth and Beauty, joined with Poverty, might subject her. For they are the Objects of the Pursuit, or rather Persecution not only of all the abandoned amongst Men, but of all the envious amongst Women.
The last in the Book.
Cynthia enquired of David's Physician, whether there was any immediate Danger; and being answered in the Negative, she was up with the Sun the next Morning, and set out on foot from home. She told little Camilla, that if David asked for her, she should be at home in the Evening; and walked toward the great Bath Road: not that she supposed she could walk to the Bath, but she knew of two Stage Coaches that went by very early, and in one of them she doubted not but she should find Room. She remembered (for indeed it had made a deep Impression on her Mind) the uncommon Treatment she had met with from a Family not far distant from that City; and she was resolved to set before the Master of it David's Condition and the Situation of her Niece. Cynthia was the farthest in the World from being of a bold or intruding Disposition; and nothing but the Necessity of her Friends could have urged her on to take a Step which she feared she had not Acquaintance enough with that Gentleman to entitle her to.
When Valentine died, it was reported that Cynthia also was dead, and therefore on her Arrival at his Seat, when she sent in her Name, they were greatly surprized to hear it. But the Reception she met with from all the Family, would have paid her for the Passage of Death itself.
It was indeed rising again to Felicity from those bitter Sensations to which she had been long accustomed It inspired her with a Joy that she could hardly contain, without venting it in Acknowledgments that might give Offence. The Words of Kindness are more healing to a drooping Heart, than Balm or Honey: and if ever Gratitude fully possessed the human Breast, it might at that Instant be said to possess the Breast of Cynthia.
The Result of Cynthia's Journey was a kind Promise, that she and her Niece Camilla should be taken Care of. She was likewise supplied bountifully for the present with what was necessary for David; and was sent in a Coach to the Bath, where a Post Chaise was ordered to convey her as fast as possible, with the comfortable News which the Gentleman had put it in her Power to carry to David.
Cynthia's Imaginations, on her Journey back, were pleasing beyond Expression. The grateful Veneration which filled her Heart for the Person she had left, was one of those Sensations most capable of giving her Pleasure. The Looks of Welcome and the Words of Kindness she had met with, dwelt on her Fancy, and fixed there the most agreeable Pictures. Innumerable were the Times, on this Journey, that she in Fancy entered David's Room, and told him his Daughter was now indeed under safe and able Protection. Nay, sometimes she flattered herself that this would make a Turn in David's Mind, that might yet restore to her her Friend. She employed not her Thoughts in making elaborate Speeches on what she had done; she knew, that, with an Intent to give Pleasure, the Words for that Purpose would flow fast enough; and now safely and joyfully did she arrive at Farmer Dunster's. She embraced little Camilla, who met her on the Stairs, and eager to impart good News, told her she could now revive her Father, and provide for her. When she entered David's Room, he happened at that Time to be tolerably easy, and being always pleased with seeing her, gave her a Reception that again delighted her Heart. She first told him the principal Circumstance, namely, that his Daughter Camilla, as well as herself, should be under the kind Protection of one whose Power assisted his Inclination to confer the highest Benefits. Then she related the Manner and the Kindness with which she was received, and the Joy with which it inspired her, till she made his Pleasure and Gratitude equal with her own. When she was retired from David's Room, she again recounted the pleasing Narrative to her amiable Niece; and little Camilla received too all the Comfort her present Situation could admit. She was ready to fall on her Knees to express her grateful Thanks to her kind Benefactor. She uttered also the Words best adapted to shew the Pleasure she felt on the sudden Transition from the Dread of falling into the Hands of Mrs. Orgueil, to the joyful Hopes of living with Cynthia, if her Father—but that IF she could not utter.
David, though for some Days a little revived, by knowing that the Wish nearest his Heart would be accomplished, was too far gone for Cynthia to be able to flatter her self with any Hope of his Recovery. But still were her Intentions, in some Measure, answered, by seeing that Chearfulness with which the Prospect of his Daughter and Friend's being provided for, inspired him. In his Conversations with Cynthia, or his inward Reflections on his approaching Fate, he did not, like Orgueil, admire himself, or call for Admiration from others. But I will present my Reader with most of David's own Thoughts, not delivered by him in a long-continued Harangue, but what, at various Times, passed in his Mind, and some part of which fell from his Lips, and is here collected together, in order to give as perfect an Image of the Disposition with which he left this World, as I have attempted to give of his living in it.
"When I revolve in my Thoughts all my past Life, the Errors of my Mind strike me strongly. The same natural Desire for Happiness actuated me with the rest of Mankind: But there was something peculiar in my Frame; for the Seeds of Ambition or Avarice, if they were in me at all, were so small they were imperceptible. Friendship and Love were the only Images that struck my Imagination with Pleasure; there therefore I fixed my Pursuit, and in these I felt the Sharpness of every Disappointment —when first I found Daniel did not deserve my Love, I thought (Fool that I was) my Misery at the Height. And yet when I lay at that little Alehouse the first Night I left my Brother, as I was the only Sufferer, and was careless what became of me, my Mind was in a State of Happiness and Freedom, compared to the Thraldom I have since indured. When Miss Johnson discovered a mercenary Spirit, and would not longer suffer me to love her, I then thought my Misfortunes at the Height; and little did I imagine, that the greatest Misery, and sharpest Sting of my Life, was to arise from a Woman's permitting me to love and esteem her. Had any one then attempted to persuade me, how little could I have believed, that the attaining a faithful and tender Friend, that strong Pursuit of my Life, and which I thought the Height of Happiness, should lead to its very contrary, and by that Means shew me the Short sightedness of all human Wisdom: Yet I found, by Experience, that there are some Pleasures with which Friendship pays her Votaries, that nothing in this World can equal. But the same Experience has also convinced me, that when Fortune turns against us, she can point her Arrows with so much the sharpest Stings in her Quiver, that, when placed in the Ballance, more than weighs down all her highest Enjoyments. When I obtained my Camilla's Love, I exulted in the perfecting my own Scheme, and saw not what awaited me behind. My Camilla endeared herself daily more and more to my Heart—she brought me five fine Children, and joined with me in educating them my own Way. My Valentine, my Cynthia too, daily proved themselves more worthy of my Friendship. I thought myself at home in this World, and attached my Heart to the Enjoyment of it, as strongly, though in a different Way, as does the Miser or Ambitious—but I found, even in my Days of Happiness, that, in obtaining my Wishes, I had multiplied my Cares; for, in the Persons of my Friends, I felt, at once, several Head-achs, and every other Infirmity of Body, and Affliction of Mind, to which human Nature is incident: Yet, as I felt, too, all their Pleasures, whilst they were checquered, I was well pleased; but when Poverty broke in upon us, I found, that to bear the Poverty of many, was almost insupportable. —Then, indeed, my Mind began to be seized with Fear—I was no longer my former Self—Pictures of the Distress of my Family began to succeed each other in my Mind, and Terror and Timidity conquered my better Judgment. The Necessity I found for a Friend, made me admit, as such, Persons more properly called Persecutors; and my staggering Mind catched hold of every rotten Plank, in Hopes of a Support. Thus my fancied Friends became my Plagues, and my real ones, by their Sufferings, tore up my Heart by the Roots, and frightened me into the bearing the insolent Persecutions of the others—I found my Mind in such Chains as are much worse than any Slavery of the Body—Still, whilst my Camilla was spared to me, I struggled for Chearfulness; I hid my Sorrows within my own Breast, and she rewarded and deserved all my Care. But when, in the two last Months of her Life, I was a Witness of her Sufferings, I then experienced all the Horrors of Friendship— my Eyes were forced wide open, to discover the Fallacy of fancying any real or lasting Happiness can arise from an Attachment to Objects subject to Infirmities, Diseases, and to certain Death; and I would not, for any Thing this World can give, lead over again the last Twelve-month of my Life—I fancied I had some Constancy of Mind, because I could bear my own Sufferings, but found, through the Sufferings of others, I could be weakened like a Child. —All the Books of Philosophy I ever read, afforded me no Relief—I cannot comfort myself by contemplating my own Wisdom, nor imploy my Thoughts how to set off my Behaviour to others, neither pretend that I could stedfastly look Death in the Face, could I have no Prospect beyond it. To be all Uncertainty, all Gloom and Doubt, and yet to fit with Firmness, and expect the Stroke, to me seems to favour more of the Want of Apprehension belonging to an Idiot, than of the well grounded Satisfaction belonging to a Man of Sense. —But, with a strong and lively Hope in the Revelation God has been pleased to send us, and with a Heart swelling with Gratitude for that Revelation, I can carry my Prospect beyond the Grave; and, painful as my Distemper is, I can now sit in my Bed with a calm Resignation, to which my conquered Mind has been long a Stranger. —That I have lost Camilla is my Pleasure,—that she has gained by that Loss, softens every Pain. — God bless that benevolent Heart, who has given me the inexpressible Satisfaction to know, that I shall leave my innocent Daughter, and my faithful Friend, under safe and good Protection. —Cynthia, who has stood the Death of Valentine, will easily find Comfort from my Death, and will teach my young Camilla to consider it as my Deliverance; and 'tis with Joy I perceive my own Sorrows are near having an End."
These Things did David speak at various Times, and with such Chearfulness, that Cynthia said, the last Hour she spent with him, in seeing his Hopes and Resignation, was a Scene of real Pleasure.
But now will I draw the Veil, and if any of my Readers chuse to drag David Simple from the Grave, to struggle again in this World, and to reflect, every Day, on the Vanity of its utmost Enjoyments, they may use their own Imaginations, and fancy David Simple still bustling about on this Earth. But I chuse to think he is escaped from the Possibility of falling into any future Afflictions, and that neither the Malice of his pretended Friends, nor the Sufferings of his real ones, can ever again rend and torment his honest Heart.