Слике страница
PDF
ePub

he was the base informer, and we deliberated whether the note should not be broke open. I was against it; but Sophia, who said she was sure that of all men he would be the last to be guilty of so much basenefs, insisted upon its being read. In this she was feconded by the rest of the family, and, at their joint solicitation, I read as follows:

· LADIES, THE bearer will fufficiently fatisfy

you as to the person from whom this comes : one at least the friend of innocence, and ready to prevent its being feduced. I am informed for a truth, that you have some intention of bringing two young ladies to town, whom I . have some knowledge of, under the cha'racter of companions. As I would nei

ther have simplicity imposed upon, nor • virtue contaminated, I must offer it as my

opinion, that the impropriety of such a step will be attended with dangerous

icon

cconsequences. It has never been my 6. way to treat the infamous or the lewd • with severity; nor should I now have. • taken this method of explaining my

self, or reproving folly, did it not aim at:

guilt. Take therefore the admonition “ of a friend, and seriously reflect on the

consequences of introducing infamy and 6. vice into retreats where peace and inno-cence have hitherto resided.".

[ocr errors]

Our doubts were now at an end. There seemed indeed something applicable to both sides in this letter, and its censures might as well be referred to those to whom it was written, as to us; but the malicious meaning was obvious, and we went : no farther. My wife had scarce patience to hear me to the end, but railed at the · writer with unrestrained resentment. Olivia was equally fevere, and Sophia seemed perfectly amazed at his baseness. As for my part, it appeared to me one of the vilest instances of unprovoked ingratitude · I had met with.. Nor could I account for ·

it in any other manner than by imputing it to his desire of detaining my youngest daughter in the country, to have the more frequent opportunities of an interview. 'In this manner we all fate ruminating upon: schemes of vengeance, when our other little boy came running in to tell us that Mr. Burchell was approaching at the other end of the field. It is easier to conceive than describe the complicated sensations which are felt from the pain of a recent injury, and the pleasure of approaching vengeance. Though our intentions were : only to upbraid him with his ingratitude ; yet it was resolved to do it in a manner that would be perfectly cutting. For this purpose we agreed to meet him with our usual smiles, to chat in the beginning with more than ordinary kindness, to amuse him a little; and then in the midst of the flattering calm to burst upon him like an earthquake, and overwhelm him with the sense of his own baseness. . This being resolved upon, my wife undertook to.ma. nage the business herself, as she really had

some

fome talents for such an undertaking. We saw him approach, he entered, drew a. chair, and fate down. A fine day, · Mr. Burchell.' A very fine day,

Doctor ; though I fancy we shall have 6 some rain by the shooting of my corns.”

The shooting of your horns, cried my wife in a loud fit of laughter, and then asked pardon for being fond of a joke: « Dear madam,' replied he, - I pardon "you with all my heart; for I protest I 6 should not have thought it a joke had

you not told me.'- Perhaps not, « Sir,' cried my wife, winking at us, " and yet. I dare say you can tell us how.

many jokes go to an ounce.'—" I fancy, • madam,' returned Burchell, . you have - been reading a jest book this morning,

that ounce of jokes is fu' very good a • conceit; and yet, madam, I had rather « see half an ounce of understanding.'“I believe you might, cried my wife, still smiling at us, though the laugh was against her; and yet I have seen some * men pretend to understanding that have

3

• very

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

very little.' And no doubt,' replied her antagonist, “ you have known • ladies set up for wit that had none.' I quickly began to find that my wife was likely to gain but little at this business; so I resolved to treat him in a style of more severity myself. • Both wit and understand6. ·ing,' cried I, are trifles without inte

grity; it is that which gives value to every character. The ignorant peasant, without fault, is greater than the philosopher with many; for what is genius or courage without an heart? An honest man is the noblest work of God.?

I always held that hackney'd maxim of Pope,' returned Mr. Burchell, as very ' unworthy a man of genius, and a base 6. defertion of his own superiority. As 5. the reputation of books is raised not

by their freedom from defect, but the

greatness of their beauties; so should * that of men be prized not for their ex

emption from fault, but the size of those 5. virtues they are poffeffed of. The scho

6

(lar

« ПретходнаНастави »