CHARLES AND CHARLOTTE.

VOL. II.

CHARLES AND CHARLOTTE.

IN TWO VOLUMES.

VOL. II.

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Heaven first taught Letters for some Wretches aid. POPE'S ELOISA.

LONDON: Printed for WILLIAM LANE, Leadenhall-Street, M.DCC.LXXVII.

CHARLES AND CHARLOTTE.

LETTER LXV. CHARLES to CHARLOTTE.

DR. Melbank acquaints me you have hurt your wrist, and that it gives you great pain: I feel a sincere affliction upon two accounts arising from this accident; first, be­cause it occasions uneasiness to you, and, secondly, because it prevents your making use of the pen. How­ever, [Page 2] I charge you not to venture too soon to exert it. Rather let me be two or three days without your agree­able favours, than with them at the cost of your inconvenience: I will endeavour to support the loss of your correspondence, in the hope that your health may be the sooner restored: and as I myself get better every hour, I will do my best to entertain you with a double portion of packets.

Am I not grown a great philoso­pher? do I not at last acquiesce in your own system? do I not obey your inhibitions with even a scru­pulous ceremony? and am I not a mere correspondent? am I not the cold creature you wish me?

[Page 3]Yes Charlotte, I will yield to your punctilious principles. I will not murmur, nor will attempt again to invade your repose by desiring a personal interview, till the way to it is smoothed by providence. That this will be the case, I am certain. In the mean time I will endeavour to be contented with this remote, yet en­dearing intercourse, though Melbank has been labouring to persuade me it would be more for the health of my mind and body that I dropt the plea­sures of the pen. Of this he can never convince me; though I have received from him the tenderest treatment, and find him to be an able surgeon, and an amiable man.

[Page 4]I this morning had a penny post letter from him, which, that I may do him justice, and give your gentle heart satisfaction, I inclose.

Adieu, Charles.

LETTER LXVI. Dr. MELBANK to CHARLES. (Inclosed in the above.)

WHAT a pity it is that many of those articles of conduct, which are merely points of equity, should, in the opinion of the greater [Page 5] part of the world, be considered as obligations: happy, however, it is for the tranquility of delicate minds, when the balance of favours between man and man is even, because then no irksome sensation of superiority re­mains to distress either; and the in­terchange is honourable, exact, and mutual. This, Sir, is the state of the case between you and I. I am almost ready to confess myself in­debted to the accident that brought us together. The wounds, in which I have been an happy instrument of cure, have been, the means of mak­ing known to me a man of eminent abilities, and excellent qualities. In the midst of torture and cross circum­stances, how have I been entertained [Page 6] by his remarks! above all other parts of his character, I admire the libera­lity of his sentiments: at least they are to be admired in the theory. How shall I rejoice to find them equal in the practice! to slide again into the first person, and speak plainly; have you, my dear Sir, generosity enough to receive the inclosed, and to use it till I may have occasion to re-demand it? and will you do me the justice to be­lieve I have had so much move plea­sure than trouble in visiting you, that, unless you are so good as to set down my attention to the score of friendship, I shall be compelled to think myself too heavily indebted, and so despair of your intimacy; though I propose seeing you in the course of the day, [Page 7] yet this is a subject I hate to talk of, and therefore I have sent yon a post letter, that the foolish blush of con­fusion may be spared to both of us; and therefore I beg we may not men­tion this trifling point when we meet. Your attention to this request will very particularly oblige

E. MELBANK.

LETTER LXVII. CHARLES to CHARLOTTE.

MR. Templeton has transmitted to me a little rural poem, written by a literary friend of his: there is a novelty in the story, and [Page 8] a simplicity in the sentiment, that par­ticularly recommends it to persons of feeling. For this reason I am going to transcribe it for your perusal.

I am always happier while I am employed either in thinking of you, or in any degree contributing to your entertainment. Were it not for bend­ing my mind assiduously to these little epistolary engagements, and by these means soothing my hopes, and lulling my cares, I should not, I fear, be able to keep my promise, or withstand the impulses of my heart, which would carry me perforce into the apartment of Charlotte. I hope by to-morrow you will be able to take up the pen, and give me your [Page 9] opinion of the poem. A single line from your own hand, will agreeably convince me that you have again re­covered the perfect use of it. Mr. Melbank is still anxious to have me suspend our correspondence: if he persists in this advice, I shall hate him in spite of his generosity. He is a great admirer of yours.

CHARLES.
[Page 10]SILVANA, The HIGHLAND SHEPHERDESS.
'TWAS in December's drear, and darksome days
When the cold north sends forth his cutting blast:
'Twas when portentous clouds denoting storm,
Their sable horrors roll'd around the heavens:
'Twas when, by force of hurricanoes vast
The towering fir ev'n to his root was riven,
Till all of feather, or of fleece, forsook
The Highland hill, to shelter in the vale:
Then 'twas that poor Silvana to her grief
A prey, and reckless of the raving sky,
Sat on the perilous ridge of the rude rock,
That frowns upon the dizzy precipice.
Lonely she sat, and ne'er did sorrow seize
A form more delicate, a soul more kind.
Care, from her tender cheek, now woeful wan
The rose had torn, and in its stead the tear
Like dew-drops on the lily, settled there.
Five fleecy friends were to Silvana dear,
And more than five moons wasted had they fed
On the scant reliques of Silvana's store.
[Page 11]The prickly furze, the weed-entangled grass,
The thistly blade, the heavy hemlock's [...]eaf,
The bitter mallow, and the flowery fern,
Her sheep ne'er cropt, but herbs of sweeter taste,
The vernal pasturage of voluptuous meads,
The richest grazings of the daintiest dell,
The velvet verdure of the violet vale;
The honied clover, and the fragrant blade.
Her daily journey to the fertile farms
Was for the purchase of the day's repast.
But now her eye was fix'd, her bosom bare,
Irregularly throbbing with its woe;
Wild to the pitiless winds her scatter'd locks
Luxurious floated; half her shoulder spread,
And half in deep disorder stream'd in air:
Uplift to heaven her snowy arms were rais'd
In passion, or in prayer; at last a sigh
Heav'd from her hapless heart, and thus she sung.
I.
'Twill soon be o'er—No more despair,
Silvana's eyes shall soon be dry,
Man, feeble man, was born to bear;
"To look about him, and to die."
II.
Then soft awhile, and gentle death,
Silvana's passing-bell shall toll,
Her sheep shall catch her wand'ring breath,
And heaven shall watch the flying soul.
III.
This fluttering spirit shall be free:
My sheep, mean-time, demand my care;
They browze, and bound round yonder tree,
But ah!—their shepherd is not there.
IV.
Yet cease awhile—I'll not despair.
I see my shepherd in the sky,
Tho' man's frail race were born to bear
The wedded soul shall never die.

LETTER LXVIII. Dr. MELBANK to CHARLOTTE.

I FEEL myself to blame. I have interdicted a correspondence, that gives both you and Charles pleasure, and I am much afraid the health of my patient was not the only motive that led me to this. The real motive I dare not discover. Be it some atonement, that I acquaint you Charles's health is not likely to be hurt, or his cure retarded, by the letters of Charlotte. I am in a very aukward situation, and beg to be excused for dropping the subject.

E. MELBANK.

LETTER LXIX. From the same to HAMLET TEMPLETON, Esq

WHAT must I do, Mr. Tem­pleton? I am under an em­barrassment, from the pains of which I can by no means disengage myself? Will you, who are in some degree a party concerned, give me your advice. To cut short the idle formalities of ceremonious introduction, I must open to you the nature of my dilemma at once. Would you believe it, Mr. Templeton; while I have been attempting to cure Charles, [Page 15] I have been myself wounded by Char­lotte: yes, Sir, widower as I am, again am I caught in the nets of beauty and merit, and am vainly trying every possible effort to forget the form that undid my repose." I have already been led into meanesses by this clan­destine passion: it has urged me to desire Charlotte to forbear writing, under pretence of its interfering with my endeavours to restore Charles's health. I have visited this lovely wo­man several times, and have had the mortification to hear her heave a thou­sand sighs, and to see her shed a thou­sand tears; although she still remains sixt in her resolution of never again uniting herself to him, I have not had the courage to hint at my parti­ality; [Page 16] and to tell you the truth, Sir, I am witheld from such declarations from various motives. I have con­ceived a tender esteem for Charles, and I am unwilling to give him pain. I consider myself as standing in a very delicate light, and I know not how I can reconcile the different cha­racters of a surgeon, a friend, and a lover. I fairly confess to you, I never saw any woman so formed to please, as Charlotte: as to her having been connected with another, were not that other Charles, I should make that no objection to offer her at once my heart, hand, and for­tune. My profession is merely an object of my choice, not of neces­sity, and I have an income that could [Page 17] support the woman of my affections affluently. Were it not for the ap­pearance of duplicity, which I can­not bear, I should certainly make such overtures to Charlotte, as might put both my love and my principles out of dispute. Such a woman, Sir, would grace the arms, and bless the heart, of a monarch; and I should rejoice to lead her by the hand into the embraces of all my family, and all my friends.

At the same time, what can I do? would not such advances, coming thus suddenly from me, look like taking advantages of sickness, and separation? Charles's tenderness is too palpable! Charlotte's love is by [Page 18] no means worn off. I see them both every day, and I every day find in both fresh excellencies which it would be inhuman to injure. Who knows what may happen! Cleora may die; many events, may, under the direc­tion of an indulgent god, auspiciously concur to bring Charles and Charlotte once more into the arms of each other. I may be looked upon as an usurper, as a supplanter of affection: and what makes the matter still worse, is, that I have very lately done myself the pleasure of accommodating Charles with what the world considers an im­portant favour. I have lent him money; it is therefore the worst time in the world to make proposals. The poor lad's nerves too, are at present all [Page 19] on the tremble; his strength is but just returning; his heart is greatly agitated; he cannot get out of his chamber—what, can be done Mr. Templeton? as a friend to all par­ties, tell me—I am truly wretched myself, and yet I should be ashamed, if I wanted fortitude to prevent the wretchedness of others; particularly those, whom I have had the honour to oblige.

I am, your obedient servant, E. MELBANK.

LETTER LXX. HAMLET TEMPLETON, Esq to Dr. MELBANK.

YOUR letter brought one of the greatest surprises I ever felt since I came into the world: nor can I possibly give my sentiments upon a point so particularly delicate. For aught I see, you are all to be pitied; and you all deserve, and have my un­availing sympathy. Heaven direct you all into such measures as may ultimately be for the general felicity! at present, I can only remain anxious and wretched, till I hear that the [Page 21] wishes of each are granted; and this, believe me, Sir, will be the first prayer of my heart.

H. T.

LETTER LXXI. CHARLES to CHARLOTTE.

NOT a word yet? if you were better, I should have had a written testimony of it; and there­fore I have the painful certainty to know you are worse—perhaps, Char­lotte, you have deceived me: a sprain'd wrist may be a pretence to conceal an accident infinitely more [Page 22] alarming; you may, for aught I know, be at this moment on the bed of sickness—you may be in the agonies of a sore distemper—you may have broken a limb. I have questioned Dr. Melbank, who it seems attends you, pretty closely on this subject; and I do not half like his answers. He stammers; he offers me a feeble excuse; he equivocates; and he ab­ruptly goes away blushing, because he cannot disguise the truth, in the veil of a better apology. My imagi­nation represents you in a condition, at which my heart achs; perhaps you are fainting, and I am not by to catch you in my arms: you are perhaps sick, and I am not present to administer the cordials of recovery— [Page 23] you are weeping, and I am too distant to kiss away the tear—the point is plain; and this is the truth of the whole matter; if you do not, with your own hand, answer this hasty letter, which I dispatch by a porter, I shall draw the natural conclusions— I shall judge the horrors of your situation, and, weak as I am, venture abroad to offer my assistance.

CHARLES.

LETTER LXXII. CHARLOTTE to CHARLES.

IT is with a sincere pleasure I find myself again able to address my valuable correspondent; and I use this first moment of resuming the pen to thank him for his letters, and the poem: all which, I read with great satisfaction. It is very true that I have been some time in your debt, but you wall now receive a receipt in full; for this epistle will certainly compensate for all that is due, and make the balances even. Since the correspondence on my side [Page 25] has been necessarily suspended, Dr. Melbank has favoured me with a friendly call or two, and, in his last visit finding me much dispirited, he entertained me by reciting the prin­cipal passages in his own life. I was saying how hard it was to lose a friend, at the time one is most thoroughly sensible of his merit: upon this he sighed—pressed his hand upon his heart, and wiping a tear from his eyes, said, it was indeed hard; "I have experienced it most severely, Madam, said he, and, notwithstand­ing my present flow of fortune, and fulness of practice, I dare say I have undergone more than you would wish an enemy to suffer. As you seem to think your own situa­tion [Page 26] deplorable, although your friend is still alive, if you have half an hour to spare, I will run over some scenes that may serve to make you con­tented with your own state, by com­paring it with that of others.

But on looking a second time at your letter, I perceive your mes­senger is waiting an answer, upon which account I must reserve the sketch of our friend's history till my next letter.

I send this, merely to shew you the desired hand writing of

CHARLOTTE.

LETTER LXXIII. CHARLES to CHARLOTTE.

"IF I were now to die, 'twere now to be most happy." The written evidence of your recovery, and the manifest marks of health I can trace in your letter, are all such circumstances of sincere joy to me, that I could suffer without complain­ing, and would, at any time pay for your felicity, the price of my own. Poor Melbank! he has been these two or three days unusually pensive, and I suppose it proceeds from hav­ing related past scenes of anxiety. I [Page 28] know enough of him to admire his character: I have had several fine assurances of his being in possession of a noble heart. He shook me by the hand this morning, and, as he went out of the door, he turned his face, and discovered a tear. If he has had any tender disappointments, heaven knows I pity him. You have made me sigh for his story.

Adieu, CHARLES.

LETTER LXXIV. CHARLOTTE to CHARLES.

"MY adventures, Madam," said Dr. Melbank, "shall be re­lated as briefly as the intricacy and variety of them will admit—I was born under all the smiles of fortune, having a man of sense and property for my father, a woman of beauty and honour for my mother, and no other relations whatever alive, that were likely to dispute with me, the right of succession. But alas! Madam, from my first birth-day to the seventh year of my age, it seemed to be the [Page 30] contrivance of fortune to enrich me: for m father engaged in a business that ruined his constitution and estate in the same instant. He extended his trade till he became involved in a thousand hopeless calamities — He carried his ambitious schemes of mer­chandise, till he rashly run into all the extravagance of giving credit: he trusted to an agent, who, as is common enough, turned out a rascal, and being at last obliged to attend vigilantly to his own affairs, he em­barked for the east, where he had considerable dealings, to gather in desperate debts to a great amount— there he caught a fever in the pas­sage — lingered for some days—wrote a letter to my mother during his [Page 31] sickness, and absolutely died at last, a martyr to that ambition, which in­duces a man to give up, according to the common phrase—a certainty for an uncertainty. True it is, that I was his only heir; but had there been fifty competitors, not one would have long felt the spirit of litigation rising within them: for, when mat­ters came to be examined, the poor man's ambition for becoming the man of business, had buried his real estate in the ruins of an imaginary property: and all that he left behind him descended into the hands of a merciless crew of creditors, who veri­fied at least, one passage of scripture, by taking care, in all such cases, [Page 32] that the sins of the father shall be visited on the children."

"My mother, Madam, loved her husband so much better than her own life, that in the phrenzy of af­fection, she was frequently prevented from making a sacrifice to his ashes, of that beautiful form on which he had doated: time, however, brought her usual lenitive, and the widow began at length to think it her duty to share the poverty and misfortunes that was by this event, entailed upon her child. Her constitution was always delicate, and this sore stroke gave additional force to a disorder which was hereditary to the female side of our family. She had the [Page 33] asthma in all its violence, and, in a few months, it reduced her to a shadow. As this excellent woman had been too affectionate to secure to herself an original marriage-set­tlement, and the claimants were therefore generous enough to allow a few suits of half-worn apparel, which properly belonged to her own person; and after this, it was not easy to find a poorer pair than now exhibited themselves in Mrs. Mel­bank, and her fatherless son."

"Maternal love, nevertheless, in­creased, in proportion to the neces­sity there was to exert it. For some little time she tried the feelings of those who had been the companions [Page 34] of her prosperity, but that soon failing, she applied to a resource, which may generally be depended on; i. e. pro­vided the application be earnest: in a word, Madam, she withdrew from the smiling apologies, and civil evasions of friendship, to her own in­dustry. Being educated in all the accomplishments of her sex, and particularly skilful at her needle, she chearfully undertook to assist ladies in those very decorations which she was a short time before entitled to wear herself—Nay—such. was her humility, she condescended to manage the work of those very women, whom in the life-time of her late husband, she visited upon terms of equality and intimacy; but fortune, [Page 35] you know, Madam, elevates and de­grades, sometimes in the same hour."

"From these efforts, I mean out of her work, she not only accommo­dated me with food, but instruction, paying regularly for my schooling, and providing for me every comfort of mind and body."

"In this manner, with very few helps, were, we subsisted for several years, till at length her disorder grew, so bad, that she was totally unable to proceed in the business— a business, Madam, which want had urged her to undertake. As I was de­ficient neither in gratitude, nor filial feelings, and was by this time ar­rived [Page 36] at the age of distinguishing, judge the state of my mind, at per­ceiving the dear person to whom I had been so long indebted, declin­ing away in silent and wasting agony, under my eye: her physician recommended change of air; and I therefore removed her a few miles distant, to a little village contiguous to the Thames. Still, Madam, the cruel distemper gained upon all our endeavours, and neither sunshine, ver­dure, nor rural breezes, could restore her. Sixteen days did she lay pant­ing in the extremity, at the end of which time, we had exhausted all the little savings that the exactest oeconomy had hoarded up against a rainy day, after the necessary ex­pences [Page 37] of our subsistance were an­swered."

"For my own part, bred as I was to no employment, and but just raw from school, I knew neither the value of talents, nor the means of getting money, by art, or by dili­gence; but our affairs were now come to the crisis. My poor mother lay speechless: the woman with whom we lodged, pitied her extremely, and, as an instance of it, began to tell us how inconvenient it was for folks like she and her husband, who had a small house, to let lodgings. The husband spoke first obliquely, and then directly, of a cousin, that was upon the road, to stay with them [Page 38] during the fair time; and, in the progress of their observations, they made very pertinent comments on those excellent places of resource for poor wretches—the public hos­pitals—Assylums, said they, where those who want diet and doctors, and yet have no method to procure either, may get both for nothing — In this exigence, Madam, upon the edge of every thing dreadful, famine on the one hand, and despair on the other, I sallied out of the house, re­solved not to come back with an empty pocket—Accordingly, in the distraction of my mind, and in the simplicity of my head, I opened my case to the very first person I saw. The first person I saw, happened to [Page 39] be such a one, as, I fear, "take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again." He was on horseback, not resident in the town, but merely passing through it. With­out scarce knowing what I was about, I told him the incoherent story, but told it to the heart—and never —no, Madam—by my soul, never shall I forget the anxious air, and melting tone with which he said—Talk no more, poor youth, talk no more, but quickly lead me to your mother. What a tear did he shed on my hand as he dismounted from his horse—O God! Madam, my only surviving parent was breath­ing her last as we entered. She had not strength to speak—she could resist [Page 40] the attacks of her fate, but faintly— it was just allowed her to say, fault­eringly—kiss me, my son; and even as I was stooping to obey her, the lip quivered in death—in the next moment she was an angel."

"This worthy stranger buried my mother with all the attention, and sacred decency, due to a parent of his own; and, for a long time after­wards, he supplied me with every thing that cou'd sooth the mind, or comfort the body. But, alas! this refuge was soon taken from me; the gentleman died suddenly, and I was once more left upon the wide world, an orphan, without a friend. I was now reduced to seek for subsistence [Page 41] in the capacity of a servant, and had the good fortune to be taken in by a nneighbouring apothecary for the me­nial purpose of carrying out his drugs. It was at his house, Madam, that I first saw the exact resemblance of yourself—similar in sense—similar in beauty. I shall not, however, trouble you with the annals of my courtship: the apothecary took a particular lik­ing to me, and after I had been his servant two years, exalted me to the dignity of being his son, destitute as I was, and gave me his only daughter, intending, that I should continue with him, and learn his business. He died, however, in less than six weeks, and continued his partiality, by bequeath­ing to me and his beloved Maria [Page 42] —so was my wife called—his whole fortune, amounting to near three hun­dred pounds a year in landed pro­perty, besides a good house: as an honest man, I must tell you, Madam, that the apothecary had a nephew, which, having disobliged him, he never had seen for many years, and though he was once to have been the chief heir, was not so much as men­tioned in his last sentiments."

"Of this, indeed, I did not hear, till I had spent the whole fortune; for Maria had never seen the young man, and his uncle never spoke of him to her. Since I have known the fact, I have vainly endeavoured to find the youth, that I might make [Page 43] him amends; but my researches have not been yet rewarded, and the apo­thecary's old friends tell me they be­lieve he is dead."

"A foolish ambition is, I believe, hereditary to my family. I had no sooner got a competence, than I left the country—sold my house there; and, thinking that my observation had qualified me for the apothecary business, I opened, in an absurd hurry, a shop of my own. I laid out a large sum, to the worst advan­tage, with a druggist, and finding myself without connections, I adver­tised for custom. During this period I was surely possessed, for, contrary to the intreaties of my wife, whom I [Page 44] adored, even while I contradicted, I resolved to go on: nay, not to have any reserve with you, I was so plung'd in this medical madness, that I pur­chased all the pompous parapherna­lia of the doctor, and, in the shop of an apothecary, had all the tremendous apparatus of a surgeon. I give you leave to laugh at me, when I tell you, that I cropt close to my ears, a fine flowing head of hair, to surround my lunatic pate by a set of enormous curls, rising, in formidable exact­ness, tier above tier, in all the ma­jesty of a physician. I became per­fect in the pat on the snuff-box, the management of the graver muscles, and the swing of the cane: I knew the several uses of the watch. I af­fected [Page 45] to abridge my Latin, and to sign the initials of my name as unin­telligibly and obliquely as possible; and, to sum up the whole, I should certainly have ventured upon an equi­page—that most necessary of all pom­pous appendages—had not my poor girl, with streaming eyes told me, (what really was but too probable) that all those accomplishments would be of no sort of service, and that she verily feared, neither chariots, nor chirurgical instruments, nor drugs, nor gallipots, would be of any conse­quence, till I could prove to the fa­culty, and to my friends, that I un­derstood something of the profession, beyond its pomps and vanities. I began to think there was some truth [Page 46] in my wife's remark, for I could nei­ther get any mortal to tell me he was sick; nor any man that wished me well, who did not tell me that he was sorry. One day, however, fortune was determined to throw a job in my way. It happened that a man was thrown from a ladder as he was re­pairing a house, and, in his fall, broke his leg, at the threshold of my door—God forgive me, Madam, but judging it to be a simple fracture, I blessed heaven for the accident. I first scribbled a prescription, in the capacity of a physician, then made it as an apothecary, and lastly, I began to feel the part, as a surgeon. I began at last to bandage the leg, and to bleed the arm: but the agitation I was in, [Page 47] put me into such a trembling, that, (as I held the lancet unsteadily) I rambled from the vein, and fairly cut a slice from the brawny part of the arm: the patient, who was a stout fellow, started up enraged, and, swear­ing that I knew no more how to bleed a man than his trowel, hopp'd out of the shop in search of an abler operator—notwithstanding these igno­minious testimonies of my ignorance, I was obstinate enough to persist, till partly by pomp, and partly by va­nity, I exhausted poor Maria's whole fortune: from this time I involved my dear contented girl in the effects of my folly, and we were both, for a long time, the dupes of caprice, and the slaves of apology. Reflec­tion, [Page 48] and the remorse attending it, threw me upon the bed of sickness, and then it was that Maria hired a nurse to wait upon me, while she made application, and wrote circular appeals to the most opulent of her ac­quaintance. She undertook this most irksome of all human engagements unknown to me; and it was not till after I got much better in my health, that she informed me of her miscar­riage. Though I should have thought it impossible to turn the deaf ear to such a creature's request, yet she succeeded, as people of both sexes ge­nerally do upon the like occasions. Curious, although common, were the evasions made use of: one, had un­luckily just parted from all his money [Page 49] —a second, had taken an oath that he never would lend a farthing more to his own brother; and the reason was, he had already suffered by his good-nature — a third, was exces­sively-grieved for me—a fourth, was excessively grieved for Maria—a fifth, was excessively glad to see folly, ex­travagance, and vanity, rewarded in this world—a sixth, told my wife that he made it a maxim never to give money, but that, as one good turn deserved another, he was ready to be even-handed with her, and give favour for favour—a seventh, said he had a sum to make up—and, in short, Madam, every one had an excuse; so that poor Maria returned convinced, that indigence professed, [Page 50] is the only state that must find de­sertion and deafness attend its peti­tions."

"By this time I felt my folly in all the bitterness of consciousness; and in the midst of all these calamities my wife was far advanced in her pregnancy, when she fell down stairs, hurried on a premature labour, and died in my arms in the evening of the ninth day—I was many times tempted to deeds of impiety and despair; and, having my affairs in the utmost disorder, I went on board a tender, and, with very little money in my pocket more than would pay my passage (and even that obtained by the sale of my drugs—for alas! [Page 51] my estate was long since gone)—I landed in Jamaica."

"As if fortune was once more re­solved to befriend me, I was in the very ship with, a man of the first eminence as a surgeon, and of very considerable property, who had been to England to take possession of that property. His humanity was equal to his ingenuity: my history endeared me to him: he offered me his pity; and before we had arrived at the island, an accident happened that changed that pity into the tenderest friendship."

"He was one evening walking by moon-light upon the quarter deck, [Page 52] when, by a sudden swell of the sea, (it being then a calm) he was thrown from his center, and fell overboard. As our ship was rolling, on he was soon at the stern, and I, who was the only person that saw his misfor­tune, ran to the boatswain, alarmed the company, and ordered out a boat with all dispatch: mean-time I threw a large rope from the poop, and he had the good luck to swim near enough to reach it—By some means or other the boat was en­tangled, and could not be easily ex­tricated—I drew the gentleman by the rope to the ship's side—the calm was now quick dead, and little or no swell. I brought him within half a yard of the gunnel, and then, [Page 53] stooping till I was even with the water, I dipt in my arms, while another man had girt a rope round my middle, and by clasping the poor exhausted surgeon in my arms with all my violence, the man above, fast­ened the rope to a pully, and, at the risque of almost cutting me in two, for I was resolved not to let go my hold, drew us both up together.— From henceforward this gentleman and I were as brothers: for near five years, and a half he in every respect treated me as such: I studied with the utmost diligence under his tuition in the art of anatomy—I at­tended him over all the islands in every case, and to every patient, and in the end I became a tolerable pro­ficient. [Page 54] In the mean time an opportunity of marrying to the utmost advantage, offered itself.— The idea of Maria prevented all such connections. Never was applica­tion more intense, nor perhaps better rewarded—and I owed every thing to my friend whose name was William­son. Had Maria lived to see this reverse of fortune, what could have been added unto me — At length, however, Dr. Williamson (who had not a relation alive that was known to him) died of a fever, then epide­mical, in Jamaica — He made his will in my favour, and left me every thing he could call his own upon earth, except the portrait of a lady that hung round his neck, and which, [Page 55] in the same condition, was buried with him. The doctor's fortune was large, and it hath given me affluence, but not joy, for I had much rather my friend, and my wife had lived to share them.—"

"Here, Charles, the doctor ended, and giving a heavy sigh, took me kindly by the hand, and wished me a good night. What a multitude of revolutions, croud into the petty span of human existence!"

Adieu. CHARLOTTE.

LETTER LXXV. H. TEMPLETON, Esq to CHARLES.

I HAVE a strange piece of news to communicate to my dear Charles: an old friend of mine has just written to me on a curious sub­ject. He has, it seems, lately seen Charlotte, and is over head and ears in love with her: he has a large fortune, and is smitten so smartly, that he writes me word he intends to make serious proposals of marriage; and only wants me to assure him the connection betwixt you and her is actually dissolved. I really believe [Page 57] he is in earnest, and he is a man of good sense, great connections, and splendid circumstances, besides being in one of the genteelest professions. What the deuce am I to say to him on this point? He presses for an answer, and I am utterly unprepared for it. For your part, I suppose you would not give your consent to her being the wife of an emperor; and yet, if this spark should make honourable advances, and offer such terms as are extremely flattering and advantageous, how would you act in that case? would you oppose, or would you promote, or would you stand neuter upon the occasion? shall I not do right, if I tell my friend the subject is too nice to be [Page 58] spoken to—or shall I—but you must direct me. I will not send a slip of paper till you give me full instruc­tions: and so, pray write to me im­mediately.

H. T.

LETTER LXXVI. CHARLES to CHARLOTTE.

I HAVE resolved to venture into the country for the benefit of the air, and, therefore, you must not expect to hear from me again for some days. For a short time there­fore, adieu to

CHARLES.

LETTER LXXVII. Dr. MELBANK to CHARLOTTE.

HAVE you seen Charles? he has left his lodgings, and yet has taken nothing with him. His landlady informs me he went out with two-well-dress'd men in a coach, although it was evidently very dif­ficult for him to get in the carriage. If you have not heard from, or seen him, I shall be exceedingly uneasy. I had written the inclosed letter to you ever since yesterday morning, and kept it in my pocket, nor do I now send it without being doubtful [Page 60] whether it ought not to be suppressed. At all events, I beseech you not to break it open, or pay it the least attention till you are perfectly satis­fied of the safety of Charles.

E. MELBANK.

TO CHARLOTTE. (Being the letter inclosed.)

I FEEL myself in the greatest confusion, as I take up the pen to address you: my design, however, is laudable, and my wishes innocent. There is a person of my acquaintance who is lately become tenderly sensible [Page 61] of your merit, and he is extremely anxious for me to endeavour to in­terest your sentiments on the sub­jects. At present, however, he will only dare to trouble you with a sin­gle question—Could any thing in­cline you to enter into the marriage state with any other person than Charles—in other words—could the utmost assiduity, attention, and ample fortunes, all at your disposal, pre­vail with you to accept the hand, and suffer any other object to culti­vate your esteem, and lead you to the foot of the altar? I will take care that your reply to this shall be decisive; it shall inspire encourage­ment, or extinguish it for ever—not [Page 62] the passion—at least the declaration of it.

I am, your obedient servant, E. MELBANK.

LETTER LXXVIII. CHARLOTTE to Dr. MELBANK.

I HAD a billet from my friend Charles, a few minutes before I received your favour, and though I am afraid, he ventures out too soon, yet I am acquainted with the design [Page 63] of his excursion, which is only to get a little fresh air; and I suppose he has taken a couple of friends with him to look out a pleasant and whole­some spot. After he is fixt, we shall certainly hear from him.

In relation, sir, to your inclosure, I should esteem myself unworthy the compliment intended me, if I did not instantly reply to a point of such consequence. Sensible as I am, sir, of the honour—greatly as I venerate the sacred rites to which you allude, it is clearly my duty to tell you, that I can never conceive myself justified in giving my hand to any person, while Charles is living. There are certain circustances between us which [Page 64] make this resolution, a matter of conscience; and though it is highly probable, I shall never be more than that gentleman's correspondent, yet, during his life, I am solemnly deter­mined never to admit, or even think of the addresses of any other man upon earth. In my unlucky situa­tion, this may sound affectedly, but indeed, sir, it is pure principle; and you cannot give me so elegant an instance of your friendship, as your interceding instantly with your ac­quaintance to forbear the revival of a matter, that must be unsuccessful.

I am, your obedient servant, CHARLOTTE.

LETTER LXXIX. CHARLES to H. T. Esq

I WRITE this letter to you in a place of confinement, to which I was carried, just as I was preparing to walk abroad for the first time since my illness. The shock has returned upon me a violent fever; by some means or other I fainted away in the coach, from surprize and weakness; and, I now find the dres­sing has left my wound, and I am in a great deal of misery. This is the more unfortunate, as I am re­solved not to let either Melbank or [Page 66] Charlotte know a syllable about my situation: I have been already too much obliged by the one, and I cannot bear to be for ever racking the generosity of the other. How any of my creditors could possibly de­tect my retreat, sequester'd as it was, and apart from all my former con­nections, I cannot guess: evident enough it is, I am in prison, and for a debt of all others the least re­collected, because I do not now suffer for myself, but for having made myself foolishly answerable for the extravagance of another: yet the creditor is a very humane man, and some cruel tamperings must have been used with him, before he could be brought to this measure. To en­quire, [Page 67] however, into these points is absurd. I am a most unfortunate man, and the hand of adversity is eternally upon me.

Since I came hither, I read your letter upon the subject of Charlotte's marriage. Ah! Mr. Templeton, how does self-love stand arm'd against the welfare of social? But sickness, and acute distress, hath, perhaps, mended both my heart and my ideas. I can now cooly consider myself as I really am; a man mark'd out from com­munity to be eminently miserable: a young creature, whose own family have long confederated against him, even till the wishes, which could only be satisfied with his destruction, are [Page 68] compleated. Yes, dear Templeton, I now behold myself with an impar­tial eye—as a triumph to my ene­mies, as an anguish to my friends— as a distress to those who have ever connected themselves with me. I blush to examine this picture of the truth, and the only atonement I can make, is to make a decent retreat from conscious error at once. In the first place, Templeton, let me endeavour, though very late, to do justice to Charlotte. A friend of yours, with all the advantages of birth, fortune, virtues, and a genteel profession, will marry her—will lead her by the hand, you say, and offer her terms of tenderness and honour. It is enough Templeton. I see [Page 69] plainly my duty, and I am inspired by the prospect of it. Fully con­vinced as you are of the gentleman's merit and circumstances, I shall rely upon your judgment, and enquire no more—Pray present my compli­ments to him, and after you have read, and put a wafer under the inclosed letter, deliver it to him from

CHARLES.
[Page 70]

To — (Being the inclosure.)

SIR,

YOUR friend, Mr. Templeton, has written to me upon a very delicate occasion, and made known to me the wishes of your heart. Ah! sir, should those wishes be gratified, what a happiness will you enjoy? I need not, I presume, point out to you the merits of the object whose affections you design to solicit, al­though it is impossible you should, at present, be so intimately acquainted with them as I am: notwithstanding [Page 71] this, sir, I have now so full a sense of what ought, and what, therefore, shall be done on my part, that you may rest satisfied of meeting no in­terruption from the writer of this letter: he advises you on the con­trary, to make advances to the heart and hand of the loveliest of women: he is convinced how much it is for your felicity, and her reputation: his own selfish wishes he sacrifices to such considerations, and he declares solemnly, that the husband of Char­lotte shall have the veneration of

CHARLES.

LETTER LXXX. CHARLES to Dr. MELBANK.

FINDING myself perfectly stout, and my wound free from any pain, I have been bold enough to make an excursion into the country, just within reach of the penny-post, through whose medium I send this, and shall send my fu­ture letters to you, and to Charlotte. I hope, by this time, your good sense and good nature have recom­mended you to that lady's attention: I even wish your sentiments may have weight with her, because, in that [Page 73] case, you may be of service in a matter wherein her fortunes are nearly concerned. To speak plain, Dr. Melbank, an opportunity invites, which should not be neglected: a gentleman of great property, and many amiable qualities, is struck, I find (as indeed he well might be) with the beautiful form of Charlotte. His views are noble: he is well ac­quainted with her late connection, and yet his ambition is to make her his lawful wife. Judge how thorough­ly I must be convinced of the im­portance of her inclining to this offer, when I can bring myself to desire you will deliver a letter to her upon the subject; a letter, Mr. Melbank, urging her by all the [Page 74] arguments that arise out of the case, fully contemplated, to accept the hand of another admirer: nay, more; I enjoin you, sir, as you value the the character of this charming, but injured woman, to second my elo­quence by yours, and to suggest every thing that may incline her to a measure so auspicious to her, in every respect. I send my letter under cover to you, and sealed, that you may first run your eye over it, and see the motives of the now re­signed,

CHARLES.
[Page 75]

TO CHARLOTTE. (Inclosed.)

THE lessons of Charlotte, have at length brought Charles to a real sense of right and wrong: he has deliberated upon his duty several solitary hours, and the result of the whole is a plain conviction, that his continuing to correspond with her, is highly culpable. His weakness is constantly urging him to mix with his sentiments, the expressions of love, all which serve to fan a fire, that might otherwise be consumed. Charles is at last certain, that he is doing his fair friend an injury by this [Page 76] conduct. He is persuading her to cherish a hopless passion, and must consequently make her very unhappy. Were she left to the drift of her own prudence and wisdom, they would soon conquer a fatal flame, which is perhaps acquiring fresh force from being thus indirectly cherished. She is by these means also, kept out of those elegant circles which are so innocent, so advantageous, and so agreeable to female youth. Perhaps, if she were to go more into the world, she might meet the man whom she might yet like—whom she might honour with the name and privileges of a husband. The curse that attends Charles, may not attend another, and the advantages [Page 77] of marriage, though, in real fact, they may not, in particular cases, contribute much to purity of heart, contribute infinitely to worldly re­putation. Charles is become sensible of what Charlotte ought to do, should she receive advances of this honour­able nature. As it is impossible she should act unkindly to any man, so, if any man of fortune, good temper, and good sense, should address her, it is the most serious advice of Charles, that she could indulge him with encouragement. Blinded no longer by the mists of passion, he can now see the train of desireable consequences attendant upon such a step. He sees the amiable Charlotte [Page 78] caressed by those who before had the insolence to sneer.

He observes the beautiful martyr embraced by those who lately kept aloof: the very virtue and excellence, over which affected state and haughty chastity before triumphed, is now congratulated, complimented, and applauded.

She will, therefore, weigh these important articles, and whenever they present themselves to her ac­ceptance, it is the hope of Charles, that she will not refuse them. That she may be tortured with no more improper sentiments, but lay such as [Page 79] these to her heart — is the last in­truding prayer of

CHARLES.

LETTER LXXXI. H. T. Esq to Dr. MELBANK. (Sent without a signature, in a feigned hand.)

THERE is a friend of yours in great distress at the — prison. He is ill, and your assistance, as a surgeon, would perhaps be desireable.

I am, your humble servant.

LETTER LXXXII. CHARLES to H. T. Esq

READ the inclosed, and pity

CHARLES.

CLEORA to CHARLES. (Inclosed.)

YOU are not to attribute your present confinement to the ma­lice of the creditor, at whose suit you were arrested. It was at the in­stance of Mrs. P. your mother, who [Page 81] takes that method of bringing you to a sense of religion, and your duty. She considers a jail as the school of virtue, and apprehends you will now have something more important to employ yourself than in scribbling love-letters. Be assured, however, Sir, I had no hand in bringing upon you this trouble, and have but just heard it from the mouth of your creditor. Charlotte has, no doubt, by this time been to comfort you, and with her, I suppose, you think all situations equal.

CLEORA.

P. S. Your reversionary annuity is likely to be swallowed up in the expences of the law suit.

LETTER LXXXIII. CHARLES to MRS. P.

Madam.

SINCE the most fortunate circum­stance that ever befel you, next to the marriage with my father, ('twere necessary to say that I mean his death) I have been sitting down many times, to write to you; some­times in the ardour of an honest re­sentment, and sometimes, as a plead­ing, neglected child: but I have re­mained silent, even yet, an left you uncontrouled to the luxury of your [Page 83] good success, and of my anxieties. But your conscience now seems quite brought over to your side, and I can no longer suffer you to triumph, ei­ther in the benefit of my inheritance, or in the warm and wicked comforts of a wealthy widowhood—(oh! what a robe of mourning has yours been madam) without trying upon you, the force of truth, and remonstrance: — without exerting one desperate experiment upon a heart, which ha­bit and nature seem impregnantly to have fortified (as if it were the citadel of cruelty) against all the artillery of the parent, and of the woman!

[Page 84]The artifice and complottings, by which my destruction has been effected, are not unknown to me— How is it, Mrs. P. that you are able to reconcile to yourself, at the fore­boding age of sixty-three, actions, of a colour so atrocious, that the penitence of your youth upwards were scarce sufficient to wipe away? by what casuistry have you pacified every private monition; and how skilful must have been that sophistry, by the magic of which, you are ca­pable of sitting composed, at the head of a table, which you have stolen from your child? but why do I interrogate? 'tis a maxim in mo­rality, that a bad woman has no limit to her crimes. You are gone [Page 85] too far to recede; and I have no hope that you will mend in the progres­sion, but expect that you must ga­ther guilt, as you go onward to the grave, till it shall be the pleasure of providence (in mercy to me and mankind) to confine you there.

You accuse me to your acquaint­ance, of wildness, and profusion! 'Tis the wretched, pitiful, pretence of guilt, of private guilt, labouring for a public apology! To lay some error to my charge, was necessary to save you from the assaults of your sex; to palliate a conduct like your's, it was indespensible, to alledge some­thing against me; since, to have tormented a child in such a manner, [Page 86] without some shadow of occasion, would have argued a temper too monstrous to have been ranked among women; and the very boys would, in mere vengeance, have stoned the inhuman mother. But de­pend upon it, the sick pillow, will be to you a pillow of plagues: your bed, a bed of torture; and every feather there, will prove a thorn to torment you! Is this the language of lunacy? is it the violence of phrenzy? No, madam: faithful to the injuries of its master, this vin­dictive hand has hitherto confined itself to sentiments of the most frigid moderation. From this moment, I cut you away from the insulted sen­sibilities of affection: when nature dis­cards [Page 87] you, what claim can you have upon the heart of a son? and yet, do not think, I mean to forget you so far as to leave you to yourself. Believe me, madam, the day of such voluptuousness is past; and although you have robbed me of every right which should at least have divided with you the comforts of the world, I will henceforward take care, that you shall no more enjoy them, with­out the heaviest tax of indignant re­probation.

Your argument with my poor father was always in the same style: "I should spend his fortune." With what parental piety have you pro­vided against this! but even grant­ing [Page 88] it had been so: had I not on my side the claims of nature and of blood? and what were your claims, madam? The claims of a gay, needy woman, who after having been long setting in vain, the matrimonial trap, caught in it, at last, a gentleman of property: and, by these ingenious measures, rose from the indigence of your widowhood, to the dignity of a wife, and, by surviving the second husband—en­joyed widowhood again with all its most favourable perquisites. Con­sider your shattered fortunes, at the time of your matriculation into my father's family. Did you bring six-pence into that family, which you have thus iniquitously plundered? are you not scorned by the very peo­ple, [Page 89] whom the maxims of sordid courtesy oblige to receive the hated guest into company? nay, have not many of these openly discovered their indignation? has not your brother, the good Mr. S —, of­ten spoke warmly and disdainfully against the cruelties, which, at once mark and stain the character of sister and of christian? has not your usage to the unhappy writer of this letter, even in the soft moment of unoffending infancy, been the re­monstrance of the rich, and the pro­verb of the poor? did not your inhu­manity "grow with my growth, and strengthen with my strength," till I was three times compelled to find re­source from the unkindness of a mo­ther, [Page 90] in the wanderings of the world, and in getting a meal in whatever part of that world I could obtain it? is there a pang, a sorrow, a disaster, or an agony, which, either your arti­fice, or open malignancy, has not inflicted upon me? have you not been the topic and the ridicule of the very man — Mr. W —, whom you ordered to exert the ty­ranny of the rod over me, at an age, when the birch ought to have been retorted on his own posteriors? did not this very man, I say, point at you from the public pulpit in the the presence of the Deity; and did not your conscience take alarm, till it extorted from you a paltry half crown, almost the largest liberality, I [Page 91] ever had from you? have I not stated facts? have I stated more? I appeal to an indignant county; I appeal to a large, attesting, congre­gation; was it not also amongst your schemes, to ship me away for the torrid terrors of Senegal? and was not the very captain—a sea captain, madam, who had passed his life on the rugged bosom of the ocean—too tender, to acquiesce in a stratagem, at which (though a woman projected it) the pity of a panther, and the bowels of a bear, might have re­volted?

You often say in your conversa­tion, that "I have lost my character:" oh! hard of heart! I have so: thanks [Page 92] to my own mother. I have not only lost that, but my health, happiness, and patrimony! The latter of which you now riot in. What a pity, that you are in the wane! what a pity, that there should be one, who must soon plunder the plunderer! what a pity, that death must in a very few years, defraud the defrauder? these, however, I know, are thoughts, you pretend to indulge; you are among those magnanimous characters, that, with Roman fortitude, can bear pain, combat inconvenience, and smile at dissolution: this kind of stoicism I have heard you boast; and it must be confessed, you are, when in perfect health, a notable heroine. How well you can support poverty with a full [Page 93] purse! how much more independant and stationary you are, than your wicked Son: with a well furnish'd house, and affluent income at com­mand? my house, madam; my for­tune! but pray enjoy them: by the laws of Rapine, they are yours. I can earn the bread of fatigue, while yours is already provided (by your own impiety provided) and much good may such provision do you!

You are, I find, as you ever was, seconded by that infamous attorney, Mr. J.—, and I dare say you have made your story good, among such of your friends, as live at a distance from the great scene of your strata­gems: with them, you are, alas! [Page 94] the best, but most unfortunate of pa­rents; a desolate widow-woman, for­sooth, who equally mourns, the loss of her lord, and the wanderings of her child! Oh! force of feminine fraud! execrable, execrable delusion! where, where, madam, must I look for a parallel to you? not in man, surely; not in any one of your own sex, I hope, to heaven! for the Countess of Macclesfield herself, whose in­famy, you know, is published, was merciful and maternal to you. I fear we must quit the bounds of this world, in search of the simile, and, descending into another, find your resemblance, in the father of finesse. It is recorded, you know, madam, of him, and of him only, [Page 95] that he could for his purposes, as­sume all shapes and characters; "make the worse, appear the bet­ter cause," and sometimes rose even a minister of light to determine pre­cisely, whether he was in reality, an angel, or a fiend. There is, however, a uniformity in your cha­racter, not unworthy of you: to be complete in crime, is at least, more ingenious, than a half-witted, bungling villainy. You are above being content with your mere vic­tory, in the Court of Chancery; and as the magistrate did not take care to compel you to preserve, my poor pittance in reversion, after you are gone to account, you seem resolved to delay the sale of the [Page 96] estate; and had rather, I perceive, pay away all the hopes I have in the world, in the interest of cre­ditor's demands, than deposit the annuity in the funds; lest, it might be possible for your persecu­tion to die with yourself. But you are determined, I find, to be con­sistent; and are, therefore, taking the only measures, which will en­able your barbarity to survive the grave.

My exhausted paper warns me to quit you for the present; and I shall leave you, madam, to sup "with what appetite you may," though I am confident your relish to it would be keener, were you to [Page 97] know that I have no supper to enjoy. In this important particular, how­ever, I must disappoint you. My senses are still sufficient to the pur­poses of common life, even though liberty is taken from me. I have frequently heard you wish, that I could neither read nor write. Pre­resolved as you were, to drive me to a dependance on the efforts of writ­ing and reading, I see nothing pre­posterous in the wish. I sup­pose then, it would give the total finish to your exultation, if it should please the omnipotent to touch the brain. The loss of my senses would, indeed, be joy to you; and I know not whether your heart would not open wide enough to purchase for [Page 98] me the bells, the whip, and strait waistcoat, could you at the same time purchase the delirium, which would make such dreadful furniture necessary. But, perhaps, this may never be crouded into the catologue of my calamities: he, who feedeth the ravens, rewards, at least with bread, the efforts of an injured child. Providence will protect those, whom the parent has neglected: when the thoughtless ostrich leaves her egg under the sand, it is rescued from the violence of the wave, and is called into being, by the sun beam. The allusion is striking, madam. May God give you (though late in life) a soul to feel it. Farewell; I will write again soon. Your.

CHARLES.
[Page 99]

P. S. I find, I am to enroll among the catalogue of your maternal in­dulgencies, my present confinement in the place from which this letter is dated. Had not this last stroke of barbarity been added to the rest, I had not even now taken up the re­taliating pen: but I have been too long passive—you triumph in the se­verity with which I meet the attacks of calamity, and you have at length extorted from me a reply.

LETTER LXXXIV. Mrs. P. to CHARLES.

YOU have written a very long letter, to a very short purpose, since it only induces me to exhaust a very few sentences upon you, in or­der to shew, with what a sincerity I despise you. Let them laugh, who win: let those who lose, rave: I have got the estate, and see no reason why I should interrupt the composure and luxury it produces, by putting myself in a passion.

I am, the victorious, E. P.

LETTER LXXXV. CHARLES to Mrs. P.

I THANK you, madam, for this last blow at my sensibility. May it be as effectual as you could pos­sibly wish it! and may the hand that hath smitten, have no future oppor­tunity to be uplifted, against the bleeding heart of

CHARLES.

LETTER LXXXVI. CHARLOTTE to H. T. ESQ;

OH! God of heaven, Mr. Tem­pleton, what am I to do now? All that I felt before, was lenity to the misery in which I am at this minute involved. Poor Charles is in a prison, without money, without health, without a friend! He has sent a letter to Mr. Melbank, and another to me, disguising his situa­tion, and advising me to accept the hand of some other man, whom he [...]s given to understand has addressed me. It was from Cleora, that I [Page 103] learned his calamity, and that it is occasioned by the malice, and unna­tural schemes of the restless Mrs. P. his mother. I have not seen Dr. Melbank since I received this killing intelligence; and when I do see him, there is a certain circumstance which makes it highly improper, that I should apply to him, of all the men in the world, for relief. How, Mr. Templeton, how dreadfully is this excellent youth reduced? what a soul must he possess to write such generous letters at a crisis so de­plorable? Perhaps he has had a re­turn of his fever—perhaps—indeed, sir, I am almost distracted. I dare not go to him, nor can I stay away from him. Oh! these cruel debts, [Page 104] that are pulling perpetually at his heart-strings! Oh, sir, what step can I possibly take! Almighty God direct me!

CHARLOTTE.

LETTER LXXXVII. From the same to the same.

TO what accumulated indigni­ties, does the want of a for­tune expose me? Soon after I had sealed my last letter to you, I hurried on my things, and walked out into the Park, to meditate on the steps I should take in this dilemma. I had not gone more than half the length [Page 105] of the place, before a gentleman ac­costed me by my name, and enquired into the cause of that uneasiness, which was but too apparent. In the disorder of my heart, I told him the whole story: I soon recollected in this gentleman, one of the many who caressed Charles for his brilliant sense; and, as he had lately come to ample fortunes, I began to hope I had met the person who would assist in the necessary business. The debt, said I, is but an hundred gui­neas: what say you? will you conde­cend to serve a good man, whom you admire? will you exalt yourself by en­tering a place of confinement? if so, go to him: conceal from him by what means you heard of his mis­fortune, [Page 106] and may the power that sees the generosity, reward it.

He pencil'd down my address, in order, as he said, to acquaint me what he had done, took me kindly by the hand, and bidding me be more chearful, left me. How happy was I, to see him walk briskly down the park! and, when out of sight, I was ready to drop upon my knee in gratitude to the God, who raised up to my poor Charles, so able and so amiable a protector.

I chearfully went home; where I had not arrived half an hour, before a servant, in a livery I recollected, brought me the following card. Oh! [Page 107] Mr. Templeton, why should I be thus insulted? yet, never tell Charles of it, if you have the least regard to the most uphappy

CHARLOTTE.

To CHARLOTTE.

YOU want an hundred guineas to serve your friend. I in­close you an hundred and fifty pounds. As it may not always be convenient for a lady to pay one way, she has, luckily for her, the choice of pay­ing it another. Let Charles remain where he is at present—compliment me with the use of his pillow for [Page 108] this evening, and let the inclosed, pay for my lodging, with which, you may take him out to-morrow. I trust to your honour.

To— From CHARLOTTE.

WITHOUT pretending to any virtue, I may be allowed at least, pride enough to tell you, that you are too contemptible a being to be made an object of Charles's resentment; and, therefore, you have the satisfaction of playing the pol­troon with impunity. Your bribe I re-inclose, safely sealed up. May [Page 109] Charles's misfortunes never sink him so low, as to receive redress from the hand of infamy: he is a nobler ob­ject in his prison, than it is ever pos­sible such a wretch as you should be in a palace.

CHARLOTTE.

LETTER LXXXVIII. CHARLOTTE to H. T. ESQ;

I HAVE not yet either heard from, or seen Dr. Melbank; and the inflexible Charles ceases to cor­respond. Though personally divided from this worthy man, I must even [Page 110] consider myself as his nearest and dearest friend. What then must I suffer, to see myself unable to do the least service for him, in the greatest exigence. I have been to five of those men, who advertise to lend money on annuities: my poor pittance is so strangely bequeath'd, that I cannot possibly dispose of it. I fully know your circumscribed situation; I have sent every thing of value I could possibly collect to be pledged, and the utmost I can raise is fifty-two pounds. Cleora refuses to tell me the name and address of the creditor, or else, I might, per­haps, compromise the debt — oh! heavens, Mr. Templeton, I am this moment struck with a thought which [Page 111] may prove propitious. I will put it instantly in practice.

Adieu. CHARLOTTE.

LETTER LXXXIX. CHARLOTTE to CLEORA.

MADAM,

MONEY, which Charles lent, is very unexpectedly paid into my hands by the borrower, and I inclose a note to the amount of it. Charles's present situation may per­haps be greatly alleviated by so [Page 112] trifling a sum as fifty pounds; at least he will be glad to find, one of the many people he has obliged, turns out grateful: but, I am persuaded, he would receive this supply with double pleasure at the hand of Cleora. There are certain disguises which are really virtuous, upon account of their motives: ah! that I could prevail upon Cleora to pay Charles an im­mediate visit, and offer him the fifty pounds, as so much raised upon her by the security of her marriage settle­ment: in such a delusion there could be no criminality; for he does not yet look for the payment: at the same time, it might have such an affect upon Charles's heart, that a perfect reconciliation might be the [Page 113] consequence. Let this be as it will, I seal up the sum, and leave the me­thod of conveyance to your direc­tion.

I am, MADAM, Your obedient servant, CHARLOTTE.

LETTER XC. CHARLOTTE to CHARLES. (After Cleora declined to send the money from motives of not inter­fering.)

CRUEL as you are with your concealments, I have heard of your misfortune. In prosperity, [Page 114] Charles, I could forgive you for deserting me, but to drop my cor­respendence in your distress—how could you be so inhuman?—Though I flatter myself you are still a lover of justice, and, if so, you will not scruple to receive what accompanies this letter, which is at present of no service to me, and may be of some to you. You will recollect, Charles, that I did not refuse your address, on a similar subject, and I have, therefore, a right to expect you will not refuse mine. —Ah! Charles, do not at such a time reject my friendship:—do not despise and cast off my attentions, when they ought to be ten times doubled. Re­member what I say to you, and fare­well,

CHARLOTTE.

LETTER XCI. CHARLES to CHARLOTTE.

OH! my dear, dear friend, I am oppressed—I labour— I am bowed to the very earth with with the weight of various obliga­tions—I am almost ready to execrate the destiny that makes it necessary for for me to receive them—had my hard-hearted mother permitted my father to follow the feelings, which nature generally annexes to the pa­ternal character, I had then been able to confer benefits, instead of receiving them. I might then have sought out merit, diffidence, and undistinguished [Page 116] virtue, from the barren vale of obscu­rity. Instead of which, I am con­demned to be myself the object of benevolence:—how, madam,—how is a soul like mine to support the bur­den of perpetual favours? that they are delicately bestowed, is an aggrava­tion. I feel them, Charlotte—I am conscious of them, and they enter into my soul.

This is the preamble to a trans­action, of which I ought, perhaps, to blush. I am at liberty—I am free—my debt is wholly discharged —your letter was delivered to me on the outside of the prison door — I was just stepping into the coach that carried me to my old apart­emnts; [Page 117] —my protector was leaning upon my arm.

Ah! Charlotte—such a friend— Whom do you think capable of such things? to whom is Charles in­debted for his liberty? it is not to be conjectured — Know then that he who so lately saved my life by his skill, hath now saved my freedom by his generosity—Let the name of Melbank be carried upon the rosy wing of gratitude, to the heaven of heavens. I fold up his letter upon the subject: give it your tears, Char­lotte — give the author of it your adoration—but pity, I charge you to pity, the insignificance of

CHARLES.

LETTER XCII. Dr. MELBANK's letter to CHARLES.

A FRIEND of mine, of the tribe of Israel, has offered to lend you a sum of five hundred pounds upon the reversion. He has been with me this morning, and upon terms, (moderate enough for a Jew) agrees to furnish the money. As this kind of brokerage business is generally kept a secret, I think you had better not mention it to any un­concerned person: by which means the matter may be privately ma­naged, and nobody the wiser.

Adieu. E. MELBANK.

LETTER XCIII. CHARLES to CHARLOTTE.

THE matter of raising money on my reversion is all finesse. It is all a trick of the unparalelled Melbank's, who wanted to deceive me into a notion, that I was making use of my own property. I wish to heaven we could all meet over a dish of tea, and that you would both give me an opportunity to prostrate my­self in the presence of each other. Let me deliver your bank-bill with my own hand—

Adieu, CHARLES.

LETTER XCIV. CHARLOTTE to CHARLES.

MELBANK, is too great for the compliment of com­mon language. He dines with me to-morrow—are you disengaged—? dare you trust your heart—? Dr. Melbank says there is no fear —The dinner will be ready at three o'clock.

CHARLOTTE.

LETTER XCV. CHARLES to CHARLOTTE.

I AM to be trusted—Love yields the laurel to gratitude.

CHARLES.

LETTER XCVI. CHARLOTTE to Dr. MELBANK.

I HAVE written the invitation you desired, with a trembling hand.—He will come!

'Tis within a few hours of the ap­pointment.— The clock is now striking twelve: every stroke vibrates on my heart—every stroke is more than a second nearer to the time. Gracious God! Cleora is this minute passing by my window—she kisses her hand in compliment—I have [Page 122] not the courage to call her up.—She goes on.—She is out of sight.

I will this instant forbid him.— He shall not, Dr. Melbank—he must not come.—I am feelingly per­suaded of the consequences, and I— must—prevent them.

Adieu.

To the same, in continuation.

I CANNOT turn the apology to my mind.—I have written, and blotted, and rejected, three dif­ferent cards — I shall be too ab­rupt—I wish you were with me, [Page 123] that my excuses might be delicate.— Heavens, Sir, it is past one.—I will forbid him at once.—And yet—Dr. Melbank—as he is so very calm—as he can view me with the moderation of friendship—as we shall talk upon ordinary subjects—methinks—per­haps — I should suppose —oh, what shall I do—let me dispatch this letter to you, and let your immediate answer direct

CHARLOTTE.

LETTER XCVII. Dr. MELBANK to CHARLOTTE.

I AM not very well, and yet I will be with you in ten minutes. You have nothing to apprehend: all will be as it should be.

E. MELBANK.

LETTER XCVIII. CHARLES to CHARLOTTE.

SOMETHING has hap­pened, that prevents me the pleasure of dining with you; I am, therefore, obliged to send that in a letter, which I at first designed to deliver personally. I expect the favor of a visit from Dr. Melbank in the evening.

Adieu. CHARLES.

LETTER XCIX. H. T. Esq to CHARLES. (Received before the above letter was sent.)

AFTER having congratu­lated you on the recovery of your liberty, and on the acquisition of Dr. M—'s friendship, I must inform you, that you are more o­bliged to that gentleman, than you can at present imagine. It is a duty I owe both to him and to you, to in­form you of what I know concerning the matter. Dr. Melbank, Charles, [Page 127] is the very man, who applied to me on the subject of Charlotte's mar­riage—Dr. Melbank it is, who would lay himself, and his fortunes at her feet, before the altar: he it is, who can stifle his own passion, in pity to yours: he it is, who can serve the man that stands in the way of his tenderest wishes.

Now, Charles — now is your time.—Are you equal to an exalted action?—have you an ambition that scorns to be vanquished?—can you really practise the precepts, and the sentiments, expressed in the letter you desired me to deliver to the gentleman who courted Charlotte upon terms of honour? if you can do all these [Page 128] great things, this is the critical mo­ment: this is the golden opportu­nity.—You know what would exalt your character — you know what will sink the scale of obligations, disagreeable to the dignity of Charles's ambition. Conscious of your vir­tue, I will never speak or write another line on the affair, but will leave the noble heart to its natural operations.

H. T.

LETTER C. Dr. MELBANK to CHARLES.

DEAR CHARLES.

IN compliance with your whim, we have dined without you; but our tea will want its social flavour, and be totally insipid, if not inspirited by your company. The kettle is boiling with expectation.

E. MELBANK.

LETTER CI. CHARLES to CHARLOTTE.

WHY, why did you suffer me to see you—why, after I had sent an apology, did you throw the temptation a second time in my way?—I saw you at the tea-table— you trembled as I came into the room!—what a vermilion covered your face!—by what a death-like paleness was it succeeded—how un­lucky was Melbank's departure!— how fatal the illness that occasioned it!—Why were we left alone?— why, after such an absence, were [Page 131] we permitted to be in the same cham­ber together? You were cruel enough not to draw away your hand as I took it—your resistance, was a more than half invitation—I carried it to the bosom, against which the heart was violently beating, and you did but faintly frown — the arm that I clasped round your neck, brought me within reach of your lips, and in­stead of throwing me away from the pressure, you permitted me to kiss them twice. Had not I at that mo­ment brought Templeton's letter out of my pocket — what might have been the consequence? I bow re­verently to the guardian Deity that saved us both.

[Page 132]Charlotte, we must meet no more— I give you to the only man in the world that deserves you. You say, he cannot speak upon the subject.— No matter for that—His delicacy should emulate ours. Every princi­ple that ought to actuate man and woman, demands that we should make the sacrifice to his happiness, mutually. He loves you unbound­edly.—His honour only, can exceed his passion.—He has thrown our ge­nerosity beyond all distance. There is but one way upon earth to get again within sight of him. Severe, I perceive, will be the martyrdom on both sides.—Ah, Charlotte, we have deceived ourselves.—Our affection is [Page 133] more tenderly animated than it ever was—it was in yesterday's interview more palpable, than at any former period?—it glowed in our cheeks— it shone in our eyes—it streamed in our tears—it panted in our hearts— what of that?—the duty is propor­tioned to the danger: were we ten times dearer—if alas! that were pos­sible, I am perfectly satisfied, we ought to submit. Who saved the life of Charles, but Melbank? who brought him by the hand out of a prison, but Melbank? what does he require in exchange for all this? he requires nothing: but, if circum­stances favoured, he would make Charlotte the wife of his heart, his hand, and his fortune—what bene­fits [Page 134] would result from that connec­tion? all that we ought to desire: the felicity of the noblest character of God —an honest man; with riches, splendor, fashion, elegance in the train. You cannot love him—admit it: he cannot expect it at present. But still, you esteem, you venerate, you admire. His passion preys upon his health—I see it in his sudden pale­ness—I see it in his counterfeited spirits—I am so abundantly obliged, Charlotte, that I shall die—I shall die with confusion, if I am not by some means able to make a return. One great opportunity courts me. I can yield to him the object of my adoration—I can yield her in the bloom of beauty—in the warmest [Page 135] ardours of my affection. Yes, Char­lotte, I can, in this case resign you, though I were to expire in the effort. God knows how my heart will bear it, but Charlotte—I will bear it, and have even still intrepidity enough to bid you imitate

CHARLES.

LETTER CII. From the same to H. T. Esq

WERE I not fully resolved to do justice to the advice of of your letter, I should want the courage to answer it. But, cost what it will, you may depend upon the gratitude of

CHARLES.

LETTER CIII. CHARLOTTE to CHARLES.

I AM a very wretched woman, Charles, and know not to what fate I am reserved! never sure, was any one in so intricate an embarrass­ment. Upon one condition, how­ever, I will make the sacrifice you desire, even though the loss of my senses should ensue. Ah! my friend, what an [...]gonizing trial do you put me to! still I repeat it to you, if Charles will make one great offering to generosity, another shall imme­diately be made by

CHARLOTTE.

LETTER CIV. CHARLES to CHARLOTTE.

SENSIBLY touched as I now am, there can be no condition with which I shall not acquiesce, to to promote the honour of Charlotte, and the happiness of Mr. Melbank, who manifestly avoids me, lest his tenderness for you, and friendship for me, should betray him into an explanation. Make your own terms: they shall be adopted by

CHARLES.

LETTER CV. CHARLOTTE to CHARLES.

GIVE your hand to her, who has lawfully a right to it, and I will present mine to Mr. Melbank when he solicits it.

CHARLOTTE.

LETTER CVI. CHARLES to CHARLOTTE.

CAN nothing less than such a circumstance satisfy you? how­ever, to shew you how far I can go to perform what is dictated by conscience, I comply.

CHARLES.

LETTER CVII. CHARLES to CLEORA.

SUPPOSING all past actions obliviated, have you any parti­ality for

CHARLES.

LETTER CVIII. CLEORA to CHARLES.

I THANK you, sir, more for the hundred pounds you desired Dr. Melbank to pay me, than for the offer of your hand, which for many delicate reasons, is not acceptable to

CLEORA.

LETTER CIX. Dr. MELBANK to H. T. Esq

YES, Mr. Templeton, I will go through what I have begun, or perish in the attempt.—I am not, however, boaster enough, to pretend that my heart is serene. Oh, Sir, it is torn almost to pieces. I feel my affection for Charlotte, and my admi­ration for Charles, increase upon me every hour. I have seen them both together, in the same room, and the struggles they had, to conceal their agitation from a third person, broke [Page 141] through all disguises.—Never did I be­hold such a scene—I could not support it, but withdrew, and left the lovers to themselves. Wretched as I am, I deplore the misfortune that keeps them asunder, and, though it may sound like romance, I would do much to promote their happiness. Nay, I will do every thing within my power. 'Tis, in my opinion, a base action to divide them—should Charlotte even yield to my proposals, upon a re-appli­cation of them, what would be the con­sequence? I should possess a woman's hand without all her heart. I should greatly add to the miseries of a man, already too much opressed.—I cannot bear the thought—I shudder at it, Mr. Templeton. No, Sir,—let me not [Page 142] take an undue advantage of the cala­mity that called me into the fa­mily. — It cannot be —I foresee the horrors it will heap upon two pre-possessed hearts.—They labour at in­difference, and they discover attach­ment.—I will avoid both.—Some would smile at a man, on the wrong side of thirty, being thus conquered, by a tenderness, they would pardon only in eighteen. But frigid tem­pers, are no proper judges of more soft and pathetic constitutions.— That I do love Charlotte, is, alas, too fatally true! but my affection shall not seduce me into a meanness, un­worthy of

E. MELBANK.

LETTER CX. CHARLES to Dr. MELBANK.

VERY long, and very anxi­ously, have I waited for you: I want to consult you upon a point, not to be trusted to paper, or the post— but, what will, I know, weigh more with you than all the rest. I want to lay myself under another obliga­tion to you.

CHARLES.

LETTER CXI. The same to the same.

I AM sorry to inform you, dear Dr. Melbank, the wound in my breast is broke out again, and de­mands your immediate assistance.

CHARLES.

LETTER CXII. Dr. MELBANK to CHARLES.

TOO generous, too amiable, Charles, how could you in­vent a stratagem, that you knew I could not suspect, or resist yielding to, in order to betray me into the interview, I had, with so cautious an officiousness, avoided. 'Twas a virtue that verged upon barbarity. Every one of your arguments, how­ever, convince me, that I ought not to proceed—Charlotte, you say, will make me happy—she will conci­liate the general joy, by submitting [Page 145] to my wishes. How, Charles, can that be called a general joy, which would produce general infelicity?— she would submit—it may be so—the more angel she — But who could, under such circumstances, be base enough to suffer the submission? it can never be. I see my duty, and cannot suffer even the most eloquent passion—not the persua­sive, all-subduing voice of love— to lead me from it.

I will give my young man proper instructions as to your wound,

and am, your's, E. MELBANK.

LETTER CXIII. CHARLOTTE to CHARLES.

HOW much am I restored to my serenity, by the receipt of a letter, which I inclose, from the noble-minded Dr. Melbank. With regard to Cleora's refusal of your hand, I have only to ob­serve, that I have done my duty, and you have done yours: let that, my dear friend, be a great sa­tisfaction to us both. The worst is past; Dr. Melbank is satisfied— Cleora is supplied with money— Charles is at liberty, and Charlotte will soon acquire sufficient serenity to write to him — but you shall no longer be detained from the letter which has put me in spirits—

CHARLOTTE.

LETTER CXIV. Dr. MELBANK to CHARLOTTE. (Inclosed to Charles.)

IF you can forgive me for having tried, by a splendid proposal, to wean you from the affection you bear, and ever ought to bear to Charles, I may still expect your friendship, though I tell you that I would not now marry you for the uniting Indies; you have given my heart some pangs, and I have richly deserved them; for I should have held sacred the friendship betwixt you and Charles.—In my [Page 148] more serious opinion, formed as it now is, on deliberation, I think you should not go to the altar with a mo­narch. The scenes, which I find you have both been engaged in, must have established a tenderness not to be conquered. If fortune ever fa­vours, you will sanctify your mutual passion, by a public testimony: if it should not, I can scarce think either of you at liberty, conscientiously speaking, to enter into other engage­ments. I am leaving London for some weeks, but at my return I shall certainly enquire after the amiable correspondents. Mean time,

I am your most obedient servant, E. MELBANK.

LETTER CXV. CHARLES to CHARLOTTE.

MELBANK, is like one of those glorious phoenomena which awes us weaker, and more imperfect mortals, into silence. He reaches the resolution of Charlotte, and throws out of sight the fortitude and dignity of Charles. As the poet therefore says of the deity, I say of Dr. Melbank.

I lose
Myself, in him!
Come then, expressive silence! muse his praise.

[Page 150]He is too great to talk about; let us content ourselves with thinking of him.

I find Charlotte, we must not in­dulge ourselves in any more inter­views—they are treacherous—they betray us. Let us endeavour to be contented with our usual pleasures of corresponding: let us follow strictly the advice of our friend. I am weak enough to confess to you, that I am more rejoiced at Dr. M—'s noble conquest over himself, than at any thing I ever felt since my existence. Had he married you—had he doubled my obstacles—had he taken you for ever from me—or had the cruel cer­tainty [Page 151] of your being wife to another attended me—God knows, how I should have supported it.

All his generosity—even though he had thrown his whole fortune into my lap—would have shrunk before me; and such is the inconsistence of a tender heart —although I was my­self the proposer and promoter of the union, had it been carried into exe­cution, I believe I should have hated him, and hang'd myself. But as it is, I could build churches, and erect monuments to his memory: he has saved me from desperation: he has made me able to bear Charlotte's ab­sence. While I know that she is not connected with another, I can bear to [Page 152] live without her society. I am happy to hear constantly that she is well, that she attends to her intellectual im­provements—that she will often read my letters, and employ herself in the innocent task of writing answers. All these things were, I own, very lately, considered as too little—but adversity brings us to a proper sense of rational blessings; and the prospect of ever­lastingly losing the tenderness of Char­lotte, has made me satisfied with that, which at present ought to satisfy me. My situation indeed, appears, upon reflection, to be much more support­able, than I at first imagined! how much severer might it have been rendered, by either your marriage or your death! let me endeavour to [Page 153] procure comfort from comparison. We are both happier than thousands —I have at this minute an instance in my eye to justify this, and, as I am sure it will serve to make us both more reconciled, I will, in my next letter, communicate it to you,

Adieu, CHARLES.

LETTER CXVI. From the same to the same.

WHILE I was at the house of the sheriffs officer, Charlotte, an adventure struck me so forcibly that it would be barbarous to refuse [Page 154] (to so tender a heart as your's) the recital of it; especially as it will shew you, that there are agonies in life, compared to which, ours are transient and trifling. In mourning our own calamities and disappoint­ments, let us not too selfishly forget the calamity of others; but where (as in the following case) we see wretched­ness exceeding our own, let us re­member, that, not to be the most miserable, is at least one source of contentment; and instead of mur­muring, we ought to sympathize.

Soon after I was arrested by Mr. Trap, and conveyed to his house, I beheld a young man sitting in a very pensive posture, resting his cheek up­on [Page 155] one hand, and holding a pen in the other. He was not at all dis­concerted at my being brought in, but smothered the sighs as well as he was able, and began to write. "There's more stuff in the office, master, said a fellow that now en­tered the room—there's two or three more of the roe and doe family come to visit you—it is a sad thing to be sure, but, howsomdever, you shall not go over the water to-night; you are every inch a Gemmun, I will say that, and you spend your money like a prince. No, no, God forbid I should carry any Gemmun out of my house while he behaves as such; so sit still, for you shan't go to jail till to-morrow."

[Page 156]Upon this Charlotte, the poor young man looked up, discovered his eyes swimming in tears, drew a handkerchief out of his pocket, and put it over his face.

Having a little recovered himself, he took up the pen again, and just as he was applying it to the paper, his features assumed something of consolation: but this again, was pre­sently dashed by the appearance of the bailiff's wife, although, to do her justice, she was a very obliging woman.

There are some messages, you know, so displeasing in their own nature, or at least rendered [Page 157] so by the peculiar circumstances which introduce them, that they would seem disgusting, though they were to be delivered by the lips of the graces.

Mrs. Trap therefore, was as gra­cious as it is possible for any one to be, who presents a bill that requires to be discharged on the spot. Her harangue was to the following ef­fect.

She was very sorry to trouble him, but it was a rule. It made all things, on all sides easy:—scores, were scores; short reckonings made long friend­ships—gentlemen were here to-day, and gone to-morrow; and therefore [Page 158] she hoped he would not be offended at the customs of the house.

Here, Charlotte, the prisoner took his hand from his pocket, from whence flew one solitary guinea, and he protested to God, that if the fifti­eth part of that sum more, would purchase him a passport to paradise, he could not raise it.

I was, soon after this declaration, left alone with my fellow prisoner, who, still preserving an air of dejec­tion, addressed me, as you will find it recited in my next letter.

Adieu, CHARLES.

LETTER CXVII. From the same to the same.

WHY should you despair, sir, said I? because, replied Mr. Reynolds, my condition is on all sides desperate: besides that I have no money, I have no friends to procure it, nor any means or health to ac­quire it by: you, sir, are, no doubt, brought here by some misfortune, but God forbid you should match in misery the most unhappy man that is now speaking.

[Page 160]Poor as I was Charlotte, and des­titute both of fortune and happiness, I put my hand into my purse, which being perceived by Reynolds, he waved his hand in token of disappro­bation, and, with swimming eyes, ex­claimed, pray take your hand from your purse, sir—I beseech you to take it away—I am resign'd—I bow me to the burden of my fortunes—money cannot, you know, Sir, medicine to a mind diseased—not the fortune of the East collected, could restore me to my tranquility.

I beg, Mr. Reynolds, said I, that we may pass the remainder of our [Page 161] evening together without interrup­tion: as we are united by a similar misfortune let us make it a social one. My fate, like yours, is not to be al­leviated by money, yet let us, for this one night, live in the hope that the morning may bring comfort on her wings.

You are very polite, and propose what would be extremely agreeable, Sir, said Mr. Reynolds—but really— really—I—I—I—.

Here Charlotte, he began to re­examine, and shake his pockets.

Oh fie, fie Sir, said I.

[Page 162]I went out, and ordered (agree­ble to the slender state of my finan­ces, and with a prudent recollection of the charges of the house) a com­fortable supper. At my return, poor Mr. Reynolds was weeping over a letter, that, by the evidence of seve­ral places much worn, and a variety of foldings, appeared to have been the frequent subject of dear and soli­tary meditation. After he had read it, he pressed it to his heart, and kissed it; he looked steadily at me, and, think­ing the sentiments would speak best for themselves, put it into my hand, without uttering a syllable.

As I know, my lovely correspond­ent Charlotte, does not possess a heart [Page 163] like that invulnerable piece of rock which lies putrifying in the bosom of Mr. Timothy Trap; as I know, on the contrary, she can pity the sor­rows that even surpass her own, I will oblige her with a transcript of of the contents of the letter, which the prisoner trusted to my perusal.

(The inclosed Letter.) Written on a Death-bed.

Most dear JAMES,

I Want the spirit to write, what I have not the strength to speak. As I have persuaded you to leave my bed-side for a short time, I will em­ploy [Page 164] that interval, as well as I am able, in imparting to you some senti­ments that you ought to know.

Your late miseries, oh my dear James, went too near my heart, and the day that your furniture and even our bed was last seized, I had the rashness to take poison—a poison my husband, which, though very slow, is certain in its operations. My doctor has discovered the occasion of my ill­ness long ago, but in compliance with my intreaties, has hitherto concealed it from you.

How, James, can I sustain the sense of my guilt? instead of dying, I should have lived, on purpose to [Page 165] make your life supportable! in what a condition do I leave you. Oh my soul whither art thou going! Oh James — James — pity me save me —protect me from—fro — farewell—farewell I can no more.

LUCIA REYNOLDS.

I shed, my Charlotte, over this epistle, the tears of sensibility: it was written in a faint hand, the words scarce legible, and every syllable spoke the disorder of the unfortunate writer. When I returned it to Mr. Reynolds he kissed it as before, fold­ed it up as a miser would have folded a bank bill of a thousand pounds, surveyed it on all sides with the great­est [Page 166] tenderness, and then deposited it in a little box of ebony.

So heaven befriend me Sir, said he, as he put up the box, I would not part with this to be restored to all the fortune I had a right to inherit. No barbarous mother! no, inhuman parent, this you cannot take from me: of this inestimable relique you cannot rob me: this is a treasure your child can call his own, in defiance of all your artifices. I thank the great and good God, for the blessing—oh that I could find an honest man who would lay it upon my bosom when I enter the grave, for which I have long most pathetically petitioned.

[Page 167]Mr. Reynolds, said I, you see that friend now before, you, should I survive, and if not, I would recom­mend that office to a dear and faith­ful woman who would not neglect it.

I had scarce finished this promise, before Reynolds was upon his knees, and gave me, as he rose, with his hands clasping mine, such a look of acknowledgment, that I felt enter into my heart.

And is there then, said I, is there another Mrs. P.—and was there ever another Charlotte? did Mr. Reynolds call the one his wife, and and the other his mother? if so— you have still reason to be contented [Page 168] Mr. Reynolds: the blessed society of such a wife, is more than a balance for the curses, keen as they are, of such a mother.

Blessed society, returned Mr. Rey­nolds, yes, Sir, her's was a blessed society: horrible as was the death she died, the life she lived might atone even for the crime of self destruction. She was eleven years Sir by my side, during which time we were never in prosperity, and yet—such was the charm that mutually bound us—we threw adversity into despair—she was my wife upon earth—she is an angel in heaven. If you Sir have got the counterpart of her, do not talk of pains, or prisons, or penalties—if [Page 169] there is not something wrong in your heart—it must be happy.

Upon this, Charlotte, I ran over the heads of my history, at which even with the softness of a Desdemona, he wept particularly at such parts as re­lated to my mother's barbarity, and my Charlotte's kindness—(I did not men­tion Cleora by name) and, after I ‘He gave me for my pains a world of sighs’ had ended, he promised to reward me with a scene or two from his own disasterous volume.

[Page 170]But the recital of this must be re­served to a future opportunity. I am this instant summoned upon in­dispensible business. Pity Reynolds, and pray for

CHARLES.

LETTER CXXVII. Dr. MELBANK to H. T. Esq

TEN days have I taken to compose an agitated, and, I had almost said, infatuated mind. I have engaged myself with unusual assiduity in the business of my pro­fession—I have read—I have written —I have idled, I have toiled.— [Page 171] Alas, Mr. Templeton, I am ashamed at my progress, or rather at my hav­ing made no progress at all.

I am still a slave to my passions— this charming woman, pre-engaged as she is, still crouds on my imagi­nation—I have banished myself from her sight, and yet I see her: I have pretended an absence from town on purpose to avoid all formal commu­nication,—yet, notwithstanding all this, I blush to tell you, I am a very miserable man. My friends perceive the effect in my looks, without know­ing the cause—the cause I dare not mention, lest I deservedly become the object of ridicule. You have, dear Mr. Templeton, a gentle heart, [Page 172] and it is some pleasure to correspond with you: Charlotte passed the other morning by my door, as it is usual with her, in her way to the park, and she called to know of my servant (supposing me to be out of town) whether I was well, when she last heard from me, and when I was ex­pected to return. Happy was it for me that I had pre-instructed my ser­vant in case of enquiry. An inter­view at such a crisis, would have cer­tainly, destroyed all my better resolu­tions: and yet as she went from the door, as I was in the street parlour, I could not avoid going to the win­dow: the blinds favour'd me. I saw her depart—she was dress'd by the hand of Hebe, and, in my opinion, [Page 173] more beautiful than ever. I heard her sweet and tuneful voice leave her best compliments for Dr. Melbank: the sound thrilled my soul. I was strongly inclined to open the door that led to the entry where she stood. I got up—took hold of the door handle—drew it—set it on the jar— every word she uttered was more dis­tinct—"She cordially hoped I was quite well—should be exceedingly glad to see me upon my return to town—and desired her most affectio­nate compliments might be trans­mitted."

Oh Mr. Templeton, had she staid another minute, I should have dis­covered [Page 174] myself and my infirmity.

Adieu: Pray for the returning reason of your

E. MELBANK.

LETTER CXXVIII. Mrs. P.—to CLEORA.

CHARLES, I find, is out of pri­son, chiefly through the means of Charlotte, who has contrived to raise him up a friend in the extrava­gance of one Dr. Melbank. No doubt the woman buys this man's friendship, at a pretty dear rate: however, Charles is mean enough to [Page 175] accept of a favour by whatever means it is procured; and as you have no­thing to expect from his generosity, I would advise you to threaten him with putting some other of his credi­tors in pursuit of him; thus, perhaps, you may extort through fears, what yout cannot obtain through a sense of duty.

Your Mother, E. P.

LETTER CXXIX. The answer from Cleora.

I Can never adopt the measures you advise, to oppress Charles, it would only put it more out of his power to befriend me in point of money mat­ters. He gives me from time to time as much as his circumstances admit, though I am not sure, if the presents be not chiefly made at the instance of Charlotte. I perceive it is a vain endeavour to disunite them. They still love, and still correspond.

Your obedient servant, CLEORA.

LETTER CXXX. CHARLES to CHARLOTTE.

LONG as it is, I make no apo­logy, Charlotte, but expect many thanks for giving you, as related by himself,

The continuation of Mr. Reynolds's History.

I Will tell you only such other of my adventures Sir, as more im­mediately led me to my present situa­tion, and that I may not unnecessari­ly increase your melancholy, I will relate the story with as much life and [Page 178] humour—for I have been engaged in whimsical scenes—as my poor ex­hausted spirits will permit.

Mr. Reynold's sat down, and be­gan. The continuation of his nar­rative ran thus.

I shall begin this part of my his­tory at the day I obtained, after vari­ous delightful difficulties, the hand of my beloved Lucia, who, being only a farmer's daughter, was con­sidered by my mother (who can match your's for cruelty) as an intruder in the family, and therefore took every opportunity to insult her. This contemptuous treatment made us resolve to leave her house, and ra­ther [Page 179] earn our bread by daily labour, than be indebted for it to one who was constantly upbraiding us for the bounty. As I was not bred to any business, I was obliged to seek for such an employment, as depended rather on the application and ver­satility of genius, than any thing else. Having a well grounded classical education, and a sprightly vein for undetached compositions, I was ad­vised, by a young friend who knew the town, to apply to the booksellers, and endeavour to get a livelihood from the pursuits of the press; while my poor Lucia was to throw in her mite, by attending to the needle. With these views, and only three guineas and a half in our pockets, we [Page 180] left this cruel mother's house one evening pretty late, (taking advant­age of her absence from home) and set out to a neighbouring town, from whence we embarked in a waggon for London. Upon our arrival there, we called on our young metropolitan friend, who agreed the next morning to attend me to a printer of his ac­quaintance: we soon, through his assistance, produced a lodging, and, for the sake of literary convenience, it was in a small court, that led into Paternoster-row.

Upon going into the printer's shop the master surveyed me critically, and without any previous, or delicate ce­remony, asked (as soon as he under­stood [Page 181] my business—) what I could do? whether I had any specimens about me? whether I was a verse-man, or a prose-man? whether I had ever dab­bled, in those doings, or was only go­ing to throw my ink about the world?

My friend answered for me, that, I was a young man of genius who could turn my hand to any thing, that I would enter into immediate employ; and that my diligence might be de­pended on.

As authorship was thus early the necessary means of eating and drink­ing, it was not to be supposed I had much time to bestow upon the elegancies of composition; upon po­lishing [Page 182] my periods, arranging my arguments, or decorating my senti­ments: good, or good for nothing, so many pages were to produce so many pence, and therefore the main point was, to have the pen almost always in my hand, and scribble away, for the supplies of the day. Ge­nerally speaking, however, my task-masters, the booksellers, cut out my business, and told me what, and how much would be wanting that night.

If, as it is asserted, there be uni­versal charms in variety; never ought man to be more contented, or think himself more entertained than myself; for I have often wrote round the whole circle of the sciences in twenty [Page 183] four hours.—I purchased my break­fast by a page of politics—my din­ner by a sheet of biography—my tea by history—my supper by a poem on the pleasures of the spring, and my lodging (which I shifted nearly as often as my subjects, and much oftner than my linen) by divinity. The next day came into play for the morning, a slice of mathematics—for noon, a plate of translation, and for the even­ing, a dish of indexes. My employ­ers, sir, notwithstanding this labour of Hercules, made woeful complaints that my works did not sell, that they did not pay for paper and print—that I was not known: that unless I could get a popular writer to lend me his [Page 184] name, they must decrease the copy-money.

About this time poor Lucia's wardrobe began to decline, though her lovely face was ever dressed in smiles of congratulation, or in tears of sympathy—my own apparel began to be truly literary, and I recollected to have often seen one of my book­sellers, whose name was Meadowes, slide about his shop in the mornings, till after hair dressing time, in a green frock. We were both of a size, and I made formal proposals—this very frock Sir cost me a whole octavo vo­lume of sermons, which were printed the following month▪ under the tak­ing title of sermons, by a late right [Page 185] reverend prelate, warranted originals, and to be seen by the curious in his lordship's own hand writing. While I was labouring for the coat, I had no other wages till I had earned that, than what I could get by working after stated hours: and yet it was ab­solutely necessary for me and my wife to subsist in the interim: accord­ingly I sat up for two nights together, and wrote a large poem of the 1s. 6d. size, on conjugal tenderness, entitled the faithful pair. I hurried away with this the next morning to a new purchaser, who said if I would leave it ten days or a fortnight, he would give me his answer. This proposal, not suiting the situation of affairs at home, I went to a second dealer in [Page 186] these wares, who having looked at the title said, he had made an oath never to burn his fingers against the blaze of poetry any more; a third observed, that he would sell me a parcel of poems by the pound—and a fourth hinted, that if I would take the opposite side of the subject, and write in support of conjugal infidelity, he would treat with me.

Chagrined, wounded, desolate, and disgusted, I went into a pawnbroker's shop, and pledged a pocket-piece of silver, upon which—the value being four shillings—they lent me two and twenty pence; with this modicum I bought a few necessaries, and ran to offer them to the half-starved, but [Page 187] still uncomplaining Lucia. In her dear company I forgot every indig­nity, and every care, and we passed the whole evening over a mutton chop, and a pot of porter, with joy, content, and tenderness inexpres­sible.

The next morning, an hour before the time of going to work, I thought something agreeable might happen from trying the heart of Mr. Mea­dows; and setting myself seriously down to the task, while Lucia was asleep, I thus addressed the feel­ings of a Bookseller.

To Mr. MEADOWS, Bookseller, Paternoster-Row.

SIR,

MY wants are extreme: the opportunities of supplying them, are few. The greatest part of those wants have been brought about by misfortune: I have this day a bill coming due for house rent; or I should rather have said room-rent. Will you this once advance a single guinea, to prevent, the unhappy con­sequences.

I am your most grateful servant, I. R.
[Page 189]

Mr. Meadows returned by the bearer, this short and laconic re­ply.

To Mr. REYNOLDS.

SIR,

WERE your principles equal to your understanding, there might be some encouragement; but while I admire you for the one, common honesty requires that I should despise you for the other.

J. MEADOWS.

Upon the receipt of this audacious letter, I thought my reason would have left me. I threatened venge­ance [Page 190] on the barbarous writer. Oh Sir, hear the circumstances that at­tended it. I had many misfortunes, and many debts upon me. I dared not venture abroad till the shades of the night befriended me. I sold the la­bours of my pen to this fellow, on his own terms, and I had entrusted him with the knowledge of my abode that I might correct what are called the proof sheets, as they come from the press: the wretch knew at what an advantage he took me, and that he might say almost any thing with impunity. But, oh Sir, what villany could exceed his insult at such a time —by a fellow too with whom I had scrupulously fulfilled every engage­ment, and who knew not a syllable [Page 191] of me or of my affairs, but from the vague breath of partial or vulgar re­port.

I did not however, answer his im­pudent letter, but crushed it in my hand, and to prevent its being seen by the too cruel and sympathizing Lucia, threw it into the fire.

Disdaining to work any more in the service of Meadows, I sought out a new talk-master; I left the manage­ment of the remainder of the two and twenty pence to Lucia, and began my search. I at length made myself known to one, little celebrated, but very busy, and was directly to begin a new family bible, by a certain Dean [Page 192] and a society of clergymen—my new master had just dined, and as the cloth was removing, I suppose he saw me look somewhat wishingly. He was very much addicted to wit, and thus facetiously began to interrogate.

"What, I warrant me now, you eat as well as I—that is, begging your pardon, you would if you could! ten to one but you drink too—eh? what a pity it is you scribere-cum-dasho gen­try should be pestered with those plaguy passions, and hankerings after meat, drink and cloathing. Zounds! if I was an author— I would live like the * camel on my own idearers. Oh d—m—e you [Page 193] you a'n't half an author yet—well, come, since thee hast such curses upon thee, thee canst not help 'em—so, here, Susan, Susan, (he went to the door of the kitchen stairs) bring up the beef bones, here's one of my authors a hungry, as usual—bring up also Susan, the suety pudding that was too little boiled a sunday, and the broth that your mistress said tast­ed of the copper, and all the bits of broken bread that you can find, and make haste. Damme master author, I am better than a father to you, even before you have written a single syllable.

Better than a mother Sir, said I, you assuredly are; and then the tears [Page 194] sprang into my foolish eyes, as I com­pared the delicate dinner that I sup­posed she then might be eating, to the bare bones, stale pudding, coppery broth, and broken bread, that Susan was now going to place before me. However, as I was never quite so hungry since I was born, and as I knew my ever dear Lucia had suffi­cient for a frugal meal, I never eat a more hearty meal, or blessed heaven with more sincerity, that a meal (though coarse) was bestowed at all.

When Mr. Reynolds had finished the last sentence, Charlotte, the bai­liff's servant brought in the supper, and his history was suspended. You [Page 195] must therefore suspend your curiosity, till I can recollect the remainder of this most interesting narrative.

Mean while I am your's CHARLES.

LETTER CXXI. From the same to the same. The history of Mr. Reynolds con­cluded.

WHEN supper was over, and I had persuaded Mr. Rey­nolds to drink a glass of wine, he proceeded in this manner.

[Page 196]In the midst of this literary labour and indigence, a relation of Lucia's died, and bequeathed her the sum of two hundred pounds. This was a delicious windfall, and I received it in bank bills a month after the per­sons decease: violent, and immediate transitions however, are undesirable and dangerous: the leap, from po­verty to plenty is truly alarming, and many a man's head turns giddy in making it. Such was the present case. I had no sooner got this pre­cious treasure in my hands, than I gave a loose to imagination. As it was Lucia's money, I could not bear the idea of using it for my purposes. I considered the poor hut in which that excellent creature resided, as un­worthy [Page 197] such an inhabitant, and there­fore, immediately, and unknown to her, I took two little neat apartments, and furnished them to—what I knew to be her taste—I reflected upon the forlorn state of her wardrobe, and I repaired it by silks, laces, linens, &c. to the amount of almost one of the hundred pounds — with these pur­chases, which I made from time to time in the course of the first week, I, at a proper period, made Lucia ac­quainted, and the dear creature Sir was almost ready to faint at the tid­ings. She saw the conjugal delicacy and disinterestedness of my intentions, but she saw also the imprudence of laying out all our little property, in finery, that was wholly inconsistent [Page 198] with our embarrassed state, and our future expectation. Luckily, how­ever, my furniture was second hand, and I had eighteen guineas still in my possession: we therefore agreed to manage this with the utmost frugality, till I could supply myself by writing some work, that, by tak­ing time and pains with it, might be likely to establish my reputation as an author; after which, according to the trite expression, a man may lie a bed. In pursuance of these oeconomi­cal resolutions, I had fixed upon my subject, sketched out the plan of my design, entered upon the introduc­tory parts, and began to kindle in the progress; when, lo! I had not, with all my foresight, provided against [Page 199] certain demands which various trades-people had on their books against me, for former necessaries.

One evening, after I had laid aside the pen, in order to enjoy the sweets of a conversation never tedious, and always tender; just as Lucia began to entertain me with a favourite song, a man came into our apartment and presented a bill for thirty-seven pounds, which had been owing him, and collecting to that size, for up­wards of two years. Startled as I was, I hardly knew, how to stammer forth an apology, and the creditor perceiving my confusion took it as a token of my distress, and was therefore resolved to have his money on the spot. I equi­vocated. [Page 200] He left me abruptly, and, with the authority of a creditor, slapt to my dining-room door with a shew of indignation. Our song, and all our harmony, you may be sure, was now broken, and we were left to many sorrowful reflections.

Our affection, however Sir, was of so delicate a nature, that all the ar­dours of romance were realized in my conduct, and even pastoral senti­ments scarce did justice, to the ten­derness of my passion.

Nature had formed her for emi­nence, and such was her mind, that she bore with me the burden of anxi­ety, and doubled the sense of better [Page 201] fortune, at the time that she shared it. But the great charm which en­deared and distinguished her, was, that fervid fortitude, that gave her strength (even after the bed was torn from under her) to go through the most piercing inconvenience, and the hardest trials. The insults I sustained however, were too much for her, and she grew quite melancholy, and would sometimes pass whole days without being able to utter a word— at last the hour approached when all the miseries of my existence were to be collected to a point—when for­tune, piqued at my former defiance of her, by one decisive blow—the moment at last came—which—which —you know the rest, Sir —spare— [Page 202] spare—oh spare me the repetition— Lucia is in her grave—excuse—ex­cuse me—

Mr. Reynolds, my dear Charlotte, broke off abruptly—so must Charles.

P. S. My tears will give me leave, in pity to you, to inform you, that I this very day am to have Mr. Reynolds's company at dinner, which may serve to shew that he is no longer in a house of confine­ment. Adieu.

LETTER CXXII. CHARLOTTE to CHARLES.

HOW truly do I pity the unfor­fortunate Reynolds! — how [Page 203] much am I obliged to Charles for the narrative — but how infinitely do I honour him for the sentiment and intelligence of the postscript— and so you have restored the prisoner, to freedom — what a fate was his Lucia's — ah Charles, how many tears did I sacrifice to her death-bed letter—merciless creditors — what a woman—what a wife did ye destroy! how will Templeton rejoice—how will the good Melbank, who is arrived, congratulate Charles on the service he has rendered such a character as Mr. Reynolds!—in a jail, only for twenty-five pounds!—a man of his brilliance—good God!—but he is now at large, and through my Charles's means—oh my friend, bring us all to­gether [Page 204] — what have I said? — no Charles—no—adieu to visits—fatal indulgencies!—and yet—surely— when we think of Reynolds—when his harder, much harder fortunes are considered—we may be well satisfied —cannot we cherish the most tender and innocent friendship, without once cherishing a guilty thought! how un­reasonable! oh Charles, let us be above it — we will assuredly all have one happy meeting—I will put con­fidence in you, because I know I can now safely trust myself. Farewell. You shall soon hear again from

CHARLOTTE

LETTER CXXIII. CHARLOTTE to Dr. MELBANK.

CHARLOTTE, hears of her good doctor's return to town with great pleasure, particularly, as she wants both his advice and com­pany on Wednesday, to meet Charles, and an agreeable stranger.

LETTER CXXIV. Dr. MELBANK to CHARLOTTE.

IT is impossible to resist your in­vitation. I shall attend it—and [Page 206] yet, is there not a little tincture of— of—of—pshaw, nonsense, into what idle stuff am I rambling! you may depend upon me.

E. MELBANK.

LETTER CXXV. CHARLES to CHARLOTTE.

MR. Reynolds will not be the only visitor you may expect on Wednesday: you will see another of your friends on that day, besides Dr. Melbank, the incomparable, and the unchangeable

CHARLES.

LETTER CXXVI. CHARLES to CLEORA.

I Find that the base-minded Mrs. P. refuses any longer to pro­vide for the child, and that she who has pillaged all the father's effects, and the son's property, has the impudence to plead, poverty—what pangs Cleora are in store for that woman! what a sickness is she preparing for her soul! as to the child, since no intreaties can prevail with you to trust it into my arms, pray send for it directly into your's; and as my affairs are now likely [Page 208] to mend a little, I shall be able to accommodate both you and your little companion.

CHARLES.

LETTER CXXVII. Dr. MELBANK to H. T. Esq

NOW Sir, indeed, my misery is compleated—I have had ano­ther interview with Charlotte, in the presence of Charles—a stranger was there—oh, Mr. Templeton, such a stranger: upon his coming into the [Page 209] room, I was greatly struck with the resemblance of features which I shall never forget. At dinner, Charles drank to his health, under the name of Mr. Reynolds—I no sooner heard the sound, than my heart ceased to beat — I felt a mixture of inex­pressible misery, and fell back in my chair. They officiously recovered me to greater misery — whom do you think sat opposite to me, Sir?—the only man in the world that I had in­jured—the nephew of that very Mr. Reynolds, who was the father of my Maria, and who, but for some petty offence—some partial misrepresenta­tions, was to have heired the for­tunes that were given to me. Rey­nolds, Sir, said I—are those features, [Page 210] the exact image of Mr. Stokes, the property of Mr. Reynolds—of the very person who is now before me? Mr. Stokes, Sir, replied he, was my uncle, the brother of my mother— but I was, when very young, most falsely painted to him, and never saw him afterwards: he had a daughter then at a boarding school.

He had so, Sir, said I, almost sob­bing, and that daughter's name was—

Maria Stokes, said he—

And that Maria Stokes, rejoined I, was my wife—and she is—

Where said Mr. Reynolds?

[Page 211]With the God that made her— but is it possible, resumed I, that you should be this very Mr. Reynolds, —where have you been: by what means have you eluded my most in­dustrious enquiries—I have been bu­ried, Sir, he returned, amongst the booksellers—I have been condemned under fifty names, to conceal from the gripe of the creditor a wretched body not worth the fatigue of a single search —I have never shewn my face—or applied by letters to those who basely deserted me—I have hid myself in the thickness of a thousand disguises —and, in short Sir, my kind bene­factor who sits next to me will explain the rest.

[Page 212]Upon this Mr. Templeton, Charles withdrew a moment with Charlotte, and on their return, put a packet of letters into my hand, containing— what do you think Sir?—nothing less than the history of Mr. Reynold's.— I have borrowed these letters, Sir, and now send them in franks for your reading—look into them Sir with an eye of compassion.—

When I had finished this perusal of them, I made use of the little strength I had left, to fall upon my knee—I took Mr. Reynolds's hand; and so Sir, said I—I have at last found out the unhappy gentleman, whose natural expectations I have despoiled—why did you not leave [Page 213] some clue to your residence, before the death of your uncle, — I was only a servant in his family—I did not even know, at that time, that he had a nephew in being—I —I—in a word Sir, as this lady has furnished me with your narrative—she will be so kind to give you a sketch of mine— in the mean while let me retire into another room—I cannot support it any longer without relief.

I went Mr. Templeton, into a small book closet—flung myself on a so­pha which was there, and burst into tears.

I must make a pause—

LETTER CXXVIII. The same to the same.

CHARLES and Charlotte, after an hour's absence, (in which I will not attempt to describe what I felt) came to me: each of them took a hand, and led me into the apart­ment again — Mr. Reynolds ad­vanced and began to address me.

"We have both had our misfor­tunes, Sir, said he—but I can see no trace of guilt in your conduct. As to my uncle, I had long buried my [Page 215] expectations of receiving any benefit from him, nor did I ever see him but five times in my life: my mother turned his heart and his passions against me; and I am now rejoiced to hear she has not been the better or the richer upon that account. My indulging friend Charles has, since you were out of the room, trusted to me a paper (sent him by this lady) which relates all I could desire to know—nay more than I could desire —for I find my cousin is dead—you have lost your wife—Alas! alas! Sir and I—I have lost mine."

He wept, Mr. Templeton, and I had but too many reasons to sympa­thize.

[Page 216]The delicacy of Charles and Char­lotte during this surprizing interview is not to be imagined, their passion seemed to be now quite extinguished, and they attended only to us.

I had a thousand things to say, and yet I was obliged to go away, with a full heart, without saying any thing to the purpose.

I am, Your unhappy E. MELBANK.

LETTER CXXIX. CHARLOTTE to CHARLES.

WHAT a scene—what a party was yesterday's! I have not heard from either Dr. Melbank, or Mr. Reynolds. Consider my im­patience, and all that you know, communicate to

CHARLOTTE.

P. S. Your care of my sister was noble, I receive her at your hands with many tender thanks.

LETTER CXXX.
Dr. MELBANK to CHARLES.

PRAY, my dear Charles, forward the inclosed to Mr. Reynolds, and let illness excuse my making this letter to you so abrupt.

E. MELBANK.
[Page 219]

(The Inclosed.) To Mr. REYNOLDS.

I Dreamed last night that I was the murderer of your wife—I saw her in my visions—the figure of your cousin too, arose close by the side of her, to reproach me.—I have cer­tainly been the unknown instrument of mischief to many—pray come to me that I may quiet my conscience— to have been even the innocenct cause of anguish, is too much for a delicate heart—how intricate are the mazes of providence—I charge you to come.

E. MELBANK.

LETTER CXXXI. CHARLES to CHARLOTTE.

I Have only time to fold up Dr. Melbank's note, and to scribble a hasty copy of his letter to Mr. Rey­nolds—that gentleman and I are this moment going to the house of that noble character.

Adieu, CHARLES.

LETTER CXXXII. CLEORA to CHARLOTTE.

MADAM,

I Have at length brought myself to be really sorry, you and Charles, cannot be properly re-united. As I now see that the circumstances which happened prior to, and since our se­paration, would render a re-union intolerably imperfect; and as you are evidently the woman of his choice, I am willing to enter into articles of mutual release, and try how far it is possible for your return to Charles to [Page 222] be put upon a moral footing—I thank you madam, for the papers that have past between you, giving an account of your whole intercourse. I am at least glad to see that Charles does not dwell on the vile report that was pro­mulgated against my reputation.

In regard to any difference in our tempers, and disagreement in other respects, we have both smarted for them sufficiently, without dragging in­to the account the most barbarous report that ever was invented to de­stroy the fame of a woman. I con­fess to you the impossibility, (as things have fallen out) of my ever being happy with Charles—whatever he may think—I should now scorn [Page 223] as much the advances to so unprofit­able a reconciliation as himself—we were never comfortable—at least we were never fond after the first month —I was dupe enough to listen to a love-tale made by a man upon the bachelor's ramble, under a fictitious name—every step we both took was romantic; and had I not been as much besotted with a wild, mad-headed scheme as himself, I might have seen prudence, without going to * Scotland for repentance. But the deed is done, and I wish with all my heart it were undone. How can you madam, believe Charles a constant man?—can it be possible he should [Page 224] have such a principle in his nature? ingenuity—wit—address—elegance I am ready to grant him—but fideli­ty to any one favourite, whether wife or not, is surely out of the list of things practicable. You say, he will, after he has come to some terms with his creditors, contribute to my genteeler support. He writes me word he will also assist me in a proper provision for the child.—

If he fulfills these promises, hea­ven knows, I never desire a closer intercourse with him, and I have resolved in my mind to mark this as the last letter he shall ever see, or Charlotte ever receive on the subject: for, to tell you the truth I do not [Page 225] see that I have divided you from him, to any good purpose. I do not pray for his death, or my own, but never did a matrimonial prisoner pray oft­ner, or more earnestly for liberty, and an honourable escape from bon­dage.

I am Madam,
In conclusion of our correspondence, your humble servant, CLEORA.

P. S. I hear that Charles's, mother frets and laughs, alternately, at the receipt of his retaliating letter. She says she will, persecute him for it without mercy. I should hope she [Page 226] would not put her threats in execu­tion, but I have friendship enough for his safety, to beg you will put him upon his guard.

LETTER CXXIII. CHARLES to CHARLOTTE.

ALAS Charlotte, I have been witness to another scene more tender, even than the first: Rey­nolds and Melbank were an hour together, without the intrusions of a third person; and when I joined [Page 227] them, they were tenderly locked in embraces: the poor doctor is ex­ceedingly ill, and we both sat by his bed-side all night. About twelve o'clock this morning he fell into a short slumber, and Reynolds went to bed. I begin, indeed, now Char­lotte, to consider our pangs of sepa­ration as trifling, in opposition to what I have lately heard, and lately seen. Dr. M—mentioned you several times in the course of the night with the greatest marks of re­spect—kissed the picture of the de­ceased Maria—wept again over the fate of Lucia—pitied Charles—and bathed the hands of Mr. Reynolds in tears.—I shall return to him again, as soon as I have put a wafer under [Page 228] this, for the satisfaction of the sympa­thizing Charlotte.

CHARLES.

LETTER CXXIV. Dr. MELBANK to H. T. ESQ;

I Am held up in my bed—and I have past the night in a fever— do not think me superstitious if I say —if I prophecy—that this will be the last time you will receive a letter from me. Poor Reynolds's situation teras me one way, and my affection [Page 229] for Charlotte another—I love her yet Sir—yes Mr. Templeton, guilty as I know myself—God knows I love her yet—I have the killing cir­cumstances too, of having Charles constantly before me, and exerting himself more indefatigably than my nurse—his hand is often in mine— he smoothes my bed-cloaths—he of­fers me medicines—he keeps a death-like silence in the room—he most tenderly avoids speaking of Charlotte —I am afraid he still suspects my lurking passion. What can possibly have made me thus weak! I am a child—I am a child Mr. Templeton —may God bless you.

E. MELBANK.

LETTER CXXV. CHARLES to CHARLOTTE. Twelve o'Clock at Night.

THE doctor is quite delirious, Charlotte—he cries out by fits —and enquires for Mr. Reynolds— Mr. Reynolds appears, and he bids him avoid his presence. Before his fever had reduced him to this state, he sat up in his night gown, and or­dered the lawyer to come to his bed-side—he waved us out of the room smilingly—the servants were called as witnesses—a will was made—we [Page 231] re-entered, and he placed us both on different sides of his bed. "I am afraid, dear friends, said he, I have suffered from visiting lately a poor woman in the Fleet prison—I have reason to think the fever she has since idied of is of the contagious kind— [...]ll as I was, I visited her on the very evening after I had found the long lost Mr. Reynolds—my spirits were then very bad.—"

"I desire you will take the bare pos­sibility of it for granted—I must not suffer you to enter my chamber again my friends, till I am better—when I am certain as to the nature of my dis­order, you shall be again with joy ad­mitted: till then—farewell—farewell."

[Page 232]The doctor pressed our hands very softly—desired us to wash the fingers in hungary water—and then threw the sheet over his face. Touched at the solemnly affecting manner, in which he spoke, Reynolds and I withdrew, and have not dared to enter against his express inhibitions since.

CHARLES.

LETTER CXXVI. JAMES SPEDMAN to CHARLES.

SIR,

MY poor dear master orders me to tell you that his physician has pronounced his disorder to be [Page 135] catching, and requests you will on no account come near the house, and that you will not suffer Mr. Reynolds to leave London.

Your humble servant, J. SPEDMAN.

LETTER CXXVII. CHARLES to CHARLOTTE.

AFFECTION has I fear hurried me into danger—I past the best part of the last night in the bed-chamber of Dr. Melbank—no fear of his discovering me—he knows no one.

[Page 234]His situation cannot possibly be de­scribed—still does he lie, Charlotte, in the struggles of death—his lips silent his eye closed—and the sigh breaking laboriously from his bosom—I kissed his hand—I could not help it Char­lotte—it was the hand that saved me from destruction.—He loves Char­lotte too—some veneration is due to him for that.—

A loose paper lay on his pillow— I have pillaged it—and the theft has been repaid by an almost brokn heart.

Read it Charlotte—what a charac­ter is this to the last. Pray assiduously for his recovery.—

CHARLES.
[Page 235]

The Paper. To CHARLES—CHARLOTTE, and Mr. REYNOLDS.

LET those to whom this loose sheet, written at different snatch­es, is addressed, religiously observe the sentiments it contains.

Be the friendship of Charles and Charlotte ever inviolate—when they die, it is desired they will order them­selves to be placed in my family vault at — let Mr. Reynolds write a line of forgiveness, on my tomb-stone: it will soothe me— [Page 236] —Mr. Templeton is requested to attend my funeral—Charlotte is pa­thetically invited to put on mourn­ing.—

Alas, alas—where am I wander­ing?—foolish—foolish Melbank—I have quite lost myself—let me then, while sense is returning, use the pre­cious interval to desire my will may be opened, and the articles performed the day after my death.—

E. MELBANK.

LETTER CXXVIII. CHARLOTTE to CHARLES.

DEEPLY as I am affected for the amiable Dr. Melbank, I can­not excuse your rashness in going to him, after interdiction—and running the hazard of losing another valuable life. Take some advice upon the matter, I conjure you, and let me know by constant messages, how the good doctor, and my best friend go on. Surely — surely such esteemed characters, will be yet restored, in pity to their admirers, and for the service of mankind.

CHARLOTTE.

LETTER CXXIX. CHARLES to CHARLOTTE.

OUR best friend is no more. I have power only to write the sentence, and wrap up into a cover the letter that brought the news. How will the tears stream from your dear eyes at the tidings.

CHARLES.
[Page 239]

(The Inclosed.) JAMES SPEDMAN to CHARLES.

SIR,

MY excellent master is amongst the angels: he departed this life in the forest miseries of a putrid fever, this morning a little after day break. He was sensible to every thing, and knew every body about him, about two hours before he left the world. The names of Charles, Mr. Reynolds, and one or two more, were several times repeated: he clasped his hands together, and em­ployed his last breath in blessing you [Page 240] all. After this he turned upon his pillow, and (though he exhibited the greatest signs of pain) remained speechless till he expired.

I was with him all the time—I am not afraid of catching any bad sick­ness in performing my duty to the best man, and the best master that ever lived—God Almighty knows best, in such cases what to do: but I am sure he could not be pleased if I like the rest of the servants, had ne­glected so worthy a gentleman in such a situation; and I shall ever honour you Sir, for the courage your friendship gave you to come and look at the good doctor, when other peo­ple run away from him. I have [Page 241] been nineteen years his servant, Sir, on and off, and he has many times saved my life—I certainly shall not now leave him, while he is upon the earth; and yet the physician says he must be put into the ground di­rectly.

I am Sir, your most humble servant, JAMES SPEDMAN.

LETTER CXXX. CHARLES to H. T. Esq

THE large packet of letters that I send you, will at once apologize and account for my long silence. Neither, Charlotte, Mr. Rey­nolds, or your friend, have of late been able to take up the pen. It was this day month, that the body of our most worthy benefactor was committed to the earth—I do most truly assure you, that the affluence in which his unequalled generosity has left me, by no means compensate [Page 243] the pleasure I had in his society, and the satisfaction I received from his life.

He has divided the bulk of his fortunes amongst three persons, my Templeton, who certainly could form no possible expectation of his bounty. Here follows a faithful extract from his will.

—"Item, To my beloved friend Charles, I bequeath my dwel­ling-house in St. James's-street, with all its furniture, plate, &c. &c."

"Item, I bequeath to Charlotte, in testimony of my esteem for her vir­tue, and reverence for her misfor­tunes, [Page 244] the sum of two thousand five hundred pounds, to be paid imme­diately on my decease, or as soon afterwards as the said sum can be conveniently drawn from the funds, where lie certain monies mentioned in other parts of this my last testi­ment."

"Item, I give and bequeath, to my servant James Spedman one hundred pounds sterling."

"Item, To Charles, Esq I be­queath one thousand pounds, for the use of Cleora, to be paid out of my cash, now lying, and being in the funds."

[Page 245]"Item, I bequeath to the said Charles, Esq my Sussex estate, sub­jected to the yearly rent of two hun-pounds, to be paid into the hands of J. Reynolds, Esq which is a debt due to the said J. Reynolds, Esq for many years."

"Item, To the aforesaid J. Rey­nolds, Esq in consideration of in­terest on the said debt, my houses, lands, and properties, whatsoever, and wheresoever, lying and being in the island of Jamaica."

"Item, I bequeath to Charlotte all my pictures in my library, with all my books, paintings, and the miniature of my dear wife Maria, [Page 246] hanging over the library chimney piece."

"Item, I charge the said Sussex estate, given to Charles, Esq with the annual deduction of one hundred pounds, to be paid to Charlotte during her natural life, on every eighteenth day of August, being the anniversary of that lady's birth."

"Item, I give and bequeath to H. Templeton, Esq one hundred gui­neas for a mourning ring, and any other testimonies of friendship that he may choose to employ it in."

"Item, I give and bequeath, to Charlotte, the watch, and some [Page 247] trinkets lying in a little gold box in my front parlour drawers, also my old and favourite dog Pompey, with an annuity of five pounds during his natural life, to be paid out of the Sussex estate, over and above the annuity of one hundred pounds."

Can any words, oh my dear Tem­pleton, be adequate to such circum­stances—and yet there is not a single person concerned who would not ra­ther enjoy the dear company of the testator, than the splendid evidences of his tenderness and attention.

And then to die, as he did, in the meridian of life—in a situation so pathetic, at a time so delicately criti­cal! [Page 248] Blessed, for ever blessed be his memory upon earth — Rich and abundant be his rewards in Heaven. Never did I see such genuine, un­affected grief and gratitude that mix themselves in the sympathy of Char­lotte and Mr. Reynolds.—

Cleora's letter also upon the sub­ject, does her honour.—

Reynolds and I, live at present in the good doctor's house; and we are so often reminded of his image, and his goodness, in every thing about us, that it is not in the power of gold to charm our grief—

[Page 249]That I have still a sigh for Char­lotte, is but too certain, and I would most willingly reject all that I am now worth, and, after all deductions, that will, I find, be a considerable fortune—Yes, Templeton, I would yield up every shilling—be again in­volved —again a prisoner — again liable to all the insults of an unfor­tunate man—and depend for the re­mainder of my days upon the pre­carious efforts of my own hands— had I this minute the privilege of of leading her by the hand to the foot of the altar—

I conjure you to come to town, and let us, in the first place do justice to [Page 250] our benefactor, by erecting to his memory a suitable monument; and let us inscribe on it such sentiments, as express our grief and our grati­tude in the most lively manner.

CHARLES.
FINIS.

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