Page images

that is fo frequently beftowed upon me. Were my circumftances more happy, I might, perhaps, be lefs cautiously referved; but can I be too much fo, while my misfortunes fubject me to thofe infults? A woman without fortune, let her be ever so deserving in other refpects, is, I find, a person of very little confequence. If fhe is plain, fhe is difregarded; if handfome, her fate is ftill more unhappy, fince the will find herself the object of dishonourable pursuits; for mankind are now fo prudent in their choice of wives, that, in their opinion, a woman who has twenty thousand pounds, has twenty thousand charms; and the only who has thoufands, is, in their eyes, endued with requifites to render the marriage state happy. For my own part, though I think I may, without vanity, pronounce my perfon tolerable; my understanding, at least, on a level with the generality of women; though I have endeavoured to acquire thofe accomplishments which are recommended to our fex, and have studied not only the outward graces, but the more interior good qualities of the mind, I must own (mortifying as the confeffion is to my vanity) that amongst all the men who vifit here, not one of them has thought me worthy to infpire a serious paffion, though I am fufficiently tormented with their unmeaning gallantry. On the contrary, my coufin has, at least, twenty, who are ambitious of wearing her chains for life, and all these most violently in love, too. Plutus has caught Cupid napping; and, in order to establish his reign, has stolen his arrows, and tipped them with gold. Since, then, none but those which are ornamented with that precious metal have power to wound, difinterested love is banished the world ; and I own that, without that gentle paffion, there is an infipidity in the most lively amusements, a void in the heart, which renders what are called the pleasures of life, to me, at leaft, extremely uninterefting-It is only to a friend I. fhould dare to avow thefe fentiments, but to my Maria I have never known to practife the leaft difguife-Let me thank heaven, however, that though I have not been able to rob others of their freedom, I have, at leaft, preferved my own-Yes, my friend, my heart is ftill free; notwithstanding your predictions, there is lefs danger than you imagine, from the gay crowd that furround me: I fhould be more apprehenfive of those gentle rural youths, on your peaceful plains, than these gaudy infects that flutter round me: They may, indeed, dazzle the eye for a time, but their fuperficial graces will never affect my heart-Would you believe it poflible, that out of so many I fhould not yet have feen one who I in the least distinguish from the reft-Indeed, though their faces differ, there is such an infipid fameness in their manner, that it is the less to be won


dered at-In all, a pert affectation of wit, the fame unmean. ing gallantry, the fame ftrain of indelicate flattery; and from all, the fame repetition of infignificant chit chat-Oh, if this is the Beau-monde, commend me to the lefs polished, indeed, but more rational country-The former, in attempting to diveft themselves of rufticity, have, unfortunately, with it, worn off every thing that is natural and becoming-And what an aukward substitute is art, which now fupplies its place ?—You, my dear Maria, who have been accustomed to an amiable fimplicity of manners, can have no idea of the flattering infignificant fett of beings, with whom thy friend is now doomed to spend her infipid hours-The fine women over-run with affectation; the fine gentlemen rakes and coxcombs-Let me give you the journal of one day, by which you will be able to form fome notion of the manner of existence, for I cannot be faid to live-About twelve we affemble to breakfast; I, you know, had formerly accustomed myself to early rising, but the late hours I am now forced to keep, have, in fome measure, compelled me to imitate the fashionable fluggards, though I generally write an hour or two before any creature but myself is ftirring, in this diforderly houfe-Does not that convey a forry unfavourable idea? Let it pafs, however, fince, in reality, it but too well merits the appellation, harsh as it is— We meet at twelve; my coufin in dishabille, low spirited and peevish, indolently lolling on a fettee, fips her chocolate, plays with her lap-dog, and fcolds her Abigail by turns; now and then, by way of variety, a farcastic stroke at your humble fervant-My aunt, on the other fide, yawns, stretches, raves at her ill luck, repeats every card the the night before held, how The played them, and why the played them fo-Spadille, Menille, and Bafto, fings in my ears till we adjourn to her daughter's dreffing room; there awful beauty puts on all its charms. In a few moments loud and repeated raps are heard, when in rush belles and beaux innumerable-My dear creature! My Lovely friend! Divine charmer! Every mouth opens at once; then, frighted with the general noife, away the God of filence flies-They laugh, they chat; violent friendships amongst the females; paffionate lovers the men-From the former to me a flight inclination of the head; from the latter, an infolent fa, miliarity of address, with now and then a common-place compliment, and perhaps a display of their judgment, by deciding what ribbon beft becomes my complexion-Sir Harry is conftantly of the number of those infignificants, and I am fure to be tormented with his nonfenfe. 1 ought to give it a harsher name; he is a strange half-witted creature; and I might now and then be tempted to divert myself by laughing at him, if


his daring to infult me with his odious and difhonourable paf fion did not effectually drive away every propenfity to mirthLord Morland is another of our daily visitors; his family are defirous of my aunt's alliance; he, too, appears no lefs follicitous to render himself agreeable to the daughter; no very eafy task; nor is he much qualified to gain her good graces; for, to do him juftice, he is the most rational creature that frequents our house; he has a great deal of fenfe, is lefs for ward and affuming than most of his rank, and has more franknefs and fincerity in his manner, than any man I have met with in this gay metropolis- All these are against him in the opinion of a fine lady; befides that, he is not remarkably. handfome. He is the only one who deigns to treat me with tolerable respect. I have not the leaft reafon to complain of his behaviour, which is more than I can fay of any but himself. If I was not cautious of judging by appearances, I have fome reason to imagine he even honours me with fome degree of friendship -It is not without envy that mifs Wellford, who, though she, to use her own expreffion, does not value him a pinch of fnuff, fees me thus diftinguished by her lover. Sir Harry here-infolent intruder.?

After this, Sir Harry manifefts his dishonourable intentions: upon mifs Faulkland (who is at the fame time infulted by mifs Wellford) in the moft alarming manner. Mean while, fhe goes to a play, where Cupid, in the fhape of a Mr. Middleton,: takes his ftand in one of the fide-boxes, and drives an arrow quite through her heart. She returns him the compliment, and they become violently in love with each other; Middleton being every way as amiable a man, as mifs Faulkland was a woman.- -The plot upon her virtue, during this new-bern ftate of love, thickens. Sir Harry Courtney, by lady Wellford's connivance, is fhut up in her clofer, throws himself at her feet when she is going to bed, and makes an attempt upon. her virtue. She rings her bell: lady Wellford and her daughter appear, immediately pronounce her guilty, and conclude that Sir Harry had been admitted into her room by her own appointment. The report of her guilt is induftrioufly circa-, lated, and makes an impreffion upon Middleton. Our he roine is turned out of Lady Wellford's houfe with difgrace,and carried, against her will, to one prepared for ner recep tion by Sir Harry, who finding her impracticable, fairly turns. her out of doors likewife. She wanders about, equips herself for fervice, and gets a fcanty livelihood by fan-painting. Her. place of retreat is difcovered by Middleton, who, though he believes her guilty, difguifes himself, and takes a lodging in te fame house, with a defign to relieve her.A fire happens VOL. XXIV. No. 1767.

A a


in the house. Middleton faves his beloved, who repels an attack he made upon her virtue. Sir Harry finds out her retreat likewise, vifits her, but ftill proves unfuccefsful. As he leaves her, he has an interview with her landlady, whom he perfuades that her lodger had been debauched by his footman. The landlady relates the fame calumny moit faithfully to Middleton, who believes it.


We fhall not particularize all the treacherous schemes practifed against our heroine, because they have been again and again related, almost in the fame words, in other novels. is fufficient to fay, that he falls at laft into the hands of a noted bawd, who pretends to be a woman of fortune and character, and that the courtezans fhe entertains in her house are her virtuous daughters. Some appearances, however, ftartle our heroine's faith. Middleton, who is almost frantic at her fuppofed guilt, endeavours to drown the remembrance of her in intemperance, pays a vifit to mother Mackey (for fo the old bawd is called) where he meets with his beloved, and receives a confirmation of all her fuppofed lewdness. Thus ends the first volume.

The fecond volume opens, as the reader may partly conjecture, with an attempt-O horrible!-of Sir Harry, to ravish this veftal inmate of a brothel. The fear of the gallows, from the agony and fits into which fhe is thrown, prevents him; and as she is recovering a little strength, she is relieved from her infamous fituation by lady Courtney, in difguise, who had learned the place of her abode by a letter which fell into her hands from lady Wellford to Sir Harry. Our heroine lives with her ladyship while Sir Harry is preparing to fet out for Paris, and begins once more to be happy. She was taken into keeping (as we may call it) by an old spinftrefs, Mrs. Brudenel, who has conceived an invincible antipathy to men, and fuch an affection for mifs Faulkland, that when he dies fhe leaves her twenty thousand pounds, befides her fine house, gardens, and furniture; but on this whimsical condition, that she shall forfeit the whole (which is to go to fix old maidenly ladies) if ever mifs Faulkland fhould marry.

In the mean time, mifs Faulkland's innocence being fully manifefted, lord Morland, who is a friend to Middleton, writes him feveral letters from the country, giving an account of her adventures and wrongs. These letters are burnt, or fecreted, by an officer's widow, who lays a plot for Middleton's marrying her daughter, Emilia Grantham, a beautiful young girl, and in love with Middleton, but without any fortune. Middleton is ftill paflionately fond of mifs Faulkland; but hearing nothing from lord Morland, he believes her to be

[blocks in formation]

guilty, and by the treacherous arts of old Mrs. Grantham, is inveigled into a promife to marry her daughter Emilia. It happened that both this young lady and her mother owed all they poffeffed in the world to Middleton, who had likewife procured Emilia's brother (à brave, generous young fellow) a cornecy of dragoons. Grantham, though himself more than half in love with mifs Faulkland, difcovering the feductive arts his mother had practifed upon Middleton for the ruin of poor mifs Faulkland, pofts up to London, and sets fire to the train only a few minutes before Middleton was about to give his reluctant hand to his fifter, who was herself not a little involved in the deceit which had been practifed.

The reader, perhaps, need not be informed that Middleton, who, befides a regiment, had a great eftate, made not the leaft hesitation as to the part he was to act, in facrificing mifs Faulkland's fortune to his paffion for her perfon and merit. In fhort, the happy pair were joined in wedlock; Middleton made a noble provifion (notwithstanding all that had paffed) for Emilia and her mother; the worthy lady Courtney, upon the death of Sir Harry at Paris, marries her old sweetheart, lord Morland; and all the inferior agents in this history, whose parts are too complicated to be inferted here, are matched according to their interefts and inclinations.

From thefe cutlines the reader may partly form fome judg ment of this publication; and we fafely conclude, that the perufal of it, though it may not prove very edifying or affecting, is innocent, and may be amufing.

VI. The Perplexed Lovers: Or, the Hiftory of Sir Edward Balchen, Bart. Three Vol. 12mo. Pr. 7 s. 6 d. Noble.



HIS is one of the prettieft pieces of puff-pafte we have feen; but we think the title is a mifnomer. It might have been more properly called, Bo-peep, or The Hiftory of "Two Buckets ;" nor can we fufficiently admire the Arachnean arts which have enabled the author to produce three volumes from fuch fcanty materials. He puts us literally in mind of Mr. Glih, the author of the New Rehearsal, who says, "I am a very fpider at spinning my own brains, ha, ha, ha! always at itfpin, fpin, fpin you understand me -We fhall now proceed to give fome flight account of this difh of moonshine.

A a 2

[ocr errors]


« PreviousContinue »