« AnteriorContinuar »
lities; for being with her one aternoon in the grotto, and thinking nobody near, he made a vile, tho' vain attempt on her virtue; for on her screaming out, the gardener, who was in the wilderness behind, came up and disconcerted his scheme. She, almost overcome with the surprise, was near fainting, when the gardener came in, and Sir Thomas to hide his villany said, she had been frighted by a snake which ran that moment from the side of the grotto. As they were afterwards walking home to the house, Sir Thomas desired that no notice might be taken of what had pass’d, and promis'd to behave quite otherwise for the future, at the same time making great protestations of his love; but these she could by no means think a security against any future attempts on her honour; the therefore left the house the same evening, and came down to me.
Sir Thomas, conscious of what he had done, sent his valet to desire her return; but the excused the matter to the servant by saying, that she was not well, and on that account rather chose to stay with me. This answer was far from being satisfactory; for Miss Sally had scarce finish'd the relation of what had passed in the garden, when the valet enter'd a fecond time with the following letter. “ My dear creature, . THE pain you give me, by misconstruing every thing
1 I say or do so mueh to my disadvantage, is inexpres“ fible. What past between us last night was intended no “ other than as a jest; for you can't think me fool enough to « attempt the virtue of one whom I intend to make my wife, " and hope to be happy with for ever. Your saying that I “ take the advantage of your youth, inexperience and po“ verty, in order to seduce your virtue, is doing me the “ the greatest injustice. Did not I know and esteem that “ pious, good man your father? Was I not acquainted with “ the virtues of that truly worthy woman your mother? " And would I not fooner marry one from that virtuous and " religious stock without a farthing, than any other with “ large poffeffions ? By heaven I would. Dismiss your fearsj $ my dear, and return tone this moment, I entreat you " for I shall be in the utmost follicitude till I have given you $o convincing proofs of my love and integrity. You know 56 how expedient it is to keep our marriage a secret till my “ uncle's death, and therefore I have fent for a clergyman in " the neighbourhood, in whom I can confide. He is to be
with me to-morrow night, and we will then fix the place and happy hour. I am, my dear angel, yours for ever, I mean your happy husband,
Thomas *****. This letter entirely removed the ill opinion I had conceived of Sir Thomas; for here was an honourable proposal of marriage with large professions of love to Miss Brown and of esteem and reverence to her parents. Besides he had often talk'd to her in this strain before, tho' she always heard him with great indifference, as she had reason to suspect the fincerity of his intentions. This letter, however, was an explanation of what had, at other times, been insinuated in a more obscure manner ; and as Sir Thomas had an agreeable person, and was a gentleman of great fortune ; she, poor girl, in her fituation, could not be displeased at the proposal ; and, for my part, I advised her to return the next morning, and behave as was consistent with the character the bore in the family, till such time as their marriage could be solemniz'd, of which she was to inform me as soon as possible. Before the departed, I did not forget to give her a caution against all future adyentures like that in the garden, and to read her a lesson on the inconstancy and perfidy of mankind..
Several days had país'd, before I heard again from her : in which interim, you must imagine, my love and friendship for her fillid me with a thousand fears. But they were all removed by the fight of one of Sir Thomas's servants, who brought me word that Miss Sally had a pain in her head, and desired I would immediately come to her and bring with me the receipt I used on that occasion. This I perfectly understood: and posted away directly. She me tme at the gardengate which points next to our house, and with the greatest
joy told me that she had been privately married two days before: but as Sir Thomas desired to keep it a secret on account of his uncle, she was afraid to write to me about it for fear of a discovery. She then earnestly conjur'd me not to divulge it, but to consider her still as the fame Sally Brown, a servant in Sir Thomas's family; for, said the, this is his will; you know, 'tis my duty to obey my husband, and I chearfully do it.
How uncertain are all earthly enjoyments! Here I left my friend in the possession of plenty, and as I thought under the protection of an indulgent husband, and placed, as it were, ever out of the power of fortune. Oh that villain, Sir Thomas ! But to go on-his uncle foon after dying, left him the bulk of his estate, and then his wife was in hope of being removed at least one degree above that of a a servant. But this, he said, was not his will at present, and she chearfully submitted. At last however the time came, when no concealment could be any longer made; for the grew big with child, and in consequence of that, became the derifion and daily sport of every fellow in the family. Insupportable fituation ! she now, on her knees, applied to Sir Thomas, and entreated him in the most tender and pathetick manner to fave her reputation, and either to publish their marriage himfelf, or to permit her to do it. But the brute turn'd round on his heel, and told her he should never acknowledge any such thing; that he was never marrried, but by way of diversion, and that stood for nothing
'Tis easy to conceive what a dreadful effect this reply must have on one of so meek a disposition. Every faculty of her foul left her, and she lay as one dead, when he quitting the room sent in people to her ailistance. "Twas hardly within the power of medicinero recall her feeting spirits ; and when recovered she was continually raving about her child and Sir Thomas her husband, repeating what had just pass’d between him and her, and shew'd all the figns of a visible distraction. In this fituation however, dark as it was, the infernal turn'd her out of doors, committed her to the race of the inerciless elements,
and the next day she was found by our neighbours, Oh shocking to mention! in a ditch, with her breast naked and bloody, her hair torn from her head, and raving without the least dawn of reason. In this wretched state she was carried to a mad-house, about fix miles from our parish.
Now was the time for envy and detraction. Some were wicked enough to throw reflections on the ashes of her poor father, and said, the parson might have taught his daughter beta ter. A pretty jade indeed, another answered, to get herself with child and then fudge a wedding upon Sir Thomas. Ah, commend me to the parson's daughter! said the third. All the family deny'd that any clergyman had been in the house except Mr. Robinson the curate, who knew nothing of the matter; and Sir Thomas was so righteous as to affirm, that he never hinted any thing to her about marriage, or had any concern at all with her, so that the story of their being married was generally disbelieved.
But to shorten my story, I thought it my duty to show . the knight's letter (as above) to every body; which coming to his ears, he sent the following to my husband.
“ Farmer Plumber, your wife has shewn a letter to many “ people, which, she says was sent by me to the girl when at « your house, tho’I deny it absolutely. If you value my “ friendship get the letter, and send it me: otherwise s prepare to turn out of my farm. Yours Thomas *****.
To this my husband, greatly irritated, return'd the following answer.
“ Sir, your menaces I despise ; I am not yet your slave : “ I have an estate of my own of 2001, a year, honestly got, “ which will last longer than your 4000l. your farm I shall “ quit as soon as my term is expired; for I wou'd not breathe « in the same air, or dwell in the same place with such a « villian. The letters you shall never have, but a copy of “ each shall be naild on the yew tree in the church-yard “ next Sunday. Yours, RICHARD PLUMBER.
This was accordingly done, and read by all the parish; some lhed tears, and others shook their heads and said there
had been much foul play. But I the afternoon, when nétrs was brought of her deathe (which indeed I expected) they were enrag’d to the utmost degree: they even threatend to to stone that villian Sir Thomas, and pull down his house, and I believe he was in some dread of that fort, for that evening he set out privately for London.
Here our enquiries seem'd to end, and her marriage remain'd as uncertain as ever : but God, who knoweth all sem crets brought this also to light. The day after Sally's death my husband was sent for by a gentleman about four miles off, who, 'twas said, could not die in peace 'till he had seen him; and who should this be but a steward of Sir Thomas's, who had drawn up an instrument, and got it witnessed, which he deliver'd to my husband. He accordingly went with two neighbours; and, as soon as he came in, the dying man ado dress’d him in the following manner.
“ Sir, I was uneasy 'till I saw you ; for I as much honour you for vindicating the innocent Miss Brown, as I abhor my felf for being concerned in her destruction : I am a steward to Sir Thomas in this county ; about ten months ago I received his orders to bring him a clergyman's habit in a box, and say they were writings. When I came, he told me he had a girl in the house whom he intended to marry at his uncle's decease, and I would be glad, fays he, to have her company in the mean time; but that cannot be done without the formal ceremony of marriage. You are therefore to go into my room at eight this evening and dress yourself like a clergyman. This I did ; and soon after Sir Thomas return'd with the young lady, to whom I read over the marriage ceretony. This was done without the knowledge of any of the family, so that no witness could be produced of the marriage; and that wicked man wrote to me to keep it an inviolable sea cret. But good God, could I die with such a load upon my conscience ?"
This is the story: I have no more room to add any more, than that I am, dear madamy your sincere and much afflicted friend,