Eliza Fowler Haywood.

Life's Progress Through The Passions Or, The Adventures of Natura online

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her long to persist in. Making use of the authority the laws had given
him, he, in a manner, forced her into the country, upwards of an
hundred miles from London, though it was then in the depth of winter,
and placed persons about her, with orders to prevent her from all
means of returning, till he should judge it proper for her so to do.

On this she wrote to her uncle, complaining of the hard treatment she
received, and beseeching him to take some measures to oblige her
husband to restore her liberty. The minister, who had at that time
much greater concerns upon his hands on his own account, did not care
to give himself any trouble about private family affairs; he only just
mentioned to Natura the letter she had sent to him, and the purport of
it; and on his relating to him the reasons that had compelled him to
put this restraint on her behaviour, told him, he should not interfere
between them; so that Natura found he had nothing to apprehend for
what he had done.

Finding this step had produced nothing for her purpose, she at last
condescended to submit to her justly offended husband; and on her
solemn and repeated promises of regulating her conduct for the future
in such a manner as he should approve, he was prevailed upon by her
seeming contrition, to consent to make trial how far her heart
corresponded with her professions: - it was agreed, to prevent the town
from inspecting too deeply on what had passed, that she should pretend
her absence from town had been the effect of her own choice, and for
giving the better colour, he went down himself, and brought her
up. - They lived together, after this, much better than they had done
for some months before their quarrel, and were now, in appearance,
perfectly reconciled; I say, in appearance, for all was outward shew,
neither of them had in their hearts the least true affection, nor
could forgive the other for what had passed between them.

The excessive constraint which both put upon themselves, in order to
conceal the real sentiments of their hearts from each other, as well
as from the world, could not but be extremely painful: - Natura
suffered her as little as possible out of his sight, though he could
have wished a possibility of avoiding her for ever, and was obliged to
do all he could, to make that pass for a fondness of her presence,
which was indeed only the effect of his jealousy of her behaviour in
absence: - she affected to think herself happy in his company, for no
other reason, than to win him to an assurance of her reformation, as
might render him less observant than he had been of what she did, even
at the time (as was afterwards discovered) when she seemed most sorry
and angry with herself for having given him any cause of suspicion
since their marriage.

Both, in fine, endured all that could make marriage dreadful,
especially Natura, who having with his former wife experienced all the
felicity of that state, was the more wretched by the sad alternative;
and as he could not sometimes forbear comparing the present with the
past, fell frequently into perfect convulsions of grief and remorse,
for having plunged himself into it.

A perpetual dissimulation is what human nature finds among the things
which are impossible to perform; - and I am pretty certain, that the
most artful person that ever breathed, could not, at all times, and in
all circumstances, restrain so far his real inclinations, as to give
no indications of them to an observing eye; and it is scarce probable,
but that the very attempt in Natura and his wife, gave rise to as many
reflections on their conduct in this point, as there was too much room
to make on others.

It was indeed a kind of farce acted by this unhappy pair, in which
both played their parts so aukwardly, that the real character would
frequently peep out, and though each dissembled, yet neither was
deceived; but as I said before, this could not last for ever; and the
ice being once broke in some unguarded humour either on the one or the
other side, I cannot pretend to affirm on which, the torrent of their
mutual disgust burst out with the greater force, for having been so
long pent up: it is hard to tell which testified the most virulence,
or expressed themselves in the most bitter terms: - all that can be
determined is, that those of Natura shewed most of _rage_, and those
his wife made use of, most of _hatred_.

After having fully vented all that was in their souls against each
other, both became more calm; and agreed in this, as the only resource
for ease in their present unhappy situation, to banish for the future
all deceit between them, and never more pretend the least kindness or
good-will to each other when in private, to lie in separate beds, and
to be as seldom as possible alone together; but for the sake of both
their reputations to continue in the same house, and before company to
behave with reciprocal politeness.

These terms rid Natura of a great part of that insupportable
constraint he had been under, but gave not the least satisfaction, as
to his jealousy of honour; he doubted not but she would be guilty of
many things, injurious in the highest degree to their public
character, and which yet it would not so well become him to exert his
authority in opposing, and these reflections gave him the most
terrible inquietude; which shews, that though _jealousy_ is called the
child of _love_, it is very possible to feel all the tortures of the
_one_, without being sensible of any of the douceurs of the _other_
passion.

How dearly now did Natura pay for the gratification of his
ambition! - What availed his grandeur, the respect paid him by his
equals, and the homage of the inferior world! - What the pride of
having it in his power to confer favours, when he had himself a heart
torn with the most fierce convulsions, and less capable of enjoying
the goods of fortune, than the most abject of those indigent
creatures, who petitioned for relief from him! - By day, by night,
alone, or in company, he was haunted with ideas the most distracting
to his peace. - A smile on the face of his wife, seemed to him to
proceed from the joy of having made some new conquest; a grave or
melancholly look, from a disappointment on the account of a favourite
gallant: yet as her person was the least thing he was tenacious of,
the behaviour of others gave him greater pain than any thing she could
do herself; - whoever spoke handsomely of her, he imagined insulted
him; and those who mentioned her not at all, he thought were sensible
of her levity, and his misfortune: - every thing he saw or heard,
seemed to him a sad memento of his dishonour; and though he could not
assure himself she had in fact been guilty of a breach of her virtue,
he was very certain she had been so of that reserve and modesty which
is the most distinguishable characteristic of it, and took from him
the power of vindicating her innocence, or his own honour even though
he had believed them safe, as becomes a husband, whose wife is more
cautious of her conduct in this point.

Too delicate of the censure of the world, it gave him the utmost
anxiety how to carry himself, so as not to afford any room to have it
said he was either a jealous, or a too credulous husband; yet in spite
of all his care, he incurred both these characters: - those who had
heard of his sending her into the country, without being acquainted
with the motives for his so doing, looked on him as the former; and
those who saw her manner of behaviour, and the seeming politeness of
his treatment of her, imagined him the latter: - so difficult is it for
any one, who only sees the outside of things, to judge what they are
in reality; yet the vanity of having it believed they are let into
secrets, makes a great many people invent circumstances, and then
relate for matters of fact, what are indeed no more than the
suggestions of imagination, or, what is yet worse, the coinage of
their own brain, without believing themselves what they take upon them
to report to others.

This undoubtedly happened on the score of Natura and his wife, and
occasioned not only many idle stories at tea-table conversation, but
also many oblique hints to be sometimes given to himself, which,
perhaps, there was not the least grounds for, but which greatly added
to his disquiets; as when we think we have reason to believe part, we
are ready to give credit to all we hear, especially in cases of this
nature; it being the peculiar property of jealousy, to force the mind
to grasp with eagerness, at every thing that tends to render it more
afflicted and perplexed.






BOOK the Third.




CHAP. I.

Shews in what manner anger and revenge operate on the mind, and how
ambition is capable of stifling both, in a remarkable instance, that
_private injuries_, how great soever, may seem of no weight, when
_public grandeur_ requires they should be looked over.


Nothing is so violent as anger in its first emotions, it takes the
faculties by surprize, and rushes upon the soul like an impetuous
torrent, bearing down all before it: its strength, however, is owing
to its suddenness; for being raised by some new and unexpected
accident or provocation, reason has no warning of its approach, and
consequently is off her guard, and without any immediate power of
acting: the sweetest, and most gentle disposition, is not always a
sufficient defence for the mind, against the attacks of this furious
passion, and may be hurried by it to deeds the most opposite to its
own nature; but then as it is fierce, it is transient also; should its
force continue, it would lose its name, and be no longer anger, but
revenge; which, though the worst and most fiend-like propensity of a
vicious inclination, is sometimes excited by circumstances, that seem
in a great measure to alleviate the blackness of it: - repeated and
unprovoked insults, friendship and love abused, injuries in our
person, our fortune, or reputation, will sour the softest temper, and
are apt to make us imagine it is an injustice to our selves, not to
retaliate in kind, the ill treatment we receive. Religion, indeed,
forbids us to take our own parts thus far, and philosophy teaches,
that it is nobler to forgive, than punish wrongs; but every one is not
so happy as to have either of these helps; and I do not find but those
who boast both of them in the most superlative degree, stand in need
of something more, to enable them to restrain this prevailing impulse;
and that it is not so much to the precepts they receive from others,
as to some dictates from within, that many people are indebted for the
reputation of patience and forbearance.

It is the peculiar providence of Heaven, as I took notice in the
beginning of this work, that the more ignoble passions of human
nature, are, generally speaking, opposites, and by that means serve as
a curb to bridle the inordinancy of each other; so that, though _one
alone_ would be pernicious to society, and render the person possessed
of it obnoxious to the world, _many_ will prevent the hurt, and make
the man himself tolerable.

The adventure I am now going to relate, will prove that Natura had the
greatest excitements, and the greatest justification both for wrath
and revenge that could possibly be offered to any one man: yet did
another passion, not more excusable than either of these, suppress all
the turbulent emotions of both, and quench the boiling flames within
his soul, insomuch as to make him appear all calmness and
contentedness.

But though I made use of the word passion to express the now
prevailing propensity of Natura's soul, I do not think that ambition,
strictly speaking, can come under that denomination: - to me it rather
seems the effect of an assemblage of other passions, than a passion
simple of itself, and natural to the mind of man; and I believe,
whoever examines it to the fountain head, will find it takes its
origin from pride and envy, and is nourished by self-love, nor ever
appears in any great degree, where these do not abound. - Were it born
with us, there would doubtless be some indications of it in
childhood, but it is observable, that not till man arrives at
maturity, and even not then, unless the sight of objects above himself
excites it, he discovers the least sensation of any such emotion. - In
fine, it is an inclination rarely known in youth, ordinarily declines
in age, and never exerts itself with vigour, as in the middle stage of
life, which I reckon to be from about five-and-twenty to fifty, or
somewhat more, according to the strength of the natural stamina, or
constitution. - But to go on with my history.

Since Natura had been in what they call a settled state in the world,
it had always been his custom to distinguish the anniversary of that
day which gave him birth, by providing a polite entertainment for his
friends and kindred: he had now attained to his fortieth year, and
though it had been that in which he had known more poignant disquiets,
than in any one of his whole life before; yet thinking that to neglect
the observation of it now, would give occasion for remarks on his
reasons for so doing, he resolved to treat it with the usual ceremony.

It was in that delightful season of the year, when nature, adorned
with all her charms, invites the senses to taste that regale in the
open air, which the most elegant and best concerted entertainments
within doors cannot atone for the want of. After dinner was over, the
whole company which was pretty numerous, adjourned from the table to
the garden, a small, but well ordered spot of ground, at the lower end
of which was a green-house, furnished with many curious exotic plants.
While Natura was shewing this collection to those of his guests, who
had a taste that way, others were diverting themselves with walking in
the alleys, or set down in arbors, according as their different
fancies inclined, as it is common for people to divide themselves into
little parties, when there are too many for all to share in a general
conversation.

As they were thus employed, the minister, who though he had not
thought it beneath the dignity of his character to do honour to the
birth-day of the husband of his neice, yet had his mind taken up with
other things than the amusements of the place, took Natura aside on a
sudden, and asked him if he had not a paper in his custody, which he
had some time before put into his hands; to which the other answering
in the affirmative, 'There are some things in it I do not well
remember,' said the great man; 'and a thought just now occurs to me,
in which they may be of use': - Natura then offered to fetch it; 'No,'
replied the other, 'I will go with you, and we will examine it
together.'

There was no need of making any apology to the company, they being, as
I have already said, dispersed in several parts of the garden; but had
they not been so, the statesman was absolute master wherever he came,
and no one would have taken umbrage at Natura's following him.

They went hastily up stairs together, and the door of a room, thro'
which they were to pass to Natura's study, being shut, he gave a push
against it with his foot, and it being but slightly fastened,
immediately flew open, and discovered a sight no less unexpected than
shocking to both; - the wife, and own brother of Natura, on a couch,
and in a posture which could leave no room to doubt of the motive
which had induced them to take the opportunity of the company
separating themselves, to retire, without being missed, which, but for
this accident, they probably would not have been.

It is easy to conceive what a husband must feel in so alarming a
circumstance, nor will any one wonder that Natura behaved in the
manner he did, in the first emotions of a rage, which might very well
be justified by the cause that excited it. - Not having a sword on, he
flew to the chimney, on each side of which hung a pistol; he snatched
one off the hook, and was going to revenge the injury he had received
on one or both the guilty persons, when the minister, stepping
between, beat down that arm which held the instrument of death, crying
at the same time, 'What, are you a madman! - would you to punish them
expose yourself!' - The passion with which Natura was overwhelmed was
too mighty for his breast; it stopped the passage of his words, and
all he could bring out was 'villain!' - 'whore' - while those he called
so, made their escape from his fury, by running out of the room. In
attempting to follow them he was still with-held; and the minister
having with much ado got the pistol from him, began to expostulate
with him, in order to disarm his mind from pursuing any future
revenge, as he had done his hand from executing the present.

'Consider,' said the statesman, 'that these are but slips of nature,
that there are in this town a thousand husbands in the same
situation: - indeed the affair happening with your own brother, very
much enhances the crime and the provocation; but as the thing is done,
and there is no remedy, it will but add to your disgrace to make it
public.'

Little would it have been in the power of all the arguments in the
world, if made use of by any other person, to have given a check to
that just indignation Natura was inflamed with: but as patience and
moderation were prescribed him by one to whom he was indebted for all
the grandeur he enjoyed, and by whose favour alone he could hope for
the continuance, of it, he submitted to the task, difficult as it was,
and consented to make no noise of the affair. The minister assured him
he would oblige his brother to exchange the commission he was at
present possessed of, for one in a regiment that was going to
Gibraltar, 'which,' said he, 'will be a sufficient punishment for his
crime, and at the same time rid you of the sight of a person who
cannot but be now detestable to you; - as to your wife, I expect you
will permit her to continue in your house, in consideration of her
relation to me, but shall not interfere with the manner of your living
together; - that shall be at your own discretion.'

As neither of them imagined the lady, after what had happened, would
have courage enough to go down to the company, it was agreed between
them to make her excuse, by saying, a sudden disorder in her head had
obliged her to absent herself.

Natura cleared up his brow as much as it was possible for him to do in
such a circumstance, and returned with the minister to his guests,
among whom, as he supposed, he found neither his wife nor brother; as
for the latter, much notice was not taken of his absence, but the
ladies, by this time, were full of enquiries after her; on which he
immediately made the pretence above-mentioned; but unluckily, one of
the company having been bred to physic, urged permission to see her,
in order to prescribe some recipe for her ailment. - Natura was now
extremely at a loss what to do, till the minister, who never wanted an
expedient, relieved him, by telling the doctor, that his neice had
been accustomed to these kind of fits from her infancy, that it was
only silence and repose which recovered her, which being now gone to
take, any interruption would be of more prejudice than benefit.

This passed very well, and no farther mention was made of her; but the
accident occasioned the company to take leave much sooner than
otherwise they would have done, very much to the ease of Natura, who
had been in the most intolerable constraint, to behave so as to
conceal the truth, and longed to be alone, to give a loose to the
distracting passions of his soul.

The more he ruminated on the wrongs he had sustained, the more
difficult he found it to preserve that moderation the minister had
enjoined, and he had promised: he had long but too much reason to
believe his wife was false; but the thought that she had entered into
a criminal conversation with his own brother, rendered the guilt
doubly odious in them both. - Had not his own eyes convinced him of the
horrid truth, he could have given credit to no other testimony, that a
brother, whom he had always treated with the utmost affection, and
whose fortune it had been his care to promote, should have dared to
harbour even the most distant wish of dishonouring his wife. He
seemed, in his eyes, the most culpable of the two, and thought the
banishment intended for him much too small a punishment for so
atrocious a crime. It is certain that this young gentleman had not
only broke through the bands of duty, honour, gratitude, and every
social obligation, but had also sinned against nature itself, by
adding incest to adultery. - Natura could not indeed consider him as
any thing but a monster, and that as such he ought to be cut off from
the face of the earth; and neither reason nor humanity, could alledge
any thing against the dictates of a revenge, which by the most
unconcerned and disinterested person could not be called
unjust. - Strongly did its emotions work within his soul, and he was
more than once on the point of going in search of him, in order to
satiate its most impatient thirst, but was as often restrained, by
reflecting on the consequences. - 'Suppose,' said he to himself, 'I
should escape that death the law inflicts for murder, in consideration
of the provocation, I cannot hope to preserve my employments. - I must
retire from the world, live an obscure life the whole remainder of my
days, and the whole shameful adventure being divulged, will render me
the common topic of table conversation, and entail dishonour and
contempt upon my son.'

Thus did ambition get the better of resentment; - thus did the love of
grandeur extirpate all regard of true honour, and the shame of private
contempt from the world lie stifled in the pride of public homage.

The minister in the mean time kept his word; he let the offending
brother know it was his pleasure he should dispose of his commission
in the guards, and purchase one in a regiment he named to him, which
was very speedily to embark for Gibraltar: the young gentleman obeyed
the injunction, and doubtless was not sorry to quit a place, where
some accident or other, in spite of all the care he had resolved to
take, might possibly bring him to the sight of a brother he had so
greatly injured, the thoughts of whose just reproaches were more
terrible to him, than any thing else that could befal him.

The wife of Natura being also privately admonished by her uncle how to
behave, kept her chamber for some days, not only to give the better
colour to the pretence had been made of her indisposition, but also to
avoid the presence of her husband, till the first emotions of his fury
should be a little abated; - he, on the other hand, profited by this
absence, to bring himself to a resolution how to behave, when the
shock of seeing her should arrive: - as her crime was past recal,
reproaches and remonstrances would be in vain to retrieve her honour,
or his peace; and if they even should work her into penitence, what
would it avail? unless to soften him into a pity, which would only
serve to render him more uneasy, as there was now no possibility of
living with her as a wife. - Having, therefore, well weighed and
considered all these things, it seemed best to him to say nothing to
her of what had happened, and indeed to avoid speaking to her at all,
except in public.

What she thought of a behaviour she had so little reason to expect,
and what effect it produced on her future conduct, shall hereafter be
related: I shall only say at present, that Natura gave himself no pain
to consider what might be her sentiments on the occasion, as long as
he found her uncle was perfectly satisfied with his manner of acting
in this point, which he had no reason to doubt of, not only by the
assurances he gave him in words of his being so, but by a more
convincing and substantial proof, which was this; an envoy
extraordinary being about to be sent to a foreign court, on a very
important negociation, he had the honour of being recommended, as a
gentleman every way qualified for the duties of that post. - The
minister's choice of him was approved by the king and council, and he
set out on his embassy, with an equipage and state, which, joined to
the attention he gave to what he was employed in, greatly dissipated
the chagrin of his private affairs, and he seemed to have forgot, for
a time, not only the injuries he had received, but also even the
persons from whom he had received them.




CHAP. II.

Shews at what age men are most liable to the passion of grief: the
impatience of human nature under affliction, and the necessity there


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Online LibraryEliza Fowler HaywoodLife's Progress Through The Passions Or, The Adventures of Natura → online text (page 12 of 16)