Eliza Fowler Haywood.

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grandmother, who had also answered for her at the _font_, was courted
by a gentleman, to whom neither herself nor family having any thing to
object, she became a bride in a very few months, and went with her
husband to a seat he had at a considerable distance in the country.

This poor youth was now without any one, either to prevent him from
doing a fault, or to conceal it when committed; on the contrary, his
mother-in-law, having new-modelled all the family, and retained only
such servants as thought it their duty to study nothing but to humour
her, every little error in him was exaggerated, and he was represented
to his father as incorrigible, perverse, and all that is disagreeable
in nature.

I will not take upon me to determine whether, or not, the old
gentleman had altogether so ill an opinion of his son, as they
endeavoured to inspire him with; but it is certain, that whatever his
thoughts were on the matter, he found himself obliged for a quiet life
to use him with a good deal of severity, which, either because he
believed it unjust, or that it was disagreeable to his own
disposition, he grew very weary of in a short time, and to put an end
to it, resolved to send the child to a boarding-school, tho' he had
always declared against that sort of education, and frequently said,
that though these great schools might improve the learning, they were
apt to corrupt the morals of youth.

Finding himself, however, under a kind of necessity for so doing,
nothing remained but the choice of a convenient place. The wife
proposed some part of Yorkshire, not only as the cheapest, but also
that by reason of the distance, she should not have the trouble of him
at home in the holidays; but to this it was not in her power to
prevail on his father to consent, and after many disputes between them
on it, Eton was at length pitched upon.

Natura heard of his intended removal with a perfect indifference: - if
the thoughts of parting from his father gave him any pain, it was
balanced by those of being eased of the persecuting of his stepmother;
but when all things were prepared for his journey, in which he was to
be accompanied by an old relation, who was to give the necessary
charge with him to those into whose care he should be committed, he
was taken suddenly ill on the very day he had been to take leave of
his kindred, and other friends in town.

His distemper proved to be the small-pox, but being of a very
favourable sort, he recovered in a short time, and lost nothing of his
handsomeness by that so-much-dreaded enemy to the face: there
remained, however, a little redness, which, till intirely worn off, it
was judged improper he should be sent where it was likely there might
be many young gentlemen, who having never experienced the same, would
take umbrage at the sight.

During the time of his indisposition he had been attended by an old
nurse, who had served in the same quality to his mother, and several
others of her family. - The tenderness this good creature shewed to
him, and the care she took to humour him in every thing, not only
while he continued in a condition, in which it might have been
dangerous to have put his spirits into the least agitation, but after
he was grown well enough to walk abroad, had made him become extremely
pettish and self-willed; which shews, that an over-indulgence to
youth, is no less prejudicial, than too much austerity. - Happy is it
for those who are brought up in a due proportion between these two
extremes; for as nature will be apt to fall into a dejection, if
pressed down with a constant, and uninterrupted severity, so it will
infallibly become arrogant and assuming, if suffered always to pursue
its own dictates. - Nothing is more evident, than that most of the
irregularities we see practised in the world, are owing originally to
a want of the medium I have been speaking of, in forming the mind
while it is pliable to impression.

This was not, however, the case of Natura; and though he would
doubtless have been what we call a spoiled child, had he been for any
length of time permitted to do just what he pleased, yet the nurse
being discharged, he fell again under the jurisdiction of his
mother-in-law, who had now more excuse than ever for treating him with
severity.

His father did not want understanding, but was a good deal more
indolent than befits a parent. - He had always been accustomed to live
at ease, and his natural aversion to all kinds of trouble, made him
not inspect into the manners or temperament of his son, with that care
he ought to have done. Whenever any complaints were made concerning
his behaviour, he would chide, and sometimes beat him, but seldom
examined how far he really merited those effects rather of others
resentment than his own. Sometimes he would ask him questions on his
progress in learning, and praise or dispraise, as he found occasion;
but he never discoursed with him on any other topics, nor took any
pleasure in instructing him in such things as are not to be taught in
schools, but which much more contribute to enlarge the mind; so that
had not Natura's own curiosity led him to examine into the sources,
first causes, and motives of what he was obliged to read, he would
have reaped no other benefit from his Greek and Latin authors, than
meerly the knowledge of their language.

Here I cannot help taking notice, that whatever inconveniences it may
occasion, curiosity is one of the greatest advantages we receive from
nature; it is that indeed from which all our knowledge is
derived. - Were it not for this propensity in ourselves, the sun, the
moon, and all the darling constellations which adorn the hemisphere,
would roll above our heads in vain: contented to behold their shine,
and feel their warmth, but ignorant of their motion and influence on
all beneath, half that admiration due to the Divine Architect, would
lye dormant in us. - Did not curiosity excite us to examine into the
nature of vegetables, their amazing rise, their progress, their deaths
and resurrections in the seasons allotted for these alternatives, we
should enjoy the fruits of the earth indeed, but enjoy them only in
common with the animals that feed upon it, or perhaps with less relish
than they do, as it is agreed their organs of sensation have a greater
share of poignancy than ours. - What is it but _curiosity_ which
renders study either pleasing or profitable to us? - The facts we read
of would soon slip through the memory, or if they retained any place
in it, could be of little advantage, without being acquainted with the
motives which occasioned them. By _curiosity_ we _examine_, by
_examining_ we _compare_, and by _comparing_ we are alone enabled to
form a right _judgment_, whether of things or persons.

We are told indeed of many jealousies, discontents, and quarrels,
which have been occasioned by this passion, among those who might
otherwise have lived in perfect harmony; and a man or woman, who has
the character of being too inquisitive, is shunned as dangerous to
society. - But what commendable quality is there that may not be
perverted, or what _virtue_ whose extreme does not border on a
_vice_? - Even _devotion_ itself should have its bounds, or it will
launch into _bigotry_ and _enthusiasm_; - _love_, the most _generous_
and _gentle_ of all the passions, when ill-placed, or unprescribed,
degenerates into the very _worst_; - _justice_ may be pursued till it
becomes _cruelty_; - _emulation_ indulged till it grows up to
_envy_; - _frugality_ to the most sordid _avarice_; and _courage_ to a
brutal _rashness_; - and so I am ready to allow that _curiosity_, from
whence all the _good_ in us originally arises, may also be productive
of the _greatest mischiefs_, when not, like every other emotion of the
soul, kept within its due limits, and suffered to exert itself only on
warrantable objects.

It should therefore be the first care of every one to regulate this
propensity in himself, as well as of those under whose tuition he may
happen to be, whether parents or governors. - Nature, and the writings
of learned men, who from time to time have commented on all that has
happened in nature, certainly afford sufficient matter to gratify the
most enquiring mind, without descending to such mean trifling
inquisitions, as can no way improve itself, and may be of prejudice to
others.

I have dwelt the longer on this head, because it seems to me, that on
the _well_, or _ill direction_ of that curiosity, which is inherent to
us all, depends, in a great measure, the peace and happiness of
society.

Natura, like all children, uncircumscribed by precept, had not only a
desire of prying into those things which it was his advantage to know,
but also into those which he had much better have been totally
ignorant of, and which the discovery of his being too well skilled in,
frequently occasioned him much ill will, especially when he was found
to have too far dived into those little secrets which will ever be
among servants in large families. But reason was not ripe enough in
him to enable him to distinguish between what were proper subjects for
the exercise of this passion, and what were not so.

That impediment, however, which had hitherto retarded his departure
being removed, he now set out for Eton, under the conduct of the
abovementioned kinsman, who placed him in a boarding-house very near
the school, and took his leave, after having given him such
admonitions as he thought necessary for a person of his years, when
more intrusted to himself than he before had been.

But Natura was not yet arrived at an age wherein it could be expected
he should reap much benefit from advice. A settled resolution, and the
power of judging what is our real interest to do, are the perfections
of maturity, and happy is it for the few who even then attain
them. - _Precept_ must be constantly and artfully instilled to make any
impression on the mind, and is rarely fixed there, till experience
confirms it; therefore, as both these were wanting to form his
behaviour, what could be hoped from it, but such a one as was
conformable to the various passions which agitate human nature, and
which every day grow stronger in us, at least till they have attained
a certain crisis, after which they decay, in proportion as they
increased.

As _wrath_ is one of the most violent emotions of the soul, so I think
it is one of the first that breaks out into effects: it owes its birth
indeed to _pride_; for we are never angry, unless touched by a real,
or imaginary insult; but, by the offspring chiefly is the parent seen.
_Pride_ seldom, I believe it may be said, _never_, wholly dies in us,
tho' it may be concealed; whereas _wrath_ diminishes as our _reason_
increases, and seems intirely evaporated after the heat of youth is
over: when a man therefore has divested himself of the _one_, no
tokens are left to distinguish the _other_. - Sometimes, indeed, we
shall see an extreme impetuosity, even to old age, but then, it is out
of the ordinary course of nature, and besides, the person possessed of
it must be endued with a small share of sound understanding, to give
any marks of such a propensity remaining in him.

It is with the utmost justice, that by the system of the _christian_
religion, _pride_ is intitled the original sin, not only as it was
that of the fallen angels, but also as it is certainly the
fountain-head from which all our other vices are derived. - It is by
the dictates of this pernicious passion we are inflamed with _wrath_,
and wild ambition, - instigated to covetousness, - to envy, - to revenge,
and in fine, to stop at nothing which tends to self-gratification, be
our desires of what kind soever.

During the school hours, Natura, as well as the other young gentlemen,
was under too much awe of the master to give any loose to his temper;
but when these were over, and they went together into the fields, or
any other place to divert themselves, frequent quarrels among them
ensued; but above all between those who boarded in the same house;
little jealousies concerning some imaginary preference given to the
one more than the other, occasioned many bitter taunts and fleers,
which sometimes rose to blows and bloody noses; so that the good
people with whom they were, had enough to do, to keep them in any
tolerable decorum.

There is also another branch of _pride_ which is visible in all youth,
before consideration takes place, and that is, treating with contempt
whoever seems our inferior. - A boy who was allowed less money, or wore
plainer cloaths, was sure to be the jest of all the rest. Natura was
equally guilty of this fault with his companions; but when the
sarcasms became too severe, and the object of them appeared any way
dejected, his generosity often got the better of his arrogance, and he
would take part with the weakest side, even till he drew on himself
part of those reflections he averted from the other; but this never
happened without his resenting it with the utmost violence; for
patience and forbearance were virtues not to be expected in this stage
of life.

He was a great lover of gaming, whether of chucking, tossing up for
money, or cards, and extremely ill-humoured and quarrelsome whenever
luck was not on his side; which shews, that whatever people may
pretend, avarice is at the bottom, and occasions all the fondness so
many testify for play.

As for the other ordinary diversions of youth, none could pursue them
with more eagerness, nor was less deterred by any ill accident which
befel either himself, or any of his companions; one of whom having
been near drowning before his face, as they were swimming together,
the sight did not hinder him from plunging into the same stream every
day; nor could he be prevailed upon from ringing, as often as he had
an opportunity, though he had been thrown one day by the breaking of
the bell-rope, a great height from the ground, and in the fall
dislocated his shoulder, and bruised his body all over. - But it is not
to be wondered at, that boys should remember the misfortunes their
pleasures have brought on them no longer than the smart continues,
when men of the ripest, and sometimes most advanced years, are not to
be warned from the gratification of their passions, by the worst, and
most frequently repeated ills.

He, notwithstanding, made a very good progress in those things in
which he was instructed, which as yet were only Latin and Greek; and
when the time of breaking up arrived, and he returned to his father's
house, none who examined him concerning his learning, could suspect
there was either any want of application in himself, or care in his
master.

His three months of absence having rendered him a kind of stranger at
home, his mother-in-law used him with somewhat more civility, and his
father seemed highly satisfied with him; all his kindred and friends
caressed him, and made him many little presents of such things as
befitted his years; but that which crowned his felicity, was the
company of a young girl, a near relation of his stepmother's, who was
come to pass some time with her, and see London, which she had never
been in before.




CHAP. III.

The early influence which the difference of sex excites, is here
exemplified in the fond but innocent affection of Natura and Delia.


Natura being much of the same age with Delia (for so I shall call her)
and both equally playful, spirituous, and good-natured, it is hard to
say which of them took the greatest delight in the society of the
other. Natura was never well out of the presence of Delia, nor Delia
contented but when Natura was with her.

In walking, dancing, playing at cards, these amiable children were
always partners; and it was remarkable, that in the latter of these
diversions, Natura was never uneasy at losing his money to Delia, nor
resented any little railleries she treated him with on account of his
ill luck, or want of skill in the game, as he had been accustomed to
do whenever he received the like from any of his companions. - So
forcibly does the difference of sex operate, even before that
difference is considered.

Natura was yet too young by much, to know wherefore he found in
himself this complaisance, or how it came to pass, that he so much
preferred a beautiful and good-humoured girl, to a boy possessed of
the same qualifications; but he was not ignorant that he did so, and
has often wondered (as he afterwards confessed) what it was that made
him feel so much pleasure, whenever, in innocently romping together,
he happened to catch hold of her in his arms; and what strange impulse
it was, that rendered him so reluctant to part with her out of that
posture, that she was obliged to struggle with all her strength to
disengage herself.

Hence it is plain, that the passion of love is part of our
composition, implanted in the soul for the propagation of the world;
and we ought not, in my opinion, to be too severe on the errors which,
meerly and abstracted from any other motive than itself, it sometimes
influences us to be guilty of. - The laws, indeed, which prohibit any
amorous intercourse between the sexes, unless authored by the
solemnities of marriage, are without all question, excellently well
calculated for the good of society, because without such a
restriction, there would be no such thing as order in the world. I am
therefore far from thinking lightly of that truly sacred institution,
when I say, that there are some cases, in which the pair so offending,
merit rather our pity, than that abhorrence which those of a more
rigid virtue, colder constitution, or less under the power of
temptation, are apt to testify on such occasion.

Rarely, however, it happens, that love is guilty of any thing capable
of being condemned, even by the most austere; most of the faults
committed under that sanction, being in reality instigated by some
other passion, such as avarice and ambition in the one sex, and a
flame which is too often confounded and mistaken for a pure affection
in the other. - Yet such is the ill-judging, or careless determination
of the world, that without making any allowances for circumstances, it
censures all indiscriminately alike.

The time prefixed for Natura's remaining with his father being but
fourteen days, as they grew near expired, the family began to talk of
his going, and orders were given to bespeak a place for him in the
stage-coach: he had been extremely pleased with Eton, nor had he met
with any cause of disgust, either at the school or house where he was
boarded, yet did the thoughts of returning thither give him as much
disquiet as his young heart was capable of conceiving. - The parting
from Delia was terrible to him, and the nearer the cruel moment
approached, the more his anxiety increased. - She seemed also grieved
to lose so agreeable a companion, and would often tell him she wished
he was to stay as long as she did.

Though nothing could be more innocent than these declarations on both
sides, yet what she said had such an effect on Natura, that he
resolved to delay his return to Eton as long as possible; and that
passion which he already felt the symptoms of, though equally ignorant
of their nature or end, being always fertile in invention, put a
stratagem into his head, which he flattered himself would succeed for
a somewhat farther continuance of his present happiness.

The day before that prefixed for his going, he pretended a violent
pain in his head and stomach, and to give the greater credit to his
pretended indisposition, would eat nothing; and as it drew toward
evening, cried out he was very sick, and must go to bed. - His father,
who had the most tender affection for him, could not think of sending
him away in that condition. - He went in the morning to his bedside,
and finding him, as he imagined, a little feverish, presently ordered
a physician, who did not fail to countenance the young gentleman's
contrivance, either that he really thought him out of order, or that
he had rendered himself so in good earnest, through abstaining from
food, a thing very uncommon with him. A prescription was sent to the
apothecary for him, and a certain regimen directed.

But poor Natura soon found this did not answer his purpose: - he was in
the same house indeed with his beloved Delia, but had not the pleasure
of her company, nor even that of barely seeing her, she being forbid
going near his chamber, on account of the apprehensions they had that
his complaint might terminate in a fever, and endanger her health.

This, however, was more than he knew, and resentment for her supposed
indifference, joined with the weariness of living in the manner he
did, made him resolve to grow well again, and chuse to go to Eton,
rather than suffer so much for one who seemed so little to regard him.

Accordingly, when they brought him something had been ordered for him
to take, he refused it, saying, he had not occasion for any more
physic, and immediately got up, and dressed himself, in spite of all
the servant that attended him could do to prevent it. - Word being
carried to his father of what he was doing, he imagined him delirious,
and immediately got up, and went into his room, nor though he found
him intirely cool, could be perswaded from his first opinion. - The
doctor was again sent for, who unwilling to lose his perquisite, made
a long harangue on the nature of internal fevers, and very learnedly
proved, or seemed to prove, that they might operate so far as to
affect the brain, without the least outward symptom.

Natura could not forbear laughing within himself, to hear this great
man so much mistaken; but when they told him he must take his physic,
and go to bed, or at least be confined to his chamber, he absolutely
refused both, and said he was as well as ever he was in his life. - All
he said, however, availed nothing, and his father was about to make
use of his authority to force him to obedience to the doctor's
prescription, when finding no other way to avoid it, he fell on his
knees, and with tears in his eyes, confessed he had only counterfeited
sickness, to delay being sent to Eton again; begged his father to
forgive him; said he was sorry for having attempted to deceive him,
but was ready to go whenever he pleased.

The father was strangely amazed at the trick had been put upon him;
and after some severe reprimands on the occasion, asked what he had to
complain of at Eton, that had rendered him so unwilling to return.
Natura hesitated at this demand, but could not find in his heart to
forge any unjust accusation concerning his usage at that place, and at
last said, that indeed it was only because he had a mind to stay a
little longer at home with him. On which he told him he was an idle
boy, but he must not expect that wheedle would serve his turn; for
since he was not sick, he must go to school the next day: Natura
renewed his intreaties for pardon, and assured him he now desired
nothing more than to do as he commanded.

This story made a great noise in the family, and the mother-in-law did
not fail to represent it in its worst colours to every one that came
to the house; but Natura having obtained forgiveness from his father,
did not give himself much trouble as to the rest. - Delia seemed
rejoiced to see him come down stairs again, but he looked shy upon
her, and told her he could not have thought she would have been so
unkind as not to have come to see him; but on her acquainting him with
the reason of her absence, and protesting it was not her fault, he
grew as fond of her as ever; and among a great many other tender
expressions, 'I wish,' said he, 'I were a man, and you a
woman.' - 'Why?' returned she; 'because,' cried he, 'we would be
married.' - 'O fye,' answered the little coquet, 'I should hate you, if
you thought of any such thing; for I will never be married.' Then
turned away with an affected scornfulness, and yet looked kindly
enough upon him from the corner of one eye. - 'I am sure,' resumed he,
'if you loved me as well as I do you, you would like to be married to
me, for then we should be always together.' - He was going on with
something farther in this innocent courtship, when some one or other
of the family, coming into the room, broke it off; and whether it was
resumed afterwards, or not, I cannot pretend to determine, nor whether
he had opportunity to take any particular leave of her before his
departure, which happened, as his father had threatened, the
succeeding day.




CHAP. IV.

Shews, that till we arrive at a certain age, the impressions made on
us are easily erased; and also that when those which bear the name


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Online LibraryEliza Fowler HaywoodLife's Progress Through The Passions Or, The Adventures of Natura → online text (page 2 of 16)