Eliza Fowler Haywood.

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

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of love are once rooted in the mind, there are no lengths to which
we may not be transported by that passion, if great care is not
taken to prevent its getting the ascendant over reason.


The change of scene did not make any change in the sentiments of our
young lover: Delia was always in his head, and none of the diversions
he took with his companions could banish her from his thoughts; yet
did she not so wholly engross his attention, as to render him remiss
in his studies; his ambition, as I said before, would not suffer him
to neglect the means of acquiring praise, and nothing was so
insupportable to him as to find at any time another boy had merited a
greater share of it: by which we may perceive that this very passion,
unruly as it is, and in spite of the mischiefs it sometimes occasions,
is also bestowed upon us for our emolument; and when properly
directed, is the greatest excitement to all that is noble and
generous, Natura seldom had the mortification of seeing any of the
same standing with himself placed above him; and whenever such an
accident happened, he was sure to retrieve it by an extraordinary
assiduity.

But to shew that love and business are not wholly incompatible, his
attachment to Delia did not take him off his learning, nor did his
application to learning make him forgetful of Delia. He frequently
thought of her, wished to see her, and longed for the next
breaking-up, that he might re-enjoy that satisfaction, as he knew she
intended to stay the whole winter at his father's; but now arrived the
time to prove the inconstancy of human nature: he became acquainted
with some other little misses, and by degrees found charms in them,
which made those he had observed in Delia appear less admirable in his
eyes; the fondness he had felt for her being in reality instigated
chiefly by being the only one of his own age he had conversed with, a
more general acquaintance with others not only wore off the impression
she had made, but also kept him from receiving too deep a one from the
particular perfections of any of those he now was pleased with: - it is
likely, however, that the sight of her might have revived in him some
part of his former tenderness, had he found her, as he expected he
should, on his next coming to London: but an elder sister she had in
the country, happening to die, she was sent for home, in order to
console their mother for that loss; so that he had not any trial on
that account; and tho' he thought he should have been glad of her
society, during his stay in town, yet her absence gave him small
anxiety; and the variety of company which came to the house on account
of the baptism of a little son his mother-in-law had lately brought
into the world, very well atoned for the want of Delia.

Nothing material happening to him during his stay in town at this
time, nor in any other of the many visits he made his father while he
continued at Eton, I shall pass over those years, and only say, that
as he grew nearer to manhood, his passions gathered strength in
proportion; and tho' he increased in knowledge, yet it was not that
sort of knowledge which enables us to judge of the emotions we feel
within ourselves, or to set curbs on those, which to indulge renders
us liable to inconveniences.

All those propensities, of which he gave such early indications, and
which I attempted to describe in the beginning of this book, now
displayed themselves with greater vigour, and according as exterior
objects presented, or circumstances excited, ruled with alternate
sway: sparing sometimes to niggardliness, at others profusely
liberal; - now pleased, now angry; - submissive this moment, arrogant
and assuming the next; - seldom in a perfect calm, and frequently
agitated to excess. - Hence arose contests and quarrels, even with
those whose company in some humours he was most delighted
with; - insolence to such whose way of thinking did not happen to tally
with his own, and as partial an attachment to those who either did, or
pretended to enter into his sentiments.

But as it was only in trivial matters, and such as were meerly boyish,
he yet had opportunity of exercising the passions, his behaviour only
served to shew what man would be, when arrived at maturity, if not
restrained by precept.

He had attained to little more than sixteen years of age, when he had
gone through all the learning of the school, and was what they call
fit for the university, to which his father not intending him for the
study of any particular science, did not think it necessary to send
him, but rather to bestow on him those other accomplishments, which
are immediately expected from a gentleman of an estate; such as
fencing, dancing, and music, and accordingly provided masters to
instruct him in each, as soon as he came home, which was about the
time of life I mentioned.

As he was now past the age of being treated as a meer child, and also
knew better how it would become him to behave to the wife of his
father, his mother-in-law seemed to live with him in harmony enough,
and the family at least was not divided into parties as it had been,
and eighteen or nineteen months past over, without any rub in our
young gentleman's tranquility.

Since his childish affection for Delia, he had not been possessed of
what could be called a strong inclination for any particular female;
though, as many incidents in his life afterwards proved, he had a no
less amorous propensity than any of his sex, and was equally capable
of going the greatest lengths for its gratification.

He was but just turned of nineteen, when happening to pass by the
playhouse one evening, he took it into his head to go in, and see the
last act of a very celebrated tragedy acted that night. - But it was
not the poet's or the player's art which so much engaged his
attention, as the numerous and gay assembly which filled every part of
the house. - He was in the back bench of one of the front boxes, from
which he had a full prospect of all who sat below: - but in throwing
his eyes around on every dazzling belle, he found none so agreeable to
him as a young lady who was placed in the next division of the
box: - her age did not seem to exceed his own, and tho' less splendid
in garb and jewels than several who sat near her, had something in her
eyes and air, that, in his opinion, at least, infinitely exceeded them
all.

When the curtain dropt, and every one was crowding out as fast they
could, he lost not sight of her; and finding when they came out to the
door, that she, and a companion she had with her, somewhat older than
herself, seemed distressed for chairs, which by reason of the great
concourse, seemed difficult to be got, he took the opportunity, in a
very polite manner, to offer himself for their protector, as he
perceived they had neither friend nor servant with them. They accepted
it with a great deal of seeming modesty, and he conducted them through
a passage belonging to the house which he knew was less thronged, and
thence put them into a hackney coach, having first obtained their
permission to attend them to their lodgings, or wherever else they
pleased to be set down.

When they arrived at the place to which they gave the coachman a
direction, he would have taken leave of them at the door; but they
joined in entreating him, that since he had been at the pains of
bringing them safe home, he would come in and refresh himself with
such as their apartment could supply: there required little invitation
to a thing his heart so sincerely wished, tho' his fears of being
thought too presuming, would not suffer him to ask it.

He went up stairs, and found rooms decently furnished, and a
maid-servant immediately spread the table with a genteel cold
collation; but what he looked upon as the most elegant part of the
entertainment, was the agreeable chit-chat during the time of supper,
and a song the lady who had so much attracted him, gave him, at her
friend's request, after the cloth was taken away.

It growing late, his fears of offending where he already had such an
inclination to oblige, made him about to take his leave; but could not
do it without intreating permission to wait on them the next day, to
receive pardon, as he said, for having by his long stay, broke in upon
the hours should have been devoted to repose. Tho' this compliment,
and indeed all the others he had made, were directed to both, the
regard his eyes paid to the youngest, easily shewed the preference he
secretly gave to her; and as neither of these women wanted experience
in such affairs, knew very well how to make the most of any advantage.
'If this lodging were mine,' replied the eldest briskly, 'I should
have anticipated the request you make; but as I am only a guest, and
take part of my friend's bed to-night on account of the hour, will
take upon me to say, she ought not to refuse greater favours to so
accomplished a gentleman, and from whom we have received so much
civility.'

Natura did not fail to answer this gallantry in a proper manner, and
departed highly satisfied with his adventure; tho' probably could find
less reasons for being so, than those with whom he thought it the
greatest happiness of his life to have become acquainted.

Wonderful are the workings of love on a young heart: pleasure has the
same effect as pain, and permits as little rest: it was not in the
power of Natura to close his eyes for a long time after he went to
bed. - He recollected every thing the dear creature had said; - in what
manner she looked, when speaking such or such a thing; - how inchanting
she sang, and what a genteelness accompanied all she did: - when he
fell into a slumber, it was only to bring her more perfectly into his
mind; whatever had past in the few hours he had been with her,
returned, with additional graces on her part, and her idea had in
sleep all the effect her real presence could have had in waking.

With what care did he dress himself the next day: - what fears was he
not possessed of, lest all about him should not be exact: - never yet
had he consulted the great glass with such assiduity; - never till now
examined how far he had been indebted to nature for personal
endowments.

His impatience would have carried him to pay a morning visit, but he
feared that would be too great a freedom, and therefore restrained
himself till after dinner, though what he eat could scarce be called
so; the food his _mind_ languished for, being wanting, the body was
too complaisant to indulge itself. - After rising from table, not a
minute passed without looking on his watch, and at the same time
cursing the tedious seconds, which seemed to him increased from sixty
to six hundred. - The hour of five at length put an end to his
suspence, and he took his way to the dear, well-remembered mansion of
his adorable.

He found her at home, and in a careless, but most becoming
dishabillee; the other lady was still with her; and told him she had
tarried thus long with Miss Harriot, for so she called her, meerly to
participate of the pleasure of his good company. Harriot, in a gay
manner, accused her of envy, and both having a good share of wit, the
conversation might have been pleasing enough to a man less
prepossessed than Natura.

The tea equipage was set, and the ceremony of that being over, cards
were proposed; as they were three, Ombre was the game, at which they
played some hours, and Natura was asked to sup. - After what I have
said, I believe the reader has no occasion to be told that he complied
with a pleasure which was but too visible in his eyes. - The time
passed insensibly on, or at least seemed to do so to the friend of
Harriot, till the watchman reminding her it was past eleven, she
started up, and pretending a surprize, that the night was so far
advanced, told Natura that she must exact a second proof of that
gallantry he had shewn the night before, for she had not courage to go
either in a chair or a coach alone at that late hour: - this doubtless
was what he would have offered, had she been silent on the occasion;
and a coach being ordered to the door, he took leave of miss Harriot,
though not till he had obtained leave to testify his respects in some
future visits.

Had Natura appeared to have more experience of the town, the lady he
gallanted home would certainly not have entertained him with the
discourse she did; but his extreme youth, and the modest manner of his
behaviour on the first sight of him, convinced them he was a person
such as they wished to have in their power, and to that end had
concerted measures between themselves, to perfect the conquest which,
it was easy to perceive, one of them had begun to make over him.

Harriot being the person with whom they found he was enamoured, it was
the business of the other to do for her what, it may be supposed, she
would have done for her on the like occasion. - Natura was no sooner in
the coach with her, than she began to magnify the charms of her fair
friend, but above all extolled her virtue, her prudence, and good
humour: - then, as if only to give a proof of her patience and
fortitude, that her parents dying when she was an infant, had left her
with a vast fortune in the hands of a guardian, who attempting to
defraud her of the greatest part, she was now at law with him, 'and is
obliged to live, till the affair is decided,' said this artful woman,
'in the narrow manner you see, - without a coach, - without any
equipage; and yet she bears it all with chearfulness: - she has a
multiplicity of admirers,' added she, 'but she assures all of them,
that she will never marry, till she knows what present she shall be
able to give with herself to the man she shall make choice of.'

Till now Natura had never asked himself the question how far his
passion for Harriot extended, or with what view he should address her;
but when he heard she was a woman of condition, and would have a
fortune answerable to her birth, he began to think it would be happy
for him if he could obtain her love on the most honourable terms.

It would be too tedious to relate all the particulars of his
courtship; so I shall only say, that humble and timid as the first
emotions of a sincere passion are, he was emboldened, by the
extraordinary complaisance of Harriot, to declare it to her in a few
days. - The art with which she managed on this occasion, might have
deceived the most knowing in the sex; it is not, therefore,
surprizing, that he should be caught in a snare, which, though ruinous
as it had like to have been, had in it allurements scarce possible to
be withstood at his time of life.

It was by such degrees as the most modest virgin need not blush to
own, that she confessed herself sensible of an equal tenderness for
him; and nothing is more strange, than that in the transport he was
in, at the condescensions she made him, that he did not immediately
press for the consummation of his happiness by marriage; but tho' he
wished for nothing so much, yet he was with-held by the fears of his
father, who he thought would not approve of such a step, as the
fortune he imagined she had a right to, was yet undetermined, and
himself, tho' an elder son, and the undoubted heir of a very good
estate, at present wholly dependant on him. - He communicated his
sentiments to Harriot on this head with the utmost sincerity,
protesting at the same time that he should never enjoy a moment's
tranquility till he could call her his own.

She seemed to approve of the caution he testified; - said it was such
as she had always resolved religiously to observe herself; 'tho' I
know not,' cried she, looking on him with the most passionate air,
'how far I might have been tempted to break thro' all for your sake;
but it is well one of us is wise enough to foresee and tremble at the
consequences of a marriage between two persons whose fortunes are
unestablished.' - Then, finding he made her no other answer than some
kisses, accompanied with a strenuous embrace, she went on; 'there is a
way,' resumed she, 'to secure us to each other, without danger of
disobliging any body; and that is by a contract: I never can be easy,
while I think there is a possibility of your transferring your
affection to some other, and if you love me with half that degree of
tenderness you pretend, you cannot but feel the same anxiety.'

Natura was charmed with this proposition, and it was agreed between
them, that her lawyer should draw up double contracts in form, which
should be signed and delivered interchangeably by both parties.
Accordingly, the very next day, the fatal papers were prepared, and he
subscribed his name to that which was to remain in her custody, as she
did her's to that given to him. Each being witnessed by the woman with
whom he first became acquainted with her, and another person called
into the room for that purpose.

Natura now considering her as his wife, thought himself intitled to
take greater liberties than he had ever presumed to do before, and she
had also a kind of a pretence for permitting them, till at last there
remained nothing more for him to ask, or her to grant.

Enjoyment made no abatement in his passion; his fondness was rather
increased by it, and he never thought himself happy, but when with
her; he went to her almost every night, and sometimes passed all night
with her, having made an interest with one of the servants, who let
him in at whatever hour he came: - so totally did she engross his mind,
that he seemed to have not the least attention for any thing beside:
nor was the time he wasted with her all the prejudice she did
him: - all the allowance made him by his father for cloaths and other
expences, he dissipated in treats and presents to her, running in debt
for every thing he had occasion for.

But this was insufficient for her expectations; she wanted a sum of
money, and pretending that her law-suit required a hundred guineas
immediately, and that some remittances she was to have from the
country would come too late, told him he must raise it for her some
way or other.

This demand was a kind of thunder-stroke to Natura; not but he doated
on her enough to have sacrificed infinitely more to her desires, if in
his power; but what she asked seemed so wholly out of reach, that he
knew not any way by which there was the least probability of attaining
it. The embarrassment that appeared in his countenance made her see it
was not so easy for him to grant, as it was for her to ask. 'I should
have wanted courage,' said she, 'to have made you this request, had I
not considered that what is mine must one day be yours, and it will be
your own unhappiness as well as mine, should my cause miscarry for
want of means to carry it on.' - 'Severe necessity!' added she, letting
fall some tears, 'that reduces me to intreat favours where I could
wish only to bestow them.'

These words destroyed all the remains of prudence his love had left in
him; he embraced her, kissed away her tears, and assured her that
though, as he was under age, and had but a small allowance from his
father, it was not at this time very easy for him to comply with her
demand, yet she might depend upon him for the money the next day, let
it cost what it would, or whatever should be the consequence.

He left her that night much sooner than was his custom, in order to
consult within himself on the means of fulfilling his promise to her,
which, to have failed in, would have been more terrible to him than
death.




CHAP. V.

That to indulge any one fault, brings with it the temptation of
committing others, is demonstrated by the behaviour of Natura, and
the misfortunes and disgrace which an ill-judged shame had like to
have involved him in.


Never had Natura experienced so cruel a night; a thousand stratagems
came into his head, but for some reason or other all seemed alike
impracticable, and the morning found him in no more easy a
situation. - He put on his cloaths hastily, and resolved to go to all
the acquaintance he had in the world, and try the friendship of each,
by borrowing what sums he thought they might be able to spare: but
first, going into his father's closet, as was his custom every morning
to pay his duty to him, he found a person with him who was paying him
a large sum of money: the sight of what he so much wanted filled him
with inexpressible agitations: - he would have given almost a limb to
have had in his possession so much of that shining ore as Harriot
expected from him; and wished that some sudden accident, even to the
falling of the house, would happen, that in the confusion he might
seize on some part of the treasure he saw before him.

The person, after the affair which brought him there was over, took
leave of the father of Natura, who having thrown the money into his
bureau, to a large heap was there before, waited on him down stairs,
without staying to lock the drawer.

Often had Natura been present when his father received larger sums
than this, and doubtless had the same opportunity as now to make
himself master of some part, or all of it; but never till this unhappy
exigence had the least temptation to do so. - It came into his head
that the accident was perfectly providential, and that he ought not to
neglect the only means by which he could perform his promise; - that
his father could very well spare the sum he wanted, and that it was
only taking before the time what by inheritance must be his own
hereafter. - In this imagination he opened the drawer, and was about to
pursue his intention, when he recollected that the money would
certainly be missed, and either the fault be laid upon some innocent
person, who might suffer for his crime; or he himself would be
suspected of a thing, which, in this second thought, he found so mean
and wicked, that he was shocked almost to death, for having been
capable of even a wish to be guilty of it. - He shut the drawer
again, - turned himself away, and was in the utmost confusion of mind,
when his father returned into the room; which shews that there is a
native honesty in the human nature, which nothing but a long practice
of base actions can wholly eradicate: and I dare believe that even
those we see most hardened in vice, have felt severe struggles within
themselves at first, and have often looked back upon the paths of
virtue, wishing, tho' fruitlesly, to return.

Natura, however, did not give over his pursuit of the means of
performing his promise: on the contrary, he thought himself obliged by
all the ties of love, honour, and even self-interest, to do it; but
difficult as he believed the task would be, he found it much more so
than he could even have imagined: his intimacy being only with such,
as being much of his own age, and like him were at an allowance from
their parents or guardians, it was not in the power of any of them to
contribute a large sum toward making up that he wanted; the most he
got from any one being no more than five guineas, and all he raised
among the whole amounted to no more than twenty, and some odd pounds.

Distracted with his ill fortune, he ventured to go to an uncle he had
by the mother's side, and after many complaints of his father's
parsimony, told him, that having been drawn into some expences, which,
though not extravagant, were more than his little purse could supply,
he had broke into some money given him to pay his taylor, whom he
feared would demand it of his father, and he knew not how far the
ill-will of his mother-in-law might exaggerate the matter; concluding
with an humble petition for twenty guineas, which he told him he would
faithfully return by degrees.

As Natura had the character of a sober youth, the good old gentleman
was moved by the distress he saw him in, and readily granted his
request, tho' not without some admonitions to confine for the future
his expences to his allowance, be it ever so small.

Thus Natura having with all his diligence not been able to raise quite
half of the sum in question, was quite distracted what to do, and as
he afterwards owned, more than once repented him of those scruples
which had prevented him from serving himself at once out of his
father's purse; tho' had the same opportunity again presented itself,
it is scarce possible to believe by the rest of his behaviour, that he
would have made use of it, or if he had, that he could have survived
the shame and remorse it would have caused in him.

In his desperation he ran at last to the house of a noted
money-scrivener, a great acquaintance of the family, and in his whose
hands his father frequently reposed his ready cash: to this man he
communicates his distress, and easily prevails with him to let him


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Online LibraryEliza Fowler HaywoodLife's Progress Through The Passions Or, The Adventures of Natura → online text (page 3 of 16)