Eliza Fowler Haywood.

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

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have fifty pounds, on giving him a note to pay him an hundred for it
when he should come of age, his father having said he would then make
a settlement on him.

This, however, was still somewhat short of what Harriot had demanded;
but he left his watch at a pawn-broker's for the rest; and having
compleated the sum, went transported with joy, and threw it into the
lap of that idol of his soul; after which, he was for some days
perfectly at ease, indulging himself with all he at present wished
for, and losing no time in thought of what might happen to interrupt
his happiness.

But while he battened in the sun-shine of his pleasures, storms of
vexation were gathering over his head, which, when he least expected
such a shock, poured all their force upon him.

The first time his uncle happened to see his father, he fell on the
topic of the necessity there was for young gentlemen born to estates,
and educated in a liberal manner, to be enabled to keep his equals
company; adding, that if the parsimony of a parent, denied them an
allowance, agreeable to their rank, it might either drive them to ill
courses, or force them to associate themselves only with mean,
low-bred people, among whom they might lose all the politeness had
been inculcated into them. The father of Natura, well knowing he had
nothing to answer for on this account, never suspected this discourse
was directed to him in particular, and joined in his brother-in-law's
opinion, heartily blaming those parents, who, by being too sparing to
their children, destroyed all natural affection in them, and gave them
some sort of an excuse for wishing for their death: - he thanked God he
was not of that disposition, and then told him what he allowed per
quarter to Natura, 'with which,' added he, 'I believe he is intirely
satisfied.' The other replying, that indeed he thought it more than
sufficient, the conversation dropped; but what sentiments he now began
to conceive of his nephew it is easy to conceive; the father however
thought no farther of this, till soon after the scrivener came to wait
on him: - he was a perfect honest man, and had lent Natura the money
meerly to prevent his applying to some other person, who possibly
might have taken advantage of his thoughtlessness, so far as even to
have brought on his utter ruin, too many such examples daily happening
in the world: to deter him also from going on in this course, he
demanded that exorbitant interest for his money abovementioned, which,
notwithstanding, as he assured his father, in relating to him the
whole transaction, he was far from any intention to make him pay.

Never was astonishment greater than that in which the father of Natura
was now involved; - the discourse of his brother-in-law now came fresh
into his mind, and he recollected some words which, tho' he did not
observe at the time they were spoken, now convinced him had a meaning
which he could not have imagined there was any room for. - He had no
sooner parted from the scrivener, than he flew to that gentleman, and
having related to him what had passed between him and the scrivener,
conjured him, if he could give him any farther lights into the affair,
not to keep him in ignorance: on which the other thought it his duty
to conceal nothing, either of the complaints, or request had been made
him by his nephew: - after some exclamations on the extravagance and
thoughtlessness of youth, the afflicted father went in search of more
discoveries, which he found it but too easy to make among the
tradesmen, all of whom he found had been unpaid for some time.

It would be needless to go about to make any description of the
confusion of mind he was in: - he shut himself in his closet, uncertain
for some time how he should proceed; at last, as he considered there
was not a possibility of reclaiming his son from whatever vice had led
him thus all at once into such extravagancies, without first knowing
what kind of vice it was; he resolved to talk to him, and penetrate,
if possible, into the source of this evil.

Accordingly the next morning he went into the chamber where Natura was
yet in bed; and began to entertain him in the manner he had proposed
to himself: - first, he let him know, that he was not unacquainted with
every step he had taken for raising a sum, which he could not conceive
he had any occasion for, as well as his having with-held the money he
had given him to discharge his tradesmen's bills: - then proceeded to
set before his eyes the folly and danger of having hid, at his years,
any secrets from a parent; concluding with telling him, he had yet a
heart capable or forgiving what was past, provided he would behave in
a different manner for the future.

What Natura felt at finding so much of what he had done revealed to
his father, was greatly alleviated, by perceiving that the main thing,
his engagement with Harriot, was a secret to him: - he did not fail to
make large promises of being a better oeconomist, nor to express the
most dutiful gratitude for the pardon the good old gentleman so
readily offered; but this he told him was not sufficient to deserve a
re-establishment in his favour, he must also give him a faithful
account by what company, and for what purposes he had been induced to
such ill husbandry; 'for,' added he, 'without a sincere confession of
the motives of our past transactions, there can be little assurances
of future amendment.'

Natura to this only answered, that it was impossible to recount the
particulars of his expences, and made so many evasions, on his
father's still continuing to press his being more explicit, that he
easily perceived there would be no coming at the truth by gentle
means; and therefore, throwing off at once a tenderness so
ineffectual, he assumed all the authority of an offended parent, and
told the trembling Natura, that since he knew not how to behave as a
_son_, he should cease to be a _father_, in every thing but in his
authority: - 'be assured,' said be, 'I shall take sure measures to
prevent you from bringing either ruin or disgrace upon a family of
which you are the first profligate: - this chamber must be your prison,
till I have considered in what fashion I shall dispose of you.'

With these words he flung out of the room, locking the door after him;
so that when Natura rose, as he immediately did, he found himself
indeed under confinement, which seemed so shameful a thing to him, that
he was ready to tear himself in pieces: - it was not the grief of having
offended so good a father, but the disgrace of the punishment inflicted
on him, which gave him the most poignant anguish, and far from feeling
any true contrition, he was all rage and madness, which having no means
to vent in words, discovered itself in sullenness: - when the servant to
whom he intrusted the key came in to bring him food, he refused to eat,
and could scarce restrain himself from throwing in the man's face what
he had brought.

It is certain, that while under this circumstance, he was agitated at
once by every different unruly passion: - pride, anger, spleen,
thinking himself a man, at finding the treatment of a _boy_, made him
almost hate the person from whom he received it. - The apprehensions
what farther meaning might be couched in the menace with which his
father left him, threw him sometimes into a terror little different
from convulsive; - but above all, his impatience for seeing his dear
Harriot, and the surprize, the grief, and perhaps the resentment, he
imagined she must feel on his absenting himself, drove him into a kind
of despair.

In fine, unable to sustain the violence of his agitations, on the
third night, regardless of what consequences might ensue from giving
this additional cause of displeasure to his father, he found means to
push back the lock of his chamber, and flew down stairs, and out at
the street-door with so much speed, that it would have been impossible
to have stopped him, had any one heard him, which none happened to do,
it being midnight, and all the family in a sound sleep.

That he went directly to the lodgings of Harriot, I believe my reader
will make no doubt; but perhaps her character does not yet enough
appear, to give any suspicion of the reception he found there.

In effect, she was no other than one of those common creatures, who
procure a miserable subsistance by the prostitution of their charms;
and as nature had not been sparing to her on that score, and she was
yet young, though less so than she appeared thro' art, she wanted not
a number of gallants, who all contributed, more or less, to her living
in the manner she did: several of these had happened to come when
Natura was with her; but she having had the precaution to acquaint
them with her design of drawing in this young spark for a husband,
they took the cue she gave them, each passing before him either for a
cousin, or one of the lawyers employed in her pretended suit.

It was with one of these equally happy, tho' less deluded rivals of
Natura, that finding he did not come, she had agreed to pass this
night; and her maid, as the servants of such women, for the most part,
imitate their mistresses, happened to be at the door, either about to
introduce, or let out a lover of her own; - the sight of a man at that
time of night, with one who belonged to his beloved, immediately fired
Natura with jealousy: - he seized the fellow by the collar, and in a
voice hoarse with rage, asked him what business he had there? To which
the other replied only with a blow on the face, the wench shrieked out,
but Natura was either stronger or more nimble than his competitor; he
presently tripped up his heels, and ran up stairs. - Harriot and her
lover hearing somewhat of a scuffle, the latter started out of bed, and
opened the chamber-door, in order to listen what had occasioned it,
just as Natura had reached the stair-case. - If his soul was inflamed
before, what must it now have been, to see a man in his shirt, and just
risen from the arms of Harriot, who still lay trembling in bed: - he
flew upon him like an incensed lion; but the other being more robust,
soon disengaged himself and snatching his sword, which lay on a table
near the door, was going to put an end to the life of his disturber;
when Harriot cried out, 'Hold! hold! - for heaven's sake! - It is my
husband!' - Natura having no weapon wherewith he might defend himself,
or hurt his adversary, revenge gave way to self-preservation; and only
saying, 'husband, no; - I will die rather than be the husband of so vile
a woman,' run down with the same precipitation he had come up.

Impossible it is to describe the condition of his mind when got into
the street: - his once violent affection was now converted into the
extremest hatred and contempt; - he detested not only Harriot, and the
whole sex, but even himself, for having been made the dupe of so
unworthy a creature, and could have tore out his own heart, for having
joined with her in deceiving him. - Having wandered about some time,
giving a loose to his fury, the considerations of what he should do,
at last took their turn: - home he could not go, the servant who used
to admit him knew nothing of his being out, and he durst not alarm the
family by knocking at the door, having passed by several times, and
found all fast.

In this perplexity, as he went through a street he had not been used
to frequent, he saw a door open, and a great light in a kind of hall,
with servants attending: - he asked one of them to whom it belonged,
and was told it was a gaming-house, on which he went in, not with any
desire of playing, but to pass away some time; finding a great deal of
company there, he notwithstanding engaged himself at one of the
tables, and tho' he was not in a humour which would permit him to
exert much skill, he won considerably.

The company did not break up till five in the morning, and he then
growing drowsy, and yet unable to find any excuse to make to his
father, he could not think of seeing his face, so went to a bagnio to
take that repose he had sufficient need of, the fatigues of his mind
having never suffered him to enjoy any sound sleep, since his father's
discovery of the extravagance he had been guilty of.

On his awaking, the transaction of the preceding night returned to his
remembrance with all its galling circumstances, and the more he
reflected on his disobedience to his father, the less he could endure
the thoughts of coming into his presence: - in fine, that shame which
so often prevents people from doing amiss, was now the motive which
restrained him from doing what he ought to have done. - Had he
immediately gone home, thrown himself at his father's feet, and
confessed the truth, his youthful errors had doubtless merited
forgiveness; but this, though he knew it was both his duty, and his
interest, he could not prevail on himself to do; and to avoid the
rebukes he was sensible were due to his transgressions, he resolved to
hide himself as long as he could from the faces of all those who had a
right to make them.

In fine, he led the life of a perfect vagabond, sculking from one
place to another, and keeping company with none but gamesters, rakes,
and sharpers, falling into all manner of dissolution; and whenever his
reason remonstrated any thing to him on these vicious courses, he
would then, to banish remorse for one fault, fly to others, yet worse,
and more destructive.

It is true, he often looked back upon his _former_ behaviour, and was
struck with horror at comparing it with the _present_; - the reflection
too how much his mother-in-law might take advantage of the just
displeasure of his father against him, to prejudice him in his future
fortune, even to cause him to be disinherited, sometimes most cruelly
alarmed him; yet, not all this, nor the wants he was plunged in on an
ill run at play, (which was the sole means by which he subsisted) were
sufficient to bring him to do that which he now even wished to do,
tired with the conversation of those profligates, and secretly shocked
at the scenes of libertinism he was a daily witness of.

His thoughts thus divided and perplexed, he at length fell into a kind
of despair; and not caring what became of himself, he resolved to
enter on board some ship, and never see England again, unless fortune
should do more than he had reason to hope for in his favour.




CHAP. VI.

Shews the great force of natural affection and the good effects it
has over a grateful mind.


If children could be sensible of parental tenderness, or knew what
racking cares attend every misdoing of an offending offspring, the
heart of Natura would have been so much touched with what his father
endured on his account, as to have enabled him to have got the better
of that guilty shame, which alone hindered him from submitting to him;
but conscious of deferring only the severest reproofs, he could not
flatter himself there was a hope of ever being reinstated in that
affection he had once possessed, and was too proud to content himself
with less.

That afflicted parent being informed of his son's flight, spared no
cost or pains to find out the place of his retreat; but all his
enquiries were in vain, and he was wholly in the dark, till it came
into his head to search a little escritore which stood in his chamber,
and of which he had taken away the key: on breaking it open, he found
the counterpart of his contract with Harriot, and by that discovery
was no longer at a loss for the motives which had obliged his son to
raise money, not doubting but the woman was either extremely indigent;
or a jilt: but to think the heir of his estate had been so weak as to
enter into so solemn and irretrievable an engagement, with a person of
either of these characters, gave him an inexpressible disquiet. All
his endeavours were now bent on finding her out, not in the least
questioning but his son was with her: the task was pretty difficult,
the contract discovering no more of her than her name, and the parish
in which she lived; yet did the emissaries he employed at last
surmount it: they brought him word not only of the exact place where
she lodged, but also of her character, as they learned it from the
neighbours; they heard also that a young gentleman, whose description
answered that of Natura, had been often seen with her, and that she
had given out she was married to him.

The father having received this information, consulted with his
brother-in-law what course was to be taken, and both being of opinion,
that should any enquiry be made concerning Natura, it would only
oblige them to quit their lodgings, and fly to some place where,
perhaps, it would be more difficult to trace them; it was agreed to
get a lord chief justice's warrant, and search her lodgings, without
giving any previous alarm.

This was no sooner resolved than put in execution: the father and
uncle, attended by proper officers, burst into the house, and examined
carefully every part of it; but not finding him, they sought, and
perfectly perswaded Harriot could give intelligence of him, they
threatened her severely, and here she displayed herself in her proper
colours; - nothing ever behaved with greater impudence: - she told them,
that she knew nothing of the fool they wanted; but if she could find
him, would make him know what the obligations between them exacted
from him: in fine, it was easy for them to perceive, there was nothing
satisfactory to be obtained from her, and they departed with akeing
hearts, but left not the street without securing to their interest a
person in the neighbourhood, who promised to keep a continual eye upon
her door, and if they ever saw the young gentleman go in, to send them
immediate notice.

It is needless to acquaint the reader how fruitless this precaution
was: Natura was far from any inclination ever more to enter that
detested house, and in that desponding humour, already mentioned, had
certainly left the kingdom, and compleated his utter undoing, if
Providence had not averted his design, by the most unexpected means.

He was at Wapping, in the company of some persons who used the sea, in
order to get into some ship, he cared not in what station, when a
young man, clerk to an eminent merchant of his father's acquaintance,
happened to come in, to enquire after the master of a vessel, by whom
some goods belonging to his master were to be shipped: he had often
seen Natura, and though much altered by his late way of living, knew
him to be the person whom he had heard so great a search had been made
after: he took no notice of him however, as he found the other bent
earnestly in discourse did not observe him, but privately informed
himself of all he could relating to his business there, and as soon as
he came home acquainted his master with the discovery he had made, who
did not fail to let his father know it directly.

It is hard to say, whether joy at hearing of his son, or grief at
hearing he was in so miserable a condition, was most predominant in
him; but the first emotions of both being a little moderated, the
consideration of what was to be done, took place: - the clerk having
found out that he was lodged in an obscure house at that place, in
order to get on board the first ship that sailed, the father would
needs go himself, and the merchant offering to accompany him in their
little journey, a plan of proceeding was formed between them, which
was executed in the following manner.

They went together into a tavern, and sent to the house the clerk had
directed, under pretence, that hearing a young man was there who had
an inclination for the sea, a master of a ship would be glad to treat
with him on that affair. - Natura, happily for him, not having yet an
opportunity of engaging himself, obeyed the summons, and followed the
messenger: - his father withdrew into another room, but so near as to
hear what passed, and there was only the merchant to receive him; but
the sight of one he so little expected in that place, and whom he knew
was so intimate in their family, threw him into a most terrible
consternation. He started back, and had certainly quitted the house,
if the merchant, aware of his intention, had not catched hold of him,
and getting between him and the door, compelled him to sit down while
he talked to him.

He began with asking what had induced him to think of leaving England
in the manner he was going to do; - reminded him of the estate to which
he was born, the family from which he was descended, and the education
which he had received; and then set before his eyes the tenderness
with which his father had used him, the grief to which he had exposed
him, and above all the madness of his present intentions: - Natura knew
all this as well as he that remonstrated to him; but as he had not
been capable of listening to his own reflections on that head, all
that was said had not the least effect upon him, and the merchant
could get no other answer from him, than that as things had happened,
he had no other course to take.

The truth was, that as he could not imagine by what means the merchant
was apprized of his design, he thought his father was also not
ignorant of it; and as he did not vouchsafe either to come in person,
or send any message to him from himself, and perhaps was even ignorant
that the merchant had any intention of reclaiming him, he looked upon
it as a confirmation of his having intirely thrown off all care of
him, and in this supposition he became more resolute than ever in his
mind, to go where he never might be heard of more.

'What though,' said the merchant, 'you have been guilty of some
youthful extravagancies, I am perfectly assured there requires no more
than your submitting to intreat forgiveness, to receive: come,'
continued he, 'I will undertake to be your mediator, and dare answer I
shall prevail.' - 'No, sir,' replied Natura, 'I am conscious of having
offended beyond all possibility of a pardon; - nor can I ever bear to
see my father again.'

The merchant laboured all he could to overcome this mingled pride and
shame, which he perceived was the only obstacle to his return to duty;
but to no purpose, Natura continued obstinate and inflexible, till his
father, having no longer patience to keep himself concealed, rushed
into the room, and looking on his son with a countenance which, in
spite of all the severity he had endeavoured to assume, betrayed only
tenderness and grief. - 'So, young man,' said he, 'you think it then my
place to seek a reconciliation, and are perhaps too stubborn to accept
forgiveness, even though I should condescend to offer it.'

Natura was so thunderstruck at the appearance of his father, and the
manner in which he accosted him, that he was far from being able to
speak one word, but threw himself at his feet, with a look which
testified nothing but confusion: that action, however, denoting that
he had not altogether forgot himself, melted the father's heart; he
raised him, and forcing him to sit down in a chair close by him;
'Well, Natura,' said he, 'you have been disobedient to an excess; I
wish it were possible for your distresses to have given you a remorse
in proportion; - I am still a _father_, if you can be a _son._' - He
would have proceeded, but was not able: - the meagre aspect, dejected
air, and wretched appearance of a son so dear to him, threw him into a
condition which destroyed all the power of maintaining that reserve
which he thought necessary to his character.

Natura, on the other hand, was so overcome with the unhoped-for
gentleness of his behaviour, that he burst into a flood of
tears. - Filial gratitude and love, joined with the thoughts of what he
had done to deserve a far different treatment, so overwhelmed his
heart, that he could express himself no other way than by falling on
his knees a second time, and embracing the legs of his father, with a
transport, I know not whether to say of grief or joy; continued in
that posture for a considerable time, overwhelmed at once with shame,
with gratitude, and love: - at length, gaining the power of
utterance, - 'O sir,' cried he, 'how unworthy am I of your
goodness!' - but then recollecting as it were somewhat more; 'yet
sure,' pursued he, 'it is not possible you can forgive me all. - I have
been guilty of worse than, perhaps, you yet have been informed of: - I
am a wretch who have devoted myself to infamy and destruction, and you
cannot, nay ought not to forgive me.'

The father was indeed very much alarmed at this expression, as fearing
it imported his distresses had drove him to be guilty of some crime of
which the law takes cognizance. - 'I hope,' said he, 'your having


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Online LibraryEliza Fowler HaywoodLife's Progress Through The Passions Or, The Adventures of Natura → online text (page 4 of 16)